Participants:

Sebastian_icon.gif Cenn_icon.gif Anders_icon.gif

Scene Title Ashes to Ashes
Synopsis In the wake of Karl's funeral, the Chantry Brother has questions. Not all of the answers are easy ones.
Location Hightown - outside the Chantry
Date Justinian 28, 9:31 Dragon
Watch For Cenn being helpful, Bash getting angry, Anders having a minor meltdown
Logger Anders

The funeral pyre was in it's last belching glory of black smoke, transitioning to the sputtering grey and white curls that remain where the logs had been piled to host the body upward into Andraste's waning Light. The sun had set, the torches providing light, because let's face it, veil fire is not accepted. Sebastian had helped with the ceremony, though it was a Sister who would actually designate the proper sermon over the fallen, while after, the two voices would meet in song over the remains. It was pleasant, if small and not well attended.

As the crowd thins even more from the few sparse individuals who had come to be with Anders, the gawkers from Hightown, and general supportive bodies from the Chantry, Sebastian remains. He'd probably see to cleaning up the pyre, handling the ashes. Right now, he stood with his arms folded across his front, his eyes mesmerized by the smoke, lost in his own thoughts.

Near the back of the crowd, one man had hung near shadows, where he would not be easily seen. He didn't much want his presence here to be well remembered or talked about. And yet, he could not bring himself to not come. Though he is a terrible cliche, with his hood pulled up to obscure his features, and simple, nondescript clothes that don't mark his identity. There is but one identifying feature permitted before people have probably moved away, and that is a pendant hung from around his neck in the shape of a halla.

For all that he asked for this… for all that he knew he'd needed to do this one last act of care, Anders can barely stomach the reality of actually being here. The service hurt and itched beneath his skin in equal measure. The hypocrisy of people who would condemn a man innocent of any crime to a life in captivity singing songs about setting his soul free to fly to its Maker… it sits raw and putrid and heavy on his stomach. He doesn't take the place traditionally left for those among the attendants that could be counted as chief mourners. He doesn't draw any attention to himself in any respect. He wears his ridiculous coat of feathers but he bears no arms. The hooded figure would have been missed entirely had it not been for that damn pendant. And part of him is… glad that Cenn is here, that he is not entirely alone in this. Most of him just wants to cry. Even so, Anders is not entirely without manners. He lets the vultures drift away first, glutted on their newest tale to tell, but then he moves forward to place a hand on the Brother's forearm. "Thank you." His voice is quiet and his expression is pale and drawn, but that gratitude (though subdued) is genuine.

Sebastian wasn't entirely happy, throughout the service, but not because of what the service meant. There was a forlorn frown on his face that remained there after the sightseers had gone off to speak of the mage's pyre. He was in a trance that it was easy enough for someone to sneak up on him if they wanted, when Anders' hand comes to his forearm. Blue eyes look a little hard when they initially turn to Anders, unfocused, only soften at the chief mourner that hadn't taken his post over his friend, relative, or whom ever Karl was to Anders. If he noticed the hooded figure, then it would be no less than noticing any of the other snooping busy bodies of Hightown. To Anders, once that hand was upon him, he offers, "I apologize I could not get them to release him earlier. The Templars," his voice lowers, "were positive he was not a Tranquil, though I can neither confirm nor deny it. They refused to allow me in to see for myself, so the delay, was a struggle in … Chantry politics that should not exist." He looks back toward the remains fo the pyre, "Though your friend, is at peace now." As if he hadn't been at peace in life.

Cenn lingers, silent and still in his shadow. There's much to think about, but he is not here to intrude. For him, it seems there might be more than just this one person that he is thinking about.

Perhaps surprisingly, Sebastian's explanation makes Anders laugh. "Of course they were." It is not at all a happy sound. "Of course they did." He turns from the Chantry Brother to stare at the spiraling, smoking remnants of what had once been the center of Anders' entire world. "Karl can never be on record as having been made Tranquil. He passed his Harrowing. He committed no crime." Some part of Anders can feel Cenn lurking nearby - the way the energy in his veins leans toward the energy in Cenn's like two poles of a magnet - and though there is part of him that wishes the draw was different, that the shadow was shorter, darker and significantly more barbed… he is also glad of who he has. "They made him Tranquil so they could bait a trap laid for me." He's done so well this time, but the admission of his own guilt in the affair makes his throat try to close around each word, making them emerge wet and shaken. "Misguided and fucked up as the entire system is, the Divine would not sanction that." Which is entirely fair, if a bit bitter in tone. "So of course they did, Brother. I could have expected no different."

Sebastian listens. For once, he just fucking listens. Not a word about the Maker, not a fucking word. The heart of the matter is that the more he heard, the more his Chantry teachings collided with his sense of justice and the values he had been taught by his Grandfather and his cousin's family. The tightening of his cheeks as he sucks in his mouth cues the sparks of fire in him. It was not at Anders. No the anger could not be made for the man who was grieving. The anger was for the cracks in the foundation of law, law that they all lived by, laws of the Chantry, of the Circle, of the damn civilized world. "You're saying, someone, here, in Kirkwall, set a trap for you and broke sanctioned laws to do that?" His eyes finally twist over toward Anders, "Do you know who?" Sebastian Vael, not so experienced in the realms of corruption.

In his shadow, Cenn shifts uncomfortably. Takes a deep breath. There are things to say, so many, but he can't bring himself to say any of them. His hand rises from under his cloak, and the unarmored Templar grips at the pendant around his neck.

Sebastian's anger is… oddly soothing. It matches the fury that fights with his guilt for space inside the marrow of his bones. It's enough to let the fury win for a moment - which should probably not be a relief, but is. "That, ser, is exactly what I'm saying." Anders looks back from the dying pyre to meet Sebastian's gaze, some of those embers ignited in his own golden eyes. "There were letters smuggled out to me. He was so afraid. They'd been interrogating him off and on since the Qunari mess." When he had come to something of the public eye. "His last one asked me to meet him in the Chantry. There were half a dozen Templars there. I don't know if they meant to kill or capture, but he was Tranquil and we barely escaped with our lives." And his anger finds deeper purchase, even, than it's current home, because… "I don't often wear the griffon, but Adie, she always does and they would have killed her, too."

Sebastian's head starts turning away, as if the details were getting too much for him to address, too much for him to accept. Then a sway of his head as he shakes his head, meeting Anders' golden eyes with the intensity of Starkhaven blue. "The… Chantry… was…" he cannot even say it. The ideal appalled him. "There was no-" his hand climbs to his forehead, "The Chantry is never empty. There is always someone… When did this happen?" Pieces are starting to come together. The last, however, strikes him as if Anders'd reached out and jabbed him with a dagger. He jolts. "My cousin… The Templars would have killed my cousin to get you…?" His eyes round on Anders, realizing something, "What did you do?"

"The Templars have no right to Anders." Cenn says then, almost suddenly, not able to stay quiet when that last question is asked of Anders. "I was assigned to his Circle. If anyone had right to be coming for him, I would know. I would be one of them. He is a Warden, and all he has done is slight their pride." All of this 'they' and 'their.' It's not like he'd left the Order, but it seems the until now silent Ser is not identifying with it right now.

Anders opens his mouth to defend himself, bright eyes sparking at the there-but-not-there accusation. He's all ready to go, but Cenn leaps to his defense and bizarrely the assistance brings tears to Anders' eyes. "The Qunari almost killed me during their stroll through Lowtown." His sarcasm has always been Anders' first and last defense - at least Cenn would find the tone familiar, though it is (for once) not directed at him. "Ser Alrik and his ilk wanted to know what made me so special. Whether they acted under orders or not I have no idea. The letters I gave as proof of Alrik's involvement. Maker only knows where they are now."

Sebastian rolls his shoulder to pivot himself toward that silent sentry, meeting Cenn's figure as he pipes up. If he recognizes the man, he doesn't indicate it. He listens to what needs to be said to defend Anders. Sebastian snaps his eyes back to Anders as he's declared a Warden, "You're a warden?" Rhetorical, but surprised, since the matter was already answered. He exhales a breath, not following the story behind these two individuals. The bits and pieces he's getting only makes it more complicated to sort out. "Ser Alrik," he nods, "Now there's a name I can work with and see if I can't ask around about him." Unless of course he's dead, too.

"Ser Alrik was not even in Kirkwall during the time of these events." Cenn answers, though this time when he speaks, his voice is much more dry. It's a truth, but not one he likes speaking. And with that, the Templar leans back against the nearest wall, folding his arms over his chest and sighing. This whole fucking thing is a mess.

Anders sighs. "Marginally, yes." Though Adeline would undoubtedly pick up that argument, she is thankfully not here. "You don't ever get to un-Warden. Not really." No matter how much one might want to. Cenn's addition makes Anders snort a dry laugh. "Of course not. There must always be an alibi if one is to get away with rape and murder." And - at least to Anders - Tranquility is tantamount unquestionably to the former.

Sebastian rubs his forehead, complicated when he's got a smattering of pieces which makes no sense. "Maker's Breath…Look-" his hand flies up, "I'm clearly not privy to everything that has happened. The cloak and dagger routine is doing nothing for making sense out of what has happened." He marks Cenn with that look, then returns his eyes to Anders, "Should I speak with my cousin? Or will you take the time to map out from point A to point B of how you got here, to point C, a serious cluster fu-…" He swears underneath his breath, putting his hands on his hip as he shakes his head. "Warden, should we start with your name?" This to Anders.

Cenn sighs again, then, and shakes his head. "It is his story to tell. Good luck, Brother. I hope you find more answers than I have been allowed." Cenn says, and pushes away from the wall. He pauses then, looking at Anders. "I am sorry it came to what it did." And with that, he's turning to leave. He has patrol tonight, and he's not keen to sit there answering questions about who he is when he's got to keep his even being there quiet.

Cenn is leaving and - rational or not - Anders can't help the wave of panic that follows. His jaw clenches, his shoulders tense, he looks vaguely like he might throw up, but he does not argue. He won't do that here - not now. So Cenn gets a sharp nod and Sebastian gets a long hard look before he has enough control over his voice to answer. "I am called Anders."

The name rings a bell. It's a bell that takes a moment to clang, but it eventually does when the name is given to him. Sebastian takes a good hard long look at Anders, once Cenn has gone of to keep in his shroud of mystery. "You're… Anders?" What has the Starkhaven stepped in? "Then you're on the list… You were at Amaranthine." The Starkhaven gaze addresses the Warden, waiting for some response to that.

"The list? What li-" But the conclusion to that sentence strikes Anders like a physical blow and the blood drains entirely from an already pale face. He takes a step backwards, swallowing hard against the sudden rush of heartbeat in his ears. "I… was, yes." His voice is tight now, strained and high like a fiddle string that's been wound too far. "Why do people keep saying that?" Paranoia is a heavy-handed and terrible mistress. Breathing gets harder, a physical weight sinking down on his chest as those inhalations get shorter and sharper each time. "I was posted to the Keep, of course I was there. Why can't everyone just leave it well enough alone?" Damn it all to the Void and back. He can't breathe. He can't breathe and it feels like the edges of his vision are going dark and like someone is squeezing his head in a vice and he would run if he could but he's passed a point where his legs will obey him so he just stands there, rooted to the spot. Golden eyes aren't seeing Sebastian anymore, they're rooted on the embers while the acrid scent of smoke (of burning wood and cloth and flesh) twists into his nose and makes it so much harder to remember what is real and what isn't real and where he is and when he is and why he is and who he is and -

Sebastian straightens at the obvious reaction that it causes Anders by mentioning the name of that City. The one burnt to the ground, all lives lost. "Warden," he tries to calm the man with a pleading gesture of his hands, "Listen. It was a list incorrectly filed. I was searching for records for a missing person." The reaction, as it continues to get worse, draws Sebastian near. Like a crazy Chantry Brother that he is, he reaches out to that feathered shoulder, "Warden? Are you okay?"

Anders can hear Sebastian's voice, but it is muted and indistinct - a series of nonsense syllables that sound more like a human-horn hybrid than any understandable language. The hand on his shoulder does not come with the hum that tells him he is alright, everything is safe; it does not even come with the spike of ozone that calls to the piece of the Fade trapped within him to snap him back to this time and this place. It bears no more markers and the distorted voice isn't familiar enough to mitigate old fears and Anders lashes out, his arm coming up to push viciously at the one attached to him. But he's not in a right state of mind, the movement overbalances him and he staggers back another few steps. "Don't!" he barks hoarsely, lowering himself into a crouched ball shape there outside the Chantry doors. "Don't… don't touch me." At least at this distance and this angle, the evening's breeze can rapidly clear the stench of blood and ash from his mind.

Sebastian half expected that. He simply shifts his weight onto a heel to bypass the momentum shot at him. He was an agile figure after all, though his arm does get swatted with that grazing swipe of desperation. The leaves the Chantry Brother to stand there, observant of the frayed mind of the Warden before him. The wind whistles through the embers of the pyre, through the Chantry robes, through the stillness between them. One figure held with settling judgement, a sympathetic knowledge that the Warden was disturbed. The other, that crouched ball, clutched with the panic Sebastian does not understand. He starts to murmur a prayer to himself, the hymns of which catch in the wisps of the wind.

It's nothing personal - and really this will be something that eats at Anders for… well, a while - but demons will have their pound of flesh. The chill night air is enough of a release that he can move again, though breathing is still a struggle and rational thought is just… not on the cards. "I don't know…" He shakes his head. "I'm sorry. Just… Not here. Not now. I - " wasn't ready. "The clinic. Yes, the clinic." It's safer there. And if Sebastian wants to try this line of questioning again at least… well, at least he'll know where to find him now.

Sebastian regarded Anders impassively, at a distance from where the mage Warden had crouched. There's no telling what the inner thoughts were of the Chantry Princeling, but he turns from Anders, "May the Maker watch over you." As he starts to walk away, he stops, as if some nagging thought lingers, his face turns to speak over his shoulder, "You had best get going." And the Brother walks away, into the Chantry, likely to gather supplies to clean up the remains of the pyre.


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