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Title: Rain of Blessings
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Dragon Age Origins, pre-Battle of Ostagar
Warnings: death and neglect mentions in passing
Word Count: 959
Summary: Orphne Tabris and the deserter, or a city elf's discount.
Word of the Day: mewl, verb: To cry, as a baby, young child, or the like; whimper.
Note: Daggerpen's Queti Tabris is meant to be 19-20 during the events of DAO. Orphne Tabris is two years younger (and Echo Surana is the same age), so they are both 17 years old in 9:30 Dragon.

Rain of Blessings

"Heh... Someone finally comes and talks to the lone prisoner? I don't suppose you've come to sentence me," the man in the occupied cage says, with equal parts hope and gloom. Orphne glances back at Alistair, who merely shrugs. Then she looks at the soldier on guard -- his expression is bored, a little irritated. She elbows Alistair lightly, to get his attention.

"Hey," Alistair starts to say. Orphne cuts him off, holding up a hand. She gestures to the guard.

Then she whispers, "Talk to him. I want to hear what this prisoner has to say." To the prisoner, Orphne says in reply, "No, I haven't."

The prisoner looks crestfallen for a moment, but perks up again. "I don't suppose you have a bit of kindness in you? All I want is food and water," the prisoner says. "They haven't fed me since I was locked up, and I'm starving."

Orphne is surprised to hear that no one has even thought to feed him, given that he's one of their own and not an elf -- the quartermaster's harsh comments about the redheaded elf-girl are still on her mind, as is Ser Jory's assertion that all the Grey Wardens camped in the valley are humans. Then she brushes her left thumb against the ring still encircling her finger, and remembers. There is no depth to which the shems won't sink. "Tell me why you're in there, first."

"I'm a deserter. Or so they think... I bet there's no arguing them out of it, though -- armies are funny that way."

"They certainly are," Orphne says neutrally.

"I wasn't deserting," the prisoner insists, "but when you catch someone sneakin' around camp in the middle of the night, what else are you gonna think?" He grimaces, and presses a hand to his stomach. "Does it matter? All I want is a bit of food and water."

"If you weren't deserting," Orphne asks, "why sneak around the camp?"

Orphne knows that hungry look on the human man's face. She's worn it often enough herself -- the worst time after her mother died and Cyrion hadn't been able to bring himself to work, sick with grief. Even then, no human had shown her or her sister any pity. Their neglected state had been noticed by Adaia's brother, their Uncle Adrastos Surana -- he and Aunt Talitha had been the ones to care for them, despite being poor and grieving themselves.

"Oh, I would have deserted eventually, just not then." His grimace eases into something more like a smile. "I was stealing, not sneaking out of the the camp."

Orphne can't help it. She smiles, just slightly, back.

"I got one of those wizards drunk and took his key. It belongs to a chest they got here, full of magical treasures. In fact, I still have it."

She raises an eyebrow at that. "They didn't find the key when you were arrested?"

"I swallowed it!" the prisoner answers proudly. His eyes slide away from hers as he continues, though, "But it's, ah, come back into my possession since then, so to speak."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Just ask my guard for his. He's still got some dinner; I saw him put it in his coat.'

She glances at the guard. He's talking with Alistair, and Alistair is gamely playing along, feeding speculation about the upcoming battle. Alistair is a human and he used to be a templar, and that all means that he's dangerous, but he doesn't seem to be such a bad sort on his own. She moves on soft, silent feet toward them, and neither of them even glance her way. 'He put it in his coat'...

Pickpocketing the guard is almost laughably easy. Neither of the human men pay her any mind, as usual. Orphne finds the food, wrapped in a handkerchief, with ease, and lightly plucks it from the guard's coat. Then she steps back, tossing a wink at Alistair as she walks soft-footed back to the hanging cage.

"So...? Brought me some food, have you?" the prisoner asks urgently as she comes closer. "I'm so hungry I could faint dead away."

Orphne passes him the cloth-wrapped packet, as well as her canteen of water. She's got enough coin, from selling the things stolen from Arl Kendells' estate, to buy a new canteen later. "Here's some food."

The human man's eyes light up, and Orphne wonders if she's really the first to speak with him, or just the first to listen. "Much obliged. May Andraste herself rain blessings upon you!" He sets the canteen to the floor of his cage and hurriedly unwraps the handkerchief -- it contains half of a hard rye roll and a few pieces of boiled salt pork, typical soldier's rations. He stuffs a piece of the pork in his mouth and chews it rapturously.

Orphne watches quietly, still saying nothing when Alistair rejoins them.

It's only after the man finishes chewing and swallowing that he goes rummaging around in the rags that likely make up his bed. He comes back, something glinting at the end of his closed fist. "And... as I mentioned, here's the key." Orphne holds up her hand, letting him drop the key into her gloved palm. "Use it in good health, hey?"

"Huh." Alistair says dryly. "Considering where that came from, let's hope we're not the only ones in good health."

Orphne shoots him a little glare, which he blithely ignores -- or pretends to. She huffs, pockets the key, and heads over to where the army is training. She'd been feeling better about having to spend time with him, seeing how willing he'd been to help out, but he had to go and ruin it with sarcasm.

Alistair blinks after her. 'What did I say?' he wonders, but doesn't bother to say as he tries to catch up.

*-*-*-*
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