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“Magister,” repeated Cullen slowly. “There is a Tevinter Magister occupying Redcliffe Castle.”
“Yes, Commander,” confirmed Cassandra in a clipped tone.
“And another Magister warned the Herald that this is some sort of plot to trap her?”
“Not a Magister,” corrected Meryell as she leaned her hip against the map table, her eyes focused on the marker that had been placed over Redcliffe on the map of Ferelden. “We use the term as a sort of blanket word for all Tevinter mages but Magisters are all members of the Magisterium, one of the ruling legislative bodies. Judging by our friend’s fine clothes, manners, and the fact that he had a Magister as a mentor, he’s probably an Altus. Still high class but he seems to have enough fucking sense to know that the usual blend of Tevinter we think of down here isn’t the way to go.”
“Herald!” exclaimed one of the Inquisition soldiers in the so-called Outskirts camp that overlooked the Crossroads as they rode in after leaving Redcliffe several hours before. “There’s a message for you.”
Sighing because this probably meant they were going to be delayed on their way back to Haven instead of just long enough to water their horses, Meryell swung down from the saddle of her Forder. “From who?” she asked as she reached out to take the folded paper in the woman’s hand.
“The Nightingale, ser.”
“I would ask you a question, da’lin.”
Sighing, Meryell glanced out of the corner of her eye at Solas, who had abruptly brought his horse up alongside her own. Feeling one of her ears flick in annoyance, she replied, “Sure, Chuckles. I suppose I can be fucking charitable today. What’s the question?”
“I have recently learned your last name is Verlen . I merely wonder why it is that you carry such a name.”
“You know what it means.”
“Come to the Singing Maiden when you get free tonight,” read Cullen after tugging down the note that had been pinned to the open flap of his tent. “Be ready to relax. Oh, and leave your armor in your tent.”
The handwriting was Meryell’s, he recognized it easily after seeing it so often on the reports she sent in from the field. However, the drawings underneath the text were obviously Sera’s work. Both were naked figures having quite a good time and, judging by the fur over the shoulders and the ridiculously over-proportional cock on one as well as the large tits and exaggerated pointed ears on the other, they represented himself and Meryell. The doodles also did what he assumed was their expected job of making him think about her naked, which immediately caused an uncomfortable tightness in his pants as well as an embarrassed flush across his face because Maker only knew how long it had been pinned there.
“Herald, may I speak with you?”
“Well,” Meryell drawled in response, not looking up from carefully re-wrapping the hilt of one of her daggers, “technically we’re already talking but I suppose we can continue.” As soon as Cassandra let out an annoyed huff of breath in response, she sighed and lifted her eyes enough that she could glance briefly at the other woman’s face. “Seeker, you are seriously going to have to get used to sarcasm if you’re going to keep hanging around with me and Varric.”
Cassandra scoffed, saying, “We do not hang out, as you say. And perhaps you and he would do better to be more serious.”
“You lookin’ for your pa, girlie?” asked Harvard, one of the company’s oldest veterans, as Meryell strode up into the space around the main campfire. He was probably in his seventies by now with a heavily scarred face and close-cropped white hair that showed off an equally scarred scalp. Harvard was still as smart as a whip, though, and while no longer capable in a full-on fight, he still served the company as the main face of those who whipped new recruits into shape. She recalled her own time under his hand with a certain fondness as he’d had a soft spot for the foul-mouthed brat she’d been a decade ago.
That and he’d gleefully added to her already considerable bank of curse words.
“For once I’m not, Vard,” she replied before dropping into an open camp chair that had been left around the fire. “I’m actually hunting for the Captain. Got a question about another company for him.”
He was not in bed.
Cullen blinked a few times as the realization hit for several reasons. The first was the fact was that there was a hearth to his right, the embers inside of it off only just putting off enough to make the chill of the morning bearable. Second was that he was obviously on the floor not only from the hard surface digging into his shoulder blades despite whatever he was laying on but his proximity to the wooden beams of the ceiling. Third was that there was a warm presence curled up against his left side and that arm was also numb.
If the first two hadn’t thoroughly cemented the fact that he wasn’t in his own tent, the third on it’s own would have. And he had a feeling he knew exactly who that presence was.
Meryell knew something was different as soon as they entered the little area within the Frostbacks that Haven was nestled into. There was more smoke down below them than there had been when they’d ridden out, which meant more fires in the soldiers outer camp. More fires meant more men. More men meant…
“Fangs!” she exclaimed and, without thinking of her two companions, gave her horse a swift nudge with her heels. The sturdy Ferelden Forder that Master Dennett had gifted her sprang forward like a shot into a greedy lope that ate up the road and she ignored Cassandra and Varric’s exclamations of surprise from behind her. Those fires were her company.
Her family was here.
Folke was here!
“What the fuck,” spat Meryell as she watched the Lord Seeker’s retreating back at the head of the templars trailing him, “crawled up his ass and died a decade ago?”
“He was never inclined to ambition and grandstanding. I do not understand.”
Turning to look at Cassandra, she asked the warrior, “You know him well?”
“Lord Seeker Lucius,” replied the woman, “took over the Seekers of Truth two years ago, after Lord Seeker Lambert’s death. He was always a decent man.” She shook her head and muttered on, “This is very bizarre.”
Continue reading “The Sordid Tale of Meryell Verlen, Chapter 7”