this one was another toughie cuz idk how festivals work except like.. carnivals or fairs.. and like, none of my ocs really have a reason to go to anything like that so….. i just decided to write how i thought Elia might celebrate one of Thedas’s few holidays??
i tried, so i succeeded and that’s what matters
All Soul’s Day was a quiet, solemn holiday of remembrance. No matter where one went, it was always the same. Still air. Dim colors. Soft steps. Silent reflection. And candles. Lots and lots of candles.
Back at the Tower, All Soul’s Day was one of the few days a year the small, underused chantry was actually full. Mages lit candles for friends who’d failed their Harrowing; Templars lit candles for fallen comrades. It was the same at other Circle’s, too.
If you were on the road, all your companions would be set in their own thoughts; if you met other travellers, little more than a nod would be shared. Even bandits and vagabonds rarely made themselves known on All Soul’s Day — they had friends and family to mourn, just like everyone else.
The Chant still rang out from the Grand Cathedral on All Soul’s Day, but there was a somberness to its words that could be felt throughout Val Royeaux. At the center of the courtyard, at the top of the lone tower that stood there, a bonfire was lit in Andraste’s honor. The flames swam so high into the air and swirled so wildly, the tower looked like a torch holding the sun. The entire building seemed to glow from all the candles left for the dead. A special table was even placed in the audience chamber with red candles – one for each Divine – surrounding a tall white one – for Andraste.
Elia didn’t know what to expect at Skyhold on All Soul’s Day. Their chantry was just as small— no, smaller than the one back at the Tower. It would not be able to fit even a small fraction of the people who called Skyhold home. As Inquisitor, she’d purposefully kept most of the fortress free of Chantry symbolism; she wanted the Inquisition to be a welcoming place for all, not just Andrastians. But in the days before the holiday, she asked that space be made where people could safely light and leave candles.
When the day came, candles were lit in the Chantry until there was little room to do more than approach the statue of Andraste, kneel, pray, and scoot one’s way past the next person in line. The candles quickly spilled into the open hall and soon surrounded the gardens. The stone benches were taken up as well as the open windows of the short stone walls. Soon, the candles lined the grand staircases leading up to the main entrance hall. Even the battlements saw a few, all tucked behind large stone slabs to keep the flames safe from the wind.
When night fell, the entirety of Skyhold seemed to be aglow. People could glance up to Elia’s own quarters and see the many bright, flickering flames dancing across her balcony.
Once the very last rays of sunlight were gone from the sky, Elia herself lit a large bonfire in the courtyard. Not for Andraste – though she welcomed any believers to consider it so – but for all the people lost at the Conclave, at Haven, in every corner of the world. For every mage who’d died fighting or fleeing for their lives, for every templar who’d truly cared and fought for their charges’s wellbeing, for every tranquil sacrificed or left to die, and for every poor blighter caught in the crossfire. For every child lost, every mother ended, every father gone. For friend and enemy. She dedicated it to them all.
When Elia awoke the next morning, expecting to feel the leftover stillness of the previous day, she was surprised, and delighted, to find Skyhold more energetic than ever. People moved with purpose and dedication. There was still a seriousness to the air, but there was also hope. Determination. The people were focused on the future and the Inquisitions impact on it.
Their conviction inspired Elia. After that day, she pushed herself even harder, went even further for her people. And every night that followed, those people could look up and see a candle still burning on her balcony.
A reminder of those they had lost; a reminder for the future they were working for.