She stared at his hands with something that he knew, somehow, was beyond him in his current state of being. It would continue to be beyond him long into his time as a human, but he wouldn't know that for a few years.



She glanced up at him bashfully, she was tempted to look away he knew. She put her hounds out despite her the nerves coursing through her, making the like in her stream and shiver, like it was projecting noise, trying to harness sound into something you could see. He thought it might have been something that would have made his sister giggle if she could see it.

"It's a strange request, but could I touch your hands?"

He kept still for a moment, not out of fear, but not something completely the same as wonder. He wouldn't ask why, he knew she probably wouldn't answer even if she knew. "If it will help..." He held out his gloved hands, looking away at the intense look she gave them as she grasped them. It was an odd feeling, wanting to give her private time with his hands.

"I just really like hands..." She swiped her thumbs against his palms, each hand mirroring the other movements. "It feels like it been ages since I've held anyone's hands in mine." She laughed at that, it was the memory of putting ointments and oil on her father's rough hands, on her mother's too. Flickering images passed through Cole's eyes of the hands she would hold when she helped women give birth, the hands she would hold when her people passed on. She had held so many hands.

"You could just learn how to read palm lines, you could buy that book you saw in Val Royuex and then you..." He spoke quickly, cutting through her problems with ease. It would be very easy to solve.

"I would rather not know what the future holds.."

"Those sorts of things don't really tell you the future." He doesn't smile softly or chuckle, he speaks simply and is slightly pleased that she does not take it as malice.

"Hmm..." She turns his hands to and fro, playing with them as an excuse to continue the contact. "Is that so..." She stopped suddenly and released his hands, turning quickly. She was bright again and he couldn't see anything in her without her touching.

But a new hurt was there.

"I wouldn't know anything about fortune telling and futures, but who knows who's right about fate and who's not. No one's answered anything concretely yet, so its open to anyone I would say." She smiled back at him, one eye meeting his in an melancholy manner.

He knew, somehow, that she meant 'I want to be understood, come find out more about me.'

"But you're not that interesting..."
She looked shocked for a moment, and hurt the next. "What did you say?"

"You want me to follow and found out some dramatic backstory right, something to make you see relatable and tragic..." He looked down, almost guiltily. "I have bigger hurts to fix than your made up ones." He honestly didn't know where this was coming from, but he could feel the words being pushed out of him by something way stronger than him.

She played with the bard whenever she could find the time, she really hated fighting. The Inquisition suffered proportionally to how good she became at playing the harp or lute, the sitar or whatever she happened to fancy that week. would have, if the all of the inquisition companions didn't stop sitting on their asses and start to pitch in too.

Cassandra had to drag away from her instruments by her ear to get her to go to the Hinterlands. And all through the fighting and the yelling and everyone's planning and planning the inquisitor sat back and acted as a rock of calm amid the turmoil and grief. She was a source of healing and calm.

But that didn't mean she wasn't a lazy and horrible Herald that was given up on for inquisitor shortly into her reign.

"Come on one more time!"

"Ptarmi no!"

"But Maryden, why can't we just try one more time?"

The bard swiped the bard away from the pale elf with a huff before pointing at the door and stomping her foot on the ground. She looked like a beast the way she leaned down low and turned red in indignation, eyes wide as they lay upon poor little Ptarmigan. "You need practice so that our greatest hope of surviving doesn't die! Out!"

Ptarmi simply stuck her pinky in her ear to clean out whatever spittle might have gotten in from all her yelling. "Alright, alright...danm never thought our local beauty would go shrew on us..." She pushed herself up from her nice little nest of pillow and blankets on the floor.

When Maryden started flinging chairs towards her pointy-eared head she finally picked up her leisure pace.

When she finally made it to the training grounds where everyone was gathered with their respective specialists she couldn't help the wonderful sense of camaraderie that washed over her. She then proceeded to yell a large and enthusiastic "Greetings fellow comrades and allies!" She drew all the eyes in the yard to her which morphed into awkward looks of confusion, disgust, and glares of exasperation.

Blackwall sighed and shook his head from his perch on his wooden box. With his body braced against his sword, which rested in the ground, his head fell downwards as he asked "Who told her it was time for practice again?"
"It does tend to be more productive without her...distractions." Madam delivered with a flourish of lips snarled in disgust.

"Vivienne!" Ptarmi bounced towards her with barely contained energy, "Can't wait for our shopping trip next week, how did that Salon thing go? Did you all handle it alright?" The white whisps of hair bounced with her.

Vivienne nodded dramatically in some sort of effort to appease the screeching little thing, and responded sardonically "Wonderful darling, it's all fabulous. Upupup!" Vivienne shushed Ptarmi before she could continue. "Why don't you go how Solas and Cassandra are, hmm?"

"Aw...well I just wanted to show you how my de cloaking blast is coming..." She looked a little dejected but soldiered on towards the next unfortunate pair.

They were discussing tactics like the others, but somehow looked like they wanted scatter as she approached. "Hey you guys, formulating battle plans? Good old strategy, amirite?"

"It's called tactics, not strategy..." Solas pursed his lips to the side as he looked down the appropriately shadow and had high and mighty elfy thigns run through his head before turning towards Cassandra. "Perhaps you should discuss with us so we could be better..."

At Cassandra's swift swings of her head to dissuade him and fumbled with his words. He cleared his throat and reconfigured his plan quickly though. "Perhaps not though..."

"No it's a great idea!" Ptarmi looked ecstatic at his suggestion. "I wanted to show you this new string of movesI've been practicing!" She grabbed his wrist and dragged him forward towards a clutch of training dummies. "Here let me show you."

"Oh maker..." Cassandra shook her head in her hands, before following suit in case the Herald got hurt in her incompetence.

"Okay...So I just run in with frost step and then I disappear..." She began her run towards the dummies with a frost step follow by a fade cloaking. Her disembodied voice rang out with a "And then..."

"Boom!" She faded back into existence, her appearance connecting with a blast that blew away about four dummies within her radius, each splintering her flying away from her phantasmic fart gas.

"Heh? Heeh?" She raised her arms for show and posed at Solas, who looked mostly unimpressed. "What do you think Solas? Pretty fascinating huh?" She lasciviously wiggled her eyebrows at him and awaited praise.

Instead Cassandra rushed forwards with a shout and grunt, coming to a stop in front of her. "We needed those for practice!"

"Oh..." Ptarmi looked somewhat cowed before noticing that everyone had turned to look at whatever what was causing Cassandra such great distress.

"Listen Cassandra I'm sorry I didn't mean to ruin the training dummies I just-"

Cassandra simply held up her hand up before she continued. She sighed, which was followed by a sigh "It's fine."

"Oh, that's good! Because I was just thinking about a few formations th-"

"No! You know what this is not fine!"

Cole stood at a distance, pulling a few memories of why Cassandra should hold back away from her. She needed to get her hurt out or it would wither and fester.

"You can't just storm in here when you please and tear everything up! We're trying to prepare for the battle ahead, battle we have to fight tooth and nail for because we have no United fron, because we have no United leader, because you! The person who was supposed to be sent by Andraste, are a huge disappointment!" Ptarmi just held her hands up in a calming gesture as Cassandra took a breath and carried on.

"Everytime I think we are making progress, you push us two steps back with your little antics! The whole world's eyes are on you, you are supposed to represent us with dignified actions; all you do is laze about and play music when we don't rip them from your grip. Making you study is impossible because you refuse to learn, all you care about when we fight is blowing things up or setting them on fire or...or...throwing bees at something!

You ruin everything. No one wants you here! And if you didn't have that mark on your arm you would've been done away with or run off months ago, most likely back at Haven!"

The end could only let her hands fall as she visibly curled in on herself; she looked like she had been slapped or punched in the stomach. "Uhm..." Everyone could see the tears begin to gather in her eyes at the reprisal, but no one could summon the energy to care beyond what a distraction her blubbering would present.

Ptarmi swallowed thickly, "I had no idea you felt that way...I know I haven't been the best Herald, I haven't acted all that responsible, but I never wanted to be in this-pffffffffff!" The Herald stopped suddenly, her tears disappearing and straightened to her regular short stature.

"I'm just fucking with you Cassandra!" The began to outright laugh before patting Cassandra's arm sympathetically. "If you didn't want me to be here just say so, I'll just train privately with my tutors and shite." Ptarmi began to walk past Cassandra, wiping tears from the good laugh she had at the poor woman's expense.

"Also, sorry if I wasn't willing to let you force me into some position as a scapegoat, it's just I'm not all about that figurehead lifestyle, doesn't suit my aspirations." She waved her hand as she walked away, "I'll just go talk to Dorian about my blowing up tactics sine he's the one with that lovely skill; maybe I'll make some fancy grenades with Sera too, some nice bottles of bees is always a staple right?" The last parts seemed like they were more for her than for Cassandra's sake.

As she walked away it would have been clear to anyone, but it seemed like it was only understood by a sneaky little spirit. She smiled until she got to an abandoned room.

She took shaky breaths and bundled herself up, determined not to go anywhere for the next few hours at least. "Cole are you there?"


"Could I trouble you to get my lute."

"I could hel-"

" can't heal this hurt by making me forget Cole." She raised her hand. "I can't just please. You can help me this way."

She saw it coming just a few nights before, saw it clear as day she woke and at breakfast. She drifted through life when she was like that, but she still knew what it was. She could never change what she saw so why bother? Best to just play and keep more, terrifying visions at bay, keep whatever demon who filled her with promises of the future from filling up her head with even the sight of her own death. He loved showing her that one the most. It would be against Corypheus.

But there was one vision even more horrifying than that.

Someone would take her hand, and this theft would steal her of the music. She had seen it so many times, the hand floating away from her in bits of green ash. If she was correct, every rift she closed brought her closer to this terrible fate. There was only one thing she could do: enjoy the music while she could.

Death was inevitable, loss of the music was inevitable; might as well enjoy it while you can. She lay back on the bed, from which she pushed off the boards, and lay left to where the tree grew through the hole left among the rubble. She lay there and play her lute, a little happy melody drifted up and distracted her from the visions of her death and destruction.

The others were adults, they didn't need her help even if they wanted it. Everything would be fine. They were capable, her nerves and sadness making her step down simply made them take up responsibility where they should have in the first place. She never asked for this.