And let the world once more see Your favor
For You are the fire at the heart of the world
And comfort is only Yours to give."
- Canticle of Transfigurations 12:6
You sought an audience with Irving that unremarkable evening, armed with a careful speech that would support your cause. You practiced it many times to yourself in your own quarters, repeating it over and over again so that you would not falter.
"Your request?" His hair was even more streaked with grey than when you first entered the tower.
You stood there with your rehearsed speech lost to you. You could not recall a single word that you planned, so you only pleaded, in a voice too high and too young and too desperate to your ears.
"I wish to be made Tranquil."
Irving tried reason. How you were needed for the realm, and that he was going to request your aid for the battle against the Archdemon. Greagoir attempted threats. He said that your lapse in your duty was a slight in the eyes of the Maker, that you were doomed to walk forever in oblivion, turned away from his love.
You told them then, after all the speeches and the lectures and the pacing – the truths that they should have been informed of on the first day Desire appeared, gift in hand.
"This is why!" Greagoir snapped at Irving after you were done. "We need greater vigilance. Cullen was right…"
Irving only shook his head to quiet his protests. "I have failed you, child, in my promise to protect you." There was defeat in his voice.
You knew you had won.
The ceremony occurred later that day. You remained in the chamber where you had convened with Irving and Greagoir. The senior enchanters were informed and they made the appropriate preparations. A glyph of warding was placed around you as there were spells to cast and runes to enchant. Before the glyph closed you thought you heard Desire tell you - goodbye, little mage, it's been fun.
The rune was a small thing, sitting in Irving's palm. He asked you once more, outside the wards, if you were ready for this. You nodded your head in confirmation.
You felt it touch your forehead, a cold comfort - you were to be closed from the demons, that you would finally feel safe again, that you would be free from being an abomination, from being a threat to the tower, that you could stop hiding what you were, ugly and damaged and –
Cullen found you days later, after the ritual was complete and you were fully healed from the lyrium's poison. He yelled and yelled and shook you, and you asked him to please unhand you because it hurt.
He came back to you again and again, weeks upon weeks, asking questions you could not answer. You told him that you wanted to be left alone to do your duties, because they were very important even with the death of the Archdemon at the hands of the Grey Wardens and the Blight ended. You told him the number of senior mages in Ferelden only numbered seven now.
You fool, you little fool, he said to you repeatedly.
You do not disagree.
When he finally asked you a question you could answer, the one that you knew he has been running circles around, and he asked you why, you said – because I chose to. And he pulled out his sword and commanded you to watch him.
You watched. Time passed. A young apprentice came running around the corner, and when he passed you, Cullen grabbed the boy by the neck of his robe. He ran the blade through the boy's body and the boy gurgled, pink foam at his mouth. You saw him bleed. The body dropped to the ground.
You watched, and it was different because the next apprentice was a girl this time. Cullen took her by the hair and sliced open her throat. The spray of blood hit you and it was warm. Cullen was covered in blood too. He looked at your face, as if searching for something.
"I dream of Warin sometimes," he said. "He told me to watch over you."
"That's kind of you," you said to him.
Cullen made a sound that was like the gurgle of the boy's last breath. He hacked at the girl apprentice's body (was her name Alise? Or Ayla? You pondered) until it was unrecognizable.
"Do you care?" He shook his bloodied blade at you. "Tell me you care, and I will stop."
"I cannot do what you ask of me," you replied, and you watched him turn and go.
You hummed a tune, something your mum used to sing to you when you were young, then turned from watching to enter the storeroom. He blocked your entrance when he demanded your attention away from your tasks. Those tasks waited patiently, but you couldn't tarry for too long. There was so much to be completed for the First Enchanter.
Now if only that noise in the distance would stop. You needed your utmost concentration.
This was delicate work, after all.