I look at the window. The morning is quiet, even a bit foggy. Kyle is dozing in the bed. Denerim is already active at this time of the day and I can see some people moving around the marketplace. I sigh. I wonder where should we start looking for that Orlesian woman.
Lirya must be still sleeping in the room besides ours. Or maybe she didn’t want to bother us. Well, soon I’ll have to check both my sleeping beauties and start to look for clues. I peek through the window again. The beginning of a new day… the beginning of a new life.
Before I leave the window, I see our old companions walking down the street. I release the curtains and come back to bed, with a conflicted feeling. We could be with them now, I wish we would… but things always have an end. I still regret having offered them to come with us to Tevinter… I know the mages wouldn’t have missed it, and George profited to find a tutor for his sister… But I feel they didn’t have to pass through all they endured for us, and they know too… and somehow, they make me feel guilty.
Kyle’s curses are his own business. Mine too, because I’m his wife and I chose so. But some of our companions left clear they weren’t theirs. Well. They won’t have to mess with us anymore. We were together before meeting them, and we will be now they’re on their own way. I can’t deny I’ll miss some of them terribly… specially those who became more than friends, the family I never had… And that hurts. But I can’t stay where I don’t feel welcome, even if there’s people there which I don’t want to lose.
I look at my husband and I smile. He’s the only one I need. So it’s ok if he’s the only one I have.
I walk to the bed and sit beside him, then I lean and kiss softly his lips to wake him up. He opens his eyes and gazes at me, smiling. He was probably already awaken. He grabs me by my waist and pulls me on the bed, by his side, depositing soft kisses like snowflakes over my face.
“Good morning”, I grin. “You did sleep well, I assume”
“Mmh”, is his only answer, rubbing his nose with mine. Oh, Maker. I love this kind of mornings.
“Your mother is in the next room”, I remind him. “And we came here to help her”
He licks my noise. “Spoilsport”. Which, of course, doesn't encourage me to get up... more like the opposite.
Some time later, he’s resting his head over my chest, and I get drown into his dreamy green eyes, stroking his hair. I would stay in this haze of bliss forever, his weight over me, his love in my heart.
But suddenly noises and screams outside the room make us startle, and a different haze, this time made of smoke, crawls from under the door. That and the cries of “Fire, fire”, are enough to make us get up swiftly, get some clothes back and rush to the corridor, trying to sort out what happens.
When Kyle realizes the smoke comes from Lirya’s room, he can’t be stopped. He rams over the door with his shoulder and slams it open. And then he stops in the threshold, and I with him, seeing how his mother just looks at him, her eyes expressionless, while burning carefully the pages of the Inquisitor’s diaries in the fireplace. The old parchment and ink in flames smell funny, and produce all the smoke which caused all the ruckus.
People in the corridor make harsh comments out of relief and amazement, but Kyle runs to hold Lirya’s arms.
“Mother! What happens? Why do you burn that?”
Lirya just turns her face at him, a sad look in her eyes. “It doesn’t bring memories back. Just pain”. I wave the curious away, telling them there’s no danger and the fire is controlled, but giving them some privacy is useless. As usual, Lirya’s behaviour towards Kyle is formal, without the motherly love he expects. He leans his head on her lap, heartbroken, and she hesitantly strokes his hair. “I wish I could say otherwise, Kyle… but I read them and I only remember the needles under my skin, the liryum in my veins, the pain in my limbs. And I already remembered that”.
As every time I see my husband that way, my heart breaks a bit. I wonder how would I feel if I found back my mother, or the man I considered my father, and they wouldn’t recognize me. I lost them in such a short age I hardly remember them myself. Maybe it would be the opposite, maybe they hearts would ache because I can’t remember them. It’s that how my real father feels, in his few moments of lucidity? He almost seemed to care for me that… sad night in the Fade….
Suddenly Tim, Kyle’s faithful falcon companion, perches on the window and squeaks. I walk slowly to pet him.
“What’s the matter, birdie?” I ask.
Tim moves awkwardly across the windowsill to climb in my arm and suddenly lets a shinny thin fall in my hand. Then he shrieks satisfied, looks at his master, who has raised his head with curiosity, and flies away again. Clever bird.
Kyle walks towards me and looks over my shoulder. “What is this?”
I open my hand and look at it. A shinny necklace, in the shape of a bleeding heart, is resting in my palm. The chain is broken, and I’m not sure if Tim has taken it from the floor or stolen it from a neck.
Kyle moves forward and takes the pendant from my hand. “Seems silver” he says. He looks at Tim flying over the Denerim buildings. “He probably took it near the Guard’s headquarters” he mutters. “I sent him there to find clues about Raleigh”. Personally, I’m more worried about why he did so. I mean, he’s a damn falcon. How can he know if something is relevant or not? Maybe it was the shine which drew his attention?.
Kyle shows the pendant to Lirya, but she doesn’t seem to recognize it. For a moment, though, the red stone which fakes a drop of blood in the heart makes her blink. “Blood”, she says. “So much blood and pain…”
Kyle startles. No matter how prepared he thinks he is for the moment in which she recovers her memories, she always manages to surprise him.
“Does this pendant tell you something?” he whispers.
Lirya’s eyes are unfocused, still pointing at the pendant but not looking at it. “Blood. Knifes. Torture”, she says again.
“At the inquisitor’s dungeons?” I try to help.
“No… not those dungeons… not that man…”. She looks at Kyle and for a moment a sparkle of recognition crosses her eyes, but it disappears again.
“Mother?” Kyle asks, holding her shoulders. “What was it?”
Lirya shakes her head, recognition gone again.
“A flashback. Gone…”
Kyle clicks his tongue, disappointed. Again. I grab his arm.
“Must be Raleigh’s dungeons”, I say. “Probably the blood reminded her. Maybe we should go there? If sergeant Kylon is still in charge… well, he still owes me one”, I say, not wanting to speak much about why he owes me some attention, after one of his men tried to rape me. Sometimes I understand why Lirya doesn’t want to have all that knowledge back. If I, who was infinitely more luckier than her, don’t want to even think about that… how would I react if I had suffered as much as she has?
Lirya shakes her head when she hears my proposal. “Coming back… there? No… no… I can’t”. She covers her face with her hands and Kyle seems torn.
“But… but… what if it helps you to remember?”
“I don’t want to remember that!” she says, stubborn. I squeeze Kyle’s arm, still holding it.
“Maybe you need to think about it, Lirya… I know it is hard… But it may be the only way…”
She looks at me with a despairing look, like begging me not to force her to take that decision. But she knows, as I do, that she must come back there.
It’s a windy afternoon when we walk to the Denerim City Watch headquarters. Sergeant Kylon remembers me, and proves again to be a nice person when he seems genuinely happy to learn that I’m now a married woman. Only a raised eyebrow at Kyle seems to tell him “Are you sure of what you did, lad?”, but his smile towards me is honest.
“A visit to the dungeons?” he asks, a bit surprised by our request.
“My mother was held captive here in Raleigh’s times, Ser”, Kyle explains. “And she has lost her memories. We thought that maybe visiting them would help her to remember”.
The sergeant shakes his head, still reluctant. “Do you really want to live all that again?”. Lirya looks small, lost, which is hearbreaking because she’s always looked like a strong woman, but swallowing, she nods. I suddenly realize she’s doing it because of Kyle, and I wish he could understand that, no matter what has happened with her memories of her past life, she loves him again. Enough as to expose herself to all that suffering again.
Finally Kylon shrugs, and orders one of his men to go with us.
“It’s your choice. Constable Phil will go with you. Phil, accompany the ladies and the man to visit the old dungeons!”
Kyle smiles and thanks the Sergeant, then he takes Lirya by her shoulders gently, both to comfort her and to guide her behind the Constable. The young man doesn’t like to go to those dungeons either… Seems Raleigh’s legend still endures.
Lirya glances around, nervous, and her hand reaches Kyle’s over her shoulder and squeezes it. I feel a bit out of place. It’s something they have to solve together, but surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt as much as with Tahl or Lindy. Maybe because I feel Lirya as my own mother too, or maybe because she has missed as much of Kyle’s past as I have done too.
I look at the dark corridors and shiver. Behind the bars I can see some torture benches, fetters and shackles, and memories of the time I was caged in one of these cells come to my mind. I shake my head and focus on Lirya. If Kyle wasn’t guiding her, I think she would freeze and not walk anymore. I’m about to tell Kyle it is enough, that we should turn around and come back to the daylight, when she looks at a cell by her right and, getting rid of Kyle’s gentle hands, walks slowly to the door and grabs the bars, shaking.
“There. I have been there”
Kyle makes a hesitant move to touch her shoulder again, but I stop him. Lirya’s eyes roll, scanning the room as if she was drinking it, like cold water in a hot summer. Her breathing, though, is calmed, and I swear I can’t imagine what is passing through her mind because her face is like a mask.
I just can hear her mutter: “Bitch”, and suddenly she spits on the ground. And she softly releases the bars, and walks back, without more words, without a sign that anything has changed.
“Let’s go”, she says. “There’s nothing else here to do”
Kyle looks at her, stunned. Suddenly we both are aware of her transformation, because her fear, her hesitation, has disappeared and turned into… what? Hate? Rage? Kyle raises a hand, and suddenly stops. He just looks at her. And she looks back at him. Still no recognition. Still not that sparkle in her eyes. And Kyle lowers his head and looks at the ground. I sigh, and grab his arm.
“Lirya is right. We need to go out. Things will look different out of this gloomy place” I say, trying to make him feel better.
And we walk, following the Constable, back to the reassuring daylight.
When we leave the guard’s headquarters, Lirya is trembling. Kyle notices it and takes his cloak gently, putting it around her shoulders and embracing her at the same time.
“You remembered” Kyle whispers, more an affirmation than a question.
Lirya nods. “Only a few bits. The bitch… the Orlesian bitch. I saw her face… And glimpses… glimpses of things I don’t want to remember again….”
I look at her concerned. If she doesn’t want to remember, maybe we shouldn’t force her… I understand Kyle’s feelings… but the price… the price seems too high.
“We’ll find her” are his only words. Revenge. Always revenge.
We’ve spent more time than expected in those dungeons, and the sky starts to get the fire-like hues of sunset. But the cold Lirya feels is not due to it, of course. I glance at Kyle
“We should go back to the inn and get some dinner. A warm one”
Kyle nods, and we three come back to the tavern, after a short goodbye to Sergeant Kylon. But the dinner is uncomfortable, and the silence weights like lead while I look at Kyle, Kyle looks at Lirya, and Lirya focuses on her dish.
It’s when we’re back in our bedroom when Kyle releases his temper. Feeling useless, guilty for the pain he has inflicted to Lirya, even without wanting, he hits the wall with a rage that scares me, even if I know he’s not mad at me. His hand throws away all the things over the table, making poor Tim startle on his perch, and suddenly he realizes it and collapses on a chair, his hands covering his face.
I’ve been silent all the time, but I know now it is the time to act. So I just walk to his side, and hug him.
I can feel his shoulder tremble, and I know a sob is trying to escape through his throat, even if he’s not crying. Big boys don’t cry, and he will better be caught dead than allow me to see how his heart is broken in a thousand pieces. But I know. I’m his wife, and his soul has little secrets for me now.
I say nothing, just stroke his hair, and hold his head against my chest. Finally he lets himself go, his arms grab my waist, and I feel the tears warm over my breasts. I just lean down and kiss his forehead.
 “Hush my love”, I whisper. “It wasn’t your fault, and you know it. She’s a strong woman, she’ll overcome it… and maybe tomorrow the good memories, the ones you want to come… will return too”
He sighs, deeply, and his hug becomes tighter. I let him stay that way for a while. He needs it… just support, just love… not useless talk. And only after what seems a blink, even if I know it has been a long time, he finally releases me and gets up, not looking at me in the eye.
“I’m going to train” he says, and takes his sword and goes outside.
I look at him going and hug myself, feeling as if winter had arrived. I feel the same every single time he goes away, even if it is just for a while, even if he’s going to be just some meters away from me. But even if I never liked his training schedule, I must admit this time he needs it. So I just shiver, and prepare to go to bed. At least, demons don’t haunt me anymore, so the only thing which will avoid me to sleep is the lack of his warmth by my side… which is always painful.
How can I have ended needing him so much?. The thought floats over my brain like a butterfly, before I get asleep. He’s like air to me… when he’s not here, I feel as if I couldn’t breathe…
And with no transition my mind wanders from vigil to dream, from reality to the Fade. In a world which shines like diamonds, I have a glimpse of Lirya, the Fade Lirya, the one who remembers all, smiling at me, and then turning back to go.
“Wait!” I want to shout, but no sound comes from my mouth. And I wake up looking for breath, as if I had been diving.
It must be four or five in the morning. Kyle groans by my side. He must have finished training and slipped on the bed without me noticing. I have a bad feeling, and when I hear him whisper “No… mother… no”, my suspects are confirmed. I wake him up, even if I know I’m stealing his time with the Lirya who remembers him, and when he opens his eyes, surprised, I jump out of the bed.
“Lirya! Let’s check her room!”.
He blinks, but jumps after me without thinking twice. He has understood the meaning of the dream as well as I have, and when we find Lirya’s room empty, just with some discarded letters wrinkled in a corner, we know she’s gone.
I look at Kyle, thinking he will be devastated, but somehow his face is serene. He takes a look at the wrinkled papers on the floor… all start with a “Dear Kyle” or “Dear son”, all of them suggest a promise, and none of them is finished.
“So finally she reached me in dreams” he mumbles.
I nod. “That was her goodbye”
“Not a goodbye”. He shakes his head. “She… she wants to remember. She wants those days we shared back, like I do. But she doesn’t want to see me suffering because of that. That’s why she left. To do her quest alone”
 “So she’ll come back when she remembers you” I reply. He nods absently, looking around at the now empty room. I touch his arm. “You know she will. Unless you want to look for her…”
“I don’t know what to do. I… I don’t want to loose her again, but I don't want to hurt her again either. I suppose... I should respect her decision…”
I smile sadly. “She didn’t want to see you sad. I think that’s a step in the right direction”.
I really believe it. Same as he suffers when she does, she feels his pain too. As simple as that. Her feelings are there, waiting for a gentle nudge to come to the surface again.
Kyle sighs, and looks at me again. I fear for a moment that he’ll want to run after her, but he touches my elbow and guides me back to the bedroom again. There, he embraces me softly, sinking his face in my hair, smelling it, as he likes to do. I stroke his, giving him all the support I can.
“We’ll find her” I promise. “And when we find her, she’ll look at you, and in her eyes you’ll see her calling you “son” again”
And I know that it is true, and that we just have to be patient, and wait for the future to bring her back to us.

INTERLUDE: First romance

The stream must flow
The wind must blow
Even the sun can go
Such as the deer knows to call his lover
Why are you still here
Why are you taciturn
I go to find the beauty
Following the sun from the East to the West
Coming after the moon like the day to the night
With the stream since it is full until it is dry
Follow the muntjac from his youth to his old age
But I still can’t meet my darling
Still can’t see the one I miss
My hair is profuse as the flower season
My heart is full of ardency like the color of a peach
Where are you now?
Oh my darling, oh the one I’m waiting for
If in this incarnation you don’t come
I will wait my whole next life
However, wherever existence is understood
It only becomes dangerous inside human beings.
“Come on, Kyle. It is your sixteenth birthday!” Ryan shouted, making him cringe. “Let’s celebrate!”
“Let’s go to the tavern!” Seth added. “You’re now old enough to go for the first time!”
It was going to be Seth’s first time too, but he wouldn’t say it aloud, of course. Between the two friends, they grabbed Kyle by the arms and pulled him towards Flemeth’s Broomstick. Kyle could do nothing to avoid it. Not that he wanted to, anyway. After his mother left him alone, four years ago, Ryan was the only thing he had remotely similar to an elder brother, and well… the tavern sounded like something exciting to do to celebrate a birthday.
At first the crowded place surprised him a bit. He was not used to the smell, the noises, the fuss… But Ryan guided them to a quieter corner where he had reserved a table, and they sat there until a beautiful waitress asked them what they wanted. Ryan noticed how Kyle didn’t take his eyes away from the girl when she went back to the counter to take their ales and smiled. It seemed a good start. The girl was more or less Kyle’s age and she seemed to appreciate his young friend’s charms. Maybe this would be a birthday to remember.
And indeed it was.
After asking for their third round of ale, the pretty girl returned to the counter, and when passing by one of the tables, one of the men tried to slap her bottom. She was agile and dodged fast, but at that moment, Kyle had already drunk too much and he couldn’t resist. He got up and walked calmly towards the table.
“You should apologize to the lady” he said to the man. He looked at Kyle and smiled with teeth black because of the scurvy.
“Hey, hey, hey, white knight”, he laughed. “It’s been two months without seeing a girl, I like to test the goodies!”. His breath smelled like rum, and his companions didn’t seem more sober either. Not that Kyle himself was in a better situation, though.
“She’s not merchandise to be tested!” Kyle spat. “If you want to… touch her rear, it must be with her permission!”
The waitress had stopped and was watching the scene interested, but when she saw the expressions of the sailors at the table she whispered. “It’s all right, big boy… He didn’t touch me, I can deal with…” suddenly she stopped and pointed down. “Beware! He’s got a knife!”
The sailor was trying to reach a dagger in his belt, and if the girl had not warned Kyle, he would probably had unsheathed it, but thanks to her shout, Kyle moved quickly and hit his arm, so the knife fell to the ground. Almost without thinking, he punched the sailor’s face, making him fall backwards into his friends’ arms.
Before Ryan or Seth could intervene to prevent it, Kyle was already involved in a fight with the three sailors. Fortunately, nobody used knives anymore, but when Kyle’s friends arrived and managed to pull the furious men away, he was already laying, unconscious, over the remainings of what once had been a not-so-sturdy tavern wooden table.
The other customers at the tavern calmed the sailors down, and Sophia, the owner, invited them to an extra round of ale to appease them. And when Kyle opened his eyes, head spinning both for the hits and the excess of alcohol, and back aching amongst the wooden splinters, the very first thing he saw was a pair of beautiful sapphire blue eyes looking concerned at him.
He tried to say something comprehensible, but only a groan got out his throat, and soon Ryan and Seth got into his vision field and helped him to get up and to walk out of the tavern. Kyle kept looking over his shoulder to have another glimpse of that heavenly beautiful face, but she was already bending down to check the wreckage he had left behind, and he sighed. Seems she was more concerned about the table than about him.
After that incident, Kyle got a sudden interest on hanging around the Flemeth’s Broomstick tavern. Well, not exactly the tavern, but that pretty girl who caused it. Lindy, was her name, and she had just been hired by Sophia some weeks ago. Ryan had to admit, though, that Kyle had good taste. She was quite a beauty. Arrived from Nevarra some years ago with her mother, young, pretty, silky dark hair and big innocent blue eyes… and a smile which sometimes said she wasn’t as innocent as she looked like.
So there they were again, sharing a drink as if nothing happened, while Kyle spent the time staring at the pretty girl, still with a black eye because of the recent fight.
Ryan pushed up his friend’s jaws to close his mouth.
“You’re drooling too much, Kyle. Go ahead and ask her for a date!”
“Wha… what?” Kyle stammered. “Who? Lindy?”
“Who else? Not Ralph the cook, that’s sure!”, Ryan laughed. Seth chuckled into his jar of ale.
“If you don’t do it, maybe I will” he took part in the conversation. “Before the competence gets a move on”. He pointed at a blonde guy who was trying to charm the pretty girl when she arrived with a jar of wine to his table. Lindy shook her head at whatever he whispered to her with a reproving smile and danced to another table.
“The beauty won this round” joked Ryan. “But Ivan is not the kind of dude who surrenders easily”. He got up to call the girls attention. “Here! We need another round of ales!”
Kyle suddenly awoke and pulled Ryan’s sleeve. “What are you doing?” he asked, panicked.
“Helping you, silly one. It is clear you’re not going to be the one to talk first, so let’s bring her to this table”
Kyle was going to reply, but Lindy was a fast, dedicated waitress, and before he could articulate a word, she was already there, bright smile creating cute wrinkles around her eyes. Kyle just opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of the water.
“Ale for all of you, messires?”
Ryan chuckled. “I think our friend here needs something stronger”, he said elbowing Kyle.
“Oh… ah… rum” Kyle stammered.
“And he pays!” added Seth
“Two ales and one shot of rum, then”. Lindy nodded and walked away with a graceful swing of her hips. Kyle collapsed in his chair.
“I hate both of you” he sighed. Ryan shook his head.
“No, you love us. And you’ll love us even more when she surrenders to your charms”
Kyle tried to kill Ryan with his glare, but it didn’t work.
Some minutes later, the pretty girl arrived with two big jars of ale and a small shot of rum. She put the jars on the table, but handed the tiny glass directly to Kyle’s hand, and when doing so, her fingers softly touched his. Kyle blushed red up to his ears and she giggled like a tinker bell, winked and went away.
Kyle drank his shot of rum in one single sip, almost choking.
Their teenage love ritual continued some weeks while Kyle continued attending the tavern with his friends, and Lindy continued working there and being cute and adorable with all the customers. Unfortunately for poor Kyle, as Ryan had foretold, Ivan had not surrendered either and he was as frequent a customer as Kyle used to be. Worst of all, Lindy didn’t seem to make a difference between any of them, so he never dared to take a step to avoid spoiling it all. Funny thing, his rival was keeping his distances too… Both of them stalking the prey, no one wanted to scare her taking a first step.
Ryan and Seth looked at each other. Kyle needed an incentive. And maybe… a bit more intimacy. So next time Ryan reserved again the private Cousland table at the tavern, told Kyle to meet there… and sneaked away with Seth to spy him from a second intimate table, watching without shame how the poor boy looked at the door nervous wondering where their friends were. To make things worse, Ryan gave a couple of generous tips to Lindy asking her to go from time to time to Kyle’s table asking him what he wanted, so his jar was never empty… and he would have to talk to her. The trap worked. After one hour, the young man was tipsy enough to feel brave, and the fifth time Lindy arrived to the table and asked him if he wanted to take anything while waiting for his friends, he gathered courage, and replied.
“Yes! You!”. And quickly got up and kissed her cheek. Lindy reacted like lighting and her hand didn’t look so delicate once it collided hardly against his face, making him get sitting again, a hand over his own cheek, a surprised look in his face.
Seth face palmed. “Here goes our last hope to see these two together”
“We better go and give him some support”, Ryan sighed getting up from their hideout. “Come on, and look surprised. Remember, the date was now, not an hour ago”
Seth chuckled. “Don’t worry. I am surprised enough”.
What Seth and Ryan didn’t know was that that slap didn’t discourage Kyle to continue attending the tavern. Even more, now that he had had a first contact (and what a painful one!), he seemed more prone to talk to her. Maybe it had been Ivan’s muffled giggle when he was slapped, or just the feeling that well deserved prizes were worth fighting harder. But his resolution was clear. He had to win that girl’s heart
But this time, he would go alone.
He didn’t tell his friends he was going. He just entered the tavern, asked if the Cousland reserved table was free, and since Sophia already knew he was a friend of the noble, she guided him there. Then he gathered courage, raised his hand and called Lindy. The girl arrived with a bright smile, no resentments, it seemed, but the perk of a brow said to him she was expecting for something.
“I…” he started, feeling suddenly all his resolution fleeing away, and taking a breath to catch it again. “I think I owe you an apology”.
“An apology! What for, my lord, if I can know?” she said, but he could feel the sarcasm in her tone. He had somehow foreseen it, so he took the hand he had got in his pocket all this time and softly deposited it over the table.
“I started the wrong way” he just said. “Will you accept this?”
She frowned a bit looking at him, her nose wrinkling in such a cute way his heart jumped. “Not another unwanted kiss, I hope?”
He retired his hand. A white flower, a bit withered for having been in his pocket, but still beautiful and fragrant, stayed on the table.
“No if it is unwanted” he just said, with a sad smile. Then he looked at her, waiting for her reaction. She looked at the flower, then at him. She said nothing, so he, the boy who always had no words, felt forced to continue. “It… it is for you. My…mother told me these flowers were called Nevarran Beauties, so… when I saw it I thought…” He scratched his head, confused. “I’m sorry. I spoiled it all. I shouldn’t have kept it in my pocket”
She took the flower, slightly amused. “Nevarran Beauty… True, true. My mom used to call them like that too”. She put it on her hair, and the flower didn’t look withered anymore, as if her beauty was contagious. Then she smiled to him. “Thanks. It brings… sweet memories” and she seemed a bit sad when she said that. “Now… what do you want to drink?”
“Wine”, he said, suddenly inspired. “Vintage wine”
“Good choice” she said, turning to go.
He observed her go, relieved and excited at the same time. Finally things started to go well, he thought. At least this time she had not slapped him.
Some minutes later she returned with the wine. She had not taken the flower from her hair. Maybe that was a good sign.
“Your friends aren’t coming today?”, she said, when she put the glass in front of him.
“No” he said. “I’ll be alone this evening”.
“No one should drink alone” she said a bit sad.
“Well, maybe…” He stopped. Too soon. Too rushed. “Maybe one day… not today… you’ll want to keep me company, so I don’t drink alone?”
She smiled warmly. “Maybe. One day”. She walked a couple of steps, then turned her head. “I’m free on Thursdays”. And she went with a wink.
And he grinned, and drank his wine, which tasted sweet and warm and comforting. “Then see you next Thursday”, he said almost to himself.

Fading dreams

I’m wandering in the Alienage, and I’m not sure which one it is. It has a familiar feeling, as if it was Denerim, but the buildings are Highever’s. That makes me realize I’m in none of them… but in the Fade. This must be a dream.
A tall figure soon towers over me and I raise my eyes to meet my beloved husband’s ones. He seems as lost as me… There’s nothing more confusing that dreaming and being aware you’re dreaming. Especially when you share the dream with someone else.
“Is this… the Fade?” he asks, searching for my hand. Somehow we both know the other is the real one. We’ve visited this place awaken often enough to tell the real things from the false ones.
“Seems so. But it looks so peaceful… I hope we won’t meet Edanhor’s demons again”. He grabs my waist and holds me closer as only answer. We both have too recent what Edanhor’s demons did to me when we were here the last time…
Suddenly we’re inside one of the houses, without transition because that’s how dreams work, and we face a beautiful elven woman sitting in front of us. Lirya, Kyle’s adoptive mother, smiles and makes a gesture for us to sit too.
Her hair glows black as a raven again. Not having forgotten her botanical knowledge, she started to dye her hair black again when Kyle and me got married, but I have the feeling here in the Fade she looks as she looked before the Orlesian Inquisitor held her captive: dark-haired, young and beautiful. As usual, I wonder how does manage Kyle to be always surrounded by stunning women, and why on earth did he chose me, such an average red-haired, as his wife.
Lirya takes my hands and looks at me sadly, and I shiver. We didn’t tell her about my miscarriage in Tevinter, because we didn’t want her to worry, but she knows. Somehow she knows, and my heart aches. Then she looks at Kyle, and I can hear his breathing change. The look in Lirya’s face, here in the Fade, has nothing to do with the look when she’s awaken. In the real world, Lirya loves us and is grateful because we rescued her, but she doesn’t remember her past… and that breaks Kyle’s heart. But here… here she remembers everything… and she’s looking at Kyle as she was meant to look at from the beginning… A mother looking at her son. Kyle swallows, and Lirya’s smile widens.
She moves a hand and takes the hair away from his forehead, touching the almost unnoticeable scar he has always had there. He grabs her hand, and presses it against his face. He’s not crying, but I know this look in his face. There may not be tears in his eyes, but his heart is aching.
“Mother…” he mumbles.
“Shh”, she replies. “It’s all right, honey. You’re doing it right”
“But why?” he asks. “Why can’t you remember when you’re back?”
She shakes her head. “I don’t know. Something blocks everything. Maybe the liryum, maybe the magic… maybe the hate. But it is all right this way”
“No, it isn’t!” I complain. “He’s broken inside, can’t you see it?, What can we do to have you back with us?”
Lirya retrieves her hand, and at the same time a tiny sparkly of light, one of those whisps from the Fade, moves around her like a butterfly around a flame. She just glances it, but doesn’t pay much attention.
We have been studying with her the diaries I found in the Inquisitor’s cellar, and the results have been more grievous than productive. The diaries only describe the processes he has experimented on her body, all of them probably painful, and reading them back made our teeth grit, but brought no memories from her. If half of the descriptions are accurate, though, I’m happy she doesn’t remember it, but I know Kyle needs her mother back, and I won’t hesitate to achieve it.
“I don’t think those diaries will help”. Lirya confirms my theory. “At least not in our hands. Maybe you should hand them to someone who understands magic, and can find out a way to revert what was made to me… if it can be reverted”
I nod. “But who?” I doubt our mage companions, Haakan and Lauren, are qualified to find anything in those texts… at the Circle Tower the mages didn’t seem much qualified either. Though if we ask Haakan, he will surely come out with a thousand of paranoid theories he will swear are absolutely right and logical. Anyway they will soon go on their own way to retrieve their phylacteries and do all the things they want to do to get married in what Haakan’s think is a safe way. I smile against my will. It may take them decades to achieve that. I’ll never understand everybody’s interest in marrying. Maybe that way he thinks he’ll prove his love to her but wouldn’t it be better to share a life together without so much risk? I would have been happy enough moving to a home with Kyle forever, and I didn’t even had to pay for my wedding dress. Well, it is their life, and I don’t plan to mess with it anymore. I’ve had enough hostility as it is.
This is a very secret magic… maybe we should go as far as back to Tevinter to find a mage able to replicate these experiments… Unless we ask Edanhor of course, I shiver.
Kyle fists his hands. “There must be a way! If I had been there… maybe I could have made talk that bastard before they killed him!”
I stroke his shoulder. We were in the ruins when the rest of the group fought the mage in the tavern and was forced to kill him. “I doubt he would have helped us, love”, I try to comfort him.
“Yes… but maybe if she had seen him… maybe that would have brought her memories back?”. Kyle looks hopefully at her mother. Lirya shakes her head.
“There’s no use on crying over spilled milk, my son”
Then a light hits in my brain. “The inquisitor is dead… but Kyle… when you tracked her up to Orlais, wasn’t there other people involved?”
“Yeah. Commander Raleigh, but he was already dead” he looks at me. I nod. I remember Raleigh’s times, and him being killed was the best it could happen to our community. He had even captured Adaia once, and she had not nice words for him either. I’m grateful to whoever did that dirty job.
Lirya stares at us with a mysterious smile. She says nothing, but I feel we’re close to the answer.
“The person who sold Lirya to the Inquisitor?” I ask. “The Orlesian woman? What was her name?”
“Marjolaine”, Lirya whispers… and we both look at her. The whisp is floating around her face and gives her a gloomy shine. But her smile shows we’re on the good track.
“Marjolaine”. And when I open my eyes in the real world, as the dream starts to vanish, the word stays there. “Marjolaine…”. I look at Kyle by my side, he’s blinking confused and I know he’s trying to keep that name too. “Marjolaine…”
“Where can we find her?” I ask him, instead of saying good morning.
“We will start in Denerim”, he says, leaning on one elbow. “Some one must remember her. And then, we’ll follow her. To Orlais, or wherever”
I nod. We have something. And we won’t leave it fly away.

Lost treasure

9:25, 1st day of Haring
I continue sending her my demons, waiting for the day she gets pregnant. She’s got the potential on her, and the man she has chosen, even if a shem, has the potential in him too. My demons can feel it. And the day she’s got a little one inside her, they will care for her, make sure nothing bad happens. Because I need that little one to be my next vessel, someone my blood, someone with my power, someone with my strength
 (Excerpt from Edanhor Blank’s journal, as found in Highever on 9:25, 14th day of Haring)
Night falls over Tevinter, and everybody sleeps peacefully at the inn. Well, not everybody, since as soon as Kyle is sure Marilyn has fallen asleep, with that heavy sleep pregnant women have, he slips out of the bed and goes outside, to train under the moonlight as he uses to do. The young elf seems quiet, and once she’s asleep, her night terrors don’t seem to be the problem they are when she’s awaken in the darkness, though it is true that lately her nightmares have been increasing in frequency and intensity. Kyle is worried about that, and he has even pondered to ask for Maya’s help, but maybe it is a secondary effect of her pregnancy. He doesn’t know. He just hits his training tree with his sword until his body is sweating, muscles gleaming under the moonlight, and when he feels exhausted, he returns to the inn, getting a towel to wipe the sweat before going into their room again.
But when he gets back into the room he stops on the doorway. Mari's not in the bed, sleeping, as he expected to find her before leaving to train. He looks around confused, and soon finds her crouching on a corner of the room, eyes wide with terror, skin sweating. He lets his towel drop on the ground and runs to her place, hugs her and pats her back softly.
"Sorry!!", he says, thinking she just woke up, found out she was alone, and now she’s just suffering one of her usual terror crisis. But she doesn't react to the reassuring touch of her husband, and when he looks into her eyes, he finds that they don't even look at him, lost somewhere in the distance. Moreover, she moves her arms like trying to make something go away and mumbles "Get away! Get away from him!"
He still embraces her tight and whispers at her ear "Nothing happens, love", but she tries to push him away. "Be strong", he adds, not releasing her and stroking her hair gently. She stops struggling, but doesn't look at him, just falls down in his arms like a broken doll.
He drops a kiss on her hair, wondering if everything is over, and picks her up to bring her back to the bed. When he realizes her whole body is sweating, he wraps her carefully in the blanket. Then he sits on the bed, and cradles her, feeling that sometimes she shakes as if she was fighting inside herself
She seems to relax, but still doesn't move, nor wake up, and creepiest of all, her eyes are still open. He tries to tranquilize her kissing her between her brows and kneading her nape, but from time to time she mumbles "Don't touch him, he's mine!", and shivers a bit
"Hush, no one touches him...", he whispers, even if he doesn’t know who is him or why she shouts that, and kisses her forehead again, feeling that it is cold as ice.
He leans his head against her, his heart in a grip, and somehow he can feel other presences in the room. He narrows his eyebrows. It's nothing he can see, but he can definitely feel it. A weird feeling, which makes him move his hand to his amulet, making sure it is still there. It is like when he doesn't wear it… spirits moving nervous around them… A cold breeze, or just a chill in the spine, making him have goosebumps. He starts taking off his amulet to see those spirits again, still holding her tight with the other arm. As soon as he does it, he can see the spirits who haunted him, blurry, around them.
"Okay, what do you need?", he asks, more bothered than frightened. It’s the love of his life that is now at stake… Ghosts are the least of his worries. But somehow he knows the beings which made him chill are not these now peaceful spirits…
The elven woman shakes her head. "We're just waiting for you to lead us to Orlais”, she says, emotionless.
"We're about to go today", he says harsh. Or at least, that was the plan, he thinks.
"We can't fight against the demons. They’ve grown stronger"
"Which demons?" he asks surprised
"The demons. There are always demons. They come every night, and watch"
"Are they the ones who are haunting my wife??!!", he asks, his tone worried.
"Lately they're getting braver, they come closer"
"Why? What makes this happen?". He feels sweating again.
"We don't know. We just watch”, the elven ghosts continues. "They've always been there, since the beginning"
"If you... you know how to help my wife out of this.... "
"She always carried them with her. Like you carried us. They’re her curse, like we were yours". It is the woman’s mouth the one which seems to speak, but her voice seems the voice of all the spirits at the same time.
"Can you help, please?!!", he shouts, desperately.
"You can't fight them here", is the woman’s only reply.
"So... where??", Kyle begs. “The Fade again??"
"In their realm... The Fade, yes, as you the living ones call it. She's stuck there, fighting against them. She won't come back until she defeat them"
"Can... you help me go to that now...?” his voice nearly cracks
The spirits stop speaking for a while; they seem disturbed and start spiralling around him, like running away from something. Soon, in one of the corners he can see a shadow darker than the others.
He looks around him, wondering if the spirits have opened a door to the Fade for him, but suddenly he realizes the shadow has human shape. He addresses straight to the shadow "Who are you??", while still holding Marilyn’s unconscious body to protect her.
"Now you talk with spirits, my son?", the shadow makes a sound like a chuckle
"So what”, he replies, harsh, even bothered, recognizing soon who the voice belongs to. “Not your business…. If that can help my wife…."
The shadow is still blurry but it starts to look clearly like a hooded man. "Tsk. tsk. Those manners… And if I tell you I can help, would you trust me?"
Kyle ponders the suggestion, while the shadow takes his hood off, allowing him to see his face. As he has guessed from the beginning, Edanhor, Marilyn’s father face, reveals in front of him. The old redhaired mage’s features are winning over the young blond one whose body he’s now occupying, and that’s even more noticeable now that he’s in a kind of an astral projection.
"You can help or you will lead me to a trap?. Because as far as I know, it was you who sent them!!" Kyle shouts, looking at Edanhor angry.
"That's a risk you may take", replies Edanhor calmly. Then he gets close to the bed, still a bit transparent, not taking completely a solid shape. He makes a sign with his hand and the feeling of demons around them gets weaker, but they still are there, lurking in the shadows. "My control over them is weaker here. Maybe it is the distance", he mumbles.
"Pfftttt", Kyle hisses
"I send them only to watch... but it seems they want more..." He looks at Mari in Kyle's arms and for a moment he seems genuinely concerned.
"You fool. You use demons"
"They’re useful, and I’m good at controlling them”, is his only reply.
"You are a mage, you already know which result they bring…”
“I've tried to make her come back... But she doesn't trust me", Edanhor continues, focusing on the problem.
“WHY DO YOU STILL WANT HER?!!", he shouts
Edanhor looks at him. "I don't want her. Not her, not yet. I just need to know she's safe… Both of them, actually", he says, looking at her from toes to head. He looks at Kyle again, his eyes like embers, and the warrior embraces Mari in his arms tighter, shivering. "In this very moment we both want the same. We want her back"
"Do you?", he asks doubtful. He can’t help feeling the mage wants something more… but he can’t choose. "Well. What do I need to do to reach her?"
"Will you trust me, for once?. Or will you believe me better if I tell you she's useless for me like that... And that I regret terribly to have lost control of my demons?", Edhanor finally sighs.
"After all she’s just a tool for you" he scowls in the silence which follows.
"That you are more willing to believe, aren't you?"
"Just spit how I can go to her.." he speaks impatient
"As I said, she won't follow me...", Edanhor sighs. "She will only follow you. So I must make you go to the Fade for her".
Kyle nods, determined.
"Then give me your hand", continues Edanhor, and lends his hand at Kyle. The young man gives his to him, without hesitation. Then the mage takes a knife out. Even if it is blurry and transparent like he is, its blade is sharp and deadly when it cuts Kyle's wrists and makes his blood flood like a cloud, but the warrior just stares, without resisting. Soon, he faints…
... and wakes up in the already familiar landscape of the Fade.
Kyle steps carefully on the ground, not sure there’s real ground anyway, and turns his head around to look for any signal, or a road. He rubs his wrist, but it seems healed, as if nothing had hurt it.
"Mari!!” He shouts her name, and starts walking.
But only the echo replies to his shout, like mocking him.
Suddenly he can hear a shriek from the sky... or whatever there's in the Fade, and his faithful falcon Tim flies down to perch on his shoulder.
"Oh, what?... I thought you not…", he mumbles, while raising his hand to stroke the bird. "Do you know where she is?", he asks the falcon
The falcon looks at Kyle with ember eyes, and his beak seems to smirk.
"I will guide you to her", he says with Edanhor's voice
Kyle startles and eyes Tim. “Guide!!”, he shouts, taking his hand away of the bird as if it burnt, and pointing back to the sky.
Tim winks, and flies again, slowly, waiting for him to follow. Kyle doesn’t hesitate, and runs after the falcon, his hands fisted.
Some time later, they see a shape crouching, her red hair loose around her. She seems to be cuddling something, and hums a lullaby
"Mari!', he calls her again, while running faster to her place.

Baby sleep, gently sleep. 
Life is long and love is deep.
Time will be sweet for thee. 
All the world to see. 
Time to look about and know. 
How the shadows come and go,
how the breeze stirs the trees, 
how the blossoms grow.“

She raises her head slowly and sees him
"Oh, Kyle, is it you? For real?”
"Who else?!", he says sighing of relief, while coming to her his arms wide, ready to shelter her.
“You came for us?". She gets up slowly, holding in her arms a shape wrapped in clothes
"Us??", he says, stopping a bit,
"Look, it's our baby!", she says happily, and gives the form to him
He stops surprised, and just takes the thing from her slowly, looking at her carefully. When he has it in his hands, she runs away from him. He has just a moment to look into the clothes and see there’s nothing inside, they're just an empty wrapping.
"You are not going to fool me!" she shouts while running, and she disappears
"Hey! Come back, Mari!", he shouts with despair, stretching his arms out at her.
Tim perches on his shoulder again. "It's going to be difficult", he sighs
Kyle runs after her quick, but she has vanished before he can barely react. "What makes her act like this?", he asks the falcon, stopping to look around him. She may have gone through a portal or something…
"She knows", is the only answer the bird gives
He tosses a bothered look at the falcon, but it flies again, trying to locate the runaway elf. Kyle follows its track, walking to where he saw him disappear, but shortly he appears from other corner and shrieks, to ask him to follow.
He just looks up and runs under the falcon’s wings, walking through the dreamlike lands until they arrive to another Fade clearing. Here Kyle shouts of anger, seeing his beloved trying to fight a group of rage demons. She jumps from here to there with her daggers, now fully dressed in her armour, but the demons dodge her, and make a circle each time narrower.
He runs to help her, with his fists clenched ready to punch, since he has not weapons in his hands. Edanhor/Tim shrieks again, and makes fall a feather in his hands. Kyle catches it, and looks at the feather
"This is the Fade, boy! This feather can be whatever you want to be!"
He looks back at the bird, barely grateful, and thinks in the shape of his sword. The feather suddenly turns into his old good sword in his hands, and he holds it tight with a smirk.
"Mari, hold on!!", he shouts swinging his sword to kill demons.
Mari has two demons at fighting distance, and there are three more trying to reach her. She seems to be dealing quite well with her two demons, so Kyle doesn’t even think, he swings and thrusts whatever demons near him, and manages to kill the one closest to him, but another sees him and turns to attack him. The warrior turns around, hits and slashes the demon. The demon fails its attack by an inch, and Kyle's sword cuts it in two. Then the third demon takes a swipe at Kyle from the back. Kyle stumbles for a moment, holds his breath at the pain, but even if the wound hurts as hell, it still allows him to fight, so he moves quickly and strikes back to the demon, slashing even crazier.
Meanwhile Mari has killed one of the demons, but the movement left her defenceless, and the second one took advantage to grab her. When Kyle turns to help her, the demon is holding her, but she's kicking and struggling at it
Kyle makes fall the demon that has hurt him under his sword as if it was only a burden in his way to help his wife, running to her side. The demon which holds Mari is trying to grab her stomach, and she's stabbing its hand like crazy. At the same time, Tim/Edanhor flies over the demon head to distract it, and attacks at its eyes.
"Release her!", he shouts, and swings his sword
The grip of the demon becomes weaker thanks to the attacks of Mari and Tim, allowing him to attack, so Kyle takes advantage to aim at the head of the demon.
He finally kills the last demon, which vanishes, and he rushes to attend Mari, trying to hug her. She hugs him back
"Are you all right?", he asks worried
"Is it you? Really?", she replies with another question, looking at him with begging eyes. "Not a demon trying to fool me?"
"Ah, you can punch me to test" he says more relieved
She punches his chest softly, without strength, while crying. "I'm scared, take me out of here!"
He pats her back at each punch. "That’s why I got here, to bring you back"
She looks at him, eyes bright with tears.
"You scared me, love", he whispers, and he raises his head back to look for Tim, who is flying around, still in falcon form. He narrows his eyebrows and asks him, still holding Mari in his arms
"Can you guide us get out of here?"
"I'm trying, but there's someone concealing the door"
Mari startles when hearing the voice
"No! It's him!", she shouts, and struggles to get away from Kyle's arms. "Release me! You're with him! Release me!"
He holds her tighter. "It's okay!! Love!!"
She bites his hands, kicks and hits to release her free. He feels the pain and tries not to groan, but doesn’t release his grip around her, caging her in his arms. "Ssshhhh, love!! Don’t be silly! It’s not good for you”
"He only wants him! Don't let him touch me!", she continues shouting, punching his chest and still trying to release herself, hysterical.
"The important thing is to take you out of here", he tries to calm her
Tim flies in circles and moves his head like saying "Tsk, tsk, tsk"
Kyle turns to Edanhor: "Are you finding the way out or just complaining there?"
"You don't understand? He won't let us out until he gets what he wants!”, Mari shouts.
Edanhor makes circles wider each time, until he flies in one direction
"I think I found it. Follow me!"
He looks at the way the falcon flies, and, ignoring her struggle, Kyle picks Marilyn up, and starts running with her. She hides her face in his neck, defeated, crying, and mumbling "It is a mistake; he leads us to a trap!"
Finally they arrive to a place where there's a shrine, but before Kyle can reach it, a figure appears in the middle. She looks exactly like Mari
"Why such a hurry? You don't need to go out so fast", she says with sickly-sweet voice.
He opens his eyes wide. “What now? A desire demon?"
"Desire? Which desire? You already have her in your arms", laughs Mari’s clone
"So this is how you deal??"
"Do you really have a desire?", she says getting close to the couple. Mari hugs him tighter, while he tries to dodge the fake elf. But she moves quicker, and takes his chin. "Tell me what it is" she says, seductively.
He gets rid of the hand of the demon, while Mari in his arms struggles to go away from her. Kyle moves his head desperately, trying to find a way to reach the shrine, with his wife in his arms, but the demon seems to be on the way, and Mari doesn’t make it easy struggling to run in opposite direction. Finally she escapes from his arms, and runs away from the demon which is too near to her taste. Then Kyle pushes the fake Mari away, but the demon doesn’t seem to mind. When she sees the real one running, her smile grows wider and creepier, and her face stops looking like Mari’s.
Kyle runs after his wife to catch her again, but the demon is faster. She vanishes, and appears just on the way the scared elf is running, so she falls in her arms without being able to avoid it, before Kyle can even try to stand between them to catch Mari.
Then before he can react properly, the fake Mari sinks her hand into the elf’s belly, as if it were made of butter.
"Get your filthy hand away from her", he shouts, punching her. But it is too late. Mari bends over herself, and the demon falls back, with a big smile, her hand closed in a fist, and a shining light escaping between her fingers.
Mari falls to the ground crying "She's got him!!!"
Tim shrieks and flies down to attack the demon too, shouting "Nooo!"
Kyle continues punching the demon. Edanhor lands on the floor and gets human shape again to help Kyle
Meanwhile, Mari is still on the ground bending over herself and crying "No.. no.. no..."
The demon jumps to a side, and moves to cast a spell to him, looking now like the Desire demon she is. He dodges. "I knew it", he spits.
"Clever boy" she scowls, trying to step back with her fist closed. She moves her hand to her own womb, and seeing it, Kyle rushes to attack her like crazy. He suddenly remembers he still has the sword, and uses it to try to chop the demon’s hand, swearing.
Edanhor shouts "Nooo!" again and sends a bolt spell, and at the same time the demon receives Kyle's sword hit. And her hand falls to the ground
Now it is the demon who shouts "Nooo!", while Mari crawls trying to get the bumping hand. Kyle considers to attack the demon and force her to shut up, stabbing her with his sword, but when the hand falls to the ground and opens, the light in it spreads and vanishes like a thousand little stars. Mari waves her own hands at the sparkles, trying to catch them, and her face grimaces in a mask of despair when she realizes they vanish without allowing her to touch them.
The demon looks at them with hate. "You fools... now it's lost forever!"
Then Kyle's sword sinks on the demon's womb, his eyes burning with fury. “Lost what?”, he says, spinning the blade into her entrails.
The demon bleeds by the mouth and collapses, until only some ashes are left.
Kyle turns back to Mari, but stops when he sees Edanhor is cuddling her and trying to comfort her, while she doesn't resist, her face hidden by her hands, her shoulders shaking at each sobbing. Kyle blinks, sighs heavily, and lets out his breath, leaving father and daughter a moment together. But Mari then raises her head, looks at him and tries to get up, with the help of Edanhor.
He walks slowly to them, trying to give them a bit more time to be alone, but she stumbles a bit, runs to his arms, and leaves Edanhor staying a bit behind them, awkwardly.
He looks at Edanhor, feeling sorry for him, and opens his arms to hug Mari. The redhaired elf falls in his arms and starts sobbing in his chest.
Edanhor looks at them for a while, and then points at the shrine. "Time to come back, unless you want to attract more demons’ attention" He walks a bit to the shrine too.
Kyle nods at Edanhor and walks to the shrine, still holding Mari by her shoulders.
"Thank you", he says after few seconds
"Don’t thank me. You’re right, I helped her for my own selfish reasons”. He glances at his daughter and if there’s a spark of fatherly love, it vanishes soon. “You won't see me again", the mage says. "At least for a while. It was my demons which caused all this… So I will retire my watch from now on. It attracted too much attention from demons I can't control. I’ll find… other ways to know about her…"
Kyle raises his eyebrow. "Be careful with what you do", he says, a mix of advice and threat.
Edanhor nods. "I need to be sure next time he's not lost for all of us", he says cryptically. “Until then, I leave her under your care”, and then he just disappears, as if he never was here.
Kyle doesn’t pay much attention to his last words. Instead, he touches the shrine, holding Mari tight, and watches everything around them vanishing, finding himself still hugging her over the bed.
Now his wrist aches, because of the wounds Edanhor made to practice his blood magic, but by the other way his back is not wounded anymore. He looks at his wrist absently, then he turns to look at his wife, and kisses her forehead lovingly. She's conscious, gripping his bare shoulder and crying. He strokes her forehead, and suddenly he realizes what’s going on. She has her other hand over her womb, and all the sheets under her are full of blood. He hurries to flip the sheet out of her, and sees her shaking, watching him do, while still sobbing.
"I've lost him...", she mumbles.
He looks at her with eyes full of terror.
"He's gone... the demon stole him..."
She sinks her face in his chest, pale and sweating.
He feels his eyes watering and his nose runny. Rubbing it, he places his hand over her tummy, and embraces her so tight, narrowing his eyes to hold the tears which start to flood them, not letting them out. He’s the one who has to be strong. He’s the one who has to comfort her, to be her support, even if his world is falling in pieces around him. He feels her pant, how her grip gets weaker, and he holds her in his arms even tighter, aware of the precious thing they have just lost, almost forgetting the strength he’s putting on the hug, until he hears her gasp. Then she releases her grip completely, falling in a mix of sleep and unconsciousness, half because of the exhaustion, half because of the loss of blood.
He sighs, sweating, and lets her lie on the bed. Then he slowly moves his hands, awkwardly, trying to clean all the blood on the sheets. He hears her sigh in dreams, but her sleep looks more healthy and natural than the one before going to the Fade, even if she sweats and seems to be feeling pain. Maybe he’ll have to wake up Lauren, especially if she continues bleeding like that.
He takes the bloodied sheets away, and cleans the mattress and all around them the best way he can, putting new blankets on the bed. Then he sits by her side, and touches softly her stomach, concerned. It is hard, tight, and she shakes at bit at his contact. Very slowly, he uses a cloth to wipe the blood on her, frowning when he reaches between her thighs. What he knows is there makes him turn his head a bit not to look.
The room seems completely normal, no presences felt… except for one. Kyle reaches his hand to his neck and remembers he took away his amulet. Cleaning all the blood seemed more important than keeping ghosts away, after all. But the feeling of being watched is just too strong and he glances back, to find the spirit of the old elven woman, staring at him
He continues his work, and sighs from time to time, trying to ignore her.
"The demons are gone", she says
He just gives her a very slight nod
She walks a bit, and he finally focuses his eyes on the spirit
"Seems you were more loved than expected", the woman says, putting her ethereal hand on Mari's belly. Kyle looks at her without understanding, then the woman smiles, and a sweet memory of sapphire blue eyes and soft long, black hair, strikes his mind like a gentle breeze…, making his heart hurt again. “I don’t want to lose Mari too”, he thinks suddenly.
"Someone sends her love", adds the old woman softly, and her hand enters Mari’s abdomen, like caressing her womb from inside, and the young elf stops sweating, while her skin starts to get a better color.
Kyle shakes his head, sighs, and mumbles an apology and a thank you prayer to the spirits. Especially to the one who, he knows now, helped them from above.
"Don't forget Orlais", the old elf whispers. Then the spirit vanishes
The loss of blood is stopped and Mari starts breathing a bit better. He continues what he was doing, cleaning her completely, tenderly, forcing himself not to think about anything else. After finishing, he washes the blood out of his hands in the water basin, and wipes them with an old cloth, leaving all the dirty clothes in a corner of the room.
Then he gets back to the bed, glad that he finally didn’t have to bother their friends for help… and not to have to explain to them what had happened, and to remember all of it again. Not now. Not so soon.
He crawls to hug her, then he brushes his lips on her face, kisses her, embraces her in his arms and closes his eyes, and only then he allows a tear fall. She moves and curls in his arms, a bit disturbed, as if she had felt him cry, and sighs half asleep.
"I'm sorry", she whispers. "I couldn’t protect him..."
"Not your fault", he whispers back
"I failed both of you..."
He can feel her tears running down her cheeks, even if he can't see her face, so he leans his face down and tries to kiss her to wipe them, his mouth bitter. He can feel her hug is tighter now that her strength is recovering. She’s always been stronger than she looks. Maybe stronger than him. He sighs. At least he’s not going to lose her too.
"Hush, sleep", he says, caressing her back gently
She nods, but continues stuck to him, her eyes wet, her head looking for shelter in the safe place under his jaw. Though she doesn’t feel safe anymore. Her most intimate treasure has been stolen, and she could do nothing. Feeling defenceless, she only can mourn. And he knows this, and his heart breaks with every tear she pours.
So he does the only thing he can do. Comforting her. Even if the Maker knows he needs as much comfort as she does, maybe more.