pariswriter: (Default)
Title:  The Ferelden Chronicles - Chapter Seven
Author:  ParisWriter
Game:  Dragon Age: Origins
Summary:  Varia Surana thought her life had already been mapped out for her. She would be a mage of the Circle of Ferelden, studying and perfecting her craft. However, an unforseen series of events sends her headlong into a world thrown into chaos by the King's death and an impending Blight.
Rating:  T/PG-13
Pairings:  Cullen/Surana; eventual Alistair/Surana
Characters (This Chapter):  Varia Surana, Jowan, Lily, First Enchanter Irving, Knight-Commander Greagoir, Duncan, Cullen, Rylock, Kester
Disclaimer:  Dragon Age characters, settings, and any dialogue taken from the game ©BioWare. Varia belongs to me.   
Content Warning:  Mage Origin Spoilers; Overall game spoilers; Adult language; Mild violence; mature content in later chapters

In this chapter: Varia is shocked when Jowan reveals the true nature of his magic, and she makes the tough decision to leave the one she loves and all that she has ever known behind in order to save her own life.


Chapter Seven: Leaving It All Behind

Varia lagged several feet behind Jowan and Lily as the three of them left the lower chambers, wringing her hands and keeping her head lowered so that they wouldn't notice the tears in her eyes. This was it. Soon, they would reach the door they had entered through, and then the Jowan she knew and loved would be taken from her. He would no longer be someone she could talk to about magic - or anything else, for that matter - but he would instead serve as an everyday reminder of her betrayal of his friendship by working with Owain and the other tranquil mages around the tower.

She bit back a sob, hating herself for what she had been forced to become. Anders often complained that Irving was too willing to bend to the will of the Chantry, but she had always defended her mentor, thinking he did what he felt was best to guide the mages in his care along the right path. Now, she was no better than him. She would be lucky if any of the other mages in the tower ever spoke to her again after they learned what she had done. Even if it hadn't been her idea, she had still gone along with it – the First Enchanter's star pupil, now his perfect little puppet.

She still had a small bit of hope inside her, though. Perhaps Irving hadn't been able to convince Greagoir to wait with him for the three of them to emerge from the lower chambers. Maybe the Knight-Commander was busy or they'd gotten hung up somewhere along the way. If that was the case, she would distract the two templars who usually guarded the front entryway and help Jowan and Lily get out of the tower. Then she would take the full brunt of whatever punishment Greagoir saw fit to give her. She would not betray Jowan a second time by telling the templars of where the two of them had discusses running away to.

"So what you said was true, Irving," she heard Greagoir say even before Lily had completely opened the door to the main hall of the tower. She looked up and found the Knight-Commander, along with the First Enchanter, and two of the senior templars. All hope she had of Jowan making a successful escape with Lily was gone.

"An initiate, conspiring with a blood mage," he continued, advancing on the three of them. His steely eyes carefully examined Lily for a moment, and then he shook his head sadly. "I'm disappointed in you, Lily.

"She seems shocked, but fully in control of her own mind," he added, returning to stand by Irving. "Not a thrall of the blood mage, then. You were right, Irving. The initiate has betrayed us. The Chantry will not let this go unpunished."

He turned his gaze upon Varia, then, smirking a bit at her. It was quite apparent he knew who had helped deliver the two people standing next to her to their dire fates. He almost seemed to be gloating at the fact that she was becoming just as compliant as Irving in 'doing her duty' within the Circle.

"And here's your lackey, who so efficiently delivered these miscreants into our hands. Your plan worked, after all."

She saw Jowan turn to look at her out of the corner of her eye, but she couldn't bare to meet his eyes. She knew what she would see on his face if she did look at him: betrayal, anger, disgust. She clasped her hands together in front of her to keep them from shaking, and settled her gaze upon the stone floor as she once more felt the heaviness of her shame.

"Varia?"

She turned to him before she could stop herself, and when she saw the sadness and confusion in his dark blue eyes she felt herself reach her breaking point. She shook her head, her vision blurring with tears, and told him the only thing she could think of to say.

"I'm so sorry, Jowan."

The two of them continued to stare at one another as Greagoir discussed Jowan's punishment with Irving, and she knew things would never be the same between them after this moment. Even if she somehow managed to talk Greagoir into sparing Jowan's life – which didn't seem likely as she vaguely heard him say that Jowan's punishment would be his execution – Jowan would never trust her again. She watched his confusion morph into the hatred she had envisioned only a moment before, and a wicked little smile began playing upon his lips.

Now she was the one left feeling confused, and it wasn't until he opened his mouth to speak that she realized what was going on: Jowan knew. He knew about her and Cullen, and he was going to inform Greagoir of her own indiscretions so that she wouldn't be able to walk away from this ordeal completely unpunished. It wasn't the punishment she would endure that worried her, though. It was the idea of Cullen being punished for something she had done which bothered her.

"Take the initiate to Aeonar," Greagoir ordered, and Jowan's entire demeanor changed once more. He suddenly looked panicked, and moved to stand in front of Lily as the templars began advancing on her and she begged not to be taken to the mages' prison.

"No!" he yelled once the templars had nearly closed in on her, reaching into his robes and pulling out a small knife. "I won't let you touch her!"

Varia watched in horror as Jowan brought the blade down sharply across the palm of his hand and blood began spewing forth from the wound. He gathered the magical energy of his very life essence into a powerful spell and threw it at the templars. The force of the spell was large enough to not only knock out the two knights, but also Greagoir and Irving, who were still standing back away from them.

It all made sense, now. The reason Jowan had become more skilled, the way he had avoided telling her who had tutored him in spell-casting, the fact that someone could tutor him better than either she or his own mentor ever could... It was all because he was a blood mage. His mysterious 'tutor' was whatever demon he had made his forbidden pact with. The rumors had been true, after all. He had simply played her – and possibly even Lily – as pawns to help him escape the tower.

He suddenly rounded on her, and Varia held her breath. After seeing what he had done to the others, she feared what he might do to her in his rage. He simply glared at her, though, as if to say, 'You're dead to me,' then turned his attention upon Lily.

"By the Maker," the young woman gasped, taking a step back away from him. "B-Blood magic! How could you? You said you never..."

"I admit, I... I dabbled. I thought it would make me a better mage," Jowan said, his voice full of regret. Whether it was sincere or not, Varia couldn't tell. He sounded genuinely sorry for what he had done, but she had also believed him when he swore he wasn't a blood mage.

"Blood magic is evil, Jowan," Lily reminded him, and Varia could hear the sadness in her words . "It corrupts people... changes them..."

"I'm going to give it up!" Jowan insisted, stepping up to her and desperately grasping her her arms before she could back away from him again. "All magic. I just want to be with you, Lily. Please, come with me..."

Lily shook her head and raised her arms, pulling herself out of his grasp, and backed up farther into the corner of the room as she spoke, refusing to look at him.

"I trusted you. I was ready to sacrifice everything for you... I... I don't know who you are, blood mage. Stay away from me..."

Jowan continued to stand there a moment longer, watching Lily as she closed her eyes and crossed her arms protectively around herself, closing herself off from him completely. He then turned back to look at Varia, but the anger he'd previously shown toward her had been replaced with a deep melancholy. She realized that out of the lies he had told both her and Lily, one thing had been true, after all: He really loved the girl.

Without a word, he took off, running in the direction of the main entryway. Varia quickly checked to be sure that Irving, Greagoir, and the others were still alive, then she ran off after him – not to try to stop him, but because she knew he would have to use his blood magic to deal with the two templars guarding the entry door, as well. Luckily, she found the templars had merely been knocked unconscious like the others and they were already starting to come around by the time she reached them, likely due to Jowan being in a weakened state from his previous use of his blood magic.

She helped the templars back to their feet, asking them to get help for the others, then returned to the main hall. Lily was still backed up in the corner of the room, eyes closed and arms tightly held around herself, while Irving and the others were still out cold. She knelt next to the First Enchanter, hoping that he would be all right. She was still angry at him for making her betray Jowan – even if Jowan had betrayed her in a much bigger away – but he was the closest thing to family she had. She cast a weak rejuvenation spell upon him, which was the best she could manage after all the mana she had expended in the lower corridors, and waited for him to come to.

Irving finally opened his eyes just as the templar reinforcements arrived, and Varia looked around to find that Greagoir and the others were also slowly regaining consciousness.

"Are you all right?" he asked her, looking up at her as he grasped one of her hands and gave it a comforting squeeze.

"I'm fine," she assured him. "Physically, anyway."

"Where is Greagoir?" he wondered, and she helped him to his feet just as the Knight-Commander approached them with an angry scowl on his face.

"I knew it! Blood magic," he said, his upper lip curling in disgust. "But to overcome so many... I never thought him capable of such power."

"None of us expected this," Irving told him, looking to Varia for a moment before addressing the other man once more. "Are you all right, Greagoir?"

"As good as can be expected given the circumstances!" Greagoir yelled in reply, stepping forward until he was towering over the shorter man. "If you had let me act sooner, this would not have happened! Now we have a blood mage on the loose and no way to track him down!"

"I had my reasons," Irving calmly replied, crossing his arms defiantly across his chest.

"You're not all-knowing, Irving! You don't know how much influence this blood mage might have had. How are we to deal with this?

"Where is the girl?" he demanded without waiting for the First-Enchanter's reply, turning around and searching for Lily.

"I... I am here, ser," Lily replied, stepping forward from the corner where she had been hiding.

"You helped a blood mage!" Greagoir continued to shout, moving over to her position and gesturing about the room. "Look at all he's hurt!"

"Lily didn't know Jowan was a blood mage," Varia spoke up, not wanting to see the young woman be punished for a crime she didn't commit.

"I can speak for myself," Lily told her, but there was no hint of anger or malice in her voice. She simply looked at her sadly for a moment before returning her attention to Greagoir.

"Knight-Commander, I... I was wrong. I was accomplice to a... a blood mage," she said, lowering her head in shame as she approached the templar. "I will accept whatever punishment you see fit. Even... even Aeonar."

"Get her out of my sight."

One of the templars who had come to help the injured knights moved forward and grasped Lily's arm to lead her from the room and upstairs to the templar quarters, where she would remain imprisoned until they decided what would be done with her.

"And you!" Greagoir continued on his anger-fueled rant, turning to Varia. "You were in a repository full of magics that are locked away for a reason. Your antics have made a mockery of this Circle!"

"As I said, she was working under my orders," Irving reminded him.

"And this improves the situation?" Greagoir shouted. "The phylactery chamber is forbidden to all, save you and me! I don't care if she was working under orders from the Grand Enchanter, herself. This breach of the Chantry's laws should not go unpunished!"

He turned his cold grey eyes upon her and Varia suddenly felt very afraid. Even if Irving suggested a sentence of time spent in solitary, Greagoir was likely to ignore his pleas of leniency in his current state. Making her tranquil was out of the question, since she had already passed her Harrowing. That left only two options: death or Aeonar – which, from everything she had read about the magical prison, was probably worse than death.

"What are we to do with you?" he growled, narrowing his eyes to glare at her.

"Knight-Commander, if I may."

Varia turned around and saw Duncan walking over toward them, and she vaguely wondered what he was doing there. Maybe he'd overheard some of the templars discussing what had transpired and decided to investigate. More likely, though, he'd simply followed the sound of Greagoir's bellowing to its source.

"What is it, Grey Warden?" Greagoir asked, the other man's title sounding like an insult coming from his mouth.

"I am not only looking for mages to join the King's Army. I am also recruiting for the Grey Wardens," Duncan explained. "Irving spoke highly of this mage, and I would like her to join the Warden ranks."

"What?!" Greagoir yelled, turning accusing eyes toward the First Enchanter, and Varia winced at the volume of his voice ringing in her ears. "You're promised him a new Grey Warden?"

"She has served the Circle well," Irving replied, arms crossed over his chest once more, refusing to look at the Knight-Commander as he spoke. "She would make an excellent Warden."

"We look for dedication in our recruits," Duncan added calmly, likely hoping to diffuse the situation before Greagoir became even more hostile. "Fighting the darkspawn requires such dedication, often at the expense of all else."

"I object!" Greagoir argued, still addressing Irving. "You say she acted under your orders, Irving, but I do not trust her! I must investigate this issue, and I will not release this mage to the Grey Warden."

"If the Grey Wardens will have me, I'll gladly go!" Varia yelled at him, and he turned his steely glare upon her once more. She knew that joining the Wardens meant she would be leaving the Circle, but there was nothing left for her there. Jowan was gone, the other mages would all hate her once they found out how she'd betrayed him, and though Irving was standing up for her she still didn't wholly trust him. The only exception was Cullen. Leaving him was going to break her heart, but if she stayed she could very well end up dead. She would rather risk hurting both of them by walking away from the tower than have him end up spending the rest of his life grieving her.

"Greagoir, mages are needed," Duncan attempted to reason with the Knight-Commander once more. "This mage is needed. Worse things plague the world than blood mages – you know that. I shall take this young mage under my wing and bear all responsibility for her actions."

"This mage does not deserve a place in the Order!"

"Oh?" Irving asked, finally turning to look at him. "And why is that? Do we not reward service? She has proven herself and served the Circle well."

Greagoir growled in frustration for a moment, then finally threw up his hands in surrender.

"Very well, take her," he said to Duncan. "But mark my words, Irving, this is a mistake."

"Consider them marked," Irving replied with a smirk, causing Greagoir to growl once more.

"I want her out of this tower tonight. Rylock, you'll watch over her until she leaves. Make sure she doesn't do anything suspicious," he ordered before stomping off, and a female templar with dark hair and a permanent scowl went to stand next to Varia.

"So I'm to be a Grey Warden, then?" Varia asked quietly, the reality of the situation finally sinking in.

"We will depart for Ostagar as soon as you are ready," Duncan informed her, and a sudden sadness came over her. The tower was the only home she had really known her entire life. Leaving was going to be such a drastic change for her that she wasn't sure how well she was going to be able to handle it.

"The Circle never forgets its apprentices, child," Irving told her, almost as if he could tell what she was thinking, and laid a hand upon her shoulder the way he had so many times over the years when she had been frightened or unsure about something. "The Grey Wardens will be your family now, but you shall always have a home here."

"Thank you, First Enchanter," she said, and the templar standing next to her moved in even closer.

"Right then, enough with this mush," she remarked, grasping Varia's arm a bit roughly. "The Knight-Commander wants you out of the castle as soon as possible, so let's go get your things packed and you can be on your way."

Rylock didn't give her a chance to say anything else. She immediately pulled her away from Irving and Duncan and led her upstairs to her new quarters so she could pack her things.

"A word of advice, mage," she added as they neared their destination, and Varia looked at the other woman, dreading what she was about to say. "Ostagar isn't a short trip. Pack only what's necessary."

Varia wondered if she was attempting to be nice, but the tone of her voice told her otherwise. She was probably hoping that any heavy, valuable objects would be left behind to become property of the chantry and sold off. Unfortunately, she seemed to forget that mages weren't allowed much in the way of personal possessions and – even if they had been – Varia had been brought to the tower with nothing but the clothes on her back and the shoes on her tiny feet.

"Are you all right?"

Cullen's question pulled her attention back ahead of her, and she blinked in surprise at seeing him standing in her room, apparently having been awaiting her arrival.

"I heard about what happened with Jowan," he continued, going over to her and placing his hands on her shoulders as he looked her over for injuries. "You didn't get hurt, did you?"

Rylock cleared her throat loudly, alerting Cullen to her presence, and he released Varia as he looked at his fellow templar with no small amount of disdain in his eyes.

"You can go, Rylock," he told her firmly, nodding toward the door.

"I cannot," Rylock replied, leaning back comfortably against the wall next to the door. "This one's going to the Wardens. I've been ordered by the Knight-Commander to watch over her while she packs to make sure she doesn't do anything... suspicious."

Varia carefully observed the exchange between the two of them. Cullen had told her how much he disliked the lone female templar of the tower, saying that while she had supposedly been hired to give the female mages a sense of security she was just as vehemently opposed to the mages as most of the other templars in the tower were – and almost as abusive of her power.

She immediately noticed the shock on his face when he heard she was going to become a Warden, because he also knew that meant she would likely never return to the tower. Varia wanted to comfort him right then and there, kiss him and tell him she loved him and she would be back someday.  The look he gave her as Rylock continued talking about her orders told her that he had been contemplating the same thing she had earlier when they stole that kiss in this very room. They would have truly become lovers that night, if things had transpired differently throughout the day.

"I can make sure she stays out of trouble," he assured Rylock, his eyes never leaving Varia's. They didn't have enough time to consummate their relationship, but at least they could share one final, brief moment together and have a proper goodbye kiss.

"Not a chance," Rylock laughed, and Varia looked over at the woman to find her smiling wickedly at the two of them. "Everyone knows you're sweet on this one, Cullen. I'm not giving you the opportunity to defile the Maker's name and your vows to Him for the sake of your lust."

Cullen sighed and took a step back from Varia, lowering his head in shame, and Varia couldn't help but wonder if what Rylock had said was true. Did all of the other templars truly have an inkling of what was going on between them? Had he already gotten into trouble because of his relationship with her? He'd never indicated that was the case, before. Perhaps he had simply been trying to protect her or spare her unnecessary worry.

"Can I at least stay here while she packs?" he requested after a brief silence. "Please?"

"Well, since you asked so nicely, I supposed I could let you stay," Rylock agreed, acting like she was doing him some great favor out of the kindness in her heart – kindness which both Varia and Cullen knew didn't exist when it came to mages.

"But no touching," she added.

Cullen nodded sullenly and Varia went to the trunk at the foot of her bed to begin packing her things. A leather satchel had already been laid out upon the bed for her to place her belongings in, and she was surprised at how small it was. With a sigh, she opened the trunk and knelt down on the floor to choose the things she would need the most on her journey.

"So you're going to be a Warden?" Cullen asked casually.

Varia knew that tone of voice. It was the one he always used when they spoke in the presence of others. They had come to be able to read each other's expressions so well that they knew exactly what was truly being said under the words they spoke. This time, however, her back was to him and she couldn't see his face to read his underlying message to her. Still, she fully understood what he was saying. His heart was no doubt in the same state as her own, after all. He might have asked her if she was to become a Warden, but what he was really saying was, 'I don't want you to go.'

"After what happened with Jowan, there's no reason left for me to stay here," she told him.

'I wish I could stay, if only for you.'

"Must be exciting. You'll be able to travel and see the world. No more being stuck in this dusty, old tower."

'Will you ever come back?'

"I suppose," Varia replied, digging her grimoire out from under the other things in her trunk and standing to pack it in her bag. "But this tower has been my home for most of my life."

'I will do whatever it takes to make sure that I do come back, someday.'

"The Wardens fight the darkspawn, right?" Cullen asked. "I hear that's dangerous work."

'Are you sure this is a good idea? I don't want you to get hurt.'

"It is," Varia said, removing the extra set of robes from Anders' package and adding them into her pack with some other clothes. "I'm sure everything I've learned here will be of great help, though."

'Don't worry, love. I'll have the thought of you to keep me going.'

Varia heard Cullen move closer to her as she packed away a good number of lyrium potions and healing poultices into her pack. His hand came down to rest gently upon her back as she carefully secured the fastenings on the leather bag, and she had to fight the urge to turn around and throw herself into his arms.

"If anything happens to you, Varia..." he said, his voice quiet and full of barely-suppressed emotions, the ruse forgotten. He had said almost the same words to her earlier that day, and she could still imagine the painful images his mind was conjuring up. Those images were the reason why she had chosen to join the Wardens rather than remain and tempt fate.

"Cullen, I..." She turned around as she spoke, and his hand slid from her back to her waist. For a moment, she forgot that they weren't alone and she reached up to brush her fingers through his hair. His eyes fell closed and a shaky sigh escaped his lips, causing a lump to form in her throat.

"I said, no touching!" Rylock reminded them, and Varia cursed the woman in the back of her head. She had been watching them this entire time, and yet she waited until the two of them were at their most emotionally vulnerable to tear them apart.

"You about packed yet, mage?" she asked, the word 'mage' dripping with disdain.

"I am," Varia replied, gathering up her pack off the bed. She looked over to Cullen once more and started to reach out for him, but pulled her hand back and instead quietly made her way to the door.

"Varia," he called after her just as she was about to leave, and she turned to look at him.

"Maker watch over you," he told her, and this time she could read his expression loud and clear.

'I love you.'

Varia forced a smile, swallowing back her tears, and nodded once before speaking.

"May He watch over you, as well."

'I love you, too.'

"Come on, we haven't got all night," Rylock complained, and Varia once more found herself being dragged away through the hallways of the tower by her arm. She stumbled a couple of times along the way, and Rylock only tugged her arm harder, making her wince a bit at the pain. This was certainly not something she would miss once she was away from the Circle.

"I can take it from here," Duncan told the templar when they reached the bottom of the stairs. He grabbed Rylock by the arm much in the same fashion she had a hold of Varia's, and Varia noticed a somewhat sinister gleam in the older man's dark eyes. Rylock huffed in indignation and shoved her toward him, then turned and made her way back up to the second floor.

"I hope she did not hurt you?" Duncan wondered, gently grasping Varia's shoulders and helping her regain her balance.

"I'll probably have some hand-shaped bruises on my arm by morning," she replied, moving her arm and frowning at the pain that lingered where the templar's metal-covered fingers had dug into her flesh. "Other than that, I should be just fine."

"Good," Duncan said, taking her pack from her and holding out a heavy cloak. "You should put this on. Fereldan nights can be quite cold, this time of year."

"Thank you."

She put on the cloak as she followed him through the empty library where the apprentices studied, thinking about how she and Jowan used to take lessons together in that very room. They passed through the corridor connecting the library to the main hall, and she remembered how Cullen had once caught her in passing and kissed her right there in the open before going along his way as if nothing had happened. She couldn't stand to look at the main hall as they passed through, the memory of what had just transpired there still fresh in her mind, but when they reached the area where the apprentices' dormitories were located she couldn't help but recall how just one night prior she had been awakened by her mentor and taken for her Harrowing.

"Is something wrong?" Duncan asked, and she turned to look at him quizzically for a moment before realizing she had stopped outside the door of her former living quarters.

"I... was just thinking how much has changed so quickly," she told him. "Yesterday, I was still nothing more than an apprentice. Now I'm a fully-fledged mage who is about to become a Grey Warden."

"You needn't worry," Duncan assured her. "I know you will do well as a Warden, and you shall do the Circle proud."

Varia gave him a weak smile, and the two of them continued along their way. She stopped walking once more when they reached the entryway of the tower, however, and looked about curiously.

"Where's Irving?" she asked. She had expected that he would be there to see her off, but the only other people in the room besides her and Duncan were the two templars who had been posted at the door in replacement of the ones Jowan had attacked.

"Greagoir came back while you were gone and demanded to speak with him in his office," Duncan informed her. "Irving protested, of course. He wanted a chance to say goodbye, after all, but Greagoir would hear nothing of it. He did ask me to tell you something, but that is best saved for once we are away from here."

Varia wasn't sure why Irving would insist that his message not be relayed to her until after she had left the tower, but then Duncan cast a meaningful glance toward the guards nearby and she understood. Whatever it was Irving had said was not to be heard by templar ears.

"Let's be on our way, then," she said, walking past him and over to the large doors leading to the outside world she hadn't seen in over a decade.

The two guards unlocked the doors and opened them, and a chilly breeze caught her in the face. She held the cloak Duncan had given her tightly around her small frame, glad that he had been kind enough to think of her comfort while traveling. The two of them stepped out silently into the night, and she heard the heavy doors fall closed behind them as she looked up at the sky. It had been almost a year since she last saw the stars, and the beauty of them twinkling against their dark backdrop left her breathless for a moment until Duncan gently nudged her toward the path leading to the small dock at the foot of the cliff the tower stood upon.

"Evenin', Warden," the ferryman greeted them as they reached the dock, his boat tied up next to where he was standing. "And who is this you..."

His words trailed off as he turned to look at Varia, and he suddenly broke out in a grin as his eyes lit up with recognition.

"My word, it's you! How have you been, dear girl?" he asked, reaching out and taking one of her hands in both of his. Varia blinked, confused why the man was greeting her as if they were old friends.

"I'm sorry, I think you must have mistaken me for someone else," she told him, and his face fell in disappointment.

"I suppose I shouldn't expect you'd remember me," he said, releasing her hand. "You was just a little girl the last time we met, after all. But Irving always talked about you when I would ferry him back and forth. I daresay the old man cared about you like you were his own flesh and blood.

"Anyway, my name's Kester, seein' as you don't remember," he introduced himself, giving her a small bow. "I shall be taking you and the Warden here back over to the mainland."

Kester climbed aboard his boat and Duncan followed him, then set Varia's pack down before turning to offer her a hand into the small vessel. She carefully boarded, holding up the long cloak so she didn't trip and end up falling overboard into the water or – worse still – overturning the entire boat, then took a seat next to Duncan, facing the tower. The boat began to make its way slowly across the lake, and she watched as her home gradually became father and farther away from her.

Her life, as she knew it, was over.
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