I Work for the Bureau of Original Characters. Thedas file

Chapter 10-I like rain. In small quantities

Leliana stared at her reports in frustration. Errant snowflakes drifted through the open front of her tent and settled on her shoulders and desk, obscuring portions of the words written before her. The faint storm like sounds of the Breach and the noises of a healthy town were background noise to her now after weeks of familiarity.

She scowled at the reports that her ravens had recently brought to her from her agents in Orlais and Val Royeaux. This was getting out of hand. The Templar’s actions were inexcusable. They were truly far gone if this was how they viewed the world now.

The speech Elariel had given was also there, transcribed painstakingly by a hidden agent. The accusations written there glowered up at her, judging in their silence.

“Who deems your cause righteous? If this is the acts of the righteous then I want no part in this bloodshed.” Ever since she had read those words she had felt doubt and worry claw at the icy stone that was her heart.

She did what needed to be done, what no one else was willing to do. She had done so for years in the Maker’s name, but was it truly right? Or even the Maker’s will? She shivered in the cold air and wondered.

Shouts echoed up, a horn sounded to signal the return of the Herald’s party. She straightened and left her tent, standing on the top tier of the village to watch the newly arrived party troop through the gates.

The massive doors swung open and she watched as the party dismounted with their packs slung over their shoulders. Miranda and Cassandra were walking side by side. Cassandra had a small smile on her face whilst Miranda chatted animatedly, gesturing widely with her free hand.

Varric spoke with an unusually tall blond elf who was looking up at the Breach with wide eyes. This must be the Sera she had been told about. Elariel entered last, walking next to an imperious looking woman with dark skin and silver robes who glanced briefly at the Breach before settling a smooth smile on her face. Vivienne de Fer. Leliana scowled internally at the thought of the Enchanter. Always looking for an in, always poking and prodding, looking for weaknesses for her to exploit and profit by.

A bit of her hostility towards the mage was the territorial instincts of a predator feeling a threat on her turf. Leliana snorted delicately. Vivienne was no threat to her but she was dangerous none the less. Unfortunately, they needed the resources the good enchanter could give them. The party separated, the older members heading off to their quarters to unpack and clean up whilst the newer members went to the quartermaster to be assigned. No doubt they would submit their reports after they were done.

She returned to her tent to find one of her agents there holding a tightly sealed report. She read it through and felt a lump settle in her stomach. Her hunch had just been proven. She glanced up at the agent who looked exhausted, as if he had been riding hard to deliver the message to her.

She dismissed him with a nod and sat down on one of the crates in her tent. The news of Butler’s treachery so soon after her personal crisis. What should she do. Which way should she turn? Her instincts told her to eliminate the threat.

Expunge the traitor’s life from the record of the world but her heart, the tiny sliver of the girl left from her days with the Warden, cried out that such an action was wrong. She was unsure how long she sat there staring at the letter when someone knocked on the centre pole near the entrance. Her head jerked up from the message and saw Miranda clad in a thick wool overcoat standing near the entrance.

“Hey Leliana!” She chirped happily. The bloody woman was always happy and laughing, yet she had admitted to being in a position similar to Leliana’s. How did she remain so light when the shadows were where she worked… had worked? She shook her head and gestured the Zerg in, deciding to take a leap of faith and confide in an unknown.

“I have evidence that one of my agents has betrayed us,” She murmured quietly, knowing the other woman could hear. “I find myself at a crossroads. Do I execute him now? Do I bring him in to question him? How do I know which is the better decision? I find myself at a loss,” She told the other woman, anger at her own indecision seeping into her voice. Miranda sat down next to her and reached out for the report, halting her gloved hands inches away, silently asking for the paper.

Leliana snorted. “It’s in cipher,” She snapped. The waiting hand remained and with a sigh Leliana handed it over before digging out the correct key from an inner pocket and handing it to Miranda. The Zerg read the report, her eyes flicking between the two pages with an ease that spoke of training in the use of ciphers and codes. After a few moments, she returned the pages to Leliana and leaned back a little. A thin column of steam emerging from her nose as she exhaled.

“There are questions. The evidence is damning but not iron clad. If he were my agent I would bring him in. If he’s guilty then I’d squeeze him for everything he has. If he’s innocent, then he may have leads as to who actually killed Farrier. Either way you win and get information that could be useful.” She answered calmly, keeping her eyes on the canvas. “What brought about this indecision? You don’t seem the type to dither,” She asked her voice quiet and curious, as if discussing the weather.

In a way, her detached tone gave Leliana a way to wonder in safety, without the scrutiny she had feared. In answer Leliana stood up and picked up the transcript of Elariel’s speech and handed it to Miranda. She took it and read the speech over, her eyebrow raising delicately as she eyes flicked back and forth over the words inscribed there.

“This hit a little too close for you, didn’t it?” She asked after a moment of silence.

Leliana scowled and folded her arms. “Yes,” She hissed, hostility rising in the face of the words she had been thinking now spoken aloud.

Miranda stood though she had to stoop a little beneath the low roof. “I cannot tell you if what you are doing is the Maker’s will or not. Nor can I tell you what you should do. That answer has to come from within. All I can say is to listen to both your heart and your head.

Though they don’t always agree you must remember why you are fighting and what it is you want to be remembered for. How many of your ideals and beliefs are you willing to ignore in the pursuit of you cause?” Leliana looked up into Miranda’s face, and for a moment she saw a glimpse of a much darker woman.

Eyes that had seen and done much stared out at her from a shadowed face, the scar across her cheek look deeper, a black slash across her face. Then the eyes softened and she turned towards the entrance.

“Ask yourself these questions often, do what must be done but don’t forget to laugh sometimes. The shadows can be a lonely place if you don’t. Trust me, do not let the shadows stain you though you dwell in them,” She told the Bard before walking out of the cloth shelter.

“Thank you,” Leliana said quietly and Miranda paused in the doorway, looking back at the Bard over her shoulder with a compassionate gaze. “My ears are always willing to listen Sister. Remember that you are not alone.” With that Miranda strode out into the pale wintery sunshine calling out to someone and laughing. Leliana watched her go before looking down at the report and making a decision. After her command was sent she paused and thought. Miranda was always the one to catch her in her moments of weakness.

Why was that? Did she hear what was said and came to find her? Or was it simply luck both times. She sighed and leaned her head into her hands. The way that woman’s mind worked baffled her sometimes.

Miranda entered the Chantry with her report held in her hand, heading for the war room. The Chantry had been aired out a little and the overwhelming odor of incense had dissipated. She had been sneaking in and stealing or dousing the sticks when the sisters weren’t looking and her stash on top of the Chantry had grown rather large. She mentally made a note to turn in the contraband to Josephine. As she passed by the line of pillars that hid a recess in the stone wall, she heard someone stand and the smooth voice of Vivienne made itself known.

“A moment,” She called and Mirada stopped, turning to face the now bare headed Enchanter.

“Madam Vivienne, what can I do for you?” She asked politely. Vivienne beckoned her into her newly established lair and stared at Miranda with sharp and canny eyes.

“I shall not waste your time my dear. It has become apparent over the last few days that you dislike me. I wish to know your grievances with me before it turns into something that will damaged this Inquisition.”

Miranda blinked, the closest she would come to showing shock around the Enchanter before she rallied. “You wish to know my opinion of you Madam?” She asked, her voice bland and unassuming.

Vivienne nodded and watched her opponent carefully. She had been observing the other woman for a week now and was still clueless as to this woman’s motives. She could see that Miranda Starsinger was not someone to be trifled with. Her instincts told her that Miranda was a predator, a highly successful one who would either be your greatest ally or worst enemy. She could look past the strangeness of the woman, if only just. She knew at a glance that Miranda was a player of the game, perhaps not the same field as Vivienne played, but she clearly knew how to duel with her words and actions.

This alone made her very dangerous. The fact that she had achieved this level of trust despite the handicap of her appearance was worrying. Miranda’s eyes met Vivienne’s and the Enchanter had a view of a storm of silent rage shackled and hidden beneath the calm and humor. “You impress your view of how things should be on others. That to me is one step away from inexcusable but it is your view on mages that disgusts me,” Miranda said as if discussing the weather.

Vivienne made to interrupt but Miranda halted her with a look. “You thrived in the Circle, grew and flourished and yes, so did others but the circle was cruel to those who didn’t fit. What you want to restore is broken beyond all repair. You desire to take three steps backward when we need to move forward. I do not say let the mages skip about without training but I have seen systems that work without the need for jailers or for children to be told that they are mistakes in the eyes of their God,” Vivienne felt a chill sweep over her as Miranda’s words slid into a light growl. “Your actions towards your younglings is inexcusable. You can kick a dog so many times but it will eventually turn. The Wise would have seen this war coming centuries ago. In fact, I’m surprised that it took this long.”

Miranda straightened from her slight lean and her voice became light and pleasant again. “You want to restack the powder keg and give the match to the masses. We all saw how well that went,” She snorted and inclined her head to Vivienne. “That is my problem with you. You don’t think beyond what was. For once in your existence, look beyond your nose and see what has happened and choose a way to fix it rather than clinging to broken ships,” Vivienne rocked back in actual shock at the accusation.

“Good day Enchanter,” Miranda told her pleasantly before she turned and continued on her walk to the war room. Vivienne blinked and sat herself down at her desk. That was not what she had expected. How was it that her armour, hardened and perfected against such similar barbs had failed so utterly against that woman’s? The answer was here and though it pained her to admit it she knew it was because the power in Miranda scared her, woke a tiny part of her who agreed but had been silenced for so long. She sniffed and buried that voice once more and turned her attention to her correspondence.

Josephine yawned to herself as she exited from her room early in the morning. The sun had not even begun to consider the idea of rising but she was already up. There was far too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in. She consciously straightened her posture and forced herself to take purposeful strides to her office, pausing only to kindle a fire in the waiting hearth. Had they more staff, a servant would do it for her but undermanned and overwhelmed as they were she had quickly learned to do it herself to avoid freezing in the chilly mountain air. She lit her candles and settled herself to work. The supply trains had been delayed by an early blizzard in the passes to Orlais and the recent allowance for the Inquisition to use Haven had to be addressed.

Josephine was startled from her work by shouting, voices cried out in anger and screams of frustration sounded from beyond her door. She fought the curiosity for an interminable thirty seconds before she stood and peeked out her door. The sight beyond was sigh inducing to say the least. A gaggle of clerics whom Leliana had warned her were causing trouble were dashing around the door to their dormitory wailing about something. As she approached them she saw that all of them had had caricatures of curly mustaches and monocles drawn on their faces in black ink.

“What is going on here?” She demanded joining the group. Her arrival allowed them to coalesce into a swarm and the ringleader, one Mother Hanna came forward. Josephine deftly smothered a chuckle as the observed the far more elaborate designs sketched onto the woman’s face, including the slogan ‘hypocrite,’ emblazoned on her forehead. From the corner of her eye she saw Leliana emerge from the shadows, her cowl hiding her eyes but doing little to shield her small smirk. Josephine sighed again, of course Leliana would know what was happening.

“We woke up this morning to find someone had stolen into our quarters and…and…” She seemed at a loss to describe the vandalism and simply waved at her and her fellows. Josephine nodded and made the appropriate sympathetic noises before urging them to go and wash the ink off.

Once they were gone she turned and strode over to Leliana. “Do you know who did this?” She demanded and the Spymistress smiled. “I have no proof, but I have a suspicion that it may be our recently departed Jedi Master. I heard her laughing about something called a sharpie that she apparently found in her bag.” Josephine sighed again. Miranda was out of reach as she and the good Herald had set out for the Storm Coast. Despite the Zerg woman’s please to the contrary, Cassandra and Varric had remained behind, leaving Sera and Vivienne to accompany the pair on their mission.

The Ambassador rubbed her forehead. “Why would she do this?” She asked and Leliana shrugged. “I don’t know but I assume that it has something to do with what she heard that group saying. Needless to say the people will have a harder time taking them seriously as they attempt to turn them away from the Inquisition. I say we take the gift with a smile,” She informed the ambassador who sighed again and returned to her office.

Leliana grinned and watched as the clerics return with the ink still strong on their faces, their consternation lending their voices a shrillness that was wince inducing. She melted back into the shadows and returned to her office tent, a smile growing on her face at a prank well executed.

Miranda winced as Sera’s shrieking reached a rather painful decibel. The elf and Vivienne had been arguing for days. The pair rode behind Miranda and Elariel, bickering about everything and anything. Next to her Elariel looked at the Zerg in apology. “I’m sorry, I should have listened to you,” She admitted and Miranda gave her a dirty look. “You had better make it up to me in Haven when we get back. I am expecting nothing less than a bottle of good wine and a brace of freshly killed nugs. That may get you some leeway,” She informed her companion frostily, though without any real venom. Elariel winced as the voices behind them rose. “Will you share the wine? It might help get rid of this headache,” She begged and Miranda raised a brow. “Ask me later when you have the bottle,” She informed the elf.

Miranda didn’t mind rain. In fact, sometimes she rather enjoyed it but the constant torrential downpour that had started even before they reached the coast was beginning to get to her. Their rain gear was soaked by day two of the rain and a persistent chill permeated them as they rode. Even the fighting from Sera and Vivienne had calmed down mostly due to the fact that the energy to fight was better served to keep warm. Scout Harding and her team looked like drowned rats, their hair plastered to their heads and their gear soaked to the bone. The ground around the forward camp and much of the coast was churned up mud and even Aitheria’s antlers were coated in the thick, slippery clay.

Miranda was forced to share a tent with Vivienne and after a day of trying to keep herself warm and dry the mage had little left in her to warm the tent, something that irked Miranda. Their first day on the coast was far from pleasant. Slogging through ankle deep mud that coated the boots and balled into heavy clumps whilst in armour was probably one of the worst things Miranda could remember doing in a long time. “Water, water everywhere and far too much mud,” Miranda muttered sourly as she trudged along behind Elariel.

As the only melee fighter in the group, it was up to Miranda to take the lead. As a result, she was wearing her armour over a knee length mail hauberk she had recently been issued for the journey and wool. The soggy cloth doing little to prevent the chill from the metal rings from seeping into her bones. To top that off, her nose was running and her throat was sore. She cursed the weather that had led to her stalks getting cold for so long. “I think I see some people ahead!” Elariel called over the drumming rain and the rumbling thunder.

Miranda wiped her running nose and followed. They skidded down the steep path towards the beach. Sera fell and skidded down on the slippery clay, cursing up a storm as she stood, coated from head to foot in grey mud. Elariel glanced back at them from around the edge of her sodden hood that plastered itself to her head and sighed. This place was rapidly climbing to the top of her list of most hated locations and that included what little she could remember of the Fade. They came upon a group of armoured men and women fighting a collection of robed mages. Miranda looked at Elariel who looked pointedly at the group and drew her staff. Miranda gave a groan before she drew her sword in her left hand and charged forward. With her staff in her right hand she lay about the mages with a weary efficiency as her left sword hand spun and twirled, easily severing limbs and deflecting spells.

The din of battle was all around her and she could hear the thunderous laughter of the massive figure in the thick of the fight. She pulled closer and was treated to the sight of a seven foot tall horned behemoth swinging a maul the size of Elariel around with one hand. The man’s grey skin as stained pink as the rain did its best to wash off the sheet of blood from his enemies. Miranda ducked was the hammer swung over her head, reducing and the head of a mage behind her to red mist. She straightened and slashed her blade out, slitting the throat of the one behind him. “HA! Good One!” He bellowed and barreled past her with the power of a steam roller.

Miranda set about finishing the mess he had left behind him. Killing the poor bastards who had been left with crushed limbs on the field even as she slashed and hacked her way through the mages. When the fight ended, she stomped over to one of the large rocks that littered the shoreline and sat down. A wet hacking cough tore itself from her throat and she gave a frustrated groan only to freeze as the sound echoed around them. Oh Gods and force above please don’t let her have a head cold.

“Um Miranda… what the hell was that?” Elariel asked walking over to her. The massive horned warrior from earlier was behind her, squinting down at Miranda with his one eye. “Cold,” Miranda tried to mumble. Unfortunately for her it came out sounding like three different voices were harmonizing with hers. The effect would have been beautiful if it hadn’t been for the fact that she also sounded very congested. “Another weird biology thing?” Elariel asked with resignation and Miranda nodded, giving a sigh that sounded like a collection of under supported flutes.

“Three individual sets of vocal folds, not in sync when I’m sick,” She mumbled around her stuffed nose, sounding like a miniature choir.

“Ahh,” Elariel remarked eloquently and Miranda threw a glare at her. “You now owe me way more than wine and nugs. I expect a week off and brandy,” She vocalized before reaching into an inner pocket and fishing out her flask. She took a deep pull from the liqueur within and glared at Elariel who shrugged apologetically.

“By the way, this is The Iron Bull, leader of the Bull’s Chargers,” She introduced, pointing at the behemoth behind her. “Bull this is Jedi Master Miranda Starsinger of the Zerg. Just accept that every law of nature and the universe only applies to her if she feels like it and your life will be a lot easier… trust me,” Miranda gave another gusty sigh and stood, her staff in her left hand as she turned to the taller male.

“Charmed,” She drawled extending her right hand and Elariel giggled, Miranda’s sarcasm was not nearly as effective when she had the harmonics over top.

The Iron Bull took the offered hand and shook it firmly, their grasps matched each other, even when he truly began to apply pressure. Miranda sniffed and looked at him with resignation. “Can we do this when I don’t feel like there is an African crested porcupine living in my throat?” She asked and Bull let go, looking a little sheepish. Miranda nodded to him and looked at Elariel. “Let’s just finish the tasks we were sent here for and get back to Haven. I’m sick of rain,” She informed Elariel before slouching off to find one of the open casks that had been cracked.

“She’s usually more entertaining,” Elariel offered as she and the Iron Bull looked after her. “And less… well… overtly weird,” She admitted and Bull nodded.

“If you say so boss. Hell of a fighter though. She wields that staff of hers with a mean right arm,” He told her and Elariel grinned.

“You don’t know the half of it Bull. Trust me on that one. Now head to Haven and get settled in. Miranda can watch my back in the field even with a cold. You meanwhile need to sort out this arrangement with our spymaster before we go anywhere,” She informed him and Bull grinned, his lone eye twinkling in the dismal light.

“Smart plan boss, don’t trust too easily,” He complimented before wandering off to his men, bellowing orders as he went. Miranda returned, her recently empty water skin now filled with the mead from one of the opened casks. Sera and Vivienne joined them and they began to plod down the beach, heading for where reports said there was a rift nearby. Miranda paused and stuttered before she gave what was probably the most beautiful sneeze ever witnessed by mankind. “Maker, what happened to you my dear?” Vivienne asked and Miranda sniffed.

“Stalks got chilled, now I have a cold and my multiple vocal chords aren’t responding at the same pitch or time” she told them thickly, there was a slight delay on the lowest voices making it sound like she had a personalized echo. “Why on earth would you need multiple… what did you call them… vocal chords?” Vivienne asked and Miranda sighed.

She looked around and saw the Chargers further down the beach packing their gear into wagons. Knowing this would cause fearful reactions she threw back her head and let out an unearthly wail. It undulated and rippled through the air, multiple layers weaving to make the sound eerie. The wail sent shivers of instinctual terror down the spines of everyone who heard it and made them grip their weapons tightly.

Miranda stopped and rubbed her throat. “Ugh, shouldn’t have done that,” She rasped, all four sounding dry and painful. “That was a sloppy one but that cry was one of the signs of my rank among the Zerg. A warning to our foes and a rallying cry to our broods,” She cleared her throat and took a swig from her skin and continued, her voices a little smoother. “I don’t do it much and I try to modulate it so I sound normal since it tends to creep people out,” She told them sulkily before sinking back into her hood and striding forward.

Elariel had a thoughtful look on her face and hurried to catch up to Miranda. “Could you use that in battle to scare opponents?” She asked and Miranda looked up, a little surprised.

“Sure, just not when I’m sick,” She told her and Elariel grinned. There was a high roar and the deep thrum of wings beating the air. The party slid to a stop and watched in horror and fascination as the massive form of a dragon emerged from the rain fogged air. It swooped through the air before back winging furiously on a spit of land where a dark form rose up and bellowed a challenge in response. “Holy Hera on a pogo stick. Please tell me we are not fighting that!” Miranda told Elariel firmly, her eyes riveted on the now battling pair.

“I don’t know, maybe we should, just to help secure the coast,” Elariel mused and Miranda rounded on her.

“No. That is a giant taking full blasts from a dragon’s breath weapon. No way in the Heavens, Hells, Underworlds, Alternate realities or current dimensions am I going to fight that in our current condition and even then not without at least five other party members and Cassandra,” Miranda’s tone was firm and bordering on commanding but the other two women in the party were nodding in agreement whilst Elariel blinked.

“That was a little specific,” She noted and Miranda let out a frustrated multitoned cry. “That’s what you noticed from what I said?!” She demanded and Elariel gave a sheepish smile “I heard the other stuff and I agree with you for now but we are still going to go after that dragon sooner or later,” The elf told Miranda.

The Zerg gave a resigned sigh and nodded. “Fine.” She mumbled and continued her observation of the battle with a scowl. They could hear her faint mutter of ‘I hate dragons’ as she stared down at the battling pair.

Miranda’s cold stubbornly remained the remaining two weeks they were on the Storm Coast. During that time, it became apparent that Sera hated large spiders and Miranda had a weird ability to send deep stalkers running if she so much as opened her mouth. One could almost see the little velociraptors taking one clear look at Miranda and realizing that they had made a terrible mistake and hightailing it back into their tunnels. When asked, Miranda merely shrugged and blew her nose.

Their ride back to Haven was accompanied by Scout Harding and her team. Their gear was soaked through and the tents had taken on a musty smell of damp canvas. They slept in the open air once they emerged from the rain clouds that darkened the coast and made haste to Haven. All of them fantasizing about baths and dry clothes free of the patina of mud that had worked its way thoroughly into every article of clothing and armour they possessed.

They were fortunate that some of their gear dried out as they traveled as damp clothes would have spelled disaster for them in the higher mountain passes with the coming winter.

Leliana, Cassandra and Cullen met them as they rode into Haven. Cassandra felt a pang of sympathy for the mud caked and bedraggled company that stumbled from their mounts. Aitheria’s normally metallic silver fur was stained a brownish grey and clumps of mud persisted along her hocks and around the base of her antlers.

The rider’s clothes and armour was stained with a yellowish grey mud that caked their boots despite the signs of a vigorous scrapping to remove the substance. Miranda was sniffling and huddled into the mud stained cloak that was wrapped around her shoulders and small amounts of mud could be seen among her stalks, crusting around the base and in some of the segmented sections along the strands. Even Vivienne’s horned headdress had mud worked into the cracks and engraving. Elariel and Sera had remnants of mud in their hair and around their faces.

All In all, they and the scouts looked miserable. Josephine took one look at the troops and turned around, rushing for Haven, barking orders left and right for people to prepare baths and dry clothes for the returning travelers. Aitheria practically ran her stable hand over in her rush to get to the stable and a thorough grooming. Miranda sniffed and blew her nose on a mud stained handkerchief and mumbled something to Elariel who put a hand on her shoulder and walked forward to meet the advisors. “Elariel, you’ve returned,” Cassandra greeted them in relief and looking to the obviously sick Miranda “What happened?” She asked and Elariel sighed before looking at Miranda herself.

“I owe Miranda five fresh nugs, three bottles of wine, a bath and a bottle of brandy,” She told them whilst Miranda began shuffling towards Haven. Leliana reached out and put a hand on Miranda’s shoulder. The Zerg peered blearily at the Bard and made an odd humming noise that sounded like four people humming at the same time.

The others stared for a moment before Cassandra sighed and shook her head. “Something new to discover?” She asked and Elariel nodded.

“Apparently she has some vestigial vocal folds…Translated to words I understand, it means that she has four individual voices that she normally doesn’t use. She caught a massive cold out on the coast after her stalks got a prolonged chill. That and her being our only melee fighter made her a little testy.” The others nodded and Miranda shuffled forward a little more. “Fucking bears,” She harmonized and the others snickered a little whilst Miranda glared at them.

“Here, let me get you to the bath Josie has no doubt set up for you and get you to bed,” Cassandra offered walking over to join her and Leliana. Miranda made another humming sound and allowed herself to be led away into the village, Leliana and Cassandra directing her forward through the streets. Sera and Vivienne followed, each heading for the quartermaster who stood next to Josephine. The pair directed a small army of servants and volunteers to get the party baths and clean, dry clothes.

Elariel sighed and followed after, heading to her cabin where she could wait for a bath in relative comfort. Leliana and Cassandra managed to haul the taller frame of Miranda to one of the baths Josephine had prepared and from there take the newly cleaned, but still sick Zerg to her cabin. Miranda’s eyes were drifting closed every few steps and she was scratching at her stalks which hadn’t been cleaned in almost three weeks. Leliana sat Miranda on her bed whilst Cassandra knelt at the hearth and began to kindle a fire, trying to fight back the chill in the hut. At Miranda’s direction Leliana opened the chest at the foot of Miranda’s bed and pulled out the sleeping garments the Zerg had described, turning to allow Miranda some privacy to change. That cabin had taken on a more lived in look since Miranda began her occupancy. A few books sat on the table and some clothes hung on the pegs driven into the walls.

Once Miranda was properly attired she was all but shoved under her covers even though she was reaching for something on the table. Leliana picked up the long handled brush with the tiny head covered in stiff bristles. “Need to clean my stalks…Itch” Miranda mumbled reaching again for the tool in Leliana’s hands before her eyes drifted closed again. “We can do it for you,” Cassandra offered stepping forward and taking the brush from Leliana’s hand. “M’k,” Miranda hummed, struggling to sit up.

Leliana and Cassandra propped her up and the Seeker began the laborious task of scrubbing the stalks the way she had seen Miranda do it. Leliana ended up having to help maneuver the now unconscious woman and her hair as Cassandra worked. A deep multi toned purr emanated from Miranda as she relaxed into the brush. Once they were done they tucked her under the feather duvet she had been issued and left, closing the door behind them.

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