A Voice in the Darkness

by thelirivalley

I grew up in the City under the guide of the grand Priest of Fereldan.

Weaponry and Wizardry were not the way of the priesthood and instead I was taught about the magical balance of the light and the dark that were constantly at odds with each other.  Often times, in my younger years, I would partake in long conversations about the balance and how we as Religious men were always in pursuit of the “balancing of the scales”; that is to say all darkness must equal the light in the end, the light outweighing the darkness can be just as dangerous as the other way around. In this vein we were always told great tales of the wars which our forefathers fought in attempt to balance the cosmic scales and in awe I would listen intently.

I was taught to use a bow for Hunting and Competition. It was speculated that I was to be one of the finest competitive archers in all the land however before my 15th Birthday my adoptive father was murdered and I escaped the city in order to survive. For months I slept beneath the stars and hunted small rabbits to satiate my hunger and eventually while attempting to steal chickens from a small farm away from any major towns or cities I was caught by an elderly Farmer, who after a night of discussion decided to clothe, feed and house me if I worked on his farm with him.

He had no wife or children and was going blind, however we would often tell stories of his time amongst the kings guard in the City of Denerim and his adventures afterwards. A set of heavy leather hung for years above the stone fireplace with the intention of never being used again. The crest on over the chest depicted a darkened tree and yet the armor felt light and agile as if it weighted nothing at all. Eventually, after many long years of friendship and love he died leaving all he owned to me. Again years passed, me content with my quiet farming life amongst the outskirts of any civilization – this was a life I gladly would have stayed with until my death….were it not for one October day.

While out in the fields tending to my crops I noticed a cloud of black smoke billowing from the nearest farm a few miles away, I left my plow behind and ran towards the fire. The farm was owned by a Husband and Wife along with their young son but upon my approach I saw no sign of life. The house had been set ablaze and large rats attacked me as soon as I showed up. I defended myself with a nearby broom and quickly entered the burning house to look for survivors. In the corners of their bedroom I found the bodies of the Husband and Wife, murdered – their bodies red with blood, but there was no sign of the boy. I called out for him and eventually found him hiding under the bed. We quickly escaped to watch the house crumble behind us.

It was as we were laying out front of the burning house, the boy beside me, that I realized how dark the skies had been of late. As a young boy in the priesthood we were taught the warning signs of the scales and how the world reacted to the overwhelming dark or light in different ways, like a body reacting to an illness. The world seemed darker and for the first time in a long time realized this had not always been the way. For years it seemed the scales had been out of balance.

The boy looked down, knowing the life he had was over.

Moments later a man walked up to us wearing a black robe, I was clearly hesitant to speak with him as rarely do people come around these parts, but he seemed inquisitive about what had happened here. I let him know as much as I did but he seemed particularity interested in the boy. Eventually he left but I was suspicious of the man who said his name was Malik, but once he left I took the boy back to my home.

The boy said very little but I asked as much as I could; “Who started the fire?” I asked the boy, “I don’t know, I only heard one of their voices” He answered shyly, tears streaming down his face. I knew that he had no seen the faces of the men who killed his family, but perhaps he could remember their voices.

“If you ever heard the voice again, would you recognize it?” I asked He stopped crying and looked up at me with a stern stone like expression. “Absolutely.” He whispered.

I knew not what the future held, but I knew that whoever murdered this child’s parents were either not aware he was alive or would not be keen to find out that he could identify them, so I told him;

“Should a time come that you EVER hear this man’s voice again, I want you to whistle.”

He nodded in agreement.

We spent the next few days eating and discussing silently what would happen with him. He had an uncle in Farolan and after a short discussion I felt it best to take him back to this Family. We packed up and the next night we were ready to leave my home. I donned the armor my old friend left hanging above his fireplace and we left the farmlands behind.

At the end of the first day we travelled on the road towards the City I decided to make camp, however there was an odd chill in the air and the road was rather open. Unfortunately no perfect place to camp was found so I decided to err on the side of caution and place a decoy camp.

I set up a tent and fire pit close enough to the road to be seen by passersby but we slept on the Forrest floor a good 100+ feet away from the camp itself giving us an advantage to anyone approaching. The boy fell asleep fast and I decided to stay vigilant, bow and arrow in hand should someone approach however I did eventually fall asleep.

I awoke to the sound of snapping twigs under the weight of a heavy man, then I heard multiple footsteps off towards the area of the camp. It was pitch black in the woods save for the streaks of moonlight cutting through the canopy above. I surveyed the situation and from what I could see there was no threat, they would find the camp empty and leave it perhaps assuming that we had already been killed. I tensed my muscles, stretching them so they were not stiff from the short rest I had taken.

Slowly they approached the camp and with a whooshing sound the tent was smashed with a Warhammer.

“Where are they?!”

I heard a familiar voice say – it was Malik from days before. He had been following us. Still there was no call for alarm and I relaxed my shoulders – hidden where we were there was no way they would find us.

“I thought you said they were going to be here?” Asked the second voice, a deeper voice.

Malik did not respond and I knew that they were at a loss. We would wait them out if need be, slip out at first light or before, and take the long way around to Denerim, easy – but then a piercing noise short out from my left….. a whistle.

The boy lying next to me has woken at the sound of the second voice….the voice which he heard before the man brutally murdered his parents, the voice he heard before his life was forever altered. I turned to the boy his face trembling and white, tears streaking down his face with the memories of everything he had lost, looking at me, waiting for me to save him.

My blood ran red with fire and without a hesitation I stood up and fired a single arrow into the darkness towards the second voice…..tonight I would balance the scales.

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