On the 3rd of Guardian
Tower of the Circle of Magi, Kinloch Hold
A cold and piercing wind drifted across the surface of Lake Calenhad, creating gentle ripples across the dark and icy water. A small boat rocked gently with the current as wooden paddles dug deep into the water sending the boat into a lazy cruise across the lake. Aboard the boat, stood two Templar knights – their silver armour glinting in the fading sunlight, clanked lightly against their polished weapons as they peered through the unyielding eye-slits of their full helms. But their attention was fixed on the small hooded figure in brown who was sitting placidly between them.
Winter was the season of Wintersend and it was clear that the biting cold weather was something everyone was struggling to endure. However, the stifling silence aboard the boat was worse and the boatman’s earlier attempt to make conversation was dismissed by a curt grunt from one of the Templars.
“’Ere we are…The Circle Tower, sers,” The boatman announced as he pulled the boat to a stop, maneuvering his boat expertly to dock.
Wordlessly, the Templars stepped off the ferryboat with the figure following close behind. However, when the figure tried to step off the boat clumsily, it prompted one of the Templars to turn and help carry the figure off the vessel. Once off, the Templar set the figure back on his feet and the three of them headed steadily towards the entrance of the Circle Tower.
- * * * * *
First Enchanter’s Study, Senior Mage Quarters
Tower of the Circle of Magi
Hands cupped together infront of him, his eyes searched the face that sat before him, seeking some unspoken answer that would assuage his fears. Finding none, First Enchanter Kilthire sighed and rose from his seat. Moving over to a tiny cupboard where he kept his stock of spirits, he poured himself a tiny glass and drank deeply, feeling the sting of alcohol on his tongue.
The First Enchanter was a tiny man, old and wizened. But the war between Orlais and Ferelden had worn him down. Now, he was most keen on keeping the Circle of Magi neutral in any conflict. “It is for the better… It is for everyone’s protection”, was his mantra.
In these tenuous times, the Chantry was on the look out for anyone caught of conspiring against the Empire and the Templars were sent without hesitation to deal with the matter. Needless to say, the Chantry under Mother Bronach suffered no fools, least of all mages and apostates.
The policy against apostates, whether they were hedge or rogue, made no difference. Apostates were to be hunted and executed, no questions asked. However, a peculiar exception was made on this day – an apostate was being brought to the Circle Tower, by request of the Chantry. And if the Grand Cleric made a special attendance to meet with this apostate, then Kilthire knew that there was definitely more than meets the eye.
In the First Enchanter’s study, Kilthire sat there alone, without even his most Senior Enchanters to support him while the Grand Cleric was flanked by her entourage. The pressure the Chantry placed on the Circle to bend to their will was strong and Kilthire felt cornered.
“I do not understand, Reverend Mother”, the Enchanter said slowly, “First, we bring an apostate here, alive. And now you are saying the Chantry wants to take this… apostate away? Away from The Circle of Magi? That is most unheard of!”
Robes of deep red and gold shifted slightly as the Reverend Mother brushed a stray strand of hair from her left shoulder. She pursed her lips in annoyance and replied the mage impatiently, “You do not have to understand, First Enchanter. You just have to follow orders. Think of it as serving your civic duty to your King.”
You know too well Reverend Mother that the Circle of Magi does not take sides—"
“Oh come now! You do not have to take sides because there is only one side. And that is the side of your King!” Mother Bronach snapped. “All I ask is for you to create a phylactery for this apostate. And once that is done, he will no longer be an apostate and will become a rightful member of the Circle of Magi! After which, with your permission, this mage will be allowed to leave with the Chantry.”
“It is not so simple! No one becomes a member without going through The Harrowing—”
“Make an exception.” Was the Mother’s firm reply. And at that moment, the door opened and the Templars stepped into the room together with the brown hooded figure.
“Reverend Mother,” The Templars greeted the Grand Cleric. With a nod of approval from the woman, the Templars place a clenched fist over their hearts, bow curtly and left – leaving the tiny figure together with the First Enchanter and the Grand Cleric.
“Come here,” Mother Bronach commanded.
The figure stood still, not daring to move. Then, in an effort to break the ice, the First Enchanter Kilthire approached the figure. He knelt before the figure and the Enchanter’s eyes grew wide in shock.
“This is a child!” Kilthire declared throwing back the figure’s hood revealing the person hiding beneath. Bright eyes the colour of clear blue skies and rosy cheeks the colour of cherry blossoms stand out from a pale child-like boyish features. The child looked up at Kilthire worriedly, his eyes darting around the room, taking in the fine furnishing and upholstery. The child then casts a glance at Mother Bronach and is rewarded with a stern look. The child quickly drops his gaze and starts fiddling with his robe, unsure of what to do.
“Come here boy,” Kilthire said as he offered an apple from his fruit basket, “You must be hungry.”
The child’s expression brightened. He took it eagerly and took a big bite out of the juicy red fruit.
“Mother Bronach, what has this child done to become an apostate? He is young and like most of the other young mages here, they are just misguided. Hedge mages do not understand their power, neither are their powers developed. Based on that alone, it hardly warrants him the label of apostate…,” The First Enchanter protested. "Besides —
And once more Kilthire was interrupted by Mother Bronach’s pointed reply, “This boy here massacred an entire Orlesian patrol.”
The First Enchanter could only stare. “Wha… What—-?”
“You know what that means Enchanter. Child or not, this boy here is an apostate. And for attacking and killing Orlesian troops, that marks him as a rebel. A traitor.” the Grand Cleric intones. She leans forward in her chair purposefully and makes eye contact with the First Enchanter, “You know what the King does to traitors… and you know what the Chantry does to apostates. Now, what I’m offering this child is a new lease of life. A chance to start afresh, after all he is such a young life, don’t you think? And I need your help. He needs your help.”
“If he is as dangerous as you say he is, then why does the Chantry want to remove him from under the watchful protection of the Circle Tower? Mother Bronach, this boy must stay, we can teach him. Guide him onto the right path,” The First Enchanter argued, pounding weakly against his desk to emphasize his point.
“That is not up to you to decide. The boy’s path has already been decided. He will leave the tower in ten days time and by then, I suggest you have his phylactery and permission slip ready,” Mother Bronach replied, rising from her seat indicating an end to their conversation. She made her way to the door, her entourage following closely behind her, “Better get to work First Enchanter. You only have ten days to teach him the right path and make him a member of the Circle of Magi. This meeting is over.”
“Mother Bronach, what you ask… Kilthire tried protesting.
“That is all, First Enchanter. The Templars will be ready to take him in ten days. If he does not show signs of being controllable, then you know what you must do. Take care and may the Maker watch over you, Kilthire.”
Then, Kilthire was left alone in his quarters with this young apostate. Watching the boy finish up the apple gleefully, licking his fingers and lips, Kilthire is struck by a sense of helplessness. What am I to do? Kilthire sighed inwardly. Then, the boy smiled brightly at Kilthire, indifferent to his fate and it was at that moment, Kilthire realized that whether he liked it or not, it had to be done.
“It is for the better… It is for everyone’s protection”