Trials of the Blood. (Complete)

Henri-Julien, Stefan, and Velanna set out to head toward the circle tower, passing the boy between them periodically to prevent strain on any one animal or each other. The light was low in the sky, night preparing to steal the last remnants of day, when Henri-Julien said, "We shall make camp." The child’s face screwed up with worry, which Henri-Julien tried to assuage. "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."

This mollified the boy enough that he did not argue and ate dinner in relative peace. Once the meal was concluded, the boy was not long for the waking world, and passed into sleeping. Hopefully his dreams brought him only peace, as the last thing they needed was a corrupted spirit causing further chaos.

Once their things were cleared and the meal cleaned up, Henri-Julien exhaled heavily. The strain of the headache showed on his face, and when he asked for more elfroot, Velanna was already retrieving it from her pack. "I would like to arrive at Kinloch Hold without pulsating temples."

Velanna handed over what she had, both raw root and potion so he might take his pick of method of ingestion. With no one around to witness the moment of softness, she touched his face with light fingers, searching his eyes. “As if you will not find one chasing you when we arrive at your tower.

Tidying up anything that Henri-Julien didn’t need or use, Velanna added, “I’ll take the first watch so you may rest and give the elfroot time to do its work.” She dashed a kiss to his mouth, then thought better of it and granted him a more lingering one. “To make up for what was stolen from us,” she murmured before getting up to assume the watch.

They set out with the sun the next morning, using the same routine of handling the child. Velanna wondered how much of this was the normal way. If this careful peace of transporting a child was the way it usually went without the family interference.

She saved her questions for when the boy was not in earshot. The strain and stress of travel was enough for him, for all of them, without her questioning the methods in front of him.

They arrived at Lake Calenhad by midday, the sun at the pinnacle of its orbit. Leaving Stefan atop the horse for the moment, Velanna slid down to the ground, light on her feet.
It was mid afternoon when Callum arrived at Lake Calenhad. He had to track a little off the beaten track when he spotted Templars, they might have just been moving from one garrison to another for all he knew, but even so, he would rather not cross thier path. Truth be told, the more people told him how wrong his brother was and that Warden Business was not Chantry Business the more despondent he became. He was going to be in serious dutch over this. Not that he cared either way, he was more concerned with his mothers feelings on the matter, this was not going to sit well with her at all. Did Liam even think of that when he spirited his son away, had he just let the Templars come then maybe his mother would have had a chance to say goodbye to her only grandson. Now she never would and Callum was not sure he could forgive his brother for that one. 

As he saw the horses he stopped Artos for a moment and looked from the horses to the tower. The moment Stefan walked through those doors, that would be it. He would never see him again. His brother and sister in law would never see thier son again, his mother and stepfather would never see thier grandson again. All they would be would be names on a piece of parchment in the First Enchanter or Knight Commanders office.  He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. Did Liam know what he was doing? Did he realise what trouble he had brought to his family in his panic? Did he even realise that once this was over. that the templars would be watching them, watching Adriana? Callum loved his brother but right now he wasn't sure if he actually believed that the Wardens would help or if he was asking his brother to live life on the run with Stefan. 

"Uncle Callum!" 

Callum pushed those thoughts out of his head and forced the smile to his face as he dismounted Artos and caught his nephew lifting him up and, for the last time put him on his shoulders. They stood looking at the tower together. and Callum felt Stefan hold his neck. 

"I am never going to see you again am i Uncle Callum?" Stefan asked noticing his uncles mood. Callum shook his head. "Not even when i am older? Even if i have a Templar escort?" 

"No" Callum replied quietly not saying much more on it less his voice break betraying the storm of hurt inside him. He didn't know how it worked really but he did know that this would be the last time he would see his special lad. By the time Stefan was old enough to be allowed to be out under escort, he would be in the deep roads, either facing his calling or a footnote in the warden annuls Either way this was where he said goodbye. 

Callum lifted Stefan off his shoulders and set him down, then crouched down, touching his nephews face with his fingers. "Once we cross that lake, and once we go into the tower, they will take you and i cannot follow. I might be allowed in the entrance but i will be allowed no further. You understand this yes?" Stefan nodded "did Ser Henri explain it to you?" He nodded again. "So, lets say our goodbyes now and then it may be easier when we have to go in.

Stefan threw his arms round his uncles neck and sobbed into the crease of his neck and shoulder, his little body heaving with his sobs and Callum screwed his eyes up tight as his own tears began to fall. "Uncle Callum." Stefan let go for a moment and gave him a sheet of parchment. 

On which was a drawing of him with Adriana playing with thier uncle. There were two other figures there and when Callum asked who they were, Stefan shrugged "Yisa and Asa, can you say goodbye to them for me. Thats for you. Ysmir." He grinned despite his tears. 

Callum looked at the stick men drawing and carefully rolled the parchment and set it in his cloak pocket. he hadn't even thought how he was going to tell anyone. "I will." he whispered "Now, go say thankyou to Henri and Velanna for keeping you safe.

He watched as Stefan ran up and threw his arms round Velanna legs saying thankyou then stood and looked at Henri before throwing caution to the wind and doing the same to him. "No more Ysmir." Callum muttered and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands "Ready when you are Ser Barrows." 

Given that nothing else about this journey had gone to plan, Henri-Julien was relieved that Callum appeared around the time when he was expected. No sooner had Callum arrived than Stefan was already running towards him.

While the pair reunited, Henri-Julien spoke with the Templar who acted as ferryman, dispensing with his usual imperious demeanour and relying on his sheer exhaustion to convince the man that the usual rules did not apply. They were Grey Wardens; they were entitled access to the Circle. That they were escorting a newly-manifested child was almost beside the point. Almost.

Whether convinced or simply baffled by a situation which was so unusual as to not be covered in any training, the Templar finally nodded. Initially, Henri-Julien had not considered that Velanna would accompany them, but the wary sidelong glance from the ferryman was proof enough that it was not advisable to have her linger where Templars frequently visited, be it those off-duty from the Circle itself or those arriving to take up a new assignment in the Circle.

However, before he could call on the others to join him, Stefan ran up. Proving that children really have no sense of danger, he flung himself at Velanna's legs, squeezing tight as he thanked her for her assistance. Then, he turned to Henri-Julien, pausing just long enough that the man thought himself safe before repeating the action, clinging to his legs and speaking another 'thank you'. Bemusedly, Henri-Julien stared down at the tousled head of the boy, unsure what to do or say. Thankfully, Stefan soon released him and ran back to Callum, undeterred by Henri-Julien's stunned silence.

Finally, all four were aboard the row boat. The ferryman rowed them across the lake and they entered into the large entrance hall of Kinloch Hold. No sooner had Henri-Julien crossed the threshold than he issued an order that Knight-Lieutenant Silvestrie be summoned. If any of them were to escape the harshest repercussions of the Chantry, it would lie in the letter which Henri-Julien hoped the older man would write on their behalf.
Knight Lieutenant David Silvestrie had just finished his lunch break when he was summoned to the entrance and told that Ser Barrows, a Dalish Elf, a Grey Warden and a Newley awakened child had just arrived. Asking for a Sister to join him the Knight made his way to the entrance and, once introductions had been made his eyebrow climbed a little as Henri explained what had brought them here. 

David pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, trust the Knight Commander and Knight Captain to both be in Denerim today of all days. First the official bit. "Ser Kennedy you must release your nephew into our care now." He watched the red haired giant look down at his nephew. give a quick smile and a nod and turned to the Sister beside him "Sister Angelica will take Stefan to the children's wing now."

"Goodbye Uncle Callum. Miss Velanna, Ser Henri-Julien" Stefan waved as the sister took his hand and walked through the doors. talking to him to distract him before the doors closed shut. When the giant doors closed, that was it. his nephew now belonged to the circle and the big red head was not sure his emotions could take much more. 

Callum lowered his head and his shoulders visibly shook and David, who had an enormous amount of compassion for relatives of mage children steered the man to a bench. Callum had watched as both Henri and Velanna had said goodbye to his nephew. Velanna had patted his head after the hug she had got.

"Henri-Julien has told me what has happened, how it came to be that you brought him here. So i will speak plain." Callum nodded at Davids words "Your brothers actions have broken every law the chantry has. however, you did bring him here and you did see him to the circles hands that will reflect well. I cannot say what the Amarnthine Garrison will do though, i can and will write a letter on your behalf's as it is obviously a parents emotions getting the better of him." Davids eyes raised to meet Henri's, a knowing look passing between them. "My daughter is a grey warden, i know how a fathers emotions can go a little haywire at times. that being said, it may not appease the Revered mother or the Knight Captain of the Amaranthine Garrison and you should brace your family for an investigation either way.

"I see." Callum looked at the doors "He will be safe here right? He will have a good life? He won't be sent to Kirkwall?

David looked surprised "Why on earth would you think that?" then he recalled what Henri had said and uttered a silent ah "we are not in the habit of sending our mages to the Gallows i assure you." David looked around "he will have a good education both academic and in his magical abilities. He will be assigned an enchanter and will be with other children and we try and give them a childhood as much as we can. He can play in his spare time we have a garden, walled of course. The Knight Commander and First Enchanter believe fresh air is important. We used to take them to the waters edge to have a little dip in the water and exercise, but, that stopped several years ago."  David rested his hand on Callums shoulder "It may be decided that because of your brothers actions and to appease the Chantry, he be moved to Orlais."

"They can do that?" Callum scowled. 

"They can. This is highly irregular but i will write to my daughter Alessandra and let her know wether Stefan stays here or moves to Orlais. nothing will be decided for some time as it all depends on what Amaranthine decide to do. If it is deemed he can stay here all well and good, if it is decided that he must be moved to prevent his parents from trying to see him, or his uncle." Callum winced visibly "then i will let her know either way, I cannot write to you directly you understand, and my daughter is not a gossip." Callum nodded. 

"I understand and i know your daughter." He muttered. 

"I also, if that is the road taken, will not tell you what circle they would move him to, be it Orlais or Nevarra. He has a sister?" Callum nodded "and magic runs in his mothers line?" He nodded again "Again because of your brothers actions every Templar Garrison will be watching out for them. How old is she?

"Four" Callum muttered. 

"You had better let your family know to answer any and all questions from whomever they send honestly and openly," David sat forward and clasped his hands together, his fingers "You said your goodbyes?

"Before we came across.

"He will remember you Callum, and he will have the memories of you, but that is all he will have, the same with his parents and his sister. I cannot stress enough that no attempt be made to write to him or contact him. Had your brother done the right thing then. maybe. the chantry would have allowed them to write to him once a month, but that won't happen now. None of you will be able to. Treasure that memory and know that he is in safe hands with us." David once again rested a hand on Callums shoulder "He knows he was loved and that is far more than some of the children here know, that is a blessing in itself. Now, any questions?" Callum didn't trust himself to speak so he shook his head "Then i must ask you to leave and not return. You will not be allowed to cross the lake after today. "

"Thankyou Knight Lieutenant." 

"Thankyou all three of you, for having the sense to bring him here" David rose with Callum and walked the three of them to the door. "It will probably be a month before i can write you and it will be the only time i will let you know about the outcome. Should we meet when i visit my daughter please do not ask me, i would not and i will not be able to tell you anything more about him.

Callum looked around him and saw the Templars by the door. It was a cold place, there was no doubt about it. a circle of stone but, after what he had seen during the blight, and how they had treated his nephew when he had released him into thier care, and the journey on the way here, Callum had finally realised that this was the best place for his nephew. He would be safe from those who would harm him by dint of his birth, He would be a learned boy and he would not be thrown in the Gallows. Daniel may not be an exception to the rules, as it was obvious he had been moulded into those thoughts that must have sat with him from an early age, but the Templars here were not of the same cloth as Kirkwall and for that he was grateful. 

"He's a good boy Knight Lieutenant, bit mischievous but a a good boy,

"Of that i have no doubt, Goodbye Ser Kennedy." David nodded and the doors opened, once all three had left the doors closed again. 

David ran his hand around the back of his neck. Had the family been Noble born then this conversastion would have been a whole lot different. Sometimes blood made a lot of difference to the Chantry. He turned on his heel and headed to the children's wing, to welcome the lad to the circle.

Callum rested his head against his horses neck and stroked it for a moment composing himself. He glanced back across the lake then mounted up. He should really head to Amaranthine City and let them know it was done to relay what the Knight Lieutenant had said. but Henri had told him they had better return to the Vigil. He thanked them both and made it in his mind to get them a thankyou. maybe a bottle of the finest ale for Henri and a box of chocolates for Velanna. Sometimes being a former merchant had its perks. He was unaware as they all were of the storm they were still riding into and Callum would have no idea the toll of these few days would bring to his family.