I started this journal on the Bioware-soon-to-be-gone forums and don't want to lose it. I was QueenPurpleScrap over there. I do write and post fanfic under my username Norstaera on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, but neither sites are suitable for what is more of a scrapbook. Jasmine is one of my favorite Inquisitors so far and she just seems to be the type to write a diary or keep a scrapbook. Please bear with me while I become familiar with the formatting tools. (I decided to take a note from Mousestalker and add a status note to my subject title. - 8/27/2016)
9/13/2016 - I am slightly reformatting and reorganizing so that this initial post is an introduction and a summary of progress-to-date.
The back story I created before I decided to start her scrapbook:
"Lovely as the flower and your namesake, born into the nobility, your life of privilege was interrupted when magical abilities surfaced at a young age and you were forced into a life of confinement within Ostwick's Circle of Magi. Sweet, gentle, shy; you enjoyed the protected life inside the Circle. The library was your favorite place and the templars strict without being unkind. Stronger than you look, you surprised everybody when you survived your Harrowing.
You are a devout Andrastian and never wanted to rebel against Chantry rule. You see templars as a counterpoint to the mages, not jailors or the enemy. Fellow mages called you naïve but the Senior Enchanter often used you as liaison when dealing with the templars and other Chantry people. Like it or not, you had to fight for your life against templars hunting down all "free" mages. You desperately wanted the peace talks with the Chantry and templars to go well and instead was accused of killing the Divine."
She’s a girly girl, a pink and purple, flowers in her hair kind of girl who believes she may really be the Herald of Andraste.
I am here, I am really here. In Haven. And tomorrow the Conclave begins and I will get to see the Divine and the Temple of Sacred Ashes! I should sleep, but I’m too excited. I saw Ser Barron; I’m glad he’s here. He never looked forward to the Harrowings and their possibility of failure. We spoke of his family once; he said too many of his family members were mages for him not to see us as people first, mages second. “Vigilance is all well and good, but it does not mean we should forget we are just as human as our charges. Duty does not preclude courtesy and respect.”
I remember how kind he was and how scared I was when we met. I was so sure the monsters were there to punish me, hurt me, even, for turning Stevie into a block of ice. I screamed and screamed until I thought I was falling apart. My parents tried to explain but they were upset and kept telling me I had to go. Stevie came running into the room and put his arms around me, the same big brother who teased me until I lost my temper; he hugged me and then pushed me behind him. He glared at the monsters, “Take your helmets off, sers. She has nightmares of faceless monsters and that’s what you look like. Take them off or leave without her.”
Almost twenty years later and I still think that’s one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen, my eleven year old brother standing up to my monsters. The one farthest away muttered something but the one in front of us hushed him. He brought his hands to his head and lifted his helmet off, just like my brother told him. Then he knelt in front of me, “I am sorry I frightened you. See, this is just a bit of metal to protect my head and face. Would you like to hold it?” He held it out to me. He chuckled when I almost dropped it, “Perhaps your brother could help you with it. It is rather heavy for a little girl to carry.” He waited patiently while I looked at it inside and out. With Stevie’s help I even put it on, but quickly took it off. I complained about the smell and he didn’t get mad, “I suppose it does. It sometimes gets hot and my hair gets sweaty. That’s probably what you smell. Your name is Jasmine, isn’t it?” I nodded. “A pretty name for a pretty girl,” he smiled. His eyes crinkled up when he did, “I am Ser Barron. We’re not here to punish you, little Jasmine. Do you want to hurt people?” I shook my head. “You have magic and need to learn how to use it so you don’t accidentally turn your brother into another block of ice or hurt anybody else. We’re going to take you to the Circle, full of other mages, so you can study. You will be an apprentice, one of the youngest we have, which means you have a lot of ability but you need to learn how to use it properly. The Circle is a safe place. Go wash your face and dry your tears, little Jasmine. Change into something more comfortable, if you wish. We’ll wait here and talk to your parents.” I didn’t realize I was so scared I peed my pants.
Stevie took me back to my room, “This is my fault. I’m sorry I teased you, Jazzie. I’ll write every week, I promise.” He grinned then, “My tutor always makes me practice my penmanship; writing to you will be more fun than copying stuff from Brother Genitivi. Talk about boring,” he rolled his eyes and we both laughed. When I was ready he took my hand and walked back with me. He looked at Ser Barron, who still had his helmet off, “Take care of my little sister, Ser, she’s only five. I’m going to be keeping an eye on you.” Some adults would have laughed, but Ser Barron didn’t even smile. He nodded his head and said I was lucky to have somebody who cared about me so much and that he would personally watch over me.
Maybe I can sleep now. I don’t know why writing this down helps me settle, but it does. I’m almost embarrassed to think of the number of journals which include this same story, some more than once. Stevie still writes every week and I write back. We don’t see each other often but he’s my best friend and I wish he was here. I like to think he’s proud of me.
Edited by Norstaera [Sept 13, 2016 14:38:24 GMT -6]
Maker guide me, I am so nervous. I know First Enchanter asked me to come because I always got on well with the templars in Ostwick. One of my unofficial duties after I passed my Harrowing was to act as liaison between templars and mages, to help smooth over any difficulties. Many of my fellow mages were surprised I passed; they thought I was too easily distracted. I think they confused my desire to learn everything with being unfocussed. I can’t really fault them; I do have a tendency to jump from one subject to the next in my studies as well as in conversation. And now I distract myself.
If I said tensions were high, I would be guilty of understatement. I think many of the mages and templars here are tired of war. The question is how do we resolve the issues between us? I was upset when Fiona (in my private journal I will not dignify that woman with a title) pressed to abolish the Circles. Between me and myself it was a stupid and selfish move when she didn’t have a viable alternative to take their place. Yes, Kirkwall was a disaster. Yes, the templars went too far, as did some of the mages. But the worst mage was an apostate, that Grey Warden who blew up the Chantry but Meredith used that as an excuse to punish all!
I just want everybody to get along. I know that’s naïve, almost as naïve as wanting everybody to like me. But once again I distract myself. The Divine asked me to meet with her tonight in the Chantry! She said she heard good things of my diplomatic skills and wanted my opinions on the day. She is such a kind woman; I can feel the goodness radiating from her. I want to look my best, or should I look practical and serious? Mother sent this lovely bodice with purple lace when she heard I was coming here. Purple has always been my favorite color, even before I realized my eyes were the same color as the purple pansies in cook’s garden. I wish I wasn’t so plain, if it weren’t for my eyes my face would blend into my hair as some sort of pale blob. Vanity is a sin, or can lead to sin, or something. I’ll wear the bodice with my best black leather pants, practical and pretty. I hope. I better run, or I’ll be late.
Edited by Norstaera [Sept 13, 2016 14:35:32 GMT -6]
Post by Norstaera on Sept 13, 2016 14:29:11 GMT -6
Maker help us all, Divine Justinia is dead and the Temple of Sacred Ashes is gone! People are looking at me, and they wonder if I’m responsible or if I’m some sort of savior. I wish I knew what to tell them. I remember leaving for the Temple to meet Divine Justinia. I remember hoping I would have the opportunity to study the carvings and the architecture more closely without so many people around. It is was such a beautiful building. The next thing I remember is waking in a cell, shackled, and a green, glowing thing in my hand. It hurts and it frightens me.
Seeker Cassandra also scared me. She still does, some, a little, a lot. She accused me of killing the Divine. I think she would have hit me if Sister Nightingale didn’t stop her. All those people, dead. Most of the mages and templars hadn’t left. They were staying on the Temple grounds when it exploded. I’m the only survivor. No wonder she thought I was some sort of monster. She told me the sky was broken (my words, not hers) and showed me the rifts. She removed my shackles before we left my cell. I couldn’t run if I wanted to, I was too weak and there were too many people watching me, glaring at me, hating me. I was safer with the Seeker.
She was suspicious, but to be fair she was not unreasonable or unkind. Brusque, but she helped me when this green thing in my hand pulsed and sent me to the ground. She even seemed concerned. Demons poured out of the rifts, all types and sizes. I really hate the wraiths, the way they can sap me from a distance.
I know I should go look for her, but I want to, I need to write this down. I’ve been sick or asleep for days and I want to finish this before I forget. I need to have my thoughts in order before I talk to anybody.
We met Solas and Varric Tethras on our way to Leliana (or should I continue to call her Sister Nightingale) and the forward camp. Solas is another mage who understands a lot about the Fade. He helped keep me alive after the explosion. He’s an elf, the first one I’ve met or seen who isn’t either Dalish or city. I’m not sure what to make of him; he is probably the most self-contained person I’ve ever met. He did show me how to use the mark to close a small rift.
I hope I didn’t blush when I met Varric. I’ve had a crush on him since I read his first novel. I think Hard in Hightown is my favorite, even more than his Tale of the Champion. I’ve read it a dozen times. He seems quite nice. I wish I could talk to people as easily as he does. How odd to think he was a prisoner, too.
The Chancellor doesn’t like me. The Divine’s death must have hit him hard; surely he worked for her for years. I don’t blame him for being suspicious. I just wish . . . well, my wishes don’t really matter.
When I finally saw what was left of the Temple I was stunned. The agony of those charred bodies, some my friends and colleagues, I wanted to cry but it was too much. The only way I could have survived was by the grace of the Maker and Andraste. I don’t know why or why they gave me this mark. I pray I live up to their expectations.
The biggest shock was still to come. When we got to the rift at the Temple . . . I saw Divine Justinia caught in some unholy spell. I saw myself walking into the room, and I still don’t remember. I feel cold just thinking about it. Somehow I must stop this horror. Or find somebody who can. I can’t do it alone. I’m scared. Maker, help me overcome my fear so I can do your will. Andraste, bless me with some of your courage for I am only your humble servant.
Post by Norstaera on Sept 13, 2016 16:02:08 GMT -6
The Inquisition, the Inquisitor, the Herald of Andraste, Me
Blink. Blink. Blink Blink. Blinkblinkblink . . . The day has been one surprise after another and it isn't even over yet.
I. The events from my last entry, not yesterday but days ago. I don't know if it was backlash from trying to close the Breach, but I've been sick for days.
II. I didn't close the Breach, I stabilized it. I shall be honest here, that doesn't really surprise me. This green thing, Solas calls it an anchor, may give me more abilities related to the Veil but that doesn't mean that I alone have the power to completely seal the Breach. Whatever caused it in the first place took a lot of power, so much power that I'm afraid it would tear me apart.
III. The people outside my door earlier weren't waiting to hate the mage; they called me the Herald of Andraste. They actually seemed to, to revere me. The guards were more like an honor guard or bodyguards for my protection. I'm blinking again just thinking about it.
IV. I now lead the Inquisition. Really? Me?
When I found Cassandra she was in a room at the back of the Haven Chantry with Leliana and Grand Chancellor Roderick. They were arguing about me. Is it perverse of me that I find it reassuring that he still doesn't trust me, that one thing at least hasn't changed? Even if it is his desire to see me hang.
The two women, the Left and Right Hands of the Divine, overruled him. Before she died, Divine Justinia authorized Cassandra to organize another Inquisition. Just like the first one, its goal is to provide stability in a world of chaos. Certainly, the mages and templars running around fighting each other as well as the innocent people who happen to be in the way aren't going to help any time soon. They want me to lead. The people see me, many of them see me, as blessed by Andraste and their one hope to set things right and protect them. Leliana says I'm the only one who can lead, partly because I'm not part of the Chantry. At least I won't be alone. I have a circle of advisors now. My brother would certainly say it’s better than a circle of jailors. Then he would smile that smug little smirk of his when I’m forced to agree with him. I almost wish he were here . . . but it’s too dangerous.
V. Cullen. That's all I'm going to say right now about that. Cullen. *sigh* Cullen.
I need to write Stevie. And Mother and Father, let them know I am safe. Safe-ish really. Mother and Father will be relieved, but they will also try to figure out a way to take advantage of my new role. Oh, they'll be cautious. They won't ask me for favors or anything, they are much too subtle and skilled for that. They'll find ways to make it known that their daughter is the Herald of Andraste and garner influence and power. Some of my other relatives, however . . .
Stevie at least will simply be proud of me. He'll probably fall off his chair laughing first, his shy little sister leading some organization instead of sitting in the garden or looking for more books in the library. Then he'll be proud and offer any help he can, without asking for anything in return. I bet he'd like Cassandra. Warrior women always appealed to him as much as they intimidate me. I should talk to Josephine about sending messages to my parents. Funny, I never really thought about the mechanics of that when I was in the Circle. Somebody else took care of that; probably because they read our mail. Now they won't . . . that sounds so liberating. It never bothered me before (or did it and I just buried any resentment because I couldn't do anything?), but I feel like a cool and refreshing breeze washed over me. Is that freedom?
I still don't remember what happened prior to the explosion. I was there; I saw the memories but not everything. At least I know I didn't inadvertently cause the destruction; that is a small comfort. I don't remember coming out of the Fade and I don't know who that woman was people saw behind me. I do believe Andraste saved me; I believe She wants me to use the anchor to seal the Breach and stop this madness; I believe the woman in the Fade was Andraste or her servant.
I'm tired. I haven't fully recovered and should rest before heading out to the Hinterlands. We need more power to seal the Breach but right now we don't have enough influence to approach either the mages or the templars. We're just an inconsequential little organization the Chantry doesn't support. Part of my job will be to build up our reputation, our organization. Sighing again. Hopefully those years I acted as liaison to the templars gave me enough practice so I don't trip over my own feet. Which I've done. Maybe a walk around Haven will help clear my head so I can get some rest.
There's that breeze again.
Edited by Norstaera [Sept 13, 2016 16:03:23 GMT -6]
Post by Norstaera on Sept 28, 2016 12:41:54 GMT -6
I Saw . . . Madness
If crying helped anything then surely I’ve helped half of Thedas by now. Maker forgive them all, because I fear I cannot. Scout Harding warned me and I thought I was prepared. I was not. What mages and templars have done to the Hinterlands, to the people there, it’s insane and cruel and –
I know war hurts innocents. It’s a horrible reality that no matter how well-intentioned and skilled the leaders on either side, innocent people are bound to be caught in the middle. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and sometimes the people themselves make bad decision which put them in the way. I don’t like it, but I understand. I sound like I’m trying to convince myself, don’t I? Even if some people are bound to get hurt when they’re caught between warring parties, there is no excuse for the butchery I saw. Poor farmers hounded to death for a little bit of food, women raped by templars, mages burned alive in the hut of farmers they killed or turned out, bodies rotting in the burning fields.
Mother Ghiselle is trying to help, as are Corporal Vale and others. That they’ve kept so many alive even caught in the middle as they are is a miracle. One thing we can do to help them is stop the fighting; I think they are some of the extreme zealots on both sides. In no way do the numbers I’ve seen come close to approaching either the templar order or mage ‘rebellion.’ We’ll send them any supplies we find; the refugees at the Crossroads need food and blankets or more will die.
I stared down at the body of one mage, surrounded by at least a dozen corpses of mages and templars. It took a few minutes to recognize him lying at my feet. I didn’t realize I was crying until Varric pushed a handkerchief into my hand. We’d seen worse. I have letters and mementos I collected from bodies and abandoned huts; a bitter testament to this stupid war. Cassandra asked me if he was a friend, I told her his name was Federic. I didn’t tell her he was an odious and malicious toad who used me before I realized what he was really like. I didn’t tell her that one of the templars, Laurie, figured out his game and told me how to act in order to turn the tables and spare myself some humiliation. I didn’t tell her that I despised him when he was alive but pitied him when I saw him on the ground.
I dried my tears and we continued on our way. As soon as we reached Haven I came to my small cabin and threw myself on the bed until I couldn’t cry anymore. My body aches, but at least nobody saw me fall apart. That’s what I have to do from now on; force down my emotions until I am in the privacy of my cabin. I can’t let them see my weakness; if they don’t have confidence in me then we will fail. Cassandra, Leliana, Cullen . . . they risk themselves by putting their faith in my. I won’t let them down or give them a reason to doubt.
Somebody’s knocking at my door . . . I hope my face isn’t still blotchy. I don’t understand how some people manage to cry and look pretty at the same time. *Petulant frown*
It was Cullen. *smile* A package came and he offered to deliver it, after Leliana vetted it, of course. That’s like the Circle, too, somebody examining all incoming mail and packages. Cullen blushed a little, “Are you all right? I heard the Hinterlands was . . . unpleasant.” Maker, he must know how pitiful I was. Well, even if he does, it doesn’t matter. He was still kind and seemed interested in my thoughts even when he saw what was in the box from my brother. Cullen couldn’t stay long, he’s a busy man after all. I’m glad he took time to see me.
A doll was smiling at me from inside the box, just like my favorite doll before the templars took me to the Circle. I called her Clara Mist after one of my favorite bedtime stories, Clara of the Mists. Stevie is reminding me that I am not alone; even if he isn’t here, I am in his thoughts and will always have a place to go. I don’t care how silly it is, Clara Mist is staying on my bed, a friend to welcome me home. I have a lot to do. Before I leave again, I am going to take all the letters and mementos I found to the dungeons below the Chantry. That doesn’t sound right, does it? Anyway, there are some nicer cells that I can use to collect everything. It’s not much, but maybe in time we can return these things to their families. I know I’d want a letter, or some other keepsake, if Stevie was gone. If not, when somebody writes about the war, and somebody will, then perhaps they can be a resource.
That’s done. We need to go back out. I will not break down again and I will help these people. Closing rifts is only one thing I can do for them. Maybe if I close a few more the Grand Clerics will listen to me when I go to Val Royeaux.
Edited by Norstaera [Sept 28, 2016 12:44:43 GMT -6]
Our Trip to Val Royeaux Didn’t Quite Go as Planned
Val Royeaux was even more beautiful than I imagined. If only, I still can’t believe the Lord Seeker hit the Revered Mother! What happened to make him so horrible? Cassandra seemed even more shocked than I. Poor Mother Hevara, I don’t know what makes her more uncomfortable – the thought I might really be the Herald of Andraste or that I’m not. I can’t speak to her faith in the Maker, but certainly her world has been shaken just as much as the sky has been torn apart.
I suppose I should look at the situation tactically, the Inquisition may not have Chantry support but neither is there enough Chantry for organized opposition. *sigh* Well, Clara, I can admit to you if no one else, I am a little uncomfortable operating outside the Chantry’s benediction (is that the right word?). I’ve always been a devout Andrastian and now most consider me a heretic. I don’t feel like one, though. Did anybody ever consider Divine Justinia a heretic? She wanted to change the Chantry’s stance on mages. Personally, I think she wanted the Chantry to be more in keeping with Andraste’s teaching. I don’t think I am evil because I can do magic, which is what many in the Chantry have been saying for a very long time. Certain types of magic are evil, but that’s not the same thing. Stevie would tell me I think too much. Stevie, I’m sticking my tongue out at you!
At least we met some interesting people and have some new allies. To be honest, interesting doesn’t do Sera justice. I’ve never met anybody like her and I don’t understand half of what she says, but I really think her heart is in the right place. She nearly gave me a heart attack when her message arrow whizzed by. *shakes head remembering* Lady Vivienne intimidates me. She is just so polished and sure of herself. If I’m not careful she’ll walk all over me. She knows people, though. Her influential connections will be more important than her impressive magic skills, I think. I wonder if she knows that when I’m around her I have this almost overwhelming urge to see if I have dirt on my face? I bet she does.
Tomorrow I’ll go to the Storm Coast to meet this Iron Bull and his Chargers. Leliana and Cullen say his mercenary group has a good reputation and I’m not likely to be going into a trap. That reminds me, I have to go to Redcliffe soon. I didn’t expect to see Fiona in Val Royeaux, much less offer us an alliance with the mages. Something seems off . . . anyway, we may not be able to approach the templars. I need to see for myself. If Fiona is ready to end this rebellion of hers, at least for now, we would certainly have the power we need. I should probably take Solas with me.
I need to sizzle something. Or freeze something. I wish there was a magic training room; I always sleep better if I can use up some of my mana before retiring for the night. Maybe I’ll ask Cullen if he would go with me out where the druffalo are running around. I should be able to expend some magical energy without alarming anybody if I do it where most people can’t see me. I need to practice my aim, anyway. And I want to work on a new spell I was learning before the conclave. No Clara, I’m not just making excuses to be with a certain templar, at least not too much. You’re getting as bad as my brother.
Edited by Norstaera [Oct 10, 2016 13:13:27 GMT -6]
Until the Iron Bull, mustn’t forget the ‘the’, I’ve never met a Qunari. He’s not at all what I expected. In the Circle we were told the Qunari collar their mages and sew their mouths shut. They even control them with rods . . . I thought that was golems? Well, I did see some at the Conclave working as guards but I was never close enough to appreciate just how big they are. Even when he’s sitting down he makes me feel small. He’s also a spy (must be an unusual kind of spy since he just announced it). I took him with me to Redcliffe. If Fiona set a trap, I figured the eyes of a spy might be useful.
Fiona said she wasn’t at Val Royeaux, that she never left Redcliffe. She seemed confused and unhappy. She also pledged the mages to a Tevinter Magister. Is she insane? How can she fight for mage freedom and then not give her fellow mages a chance to vote on something so important? They are now little better than slaves. Stupid, stupid woman. Unless, could blood magic be involved? She did act odd and Alexius is a magister . . . did nobody think to use the Litany of Adralla? I remember when my parents were contemplating an offer of marriage from a family in Tevinter the First Enchanter made sure I knew how to block attempts at mind control. It didn’t come to anything, obviously. Apparently, he was no more willing than I. I wonder what happened to him.
Alexius is . . . smarmy; smarm oozes from his skin. I don’t trust him. He arrived at Redcliffe ‘just in the nick of time’ and right after the Conclave blew up. *thoughtful scowl* Clara, I think he’s up to something and I doubt it’s to help the Inquisition. The only genuine emotion he had was when his son stumbled. Felix is sick and Alexius loves his son. The Magister cut short our conversation in order to tend to him and took Fiona with them. Felix’s action was only a ruse in order to slip me a note telling me to go to the Chantry. He and his friend Dorian wanted to warn me about Alexius, that the man is part of some Tevinter cult that wants me for their master. That sounds like a third rate novel; I don’t think Varric has to worry about competition from me.
Anyway, Josephine said my efforts have given the Inquisition enough legitimacy for her to contact the nobles of Orlais and arrange a meeting with the templars. I do hope the Lord Seeker is willing to see reason and stop acting like a puffed up turniphead. Hmm, better make sure Cassandra doesn’t hear me say that. He was probably just having an off day, right Clara? Clara?
I am so very tired, Clara. The Lord Seeker wasn’t even there . . . it was all a trap created by an Envy demon possessing him. I’ll tell you what we learned tomorrow. *yawn* I’d like to sleep a week. *yawns again*
*frowns thoughtfully* I don’t remember taking my boots off last night, but I must have since they were on the floor by my bed this morning. But if I took them off why didn’t I crawl under all the covers instead of lying on top of the bed and just wrapping a blanket around me? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. As soon as the templars that remain arrive and have an opportunity to prepare, including rest, we will need to seal the breach.
Before I make my report to Cu- my advisors I need to make sure I understand and remember as much as possible. Some of it is easy. Lord Abernache and a group of nobles accompanied us to meet the templars. I should have known something was wrong when Ser Barris met us instead of the Lord Seeker and asked me to raise banners to demonstrate my priorities. I thought it silly but did so in order to be polite, I didn’t want the templars to see me as rude and overbearing as Abernache.
Inside we still didn’t see Lord Seeker Lucius but more templars and guards. Knight-Captain Denam sprang the trap. Poor Ser Barris had nothing to do with it; he was caught just as we were. They, the red templars, didn’t just attack us they attacked the nobles outside. Lord Abernache was killed in the fighting; I should ask Josephine about writing a letter of condolence to his family. Denam was slowly turning his men into red templars, starting with the leadership. I don’t think they even told all the men what was happening, the BASTARDS. Excuse my language, but that’s how I feel.
I was ready to confront the soon-to-be-former Lord Seeker Lucius with all my outrage and the power of the Inquisition as soon as we finished fighting the corrupted templars. That would have been too easy. Easy? Nothing has been easy since the explosion. It looked like the Lord Seeker, but it was an envy demon wearing his form. The moment I touched it, it cast me into . . . well, at first I thought it was the Fade but I was wrong.
Clara, I was cast into a nightmare in my own head! It was so creepy and scary. Josephine, Leliana, Cullen . . . they were all there but different. Dark melting versions – I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I also saw an Inquisition gone mad and cruel with power and, and Cullen hated me. Oh, it was horrible. A spirit, Cole, helped me see what was going on and to escape. The envy demon was trying to learn about me so it could take my place. We didn’t let that happen. Well, you know this since I’m here. I must be even more tired than I thought. Hmm, somebody’s knocking at the door, be right back.
*sits back down, face red*
That was Cullen. He wanted to see how I was feeling. He, um, stopped by last night when he saw my light on and was concerned when I didn’t answer. When he saw me slumped on my bed he was worried until he realized I was simply asleep, so he removed my boots and draped a blanket on me . . . Maker, I hope I wasn’t drooling . . . at least that’s one small mystery solved. Why is it that being around that man makes me feel and react like a silly schoolgirl? I used to feel so bewildered and bemused by some of the female apprentices when they were around one male or another. I’m a grown woman in my twenties trying to save the world; I should be past such ridiculousness. Still . . . seeing him this morning with a smile on his face is much better than the visions from my nightmare(?) if that’s the right word.
Back to recent events, wait, who is Cole? A figment of my imagination? Well, no need to include that in my official report. That’s all we need, for people to think the Herald of Andraste is just a mad woman with a few tricks. Once I found my way out of my own head, weird, we found more untouched templars. They helped us and during our efforts to track the envy demon we found out a part of the Elder One’s plans – Clara, he wants to murder Empress Celene and take advantage of the resulting chaos to destroy Orlais and then all of southern Thedas. That’s, that’s insane!
We must stop him. I have to ask: will sealing the Breach even be enough?
Edited by Norstaera [Nov 21, 2016 23:48:14 GMT -6]
We did it! Praise the Maker and Andraste, we did it! The Breach is closed. I’ll go outside and join the singing and dancing in a minute, after I put my thoughts down. I don’t think I’ll believe it until then.
Is it wrong of me to laugh when I think of Cullen’s reaction to Cole? Probably, but his face when Cole appeared out of thin air . . . I’m glad I was able to stop him from killing the boy, spirit, boy-spirit. Cullen will just have to trust me that I know what I’m doing, at least in this. Then when I argued with him that I want our new allies to be well-rested before attempting to seal the breach . . . He looked just like my brother did when the kitten he was petting turned around and scratched him when he squeezed a little too hard. I, I am fond of Cullen but I am not going to be his obedient pet.
While Ser Barris and the other templars made their way to Haven and regained their strength I worked to better my new skills. This means I found a rift, killed the demons, and closed the rift. Again and again and again. When I went through my Harrowing I was fascinated by how the Fade around me changed with my will. One of the demons I met was quite clever and witty, though I obviously didn’t fall for any of its tricks otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I never imagined that fighting demons would be boring. I wonder, thrust out of the Fade by the rifts, are they damaged somehow? Or do they just not bother trying to be tricky?
That moment in front of the Breach, I’ll never forget it. I felt so insignificant and yet so powerful next to the pulsating column of Fade energy. When all those templars knelt and concentrated on sharing their will with me, sharing their power, I was truly humbled by their belief and let their power fill me. When I lifted my mark I could almost feel each individual templar in my soul as I focused our combined will through the mark on my hand. I still feel a little tingly.
When the Breach finally closed, I admit that I fell to my knees drained of energy. Cullen rushed to my side, concerned, and helped me to my feet. He escorted me to my room and never let go of my arm. He smiled and told me to rest. For a minute I thought he was going to say more but I couldn’t hold back a yawn. He smiled again and closed the door. I so badly wanted to sleep but first I needed to give thanks to the Maker. Without His strength to support me and Andraste’s blessing to encourage me I don’t know if I would have succeeded.
Well, enough of that. It’s time to join the celebration. Maybe I can convince Cullen to dance with me. I love to dance but I’ve never had much opportunity. The music is getting louder, though I think somebody has had too much to drink. Those bells don’t harmonize with . . . no! They sound like the alarm . . . I must
I sit here in a new room and I feel so very, very cold and tired. No matter how high the fire blazes or how close I sit, I can’t shake the chill I feel deep inside me. Dear Maker and Andraste, please guide me and give me strength. I feel the weight of all those deaths when the Elder One appeared and destroyed Haven. It was only a few weeks ago but it feels like a lifetime and yet only a minute have passed.
It started with the ringing bells. An army was approaching, an army with no colors, an army of mages. On the mountain wall opposite appeared a horrendous figure, the blighted Elder One, to sneer at us across the valley. At his side was some woman, grinning like a fool or that loathsome Federic who tormented me in the Circle. Everyone, at Cullen’s urging, hurried inside the gates and we gathered our defenses. Before we could bar the gate I heard yelling and opened it to find an exhausted and injured Dorian. He fought his way to Haven in order to warn us. I only wish his was the worst injury.
We fought. What other choice did we have? Mages, mad with something, attacked and Fiona led them. I hardly recognized her . . . she looked like a rabid beast. What did Alexius do to her? To the others? Or did this so-called Elder one change them somehow? I’ve never seen mages like that . . .
We used the trebuchets and it still wasn’t enough. A dragon appeared and attacked us, spitting out that horrible red lyrium! How do you fight a dragon? We all ran to the Chantry, though we knew we wouldn’t last the night. Then Roderick spoke the words to save so many, he remembered the old path to the temple. I looked at Cullen and knew he already realized what had to be done, if these people were to have a chance, I would have to go out and fight. I needed to keep the Beast’s attention on me long enough for the others to escape. I wasn’t afraid to die, not too much, if it meant Cullen and others would live. I prayed that Andraste would give somebody else the ability to defeat the Elder One and his dragon after I was gone. I was afraid my efforts wouldn’t be enough, but I had to try.
I felt so small, separated from those fighting with me and trapped between the Elder One and his pet dragon. The twisted, disfigured creature was easily twice, maybe, three times my size. He, it easily dangled me off the ground and tried to forcibly remove the anchor from my hand. The pain . . . when it wasn’t successful it acted like an angry child and threw me down like an unwanted toy. The Maker must have been watching for I landed against the last trebuchet. Somehow, I found the strength to pick up a discarded sword and break the trebuchet’s chain. The avalanche burying the Elder One’s army sounded beautiful amidst the carnage.
I don’t remember much after that . . . I was falling . . . there were tunnels, then I was outside . . . cold winds blew frozen snow into my face . . . so much snow, so much cold . . . I had to find the others . . . I was so tired and couldn’t move anymore . . . strong, warm arms held me . . . Cullen’s voice . . . then I think I slept. I remember waking, and people were arguing then they were singing. So much hope in their voices, surely the Maker heard them.
And now we’re in Skyhold.
I’m glad Cullen survived.
The fire practically singes my hair yet I feel nothing but cold.
Please forgive me if I am being too familiar, I’m not very good at writing anything other than orders (just ask my sisters). I found someone important to you and brought her from Haven. She is a little singed and worse for wear but I hope she is a comfort to you, even so. Your journal, on the other hand, was too burnt and most of it crumpled to ash when I tried to retrieve it.
Please accept this new journal from a colleague, friend, and admirer. Fate has dealt to you more than most a difficult hand again and again. You rise to the occasion every time with a grace and fortitude that is inspiring. If writing a journal makes it easier for you, then I will gladly supply them as needed. I took the liberty of acquiring a fresh journal for you to use in hopes it will bring you some peace.
Your friend, Cullen
Clara, seeing you brought a smile to my face. Cullen was so sweet to think of me in the chaos of Haven (no, I am not blushing, maybe). He said he would have returned you to me sooner but he didn’t want anybody to see him leaving my room; that he didn’t want to hurt my reputation. Funny, I don’t feel cold anymore.
They call me Inquisitor now. It’s a very, hmm, weighty word. Herald seems almost trivial in comparison. It’s a very scary word as well. I realize now I wasn’t really the leader before, maybe a leader. Certainly not in the same way I am now. Now, now I’m not leading the effort to seal a hole in the sky, I am in charge of an army and an organization to rival a small nation. All these people pledging to follow me, entrusting me with their hopes and well-being, trusting me to act wisely . . . it’s a huge responsibility.
Josephine is working on getting me an invitation to Empress Celene’s ball at the Winter Palace, but it will take some time. It worries me that none of our messages seem to reach her. Leliana said that Celene always takes precautions against assassins, hopefully they will be enough until I can speak to her and warn her about the specific dangers she faces. Lady Vivienne says I must take time to shop for appropriate formal attire and will take me to her personal modiste. Do I even dare say no? I admit, it will be nice to have some clothes in my closet, even at the Circle I had more than I do now. I’d rather go with Leliana or Josephine . . . too bad Vivienne isn’t the one with the anchor, I’m sure Madame de Fer is more than a match for Corypheus. She could freeze him with one look. How does she do it?
What do I have to do now?
Meet the Champion with Varric. I hope she can give me insights that will help me with Corypheus. How did he manage to come back to life? I believe Varric when he says they killed him.
Investigate Venatori rumors in the Western Approach and the Hissing Wastes.
Meet a man called Fairbanks in the Emerald Graves. Real name?
Something is going on in the Exalted Plains and the Emprise du Lion – find out what. Leliana’s spy network hasn’t missed a beat. They noted a significant amount of movement and communications between groups. I bet their notes detail the color of the enemies’ small clothes hung out to dry. Hmm, I don’t think I really want to know that.
Investigate darkspawn sightings on the Storm Coast – I hope this isn’t the beginning of another Blight. I’m glad we have Blackwall, better take him with me.
Shopping. You know something, Clara? I’ve never been shopping. Mother and Father sent me things but otherwise the Circle provided everything. I bet I learn a lot from Vivienne. I just have to remember not to let her roll over me. I think I better have a clear idea of what I do and do not want.
Varric is waiting.
Jazzny Hawke is . . . not what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected, to be honest. I suppose, since she is Champion of Kirkwall and a mage who never lived in a Circle, I thought she’d be strong, of course, but diplomatic, even discreet. Instead, she’s a bit snarky. Not in a bad way, and I’m sure she can be diplomatic, but she makes no effort to hide who she is or what she thinks. I always assumed apostates were careful not to draw attention to themselves. More like Solas, really.
I remember when I first came to the Circle I was so young and shy. I think I was the youngest apprentice at the time. One day I overheard some of the older apprentices talking about a hedge mage and I was very confused. We found a hedgehog in our garden the summer before, so I was trying to picture a tiny person covered in bristles. I’m glad I didn’t say anything until I saw Ser Barron again. He smiled and explained what it meant. The Champion is definitely more than a hedge mage. Anyway, if we have time I hope Hawke’s willing to talk to me about growing up outside the Circle. Without the Circles we need to know how to live like everybody else, and how to teach younger mages. I wonder if . . . never mind.
I was going to go to Crestwood today to find Hawke’s friend, but nothing seems to go as planned. Josephine conveniently placed her office in front of the war table and conference room so that I can’t sneak past her. To be fair, she needs to be centrally located in order to run things as well as she does and it’s not as if this green glowing thing on my hand escapes notice.
Why am I not going to Crestwood today? Because Josephine, backed by Leliana and Vivienne, decided we need dress uniforms for Empress Celene’s ball. While Josephine was determined, Leliana seemed saddened by my lack of understanding regarding the importance of fashion and Vivienne was simply appalled. According to Madame Dictator – er, Josie, we need to show that we are a proper organization and the Inquisition is not just one person – me. Since I said no to her suggestion (Clara, the uniforms looked just like the bright red uniforms on Stevie’s toy soldiers) I need to come up with an alternative. So . . . back to Val Royeaux we go. There’s no time to search elsewhere, not and be ready for the ball. Well, I’m going to Crestwood tomorrow, no matter what. I will not spend more than one day looking for uniform material.
Between the Chantry opposition and the fake Lord Seeker, I didn’t have much opportunity before to notice how, how Orlesian Val Royeaux is. Clara, I saw somebody stabbed and the two people talking seemed to applaud! I honestly don’t know if it was real or a dramatization. I am going to assume, for my peace of mind if nothing else, that since the guards didn’t come forward it was fake.
Another thing, maybe I’m wrong, but I thought shopkeepers were supposed to want your business, but many seemed to act as if they were doing me a favor by allowing me to spend money in their store. One man seemed quite insulted when I called him a merchant. Well, he can’t be much of one, he only had one thing to sell and for that he wanted 10,000 gold! I don’t even know what it is because he won’t let anyone see it. He says you are not purchasing some vulgar item but the reputation of being able to squander (my word, not his, Deraboam’s) that much money. I had to leave before my head started spinning.
I think all the masks are the most normal thing about Orlais.
Did you know there’s an official lover’s lane for being seen conducting a clandestine affair? I thought the only rule for a secret affair was that it be secret. Apparently, in Orlais, that’s not the case. And no, I did not wonder what it would be like to be there with . . . somebody. Well, not for more than a minute or two. I found an interesting little bookshop and made a few purchases before moving on. I was finally successful with the uniforms. Since we have so little time, I decided to use Josephine’s idea but with different fabric. She had everybody’s measurements written down for me, of course. I think the black patterned with smoky gray will be more dignified and flatter more of us, even me. I gave Josephine the tailor’s information so she can make sure he completes them on time. I won’t be at all surprised if they’re finished early.
I need sleep. I want to leave for Crestwood early in the morning to make up for today. I just know it won’t be easy getting to Warden Stroud. *grumbles* *yawns*
Edited by Norstaera [Apr 14, 2017 14:41:21 GMT -6]
I’m back. I’m tired. I’m filthy. Sera’s mad at me. I’m taking a nap after a hot bath and nobody better get in my way. Urghh!
I feel much better. Well, at least calmer and in control of myself. I need to get my thoughts in order and think about how the events will affect the Inquisition. One thing I’ve found is that it’s better if I have a general plan or idea before I go to the war room otherwise we spend too much time debating. I don’t mind changing my mind if any of my advisors have better information or a perspective I hadn’t considered, but I don’t want to waste time – mine or theirs. As a leader, shouldn’t I always have a plan or a draft of one?
Back to Crestwood; *sigh* what’s worse than a rift? One that’s in an underwater cave and raising up the dead as well as demons to haunt the shores. Oh, and the only way to get to it is to defeat the bandits controlling the fortress so that we can access the dam in order to drain the lake and reach the cave.
We didn’t have time to do all that, which is why Sera’s mad. I wanted to make sure -
Wait, this notebook wasn’t here before. Should I open it? It’s in my room, of course I should.
The scouts informed us a few days ago about the situation you found in Crestwood. I think I know you well enough by now (I hope I’m not being presumptuous) to know you are upset about not helping the villagers right away. You are a good and kind woman who wants to help others; it’s one of the traits I admire about you. Ahem, you made the right decision, in my opinion. Our soldiers can contain the situation until you’re ready. As much as I hate politics, Leliana and Josephine are correct about Empress Celene’s ball. Without Orlais’ assistance, I fear many more will die before you defeat Corypheus, as I’m confident you will - defeat the monster, that is, not die, definitely not that. If you wish to talk or anything else, my door is always open to you.
Oh, in case I forget to say something later, thank you for choosing a darker and more dignified dress uniform. Maker, just the thought of wearing that bright red hurts my eyes. I know I would stand out like a sore thumb, though I’m sure you would look lovely.
Your friend, Cullen
*blushes and clears throat several times*
Clara, I didn’t expect this. Cullen is so sweet to be concerned about me and I do feel better. For a man who hates paperwork this was a very kind and welcome gesture. I’ll have to return it and let him know how much it meant to me.
Back to Crestwood - I wanted to make sure we could reach Stroud and return in time for the ball so we only cleared out the bandits. They were attacking us and we needed to get rid of them in order to continue. I claimed the fortress for the Inquisition; our soldiers can keep the villagers safe until I can return (as Cullen mentioned). I finally had to tell Sera if she didn’t stop nagging me about dealing with that rift and the walking corpses I wouldn’t take her with me to take down any more dragons. She pouted but at least she was quiet. She can be annoying at times, but her heart’s in the right place. I can’t fault her for wanting to help people, especially people who are frequently overlooked.
All that arguing and we still didn’t find Stroud. That poor man will just have to wait a little longer, until after the ball.
Time to update my advisors and then I think I’ll go for a walk. Maybe I can get Cullen to take a break; that man works too hard.
*A few hours later, sits down at desk all flustered* Oh. My. Ahem, well, umm, oh my. Clara . . . maybe I’ll start with the war table. Surely, that will calm my nerves. Aunt Minetta sometimes came to see me at the Circle; she confided once that the sight of all those templars in uniform set her nerves all aflutter. I didn’t then, but now I understand what she meant . . . maybe that’s why she visited me more often than most of my relatives; that’s a bit lowering to my self-esteem. No, I prefer to think that was a pleasant bonus for her. Yes, that’s much better.
Yes, Clara, I’ll stop dithering now. It feels wrong, somehow, to describe the war table briefing as routine, but I can’t think of a more appropriate word. Today, many of the items we discussed were relatively benign! I’m sure it is a momentary break, but I am grateful that no serious matters came up requiring decisions about force, or spies, or tricky diplomacy. The most difficult decision involved the Prince of Starkhaven’s request/offer to take over Kirkwall for now. Since neither Varric nor Cullen think much of him, I left it for Josephine to politely decline the offer, saying he could be of best service if he remained in Starkhaven. I have a feeling he will accept our position but with ill-grace. Fortunately, Starkhaven isn’t important or influential enough to hurt us. I guess I have some of my parents’ political instincts after all. And I thought Stevie was the heir to all such abilities.
Afterwards, it seemed like a good time to return Cullen’s notebook to him and maybe make him take a break. He admitted he was worried that Sera might get her hands on it for one of her pranks. I couldn’t promise that wouldn’t happen, of course, it amazes me some of the places she gets into, but I did offer to enchant it so only he and I could read it. I worried he might be upset, but he understood I couldn’t very well enchant it against me. He said he rather liked the idea of being able to leave me a message and know it was safe from our resident wild child. Then he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.
While we were walking the ramparts, I finally had the courage to ask if he could possibly care for a mage. You know that I hoped so, but after everything he’s seen, after everything that was done to him by mages, I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was selfish of me, but I needed to know. Clara, he was so surprised that I even had to ask, it was nice to hear the words. Then . . . it seems silly to write this down, but . . . he was about to kiss me when an aide came with a report or something. I felt so awkward, and embarrassed. We weren’t doing anything wrong, but still . . . that poor man. Cullen nearly bit his head off and only then did he realize he was interrupting. I’m not sure which of us turned more red! The aide left, I don’t know his name, and I began to stammer and follow when Cullen stopped me. I was so sure the moment was past but C-Cullen had other ideas – he grabbed me and kissed me as if his life depended on it. It, it was wonderful!
*dreamy mooning* I should thank Jezle Amell. Cullen had a crush on her when they were both at the Fereldan Circle. I was jealous at first, but if her memory kept him from hating mages then I’m grateful. And if she taught him how to kiss . . . then Maker’s blessings upon her. Not that I have a great deal of experience; Federic was the only other person I’ve ever kissed and, umm, let’s just say there is no comparison. None.
The Winter Palace, ugh, and the Grand Game is Stupid
What a mess. I suppose my ‘lessons’ with Vivienne, Josephine and Leliana on Orlesian politics and nobility paid off, since the ball could have ended in a bigger disaster.
The evening started reasonably well. Josephine was right about the uniforms, we stood out as an entity but in a good way. Everyone looked distinguished, even Sera, when she wasn’t looking for pies to throw. Cullen received quite a lot of attention from the ladies and gentlemen attending. *giggles* Poor man, I think one of the noblemen pinched his bottom, not that I blame him. The Duke was quite charming and rather open, for an Orlesian. Or a better player than he wishes to admit. In a way, I found it refreshing that he didn’t try to conceal that he was using the Inquisition for his own benefit.
You would have liked the Winter Palace itself, Clara. I think it might be the most beautiful estate in Thedas. I’m sure the night hid some of the garden’s treasures; maybe one day I can return and see for myself, under more peaceful circumstances. People were gay and flamboyant, but couldn’t quite disguise the tension that subtly perfumed the air. Ha, was that flowery enough? It’s true though. Some of it was because I’m a mage and many were uncomfortable that Andraste’s Herald could possibly be a mage. I wish they could see we are people with a different set of abilities, but I can’t worry about that now. Anyway, back to Halamshiral. Inside was just as opulent and breathtaking as out, but I felt . . . it’s hard to describe. For all its grandness, the walls seemed to be pressing against me. Perhaps it was because there were more people and I couldn’t help but overhear things.
I know, all this talk about how beautiful the Palace is, how gorgeous the Empress (and she is, or very good at giving the illusion of elegant beauty) avoids talking about what happened. Empress Celene was gracious, Duke Gaspard impatient and Ambassador Briala, you heard me correctly, secretive. I danced and smiled, mingled and wandered while trying to discover the assassin’s identity. The elven servants were aloof and not very helpful; they were probably Briala’s agents. Gaspard warned or informed us something was going on. We found dead bodies, one was a diplomat or courier, probably killed by the Venatori who attacked us shortly afterwards. That’s right, Venatori infiltrated Halamshiral!
I met the Empress’ arcane advisor. Leliana knew her, Morrigan, and didn’t trust her. She helped the Wardens during the Blight. I can’t help wondering if Leliana didn’t trust her because she was aloof and spoke in riddles or because she wore rags and feathers then. *snicker*
I will say this, Lady Morrigan is an interesting woman. A powerful mage, definitely; she’s as arrogant and imperious as Vivienne but she scoffs at the Chantry, the templars, and other lesser mortals who dare seek to control her. I’m sure I am a disappointment, but not her concern. She gave me some information and a key, taken from the dead body of the man who attacked her.
I don’t know why I’m rambling like this. Maybe I’m still trying to understand this Game of Orlais, so pervasive and deadly. I feel unclean just thinking about what happened, or almost happened. Many members of my family are political and scheme to better their position. I’m sure some of their schemes aren’t too savory, though I don’t know if I would have understood this before leaving the Circle. Was I oblivious then, too naïve to see the webs of intrigue woven by enchanters and students alike? Or was it as I remember it, a place of learning and safety, in spite of the inevitable tensions when so many people live in close proximity?
Forgive my bad prose and digressions. Corypheus’ agent and Celene’s would-be assassin was none other than Gaspard’s own sister, Grand Duchess Florianne. She was so proud of how well she played the game, planning Celene’s assassination in the guise of trusted advisor while framing her own brother for the crime. At least we defeated her. We now have Orlais’ support against Corypheus and his unholy army. I only hope the peace we brokered between her, Gaspard, and Briala last long enough for us to finish our fight. I can hope it lasts longer, but somehow I doubt it.
Did I tell you that Lady Morrigan is now with us? She’s our liaison with the Court. I’m not sure she’s happy about it, but at least she seems willing to share her knowledge with us. Her expertise and understanding of subjects never taught in the Circle can only benefit us, I think. How odd, I just considered how little Solas does share.
I am so grateful to Cullen. After Florianne was defeated and peace declared, I felt so . . . I don’t know really, outside of things. I certainly didn’t feel like celebrating, so I stayed outside on the balcony where I could be alone. Was I brooding? Perhaps. Anyway, Cullen found me. At first we talked, I felt better just by him being there, then he asked me to dance. For a moment, I could forget while we danced alone under the stars.