Unknown: Dragon Age

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Dragon Age: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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DAVID GAIDER

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK

NEW YORK

BIOWARE™

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: THE STOLEN THRONE

Copyright © 2009 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-13: 978-0-7653-2408-5

ISBN-10: 0-7653-2408-3

First Edition: March 2009

Printed in the United States of America

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For my Oma

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First off, a big thanks to my cheerleaders Jordan, Steph, Danielle, and Cindy. Without you I would not have persevered. Also thanks to my parents for being so certain that all those games would never lead to anything useful yet letting me get away with playing them anyhow. You encouraged my imagination, and that’s more important that anything. I will always be grateful to you both.

Thanks canot be said without acknowledging the hard work that the Dragon Age team has put into bringing this world to life. Each day I spend in the company of such visionary and creative people makes me more proud of what we’re creating. You guys have made my job that much easier.

Also, one last thank-you to BioWare for giving me such a fantastic opportunity, and for being the kind of game company that believes writing is something worth investing in.

1

“Run, Maric!”

And run he did.

His mother’s dying words whipped him into action. The image of her grisly murder still burning in his mind, Maric reeled and plunged into the trees at the edge of the clearing. Ignoring the clawing branches that scraped at his face and clung to his cloak, he blindly forced his way into the foliage.

Strong hands grabbed him from behind. One of his mother’s men, or one of the traitors who had just orchestrated her death? He assumed the latter. Grunting with effort, Maric shoved back, struggling to dislodge the hold on him. He succeeded only in getting a few more branches striking him in the face, the leaves blinding him further. The hands attempted to haul him back into the clearing, and he dug his boots into the ground, gaining a bit of purchase on gnarled tree roots. Maric violently shoved back again, his elbow connecting with something hard . . . something that gave way with a wet crunching sound and a startled grunt of pain.

The hands loosened, and Maric leaped forward into the trees. His cloak resisted, jerked him back. Something had caught on his long leather coat. He twisted and fought frantically, like a wild beast caught in a trap, until he somehow wriggled himself out, leaving the cloak torn on a branch. Maric gasped, launching himself into the darkness beyond the clearing without risking even a glance behind. The forest was old and thick, allowing only the faintest beams of moonlight through the dense canopy. It was not enough to see by, only enough to turn the forest into a maze of frightening shadows and silhouettes. Tall twisted oaks stood like dark sentinels, surrounded by dense bushes and recesses so black, they could have held almost anything.

He had no idea where he was going; only his urge to flee guided his feet. He stumbled over roots that jutted out of the uneven ground and bounced off solid tree trunks that kept springing out of nowhere. Wet and slippery mud made his steps treacherous and his balance so precarious, it seemed the ground might give way beneath him at any moment. The woods were completely disorienting. He could have been running in circles, for all he knew. Maric heard men shouting as they entered the woods behind him, giving chase, and he could clearly make out the sounds of fighting as well. Steel blade ringing on steel blade, the cries of men dying—his mother’s men, many he had known his entire life.

As he frantically ran on, images kept whirling through Maric’s mind. Moments ago, he had been shivering in the cold forest clearing, convinced that his presence at the clandestine meeting was more a formality than anything else. He barely paid attention to the proceedings. His mother had informed him earlier that with the support of these new men, the rebellion would finally become a force. These men were willing to turn on their Orlesian masters, she said, and that made it an opportunity she wasn’t willing to pass up after so many years spent running and hiding and only picking what battles they could win. Maric hadn’t objected to the meeting, and the idea that it might be risky never even occurred to him. His mother was the infamous Rebel Queen; it was she who had first inspired the rebellion, and she who led the army. The battle had always been hers and never his. He, himself, had never even seen his grandfather’s throne, never understood the power his family had possessed before the Orlesians invaded. He had spent his entire eighteen years in rebel camps and remote castles, endlessly marching and forever being dragged along in his mother’s wake. He couldn’t even imagine what it might be like to not live that way; it was a completely foreign concept to him.

And now his mother was dead. Maric’s balance was ripped from him, and he tumbled in darkness down a short hill covered in wet leaves. He slid awkwardly and slammed his head against a rock, crying out in pain. His vision swam.

From far off came a muffled answering cry of his pursuers. They had heard him.

Maric lay there in the moonlit shadows, cradling his head. It felt like it was on fire, a raging inferno that blotted out reason. He cursed himself for being so stupid. By sheer luck if nothing else, he had managed to run some distance into the forest, and now he had given away his location. There was a thick wetness on his fingers. Blood was caking in his hair and running down around his ears and neck—warm in sharp contrast with the frosty air.

For a moment he shook, a single sob escaping his lips. Maybe it was best just to lie here, he thought. Let them come and kill him, too. They had already killed his mother and earned whatever lavish reward the usurper had surely promised them. What was he, besides an extra body to be slaughtered along with the too-few men Mother had brought? And then he froze as a terrible realization settled at the edge of his consciousness.

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