Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 34

We Are the Champion

"Arishokost. Qun-aneen ebra-toh." Fenris's voice rang out, the words unfamiliar to me but clearly meaning something to the Arishok. He dropped his hand from the hilt and peered at my friend. "You have granted this woman basalit-an. By your own admission she now has the right to challenge you."

"If you truly knew the Qun, elf, you would not suggest I battle a female." He sounded both furious and dismissive. That hand began to rise again.

"But she is no female. She is a respected outsider, by our own words."

The Arishok considered this. “What you say is true, elf.” He turned to me. “Then I challenge you, Hawke. We fight for the thief.”

“Just so I understand,” I said in a clear, carrying voice, “we duel one-on-one. If I win the rest of your people take the book and leave, today.” There wouldn’t be too many witnesses left if he refused to keep his end of the bargain but at least his own men would know him forsworn. I was counting on their rigid code of conduct saving the citizens of Kirkwall, assuming I lived out the afternoon myself.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 35

The Rebellious Pupil

Garrus, Mordin and I hammered our way through the Blood Pack in the next room. Apparently they chose the walkways that lined it for the storage of explosives because every third crate blew up, a great help to my team although it made cover a little scarce.

The crates acted as a pretty good indicator of the average intelligence of these guys. They had forgotten the damned things would explode and tried to hide behind them during the firefight. Even seeing their fellows blown up didn’t dissuade them from trying the same tactic. Once I even exploded a lovely chain of boxes, clearing twelve feet of Krogan and Vorcha—boom boom boom—in as many seconds.

All in all we enjoyed ourselves. Obviously we’d taken down their A team on Omega. If there hadn’t been so many of the idiots they would have been no threat at all. We traipsed down the stairs and finally found the chief, Weyrloc Guld. I only know his name because I asked Wrex later. It wasn’t really the time for introductions just then and I wanted it for my scrapbook.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 33

An Offer from the Arishok

I needed to make sure Bethany knew about Mother before we did anything else. Gamlen had promised to send word but he’d hardly proven the most reliable of family members. Once I’d helped my sister to her feet she embraced me, gingerly to avoid being impaled on my pouldrons. Before I could decide how to ask delicately if she knew our mother was dead, however, Bethany proved she did.

“Did mother suffer, sister, or was it at least brief?” As always, she wore that earnest expression that made me want to tell her everything was going to be all right. It had never worked on Carver, who used to nail her braids to her bed when she was sleeping, but the rest of us had coddled her utterly. No wonder she had become so comfortable in the Gallows where no outside concerns intruded unless a mage sought them out.

As I hadn’t been there when Mother had been beheaded and sewn onto that monstrous, piecemeal body, I couldn’t really answer her question. I did the best I could. “She lingered a bit but she didn’t seem to be in pain,” I said. Bethany nodded mournfully but more pressing matters interrupted our talk.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 34

After a chattery greeting during which he carefully avoided any mention of genophages or Krogan live birth rates, Mordin let me explain that Wrex had already directed us to his Scout Chief. Wrex accompanied us a down the staps, ostensibly to show us the way.

“You’ve impressed the ambassadors in our camp, Shepard,” he said quietly, pointing unnecessarily at the Krogan we needed to see. “If you wipe out the males of Clan Weyrloc you will have strengthened my position as much as I have in the past two years. I’m not suggesting you go in there looking for slaughter, of course,” he cautioned with a sly wink of the eye his snout hid from those still standing near his rough throne.

I tried not to smirk too much and suppressed my dance of anticipated havoc. We could hardly admit to the visiting representatives that I was going to go take out another clan. That wouldn’t be politic, after all. Nor would sending home their dead bodies, as would surely happen if we admitted our intention.

Questions: Hawke and Sebastian

Hawke: Was Andraste a virgin?

Sebastian: No, of course not, Hawke. She was married to Maferath before the Maker came to her.

Hawke: And after she became the Bride of the Maker, did she abandon that marriage?

Sebastian (as if reciting a lesson): The Chant teaches that Maferath continued to fight at her side until he became jealous of her sweeping success in battle and in winning the hearts and minds of all she conquered.

Hawke: Do you suppose she remained chaste, then, as she and her husband fought their way across Thedas? Did they sleep in separate tents?

Sebastian (chuckling): I’ve no idea, Hawke, but you must remember that she had two husbands at that time. The Maker would never feel jealous of any mortal but I imagine Andraste gained much spiritual satisfaction from communing with him.

Hawke (raises eyebrow): Spiritual?

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 32

Certain Doom and a Reprieve

The looters discouraged or dead, we returned to following bands of Qunari across Lowtown. For every ten we killed two more hauled another well-dressed human off toward Hightown. Satisfying as it was to finally let loose on them, we’d have to make our way up as well and find out what they had planned.

As we followed the warren of alleys, circling around closed gates and collapsed buildings that still smoldered and spit flame, we found ourselves outside Gamlen’s apartment. Instead of guards or armed thugs fighting for their lives we found three men wearing impressive blue and silver armor in battle with the Qunari. They fought well but were hopelessly outnumbered.

We threw ourselves into the fray and, between the seven of us, we made short work of the remaining troops. In the quiet that followed, the sounds of struggle much subdued after the swath we’d cut across Lowtown, one of the men bowed and introduced himself in a ridiculously formal Orlesian accent as Rochard, a Grey Warden.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 33

Rites and Wrongs

After Okeer’s claims that the Krogan coddled the few of their babies that lived through birth I hadn’t expected the rite to be anything particularly dangerous. I hadn’t seen too many wimpy examples but who was I to question the experience of a warlord?

At first, it wasn’t. After telling Urz to stay we went to a blasted circle of ruins raised a few steps above the shattered plains that covered the planet between bombed-out cities. A button on one of the walls produced a portentous voice and a pile of varren, not a one even half as friendly as Urz.

While Grunt and Garrus wiped them out I surreptitiously looted the bodies of what I presumed were failed Krogan that dotted the area. Hey, these were desperate times and we needed the credits…and the weaponry that I piled in a stash to have some crew pick up later. If nothing else we could sell them off-planet. Surely the other Krogan would have claimed them if they were still considered worthy of use on Tuchanka.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 31

Making the Best of It

Varric laughed when we told him the scope of Isabela’s exploits. “You have to admit, Rivaini’s got bigger balls than the Arishok,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what he says.”

Off the four of us went to tell him that we knew why he couldn’t leave and then convince him to turn over the “converted” murderers that Aveline wanted. None of us was optimistic about our chances of success.

While we’d been at The Hanged Man Aveline had sent word for a contingent of guards to meet us outside the Qunari compound. When we arrived, however, the men at the gate refused to allow them inside. This did not increase my confidence.

After a tense moment during which I thought Aveline might behead the poor man just doing his job, we agreed that just the four of us would enter. As ever, the Arishok’s sources had informed him of recent events faster than we could. He was pacing agitatedly, axe the size of Varric in hand, but spun to a stop as we reached the base of the stairs to his rough throne.