“It will take near a month to travel there,” Vun’amelan stated, knowing he was listening. Keeper Deshanna had gone back to the clan to let them have some privacy, and to inform the others of her leaving. “We have enough gold to get a boat to Jader, and then buy a horse. We can travel to Lydes from there to stock up, and head south to the Arbor Wilds.”
She could feel him grumbling, somewhere off to her left. “I’ll take that as a yes. The Keeper has given us the rest of the day to ourselves, and I intend to use it productively. Starting with what we can do.” With that, she sat cross-legged on the soft ground.
After a full minute, Fen’harel sat opposite her, sullen. Smiling, Vun’amelan said, “I’m thinking of practising our fighting skills. If we can communicate feelings, then we might be able to do the same with actions. If so, I don’t want us all over the place. Last thing we need is us getting confused on whose meant to be hitting what. What do you think?”
He tilted his head. “A sound idea. What do you want to start with?”
“Exercises. And a challenge, if you are up to it.”
That had him perking up. “Oh?”
“No verbal communication,” she stated. “We need to be wholly in tune with each other, if we are to survive a fight.”
Fen’harel nodded. “Agreed.”
With that, Vun’amelan closed her eyes and focused on their bond, keeping her own mental shields up. Years of keeping them up and bottling her emotions was unhealthy, she knew, but the last thing they needed was her breaking down. She could easily make out Fen’harel’s jagged edges. Carefully, she let her own essence gently skim over them, testing. The jagged edges began to soften, slowly turning into something more manageable. She thought over her next actions, reflecting the image through it.
“It’s blurred.” Fen’harel’s voice was soft this time, settling around her mind like a warm blanket. She grumbled, trying again and ended up with the same results. Frustration needled her.
The warmth reached towards it. “It will take time. Patience.”
She took a deep breath, sending a wave of gratitude towards him.
They continued to practise, and slowly got the hang of it. Though, they did have to pause in their movements to send the next action. It was a struggle at first, but they slowly worked to doing both at once without too much strain. Vaguely, she realised her body was cooling down. The sun was starting to set.
“I believe we’ve done well,” Fen’harel murmured aloud, withdrawing from her. The sudden emptiness left her disorientated. “Ir abelas.”
She let out a small groan. “It’s fine. We’ll have to be more gentle when separating.” Slowly, she got to her feet. Her vision blurred for a moment. She closed her eyes, focusing; once the nausea eased, she opened her eyes and began her trek towards the clan. Stopped, hesitating.
She didn’t have to voice her worries. Fen’harel merely placed a hand on her shoulder. “You will do fine.”
Breathing deeply, she nodded and started walking. Most of her clan had retired. Lanise and Suran sat at the fire, waving as she walked by. She waved back, trying hard not to think of their mangled bodies. Keeper Deshanna stood by her tent, giving her a familiar look. Quickly, Vun’amelan made her way to her Keeper.
“When do you plan to leave?” Keeper Deshanna asked, not unkindly.
“Honestly? Tomorrow morning, but we’re fine at leaving at a later date.”
“You can leave tomorrow,” Keeper Deshanna agreed. “I would prefer you not to travel alone. You have him, yes, but you can’t speak with him whilst in towns.”
“We’ll be fine,” she assured. “We’ll be using our travelling time to practise telepathically communicating. We’ve got a reasonable base down, though there is a lot to work through. Also, we cannot risk word getting out to the wrong people.”
Deshanna sighed in resignation. “Alright.”
“What will you tell the clan?”
“That you are undergoing a dire mission for me, about our history.”
Vun’amelan nodded. “That should work well.”
“It will.” Deshanna tilted her head, gaze inquisitive. “Something troubles you, da’lan.”
“Indeed, Keeper. I…” she thought over her words. “My name… It no longer suits me. To be honest, not many call me Vun’amelan anymore. Or will, in this case.”
Her Keeper went quiet. She started to worry, until Deshanna asked, “and what name would you prefer?”
“… Tabritha,” she decided, not wanting to reveal the whole name. Deshanna gave her a look, and she wilted. “It’s short for Tabritha’fen’harel. Reincarnation of the Dread Wolf.”
“Oddly fitting,” Deshanna chuckled. “Oh, your brother wishes to speak with you.” She gestured towards the forest. “He’s been waiting little over an hour now.”
“… I will speak with him, then. Dar’eth shiral, Keeper.”
“Tas dar’eth, da’lan.”
Swallowing, the newly named Tabritha made her way towards her brother. She could make out his outline, sitting quietly on a branch. “Evune.”
Dark green eyes, much like her own, peered down at her. “Vun.” He leapt off, landing on his feet gracefully. A sudden feeling of surprise washed over her, but she ignored it in favour of listening to her brother. “What’s this talk of you travelling?”
“The Keeper has me looking into our history. I won’t be back for two months, at least.” She paused. “Possibly longer, depending.”
“Two months?” He shook his head. His hair was lighter than hers, the moonlight giving it an eerily glow. “And where exactly are you going?”
“Yeah, but where?”
“I… can’t say,” she said slowly, guilt rising. She hated lying to her brother, but this was something she couldn’t risk others finding out about. “I promise, I’ll tell you once I get back. I can’t risk this knowledge getting into the wrong hands.”
The expression that passed his face made her gut clench in unease. Panic gripped her, and it took everything to keep a straight face. “Fenedhis, Fen’harel, do you mind?”
“Because that’s not ominous at all,” Evune’amelan grumbled. “Fine, fine. It better be a good explanation.”
That surprised her. Her brother wasn’t known to back off, especially when it came to her. While she was a year younger, the Keeper chose her as First and her brother Second. Needless to say, it had left a strain on their relationship and countless arguments. Some had even involved a fireball or two, much to the Keeper’s chagrin.
“It will,” she promised. “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. Shall we?”
“Lead the way.”
With that, the two siblings made their way back. Once in her tent and alone, she hissed quietly, “what is your problem?”
Fen’harel appeared before her, clearly panicked. “I met him once, with Athras and Halveri. He’s one of my agents.”
She opened her mouth. Closed it. Repeated it about three times before deciding, “I’m too tired for this. Tell me about it tomorrow.”
“I must ask – why that name?”
At the question, she shot him a sharp grin. “To annoy Solas, of course.”
Bafflement, then a sudden burst of sadistic amusement came from him. She almost laughed.
Leaving the clan was the easy part, she found. Travelling with a newly turned ghost was the hard part.
“Will you please quieten your thoughts?” Tabritha hissed. “I almost ran into a tree. Again.”
“Ir abelas, lethal’lan,” he apologised, walking back to her side. “As a ghost, everything feels… different.”
“I understand all of this is new to you, but canwe save the over excitement for later please? Anyway, why is my brother one of your agents? And how? He’d never hide something like that from me! At least, I thought he wouldn’t….” she trailed off. Nausea settled deep into her gut. How much is he hiding from me?
“He usually accompanies Athras, who is in contact with one of my best agents, Halveri,” Fen’harel answered. “As for why he kept this from you, he was sworn to secrecy. The fault is not his.”
At feeling his guilt, she wanted to reassure him but came short on words. Instead, she asked, “will he inform your agent about this?”
“Ah,” she nodded. “That’s why you panicked. He’ll send some of his agents after us, won’t he?”
“Yes.” Worry rolled off him. “If he finds out about us-”
“Then we’ll need to be careful,” Tabritha interrupted. She slowed down, focusing on their bond. “Stick to telepathy, and do not reveal yourself no matter what. We’ll have a few days to work on that.”
Fen’harel faded from view, voice gentle. “Well, we best start practising.” Alarm shot through their bond. “Watch out-!”
Without warning, Tabritha felt herself being thrust mentally backwards as her body moved on its own. Her body caught itself before falling, straightening. Disbelief, not her own, clouded her. Realisation dawned. “How did you do that?”
“I… I’m not sure,” came the bewildered reply. He lifted her- his arm? They looked down. Instead of her own body, it was his. “I knew you were going to fall, so I went to intercept it and… Well, not only have I taken over your body, but replaced it with mine.”
“This is so weird. Can you please leave? And slowly! I don’t appreciate being disorientated.”
Fen’harel did so, and she let out a breath as she gained back control of her body. She patted herself down, happy to have her body back to being solid and hers. “Okay, new lesson: how to do that on purpose, cause being mentally thrown backwards doesn’t feel nice. Argh, I think I’m gonna throw up...”
The first week was spent in relative silence. Constant telepathic communication had strengthened their bond, making it easier to predict the other. At times, it felt like they were one person. She knew she should be worried, but the thought of being able to fix the future overpowered it.
It was during that week she remembered what her people had called her, when she had been fighting the Blight. The shem’s were quite uncreative; those brave enough would call her Dread Inquisitor to her face.
Her fellow Dalish, however, were far more creative. She couldn’t remember who had told her – Charter, maybe? It was hard to remember sometimes… Whoever it was, she had earned the name of Fen’harel’banal – Dread Wolf's destruction. When the human’s caught on, it had become a symbol of hope.
In the end, she realised morbidly, she had been his destruction. A small chuckle escaped her.
Curiosity could be felt from Fen’harel. With a sigh, she told him, earning a chuckle. “I remember my Agents telling me. That title is what swayed some to your side.”
“Really? Maybe I should have kept the name.”
That earned her a full laugh. “My younger self wouldn’t approve.”
She grinned. “All the more reason.”
Another week passed, and Fen’harel said they were being followed. She took his word for it, even though she felt no eyes on her. Whoever was tracking them couldn’t be found by normal means, but Fen’harel wasn’t restricted by normality.
“How should we lose them?” Tabritha asked, making sure her coin purse was hidden. Cumberland was a day away, and she didn’t want to risk losing her coins.
“We don’t,” he answered. At her bafflement, he elaborated. “We can lose them through the Dales. There’s tunnels around there.”
“And if they find us again?”
“We’ll deal with them. As long as they don’t see us entering the temple, we should be fine.”
She thought it over. “So, essentially, kill them before entering. By the time word gets back, we’ll be long gone. Hopefully.”
Fen’harel hummed in agreement, presence mellowing out. She had learnt that was his way of saying ‘I want time to myself’, so she left him to it. Stretching, she poked at her small fire and checked her satchel. She had four days rations left. I’ll pick up more in Jader.
Her rations would have lasted longer, but constantly pushing her mana to its limits had left her ridiculously hungry. Her younger body wasn’t used to eating small, either. Oddly enough, she couldn’t stand normal foods. They were too overpowering, after so long on eating tasteless foods. Learning to eat the simplest things – like fruit – was a trying experience.
Placing a fire glyph beneath the campfire, she slowly made her way to bed. She had started to hate sleeping; entering the Fade wasn’t a comfortable experience anymore. Her bond to Fen’harel had drawn both spirits and demons alike. Unfortunately, the demons tended to linger.
Regret and Vengeance tended to trail after her, keeping at a careful distance. They never approached; merely watched. She stared at them, though it was hard to discern their appearance. It tended to change every time she entered. With a huff, she muttered, “why won’t you approach me?”
“They don’t know what to make of you,” Fen’harel informed her. He was curled next to her feet, his wolf form’s size on par with the statues in the Emerald Graves. Laying down with his head raised, his eyes were level with hers. The first time seeing him at his full height, she had been rooted to the spot. As such, he tended to not stand up too much.
A thought hit her. “Can you turn into a wolf back in the physical world?”
A deep, rumbling sound erupted from his chest, clearly thinking. “Possibly. I haven’t tried yet.”
“I wonder if I could do it, six eyes and all,” Tabritha murmured, deciding to sit down and lean against his soft fur. “It’d scare the shit out of Sera.”
That earned her a snort. “Shapeshifting is possible to learn.”
She blinked. “Wait, really? Can you teach me?”
“We can start now, if you wish. Though, it is best to start small.”ns188.8.131.52da2