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Title: Sunfall: Kirkwall
Fandom: Dragon Age, Sunfall
Length: ~ 2.7K
Rating: General Audiences
Pairings/Characters: Rowan/Loghain Mac Tir, Fiona/Maric Theirin, Alistair/Female Amell, Leliana/Female Tabris, Anders/Hawke, Fenris/Male Hawke, Female Lavellan/Solas, Anora Mac Tir/Cailan Theirin, Briala/Celene I, Yavanna
Content: fusion fic, Omniscient Narrator, Fatalism, Dystopia, Suicide, Death, lots of death, Reincarnation, death again, screwed up relationships, experimental writing style, Unhappy, Not Funny, pointlessness of immortality
Summary: Fusion with CJ Cherryh's Sunfall. It mostly draws on "The Only Death In The City" subbing in parts of "The General" for some of the squickier weirdness and a touch of "Ice."

The sun had grown dim and faded with time. The world grew tired. The barriers between one life and the next grew thin enough to disappear. Everything has been done before. There is nothing new in the world. No new people. No new choices. And only one way out.


The world grew old. The sky grew dim and filled with green flashes of light. Kirkwall stood under the fading sky as it always had. People walked its streets as they always had. They grew old. They died. They were born again. And again. And again. Souls worn thin with the journey from cradle to grave to cradle. The world outside the city faded to a dream.

Then they began to remember.

Kieran had died a year ago. It was expected when Moira looked into the eyes of her newborn son and saw that once again, Loghain had returned to the city. This time Maric was his brother.

It had happened before. She sighed, watching her sons continue an argument whose beginning she could no longer remember.

Sometimes Katriel didn’t join them for a cycle. The first time, they had hoped the pattern would be different without her. But the novelty had left that too. She would join them or not. She would die by her own hand or Loghain’s or Maric’s or Rowan’s or Moira’s or Fiona’s. It hardly mattered anymore.

Once, twice, countless times, Maric and Fiona had gazed into one another’s eyes and recognized the soul gazing back. They had flung themselves passionately into a romance. They had decided they were better as friends. They had taken revenge on each other for waiting too long and not waiting long enough.

This time, Loghain saw Rowan at the market and she saw him. She did not run. She had run too many times. He never failed to follow.

“Yes, I will marry you,” she greeted him. Her eyes held no hope that this would end happily. Once, twice, countless times they had lived to an old age surrounded by dogs and grandchildren. There were worse patterns. There was Katriel’s.

Rowan had been married many times. Small, intimate gatherings. Large, flashy affairs. To Loghain. To Maric. To the first man who said yes and wasn’t either of them. Through one twist or another it always led back to Maric and Loghain.

Celia was at the wedding this time. She was three rows back from the front where Loghain and Rowan made their vows. If Loghain and Celia outlived Rowan, they might marry again. If not this time, then perhaps the next.

Katriel found Maric at the reception. She sang as she had been hired to do and went home with the brother of the groom. Three days later, Moira was dead. In the midst of an argument about cleaning out their mother’s room, Loghain and Maric knocked over a bookcase. It was purely by luck that lamp on it hit Katriel at precisely the right angle to break her neck.

Everyone knew she’d be back.

This time, Maric did not meet Flemeth. Once, wandering the garden of his mother’s estate, he thought he saw a small girl but he didn’t get close enough to see which soul she had. He was glad of that.

Fiona and her brother Duncan worked near the docks where the ships never came anymore. The horizon faded sea and sky together as one blur of blue and green and grey. The water was flat and the air without wind. As the world had faded, they had found magical means to replenish the city’s supply of food and water. The docks remained as they had been.

Nearly everyone spent a cycle now and then by the docks, staring at the Gallows. It held the only way out. Few took it.

After Katriel’s death, Maric went for a walk by the docks to clear his head and consider the way out. He recognized Duncan first, then Fiona.

“She’ll be back,” Fiona reassured him. She looked in the direction of the Gallows. “Will you?”

“I think so,” Maric said and sighed.

Once, twice, countless times, Alistair had been Rowan’s son, Fiona’s, Loghain’s, Maric’s, Duncan’s, Eamon’s, Wynne’s. This time, Cailan and Alistair were Maric and Fiona’s sons. Rowan and Loghain had no children. It had happened before.

“I’m glad for the rest,” Rowan told Fiona after Cailan’s birth. “I love him but it’s such work getting him here.”

Fiona did not marry Maric. She stayed with him in the house he shared with Loghain and Rowan, watching their boys grow. Then Cailan found Celene. Two minutes later he found Anora. After all, this time they were sisters. Fiona kissed Alistair goodbye on his forehead and left a note for Maric and Cailan.

None of them were surprised. She had stayed a shorter time. She had stayed a longer time. She would be back. If not this cycle, then the next.

Maric walked down to stare out at the Gallows.

“Not yet,” Duncan said quietly, coming up on Maric’s right.

“Sooner all the time,” Maric told him and turned away.

Celene and Briala’s pattern was known far and wide. They had avoided each other, killed each other, died by Gaspard’s hand or Loghain’s or Florianne’s, and betrayed each other every time. They never gave their hearts to anyone else. In the previous cycle, Briala had murdered Celene and died with the name on her lips days later when she was caught. Or maybe it had been the time before. It was trite.

Cailan married Anora again. Neither of them said a word about all the times she had left him and he had left her. Neither of them said much of anything about the previous cycles he spent pursuing other women or the ones where she married his brother. She would win again sooner or later. He was bored and wanted to get it over with.

A week later, Maric saw a girl in the garden. It might have been the same one. There were so many. This one or this time she came close enough for him to recognize her.

“It’s time,” Yavanna said quietly and firmly.

“And if I say no?” Maric asked by rote.

“Then I come again another night and another and another. Should it last the rest of your life, I come again in the next.” Yavanna said calmly.

Maric looked back at the house where he could see Loghain and Rowan with their heads bent together while Alistair demonstrated fencing moves for them. “Why must we repeat our mistakes?”

“Who says they’re mistakes?” the witch asked and began walking away.

Maric followed her to the Gallows. The way out was not for him.

Typically, Alistair married one of eight women. Sometimes he decided to simply walk away, wandering off to the faded grey of the Wounded Coast where he wouldn’t be seen again until the next cycle. Sometimes he wandered down into a bottle and refused to come back out. Sometimes, if Teagan was present, he could coax Alistair back into sobriety. Sometimes he was Kieran’s father. Other times, he was childless but happy so long as he could be with the woman he adored that cycle.

This time it was Solona. They met at one of Anora’s parties. Alistair was never quite sure what criteria Duncan used to select the person he brought to meet Alistair. Sometimes the newcomer was ruthless and calculating. Other times they were eager to make peace and overwhelmed with events. Sometimes a woman and sometimes not.

Solona Amell had grown up in Lowtown this time. She grew up among her cousins in a house that smelled like cabbage.

There had been a time when Duncan had been reluctant to make the choice. That time had long since passed. Once, twice, countless times, he had refrained from involving himself and unleashed events that caused Alistair to die by Leliana’s side or in a riot or by Cailan’s hand or Celene’s or Loghain’s. Again and again he had stood over Alistair’s grave.

This time, he chose Solona. A flip of the coin, a roll of the dice. He’d chosen them all again and again. He knew which ones they were, heard the witch whispering their names into his ear. Women or not, he knew them.

“I’ll need a dress,” Solona told Duncan before he’d said a word. She ignored the glares of the guardsmen surrounding her, blades at her throat and Jowan’s. They knew what Duncan’s presence meant.

Morrigan invited herself to the party as she always did. She watched the dancers sway, colors moving in time to a pulse. As everything did. “We are all fools,” she murmured to herself.

Zevran’s gang leader told him to kill Rinnala and he did it. She always stole from their employer, he always killed her for it. He tried to make it painless. It would be some time before she returned to play her part again. If she objected, there was always the Gallows.

Solona and Alistair were Zevran’s next targets. After killing Rinnala, there was nothing left to do but throw himself into killing Alistair and his companion. Sometimes they were merciful and killed him outright. Sometimes they killed him at length. Sometimes he discovered love only for the cycle to end.

He had loved Solona in countless cycles. This was not one of them. She would help Zevran kill Taliesin and with him, Zevran’s hope that this cycle would make a difference.

Zevran would not go to the Gallows. He would not hide himself from what he’d done.

No one could prove whether Loghain killed Cailan on purpose. They never could. Loghain had successfully avoided it in the past by leaving the city, following the flashing lights in the sky. In those cycles, Celene or Gaspard or Rendon Howe killed Cailan. Even in death, Cailan looked weary.

Anora didn’t say a word to Alistair. She stared at him blankly, daring him to say something.

“He will be back,” Alistair said dully.

In countless cycles, Leliana had found love with Solona Amell. This time, she found it with Kallian Tabris. It wasn’t the first time one of Duncan’s passed over choices had survived his choosing. Once, he had had hope that this meant something. Cycle after cycle, one or two or five or seven survived his decision. There had been a time when it had meant he wasn’t choosing who lived and who died. That comfort had worn thin, frayed, snapped.

The city always erupted in riots after Bann Vaughan’s death. This time, Kallian brandished her knife in front of the crowd as Leliana lined up her shot. There was nothing breathless about the way they fell together. It was the swing of a door that had worn its own groove. The cycle would end and next time Kallian might be just another woman abducted and murdered.

Leliana’s arrow hit Vaughan square in the eye and the world turned to fire and blood. It seemed the thing to do.

When Rowan died in the rioting, Loghain did what he always did when he lost her. The result from there was like an avalanche crashing to the bottom of a mountain, unstoppable and devastating.

When Alistair and Loghain picked up their shields and swords and squared off against each other, there was a listlessness in their movements. Solona and Anora watched with eyes like stone.

At the end, the expression on Loghain’s face was something like relief. The expression on Alistair’s was something like disgust.

“He’ll be back,” Anora told Alistair.

Even the times when Alistair had loved Solona until she took Loghain’s side, there had stopped being anything unexpected about this moment.

There had been a time when Solona had killed Anders whenever they met. Sometimes he had simply looked into her eyes while she did it. Others he had run. He had fought back, he had tried to hide. The only thing he had never done was go to the Gallows. When the Wardens had failed to kill Anders, Varric had done it himself. Or Hawke or Cullen or Meredith or Sebastian or Aveline or Thrask or Karras or Cassandra or Leliana or one of a number of people who had lost loved ones when Anders had committed his crime.

Once, twice, countless times, Hawke had gazed lovingly into Anders’s eyes and slid the blade between his ribs. Over and over, Varric had stood with one of Bianca’s quarrels in Anders’s chest and muttered, “shit, blondie.”

The only difference was that Anders wasn’t the one who started the next set of riots. Hatred, anger, and betrayal grew faded and worn thin. Flimsy. It crumbled into dust.

Meredith drove Orsino to turn into a Harvester in public. Orsino drove Meredith to imprison members of noble families who had produced mage children. Again and again, people assassinated Orsino and Meredith and Elthina in ways beyond number. Sometimes people tried to stop the crisis by killing Viscount Dumarr or Aveline or Bran.

The city still erupted into chaos. Many times, Hawke was left to destroy whatever remnant of authority was left in Kirkwall. Other times, the city simply burned.

And so cycles began where Anders lived long enough to burn the Chantry. Whenever Hawke or Varric asked him why, he only said, “It had to be done.”

This time it was Fenris Hawke reached out to and Fenris who stood at Hawke’s side as he struck down Orsino. It had been Isabela and Sebastian and Tallis and Merrill before.

Fenris hunched in on himself as a hole opened in the sky again, like an eye that watched the city. There was swirling green energy in the cyclone tapered into darkness and then… above that there was nothing at all. When he looked at Hawke, his expression was numb. “You’re going away again.”

“Maybe it will be different this time,” Hawke said by habit.

“You’ve said that before.”

“I mean it.”

“You always do except when you don’t.” Fenris snorted. In cycles beyond counting Hawke had given him back to Danarius, killed him, hated him. That this one did not was of great consequence and no note. It was bound to happen again and Fenris was bound to die by Hawke’s hand again. “Meeting you was the most important thing to ever happen to me.”

Hawke pulled Fenris into a kiss and walked away to find where the Inquisition was convening this time and if anyone was going to show up.

Sometimes too many were dead or the weight of too many cycles caught up to too many at once. Then the Inquisitor faced that gaping wound in the sky alone. No one could remember what happened if the Inquisitor failed. There was no way of knowing if the entire city started over again or if in all the twists and turns each cycle had taken, no Inquisitor had ever failed.

“We’re not waiting for the others,” Ellana Lavellan announced, green fire sparking from her hand and Edric Cadash by her side.

Solona, Alistair, Hawke, Morrigan, Cassandra, and Dorian looked at one another.

“Alright, I’ll be the one to ask,” Dorian said tiredly. “What’s our plan?”

“We go to the Gallows,” Ellana said, green light playing off her green Sylaise vallaslin.

“We’ve been to the Gallows before,” Cassandra objected. “It changes nothing.”

“First of all, do any of you remember the Gallows? Secondly, I meant now. Not after I close the breach, not after we face Corypheus. Right now.” Ellana gave them all a hard look. “Who’s with me?”

“I’m in,” Alistair said with barely a pause.

“Of course I remember the Gallows,” Hawke said, over Morrigan’s dismissive jab at Alistair. “It’s a difficult place to forget.”

“Since the fading of the world?” Ellana challenged.

“I…,” Hawke trailed off, frowning.

“We go to the Gallows then,” Cassandra said, nodding at Ellana.

The passage over the water seemed to take a small eternity. The salt spray was grey and the sky was angry. By the time they disembarked in the old prison, it was night. The breach drowned out the feeble light of the stars.

Ellana strode through to the courtyard. A red lyrium statue stood in the center, face turned to the breach.

Ellana’s eyes flashed angrily. “Show yourself.”

Out of the shadows, a woman with dark hair and fair skin emerged. “You never understood anything, sister,” Yavanna told Morrigan. “Come,” she said to the rest of them.

“And we’re just going to follow the creepy woman into the prison at night,” Alistair muttered. “We deserve whatever happens.” The blood drained from his face when he recognized his father sitting in a smaller courtyard further in.

Maric’s hair and beard had grown wild and his cheeks had sunk into hollows. Only Solona kept Alistair from rushing to his side.

Ellana was staring intently at the cracked orb in Maric’s hands. The crack was barely a hairline

From an upper doorway, Solas appeared. “I am sorry, ma vhenan. It was never supposed to be this way.”


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December 2016

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