So… by now you probably know I have a Dragon Age obsession. I don’t know what it is. I honestly couldn’t tell you–I just like it. And I feel absolutely no urge to excavate any further.
At one point they had a writing contest, which I wrote something for and didn’t even make the top 20–honestly I probably made a semi fatal mistake by blurring the lines of what’s ‘canon’, or there were simply 20 stories told better than I told mine. Whatever the case may be.
But failing that I realized I now have essentially what is fan fiction and literally nothing I can do with it–not in the traditional sense, anyway.
So I decided to share it with you:
Maker only knew what hour it was. Dark. Was that a suitable time frame? It was too late for the drunks to be still stumbling out of taverns but too early for shop keeps to be setting up their stalls in the market. We’d all been stirred out of the barracks and ushered into the Chantry hall. No one really explained why. Knight-Captain Tavish had mentioned something about depending on the night’s outcome, they would need as many templars as possible. Whatever that meant.
Considering the Grand Cleric herself was present, it likely wasn’t a party…
The chantry doors lurched open; the sound echoed down the chamber, drawing all eyes and leaving silence in its wake. Half a unit of men flanked the accused as she stumbled inside.
She was a wild looking thing–almost fade-born in appearance; they’d have little issue painting her to the public as a monster if it came to that. Deep red locks tangled about a pale face, obscuring the difference between blood and hair. Chains clasped around her wrists and neck, leaving the skin raw and causing her to hunch over herself like a wounded animal under their weight. Yet, despite the elf’s restraints, the gag about her mouth and the faint limp in her walk, her presence spread a fear that was almost palpable in the chantry hall.
Malificar. The word sat bitter and unspoken on every tongue.
Despite our position, safely huddled at the back of the crowd, there wasn’t a single novice who didn’t look visibly uncomfortable; shifting from foot to foot or stealing glances from each other and passing forced smiles.
The templars themselves were a different matter. Their eyes were hard, lips deep-set in sneers, and a few hands even subconsciously rested on the hilt of their blades. Comforting, I suppose, to see that there wasn’t any bias mucking up the judgement of the court.
She was brought before the dais at the back of the hall to meet her judges: Grand Cleric Adeline, Knight-Commander Carrick of Denerim’s Chantry and First Enchanter Irving whose presence seemed only tolerated because it had been requested explicitly by Knight-Commander Greagoir.
“Aredyn Evani,” Carrick addressed her. He was a pious old bugger that even made Irving seem to have a youthful complexion. “You have been accused of fleeing The Circle, aiding in the escape of at least five other apprentices and conspiracy to destroy the phylactery vault in Denerim. These crimes are no less than treason, punishable by death.” He glanced side-long at Adeline. “However, Her Grace has reminded me that atonement may be found if a soul is truly willing to repent.”
Irving clarified the Knight-Commander’s words. “My child, the Chantry has agreed to lighten your sentence in exchange for information about the location of your fellow conspirators.”
“Choose your defense carefully, Evani,” Adeline warned as one of the templars removed the binding around the elf’s mouth. “These words may be your last.”
Aredyn took a few moments–though whether she was mulling their words over or merely trying to regain feeling back in her lips, I couldn’t tell. “First.” There was a fondness in her voice that treated the word like something precious; a low and musical sound that resonated throughout the entire hall. “That’s what they would have called me had I been born outside of city walls. I would have been the First. I would have had a place. A Family. Respect. I would have belonged had I been born among the Dalish.”
I tried to lean over to Eryhn and ask what exactly a ‘First’ was but she jabbed my ribs with her elbow to shush me. Turns out if you do this in armor, it makes a loud clank that alerts the Knight-Captain standing a few feet away which awards both parties quite a glare.
Ha ha. Served her right.
Eryhn shot me a look but I tried to look too interested in the trial to notice.
“But I wasn’t born that lucky, Your Grace. Instead, I was born in an Alienage. I was born in a slum where I was confined even before my gifts showed themselves and thus this is my birthright.” Aredyn lifted the chains around her wrists as if presenting them as evidence to the court.
“And had you been born among the Qunari, you would be fitted with blinders, shackled in chains at all times and have your lips stitched closed,” Adeline bristled with indignance.
“And how different of a life would that really be?” Aredyn countered with a boldness that would be considered sacrilegious in Her Grace’s presence. “In their tongue a mage is saarebas; Dangerous thing. Since before I was even old enough to understand why, I was called nothing less. Too well have I learned that it does not take a thread or chains to bind a people’s hands and mouth.”
“The Maker commands that Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him.” The whole room seemed to murmur the commandment along with the Grand Cleric.
“We want control of our lives, not the world.”
“Foul and corrupt are they who have taken his gift and turned it against His children.”
“Anyone is capable of corruption and the abuse of power–” Aredyn tried to speak over them but I had the sense very few were listening.
“They shall be named Maleficar, accursed ones.–”
“All men are the Work of our Maker’s Hands!”
The room went suddenly quiet but I wasn’t sure if it was the volume of Aredyn’s voice that silenced them or if they were merely too shocked to hear a malificar speak the Canticle of Transfigurations.
“From the lowest slaves to the highest kings. Those who bring harm without provocation to the least of His children are hated and accursed by the Maker.”
Her knowledge of the Chant of light was… impressive. Even growing up in the chantry, I certainly hadn’t memorized the blasted thing. Course… I did sleep through half of my lessons…
“In the past few days alone I have been beaten, chained, starved and gagged. Tell me, what provocation did I give you for that?”
Carrick attempted to speak up, “Had you not been discovered, you and your fellows would have destroyed the phylactery–”
“I attempted no more than any templar in your ranks,” Aredyn countered cooly.
“What?” Carrick’s face was turning red.
“Phlylacteries are a form of blood magic, are they not? Tell me, is it still hypocrisy if the Chantry sanctions it?”
“Aredyn,” Irving warned.
Carrick looked almost purple now. “We are the Maker’s hand. His will dictates our actions.”
“I will not obey a god who first makes me what I am and then punishes me for it.”
Irving looked away. She had made her choice. As merely an apostate, there was hope. As both an apostate and heretic–she had sealed her fate.
“Who are the others?” Carrick seethed.
“What others?” Impish but defiant.
“The other conspirators. Their names.”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I have multiple reports that you were seen meeting with a group of six or seven other individuals in Denerim, most of whom were also identified the night of the attempt on the vault.”
“If you’re so certain there were others, Knight-Commander, I suggest you track them down like any other mage.”
“Had they been mages and not mere sympathizers, we might have already done it and not required this trial in the first place!” It was as if Aredyn was standing at the foot of an Arch-demon without blinking an eye.
Adeline placed a hand on Carrick’s arm and for a moment his rising temper subsided.
It wasn’t going to last. You could practically see his blood boiling beneath his skin. Still, he attempted a calm tone of voice that strained towards a civil tongue. “The lives of your fellow conspirators are forfeit for their crime. Should you cooperate with this investigation, yours can still be spared.”
“Those who bear false witness, and work to deceive others, know this: There is but one Truth. All things are known to our Maker and He shall judge their lies.” Aredyn recited the chant as if she were reminding a child about the consequences of dishonesty. “The Maker may be a little murky about magic but his stance on lying seems pretty clear.”
For the first time, I really enjoyed scripture.
Carrick seemed less pleased by the verse. He looked to Grand Cleric Adeline like a mabari impatiently waiting for the command to attack.
Adeline stepped forward a little, steepling her fingertips in thought. “And this is all you have to offer?”
“I will never be the First, Your Grace.” Aredyn looked to Irving and offered a sad, apologetic sort of smile. Something passed between the First Enchanter and his former apprentice. Forgiveness, maybe? “But I am no longer content to be the last.”
Adeline pursed her lips and merely inclined her head towards the Knight-Commander.
“Remove her,” Carrick barked, true to form.
Strange, watching them drag her out, I felt… shaken. I wasn’t sure I agreed with her, but my better judgement–that part I admittedly tended to ignore–couldn’t deny the sense in her words. Even if it was a little blasphemous. Well, a lot blasphemous, actually. Little surprised they hadn’t run her through on the spot with the way she’d been talking but then again, I imagine that kind of thing is frowned upon in the presence of the Grand Cleric… Also inside the Chantry. Killing apostates inside the chantry is bad.
“You don’t actually feel sorry for a malificar, do you?” Erhyn asked suspiciously, finally deeming me worthy of speech.
“No one said she was a malificar,” I commented evasively. “I even overheard Knight-Captain Tavish admit no one actually saw her do blood magic.”
“Does it matter?”
I wanted to joke. Something that would erase the the last ten minutes but as I looked back towards the doors, an uncomfortable tightness starting to grip at my stomach. There was nothing funny about what I’d just seen. “No… I don’t suppose it does…”
Ehryn rolled her eyes. “Come along, Alistair. We have to get back to the barracks..”
I lagged behind her. I’d never really liked the idea of being a templar but I was good at it. There was solace in that–there wasn’t a lot in my life I could say that about but…
Was this really something I wanted to be good at?