Chapter 5 – Nobody Expects

“I would have torn down the Veil… As this world burned in the raw chaos, I would have restored the world of my time.”

“You would murder countless people?!”

“Wouldn’t you? To save your own?”

“You don’t need to destroy this world! I’ll prove it to you!”

“I would treasure the chance to be wrong once again, my friend.”

That looming promise was a weight on Lavellan’s mind. Fortunately, it was not a weight she had to shoulder alone. She had friends. A bashful young ex-Templar who would never leave her side. A Tevinter Magister who, by virtue of his sense of morality, was one of the few rare exceptions to his kind. The Iron Bull; it’s his name but it’s also probably what he eats for breakfast as a starter… which makes sense… you are what you eat, after all. The Right Hand of the Divine; a woman who could put a literal tempest to shame. Oh, not to forget, the Divine herself; the one who was the Left Hand of the previous Divine. Despite having officially disbanded the Inquisition, almost the entire continent of Thedas would spring at any target Lavellan pointed to, if push came to shove. It was not a guarantee, of course. But it was good to know she had friends. Oh, but those were not the only friends she had. She had Friends too. They were everybody and nobody. They were the elven serving girl who was scolded by her terrible Orlesian master. They were the poor who were stepped upon by the high and mighty. They were the Friends of Red Jenny. They were Red Jenny. And so was Lavellan.

Lavellan was currently perched on a rooftop with one such Friend. Whoever said Sera was never an agreeable girl had obviously never met this precious girl. She could be quite agreeable to agreeable people. If you find her disagreeable, I’m afraid it says more about you than her. Nobody knows who Red Jenny was, if she ever even existed. She was as much a mask as anything an Orlesian noble would wear on his face. A person or a group becoming a persona for a cause was hardly an original Orlesian idea. But I like to think the Friends of Red Jenny exist in their current form as a result of how life works in Orlais. The sickening sense of elitism and entitlement that oozes from every pore of all things Orlesian is a terrible thing to behold when combined with power. And power… power was abundant in Orlais. Abundant, yes. Distributed equally? No.

There are no “equals” in Orlais. There is the master and the servant. The greater and the lesser. The winner and the loser. The Game, in all its nauseating grandeur, held its sway over every living soul in Orlais… and on some souls outside Orlais as well. Red Jenny, in Orlais, was a reaction to The Game. A collective irritation that aimed to throw mud, sometimes literally, on the face of something that represented legal inequality. While the dreaded Tevinter Imperium has always been reviled for its slave trade, Orlais had pulled off something even worse. Slavery hidden in blinding, broad daylight. You couldn’t call it slavery, of course. No one does. But what do you call it when a Chevalier can walk into a bar, grope a woman and charge her with treason if she protested his advances? What do you call it when the human nobility thoughtlessly trample those less powerful than them? What do you call it when the servants who die as a result of the feuds of a powerful family are brushed off as insignificant collateral? What do you call it when there is such a hopeless imbalance between the values of lives? Red Jenny was the fly on this wall.

But in an ironic way, Red Jenny belonged as much to the powerful as she did to the powerless. The proud nobles of Orlais could never, in their wildest dreams, accept that this entity that was harassing them and causing them ridiculous anguish was just that cleaning girl or servant boy. No. It had to be something more sinister. Something with a name as ominous as Red Jenny. It was a name cemented as much by the perpetrators as it was by the well-deserved victims. And thus it was, that when the Inquisitor’s time came to an end, Sera offered her an invitation. Mira Lavellan, Friend of Red Jenny.

It wasn’t as fearsome as “Inquisitor” or as revered as “Herald of Andraste”. But when had the weight of a title ever mattered to Lavellan? The Keeper’s First? Inquisitor? Herald of Andraste? All the titles she ever held meant nothing to her. At the end of the day, the one title that mattered was Mira. That was who she was. Whether it was closing countless Fade Rifts across Thedas, judging and sentencing a man to death on her throne, drinking from the Well of Sorrows or putting an end to Corypheus on his own battlefield, she had done it all as Mira. Maybe that’s what impressed her friends more than anything else. The fact that she had been one of the most important figures in the history of Thedas and at the end, had remained Mira. The fact that she was deemed worthy to lead the Inquisition, the fact that she had brought so many people together and inspired them to fight for a cause far greater than any individual life… these were all events that occurred BECAUSE she was Mira. She was who she was. She was the one who survived physically entering the Fade. Twice. She was the one who accidentally prevented catastrophe once and then lead the charge against that same catastrophe over and over, putting her life on the line. She was the one who bore the Mark of the Rift and shouldered the fate of the world even if it meant dying in the process. She was the one who brought hope to an old, old wolf… and when that wolf betrayed her, she was the one who swore to save him from himself. She was the one who lost an arm on that day. She was the one Cullen fell in love with.

The Mark of the Rift may have taken an arm from her but she was far from being… armless. Sorry, the previous paragraph was way too serious for my liking. Of course, Solas did not really have a choice at the moment. It was either her arm or her life. For all his powers as the Dread Wolf, it seemed there were rules even he could not break. The Mark bestowed upon Lavellan by his own Orb was killing her. He did what he had to do so she could survive. In its place was now a stub that ended just above the elbow. And to the stub was firmly attached, a prosthetic crossbow. What was such a person doing on the rooftop of a random mansion in Orlais? I don’t know. Knowing how Red Jenny works, she was either there to steal an apple (an important apple) or throw a jar of bees and hornets into someone’s bedroom. But whatever work she was there to do, it was fated to be interrupted. A Fade Rift opened behind her. Sera’s head shot around in alarm. She jumped back. “Oh frig! Not this again!” she whined, readying her bow. Mira instinctively raised her crossbow arm. When the hand existed, it held the Mark, after all. The Mark that could close rifts. Sera was on edge. Fade Rifts meant demons. Let’s just say she did not particularly like demons and things related to demons. She was a normal girl who wanted to live in a normal world. Demons were not normal. She hated them.

But instead of demons, all that came from the rift were sounds. Sounds of a battle, a woman and a deep, evil voice. Mira slowly recognized the voice of the woman. “Hawke!” she shouted, rushing forward. Sera gripped her shoulder from behind.

“It could be a demon trick. I don’t trust this, whatever this is.”

“Sera, if Hawke is in there, I have to go in. I’m the one who left her behind. I can’t abandon her again.”

“Fine, let me come with you!”

“No. There’s a reason I didn’t take you with me back then too. You don’t like… demony stuff, do you? Trust me, Sera. I’ve seen this demon. You do NOT want to come with me.”

“What am I supposed to do, then?! Sit here and count breaches?”

“No. Go to your other friends. Word of this needs to reach Leliana.”

As if on cue, a raven landed near them. “Speak of the Divine…” Mira said while retrieving the note from it, “Okay, Sera. You’re coming in too. But not with me. I will be going in now. You need to go to the Grand Cathedral. Our other friends will be there to. I need you to bring all our old toys and come in with them.”

“Rgh! Fine… Hey… listen. Don’t kick the bucket in there.”

“Don’t worry, Sera. From what I know, there’s already someone else in there. I just need to join them and hold out until the cavalry arrives.”

The raven flew back with the reply it was meant to carry. Sera ran across the rooftops. Old toys. During the time of the Inquisition, Mira had taken it upon herself to have several special weapons and armors crafted for her companions. By the skill of an incredibly talented dwarven Arcanist, the Inquisition’s core members had the best of the best equipment, crafted from the rarest materials and enchanted to be masterworks. Each piece was crafted specifically for each member, keeping their strengths and weaknesses in mind. They were all locked away after the Inquisition was disbanded. Sera recalled the light armor and bow made for her. Knowing her aversion to demons, Lavellan had seen it fit to enchant Sera’s bow to be particularly deadly to demons. “Just you wait!” Sera said as she sped away, “I’ll go get our friends and our stuff and then we’ll give this demon what for!”

Next chapter (Dragon Blood)

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