A/N: Alright, I usually hate these, but I'm going to give it a try!
Disclaimer: Le Bioware owns le Dragon Age
Ch. 1: In with a Bang
"Sweet, merciful heaven, what a headache."
"Well, that's not exactly surprising, considering the explosion you caused."
And then I look around. Nothing makes sense. I'm sitting, propped up, against the base of a tall tree. My feet are bare, and the grass is a soft brown color. The sky is clear and blue, and I am in a forest. The morning air is chill.
"Is it winter?"
"Who, exactly, are you?"
"Shut up a minute and let me think." I'm trying to process just exactly what happened. Trying really hard not to look at the man over there. In stead, I look at me. I'm still in my red and gold yukata - a sort of Japanese houserobe - and it's cinched at the waist, just like it was last night. I move my limbs about. Intact.
"Are you d-"
"Shut up, Duncan!" I turn and glare at him. Trying really hard not to think about who he is.
I fail rather miserably at this.
He's Duncan, a grey warden. A Warden! Brown skin, short pony tail, thick eyebrows. Swirly designs on his armor. Short sword. I'm an American.
This can't be happening.
"How do you know my name?"
"...It's a long story." I shut my eyes, rest my head on the tree. Wish desperately for my glasses.
"Are you lost?"
Self preservation kicks in suddenly, fueled by a rush of adrenaline. I AM lost. This is really, really bad. And I have to go with Duncan, or else I'll die. It's a blight. The blight. Time for those acting classes to pay off.
"No, not exactly. I wanted to join you on your search for new wardens... I heard about it from a friend. I don't know how much use I'll be, but I want to try." I wince slightly, partially from the headache, partially from the truth of that statement. I can shoot a bow with okay accuracy. I can sprint. But I have no endurance, no skill with swords. Am a royal klutz.
He sits there, looking thoughtful, probably. I can't really tell. There are just two shadows where his eyes should be, and his mouth is a discolored slash. Faces are hard when you're nearsighted.
"Did you see a pair of, er, ah.. uhm.. they're black? It's black? With two glass circles?"
He looks up suddenly then, his smashy flesh-colored circle changing shapes a bit. Maybe he's smiling. "They were, ah, burnt in the fire."
"When you... appeared... by my camp, you caused an explosion. My fire scattered to the four winds- it was quite a chore putting all of it out. Your glass-thing was burnt. What in Thedas was that made of, by the way?"
"Another long story. So, about me tagging along...?"
He brings his hand up to his face, and I'm pretty sure he's pinching the bridge of his nose. He reminds me so much of my father. I have to chide myself. He wouldn't want me dead as well as mysteriously missing. Thoughts about my family will only get in the way. I hold the image of Dad and Mom and my two younger brothers in my head for a second, squeeze the tears back. Take a deep breath.
"Sir -er- Serrah?"
"Yes, I'm sorry. I was just thinking. You may ride with me. But first, we must find you some proper clothes. What is that you're wearing? Is it Orlesian?"
"A yukata. It's Orlesian, yes."
"A dressing gown."
"You left your home in a dressing gown?"
"Not intentionally, I assure you." I give him a look that I hope translates to 'Drop It.' Again, it's hard to tell what face to make when I can't read other peoples' features.
"Right. Have you ridden a horse before...?"
"I see. Do you remember how?" I can hear the strain in his voice. He probably thinks I'm a runaway. Going to drop me at the nearest chantry, most likely.
I can't let that happen. Not for a million dol- sovereigns. Right. Ferelden.
"Fenne. Fenne... where are we?" Fenne was my first Hawke. Oh, God, Hawke. I wonder if she's okay. If I'll see her in Lothering. Wait-what about the other warden origins? What does my being here mean?
"We're near the circle tower, at-"
"Lake Calenhad, yes, I remember now. Sorry, must have gotten bumped on the head when I ... appeared. Fenne Surana. And yes, I remember how to ride a horse. I'm sorry to be imposing on you like this. The truth of it is, since my parents died last spring, our farm got repossessed by the Teyrn. I had to move in with my aunt, but she has many mouths to feed already."
"Ah, I think I begin to see the problem."
"I thought you might. The short version is that I left as soon as I heard of an opportunity. I haven't ever been far from home, but I can learn fast."
He raises his eyebrows - so prominent even I can see them - and I think it's worked. He's buying the Determined Young Woman thing. I hope.
"I understand if you won't take me." A little self depreciation tends to go a long way. This is no exception.
"I already said you could join me, didn't I?" He sounds amused. "I am Duncan, of the Grey Wardens, though you already know that, I suppose. Well met, Fenne Surana."
"Well met, Duncan." I stand, but I don't curtsey. If he thinks the yukata is strange, he'll think boxers and a tank top are heretical. Burn meas a witch, most likely. A witch.
Dear lord, Morrigan.
And then I look at him, and I remember that he's a dead man walking. And I decide to use that to make myself seem powerful- to protect myself.
"The king will fall at Ostagar."
"The king. At Ostagar."
"How do you know about Ostagar?"
"I'm... not sure. There's some mage blood in my family. We... know things, on occasion. It can be useful."
"Let's hope you're wrong."
"Let's hope."I ride on the pack horse, a sturdy ferelden pony. Duncan talks about the land, about the wardens, about Cailan. I listen as closely as I can, trying to arm myself with knowledge. That is my forté. I love to learn.
Eventually, we reach the lake. The Spoiled Princess sits there, and the tower of magi looms over everything, blotting out the sinking sun. Duncan pays the man at the dock, and as we slide silently across the water, I see a ragged man pawing at what look like giant bodies.
Sten. Sten's sword!
"Qunari! Those bodies are qunari!" I yelp before I can stop myself. Duncan looks, startled.
"Maker, they are Qunari. How very strange. Maybe... you oughtn't watch, Miss Surana."
I turn and stare for a second. He's close enough for me to see pretty well, in the tiny boat, and I can tell he is gauging my reaction. This is a test. I have to pass.
"No, I will watch. I must get used to this. I'm gonna- I will see many more bodies than those." I go back to observing the man and the Qunari, though they are getting smaller and smaller. I can feel Duncan's eyes on the back of my head for a moment, but I don't respond.
Let him make his judgements. What I said was the truth.
I will see many more bodies.
In a half an hour, we are at the rock. The ferryman jumps out of the boat and helps me up. I try not to look surprised. Such courtesy is not what I am used to. The male with an ounce of consideration for such things as 'ladies first' is an endangered animal where I come from.
"Thank you, Ser."
The man smiles at me good-naturedly, and I remember that he is a templar. I'm not sure if I approve of and I go inside the giant black obelisk, through a pair of massive oak doors that look as foreboding as the doors to a cell. The interior is surprisingly warm, surprisingly bustling with people, mage and Templar alike.
I stand by Duncan, who is much taller than I am. It's drafty in the tower, and the yukata doesn't provide much protection. People are staring. He waves one of them over.
"Ah, Duncan! We were expecting you earlier, I trust there was no trouble...?" this is a mage, by the robes. I look at his crinkly skin, his small eyes, big gray eyebrows and big gray beard. Long hair.
Duncan steps forward and claps him on the shoulder like an old comrade, and I wonder how they know each other. What adventures have they had? What journeys have they been on? How did they get where they are today?
"Nothing terrible, old friend. This is Fenne Surana. She's accompanying me on my search. Could you have someone look after her? She's a little... new... to all this." He smiles as though this is some kind of in-joke, and Irving looks me over appraisingly. Nods once. Beckons to a tall mage whose features I can't make out at all. I can't even tell what gender it is, the hair is too long. Probably a male, by the size of the shoulders.
"Anders, please show our guest here around. Get her some clothes, and a room. Be... civil." This last statement seems edged with some kind of warning, or a threat, and I can't help but grin. Oh, Anders. This is getting weirder and weirder, and it's not stopping any time soon. The blond mage nods to Irving, then reaches out a hand in my direction.
"Anders, at your service."
I shake the hand. He's grinning at me. This is unnerving. I need to take control of the situation.
"Shall we?" I extend an arm, and he smiles wider, taking it. We walk away from the old men, and through the doors of the entrance hall into the corridors of the main tower. I keep my back straight, my chin held high. I know I look ridiculous, but I figure now is not the time to be vulnerable.
"What do you know of the circle, Fenne?" Anders startles me, and I jump a bit. Damn. I need to answer. What do I know about the circle? Probably more than I should. Wait, did I just start talking? Oh, shit. Here we go.
"I know Irving is the first enchanter, I know a bit about the politics between the Templars and the mages." Okay, no harm done. That's probably all common knowledge.
"Ah, I see. I suppose not much information about us gets out, considering how rare it is that we do." He sounds irritated, disappointed. Ah, damn it, Anders!
"Well... I have heard... that you escape sometimes..." I keep my voice low, conspiratorial. I want him on my side if I end up here through Awakenings. If I live that long. He misses a beat in his step, and his muscles tense up a bit.
"Where did you hear that?"
"Oh, well, there were some Templars that came through our village once when I was little. Said they were chasing an escaped mage. They questioned everybody, asked if we'd seen someone who... fit your description."
"Ah, I see." he seems rather pleased with himself, and as he tugs gently on my arm to indicate the fact that we're turning down another corridor, I can't help but feel a twinge of regret. I wish he'd gotten away.
I try to draw parallels between this world and my own. Templars come to your door... like Mormons! Mormons. Just really mean, violent Mormons.
"Excuse me?" Anders' flesh-oval turns to face me at me, his tone bewildered.
"Er - nothing." I sigh. I'm so damn blind.
He stops in the hallway. In the middle of everything. It's true that the couple of people that we've walked past have given us a wide berth, but this is sure to draw attention.
"It's not 'nothing'," he says, sternly. I know he's not much older than me, but his serious tone and the crinkling of his face-shape are intimidating. That and the fact that he's a mage. "What is troubling you? And you're obviously not very good at lying, so don't try."
Suddenly, it hits me. Anders is a healer. Maybe he can fix my eyes!
"I'm nearsighted!" I smile awkwardly, hoping he understands. Is that a word that works here, too? "You know, I can't see things that are far away. Far away meaning... farther than this."
I hold out my arm, hand vertical.
"Why didn't you ever have this taken care of?" he asks, sounding curious, bending down to look at my eyes. He's close enough now that he comes into focus.
It's the same old Anders. My Anders. Except impossibly, incredibly rendered in meticulous detail so that he looks... real. Looks human. His aquiline nose, his twinkling blue eyes. The hair escaping from his ponytail. He frowns, and I am snapped back to reality.
Well, what passes for reality.
"Because we didn't have the money." I stutter, hoping it's plausible. His expression clears.
"Well, that's no issue here." he says, straightening and taking my arm again. "We'll get that fixed up in a moment. Ah! here we are." Hepulls open a door in the hallway, and behind it is a little room. The furniture is rough and wooden, and the one window is extremely narrow.
"So, here is our visitor!" a voice sounds from a room adjoining this one, and I strain to see the woman who follows it.
"A little smaller than I expected, but these should still fit. Anders, Dear, why don't you go find her something to eat?"
By the Maker, it's Wynne.