ThawWisps of breath stained the still, cold air white above a sleeping girl's face. The world was silent here, lit with a dull silver glow that filtered through ice and snow packed around the cracked car windows. The girl's steady breath changed abruptly and a ragged scream broke the calm as her eyes flew open. Blank, confused blue eyes. Panic. And then a deep, choking breath. The scream cut off, stillness creeping back in. She lay there a moment, chest rising and falling, greyed lips parted. "Still here," she spoke, voice rusty, raspy.
She sat up, stretching awkwardly, limbs bounded by the front seat and the spidered glass of the broken hatch window. Tanya was cold, so cold she no longer shivered. Her hands, hidden in the woolen wells of her gloves, were pale and grey, nails brittle. Her feet, should she decide to pull off the socks that clung to her skin, were turning black. She pulled them up to her lap and rubbed each foot vigorously, though it had been some time since she could
Heart and Home Chap. 21
Blood coated the walls of the small keep and ran in little streams toward a crack in the floor. Fenris stood still as stone, breath misting in the air, counting heart beats. A man lay dying at his feet, entrails steaming in the cool air. He already smelled rotted, as if dead a week, though it had only been moments since he flung himself out of hiding at the elf. His companion was nearby. Fenris was certain of it. His ears strained for proof, muscles tense with anticipation. There, on his left. He spun, his sword humming as he brought the great blade over and down in a skull splitting arc.
The man was fast. He rolled right and forward, coming up against the elf's chest. Close in, he stabbed with a small, curved dagger. It parted his armor with ease and opened the skin beneath in a wide, bloody arc. Fenris gasped and dropped his blade, tattoos growing brighter in a breath. The man, unaware of his peril, took this as a sign of triumph. He gave the elf a feral grin and drew back his
Strange Companions pt. 5Dako was nervous. He tried to focus on his work and ignore the noises outside, but the harder he tried, the harder it was. Ever since Tichlas' visit, the kobolds had been rowdier. They fought often and loudly, hissing and yipping at all hours, sometimes even attacking one another. The divide between Tichlas and Gniklo's supporters was becoming violent and the wizard occupied an uncomfortable position between them. It was Gniklo's supporters that kept them safe and alive in the hopes of a resurrection, while Tichlas' people called for blood. But Tichlas might be their ticket out.
Dermott wasn't any better. The barbarian tried to pretend he was sleeping through most of it, but his muscles twitched at every sound. Right now he was slumped over a pile of white beaver skins. Another request Dako had hoped to stall with. Unfortunately, it turned out albino beaver or winter-skins weren't so hard to come by. Dermott was stitching them into a robe for appearance' sake. Or he was supposed to be.
Heart and Home Chap. 20
Fenris smiled. It had been awhile since he had anything to really smile about, but tonight was special. The ground was hard and the night air was cold, but Hawke was warm and soft in his arms. She kissed him eagerly, lips bruising his with ardor. Riese was still kissing him as she began to tug off his clothes. The elf wasn't sure what prompted this sudden, sweeping passion, but a smart man did not question it when his woman dragged him off to the woods for a tryst. A wise man enjoyed it, and Fenris did his best to be a wise man.
The cool moonlight glistened on damp leaves and a light breeze sent a shudder through the trees around the lovers. Fenris wondered if any of the Dalish on hunters were about, but he didn't have much time to worry. Hawke managed to undo the elf's trouser lacing and the buckles of his leathers. She slid them off in a deft motion, leaving him vulnerable, naked in the chill spring night. His skin dimpled and a shiver ran up his spine as the mage gri
Strange Companions pt 4Arcs of flame leapt from rock to rock in a river of molten stone sending sparks to sizzle in the sulfurous water that pooled nearby. A scaled beast paced in the steam and dark, serpent like and swift. Its hide shone with a ruby glow, reflecting the dim light. The dragon had the girth of a pony and the length of three tall men, small yet for its kind. Restless, the creature stalked from shadow to shadow, tale lashing out behind it. On the ground nearby a kobold lay prostrate amid piles of gold and gems the creature so loved. The scent of its burning flesh filled Szmaj's nostrils, a heady odor that ignited his hunger. Tempted though he was the dragon resisted his urge to devour the pathetic slave, instead trying to focus on its desperate rambling.
"The wizard that took my speaker is asking me for what?"
"B-black opals, oh god of the deeps! It wants them - needs them it says! To return the speaker!" The kobold was gasping with fright as Szmaj got closer, teeth scraping the ban
Heart and Home Chap. 19
Fenris woke to the sounds of full on battle. The sky above crackled with arcing lightning and the air smelled of ozone. "It's just one woman!" Someone nearby shouted. There was no reply, only a ragged sound of surprise. Hawke, the elf thought, grinning. The expression hurt his face, cheeks swollen and tight from the beating he took. His hands were firmly secured behind him, and his body . . . the elf looked down to see a dull, brown canvas sack shifting in the dirt. "Like a cat in a sack," he laughed. These Dalish had nothing on a magister when it came to keeping a captive.
The shrubbery behind Fenris exploded, dirt and bits of plant showering the elf and everything around him. A nearby caravel was on its side, and there was rubble scattered through the small clearing. The campfire he remembered before passing out was nowhere to be seen, and Dalish darted between the trees and brush, caught by surprise in the fury of Hawke's attack.
"Riese!" Fenris shouted, voice raspy. He didn't think
Strange Companions pt 3Screams echoed through the caverns, muted through miles of stone, vibrating the dark, rushing waters of an underground river before stilling into silence. The anguished sounds invaded Dako's dreams, an edge of fear stealing rest from his sleep. The wizard struggled to wake, groggy and sore. His head hurt and his eyes were dry and grainy as he blinked at the feeble candle light. Dako could taste bile in his throat, and his skin was hot and clammy. He looked around carefully before sitting up, letting his senses adjust to this place. The last he remembered, Dermott was climbing from a pit and then a sharp pain. Nothing after until now, where he lay on filthy furs that smelled of rotted meat and bodily humors. Sweat, blood, piss, and vomit, the wizard thought, lips twisting in distaste. Some of it was probably his.
The candle flickered nearby, a stub set firmly into a rock on the floor. A piece of canvas was stretched above him like a tent, but tied off to the stalagmites along the floor
Heart and Home Chap. 18
The alley was a cramped, dark stain between two leaning wooden buildings, their warped boards forming the walls of entry to the district's most notorious black market. Carver made his way carefully, taking deep slow breaths to control his shaking. He'd never gone so long without a draught of lyrium. He felt weak, dizzy. The walls and sky spun in his vision and it took every ounce of hard earned focus to keep him headed in the right direction. Merrill said there was a carta shop here. Dwarves with lyrium and no chantry ties. That promise kept him going, one step after another, his pain a second heartbeat to count the minutes by.
Inside the market, men and women in heavy cloaks clumped around carts and tables of illicit merchandise while others with no visible goods, only services on offer, stood on the fringes, waiting. Money changed hands, and in one dark corner, a gleam of steal, a gasp of pain, and then pooling blood as a client failed to strike a deal. Carver tried to stand straight