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.“Then you’ll have a lot to learn,” Caronel said.“If you become Wardens, your primary duty will, of course, be protecting the people of Thedas from the depredations of darkspawn.Not only will you have to fight against them personally, but you will have to lead others in that fight.You will need to know everything about them: their types, their tactics, and all we know about their origins and abilities.” The elf paused.“You’re all mages, so I assume you can read?”Valya nodded, as did her companions.Caronel gave them another approving glance.“Very good.Then, until it’s time for you to undergo the Joining, you can earn your keep—and perhaps begin to learn something useful—in our libraries.”“Earn our keep how?” Sekah asked.“The Chamberlain of the Grey has requested your assistance with his research,” Caronel said.“You should be honored to assist.It’s something to do with blood magic, I gather, although the chamberlain’s being tight-lipped about the details.Old, whatever it is.But you mages love old books, don’t you? You should have a grand time with it.All that … parchment.And dust.”“Blood magic?” Sekah echoed in a whisper, casting a nervous look to Valya.She shared the younger boy’s unspoken sentiments.Blood mages were feared and reviled across Thedas, for their magic drew upon pain and sacrifice, and could often be used to control the minds or bodies of others.If whatever this was involved darkspawn, too …Valya had never heard of darkspawn possessing such magic.She had always thought they were mindless brutes, and blood magic required considerable sophistication.“Something like that,” Caronel said.“You’ll be looking for accounts where Wardens acted … strangely.Disregarding their orders, abandoning their posts, things of that nature.You’ll also be looking for mentions of unusual darkspawn—ones who could talk and think like men.These things may occur together or separately.It doesn’t matter.Make note of both.“Not everyone who witnessed such things would have recognized them for what they were, of course.The accounts may be cryptic, and prone to exaggeration or distortion.But any reference you can find would be helpful.I understand that it may be difficult to distinguish incidents where Wardens inexplicably absconded from ordinary desertions, or from outposts that were massacred during the fighting.I also understand that the language may present some difficulty, as you’ll be focusing on materials that may be several centuries old.Do your best.”“When would you like us to begin?” Valya asked.“Today,” Caronel replied.He stood, brushing invisible wrinkles from his deep blue tunic.“As soon as you’re done eating, in fact.”The conversation died out after that.Valya, alight with nervous excitement, had to force herself to swallow her food.As hungry as she’d been before, the bread and cheese now seemed as flavorless as sawdust.When they’d finished eating, Caronel led them from their room down a long dusty hallway.To their right, the stone walls were hung with tapestries of plate-clad Wardens mounted on griffons and raining death down on armies of shrieking darkspawn.To the left, archers’ slits allowed just enough sunlight to bring out the tapestries’ faded hues.Weapons were mounted between some of the tapestries.They looked like darkspawn weapons: savagery crystallized in black, cruel and clumsy and terrifying.Old stains covered their blades.Blood, maybe.Or something worse.Valya couldn’t tell.Shivering, she averted her eyes.“You have to look,” Sekah whispered by her elbow.The boy’s eyes were fixed on a dented, bloodied shield.“You have to bear witness and understand why it is so important to stop them.The Joining, the Calling … it’s all worthwhile if it holds back the darkspawn.Once you understand what they are.”Valya shook her head, her lips pressed tightly.But she looked up, briefly, at the ancient weapons nailed to the walls, and the tapestries that commemorated the grisly battles in which those weapons had presumably been taken.And then she cast her eyes downward, shivering again, and kept her gaze fixed on her own toes as Caronel led them away through the hall and down a sweeping flight of stairs and into Weisshaupt’s great library.It was an awe-inspiring sight, more of a cathedral than a library.Huge vaulted windows overlooked an adjacent courtyard and flooded the interlocking chambers with cloudy sunlight.Rows upon rows of gray stone shelves, all heavily laden with yellowing books and bone-encased scrolls, stretched for a seeming infinity in front of the mages.Chandeliers of scented candles hung from creaking iron frames overhead, filling the library with the mingled fragrance of beeswax, cedarwood, and old smoke.The walls were richly carved with heraldic griffons and ancient coats of arms and ornamental plants—oranges, pomegranates, and plump juicy grapes.All the fruits that the sculptor missed in the arid Anderfels, Valya guessed.“You’ll begin with materials from the Fourth Blight,” Caronel said, leading them to a smaller chamber that opened off the side of the main library.“The older records are beyond most of us.If you’ve made a study of ancient languages, we’d be glad to have you look at those … but I’m guessing that you haven’t, in which case the chronicles from the Fourth Blight will be difficult enough.”He stood beside the archway and waved them in.Leather-bound books in uniform rows covered the shelves that lined the chamber’s upper halves.They had the look of official histories, recorded after the fact by scribes in quiet rooms.Underneath those neat gray tomes, enormous ironbound trunks rested against the walls.Two of them were open, revealing a clutter of books, papers, scraps of parchment, and other miscellany that appeared to have been loosely sorted by size but was otherwise unorganized.“The trunks contain primary materials [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]