Disclaimer: I own nothing but my OC and the plot of her story.
I was mortified by my reaction in there. Every one of the tavern's patrons got to witness my little meltdown. Showing each one just how virgin my mind was to those types of situations. Being no hardened soldier, my eyes were far from ready to see something so horrific.
"Would you like to be alone for a moment?" Aedan's soft murmur came from behind.
I shook my head as I covered my eyes.
It was all I could do to remain standing. All I wanted to do was lean against the wall, sink to the ground and curl into myself. To make myself as small as possible to the world right now, but I couldn't move.
Hands situated themselves on my shoulders before turning me towards a nearby wall. Then, turning me to face a leather armor clad chest, I was pressed gently against the wooden surface. He knelt slowly as his hands pressed against my shoulders and my body slid down the wall. Now squatted before me, Aedan removed a hand and with a curled finger, lifted my chin to meet his steely blue eyes.
"Rest for a time."
Smiling a little, I nodded meekly and turned my gaze elsewhere. His concerned stare was beginning to make me feel even more foolish. I felt like a small child that has been frightened by the monsters under my bed. Needing to be coddled and spoken to in soft tones so as not to frighten me further. I just felt…stupid.
At one point while playing this game, I had thought what it would have been like to walk in it in life. What the people would really be like and if given the opportunity, to make a few changes so the characters would suffer less. I had told myself then, that if I could, I would not be a weakling. That I would be able to handle the harsh reality of this world and that as much as something may bother me, I would not show it. I told myself I probably wouldn't mind the battles, the killing of the darkspawn and if the choice came to take the life of a man or woman, I wouldn't hesitate as long as the circumstances were justifiable by all means.
But, here I was in the flesh, leaning against a wall after a mental shock of reality. One that nearly put me on my ass and was only able to distance myself thanks to someone else. A main character, the most important one, had to step in and rescue me from something I thought I might be able to handle. But let's just face the facts, reality compared to events in a video game are too different.
I knew this. I was not ignorant to that fine detail but still, no one is prepared for any of this. No matter how much a fantasy to live it might pop up.
This was going to be my life until I figured out how to get myself back to my own world.
Aedan's movement snapped me out of my revere to see him move from his knelt position in front of me to take up the small wet patch of dirt beside me. He leaned against the wall with a long tired sigh and let his head fall back against the wood.
"It is good to rest the mind at times when one can." His head tilted to look at me out of the corner of his eye, a small smile pulled up the corner of his lips. Another sigh blew through his lips as his eyes turned away. He leaned forward as he brought a knee up resting his arm on it. "If not for your clothing, I would have mistaken you for a noblewoman."
Confused by his statement, I turned to look at him. "Why?"
"Your reaction alone would suggest a lack of the battlefield, not just the fact that you are a woman." His head titled again as he looked to me curiously.
"There are deaths and squabbles in noble houses too. They are not strangers to death or killing." I retorted.
He snorted and shook his head lightly, turning his gaze away again. "No…they are not. However, the women are usually kept away from most of the affairs."
There was a long silent pause between us before I heard him shift from his spot and stand. Turning to me he held out a hand, I took it slowly, letting his larger hand encase mine and pull me from the ground. No sooner had his hold released, the tavern door opened.
A head of red hair poked out and a smile spread across her pretty face. "Oh, I see she is faring well now." Leliana stepped out of the tavern followed closely by Brute, a frustrated looking Alistair and fairly emotionless looking Morrigan. Neither of the of two making eye contact as they fled the other a distance.
Leliana paused and looked back at the warden and the witch before turning and looking toward Aedan. "Your companions do not seem very fond of one another." Her comment reached my ears as she drew closer, stopping a few feet from the two of us.
"Delicately put, really." Aedan groaned, rubbing his face. "I suppose we should make our way to the Chantry." His hand dropped with a sigh and he looked at Leliana, "Are you certain the Revered Mother will assist us?"
"Oh, yes. I am certain."
"Very well." Aedan turned his eyes to me and smiled. Extending a hand towards me, I smiled but hesitated, inching my hand up before carefully slipping it into his. His fingers curled around my hand raising it as his head dipped lower. As before, I tensed but he simply smiled and paused. "If we cross paths again, I hope it to be on better terms." His breath blew over my bare knuckles with each word and with one final dip of his head; he leaned back to his full height.
Nodding to Leliana, she returned the gesture with a soft smile and then directed her gaze to me. She reached forward taking both my hands into her soft dainty ones and brought them up between us. "May the Maker watch over you in your travels." Another pretty smile crossed her face as she released my hands and turned to join the others.
It wasn't until then that I realized I had left my satchel inside. With unease, I looked back towards the tavern and contemplated just leaving without it. I could not say that I wanted to go back in there willingly. Not until they cleaned up the mess.
I turned to look back at the others only to find my satchel swaying from a gauntleted hand inches from my face. Surprised, I gasped, instinctively flinging an arm out.
The satchel jerked away following a startled "Hey!"
My arm met with air and my eyes followed the satchel, to the hand, the arm and then the confused face of, Alistair.
"Oh…ooops." I held both hands out flicking them from side to side, "I am so sorry!"
He shook his head and chuckled a bit, straightening himself back out. "No harm…just unexpected." His arm extended my way once more with the satchel still dangling by two fingers. "Just a guess but I figured you may want this."
"Oh, uh, thank you." I took the satchel from him and slung it over my shoulder.
"I assumed you would not want to go back inside after…that." His eyes darted towards the tavern then back.
"Your assumption was rightly made." I chuckled, "Thanks again."
"Alistair." He smiled.
"Alistair." I nodded and pointed over his shoulder, "Looks like they are waiting for you."
Looking over his shoulder, he then spun around saluting a quick goodbye and followed. Aedan was now standing on the high curve of the bridge with Leliana and Morrigan close by while Brute stood tall and proud by him. Impressive, yes, but as I watched his arm rise in a wave of farewell – my own gesture returning his – I battled with my control to turn around and leave them to their excursions.
It was the way it should be.
DO NOT FOLLOW!
To become desensitized, time is a factor. However, since my timely arrival in Thedas, it would seem the universe has diligently planned to conspire against me. Already have I been exposed to a massive – for myself it is – dose of Thedas' desensitization methods. This life is harsh and the fact that these people did nothing, not even bat an eye in there spoke volumes to their everyday experiences. To ignore it all so easily would be a blessing for me right now.
My stomach continued to churn even as I moved away from the tavern and made my way to the muddy main road of Lothering. Where to go from there though was a calculation I had yet to even begin. I had no idea where my path should even start much less where it would eventually lead. Being alone in this made the decision making that much harder.
It should have been easy considering my knowledge of the storyline and all but the tugging in my head was making it far more difficult to make a solid decision. Every step would need to be made with caution. At no point could I or would I interfere with the events that would shape this land's future. I didn't want such a heavy burden on my shoulders, I was nowhere near strong enough in mind or body to deal with it. Not like the people destined to.
So, here I was, standing at my exit and other people's entrance to the village. My escape to a world that was familiar, yet new and frightening. With each step I would either bring myself closer to an answer or further from the truth. Which one it would veer too was a mystery and one that I would never solve so long as I stood like a stone statue in the middle of the muddy road.
Taking in as much of the landscape as my eyes could from where I stood, I sighed. Fields as far as the eye could see. Not many trees, lots of tall stringy grass growing where the fields did not touch, that large windmill and…
My eyes swept to my left and paused.
His large bulky frame stood tall. Even dressed in rags and encased by the small cage, he was intimidating. Cold eyes bore into mine. A chill picked up at the base of my neck.
And my senses came back… "I-I'm really sorry for staring."
"Yet you continue." His deep voice resonated from his throat and he crossed his large arms over his chest limiting his space even more with his bulk.
"It's just that…" Fumbling with the leather strap of the satchel nervously, I tore my eyes from him a moment and looked to the base of the iron cage. "…I've never seen someone like you."
"Then gain your fill and move on. Leave me to my fate in peace." We both fell quiet after that and I looked anywhere but him. That's when I heard it.
Faint at first, my ears strained on the sound. Its steps where swift and coming closer. My body froze. The grass rustled behind and before I knew it something had slammed into my back and I was thrown roughly to my stomach. I rolled over quickly to find fangs hovering right over my face. The guttural scream that exploded from my own lungs as I scrambled from beneath the behemoth hurt my ears. Both of them ringing as I stood and rounded on the duo.
"Wh-what the hell are you two doing here?!"… "Ah!" Throwing both hands up I looked away from them, "Don't even answer that! You shouldn't be this close to the village! What if someone were to see you?! Huh? And what if-"… "Oh my God…" I slapped a hand to my face and shook my head as I pinched the bridge of my nose. "I am arguing with spiders – I've officially lost it. Okay look!" Dropping my hand I clapped loudly and point one finger to me and the other towards the main road. "How's about we just get the hell out of here?~ Hmm?"
A familiar grumbling resonated low in the behemoth arachnid, her large snowy body looming over my smaller one before she lowered to the ground.
It wouldn't have been my first guess to hop onto her back, no, and my stupefied body was obviously starting to irritate the large spider. How was I to know what the hell that meant? I'm sure not many can say they've had the pleasure of riding the spider – unless that is reference to something else in life that I have no clue about. Either way, when she had at some point deemed it necessary to rush me, I found myself unprepared and had the pleasant surprise of finding out what it felt like to face plant into a giant spider's head.
"I cannot decide what level of intelligence you possess." Sten's deep baritone carried over the sounds of my muffled moans. Pretty sure my nose was going to bruise, the tickle as the liquid trickled from it when I finally pulled my head up was enough to tell it took a good hit. It wasn't often a hit to my nose would draw blood.
Pinching the end off, I leaned forward bracing my body with the other arm and turned to look at the man. "Neither can I." My voice vibrated around in my nose, altering my voice a bit. So, keeping a straight face hearing my voice became a little more difficult.
"That should not be admitted so quickly or openly." He sighed and looked to the large snow white spider I sat atop. Her body swayed beneath me, the tiny hairs covering her rising in waves across her body…she was anxious.
Something must have… My eyes left the man, scanning along the stone wall that bordered the main roadway. I could just see the top of the incline and the entrance that connected this side of the village to the road. Just there, when I squinted my eyes straining them to see, I could just make out a few figures gathered but not much detail. None were exactly needed though. Once my mind stopped racing, I remembered quickly enough what would be waiting on that particular stretch of road for the Wardens and their companions.
Which meant that the two dwarves, Bodahn and his son Sandal, would be nearing and… I looked back to the village, "We need to leave." I muttered to the large creature.
Sten's head tilted as he stared up to me and I looked at him, "You saw nothing."
Grumbling something incoherent under his breath as his gaze slipped away was the only response I got to that. He wasn't the most talkative of the companions in the game, so my fears of him blurting anything out should be unwarranted.
Tilting my head, I smiled behind the hand still pinching my nose. I hope they choose to bring him.
Patting the large female's head I leaned downed to mumble a "Let's go." She turned and scurried across the undisturbed fields of long stringy grass. The fact that I was once again so close to this enormous terror still set unease in my mind. I might have been able to speak to her more openly but it didn't mean that I was any more comfortable with her now than I had been before I entered the village.
They both still gave me chills. Beautiful as they are, they still thoroughly crept me out. Painfully, like down to the bone.
I watched as her large legs made quick work to gaining distance. Each one moving in a fluid motion carrying us over the terrain with both speed and grace. As beautiful a picture as that might paint, all that while riding a monstrous spider is suddenly chilling. My teeth chatter as another chill of discomfort assaulted my arms and legs.
I need a mode of transportation that won't set me on edge every time it moves. One that I can be comfortable falling asleep around without the fear it is going to eat me.
Looking back down to the spider, I gave another thought to it and shook my head slowly. No, I'll do it later. "So, I take it you know where we are going?"
It wasn't for some time that my stomach suddenly decided it wanted to make itself known. Grumbling and gurgling, it twisted with hunger. Thing was, while I was at the village I hadn't even bothered to find a way to get food or any supplies. Feeling very stupid for it, I slung the satchel around to plop down in front of me. Already knowing its contents, I felt the need to check anyways. In hopes to find something that I might have missed before.
And it did look a little fuller than before.
Snapping it open, I peered inside and reached in, digging and sifting through everything. My fingers brushed a few items wrapped in a course cloth, something I couldn't recall to my knowledge. There were three of them, each one similar in weight but did little to alter the weight to the satchel. Also, it wasn't something I was really thinking of at the time. I might have noticed it if that had been different.
"Oh well. Let's see what they stashed in the bag." Unwrapping each one carefully, the cloths revealed several strips of some kind of dried meat, a small chunk of bread and an even smaller chunk of what looked to be cheese. It was hard not to smile. It wasn't much but it was more that I had managed and they did it for a total stranger.
"I will just have to make it last."
Two days it has been since I was hauled away by a giant spider, having no say so in the travel plan and no water. Rationing the food wasn't hard. My stomach was still upset thanks to my wild nerves causing my appetite to fluctuate. And it took a little more motivation to finally eat a piece of the dried meat after I smelled it. I still cringe when I take a bite.
We finally managed to find a small stream. The water was crystal clear but my doubts did not go away just because it looked clean. But I chanced it, my body needed water. So far there have been no negative affects but I'm not letting my guard down. There is still a chance.
Thankfully today there was a change. As we emerged from the forest a village came into view, a large body of water and – when shading and squinting my eyes – a castle on the opposite side of the lake. Familiarity pinged around inside my skull and it struck me where the creature had taken me.
"Redcliffe Village?" I looked down to her. "Why in Thedas would you bring me here?"
Note: I may come back and edit this chapter's events. I'm not sure yet.