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WRITING CHALLENGE #21, 9 OCTOBER - 23 OCTOBER
Posted: Oct 9 2017, 12:08 PM
Writing Challenge #21
Welcome to another writing challenge here on Unbound. We had a short break after the summer, but we're back and rolling. As always, direct any questions about these challenges to my staff account.
Prompt: The conclave destroyed. The sky itself shattered. And through a twist of fate, there's now a sinister glowing mark on your hand. Oops.
Rather than swap perspectives, this is your character as themselves, having stumbled into the lucky unlucky ticket. Whatever they were before, they're now the Inquisition and all of that. Take them into Champions of the Just or In Hushed Whispers.
Posts should be at least 400 words to claim credit. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end October 23rd at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.
Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
Posted: Oct 10 2017, 04:43 AM
She should have just gone back to the clan. She should never have gone to the Conclave, should have stifled her hope and curiosity and simply waited out this war humans had caused. She’d avoided punishment for her actions for years, so why she’d felt the need to judge the Templars’ intentions now...
Well, it was done now. The human prophet’s resting place now ashes, as the prophet herself was. Her hand scarred with magic. Father would be the odd one out now.
She was used to supernatural monstrosities. She’d seen the Archdemon, had taken pot-shots at it as it flew overhead. This Elder One couldn’t be worse than that.
Though this world, this future she’d found herself in...
The mage, Dorian, seemed fascinated if disturbed by it all. They needed to put things right, return to their time and avert this disaster. Erase all the pain and suffering and death her people, Dalish and Inquisition, had endured. Like it or not, the Inquisition were her people now. And to see her companions as corrupted ruins of what they had been... they had to fix it. Leliana was angry. She saw the sense in making sure this never happened, but Dorian had infuriated her by treating this as hypothetical. It wasn’t for them, for her and Solas and Cassandra. For those who had survived.
They called her the Herald of Andraste. The prophet of a prophet, a sign their beloved Andraste would return to them. That their Maker had chosen to save them through her. Through a Dalish Elf.
She highly doubted it. She wondered if those same people had held onto that faith in the year since she’d vanished in this world, or if they’d cursed her as a lie, a false saviour, a treacherous knife-ear.
Leliana kept them moving. Though immune to the red lyrium experimentation, she was physically the most weakened, her body wasted and atrophied. Yet she was the one urging them on, barely pausing for rest, impatient when she and Dorian slowed to scrounge information from journals and notes. This was information they needed – this was what the Elder One planned, therefore they knew something of what he was aiming for. Know that, and they’d be a step ahead of him once they made it back to their world.
If they made it back.
For a moment, Inera stared out at the ruined castle, at the swollen, glowing Breach in the sky above the courtyard. Imagined herself trapped here, stuck fighting a losing war for a ruined world. Was there even anything left to save, here?
No. She’d make it back. She had to. Dorian had a plan, it had to work.
There was a rift ahead, spawning demons. Venatori roamed the halls.
‘Same as before. Get me to the rift, I’ll close it as quickly as I can. Ready?’ It had been their strategy thus far.
The group braced itself.
Leliana drew in a breath as she drew her string back. ‘Go.’
Inera sprinted for the rift. They would make it back. They had to. In this world, her People were dead. She wouldn’t let them fall on her watch. Not now. Not ever.
Posted: Oct 10 2017, 07:11 AM
Time travel. The Breach was altering the fabric of what was magically possible, as well as spitting demons out every which way.
Neassa must be having a field day somewhere, justified now in her hatred of magic and what it could do. That was if she was still alive in this hellscape.
It was Neassa. She’d probably be thriving here.
The first course of business was figuring out exactly how far forward they’d come, what had happened, though if the red lyrium sprouting from the walls was any indication, Thedas had changed irrevocably.
Not for the first time, Cassie doubted the wisdom of siding with the mages, but... she couldn’t turn her back on them. Not when it was a magister – one of her people – that had driven them to desperation in the first place. Although... this made sense. The odd discrepancies, Fiona’s missing memory of their meeting in Val Royeux. Alexius had used time magic before, with far more control and precision than this. That might have been Dorian’s doing – he’d tried to counter the spell, hadn’t he? Maybe Alexius had lost control of it, throwing the pair of them into some unknown point in time.
The fact that Redcliffe Castle had changed this much made her think they were quite a way forward – years, perhaps. She wasn’t sure how quickly Red Lyrium could cleave through solid stone, how fast it grew.
It was intriguing, from a scholar’s perspective. If this was what awaited them in the future, how much impact would they have to have on the world to prevent this from coming about? Presumably the absence of the only one capable of closing the rifts had had a devastating toll on the world. Yet she struggled to see how the absence of only two people could lead to this devastation, unless...
Unless this wasn’t avoidable. Unless this Elder One was that powerful.
The only way to prove that would be to get back to the past with all the knowledge they could gain, and immediately act to prevent the events that led to this world.
It sounded so simple in her head, until they found the cells. It was a scenario until then, a puzzle.
This made it real. Varric, worn, smooth voice rough with lyrium but humour intact. Blackwall, a false Warden though he was – he didn’t have the song like the others – he still didn’t deserve this fear, verging on a break down.
Alexius was the way to end all this. And a skilled mage though he was, he was a scholar above all else. Cassie had been a noble, a fugitive, enchanter, Warden, and now Herald with ancient magic seared to her palm. She threw Alexius and his demons across the room, pinned them to walls, ceilings, ripped his rifts to shreds.
If she’d stayed in the Imperium, if Aulus hadn’t died, she might have been a magister in her own right by now. And this shell of a man was not going to stop her from getting back to her own time. It was a Warden’s duty to save the world, she wasn’t going to shirk that now just because it wasn’t a Blight.
Posted: Oct 19 2017, 02:05 PM
Bug had made them vote on it, on whether to go after the Templars or help the Mages back in Redcliffe. It had seemed pertinent, as they had all been debating the matter for what'd felt like hours, and Bug (now dubbed the Herald of Andraste) could only think of one surefire solution to their tired squabbling. A majority vote.
Bug had, in her mind, considered it of paramount importance to aid the mages back in Redcliffe. Dorian, the Atlus mage they'd encountered while inside the Redcliffe chantry, had spun her a convincing yet disconcerting tale of Tevinter cultists and time travel magic.
Alexius' missive, his request to meet with her, screamed "Priority."
Instead of asserting herself to this matter Bug alternatively, foolishly, suggested a "show of hands" to a group of grown-ass people —a callow strategy, in retrospect. They had, to this point, looked to her for direction and had allowed her some reign over the Inquisition's war table for no other reason save for the fact that she was able to close rifts à la glowing, green hand-leech. This, this yielding attempt at management was, unfortunately, the best she could come up with.
The Commander, of course, had voted for seeking out the Templars' aid —seeing as he had been one, still was so long as Bug was concerned, she hadn't exactly been surprised by his vote. Then, there was Cassandra, someone who Bug had mistakenly thought she'd convinced over to her side after hours of amicable discussion while on the road and while sharing a tent —her vote had been somewhat of a slap in the face. Templars. Understandable, Bug reasoned: The Lord Seeker's actions were rather discomfiting and it was normal that Cassandra would have a vested interest in the fate of her order.
It had stung, though.
Leliana and herself had voted to go after the Mages in Redcliffe, and though they hadn't come up with a plan to deal with Alexius' invitation as of yet, that could be seen to when the council had organized itself to one cause —to one group.
That had left Josephine, the tie-breaker.
Templars won out.
Bug had honored the result, an unhappy twist inside of her gut.
As a mage, an apostate no less, Bug had spent most of her formative and adult years actively avoiding Templars. Now she was stood, quite preposterously, inside a Templar stronghold —severely uncomfortable wasn't a strong enough phrase to explain just how out-of-place she felt at the moment. Such wasn't even taking into account the pretentious, inflated ass (Lord Abernache, she was fully aware) that had fastened himself to her side.
Bug had no time to posture. Since arriving she'd been feeling herself slowly withdrawing in a piss-poor attempt to make herself smaller, to go unnoticed. Hard to do, apparently, when you're the voiding Herald of Andraste. As a result, she was rather terse in her interactions with Abernache, something Sera seemed to enjoy to no end. The Iron Bull looked to be getting a kick out of it, too. (Well, possibly. Bug never could get a good read on him.) Cassandra, though? Not so much.
Bug sighed and squared her shoulders in some grasping attempt to get a grip on herself. The task was simple enough: Convince the Lord Seeker to aid the Inquisition in sealing the Breach. She could certainly do that much. Possibly. No pressure or anything.
"Andraste's Herald, an elf? It can't be. She'd never chose one of them, especially a mage."
There was that, too.
Well, at the very least, Bug thought, quickly making her way over to their Templar contact. it can't possibly get much worse than this.
Posted: Oct 22 2017, 08:55 PM
“This whole business is distasteful. Perhaps we are better off pursuing the Templars instead.”
“I’d bet you ten royals whatever the Templars are doing is just as weird”
Inez and Cassandra owed Varric ten royals.
She thought it would be a breeze; Lord Abernache and the rest of the Orlesians houses who joined the Inquisition at Therfinfall Redoubt posed no difficulty. Inez had a lifetime of dealing (and schmoozing) with their type. She would smile and nod and say that, yes, of course she was the Herald of Andraste if that was what pleased them. She’d hide a smirk as Vivienne deftly insulted Lord Abernache. Raise a few flags. Do as the Lord Seeker wanted as long as it would get the Templars to help seal the Breach.
Apparently it was naïve to expect things not to become a fucking shitshow.
Where the fuck am I? Inez rubbed her eyes. Where was the Lord Seeker? Where did he bring her? She turned around, eyes meeting corpses on fire. It looked like the Temple after the Conclave.
She threw up.
“Cullen? Josephine? Leliana?” No… it didn’t feel right. This was wrong. All of this was wrong. They talked, they spoke like them. A demon? Her daggers slashed out whenever the demon-Josephine got too close. And then… it was her? How was this possible? She had to leave. She stumbled, ran through the scenarios Envy played out for her.
Another demon? Why would he want to help her? He stood on the ceiling. She didn’t trust him. It could be another trick, another demon. How were they ‘in her head’? But... it almost made sense? The Lord Seeker corrupted by an Envy demon. This Cole would help her now and only now. She had to get back.
Envy seemed angry by the phantoms actions. That was all the convincing she needed.
Her body was splayed on a table, a sword through her chest. Was this her future? Is this all she would be? ”None of this is real unless you let it be.” Cole’s voice echoed. Envy screamed. “None of this is real,” Inez repeated. It only got more and more grotesque, more and more horrifying. She kept whispering under her breath. It isn’t real. It isn’t real.
Cole kept telling her to go higher. Inez reached the point where it happened – where the Lord Seeker pulled her into… this. Envy, wearing her face, shoved her up against a wall. ”It’s frightened of you,” Cole said.
Good. It should be.
The fear, the doubt, subsided. It was replaced by anger and determination. Inez punched the demon with all her might as it was distracted, She would finish this.
Posted: Oct 24 2017, 04:04 PM
This challenge is now closed!
Thank you to Milk, Hez, and Alayna for your lovely entries. ('She'd never choose one of them.'
They don't like mages, elves, qunari, dwarves... All of the 'rabbit' comments at Halamshiral clearly in earshot, like do we really need to save Orlais? Are we sure?)
Don't forget to visit the moderation thread for your sovereigns if you haven't already nabbed them.
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