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LITTLE WINGS, CARVER & NEASSA & CASSIE | THE SURFACE
Posted: Jun 28 2018, 02:38 PM
Despite how much it burned, Carver didn't stray away from the beating sun on his shoulders -- his dark hair was already collecting and holding heat, and he didn't mind, couldn't mind, not after what they'd been through. The group that had finally emerged out of the Deep Roads was a large one indeed, after being pointed in the right direction by some not-so-friendly native dwarves. It didn't matter how they'd gotten out, just that they would never have to go back. The group was still a few miles away from any heavily populizied civilization, given the exit wound of the tunnel, but a slight read on the group made it clear to him that there were two very different opinions on what to do next.
The group led by the Hero wanted to move further inwards, find out exactly where they were, and go from there. The Nevarrans were fairly more cautious, and Carver couldn't exactly blame them. He did feel that he owed a debt to the woman that had saved his life, but the fact remained that all of those people.... they were all connected to him.. in someway. Not Carver, but his fucking brother. It was quite nearly a pipe dream to imagine starting a life without him, truly without him.
He'd had to take a moment to himself, positively overwhelmed with being on the surface again, his light-colored, sensitive eyes streaming not from emotion but from the fierce brightness of the sun, and how long he'd had to stay in the dark. But he still watched the group from afar, and when Cassie and Neassa split off, appearing deep in conversation with each other, he knew that he would have to make his move now, lest he wait too long and lose his chance.
Anxiety gnawed at him as he stood and closed the distance between the two women and himself. "Hold up a minute," Carver called to them, his gaze shifting rather coolly to the raven-haired woman with cheekbones pulled even tauter than usual: it was clear that his presence here annoyed her, but he wasn't going to let that stand in his way. So what that he'd engaged into a near fight to the death with her until he'd been forced to stop? Now was a chance to start over, and perhaps he would never have to see that mage again.
It would be for the best, given how irrationally he'd been behaving ever since he'd found himself in the apostate's company.
"Listen... I know that I'm not exactly the easiest person to get on with," Carver admitted, averting his gaze momentarily to scuff his boot awkwardly into the earth beneath him. That was putting it lightly, but he didn't care to iron out the details of his wrongdoings, or he'd be standing there all bloody day. "I may have gotten off on the wrong foot with... you," He was unsure whether or not to separate the comment between the two women, but decided it was in his best interest not to. "But nevermind all of that. I want you to take me with you. I know that you're going to split off." He was braze as he could be in that statement, looking between the both of them for a moment, and then appealing to Cassie with the next bit: "You know how new I am. If you don't want to keep me around forever, that's fine, but before you send me off I'd like to know a bit more about what it means to be a warden. That's what I am now, like it or not. I think we both know I can't just swagger back into the Templars and call it a day." A mindful eye back towards Neassa, purposefully excluding her from that statement. Now that he was aware she was a turncloak, despite her proficiency with all of the battle tactics necessary to qualify as a Templar, his opinion on her had slightly lessened. No matter, for he was more than positive the feeling was mutual.
Seemingly uncharacteristically, the warrior dropped to one knee, hitting hard, his dominant hand drawing his blade from the opposite shoulder and spearing it into the earth in front of him, the majority of his weight leaning on the hilt. "I swear fealty under your command, Warden-Commander, and I offer you my sword and my life." This was no different, save for a wavering formality, than his introduction into the Templars. Carver, as much as he liked to throw his weight and mouth around, was no leader. All he'd wanted was to be a part of something, and he wouldn't find that within a group of his brother's acquaintances. It was high time he struck out on his own, with the possibility to actually be fruitful.
Posted: Jun 29 2018, 02:43 AM
Finally the rock of the tunnel gave way to sunlight, to fresh air, to the surface... Neassa was at the front fast, no care for whoever was in her way as she barged past and out into the open air. It was glorious, just being able to look up and see the sky, to breath without taking in dust, all things she had taken for granted now returned to her. She was never going underground again. No fucking chance. You couldn't pay her enough. For a moment she considered the likelihood of this all being an elaborate hoax cooked up by Cassie to teach her a lesson, but as she looked around and took in the scenery, she could tell in a glance she was still far from home.
For many, safety could be found in others but for Neassa, more people meant more problems. She was far too used to solitude to work well with others, having only recently figured out how to work well with her Mercenaries. Now she was expected to deal with an Apostate in tow? Perhaps if he was just an Apostate and not an abomination she could find some peace with him at her back. But that wasn't the case. Her mood soured at the mere thought of him and of the people who had kept his miserable life from being hers. She eyed Carver with a measure of disgust, the apostates saviour, if it wasn't for him then she wouldn't have to worry about their pet apostate turning on a whim. Fair play to them if they were happy to have such a thing in their company, happy to risk it. Neassa wasn't. Not for her, not for Cassie.
She doubted she had to express her concerns with Cassie, trusted the woman already knew full well how she felt about their tentative alliance but she wanted to make sure. There were many things she left unsaid between them purely because it was easier that way, but if she stayed quiet now then she might be stuck with an abomination looking at her across the campfire. And that didn't fly with her, not if she wasn't allowed to gouge out his eyes without having a flock of his compatriots jump on her back for it.
Neassa casually pulled Cassie aside, away from the others. “I don't know what you're thinking but you should know that I'll go wherever you decide we have to go,” where else was she going to go? Run off and start a new life? There was nothing out there for her, the Blight would continue and she would die in a place and time where she did not belong. Cassie was the only person who could say whether she had existed or not, the only one who knew her, by her side was the only place to be that made sense. “But I would rather it not be with them.”
She understood that Cassie would want to stick with fellow Wardens, especially the Hero of Ferelden but when Nolani broke bread with demons, then could she really be trusted to make the right decisions over just choosing what was right for her? That was why Anders was still alive anyway, because of the friends he had made. Neassa had seen it a thousand times before, she had seen entire families burned off the face of Thedas by the abominations they housed and hid from The Templars, thinking they were protecting them. Saving them, when in reality, they were just putting themselves and those around them at risk. In all the cases she had seen, she had never once seen it work out for anyone.
“I can't promise I won't try to kill him again. He's an abomination. As long as he's around I'll be on edge, just waiting for him to turn-”
Someone was talking. Carver. She looked beyond Cassie as he approached and groaned. For fuck sake, what did he want? He was forever interrupting her, first with Anders and now this.
She scoffed as he began, dreading where this was going. Oh god. Oh no.
“You can't swagger back to the Templars, namely because they don't exist yet-” Neassa pointed out, hoping to distract Cassie from the rest of Carvers impassioned speech. It was exactly the kind of shit Cassie went for. Collecting strays, a beacon for those in need of fixing. Neassa had taken advantage of it herself, but that was different...because. She said so. “But your friends are just over there so-” she made a shooing gesture.
When he took his sword out she stared at him in warning, as if to say 'don't you dare.’ Then he was down on one knee!
Neassa repressed the urge to leap forward foot first and feed it to him. Her eyes went wide as he spoke, swearing fealty to Cassie. She couldn't believe it, people actually did that? Like it meant anything?! She laughed, slight at first, in pure disbelief and then a full on belly laugh. Knee slapping included. She could hardly see for the tears in her eyes, this guy, this fucking guy...this hopeless offcut of the Hawke family line, was he serious?
When he stayed that way after saying his piece, she realised that he was in fact very serious. Her laughter faded out, she wiped her eyes on her sleeve and caught her breath. She knew Cassie well enough to know she'd take this whelp under her wing. Especially after that display, but she still stared at her with the intensity she felt was required to control her mind and make her say 'kindly get yourself to fuck,’ instead of whatever she was planning on saying.
Posted: Jul 4 2018, 12:06 PM
Fresh air. Maker, how good a breeze felt after so many days of still, dead air. Cassie closed her eyes against the sun’s glare, giving her eyes time to adjust and herself time to appreciate being out of the enclosure of stone.
There was so much to be done and so far to go yet, especially now they knew what they did, but she could have this moment of peace, of feeling sun and wind on her skin and hair.
Of course, Neassa had to drag her away from it. ‘Alright, alright, I’m coming,’ she muttered, letting herself be towed by the arm. Away from the others, she noticed. A private discussion – something serious then. Neassa wouldn’t shy away from saying anything else in public.
While she suspected Neassa had a far more practical reason for her decision, it was heart-warming to know she’d stay, this time. ‘I’m glad to hear that,’ she said quietly, only to fall silent when Neassa continued.
Ah. There was the catch. ‘And with one person in particular, I take it?’ Neassa had made no bones about her feelings about Anders – stabbing someone was about as clear as you can get, really, and her behaviour afterwards had only reinforced that.
It was... difficult. As a Warden it made sense to stick with the other Wardens – especially considering how few of them there were. But they would cover more ground separated, it would be harder to wipe them all out in one fell swoop, she was probably going to end up clashing heads with Nolani at some point over leadership and... well...
Neassa wouldn’t be comfortable. That had become a priority, somewhere between years and days ago.
She did understand her reasoning. However Wardens had always been very forgiving of who they accepted so long as they could dole out enough damage to the spawn. Consorting with demons? Fine. Blood magic? The Order was built on it. Abominations? So long as you can control it – though by its very definition abominations were usually poor at control. Often it depended on the kind – some were beneficial; spirits rather than demons. Anders was clearly bonded with the latter.
Carver shouted across. He was heading for them, despite Neassa’s glare. Cassie squeezed her hand, shooting her a quick look to say they’d finish their conversation later before turning to Carver since he clearly wasn’t dissuaded by the fact that they were in the middle of a conversation. Besides, he was a junior Warden and she had a responsibility towards him.
He was awkward – almost shy, in his approach. He reminded her of a child, of the young apprentices in the Circle when they were trying to find the words they wanted, or asking for something they weren’t sure they could have. It wasn’t quite an apology, though if he had things to apologise for so did they.
She glanced briefly at Neassa. Were they being that obvious about their inclination to leave?
Her eyebrows rose at the request. She’d thought he would have wanted them all to stick together, not least because of his... well, she wasn’t actually sure what his relationship with Anders was, but he had leapt to defend him from Neassa when he could have focused on the spawn mobbing the pair instead. He meant something to him at least, or had.
She couldn’t help the quirk of her lips when Neassa tried to intervene. She could see exactly what she was doing, but Carver wasn’t put off. She stared when he went down on one knee – her first and only proposal hadn’t involved that bit of tradition, had merely been a signature on a piece of paper agreeing to the match, but for a split-second that was what entered her head.
Oh, Neassa, stop. She’d set her off if she kept that up.
She had to bite the inside of her cheek to stop herself laughing, and somehow kept her composure as he swore fealty. It was a nice gesture, and was technically following protocol, but no Warden she’d ever met had followed through on it until now. Bless.
She caught Neassa’s gaze, grimaced and mouthed ‘sorry’, before turning back to Carver. She was going to get shit for this later, she knew it. ‘I accept. You’re welcome with us as long as you wish to stay – or can tolerate us,’ she added, to break the ice and because it was true. Neassa was going to make him regret asking, she was sure of it.
Posted: Jul 7 2018, 11:14 AM
Of course that was how his request was met. He might as well been in Kirkwall all over again, tagging along with his fucking brother, being the butt of his every joke and the rest of theirs, too. It was a time in his life that he’d thought he’d long past conquered—despite the fact that he was still hanging around one of Hawke’s friends. Well. friend. It was no secret that he’d handed the mage off to the circle to become tranquil, and yet, here he still was. Unfortunately.
He should have known that it was too much to ask to be accepted anywhere else. It was far past his time for that. Carver was always going to be the one who got the short end of the stick, holding on between a forefinger and thumb. His expression darkened and he rose from his kneeling stance, frustrated that his admission was met like this. He wasn’t good enough for these people, either, and that wasn’t about to change anytime soon.
”Shut your bloody face,” he muttered, turning away from Neassa and bringing himself to spit on the ground to distract from the heat that had started to rise in his face. He was eighteen again, just desperate to prove himself and not having anything to show for it. Maker. He only turned around again when he was absolutely certain that he was composed. Perhaps she was right, though—he was a nuisance and didn’t know much, but he’d had worse run-ins than the one with Neassa. There were plenty of things that he was still curious about regarding the ex-Templar, and he wouldn’t get the opportunity to ask them if he stayed to play house with the Hero and her companions.
His features crossed slightly—confused—and then his forehead relaxed when Cassie finished her thought. ”Really?” The request had been one he’d quite literally pulled out of desperation to get away, to better figure himself out without having to worry about—everything else. There were other matters that were more important, such as fitting into his newly crowned Warden skin. At this point, he’d told them the story, so they were aware that he hadn’t chosen to do this—but it was what he was choosing now. ”I—I won’t let you down, Warden-Commander. And I do, I, uh…” a small shift of his gaze back to the raven-haired woman. Truly, he’d dealt with much worse than the likes of her, both in the ranks of his time with Ostagar, and in the Templars both. ”I’ve been a part of both the militia and Templars, and—I’ve never been able to pick who I wanted to work with, until now, Sers.” That had to count for something—even if, between both groups, he’d be picked last.
”We don’t know what’s out there—what we’ll have to face. I want to make sure that we have the best possible approach. I’ve observed everyone since our time together and I prefer your style of leadership.” Not to mention everything that still transpired between him and those within Nolani’s party—maybe if they’d found Varric again, things would be different.
”Do we have a plan? Er, you.” Overeager and diving in head first as always. His gaze narrowed as he regarded Neassa—maybe she wouldn’t be so agreeable to his hanging around, not that he could blame her for it. ”The only time I’ll strike you again is if you ever feel inclined to spar. I was out of my head down there. It’s not an excuse, but it’s what it was.”
Posted: Jul 9 2018, 02:20 AM
She gave a curt nod. “Yes, his name starts with A and ends in S for 'shouldnt still be breathing,’” Neassa confirmed Cassie's suspicions, giving the aforementioned abomination a sharp glance across the way as she did so, eyes passing the approaching Carver on the way.
Cassie squeezed her hand and Neassa grew silent, reading her expression. It was rare that Neassa recognised such social cues but her familiarity with Cassie and her behaviours meant that hers were easy to pick up on.
Somewhere between Carver's ridiculous display and Neassa's internal screaming, she recognised that Cassie had said she was glad. Glad to hear that Neassa planned to stick with her. It was an odd sensation, to know that she was wanted. Neassa knew full well that she was…difficult, had been told so her entire life. She had assumed her presence was only ever an inconvenience and that Cassie tolerated her more than most, because Cassie tolerated everyone, what did it mean when she said she was glad to hear it? Fuck.
Her eyes shifted between the Warden Commander and fledgling Warden. Was she as welcome as Carver was to join her? Neassa could only hope that she was held in higher regard than a man she had just met, even if he was a Warden.
Carver rose out of his grovelling (that's how she viewed it) and looked livid. There was a break enough in her laughter to catch his mutter and she scoffed. “Oh come on, don't be so sensitive. You're not a Templar anymore, you can stop being a boring bastard.” Now that he was a Warden he could start regaling people with tales of impending doom and highlighting the importance of personal hygiene to avoid contracting the taint. She knew full well that being a Warden had other more pertinent responsibilities but those were all she thought he could handle.
She was discovering that he was quick to anger and easily provoked, she wondered how long he would last travelling with a woman as talented as she was with bringing out the worst in people. Perhaps he'd come out of this with some thicker skin, or they would butt heads a hundred times before any sense got through to either of them. The fact that she was already thinking about how she could possibly make this work meant that she had accepted Cassie's decision long before the woman gave it voice. Neassa could and would complain all she wanted, but at the very least, Carver wasn't Anders and she could find all the comfort she needed in that fact alone.
Still, she was already mid groan and shaking her head as Cassie mouthed her apologies to her, turning to welcome Carver into the fold. “Fucking perfect.” She grumbled, crossing her arms.
Carver became positively giddy at the news, stuttering out empty promises. Because he would definitely let Cassie down at some point, it was intrinsic to his nature. Neassa knew little of his nature but that never bothered her before when she was making assumptions about people. He was too eager to please for him not to be a complete disaster of a human being. Mid way through he looked at her and she stared back with disinterest until he called her a Ser. Neassa gave one single guffaw. “I’m touched.” She was under no illusions as to who he wanted to work with, it was just unfortunate for him that in this instance Cassie came with certain, unaccommodating baggage.
She was aware his vision of what lay ahead of them was meant for Cassie but if he was really going to be joining them for the foreseeable then he would also have to handle Neassa offering her two coppers whether it was asked for or not, always in the form of a snide comment too. “It's Darkspawn. Lots of Darkspawn. That's what we're facing.” Shit, she wasn't even a Warden and she knew that. It occurred to her that she should maybe try to rein it in, she was an adult. Allegedly.
But then Carver turned his attention and words to her. Neassa shifted, was he trying to out adult her? Coming at her with the promise of no further violence against her, sounding all sincere and apologetic? Well, this had to be the first time anyone had ever promised not to hit her again, usually it was a tirade of threats to do so, repeatedly and until she stopped moving. She didn't quite know how to handle it, it was so far removed from what she was used to. Neassa looked at Cassie momentarily in the hopes of finding a prewritten diplomatic reply taped to her face. Nope. Nothing there, just a face, she was on her own
“Shit.” A solid start to any conversation. “It didn't even hurt.” It had and since she stubbornly refused any sort of healing other than of the natural sort she could handle herself, it still hurt on occasion, she swore it flared up whenever she looked at him. ”Just don't get in my way again, it won't go so well for you when I can see it coming.” He would have to make do with her being visibly irate at his presence as long as he was in their company, as far as she was concerned, it wasn't her job to make sure he was comfortable. He was foisting himself off on them regardless of how she felt about it, Neassa had little option but to scowl and bear it.
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