Authors: David Gaider
Tags: #Magic, #Insurgency, #Fantasy Fiction, #Dragons, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Imaginary Wars and Battles, #Epic, #Media Tie-In
Dragon Age – Book Three
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Table of Contents
A S U N D E R
Tor books by David Gaider
Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne Dragon Age:
The CallingDragon Age: Asunder
A S U N D E R
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
NEW YORK Dragon Age, the Dragon Age logo, BioWare, and the BioWare logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. in the United States, Canada, and other countries. EA is a trademark or registered trademark of Electronic Arts Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Dragon Age: Asunder
Copyright © 2011 by Electronic Arts, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A Tor Book Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10010
www .tor -forge .com
Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
ISBN 978- 0- 7653- 3117- 5
First Edition: December 2011
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
I am the Ghost of the Spire. It was an unpleasant thought, one Cole had turned over and over again in his mind. They said ghosts didn't exist, that the dead didn't really walk amongst the living, but some people believed in them even so. They believed a dead man could become lost on his way to the Maker's side, forever adrift in a land of shadow.
Cole wasn't dead. Yet at the same time, he didn't exist, and he walked amongst the living.
He'd overheard a pair of mages talking about him once, even if they'd no idea they were doing so. He'd discovered them late at night, huddled in one of the White Spire's dark hallways. There were many such hidden corners in the great tower, places where mages went to escape from the suspicious eyes of watching templars, and Cole knew them all.
Cole knew far less about the mages themselves. He knew, however, they'd taken a great risk sneaking out of their chambers. Few of the tower's templars were kind, and most believed that mages constantly conspired to commit unspeakable horrors . . . when the truth was usually much more mundane. Most of their conversation consisted of gossip. The mages whispered secrets to each other, sometimes idle speculation about romantic entanglements and other times much more serious things they knew to be true but could never talk about in the open. Occasionally he came upon mages meeting for a romantic liaison instead. They secretly pressed flesh upon flesh, a desperate act of intimacy between people for whom such fleeting moments could only be stolen.
He'd found the pair who spoke of him only by chance, overhearing their muted whispers as he passed in the shadows. One was a homely woman with long hair the color of straw, the other a gangly elven boy. Both he recognized, but only by sight. They were older apprentices, the sort who had little talent for magic and who'd already spent too long preparing for the inevitable. Someday soon they would be called away by the templars for their final ordeal, and Cole would never see them again . . . or he'd see them roaming the halls as emotionless Tranquil, stripped of their abilities and doomed to spend their lives in passive ser vice to their tormentors.
Cole remembered the dread in their eyes. The homely woman sported a bruise on her cheek, its mottled purple already beginning to fade. From their hiding place the pair watched furtively for any sign of wandering guards, starting at the slightest sound. Even the skittering of a passing rat caused them to jump, yet they did not budge from their hiding place.
For all their alertness, they'd been completely oblivious to Cole's approach. Not that he expected anything different. He'd walked right up beside them, leaning in close to listen.
"I tell you I saw it," the woman insisted, her voice tinged with awe. "I was walking through the lower passages to get a book for Enchanter Garlen, and there it was."
"The ghost." The elven boy didn't bother to hide his incredulity.
"Oh, there can be dragons but not ghosts?" Her voice grew indignant. "The Chantry doesn't know everything! There are things in the Fade they couldn't possibly begin to—"
"It could have been a demon."
She paused, her face blanching in sudden fear. "But . . . it didn't try to speak with me. I don't think it even saw me. I thought maybe it was a visitor, someone who'd gotten lost, but when I followed it around the corner it was just gone."
The elven boy frowned, his voice lowering to a whisper difficult even for Cole to overhear. "You know what they teach us. When a demon comes, it won't seem harmful at first. It'll be something to make you curious, until later when it begins to corrupt you. . . ."
She stared off, her mouth pressing thin with worry. She looked right through Cole, but only a single thought ran through his mind:
Did she really see me?
The elven boy sighed and hugged her close, murmuring comforting words about how he didn't mean anything by his warning. Maybe she was right. The woman nodded numbly, fighting back tears. "What did it look like?" he eventually asked.