I decided I wanted a fic about Merrill getting sick or hurt and Anders taking care of her. For lots of reasons, but mostly: 1) I’ve seen fic where Merrill takes care of Anders, but never the reverse; 2) Anders gives Merrill a shitty time in the game, and I want their relationship to be better; 3) I don’t feel like he would give her a hard time when she’s already down, both their relationship and his character are more complex than that; and 4) if we can get a dozen Fenders fics that have Fenris getting sick or hurt and Anders helping him unreservedly despite the animosity between them because that’s who he is as a man and a healer, then by god Anders can damn well show the same consideration for Merrill!
Everything hurt. She tossed and turned on her bed, pulling the limp sweat-soaked pillows further under her head in a futile effort to find a more comfortable position. Her eyes tracked over the crooked wooden beams overhead, old scaffolding from the time the alienage was a mine tunnel falling further and further into disrepair. She tried to imagine that the wooden beams were tree boughs creaking and swaying in the wind, or the arched roof of an aravel rumbling and shaking over uneven ground; it must have been working, because the beams did seem to dip and wave overhead…
Creators. There was no wind here, no air found its way through the maze of caverns and canyons that was Lowtown. She was sick – she was very sick.
The thought stuck out with sudden clarity, and she tried to hold onto it among the fugue, holding it and worrying it like a wolf with a rabbit. But no matter how she turned that truth over and around in her mind, she couldn’t seem to do anything with it, find purpose or direction in the thought.
She had to… she needed to…
The scaffolding loomed overhead, beams interspersed with jagged shards of metal poking out of the stone. Stone walls, stone overhead, stone underfoot, twisted jagged metal underfoot, a sharp pain that turned into an ugly, dark throbbing up from her heel. Pain growing up her leg, dark red vines of pain that wound their way like ivy up her calf, hitched around the bend of her leg and sent long feelers in her thigh.
“My god had only one wish … to merge shadow and light … and make darkness!”
–Zant, Twilight Princess
Upon first entering the Twilight Realm, it is anything but the place of serene beauty described by Midna. In the first commentary concerning this game, I gave a selection of quotes pertaining to the hour of twilight which sought to highlight its meaning within the sphere of human existence—particularly the moods that it is capable of evoking. It is true that this hour is one of depth and splendor, and this is a beauty that is made more exquisite for its tenuous existence hovering between the light of day and the darkness of night. Darkness is unsettling for most, and this is, and has been, reflected in art, history, and culture the whole world over since mankind first came into its own sapience. Quite naturally, daylight represents clear vision, warmth, and safety, so the ineluctable twilit blotting out of light from the world must have been both beautiful and terrifying to behold for early humanity. At this hour, shadow and light come together in a delicate, preordained dance, until one inexorably yields to the other, cloaking the world in umbral stillness.
The Mirror of Twilight itself recognizes this relationship, tracing its brilliant white lines through ebon rock or the sky itself
For some reason, Western antiheros invariably prefer blackness. Zant, as well as his god, Ganondorf, seek to cast out the light, creating a land of perpetual darkness. This process began in the Twilight Realm with the theft of the Sols. The Sols, which function as the light sources of this realm, were taken from the Sol Shrine at the heart of the plaza in front of the Palace of Twilight by Zant and hidden away, blacking out the light and transforming the Twili into Shadow Beasts. As the tale tells, Zant usurped the throne, displacing a magic-less, imp-like Midna into a world not her own, leaving her embittered and alone. This game is fantastic for its development of themes. Link and Midna, representing the light and shadow of their respective realms, collide in the periphery of the machinations of Zant, and initially they mix as do oil and water. The inhabitants of the kingdom of Hyrule show very mixed emotions that generally border on fear when the coming darkness of Zant is involved, and both Midna and Link misunderstand the needs, nature, and normalcy of their separate planes of existence. Throughout the story, these two counter-locations and counter-themes play off of one another, their cultures and essences flowing from Midna into Link and from Link into Midna. Eventually, the two characters find abiding love and respect for one another. Their two worlds, which at first seem irreconcilably different, are ultimately shown as opposing sides of the same coin. The Hero and his Companion are but microcosms for these larger themes at play within this tale, and the most imperative message of this work is that of conciliation and understanding.
Once all of the Shards are accounted for, Midna and Link set forth from high atop the Arbiter’s Grounds and travel through the Mirror of Twilight to the home of the Twili. They are greeted by a tenebrous sky of pale whites and faint purples. Black clouds coalesce and fade in the distance, obscuring dark islands and concealing unknown structures. And, as is characteristic of this location, strange pixelated motes float overhead and underfoot, as though this realm seeks to be a simulacrum of its medium. Peaceful is not quite the adjective to describe this place, for while it is still it is also unsettling. The backdrop to the musical setting is the rising dissonance of a music box, which the sickly melody struggles to adhere to, its synthetic bells and falling tones creating a feeling of bottomless instability and slight madness. All music pertaining to the Twilight is meant to portray, at some level, an uncontrollable disquiet bordering on schizophrenia. This is among the gentlest of its incarnations, while that of the palace is more somber and rigid, and that of dispelling the Twilight from Hyrule proper is nothing if not deeply disturbing. There is good reason for this, whether or not it was originally intended. We hear and interpret this music, first and foremost, as Link—an inhabitant of the world of light. This space, which lacks the familiarity of the sun and sky, is then not made to be pleasing or welcoming to a human traveler. It is a matter of perspective. We cannot separate ourselves from our cultural biases, and in creating this region of shadow an equally uncomfortable musical atmosphere was necessary. Were the main character of the Twili, and we able to understand such a people, the setting would undoubtedly be changed dramatically, simply due to perception. But we are human travelers in an odd fictional universe, and we are rightfully disturbed.
The architecture of the Twili is utterly unique. The buildings rise from incongruous brown stone, yet are worn monoliths standing solitary against the strange sky and shifting clouds; these are austere structures with slanting walls and fierce angularity. Upon the ashen grey walls are neon patterns of reds and blues running circuit-like in tight forms like veins in a living organism. They seem to pulse with life, as if they, through their eccentric channels and shapes, provide life and energy to the buildings themselves. Huge columns of ruby-infused black smoke flow through conduits at the top of each of these three structures and pour endlessly into the empty sky below.
Essentially, the interior is much the same as the exterior in terms of materials, layout, and overall architectural style. The veins of light are more ubiquitous here, running myriad, thin courses through the grey stone, almost like mortar between individual bricks. Black orbs rest in metal encasements, and are activated when struck; these control seemingly-impossible floating platforms, whose shape and solidity is defined solely by light. Sources of illumination within are few, and therefore the majority of the complex is obscured. The same ruby-filled black haze can be found hugging the floor and walls tightly in certain areas, and it has the curious ability to alter Link’s appearance from his light-world form into the form of the Sacred Beast.
Perhaps the most iconic aspect of this dungeon is the guardian hand shown above. Its appearance is a direct copy of the actual hands of the Shadow Beasts, with the elongated pointer and pinky fingers and dominant thumb. These remain still until their treasure (the Sol) is disturbed, after which they promptly begin a ceaseless hunt until either they or Link is victorious.
Many have commented on the rather insipid design of this area, and it should be relatively obvious that this space was created primarily with gameplay in mind. As with so many things throughout this series, cohesive design and cultural detail fall to the wayside to make room for the mechanics of swordplay or the walking of tightropes. Happily, though, rich themes are at play here, even if they are adumbrated by other, more prosaic, game features. As this is the penultimate stage of the play, so to speak, it sets an atmosphere of rising tension leading to climax and a heart-rending denouement. Through the Mirror of Twilight, we are given a fleeting glimpse into the life of Midna and the Twili at a very critical point in the shaping of their future. It really is invaluable, as well as touching. The dialogue between Princess and Usurper reflects some of the deeper issues at play within the Twilight Realm— those of lost power, of banishment, and of the Mandate of Heaven—those chosen by the gods to rule. Beneath the immediate surface of this world are powerful, ancient forces continually descending and surfacing, never finding harmony. Would Zant have triumphed, twilight would have spread fear and hopeless shadow throughout the planes. His defeat spelled the end for this bleak perception, allowing Midna to return this world to the state of serene repose so beautiful to her.
Alluka had been looking forward to this all week! She’d been excited the second Killua had hesitantly mentioned it to her, he’d tried to play it cool acting as if she wanted to go then he could allow it but Alluka knew the truth.
She hadn’t really been asleep when Killua had answered his phone, whispering warmly into the receiver; hushed laughter and rustle of sheets. When the call had ended and Alluka had snuck a peek at her brother she’d caught sight of something she almost wished she hadn’t, it had felt so private and secret but in the end she didn’t regret it. Seeing her brother bathed in pale moonlight eyes alight with obvious joy and, against Killua’s attempts to stifle it, a bright smile painted across his lips. It was too easy for Alluka to guess whose voice had been whispering back on the other side of the phone.
That was how they ended up on Whale Island. They’d been personally invited to attend a yearly gathering that took place, a tradition Gon had said it was, something that had been on the island so long even the locals had forgotten why they even did it. It had once been a big complicated ceremony but now it was more like a simple dance, everyone brought food or drink and they dressed up and just had a good time!
Alluka had never been to anything like that so she was excited to try! It had gotten off to a bumpy start, as it always did when Killua and Gon met up after long periods apart. It wasn’t the first time or the second they’d been reunited but they still agreed they needed to be apart from time to time and most of their friends agreed that was best. The two boys still spent enormous chunks of their lives together, just sometimes they had to take breaks. But after the normal period of awkwardness and slight drama the two had easily slid into their old relationship.
They would often sneak off, mostly at night when there were no chores to be done or errands to run. They’d be gone until sunrise sometimes later, Alluka didn’t mind she had Mito-san to keep her company but she did wonder where they went off too. They’d come back, sometimes roughed up sometimes not but always happy. Finger intertwined and smiles on their faces as Mito-san would scold them for getting dirty.
The week leading up to the dance had been hectic, dishes to prepare and decorations to make. Not to mention outfits to try on! Oh Alluka had the loveliest dress to wear! Mito-san had given it to her, it had been her’s when she was young and since she never planned on having children she had no need for it, “Why would I need a family when I already have Gon, that boys like a whole gaggle of children all on his own!” she had said.
The dress was a lovely robin eggs blue, with white lace around the bottom hem of the puffy cupcake skirt. The shoulders had originally been puffy, very traditional but Mito-san had fixed it up and instead was now little spaghetti straps which Alluka just adored! It also had a big white bow right around the waist as well as smaller bows placed fashionably around the skirt. Alluka loved it, so did Nanika! When they twirled it looked so pretty as it fanned out. Killua had even gone out and bought her some ribbon for her hair to match her dress.
The day of the event had actually been very relaxed and laid back compared to the previous week of hasty preparations. The dance wasn’t until later that evening and so most of the day was spent setting up. The entire thing was set up in a clearing in the forest, a wide grassy opening surrounded by towering trees.
Tables and chairs were set up to one side while lights were being strung up on branches as well as homemade lanterns. An old record player had been the usual sound system for the dance but some of the younger island goers brought an actual boombox in attempts to spice things up. Slowly people began to trickle in as the sun began to set, placing various dishes of food on the table and dressed their best.
As the sunset bathed them in vibrant oranges and soft pinks people mingled, lively but soft music floating through the air as people ate and caught up with friends and neighbors. Mito-san had introduced Alluka to some other island children, there had even been a girl around Alluka’s age. For a while the air was filled with laughter and chatter, children running and playing in the dying light of the sun.
The lanterns began to glow and earlier placed fairy lights turned on as the sun’s last rays faded from view. Gon and Killua finally arrived, Gon dressed sharply in a suit with coat tails and a little green bowtie; Killua had a pair of very well tailored dress pants and a dark blue dress shirt that he hadn’t fully buttoned, a silver necktie hung loosely around his slender throat.
The two had begun by trying to snack on every dessert on the tables, until Mito-san had caught on to them and shooed them away. It had then turned into a game of seeing who could sneak past Mito-san to nab a treat which had quickly ended in two very sore ears, Mito-san had quite the grip!
As the moon rose into the sky, casting milky beams across the island and stars began to twinkle brightly the chatter had died down and music had risen in volume. It was now something still jaunty but softer, perfect for dancing. Alluka had started by dancing with her new friends and then a fun dance with Killua, her big brother had let her step on his feet while he moved them around.
Then Gon had asked Killua to dance, ending with a firm refusal and reddened cheeks. Gon had puffed up his own cheeks angrily and insisted that Killua dance with him, it had broken down into a small argument before Killua had promised just one dance! Gon had only replied with, “Then I’ll have to make sure this dance never ends!” along with a blinding smile that had left Killua flustered and Alluka snickering.
The two had made there way to an abandoned part of what had been deemed the dance floor. It was awkward at first, toes were stepped on and they argued who would lead but soon their nerves lessened and laughter bubbled forth. The music tinkled through the air as Gon and Killua danced. Killua laughing and smiling like it was the last time he would and Gon eyes never straying from Killua fora moment.
Alluka watched happily from the sidelines, swaying along with the music. But Nanika began stirring, whispering things that made Alluka curious. She turned to glance into the darkness of the forest, shadows dancing around the moon’s light. She glanced back at her brother who had his arms wrapped around Gon’s neck as the dark haired boy’s own arms were around the ex-assassins waist as he spun him until they were both dizzy.
Alluka smiled before checking to make sure no one was paying her any attention and letting the inky darkness of the night swallow her whole.
She clumsily made her way through the underbrush, twigs snapping underfoot and leaves rustling overhead. She only had to walk for a minute or so, the light of the gathering was visible from where she was. Ahead of her was a small clearing, much like the one the dance was being held in but much smaller. The moon was the only light to see by but it was big and fat that evening, making it an easy task.
In that clearing Alluka could see two figures. One was painfully familiar, the other not so much. One of the men was her eldest brother, dark hair pulled over one shoulder making the bare side of his throat appear even more slender and pale than usual. He wore an form fitting blue outfit that Alluka never recalled seeing but she never did see much of Illumi, even before they’d discovered Nanika’s existence.
The second man had bright red hair that was spiked and seemed to be wearing face paint and a constant smirk. The two men were leaning against a single tree, Illumi unblinkingly staring at the red headed man while said red head practically leered at the ravenette.
“Hisoka that is utterly ridiculous.” Illumi stated plainly. Hisoka, now Alluka had a name for a face. Strange, she thought she’d heard Killua say that name before. The man - Hisoka - only laughed as his smirk grew wider.
“But my dear Illumi won’t you just try it?” The taller male purred.
“No.” Was the instantaneous response. Hisoka through his head back and laughed as if Illumi had told him the greatest joke he’d ever heard. When the redhead finally calmed himself he pushed away from the tree and walked into the clearing, for a moment Alluka thought he was coming for her but at the last minute he turned on his heel and bowed deeply to the eldest Zoldyck brother.
“If you won’t accept my first request then,” Hisoka raised his head enough to pierce the raven haired man with his sharp gaze and even sharper grin. “Would you honor me with a dance?”
Illumi watched him silently for a moment, blinking his large empty eyes slowly. He strode forward until he stood before Hisoka before leaning down to Hisoka’s eye level so their faces were inches apart; then leaned forward ever so slightly.
Alluka found herself releasing the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. She watched as Hisoka only straightened up, still grinning unperturbed by Illumi’s blatant refusal. He just stroked a single painted claw down the side of Illumi’s porcelain cheek.
“Oh Illumi, you are such a tease.”
Alluka watched as the two swapped words for a bit before she thought for a moment. She lowered herself completely out of view behind the bush she’d chosen as cover. Then she clasped her hands against her chest.
‘Nanika,’ She thought to herself. ‘Could you do something for me?’
A few minutes passed and Alluka finished her silent conversation with Nanika. She peeked over the edge of the bush and watched as the two killers continued to talk quietly before Illumi fell silent. His eyes shuttered for a mere second before he looked at Hisoka who had quirked a brow in question.
“Fine.” Illumi huffed and Hisoka’s other brow joined the first in the air.
“Fine what?” He asked as the assassin was coming closer.
“Fine, I’ll dance.” Illumi explained blankly and genuine surprise flashed across Hisoka’s face before he recovered and took it in stride. He held out his hand to the dark haired man who took it gracefully before being pulled tight against Hisoka’s broad chest as the magician’s other arm snaked around the assassins slender waist.
“Then let us dance.” Hisoka declared as he began to lead them in a simple waltz, Illumi’s hand that wasn’t occupied with Hisoka’s own took it’s rightful place on the taller male’s shoulder. Illumi moved with natural grace and Hisoka’s own movements were like water as they glided together. The two danced like it was breathing, Hisoka led with natural ease and Illumi’s grace translated to dancing as it did to everything he did. Hisoka did something clever with his feet before suddenly dipping Illumi low, midnight locks brushing the ground as the two gazed at each other before meeting in the middle for a deep kiss. Their mouths moved together as smoothly as their bodies did, they parted slowly lips lingering and sharing breath for only a moment before Hisoka easily pulled Illumi up from the dip and they continued their dance.
They dance was rather tame after that, though Hisoka did throw in a few more playful twirls and saucy dips but they looked…content. Alluka giggled softly before sneaking away, it was about time she returned to her brother’s side before he got worried.
She returned just in time for the end of the dance, as the final lingering notes of music hung in the air Gon scooped Killua up, his forearms tightly wrapped around Killua upper thigh; the white haired boy’s hand flying to Gon’s shoulder to steady himself as Gon spun them around. Their laughter rang brightly through the clearing and Alluka found their joy to infectious as a smile tugged at her lips too.
“Why didn’t you kill her?” Hisoka asked as they swayed gently. Illumi’s arms now lazily slung around the magicians neck. Hisoka’s own hands gripping Illumi’s hips as they practically floated across the ground. The music from the little Island shindig had long since faded, the moon already having made it’s long trek across the night sky only a few hours left before it said its goodbyes.
“I can’t quite explain it.” Illumi said, eyebrows furrowing for a moment in thought before relaxing. His eyes returning to Hisoka’s face.
“Why didn’t you?” Hisoka hummed curiously, he had a few reasons but none that he was willing to share so instead he shrugged.
“I felt like dancing with you instead.” He grinned as he gave Illumi’s sharp hipbones a soft squeeze and pressed himself even closer to his lover. Their bodies flush from almost head to toe. Illumi watched him silently with a blank expression before sighing and lowering his head slowly, his cheek squished against Hisoka’s firm shoulder dark strands of hair spilling over.
“I don’t want to stop.” Illumi said quietly and Hisoka’s grin softened.
“We don’t have too.” He murmured, enraptured by the way Illumi’s dark eyelashes looked with moonlight filtering through them. The eldest Zoldyck child let out a tiny content sigh as his eyes fluttered closed.
The final chapter has come to an end and so has this series, I hope you all enjoyed! I have mentioned the chances of another series similar to this one but instead the victims of trauma are the phantom troupe, if you think that sounds interesting please let me know!
I hope you liked it, I appreciate feedback and I do take requests!
is something of a surprise to Fenris. After the green expanse of the
Hinterlands and the rainy wilds of the Brecilian Forest, it’s strange
to see an actual city in Ferelden.
here it is, a city much like any other, worn stone pavements
underfoot, thatch on roofs overhead, and people, people
interesting to hear the accents and the languages around him as they
walk through the streets; he hears a snatch of Antivan - asking about
poisons, predictably - and of Neverran, which Fenris knows barely
anything of, though from the man’s voice, he’s clearly displeased
interesting, though, is being near so many Fereldans. There were
plenty in Kirkwall, but here they’re completely surrounded by people
who sound like Hawke. Not as good
as him, Fenris thinks. No one’s voice will ever make him feel
fluttering butterflies the way Hawke’s does, and no one, Hawke
included, will ever know about that. Still though; it’s curious to
hear the softer rural accents and the crisper city ones, to hear
hints of Hawke’s voice in the words of a stranger.
they pass the Chantry, the grey skies make good on their threat and
it starts to rain, hard and cold.
who has been teasing Fenris about his dislike of Fereldan weather,
sighs himself now and after glaring at the sky, takes Fenris’s
go in that shop,” he says, pointing to a blue-painted door
across the street. “Get out of the rain.”
shop is a book store, warm and smelling slightly musty. There are a
few others here, sifting through the books, of which there are
plenty. Fenris reaches for his money purse,
running his fingers over the coin. They need to be careful with
money, he knows, but he wants to read something new. They only have
two books between them, the spines sad and cracked from rereading.
around at the shelves upon shelves of books, he’s struck by longing
to be in Hawke’s estate, lounging on the sofa in front of the fire
with his head in Hawke’s lap and a book in his hands. He misses
Hawke’s library. He misses Hawke’s estate, his own mansion. He misses
Kirkwall. Not that he’d go back there, not without Hawke but still.
He misses it, and it surprises him.
one day, he thinks, and then pushes the thought aside.
can’t go to Kirkwall but he can buy a book, as long as it’s
Hawke goes to ask the proprietor where the nearest inn is so that
they can have an actual bed for once, Fenris wanders around the
store. It’s haphazardly organised. Books about farming techniques are
placed next to a propaganda pamphlet about the Qun, which is next to
a book literally titled Bodice
a sale sign near the back of the store so Fenris goes towards it;
since he’s not precious when it comes to genre or even quality, he
hopes he’ll find something there.
even more disorganised than the rest of the store, half the books not
even in piles, and some of them missing covers or even most of their
he looks through them, his hopes of finding something worth reading
start to fade. Most of them are out-dated histories of Ferelden, or
biographies of people who, a flick through the books tell him, had
the most uninteresting lives anyone has ever had.
something catches his eye.
newer than the others, printed on cheap paper. It has a bright cover,
even face down as it is, but the colours aren’t what caught his eye.
It’s the author: Varric Tethras.
picks it up. He thought he’d read all of Varric’s books, and he’s
even - very secretly - a fan. But he’s never seen this one
he reads the title, dismay starts to creep over him.
course he would, as evidenced by all those parts of the Tale
of the Champion
that Fenris got very, very angry at Hawke for telling Varric
evidence: the white-haired elf on the cover, in an embrace with a
handsome, bearded human in armour.
by his side in a moment. “Are you alright?”
holds up the book. “Did you know about this?”
blinks slowly, and takes it from his hands. “No. No, I didn’t.”
He flicks through it and laughs loudly. “Maker’s Breath,
Varric,” he says, and starts to read, “‘The lithe elf’s
eyes are wide as the Champion approaches, the hulking size and bulk
of the man making the elf quiver-’”
winces. It’s even worse than he thought. “Stop.
Stop right there, Hawke. I do not quiver.”
you do, Fenris.” Hawke grins a very specific type of grin that
makes Fenris’s mouth dry, then steps a little closer to slide a hand
down to Fenris’s ass. “I found out where the inn is. What do you
say to going there right now so that I can prove it to you?”
gives a strangled noise as Hawke squeezes.
take that as a yes. Let me just buy this book
We have to support our friends, Fenris.”
his arms, Fenris gives in. There’s one good thing about the book, and
that’s its size, large and weighty. “Only
if I get to throw the bloody thing at him next time we see
Jack woke up
extra early on the ninth of December.
He slunk out of bed, careful to not wake his beautiful wife, walked past
his sleeping children, and padded through the dark house. The sun was hours from rising. A cold chill had crept into the house
overnight, making Jack shiver as he creaked open the door to the lab and worked
his way downstairs.
on the fluorescent lights – they would be blindingly bright – Jack stood at the
bottom of the stairs to allow his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the
lab. Ectoplasm glowed from
hundreds of different places in the lab, like little flashlights scattered
around. Green mist spun from the
open portal, dancing across the floor in a glowing carpet.
silence of the predawn hours, the ectoplasm buzzed. The small overhead fan clicked as it spun in lazy
circles. The acrid scent of ozone
curled through the lab.
grinned. This was his favorite
place in the world.
He moved down
through the lab, daring to walk across the darkened lab in bare feet. The ectoplasmic mist on the floor was
disturbed by his passage, swirling up like little feathers before settling back
down to the floor. Really, he
should turn on the air filters and clean the air before being down here for too
long, but something else that had his attention this morning. It sat on the table in the corner of
the lab, a bright green bow on top.
It was his birthday present.