Title: The Ferelden Chronicles - Chapter Two
Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Summary: Varia Surana thought her life had already been mapped out for her. She would be a mage of the Circle of Ferelden, studying and perfecting her craft. However, an unforseen series of events sends her headlong into a world thrown into chaos by the King's death and an impending Blight.
Pairings: Cullen/Surana; eventual Alistair/Surana
Characters (This Chapter): Varia Surana, Mouse, Sloth, Valor, Rage Demon
Disclaimer: Dragon Age characters, settings, and any dialogue taken from the game ©BioWare. Varia belongs to me.
Content Warning: Mage Origin Spoilers; Overall game spoilers; Adult language; Mild violence; mature content in later chapters
Chapter Two: A Harrowing Ordeal
Varia kept her eyes shut tightly, forcing back a wave of nausea which threatened to overtake her. She now fully understood why Wendell had gotten sick at the mere mention of the Harrowing after taking his. Being forcibly pulled from your own body and into the Fade was quite a different experience from visiting it in one's dreams.
After a moment, she slowly opened her eyes and softly gasped at the sight before her. This was not how she remembered the Fade. In her dreams, she was always in a grassy field or at that farmstead where her father had last worked before he died. Occasionally, she would be at a castle, riding horses with a prince. But this... This was nothing more than a desolate wasteland and it was all hazy. Her eyes refused to focus entirely, no matter how many times she squeezed them shut and opened them again. She could see some sort of fortress off in the distance, but couldn't make it out clearly. Was that where she was to go in order to complete her Harrowing?
She took a cautious step forward, still feeling a bit out of sorts, and paused when everything started to spin around her. Looking around for a place to sit and rest for a moment, she noticed a tall, grotesque statue with a small outcropping of glowing blue rock near its base. She said a small prayer of thanks under her breath and went over to the rock to sit down, but something didn't feel quite right as she approached it. The closer she grew to the rock, the more it glowed, and by the time she reached it she had realized why: The rock was pure, unrefined lyrium. She could feel the magic reverberating off it as it pulsed a vibrant blue color, the waves calming her and clearing her head in a matter of seconds.
Feeling renewed and ready to continue forward, Varia set out on the only visible path ahead of her. The ground beneath her feet was dusty and well-worn, and she momentarily wondered just how many mages had traversed this very same path over the years. She was pulled from her thoughts by a low, buzzing sound, however, and glanced up to find a wisp wraith floating in the air several feet ahead. The wisp glowed softly, white sparks dancing around its center as it simply hovered in the air. Then, without warning, the light emanating from it became almost blindingly bright and it threw a bolt of energy directly at her.
Varia didn't react quickly enough, and she ended up being dazed when the wisp's attack hit her at full force. She swore under her breath and concentrated on a shield spell, and when the wisp attempted to send another bolt of arcane energy at her it was easily deflected. She responded in kind, flicking her wrist and sending an arcane bolt right back to the wisp. The spell hit its mark and the wisp instantly burst, sending tiny particles of shimmering energy into the air.
"That wasn't much of a challenge, at all," Varia muttered to herself, and she set forward along the path once again. She reminded herself, though, that this was not her true test. The demon Irving had spoken of wherever it may be hiding was the thing she had to be worried about.
She encountered another wisp several hundred yards along the path from where the first one had been, but this time she was ready for it. By the time it launched its attack, she already had her shield up and had sent out a spell of her own. The wisp burst at the very same moment its weak energy bolt dissolved into her shield.
"Someone else thrown to the wolves, I see," came a voice from somewhere nearby. "As fresh and unprepared as ever."
"Who's there?" Varia asked, looking around for the source of the voice, all of her senses suddenly on full alert in case this was the demon she had been sent to face.
"It isn't right that they do this, you know," the voice continued to speak. "Not to you, me, anyone."
Varia noticed some movement out of the corner of her eye and whipped her head around to find a large brown rat scampering across the ground toward her. It stopped at her feet and sat up on its hind legs, and she wondered if this creature had been the source of the voice that was speaking to her.
"You're... a talking rat?" she asked the rodent. It threw back its head and scoffed in reply, its tail twitching slightly in an annoyed manner.
"You think you're really here, in that body?" it asked her, sounding amused. "You only look like that because you think you do! Stupid girl."
The rat let out a heavy sigh, shaking its head and staring sullenly at the ground for a moment before looking back up at her.
"I'm sorry. I should not have taken my anger out on you," it apologized. "It's just... It's always the same. But it's not your fault, is it? It's the templars' fault. You're just stuck in the same boat I was."
Varia blinked in surprise when the rat suddenly began to change shape, taking a step back away from it. White light surrounded it and it grew larger, taller and when the light faded away, there was a man standing where the rat had been.
"Allow me to welcome you to the Fade, traveler," the man who didn't appear to be much older than herself greeted her. "You can call me... Well... Mouse is fine, I suppose."
"That's not your real name, I take it?" Varia asked, warily eying him. She had never heard of a mage who could change form into that of an animal. Besides, it did her no good to let her guard down at any point during this venture. Her very life depended upon it.
"I can't remember my name," Mouse told her. "I've been here so long... It's all fuzzy, that time before. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night and taken to the Harrowing Chamber. And then... Well, I don't have to tell you, do I? You already know what comes after that."
"So you've been trapped here in the Fade since you took your Harrowing?" Varia wondered. It seemed odd. From everything she had read about the Fade, it as her understanding that souls did not remain there once the mortal body died. They either moved on to the Maker's side or were cast into the Void.
"The templars kill you if you take too long," Mouse informed her. "Even if you're not showing outward signs of possession, they figure you failed and they do it out of fear that something might get out. That's what they did to me, I'm almost certain of it. I have no body to reclaim. And you, friend, don't have much time before they'll do the very same thing to you."
Varia nodded slowly, taking his warning to heart while also maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism. Something was definitely off about this Mouse character.
"How much time do I have, exactly?" she asked, wondering if she could somehow get him to slip up and say something that would reveal his true motives for approaching her.
"I... I don't exactly remember," Mouse replied, stumbling over his own words. "I ran away and hid. Time here works differently than in the mortal world, so I can't really be sure how long I've been here, to tell you the truth."
"Then I suppose I best get going and find this demon I am to face," Varia told him, turning away and continuing along the path.
"I'll follow you, if that's alright," she heard him call from behind her, and a moment later the rat was scurrying along right beside her.
Varia didn't protest. She didn't really trust the rat... man... whatever he was, but perhaps he could give her some insight as to what she could expect during her test.
"What can you tell me about this place?" she asked him, turning her gaze forward once more.
"There's something here, contained, just waiting for an apprentice like you," Mouse said. Varia couldn't help but notice a touch of fear in his voice and turned to look at him briefly. His ears and whiskers were trembling, and his voice was barely audible as he continued.
"It is a demon. Your task is to face it, resist it, and defeat it. Only then will you be allowed to leave this accursed place."
Mouse seemed to realize he was being watched and stopped walking. He stood up on his back legs once more and looked up at Varia, his head tilted to one side.
"I'm sorry if I am frightening you. Not all of the spirits here are evil, you know. There are helpful ones, too. They could probably tell you more about this place than I can. Perhaps some of them would even be willing to help you. That is, if you can believe anything you see here."
Varia almost laughed at that remark. She still wasn't sure she believed him, but parts of his story seemed valid enough. Perhaps he really was an apprentice who had become trapped here after the templars killed him simply because they were bored and tired of waiting for him to complete his Harrowing one way or the other. She would have to remember to ask Irving about it when she got back.
"I'll keep that in mind," she simply said, and the two of them continued walking in silence. Eventually, they came to a large, open space. Varia was about to go investigate, but Mouse grabbed at her robes with one of his tiny paws.
"There is a dangerous spirit nearby," he warned her, his ears trembling once more. "Do not go near it unless you are truly ready."
"I take it that means this is where I will find the demon I am to face?" Varia inquired.
"Yes, and you are not ready to face it, yet. You're going to need some sort of weapon, first."
"Right. And where, exactly, am I to find one of those?" she asked, trying not to sound too annoyed.
"Follow me," Mouse instructed before scurrying off. Varia sighed and followed him, remembering to keep alert. Perhaps he really did know where she could find a weapon to use against the demon, but it was just as likely that he could be leading her right into a trap.
The two of them came across another wisp and a pair of spirit wolves on their way to the place where Mouse said she would be able to find a weapon. He shifted out of his rat form to fight alongside her, but even with his help it was the simple healing spell Irving had insisted she learn which had saved them. Once their enemies had been defeated, Mouse looked around and let out a groan.
"What?" Varia said, turning to look at him. "What's wrong?"
"We've gone too far," he told her. "There is another spirit nearby, but..."
"Well, it may not be willing to help us. Let us see, though."
He shifted once more into his smaller rat form and continued along the path, and Varia trailed several paced behind him. As soon as she saw the creature ahead, she stopped. Mouse was right this did not look like the type of spirit who would be willing to help them. It was a large, bear-like creature with spikes protruding from its fur... and it was fast asleep. Surely, he didn't actually mean for them to wake it up?
"Come on," Mouse coaxed her. "Ask him if he'll help us."
"Me?" Varia asked, pointing to herself. "This was your idea! You wake it up."
Mouse sighed and walked up to the spirit, holding out one of his tiny paws. With one quick swipe, he brought his claws down across the creature's nose... and then promptly ran to stand behind Varia.
"Thanks," she muttered under her breath as the creature woke up with a loud yawn.
"Hmm," it muttered, looking her over. "So, you're the mortal being hunted? And the small one... Is he to be a snack for me?"
Varia felt Mouse clutch the bottom of her robes with both his front paws and couldn't help smirking a bit. He thought he'd gotten away without being detected. It seemed the spirit wasn't as deep a sleeper as he'd thought it was.
"I don't like this," he said, peeking out from behind her legs. "He isn't going to help us. We should just go."
"No matter," the spirit said rather nonchalantly. "The demon will get you, eventually. Perhaps there will even be some scraps left over for me."
"What kind of spirit are you?" Varia asked the spirit, who had stood up and was now eying her even more intently no doubt wondering how she would taste as his evening meal.
"It's a demon," Mouse replied, still cowering behind her, "perhaps even more powerful than the one chasing you."
"Surely you have better things to do than bother Sloth, mortal," the demon said, flopping back down to the ground and closing his eyes once more. Apparently, he had decided that it wouldn't be worth the effort to kill her for the meager amount of flesh on her bones. "Begone!"
"Come on," Mouse insisted, finally shifting out of his rat form in order to attempt to push Varia back the way they had come. She twisted away from him and took a step closer to the demon.
"I need help defeating another demon," she said.
"If you listen to your friend and go back the way you came, you'll find a rather pompous spirit who can equip you with a very nice staff."
"I was hoping you might be able to teach Mouse to be like you," she suggested, causing Sloth to open one eye and look up at her quizzically.
"Be like me?" he asked, raising his head. "You mean, take on this form?"
Varia nodded. Sloth turned his attention to Mouse, appraising him for a long while before speaking again.
"If you had asked that I teach you, mortal, I would have said no. After all, most mortals are too attached to their own forms to learn the change. However, I do believe that I could teach your friend here... for a price."
"What sort of price?" Varia asked, suddenly regretting not having taken Mouse's advice to leave when they had the chance.
"Answer three riddles correctly, and I will teach you," Sloth offered.
"That sounds easy enough," Mouse said, genuinely surprised by the proposal.
"Fail, and I will devour you both," Sloth added, grinning.
"I should've guessed there would be a catch."
"I agree to your challenge, Sloth," Varia told the demon, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Truly?" Sloth asked, sitting up. "Well, now... This gets more and more promising. As you wish, then. The first riddle is this: I have seas with no water, coasts with no sand, towns without people, mountains without land. What am I?"
"A map," Varia answered. That one had been easy. She guessed they would get harder along the way, but she had a logical way of thinking and was fairly sure she would be able to answer any riddle the demon may throw at them.
"Correct," Sloth responded, sounding disappointed. "Let's move on. The second riddle: I am rarely touched, but often held. If you have wit, you'll use me well. What am I?"
"My tongue," Varia replied, thinking of all the times Irving had warned some of the other mages to hold their tongue in the presence of templars when speaking out about some of their more questionable practices.
"Yes, your witty tongue," Sloth said before letting out a loud yawn. "Fair enough. One more try, shall we?"
"I am ready," Varia told him.
"Often will I spin a tale, never will I charge a fee. I'll amuse you an entire eve, but, alas, you won't remember me. What am I?"
Varia stood silently, running the words through her head over and over and thinking about what the answer might be.
"Come on," Mouse urged next to her. "You have to get this right, or he's going to eat us."
"A dream," she said while looking at Mouse, her lips curving upward into a smile. She turned her attention back to Sloth and found him looking at her with narrowed eyes. Apparently, he hadn't expected her to get that last one right.
"You are correct," he growled. "Rather apropos here in the Fade, no?
"Very well," he said, standing up and turning to Mouse. "A deal is a deal. You have won my challenge, and I shall hold up my end of the bargain. Come, little one, and I will teach you to take my form."
The two of them wandered off a bit together, and Varia walked over to the edge of a nearby cliff to gaze at the fortress in the distance. It appeared to be some sort of castle, but it was completely black. A small gasp escaped her when it finally dawned on her what she was looking at: The Black City. That was the Maker's great hall which the magisters of ancient Tevinter had defiled with their very presence. It was a cautionary tale all mages were taught immediately upon first arriving at the Circle, a lesson in how one's vanity and pride can often be their greatest downfall, and the very reason for their oath being what it was: Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him. My magic will serve that which is best in me, not that which is most base.
She remembered the day she had taken that oath seven years ago, when she had been promoted from a Student Apprentice to a full Apprentice. That was the day Irving had given her the yellow satin ribbon she always wore in her hair, along with a promise that the next morning they would finally start practicing some of the more complex fire spells she had shown an interest in. By the end of the week, she was able to accurately project a steady stream of flames at a target fifty feet away.
"Like this? Am I doing it right?" she heard Mouse say somewhere behind her, and she turned around to find he had transformed into a large black bear.
"Am I a bear?" he asked, looking at her.
Varia nodded, smiling at the larger form he was now able to take. "Yes, Mouse. You are, indeed, a bear."
Sloth scoffed, apparently not as satisfied with the results of the impromptu training session. "Close enough."
"It feels... heavy," Mouse complained, lifting a paw experimentally and looking at it.
"Go, then," Sloth ordered them, yawning. "Defeat your demon, or whatever it is you plan to do. I grow tired of your mortal prattling."
He fell heavily to the ground, fast asleep, and Varia turned to make her way back in the direction they had come from. Mouse walked slightly behind her, his movements not nearly as fluid as they had been before, due to the larger, more cumbersome frame which he was unused to walking around in. They were attacked by another pair of spirit wolves, and Varia was impressed that Mouse was not only able to keep their attention on him, but that he also managed to get off a few good swipes with his paw that did substantial damage to both of them at the same time. The fight this time was much shorter than the last pair of spirit wolves they had faced, and she didn't even need to heal either of them.
A little farther down the path, Varia noticed another spirit standing on a knoll, surrounded by racks of weapons. Perhaps this was the one Sloth had spoken of? Determined to find out or, at the very least, get a weapon to defend herself with from the demon she walked up the slight slope to greet the spirit.
"Another mortal thrown into the flames and left to burn, I see," the spirit stated before she had a chance to even open her mouth. "Your mages have devised a cowardly test. Better you were pitted against each other to prove your mettle with skill, than to be sent unarmed against a demon."
"Who are you?" Varia asked the spirit, wondering if every denizen in the Fade knew why she was there.
"I am Valor, a warrior spirit," the spirit replied. "I hone my weapons in search of the perfect expression of combat. That you remain means you have not yet defeated your hunter. I wish you a glorious battle to come."
"Right," Varia replied with a slight nod. Sloth had said the spirit she needed to find would be pompous. This Valor certainly fit the bill. Craning her neck, she looked around the spirit at the weapons on the racks as well as the few which were now floating about in the air. Somehow, she knew the ones that were floating were Valor's favorites the ones he most wanted to show off to her.
"Did you make all these?" she asked, indicating the weapons with a wave of her hand.
"They are brought into being by my will," Valor answered, and even though she couldn't see his face due to the helmet he was wearing, she could tell he was grinning proudly as he spoke. "I understand that in your world, only mages can will things into being."
"And these weapons would inflict harm upon the demon I am to face?" Varia wondered, reaching out to run her fingers along a particularly well-crafted staff as it floated past her head.
"Without a doubt," Valor assured her.
"Then I will take this staff," she told him, grasping the weapon out of the air and pulling it to herself.
"Do you truly desire one of my weapons?" the spirit asked, sounding a bit surprised. Varia looked at him quizzically and wondered if she was the first mage to seek out his help during their Harrowing. Actually, she wouldn't have been surprised if she was. He was wearing what appeared to be templar armor, after all. She didn't know many mages who would trust anyone wearing that armor not even if the one wearing it was merely a spirit.
"I will allow you to take that staff," Valor continued, pointing to the weapon she held in her hands, "if you agree to duel me, first. Valor shall test your mettle as it should be tested."
"You want me to duel you?" Varia asked, raising an eyebrow and shifting a bit uncomfortably on her feet. He was a warrior, in much heavier armor than the enchanted robes she had on. Not only that, but he was a Fade spirit. He could grant himself whatever powers he wanted to, if he so desired. Dueling him might very well be suicide. However, she needed this staff. Holding it in her hands, she was able to feel the magical energy it carried. It would amplify her spells and make them much more effective against the demon she was to face.
"Very well," she agreed after a moment's deliberation. "I agree to your duel, Valor."
"As you wish, mortal," Valor said with a nod of his head. "Know this, though: If I find you unworthy of this weapon, I will slay you. Our duel begins now. Fight with Valor!"
Varia was ready when he drew his weapon and came at her. She quickly side-stepped out of the way as she cast a shield upon herself, just in time to avoid receiving massive damage when he easily pivoted on his heel and stunned her. She recovered after a few seconds, and effortlessly threw a bolt of lightning at him. Valor retaliated with another heavy-handed blow which instantly shattered the Arcane Shield around her. Thinking fast, she hit him with a Winter's Grasp, which slowed him down long enough for her to run away several paces and re-shield herself. Flames were already coming from her hands by the time she turned back around to face him, and he fell to his knees before he was able to reach her, gasping for breath.
"Enough," he said, pulling himself to his feet. "Your strength is sufficient to the task laid before you. The staff is yours."
"Thank you," Varia replied, watching him place his sword at his back once more.
"I wish you luck, mortal," Valor told her, bowing respectfully. "May you find glory in all your achievements."
Varia turned around to ask Mouse if he felt she was now ready to face the demon that was waiting for her, but found he had vanshed. She decided he had probably gotten scared when her duel wth Valor started and shifted back into his rat form to go off somewhere and hide.
"Figures," she muttered under her breath, flexing her fingers around the staff in her hand. She decided it did her no good to stand around and wait for him to return, though, and so she retraced her route back to the area where Mouse had told her she would find the demon she was looking for. To her surprise, he was waiting there for her, still in his new bear form.
"I'm sorry for running off like that," he immediately apologized when she approached him. "He looked strong, and I got scared."
"He was strong," Varia told him. "I really could have used your help back there."
"It was a duel," Mouse reminded her. "Those are generally done one-on-one, you know. Besides, you seem to have come out of it no worse for wear."
Varia let out an annoyed sigh and stepped around him, walking toward the center of the open area.
"So where is this demon?" she asked, gesturing to the empty space around her with her hands.
Suddenly, there came a low, rumbling sound from behind her. Varia turned around and gasped, taking a step backward when the ground split open and a being made of molten fire burst through. The creature no doubt the demon she had been sent to face spun around with its arms held aloft, laughing triumphantly. Once it touched down on the ground, it fixed its eyes of flame upon her and appraised her, making a satisfied sound.
"And so it comes to me at last. Soon I shall see the land of the living with your eyes, creature. You shall be mine, body and soul," the demon said to her in a deep voice tinged with anger. Varia surmised that it must be a rage demon, but that didn't make sense. From what she remembered of the hierarchy, rage demons were supposed to be the weakest. Mouse had said that the demon chasing her was not as powerful as Sloth, but she hadn't expected one as low on the scale as this.
"I really don't think you stand much chance," she told the demon, seeing Mouse join her at her side in his human form. "It's two against one, after all."
"Amusing," the demon growled, turning its attention to her companion. "Have you not told it if our little arrangement, Mouse?"
"I knew it!" Varia said, turning to Mouse. "I've had a bad feeling about you since we met. I never should have trusted you!"
"We don't have an arrangement!" Mouse insisted to her, then looked to the demon. "Not any more."
"What?" the range demon asked, feigning hurt in its voice. "After all these meals we have shared together, you would simply turn your back on me? Mouse, you wound me."
"I'm not a mouse, now. I don't need to hide any more. Not from you, not from anyone! I'm done bargaining with the likes of you!"
"We shall see about that," the demon threatened, then attacked them both.
It called forth several wisps to help it in battle, and Mouse turned into a bear and ran off to take care of them while Varia faced the demon one-on-one. Knowing that beings of fire were particularly weak against frost spells, she hit it with a Winter's Grasp right away and shielded herself before the demon had a chance to break free of the ice that the spell had encased it in. By the time it did manage to break out of its frosty cocoon, she had already hit it with an Arcane Bolt and two Lightning spells. A final Arcane Bolt and the demon was down without having gotten in a single hit of its own.
Mouse ran over to her, shifting out of his bear form along the way, and grinned triumphantly at her.
"You did it! You actually did it!" he exclaimed. "I had hoped you would be able to defeat him, but part of me worried you would be no better than the others who had come before you."
"This was all just a little too easy, if you ask me," Varia said thoughtfully, looking where the demon had just been standing. Her fight with Valor had been more challenging than this one. Besides, if it had really been her task to defeat that rage demon, she should already be back in her own body - but she was still in the Fade. Something wasn't right.
"So why did you help me?" she asked Mouse, turning her wary gaze in his direction. "It sounds like you were set to betray me from the start."
"I had lost my faith," Mouse explained, "in the Circle, in mages... in everything. You made me believe again. You're a true mage, one of the few."
"What to you mean?"
"The others never stood a chance," Mouse said, shaking his head sadly. "The templars set them all up to fail. They tried to do the same with you, but you're stronger than any of them ever were. You showed me that there are still mages in the world capable of doing great things."
"And the others?" Varia asked him, her anger over his betrayal of countless other mages slowly boiling over. "Don't you care about what you did to them? How many were there? Do you even remember any of their names?"
"I... No," Mouse answered, dropping his gaze. "There were so many before, they're all just a blur in my memory. I tried to help them, as I helped you. They wouldn't listen to me, though, and it led to their own downfall."
"So you helped that demon, instead? You assisted in bringing countless mages to their own deaths by allowing it to possess them!"
"I do regret my part in this," Mouse told her, his eyes meeting hers and pleading for forgiveness. "I had no choice, though. I was too weak. If I had gone against the demon, he would have devoured me."
"Anything to survive, huh?" Varia said, scoffing a bit. "Like an animal. Or worse."
"It's the Fade," Mouse explained. "It changes you. Am I to blame for what it has made me? Should I be punished merely for deciding that I wish to live? Deciding to exist or not exist is not a fair choice. I had lost all hope, before you came along. You have shown me other possibilities, though. There may yet be a way for me to get out of this place. If you want to help, that is."
"Why would I help someone who was going to hand me right over to that thing?" Varia asked, her temper finally flaring. "As far as I'm concerned, you can stay here forever! Better yet, you should be in the Void, suffering as penance for your part in betraying all of your fellow mages by aligning yourself with a demon."
"All I need is a foothold outside," Mouse calmly explained, a small smile on his lips. "You just need to want to let me in."
"That's the last thing I would want," Varia shot back, then paused, thinking back on what he had just said.
"You just need to want to let me in."
She let out a small gasp and took a step back from him. Now everything made sense. He knew so much about this place, and yet things hadn't added up from the start. His story hadn't made sense because that's all it was a story.
"I'm beginning to think that demon wasn't my real test, was it?" she asked Mouse, her senses completely alert. At the first sign of movement, she would attack him.
"What?" Mouse said, eyes wide in shock, crossing his arms over his chest indignantly. "What are you... Of course it was! What else is here that could harm an apprentice of your potential?"
He sighed and looked down for a moment, then chuckled darkly and looked back up at her with a grin. Varia's grip tightened on her staff, electricity already starting to build in her fingers.
"You are a smart one," Mouse remarked, but made no move to attack her. "Simple killing is a warrior's job. The real dangers of the Fade are preconceptions, careless trust... pride."
His voice changed as he spoke, taking on an increasingly deeper, more menacing tone. Suddenly, there was a flash of light. Varia was blinded for a second, and when she opened her eyes once more she found a pride demon towering over her.
"Shit," she muttered under her breath, the confidence she had been gaining in her abilities since entering the Fade slowly draining away. Pride demons were the most powerful of all. She wasn't sure she stood a chance against one in single combat. Swallowing nervously, she took a defensive stance and prepared herself for combat.
"Keep your wits about you, mage," the demon warned her. "True tests never end."
Varia felt sick to her stomach, and once more found herself surrounded by a bright, bluish-white glow. Her final thought before losing consciousness was a prayer of thanks to the Maker for getting her out of that mess.