BioWare owns Dragon Age…

ChampionTheWonderSnail owns Alyce…

Inspired By chapter 5 of ChampionTheWonderSnail's incredibly entertaining/heartbreaking/hilarious 'Remembering Aunt Mildred':

'His hand had snaked out to grab hers, snatching it back almost immediately as though contact with her had burned him. She watched him stare at the floor, hands resolutely clenched by his sides, murmuring profuse apologies. He wasn't even blushing, just looking paler than usual.'

It tugged at my heartstrings…

Q.Q

Torrin settled himself onto the large cushion. With straightened back, crossed legs, limp arms, and partially closed eyes, he concentrated on his breathing. Whispers and rustling fell away, shuttled off by will alone into distant corners of the chamber. The cool dampness that clung to surrounding ancient stone receded, soon to be replaced by a sense of weightlessness. Clearing his mind was another matter. Focusing on drawing in air through his nostrils, feeling the sharp chill against nose hairs, and slowly expanding lungs hadn't entirely banished his thoughts. That took a bit more concentration. Sorting out the jumbled mess of memories, images and roiling emotions meant plucking, categorizing and then locking them away, neat and organized.

He'd been captured by the Templars as a young boy, horribly confused by their hate. His parents and fellow villagers had no fear of him, so why did the Templars? The Tower enchanters explained the mystery. Magic was potentially dangerous, and must be contained for public safety. A choice of death or tranquility was offered to those who did not find wisdom in the logic. He kept his silence, but nevertheless rebelled, in mind if not in words. The thought of freedom teased him constantly, though it remained as remote and distant as the lighthouse flickering in the early morning mist. Torrin spent his teenage years learning and growing, trying to harness the magicks throughout the onslaught of raging hormones. Alas, even the giggling, fumbling trysts in closets did not give him the sense of freedom he longed for.

One day, a tiny mouse of a boy was brought to him for orientation. A small pinched face hid behind rumpled hair, little lips trembling with cold and fear. Mabari-brown eyes peeked, soft and pleading, past tousled strands to stare up at him in abject misery. His heart went out to the little Niall.

He promptly adopted the lad as his brother, and they formed a strong camaraderie that spanned the years. The difference in temperament and philosophy never hindered their mutual respect. He wanted self-determination, whereas Niall believed in isolation. Torrin sought to teach; Niall required knowledge. Torrin's outgoing personality gave him opportunities for advancement in the Tower's hierarchy. Niall was shy and awkward in the company of others, even those he mentored - most notably, Alyce.

An image of the young Alyce came to mind. Tall, gangly and usually a tad unkempt, the newly harrowed mage reminded him of a filly he had once watched frolic about the grounds near the Spoiled Princess. She was nervous at first meetings, wide-eyed when approached, and constantly tested the strength of those who thought to master her. A perfect foil for the bashful, self-deprecating Niall.

Alyce had an exasperating inability to keep her opinions to herself. Undeniably talented, blessed with a remarkable self-discipline when using magic, she was forever aggravating her instructors with inane commentary whilst studying.

Niall had adored her. Unfortunately, the girl was too young to understand or see the signs of his devotion. By the time she was old enough to do so, it was too late.

Torrin knew of his best friend's dilemma. Niall's greatest fear was the creation of another mage; another prisoner. Although the Isolationist longed for the comfort of companionship, his fears kept him from physical gratification. Thinking to detach himself from temptation by dissolving their teacher/student relationship, Niall had asked the Senior Enchanter to take over Alyce's training - in case his resolve wavered. Alyce was heartbroken, believing herself rejected. Torrin had felt both empathic and irritated by Niall's decision, but chose to keep his own counsel. A choice he regretted now.

In the end, Niall's yearning remained forever silent. Uldred was to blame for destroying the hope and beauty that could have been. Uldred's madness cut short the life of many, Niall's included. Alyce would never know.

Torrin grasped the thoughts, having allowed them their time, and gently pushed them into the recesses of his psyche. There they would rest, satiated for now. His mind at peace, he began to visualize where he wanted to be. Though lyrium was used by most of the mages, he'd learned of lucid dreaming before entering the Tower. It was a matter of concentration and meditation.

Through the narrowed slits of his eyelids he could see the chamber alter, transforming in shape and colour. The bed, nightstand, table and bookshelf disappeared. Colour muted, varying in shades of grey and brown. Pillars appeared before him, contorted and tilted against the uneven ground. A human shape, faint but still discernible, stood a short distance away.

"Hello, my friend. Do you bring news of my mother? Or, perhaps, of Alyce?" the man's soft voice inquired.

Now fully in the Fade, Torrin opened his eyes and smiled, rising to his feet. "Your mother sends word that never has there been a woman in Thedas more proud of her son, Niall. And Alyce mourns, but she is young. We both know time heals all wounds, little brother, if we learn to seize life's opportunities."

Q.Q

[sniffle] Why do I have this sudden insane urge to write a Niall Observation now? Waaaah!

Thank you for the supportive reviews – Shakespira, ChampionTheWonderSnail, Josie Lange, Abydos Jackson, Reyavie, sleepyowlet, Ventisquear, Enaid Aderyn, and Ygrain33! :D