Title: A Bard's Love
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/pairing- The Warden, Leliana
Disclaimer- DAO (c) BioWare
Dragon Age: A Bard's Love
Things Have Changed
Cold and hard rocks made their imprint on Cogdale's face. Red marks across his forehead and cheeks. For a second Cogdale had thought he was dead. The Antivan Crow Leone had fellow crows with him and they had pounced on him. A rather pathetic way to die compared to the trap that Zevran had set up 2 years ago during the Blight. But once he opened his hard clenched eyes he realized it was only Leliana and Helena, not knowing the combined force of 2 women could knock him over onto the street. Leone was laughing away at the scene as both women tried to sooth the scratches on his face.
"Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I am so sorry dear!" Leliana said licking her dress and using it to calm the wounds. Helena did her best with what little magic she wanted to use. "I expected you to be rock solid and not flinch." Helena said the hum from the magic in her palms making her voice sound awkward.
"Yeah I'm the exaaact opposite of what the stories make me out to be there mage." Cogdale said getting back up on his feet. Leone's laugh had diminished into random spurts of chuckles.
"Warden, I would add that to the list of things you didn't expect." Leone continued. "If I were to return to the Crows I would recommend both of you to them." Leone snickered. "I've been offered it before by a friend of yours." Leliana said, still keeping her unbinding attention on her loved one. Cogdale waved her off; all he had was a black eye. Nothing he couldn't handle with a few nights with some cold sheltered meat to the eye.
Cogdale kept the eye closed however, the cold wind brushing against it caused the eye to uncontrollably blink. Returning back to his conversation with Leone, Cogdale gave the 2 women a thumbs up so they didn't have to worry about him. "Leliana, Helena? Please go back to the tavern and find Garrden. I think he'll want to be apart of our decision." Cogdale suggested. Leliana nodded and grabbed Helena as they went to fetch the young elf.
"Well now that event has settled, Lets barter Crow." Cogdale said crossing his arms. Whenever he crossed his arms he made him more comfortable when he felt vulnerable. "Oh? Are now just calling each other by our "previous" Titles Warden?" Leone prodded at Cogdale. Cogdale only shrugged trying his best to seem more confident then he actually was with another Crow. Last time he tried to converse with a Crow he was naïve enough to think Zevran was just going to relieve tension on his shoulders with an "Antivan Massage" How awkward it was for him to rush out of the elf's tent half naked.
"Don't worry Cogdale, I'm definitely an anomaly within the Antivan Crows. I only love women." Leone said, somehow reading Cogdale's thoughts. Cogdale was a little freaked out about how he could've known about what he was thinking but fixed himself back into a self-confident stance. One that would rival any senior warden's.
relax." Leone said gesturing with his hands for Cogdale to calm down. "Wow the blight really makes people uptight." Leone said with a pout face. Cogdale stubbornly let go of his stoic attitude. "Alright my proposition of our trade, and hear me out before interrupting." Leone threw his hand out and strangely spoke with his hands as he read out his offer.
"I will offer my caravan for travel to wherever your heart desires, if you help me find and possibly save this person." Finishing his strange show of hands he quickly placed his hands behind his back. "Sounds simple enough. But things are never as easy as they sound." Cogdale said. "Ah good to see you have some intelligence up in that tainted head of yours." Leone snarked with quick response.
"You are right, it won't be easy. As you see the person I'm after isn't a target from a dead drop or something. It someone I care about with all my heart." Leone stopped. "But the catch is? She is dead and you want to save her from the fade, or wait better yet! The Void! Lets add some spin to that! The Infamous Black City!" Cogdale's rude response even shocked himself. "My apologies, It must be the drama of not having a ticket out of this city."
Leone nodded and let Cogdale know it was alright. "The catch you are waiting for is that she is a mage. She is locked up in The Circle of Magi in Montsimmard. She is declared an apostate because she escaped The Circle nearly 3 years ago." Cogdale took a step back; surprised the man had spilled his gall to him. Especially when the man was an Antivan Crow. "Wow, now that is definitely a big catch to this trade." Cogdale said itching his chin. Leliana and the other 2 finally returned, slightly out of breath from running in a leg tight dress. "Alright everyone is here and accounted for cept for Bodahn." Leliana said patting both Helena and Garrden on the head.
"Alright, Leone tell them what you told me." Cogdale said taking a step back. "May I say something first." Garrden interjected. "I have to say this but both you! And Leliana have never looked as bad as you do right now." Garrden laugh pointing at Cogdale, "You have a black eye from who knows where and a broken nose." Garrden then turned his finger and pointed it to Leliana. "And you have a massive welt on your forehead. I've known you only 2 or 3 months but still that is pretty bad." Garrden finished with a faux kick of dirt on the wet street.
for that extremely inappropriate and random interruption." Cogdale said annoyed and now self-conscious of his broken nose once more. "Please Leone, don't let the annoying Elf distract you, continue." Leliana said helping him get back on topic. "Okay, I'm offering the three of you my Caravan for travel to anywhere, free of charge if you help me find a girl that I care deeply for who is locked away in Montsimmard." Leone repeated.
"The Circle of Magi?" Leliana asked. "Yes The Circle." Leone answered. "She is an apostate mage of three years just recently a "mouse" of mine told me the Templars had caught her and are sentencing her to death." Leone finished, now waiting for the trio to answer his proposition. "I can't
" Helena suddenly stuttered. "I can't go back to The Circle, any Circle. I am an apostate. White Templars are not so forgiving to Apostates." Helena said with fear trembling in every syllable she let ride off her tongue. "If you don't want to come Helena we are not forcing you to. But I'm in agreement." Cogdale said shaking Leone's hand. "Glad to have you on aboard." Leone said ecstatically.
"I need a little bit excitement." Leliana walked over and shook Leone's hand as well. "I'll protect you Helena if you come." Leliana said trying to coach Helena into coming. "You bet your ass I'm in!" Garrden said jumping up and slapping Leone's hand, which left a stinging sensation in the Antivan's hand. "Alright."
"Come on Helena, we need you with us." "It just won't be the same without you." "Please! If you do I'll totally let you feel my abs!" So much peer pressure made Helena cave in. "Oh alright! I'll go but I won't let myself be exposed! I won't be using any magic when we get there
. Garrden give me one of your blades." Helena demanded, almost ripping it from its sheath.
"Wo! Okay, I like this part of you, so
. Feisty!" Garrden said jumping up and down. "With the recent attacks by straggling Darkspawn around Orlais the trip won't be as easy as it should." Leone said. "I'm guessing it could take us a week and a half to get there. But I'll tell you right now, we won't be strolling into The Circle." The Crow added.
"Of course, of course." Garrden spat out rolling his eyes. "He is quite the runt isn't he?" Leone asked about Garrden. "Yep." The rest said. "Hey! I'm right here." Garrden blurted out showing he was offended by the lack of respect he was shown.
"We'll suit up and gather our gear and meet you
where exactly?" Cogdale asked. Leone snapped his fingers after thinking to himself for a few seconds. "How bout outside the western gate of Lydes? It will take me a good hour or so to gather my caravan up and plant myself at the door for you. Enough time for you to suit up as it were." Leone suggested. Cogdale nodded. The group parted ways with Leone and made their way back to the tavern to gather everything.
"I have a gut feeling something awful is going to happen at Montsimmard." Cogdale said patting his stomach. "Oh boy, you and your gut feelings always seem to be right." Garrden said patting Cogdale's stomach in response. Cogdale took a step back so Garrden would get the hint to stop acting stupid. Garrden raised his hands getting the picture loud and clear. A few street urchins who had been taking notice of Leliana and Helena taking laps between the tavern and the conversation earlier had followed them.
"S'il vous plaît, vous avez l'argent à épargner?" one of the decrepit men asked their fingers cracked and popped whenever they moved. Their movement was also very sudden and rapid. Almost as if they were the ghouls of Lothering. Cogdale shook his head, although his consciousness told him to give them 1 or 2 sovereign, he knew the group would need every last bit they had to make it through the "Extravagant Orlais."
Cogdale decided to speed past the 3 urchins, and waved for the others to do the same. But the men followed at the same pace. "Cogdale, please just give them something." Leliana tugged on his arm as she seemed strangely disturbed by these men.
"Why? If we ignore them long enough they'll get bored or something and leave us alone." Cogdale said. "They won't
" Leliana whispered in his left ear. Cogdale suddenly knew these poor men weren't just poor men. "These urchins are Du Rats des Dents, The Rat's Teeth. Marjolaine and other bards used them on lower targets that we didn't have our divided attention to." Leliana continued. "Thing is, they are extremely well trained fighters. Normally bards wouldn't pay lowly assassins for said jobs. But in a way we were afraid of these men. If we didn't pay them their 50 bits they had the skill and fervor to hurt us." She said grabbing Cogdale's hand and making it into a fist. "They recognized me, we're going to have to fight sooner or later, they'll follow us until we are all alone." She said to the 3 of them.
Although obvious the 4 of them were conversing to deal with the Rats, the men did nothing but continue to beg for coin. "We can take them right here! Right now!" Garrden said popping his knuckles and neck to prove he was ready. Leliana shook her head. "I'm in no condition to be fighting, Helena doesn't have her stave and Cogdale only has his fists." Leliana argued with the elf until Cogdale broke the 2 of them up. "Enough, let us get to our room and ready up, these men seem to want to be extremely patient and inconspicuous to us and common Orlesian folk."
"Exactly let us ready for a fight." Leliana said slapping Garrden lightly on the face. The walk back to the tavern was the most tense and nerve wracking walk Cogdale has ever had except for the adventure into the deep roads with his senses to darkspawn always sparking at every second he breathed.
The 4 of them stayed quite, only communicating via their eyes between each other. Still the urchins known as The Rat's Teeth were at their heels pretending to be lowly beggars. "Pourquoi pensez-vous ignorer les pauvres âmes nous?" whispered behind them. After what seemed to be an hour itself they reached the tavern they were staying at. They opened the door to see the tavern's workers cleaning up after the previous night's expected mess.
Cogdale looked back to see if the Rats had followed them, luckily all taverns have a universal law to not allow people without coin. "Alright lets get ready." Cogdale said unlocking the room's door. The room was just as he left it when he carried the unconscious Leliana to the bed. "I hope Leone doesn't mind us being late." Leliana said reaching for her bag that held all of her fighting items. "You actually think this fight will be that difficult?" Helena asked grabbing her stave and putting it in her baldric's hold.
"Trust me beautiful, these men are scary good. Like I said before, even the most skilled bards are afraid of them." Leliana explained removing her dress. "Would they give Crows a run for their money?" Garrden asked curiously. Leliana shook her head. "They aren't that good."
"So why are you afraid of them? If Zevran failed at killing me why so serious about The Rats?" Cogdale asked snapping his cuirass over the clothing he had on.
I don't know." Leliana said. But Cogdale knew better, Leliana was hiding something about these men. Something she didn't want to put worry on the 3 of them. He accepted it for now but once they had time to talk he would definitely confront her about it. It has to do with something about Marjolaine. He could feel it in his bones. Even his broken nose tingled in agreement.
Garrden was already armored up in his mix gallery of armor taken from Templars, Darkspawn and random armored men so he just waited for the rest of them to finish getting ready by leaning against the door. Helena was the next to finish up keeping her most needed potions right where her hands would rest on her belt. She tested this strategy while she too waited for Cogdale and Leliana to finish with their armor. Cogdale had finish putting both pauldrons on and his cuirass. He began putting his thigh and knee guards on when Helena came over to help him with his armor.
"Thanks for the help, still with this improved armor of mine it is still a pain in my ass to put back on every time." Cogdale grunted shoving his foot into a boot. "I can see that." Helena said giggling as she finished putting his belt through the final loop of its faulds. The last part he had to throw on was his chausses for his thighs but with the faulds put on first it was extremely hard to bend his arm with his gauntlets on.
"Sometimes I envy you mages on wearing just
robes." Cogdale said hitting his armor after finishing putting it on. "And visa versa Cogdale" Helena said. "You don't know how many times I've had some nasty wounds for not wearing any strong and brawny armor compared to these several leather pieces I wear." She argued.
Cogdale laughed, still nervous after catching Leliana's nervous bug. He pulled his Nevarran blade out of the crude sheath Bodahn had made for it when he unloaded the group's items the other night. He then shoved into his sheath that was still mistakenly on the belt of his waist.
"This has been itching at the nape of my neck for weeks Cogdale but I have to ask, Why do you fight without a shield." Helena asked keeping her eyes on Cogdale but helping Leliana put on all of her armor starting with her spaulders.
"It is the way my Father taught my brother and I." Cogdale said. "My Father learned the technique when he traveled the Anderfels, he says its an Anders' technique. More specifically it is named The Anders' Longsword Fighting Skill. Or, in Anderfels tongue "Anders 'Langschwert kämpfen und Verteidigungstechnik." A mouthful I know."
"You speak Anderfels?" Leliana asked astonished. "A little bit, only a few things I read and taught myself." Cogdale said. "So how does a Nevarran longsword that resembles a Tevinter Saw Blade work with the technique?" Helena asked finishing on Leliana's Vambrace of her left arm.
"It is rather effective if you haven't seen already, I did demonstrate it on the darkspawn a couple weeks ago remember?" Cogdale said warming up Helena's memory. "Oh yeah, amazing. You are just a melting pot of Thedas aren't you Cogdale?" Helena said with a smile. "I guess so." Cogdale smiled back somewhat comforted by Helena's positive attitude for the coming fight.
"One of these times you will have to tell me about your family Cogdale." Helena said as she continued to add each layer of Leliana's rerebrace on her right arm. "Not until he tells me Helena." Leliana pouted with a frown. "Oh! I didn't know he
I apologize. Please forgive me friend." Helena said embarrassed. Cogdale could only feel guilty for not telling Leliana about his family. Even after 2 years of knowing her and the 5 months of being romantically involved with her.
After another 10 minutes of planning and stretching they finally exited their room. The Tavern reeked of new alcohol that must've been delivered recently as the aroma traveled its way into the hallway where all the rooms were aligned. Cogdale covered his nose to stop the scent from distracting him. As they reached the front door he slammed his helmet on his head and clamped a brace for his chin inside the helmet.
Outside the tavern the deadly urchins were nowhere to be seen. Confusing everyone. "Be alert Cogdale, they are assassins, and they always have a plan of some sort." Leliana reassured him. All 4 of them had their weapons at the ready. Slowly walking out the door and scanning their horizon. "You've watched them before Leliana." Garrden said "Do they have some sort of ambush set up for us?" He asked twirling his daggers in both hands as a nervous tick.
"No these men are honorable assassins, they confront. They don't hide in the shadows. They should be out here." She answered. "Well they aren't and I don't like it one bit." Garrden replied stamping his feet. By that time the wet street was now dry, but snow had caught up with them from the Frostback mountains and Halamshiral as it was falling on their heads. "Perhaps that's a hint from Andraste?" Helena said with the most wisdom out of all of them that day. "Perhaps
. You're right." Leliana said turning back around and looking up above the skyline of the tavern.
There they were, but it wasn't 3 urchins but a dozen of them standing more still then any golem. They exposed their dual blades and slashed them against each other making a loud but short screeching sound that caused the group to wince from the collective of the sound. "I thought you said they confront, not sneak!" Garrden said raising his daggers into a defense stance.
"I guess things have changed!" Leliana said as all Rats dove upon them, Blades raised high as griffon wings.