Joe's Note: While Loki's portrayal in this story was remarkably easy to settle on, I had a far harder time figuring out what I was going to do with Amora. Mostly because... well, human mages are a normal if not wholly socially acceptable thing in Thedas. Amora hates blending in. Even being an obvious apostate or open blood mage would be too pedestrian for her tastes; she would hate being just one in a crowd even if it's a small-ish crowd. So I was poking around through the World of Thedas books and stumbled over something fascinating: Flemeth and Morrigan weren't the only Witches of the Wilds, nor are they exclusive to the Korcari Wilds. There are Witches of the Wilds scattered all over Thedas, lurking at the edges of civilization. And in that instant, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the Enchantress...
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Howard, Samuel, Dale, Alexander, Tibor, Alonsis2, MJ, Daniel, Christopher, Stephen, Crusifikz70, Chris, Fablesrogue, Morgan, Janne, Joseph, Jason, mpop, RileyWestfall, bloodylord, Zachary, Marc, Ziryo, Timothy, Leigh, Chris, George, Koby, Dimitria, William, Frank, Mitch, Mauday, Stephane, Ken, Warslick, Paul, Pat, Edward, Elliot, Roman, Joel, Warren, Jess, and mikel for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
"Having the Herald address the clerics is not a terrible idea."
"You can't be serious."
"With all due respect... it is quite possibly the worst idea I have heard in quite some time. Have you actually met the Herald, Josephine? Spent any time talking to her?"
Josephine ducked her head, staring pointedly down at her clipboard in an attempt to hide the grimace that Cassandra's question elicited. She had in fact met the Herald when Janet had invaded her office like a whirlwind, poking and prodding at everything while talking a mile a minute. "Yes, and while she's a bit... rough around the edges, shall we say? That does nothing to change the fact that Mother Giselle isn't wrong, Cullen: at the moment, the Chantry's only strength is that they are united in opinion. Undermine that, sow doubt and dissent... and that united front will crumble. From there, we can pick them off one by one until we've swayed enough clerics to our cause that the remainder will approach us."
Clearing her throat, Leliana waited until she was sure that she had both of the advisors' attention before wading into their disagreement. "A small part of me feels like this plan would present an unacceptable degree of risk to the Herald. The rest of me is uncertain that even a dragon would pose a threat to Janet's health and safety at this point."
A troublesome but wholly valid point, Josephine was reluctantly willing to admit to herself. Because for all that she and Leliana and Cullen and even Cassandra wanted to portray themselves as valuable, even vital to the continuing success of the nascent Inquisition and her Inquisitor? They were all uncomfortably aware that the woman they'd declared Inquisitor Pym was in a class of her own, capable of single-handedly vanquishing demons that had previously taken small armies to defeating. And she kept the company of beings even more powerful than she was.
While Janet was quite emphatic about the fact that the pair weren't really gods - and Loki even more so when it came to Amora - it was hard for Josephine to take the women at their word. Especially given the way Loki had swept through Haven when she first arrived with the Inquisitor, hunting down and driving out the Dread Wolf himself. Evidently as the resident Trickster Goddess of her own pantheon, Loki saw Fen'Harel as a competitor of sorts and felt the need to establish her dominance, sending 'Solas' fleeing the encampment with a mixture of spells and cutting words. If she could engage and soundly beat the very being who was purported to have sealed away the Creators and the Forgotten Ones of Dalish lore... what did that make Loki, if not a goddess herself?
And then there was Amora. While marginally less powerful than Loki, it did little to make the 'Enchantress' less formidable in Josephine's eyes. While Loki found it amusing to assume the form of a Qunari tamassran while she assisted the Inquisition, a decision that Josephine was certain would have political ramifications down the road that she'd be stuck dealing with? Amora had taken to imitating the infamous Witches of the Wilds, declaring the infamous apostate shapeshifters to be 'quaint' and 'adorable' but also 'very much her kind of people'. If the purportedly immortal Flemeth and her ilk were what Amora found amusing... was there anything in Thedas capable of presenting a genuine threat to the blonde? Much less Loki?
"Just out of curiosity, are any of you familiar with the term 'operational security'?" Breezing into the room with the subjects of Josephine's thoughts trailing behind her, Janet came to a stop on the opposite side of the war table with her hands on her hips. "I mean, granted the only reason that I know it is from listening to Steve and watching war movies... but still! If this is what all of your meeting are going to be like, we seriously need to look into getting this place soundproofed. Enemy spies won't even need to eavesdrop; they'll be able to listen in from out near Threnn's fire."
Wilting under Janet's accusing look, the suitably chastised advisors each murmured some sort of apology for their behavior, Josephine intentionally going last in hopes of taking control of the conversation and redirecting it back to the matter at hand. "While we may have gotten a bit... vocal... in defense of our positions, Inquisitor, the fact remains that we have been handed an incredible opportunity that should not be ignored. Especially given that - as Leliana noted - the risk to you is minimal."
Janet's brow furrowed in thought as she stared down at the map spread out across the war table, her fingers idly tracing swirling patterns across the Empire of Orlais as she thought. "Personally? I don't think I should be talking to anyone. I've only been here a few days and I've spent most of that time putting out fires around Haven and the Hinterlands. I know absolutely nothing about this Chantry of yours, why I should care about it, or what the right things to say to these clerics would be. But..." Looking up, Janet raised a hand to forestall Josephine as the Antivan opened her mouth. "But I'm also not an idiot. No matter what Amora and Loki seem to think sometimes. We're strangers in a strange land right now... your land. And if you say this is important? Then it's important."
A far more measured and sensible response than Josephine had - perhaps unkindly - expected from their capricious Inquisitor. She didn't know what she needed to, but she was willing to learn and - most importantly - bow to their expertise for the time being. Given that neither Janet nor her companions seemed adverse to reading, and all three were in fact capable of devouring large amounts of material in a short period of time while retaining the majority of what they read? Perhaps she should offer to- "I still object. Going on this fool's errand just lends credence to the idea that we should care what the Chantry says. We should be focusing on bolstering our forces."
Oh, for fuck's sake, Cullen.
Thankfully, Cassandra was there to support Josephine as a voice of measured reason in favor of heeding Mother Giselle's words. "Which is why we must go to Val Royeaux and attempt to appease our critics. We will soon exhaust our supply of willing recruits in this area, forcing us to expand our sphere of influence if we wish to continue growing. Each cleric that the Inquisitor can sway to our cause will give us access to new faithful to recruit from." As Cullen took a moment to digest that, a thoughtful look on his face, the Seeker turned to Leliana to address her concerns. "Loki and Amora will come along as protection. I will go with her as an advisor. While we are gone, do what you can from here in Haven to help us. Mother Giselle said that she could provide us names. Acquire them and begin reaching out to her contacts on our behalf."
"If it's all the same to you, Cassandra, I feel that Varric would make a far more suitable traveling companion to Val Royeaux than I." Amora did her best to look innocent as she circled around the table, gesturing down at her body as she walked. After all, if you're attempting to convince the Chantry that the Inquisition is legitimate... perhaps it would be better to not have your Inquisitor arrive with a Witch of the Wilds by her side?" Coming to a stop beside Josephine, the blonde looped an arm around the smaller woman's waist before smiling down at her. "I think it would be better for all of us if I stayed behind on this one. Perhaps... spent my time with the Lady Montilyet, getting to know this world a bit better?"
Why did the blonde's words make Josephine feel so nervous?
Why was Janet smirking at her like that?
Janet hummed to herself softly as she skipped through the darkened alleys of Val Royeaux on her way to some sort of mysterious and undoubtedly exciting clandestine meeting. So far, her visit to the city had been a bit of a mixed bag. Unsurprisingly, she'd been unable to sway Revered Mother Hevara's mind when it came to either the Inquisition as a whole or Janet's role within it. But in a considerably more bewildering turn of events, Cassandra's superior had summarily dismissed her before going on to declare the Templar Order independent from the Chantry, withdrawing the Templars to parts unknown and abandoning his obligation to protect Val Royeaux completely.
Things weren't entirely a wash, though. She'd met a lovely Orlesian merchant named Belle who had volunteered to help supply the Inquisition with food and other necessities, and spoken with Grand Enchanter Fiona about a possible alliance with the rebel mages of Ferelden. That was in addition to the invitation that Janet had received to attend the 'salon' of someone called First Enchanter Vivienne... and the message received by arrow that had sparked her current adventure. Personally, Janet was hoping to find a strapping warrior type of some sort waiting for her at her destination. Cassandra was cute and all, but so very uninteresting.
Pushing open the pair of large blue doors that led to her destination, Janet recoiled backward just in time to avoid taking a fireball to the face, instinctively reducing her size until her wings emerged so that she could do a graceful backflip over the followup attack. "Herald of Andraste! How much did you expend to discover me? It must have weakened the Inquisition immeasurably."
Wow. Josephine had warned her that Orlesian nobles tended to be a snobby, self-centered, egotistical bunch, but this was so much worse than Janet had expected. Especially given that despite his posturing... "I have absolutely no idea who you are."
"You don't fool me. I'm too important for this to be an accident." The mage continued to strut back and forth as he postured; despite all the words coming out of his mouth, Janet was still no closer to figuring out who this man was or why he thought he would matter to her. And based on his behavior, he hadn't been the one to invite her here... so who had? "My efforts will survive in victories against you elsewhere."
Before Janet could repeat her ignorance for a second time, there was the twang of a bow firing and the blue-clad guard off to the left let out a shout before collapsing to the ground. From out behind him stepped a young blonde woman in a red tunic and a truly hideous pair of yellow plaid pants. Nocking another arrow, she grinned mischievously at the nameless man. "Just say what."
"What is the- URK!"
As the obnoxious man went down with a bad case of arrow to the face, Janet broke into peels of laughter. "Oh my God, that was hilarious! Finally, someone else around here who appreciates both quips and shooting people in the face with arrows. I have no idea who you are or what you want, but if you want to join the Inquisition? You're in. I need more of this in my life."
"That's what I'm here for, yeah. And hey, you followed the notes well enough so at least my new boss isn't thick. Good to know." Bending down, the blonde roughly yanked the arrow out of the man's face, shaking it a few times before returning it to her quiver and straightening up in front of Janet. "...and you're an elf. Well. Hope you're not too... elfy?"
The question elicited twin snorts from both Cassandra and Loki, the latter shaking her head in amusement as she stepped up beside Janet. Raising one hand, she unleashed a blast of icy magic that raised goosepimples along Janet's bare shoulders as the Asgardian froze the corpse and then used another pulse of magic to reduce it to a fine powdery coating of snow on the pavers. "I can assure you, elf, that Janet is most definitely the least 'elfy' person you will ever meet."
Wait, what? The woman who didn't want her to be 'too elfy' was a... Janet cocked her head and leaned to one side, arching an eyebrow as she spotted the pointed ear poking out of the blonde's choppy pixie cut. Huh. She'd heard that city elves and Dalish elves had their differences, but it was different to experience it in person. Especially given that she wasn't even Dalish. But before she could voice her thoughts on either the blonde's statement or Loki's rebuttal, the archer's eyes went wide. Stepping forward, she licked her lips slowly as she looked Loki up and down. "...woof. Well, if I wasn't looking to join up before, I certainly am now."
As a throaty laugh bubbled up out of Loki, the Asgardian extending a hand that her new admirer planted a kiss on the back of, Janet scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. Well that was just great. Amora was flirting with the cute ambassador and now her newest teammate had the hots for Loki. When the hell was she going to unlock a romance option?