Hawke’s Flight, Chapter Thirty-One

by artrald

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*

Raven

This from Osprey: it is to be discussed by the Enchanters tonight. Bring this to the Divine BY HAND. If this leaks, or Maker forbid it is agreed and proclaimed, there will be cities in flames from Ferelden to the Anderfels.

Mynah

WHEREAS it is guaranteed in the Rule of the Circle that the Rights of the Maker’s Gifted are respected and understood, as the trusted servants of wider humanity under the proscriptions of the Chant;

WHEREAS the Rights of the Gifted of Dairsmuid Circle, of Kirkwall Gallows Circle, of Circles throughout Rivain, of sundry others under other temporal kingdoms and the domain of the Chantry, and not forgetting the Rights of those not yet found by the Circle and incorrectly branded with apostasy, are known and attested to have been most thoroughly infringed, in cases including but not limited to the abuse of the Refuge of Tranquility as punishment and threat, the illegal, arbitrary and unjust declaration of Annulment in Kirkwall, the illegal order for the dissolution of the Resolutionist Party, and diverse and manifold other abuses both corporal and mental;

WHEREAS the Templars our long-beloved friends and respected guardians have fallen most shockingly away from the conduct guaranteed in the Accords of Nevarra, to the dishonour of their name, their heritage and the wider Chantry;

WHEREAS the Rule has been honoured more in the breach than the obeisance among the guardians of Circles across Southern Thedas;

WE THE CIRCLE declare the dissolution of the Resolutionist Party: for a peaceful and orderly resolution to the issues facing Thedas this day shall be no longer vainly sought.

WE THE CIRCLE do declare and assert that we shall keep faith no longer with those who have fallen away.

AND THIS DAY the thirtieth of Ferventis in the thirty-seventh year of the rule of Divine Justinia is the first day upon which the Circle of Mages shall look for guardianship nowhere but their own.

TO THE APOSTATES OF THEDAS we offer sanctuary and succor under our roof. We require only that you refrain from acts of maleficence as defined under the Rule of the Circle.

TO THE CHANTRY OF THE MAKER we cry out for leadership in this time of madness. We reaffirm our dedication to the Chant of Light and our ultimate loyalty to the White Divine. We repudiate all allegations of apostasy: in suffering have we kept faith, and in perpetuity do we retain this commitment.

TO THE ORDER OF THE TEMPLE OF THE MAKER we extend this message. We recognise your claims to authority over us for what they are: the ‘authority’ of the wolf over the hart, and the rule of force over reason. Do not presume to dictate to us until you have returned your own house to righteousness. You who have discarded the Rule long ago dare to claim that we have broken it. Your assistance is no longer welcome. Do not presume to return to the places from which we have expelled you. This is your first, your last and your only warning.

*

Mynah

This arrived this morning. It is not a question of if, now, but of when and how.

Raven

Most Holy,

In light of the rising of Kirkwall Circle I have this day sent the order for all of the Circles of Thedas to be placed under emergency measures for the duration of this crisis.

The fault lies with a small faction within the Circles: the so-called Resolutionists, a group of sanctioned dissidents which has been permitted by the First Enchanters as an attempt to give the Circle’s inevitable malcontents an outlet short of apostasy, a forum to discuss changes and set the world to rights without lifting a finger or leaving the comfort of their common rooms. Needless to say the experiment has failed; but when informed of this, Grand Enchanter Fiona inexplicably both dubbed the order illegal and released the text to every Circle.

The reaction has been even worse than I’d feared. Heavily-attended and strident Resolutionist meetings have been noted in every Circle I’ve heard from, and egged on by the unconscionable events in Kirkwall, the unthinkable is being openly spoken. At least two reports that I have read bore duress signals. We still await contact from some of the others. We stand upon the brink of a rising of a scale unknown since the foundation of the Circles.

To that end, under the Nevarran Accords I require that this day the Seekers of Truth be deployed in support of the Order of the Temple; I require that you make statement personally condemning this apostasy; and I require the assistance of the crowns of Orlais, Ferelden, Antiva, Nevarra and Rivain – a declaration of Exalted March would be suitable.

Our blades stand ready for this command.

Samson, Grand Master of the Order of the Maker’s Temple

*

Grand Master Samson,

We are deeply troubled by the issues outlined in your letter. Our reports in most respects are quite complete, but extreme measures require extreme care, and therefore we require answers in a few areas before implementation of your novel proposals can be discussed.

First – please provide details of the justice rendered unto those members of your Order listed herewith. One does not assign a fox to the role of gamekeeper; one cannot account 73 separate accusations of dire malfeasance to a few isolated malcontents. Recall as you provide these details that your request for the deployment for the Seekers was a redundant one; please do not assume that the Sunburst Throne has neither eyes nor ears, merely because they have not announced themselves.

Second – we require an account of your negotiations with Grand Enchanter Fiona and a description of the points upon which discussion broke down. Know that we have required a separate account from the Grand Enchanter herself via First Enchanter Vivienne de Fer, and shall pay special attention to points upon which you differ.

Third – since you mention Kirkwall, allow us to do likewise. Please provide details of how a dangerously insane lyrium addict and smuggler became Knight-Commander of a prestigious Circle; please account for the overturning of a truly bloated Circle of four hundred and forty templars by one hundred and eighteen mages and thirty-nine Tranquil, and please provide your copies of the authorising documents for the attempted Annulment that sparked said rising.

Lastly, there is one further discipline issue with which to deal. You speak of the Accords of Nevarra: allow us to quote them to you: ‘The Seekers of Truth and the Inquisition of Nevarra and the Order of the Temple shall this day and forever more be not three but one: forever united in the chorus of the Chant of Light under the authority of the Sunburst Throne.’ The tone of your previous missive suggested that perhaps you forget yourself, Grand Master; we are not minded to set the historical precedent implied by responding to such demands as if the faith of a million souls were a dog to snarl upon your command or set upon those you dislike.

Justinia, by the Grace of the Maker Divine

*

“And that’s all I know!” My voice cracked. I think it was the knife she had. “My lady, on my life I swear. That was the last day I saw him. He was in the field hospital, him and his sister and Isabela, and Aveline was yelling at them. Then she hit him, like it says in your book there. And she told them to get out, and they did. Next morning Isabela’s ship left harbour. Sailed off into the wide and blue. Gone. Maker’s own truth. Didn’t even write.”

My captor practically snarled, and with a violent motion turned away from the pool of light I was sat in. The blade went away as fast as it had come. “He shows up again in your tales. The Hawke and the Maid. The Hawke’s Legacy. The Hawke and the Queen.”

I just about stopped myself from remarking that the tall, dark human was better acquainted with salacious literature than you’d imagine a nun to be. “Lady Seeker, you can’t arraign a man for having a good imagination.”

Her eyes glittered. “My sources tell me your ‘imagination’ of the Maid of Ferelden’s manner of speech is impeccable. And your description of a darkspawn emissary in The Hawke’s Legacy is remarkably acccurate for a man who’s never seen one-”

“I took some liberties with the timings. All right? Maid, the whole damn thing is based off of one evening’s drinking in a tavern in Amaranthine with a funny-dressed elf we didn’t find out was the arlessa until we saw a painting of her the day after. Legacy happened in the spring of thirty-six. Queen is pure invention-”

“I’m aware. Queen Anora is well known to have a preference for tall, blond men.”

Blink. “I’ll bear that in mind. But I’m telling you, Seeker. Tobias Hawke and his sister and his lady-love sailed away at the end of the second volume of Hard in Hightown and never returned. And that was nigh on two years ago, and I swear. I haven’t seen them since.”

“Captain Vallenn said that you knew. That you were in touch with them.”

“Then the good lady was blowing smoke, probably in the hope of being rid of your charming personality and even temperament. Yes, for a while I was trying to get in touch. My Flotilla contacts were no help. Templars wouldn’t talk to me. Circle wouldn’t hear of it. Eventually paid some elf a ridiculous-”

“Merrill, you mean. The maleficar.”

“Fine. Yes. All right. I paid Merrill a ridiculous amount, gold and lyrium both, to contact Bethany Hawke.”

And?”

“And-” pained expression – “I received an individualised, personalised, hand-crafted response from the beautiful lady, care of my elvish friend.” I looked the Seeker in the eye. “Four words. ‘Piss off. Or else.’ And you know? I’ve seen enough mages angry to know when to quit pushing them. And that’s actually, genuinely it. I – I get the impression Merrill and Bethany might have stayed in touch? Best I have. Or at least she could get you in contact, get told to piss off in person maybe?”

“And where is the elf?” I was beginning to get the impression that the Seeker was running to the end of her patience.

“Oh, she didn’t go anywhere.” I snorted. “You’ll know you’ve found her when your agent winds up somewhere else entirely, thoroughly convinced that Kirkwall doesn’t even have an alienage.”

She growled a curse in what I think was Nevarri.

“You and me both, sister. D’you really think that I’d throw away the best damn agent I ever had? Look. Why d’you even want the man? He’s retired. Out of the business.”

“He’s not just a born leader,” she said. “Not just a deadly blade. If there’s enough at stake, he’s proven it time and time again, he’s capable of things that look like miracles. He’s a firefighter. And in case you have not noticed, Tethras, the world is on fire. And it is spreading. Hawke is what we need.”

“That’s what Aveline said.” I shrugged. “If my good buddy Tobias is Thedas’ last chance at a hero, lady, then I’m sorry to say it, but Thedas is just going to have to take its chances.”

The tall dark-haired woman they called Raven turned away with a snort of disgust and hauled the cell door open.

“So I’m free to go?” I made to get up from the chair.

She glowered. “You are not to leave town, dwarf. Nightingale will likely have further questions for you. Do not make us come and find you. I would hate for you to have to discover how to write with your left hand.”

“Loud and clear, sera.” I hopped down to my feet and sauntered out of the tall human-built door. Tipped my imaginary hat to the guard and put a spring into my step that I didn’t feel. “Loud and clear.”

*

fin