A C T O N E : T H E C H A M P I O N
T H E S I E G E O F K I R K W A L L
HOW IT BEGAN"You really want to know the truth about the Champion, Seeker? Well, I can only tell you what I know. Best tales I know of the people who reach their glory are those who never asked for it. And Frances? Well... If it wasn't for the Arishok's son, I doubt we'd be here, discussing the events. It's not often you hear the son of a Qunari leader turning on his own flesh and blood... Because of a human woman. This had nothing to do with the conspiracy of taking down the Chantry and conspiring with the Qunari to take over the Free Marches. I think it was all because of love..."
- Varric Tethras
The people of Kirkwall were tense more than they have ever been before, as if the Blight itself wasn't an issue enough - the refugees storming through the gates of the city, the ever-growing tension between the Templars and the Mage Circle, things seemed to have only piled on further and further. The common folk were desperate and demoralized, the lower classes lived under miserable circumstances and were forced to take on grueling and rather immoral jobs for some coin, while the upper class still got to live comfortably, despite the ever-growing tensions.The Blighted Castle
is one of the biggest ships that graced the seas, as big as the ships of royalties and nobles from all around Thedas, but this one was just a bit different. There was a large black flag with a masked skull dancing in the wind, shamelessly announcing its presence to either provoke the bold or frighten the clever. The Nightlaws
were the pirates who have been the kings of the sea for the past three decades, known to have taken down massive ships, raided and killed nobles in cold blood, sometimes even ending bloodlines, only to disappear into the night. They were rich and powerful, with connections running deep in the noble circles of gorgeous Orlais, which is the only reason why it seems this organization always slips through the cracks just in time
. And when you hear the stories of these cold blooded killers and near-impossible odds, people tend to either idolize them like the Orlesians or are terrified at the mere mention of them like in the Free Marches of Ferelden. No sailor would want to share the same horizon as these folks…
And it seemed that there was a crew of pirates from ship Siren's Call
who had seen the Orlesian flag and taken the opportunity to establish dominance which had proved to be a fool's errand. Siren's Call had met the depths as the survivors have fled the ship, and all of their valuables were taken away before the majestic sailboat would be nothing but a wreck. The Blighted Castle simply left their enemies behind to be the leftovers for the hungering sharks.
And those who left the ship that night in Kirkwall were not here on Nightlaw business - they didn't wear the recognizable uniform and these were not masked Orlesian assassins, instead they stuck to the shadows and their faces were hidden underneath the hooded cloaks. They were more than pirates and to the general public, they had no names. They had no faces. Just shadows that come and go in silence.
The organization that left the Blighted Castle are the Serpents of the Rocks and they situated themselves in one of the abandoned homes in Lowtown that led into the Darktown area which was perfect for smuggling both resources and information. Some people had to learn the hard way that there's new and more dangerous faces in the city that shouldn't be questioned, even though some dared to provoke. A group of hooded and well-armed assassins would eventually stir the community while remaining anonymous, some thinking that it's just another group of bandits that were idolized by the desperate, and the Serpents preferred it that way. They were organized and successfully secretive with how well they concealed their identities, so finding out information about them proved to be an incredibly tedious task and probably not worth losing life over it.
What the Serpents did in Kirkwall is doing some damage control - taking care of the helpless, clearing the streets at night of the trouble, but that really had riled up some people. Some mercs and thugs really wanted these new, dangerous faces out of their turf. And it was only a matter of time before they'd inevitably get into a much bigger conflict with the Serpents if they remain here for long enough.
Frances kept an eye out on their surroundings. She couldn't just simply walk out and puff her chest, announcing their arrival even more. They caused more than enough of a stir, but she did not expect Kirkwall to be this... Well, it's a cacophony, but what did she even expect in the time of Blight. Her good friend and also a bodyguard, Tavros
asked her to come here. This was where he grew up when he was a child and initially met Tobias, the previous Head of the Serpents. He didn't like the rumors about the state Kirkwall was in and he wanted to see what was actually happening from the inside. The criminal activity in this place was frightening and so many people were in poverty, sleeping on the streets with nothing to hold their name. All the while the nobles lived comfortably in their side of the town, blocking the desperate lower class from even stepping near their side of the town. How could they just ignore and move on with their lives while so many suffer and die?
Living as both a Serpent and Nightlaw, Frances hid her true identity from the world, one identity as a he
, a man, to the general public and other people who have never seen her. She liked to deceive the outsiders looking into her organization, because if you cut the head off of the Head, the rest will stop functioning and chaos will commence - hence why she had picked Frances as someone who represents her identity.
DEALINGS WITH THE QUN AND THE EXPEDITION
When they came to see the Arishok for the first time, tangled in the dirty business with a dwarf who wanted some of the infamous Qunari gunpowder, Arishok was met with five people. At a first glance, they were cloaked in dark armor
though to a trained eye such as his, it was obviously light and unrestrictive armor. He had been in the human lands more than he would like to admit, and he had recognized that such uniforms are worn by the assassins, daggers and killers for hire. But more than that, despite not being able to see a face or any other physical trait aside from height and build, it was clear that in just this group of five, there was diversity - A male dwarf, male elf, a female human, and two male humans. However, one in particular stood out. He was the tallest and broadest, while he was dressed as a rogue, he was built like a warrior.... And Arishok almost thought that he was one of their own when he spoke the Qunlat.
It was disappointing and just as surprising to learn that the man who spoke to him in Qunlat was just a trusted bodyguard of the human woman who spoke with a firmness of a man and with fire in her tongue. Arishok was doubtful, as were his men, women were not meant to be leaders. But after Frances had done some favors for the Qun, without asking for anything in return, Arishok had shown the slightest bit of favor towards the Serpents, despite Arishok never seeing the faces of the people involved. Though he was aware that he was the first to know that the leader of this infamous group of assassins was not a man, as the city whispered. But a woman. And a strange one, at that.
And for that reason exactly, after what had happened with Javaris, it got the attention of Dwarven nobles who were preparing to go to an expedition to the Deep Roads. It is where Frances had met Varric, a Dwarven noble who prefers to be called a Surfacer, who is also a silver-tongued writer, and a former Grey Warden mage Anders, who shared Frances' bitterness for the authority, and the same drive to fight against the oppression of the Chantry and all other authority... Even though Frances, an assassin, had more of a moral compass. Despite those shared ideals, Frances had developed a closer friendship with Varric, bound with trust and same humor.
THREE YEARS LATER - PRESENT DAY AND UNENDING TROUBLES
The expedition, although ending successfully for the party, did not go smoothly. Bartrand, Varric's brother and the one behind the expedition had tricked the group and trapped them in one of the rooms of the Deep Roads after taking the Lyrium statue. The greed completely polluted the dwarf's mind and ever since they returned to Kirkwall, Varric was understandably hellbent on getting his revenge. While Frances had promised to help him in this endeavor, something rather troubling had happened...
The Serpents, despite the ridiculous amount of wealth they have earned after the expedition, have kept it going the same way they always had - head low, lurking in the shadows, gathering information, cutting throats and making sure to make the wealthy un-wealthy by donating all the finery and money to those in need. And after her one day of gathering information on Bartrand with Tavros, they returned to their headquarters, they'd learn that things will no longer be the same. Tavros and Frances that same fateful day have learned that, whatever they have taken from that pirate ship that attacked them years ago, actually had the stolen Tome of Kolsun - which belonged to the Qunari. The reason why they rushed back to their hideout was to retrieve the Tome to return it to the Qunari, with hopes to make matters better, as Tavros, who was knowledgeable about the people, warned Frances that if Arishok knew, he could really cross every boundary and wreck havoc upon all of Kirkwall, if not the entire Free Marches.
Just a few people were around the messy lounge area of their hideout and they looked beat up and bloodied, if not laying motionless and dead on the floor. Frances froze in place as she looked around, very clearly disturbed as the realization settled in. These people are her friends, her only family. Were they discovered by their new enemies? Who could do this to them? She needed to help them. Everyone. She cannot just stand there...
"Bennett..." one of the wounded spoke up, coughing blood. Frances rushed over to him, worry written all over her face. Not bothering to ask questions, she looked at the wound in his stomach and immediately began to treat him. The man groaned, clearly in pain as she shifted him to stop the bleeding from his seemingly fatal wound. She cared about her people, they were brothers and sisters. Even blood relations couldn't compare to the bond between the members of the Serpents, as they have bonded through the hardships, being each other's support and pillars… "Boss, it's Bennett... He started... A deal with... Someone else."
Frances frowned and looked at Tavros. "Call over the others and help the wounded NOW." she ordered. He rushed out, he didn't need her to tell him twice. Her attention would immediately shift back to her comrade. "Tell me, Phillipe, who is he working with?"
The man took a few quick breaths after swallowing, using whatever was left of his strength to form sentences. "Meeran... Another merc in town… We've already gotten some info on him… He didn't like our presence here and… And then Bennett... He took some of the prizes before we caught him and others he convinced..." he started coughing again.
Just as Phillipe was about to speak, Frances stopped him. "No, it's fine. You told me enough. You need to rest, I'll get us a medic." she insisted as she stopped the bleeding from his wound. Laying him down, she rushed to see who was dead from the group, even though any loss is a bad loss. She knew many of these people. Either she grew up with them or she taught them, she never took loss well. But the betrayal hurt even more. She was afraid that Tobias' death would lead to this, to the falling out of the Serpents and the organization he made to help the helpless and bring down those who step on them, only for the brothers and sisters to stab each other in the back like cowards.
Rage boiled on the inside as she walked over to the bigger and darker room without any windows that served like a storage area. The moment she lit up the torch and saw how much was missing, panic caught up with her. Looking around, she searched for the Tome, only to see that it was gone along with many other valuables. The redhead growled as she punched a shelf, bottles and books crashing on the floor, she closed her eyes to calm herself down. She came to Kirkwall to do the right thing and find those who need help and give them hope, because Serpents could do it. If she could prevent the Qunari from doing something disastrous, Frances would damn well do it. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse. Bennett might even try to blackmail her or make it seem as if she stole the Tome from the Qunari... This is very very bad…
And Tavros had warned her earlier. "Boss... If you're gonna give the Qunari back what belongs to them... I don't suggest telling them truth. The fact that it was in our possession this whole time would make us just as bad as the ones who had taken it from them." and she heeded his warning. Frances would seek to speak with the Arishok again... And try to make things right.