Nov 19, 2018 2:58 PM
Aria faces the Fifth Blight
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"It would be wise to see if we can get them out with the Amanranthine residents. Perhaps Nathaniel's knight in the Free Marches could help with that."

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"Probably. I guess we should talk to Nathaniel about that before we go, make sure he knows what his plan is and whether it has space for extras." She sighs. "I'll go do that, be back in a bit."

Off to see Nathaniel again.

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The scout has left, and Nathaniel is seated at the foot of the, for lack of a better word, throne, that commands the entire room. He looks up as Aria approaches.

"The scout was confirming what you already told us, and that there was one other group of survivors that got out after yours."

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"Better than none," she says, solemnly. "I was just making sure that you had a plan to evacuate Amaranthine and the Denerim survivors, if you don't think you can hold the city indefinitely. Planning to ship people off to the Free Marches?"

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"They got out of Denerim. They were found on the road to Gwaren, first by the darkspawn."

Nathaniel puts a formal demeanour back into his posture, straightening up. "Yes, I did plan for your refugees too. We've managed to co-opt a few pleasure crafts as well as trade vessels to get everyone out. I've offered to let the soldiers leave with their families, but most seem intent on staying to protect the farmers."

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She takes a second to process the first part of this speech, but she's back to at least pretending to be confident by the end. "Good for them, then, we're gonna need people. Have you decided where you're going to be?"

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"Yes, and I think I can do more good alongside you than I can here. Here, it simply a case of getting the vulnerable out and shoring up defences. All of that can be done by the soldiers, all of them capable. I'll let the Seneschal in charge, he has also insisted on staying."

He seems a little awkward. "That is, if you'll have me. I can promise I am skilled with a bow, though differently to Leliana."

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"We'll have you, then. Your servants vouch for your character, and the saving my life thing speaks to your usefulness in a fight," she says, smiling. "How soon do you think you can wrap up your business here?"

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"Within a few days. Hopefully that will give your people time to rest and gather supplies. You're welcome to our armoury here, Zevran certainly made use of it," he says, with an almost fond smile.

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"Fine by me," says Aria - she'd rather leave sooner, but hey, they need to get the people out.

She announces to the rest of her group - including Alistair, once he wakes up - that it'll be a couple days before they set out. She does, afterward, return to Amaranthine with her companions and check in on how everyone is doing. They're not doing well, but they're coping, mostly, and they cope better after they're more certain that they're not going to immediately run out of food. She intends to spend the next couple days on rest, combat training, and processing her feelings at her dog, the only entity around who she's pretty sure doesn't have the capacity to judge her for them.

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On the third day, Nathaniel comes to find Aria. “Ships are ready. Once we’re all ready to leave, we’ll head to Amaranthine to see them off and...and head to the circle.”

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Aria is super ready to leave!

She says goodbye to Merina and goodbye to her own departing family. Her father informs her that he is devastated but incredibly proud of her, and that her mother would have been the same. 

And then they leave - refugees north for the Free Marches, ragtag bunch of misfits west for the circle.

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Leliana, Sten, Nathaniel and North keep pace with her, Anders brings up the rear to avoid Alistair as much as possible. Zevran remains back with him, the two trading banter easily. 

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One day out from Amaranthine, Aria and Alistair will sense a group of darkspawn heading their way. 

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"Company up ahead, the ugly kind," she announces. If there are twelve or fewer she's inclined to just fight them - make Ferelden a little safer for whoever else is walking these roads right now - but if it's a massive group then they'll need to get out of here as quickly as possible.

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It is a small group, and far enough from the main horde that it won't be alerted.

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Then they fight. Melee fighters on the outside, Anders and the archers in the center.

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These darkspawn are clever, and concentrate on the weaker members of the party.

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"Oh- Maker! Yep, that's a bit too close for comfort!"

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Alistair gets to Anders before Aria does, plunging his sword through the nearest darkspawn. He sets himself up between Anders and the bulk of the group, keeping the darkspawn mostly off his back.

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Well that's very responsible. She'll have to tell him so later.

She sizes up the group and sees that Zevran has two enemies headed for him; she beheads one before it gets to him.

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Zevran is a quick and clever fighter, he leaps nimbly aside to avoid a slash by the creature, and follows through with a killing thrust.

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Nathaniel fires arrow after arrow, aiming for eyes and throats.

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Sten stays back to guard the archers, killing anything that gets too close.

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The last few darkspawn seem to get more aggressive with each of their fellows deaths.

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