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Tales From The Tower

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One sunny day, some of the Templars took pity on the cooped-up apprentices and allowed them outside to play in the sun. Anders, unlike many of his fellows, used the time to search the area for potential weak points and ways to escape. However, his search was interrupted by a commotion back near the tower. Curious, he crept closer to see what had the Templars causing such a ruckus. That was when he realised, it was snowing. One of the mages -Eve wasn’t it?- was sitting quietly, enjoying the sunshine in the company of a half the library’s fiction section. A cloud was hovering a few meters above her head, snow drifting down from it silently. Somehow, she had failed to notice this, still absorbed in her novel. At least until one of the Templars thought to stop gawking and do what Templars do best, throwing out his hand. Eve crumpled into a ball, gasping for breath and finally noticing the snow as one of the Templars took off his gauntlet and strode over to her.
“I didn’t mean to!” She shrieked, the Templar hauling her to her feet. He drew back his gauntlet, preparing to strike her, when a snowball smacked him on the side of his helmet. He swivelled, releasing Eve, who took the opportunity to scramble away. For a moment, nobody moved, then several other apprentices had the same idea and began to pelt the Templars with snowballs. Anders smirked, before joining in. There would be Hell to pay when the Templars restored order, but before that, he would enjoy the anarchy while it lasted.

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Night were one of the times when almost all the mages, even the loyalists, worked together towards a common goal: doing stuff without the Templars watching. The mage with the misfortune to have the bed closest to the door kept watch while couples… coupled, people softly talked, played cards, drew or read. Eve, with sheets strung around her bunk to give her some privacy, enjoyed some slightly raunchier novels Jowan had found for her behind volume 6 of ‘A Complete Catalogue of Wool’ with the aid of a small glowing sphere that she’d conjured that gave her just enough light to read by, without attracting undue attention. Just as she was nearing the end of the fifth chapter, she heard the soft cry of ‘Templars coming!’. Eve wordlessly extinguished the light and sprawled herself over the book like she’d fallen asleep while reading. She listened as the sound of clanking footsteps neared her bunk before closing her eyes and calming her breathing as the sheet was lifted up. She could feel the Templar’s eyes on her and she trued not to stiffen. For what must’ve been an eternity, Eve barely dared to breathe, until she felt the Templar adjust the blankets so they covered her better before dropping the sheet. When the coast was clear, Jowan poked his head over from the top bunk.
“I saw the Templar who checked on you. Knight Cullen. Name ring a bell?” He teased. Eve shrugged. She’d often noticed him watching her, but that was just what Templars do, right? Sighing and shaking his head, Jowan returned to writing his memoirs or something as Eve found her spot on the page and continued reading.

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Cullen quickly learnt two things at Kinloch Hold. The first was that people are very easily bored and the second was that bored people will do anything for entertainment. Clearly someone had noticed him watching Eve intently on more than one occasion, for one day he’d been assigned outside the library and Eve had walked out, arms so full of books she couldn’t see where she was going and had to rely on her two friends, Jowan and Steve Amell. Steve to carry the rest of her books and Jowan to stop her from crashing. Watching them, Cullen couldn’t help but feel jealous, despite the fact that Eve had repeatedly remarked on how they were like brothers to her. As they walked past him down the corridor, they ran into another group of mages, one of whom took the opportunity to shove Eve into Cullen, sending them both to the floor and scattering books everywhere. Steve reacted first, dropping the books in favour of grabbing the mage responsible by the collar with one hand and striking him with the other. Jowan was second, moving to defend his friend when another of the mages tried to join in the fight. Some other Templars rushed to break up the fight as Cullen got to his feet. He turned to help Eve only to find her trying to re-collect both the books she’d been carrying before and the ones Steve had dropped. He wordlessly knelt down to help, a blush spreading across his face.
“S-sorry about that .Do you need a hand with these?” He choked out, nodding at his pile of books.
“Um, sure, if you don’t mine. But you shouldn’t apologise, it isn’t your fault.” Eve assured him, “Sometimes people can just be mean.”
Cullen smiled as he helped her carry her books to her bunk before hurrying after the other Templars, who were in the process of dragging Steve, Jowan and the other mages to the Knight-Captain’s office. No doubt the man would want to hear his side of the story.

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One sunny morning, Isabel was watching a flock of birds from one of the Tower’s many windows when she leapt up from her chair and ran to the library, nearly tripping over her skirts in the process. Once she was there, she went in search of Eve. Eve spent all her free time in the library and knew it better than anyone, even the librarians themselves. She found her curled up in the corner, lost in a book. After dragging her away, Isabel told Eve her idea, causing Eve to shake her head.
“It’s impossible,” She insisted, “you can’t do it.”
But she told Isabel when to find the appropriate books.

A few days later she told Anders of her plan. After all, he wanted to escape this gilded cage as much as she did. However, instead of offering to help or asking to join her in her escape attempt, he too shook his head and advised against it.
“There’s a fine line between ‘risking but doable’ and ‘crazy’, and you left that line behind weeks ago.” He warned her.
Not that he told the Templars about her plot.

At last she was ready. She’d studied the books until she could barely keep her eyes open and she’d recited the incantation so many times she practically spoke them in her sleep. She only wished she had a chance to practise before her escape, but it was too risky. When none of the Templars were watching, Isabel leapt to her feet and used her staff to smash a window before jumping. Her fellow mages crowded around the window and watched her hurl the incantation to the wind. Then they watched her fall.

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Five-minute breaks between classes were surreal to Eve. Her fellow students seemed to act as if they had an hour, not five minutes. They played table-tennis, talked and one even painted. Eve remained at her desk, reading, while Steve wrote yet another speech about mage autonomy. After a few brief conversation attempts with them, Jowan had fallen silent and returned to his work. When Professor Newcomb returned, the conversation mostly fell silent, although Steve didn’t bother looking up. When Newcomb coughed, he didn’t respond.

“Amell.” She chided. Steve scowled, but dutifully put the parchment away and returned to the lesson.

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Eve sighed. Once again, she’d smudged her work while she was writing it. Thankfully, her sleeve was a dark blue, so no one ever noticed the stains. But, sadly, one of the teachers saw her writing with her left hand during class. He strode over, swatting the quill out of her hand before gesturing a Templar over.

“Sir, please.” Eve begged. The teacher sighed.

“My dear girl, you know the Maker frowns on those who use their left hand in dominance. We’ve tried correcting it using… softer methods, but since those have failed, I’m afraid this is the only way.”

Before anyone could object, the Templar grabbed Eve’s left arm and snapped it backwards, breaking it. Eve screamed and several of the mages, Steve and Jowan included, stood as if to help her. The teacher walked over to his desk, before pointing to Steve.

“You. Take her to the healers and give them this.” He ordered, handing Steve a note. It was a note ordering the healers to set her arm, but let it heal naturally. Steve glared at the teacher, before going to help Eve to her feet, biting back a few choices phrases as they left the classroom.

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There was an unspoken rule that if someone fell asleep during Master Mourn’s religious education class, it fell to the rest of the class to wake them up before the teacher noticed. This was a common occurrence, since Master Mourn had a very monotonous voice and the unfortunate tendency to repeat himself in a feeble attempt to try and prove his point. Near the back of the class, Jowan willed himself to stay awake as Steve scribbling something that, in all likelihood, had nothing to do with religious education while Eve read under her desk, having read about what they were learning. A soft thump near the back of the classroom drew Jowan’s attention. Another mage, Tiberius, had fallen asleep at his desk. While keeping an eye on Mourn, to ensure his back remained turned to the class, Jowan leant back and tapped Tiberius on the shoulder, waking him up after a few tries. Tiberius shot upright, glancing around, before spotting Jowan and mouthing a quick ‘Thank you’ at him. Then he turned his attention to the teacher and did his best not to look sheepish. Jowan smiled, leaning forward and taking some notes on Andraste’s death and subsequent ascension. 

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Valentine’s day had been nothing but long and disappointing for Eve. Both Jowan and Steve had been running around trying to confess their feelings to one another, and she had wisely chosen to stay out of it. With a cheesy romance novel tucked under her arm, she walked to her bunk and prepared to flop down on it. That was when she saw the flower. It was small, but Eve couldn’t help but smile. She pressed the flower between the back pages of her book, before slipping it under her pillow for safekeeping. It seems she had a secret admirer.