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About Deviant Artist Premium Member FranskeMale/Italy Groups :iconthedragonages: TheDragonAges
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Abadir
Franske
Artist
Italy
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
Interests
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
Enjoy!

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VI: Through the Mirror

Ewan
Valegathe is the second biggest island of the Waking Sea Bannorn. When the Tevinter Imperium ruled this land, this was the location some of the most important places for magic research.
Here stands one of the last Tevinter fortress that were preserved through the centuries that today hosts one of the less known Circle of Magi: Jainen. The architecture of the fortress is very similar to Ostagar: the architectural elements, the materials, the decorations... the similarities end here, though: as Ostagar was abandoned and half-ruined even before the Darkspawn horde swarmed on it from the Korcari Wilds, Jainen is almost intact and well preserved.
The sight was impressive: walls dozens of feet tall, high towers whitewashed by the salty wind and large heavy doors to block the way in... and this was one of the few Circles in which it was more important than blocking the way out. I didn't have to look around to know my companions were just as enthralled by the sight of the stone giant as I was, but for me a whole additional set of emotion layered upon the awe and terror the place inspired: I had fought at Ostagar, they didn't; I had a son with the woman I was about to attempt to call, they didn't even know her.
I just hoped they'd let us in.

Eloise
“It is... impressive.” Jowan uttered.
“You should see it from the inside...” Cullen chuckled, “I mean it.”
“Ha ha, very funny.” the other groaned.
Ewan clapped his hands and then shrugged and started checking the straps of his armor. He wasn't nervous. At all. I smirked looking at him but the smile was quickly wiped out: “Very well, I’m going in. You stay here, I should be back soon.”
“WHAT?” I said outraged. “Then why did we come here in the first place?”
“You volunteered, Ellie.” he remarked, “Jainen is ruled by Isolationist mages, I’m not even sure if I will be allowed in. As a Warden Commander I can invoke a couple of treaties but...”
“Ewan they can't deny us entrance.” Cullen interjected, “You are mages and I am a templar: even if they're isolationists you three are exactly who they would try to keep isolated from the world, while I... well, Isolationists don't see templars very favorably but they have to deal with it.”
“Yes, but let's face it: you're a deserter, Jowan is a wanted blood mage and Ewan is a Warden.” I scoffed, “Way to get in their good graces.”
“You're right.” Ewan admitted.
“Seeing the situation I see no point in sending you alone.” I remarked, “They don't know Cullen is a deserter and I don't see how they could tell Jowan and I are apostates -which I still say I'm not. It's not that we wear robes with a giant A on it.”
“Maybe they'll check for scars on our wrists?” Jowan jested.
“Well, tell them you attempted suicide.” I rebuffed, “One look at your face and they would buy it.”
Ewan chuckled: “That's mean Ellie.”
As we started towards the big door, I couldn't help but wonder why he tried to leave us there: was he really that concerned for us or was he hiding something? Something he didn't want us to know... or see.

Ewan
It wasn’t easy to enter the complex: I may be the Commander of the Grey in Ferelden and a mage, but the templars guarding the Circle gates were less than accommodating. Cullen protested and I invoked the treaties, then finally one of the two sentinels decided to break the stall.
“Let them in.” she said, “Let the Commander deal with it.”
The Commander was an unpleasant man. I understand that working in an Isolationist Circle makes it for a boring life, but some of his remarks were downright rude. He didn’t bother to look at me for the entire time I tried to explain the reason I was there, and in the end he made a point to demonstrate he wasn’t even listening.
“Let me get this straight... you are here because... why?”
I sighed and repeated my explanation: “I need to contact an informant to the Grey Wardens that can be reached only through an Eluvian, an ancient artifact from the Imperium that looks like a mirror.”
“Name sounds elvish though.”
“I know, it is. But most believe they are Tevinter, because many of them were re-framed in the Imperial times. Look, I'm trying to make it easier, here, this is quite an important matter...”
“Why do you need to contact this informant so badly?”
It took me all my willpower to not groan: “A new kind of darkspawn has appeared in the Brecilian Forest, and I learned from other sources that this associate of our order may know about them and their origin. They pose an immediate threat to the security of the eastern bannorns, the Teyrnir of Gwaren and the City of Denerim, so...”
“Who’s this associate of yours.”
“One of the veterans of the Fifth Blight.”
“And you are from... what Circle?”
I rolled my eyes: “Kinloch Hold.”
He scoffed, “Then why don't you go there?”
I crossed my arms and stood defiantly: “Commander, Kinloch Hold doesn't have an Eluvian, this is the closest we could find. If you let me speak with the First Enchanter...”
“The artifacts in this place are under the Chantry custody. We don't trust our mages to experiment with them, why should we entrust them to outsiders?”
“Commander, that's why I am here.” Cullen interjected, “I am Knight-Captain of the Circle of Kirkwall and...”
“Then why are you with them?” The commander demanded.
My patience was growing short: “Look, commander: the Eluvian wasn’t entrusted to the Chantry, it is part of the original structure. This structure may be controlled by templars but it’s part of the Circle, and by king’s decree it's the First Enchanter who...”
Suddenly he was in my face poking my chest with his finger: “You have independence within your towers and your arling, Warden, but this is an Isolationist Circle, I am in charge to keep whoever wants to enter, and I decide who can see the First Enchanter. I won't bother him for this.”
I grabbed his hand and glared at him. We held our stares for a second, then I smiled and decide to change tactics.
“My my, commander...” I whispered huskily, “There’s no need to get so upset, I never questioned your authority here. I am just trying to find an agreement.” I leaned on the desk and he followed my movements, keeping close to my body. I could his eyes narrowing in diffidence but he glanced hungrily at me. “You look like a strong and capable man... are you sure there’s nothing I could do to return the favor? Think about it...”
He opened his mouth to say something then he realized we weren't alone and blushed glancing at Cullen and the other two mages. Cullen was staring at us appalled, while Jowan had a resigned expression and Eloise was biting her lips not to laugh. Right, they had already see me pulling this stunt back in the days...
“Could you leave us alone for a minute?” I suggested. Eloise dragged a paralyzed Cullen outside while Jowan was all too happy to comply to my request.

As soon as the door closed the Commander turned to look at me in disbelief: “Well, mage... if you’re suggest what I think you’re suggesting, I have to say you have me interested: there’s no much chance for company here, not counting the Tranquils.. it would be nice to get a lively one for a change...”
I caressed the side of his face managed to make sound like excitement the breath I took to keep the content of my stomach where they belonged. “I’m sorry to hear that, Commander, I figured a man like you deserves more...” Oh Maker, I just realized he looked like Howe... Rendon Howe... “...attention.”
“I figured you out for a slut the moment you walked in, mage...” he slurred coming closer. His hand ran over my tight trying to reach my butt as he closed his eyes and leaned for a kiss, tongue first.
I smiled and landed a nice punch right on his left eye.

Eloise
“He'll be fine.” Jowan said to Cullen.
“Did he just...” Poor innocent templar couldn't believe what he had witnessed. I admit I was surprised too: Ewan didn't pull the “hit on them then hit them” tactic since forever. That I knew of, anyway.
“Don't worry about it, he'll be fine.” Jowan chuckled. A muffled noise came from behind the door and Cullen stared at it with a frown.
“He’s... is he...”
“Beating the crap out of him? Yes.” I laughed. “Can't you say he didn't have it coming. I would have done it myself wasn't he clearly disinterested in women.”
“Wh- how can you tell?”
I rised a brow “He did check your ass when we entered, Cullen.... haven't you noticed?”
He flashed a deep shade of purple: “Wh- I thought he was inspecting my uniform!”
“And he did approve how much care you take in keeping it polished.” Jowan snorted. “I hope this helps Ewan unwind a bit, he's so tense about all this...”
I furrowed my brows questioningly: “What do you mean?”
Both men turned to me surprised: “You didn't notice? He's as tense as a lute string.” Jowan asked.
“Yeah, I did, but I assumed it was for... I don't know, this place?”
Cullen snorted: “Definitely not. That's about Morrigan.”
“The one who stole the book from the dalish?” I asked. “The Witch of the Wilds?”
“Yes. They have... history.” Jowan sighed.
“Yes, I gathered that much, she fought with him in the Blight and then stole that book, right?”
Cullen and Jowan exchanged a surprised glance. “You don’t know the story? At all?”
“What story?”
Jowan sighed: “She’s one of the Warden Veterans.” he explained.
That was surprising: we all knew the names of the heroes who fought alongside the Warden - Ewan - to put a stop to the Blight: King Alistair, Sister Leliana, Sten of the Bereshaad, Senior Enchanter Wynne, Oghren of Orzammar, Zevran Arainai, Shale of House Cadash... Ghigo the Mabari, even. I couldn’t remember this Morrigan person being one of them... when he told the Commander she was a veteran, I just assumed she was a generic ally of his, not one of the Warden's Companions... “Never heard of her before we met Solan’s clan. Do they always forget to mention her name because she's an apostate?”
“And the daughter of Flemeth, yes, maybe.” Jowan conceded. The daughter of Flemeth? Wow! “But that’s only part of the issue with her. She left the group right after the battle of Denerim because she was... with child.”
I frowned: “And what does this have to d-” then it dawned on me: “Wait. You mean Ewan’s child? Are you telling me he knocked Flemeth’s daughter up?”
“In a blood magic ritual no less.” Cullen scoffed, “Apparently he was meant to do so he could kill the Archdemon and live to tell the tale. Haven’t Avernus explained to you why Wardens are the only ones who can kill an Archdemon?”
He did, but I didn’t quite register the anomaly. I just assumed it had something to do with the concoction or someone else dealt the fatal blow or...
The door opened and Ewan joined us followed by the Knight-Commander that had a nice shiner on his left eye.
“All settled. The Knight Commander will escort us to the repository.”
I could just stare at him in shock.
“What?” he asked glancing down to see if there was something wrong with his armor.
“Nothing. Let's go see if this works...”

Ewan
The Knight Commander sent a recruit to escort us to the repository where the Eluvian was stored, and another to fetch him a raw steak. It was quite easy to convince him, really, specially after his mentioning what he was doing with the Tranquils... after the incident of the “Tranquil Solution” in Kirkwall, the Order was quite strict about Tranquil abuse and harassment from templars, and mentioning I was on friendly terms with the Left Hand of the Divine did the trick... not that I didn't intend to tell Leliana a few things that may remove this asshole from this place and send him digging latrines in Alamar...
I tried to ignore him as I was working on the Eluvian: the mirror had very specific ways to activate it correctly, and a huge chunck of them was lost to the memories, until Morrigan found her way to recreate the process, and even then part of her notes were open to interpretation. I was taking a huge risk, but I decided to trust her. Last time, it didn’t went so bad.
As the Eluvian started to glow, I hissed out a “Yes!” Not every Eluvian worked the same way, and it was necessary to figure out the password to open them, which was different for every one of them. Luckily, Morrigan's worked for me as well, though I wondered why the password was Ma lin Mythal enaste... my Elvish was rusty -at best- but it definitely had something to do with my blood being something related to an Elven god...
Jowan looked at me with a curious expression: “You should have say Urthemiel enaste, that would have been more likely.”
I frowned: “Why, what does enaste mean?”
Favor. You just told the mirror that your blood was blessed by Mythal, the elven goddess of love and justice.”
“Did I?” I looked at the mirror perplexed then shrugged, “It worked, didn't it?”
Cullen glanced at Jowan surprised then turned to Eloise: “Is it true?”
She shrugged: “I suppose. Jowan is the most versed on elven lore among us.”
“Is he?” the templar that escorted us spoke for the first time. He was young, and clearly interested in the novelty of visitors. “I though you were...”
Eloise eyed him with a sarcastic smirk: “I am the Grey Warden lore expert. Just because I'm an elf it doesn't mean I was interested in their lore... I sucked milk from my mother, not hidden knowledge.”
The guy frowned: “Shouldn't be the Warden your Warden expert?”
“My knowledge on the matter is practically null.” I admitted with a chuckle, “I received limited training before and after my Joining, due to the special circumstances of my recruitment... and after no Warden offered to train me, apparently it would have been... offensive to teach me things after I ended a Blight...” I sighed: Wardens and their fucking secrets... “But I know a great deal of ancient Fereldan lore, on Flemeth in particular.” I added with a smirk.
The recruit looked at the three of us a bit taken aback: “The Fereldan knows elven, the elf knows Wardens and the Warden knows Fereldan... Does any of you have any competence in the field you're supposed to know best?”
“No.” we said at unison, and cackled up.
“What are we supposed to do now?” Eloise said eventually, “Call Morrigan's name?”
I smirked: “Not quite...” I replied as I stepped into the Eluvian.

Eloise
I watched Ewan disappear into the mirror in disbelief. I was expecting anything but this: what the...
“Should we follow him?” Cullen asked dubious.
Jowan was just staring the glowing surface mouth agape. “How does...?” he tried to say then lost his words: he didn't even know what to ask.
I sighed and then shrugged: “I guess we should.” I answered Cullen before entering the mirror myself.
The landscape wasn't quite right.
I was in what looked like a square, surrounded by a shining mist made of magic that looked like lyrium dust. All around me stood mirrors, some broken, some dark and some reflecting images, as well as some strange sculptures that looked like stylized trees. The sky was unnaturally blue, almost bright cyan, and under my feet glowing stones formed several paths that led to this or that cluster of mirrors. I had seen such types of architectures only on books on elven ruins, but none of them described the place as “glowing”.
“Where are we?” I asked to Ewan and I finally noticed he was covering his eyes as if in pain. “Hey, are you all right?”
“Yes, don't worry,” he answered with a groan, “This light is just... ugh! I need a moment to get used to it...”
I looked around: “Yeah it's weird, but took me but a second to adapt...”
“Maker's breath!” Cullen exclaimed as he entered from the mirror, “What manner of place is this?”
“Are we in the Fade?” asked Jowan who had followed him in tow, “Maker I didn't remember it so... bright.”
All of them were disoriented and blinking in the odd light. I frowned: “Uhm, maybe it doesn't affect me because I'm an elf?”
“Maybe...” Ewan groaned, “but now it's a bit better... we should find...” he started to look around at the mirrors, “Woah, I didn't imagine this place to be so...”
“Weird?” Cullen offered, still covering his eyes with a hand.
“No... well, it is weird, but it's so... alien.”
I blinked: “Maybe we don't see the same thing?” I noted, “I mean, odd coloring and light aside, this looks like a jam of Elven architecture in a deserted plain... could this be the Fade?”
“No, I don't think so.” Ewan stated, “But it's definitely close... I feel the Veil so thin we may even enter the Fade physically...
“That wouldn't be good.” Cullen groaned, “Last time someone did that, it ended with a two-centuries long Blight.”
“Yeah, we better stay... here... wherever here is.” I agreed.
Ewan was wandering around looking lost.
“What are we supposed to do, now?” I asked him. I had no idea what his plan was, and if he was confused...
“We need to find Morrigan's mirror.” he stated. “She can't be far from an Eluvian, she brought... she needs to be close to one to...”
He stopped abruptly and I almost bumped into him. Cullen and Jowan reached us as I noticed what made him stop in front of one of the glowing mirrors...

Ewan
The the mirror reflected the image of a little boy. I was startled at first, not understanding what it was: an image from the past? A sort of test of wits? It was eerie to see that little kid who looked just as surprised as I was. He looked oddly familiar, though his features weren’t anything near uncommon: he had long dark brown hair tied in a low tail and hazel-brown eyes. He must have been around six or seven years old, and he was dressed with a simple purple-red tunic. He had a cute face, his cheecks reminded me so much of Aed, when he was his age and...
“Maker’s breath.” I exhaled. I did have find Morrigan’s mirror!
“Hi!” the kid said. “Are you a spirit? You don’t look like one.”
“Hello, little one...” I had to blink and take a deep breath, the surprise to seeing him was wearing off, leaving me emotional. I had to get a grip on myself. “I-I was looking for your mom, I guess.”
The boy smiled and nodded. “Are you a Grey Warden? I have an amulet with that symbol, mother says it’s the Grey Warden’s crest.” he asked pointing at my breastplate, where my order’s heraldry was chiseled.
I nodded and his smile widened. I heard the ticking of paws approaching along human footsteps and I spotted my mabari Ghigo and Morrigan approaching the glass. I couldn’t see much of the ambient they were in, the background of the figures was a twirl of bright lights and colors, probably the mirror show only a few feet in range.
“Kieran, who are you tal-” Morrigan froze when she saw me. Hurt, anger and panic crossed her strong features as she snapped her fingers at the mabari who was bouncing around excited. Kieran? Well it did have a nice ring to it, better than Urthemiel...
“Hello, Morrigan.” I said with a smile.
She grabbed her - our - son and pushed him away from the mirror. “Kieran, please, go in the other room, I will handle this.”
“But mother...”
“Do as she says.” I told the boy, “Ghigo, keep him company...” I told to the mabari who abruptly stopped acting like an excited puppy and nudged the kid away with his snout.
As we remained alone, for a moment neither of us spoke. She entered the mirror and stood there, just glaring at me arms crossed while I had to struggle to remember why did I looked for her in the first place, all I could think of was my son... I always imagined him like a shapeless toddler -sometimes with dragon tail and wings- and that helped me detach myself from the idea of him, but now... now he had a face, a name even, and I saw the family resemblance: he had my mother's eyes, my hair, my brother’s cheeks, my cousin Carver’s jaw, Flemeth's cheekbones and Morrigan’s chin... it was too soon to see who did he get the nose from, I just hope it was from the maternal side: all us Amells usually had honkers, specially my brother...
“Morrigan... he’s beautiful.” I whispered.
“I knew I shouldn’t trust your pretty words, Warden.” she growled, “You made me a promise, we made a deal, and that’s how you repay my trust? You will never have my son, it’ is crucial that...”
“Hey, slow down, Morrigan, that’s not why I’m here for! Seeing... Kieran? Well, it was a wonderful surprise, but totally unintentional...” that came out wrong, “Not that I would mind to finally meet him properly and help you rising him, of course, but I trusted you in the past and I will keep doing it...”
“And because of this trust you brought a templar with you?” she motioned at Cullen who didn't look very steady on his feet.
“Oh, them... these are my friends, Morrigan, this is Cullen, and these are Jowan and Eloise... We need yo-”
“Jowan?” she frowned, “Isn't he the blood mage who poisoned Arl Eamon?”
“You did what?” Cullen and Eloise exclaimed at the same time.
“Please...” I begged to all of them, “I need to talk to you, Morrigan...”
“Talk!” she scoffed, “It seems your favorite pastime... You missed driving me insane with your constant probing for useless information?”
I snorted. For the second time today I wished I could punch someone, but this time I'd better restrain myself since Morrigan would put up way more of a fight than Knigh-Commander Douchebag... “Very well, let’s see how useless this is...” I crossed my arms mimicking her stance, “I met Flemeth in the Fade, there are female darkspawn that look like you in the Brecilian Forest and all this has to do with a sister of yours.”
Morrigan's stance shifted abruptly from, defensive to alert, her eyes wide in disbelief.
“Did I peak your interest, perhaps?”
“Possibly.” she admitted with a frown, “Tell me more.”
We gave her a brief resume of our encounter in the forest with the Morrilocks and how we initially mistake one of the shifters for an Archdemon, and also reported Flemeths words as I remembered them: “Morrigan was not the first to escape my grasp. What does it mean, Morrigan? Did other Witches of the Wilds managed to avoid the fate to become Flemeth’s new host?”
“It is... more complicated than this.” she shifted her feet, uncomfortable, “The Black Grimoire... the more I think of it, the more I believe it was a trap of sort. Flemeth seems to have many other means to survive...”
“WHAT?” I asked outraged, “You mean I got my ass chewed, a burn scar and teeth marks on my favorite robe for nothing?”
She groaned at my antics: “Oh, please, you already knew that! The fact that she appeared to you in the Fade should have been an hint, does it? And it confirms my suspicions, though I can't say what exactly she is.”
“You did tell me...” I recalled, “I believe your words were: not even truly human.”
She nodded, “But as I already told you once, I don’t know anything about my sisters, not even if I still have some... and who or what they are.”
“But you might know something. You did research your mother’s lore, did you?”
She shook her head: “I did but I’ve never learned anything like...”
A kid’s voice interrupted her: “Father.”
I looked behind Morrigan and there he was again, Kieran, my son. He had reactivated the mirror and entered this strange place, Ghigo barking on the other side powerless: apparently the mabari couldn't cross the magic glass. This time, though, he didn’t look like a six-years old kid anymore, his posture was... upright, confident. The stance of a man.
“Kieran!” Morrigan gasped, “What are you doing here, I told you...”
“I can tell you what you need to know.” He said approaching us, his eyes glowing slightly. We all stared at him in disbelief, suddenly worried.
“Kieran, I told you to go in the other room.”
“He needs to know, mother,” he deadpanned. Even his voice sounded more mature, and had a strange resonance, like an overlapping melody. “I don’t want him to die.”
“Get out of here, Warden!” Morrigan hissed, pushing my chest, “Now! It is dangerous for him when he goes like this!”
Before we could do it, he started talking and... that melody had us enthralled: we felt compelled to stop and listen to him.
“She is beyond your comprehension: the true nature of Asha Bellanar is a mystery even to those who believe in her.” he said, “She walked through the ages ever changing: sometimes stealing her bodies, sometimes generating them, sometime creating them through arcane horrors and rituals... she’s one of the few true abomination who walk the land of the living, but most of all she's a woman who knows the heart of men, and a spirit of justice and vengeance...”

Eloise
“’Twas in the Blessed,” Kieran continued, “two ages since our brother Andoral had awakened and killed by the Elvhen whose sister doomed the Breed of the Sky. The world was rejoicing, for twins were born... But from a far more ancient and sinister womb, two other twins, girls, were produced. She loved both as she loved any of her daughters, but Her Who Never Ages can be as cruel as nurturing: when one of them revealed her true colors, she sent her to me... to us who hadn’t awakened yet, seeking the power of the Old Gods...”
That didn't make sense to me. Our brother Andoral? Was the Old God talking through him? The Elvhen must have been Garahel, but... did he have a sister? And what was the Breed of the Sky? And Flemeth had twin daughters, but... Revealed her true colors? What did he mean?
“Kieran stop it!” Morrigan whispered in panic.
“Flemeth sent her daughter into the Deep Roads?” Ewan asked ignoring Morrigan’s objection.
“Ewan, don’t...”
“Chatha was the strongest.” Kieran continued, “but Macha was the kindest, and when Flemeth tested her, she failed, so she decided to send Chatha away. But her daughters were too close, they wouldn’t have parted willingly unless something major was at stake, that it was clear to the Woman of Many Years: they would have refused to separate... so she tricked her.
“Chatha stole the Black Grimoire, the trap she had set up for her, and ran. The information in the book proved true, but incomplete, mother also fell for it. The ventured the deep roads, looking for the power her mother was after... just as Flemeth intended. She Who Never Ages was clever, but she hadn’t considered one thing: though her body is resistant to the Blight... her daughter’s was not.”
“The Blight?” I immediately caught what that meant: “You mean Chatha was turned into a...”
“A broodmother, yes.” Kieran stated matter-of-factly. My stomach rolled and I noticed also Morrigan was paler. Even Ewan, who has seen first-hand the horrors of the blight seemed wavering a little. Only Cullen and Jowan looked at us in confusion: none of them knew what a broodmother was. I hoped they never find out.
“She was an abomination even among her kind, because she retained her mind: Flemeth’s blood preserved her awareness, untouched by the taint. While her body was one of a darkspawn, she retained her conscience and will, and made her able to overcome our Calling...”

Ewan
A broodmother. Of everyone here, only I did encounter them, and several times: in Bownammar, in Kal-Hirol, in the Dragonbone wastes... I wonder if Morrigan did find the Mother’s corpse when she was there repairing the eluvian... The horror of their form, the sadness of their fate, the brutality of how they are... made... and all the while, retaining her mind, her conscience... it is enough to drive anyone insane, even the daughter of Asha Bellanar... Maker, I tried to imagine how could have been to deal with the Mother had she had the knowledge of Morrigan or Flemeth... My mind refused to for such a thought, and instead something else occurred to me: “Are the Architect and Chatha related, somehow? Is she who...”
“No.” he sighed, lowering his gaze in... was it shame? “He is one of the Seven, but his mind refuses the memories. But these are tales that the Architect himself told me, as he was trying to awake me and perform the Joining ritual, to make me join his cause and sing a song to keep peace between the Red Breed of Darkness and the surface world. But the Taint spread and the Fifth Blight begun...”
“Ewan, STOP!” Morrigan shouted, interposing herself between me and Kieran, “Seriously, are you insane? This is my-our child speaking with the voice and knowledge of an old dead dragon, does it look normal to you?”
I blinked and stared at her confused for a second: “You mean... it isn’t?”
“Of course is not! What do you people think? Just because he has its soul doesn’t mean he has it’s memories! He’s not an abomination, and even if he were, he could read its hosts mind, not his guest!”
I swayed, stunned speechless. I always feared my son would have been such, just as the possessed darkspawn became the new Archdemon... but my son wasn’t neither darkspawn or dragon: he was a human kid: if he retained his form, his soul -albeit merged with the one of an Old God- should have been the one of a human!
“This shouldn’t have happened, not even here at the Crossroads...”
“Crossroads? Is that the name of this place?”
“It doesn't matter,” Culles exclaimed pushing his way to Kieran. Both Morrigan and I shielded our son from the threatening templar, but I noticed he didn't even have a hand on his sword, “You must bring him away from here, cross the Eluvian both of you, immediately!”
“What do you mean, what's happening?” I asked panicking and turning to look at my son.
“Don't you feel it, Ewan?” Jowan was looking around, his staff readied in his hands. I glanced surprised at Eloise and she was in the same stance, ready to fight. “The Veil is torn, spirits are coming.”
Meaning demons. I turned around and spotted my son behind Morrigan: the presence of an Old God probably didn't go unnoticed, and spirits were coming for him... to get a piece of this powerful being, and following him into the real world...
“Tell him I love him...” I said to Morrigan, “and that... I’m proud of him.”
Her angry expression softened a bit into sadness, as she regretted for a moment our unexpected reunion had went that bad. “Farewell, Ewan.”
She turned and grabbed Kieran's wrist, pulling him towards the Eluvian. He stretched a hand to me and I grabbed it instinctively, squeezing it for a second before releasing him, as I watched them cross the ethereal glass. The mirrored surface of the Eluvian darkened, becoming opaque. Some magic obviosly still lingered because the glass was still emitting a soft purple glow.

Eloise
I could hear them whisper, hungry and frustrated.
Such power, such glory within reach...
Where is our God?
Where is our feast?
Ewan and Cullen both unsheathed their swords. “Where is our Eluvian?” Cullen asked, “I'd rather not fight here.”
“Yeah, it would be best not to warp the Veil more than it already is...” I agreed.
“And I want to see what I'm aiming at.” Jowan groaned. Apparently neither he or Cullen were yet able to see very well in this place are were wavering, blinking at the strange illumination of this place. I frowned: neither me or Morrigan seemed affected by it, and Ewan seemed to be adapting, what manner of place was that? Morrigan called it “the Crossroads”, but I've never heard of such a place, nor I imagined it could exist.
I started following the path we took before backwards “This way.” I shouted, but the humans were moving slowly.
Ewan readied his swords: “This whole place feels wrong, I can't even get a good feel of the Veil...”
I grimaced: “Neither do I. But it feels so thin it could...” I stopped: in front of our mirror stood a gigantic pride demon.
Well, fuck!
We stopped in formation: Cullen and Ewan on the front, Jowan and I forming a rearguard: we didn't want to risk casting spells here, but we could support the sword-wielders with minor enhancements and healing... hoping it wouldn't attract more spirits.
HELLO MAGE, the pride demon said to Ewan, ignoring the rest of us. THE MIGHTY VENGEANCE DID WARN YOU. I AM BOUND TO YOU AS YOU ARE TO ME. I WILL ALWAYS FIND YOU.
“Is this...” Cullen asked, his voice not quite confident, “Is this the same...”
“Hello, Mouse.” Ewan deadpanned. Mouse?
The pride demon was hovered over Ewan, as he was trying to enfold him, completely ignoring us. DO NOT INTERFERE, MORTALS. HE. IS. MINE.
“You know each other, I take.” I said.
“It's the demon from my Harrowing.” Ewan explained. “Apparently it's the kind of spirit who doesn't know the meaning of no.”
THE MIRROR IS SHUT. YOU NEED POWER TO GET OUT OF HERE ALIVE. YOU NEED WISDOM. JOIN ME AND I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.
Ewan scoffed: “I’m not up to become an abomination just yet.” he slashed his starmetal sword on the creature's snout making it jerk away from him. If you want me come and get me... if you dare.”
The creature growled disappointed.
IT WILL BE MY PLEASURE.  

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 6
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 sixth 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 chapter and the next one are the ones who have been rewritten more consistenty. I have decided to change the setting of this since I thought the Crossroads would have been a petter place for staging the battle with the Demons and less lore-intrusive than an anulment called on Aeonar. This meant also to cut out the character of Lily that didn't fully convince me in the first place, also because I had changed her role in the story so many times during the first writing that I became a little sick of her. Oh, and of course, now Uther's name is Kieran for canon reasons.
In case you're wondering, the Circle of Jainen appear in Dragon Age Legends, the web-gamethat launched around the time of DA2and that I played for some time. Since it is set practically in the same spot where I put Aeonar in the comic, I decided it was a fair trade.

Previous chapter:  In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 5
V: Keepers of Secrets
Ewan
We reached the camp we were setting and gathered our gear and supplies: despite being already dark we needed to move our camp into an area that was more safe, more distant from those... “Morrilocks”. We didn’t get far when we heard someone approaching from the woods. We all readied our weapons when I heard a familiar voice calling out to us: “Who are you? Identify yourselves!”
“Grey Wardens.” I declared. I couldn’t quite place that voice until I spotted the man who had talked emerging from the shadows: there was only one man I knew with that shade of red in the hair and a Nevarran accent: “Rory? Is that you?”
Roland stopped and looked at me in disbelief: “Ewan? What are you doing here?”
“Maker’s blood, you scared us, I thought you were some kind of monstrous creature...” I walked to him and greeted him with a hug. I hadn’t seen him since Alista
 

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 official 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.
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 hadcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As the story is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.
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V: Keepers of Secrets

Ewan
We reached the camp we were setting and gathered our gear and supplies: despite being already dark we needed to move our camp into an area that was more safe, more distant from those... “Morrilocks”. We didn’t get far when we heard someone approaching from the woods. We all readied our weapons when I heard a familiar voice calling out to us: “Who are you? Identify yourselves!”
“Grey Wardens.” I declared. I couldn’t quite place that voice until I spotted the man who had talked emerging from the shadows: there was only one man I knew with that shade of red in the hair and a Nevarran accent: “Rory? Is that you?”
Roland stopped and looked at me in disbelief: “Ewan? What are you doing here?”
“Maker’s blood, you scared us, I thought you were some kind of monstrous creature...” I walked to him and greeted him with a hug. I hadn’t seen him since Alistair’s coronation! “Well, not that I was entirely wrong.” I joked.
“Ditto, warden.” he laughed.
“You know him?” Jowan asked confused.
“I sure do.” I turned to introduce him: “This is ser Roland Gilmore of Hunterfell, Knight of Highever and veteran of the Fifth Blight.”
“Gilmore? The Teyrn consort of Gwaren?” both Cullen and Jowan looked surprised, and I admit I was too.
“Teyrn consort?” I asked him.
He grinned: “I got hitched. That’s why I never came to Amaranthine to join the Wardens.”
I punched him in the arm: “You could have at least invited me to the wedding!”
“I did!” he protested, “But you were busy saving the world or something... I think you were dealing with some sort of darkspawn civil war...”
I nodded: I never received the message, it got probably lost in the Wending Woods or maybe on Senechal Varel’s desk during the events of the Thaw.
“I had sent a message to Amaranthine yesterday, I didn’t think you would get here that soon.” he continued.
“A message? Don’t tell me, darkspawn attacks?”
“We don’t know for sure.” he admitted, “The village of Somersmith was attacked a few nights ago, completely wiped out...”
“Maker...” Cullen uttered, “an entire village?”
Rory nodded: “It was horrible, only a little elf girl survived. Our healer is taking care of her, but she had to use Blightbane to heal her injuries.”
“Blightbane?” both Jowan and I knew what that meant: Blightbane is a potion created by Irving’s predecessor, first enchanter Remille, to prevent the infection and the spreading of the Taint. It’s a difficult potion to make and completely useless if the taint has already spread through the body, this is why it’s not used often. Some say a darkspawn taught Remille how to prepare it, and it’s function is still unclear and object of study for the Grand Enchanter herself. With the exception of the College of Cumberland, the recipe is known only in Kinloch Hold, and only a few senior enchanters and even less Tranquils are able to prepare it.
Whatever attacked that village, it bore the Taint: only the darkspawn infection could prevent an injury to heal so that the Blightbane is necessary.
“That’s... disturbing.” I said eventually.
“So these are your Wardens?” he asked. I noticed he was staring at Jowan... oh shit, that’s right: he joined us before Redcliffe!
“Well, Lewyn is, the other one is Cullen, you may remember him from the Circle Tower, he was the templar that survived Uldred’s coup...”
“Yes... and I remember Lewyn too, he was in Redcliffe, wasn’t he?”
I glared at Jowan: Please deny it! He remembers you!
Jowan made an embarrassed smile and cleared his throat: “Yes, I was...”
Rory turned to me frowning: “So... why did you recruit a blood mage? He’s the one who poisoned Arl Eamon, isn’t he?”
I sighed: “Roland, it’s not like that... well, it is, but he was caught in the middle and Loghain took advantage of the situation... he’s a good man, and he’s trying to redeem himself...”
“And you’re a templar!” he shouted at Cullen, “You should arrest him, not travel with him!”
Cullen scoffed: “What would be the point? Ewan would invoke the right of conscription anyway. I trust him, and I’m second in command of the Gallows in Kirkwall, so I don’t see why all this should be your concern.”
Rory looked at us uncertain, then sighed and crossed his arms: “Why are you here, anyway? If you didn’t receive my message...”
“We were traveling in the area and we were attacked too.” I explained, glad he decided to drop the subject, “We saw the creatures: they are emissaries, shapeshifters actually.”
“Shapeshifters?” his frown deepened.
“That’s even more disturbing.” I said handing him one of the tunics I took from one of the Morrilocks in case I needed to try to scry for them. Rory examined the fabric perplexed. “Reminds you of something?”
“That’s quite unusual clothing for a darkspawn.” he admitted, “The seams are sewn precisely and tight, looks like it has been made by a human, not a mindless creature... and reminds me of... Morrigan’s robe?”
I nodded: “The darkspawn that attacked us looked like Morrigan. They were female, with black hair, unlike anything we have seen during the Blight or after it.”
“Female darkspawn, shapeshifters... do you think Morrigan...” he started, but I shook my head.
“I don’t know where Morrigan is exactly, but I’m quite sure she’s not in the deep roads breeding darkspawn abominations. It must be something else.”
Rory shifted uncomfortably on his feet and turned towards the trees: “I think we’d better get back to our camp, talking about this in the light of a fire would be less creepy.”
I chuckled: “You’re right.”

He took off and we followed him. As we were walking, Cullen asked Rory how we met and we both chuckled remembering the episode.
“Well, do you know about Howe’s attack on Highever?” he asked. Cullen nodded, so he continued: “After the battle, I was captured, but eventually I managed to escape, so I tried to reach Ostagar to look for Teyrn Fergus. I needed to tell him what happened... but when I arrived in Lothering, I heard the news of the battle, the death of King Cailan and that Fergus was missing...”
“Poor boy, he looked so lost in front of the chantry...” I quipped, “When we approached him he recognized our pendants and he asked us if we were Wardens... it was actually a good thing: we didn’t know Loghain blamed us for the battle and had accused our order of treason. Lucky us, Rory was a Warden fan-boy...”
“I wasn’t a fan-boy!” he protested.
“Yes you were. ‘Oh please, I want to join the Wardens, can I join the Wardens’?” I started making an childish impression of him, but I had to stop and dodge a cypress berry he had thrown at me.
“Anyway,” he continued, “he accepted this fan-boy in his ranks.”
“Morrigan wasn’t pleased.” I chuckled, “We already had Alistair, another ‘pious knight’ wasn’t welcome by her.”
“Yes, what did she say? ‘I swear, next time we’ll be recruiting chantry sisters!’
“Well, the next one to join us was Leliana...” I recalled, “she didn’t get that wrong... Anyway, you came highly recommended.” I turned to Jowan, “Duncan, the Warden that recruited me, was in Highever during the attack. He wanted to recruit Roland or Teyrn Bryce younger daughter, Cora, but both refused to leave the castle when Howe’s men attacked. He even informed King Cailan about the attack, but the King died before he could do anything about it.”
“So Howe took Highever, and Loghain confirmed his new status and proclaimed him his second-in-command.” Rory sighed.
“He was a convenient cover-man.” I remembered, “Howe did all of Loghain’s dirty work, so even in front of the Landsmeet we had little proof of what he had done... even his daughter knew barely half of the things he was involved in...”
Jowan chuckled: “I admit I’m envious... it shows you two formed a great bond during the war.”
“Well...” I replied with a smile. “One good thing about the Blight...”
“...Is how it brings people together.” Rory completed and we cackled up. Alistair used to say that all the time someone was fighting over silly things. It was actually the first thing he told me when we met in Ostagar...
We arrived at the camp and a young muscular woman was waiting for us, sword ready. I knew her, having seen her a few times in Denerim, but I was never introduced to her. She jogged to us as soon as she spotted Rory and greeted him with a smile. “You’re back! Who are they?”
“Warden, may I introduce you my spouse.” Rory said with a loving smile still looking at her, “Cora, this is Ewan Amell, the Hero of Ferelden. Ewan, this is Cora Cousland, Teyrna of Gwaren.”
I bowed to Cora trying not to be too goofy. Cora was a nice and pretty, but not in a ‘delicate flower’ way: she was a Fereldan woman from head to toes, a pretty face to make your heart beat faster and strong arms to make it stop if needed. Her hair cut in a short bob were unusual in her class, and gave her a slightly tomboy-ish vibe, but she had round and proportionate features, full lips and huge hazel eyes with long lashes, unmistakably feminine. Her movements were graceful and firm, velvet with an iron core. In a way she reminded me of how I always imagined my aunt Leandra, my mother’s cousin who ran away with an apostate when I was barely three years old, and the only image I had of her was a small portrait my grandmother showed me when I was little. This girl, she used to say, is a true Amell who lives according to our motto: “What is ours, is ours to take”. I came to understand the saying only many years after, when I was sent to the Circle: no one will give you willingly what’s “yours” for birthright: if you want something you must earn it yourself. And that was a lesson Cora Cousland had learned the hard way: overthrown and captured by Rendon Howe, she had to fight to take back what was hers, and in the end she earned a place in king Alistair’s court and the Teyrnir that once belonged to Queen Anora’s father, the first city king Maric and Loghain McTir freed from the Orlesian usurper.
Considering it was Anora who choose her to fill her father’s role, she must have had a strong will and great talent, at least comparable to Anora’s own, and that’s saying something!
“I’m honored to meed you Teyrna, I have met your brother Fergus once, but I don’t think I had the pleasure yet...”
“There’s no need to bow, Warden.” she said. Her voice was a soft alto, very sensual... Rory was a lucky man, from what I was seeing! “I should thank you for having ended the civil war on the right side... among other things like... uhm... the Blight maybe?”
She laughed. Smart, good looking and with a good sense of humor, Rory was lucky indeed.
“The first time I’ve heard of you you were held captive by Rendon Howe, then you were missing in action and the next thing I know you’ve been appointed Teryna. If that’s how you can overturn your luck, I guess had you been in my place you would have done the same. You almost were, if I recall... Duncan recruited me too.”
Sadness flashed in her eyes: “Yes, I almost joined your order. I wanted too... but as Rory, I couldn’t leave my place, not with Howe’s men threatening my home and my family.”
I nodded and changed subject: “Let me introduce my friend: Knight-Captain Cullen of the Gallows and Master Lewin of Dragon’s Claw, they’re assisting me in an investigation over...”
“Jowan.” a woman said. I froze and turned to the encampment. An elven woman in a robe was standing there. Her petite figure was familiar but it took me a moment to recognize her: red hair, angled features, huge green eyes and a lip shape... the first adjective that came to mind was ‘funny’. That was made me recognize her. Her funny lip shape. She had changed so much, in those six years, but it was definitely her.
“His name is Jowan.” she repeated.
Eloise Surana survived the Blight, after all.

Eloise
I was on alert since Lord Gilmore had gone searching for the source of the noise we had heard, and I noticed the three men coming from the woods with him. It took me a moment to identify them but even before Gilmore introduced him to Cora I had recognized Ewan. How could I not? I’ve never met any other human with that shade of spring-green eyes, and even in the dim light they seemed to glow. Well, it helped that he still wore his beard“Gregoir’s style”and his hair was a bit longer than I remembered but always messy the same way. Of course time and being a warden took its toll on him: he looked older, stressed, tired and careful, nothing like the carefree boy who hit on anything that breathes he used to be in our Circle days.
Cullen was a surprise: he looked even older than Ewan was, and they were about the same age, perhaps Cullen being a year or two younger, but he looked... scarred. Broken. Barely holding it together, a man at the end of his rope, it was as if in those six years since the last time I had seen him he had fought more and harder battles than Ewan - and Ewan ended a Blight, that’s saying something! The awkward young man that I loved to tease was gone, he was a hardened warrior with a spark of madness in his eyes and the burned of command on his shoulders. Knight-Captain of the Gallows? I couldn’t picture him in Kirkwall.
Jowan on the other hand... the little scoundrel was always the same, like not a day had passed since the last time I had seen him and he introduced me his Fat Cow and told me he wanted to escape the Circle. I couldn’t believe the rumors about him being a blood mage that spread through the tower after he fled, I didn’t want to believe them, but I still knew I had to get away from it, I couldn’t believe the man I used to love was a maleficar. During the years I forgot what I even saw in him in the first place but, oh boy! Now that he was standing in front of me I did remember: wide shoulder, pouty lips that begged to be bitten, black silky hair that stayed combed no matter what he did to mess them up, narrow hips that hid a firm butt made of ironbark and dark-gray puppy dog eyes... mmh, he was hitting all my buttons just standing there and looking at me bewildered: lust, care and healer-syndrome. The impure thoughts!
And he threw me away for a fat cow. Well, his loss!
“Eloise...” he murmured.
“You’re alive.” echoed Knight-Captain Obvious.
“Andraste’s Ashes!” Ewan choked his surprise, “You're here?”
“You know each other?” Cora asked him, “She’s the healer who saved me from Rendon Howe, and...”
Her words died when both Cullen and Jowan marched towards me fuming from rage.
“LITTLE KNIFE-EARED SNAKE! YOU SOLD ME TO IRVING, DIDN’T YOU? I THOUGHT...” Jowan shouted, but I couldn’t make the rest of his sentence as Cullen joined him.
“BLOODY APOSTATE! WE ALL THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE THE...”
I sighed and listened to their ramblings putting on my flawless diamondback face for a couple of seconds. With a wave of my staff I pushed them aside and walked towards Ewan, completely ignoring the two spitting rage demons: “Hello Ewan, are you happy to see me or do you want to yell at me as well?”
He smiled at me, tenderly and sadly. I had never seen that look on his face: “Hey, can you blame them?” he enfolded me in a hug, “We thought you were dead.”
“I just choose to live a free life.” I explained reciprocating, “The Circle didn’t need me, the king’s army was destroyed... when I found Nan and Cora running from the Howes in the Bannorn I had to help them...” I turned to Cullen with a impish smile, “...and after King’s Alistair’s decree, a mage that lives the circle to work for a Bann, Teyrn or as a healer in a village is not considered an apostate in Ferelden, Knight-Captain Cullen of the Gallows. I guess in Kirkwall it’s not the same thing.”
He just grunted and kept scowling at me.
“Sooo...” I turned to Jowan, “How’s your fat cow?”
Jowan crossed his arms and pouted like an offended baby: “Not talking to you. You sold me to Irving.”
I laughed, “Oh come on! It was a lifetime ago and in the end it turned out I did the right thing, didn’t I? I have heard all about you, wanted maleficar number one. I’m only sorry for the Fat Cow who ended up in Aeonar because of you.” I glared at him, “You broke my heart and betrayed both Lily and Ewan’s trust. By involving them in your foolishness you caused her arrest and his recruitment. If I could go back, I’d do it again: you brought this on yourself, not me.”
In the awkward silence that followed I realized Cora didn’t know about the blood-mage-detail... oh, well. She would have found out. Cullen coughed and whispered to him: “Well... I think she’s right, you know?”
“What a surprise...” the other hissed back.
We were interrupted by Byron, Gilmore’s father, who came from the forest with the two men he took to investigate the trail of the darkspawn we were following. “Roderick.” he called.
“Roderick?” Ewan asked puzzled turning to Gilmore. Ah, he probably knew him as “Roland”... his father named him after an uncle he couldn’t stand, and he always introduced himself as “Roland” or “Rory”.
He looked embarrassed: “Long story...” then he cleared his throat and introduced the two of them: “Father, this is the Hero of Ferelden. He and his companions are investigating the darkspawn attacks, just like us. Ewan, this is my father ser Byron Gilmore of Hunter Fell...”
Ewan saluted Byron and glanced at the small group that had gathered: “I’m not sure these are regular darkspawn attacks. The Thaw has ended years ago, and these darkspawn are quite...” he hesitated as he had heard something. I frowned, this couldn’t be good. “...different.” he concluded. Both Jowan and Cullen looked frightened by his strange hesitation and glancing around, but I had an idea of what he was sensing.
“What’s happening?” Gilmore asked, “Did you sense something?”
Ewan shook his head staring at the woods: “Something, but faint and... different. Not a darkspawn, perhaps something more like...”
“We crossed paths with some Dalish scouts before.” I explained, “Unusually friendly. We warned them about the darkspawn attacks, but one of them claimed to be a Grey Warden... you’re probably sensing her.”
He looked at me as I had grown a third boob. “What?”
I bit my lip and tried to reassure him: “I know, Grey Wardens can’t sense each other, unless they’re close to the Calling, but don’t worry, it’s normal for you.”
He frowned: “What could you possibly know about this?”
“Avernus?” Cora asked and I nodded. Ewan glanced between me and her, so she explained: “After we escaped the Howes, we ended up in Soldier’s Peak. Avernus explained to us that you had cleansed the place and re-recruited him into your order.”
“I also helped him in carrying on his research.” I admitted, “Lucky me I knew the Blightsbane recipe! That helped a great deal.”
“You did what?” he asked close to panic.
I frowned: that wasn’t that big of a deal! “His research about the taint it’s vital to your order. Don’t worry, he kept it ‘ethical’ as you commanded.” I grinned, “And now I know a thing or two about the Grey Wardens and the concoction you drank...”
He blinked at me bewildered... wait, he did...
“What do you mean? The concoction was just... an experiment.”
Oh Maker, he didn’t. “Do you really think he gave you just some extra blood-magic powers? Oh, not real blood magic.” I hurried in explaining the others, “Not in the deal-with-a-demon sense anyway, it’s magic that uses blood but it’s not blood-magic-blood-magic...”
Ewan frowned: “Then what was it?”
I shook my head chocking back a laughter: the mighty Amell who drank a potion he didn’t know the effects... I couldn’t believe he- no, wait, that’s definitely something he’d do.
“I think we should talk about it in private, Ewan. You know better than me the Wardens have some secrets for a reason...”

After dinner we were sitting around the campfire. Cullen was sitting beside me and I couldn’t resist resuming the old habits: “So, Knight-Captain of the Gallows, what brings you here in your homeland? Did you miss me?”
He glanced at me for a second “Hardly. I thought you were dead.”
“So I’ve heard. Come on, are you here on a mission or what?”
He sighed and stared into the fire: “I thought I was.” he stilled in silence for a second, then he resumed talking: “I’ve been transferred to Kirkwall after I... after an incident in the tower. I had panic attacks and I tried to kill a mage and three apprentices... three kids. After Uldred uprising I had nightmares: I saw blood mages everywhere and... well, maybe you heard what happened, let’s just say I was tortured for weeks by blood mages and I'll leave the rest to your imagination.”
I shivered: blood magic wasn’t pleasant business, but I didn’t say anything.
“Kirkwall was different, though. Knight-Commander Meredith entrusted me as her second-in-command and I started to get out of it, the nightmares lessened even when I discovered a mage’s plot to infiltrate the templar ranks with abominations... I had people I trusted, even mages, I started to see the world in a different way, getting stronger... then something happened. The Knight-Commander started to see blood mages everywhere, and this was sort of... contagious. I became obsessed with blood magic and...” he glanced at me, “...my past. So one night I left and started looking for Jowan. It was... compulsive. I had to find him and... well, arrest him, I suppose.”
Or kill him. That’s what he wasn’t saying, but I understood: “Obsessed about a guy you hadn’t seen in years as to desert? That’s what I call true love.” I joked weakly.
“Ha-ha, very funny.” he smiled at me, “Speaking of which... Jowan, this Avernus guy... you’re into blood mages, aren’t you?”
I laughed: “And what about you? Still want to get into me?”
He blushed so hard I thought he was going to bleed.
“Mmmh, I thought so... you know, your blush kinda turns me on...” I stroke again.
I turned and I saw Jowan glaring at me disapprovingly. I lost it and started laughing.
“You know why I can’t sense the darkspawn?” Ewan asked me sitting by me.
“Sure you do!” Jowan blurted out. “You sensed those creatures, those... how did you call them? Morrilocks?”
I frowned: Morrilocks? I’ve never heard of such a breed of darkspawn. “He can sense darkspawn.” I explained, “better yet, he can sense tainted beings, but only the ones who have either severed the tie to the Calling of the Old Gods or the ones who had mastered it.” I saw everyone but Ewan looking at me as if I just had talked in ancient Tevene backwards and I sighed: “The Blight is a complicated matter: the blood of a darkspawn and the blood of a Warden are different from anything else... Ewan’s blood is however different from both of them, he’s the best result Avernus could achieve in his research, and it works in unpredictable ways.”
He sighed and stared into the fire: “My... Warden sense was always weak. I’ve always had troubles in tapping into the darkspawn mind. Alistair said I had to develop my sensibility to the taint, and I did dream of the Archdemon during the Blight... but my sense had always been attenuate, even the newer recruits I conscripted during the Thaw were able to sense the darkspawn better than I did. All I could sense were the Archdemon, the disciples, and the Architect...”
“What’s an Architect?” I asked.
“A darkspawn...” he answered, glancing at Cullen and Jowan before uttering, “I believe one of the first darkspawn. One of the Seven Magisters.”
I was surprised but that made sense: “These are exactly the tainted beings I was talking about: masters of the Calling or darkspawn that have severed their ties from it.”
“Like the Disciples.”
I nodded though I had no idea what a Disciple was either: “The concoction altered your blood and how the taint works on you. Avernus’ goal was exploiting the effect of the taint on the wardens body... and he did that, but the most important result was... severing the Grey Wardens from the Calling.”
“What do you mean?” he asked surprised.
I chuckled “Have you ever wondered how is it possible Avernus is still alive?”
“A deal with a demon or something like that?” he offered.
“That would be insufficient. You’re forgetting the corruption. Avernus is not a ghoul, he retains a large part of his humanity. He should have turned and go to the Deep Roads a long time ago, but he didn’t. He’s not cured, but... changed. His experiments turned him into something different and you drank the result of centuries of those very experiments.”
“That’s why the Architect was so interested in my blood...” he murmured. “He was trying to achieve these same results... but for the darkspawn.”
“If he’s one of the original Magisters he’s a blood mage too.” I considered. “Do you think he’s the fabled darkspawn that taught Remille how to prepare the Blightsbane?”
Jowan grunted: “I’m surprised you drank the thing, considered this guy was a blood mage...”
“So what?” Ewan growled. All of us looked at him surprised by his reaction. “If you didn’t notice, there was a Blight going on, and I was... am sworn to do anything in my power to stop the Blight, and if there was any chance that potion could have given me more power... I just took the chance.”
“And it set you free from the Calling of the Old Gods.” I added. “It won't stop the corruption, but it will prolong your life all the same...”
He shrugged: “I’ve been a Grey Warden for less than seven years, not even halfway through my life expectation and I’m risking my life anyway. Believe me, the Calling is far from my immediate concern.”
An uncomfortable silence fell over us. I sighed and considered what my priorities were.
“We’re leaving tomorrow at dawn.” Ewan announced.
“I’ll be ready.” I replied.
Three head snapped at me so fast I thought their necks would have break.
“Are you sure?” Ewan asked slowly. “What about your patient?”
I shrugged: “She’ll live. If she didn’t die yet, there’s nothing I can do to make it worse.”
He sighed: “I suppose you think I need you more than she does.”
I grinned: “Sure you do.”
“You know anything more than you already shared?”
I held his stare: if he was afraid I was keeping information from him he was so very wrong. Actually, I believed it was the other way around: Ewan was onto something, something dangerous, and I had already let him down. I had him recruited in the Wardens by telling Irving of Jowan’s plans, I didn’t make it to Ostagar in time to help him... And I missed him. I missed Jowan. I even missed Cullen... I missed what we used to be back in the days. I missed my family.
“The last time I left you alone with him...” I nodded towards Jowan who was glaring a hole in my forehead as if aiming for a fireball, “he ended up using blood magic, you joined the Grey Wardens and Cullen was left alone in the tower to be tortured by blood mages...”
“Afraid we’d get in trouble without you?” he offered with a smirk.
“No,” I stood up and patting away the dirt from my skirt, “I’m afraid I’ll miss all the fun. Again.”

Ewan
As soon as we left the Cousland’s camp, I started to think allowing Elosie to travel with us was a bad idea. Possibly the worse idea in the history of bad ideas. We weren’t even out of the camp’s grounds that she started to pick on Jowan.
“I wanted to tell you I’m sorry.” he had blurted out, “I hadn’t realized I was hurting your feelings...”
“What in Andraste’s name are you talking about?” she had asked surprised.
“Well... about what happened in the Circle... Lily and all...”
She interrupted him with a groan: “Dear Maker, Jowan, that was seven years ago! Don’t you think I may have moved on in the meantime?”
Considering she brought it out barely yesterday, I didn’t either, but whatever...
“You may have, but I haven’t.” he continued, “You are right, I brought this on myself and I’m still facing the consequences and trying to make amends of...”
“Jowan.” she interrupted him. “Seriously, there’s no need. I understand your point of view, but if you think I did what I did out of jealousy, you’re wrong. And if you think you can fish for an apology with me, I have to disappoint you once more.”
Jowan just stared at her in utter surprise, then he let out a groan of frustration and marched ahead muttering curses I couldn’t quite understand but probably involved Eloise’s ancestry.
Just. Great. This was going to be fun. Oh, well, if I managed to keep Leliana and Morrigan together without killing each other I could do this.
I glanced at Cullen, the only one who hadn’t spoke yet and asked him: “How are you?”
“As always.” was his dry answer.
I sighed: “So... she’s alive, uhn?”
“So what?”
“Nothing. I just thought...”
“If you thought I would be glad to see her again and have her along with us” he hissed, “you were wrong. I loved her, oh yes, I used to. Very much, more than my own life. She was important to me, more than the Maker himself, had it been her instead of Uldred leading the riots in the Tower I’d have been at her side, fighting for mage’s freedom against my own comrades. I’ve never loved any woman but her, I don’t care about her being a mage, an elf... I never did.
“But they used her to torture me, they trapped me in the Fade repeatedly, every time with a different demon posing as her, torturing me, offering me a life I would never have, telling me things I knew weren’t true but I so desperately wanted to believe... but I wanted the real thing, not a nice fantasy, albeit believable. They held me captive for... I don’t know how long, days? Weeks? A month? A year, even, for what it’s worth. Time is pointless in the Fade, you should know that, and with all the time in the world they used her against me. But this doesn’t matter, she was and always will be the love I will never live and the instrument of my greatest pain.
“Yes, I still love her. Pathetic right? My teen crush still haunts my dreams, and now she haunts my waking hours as well. So, if you thought having her along would make me feel better, the answer is no.”
He kept walking, slightly panting.
“So I was right.” I said with a smile. He glared at me puzzled, “You did need to talk.”
He chuckled and kept walking shaking his head. I caught up to him and I was about to say something else when I heard a pluck and a swish coming from a tree at our side. I recognized the tune: “Look out!” I shouted while grabbing him. An arrow fled just in front of us, piercing the undergrowth.
It looked like we had found the Dalish.
In a matter of seconds all of us had our weapons ready, but I whispered them to stay put, then I shouted at the trees: “We mean no harm, Elvenhan...” Maker, I hoped that was the right word, “I am a Grey Warden, and these are my companions. We are on a quest for the dark ones who are raiding these woods, and we seek for the People’s wisdom.”
A rustling in the bushes signaled someone was coming out of hiding, I just hoped they would prove themselves as friendly as Zathrian’s clan... well, maybe a little more, if that was possible.
A young girl in a Veridium armor emerged from the underbushes: “Warden!” she smiled at me.
I smiled in recognition: “Ariane!” I greeted her as a warrior, since that’s what she was and Dalish people can be touchy. Not that it would be a problem with us, but I didn’t want to put her in an awkward position with the other elves of the vanguard she was probably leading. “I was really hoping to find you! Is Finn with your clan?”
“Yes, Warden. We joined them not long ago, and the keeper will be glad to thank you in person for your help in recovering the tome.”
I smiled. Ariane was sent by her keeper Solan to retrieve an ancient book her clan had guarded since the days of Arlathan... or since the day the text was reclaimed from the Circle by an Elf who later joined the Dalish... or both, that part wasn’t quite clear when she explained it. We met at Flemeth’s hut in the Korcari Wilds, both looking for Morrigan, and we started our search together as we gathered by finding Morrigan we’d find the book and vice-versa.
“Maker’s blood!” Jowan exclaimed, “Is there someone you don’t know in this forest?”
“Well, what do you expect when half of Ferelden seems to have fled to Kirkwall?” Eloise quipped.
A tingle in the back of my head warned me a Grey Warden was nearby. I was expecting the Warden to be her since Eloise mentioned a Dalish Warden, still seeing her when I turned was a surprise.
“Wonders of wonders... It’s nice to see you, Commander.”
“Velanna! I thought you were dead!” I smiled at the exiled First and offered her a smile. I never knew how to... interact with her, since she seemed offended by anything and everything I said or did, even if all I did was trying not to offend her, and I was really surprised to see her smile back at me and offering her hand to grasp in salute. I hadn’t see her in five years, not after the siege of Vigil’s Keep when she went missing in action.
Eloise snorted and nudged at Jowan: “You were saying?”
“I’m sorry I hadn’t returned to the Keep, Commander.” Velanna said. “But I’ve heard you let Anders go, so I hope you don’t consider me a deserter...”
I laughed: “You know well Wardens don’t have real deserters. And to me it doesn’t matter where you perform your duties.”
She smiled and showed me the way as Ariane started leading us to their camp “I guess you don’t. Besides the Dalish need me, now more than ever. Strange darkspawn have roamed this forest lately.”
I nodded: “You look good. Living with the People is good for you.”
She chuckled: “That’s because this is not my clan, I guess. And after my experience with the Wardens I’m not the same woman.”
“What happened to you?” I asked. She looked at me funny for a second before realizing I didn’t mean what had changed, but what happened in the battle. Soldier had seen a section of the walls collapse on her, but when they removed the debris we didn’t find any body.
“I saved myself using the root magic.” she explained, “We... Keepers are trained to become one with nature, I can travel through roots, I think I showed you some times...”
I nodded: in the Wending Woods she used that trick repeatedly when we were looking for her. Used to drive us nuts.
“I ended up in the Wending Woods, exhausted and wounded, and I figured that it was useless to try and reach the Keep: by the time I would have get there the battle would have been either won or lost.” she continued, “That’s when I met Solan’s clan. They were traveling south, getting close to the Wilds and the Thaw was still ongoing as well as the darkspawn civil war. I thought they needed me more than you did, all things considering, so I decided to escort them.”
“Not to interrupt the story...” Eloise quipped, “but why exactly are we joining the Dalish now?”
“Well... that’s unusual, actually, but to find out more about these darkspawn... well, we’ll need an Eluvian...”
“A... mirror?” Jowan asked. I froze surprised for a second: I had forgotten Jowan was quite versed at Elvish, more than Eloise and myself, anyway...
“A magical mirror.” Ariane explained. “An ancient elven magic.”
“And it happens their keeper and Finn are the most expert about this kind of things.” I concluded.
“Finn?” Cullen frowned. “You mentioned this guy before, who...”
“Wait.” Jowan glared at me in shock, “You don’t mean Finn as in Florian, right?”
“Oh Maker!” Cullen was equally shocked, “We’re doomed!”
Eloise was not pleased: “You made us cross this forest to find Flora?
“Hey, hey, calm down a bit...” I smiled at them awkwardly but tried to sound confident. Finn wasn’t exactly... oh, damn it, Finn was a nerd, a goof and a major pain in the ass sometimes, but he was still the only one I knew who could understand how an Eluvian works that I could track down. “I’ve worked with him recently, he’s grown up, matured, and he’s a capable mage and educated scholar. He’s...”
The last of my pathetic excuses died when we got out of a scrub of overgrown shrubs and I’ve heard Finn’s voice finishing the infamous joke of the cleric, the dwarf and the darkspawns.
“...So the dwarf said: ‘We don’t dream, we don’t worship this Maker guy and we can’t be mages, so what in the dust are they doing down here?’
The poor Dalish hunter turned at us with a lost look and Ariane sighed.
“You were saying?” my three companions were glaring at me arms crossed.
“Andraste give me strength.” I uttered.
Finn turned following the hunter’s gaze and spotted us: “Warden! What brings you here?” he looked past me, “Oh, no way! There are also Surana, Jowan and... er...” he paused uncertain at Cullen, “Weren’t you transferred to Kirkwall, ser Cullen?”
“Yes, but don’t worry, I won’t stab you.” Cullen replied, but the look on his face said otherwise. It occurred to me that if the incident with Anders and the apprentices happened in the library, Finn had probably witnessed it.
In fact he took a step towards me and whispered: “Not that I’m not glad to see you, but what are you doing here with a blood mage, a crazy templar and... Eloise?”
“Right now, I’m trying to keep them from killing us both.” I murmured. “I need you to find a working Eluvian. Do you still have the shard we used to scry for one?”
“Sure I do.” he replied happly.
“Well, I need you to scry for a working one, not the one in the Dragonbone Wastes...”
“Of course, that’s broken.”
“...And I need to speak with the Keeper about the lore: I need to find out everything I can about them.”
“Oh, there’s no need to disturb the Keeper.” he dismissed my concern with a wave, “I know plenty about them, if you want I can...”
I felt, more than saw, the glances Jowan Cullen and Eloise were throwing at me, and none of them were friendly. When I heard Cullen’s sword come out of his sheath, I probably widened my eyes because Finn stopped with a concerned look: “...No?”
“No, thanks.” I sighed, “I prefer to speak with the Keeper if that’s possible.”
“Very well, I’ll get the shard then, and begin scrying. Figures it will be a lot easier without undead rising and trying to kill us...”
“And I’ll go ask the keeper.” Ariane interjected, “But I’m not even sure he’ll be able to help you: if you recall there wasn’t much we knew about the Eluvian before we retrieved the book Morrigan stole...”
“Wait, did you just say the book was yours?” Eloise mused, “And you weren’t able to interpret it?”
“We had no idea what an Eluvian was in the first place.” Velanna groaned, “Solan had me, Finn and his first Zeryde studying it since they returned with it. I don’t know what that witch of the wilds of yours did it, but seeing it in action helped us understanding many of the words who’s meaning was lost to time. For example, Finn thinks it's Elua-Vian: 'looking glass', but I believe it's El u viran 'our only way in'...”
“Wait, you studied that book?” Jowan asked Velanna, “Can’t you tell us what you need to know?”
“I could, but it’s not my place to decide whether to share the knowledge.” Velanna replied dryly.
“I could have let Finn tell me, but I asked Solan's first also for respect.” I explained, “No offense, but Dalish keep as a secret any information related to their culture, even those things who aren’t secret at all.”
Ariane nodded: “Let’s see if I can get your audience.”
Ma serannas, Ariane.”
She smiled at my accent and hopped away. Velanna slithered at my side so silently I jumped when she spoke.
“I still don’t understand how you do it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look at her... she was worse than me, cursing shems here and there and now she’s speaking of leaving the clan to live with Finn...”
“What?” my eyes must have popped out of my head, “Ariane and Finn? No way!”
Velanna chuckled: “You have a strange influence over us Dalish people. A few days working with you and we almost forget what humans did to us all...”
“Who tells you is has to do with me and not with Finn?”
“Because it just doesn’t work the same way with Finn. Ariane may want to kiss him silent -when no one's looking- but I’d rather smack some common sense into his head.” she laughed.
“You changed.” it slipped to me. I didn’t mean to blurt it out loud, but Velanna wasn’t offended.
“I have.” she admitted, “My time with the Grey Wardens made me put all in perspective. It’s not who we’re born that define us, but the choices we make. I like to think I’m a little less selfish and more tolerant now, and I definitely take my vows as a Warden more seriously.”
That surprised me: I knew only too well she joined the order just because she wanted to find her sister, abducted and turned by the Architect, but during the Thaw I imagined it was a reason as good as any. “What vows are you talking about? Do anything to stop and prevent a Blight?”
In peace, vigilance. It’s the same as we speak in the Joining, the shadows where we stand vigilant... Being a Warden is standing vigilant against any threat to our people, whether it comes from the darkspawn or something else. The Dalish have always been my people, and I’ll vigil over them until the day of my Calling.”
I nodded and smiled. She had found her dimension both as a warden and a Dalish, without having to deny neither, who was I to disagree?

First Zeryde was all I could expect from a Keeper and nothing I was expecting from a First. In my limited experience with Dalish, Firsts were apprentices, young ones, twenty-five years old tops. All the ones I had met or read about in Anders’ letters - Lanaya, Velanna, Merrill - fit the bill of the young and restless, the careless youngster or, on the contrary, concerned by their own inexperience. Zeryde was nothing like that: she was older than me, probably over-forty, her face - or at least the half I could see as she had the other hidden by a mass of curly black hair- carved by the time and perhaps a straining use of magic, as I recalled having seen many mages in the tower aging fast because of a strange and unusual connection with the Fade.
Wrinkles or scars I couldn’t tell, since the tent when she received me was shielding us from the sunlight and the only light source were two candles that burned too bright for being simple waxed ropes. She was sitting legs crossed casually leaning over some pillows, probably made of woven hemp and filled with pine needles by the smell of it.
Andaran atish’an, First Zeryde...”
Aneth’ara, Dor’Telasen. Be welcome.” she spoke with a deep and soft voice, “I understand you are the clanfriend who saved our brethren in the Brecilian forest from the plague of werewolves, the clan of Zathrian... or should I say Lanaya, now...”
“Zathrian did it, actually” I admitted sitting on the ground, “And I suppose technically it’s Lanaya’s clan now, although I believe Zathrian’s name is going to stick for some more time.”
“It is. Zathrian led the clan for a long time... and Keeper Lanaya speaks fondly of you. It is uncommon for a Dalish to have such respect for an human.”
“It is also uncommon for a city-born elf to become a Keeper...”
“True. But Ariane and Velanna aren’t city-born, and they respect you just as much as she does.”
I shrugged, “I’m just a shemlen who knows what’s like to be on the bad side of oppression. I showed respect and got it in return, I’m afraid that’s why it’s so uncommon for humans to gain the People’s trust and friendship.”
She laughed. “That’s true: your kind doesn’t value our common gift as the Elvhen do. But you don’t give yourself much credit calling yourself a len: you don’t try to muse us when you speak the tongue of Arlathan, you do it out of respect... and your past speaks for your motives, the reasons you seek for an old lore you helped recover...”
I nodded: “Yes. I need to know how an Eluvian works.”
“What for, if I may ask?”
I paused. I knew what she was really asking: if I was after Morrigan, then why didn’t I follow her through the mirror when I had the chance? Ariane must have told them about our encounter, and what she told me... what she didn’t know was the rest of it.
“There is... something going on now...” I started, “something that could be related to Asha'bellanar... My mentor Grey Warden once said these mirrors were used as communication devices...”
“Duncan told you that?”
“You knew him?” I asked surprised.
“Keeper Marethari did, and we crossed paths more than once.”
I nodded: I knew who Marethari was because both Duncan and Anders’ reports from Kirkwall mentioned her, and I also knew she was... close to Flemeth herself, judging by the story of the amulet Flemeth gave Hawke...
“Duncan told me that two of her hunters found an Eluvian and they fell ill from the darkspawn taint because of that. Ariane mentioned you crossed path with them not long ago.”
She just nodded then stared into the fire of the candle.
“Beware of Eluvians, Dor’falon...” she said eventually, “they are a mystery to anyone, even for me who have studied them for a long time now... they are described as a gateway to other worlds, as spying glasses through the Beyond, as communication devices... as weapons. Yet they’re none of these things, and perhaps all of them. No one knows how they were built, how exactly they work or where they can lead... perhaps only your friend Morrigan does, now. Are you really sure you want to risk to find one and activate it?”
“If I don’t I could never learn what’s going on, Zeryde” I explained, “what’s threatening this forest and all its inhabitants... including you.”
She turned to me and smiled: “Then I’ll tell you what you need to know.”

Exiting the tent, a rush of fresh air made my head spin. Finn trotting towards me waving a map didn’t help me.
“There you are!” he panted, “I managed to find another Eluvian, but you’re not going to like where it is.”
“Amaze me.”
“Here...” he laid the map as I motioned for Cullen, Jowan and Eloise to come closer, also because I didn’t like neither the flirty looks Eloise was throwing at one of the scouts nor Cullen’s reaction to it. “On this island offshore of West Hill, due front from river Dane’s mouth...”
“Uhm, on the other side of the country, but at least it’s on this side of the Waking Sea...” I grunted.
“It’s in the north of the central island of this group, Valegathe I believe is called.”
“Valegathe?” Cullen frowned, “Damn!”
I sighed and braced for more bad news: “You know the place?”
He nodded “Jainen. Could be worse, actually: it's a Circle of Magi.”
Jowan frowned: “A Circle? There? I thought Kinloch Hold was the only Circle in Ferelden...”
“Jainen is a small Circle, led by Isolationists and dedicated to research, doesn't take apprentices.” Eloise scoffed, “Really, did you ever read Circles of Thedas: a History?”
“I did, but I've never seen the Circle of Jainen mentioned anywhere.” I objected, “Hadn't I taken a look at the Warden treaties I wouldn't even know it exists either, and there are Circles there that don't exist anymore, annulled or destroyed in the Blights.”
Eloise smirked: “Next time look at the sources.”
“The good news is that being small and isolated, and since we got a Templar and a Warden-Commander, there's not much risk of getting in trouble for apostasy.” I sighed looking at Jowan and Eloise. She looked as she was about to object, but I cut her off. “Eloise, you are an apostate now. Irving may manage the Circle on his own now, but the Circle still stands, and you haven't reported to the Tower since the Blight. Irving doesn't even know you're alive. But that’s our only option...”
“Unless you’re up for a trip to Kirkwall or Jader, that is.” Finn added sadly. “There was another possible contact south of the Hinterlands, bordering the Korcari Wilds, and one on the Frostback Mountains, but I couldn’t define a specific location, that’s the best I could do. Besides, the signal was so warped they were either damaged, corrupted or in the Deep Roads...”
Eloise rolled her eyes: “Whatever.” she grumbled, “I hope we can actually get there.”
I glanced at the group: “I have a copy of the treaties and we have Cullen. Jowan has laid low for six years, they probably wouldn't recognize him, and no one questions mages if a Warden and a Templar accompany them. We should move on, we could get a ship from Amaranthine but it's two days away...”
“Why not Denerim?” Cullen asked. I glared at him and he shifted his gaze to Jowan: “Oh. Right.”
“You’re leaving already?” Finn asked in a sad surprise.
“Yes... but I hope we can return for the wedding.”
“We-wedding? What wedding?” he blushed harder than I ever seen Cullen, and suddenly I understood why Eloise found it so funny.
“Oh, I see!” I kept teasing him, “You're afraid to ask for her hand because you're a shem, are you? Or do you believe mages should not be bonded by off-Tower morals? You're in for a bad surprise: most Dalish are pretty strict on premarital sex...” Finn's eyes widened in shock and the blush deepened to a shade of purple.
“Wait...” Cullen’s eyes widened when he realized what I was saying, “He’s dating a Dalish?”
“He’s got a girlfriend?” Jowan asked equally surprised?
“He’s heterosexual?” Eloise seemed the most shocked.
“That’s none of your business.” Finn stammered while trying to crawl inside his robe like a turtle.
“True.” I laughed patting his shoulder... then I couldn’t resist to a final gibe, “...but remember: elves are no longer immortal, don’t make her grow old waiting for you to grow a pair and propose to her.”
“Maker! You’re impossible!” he growled at me, while Ariane appeared behind him.
Oh, how I love a perfect timing!
“Zeryde tells me you’re leaving, Warden. If you need any help Velanna and I... Finn, what happened? You look... flushed. Are you feeling well?”
We all burst out laughing while Finn was stammering a lame excuse about exertion from the scrying ritual and other things. Ariane and Velanna probably didn’t catch the joke, but the latter had a smirk on her face when she approached me.
“As Ariane was saying, if you need any help in your mission...”
I shook my head: “Don’t worry about that, Velanna. The clan needs you two, it is better if you stay with them and keep your good work here rather than coming to a shem’s Circle... specially if all you know about it comes from Anders.” I chuckled.
She rose her brows surprised: “What, no burning woods, demon filled swamp or deep roads? That's almost easy compared to the standard location of your quests!” she jested. I laughed wholeheartedly.
“You forgot elven ruins and dragon's nests.” Ariane interjected, “Three of you are mages, if I’m reading the robes right, so it should be no problem.”
“Yes, and Cullen is a templar, no one will bother us.” I added patting over Cullen’s shoulder who rewarded me with an frown, “You may need all the spells, blades and Grey-Warden-sensing you can spare as long as you stay in this forest: those darkspawn are still there, and until I don’t track their origin, they’ll keep coming. They always do.”
“Commander...” Velanna started to say something, but she probably changed her mind. She just smiled and said “Thank you.”
Dareth shiral, Velanna... and good luck.”

As we were leaving the camp walking north, I couldn’t help to think how strangely things work sometimes: I left the keep to find an old friend and I’ve found five. It looked like the casual encounter with a friend brought another one back into my life along with them: I found Jowan and I met Cullen, I found Rory and I met Eloise, I found Ariane and Finn and there was Velanna...
I just couldn’t help wondering: With who will I find Morrigan?

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 5
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 fifth 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.
Like in the previous chapters, the changes here are mostly fixing a bit the character interaction, specially in the scenes in the Dalish Camp. Zeryde has been "downgraded" to First of the Keeper (my fault: I didn't notice on Ariane's gear the name of her Keeper before publishing those pages and I decided "Ok, let's say she's the new one" *yaoface*). I also tried to fix a bit the interactions with Gilmore and Cora Cousland, as well as cut some small things that made it to the final version but, when rereading the comic, I didn't like.
Also, yes: Jainen and not Aeonar. This is one of the major changes I decided to make in this comic: the Aeonar sequence has been completely rewritten and also one character has been cut. You'll see in the next chapter.
Finally, on a more personal note: this chapter introduces who is the most popular character in the whole story: ELOISE! Let me tell you, it was FUN to write her and her point of view on things, and I hope it would give to all her fas a new perspective on this much loved character. :)

Previous chapter:  In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 4
IV: Promises of Pride
Ewan
“I’m dead.” Wynne said, “And you almost were too. We had only this chance to talk, and I couldn’t miss it.”
I shook my head confused while I stood up. Wynne... dead? Why was her spirit lingering in the Fade? We already had our farewell when she left for Orlais a couple of months before, what could she have to tell me that was so important as to keep her from reaching the Maker’s side and basking in the light and peace she so strongly believed in?
“I’m glad to see you again, Wynne.” I told her with a smile, “Though I wish we could have met under different circumstances.”
She smiled kindly at me with a hint of laughter, and then I noticed a sparkling mass of wisps hovering just behind her. She noticed my frown and stood aside to let me have a better look. “Faith.” she explained, “My guardian spirit.”
“The one who saved you in the Tower?” I a

Next Chapter: In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 6
VI: Through the Mirror
Ewan
Valegathe is the second biggest island of the Waking Sea Bannorn. When the Tevinter Imperium ruled this land, this was the location some of the most important places for magic research.
Here stands one of the last Tevinter fortress that were preserved through the centuries that today hosts one of the less known Circle of Magi: Jainen. The architecture of the fortress is very similar to Ostagar: the architectural elements, the materials, the decorations... the similarities end here, though: as Ostagar was abandoned and half-ruined even before the Darkspawn horde swarmed on it from the Korcari Wilds, Jainen is almost intact and well preserved.
The sight was impressive: walls dozens of feet tall, high towers whitewashed by the salty wind and large heavy doors to block the way in... and this was one of the few Circles in which it was more important than blocking the way out. I didn't have to look around to know my companions w


Special thanks to Wirls and Rowlina for proof reading and editing.
Cover image by SoniaCarreras
---
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 official 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.
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 hadcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As the story is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.
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IV: Promises of Pride

Ewan
“I’m dead.” Wynne said, “And you almost were too. We had only this chance to talk, and I couldn’t miss it.”
I shook my head confused while I stood up. Wynne... dead? Why was her spirit lingering in the Fade? We already had our farewell when she left for Orlais a couple of months before, what could she have to tell me that was so important as to keep her from reaching the Maker’s side and basking in the light and peace she so strongly believed in?
“I’m glad to see you again, Wynne.” I told her with a smile, “Though I wish we could have met under different circumstances.”
She smiled kindly at me with a hint of laughter, and then I noticed a sparkling mass of wisps hovering just behind her. She noticed my frown and stood aside to let me have a better look. “Faith.” she explained, “My guardian spirit.”
“The one who saved you in the Tower?” I asked.
“Yes.” she answered me, “I owe it the last years of my life, and it knows you as much as I do...”
Like Anders, Wynne was... used to be sort of an abomination too, sustained by a Spirit of Faith that made her his vessel in order to save her life. Something was off though, but I had to admit I had never seen a Spirit of Faith, they were so rare no one had described them yet...
“I met one of its kin.” I told her while staring fascinated at the spirit, “A Spirit of Justice. He possessed the body of a dead Warden by accident and helped me fight the Mother. Perhaps you have met.”
She laughed, “Oh, I don’t think so, there are so many spirits here, one for each soul in the world, and about as many Islands... one for each dream of men.” she gestured at the void space, where I could see the symbols of intellect floating in the green-pink light.
“And how come I’m on the same Island as you are?” I asked, suspicious.
“I called you.” she said, “ I am always watching over you, Warden, and when I saw you fighting that dragon I knew I had to talk to you, tell you what I know... and warn you.”
“Dragon...” I repeated, “So it wasn’t an Archdemon.”
“Hardly. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it was. Not even the Architect can find one so quickly, there are deep roads to cross, rocks to dig, seals to break... Do you remember what Riordan told you? It’s not surprising it takes ages between each Blight, what is surprising is that they happen at all.”
“So... what was that beast?” I asked her.
“Just a high dragon, infected by the Blight.” she shrugged.
“Makes sense, just a beast that swallowed a genlock or two during her Rampage...” I mused, “Don’t you think I would have figured that out by myself? I mean, waking up would have been a huge hint that my soul wasn’t destroyed, wouldn’t it?”
“I didn’t bring you here to tell you this...” she frowned, “I’m concerned about you.” She sat on a rocky formation that looked like a bronto’s head and went in full grandma mode: “You keep saying you want to start a new life, but you keep holding onto the remainders of the old one, of your old self... You settled things with Jowan, now there’s nothing more to hold you back. Don’t waste what little time you have, your Calling can happen any moment, enjoy what’s left of your life... live. Go to Antiva. Zevran’s waiting for you. Your life is waiting for you! You ended the Blight, the Thaw is over, stop holding yourself back with duty and honor: it’s time you get a bit selfish. You earned that.”
I crossed my arms and stared at her in surprise: “What does this have to do with anything?” The Wynne I knew would have never said something like that, what was going on?
She smiled: “Since I died I realized I had regrets. I have spent my life helping others, I never did something for myself, and while this was... rewarding, I still regret not having taken care of myself more. I feel like I deserved that, and I’ve never come close to accomplishing what you did.” she smiled kindly, “I am just worried about my friend.”
I scoffed. “We’ve never been friends...” she widened her eyes in surprise, “...Flemeth.” I added.
“Fle...” she stuttered, and then she smiled and laughed. I recognized her laughter, I couldn’t forget it. “I see...” she slowly shifted into the woman I remembered, but slightly younger, her clothes more chasind in looks though different from Morrigan’s. I worried for a second in recognizing the outfit she had portrayed in her Black Book I had found in the Circle, the Robes of Possession she gifted to her daughters in order to take over their bodies. Did she find Morrigan? No, that couldn’t be, she was safe on the other side of the Eluvian...
“Always the clever one.” she purred with a smile that creeped me out, “What gave me away?”
“Oh, something here and there...” I shifted my stance ready to fight or flee, after all I had killed her once, or so I thought. When Morrigan found out the secret of her apparent immortality was hijacking the bodies of her daughters, she was clearly pissed off and, being the pragmatist girl she was, asked me to kill her in order to save herself. I thought that part worked out well until I met Morrigan again in the Dragonbone Wastes and she warned me to be ready for Flemeth. Apparently the Witch of the Wilds had other means to survive, and the Black Book’s rituals may even have been a setup... “Wynne and Faith being separate entities in the Fade, for starters: mage’s Fade bodies are merged with the Spirits possessing them, according to a friend of mine. Then there was knowledge Wynne couldn’t have, like the Architect and Riordan’s words at the eve of the battle of Denerim... and the dead don’t linger for too long in the Fade, at least according to Justice. But I suppose I could forgive you this last slip, you don’t look like someone who knows much about death... the real kind of death, I mean.”
“True enough.” she said dryly.
“So, do you care to answer my question then?” I glanced at the surroundings to see if there was a way out. Being trapped in the Fade was never a nice experience. I had to find a threshold, a fountain, a symbol that could lead me to the Waking World... “Why do you want me away from Ferelden? What’s your plan?”
“Plan?” she laughed, “I have no plans, Warden, none that involve you at least, and I couldn’t care less if you stayed in Ferelden or traveled across the whole of Thedas: you fulfilled your role by ending the Fifth Blight, what happens next in none of your concern. I’ll be on my way, and you’ll be on yours. No hard feelings.”
“No hard feelings? Not even for the fact that I... uhm... tried to kill you?”
She laughed louder: “You were just a means to an end. I was even expecting Morrigan to send you... and I had appearances to keep up, otherwise I wouldn’t even have fought you...”
I grimaced, not quite following her twisted logic. “...I sense a ‘but’ coming.”
But,” she nodded, “I  knew that if I didn’t warn you, you would have sought me out, eventually, and I don’t want you to mess up with my... other plans, not any more than you already have.”
“And what’s does that mean?”

Jowan
“What in the Fade are these things?” I whined. A large group of beasts that were something in between a gigantic spider and a crab had swarmed out of the forest and crawled down the brim of the ravine, surrounding us. The air was reverberating with hisses and liquid sounds, making my stomach churn. The stench was revolting.
“You tell me, I only work here!” Cullen replied, “But if I had to make a wild guess I’d say they’re darkspawn.”
“I’ve never seen darkspawn like these.” I replied. I had seen my share of darkspawn as well as several blighted beasts like Bereskarns and... “Corrupted beasts?” I offered.
“Could be. I’ve heard some areas in the Brecilian Forest have giant spiders in it... but how is it possible? This is not a Blight!”
“And the Thaw is over.” I recalled, “There haven’t been sightings of darkspawn on the surface in months, except for a few stragglers...”
“Blighted beasts are signs of a Blight...” Cullen looked at Ewan. I knew where he was headed, but we already ruled that possibility out.
“Cullen, that wasn’t an Archdemon. Archdemons don’t turn after they die.”
“You sure?” he made a half smile.
“Even if he were, Ewan is alive, and this means his soul hasn’t been destroyed by the Old God’s...” oh fuck, Ewan!
“If he’s really alive, why he didn’t wake yet?” Cullen groaned in frustration. “Did you heal him completely?”
“I should have.” the blighted-crab-spiders were coming too close for my taste, we had to do something. “Move him away from here; I’ll hold these creatures off.”
“Isn’t it dangerous?” he objected, “His spirit may be in the Fade, if I...”
“Maker’s holy pants!” I groaned, “Just get him out of here before he remains in the Fade!”
One of the spiders jumped on me and I released a shockwave of telekinetic energy pushing it away.
“Good point!” Cullen yelped rushing towards the Warden.

Ewan
A rush of nausea overcame me and I fell on the ground shaking. I noticed my sight was shifting out of focus again... no, it wasn’t: I could still see Flemeth in perfect clarity, it was my... my body was... blurring out. What in the name of Andraste was happening?
“Funny.” Flemeth looked intrigued, “This usually happens when a mage’s body is moved while their spirit is in the Fade. You’d better listen very carefully to what I’m saying, because I can’t let you wake until I’m done with you...”
“Spill it, then!” I wanted to shout but it came out as a whisper. I felt sick, wanting to puke... “What do you want from me? To avenge your death?”
Her humorless guffaw resounded once again: “Vengeance... such a lovely feeling... No, Warden, it is not vengeance I seek, but you’ve already spoiled my plans once, and I don’t want it to happen again.” I didn’t understand exactly what she meant... did she mean I killed her before she could take my son? Or did I allowed Morrigan to escape her grasp? “But you have proven yourself useful in the past.” she continued, “So let me give you a friendly bit of advice...”
“We’ve never been friends.”
“But we’ve never been enemies either, Warden.” she snarled irritated, “That’s exactly my point: I aqm always the villain, always the bad one... son when you will see... things...”
“What sort of things?” I groaned. “Seeing things happens often to non-blind people.”
This at least earned an amused smirk from her. “It doesn’t matter now, I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you... you will find out soon enough anyway, and when you do, you will look for me... wasting your time. I’m not directly involved, this time.”
“Involved in what?” I asked. I felt better, whoever was moving my body had settled it down somewhere, “And why do you care? Are you hiding something from me?”
“It doesn’t matter, Warden. And even if you can’t stop me, you could cause me problems... and I don’t want that.” she glared at me significantly. I got it, she was threatening me. Fair enough. “And as I don’t want you to waste the little time you have yet to live... I decided to meet you here and get right to the point.”
“And what point would that be?”
She grinned: “I’ll tell you what I would have told you had you sought me out and in the remote case you found me.”
“Which is?”
“That Morrigan was not the first.”

Cullen
I had moved Ewan away from the trees, but there wasn’t a safe place to leave him, so I decided to stay at his side and try to keep the spiders away from him.
“A little help here!” shouted Jowan. I turned and saw he was about to be overwhelmed by one of those spiders, as the others were rabidly frisking around him. I was sensing a great deal of magic around him, but it wasn’t coming from Jowan, it was...
“Duck!” I shouted and released an outburst of Cleansing power. A cloud of clear smoke surrounded us: a mystical fog of dispelled mana. I was right, those things, whatever they were, were magical.
“Cleansing? Really?” Jowan shouted while hopping towards me, healing a gash on his shoulder, probably a bite of the spider he had engaged.
“I sensed spells, mana... they were mages.”
“Shapeshifting darkspawn? That’s new!” he exclaimed. “You think the dragon was too?”
I shrugged: actually I didn’t think about it, but it would have made sense. The dragon had disappeared and we didn’t check what the corpse really was. “We’ll find out soon.”
A growl echoed in the mist, followed by another, then another and another. As the fog dissipated, we saw some figures emerging, humanoid silhouettes.
“You were right, they are...” Jowan started, but then we saw exactly what we were facing.
They were definitely darkspawn, but unlike any darkspawn I had seen, read or heard of. They were female in looks, and unlike any other darkspawn they had hair, long black hair tied in shapeless buns and ponytails. They shared many features with hurlocks: the size, the flat nose and withered lips that left their fang-like teeth exposed. Like many emissaries they were blindfolded, but unlike them they weren’t wearing a robe or a tunic, but a sort of uniform made up of a skirt of a leather-like material and a purple rag wrapping their rotten skin and their... six? No, eight breasts.
It was a revolting sight. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I groaned trying not to puke.
“What in the Maker’s holy pants are these things?” Jowan squeaked.

Ewan
“What do you mean? The first... what?”
Flemeth chuckled: “You will understand in time, Warden, but as I said I would tell you exactly what I had told you had you managed to track me down, nothing less, nothing more.”
I scoffed: “Of course, if you’d give me all the information I need that may taint your reputation.”
“Interesting choice of words, Warden.” she smiled wickedly. I rolled my eyes, I wasn’t going anywhere with this and I needed to wake up. I could feel in the back of my conscience something happening around my body: the flowing of magic, the vibration of violence, the stench of corruption... I had to get my ass out of there!
“Will you let me go now?” I asked her.
“That’s not my call, I’m afraid.” she said sitting again on the same rock formation as before.
“I’m not in the mood for playing games, Flemeth.” I growled. “There’s something going on out there...”
“More than you can possibly imagine, Warden.” she confirmed with a smile. “But as I said it’s not my call. I’m not the one who’s keeping you here.”
“What?”
“Oh, you are clever but... distracted. Have you already forgotten ‘Faith’? Wynne’s guardian spirit? I wasn’t alone with you here, I never was.” I gulped. If she was “Wynne”, then who was...
HELLO MAGE.
The deep voice reverberated through my very bones. I felt the presence behind me, a familiar presence, but not comfortable at all. Inebriating but frightening. I had felt like this once, it was...
“I’m sure you remember your old friend ‘Mouse’.” Flemeth said. She crossed her legs and glanced at us, as if expecting us to put on show for her entertainment.
“W-what? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I turned on the spot and I saw him. He wasn’t unlike any other Pride Demon I had seen afterward, but he was Mouse indeed. I didn’t know how I could recognize him, but I did. He was the first demon I met albeit not the first I recognized, and the first Pride Demon I had seen in the Fade. I had seen others: the Fade Beast, Uldred, the Baroness, but Mouse was still the most frightening I had encountered, maybe because he reminded me of my weakness, my vulnerability...
And because he was the only demon I outsmarted but never actually defeated.
“The Fade is too vast even for me.” Flemeth chuckled amused, “In order to find someone, to track down your Dream, I had to ask for help. You and Mouse are tied. I hope you don’t mind I... interfered.”
DID YOU MISS ME, MAGE? The demon asked. I HAVE TOLD YOU: TRUE TESTS NEVER END.
That didn’t make sense. Tied to me? “How’s that possible? He’s the demon that lured me through my Harrowing and I’m aware Pride is my weakness, but... How are we tied exactly?”
“Ah Child!” she laughed, “How little you know about spirits and the Harrowing...”
“And how do you?” I countered, “You’re not even a Circle Mage.”
She shook her head smiling, as she was finding the situation both funny and uninteresting at the same time, then she started chanting her explanation with the same dry tone she had used when she had sent me to stop the Blight: “Have you ever wondered why a Harrowed mage can become an abomination at all? If the Harrowing is supposed to protect you from it, it really is an ineffective method.”
“That’s not it,” I quipped, “you just have to prove you can...”
“In fact,” she interrupted me as if I didn’t say anything, “a Circle mage can turn abomination even more easily than an apostate. The Harrowing is not only a test, it’s a ritual that bonds a mage to one and only one spirit. A spirit chose according to the mage’s weakness and virtues.: only that spirit will be able to possess you as long as you live, and only with your death it will be free to prey on others. The Harrowing’s true meaning is get to know that spirit. Why do you think you’re not allowed to talk about it? Because if you’d do, you would find out no mage has killed the demon who posed them the real threat. You can be possessed by other spirits, but only if you willingly allow them, as in doing so you would... repudiate your Harrowing demon to allow another you see more fitting to merge with your soul.”
I gulped: what she said made sense: I hadn’t fought Mouse. I just blew his cover and left, without a fight. Did the others have similar experiences in the Fade? Tricked and deceived by other demons who lead them on a wild goose chase to earn their trust before offering them a way out or asking for help themselves? I remembered someone in the tower had described my Harrowing as the “quickest and cleanest” in years... It was pretty easy to figure out Mouse’s game, but what perverse mind game did other demons play with mages so their Harrowing was longer and... messier than mine?
“This, however”, Flemeth continued, “makes it also easier for a demon to possess a mage in danger, despair or panic. That’s why Templars try to keep you safe behind the Circle walls and don’t allow you to leave: stress, depression and the dangers you can get exposed to in the outside world can turn you quite easily. And that’s also why it’s easier for a Circle Mage to dabble in blood magic: you already have your personal demon to turn to to learn and perform it...”
“I... I see.” I said not keeping my eyes from Mouse. Last time he let me go, the fact that I couldn’t wake now meant that this time it wouldn’t be that easy.
YOU HAVE INDEED BECOME A MASTER ENCHANTER WITH NO EQUALS, MAGE. IT WAS WORTH MY WAITING... he said.
Why do I always hate when I’m right?

Jowan
The... hurlocks? Emissaries? Whatever darkspawn they were, they were coming at us, slowly and menacingly. I tried to remember a protection spell, but my mind went blank: after years of practicing only healing magic, I remembered just a few spells out of those I learned in the Tower, mostly the ones I had used in the fight with the Archdemon... what were those spells again? The pain in my hand reminded me I had used blood magic, but now I couldn’t remember the words to cast a... what was that spell again? The one I used to escape the circle...
Crap. I was babbling and I wasn’t even talking!
I turned to Cullen: if they were spellcasters, he was our greatest asset here, but Cullen was staring at Ewan transfixed.
“This chill...” he murmured, “That can’t be...”
Ok, the Templar was gone. I had to think something fast, also because three of those darkspawn were charging me. I waved my staff chanting some words that randomly came to mind and a wave of entropic energy charged over the stone on the tip. I chanted again and released it just as the first of them was jumping at me, clawing at my throat. A silent explosion trembled through the clearing and the darkspawn froze. Oh, right, that was a mass paralysis spell!
“Cullen?” I called.
“That’s not possible, that’s...”
A roar had me turn towards him and I saw another darkspawn, one that wasn’t affected by my spell, jumping at him from behind as he was slowly backing off Ewan’s prone body. A fiery ball was concentrated in her hand and she was about to strike Cullen when I hit her in the head with a Stonefist.
The black blood of the darkspawn splattered over both of us. I hoped that wouldn’t infect us with the Blight. Cullen turned, surprised, as if he was just waking up from a dream and looked at me and the darkspawn in confusion.
“That’s a Pride Demon!” he said.
“Funny, it looks like a darkspawn to me.” I countered. “Look, I don’t know if you have a death wish or if you’re still on whatever substance you were before, but I need you to focus on the present situation!” I turned to the paralyzed darkspawn: “I don’t know how long the spell will hold them. We need to fight them together if we want to survive.”
A look of determination flashed in Cullen’s eyes: “The Veil is thin here, can’t you feel it?” he asked.
My brows shot up: “No? I don’t sense anything like it.”
“Well, I do... and if you don’t that means only one thing...”
“Can you at least pretend to give a shit about what I’m saying?” I cried in frustration, “I can’t use blood magic again, I’m too weak and...”
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out.” he cut me short, “You fought during the Blight, didn’t you?”
“Sure.” I said. ‘But nothing like that’ I mentally added. After fleeing Redcliffe I just helped stragglers of refugees here and there, I fought blighted beasts, the occasional band of hurlocks, but these were the first emissaries I had seen. I wasn’t in the army, I was a fugitive in the Brecilian Forest!
“We need Ewan... We need the Warden.” he said kneeling beside my friend and started chanting something.
Just my luck, the darkspawn broke free of the spell in that moment.

Ewan
I felt my skin tingling as a familiar sensation started spreading from my right hand. I couldn’t recall where I had felt that, but I knew I needed more time.
“There’s one thing I don’t understand though, if that’s so easy why don’t you possess all the mages during their Harrowing then?” I asked. “Not that complaining, mind you...”
BECAUSE A MAGE THROUGH THEIR HARROWING IS WEAK AND INEXPERIENCED, Mouse explained, YOU DID NOT HAVE THE MEANS TO UNLOCK YOUR TRUE POWER THEN, NOW YOU HAVE. NOW YOU ARE WORTHY TO POSSESS.
“Right, I forgot you are a Pride demon...” I laughed, “But now I can fight back better. I have already slain demons of your kind. Uldred, or whoever was in his body, the Baroness of the Black Marsh...” Crap, I had forgotten the names of the other. A smell hit my nose, I knew that smell. It smelled of soil, moss and pure unwashed man: not a pleasant one, but it was welcome. An anchor to reality that reminded me of where I had already felt that tingling: during my Harrowing. Cullen.
“Careful, Warden.” Flemeth uttered in her uninterested tone, “Bragging in front of a Pride demon who wants to possess you it’s not the smartest thing to do.”
I shrugged, “I’m not bragging, I’m just stating the facts.”
“You think you could scare it?” she chuckled.
“Nah... After killing five of them I know better than that.”
“Five?” Flemeth cackled, “Impressive.”
Mouse interrupted our banter: I CALL YOUR BLUFF MAGE. YOU ARE DOWNPLAYING IT, BUT I CAN SENSE FEAR IN YOU.
“Of course I’m afraid.” I replied readying my sword, “I am always afraid before a battle. I was afraid during my Harrowing, I was afraid when I killed the Archdemon and I was afraid when I tracked the Mother in her lair...” Cullen’s... touch? Energy? Whatever it was, it was giving me confidence: I wasn’t alone in this fight. “Fear is sometimes not a bad thing, it’s what keeps us aware... vigilant...” I could sense some kind of - magic? Power? - flowing from him to me, rhythmically, as a chant. “Those without fear are dead before they even start fighting.”
I HAVE NO FEAR.
“Then you are dead.”
HOW DARE YOU?
The chanting got stronger and stronger, reverberating through my body, I could even feel the words through my ethereal body: “Blessed are thou who exist in the sight of the Maker...”As a Mage I knew words have power, but I never thought the Chant of Light was... what? A spell? A litany? Whatever it was I could feel it was working, so I wouldn’t question it!
Mouse took a step forward and then stopped. WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHAT IS THIS?
“As I said,” I glided the edge of my dragonbone sword Vigilance over the blade of Starfang, “You were dead before you even started.”

Jowan
“Blessed are thou who exist in the sight of the Maker. Blessed are thou who stand before the corrupted and wicked and do not falter...”

Cullen kept chanting while holding Ewan’s hand, and apparently my job was to keep those emissaries away from him.
Yeah, he left me the easy job.
You fought darkspawn before...” I muttered as I pushed back one of those creatures, “You can bet your chainmail-skirted ass, useless bucket-head...”
Another emissary clawed at me and I froze her with Winter’s Grasp. The spell wasn’t powerful enough to freeze her, but it slowed her down, and I took the chance to hit her head with my staff as I was charging a Stonefist to throw at another approaching... hurlock? Were they even regular darkspawn? I heard darkspawn were all male in looks, and mostly genderless... whatever she was, probably a something-lock, I hit her with the spell full in the face, and she fell on the ground spitting her teeth. I was getting good at using rock magic.
Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him...” Cullen kept chanting. Oh, that’s fantastic: I am fighting whatever-lock emissaries and he wakes my friend spitting the best magephobic verses of the Chant of My Ass.
“When you’re done with your sermon..:” I started while slashing a Cone of Cold at the remaining darkspawn, but then I heard the following verses of the stanza and I shut up.
...So blessed be, thou who serve man with your magic. Thou are a peacekeeper, champion of the just, so Blessed be mage, may humanity find forgiveness though you and the Black City shall be cleansed from the hubris of man. I welcome you in the Maker’s light, the same light those who are accursed will flee. So let it be.
He turned to me and his face morphed into a mask of hate. He swung his arm at me aggressively, his eyes glowing of boiling power and a thunder echoed over my head. That’s it, I thought, He’s gonna kill me...
The Holy Smite landed a few feet behind me and I was catapulted forward by the impact, landing at Cullen’s feet. He was now standing, his sword ready to strike. I turned and saw a dead darkspawn where I stood a few seconds before, her body still smoking from the holy power that struck her down. Cullen moved to my side and struck his sword twice, killing the last of the creatures. I looked around and saw very few bodies compared to the numbers we saw at first: the others had probably retreated...
“What did you do?” I asked Cullen.
“I smote the one who was about to kill you and then killed the last one. You looked like you were in la-la-land, that’s not healthy in the middle of a fight...” he replied amused.
“That’s not what I meant, what did you do with Ewan?”
“Oh that?” he looked embarrassed, “Those were some dissonant verses of the Chant of Light, Canticle of Hessarian... they’re officially dissonant not because they’re considered spurious, but because they’re meant to be kept secret... for Templar ears only.” he added with a significant look.
I remembered the words: it looked like Andraste or someone was blessing a mage... yeah, definitely something the Chantry as I knew it wouldn’t endorse...

Ewan
The chant Cullen had cast kept reverberating through my skin, I took a step toward Mouse and his body started to... tremble. It was blurred and unfocused, just mine had been when they were moving my body.
IT CANNOT BE, WHAT IS HAPPENING? SOMEONE ELSE IS INTERFERING.
“I am not alone, Mouse. Just like during my Harrowing. There is a Templar with me, the same Templar that overlooked my Trial. They say a special bond is formed between a mage and the Templar who assists them in their Harrowing, and as you are tied to me, he is to you.”
I stopped a few feet from him and concentrated my will over the demon. I remembered what the Spirit of Valor had told me during my first time in the Fade: A weapon is a single need for battle, and my will makes that need reality. Will is power in the Fade, will makes things real. And my will was for the demon to disappear and leave me alone.
“As I was saying, I’ve learned a few things about Pride Demons: the best way to defeat them is seeking someone else’s help. Now begone!”
I swung my sword at him and his body crumbled in front of me, banished to another place. I didn’t kill him, I knew that, and I thought that I probably couldn’t even do so, but it felt good not to be in immediate danger anymore.
I felt Cullen leaving me, the battle outside probably still ongoing... I had to get back.
“Very, very impressive,” Flemeth observed, “you’ve come a long way since the last time we met.”
“The last time we met I killed you, if I recall.” I countered. She just cackled.
“All the same... it was a nice chance to find your bonded Templar so... available.”
I frowned: “Wait, how did you...?”
“I have met your cousin.” she continued ignoring my question, “A nice young man, if a little bit sassy... I like sassy. Said he ‘wanted to be a dragon’ when we first met in the Wilds south of Lothering.”
“You’ve been to Kirkwall?” my frown deepened. Did Flemeth have something to do with Cullen’s madness and his presence there? I didn’t like it.
“What if I was? What if I’m still there?” she whispered amused. I was starting to get annoyed by her attitude.
“That would be your business until it becomes mine. I have to go now.”
She waved her hand: “You are free to leave Warden. Unless you want to stay.”
“I think I’ll pass.”
“Ah, there are so many wonders... the thing we could do together...” she approached me swaying her hips. I admit her fade body was nothing one would expect out of a six-hundred-something abomination; still the only thing she managed to arouse was my goosebumps. “If only my body wouldn’t have been so old and withered when we met, I would have followed you myself.”
“It wouldn’t have been the same.” I deadpanned, “You are not Morrigan.”
“I could have been her. She is me, in a sense...” she ran her finger over my jaw and tugged at the edge of my breastplate, playing with the straps absentmindedly. Eeeew!
“You loved her, didn’t you?” she whispered, “It hurt when she ran with your boy?”
I put my hand on her shoulder and sighed: “Flemeth... I like men.”
That wasn’t true... well, not false either, but come on, what would you tell her? She looked at me surprised and then burst out an embarrassed laugh: “The father of my... grandchild a homosexual! The world is full of wonders indeed!”
“Yeah, go figure...” I muttered taking a step back away from her. Maker, I felt like I needed a bath!
“Remember what I said.” she stated turning serious abruptly, “Morrigan was not the first.”
“Yes, but the first to what?”
She grinned as the island started to shake. I knew the sensation, this wasn’t the usual way to wake up from the Fade, I was pulled back, just like the few times I was sent there unnaturally, in my Harrowing and in the Black Marsh. The pink-green light was dimming as I heard her final words.
The first to escape my grasp, of course.

Cullen
Jowan and I had managed to drive the darkspawn away, but I still felt uncomfortable: why hadn’t Ewan woken up yet? We needed him to identify those darkspawn: neither of us had extensive experience in the fields during the Blight.
Suddenly he opened his eyes and shot up sitting with a gasp.
“Welcome back!” I smiled at him.
“Ewan!” Jowan threw himself at him squeezing the still dazed warden. Yeah, there was definitely something between the two of them...
“What happened?” he asked.
“You killed that Archdemon and then he catapulted you against a tree as retaliation.” I explained.
“That wasn’t an Archdemon.” he tried to get on his feet still shaking.
“We figured that out, yes.” Jowan smiled as he gave up and returned to a sitting position to catch his breath. It must have been a strange trip in the Fade, Pride Demon or not.
“What the...” he muttered. I followed his gaze and saw that he had noticed the darkspawn.
“I was getting to that. Darkspawn. They attacked us as soon as you were knocked out.”
“Shapeshifters.” Jowan explained, “Just like the dragon. They crawled out of the woods in spider form, Cullen dispelled their magic and... well they became like this.”
“Emissaries?” Ewan stood up and took some steps to the closest one. His face was a mix of concern and disgust, as he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“I’m not sure.” Jowan answered, “They didn’t talk much or cast any spell, they just... shapeshift. You didn’t wake after I healed you so...”
“I was in the Fade.” he said dryly while still staring at the creatures, “With Flemeth.”
“The Mother of All Maleficar?” I blurted out.
“The Witch of the Wilds?” Jowan was slightly less surprised than me, “What did she want? Is it because you knocked her daughter up?”
He chuckled, “Flemeth and I have... history.” he explained, “She saved us, Alistair and I, in Ostagar, and she sent Morrigan with us to help fight the Blight. Every time we met she helped me... until I killed her - or so I thought.”
I was following to a point. That son of his will have many family issues when he grows up...
“What did she want now?” Jowan asked.
“To warn me. And now I see why.” he poked one of the darkspawn with his foot turning the creature’s head, examining it. “These darkspawn look female... four pair of breasts, like broodmothers, I’ve never seen such things in my life... but their clothes and the hair... they look like Morrigan.”
Gross! “You impregnated a woman that looked like this?” I pointed at the corpse.
“’Drastes, Cullen!” he grimaced, “I meant a hurlock version of her, I’m into kinky stuff but not that kinky!”
Both Jowan and I chuckled. “What do you think they are?”
“I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out. We have to hurry, we have to reach Gwaren. Jowan, you’ll take the first ship to Amaranthine and warn the other wardens. Cullen, you will return to Kirkwall...”
“Wait.” I interrupted him, “You’re not taking us with you?”
“I can’t ask you to do that. You’re not Wardens, it’s too dangerous...” he replied but I cut in again.
“We’re offering. Jowan’s a blood mage, and unless you don’t conscript him into the wardens, as I think you plan to do, it’s my duty to arrest him or kill him. And if I return to Kirkwall without an explanation, we’ll both be outlaws, because right now I’m a deserter.” he looked at me like I was crazy, “Ewan, we’re gonna help you. And then you’ll write a nice report I can show to Meredith to explain my absence and take the apostate to the Keep to make him a Warden.”
“I won’t let Jowan undergo the Joining!” he exclaimed.
“He doesn’t have to if you don’t give the order.” I pointed out. I know, I know, I was offering him a way out too easily, but Jowan had saved my life: blood mage or not, I owed him.
Ewan seemed to ponder my words for a minute then he turned and looked at us with a grave expression: “Are you both sure?”
Both Jowan and I nodded.

Ewan
I am Ewan Amell, mage of the Circle of Kinloch Hold, Grey Warden, Hero of Ferelden. My titles carry the burden to live up to people’s expectations: once a hero, you always have to be a hero.
Thing is, every task I accomplished, I had help. During the Blight I had my companions, and without them I wouldn’t have defeated the Archdemon, let alone survive the whole thing; during the siege of Amaranthine, I had my wardens fighting by my side... I owe my very life even to Flemeth: had she not been there the night of the battle of Ostagar, both Alistair and I would have died on the tower of Ishal.
Now I’m facing the unknown once again. This time I have by my side the friend of a lifetime who betrayed me and the only templar I really took time to know. It may sound like I’m in trouble, but I don’t think so: both are desperate for redemption and I consider both my friends, despite everything that may have transpired between us.
But I’m afraid. I trust them, but I don’t want to see them hurt because of me, they’re not soldiers or Wardens, they didn’t choose this life... but they choose to follow me.
Because I’m Ewan Amell, the Hero of Ferelden, their friend.
Maker, let me live up to their expectations!

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 4
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 Legends, The Stolen Throne, The Calling, The Silent Grove, The Last Court, The Masked Empire and The Last Flight.

Here is the fourth 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 didn't change much from the comic version, except that I expanded a bit Flemeth's explanation on the Harrowing. In fact, after Inquisition I thought of expanding that concept further by stating that the "Harrowing Demon" is in fact the Mage's own guide spirit, that turns into a demon when the mage loses their way, but the "corruption of spirits" is a concept that is not widely known, and though Flemeth might know it, I believe that stating it would have been a "wink" too much to the fan of the series. I dropped some hints about it in the next chapters: Mouse is also the Warden's WISDOM, and his guide spirit, but as Ewan sees it as his enemy he will always see it as a demon when confronted in the Fade...

Previous chapter:   In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 3
 III: An Archdemon Short of a Blight
Cullen
Before that day in Dragon’s Claw, I’d never thought I would have ended up like I did, traveling with a Grey Warden.
Ah, the Grey Wardens, the great heroes of the legends... and not the average Grey Warden, mind you, but the mighty Hero of Ferelden himself!
That's right, the Grey Warden who ended the Fifth Blight and lived to tell the tale, the filthy son of a bitch who vouched for the mages who needed to be Annulled for breaking all the Circle laws - how Greagoir allowed that is still a mystery to me, perhaps he was mind-controlled by blood magic...
I was traveling with him and his friend, the maleficar asshole who had already ruined my life before Uldred and - guess what - ran apostate with the help of said Hero of My Ass.
Maker, what was I doing?
Why hadn’t I killed them already?
Well, yes, there was the fact my powers weren’t at their best while theirs were. Ewan had taken my supply of lyrium and
 
Next Chapter: In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 5
V: Keepers of Secrets
Ewan
We reached the camp we were setting and gathered our gear and supplies: despite being already dark we needed to move our camp into an area that was more safe, more distant from those... “Morrilocks”. We didn’t get far when we heard someone approaching from the woods. We all readied our weapons when I heard a familiar voice calling out to us: “Who are you? Identify yourselves!”
“Grey Wardens.” I declared. I couldn’t quite place that voice until I spotted the man who had talked emerging from the shadows: there was only one man I knew with that shade of red in the hair and a Nevarran accent: “Rory? Is that you?”
Roland stopped and looked at me in disbelief: “Ewan? What are you doing here?”
“Maker’s blood, you scared us, I thought you were some kind of monstrous creature...” I walked to him and greeted him with a hug. I hadn’t seen him since Alista


Special thanks to Wirls and Rowlina for proof reading and editing.
Cover image by TheOneKnight
---
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 official 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.
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 hadcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As the story is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.
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TMM - Ser Kirk NPC Sheet by Abadir
TMM - Ser Kirk NPC Sheet
This character is intended as comic reliefTemplars are great professionists, he is an isolated case based on the fanon of the "Kirkwall Quality Templar". Use with caution and moderation in your quests.

Introduced in "Nug Day" quest (April 2015).

Knight Lieutenant Ser Kirk Wallace (also known as "The Wall" not for his amazing defensive skills but because he doesn't budge an inch from his ideas) is one of the reasons the templars of Kirkwall are considered useless morons.
Born in Wycome in the free marches, his family moved to the City of Chains when he was seven. His father was a merchant and his mother a pious woman who passed onto him her devotion and her stubborness, making him join the order at the age of 11. His enthusiasm made up for his lack of common sense and basic logic, and only because he proved himself to be a skilled and disciplined warrior he wasn't kicked out of training by his exasperated instructors.
At 17 he received his knighthood because his trainers couldn't stand him anymore.
He joined the Gallows' garrison but from day one it was clear he was a desperate case: he couldn't tell a mage from a tranquil and kept undertake unofficial investigations over people that were CLEARLY not mages. When Knight Commander Meredith Stannard took over in 9:21 Dragon she started trying everything in her power to get him transferred. She finally succeeded a couple of years later, shipping him to Denerim with great relief of everyone in Kirkwall.
Knight Commander Tavish still curses himself for having allowed the man to set foot in Ferelden. It was clear he wasn't fit for Circle duty, so he tried to keep him as a Chantry guard whenever he can, but the man has also free time... unfortunately.

The Mage's Collective says about him: "You have nothing to fear from him... unless you're NOT a mage."
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 III: An Archdemon Short of a Blight

Cullen
Before that day in Dragon’s Claw, I’d never thought I would have ended up like I did, traveling with a Grey Warden.
Ah, the Grey Wardens, the great heroes of the legends... and not the average Grey Warden, mind you, but the mighty Hero of Ferelden himself!
That's right, the Grey Warden who ended the Fifth Blight and lived to tell the tale, the filthy son of a bitch who vouched for the mages who needed to be Annulled for breaking all the Circle laws - how Greagoir allowed that is still a mystery to me, perhaps he was mind-controlled by blood magic...
I was traveling with him and his friend, the maleficar asshole who had already ruined my life before Uldred and - guess what - ran apostate with the help of said Hero of My Ass.
Maker, what was I doing?
Why hadn’t I killed them already?
Well, yes, there was the fact my powers weren’t at their best while theirs were. Ewan had taken my supply of lyrium and I was in full withdrawal. Even breathing hurt, but that didn’t stop me: I had to stay with them so I could have a shot once my power returned. Ewan said they would, even without lyrium, that it was just a matter of willpower... Maker, I hoped so: if there was anything I didn’t lack of was the will to kick their ass into the Fade and back. And then kill them.
“Are you feeling better today?” Maleficar asked.
“Yes, Maleficar.” I grumbled. Why are they so nice to me? Can’t they see I’m onto them?
“I noticed you’re not drooling anymore.” Jerk Warden quipped. Yeah, talk about nice.
“Why are you so mean to him?” Maleficar asked him.
“Why is he mean to you?” he replied. Why? What was I supposed to do, slit my wrists and frolic along with him under a rainbow made of blood?
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Right now, nowhere.” Ewan replied. “Not until you’re clear headed enough to think. You were under the influence of something, and we’re not going anywhere near populated areas until you clear it out of your system.”
I scoffed: clear headed? I could think straight, not that he knew anything about straight anyway, the little bitch. “Why are you persisting with me? You’re not my warden.”
He chuckled at my unintentional pun: “Well, because even if we’ve never been friends and I don’t like what you’ve become, you’re the templar who witnessed my Harrowing, that counts for something, does it?”
“Does it really?” I asked doubtfully.
“Well, you’re part of the Circle I remember and love.” he shrugged, “Not my favorite, but I don’t want to see you hurt yourself.”
“Ah right,” I scoffed, “You’d be upset if I did, maybe even more upset if you found out they changed the bedding in the apprentice’s quarters or moved the library up to the third floor.”
He made a mocked gasp: “Did they?” I just ignored him.
“Hey,” he playfully bumped a fist on my shoulder, “I’m not the one having trouble distinguishing the value of a human being from that of a piece of furniture.
I rolled my eyes and kept walking. Of course Maleficar had to put his two bits in it: “Come on, Ewan, Cullen is just...”
“Recovering from a psychosis? Possessed by a demon?”
I turned to them so fast to tell him off that I tripped over myself and landed with my butt in the dirt. Maleficar rushed to me but I slapped his hand away: the day I let him touch me I’ll cut the part off. Ewan was just laughing shamelessly.
“Why am I following you again?” I grunted as I got up.
“Because I don’t want a crazed armed templar roaming around Sighard’s bannorn.” Ewan replied. “Besides, seriously speaking, I’m not completely sure you weren’t under a demonic influence...”
“Of course...” I turned away cutting him off.
“Cullen, I’m serious. I have seen the effects of lyrium overdose: it turns people into blabbering fools, not killing machines.”
“And you think a demon possessed him?” Maleficar asked.
“He lives in Kirkwall, Jowan: the capital of blood magic in the Free Marches.”
“You have a point.” I admitted begrudgingly.
“I don’t know what caused it, but I can see you’re coming out of it...” Ewan shrugged, “Give it a few days and you’ll be able to think straight again. Then we could even identify the source of your... problem.”
“And then?” I asked.
“Well, then we could reach civilization and find a way to justify your desertion to Meredith.” Ouch. He was right, I did desert the Templar ranks by leaving my assignment... wait did I really leave it? Wasn’t I sent by the Knight-Commander? Or... damn, I couldn’t remember...
“...And I think I can fix things for you as well Jowan.” he continued. Of course he would, anything for his maleficar boyfriend, right? “It may take a little persuasion, but I guess I can talk Oswin into help us. If he and I vouch for you we could give you a clear slate...”
“Who’s Oswin?” I asked.
“Bann Sighrad’s son?” Maleficar suggested.
“Yup, him.” Ewan nodded. “I saved him from Arl Howe. Of course you should still avoid Circle Templars, especially the ones you know, but that’s better than nothing, right? Perhaps, you can go to Vigil’s Keep and work with the Wardens, I can write a recommendation for you...”
“You really believe you would convince him to help a blood mage?” he asked doubtfully.
“I can be pretty persuasive...” Ewan laughed, “And believe me, I certainly plan to leave the ‘blood magic’ part out of the conversation.”
“I could arrest you for so many things it wouldn’t matter if we were in Par Vollen.” I muttered.
“Was that a joke?” Ewan asked surprised, “He’s making progress...” he nudged Maleficar.

We camped that night in a small clearing in the forest. I sat a little apart from them, but the silence was driving me nuts.
“Do you really think I was under a demonic influence?” I finally asked Ewan.
“You tell me. You certainly did look the part. If you remember I have seen my share of possessed Templars: we didn’t have to fight only mages and demons in the tower.”
I sighed. “Right, I remember.” I wish I didn’t. Uldred’s uprising was still haunting my nightmares: the things I witnessed, the magic I endured, the tortures that were inflicted on me... I shook my head, I didn’t want to think about it.
“I sort of feel responsible for that.” he admitted, “Whoever did this to you, demon or blood mage or Maker knows what else, probably exploited the scars you still bear from that experience. Why else did you travel all the way here from Kirkwall? Something combined the two things you never managed to move on from - namely Eloise and the blood mages in Kinloch Hold - into a perfect target: Jowan...”
“Why would someone do that?” I asked. Nope, not buying it, try again Warden.
“I’m not even sure it was ‘someone’... have you ever seen a red lyrium idol? Perhaps you have one or confiscated it from a dwarf in Kirkwall...”
Red lyrium? Is that even a thing? “What does that have to do with anything?” I frowned.
“Well... I know the Champion of Kirkwall found one in the Deep Roads a few years ago, and it was stolen from him. The thief went crazy, obsessed, there was a kind of magic in that idol that drove him crazy, perhaps it was the same kind of magic that...”
“And how do you know that?” I asked.
“The Champion is my cousin...” he shrugged.
“...And you are so close he never mentioned your name and he was completely indifferent when I told him I knew you.” I laughed.
“No, we aren’t, I actually never met Aiden, but I do know Carver, his brother, who is - as you may know - a Grey Warden.”
“Right.” I groaned. “You know, I’m sick and tired of you, Warden. Of your hypocrisy, your pride!”
He blinked at me stunned: “What do you...” he started but I cut him off.
“Everybody thought once you passed your Harrowing you would have been trained to be the new First Enchanter, the youngest a Circle ever had. All the Enchanters, even Uldred, had you in great consideration; you were their pet, their star pupil! Maleficar here saw to that, but you still managed to land on your feet being conscripted, and now you are the Mighty Warden who saved us all from the evil Urthemiel and the Blight.”
“So? What does this have to do with anything?” he asked bewildered.
So even if you have been cuddled and encouraged, even if the people call you a hero and a savior, you’re not the savior of everyone and everything! No one asked you to do that, and certainly not me!” I was on a roll, I never felt such anger in my life, and I kept going: “But I’m not buying it: you do this because you like it. Not out of generosity, you like people worshiping you, calling you a hero, thanking you. You enjoy the attention, you enjoy being loved by everyone... you can count me out of the mass: start minding your own business for once, because I won’t thank you when this is over!”
I was panting by the end of my tirade. Maleficar was glancing from me to Ewan confused, but the Warden was just staring at me in silence.
“Are you done ranting?” he asked eventually.
“Maybe.” I admitted. The rage was gone now, I just felt... numb. Empty.
“Ok, first of all, you’re absolutely right: I do enjoy the attention, I like the rewards that come with my job even if it’s just gratitude or a pat on the back. But this doesn’t mean that everything I do I do it for the reward. I don’t give a flying shit about what you think of me, but I am a Grey Warden and I do serve this land and its people as a protector...”
“And what am I? Someone to protect or something you must defend others from?” I snarled.
“Right now, both. I want to believe you’re not completely yourself, and you didn’t mean to hurt innocent people, but until you realize what you’ve done and start to cooperate, you can bet your chainmail-skirted ass I’m going to keep an eye on you. Closely.
We held each other's gaze for a solid minute.
“This is totally payback for Anders, isn’t it?” I sighed eventually.
He snorted amused, “No... but now that you mention it, maybe a little.”
Smart ass.
“Soooo...” I stretched. “When can I have my sword back?”
“In your dreams.” He replied biting a chunk of died meat.
“Of course.” I muttered.

Three days later, I finally managed to shave myself. After I scratched my jaw raw from the itch, Jerk Warden agreed to lend me a razor, but kept a closer eye on me: he said I could feel a little paranoid because of the withdrawal... as if!
He probably wanted to lull me into a false sense of security to gut me in my sleep, and perform a dark blood magic ritual with my entrails, that’s the reason he kept me unarmed... or perhaps he intended to sell me to Tevinter slavers or to the Qunari... that's true: he had a Qunari friend! He was probably the one suggesting he ransack Kirkwall to promote his cousin’s rise to power as Champion... he says they weren’t close but that's what he says...
Paranoid. Me. HA!
After I finished, a green budgie flew around me a couple of times before landing on my hand. It never happened to me, a bird flying to me like that... it occurred to me that it must have been domesticated: budgies aren’t birds you can find in the Fereldan wilderness, the climate is too cold. Maybe he had escaped his cage, and now was flying north, towards a warmer sun and softer winds...
...Then the little fucker bit my thumb. I swore out loud.
“What now?” Jerk Warden asked. “Jumping at the sight of your shadow again?”
“That bloody budgie bit me!” I muttered sucking my offended finger. Bloody... what if... “Do you know anything about this, mind controlling maleficar?” I asked Maleficar.
Maleficar sighed: “I don’t control minds; I don’t know that kind of blood magic.”
What “kind” of blood magic? There’s only one kind of blood magic: the... uh... blood magic kind. Right?
Jerk Warden sighed: “I hope Anders will be gone before we arrive at Vigil’s Keep... I wouldn’t want Cullen to meet him of all people.”
“Anders? You mean Anders the Escapist? He’s a Warden now?” Maleficar asked surprised.
I was surprised too: “I thought the Pigeon left the Wardens.”
Both maleficarum stared at me: “The Pigeon?” Jowan asked.
I shrugged: “Yeah the Pigeon. That’s how we called him back at the tower. It started because Greagoir used to tell us rookies only pigeons were allowed to come and go as they pleased from the tower... but after Anders’ fourth successful escape attempt he stopped saying that. The nickname stuck, though, at least between us Templars.”
Ewan and Jowan blinked a couple of times then they burst out laughing. “I’ve never thought Templars had a sense of humor!” Jowan said.
“I traveled with one, Jowan...” Ewan quipped, “It gets worse by the joke.”
I wondered who he meant for a second then I remembered: “You mean King Alistair? Please! He’s a real templar as much as he tells real jokes. If you look for templar humor you must ask Carroll...”
“I’d rather not.” he shivered, “I didn’t realize you knew Alistair, though.”
I shrugged: “We met during our training; we’re about the same age. He got recruited before I took my vows, but we trained together for a couple of years.”
“It’s nice to see you finally opening up to us, Cullen.” Jowan said with a smile.
Crap.
“I’m not talking to you, Maleficar.” I growled.
That threw them into a new fit of laughter.

It was almost a week traveling together, and we were still camping in the forest. Ewan had decided to take a long route following the Southron River, probably intending to reach Gwaren: he didn’t share his intention if or not he meant to have me in the forest as long as possible.
I did feel better. I had less scary dreams and I started to realize my head was... clearer. Emptier. Not that I felt stupid or vague, it was a strange sensation, akin to the one you feel when you exit the barracks with half the garrison in it talking and chilling at the end of their shifts and you go out in the silence of the night in the Kirkwall docks. Not that there were people talking in my mind, but the sensation was almost the same and I felt like I was in a daze. I still had trouble falling asleep, but I often pretended to be, so as not to be involved in conversation.
Jowan and Ewan were talking by the fire, and I started realizing I longed for company, for a connection. Their friendly banter reminded me of older and better times, when I was with friends, both in Kinloch Hold and in the Gallows. I still bore the scars from my experience with Uldred, but I thought I overcame them before... before what? The thought hit me: I forgot why and how I left Kirkwall. What drove me to Dragon’s Claw? How did I track him down? Why did I start my hunt for Jowan in the first place? It was like I was obsessing over him, a thought that had spread through my waking and sleeping hours over the weeks, perhaps months, possibly years... I had to talk to them about this, maybe the three of us could figure out what has happened to me.
Oh Maker, me considering to seek the help of a Blood Mage? Meredith would throw a fit! But I wasn’t Meredith. I’ve known Jowan since we were in our teens and somehow I knew he was... accursed, maleficar, but still a good man somehow. It was my duty to bring him to justice, but the chantry didn’t specify “instantly”...
“So your lover is an Antivan Crow?” he was asking Ewan.
“Used to be. Now to be found in Antiva.” he sighed.
“Tell me about her. I see you’re missing her a great deal...”
He is an elf, a handsome and deadly elf.” Ewan replied with a hint of laughter in his voice. “We share a morbid sense of humor and a taste for wine and fine butts, but there’s more to it in our relationship. We met when he was hired by Loghain to kill me, he failed and I decided to spare his life in exchange for helping me with fighting the Blight and ending the Civil War. Kept his end of the deal and while we were at it we started... uh, getting to know each other better.”
Jowan held his breath in surprise for a minute before whispering: “He?
“Yes, Jowan. He. Zevran is a man.”
“Oh.” I could feel Jowan blushing even if I wasn’t looking at them. “I didn’t know you were... I mean, attracted by other men.”
He didn’t? Andraste’s crown, in what tower was he living before running apostate? Everybody knew that Ewan was sailing both sides of the Waking Sea! For a time he even hit shamelessly on the Knight-Commander - which could have been his father, I might add - making him the joke of the whole tower in his unsuccessful attempts to make the young apprentice desist... He ended up asking for Amell’s transfer to Dairsmuid, but... well, they they took away the wrong Amell. I believe Aed still curses his brother’s name on daily basis.
“I never made it a mystery I speak King’s Tongue in bed, Jowan!” Ewan laughed, “But I guess if it’s not spelled in glowing runes it’s hard to get it for you, isn’t it?”
Jowan grunted. “I'm not that blind, Ewan, I was there during the whole Gregoir incident, but I thought you were just making fun of him... and except for him you've never show interest in other men... not that I noticed. It’s weird.”
“What’s weird about that?”
“It’s weird that I didn’t know. I mean, we spent years together, being friends and all... I may not have noticed you ogling at the guys -if you ever did- but we did talk about sex and the girls we liked, and you never mentioned...”
“Blood magic.” Ewan quipped.
“...Rrrright.” Jowan admitted embarrassed. I shifted slightly, still pretending to be asleep to look at them: I wanted to see Jowan’s face, his expression had to be quite a sight. “So... After all you were serious with Gregoir...”
Ewan chuckled “I wouldn't have kicked him out of my bed... but, halas, nothing ever happened.” he added with a dramatic sigh. 
Jowan grimaced making Ewan's chuckle grow into a full laughter. "What about... others?" he asked after a minute.
“...Others?”
“Well, did you have male lovers? In the Tower? I’m curious now...”
Even in the dim light I could see Ewan frown. His face immediately shifted into a sad, melancholic look and he sighed with resignation. “Well... yes.”
“Really? Who?” Jowan asked merrily.
Ewan sighed theatrically. “After all these years I’d have thought I’d got over it...” Oh, this has to be good!
“Over what?”
“Well, I suppose you don’t remember that time when we found senior Sweeney’s secret ale stash...” Oh, I so knew he was more of a drunk than senile!
“Er... no?”
Ewan nodded and smiled sadly: “I thought you were pretending not to, that you were trying to deny what happened, but now I see you really were...”
Jowan frowned: “Can you please explain me what are you talking about? What does this have to do with anything?”
Ewan shrugged: “Nothing... it wouldn’t have changed anything anyway, would it?”
“Change what?” Jowan groaned in frustration, “Why do you have to be such a tease? Spill it!”
“Don’t you remember that night in the library at all?”
“Oh, for Andraste’s sake, what night? What happened?”
Ewan stared into the fire before croaking: “You and I... we made love Jowan.”
OH I KNEW IT!
“We WHAT?” Jowan yelled in surprise.
Ewan nodded: “You were my first... and you told me I was yours. Oh, we were young and drunk, but I’ve always remembered and cherished that moment. It is a wonder no one found us, behind the shelves of the library, we certainly weren’t trying to be quiet. I still remember your moans, the taste of your skin...”
Jowan looked petrified as Ewan was going in recalling the details of their night, his jaw closer to the ground with every passing second. “Only you and I... a perfect moment in time. You were my best friend, my mentor, my brother... and yet you were more, you were my only love. And when I told you that I loved you, that I would always would, you spoke those words back to me. I was in the Golden City. I knew I was yours but I couldn’t believe you were mine too...”
Oh, the look on Jowan’s face!
“But the next morning...” Ewan continued, “When I came to talk to you about what had happened, you didn’t remember anything, claiming you had a headache. My heart was broken. I thought you were lying because you couldn’t face me in the morning... so I let it go. I understood we would never be together.”
Jowan looked... well, I couldn’t tell if he was sick, embarrassed or both, but his face was a mask of horrified pain and shock. “Y-you... I-I... We...”
“I thought after all this time I had gotten over it, but...” Ewan sighed on the verge of tears, his voice trembling... then he glanced at Jowan and tried to stifle a laugh. He failed, and in a second he was rolling on the ground laughing his head off. “OH MAKER! You should see your face, I can’t believe you bought it!”
What? Son of a Mabari, I bought it too!
“WHAT?” Jowan yelled, “It wasn’t... you son of a...”
That did it, I started giggling and they must have heard me since they stopped talking and looked at me. I cleared my throat and turned towards the woods, embarrassed at being caught eavesdropping.
“So...” Ewan whispered loudly, “Sir Templar is always on duty, watching over mages even outside the Tower...”
“Yes, we must be careful...” Jowan whispered back, “He may overhear our secret plan to overthrow the Chantry and conquer the world...”
“Hey!” I said out loud turning in mock indignation, “It’s not overhearing if you’re shouting in my ear. I was trying to sleep here!”
“Sorry Cullen!” Ewan laughed, “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“I know” I smiled at him, “And you were good: I bought it myself. But then again, knowing you everyone in the Tower thought you two were lovers...”
Jowan stared at me like a rabbit caught in a Dragon’s throat, and that sent me and Ewan in a new fit of laughter. The blood mage scowled and killed the fire with an ice spell. “We’d better sleep now.” he grunted.
“I agree.” Ewan sighed, “You want to share my sack, lover?”
“You wish!” Jowan replied sticking out his tongue.
Both mages started setting their bedrolls and preparing for the night.
“It’s good you have each other.” I murmured. “My Templar friends...” my voice trailed off.
“What about them?” Ewan asked. I didn’t answer. What could I tell him? That all my friends in Kinloch Hold were dead? That in the Gallows I couldn’t have any real friend because of my position as second in command to Meredith? That people were too scared I could report them to the Knight-Commander to speak freely in front of me? That I couldn’t trust anyone because blood mages had infiltrated the Templar ranks with abominations in the past and I couldn’t be sure I could open up to anyone without compromising myself and jeopardizing anything the Order was doing?
“Nothing, never mind.” I told him, and turned again, staring in the night. I didn’t have friends like they were, I’ve never had actually. I have had companions, comrades, subordinates, but I’d never been so close to someone like they are, not since I left home... It occurred to me that I didn’t see my brother in years and I seldom write to my sisters.
I felt envious of their relationship... I felt alone.

I started opening up to them in the next two days, and I realized I stopped calling Jowan “maleficar” and consider them my enemies. Perhaps I was developing a Hossberg syndrome, who knows, but in truth I felt like I was getting out of something. Ewan was right, there was something I needed to get out of my system. They weren’t forcing me, though.
“I always wondered...” Jowan said. “Do templar make chastity vows like chanters and sisters?”
“Some.” I replied. “But it’s not mandatory. Actually they don’t let you unless you have at least one brother alive. Of course you can’t marry while you serve in a Circle, and you’re forbidden to have a relationship with a mage... It’s more about ethics, though, it’s not a dogma or anything. Actually even marrying another Templar is frowned upon: they say too much lyrium combined could result in magical offspring.”
“And that’s why I disagree with the Chantry more than I agree to it.” mentioned Ewan, “I don’t like a religion that tells me who to bed and marry.”
“The Chantry doesn’t...” Jowan objected.
“Lily.” Ewan replied.
“I hate you.”
I chuckled. “You two sound like an old married couple.”
“We did it just once in the library, we didn’t make it to the chapel.” Ewan laughed. Jowan just flipped him off.
“What made you decide to become a Templar?” He asked me eventually.
I shrugged: “I always wanted to be one, for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was the greatest service a man could offer to the Maker... Templars actually enforce the Maker’s law, instead of preaching it like chanters or priests do...”
“You mean by fighting the ‘mages who don’t serve man but try to rule over him’?” he asked. There wasn’t bitterness in his question, just genuine curiosity. I guessed he had seen how much magic can change men as much as I did.
“Well, at first I didn’t. I just cared about doing my duty; I didn’t have an opinion about magic... I even used to think some of the Chantry laws were too strict... then I saw - and suffered - the mischief of blood magic...”
Jowan scoffed. “And you decided the Chantry was too lenient on us?”
I grinned: “Jowan, you are a blood mage...”
“Well tell me something I don’t know.”
“...Though you’re not much of an evil being.” I admitted.
Both of them stopped and looked at me as if I had grown a second head.
“Wait, what did you just say?”
I chuckled: “As I said, I have seen the true power of blood magic, and frankly... you suck!”
Ewan burst out laughing while Jowan glared at me in outrage: “I did fry your ass, didn’t I?”
“Oh Jowan...” Ewan managed to sigh between the laughter, “I’m sure you could unleash insane horrors if you want to...”
Jowan glanced from me to him, then he threw his hands in the air and stomped away in mock indignation.
It felt good to throw some of the teasing back at them.
I still couldn’t believe what was happening to me: I hadn’t had lyrium in over a week, but I could feel my senses and my powers returning. The pain still came and went, but I found out I could cleanse a small area from spells even without consuming the Blue Dust - and I was threatened by Ewan for it, since I managed to do so when he was using his Combat Magic to carry a large part of our baggage. I could see things with more clarity, and the fact that I was overcoming my dependency on lyrium was making me wonder how many lies I had believed so far.
What Ewan had told me made sense and I was finding out it was true: the Chantry used the lyrium to control us: who would put himself willingly through the ordeal I was facing since the last week? The lyrium still called to me, but I felt stronger, and I didn’t want it... no, I did want it, what I didn’t want was to step back in the old habits: what if I could live without the constant need and craving for lyrium? What if I could be a better man - a better templar - without it? I had to try.
But what scared me the most was that I was starting to feel... affection for the two mages. Ewan and I weren’t friends back in the days, but we weren’t enemies either: we were acquaintances on a first-name basis (not that mages use their family name often, the few that have it), we talked sometimes, not much but regularly, and he even offered to be my first Harrowing, so I wouldn’t be the one overseeing Eloise’s.
Jowan, on the other hand, I always hated: I knew Eloise had a thing for him, and I disliked him on principle. When I learned he was dabbing in blood magic, I wanted to volunteer to be the one to execute him, and when he fled I often dreamed to be the one to find him and bring him to justice. Ewan was right, mine was an obsession, but I never really knew the guy. Now I was starting to consider him... a friend. I was seeing him as the good man he was, and sometimes I even forgot he was a blood mage. I didn’t know what I was expecting him to be like. I probably imagined blood mages were constantly plotting evil schemes, summoning abominations and communing with the Fade to find demons to build armies and unleash plagues and horrors on the land... Jowan was a normal person; a little awkward, easy to talk if not a little whiny when he was targeted by Ewan’s sharp tongue or my bitter remarks. And he was kind: he was more supportive than Ewan when it came to my situation and I believed his sincerity when he said he wanted to help.
Maker help me, Andraste forgive me! I was so confused... I had to get it out, to tell them, explain what I felt, what I had experienced... maybe Ewan was right, maybe I was under the influence of something...

That evening, when we stopped to camp, I decided it was time to breach the subject.
“The whispers are gone.” I said.
“What whispers?” Ewan asked alarmed.
“It was... there wasn’t really someone whispering in my head, but now I feel like I got out of a crowded room. I don’t remember when it started, I guess it was in Kirkwall, but maybe before that. I had nightmares for a year after what passed with Uldred, but it was getting better. I didn’t even have a setback when I found myself involved in a blood mage’s conspiracy that intended to infiltrate the order with abominations posing as templar recruits... Had that happened one year before I would have killed all the recruits with my own hands to prevent any further... corruption. Instead, I even allowed one of the young men who were kidnapped to take his place back in the barracks, albeit denying him full knighthood and putting him on probation.”
Ewan looked surprised: “That’s a lot of progress from attacking kids because they cut their fingers on your sword.”
I grimaced: “Ugh, Anders told you?”
Ewan nodded and motioned for me to go on. Jowan gulped, a little scared, but didn’t say anything.
“Well, I admit I was proud of myself... I was happy I was getting out of my funk, I was finally free from the nightmares and getting my life back on track... that lasted until the Qunari attack.”
Both Ewan and Jowan nodded. News of the Arishok uprising must have traveled across the Waking Sea.
“Things started to change from then: the nightmares returned, and I started to see potential dangers everywhere. It was like I was back in Uldred’s illusions, and Knight Commander Meredith’s missions didn’t help either: she sent me on many searches in this or that mage’s quarters to look for artifacts, proofs of blood magic rituals and studies over demons...”
“That’s just paranoia.” Ewan frowned. “Did she have any proof to begin with?”
“Just suspicions.” I admitted, “Thrask, one of the Knight-Lieutenants started suspecting she was slowly becoming insane, but I defended her, I thought... I thought she was right. She had to be right somehow...”
Jowan and Ewan exchanged a glance. Jowan shook his head: “This sound crazy. Yes, it could be something... or someone, was affecting you, and probably the same thing is affecting Meredith... but I doubt it’s a demon or a blood mage, you would have identified them if it was. I mean, your obsession was exactly that, I can’t believe a blood mage or an abomination fueled it.”
“Unless it wasn’t something with a conscience.” Ewan objected. “I keep thinking about the red lyrium idol Anders mentioned in his letters...”
I nodded: “You already mentioned it before, but I’ve never seen something like that in the Gallows. Lyrium is not uncommon in the underground of Kirkwall, thought I've never seen a red variety. If it was lyrium poisoning, the whole city should be affected by obsessions and paranoia.”
He glanced at me smirking: “Wouldn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes: “Well, there are a few people in the city that... well, take it too far.”
Ewan laughed: if Anders was really writing to him regularly he probably knew about what had transpired in Kirkwall in the last four years: conspiracies, plots, secret societies, prophecies of apocalyptic disasters... The Qunari uprising and the demise of Viscount Dumar were just the tip of the iceberg: the Viscount’s son Seamus, for one, was killed by a chantry sister because he had talked about joining the Qun...
Jowan, however, missed the joke: “I don’t understand, what’s life in Kirkwall like? Every time you speak of the place you always associate it with such a doom you make it sound like the Blight was a walk in the park.”
“Well,” Ewan chuckled, “Let’s say Cullen would qualify as sane in that city.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” I grumbled, “Weren’t you born there, by the way?”
“There is a reason mother and grandfather insisted I was shipped to Kinloch Hold when they realized I was a mage!”
We all laughed. The conversation turned to a lighter tone from there, with friendly teasing and joyous roughhousing between the two mages. I was filled with melancholy at the sight: I remembered I had seen them this way many times during the years, and I couldn’t help but feel a stab of jealousy. I was jealous of their relationship, of their shared history, of the fact that they were grown up men scarred by life and the horrors they had witnessed or caused - just like me - but they still could act like teenage boys.
I was always drawn to them, at first because they were Eloise’s best friends in the tower and I had a major crush on the petite elf, but now I realized I longed to be like them. I longed to be part of them, of their group. When Meredith promoted me to Knight Captain, she told me it was in part because I oversaw the Hero of Ferelden’s Harrowing: she said often a special bond is formed between a mage and the Templar that assists him in his Harrowing, because their spirit connects at some level in the Fade. She thought since Ewan became such a symbol to the people, I could be considered his Templar counterpart and be an inspiration to the Gallows’ knights.
Was it this what I was feeling? The ‘bond’ of the Harrowing? I realized I didn’t care. In little more than a week they had shown me more support and care than I had ever received since Gregoir was mentoring me, and even then we tried to keep a sort of professional distance between us. Despite that, I came to see my Knight Commander akin to a father figure...
Ewan froze in the middle of the playful wrestling he had engaged in with Jowan, his expression morphing into a mask of panicky terror. I shot up and knelt beside him as Jowan froze too noticing the apparent panic attack of his friend.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“Ewan, are you all right?” Jowan echoed.
Ewan was staring in the distance, his expression a mix of pain and disbelief. “This cannot be...” he murmured, “It doesn’t make sense, it’s impossible.”
“What?” I asked.
“I sense...” he gulped leaving the sentence unfinished as he stood up. He looked distracted, as if he was listening intently to something.
“No, no, no sensing, Warden...” Jowan whined, “This is not funny, really not funny...”
“What is it? Darkspawn?” I asked. My hand reached for the sword, before I realized it was still in their custody. I glanced around and retrieved it from Ewan’s backpack to which it was tied, along with my shield. Better be prepared: it wasn’t uncommon to encounter stragglers of the darkspawn horde, remainders of the dark army summoned by Urthemiel wandering in the southern wilderness, away from civilization... and we were south and isolated enough to qualify for such encounters.
“The Song.” Ewan murmured, “I’ve never heard it before, not even during the Blight... not even in the Dead Trenches where I saw him, not once when I dreamed of it...”
“What song?” Jowan asked.
Ewan took off running through the woods before Jowan could stop him: “Wait!” he yelled. The warden had already disappeared between the trees.

After a split second both Jowan and I started following him. We ran for a couple of hundred yards before we started to hear it too. It wasn’t a song, it was a muffled roaring. We sped up to catch up with Ewan who had finally stopped at the border of a large clearing. There was a large free space there, a large ravine with a small creek at the bottom, and on the bank of the creek there was a High Dragon. The beast didn’t act as if it had seen us, but we took a step back anyway as I readied my sword and Jowan his staff.
It was the first time I had seen such a beast, and I thought the same for Jowan, but I could tell there was something off with it... it was just wrong. Were dragons supposed to have as many teeth as that one had? Possibly, but sticking out in all directions? And the scales... some of them were sticking out of the body instead of making a uniform surface like all the reptiles I had seen. It looked sick, ill... corrupted.
Finally I understood what had Ewan so upset. But it was impossible, wasn’t it? I gulped remembering the Chant:

The Old Gods will call to you,
From their ancient prisons they will sing.
Dragons with wicked eyes and wicked hearts,
On blacken'd wings does deceit take flight,
The first of My children, lost to night...”

The dissonant verse of the Canticle of Silence 3:6. I had read it once, even if I wasn’t supposed to, and the verses kept haunting me even if I was supposed to forget them.
That creature was an Archdemon.
“That’s not possible.” Ewan hissed frantically, “There’s no way they found another so fast. Where are all the darkspawn then? He’s not even supposed to be here, there’s no Prison nearby, who woke him? How did he get to the surface so fast? No, this thing can’t be...”
He sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
“What is this creature?” Jowan whispered.
“I know what’s not.” Ewan looked closer to panic, “This is not an Archdemon. It can’t be, it simply can’t be, the darkspawn can’t have found one in so little time, it takes centuries of digging, even if they knew the...” his eyes widened and he slapped his forehead, “Dammit!” He fell on his knees and started sobbing, “Fucking bastard” he yelled, “you promised to end them, not starting another!” he slammed his fist on the ground, “I knew I should have killed you!”
Jowan and I grabbed him and dragged him back into the forest to avoid his little outburst from attracting the attention of the dragon. He struggled to get free of our grasp: “Let me go!” he growled, “I’m a fucking Grey Warden, I don’t need either of you babysitting me!”
“Ewan you’re being too loud, it’ll hear us!” Jowan whispered. “And you’re not making any sense either! I’m sure a fucking Grey Warden could understand what you’re saying, but we’re not!”
Ewan sighed and shook his head, glancing at the edge of the ravine. We could still hear the dragon growling behind it, and Ewan shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. If it was true that Grey Wardens sense the darkspawn, he had a Fade of a lot of sensing going on, and I couldn’t even start to imagine how the song sounded in his head. Was it anything like the whispers in mine, when I was in Kirkwall? Maker, I hope not!
“I... there is a darkspawn who who was looking for the Old Prisons.” he started explaining, “He’s an... aware darkspawn. Calls himself the Architect. I encountered him, he was experimenting with freeing the other darkspawn from the Song... the call of the Old Gods that drives the ‘Spawn to them.”
“The Old Prisons? You mean...” I gasped.
“The resting places of the Old Gods, yes.” he nodded. “I have learned about them recently myself: apparently the Wardens do know the locations of the Prisons but they can’t reach them. They tried during the Centuries, but never managed. All they can do is keep an eye on the sections of the Deep Roads where they are located and be ready if a Blight happens.”
I shuddered. I felt like he was revealing part of a secret I shouldn’t have known, and it was probably true.
“What do you mean by ‘aware’ darkspawn?” Jowan asked.
“A... darkspawn that still retains his consciousness. There are a few of them, I believe...” he gulped, “I believe he was one of the original darkspawn. One of the Magisters.”
Jowan and I glanced at each other worried. We were having far too many insights of the Grey Wardens’ secrets and I was coming to realize why they were secrets in the first place. Had we know all this...
I felt guilty for what I had thought about Ewan, he was carrying a far bigger burden that I was, being the commander of the Grey. In comparison, my role as second in command for the Gallows’ Templars looked like a walk in the park: at least the biggest secret I had to keep consisted of some dissonant verses of the Chant of Light...
“Enough of this.” Ewan growled, “I have to kill that thing. Archdemon or not, it’s too dangerous to risk it...”
“Of course we do.” I stated. He turned to me surprised and I wondered for a second if he had expected us to leave him to face the beast alone.
“That’s exactly what you don’t have to do, Cullen. If that thing is an Archdemon, only a Warden can truly kill him, if anyone else did it they would just make things worse...”
Jowan frowned: “What do you mean?”
Ewan sighed: “When an Archdemon is killed, his soul travels to the next blighted being to possess it. Darkspawn are soulless vessels, so the Archdemon can reincarnate, but Wardens are not. I bear the darkspawn taint: if the soul of the Archdemon finds my body, it would be destroyed, but I can’t predict what would happen if any of you two would deal the final blow. It may find another darkspawn or ghoul to possess, we can’t risk that. This is the reason the Grey Wardens were founded in the first place, during the first Blight: Dumat has been killed many times without stopping the Blight, only a Warden can truly end one without the Archdemon returning.”
“And... what happens to the Warden’s soul in this process?” I asked. There was only one possible answer, but the fact I was talking to Ewan excluded it...
“It... it is destroyed as well.” Ewan admitted.
“Wait a minute...” Jowan had come to the same conclusion I had, “You already killed one of them. How did you survive?”
Ewan lowered his gaze in shame: “I made a deal.”
Jowan and I glanced at each other. What kind of deal could possibly save his life? Had he really killed Urthemiel? Was the Archdemon still alive?
“The night before the battle” he explained, still unable to look us in the eye, “I performed a... ritual with my friend Morrigan. I got her pregnant, so the Old God’s soul traveled into her womb, possessing my child’s... body instead of mine. He bears a trace of the taint, but his soul wasn’t... formed yet. Morrigan assured me he’s fine and he wouldn’t become an Archdemon, he’d just... preserve the Old God’s soul into an untamed new vessel... my son.” He lifted his head, his eyes glistening from tears of shame: “That’s how I survived. The ‘Hero of Ferelden’ is just a fraud...”
Jowan shook his head: “Wait, what sort of ritual did you perform? I’ve never read anything like that except of an ancient elven legend, but even if that was true, that would be friggin’ ancient magic! How would your friend Morrigan know anything about it? It’s a knowledge lost centuries ago, we’re talking of Arlathan times here!”
“Morrigan is Flemeth’s daughter.” Ewan explained, “A centuries-old witch who’s beyond the abomination status: I had a glimpse at her Grimoire once and I can assure you I she had knowledge of spells I had only read about in the legends. I doubt there is something such a lost knowledge when she’s around...” he sighed, “But we’re wasting time here. I don’t know why that thing didn’t sense me yet, but I know I have to kill it before it starts to become a bigger problem...”
“I doubt it’s a real Archdemon.” I said, “During the last blight the sky turned dark and hordes of darkspawn swarmed from the deep roads... I see nothing like that here.”
“No, you’re right.” Ewan admitted, “But... you don’t hear it like I do, you can’t hear the Song. I can, and if I can, darkspawn can too. Whatever it is, it’s a force that can rally the darkspawn, and even if it won’t cause a Blight it can cause a lot of problems. And if it is indeed an Archdemon... I have no way out this time.”
A thought occurred to me: “You didn’t sense it before. Not until a couple of minutes ago.”
“No.” he admitted, “Perhaps he’s just awakened, perhaps he just surfaced and his call is too weak to be heard from underground, but...” he sighed, “Enough of this, we’re just wasting time. We’ll know soon enough if he’s the real thing or just a blighted high dragon.” He smiled sadly. “If... If he really is what I think he is, collect his blood after I kill him, and bring it to Vigil’s Keep, they’ll know what to do with it. And tell Nathaniel Howe what happened. He’s in charge now.” He turned to me: “I want to be buried in Ferelden. This is my home, even if the Wardens at Weissaupt have a tomb ready for me at Garahel’s side. Can you do that for me?”
I nodded once and he smiled warmly. Jowan tried to stop him, but he unsheathed his sword and shouted: “For the Grey Wardens!” before taking off towards the ravine.
The growl of the dragon echoed on the rocks the moment it spotted Ewan sliding town the brim. Jowan and I were paralyzed, unable to move.
“We have to help him.” Jowan whispered.
“Didn’t you hear him? We can’t kill it. If that thing is an Archdemon...”
“Then we’ll let Ewan deal it the final blow, but I won’t leave him fighting a potential Blight all alone, Cullen!” he hissed at me.
“What makes you think we can make a difference? At best it’s a high dragon, have you ever fought one?”
“No, have you?”
“Not even in my dreams.” I sighed. “I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
Jowan smiled: “Whatever it is, it has blood, I can fry it.”
“And I sense mana.” I admitted, “So I probably can smite it.”
We took off after Ewan and joined the ongoing fight.

Every child in Thedas dreams of becoming a Grey Warden when he grows up. It’s not a dream everyone’s willing to pursue, but at least once in your life one fantasizes about joining the order and becoming part of the glorious legends that surround them, fighting epic battles, being venerated as heroes that rain death from their winged steeds... when you discover the griffons have long been extinct, a part of your childhood ends. Life takes you elsewhere, you become a farmer, a merchant, a soldier - provided that you’re not a mage or your parents didn’t hand you over to the chantry, of course - but those dreams remain buried inside your soul and accompany you alongside all the other foolish fantasies you never confessed, even to your siblings...
Then, in your lifetime, you chance to cross the path of a Grey Warden.
It can be a chance meeting, due to events greater than you and your common life or perhaps a simple tick of destiny... or maybe someone you know gets recruited... and you discover the Grey Wardens are common peopleThey aren’t heroes larger than life; they’re just like anybody, insignificant even. Their status brings them honor and fame, they’re said to be only the best of us, but they’re still... insipid. Trivial. And you start wondering “Why?” “Why them, and not me?” “Are they really so special?” “What have they seen in them that they haven’t seen in me?”
Your childhood ended a long time ago, but you still feel betrayed: “Why did I ever want to be one of them?”
But then, you see them in action. You see them rise and fight. You know the legends aren’t true, but you understand why they were born.

When Jowan and I reached the bottom of the ravine, Ewan had already engaged the beast. It wasn’t moving, and the rocks on its feet made us understand why: he had cast a petrify spell and it was struggling to get free from it as Ewan was dancing around it slashing at the limbs of the creature. The spell wore off and Ewan jumped backwards to keep his distance from the wounded dragon. The beast screamed in pain as black ichor poured from the unfrozen wounds, and swayed slightly as it repositioned its weight on the offended claws. Jowan stopped behind me, his staff in his hands, and started chanting a spell. Had I been in another situation I would have wondered what kind of magic he intended to use and frowned upon his possible use of blood magic, but instead I found myself hoping he’d hit him as hard as he hit me back in Dragon’s Claw, whatever the power he was going to use. Fade, I wouldn’t have flinched had he turned abomination right in front of my eyes if he had hit that thing hard and fast.
I whispered the Holy Words myself and smote the dragon. The beast turned its head at me surprised, and I noticed the power was effective: the dragon looked dizzy, confused. Too bad it decided to fire blue flames in my direction.
A wave of telekinetic energy ran past me, shielding me from the fire burst. Vaporized red drops of blood had me turning: Jowan was shielding me with blood magic. I had seen the day!
I exploited the moment to move closer to the dragon, and Jowan covered me by casting a Stonefist at the creature. The creature seemed to react to my templar powers in a way similar to mages, so when I got close enough to flank him and I struck my sword slashing between its ribs, infusing some power to inhibit his use of mana... or whatever the energy was that fueled its magic.
I had lost sight of Ewan, then the Dragon turned and fired another burst of blue fire at him: he had moved behind the dragon, and he was now flipping himself between the jet of dark fire and the spiked tail that was swaying frantically around.
I stilled, speechless for a moment: I never thought he’d be capable of such acrobatics... did his Crow lover teach him that move? He was fighting like a bloody Archdemon himself, which was more than the instinct of a warrior, or the ability of a rogue, or the power of a mage. It was something beyond words: pure willpower and determination, the adamant resolution to accomplish his mission. For a second I felt like time stilled itself as he stopped just in front of the creature’s chest and concentrated before releasing an outburst of fire that had the creature recoil in pain.
These are the Grey Wardens I thought, as Ewan exploited the lowered guard of the dragon to run towards it, instruments of demons and the Maker, forces to reckon with. I felt lucky to witness this fight.
As Ewan climbed over the creature’s neck slashing and slicing chunks of rotten flesh from it, I came to understand. I had known their mission, I had witnessed their force, I even had a glimpse at their burned, but now I had understood the Grey Warden’s motto.

In war... victory.
In peace... vigilance...

Exploiting the momentum, Ewan had climbed on the creature’s neck and now was behind its head. He threw away the dragonbone-made sword and raised the glowing metal one with both hands before pushing it into the dragon’s skull with all the force he could. The Archdemon - or whatever it was - let out a strangled scream sputtering gallons of black ichor.

In death... sacrifice.

In a spasm of death, the beast’s neck snapped backwards, propelling Ewan like a trebuchet. His blood soaked hands slipped over the sword’s hilt and he was fired against a tree. He hit it hard with his back, and blood splattered all around, though neither Jowan nor I could tell if it was his or the dragon’s, probably a mix of both.
Inertia had him pressed against the tree trunk for a second, then both him and the Archdemon fell on the ground at the same time, both now a motionless mass of flesh covered in blood.
Jowan and I couldn’t move. Even if the beast wasn’t an Archdemon, the impact on the trunk had likely killed Ewan. What would happen now?
Jowan was the first to snap out of our funk: “Ewan!” he shouted and - always the healer - he ran towards his friend, his hands already glowing. I shook my head and reached them at a slower pace: there was no way the Warden had survived a hit like that, even with his armor.
I was at loss for words, seeing Jowan quietly sobbing over his dead friend, cradling his head on his knees and murmuring encouragements to wake up, say something, show any sign of life.
“Jowan, I...” I began, but I couldn’t actually say anything. How do you express your condolences to someone you tried to kill and you probably will have to arrest? With Ewan’s death, everything changed: I had no guarantee that the Wardens would have welcomed Jowan, or that I had still a place in the templars...
Magic.
It was a faint pulse, but clear enough to identify Ewan as the source. I had felt it before, the night he entered the Fade during his Harrowing.
“He’s alive.” I gasped.
“What?” Jowan’s head snapped up, his eyes moist with tears pleading me to tell him the truth.
“I can sense his magic, he’s still alive.”
“Then why doesn’t he wake up?” he asked rubbing away his tears and sniffing. “I healed him, why doesn’t he wake up?”
“He... I think he’s in the Fade” I said doubtfully.
“How can you tell?”
“I don’t know I just... feel it.”
A snap had us both turn alarmed. The bushes in the forest were shaking in the wind, and the Archdemon had disappeared.
“Where did it...” I started, but Jowan pointed a mass of limbs and rags on the ground.
“There!”
I frowned: had the “Archdemon” turned into something else after its death? How was it possible? But it was true: Starfang, Ewan’s Sword was still stuck into that creature’s body. I stood up to go examine it, but the bushes shook again and a noise between a hiss and a growl echoed in the clearing.
“Maker’s breath!” I whispered.
“Andraste’s shit!” Jowan rebutted.
It wasn’t the wind.

Ewan
I didn’t feel pain, and that was both good and bad. Oh, it had definitely hurt, a pain akin to the one I had felt on the top of Fort Drakon as the Archdemon’s soul ran through me before I felt it slip away and - I guess - enter Morrigan’s womb. The good news was the pain had subsided leaving me just dazed and numb. The bad news was that if I wasn’t feeling any pain I was probably dead.
I opened my eyes and I had trouble to focus: the light was different, abnormal, I couldn’t tell if I was seeing hues of green or pink...
Fuck. I knew where I was.
“Hello young man.” a familiar voice said. What was she doing here?
I lifted my head with a tremendous effort: “What? Where am I? Did I...?”
“...Kill it?” She completed. “Yes, you did. And you almost followed it.”
She was standing right before me, but I still couldn’t make any sense of her presence.
“Wynne?” I asked. “What are you doing here?”

In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 3
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 third 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 has been more consistently rewritten compared to the comic version, as it's narrated from Cullen's point of view: it gives a better explanation of his presence here during the timeline of DA2, as a side-effect of the Lyrium idol that is influencing Meredith's mind for well over a year by now, as well as the possibility to expand the trip from the "Crazy templar" to the "Warden Buddy" that for page-number limit seemed a bit rushed in the comic (also because in the original version I had to cut out some scenes and dialogues I have restored here).
I also managed to fix some poor choices and renditions, like the aimlessly wander (not really, but now Ewan explains his reasons) and the fight with the "Archdemon". And I also had better quotes from the Chant of Light to include.

Previous chapters:  In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 2


II. Blood and Bound

Jowan.
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
 
Next Chapter: In Peace Vigilance - Chapter 4
IV: Promises of Pride
Ewan
“I’m dead.” Wynne said, “And you almost were too. We had only this chance to talk, and I couldn’t miss it.”
I shook my head confused while I stood up. Wynne... dead? Why was her spirit lingering in the Fade? We already had our farewell when she left for Orlais a couple of months before, what could she have to tell me that was so important as to keep her from reaching the Maker’s side and basking in the light and peace she so strongly believed in?
“I’m glad to see you again, Wynne.” I told her with a smile, “Though I wish we could have met under different circumstances.”
She smiled kindly at me with a hint of laughter, and then I noticed a sparkling mass of wisps hovering just behind her. She noticed my frown and stood aside to let me have a better look. “Faith.” she explained, “My guardian spirit.”
“The one who saved you in the Tower?” I a


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 official 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.
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 hadcanons and even use them yourself, but take them as they are. As the story is based on how I played the game, it contains elements that come from popular mods such as Ser Gilmore Companion NPC.
No copyright infringement is intended and no money transaction are required to read this story, so don't bother me about it.
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:iconbairdduvessa:
bairdduvessa Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
happy birthday
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Happy Birthday :)
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LonewolfD Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
Happy Birthday to you.
Sit down, pour yourself a cup of your favorite drink, a slice of your favorite cake and have fun with what ever your plans of the day are
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Teal-Eri Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday! :airborne: :cake:
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patsedi Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
Happy Birthday! :)
I hope you are having a great day.
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Happy Birthday! :happy birthday: 
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vampirisa Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A proposito... auguri! :D Party Have your cake and eat it too
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Happy birthday :cake: :party:
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Thanks!
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DAI RISORGI :(
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