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The Canticle of Fate

The Canticle of Fate

{Completed} This is the song of those that would stand against the chaos. The song of the Inquisition.

15879 readers have visited this universe since AugustArria created it. Talisman, Kurokiku, Yonbibuns, and The Valkyrie are listed as curators.
Topics: advanced, bioware, city of chains, collaborative, dissonant verses, dragon age, fanfic, fantasy, and inquisition (Add Tags »)

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Introduction



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And so is the Golden City blackened
With each step you take in my Hall.
Marvel at perfection, for it is fleeting.
You have brought Sin to Heaven
And doom upon all the world.
-Threnodies 8:13

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The Mage Rebellion has begun. In the years following the violence between mage and Templar in Kirkwall, more Circles across southern Thedas rebelled against the Templars, those they saw as oppressors and jailors more than protectors and allies. Soon, all of the Circles had been disbanded, leaving every mage in Ferelden, Orlais, and the Free Marches labeled as an apostate, an enemy to all civilized peoples. The military arm of the Chantry dedicated themselves to eradicating the threat magic posed. The violence spread.

In an effort to contain the growing chaos, Divine Justinia V used her considerable influence to arrange for a meeting between the leaders of both the Templars and the mages, at a neutral site. There they would try to come to some agreement, some kind of compromise, before the war could do any further harm. Both sides made the pilgrimage in force to the Temple of Sacred Ashes, in the Frostback Mountains. Here, at this most holy site, was the best, and possibly only, chance for peace. But it was not to be. Other forces were at work, and the Conclave ended in disaster. A massive explosion decimated the Temple of Sacred Ashes from within, leaving seemingly no survivors, and opening a great rift in the sky, a massive tear in the Veil that spewed forth demons without end. The mages were scattered to the winds and left to regroup, while the Templars renewed their faith in their war.

From within the wreckage of the Temple, two individuals staggered forth from a rift, wounded and soon fading from consciousness. This would only be the beginning. From the ashes of the hope for peace, a new power would rise. It would be led by individuals willing and able to weather the storm, to stand against the chaos that had consumed Thedas. This is their song, their story, of how Fate plucked them from their lives, and chose them for something greater...





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Blessed are they who stand before
The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter.
Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just.
-Benedictions 4:10
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A Dragon Age AU written by:
AugustArria | The Valkyrie | Talisman | Yonbibuns | Kurokiku


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The City of Chains

Set during the events of Dragon Age 2, The City of Chains tells the interwoven stories of nine individuals who come to reside in the city of Kirkwall during the most turbulent eight-year period in its history. They come from all walks of life, but are united in their desire to build a life in the city they come to call home. But that life isn't easy in a city where magic, religion, race, and politics clash on a daily basis. To secure their future, they must navigate a dangerous road, one that leads to events that will shape the very future of Thedas.


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The Canticle of Fate

Three years after the events of The City of Chains, the south of Thedas is in chaos. The Mage-Templar war threatens to destroy both factions, and wreaks havoc across Ferelden. Civil war looms in Orlais as Celene's grip falters. In an effort to contain the chaos, a Conclave is called between mages and templars at the Temple of Sacred Ashes. But this only leads to tragedy, as an unseen enemy strikes, and the temple is destroyed, leaving only two mysterious survivors. With the Divine dead, the Inquisition is reborn, and called to restore order where chaos now reigns. This is their story. This is The Canticle of Fate.

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The Canticle of Fate: Silver Lion Stanza

Following the defeat of Corypheus, the Inquisition was restructured and moved to a new home in Lydes. While no imminent world-shattering threat remains for them to combat, there are still a great many dangers left over from the strife that ravaged southern Thedas. The Canticle of Fate: Silver Lion Stanza is centered around the city of Val Royeaux, where growing racial tensions between humans and elves threaten to escalate into chaos. The new Emperor and Empress send for two elven Argent Lions, agents both capable and trustworthy, to find the source of the trouble, and keep the peace. With the weight of the past and expectations for the future bearing down on them, their time to be heroes has come.

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Dragon Age: The Undoing

Something of an informal, retconned prequel to the other stories, The Undoing takes place back in the year 1:95 Divine, at the end of the second Blight. It follows a group of elite (and expendable) warriors on a last-ditch, desperate suicide mission: to take out the Archdemon's four most elite darkspawn underlings, and bring the areas of the world these generals occupy back under the control of the Grey Wardens and their allies. The team is made up of oddballs who don't fit anywhere else, the mission is damn near impossible, and everything points to an early failure. Naturally, it gets worse before it gets better.


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Character Portrait: Romulus
Romulus played by AugustArria
"We've come too far to stop now, or ever."
Character Portrait: Estella Avenarius "I've never felt anything so wonderful as the realization that I'm not alone."
Character Portrait: Marceline Benoit "Speak intelligently, act politely, smile, and hide bared fangs beneath a mask."
Character Portrait: Cyrus Avenarius "I'm a different person than I used to be - and I finally understand just how important that is."
Character Portrait: Zahra Tavish "If we're all gonna die here, at least we can give them something to talk about."
Character Portrait: Vesryn Cormyth "It's all a bit much, some days. But I'm not alone in this. Never have been."
Character Portrait: Leonhardt Albrecht "You have to rethink what you mean by 'impossible,' when you have friends like mine."
Character Portrait: Asala Kaaras "Now tell me, where does it hurt?"
Character Portrait: Kharisanna Istimaethoriel "Want to see history happen? Don't take your eyes off the Inquisition."
Character Portrait: Non-Player Characters A full collection of The Canticle of Fate's minor characters.
Character Portrait: The War Table A record of the Inquisition's undertakings.

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Thedas

Thedas by AugustArria

The Thedosian continent, from the jungles of Par Vollen in the north to the frigid Korcari Wilds in the south.

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Character Portrait: Estella Avenarius Character Portrait: Vesryn Cormyth
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It seemed like another life when Vesryn first led the Inquisition here to this fortress.

He still felt some residual guilt for convincing Stel to take credit for that. Credit she neither wanted nor needed, but credit that she'd taken anyway, because as always she put what the people, the ones that had become her people, needed above herself. And they'd needed their leader to guide them out of the darkness after Haven fell. They'd thought their other Herald had given his life to buy them time to escape. Thinking back... he wasn't sure Saraya would've been any more comfortable to take the credit than Stel was. No matter how reluctant his beloved had been to see herself as worthy and deserving of praise, he'd come to understand that Saraya was far worse.

They could always come back, he supposed. As long as they had time. Vesryn had a feeling Stel wouldn't let herself have much of that for herself in the coming days. Weeks. Years, maybe. However long it took to bring her brother home, and to change her uncle's mind. He'd do everything he could to keep her from letting it eat away at her spirit. Right now they had nothing to go on, nowhere to begin, and that was a frightening prospect, that feeling of helplessness, of being lost.

The evening air was cool, as it always was here. Winter's chill always came a little earlier to Skyhold than it did to the rest of Ferelden or Orlais, but thankfully it hadn't come quite yet. And tomorrow they'd be off to warmer pastures and a new home. Tonight they had another farewell to make.

Vesryn pulled open one side of the stable doors, allowing Stel to pass inside ahead of him. It was so quiet since the Inquisition's numbers had been sheared down to something more manageable. He'd taken over some of the work caring for the horses himself since Harellan had left, along with many of their other stablehands. Back to farms in the Hinterlands, or humble homes in Denerim, Amaranthine, any number of towns and cities.

One mount in the rear of the stables had been restless ever since they'd returned without his friend in tow. Vesryn reached a hand up to stroke along Athim's neck. The powerful, handsome halla greeted him warmly, leaning slightly into his touch, and he welcomed the saddle as it was lowered onto his back. He didn't have any need for what was inside, but then Vesryn wasn't packing the bags for the halla's benefit. Athim had made the journey here once before, and he could make it back again. Vesryn hoped Astraia would have the chance to visit home again, and maybe there they could be reunited. Her belongings could be returned to her, the gifts her clan had fashioned solely for her... as well as the letter Vesryn prepared to slip into one of the bags, addressed for Astraia's eyes only. He took once last look over what was written.

Skygirl,

Of all the challenges you have faced in life, you have never struggled with your sense of right and wrong. I know your conscience will continue to guide you down the right path. And I know that even when it faces you with the most difficult of trials, you will be able to overcome them. You will learn the true extent of what you're capable of, and you'll use your power for the good of all. If you ever need a place to turn to, the Inquisition will always welcome you home. If you ever need an ally, we will always fight at your side. I look forward to the next time we meet. You will not be prepared for the hug that awaits you.

Ves


And below was written Stel's message to her:

Astraia,

I wanted to tell you that it's been a gift to know you. I can't help but feel that some part of this mess is my fault, but I doubt you'd agree, so instead of sorry, I want to say thank you. I know you've a good heart, and I know you're strong enough to keep hold of that goodness, come what may.

I know I've no right to ask this of you, but please, if you can, look after them. Cyrus especially. After everything, I know he must be feeling the fool, and nothing tears him down so fast as feeling useless or foolish. There's a letter in here for him, too, if you could find some way to pass it along.

Above all, don't forget to take care of yourself. We'll meet again someday; that much I know. Until then, know that you're always in our thoughts.

Estella


Stel herself stood next to him, murmuring something soft to Athim, reaching up to rub at one of the halla's ears. Her recent fatigue, and the obvious conundrum before them, were carried in the lines of her posture, tension threaded into the way she held herself, the way she moved. It weighed her down, even when she wasn't thinking about it. Especially then, really, because she couldn't consciously try to relax. It was anyone's guess whether that weight would ease at all with time, or if only finding her family again would do it. Her burdens, at least, would not be lessened by the change in their circumstances, only altered.

He sealed up the letter, placing it next to the one meant for Cyrus. He hadn't read that one, but he had a feeling he knew what sort of message it contained. Closing the saddlebags, he exhaled a pent up breath. "Ready for another journey, my friend?" Athim snorted softly at him, which he took for an affirmative. There was no need to take hold of anything to lead him out; Athim had no reins on him, and followed of his own accord. He'd stop for no one on the way, Vesryn knew; halla were incredibly loyal friends to those that earned it, and suspicious of all others. More than that, Vesryn had a feeling Athim knew the cargo he was carrying was precious.

They led him to the gate, which the night shift of guards opened for the Lady Inquisitor and the Champion without needing to be commanded. The way out, the bridge, still bore some of the signs of the intense battle that had taken place there. Vesryn leaned in close to Athim's head and whispered quietly.

"Vhenas, Athim." Home. Clan Thremael did not often need to move, so remote a location were they located in. Even if they had moved, Athim would track them down anyway.

He stamped his hooves a few times and then took off at a steady pace across the bridge. Swifter than a walk but slow enough to conserve his energy for the long journey ahead. Vesryn watched him go until his antlers had disappeared from sight.

"He'll be all right," he assured Stel, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close to him. "He's got cunning to go with his looks. And I dare say there are fewer dangers out there than when he came to us." Venatori shattered, Red Templars crushed, Corypheus vanquished. The south of Thedas was downright calm compared to how it was when the Inquisition began. "What about you? Ready for the journey tomorrow?"

Stel leaned into his side, wrapping one of her arms around his waist and hooking her thumb over his belt on the far side to keep it there. "I think so," she said, the timbre of it barely enough to register over the ambient sounds of the evening. "I don't think it's felt quite right here since that first night after." She'd spent most of the afternoon carefully packing up Cyrus's things—he'd left behind an entire workshop's worth of them, from books and drawings to a suit of armor and his personal items. Only a small number of them were missing, and it went without saying that the rest would be coming with the Inquisition to Lydes. No doubt the immersion in that task was part of the reason for her melancholy now.

With what felt like great deliberateness, she slowly relaxed. "I'm sorry—I know I haven't been very good company recently. Maybe a change of scenery will do me some good." She paused a moment, then tilted her head back to speak more directly to him. "Would you like to take a walk? Around the grounds, one last time?"

"Of course." He slid his hand across her back and down her arm to thread his fingers through her own so they could walk more comfortably. The gates were lowered slowly down behind them as they made their way back into Skyhold, wandering the grounds almost aimlessly. They were all but empty as night descended. Quiet, peaceful. It was a clear night, the stars already coming out in impressive number. It would be a good night for gazing at the heavens, Vesryn noted. The sort of night they used to spend atop Cyrus's tower with him and Astraia, passing around that magical little device he'd given to her. It was with Athim now, on its way back to the Tirashan.

It did no good to compare pains, but he'd done his fair share of thinking about what Stel was going through, to try to better help with it. It wasn't grief, of course; Cyrus was alive and well, as was Harellan. But all the same she'd lost them and could no longer reach them. By the sounds of things Stel was one of the only people, possibly the only one that could make Harellan doubt himself, and his goal. By that logic Harellan would do everything he could to avoid her, despite whatever love he might have for her as family. Her mere presence weakened him, perhaps not physically, but his resolve.

It frustrated Vesryn to no end. He'd foolishly hoped for a happy end by now, somewhere clean to end this adventure and let all who took part find their happiness in peace. Instead it felt like after all they'd done and been through together, they were only just beginning. It left him tired and drained. The way ahead was not nearly as clear as it had been before.

The subject seemed like the only thing they could possibly discuss, but maybe that wasn't for the best. It was already consuming so much of their thoughts, and never led anywhere pleasant. "Did you have a chance to catch up with Lucien and Sophia, before we left Halamshiral?"

The choice must have been a good one, because it teased a little smile out of her, and a slight dip of her chin. "Just for a little bit." She sighed softly; wistfully, almost. "Somehow it's both the most obvious thing in the world and also very surprising that they're going to be parents. I guess at a certain point, you realize that it's never going to all be done, and you have to... I don't know. Just start letting yourself have the good things. The ones you got used to pushing off into the future."

Stel shrugged, as if to brush away the thought. "Lucien never said it, but I think he really wants a daughter." Her smile grew a little, and she shook her head. "Something tells me she'd be the best-loved little girl in the world if they got one. Not that either of them would care for a son any less, of course."

"Something tells me they'll have a daughter, even if it takes a few tries." Vesryn grinned at that. He didn't know either of them nearly as well as Stel did, but they were the kind of people one didn't need to know for very long to get a sense of. They hid almost nothing of who they were, and it was obvious to him that they were the kind of people that deserved that happiness. The story of how much they'd worked for that happiness was a well-known one, and also not one that needed a great deal of exaggerating, if any. As for their children, having multiple was a sensible thing, really. They would come into the world with a great responsibility saddled on them, and even all the love in the world wouldn't make that easy. Best if they could share the burden with each other.

They passed by the training rings, silent and empty. Never again would regulars and templars clash practice weapons against each other here. Leon would have to teach Khari new things elsewhere. Vesryn would have to cross different grounds to train against the little bear, and to hone his reflexes against Stel. Maybe it was past time he started doing that in full view of the sky. His skills were improving, and there was no shame in losing to someone like Khari, victor of the Grand Tourney's melee, or Estella, the Lady Inquisitor, part of the team that slew a would-be god.

"I'm not sure what I want yet," he admitted, softly. "Someday, maybe, it would be nice to stop and rest, and have a family. See if we could give the future Empress a run for 'best-loved little girl in the world.' But... not yet. There's still too much to do." It really wasn't a subject that had come up between them before. They'd been so wrapped up in other things that there wasn't really time to think about the future like that. It was a pleasant thought, though, and he turned a small smile towards Stel. "Someday?"

"I've always wanted family," she said, mirroring his expression. "But... I've also learned that there are lots of ways to have one. And this—" she squeezed his hand. "And everything we're doing now—this is what I want, right now. So... yes." She tilted her chin up, this time in clear invitation. "Someday."

He didn't hesitate to kiss her. She'd gotten a lot better at it, he noticed. Same as with everything else, all she needed was a little practice, a few chances to correct herself and improve. It was one of his favorite things about her, watching her improve herself every day. How every day he thought she was perfect, only for her to prove time and time again she could be even more.

Despite everything, Vesryn had never looked forward to the future more than this moment.

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Character Portrait: Romulus Character Portrait: Estella Avenarius
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It was not Estella's first visit to Lydes—the Argent Lions had been frequent guests in the Commander's home. But she found that now, looking at it like this, everything seemed completely different.

They'd arrived at the heart of the evening, the sky violet and indigo and fading into blue, but light still set the dark grey stone awash with the last smears of dusk, and though the edifice was forbidding in its sturdiness, the way it stood as firmly on its hill as it it had been shaped directly out of the earth itself, nostalgia and hope lent it to her a lightness not truly reflected in its architecture. It was a beautiful edifice, in the way some swords, pieces of armor, shields could be beautiful: shaped perfectly for the purpose of war and defense.

While she didn't anticipate going to war again for some time, it was reassuring that this was their home, and not some airy, spindly thing that would be easily overrun, however lovely to look at. The last few years had perhaps ensured she'd never feel completely safe in a palace again, but a keep—a keep, she could get used to.

"There it is," she breathed, sharing a brief glance with Romulus mounted beside her. "Lydes Castle."

He eyed it, unable to keep a smile from creeping onto his face. He'd been quiet most of the way over, which wasn't unusual for him, though it was becoming more and more so with each passing month. Estella could hardly forget how he'd been when they first woke in Haven. Silent, defensive, wary at all times. He was probably still wary, but now it was under the surface, allowed to be more subdued, when surrounded by friends like he was.

"Any spot you've got your eye on?" he asked her. "The tallest tower with the best view, maybe?"

She laughed, partly at herself for never even having considered it. "Honestly, I think I was expecting to just use the same room I did when I was here with the Lions. But maybe I should consider this more closely. There are an abundance of options." Fortress it might be, but the place was massive, and though certainly not every wing was dedicated to bedchambers and the like, many of them were. It was sort of easy to forget that they were about to set up shop in a castle built by the founder of the Empire, and then only improved over the ages by generations of fastidious descendants. Military men and women, almost to a one, if the late-night stories Lucien sometimes favored them with were true.

"How about you?" she rejoined, pointing Nox's nose towards the cobblestone path leading towards the keep gate and urging him forward. "I'm pretty sure all Lydes has in the basement is cellars, storage, and a dungeon, so I think you might have to pick something with an actual window this time."

He laughed at that. "You're probably right. I don't know, I haven't given it much thought either." He paused and clearly did some now, eyes wandering over the length of the battlements before them. "Maybe a tower somewhere along the wall, like Leon had? I don't know, might be more convenient if we can work somewhere close to each other. No stairs or long walks involved that way." It was true that anytime she'd needed to bring him something in Skyhold, she'd needed to descend a lengthy flight of stairs to reach the Undercroft. And the opposite was true as well.

"I guess we'll have to take a look around and see. We've got a lot to choose from." It was a larger fortress than Skyhold had been, but not so gargantuan that it would feel empty. While the Inquisition had no army anymore, they still employed enough guards to man the castle and fill its barracks.

"There's something we haven't talked about in a while." His tone grew more serious, contemplative. "Andraste, the Maker, the things the Inquisition was in part built on... do you feel any differently about them now? About how they relate to us, what we've done, and our future?"

Estella hummed, leaning back slightly to compensate for Nox's downhill descent. After a while, it had grown so much easier to not think about any of that kind of thing. Corypheus claimed that the Golden City had been empty. He'd seemed to believe it. If even that much was true, then many of the things she'd been raised to believe were not. But even setting that aside—the faith instilled in her by early years in a Chantry—at a Divine's knee, for goodness' sake... it had evaporated.

Maybe not completely, and not in the bitter way it did for some people. She wasn't jaded or disillusioned with the Chantry like others became, the mages in particular. She'd spent enough time with Leon and Séverine and even Sophia to understand that, like anything else, how good the Chantry was for the people it purported to protect had more to do with the people it comprised than anything else. But its claims and ideals had become something she didn't really think about anymore, the last vestiges of need washed away with the change in their titles, and the execution of Anais. It had just stopped mattering whether they were the chosen of Andraste or the Maker. It had become enough that they were the ones chosen by circumstance.

But even knowing that, Romulus's questions were not easy ones. "I'll happily let the Chantry take back the names of the Maker and Andraste," she admitted after a while. She'd never been too comfortable claiming them anyway. "But I think when it really comes down to it... the things we were built on will still be here. At the core, we were always just—" She passed her tongue over her teeth, trying to find the right way to put it. "A bunch of people thrust together by something—whether it be fate, the Maker, or just random chance—and the real foundation was us deciding to trust each other. At our different paces, in our different ways. Accepting what needed doing and who was around to help, and then just... doing it."

She huffed softly. "I don't see that much changing, to be honest with you."

He shook his head. "I don't either. Obviously I had my own run-ins what was supposedly the Maker's doing, and all of Thedas knows how that turned out. But still..." He shifted in the saddle, never as comfortable a rider as some of them were.

"I don't know what I believe in. I don't know if I believe in a Maker or Creators anything imaginable like that. And I don't know if they ever had a hand in the things we did. But... all the same, I feel blessed. I guess that's the word I'm looking for." He tore his eyes from the castle ahead of them and brought them to her. "To have been given the opportunities I had, the people I needed to face every trial... the chance to finally figure out how to live on my feet."

He shook his head again, eyes settling ahead of him. "Sorry, that's... I can't imagine you've been feeling anywhere near blessed, with what's happened recently."

Estella shook her head, seeking immediately to put him at ease. "It's—the immediate past hasn't been the easiest, but..." She blew a breath out her nose, almost a sigh. "I feel like it all sort of had to go together this way, you know? And if the choice was all of this or none of it... I'd choose all of it, every time."

Without Harellan, enacting his plan from the very beginning, none of this would ever have happened. And though it had brought about so much pain and death, the more Estella thought about it, the more sure she was that there was always going to be pain and death, and at least this way, there'd been so many good things to go along with it. People met, obstacles overcome, victories won. The world looked a lot better and brighter today than it had on the day of the Conclave, and much of that was owed to them.

A very not-insignificant portion of it, heretical as the thought still sounded, was owed to her. And while she'd never sought that, it was the consequence of walking a path she was, in retrospect, glad to have walked. For she had done so alongside the best people she knew, and found everything she was looking for along the way, even if she hadn't always seen it immediately. "So I suppose... when I can get myself to think about the big picture, I feel pretty blessed, too."

"For what it's worth... whatever it takes to get Cyrus back and fix all of this, I'm up for it. We may not be able to close rifts, open new ones, or teleport anymore, but we're still skilled. And I'd say we make a pretty good team."

But they were drawing near to the gates now, the way forward already opened for them. Romulus broke into a smile. "Can't stand the wait anymore." He kicked his heels in and urged his horse faster, taking off ahead of their column.

She laughed aloud, momentarily turning partway in her saddle and gesturing the others forward with a broad sweep of her arm. "No time to be slacking!" she called, spurring Nox forward as well.

"We're almost home."

The Canticle of Fate: Out Of Character (OOC)

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Re: The Canticle of Fate

For several days before they are formally introduced, he watches her.

Marcus knows that these matters have to be handled most delicately. His scheme is ambitious, and will require finding and shaping several pieces to his needs. He’s ensured that he’ll be assigned to the priesthood, cultivating a set of skills entirely unlike those he’d learned for his master. The Ben-Hassrath handle valuable information consistently; it is vital that he be placed among them rather than with the unthinking body of the army, and clerical positions are unavailable to him. It is this or nothing.

But that is not all that must go well. He observes her train, this human girl. Shaana, he has been informed. The Qunari word for the color of honey stands in for a name, perhaps because it is also the color of her hair. It isn't a sentimental thing, only a practical one. They need something to call her, something that will serve long enough for her to earn something else.

He decides she must have been born with a name. He can tell because of the way she watches some of the other humans in the settlement. Two in particular are always followed with curious eyes. And they are curious, the way one of them is red like that, and the other the same blue as Par Vollen’s sky. She knows who her parents are. And some part of her cares.

Marcus can use that. She’s susceptible to sentiment, still, and the Qunari have none. Not really. Not compared to what he can feign. He will light a fire inside her, and burn away everything she thinks she knows.

She’s almost pretty, he thinks. Perhaps when she is older, she will be, when the coltishness has faded and she has grown into her fledgling strength. It won't be hard to pretend.

---


"Do you know what your name was, before this?" He tilts his head at her, black eyes studying her face with uncanny keenness. The sun streams in from the window at an angle, giving the inky fall of his hair a shine and warming her unsleeved, unscarred arms. She isn't sure anyone has ever looked at her that way before. Somehow it feels... different, from being one among many. It feels like he is looking, not at Shaana, not at Imekari-who-will-be-Ben-Hassrath, but at her. A person who no longer has a name. A person who no longer exists.

She swallows. That look is dangerous. She can feel it, next to her bones, in the hollow of her chest. "That doesn't matter."

"Marcus," he says, almost as though he hadn't heard her. "Was mine. Marcus Alesius. No one knows that, here. No one but you." His body shifts, something about the change making her aware of how much taller than her he is, how much older and more powerful. How strange the moment is. How fragile. Her mouth feels dry, like she's swallowed sand.

His expectation weighs heavily on her. His eyes do, too; she isn't sure what to make of the weight. No one has ever asked her about before—she barely knows herself. Her words are true. It doesn't matter, but...

"Natalia." She says the word softly, finding its taste strange in her mouth. She's only ever said it once before. To herself, in the dark and quiet, just after she'd learned it in the first place. "Natalia Aiza."

His mouth curls; her breath catches in her throat. At fifteen years old, she finds herself with a sudden concrete understanding of something that has only been abstract to her before. It hits her like a wall, skittering up her spine and settling low in her belly, alive and uncomfortably hot, like an ember. She resists the urge to take a half-step backwards, to flee. He is new, the Besrathari had said. It will be her responsibility to help him learn what it means to follow the Qun. But even several months later, she knows that isn't what is happening. He knows everything he needs to know. He knows this isn't a conversation they should be having.

And it seems deliberate. No accident, no mistake.

Perhaps he senses her unease; his focus seems to sharpen even further. She feels like she is standing on the edge of a knife, and with so much as one wrong breath, she'll be cut. But all he does is smile a little more. "Natalia." It rolls off his tongue much more smoothly than hers. "How lovely. A secret between us, perhaps? I won't tell if you don't."

Her breath leaves her unsteadily. Already she wonders if it hadn't somehow been a mistake to say. A secret, between them. Just them. She's never had something like that before. Against her instincts, against every piece of her training and education, she finds herself nodding, a tentative smile turning her lips just barely, at the edges where it's hard to see.

"Okay."

---


They train together, outside of the ordinary practices.

He’s arranged for it to be so, and it was not difficult to convince her. She is driven by a need to prove that her smaller human body will not hinder her against even Qunari opponents, and a Ben-Hassrath must be capable of handling Qunari opponents. He gently floats the suggestion that they might be able to help one another, and she agrees readily. Once a day, under the cover of darkness, they train. So it has been for three years.

Shaana has grown tall and strong and swift. She has also bypassed pretty for an unusual kind of beautiful, skipping over it as though she knows instinctively that it is something she does not need. Such delicacy is not hers, will never be hers. This, too, is an advantage for Marcus; it is surpassingly unlikely that he will face competition for her attention. Even the Qunari acknowledge need and desire. Her humanity keeps her from most of it. His designs will keep her from the rest. She must depend on only him.

Her knife clashes against his; he deflects. Her agility nearly surprises him; she flips backward, kicking out to catch him off guard. But he knows what no one else seems to understand. Knows she is exceptional. And so in the end, it isn't especially surprising at all. His hand lashes forward, catches her leg at the ankle, and when she twists to bring them both to the ground, he goes willingly.

Marcus, too, is exceptional. Though the grapple is contentious, he maneuvers her into a pin first, planting his arm at her sternum and holding her in place with his legs thrown over either side of her body. They still, breathing rapid from the energy of the exchange. His blood runs hot with adrenaline; she is tense beneath him. Her breaths are short, soft against his cheek where they land. In the scant light afforded by the night sky, he watches her pupils dilate until they are blown wide, her irises just thin rims of color around the black.

"Natalia."

It's only calculation. All part of the plan.

He kisses her.

---


The ember in her becomes a flame—a warm, flickering candle in the dark and the cold.

It’s just bodies, she tells herself. Just animal instinct. The Qun does not outlaw that. And if normally such matters are taken care of in a much more regular, appointed way, well… she decides it’s probably the most convenient like this regardless. She’ll spend long periods of time away from Par Vollen, away from any Qun-controlled settlement. And he’ll surely be her partner, so—it’s just convenient. Logical. Sensible.

If it also burns like a thing alive… who’s to know but her?

---


It’s just bodies—until it isn’t.

His aims require that he ensnare her mind as well as her senses. That is why, when first they succeed in a difficult mission for the Ariqun, he calls her kadan.

It’s why he’s angry when she does not use the word in return, a low, simmering seethe in his guts, and a twinge somewhere a little higher.

Never mind. She’ll come around.

He has time.

---


Kadan is a strange word.

Most of those in Qunlat have rigidly-defined uses; a small subclass are a little looser for the necessity of social conversation. But kadan is a word that has many meanings, something that is otherwise anathema to Qunari mentality. To some, it is an indication of close camaraderie. Partnership. If that were all it meant, she could have called him so without a moment’s hesitation.

When Shaana learned the trade tongue, she came to understand that people classified their relationships in many ways. Some the Qun would allow, and many more that it would not. She suspects that some of her people use the word like the word friend is used elsewhere. Perhaps this explains her hesitance. Friend does not seem like the appropriate characterization of what they are to each other.

But it is there anyway, on the tip of her tongue or caught in the back of her throat. It seems close sometimes when it is his skin on hers, his breath in her lungs, the heat of his body surrounding her. But it seems closer still after, when his fingers are sifting through her hair, easing the knots from it, or when they rise early in the morning, still bleary from sleep, and their eyes meet across their campsite. When he asks her to tease the harp-strings for him, and lays back to close his eyes and listen.

She will say it when this is over, she thinks. When the viddathari are safely ensconced in Qunari territory, and the Imperium is far behind them. When they do not have to tread so carefully, lest they be caught by Tevinter agents. When they are home.

So caught up is she in these thoughts that she does not notice the ambush until it is far too late.

---


His lips purse, thinning into a line.

Kadan, please. All it will take is the list. I know she gave it to you.”

She is silent. He thinks distantly that she has seldom been more herself than she is in this moment, trapped under someone else’s power and still so very proud. Her eyes are hard like gemstones, a ruby and a sapphire, set into a stubborn face that wears its hostility well. A wounded tigress, she is, aware of her own peril but refusing to submit to it.

Marcus is almost moved by it. Perhaps he is, but not enough. There are things he must do, things he was born into this world to do, and right now, she is making herself an obstacle.

He runs the flat of his knife along the line of her jaw. Just a slight tilt, the barest angling, and it will bite into the skin of her face. He’s already carved marks upon her body, regular and precise, calculated for pain but not permanent damage. She anticipates another; he knows she does. Perhaps she anticipates that he’ll take her eyes, too. He has intimated more than once that he is fond of them.

It tempts him, the thought that he could be the last thing she was ever allowed to see. But though this exercise has become as much pleasure as utility, he cannot turn the knife. Her eyes would hold no appeal without her spirit burning behind them. Though the rest of her will forever bear his marks, he finds that he prefers her face just as it is.

The knife falls away, and he reaches up with his free hand, instead, pressing his fingertips gently to her cheek. “This would be so much easier if you would cooperate, Natalia.”

Her lip curls. She turns her face away, shifting as far from his hand as she is able. His methods of persuasion have proven ineffective. She is not as much his as he believed, and this is proving to be his fatal error.

Clenching his teeth, Marcus shifts his hand, gripping her jaw and wrenching her head back towards him. He closes the distance until they are breathing the same air, finding that it ignites him just the same as it always has. He tilts forward the last few inches; when their mouths meet, it is neither tender nor soft. He bites her lip until it bleeds, pulling back with a shuddering recoil. Perhaps if—

He stops short, the taste of copper on his tongue.

Her eyes are cold. Distant. As though she is no longer present in the room at all. He sought to pull her, and has pushed instead. He does not want her like this.

Marcus releases her, and storms from the room.

---


Methodically, he strips everything from her.

Trust.

Hope.

Faith.

Something like what other languages call love.

In the end, all that is left is the Qun. The breath in her lungs, the words in her mind.

The flame is extinguished.

She endures.

---


She dies beneath his hands.

Her breath is still. Her warmth is gone. And for a moment, his world whites out to nothing.

He commands his men to bury her.

They do not find the courage to tell him that the grave is empty for weeks after. When they do, he does not know what he feels. Only that a fire still burns in him, and that when he dreams, it is of the fire in her.

---


Her name, says the Ariqun, is Amalia.

The ashes are cold, now.

---


Over time, she takes back the things he stole.

Her music is first. She decides that she likes playing it for the children in this place. They are not, perhaps, quite as good at listening, but she finds that this does not bother her. They are innocent, and have no designs in their attention, and she needs that perhaps more than she realized.

Her smile returns eventually as well. Infrequently, but that has always been so. She is not a lighthearted person, and the burden of her history will always weigh her down. She tries not to feel imprisoned by it, and occasionally, she succeeds. Hope returns on the heels of this revelation, and it gathers the ashes close at her feet again. They are not so desolate as she supposed.

---


Faith is a slower, harder battle.

She finds it, of course, in the place she least expects.

“Perhaps, when we are done, we will have more to show for it than our scars.”

Perhaps.

---


Trust is an unbearable lightness.

It’s weightless, like she might float into the sky, unmoored from all her burdens. Though that proves to be temporary, and eventually her feet find the ground once more, what remains is solid under her, a foundation she can stand on. It shifts the landscape of her entire life, when she finally understands what kadan means, sweeping away everything she stood on before.

It is terrifying, and sublime.

---


She has not reclaimed everything that he took. Amalia knows that well, because she feels what is still missing like an emptiness, a hollow place and an ache that does not abate.

Sometimes it feels literal. It does this night, when she and kadan are camped beneath an overhang. Rain pours from above, but their shelter is just enough to keep them dry. Kadan sleeps, and Amalia watches. It is always thus—Marcus cannot be trusted not to find and destroy them in their sleep. She believes he would want them to know their demise was at his hands, but she has believed many things about him that turned out to be false. She refuses to take the risk.

Her eyes fall to Ithilian; it’s technically his turn to watch now, but she elects to let him sleep a while longer. The constant travel has been hard on them both, but this is for her, and she is conscious of all he has given up to help. It humbles her, that someone cares for her so much, because Amalia knows with iron certainty that no one else ever has.

It is for him most of all that she wishes to be free.

Something tightens in her throat, and she turns her eyes out towards the rain again, watching it fall from the stone shelf over their heads to the forest floor. It smells like new things, like spring and fresh greenery.

It occurs to her that some of the most beautiful things in the world only grow in soil that has been enriched by ashes.

One day. One day there will be something new in the empty places. As soon as she is brave enough to allow it to bloom.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

And around 6 months later, making another celebratory post, as the roleplay is now over 1 million words. The milestone happened to arrive on my birthday of all days, which is pretty sweet. We've had a lot of amazing stuff happen already in this RP, and we've got nothing but amazing stuff planned for the rest of it.

A sincere thanks to Kiku, Val, Tally, and Yonni for everything. This stuff we do really does mean the world to me.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Character Playlists
Just so everyone knows where I'm hoarding them.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Just making a bit of a celebratory post, to mark the roleplay just crossing the 500,000 word mark. Not even close to done, either.

Go team.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Hey Morpheus, thanks for stopping by.

It's always super encouraging to hear that people sometimes end up reading the stuff we write. Even more when we hear that they enjoy it. We're really happy the perspective thing is working out well, it's something we'd wanted to try since midway through CoC, but we didn't want to mess with the style format halfway through that. The semi-novel like effect is really what we've been going for, while still maintaining that roleplay aspect where we all still restrict ourselves to our own characters. It's sometimes difficult to decide which character is best suited to take perspective for a given post, but it's been a fun challenge, and we're pretty happy with the results.

We're currently at the end of one of our slowed-down periods, as we tend to take a month or so off around the end of the school year due to craziness in our lives. But, I think we'll start chugging along here soon enough again, and have new posts coming out. We're looking forward to getting into more personal plotlines now that they're all situated at Skyhold. Sort of the "Act 2" stage that we had for CoC, which proved to be the most fun part to write, in my opinion.

So thanks again for leaving that awesome note, it's always great to hear from those that read our work. We hope you'll continue to enjoy what's coming up.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

*dusts off a seat in the visitor center*

Hi there!

So I know some of you from previous RPs, and some of you I don’t know at all, but I wanted to take a moment to use my words and say some stuff.

I’m not around the site a lot anymore; mostly because I have too many things to do elsewhere, but at some point before I left, I read all or most of City of Chains, and I checked back on the place a few days ago, only to find that not only did it have a sequel, it had a sequel that might prove to be even better than the first!

I read everything you guys have done here so far, and I just want to congratulate you on how well-done it is. The characters are unique and compelling, and each has a distinct voice and perspective that you really manage to bring out with the way you shift POVs between posts. It’s always clear to me whose post it is, and I really enjoy the variation and the coherence there. They’re good as protagonists; most of them are very obviously flawed or imperfect in at least one way, but their flaws are never so glaring that they become unsympathetic. Some of them have a sort of archetypal flavor to them, but I don’t find them predictable or boring because of this. (I confess to having favorites like anyone does, but I certainly could not say there's a single character here I don't like).

The plot, where you’ve changed it, still makes sense and flows together pretty seamlessly with the original material, and I don’t find myself missing any of the characters or plot elements you’ve replaced. I like the DA:I story, and I like your story, and while they’re obviously similar, they aren’t the same, so I don’t find even the aspects of the plot that remain unchanged to be a slog.

In short, the story’s a pleasure to read, and I’m glad you’re the ones doing it, because I have evidence (and confidence) that you’ll actually finish it, which is a rare accomplishment on its own. Lots of times, RPs are really only for their writers, and don’t get much attention outside of that. I get that; people come here to write more often than they come here to read. But, if anyone happens to come across this little review of mine, I encourage them to give this one a try. It reads more like a novel than what I typically think of as an RP, and the writers are to be commended for pulling that off so well. As someone who has tried to achieve this effect myself, I can say it’s tough to get that flow sometimes.

Anyway, I say this with no ulterior motives; I’m not looking to break into your group here or anything like that. Even if I had the time, I have to say I’d be a little afraid of altering what is clearly an exceptional formula. But I wanted you all to know that I read what’s here, really loved it, and look forward to future posts.

Best of luck.

-M


Re: The Canticle of Fate

AugustArria wrote:I'm sure we'll have side projects spring up eventually (some time after we finish our other endeavor, most likely). Those will probably be a bit more experimental, and probably open to a few more people joining if they're interested. We'll keep you on the list for when that happens. Might be a while, but it'll happen at some point.


I'll hold ye to it, then. Have fun with this one, guys. Hope it's as successful as the last!


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Shu wrote:I'll write with ya'll one day yet, mark my words.


I'm sure we'll have side projects spring up eventually (some time after we finish our other endeavor, most likely). Those will probably be a bit more experimental, and probably open to a few more people joining if they're interested. We'll keep you on the list for when that happens. Might be a while, but it'll happen at some point.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Kurokiku wrote:And hey Shu. Yeah, this one is something we've been planning for just the five of us for a very long time, so we made an early decision not to open it up publicly. It's a project that's really dear to us, and the second part of something already three and a half years running, so we're a bit protective of it haha.


I'll write with ya'll one day yet, mark my words.



Re: The Canticle of Fate

Damn so it really is just photoshop, eh? I've dabbled in photoshop and made some things I thought looked good but damn....nothin that nice lol. Now I've a new goal to achieve...you mind If I shoot you a question now and then?


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Basically hours spent sifting through the underbelly of deviantart for original/similar art, hours more of photoshop, and bunch of random ass practice, trial and error, and a tutorial every now and then warped to my purposes.

Maybe a sacrifice to a Dark Old one every now and then. Maybe.

But no, most of it's just a bunch of image effects in photoshop, time, and creative use of HTML code.

Thanks for the comment though! If my ego gets any bigger we'll have to build a house around it. Compliments makes me all warm and fuzzily inside.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Dangit! Now I have to go and play a dragon age game...I hope your proud of yourselves!

Also, your guy's rp made me totally look up more Dragon Age rps totally thinking there'd be one to join-I cant believe how little I actually found, and I don't even mean active rps. I'm talkin in general, its like an untouched rp topic for the most part....its really wierd, just thought it'd be way more popular I guess? Or maybe I wasn't looking in the right spot/useing the right search.

And that's really cool to hear Kurokiku-Im a huge dragon age fan (like...huge) and I'd never seen anything like what you did Tempest-like it totally matches the style, it just all looked original (and if not, real rare images I'd not seen/cant recall). I dunno if that makes since, but Im seriously giving you mad props man. What do you use to work on that stuff, if you don't mind me asking? If you read this that is, lol.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Hi tuxedo fox! Comments are always welcome in the OOC, and we're glad you like our stuff. Talisman is the primary visuals person in the group, so the lion's share of credit for the intro page layout goes to him.

And hey Shu. Yeah, this one is something we've been planning for just the five of us for a very long time, so we made an early decision not to open it up publicly. It's a project that's really dear to us, and the second part of something already three and a half years running, so we're a bit protective of it haha.


Re: The Canticle of Fate

Hey there, sorry if this is for active rpers only. Just wanted to say you guys have one of the neatest intro pages I've seen, did one of you actually make all that in one way or another? Either way, badass job!


Re: The Canticle of Fate

This is the next one, isn't it?! Was I too late?! Oh well, if I can't join you at least I can read along again.:'(


The Canticle of Fate

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Welcome to The Canticle of Fate's OOC page. We likely won't use this very much, as a majority of our chat is done on the titanpad. Think of it more as a visitor center.