There and Back Again Ch. 144

byElyssaCousland©

Aedan seemed to have come to the same conclusion. He turned to us, raising his eyebrow, his head tilted slightly, the question implicit. Alistair and I made brief eye contact, and then nodded wordlessly. Aedan finally stood with a sigh. "I'll deal with Rolan. Everyone, get ready. You've got an hour for rest and food, and then we're going to find the Architect and end this."

We filed out of the room to see the army already doing what Aedan had suggested. Some were eating rations, sitting quietly while they chewed the ubiquitous jerky that soldiers seemed to exist on in Thedas. Some cleaned their equipment or sharpened swords; some slept where they fell, snatching what rest they could before moving on. We found ourselves some space and did the same, filling ever-hungry bellies with leathery rations, readying equipment and getting some rest. I briefly thanked the Maker for Warden stamina, otherwise I felt sure I'd have been too exhausted to move after such a trying morning.

After a few minutes I saw Rolan and Aedan approach; the former templar had his sword strapped back on, and he moved purposefully and quietly, looking almost...at peace. Aedan shot me a grin before sinking to the ground and chewing absentmindedly on his own jerky. Alistair had huddled up with Trevian and Nate, devising the strategy for the next offensive, I assumed; when I was done eating, I grabbed some rations for my husband, found a small wedge of cheese tucked at the bottom of my bag for just such an occasion, and brought them to him just as they seemed to finish up.

"What was in the other side passages, anyway?" I asked after accepting my husband's adoring smile when I handed him the cheese. Mouth too full to respond, he gestured at Trevian, who grunted.

"Mostly empty rooms. This must have been a major crossroads back in the day, judging by the size of the guard outpost. One day, maybe we'll even be able to reclaim it - there's the basics for sanitation, living quarters, and it would be quite defensible..." He trailed off, and I cleared my throat. He flushed. "Sorry 'bout that. There were a few darkspawn stragglers, but nothing major. No one was hurt."

I nodded thoughtfully, turning to face the large, black opening at the back of the room - the only place we'd yet to explore. "So any idea what's back there? Does your 'stone sense' tell you anything about the layout?"

He shook his head. "Doesn't work like that, cloudhead." He grinned at me, and I laughed. "That's not part of the Deep Roads proper. Can't say whether it was darkspawn who dug it, or unsanctioned dwarven mining. It leads straight into the rock - no way to know how far it goes before we hit Deep Roads again. Could be one room, could be miles of irregular tunnels. Either way, they can't help but know we're coming - that battle wasn't exactly quiet. Depending on the forces this Architect has available...we could be in for quite the fight."

I sighed. "Well, this ought to be interesting, anyway."

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