Part Eleven: Blood & Ashes


 

The quest for Andraste’s ashes leads them into the southern end of the mountain range. There, they find a town full of cultists who worship a dragon as the reincarnated saint, Andraste. They are lead by a high priest (instead of a priestess, very strange) of the chantry named Kolgrim. The intrepid explorers clear out the cultists and the smaller male drakes in the ruins that are now the dragon’s lair. However, they are halted before the ancient temple of andraste by Kolgrim.

Kolgrim says he will ask the dragon to let them pass up to the temple, where they can attempt to survive the trials to recover the urn of ashes. In return, he asks them to take a vial of the dragon’s blood and pour it on the ashes. In this way, Andraste the dragon will remember her former self, and… well, be more of a saint to them than a pet dragon.

Valorien agrees. Kolgrim calls the dragon with his horn and placates her. Valorien, Alistair, Tarroth, and Wynne enter the ancient hall. There, they meet a spiritual guardian who warns them of several deadly tests to come.

 

After several harrowing physical and mental challenges, they paused to rest in a long hall. Alistair looked at Valorien. “You’re not really going to pour dragon’s blood on the Ashes, are you?”

“Of course not.”

Alistair looked relieved. “But you told Kolgrim you would.”

“Would you have preferred to fight him, his men, and the dragon?” Valorien asked with an arched brow.

“No, but… you lied to him. You never lie.”

“Of course I lie, Alistair.”

The knight pondered this a few minutes. “I can’t really picture that,” he said at last. “You’re always honorable. Or at least direct. Besides, you told me you would never lie to me.”

“I haven’t, Alistair,” Valorien assured him.

“Unless…,” he narrowed his eyes in thought, “…you lied to me about not lying to me… and you’re lying to me now.”

The elf sighed.

“Well, if you’ll lie to Kolgrim, why won’t you lie to me?”

“You are my comrade. We are sworn to fight a common enemy. It would not do for there to be strife and lies between us.”

Alistair nodded. “You do realize, though, sometimes a little lie here and there makes it easier to get along with people.”

Valorien looked at him. “Do you want me to lie to you?”

“Ah… maybe. Sometimes. At least pretend to laugh at my jokes?” He shrugged.

“Have you ever lied to me?”

Alistair bit his lip. “Actually, I haven’t. Not about anything important, anyway.” He frowned in thought. “Maybe I’ve said something fanciful in jest. Something you weren’t supposed to take seriously.”

“He lies to me often enough,” Wynne grumped.

“I do not!”

“See? There he goes again.”

“I never!” Alistair stammered out a protest.

“Need I remind you about the sock incident?” Wynne gave him a pointed look.

“Right. Oh look, it’s time to move on then.” Deftly, Alistair sidestepped that conversation. Wynne rolled her eyes.

 

They come to the center of the shrine and must pass through the immortal flames. Valorien asks Alistair to retrieve the ashes, being as the former Templar is an adherent of that religion, and the elf is considered a pagan, worshipping the old gods.

They exit the temple, and come down the slope to Kolgrim, who is furious. He asks them why they haven’t fulfilled their mission for him. Valorien tells him, ‘But we did pour the dragon’s blood on the ashes. Can’t you tell?’ Incensed, Kolgrim attacks them. They dispatch him and huddle under the cliffs where the dragon is roosting. Valorien draws Kolgrim’s men under the cliff’s shadow to deal with them. Then they do a runner for the other ruins, and return to civilization with Brother Genitivi.

 


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