Oerik, Keaton and Fenrraor made a save journey back to Haven. During the three days they were riding together, both dwarf and warrior got to know the Dalish a bit more. He wasn’t as quiet as Keaton and either as cheerful as Oerik. However, he shared with them some stories about his hunting days, and discussed about weapons and tactics with the warrior. Both agents felt he was already a member of the group. During their way back, Oerik wrote the plan and main details of a book based on what happened in Vintiver. He expected to show it to Varric Tethras: he was a well-known writer, so he could probably give Oerik a great feedback and indications to publish the story if it was worthy enough.
It’d been almost fifteen days since they left the Inquisition. They reached Haven at night, so they headed for the tents as soon as they could: a warm rest was more than needed. The following morning, they reported the mission details to Leliana, and introduce their new partner. However, Fenrraor refused to join the organisation.
- I’ll stay as long as they stay, but I’m no soldier, so I’m not going to follow your orders. - the hunter curtly said.
The Nightingale nodded, as she didn’t want any confrontation with the Dalish. Although he was not officially with the Inquisition, he was gladly helping their agents, so in the end he was aiding the organisation’s goals anyway.
- As currently you don’t have any mage in your team, I’d like to assign you a new one. Talk with Commander Cullen to see if there’s any available to help you on your next mission.
- Are we leaving again? - Oerik said, still tired from their last journey.
- That’s right, master dwarf. Please, head as soon as you can to the chantry and ask Ambassador Montyliet about your new task. She has the details.
- I may ask, lady Leliana… what was on the letter we gave to King Alistair? - the dwarf added.
- That’s not of your business. - she turned around to her working desk.
- With all respects, milady, we risked our lives on this mission. I think we deserve to know the whole thing about it. - he insisted.
She sighed and, after a few seconds, she looked back to the agents.
- We’re receiving reports of possible Tevinter magisters travelling around Ferelden and Orlais. We still don’t know why they’re here. Taking advantage of the mage rebellion, perhaps? Your findings in the Brecilian Forest suggest us that elven slavery might be involved, but we need more clues. I wanted to warn the king about them: Ferelden has already countless enemies, and now a Breach in the sky is not helping at all.
Keaton noticed an anger countenance on Fenrraor. The warrior knew about Tevinters travelling to poor cities’ alienages in order to kidnap elves and sell them as slaves back in the Imperium. He guessed Fenrraor was not glad to hear about the magisters.
- If you see anything related with Tevinter during your next missions, inform me or any of my agents, and be cautious. We still don’t know what they’re looking for.
The agents left the tent after saying farewell to the Spy Master, and headed for to the chantry. Thinking about seeing again the beautiful Ambassador again, Oerik was smiling widely.
- Please, come in.
The agents were invited to enter Josephine’s room. With her, there was a man colourfully dressed, who was wearing a big hat with a couple of white feathers.
- Allow me to introduce you Gerald Oblige. He’ll be your contact in your next mission. - she said.
The man took off his hat and made an exaggerated reverence to the agents.
- Enchantée, messieurs.
- You’ll be travelling to Orlais, so Gerald will help you with locations and polite Orlesian courtesy. He’s quite an expert on the matter.
Gerald bowed his head to Josephine appreciating what she said about him.
- Comte Voychek Neruda has asked the Inquisition for help. His lands are being attacked by darkspawn, just in time when his children were about to come back from visiting some relatives in Val Royeaux. As his troops are fighting the darkspawn, he doesn’t have anyone to escort his son and daughter back home. Needless to say that doing favours to noble families will grant future benefits to us, so the success of your mission will be measured on how far he will help us back. Gerald already has the rest of the details.
In that moment, Cullen entered the room.
- Ambassador, could I…? Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t know you had guests.
- Come in, Commander. They were about to leave, if they don’t have any further questions.
- In fact, - Oerik said. - we were willing to speak with you, Commander. Leliana wants a mage to join us for our next task.
- Yes, of course. - Cullen knit his brows, clearly processing a lot of information at the same time. - I think there’s a couple of new mages still not assigned to any group of agents. If you can ask Sergeant Ghislain, she’ll be able to tell you where to find one of them. You’ll see the Sergeant at the training grounds. Now, if you please excuse us…
The agents thanked both Cullen and Josephine for the information and left the room with Gerald. During the three minutes they took to reach the recruitment area, the Orlesian already asked ten questions to each agent. It seemed the new member was even more talkative than Oerik, which looked pretty impossible to the rest.
Sergeant Ghislain was giving some sort of speech to the conscripts, who seemed about to pee in their paints. While the woman was walking in front of them, she looked to each one in the eye, which made them freeze. Any of the agents was willing to confront the Sergeant, but then suddenly Keaton shouted.
- HEY, BLONDIE! WE NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
Everyone in the training grounds hold their breath. They all new that moving a finger would likely mean calling the Sergeant’s attention. She was looking daggers at Keaton, who just shrugged his shoulders when he saw Oerik walking slowly backwards. Ghislain raised her sword to Keaton’s direction.
- You won’t call me that again.
Keaton took a sword and shield from one of the weapon racks, ready to answer the woman’s challenge. He started to walk around her.
- And you won’t point me again with a weapon, Sergeant. I won’t be soft only because you’re a woman.
- I’m not here to entertain you, moron.
They both got into a fight no one was able to tell how was going to end. Keaton and Ghislain were truly skilled warriors, and none of them was going to lose ground to the other. After a few minutes, people started to debate in whispers who was winning.
- Is it just me or… - Oerik told the agents.
- There’s sexual tension there, yes. - Fenrraor mentioned with crossed arms.
- Phew, I’m glad we have the big guy with us. I don’t want to get on his bad side! - Gerald added with a laugh. - So, who’s winning?
- Two silvers for Keaton. - the dwarf said.
- Count me in. I also think he’ll make it. - the elf was enjoying all that.
- STOP, BOTH OF YOU! - Commander Cullen appeared on the training grounds and told off the fighters. - What’s all this, Sergeant? Get back to your duties, immediately.
- Yes, sir. - she said.
- And you. - Cullen turned to Keaton. - You’re going to train the new recruits with Sergeant Ghislain. I like your fighting style.
- Thanks, sir.
- Pardon me? - Ghislain was furious. - He’s just an agent, why should he…
- Because the more experienced warriors the conscripts fight with, the more they’ll learn. And that’s an order, Sergeant, I don’t have to discuss it with you.
- Yes, Commander. My apologises, sir. - the woman lowered her head.
- Good. Now, the agents that were looking for a mage. There’s one at the tavern called Dazkar that’s available for new missions. - he turned to the recruits to add. - NOW EVERYONE GET BACK TO WORK!
Fenrraor, Oerik and Gerald set off to the tavern, leaving the warrior with his new duty and hoping that the woman in charge wouldn’t pull his skin off. Since then, the training became harder for the conscripts that day. Ghislain was trying to demonstrate somehow her abilities and her rank before Keaton. However, the warrior was focused on his task of helping the recruits and answering their questions. The soldiers were wishing to have their turn with Keaton, as the Sergeant was becoming harsher with every passing minute.
When the training was over, Keaton approached her while she was putting out her helmet. Her blond wavy hair fell down over her lustrous armour, while her cold eyes glaring at the warrior, waiting for his words. However, he was speechless before her beauty figure. She was not only a brave warrior, but also a fascinating woman. As Keaton was just standing in front of her, Ghislain ended up talking.
- You can dismiss now.
- Hum… yes, sure. Yes. I just wanted to return you this.
He handed over the weapons he used for the exercises, staring at the Sergeant’s brown eyes. Once she took them, she made a gesture to Keaton in order to know what else he wanted to say, as he was still standing there.
- Thanks? - she ended up saying on a sarcastic tone.
- Oh, yes, thanks. Good job with the conscripts.
- Of course I do a good job, I wouldn’t be Sergeant otherwise. - she turned away, leaving the warrior alone.
Some recruits were watching the whole situation, and they showed disapproving faces and gestures before Keaton’s fail on talking with the Sergeant. When she walked by their side, she shouted.
- WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT! TWO HUNDRED SIT-UPS, NOW!
Keaton let out a long sigh, and waved his head while rubbing the back of his head. "Holy Andraste, what were you thinking, stupid.” he told himself off as he headed for his tend to rest.
While Keaton was on the training grounds, the rest of the agents arrived to the tavern, where there was a crowd around one of the tables. They had to make their way between the curious to see what was going on. A tiny woman just knocked out with a punch a well-built man. Fenrraor realised she was wearing fingerless leather gloves reinforced with some kind of metal pieces at its knuckles. Her ice-blue eyes shined with anger when looking around and asking on a shout:
- Anyone else thinks I’m going to sleep with him only by paying me a beer?
She was short, and probably any of the present men could beat her, but her vigour and defiance were enough to make everyone get back to their business. She sat down, with her back to the agents, and drank from her jar. By the way she fought and her leather armour, she was probably a warrior. Her ash blonde hair was tied on bun hold with an ornamented wooden stick.
"Hmm, interesting. How does such a small person fight?” Fenrraor asked to himself.
“Why does a young human have white hair?” - Oerik thought.
- Where’s the music? - Gerald said while holding his lute.
- I think this is not the best timing for music, friend. - the elf told the human.
With sad expression, Gerald put away the instrument. Oerik approached the bartender, Flissa. By the way she talked, Fenrraor worked out they already knew each other, and that the young woman was quite interested on the dwarf.
- I’ll tell you about our mission later, milady. We have to find first a mage called Dazkar. Have you seen him?
- Not him: her. She’s the pretty little fury over there. She didn’t let any man get close to her since she arrived. She’s funny, so cute and dangerous at the same time, isn’t it?
Flissa was pointing to the white haired lady who had just punched down the poor soul that was leaving the place with broken nose. As happened with the Sergeant, the agents felt that getting close to her was quite a dangerous task. Before they could make any comment, though, Fenrraor and Oerik saw Gerald already sat down with the mage.
- Bonjour! I’m Gerald Oblige. What’re you drinking?
He was smiling and firmly stretching out his hand. Oerik gulped, expecting her to crush the Orlesian’s face. Fenrraor crossed his arms, interested on the situation.
- I’m not going to suck your dick even if you buy me a beer. Now, go away. - she harshly answered.
- Not like I was expecting that. I just wanted to introduce you your new team: me, the dwarf and the Dalish.
When Gerald mentioned them, Oerik hit his face with his palm, while Fenrraor approached and sat down with the minstrel. The dwarf ended up joining the table, while the lady analysed them one by one with a suspicious look.
- We’re about to travel to Orlais, isn’t that exiting? I haven’t been there for months, and it’s always nice to come back home. When I was younger…
- You can call me Dazkar. - she shook Gerald’s hand, making him stop talking. Then, he gently kissed her fingers, which made her furrow her brow in disgust.
- These are Oerik and Fenrraor, and we also have a giant warrior called Keaton coming with us. And we’re leaving in two days! Isn’t that gorgeous? Well, I’m going to work a bit; we need music in this place!
None of the agents could answer him; he just stood up and started to play in the middle of the inn. There were annoyed faces at first, but soon everyone got used to the music and started to laugh and sing. Meanwhile, Oerik went with Fenrraor to the counter to order some beers.
- I’m glad she’s not another tall guy as you. It’s nice having someone about my height in the team. - Oerik said while waiting for the drinks.
- She doesn’t look like a mage. I wonder which kind of powers she has. - the elf answered.
- I think I don’t want to find out. She scares me.
The Dalish laughed a bit. Then, they both went back to the table with drinks for them and the young lady.
- This… this is just a peace offering… - Oerik cautiously said when handing Dazkar a mug.
- Keep calm, I always got on well with dwarfs.
She smiled and winked at him before swallowing half of her drink. Fenrraor laughed in the inside: she was the weirdest human he had ever met. Oerik was relieved by her comment, so he started a nice chat to get to know her.
- I’m not a common dwarf: I’m Oerik, hero of Redcliff! I once fought against undead…
- Well, I guess I’m going to have some rest, too.
Fenrraor stood up to leave, as Gerald had stopped playing his music and the tavern was slowly getting empty. It was almost midnight, and they had already drunk a couple of beers together while having a relaxed conversation. Mostly, it was Oerik who talked, but Dazkar introduced herself a bit. She was a mage from the Nevarran Circle of Magi, and she had to run away when the civil war started. She didn’t want to join the rebellion, so the Circle was no longer a safe place for her. She was heading south when she knew about the Inquisition. Out of the Circle, she had nowhere to return; therefore, working for the only truly operative organisation seemed the best idea. The agents liked the way she thought, and they didn’t ask any further about her. Oerik could sense that the mage was looking curiously to Fenrraor when the Dalish was not watching, and she avoided eye contact with the elf all the time. "What problem does she have with Dalish…?” he asked to himself. The dwarf was already tipsy, his cheeks the same colour as the tavern’s torches. When Fenrraor finally left, Dazkar stood up too.
- I guess I’m going to have another beer.
- And another one for me, young lady. - Oerik said while joining the mage on her way to the counter. - I’m sure you can’t match me drinking pints.
- Sure, sure… And I bet you’re not going to pay all the rounds if I can take more than you.
Once in the counter, Oerik strongly hit with both hands on the board.
- Flissa! Listen, honey, can you please bring us a couple of beers? This is a drinking competition!
None seemed to care about what the dwarf shouted, as most of the people left were already drunk. They grabbed one jar each and sat back on the table.
- As we’re going to travel together, what about playing a game to know each other better instead of just drinking? Have you ever heard about “truth or dare”? - Dazkar suggested and, as the dwarf negated with his head, she went on with the explanation. - By turns, we choose truth or dare. If you answer truth, then you absolutely have to tell the truth on whatever I ask, and I’ll drink. If you choose dare, you have to do what I dared you to, and I’ll drink too. You can deny the answer or the dare by drinking yourself. The game ends when one of us is knocked out. Do you get it?
- Nice! It looks easy enough. - he rose up his drink in a toast. - Do you want to start, then?
- Alright! - she rested her cheek on her hand. - Truth or dare? Needless to say, that you can’t lie. If I catch you, you’ll have to drink the whole pint.
- Of course, young lady. I’ll choose dare.
- Good… - she touched her chin, thinking. - Let’s see, let’s see… Got it! I dare you to make Flissa tell you her underwear’s colour. - then she chuckled.
Oerik laughed evilly when he stood up and went to talk with the bartender. He talked to her when she was all alone. He just asked her straight, so she blushed. However, she laughed afterwards and whispered something to Oerik’s ear, while he was smiling to Dazkar. She raised her jar, accepting her defeat. Before returning to the table, the dwarf stood up on a stool and gave Flissa a kiss on her cheek.
- So, which colour? - Dazkar asked when he sat down again.
- You wanted me to figure it out, not to tell you. - he took his jar and looked amused at her.
- Point. You win. - she rose up her free hand and bowed her head on a courteous apologise, and then she drank. - Alright, my turn. I choose truth.
- Weeell, well, well, tell me… which colour is “your” underwear?
- Why don’t you find out yourself?
Both laughed, it was an innocent joke.
- It’d be a story worth being told, but it’s something improper to do in a place like this. – he chuckled. - Now, the true question. Why don’t you tell me what do you like to do when you’re on your own?
- That’s an easy one. You’ll lose soon if you keep it like this! – after a giggle, she went on. Let’s see, when I’m on my own… I guess I like watching the nature around me. A forest, the sea, the sky… It’s relaxing. That’s cute about me, isn’t it? - she roguish smiled. - Now, you drink.
- I see… I hope it’s true, I’m very observant. - he gulped some beer.
- So, what’s your choice now, master dwarf?
- I’ll change to truth now. Let’s see what you ask.
- Alright. - she looked around for an idea while tangling a lock of her hair between her fingers. - What about… Are you in any relationship? You know, married, dating someone…
- Well, right now there’s something starting between Flissa and me. - he softly laughed while looking to the bartender. - She’s so pretty, I really feel lucky she put her eyes on me. Now… - he got his attention back to Dazkar. - You drink.
- Oh, really, with the bartender, right? - she looked at him with her eyes half-closed, suspiciously.
- What, you don’t believe it? You can go and ask her yourself.
She ended up drinking, but not so convinced about the dwarf answer.
- Alright. I don’t want to stand up so I chose truth one more time. - she said.
- So you like asking about other people’s relationships? Tell me, Dazkar; are you interested in the Dalish, right? In Fenrraor.
- That’s stupid! I’m not interested at all! - she looked away, clearly upset but blushed at the same time. - C’mon, drink.
- You’re not expecting me to believe that, aren’t you, smarty-pants? – the dwarf smiled while denying the answer with his finger. - I can smell your lie from miles away. And I’ve studied dramatic arts; I know what I’m talking about.
- It’s just weird to see a Dalish around here, nothing else. - she said almost in a whisper, playing dumb with his elbow on the table.
- Your game, your rules, and those say you have to take now your whole pint - he thought that she probably would get upset by the comment, so he added. - But don’t worry, we can make an arrangement and drink both a bit! - he winked at her.
Dazkar noticed he was quite drunk already. As an answer, she took her jar and downed her beer in one go. Then, she dried her lips with her hand and raised a menacing finger.
- One word about this to anyone and you’re a dead dwarf.
He nodded at her threat. Under normal circumstances he’d be scared of her, but he was too intoxicated to overthink anything.
- I’m going to change again. I choose dare this time! - he claimed.
- Alright. - she mischievously smiled. - Stand up, climb over those soldiers’ table and take off your clothes while clucking like a chicken.
- Oh, c’mon… what kind of dare is this? I’ll drink, because that ish… - he hardly hiccupped. - just a way to make fffun of me. - then he took his jar and gulped.
“This is a piece of cake”, Dazkar thought while evilly smiling.
- Making fun of the other is the true point of this game, master dwarf. But hey, now is your turn to do it. I’ll choose dare, too.
- Fair enough. Hic! I dare you to do the same you asked me. - the dwarf said while pointing her with a menacing finger.
- I’m afraid you’ll have to drink again: you can’t repeat a dare, so you have to pay for your lack of creativity. - Dazkar told him very serious, trying to cheat him.
- Then I dare you to pay Fenrraor a vishit and… Hic! Take off your clothes before him! - Oerik was really drunk and was getting worse by seconds. Even Flissa realised it, because the dwarf was talking almost in a shout.
- I’m going to drink instead but only because he’s probably sleeping and I don’t want to wake him up. – she chugged her beer while making a sign to the bartender, in order to let her know everything was under control. - Your turn. Truth or dare?
- Tru… Hic! Truth! - the dwarf’s cheeks were red as a beetroot.
- Good. Tell me: is Fenrraor trustworthy? - Dazkar gravely asked.
- Well, I don’t know him enoghhhh to shay sho, we’ve be… Hic! Been travelling together shortly.
- But do you trust him?
- Aye. - Oerik nodded.
For a moment he seemed to be back on himself. However, he shown a funny smile afterwards that made the mage laugh. She took some of her beer, still not as intoxicated as the dwarf.
- My turn, I guess. True again.
The dwarf suddenly stared at Dazkar with an amazed looking during a few seconds.
- Your hair… You hair is white! - he took his hands to his head, extremely surprised, which made Dazkar break out in laughter. - Why!?!
- I won’t get into details you won’t understand, but to sum up it was a magic experiment that went wrong. Colourful explosions and strange outcomes, one of them was my hair. I was naturally brunette. - she sweetly smiled. - Your turn to drink.
- So… are you an experiment? - Oerik asked suddenly serious.
- Something like that. - Dazkar seemed sad during a second, but then she smiled again to Oerik, who didn’t notice a bit. - If you want to know more, you’ll have to wait until the next round. Now, drink and choose. Truth or dare?
- Dare! HIC! - he said after a long gulp.
- This time you’ll have to go straight to Flissa and bring two jars without spilling a single drop of beer. Ready?
- What sort of dare is that!? - Oerik laughed with confidence.
However, when he stood up, he almost fell down to the floor. He managed to hold on with his hands on the table. "One step at a time, one step…” he kept on thinking to himself. He reached the counter, but not precisely on a straight way. Somehow, he managed to talk to Flissa, who served him the mugs with clear disappointment. Unexpectedly, he was able to reach the table back safe and sound, and so the drinks. Dazkar laughed before the focused face the dwarf had during his journey back from the counter.
- Not bad, not bad at all. Here’s to you! - she toasted and drank. – It’s my turn again. Which truth do you want me to tell you this time?
- You’re a hard nut to crack, young lady…
He stared at her like thinking but, after burping loudly, he suddenly fell asleep over the table. His head made a terrible noise when it hit the board, but the only sound that came out from his mouth was a snore.
- And you’re a wimpy, old dwarf.
Dazkar stood up and, with Flissa’s help; they carried Oerik to the bartender’s room. After paying for the beers, the mage left the tavern. It was late already, and she looked to the moon with a smile. She let out a sigh and set off to her cabin. She was not going to admit it, but she was eager to start her first mission with the agents.