Rynyalla, In The House of The Jade King

The smell of burning in the morning

Eurus was watching the new gardener at work when the scent of burning reached his nostrils. He got up with alacrity, motioning the long-faced druid back to work, and did not quite run towards the citadel and the smell. His nose let him through the meandering passageways into the stone kitchen on the first floor and, hearing a voices, he slowed his walk until he was standing in the door frame.

His Goddess – champion of Skyhold, savior of the winds and hero of Thur-Aniste – was frowning down at a smoking and singed lump on the stone kitchen floor. Her arms were white to the elbows, and she was sucking one long index finger. As he watched, she ran a frustrated hand through her hair, leaving white streaks behind. She pulled her finger out of her mouth and frowned down at the red digit.

“Well Tal, it would be rather a shame to save Skyhold from Ghix only to lose the entire castle in the kitchen fire. Or perhaps ironic. I think, no matter your talents, you might have trouble turning that into an epic adventure.
And you,” Whirling on the grinning man lounging against the stone counter, “aren’t you supposed to be teaching, not distracting?"

Eurus smiled. The three now wrinkling their noses at the burnt toast smell had come a long way in the two short weeks since five bedraggled figures had come tumbling into the citadel’s garden, physically whole, but with wide and staring eyes. Tears washed clean tracks in Sorrel’s grubby face as she stared wildly around. The absence of the Coyotl struck the Steward like a physical blow, especially in this place that had been Viper’s home and his care in Skyhold.

None of the party had spoken for a long time, and Eurus had held his own questions back, fussing instead over baths and food. His own relief playing itself out in attentiveness and care.

It wasn’t until they were all reassembled in Sorrel’s personal chambers that they began to talk. He still wasn’t sure he had heard the whole story, but he was a patient man.

He didn’t hear it for many years.

They were, for the most part good years. Drift prospered, and the winds remained calm. There were storms, of course, most often at night, after which his lady would rise from her bed bleary-eyed and exhausted. But more often, there was laughter in the halls of the citadel, and even he eventually got used to the smell of burning that marked Sorrel’s ill-conceived attempts to bake. Skyhold’s heroes and came and went freely, though after a time, they were away more. When they were, the night storms were more frequent, and his mistress took to closeting herself in sanctuary more and more.

It was on one such night, waked in the wee hours by the force of the wInds, that Eurus broke the long-standing taboo and entered the Goddess’s chamber. He found her standing, gazing out into Skyhold, silhouetted against the bleak grey night. She didn’t turn when he came in, but she did speak.

It took until dawn to recount it all, the tear in reality that had opened into Erys’ Warren, Adrie’s death and resurrection, the weeks of guilt, hiding her intentions from the Skeleton Crew, the sundering of that alliance and the dawn of a new one. The infiltration of Thur-Aniste. She alternately wept and stared into Skyhold, mourning the friends she had lost, and the many thousands who had died to save her Warren.

After she finished, she sat on the big blue bed and he stroked her hair wordlessly until all of the tears were gone. He didn’t leave her side until she fell into exhausted sleep. Then it was his turn to stare out at the sky, full of wonder and joy and terrible sadness.

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Ravynn Selkie

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