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The Witch of the Wilds
They all turned away from Bethany, hoping to make it off the hill before the rest of the patrol caught up to the ones they vanquished.
“Flames!” Aveline cursed. “We’re too late.”
Three waves came at the simultaneously, one from each path – right, left and straight ahead of them. They could hear the Darkspawn growls, yells and shouts, could see them brandishing their weapons. Cold, merciless eyes focused on the now smaller group, preparing to destroy them.
“They’re too powerful!” Carver cried out as he eyed their foe. “We need to retreat!”
“We’ve nowhere to go.” Aveline answered.
True enough, their only hope was to whittle the groups down as quickly as they could. Three groups turned into two, then immediately shot up to four as another battalion emerged from the path behind them, the very one they had taken to get to the area.
“There’s no end to them…” Carver groaned, looking at the now closed and encroaching circle of monsters.
Suddenly, another grumbling sound was heard and again the ground shook. They looked around thinking another ogre was on its way to them. Only thing was, the Darkspawn also looked around. Seeing nothing amiss on the ground, and nothing charging them, all eyes went up the mountainside. Standing there, or maybe sitting there, its wings folded about itself, was a giant red dragon. As they continued watching, it spread its wings and bellowed a roar that shook them all to the core. The Darkspawn retreated slightly, Hawke and his party however stood their ground and never took their eyes off it.
The dragon jumped up off its perch, flapped its wings and promptly flew down at them spewing fiery death in its wake. It circled around and grabbed a fleeing Darkspawn in its claw, flew up into the air and promptly dropped it, letting it plummet to a fiery death.
Hawke and the others had ducked when it first swooped down off its perch, now they stood as they saw it fly back around for another attack. It landed in the midst of the burning horde and let loose another pillar of flame. Its tail swished, sending a multitude of creatures flying. Then it grabbed another Darkspawn, stood on its hind legs and looked over at Hawke. He stood there, fear in his eyes, wondering if it would come after his family and newfound companions now that it was done with the Darkspawn. As they watched, it was enveloped in a swirl of fire. The form started to shrink within until all that was left was the figure of a … person.
An old woman to be precise.
She had long white hair that fell almost to the middle of her back; some from the front was tied back with red twine to resemble horns, while a reddish metal face piece held those back. Since she had been a dragon, it seemed appropriate, just like what looked like red leather armor that she wore, except for what covered her arms. Those shined like cold red steel plate. The woman approached them, dragging a corpse in her armored and clawed hand. She dropped it once she passed the ring of fire then stood before them.
“Well, well, what have we here?” She said, her voice almost purring out regalness.
Hawke and Carver both approached her, but before they got half-way they heard the clanking of metal. Turning, they saw Wesley collapsing while Aveline attempted to help him. Hawke turned back to the old woman as she kept speaking, seemingly oblivious to the predicament with the couple. “It used to be we never got visitors to the Wilds, but now it seems they arrive in hordes!”
Funny? “I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t arrived.” Hawke said diplomatically.
The woman smirked. “I do! You would have perished. You still may.” She turned and started moving away from them. “If you wish to flee the Darkspawn, you should know you are heading in the wrong direction.” She meant to depart.
Carver started walking towards her. “So you’re just going to leave us here?”
The woman stopped, then after a moment slowly turned her head towards them. “And why not?” She turned completely around and faced them, then started walking back towards Hawke as she spoke. “I spotted a most curious sight: a mighty ogre, vanquished! Who could perform such a feat? But now my curiosity is sated, and you are safe … for the moment. Is that not enough?”
“We won’t be able to get through the Darkspawn on our own.” Hawke pleaded.
“They are everywhere…” the woman agreed “…or soon will be. Where is it you plan to run to, hmm?”
“We’re going to Kirkwall – in the Free Marches.” Carver responded.
“Kirkwall? My, but that is quite the voyage you plan. So far … simply to flee the Darkspawn.”
“Our home is gone, and we have nowhere else to go.” Hawke explained.
“I see. Hurtled into the chaos, you fight … and the world will shake before you.”
Hawke just looked at her, unsure of what to make of her words.
The woman turned around and walked away from them a bit. She then stopped, crossed one arm over her stomach to brace the other that rested under her chin. “Is it fate or chance? I can never decide.” She lowered her hands then lowered her head and thought. After a moment, she turned back to them with her answer. “It appears fortune smiles on us both today. I may be able to help you yet.” She walked back towards them.
“Anything you could do for us would be appreciated.” Hawke said.
Carver looked at his brother. “Should we even trust her? We don’t even know what she is!”
Aveline responded to that statement as she continued tending to her wounded husband. “I know what she is. The Witch of the Wilds.” Wesley lay next to her looking pale and near death. Only small movements he made told that he wasn’t yet gone.