Trials of the Blood. (Complete)

((ooc 29th Cloudreach 9.35 with  ))

It was not a good day for Callum, he was hoping to hear from his mother as to when he could take Adriana and Stefan to Denerim, and his duties in the keep had kept him hear so he couldn't actually take a trip into the city. Besides if the scuttlebutt was anything to go by, it was not a good time for wardens to be wandering around the City. Callum didn't know why but all he did know was there was tensions between the Chantry and the order, what those tensions might be was well above his paygrade. 

He was patrolling the eastern wall and was heading for the mess hall when his attention was drawn by the gate guard yelling at someone to stop. It was only when he approached the stables that he heard his brothers voice, desperation was not something he associated with his older brother, and quickening his stride he stopped at the gate to hear his brother almost plea to speak to him. 

"Its ok Rosa." Callum raised his hand "He is my brother."  The gate guard nodded and motioned with her head before resuming her post and Callum waited for Liam to dismount and then stared as he helped his son off the horse. "whats going on?

For some reason dread began to knot in his stomach, Liam had been home a couple of days he knew that but why was here with Stefan, where was Adriana? Liam ran a hand down his handsome features, his once tanned complexion now white as a sheet and before he could get an answer Stefan ran straight at him and threw his arms around his legs, although whatever he was saying was lost in the sobbing. 

Callum rested his arms round his nephew and gave his brother a look. "What is going on! Makers arse Liam has something happened to Magdalene? Ma? Adriana?" Panic was not a feeling Callum was used to, the last time he had felt anything like it was the back end of the Ostagar battle when people were getting eaten by the darkspawn and right now he was panicking.

Liam led his brother to one side and looked around him "Grey Wardens help mages right?" Callum frowned a little "They shield mages..."

"Errr no..." Callum began still not sure where this was going. 

"Yrs they do i heard they did!" 

"No we don't we do that then the chantry comes on our head, we conscript mages when it is needed - Liam you are not making any sense!

Liam raised a hand half heartedly at his son, his voice cracking. "He had an arguement with ma and lighting shot from his fingers he cut the tree in the garden down nearly hurt his sister...i thought i thought the wardens could help him." 

Liam sat on a wall with a thump and put his head in his hands as the enormity of his sons future hit him. Callum meanwhile felt his jaw fall and he looked down at the little boy sobbing by his legs. He put a hand on the lads head and stroked it gently but for the moment words failed him. The Templars always knew when a mage had awakened, he had no idea how they knew but they seemed to always know and he needed to think. 

"Is Adriana ok?" Callum asked and Liam nodded "Good. Liam he has to go to the circle..."

"We'll never see him again! At least if he is here then we can see him.." Liam protested

Callum crouched down and tipped his nephews head up, tears swimming in eyes that were so like his dads and his. He needed to get Liam and Stefan away from here, too many ears for his liking. Lifting Stefan into his arms he led his brother through to the garden off the main entrance, it wasn't the main garden, that was the other side of the keep but at least here it was quiet and peaceful and the civilians who worked here tended to hang out here. Callum calmed his nephew and then rested a hand on his brothers shoulder and told him to tell him everything. His heart broke with every word his brother said and, as much as he would have liked to have had his beloved nephew here, even he knew that would cause the order problems they did not need. 

"You know dad came from Kirkwall." Liam murmured miserably. 

"Stephen? I thought he was Amaranthine born."

"No not Stephen, i mean our real dad, he was from Kirkwall. Makers arse Callum if this had happened in Kirkwall they'd be carting him off to the Gallows by dawns light." 

Callum did not want to even think about that, he had heard enough horror stories about that place from some of the mages here that came from Kirkwall to last him a lifetime. It was then he heard footsteps and looked up to see Ser Hunter standing before him. 

"Are you needing me for something Ser Hunter? if so it can wait."  Callum had heard a little about the other warden and what he heard he didn't like "This is a private conversastion.

Daniel looked from one man to the other, his gaze rested on the boy who was still leaning into his uncles side. "The boy needs to go to the Circle, he is dangerous know and as your blood is in Kirkwall that is where he should go, don't make this more difficult then it has to be Ser Kennedy, your nephew is a danger to those around him." 

"Shut up!" Callum hissed "He's just a little boy and where do you get off listening in on peoples conversations!

"I was a Templar Ser Kennedy and it won't be long before others arrive for him, i will make the arrangements, i can see that he is given safe transport to Kirkwall he will be looked after...." Daniel folded his arms. making his point clear, the boy was a danger and he hoped such things as love would not get in the way of sense over emotions.

Arms that quickly unfolded as Callum lurched up and grabbed the other man by his lapel and rammed him against the wall. "He is a boy not a thing that you categorise! He is MY NEPHEW and he is NOT.GOING.TO.KIRKWALL!" 

Callums voice raised echoing with fury around that noone associated with him so much so that  one of the wall wardens looked down and then around "HENRI, the small garden." He pointed "before Callum kills Hunter!"

Privacy was not something which was easily found within the Grey Warden stronghold. Despite minimal numbers. Despite a sprawling fortress. Despite Henri-Julien's and Velanna's combined best efforts. It had been a number of days, or it had at least felt like a number of days, since they had been able to snatch any meaningful time together. He was required for this; she was required for that; neither of them were required together. 

But today? Both were free from all obligations. Velanna had snuck away to their private rooftop garden only a short while ago, and now Henri-Julien was about to join her. In fact, he got as far as both hands on the sides of the rickety ladder with one foot raised to take the first step before he heard his name being called from further along the fortress walls. 

Cursing beneath his breath, he whirled around, pretending to only be passing through the tower en-route elsewhere. It would not do for anyone to realise that there was something worth exploring up the ladder. So it was that he came face-to-face with a red-faced Warden, babbling something about Daniel being slain.

"Why is this my problem?" he snapped. After the excursion into the Deep Roads, Henri-Julien had reassigned his mentor duties over Daniel to another Grey Warden - alas, not Daniel's precious Alessandra - and purposefully maintained a distance from the other man. He had also done nothing to correct the common assumption throughout Vigil's Keep that this severance between them was entirely the product of ego. Of course, that was true: Vigil's Keep was only large enough for one official Templar (and one not-really-a-Templar Templar), and it was not Daniel who occupied that position. However, there was something else to it. A sense that Daniel held particular beliefs which even Henri-Julien could not condone. Particularly when Henri-Julien was also fraternising with a Dalish apostate.

Not that he had been fraternising enough lately for his liking. But that was probably besides the point.

The Warden garbled something else but it still made no sense. Realising that he would not be given peace to just slip away unnoticed, Henri-Julien jerked his hand out to indicate that the fool take him to wherever Warden Hunter, most esteemed of Our Lady Alessandra, was apparently about to meet his Maker. Actually, if Alessandra was such a close confidante of Daniel, why was Henri-Julien being summoned to deal with this?

The answer soon revealed itself. The newly recruited Callum Kennedy, a man who looked so similar as to only be his brother, a young boy cowering between father and uncle, and Daniel were crowded together. It looked like Callum had Daniel by the scruff but that the other man was trying to pry his grip off. Or at least defuse the situation in some way. The little boy, however, looked panicked beyond all measure. So panicked, in fact, that...

Henri-Julien's cleanse met the whizzing bolt of lightening mid-air. Yet while it dissipated into nothingness, the little boy collapsed to his knees, retching and dry-heaving. Be it the heightened emotion or the effects of his first mana cleanse was up for debate. All Henri-Julien knew was that he had tempered the blast as much as he was able while still maintaining a wide spread. This was not Velanna, trained in her abilities and with her own self-control, but a frightened child who, because of that fear, was far more dangerous.

"See to your son," Henri-Julien instructed the Callum-lookalike. He turned to the two Wardens. "Desist immediately, or you will both be held in the dungeons." Then, because he could anticipate Callum arguing, but more because he knew it would piss off Daniel, he stated, "I will escort the child. He will be taken to Kinloch Hold." He levelled a cold stare at Daniel. "Only one of us is trained for this responsibility. You are accustomed to escorting Circle mages, not young apostates."
Liam was trying to calm his brother down, and tell him that this was not helping the situation, it seemed that this, buffoon had got his bothers rarely seen ire, and for the first time Liam saw what had shaped his brothers reputation, one he himself was only now discovering, when a voice with its own commanding presence announced; 

"See to your son," Liam let his hands fall and with a groan that only a father could make went to his little boy who was retching and not looking too well. The Newley arrived warden then turned his attention to the other two wardens. "Desist immediately, or you will both be held in the dungeons. I will escort the child. He will be taken to Kinloch Hold. Only one of us is trained for this responsibility. You are accustomed to escorting Circle mages, not young apostates." that was a dig if Liam ever heard one, but he had more on his mind than this. 

"Cal," Liam called "Please little brother, this is not helping the situation and Stefan is scared." 

It probably wasn't Henri's words that seemed to cut through the red haze in Callum mind because at this moment he really couldn't give a rats nugs arse about dungeons, but the thought that he might be scaring his nephew brought him back to his senses and swallowing the rage that threatened to land Daniel in the infirmary he pushed the other man away with a snarl. Liam ran a weary gaze over his brother, noting how he seemed to have bulked out since becoming a warden and then watched as his brother came over to where they sat and crouched down. "He is not going to Kirkwall." he repeated over his shoulder in Daniels direction and kissed his nephews forehead. "Liam why don't you take Stefan for a little stroll round the garden, I'll be here.

"He should not be unaccompanied!" Daniel protested. 

"Where's he going to go!" Callum snapped "There is only one way in and out of there.

"Come on Stefan." Liam stood up and took his sons hand "You keep him away from my boy Callum, I've heard what these Kirkwall Templars can be like, him though," he nodded in Henri's direction "seems to know whats what more than the other one." 

Callum nodded and watched his brother walk a little way off staying in sight but concentrating on his son. Callum ran a hand through his hair and turned to face both templars. Perhaps to appease the younger brother Daniel stepped forward and make him see the sense his older brother would not have right now. 

"He cannot be where his family lives Ser Kennedy,"

"But you would have me let you cart him off to a place that is alien to him merely because our fathers family is from there?" Callum snorted. 

"Ser Barrows is not authorised for this."

"More than you i suspect" Callum shot back "and if the Templars of Kirkwall are so bloody amazing why did you leave to be joined to the order? You weren't blighted

Daniel swallowed a little and ran a tongue over his top lip "My business our past is not prevalent to why we become wardens," 

"Good then shut the hell up because you are not a templar anymore." Callum turned his attention to Henri and breathed in then out heavily. 

Avos had filled him in on some of the wardens here, of course he told them about the four celebrity wardens, Alistair Therrin, Callum made no reaction to that one when Avos told him, everyone knew who Alistair Therrin was and Callum had no business discussing it. Then there was the dwarf Sigrun whom it seemed was in the deep more often than not then there was Oghren, Callum had met Oghren the man was a hoot he really was and finally Velanna, these four had served with the Hero of Ferelden. Then he had told him about some of the personalities. There was the lovely Alessandra Howard, in fact Avos had steered him over to where she had been training to meet her once Callum had been given the all clear by the Keeps senior healer. There was something about her that reminded him of someone, someone he had not seen in a few years. They seemed to hit it off and he had appreciated Avos introducing them. Then there was this man. 

Henri-Julien Barrows, Avos had said he was one of the few senior wardens in the keep and despite his disposition generally knew what he was talking about. So now he looked to the other man and not the loudmouth. "How long before the Templars come looking for him Ser Barrows?" He asked "and would Kinloch Hold need to be informed we are coming." Callum emphasised the "we" 

"You will not be allowed through the door!" Daniel snarled a little "Better they collect him from here i said i can make the arrangements, and unlike Ser Barrows i know how a circle works.

"But i am not asking you Hunter. I am asking a senior warden not a junior wannabe."  Callum did not take his gaze from Henri "you stopped Stefan from hurting us i take it?" Callum had felt the prickle of electricity on the back of his neck but had been too angry at the time to realise Stefan had unleashed a panic formed bolt and  that would have just made the other man even more determined to pack his nephew off to the gallows "then i ask again, how long before the Templars come to my mothers house and then here to look for him?

Somewhat irritatingly, order was not restored immediately upon Henri-Julien's interjections. Instead, it required one more plea from Callum's brother to persuade the giant of a man to release Daniel, shoving him away with enough force to cause the other man to stagger. Then, moving to beside the young boy, Callum crouched down so that he could kiss the child's pale forehead.

"He is not going to Kirkwall." He aimed the staunch declaration towards Daniel before addressing his brother. "Liam why don't you take Stefan for a little stroll round the garden, I'll be here."

"He should not be unaccompanied!" Daniel protested.

"Where's he going to go!" came Callum's immediate rejoinder, not even waiting for Henri-Julien to intervene. "There is only one way in and out of there."

Callum's brother, Liam, stood up and reached out for Stefan's hand. "Come on, Stefan," he coaxed his son onto his feet before shooting a glance towards the two quarrelling men. "You keep him away from my boy Callum, I've heard what these Kirkwall Templars can be like, him though," with a jerk of his head, Liam indicated Henri-Julien, who resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Him? Who, pray tell, was him? "Seems to know whats what more than the other one."

Oh, so the man has some sense, at least. That was an unexpected surprise. 

However, with Liam and Stefan removed, some semblance of peace fell over the immediate area. A peace which Daniel immediately had to ruin by stepping forward to lecture Callum once more.

"He cannot be where his family lives Ser Kennedy."

An incredulous snort sounded from Callum. "But you would have me let you cart him off to a place that is alien to him merely because our fathers family is from there?"

"Ser Barrows is not authorised for this."

Inhaling deeply through his nose, Henri-Julien merely pressed the pad of one forefinger between his brows, welcoming the soothing pressure which helped to stave off a Maker-sent headache. Why was dealing with Daniel always a Maker-sent headache? For one brief discomforting moment, Henri-Julien wondered if this was how Alistair felt about dealing with him... but he swiftly dismissed the thought. He was, after all, always right. Daniel, on the other hand, was always wrong. That was the key difference.

"More than you i suspect," Callum snarled back. Ah, so the sense of one brother flowed in the other. That would make things somewhat easier. "And if the Templars of Kirkwall are so bloody amazing why did you leave to be joined to the order? You weren't blighted."

Now that was something which Henri-Julien had not known. His eyes sprung open and he levelled a piercing stare on a clearly uncomfortable Daniel.

"My business our past is not prevalent to why we become wardens," he insisted, weakly.

"Good then shut the hell up because you are not a templar anymore." Breathing heavily, Callum focused on Henri-Julien, clearly seeking some form of reassurance. Even if Henri-Julien had possessed that type of demeanour, he had none to give. There was only ever one conclusion to a child manifesting magic in the presence of Templars: the Circle.

"How long before the Templars come looking for him Ser Barrows?" Callum asked of him. "And would Kinloch Hold need to be informed we are coming." There was no mistaking the deliberateness of the word 'we'. 

"You will not be allowed through the door!" So fond of the sound of his own voice, Daniel could not resist interjecting once more. Apparently serving in the Gallows entitled one to speak on behalf of all Circles across Thedas. "Better they collect him from here i said i can make the arrangements, and unlike Ser Barrows i know how a circle works."

Irritated into reacting, Henri-Julien tsked beneath his breath. What did this man think a Knight-Tracker did? Skipped through the summer meadows singing the Chant of Light? No, a Knight-Tracker tracked across vast distances, and, where necessary, escorted apostates to the nearest Circle. Even before Henri-Julien had been Joined and travelled through Orlais, he had regularly visited Kinloch Hold and Jainen. He knew just as well as Daniel how a Circle 'worked'.

"But i am not asking you Hunter. I am asking a senior warden not a junior wannabe." It was disconcerting how Callum delivered his scathing rebuke to Daniel without lifting his gaze from Henri-Julien. Still, Henri-Julien was not above rewarding the recognition which his title was due. He bestowed an approving nod of his head towards Callum.

"You stopped Stefan from hurting us i take it?" Look at that! Respectful and astute. It was more than Daniel had ever shown towards Henri-Julien. "Then i ask again, how long before the Templars come to my mothers house and then here to look for him?"

Alas, as much as Henri-Julien admired the repeated dismissals of Daniel, it did not change the fact that everyone here needed to be summarily chastised. This was not a some gossiping tea house where accusations could be hurled with wild abandon. Neither was a Templar, even one as irritating as Daniel, obliged to tolerate an interrogation of the very specific ways and means of their duties. And, perhaps most importantly, Henri-Julien did not deal with intermediaries.

Instead, he turned away from the pair and approached the father and little boy. His expression was severe, as was required for so serious a duty, but his voice was even. He did not seek to rile but neither would he tolerate refusal.

"Your son must be taken to a Circle," he began, "for your safety, but also his own." Whatever most people thought of Knight-Trackers, they were not obliged to be cruel and unfeeling. Henri-Julien had conducted this conversation many times and he knew that even the most devout parent could forget the teaching of the Chant when faced with the reality that they would never see their child again. "I am--" He faltered, realising the mistake in the use of tense. Still, after all this time, it hurt to be deprived of that role - even now with all that had evolved in his beliefs. "I was a Knight-Tracker before I was Joined. I will take him to Kinloch Hold. He is Fereldan; he will go to the Fereldan Circle."

He did turn then to address Callum. "You have no right to accompany him," he informed him, brushing aside any attempt to interrupt, "but I can see that you will not trust that he is escorted to Kinloch Hold if you do not witness it with your own eyes." A very pointed glare found its way to Daniel who had, undoubtedly, made this entire situation worse ten-fold. "You may join us; his father cannot." And on that, Henri-Julien would not be convinced otherwise. It was a mercy, in fact, though few parents accepted it as such.

"Unless you wish the Amaranthine Templars to seize him," and they would seize the boy given that his father had spirited him away to Vigil's Keep of all places, "you will be ready to leave within the hour. I will..." He pursed his lips, considering what he would owe to ensure this whole mess did not backfire on the Order, "ask Knight Lieutenant Silvestrie to confirm that the child has, indeed, been brought to the Circle. That should satisfy them."
"Uncle Callum angry with us papa?" Stefan asked sitting by fathers side. 

"No love" Liam put his arms round his sons shoulders and dropped a kiss on the top of his head "He's not angry with us. I doubt he ever could be angry with you hmm?" He might with me for bringing you here though, Liams inner voice sighed. 

When the magic had so suddenly  manifested it came as a shock and so out the blue that time had seemed to freeze around them all and that was when they realised the tree had caught alight from the lightening Stefan had unleashed. Liam reacted as any father would, well any father who loved his son would. So lost in his own thoughts he didn't realise that Henri-Julien was standing before him until he spoke. 

"Your son must be taken to a Circle," he began, "for your safety, but also his own." That was a little more humane that Liam had come to expect at the moment. "I am--" He faltered, then corrected himself "I was a Knight-Tracker before I was Joined. I will take him to Kinloch Hold. He is Fereldan; he will go to the Fereldan Circle."

"Thankyou Ser." Liam muttered although it didn't make him feel any better now. He did look up as the Warden turned to address his brother and as soon as the words left his mouth, Liams heart broke. 

"You have no right to accompany him, but I can see that you will not trust that he is escorted to Kinloch Hold if you do not witness it with your own eyes." Any protest or arguement Callum might have made vanished as he noticed the very pointed glare aimed not at him, but at a now seething Daniel.  "You may join us; his father cannot." Callum dismissed the existence of the other Warden as he saw his brothers face and slowly got to his feet and made his way over. 

"Unless you wish the Amaranthine Templars to seize him,"  Henri explained in a matter of fact way  "you will be ready to leave within the hour. I will..." he paused stopping to consider something "ask Knight Lieutenant Silvestrie to confirm that the child has, indeed, been brought to the Circle. That should satisfy them."

Callum nodded his thanks at Henri-Julien, to be honest if the senior warden had not shown up he might well have taken his nephew and gone as far as he could with him. Sense soon overrode him though, He was a Grey Warden, he could hunt of the land, after all both he and Liam had done so in their flight to Redcliffe and then on thier way to Denerim during the blight, but Stefan was a child, it would be a hard life for him and, unless Callum found an apostate then he did not know the first thing about keeping his nephews magic hidden. 

As Liam stood defeated in his plan to save his son he looked up at his younger brother "I..." Words failed him and Callum caught him as he sobbed on his shoulder. "i am sorry brother i have just made it worse." 

"You wanted to be able to see your son." Callum whispered "I am sorry i could not do what you wanted, Say your goodbyes big brother then go home. Tell him you love him and will always love him and that it isn't his fault but then go home and don't look back,

Callum watched as his nephew and his brother had thier goodbyes and blinked rapidly for a moment or two before his brother walked away. Callum watched his nephew look around him and stood beside the Senior Warden "His mother is Antivan, Magic runs in her family. An aunt, an Uncle and i think a couple of cousins i dont think anyone expected it to show in her branch." Callum heaved a sigh "damn it all to hell we shall be ready when you are, if you have no objections ser i would like to take him to the mess hall, just to get him a drink and i will meet you back here with him as soon as you are able.

Whilst he waited for Henri's answer he opened his arms and the little boy ran into them and he lifted him up and put him on his shoulders. he glanced back at the other warden who looked like he might turn both men to stone. 

"By the way Hunter, you got bigger problems than a little boy, last i heard Lessa was out looking to cut your balls out from under you, and you keep your damn opinions to yourself." 
Daniel had been wrong footed by Callums question on why he had left the Templars, and he had not missed Barrows stare. He might have told them with delight had it not been for the oath he swore to the Knight Commander about not telling anyone. Right now he had to deal with this mess and he was angry, angry that his word held no weight when dealing with Templar issues and now the big oaf was treating his apostate blood as if he was a normal child, when he was anything but a normal child. He was a mage, a danger to everyone around him and this would not stand, Did the wardens have no sense of Propriety? 

"His mother is Antivan, Magic runs in her family. An aunt, an Uncle and i think a couple of cousins i dont think anyone expected it to show in her branch." He heard Callum sigh as he walked over "damn it all to hell we shall be ready when you are, if you have no objections ser i would like to take him to the mess hall, just to get him a drink and i will meet you back here with him as soon as you are able."

"Then perhaps your brother should have thought twice before marrying into a family with the curse at its heels." Daniel unkindly said ignoring the scared look of the child. He had no sympathy to give the boy. "You were lucky child, you could have killed your entire family. Think about the safe harbour the Chantry will keep you under now that, will be your saving grace.

If Stefan was enjoying being om his uncles shoulders he soon slumped as if he could hide from the mean man that was telling him things he did not understand "Is it true uncle Callum? am i dangerous to mama and papa? Adriana and Gramma and grandpa?" 

Callum was almost apoplectic with rage and through gritted teeth he asked for Henri's permission to take his leave. More to stop him from killing the other man. ignoring the mans discomfort Daniel turned to Henri "I am also going, if nothing more than to make sure that he..." he pointed at Callum "doesnt leave elsewhere and i will request the child go to Kirkwall. Far away from his family. I have heard that mages escape the Ferelden Circle on a regular basis."  he narrowed his eyes focusing on Henri and daring him to disagree. "This you cannot deny!
At least Callum did what Daniel could not: do what he was damned told. He nodded an acknowledgement towards Henri-Julien before moving to comfort his brother who could no longer hold back his tears, breaking down against Callum's shoulder.

While an emotional farewell passed between father and son - and just because Henri-Julien was not personally invested, neither was he so ignorant as to interrupt this last moment - it was Callum who explained how this unexpected manifestation had come to be.

"His mother is Antivan, Magic runs in her family." So perhaps not so unexpected. Henri-Julien could feel that pressure growing between his temples yet again. Why did so few take into consideration their bloodlines when procreating? It was not difficult to make reasonable predictions! "An aunt, an Uncle and i think a couple of cousins i dont think anyone expected it to show in her branch." Henri-Julien swallowed against the soft growl of disapproval burbling at the back of his throat. Perhaps the Chantry should exert some intervention into the matter of procreation amongst the general populous. Clearly, they were too stupid to handle such matters by themselves.

Fortunately, Callum did not choose to share anything further about his family. Sighing, he added, "Damn it all to hell we shall be ready when you are, if you have no objections ser i would like to take him to the mess hall, just to get him a drink and i will meet you back here with him as soon as you are able." He opened his arms and his nephew leapt into them. He clambered up onto Callum's shoulders without hesitation, clearly accustomed to gaining that perch. 

Of course, Daniel could not help himself. "Then perhaps your brother should have thought twice before marrying into a family with the curse at its heels."

Henri-Julien wasn't certain what annoyed him more: that Daniel was still talking, or that Daniel had said aloud what he himself thought. Although, the realisation came somewhat belatedly, had he given any thought to the consequences of what might have happened between himself and Velanna if they were not Grey Wardens? Not that they would likely have ever met... but the discomforting point remained: the notion of a choice in such matters - of the heart, he supposed, though he was not yet READY to affirm such sentiments despite the name which Velanna used for him - was quite deceptive. Sometimes, it was no choice at all. It simply was.

Fortunately, before Henri-Julien could become hopelessly entwined wrestling the harsh reality of agreeing with Daniel and the philosophical introspection of his heart's choices, the other man opened his mouth yet again.

"You were lucky child," he addressed Stefan directly, "you could have killed your entire family. Think about the safe harbour the Chantry will keep you under now that, will be your saving grace."

Oh, and people had the nerve to suggest Henri-Julien had no tact! Evidently realising that there was no reasoning with Daniel, Callum spat, "By the way Hunter, you got bigger problems than a little boy, last i heard Lessa was out looking to cut your balls out from under you, and you keep your damn opinions to yourself."

"Leave now, Warden," Henri-Julien ordered Callum, gesturing in the direction of the Mess Hall. "If you do not return to the gate within an hour, my part in this is done." It was not a threat, just a simple statement of fact. He would not be embroiled in harbouring an apostate child. He would assist only insofar as the laws of the Chantry were observed. 

But of course, Daniel took that as an invitation to interject. Again. "I am also going, if nothing more than to make sure that he..." He gestured towards the retreating back of Callum, "doesnt leave elsewhere and i will request the child go to Kirkwall. Far away from his family. I have heard that mages escape the Ferelden Circle on a regular basis." He glowered at Henri-Julien as if holding him personally responsible for those breaches in the Circle. "This you cannot deny!"

"I do not deny it," Henri-Julien parried, deliberately bland in his response, "but neither has Kinloch Hold ever burned to the ground." The words 'like your Circle' hung in the air between them. "It is curious how passionately you invoke the name of the Gallows, Ser Hunter, without ever giving pause to either Starkhaven or Ostwick." In all his years service to the Chantry, Henri-Julien could never recall being so passionately devoted to a Circle. Perhaps that was a sign of his duties as a Knight-Tracker or perhaps it was a reflection upon Daniel and his obsessive nature. He had not yet decided.

The inclination to assert his authority over Daniel was strong. Regardless whether the other man recognised it or not, Henri-Julien did outrank him as a Grey Warden. He had outranked him as a Templar as well but it was blatantly obvious that Daniel did not consider Henri-Julien to be a Templar. Unfortunately for Daniel, Henri-Julien did not accept opinions regarding his divine duty from anyone less than the Maker himself.

"You may accompany us," Henri-Julien agreed, knowing full well his agreement had not been sought. That, too, was telling. At the very least, he would have expected a devout Templar to have respected the hierarchy of the Order of the Grey in the same way as the Templar Order, at least for a few months. Yet Daniel had barely, if at all, shown such respect. Almost as though he believed that was was exempt from the clear (and stupidly basic) chain of command.

But if Daniel thought that he had 'won', Henri-Julien made sure to dash that thought. Hard. "We can spend some time training together. It does take some practice to accurately sense when a child apostate is unknowingly about to call on their mana." It had not escaped Henri-Julien's attention that Daniel had been as taken aback by the bolt of lightning as both Callum and Liam. But they did not have the same training as Daniel. Then again, Daniel did not have the same training as Henri-Julien, but apparently that training was irrelevant.

"In an hour by the gates," he reiterated over his shoulder as he began to walk away, preparing to fetch the necessary supplies and - Maker protect him - inform Velanna of this strange turn of events. "Make your request if it pleases you, Daniel, but I have made my decision. The Warden-Commander will uphold it. So unless you wish to bring the Knight-Commander of the Gallows herself here, we are going to Kinloch Hold." As if a lowly knight like Daniel had ever even spoken with the notorious Knight-Commander Meredith.
Stefan had, it seemed, endeared himself to a couple of the warden ladies, and one or two of the mages, who seemingly sensing what had happened had occupied him with little tricks whilst his uncle got him a drink and a sandwich. Although Callum wasn't really watching the interaction, he was keeping an eye on the water clock, He himself ate little, he had been hungry but when Liam had appeared out of the blue it had chased his hunger away. 

He wasn't sure where he had heard Barrows had been a Templar but, he did seem to have more of a way about him then the other one and whilst Callum had only thrown at Hunter the gossip from the other recruits that had come with him, he did notice the distinct uncomfortable expression, maybe he had been kicked out of the Templars? did they even do that? it gave him a headache thinking about it, and besides he had more important things on his mind right now and as he glanced at the clock once more, he tapped his nephews shoulder and pointed to his shoulders, the young man happily clambered up and waved goodbye to the small group that now waved back at him and Callum carried his nephew out to the stables. 

He set his nephew down and whilst he looked at the horses stroking Artos whom he knew well Callum looked away for a moment. Hunter really knew how to start that temper of his that he was trying so hard to keep under control. There were not many things that got his rage up but scaring his nephew was one of them. He looked to the havens wondering if this was a bad joke, If the wrongs he had committed in Denerim were coming back again to bite him on the ass. The Maker had a sense of humour that was for certain. 

"Stefan, come here a moment love." The little boy wandered over and sat beside his uncle watching the horses "You know that, when daddy said goodbye he meant it don't you?" Stefan nodded "and that where we are going to take you, that is going to be your new home?" He nodded again still looking at the horses. Callum reached out and folded his hand around the little boys, his voice though steady had an underlying waver to it that noone ever saw or heard from the big man "you also know that you will not see mummy and daddy, grandma or grandpa, Adriana or me again?

Stefan looked at the ground and swallowed "Why?" he asked. 

Callum didn't claim to know how the circle worked but it had been Anton that had told him what happened, he just never paid it much mind until now. "The Circle will become your home and your family.

"But i have a family, why can't i stay with you Uncle Callum?"

"Oh sweetheart," Callum set him on his knee and drew him against him "I wish it didn't have to be so, i wish that i could take you with me and you live with us all the time, but it not the way of things, Ser Barrows the nice warden that spoke to you and daddy?" Stefan nodded "he said that it will keep you safe, and the circle has rules just as mummy and daddy have rules." 

"Will you all forget me Uncle Callum?" 

Callum shook his head vehemently "None of us will forget you Stefan."

"Adriana might"

"She wont." Callum promised although he was now painfully aware that once news got back to the Amaranthine or Denerim Garrisons they were going to be watching Adriana very very closely. Stefan did not, however need to know that. "I'll make sure she wont and mummy and daddy will make sure she wont.

The little boy so scared at what he had done and not knowing what was going to happen looked up at his uncle with big dark green eyes swimming "I love you uncle Callum." Callum swallowed hard and held his nephew to him, 

"I love you too lil man"  Callum noticed Daniel walk up and stand across from them and stand as if he was guarding a prisoner. "Stefan give Artos this carrot as soon as Ser Barrows arrives we will be on our way." he let his nephew hop down and take the carrot to his horse then he looked at Daniel "he's not a prisoner hes a scared little boy and you are not a templar you are a Grey Warden, act like it."

Daniel looked at him and narrowed his eyes Callum met his gaze, a hard stare met a cold one. 
Daniel had seen the giant walk to the stables, he had also noted how close to the horses that the boy got and he believed the big man would at any given moment scoop the mage up and ride away. That was why he was standing there now, If they escaped then he would cut them down, both of them and be damned with it all. 

"He's not a prisoner hes a scared little boy and you are not a templar you are a Grey Warden, act like it."

"Your brother brought this upon you had he not acted as he did then the mage would be in the care of the garrison now. As it is we have to take him to Kinloch Hold and hope the Amaranthine Chantry agree with it." Daniel coldly said and met Callums gaze with one of his own. Although he was giving an indifferent look the dark green eyes that stared back at him were cold. It made Daniel shift a little. Callum got up and brought Artos out of his pen and started saddling him.

"Give me that brush Stefan." He directed and started to brush the horses neck "Now you do it, just as i showed you."

Daniel heaved a sigh and stepped forward "My words were harsh earlier Ser Callum, i just..." Callum raised his head and held him in that same cold gaze he had held him before "I just want you to see this will be the best for him. He will get an education be taught things that not even the best tutors in Orlais could teach him." He stepped forward "Brother....."

"Not your brother." Callum replied "and you stay where you are where i can see you and keep an eye on you, because if you raise your bow or dagger to harm my nephew i will happily go to the gallows for what i will do to you.

Daniel ran a hand over his head and walked back to the wall where he had been standing and now lent against it. He kept a neutral expression as one of the mages walked over and handed Callum a kit bag "Thats got supplies enough to see you to Kinloch Hold and back and er, theres a little something for the lad in there. Cook thought he might like something sweet." 

"What circle you from Marsha?" Callum asked out of curiosity. 

"Ostwick" She replied "why?"  Daniel lowered his head a little as she replied and made out he was studying something on the ground, 

"Just wondering. Thanks this will save Ser Barrows from collecting it." 

"Oh he ordered it to be prepared and brought to you." Marsha waved at the little boy once more and then gave Callum a slow rub on his arm sympathetic. "He'll be looked after Callum if you need someone to talk to when you return, so you know what to tell your brother and his wife come find me," and with that she walked away.

Daniel made himself busy with getting another two horses ready waiting for the sound of Barrows seeing as they were here when he had ordered them to be. 
Privacy. A laughable concept in Vigil’s Keep, and more so since she and Henri-Julien had returned from their stolen personal voyage. While Velanna had been prepared to revert to such things as sleeping alone and not having the time with Henri-Julien in their private garden, she was not prepared to be interrupted by shemlen nonsense when she was, well, ready for gardening.

As soon as she heard yelling in the courtyard she was sure that their stolen moment was not to be, even before she heard Henri-Julien get drawn into it. Sure enough, he was drawn off to the gates to handle whatever could not be handled without a Senior Warden. Velanna had half a mind to storm down there and set everyone on fire for the crime of denying her the fire in her belly.

As soon as she heard it was a child who had come into their magic, she knew that there was only one possible outcome to be had: someone (Henri-Julien) would be taking the child to the Circle. There was no way he was going to let a blowhard like that Daniel, whom she’d only seen in passing and Henri-Julien’s irritation, be the one to escort the child. Had it been any other apostate, Velanna would have argued for letting the local Chantry handle it with their templars, to leave the Wardens out of it so she could get back to her gardening, but she could not begrudge a child a compassionate escort, and her personal experience told her that Henri-Julien would use care with a little one.

She wasn’t so hard a person that she wished to see harm come to a youngling, even a shemlen one.

Displeased though she was, it was nothing compared to getting drawn in, herself, to this shemlen business of carting the young one off to their Circle. She swore many an oath to the Dread Wolf, and a few to Henri-Julien as well, for this as she packed what things she needed for an extended trek across Creators-forsaken Ferelden. Truly, she would prefer to cross the Veil and back again.

So it was that she stomped out to the gates, her vallaslin twisted in agitation, in the shemlen trappings of her Warden blues. She spared no one her glare, especially the two idiots who were bickering, as she crossed her arms over her chest and huffed a sigh, more worked up than she had been when she was denied her afternoon of tending the garden.

Callum was, an enigma, he could be a likeable fella, would even go out of his way to have someones back, but then there was this dark streak within, to be sure he was not sure where it came, from. A few years ago he had discovered that his father, his biological donor, not the man he called dad, was a raider on the Amaranthine Ocean off the coast of Orlais. Apparently he had quite a temper too, and it had manifested in his youngest. There were plenty who had seen and did see the nicer side of the giant, but there were a few who had seen his darker side, and right now, Daniel was crossing that line that would have the giant doing something he would not regret, but would give his nephew and image of him he would not want, so for now he occupied himself with preparing his nephew for the reality that lay ahead. 

He ignored any comment Daniel threw his way and it was only when Stefan moved behind him that he took any notice of what was going on around them. "Uncle Callum, is, is that lady a...a Dalish?" 

Callum looked round and brought himself a little straighter, Stefan had seen the Elves before, the city elves, indeed his grandmothers cook was a city elf, ask her anything about the Dalish and what she thought was not for the ears of children. "Stefan don't stare." Callum whispered. 

"Sorry Uncle Callum it's just, she's really pretty," 

Out of the mouth of babes. He thought. Kids had this innocence about them, Stefan was only six but he knew something or someone pretty when he saw them. "Senior Warden Velanna," Callum inclined his head in respect and told the stable hand to bring another horse. "My nephew Stefan, Stefan this is Senior Warden Velanna.

"Hello." Stefan called from behind his uncles legs until that is his uncle lifted him up and put him in the saddle. 

Callum hooked the pack that Marsha had given him onto his saddle and secured it. Then swung himself up and into the saddle behind his nephew, all the while keeping a stone cold glare on Daniel. One he wanted to Keep his nephew as close to him as he could for however long he had left with him, and two, he wanted to make sure this warden did not steal the lad out from under him and ship him off to the Gallows, Callum got the feeling that if Daniel could do that and defy Henri-Julien at the same time, he would do it.  

He had been, warned, if that was the right word to use about Velanna, he had been told that she had little tolerance for Shemlen things, not that he blamed her one bit on it but he was also of the opinion that the animosity between humans and the Dalish would not go away anytime soon. There was fault on both sides, of that he was sure, but getting both sides to see that would be like pulling teeth from a Phoenix, deadly, dangerous and an utter waste of time. He'd have more chance of seeing s Griffon fly again then acknowledgement of fault by both sides. Still he would not tread on her patience because apparently she did not have a lot of it. 
Daniel had come here to spy for the order, no one said he had to make friends in the meantime. He was sure that did not come up in any mission brief he had. he was simmering over the way the other Templar. what a joke, had pulled rank on this and his overtures to Callum had been met with short thrift and looks that could turn even his Knight Commander to stone, if that was ever possible. How dare that other Templar insinuate he did not care about the fate of Starkhaven, or give a thought to Ostwick. So when the apostate muttered something about pretty lady, Daniel turned from where he was finishing saddling his own horse and looked straight into his worse nightmare. 

Not only was this yet another Mage that stood before him, but a bloody Dalish to boot. Honestly the world would be better off in his opinion if the Chantry moved in, took all the Dalish mages and threw them in the tower and buried thier heathen gods once and for all. He didn't say anything, but he could not hide his disgust, his top lip curled a little before he reigned it in. Intolerance was not something the Wardens welcomed and instead he swung himself him his saddle and moved his horse behind Callums. 

Many was a night that his mother had told him and his older brother and younger sister stories about the dales and how the Chantry had reclaimed them from the Elves that sought to usurp the Chantry's teachings. Of course it did not occur to him that it was in fact the other way around, and that promises made to the Dalish were broken because the Orleasians wanted a land grab. It did not occur to him that the Chantry was as much at fault as the Elves were. All he could see was a heathen, decked in the colours of the Order and a bloody mage to boot. If she was coming with them, then it meant that damn Barrows had asked her to. What in the Makers names was wrong with the man. 

You don't bring a mage to escort an apostate to the Circle, that was just asking for trouble. You especially didn't bring a heathen Dalish to do it. He would probably have to spend a few hours in the chapel after this. Snorting his own displeasure and narrowed his eyes and growled "When Barrows gets here we might be able to get going. Sooner this is done and the apostate is within the walls of the circle the sooner this whole sorry mess can be put to rest."  

Well, she might be a senior warden and she might outrank him, but there was no order in the maker created world that was going to make him accept her as his senior officer. 
Henri-Julien had a full-blown headache. And not the metaphorical kind... an actual temples-pulsing headache. It did not quite measure to the pounding withdrawal which he had endured a few months ago, but it was not very far behind it. 

Not that there was any hope he might get some relief any time soon.

Arriving at the front gates, Henri-Julien observed that all who had been instructed (and Daniel, who had invited himself along) were ready to depart. Personally, he would have preferred to travel by foot, but it was unlikely that the young boy would manage such a distance at the speed required to maintain a distance from the Amaranthine Templars.

He did wonder about explaining why Velanna was accompanying them. Aside from their personal reasons, there was the fact that he was, in theory, her escort. A handy little pretence which they had carried over from their journey, allowing them reason - albeit a flimsy one - for why they might travel together more often. Given the tensions between the Warden-Commander and Amaranthine Chantry, it made sense that none of the Warden apostates travelled alone unless they chose to do so. That Henri-Julien was a Templar naturally meant he should be assigned to the Dalish Keeper. She was, after all, the apostate who the Amaranthine Templars would consider as posing the greatest danger to others. It was true... but not due to her magic.

However, there was a much more pertinent reason: Velanna, being a powerful Dalish who had learned her magic outside of the Chantry, could provide a necessary foil to whatever accidental summoning which Stefan performed. Yes, Henri-Julien and Danny could negate much of his magic, but if, for whatever reason, they were pulled through the Veil or some such horror, it would be Velanna who would be able to address the situation.

But to explain all of this ran the risk of implying that Henri-Julien was leading this expedition by consensus. He was not. Plus there was a simmering tension between the group which he could tell was only going to exacerbate his headache. So, without so much as a glance to any of them, Henri-Julien swung himself up onto his horse, and led the way out of the gates. 


The journey itself from Amaranthine to Lake Calenhad was straight-forward: follow the North Road west through Ferelden. It would take about three days by horse-back to cover the distance. The real issue was whether the whole group would reach the Circle or if some 'accidental' deaths might occur along the way - and Henri-Julien did not consider Stefan as being the key perpetrator in that risk.

Yet when Henri-Julien did finally call a halt to that day's travel, there was yet to be any bloodshed. Then again, it was more straight-forward to avoid squabbles when occupied with the demands of riding. 

Everyone had a role in making camp. A little stream flowed nearby and Henri-Julien indicated that Stefan should accompany him. No doubt that would mean that some others may decide to join in, but there was little he could do about their respective suspicions.

"Do you know how to catch fish by trapping them?" he asked of the boy. He was not especially good at speaking with children, but if there was a purpose to the conversation, he could usually manage well-enough. "It will be some time before you are permitted to travel beyond the confines of the Circle, but your Templar escort will always be appreciative of some basic survival skills. Perhaps you will recall this experience.

With a patience which few would attribute to Henri-Julien, he showed Stefan how to make use of the features of the stream itself, directing the fish into a restricted area so that it was easier to pick them off. It still involved a lot of splashing though. Both Templar and apostate were soaked by the end... but they had five fish to cook for their evening meal.

"Go show your uncle," Henri-Julien instructed Stefan, handing him the bundle of fish. "Tell him that I said he should organise the cooking, if he knows how."
They mounted up and set off without fanfare, something for which Velanna was grateful, as she had nothing but her sour mood to offer the others with them. That the child stared prompted her to adjust her hair over her ears, something she did without thinking, and steeled herself for more unwanted attention as the journey went on. She ignored the others, falling into whatever part of the lineup her horse found natural, as it was easier to not spook the animal if she moved with it rather than order it.

Accustomed to travel now, it felt good to stretch her legs on the road again, even if they were crowded with other people to interfere with their routine. She fell easily into what had been her part of the motions of putting up camp, tending to the fire pit. She lined it with stones and directed others to find wood as she did, and when the wood was in place, flicked her wrist and lit the fire as if using magic were the only logical way to do so. When the fish was brought back to the camp, she took it upon herself to clean them with ruthless efficiency, preparing them to be cooked, even if she would not do the cooking herself. Let the men who did not fish take a turn, she decided, all without uttering a word, and took a seat beside the fire.

Once the boy was finished showing off his catch to his uncle, Velanna caught him staring once more. She sighed, knowing she would get no peace, and found a modicum of sympathy for the child who was being treated as a cursed thing by almost everyone around him.

Come, da’len.” She patted the seat next to her, folding her legs beneath her. “I only bite shemlen who deserve it,” she told him by way of trying to impart comfort. She reached back to the day she’d made her first spell, which was a far less dramatic instance than this poor boy had suffered, and knew that he would need someone to balance the fear that was being openly displayed. She pulled the faintest breath of mana to her palm and lit a small flame.

“You’re a mage?”

To some,” she answered. “If you ask the others here, I am an apostate, like yourself.” Or a demon, depending on who was asked, something she thought with her tongue firmly in her cheek. “You are going to hear a lot of yelling about what you can do. Know it is not your fault, it is fear that makes people talk as they will. And for good reason.

“I did a bad thing.”

Not at all,” she assured him, her chin lifted high and her clover-green eyes pinning him in place. “What you have is a gift, and in time you will learn to control it.” She let the fireball walk over her fingers before crushing it in her palm. “That starts with knowing where your magic comes from. You must learn to find quiet inside yourself, and feel the mana that is all around you. Feel the Veil, that gentle sheet that tucks the Fade safely away.” She waited for him to close his eyes, his little face scrunched up. “Once you can identify it, you’ll be able to grasp it gently, and control when you do. If you treat it like it is bad, you will never command it, as is your right to. You must respect it.
Daniel was not impressed, not impressed in the slightest. All through the ride to this camp the apostate had sat on his uncles horse laughing with him and the big oaf was happy to point out things here and there, as if the child would ever get to see them, oh wait this was Fereldan of course he would, thier mages escaped from thier circles. 

To make matters worse, not only did the incompetent Barrows take leave of his senses and invite the apostate to fish with him, but he even allowed the other apostate to speak with the boy and show him magic tricks. Did they all think this was some sort of jolly jape for a picnic or something? The feeling that his head might explode over took him and he walked away, glaring at the child and the Elf. 

I am here for the Knight Commander and the Chantry, i am here for the Knight Commander and the Chantry he thought several times to himself. Oh they were going to just love this! especially the whole father taking his mage son with him to what escape the divine duty of the Templars? the Makers martial arm? He had to remind himself that he was not in Kirkwall anymore, because if he was and this had happened there, well he knew what would happen, the child would be taken and no amount of pleading on the parents behalf would be listened to. 

He chopped the wood for the fire and went and took up guard duty, but his hand never strayed from his dagger and he made sure the apostates saw it, and everyone else. He wasn't watching out, he was watching in and he almost dared Henri-Julien, but his stance alone to contradict him.