The first time Cole slept it came as a complete surprise to him. He had been in his usual spot at the Herald’s Rest, up on the third floor walkway, curled up by the bannister and idly watching the denizens of Skyhold celebrate the Herald’s final victory over Corypheus. The revelry had gone on for days and while Cole was happy that Coypheus was gone – pushed straight past the Fade and into the Void – he felt exhausted and bereft of cause. He’d leaned to the side a bit, letting the bannister hold his slight weight and closed his eyes, just for a moment, hoping to hear his own thoughts.
He slipped straight into the Fade, the way a human might, his soul – the spirit that he was – flung free of his corporeal body. It was disorienting and strange, and so familiar that he ached. He, well, floated just to the side of his physical self, still at Skyhold but a step to the side, the way he had been when he found the original Cole starving in the White Spire.
“Well,” said a cheerful voice. “That wasn’t what I expected.”
On the far side of the square formed by the upper landing stood a short, female-shaped being with dark eyes and lavender skin. She was all but naked, dressed in golden chains and a short, transparent skirt, but all Cole noticed was the pain that bled off of her like tears.
“Hello,” said Cole. “What are you doing here?”
“Enjoying the party, what else?” the creature sauntered toward him. “Although I had not anticipated you.”
Cole frowned at her. “Why not?”
“Why not?” she stared at him, startled. “I thought to come up here and see the desires of a repressed teenaged boy, not a Spirit of Compassion.”
“Oh.” He tilted his head. “Sweat, slick, scent and semen. Hair pulled tight, throat full, choking. Dull. Boring. Common. Hardly worth the effort.”
“What? Don’t do that! That’s just rude.” She huffed. “It’s not like I’m reading you.”
“You could. I don’t mind.”
“You don’t mind? Are you damaged?”
“No, I’m…” Cole stopped, considering. “I’m called Cole. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone like you before.”
“I’m… Amity.” She hovered next to him for a moment and then moved away. “And you are damaged, you know. I can see it.”
Cole shrugged. “Poor decisions. They leave scars.”
“Decisions?” Amity sat down on a barrel of mead. “What – I don’t understand. You’re a spirit. You don’t make decisions. And if you do, they won’t let you be a spirit anymore.”
“Who is they?”
“You know, they, them,” she gestures expansively. “Mortals, other spirits.”
“But they don’t get to make that choice,” said Cole, confused. “What you are is up to you. Hurting them hurts you. I can see it. But it isn’t something you have to do.”
Amity gaped at him and vanished, fleeing further into the Fade.
Cole sighed, settling back down into his body.
Somewhere below, glass crashed unmusically on the wooden floor.
Cole woke up.