In the Enemy Camp.

With a shake of his head, Daniel confirmed that his Joining had not involved the tradition of hunting his own darkspawn. “No, I have not seen darkspawn before.” It was not unsurprising given the years since the Blight, and in the Free Marches besides. “And I would appreciate that. When do we leave?”

“As soon as we have provisions.” The access into the Deep beneath the Keep was useful for such excursions. And even though Henri-Julien was reluctant to depart, it would only be for two or three days. Tongues would soon wag if he and Velanna were noted to be almost constant companions. Descending into the Deep with Daniel would serve two purposes: fulfilling his duties as mentor as well as deflecting idle gossip.

After catching a passing Warden and issuing instructions to fetch the necessary food and water rations, Henri-Julien led Daniel towards the armoury. He wished his blades to be sharpened and Daniel could see to whatever he required.

Daniel slid him a sidelong look. “Do you like being here, Ser Barrows? I got the impression that you don’t think much of some of the people here.” He lifted an eyebrow, inviting comment. “Ser Howard, for example.”

“I am here because it is prudent to be,” Henri-Julien replied tersely. His original interest had lain in uncovering the truth to the rumours surrounding Soldier’s Peak, but he had been forced to temporarily set aside that matter when the Warden-Commander did not share his concerns. The Commander had not outright forbidden Henri-Julien to travel there, but even his zealot perspective had been checked by the dwarf’s flat refusal to discuss the matter further. “You know first-hand that Templars do not go where they like to be but rather where they are needed.”

As for Alessandra... That was not something that Henri-Julien was going to discuss. “She thinks that she might have been a Templar,” he offered in explanation. “As if it was something which could be done on a mere whim. She does not seem to understand that to become a Templar is a calling, not a preference.” What he said was true – it did needle him – but it also obscured the truth of what had occurred in Kinloch Hold.

On reaching the armoury, each man equipped themselves to their respective liking. Then it was only a matter of collecting the supplies before descending down beneath the Keep. While Henri-Julien could not send a message directly to Velanna, he did send one to the Warden-Commander and to Theirin, informing them of his temporary absence. He anticipated that Theirin would be so surprised by Henri-Julien remembering his existence that he would make some remark which would eventually find its way back to Velanna.

Wonders would never cease: the huge stone doors were repaired. They opened with a low rumbling sound and closed just as smoothly. Only the glow of the Deep Mushrooms lit the way.

"It will take some time to descend into what we might call the Deep but the dwarves would still regard as the surface,” Henri-Julien informed his companion. Memories of the horrific Harvester flashed through his mind but they should not reach that depth. “Nevertheless, it can be a trying experience. Do not feel you must obscure your unease.”
Daniel nodded at Henri's words. Like he would ever have gone through all that in Kirkwall on a whim, he was where he needed to be because this is what was asked of him. Still he would have preferred to have been patrolling the Gallows to this. 


She thinks that she might have been a Templar,” Henri briefly explained about Ser Howard “As if it was something which could be done on a mere whim. She does not seem to understand that to become a Templar is a calling, not a preference.

"Hmm." Daniel looked around him "Its not always a calling, its something else and having spent some time with the Warden on the way from Kirkwall to here i think had she taken that path she would have made a fine Templar. Although i do agree it cannot be done on a whim doesnt mean she cannot be allowed to have regrets. I am sure there are things you have done on a whim as have we all. Templars shouldn't lower themselves to judge others regrets not our place" it wasn't that he disagreed entirely but he had to offset his negativity he had displayed earlier. So being charitable was allowed for now. He would just have to remember this side of the mask when he was dealing with the mages here. Maker help him.

They stopped at the armoury. Taking a quiver of arrows he put them over his shoulders and asking for a new bow string he replaced the old string on his longbow. the flamed sword motif etched in the front. He also gave his dagger over for sharpening. It wouldn't need much as he usually kept his weapons in top condition but, a tune up might not be a bad thing.  When that was done they made thier way through the keep to the doors that would lend lead them into the deep roads.

"It will take some time to descend into what we might call the Deep but the dwarves would still regard as the surface,” Henri-Julien explained “Nevertheless, it can be a trying experience. Do not feel you must obscure your unease.

How the Dwarves even  Carved a once famed and world spanning empire out of being underground was beyond his knowledge but Daniel had to admire thier tenacity even if he didn't admire thier beliefs. 

"The recruiter gave us some classification on the Darkspawn we should encounter whilst we were recovering from our joining." The man was not an absolute idiot "In case we came here via the Deep Roads." Daniel fell into old habits, his eyes moving left and right "Human spawn are called Hurlocks. Elven spawn are Shrieks, Dwarf spawn are Genlocks and Ogres he said appear to be...Qunari." He said the last word with a hint of disgust. No amount of Secret Squirreling was going to hide his disgust at those horned heathens. "He said we would learn more in time.

To be fair one of his companions had asked thier guide about it and all she had said was "Pray to the Maker you never see it." so that had left a wide avenue of interpretation to be made. especially when she had added "There are far worse things in the Deep Roads" and left it at that. 

If nothing else the company was, appreciated, but despite his own staunch character he could not have stopped the unease that flowed through him, being down here was enough to cause any human unease. Dwarfs were made for this not humans. He stilled his nerves and glanced at his companion "Were you here when the Blight took hold?" He returned his gaze to the road ahead and flinched a little at the sound of the deep. 

Lava threading its way through the stone no doubt somewhere deep below them, still there was something definatly unearthly about that sound. Stone echoing upon stone, as if a stone giant was waking. He put such childish thoughts out of his mind, still the unease was there. "Many Fereldens came to the Marches. Most of the Cities had closed thier doors before it became a problem in Kirkwall." He rubbed his cheek a little "My mother informed me that Starkhaven was fit to bursting when the Prince ordered the doors closed." His eyes narrowed a little "of course the problems for my home city started when the Circle was burnt to the ground and the Prince was assassinated." Daniel had been more incensed at the burning of the circle more than the assassination of the Prince. Nobility was fluid in the Marches, the circle was something far more important. 
Had Henri-Julien needed any further reason to be mindful of himself around this newly-arrived Templar, the proof lay in the man's beliefs over what was - or was not- required from a Templar. That Daniel believed Lessa would have been fit for a the life of Templar was his opinion, but Henri-Julien maintained otherwise. Yet it was the sheer gall to condescend to Henri-Julien over what a Templar should and should not do which rankled the most.

Nevertheless, they continued to the armoury and then into the Deep. After Henri-Julien offered an acknowledgement of the strange sensations which often afflicted those not accustomed to the Deep, Daniel shared a little of his knowledge gained from the Marcher Wardens.

"The recruiter gave us some classification on the Darkspawn we should encounter whilst we were recovering from our joining. In case we came here via the Deep Roads." He scanned their surroundings with a steady eye. "Human spawn are called Hurlocks. Elven spawn are Shrieks, Dwarf spawn are Genlocks and Ogres he said appear to be...Qunari." Disgust tinged the last word. "He said we would learn more in time."

"It is true. Much of what you will learn as a Grey Warden will only come as you require it." It was a frustration to Henri-Julien that the knowledge of the Grey Wardens was not archived in the same manner as that of the Templars. Lessons had to be relearned with every generation of Grey Warden, it seemed. It was infuriating. "And occasionally after when you require it." He added, grim-faced. Harvesters, for example.

That seemed to pique Daniel's attention. "Were you here when the Blight took hold?" Something ahead caught his eye but it was the scuttling sound which caused him to wince. Many noises were heard down here which never made it to the surface.

"No, I was Joined in the Frostback Mountains. It was a painful and long recovery." He did not share the specifics of why. "By the time I was fully healed, no Grey Warden was permitted entry into Ferelden. I travelled Orlais, continuing my duties as a Knight-Tracker. I have never considered the Order of the Grey to be my primary obligation."

The small twitches of Daniel's body revealed his continuing unease with his surroundings. "Many Fereldens came to the Marches. Most of the Cities had closed thier doors before it became a problem in Kirkwall." He scrubbed at his cheek. "My mother informed me that Starkhaven was fit to bursting when the Prince ordered the doors closed." Anger threaded through his expression. "Of course the problems for my home city started when the Circle was burnt to the ground and the Prince was assassinated."

Henri-Julien shook his head. "I know of that only from travellers," he admitted. The politics of Starkhaven itself had not interested him, but the likelihood of fleeing Circle mages had focused his attention. Yet his location at the time had meant it would be unlikely that he should encounter any of the escapees.

At the base of his skull, Henri-Julien felt the tell-tale scratching of the taint. He recognised the intensity as indicating only one tainted creature - a Genlock, he would wager. He glanced towards Daniel, anticipating that the other man would not be able to decipher the sensations just yet. A fitting example of the Wardens' beloved 'learning as required' approach.

"Do you sense the taint?" He tapped the back of his head. "I feel it here but others experience it differently. I find that it is not dissimilar to how we experience a flare of mana or the tampering of the Veil." Their lyrium abilities did have some parallels to the effects of the taint. "With more instance of exposure, you will gain the knowledge to differentiate between the sensations and to anticipate numbers."

With a practised fluid movement, Henri-Julien unsheathed his daggers. "I will ensure that the creature does not succeed in a frontal assault." He would play the role of warrior on this occasion. "But you are to take the lead otherwise. Hunt it down and, if possible, slay it." While Daniel was equipped with his dagger, it would be preferable for him to use his talents as an archer first and foremost. "Be aware that just as the taint guides you to it, the reverse is true. This creature is not prey, but another predator."
"It is true. Much of what you will learn as a Grey Warden will only come as you require it." And almost as an afterthought "And occasionally after when you require it."  Daniel did not miss the grim expression that crossed the other Wardens expression. 

"I, see." Was all he replied on it. 

He was told that a wardens reasons for joining or being joined was entirely thier affair, however, as gratifying as that was to him, he was still curious as to how Henri was joined. He was obviously not special enough to be chosen for the sort of mission he was on. If he were then they would have made it known to the young Templar. Daniel however, got his answer, which by its very definition was not an answer. 

"No, I was Joined in the Frostback Mountains. It was a painful and long recovery." Daniel could attest to that, whatever that liquid was they drunk burned worse than his first draught of Lyrium "By the time I was fully healed, no Grey Warden was permitted entry into Ferelden. I travelled Orlais, continuing my duties as a Knight-Tracker. I have never considered the Order of the Grey to be my primary obligation."

"And yet. you are still here." Daniel replied He was aware that the Wardens, by thier very nature transient some spending years in the deep roads, others moving from place to place doing whatever they needed to do "So obviously at some point it did become just that." 

When Daniel told him about Starkhaven the other Templar did not even seem to be that concerned about it. "I know of that only from travellers,"  Henri told him shaking his head a little  he was not surprised given Henri's occupation. Knight-Trackers tended to work alone or in very small groups and even he had to acknowledge that given what they hunted most of the time, it was a worthy branch of the Order. 

They carried on walking and the more they walked the more grim faced Daniel became. It wasn't just the whole idea that his chosen vocation was over, it was the realisation that, like so many other wardens, he would end up down here. Once this mission was over he might just take the long walk. He would be unable to serve the Order no matter the outcome of this. Things would never be the same for him.

"Do you sense the taint?" Henri suddenly asked and tapped the back of his head. "I feel it here but others experience it differently. I find that it is not dissimilar to how we experience a flare of mana or the tampering of the Veil. With more instance of exposure, you will gain the knowledge to differentiate between the sensations and to anticipate numbers."

Daniel shook his head "The recruiter said it might be a few days before we start to sense it, as of yet no." The recruiter also told them that when it first manifested it would be like a noise you couldn't shut off, then it would calm down. The bastich had added that if they heard the song start to drown out thier thoughts then they were to leave for Orzamarr and fight the spawn, that was your checking out card, such a lovely way of putting things. 

"I will ensure that the creature does not succeed in a frontal assault." Daniel watched as the other Rogue flourished his daggers "But you are to take the lead otherwise. Hunt it down and, if possible, slay it." he heard the warning in Henri's voice. "Be aware that just as the taint guides you to it, the reverse is true. This creature is not prey, but another predator."

"So as much as we sense them they will sense us, wonderful." He murmured, took a deep breath and knocked an arrow. 

When the Genlock indeed showed itself a little way along the path it was truly one of the most monstrous things Daniel had ever seen. he could just about make out dwarfish features but even that did nothing to comfort him. the sound that came from its mouth was like something crossed between the shriek of the damned and some cursed forest creature. It took a moment for Daniel to regain his bearings and his courage, besides he was not letting Henri get one over on him. He had already made his mind up that the other Templar was probably not to be trusted with Daniels whole reason for being here. 

"Andraste, blessed bride," He loosened off one arrow "Guide my aim, shield my soul," He let a second off, the first two landed just short of the creature but that was deliberate. He had no visual marker here. outdoors he could use the tree tops as markers, the third arrow flew through the beasts leg knocking it back and off it's feet making Henri's job easier. The Genlock hopped about and decided this was not an even fight but Daniel closed his eyes a moment. then took aim and let a fourth arrow fly going right through the beasts shoulder putting it down to the floor. 

Daniel was about to fire another arrow when his head seemingly exploded. it was like a migraine that started at the back of his head and swarmed through his brain. The buzzing was too loud and off putting. the only way Daniel would describe it if asked was like a thousand voices whispering into his brain at once and it caused his breathing for the briefest of moments to become erratic making him crouch to the floor as if he were going to vomit. The urge to throw up was that bad that he didn't throw his dagger. 

Now he understood why the wardens were needed, he didnt like it. but he understood it. 





Gripping his bow and nocking an arrow, Daniel muttered beneath his breath, "So as much as we sense them they will sense us, wonderful."

The thought did cross Henri-Julien's mind that perhaps this was how apostates felt when actively using their mana: creating a beacon for their opponents to follow. But he would not voice such musings in current company. Or in any company, really. He was still adjusting to the alteration in his thinking.

Once the Genlock appeared, Daniel seemed taken aback for a moment. Henri-Julien moved away from the other man, intent on drawing the focus of the creature if Daniel's nerve failed him. However, he soon heard Daniel murmur a blessing before launching his arrows. Two arrows to judge distance and angle; two more to unbalance and fell the Genlock. It was badly wounded but not yet defeated, shrieking and thrashing around.

Henri-Julien hung back, expecting a fifth and final arrow, but it never came. A quick glance over his shoulder revealed Daniel crouched down, oblivious to anything around him. His breathing was ragged and, if Henri-Julien were to guess, very close to vomiting. The taint had hit.

With a practised hand, Henri-Julien darted in and killed the Genlock, slicing its throat. The putrid stench of its corrupted blood filled the air, but it could not harm either Warden. Reaching into his pack, Henri-Julien withdrew a small vial of bright green liquid, pouring it over the body. The acid ensured that the no creature would try to eat the contaminated flesh, and a routine patrol of Wardens would eventually ensure that any remains were purified with fire.

Returning to his companion, Henri-Julien offered his waterskin. He bore no judgement towards the other man, but it was not in his nature to mollycoddle either. "That was the most basic of darkspawn," he informed his companion. "Predator, but with no guile. All the ones you mentioned are similar in nature to this. But," he drew a breath between his teeth, "others are far more devious. I am not convinced any 'spawn has real sentience, but there are those who possess such malevolent cunning that it will give you pause."

He held out his hand if Daniel should wish assistance to stand. "You shoot well; your skills will be most welcome in any patrol."
It took a few moments for Daniel to get his bearings but eventually that damnable noise slowed to something more of a whisper and then a buzz, the headache was going to last the rest of the day. 

"That was the most basic of darkspawn," Burrows explained offering him a skin of water which, gratefully he took and took a long swallow of it before wiping the top and recorking it and handing it back. "Predator, but with no guile. All the ones you mentioned are similar in nature to this. But," he drew a breath between his teeth, "others are far more devious. I am not convinced any 'spawn has real sentience, but there are those who possess such malevolent cunning that it will give you pause."

Daniel glanced up at Henri then over to the now dead and melting Genlock. He was not sure he agreed with Burrows on that, to follow and do the things they did during the blight, there had to be some sentience, not much he agreed but some. Still that was a discussion for another time, not here and not now. 

Daniel saw the hand offered to help him stand. He hesitated for a moment then, taking it was pulled to his feet in a strong grip.  "You shoot well; your skills will be most welcome in any patrol." Burrows complimented. 

"I am a Templar." Daniel retorted as if that needed all the explanation in the world. His companion should know that. It was not bragging or boasting, just a simple fact. Templars were the best trained army in the world. Regardless if they hunted mages, if war came to Thedas and they were called upon, they were the elite of the elite. 

Daniel retrieved his marker arrows, he set them at the back of the quiver they would need to be looked at and, if possible repaired, if not then he could use the head at least and make new ones. he glanced down at the body then frowned a little and whirling round arrow knocked and ready he let fly, the arrow flew straight and true and sent the Genlock off its feet and to its unholy hell He glanced at Henri. 

"Shall we go back or is there more you wish to show me?"  

Daniel stared down at the body, he knew the story, everyone knew the story of how the Darkspawn came to be, about what had brought the blight to this Maker created world. 

"Mages have a lot to answer for." He muttered through clenched teeth then he added as an afterthought "So, where now?

Mages dared defy the rules of the fade, they had walked upon that which they were not meant to walk upon and turned the Golden City forever black, so said the Maker and so said the Divine.  In thier arrogance the maker had cursed them to for thier hubris at entering his domain and thus condemned all mankind to these beasts, Just another reason why no mage should be allowed to practise thier craft without supervision or protection from those that tempted them. Just another reason why the Wardens invited chaos into thier "noble" ranks.
"I am a Templar." The words were shot with the same deadly accuracy as the arrows, though twice as sharp.

His temper sparked over being spoken to in such a manner. Be it as a Templar or as a Grey Warden, Henri-Julien held greater authority than this man. Yet just as he was about to retort, that wry humour which Velanna was helping to unearth stayed his tongue. After all, had he not also responded to such observations in much the same way? What surprised Henri-Julien more was that he had not anticipated Daniel's reaction. Instead, he had offered the words as an objective observation only, with no intention to flatter. If any other proof was needed that his outlook was, in fact changing... here it was.

"You are," was Henri-Julien's remarkedly mild response. 

With nothing further to say, Daniel retrieved his arrows. Henri-Julien cleaned the gore from his blades, the scratching at the base of his skull warning him of a Genlock creeping closer. He made no movements, wishing to see how Daniel might react to being surprised. Even Templars could be taken unawares.

Abruptly, Daniel swung around, his skilled hands having already nocked an arrow to his bow. He brought down the second Genlock in a blast of fire, the powder which coated the arrow heads burning the skin of the creature. The force of the shot knocked it from its feet, sending it tumbling down a narrow crevice and beyond harming them.

Daniel glanced towards Henri-Julien. "Shall we go back or is there more you wish to show me?"

Again, Henri-Julien wondered at the arrogance of this man to address him so. Twinned with each Templar's pious devotion was a deeply ingrained respect for ranked authority, or at least that was Henri-Julien's experience. Not to say that he had not himself tried the patience of his superiors on countless occasions, but there had always been a very clear line which was not to be overstepped. For example, had Henri-Julien survived that apostate's fire attack in the Frostbacks without being Joined, he would have expected to be harshly disciplined for his disregard for protocols.

But apparently Free Marches Templars held a different view.

"This excursion is for your benefit, Ser Hunter." Once more, his tone was calm. Tranquil, even. "If you believe there is nothing more to be gained from what I wish to show you," there was a sliver of sharpness as he echoed Daniel's words but it dulled into evenness almost at once, "we will return to Vigil's Keep."

Rather than answer directly, Daniel eyed the dissolving body of the first Genlock. "Mages have a lot to answer for," he muttered, his anger visible in the set of his jaw and tension in his posture. "So, where now?"

"That is for you to decide." Sheathing his blades, Henri-Julien indicated the tunnel which continued on a steady downward slope ahead of them, eventually winding down into the Deep proper. There was no access to Orzammar from the Vigil, but that did not impede the explorations of the Dark Spawn - as the presence of the Harvester had proven. "We continue or," he nodded in the direction they had travelled from the Vigil, a bare scratch on the surface of what a Grey Warden might experience "or we return. What will serve your purpose best?"
"This excursion is for your benefit, Ser Hunter. If you believe there is nothing more to be gained from what I wish to show you," Daniel heard the slight sharpness which vanished as soon as it appeared. "we will return to Vigil's Keep."


Daniel looked around him and back towards where the keep was and then down towards the ever yawning chasm that was the deep. He watched the line of the road as Henri answered his question, it amazed him that the dwarfs considered this part the surface when clearly they were underground. 


"That is for you to decide." Daniel turned his head slightly and watched Henri sheath his blades and gestured towards the tunnel  "We continue or," he nodded in the direction they had travelled from the Vigil,  "or we return. What will serve your purpose best?"

what would serve his purpose best? Daniel looked at his hands they had stopped trembling now, taking that Genlock down had calmed him from the assault on his brain when the taint had come in full force to its awakening. The headache was there but he would deal with it. inhaling then exhaling through his nose Daniel pointed "Onward then." he swept his arm in front of him. "After you." 

Daniel supposed he was being detrimental to Henri's rank but then as far as he was concerned dog lord templars had failed in thier duty. When news had reached the Gallows about what had happened here he had been surprised to learn that it was an outsider who had done what should have been a Templars sacred duty to perform. Of course when news reached the office of the Knight Commander about the rampages of blood mages through the Ferelden Circle. She had clamped down hard on the mages activities. That was all before his time in the Gallows, just before he arrived there in fact but he had been told about it. 

He, perhaps wisely kept his thoughts to himself on the matter. Wouldn't do to alienate the one Templar that knew the layout and the comings and goings of the Keep. Daniel looked at his bow and the symbol the Boyer had delicately etched into the wood. He ran his fingers over it and then placed his bow on the holder on the back of his armour. 

The tunnel stretched downwards and more than once he stopped as he heard the sound of skittering in the walls then watched in barely concealed horror at the deepstalker or two that dared back down the cave entrances "What in the name of all thats holy was that!" he didn't want to get too close to it but it looked like something crossed between an upright lizard and a worm. When one did get close he kicked it, watching as it arced through the air a little and landed a short way away, got to its feet and then scurried off making whatever that noise was it was making. Daniel took in the remnants of the roads as they came onto them. They were indeed a testament to the dwarfs engineering skills and Stonecroft. 

Daniel stopped as a patrol of wardens came before them, carrying the bodies of two of thier own. The lead Warden, stopped and greeted them. "Be careful when you go deeper. We walked smack bang into a thaig crawler and spawn fight. Emil and Sascha have returned to the Maker now. Take care Senior Warden Barrows." She turned to look at Daniel and nodded "Good to see a new recruit getting the lay of the land. Maker guide you brothers."

Daniel wanted to say he was no brother of hers but stilled his tongue instead he replied "Sorry for you loss, sister." 

"Its what we do" She replied pragmatically "They were not far from the calling but i won't suffer thier bodies to remain in the deep when they can be interned into the Keeps crypt."

"Warden Helena..." one of her wardens motioned and nodding she bid them both safe journey and continued on her way, wrapping one arm around an elven warden and taking the slow walk back to the keep. Daniel saw the injuries they all held. 

"Spiders and spawn fight a lot do they?" He asked as the two men continued on thier way and as way of a changed of subject added "Who else should i glimmer insight about warden life from? More than one perspective is better than a solo one no?
Glancing down at his hands, Daniel seemed to take stock of his circumstances. With a sharp inhale then exhale, he pointed towards the downward slope of the tunnel, heading into the Deep proper. "Onward then," he gestured that Henri-Julien should take the lead. "After you."

How magnanimous. This young Templar was pushing the boundaries of expected propriety between two differently-ranked Templars, but Henri-Julien bit down on the urge to castigate the repeated displays of insolence. Perhaps it was a trait of all Marcher Templars, or perhaps it was unique to Daniel, or perhaps it was a combination of both and some unknown quality to boot. An instinctual warning, one which he could not explain but which he had so often trusted in pursuit of apostates, now whispered through his thoughts. It urged him to be cautious around this one, in a way that he had never felt the need to be around the likes of Theirin and Alessandra.

They continued on, moving ever downwards. Lesser tunnels broke off from the main path, the routes disappearing into murky darkness. At once point, a pair of Deepstalkers were startled from their hunting by the thud of the two Wardens' feet, their appearance prompting a cry of disgust from Daniel. 

"What in the name of all thats holy was that!"

He was soon to find out. Given that they were vicious, one thought to try its luck with Daniel, but received a sharp boot in the face for its pains. It landed on the ground with a heavy thud but scrambled up, hissing and screeching its anger before scuttling back into the dark recesses of a fissure in the rock.

"Deepstalker," Henri-Julien provided the name. "Watch for them when you are battling larger opponents. They are opportunists and will often swarm you."

Not long after, the pair encountered a small patrol of Wardens. Upon seeing the burden which they carried, Henri-Julien sucked in a disapproving breath, shaking his head as he made a mental note to speak with Orric about protocols for those lost in battle. None who died in the Deep should be returned to the surface, but instead permitted the honour of lying where they fell in the line of duty. Sentimentality was as poisonous as the taint, it seemed. 

Daniel also seemed unimpressed by the passing group, though he answered respectfully enough. "Sorry for you loss, sister."

Yet while the other Grey Warden answered with a rational remark, it still did not excuse the poor decision of bringing the fallen topside. Especially when all were injured in some way. What a waste of stamina and energy which would hamper any defence in an unexpected attack. No, he would definitely have to speak with Orric to re-educate those who allowed their hearts to rule their heads.

Once the two groups went their separate ways, Daniel spoke up again. "Spiders and spawn fight a lot do they?"

"We are in their domain, plus there is limited opportunity for fresh meat.

But Daniel was keen to pursue other details. "Who else should i glimmer insight about warden life from? More than one perspective is better than a solo one no?"

Obscured by the gloom, Henri-Julien arched a brow but ignored the temptation to cast a sidelong glance towards his companion. "I would not wish to impinge on your perspective by suggesting any specific individual." The evenness of his tone a hint of danger for anyone else, but it was unlikely that Daniel would pick up on it after only half a day in one another's company. "If you seek true insight, you will find it through your own endeavours." What the young Templar might realise, however, was the underlying meaning of Henri-Julien's words: you will not defy my superior rank and experience while also expecting to benefit from it.

Suddenly, a different tingling set Henri-Julien's blood on fire. He stopped, sweeping his gaze around the many tunnels, crevices and fissures which lined the Deep - still not by dwarf standards, but definitely by humans. "Were you told of the darkspawn who can cast magic?" The creature was still some distance below their current position, but it was summoning powerful spells which was why Henri-Julien's - and presumably Daniel's - lyrium-infused abilities could sense it, even ahead of the taint. "Whatever your worst experience of abominations, Ser Hunter, ready yourself for something beyond that."

They would need to be light-footed to maintain the advantage; whatever the creature was doing, it required enough drawing of mana to absorb its full concentration, giving the two Wardens an upper hand. It was unlikely to realise the warning sound of the taint before the pair were upon it. Even so, this had to be done carefully. Even two Templars did not guarantee success over the likes of magic-wielding 'spawn.
"I would not wish to impinge on your perspective by suggesting any specific individual."Hidden by the gloominess of the deep Daniels smirk was hidden "If you seek true insight, you will find it through your own endeavours.

"Seems i have hit a nerve Senior Warden Barrows" Daniel never was one for not speaking as he found. As far as he was concerned he was the only Templar here now, and he made that point by emphasising his former Templar Brother's rank. "I will endeavour to do what i must if it is the makers will and the Bride herself." and with that he said no more on it. 

The Deep Roads were. well named he could imagine how the road itself must have looked back in the Dwarfs golden days now rack and ruin from the first blight if his history lesson was anything to go by. The Dwarfs had paid the price for thier wars and whatever he thought of thier veneration of the stone, he respected the fact that when the accursed Dumat rose it destroyed everything the Dwarfs had built. He assumed the tunnels that led off the roads were the culmination of those darkspawn settling in or Dwarfs collapsing more roads back in the day to protect Orzamarr, he didn't know much more on that didnt care to really. 

Daniel didnt know how long they were walking for when his blood reacted to mana somewhere, Like Henri he swept the myriad of tunnels that lay before them. unable to see the mage nevertheless, his fire blood told him it was there. somewhere. 

"Were you told of the darkspawn who can cast magic? Whatever your worst experience of abominations, Ser Hunter, ready yourself for something beyond that."

Daniel nodded but once "Ser Howard was kind enough to warn us of them on the way to Ferelden." Which he was grateful for, else he might not have known what to expect. Alessandra really hadn't said much to any of them but she did warn them of the darkspawn types and she did say about magic users "She said Hurlocks and Genlocks mostly" Daniel, however got the feeling she was leaving some blaring omission's out and once again her comment about there being worse things than Darkspawn in the deep roads came to mind. "She did say there were worse things that Darkspawn in the Deep Roads, i don't see how there could be but maybe thats her perspective.

Daniel fell in with Henri, to be honest it was a natural reaction no matter his personal feelings on the fallen from grace Templar. Why did he think that? he didn't know but something told him to be very careful and wary around this man. Another reason for not trusting him and he was pretty sure his blunt talking had done him no favours either. He would not let Henri cowed him but, he would not trust him either. He was a Senior Warden, although how he reached that accolade for one who looked young was beyond him, maybe because the Order was small here? who knew. Henri was a Senior Warden and that was how he would be treated. Soon enough his own Templar standing would mean nothing and that hurt. 

Daniel looked for high ground, something he could use to his advantage, unfortunately there was no high such thing down here, all of it was shorn away, shaking his head and alongside his "brother" he moved quietly, not sure how the Lyrium and the taint would work in tandem with each other and how long they had before they too were noticed. After a short while he looked up to see a ledge, one that stretched out along the path they were taking. With but a look at Henri he climbed up and readied his bow. not sure if they would even see thier ... Makers breath! he could not only feel the pull of mana but his taint was starting to buzz, he stopped and waited for Henri, from his broken vantage point he could see what it was and Barrows had not been wrong. not at all had he been wrong. It took a lot to swallow his revulsion and the urge to charge in there head on. 

With a nod, Daniel finally heard something beyond the echoing boom of his own ego. "Ser Howard was kind enough to warn us of them on the way to Ferelden." Oh yes, the woman whom this mere pup had deemed would make a fine Templar. "She said Hurlocks and Genlocks mostly. She did say there were worse things that Darkspawn in the Deep Roads, i don't see how there could be but maybe thats her perspective." Clearly it was hardly worth Henri-Julien's time being here when Ser Hunter had already had the benefit of so knowledgeable a Warden as Alessandra. Really, the man was doing Henri-Julien a favour by allowing him this opportunity.

So perhaps Henri-Julien was just a smidgen... pissed off.

Without commenting on what Daniel had shared, Henri-Julien set off in the direction which the flare of his lyrium indicated, only fractionally mollified when Daniel fell into step alongside him. It wasn't as though Henri-Julien was an experienced Knight-Tracker who had been specifically trained to hunt down and eliminate apostates single-handedly. Unlike some who relied on thick walls and a regiment of support. It was almost enough for Henri-Julien to wish for the company of other non-Templar. At least that one verged on being a competent Grey Warden.

Drawing closer, Daniel's head swivelled this way and that, searching for higher ground. Despite his desire to berate the man further, Henri-Julien could not fault him for falling into well-trained habits, identifying the position which would best benefit his bow. After a short time, with a fleeting sidelong glance towards Henri-Julien, Daniel clambered up to a narrow ledge, readying his bow.

That left Henri-Julien to face the creature with his blades. Idly, he wondered if anyone in Vigil's Keep realised that his skills lay in stealth, not a frontal assault. He seemed to be used more as bait than anything else these days.

Shaking the thought from his head, Henri-Julien crept forward, keeping to the shadows as his actual training had taught him to do. Ahead, there was what he was certain the vastly experienced Alessandra would identify as a Genlock conjurer. A particularly powerful version of a Genlock emissary but which specialised in summoning Shades. It was also gifted with teleportation and invisibility. And, given that Genlock magic was often presumed to be a variant of blood magic, it was a very dangerous foe indeed. No wonder their lyrium sang as loudly in their veins as the taint itself.

But it was puzzling why so powerful a creature would be here. There was no strategic benefit to this location. Unless... Focusing his abilities, Henri-Julien grabbled with the metaphysics of his surroundings, searching beyond the taint and the magic to sense the stretched thinness of the Veil. It must hope to create some kind of breach by pulling countless Shades through. 

Just as Henri-Julien worked the motive out, a dozen said Shades materialised around the Genlock. He moved to the edge of the space before signalling that Daniel should target the Shades first. It would weaken the Genlock's power to rip them out of its control. Then, with a speed only improved by the taint, Henri-Julien struck, his blades a whirlwind as he first cut through one Shade and then a second in rapid succession.
The silence alone between the two Templars was telling. Daniel found no desire to engage the man further and. so it appeared, neither did Henri. Daniel watched as Henri, somewhat miffed by the swift expression on his face, made his way into the shadows. What did the oaf expect? he was an archer he needed higher ground to do what was necessary there was no guarantee that Daniel would stay on higher ground but for now it served a purpose. 

He resolved to ignore the other warden for now. They had a job to do but he would certainly let the Knight Commander or whomever his report went to, that there was another Templar here, and not the one they thought either.  He stared in horror as the small dwarf like creature started pulling shades from nowhere. Slotting an arrow he stood up and took aim, he didn't need to set a range there were more than he knew what to do with. 

"Blessed are they who stand before, The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter, Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just." He intoned the canticles of Benediction. Feeling the power of his faith wash through him as he fired his arrows in rapid succession. Drawing on his lyrium he let forth a cleansing aura, but, either the stone around him, or the damned Darkspawn's magic it did not go as he would have wished, one shade vanished but the genlock or whatever that foul beast was deflected it and Daniel found himself tossed from his ledge and onto the ground with a thump. Just as the Templar got to his feet the conjurer appeared before him and threw him back with his own magic. 

Incensed and, perhaps a little shamed Daniel got to his feet and threw his dagger catching the Genlock in the shoulder and making it vanish and giving him time to recover and focus on the shades, just as Barrows suggested. wiping his bow hand across his mouth he saw his own blood. With a snarl he let his arrows fly. 
Now Henri-Julien was hardly going to berate someone for reciting the Chant of Light. His faith in the Maker and His Bride had not been shaken; it was only the rationale of the Chantry which he had begun to question.

However.

He had to wonder at Daniel's insistence on uttering aloud a prayer with every damned arrow he shot. Given that a lone archer benefited as much from the element of surprise as from a superior vantage point, it seemed to Henri-Julien to be counter-intuitive. But then again, Daniel was a Templar. One who did not require any input from mere Senior Warden Barrows.

Not that Henri-Julien was in a position to offer tailored advice right now. The speed of his initial attack had gained him an advantage but it was soon nullified by the greater number of shades. Then, he felt a surge of lyrium, but it was too late to shout out a warning not to waste reserves. Instead, Daniel brought the conjurer's attention squarely upon himself, being yanked from his ledge with unceremonious thump against the roughly hewn stone. Henri-Julien winced.

Staggering up onto his feet, Daniel soon had more to contend with than bruises. The conjurer appeared in front of him before using its magic to throw him back to the ground. Henri-Julien, however, had his own problems: namely, Shades. At least with the conjurer distracted by Daniel, he was not being overwhelmed, but it was still a considerable effort to evade their unnatural talons, threatening to strike unholy corruption with each swipe. 

An arrow whistling past his ear revealed that Daniel had re-established a position, focusing once more on the Shades. Almost as though someone - one with direct experience of both darkspawn and magic - had instructed him to do exactly that. Maybe Alessandra had telepathic abilities.

Slowly but surely, they were eliminating the Shades. The conjurer, torn between sustaining the Shades it had summoned and defending itself, was slower to draw more through the Veil. But that did not mean that the tortured stretching would withstand much more. Accepting his fate as 'bait', Henri-Julien wove between two Shades, drawing the focus of the conjurer. His intent was to tempt the creature towards him, exposing its back to Daniel. Once the other man delivered a few arrows to its back, they would be able to combine their cleansing ability to completely disconnect it from the Fade.

After that, slaying it would be easy.
Now part of Daniel would have been happy to see Barrows try his own way out of this, however that would have gone against everything he was and just because he didn't like the other Warden, didn't mean he had to be churlish about it. Letting loose his arrows he managed to clear a path for the other rogue, there was definatly a satisfaction to the sound of arrows cutting through the air and despatching such foul creatures who had no place in this realm. 

As Henri darted through the dwindling shades like a reed in the wind Daniel cut down two more and changed his arrows. Kissing the heads slighting as he knocked one. Only arrows of Andraste herself would do now. Said to be designed and blessed by the holy bride herself he and other Templar archers used them when facing the worse apostates the Marches had to offer.  Not because they were said to be blessed by Andraste, but by the fact they caused spellcasters a lot of problems. 

Daniel fired one normal arrow to get his mark, then he let an arrow of Andraste fly into the back of the foul things knee, the second hit its shoulder and already the power of the bride flowed through it. The beast was panicking now, not only did it have to contend with a dancing dagger wielding rogue but there was another who was using it as target practise and its magic was starting to wane. 

A Third Arrow hit its shoulder and now it was panicked, so much so that the shades it had been drawing on were now not fully materialising one more Arrow hit it in the back of the neck, disrupting its spellcasting enough so Henri could end it while he dealt with the other things. He changed his arrows once more this time to ice and carried on clearing the area around the Conjurer.  A nod to Henri to tell him he was ready when he was and the two of them could cleanse that area and Henri could delievery the killing blow if he so wished. 
While Daniel delivered arrow after arrow into the conjurer, the creature's grip on its magic wavered and weakened. The Shades began to loose cohesion, tearing apart without their master to replenish them, while Henri-Julien dealt precise blows to the others. Soon, all that was left was the conjurer, and it was in a sorry state after Daniel had delivered his flurry of attacks.

Breathing hard from the exertion of being in the thick of the action, Henri-Julien cast  a glance over his shoulder, catching the nod from Daniel which signalled he was ready to begin his cleanse. Together, they each summoned their lyrium ability, gradually widening out their individual cleanse until it merged into a doubly powerful sweep. The conjurer let loose a scream which echoed through the Void itself before collapsing in a heap just in front of Henri-Julien.

Striding forward, Henri-Julien sank his daggers into the tainted flesh of the creature, ending its life. Perhaps some might say he did it for the glory, but the reality was that, as a Templar, he knew better than to allow a dangerous apostate even a moment to regain their wits. Even more so when it was a darkspawn. No, he took the killing blow because it was imperative that it was done without delay.

It was only when the area was secured that Henri-Julien had the wherewithal to assess his own condition. It was with a wince that he noticed the damage against his armour from the well-placed swipe of a Shade. Deep gouges scarred the brown leather beneath his arm and around his ribs, but it was the well of dark blood between the pieces which revealed the tips of its talons can found flesh. As he twisted to strike with his blades, it must have caught him.

Although he could not be tainted twice, infection was still a very real possibility. Sighing, Henri-Julien began to unbuckle that particular piece, preparing to clean and patch up the injury as best he was able. All of which sounded a lot more blasé than he was beginning to feel. The heightened emotion of battle was wearing off, and had he not been a Grey Warden, the wound would likely have had him collapsed on the floor. As it was, it was just becoming exceedingly painful.

"Are you injured?" he asked of his companion, mindful of his role as superior - in all ways, and even if Daniel himself did not acknowledge any of them.