Author's Note: How do you explain The Misadventurers to a newcomer who hasn't been there for the entire story? Let's start by saying that it's kind of an alternate universe version of Dragon Age: Origins. In this world, we have three PC mages - Oto, the hero of Dragon Age: Origins, and her childhood companions, Kylla Surana and Ereb Amell, who are somewhat cowardly, sheltered kids who have no idea about how the real world works, but are thrust into the circumstances surrounding the Blight of Ferelden to make of it what they may.
This story, however, has nothing to do with any of their trials or battles to come. This story is about their time together in the Circle tower, their years on their sheltered island, and the relationships that wove their lives together. I hope that you enjoy this take on what mage life in Ferelden may have been like.
The Cast of Characters:
Quiet and reserved, Ereb tends to keep to himself and focus on his studies, struggling to repress memories of his earlier life. Despite this, he has an undying loyalty to the Circle and is proud to be a Mage, revelling in his magical abilities. Although he is liked by his teachers due to his dedication and natural skill, he has few friends amongst his peers due to his shyness and their mistrust of vegetarians.
The sheltered world of the Circle of Magi has been kind to Kylla. Her teachers, who care more about her magic than her heritage, were pleased to train her keen intellect and guide her natural curiosity. She grew up well-taught and sheltered from common concerns, innocent of the world and the disgustingly dirty, unhygienic things in it. She is by nature cautious and easily upset by circumstances out of her control. Recently, Kylla submitted her thesis on, "The Role of the Spectator in the Fade: A Comparative Examination of Spectral Views and Dreaming Perspectives in Other Dimensional Worlds" and passed her Harrowing test with flying colors as one of the youngest mage candidates in the history of the Circle.
Oto was brought to the Circle at the age of 8, but had already been taken from her family when she was 6, by a Circus troup that saw her do incredible things. Her family was so numerous and poor that they had no remorse in selling her to them. That's why she kept her independent and hot-headed spirit in the Tower ; skipping classes, stealing food and playing tag with Templars. Even if she complained a lot about the authority, she really thinks the Tower is her home, and cares about the friends she has there like her real family. She's also highly allergic to water.
A Recipe for Cake: Kylla
The world was still dark outside the towered walls of Kinloch Hold when the baking started. But inside the darkness of the tower, the ancient home of the Circle Mages of Ferelden, it was hard to ever tell day from night. Even further down, in the depths of the lower kitchens, a young elf with whitened hair worked around the rosy fire of a tiny oven.
Kylla wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, oblivious to how the gesture left a white streak of rice flour across her pale skin. Cobbled together from loose brick and broken slabs, the makeshift oven burned evenly above a brick nest. Below it, the little fire elemental Kylla had summoned gnawed with vigor on a log of coal. She squinted with one eye to look through the heat, checking that the batter in the oven was rising properly. It was slow labor, baking in the Tower, but she was determined that today, of all days, she would make it work. She's been preparing all month to get it right.
Satisfied that the fire salamander had all it needed to maintain a steady heat, Kylla turned her mind to the challenge of sugar and butter. She glared at the ingredients sitting on the table, daring them to defy her. She gave the gluten-free vanilla extract an extra eye full just in case. Eyes darting about as if the ingredients might be inclined to grow legs and run off at any moment, Kylla cautiously picked up a wooden spoon, compiled her materials, and began beating the mixture into a stiff, creamy texture.
It took a full half hour for the cake to finish baking, and during the time, Kylla finally wrangle the frosting into something that approximated the delicious, thick layers of goodness she'd once had as a treat. She couldn't remember what the occasion was, but the First Enchanter was very excited that day and there were many unusual, fancily-dressed guest mages in attendance who spoke with funny accents and sniffed at the children with their noses held high. They brought with them a chef, a large, pastry-like man with a perpetually gleaming forehead and a large, bulbous nose. He took over Neria's kitchen with a disdainful "hrrumphf!" which infuriated the Head Housekeeper, but all she could do was sit and fume as the over-sized man and his very large crew turned her tiny kitchen into a culinary battlefield. The man's roars rang like battle horns and the mess in his wake could have ten templars battling in the tiny walled space. Neria had been so upset, she didn't even eat the cake offered to her by the large chef. She gave it to Kylla as a treat for helping to clean instead.
Kylla glanced at the thick recipe book for her next step, #8 Fanning Your Oven Fresh Baked Goods. Neria the head housekeeper had recommended the volume, Baking Love with Measuring Spoons: Dash, Pinch, Smidgen, and the Secrets of Making Love in the Kitchen, from her collection of personal books, which occupied all one quarter of a shelf. Usually these books featured pink covers with pictures of Orlesian women who all looked like they were just about to step into a bath. Most wore overly extravagant, white dresses with a dizzying array of laces, which apparently required a manservant helping them to undress. (Although Kylla rather disapproved of the idea of male servants in general, she supposed that there was no accounting for the peculiarities of foreign tastes. They were foreigners, after all.)
Steps 1-4 detailed the ingredients needed and how to prepare each one properly and steps 5-6 outlined the order in which to mix to achieve best effect. Steps 7-9 were thoughtfully illustrated with diagrams of how to shape the pan, dribble the batter, remove the cake, and then cool it before applying icing. But the directions for step #10-15 puzzled Kylla. They seemed to have very little to do with the realm of cookery, and a lot to do with the art of lacing or unlacing corsetry.
She had sheepishly approached Neria about the subject, but the woman had flushed redder than Senior Enchanter Wynne's robes and fell into a fit of what she said was coughing before begging off with fever. Kylla felt terrible for the incident; she could clearly tell that Neria was covering up for something else that day. Neria had all the classic symptoms of an extreme allergic reaction: the coughing, the flushed cheeks, and the watery eyes, which Kylla was able to diagnose thanks to years of healer training in the tower; although she had never heard of anyone allergic to corsets. But she was unwilling to put the Head Housekeeper through another fit of allergies just to find out, and so despite all of her very impressive education, Kylla still remained under a dark cloud as to how to interpret the mysterious recipe text.
The sugary sweet smell of warm gluten-free flour and butter interrupted Kylla's reverie. She set aside the thoughts to mull over later; the cake pieces still needed to be removed from the oven and cooled so that the buttery frosting would not melt in the icing process. Icing, Kylla thought. She had wondered why it was called that. Perhaps a good frost spell would do the trick?
A stonefist spell protected Kylla's hands as she reached into the oven to pull the cake pans from the fire; one thin, rectangular pan and two smaller cylinders. The pans had not been easy to acquire. Eventually, she resorted to making them herself with a modified earth spell in order to achieve the unusual shapes. The little fire salamander hissed at her as she approached, curling possessively around its lump of coal. Kylla removed the pans delicately, trying to disturb the creature as little as possible. Carrying each prize back to her worktable, she set the three pieces for her cake in the center of the granite table, where she gently eased each one from the container with a thin spatula.
Kylla gazed with admiration at how well formed the pieces had come out. With icing to hold it together, her vision for a mini cake version of Kinloch Hold was almost complete!
She arranged the two smaller, round cakes side by side on the blue china plate she had uncovered up from the cellars for this special occasion. The rectangular piece was going to be harder to place. She tried lifting one end with the spatula, but the cake fell flaccidly back onto the work table without any support.
Kylla poked at the cake tentatively with a finger. The instructions in her recipe book said that it should have a firm, bouncy texture. Her finger sank into the soft, squishy exterior. She pulled her hand back and frowned.
Maybe she could prop it up with a stick? Or perhaps lighting will shock the cake into standing upright? She'd seen lighting spells do that to the hair of neophyte spellcasters on their first day in primal mastery.
A paralysis spell, she thought. She could draw the rune on the plate with icing.
Kylla removed the two smaller cakes and set to work on the china plate, brow furrowed in concentration, lips pressed together. She lost track of time as she worked, only nervously aware that the sun was rising higher with every moment, blotting icing furiously with her butter knife. Slowly, the little frosting lines took shape, the heart of the rune branching out to encircle the surface of the plate.
The components for her spell complete, she carefully lifted the cake tower with the help of several spatulas and held it upright in the center of the plate. With one word the rune activated, blue-white light coursing like quicksilver across the surface, colliding in the center in a sharp flash, and in a blink, the moment was over. Kylla gingerly pulled away and the cake stood, erect, proudly on its own; a tiny, gluten-free, fat yellow tower on a blue china plate.
She worried a little about the rough handiwork. The cake was about two hand spans high, standing, but the time spent sitting on the table had caused it to wrinkle somewhat around the sides as it cooled. It was thicker at the bottom than at the tip, and when she placed the two smaller cakes representing the island's open area around it, they sat like sagging balls at the base. The entire structure looked a little... odd.
Kylla tilted her head one way, then another, then shrugged and picked up the white frosting bowl. It was nothing a bit of icing wouldn't cover, and it would all go down the throat at the end of the day, anyway, so maybe it was just the thought that counted.