It's all theory. Vague and at the far edges of what even madmen would claim was possible, but Dorian cannot let it go. Alexius thinks it's possible and that's all Dorian truly needs to keep pursuing his research. Time is just another thing after all. Spells can speed it up and slow it down, why can't it do so more dramatically?
He experiments with haste spells and slowing glyphs, but the real breakthrough comes as all such brilliant things do. Late at night while Dorian's attention is wandering due to the sleep he hasn't been getting nearly enough of.
There's green and Dorian has a moment to feel absolutely terrified before he's just cold. No. Not just cold. Utterly freezing. It's the wind that cuts through his thin robes, and Dorian wraps his arms tight around himself as his vision slowly clears.
He's sitting on a roof. A hole filled roof on top of a very tall tower in the middle of a hellish landscape of snowy mountains. And it's night, because of course it is.
His breath puffs out of him in visible clouds as he awkwardly crawls along the roof to one of the larger holes. Intent on getting out of the wind first before figuring out what he did and where he is now. His teeth chatter just enough that he almost dives in before noticing the tell-tale noise that lets him know the room below is not unoccupied.
It's a very distinct tell-tale noise too. Moans and groans, both distinctly masculine sounding. His amusement evaporates the instant he takes the moment to let his eyes adjust and looks.
There's a bed below, shoved in a corner so it's not under any of the holes, and one of the men in said bed is himself.
Dorian may not be as vain as some of his peers, but he has no doubt that he is seeing himself. Naked and purring filth far too low to carry up to the roof as he moves in a very deliberate matter. Pausing to kiss and nip the pale skin of the blonde man below him. A nice specimen of a man whose broken cries do carry to the roof. "Dorian, please..."
The other Dorian's response is a rich chuckle and louder words, "Anything, Amatus, just say it."
Dorian has enough time to register the endearment, and the lack of biting edge he usually gives the word before he's gone. The green doesn't blind him this time, and Dorian finds himself back in the study. The fading energies of a spell and the amulet fighting the lingering chill in his skin for most irritating sensation.
The facts of the situation resolve slowly, but when they do his cursing wakes up half of the household.
Dorian doesn't often think about that event. Not after both he and Alexius failed to replicate it. Certainly not at all after he parted ways with his former mentor. The pain and obsession of saving Felix too much when combined with the pressures of Dorian's own family.
Their seemingly reasonable match that Dorian had always known was coming, and had thought he was resigned to before. Get married, pass the blood on to the next generation. It was what every good Altus did after all.
He doesn't though. He doesn't and Dorian tries not to think that the reason he doesn't is because his dreams are filled with a broken voice crying his name and the fondness that echoed in that one word.
Dorian recognizes him instantly. Even fully dressed and not out of his mind with bliss he can recognize the blonde man being introduced to him as Commander Cullen. His surprise steals his words for a brief moment, but then Cullen glares at him and the spell he'd been about to fall under breaks hard. It's a look filled with all the same distrust and automatic hatred that Dorian's been dealing with since he left Tevinter behind. Not even waiting for Dorian to do anything to earn it. Simply lumping him in with the worst element of Tevinter as a matter of course.
"If you're going after Alexius, you'll need me," Dorian ignores that look with practiced ease and gives the Commander his best smile as he lays out his offer in simple terms. Liking the way it makes the man twitch a little. The trust in the room is simply amazing really.
Dorian ignores the twinge of disappointment he feels as he walks away from the room and catches the faint, accusatory words, "A Tevinter magister?!"
Really, what had he been thinking? A Southern man? He'd known it was somewhere in the South, and the pale skin and hair had been a solid clue after all. How could he have thought that he could have anything with him?
The man wasn't just the average Southern barbarian either. He was Ferelden, a dog loving Ferelden Templar! Dorian honestly can't think of anyone being more contrary to everything he is than Cullen.
Dorian sneers and blows right out of the gates of the city. Heading to the old and tired horses that make up the bulk of the mounts. Clearly, whatever had happened all those years ago was more than just an accident.
It was a mistake.
The blizzard is a new experience. One Dorian could have done without, but the strangely intent Templars are still behind them and the people left alive aren't moving nearly fast enough. Dorian grimaces as he stops and turns back. People stream around him in a blind panic as he squints into the blowing snow. It's hard to see but the twisted Templars are fairly distinct in their outline.
Lightning crackles in his hand and arches as easily as ever through the air. Not slowed at all by the snow as he sends it at the hulking forms. The light from it illuminates them briefly, and Dorian barely notes the screams of fear from people who had been far too close to being cut down.
It's a brief but draining battle as some soldiers see the danger and turn back. Draining because the wind is picking up and Dorian's spending as much energy trying to stay oriented as he is in casting. In the confusion of it he nearly lights the hulking figure of the Commander on fire when he looms up over him suddenly and grabs his dominant hand to throw off the next spell.
"Enough!" The man yells to be heard clearly. Head turned so that they project to the soldiers too. "They are felled! Run ahead, protect the civilians!"
He turns then and pulls. Not letting go of Dorian's arm so that he's forced to stumble along behind him. An indignant complaint rises and is crushed as he lurches with more than just the force of the pull. His legs are stiff and nearly refuse to bend. The cold has gone right through him, and Dorian notes that it's not as bad as he thought it mere moments ago.
"Hold on," Cullen drags his arm up over his shoulder and nearly starts to carry him along. "Hold on, Dorian, it's a few miles but there's a good spot up the mountains. Leliana's people have it. We'll get you warmed up there."
He's already feeling rather warm with all the unexpected concern, and Dorian wants to say something about that. Wants to but his lips refuse to cooperate, and --too late-- Dorian realizes it's more than just the cold hitting him. His mana has been drained dangerously low without him realizing it.
Cullen keeps up a gentle, encouraging stream of words as they trudge through the snow.
Warming up is a painful process. Helped along immensely when a small vial of lyrium is pressed into his hands. The renewal of mana goes a long way to generating warmth. He's still shivering though when Cullen finds him again and drops a thin cloak over his shoulders.
"You're not completely frozen are you?" The man asks with concern that doesn't look fake despite the fact Dorian can clearly see he's worried over a dozen other things.
"I'm certain my feet are solid blocks of ice," Dorian says as he examines the cloak. It's thin, but not much thinner than what everyone else has. "But other than that I'll be fine."
"Good, I'd hate to loose you. We need all the good men we can get," Cullen smiles. Easy and completely unaffected by artifice. A real smile because he means it.
"Well, I'd hate to lose me too," Dorian exclaims and tries to ignore the way he's drawn to that smile. The way his traitorous mind thinks that he just might call a man who wore that smile for him 'Amatus' and mean it. "I'll try not to endanger myself like that again."
"I'll hold you to that," Cullen says and then ducks out of the tent. Another figure leaving to mill among the camp.
"Oh, you are such a fool," Dorian mutters to himself as he pulls the cloak around his shoulders. Already hearing again the echoes of his own name and that damn word that shouldn't make him hope as much as it does.