Kianna had been up for a long time, three watches of the night now. Varden had sat with her in relative silence during his and Taylar had inquired a bit about her scribbles, trying not to admit they were non-sense to him. Now as the sun’s prescense began to cast highlights on the horizon Kianna knew the last watch would bring with it uncomfortable discourse. As Taylar sunk into his bunk to pretend to sleep Tam lumbered to the high ground where Kianna worked.
"Hello… Kianna," Tam said in a thick voice. Calling her by her proper name felt awkward. For years it had been Kitten, or Kit, or Ki, or kiddo…. et cetera. She was getting the sense that the days of childish pet names were over.
"Tamarack…" the young woman replied a little sternly, looking up from her notes to scan the horizon but not to glance at her friend.
The dwarf gave a quiet sigh. "Let's both be grown-ups now… all right? That's what you want, isn't it?"
"We've got a job to do here, can we just get it done and then worry about…. this… later?"
"I'm worried about it now," Tamarack said stubbornly. "And if you had a heart left in your pretty chest you'd be worried too. I can't think… I can't sleep…. Ki, I can't understand how things have gone so wrong between us! I know you've been pushing to grow up… and I've tried to be prepared for that. But gods…. if it was a man's bed you were wanting… you might have at least told me."
Kianna scowled, making a few marks on her scroll with quite a bit more force than was neccesary. "We're going about this all wrong" she remarked evasively, jutting a chin at the city now backlit by a sliver of crimson sun.
Tears stung Tam's eyes. She likewise stared ahead at the horizon, not giving a single thought to what Kianna might be working on. "Just tell me what you want from me," she breathed. "I don't know what I've done to earn your contempt all of a sudden."
"For the moment I want a chance to live to grow old with you" Kianna growled, "As much fun as our little hypocritical drama has been there are things out there just slavering to render it moot."
Tamarack blinked. "All right… you're task-focused. I get it." She paused. "I just want you to know that I bought those rings because I'd die for you. In a heartbeat. That hasn't changed." She paused again, clenching her jaw and steeling herself against tears. "But you used them to hurt me. Of all the things you've done lately… that's the one I just can't swallow back."
"I'm sorry for that… I was angry" she replied quietly looking downward past her work, "There's something I think you should see"
"What's that?" Tam replied distantly.
Kianna handed her the scroll, the left side had a column of dozen silouettes of demons and dargos creatures, some similar to those they had fought a day eariler, the left side was a simple tally, the strokes grew smaller and smaller as kianna had run out of room against the paper's edge. "This isn't like our other quests" she murmered. "This time if I die you might not be there to bring me back"
Tamarack swallowed, finally getting a sense of the seriousness of what was coming. She handed the scroll back and showed Kianna the ring on her finger. "You're not going to die."
"If we aren't very careful we're all going to die here" Kianna replied deathly serriously, "for every man woman and child in skyhold there are ten monsters out there, and those are only the ones close enough for me to sense, there could be tenfold more. Any of us could die out there, that's the way of it, but if we're wiped out…. what then? I guess it just puts things in perspective."
Tamarack sank down onto the grass, folded her arms on her knees, and rested her head on them. "How did we become responsible for all this?" she asked in a muffled voice.
"Whatever happens out there…." replied Kianna, "you know that I love you."
Tamarack looked up, unable to hold back the tears anymore. "Do I?"
Kianna's face was granite, but tears slid from her eyes as well, "I just cant pretend to love you as a daughter anymore" She crawled towards Tam, kissed her once, gently, on the lips and turned to retreat to the circled bedrolls.