Chapter 49: Precipice

Hello internet,

Please enjoy chapter 49 of Lead heart. Almost 1 year of weekly chapters!

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Leliana’s fingers were dead. She gasped when the icy breath of the mountains found a little tear in the shirt she wore and teased its cold fingers up and down her spine. There was a coat of frost on her hair, and she idly wondered if one of her ribs might be cracked. It was amazing. This was why she’d busted that prison open. These were the moments worth living.

Then she looked down.

Oops.

Vertigo hit her like a brick wall. The air whooshed out of her and everything started to spin. After the longest game of cat and mouse she could ever imagine, soaring over rivers and slipping like a shadow between the densely packed forest, she couldn’t believe this was the way she was going out. A few frozen millimeters of rock was all that stood between her and certain doom.

She couldn’t stop smiling like an idiot.

Vea loomed just a scant meter up the rock wall, solidly situated on a stable shelf of stone. “You will return to your friend Teena and remove her to safety” she frowned, “and I will pull you to safety.”

“Nope.”

“Girl. Do this which I ask of you so I may continue my duties as war brother.”

“Are you a war brother if you’re a girl?” Leliana snickered, “are there no war sisters?”

“This is irrelevant. Give me your hand and go back immediately,” Vea offered up a helping hand. Leliana wasn’t buying.

“Are you kidding, I can’t leave now!” She said. “That’s too far! Not to mention, I want to see what they’re blowing up the mountain with. It’s been months since I had a good bomb supply, you know?” The cold rock was sapping the warmth from her trembling muscles every second. She had to do something. “Be a darling and move, will you?”

Vea’s eyes went wide as Leliana started swinging back and forth, swaying dangerously over thin air. Leliana could feel the ice loosening.

“Don’t die don’t die don’t die,” she chanted quietly. She couldn’t let Vea help her, that was giving up. Quitting wasn’t really something she’d ever been good at. It wasn’t really the offer of help, she reflected, but the condition that she leave. She had to know what was going on up here, and what the monks had to do with it. She hadn’t solved so much as a crossword puzzle in months, and her brain was starting to atrophy.

“Alright. Live with your decisions as you see fit. Or don’t,” Vea tossed over her shoulder and vanished.

“Yeah, you go on ahead! I’ll catch up!”

Unearthly wails drifted out of the valley like a death wail, anticipating her half-mile drop. “Oh no you don’t,” Leliana threatened the ledge. She had one shot, and she had to take it. The muscles in her forearms were trembling, desperately clinging to the sharp edges while she gained the momentum in her hips to launch up to the ledge. Now or never! On the next swing, she flung herself straight up-

-or meant to. The little outcropping had finally had enough of her nonsense, crumbling to pieces and throwing her into the void.

“Ah, dammit!”

All of Leliana’s dreams flashed in front of her eyes. Spelunking the ancient cities, swimming in the ocean. Jumping off of an airship in a wingsuit. She sighed, accepting her own stupidity as she plummeted through the depths, the sting of the air racing into her nose was…

Wait.

“You are such a pain in my ass.” Vea dumped her unceremoniously into a snowdrift, safely on solid ground.

“You came back for me!”

“I need to feel like the last week of my life was not fruitless,” Vea grumbled.

Leliana’s heart pounded mercilessly in her ears. The wet noodles attached to her hips forced her to lie in the snow for longer than was comfortable. Carkus and Zimi swooped by to laugh at her before he and Vea left her to freeze, trudging through the pass. As soon as she could manage, Leliana raced to catch up.

She was surprised, to say the least.

“Carkus. Give me a good reason not to kill you.”

Vea stood ankle-deep in the middle of a fifty foot patch of shattered wood and rope, viscera, and mostly frozen human remains. And the biggest puddle of blood Leliana had ever seen.

She was impressed.

Drowning in the aura of violence emanating from the monk even at this distance, she kept her opinions quiet.  This whole time she’d been picturing the monks as a band of stoic do-gooders, roving around, saving people and cuddly animals. Even during the encounter with the Jade Serpent, Vea had left the snake alive, only applying as much force as necessary to discourage the animal. There may be more to this, she thought.

The watchtower had been constructed in a little bowl-shaped depression in the mountain near a sheer precipice. And from her vantage point, Leliana could make out at least three human hearts.

“Be reasonable,” Carkus whined. “I didn’t kill any of ‘em ‘til they started shooting. Haha, stupid humans!” He kicked a lung which out of the bloody slush and left a speckled trail of blood across his senior’s face. He froze, the tanned skin of his face turning white.

“I’m dead.”

“Yes.”

Zimi bolted, anticipating Carkus’ path so the small man could hook an arm around his neck without stopping. The two flashed into the sky like blue lightning, Carkus’ shrieks only fading when they vanished from sight.

“Whoa.” Leliana breathed. She’d barely been able to follow the action with her eyes. Something told her Vea had been toying with her.

“Come,” the monk ordered. “We must interrogate the soldiers before Carkus’ appetite overcomes him.”

Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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