The Price of Freedom
~A Dragon Age Roleplay~
His Arvaarad was dead. The Saarebas watched him die.
The battle was sudden. It began with the whispering scream of arrows, followed by the battle cries of men. The patrol was neither surprised nor alarmed. Qunari never felt such emotions in war. The enemy was cowardice and daring, while the Qunari were steadfast and unrelenting. The enemy was no better than animals, beasts to be tamed by the power of the Qun. Their selfish nature disgusted the grey giants, their need for more too difficult for the Kossith to comprehend. They were human, and they would die.
The end of the battle came just as sudden. The patrol fought with the righteousness of the Qun. The Saarebas shifted through the Veil and moved toward the edge of the battle, preparing a spell as he went. When he reached the other side, however, he felt the pull of the golden rod from across the battlefield. The binding device was rarely used in such a fashion; it was meant to restrain a Saarebas if it proved out of control, rather than to give orders. The Saarebas hesitated. Then the voice of his Arvaarad called for him.
He felt the command to flee resonate down through his collar and into his mind before he could go to the Arvaarad’s side. Confused and uncertain, but compelled to follow the order, the Saarebas disappeared once again into the air and reappeared far behind the battle. Another command was given, reaching his thoughts just as the Arvaarad was struck. The Saarebas finally understood.
Lifting both hands into the air, the Saarebas called lightning down from the sky.
The spell had done as it was meant to. It killed the humans that had attacked them, leaving nothing more than charred corpses in its wake. But it had also taken the lives of the patrol. Only he and one other Saarebas remained. The Arvaarad was gone, as was the hold of the binding device. The Saarebas did not know if that had been the Arvaarad’s intention. It was not likely. An Arvaarad was chosen for his quality as a shield against the evil of demons, as well as his ability to lead and control his karataam of mages.
The sudden freedom was not easy to comprehend. His Basvaarad was dead. Without a lead, he was outside of his karataam. Corruption was eminent. He needed to return to the Qun. He would have to die.
But he did not want to die.
The thought made him stay his hand.
He watched as the other Saarebas returned to the Qun without hesitation, summoning fire at his feet and allowing it to consume him. The Saarebas watched until nothing but bones remained of the last of his karataam.
The Saarebas did not move for many hours. His mind circled between what he should do and what he wanted to do. But something, some thought, some desire, pushed him to remain among the world. His loyalty to the Qun was unwavering, but something told him not to return through death. The idea was difficult to understand, and without a lead he did not know what to do, where to go. He wanted purpose. He had that with the Qun.
He wanted to live. He wanted the Qun. He wanted both.
“To want is beyond the Qun,” he berated himself, only to raise his head in surprise. It had been far too long since he had heard his own voice, let alone been one in his thoughts without his karataam and Arvaarad.
Without understanding his own designs, the Saarebas gathered the control rod from the Arvaarad’s body. The lifeless husk offered no resistance as he tore folds of cloth from the Arvaarad’s leggings. He quickly wrapped the rod within; though it was broken and unusable, touching the rod sent waves of tension down the Saarebas’ spine. The Arvaarad had rarely punished his karataam, and never this particular Saarebas, but the device still commanded respect, even in its own death.
The Saarebas left the beach with great hesitation, torn between the two halves of his mind. He desired both the Qun and life, but he could not return to the Qun outside of his karataam. The knowledge left him with one choice: to live.
The Saarebas drifted up the seaside path, and when it met the main road he turned sightlessly toward the west. He did not choose his way; his feet carried him with little purpose or aim other than to survive. And for the following three days this remained true. Traveling parallel to the road but remaining just out of its sight, the Saarebas ate and drank only when the opportunity presented itself, and he did not stop to rest. It was commonplace in the kaarataam to walk for days without pause, and even the Arvaarad carried little more than the control rod and the clothing on his back.
It was nearing dawn of the fourth day when he first spotted signs of civilization. It was the distant figures moving along the water that caught his gaze, their lanterns bobbing and weaving as they moved through the darkness. He paused to watch them. As the rising sun climbed at his back, the figures boarded their vessels, and one by one they began to set sail. A fishing village, the Saarebas reasoned, turning toward the buildings that had previously been hidden by the darkness. Half nested in the woods, the village sat wide along the roadside; more buildings had been erected behind the tree line, as well as several corrals and opened-sided barns. It would not be long, he knew, before the village would fully wake.
His moment of stillness had allowed exhaustion to find him. It weighed down upon his body but still he did not stop, steering himself further into the trees. It was unlikely that his presence would be tolerated should the villagers discover him, especially if he strayed too near, but even being outside of the boundaries of the community would allow him some protection: if any danger came near, the villagers would quickly raise an alarm. He only needed to find a place to rest. Tomorrow he would face the price of his freedom.