UNBOUNDHere on Unbound, our plot follows four different timelines, set throughout the canonical history of the Dragon Age. The events following Trespasser, the time of the Inquisition, the rise of the Champion of Kirkwall and the quest of the Warden against the Fifth Blight.
And So is the Golden City blackened
With each step you take in my Hall.
Marvel at perfection, for it is fleeting.
You have brought Sin to Heaven
And doom upon all the world.
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Jorren snickered. ‘Sorry. Saying your name wasn’t working, and I didn’t fancy kicking you. You really do get into those books, don’t you?’
Cassie sagged back into her seat with a grunt, resting the open book on her stomach as she rubbed at her eyes. The moon was visible through her window, and since it hadn’t even rose when she started reading, it must mean she’d lost several hours – and gained a couple hundred pages, by the thickness of the left side of the book. ‘I like the escapism. Anyway, did you need me?’
He stood a little straighter. ‘Yeah, actually. Perrin says there’s someone at the door demanding to see you, specifically. Never said who it was.’
Cassie’s head jerked to look at him, hair whipping her face as she spun to sit in the chair properly. There was no one she could think of that would just be dropping in for a visit; the only people who knew she was even a Warden were those in the Circle, and there was no reason for any of them to be asking for her, never mind at this time of night. A chill ran down the back of her neck and along her spine. They couldn’t have found her here, could they? It’d been years, any trail she might have left had to have gone cold by now. ‘They asked for me by name?’ She said sharply, and Jorren nodded, face sobering at her tone. ‘Well, do you know anything about them? Where they’re from?’ Tevinter was a distinctive enough accent, surely.
‘No, nothing. As I said, it was Perrin who saw them.’ Jorren hesitated, watching as her eyes skimmed across the floor in thought. ‘Should I go out and check?’
Cassie shook her head slowly, the motion becoming a little stronger as she spoke. ‘No. No, I’ll go.’ She had enough presence of mind to slip a bookmark into the novel before setting it aside on her table, standing and reaching for her staff. She wasn’t in armour – it was being fixed after her latest outing to the Deep Roads. Civilian clothing would have to do. At least she wasn’t in her nightdress yet.
Jorren followed her to the door, face anxious. ‘Should I inform the Warden Commander then?’
Cassie paused, thinking. This could be nothing. She could be paranoid – Maker, she was paranoid, but if it was the Cernuus bounty hunters then they must be either confirming she was in fact here, or have large numbers at their back to risk angering the Wardens in their own stronghold. The latter was unlikely, very unlikely, though a fast assassin might be able to kill her and escape. She didn’t even know what the terms of her punishment were – whether it was kill on sight, capture only, what her bounty was, anything.
‘Paranoid,’ her thoughts whispered, and she shook herself. Focus. ‘Not yet. If a fight breaks out, tell him that it’s Tevinters attacking. He’ll know why. Don’t alert him yet though, it might be nothing.’ They both made their way through the Keep, Cassie building up her Magister’s Daughter persona. Her back straightened, each tap of the staff cracked against the stone floor, her face impassive. Even with her simple clothes and loose hair, her brothers and sisters in arms started when they saw her, one or two even scuttled out of her way. Beneath the mask, some old, tiny bit of satisfaction curled up out of her stomach and around her heart. Cassiopeia hadn’t been awake for a long time, but Cassie couldn’t afford to smother her now. Not if the Imperium was on her doorstep.
As they reached the foyer, Cassie motioned for Jorren to wait. ‘Stay here, watch. If a fight starts, inform the Warden Commander immediately. I’ll tell you if it’s clear.’ Without waiting for a reply, Cassie crossed the foyer, calling Perrin over when she spotted him by the door, back at his post. ‘Well, where is this guest of mine?’
He gave her a nervous look before nodding at one of the smaller reception rooms. ‘I showed her in there rather than leave her waiting outside.’
Cassie tried not to show her impatience. This woman, whoever she was, had had time to set up traps then, assuming she was alone, which was likely. ‘Very well,’ she said, turning towards the door. She shot Jorren a pointed glance as she moved to the parlour, making sure he was still watching. He was, giving her a solemn nod.
With a slow, deep breath, Cassie pushed the door open, taking a step into the room before freezing, mouth open. ‘What are you doing here?!’
She had never met a woman named Penelope yet, but she was still young. There was time for the Penelope’s of the world to mob her yet.
The practise of paperwork always seemed so counter productive to her, pointless really. A waste of her precious time. Hurried reports written in bad lighting, parchment damp from the rain, sweat or alcohol and blood, or a mix of all of the above. Occasionally tears. Of laughter. She was too busy to even sign her name properly, simply scrawling a large and obnoxious ‘N,’ across the bottom because she had overheard one of the administrators complaining about another Seeker not signing on the line.
Exposing your weaknesses to Neassa, whether knowingly or not, would always get them prodded by her.
So she signed on the line, through the line, above the line, across other lines.
Her non-existent respect for the rules of administration (and generally the rules of all things), was important because one of her reports had been pulled up, and she along with it. Blustering and incomprehensibly incensed, Neassa had stomped her way to Val Royeaux to answer to dimwits who couldn’t read her indelicate cursive handwriting. Words so curly and strewn together to hide the fact that they weren’t even words and she was filling out reports in scribbles. Small words like ‘Ogre,’ and ‘Darkspawn,’ had leapt off the page at them. An explanation as to what had happened to her armour and her ribs, something to help them understand why she had gone AWOL for a month then returned demanding immediate repairs.
A month wasn’t long enough for the bones to heal properly, but she could do the twist without screaming like she was giving birth, so what was the difference?
Seeker armour was expensive to make and remake and remake…they called her accident prone, irresponsible, and brash. They had questioned her ability to actually avoid conflict and rightly so, Neassa didn’t avoid conflict ever. If there wasn’t any conflict around for her to wrestle with, she would make some. Had she been fighting an abomination or a rage demon they may have forgiven her, too busy worshipping her to chastise her carelessness. But she had been fighting an Ogre…and she was not a Grey Warden, it was so far removed from her jurisdiction they couldn’t even fathom how she had come to engage with Darkspawn in the first place.
And she didn’t tell them. It didn’t stop people fleeing in the opposite direction whenever she sneezed or coughed, thinking she was tainted when really, she just had allergies and Val Royeaux did love their flowers.
They Grey Wardens though? Everything was grey. She had been left to stand out in the rain for five milliseconds too long, the inquisitive door man taking his time with the locks to let her inside. He had showed her to a cosy little room, which was not cosy at all considering all the stone. There were books crammed into bookcases, surprisingly, and a small fire crackling in the hearth. She had not been offered any refreshments…her review of this Warden Keep would not be outstanding. Even as she had requested to see Cassie, she had felt the words burning her throat on the way out. The door man had muttered something about her having to wait, Cassie was busy…as though Neassa cared for whatever plans the mage had. They would have to wait, more important matters were at hand.
She had been tapping her foot, first at a steady and slow pace, entirely normal, but then as the minutes ticked on far more furiously until finally the door was pushed open. Neassa turned from inspecting the bookcase with a narrowed glare and found Cassie standing in the door way a question upon her lips.
“I was reading the bookcase-“ oh, she meant in general, not what are you doing here in the immediate moment. How to phrase it? “It’s not that I need your help,” she leaned against the mantel of the fireplace, eyes looking to the ceiling as is standard for lying. “I just thought since you like helping I might ask and this is where you live.” The last part was said in an obvious way, as though Cassie should know this.
“You should go out and come back in with less attitude, I don’t like how you said ‘you’.”
Speaking of which, she remembered Jorren standing watch and turned to wave at him that everything was fine. She mimed drawing an oval over her chest and mouthed ‘Seeker’, hoping he’d realise she meant one specific Seeker and not the group in general. He nodded, face brightening, and waved as he went back to his duties. He wasn’t walking as stiffly anymore, his ribs healing nicely. Wouldn’t be long before he was back on active duty.
That done, Cassie turned back to Neassa as she made her demand. Cassie snorted and moved further into the room. ‘I’ll do nothing of the sort. Next time, announce yourself, would you? I thought I had the Imperium banging on the door,’ she said, setting her staff aside before helping herself to the bottle of whiskey hidden in the sideboard. She needed it after that. She glanced over her shoulder at Neassa, lifting one of the short glasses in question. ‘Whiskey? Or anything else you fancy? I can have someone bring something up for you, if you’ve not eaten,’ she said. Even though she didn’t care much for Neassa, she hadn’t quite managed to shake the manners or good host skills her mother had drilled into her. Admittedly, those were more suited to hosting parties and the like, but it still applied.
Drink in hand, she headed across the room, sinking into one of the armchairs and sprawling out comfortably, gesturing at the other chair for Neassa. ‘So, how can I help you, since I apparently enjoy it so much?’ She asked, raising the tumbler to her lips again, relishing the heat flooding down her throat. She hadn’t really developed a taste for the drink until she joined the Wardens. She’d been too young to enjoy it in the Imperium, had favoured wine in Antiva, and hadn’t had access to alcohol in the Circle bar the few bottles someone could smuggle in.
It was only when she glanced down at floor level that she saw the basket. She was pretty sure it didn’t belong in here. ‘I’m assuming that’s yours?’ She asked, eyes flickering up at the Seeker.
Then the basket moved.
‘Uh, Neassa?’ Cassie asked, staring. ‘What’s in there, and why is it in my Keep?’
[OOC: Bit short, but I’m leaving the cat reveal to you. Lemme know if you want me to change anything re: the basket etc.]
Nah. It’s not like it was affecting her or her behaviour anyway…
“That’s right and don’t you forget it, never means never ever.” Except on the odd occasion in which Neassa expected it without condition, of course. Her eyes narrowed as Cassie seemed to gossip away with someone behind the door, it didn’t do much for The Seekers budding paranoia except set it on fire. She took a few steps forwards, leading with the head as she tried to see who was behind there. Better not be one of the hundreds of enemies she had made. She caught the odd oval gesture and looked down at herself, her Eye of Truth staring up at her with judgement. If it could talk it would call her a moron.
“AHEM!” It was necessary to announce herself because clearly Cassie thought she was a ghost or some figment of the imagination. She would have to remember to mention this in her review of The Keep. Left out in the rain, ushered into a room like an embarrassing drunk relative, terrible hosting, people kept whispering about me…
Neassa had adopted a typical defensive stance by the time Cassie returned her attention to her, arms crossed to compliment the sullen look on her face, very much like a moody teenager, a phase some might argue she never quite left behind. “It was raining, I didn’t have time to answer silly questions like who are you,” next time she would do her best Tevinter accent and demand to see Cassiopeia, perhaps she would be met with less delay. “I shouldn’t have to anyway, not with this-“ her arms fell to her sides so that one hand might gesture to the eye upon her armour just as Cassie had indicated to her imaginary friend behind the door. Because all of Cassie’s ‘friends,’ had to be imaginary.
At the offer of whiskey she merely shrugged, she was hardly a connoisseur of the stuff but Neassa was not particularly picky about the alcohol she consumed. Her speciality was whatever there was left in the cupboards and tonight, it seemed that was whiskey. “Just whiskey, I tried Grey Warden cooking once and it was barely palatable.”
Neassa didn’t move towards the chair opposite Cassie, for that end of the room would soon be a murder scene. A grin crept onto The Seekers face as the Warden acknowledged the basket at her feet, shaken by fear as it moved ever so slightly. “Oh come on Cassie, don’t be so terrified. It’s not like it’s a baby and you’re the father, is it?” That wouldn’t work on a number of levels.
She reached down to pick the wicker basket up, it certainly looked like a baby basket, maybe because she had helped herself to it after a mother had foolishly left it unattended. The occupant began to thrash around more violently as she lifted it, like it could sense Neassa was the one responsible for disturbing it. Her arms and hands were a mess from handling the thing, it hated her. But at least it was vicious, hopefully vicious enough to treat Cassie to the same treatment. Fearful of having to actually pick it up, Neassa just tilted the basket and half threw it at Cassie, enough to dislodge the cat inside, sending it flying towards the seated Grey Warden.
The urge to say ‘it’s a cat-ch,’ was overwhelming to the point of- “It’s a CAT-CH!” Then instant regret, the sort she would have to drown with that whiskey. “Get it?”
Cassie poured two glasses out, chuckling. ‘Believe it or not, but our cooking is far better with an actual kitchen and more supplies than just rabbits,’ she said, turning and handing Neassa her tumbler before taking her seat. When she spotted the basket, she set her tumbler down on the nearby table, tilting her head forward slightly without losing her relaxed sprawl. She gave the Seeker an odd look at her analogy, and her misjudgement. She honestly didn’t know how Neassa had concluded she was scared. ‘Did you get smacked in the head again?’
She had enough presence of mind to sit up properly when Neassa picked the basket up, particularly when she caught sight of the Seeker’s grin. That never boded well. Despite her assessment of Cassie’s own feelings, she was the one who looked worried when handling the shaking basket.
The she slung it forward, and something flew at her.
Cassie rocked backwards in her seat with a yell, arms up in something between defence and catching whatever it was. It sailed past her arms and onto her chest, latching on with claws and hissing. Cassie caught a long enough glimpse to identify it as a pale coloured cat, eyes blown wide, teeth gleaming as it growled, then the claws dug in painfully and the damn thing leapt away, darting under the desk in the corner.
Cassie slowly sat forward, rubbing the red welts on her chest, staring at the cat’s hiding place. She’d completely missed Neassa’s pun in the chaos of a flying, hissing cat and the distraction of its needle-like claws in her skin. She turned to gape at the Seeker. ‘Who in their right mind would give you a cat?!’ She demanded, pushing herself to her feet and crossing to the desk, muttering under her breath. ‘Poor thing’s probably traumatised.’ She got down on her hands and knees, peering under the desk, her unbound hair pooling on the floor. The cat was huddled up against the wall, eyes still mostly black until it turned to look at her and they caught the light, gleaming oddly, fur fluffed, tail three times its normal size.
Cassie shook her head, sighing, before tutting softly at the cat, trying to coax it out of its hiding place. ‘Come on, it’s alright. You’re okay, easy.’ The animal was still making a low growl in its throat, unconvinced. Cassie turned to glare at Neassa with the most disapproving look she could muster. ‘What did you do to the poor thing?’ She went back to the cat, keeping her voice low and soothing, trying to make it feel safe. It just growled at her.
Shaking her head, Cassie straightened to a kneel, hands on hips, before pushing to her feet, stalking to the door. ‘You might not want any food, but he – she? – is getting some,’ she said, opening the door enough to stick her head out and ask the nearest Warden to have a bowl of water and a bowl of mince brought up.
Then she closed it behind and turned to face Neassa, arms folded, face stern. ‘Now tell me why in Andraste’s name you and your traumatised cat are here. If this is all an elaborate prank, I swear I will throw you out on your ass, rain or not, and keep the cat here where it won’t be tossed around by a lunatic.’
She gave a twitch in response to the magic lingering in the air and as Cassie acknowledged it, she glared at her. “That’s what that is!” Another twitch, adrenaline was primed to shoot through her body in the event of an attack, reacting in the same way it did when sensing magic in any other instance. But this time there was no attack and the feeling was just an irritation to her, like an itch beneath the skin and in the bone, something she could not possibly hope to scratch. “Stop that!” Her protests were not required as Cassie seemed to shake the spell off, magic dispersing but not fast enough for The Seekers comfort.
The nerves that had been set on fire by magic not expelled were soon set back to rest as a glass was placed within her waiting hand. Neassa very much doubted that a kitchen made all the difference, the Wardens were after all a military unit and everyone knew that military food was deplorable. “I’m quite full on those lies you just fed me.” Absently she wondered how terrible a Warden had to be to get delegated to cooking, or if they had servants of sorts. She wasn’t clear on the inner workings, never had a need to be as she hadn’t exactly dealt with any for much longer than to exchange expletives. As was the basis of most of her social encounters with soldiers of other factions, Templars were at the forefront of her disdain.
Actually, for Cassie’s information, Neassa had gone a whole week without incurring a head injury. It was quite something, a new record. One for the books. She had never been attuned to the emotions of others, finding difficulty in reading facial cues. Cassie could have been terrified or confused or hungry, they all looked somewhat similar to her. It was just a matter of spotting the nuances and Neassa did not have time for that nonsense.
As her newest addition to her load out flew through the air like an archers bolt, Neassa thought she saw victory so very briefly. It was hissing and clawing and latching onto Cassie just as she had planned, now all it had to do was follow through and maul her to death. Admittedly, it might take some time, but Neassa was willing to wait.
Alas, she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once more. Cassie-Killer proved useless, not at all living up to her name and thoroughly disappointing The Seeker as it leapt from its killing perch and scurried beneath a table, growling all the way. While it had not quite managed to tear Cassie’s heart from her chest, it had made a start. Neassa sucked in a breath of air through her teeth at the sight of the painful looking tears it had left behind, false concern before laughing sneeringly. Those were going to sting for what felt like eternity. Neassa had so many similar scratches it wasn’t even funny.
She gave Cassie a look of apathy. “The Divine in her Divine judgement gave me a demon.” It was not a cat, Cassie had it all wrong.
“Something about me learning how to take care of things, as if a religious order doesn’t have enough money to bank roll a new set of armour whenever I need it.” They were the wealthiest after nobles, siphoning money from their worshippers to buy a snazzy new set of drapes. She took a drink of her whiskey as Cassie moved to comfort the cat, doing little to hide the scoff as she called it a ‘poor thing.’ “No, no, she’s fine.” Pointing at it accusingly, Neassa continued, “I’m traumatised. Me, me. Not her.” She caught a glimpse of her hand while taking another sip of her whisky, the expanse covered in a painful criss-cross of scratches and it all came back to her in a flood, the suffering she had gone through.
“What are you doing, what…get up.” Neassa joined the fray, moving towards the desk. Cassie paused only to look at her with daggers in her eyes and question her treatment of the creature. Neassa waved it off, she had no idea what she had had to deal with. “Stop being nice to her.” She thumped a fist upon the table top, “Come on, get out you little shit!” Kicked one of the four legs, “OUT! You need to finish her!”
As Cassie moved as if to flee, Neassa followed her ready to slam the door shut and keep her in the room. She couldn’t deal with this cat on her own any more, Cassie had to take her. At least for a while. Her hurried step slowed to a halt as the Warden made her intentions known, she wanted to give the demon sustenance. “It’s a she-devil hellcat.” She was certain it had been feeding off of the pain and anguish it inflicted upon the poor Seeker on a daily basis, that and vermin.
“Ugh, lunatic?” A hand flew to her chest in insult. “No-no-no, sheeee is,” her accusations were bolstered by a shaking indicatory point at the cat still hidden beneath the desk. When she looked back at Cassie, she was still giving her that severe stare. Neassa took a deep breath, that cat just got to her. “You need to take Cassie-Killer before I kill her.”
No elaborate pranks here just cat-sitting requests.
Cassie snorted as she handed Neassa’s drink over. ‘If you knew anything about the Wardens, you’d know we enjoy our food far too much to eat anything substandard for long. In case you didn’t notice the way we devoured those rabbits like we were starving, Wardens have massive appetites. That doesn’t mean we tolerate shit food. If we’ve got to eat so much to keep us going, we can’t afford to put ourselves off our meal by gorging on terrible food. We’re quite the connoisseurs when we have the opportunity.’ Cassie was pretty certain that if ‘Grey Warden’ was something you could just peacefully retire from, many of them would go into cooking. Their best chefs really were superb, and since there was a rota for domestic chores around the Keep, everyone learned how to cook pretty quickly.
Then Neassa threw her cat at her, and all hell broke loose for a few seconds until the cat darted under the desk. Cassie dabbed at the scratches, only now starting to bleed, giving Neassa a flat look as she stood. ‘If she was dealing in demons, are you sure that wasn’t the Black Divine, Seeker?’ She grumbled, sighing at the spots of blood on her shirt before marching over to the desk. At least it was only cotton, it should wash out. ‘I’m going to write to the Divine to tell her what a stupid idea that was. Giving you a cat,’ she growled, getting down to peer at the cat. The poor thing just hissed at her. ‘You’re not the one cowering under a desk, Neassa. Shut up, will you?’ She went back to trying to calm the cat, ignoring the other woman until she appeared next to her and started pounding on the desk.
Cassie lunged up onto her knees, furious. ‘What are you doing, you lyrium-addled lunatic?!’ She shouted, magic flaring up again. This time Cassie didn’t stem it, she shoved it outwards, knocking Neassa back away from the desk. Not enough to slam her into the far wall, though she was sorely tempted. Just to create some distance between her and the cat. She rose to her feet, scowling, quite ready to toss Neassa around like a ragdoll if necessary. ‘You are unbelievable,’ she snarled, shaking her head and striding towards the door. If Neassa wouldn’t look after the cat, she would.
Oh, there was a ‘she-devil’ in here alright, but it wasn’t the bloody cat. ‘Maybe she wouldn’t act so insane if she actually felt safe around you, instead of like she was going to get shouted at and thrown around?’ She snapped, before asking for the food. The look on her face sent the other Warden scurrying, and she caught a glimpse of several wide eyes staring at the door. Evidently she’d been shouting loud enough to be heard, and they might have heard Neassa banging the furniture as well.
She couldn’t bring herself to care right then. She slammed the door behind her and turned to glare at the Seeker. ‘Yes, lunatic! You’re fucking insane, and that cat is suffering for it.’ Then Neassa finally gave the cat’s name and the reason she was here. Cassie’s jaw dropped. She can’t have heard that properly. Oh, the staying here part was fine, though the Warden Commander probably wouldn’t be too happy, but Cassie-Killer?
The human Cassie dipped her head, pinching the bridge of her nose, eyes closed, shaking her head. ‘You named your cat Cassie-Killer? And you want me to look after her why? Besides threatening to kill her,’ she growled, glaring up at the Seeker. This was a prank. This had to be a prank.
“You think that when they come for you, because they will come for you, eventually, that they’re going to just knock on the door and ask to be let inside?” They had almost kicked down the door at The Circle, if not for Neassa’s handy work with a broom, they may have gotten past the threshold. The Seeker shook her head, giving Cassie a look of pity. “That’s not how bounty hunters work, Cassie.” That was how bad bounty hunters worked.They had managed to find her once, unknowingly and they could manage to do it again. Cassie hadn’t gotten very far from the Imperium, still mulling about Nevarra perhaps in the hopes that hiding right under the nose of her hunters would pay off. It usually was the last place they checked, the Warden had been evading them since before Neassa had even met her so surely they must be getting around to searching that ‘last place,’ some time soon.
Neassa snorted, if she had been the Black Divine then Neassa could rightly slap her with a fish. Unfortunately the White Divine was so revered she probably couldn’t get away with that sort of thing. She had never even seen the woman, let alone speak to her. Her orders filtered through the ranks on pieces of paper, conducted in secrecy so much so that Neassa had started to question whether she even existed. Others had seen her though, at least, that was what they professed. Neassa was just not important enough to be invited to the White Spire for a personal audience with her holiness. “I’m sure she’ll be interested to hear from a Tevinter mage,” her eyes widened, staring at Cassie in challenge suggesting that it was very doubtful.
“It’s a ploy! She’s not scared. This is how she gets you in the face, you try to lure her out, act all nice and she flies at you and scratches your nose off.” Neassa touched her own nose, the scratches had lost their redness but she could still feel their bumpy ridges, still healing.
Magic crept back into the equation, though this time with a very real intent to harm, lyrium shot through her in response preparing to meet the brunt of whatever was to come next. Neassa was pushed back and away from the desk, stumbling some until she caught herself in the forced backstep that followed. Tragedy struck, she managed to keep the glass in hand but the flailing arms that came with being thrown off balance lead to her losing the contents on the carpet. “I don’t mind being thrown around but honestly, look at what you’ve done! You monster!” Her brow knitted together in horror, looking down at the damp patch of whiskey seeping further into the thread count. Then Cassie was on her feet like she was ready to send a more devastating spell in her direction, Neassa filled her empty hand with the energies of a fledgling Silence but her intent was just to spit some more venom at her before turning towards the door.
The anti-magic died upon her finger-tips while The Warden provided some snappish sagely advice on how to bond with a cat. “You just did the same thing to me!” She was still shouting at her too, so shouty and angry. Cat’s liked being thrown around...so they could land on their feet and slink away all high and mighty about it. “And you used magic to do the throwing.” If she had been a cat that blast of magic would have probably killed her! It was not the same though, not by a long shot.
In the wake of the slamming door, Neassa adopted a patronising serenity about herself. “I think you need to calm down, Cassie-Killer can sense that you’re upset and it’s upsetting her-” Neassa took pause as the she-devil in question crept out from her hiding place to lap at the damp spot of whiskey on the floor. “Now she is going to be so much more aggressive. I hope you’re happy.” Of the few things Neassa knew of her cat, the fact that she was a mean drunk was one of the most prominent. What was she doing allowing her cat to drink alcohol? Well, trying to take it from her had proved too difficult and resulted in The Seekers hands to be torn to ribbons.
Neassa moved to refill her empty tumbler, stepping over the momentarily, content cat. Always happiest when she was drinking...perhaps the reason the two didn’t get along so well was down to their similarities in personality. Except Cassie-Killer was all the wrong colouring to truly mirror her owner. “You’d prefer it if I called her something ridiculous like Lady Meow-Meow?” Her face twisted into disgust, drinking down a mouthful of her whiskey. It wasn’t like the cat even answered to her name, either because she did not yet recognise it as such or she was above listening to people.
“I’m going to a little slice of hell past Orlais for fun and I thought the sulphur might kill her.” See? Neassa did care. “I couldn’t find any cat sized precautions, so I thought it would be best to leave her behind until I get back.” Or she might die, her mission did run the risk of dragons after all.
In truth, she’d been planning on running further south before the Templars found her and brought her to the Nevarran Circle. After the Wardens recruited her, she’d not felt the need to request a transfer. She knew Nevarra fairly well, magic was accepted here more than anywhere else outside of the Imperium, and she had the Wardens to support her. That was the main reason she hadn’t asked for a transfer. The Wardens wouldn’t let the Imperium take her, which made her... overreaction tonight all the more frustrating. Stop jumping at shadows, she thought, biting her tongue as she poured out the drinks. She was – or should be – past that now. Of course, the Wardens couldn’t protect her against everything. Tevinter wasn’t above contracting the Antivan Crows for particularly tricky targets, and their own bounty hunters weren’t some thugs off the street either. If they could catch her, she doubted the Wardens’ diplomatic immunity would mean much to them when there was a bounty and the favour of an Altus magister at stake.
With the cat revealed and hiding, Cassie shook her head, frowning at her claw marks before resigning herself to them with a shrug. ‘No reason to mention my background, is there? All she needs to know is that I’m a Warden and you’re irresponsible.’ Both of which were perfectly true. She met Neassa’s stare with a placid smile, that air-headed, dreamy one she’d used in the Circle to convince the First Enchanter – and some of the other Templars – that she was harmless and sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly. It had never worked on Neassa, sadly. She’d never done anything nefarious either, so she hadn’t technically been manipulating them. She just hadn’t told them she had the potential to, just as much as their most troublesome mages.
‘Maybe because she recognises the lunatic who’s been terrorising her and is pre-emptively defending herself?’ Cassie muttered from her place on the floor, still trying to calm the cat. She’d stopped growling, but was hunkered down out of reach, glaring balefully out at her. Cassie sighed. She doubted she’d be making any progress soon without something to motivate the cat to leave her hiding place. Then Neassa snapped completely and started beating up the furniture to try and chase the cat out. Cassie didn’t regret the surge of magic – no harm done after all, and Neassa could do with a good shock to remind her that Cassie’s patience did, in fact, have a limit. She spared the rug, and the Seeker’s building Silence, a single withering glance as she marched to the door. ‘You can get one just like it for a couple of silvers in any Antivan market. I’m sure replacing it won’t be hard. We don’t put anything expensive where it could be easily damaged by crazy guests.’ It was solely Neassa’s fault – if she hadn’t started pounding on the desk, Cassie wouldn’t have pushed her, and she wouldn’t have spilled her drink. Simple. Her levels of deliberate self-delusion would never rival Neassa’s, but she could occasionally come close.
‘You’re not an innocent cat! Besides, you’ve got armour and you survived an ogre. A bit of magical rough housing won’t kill you,’ she snapped, kicking the door closed behind her with a loud bang. Her glowering only intensified as Neassa took on that patronising tone, making her sorely tempted to zap her just to see the look on her face, until they were both momentarily distracted by the cat finally emerging. Cassie groaned inwardly and dropped her head into one of her hands. A cat that drank alcohol. This could not be happening to her. ‘Please tell me she’s just thirsty, and you haven’t turned your cat into an alcoholic.’ She was dreaming right now. This had to be a very strange, completely bizarre dream in the Fade, and Neassa was actually a demon of aggravation.
Neassa’s scathing choice of name made her snort. ‘Like Cassie-Killer is any better? Couldn’t you have picked something normal, like Flavia or Aurelia or something?’ They were quite common in Tevinter for pale cats like Cassie-Killer. She frowned at first. There wasn’t really anything past Orlais, nothing worth going to anyway. Then Neassa mentioned sulphur and Cassie’s eyebrows rose. ‘What in the world are you going there for? Besides “fun”,’ she said, her tone providing all the air quotes she needed. ‘There’s nothing there to go to!’ It couldn’t be a voluntary journey, surely? Perhaps an assignment to punish her for one mishap or another?
Then Cassie glanced down at the cat, and back up at Neassa. ‘That is perhaps the most sensible idea you’ve ever had. I can’t say the Warden Commander will be pleased, but he’s not going to notice one extra cat among the other mousers. How long will you be gone for?’ Hopefully long enough to let the poor animal recover from her previous ownership.
[OOC: And then Cassie realises the cat is in fact a hellspawn once Neassa’s far away and not able to be blamed for her psychopath of a pet. Sorry for the stupid wait! Life’s being busy right now, I’m hoping it’ll start settling down soon! I’ll get back to the other thread asap.]
The Seeker gave her a flippant wave of the hand; disregarding The Wardens panicked fit of information. “You need to stop over thinking things or you’ll drive yourself mad. If they do find you-" Neassa shrugged her shoulders, “kill them.”
It was not often she advised a mage to use their powers towards murderous gains and it was her duty to make sure those that did were hunted down and force fed some justice but, Cassie was different. Her position within The Wardens the most obvious distinction from other mages but that wasn’t just it. “You know as much as anyone that I’m in firm support of murdering civilians of Tevinter.” It was truly the best remedy, though she was coming to realise that murder was her solution to many of her problems. It was the execution she had trouble with. She could already guess at Cassie’s reply, a two day long explanation about why it wasn’t that easy. Killing was the easiest job in the world; life was so fragile a thing sparing it was a mercy while taking it was a whim.
“You would have an audience with the Divine and tell her one of the Seekers she selected for her glorious order is irresponsible. I’m sure she would forget her pride and leave aside her delusions long enough to thank you for your input.” The mad old bitch would smile that exact smile Cassie wore now and tell her she was dismissed. Whatever sanctions might come against Neassa would be carried out within the secrecy of The Order itself, they’d wrap her knuckles or beat her with some dull holy tome and lock her in a dark room for a week thinking that would be long enough for her to break. Neassa would go back to all her old and decidedly wrong ways and show to have learned nothing, or at least, that a little bit of abuse was not enough for her to change the contrary habits of a lifetime. “Postscript, that was sarcasm.”
The smug look on her face weathered the butter-wouldn’t-melt smile of The Warden but shattered into pieces as Cassie continued, defending the cats volatile nature. “Oh, oh but when I pre-emptively strike out at mages everyone has something to say about it.” She should be a cat; she’d get away with literal murder. She could prance around Thedas cutting down apostates willy-nilly and not even a single brow would quirk up in challenge, she would just be pre-emptively defending herself. “Neassa no. Neassa you can’t do that. Neassa bad.” She drowned her jealousy with the rest of her whisky, any reluctance she had felt at drinking it all fading away with Cassie’s assurances that it was cheap plonk she was mistreating her to.
That cat was anything but innocent, that cat was a demon crammed into the tiny four legged body of a tabby, it sensed fear and killed indiscriminately, it sought nothing but chaos and disharmony and pain. It had tried to suffocate her just this morning when The Seeker had awoken suddenly to a lack of breath, the fat thing using her throat as a bed. It was pure evil. But Cassie, who was so usually wrong about many things (perhaps all things) was right about how incredibly resilient Neassa was. Ogre’s ran from her now, except that one that she had killed single-handedly, blindfolded, with just a wooden sword. She nodded her head along in agreement with the mage, an unusual sight for sure, but once the flurry of praise (that wasn’t really there) had dispersed, Neassa straightened. “It won’t hurt me no, not physically; it’s too puny a thing to harm something so robust. But it hurts my feelings.”
Cassie-Killer seemed rather fond of the cheap stuff, a guttural purring sounding from deep in her chest; Neassa smiled hoping she would soon pass out. Experience had taught The Seeker that she was incapable of holding her drink for much more than a few nips of spirits. “I didn’t turn her into anything. You seem to be under some kind of illusions, Cassie-Killer does what she wants and right now, she wants a drink.” Neassa, having required yet another refill had not ventured far from the bottle since recognising a theme arising in her behaviour, tipped the bottle enough to pour out a little more onto the carpet. A few drops thudded against Cassie-Killers head, she hissed, shaking it, ears flicking from side to side before returning to a state of content, sucking whisky out of a dirty old carpet.
Neassa’s brow knitted together at the alternative names the blonde offered her. “Flavia? Aurelia? Ugh.” Her disdain was so great it could not wait for her to go through the pouring motions and instead, Neassa simply took this drink straight from the bottle. “Those are normal maybe if you’re abnormal-“ she applauded her wit with a chuckle and a snort. “You ridiculous Tevinter woman.”
She took a moment to let Cassie stew in a stupor of confusion as to why on earth Neassa was headed to such a dead end. Unlikely she got to embark on many great adventures outside of jolly jaunts into the Deeproads to waltz with Darkspawn.
“An Ogre couldn’t kill me so I thought I should try starting a fight with a Dragon and see what happens. Clearly I am the pinnacle of strength in all of Thedas, by which all others are measured by.” Remembering her present company, almost absently, Neassa decided her answer simply would not do. “A holy blade that is probably evil or cursed by some vagrant witches magic is sitting out there all alone with no minds to meld or souls to corrupt. I have some sanity left to lose, might as well lose it there, hmm?” There had been a lull in her apostate hunts, or she had simply become bored with the routine of it all, honestly, there was no reason for her to be attending such a dangerous quest other than her natural curiosity and inability to stay still for too long.
“I have good ideas all the time.” Nope, her life was spent floating from one bad decision to the next, soaking up the recoil of consequences with a frivolous disregard for those caught in the tide along with her. As Cassie inquired about the duration of Cassie-Killers stay, Neassa jerked her shoulders in a shrug, indicating she had given little thought towards the finer details. The idea that she might be putting Cassie out had never entered her mind and even if it had, she would not have entertained it.
“Well, could be from a month, all the way up to forever, if I die of course.” In which case everyone would be very sad indeed, this went without saying. “Since there might be difficulty in returning my charred corpse to Nevarra, I want Cassie-Killer put in my crypt in my place. Whether she’s alive or not…” She pulled a folded piece of parchment from beneath her armguard. “I wrote it down, so you don’t forget my wishes in your grief.” Neassa placed the note on the table and should Cassie take the bait, she would find that the message inside was rather different to what Neassa professed. It simply read; Certificate of being a big-stupid-ogre-face, Cassiohlala Sophradamus.
Such dangerous missions required one to think on all of the likely scenarios, even those in the darkest of timelines. A world without Neassa? Not worth thinking of, Cassie would be distraught.
((OOC i was gone a long-long-loooooong time so I made up for it with a giant post full of Neassa'isms. DO ENJOY.))
Could you get any more paranoid if you tried?
Cassie snorted. Her, in Val Royeux? She was fairly sure she’d burst into flames if she stepped foot there, or so the Orlesian Chantry would have people think. ‘I wouldn’t consider a letter an audience with her. And I don’t think the supposed personification of all that is sweet and good in Thedas would like to hear you mistreat the cat she gave you, delusional or not. I’ll be sure to mention you called her delusional, by the way,’ she said with a smile. No, she wasn’t above tattling to teacher when it came to Neassa. Maybe a five year old’s logic would work where an adult’s wouldn’t. Actually, Neassa was probably the kind of child to scream ‘I don’t care’ and kick said teacher in the shin rather than meekly acknowledge that she’d done wrong. Ah well.
Cassie spared the Seeker an annoyed glance over her shoulder from where she knelt on the floor, flicking her hair out of the way to do so. ‘It’s only pre-emptive if your opponent intends to attack you. You strike out at mages no matter what they intend. Besides, you’re human, you’re supposed to know better. She’s a cat being tormented by a lunatic.’ An emphatic hiss from under the desk agreed with her. Cassie threw Neassa an ‘I told you so’ look, raised eyebrows and all, pointing at the shadows the cat had retreated to.
Hurts her...? ‘You don’t have feelings,’ Cassie said bluntly, crossing her arms. ‘You admitted it yourself. You’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon.’ Well, she hadn’t said that specifically, but she’d owned up to feeling anger, frustration and not much else. That was as good as, in Cassie’s book.
‘Maybe because she had nothing else to drink,’ Cassie muttered. She considered going over and picking the cat up, but this was the calmest and most content she’d been since leaving her basket. No matter, proper food and water would be here soon for her, so she’d hopefully be distracted from the whiskey. Then Neassa poured more onto carpet and cat alike and Cassie groaned. ‘A mistake I can understand, but could you please not deliberately destroy Grey Warden property? Even if it is an old rug. And stop tormenting your cat,’ she added, even though the feline was doing a decent job of ignoring her owner. Cassie decided to follow suit when Neassa took possession of the whole whiskey bottle and she couldn’t summon up the caring to object. Maker knew they had a whole cellar of the stuff, and wine, and liquor, and ale, all better quality anyway. That pathetic come-back, however, deserved addressing. ‘Your insults need work. Rusty, are we?’ Or intoxicated. One or the other.
For a moment Cassie just stared, convinced she’d somehow misheard, that there was a perfectly normal word that rhymed with dragon. But no, replaying the line in her head, there was no mistake. She slowly shook her head before it dropped into one hand, a motion somewhere between hiding her eyes and facepalming. ‘Are you sure you haven’t lost it all already?’ She asked, muffled by the angle of her head and her wrist. At least Neassa wasn’t going out solely to tangle with a dragon – there was a reason for her being wherever she was going. A dragon encounter was just very likely too. Cassie silently wished the dragon luck. She wouldn’t be surprised if it tried to swallow Neassa whole and choked through the Seeker’s sheer determination.
Her only response to Neassa’s blatant lie was an unimpressed ‘uh huh’. This was possibly the first good idea Neassa had had in her life. How she was still alive, Cassie had no idea. As she finally gave something approximating a straight answer, Cassie echoed her with a deadpan ‘of course’. Die her ass. Cassie was seriously starting to think Neassa was indestructible. Being chewed on by a dragon wouldn’t faze her. Who would torment and kill all those evil pesky mages if she died, after all? Still, she listened with her arms folded, her weight on one leg as Neassa laid out her not-so-long-term contingency plans for Cassie-Killer should she not return. Cassie picked up the no doubt false note without even glancing at it, flames flickering at her fingertips to turn it to a handful of ash. She tossed it into the fire with a helpful little push of magic to get it across the distance, turning to Neassa with a humourless smile. ‘Even if I didn’t remember among my celebrating and getting absolutely shit-faced, I’d do no such thing regardless. She’ll just have to stay here and have a long, happy life of peace from you instead. I’ll quite happily organise what flowers to have at your memorial though,’ she added with a cheery smile.
Then someone knocked at the door, and Cassie turned to open it and let a slightly bemused junior Warden in with the bowls. The young elf woman’s expression cleared as she caught sight of the cat and Cassie relieved her of the bowls. ‘Thank you sister.’ And thank the Maker for handy labels to give the new recruits when you couldn’t remember their names. As the elf bustled out, Cassie bumped the door closed with her hip before clicking her tongue at the cat, setting the bowls down beside the desk she’d hid under earlier. Cassie-Killer trotted over, turning her nose up at the water but attacking the food eagerly. Cassie gently stroked her pale back, smiling when the cat simply purred whilst gulping her dinner down. So much for a demon cat. She just hated Neassa. Quite sensible, really.
[OOC: Oh, I enjoyed VERY much XD This thread is crazy and I love it. Sorry for my own delay!]
A letter? Even better, Neassa could chase down the courier and intercept its delivery. Cassie had not thought this through properly, Neassa poorly masked the look of superiority blossoming on her face at her most recent thought process. She couldn’t lay out all her tricks on the table, best to let Cassie think a letter could be her undoing, didn’t want her coming up with something actually viable. ”Oh no, please, don’t. However will I cope without my work?” She would have to come here and laze around like a jobless wonder demanding Cassie pay her way since it was her fault she was so poor anyway. Neassa scoffed, more like however will Cassie cope, ha ha ha HA. The Seeker glanced around the room, taking in what might become her new abode, a fire that wasn’t dug into the dirt was a rather large leap from what she was used to. Being jobless though, she’d have nothing but time in order to adjust.
It had been a long time since Cassie had bore witness to how Neassa treated mages, for all she knew she’d changed her tactics. Maybe she liked to get to know them first, get friendly then all of a sudden, slap the friendship bracelet out of their hand and strangle them with it! “I couldn’t possibly know better than you Cassie, all knowing one-” but then the damn thing agreed with her, a hiss sounding out from its hiding place. Neassa sent a scowl its way then to meet the look Cassie gave her. ”Talking to it eh? I always knew you consorted with demons.” What had she always said!? Cassie is evil. Cassie is stupid. Cassie is an evil-stupid-face and also consorts with demons on occasion. It was like a mantra.
No feelings? Neassa gasped dramatically, a hand flying to her chest in despair, what a horrid thing to say. “What like, hot or cold?” Then she laughed, far too much than was worth the pitiful joke she’d made. “Do you get it? Because if it’s in tea it’s hot and if it’s not it’s cold? You don’t get it.” Her hand flew into the air at a loss for her dimwitted audience. “Probably went straight over your head.” She resisted the urge to add a you poor thing at the end, giving Cassie a doleful look instead. Conveying emotions as best she could mimic.
“Are you suggesting I don’t take care of her? Look how fat she is.” That had very little to do with Neassa, Cassie-Killer provided for herself when it came to food. In the beginning she had been a proficient hunter, until she realised Neassa carried food in her pack with her, then she became an even more proficient thief. It had left her twice the cat she had been, a glutton and a drunk. ”The first one was your mistake but since you asked so politely…” the tiniest rivulet of whisky completed its long, snaking journey down the side of the bottle and dripped onto the carpet once more, aided by the slight tilt Neassa held it at. ”No.” She beamed a defiant smile, her inner self assuring her Cassie didn’t control her, not that she was in any doubt of such a thing. ”I stopped tormenting her already, now I’m just here to torment you.” Honestly, Cassie was so slow on the uptake, she should have been expecting this. It was a more likely scenario than those bounty hunters knocking on the front door and asking for her to come outside so they could kill her without getting blood on that old carpet. Neassa shook her head, as if insulting the quality of her insults was any more advanced than what The Seeker herself had offered. ”I don’t want to spoil you with all my good ones straight away.”
The stunned silence she was met with after her talk of dragons was expected. Few people actively sought the beasts out to do battle with them, they weren’t the true reason for her travels but she wouldn’t shrink away from a fight with one if it swooped down out of the sky at her. Perhaps it was the Nevarran in her, that seemingly region specific thirst for glory and adventure, mixed dangerously with the diluted Tevinter blood, where she was sure she got her arrogance and superiority complex. ”Stow your concerns! I haven’t met anything I couldn’t kill yet.” She eyeballed Cassie in a way that told her not to count herself amongst those she had tried to kill. There was still time yet, assuming she returned at all.
Neassa had occupied the gullet of a great beast before, a Pride Demon hellbent on chewing her into bits and pieces. Simply being swallowed whole would not be enough to count her out of the fight. They should really save themselves the embarrassment of her clawing free by taking her in bite sized chunks instead, but, they never thought it necessary. The last thing a Dragon would expect would be for its meal to kick its teeth out from the inside.
Unimpressed and honestly offended, Neassa watched as her neatly hand written note was tossed into the crackling fire. How dare she! Destroying Seeker property, which was probably loosely Chantry property by association. Her eyes narrowed in challenge as she tilted that whisky bottle and let another, tiny amount tip out onto the floor. Leaving it in The Seekers possession was clearly a mistake. ”Knowing you, you’ll probably accidentally freeze her after one too many and kill her in the defrosting.” A live cat wouldn’t take as well to a fire spell as a dead turkey might.
A knock at the door spurned Neassa on to claim one of the large plush chairs scattered about the room, setting the whisky bottle upon the top of a dark mahogany desk, she stared at the elf warden who entered, rolling her eyes routinely as Cassie addressed her. Oh sister, oh thank you sister, oh, friends. Disgusting, only marginally less so than the humanity shown to Cassie-Killer in the moments that followed. Neassa noted as the cat avoided the water, like the seasoned alcoholic she was. ”See?! All she drinks is alcohol and the blood of her enemies.” Standard really.
“You realise you burned my last will and testament, I have to write another one. Which of these crappy old books is crappiest so I can tear out the pages and put something interesting on them.” Another certificate for Cassie probably, or maybe a letter to send to Tevinter on Neassa’s death, with the location of Cassiohlala for that family that wanted her dead.
Such cunning. Neassa grinned to herself, she was too devious for words.
Cassie hadn’t meant to kill him, just push him away because he was drunk and getting far too close for comfort. She hadn’t meant to put enough force into the magical shove to throw him over her head and the balcony. Explaining that would be a waste of breath, though.
Of course Neassa’s solution would be ‘kill them all’. Never mind that ‘all’ meant several notable Altus families, including the Archon’s at some point. Tevinter noble family ties were ridiculously complicated thanks to all the political marriages. ‘That’s a tad excessive. I’d also rather not take on the entire magisterium and their extended families on my own, thank you.’ Her lips twitched in poorly disguised amusement. Neassa’s irreverence could have its benefits when she wasn’t using it to drive her up the wall. ‘Two days ago, but who’s counting?’
She sighed and folded her arms at Neassa’s ‘oh no’ spiel. She only said ‘please’ when she had something else in mind and was trying to distract her or throw her off. Neassa just didn’t do manners unless she was trying to manipulate or antagonise someone with sarcasm. ‘You don’t need someone telling you to go hunt mages, you’d do it anyway, so you’d still have your work.’ Just not the money that came with it, but if Neassa could steal from Cassie in the Circle, she’d have no qualms about stealing from the mages she killed.
She couldn’t help the grin when the cat proved her right while Neassa was mid-speech. ‘Only the cute and fluffy ones,’ she cooed at the cat, forgiving the scratches still weeping blood down her top. The poor thing had been scared, after all. She inwardly groaned at the pitiful excuse for a joke, sending a beseeching look at the ceiling before fixing Neassa with as unimpressed a look as she could conjure. The one that said ‘really? You really just said that?’
‘I’m suggesting no cat would go for alcohol normally if they had another option first,’ she grumbled. She narrowed her eyes as Neassa started to tip the decanter, then when she was sure it was going to spill, she sent a jet of ice out to freeze the free falling whiskey solid. Globs of ice thudded to the rug, which Cassie swept away into the fireplace with a small wave of force magic and a smile.
It soon died and Cassie groaned in disappointment, of course she was. Her mother’s lessons hadn’t covered how soon was too soon to throw your unwanted guest out on their ass. ‘Lucky me,’ she said in a deadpan tone. She gave up and crossed the room to her abandoned whiskey glass, reclaiming it and taking a deep gulp. The heat helped settle her, and she resigned herself to tolerating Neassa until the Seeker decided to leave. She probably couldn’t toss her out without starting an incident between the Wardens and Seekers anyway. Pity. It turned out she needed the whiskey when Neassa announced the dragons she might encounter. She snorted at the Seeker’s filthy look. ‘Could have fooled me,’ she said in a sing-song. May as well play her game while she was here. Considering Neassa’s most serious murder attempt had failed only because of protocol intervening, she should probably worry more. Since most of her subsequent attempts had failed, usually thanks to them being spur-of-the-moment or interrupting darkspawn, Cassie dismissed the seriousness of the threat. She’d recently started to doubt Neassa’s heart was in it after all, so let her delude herself. Cassie still breathing was enough to prove her wrong. Although she genuinely did think Neassa would survive any dragon encounters, through sheer pig-headedness if nothing else.
Cassie stared at her, eyebrow raised as the note burned. She raised her hand in time with the tilt of the bottle, ice jetting out to freeze the drop before it followed the other ice globs into the fire. ‘Try it again and I’ll freeze the bottle,’ she said with a sweet smile before downing what remained in her glass. What was one lost bottle of whiskey after all? There were two others in the cabinet and a cellar full of booze. Not like they’d be running out any time soon. ‘No I wouldn’t. I’m careful with living things unless they deserve it,’ she said, raising her eyebrows pointedly. Neassa had felt brushes of her magic before when she was being an ass, like during that ogre disaster.
The knock at the door paused her showing off, but she didn’t mind too much. She took great pleasure in being able to stroke the ‘hellcat’ without being attacked. ‘Well she won’t be getting any alcohol here once you’ve left. Water will have to do,’ she said firmly, giving the cat a last pat before standing. She headed over to the cabinet and fetched a second bottle of whiskey, since Neassa had claimed the first and asking for it back would only result in another childish refusal.
She paused at the small desk in the corner to grab a piece of parchment and brought it over, dropping it on Neassa’s knee before slumping in the remaining chair, sprawling out comfortably. She neglected to provide a quill or ink, since Neassa hadn’t asked for them. Instead she grabbed her glass and filled it, deciding she may as well get comfortable. It was already late and Neassa might well be intending to stay the night at this rate. For that, she’d need alcohol and a comfy chair.
“Someone has to make it their priority to keep you people down. ” Despite herself, she was nodding along to Cassie’s words. Neassa didn’t like to imagine a time in which she was no longer a Seeker. Though she had nothing but contempt for The Chantry and their teachings, she appreciated the fact that their symbology was so powerful across Thedas. The Seekers of Truth were a lesser known entity than The Templars but the eye of truth was so obviously holy in aspect that even the lowliest of commoners could guess her affiliation. Though being associated with such things had its advantageous, it also suggested certain things about the woman behind the armour that simply weren't true.
What little others knew of Seekers consisted of the general assumption that only the most devout were inducted into their ranks. While that was true (in theory), the organisation needed more than believers. It may not acknowledge the need for people like Neassa, it might even look down on her actions and behaviour, but that mattered not. At the end of the day it still benefitted from them more than she did and she asked for little in return. Nothing more complicated than asking they might turn their cheek on a few of her more aggressive antics.
“If you had offered me a glass of water as my first option I would have smacked you.” Any excuse to try and smack Cassie, she casually looked about for a newspaper...something she could roll up and beat her over the head with. It would work wonders for Cassie-Killer too.
Neassa looked sadly at the carpet, where there should be a darkening spot of spilled whisky. She gave a disappointed huff, counting this as one more time magic ruined her life. Whisky should not freeze but magic had its own rules and she really hated how it just stomped all over the rest of natures rules. If she had allowed herself to think on it anymore she might find similarities between how she dealt with rules and how magic laughed in the face of constraints. Thinking deeply about things though was something she tried to avoid to keep herself from having to confront difficult self revelations.
“Did you ever consider that fooling you was exactly what I was going for? Maybe I’m just luring you into a false sense of security, waiting for you to drop your guard around me.” Maybe she was just playing at being incompetent...did Cassie ever think of that? Neassa wasn’t about to start an incident with The Wardens over murdering one of their own. She would never hear the end of it and even though she expected she would one day be put on trial, it wouldn’t be over killing Cassie.
Why...why would she give Neassa such an ultimatum? Warning Neassa to behave was an invitation for her to misbehave. She could feel a vein in her neck beginning to twitch as she held Cassie’s gaze, jaw tightened against the inflammatory smile the woman beamed her way. Her inner voice screamed at her to do it again, to throw the bottle down and let it smash into a thousand tiny pieces. Cassie-Killer might even step on a few slivers of glass and and...yeah, she deserved to cut her little paws, deserved it for the criss cross of scratches up and down Neassa’s arms and legs. What was it with cats and climbing people?
“I’m getting uncomfortable with the amount of casual spell casting going on. I might have to silence you. Please just give me an excuse.” It might not come as easily and as quickly to her fingertips as Cassie’s ice came to her but all Neassa needed was a few extra seconds one way or another and she only had to do it once...Cassie wouldn’t be able to freeze anything again for a little while after that. “You remember how fun Silence is, right?” Whoever had named it that was Neassa’s personal hero, for a long time in Cumberland she had forgotten what it sounded like shortly after Cassie’s arrival.
Parchment appeared on her knee but nothing else. What a smart arse.
Neassa couldn’t help the half smirk tugging at her lips as she made a point of putting her glass down in favour of the parchment. The bottle was slammed on the table too, a little spillage here and there...passive aggression at its finest.
“Many not remotely sarcastic thanks.” For a moment she looked like she was in deep concentration, pondering over what she was going to write on this piece of yellowed paper with this imaginary pen she just pulled out of thin air. Then, she smashed it together between her hands until it was a crumpled ball she then threw at Cassie’s forehead. Freeze that and it would only hurt more when it smacked her in the face.
She sort of hoped she tried to freeze it.
Cassie rolled her eyes, giving a put-upon sigh. ‘Once again Neassa, you’re not a cat. If I offered you water as your first option, I’d be a poor host... and possibly be trying to make you sick if I hadn’t boiled the water first.’ She should bear that in mind actually. Might come in useful if she ever had to deal with someone she needed to kill indirectly. It was incredibly unlikely, but so were her childish thoughts of what to do if she ever became Archon. Hadn’t stopped her then.
She snickered, lifting her tumbler up to partially hide her mouth. Neassa, pulling that kind of long-lasting deception? The Black City would turn pink before that happened. ‘Briefly. For perhaps the first five minutes of our acquaintance. After that I realised you didn’t have the patience and focus required. Besides, it’s been three years. We’ve barely seen each other for the last two and a half and might never have except for crazy murder schemes and cat-sitting requests.’ She paused to give Neassa a pointed look. She would have quite happily continued life Neassa-less, given the choice. ‘So why in Thedas would that make me lower my guard, no matter how you acted? Whenever I see you you’re either trying to kill me or foist your alcoholic pets off onto me.’
Cassie narrowed her eyes, watching Neassa over the rim of her glass. Silencing was far from pleasant, and Neassa had thoroughly enjoyed it whenever Cassie had pushed her far enough in the Circle and no one else was looking. However the threat of it had never been enough to cow her – she’d just endeavoured to be smarter next time and would be back to pushing Neassa’s buttons the next day. Neassa seemed to have forgotten, or never realised, that Cassie saw the threat of a Silence as a challenge.
Magic was easiest when using a focus, like a staff. Hands were a reasonable substitute if no staff was nearby. Magic without any physical channel, just willpower? Tricky, and she really shouldn’t be using it for a simple little pissing contest – particularly after a drink – but she was confident in her skill and her ability to block the demons out.
‘Oh, I remember. Though I wouldn’t call it fun.’ Smirking behind her tumbler, Cassie pushed. Only lightly, and with complete precision, all without moving a finger. Just a little nudge, under the neck of the tilted whiskey bottle. Not enough to move it or even for Neassa to feel it against her hand, but if she tried to tip that bottle any further it would be like there was a solid table in the way. Oh, Neassa might be able to feel magic, being a Templar, but would she try silencing her if she couldn’t actually see any magic being performed? She’d been able to sense the magic Cassie had been holding close when she first entered, after all, and she hadn’t even been casting anything then. It probably depended on just how desperate Neassa was for an excuse... and how long it took her to notice.
Cassie raised her eyebrows at the whiskey on the table, but just settled deeper into her chair. The old thing was covered in ring stains anyway, one more wouldn’t hurt. She looked up at the sound of crumpling paper, and had enough time to close her eyes and scrunch her nose up before the ball hit her. She waited while it bounced away across the floor before opening her eyes and glancing down at it, twitching her nose to get rid of the phantom scraping sensation of parchment.
Then she looked up at Neassa, smiled, and the paper ball crunched down even tighter and smaller before whizzing at its creator. Cassie didn’t much care if she was silenced after that, it’d be worth it if it actually hit her.
Dimly, she acknowledged that the two of them were sat here throwing paper balls at each other like bored apprentices. Her and Neassa. The crazy Templar-turned-Seeker who wanted her dead. Throwing paper.
Oh well. Stranger things had happened.
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