Ch. 1: Miranthous
I was born as a elven slave in Miranthous, in 9:05 Dragon during the month of Pluitanis, also known as Guardian in the Southern Andrastian calendar. Miranthous is the capital and largest city in not just the Imperium but also all of Thedas. It used to be the captain of the entirety of the world when the Imperium ruled everything, and has been around for over a thousand years. Miranthous is one of the busiest port cities in Thedas, with merchants coming in from all over the world. The city has stood the test of time, and survived many invasions from the prophetess Andraste, a darkspawn horde, an Exalted March from the South of Thedas and the Qunari. Not one of these groups was able to capture it.
The Forum is the center of the city and all the important buildings of the city radiate from this point. People have been meeting here since the founding of Miranthous. It is the place to do business, see friends, update yourself on the latest news and gossip of the day, and go to school if you were lucky enough to do so. The Imperial Highway starts here and extends all the way through Thedas. Though the Tevinter magisters are predominantly human, there is a large slave population of elves and humans brought in from all over Thedas. There is also a sizable Dwarven population due to them being one of the primary builders and merchants in the city.
The Forum is home to the Dwarven Ambassadoria, which was said to have been built for an ancient Dwarven king by Darinius, the first Archon and founder of the Imperium. The Grand Proving Arena is one of the main forms of entertainment for Tevinters, and is located right off the Forum. It was built by the dwarves, and is one of the oldest structures in Miranthous. Its terraced gardens on the exterior of the building can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the capital. This enormous amphitheater is home to gladiatorial combat between primarily slaves and some freedmen, wild animal fights, and epic sea battles.
The Argent Spire, the seat of the so-called “Black Divine” by the people of Southern Thedas, is the religious center of the Imperium. The split between the Northern and Southern Divines stem from about six hundred years ago when the Tevinters decided they would rather have their own Chantry and split from the main Andrastian Chantry, and appointed a mage as the Divine, who also happens to be an Enchanter in the Circle of Mages. The point of contention was their view towards mages, namely that the Northern Divine does not view mages as the spawn of all evil, like the Southern Andrastians. The best way to handle magic, according to the Tevinter Divine, was to allow mages to become part of the government and “serve the greater good.” The people value mages across all classes in Tevinter, and not just in the nobility. Unlike those heathens in the South, our Divine has always been male. There are some who still worship the Old Gods, but their temples are pretty well-hidden and it is not talked about in polite society.
The towers of the Circle of Magi, the second oldest buildings in the Imperium, can be seen across the entire city. It used to be a Temple dedicated to Razikale, an Old God from the early days of the Imperium, who endorsed the ancient magisters who attempted to breach the Golden City in the Fade. Their imposing structures dominate the landscape, which makes sense as it is the magisters who really rule the city. Blood magic is the element of power and it is used everywhere, though usually behind closed doors. If you want to gain and maintain power in the Imperium, you will have to use it. Magic is what holds the city together, literally, as it has had one thousand years to crumble. Because of the view of magic in the Imperium, the Circle of Magi in Minrathous has become a great center of learning and study.
Slavery is a big deal in the Tevinter Imperium, and has been pretty much since its inception. The Free Marches city of Kirkwall used to the the seat of the Slave Trade for the Imperium starting fifteen hundred years ago, until the slaves revolted nine hundred years ago, and the power was transferred to a Viscount who still rule the city today. Dwarves are rarely, if ever made slaves, probably because they have too much power and influence in the city as merchants and lyrium suppliers. Elven slaves have existed since their homeland was destroyed by the Imperium. As a result, the Tevinter slave owners look down on elven slaves in particular, calling us “rattus” and cowards. Slavery was briefly abolished by one of the early Archons, but with the possibility of losing millions of gold pieces, the practice was re-established and the Archon was assassinated.
As I said before, I had always been a slave. I was the eldest of two children, which included myself and my younger sister Varania, three years my junior. My parents were never allowed to marry and I never knew who my father was. Our mother was a talented seamstress and therefore in high demand in the households of the Tevinter merchants and businessmen. We had several owners by the time I was fifteen, so I spent a fair amount of time in the Slave Market in the Forum. While being show in a loincloth only, or less, to ensure our quality and having our teeth checked as though we were livestock, I can remember standing with my sister and mother the summer of my fifteenth year next to our current master’s stall along with two or three other of his slaves up for auction.
Our current owner was a wealthy clothing merchant whose shop was right off the Forum. Mother sewed most of clothing, along with about ten other elven women, while Varania was a household slave for the master’s personal home. I cleaned up the shop and delivered purchased clothing to various households around the city. I was put on the revolving block soon after we arrived at the Market with a tituli around my neck, displaying my strengths and weaknesses. I was just started my growth spurt and although elves are never very tall in stature, I was already showing signs that I would be taller than most of them. I, like my mother and sister, was olive skinned with black hair and mossy green eyes. My mother and sister were put in the iron cages behind me, though we were to be sold as a set.
We had not been standing there for an hour before a litter carried by four beautiful elven slave men arrived at our stall and I first caught my glimpse of the man who was to become our new master. I later learned that Danarius was one of the most powerful magisters in the Imperium, but he just looked like any other haughty noble used to getting exactly what he wanted. He was an older man in his mid-forties, with rough-hewn features as if carved from stone, blue eyes that had been washed out to grey, short grey hair and a trimmed grey beard. His clothing was richly decorated and handsomely made, in shades of black and dark blue as is the fashion. He was obviously very rich and powerful and used to getting his own way. Danarius was reclining and peeking through the curtains of his litter, absently staring at the merchandise. When his eyes alighted on me, however, his eyebrows raised. He beckoned to Almadrius, my owner, and pointed vaguely in my direction, asking how much he wanted. Almadrius was eager to make sale, especially to a magister of such renown, and only charged him three gold for my entire family. My mother, sister and I were chained together and brought over to him. Like dutiful little slaves, we all looked at the ground as we had been taught. You must never make eye contact with a master unless they request you to - I learned that early on, after several beatings from my first two masters.
“You will follow behind me and come straight to the front door of my house,” Danarius commanded in a firm voice, “And then my house steward will take you down the road to the slave baths where you will get cleaned up before you are presented to me properly.”
“Yes Master,” we reply immediately, eyes still affixed on the ground in front of us.