Spinning Tales


Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo (2015)

I thought I would try my hand at NaNoWriMo last November and I got off to a good start but just didn’t make the time to finish. I want to post what I wrote SOMEWHERE so here’s what I ended up writing. Enjoy!

***

Cap leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms up behind her head. They boarded this piece of shit cruiser looking for a payload and the crew had been frustratingly tight-lipped. Well, all but one. He agreed to talk, provided they made it look like he was putting up a fight. He didn’t want to lose his post or something – she stopped listening when he started crying – so they tied him up and sat him in a chair while the rest of the Princess’ crew – the ship was named Princess, stars preserve her – watched with wide eyes. The man in front of her was feebly wrestling with the bonds that held him; he tried to put up a good show at least. Her bodyguard, a giant of a man, sat beside him and was assembling his blaster methodically. She cleared her throat and both men looked up at her.

“Gentlemen, none of the parties present want to dirty this lovely cruiser with bloodstains.” The bound man growled at her, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with, you stupid …” He looked at her prosthetic leg that was crafted to look like a wooden peg – she had a reputation to maintain.

“Pirate!”

She rolled her eyes. Typical.  “No use threatening me. I’m not the one sitting with my hands behind my back.” She tilted her head, “Well, not bound at least.”

The man glared at her. She sighed and swung her hands down onto the table. “I’m sure we can come to some kind of agreement. My client has need of whatever’s in your cargo hold, and you have a need to continue breathing.”

Elias looked up and snapped the last piece of his blaster together. Elias was a tall, muscular man, and he disliked unnecessary violence but he could bluff his way through it. “You sure about that, Cap? Some men don’t need to breathe to be of use.” He was harmless but he had a quiet way of speech that frightened people if he said the right things.

The man went slack in his bonds and she waved a hand dismissively, “I don’t think there’ll be any need for that, Elias. Cralius here’s gonna open the cargo bay and tell his crew to stay clear while we take what’s ours.” She stood up, crossed the space between her and Cralius and lowered her voice, “Isn’t that right?”

Sure they had a deal, but there was no harm in shaking him up a little. Cralius gulped audibly and whispered, “Yes ma’am.”

“Elias, untie this handsome fella. Cralius, would you be so kind as to tell your crew to stay the hell back unless they want some holes in their bellies? That would be lovely.”

Elias pressed a button on his hip and the bonds disappeared. Cralius peered at the crew who looked like the last thing they wanted to do was move anywhere, and said quietly, “You heard the lady.”

She clapped her hands, “Excellent. Open these doors, if you please.”

Cralius walked up to a number pad on the wall and punched in a few keys. The door opened with a soft whoosh and revealed an empty room, save for one small box.

Elias looked at her, “What the hell?”

“The client told us to take what’s here, so that’s what we’re doing.”

He shrugged and stood back while she crossed the threshold. The cargo room was empty but something felt off.  As she bent to pick up the small box, she felt the hair rise on the back of her neck. The space in the cargo room felt small, like there was something more in this room.

“Elias, turn your cloaker to frequency 1.5 and give it a good blast.”

“You really think they’re hiding cargo?”

“I’d bet my leg.”

“Cap, that leg was expensive.”

“I know Elias, it’s a good leg too. Just hit the damn cloaker.”

“Yes ma’am.” He switched his cloaker to frequency 1.5 and tapped it. The device on his hip emitted a low whine, and she squinted at the empty space in the room. Slowly, as the whine grew louder, the outline of more boxes appeared. “Ha!” She turned triumphantly to the watching crew and tapped her leg on the side of a large box that appeared in front of her.  “Never cheat a cheater!”

“Elias, tell Cox we’ll be over in a sec. We got our cargo.” He pressed the device on his wrist, an ancient communicator and a squeaky voice came over the line, “You guys finished in there yet, or what?” Elias smiled, “Love you too, Cox.”

“We gotta schedule to keep. Got the goods?”

Cap leaned over, “Yep. We’re done here. Let Twigs know to fire up the engines.”

“That’s now how they -”

“Shut up.”

As Elias moved each piece of cargo onto a hover-dolly, she ticked them off from a list. “The ones we need are marked with a constellation, its uhhh…” She flipped her tablet, “Orion. Leave the rest.”

She turned with a flourish to the waiting crew of the Princess and bowed low, “Pleasure doing business with you fine, space-faring folk. We’ll be out of your hair shortly.”

Elias set the last crate down on the dolly, “All done Cap. That’ll be all the crates marked with Orion.”

“Excellent, excellent.” She pulled her blaster from the holster on her hip, and walked backwards behind Elias as he guided the hover-dolly. “Thank you again for your cooperation. Don’t try to call us in, or I’ll track you down and shoot you all out of the sky.”

“Wait.” A man stepped forward from the crew.

Elias stopped, “Cap?”

“Go on.” She waved him away, tightened her grip on her blaster and laid it on her forearm. “May I ask what this delay is about, sir?”

“I recognize you.”

“Of course you do, I’m a ‘pirate’.” She winked her best, most charming wink and started to turn away.

“No, I know you.” The man jabbed a finger at her, his voice growing louder and louder until he was shouting, “You’re that woman who stole the freighter and ran off with the Armada’s finest engineer!”

“Ah,” her smile faded as her lips pressed into a thin line. “I don’t want to kill anyone so we’re both going to pretend you didn’t say that. I’ll walk off this ship and you keep living if you keep your mouth shut.”

Calius tried to calm the man down but he pushed him away and stepped forward. “I name you – ”

She shot a blast at his feet, making him jump. “Don’t. I’m warning you.”

He set his shoulders and said again, firmly, “I name you, Captain A-” His head snapped back as she fired another shot right between his eyes and he crumpled to the ground.

The crew of the Princess watched silently as she stepped forward and rifled through his clothing. She pocketed his ID card. Calius stared at her.

“I like to know who I’m dealing with,” she smiled sweetly.

Elias ran back after hearing the gunshots, his own blaster drawn in front of him, “Cap!”

“Everything’s taken care of. Just some loyalist who thought he’d blab my name in front of company.”

He holstered his blaster and said quietly, “Clean up?”

She looked at the crew of the Princess, they were huddled together and trembling. “Not necessary.”

“Anyone else think they know who I am?” She stepped forward and the crew started talking over one another that they really had no idea, they only knew she was a smuggler and to please not kill them and finally she held her hands up. “Enough. As I said earlier, I didn’t want to kill anyone but I will if it protects me and mine. If I hear a whisper of my name and it gets traced back here, I will come find you and I will be the last thing you see in this life.”

She nodded to Calius, and spat on the dead man. “Let’s go.”

As she and Elias walked up the gangway to their ship, she rubbed the back of her neck and sighed, “That wasn’t exactly the smoothest acquisition.”

“Who was the guy?”

She pulled the ID card out, “No one I know. Or knew.” She slipped the card back in her pocket, “I’m sure the Armada put out my image, I’d be insulted if they didn’t. I stole a helluva freighter.”

Elias laughed, “That you did Cap.”

“Y’know, maybe I should get a mask. And a big hat.”

“You’re a walking, talking stereotype.”

“I love it when you talk dirty.”

They crossed into their ship and she buzzed the bridge while Elias secured the new cargo, “Undock, Cox. We’re almost ready to head out.”

Cox’s voice rang out over the comm, “Finally. Do we know what we’re carrying?”

“What’s my rule?” Cox’s voice intoned along with her own, “Never open the boxes.”

“Not even a peek?” Cox pouted.

“Just pilot my ship you nosy bird.” She flipped the comm off and made her way to the bridge, trailing her hand along the solid metal walls of the ship.

It was a fine freighter, originally piloted by herself and Twigs in the Armada. Class A, with specialized engines that they’d rigged up themselves through a few black market deals. She flew beautifully, and she was faster than most freighters her size which had got them out of a few tight spots.

She stepped onto the bridge and a small girl sat in the pilot’s seat. “Cox,” Cap ruffled her hair gently, “Let’s get this cargo to the client and get paid.” She handed the girl her tablet with a set of coordinates.

Cox flipped a few more switches, punched in the coordinates and flipped the ship-wide comm, “Ladieeeeeees and gentlemen. Well, gentleman I guess since Elias is the only – .”

Cap tapped her on the head, “Alright, you’re a real comedian Cox.”

“Thanks, Cap! Ok everyone, we’re jumping in 5 so strap yourselves in!” Cox flipped the comm off and spun the chair to face her. “So how’d it go?”

“Could’ve been better, I had to remove a problem.” Cap thumbed the ID card in her pocket absentmindedly.

Remove a problem? You mean you shot someone?! Whoa!”

“He recognized me.”

Cox tapped her chin thoughtfully, “You should get a mask.”

“That’s what I told Elias!”

“Oh yeah! What’d he say?”

Cap pouted, “He called me a stereotype.”

Cox giggled, “Well with that leg of yours, you kind of are.” The console beeped and a voice floated through the bridge, “Engines are prepped for jump.” Cox whipped her chair back, “Ready to go Cap? Jump’s set.”

Cap buckled herself into the co-pilot seat, “Ready.”

Cox flipped the ship-wide comm on again, “I hope you’re buckled in because we’re jumping in 5…” Cox pulled a lever, “4…” pushed a large, blue button “3… 2…” stomped on a foot panel, “1!”

Day 2:

Once they’d settled into the jump Cap stalked off to her room just off the bridge, flipping the ID card over in her hands. In the ass end of the galaxy some puffed-up loyalist had recognized her and nearly tossed her life back in the can.

She sat down heavily in her desk chair, tossed the ID card on a shelf and leaned back, settling her foot and prosthetic on the desk. It had been a long time since she lost her leg and she could have had the Armada grow a new one but she kept the prosthetic as a reminder of how dangerous the galaxy could be.

A soft knock on the door roused her from her daydream and she yawned as she said, “Door’s open.” The door slid open and a muscular woman in green overalls with dark skin and darker hair slipped through the opening.

“Hey Twigs,” Cap swung her feet off the desk and leaned forward, settling her elbows on her thighs. “How’re the engines looking?”

“Just fine, Cap.” Twigs set her hands on her hips and her brow furrowed in concern, “Elias said you two had a problem on the Princess.

“Ah. Yeah,” Cap rubbed the back of her neck and plucked the ID card off the desk. “Here. Take a look.”

Twigs stepped forward and looked over the card, her eyes flicking over the words. “I don’t know him.”

“Neither do I. But if he knows me, then other folk might know us.”

Twigs crossed her arms, “Think the Armada’s putting out feelers?”

“I’d bet my leg.”

Twigs sighed and ran her hands through her hair, “Cap, c’mon.”

“Right, right,” Cap turned in her chair and pulled a screen down from the ceiling. “Let’s figure out what they’re saying about us.”

***

And that’s as far as I got. I had this huge sweeping space opera in my head but sitting down to write it in a month just became too scary! I think about these characters a lot. I hope to revisit this universe this year and actually carve out the story the way I envision it.

If you have any tips for writing (and keeping it going) I’d love to hear them!

 


1 Comment

Liebster Awards

On March 6th I was nominated by Jasyla of Cannot be Tamed to complete the Liebster Awards questionnaire. I’ll give you 11 facts about me, answer her 11 questions, nominate 5 other bloggers and give them 11 of my own questions.

11 facts about me:

I love cosplay – I’m relatively new to it, but I really want to keep it up!

I’ve been playing video games for most of my life – Warcraft comprises a good third of my life alone.

I adore Studio Ghibli movies; Princess Mononoke is my favourite, but Kiki and Howl come very close.

I have moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease and because of it, I have a giant scar on my stomach from surgery that I’m rather fond of. I’ve been told I would have died if not for that surgery.

I have a dog, and two cats – my dog lives with my parents because our apartment is too small. My dog is named after a nurse from the children’s hospital where I had my first surgery, and my cats are named after Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural.

I have a degree in Geography and Environmental Management and I want to get into working with a conservation authority or the provincial or federal parks systems.

I have two younger brothers.

I really want to get a tattoo.

I’m terrified of heights – but love roller coasters.

I love to write and I’ve had ideas for novels kickin’ around for years now.

I’m one hell of a procrastinator and I will do pretty much anything to avoid actual work.

 

Jasyla gave her nominees a list of 11 questions to answer, so without further ado:

1. What’s the last song you listened to?

I’m listening to Indie 88 at work and Hozier’s “From Eden” was the song that played when I started this in the morning.

2. When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m fairly certain it was to be a veterinarian, but astronaut is a close second.

3. If you could live in any fictional world (from a game, book, movie, whatever) which would it be?

I think I’d most like to live in the world of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman. I remember reading and being fascinated by the daemons that were just another part of you. Each person’s daemon takes a permanent form when you reach puberty, and I’m endlessly curious about what mine would be. I kept thinking maybe my daemon would be a cat or something, but as I get older I’m thinking maybe a rat or a raven/hawk.

4. Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, or Baelish?

I love the Starks so much, and I’m still rooting for Arya to come back and wreck shit with Danaerys. A girl can dream, right?

5. Sci-fi or fantasy?

Fantasy. Dragons! Magic! Elves!

6. Do you finish most video games you play (if they have endings)?

Yes, typically. I’ve got a few unfinished games now, but the controls are atrocious so they’re difficult to get into. I don’t usually “100%” finish games, but I’ll get to the end of the major story arc and be satisfied.

7. If you had a superpower what would it be?

I’m so boring but I really would kill for flight. But I don’t mean Superman flight. I want Maleficent flight. I want a giant pair of gorgeous feathered wings that I can use to carry myself around but also look hella cool.

8. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

African or European?

9. What food could you eat every day and never get sick of?

If there were no dietary restrictions – bread. If I could solely subsist off of any type of bread (pumperknickel, warm crusty baguettes, etc) I would be a happy woman. Or maybe I’m just pining for real, fresh bread.

10. What video game character do you most identify with?

I had a lot of trouble with this one. At first I thought about Lara, but that’s only because (for me) she was the first woman who was the star of her own game. Maybe, Commander Shepard from ME2. She’s been thrust into this mysterious war with the Collectors fresh after being brought back from the dead. The game is all about your personal relationships with your crew members – your friends. If you were an asshole, some of them die. If you took the time to nuture those friendships and gain their trust, you can bring every single person back from what was thought to be a suicide mission.

Shepard is all at once an ideal and an achieveable goal. She’s unshakable, but still human. The wonderful thing about Shep is that my Shep is (probably) not be the same as anyone elses. I identify with my Shep, since I played her like myself – my choices, my ideas, my morals.

11. In order to complete a quest would you rather use might, cunning, or magic?

Cunning. If I can get something done sneakily, I’ll do it. If I can avoid actual conflict through using my wit to outsmart others, I’m all for it.

 

I’m tagging:

Vidyala of Manalicious

Rhidach of Righteous Defense

Lio from Battle Pet Roundup

Belghast from Aggronaut

Alaron from Fluid Druid

(I just realized I kind of did a BlizzWatch edition. Welp.) If you’ve already been tagged, feel free to ignore this and carry on (or include my questions with the other one!).

 

Questions for the tagged folks!

1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all costs covered, where would you go?  (and why!)

2. What is your favourite movie?

3. Coffee or tea? (Or neither?)

4. If you could meet anyone alive or dead, who would it be (people on earth, people from video games, people from books – anyone)?

5. What is your favourite season – spring, summer, fall or winter?

6. If you won an Oscar, what kind of role do you think you would have played? (Or what category would you have won for?)

7. What famous piece of art would you like to see in person?

8. How do you relax and take time for you?

9. Let’s say that the world’s technology suddenly rolls back about 50 years – things just stop working. What would you miss the most?

10. Now let’s jump forward – what technology do you expect (or wish) to see in the next 50 years?

11. You’ve been given complete creative control over the next WoW expansion – what are some things you would implement if there were no limits to cost/production or time?

 

Thanks again for nominating me, Jasyla. I look forward to seeing everyone’s responses!


2 Comments

For Ellexan

Darnassus was quiet. Far away from the chaos of the Dark Portal, it was no wonder she’d chosen a place like this. They’d all received the letter – enclosed with it, a tiny living seed. “I’ll be back, but keep this to remember me by.”

She clutched the small seed in her hand, tight to her chest. It was imbued with magic she’d seen from watching the woman who sent it. The lightposts illuminated the stones in the road as she walked further into the city. As she wandered down the streets, she fished an envelope out of her pack. She checked the address on the envelope, and turned down a narrow tree-lined path.

A small house sat at the end of the path, lit by small torches outside. Where the exterior was lit, the interior was dark. She frowned, this should be the right place. This is what I get, showing up unannounced. She clicked her tongue in annoyance, and checked the envelope again. She huffed and paced in front of the house.

She tapped the envelope against her hand. She sat on the doorstep, and set a small wooden devilsaur down beside her. She could leave a note to say she visited, and set up another date. Better than nothing, she thought. She managed to get a small leave from her duties but had to catch the boat back to the Eastern Kingdoms that evening. Waiting wasn’t an option.

She rummaged through her pack for a quill and ink. She cringed as she ripped a page from her notebook. Smoothing the paper over her knee, she scribbled onto the page. She tied the small wooden devilsaur to the letter and set it gently on the window sill before turning back down the path.

Ellexan,

I’m so sorry I missed you. I should have sent an owl ahead of me! I hope this note finds you well. I’ve heard you’re relaxing from adventuring, and I wanted to visit while I could.

I hope your daughter likes the small gift! It’s King Krush, you know that terrible green devilsaur from Sholazar? Anyway, I wish you the best, and I’ll be back to visit soon!

Kal


Leave a comment

The Commander pt 6 – Halamshiral

Vivienne clapped her hands together excitedly, “Evelyn darling, you’re a vision.” Evelyn smiled, “Thank you. I never would have guessed your seamstress could have created something so beautiful and practical.” Vivienne scoffed, waving a hand, “Of course she could, the woman’s a genius with fabric.” Evelyn peered into the mirror, twisting her body in the dress she was given. It was in the Orlesian style, with a large skirt and tight fitting bodice. She ran her hands along the smooth silk and velvet and sighed, “I missed dresses.” The seamstress included inner pockets for weapons – reasonably sized daggers, her bow absolutely would not fit – and her lock picking set.

She had requested blue or green fabric and the seamstress obliged with a velvet that shifted colours depending on the lighting. If she stepped into the light, the velvet shone blue. If she backed into shade, hues of green emerged. The corset was snug, crafted from dark, soft leather with simple boning underneath. Golden felandaris vines were woven into the hem of the dress and over the bodice, curving under her breasts. Evelyn smiled smugly, Cullen is going to die when he sees this.


Cullen slipped his leather gloves on and pulled them tight. He looked over and saw Dorian fussing over his own outfit. Josephine had insisted they all wear the same red military dress, “The Inquisitor should stand out, we are only there to support and complement her,” she’d said. “Cullen, you forgot the sash.” Josephine tsked as she wrapped the blue silk around his middle. “Josephine, really. I can manage -” her eyes flicked up and he swallowed hard. “Very well,” he mumbled.

As Josephine tied down the sash and finished with the buckles, Evelyn emerged from the guest dressing room. Cullen felt his breath catch as she turned to look at him. She flashed him a brilliant smile and it was hard work to keep his eyes from wandering over her form. She spent so much of her time in leather and mail that seeing so much of her skin made him blush. She swept over to him, skirts swishing as she walked. “Good evening, Commander. You look dashing, was the red your choice?” Her eyes twinkled but her face was straight, calm, one eyebrow quirked as she looked him over. He pulled his collar with a finger, “No, it was Lady Montilyet’s idea that your ‘retinue’ not outshine you, my lady.”

She hummed in approval, putting her hand on his chest, “I hope that by the end of the evening, my ‘retinue’ will consist of far fewer people.” She broke her aloof expression to wink at him, and floated out the door to meet Gaspard. Cullen put his hand where hers had been and muttered, “Maker’s breath.”


He watched as she wound the court around her finger. A kind word here, an ear for a complaint there and the people fell for her. She walked by him a few times, once for a report and again to ask if perhaps he’d be interested in a dance.

“No, thank you.”

“Oh.”

“No, I didn’t mean to -” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “Maker’s breath, I’ve been asked that question so many times, I’m rejecting it automatically.” He shrugged, trying to apologize. “I’m not one for dancing. Templars never attended balls.”

Evelyn smiled, to show him she understood. Her eyes swept over the women and men huddled near him and her smile faded. Her voice was sharp, “You’ve attracted a following, who are all these people?” He rolled his eyes, “I don’t know. They won’t leave me alone.”

The brief glimpse of anger was masked by a smirk, “Not enjoying the attention, then?”

“Hardly. Anyway yours,” He cleared his throat, taking a gamble with the tone of his voice, “Yours is the only attention worth having.” He was rewarded with a flush that crept up Evelyn’s neck and he grinned wickedly. A murmured, “We’ll speak later, Commander,” and she disappeared into the crowd of nobles.

She stopped by once more to complain just loud enough how he’d chosen a place where she couldn’t get him alone.


She leaned over the balcony, happy to have a moment to herself. The dress she had worn was ruined. Getting out of it had proved easy enough, but there was no way she would ever wear it again. Such a pity, it was a beautiful dress. Duchess Florianne tried to flee after assassinating Celene. In a flash of smoke and light Evelyn had cut the dress and bounded after her. Her party made quick work of Florianne and Gaspard became the Emperor of Orlais.

It was a successful night, but a twinge of guilt fluttered in Evelyn’s chest. She heard footsteps behind her and Cullen called softly, “Evelyn?” She waved him over. “Here you are, everyone’s been looking for you.” She laughed, “I’m surprised I got away for this long.” Cullen leaned on the balcony with her, she looked exhausted. “Things have calmed down for the moment. Are you all right?”

She let out a breath, puffing her cheeks. “I’m just worn out. Tonight has been very long.” He nodded, “Glad it’s over.” He hesitated for a moment before putting a hand on her shoulder, “I know it’s foolish but I was worried for you tonight.” Evelyn reached up to touch his hand in gratitude, a sad smile on her lips.

He squeezed her shoulder and a round of applause erupted from the ballroom as the band struck up a final song. Cullen gambled again, “I may never have another chance like this so, I have to ask.” He left the balcony and Evelyn turned as he bowed low, offering her his hand. “May I have this dance, my lady?”

Her smile set his heart galloping as she took his hand, “Of course, I thought you didn’t dance.” He slipped his other hand to the small of her back, “For you, I’ll try.”

 

I know the Inquisitor doesn’t wear a dress but I don’t care. She’s getting a dress because I say so. 


Leave a comment

The Commander pt 5

Evelyn sank gratefully into a cushioned seat and propped her feet up on Cullen’s desk. “The Commander of the Inquisition and the Herald of Andraste. That will have people talking.” Cullen looked over from the bookcases he’d been sorting and sighed. “You wouldn’t believe how quickly gossip spreads through the barracks.” Evelyn looked over at him, “Does it bother you?” He set the books he’d been sorting on a shelf and leaned back against the bookcase, “I would rather my -” he smirked and corrected himself, “Our – private affairs remain that way.” He pushed off the bookcase and walked over to her, “But if there were nothing here for people to talk about, I would regret it more.”

Cullen sat on the edge of his desk, brow furrowed as if he was unsure what to say next. Evelyn reached out and placed a hand on his forearm. Cullen’s expression softened and he laid a hand over hers. She tilted her head, one eyebrow raised in inquiry, “That day you kissed me on the battlements… How long had you wanted to do that?” He laughed softly, taking his hand off hers to rub the back of his neck. “Longer than I should admit.” She lifted her feet off of his desk and sat upright, elbow on the arm of the chair and rested her chin on her hand. “You don’t have much patience for nobility,” she smiled and teased him, “I’m glad my title didn’t scare you off.” Cullen raised his eyebrows, “I hadn’t considered… I have no title outside the Inquisition. I hope that doesn’t – I mean, does it bother you?”

She let him wait in worried suspense before saying, “No. If you care for me, that’s all that matters. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.” Cullen crossed his arms and stood up from the desk, “I’m not very good at this am I?” Evelyn opened her mouth to reassure him when he held up a hand and said, “If I seem unsure, it’s because it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted anyone in my life.” He knelt down in front of her, and placed a hand on her arm. “I wasn’t expecting to find that here. Or you.” She smiled mischievously, “Think you could slip away Commander?” Cullen laughed, “I believe so.” He stood up and offered his hand to her. She took it, rising gracefully and he motioned for her to walk out to the battlements where they had first kissed, “Wait for me?” Evelyn backed up towards the door slowly, “I’m a busy woman, Commander. Don’t keep me waiting.” She turned, pushed open the door and heard Culllen mutter, “Maker’s breath.”


Leave a comment

The Commander pt 4

Evelyn enjoyed walking the castle grounds mid-afternoon. The fortress was bustling, and happy chatter filled the air. She brushed her hand against the cold, ancient stone walls as she walked. She’d been away for weeks helping to close rifts on the Storm Coast and Skyhold had transformed. Once it was a damaged, abandoned ruin and now, a sanctuary for refugees and staging area for the Inquisition.

She strolled lazily through the gardens, and found Cullen and Dorian engaged in a game of chess. Dorian was leaning back, sprawled over his chair, chuckling at the Commander. He waved her over. Cullen’s hands were steepled, fingertips pressed to his lips as he scanned the board. As she approached, he looked up and a startled yelp of “Inquisitor!” caused Dorian’s laughter to ring out as Cullen awkwardly tried to stand while not tipping the board over.

Dorian smiled, teasing the Commander, “Leaving, are you? Does this mean I win?” Cullen sat down, glaring at the mage. Evelyn crossed her arms and joked, “Are you two playing nice?” Dorian leaned forward, and winked at her, “I’m always nice.” He turned to look at Cullen, “You need to come to terms with my inevitable victory.” He moved a piece on the board. “You’ll feel much better.”

Cullen smirked as he moved his piece in return, “Really? Because I just won, and I feel fine.” Dorian threw up his hands in mock disgust, “Don’t get smug. There will be no living with you.” He stood up and nodded to Cullen, “I enjoyed our game, Commander. I must return to my books, I’m afraid.” He passed by Evelyn and winked at her again, “Inquisitor.”

Cullen turned to look at her, “I should get back to my duties as well. Unless…” he gestured to the chess board, “You would care for a game?” Evelyn grinned, “Prepare the board, Commander.” He motioned for her to sit where Dorian had. “As a child I played this with my sister. She would get this stuck-up grin whenever she won -” he moved some pieces back to their starting positions and looked up at her, “Which was all the time.” As Evelyn sat across from him, he continued to rearrange the board,”My brother and I practiced together for weeks. The look on her face when I finally won… .” His expression softened a little and he sat back rubbing his chin, “Between serving the Templars and the Inquisition, I haven’t seen her in years. I wonder if she still plays.”

Evelyn moved the last of the pieces into position. Cullen indicated she should start. She pursed her lips in thought and moved a pawn forward, “You have siblings?” He moved a pawn forward in response, “Two sisters and a brother.” She placed another pawn, “Where are they now?” He leaned forward, “They moved to South Reach after the Blight. I do not write to them as often as I should.” He looks sad, she thought. “Ah,” his moment of reflection abandoned, “My turn.”

The clicking of chess pieces on the board punctuated the silence in the garden. Evelyn hadn’t played chess since she was sent to the Conclave and it was a relief to think of something other than the mark, or Corypheus. She had been taking longer to decide her next move when Cullen interrupted her thoughts, “You know, this may be the longest we’ve gone without discussing the Inquisition – or related matters.” He shifted in his chair, more relaxed than she’d seen him before. “To be honest, I appreciate the distraction.” She smiled, “We should spend more time together.” A fleeting moment of panic shot through her when she realized what she’d said. Cullen looked up from the board, surprised at first but a lopsided smile gave him away, “I would like that.” She was flooded with relief, “Me too.” She moved a chess piece, hoping to distract from the moment.

Cullen was grinning from ear to ear. “You said that,” he said softly. She raised an eyebrow at him, and he waved a hand. “We should… finish our game, right? My turn?” They continued placing chess pieces. He is good but… too confident, Evelyn thought. She met his pieces with counters, blocking his plans. He sat back and surveyed the board, impressed. “I believe this one is yours, well played.” Evelyn smiled, satisfied. Cullen leaned forward, “We shall have to try again sometime.”

Evelyn paced around her quarters the next morning, wringing her hands. “The commander of the Inquisition’s army, what are you thinking Evelyn?!” She stopped to scold herself in front of a mirror. “One: He and I should not be distracted. Two: I could… die. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone I get involved with.” She ticked off reasons on her hands. “Three… three…”, she paused, studying herself in the mirror. Her eyebrows were drawn together, forehead wrinkled in thought. “Am I not allowed to be happy? Am I truly expected to do this on my own?”  She remembered his look of surprise and then his small smile after she suggested spending more time together. She looked herself in the eyes and said, “Right. I’ll go speak with him now.”

She strode purposefully across the bridge connecting the main tower and Cullen’s new office. She paused before opening the door. “Just going to see where we stand. Need to clarify intent, yes.” She nodded, straightened her shoulders and pushed open the wooden door. Cullen was leaning over his desk, wearily flipping through reports from the field. He hadn’t heard the door open so she moved closer. “Commander?” She said softly. He looked up, and jumped a little when he saw her. “Inquisitor. At your service.”

Evelyn looked at him, and said, “I was hoping that you might have time to talk?” He nodded, and she added, “Alone.” Cullen looked around, “Alone? I… Yes, of course.” He motioned for her to follow him. Evelyn walked behind Cullen as he guided her out to a quiet section of the wall around Skyhold. He turned to face her and rubbed his neck nervously, “It’s… a nice day.”

“What?”

“It’s… There was something you wished to discuss?”

She took a deep breath, “Yes. I… I find myself thinking of you.” She paused, searching his face. “More than… well. All the time, really.”

Cullen looked away, and Evelyn felt her heart sink. This was a mistake. She turned to leave when he said, “I can’t say I wasn’t thinking what it would be like.” She turned back, “What’s stopping you?” He stepped forward, “You’re the Inquisitor.”  He came closer slowly, uncertain. “We’re at war and you… I didn’t think it was possible.” She leaned back against the stone wall, “And yet I’m still here.” He chuckled, “So you are.” Cullen stepped forward, more certain now. She felt her heartbeat skipping as she studied his face, his scar, his lips. He is so close. He shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe it, “It seems too much to ask. But I want to…” He ducked his head, lips parting to kiss her and – “Commander.” Cullen stopped, so close she felt his breath on her cheek as he exhaled, frustrated. Evelyn covered her face with her hands, embarrassed. Cullen rounded on the messenger walking up to them. “What?” He growled. The messenger looked up, “Sister Lelianna’s report? Sir, you said you wanted it delivered without delay.” Cullen stepped closer to the messenger, staring him down. The messenger looked from Cullen to Evelyn, and his eyes grew wide, “Or… or to your office! Right.” He turned on his heel and ran.

Evelyn peered at Cullen through her fingers, staring after the messenger with his back to her. “Cullen, if you need to – ”  In one swift movement, he turned and thoroughly interrupted her. His hands cradled her face as his lips met hers, his body pushing hers against the wall. She pulled him closer, grabbing a fistful of his fur collar. He smelled of leather, armor polish, and pine. He gently pulled away and rested his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry, that was…” He smiled sheepishly. She grinned back, breathless, “I believe that was a kiss. But I can’t be sure… it’s all a blur.” He laughed, tilted his head and said against her lips, “Yes, well…” She was certain that was a kiss.

 


Leave a comment

The Commander pt 3

Refugees filtered into Skyhold daily and the fortress was bursting at the seams. Evelyn was sitting in a corner of the tavern, trying to eat in peace. She had little time to herself after being named Inquisitor by her advisors. Check this list, sign this contract, meet with this nobleman; there was always someone at her heels. There was a messenger with a note from Lelianna;  “Please, Inquisitor. Mistress Lelianna  needs this order signed straight away.” She waved a fork at him, “I can’t bloody well sign anything if my hands are full. Tell her to ask Cassandra.” He looked around, “She said you might say that, and told me to tell you… uhm…” He paused, unsure. Evelyn looked up from her plate and pointed her fork at him,”Tell me what, exactly?”  He stepped back. “I… I will let you finish your meal, my Lady.”

Evelyn sighed. “Come back, I’ll sign the damn papers.” The messenger trotted back, and gave her the papers. She snapped her fingers, “Quill?” He jumped, “Oh yes, quite right.” and fumbled in his breastpocket for a quill. She signed her name – Lady Evelyn Trevelyan, Inquisitor – and handed the papers and quill back. He bowed slightly, “Thank you my lady, enjoy your meal.”

She shook her head, and had just finished her meal when another runner appeared. “My lady, I -” Evelyn held a hand up, “A moment, please.” The other woman was silent, and waited while she took her plate to the innkeeper. Evelyn looked at the runner, “Very well, what is it?” She nodded and said, “Commander Cullen wished to speak with you my Lady. He hasn’t had a chance to ask you about Haven.” Evelyn raised her eyebrows, “He does? I – right, of course he does. I am the Inquisitor after all.” She was unconsciously smoothing her coat down over her hips when the runner asked, “My Lady? Are you alright?” Evelyn felt her cheeks flush and cleared her throat, “Yes, tell the Commander I will be there shortly.” The runner shrugged, and ran off.

Evelyn blew out a breath. Maker, help me hold it together. She walked through the crowded tavern, nodding and greeting people waving at her. He likely wants to discuss troop movement and progress on rebuilding. She tugged nervously on her right-hand glove. She hadn’t spoken to the Commander since fleeing Haven, when he had carried her back to camp. She found him sorting through papers strewn over a makeshift table, with messengers waiting near him. As she walked up a few messengers were leaving, papers in hand. Cullen was talking to the last messenger who soon sped away as well.

The Commander turned to see her waiting, and nodded, “Inquisitor.” “Commander,” she tugged on her glove again, “You wanted to see me?” He cleared away the last of his papers, “Yes. We set up as best we could at Haven, but nothing could have prepared us for a dragon or… archdemon or whatever that was.” He looked up at the sky, “With some warning we might have…” He looks exhausted, she thought. Evelyn blurted out, “Do you ever sleep?” She covered her mouth with her hand and motioned for him to continue when he looked back at her. He leaned on the table, “If Corypheus strikes again, we may not be able to withdraw. I wouldn’t want to.” He slammed his fist down, making her jump. “We must be ready. We will not run from here, Inquisitor.”

“How many were lost?”, she asked. Cullen’s expression softened, “Most of our people made it to Skyhold. It could have been worse. Morale was low, but it has improved greatly since you accepted the role of Inquisitor.” She snorted, “Inquisitor Trevelyan. I wasn’t looking for another title. It sounds odd, don’t you think?” He looked shocked, “Not at all.” She sat on the table beside him, “Is that the official response?” He chuckled, “I suppose it is, but it’s true.” He stood up and faced her, “We needed a leader, and you have proven yourself.”

“Thank you, Cullen.” He smiled at her, one side of his mouth turned up. She smiled back, and looked away. Maker but he turns me upside down. “Our escape… it was close.” She hesitated,  “I’m glad that you… that so many made it out.” Evelyn met his eyes and he took a step forward, tentatively reaching out, “As am I.” She looked at his hand and he stepped back as if he’d held his hand too close to a flame. She hopped off the table, “I’m sure Josephine has something to discuss with me, I’ll see you later Commander.”

She turned to go, and took a few steps when he spoke in a soft voice from behind her, “You stayed behind.” Evelyn whirled around, willing him to say more. He spoke slowly, and looked straight at her, “I will not allow the events at Haven to happen again. You have my word.” She nodded, turned to leave, and hovered by the stairs. She looked back and he was watching her. “Commander…?” He seemed surprised that she had turned around, “I… yes? Inquisitor?” She tilted her head, trying to decide how to ask what she desperately wanted to know. “Did you leave anyone behind in Kirkwall?” Cullen shifted his weight, “No. I made few friends there, and my family’s in Ferelden.” She pressed on, “No one special caught your interest?” He raised his eyebrows at the question but responded, “Not in Kirkwall.”

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.