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New Beginnings

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A diary recovered from Kinloch Hold after it is abandoned during the Mage Rebellion. Some pages are burned, torn out, or simply illegible. A page in the front states it is property of Evelyn Leola Amell.

Date: 9:23 Dragon, 20th of Harvestmere

The Revered Mother suggested I write in this journal. Stuff about my feelings and all that. I don’t know what I’m feeling though! I guess I feel scared, and lonely, and mad upset about leaving. I miss Mother and Father and the rest of the family. I remember mother crying as the Templars took me away. How is this supposed to make me feel better? I just feel worse now. I’m going to go lay down. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try burning this book, that’ll show the Mother.

 

Date: 9:23 Dragon, 23rd of Harvestmere

So I didn’t burn the book. I did put it away though, hid it under my pillow. I feel a bit better today. I made two friends! One’s name is Anders, a bit older than me, and he’s said he escaped once. He got caught though, obviously. He’s snarky and makes dumb jokes. I like him. Then there’s Jowan, he’s about my age. He’s real nervous, all jittery and easily spooked. But he’s nice and calming. So I guess I have friends now. I still miss Mother.

 

Date: 9:23 Dragon, 1st of Firstfall, Satinalia

This was the first Satinalia I ever spent away from home. I thought I would be sad, but today was a blast! There was a HUGE feast, with a whole bunch of different dishes than I’m used to. They were all so good, except for the soup. It was grey and tasted like… stuff? I didn’t like it. Anders tried to escape, and I helped! He had this idea to send my parents a gift, but it would really just be him in a barrel wrapped in pretty paper. But the Templars found him before he even got outside- how were we supposed to know they’d unwrap it themselves?

 

Date: 9:26 Dragon, 13th of Cloudreach

Anders told me today he “seeing” one of the older mages. When I asked what he meant, I regretted asking. I properly shouldn’t write it down, if the Mother found this she’d have me and Anders switched. But it has made me think… Anders wouldn’t say who he was with, but he said it was a man. If a man and a man can do that together, can a woman and a woman do it? Cecilia two bunks down is pretty, I think. I don’t think I want to do that with her, but it makes me feel better that what I feel isn’t too weird.

 

Date: 9:26 Dragon, 16th of Cloudreach

Anders did it! He really did it! Today when the Templars had us outside for exercise, Anders suddenly bolted off to the dock and jumped off the end! The Templars tried to go after him, but after Carrol almost drowned thanks to his armor, they had to try and take it off first before jumping in. That gave Anders enough of a head start to make it to shore and run off into the woods! He’s free! I just hope it lasts for him.

 

Date: 9:26 Dragon, 23rd of Cloudreach

It didn’t last. The Templars tracked Anders down and brought him back in shackles. I tried to run over to help him but Jowan held me back. He said I’d just get in trouble too. Knight-Commander Gregoir wanted to make Anders Tranquil. When he said that, Ander’s mentor- Karl I think his name is- yelled at Gregoir. I still don’t understand what becoming Tranquil means, but I know Owain and the other Tranquil creep me out. I don’t want Anders to be like that. First Enchanter Irving stood up for Anders, thankfully, but he agreed to have Anders go through with his harrowing tomorrow. I’m scared for him. Cecilia did her Harrowing last week and failed. I don’t know what happened to her, she just disappeared. I don’t pray to the Maker and Andraste as much as I should, but I’ll pray tonight for Anders.

 

Date: 9:26 Dragon, 24th of Cloudreach

Anders passed! He made it through his Harrowing. He was grinning like a maniac and his bragging was insufferable, but I’m just happy he’s okay. He’ll be moving up to the mage quarters later, but Jowan and I are going to give him a little party before he leaves. Well, a get together with some sweet bread I managed to swipe from the kitchen. But it’s enough for him that we said we’ll miss him. I wonder when my Harrowing will be.

 

Date: 9:28 Dragon, 25th of Haring

Damn the Templars, damn Gregoir, damn the whole bloody circle! I don’t care if anyone finds this journal anymore. I hope they do, so they’ll know I hate them all! They caught Anders after another one of his escape attempts. This time he gave him a YEAR OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT THAT MEANS HE’S IN THE DUNGEONS FOR A YEAR

There is a line of scribbles below this, dark and sharp as if the writer had been stabbing the page with the ink quill.

When they said that, Jowan had to actually hold me back physically. I wanted to hurt Gregoir. I screamed things that made the Mother mad, but I didn’t care. You know what I remember most? Ander’s face as they took him away. He had cast one last smirk over his shoulder at me, but I could see it in his eyes: fear. Damn them all.

 

Date: 9:29 Dragon, 1st of Bloomingtide, Summerday

We got some new Templar recruits recently. One of them, I think his name is Cullen, he’s cute. Blonde locks and stubble just growing in. And hazel eyes I could lose myself in. But anyways he’s alright to look at, yeah. Couldn’t do anything with him anyway, he’s a Templar and I’m a mage. It could never work. But I keep catching him glancing at me. Today in the Summerday festivities I was dressed in a pretty white dress like all the other young girls and I caught Cullen’s eye. I’ve never seen a face go so red so quickly! And he was dressed in a fine white tunic and pants, I’ll admit my face heated when I wondered what he’d look like with just the tunic. Of course, the mood was ruined when the Mother started reciting the Chant and the lessons. Oh Maker, why must you get in the way of things?

 

Date: 9:29 Dragon, 31st of Haring

Anders was released today. I didn’t even get a chance to say hello or goodbye before he disappeared again. The Templars are baffled, but they’re sure they’ll find them. I hope they're wrong, for Anders’s sake. I’m not mad at them anymore, I think. I understand their purpose. I just wish we had a choice. I don’t mind the Circle much, I’ve come into my magic well because of it. But for people like Anders, who value freedom more than anything, this place is a prison. It shouldn’t be like that. I’ve also spoken some more with Cullen. He’s so shy and nervous around me, as if just talking to a mage is prohibited. I asked where he was from, about his family, and he asked me the same. I just like talking with him now. I think I like him. Oh sweet Andraste I’m in trouble.

 

Date: 9:30 Dragon, 24th of August

My Harrowing is tomorrow! I’m scared and nervous and excited all at once. I still don’t know what they do to test you, I mean there are rumors but one can never trust those, so I am a tad worried about that. But I am confident in myself and my skills and I just know I’ll pass. Jowan has been more worried than usual, he’s upset that I’m going through my Harrowing before him, even though he’s older, but I’m sure he’s just being paranoid. One thing has made me a tad scared though: I saw Cullen earlier and saw fear in his eyes. Why was he scared when he looked at me? It almost looked like pity.

 

Date: 9:30 Dragon, 26th of August

I never did get to write about what happened yesterday. Too much happened. I suppose I should sort it out here. I went to my Harrowing. They pitted me against a demon. An actual Maker-forsaken demon. No wonder Cullen was scared. Apparently, if I had failed and became an Abomination, he was to be the one to kill me. I was terrified, but I passed. When I woke up, Jowan congratulated me, but still seemed nervous. I found out why later. Apparently, the First Enchanter had agreed to make Jowan Tranquil. Something about him being too weak to resist temptation or some other nonsense. He and his lover, Sister Lily, asked me to help them retrieve Jowan’s phylactery and destroy it, so they could escape without fearing the Templars finding them. And damn me to the Void, but I did it. I helped him. I believed him when he said he wasn’t a blood mage. And what did he do when he was backed into a corner like the rat he is? He used his blood to attack the Knight-Commander and escape. And now Lily is gone off to Aeonar- Maker watch over her- and I’m to be made Tranquil after the others return from Ostagar. Damn you Jowan. This is all your fault.

 

Date: 9:31 Dragon, 5th of Wintermarch

Once again, the Mother suggested I write down my thoughts to soothe my soul. Oh Mother, essays of my writing couldn’t soothe my soul. I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose at the start of this nightmare. I didn’t know it, but the mages and Templars sent to Ostagar returned, or at least the ones who survived. What happened at Ostagar was a tragedy, Teyrn Loghain quit the field and left the Grey Wardens and King Maric to die, along with almost all of their army. Uldred attempted to have the Circle side with Loghain, spinning a tale of lies for them. But Wynne countered him, exposing Loghain and Uldred for the traitors they were. What happened next, no one could have seen coming. In a meeting of the Enchanters, Uldred and a number of other mages turned to blood magic and demon summoning to free themselves. It went about as well as you’d expect. Almost half of the Circle perished in the fight. I barely survived myself. Still locked in the dungeon, I had to fight off demons and abominations while trapped in my cell. But I did it, I survived. Barely; I would have died of starvation if I hadn’t started screaming bloody murder. Apparently, the Templars had assumed me dead. The Hero of Ferelden saved us. Who’d have thought a boy from the Alienage, a bastard prince, an assassin, and an apostate could clear out an entire tower of abominations and demons? Sounds like a bad joke. After it was all over and they were patching me up, I saw Cullen. I didn’t even recognize him at first. He used to be so kind and shy and good and now- he’s a shell of who he was. It’s as though someone poisoned him with hate and fear. When I ran up to him to hug him he drew his sword at me, shouting to stay away or else. I was confused at first. I asked him, “Cullen, it’s me. What’s wrong?”

And he said- no, he growled, “What’s wrong is you. You mages, sick and vile and evil. All of you.”

It hurt. A lot more than I want to admit. But I said to him, “Cullen, you can’t possibly mean that. What about… I thought we-”

He cut me off, though, to shout, “There is nothing between us, mage! An ill-advised infatuation of a foolish boy. I know better now, and pray the Maker will forgive my sin.”

A sin. He called our feelings a sin. Well that was just the rotten cherry on the pile of the shit sundae wasn’t it? I yelled at him, I don’t remember what. It dissolved into a screaming match before others came to separate us. We avoided each other after that. And then he left; went off to Kirkwall, city of Templars. And damn me, but I still

No. I won’t say that, I won’t even write that. It and he are best left forgotten. After the tragedy, we were recruited by the Hero of Ferelden to fight in the Blight. I went to Denerim, saw the Darkspawn horde. It wasn’t as terrifying as what I saw during those weeks I spent trapped, assailed by monsters both human and demon made. And now it’s over. The Blight is ended and the Circle is returning to an uneasy normal. It was decided I would not be made Tranquil, seeing as how they would need as many Enchanters as possible to rebuild. Yay. The future awaits us. Let’s see what it brings.

 

Date: Dragon 9:37, 28th of Drakonis

Well, I found out what happened to Anders. He blew up a fucking Chantry! Words cannot express the emotions I feel about him and that, so I won’t try to write them. I’m more concerned about the Templar’s response. Mad Meredith invoked the bloody Rite of Annulment on the entire Circle, even though a single apostate caused the explosion. Thousands were killed in the chaos, mages, templars, and civilians alike. Thankfully, the Champion stopped the Knight-Commander. Apparently, I’m related to him! I heard Cullen was It was a mess, all of it. And now the Templars here are cracking down more and more. I heard there will be almost half of the contingent at the Enchanter meeting tomorrow. Anders, you really have turned the world on its head.

 

Date: Dragon 9:37, 29th of Drakonis

Well, Irving has fan-fucking-tastic timing. He has named me his successor. I suppose I am a good candidate, smart, skilled, not ancient. But in all seriousness, I am honored. I hope I can do well in my position. I do feel as though he’s just passed me the burning tongs though. It will be difficult to lead us through this, but I will do it, I swear to the Maker, I will lead my people through the storm.

 

Date: Dragon 9:37, 8th of Solace

And so we remain tied to the Chantry. I was attempted to agree with the Libertarians, but Wynne’s speech moved me. So we will remain, for a time. I returned from the Conclave earlier today and I am glad to be home. There seems to be a tangible nervous energy in the air outside, but here at least, we are safe. But the Templars… their gaze is troubling to me. As though they looking at spirits and demons instead of men and women. I pray they do not soon treat us as they see us.

 

Date: Dragon 9:39, 2nd of Guardian

Maker help us all. They disbanded the college. The Divine was attacked. Seekers everywhere. The world is on the brink of chaos, I can sense it. And now this, a letter from Wynne, begging me to come to Val Royeaux. There is to be a conclave of First Enchanters to discuss the finding of a cure for Tranquility. I am shocked beyond belief that such a thing exists, as well as overjoyed. But more than anything, I am scared. I am scared for my Circle, my family, and all mages across Thedas. A reckoning is about to come. And I fear the world is not ready for what it will bring.

This is the end of the diary entries. After the conclave dissolved into war, the mages fled to Andoral’s Reach. Kinloch Hold now stands empty, with accounts such as this left to be forgotten.

Chapter Text

At this point in her life, Evelyn couldn’t tell if she was extremely lucky or flat out cursed. She had almost been made Tranquil, survived the demonic infestation of Kinloch Hold, lost dozens of friends in that fight and the Blight, been made the Enchanter of Kinloch Hold, and fought in the mage rebellion. At the end of the day, Evelyn supposed her life was simply eventful.

The mages had been recruited by the Inquisition to help seal the Breach, and after what had happened in Redcliffe, they were in no position to refuse. Not that any wanted to, of course. The chaos caused by the Breach hurt everyone. So the mages were moved to Haven, the village closest to the Temple of Sacred Ashes and the Breach, and the new home of the Inquisition.

After the Circles fell, all mages became apostates, so the titles of Enchanters technically meant nothing, but other mages still tended to look to Evelyn or one of the other First Enchanters for help. Or when they needed someone to complain to, it seemed. Evelyn was currently being assailed verbally by some mage from the Ghislain Circle, evident by his robes and the painfully Orleasian accent.

“And she told me to just deal with it! What are we supposed to do? There is no order, no respect-” The man complained, but was silenced when Evelyn rose her hand and said, “I’m sorry Enchanter Marnic, but I agree with the Seeker. We are allies of the Inquisition, but that does not mean we are due any special treatment. Try to make the best of the situation, as we all are.”

The mage huffed, but did not argue further, instead grumbling, “Fine. But you can’t tell me you don’t feel a tad concerned about the Inquisition’s people. I mean, their commander is a Templar, for Maker’s sake! The actual Knight-Captain from Kirkwall, no less!”

That got Evelyn’s attention, and she looked up from the robe she was mending to ask, “What did you say?”

“The Commander of the Inquisition is the Knight-Captain who worked under Mad Meredith.” Marnic responded with a smirk of satisfaction, glad he had seemingly gotten Evelyn’s interest peeked. But her mind was a million miles away as the gears in her head turned and the question came to her mind, Could it be him?

“Excuse me for a moment, Enchanter.” Evelyn said quickly, setting aside her work and hurrying off to the tents outside Haven where the soldiers trained. She rushed out, holding a hand up to shield her eyes from the sun’s reflection off the crisp white snow as she looked around for any sign of him. There, amidst the training soldiers, a head of blonde hair and pauldrons too fancy to not be owned by some kind of leader.

She rushed forward, not running but coming close, and stopped several feet away from him. And it was him. He stood there talking to a scout, not noticing her at first, but when he did he dropped the report he had right into the snow. Maker, it really was him after all.

Evelyn Amell, veteran of the Fifth Blight and First Enchanter of Kinloch Hold, never thought she would run into someone from her past in Haven, much less the man she had pined over for years only to lose to tragedy and fear. But there he was, Cullen Rutherford, former Knight-Captain of the Gallows and current Commander of the Inquisition, standing right in front of her.

"Well," she said breathlessly after a moment of shocked silence, "Isn't this a surprise?"

“Amell? Is… is that really you?” Cullen asked, blinking at her in shock. She laughed, despite herself, and answered, “Well who else would I be? Mother Shipton? Maker’s breath, I- I never thought I’d see you again, least of all here.”

Evelyn felt… well shit, she didn’t even know what to begin to feel. Shock and surprise were the most apparent, but beyond that… she wasn’t sure if she should be happy to see Cullen again or still mad at him for what he did. Time had worn down her bitterness, however, and dulled it to an aching sorrow for what was lost: a bright young man she might have loved. And as much as Evelyn would deny it, she was overjoyed to see him here, safe and sound. But she was hesitant, as well, worried he still thought all mages were monsters.

“I as well… Amell, I- I don’t know what to say,” Cullen said and looked like he was about to say more when he glanced away at the scout nearby and the men training around them, some staring at the two of them, “... Perhaps we should speak later. I-if you would like to, I mean.”

“Of course… Please, come find me whenever you can, I am usually in my quarters in the Chantry or at the Tavern. I… It’s good to see you again, Ser Rutherford.”

“The feeling is mutual, Amell.” Cullen said with a smile and a look in his eye that suggested he wanted to say more, but couldn’t just yet. Evelyn smiled at him, then nodded in a polite manner and left. She went back to the Chantry, to the quarters she shared with other First Enchanters, and sat down, still in shock from what had just occurred. She spent the rest of her free time that day thinking of what she would ask him, what she would tell him, when they finally got a chance to speak.

They never did. Soon enough, Lady Adaar led the mages to the Breach for a second attempt to seal it. And they did! It was amazing, everyone had been cheering and celebrating and having a grand time. Evelyn had spied Cullen talking with some of his men and had been mulling over the idea to go over and speak to him when the other shoe dropped.

It had been just been fearful at first, everyone hearing the warning bells and seeing the soldiers run to the gates. Then the true panic and chaos had alighted. Evelyn felt the fear strike her heart like a flaming arrow when she saw the massive army of Templars approaching, like something out of a nightmare. She fought, though; she fought those monsters with her damndest, protecting the villagers and covering Lady Adaar so she could arm the catapults. And for one moment, it looked like they might win. An avalanche was triggered, burying the main host of the enemy under rock and snow. But then, an Archdemon attacked.

Evelyn knew it was an Archdemon; she had seen the Archdemon of the Fifth Blight herself, and feared even now that a Blight had begun again. But at the moment, Evelyn just felt general fear, following Cullen’s orders to get to the Chantry. Once inside, she quickly started tending to the wounded along with the sisters, trying her best to heal any wounds that weren’t past the point of help.

When the idea came to use a hidden path out of the valley, Evelyn hurriedly gathered any supplies she could before evacuating with the others. As they fled, she saw Lady Adaar face off against a verifiable monster, before sending a catapult load into the mountainside, burying it, the Archdemon, and herself in rubble and snow. Evelyn remembered practically feeling the sorrow around her; they had survived, but their savior had fallen.

Once they made it far enough away the Inquisition leaders were convinced they would be safe, the remaining survivors made camp. They were cold, hurt, and convinced they saw their last hope perish. To say things were going bad was an understatement. Evelyn made herself useful by lighting fires and healing any wounds that needed it, pushing herself a bit too far honestly.

She only stopped when Mother Giselle noticed she was as pale as the snow around them and bid her to sit by a fire and rest before she tried to help anymore. Too tired to argue with the Mother, Evelyn did as she was told, drinking and eating the rations provided to her as she stared blankly into the fire.

And then, a spark of hope alighted within them. Scouts returned from the mountains reporting seeing a single green light in the distance, as well as the vague form of a large, horned figure. Cullen, Seeker Pentaghast, and some soldiers had run off to investigate, and came back not too soon with Lady Adaar, who looked worse for wear but unmistakably alive.

For a moment, everyone was overjoyed and hopefull for the future. But then, rumors of what Adaar reported began to spread. A darkspawn magister, the ultimate evil for many. It was… disturbing, to say the least. As the inner circle fell to infighting and bickering, Evelyn worried for the fate of the Inquisition, and its allies.

That’s when Mother Giselle began to sing. Evelyn had recognized the song, the sisters had sung it often in the Tower, especially after the demon infestation and Kirkwall. Everyone began to join in, and Evelyn felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time: faith. They had all looked to Lady Adaar, a symbol of their hopes and dreams, that they truly could stand against this chaos and win.

As the song ended in cheers and laughter, Evelyn caught Cullen’s eyes in the crowd. She smiled at him and he smiled back, and for a moment she considered going to him, but a runner came to her before she could and said someone’s wound had opened up and needed healing. No rest for the wicked, eh?

Evelyn promised herself to try to talk to Cullen soon, and she finally got a chance days later, on their march to a new place to settle down. Cullen had been walking- or marching, more like- with his soldiers, but after a day of that he allowed them to be at ease and walk however they wished. So while the soldiers broke off into groups or went to find friends and family, Cullen remained alone as he walked on. Knowing the moment would not last, Evelyn lept into action.

“Good afternoon, Ser Rutherford. Would you mind my company at all?” She asked him as she sidled up next to him, smiling politely. Cullen seemed a bit startled at first and replied, “Amell! Oh, uh, certainly. I mean, I do not mind your company.”

It warmed her heart a bit to hear that awkward nervousness in his voice again, it was if he hadn’t changed at all. But that wasn’t true, not for either of them.

“... So. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? About, what, 10 years now? Oh Maker, now I feel old, heh… How have you been?” Evelyn asked as they walked together.

“Well enough, despite everything. And you?” He asked, smiling tentatively at her.

“Well enough, despite it all.” She replied with a smirk.

“Heh… I, uh, I heard you became First Enchanter, before the circles dissolved. Congratulations.” Cullen said, offering her a polite nod.

“Thank you! Although Irving had horrible timing with the appointment. Not a day after we got the news about… about Kirkwall… Do- do you mind if I ask about it?” Evelyn asked carefully, glancing at him. There were a million questions she wanted to ask, all sensitive and much to hard to say, but she had to start somewhere.

“I can’t say I’m happy to talk about it all, but you may ask questions, if you like… I owe you that much, at least.” Cullen replied, starring at the horizon ahead. Evelyn thought for a moment, considering what to ask. Start small, she supposed, and asked, “What was it like? Kirkwall, the Gallows, before… you know.”

“It was… I don’t know, really. Not so much home, but not just another place to stay for a time. It was just… there. I never really saw much of Kirkwall unless I was out hunting- er, looking for apostates or blood mages. And I wasn’t really looking at the scenery then, save checking for traps or people hidden in shadows. And the Gallows… well, there was something intimidating about it, even to me. I can understand why the mages hated it there especially, now.”

“You can?” Evelyn replied in surprise, then quickly added, “Sorry, that sounded rude. I just… I mean, after what happened, I’m just a bit surprised you’d feel that way…”

Cullen frowned, looking away for a moment in pain before replying, “Yes, well… I have changed. Gotten better, I think. Tried to let go of the past.”

Evelyn felt hope and relief rise in her heart and said with a small smile, “Well, I’m glad. We both deserve to be able to move on after what happened.”

Cullen stopped then, suddenly, and Evelyn stopped to look back at him in confusion. At his sides, the templar’s hands were balled into fists, and he had an unreadable expression across his features as he said slowly, “Amell- Evelyn… I wanted- I… I’m sorry for what I said, after it was all over. I wasn’t- I wasn’t in my right mind. But that is no excuse for saying such horrible things to you… I just wanted you to know, I’m sorry.”

Evelyn was shocked into silence and just stared at him for a moment, mouth agape. She had thought he probably felt bad for what he said, but she didn’t think he would apologize so soon, or like this… Evelyn felt a slow smile spread on her lips as she stepped towards him, reaching out to brush her fingers against his fist as she said, “Cullen, I forgive you. I will not lie, it hurt, but we were both suffering at the time. I understand. And I forgive you.”

“Amell-” Cullen started to say, looking at her with wonder and relief and something else, but was cut off by a commotion further ahead in the procession. They both moved to see what was happened, Evelyn taking her hand away from Cullen’s. Once they crested a hill they saw what had everyone so excited: a massive fortress just ahead, nestled snuggly into the mountainside.

Next to her, Cullen whistled lowly and said, “Now that has potential.”

Evelyn started to laugh and he joined in, until a scout came up and he quickly coughed into his hand as became more serious and professional, despite his cheeks being bright red. Evelyn smiled to herself and thought as she watched him, Potential indeed.