´How did it come to this?´
Limell instinctively grimaced, her eyes clamped shut as the sickly sweet, red liquid ran over her face, staining her light brown hair, flowing down her neck and settling inside her armour. When the trickling ceased she eased open her eyes and glared defiantly upward at the bulbous form of Armand Corneille Jacques Edouard Bellanger the Seventh, his wide, yellow toothed grin framed by a neatly trimmed red goatee and his flushed, fat face.
Armand's giant frame, made even larger by the multiple layers of Orlesian finery he adorned himself with, leered downward at his would-be assassin while his private guards held her down on her knees. He giggled girlishly and snorted between a series of strained breaths, his belly swaying and bouncing as he swirled the contents of a wide red wine glass.
“She is a delicious little elf isn't she?” Armand licked his lips and swilled half the contents of the cup in a single gulp. He bent down to level his head with hers, roughly gripping her jaw in his free hand, causing more of the deep crimson wine to spill over her rough, leather armour. “I do so love the taste of young flesh.”
Limell stifled a yelp as his greasy fingers dug into her skin, and his hot, alcohol laden breath overwhelmed her senses like a putrid cloud. She quivered in disgust at the thought of enduring the tortures this slobbering Orlesian oaf had in mind for her, and all she could do was go over and over how she had gotten into this situation. It was supposed to have been an easy job, so why were these Orlesian pigs holding her down like this? Why was this slobbering wretch leering at her body? Why did she have to suffer this indignity?
It was all his fault.
She could see him now, standing behind Armand. That mage, the elf with the golden hair and ferocious, blue eyes. She had scaled the walls of the estate, subdued the guards behind a crate, picked the locks, and dodged the servants, crept across the halls to hide her movements, her dagger raised and thrust to kill, but her hand was stopped by another's will.
She could still see Armand sat at the head of his dining table, the goblet of wine in his grubby grasp falling from his trembling hand, his quivering lips caked in the juices of the day's ´catch´. She had been so close, her dagger was mere inches away from piercing his skull, but that man, the elf in the red travelling cloak, with one wave of his hand had ended it all. Her body trapped in ice, she had been suspended in mid-flight, and could do nothing but watch the snivelling Orlesian filth as he shook in utter dismay.
And now she was as that thing's mercy, and all she could do was struggle helplessly until she became the next hors d'oeuvres in this monster's daily feasts.
Armand, giddy with power, raised his free hand to strike Limell. Limell braced herself for the slap and closed her eyes tight... but it never came. Opening her eyes slowly, she looked up to see the golden haired elf was holding Armand's arm in place, preventing him from laying his hands on her.
“W-What are you doing?!” Armand demanded, flabbergasted at the intervention.
“You look tired, Lord Bellanger.” The elf spoke in deep, even tones. “Why don't you leave this one to me, and rest.”
The tension coursing through Armand's body seemed to disappear all at once, and his face became pale and vacant. “Y...Yes.” He said quietly. “I'm tired... I need to rest...”
“Please,” the elven mage nodded to the soldiers holding Limell, “Take his grace to his chambers, and see that he is made... comfortable, for the evening.”
The guards looked at each other, slightly perturbed by the sudden change that washed over their employer, but didn't dare question the orders of his pet mage.
Limell remained on her knees as the room cleared, and the heavy doors of the dining hall slammed shut with a thunderous echo.
“What are you going to do to me?” Limell asked.
“I'm going to let you go.” The mage replied; a saccharine smile spread across his face.
“But... Why? … Who are you?”
“I've been called a lot of things for the past several years.” The mage laughed. “´Knife-ears´, one of my favourites, ´that elf´... humans are always so eloquent are they not?” Though he tried to hide it with a smile, the mage's voice was thick with venom as he spoke. “I suppose the years have been kinder since then, some people have even called me ´hero´. But mostly... they called me ´Warden´.”
Limell's eyes went wide with realization. The hair, the eyes, the red robes, and the name, but how could it be? How could 'he' be here?
“I'm afraid I can't let you kill him... yet.” The Warden spoke softly. “Though he is disgusting, he has connections that I need. And my needs outweigh the petty grievances of whichever Hightown family hired you to avenge the girl that's swimming around in his stomach acids.”
“But you're a Grey Warden... So why? Why would you be here with that thing?”
“Do you think I care about the Grey Wardens? You're sadly mistaken. They would have me die in a pit, fighting a never ending horde of monsters... I will be free of them, and I will be free of their taint.” The Warden snarled, his face twisting with disgust at the thought of the order.
Drawing a dagger from his cloak, The Warden threw the blade to the ground before Limell, where it became embedded in the flooring. Limell looked at it, then back at him, but before she could speak he pointed at the door leading to the entrance hall and the streets of Kirkwall.
“They call these ´Low Blades´, or at least that's what they're calling them now. It's a Qunari weapon, the representation of some poor sap's life that ended up in the wrong hands. If I'm right, that should be enough for you to buy your way back into the Coterie, after you return without his head.”
“...Why let me go?” Limell asked, taking the dagger in her hands. “Why not just kill me?”
“Kill you?!” The Warden exclaimed, seemingly offended. “You and I are the same. Both of us forced to play these human games while our people remain slaves to their whims and abuses. If you leave peacefully, I have no reason to harm you. We will be gone soon, and you will not find him until I have no more use for that shell of a man.” The Warden sighed and turned away from Limell, walking toward the door Armand had disappeared through just moments ago. “Go. There are plenty more monsters to satisfy your blade.”
For a moment, Limell considered rushing at the Warden, stabbing him in the back and completing her mission. But even though he wasn't facing her, she could still feel his eyes, looking right through her to everything she was hiding inside.
“...Thank you.” Limell said, getting to her feet, watching him walk away.
“One day,” He said as he opened the door to the living quarters, the creaking of the ancient hinges echoing around the cavernous room. “I will free our people.”
Limell stood and watched the door close behind him with a crash, and as the sound reverberated around her, she barely recognized the last few words that flowed from his lips.
“Even if every human in this world has to die.”