I never realised how far away Antiva was, until I walked for two months through Orlais. Now, we were half way through Nevarra making a stop in Cumberland. Cassandra was ecstatic; I noticed her bounce on her heels as we entered the Nevarran border only three weeks before. Riona had informed me that Pentasghast was the name of the royal family in Nevarra. This surprised me more than seeing Cassandra bouncing in on her heels.
The Circle of Magi in Cumberland was grand, the tower rose high from the ground overlooking the Waking Sea. A moat circled the tower; it was almost half a mile in width. The moat joined onto the Waking Sea, seemingly making it apart of the sea, but Riona disagreed. A wooden bridge stretched out over the moat, at the far end a large iron gate fenced in the mages. I walked quietly beside Riona. As we approached the gates, I felt intimidated by how they towered high above us. I feared stepping inside. I feared I'd be locked in forever.
Four Templars, strapped in brass armour, glared down on us as we approached. Cassandra took one aside, they talked quietly. Their heads inches apart as Cassandra explained why over forty soldiers, ten mages and The King of Ferelden were storming towards their doors. The guard seemed relaxed as he spoke to her, almost absorbed in the conversation. Cassandra was more relaxed than guarded, her lips moved quickly as she explained. Only a few minutes later, the gates opened to allow us in. Most of the soldiers stayed put, keeping our mages away from Nevarra Templars. Sticking close to Riona, I kept my eyes down. Beside me, Riona walked with her head held high. I tried to imitate her but as soon as my eyes caught one of the Templars I lowered my eyes. I felt Riona clutch at my arm, helping me keep pace with her. I didn't know why this sudden awkwardness had engulfed me.
We entered into a large room; the ceilings rose high above us. The brick work showed that this was an old building. Large red curtains were pulled away from the two windows either side of us. In the middle lay a circular red rug with golden crests stamped the rug's perimeter. I tried to see if I recognised any of them. The only one I recognised was the one that had been on Cassandra Pentaghast's armour. I awkwardly stood to the side with Tomas, Zevran, and a few other soldiers. I tried my best to stay in the middle of group; however Zevran seemed to find it funny to push me forward. A few eyes trained on us as we squabbled, hanging my head in embarrassment, I turned around and kneed him in the unmentionables. A high squeak broke from his lips as he caressed himself. I turned back to the room, crossed my arms and smiled. A lump formed in my throat as I noticed everyone staring. Shying away from everyone, I hung my head again in shame. My antics were soon forgotten however, as Cassandra continued her conversation with the Circle's First Enchanter and Knight-Commander.
After what felt like forever, Cassandra, Riona and Alistair finally came over to us. Cassandra looked more annoyed than usual. She was chewing fiercely on the inside of lip. She didn't look like she was about to explain what had gone on. Instead, Riona stepped forward; she also looked annoyed.
"Well, it seems as if these mage's are refusing to give us anything. Well, anything of importance." She nearly growled the last part out. Abruptly, all eyes turned on me. My stomach curdled as I realised their intentions. Cassandra glared at me from the corner of her eyes.
"I can't." I breathed. Cassandra's hand shot out and grabbed me by the hair. Anger soared through me as she yanked at my hair, her face inches from mine. I didn't know what came over me as I bent her wrist back and pushed her away. She cursed in pain. "Fine." I spat. I hated doing other people's dirty work.
Stalking towards the First Enchanter, my head spun. I had no idea how I was going to do this. Or what the outcome would be. But I had to do something to keep Cassandra off my back. The man frowned as I approached him, he didn't look as intimidating as the Templars. But his small eyes looked tired and warn, as if he had seen many things and wished to see no more. He was leaning on a piece of wood that looked like it had tracings of Ironbark; the markings looked Dalish. Instantly, I knew this man was wise and had knowledge of things that I'd never dream of.
"Hello, my name is Cameron Hawke. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, First Enchanter." I held my hand out to him; he took it firmly in his left. He bent down and kissed my skin, lightly. I smiled as a blush threatened to give me away. He dropped my hand and eyed me curiously. I knew instantly that this man was handsome in his youth. His jaw was wide and his nose straight and long. Up close his eyes were a golden colour; his eyelashes were long and feminine. Although his face was wrinkled, he looked more like a happy granddad than an old mage.
"It is always a pleasure to meet beautiful women such as yourself." His voice was not as attractive as his appearance. His speech was slurred, which didn't suit his deep voice. Remembering my mission, I straightened up.
"I've come to understand that you refused my companions information of the disagreements between the Mage's and the Templars. I am not too pleased about this. You see, we want what is best for everyone. I'm one of the few people who witnessed the start of this…disagreement. And it has brought great displeasure to me and my companions to learn that the disagreement did not stop there." I felt as if I was rambling, the First Enchanter was certainly not impressed with my choice of words.
I knew fully well that those disagreements turned into something real, when the Templars slaughtered the Mage's in the Gallows of Kirkwall. However I also knew that Meredith the Knight-Commander had encouraged this behaviour from her growing insanity. In the last fight I had sided with the Templars in hopes to change her mind. Once we cornered the mages, I realised the First Enchanter had been right, but he was convinced there was no hope and called upon the very power that had threatened his own safety. Both Orsino and Meredith were desperate to prove they were right. I had been right in the middle of this. But when Meredith threatened my sister Bethany, I realised her insanity was far worse than I had anticipated.
The First Enchanter glared at me. "I know you. You're that so called 'Champion of Kirkwall' aren't you. Orsino was a great man. You and your evil Templars killed him." He pointed at me in anguish. His slur was gone and his back was straight, he looked far younger in his moments of anger.
"Orsino killed himself!" I shouted back. I had been content with my decisions. "I tried to make him see reason... But his stubbornness got the better of all of him. He refused to reason and instead turned to blood magic." I had to take deep breaths to regain myself. I never realised after all these years remembering that day could still anger me. The First Enchanter looked taken aback by my outburst; he waved his hand at something behind me. Turning his gaze fully on me I awaited his threats.
"You are very brave to make those accusations. However you are not the first to tell me this. I think we need to go somewhere quieter and you tell me the full story." He turned and hobbled away, with a quick glance at the concerned group of watchers. I smiled and ran after the First Enchanter.
I had told him everything I could remember. He sat and listened showing nothing to tell me that he thought I was lying. It was hard bringing up everything. Reminiscing about what once was the hardest time in my life. I told him about the suspicious murders that unfortunately led to the death of my dear mother. By the end of my story I was in tears, even at 35, I wished I had my mother to cuddle me and tell me everything was going to be alright. The First Enchanter watched me and then he seemed to have come to a decision.
"The Mage's want their freedom as you know. They want a life without Templars breathing down their necks. And if starting this war may offer them this freedom they'll do it. From what I've heard chaos has engulfed Ansburg, that's the tower between Antiva and the Free marches. I recommend you go there and try and make peace. You know what..." He took out a piece of parchment, and wrote something down. He shoved it into my hands. "Take this, Use it as a last resort. I know fully well these mages need to be stopped. And I'm sure with my help you'll sort this mess out." He winked at me. As I left the room; I felt proud of myself. I wanted this war to end, mainly for my sister's sake. I only just realised that everything I did these days was for her.
We spent the night four miles away, in a large clearing. I set up my tent just inside the trees next to a large undergrowth. The place was secluded and it fit me perfectly. Not far from the clearing was a small river, from my tent I could hear the wild rapids heading down river. Some of the soldiers had made a large fire in the middle of the clearing to give us all heat. I could smell the heat. I would have moaned at them if it didn't warm me up. I spent my evening in my tent, reading by candlelight. I couldn't bear to sit with the others and have them all staring at me. Everyone had witnessed my red face and sore eyes. Riona had steered me away from everyone. I had hoped her arms were instead Alistair's but that was wishful thinking. I missed our midnight chats like we had back in Denerim. Now both our nights were spent apart with other people to keep us company.
Halfway through the book, my stomach grumbled. I tried to ignore it, but that seemed to make the hunger scream at me. Bending the top of page, I rested the book beside the candle. I blew it out quickly and stepped out from the tent. I stretched to relax my tense muscles from hours of lying down. Heading into the clearing, I made my way over to the soldier who was cooking beside the fire. He looked up as I approached him. As I got closer, I realised it was Tomas, he hastily scooped up some meat onto a plate and handed it to me. I took it gratefully. I sat down on the ground facing the fire. Tomas came and sat beside me, plate in hand. We ate quietly together. Tomas had become a friend; he chose to listen to me as I moaned about the day before. He had told me of his involvement in the undead battle at Redcliffe during the Blight. He secretly confessed to me that he had wanted to run away and would have if not for the fact if he did the undead creatures would have killed him on the spot. This bit of information had put me off for a bit. But I soon realised he only wanted to stay alive.
As I headed back to my tent, I noticed an outline leaning against the tree. As I got closer I noticed the solemn face of Anders. I walked quickly towards him. "What do you want?" I said, placing my hand on my hip.
Anders lifted his head to look at me. His eyes were black with bruises. Cut's covered his face. His lip looked like it was about to explode from his face. Old feelings flooded through me as I stepped forward and ran my finger across his wounds. He frowned at me, but didn't stop me. When I realised my actions I dropped my hand and stepped away. "Well?" I asked, irritation on my lips. I quickly stamped out my actions.
"I wanted to see you Cammy." His voice was weak as he pushed himself away from the tree. My nostrils flared at the nickname he used to call me. He stepped towards me. "I have to say sorry." He reached out, catching a strand of my hair in his fingers. He smoothed it behind my ear. I reached down and fingered the dagger on my side. He carried on stroking my cheek, as I clutched the dagger. He was about to lean into me when I brought the dagger up to his throat. A gasp escaped his lips as I backed him up against the tree.
"You have no right to say sorry. The funny thing is, I don't even hate you Anders. I pity you." I spat at him, even in my words I could feel the tears threatening me. I took the dagger from his throat, and stepped away. "Just go away, Anders…please." The dagger dropped from my hand, and the tears fell. I could sense Anders wanted to comfort me, but he thought better of it and walked away.
As I lay down on my sleeping bag, I felt more alone than I had for the past few years. I realised I couldn't bear to be alone. Emerging from my tent, I walked around the camp. Propping up the tent, I intended to go to. I heard the sounds of heavy sleepy breathing. Crawling inside, I laid next to the Alistair. He stirred as I snuggled into him.
"Cameron?" He said. His arm pulled me closer when he noticed my tears.
"Hold me." I cried. I fell instantly asleep.