WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR DRAGON AGE II AND PERSONAL, UNFOUNDED SPECULATION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DRAGON AGE. READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
Arl Dumat had long been considered cursed by the western Orlesians. No civilized person would ever catch themselves climbing that dreadful peak. Yet on this cold, gray morning two figures were slowly ascending the slope, driven by adventure or madness or some sinister purpose.
One figure was clad in heavily stylized armor, which one might consider impractical except for the thousands of scratches marking it as battle-tested. A large pack was strapped to her back and various things dangled from beneath it. The other figure was wrapped in thick furs, though the quivering of the body beneath betrayed the skins' ineffective nature.
The fur-wrapped figure collapsed to the ground. The armored figure rushed over, the items on her back clanging together as she moved.
"Merrill!" shouted Tyria in fear. She gently cradled the Dale in her arms as the Staff of Parlathan slipped from the elf's fingers.
"I can't do this Tyria," gasped Merrill.
"Yes you can dearest," replied Tyria, and gave the elf a reassuring kiss on the forehead.
"I'm so tired. It's so cold up here."
"And it's only going to get colder at the summit, but we've still got to get there."
There was a moment of silence between them.
"Merrill," began Tyria, cupping the elf's hands in hers. "I know you may not want to hear this, but maybe you should consider using mag-"
"NO!" shouted Merrill, her face contorting in fear.
"But you could warm up much better that way-"
"No, Tyria! It's not an option!" Merrill looked away. "Not for something as silly as this," she mumbled.
"We'll save magic for when we really need it."
Tyria could only sigh in defeat.
For three years they'd been on the run, and one by one her friends had all been forced to turn away. Leaving Anders was particularly painful; their friendship had meant a lot to him, and before they parted he had begged once more for her forgiveness, for her absolution. But murdering countless innocents in the Kirkwall Chantry was too grave a sin for even Tyria's generous heart to forgive, and so with a cold "Goodbye Anders," she, Merrill and Varric set off alone.
Business and Bartrand's health had forced Varric to return to Kirkwall about a year-and-a-half ago. Since then Tyria and Merrill had been dodging all the various factions that had formed since the Breaking of Kirkwall or "The Last Straw" as many people were calling it these days. And with every Chantry gang and blood mage cult they encountered, Merrill had been increasingly unwilling to use magic. She explained it away as her desire to attract less attention towards the pair, but Tyria knew the real reason for Merrill's magical reluctance.
"You knew your blood magic always had a price, da'len. I have chosen to pay it for you."
Marethari's sacrifice and death had been hard enough – but having to slaughter her entire clan in self-defense had had an immeasurable impact on Merrill's psyche. Despite Tyria's best efforts to force the issue, Merrill had refused to talk about the incident at Sundermount to this day. But though it was clearly an unresolved issue for their relationship, Tyria was not willing to part ways over it. When she's finally ready to talk, I'll be right there ready to listen, she thought.
But lately the demons of Merrill's past had diminished next to the one that had now plagued the both of them.
It was a dream. The same dream, every night without fail. A faceless elf with dark skin. Something black floating in the green voids of the Fade. Two dragons flying high above. A mountain, cold and barren. And though its name was never spoken, both dreamers felt the words "Arl Dumat" impressed upon their minds.
So here they had come.
And there was no stopping now.
Tyria unslung the pack from her back and fished her greatsword from its bindings. She grabbed a blanket from the nearest pouch and hastily wrapped it around the blade, then slung the weapon to her back. She then hoisted the elf off the ground and slung her over her back as well. Merrill squawked in surprise.
"What are you doing?" she asked in protest.
"This is the part where you wrap your arms and legs around me. It's a movement you should be quite familiar with by now," she quipped.
"Hawke!" squeaked Merrill, embarrassed but too weak to argue.
"Six years together and you're still embarrassed about our sex life? I hope you never change, vhenan."
Tyria felt the elf secure her legs at the bottom of her breastplate and two slender hands clasping themselves under her chin. With her precious cargo now secure, Tyria carefully reached down to pick up the fallen staff and the conjoined pair now resumed their walk up the mountain.
Silence once again fell on the slopes of Arl Dumat.
"The Staff of Parlathan is not a walking stick."
"As he's family, I'm sure Parlathan will forgive me for my horrible oversight."
After several grueling hours of walking uphill, Tyria and an appreciative Merrill finally reached the summit. As soon as the elf was off her back Tyria sank to her knees, exhausted. Now it was Merrill's turn to be concerned.
"I'm all right," said Tyria, quickly hiding a grimace of pain. "You've just put on a few extra pounds, that's all."
"I have not!" shouted Merrill in indignation.
"See, you're already back to your old self," said Tyria with a smile.
"I swear you've gotten cheekier over the years."
"Varric had to rub off on me at some point," replied Tyria with a shrug of her shoulders. The warrior then turned to survey the summit and the crater. The scene was as empty and barren as it was in the dream.
"There's no one here," said Tyria, disappointed. "I mean, there was no one in the dream, but I was expecting something." She turned to Merrill. "Maybe we got the date wrong," she said jokingly.
"Staff," said Merrill, suddenly.
"Staff, give me the staff NOW." There was an unmistakable edge to Merrill's voice. Whatever was about to happen clearly outweighed her misgivings about using magic. Tyria tossed the mage the Staff of Parlathan and ripped her greatsword from its bindings; the blanket fell away from the blade.
"The Veil is tearing! Be ready for anything!" shouted Merrill as lightning crackled at her fingertips.
A mass of green and black energy suddenly erupted from a point some 50 feet away from them. To their surprise a figure in heavy red armor emerged from the vortex, which promptly closed itself.
"Merrill, what do you sense?" said Tyria cautiously.
"It's…mortal. I think. But there's something wrong – the Veil is very weak around him."
"I would imagine so, given what I've become," yelled the figure, surprising the girls by replying in the Ferelden tongue. "Please Merrill, lower your staff. And Serah Hawke, you can stop pointing that ridiculous blade at me."
"How did he hear us?" whispered Merrill anxiously. But Hawke had other concerns.
"What do you mean 'ridiculous blade'?" she yelled back.
The figure began walking towards the pair. Merrill kept her staff trained on him for most of the time, but lowered it when she recognized the pointy ears, dark skin and fiery red hair of the man standing before them.
"By the Creators," she gasped.
Tyrus Tabris smiled at Merrill and the Champion of Kirkwall. "I do apologize, serah. I'm a sword and shield man myself."
The three heroes were now seated at the edge of Dumat's crater.
"How did you do that little trick?" asked Tyria, curiously. "You're not a mage, so how…"
"I'm a spirit warrior," replied Tyrus. "A lovely school of combat and meditation that I learned from a rather…unique friend of mine. Though from what I've heard he has changed considerably since our last encounter."
"What do you mean?" asked Merrill.
"Justice," said Tyrus bluntly. "When I first met him he inhabited the body of a Grey Warden named Kristoff. When that body wore out Anders became his host and…well, you know the rest." Tyrus took a sip of water; he passed the skin to a grateful Merrill. "Anyways, he taught me how to communicate with the more benevolent spirits of the Fade. It seemed like a fair trade given that I was teaching him all about the mortal world in exchange."
"But that hasn't stopped you from seeking the not so benevolent ones, has it?" replied Merrill.
Tyrus stared at the elf in surprise. The Champion looked at Merrill and saw that the elf was staring at Tyrus' arm.
"You can see it, can't you?" said Tyrus curiously.
"Yes," replied Merrill in a whisper.
"See what?" replied Hawke, turning to stare at Tyrus' arm herself.
To her horror, an ugly black mass erupted from Tyrus' fingertips, twisting and writhing its way around his sword arm all the way up to the shoulder. Spikes and bumps and other strange protrusions erupted from the surface. Tyria backed away in fear.
"What…is that…thing?" she managed to say.
The dark mass unraveled just as quickly, disappearing back into his fingertips.
"The price of freedom," replied Tyrus grimly. He turned to Merrill. "You paid it with your clan's life. I am paying for it with my soul."
Merrill froze, unsure of what to say. Tyrus reached towards her with his sword arm. She flinched.
"Don't worry. I'm the only one it can hurt. Outside of battle, anyway."
She relaxed slightly as he laid his hand on her shoulder.
"I've heard the stories about you and your clan. A tale of blood magic ending badly is always one to make the rounds of the Chantry propaganda machine," he said with a chuckle. "And judging from the panic in your eyes you haven't talked to anyone about it, not even the one you hold closest to your heart." He glanced aside at Hawke and then turned back to Merrill. "But one day you will be willing to share, and that will be the day you start to heal. Just remember that with freedom comes choice, and with choice, consequences. You may not always have someone to take the blade for you."
Merrill nodded and managed a small smile.
"So Ser Tabris," replied Hawke, feeling slightly defensive about having someone so close to Merrill. "Care to tell us how that thing came to be on your arm?"
"I'm afraid that's a tale for another time, Serah Hawke," replied Tyrus knowingly. "And you needn't worry about my stealing Merrill away," he said with a smile.
That's more Lel-" he stopped himself. "She's not my type."
Hawke noticed his flub but let it pass. "Well if we're done not sharing our personal stories, can someone tell me why we're here on Arl Dumat freezing our nether regions to bits?"
"We have been summoned," muttered Tyrus darkly.
"Yes, but summoned by whom?" replied Merrill.
At that moment there was a faint roar from the clouds above.
"Weren't there dragons in our dream?" quipped Tyria in a worried tone.
"Yes, but they weren't attacking us," replied Merrill, her tone equally as worried. "At least, I don't think they were attacking us."
"They are the ones who summoned us," replied Tyrus. "They won't hurt us."
"Then why are you so on edge?" replied Hawke.
"The identity of the first beast I am almost sure of. It is the identity of the second that worries me – it's not a certainty, but I have a strong hunch."
"Who is the first beast?" asked Hawke.
"An old hag who talks too much," replied Tyrus.
"And the second beast?"
"A consequence of choice."
The dragons burst through the clouds with a thunderous roar that forced the three heroes to cover their ears. The beating of the dragons' wings kicked up a dust storm, and Merrill quickly conjured a barrier to protect the trio from the rock and ash. The dragons landed side by side on the edge of the crater, and as soon as their feet touched the ground they began to glow and spin, their bodies collapsing in on themselves as they transformed into human avatars.
"By the Mother's unholy Children," spat Tyrus angrily.
Tyria and Merrill immediately recognized one of the figures as Flemeth, who looked no different from their last encounter on the slopes of Sundermount. The Witch of the Wilds sauntered over to the two women and stood before them.
"Well, well, what have we here?" she said with a wide grin on her face.
The other figure was, to the girls' amazement, the spitting image of Tyrus Tabris. There were differences to be sure: golden eyes, human ears, black hair and a lighter complexion to name a few. But the facial features and general look were unmistakably that of the Hero of Ferelden.
The man stopped in front of Tyrus, who had a pained expression on his face.
"Hello Father," said the man with an evil smile. "Did you miss me?"
The black mass erupted from Tyrus' arm as he grabbed the man's neck. "Be silent, whoreson!"
"Warden, release him now!" barked Flemeth. But Tyrus pointed his other arm at Flemeth; a burst of pink light shot forth from it and knocked the witch to the ground.
"I take no orders from you, Witch!" He turned back to the man. "And you, whoreson, have lived ten years too many."
The black-armored man, cut off from his magic, clawed at Tyrus' arm to no avail. Hawke raised her sword and gazed confusedly back and forth between the two men, unsure of whom if anyone to attack.
There was a sudden flash of flame as Merrill launched a fireball at the two of them; the concussive force propelled the two fighters apart. The male dragon immediately leapt to his feet, his hands and eyes glowing with power, but hesitated as the black mass receded back into its secret place. Tyrus bowed his head and took a deep breath, gritting his teeth and clutching his arm in frustration. When he felt fully in control again, Tyrus raised his head with the same pained grimace marring his features. Flemeth took the opportunity to get up off the ground. An awkward silence fell over the group.
Merrill, ever the conversationalist, was the first to break it.
"The dragon's your son?" asked a perplexed Merrill.
"He is a consequence of choice, nothing more," began Tyrus.
"Come now Father, let's not spoil this joyous reunion with more hate and vitriol," said the man, not bothering to hide his insincerity. "Besides, tis' Mother you should be cross with, not me."
"I'll be cross with whomever I damn well please, whoreson."
"One question Father: are you referring to Mother or to yourself as the whore?"
"Enough Urthemiel!" barked Flemeth. "Hold your tongue or I will let him take it."
"Surely you cannot side with this mortal filth."
"That 'mortal filth' has endured more than you could possibly imagine, and his heart is far more courageous than yours will ever be. His sacrifices have enabled your continued existence, and his sacrifices will help save this world. As will yours," said Flemeth, who turned towards Tyria with this last sentence.
"Did you just call him Urthemiel?" said Tyria hesitantly. "But isn't Urthemiel…well, an Old God?"
"And dead?" chimed Merrill.
"No," said Tyrus bitterly.
"But you killed him didn't you? You slew the archdemon at the Battle of Denerim. You ended the Fifth Blight," said Hawke.
"I killed the archdemon," replied Tyrus. "I did not kill the Old God within it."
"A dark ritual, done on the eve of battle," said Urthemiel with a knowing smile. "In his greatest betrayal, the Hero of Ferelden lay with Morrigan, the Witch of the Wilds, and conceived a child born of the Taint. And when the archdemon was slain, the child became a vessel for the soul of the Old God – and thus, I was reborn." The Old God gave a mocking bow. "Urthemiel, the Lord of Beauty, at your service."
"His whore of a mother forced my hand," explain Tyrus. "She threatened to leave before the final fight, to abandon my friends and all others who stood against the archdemon's wrath. And…I must admit, I could not bear to leave-" He paused to regain his composure. "There was someone who needed me. Someone very close to me. But without the whore's magic none of us would have made it to the archdemon; for all her faults she was worth a hundred Circle magi." Tyrus swallowed. "So I took her deal. I made a choice, a strategic choice and a selfish choice." He pointed at Urthemiel. "And he was the consequence."
"He makes it sound like I'm a venereal disease or something," replied Urthemiel, pretending to be hurt. "Of course, he got his revenge on Mother. Killed her in cold blood. Smashed an Eluvian too; now that was just plain stupid."
Tyrus ignored the last part of his sentence. "Just how did you escape from the world beyond?"
"As fate would have it, I came through the Eluvian that the lovely mage repaired. Many thanks to you, dearest," said the Old God, blowing Merrill a kiss.
"But the mirror was broken!" said Merrill, astonished. "I couldn't even get it to work without…help."
"I am an Old God, silly child. Such things are well within my power."
"Oh really?" began Tyrus. "Funny how it took you all of ten years to figure out how to bust yourself out, whoreson. Obviously you got the whore's half-assed excuse of a brai-"
"ENOUGH!" yelled Tyria, and the men turned to look at her in surprise. "By the Maker, the both of you are acting like bloody nursery schoolchildren!"
"I would not speak his name if I were you," said Urthemiel darkly.
"On that we can agree," replied Tyrus just as darkly.
Merrill opened her mouth to ask about the men's aside, but her lover gave her a look that said "later," and the elf closed her mouth.
"So if the snarky one is Urthemiel," said Hawke, turning to Flemeth, "then you must be…"
"Razikale, the Dragon of Mystery," replied the Warden. "Not surprising, considering…"
Flemeth gave a small head nod. "Guilty as charged."
"How did you escape your prison?" asked Hawke. "I mean – you were imprisoned, weren't you?"
"Yes. For many years I was caged in a prison of the Usurper's design. I wasn't always a dragon you know; that was the form the Usurper chose to imprison us in. The indignity of a mortal vessel – but, I got used to it. Not that there was much of anything I could do about it," said Flemeth with a laugh."The story of Flemeth, her husband and that selfish lord is all true. What remains hidden is the identity of the spirit summoned in her quest for revenge."
"So you mean to say that Flemeth freed you from your prison?" replied Hawke incredulously.
"Believe me, I was just as surprised as she was! Whether it was fate or sheer chance I will never know, but her summoning spell found the tiniest crack in my prison and slipped through. I was ripped out the dragon's body and into the body of a tiny human female. Whatever happened that night we never found out, but I was glad to be free, and she was happy to have access to my power. I later consumed her; two souls are never meant to inhabit one body as we were. But I…inherited particular traits of hers, and to this day I keep her name in honor of that happy accident."
"Asha'bellanar…Flemeth…I mean, Razikale…oh dearie me, I don't know what to call you now," stammered Merrill.
"Asha'bellanar will do just fine," said the Old God with a laugh. "After all, we wouldn't want everyone to know my little secret now would we?"
"No, I suppose not," replied Merrill nervously. "Still, I can't believe I resurrected an Old God!"
"You and the Warden make fine company. You can swap stories to your grandchildren when this is all over!" cackled Flemeth.
Merrill and Hawke turned red.
"Well, I mean, obviously there won't be any grandkids for us," began Hawke.
"Not the old-fashioned way, I mean," added Merrill.
"But we could adopt a child. There are plenty of young boys and girls in Thedas who need a home, a family. We could provide that for them," replied Hawke.
Flemeth laughed once more. "You are a powerful mage, Merrill. I'm sure you could find a way to make it work. Nothing sordid, I promise," she said, noting the horrified looks on both their faces. "But…consider all your options. That is all I ask."
"We'll take it under advisement," said Hawke cautiously.
"Take it from me ladies," said Tyrus with a sneer. "Parenthood isn't what it's cracked up to be."
"Oh, you're a clever mortal aren't you?" snapped Urthemiel.
"But as much as I've enjoyed this lovely trip down memory lane," said Tyrus loudly, ignoring Urthemiel's last comment. "Let's return to the matter at hand. Why have you summoned us here, Witch? I think I know the answer, but I'd like to hear it from the dragon's mouth, tricksy as it is. I wouldn't trust the whoreson to tell me."
Urthemiel growled but stopped when Flemeth shot him a look. The Witch strolled to the edge of the summit and gazed out upon her brother's namesake plateau. When she spoke, the weight of her words was enormous.
"The Maker is returning."
Tyria's eyes snapped open. "The Maker…He exists? He's returning to this world? To Thedas? That's…that's wonderful! He can stop the impending war, He can bring peace and prosperity, He…" Hawke stopped when she realized that Flemeth, Urthemiel and Tyrus all had somber expressions on their faces. The reactions of the first two were not surprising, but the last one was troublesome.
"You're not expecting me to help you fight Him, are you?"
Tyrus turned to face Hawke. "For a long time I believed in the Maker and the teachings of the Chantry. But believe me Champion when I say that the Maker's return is the last thing any sane being wants." The Warden went and stood next to Flemeth at the summit's edge. "I have been many strange places in the last ten years, many of them within the Fade itself. And though He tried to erase the truth from existence, it still remains…as long as you know where to look." He turned to Flemeth. "Perhaps, Razikale, it is best if you explain."
Flemeth did not immediately speak, but when she finally did, there was a deep sadness in her voice.
"Long ago, my brothers and I ruled this world from the Fade, and we maintained the balance between the spirit realm and the realm of mortals. Then one terrible day the one you call the Maker appeared before us. His intent was not to save humanity but to utterly destroy it, for he found it vile and contemptuous in his sight. He would lay waste to both realms and reshape it in his own dark fashion. The seven of us fought long and hard against him, but we could not end him, nor could he end us. A truce was finally called, and we hoped to work out a lasting peace for the good of all. But the Usurper stole upon the Golden City during our hour of rest, and bound our spirits to the mortal world using the first seven dragons as vessels. He then trapped us beneath the earth in deep sleep, but at great cost to himself, for no spirit is meant to interfere with beings in the physical realm against their will. He retreated to the Golden City to regenerate himself."
"But you didn't give up, did you?" said Merrill.
"No," replied Flemeth. "We did not. We could still communicate within our dreams, and we debated long and hard about how to proceed. So, with great regret, we taught the Tevinters how to physically enter the Fade."
"You…regretted teaching the magisters that magic?" said Tyrus, astonished.
"Only because it made them easier prey to those from whom we'd tried to protect them. But such is the nature of war. Always sacrifices." Flemeth paused momentarily. "And for all their wisdom and might, the Tevinters were too power-hungry to care whether they literally lost their souls in the pursuit of absolute rule. At any rate, we hoped that the magisters would catch the Usurper in his weakened state, that in their sheer numbers they would end him once and for all. But he learned of our plan, and was waiting for the Tevinter armies in the Golden City."
"And so the darkspawn were born," murmured Tyrus.
"And the Fade twisted to the broken travesty it has become," added Flemeth. "And while the Usurper had not the strength to send the darkspawn directly to us, he made sure that the beasts would know how to find us regardless. The darkspawn would corrupt us and set us on our human creations. And though he thought of humanity as nothing more than a disease to be purged, the Usurper trusted that they would be smart enough to discover a means of destroying us. And thus-"
"-the Grey Wardens were born," finished Tyrus grimly.
"Add a few inspired fools to spread 'the Maker's goodwill' and the perfect plan was set in motion. My brethren would be destroyed. Magic would become a pariah, a thing to be feared rather than celebrated and harnessed. Humanity would slowly corrupt itself over time. And so the Usurper left this world to recover his strength, safe in the knowledge that his foes would slowly weaken themselves in his stead. Now he is ready to return, and he is determined to finish that which he began so long ago."
"Razikale used me to save Urthemiel from certain death," said Tyrus. "She used you to start the war between the Chantry and the mages. Do you know why? She's building an army to fight the Maker."
He pointed at Urthemiel. "The remaining Old Gods."
He pointed at Hawke. "Heroes and legends of the mortal realm."
He pointed at Merrill. "The magi unbound."
The Warden's body glowed momentarily. "The loyal spirits of the Fade."
Tyria could only stare at Flemeth with a numbing horror flowing through her veins. Is the Maker really going to destroy all of creation? thought the Champion. She knew that as an Old God (if she was indeed what the Warden claimed), Flemeth could easily be lying to suit her own agenda. But in all their previous dealings the Witch had been honest, more honest than one could expect from a being of such age and power.
She turned to look at Merrill, her love and the center of her being for the last six years. And she could see the same thoughts dancing in her eyes.
Hawke reached out her hand.
Merrill grabbed it and gave it a short, firm squeeze.
So be it, then.
"We will aid you in your fight against the Maker, Flemeth." How odd to be saying those words. "If what you say is true, then there is no cause more important than this. Anything we can do to spread the word, to gather assistance…we will do it."
Flemeth gratefully nodded her head. "I accept your generous offer, child."
"Wonderful," smirked Urthemiel.
"And what about you Warden?" began Flemeth. "Will you-"
"What do you mean, 'no'?" asked Merrill confusedly.
"No," said Tyrus harshly. "I don't care if all of creation is about to burn; I'm not helping the Witch and the whoreson. I have compromised one too many times; I will not trade one demon overlord for another. All should fold into oblivion and darkness. This is one battle that can't be won and I don't intend to stay for the carnage." Tyrus began to walk away from the group.
"That's not the optimistic attitude of the Warden I met all those years ago," replied Flemeth, who fell in line behind Tyrus.
"I'd be a fool to think that anything else was possible."
"Is that really what you think, Tyrus?" said Flemeth in a sympathetic tone.
Tyrus whipped around in anger. "Do not presume to lecture me, Witch! I have had enough of your schemes for one lifetime! Follow your own path and I shall follow mine!" He turned back around and resumed his walk.
"She still loves you, Tyrus. And though you deny your heart, you still love her as well."
The Warden froze in his tracks. Flemeth continued to advance.
"Even though duty and time drove you apart, a love like yours simply does not die."
"Silence, Witch," growled Tyrus.
"Even now she searches for you, hoping that there can be forgiveness between you."
"If you will not fight for yourself or for Thedas, fight for her."
"Fight for the woman who set your world ablaze."
"I will not-"
"Fight for the happy ending you truly deserve."
"For the last time-"
"And if not for her-"
"SHUT UP, DEMON!"
"-fight so that your daughter may yet have the chance to meet her father."
Flemeth had reached the unmoving Tyrus and gently turned him around to face her. Only dignity and pride kept the tears she saw in his eyes from falling to the ground below.
"Destiny has chosen you, chosen all of us whether we like it or not. Struggle against it, and we will perish. Flee from it, and it will swallow us. Embrace it, and we will be unstoppable."
The Warden stared long and hard at Razikale. Finally he closed his eyes in defeat.
"Will I lose myself to this?"
"Only if you choose to be lost."
Tyrus sighed in resolution. "Then I will fight for the Old Gods, for my family's sake." He opened his eyes. "And for my own."
Flemeth smiled and held out her hand. "Welcome to the war, Warden."
Tyrus shook the Old God's hand. "So it seems."
"Now, we all have business to attend to," said Flemeth turning to address the others. "Urthemiel and I must depart soon, for we have urgent business in the lands beyond Thedas. I have a special task for you three."
"And what is that?" asked Hawke.
"You must find Lusacan, the Dragon of Night. The spells binding us in our prisons also prevented us from revealing exactly where each of us was at rest. But…I do have a few ideas on where to begin your search." She handed Merrill a set of notes and an amulet. "Whenever you find our brother, spill a single drop of blood on the amulet's stone and speak my true name. I will hear the call and be at your side as soon as possible."
"Thank you Asha'bellenar," said Merrill with a bow.
"And now we must depart. Please be swift, for I am unsure when the Usurper will finally arrive – only that it is soon. Time is of the essence. Come Urthemiel," she said, beckoning to the other Old God. Urthemiel gave one last disdainful glance in Tyrus' direction before both Old Gods transformed into their dragon forms. With a fierce beating of wings and a cloud of dust, they were gone.
The three heroes were now alone on the summit of Arl Dumat.
"So Merrill, where are we to search first?" asked Tyria.
"I don't know…there are several places marked on this map…but I think we should start by looking in the Korcari Wilds. Most of the surface hasn't been mapped let alone the Deep Roads."
"Then that's where we'll go," said Tyrus. He closed his eyes, muttered something unintelligible and began to glow with a faint pink light. A Fade portal opened some ten feet away from the group.
"You've got to teach me that," said Merrill in amazement.
"We'll see," said Tyrus with a smile.
The Warden stepped through the portal. Merrill stepped through after him.
Tyria Hawke took one last final look at the summit of Arl Dumat.
May the Old Gods protect us, she thought as she stepped into the blackness.
The portal closed behind her.
All was quiet and bare on the summit of Arl Dumat.
After all, no civilized person would ever go up there.