I'm taking care of Kyle's bleeding eye and still can't understand what happened. I mean... I saw it, I lived it... and for a moment that shem got complete control of my body and my mind, but I still was caged somewhere inside my brain, and could see what she did. A miracle. Like the one she did, willing or unwillingly, with my own body, since the scar over my shoulder has disappeared too.

"Ungh... Mari, stop it!", Kyle complains, but Lauren was clear and I'm not disobbeying her.

"I must clean your eye with this potion twice a day so don't be a baby". I can't hide it. I'm happy he's going to have a whole face again. Since the scars had closed the eye socket completely, the magic re-opened the flesh and it must be cared for as a recent wound, but now the inflamation is better, I can see the glimpse of green following my hand each time I drop the medicine into it.

But it is the meaning of the scar being missing which I really like. It means Lindy is finally gone. None of us is going to remind her each time we see his face, and her presence won't be around our marriage anymore. I guess she knew it... and that's what her farewell meant. So double reason to be grateful.

He snorts but doesn't complain anymore. Instead, he reaches for the amulet in his neck and grasps it again, as if he could see something I couldn't. I wouldn't take it too seriously, if I had not felt the strange wind, the whispering sounds and the touch of fingers too, that night he had lost it.

"Feeling haunted again?" I ask, trying to be funny, but scared to death too. He nods. "I thought your revenge would have made you get rid of those ghosts".

"No... that was Lindy's revenge... This one is different... These ghosts want to revenge... on me".

I have already finished with the potion and I put a clean bandage over his eye again. I try to smile.

"You should stop attracting strange curses over you". I finish attaching the bandage and I step back, looking pleased at my artwork. "You know, so we can focus on creating a family and all that".

He shakes his head, his eye looking away, to a place far away behind me.

"They will come for me. Sooner or later... They want me".


Seth had always been Kyle's best friend. While Ryan was more like an older brother, the blond, mischievous street urchin had been Kyle's complice and companion of adventures. Ryan always said his troublesome nature would be his curse, but the true is that the young noble enjoyed training both boys at a time.

So when Seth killed his first man, on a dark alley and from behind, Kyle was afraid Ryan was right. It was true the man was a street thug, the kind who threatened old ladies and took their money for "protection", but Kyle had always prefered face to face combat, not this kind of... betrayal. However, he supported his friend and helped him to hide each time the rogue got into trouble.

Seth had similar feelings for his darkhaired friend. When Lindy died, he was by his side, along with Ryan, ready to take revenge(1). A bittersweet and useless revenge, because that bastard noble who killed her had already fleed away from Denerim. But none of then hesitated to get their hands dirty with the blood of the men who were involved.

But that also caused Kyle to leave Denerim, Highever and even Ferelden. His honorable way of solving things, face to face, always made him recognizable, moreover now that they could point at him as the "one eyed warrior". Unable to rely on Ryan's friendly support anymore (2), specially after releasing Tahl from slavitude, Kyle had to leave his country. In the company of the young elven ex-slave, he fled to Antiva, where the Soreil's grandparents gave him shelter and a hideout.

He had not seen Seth for four years. And definitely, he didn't expect him to find him in Antiva, knocking at his door as if nothing had happened.

"Seth? What are you doing here?"

Seth got into the house his usual way, overconfident and with a lady killer smile. "Ah, look at you, mate! You look well. Time, and these Antivans, have treated you well!"

Kyle got out of his astonishment and hugged his friend. "Ah you think so! But I think you live better than me, at least you're free to wander around Ferelden!"

Seth peeked at the big eyed, shy figure of ten years old Tahl, looking at him from the door. "And what do we have here? Oooh, Kyle, you finally decided to have a family?"

Kyle kicked Seth's leg in a playful way. "Ah, come on. She's only ten"

"A perfect age for a daughter, my dear Kyle. Though I'd be careful. When she's sixteen these big silver eyes may be hard to resist". He stepped ahead and kisses her hand. "And your name, my little princess, is...?"

The elf didn't hesitate. "Tahl. I'm going to be an archer. Papa Kyle made a bow for me". Seth laughed and winked at her. "You'll do it, little one. You will. But don't let Papa Kyle get you in too much trouble"

"I can get out of trouble myself, thanks milord", Tahl replied promptly, making Seth laugh even more.


"If Seth liked Tahl so much", I frown, "why didn't he adopt her himself?". I don't like how that  nosy elf has managed to steal the spotlight even in his story. I know I am now HIS wife, but I still feel I can't lower my guard while she's around.

"Oh, come on, Mari", Kyle complains. "She was just a kid. And Seth was... in some kind of mission, he told me".

"A mission?"

"In that time, he had become a professional assassin, though I didn't know. He had failed his last mission, though, and while fleeing, he had taken a detour to sell some information in Antiva before going back to Highever. Problematic times. We were still at war with Orlais".

He's sitting at the table, with a glass of wine, trying not to touch the bandage in his eye, while I'm over the bed, my hands under my chin, listening to his story. I want to know which ghosts are those who haunt him, and what revenge do they want, but this has led to a long story which sometimes makes me yawn. Specially the bits about Tahl.

"So he came to Antiva to meet you", I say. "And... what happened?"

"He commited a mistake... In his previous mission, in Orlais, he had attacked his foe, a corrupt minor noble, but failed to kill him and had to run away leaving him just hurt. The noble survived, and hired someone to hunt Seth. And those didn't fail".



Blood. Blood of his enemies, all around him, but also his friend's blood, the friend he was unable to protect, again, the same way he wasn't able to protect Lindy.

He looked at his sword, still dripping blood, and at the dead bodies around him. He walked slowly towards Seth's lifeless shape, kneeled besides him and closed his once full of sparkles brown eyes. He would never hear his laughter, he would never suffer his teasing again. Kyle cried silently, and his tears were blood too.


It was the second time he swore revenge in his life, but this time it was easier. Orlais. He had never been in Orlais, nobody knew him. And they would pay for the life of his friend. With their own lives.

He didn't even stop to think twice about it. He just came back to the Soreil's place, changed his clothes, cleansed his armor and weapons, made his luggage - a small, travelling lugage. Spoke to Granda's Soreil and told him to take care of Tahl until his return. The old man didn't ask questions, he already knew Kyle, and he has known and liked Seth. Tahl was more difficult, she bited, kicked and said the dirtiest Antivan words to poor Grandpa while he grabbed her to avoid her from accompanying Kyle. The young warrior smiled at her and messed her hair, but his heart was still stone. He had to go alone.


"And you went to Orlais? Alone?". I open my eyes wide.

"I was blind with rage. It was the second time someone I loved was killed in front of me, I could not think about anything else".

"But it is a long trip... didn't that calm you down?"

He shakes his head. "I was young, I couldn't control it... and I didn't want either. Whoever did that, I wanted him to pay for everything... for Seth's death, but also Lindy's, and maybe all the other terrible things I had lived... I couldn't think clearly..."

"But you didn't rush to avenge Lindy the way you rushed to avenge Seth..."

"I couldn't come back to Ferelden so easily. After what happened in Denerim, people knew my face, and rescuing Tahl only added names to the list of people who wanted me dead. It took me twelve years to venture, to think it was safe enough to return and keep my promise to Lindy..."

"And even so it took you your time", I smile. "Seems I almost made you forget it... Almost..."

"Ah... yes, I neglected it a bit, didn't I?", he grins, and I feel a bit proud of it, Maker knows why. "And even so, you saw what happened when we came back from our honeymoon, and I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier... But Orlais... In Orlais, nobody knew me... So I found the home of that noble, and addressed there without hesitation".


The manor was small and not very protected. Kyle entered like a thief, but once inside he became a nightmare. A couple of guards halted him, and didn't survive to hear his reply. A servant braver than the others asked him where he was going and found his blade instead of words. Everybody were enemies at his eye, nobody was spared. He had a faint memory of the noble pleading for his life, but those words died at his throat, drowned in blood. Other pleas were ignored. And the last phrase he heard, "Curse you, Fereldan...!", was stopped with a blow and a laughter.

He kicked one corpse and looked around, while saying a prayer for the soul of his avenged friend. No survivors, nobody would go after him this time. Seth could finally rest in peace (3). Then, why didn't he feel right?

Suddenly the bark of a puppy took the red veil away from his eye. He looked at the source of the sound. A small puppy, one of those Orlesian tiny spawns, was barking at him, accusing him of the death of his master. He looked at the body and shivered. It was too small to be a guard... to small to be a full grown adult. What had he done? He kneelt down and saw him... her. A girl. Only seven, eight years old...

He looked around again, the room spinning when he realized what he had done. When he entered the room, the noble was surely having dinner with his family... Wife and children, maybe some other relatives, elven servants. All of them were in the ground now, lifeless.... worthless. He almost fainted when he realized.

"What have I done?"

"Curse you, Fereldan...". It had been a woman who said that, now he recalled. An old elven woman, trying to protect one of the children, pointing at him with her bony finger. "Curse you, you won't find peace again in this world until you pay for this crime". She had not had time to say that, had she? But he could hear it. Clearly. A whisper in his ear, and the bony finger pointing at him, and the lifeless elven eyes staring... All the eyes staring at him now, the dead ones raising in ghostly shapes, looking at him, accusing him. "Curse you, Fereldan.... Curse you!"

He gasped for air, and frightened as he had never been in his life, he turned back, jumped through the window and ran, ran, ran, until he found a horse, stole it and got out of the city, out of the country, not
daring to stop even to sleep, feeling the cold breeze of the ghostly presences around him, driving him crazy.


He seems so heartbroken I can't blame him, even if the story is terrible. How could he do that? How couldn't he realize he was killing innocent people? I can understand that he killed that boy, the one that bastard used as a human shield... But a complete family? And in cold blood, after a week of traveling? I shake my head. That wasn't my Kyle. My Kyle is a good man. My Kyle left that behind. My Kyle feels so guilty he wishes to die.

I walk towards him and touch his cheeks. "It is all right, my love... it is over..." He is still grabbing his amulet, his family amulet, which helps him to avoid those visions, and I finally hug him, unable to say anything else.

"Now you hate me" he whispers, not looking at me.

"How could I? I love you too much. And... you were not yourself..."

"You're wrong. I was myself, more than ever. That's what I am, I've always been. My bersekerr side"

"I don't mind. I know you. And they killed your best friend".

"If Tegnar knew, he would hate me...", he continues, almost choking. Why Tegnar? I don't know, maybe because the dwarf has become a father figure for him too. I remember George's reaction when he learnt about the child he killed when Urard used him as a human shield and I frown. He won't take this story well either, if he ever learns it. But I don't mind. I know my Kyle is now a good man, and if anybody else does not think the same, I don't care. At least I will support him. Forever.

"It happened ten years ago. They know you. They know how you are now. And you were cursed, you turn into a beast!".

"Ah... no... not yet... That curse came later... "

"You seem to collect them, sweetheart", I tease him, depositing a peck in his nose. I try not to take it very seriously but the truth is that he attracts curses like a magnet.

"I needed to find a way to get rid of the ghosts... The amulet helped me to keep them away, but I didn't want to rely on it, or to risk losing it... Like that day after drinking with Friese and Melissa, remember?"

I shiver. That day was terrible, and if I only saw half of what he sees without the amulet, I can't understand how he didn't get crazy yet. I hug him tighter, because I feel that's the right thing to do, and he kisses my hair, a bit relieved.


The couple hid behind a rock. Only glimpses of black and golden hair could be seen from time to time while Kyle and Tahl decided what to do. The mage was asleep, and the book stayed, tempting, over a bunch of clothes he had left neglected around. Too easy not to be a trap. Kyle shook his head, the elf frowned impatient. Finally she ignored the warrior's advice and got out, swift as a fox, unnoticed as a shadow, and reached the edge of the small camp of the mage. She made an "v" with her fingers from there and smiled victory to the human. Kyle snorted and followed the rogue down.

Tahl was already holding the book when her partner arrived. "Is that it?" she whispered. Kyle eyed the cover of the book. "Spiritual blood: a treaty about ghosts, spirits and how to bond them with blood magic". He nodded. Their hunt for a book, for something able to help him get rid of those ghosts which haunted him every night had led them to that mage, that book. Blood magic. Always dangerous, but maybe the only way. He opened it, carefully. Anything could happen with those mages. A quick glance to the first page, flip it over, another glance... Tahl tried not to move, anxious, watching over the mage in case he woke up.

"Why can't we just take it?"

"Sshhh... No... He would notice it... Let me find what I...Wait!", he gasped, almost too loud, having turned almost half of the book pages. "I think I found it... 'When the second dance comes... under the...'..."

Suddenly Kyle's eye got white, and the warrior collapsed down. Tahl looked at him alarmed, and then around her, but the mage didn't move, and the book seemed normal... too normal... Tahl raised her head to look at it when suddenly a hand covered her mouth and something hit her head. And then it was only darkness.


"That's the book you told me about when you saw the ghosts, isn't it? What were you looking for in that book?"

"Ah... Tahl had an old friend... From before slavery... An old elven mage who lived near her Dalish clan"

"Tahl is a Dalish?", I interrump, surprised. "Why didn't she come back to her clan when you rescued her?"

"There was no clan left, my love", Kyle protests, a bit tired of my attempts to get rid of Tahl, at least in my imagination. Of course. It would have been too easy. "Well this mage, who should have been a keeper, but retired to be an hermit, was the one who enchanted my amulet when I returned from Orlais. That, and Tahl's watch during the nights helped me to control the ghosts during a time... but some years later the enchantment seemed to be weaker, or maybe my haunting was worse... And Tahl couldn't spend the nights watching me much longer..."

I bite my lips. Tahl had been all those nights with him, and that makes me feel jealous again. All the things she had, and I missed... Maybe I should have told him I had my own shadows haunting me, instead of sneaking into his room without his agreement... Now that I have my father's journal, I know he sent them to watch me... he probably still does. I suddenly have a vision of my shadows fighting his ghosts and I giggle. What a couple we make... Maybe that's why sleeping together works so well now that we're allowed to do it.

Kyle continues talking, unaware of my reaction. "... So we went to speak to him again, and he led us to that book, which we had to track until we found that traveling blood mage who had a copy..."

"And the book cursed you?", I ask. I know nothing about magic, but I have read somewhere that some books can be enchanted as a defensive measure. He denies with his hand.

"No... it just... it just made me pass out. When I woke up, both Tahl and me were tied up in a corner of the camp. The mage was checking the book, mumbling "Ruined, ruined!!" and there was also a thug looking at us from over his shoulder who poked his shoulder when he saw us moving".


"Thieves. Scum. Rats!!!", was the old mage ranting. "They have treasures. Tombs. Travelers to loot from. And what do they do? Look at this!!", he shouts, pointing the book to the thug. "They ruined my book!!! Why should they want to open it? There are not pretty drawings! This is... this WAS a serious treaty! Now it's ruined, ruined, ruined!!!"

The thug just scratched his head and looked at the book. He surely couldn't understand it before and he definitely couldn't now, since each page the mage was touching turned into ashes. Kyle opened his eye, still dizzy, and moved his head to make sure Tahl was all right. The elf was leaning her head over his shoulder and he could feel her breathing and moaning a bit, but she was still unconscious. Kyle moved his tied hands, looking for a rock or something to cut his ropes, but the thug seemed to know well his job, so finally he could do nothing but waiting.

He had not to wait long, though. As soon as the thug poked him, the mage turned his crazy eyes to him and walked towards him, gesturing like crazy with the ruined book in his hands.

"See what you did, see, see? Ashes!!! This book wasn't meant for your eyes... eye!!! You ruined it!!!". The mage got close to him and slapped his face, but Kyle didn't mind too much. He was a weak figure and didn't hurt a lot. "And why  should a... thief like you want to see what was inside my precious tome?"

The mage turned around, and moved as if he was smelling something. It was still night, and Kyle was still reying on his family amulet, enchanted to keep the ghosts away. "Haunted", the mage mumbled... "I can feel it... ", he turned suddenly. "Ghosts haunt you and you thought my tome would give you the solution?". He laughed, a crazy, maniac laughter. "I can see you. Cursed... not once, but twice! You never learn the lesson, don't you?"

He then pointed at Kyle with his staff and made him levitate. "Mmmh... you have the curse of guilt... and of bestiality... and you are always seeking for revenge and sure that your beloved ones will die because of you... What else could I do to complete this trio...?" He cut the palm of his hand, sucked the blood and blown it at him. "Your breath! Let's see how you manage without it!!!"

Suddenly Kyle, still in the air, felt his lungs crushed, while blue mana was drained from him. He felt liquid in his throat, which almost made him choke, and the iron taste of blood in his mouth. For a moment he thought he was going to die... and he was almost grateful. It was a way to end all the curses after all.

His grim thoughts were interrupted when he fell to the ground without warning. Something had stopped the mage but what? Kyle looked up and saw a flash of blond hair running into him and making him fall with her shoulder. Tahl had woken up (maybe she was already awaken) and the clever rogue had got rid of her ropes soon. Kyle felt proud of her. But the thug came after her and took her by the neck of her shirt, like a kitten. After four years, Tahl wasn't a small child anymore, but she was no match for the big man, and no matter how much she kicked and punched, she could do nothing.

The mage looked at her from the floor and laughed again, that maniac laughter again. "You think you're clever, eh, little knife-eared bitch". He got up and stood closer to her. Tahl tried to spit at his face. "No, no, no, little one". He put his hands, the left one still bleeding, at both sides of her head. "You have a clever mind, don't you, little one? Then I'm taking it!".

Tahl's self-confident face changed in a grimace of pain when the mage started to do to her what he had done to Kyle, this time to Tahl's brain. Kyle had seen enough. He felt his rage inside, and that red cloud in front of his eye. Unaware, unable to control himself, his ropes broke, and he jumped over the mage, bare hand, blind with rage. No way he was going to allow to lose anyone else.


"So you got bersekerr again?", I ask. "Or was it your panther form?". I'm still sitting on his lap, trying to make him feel better.

Kyle puts his hand on his forehead, as if the memory hurts. "I can't remember. Maybe a mix of both... I was about to give up my life, so probably the panther curse was active... But it was the rage of seeing him harming her which made me react... Anyway... I only remember blood and red... and then Tahl slapping my face and trying to wake me up... When I did, everything was over... and what was left of the mage and his minion was not pleasant to see..."

"And the book?"

"As the mage said... Ruined... Turned into ashes. It seems it had some kind of spell which made it destroy if someone without magic read it... I tried to read it again, but there was nothing left to read..."

"So you only remember the title... and that line about dancing under something?"

He nods. "So useless... Not only I didn't finish with the ghosts. I got a new curse... and Tahl did too..."


"The cough... that cough you worry so much about... He did something to my lungs... And to Tahl's head. She wasn't so bad before, believe me. But now... she suffers terrible headaches, which can even make her faint during a complete day... And her temper... She was nice, now when the headache is near, she treates people rudely.... well you know that..."

"That I have seen". I bite my tongue not to say what I think about Tahl's temper, because I think she's rude even without the headaches. "She enjoys too much getting on my nerves"

"Enjoy? No... she can't enjoy anymore... she's unable to feel anything... She's almost like those tranquils you can see at the Circle... But it is true that teasing you allows her to feel something... That's why she does it... You have to forgive her."

Oh, yes. Forgive her because the only way she has to feel alive is making my life hell. But I don't say it aloud, I just nod and touch his cheek.

"Maybe Haakan or Lauren know something about that book. We could go to the Circle library and see if they have a copy... We should get rid of those ghosts, at least... And the cough... and the headaches", I add finally.

"You really think it is possible, don't you?", he looks at me, a mix of hope and tenderness in his eye.

"Everything is possible", I say. "You got your eye back, and the cough also seems to be better. Now let's break the rest of your curses".

He smiles and kisses my forehead. "I don't know what would have done without you and your optimism"

I smile, but I don't answer. I don't know either, and I don't want to know.


(1) Bloody night (page 3) [link]
(2) Departures [link]
(3) Before the Dark future [link]