With sincerest apologies to George Lucas.
Soldier’s Peak, Part 1
“This way!” Alistair yelled. He bolted down a hallway, and everyone else followed. They took so many turns, Bannon had to wonder if the fortress had been purposefully built like a maze.
At least the undead were slow.
As everyone paused in a corridor, panting, Bannon asked Wynne, “Can you create a barrier? Like in the Circle Tower?”
She nodded, not wasting her breath. A few moments later, she worked her magic and a shimmering curtain of energy flared over the doorway. Moments after that, their pursuers were hurling themselves against it, shrieking in hungry rage.
“This is great, Alistair,” Bannon told the Templar. “I’m so glad you talked me into this. A safe, secure fortress where we can find out all the secrets of the Grey Wardens.”
“I’m sure they know all the secrets; they just don’t seem interested in sharing.”
Bannon looked over his shoulder at their guide. “Levi, I hate to break it to you, but your great-great-grandmother is possessed.”
“No?” the merchant shot back. “I just thought she’d really let herself go.”
Wynne snapped, “I can’t believe you boys are cracking wise at a time like this!”
The energy barrier crackled. Leliana returned from a short reconnaissance down the other end of the corridor. “It’s a dead end.”
“Can’t get out that way,” Alistair said.
“It looks like you’ve managed to cut off our only escape route,” Morrigan griped.
“Well maybe you’d like it better back in the grand hall where they could surround us, witch!”
“Blast ’em!” Bannon yelled as the barrier collapsed.
Wynne and Morrigan gamely leveled their staffs and peppered the oncoming warriors. They stumbled, but did not fall.
“They are unusually resilient,” Morrigan said through clenched teeth.
“Well,” said Alistair, “they’re Grey Wardens.”
“Hang on,” Wynne said, leaning heavily on her staff, puffing. Bannon worried about her keeling over. He pulled out Melinda and gamely shot arrows at their attackers, which didn’t make one bit of difference.
But it gave Wynne a moment to gather her strength and send a stone fist hurtling into the horde, knocking them down, rattling their teeth.
A wave of blue-white energy rolled down the corridor in return. It didn’t kill them, or do anything at all that Bannon could tell.
“Great,” said Alistair; “They brought Templars.”
Morrigan hissed an unladylike curse, and Wynne leaned on her staff again. “I’m out. I can’t….”
“Bows!” Bannon called to his troops. The undead were shambling to their feet. This wouldn’t do much, but they had to buy time for the mages to recover.
Leliana, Bannon, and Zevran fired down the hall, backing slowly but inexorably towards the dead end. Bannon hoped it wouldn’t be literal. “Wasn’t there a window or anything?” he called to Leliana.
“This is some escape,” Morrigan snapped. “When you came in here, didn’t you have any plans for getting out?”
“He’s the brains, sweetheart!” Alistair yelled, cocking his head at Bannon.
“Well I didn’t–!”
He was cut off when the assassin pulled a flask from his belt and hurled it at the wall. It exploded in a shower of rock dust and rubble, throwing Bannon and the others to the floor. Bannon spit out some dust. “What the hell are you doing!?”
The rush of desperate battle made the Antivan’s accent all the more breathy. “Someone has to save our skins! Into the midden chute, Chantry Boy!”
Levi was the first to leap into the hole in the wall, then Morrigan followed. Bannon and Zevran kept shooting gamely at the undead warriors while Alistair and Leliana assisted Wynne. Then Zevran threw his bow and dove headfirst after it with a whoop.
“Sten, get in there,” Bannon told the reluctant qunari.
Sten peered down the hole with a scowl. “Is it wide enough?”
“Just get in there, you big horny oaf!”
“The odor is–”
“I don’t care what you smell! Just get in there!” The elf backed away from the reaching undead hands. If the blasted qunari didn’t move–!
He bumped into Sten, who reluctantly climbed into the hole. Bannon jumped feet-first after him. He hoped the qunari didn’t get stuck, or this would be a real short trip!
Sten landed heavily and braced on his hands and knees to avoid going face-first into the muck. Perfect. Bannon landed on the qunari’s back, bent his knees, and leapt forward towards the edge of the garbage pile. He tucked into a roll and came up with noting more than some melon rind on his shoulder guard.
The others hadn’t been so lucky. Levi and Leliana helped Wynne wade out of the pile, which was difficult to do in long robes. Morrigan might have been wishing for clothing that covered her a bit better. Chunks of cabbage and less savory things had taken up nesting in her cloth drape. Her feathers were broken and bedraggled, and her face — well, earth tones suited her complexion, anyway.
Alistair picked himself up, took one look at the witch, and burst out laughing. “Hahahahha– GACK!” This last as the witch flung a handful of muck into his face. At least half of it went into his gaping mouth.
Sten rose slowly to his feet, teetering on the spongy, slippery, insecure footing. Zevran managed to wear offal with aplomb, acting as if he did this all the time. Of course, knowing him, perhaps he did.
Morrigan slogged out of the pile. “A midden heap!” she railed at the assassin. “What a wonderful idea! What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!”
Zevran fished his bow out of some vegetable peels. “It could be worse.”
From the hole above came an unearthly roar. A muffled explosion sounded, and fiery light flashed from within the hole, like lightning in the clouds. Everyone looked up. “It’s worse,” Alistair said.
“Are they coming after us?” Wynne asked incredulously.
“They’d have to be fools,” Morrigan said. “Of course, they are Grey Wardens, and they do have Templars.”
“Hold it!” Bannon said. “Nobody move!” They all froze and looked at him, while he eyed the midden heap. It was sloped from the center, oozing with muck and rotting kitchen scraps, and stank to high heaven. “Why is this midden heap so fresh?”
Alistair made a face, beneath the offal. “I’d hardly call this ‘fresh.'”
“No, no. If no one’s been here for decades, and I don’t think dead people eat — not even dead Grey Wardens. So this all should have rotted away and turned to dirt by now. And that,” he said, pointing at the ‘decoration’ on Alistair’s breastplate, “shouldn’t be so gooey.”
Everyone frowned in thought. Except perhaps for Sten, who just frowned. Bannon got the feeling the qunari was giving him a threatening dirty look, but he was carefully avoiding looking in the giant’s direction.
Zevran, Alistair, and Leliana suddenly looked up, as did Wynne and Levi a moment later. They stared at something high over Bannon’s head. He stepped out away from the wall, followed by Sten, and turned to see what it was.
They were at the base of a large tower, and a window on the top floor was glowing with lamplight.
“Well,” Bannon mused, “looks like someone’s home after all.”
Yeah, I had just finished watching Star Wars Uncut when this came rattling around in my Brain. Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to do with Soldier’s Peak, so this bit was more exciting and entertaining than anything I could come up with. :X
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