Saturday, 5 January 2019

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramirez


Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramírez

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I have read a LOT of Viking historical fiction. Some of it aimed at children but the majority for teenagers and adults.

Most such books involve lone warriors or longship crews, exploring new lands, battles and wars, slaves and treasure hoards. A few and only a few feature women or girls.

This story features 2... A daughter and mother.

This story involves a pair of strangers from a foreign land, a talking raven, a pet wolf and a set of runes that only certain people can read the meaning behind. Also kidnapping, a small fight, religious sacrifices, fear, family history and memories.

It is a brilliant unique down to earth insight into the Viking world the way the Vikings saw themselves without the tint of Christianity or Anglo-Saxon heritage.

It shows the pride they had for themselves in appearance, possessions, wealth, status, success in exploration and raiding and trading and craftsmanship...

It has a real sense of danger, drama, fear but also of bravery, love, trust and gutsyness.

The illustrations that accompany the story are superb and really bring the whole adventure to life and a lot of the objects, including the key piece of the rune puzzle are in fact real life artefacts found during excavations and can be seen in various local or national museums.

It is an excellent book for children (age 10+) especially if parents read it to them for some scenes among the family are great at helping children understand the protectiveness of parents but equally help parents understand the children's need to do things, within reason, for themselves.

I think the theme of family is what really won the book a place on my favourites shelf. Many Vikingy stories involve family usually revolving around revenge or the desire to improve a families reputation and often through the means of earning fame and glory away from home. This book really shines a light on the family of those who go a-Viking and most significantly that there is adventure to be had without crossing the seas.

I adored every chapter and illustration and Alva is now my favourite Viking girl and I am delighted that we will get to follow at least two more of her adventures in new books.

A stellar debut from my favourite historian. Bravo Janina Bravo!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Inquisitor Bryn Trevelyan 2018 Tour - #Dragon4geDay - 1st Year as a Dragon Age Cosplayer (5)

Sooo in late summer/early autumn of 2017 I decided to take my Dragon Age Inquisition love to new heights and depths - by creating my first cosplay of my OC Bryn Trevelyan.

What armour/outfit did I pick? I picked what I foolishly thought was the easiest and simplest to make without different fabric and patterns and detail... I picked the IMMORTALS ARMOUR!

The silver scale outfit you get to wear only at Skyhold.

And so my crazy journey into sewing, painting, crafting began! You can see the whole progress pics from start to finish at my cosplay page on Facebook:

But after 6-9 months of working nearly every evening and available weekend, for many hours which were only aided with the company of many of my favourite books on Audible (god send for long hours) I more or less completed it! Not to perfection but to a wearable and presentable quality.

And so I was at long last able to attend events in COSPLAY! And thus I took Bryn Trevelyan, Inquisitor of Thedas ON TOUR!

Fables & Fiction Cosplay Ball 2018 @ University of Huddersfield

Photos taken alongside Queen Cousland of Ferelden Cosplayer - follow her @digquizcosplay on Instagram.
Photographs taken by Becky Roe.

Birth of the Anchor Mark - New Prop Testing in back garden:

Leeds Unleashed Comic Con May 2018 @ Leeds

Got to meet the lovely DigquizCosplay again and even found a Suite with my name!

This EPIC photograph was taken by Doctor Bell and His Magic Pictureless Box - do look him up on Facebook and Instagram - he attends Cons big and small. Great value and great service!

Yorkshire Cosplay Con June 2018 @ Sheffield Arena:


Top Right is myself with Warden On Wheels Cosplay (go like her page on Facebook!) as her OC Grey Warden. Second two photographs were with and taken by Digquizcosplay who came as Commander Cullen in Halamshiral Uniform. And the last is Bryn making new allies with the Transformers.

MCM Comic Con July 2018 @ Manchester Central:

Posing with the MCM Sign

Trying and failing to prove worthy to wield the hammer.

 Posing with my favourite Shepard ever - OmnisPrime (instagram) or Omni's Workshop on Facebook.

Another epic elemental backdrop with new Inquisitor's helmet, courtesy of Doctor Bell and his Magic Pictureless Box.

These two beautiful snaps were taken by Digquizcosplay herself - she knows how to work a camera!

Thought Bubble Comic Festival Cosplay Competition September 2018 @ Leeds:

 This is a lovely snap taken by a lovely group raising money for charity by photographing cosplayers (Con Photo Booth on Facebook) and I am stood aside not one but two Shepards from Mass Effect - the always awesome Omnisprime and a new one to watch, Blueprincess Cosplay on Facebook - she actually won the Best Armour Category and it was her first foam armour ever!

And thus concludes a most fantastic year ever spreading word of the Inquisition near and far, making lots of new allies and plenty of new memories.

Wonder what 2019 will bring?

A Dragon Age Photo Book - #Dragon4geDay - Showcase of Fav Inquisition Moments & Experiences... (4)

So it was the autumn of 2015 that my now Husband treated us both to an Xbox One and we had to pick a game each to go with it... and the game I picked was Dragon Age Inquisition and the rest of my obsession is history as they say.

Now as I play it on a console I don't have the ability to use the many awesome Mods that I have seen used in PC games and plus it is also tricky for me to get any in-game pics or screen grabs without actually pausing the action and taking a photo of the TV on my phone.

But I did manage to grab a few over my now 3 play throughs - yes just three I've not yet reached the point where I have a dozen Inquisitors running around - as some other fans have.

So I'm going to give you a brief tour of some of my favourite ones... please note they are in no ranked order at all - just as and when and where I find them on my many files and accounts lol.

Favourite Picture One
This is a cropped picture of my 1st Inquisitor, Bryn Trevelyan, who fell head over heels for Commander Cullen "Cuddles" Rutherford. As a person I am a hopeless romantic and love a guy who gets nervous around women but knows how to command in combat. And thus Cullen became my first Dragon Age Boyfriend. 
This pic is from the end of the game, upon the return to Skyhold and Cullen is there with Leliana and Josephine and he gives you the proudest and cutest smile before embracing in a big bear hug. Hence why I liked this one because it shows him behind you but willing to respect your position above him.

Favourite Picture Two
This pic is one I posted on Instagram of my genuine delight at being able to ride the most realistic, majestic looking animal ever! I named him Rollo due to his chocolatey colour and because I was also into Vikings back then.
I know many players over the years have argued about the lack of usefulness of a horse and how it removes group banter but to be honest after a rough battle I loved nothing less than to purposefully trot down roads, tracks, streams and over hills just enjoying the environment atop my horse.

Favourite Picture Three
As you can see, couldn't not pose for a particularly stunning photo on top of Rollo with the harbour of Redcliffe and Redcliffe Castle looming in the hazey distance.

Favourite Picture Four
Now I am a booklover by nature so I was always overjoyed to find books in-game, especially when I learned Dorian is based in Skyhold Library BUT on further exploration I came across this sad sight... so many questions about it...

Favourite Picture Five
As you can see this is a montage of four different pictures, and it was taken on my 2nd play through as Inquisitor Yggdrasil Lavellan - hence the staff intruding in some pics. But this was one of the most mesmorising details I have ever encountered in-game. It's at one of the 2 Mansions in the Emerald Graves. So many epic panoramic friezes on the ceiling and so many stories behind the artwork. But the fact that this detail was embedded throughout the game is what made it so captivating for me. 
Plus only after I finally bought the books and read them did I realise that the top left is the cover of The Masked Empire...

Favourite Picture Six
Now I had to feature a dragon in somewhere didn't I? Alas the only photo I have of one is of the Dragon found in the ruins of Crestwood taking on a rather brave and foolish Druffalo that happened to wander into it's active zone and thus a fight began. The Druffalo did rather well to last a long time as the Dragon's attacks were slow and it's roars didn't always scare it off.
I managed to get this close up using Tactical Camera.

Favourite Picture Seven
BLOOD! LOTS OF BLOOD! And not a Blood Mage in sight hehehe. This was a beautifully random and lucky scene created by pressing the Tactical Camera mid-battle and I managed to capture the exact moment my Mage Lavellan defeated someone targeted with one of Dorian's Necromancer spells that explodes them.
This was part of the many Qunari fights during the Trespasser DLC, you can spot my Inquie at the front.
Doesn't it look EPIC!

Favourite Picture Eight
For those who are curious the world of Thedas is truly rewarding. Such as this lovely sea view point found on the Storm Coast where the rocks look like the Giants Causeway in Scotland (I think). It clearly was designed by a Dev who enjoys watching the changing moods of the sea, with a bottle of wine and a huge slab of cheese. I would happily love to leave my character there for an atmospheric mood track of crashing waves - punctuated by the occasional banter.

Favourite Picture Nine
This was another tactical camera shot that was taken as your Inquisitor approaches the Temple of Mythal in the final stages of the storyline. For you discover Command Cullen actually getting involved in the battle and I just had to use Tactical Camera to get a better view of him in battle because the actual fighting ends so quickly upon arrival. Really proud of this one I captured.

Favourite Picture Ten
If you have played through the DLC's you will recognise this as the Bastion of the Pure in the Decent DLC. On the whole the landscape is barren and dark and is it the darkness which lends the light such a stellar environment to be spectacular in. I mean, just look at all those glittering Lyrium trees/veins! The lighting throughout the Descent is stunning in so many ways and it is a dream of a gaming environment.

Favourite Picture Eleven
This was a deliberately posed for shot with the Tactical Camera before the Eluvian mirror found in the Ancient Elvhen Library ruins of Trespasser DLC. I took it for several reasons - one being BOOKS! I love books and being a Mage I'm sure Lavellan would have found them equally fascinating. Plus from behind the darkness around the bookshelves from the bright light of the Eluvian really showcased the candle light and the Anchor Mark too. To me it looked like a stunning poster or book cover and just screamed mystery and adventure and magic!

Favourite Picture Twelve
This photo is back to my 1st Inquisitor, Bryn Trevelyan, and my overwhelming pride at discovering the legendary and famous motif of the Inquisitor's Helmet in the Emerald Graves. Still my most favourite helmet ever!

And thus ends my short and sweet photo album of Dragon Age Inquisition. But I have so many memories and many more reasons for my love of Inquisition besides the story these photos tell.

Severance - #Dragon4geDay DAI Fan Fiction (3)

My third installment of fan fiction inspired by the events of Trespasser DLC in Dragon Age Inquisition, featuring my Inquisitor Bryn Trevelyan, Cole, Dorian and Iron Bull.

Dragon Age Wikia
(sourced from Dragon Age Wikia)

The veins in my hand crackled, I could not just hear them but feel them within. Jerking, twitching, and stiffening into jagged kinks and sharp bends. A green light throbbed at the edge of the consuming blackness, ancient Elvhen whispered at the back of my mind. I gasped, grunted and groaned as millimeter by millimeter of my fingertips, skin, muscle and bone became solid, heavy and black.
        “I’m sorry Trevelyan, there is nothing I can do.” Dorian muttered, he was kneeling beside me, hypnotized in horror by the transformation as much as me. His eyes were dull with worry. His humour was futile in this moment.
        “There must be something, Dorian! The Inquisitor can’t become a statue. Not now! How will I explain this to Leliana or Cassandra? Shit, how will we explain this to the Exalted Council?...if we get back.” Iron Bull was in a foul temper. His voice booming across the empty and silent valleys of ancient Elvhen ruins. Not even a bird was spooked from the trees or bushes. There was only us and a courtyard full of Qunari statues – the only evidence of Solas’s new power and strength. He stomped through the shards of glass from the now broken Eluvian that Solas had left through.
        “If I could I would, Kadan, but this magic, it is beyond anything any Tevinter mage has seen before. I wouldn’t know where to begin to dispel it.” He looked away from me then, shame, fear and frustration causing his hands to shake.
        “He thought it was a mercy. Rather than let the Anchor consume me. You all saw how bad it was getting…I was becoming a liability. I nearly killed you all.” I whispered, my eyes blurry with tears, wiping my nose with my one free, untainted hand. Despite my words I couldn’t decide whether to call my former friend, ally and companion by his old or his new name. That wound was still raw, angry and festered with the unanswered questions of this sorry situation.
        “I will have his ears, eyes and nose for this, Bryn. I’d swear it on the Qun if I wasn’t Tal-Vashoth already.” Iron Bull promised in a growl before kneeling beside me and wrapping one arm affectionately around me. Dorian gazed up at him fondly but even he couldn’t bring himself to smile.
        “The magic jangles and clinks like metal chains. It is binding and connecting you. Constructing a cage within the cage of your body.” Cole spoke, his voice always light like a snow fall, as he perched on a rock opposite, balancing on the tips of his toes. His eyes fixed on my own. “The magic moves like an ancient glacier, slow and steady but unstoppable, capturing all within its dark cold form.” He approached and took hold of my hand gently. “The pain is where it bites, yes?” I nodded. “I can numb it but that is all.” He reached to his tonics belt and released the cap on a small blue potion. It glittered different to liquid Lyrium which was what Mage’s carried to sustain their abilities. Cole’s tonic was thicker than a liquid, like yoghurt, and he poured a blob onto my hand and began to massage it into my skin, both front and back.
I sucked in a deep breath as the cold of his tonic felt like it was burning my skin but as he continued to rub, the burning sensation changed to a deep ache and within a further minute, I felt nothing where his fingers caressed.
I tipped the rim of his wide familiarly odd hat up to see his face. “Thank you Cole, the pain has stopped.”
“For now, he doesn’t have enough to cover all of you so the pain will return and this curse will still consume you, Bryn.” Dorian pointed out bitterly.
“Cole was always one to show kindness, no matter the size. I appreciate it regardless.” I defended our spirit companion, the only one of us who didn’t seem to be upset, offended or event angry at how far Solas’ betrayal went towards us and the rest of the Inquisition, or in fact the entire world of Thedas. I shook my head briskly, the numb hand giving me some respite from the pain allowing me to collect my thoughts. “You all must return to Halamshiral. You need to inform the others about what Solas has done to the Qunari but also about what he plans to do next…Leliana needs to send her agents out after him as soon as possible. Cassandra as Divine can call upon Chantry forces and maybe even push Orlais and Fereldan to march with us. You need to find him and stop him. Before… before…” At the wrong moment I had glanced down, in that same moment all my fingers on my left hand were fixed in black and bound together like stone. The weight of it surprised me, and I gulped. I turned to Dorian whose own eyes were now glistening. “Dorian, tell the Commander…tell Cullen that I’m sorry…I knew and accepted the risks…this was something that couldn’t be seen or prevented…there is…was nothing he can do.” Dorian grasped my right hand and was holding it in his own trembling fingers, laying light kisses upon each knuckle. “Tell Cullen that…although Solas took my life, it was he who always had my heart.”
Dorian gave his first genuine smile, despite the tears, since they reached me on the plateaux. “My dear that is so cheesy I feel Varric may take it and use it in his next novel.”
“As long as he dedicates the book to me I will allow it.” I tried to smile in kind, struggling to ignore the fine black spots, like splattered ink, that were now appearing on the tops of my hand. I sniffed hard and looked up at Iron Bull, my faithful mountain of muscle and mayhem. In the position he stood he was merely a silhouette but for the sunlight glinting off his horns and in his one good eye. “Bull, you need to lead Dorian and Cole back through the Elvhen ruins to the original gateway. I am trusting you to see that this warning is heard. If Orlais and Fereldan don’t offer help willingly make Cullen lead our forces back to Skyhold and prepare there.” Thinking of him hurt more than the spell. “Cullen will blame you all for leaving me but I’m ordering it. There is no point in all of us remaining here any longer and I doubt Solas will leave the Eluvian’s open for much longer. If we get cut off and word doesn’t get back…”
“That’s it!” Iron Bull broke out into loud laughter and even began stamping on the spot in delight. “Forget all of what you just told us Boss, because you can tell the Council yourself. I got an idea.”
Dorian was gaping and Cole was simply listening, head tilted with curiosity. “He wants to stop feeding the spell. Cut and cast it away like the burnt crust on a meat pie. Leaving you with what is left.”
“Now what did you have to spoil the surprise for, Cole? I’ve told you a hundred times to stop reading my mind, damn you!” Yet Iron Bull was grinning, with hope not rage.
“You can’t be serious! Kadan, if it doesn’t work you are only going to put Bryn in more pain than she already is.” Dorian reacted now, disbelief written all over his face.
“It is going to work, Dorian. My luck may still come through. After all, I’ve survived the Temple explosion, the Fade, time-travel magic and Corypheus. Losing a limb shouldn’t be too hard for me to bear.”
Dorian paled even further at my mock boldness and Iron Bull laughed harder. “That’s the spirit Boss! Speaking of, Cole how many of those Ice Tonics do you have left?”
“Two.” He answered simply.
“Good. One will need to be applied to the cutting point and the other will be needed to stop the bleeding and seal the wound. Next question, would you like to make the cut or shall I?”
“Let Bryn decide.” He responded after a small pause, perhaps he was surprised to be called upon for more than his numbing tonics.
“Which is it to be then, Boss? My axe blade or Cole’s sleek dagger?”
“Stop toying with her, Kadan. Your axe is clearly the best choice as it could and should hopefully cut off her arm with a single swing whereas Cole may have to saw a bit to get through the bone.” Dorian had clearly had enough of Bull’s clear joy in the idea of saving me through amputation. His tone was solid and serious. “Wouldn’t you agree Bryn?”
“Yes, I guess.” I struggled not to smirk, the reality of what was being planned not really hitting home just yet. To be honest the whole day wasn’t. We’d fought against a Qunari invasion force in so many fascinating forgotten Elvhen ruins yet at the end they were not our real enemy. A former ally was. An ally who openly confessed to being one of the original Elvhen Gods. Fen’Harel no less. Solas had ever so calmly explained how he had positioned himself to be of use to the Inquisition. To guide us against Corypheus as his own plans had backfired on him, and the world. But now that he had abandoned his post to reclaim his identity and position of power, his next move was something so severe that it truly showed the selfish streak he had hidden so well before.
“That settles it. Cole, help Bryn get that armour off and roll up her tunic sleeve as far as it can go. I want to burn Bull’s blade first before it cuts. The only thing I can do to help at this point.”
So the boys, as I thought of them, got to work. Cole managed to undo the various straps and buttons that held my chest piece and shoulder guards in place, leaving me half-armoured up to the waist but just in a simple long-sleeve tunic on top half. He was very gentle when moving my arm to slip the armour off and regularly asked if he was hurting me. I was not much help to him to be honest, I just remained still and let him manipulate my body as required. I was busy watching Iron Bull hold his two-handed axe at arm’s length and Dorian casting fire spell after fire spell upon the blade. It would ignite in full flames for a few seconds before dying down but he cast enough magic upon it that the blade edge began to glow with the heat it retained.
“You are ready, and yet you are not ready.” Cole spoke, sitting opposite me, his legs crossed and his two Tonics sat on a rock nearby.
I swallowed, hoping it wasn’t that obvious to the others. “Cole, can you, could you make me forget the pain when Bull makes the strike?”
He observed me for a heartbeat before replying. “The pain would be too new, and although it is a big injury it doesn’t hurt you on the inside. I can’t make you forget but I can, make you remember something, to distract you.”
“If a distraction is the best you can do I will take it. Just don’t get too nosey with my memories. And what you see you never speak of, understand?” As much as I wanted anything to help me get through the pain I was in no doubt I would experience, I wasn’t entirely happy to allow Cole to see my secret thoughts and cherished memories. But unfortunately elf root potions don’t come with any pain relief, just healing qualities.
“I promise, Bryn. Your secrets will remain secrets.” He smiled then and stood up in one fluid movement. “The Inquisitor is ready Iron Bull.”
“Coming Cole, Dorian’s made my blade as hot as a furnace. Any hotter and it might melt back into lumps of metal.”
“Shush complaining, Kadan. A hot blade will make a cleaner cut and will help staunch the wound.”
“How and where do you want me?”
Iron Bull looked around briefly before pointing to a small group of tall pencil straight trees bearing the leaves of an eternal autumn. “Let’s make you comfy over there, Boss.”
Doran and Cole lifted my arms across their shoulders and helped shuffle me over. I think Doran was secretly relieved that Cole had to bear my tainted hand so close to his face but Cole was stoic and calm. They lowered me down gently and have me lay on my back with my soon to be removed arm outstretched. Cole then joined me on the ground of warm soil and soft grass.
“I’m going to keep the Inquisitor’s attention on me whilst you make the cut.” He explained as both Dorian and Bull were giving me puzzled looks.
“Oh, good idea Cole. I will make the cut on the count of three and then Dorian can apply your ice tonics with a healthy dose of elfroot potion.”
“Work’s fine for me – just try not to splatter blood all over my robes Bryn, this is the finest silk I could find in the Orlesian Empire and blood never washes out of silk.” He grasped my shoulder and gave me a smile and a wink but even I could feel his fingers were trembling. All I could do was swallow and nod. My whole body had started to shake and my stomach was tying itself in knots.
“I will make it my best swing Boss, try not to worry. We got you.”
“If I survive this remind to buy you all a drink at the Herald’s Rest when we get back to Skyhold.” I turned to face Cole who had one arm wrapped around my waist, tucking me in close to his body, his other hand was holding my soon to be remaining right hand. “Do what you need to do Cole before I throw myself off that cliff.”
He smiled at me, his blue eyes shining bright. “Just listen to my voice and nothing else. Close your eyes.” I did as he asked and I felt him lean over to me, felt his breath next to my ear and he whispered, “Remember the lake.”
His voice faded as a new noise replaced it. The sound of lapping water, of birds singing and the occasional frog. But the most noticeable difference was the hand holding my right. It wasn’t small, cool and lean like Cole’s. It was big, warm and had the occasional roughness of a scar. A hand I had kissed many times over.
“What are you dreaming about?” It was Cullen’s gentle voice and I couldn’t keep my eyes closed any longer.
We were both laid out on a picnic blanket, the basket of food and drink by our feet and as I looked around I saw the sky was sunset pink, and the waters of Lake Calenhad were calm and still creating a natural mirror. I looked at him then, my Commander, confidante and the man I had fallen so very deeply in love with. He continued to smile at me and shuffled closer before sneaking his arm under my neck and hugging my shoulders. I felt warm tingles where he touched.
“Can’t you remember?” He asked.
“Remember what?”
“Remember your dream? You were murmuring but I couldn’t make any sense out of it.”
“Oh… did I fall asleep on you again?” I looked away blushing with embarrassment. Cullen had brought me to the lake for some recuperation after I had finished leading the Inquisition forces in the Hinterlands region. It was quite rude of me to use this time alone to sleep. It must have happened quickly as I didn’t recall falling asleep.
“Hey, relax Bryn, that’s what I wanted you to do. If you relax that much you take a nap that’s fine with me. You probably don’t realise how much effort you spend leading everyone until you stop.” He cupped my face and gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead. “If you just want to sleep do so, I’d rather you rest then worry about manners and etiquette around me. I’m not Vivien.”
I had to chuckle, recalling how often our High Enchanter friend would correct anyone of anything for the sake of appearance, etiquette and manners – even at an informal social event.
“I hope I wasn’t asleep too long. Was I?”
“No, not at all. I quite like watching you sleep to be honest.” It was his turn to show nerves and reveal his hidden timid nature.
“Why? You know I snore like a Mabari War Hound.”
“Because…watching you reminds me what real, peaceful sleep was like before…”
“Before you started taking Lyrium, before you joined the Templars.” I finished for him, grasping his hand with my right and squeezing it tight. Cullen’s eyes had gone distant again, as he always did at the mention of his fraught past. He nodded in confirmation. “Your sleep is full of your past. You call out their names in your dreams.”
He looked at me then, an expression of shock and maybe guilt, even though he had done nothing wrong. He opened his mouth to speak, pulling our joined hands closer to his chest between us but I spoke first. “Don’t you dare apologise Cullen. You say sorry for far too much that is beyond your control.”
“Not even for disturbing your sleep with my nightmares?”
“Not even then. I never apologise for my snoring do I? You accept me snores and all as I accept you and your nightmares. Both are part of who we are. Parts we cannot change.”
He leaned over and kissed me. A soft yet simple touch of lips but it always gave me goosebumps and left me feeling like I had one too many dwarven ales. “Your wisdom always astonishes me. It’s one of the many reasons I love you.”
“And why else do you love me? Don’t tell me it’s my snoring because I know how often you complain about it.” We both chuckled and I freed my hand from his to stroke the fine stubble on his chin. He recaptured it and gave it a kiss.
“One. I love you because you are the most selfless woman I have ever met. You helped us and others, even when we all believed you to be responsible for the deaths of so many.”
He gave me a second kiss and I shivered.
“Two. I love you because you are the bravest woman I know, next to Cassandra of course. Not once have you shown fear or let it stop you from doing what is right.”
I received a third kiss and the shivers reached my toes.
“Three. I love you because you love me.” Cullen curled over me, I closed my eyes expecting the kiss I wanted.
At the same time, as if from across the other side of Lake Calenhad, I heard Iron Bull letting out a brief roar of effort. I felt a hot stinging sensation at my elbow, then a cold burn. Both so sudden and one after the other that I twisted with the shock.
“Breathe Bryn, breathe and look at me.” It was Cole, sounding close. I was confused and groaned against the pain that throbbed hard at my left elbow. In a blink Cullen became Cole, who was holding my right hand right with both hands, blue eyes sparkling.  “Breathe Bryn, breathe through the pain.”
“Keep her still Cole or this bandage won’t be tight enough.” Dorian’s voice to my left. A large shadow came over me and I felt Iron Bull’s large hands push my shoulders against the ground.
“It’s over Boss, it’s done.” He said with a grin but I honestly didn’t feel like applauding him at that moment. “Let Dorian do his part.”
I tried hard to take deep breaths but the mixture of heat, pain and cold was overwhelming. I managed to twist my head to the left and saw Dorian frantically wrapping cloth around the stump of my arm. Beyond him, lying amongst the sand and stones and ancient ruins was what at first glance could have been mistaken for a burnt branch. As I observed it I soon recognised the grasping pose of my hand and forearm, now forever black stone, as if accidentally knocked off an ancient statue.
“Done. How do you feel Bryn?” Dorian asked with concern.
I attempted to sit up but foolishly tried using both arms when I now have one so ended up lopsided with imbalance. “I can’t hear Elvhen anymore and I can’t feel the pull of the Mark either. Both are gone from me.”
“You are you now. Magic free.” Cole remarked before wandering over to observe my severed arm.
“Do we leave it here or take it with us?” Puzzled Dorian.
“Leave it here. With the other statues. It can be a surprise for Solas if he ever returns believing me to be no more.” I gulped and attempted to stand leaning on my right for support and managed to get to my feet although my legs were trembling.
“Can you walk Boss? It’s a long way back home.”
“I think so, maybe slowly to begin with but I will keep up. We can’t delay.” I looked to my shield and sword. “Cole, help me get my armour on. We need to get going.” He did as I asked and when I was more appropriately dressed I felt a bit more comfortable and a new spark of confidence. I adjusted my sword belt to have my weapon positioned on my left so I could draw it with my right hand. I slung my shield across my back, it was no longer usable due to my left arm being too short to alternate like I had chosen with my sword arm. I would have to speak to Cassandra and seek training in some new form of battle to better defend myself with this new disability. Maybe Dagna could use her arcane technology to enhance my options? But that was all in the future, for now we had to warn and prepare for this new threat.
Iron Bull stepped towards me, holding out my Inquisitors helmet with its unique dragon adornment. Despite a few knocks and scratches, it has served me well in all my campaigns. I managed to cup it with my one true hand and curve it up on to my head. “Bull, you and Dorian take the lead, I doubt we will come across any more Demons, Spirits or Qunari but if so you two can take them out. Me and Cole will be behind, his daggers can defend me instead of my shield.” All three nodded at me, I could sense their eagerness to depart as well as a sense of pride, for me. I swallowed, feeling a stir of emotions and pushed them down. Now was not the time. “Let’s march, the Inquisition is needed.”

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