Hello, and welcome to 'The Rogue Mage'.
It's always kind of irked me that despite all the possible decisions in Dragon Age, your character is still strictly placed in their designated box as far as skills go. So, I thought I'd go through a run-through where my female human Cousland actually has magic. Obviously, she and the family have to keep it secret and it's added a really interesting dynamic to a story that I've played (perhaps way too) many times.
Fair warning, this is going to take a while. I've got to play through the game, then write up each bit as I finish playing it. Really looking forward to it though!
Also, it will be a F/F romance story along the way as well. Because, Morrigan is gorgeous and sassy and my femCousland deserves some of that. It'll be slow-burn, just as in the game, and some liberties will be taken. I can't imagine it containing any MA content (basically, because I'm not very good at writing it) but we'll see down the track.
So, without further ado: welcome to The Rogue Mage, essentially a novelisation of my run-through of Dragon Age: Origins, where female human noble Elissa Cousland is secretly a mage and secretly (or not so secretly) falls for the ever sarcastic and cynical Morrigan.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age or any of its characters, places, lore, story, etc. Those are owned by BioWare and each of their respective creators. All intellectual property is theirs; I'm just borrowing their world and showing my love for it.
"And so is the Golden City blackened
With each step you take in my Hall.
Marvel at perfection, for it is fleeting.
You have brought Sin to Heaven
And doom upon all the world."
-Canticle of Threnodies 8:13
The Chantry teaches us, that it is the hubris of men that brought the darkspawn into our world. The mages had sought to usurp Heaven, but instead, they destroyed it. They were cast out, twisted and cursed by their own corruption. They returned as monsters, the first of the darkspawn. They became a blight upon the lands, unstoppable and relentless.
The Dwarven kingdoms were the first to fall. And, from the Deep Roads, the darkspawn drove at us again and again until, finally, we neared annihilation.
Until, the Grey wardens came. Men and women from every race, warriors and mages, barbarians and kings. The Grey Wardens sacrificed everything to stem the tide of darkness.
It has been four centuries since that victory and we have kept our vigil. We have watched and waited for the darkspawn to return. But, those who once called us heroes, have forgotten.
We are few now and our warnings have been ignored for too long. It may even be too late, for I have seen with my own eyes what lies on the horizon.
Maker, help us all.
For generations, your family, the Couslands, has stewarded the lands of Highever, earning the loyalty of your people with justice and temperance.
When your country was occupied by the Orlesian Empire, your father and grandfather served the embattled kings of your land.
Today, your elder brother takes up House Cousland's banner in service to the Crown. Not against the men of Orlais, but against the bestial darkspawn rising in the south.
"I trust then that your troops will be here shortly." Teyrn Cousland stood staring into the roaring fire, his back to three men standing at the bottom of a few stairs.
"I expect they will start arriving tonight, and we can march tomorrow. I apologise for the delay, my lord. This is entirely my fault." The more well-dressed of the men replied.
"No, no," the Teyrn cut in, turning away from the fire to face the men, his expression was gentle, but he looked tired. "The appearance of the darkspawn in the south has us all scrambling, doesn't it? I only received the call from the king a few days ago, myself." He makes his way down the steps to stand by the well-dressed man. "I'll send my eldest off with my men. You and I will ride tomorrow, just like the old days!"
"True," the man said. "Though we both had less grey in our hair then. And we fought Orlesians, not … monsters."
The Teyrn let out a bark of laughter. "At least the smell will be the same."
The side doors to the great hall opened and a young woman, dressed in light armour and carrying two daggers on her back, walked into the room.
"I'm sorry pup; I didn't see you there," the Teyrn said as the woman maked her way towards the two men. He turned to the man beside him, "Howe, you remember my daughter, Elissa?"
"I see she's become a lovely young woman," the man, Howe, said. "Pleased to see you again, my dear."
"And you Arl Howe," Elissa replied. Her voice is soft and quiet, and she gave the Arl a short nod in greeting.
"My son, Thomas, asked after you," Howe continued. "Perhaps I should bring him with me next time."
The woman frowns slightly and quickly glanced at her father. "To what end?"
"Ha!" Howe barked. "'To what end', she says! So glib, too. She's just like her mother when she talks like that."
"See what I contend with, Howe?" The Teyrn joined in with a chuckle. "There is no telling my fierce girl anything these days, Maker bless her heart."
"Quite talented, I'm sure," Howe says. His eyes zero in on Elissa's and something about his look causes the hair on the back of her neck tingle. "One to watch."
Elissa has to suppress a shiver.
Thankfully, her father seems not to have noticed and starts talking again. "At any rate, pup, I summoned you for a reason. While your brother and I are both away, I'm leaving you in charge of the castle."
"What? Why can't I go into battle with you and Fergus?" she blurted out, forgetting herself for a moment.
"I'm certain you'd more than prove yourself," the Teyrn replied, giving her a look. But he quickly dispelled it and gave a light chuckle, "but I am not willing to deal with your mother if you join the war. She'd kill me if I let you go. She's already twisted into knots about Fergus and me going."
"Very well," Elissa said, hanging her head slightly. "I'll do what you think is best."
"Now, that's what I like to hear," the Teyrn said with a nod. "Only a token force is remaining here, and you must keep peace in the region. You know what they say about mice when the cat is away, yes?" At her nod he turned and gestured a guard at the side of the room. "There's also someone you must meet. Please … show Duncan in."
The guard beat his chest with his fist once and headed towards the door. A moment later, a tall man, with dark hair and a rough beard strode towards them. His armour was not like anything Elissa had ever really seen. He had the usual paladin and chest plate, but it was over what looked to be robes, rather than the usual breaches. Like Elissa, he had two blades on his back, only one was a large ornate great sword.
"It is an honour to be a guest within your hall, Teyrn Cousland," the arrival said, and Elissa was not overly surprised to find that his voice was low and commanding, if a little gentle.
Arl Howe looked taken aback. "Your Lordship, you didn't mention that a Grey Warden would be present."
"Duncan arrived just recently, unannounced," the Teyrn explained. He raised an eyebrow at his friend. "Is there a problem?"
"Of course not," Howe replied with a chuckle. "But a guest of this statue demands certain protocol. I am … at a disadvantage."
"We rarely have the pleasure of seeing one in person, that's true," the Teyrn replied. He turned to Elissa. "Pup, Brother Aldous taught you who the Grey Wardens are, I hope?"
"They defeated the darkspawn long ago," she replied, quickly recalling her lesson on the group.
"Not permanently, I fear," Duncan counters.
"Without their warning of the darkspawn rising now, half the nation could have been overrun before we had a chance to react," the Teyrn cut in. "Duncan is looking for recruits before joining us and his fellow Wardens in the south. I believe he's got his eye on Ser Gilmore."
"If I might be so bold," Duncan started, "I would suggest that your daughter is also an excellent candidate."
The usually gentle Teyrn immediately tensed and took a few steps forward to stand in front of Elissa, between her and Duncan. "Honour though that might be, this is my daughter we're talking about."
"Is there a reason I shouldn't join them?" Elissa asked over her father's shoulder. From what she'd learned about the Grey Wardens it would have been a perfect fit for her. Where else would she be able to be herself and not have to fear a bunch of Templars swarming on her at any moment?
"You did just finish saying that Grey Wardens are heroes, old friend," Howe said with a smirk.
"I've not so many children that I'll gladly see them all off to battle," the Teyrn replied. Frowning at his 'old friend'. He turned to look at Duncan and a flicker of fear and uncertainty entered his voice. "Unless you intend to invoke the Right of Conscription…?"
"Have no fear," Duncan placated. "While we need as many good recruits as we can find, I've no intention of forcing the issue."
Elissa saw her father visible relax. He stepped back to where he'd been and looked at her. "Pup, can you ensure that Duncan's requests are seen to while I'm gone?"
"Of course," Elissa said. She frowned slightly but still gave a nod.
"In the meantime," her father continued, "find Fergus and tell him to lead the troops to Ostagar ahead of me."
"Where is Fergus?"
"Upstairs in his chambers, no doubt, spending some last moments with his wife and my grandson. Be a good lass and do as I've asked." He gave her a small smile. "We'll talk soon."
Elissa desperately wanted to stay and talk with the Grey Warden, but knew that her father would probably want to spend some time with him before leaving. Besides, she would have plenty of time in the next few days to satisfy her curiosity about this historic order. She gave one final nod and left the room.
Fergus would probably be in his room, like her father had said, but there was no sense in rushing there. She hated goodbyes. She quickly decided to take the very long way around and turned in the opposite direction to the family's quarters. Besides, she hadn't seen the castle this busy in a long time, and they would all be gone by tomorrow, so she wanted to see what was happening while she had the chance.
Despite growing up as the daughter of a Teyrn, Elissa wasn't used to having lots of people around her. Apart from the occasional party where it had been necessary that she at least show her face, she had tried to stay away from large gatherings. It wasn't that she didn't like people, it was more that being around so many at once made her nervous. She had a secret, one that her family kept for her. But the more people around the more chances that someone would find that secret out.
Thankfully, the mass of people that were rushing about the castle this afternoon were far too concerned with completing whatever task they'd been given to do anything but send a quick 'good evening, my lady' her way before hurrying on.
She hurried past the chapel. Just like with the parties, she'd done her part and attended services when required and learned the Chant and history of the Chantry. But, these were the people that would happily take her away from her family and lock her in a tower if they ever learned the truth about her and she couldn't help the sheer terror that crept through her every time she had anything to do with them. However, she did make a note to send a quick prayer to the Maker later to ask Him to protect her brother and father in their journeys.
Well, it's a start. Just a small chapter to start with, but I hope you enjoyed it. I'll put the next bit up when I'm next off from work.