Trials of the Blood. (Complete)

Callum glanced up as Stefan proudly showed him the fish he had caught with Ser Barrows. He waited for Velanna to clean them, then taking his dagger he cut the heads off, gutted them and cut the tails off. Listening to what Velanna and Stefan were saying. He had taught himself to cook. He had too, his brother was useless and unless they had dieted on berries on thier long trek from Redclife to Denerim during the Blight/Civil War then one of them needed to do it. He wouldn't exactly put himself forward as chef of the year or anything but he had never poisoned anyone. 

He glanced in Daniels direction, Well, there might be a first time. He thought to himself and was more surprised to find that he wasn't appalled by it. 

If this had happened before he became a warden, he would have spoken to a pirate associate of his, they would have taken Stefan on. Pirates always wanted mages, child mages too to apprentice to thier mages, but once that thought surfaced he quashed it again. One it was against the Chantrys laws and that would have been trouble for Liam and Magdalena, two, pirates tended to look for a very specific type of mage apparently, ones that could command the winds and the waters, or so he had been told. and three, and this was the important bit, Knight Commander Meredith might turn into a High Dragon, swoop down and take his nephew in her claw and fly to fricking Kirkwall. All because former Templar Ser i know everything Hunter sent her a letter or something. 

He reached into his pack and took out a small bottle of white wine and coated the fish as it cooked, leaving a separate one for Stefan, he was going to make this journey enjoyable for him but at his age he did not need that enjoyment. Whilst he waited for it to finish cooking he started preparing the vegetables, watching as Stefan was mesmerised by the fire that danced over Velanna' s hand. He was grateful, he had no clue when it came to this sort of thing. All he wanted to do was protect his nephew before he could not longer do it. Once those doors to the circle shut he would never see or hear from him again, he would never hear his little voice plead for one more game of hide and fetch, one more shoulder ride, one more nursery rhyme and just one more story Uncle Callum.  If this was what he was going through he could only imagine what his brother and sister-in-law were going through. 

Stefan seemed happy enough at the moment although he gave Daniel a wide berth and for keeping his attention on what she was doing, he would be eternally grateful to Velanna. When he saw Henri come over he nodded once. 

"Thank you, both of you" He quietly said although he kept his gaze on what he was doing, not out of rudeness but he was trying to bring his emotions under control. He managed it just it wouldn't do for Stefan to see his uncle crying like a baby. "Henri-Julien, am i right in assuming that, um the Denerim garrison are going to be watching my niece when word gets back to them?" By the time they got to Kinloch Hold Callum assumed his brother would have returned to Denerim with his family. He also assumed that the Templar Garrison in Denerim would be notified, he was assuming a lot but the gist of conversations led him to think that. "and will my brother be punished for this?

Callum was not a man who danced around issues, and he most certainly did not suffer fools. He was also asking the man who he believed to be better able to explain it to him. Rather than a Zealot who refused to call Stefan by his name and gave Velanna looks that could cut stone. Callum had no issues with elves, City or Dalish, he had fought alongside both at Denerim, a Dalish Elf had even saved his life, in fact she had pulled him away saving his eye. Like all her people though she didn't stick around long and he never saw her again. 

A gift.

Overhearing what Velanna said to Stefan, Henri-Julien felt his temples beginning to pulse again, and he pointedly turned away to deal with some small task so that no one could glimpse the way he scrunched up his face in pained exasperation. Honestly, he was beginning to wish that he had just insisted on escorting the young boy to Kinloch Hold by himself. 

Yet the rest of what Velanna confided was not so different to the teaching of the Circles. Mostly. He would prefer if there was less 'as is your right' and more 'control and respect' but that was an argument they could have between themselves. It had not escaped Henri-Julien's notice how Daniel glared at both Velanna and Stefan, and he was not about to give the other man any opportunity to wield the dagger which he gripped like some initiate still heavy-lidded from their vigil.

But that intensity unsettled Henri-Julien, although not in the way he presumed Daniel would wish. No, what the other man did not seem to realise was that this openly aggressive posturing only served to undermine his position. What was holding the man back from acting? It was not Henri-Julien's orders, nor Callum's threats, and especially not Velanna's presence. Daniel himself had made that very clear. So what was it? Something was strange here but Henri-Julien had no answers.

Shaking his head free of his troubling thoughts, Henri-Julien unintentionally caught Callum's eye. The red-headed man nodded to him companionably, speaking loudly enough from where he was preparing the fish for the whole camp to hear. Not that Daniel was likely to contribute.

"Thank you, both of you," his voice was thick and he kept his head down. "Henri-Julien, am i right in assuming that, um the Denerim garrison are going to be watching my niece when word gets back to them? and will my brother be punished for this?"

"There will significant complications," Henri-Julien stated with his habitual bluntness. "Your brother sought to evade Chantry law. I would not be surprised if the Templars make extensive investigations into the entirety of your family." However, he was not entirely heartless - or maybe that was just in comparison to Daniel. "That is why I will seek to obtain a letter from Knight-Lieutenant Silvestrie. His word will provide some reassurance that your brother's actions were merely poorly thought-out and not purposefully planned. The child will, after all, be in the Circle as the law dictates."

He sighed. "I recommend that your family submit fully to all aspects of the investigation. Cooperation and willingness has its own reward." A reward which would, hopefully, lead to the Templars declaring that there was no cause for concern beyond the potential for magic in the young girl. But the older she got, the less likely she was to manifest. 
If Daniel thought that he was going to intimidate Velanna by waggling his, well, knife around, he was to be disappointed. Velanna paid him only as much mind as it took to determine that she was not going to be cowed by his bravado. Let him expend the energy on a useless task; she would not. She devoted it to the scared child beside her. Perhaps she did not care for children, but uselessly scaring them served no purpose, templar or mage.

The other man, Callum, while a bit of a simpleton, was much more sensible. He did not raise a fuss, instead tending to the cooking as he was asked to. While he did so he exchanged words with Henri-Julien, thanking them both for their help with the boy. Velanna did not bother responding as she saw no need apart from niceties that were rather pointless in this situation where no one really wanted to be doing what they were doing at all.

Henri-Julien attended to his questions with more patience than Velanna thought necessary. Callum’s brother had been a fool to come to the Grey Wardens for protection. They had no vested interest in helping a child mage. All it did was drag his brother into a mess, and take valuable time Velanna could have spent finding excuses to be in the garden. Needless to say she was not amused with any of it.

Breathe,” she told the child, “become accustomed to the feeling of this new sense around you. If you are scared of your gift, you will not learn to control it.” Lightning, as it seemed he would favor, was a tricky element to control, as was fire, and she offered the best advice she could manage. Of course, it helped her to know that Henri-Julien was nearby. She trusted him above any other, save herself. “Think of a tiny spark, and imagine it in your hand. You must always cast with intention.” Never mind that Velanna was not always capable of doing the same, the greenery around the keep a testament to that. She watched the child—his name did not seem important—make the spark, it popping and fizzling over his hand. “Smaller. You can do it. You control it, not the other way around. Respect that it is part of you, like breathing or the blood in your veins.” When he made the spark successfully, the lightning dancing across his palm under his intense concentration, she ordered, “Now put it out. Let learning not to cast be the most important thing you take away today.” It engulfed his hand at first, but Velanna showed him once more how she commanded her fire in the same way, letting him sense the movement of the Fade around them. She was not worried, with Henri-Julien so close.

She lifted her voice to the others, “A scared mage is a dangerous one. I would expect a Circle templar to know this,” she scolded. The boy proudly breathed, staying calm, and he did as he was told, safely snuffing out the electricity. “We do no service to him by making him afraid of himself.
"Breathe,” he heard the elf tell the child. “become accustomed to the feeling of this new sense around you. If you are scared of your gift, you will not learn to control it.” Daniel shook his head incredulously, stupidity, he was surrounded by stupidity “Think of a tiny spark, and imagine it in your hand. You must always cast with intention.”  He clenched his fist and his other hand gripped around his dagger, was this damn Dalish deliberately trying to bring something through? “Smaller. You can do it. You control it, not the other way around. Respect that it is part of you, like breathing or the blood in your veins.” Who the hell did she think she was? “Now put it out. Let learning not to cast be the most important thing you take away today.”  when she raised her voice to everyone that was the last straw for the former Templar, “A scared mage is a dangerous one. I would expect a Circle templar to know this, We do no service to him by making him afraid of himself.

"And you are not a circle mage elf, enough of the games less you and the boy draw something through we might all regret." Daniel growled a little "boy you do not have a gift, it is not a present that is given to you on your birthday or Wintersend, it is a curse, nothing more nothing less. The circle will watch over you as will the templars but make no mistake, it is not a gift." Stefan's eyes went wide and he began to shake "You could have killed your entire family and if i see one more parlour trick coming from you i will act on it."  Stefan got up and ran to his uncle sobbing into his legs.

Daniel took the plate of food from the side and went and sat alone seething and fuming, the sooner the boy learnt that he was a danger to all around him the better off he would be.
"And you are not a circle mage elf, enough of the games less you and the boy draw something through we might all regret."

Callum set the food out for people to take as Daniel began his tirade. He didn't pay the other man any heed for now.

"boy you do not have a gift, it is not a present that is given to you on your birthday or Wintersend, it is a curse, nothing more nothing less. The circle will watch over you as will the templars but make no mistake, it is not a gift."

Callum saw his nephews reaction and began to take notice. Anger began to seep through his veins and it was like watching a volcano begin to simmer.

"You could have killed your entire family and if i see one more parlour trick coming from you i will act on it."

Callum caught his nephew as he ran into his legs sobbing his little heart out. Were all Templars this damn cruel? or just this one. He brought himself down to Stefan's level and cupped his hands around his face "Listen to me spider monkey." He used his old nickname for the lad "do as Warden Velanna said, breath and calm. breath and calm." The little boy did as his uncle said the soothing voice of his favourite uncle reaching him "When Uncle Jorge has the breathing problem what does he do?

"Breath and calm." Stefan stammered. 

"Thats right." He steered Stefan to a seat beside him and felt his jaw throb. "Now eat this, need your strength up."

"Where are you going?"Stefan asked as his uncle got up. 

"I wont be far you just stay there and eat your dinner." Standing to his full height he walked over and muttered to Daniel "With me now you and i are going to have a little chat.

When Callum had led the other Warden out of earshot of his nephew he lent against the trunk of the tree with his back against the wall "I am going to say this only once and i want you to take in what i am going to tell you and remember it. What you said to him was uncalled for, there are some truths a child is not ready for."

"Spare me your mage psychology" Daniel spat "You know nothing of what can happen"

"Maybe not, but you did not need to say those things you are not a priestess nor are you a Knight Commander or First Enchanter." Callum stood up and stepped into Daniels space "Let me be clear about this, if anything happens to my nephew at your hand, i will destroy you I will not kill you but i will take everything you love away from you and see how you like how it feels to be isolated and alone." Daniel started to laugh "i will find out where your family in Starkhaven are and i will have someone take thier most precious child from thier home and have them taken far far away.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Daniels eyes narrowed "To threaten me like this."

"I am not threatening you Hunter I am promising you." Callum stepped back "Not one more word to him, you do not speak one more unkind word to him." Callum held the mans gaze with his own for a long time and turning he returned to where his nephew was sat and grabbing a plate of food he sat himself on the ground beside the little lad and sung a line of a rhyme that his grandmother would sing to him and his brother when they were little. Stefan scooted next to his uncle and smiled at the song. 

Callum only sung one verse, he thought if he did the whole thing he might get a tree vine stick in his throat or something. But it calmed Stefan and that was enough. 

"Uncle Callum, do you believe i am cursed?" Stefan asked. 

Callum looked down at his nephew and shook his head "It is a gift from the Maker we are taught. I believe you have just a gift, one that will help others if you let it. The moment you do not wish to help others and use it in anger, then it becomes a curse." Stefan nodded. "Your father acted out of love Stefan, he did not want to loose you and he did not know what he should do. It was not the right course of action to take but, it was an understandable one. One any father in his position might have done if it meant he wouldnt loose his son or daughter." 

"Daddy is in trouble then." 

"I don't know, i can't answer that, but you carry on listening to Lady Velanna until we get you to Kinloch Hold. She is only trying to help you Stefan, Be guided by Ser Barrows, and don't take to heart what Ser Hunter said." Callum forked some fish "his opinion is not relevant in the grand scheme of today.
This was intolerable. Never one to welcome company at the best of times, Henri-Julien was swiftly discovering that not only being accompanied, but accompanied by a group of people who loathed one another, was a very particular type of torture. No wonder that he had preferred the solitude of being a Knight-Tracker.

Yet Henri-Julien bided his time. He bided his time while Callum and Daniel held a snarling exchange between themselves some distance from the camp; he bided his time while Callum sang to and talked with his nephew; he bided his time while Callum oversaw Stefan take his rest in the tent.

Then, Henri-Julien acted.

"Velanna, cast thorns around Stefan's tent," he instructed. Not ordered but instructed. Perhaps it was only a matter of semantics, but his intention was not to rile or impose his authority. He simply wished that the one who possessed the most relevant ability make use of it.

He turned to the two men, silencing any objections. "The boy will be better protected than any other traveller on the North Road tonight," he said to Callum. None would penetrate the thorns which Velanna could summon, though whether the sharp barbs were due to her talent or temperament was a different discussion entirely. Equally, the thorns would also prevent the boy from wandering off, something which led Henri-Julien to address Daniel. "He will not be able to escape, either physically or through casting." Daniel's behaviour revealed he recognised how powerful Velanna was: a newly manifested child would not outwit a skilled Dalish Keeper. "And if something should occur? I am here." He had the utmost faith in his own Templar abilities, even if Daniel did not. "Follow me."

He led them a short distance from the camp, within line of sight but out of earshot. He had already identified two stout branches from when he had searched for firewood earlier. The wood had been too green to burn, but it would suffice for this. Stooping down, he retrieved them and handed them to the two men.

"Fight this out," he said flatly. "No weapons other than these. I do not care what other terms you do or do not agree, save that you may not kill one another. Aside from that, do what you must to cease this constant quarrelling." He looked between them, expression hard and eyes cold. "The peace need only last until we part company," he inclined his head to indicate all of them, "but there will be peace." Then, in case they did not fully understand his commitment to this course of action, he added, "or I will have no further part in any of this. You may decide between you the fate of the child." He glanced towards Velanna. "I am her escort; she will leave with me." While Velanna did not welcome him speaking on her behalf, even when being docile, he doubted that she would argue over that particular decree. But it would not be the first time that he has misjudged her thoughts.
Daniel seemed to believe that casting of any sort was going to summon demons at any moment. She wondered if this was the attitude of most templars who spent their time in the Circles, and not out tracking. Of course she couldn’t ask that without betraying some deeper knowledge templar trackers, and therefore potentially revealing what lay between herself and Henri-Julien. So, she took his chastisement of her, and decided the best way to deal with him was to pretend he did not exist. Easier said than done, with the way he carried on.

He went on to harangue the poor child, undoing whatever good Velanna had tried to do. If he could not see that she was trying to make this journey easier on them, then let him rot in his stupidity. It was not her responsibility to do as she was doing. The child was not hers to handle.

She did note, however, that Henri-Julien seemed to be at his wit’s end with the quarreling men. The pair at their dinner, had another pissing match that she was not privy to hearing—thank the Creators—and eventually the poor child was sent to bed where surely, his dreams were to be plagued. It was almost a relief when Henri-Julien acted.

"Velanna, cast thorns around Stefan's tent," he said to her. She did not like being commanded to do anything, but she was able to recognize that this was a request of sorts. As it stood, she was disinclined to refuse. She drew the brambles from the ground, winding them into a snug nest that would be nigh impossible for a child to get through. She challenged even Daniel or Callum to find a way through without her releasing them.

"The boy will be better protected than any other traveller on the North Road tonight," he explained to Callum, before adding for Daniel’s benefit, "He will not be able to escape, either physically or through casting." Velanna crossed her arms, for she saw no fault with anything said. "And if something should occur? I am here." She had the utmost faith that his templar abilities would handle anything her magic could not, should a problem with the child arise. "Follow me," he said to the men, and she followed, her curiosity piqued.

Henri-Julien lifted two branches from the ground, far too green to burn, but sturdy enough that Velanna thought she knew what he was planning. It was a common way to let younglings work off their tempers, for that was how the men were acting. Like a pair of pre-hunt younglings.

"Fight this out," he told them without fanfare. "No weapons other than these. I do not care what other terms you do or do not agree, save that you may not kill one another. Aside from that, do what you must to cease this constant quarrelling." His clear blue eyes went hard, cold as he glared between them. "The peace need only last until we part company," he inclined his head, and Velanna took his meaning that she was to stop needling, even if her intentions were good, "but there will be peace." What he said next surprised her, as far as she was able to be surprised by anything, "Or I will have no further part in any of this. You may decide between you the fate of the child." His eyes flicked to Velanna. "I am her escort; she will leave with me."

She had the decency to wear a put-upon face as she shrugged her shoulders, like she had no grounds upon which to argue with his logic. If Henri-Julien left, she would leave with him. There was no need to further elaborate on the why. She was, after all, being docile, and would follow the instructions of her escort unless she wished to be deposited in a Circle. Because that was a very real possibility that she definitely needed to worry about. She pursed her lips to further seal the act.

With a flick of a wrist she spun her finger in a circle, coaxing a ring of tree roots to provide a boundary around the men so that their fight would stay within the confines of the area. There was no need to allow it to spill over into the camp. Then, because the fire was so far away from them, and it was obvious that they needed to see, Velanna summoned a wisp, green and glowing softly, to light the area. It fluttered harmlessly, letting a small trill as it adjusted to its new surroundings.

Let them engage in their battle to see who was the mightiest man in the camp. She had no care for who won, and in fact a part of her actually hoped for a lack of willing compliance on the part of the men. She would certainly not grieve the loss of their company in favor of time alone with Henri-Julien, even if his mood was foul. His bad moods were preferable to the company of others, after all.
The two men listened to Henri state his terms. Callum had already eyed the thorns around th tent and narrowed his eyes a little. He nodded his agreement but remained silent, the volcano within seething, he was no fool, he knew that Templars were trained to be the best fighters. Daniel however didn't know when to shut up, 

"I win this," he snarled "I take the boy, alone, you and the. elf can piss off as that is what you really want to do." He looked at Callum "and you will say your goodbyes and leave him with me.

Callum didn't sat anything he just made sure he wasn't going to loose, no matter if he lost a tooth or two. Besides if he lost this fight how was he going to look his brother and sister in law in the eye again. There was no way he was going to let this, monster of a man take his nephew. He'd die first. Callum saw the branches rise up around them then saw stars as Daniel smashed him round the back of the head with the branch. 

makers breath He blinked and shook his head and had another smack across his jaw, the blood spraying in a spittle arc. Daniel didn't even bother waiting for Henri's answer, he didn't care. as long as he got control of where the mage brat went then he really didn't care. He might have to wear the armour of the grey but he was not a Grey Warden, and the last few weeks had taught him that the Order needed to come under the arm of the Chantry and he would do whatever he had to do to make that happen. Just as the Knight Commander had told him was the ultimate goal, starting with the Wardens of the so call vigil. 

He twisted his face it a sneer and kicked Callum in the stomach and with the wood he smashed him under the jaw watching in satisfaction as the larger man fell to the floor and breathed in painful lung draw breath. 

"You are nothing but a merchant." Daniel snarled into his face as he drew his fist back and slammed it into Callums face once more "I am trained by the hand of the maker himself and if your bastard mage kin makes one more trick then i will slit his bloody throat myself. The world wont miss one more mage.

That was the wrong thing to say, and deep in his memory, he relieved a fight he had got into alongside his best friend and taking a leaf from her book, because she would never let him hear the end of this if she ever heard about it and he lost. he slammed his head forward straight onto the bridge of Daniels nose splattering that noble born nose in blood and bone. 

As Daniel clutched his nose howling Cal got to his feet and the temper exploded finally. He grabbed Daniel around the waist and lifting him up and over his head he threw him to the ground with such force that had Daniel not been wearing Armour he might have suffered more than the bruises he was going to have in the morning. Callum shook his head and began to walk away when a dagger whizzed past his head, the mans aim was off because it imbedded in a tree. Callum turned and looked at him. No weapons Barrows had said and he realised that had it missed he might have lost his eye. that had almost happened once before and he was damned if it was going to happen again. 

With a snarl that came from somewhere deep within and sounded like the bowels of the void itself he grabbed Daniel and raised him above his head, his own strength keeping the struggling man aloft. His arms shaking with the rage that coursed through him and in that moment he looked like the Callum his rivals had seen when he came looking for them when they cheated him out of a business deal. He went to raise his knee when he heard.....

"Uncle Callum! uncle Callum i can't get out! UNCLE CALLUM WHERE ARE YOU!" lightning began to flash around the clearing and Callum threw Daniel to the ground 

"You're not worth it." He seethed and sprinted towards the tent "Get these damn vines down!" He almost pleaded. his heart breaking with every sprint as he realised that there was only one place that his nephew should be. A lightning bolt crashed to the ground throwing the red head off his feet and into the tree. 

Every part of his body ached blood bruises upon bruises. "Please don't let him get to my boy." He pleaded as he saw Daniel begin to push himself up "I'm sorry little man." He whispered "I am so sorry"  


That... had not gone to plan.

But there was no opportunity to dwell upon what should and should not have happened. Instead, as Henri-Julien moved towards where Daniel still lay sprawled upon the ground, he issued his orders to Velanna. And, this time, it was orders.

"Deal with that as far as possible," he pointed towards the thicket of thorns. Shadows contorted and warped around the briars as the flashes of lightning illuminated the thicket from within. "I'll be there momentarily but it will be better for all of us if the child is calmed without a cleanse."

He drew one dagger and advanced on Daniel. Perhaps it was not honourable to confront a bloodied and injured man... but said man had brought a dagger to a fist fight. Any honour had long since fled.

Evading any attempt from Daniel to trip or attack him, Henri-Julien circled until he was able to bring the pommel of his dagger down hard against the side of the man's head, successfully stunning him. He would not be able to summon any focus to use his lyrium abilities. Then, Henri-Julien made use of his Knight-Tracker experience - learned from other Trackers and not, alas, the 'hand of the Maker Himself' - and trussed up the man using whatever ties he could source between them. Finally, simply because if he heard one more word from the man, he would not hesitate to ram a dagger down his throat, Henri-Julien balled up some elfroot and stuffed it into Daniel's mouth, effectively gagging him.

With Daniel neutralised for the moment, Henri-Julien ran towards the camp, calling to Velanna for instruction. An order, even. "What do you need from me?"
This was not going as planned. The two men were meant to take their aggression out on one another, and ostensibly it would have led to a peace brokered for all of them. That was not what happened. Daniel and Callum laid into one another, for sure, but Daniel had disregarded the rules entirely, flinging a dagger across the combat circle, after which Callum picked him up and threw him to the ground.

Velanna liked to think herself unflappable, and between Daniel’s threats and Callum’s burst of violence, she staggered back, mana at her fingers, prepared to call upon the trees to wrap them and separate them, and keep them as far from her (and also the child) as possible.

Had Henri-Julien not shouted orders, she might have done just that. "Deal with that as far as possible," he gestured toward the nest of thorns she’d wound around the child’s tent. Shadows and flashes of electricity flung chaotically as the child rent the Fade with his fears and temper. "I'll be there momentarily but it will be better for all of us if the child is calmed without a cleanse."

Easier said than done, but she vowed it would be done. Velanna dashed to the tent as fast as her legs could move. “Da’len,” she started. “I will let you out but you must calm down.” The child screamed inside, his magic wild. She crouched near the entrance to the tent, calling out to him. “Breathe.” The child was beside himself in panic, likely due to the fighting outside. “You have to stop casting,” she ground between her teeth as the charge of the child’s spells raised the hair on her skin. The thorns were not going to hold against direct hits of lightning long, and they risked fire if she left them up.

Velanna dropped the thorns away with a swish of one hand through the air, and as quick as a thought, cast an arcane shield around herself with the other. A bolt of lightning hit her square in the chest and she was tossed back, the shield evaporating, but leaving her largely unharmed, save the wind being knocked out of her. She lunged at the child, winding her arms around him. While she did not need her hands to cast, a child still required a focus.

“Let me go let me go!” he screamed out, but Velanna held tight.

Breathe,” she commanded the child, knowing that it was not the best way to calm him, but it was all she had. “You must breathe.” The Veil warped around them, but she held him to her chest so he might feel the rhythm of her own breath. “In, two, three, out, two, three,” she chanted as the child cried. He sobbed, and eventually, he began to follow her breathing pattern.

“I want Uncle Callum,” he wailed out, but the lightning stopped, and Velanna could feel him let go of the mana around them, trembling. He could not endure another outburst like this.

"What do you need from me?" Henri-Julien called as he ran back to the camp where he would find her with her arms tight around the child.

So many things, she thought. “A cleanse,” she said quietly as she loosened her arms, encouraging the boy to sit on the ground. “He is spent, his mana depleted, but we cannot risk another outburst like that." She lowered her voice, though it would do little good with the child right there. “You know as well as I how vulnerable he is in his fear.” The last thing they needed was something preying on him.

Henri-Julien did as she asked, taking the child by the hands and using all the gentleness he’d shown her when she’d requested the same for herself. The boy wavered in her arm, Velanna herself feeling slightly woozy from the effects.

Neither of them should be here,” she said shortly. Henri-Julien already knew this, and she took a calming breath so that her anger and fear would not wash over onto him. “But at least his uncle knows better than to stir a mage into a fright.” She’d had uncharitable thoughts before, and while she would not apologize for them, she did consider her mind changed. She sought Henri-Julien’s eyes, a private plea for only him to see and hear. “Do not leave us alone with Daniel. Please. Darkspawn are clear in their intent, but he is unpredictable.” No, she was not a wilting flower to be scared in the face of a fight or danger, but she was aware of what one mad templar could do, and he’d more than voiced his willingness to do it.
Callum got to his feet and looked at the tied figure and gagged for that matter of Daniel. He was out cold at the moment and that wasn't a bad thing. Callum stopped for a moment to catch his breath and winced at the sharp pains on his jaw and his head He was going to be covered in bruises. He looked around while Velanna and Henri did what he could not do, was not able to do and finding a fallen tree, he eased himself onto it. 

He didn't know what either of them had done but he knew what he had done. All he wanted to do was protect his nephew and he had just made it worse. He rubbed his brow and looked around again. Frowning a little as some of it looked familiar to him. if they had any chance of getting Stefan to the circle then they needed to leave that racist extremist behind. Even that was dangerous. Callum had checked those bonds and as good as they were, eventually they would break. 

"Uncle Callum!" he let a slight Oof go as Stefan crashed into him "You're hurt. its my fault."

"No, no its not." Callum was well aware that if Stefan thought he had hurt his uncle then he might get scared again and no one wanted that. "You didn't hurt me lil man." He saw the weariness wash over the youngster and held him as he fell asleep again. Whatever Henri and Velanna had done had zapped his energy, now back in his beloved uncles arms he fell asleep. 

Callum waited until he heard the breathing of the boy deepen and moved carefully to the grass letting the lad lay out beside him and rest his head on his lap, his arm around him. When Henri and Velanna came out, he had the impression he was not that popular with them but more than that sod over there was. 

"I never used to be so hot headed." He said stroking his nephews hair as he slept "Like most red heads i have a temper but it used to be over in a flash. The blight changed everything," He furrowed his brow as he revested memories he had no wish to really "The king sent out the call, and my brother and i along with other men and women of Amaranthine answered the call. Not aware that our lord and master had already committed treason when he butchered Tyern and Teyrnir Cousland. I saw things at Ostagar that stain my soul even now.

Callum didn't even know why he was telling them this, maybe he needed to voice it, he had kept it bottled up for years. 

"I had never met a Dalish until then, she saved my life i was left with this," He pointed to the scar on his face "Where she went i have no idea, there were no Dalish in the camp when we were there, i can only assume she had been travelling through with her group, got caught up and fought her way out. Don't know who she was and i never saw her again. We got out Liam and me, i saw them cut the grey wardens down, i saw them cut the mages down and i assume that the surviving mages made it back to the circle, maybe some escaped i don't know." He looked at the treeline "We made our way to Redcliffe, had to strip our colours when we heard from inns and gossips what Howe had done. Now i thought Ostagar was scarey, terrifying even but what i saw there," he looked down at his nephew "Hordes of undead attacking the village, they had healed us and we thought it only right that we help them. So we did, we never thought for one moment that all that chaos and death had been caused by a little boy.

Callum breathed a painful breath and winced visibly and turned his gaze to where Daniel was laying. 

"Now i get it, now i understand why mages need to be where they are looked after and guarded, as much for them as for everyone else and i have an idea. You can't take him with you, but there is a Warden outpost nearby, near an old mine, watching over a deep roads entrance, Avos told me all about it and showed me on a map where some were. I can take him there, and meet up with you by Lake Calenhad. Stefan needs to be kept calm and as long as i promise him i will return i am sure he will remain calm. He trusts you, both of you and he doesnt need his uncle getting angry at things I cannot and do not understand." He stroked Stefan's hair "This boy and his sister mean the world to me, they are my world my family is my world and i am not sure what is going to happen now, you know what people are like when they find out you have a mage child in the family. I can't do anything about that but i can do this." he motioned his head at the prone form of Hunter "It'll take me maybe a day to get there, I'll just dump him there and tell them to keep him bound until he can be taken back to the Vigil for whatever punishment is meeted out , as i will accept mine.

That Velanna was fearful of Daniel only underscored just how untenable this situation had become. There was no way that the man could continue to accompany the group to Kinloch Hold but how to be rid of him?

Thankfully, Callum provided the answer: one of the remote Warden outposts which, for the most part, were forgotten. It was within travelling distance of their current location, and more importantly, that of Lake Calenhad. 

In response to his last remark, Henri-Julien could only offer a stout nod. "It is for Commander Berlra to decide punishments, but I have not known him to tolerate this extent of conflict."

But neither Callum nor Daniel were in a fit state to begin their journey. With the young boy finally settled and sleeping, Henri-Julien turned to Velanna. "We must see to their healing," he explained. Between them, they boasted a reasonable knowledge of herbalism. It would have to suffice. "You see to Callum, I'll tend to Daniel." Needless to say, the other Templar would not be permitted within any distance of Velanna and Stefan. "I'll see what herbs I can find nearby."

He left Velanna to look through their supplies while he searched out elfroot and the like from their surroundings. When he had a sufficient amount, he returned to the camp, adding the fresh herbs to the dried quantity and whatever else Velanna had unearthed. Together, they crafted basic salves, poultices and some weak healing tonic. Henri-Julien took his half and walked over to Daniel, leaving the bonds and gag in his man's mouth but attending to the rest of his injuries as best as possible.

Once finished, he retreated to the camp once more. "A few hours to allow the healing supplies to do their work then we separate. I will take first watch." He addressed Callum directly. "You should sleep. You will need your wits about you to escort Daniel."
"We must see to their healing," Henri-Julien said to Velanna, giving her something tangible to do, something for which she was grateful. "You see to Callum, I'll tend to Daniel." She accepted this division of labor with a nod of compliance. "I'll see what herbs I can find nearby."

She found sufficient elfroot to bolster what herbs she had in their stores, and maybe used her magic to increase the growth before she cut it. Together, she and Henri-Julien managed to put together a veritable apothecary of mostly elfroot and embrium-based potions and salves.

She approached Callum with caution, not wishing to spark his temper any more than had been done already, though the man seemed appropriately contrite. “Swallow this,” she said, handing him a potion that would hopefully tend any internal injuries he might have sustained. “Chew this,” she said as she offered him some of the bare elfroot. “For the pain,” she explained.

The rest was salves and poultices, and in lieu of touching him more than necessary, she directed him where to put the various things if he was not aware of all of the injuries he’d sustained. She gave him a cautious look-over to see if anything had been missed. The last thing they needed was him not being aware of an injury and then succumbing to it. “Is there pain anywhere I missed?” she asked. She was no healer, and her magic would only do so much to let her know what was amiss.

She left him to Henri-Julien’s instructions and set about cleaning up what mess remained of their healing efforts. She packed up their supplies and put them back into their respective packs, saving aside one of the salves, just in case.

Noting the crease between Henri-Julien’s brows, Velanna held a piece of elfroot to him, but made no further comment on it. “I’ll take next watch,” she offered quietly. “Give Callum more time for his injuries to heal and you a longer sleep before we leave."
by the suns rise Callum had said goodbye to Stefan although it took him a little bit to convince the lad that he would be joining them soon. He had to take Daniel to the nearest outpost. The producing of an Antivan chocolate bar that he had been saving for a special occasion lit up the lads face and he had gone to where Velanna had stood and offered her some. 

Callum had then hoisted Daniel onto the saddle and tied his hands around the pommel before mounting Artos and taking the reigns of the other horse they had left the camp. 

It was coming up to midmorning when Daniel finally roused from his sleep and looked around him. The gag had been removed and the oaths that streamed from his mouth were enough to make the bride blush. 

"Oh shut up." Callum looked over, when Daniel refused and carried on Callum rose his voice in a rarely heard commanding tone "You will be quiet." Something that actually shocked Daniel into silence "Thank the maker for the peace." Callum murmured and returned his gaze to the road ahead,  

"Where are you taking me?" Daniel wanted to know trying to loosen his bounds but between them Henri and Callum had made sure he wouldn't be released until they reached thier destination. which would be mid afternoon at this rate. 

"To an outpost half a day away. There i have been instructed to tell the wardens there to hold you until an escort from the vigil arrives." 

"Hold me for what exactly!" Daniel scoffed. 

"Your behaviour, very unbecoming of a former templar i must say. Your actions oh and the threat to slit my nephews throat."  Callum raised one hand counting off the points on his fingers by letting them fall "disrespecting a senior officer,  contradicting a senior officer oh yeah and bringing a knife to a fist fight. You Kirkwall Templars must be really sore losers." Callum looked around him and fell silent. 

Daniel muttered what sounded like a laugh under his breath "As if i have any interest in what Barrows has to say to me or that Elf.

"The Elf has a name boy." Callum glanced at him "This is not the army, or the order or the chantry, you will respect the uniform she wears and call her by name, not Dalish, not Elf but Velanna.

"Soft on the Knife ears are you?

Daniel was goading Callum and he knew it. Henri had warned him that he might try something like this,  and Callum had to mentally nod his head to the Senior Wardens institution. Callum did a lot of things wrong he knew that, and some things were probably unforgiveable, but he could never see any time in his grey area's of his life that he had ever called an Elf anything but thier name. In fact the elven lady that cooked the most fantastic meals alongside his mother was never addressed as anything but her name and with a respectful tone, Callum was pretty sure if he or Liam had called her Knife ears they would have had thier mother boxing their ears. 

"Respectful would be a better word Hunter. and one day you might need her aid in the deep roads. So change your tone if i were you. After all our Warden Commander is a dwarf after all. so curb your views they are not welcome nor are they needed." 

Daniel shook his head "I was hit by lightning...."

"No i was as was Henri."  Callum corrected. 

"Proof of how dangerous the boy is.

"proof of how scared he is." Callum brought his horse to a halt and turned on his saddle. "You have two choices and i advise you to listen shut the hell up and shut the hell up before i knock you into next week. Your choice.

The last clear memory Daniel had was being held aloft over a raised knee and perhaps wisely he chose to shut up. It was no good anyway, they would never listen and he would be glad to be rid of them. Let them deal with the mage child, when he turned into an abomination then that was on them not him. 

The outpost was a tower, a ruined tower but a tower that had a holding cell, one single cell, used by the two wardens that were stationed here for those unfortunate enough to catch the blight. If they could be joined then they would if not then they were held in here until they were released mercifully and thier bodies burnt. it was a forgotten post really and the wardens would cycle themselves, but there was always two here, for just beyond lay a mine and in that abandoned mine lay a deep roads entrance that had not yet been sealed.  That and the Warden Commander wanted to make sure nothing else would fall into it. So for now, they kept a watch here. To say they were surprised to see two wardens approach mid afternoon was an understatement, to see one of those wardens bound and tied was an extra surprise. 

"Callum? Whats all this then?" The female warden walked over as Callum dismounted. 

"Evie. He is to be held and word sent to the Vigil for an escort where he can be held." 

"We have a holding cell we use for the poor blighted devils we occasionally come across, usually those that thought sleeping in a darkspawn mine is the best idea in the world." The other warden sighed as he joined them "Why is our brother bound?" 

Callum hoisted Daniel off his saddle and put him over his shoulder before walking through and unceremoniously dumping him on the ground. Taking his knife he cut the bounds and walked out slamming the door closed behind him. He asked for some parchment and a quill and began to write. Outlining the reasons for Hunter to be held here. When the other two heard it they stared at the now prisoner. 

"Might have gone a bit mad with the joining." Evie sighed "Sometimes does that," 

"Nothing mad about him." Callum folded the letter and sealed it "You have a raven here?

"Yup to send the weekly reports back." Alwin took the letter and headed to the area where the Raven sat. rolled the thin parchment into a tight roll and sealed it inside a metal tube that he then attached to the Ravens leg and set it free. "He could be here a while. depends on when they send someone to collect him. Then again," Alwin eyed Daniel "might even be graced with the Warden Commanders presence." 

"I welcome it." Daniel growled. 

"No one said you could speak." Callum ran his hands down his face and across his beard. "Watch that one, he's a sly git." 

"Wardens have no business doing the Chantries work for them Callum you know that." Evie sighed "However," she raised her hand to stave off any agreement from Daniel "i can understand it. The Warden Commander might have something to say about it. but you know how Dwarfs are about family and all. " She looked back at Daniel "I am from Ostwick, one of my friends came into their magic and because he resisted and his family resisted the order of the Templars he was carted off to the Gallows and not Starkhaven as we would have expected. I don't even know what happened to him, but nothing good ever comes out of the Gallows. Ostwick and Starkhaven might be a bit on the preachy side but all in all they are decent enough. I wouldn't send my worst enemy to the Gallows." 

Alwin set some food before Callum and opening the cell door put it some food and ale on the table by the small bunk and closed the door firmly behind him. Looking at Daniel he put his hands through the bars for a moment and a slight leer crossed his face and a sheet of ice danced over his hands. "Insulted Velanna too huh?" 

"Yup." Cal smirked as he watched Alwin lower his hood to show his elven ears. 

Tutting the elf joined his companions and began to tuck in. "Stupid boy" 

Callum picked at his food but ate in silence and when the sun began to set having rested and made sure Daniel was locked up tighter than a grand clerics bodice, he mounted Artos and began to make his ride towards Lake Calenhad. 
 






Having passed a fitful night, the quartet of Wardens (and one apostate-child) separated: Henri-Julien and Velanna took Stefan, bribed with a bar of chocolate, while Callum took Daniel, trussed up and still unconscious.

To try and ease the burden on each other as well as the horses, Henri-Julien and Velanna had routinely passed Stefan between them, the little boy sharing a saddle with each of them in turn. However, without Daniel, the journey was straight-forward. By the time the light was waning from the sky, they were within half-a-day of Lake Calenhad.

Mindful of the arranged plan with Callum, Henri-Julien called a halt. "We shall make camp," he declared. Yet Stefan shifted in the saddle, his face screwing up with worry over whether his uncle would know where they were. Biting back the sharp rebuke which sprang to his lips, Henri-Julien shook his head. "Your uncle knows to wait at the inn by Lake Calenhad if he arrives ahead of us. As we know to wait for him if we arrive ahead of him."

The young boy was not entirely convinced but neither was he so confident as to argue outright. In fact, once they had dismounted and built the camp, exhaustion crept up on him and he fell asleep shortly after having eaten.

With their meagre meal cleaned away, Henri-Julien let loose a heavy exhale, once again feeling the pinch of a headache. "Have you any more eflroot?" he asked of Velanna, grimacing against the ever-present dull ache. "I would like to arrive at Kinloch Hold without pulsating temples." As if that would not swiftly follow anyway.