It is only when she comes face to face with the destruction that Mahariel realizes that the messenger who told her that the chantry had been destroyed by Anders had been a terrible liar. “Destroyed” does not begin to describe this. “Destroyed” implies that there might be something left, something to salvage. The Chantry of Kirkwall is in absolutely no way “Destroyed.” It is erased- so completely, so utterly, that it very well may have never been at all. How can “Destroyed” possibly do an act like this its vile justice?
There is a memorial erected before the gaping hole where the chantry used to be, a small thing. It consists of a sorrowful golden statue of Andraste standing upon a tablet, upon the face of which are engraved the words “We remember those who were lost the day this sacred place did fall. May the Maker help them find their peace, in eternity.” Beneath this inscription are names that in time will be nothing more than names. “Elthina, Grand Cleric of Kirkwall.” “Mother Petrice.” “Sister Ramine.” “Brother Guillaume.” “Brother Tomas” “Brother-” Mahariel looks away, finding herself either unwilling or unable to read any further.
A breeze ruffles her midnight black hair as she remembers when she first met the man who did this. “ah... I didn't do it.” He had said as the burning darkspawn had fallen to the floor to join the assorted darkspawn and Templars taking a permanent repose there. She had believed him, although the fact that the templars had clearly been ravaged by darkspawn weaponry had helped a great deal. She can't help but find herself wondering what the man whom she had once called a friend would say if she were to find him, here and now... It doesn't matter, of course, no words that Anders can think of are going to change the path that Mahariel affixed herself to a long time ago, but has only now begun to act upon.
The day Anders left the wardens, she had let her friend go. He had done what was needed of him, and had had little choice in joining in the first place. She had been happy to let him walk free. Had she known that the next she would hear of the man would make her want to murder him... well, she doesn't know what she would have done. With things as they had been though, she had not pursued him. Increased Darkspawn activity in addition to the threat of a civil war between the Banns had effectively anchored her in Amaranthine, and she would not have dared send any other wardens after him, not after what he had done. It was on that day, when she heard of the murders the man had committed, that she had resigned herself to seeing him see justice.
Had he not vanished, and had she been willing to waste the resources needed to find him, she would have come after him a long time ago. But he did, and she hadn't, so he had gone free for six years. It had only been when she heard of the “Kirkwall Incident,” as it is being called, that she had bothered to act, as she knew where to look and what she was looking for. It had taken days to prepare and set Amaranthine in order, leaving a veteran Warden named Malone as acting-commander. Then, knowing better than to hunt the man alone, she had sought out Eyzrian and then Amarina to come along.
She takes a few steps down into the gaping hole where the chantry may have once been and looks at the surrounding buildings, all of them damaged- some with crumbling or fallen walls, others fallen completely. She thinks about how many people outside the chantry must have been killed or injured in order for Anders to send his message. She once called him friend, but that is no longer relevant. One day soon, the two shall meet again, and... when that day comes, one of them will have to die.
But then, what did Eyzrian or Amarina have to do with any of this? It isn't their fight, not really, they have no reason to come along. And yet... she had wanted them to, and had pulled them out of the lives they had established for themselves to make them come. It wasn't right, she knows this. It wasn't right to have left the order for this, it wasn't right to have dragged Ez and Amarina into it when she was probably the only one who cared. She cuts off her own line of thought, having chased it in circles around her head far too many times before, and absolutely refusing to do so again. It always amounts to the same- her desire to be with her old compatriots on another adventure and her resentment at being shoehorned into the post of Warden Commander weighted against her reservations at pulling them out of their lives and her understanding of their decisions to refuse the post.
Scattered around the crater are bits and sometimes shards of debris, all of them innocuous. Her eyes see and see through the stray pieces of stone and timber, only marvelling that they were somehow not thrown to the farthest edges of the city when the chantry was destroyed. Only one object catches her eye when the sunlight glints off of it in the light of the late noon. She walks over to it, easily stepping around any stone shards or wood fragments in her way. She recognizes the symbol instantly as the sunburst which serves as the Chantry's official symbol. Ironic.
The metal feels unnaturally warm in her hand as she picks up the star, as if still remembering the devastation that was wrought in this place. She thought about that, and soon her hand clenched into a faintly though powerfully trembling fist over the object. She abruptly flings it to the ground and turns to leave, the fury over discovering how low Alistair had fallen since their last meeting returned in full force, though directed at something entirely different. Seeing the chantry destroyed had done wonders to numb that feeling until now, so call it strange that it is seeing the symbol of the destroyed building that brings it back.
She stops by the memorial tracing her way back and kneels at it to examine the other names. There are hundreds of them- some priests, some Templars, many civilians. She unclips a simple orb from her belt, polychromatic in the shades of the night sky, and studies it, briefly pondering what eventually becomes of those who die in this world. The reflection is not long in lasting though, as an authoritative voice asks her from behind what her business is. It is gentle enough, but suspicion can be hard to hide.
Mahariel stands up and turns to face the woman, who is taller than her by almost a full head. The features of her face are plain, but the resolution and devotion contained in them is unmistakable. Mahariel does not need to look at the uniform to know that this woman was the Guard Captain let alone a guard. Knowing that she is only doing her job she bites back her anger and answers in a tone that was more civil than she had expected. “Reading their names.”
The woman nods in understanding, though continues to eye both the Dalish armour and the blades strapped on her back with interest. “Are you a Dalish? Not many would take well to the sight of an elf carrying weapons.”
It'd be far worse not to have them... and yes. Mahariel answers in a quiet voice, anger having been disarmed by the question. The hesitation at verifying that she is Dalish is notable.
The look on the Guard Captain's face sends a deathchill crawling over every inch of Mahariel's body even before the woman expresses her condolences over the death of the nearby clan on Sundermount. She is silent for a very long time, but cannot hide the tension in her voice when she speaks again. “Was it clan Sabrae?” The hesitant look on the woman's face provokes her further. “Was their Keeper Marethari? Answer Me!”
The Guard Captain hesitates, though remains calm in the face of the desperation in the elf's eyes before nodding.
Mahariel shudders as her anger over the chantry shifts shape colour tone and course for the third time this day, and this time it is a far more dangerous and potent kind. The emotion fades off of her face and her eyes grow cold and impassive. Her body seems relaxed to the eye, but this is nothing more than a flimsy facade concealing the raging hurricane of destruction that is the energy waiting for release the moment the right provocation is given. There is silence for a long time, and then Mahariel asks, in a voice barely more than a whisper: How?
Only four words of the Captain's brief story are heard, and those are Anders, Merril, Eluvian and Hawke. She thanks the Guard Captain without even hearing the words and tries to step around her, but the captain stops her, guessing her intention. “It's not worth it.” She says calmly.
Mahariel looks up at her, but the eyes see nothing. “Unless you can tell me where Anders and Hawke are, get out of my way or I swear by everything that I believe in that I will murder you, here and now.”
The Guard Captain remains calm, and tells the elf that the pair fled the city after the “Kirkwall Incident,” and likely were hiding at an old Grey Warden fortress in the Vinmark mountains, but she doesn't know the way, as she hadn't been with them when they ventured there for the first time. She stands aside and lets the elf be on her way after that, noting the intensity and purpose of her stride.
Aveline recalls for a moment the last time she had seen Hawke. She does not regret her decision to turn her back on that man, he had had no honour, no value for anything beyond his own existence. By all rights she should have killed him, but she is better than that. She owed him a life that day, but now that debt is paid in full, and while she won't chase after Hawke as long as he stays away, this does not stop her from letting someone else do so. And yet... it still feels wrong to have let that elf go knowing she intended to kill him, even as far as an affront to her position. But then again it isn't really that different than the times she has hired Hawke to help keep crime under control. In the end, the ultimate question is if the elf succeeds, will it be justice? Or needless slaughter...