For tevinterr, and her OC, Wynona Lavellan
There are wolves in the Fade, but they are not wolves. They have followed him. Spirits are only what you believe them to be, he persists. If you expect demons, then it is only natural that—
“Be gone,” the god commands, but they do not leave him. The wolves have six eyes and rust-stained teeth. The wolves are whispering, haunches strained, howls closer to laughter than an absence of sound. They could almost sound like children, he thinks, children who have drowned in the woods. Their mothers could not save them. They were helpless, bloated, swimming, not swimming. They could not—
The demons are watching him, blurred in a red-bitten twilight. The Dread Wolf can almost taste its sweetness, like strawberry jam, when the largest licks blood from spilled lips, snout brought close, says:
This isn’t real.
The god wanders through the Fade, searching, outgrowing his hands and as they comb along temple walls, patient, hopeful. There are elves there, too, encased in green amber, perhaps for centuries, he concludes, by the glaze of their wine-coloured skin. There is a girl who is holding an elfroot doll, her ears small and sharp like sea-side rocks. She calls to Fen’Harel through the stone. She asks who has died and who has come to save her. But the god has no answers for her; he finds no answers either. He apologises, but she does not forgive him. As ever, Fen’Harel turns his face from their home.
He has grown tired of his body, but there is no rest in the Fade. There is glass and there are shadows—there are unfinished memories, shaking in the branches, deadened and green—but there is no tenderness here.
Fen’Harel stops in the Hinterlands. It is winter, and he can barely see the water through the snow. He is not quite sure how this world has reappeared to him: river humming, as though it’s made vows to its lands. ‘I will never leave you’, the river has promised the trees—but the water has suffered in the cold. It has festered, gurgles to replenish itself throughout the centuries (as he does). Fen’Harel drinks, and he thinks of being invisible and of quiet halls, of mirrors and forgiveness, salted mouths and kind tongues, and murals he’ll never complete.
When she comes for him, it takes a moment to remember her.