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The End Of The World As We Know It [Closed]

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#21
Like most healers of Cauthrien’s acquaintance, Sofia was a middling patient, at best, and didn’t always follow the advice that she dispensed. She did let the Warden Constable tend her injuries, at least, but rejected the notion of rest, though she looked very nearly as exhausted as Cauthrien felt.

Andiamo,” she demurred, coming to her feet and extending a hand. “We must report this as soon as possible.” She was right. Cauthrien took her hand, but tried to use it only as balance while she pushed herself upright under her own power. Even without the bulk of her armor, she was heavier than Sofia, and the mage looked ready to tip over as it was.

Speaking of her armor - “This, we may have to leave and retrieve later,” Sofia remarked, glancing at the hauberk and pauldrons. “Not your sword.” Despite the pain, Cauthrien felt her lips twitch into a smile at the hasty qualifier. “But better to the gates in one piece, minus your armour, than not reach the gates at all because we stopped to pick up everything.”

Cauthrien nodded. The mere idea of having to bend over, heft the weight of the chain and plate, and secure it on Dragon, made the throbbing in her head intensify. Crouching, she retrieved the Summer Sword, returned it to the scabbard and settled the harness into place across her back, then moved to Dragon. The roan snorted and pawed at the snow as she approached, but did not shy away. The sweat on his hide was beginning to freeze, and was mixed with blood over the bloody gouges on his rump.

“Enough,” she chided him, catching his bridle and tugging his head down, feeling the warmth of his breath gusting against her face. “You did good, you ugly bastard,” she said with gruff affection, scratching along his neck and ears. “Just a little longer.” He snorted again and butted her chest with his nose - gently for him, but still nearly enough in her current condition to knock her off her feet. His wounds were ugly, but not deep; they could be tended once they were back at the compound. Taking a fortifying breath, she hauled herself up into the saddle, then shifted back and held a hand out to Sofia.

“You’ll have to guide him,” she admitted. Already, the relief afforded by the healing magic was beginning to fade, and the pain in her skull was beginning to thunder back towards a crescendo that promised to return to blinding intensity in a very short time. The only sure cure for these headaches was several days of rest in a dark and quiet room … and for that, they’d have to get back to Denerim.
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
74
#22
She’d earned a smile, sort of. Sofia was aware that Cauthrien would rather not be parted from her sword if she could avoid it, and she calculated that they could at least take that. Dragon would have enough to be going on with carrying them both, let alone with the injuries to his rump, and a sword would about top what he could manage. Maybe not even then, but Sofia clung to hope anyway.

Cauthrien had gained her feet and was now approaching Dragon, who, mercifully, didn’t flee from them. Sofia kept close, mindful of what she’d seen the warhorse try to get away with, but other than butting Cauthrien with his head (Sofia immediately rested one hand against Cauthrien’s back), he behaved. Cauthrien got herself into the saddle and Sofia followed, putting as little of her weight on the other woman as she could.
“You’ll have to guide him.”

Sofia had expected as much. Horseback riding was already a bad idea for somebody with a headache, and for somebody who had massively overextended themselves on a purely mental ability, it would be agony. By the time they reached the Denerim gates, it would be a miracle if Cauthrien had not temporarily lost her sight again. Firmly, she reached behind her and drew Cauthrien’s arms firmly around her waist. “Hold tight. If I feel you slipping, I’m going to stop.”

She took the reins. Dragon’s head was canted slightly to the side, one ear turned in her direction. Sofia imagined he was currently weighing the benefits of bucking both of them off. She patted the side of his neck. “Come on, Dragon. The sooner we get to Denerim, the sooner we get off you. And if you run away nobody’s healing your rear.”

While he couldn’t have understood her words, perhaps he had come to the same conclusion on his own. Dragon turned in the direction of the city, and broke into a fast trot.

She quickly lost the passage of time. Everything came down to keeping herself upright, wary for any indication that Cauthrien was losing consciousness, straining within herself for even the slightest drips of magic she could spend on either her friend or Dragon. But the well, for the moment, was dry. She had lost a glove somewhere in casting, and the wind bit her fingers on the reins. Every step Dragon took shook her bones, and Maker knew what it was doing to Cauthrien. Around them, the winter had made the trees barren and the landscape largely featureless. It felt as though they had been doing this for an eternity.

And then the trees thinned, the road widened and there were wide fields on either side of them, and the high walls of Denerim ahead. Perhaps excited by the prospect of getting rid of both of them, Dragon broke into a run and Sofia clung to Cauthrien’s arm as hard as she could. As they reached the gate, Dragon didn’t respond to her tugging on the reins or the cries of the guard on watch – he bolted through the city, scattering citizens, and didn’t stop running until he reached the compound.

Immediately there were what seemed like dozens of people around them, helping them down, concerned voices, questions. Sofia spoke over them, as loud as she could, although her voice rasped with exhaustion. “Someone call the captain of the guard. And get the Warden-Constable to the infirmary, quickly!”
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#23
Cauthrien registered very little of the ride back to Denerim apart from the cold and the pain that jolted up her spine into her skull with every stride that Dragon took. She kept her eyes closed, her forehead resting on Sofia’s shoulder, trying to keep as much of her weight as possible off the smaller woman while still holding onto her to maintain her balance. Once, she turned her head, cracking her eyes open in response to a keening wail in the distance; another rift shimmered in the air several hundred yards away, half a dozen demons milling about beneath it, though thankfully none of them like the monstrosity they had encountered earlier.

She squeezed her eyes shut again, spitting out oaths between clenched teeth as she doggedly tamped down the urge to battle. She couldn’t fight a kitten in her present condition; she could accomplish nothing besides getting herself killed and likely Sofia with her. Assuming that the mage could even stop Dragon now that he was bound for home

The relative silence of the countryside gave way to the noise of the city: Dragon’s hooves clattering on cobblestones, the clamoring of the crowds in the market, punctuated by shouts of alarm and anger as the horse barreled through at a gallop. Every sound slammed into her like a mace to the skull, and the smells of sweat, smoke and shit rose up in a suffocating wave, sharpening the nausea from the headache until it was nearly overwhelming.

Dragon staggered to a halt, trembling with exhaustion, and Cauthrien could feel the heat radiating from the gelding’s flanks. People swarmed around them, hands reaching out to help first Sofia, then Cauthrien dismount.

“Someone call the captain of the guard,” Sofia’s hoarse voice rose over the clamor of questions. “And get the Warden-Constable to the infirmary, quickly!”

Cauthrien shook her head, immediately regretted it as she staggered sideways into what felt like a wall.

“I’ve got you, ser.” Roland, supporting her easily.

“My quarters,” she growled, near desperate to draw the curtains, close the door and bask in darkness, silence and stillness. Then - “Demons -”

“We know.” Muriel’s voice, calm and level amidst the chaos, and a moment later, a wave of healing magic washed through Cauthrien, pushing the agony back a bit. “Reports started coming in this morning,” the mage went on as she turned to tend to Sofia. “The city guard is on alert, as are the templars that are still with the Chantry.”

Cauthrien pushed herself away from Roland, swaying, trying to think. They needed to know … to know ... “Can’t fight them,” she managed. “Just brings more. Stay away. Need to warn the King, Nate. Joffrey -”

“Right here, ser, as is Captain Tanner.”

She forced her eyes open, squinting at the pair through the starbursts of pain. “Keep people away from the rifts,” she told them, forcing each word out. “Fight the demons away from them if you have to, but -”

“We know,” Tanner told her grimly. “The bastards made mincemeat of a guard patrol outside the city. Everyone is staying clear, picking off the demons that stray away from the rifts. Nobody knows what happened,” he added, anticipating her question.

“Something happened to the Veil.” Not just a localized phenomena. “Knight-Commander Tavish -”

“We’ll get a message to him, as well.” No one was apparently going to let her finish a sentence, and now Muriel was ducking under her arm, draping it across her shoulders. “Stop that or I’ll have Roland carry you,” the mage scolded her when she attempted to pull away. Cauthrien might command this compound, but in matters of healing, Muriel had been in charge ever since Anders had deserted, and her threat was not an idle one. “Joffrey, help Sofia get to the infirmary,” she went on as Cauthrien leaned into her, with Tanner stepping to support her on the other side.

Sudden worry brought Cauthrien’s head up, and she nearly toppled over backwards trying to look around. “Is she all right?” she demanded. If Sofia had been concealing an injury -

“She’s in better condition than you are,” Muriel informed her impatiently, steadying her and nudging her forward again. “Joffrey can get the information he needs for the missives from her; you are on bed rest, effective immediately.”
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
74
#24
The moment Sofia’s feet hit the ground, she knew she’d run dry. There wasn’t even enough strength in her legs to keep her upright; she came out of the saddle with none of her usual dignity, and had to cling to Dragon’s reins to stay upright. Fortunately she didn’t have to support her weight for long. One of the grooms caught her, and then Joffrey was sliding his arm beneath hers. She sagged gratefully against him, but her mind was spinning from the hefty dose of fear and the urgent need, against all the directives her body was giving, to keep going long enough to brief everyone on the situation.

An impulse shared by Cauthrien. Even though her companion was beyond exhausted and probably almost blind at this point, she was rattling out what she could, although with frequent interruptions she barely managed to get a sentence out. Still, she demanded to be taken to her quarters rather than the infirmary. Sofia couldn’t even think of the right course of action at this point. A sea of voices washed against the shores of her mind, offering comfort, release, power to turn back whatever had happened to the sky…

Muriel was in front of her, lifting her face to meet her eyes. The flicker of acknowledgement between them passed within a moment, and it grounded Sofia. The other healer waited until Sofia nodded - she would not be tempted - and then stepped back, as orders and reassurances flew back and forth and Sofia leaned on Joffrey. She needed rest and she was within a breath of taking it right here.

“Joffrey, help Sofia get to the infirmary.”

“Is she all right?” The bark in Cauthrien’s tone was proof enough that she’d be all right eventually; if she could be this hurt and still manage to sound both concerned and potentially annoyed over being kept in the dark, she would pick herself back up after a few days.

Not that she was going to have to.

She’s in better condition than you are. Joffrey can get the information he needs for the missives from her; you are on bed rest, effective immediately.”

“She saved a lot of lives today,” Sofia croaked. “Take care of her.” Ideally she’d much rather have Cauthrien in the infirmary as well, so she could check on her once her magic was restored; but what the other woman really needed at the moment was a dark room and a rest, and then food when she awoke.

She reached for Cauthrien as she and Joffrey passed her, squeezing her hand gently. “Thank you, amiga. I’ll come to see you when I’ve recovered.”

With that, she fell into Joffrey’s grasp; there were a few urgent whispers as he lifted her off the floor, and she surrendered gratefully to the pull of exhausted sleep.
 
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