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Current Residence: Ciampino (RM - IT)
Favourite genre of music: Celtic and Piano-Pop
Favourite style of art: 3D animation
Operating System: FAILdows
Wallpaper of choice: Mine! :P
Favourite cartoon character: Saint Seiya's Andromeda Shun, Donald Duck
Personal Quote: "SALVAcomeselatuavitanedipendesse!" ("SAVEasifyourlifewereatstake!") - Dina
As I had hinted, today I released the first chapter of In Peace Vigilance novelization, as writing is faster than drawing and though I plan to (eveeeentually) finish the comic, I prefer to deliver a final version of the story ASAP since I want to focus on other (original) projects.
There are ten chapters of it, and they will be released each saturday at midnight GMT (so friday 10 PM my time). I sugges those who have read the comic to read AT THE VERY LEAST from chapter 5 on, since from that point the story has been slightly changed from the comic version due to the revelations of what an Eluvian is exactly in The Masked Empire first and Dragon Age Inquisition later, so it changed a bit of things (Including Uther's name that's now the more lore-friendly "Kieran").
After I'll publish all the single chapters, I'll release also a epub file with some illustration included to be read comfortably on your reader of choice. : 3


II. Blood and Bound

The bannorn of Dragon's Peak is quite the place in late spring, when the green of the fields starts turning gold, and a warm breeze makes you forget we’re so south that we get stuck in the snow every other winter’s day. That's why I chose Dragon's Claw to settle down: it’s a small village near the bigger cities, the perfect place to hide in plain sight.
It is true, I'm a blood mage, a maleficar, but now I can finally tell I’m doing something good with my life.
My name is Jowan, but everyone here knows me as...
“Master Lewyn! Good morning!” Devin’s voice startled me. He’s a nice kid, one of the few who are never afraid of me, always tagging along while I do my usual rounds of the village to check on my patients and the elders. Not that the other villagers are scared of me, but I can tell my being a mage unsettles them, even if I’m their healer. They are friendly and welcoming, but prejudices are hard to kill... and I of all people certainly can’t blame them for it.
Devin, though, is different. He is so interested in my work I bet he’d like to be a mage like me to become a healer himself. Little does he know, the poor boy... I do try to teach him some basics of herbalism and alchemy, though: the boy won’t become a healer but this place can certainly use a pharmacist the day I’ll be gone, by old age, Templars or countless other possible reasons.
“Hello Devin, how are your parents?” both his parents recently got a nasty case of the flu, it took all my limited knowledge to pull them out of Death’s grasp... sometimes I wish I paid more attention to Wynne’s lessons, especially since I pretend to be a healer sent by the Circle.
“Much better thanks to you. Mom sends you some cheese!” he said joyously while offering me a wrapped bag.
“There was no need Devin. It is my job to help them.”
“But they’d be dead if weren’t for you, wouldn’t they, master Lewyn?” he said it with such innocence I almost told him the truth...
“In time, they would have recovered, boy, I just sped up the natural healing process a bit.” well, I did say almost...
I resumed my walk with him toddling along. “We're lucky you're with us, master Lewyn, the Circle doesn't send healers out often...”
“That’s because not many of them volunteer to go outside the Circle...” I chuckled, “Contrary to popular belief, most mages enjoy the peace and quiet of the Circles, and they live a content life behind their walls. ‘Normal’ people are often scared of mages, but the contrary it’s also true.”
“Even after the King’s decree the Hero of Ferelden asked as reward for ending the Blight?” he asked tilting his head. I laughed.
Especially after that decree: with the Templars enforcing the First Enchanter’s authority and not the other way around, the Tower is a better place to stay... or so I’m told. I haven’t returned there since the Blight.”
At the mention of the Blight the boy’s eyes brightened: “Oh, right, you fought in the Blight, didn’t you?”
I laughed: “I didn’t fight, I just... helped people. I am a healer, not a battlemage or a knight enchanter like the Hero of Ferelden...”
I shook my head amused at the boy’s eagerness. He had to be around five when the blight happened, half of his life ago, so he was one of the few lucky persons in the village to not remember it well. And as any kid, he had an attraction for morbid tales of war and violence. I envy his innocence...
“I’ll tell you what: if you’ll help me sort these herbs I can tell you some tales from the Blight.” I suggested holding up my satchel. “I have to turn them into poultices before they dry too much.” Not that I needed any help, mind you, but both of us enjoyed the company.
Devin nodded eagerly: “D’you know about the Warden?” he asked me.
Warden? “What Warden?”
“There’s a Grey Warden in the village. He arrived this morning, says he’s looking for someone!”
Crap! “Really?”
“Yup. Do you think he fought in the Blight? With the King and the Hero of Ferelden?”
“I don’t know Devin, there were very few Wardens in Ferelden during the Blight...” I froze. The Warden was there, crested armor and all, and he definitely fought in the Blight.
“You think I can become a Grey Warden when I grow up, master Lewyn? I’d like to be a healer, but I’m no mage, so maybe as a Grey Warden...”
“Why don’t you ask him yourself, Devin.” I nodded towards the Warden as he was approaching. Damn! I knew this existence was too good to last, and I didn’t deserve any peace, but... I just hoped Ewan would spare me the humiliation of exposing me in front of the whole village: I wouldn’t want them to think I tricked or cheated them just to use them as a cover...
As he approached us I saw him smile... well, that was unexpected. It wasn’t a triumphant smile, it had... pensiveness in it, like he dreaded to be there or... well, maybe it was wishful thinking, but he didn’t look like he came here to kill me or arrest me... Maker I hope not!
“Good afternoon, master Lewyn.” he said politely like we were long lost acquaintances.
“Warden... what brings you here?” I asked trying to mimic his tone.
“You, actually.” he said. His smiled opened and warmed up, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He glanced at Devin and crouched beside him, starting to talk to him. “You know Devin... your name’s Devin, right?”
“Yes sir Warden! How d’you know my name?”
“I heard you and Lewyn here talking.” he laughed, “I know it’s not polite to eavesdrop, but Lewyn and I are old friends.”
“Are you?” the boy’s eyes flew to me in awe with a hint of reproach, as in ‘you had a friend in the Grey Wardens and you didn’t tell me?’
“Yup. Lewyn and I were at the same school when we were your age.”
“But... Master Lewyn is from the Circle of Magi!”
“I know. I’m a mage too.”
The boy looked him over checking his medium armour and noticing the two swords sheathed at his sides. “Mages don’t use swords, not even Knight Enchanters. And don’t wear armour... or since you’re a Grey Warden is different?”
Ewan laughed. In fact I had noticed the last time we met in the forest he had given up robes and staves for armour and a two-swords fighting style... I hadn’t even recognized him at first.
“I have discovered the secrets of the elven Arcane Warriors.” he whispered to him with a conspiratorial tone, “I can channel my magic to fight, to become stronger and faster.”
“Stronger? Can you use it on me, Ser Warden?”
“On you?” he blinked amused, “Why?”
“Well... me dad is sick, and I want to chop wood for him.” he asked with pleading eyes.
Ewan stifled a laugh: “I’m sorry Devin, but it doesn’t work this way... were you a mage I could teach you the spell, but I can do it only for myself... if you want, though, I can help you with the wood cutting.” he winked at him and ruffled his hair.
“Would you?” the boy was just as surprised as me.
“Please Devin, I bet the Warden-Commander has more important things to do.”
“Warden-Commander?” Devin’s eyes reached the size of a chicken’s egg, “You mean you’re the Hero of Fer...”
Ewan put a finger in front of his mouth and hissed a “Ssssh! I’m here incognito.” he winked again at him then turned back to me. “And don’t worry about it, Jo-Lewyn.” he corrected himself blushing slightly, “It’s my duty to help.”
His smile finally reached his eyes. He definitely enjoyed me squirming. The bastard!

And so I found myself in the backyard of Devin’s place, with Ewan, shameless as always, chopping wood bare-chested while Devin attended other chores. After the nineteenth chop I had to ask him.
“What is all this about, Ewan?”
All this what?” he asked innocently.
This. You appearing here of all places, to begin with, and helping master Arthur with woodcutting.”
“I’m a Grey Warden, that’s what we do.” he shrugged.
“Chopping wood?” I asked skeptically.
“Helping people.” he replied dryly, “Did you ever wonder why I was recruited after I helped you escape?”
I shrugged: “I suppose that Warden... Duncan? Conscripted you under Irving’s recommendation. You were his favourite student and didn’t want you to be punished?”
“Not quite. Duncan offered me the crest because I helped you. According to him I was ‘a rare person who risks all for a friend in need’.”
“Yes, I know you’ve always been disgustingly altruistic...” I snorted. “But why have you come here? You said I brought you here, but I didn’t call you, and the last time we met...” I couldn’t finish the thought.
He sighed: “The last time we had the chance to speak freely, without grateful citizens and dead darkspawn around, I said I wanted to kill you, so I understand your suspicions, but believe me: I mean no harm and I won’t expose you.”
Yeah, sure. “You said you never wanted to see me again.”
“I lied.” he admitted, “Well, not quite lie... I didn’t want to see you there and then.”
I sighed nodding. I wouldn’t have wanted him to see me there either. Of all things I screwed up in my life, the whole Redcliffe incident was the one I was most ashamed of.
“I was angry at you for everything.” he started explaining, “I helped you escape your doom and you ran away on us, leaving Lily and I to face the consequences not only of our actions but yours as well. I became a Warden because of you, but as Duncan explained to Greagoir, it was not a reward, believe me. In the meantime you ended up in the hands of Loghain, the one who betrayed us at Ostagar, and you were sent to poison Arl Eamon, who at the time was the only human noble who could believe us and stand against our enemy. I barely escaped Ostagar, I witnessed the destruction of the Circle as we knew it at the hands of a blood mage, and fought undead storming out of Redcliffe castle all night long... and then when we managed to enter the castle, to find the very source of the evil that was decimating the only village on our side in all of Ferelden, and I found you.”
I lifted my eyes to meet his, expecting to find blaming and hate in them but there was nothing but melancholy “You caused all this.” he said eventually.
“So what do you want now?” I asked, “Revenge? My life?”
“No.” he paused as if looking for the right word, “An explanation. You caused all those things, but more importantly you also caused the good things that happened in my life since then. Had I not been recruited I may have died in the Blight, perhaps turned abomination by Uldred, trapped in the Fade until I died or slain by the Templars in the Right of Annulment that was called upon Kinlock Hold and that I managed to persuade Gregoir to recant, saving Irving, and Wynne, and Petra, and Kinnon, and Owain... I would never have become the Hero of Ferelden...”
He walked to me and put a hand on my shoulder. I couldn’t quite meet his eyes now: “I am not blaming you for what you’ve done, Jowan - well, not all of it... but I feel bad for what you didn’t.”
That struck me: “I... didn’t tell you.”
He nodded: “You’ve always been like a brother to me, Jowan, perhaps I was closer to you than to Aed... I just want to understand why.”
“Why did I dabble in blood magic?” Maker, this was so embarrassing... “Because of you.” I finally admitted.
“Me?” he uttered surprised, taking a step back like I had slapped him.
“You were always the clever one, Irving’s star pupil, while I was just Jowan the retard who couldn’t learn a single spell.” I muttered. I felt bad in spitting all those venomous words at him, but also good for taking this off my chest. It was true, I was a jealous little twit, but I couldn’t help how I felt. “I’ve always been... weak. That’s why they denied me the Harrowing, I lacked the necessary willpower to pass it. As kids we always got into trouble, but while it was easy for you to get away with it since you were such a talented student, well... to me it was a nightmare.”
“Wait.” he put a hand on my shoulder again, forcing me to look at him. “Are you telling me you were... jealous of me?”
“I still am.” I admitted. Who wouldn’t be? The Hero of Ferelden, the Mage Who Freed the Mages, the Survivor of Ostagar, the Champion of the King... compared to his, my life disappeared like a Mabari lunch tasting of wasted space.
“You...” Wow, Ewan was at loss for words for the first time since I met him. That’s quite a feat! “For Andraste’s sake Jowan! What you’ve done in the last five years is amazing! You’ve become a healer, for crying out loud, and I was in Wynne’s class too, so I remember it’s not an easy...”
“Don’t even start.” I cut him off, “Spirit healing is closer to blood magic than most people think. In both cases the mage channels energies directly from the fade with the help of a spirit... only blood magic requires body fluids and a demon.” I sighed, “Let’s face it, I’m a maleficar, and I always will be.”
He smiled at me and bumped his fist against my shoulder. A rush of emotions passed through me as I remember how many times we used to do that when we were together at the tower. “Don’t say that.” he said, “You’re just an apostate.”
“Oh, thank you very much.” I replied with mocked indignation.
“Hey, one of my men is an abomination.” he said grinning. I lost it and we both started laughing out loud.
“You’re kidding...” I managed to say through a fit of giggles.
“Nope... Justice abomination, long story.”
“Oh Maker... it is true what the Templars say, Grey Warden mages are all bad.”
“They’re just jealous because they can’t touch us.” he winked.
As the laughter subsided, he returned to the serious topics: “So... you didn’t tell me you were a blood mage because you were a blood mage because of me?”
What? “Er... yeah. Pretty much so.”
“But you didn’t tell anyone else, did you?”
“Well...” I hesitated. Ewan’s not going to like it. “I have to admit you weren’t the first one I asked for help...”
“What?” he stared at me incredulous for a second then he started massaging his forehead like he had the start of a headache. “Oh no, Jowan. Tell me you didn’t. Tell me I’m wrong because even you can’t be so stupid...”
Well, he figured that out himself, apparently.
“Tell me you didn’t ask her... don’t you dare say that name...”
Oh yes, he did figure out. “Eloise.” I confirmed with a sigh.
“Dammit!” he yelled at the heavens stomping a foot on the dirt. “With all the mages in the tower, the whole Templar-hating fraternities, Anders the escapist, me... you went and asked for help from Eloise Surana??” he shouted in my face.
I shook my head mortified. “She's a stick in the mud, but we were friends...”
“Jowan!” he cut me off, “Eloise had a crush on you since the day you said ‘Hello, I’m Jowan, you must be the new girl!’” he said mimicking my ten year-old voice. Maker, did I really sound like that?
“You know I am not very good at those sorts of things...” I tried to defend myself.
“Speaking of personal relationships, tell me something you’re good at.” he growled. Well, the Arcane Warrior knowledge did include twisting the knife, apparently.
“Truth to be told, I thought she had a crush on Cullen.” I muttered.
“Cullen? The Templar?” he narrowed his eyes at me in disbelief.
“Sure. She was always teasing and touching him, giggling around him, acting silly... so I thought...”
“Jowan...” he sighed, “Eloise didn’t have a crush on Cullen, it was the other way around. And for the record: all the teasing and yanking his chain was because since the day she discovered how much of an awkward he was, she made her personal mission to make the shade of his blush match the color of her hair.”
“Well...” I mumbled, “The first words she said when I introduced Lily to her was a huge hint about how she felt...”
“Why What did she say?”
“I believe her exact words were... ‘This fat cow is your lover?’
He kept staring at me in disbelief for a fraction of a second then he burst out laughing. “BWAHAHAHAHAHA! I’d have paid to see your face then!”
I frowned: this wasn’t funny. Ok, it was, but didn’t feel funny at the time. “Anyway she refused to help us... oddly enough she changed her mind, because after you left to go get the rod of fire from the repository, she returned saying she had decided to help us.”
His laughter came to an abrupt ending: “Wait... she what?”
“Yeah, she returned. Of course I told her we didn’t need her help anymore, you were onto it and she’d better keep low, I didn’t want her to risk exposure too... poor thing was so upset she started crying and stormed away mumbling something like ‘Jowan, forgive me’...”
“Great.” he said slapping his hand over his face, “After six years I know how we got busted...”
What? “What do you mean? You think...” oh no, how could I never have thought about it? Stupid as it sounds the thought never occurred to me... “You think she told Irving?”
“Jowan...” he sighed and started talking to me as I was a retarded kid, “You asked your... uh, ‘greatest fan’ to help you run away with your girlfriend. Seriously, what were you thinking?”
I was wondering that myself: “Maker I’m such a fool...”
“Can I kick your ass now?” he growled.
That sent us both into a new fit of laughter.

Meeting Ewan again, settling things with him, lifted a weight from my chest I didn’t realize was there. After we talked that afternoon, while he was chopping wood, the last six years were suddenly erased and we were back to where we left off when I fled the Circle. Later that evening, I invited him to my house: it was like he returned to visit me after some month, not after the whole five years we spent without even seeing each other. He told me that he considered me family, I felt the same way about him. He was the brother I never had, and I admit sometimes I felt jealous of Aed, his real brother, knowing they shared something Ewan and I didn’t.
“What does it feel like? Being a hero, I mean.” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes: “I don’t feel that special, truth be told. I had lots of help from many people... sometimes I think I don’t even deserve that title.” his eyes were clouded by a hint of sadness when he said that.
“You’re kidding, right? In less than a year you’ve stopped a Blight and a civil war almost single-handed!”
“I didn’t do it all by myself, Jowan!” he laughed.
“I know that, everybody knows that. But who in the world would ever think a group of ten people may stop a Blight?” I smiled at him, “We all know about your companions: King Alistair, Sister Leliana, the Sten of the Bereshaad, Senior Enchanter Wynne, Shale the Last Golem, Oghren of Orzammar... the Company of the Fifth Blight. You are all considered heroes, but it was you who ended the Blight, who dealt the final blow to the Archdemon... not to mention what you did afterwards, when you saved Amaranthine...”
He shifted uncomfortably on his chair scratching his neck. The Ewan I remembered would have laughed and boasted about his successes, exaggerating them to downplay his embarrassment with mock pride... what happened to him in all these years?
I tried to change subject without looking like I was doing it: “The people in the village keep asking me if and how well I knew you when I was in the Tower...”
“What do they know about you?”
I sighed: “As you might have noticed I use a false name... well, my father’s name actually, but I  thought West Hill was far enough for nobody to make the connection. I told them a very sketchy tale: that I was a Circle healer and I was sent to help the refugees during the war... Not that it was a complete lie, after I left Redcliffe that’s what I did.”
“And after the war?”
“I settled here as local healer. I claimed I was sent by the Circle, and the local Templar, Ser Scott, never investigated it... partially thanks to you and the King’s decree that gave the Circle independence within the territories of Ferelden. Besides, I healed him after a rough encounter with a dragonling, so he thinks he owes me and even if he suspects anything he covers for me.”
He smiled proudly: “I take it you did a lot of good here. Saved many lives...”
I ducked my head, embarrassed: “I did, I guess. But doing good things is a sort of... compensation for me... it makes me feel better about what I did to you, Lily and Arl Eamon.”
He nodded pensively: “Connor claimed he summoned the demon reading some book of yours...” he murmured.
Book? What book? “What do you mean?”
“I had the chance to talk to him before we entered the Fade to free him from the demon. He claimed he found a way to tear the Veil reading one of your books...”
I frowned. I didn’t have books about blood magic, and he should have known that: First Enchanter Irving removed them from the library and in any case apprentices weren’t allowed access to them unless they had the permission of three senior enchanters and a Templar supervising their reading... I did have some books but they were about... “Oh, I understand... he must have read my book on Spirit healing. It makes sense given his task to heal his father...”
“Spirit healing?” he asked perplexed.
My frown deepened: was he thinking I was making it up? “Remember what I told you about Spirit healing? It’s about channeling the energies from the Fade with the help of a benevolent spirit...”
His eyes widened as he understood what I meant: “That must be it: instead of a benevolent spirit, his desire to heal his father attracted a Desire demon... makes sense...” he shook he head, “I’m sorry I thought... well, never mind...”
Guilt washed over me. “You thought I still used blood magic after I fled the Circle, didn’t you?”
“I... yes.” he admitted.
“You were right.” I admitted in turn.
“Hey, I was on my own, I was hunted and there was a Blight going on, as you may have noticed! I had to defend myself from darskpawn and Templars, and blood magic was the only thing I was sort of good at!”
“I suppose... But now you quit it completely, right?”
I... uh... oh Maker. I put on my best imitation of puppy eyes I could manage.
“Jowan...” he groaned, dropping his face on his hand.
“WHAT? I know blood magic is dangerous, but you know what a twerp I am when it comes to magic! When I run out of mana, blood magic is the only thing that keeps me going, there’s no lyrium available here, you know! And don’t worry, I always managed to keep it from the local folks...”
He growled: “Jowan... I don’t care. You don’t need to justify yourself, I got over the fact you’re a blood mage, but blood magic...”
“...Is dangerous, I know.” I cut him short, “And I can be possessed and...”
“...And it’s traceable.”
“Templars have ways to track down blood magic... and blood mages. They don’t have your phylactery, but if you keep spreading your blood around they won’t need it. Blood magic has a distinct mark, just like the Blight. And just a Grey Warden can feel the darkspawn... a skilled Templar can feel you.”
Oh shit. He did have a point... “But they think I’m dead, don’t they?”
Devin’s voice interrupted our conversation: “Master Lewyn! Master Lewyn!”
The boy rushed in my small house panting: he look totally panicked: “Hurry master Lewyn! There’s a Templar in the village, he’s angry and he wants to see you!”
“Me?” I started to panic too, but Ewan just smiled.
“My, Devin, calm down... Templars always do rounds to check on mages...”
“Not this one.” he shook his head vigorously, “He looks like a madman, Ser Scott is trying to talk him down, but he already threatened to kill ma’am Lenora... just hurry, please!”
I turned to Ewan completely freaked out. “What am I gonna do?”
He frowned “Let’s see this Templar...”
He turned me around and gently pushed me towards the door. After a minute of hesitation, though, I felt his boot connecting to my butt.

We crossed the village following a panicking Devin, until I spotted the unknown Templar arguing with Ser Scott in front of the local chapel. There was a small crowd of people forming around them, all of them were trying to figure out what exactly was happening. The Templar had strange armour, somehow different from the ones I remembered in Kinlock Hold, it looked lighter and more comfortable. I understood why it looked different once I got withing hearing range: Ser Scott was complaining about jurisdiction. The Templar wasn’t Fereldan, apparently.
“This isn’t Kirkwall, Knight-Captain. Our healer has every right to be here unless the Circle revokes his permission, and even if that happened it would be my duty to escort him back, not yours.”
“You misunderstand my intentions, Knight-Lieutenant...” the other said, “I just want to see him. I believe we’re old acquaintances.”
Old acquaintances? I didn’t know anyone in... Did he say Kirkwall? Let alone a Knight-Captain Templar...
“With all due respect, old acquaintances my ass. I don’t know how you do things in the Marches, but you don’t threaten old ladies to get to a mage, who’s neither an apostate nor a maleficar. I don’t care if you’re technically my superior, you’re so out of jurisdiction I can kick your nuts and get a promotion out of it.”
“Of course you could...” the Knight-Captain said and ran his sword through Ser Scott’s torso.

I froze unable to process what just happened before my eyes. It just didn’t make any sense! Did a  Templar just stab... no, ran a sword through another Templar? Blood was everywhere, I heard many people screaming horrified while the Knight-Captain was yelling in a sing-song voice “Yoo-hoo? Is there a healer in the village?”
He had to be either a madman or a psychopath. I had to be careful, but Ser Scott was about to die...
“Did he... kill him?” I heard Devin cry.
“Not if I can help it!” I growled by pushing aside some men that were equally paralyzed in shock and started running towards the two Templars.
“No! WAIT!” Ewan yelled, but I ignored him. I reached the body of Ser Scott as the Templar turned to me.
“I’m a healer let me through!” I spat at him. He just grinned... did his face look familiar? I remembered this face... younger, not so rugged, without the eyebags and the beard, the red-gold hair combed and curly, not tangled and messy... no, he couldn’t be...
“Oooh, that’s a surprise.” he said.
“C-Cullen?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Is that you?”
Ewan hopped at his side, hands on his swords, but Cullen must have felt him, because he pointed his own sword at Ewan’s throat without even turning. “Let Lewyn heal him, Cullen.” he said, “If he dies you’re in big trouble.”
That had Cullen turning to Ewan with a smile. I got my chance and kneeled before Ser Scott starting a spell to halt the blood loss and mend his flesh.
“Trouble? There was a covenant of apostates right under his nose, the Fereldan order should thank me for doing his job.”
“We’re not apostates, and even if we were you couldn’t arrest us. You’re out of jurisdiction, Greagoir and the other Knight-Commanders wouldn’t appreciate what you’re doing, especially after you tried to kill a Knight-Lieutenant.”
You”, he growled, “assisted this maleficar during his escape, and supported blood mages during Uldred’s rebellion.”
“I’m a Grey Warden.”
“You may be an abomination for all we know, and to me you’re as good as one.”
I glanced up while still casting my spell on the wounded man. I was about to stabilize him, but the sparkle of madness I saw in Cullen’s eyes almost broke the spell I was holding. It was frightening. There was something there, he looked... possessed.
“Lewyn is not a maleficar.” Ewan said out loud, I believe mostly for the townsfolk’s ears.
“But his name is not Lewyn, right.” the other grinned.
I grimaced. He didn’t want to just kill me, he wanted to expose me. “Cullen... don’t.” Ewan murmured, but he ignored him.
“His name... his real name is Jowan.” he shouted. “Wanted maleficar and known blood mage. He fled the Circle using blood magic with the assistance of the so-called Hero of Ferelden here.” he waved his sword at Ewan, “And I’m here to execute him!”
Ewan grabbed the hilts of his swords, but I stopped him. I looked around and everyone was staring at me with horrified expressions.
I felt Cullen grabbing my hair and yanking me up. Thankfully I had healed Ser Scott enough that common medicine would have finished the job just fine.
“Oh, this is a dream come true, Wintersend came early for me this year...” the Templar hissed, “I always wanted to be the one to be the one to find you, Jowan... I always wanted to kill you...” he added with a whisper in my ear.
Adrenaline rushed through me as he brought his sword to my throat. I didn’t want to die, but I was unable to think of anything... he was a Templar and he wanted to kill me, what could I do? I had no magic left in me after the spell I had cast to save Ser Scott...
“Cullen, let him go!” Ewan commanded while he was unsheathing his swords. I had never seen them out of their scabbards: one of them looked like it was made of bone... dragon bone, perhaps, as it was flaming, while the other had an electric aura and was made out of a metal I had never seen before, with veins of glowing material running through it, like silverite with lyrium veins. They looked lethal and well made, probably perfectly balanced, but heavy... I guessed if it wasn’t for the “Arcane Warrior magic” he mentioned before he’d never be able to swing them as he was now: Ewan was toned and strong for a mage, but he certainly wasn’t a warrior... Cullen must have known that too, since I felt my  skin tickle as he was tapping into lyrium-based energies.
“Stay out of this, Grey Warden, your magic is useless...” he grinned as Ewan’s arm faltered suddenly under the sword’s weight. “...Including your Arcane Warrior magic.” he added with a laugh.
“I don’t need Arcane Warrior magic to kick your crazy ass.” Ewan growled.
“Is that so?” Cullen laughed. I would have laughed too: without spells and barely able to lift his weapons I didn’t see him as a threat to Cullen anymore, Mighty Warden as he may be, Hero of Ferelden and all. “Well, let’s verify this after I give this maleficar what he deserves...”
“Cullen, wait!” he said letting his weapons fall. I didn’t understand, what was he trying to do?
“Wait? Why? Haven’t I waited long enough?”
“This is not a matter of duty, and you know it only too well... this is about her. You’re just jealous.”
Her? Who’s her?
Jealous of this maleficar?”
“She loves this maleficar. Killing him wouldn’t change her feelings.”
What? Who in the Maker’s boogers’ name is he talking about? Then I remembered what he said earlier: Eloise? Really, Ewan? He’s holding a sword to my throat and all you can do is bring up kindergarten issues?
“He’s an insult in the eyes of the Maker!”
Oh, thanks a lot, Cullen... but what was Ewan doing? It looked like he was trying to piss him off... or buying some time. But why? Was he expecting someone to come to the rescue? Or should I do something?
“You’re pathetic!” Ewan laughed, “You wave around your Knight-Captain insignia, but you’re nothing more than a naïve fool who failed even at being useless!”
Ok, pissing him off sounds more like it...
“Don’t you dare!” Cullen growled yanking my head backwards and pushing his blade against my throat. I felt strangely at peace, then, like I accepted my fate and my death...
“Oh, Cullen...” Ewan smirked, “Don’t you see? You just made a mistake not even the youngest rookie would have made... only an idiot would hold a maleficar so close to him while he’s covered in blood.”
I felt Cullen hesitate, losing his grip on my hair. His sword lowered as if in disbelief, as I felt his body remove its pressure over my back. I got what Ewan was looking for: for me to use blood magic, exploiting the one Cullen himself spilled when stabbing Ser Scott. It could work. It had to work...
...Then I saw Devin’s face, still hopeful despite he had learned the truth about me. I understood: it was one thing to hear your friendly neighbor mage was a maleficar, another thing to actually see it yourself. No, I...
“No, don’t make do it...” I whispered, I don’t know if I was talking to Ewan or to Cullen, “Please...”
“Oh sh...” I heard Cullen gasp. He had finally realized he was standing in a pool of blood, a portal I could use to unleash unspeakable horrors over him...
“JOWAN, FRY HIM, DAMMIT!” Ewan shouted.
I did it.
Feeling the dark power of the spilled blood around me, I channeled into a burning energy and sent it right through Cullen’s body. I heard him scream in pain: the Blood Wound spell was the most powerful I ever cast, mainly because I had the most blood in hand I ever had. Ser Scott’s blood. Blood Cullen spilled, and now I was returning to him the same pain he inflicted over my Templar friend tenfold.
Thinking about it like that helped, surprisingly. I didn’t feel bad. It didn’t feel good either, but I knew I wasn’t doing something completely wrong.
I burned off all the blood in the square with this, and I felt Cullen collapse over me, throwing me off balance. We both fell to the ground, and all my strength rushed out of me with the adrenaline. I was exhausted.
Ewan rushed to me, helping me up while the crowd around us was keeping its distance. Devin was also trying to reach me, but his father was holding him in place.
“Are you all right?” he asked me.
“I must heal him...” I croaked.
“You did, Ser Scott’s out of...”
“No, not him.” I said, “Cullen. I hit too hard, he’s gonna...”
“Wait.” Ewan grabbed my shoulder and turned me to him. I squirmed, trying to get out of his grasp and he rested his forehead against mine, forcing me to look at him. “Listen to me for a second. If you heal him now he’ll try to kill you again. I don’t know what he sniffed or smoked or how much lyrium he has in his blood, we must take him away, move him where he can’t hurt anyone else...”
I calmed down: he was making sense. I nodded and he helped me up. As we were lifting an unconscious Cullen to carry him away,  all the townsfolk were looking at me disgusted and frightened... who could blame them after the little show I put up?
Apparently Ewan: “And remember this, you all...” he shouted to the crowd making them startle, “This man is the same one who saved all your asses at least once or twice during the last five years. He’s still your healer and you all owe him your lives one way or the other... including today...” he shifted Cullen’s body over his shoulder so he was carrying the majority of his weight. I sighed as I was still too weak to carry my share of the armored warrior. “Try to remember that too, when you think of ‘Jowan the Maleficar’. He and master Lewyn are one and the same, remembering only the dangers and horrors magic brings is too convenient.” he finished as he started towards the town borders.

I had so little possessions of my own, it took me barely a few minutes to collect them as we were leaving the village. All I owned fit in my satchel: alchemy supplies, a few books a couple of changes of clothes and some food. Five years of my life in a half-empty bag, talk about pathetic.
We had reached the outskirts of the Brecilian Forest when Cullen started to come to his senses. Ewan dropped him to the ground without much care, I tried to be gentler, but it was Ewan who held the head part...
Cullen moaned as I stretched my back: “Ouch, he’s heavy...” I whined.
“And the armor doesn’t make him lighter.” Ewan scoffed, “We should have stripped him in the village.” he said as he started keeping away all the remaining weapons the Templar had on him.
“Good idea... why didn’t we?” I asked. Why do good ideas always come a minute too late?
“Because there were kids and ladies looking.” Ewan smirked and I chuckled.
“I’m getting too old for this kind of thing.” I whined.
“Old but powerful.” Ewan laughed nervously, “You weren’t kidding when you said you were good at blood magic. I’ve had my share of fight with blood mages, starting with Uldred, but I’ve never seen something like this...”
He sounded genuinely impressed, but I wasn’t in the mood: “It’s not something I’m proud of.” I said frowning. “And you’d better leave before he wakes up.” I added nodding at Cullen.
He blinked at me “Leave? Why?”
“Because I don’t want you to be associated with me more than you already are. You’re the Hero of Ferelden, you can’t fight a Templar to save a blood mage.”
“Nonsense.” he scowled.
“Seriously, Ewan, you’ve already exposed yourself too much. I’m tired of exposing people to danger for what I am, it’s time I face the consequences of my choices...”
He scoffed, “Do you think I’m afraid of the crazy rogue Templar who plays the badass-maleficar-hunter?”
“Maybe you’re not, but I am. He’ll be pissed off when he wakes up, and I don’t want you to...”
“It won’t be the first time I see a retarded Templar rise and shine, and I know what he’ll want.” he added showing me a small leather pouch with the Chantry seal on it.
I was about to ask what it was when Cullen started to wake up with a moan.
“Here we go.” Ewan chuckled and knelt beside him.
“Be careful.” I told him.
Cullen lifted his head and croaked “What... what happened?”
“Hello sunshine.” Ewan mocked him. “Did you sleep well?”
“This... this is... where is...” Cullen asked still unfocused, searching frantically at his belt with his hands.
“Looking for this?” Ewan asked him showing him the pouch. He opened it and I felt the contents inside.
“That’s Lyrium!” I exclaimed. “Why does he...?”
“Templars develop their ability by consuming lyrium.” Ewan explained, “Alas, it has the side-effect of being quite addictive... isn’t that so Cullen?”
Cullen clawed at Ewan’s arm trying to reach the pouch. “Give... give it to me.” he hissed. His eyes looked even crazier than before, but he didn’t look threatening at all, he looked... miserable. Pathetic. Ewan shrugged him off effortlessly and stood up as Cullen crawled towards him.
“No, no Culley, that’s a baaad idea...” Ewan said shaking his head.
“It’s a bad idea not handing it over, mage!” he growled as he was charging a smiting, but instead of summoning the usual strike of holy force, his fist hissed and popped a small cloud of white smoke.
“What the...?”
“Withdrawal.” Ewan explained. “Your power are inhibited, Cullen, it looks like lately your willpower was replaced by lyrium... a shame, really.” he shook his head.
Cullen started panicking and grabbed Ewan’s tabard with both hands: “Please, give it to me, I’m sick!”
“Sick? Of course you’re sick, but what you feel now is you getting better. See, the funny thing of all this is that you need lyrium to develop your powers, but you don’t need it to maintain them. Ask King Alistair: Templar powers are similar to magic, they depend on your will. But the chantry keeps giving you lyrium... because it’s addictive. It’s the perfect method of control: the chantry controls the lyrium trade so they control the Templar order. Otherwise you could claim your independence and separate magic enforcement from theological zealots... why should a warrior bow to a chantry sister, otherwise?” Cullen started sobbing, his face glistening with tears and snot, “Yes Cullen, they lied to you. But I promise it will be better in a couple of days. In the meantime I’ll keep this.” Ewan said securing the pouch to his belt.
The scene was heart-breaking: “Ewan...” I said, “He’s really sick, couldn’t you...”
“Sick?” he turned at me with anger, “Of course he’s sick. I don’t know what demon pissed on his breakfast, but the last thing he needs now is more lyrium. Ask Ser Scott!” he turned to Cullen again and growled “You disgust me. What in the name of the Maker were you trying to accomplish tonight? You almost killed a fellow Templar, scared the Fade out an entire village and exposed the only blood mage in Thedas who was trying to redeem himself. You must be proud of yourself!”
“Maker’s mercy!” I threw myself between him and the Templar, shielding Cullen from all the venom he was spitting at him, “Stop torturing him! He was just doing his duty!”
“His duty?” Ewan laughed, “His duty is in Kirkwall. He was transferred years ago, after he attacked a group of apprentices in the library along with their instructor, one of my Wardens! And you know what he got out of it? A promotion. He has nothing to do with Ferelden or you anymore.”
“Then why did he come here?”
“That’s what I want to find out.” he glanced at the Templar who was now reduced at a sobbing lump of armor and limbs. “He looked crazed... unfocused. Probably under the influence of something... or someone. I refuse to believe otherwise: the Cullen I used to know wouldn’t act like he acted today.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” I admitted.
I remembered Cullen from the Tower, he was one of the youngest recruits, about our age and, as all the young Templars, an idealist. There are three types of Templar recruits: the most common are the ones who join the order because they have no other talent but fighting and don’t know the right people to become a squire or a guard nor enough money to afford the equipment needed to join the army. Then there are the ones who join just to slay mages, either for a personal vendetta or because they think we’re all abominations and our powers are sinful. Cullen was of the third type: real believers, those who consider their mission to help mages in helping mankind and stopping those who try to rule it, those who don’t condemn us all for our power but judge each mage for our actions, those who consider us people first, and mages as a consequence of our humanity. He wasn’t the man I had seen that night. Something had changed him.
My thoughts were interrupted by Cullen’s lament: he had grabbed Ewan’s leg again and he was pleading with him with unintelligible words: “Pleease...” was the only thing I deciphered.
“Oh, COME ON!” Ewan shouted in frustration before pushing him away, “Get a grip on yourself, will ya!”
I sighed and shook my head. “I’ll go fetch some wood for a fire...” I announced, “I don’t think my presence will help him, and we need a fire anyway if we’re gonna camp here for the night.” I glanced towards the village: we were far away but I could still see some the torch lights shining through some windows in the distance. “Try at least not to be too much of a jerk to him, though. That won’t help him either.” I added before turning to the forest and walking away.
When I glanced back, I saw Ewan sitting by a sobbing Cullen, his hand hesitantly caressing his head in a soothing manner.
I wondered again what had they experienced to change so much in those five years.
Both of them.

“Are you feeling better?” I asked Cullen handing him a bowl of soup I had managed to put together with the food supplies I had at hand. Luckily, Ewan was well stocked for traveling, but my pantry was almost empty and mostly filled with perishable food, so I decided to put it all together and consume it before it got spoiled.
“Not talking to you, maleficar.” he growled in response. I sighed: I wasn’t expecting him to hug me and tell me he was sorry, but I hoped we could start over on a civil basis...
“If I were you I’d try to be more civil.” Ewan remarked, “Jowan may have hit you hard and with blood magic, but he saved Ser Scott - and you, from a lot of troubles. Besides had he not stopped you, you may have done more things you’d be regretting now.”
“I’d rather die than eat something a blood mage cooked.” Cullen hissed. There was still a spark of madness in his eyes, but he looked more focused, as if whatever had turned him crazy was subsiding as the lyrium withdrawal progressed.
Ewan grabbed Cullen’s bowl and set it beside his, “If you’re not hungry, then I’ll eat it. We Grey Wardens are famous for our appetite and I can’t stand seeing food go to waste.” he said dryly.
“You changed, Ewan.” I said.
“We all did.” he clipped.
I sighed. I didn’t mean to voice my thoughts but I was thrown off balance by his behavior: when we were in Dragon’s Claw he acted just like the Ewan I always knew, perhaps more mature, but still my friend. The person that was sitting in front of me now was different: hardened, unsympathetic... oh, damn it, he was acting like a Mabari bitch with fleas!
“I don’t know if I like it.” I admitted.
“Well, you should think about what made me change, then.” he snapped.
I bowed my head, not in shame but in comprehension. He wasn’t accusing me, we were over this, but I knew he had seen and done things during the Blight and after I couldn’t even begin to imagine. He was my friend Ewan, but he was also The Warden, the Hero of Ferelden, the Survivor of Ostagar who killed the Hero of River Dane in a duel, the Defender of Amaranthine... how many battles,  how many losses, how many years of a Grey Warden’s life can a smart, joyful, crazy prank-lover apprentice live through before turning into the man I was dining with? Thinking about it, even the fact that enough of him survived so I could still see him under the layers of the hardened leader he had become was quite a feat!
“Oh yes..,” Cullen scoffed, “Poor Warden! Betrayed by his maleficar boyfriend, recruited by the bad Wardens... he saw horrible things to become the incensed Hero everyone in Ferelden praises.”
“Fuck off, Cullen.” Ewan muttered with his mouth full.
“I should have killed you when I had the chance, during your Harrowing.” he mumbled.
“And then who would have saved your sorry ass from Uldred?” Ewan remarked.
I had to stop this conversation before things got out of hand: “By the way, what happened to Eloise?” I asked trying to drive the subject over other topics.
“Jowan...” Ewan tried to warn me but I ignored him. Yes, I knew Cullen had a crush on her, but maybe talking about her was a pleasant topic to him... unless...
“Was she at the Tower when Uldred started the revolt?” I asked in a whisper.
“I didn’t see her.” Ewan whispered back, “But maybe it’s better to...”
“She died at Ostagar.” Cullen deadpanned. We both stared at him in disbelief: Eloise dead? That couldn’t be! I hadn’t see her in years but I could remember her just fine: her minute figure, her contagious laughter, her maroon hair and green eyes that seemed to be too big for her face, even for an elf...
“She wasn’t at Ostagar!” Ewan stated. He was looking at Cullen curiously, as if he was expecting him to go nuts any second, perhaps he thought he was having some withdrawal-induced hallucination?
“She was.” Cullen insisted, “She left with two other mages a day or two after you and that Warden... Duncan. Irving had managed to persuade Greagoir to support the king’s request for more mages in the army and she volunteered. She never returned.”
Ewan scoffed: “Then I’m sure she didn’t die in the battle: there’s no way they could make it in time for it.”
Cullen’s head snapped up to look at Ewan in the eyes for the first time since I returned with the wood. “The trip from Kinloch Hold to Ostagar is usually a week long,” Ewan explained, “Duncan made me do it in five days. We got there in the morning and the battle started the same day at dusk, she had to be still in Lothering when we fought.”
“You mean she didn’t fight?” Cullen whispered in disbelief with a faint hint of hope in his voice, “Why did she never return then?”
“Why was she supposed to?” I thought out loud, “She never liked the Cir...”
Ewan coughed cutting me off. Woops, I didn’t realize I was talking, and certainly suggesting his school sweetheart turned apostate at the first chance she got is not a good way to calm down a crazy Templar...
“Maybe she was cut off by the Blight, that’s why.” he offered, “It took at least two days for the news to reach Lothering, and by the time she and the other mages  reached Ostagar they would have found the place only overrun by darkspawn. Or maybe they joined Loghain’s platoon: they probably encountered them as they were travelling south while the army was moving north... or maybe they assisted a group of surviving soldiers: Eloise was a good healer, so maybe...” he shrugged, “There’s plenty of reasons. The fact she didn’t return doesn’t mean she’s dead or turned apostate, she may have even gone abroad and joined another circle in Nevarra or Orlais...”
“I... I see.” Cullen studied his feet for a moment pondering Ewan’s words. “Some mages did that... a lot of Fereldans came to Kirkwall, some mages... Knight-Commander Meredith accused them of apostasy, but they always claimed they fled the Blight, not the Circle...” his stomach let out a loud roar and he glanced at Ewan’s feet, where his bowl of soup was still sitting untouched. “Are you really going to eat that?” he asked in a small whine, ogling the food.
Ewan smiled and passed him the bowl: “Here. You must be starving.”
Cullen took the bowl and whispered a “Thank you.”
We just sat there eating, the popping of the fire and the rustle of the tree branches the only sound in the night.

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 2
This is a revised version of the story - not all parts match the comic version as they were adapted to the events and lore revealed after Dragon Age: Awakening. As it is, it may contain spoilers, hints or references at subsequent plots like Dragon Age IIDragon Age: InquisitionDragon Age LegendsThe Stolen ThroneThe CallingThe Silent GroveThe Last CourtThe Masked Empire and The Last Flight.

Here is the second chapter of a revised version of my comic In Peace Vigilance in the form of novel. If you want to know how the story ends, I suggest you to read it, as while I plan to continue the comic version and adapt it to this revised narration, I really have no deadline for it. When it will be up, I'll probably do a massive upload of the whole story, but in the meantime I decided to deliver it in this format.
This part doesn't has slight modifications but doesn't differ much from the original story, and most of the changes are to fit better Cullen's new role in the story post-DA2 as I did already in the edited pages of the comic version. The dialogues have also been a little bit expanded so to give a better rendition of Jowan's POV and personality, as well as explore a bit the Jowan/Ewan relationship.

Previous chapter:  In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 1
I. Keepers of the Keep
My name is Ewan Amell, formerly mage of the Circle of Kinloch Hold, Warden Commander of Ferelden and ruler of the Arling of Amaranthine.
Most people know me as the Hero of Ferelden.
Five years ago I saved Thedas from the Blight, and while I was at it I put two kings on the throne, arranged a royal marriage, ended a millenarian curse, gave the Circle independence and found a lover. It may sound like I’m some sort of superhuman, but it was mostly desperation and common sense driving me, while some help from my friends, allies and sheer luck made me succeed. Only those who really know me believe me when I say that, and there’s few of them.
Perhaps it is better this way: people need someone to look up to, a hero, and while it makes me uncomfortable to cover such a role, well... what can you do?
I have lived for the last five years in Vigil’s Keep, and that’s where I was when a letter from Jerrik Dace arrived, asking me for h
Next Chapter: COMING SOON

Special thanks to Wirls and Rowlina for proof reading and editing.
Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction based on the BioWare's videogame "Dragon Age: Origins" and its sequels and expansions. 
The story was originally scripted as a comic before "Dragon Age: Asunder" and "Dragon Age: Redemption" were released, this is a rewriting of the story, but I tried to keep it as similar as the original, including scenes that were originally cut and modifying what I didn't like or what was proved wrong in the sequels. I played all the games and documented myself through the novels, the codex entries, the offical comics and the Dragon Age Wiki, so if the comic explicitly contradicts some established lore it's because I decided it would fit the story better. If you intend to educate me on the True Dragon Age Lore, introduce yourself as David Gaider or save your keyboard.
All characters, except those not fitting the game belong to Bioware; their rendition is not to consider canon but a personal interpretation based on the work of the original writers. Aed Amell is a character created by emedeme and used with permission. All other characters are mine, based on BioWare's background for the player character if and when given.
The story is a "fan fiction" so it's not part of any official lore: any lore that has not included in the game is to be intended as speculation or plot device. Feel free to accept these headcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As it is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC, Dialogue Tweaks and some others - to be honest I don't remember them all.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.
As I had hinted, today I released the first chapter of In Peace Vigilance novelization, as writing is faster than drawing and though I plan to (eveeeentually) finish the comic, I prefer to deliver a final version of the story ASAP since I want to focus on other (original) projects.
There are ten chapters of it, and they will be released each saturday at midnight GMT (so friday 10 PM my time). I sugges those who have read the comic to read AT THE VERY LEAST from chapter 5 on, since from that point the story has been slightly changed from the comic version due to the revelations of what an Eluvian is exactly in The Masked Empire first and Dragon Age Inquisition later, so it changed a bit of things (Including Uther's name that's now the more lore-friendly "Kieran").
After I'll publish all the single chapters, I'll release also a epub file with some illustration included to be read comfortably on your reader of choice. : 3

I. Keepers of the Keep

My name is Ewan Amell, formerly mage of the Circle of Kinloch Hold, Warden Commander of Ferelden and ruler of the Arling of Amaranthine.
Most people know me as the Hero of Ferelden.
Five years ago I saved Thedas from the Blight, and while I was at it I put two kings on the throne, arranged a royal marriage, ended a millenarian curse, gave the Circle independence and found a lover. It may sound like I’m some sort of superhuman, but it was mostly desperation and common sense driving me, while some help from my friends, allies and sheer luck made me succeed. Only those who really know me believe me when I say that, and there’s few of them.
Perhaps it is better this way: people need someone to look up to, a hero, and while it makes me uncomfortable to cover such a role, well... what can you do?

I have lived for the last five years in Vigil’s Keep, and that’s where I was when a letter from Jerrik Dace arrived, asking me for help in a search and rescue mission in the deep roads. While on my way back, I heard some rumours that led me to the Korcari Wilds in search of Morrigan, my old friend and mother of my child. Yes, I have a son, but I’ve never met him: he’s Maker knows where now, but his mother says he’s fine, and I can only hope they are safe and that what she told me is true. Despite it all, I still trust her.
I found her in the Dragonbone Wastes and we had our farewell moment before she went through the Eluvian to a place beyond my reach. Her words and my visit to the Circle Tower had me thinking since I split from Ariane and Finn that I should return to the Keep: she spoke of new threats, changes and upcoming challenges, and I have still loose ends to tie up before I can truly move on. Thanks to her I survived the Blight, but I’m not sure I will be able to survive what’s to come... and if I have to be completely honest, despite having to deal with Harvesters, Varterrals, dwarven ghosts and wild beasts, it felt good to be on the road again. The Keep was starting to feel a little too much like the Circle, and I thought I should follow Anders’ example and go.

As expected, once I arrived at the Keep, Senechal Varel was waiting for me with a billion things to take care of, and since wasn’t in the mood I made a quick excuse and retired to my study to read some letters that arrived while I was away. One of them was from Zevran, he was still hunted by the Crows, despite the fact that he killed the Guildmaster, and he was thinking to hide for some time in Kirkwall... I entertained the idea of joining him, I had friends there and...
Oghren’s voice startled me: “Are you proof reading my letter for little Ewan?” he asked. ‘Little Ewan’ is his son, named after me.
“Not quite. This letter is for big Ewan.”
“Oh, who’s writing to you? The elf?” he glanced briefly at the page while I nodded, “Then I don’t wanna know.”
“No, you really don’t.” I laughed. Zevran can get quite graphic when writing to me, especially when he gets to the “If I was there with you...” part.
“Commander.” Nathaniel’s voice at the door interrupted our banter, “Guess who’s back?”
I turned and saw Anders standing behind Nate. Speak of the demon - no pun intended...
My smile froze as soon as it started forming: Anders looked horrible. He had lost weight, had livid bags under his eyes and looked like he hadn’t shaved in weeks. I hoped he had just a rough trip from Kirkwall, not a rough life in the City of Chains...
“Anders. How did your lecture at the Circle go?” I asked him, using the cover story we had agreed on when he left the Keep. I wanted to keep his abomination status as hidden as possible, for both his and Justice’s sake: we may be Wardens but we’re still mages and the templars in Amaranthine would never allow a possessed mage to live, albeit him being a Justice abomination. My being a mage already exposed me to rumours and suspicion, not counting the endless conspiracies. Nate knew but Oghren didn't: not that I didn’t trust him, but he was a drunkard and he tended to speak a little too freely when his drink count got to the double digits.
“Not bad”, he sighs, “But I thought it was time to return.”
“I thought you said your time with the Wardens was over...” I objected. Actually I had suggested that last time I saw him, not long after he allowed Justice to enter his body. Kristoff’s body was beheaded during the siege of Vigil’s Keep by the Mother’s disciples, but Justice was still floating around it, unable to return to the Fade. A spirit can’t live long in the physical world unless it’s hosted in a body, and Anders volunteered to give him a vessel before it was scattered in the Void. As noble as it sounds, though, Anders was still an abomination, technically, so I sent him away on a mission, to limit the risk of exposure of his condition.
“I thought that too...” he said, “But I missed you guys. And my little friend here.” he added scratching Ser Pounce-A-Lot’s head.
“How are things in the Circle?” I asked. I didn’t mean Kinloch Hold, of course, but the Gallows of Kirkwall.
“Not so bad now that the mages have the right to look after themselves and the templars don’t have to approve every mage’s action and movement...” he answered. “The king’s decree changed many things for Ferelden, I just wish things were the same for the other circles as well.”
I nodded. He wrote to me regularly, I knew Knight Commander Meredith ruled the Gallows - and the city, since the Arishok killed Viscount Dumar - with an iron fist.
“You can’t help but feel the place is like the prison it used to be, right?”
“You have no idea...” he said. “I understand magic is dangerous, but... well, I hope this new course stays this way as long as possible.”
Meaning: he hoped things change soon, before it’s too late. I hoped that too: I had family in Kirkwall.
“You plan to stay here long?” I asked him.
“Maybe... I don’t know.” he sounded doubtful, conflicted... we needed to talk.
“Why do you ask him?” Oghren interjected, “He’s one of us, Sparkle-fingers can stay here as long as he wants.”
“Of course, Oghren, but since I was planning to find a substitute I wanted to know if I could count on his availability.”
“You what?” the three of them exclaimed at unison.
“What do you mean? Are you planning on leaving?” Nathaniel asked.
“For some time.” I sighed.
“You plan to join the elf in his quest against the Crows, don’t you?” Oghren frowned.
“What elf?” Nate asked.
“Don't you know Nathaniel? Our commander's lover is a former Antivan Crow.” Anders laughed.
“You know, usually I find myself too busy to collect gossip around the Keep.” Howe replied.
“You're no fun.”
“Anyway... yes, I plan to go to Antiva to help Zevran.” after I take care of another matter, I thought, “After the expedition in the Deep Roads and my personal quest for Morrigan I think I deserve a vacation, and that would do.”
“Fighting the Crows? Way to go for a vacation, warden.” Oghren chuckled.
“Why do you call him Warden?” Anders wondered, “We’re all Wardens here.”
“Old habits,” the dwarf replied, “I’ve called him such since I was a drunk in Orzammar...”
“Since you were a drunk?” Anders grinned amused.
“Pft, semantics.” the dwarf scoffed.
“And as I will be away for some time”, I continued, “I would like Nathaniel to replace me in the administration of the Arling.”
“What? Why me?” he sounded surprised.
I smiled to him. “Nate, you’re a Howe, Rendon’s son, the banns should trust you more than they would have trusted me. In fact you've been raised to become Arl of Amaranthine, they should appreciate if I put you in charge instead of Oghren... no offence.”
“None taken.” the dwarf grunted, “I take it you plan on taking me with you?”
“Not exactly. I think you'll be an excellent recruiter for the order, and ambassador for the king.”
“What?” he frowned, “A desk job? Diplomacy? You know that’s not my mug of ale.”
“Oghren, you and I have been together since the Blight... you know Alistair and Anora, how Denerim politics works, we put Bhelen on the throne together, you can reason with Eamon and beat Teagan in drinking contests... plus you know the Grey Wardens far better than the others of the Vigil, you were at the gates of Denerim while I slew the Archdemon, in the Deep Roads when we discovered the Anvil of the Void... and you’re a trained warrior of Orzammar, you know the darkspawn almost better than I do. I can’t think of a better man to fill the position.”
The dwarf seemed to ponder my words then he nodded. “I’m your man... If Howe agrees to proofread my letters for Felsi and Ewan.”
“Maker preserve us,” Nate whined “you got your priorities sorted...”
“Thank you guys.” I smiled, “I know I can trust you.”

I was relaxing on the balcony of the Vigil when Anders joined me. The evening was stretching slowly over the plains and the Knotwood Hills and the Feravel Plains. No matter how long I had lived there, I still couldn’t think of the place as “home”. Leaving Amaranthine didn’t make me feel nostalgic or on the verge of a great change... it just felt right. Like it was about damn time I did it.
“Are you sure of this?” Anders asked me.
“Sure of what?” I asked.
“Leaving the Wardens without a two-week notice. You just returned here.”
“So did you.” I observed, “And I take it you plan to return to Kirkwall.”
“Eventually, maybe...” he sighed, “But not any time soon... there’s so much I must think over.”
“I read your report over the incident in the Vimmark...” I started, but cut me off.
“It’s not for what happened in Corypheus’ prison.” he started, “It’s Justice. I feel like he’s taking over, he’s stronger by the day, and I’m not sure I can trust myself any more, not where Meredith is concerned.”
“Meredith or Elthina?” I objected. His letters were filled with snide remarks about the Grand Cleric’s inactivity over the conflicts of the city and how her silent disapproval did nothing to remove Knight Commander Meredith from the position of absolute power she managed to get after the Viscount’s demise. The only person who seemed to have any real influence over the city without being tied to her was the Champion: my cousin Aiden Hawke.
I had found curious of the fact that Anders had met him of all people once he arrived in Kirkwall shortly after the battle of the Dragonbone Wastes. Apparently my cousin had fled from Lothering where he lived with aunt Leandra - my mom’s cousin - and his twin siblings Carver and Bethany. I had met Carver a couple of years before, he had joined the order when he got infected by the Blight during the Tethras expedition in the deep roads, the very expedition that made my cousin Aiden rich enough to be able to get back the Amell estate in Kirkwall’s Hightown. He had to thank Anders for that: not only he gave him the maps to enter the Deep Roads, but had he not been there Carver would have died just like his sister Bethany, who was killed by an Ogre while they were trying to reach Gwaren. I never met Aiden, but both Carver and Anders spoke fondly of him... well, mostly Anders, but I suspect it’s because there’s something between the two of them. Carver harbors some resentment towards his brother, but I believe that’s because he’s a difficult man to be a younger sibling of, living in his shadow. He seemed to hold the same diffidence towards me at first, but I managed to get through his barriers and we became sort of friends, we still write to each other since he returned to Ansburg’s headquarters.
“Both of them.” he finally admitted, “I am confused, Ewan, I can’t understand where my thoughts end and where his begin... I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?”
“Scared I might do something... drastic.” he finally admitted.
I sighed. “I understand... but sometimes our duty as Grey Wardens requires us meddle in matters that apparently don’t belong to our jurisdiction. Did you manage to track down the Idol, by the way?”
He shook his head. During the Tethras expedition Aiden and his partner Varric found an Idol made of pure lyrium... red lyrium. Lyrium is usually blue and Anders thought it was worth mentioning in one of his letters, good thing because it turned out the idol drove Varric’s brother nuts and made him try to kill the both of them, along with Anders and Carver. Bartrand sold the idol, and no one knew where it was, unsettling considering it was an artifact capable of influencing a dwarf, who are known for being quite resistant to magic, to the point of madness.
The fact the idol was found in the deep roads, and so exposed to maker knows what form of Blight or Old God’s magic, made the situation even more creepy.
“No clue on that.” he admitted, “But I know Varric is working on it.”
I nodded in acknowledgement.
“So.” he said eventually, “Where do you really plan to go?”
“I’m sorry?”
“You are not going to Antiva: I saw the letter on your desk, and your lover mentioned he was moving to Kirkwall to get the Crows off his tail. You aren’t coming to Kirkwall either, or you would have already told me, so what are your real plans now?”
I sighed. I trusted Anders, we were both mages and we both came from the same Circle, even if we weren’t around in the same cliques during our apprenticeship we both know of each other. He was the great escapist, the reason we weren’t allowed to swim in Lake Calenhad any more, the guy from the Anderfels, while I was the teacher’s pet, the one from the good family, one of the Amell brothers, the ones of the infamous incident of the Alchemy Lab...
Aed. I haven’t thought of my brother in ages... well, half brother, actually: he was the son of our mother Revka’s husband while I was conceived before her wedding and never met my father - I’m told he was a Gallows’ Templar. That’s also the reason we got our mother’s family name, since I was born before she married and she insisted Aeddard and I had the same surname. We were really close when we were little, but as we were growing up we started growing apart as well. He got transferred to Dairsmuid shortly before my Harrowing, and since I was recruited into the Grey Wardens right after, I haven’t had the chance to hear from him in years.
My recruitment was also part of the reason I was leaving.
“I never told you how I was recruited into the Order, did I?”
“Can’t say you have. I know you were at Ostagar...”
“I believe you weren’t in the tower when it happened, but maybe you heard of the incident: I helped a maleficar to escape the circle.”
“Wait... you mean Jowan?” he sounded surprised, but then added “Of course it was you!”
“So you know the story?”
“Of course I do. I actually was in the tower at the time, just caught after my fourth escape attempt, serving in the templar’s laundry... one month washing templar’s trousers, ugh...”
I chuckled and nodded.
“Anyway, they said there was a blood mage who had a relationship with an initiate and persuaded her and a newly harrowed mage to help him destroy his phylactery and escape. When I learned he was Jowan and I didn’t see you around anymore I assumed you were the culprit, but then I forgot about it.”
I sighed: “Yes,’twas me.”
“And here I was thinking I was the first apostate you saved! You have a strange hobby.” he mused.
“It was different with you, Anders, but you may have a point...”
“What do you mean?”
“My experience with Jowan made me see the world and our condition under a different point of view: we’re feared for what we are, not for what we do. Sometimes we can make normal people treat us like any other, make them forget we’re mages, but it never lasts: sooner or later they’ll remember what we are, what we are capable of doing, and when they do they’ll never look at us the same way again.
“Lily, the initiate... the woman who was about to deny her vows and her life for the love of Jowan, do you know what she said when she discovered the truth? ‘I don't know you, blood mage, stay away from me’.”
“So what? Blood Magic is evil...”
“Is it really?” I countered. I knew Anders couldn’t stand blood magic, and Justice was even less inclined to condone it, but blood magic wasn’t the point. “He was the same man she fell in love with. The same person she planned going away with. He didn't summon a demon, he didn't took control of the Templar’s minds, he was trying to save her life by giving up his. Your friend Merril is a blood mage too, would you deny that because she’s a blood mage?”
“You... might have a point.” he admitted after some thinking.
“Jowan and I were... he was like a brother to me, a big experienced brother to look up to when I was in doubt. I had Aed, of course, but I was his big brother. He had me, but I had no one, ‘till him. He was already there when I started my apprenticeship, and used to give me advice and counsel. He was just few months older than me, but he was... that's silly, he was my hero. He always had a good word to comfort me or a good joke to cheer me up, and even while we grew up and I became more skilled than him, in magic, I always sought counsel from him.
“I remember, you two were close... we never really spoke at the tower, but was hard to miss you two, hanging around with that other apprentice... Surana... for some time I thought he was your brother, not Aed.”
I smiled remembering those days. Jowan and I were the troublemakers, sometimes with Aed tagging along, and Eloise used to nag on us because all our ideas of fun were bad ideas... we were always up to something, the terror of the Senior Enchanters... Eloise and Aed were instead the good kids, always well behaved, perhaps to counter our terrible deeds in the eyes of the teachers and Templars. “He was family to me, as much of my own flesh and blood as my brother... Then he betrayed me.”
“I understand.”
“No, it's not...” I sighed, “It wasn’t like that, ‘twas not the Lily thing, or the fact he ran away without an explanation, not even the blood magic thing itself, he... he didn't tell me he was a blood mage. When I asked him straight away he lied to me, so... so easily...
“We were in front of Lily, and I could see he didn’t want her to know, but we had code words we used all the time, he could have told me without letting her understand... He just... didn't trust me.”
“Maybe, he feared you would have report him to Irving or Greagoir...”
“And that hurts me more than anything else. We spent something like... what, fifteen years together, in that... prison? And then he was... he did...” I sighed at loss for words. I couldn’t fully explain to him my feelings for Jowan and the whole situation, I felt like it was coming out wrong...
“Were you in love with him?”
Yeah, definitely wrong.
“I did love him, but as I said was a different kind of love: he really was like a brother. He was... family.”
“You never looked for him?”
“Yes... and no.”
“What do you mean?”
“We did meet again. In Redcliffe.”
I stared into the night remembering our last encounter. After he escaped, he was hired by Teyrn Loghain to poison Arl Eamon, and so he was sent to Redcliffe to Arlessa Isolde. She hired him to tutor her son Connor, to avoid sending him to the Circle of Magi, but the illness of his father drove the kid to panic and he fell for a demon’s trap, unleashing undead horrors over the town.
When we infiltrated the castle after a whole night spent fighting corpses animated by foul magic, we found Jowan in the dungeons, locked in a cage by the Arlessa’s men. He was discovered by the guards and arrested shortly before the whole accident happened. He claimed himself innocent of what was happening, and we still didn’t know of Connor's magical talent and his being possessed. I wasn’t prepared to deal with him.

So here we are” he said, “What now?”
I looked at him barely containing my rage: “Alistair, Wynne, Zevran... go.”
What?” Alistair objected.
Are you sure?” Zevran asked.
Maker, I have no time for this! I thought. “I SAID GO! NOW!” I yelled.
Zevran stared at me flabbergasted: I think that was the first time he saw me losing control, even when he tried to kill me a few days before I managed to keep calm and consider his offer... Alistair looked ready to object further but Wynne knew: she was at Ostagar when the whole thing happened, but she was one of our mentors and heard the story of my recruitment from Irving when she got back. She knew we had a matter to settle. She put her hand on Alistair’s shoulder and simply said “As you wish.”
It was enough for the other two. They went forward, looking for the exit of the dungeons while I stood there, in front of Jowan’s cell, trying to figure out what I was feeling.
I swear I’m not...” he started, but I cut him off.
SHUT UP! I once helped you in the name of friendship.” I hissed.
And I betrayed you... I’m so sorry.” he admitted, “But believe me. Give me a chance to fix it, to do something good in my life!”
You are a blood mage” I spat out, “how can you do anything good? And even if I believed you... You want to help, then what? What will become of you when all this is over?”
He stared blankly at the bars of the cell: “I don’t know, I’ll probably be executed.” he said. His tone... his lack of tone, of any emotion in his voice did it to me. I grabbed the bars and yanked them growling at him.
You say it like you don’t care. Like your life isn’t worth shit... what do you really feel Jowan? Do you really not care or are you trying to fool me again? You think that if you save the day they will spare you? Maybe if I speak up for you I can even persuade the Arl to forget that poisoning thing and let you stay and teach his son how to be apostate without turning into an abomination?”
That’s not...”
THEY’LL HANG YOU AT THE FIRST POLE THEY CAN FIND JOWAN!” I shouted. “Don’t you care? Don’t you want to live? If you don't, why the fuck did you run away from the Circle leaving me and Lily in deep shit?”
He didn’t say anything. He couldn’t look me in the eye any more.
If death is what you really want, I say I got here first.” I growled, “If anyone’s, your hide is mine to take!”
He looked at his feet for a second then he straightened up: “I understand... and I accept it. Do what you have to.”
And as he stood there, with his eyes closed, ready to be killed by his best friend I realized I didn’t want to kill him. I didn’t want revenge. I didn’t even want him gone, I just wished the whole thing had never happened, that we were still young and untamed apprentices, doing mischief in the Tower, driving our teachers crazy, living our life like we always had before he learned his name was in line for the Rite of Tranquillity.
His eyes snapped open as a metallic clang echoed in the small space. I had opened his cage door, and even if I couldn’t look at him I know he saw the tears.
Run.” I said. “I don’t want to see you again.”

“You let him escape?” Anders asked when I was done with my tale.
“I would have really killed him if he didn’t... And I didn’t want him dead, or sent to the Circle to be executed by the templars or made Tranquil or Maker knows what else...”
Anders nodded: “After what Uldred did at Kinlock Hold, all the Circles are afraid something like that may happen to them as well, so the templars are tightening up their grasp. There’s unrest in the Circles: Starkhaven was closed, and Templars are concerned about some rumors over Dairsmuid... not to mention what’s happening in Kirkwall: despite Meredith’s paranoia it is true that blood mages are two bits for a dozen in that city. I told you about what they did to Karl and the Tranquil Solution of ser Alrik - which, oddly enough, was rejected by both Elthina and Meredith... hell, my last escape was caused by one of those Templars who can’t tell a Mabari bitch from a Korcari witch...”
I chuckled at the funny expression but still asked him: “What do you mean by caused? Did he help you run away?”
“He forced me to.” he smiled sadly, “After my sixth attempt at freedom, Irving decided I needed a motivation to stay in the tower, so he put me in charge of some young apprentices. Probably he thought that if I had some responsibilities I wouldn’t have run from them, and he may have even been right... I liked the kids, and I was lecturing them in the Library when it happened... they were smart kids and I was putting the fear of the Maker into them by describing in morbid details how blood magic is performed: I thought that if I could disgust them enough they would never think of doing it... then this Bucket arrives and starts threatening to punish me because I’m talking about blood magic to the apprentices, and blood magic is forbidden and yadda yadda yadda, the usual bigot-blabbering of Templars who get into the middle of conversation and completely miss the point of it...”
“Can’t say it ever happened to me...” I chuckled.
“Well, I was arguing... well not arguing, let’s say explaining myself to him when Ron, one of the kids, decided he had to touch ser Templar’s sword to see if it really kills mages, and cut himself a finger over the blade... now, I don’t want to know how much time that Bucket spent sharpening that sword, but let me tell you the boy didn’t have a paper cut on his finger. I was about to heal him when that Templar went ballistic: he started crying ‘Blood magic!’ and tried to slaughter us.”
“WHAT?” I was stunned. “You’re shitting me!”
“I wish I was.” he sighed, “I had to freeze him and then I ran away. I had records, and attacking a Templar, albeit in self-defence, wouldn’t have looked good to Irving or Gregoir...”
“And trying to explain the situation to them wasn’t an option?”
“With my records? What would you have done in my place?” he said frowning.
“Well, I guess I did the same with Jowan...” I admitted.
“See? And you know the funniest thing? Afterwards he got transferred to Kirkwall and -wait, it gets better- promoted to Knight-Captain.”
“I know right. Odd enough, I’m sure I met the guy before... when he was a rookie. I spent a whole night talking to him because he was scared to fail his duty in the Harrowing he was chosen for. It was his first Harrowing and he was afraid of messing it up by killing the mage without reason or failing to kill an abomination... when I explained him how it worked it calmed down but it took me all night. It was about the same time you got recruited, even. He seemed sympathetic with the mage’s condition, he even went as far as saying ‘The chantry is too hard on you people, after all you didn’t choose to be what you are’...”
That story ringed too familiar to my ears. “That Templar’s name... the Knight-Captain...”
“Everyone calls him Cullen, Cullen Ruth-something I believe, why?”
I took a long breath and shook my head: “No wonder he went nuts at the sight of blood. That must have been a Fade of a deja-vu... He’s a survivor of the Uldred riots.”
His brows shot up: “You know him?”
“I sure do, it was my Harrowing he was supposed to supervise. When I rescued him in the tower he was the only sane templar we found in the higher tower, all the others were dead or enthralled... I guess this means he didn’t get out of it without scars...”
“Great, and now he’s the second in command of Meredith.” he shook his head. “So long for your plan of removing her from her position, right?”
I sighed. The mission I sent him to Kirkwall for in the first place was to investigate the rumors over her and create an outpost for the increasing interest of the Grey Wardens in the area. Stroud, in Val Chevin, was the closest contact to the Free Marches I had before Carver joined the order, but I needed someone closer to the city, if not in the city itself. Anders was way too eager to fill the position, especially since his friend, mentor and former lover Karl got transferred to the Gallows just around the end of the Blight and his recruitment into the Wardens.
“I don’t know, Anders... I know the man, and I still think he’d be a better guide than Meredith for the Templars there... Her increasing paranoia has me concerned, and her refusal to give over the ruling of the city has reached outside the Marches... even Al-I mean King Alistair is worried about her and the situation of the city...”
“Mah, easy guess!” He scoffed, “Anyone would be better than her.” he laughed.
I sighed: “What if I’m making things worse, though? Last time our order dabbled into politics, we ended up exiled from Ferelden... I can’t help to think I’m no better than Sophia Dryden...”
“Hey!” he put a hand on my shoulder and gave a comforting squeeze, “I’m the abomination here. And you’re doing the right thing. Maybe after you do what you have to you can join me in Kirkwall and see for yourself... speaking of which, you’re still avoiding my question: what does Jowan have to do with anything and where do you plan on going when you’re not going to Antiva and looking for Zevran?”
I nodded: I hadn’t answered that question yet: “I thought about it. I never had the chance to settle things with him. He owes me an explanation and I owe him a farewell. I need some closure: as a warden I started a new life, but I never really tied the loose ends of the old one...”
He nodded in agreement: “I can relate. Do you have any idea on his whereabouts?”
“I saw him one last time after Redcliffe, during my travels. He was helping some refugees in the Brecilian forest, near the Drakon’s Gorge on the Southron Hills... it’s a start.”
Anders hugged me sideways and smiled: “And I say go for it. If anyone deserves something, it’s you Ewan. You ended a Blight, for crying out loud, it’s time to get a little selfish and do something personal that doesn’t involve darkspawn, crazy golems or bloody witches! Well, so to speak.”
I laughed: “I certainly hope not, Anders... Jowan may be bloody but he doesn’t qualify as a witch: his boobies are too small and he doesn’t have the legs for the outfit...”
We stayed there, laughing as the Moon rose from behind the Aralt Ridge in the distance. It was a beautiful place, and now just as peaceful as the Lake Calenhad I remember from my youth, when Jowan, Aed, Eloise and I used to watch it outside the windows of the library at night, when we were supposed to be in bed and we snuck out instead to see the stars.
“Thank you Anders.” I said, “You are a true friend.

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 1
This is a revised version of the story - not all parts match the comic version as they were adapted to the events and lore revealed after Dragon Age: Awakening. As it is, it may contain spoilers, hints or references at subsequent plots like Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon Age LegendsThe Stolen ThroneThe Calling, The Silent Grove, The Last CourtThe Masked Empire and The Last Flight.

Here is the first chapter (of ten) of a revised version of my comic In Peace Vigilance in the form of novel. If you want to know how the story ends, I suggest you to read it, as while I plan to continue the comic version and adapt it to this revised narration, I really have no deadline for it. When it will be up, I'll probably do a massive upload of the whole story, but in the meantime I decided to deliver it in this format.
This part doesn't contain many modification from the original story, if not some tweak in the dialogues to fit better the DA2 story and some more insights from Ewan's point of view to explain his relationship with Anders. Some of you will notice I included emedeme's Aed in the story as Ewan's brother: that's because eme and I decided some time ago they were half-brothers and it would be unlikely for Ewan (or Anders) not to mention him, right?
A funny thing you may notice is how the initial dialogue between Anders and Ewas is (almost) exactly the same of the comic version, but the inner "notes" from Ewan make dramatically change the meaning of the banter itself. The second part, however, has been tweaked and expanded, to align that part to the events of Dragon Age 2 as those pages were published right after Witch Hunt and some month before DA2 was even announced. (and considering all canon-major characters in this story with the sole exception of Jowan appear in the sequels... some luck I had, uhn? :D)

Next Chapter: In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 2

II. Blood and Bound

The bannorn of Dragon's Peak is quite the place in late spring, when the green of the fields starts turning gold, and a warm breeze makes you forget we’re so south that we get stuck in the snow every other winter’s day. That's why I chose Dragon's Claw to settle down: it’s a small village near the bigger cities, the perfect place to hide in plain sight.
It is true, I'm a blood mage, a maleficar, but now I can finally tell I’m doing something good with my life.
My name is Jowan, but everyone here knows me as...
“Master Lewyn! Good morning!” Devin’s voice startled me. He’s a nice kid, one of the few who are never afraid of me, always tagging along while I do my usual rounds of the village to check on my patients and the elders. Not that the other villagers are scared of me, but I can tell my being a mage unsettles them, even if I’m their healer. They are friendly

Special thanks to Wirls and Rowlina for proof reading and editing.
Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction based on the BioWare's videogame "Dragon Age: Origins" and its sequels and expansions.
The story was originally scripted as a comic before "Dragon Age: Asunder" and "Dragon Age: Redemption" were released, this is a rewriting of the story, but I tried to keep it as similar as the original, including scenes that were originally cut and modifying what I didn't like or what was proved wrong in the sequels. I played all the games and documented myself through the novels, the codex entries, the offical comics and the Dragon Age Wiki, so if the comic explicitly contradicts some established lore it's because I decided it would fit the story better. If you intend to educate me on the True Dragon Age Lore, introduce yourself as David Gaider or save your keyboard.
All characters, except those not fitting the game belong to Bioware; their rendition is not to consider canon but a personal interpretation based on the work of the original writers. Aed Amell is a character created by emedeme and used with permission. All other characters are mine, based on BioWare's background for the player character if and when given.
The story is a "fan fiction" so it's not part of any official lore: any lore that has not included in the game is to be intended as speculation or plot device. Feel free to accept these headcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As it is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC, Dialogue Tweaks and some others - to be honest I don't remember them all.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.

Dice Use Made Basic - Action Resolution system

or "D.U.M.B." for short

>>>Version 1.0<<<
Both the rules and their presentation may still go through many evolutions.
These are not official TMM rules! 
These are just for the amusement of the writer and other like-minded individuals who have a fetish for dices.

>>> Foreword <<<

This system is aimed to give a "dicey" chance to actions and combat without making it a full RP system. It is focused on action resolution keeping the focus on the player's narrative skills and flexibility for GMs decisions. It is generally aimed for GMs, but players can find it interesting to read it.
If you want to hurt yourself make things more interesting, there is also a couple of optional modules that can expand this system into a more complex one (L.E.S.S.D.U.M.B.).

Table of contents

An Even Easier Variant: (D.U.M.B.E.S.T.)
The dice
Action base evaluation
Character levels


The base of all is classifying all action into five tiers: from easier to hardest:
  • Very Easy actions are actions that practically can't fail (i.e. a healthy character walking from point A to point B on a regular ground). Normally you don't need to toss the dice, just give it to them, but if you feel particularly mean you can toss the dice and hope for a fumble...
  • Easy actions are actions that can be easily performed by the character, either by being extremely simple or because they're part of the character's trade.
  • Average Actions are actions that can be performed normally but have a chance of failure, i.e. using a proficient skill in normal conditions.
  • Difficult Actions are difficult or complicated actions that have a high chance of failure.
  • Very Difficult Actions are actions that are practically certain to fail, but with a SMALL chance to succeed. You should toss the dice for those, vecause a 1% chance is still over 0.
There's no mention of "Impossible Actions" (i.e. "I try to set fire to the rain", "I try to use my manly charm on Sera", "I try to make a nuclear bomb with a twine ball, measuring stick, and a handkerchief") because are impossible by definition. Feel free to punish your players if they attempt one. : D
That's basically the principle on which this system is based.

An Even Easier Variant: (D.U.M.B.E.S.T.)

Before we go further, you can choose to adopt the D.U.M.B.E.S.T. (Dice Use Made Basic - Even Simpler Technique) variant. It has a very basic workflow that can also be used to speed things up if the quest get stuck and you have to make quick thinking and long writing:
  1. When a player attempts an action, decide how difficult the action is on a scale from 1 to 10
  2. Toss 1d10
  3. If the value is equal or higher than the difficulty you decided in step 1 the action succeeds, otherwise it fails.
  4. Profit
This is the basic-bone-fat-free-sugar-free-gluten-free-vegan version of the whole system. If you plan to use this variant, you may even skip the rest of this file.

The dice

This system is designed to work best with 1d20. You can also use 1d10 or 1d100 (2d10), in which case you will have to adapt the following values (except for 1 and 20 which are always the min and max value of your dice).
A dice is tossed to see if an action succeeds or fails, according to the value you get:
  • 1: The action fumbles: not only the character fails the attempted action (even if Very Easy), but they also damage themselves in the process. Note that doesn't have to be a physical damage, but a damage in a more general sense i.e. a false/incorrect information gathering, ruining their favorite clothes, breaking a tool, etc.
  • 2 - 7: Easy actions succeed. Average, Difficult and Very Difficult actions fail.
    (with 1d10: 2-3; with 1d100: 2-39)
  • 8 -13: Average actions succeed. Difficult and Very Difficult actions fail. 
    (with 1d10: 4-6; with 1d100: 40-69)
  • 14 -19: Difficult actions succeed. Very Difficult actions still fail. 
    (with 1d10: 7-9; with 1d100: 70-99)
  • 20: critical success. Not only any kind action succeeds, but (if the action wasn't "Very Difficult") it gives the character additional benefits, in the form of extra information, critical damage or more loot. 
    (with 1d10: 10; with 1d100: 100)
Note that if you use 1d10 the chances of fumbling and critical double (10% against 5%), while if you use 1d100 are considerably rarer (1% against 5%).

Action Base Evaluation

The action attempt is described by the player. Several factors influence then if the action can be considered more or less difficult:
  • Complexity: The more complex is the action, the more difficult it will be, simple actions are easier. Note that very complex actions can be split in simpler actions.
  • Context: If the character is in a hurry or has distractions it will be more difficult, conversely if they can concentrate the action will be easier.
  • Interaction: If the action forces the character to interact with an NPC or a complex mechanism, the difficulty may vary: pickpocketing a sleeping target may be easier, lockpicking a complex lock may be harder... it depends largely on the context and if there are additional factors.
    These conditions can be "favorable", "adverse" or "neutral".
    • if all three are "adverse", the action is "Very Difficult", 
    • if two of them are "adverse", consider the action "Difficult". 
    • if two of them are "favorable" consider the action "Easy",
    • if all three of them are favorable consider the action "Very Easy"
    • otherwise consider the action "Average"
  • The difficulty can then tweaked by Skill/Talent use: if the character uses a talent or a skill to enforce the action, it will be easier. Note that tiered skills take down the difficulty by tier so a Master skill takes down the difficulty by two or three if it's the second or third tier.
The party is in a room full of people and they have to open a locked door without the guards noticing.
The interaction (a complex lockpick), context (room full of people and guards) and complexity (lockpich without being noticed) are adverse, so the action is "Very Difficult".
However the rogue of the party has "Master Deft Hands", so the action is taken down by two pegs and becomes "Average", so if the rogue rolls 8 or more it succeeds.


Managing combat with this system can be done the same way than managing the roleplay actions. It is important to be extremely flexible, as turn-based combats are slow, so consider:
  • Situation: is the character fighting one or more enemies? Do they have terrain advantage? Can they see what's going on around them? Are they able to maneuver freely avoiding hitting their companions?
  • Conditions: Is the character healthy or injured? Are they under the influence of some spell or poison? These things influence difficulty.
  • Armor/Weapon efficacy: If the target has a light armor and the character a battleaxe, armor is negligible, however passing through a massive armor with a tiny dagger requires a bit of finesse and luck...
  • Special conditions that don't always apply: some talents are more or less effective against certain type of characters/armors/situations. for example some Templar talents are particularly effective against mages, while some weapon talents are ineffective against certain types of armors.
Once you decided the difficulty, you proceed by tossing the dice and if the result is favorable to the attacker, the attack connects effectively, otherwise it may fail, be ineffective, or deal unintended friendly-fire damage. It is up to the GM how to decribe the success or failure of the action.


If the attack connects successfully, it deals damage.
Damage depends on the weapon. In normal conditions, for each hit:
  • Staff bolts and daggers deal 1 damage.
    Whips and other dexterity weapons are included 
  • Arrows and Bolts deal 2 damage
  • One-Handed regular weapons deal 3 damage
    Quarterstaffs and polearms, albeit two-handed, are included.
  • Two-Handed weapons deal 4 damage
  • Blunt weapons deal 2 damage if one-handed and 3 damage if two-handed, but damage the armor that protect the target less effectively in the following rounds.
  • Off-Hand weapons in dual wielding deal half the damage with the exception of daggers
    Shields, if used for bashing, fall into this category as One-Handed blunt weapons.
  • Spells can deal from 1 to 4 damage according to the spell description.
    To have a reference on the range:
    • 1 is the damage dealt by Arcane Bolt, 
    • 2 is the damage dealt by Stonefist
    • 3 is the damage dealt by Fireball to each character caught in the explosion
    • 4 is the damage dealt by Inferno to each character caught in the area of effect per round
Critical Damage (max value of the dice) can either double the damage dealt OR strike the enemy in a particular area (i.e. the head, the eyes, close to the heart, etc.). It is mostly at the GM discretion unless it has additional effect in the talents description. If a talent or an enchantment "increases chances to deal critical damage", you can consider giving a "critical hit" even if the roll value is "close enough" to the max (18+ with 1d20, 9+ with 1d10, 90+ with 1d100).

Please note that some talents (i.e. Flurry or Sunder Arms) that consist in hitting more than once. In this case, if the attack connects damage is applied for each hit.
- A rogue uses Flurry with two daggers: "The character makes three quick attacks at the target, at slightly lowered damage." The daggers deal 1 x 3 damage, possibly rounded down to 2.5 (if you want to use half-points) because damage is "slightly lowered".
- A warrior uses Sunder Arms with a Maul: "The warrior makes two swift attacks at the targets arms, legs, or joints, trying to impair the targets ability to fight back."
The Maul deals 3 damage per hit (4-1 because it's two-handed blunt weapon), so a total of 6 damage localized on the target's limbs.

Character Levels

But how much a character can take before falling down? Usually, in TMM an OC can't die unless the player agrees to, so there is a different way to manage OCs and NPCs.
NPCs fall into five tiers:
  • Commoners: unskilled trash enemies with no particular training in combat. They fall with 5 damage.
  • Trained: average enemies with some skill but nothing exceptional. They fall with 10 damage.
  • Elite: These are nasty enemies that are usually leaders in their factions. They fall with 15 damage
  • Boss: this should be the main villain of your quest, so limit them to one or two. They fall with 20 damage.
  • Legendary: this tier is for very powerful characters usually used only as recurring villain or supporting characters. They usually have massive plot armor - specially at the beginning of a questline - and skills comparable to canon characters such as Morrigan, Leliana or Loghain. If you want to use them, consider making them fall after they take 25 damage.
Small creatures (1 meter tall or less) have half damage limit of their tier.
Giant creatures (2,5 meters tall or more) can take twice the damage of their tier.
- In a clan of bandits, the chief is Boss level, their second is Elite and the others range from commoner to trained level.
- Not always rank and level are proportional, though: an Orlesian Marquis can be Trained-level, but his bodyguard should be Elite if not Boss-level.

- A deepstalker is a common small animal. 2.5 damage and it goes, but they travel in large flocks...
- If you want to kill Flemeth in dragon form, you need to deal 50 damage. Good luck with that.
Of course, these values can be tweaked if you want combat to be faster (so lower the level's HP) or longer (so rise them). These are average values that allow an average enemy (Trained level) to go down in about 3/4 rounds of combat against the average warrior character.

OCs don't have a fixed rule, but based on how much you want your quest to be difficult you should consider them Elite or Boss level. If you want, you can consider "Legendary" OCs of Legendary level, so you make a perfect symmetry, but it's not mandatory.
Keep in mind that for the "player consent" rule of TMM, when an OC gets to the damage limit, it is best to consider them "knocked out" and let the player decide if they will follow the white light or wait patiently for a healer to disengage the enemies and cast a Halt Bleeding spell or apply a poultice.

You can keep track of damage dealt as you please, or even considering this part as a "general guideline" and go with your guts. This system is aimed to be simple and fast, so feel free to adapt it to your needs.
TMM-D20NC - D.U.M.B. System
D.U.M.B. rules for playing TMM with a simple dice-based system.

The ruleset is quite simple, any addition will probably be done in the L.E.S.S.D.U.M.B. additional ruleset.

Lightly Extended Supplementary System for

Dice Use Made Basic Action Resolution system

or "L.E.S.S.D.U.M.B." for short

>>>DRAFT 1!<<<
Both the rules and their presentation may still go through many evolutions.
These are not official TMM rules! 
These are just for the amusement of the writer and other like-minded individuals who have a fetish for dices.

This is an expansion fo the D.U.M.B system. These rules are completely optional, and serve only as expansion for GMs that like to make their life harder and players that like to fill nerdy Character Sheets. :D

Attributes expansion module
Combat expansion module
Reference Sheet

Attributes expansion module

Some RP systems - Including Dragon Age videogames - use attributes to give bonuses to the characters while performing certain actions. If you want you can use the same criterion to determine a bonus on the dice roll when you check for an action.
For the purpose of familiarity we'll use the same attributes of the Dragon Age videogames:
  • Strength: applies a bonus to all the actions that require physical force
  • Dexterity: applies a bonus to all the actions that require agility and/or speed
  • Magic: applies a bonus to all the actions that involve magic and/or magic resistance
  • Willpower: applies a bonus to all the actions that require determination and actions performed in the Fade
  • Cunning: applies a bonus to all the actions that require quick thinking, charisma and observation
  • Constitution: applies a bonus to all the actions that require physical resistance and resistance to pain
These bonuses depend mainly on the class:
  • Warriors get a +1 on the dice roll for Strength and Constitution checks
  • Rogues get a +1 on the dice roll for Dexterity and Cunning checks
  • Mages get a +1 on the dice roll for Magic and Willpower checks
Optionally you can consider also the race:
  • Humans get a +1 on the dice roll for Strength and Willpower checks
  • Elves get a +1 on the dice roll for Dexterity and Cunning checks
  • Dwarves get a +1 on the dice roll for Magic and Constitution checks (Dwarves are resistant to magic)
And also optional is considering the physique description:
  • Muscular/massive physiques grant a +1 on the dice roll for Strength checks
  • Athletic/toned physiques grant a +1 on the dice roll for Dexterity checks
  • Bulky/stocky physiques grant a +1 on the dice roll for Constitution checks
  • Average and slim/slender physiques may grant an additional +1 according to the class to 
    • Willpower (Warriors), 
    • Magic (Mages)
    • Cunning (Rogues)
Note that physique can grant only ONE bonus, so if the character is a slim/toned warrior the bonus is either for Dexterity OR Willpower.
A Dwarven Warrior with a bulky physique will have:
    Strength: +1
    Magic: +1
    Constitution: +3
If they will have to resist a spell that has been cast at them (magic resistance) considered by the GM an action of "average difficulty" and they roll a 7 (average action fails), the value to consider is actually 7+1 = 8, so the action can succeed.
The attribute bonus can be applied also for the use of weapons based on the type:
  • Strength gives bonus for the use of regular one-handed and two-handed melee weapons
  • Dexterity gives bonus for the use of daggers, whips, polearms and quarterstaffs 
  • Magic gives bonus for the use of Magic staves
  • Cunning gives bonus for the use of ranged weapons such as bows, crossbows, slings etc.
  • Constitution gives bonus for the use of shields and armor use
  • Willpower doesn't gives bonuses but can be used as a check for talent use replacing Mana/Stamina exhaustion.
This is not always applicable as some talents' descriptions already includes management of bonus/malus and mana/stamina depletion/restoration, so always refer to the talent description.

Combat expansion module

There are two additional criteria that can add (or lower) difficulty of combat actions:
  • Absorb and Dodge: according to the defensive action a character takes, you can consider the hit favorable or disadvantageous according to their defenses: armor and shield. "Dodging" makes the character avoid to be hit, while "Absorb" gives the character the chance to have their armor absorb the hit.
    If the character doesn't state any defensive action, consider the default "Absorb".
    • Cloth makes easier to dodge and but can't absorb.
    • Light Armor makes easier to dodge and more difficult to absorb the hit
    • Medium Armor doesn't give any bonus to dodge and absorb
    • Heavy Armor makes more difficult to dodge but easier to absorb the hit
    • Massive Armor makes impossible to dodge and easier to absorb the hit
    • Shield, if used, can be used only to absorb the hit making it easier.
  • Fighting style: this is a bonus-malus system that was inspired by the Avengers Alliance social game. There are generally five fighting styles: Spellcasters, Barbarians, Scrappers, Tanks and Archers.
    • Spellcasters are mages that cast spells on ranged distance. They are advantaged against Barbarians and Scrappers and disadvantaged against Archers and Tanks.
    • Barbarians are warriors that mainly use two-handed weapons, that are disadvantaged against Spellcasters and Archers while are advantaged against Scrappers and Tanks.
    • Scrappers are rogue and warriors that use one or two weapons or fast polearms, without shield. As they can't effectively parry, they are disadvantaged against Barbarians and Spellcasters but are faster than Tanks and Archers on which they have advantage.
    • Archers are ranged-weapon users, slow to fire but that can control effectively the battlefield. They are advantaged against Barbarians and Spellcasters, while disadvantaged against the protected Tanks and the fast Scrappers.
    • Tanks: they are warriors that use weapon and shield or one-handed weapons and massive armor. As they are protected they are advantaged against ranged attackers such as Archers and Spellcasters, but disadvantaged against the fast scrappers and the powerful Barbarians.
Note that fighting style is not fixed: a warrior can switch from sword to crossbow, so can change from Soldier to Archer during combat, as a Mage can use the staff to cast or to wack the enemie's head, so change from spellcaster to scrapper. Consider this turn-by-turn.
You can use these criteria either to see if the attack connects or if the attack is actually effective. 
You can ignore them, pick only one or discard them anytime even during the combat if you don't find them fitting.

Reference Sheet

If players wish to help GMs that use this system, they can fill this small reference list to help the GM determine their bonus/malus in combat and include it in the Character's NerdCorner file:

RULESET: Rock-Paper-Lyrium

 [Your character's name]
Class: [Your character's class]
Level: [Your character's level, may help GMs decide your damage limit]

Strength[Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]
Dexterity: [Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]
Magic: [Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]
Willpower: [Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]
Cunning: [Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]
Constitution: [Class bonus + Race bonus + Physique bonus]

: [List your skills and non-combat talents, i.e. Hard Bargain, Deft Hands, Stealth, etc.]
Talents: [List only the talent/Spell pools you have i.e. Primal, Healing, Dual Wielding, Single Sword, etc.]
Specializations: [List your character's specializations]

Armor type: [Cloth/Light/Medium/Heavy/Massive]
Weapons: [Main hand weapon type](Main-Hand/Two-Handed) [Off-hand weapon type/Shield](Off-Hand)
Alternate Weapons (1-2): [optional: Fill as the previous, can be repeated]
Fighting style: [Spellcaster, Barbarian, Scrapper, Soldier or Archer, choose your main fighting style]
Alternate Fighting style (1-2): [optional: Fill as the previous] (specify the weapon set used/condition for switching)



Character: Pato
Class: Warrior
Level: 30

Strength: +3

SkillsMaster Intimidate, Master Tracking, Proficient Bluff, Threaten, Hard Bargain, Carnage Surveyor, Packmule
TalentsWarrior, Unarmed, Two-Handed, Single Sword Style, Blunt Weapons
SpecializationsGuardian, Mercenary, Soldier

Armor type: Light
Weapons: Maul (Two-Handed)
Alternate Weapons 1: Longsword (Main Hand)
Alternate Weapons 2: Dagger (Main Hand)
Fighting style Barbarian
Alternate Fighting styleScrapper (if wielding Alternate Weapons 1/2)

L.E.S.S.D.U.M.B. rules expansion for D.U.M.B. for playing TMM with a slightly more complex system.


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