Trust & Guardianship: Starkhaven: Cassandra Pentaghast
~~ Starkhaven. Two months before Winter Solstice.
Varric wrote him back. Kirkwall was overrun by Templars of varying factions. Kirwall was in further chaos and too dangerous a place for any mage. They were being captured and made tranquil after their families were tortured before them to see if they knew the locations of any other mages. And that was if they were not executed out right. Anders had been under Fenris' watch and both had fled Kirkwall. Varric no longer knew where they were.
The news was disheartening.
So he sat back down with Elthina's box and its contents. The letters to the Divine he transcribed and had a formal scribe sign witness to them along with the young cleric, Rose. Then he sent copies to the Divine for they contained the most horrific observations of abuse and misconduct among the very order of Templars and clerics. The Divine needed to know. He added Varric's letter. It was all he could do for Kirkwall as he hoped the Divine was not behind this mess of splintered Templars. Lastly, he added his own reports of their conduct in his lands and the laws they have been breaking, Chantry laws he knew from his time as a Brother in the Chantry.
The first letters he received since arrived but a month or so after Fenris and Andres fled Kirkwall. They were from Fenris in his rough attempt at writing (that were far more improved than when he and Fenris parted ways before The Fall) and from Varric. All letters to Fenris and Anders would go through Varric as he was best able to keep track of where the warrior and mage were likely to be. They fled to Fereldan. Sebastian could not help be feel grateful and relieved. Fereldan was truly their best chance at survival, though he wanted them here in Starkhaven. To get them here would be very difficult.
The prince paced his office read Fenris' letter. He suddenly needed to sit. According to Fenris, Anders progress with the spirit had ups and downs and that Brayden Hawke was off in Tevinter somewhere seeking a way to free the mage from the spirit. That wasn't the news that drove him to sit. That news was of Elthina and the destruction of the Chantry. According to Fenris, who was reading Anders' private journals, Elthina actually put Anders up to the task, creating martyrs practically of both her and Anders. Only eleven lives were lost that day. Eleven. Elthina knew, of course. No wonder she was moving Brothers and Sisters out. He remembered that day she sent them on missionary duties. Thinking back to Rosie and the Seeds of the Open Circle, he suddenly realized just how involved Elthina was. He wished deeply he had not been so close-minded about Anders. Elthina tried to tell him to help and all he did was… the opposite. He read on with relief that Fenris and Anders seemed well so far.
He penned his first letters out. To Varric was one of heartfelt gratitude for news of Fenris, a friend he missed greatly. To Fenris was his expressions of relief and an extension of an apology he wanted to make to Anders for his ignorance and cruelty. He let Fenris know that there was a place for both he AND Anders for when Hawke manages to save the mage and spirit from each other.
A couple months after those exchanges came another from Fenris. Snow was falling lightly outside, coating the courtyard in sparkling white. He was to have dinner with Martha soon, his first nervous step to courtship. He wanted to read this letter and respond to it first. Fenris was doing well. Better than well. Anders had found a way to break the magic that caused Fenris so much pain and would hopefully free Fenris soon. Fenris complained a great deal about being cold. Sebastian laughed. He penned his own updates to Fenris, about the Open Circle and about his interest in Keran's sister. He lamented a little about his own duties and how much he missed his friend. A knock on the door called him to dinner. He signed the letter and promised in a PS that he would write again soon.
The next day brought with it a response from Orlais at last. What he expected in response, if he could expect anything, was nothing he was prepared for. A Seeker arrived, her hair neatly shorn and dark, her accent Nevarran. Cassandra Pentaghast stood like a pillar of light and fire and conviction. Sebastian knew of the Seekers, the Seekers of Truth. These Seekers were a small elite Templar order whose duty it was to investigate internal and external threats to the Chantry and to root out corruption within the Templar and Chantry orders. The prince felt there might not be enough of these people to settle the chaos and corruption running rampant.
He took a risk and summoned a teen to his court before meeting with Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast. Tomas Pentaghast, whom Sebastian had taken to calling Mage-Prince Tomas Pentaghast, limped heavily into the meeting room. His staff offered him support. Over the months, his face had healed properly, though badly scarred. His leg too had healed, though he would never walk properly again. It never once interfered with his steady royal air. He conducted himself as always with poise, composure, and the utmost of honor and respect. Sebastian found himself trying to emulate this thirteen-year-old.
Cassandra and Tomas greeted each other with surprise, then respect. They were cousins and almost on opposite sides of the mage-Templar lines. He asked her to smite him so that he may understand what it feels like to be smited by a Seeker. With no first enchanter to teach him, he had been cautiously muddling through self-training. His only guide being a mentor who was made tranquil on his road to Starkhaven months ago. It put Cassandra at ease to have the youth without magic. Sebastian thought perhaps that was a calculated ploy on Tomas' part.
After exchanging platitudes and mulled wine, they got down to business. Cassandra had come with a large force of 20 Seekers. Sebastian did not consider 20 people a large force, but Cassandra insisted they were far more sufficient to the task and work ten Templars per seeker. She was going to leave ten of them to patrol the surrounding Free Marches and deal with the renegades of their order that Sebastian had report on. In exchange, she wanted news. "Where are they? The Champion of Kirkwall, Brayden Hawke, and the abomination, Anders."
"And why do you think I would have anything to do with either of them? I left Kirkwall the day the Chantry was blown sky high!" Sebastian replied with the same ferocity Cassandra had displayed.
Tomas interjected in a controlled tone, "Not all possessed mages are abominations, that is a state they become when they have lost control of a demon they have given into. As I understand it, Anders is a possessed mage, like Wynn, and a Grey Warden which takes him outside the jurisdiction of the Chantry."
Cassandra ground her teeth but accepted the correction. "You knew them; you must have some idea where they might be."
Sebastian decided to play this extra carefully. "I had known them. The last I knew was that they were in Kirkwall still, but that was months ago. And considering the suffocatingly corrupt state of things there, I doubt they would have stayed. Hawke maybe, but Anders… he would surely flee. I have relatively good relations and communication the lead Templar of the Gallows, Cullen. I recommend you speak with him. Or speak with the drawf Varric. He too was a friend of them and is better informed than I. My news is, as I said, months old."
The Seeker clearly appeared displeased by this, but what was there to do about it? "Very well. I expect you will keep the Divine Justinia V informed of any changes?"
"Of course Seeker Pentaghast. I was once a Brother of the Chantry. While I have been absolved of my vows so that I may take the throne, my faith is ever strong and I am ever devoted to Andraste and the Chant." Sebastian glanced to the young mage who sat quietly watching the affair across the table.
"I have no choice then but to go to Kirkwall."
Sebastian nodded his agreement, but added, "Please be very careful there and on your route. Will you stay the night? I can arrange accommodations."
Tomas seized his opportunity, "Cousin, why not come with your men and stay at the Open Circle. We have a well-secured fort and would welcome your advice. Sister Rosie is Grand-Cleric there and Knight Keran has been managing well enough, but is young. We lost Knight-Captain Jolyran when a renegade Templar group decided to counter Grand-Cleric Elthina's orders and attacked us en force."
Sebastian had not expected Tomas to make such an invitation and would not have counselled such a thing himself, but the young man was smooth and well-composed… and very charmingly persuasive. He did not look like a threat at all, crippled as he was. Sebastian knew better. This young teen would defend those in need with his very life if need be, and had. Cassandra accepted, partly because this was her cousin and she wanted to be sure he was safe and doing well and partly to see this "open circle" that she has heard rumor of.
When the meeting had ended, Tomas gave a wink and small encouraging smile to Sebastian before leaving. This invitation would buy Sebastian time, a day, maybe even two if he were lucky. He strode swiftly to his room and wrote a letter to Varric and to Cullen warning them of the pending arrival of the Seekers and this fiery spirited Cassandra. Then he walked down to the little Chantry in the palace and prayed for the safety of his friends, even the ones who would not believe he were a friend.