freedom_is_grey: (brightness treble)
Darktown is just as hellish and full of despair as she was told. If every previous moment she's ever wished for the ability to heal were combined into one moment, it still wouldn't be as strong as the desire she has to be able to do it now. To do it here.

But even if she were a healer -- with only her sword strapped to her back and clad in leather armor 'donated' by a failed Warden recruit -- she wouldn't be able to cast the relevant spells anyway.

Ysalwen could wish there were more comfort in that.

As it is her skin feels twitchy as she and Zevran and Liranan pass by huddled families, huddled beggars, huddled --

Andraste's ass, huddled Carta. what are they even --

She unsheathes her sword even as Zevran vanishes and Liranan launches himself at the Carta assassin that has just popped up at Ysalwen's side. She flings her blade out in a less-than-desperate parry, then whirls to confront the more straightforward warriors that are arrowing right for her.Shit.

Arrows.

But Zevran has already taken care of one of the bowmen, she can hear the gurgle as that one breathes his last. (In a different battle she would be able to feel it, too, but this is Kirkwall and she is not planning on dying a fool.)

Why does it always have to be berserkers with axes, honestly? This is a question she plans to ask someone as soon as --

Well, not that one, he's bleeding out at her feet. And not that one, Liranan's got him by the throat, and --

Not that one, either, as Zevran has just removed another Carta thug from the world of the living.

She exhales, cleaning her blade and resheathing it, somehow not at all startled that no one down here seems at all bothered. Same old, same old. It will hurt more later, when she thinks about it again. But currently her focus is on finding --

"How very discreet," Zevran murmurs, attention caught by a lamp lighting up the darkness. And a smaller-than-it-could have been sign outside of Anders' clinic.

"Right. Of course." Ysalwen takes another breath, then, with Zev at her shoulder and Liranan at her side, she walks toward what is sure to be a very pleasant and calm conversation.

Yes. That.

*****

"Get out."

He won't even look at her, shoulders hunched as he resolutely faces a shadowy corner.

"I'm not here to --

"Get. Out."

"Anders . . . " Her voice trails off, and she exhales sharply. "I'm not saying you have to come back. I wouldn't. You know I wouldn't. But. I want you to know you can. Acting Warden or no, Deep Roads or no -- you'll always have a place in the Vigil. With me. Nathaniel and Sigrun, too. Probably not Velanna, but you know that already."

Her mouth wants to twist in a wry grin, but Anders is still resolutely facing away and that hurts more than she expected.

"I'm sorry I left. I'm sorry I left you, and that the templars that came after were -- I found Pounce, though. He's -- I can bring him next time, if you want him back? He misses you."

A breath.

"We all -- "

"No." His voice is curt, and his eyes are hidden by his hands as he presses them hard into his sockets, but at least he's facing her now?

"Keep him. Please? Kirkwall is no place for anything good. And someone would probably try to roast him on a spit, which I don't think he would enjoy much."

There's a hint of life in his voice, humor hiding despair as it always has. But just a hint of it.

"All right. I will. I promise. I -- "

Ysalwen would wring her hands if she thought it would be an outlet for anything. Anything at all.

"You really should go, Ysa. Commander. I fear you've been here too long already."

She presses her mouth into a thin line, brown eyes flashing.

"I don't think I'm the only one, but. All right. Next time -- and there will be a next time, because I refuse to abandon you again, even if I didn't really the first time, but -- anyway. Next time. Sundermount. You look like a man that could use a lot of fresh air."

He chokes out a laugh, rubbing his face with his hands. (He still has not opened his eyes.)

"Perhaps. If I can find time. If -- you're not going to leave until I say yes, are you?"

He turns toward the shadows again, muttering something that is doubtless uncomplimentary. (Ysalwen kind of wishes she could hear it, Anders has always been excellent at insults.)

"All right. We'll meet y -- we'll meet at Sundermount. Just send word you're coming and w -- I'll be there. Just avoid the mines. There's rumors of things down there that even you wouldn't want to fight."

Ysalwen exhales.

"All right. Be well, Anders. Take care of yourself. I would hate to have to raze the city if you got yourself caught. Or killed."

She would move to hug him, quick and hard, but -- everything about him is suggesting he would not take it well. So she rests her hand on his shoulder instead, gripping warm and strong. Just for a three-count.

"I worry about you. That's all."

"Don't," he says, just a little quick. "Please. I'll -- I have friends here, and people who make sure I'm fed. I'll be fine. Truly."

"All right," Ysalwen says at last, and only a little reluctantly. Nothing about that sounds -- good, exactly. "I'll go. But I will be back. Nate, too."

And then she turns, biting her lip and starting to turn back, but -- no. There's no ground to be gained here. Not just yet.

Then she, and Zev, and the mabari head back out into the bleakness of Darktown. Getting back out of the city is going to involve crawling through something disgusting, they all know it. They may also return home with far fewer coins in their pockets, no spare healing poultices, and a plan to smuggle supplies in to Anders' clinic, but. Well.

It's better than most of the alternatives. And while hope is hard to hold onto some days . . .

This could have gone worse?
freedom_is_grey: (soft and sad)
In bed that night, skin bare and more than slightly damp, with her head pillowed comfortably on Zev's shoulder --

"Should I go to Kirkwall? I want to, you know I want to. But I don't -- should I?"

His laugh is warm and a little rough, and he presses his cheek against her forehead, breath gusting out against her face.

"Ah, mi corazon. Do I say no, you will feel guilty when you go. And then I will feel guilty when you return, as you undoubtedly will."

He knows her so well.

"Do I say yes, I will still feel guilty when you go and there is no one to watch your back. Not as well as I do, anyway, and certainly without as much enjoyment."

Ysalwen sucks in a quick breath, because that last bit was certainly accompanied with a particular sort of gesture.

Zevran, meanwhile, keeps talking, as if his hands are just lying there innocently and completely unoccupied.

"So I say instead that I will go with you, and we will bring Nathaniel and all his little arrows, to keep our enemies as far from us as possible. Which was surely your plan all along, oh wisest among all Wardens that I call mine."

His chuckle roughens suddenly, as Ysalwen's hands are also no longer resting idly.

"You'll hear no dispute from me," she murmurs, leaning up to kiss his chin, and his cheek, and the tip of his nose. "This way we can skip any thought of parting. I hate that part so much."

And then the time for words is past. (That part, neither of them hate at all.)

*******

Later, robe half-slipping off her shoulders, she pens a note.

Lel,

Going to Kirkwall. Hear it's a clusterfuck. One of mine is stuck there and I'm going to see if I can convince him to get himself out. If you don't hear from me within the month, come and get me, too. I'll try not to need it.

- Ysa


And then a second.

Alistair,

Going to Kirkwall. Will try not to cause diplomatic incident. Talk to Lel and come get me if I am not back in a month. I should be able to hold out until then, even if everything goes pear-shaped. Rescuing lost Wardens is so much trouble. Worth it, but still.

-- Ysa

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freedom_is_grey: (Default)
Ysalwen Surana, Warden-Commander of Ferelden

August 2017

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