It Was But A Choice (A Dragon Age Inquisition Fan Fiction)

 

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Introduction

This is not at all a recreation of the actual series Dragon Age.

This was a chance to create more story and create more characters within the world and the story that was already written.

 

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Chapter 1: The Strangest World Yet

            The scene was set with two women, hard at work studying. One of them had several books open in a different language while the other was hard at work on a subject that was in English. Frustration was etched into the woman with red curls as she struggled to think through the sentences she was creating upon the paper under her pencil.

            “Baah, this homework’s too hard!” said a girl with red curly hair and red glasses. She tossed a pencil down on the open notebook with a frustrated sigh. With her frustration she pushed a hand through her short hair and then settled, all but threw, her arm onto the armrest of the chair.

            “You can do it, Haruko,” another girl with black glasses and short light brown hair. Her face bright and encouraging. “You’re good at Japanese.”

            “Not as good as you think I am,” Haruko said with a pout on her face. There was a look of frustration and yet of knowledge. Sure she was talented at Japanese, but she knew enough to get buy without having much of an intelligent conversation.

            “I think you don’t give yourself enough credit,” the other girl said with a giggle. She’d known that Haruko would get frustrated with her work often enough to learn that the woman just needed a bit of encouragement and perhaps a slight poke at her ego. Haruko made a face in response and then returned to her work.

            “What about your work, Maeve? Getting any of it done?”

            “Actually, I just got done with the paper I was working on,” Maeve replied with a smile. Haruko scowled and returned to her work. She was writing down characters in Japanese, trying to memorize them for a test that was coming up. One after another. One after another. In a repetitious manner so that she would memorize and remember what she was studying and writing. However it was apparent this was not the way she wanted to study.

            “Don’t get upset, you’re almost done too,” Maeve encouraged as best as she could.

            “I hate it when people mention that I’m graduating,” Haruko replied, not looking up from her work.

            “Who said anything about graduating?” Maeve retorted with a smile again. Haruko glanced up at Maeve, a small glare in her eyes but quickly ignored her friend to get back to her homework. It was true, there was no mention of the word “graduation” but it was still something that Haruko didn't want to think about. Not when she wasn't sure as to what her life was going to be outside the confines of the College Campus.

            “I did,” Haruko said after a time. “I just… don’t like thinking about it.”

            “I know you don’t,” Maeve said calmly. “But you can still visit us if you get that job down in Indi.”

            “Yeah, only on the weekends that you two don’t leave on…If I don’t have family obligations and all,” Haruko reminded, rolling her shoulders a bit. She’d been writing for too long, and hunched over her notebook for too long. Her family was everything to her. They had stuck with her since the divorce, and even after when she was unable to get out of the abusive cycle due to age complications. The only reason she was being held within that retched house was because she was too young and adults thought they knew what she was thinking and going through.

            “Understandable,” Maeve said in reply. “Speaking of which, we should probably go get the child.”

            “Yeah…Aurdri’s probably waiting for us, we do have that pizza party she wanted to throw,” Haruko said, putting her pencil down and closing her notebook. “We should probably get some drinks before heading back to my dorm.”

            “Good idea.”

            The two packed up their things, putting books and notebooks into their backpacks and carefully putting away laptops. Haruko was very careful about her backpack, considering most of her life was in her laptop and she had already had several computers crash before. At those times her files had been completely deleted with nothing to back up. Those were some very depressing times. Maeve was particular as well. Everything had a place, and it was important to know where everything was. Like her phone that she had checked several times for messages that she might have missed.

            They left the library, talking about their classes and planning for other times where they could study together. Finals were coming up, and the date of Haruko’s graduation was coming ever closer. Just the thought made her depressed and her anxiety flare up enough to make her chest feel tight. She didn't want to leave her life behind just yet, not when she’d already spent four long years here at her college. Maeve was just on her way through those years, at the halfway mark and still enjoying all that was college. Well as much as someone who was willing to study and then become just as anxious and worrisome as Haruko did during those times.

            “Excuse me!” someone shouted at them.

            “Yes?” Haruko asked, turning around. Maeve did the same, only half turning around to see some boy sprinting towards them looking panicked.

            “Oh…um…I was wondering if you could…um…help me with something…” the guy asked. He seemed rather timid, almost panicked for whatever reason. Haruko glanced wearily at Maeve before looking back at the nervous guy. Something about this just felt wrong.

            “Yeah, what is it?” Haruko asked, not sure if she should trust the guy.

            “I can’t get my…um…laptop…it’s…um...frozen and I have a paper and I need to get it done and no one will help me and and and and,” the guy started to freak out more and more and then looked like he was going to break down.

            “Calm down,” Haruko said, approaching carefully, more worried about the man’s mental well-being. “I’ll see what I can do, do you know what kind of laptop it is?”

            “…I don’t know…” the man said and then kept repeating himself. Maeve did her best to calm him down as they walked to the table that was just outside of the library. There was a little place with tables for people to study outside when the weather was nice enough. Like today, a nice cool breeze would blow through the area and cool you off if you were getting too hot sitting in the sun. In the evening, the shade of the library would keep the sun off of you whilst you worked. They approached the table and saw that there was an older styled laptop with nothing but a blackish screen on it.

            “Well this is an older one,” Haruko commented, sitting down and then typed a little on the keyboard. Her eyebrows scrunched up and she clicked more and more, typing in different codes. Maeve wasn't necessarily as apt for computers as Haruko was, given Haruko’s father had a job working with computers for ten years or so. So there was nothing much that she could do other than stand there and be supportive if that meant anything in that moment.

            “It’s not working at all…But there’s not blue screen of death,” Haruko said, concentrating hard on the screen and then took out her phone to search on what kind of problem this was. No matter what she tried the screen didn't seem to move much. Occasionally there would be a flash of green in the corner or perhaps a strip right down the middle but that was strange in itself. Usually a computer uses primary colors, the red, blue, yellow scheme that was simple to follow. Seeing green only made her think that maybe the system was Linux.

            “Haruko will fix it,” Maeve said, calming the man. With the intent of helping or figuring out what the problem could be, Haruko looked intently at her phone, scrolling through different blogs and informational websites but shook her head with frustration. There was nothing to say what this was. Nothing that would indicate how a computer would get this far into a bind. She even lifted the computer to see if she could find a make and model number only to find that there was nothing.

            “So much for finding an answer,” Haruko grumbled, putting her phone back in her rocker jacket pocket and going back to the computer.

            “Here let me look at it,” Maeve said, peering over Haruko’s shoulder.

            “It’s just stuck on this one screen,” Haruko explained. The screen was dark. Haruko played with some keys again and the screen flashed once more. It was startling enough to make her and Maeve jump where they were. Now the screen showed an eerie cave, with a green hue. There was nothing to indicate there were any icons, no menu bar, not even the mouse upon the screen. Maeve and Haruko leaned into the screen, intently looking for something that would explain the sudden change.

            “Perhaps you should have listened to your instincts,” the guys said right in their ears before everything disappeared around them. Maeve and Haruko were now falling down in an abyss. They shouted in surprise, shrieked in panic until they landed on the ground with a residing thud.

            “OOF!” Haruko grunted as the ground met her back.

            “AAAAH!” Maeve squealed. It was like they were in that picture that was on the laptop. There was a moment when they both were too engulfed in the pain of the landing to get their bearings around them. It was Haruko who stood up first to look around in a panicked state.

            “Where in the hell are we?!” she breathed, unable to fathom what just happened. She stood up, looked around her to see nothing but the same few rocks and the faint greenish hue that everything had. It was the same as the screen they had looked through, but there was nothing to show that there was the screen that might have sent them here.

            “Where are we?” Maeve whined, now in a sitting position, crying. Her body was shaking; her tears were already making a slight river down her face on each cheek.

            “I don’t know but let’s get moving,” Haruko said, helping the crying Maeve up. “I have a bad feeling about this place.”

            They walked through, splashing through what looked like water…or green goop that had the same consistency as water. The ground beneath them was not consistent at all. It felt sometimes they were walking on something that, dare they guess, fleshy where as other points it seemed as though they were on cold hard stone. This place didn't seem to end, forever winding through and weaving in confusing ways. Haruko was already becoming very worried since there was nothing to go off of to figure east or west. The trail never ended; just lead them farther and farther away from their original starting point.

            “I want to go home!!” Maeve wailed lightly, unable to stop crying.

            “Crying’s not going to help us here, Maeve,” Haruko said harshly, but not really meaning to be so harsh. She was only trying to figure a way out of this place. Panicking wouldn’t help, it would only make it worse, and not doing anything about their current situation was definitely not going to help either. But what was she to do? She had no proof to give to Maeve to help calm her down from this situation. No, now was not the time to get upset with the situation, not when one of them was already in a panicked state of mind. A calm mind would see them through whatever this was. There was suddenly the sound of skittering that came from behind them and Haruko looked to see what it was.

            “Maeve…uh, don’t look,” Haruko said and grabbed her shoulder when she started to look. “Just RUN!”

            They splashed loudly through the water, and found an area to climb up. The rocks slipped as they desperately climbed away from the spiders that chased them, knocking into some of them but not stopping the others from attempting to get to them. Haruko cut herself pretty deep on her left hand when she slipped from one of the rocks. She hissed with pain and ignored it as she continued to climb up. However Maeve was not keeping up with the pace and was falling behind.

            “I can’t! I just!” Maeve started to slow down. There was a pained and desperate expression upon her face.

            “NO!” Haruko shouted, pulling her friend. “You are coming with me!”

            Haruko forced Maeve to come with her, not willing to accept the fact that they would not be able to get out together. She did all she could to keep them together as they climbed, purposefully kicking rocks to slow down the hoard of spiders that were crawling to them. The spiders would squeal or shriek when they were hit and that sound seemed to echo down the bottom. But it did not help that for every one that was felled by rocks, ten more just seemed to replace it. Haruko looked up, desperate to find an out. With her hand already going numb with pain and Maeve starting to slow down, there was no way they would be able to keep up the pace they needed to out run the spiders. It was when things started to look their worst when a light shone in Haruko’s eyes. She blinked and tried to figure out what it was. If it was someone else to rescue them, it would be in their best interest to hurry towards it. But what of the spiders? She spent no time in getting them to a ledge before trying to force more loose rock to fall down.

            “Haruko! I see a light!” Maeve shouted. Haruko was in the middle of causing another rockslide but knew exactly what Maeve was talking about. It was glowing brightly, and flickered like a flashlight would. With a final grunt and push, Haruko was able to send a sizable boulder crashing down upon the spiders that threatened their lives. Haruko waved at Maeve desperately.

            “Go! Just go Maeve!” Haruko shouted, running towards the light.

            “This way!” it shouted. Haruko threw Maeve into the light and jumped through it herself. They tumbled through the light, almost floating with a current before being dumped onto solid ground again. They both gave a shout of pain.

            “Alright!” Haruko shouted. She picked herself up off the ground and brushed dried grass and dirt from her favorite Japanese punk shirt and red plaid skirt. “I am done being thrown into things that I don’t know! I am done with being chased by spiders! And I am DONE with whatever this is!”

            Maeve was just whimpering again, unable to get up for the time being. Haruko figured it would be best to just leave her there, but not leave the area. Her hand, now that the high of adrenaline was starting to wear off, was throbbing with the pain of her cut. She looked down at it and gave a little wince. It looked rather deep and left untreated would pose the possibility to infection. But it was more important for both of them needed to stick together through this and get back…some how.

            The place that they were in now was a bit colder, definitely not spring anymore. It was almost like they were in a park, the trees full with discolored leaves or no leaves at all. A breeze blew through and it gave Haruko a shiver. Maeve didn’t seem to be fazed much. All things considered she was the one that was wearing a slightly fleeced jacket and pants as opposed to Haruko who was in a skirt and a rather short one at that.

            “Well…wherever we are, we need to find different clothes,” Haruko said zipping up her jacket the best she could to protect herself against the cold. “Come on Maeve, when we find a place out of the cold you can cry some more.”

            Haruko helped calm down Maeve just enough to get them moving. They walked down a beaten path, weary of the things that they might run into. So far, there was nothing but weird, maybe an occasional wolf or goat but nothing too terribly out of the ordinary. If it were wolves, they left well enough alone. Haruko was grateful for that, seeing as they had no protection from those creatures. The thought of them being mauled to death by was beginning to pose a big problem in Haruko’s mind. The nature here acted as though it were winter, not spring, and Haruko’s clothes were for such weather. Maeve’s was a bit better with long jeans and a lined sweatshirt designed to make it seem like she was wearing a Spiderman costume. It also didn't help that the terrain was not the best. Hilly and rocky, and yet Haruko was grateful for the tall boots to hug her weaker ankles. She was not grateful for the fact that her shoes didn’t breath properly.

             In the distance, there were soldiers or what seemed to be soldiers, perhaps they would be willing to help poor lost souls out…or kill them. But what were they to do? They were out here, alone, weak from running, and in no position to survive the cold out here. Hell if the sun went down they would freeze to death. 

            “Haruko…who are those guys?” Maeve asked, clinging onto Haruko like a bur to a wool jacket.

            “I don't know…but we won’t know until we go to them and ask,” Haruko said taking a step forward before being yanked back. She looked down at Maeve who looked just as terrified as Haruko felt.

            “What if they kill us?!” Maeve exclaimed. Haruko let out an exasperated sigh. Yes, she was well aware of the gamble they were taking and not being able to take care of themselves in their current state was not worth their lives.

            “If we don't ask we aren’t going to get anywhere!” she pointed out. Maeve still clung tightly to Haruko’s arm, her hand throbbing in protest every time it was bummed into. Haruko had to place a brave face and ignore it for her friend’s comfort.

            “Um excuse me,” Haruko called out. The strange men turned, one actually a woman, and drew their weapons. Both of women them froze in their places.

            “Identify yourselves,” they ordered. Maeve let out an “eep” and shrunk behind Haruko’s larger frame. Haruko held up a hand that she could to show there was no weapon, while the other was being tightly clung too.

            “I’m Haruko Ruskin,” she said then gestured to Maeve. “This is Maeve Herrschaft, we seem to be lost.”

            The strange soldiers looked at one another, as though communicating something, before looking back at the two women.

            “Where did travel from?” one of them asked.

            “We aren’t really sure,” Haruko explained. “We were at our University, helping out some guy, then we ended up here…well in a stranger place first, then here.”

            “…university?” the other asked, looking confused. The soldiers didn't seem to believe them and their weapons were raised higher. Haruko held up her hands, even ripped the one that Maeve held onto so tightly. The blood on her hand was already dried and it was starting to bruise from the force of the slip.

            “Hey hey! No need for those!” she said, now getting rather nervous about their situation. “Look, we just want to find shelter, maybe some food and a way back home. No trouble, we aren’t even armed.”

            The soldiers didn't seem to believe Haruko. They seemed like they were staring at her hand with more suspicion than before and Haruko couldn't figure out why that would be a thing. Wouldn't a normal person be less weary of someone who was hurt and not wearier?

            “Heyhey!” Haruko stepped backwards, nearly tripping over Maeve, who had given a slight squeak in reaction. “Look, if we wanted to harm you guys, do you think we would have come up to you?”

            That seemed to slow them down, no, they actually put their weapons away. A sigh of relief escaped past Haruko’s lips and she too relaxed a bit. It seems their words and reactions were what won the day here. It did not alleviate the tension in the air.

            “We have a place…but we aren’t sure if we could help you…we have other things to worry about,” one of them said.

            “Uh…like what?” Haruko asked, curious. The soldier point to the sky. Haruko looked and saw a giant green rift open in the sky. It almost looked like a hurricane but with some sort of light shooting up toward it. It made her feel uneasy, and she knew that something like that was not natural…if at all possible. Shouldn't there be wind and rain if this were a hurricane of sorts? Hell if they truly were looking at something like that the storm itself must have been rather high in the air. Nothing about this made scientific sense.

            “What the hell is that?!”

            Maeve was now just whimpering again. Haruko didn't take notice, she was too busy trying to think of what the hell that thing could be in the sky. However, she did place a protective hand in front of Maeve unconsciously.

            “We call it the Breach,” the soldier explained. “Each day it is pouring out demons, and causing other rifts to form in other places.”

            “Demons?!” Maeve exclaimed.

            “Well that’s an easier fix,” Haruko said. “Just throw holy water and read from the Bible, that usually takes care of them…you guys have priests that can do that right?”

            “Bible?”

            What was going on here? Everything that Haruko said seemed to just confuse the soldiers more.

            “You know, the Holy Bible, Word of God, that sort of thing,” Haruko tried to explain, now feeling an uneasiness that she hadn’t known before. She’d read a few stories like this, the hero falls into an unknown land, unknown culture, and cannot return…the way things were going, they were playing out exactly like those stories.

            Please let it not be true Haruko thought desperately. Please…please let it not be true…

            A soldier seemed to look to the sky, for the sun or something else perhaps.

            “We should get going, we will make it to Haven by nightfall at this rate,” the soldier said briskly, now walking away from them.

            “Haruko…” Maeve whimpered, grabbing Haruko’s arm. Haruko gave a little wince before looking down at her friend.

            “Yeah…I know…” Haruko said, patting Maeve on the head. If she had hugged Maeve, she too would start breaking down.

 

            By the time they got to a small town called Haven, they were exhausted. Haruko could feel blisters starting to form on her feet from her boots, and she could only imagine how Maeve must have felt. Maeve had a messed up knee, perhaps torn ligaments but she wasn't sure. Haruko herself had a weak knee, not just from her family genes but also from breaking it when she was young. However she had been fighting to keep the pain it caused at least tolerable but using it as much as possible to strengthen it. But that only did so much.

            Whatever the case, she couldn't do much walking and with all of this activity that they had been doing in the last twenty-four hours, Haruko could only hope that she wasn't in too much pain. They walked to the gates and sat down, trying to catch their breath that never seemed to return to their bodies. Maeve was the one that rested up against the nearest tree to catch her breath. Haruko was the one that stood there, panting and taking in her surroundings.

            “You did good for such a long hike,” one of the soldiers said in jest. Haruko just gave the man a warning glare then turned to Maeve. Her hand was aching now, so much so that she had placed it within a pocket of her jacket to take the weight of gravity off of it.

            “How are you holdin’ up?” she asked her friend.

            “…I hurt…all over…” Maeve panted out. Haruko nodded in response and looked to the gates of the town. They were wooden, with the design of ancient civilizations in mind. In fact this was not the first time that Haruko had noticed the strange likeness to the medieval period this place had. There were crumbled ruins at one point where a fort stood, courtesy of one of the soldiers traveling with them, and it looked more like a castle than a fort. This one was more of a basic wooden fort, built in a hurry perhaps or lack of materials for a stonewall.  Whatever the case, this place was only getting stranger and stranger as time went on.

            “So, this is Haven?” Haruko asked the soldier and got a nod in reply. Haruko looked at the big gate then over at the rift in the sky. Hopefully they wouldn’t have to deal with the demons…they themselves knew nothing of combat. Haruko only knew how to protect herself in theory, but never got to practice everyday. Maeve had zero training, nothing what so ever, and now they were thrust into a world that might require them to protect themselves. From what the soldiers told them, they were in a land called Thedas, that was being torn apart by an explosion that went off at a place called the Temple of Sacred Ashes. Haruko hoped to never see such a place.

            “Come on Maeve,” Haruko said patting her friend on the shoulder. “Let’s get inside and get some warmer clothes.”

            They walked through the gates and were greeted by the sounds of metal clanging on metal as well as the occasional shouts of men and women fighting one another. These were the soldiers training for combat. Haruko’s jaw dropped when she saw actual knights fighting in practice with one another. This place was exactly like the books that she had read in her free time. Unlikely heroes being thrust into a different world often times one of a different time period to a parallel one. Maeve brought Haruko back to reality with a squeeze of her arm. Haruko looked away and saw a woman in purple and a strange looking eye pattern woven onto her shirt walking towards them. This woman was not one to be messed with, judging by the serious look on her face.

            “Who are these people?” she asked shortly. And there was the second bit of evidence needed to know this woman was not to be messed with.

            “They appeared out of nowhere, Seeker,” the soldiers reported. “Much like what happen with the Herald.”

            That warranted them a glare from the lady named Seeker. Maeve hid behind Haruko again, unable to stare down this woman. Haruko stood fast, even placed a protective arm behind her to shield Maeve. It was almost natural the way Haruko was able to square up, even if she knew in her mind there was no way in hell she’d win in a fight against this woman. This Seeker oozed experience, battle experience and would not tolerate any sort of business from the funny category.

            “Why should we trust you?” Seeker asked with a glare as equally biting.

            “…” Haruko thought about her answer carefully. “We have nothing to give to you that would make you trust us…we can give you the truth, and that is all you will have.”

            “Which is?”

            “We were helping someone out with their computer, and then we…we were sucked into it, falling, and ending up in a place that looked like a cave or ravine with water on the ground. There was a greenish hue to everything, and an eerie feeling like you were being watched. Eventually we were chased by spiders, and climbed up a rocky cliff towards a shining green light. There was light, it might have been some sort of shape, I don't know, but it shouted something at us. We ran towards it and then we ended up here, with your soldiers, who were kind enough to bring us here,” Haruko explained with as much detail as she could. “We have no money, no food. My friend here is hurting from the walking and cannot do that much activity in a day. We ask for a place to stay, some food, warm clothes and possibly help to get home.”

            Haruko left out her injury on purpose. There was no need to make it seem like she was pleading their case based on herself. Selflessness usually was better in these sorts of situation. Besides, Haruko’s personality was a self-sacrificing one. In Maeve could get food and shelter, that would make Haruko happy enough to look for shelter on her own. She didn't have any proper training in self-survival but she had enough common knowledge to figure it out…if it would come down to that.

            If Seeker had any emotion to their story at all, she didn't show it. In fact, it seemed as though she was contemplating their situation. There was not a hint of compassion or pity that went in there direction, but one of contemplation and question if you would call it that.

            “Your situation is not so different from the other refugees here. However, the circumstance to which you came here is suspicious,” Seeker said. There was a sinking feeling starting to grow in Haruko’s stomach.

            “Please, Seeker,” Haruko said, taking a small step forward. “We know nothing of this place, no where else to go! I beg you please, at least take my friend!”

            “That would leave you out to the elements to die, a worthless sacrifice,” Seeker said turning her back. Haruko didn't know what happened, her body just moved of its own accord.

            “You don't understand!” Haruko shouted grabbing Seeker’s arm. Thankfully it was her right hand that wasn't injured.  “What would happen if you were suddenly thrust into a world with nothing to your name?! No money, no food, no clothes for the cold?! You know nothing of the land here, the people, perhaps even the language! Then what?! Would you cut everything down with your sword that you have at your hip? Crush skulls to settle disputes with your shield on your back?!”

            “Enough!” Seeker interrupted, but did not shout. Haruko’s mouth closed but her glare remained. The Seeker regarded her with, something, there was an emotion that Haruko couldn't quite put into words but at least the Seeker was attempting to listen.

             “I hear your call, strangely enough it reminded me of my duty, even though I am in the middle of trying to protect others from the Breach. I will see what I can do, at least I can give you some clothes to wear,” the Seeker then said.

            Haruko felt the relief wash over her face and she gave a happy look to Maeve. At least they would have clothing to keep them warm in this wintery cold.

            “Thank you…Thank you thank you” Haruko said with a slight bow of her head before returning Seeker’s arm. The woman walked away and left them to their own devices. The soldiers showed them to a building called the Chantry and gave them some clothes to wear. Haruko got tall brown boots that were more comfortable than her combat boots and some wool pants and a shirt to go with it. Maeve got the same thing only a little smaller to fit her size. There was also a Sister that was there to help wrap up Haruko’s hand once it was revealed that it was injured.

            “This are the strangers that appeared the same as I?” a male voice came from behind them. Both women about jumped out of their skins to see a man behind them. He was tall with very dark brown hair. It wasn't ragged or shaggy, but actually well kept considering the times. His head was square, very masculine, with a five o’clock shadow that darkened his already tanned face. He wore a heavy set of armour, or what looked like a heavy set, and a sword at his hip. It was obvious that he was prepared for battle.

            “Yes,” Seeker’s voice answered. Haruko leaned a little to see Seeker standing behind the man. He was quite a bit taller than her, and definitely taller than Maeve, but most people were taller than Maeve.

            “There’s no need to be frightened,” the man said noticing the uneasiness in the two women. Uneasy would be a light term for it, more like weary of anyone with a weapon.

            “My name is Hal Trevelyan. I also am called the Herald of Andraste.”

            Both Haruko and Maeve looked very confused. The hell was that supposed to be? Some sort of language they were not used to hearing? That would be a first since both of them studied languages and had a firm grasp on common sounds most of them made when spoken. They didn't necessarily understand what was being said however. Maeve’s eyebrows furrowed in the confusion while Haruko was the one to turn her head to the side to imply there needed to be more explanation.

            “I think that may be a discussion for another time,” Hal said with a face of worry and pity. “I’m sure you two are thoroughly exhausted given what you two have already been through.”

            “You may be right,” Haruko said with a tired smile. “Thank you for getting us clothes and a place to stay and food…and everything else.”

            “I’m glad we could help,” Hal said with a deep chuckle. “I was informed that you were not from around here.”

            “No, we are not,” Haruko said before feeling a gentle tug on her sleeve. She gave a turn to see Maeve, struggling to breath or maybe it was a break down, or perhaps both going on at the same time.

            “Haruko…I can feel it…my medicine…I need my medicine,” Maeve said, her eyes filled with worry and anxiety. Haruko looked at her, confused at first before her eyes widened with the sudden realization.

            “Is something wrong?” Hal asked. Haruko turned to him, and rather quickly.

            “You don't have a potion or medicine that would help with anxiety would you?” she asked with an increasing sense of urgency.

            “Anxiety?” Hal asked with a questioned tone. “You have medicine for that where you come from?”

            “Yeah, Maeve gets these panic attacks, daily, and she needs medicine to keep herself calm and collected and normal,” Haruko explained quickly. She could feel Maeve’s grip tightening on her sleeve.

            “We don’t have something like that,” Seeker explained. “She will have to do without.”

            “I CAN’T just go without!” Maeve snapped, looking slightly crazed. “If I don't have my medicine then I start to have panic attacks over EVERYTHING! I can’t think! I can’t function! If I just internalize it then it starts to affect my body and and and…”

            “It’s okay Maeve,” Haruko said, gently sitting Maeve down in a chair. The poor woman looked so jittery and worried. Haruko only wished there was some way to take that away now. There was no use for it, not here when you needed to have every ounce of wit to survive.

            “There has to be something that we can do?” Haruko asked. The look on her face was one of tired desperation.

            “I’m sure we can give her a sleeping potion for now,” Hal said. “I’ll take you to the healer now, perhaps there is something that Adan can make in the mean time that will help fight this anxiety.”

            Haruko helped walk Maeve down to the healer’s and get a sleeping potion for her. It took a while before Haruko was able to convince Maeve to drink the potion, since she was so weary of what she was taking as medication all the time. There was no way to explain the ingredients, as it was made with things that even Haruko was having a hard time understanding. The plants, the method, everything was completely foreign to her even though they were explained in her native tongue so to speak.

            “Maeve, it’s just going to help you sleep for now,” Haruko explained. “Then, when we have had enough rest, we will try a new medicine that they have here to treat your anxiety okay?”

            “…fine…” Maeve said then drinking the potion and laying back on the bed that they had. Haruko sat in the seat next to the bed until Maeve had finally fallen asleep from the potion. What exactly were they going to do? Nothing here was like Haruko thought it would be. And what was worse, there didn't seem to be a shred of information to explain how they got there. Haruko gave a sigh and rubbed her face to free it from weariness. Aft that, she got up and met up with the Herald once more.

            “I take it she fell right to sleep?” Hal asked once she found him. Haruko gave a weary nod.

            “Adan said he would try and talk to some people, maybe try a few recipes and spells that will help with her anxiety. But as of right now, we have nothing that will truly help her with her anxiety,” her voice matched the level of exhaustion she had hit.

            “I’m sorry about that,” Hal said, looking truly sorry about their situation. His face was one of pity. Haruko gave a heavy sigh. She was exhausted, no beyond that. She wanted to be back at home, hug her father, her little sister and her stepmother. She wanted to be back at school finishing her degree that she’d been working on for the past four years…but most of all, she wanted to get her friend out of this environment because that was what her personality demanded. The first thing that she ever thought of was not of herself; it was of Maeve getting out of here. Had it been any other of her friends, it would have been the same situation, same scenario.

            “You should get some rest, you’ve had quite the day too,” Hal suggested softly. Haruko looked over at him, back at the door before rubbing the back of her head and throwing it down in exasperation.

            “Yeah…I’m just…going to stay by Maeve’s side…I don't know when she’s going to wake up…I’m sure she’d want me there to help calm her down,” Haruko said. Hal nodded.

            “We will discuss things in the morning.”

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Chapter 2: Big Decisions

            It had been five days since the two had arrived to Thedas through unusual circumstances. Maeve had been hold up in the healer’s cabin, trying all sorts of different potions to keep her anxiety at bay without having to use a sleeping potion every time she started to have a panic attack. Being in this new environment didn't help at all. Haruko was doing her best to keep her friend calm, never too far from her friend’s side. However, not being able to do anything to help her friend was wearing down on her nerves. Not that she would let anyone else know about this.

              She’d been used to being the singular pillar of strength for a long time. Before she had gone to college, she had been forced to grow up in a house where her mother didn't care about their well-being and only cared about getting back at their wonderful father. That sort of behavior never sat well with her even at a young age. It then fell to her to take care of two brothers, continually making sure they were okay while taking most of the abuse away from them. However, she was at the end of her rope by the time she graduated high school and had to leave for her own protection. But that was not without a cost. Now she no longer spoke to her brothers, and had completely restarted her life from age eighteen. It still hurt that she could not bring her brothers with her, to take them away from that.

              “……eighteen years of that…” Haruko muttered, sitting on a crate that no one was using. It was a perfect spot to watch the soldiers in the distance training. But what was the point of thinking about that now? There didn't seem to be a way to return to the way things were before they arrived here.

              “I’m sure you haven’t been here quite that long,” someone said. Haruko looked over to her right to see an elf with a small, amused smile on his face. He was bald, his ears rather pointed for the elves that Haruko was used to seeing. Well, the fictional TV shows and comics. Normally a cheery nature would have been welcome, but Haruko was working with already frayed nerves.

              “No, I have been a mere five days with my friend…” Haruko muttered looking back to the door and then out at the horizon. She’d hope that he would leave her to watch the soldiers from her high perch.

              “All of us must learn to stand on our own two feet at one point or another,” the elf said. Haruko gave a heavy glare, sharper than what she knew it to be. What right did he have to say that to her?

              He does not know… she had to remind herself with a small sigh to try and abate her anger.

              “Yeah, and some people need others to help them stand up every once in a while,” she snapped. However there was a realization that she had not yet calmed her own frustration and she gave another sigh.

              “…I’m sorry…I know you meant well but that isn’t something that Maeve is able to do on her own. Some people are created differently and must learn to coup with it on their own or with some help. Not that you people would understand,” Haruko tried to explain before her energy fell out and she trailed off at the end.

              “You also do not know much of this world, would you be so quick to judge it as I did you friend?” he said. It was as if he could read her intentions and that was the thing that irritated her the most.

              “Solas, if you don't have something that will help Maeve with her panic attacks, then don't talk to me,” Haruko finally said, fed up with the elf. She said nothing more, ignored the elf even and focused in on soldiers that were training there. She watched their rounds they made, the swordplay they practiced with one another. She figured out who was completely new to a sword, judging on their fumbles, who seemed to succeed with it and who were struggling.  It was interesting to merely sit and observe. She didn't know how long she sat observing, but eventually her concentration was broken by a small tap on her leg.

              “Hm? Oh Maeve! Are you sure you should be walking about now?” Haruko asked, hopping down from her perch.

              “Yeah…whatever they gave me works enough to keep the anxiety from getting too strong…but it still feels like it’s there…” Maeve explained. “I wanted to get out a little…”

              “Yeah okay, you want to walk around a bit?”

              Maeve nodded slightly. She looked exhausted and half of Haruko wanted to send her back to bed. However, Maeve knew her anxiety best. So Haruko gave a reassuring nod and started to walk about Haven just a little bit. She tried to teach Maeve everything there was to know about Haven, the things that she herself learned in the five days that they were there. The different places like the tavern, the soldiers’ quarters, the Chantry, some of the people that walked by and a few other things. It seemed to take Maeve’s mind off of the fact that they were not back at their university, but at the same time it started to overwhelm her slowly. Haruko could see the struggle to understand and comprehend the words that she was speaking.

              “Ah, it’s good to see you are out of the healer’s cabin,” a familiar voice said. Haruko looked to see who it was and saw that it was Hal. He was walking towards them.

              “She wanted to go for a walk,” Haruko said with a friendly wave. “But I think all of the new things are starting to overwhelm her.”

              “Take everything in strides,” Hal said gently. “We don’t want you to rush anything.”

              “We kinda have to get back though,” Haruko said with a little bit of worry. “If not for Maeve’s medicine but for our families…I’m sure they are frantically searching for us.”

              Hal looked pained, as though he really wanted to tell them something but now was not the time. Haruko took note of that look but refrained from saying anything at the moment. It didn’t help that her stomach was sinking and there was the feeling of helplessness that was creeping in.

              “When can we go home?” Maeve asked, looking slightly panicked. Guess it didn't matter if they tried to avoid the subject now. Maeve could figure it out far faster than if they tried to lie about it. It would also make her mad if she caught the lies.

              “I’m not sure yet,” Hal replied. “We are sent out letters to other Mages that may know of your situation. It will take some time for a response.”

              Haruko nodded. If they didn't have the same technology as Haruko and Maeve knew, then this was going to take a lot longer than what they would have wanted. They had letters and missives with people who would march out. There was no email, there was no internet, there were no phones. Even Haruko had gone so far as to turn her phone off, fearing that there would never be a chance to charge it up once again, to see her family’s faces on that screen. That was the part that pained her the most out of all of this and she could feel her own sense of loss starting to creep in suddenly.

              “Perhaps you both could help by helping us. Surely on our travels we will hear of something pertaining to your plight,” Hal suggested. He watched Haruko’s hesitant gaze and yet she gave a nod in response.

              “That sounds like a good idea,” Haruko said then turned to Maeve. “Maybe some sort of routine will keep your panic at bay?”

              “The healer mentioned something about that…I’m willing to try anything,” Maeve said softly. It was hard to not tell her to sit down and rest when that’s all she had been doing for the past five days.

              “What can you two do?” Hal asked. There was a silence that filled between the three, regardless of the people working around them.

              “Well…” Haruko started with a small bit of hesitation in her voice. “…I have trained to defend myself without a weapon…but I have never had to it.”

              “Maybe that training could help you learn to wield a sword? If you are willing?” Hal suggested. Haruko looked hesitant. She knew that if she accepted this offer that would mean she would be training not only to defend herself but also to kill another person, which she did not want to do. However, given the circumstances of their situation, she could hope that she would never have to use it much like her karate. Maybe she wouldn't have to go out into the field and kill someone. She could only hope and pray that she wouldn't.

              “…O-okay….” Haruko said with a small stutter. “Sitting around isn’t going to get anything solved…”

              “What about you Maeve?” Hal asked directly. Maeve seemed to freeze up again, but with thoughts this time.

              “…I’m no good at fighting,” Maeve said then slightly gestured to her own build. “However, I’ll be willing to learn how to defend myself…but at long range.”

              “A bow perhaps?” Hal offered. Haruko felt pained, given her nature to protect and take on too much responsibility.

              “That would be perfect,” Maeve replied. Her feigned confidence was enough to convince Hal.

              “Good, then let me take you to meet our Commander, Cullen Rutherford. He sees to the training of every soldier that we have here at Haven. He could come up with a regiment for you both as new recruits. Haruko, you’ll most likely fight with the normal foot soldiers. Maeve, you’ll train with the archers for now, but if you ever feel…unwell, you will be able to stop and find Haruko at any time or go to the healer at anytime, until we find an elixir that will keep the panic at bay.”

              “Thank you,” Maeve said softly, but she really meant it. They walked out of the main gates to the outskirts of Haven, a place they were familiar with. They walked past these soldiers five days ago when they first arrived. The stables were right next door to the training grounds. Haruko took pleasure in coming down here when Maeve was asleep to talk with some of the horses, or just to pet them. The animals helped to calm her nerves and to keep her somewhat grounded.

              “Ah Herald,” a blonde man in red attire addressed Hal. Haruko was surprised to see such a young looking face. If this was the commander, he was certainly a young one or at least looked it.

              “Hello Commander, these will be two new recruits,” the Herald explained. Maeve shrank back a bit behind Haruko and Haruko remained standing talk, protecting Maeve. The commander seemed to take notice and gave a small smile to attempt to make himself less intimidating. Not that he was to begin with, not to Haruko, but at least Maeve might feel better.

              “Haruko will train with the sword and shield and Maeve with the bow. However, Maeve’s still not well, so if she needs a break please allow her to leave for a time,” Hal explained with the air of authority.

              This guy must be the one in charge of everything. Haruko thought to herself.

              “As you say, Herald,” Cullen said. Judging by his initial reaction, he was exactly happy to hear that one of his newer recruits needed special accommodations. Haruko would fight regardless, knowing that they would be able to find some sort of a cure for Maeve, even knowing she wouldn't physically win a sword fight. Her eyes wandered over the training grounds, already knowing she was a novice at best within the ranks of these men.

              “Well, Haruko, what can you do with a sword and shield?” Cullen asked. Her head snapped back to the conversation at hand.

              “Absolutely nothing,” Haruko answered honestly. “However, I can fight without one.”

              “Really? Care to demonstrate?” Cullen asked. Haruko glanced over at Maeve before looking back at Cullen. This was going to be an awkward situation if it wasn't already one.

              “I’ll need a volunteer,” she said cautiously.

              “You there, come here,” Cullen commanded one of the soldiers that was in the middle of his practice.

              “Sir!” The soldier came up to Cullen.

              “Spar with her,” Cullen said.

              “But sir, she is unarmed.”

              “It’s okay, just do what you normally do,” Haruko said, her heart racing in her chest despite the calm demeanor. She gave Maeve a small motion for her friend to stand next to Hal as this sparring match happened.

              The two walked away, giving them space to work out. Haruko got in her fighting stance and waited for the soldier to attack. Her fists were raised and ready for an attack. Haruko had to dig deep within her mind to remember how to deal with someone that had a knife. The only difference here is the knife was ten times longer than normal. She took a deep breath, attempted to calm herself, and readied for the charge.

              The soldier charged and did the typical downward slash. Haruko stepped in, blocking with her left arm. She didn’t so much as block but actually she struck at the inside of the soldier’s arm. It was in one fluid motion that her block turned into a grab around the wrist that held the sword. The soldier stumbled in surprise when his arm was yanked forward and Haruko’s body came in super close. She then swiftly gave a light back fist, just to signal that the soldier had lost this battle but not enough to leave a mark of any kind. Perhaps a mark on his ego. Even then she shifted her hips so that she could get a decent grip on his shoulder, allowing the straps for his armour to help give a place of purchase, and easily threw her own wait against his unbalanced and surprised weight. A well-placed leg behind his forward placed one was enough to throw his unbalanced stance completely and the soldier found himself in the ground, dazed with confusion rather than with injury. Haruko still had a hold of his sword hand and quickly disarmed him before stepping away. But it was not a turn and walk away. No she knew better and backed up slowly. This was her fighting style.

              “Is that it?” Cullen asked, a little less impressed than the others. Haruko almost looked pleadingly to not have to do more. The soldier was already standing up by the time she returned her gaze to her sparring opponent. He knew her trick, just the one, and was more than prepared to come at her a second time. Haruko jumped back as there was a side swing, but could hear her sensei screaming in the back of her mind.

              Don't you dare step back! He would shout at her. She gave a mental sigh about this and waited for a downward swing from his opponent. And threw a block upward. She could feel her hand throbbing with pain as the force of the two strikes reverberated through her arm. Without a second thought she turned it into a grab and stepped behind him. Her hand was placed right behind the elbow joint and she pushed hard. The soldier cried out in pain and tried to pull away. Haruko did her best to hold on but the strength she had wasn't enough. She jumped back from a horizontal slash and another wild strike. There was distance put between them once more. The soldier was learning and learning fast. It was his duty and she was trying to impress. With how out of shape Haruko was, her breaths were coming out in heavy pants already while the soldier in front of her remained calm and steady.

              Shit she thought to herself in frustration. The soldier was the one to engage once more and Haruko was going to make this her last stand. She stepped into his slash before he could complete it and struck hard and quick. She struck with an elbow, as though it were an uppercut and struck with all her might. It found its mark, and gave Haruko the chance to take his sword arm once more and twist it around so that she was behind him instead. His sword dropped from his hand and he cried out in pain as she held him there. No matter where he moved, she was right behind him, as though snuggling but with a killer hold of his arm that could easily be dislocated if she added enough pressure.

              “Alright, that’s enough,” Cullen said as a command. Haruko took a few seconds to realize this ordeal was over and she slowly let go of the soldier’s arm. He stumbled away, cradling his arm to him once he got away. His glare was a fierce one and Haruko did not let him out of her sight.

              “Impressive,” Hal was the first to speak. Haruko, out of habit gave a half bow to the soldier and a muttered apology. The soldier still glared and walked away from them to nurse his wounds. If wounds of pride counted.

              “Yes, but it only works in this situation. You’ve never really had to use that sort of thing out in a real dangerous situation,” Cullen said. There was a look of surprise from Haruko yet in her mind she knew it wasn't that surprising. The man had experience in battle, and if this place was anything like the medieval ages, there would have been combat and he would have seen it.

              “But at least you seem to understand the idea of single combat,” he then complimented her. “You didn't show your back to your opponent once, and made sure to keep his sword hand pinned.”

              Haruko was happy to hear that she’d receive some sort of complement. Maeve had already come over to her side once more.

              “I didn't know you could do that,” she said with surprise. Haruko gave a halfhearted shrug.

              “I didn't think I could either…” Haruko seemed herself surprised. But that rush she felt, she didn't necessarily dislike it but she did not like the feeling that she was in mortal peril from the sword. Part of her was desperate to learn how to wield one so she might be able to defend herself properly.

              “We’ll start with the basics, today you will train from dawn until I say, is that clear?” Cullen asked. Haruko looked over to Cullen, who didn't seem to mind interrupting the two and she gave a mocked salute.

              “Uh, yes sir!” she said with half enthusiasm half she wasn't sure what was going on. Both Hal and Cullen looked a little confused and Haruko was the one to drop her hand from her forehead and slacken her posture.

              “Uh…it’s the salute from our country we come from,” she tried to explain. “I’m not familiar with your customs yet…”

              “Which is to be expected,” Maeve tried to speak up bravely. “We’ve only been here five days and it’s surprising that we are being recruited to learn to fight.”

              “I was wondering if perhaps we were moving too fast,” Hal said with a thoughtful look upon his face.

              “If it will be payment for the attempting to find a way back to our world and for the food and provisions you’ve already provided, I won’t complain,” Haruko then said.

              “Are you sure?” Cullen was the one to interrupt. “This isn’t a game. You are going to be trained to fight for the Inquisition. Your lives would be at stake.”

              “I don't know about Maeve,” Haruko said with a small glance to her friend. “But I have had five long days to think about our situation. If there is a way to give back in return for a chance to go home, I’d be willing to sacrifice for that.”

              The determination that Haruko had was surprising. Even Maeve was surprised. However it was only Maeve who knew that once Haruko had made up her mind, she was going to follow through with it no matter what. Hal and Cullen were the ones to exchange glances and a silent conversation. Cullen looked back over at Haruko, as though perhaps sizing her up and her determination.

              “Know that you will be treated the same as the others,” Cullen explained simply. Haruko nodded in response. She then turned to her friend, who had already said she did not have any experience what so ever.

              “Maeve I’ll be here, don't worry okay?” she encouraged. “Try to do your best with the bow too.”

              “…I’ll try,” Maeve said looking nervous. Haruko gave a small smile in return. Cullen directed her to the smith to get outfitted with the correct armour and weapon that would fit her as best as they could offer.

              “Here you go, Maeve,” Cullen said, handing her a bow. “Over there is where the archers are training. Celia will teach you what she know, don’t over do it.”

              Maeve nodded and nervously walked down to the woman that was teaching the other archers. It was the start of a new journey that they would not soon forget.

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Chapter 3: A Step Into Darkness

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Chapter 4: The Monster that Hides Within

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Chapter 5: Unwavering Loyalty

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Chapter 6: Broken and Mended

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Chapter 7: Small in Size. Big Surprise

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Chapter 8: New Friends. New Missions

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Chapter 9: Everyone Needs A Break

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Chapter 10: In War, Victory

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Chapter 11: The Future That Never Was

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Chapter 12: Sealed Lips and New Opportunities

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Chapter 13: Growing in Friendships

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Chapter 14: Destruction And Seperation

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Chapter 15: The Dawn Will Come

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Chapter 16: The Long Journey

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Chapter 17: Jokes Become Reality

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Chapter 18: The Way Forward is Backward

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Chapter 19: The Flower of Love Starts to Bloom

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Chapter 20: The Center of Sorrow is Miscommunication

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Chapter 21: It’s About Damn Time

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Chapter 22: Just Keep Swimming

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Chapter 23: Carving a Path For Healing

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Chapter 24: One Small Step for Love, One Giant Leap for Happiness

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Chapter 25: Quest For the Source of Red Lyrium; A Test in Faith

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Chapter 26: Love Through Adversity

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Chapter 27: One Word: Miracles

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Chapter 28: Shopping Shopping Shopping

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Chapter 29: The Dark Call to Freedom

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Chapter 30: In the Name of the King

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Chapter 31: My Word is My Bond

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Chapter 32: A Sheep in Wolves Clothing

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~

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