Poetry

"Well, folks, it's 9:30 pm here on the East Coast, which means Beverly should be making her Jersey Shore debut in a matter of minutes. If you're here in the Northeast, I hope you're hunkered down. I'll be here until the lights go off, so I hope you'll stay with me."

I knew running a Twitch stream in a hurricane was a risky proposition, but I had a 75 person-per-night viewing audience of loyal fans, and I hadn't missed a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday night stream in over a year. Besides, it was Dragon Age. I loved Dragon Age. I'd played 2463 hours of Inquisition alone, and was well into the four digits in both Origins and DA2. This stream was Inquisition, getting towards the end of a completionist run through all three games. By popular acclaim, Dalish archer Ellana Lavellan was romancing Josephine Montilyet, and things were going swimmingly, at least until someone murdered the couriers she'd sent to Val Royeaux to help re-establish her family's Orlesian trade routes. Oh noes!

"Okay, poll time!" I called into the mic. "You heard the ladies. Leliana thinks we should attack the House of Repose directly, while Josephine would rather jump through a few diplomatic hoops to get a peaceful solution. Your call, Twitch-world. What should we do?"

Personally, I liked to just have Leliana's people go in and make the swipe. From a role-playing standpoint, even if I'm romancing Josephine (and I'm often romancing Josephine), I think an Inquisitor who had even the slightest strategic impulse would much rather keep their ambassador safe, even if it meant hurting her feelings. But the paper chase on the War Table is fun, so I expected there would be a close race between the two options. Alas, I never got to find out, because that's when the power decided to go.

I lived about an hour north of Point Pleasant, which is where Beverly finally did touch land. She was rated a Category 4, but was moving fairly quickly, so wind damage rather than flooding was going to be the main concern. A few years of nope-there's-no-global-warning-here hurricanes taught me that the first bands only get clocked in at 60-70% of the official wind speed, which meant the wind should be between 90-100mph. Probably not the wisest weather to be out in, but there's a reason car insurance rates for men in their early 20s are higher than anyone else's. So, being young and foolhardy, I walked out of my apartment building and up two blocks to the main drag, where I saw city blocks go dark one after another, each accompanied by the blue light of a transformer blow. A transformer curiously like the one I was standing next to, which was where that acrid, burning smell was coming from.

Well, shit.


Everything hurt. I felt like one giant bruise lying on the stone floor of this - wait. Where was I? I tried to sit up, but the spreader bar (really? pre-modern fetish gear?) they had holding my wrists apart was heavy, and there was a sharp, tingling pain in my hand.

A sharp, tingling pain in my green-glowing left hand.

"Yes!" I exclaimed, before hearing the jangling armor of an alerted prison guard. I had been training for this my entire life - or, at least in the 10 years since the first Inquisition fanfiction had started to show up on AO3. I was a modern boy. I was in Thedas. Let's do this.

I sat up as best as I could, wanting to make as good an impression on Cassandra and Leliana as possible. Not knowing how much time I'd have before their arrival, I ran through the choices I'd have to make during the game that had now become my life. Do I tell them I know everything or not? When should I let them know about Solas? Do I risk changing the timeline? If I don't tell them, how do we evacuate Haven? What if this is one of those where Common isn't English and Orlesian isn't French? Merde.

This was all too hard. There was a reason I always chose the Templars - no time-travel paradoxes to wrap my brain around. Besides, the most important question of all was still out there: who was I going to romance? I made a few quick checks to see that I had, indeed, crossed into Ferelden the same way I left New Jersey. (I even still had my glasses on my face, so there was going to be no way of hiding the fact that I wasn't Thedosian.) This meant that I was human and male, which gave me four possible romances. And as Bull (no - The Iron Bull. Dude likes his articles) scared the crap out of me, and Dorian always struck me as someone who'd have a strict "No dating straight boys" policy, there were really only two: Cassandra and Josephine. Yes, Josephine was my main squeeze, my 'bae' as they would have said in the late 2010s. Since the first time I saw her cooly ask Marquis DuRellion when he'd like the duel with Cassandra scheduled, I was smitten. That said, I almost always played female Inquisitors; coming into the game as a man, I might want to keep my options open.

Then the door to my cell opened, a pair of hazel eyes bored into my very soul, and suddenly no options were necessary.

"Tell me why we shouldn't kill you now?"

I willed myself not to sing along as she continued.

"The conclave is destroyed, everyone who attended it is dead, except for you."

I tried to open my mouth to speak, but I was a jumbled mess of excited, afraid, confused, and a little bit in love, so by default I chose the "Remain Silent" option. As expected, she grabbed my glowing left hand.

"Explain this."

"I can't," I replied, without the stutter the voice actors put in.

"What do you mean, 'you can't?'"

"I don't know what that is, or how it got there," I said, finding it easier just to recite the lines from the cut scene than actually talk. But after Leliana pulled Cassandra aside, I was able to find my voice.

"Um, Sister Nightingale? Lady Pentaghast?"

My two interrogators turned towards me, and Leliana was over to me in a flash.

"Who are you? How do you know our names?" she hissed. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and began.

"My name is, um, Joey. As you may be able to tell from these eyeglasses, I'm not from Thedas."

"What do you mean, 'not from Thedas?'" Cassandra scoffed.

"I mean precisely that. I am from an entirely different world. Thedas is spoke of in legends where I'm from, but we would look at you coming to us with much the same suspicion you're looking at me now."

"Go on…"

And I did. I told them about the hurricane, the electrical explosion, and my guess as to how I arrived in their prison. I told them things about themselves only they would know (and I was so happy to have seen Dawn of the Seeker three times). I told them what I knew of the nascent Inquisition, and what the mark on my hand was supposed to do. I even told them that I knew who had been keeping me alive.

Cassandra stopped me at one point. "So, you tell us that you arrived here through the fade, you know everything about us as if you had been watching our lives in person, you claim to be exactly who we need at exactly the moment we need it."

I nodded my head

Then she asked, "Are you a demon?"

I absolutely couldn't help myself. "We prefer the term 'choice spirit.'"

"I see."

My eyes were so fixed on Cassandra's hand at her sword's hilt that I didn't see Leliana coming behind me to drive a knife through my back. As I was fading away, I saw Cassandra looking at me with pity. I returned her gaze, and with my dying breath managed to gurgle out,

"I would have read you poetry."