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The Canticle of Fate


a part of The Canticle of Fate, by AugustArria.

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

AugustArria holds sovereignty over Thedas, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Thedas is a part of The Canticle of Fate.

There are no Places in Thedas.

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Characters Present

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.


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.


And below was written Stel's message to her:


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.


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.


Characters Present

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."