"I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it." – Jack Handey
Chapter One: Creature Fear
When Magnolia was younger she was afraid of almost everything. She was frightened of the darkness of her cupboard, burning breakfast, and pulling weeds in the rain. She was afraid of being caught sneaking out from underneath the stairs at night to rummage through the pantry and what would happen to her if Dudley wasn't so fat and slow and could catch her as she shimmied up trees to avoid him. Magnolia particularly remembers being quite horrified of Mrs. Figgs' multitude of cats that never seemed to have a lack of malice toward her no matter the attempts at kindness.
During her time at Hogwarts had been a life changer. A couple of near death experiences here and there and bam, things aren't so scary anymore. She feared for other things: the death of loved ones, of incompetence, but not for herself. Who was she but a moveable piece in a dangerous game after all? She feared what The Order told her to: failure to act, weakness in will, shakable morale. But not for herself.
Never for herself.
This scares her though. The jarring feeling of missing time sets ice in her veins and numbs her fingertips. To reach and reach and come back with nothing – a brick wall set solid in her path with no way around.
The woman in front of her seems to think she knows something though. She's angry – passing back and forth in front of her on the cobble stone. She's not easy to see; not with the chains around her neck and hands that keep her head bowed and body locked in place – Magnolia takes to watching her feet. Soft black leather and thick silver buckles stop before her and the woman crouches to look her in the face. With short dark hair and tanned skin she's pretty, but almost in a break your jaw kind of way. Magnolia goes to make a remark when the pain happens – from the tips of her fingers to her toes, and she doubles over, clutches at her hand as it envelopes in that sickly green light again. Just as it did when she first awoke.
Her interrogator reaches forward of yanks her hand away from her chest where she attempts to cradle it in a futile attempt at comfort. She'd tell her to release the spell, to end the pain and allow her to speak if she could unclench her jaw to do so. But to do so would be to scream and she learned long ago screaming in the face of Death Eaters only makes matters worse. What else could they be but leftovers from the war? The pain that racks her body can be nothing if not an Unforgiveable and no others cast spells with such malice.
Her capture is speaking again.
Of something Divine, a Conclave, of the dead and a breach but the words mean nothing to her.
The woman brings her hand up far enough that her joints strain against her chains – closer so they can both see the glowing mark clearly.
"Explain this." She demands.
But there is no explanation, only missing time and hazy memories of putrid greens and shallow waters.
When had she woken up this morning? Had she eaten breakfast or fed Roisin? Her capture's accent is unfamiliar, but she's sure the guard that ran off to report her awakening spoke the Queens. Wherever she is she can't be far from London surly.
The woman seems to have had it with her silence because she tosses her hand down harshly and stands, turns almost completely away from her to face the other woman in the room who stands against the far wall – arms crossed and head dipped.
"Bring her with us, Cassandra." She purrs. "Let her see."
There's a long moment of consideration before Cassandra sighs, pulling a key from her person to unlock the restraints. Magnolia is grateful to be able to lift her head without resistance.
Cassandra grabs her by the arm and lifts her to her feet almost like she's nothing, which okay, is impressive if not a little surprising.
"Try anything and I will kill you."
Somehow the words aren't as intimidating as their missing wands.
She watches the sky churn.
Sickly and green just like her hand, the clouds moving toward the fixed point in the sky. Like a whirlpool – gathering and disappearing into the heavens. Magnolia stands there in the cold snow, silent and terrified, and when she finally opens her mouth with what's supposed to be a question it comes out as a strangled gasp.
Her surroundings are alien; no familiar landmarks – a village tucked into a mountainside unlike which she has ever seen. No wands, or brooms, or Floo systems. These are Muggles and by the looks of it not modern ones either. Somehow that fact feels mundane in the light of everything else, for she can handle Muggles. Her wands are somewhere, surly. They must be.
But the sky.
Cassandra says something, tells her not to move and walks off.
She won't. Can't, even though she wants to run and run and never look back. Instead she sinks into the cold snow and waits – focuses on the numbing of her hands, the burn in her tired eyes, and the threads in the green jacket that's certainly not hers.
Someone's dressed me?
Magnolia rubs her burning palm into the snow hoping to relieve some of the pain. It does nothing.
If these are Muggles then who casted the spell?
She looks down at her hand, glowing green and hurting. It's not an Unforgivable as she thought, but it's certainly not the work of a Muggle.
Cassandra is back within minutes and orders her up from her sitting place. She follows not because she wishes to but because she's already been threatened with death and the sword at Cassandra's hip doesn't look like it's for show. Magnolia didn't survive all those years fighting off a psychopath to fuck up and bite the dust now. Without either of her wands there's not much to do if Cassandra decides she's more trouble than she's worth besides run and hope to Merlin she's not as fast.
She trails behind Cassandra through a group of townspeople who sneer a whisper behind their hands, promptly ignores them, and is half way across the bridge leading into the forests when her hand convulses and the pain sends her face first into the snow.
Her muscles lock into place, the nerves under her skin feels like glass, and she grinds her teeth to silence herself. There are hurried footsteps before Cassandra speaks close at her side, places a hand on the middle of her back. Magnolia is glad at least that Cassandra has manners; she'll cleave her head straight off her shoulders but at least won't leave her face down in the snow.
It's a few minutes before her muscle loosen enough she can sit up. She spits a mouthful of snow onto the ground, dejected.
"That mark is spreading," Cassandra says. "As is the Breach in the sky, and until it's stable the mark on your hand will cause you pain. You will die."
"Good to know." Magnolia replies between pants, and looks up into the twisting sky. Cassandra looks too. "Better get moving, then."
The fighting starts shortly after two other people join their group: a dwarf named Varric, and a man that's most certainly some sort of elf, named Solas. She spares a bewildered glance at the Muggle in their presence who doesn't even bat an eye. She's genuinely confused. She wants to ask, wants someone to explain, but then a tear in the scenery spits out a few horrifying creatures that nearly take her arm off and her questions can wait. She yelps and throws herself back out of reach – stands there dumbfounded and useless without her wands – and a large formation of stone sails over her head, formed into a fist that barrels into one of several creatures to her left. Shocked, she turns, watches the elf spin and dodge in and out of attackers, wielding a staff that casts out what's without a doubt magic. Whatever relief she feels in numbed while she retreats and waits for the carnage to stop, and is defiantly back-burner bullshit when Solas grabs her hand, points it at the odd, shifting crack in reality and it closes.
She looks at him, frightened. He just smiles.
They tell her to close the big one now. Apparently two's the charm because she's seemingly had enough practice in the last hour or so flaring her hand around to stake their survival on. They bicker, like most people who manage her unfortunate fate seem to do. And while Cassandra, Leliana, and a man named Cullen argue with some church bloke Magnolia sighs, brings attention to herself.
Oh, whoops. Well now's just as good as any.
"Have one of you got my wands? Can't exactly fight without them."
The whole group turns toward her to look at her like she's asked if they can stop for a lunch break. The hell? She tries again.
"Wands? You know for…um," Magnolia hesitates and glances at Solas. "Magic?"
"Magic?!" Church Bloke exclaims. "Marker preserve me."
"You're a mage, Da'len?" Solas is considerably nicer with his response.
"Um, yes? A witch. Mage I suppose. I can't defend myself without – "
Someone clears their throat behind her and she turns to find one of Cullen's soldiers holding out a staff to her. It's intricate, decorated with crystals and beads, warped with jewel toned leather cords with a sharpened blade at its base. At its top sits a large glowing orb that radiate heat, wrapped tightly within spiraling branches. She takes it, flummoxed.
She must look as confused as she feels because Leliana speaks up.
"Is everything okay?" Her tone is chipped and cold the way it was in the dungeons.
Um, nope. Defiantly the opposite of okay.
"Fine." Magnolia says.
She can't fight. She focuses on the spell, goes through the steps in her head, but they won't transfer. They sputter and die on the end of her staff in puffs of smoke and embers.
Stupefy! She thinks.
"Bloody hell!" She exclaims and has to retreat once again, forced to wallow like a daft idiot while the others take care of business.
Solas gives her an odd look.
Without her magic she can't fight and makes for a very confused, angry target. She's glad Cassandra is such a powerhouse and can pick up her slack. Still, it doesn't help the hit to her pride when the fighting has ended and Cassandra turns toward her with a tremendously unimpressed expression.
"My—my magic isn't working right."
Cassandra makes a disgusted noise, Varric offers a smile, and Solas is silent.
"Ah," says Varric. "Don't beat yourself up about it. We all have off days."
"Off days aside," Cassandra says. "We still have work to do. You cannot fight but you can close the rift. Come."
The fight at the rift is brutal. There's little to do but watch from her perch – up high and away from the battle. The creatures that pour from the rift are unlike anything she's ever seen; twisted, mangled things that screech and scramble her thoughts. The final one on huge. It talks. And it takes quite the shit kicking before it falls, breaking into ash as disappearing into the tear.
When it's all over they call her down and she hurries – past charred corpses and some sort of glowing red crystals with her eyes cast down. She'd like not to remember this. In the middle of the rubble she stands, lifts her hand toward the sky, and it connects like a puzzle piece. The pain rips into her arm, down her spine, to her bones.
Magnolia sways, eyes rolling and bile rising in her throat.
She's unconscious even before she can see the tear close.
AN: So these first couple of chapters are going to be used mainly for setting scenes and working through Magnolia's confusion and mindset. There's a lot to cover; even in-game the Inquisitor is confused as hell, and they're part of that world. Now imagine someone who's not, and suddenly there's so much to cover. But after the initial nitty-gritty we get into the fun stuff: magical know-how, relationship building, and general lost in translation troubles. With that being said I'm so happy to see people are interested in this so far. I always feel nervous about writing and it warms my heart to see people are willing to give me a chance!
Until next time,