The journey back from Redcliffe is painfully uneventful. Jowan trudges through the Ferelden mud for what is perhaps his last time, his every step watched by the templars at his sides. Isolde's blood is still on his hands, Connor's fate still on his mind, and he wonders if things could've been different. Maybe if he'd somehow avoided Greagoir and Irving, if he'd used a different spell to save himself and Lily, if he'd never agreed to poison the Arl.
Maybe if the Warden had conscripted him, as well.
The endless chains of possibilities plague him, and Jowan wants to break away from the templars and scream, scream for all he's lost, scream for all he's about to lose. Often has he felt trapped as a mage, but rarely this helpless.
The Circle Tower reclaims him, its solid doors closing heavily behind him as he's escorted inside, forever blocking him from the rest of Thedas. Greagoir strides quickly toward him, his obvious anger barely contained. Jowan suspects that the Knight-Commander wants nothing more than to spit at him in disgust, or perhaps to behead him on the spot.
"The First Enchanter awaits you, maleficar," he snaps, the last word spoken with such hatred that Jowan finds himself shaking in fear. This man has the right - the Maker-given duty - to end his life, if he so chose. The decision has already been made, however, and Irving had the final say.
Jowan wishes he could simply be executed, instead.
Several other templars join them as he's led higher and higher through the tower, to rooms he's never seen before. It's a wonder that they've not blindfolded him, although such an action may be considered pointless, given his sentence. Another flight of stairs and another doorway, and they've reached their destination: a chamber much smaller than the one reserved for the Harrowing, from what he's heard. There's lyrium in storage, a chair, and nothing else beside an old mage holding a glow-lit candle.
"I am sorry to see you here, Jowan," Irving says, voice full of remorse. "One hoped you would have made wiser decisions, but little can be done now."
He so desperately wishes to fall to his knees, to beg for mercy, but the templars have grabbed hold of his arms and will not let him move. "First Enchanter, I-"
Irving shakes his head. "We cannot let you speak, my boy. That right was forfeit the moment you cast the first forbidden spell." Without any further explanation, Irving nods to the templars. Some of them force him into the chair, binding him to its sturdy frame; the rest construct anti-magic wards throughout the entirety of the tiny room. There are no windows, no light from that impossible existence to bring him hope.
He is beyond hope and beyond help.
The templars that are not restraining him approach with small blades in hand, wasting no time in shaving Jowan's hair down to almost nothing. He spots one to the side, holding red-shouldered, golden robes that are to be his. It's upon seeing this that Jowan starts to cry, quietly, chest trembling with labored breaths and half-choked sobs.
Irving retrieves a small tray of tools and stands before his apprentice, regret clear in his expression. Both of them know there is no other option anymore. The templars strap his head to the back of the chair and hold down his limbs, lest he struggle away from the procedure.
From the tray, the First Enchanter selects a thin, sharp metal rod and dusts the point of it in lyrium. A templar removes his gloves to pull Jowan's eyelids wide open, his eyes watering uncontrollably as he strains to blink. The back of his neck is tight with fear, apprehension, and guilt.
Irving carefully lines up the rod with the inner edge of the mage's eye socket, hesitates to be sure, and drives it in with a solid strike of a precision hammer. Jowan shrieks and wails and pleads for mercy, thrashing against the unfaltering grip of the templars, his efforts to summon magic useless against the power of the wards. Irving repeats the procedure to his other socket, the tip of the lyrium-coated instrument scraping his brain with a permanence and severity that has no equal in all the world.
When it's over - and it is, all too quickly - Jowan cannot summon the will to be angry anymore.
They dress him in the Tranquil robes and lead him back to the more frequented floors. Irving explains the situation to Owain, who nods in understanding before turning back to minding the Circle's supplies. Greagoir intercepts them and roughly takes hold of Jowan's arm, leading him down another flight of stairs to his fate.
"You want to get in here so badly, mage?" He scowls at Jowan's blank stare. "Then it's yours to guard for the rest of your damned life." He shuts Jowan in the phylactery chamber, locking it behind him, and storms back upstairs to return the second key to the First Enchanter. Jowan stands still for a moment, a flicker of recognition almost reaching him. It's as if he had something he wished to say, but can't quite remember what it was.
He decides it doesn't matter, and sets about organizing the shelves of blood-filled bottles.