Lucanis looked down at the parchment that gave him his target. He stared at the wax seal stamped on it: that of the Inquisition. He threw the parchment into the fire; he had to get rid of the evidence. He cracked his knuckles. His targets usually knew he was coming for them; it would be no different this time.
Lucanis could feel his heart beating in his chest. He was the Demon, how fitting, but even a real demon could not catch this target. How was he going to hunt one who did not wish to be found? His target was the most dangerous man to exist. No, not man, god. He chuckled to himself, shaking his head. His target was the Dread Wolf.
Lucanis leaned a hand on the stone wall above the fireplace, staring down into the fire.
The servant who had brought him the message was a young elf, perhaps a fresh recruit well disguised. The parchment had had only three words inscribed on it. “Your target: Solas.” Straight to the point, he could appreciate that. No useless embellishments, no time frame or constraints. This would give him much liberty in his search. There was also no payment written, but the elf who’d brought him the message had also given him a sack of gold. The Inquisition’s seal all but guaranteed proper payment would come once the job was done.
Lucanis heard footsteps climbing the stairs to his room and the door opened. Lucanis didn’t need to look up to know his cousin had just entered his room.
‘What’s wrong?’ Illario asked. ‘You look like you’re about to be sick.’
Lucanis took a moment to figure out how to tell his cousin he was walking into certain death.
‘Is it the Venatori?’ Illario asked.
Illario let out a one-breathed laugh. ‘You’ve never let a job worry you before.’
Lucanis looked up and into his cousin’s eyes from across the room. ‘I might not return from this one.’
Illario’s brows furrowed into a scowl. ‘Then refuse it.’
‘It’s too late, I’ve already agreed and accepted the first payment.’ Lucanis began to fiddle with one of his knives.
Illario hesitated. ‘Well? Who’s the target?’
‘The one being that might kill me.’
‘Now you’re being rather vague,’ said Illario. He walked up to Lucanis. ‘Come on, let us make preparations. I’m sure whoever this being is doesn’t stand a chance against two Dellamortes.’
Lucanis shook his head. ‘I’m doing this one alone.’
‘Nonsense! I’m going with you, and I won’t take no for an answer.’
‘Illario, no!’ Lucanis was firm. He placed a hand on his cousin’s shoulder. ‘Antiva needs you here. If I don’t make it back…’ He trailed off. He closed his eyes.
‘Then why are you doing this job?’
‘Because the Inquisition asks it of me,’ said Lucanis. He turned his head away and stared once more at the fire. ‘My target probably already knows I was approached. If I don’t hunt him, he will hunt me anyway.’
‘Sounds important, then,’ Illario said through clenched teeth.
Lucanis snapped his head back to Illario. ‘I’m not trying to exclude you or push you out, Illario. I’m trying to protect you.’
‘Then let me come with you so I can protect you, then you can better protect me.’
Lucanis could feel his cousin seething with the resentment they had yet to resolve. But he could also feel his cousin’s concern and the appreciation they always shared for each other.
‘I’m sorry, Illario. I must do this alone.’
Illario looked down at his feet. ‘You still haven’t told me who your target is?’
Lucanis looked around the room, his thoughts going back to his hunt. He knew he would have to search Solas’s last known whereabouts. The prickling he got at the back of his eyes when magic was being used or where the Veil was thin would guide him to his target. Solas was known to enter the Fade, even through dreams, but doing so with conscious effort used magic. Where the Dread Wolf slept, the veil would be affected. Lucanis also knew his search would probably lead him to what was known as the Eluvian Crossroads. He needed a way to enter that realm.
‘Say, how does one activate one of those elven mirrors?’ he asked.
He turned back to his cousin, who stood eyes wide and mouth agape.
‘No. You’re hunting him? The Dread Wolf?’ Illario took a moment to compose himself. Lucanis could see him shaking. Lucanis felt his own trembling; he hoped he had it enough under control that Illario would not see his fear.
‘Why did you agree?’ Illario’s voice was low, almost a whisper, and filled with contempt.
‘Someone has to find him. I’m the best choice.’
‘Chorrada!’ Ilarrio shouted. ‘Anyone else can take the job, they don’t need you. This Fen’Harel is a god to his people, he petrifies anyone with the blink of an eye. He’s the most powerful being in this world. What I’ve heard of him… He’s going to kill you, Lucanis.’
‘But if I find him-’
‘If you find him what? If you find him and he kills you, then the Inquisition is nowhere closer to finding him, or you. Will you leave trail markers so others can find him too? We never leave a trail to our marks.’
‘Perhaps the Inquisition will tail me,’ Lucanis offered. There were many unknown variables about this hunt, but he didn’t need to know everything. He sighed. ‘The Inquisition has a reputation to uphold. I trust them.’
‘The Inquisition has its own spymaster,’ Illario argued.
‘But not its own Crow.’ Lucanis kept Illario’s gaze for a moment.
Finally, Illario shook his head, his shoulders slumping slightly. His eyes softened. ‘There is a shop nearby that sells small artifacts. I’m sure they contain enough magic to activate those mirrors.’
‘Thank you.’ Lucanis turned and began climbing out of the window.
‘You’re not going now, are you?’
‘When else am I supposed to go?
‘The shop is closed!’
‘I’ll drop some gold at the shop. I have no intention of stealing, only of starting this hunt as soon as possible, which means immediately.’
‘You’re forgetting one very important thing though.’ Illario placed his hands on his hips.
Lucanis rolled his eyes, suppressing a smile. He walked back to his cousin who wrapped him in a warm hug.
‘The Inquisition better have a good reason for asking you to do this. If you don’t come back from this one…’ Illario stopped, his voice cracking.
Lucanis backed away, nodding. He could feel his cousin’s gaze on him as he jumped out of the window and onto the roof. He hurried across the roof to the next one, disappearing into the night.
Lucanis’s search took him to a forest beyond Treviso. There was a specific kind of prickling associated with the Veil and to those who could play around in the Fade. He had learnt to recognise all that distinguished one kind of mage from another. A Venatori’s magic was different from a Circle mage’s. The magic here felt ancient.
Lucanis came round near a clearing and found an Eluvian leaning against a large tree. How convenient. Interesting. He used one of the small artifacts he’d taken from the shop to activate it. The mirror began to shimmer fluidly. He hesitated for a brief moment, before reaching his hand towards the mirror. It went right through it.
‘Fascinante!’ Lucanis walked through the portal-like mirror. He emerged into an area that was filled with fog and, as he had suspected, dozens upon dozens of elven mirrors. Many of them were broken; some had moss hanging over them.
Lucanis grunted as the back of his eyes prickled more intensely. The Veil was thin here. He’d been told this place was half in this world and half in the Fade. There was a distinct smell to it as well, as there was to his prey. He followed the prickling that had led him here and came to another unbroken mirror. He glanced behind him. If he was being followed, the one trailing him was very good, for he heard or sensed nothing.
Lucanis walked through the Eluvian, entering a small gully. A small path leading to a stream led him to another mirror. Then he was back in the crossroads. He entered a total of five mirrors in this way, exiting finally in what appeared to be the Deep Roads.
He hesitated, looking back at the mirror behind him. It still shimmered, he could go back. But no, he had given his word. He never backed out of a contract.
Lucanis followed the dank pathway into a large domed room. Within the room, he found a magnificent mural painted on the far wall. In the center of it, the painting was of a large wolf, gnawing down at what he assumed was the world. Lucanis noticed the stained glass that formed the wolf’s eyes. He allowed himself a sideways smile.
Something stirred to his right. Lucanis turned, ready to attack. Before him stood the elf Solas, the Dread Wolf. Lucanis tensed, however Solas made no move to attack. Instead, he lifted a bag that chinked with coins.
Suddenly, the pieces came together.
‘It was you.’ His realisation was a statement. Solas smiled meagerly, nodding. ‘The elf was one of yours. You forged the seal of the Inquisition.’ Had there not been a guarantee of payment or some form of legitimacy, Lucanis would not have taken the job. ‘Bastardo.’
Solas took a few steps towards Lucanis, holding out the bag of money. His posture was slightly hunched. Light from a nearby Veilfire torch-lit his face and Lucanis could see the ancient elf was haggard. Lucanis cautiously reached for the bag. He still didn’t understand why Solas had wanted him to find him, but Lucanis had been an assassin long enough to know when he was being tested. He simply did not know what the test was.
Solas cocked a brow, as though reading Lucanis’s query on his face. ‘So, you’ve found me at last,’ Solas said in a fatigued voice. ‘I suspect you have questions.’
Lucanis inclined his head. ‘Si.’
Solas nodded and motioned to a pair of chairs. Lucanis understood now that this was only the beginning of his actual hunt.
Lucanis rapped his fingers on the wooden table; the sound echoed in the cavernous chamber. He was leaning back on the chair, an arm resting on its top rail. The wind outside the thaig within the mountain whistled. His gloves lay on the table next to a candle that had burnt halfway down. It lit the Dread Wolf’s face with an amber glow, making the elf’s eyes look ominous in the low light contrasting the Veilfire torch that stood behind him.
Lucanis stared at Solas, keeping his expression neutral. Solas had explained to him his plan and his reasons, time had whittled away, and the silence would have been overwhelming if not for Lucanis’s rapping of his fingers. He’d been staring at his quarry for a long time. He had met very few people who could maintain eye contact with him for this long without being intimidated. He kept his head low, his eyes upward. Given he rested his mask atop his head, at this angle, his expression should have appeared more intimidating. And yet, the elf merely stared back, waiting, looking very patient.
Lucanis stopped himself from rolling his eyes. He had been hoping the elf would have broken eye contact by now.
Lucanis paused and placed his hand flat on the table, cocking his head to the side. ‘You want me to hunt beings who might not even be alive.’
‘That is correct,’ replied Solas.
‘You hunt them. Find them through the Fade.’
‘It’s not that simple, as I’ve told you. They are very well hidden, some of them may even be going by an alias. The world of dreams can only reveal so much. I have visited the memories of the places where I suspect they last were, but that did not reveal where each of them is now.’
Lucanis stared for another moment. ‘You want me to find and hunt the very beings who are the reason that blights exist.’ He said conclusively. ‘You want me,’ he stood and walked behind his chair, taking hold of its top rail, ‘to find ages-old magisters because you believe,’ he said pointing at Solas, ‘that doing so will save Thedas. From what? You? There’s obviously something you’re not telling me.’
‘It would be too easy for me to reveal all my secrets,’ said Solas.
‘Oh, sure!’ Lucanis chuckled. ‘You’ve lost your mind, old elf. Some of the seven are dead, others are missing. Two are at least searching for their old god. And who knows where the remaining fled to. And you want me to find them? Magister darkspawn. Beings like Corypheus!’ He let out a mirthless laugh.
‘You are excellent at what you do,’ said Solas. ‘You can detect magic, I’m told.’ He paused. ‘You followed my trail here.’
Lucanis leaned forward. ‘Don’t insult my intelligence.’
‘You will have access to the Eluvian network,’ said Solas, unphased.
‘And pray, tell me, since I possess no magic of my own, how will I activate these Eluvians?’
‘With this elven artifact,’ said Solas. He placed a runic key on the table that glowed with magic. It made Lucanis’s eyes sting.
Lucanis shook his head. ‘I’m sorry. You’re on your own. I’m not doing it. Hunting you was one thing, but the magisters sidereal… No.’
Lucanis took his gloves, turned on his heels, and began towards the corridor that led back the way he’d come.
‘The stakes are too high to refuse,’ Solas called after him.
‘Find someone else,’ Lucanis shouted back.
He reached the Eluvian; it shimmered. He continued forward.
‘I don’t think you understand,’ said Solas from behind him.
Lucanis glanced at the elf. Solas’s eyes glowed white, and the Eluvian’s shimmering surface darkened and cracked.
‘I’m giving you no choice.’
There was something in Solas’s tone that gave warning to danger.
Lucanis laughed joylessly. ‘I might have known.’ He turned back to face Solas. ‘They say, “May the Dread Wolf take you,” because I walked right into his trap.’ Lucanis clocked in his memory the other passage out of the room at the far end. He pressed his finger on the palm of his hand, bringing forward a hidden dart, readying himself. ‘Looks like I’m going to have to do this the hard way.’
Lucanis let the dart loose and rolled forward towards the elf’s legs. Solas barely dodged the dart in time and fell as Lucanis drove his whole weight into him. Lucanis jumped up and ran forward towards the chamber. He heard Solas take hold of his staff behind him.
Lucanis’s eyes itched so intensely it hurt him. He ducked as a bolt of ice shot past his head. He heard the staff hit the ground; Lucanis leapt sideways as lightning danced across the floor. His eyes warned him of an incoming attack just as he felt the wind knocked right out of his lungs as if a fist hit him square in the stomach. Lucanis hit the wall and had to shake his head vigorously to dispel the black dots from his vision.
‘Merde!’ he cursed.
He barrel rolled, throwing a knife at Solas. The elf stepped out of its way. Lucanis threw another knife, this time towards the midsection of the armour, where it was weaker. The elf again moved to the side. Lucanis threw two more knives, one at Solas’s face at a slight angle and the other just past the elf’s shoulder. Solas ducked sideways to avoid the first knife, placing himself right where Lucanis wanted, and the second knife plunged into the elf’s underarm.
Solas yelped in pain. Lucanis chuckled and muttered under his breath. ‘I fell for your trap, and you fell for mine.’ He turned and resumed running towards the passage he had seen.
‘You won’t get away!’ Solas called out.
‘I’ve escaped worse than you!’
Lucanis ducked again, barely missed by a bolt of ice that whizzed past his shoulder. Lucanis found the passage and veered around a corner, coming straight to the edge of a cliff. He stopped abruptly, skidding, and corrected his angle, turning to follow the railless stairs that led further into the thaig; the cliff loomed on one side, while a wall ran along the other. This had slowed him down and allowed the elf to get a few paces behind him.
He felt the itch in his eyes too late before his entire body stiffened with a cold sensation and he could no longer move.
‘You think you can escape me?’ Solas growled, contempt in his voice. ‘I am the Dread Wolf. I have demanded your help. The fate of Thedas rests on this. I thought you would be more sympathetic in wanting to save Antiva.’
‘Antiva, yes. But considering you intend on destroying this world, I am not intent on helping you.’
Lucanis felt the hold loosen, and he used his strength to break free from the ice that held him in place. He drew his sword and blocked the ancient elf’s staff as it came down on him above his head.
‘I came here thinking I was hunting to kill you,’ Lucanis said, slashing at Solas, who backed away. ‘For I am Lucanis Dellamorte, the Demon, the most dangerous assassin in all of Thedas.’ Lucanis thrust forward while sidestepping away from Solas’s staff; the elf blocked Lucanis’s arm with his own, forcing a roundabout movement. ‘And I have never missed my mark.’ He slashed low, and Solas jumped, coming up with another attack from the side. Lucanis ducked as something hit the wall next to him that sounded like rock on rock. ‘I have never failed.’ Lucanis said through gritted teeth.
He took a step closer and slashed Solas’s arm where the gauntlet met the armour and hit flesh. The elf cried out in pain, dropping his staff. Lucanis kicked Solas, who teetered precariously on the edge of the stairs above the cliff. Lucanis grabbed hold of Solas, one arm behind him, and rested his sword on the elf’s throat with the other. If he let go, Solas would fall.
‘I understand now why your allies have abandoned you, Solas. You trap them with lies and subterfuge. Who wants a deceitful ally?’
‘They have not abandoned me!’ Solas barked back through clenched teeth.
‘Oh? Where are they, then? Your so-called friends? You betrayed them, you lied to them, like you lied to me, lured me here. You expect me to let you get away with this?’ Lucanis added pressure with his sword to press his point. ‘I’ve got you, Dread Wolf.’
‘Killing me won’t interrupt my ritual.’ Solas replied quickly. ‘It has already begun, and the Veil will still come down.’
‘Then we will have to prepare for that,’ said Lucanis.
‘And you think you’ll know how to save Thedas once the Fade and the world become one again?’
‘I will save Thedas by killing the very being who is threatening it!’
‘And what tells you I’m not trying to save it!’ Solas shouted angrily.
Lucanis was momentarily surprised by the elf’s tone. And then cursed himself for that brief moment of distraction, for Solas took advantage and thrust himself forward. He kicked Lucanis in the gut, sending him tumbling down some steps.
‘I’m trying to save Thedas from a worse fate!’ said Solas.
‘More lies,’ said Lucanis, standing up again. He winced in pain but ignored the bruises.
He lunged forward towards Solas with his sword. Solas’s eyes glowed again, and he kicked the sword; it clattered to the floor. Solas grabbed Lucanis by the neck, pinning him against the wall. His knee came up at Lucanis’s stomach, the elf’s strong arm choking the assassin. Lucanis coughed, right before he felt another invisible rock hit him in the abdomen. He coughed again.
Solas got right in his face. ‘You’re lucky I need you alive.’
‘Pity for you, I require you dead.’ Lucanis drove a hidden knife towards the side of Solas’s neck, but the elf put his hand up at the last moment, and the knife merely bounced off the armoured hand. Lucanis stabbed again, and plunged the knife into the elf’s gauntlet through the weak point at the fingers. Solas shouted as he plucked the knife out. Lucanis kicked Solas and continued to run up the stairs towards what he hoped led to the exit.
He glanced behind him and saw Solas lift his arms into the air. A formation of the stairs separated and lifted into the air, drifting apart and away. The stairs were now a dead end.
Lucanis whirled on Solas, squaring his shoulders. He gripped his sword more tightly as the elf slowly walked up the stairs towards him.
‘Please don’t make this harder on yourself,’ said Solas.
‘Harder on me, or harder on you?’
Solas levelled his staff, and a bolt hit Lucanis in the face. The assassin spat blood onto the stone steps, staring at the elf. Solas waved his weapon again, and Lucanis fell to his knees, feeling another wound open up and bleed.
‘I don’t need to touch you to kill you,’ said Solas. ‘I am more powerful than you know.’
‘Says the elf whom I could have dropped to his death.’ Lucanis looked up at Solas defiantly.
An idea came to mind, and he sneered. He rolled forward and right into Solas, barreling down the stairs, both of them tumbling, tangled, and Lucanis kicked Solas, setting another dart loose. Solas fell and slipped over the bedrock, his hands gripping the edge of the stairs, legs dangling into the void beneath him.
Lucanis kicked Solas’s chin. Solas’s head snapped back and his hands slipped from his grip.
Lucanis took a deep breath, staring at the elf’s form as the elf plummeted to his death. Lucanis didn’t know how far down it went, but he knew these stairs were very high up. He turned his neck from side to side, cracking it. He stared until he could no longer see Solas’s falling form.
‘Time to get back to Treviso,’ he said to himself.
He began to turn, but something caught his eye. He quickly looked back into the depths of the abyss and saw a red glow. No, three…wait, six red glows. A black shape was moving fast, moving upwards, with black tendrils like smoke reaching upwards, and the red eyes were staring at him. Lucanis took a few cautious steps back. The giant demon form of a wolf with red eyes rose from the bottomless pit, its voice deep and growling.
‘You cannot begin to know how to defeat the Dread Wolf!’ it bellowed at him. Lucanis swallowed hard. The demon was immense.; it reached a paw towards Lucanis.
‘Shit!’ he whispered. Lucanis jerked back.
‘You cannot fathom the power I possess.’ Its eyes smoked, and tendrils snaked their way towards Lucanis.
The assassin took another step back and realised his back was against the wall. He began to tremble. For the first time in a very long time, Lucanis felt fear, an uncontrollable fear.
The tendrils reached Lucanis and wrapped around him, some entered his nostrils, and Lucanis shouted out in pain as he felt the insides of his body invaded with a force of magic.
‘The Dread Wolf will take you!’ the demon’s voice reverberated.
Lucanis’s body lifted off the ground, his back arched. He screamed in pain, and then something flashed blindingly before everything went dark.
“The Demon Hunts the God” is written by Celinka Serre (2021).
Disclaimer: This story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Dragon Age. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the Dragon Age universe belong to Bioware and EA. This fan-fiction story falls under Fair Use.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.