Anders quickly pulled on his trousers the moment the door shut behind the customer. He stepped through the curtains and found his watch dog at the back door of the room. Cullen turned his head briefly and motioned him closer. Through the crack they watched the hunters carry in a dark haired young man. From the brief glimpse Anders guessed him in his teens, much older than most of the mages hauled in.
“Go back,” Cullen said softly. “Verna booked you solid for two hours.”
“Again,” Anders whined.
“Go,” he said firmly.
Cullen shut the door and gripped his arm briefly. “Maybe he’ll volunteer and take some of the overload.”
He nodded and slipped back through the curtain. Anders pushed his trousers down and stepped out of them. Sprawled out on the bed he waited for the next customer and wondered about the boy the hunters had brought. Most mages were around five years old when the hunters turned up with them. He’d been fifteen, escaped from the Circle of Magi on Lake Calenhad. Anders couldn’t wait to see the boy and find out if he was actually an apostate.
As bad as this facility could be the Chantry sanctioned circles were much worse. The things the Templars got away with was bad enough most late comers like him were horrified. Mages that had been there so long they remembered nothing else didn’t understand why he insisted on leaving. The Circle mages were exploited in every manner conceivable. It was bad enough to be imprisoned and put to work with no reward but he drew the line at being forced to sleep with the Templars. The instant his voice cracked for the first time he found himself at the mercy of a high ranking Templar every night.
It took two escapes from the tower before the hunters found him before the Templars did. Life at Highever’s Academy for the Gifted was hard but much fairer than at the Circle. He was taught how to actually use his magic, how to read and write. After they discovered what you were good at they put you to work but unlike the Circle you received coin for your work. Of course nothing in Thedas seemed to be completely lawful and the job Anders found himself with proved it.
On the surface the facility was a combination of orphanage and school. There was a vast underground network however, both figuratively and literally. There were facilities like this one in every major city across Ferelden and likely the other countries as well. The underground halls of the Academy in Highever sprawled all over, connecting different businesses and services into a small empire that would make any king or queen jealous. There was a section that did nothing but forge documents, a store that dealt in nothing but stolen merchandise, a section that sold smuggled lyrium to desperate Templars various taverns and brothels and legal shops.
Anders worked in a brothel. It wasn’t a typical brothel though. The normal one was across town and employed workers that weren’t associated with the Academy. His brothel was on the edge of town, under an innocuous tavern. If you knew who to talk to and had an exorbitant amount of coin to ensure anonymity, you received fifteen minutes with a partner of the same sex.
Homosexual relationships were considered strange and deviant. It wasn’t outright forbidden but nobles caught would be facing ridicule for the rest of their natural lives. Despite the abusive way he’d been introduced to sex Anders found the act enjoyable when he wasn’t being forced. Given the nature of this particular job there weren’t a lot of adults willing to do it so the Academy turned to its students. This position was lucrative and that was enough for some to volunteer for it.
There was a catch however. Anders didn’t know if this was just the Highever clientele or if it was Ferelden in general but men liked their partners young and women like their partners mature. A girl who managed to get this job was set for a very long time. A boy was only acceptable until around the age of twenty or so depending on how young he looked. At the moment there weren’t a lot of students over fifteen but younger than twenty that were adventurous enough to bend over for the clients no matter how much coin you could make doing it.
Being overworked didn’t bother him that much. Two solid hours of sex was tiring however and it made studying for his classes difficult. His strengths were varied but it was his ability with healing magic that his instructors had focused on. It was apparently a very rare talent. Whether it was rare or not didn’t matter to him at all. He enjoyed their choice of focus and wanted to learn whatever else they could teach him.
Mages weren’t they only children brought here. Cullen was no older than he was, kidnapped from one of the Templar training facilities. It was just as likely the boy they’d brought in earlier wasn’t a mage at all. He could still work in this brothel however and Anders fervently hoped he would. Considering how old he was it was actually more likely that he wasn’t a mage. True apostates were rare. Either the Circle got you or the underground got you by any means necessary.
The door opened and he focused on his job. It wasn’t all that hard. Anders knew he was a toy to most of the men that paid for the service. He usually enjoyed himself and Cullen was just behind the curtain ready to step in if the customers got rough in any way. For the next hour and a half six men sated their dark desires with his body. Anders got off twice more and sat in a hot bath afterwards, relaxed but still eager to see the new student.
Wearing only his trousers, his skin pink from the hot water, Anders made his way back to his dorm room in the main building. He didn’t see the new boy that night or the next day. Classes and work took up his time and attention but the dark haired boy was never gone long from his thoughts. The third night he stepped into his room after work and found the second bed had finally been occupied.
The boy that had been brought in sat on the bed across the room. He looked up at Anders’ approach and his brown eyes grew wide at his meagre state of dress. The boy stood and ran a hand through his short black hair nervously. There was a faint shadow of facial hair down his cheeks and on his chin as well as a thin line on his upper lip. The clothes he wore were no different than the plain shirt and trousers every boy was given here but he filled them out better than most of the mages here.
“Hi,” the boy said uncertainly. “I’m Garrett Hawke. They… said you’d show me around.”
“Anders,” he replied cheerfully. “I’d love to…”
“That won’t be necessary young man,” a distinguished voice said from behind him. “Both of you will be accompanying me to the ship.”
The man had an olive complexion and was shorter than the both of them. It didn’t diminish the aura of authority that surrounded him however. He wore actual mages robes but not Ferelden styled mage robes. A staff poked up over his shoulder and a wisp floated around his head, lighting the room better than the lanterns did. Anders swallowed hard and snatched the shirt he’d left on the bed before his work shift.
“Which one is the potential healer?” the man asked as he stepped further into the room.
Anders swallowed hard and backed away from them. Garrett stepped in front of him a little with his fists clenched. Students disappeared from time to time but no one knew where too. He had a sinking feeling they were about to find out. An elf with interesting tattoos stepped around one side of the dark haired stranger and the Headmaster of the school stepped around the other. The elf was frowning as he leaned forward.
“The blonde,” the Headmaster said. “We appropriated him from the Templars that were chasing him a few years ago. The other boy has only been here a few days but our tests revealed he has more potential than most of the other students. He’s also well trained for a young apostate.”
“I am Lucian,” the man said after a slight nod. “Given time I’m sure you’ll find your new home more than satisfying. I cannot have you making a fuss on the way to the docks. You will behave or I will put you to sleep and Fenris here will carry you.”
“Where are we going?” Garrett asked.
“Minrathous,” Lucian said evenly. “Gather your belongings. We leave immediately.”
“I’m sure you’ll be satisfied Master Lucian,” the Headmaster said with a smirk aimed at them.
Lucian looked disgusted for a moment and dropped a coin purse into his outstretched hand. The Headmaster disappeared and Anders stared at the person who had apparently just bought him. Tevinter was supposedly run by mages. It was also supposedly rife with blood magic and slavery. Garrett looked ready to fight the both of them but Anders knew they’d never even make it out of the room.
“Come, come,” Lucian said impatiently. “I have men enough to carry the both of you if you’d like.”
“No,” Anders said quickly shaking his head. “We’ll come quietly. Won’t we Garrett.”
Garrett Hawke nodded after a minute of staring at Lucian and the elf, Fenris. He turned and his tough expression dropped into terror for a second before settling on defiant. Anders gripped his arm for a moment and gave him what he hoped was a reassuring look even though he was as terrified as his new best friend.