Killing Elephants: Chapter II
By: GabrielleduVent and Isolationistmagi
Amarina looked desperate. Her eyes were sunken and red with dark circles around them, and her cheeks were sunken and hollow, and it was clear that she had eaten very little recently. Most of this was relatively unnotable, as Sol’s attention was drawn to another part of her visage- there was a maniacal gleam in her eyes that turned her dove grey into the colour of steel. She hadn’t noticed that when Amarina had first burst in, but it had become pretty evident in the few moments since Amarina had entered the room. Had Amarina looked this crazy before? Sol gave the question a brief moment of thought then decided that no, this had been a recent change. That raised a lot of questions, but Solaryn waited for Amarina to speak first. “You. You are coming with me,” was what the elven mage said.
“I...” Solaryn started but then trailed off as she realized she didn’t know what to say. She was silent for a few moments then leaned forward in her chair. “Where and why?” It wasn’t exactly the most responsive reaction, but it was hard to know how to respond to this. Solaryn could think of only two occasions on which she had seen Amarina looking this horrible, andbot occasions had been during the time of the Blight. The first time had been just after the near destruction of the Circle of Magi by Uldred’s doing, and the second had been after Alistair had consented to perform Morrigan’s ritual. She hadn’t been particularly angry on either occasion though, just horrible looking.
Thinking on it, Solaryn was starting to ponder why Amarina would be at the Vigil at all when she was supposed to be in Denerim with Alistair. She was starting to get a vague idea of what the problem could possibly be, but those guesses did not constitute an adequate answer for why, and by no definition of the word addressed the issue of where.
“Alistair,” was all Amarina said. “No idea where.”
Well, “Alistair” at least validated Solaryn’s guesses, but that was neither informative nor encouraging. Solaryn rested her head in her hands and sighed, somewhat demoralized by the reality of what she had wanted to be a happy visit. Still at least she could say she was otherwise in decent shape- a thing that could obviously not be said for Amarina when she looked an utter mess. Still unsure what to do Solaryn gestured at one of the chairs on the other side of her desk. “Before I do anything Amarina, could you please sit down and tell me what exactly happened?”
Amarina grimaced, but sat down. “Alistair,” she said angrily, “disappeared.”
Solaryn wanted to react more passionately to that statement, but she forced herself to stay calm for Amarina’s sake. She was obviously not in a state for rational thought, and someone needed to be. “How did he disappear?”
“He ran away!” Amarina howled. “One evening. Just disappeared. No note! Nothing!”
Solaryn bit her lip and moved her hands away from her face. “How do you know that he ran away?”
“Because his things are gone. His sword is gone. His armour’s gone! This isn’t kidnapping. Besides, can you really imagine Alistair getting kidnapped?”
Solaryn frowned and shook her head. She remembered Alistair being enthralled by the desire demon in the Fade. It wasn’t impossible, but it was unlikely, and that meant that Alistair had in all likelihood run away on Amarina. Solaryn slid her hand under the desk and clenched her fist again at the thought- that Alistair could be so careless, could have the sheer nerve to do this to Amarina, upset her to no end. It reminded her in more than one way of what had happened with her clan before she became a warden. It was getting very hard for Solaryn to remain calm, but she tried anyway, for the sake of her friend. Two people panicking rarely produced good results.
So Solaryn offered her friend a cup of tea, and had her start at the beginning. Despite the occasional sobs that interrupted Amarina’s monologue. The story was not difficult to understand, Amarina had woken up one morning to find Alistair gone without a trace. Solaryn looked at the reports scattered on her desk and wanted to shriek in frustration, but that was not a luxury she had. As much as she wanted to help Amarina, she had her responsibilities at the keep to attend to, and could not abandon them to go on a wild goose chase such as the one Amarina had just suggested. She resolved to give the matter some more thought, but that still left the issue of what to do in the meantime. It wasn’t necessarily hard to resolve though at least.
“Amarina, I can’t promise I can help because of my duties here, you know that.” She said, choking back on her own emotions. “But it’s a moot point, you look horrible and I doubt very much that you’ve eaten or sleept in several days. I’m not discussing this further until you’ve had a chance to rest.”
“Can wait until you’re not about to drop dead from exhaustion.” It hurt Solaryn to see the look in Amarina’s eyes, but she couldn’t let her friend go anywhere in good conscience- Amarina was in no state to do anything but eat and sleep. “I’ll have a bed prepared for you Rina.” She paused and gazed out the window for a moment then turned back to her. “Get some rest and something to eat, and we can talk about this more tomorrow morning, okay?”
“Okay.” Amarina nodded like a small child; she really looked lost and tired, the way she sat in a chair, her entire body held up by nothing but sheer force of will. She reminded Solaryn of a broken doll, her limbs limp.
Solaryn hesitated for a moment then stood up and walked around the desk and helped Amarina to her feet, a thing she would never do under normal circumstances. She then paused for a few moments before pulling her friend into a tight hug, another extremely unusual gesture. “I’ll do whatever I can Rina, but I need time to think first.”
Amarina nodded. “Okay.”
“Do you think you can go down to the dining hall and eat something Rina? I have a few things I need to finish here but I’ll be done as soon as I can.”
“Um, no. I think I’ll sleep.” Amarina didn’t dare say that she couldn’t eat; she had not been able to. She had tried, when she had stopped at an inn on the way to the Vigil, but the food would just not go down her throat. When something happened, her appetite had always been the first thing to go. That, and if she opened her mouth any more than that, she’d probably end up crying.
Solaryn frowned and let go of her. “I think the room at the end of the hall to the left is free, I’ll make sure to have everything you need brought in.” She paused. “I’ll be in the courtyard later today when you want to talk about it more.”
“Okay.” She stood up, walked to the door, then stopped and turned. “Sol?”
Amarina opened her mouth, took a deep breath, and swallowed. “... Thanks,” she finally said. That was all she could manage.
Solaryn only nodded in response, there really wasn’t a proper way to express that Amarina was pretty much her only friend, and she’d do anything she could for her. There was a brief pause before Amarina left, and it was only when Solaryn had seen Amarina go into the room she had indicated that she let the door to her office close.
Moments later she was standing over her desk once more with quill in hand trying to read over a report. But as she read she was only reminded of just how much her duty as the Commander of the Grey interfered with every aspect of her life, even so far as to cripple her ability to help the only person in the world who she trusted completely. As she read she made a few trembling notes with the trembling quill in her trembling hand, but the emotion she had been keeping hidden while Amarina was in the room had reached the point where it refused to be checked any longer. She shouted in frustration and unceremoniously sent all the reports flying from her desk with a single sweep of her arm. She then collapsed into her chair and rested her head on her arms which she had folded in the empty space. She thought of all she had had to put up with to be where she was, and of all that she was about to go through to help her friend just because of her position.
It really did never end.