The path to the Temple of Sacred Ashes was cold, steep, meandering, and treacherous. In that sense, Kate thought wryly, it was a perfect metaphor for the Chantry on the whole.
Alright, maybe that was a bit harsh. And yet, Kate could not help but reflect that the Chantry was most useful to people already in power - people like Kate’s own parents, for example. Meanwhile, the ones who really truly needed help - the poor, the questioning, and the lost - were most often left outside in the cold.
Kate sighed and her breath instantly frosted. Speaking of cold, the wind had picked up as she’d left the shelter of the trees. Kate stopped to adjust her scarf around her neck. As she did so, she happened to look over her shoulder. Kate turned around, gazing down in wonder at the view below her. She had been so preoccupied with putting one foot in front of the other, Kate hadn’t realized quite how far she’d come.
From here, she could see all the way to Haven. The village appeared quite small. There were a few blocks for buildings and a few dots for tents, nestled among the tiny trees. The valley between was long and winding, Kate saw. The icy river looked like a belt of silver, with bridges for buckles and a tributary for a sword. And soaring up on either side of the valley were the most magnificent mountains Kate had ever seen.
The Vimmark mountains may have served as the backdrop for Kate’s life in Ostwick, but they weren’t anything like this. These mountains seemed alive. They rolled out in every direction like an ocean of stone, and Kate felt she was a very small ship among the waves. When the gusting wind blew over the path, it lifted the snow and set it swirling. Kate could actually see the flow of the air, the way it mimicked the movement of water.
For a second there, Kate felt a deep connection between herself and the world around her. She felt as solid as the stone beneath her, as fluid as the sky above, as bright and sparkling as the snow that drifted over it all. In this austere landscape, the world had been stripped down to its bones. Here, she mused, all the secret patterns of creation were laid bare. Kate suddenly had the mad wish to sprout wings and go flying off of the mountainside. She wasn’t sure what the question was, exactly, but she was positive that the snowy sky held the answer.
Lydia would have loved this place.
The thought crashed into Kate’s mind, and she let out a short huff of pain. That breath also frosted, curling away from Kate’s lips. In the same way, Kate’s sense of peace and connection to the world also disappeared like vapor. Kate found her hand was clenched at her heart, but she didn’t remember moving it there.
If only… Kate was unable to banish the words from her mind. If only Ostwick had sent a delegation from the beginning. If only Kate had been more careful when dealing with the blood mages. If only Lydia hadn’t trusted that horrible apprentice of hers. If only it had happened differently, then Lydia would be here - likely here precisely. They would have sent Lydia to the Conclave, and Kate would be home in Ostwick. Tears rose in her eyes and spilled over.
But Lydia had died, Kate thought. They had burned her body on a pyre, like all the others lost at Ostwick. Lydia’s ashes had been scattered into the sea, and Kate had no time mourn over the waves. Kate wanted to. But instead, she had gone inside and started preparing for this journey. Since then, her grief had been kept at bay by the distraction of her friends and the travel plans. Once alone, sorrow had found her and now threatened to overwhelm her.
No, Kate told herself. She had to press on. It would not honor Lydia’s memory to give in to despair. As it was, her tears had frozen into thin little lines on each of her cheeks. Kate swiped at them with her gloves. It did no good, so she gave up and stomped on into the snow. She was being foolish, she told herself. She could grieve later. Right now, she needed to get to the Conclave. She would not be useful to anyone if she sobbed herself into an icicle. Kate might be able to cast frost magics, but that did not make her immune to freezing.
Kate trudged up the path as best she could. The passage of so many boots had beaten the snow down into an icy sheet in the center of the trail. Kate kept to one side. She was so caught up in her own thoughts - of Lydia, of the peace talks, of not falling off the mountainside - that she nearly missed it when the path reached a switchback. When Kate turned, she happened to look up. She sniffed sharply. The chill air scoured her lungs.
There it was. The Temple of Sacred Ashes loomed on the summit ahead, back-lit by the setting sun. Cast in shadow like that, it looked like the Black City itself.
Now there was a cheery thought.
Kate swallowed nervously. She swiped her hand at her cheeks again, hoping that the tears were gone by now. Her face was too numb to feel anything but cold. Likewise, her mind was too numb to feel anything but a dull, detached nervousness.
Letting out a breath that frosted instantly, Kate continued on toward the Conclave, forging her own trail alongside the well-worn path.
Cullen stumbled through the door and swiftly shut it behind him. Thankfully, if anyone noted his departure from the nave of the Haven Chantry, they would likely think he’d gone into the crypts to for some work-related purpose. That suited Cullen fine. As it was, he wanted neither company nor sympathetic looks just now. The would only add to his discomfort.
Cullen hissed in a breath, stumbling over to a nearby barrel. This would have to do for a pew, he supposed. He did not sit, so much as collapse against the wall. His cloth-draped armor made a dull clank against the stone. He leaned against the wall. The cool stone was a mercy to his sweat-drenched forehead. Cullen took one deep breath, then another, then another. He set his hands on his knees, his fingers still trembling.
On the other side of the door, as many as a hundred voices raised in song. The peasants and farmers and soldiers and other assorted villagers were still at prayers. In voices both trembling and strong, they fervently begged the Maker for peace. They sang the Chant as a petition, praying that the important people up on that distant mountain might see fit to set the world back to rights. They had no voice at the Conclave, Cullen thought, and so their only hope of being heard was to speak to the Maker himself from down here.
Truly, he thought, there was nothing so fervent as the prayers of the desperate. At the moment, Cullen was rather desperate himself, but for other reasons. His prayers were a bit more self-focused. Right now, Cullen was praying that this episode would pass as quickly as possible.
Cullen felt as though an avalanche had buried him. The physical pressure of a headache was accompanied by a heaviness that seemed to settle over his chest. He felt a throbbing sensation go shooting down his neck, flicker through his lower back like electricity, then drop down and settle in his leg. The cramp flared so sharply that Cullen found himself biting out a curse. He shoved the heel of his palm into his leg, wishing he’d found something other than this stupid barrel to sit on. The floor was an option, but if he landed on the floor, he feared he might not get back up again any time soon.
At least it wasn’t as bad as some, Cullen thought. This was mostly physical, which meant it should pass by morning, thank the Maker. It was when the voices and faces accompanied the pain that Cullen really panicked. But this he could handle. He would just breathe in and out. He would remind himself that physical withdrawal accounted for physical pain. There was a pattern to it all, and Cullen could take comfort in that. Order and reason and even pain were far preferable to the randomness of his darker nights.
Still, Cullen thought as the pain ebbed a bit, this was beyond frustrating. He had gone almost two months now with nothing more serious than a headache. He must have pushed himself too hard without realizing it.
But least he could hear the Chant, Cullen told himself. The sound gave him hope. For even if he ached, at least he had made a difference. He had helped to bring Haven to this point. Justinia was at the temple. The delegates were at the temple. And perhaps they, like these people here, were equally eager for peace. Perhaps the mages and the templars were praying right now, finding common ground in their common faith. The Chantry had built the Circles, after all. Perhaps the Chantry could also restore…
Restore what? Cullen wondered, grinding his forehead into the wall. Did anyone want the Circles anymore? Did he?
A throbbing sensation behind his right eyebrow ended that line of thought. With his free hand, Cullen pressed his gloved thumb and forefinger to his eyes. That was a question for another time, he told himself. He simply had to weather this storm. It would pass, he promised himself. And until it did, he would cling to the Chant.
Eyes still closed, Cullen opened his mouth and softly, haltingly began to sing along:
There is no darkness, in the Maker's light There is no death, in the Maker's life. Nothing he makes is truly lost, Nothing he creates truly dies, All things will be gathered to him, All truth revealed by his keen eyes
Kate had attended a great many parties in her lifetime. And she had quickly learned how to tell if she was truly welcome at a place, or if she was not.
Kate did not feel welcome at the Temple of Sacred Ashes.
She wasn’t sure if anyone was welcome in this place, really. As she walked through the immense great hall, she tried to think of a less inviting space, and failed. Each stone rafter above looked like a wrinkle on a disapproving face, as if the temple itself was frowning at her for daring to disturb this holy site. There were people about, lots of people, actually, and yet, the place felt empty. The great hall made everyone appear as small as mice, and like mice, everyone scurried about alone. Kate saw a few people speaking in small groups of two or three, but they said little and grew silent as she passed.
Kate briefly wondered where Ser Ira had gotten off to, but she realized he might not want to speak with her. Kate had no idea where he was staying, either. One of the guards had given her directions to her own room and the room where the talks would be held, but other than that, Kate had no idea where anything was.
With no where else to go, Kate turned down a corridor and headed toward where her room was supposed to be. Along the way, she shuddered at the sight of the Chantry banners along every open stretch of wall. She could never look at the symbol of the sunburst without thinking of the Tranquil’s brand. Kate wondered if the decor was intended to intimidate, or if someone had just made a rather thoughtless oversight. Either way, she tried to ignore the velvet tapestries.
From somewhere in the distance, Kate heard singing. The Chant of Andraste had been set to an even slower tempo than usual, and it echoed down the hall at a lugubrious pace:
And there I saw the Black City, Its towers forever stain'd, Heaven filled with silence, I cross'd my heart with shame.
Kate pressed her lips together and continued down the hallway, trying to block out the sound. The song went on to detail how mankind had fallen into sin, but Kate had no desire to hear again how pride and magic had nearly destroyed the world. Instead, she pressed on, passing several dark, empty rooms.
Turning a corner, Kate spied a pair of double-doors ahead. And just there, to her left, she spotted the the door with her name on it. A piece of paper had been nailed into the wood, and the words “Trevelyan of Ostwick” were written upon it in a bold scrawl. Kate cocked her head at the sign, then pushed the door open. From the hallway lanterns, she saw that she had been assigned a funny little nook - scarcely a room at all. There was a cot to the left and a statue of Andraste at the back. The statue had been set upon a barrel, and in the right corner were a couple of brooms and a bucket.
Kate gave a spurt of laughter. Was this really her room? After that grandiose display back in the great hall, she’d expected something all gilded and Orlesian and cavernous. Maybe they clerics had blown the Conclave budget on all those banners, Kate thought with a smirk. But her little closet was warm, she supposed, and it had a bed - of sorts. At least she wasn’t sleeping in the gloomy great hall - or out in the snow, for that matter.
From down the hallway, Kate heard the Chant rising in volume again, the cleric’s voices growing fervent in their account of how the Maker came to despise the Imperium of old.
Those who oppose thee Shall know the wrath of heaven. Field and forest shall burn, The seas shall rise and devour them.
Oh honestly, Kate thought, glaring back over her shoulder. Maybe she was just a very bad Andrastian, or maybe she just had a contrary nature. But right now, as the clerics droned at a distance about judgment and abandonment, Kate felt an entirely different song rise in her throat. It was a little like magic, she thought, the way that words sometimes came out of nowhere and cheered her. And so Kate allowed the other song to rise from her mouth and ring out into the little room:
I saw a rose in darkness thrive: I saw the Maker's chosen child. She walked the path both lost and wild, And yet the Maker was her guide.
Kate sang on as she shrugged out of her satchel and sat down on the bed. She started digging around inside of the bag, looking for her papers. As long as she had time, she might as well re-write her opening statements.
The rose so fair, in snowy woods, Before the Sacred Ashes stood, When doom endangered all the world --
Kate’s song ended abruptly on a curse. She wasn’t quite sure how she had done it, but somehow, as she shifted around on the cot, the bed bumped the barrel. The barrel then tipped, and the statue of Andraste dove face first into Kate’s lap. The stone likeness of the prophet smashed Kate’s left hand before it went clattering to the floor.
“By the Void!” Kate hissed. She yanked off her glove and examined her tender fingers. That would leave a mark, she thought, grimacing. Her knuckles were all red, and would likely bruise. Kate scowled at the statue of Andraste. She then lifted it and set it upright on the floor.
“That wasn’t very nice,” she told the stone prophetess. “If you didn’t like my song, you could have just said so.”
“Ah, but our lady is a curious one,” a voice said from the doorway. “Likely she had some other message for you.”
Kate looked up with a start. In the hallway stood a woman in fancy-looking cleric’s robes and a tall hat. The woman had bright blue eyes and a very wrinkled face. Yet, in spite of her obvious age, the cleric struck Kate as surprisingly childlike. It might have been the sweet smile on her face, as if she found Kate’s singing and cursing quite amusing.
Kate immediately blushed. “Oh,” she said, feeling quite stupid. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize anyone else was here.”
The woman chuckled. “You are one of the mages, are you not?”
The woman had a thick Orlesian accent, so her words came out as: “Yuu ahhrr wahn off zee maayh-gheez, aahrr yuuu naawht?”
It took Kate a moment to translate the words back into properly clipped Common. Once she understood, Kate nodded.
“I am,” she said. “I’m Kate. Of Ostwick.” To emphasize this, she pointed at the sign on the door.
“Ostwick,” the woman said, nodding thoughtfully, “We heard you had a hard time of it.”
“Wee haarrd yuu haad aaye haad tyyme aahf eet,” Kate heard.
“We did,” she replied. “But no more than most Circles, I suspect.”
“True,” the woman said, with a little frown. “I am glad you are here. Too many did not arrive at all.”
She gave a sad smile, and Kate didn’t know what to say. Then the woman’s eyes brightened a bit.
“I was surprised to hear your song,” the cleric said. “That was one of Sister Leliana’s compositions, you know.”
Kate nodded. “I once read that the bard, Leliana, traveled here. I guess that’s why her song just came to my mind. I didn’t expect to be overheard, though.”
“You sing it well,” the woman said, kindly. “And Sister Nightingale wrote such lovely hymns. I only wish she wrote more of them.”
“Have you ever met her?” Kate asked, curious now.
“I have,” the woman said, with a slight smile. “She is here in Haven. Perhaps you, too, will meet her before this is all done.”
Now there was an exciting idea, Kate thought. Leliana was quite a legend in recent history. Kate would love to ask her all about the Fifth Blight - about the discovery of this place as well. What scholar wouldn’t wish to get an interview with such a person, Kate wondered? She could probably work it into a publication somehow.
“You know,” the cleric went on, interrupting Kate’s thoughts, “Perhaps that is why our lady threw herself at you.” Here she nodded at the statue of Andraste. “The prophet may have preferred that you sang her Chant, instead of Leliana’s song.”
“I thought jealousy was Maferath’s problem,” Kate quipped. She belatedly realized that this might offend the woman, but the cleric only chuckled. It occurred to Kate that this woman was the first smile she’d seen since walking up from Haven. Kate found herself smiling in response.
“Sorry,” Kate said, though she wasn’t sorry at all. “I probably shouldn’t jest about such things.”
“Why not?” the cleric asked, folding her hands into her sleeves. “We could use a little levity. Everyone here is so serious.” She gave a slight shudder and glanced down the corridor.
“True,” Kate agreed, “But,” she added, thoughtfully, “I hope it’s just because they’re worried about the peace talks. I know I’m terrified.”
The cleric looked at Kate intently. “Are you?” she asked.
“Well, yes,” Kate said. She hadn’t meant to speak quite so openly, but there it was. A slight pause ensued. They two women stared at one another without speaking for a moment, and then the cleric inclined her head and asked:
“How do you find the Temple of Sacred Ashes?” It was a typical sort of small-talk question, so Kate answered politely.
“It’s very…historical,” she said, diplomatically. The cleric’s lips twitched in amusement.
“You do not care for it, then?” she asked.
“Oh, no,” Kate said quickly. “It’s impressive.”
“Ah,” the woman nodded, as if she’d seen right through Kate’s faint praise. “What is it that you dislike?”
“I don’t mind it too much,” Kate said, hastily, “The snow is lovely. It’s just…” She trailed off.
“It is just?” the woman prompted. As she waited for an answer, the cleric’s eyes searched Kate’s face. The woman gave Kate her full attention, as if everything Kate said was of great interest to her.
“It’s unsettling,” Kate said. “All this space, all these people, and its so quiet. Like a tomb.” Kate then gave a short laugh. “Well, I suppose it is a tomb. Odd place for peace talks, when you think about it.”
“It is holy ground,” the woman pointed out. “It is a place that belongs to everyone.”
“Seems like it belongs to the Chantry,” Kate replied. “That’s not exactly everyone. And besides,” she went on, unconsciously assuming the tone she used when she and Lydia had discussed such matters over meals, “I’ve never understood the concept of holy ground. How is any one patch of Thedas any better than another? Does the Maker truly require that His people pray within a certain proximity to relics before He’ll listen to them? If the Maker is so selective in His hearing, then what good is He?”
The cleric blinked at Kate, once - twice. And Kate realized that she had not just spoken her mind. She had spoken borderline blasphemy.
“I…I mean,” she stammered.
“You have given this a lot of thought,” the woman said. And because her tone held no judgment, only open curiosity, Kate went on and dug herself in even deeper.
“Well, yes,” Kate said. “I never went on pilgrimage. Did the Maker listen to me less because I was stuck in a tower? Does he listen to me less because I’m a mage? I suppose some people might think so, but…”
Here she fell silent.
“But?” the cleric prompted softly. “Do you believe he listens to you?” When Kate did not answer at first, the woman added, “Do you hear him reply?”
“Maybe?” Kate said, looking up at her. “But not here. The Chantry just confuses things for me. When I stood - when I stand - outside, I feel as though…” Kate paused, then decided she might as well finish her thought:
“Sometimes I feel an underlying rhythm to the world. But I don’t hear that rhythm echoed in the Chant. It seems to me that if I really want to hear the Maker, I shouldn’t sit in a windowless temple while someone sings a dead woman’s words. I should walk outside, where there’s snow and sky, and look up.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Kate cringed. Her mother would be horrified by these flirtations with heresy - not to mention Kate’s utter lack of manners.
“I do apologize,” Kate said quickly. “I’m rambling on about my own opinions, and that’s most rude. I should ask you: How do you find the temple so far?”
“I find it full of people in need of answers,” the cleric replied. “Like you, for example.”
“Ah, aren’t we all searching for answers?” Kate said, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
“Not all of us are searching, no,” the woman replied. “There are those who want an easy answer, and those who will not rest until they find the correct one. I only pray the delegates here are willing to search a little.”
Kate had nothing to say to that. Well, she did, but it was not at all complimentary to the other delegates, so she kept it to herself.
“You raise a fair point, though,” the cleric said, looking up to the corner of the dusty little room. “But consider this, Kate of Ostwick. The ashes of our heroes are far easier for us to understand than the natural world. Most people look to the sky and the snow and see only a harsh winter. They do not see the Maker’s hand in any of it. They do not have your insight.”
“My insight,” Kate repeated with a self-depreciating laugh. “Also known as ‘doubt’.”
“Doubt and insight often go hand in hand, don’t you think?” the cleric asked. “Both help us to understand the world around us.”
“Are you sure you’re a priest?” Kate laughed nervously, cocking her head to one side. “Aren’t you supposed to stop me from thinking like this, instead of encouraging me?”
The woman just laughed, her blue eyes twinkling. “Why on earth would I want to stop you from thinking?” she asked.
“Most priests did,” Kate shrugged.
“Ah,” the woman nodded, and she looked a bit troubled. “The Circle priests were unkind to you?”
“Not really,” Kate said. “But they got tired of me - of all of us. I can’t blame them, really. It can’t be easy being assigned to a Circle. Mages are a difficult flock.”
“And why is that?” the cleric asked, quietly. Though Kate hadn’t meant to, she found herself answering truthfully, once again.
“We mages value knowledge far more than belief,” Kate told the woman. “I mean, think about it: We spend our lives observing the worlds of physical reality and the Fade. We study how they work, how our magic works in both places. There’s no room for superstition and guesswork there. That’s how mages are trained, six days out of the week. Then on the seventh, we’re herded into the chapel and told a bunch of old stories and told not to question them. Is it any wonder that most mages become skeptics? What else would we be?”
The cleric canted her head to one side. “You describe the situation quite accurately,” she said. “But now consider the opposite. Consider the templars. For years, they are taught nothing but stories, nothing but faith. They are taught never to question, never to trust their own will over the word of the Chantry. Then they are placed in situations requiring subtlety of thought and careful judgment. Is it any wonder that so many of them have become overzealous?”
Kate would have used a stronger word than ‘overzealous’. ‘Maniacal’ would be more accurate. But Kate conceded the underlying point all the same.
“So you’re saying that mages could use a bit more faith and templars could use a bit more reason?”
“Do you disagree?” the cleric asked, turning the question back to Kate.
“I think,” Kate said, half to herself. “I think that I envy the templars their faith. They always seem so sure of their place in the Chantry, so certain of their place in the world. I wish I had that kind of resolve.”
“They project confidence,” the cleric nodded. “But appearances are often deceiving. I imagine that many templars are wracked with the same doubts as you, my child. But they feel they cannot question the Chantry. Perhaps they need a mage like you to lead the way.”
Kate laughed out loud at that idea. “Oh,” she chuckled, “I’m sure that the templars would just love following a mage’s guidance in matters of faith. No,” she said, shaking her head. “I would never presume to be a spiritual leader of any sort. As you can see, my faith is a limping, broken little thing.”
“If it limps, it lives,” the woman pointed out.
“I suppose,” Kate said. “I do believe in the Maker, but I wouldn’t be any good at leading anyone else. I just don’t have the stomach for forcing people to adopt my point of view. And I don’t have much tolerance for loud displays of piety.” She nodded meaningfully down the hallway, where the rising song of the Chant still rang through the temple.
The cleric looked from side to side, then leaned forward to whisper: “Neither do I.”
Kate laughed at the woman’s mischievous look. It was truly hilarious to see a reverend mother look so impish.
“Don’t let the Divine hear you say that,” Kate chuckled. “You might get kicked out of the peace talks before they start.”
The woman’s mouth curled in a secret little smile. “Why would you say that?” she asked.
Kate shrugged. “Maybe you wouldn’t,” she admitted. “I’ve heard good things about Justinia. But if she wants to hold peace talks in a place like this, she must have a great fondness for old bones and gilded halls.”
“Or perhaps,” the blue-eyed woman suggested, “Justinia hopes that removal from the world below would allow the delegates to forget some of their assumptions. See the snow, perhaps? See the Maker’s hand in it?”
“We can only hope,” Kate said, wryly.
“True,” the cleric replied. Then her eyes grew a bit sad.
“True,” she said again, this time, a bit absently. “We can only hope.”
At that, her blue eyes went briefly unfocused, and the woman suddenly looked much older than before.
“I should return to my prayers,” she said, softly. “Will I see you at sundown?”
“I imagine so,” Kate replied. “That’s what I’m here for, isn’t it?” And with that thought, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach again. This conversation had made her forget for a time what she was really here to do.
“I hope you will speak this honestly when the peace talks begin,” the cleric told Kate. “We need someone to raise these kinds of questions, to shake up the assumptions that we have held to for so long.”
“Oh, Maker,” Kate muttered. “I don’t think that would be a very good idea.”
“But you must.” The cleric now gave Kate a very serious, very intense blue-eyed stare. “Many of the delegates have come to jostle for position, to use piety as a coin to buy their way into the new order. But you came here with insight and doubt. What we need now are not assumptions and answers, but questions that see to the heart of things. That is how peace will be found.”
“What we need,” Kate told her, “are more clerics like you. If the Chantry had that, it probably wouldn’t have landed in this mess in the first place.”
Kate meant it as a compliment, as thanks for this strange, but interesting conversation. Unfortunately, Kate had miscalculated somehow. Her words instead seemed to upset the woman. The cleric’s white brows furrowed and her whole face fell.
“No,” she murmured, sadly. “I bear much blame. And that is why I am here.”
With that solemn statement, the woman placed her hand on Kate’s head. Kate felt the warmth of the woman’s touch all the way down to her toes.
“Be blessed, my child,” the cleric said, softly. “I pray for your continued safety. May the Maker break the bones of this world for you. Only then can we heal properly. And now,” she said, lifting her hand, “I leave you.”
Kate shivered. And the woman left.
Okaaay, Kate thought. That had been odd. It had been nice - well, up until that creepy statement about breaking bones - but odd. It then occurred to Kate that she hadn’t even learned the cleric’s name.
Somewhere down the hallway, Kate heard a door open and close. Kate peeked out and saw the corridor was empty. The double doors at the end of the hall were shadowy in the lantern light. Kate was again alone.
Kate turned back to her little closet. She lit the small candle with the flint and stone provided, set the light down on the barrel, and shut the door. She had no good place to kneel, so Kate sat on the edge of the cot, her hands on her knees, her fingers laced before her. This was not terribly comfortable either, so Kate stretched out on the bed instead. The moment her head hit the cot, Kate realized her mistake. Her eyes closed at once in exhaustion.
“Oh, Maker, I’m tired,” Kate muttered.
It wasn’t much of a prayer, but it was a genuine statement. She hoped the Maker would accept it, even if it wasn’t flowery or set to music. She also hoped the Maker would excuse her rather off-hand comments about Him and His faithful. But then, Kate thought, if He didn’t have a sense of humor about such things, there wasn’t much point in following Him, was there?
Either way, Kate decided that she simply had to rest her eyes. She would wake up when the talks began, she told herself. She had a few hours yet, and the bells would wake her, surely.
Sleep overtook her. The music of the Chant faded away into dreams, and the last thing Kate remembered seeing was the statue of Andraste in the candlelight. The stone lady smiled knowingly as the Chant echoed down the hall:
Let the blade pass through my flesh, Let my blood touch the ground, Let my cries touch their hearts. Let mine be the last sacrifice.