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Who's Afraid Of The Bald Dread Wolf? [Closed]

Varric Tethras

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#1
((Bloomingtide 13, 9:44, The Winter Palace; Sati Adaar ))

Being a Viscount had its perks. Not near enough to make up for the headaches, mind you, but it did mean that none of the dignitaries buzzing around while the healers were looking Lucky over tried to shoo him off, and it meant that he was in line to visit right behind Ruffles, the Seeker, Nightingale and Curly. He might have tried to cut in line on the rest of the Inquisition’s inner circle, but no way was he getting in between Josie and Sati until the ambassador had seen for herself that the Inquisitor was all right.

Apart from missing an arm, anyway.

He sauntered in the door, keeping it casual. She’d likely had more than her fill of people freaking out; the Maker knew he had. Not that Qunari invasions and an ancient Elven god running amok and planning to end the world was exactly the type of thing to incite calm, but running around screaming, “Oh, shit! We’re all gonna die!” didn’t do much for anyone.

“So … that was different,” he ventured, looking her over. “Looks like I’ll be writing a sequel already.” 'Tales of The Inquisition’s Agents' had been published as a serial and done quite well, but 'All This Shit Is Weird' was well on its way to eclipsing every other book he’d written only two months out of the gate. “Gonna be hard to find a better title, though. Maybe, ‘I Swear I’m Not Making This Shit Up’?”

He offered her a little grin, but it faded. “How are you doing?” Not physically … Lucky was as tough as they came on that front, but none of them had seen this coming. Sure, Solas had been strange from the get-go, but to find out that he had been the one to let Corypheus get his hands on the orb … That had been bad enough, but from what Varric had been able to get from Sati after she had stumbled back through that last Eluvian, this Ages-old fuckup was planning to correct his chain of fuckups by fucking up the current world. Because everything else he’d done to this point had gone so swimmingly, right?

“You about ready to bust out of here, or should I get the Iron Lady to arrange another spa day?” Seeing Sati and Vivienne lounging around with cheese on their eyes had been amusing enough that Varric had snagged an artist to do a sketch that he was holding in reserve. He wondered if now might be the time to trot it out, because if anyone looked like they could use a light moment right now, it was Lucky.
 

Sati Adaar

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#2
It was the lack of fingers that kept throwing her off. Several times now she’d reflexively reached for something only to find herself waving the stump pointlessly at whatever object she’d been reaching for. She kept attempting to flex a hand that was no longer there, as though sheer will could bring the use of it back. The truly strange part was how clean it looked, the skin stretched over the end of the limb as though there had never been anything there at all. Solas’ magic had healed her in its entirety – removing both the mark and the wound that its removal had created.

She was not feeling especially grateful for that.

There had been a lot of noise over the last few days. Angry ambassadors, panicking people, the inquisition council fretting over the loss of her arm. Sati was attempting to take it in her stride – as a mercenary, she’d always known that the day might come when she would undergo an amputation, be it during a battle or to save her from an infected wound – but it was hard, knowing she’d never swing Ruin again. She was also less dextrous with her left hand than she had been with her right, and the resulting clumsiness was grating on her. Of course, there was also the fact that Solas had been the cause of this whole mess right from the very beginning, and she should have killed him long ago. His regret over his actions earned him no leeway from Sati, and she knew that at the first opportunity, she would run him through.

Leliana, in her wisdom, had guided Sati to a quiet study room as the Orlesian and Fereldan ambassadors began to debate with one another, removing her from the worst of the squabbling. Josephine had followed, and Sati had let herself be vulnerable in front of the other woman; with Leliana, Cassandra and Cullen, she had been more reserved.

And now here was Varric. Sati managed a slight smile as he leaned against the door. “So…that was different. Looks like I’ll be writing a sequel already. Gonna be hard to find a better title, though. Maybe ‘I Swear I’m Not Making This Shit Up?’

Sati snorted, quietly. “As if anybody would believe that.”

Varric’s grin faded. “How are you doing?”

Sati tried – again – to stretch fingers that no longer existed. “I’m angry. Not so much over this-” she indicated the missing arm. “But the fact that he was right there, all along, having caused the whole mess. And now he’s planning to make it worse.” There was no doubt in her mind that letting the Fade and the real world mix would end in a disaster. The theory had gone that it was exposure to the real world that corrupted spirits and turned them to demons, which meant there was the potential for every single spirit to become a monster. And there were a lot of spirits. Solas wanted to style himself after a wolf?

Then she would hunt him down like a dog.

The poisonous turn of her thoughts was interrupted by Varric, who always showed a knack for preventing her from going down a bad path in her mind. “You about ready to bust out of here, or should I get the Iron Lady to arrange another spa day?”

“Maker, no.” Sati stood up. The spa had been…relaxing, but she still didn’t know what the cheese wheels had been about, and Vivienne had been distinctly judgemental when Sati got bored of lying there and ate them. “I could use a drink.”

Before all of this had happened, she had been toying with the notion of letting the Inquisition be dissolved, before one party or another could attempt to take control of the organisation and suddenly have hundreds of trained soldiers and spies under their command. The former agents would have been able to join with whoever they willed, and the countries could work together to weed out the last problems that Corypheus’ madness had caused. Sati could have finally stepped back from it, gone with Josie wherever her ambassador willed, perhaps even have rejoined the Valo-Kas and taken on jobs in a periphery to wherever Josie was located.

Instead, the Inquisition would be needed in the coming months, and she couldn’t step back from that.
 

Varric Tethras

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#3
She didn’t look too bad, all things considered … and if you didn’t look at where her right hand and forearm were supposed to be. Whatever Chuckles had done to take the arm, it evidently hadn’t hurt the rest of her, though the look in her eyes didn’t suggest she’d be penning any thank-you notes.

His suggested title didn’t get a laugh out of her, which was what he’d been trying for, but her expression did soften somewhat. “As if anybody would believe that,” she replied with a snort.

Varric shrugged. His reputation as Kirkwall’s bullshitter emeritus had been made long before the Inquisition; now, it spanned Thedas, and the fact that the vast majority of what he’d written in the last few years was true (at least seventy-five percent, he was certain) made no difference. And from the looks of things, shit was getting weird again.

“I’m angry,” Lucky said bluntly when asked how she was. “Not so much over this-” she lifted the stump, her eyes on the spot where her hand had once been. “But the fact that he was right there, all along, having caused the whole mess. And now he’s planning to make it worse.”

“Yeah.” Not exactly eloquent, but … shit, it was a twist that he’d never seen coming, and as the resident creator of unexpected plot twists, he should have, damn it. Maybe he needed to start stretching his imagination more if he was going to get out ahead of this.

Sati declined another spa day with Vivienne, and Varric couldn’t blame her. No crackers with the cheese was just cheap. “I could use a drink,” she declared, coming to her feet.

If they left the room, she’d undoubtedly be mobbed again, but fortunately, Varric had that covered. Pulling a silver flask from a pocket in his jacket (did he mention that being Viscount had its perks?), he passed it to her, nodding toward the balcony that looked out over the gardens.

“So …” He leaned against the carved stone railing. “What now? Any idea what his next move is?” Dealing himself in required no thought. He had almost as much of a bone to pick with Chuckles as Lucky did.

And being Viscount was pretty damn boring after helping to save the world. Bran could handle the bitching nobles and bureaucratic bullshit.
 

Sati Adaar

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#4
Sati had been expecting to have to elbow (poor choice of words) her way through a few people to get to the aforementioned drink, but Varric, as he so often did, saved her from dealing with that particular headache. Retrieving a flask from inside his coat, he passed it to her and they headed to the balcony. Sati didn’t pause to take in the view before drawing a long swig of the fiery contents; after a few sessions with the Charges, it wasn’t the strongest she’d ever had, but it fulfilled the twin needs of putting warmth in her belly and easing some of her anger immediately.

Varric leant on the railing. “What now? Any idea what his next move is?”

“His main focus is removing the Veil, so the Fade and the real world become one once more.” And while the ancient magical being might think that a wondrous thing, Sati doubted any elves just going about their business in the cities and farms might think so when spirits started sliding through. Sati wasn’t going to take it for granted that the mingled realms would prevent spirits from becoming corrupted. “We’ll need every mage we have keeping their ear to ground for any weirdness relating to that. But I think what he’ll do first - or at least alongside it - is draw followers to him, and I can only imagine how many would leave the alienages and walk into the unknown in an instant if they thought there might be a chance of reclaiming something like Arlathan.”

Many had done so to become part of the Inquisition, an organisation that offered no special treatment; they’d tried to help whoever needed helping. If Solas’s whispers insinuated that there was an escape from drudgery if the elves followed, it wouldn’t just be the Dalish to watch for. Sati went to pinch the bridge of her nose with her missing hand, cursed under her breath, and set the flask down.

“We’re going to have to watch for spies in the ranks. I don’t think Solas believes we could do anything to stop whatever he needs to do to carry out his plans, but I don’t think he’s as vain as Corypheus. He won’t leave much to chance.” Sati hated having to imply that anybody in the Inquisition could turn traitor, but they would need to be vigilant. “I’m not going to just cast out all the elves, though. Somehow I don’t think all of them will be that keen on his vision for the future.”
 

Varric Tethras

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#5
One of the things that Varric liked about Lucky: no matter how many times she saved the world, she never let it go to her head. She took the proffered flask without hesitation, downing a deep swallow of the whiskey (single malt Nevarran … again, being Viscount had its perks) with an ease that would have had the courtiers outside clutching their chests in polite horror. And she would have done the same thing if they’d been in the room; she definitely looked as though she needed that drink, and he couldn’t really blame her. It didn’t look as though she and Josephine would be riding off into the sunset together just yet, and he didn’t need a great deal of imagination to guess how Ruffles was feeling about that. She wouldn’t be alone, at least; a good many of their former companions had showed up at the Winter Palace, and so far as he knew, they had all stuck around once it became obvious that something was up.

The band was back together; they just needed to know what tune to play.

“His main focus is removing the Veil, so the Fade and the real world become one once more.” Oh, that just sounded like a peachy idea. Why hadn’t they thought of that years ago? Oh, yes: because it fucking sucked. They’d spent better than a year dealing with the clusterfuck that had resulted from just pieces of the Fade escaping into the real world, and this asshat wanted to repeat it on a global scale?

“We’ll need every mage we have keeping their ear to ground for any weirdness relating to that,” Lucky proclaimed somberly. “But I think what he’ll do first - or at least alongside it - is draw followers to him, and I can only imagine how many would leave the alienages and walk into the unknown in an instant if they thought there might be a chance of reclaiming something like Arlathan.”

Varric nodded grimly. That particular bitter harvest was one that humans had spent centuries sowing, and the revelation that the ancient elvhen ‘gods’ had been rich assholes that held their people as slaves a couple of thousand years ago was unlikely to make much of a dent compared to the abuse that just about every elf currently in existence had suffered at the hands of one or more humans. And if Solas’ plan became widely known, the oppression of the elves would become even more harsh.

Sati lifted the stump of her arm toward her face, halted and muttered a few choice words before setting the silver flask aside to pinch the bridge of her nose with her remaining hand. Varric watched, knowing that she wouldn’t be looking for sympathy, but also knowing that this maiming was going to be damned hard for her to adjust to. Her weapons of choice had been her longbow and her greatsword, both of which really needed two hands.

“We’re going to have to watch for spies in the ranks,” she told him. Not that he couldn’t have guessed as much on his own. “I don’t think Solas believes we could do anything to stop whatever he needs to do to carry out his plans, but I don’t think he’s as vain as Corypheus. He won’t leave much to chance.” No, he was a methodical bastard. He’d bided his time among them for all these years, watching and waiting. Who knew how many agents he already had in place? They’d welcomed so damn many elves into their ranks, and once they realized that they were actually considered part of the Inquisition and not servants or scullery workers, they’d brought more. “I’m not going to just cast out all the elves, though. Somehow I don’t think all of them will be that keen on his vision for the future.”

Varric snorted. Sera definitely wouldn’t be signing up for his mailing list, and she had no small amount of influence among the elves of the Inquisition … more than Solas, who had never really seemed to find the plight of contemporary elves as interesting as he had those in his dreams of the past. “Considering he barely acknowledged they existed most of the time, I’m going to guess that not many of them will. The Dalish, on the other hand …” He trailed off, shrugged. He couldn’t say for sure - maybe Daisy would have a better idea - but one of their Old Gods returned to this world, even one viewed with the superstitious dread that they directed toward Fen’Harel, could be a powerful lure.

"And where do the Qunari fit into all of this?" he wanted to know. Their spies were the ones that worried him: the ones who had managed to smuggle gaatlock through the Eluvians and stash enough in the Winter Palace to relocate it to the far side of Tevinter.
 

Sati Adaar

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#6
She didn’t need to spell out the implications of what she was saying to Varric. He commanded a spy network almost as extensive as Leliana’s, and was well versed in piecing together disparate scraps of information to form a picture. The Inquisition could easily tear itself apart in the search for Solas’ agents before they even lifted a finger to prevent his plans. Sati wouldn’t allow that to happen. From the beginning, it had to be made clear that she didn’t hold all elves responsible for the actions of one renegade demigod.

She also doubted that Solas’ ideas would appeal to all of them, and Varric snorted in agreement. “Considering he barely acknowledged they existed most of the time, I’m going to guess that not many of them will. The Dalish, on the other hand …”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I’m hoping that more than a few of them will remember that he’s referred to generally as the Trickster, and approach his plans with caution.” Although she wasn’t going to bank on it. She had spoken to Dalish clans and envoys during Corypheus’ activities, and her time in the Exalted Plains and Emerald Graves had made it clear how much had been robbed from the now-nomadic people. Cultural pride alone might well have a lot of them seizing the opportunity.

“And where do the qunari fit into this?”

Sati was blunt; it would be a disservice to Varric’s intelligence to do otherwise. “They had a grand plan to use the eluviens to allow them access to all the leaders in Thedas and blow them up, in order to pave the way for an invasion. Apparently they wanted to avoid anything like the Breach happening again, and this is how they tried to do it.” It was her turn to snort, although there was no humour in it.

“As far as I can work out, that’s pretty much dead in the water for the moment, although I don’t know how their leaders will react when word gets back. Not that that’s happening for a while, though.” Not with most of the advance party dead and Viddasala rendered into stone. “Solas has been disrupting their plans, so they stepped up their efforts to get rid of him. Apparently he didn’t want them to succeed, so he was kind enough to let us find out.”

Her hand was knotted on the tabletop. If she hadn’t been crippled by agony at the time, she would have grabbed Solas’ head and crushed it in her fist. She gritted her teeth as she ground out her next words. “He’s the one who led Corypheus to the orb. He caused - everything.”
 

Varric Tethras

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#7
Sati was not quite so worried as Varric that the Dalish would welcome the appearance of Fen’Harel. “Maybe. Maybe not,” she mused. “I’m hoping that more than a few of them will remember that he’s referred to generally as the Trickster, and approach his plans with caution.”

“If he offers them the chance to return to the days of Arlathan, most of them are going to jump at it,” he predicted gloomily. He hoped he was wrong, but he’d heard Daisy’s stories of elvish history, and seen for himself the antipathy with which most Dalish regarded humans and the elves that lived among them. Many would likely go along with him just for the chance to kill the shems and flat ears. “Don’t be surprised if the clerics start pushing the Divine for an Exalted March.” That nobody had any idea where to march was unlikely to quell their enthusiasm; they’d likely be happy to start with the Dales. Fortunately, the former Revered Mother Giselle, now known as Divine Victoria, wasn’t one for rash actions, but if the elves started the war …

Oh, and hey! Don’t forget the Qunari and whatever they were up to.

“They had a grand plan to use the eluviens to allow them access to all the leaders in Thedas and blow them up, in order to pave the way for an invasion,” Lucky explained to him. “Apparently they wanted to avoid anything like the Breach happening again, and this is how they tried to do it.”

Varric let out a low whistle. “They’re declaring war on the south, then?” That would definitely be a much more immediate threat, and if the elves rose up, as well …

“As far as I can work out, that’s pretty much dead in the water for the moment,” she replied, “although I don’t know how their leaders will react when word gets back. Not that that’s happening for a while, though.” They’d killed Qunari aplenty on their most recent outing, and none of the ones that Lucky had followed through that last Eluvian had emerged, either dead or turned to stone by the bald bastard. “Solas has been disrupting their plans, so they stepped up their efforts to get rid of him. Apparently he didn’t want them to succeed, so he was kind enough to let us find out.”

“First time for everything,” Varric growled, still pissed that he hadn’t caught on before now. A mysterious elven apostate shows up in the aftermath of the worst disaster to ever hit the Chantry with extensive knowledge of the Fade, spirits and demons, spends the entire damn time being alternately condescendingly helpful and smugly mysterious, when the whole time -

“He’s the one who led Corypheus to the orb,” Lucky said through clenched teeth, her remaining hand clenched into a white-knuckled fist. “He caused - everything.”

“Yep.” Varric took a healthy swallow from his flask and offered it back to her. Baldy’s current course of action wouldn’t be quite so infuriating if he had intended all the chaos and death that Corypheus and the Breach had caused … but he hadn’t. Not that Varric would be any less inclined to turn him into a pincushion if he had, but to know that he could make such a monumental fuckup and still be arrogant enough to think he could do it right this time? There was a word for doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and in the Varric Tethras Unabridged Dictionary, currently in its seventh edition, that word was ‘batshit’.

“So, how do we stop him?” That they were going to do just that was never in question, but the opening moves weren’t as clear as he’d like. “Did he give any hints on where he was going?” It could be damn near anywhere. He had the Eluvians at his disposal, which most likely meant that the Inquisition didn’t. Hopefully, that also meant that the Qunari didn't, as well, but Andvar and Ilsa's baby boy wasn't quite that much of an optimist any more.
 

Sati Adaar

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#8
An Exalted March. Varric was right, the clerics would almost certainly start pushing for it immediately, and with a lack of a clear target, their followers would strike out in all directions. The humans who had chafed at the idea of sharing Thedas with elves in any capacity other than as their servants would fall on the idea gleefully. Violence would follow, and more elves would be pushed to Solas’ side. So that was step one. They had to try and prevent Giselle – Divine Victoria, rather – from calling an Exalted March. And while the woman was astute, Sati wouldn’t bet on how she might react to all this.

Which was why Sati had omitted one detail in the official report of events. Nobody outside her inner circle was going to know that Solas had been the source for the whole mess at the Conclave in the first place.

Varric could be trusted, and he didn’t waste words on expressing his anger, either. He allowed her to swallow hers along with another long draught of liquor, then cut to the heart of things. “So, how do we stop him? Did he give any hints on where he was going?”

Sati handed back the flask and kneaded her forehead. Part of her conversation with Solas were already lost to her memory – before he had removed her hand, the agony had been so intense she could barely hear what he was saying. She had to wonder why he had saved her life at all, when it had been clear that she was going to hunt him to the ends of Thedas for it. Some lingering respect from their time fighting side by side, maybe.

“He wasn’t clear. I think he’s going to be doing a lot in the Fade itself, but his followers will need a settlement of some sort. People will start migrating. One of our people should join. And – scouts, to the oldest ruins we can find. I don’t know if he had a plan to replace his first one or if he’s making it up as he goes along, but I don’t like either.”

She scratched her stump. She could still almost feel her fingers, if she concentrated; her mind hadn’t yet accepted that her hand was no longer there. It was maddening. Sati turned her attention back to Varric. “What would you do? In my shoes?”
 

Varric Tethras

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#9
Varric had never considered himself a lazy man, but neither was he one to feel the need to go looking for something to do just because he didn’t happen to be busy. Not that he’d had much of that particular problem the last few years, but after they’d killed Corypheus, things had been at least peaceful. All right, maybe not peaceful, not when every noble and merchant in Kirkwall had decided that they couldn’t take a crap without asking him his opinion on the best location, but nobody had tried to kill him in almost two years. Varric suspected that was about to change. Oddly, he wasn’t that bothered by the prospect.

Solas had unfortunately skipped an important part of his villainous exposition: the one where he spilled his future plans in painstaking detail to the hero he was planning to kill, evidently because he hadn’t been planning to kill Lucky, even though he had to know she was going to try to stop him. Had to be arrogance; Baldy had never been the type for sentiment towards anything on this side of the Veil.

“I think he’s going to be doing a lot in the Fade itself,” Sati mused, rubbing her forehead with her remaining hand, her features scrunched in concentration as she struggled to recall details of what had to have been a crazy encounter, “but his followers will need a settlement of some sort. People will start migrating. One of our people should join. And – scouts, to the oldest ruins we can find. I don’t know if he had a plan to replace his first one or if he’s making it up as he goes along, but I don’t like either.”

Varric let out a humorless snort, crossing his arms over his chest. “Considering what happened the last time he had a plan, I don’t blame you.” Not that there were any more crazy immortal half-darkspawn magisters running around to gum up the works - at least, Varric hoped there weren’t. “Do you think he really is a god?” he asked Sati. “Or just another crazy mage?” Gods were supposed to be perfect, weren’t they? Someone who had that much power, that much arrogance and just as much potential to fuck up as anybody else made the Tethras family jewels shrivel to peach pit size.

How many of the disasters of the last few years were because of crazy mages? Anders, Corypheus, Solas … and they wondered why the rest of Thedas was scared shitless at the idea of letting them roam free. Even if it wasn’t fair - because for every one like those three, there were scores of mages who were good people - it was understandable. So far as Varric could tell, the ratio of assholes to saints among mages was roughly the same as any population, but a mage who was an asshole could do so much more damage than a farmer who was an asshole. And a wannabe god mage asshole? Well, that was how you got demon-shitting holes in the sky, and now maybe worse.

Lucky made a move as though she was going to scratch her left hand, visibly caught herself, and scratched at the stump instead. It didn’t look like any amputation that Varric had ever seen. No scar tissue; just smooth skin, like she’d been born that way. But evidently, godly powers didn’t extend to preventing phantom limbs. “What would you do?” she asked, regarding him somberly. “In my shoes?”

Grab Ruffles and get out of here. Let these assholes who were so sure they didn’t need you any more try to pick up the pieces. He didn’t say it, because he knew that she had already had that thought and set it aside. That wasn’t what she was asking.

“Go with your gut,” he advised her. It had worked amazingly well for her in the past, because she tempered it with that uncommon virtue ironically referred to as common sense. “Nobody here is going to want to believe what you’re telling them, except Giselle.” One of these days, he was going to have to start referring to her by her title, but it wasn’t going to be today. “They want the crisis to be over, the Inquisition no longer needed and life back to what it was before. They won’t actually admit there’s a danger until Baldy actually tears down the Veil, or tries and fails again.” He didn’t need to tell her that they couldn’t wait for that.

“The Inquisition may have downsized over the last couple of years,” he went on, “but the ones who left are still loyal to you. They’ll come back, or do what they can wherever they are. All you have to do is ask them.” Cassandra, Leliana, Cullen and Josephine had never left. The others: Dorian, Bull, Sera, Cole, Vivienne - they were loyal to their Inquisitor, but it was more than that. Solas had been one of them, and had betrayed them all. They’d come back just to kick his ass.
 
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Sati Adaar

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#10
Sati had met a number of grandstanders in her time. They liked to talk about what they were up to, usually confident enough in their eventual success that they felt they had the time to gloat. Usually it was exactly that which brought her enough time to cut them down. Only once had she savoured a man’s expression as he contemplated his downfall, and that had been while delivering the news to Erimund that his plans of becoming a god-king had been foiled by the fact that his would be lord was now a nasty smear across the rocks. She’d even taken the time to show him Corypheuys’ head. It had not sat well with her, but she had wanted one – just one – of the bastards who had allied themselves with Corypheus to feel the full weight of their mistake. Erimund hadn’t disappointed. He’d howled, sworn, then grovelled for mercy. In her opinion, she’d shown it by granting him a quick death not long after.

That Solas had not displayed any trait common with those world-enders she’d encountered before left her uneasy. He’d seemed sorrowful over what he obviously considered a duty (although not enough to throw the whole scheme aside). He’d intentionally spared her when letting her die meant the Inquisition would never have linked him to what was going on. And he hadn’t shared enough of his plans for them to do much more than make a few wild guesses as to where they might find him. It was enough to make Sati briefly consider taking Josie and sailing out beyond the edges of the known map, as far away as possible from whatever the Fade Solas ended up doing.

Briefly. She wasn’t really the running away sort.

“Do you think he really is a god? Or just another crazy mage?”

And there was another thing that set Solas apart from your run-of-the-mill power hungry madman. “He knows he’s not a god.” She reached for the flask, took another swig. Her imaginary forearm itched. “But he knows he’s powerful, and that’s not a delusion. Crazy’s definitely on the list.” But the wrong kind of crazy, no eye rolling, no great proclamations. Just an intent, as cold and direct as steel.

She didn’t really know what to do. Until scouts found out where he might be, they could be scratching their collective asses until Solas ripped the sky apart. Again. Varric was a good one for advice, and she asked for his.

“Go with your gut. Nobody here is going to want to believe what you’re telling them, except Giselle.” At least the Divine they’d gone with had half an ounce of sense. “They want the crisis to be over, the Inquisition no longer needed and life back to what it was before. They won’t actually admit there’s a danger until Baldy actually tears down the Veil, or tries and fails again.”

All true. All pretty grim. Sati had nearly smacked the ambassadors’ heads together before. She didn’t want to disband the Inquisition, and neither did she want them to become some sort of standing army for Orlais. She would also admit that running what essentially amounted to a massive private militia was untenable in times of peace. Although, as Varric pointed out, their numbers were more manageable now. The key players would come back as soon as they received the summons.

“The Inquisition needs to remain independent. And mobile, now. I don’t think Skyhold should remain as a base of operations.” It would be too easy for hostile forces to pin them in there. Josephine had worked wonders establishing trade routes to such a remote location, but it had also only worked because out of the thousands of refugees, nobody had turned on the Inquisition in time to bring Corypheus to their door before they were ready. With more people uncertain of the Inquisition’s future now, they were unlikely to receive the same support. “And I think this needs to be about subterfuge rather than might. If people get wind of the fact that an ancient elven mage is encouraging ‘his’ people to join him as he rebuilds a new world, those people will be the first victims of a panicked mob.”
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
98
#11
Odd, the things you could get used to. There had been a time when Varric had been perfectly content to kick back in the Hanged Man, letting people bring information to him and writing creatively exaggerated stories about the things he heard. Actually getting out and doing the kind of things that stories got written about … well, that kind of shit was dangerous, and Andvar and Ilsa’s baby boy had more sense than that.

‘Had’ being the operative term.

He still had the sense, mind you. He’d never been an adrenaline junkie, but somewhere along the line, the people that gathered around him had become the family that the one he’d been born with had never quite managed to be … and a good number of them did have noses for trouble, one Joscelyn Hawke being the first and Sati Adaar the most recent, with enough of a motley crew strung between them to keep him writing 'no-shit-there-we-were' stories until the turn of the Age.

But scribbling wouldn’t keep his friends safe. He’d lost his mother, his father, his brother. He didn’t like losing people, and so time and again, he’d been drawn off - or dragged off - on the kind of adventures that he’d once made up. And the shit of it was, when he wrote about these real-life adventures now, the same folks who had swallowed Hard In Hightown without question accused him of being too unbelievable.

And now, just sitting around writing was … kind of boring. And being Viscount of Kirkwall was, while not boring by any stretch, not his kind of interesting. He’d do it, because Kirkwall was home, but he’d gotten things stable enough that the city wouldn’t go up in flames if he took a few months’ sabbatical to help save the world.

Again.

What were the odds?

And damned if he wasn’t actually looking forward to it, and not just for the opportunity to kick Solas’ ass up between his pointy ears. He’d missed the Inquisition. Not the organization, the people: Lucky and Ruffles and Nightingale and even Cassandra. And all the others. Shit, he’d even missed Solas a bit before the discovery that he was an asshole who thought that nearly destroying the world once was just a good start.

“He knows he’s not a god,” Lucky opined, taking another hit from the flask. Varric followed suit, draining the last of the whiskey and tucking it way. “But he knows he’s powerful, and that’s not a delusion. Crazy’s definitely on the list.”

Varric lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “’Crazy’ was pretty much a requirement for signing up,” he observed. Volunteering to help fix a ginormous, demon-shitting hole in the sky was definitely not an act of sanity. “But so was loyalty.” Loyalty to more than the Inquisition. To each other. They hadn’t always gotten along: way too many strong personalities for that to happen, but at the end of the day, they’d had each other’s backs. That was what Solas had really shit on, had been shitting on from the get-go. He’d used them all to fix his screwup, and now that it was fixed, he wanted to try to end the world all proper-like.

Shit on that. They’d stopped Corypheus, they could stop Solas.

“The Inquisition needs to remain independent,” Sati said decisively. “And mobile, now. I don’t think Skyhold should remain as a base of operations.”

Varric could understand the logic; Solas had brought them to the mountain redoubt, and undoubtedly knew secrets about it that he hadn’t shared, but he felt a wistful twinge all the same. It hadn’t been Kirkwall, hadn’t been home, but he had developed a definite affinity for the ancient castle that they had brought from crumbling ruin to towering fortress.

“Got some space at the Viscount’s manor in Kirkwall,” he offered casually. Which was an understatement. He rattled around in the place like a single pea in a very large pod. Plenty of room for Sati and her advisers, plus some. “Might get some of the Fereldan nobles off the King’s ass, too.”

One of the original purposes for the conclave had been to allow the Fereldans to air their discontent. The same nobles that had been begging for the Inquisition’s aid when their lands were being overrun by demons and red templars were now complaining about a ‘foreign army’ on their lands, never mind that Skyhold was so far into the Frostbacks that the only things being inconvenienced were a few mountain goats that had to take the long way around to the next mountain. Alistair was a levelheaded sort, well aware of how much he owed the Inquisition, and equally well aware that the Inquisitor had no ambitions toward conquest, but having spent two years wiping the collective asses of nothing larger than a city-state, Varric could appreciate just how much of a pain in the ass tending the nappies of a whole sodding nation would be.

“And I think this needs to be about subterfuge rather than might,” Lucky went on. “If people get wind of the fact that an ancient elven mage is encouraging ‘his’ people to join him as he rebuilds a new world, those people will be the first victims of a panicked mob.”

He nodded. “Safe bet.” Below them, the gardens of the Winter Palace were in full bloom and just as meticulously tended as they had been in the middle of a civil war, but the elven servants tending them had been joined by a fair number of humans. Partly Briala’s influence on Celene, but also because fewer elves were around to serve. Many had simply abandoned their duties and vanished, and while more than a few had wound up with the Inquisition, others had been nowhere to be found, even without Fen’Harel as a draw. He couldn’t blame them for finally getting tired of being shit on for the last few centuries, but he wondered just how many of them would embrace Solas’ plan to destroy the world as it was to restore the elves to their former glory. A depressingly high number, he suspected. It was also a safe bet that Solas wouldn’t be telling any of those who followed him anything close to the truth; why start now, when lying his ass off had worked so well?

“Curly’s not gonna be happy, but we can’t hit what we can’t see.” Cassandra wouldn’t be pleased, either, but Nightingale would be in her element, and Josephine would have plenty to do, as well. “Any ideas on where to start looking?”
 
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