Huh. Now I feel bad that I put way more effort into the Magi origin instead of the Human Noble, an origin everybody loves. But hey; I like mages better. I also think it's in part that I include a unique intro and start the Mage's POV earlier that the Noble's. Once again, I'm worried that the fact I borrowed a bit of dialogue from the game might detract from the story, so please tell me what you think. So without further ado, here's the second chapter of the Final Stand of the Wardens.

The journey to the Circle tower was a long one, and many bumps along the road presented themselves, though in the form of petty distractions such as bandits or forest critters, both of which Cassandra and Duncan could dispatch quite easily. Despite the fact her family had been slain recently, Cassandra kept relatively quiet about it, and could even act the slightest bit cheerful at time. When troubled, she either played with her hound, Cerberus, or Duncan took the liberty to tell a tale from his days as a Grey Warden, including his days during the Free Marches in Orlais, and his friendship with the late King Maric. No matter what, a good tale was always enough to grant her full attention, ignoring all else. Now Duncan truly knew what Bryce meant when he said that his daughter was a sucker for stories. Ignorance certainly was indeed bliss in this case.

It took many days, but after exploring the forests, striding through plains, and fighting the occasional brigand, the tower of the Circle of Magi was in sight. The proud tower stood high in the sunlight, the rays reflecting off the surface of the lake surrounding it. If she hadn't known better, Cassandra would have thought it to be one of the castles a child's story. It was truly a sight to behold.

"Wow… so this is the tower? It's so… tall… I never thought I'd see a mage outside of the castle healers…" Cassandra said, marveling at how small the tower makes one feel.

"Yes. It truly is an architectural marvel. It took the Chantry and Circle of Magi many years to build, even with magic. Come now, we find those who can help King Cailan's army, and the Grey Wardens," Duncan said, heading straight towards the docks. A man at the local tavern agreed to watch the dog for the time being, as Cassandra stressed the possibility that Cerberus might cause trouble. After all, he was skilled at raiding the larders; Maker knows what he could raid in a tower of arcane nature. After encountering an old man who agreed to take them across the lake, the two entered through the massive twin doors that marked the entry towards the center of the tower. Several flights of stairs awaited them, and Duncan often had to grab Cassandra by the collar of her scaled armor to keep moving. The poor girl was a bit too fascinated with several aspects of the tower, including the magic, the mages themselves, and most of all, the library, which was triple the size of the Highever library. However, the long stairs were rather tedious, causing the brunette noble to wonder why to base an organization in a tower, no matter how elegant or magnificent it may seem.

After attempting to keep up, Cassandra finally reached the destination along with Duncan, which was the First Enchanter's office. An elder templar, and an even older mage greeted the two, as Duncan conversed with them on the war. With Duncan busy, Cassandra finally let the curiosity get the better of her, looking around the office like a child wandering a candy store. The different displays, featuring the strangest of arcane things, from runes to dragon's blood, and tomes to demon essences, many things from the unbelievably interesting to curiously trivial adorned the First Enchanter's office. What caught her eye most of all was the assortment of books in the office. Letting herself browse to her heart's content, she read on as Duncan continued his conversation with the two representatives of the Chantry and Circle.

"-which is why we still need more mages for King Cailan's army. As you already know, the abilities of a single mage are enough to overshadow the accomplishments of two soldiers. There just aren't enough within the military. The darkspawn threat is indeed real, and I would appreciate your cooperation," Duncan explained to the leaders.

"Hm… a representative from the king has already been sent here a few months ago. We sent all the ones we could spare to Ostagar. However, Grey Warden, it is your right to request for the aid of the Circle of Magi. Understand that our mages and our resources are strained, though we shall see what we can do," replied the mage in a raspy, respective tone.

"No! First Enchanter, with all due respect, I object! We have sent much aid to the Grey Wardens and the king, and yet they request more! Our resources are not infinite, Irving. So many have already been sent to Ostagar: Wynne, Uldred, and most of the senior mages! We've commited enough of our own to this war effort!" the templar lashed back.

"Your own? Since when did you feel kinship with the mages, Greagoir? Or are you afraid to let the mages out from under Chantry supervision, where they can actually use their Maker-given powers?" Irving retorted.

"How dare you suggest-"

"Ahem. Gentlemen, please. Irving, someone is here to see you," Duncan interrupted. He eyed the mage at the doorstep of the First Enchanter's office. He was a middle-aged fellow, about in his late twenties to mid thirties. He had strong cheekbones, and rather daring green eyes. His black hair and pale skin contrasted quite a bit, almost making him look a bit sickly. The unique parts of his appearance was a tattoo of an almost Tevinter-like symbol on the right side of his face, and a rather thick moustache that probably made him look older than he actually let on. He wore blue robes, marking his apprenticeship as a magister.

"You called, First Enchanter?" he asked in a slightly accented voice.

"Ah, if it isn't our new brother in the Circle…" Irving greeted with a smile. "Come, child."

"This is…?" Duncan asked, observing him.

"Yes. This is he. His name is Jascus de Amell."

"Well… you're obviously busy. We will discuss this later…" Greagoir said, as he walked out of the office.

"Of course… Well then, where was I? Oh, yes. This is Duncan of the Grey Wardens. And this is his apprentice, Cassandra… now, where is that girl…" the Enchanter asked, looking about his office. He spotted her reading in a corner, though when he saw what she was reading, his eyes opened wide in surprise.

"Where did you get that?!" the mage exclaimed, marching over towards the noble. At his raised voice, Cassandra nearly jumped in her seat. Irving quickly took the black book away from her hands, and observed the pages and verses she was reading. "This book is powerful, beyond comprehension. Even to a non-mage such as yourself, it can pose a great danger to you... And please… I'd appreciate if you would not rummage through my belongings… unless this is some sort of new Grey Warden policy…?"

Taking the leather-bound book, Irving tossed it away in a metal chest in the corner before walking back towards Duncan and the newly Harrowed mage. Cassandra still had no idea what in the Maker's name she did wrong. Duncan could only sigh.

"No, First Enchanter. I apologize. Cassandra, why don't you wait for us in the library on this floor. I'll return once I finish discussing with the mages," Duncan ordered. Somehow, Cassandra felt like she was just a five-year old girl again, when she was messing with Aldous' staff. And Duncan's tone as she told her off was certainly familiar. For Andraste's sake, she was an adult, not some child to be chastised. But nonetheless, the noblewoman did as she was asked, and left the room.

At the mention of Grey Wardens, Jascus looked carefully at Duncan, and Cassandra as she left. He looked with a keen eye, though after a few seconds of attention, the mage apprentice seemed largely uninterested again.

"I see. What are Grey Wardens doing at the tower of all places?" he asked rather plainly without regard.

"You've heard about the war brewing in the south, I expect? Duncan is recruiting mages to join the king's army at Ostagar," Irving continued.

"A war? Hmm… interesting… Who are we fighting?" Jascus said, slightly perking up.

"The darkspawn threat that is growing in the south. We will require all the help we can get," Duncan commented, seeing as how the mage looked remotely interested.

"I see. What do I have to do, be able to swing a staff around and freeze some darkspawn to death?" Jascus asked casually.

"Heh, in part. You mages wield an asset to any army. Your spells are effective against groups of mindless darkspawn. I fear if we don't drive them back, we may see another Blight."

"Duncan, you worry the poor lad with talks of Blights and darkspawn. This is a happy day for him," the First Enchanter interrupted.

"We live in troubled times, my friend."

"We must seek moments of levity, especially in troubled times." Irving turned his attention to Jascus and smiled. "The Harrowing is behind you. Your phylactery was sent to Denerim. You are officially a mage of the Circle. I present you with your robes, your staff, and a ring bearing the Circle's insignia. Wear them proudly, you have earned them."

Jascus grinned, as he took his prizes with joy. He nodded and ran off before Irving or Duncan could have a say, he was gone. However, a minute or two passed, and Jascus was already wearing his new robes and brandishing the wooden staff.

"How do I look? I mean… the colors are less drab, that's for damn sure. Huh… not bad… In any case, I thank you, First Enchanter."

"Wait. Before you go, would you be so kind as to escort Duncan to his room, child?" Irving asked. After hesitating, Jascus nodded, without further input. "The guest quarters are on the east side of the floor, close to the library. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have matters to discuss with Greagoir."

Jascus nodded and advanced with Duncan alongside him. The newly appointed mage said nothing, as he marched along in an all-businesslike manner. Duncan however, thought of the prospect of recruiting this mage. Irving spoke highly of him, and he showed much enthusiasm for mastering his special powers. It was said that his skills manipulating the elements were some of the most refined the First Enchanter has seen in a long time. If he could be recruited for the Grey Wardens, the powers he possesses would be invaluable.

"Thank you for walking with me. I am glad for the company," Duncan said, trying to initiate a conversation.

"Yes, well Irving's the First Enchanter, so I always do what he says. He's a good man though, I'll give him that," Jascus said, not bothering to turn his head to face Duncan.

"I'm sure Irving is very proud to have you as a pupil."

Jascus hesitated, until he nodded in response. "Yes, well… You tell of a war in the South?" he asked.

"Yes. A horde has formed within the Korcari Wilds. If they are not stopped, they will strike north into the valley. We Grey Wardens believe that an archdemon is leading the horde."

"An archdemon? Like an Old God, archdemon? Pfft… Those are merely the things of legend."

„Unfortunately, many people believe that as well. However, the threat of the archdemon is indeed real. It rallies the darkspawn, turning them into a veritable army. It is very dire indeed. I fear this is what we will have to face."

"So… you say you're recruiting for King Cailan's army?" Jascus asked, giving undivided attention. Duncan smiled, knowing he caught his interest.

"Yes. The king needs more mages for the army. The bulk of Fereldan's military is stationed there as well, and perhaps it will be enough… if we play our cards right," he mentioned. "Why? Are you interested?"

"I might… tell me, would you also consider taking a friend of mine?" the mage inquired.

"Only if the First Enchanter permits it to be so. However, there is the Right of Conscription, though I use it only sparingly in certain situations."

The mage's expression drooped a bit. "… I see. Well then, here is your room. I hope you find anything you need here."

"Thank you, Jascus. You have been most helpful.

With a wave of his hand, the new Circle mage left the guest quarters, only to be met with the panicked and troubled eyes of his long-time friend. He was a young man, wearing the robes of apprenticeship. His face was tinged with lament, and paranoia almost.

"Jowan… Maker's Breath, you look like you've seen a demon. What's wrong with you?"

Jowan looked to the ground and stumbled for words. "I'm… I'm glad I caught up to you. Are you done talking with Irving?"

"I think I am, for now. Why, is something amiss?"

"Yes, you could say that… remember what we discussed this morning?"

Jascus nodded, as he followed Jowan across, towards the normally deserted Chantry chapel.

"Well, I think I know why they won't let me take my Harrowing…"

"You mean…"

"Yes, they found out."

Jascus and Jowan remained silent, no doubt still trying to process the information going about in their heads.

"Have they… found out about me?" Jascus asked, gulping a bit.

"No, they haven't. After all, I suppose it's evident you're better at keeping your… extracurricular studies a secret. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone through your Harrowing."

"Andraste's Mercy… alright Jowan, I'll help you get out of this mess."

"Shh! Look, we need to go somewhere else. I don't feel… safe right here. Let's just go and discuss this somewhere else…"

"This is most troubling… alright, let's go."

After much persuasion, pest-control, and exploring a dangerous basement within the tower of the Circle of Magi, Jascus, Jowan and Lily finally made it to the phylactery chamber. Those… those things they fought were… unnatural. It gave even Jascus the chills, and Jowan's always thought of him as the brave and defiant sort of guy. The sentinels were a challenge, and Jascus never had to actually use a spell on another living thing (if they could even be called living things). However, it was a rather refreshing change of pace, and these couple hours spent fighting them felt like it was more rewarding in terms of honing his skills, than the entire previous year he had spent experimenting and studying. In a way, the thrill and adrenaline of the battle invigorated him.

Jascus noticed another still suit of armor twitch, before the sentinels came to life and dashed towards the trio. Three of them arose to attack, one much larger than the two flanking it. Jascus immediately backed up, casting an ice spell to freeze one in place. The armored guard broke free from his frozen prison only to be stabbed in the back by dagger from Lily. Jowan threw several spirit bolts at the one chasing him. Acting quickly he summoned a glyph of paralysis upon the stone floor, causing the sentinel to stand in place. Channeling power to the staff in his hand, Jowan let loose a burst of flame through the opposite end, causing the creature to flail about as soon it was free from its spell. Jowan had no idea if some sort of body was underneath the armor. He didn't know they even felt pain. But whatever those things were, he didn't like them. And they could still be killed just as easily. As Jowan wiped the sweat off his brow, his eyes turned to the final sentinel, which towered over the mage, apprentice, and the initiate. Lily started to back away slowly not sure how to take on such a creature. She might be decent with a dagger, but her experience as a Chantry initiate gave no input on combat. And the armor on this was one was thicker, and she only reached up to its breast at best. She trembled slightly, backing further away from the sentinel, who now had his sights set on her.

"M-My faith sustains me; I shall not fear ten thousand men, should they set themselves against me…"

She continued her chant as she backed away, this time more rushed. However, her reactions were not quick enough. With a heavily armored gauntlet, the towering sentinel backhanded Lily, causing her to get knocked off her feet and landing a sharp blow to the head as she fell.

"Lily!" Jowan cried out. However, as he ran towards her, the sentinel blocked his way. He attempted another fire spell, lighting the armor aflame. However, the creature didn't seem to flinch. It marched menacingly toward Jowan, though the attention of the creature was grabbed, as Jascus attempted to distract it with several lesser lightning bolts. The massive beast began to chase after him. Jowan had no idea how to react, or what to do, simply assuming Jascus knew what he was doing.

"Jowan! Jowan, kill this thing while I'm distracting it!"

As much as he tried focusing a new spell to channel through his metal staff, Jowan couldn't concentrate, instead looking at Jascus helplessly, while seeing Lily's unconscious body set him in a state of shock. Jowan's inaction caused Jascus to scoff, now determined to kill this thing himself. He let loose an arcane bolt, knocking off the massive helmet from the sentinel's shoulders. Pleased to see he beheaded the thing, he was surprised to see nothing under the armor, and the headless guardian still running toward him. Before he could react, the sentinel swung its sword in a big arc, and then slashed Jascus across the chest, tearing through the fabric of his mages robes and largely staining it with blood. Falling backwards, Jascus clutched his chest, and noticed the blood flowing from his wound.

"Jascus! Hold on, I'll take care of this thing!" Jowan shouted.

"No… I'll take care of this thing myself…"

Jascus looked at his blood, then at the unconscious form of Lily, then at Jowan. Manipulating the blood from his body, Jascus channeled the energy from it to the palms of his hands, effectively substituting it for mana. Getting up from the ground he faced the armored guardian and placed both hands upon its breastplate. Focusing the energies, he cast a spell much like he would a normal ice spell, the frost practically flowing from the blood in his veins, and exiting through his palms. The sentinel tried to attack with its heavy weapon, though it flinched and stopped altogether, as from the point Jascus' palms touched the armor, red ice started enveloping around it, starting slowly, and then quickly spreading throughout the sentinel's body. It helplessly stayed in place as is was soon enveloped in a layer of frozen blood. Grabbing his wooden from off the ground, Jascus used it as a club on the armored sentinel and it shattered to pieces. Exhausted, Jascus fell to his knees, trying to recover from the exertion such a spell had.

"Maker's Breath, Jascus… how did you learn Blood Magic like that? I've… I've never seen something like that…" Jowan asked, rushing towards his friend to heal his wounds.

"I… don't know, Jowan. It just happened," he replied. "Now, if you could shut up and help me heal my wounds that would be great."

Jowan nodded and did so. Casting spells of creation, the wounds glowed in a blue aura before mending open areas together, almost looking like it had never happened.

"You played a risky game. What if Lily were conscious? We'd ruin everything I had hoped for! I'm still not proud of these… abilities," Jowan exclaimed, as he cast more rejuvenation spells.

"I'm sorry. It had to be done, and… it all happened so fast. Quite exhilarating, wasn't it? Why weren't you in on the action?" he said with a grin.

"Are you actually finding this fun? Well, forgive me if I like living."

After getting himself up, Jowan turned his attention towards Lily, shaking her lightly. The initiate stirred slightly before opening her eyes. A trickle of blood dripped down from her forehead, though after a brief blue light, the cut on her head was nonexistent.

"Lily? Lily, wake up. Everything's okay now. We're safe."

"Jowan…? What… happened?" she asked, rubbing the back of her head.

"I saved you, that's what. I couldn't sit by while those things hurt you-"

"Hah! Jowan, I did all the work! Realistically speaking, I saved you both." Jascus retorted, causing Jowan to face palm. Helping Lily up, she brushed off the dirt and blood from her chantry robes.

"In any case, we need to find Jowan's phylactery! We've wasted enough time here, we must move!" Lily declare, running past Jowan and Jascus up a small flight of stair. Right behind her, the mages followed her up to a higher level, where the shelves of many phylacteries lied. Interestingly, Jascus noticed that there weren't that many around the repository, considering the number of mages stationed at the tower. After searching through the many vials, he came across a vial labeled "Jowan Frasoric."

"That's it! That's my phylactery! You found it!" Jowan exclaimed, a joy within him he had not felt in many years. He anxiously grabbed the glass vial from Jascus' hand, looking into it curiously. "I can't believe this tiny vial stands between me and freedom! So fragile… so easy just to be rid of it… to end its hold over me…" he continued. Letting it slip from his grasp, Jowan's phylactery broke into several shards of glass. "And I am free…"

"Hmph. Shame they took my phylactery to Denerim," Jascus moaned.

"Why, would you destroy yours too if it were here?" Jowan asked.

"Then, I could escape with you. All these damned years in the Circle tower. I… I want to see the outside world for what it truly is. Grass is always greener on the other side, no?"

"Well, you still can. I don't think they'll be able to catch you once you're out of here. You'd know how to evade them. You're clever… not like me," Lily said. At the mention of him being clever, a smug grin developed on his face, no doubt letting the pride sink in. He twirled the end of his bushy moustache, a common gesture he did once in a while when being a smartass.

"Right. Now let's get out of here."

The trio nodded, and together, they ran out of the chamber, passing through the magically sealed door, and marching onward.

As they opened the doors out of the basement, they were met with the familiar halls of the mages tower, happily away from the dark, dank corridors of the basement's chambers and repository. Jowan almost jumped, and he hugged Lily, tears of joy almost breaking through.

"We did it! I can't believe it! Thank you, Jascus… we could never have-"

"So what you said was true, Irving."

Jascus, Jowan, and Lily all looked forward and saw the worst possible sight they could see; a contingent of templars led by Knight-Commander Greagoir and the First Enchanter.

"It's not what it… Oh, sod it," Jascus groaned.

"G-Greagoir!" Lily cried out, stuck in a corner.

"An initiate… conspiring with a blood mage. I'm disappointed, Lily," the templar proclaimed. He observed her, looking straight into her eyes, searching for signs of life, or lack thereof. "She seems shocked, but completely in control of her own mind. Not a thrall of the blood mage then. You are, Irving; the initiate has betrayed us. The Chantry will not let this go unpunished."

The Knight-Commander drifted his eyes towards Jascus. The man was not scared of Greagoir, though the thought he might need to defend himself was a bit unnerving. Nonetheless, he stood his ground.

"And this one… newly a mage, and already flouting the rules of the Circle."

"I am disappointed in you, Amell. You could have told me what you knew of this plan, and you didn't," Irving sadly stated. Jascus stood defiant as usual, though was surprised when Jowan stepped forward.

"You don't care for the mages! You just bow to the Chantry's every whim!" he yelled.

"This is a prison!" Jascus backed up. "You're strangling the apprentices to death, and you care nothing of their plight!"

"Enough!" Greagoir yelled, his voice echoing throughout the chamber. "As Knight-Commander of the tepmlars here assembled, I hereby sentence this blood mage to death! And this initiate has scorned the Chantry and her vows. Take her to Aeonar."

"Aeonar? You heartless bastards!" Jascus cried out. However, his remark was ignored as two templars neared Lily, ready to take her to her fate.

"The… mages' prison… No, please no. Not there!" Lily pleaded, starting let tears roll down her face.

Jowan looked at Lily, then Jascus, and at his own two hands. He frantically searched for an answer, but when a templar got too close for comfort, he snapped.

"No! I won't let you touch her!" he yelled. He pulled out a knife and stabbed through his hand. Blood dripped down, staining the silks of his robe, and the very life essence swirled around him. The area around him started to envelop in a vermillion aura. The templars quickly backed away, brandishing weapons and shield. The blood flowed around him in the air, like a small tornado, becoming larger and more violent as Jowan looked straight at the templars, wanting nothing more than to anything ten times as worse as what they might do to Lily that gets near. A templar soldier moved forward. Reacting immediately, he let loose a shockwave of blood and spirit bolts, both combined making a sinister spell. The effect knocked down everyone in the area, including Greagoir and Irving, and injuring them to buy time to escape. Jowan huffed, as the power from that attack had drained him physically. He looked at his longtime friend, who could only express shock at how powerful his attack was, and how stupid Jowan was to even attack in the first place.

"Jowan… you fool…"

He couldn't even look at him. His spirit broken, the apprentice mage looked to the woman he loved, who was in an even more stressed state of shock than Jascus.

"By the Maker… blood magic! H-how could you? You said you never…"

"I admit, I… I dabbled!" he said, doing about a rather innocent face. He then buried his face into his hands, too ashamed to look Lily in the eye. "I thought it would make me a better mage!"

"Blood magic is evil, Jowan… it corrupts people… it changes them…" Lily said, not being able to look at him either. Jowan looked back at Lily, his eyes pleading for some kind of forgiveness.

"I'm going to give it up. All magic! I just want to be with you, Lily. Please… come with me…"

"I trusted you. I was ready to sacrifice everything for you… I… I don't know who you are, blood mage. Stay away from me!"

Jowan was completely, and utterly heartbroken. His head drooped down. His eyes met the gaze of his colleague, Jascus. Jowan knew he was a blood mage too, and a better one at that, but at least he was good enough to keep it hidden from everyone. And him? Jowan knew he was stupid. All because he dabbled a bit in blood magic with a friend, he was going to pay the price for it. Because of this, his life would now fall apart.

"I'm sorry, Jowan."

"I'm sorry too, Jascus."

He noticed the wounded men starting to stir and get up.

"Goodbye, my… friend."

Jowan ran out, leaving behind his love, his friend, his home, and his life. And all he had left was a bloody robe, a knife, and curse.

Jascus couldn't help but pity the man. He had all the right intentions. He wondered why he should be the one punished, yet Jascus himself got lucky. Sighing in resignation, Jascus walked over to his mentor, Irving. After casting a healing spell, the First Enchanter stirred and opened his eyes. He weakly propped up his upper body with arms.

"Are you alright? Where's Greagoir?"

"I knew it… blood magic," the aforementioned templar exclaimed. "But to overcome so many… I never thought him capable of such power."

"I… I don't know what to say. I still can't believe he…" Jascus mumbled to himself.

"None of us expected this. Are you alright Greagoir?" the First Enchanter asked, getting helped up to his feet.

"As good as can be expected given the circumstances!" he yelled. "If you had let me act sooner, this would not have happened! Now we have a blood mage on the loose and no way to track him down!"

"Yeah… his phylactery is lying in pieces now…" Jascus woefully explained.

"Where is the girl!?" Greagoir asked, his rage barely bottled up at this point.

"I… I am here, ser," Lily answered.

"You! You helped a blood mage! Look at all he's hurt!"

"Damn it, Greagoir! Let the girl go! She had no idea he was a blood mage," Jascus argued.

"What, does that make the situation better? She defiled the Chantry rules and now we have a blood mage loose!"

"It is alright, Jascus… you have been a good friend in the short time I knew you… but I must accept my responsibilities. I… I am willing to accept any punishment you see fit. Even… even Aeonar."

"Get her out of my sight," Greagoir demanded. The two templars nodded and escorted Lily out of the room. Which left only Jascus. "And you… You know why the repository exists! Some artifacts-some magics-are locked away for a reason!"

"Did you take anything important from the repository?" Irving asked.

"No, First Enchanter…" Jascus explained. He hoped by "important" that didn't include a pair of Tevinter Enchanter's robes he found in a chest.

"Very well. I believe you."

"But your antics have made a mockery of this Circle!" the Knight-Commander interrupted once again. "Ah… what are we to do with you…"

"Do what you will. Jowan was my friend, and he was right to defy you. You care not for the apprentices! You want us to fear our own powers instead of use them to our full potential! Blood magic isn't a sin! It can be an extension to a mage! How are we to become great if we are always monitored and are forced to dumb down our lessons and studies!?"

"What?! You helped a blood mage escape! All our prevention measures are for naught- Because of you! You… wait… let me see your hand…" Greagoir said, noticing something peculiar.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Jascus asked.

"Let me see your hand!" he yelled. After his struggled with uncooperation, Greagoir grabbed his arm and pulled down the sleeve of his robe. On his hand, and dotting his arms, were scars, presumably from a blade.

"You… you're a blood mage too?! I should have known…" Greagoir said, unsheathing a sword. Before Jascus could react, the templar grabbed him by the shoulder and neared the blade towards his throat.

"These are scars from the battle… we had to battle sentinels and guardians in the repository… I was injured several times in the process…" Jascus explained, carefully eyeing the silverite sword by the edge of his neck.

"True as that may be, we now suspect you of blood magic yourself! These scars are too numerous to have come from one battle! To think, we allowed him to become a mage…"

"I… I do not know what to say. Jascus, I want to believe you. But this is a strange coincidence at a strange circumstance. I am afraid we must consider the possibility for the Rite of Tranquility, if only as a safety measure. A shame. You have always been a dutiful and loyal student," Irving said, almost tempted to leave Greagoir to do whatever he wishes, just to spare the lad from a life devoid of living.

"I should just gut you right here and-"

"Knight-Commander, if I may."

Jascus, Greagoir, and Irving turned to see Duncan and his apprentice, Cassandra. Both of the Wardens seemed somewhat surprised and maybe a little distraught at the scene developing, the latter of the two Wardens showing it on her face a bit more.

"I am not only looking for mages to join the king's army. I am also recruiting for the Grey Wardens. Irving spoke highly of this mage, and I would like him to join the Warden's ranks."

"Duncan, this mage has assisted a maleficar, and shown a lack of regard for the Circle's rules," Irving objected.

"He is a possible blood mage. He is a danger! To all of us!" Greagoir added.

"It is a rare person who risks all for a friend in need. And I don't suppose you have proof he is a blood mage?"

"These scars on his arm show that he practiced the art of blood magic by turning-"

"These are simple scars. You cannot prove any wrongdoing because of them. And even if he is a blood mage, that is not what the world will remember him for. The Grey Wardens nonetheless are in need of recruits and assistance of any kind. I stand by my decision," Duncan proclaimed.

"No! I refuse to let this go unpunished!" the templar exclaimed.

"Greagoir ,mages are needed. This mage is needed. Worse things plague this world than blood mages. You know that. I take this young mage under my wing and bear all responsibility for him."

"A blood mage escapes, and his accomplice is not only unpunished, but rewarded by becoming a Grey Warden!"

"Well, Greagoir, if the army does need me, and Duncan has to conscript me…" Jascus slyly mentioned, while twirling and fiddling with his facial hair.

"Very well. If need be… I'll use the Right of Conscription to recruit this mage," Duncan said, not helping but laugh a bit at Jascus' rather joking mood at the moment.

"First Enchanter, I-"

"Enough. Greagoir, we no longer have a say in this. Let it go."

The Knight-Commander sneered one last time at Jascus. "Just… get him out of my sight."

"Thank you, First Enchanter. For everything," Jascus said, in a more polite and respectful tone.

"You are welcome, Amell. But please… do not make me regret this."

With a nod, Jascus was escorted by Duncan and the girl beside him outside of the tower. As the trio headed off, Jascus pondered just how close to death he was, and now he was officially leaving behind his entire life. He got lucky, though. He was stuck in a similar position as Jowan, yet got off easy, and was going to be made a Grey Warden to boot. But he couldn't help but feel bad, or responsible even for Jowan's fate. Maybe he could have stopped him. Maybe Jowan studied blood magic because Jascus was too. He was never certain who started what. When they both found out they were experimenting, they worked together on it. But now, he left the tower. He had no friends. No home. And all he had left was the staff, a Circle ring, and a stolen Tevinter robe. Is this truly the end of his days at the Circle?

Duncan and Cassandra opened the doors, and Jascus felt the breeze of fresh, outside air. The moonlit sky was a wonder to see, and when he went outside for the first time since he was five, it was astounding.

"Wow… after all those years, have I forgotten what outside is like? Huh. I guess this is how a dwarf feels when he goes to the surface for the first time."

Sure, there were windows to see the outside world from, but seeing it from the two perspectives gave a world of difference. Being under the whole sky, with the stars and the moon… it was all so great to see again. The fresh air… the waters flowing back and forth, reflecting the moon… A minute outside of the tower and he was glad to be rid of it.

"Hello. My name is Cassandra. I suppose that the both of us will be Grey Warden colleagues from this point on," said Duncan's apprentice.

"Right. I'm Jascus. Jascus de Amell. It's a pleasure. Now if you'll please excuse me…" Jascus said, not really wanting to talk.

"Is something wrong?" Cassandra asked.

Jascus snapped out his delusions and came to the real world. "No, no… I was just… reflecting."

"I think I understand. A lot happened to me too. But if you don't mind me asked, what exactly was going on back there?"

"I… don't want to talk about it. I just need a… a…" Jascus looked towards the horizon and noticed a tavern. "I need a drink…"

The girl laughed. "Yeah, so do I, I guess I also need to get my hound out of there. Andraste's mercy he didn't cause much of a ruckus."

"Duncan, do you mind if I get my very first taste of outside ale? I might need it after all I've been through," Jascus asked.

"Alright, but don't get yourself into too much trouble. We still have a long road to go. We still need to scour the lands for those worthy of our ranks."

"You mean… me and the mage aren't good enough?" Cassandra inquired.

"I'm afraid not. The darkspawn out number us three to one, and I intend to find as many able or willing people as possible. Our next destination is the dwarven city of Orzammar."

"So we don't go to Ostagar yet?" Jascus asked. "And we're going to the dwarf city? Where was I better off? Let's see, templars or short drunken warriors… Huh… I might need two drinks…or three, now…"

Meanwhile, a man of Casteless birth seeks to achieve greatness beyond his birthright, and a noble woman eventually sees her status crumble around her.

Thank you for reading. Once again, this is my first Dragon Age story, so tell me what you think and please review.