howtoactfereldan: (the loyal shield)
Cullen ([personal profile] howtoactfereldan) wrote2016-12-03 07:02 pm

(no subject)

Divine Justinia had expressed her desire to meet Cullen, and he meant it when he told Cassandra that he didn't have a problem with it, and wouldn't.

But the crossing of the Waking Sea is hard on him. The first time he made the journey he wasn't off the lyrium. This time, he can't abide the enclosed spaces belowdecks, and he's seasick, and he's not taking lyrium. Withdrawal symptoms that ordinarily could be borne with the aid of a little elfroot expand into mild disasters, and he does his best to avoid Cassandra on the ship. He's in no mood to be chastised.

When they finally come to Val Royeaux, two weeks later, he's ill, and weak. He asks Cassandra for a little time before meeting the Divine.

The question then becomes how to fill it.

***


At thirteen, Cullen left his family and the small village far to the south in Ferelden. From that point forward, he was with the Templar Order. This means that Cullen has never walked the streets of a city with no assigned task to complete, no responsibility to fulfill.

He needs the exercise, after the difficult crossing. And of course there's Ci, who needs regular walks, and who also needs experience obeying Cullen's commands even in interesting crowds.

When he's steady enough on his feet -- when he's gone a full day without throwing up -- when Leliana and Cassandra are closeted in meetings -- Cullen leaves the cloisters attached to the Grand Cathedral, and goes to explore the city.

***


The Summer Bazaar is indeed quite impressive, with its lion statues and white marble and eight silks sweeping grandly over the center plaza. The small dramas performed in the plaza, in contrast, are terrible, and as the dramas attract the nobility, Cullen quickly grows tired of the haughty sniffs and outraged handkerchief flutters that are the result of a Fereldan's presence (in the company of a mabari, no less!).

He visits a bookseller, picks up a pamphlet that doesn't look boring, and goes to Le Masque du Lion, just off the Bazaar, to sit with an Antivan coffee and some small cakes and read. Periodically Cullen feeds one of the cakes to Ci, at his feet. Better to be part of the furniture at a cafe than a freak of nature in the plaza.

***


Cullen quickly finds that there are parts of Val Royeaux where he might actually feel comfortable. The quarter housing the University of Orlais has additional booksellers -- ones who stock treatises by the university's scholars, as well as scholars from Nevarra and Starkhaven (and even Tevinter). He picks out a few works on applied mathematics and engineering, and walks out with them wrapped up as a parcel, and carries them by a string.

More time at the cafe, then, working through problem sets. He can follow the steps. His mind quiets. Ci makes friends with a cat, and is happy to serve as the cat's bed for a few hours.

***


Another day he finds a public garden, and -- miraculously -- sits and writes a letter to his sister. In a fit of sentimentality, he surreptitiously plucks a wildflower, presses it within the pages --

-- pages, plural --

-- and drops it off at a courier's before going back to the cloisters.

***


In her last letter, his elder sister mentioned that their younger brother would soon have a child. It's near impossible to find a stuffed mabari in Val Royeaux. Cullen knows. He tried.

He settles on a stuffed ram, with fat legs and a roly-poly body, and sends that along.

***


The days grow longer. Cullen walks the city, and goes several days without speaking to anyone but Ci.

And a moment arrives where Cullen realizes he hasn't thought of Kirkwall all day. Not even once.