“So I told her,” Cassandra’s voice bounces back against the
concrete walls of the stairwell, “If she did not like my methods, she could
take her business elsewhere.”
Approaching the door at the top of the stairs, Solas doesn’t
look back as he asks, “And how did she react?”
He doesn’t need to see her to know that she’s thrown her
hands up. “Ugh. Do not get me started.”
Turning the key in the lock, his low chuckle is lost below
Cassandra’s continued grievance on behalf of her latest client, as they step
inside the studio. The shafts of sunlight filtering in through the bank of
windows on the far wall bathes the room in gold, sharpening the deep reds and
yellows of the frescoes rising towards the high ceiling. His worktable sits, a
lone island in the middle of the sparsely furnished space, overladen with
paints and sketches.
“Is that your latest?” Cassandra asks, with a nod towards
the rising stack of paper on the cluttered table.
Solas drops his keys in the key bowl. There’s a small pile
of mail sitting beside it – Cole’s doing, no doubt. “It is.”
Her fingers twitch against her sides. Solas smiles, but
quells his humour when she looks towards him, expression somewhere between gravely serious and barely-contained eagerness. “May I?”
Palm held open towards the stack of papers, the sweeping gesture
is one of permission. “By all means.”
It’s a reprint of the Chant of Light, made to order from a Comte
with very heavy pockets in Val Royeaux. Printed on an authentic wood-block
printing press, the ink is dark and the lettering severe against the yellowing paper,
the contrast made all the more stark with the addition of the illustrations
along the pages – swirls of gold and fleurs-de-lis;
deep blue and purple flowers, and the stylised sun of the Chantry. Images of
Andraste, on the Maker’s side and on the pyre. Vivid red-and-gold flames
lapping against the page.
Cassandra handles the pages with care, deceptively rough
fingers careful when turning them over, one by one. “For all your lack of
faith,” she says, awe softening the words. “The illustrations are – truly
His smile is patient. “Faith is not a necessary component in
She glances up, one brow raised, but she doesn’t argue the
claim, though part of her wants to vocally disagree, he knows.
Blessed are they who stand before the corrupt and the wicked and do not falter. Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just. Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood, the Maker’s will is written.
Canticle of Benedictions 4:10-11, The Chant of Light