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Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
71
#21
Cauthrien didn’t seem put off by Sofia’s reasons for her enthusiasm. By the sounds of it, they might not even be venturing into the Deep Roads – although Sofia would not make assumptions. Even when they weren’t actively seeking it out themselves, trouble tended to find Wardens. Still, she was excited to have a look through the famed Memories, and maybe talk to a shaper about why they thought that dwarves never had magical ability. She had read human theories on the matter, of course, but never heard a stone-bound dwarf’s opinion before.

Cauthrien’s comment also raised intriguing possibilities. “And if we have the chance to do any healing while we’re there, it wouldn’t hurt.”

Sofia nodded. “I haven’t done much healing with dwarves; we only had a few amongst our ranks in Antiva, and they tended to prefer my non-magical methods. As long as they left with the same number of limbs as when they came in, I considered it no matter. I’d be interested to see how the Orzammar contingent would react.”

Hopefully, without axes to the neck. But she was hardly defenceless if one of them got agitated. “You’ve learned some offensive magic, then? What schools are you trained in?”

Sofia was pleased that Cauthrien knew enough to ask about schools, which was more than most did. “Mostly Creation, from which I get my healing and a very useful paralysis glyph for ambushes. Some primal spells centering around the Earth sub-school, which allows me to use rocks for my protection, or as a projectile, or to set an earthquake. I tend to reserve that one for emergencies; while I can control the area it affects, I cannot guarantee that a fellow Warden would not run into said area. It is useful for setting fissures for enemies to fall into, though. I had started working through the telekinesis section of the Spirit school when I was called down here. I can use my mind to stun an enemy, before it gets too close. That only works in a short radius, though.”

She smiled. “I hope to continue my studies in Spirit magic while I am here, if that is amenable to you.”

Naturally, she would pursue it anyway, but sometimes people could get a little agitated about the idea of actively working with spirits.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
299
#22
“I haven’t done much healing with dwarves,” Sofia admitted, showing no hint of discomfiture at revealing a lack of experience. “We only had a few amongst our ranks in Antiva, and they tended to prefer my non-magical methods. As long as they left with the same number of limbs as when they came in, I considered it no matter. I’d be interested to see how the Orzammar contingent would react.”

That she could use traditional healing methods was something that Cauthrien took note of with approval. Minor injuries and illnesses could be treated without using magic, saving that for more serious needs. “The lower castes will likely welcome even non-magical healing,” she mused, wrinkling her nose as she added, “though the noble caste would be more useful to cultivate good relations with.” She cocked her head, regarding the new arrival. “Your thoughts?” She knew what approach she intended to take, but she was curious as to what Sofia would say.

She was trained in Creation and Earth magic, with a decent complement of offensive spells to complement her healing abilities. Not surprising, given the tale of how she had come to be Grey Warden. “I had started working through the telekinesis section of the Spirit school when I was called down here,” she added. “I can use my mind to stun an enemy, before it gets too close. That only works in a short radius, though.”

Cauthrien nodded. “Have you had any martial combat training?” she inquired. “My preference is for all mages to have at least a basic ability to defend themselves with staff or dagger, in case they cannot call on their magic.” That templars might be the cause of that and the ones to defend against went unsaid for now. “I can work with you, if you like.”

“I hope to continue my studies in Spirit magic while I am here,” Sofia said with a smile, “if that is amenable to you.”

“Of course,” Cauthrien said without hesitation. “And if you’d be willing, we have a new recruit from the Circle who is quite proficient in Primal magic, particularly fire, but no training in healing. I’d like her to learn at least basic healing magic, if she has enough affinity to do so.” The last was uttered in a slight questioning tone, eyebrows arched inquiringly. She knew that different mages gravitated toward different schools, learning them with greater ease, but she did not know if it was possible for a mage to learn a school that they did not have a natural aptitude for.
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
71
#23
Cauthrien evidently had plans to accumulate a bit of goodwill for the Wardens while they were in Orzammar, musing on how much the different castes might appreciate medical attention. The lower ones would be more grateful in their general mood, whereas the nobles could offer something useful in exchange. From a coldly materialistic view, it was clear which option was better. “Your thoughts?”

“I think we should offer aid where it is sought. As we do here.” Sofia’s expression turned a little more serious. “We would have more to gain from the nobles, true. But you never know when a small act towards somebody you don’t even think twice about afterwards might set off ripples in the pond. And although I am delighted by the opportunity to go to Orzammar, I will admit I find some aspects of their caste system disquieting. It would be good to be able to help the branded ones, if they will accept it.”

They were all the Maker’s children, even if some lived further away from Him than others, and all deserved at least a little grace.

They segued into a conversation on Sofia’s abilities. In one area, she fell Short. “Have you had any martial combat training? My preference is for all mages to have at least a basic ability to defend themselves with staff or dagger, in case they cannot call on their magic. I can work with you, if you like.”

“I would appreciate that greatly, messere. I can handle a dagger and I have been told I can deliver a fairly impress smack around the head with a staff, but my skills in both are rudimentary to say the least. After my first encounter with darkspawn a lot of my combat magic went towards making sure they never got near me again. It’s worked well, over the last five years, but I would not gamble on it forever.”

There was almost more she’d like to work on. While still leery of the idea of bonding with a spirit, she wanted to learn more about the school their magic came from, and Cauthrien was amenable to the idea. “And if you’d be willing, we have a new recruit from the Circle who is quite proficient in Primal magic, particularly fire, but no training in healing. I’d like her to learn at least basic healing magic, if she has enough affinity to do so.”

Sofia tapped her knee with her finger. “I would be more than willing to work with her. And certainly I can teach some basics of non-magical healing. In some instances, mages simply cannot work with some schools – but most of the time they can manage at least a basic spell in each school.” And then you had the poor souls who barely had control over their magic at all, or could only produce a flicker now and again. The latter tended to specialise in assisting with the logistics of running the tower, condemned to a life trapped in the stone walls on the off chance that they might suddenly be powerful enough to present a threat.

The former almost always ended up Tranquil.

“We could exchange lessons, perhaps. I would be interested in mastering a primal spell or two; I didn’t have a great inclination for them in the Circle, but then I did not have much use for them either. Attempting them feels a little jarring to me.”

Primal, for some mages, stirred them, caused them to revel in the power they conducted. For Sofia it had always felt a little like standing close enough to a fire to watch her clothes start smoking. The threat to herself, rather than her enemy, always seemed much too immanent.

She finished her wine, and decided to tackle the question that had been chewing at her from the moment she had received her marching orders. “Did you – or your Commander – request a mage be sent? The lieutenant who sent me was a touch reserved about sharing the reasons for sending me south.”

Oh, she had her suspicions, given he was an incompetent and she had made it clear she was vying to step up. If he had simply sent her down here to get her out of the way – risking her life on a rough sea in winter, at that – she was going to show him that earth spells weren’t just for showy earthquakes. He’d be finding gravel in his shoes every day from now until his Calling.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
299
#24
“I think we should offer aid where it is sought. As we do here,” Sofia stated confidently. “We would have more to gain from the nobles, true. But you never know when a small act towards somebody you don’t even think twice about afterwards might set off ripples in the pond. And although I am delighted by the opportunity to go to Orzammar, I will admit I find some aspects of their caste system disquieting. It would be good to be able to help the branded ones, if they will accept it.”

Spoken without glancing to gauge her new superior’s reactions, and Cauthrien nodded in satisfaction. “We’re thinking along the same lines, then.” The Fereldan suspicion of foreigners lingered still, though Cauthrien had learned not to let it color her reactions. It was good to know that in this, at least, there seemed to be no difference between nations.

The mage also seemed gratified by her offer of martial training. “I would appreciate that greatly, messere. I can handle a dagger and I have been told I can deliver a fairly impress smack around the head with a staff, but my skills in both are rudimentary to say the least. After my first encounter with darkspawn a lot of my combat magic went towards making sure they never got near me again. It’s worked well, over the last five years, but I would not gamble on it forever.”

“Distance is best,” Cauthrien agreed, “but sometimes you have to be able to open that distance up yourself. I can show you how.” The right strike to the right spot did not have to be delivered as a crushing blow.

Sofia was also amenable to attempting to teach Cordelia basic healing magic. “And certainly I can teach some basics of non-magical healing,” she added. “In some instances, mages simply cannot work with some schools – but most of the time they can manage at least a basic spell in each school.”

“I might have you work with the rest of the Wardens on non-magical healing,” Cauthrien mused. “Every one of them should know how to field dress a wound and set a bone, at the very least.” Her lips twisted wryly. “Be a bit of a farce if a healing mage got injured and had to rely on a fumble-fingered warrior who didn’t know a bandage from a splint to patch them up.” She grew a bit more serious again. “Cordelia is … young.” She shook her head bemusedly. “Maker, she is young, and from a noble family. Her sister did not trust her safety in the Circle and requested that she be conscripted.” That much she would discover from talking to Cordelia; the arrangement to transport lyrium through Bann Lendon’s holdings was not something known to her younger sister, and definitely was not going to be discussed with a Warden newly arrived from abroad. “We needed more mages, so -” she shrugged pragmatically, her expression giving no hint whether she approved or not … she couldn’t honestly say at this point. “She’s quite competent in her chosen school; don’t get me wrong there. But I get the sense that she does not care for endeavors where she does not have a natural aptitude. Not lazy, just proud.”

“We could exchange lessons, perhaps,” Sofia mused. “I would be interested in mastering a primal spell or two; I didn’t have a great inclination for them in the Circle, but then I did not have much use for them either. Attempting them feels a little jarring to me.”

Cauthrien nodded, filing that bit of information away with the rest of the slowly growing store of magical knowledge that she was gathering. “It is strange seeing one so small controlling such formidable magic,” she admitted, “but she commands fire as though she were born to it.”

An expression of sudden resolve set the mage’s features, and she drained the last of the wine from her glass and set it aside. “Did you – or your Commander – request a mage be sent?” she asked pointedly. “The lieutenant who sent me was a touch reserved about sharing the reasons for sending me south.”

Which meant that she suspected ulterior motives. “Warden-Commander Howe has requested from Weisshaupt that additional mages be sent,” Cauthrien supplied. “As I said, we’ve lost three in recent months, and never had all that many to begin with. I don’t know if that request was passed along to Antiva, but considering we’ve got barely two dozen Grey Wardens in a nation still in a Thaw, I’m not going to turn down any help. We’ve been penalized for Aedan’s actions,” she admitted candidly, then shrugged, “and we’ve earned a bit of a reputation as mavericks on our own. But we have kept the majority of Ferelden safe from the darkspawn, and we will continue to do so. If it’s greater responsibility you’re looking for, well … we’re rebuilding an order from the ground up. There will be plenty of room for advancement over the next few years.” And if what she was after was rank without responsibility, she could be sent back as easily as she had been sent here.
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
71
#25
Cauthrien was also interested in fostering good relations with people from all walks of life. Doing the same within the Wardens itself was important too, and the offer of training in non-magical defence was gratefully accepted. She also had no issue with helping some of the others train in her specialties, with emphasis on Cordelia. “Maker, she is young, and from a noble family. Her sister did not trust her safety in the Circle and requested that she be conscripted.”

“Even without knowing of what the Joining entails, that says quite a lot for her opinions of the Circle.” Sofia often wondered just how much her privilege had sheltered her. Oh, there had been the odd templar who took pleasure in making her uncomfortable, but she’d been adept at never being caught alone by those ones, and all of them had eventually been caught being untoward and assigned elsewhere. But her experience in the Circle had been mostly positive and she’d learned much. Nowhere else could she have got the training she’d had there. And yet…five years out in the world, and the reports she’d read on the corruption that seemed to plague every Circle had left her disquieted.

“We needed more mages, so…she’s quite competent in her chosen school; don’t get me wrong there. But I get the sense that she does not care for endeavors where she does not have a natural aptitude. Not lazy, just proud.”

Sofia offered to exchange lessons. Perhaps if Cordelia saw her struggling, but persisting, with Primal spells, she would feel more inclined to keep trying with the healing.

“It is strange seeing one so small controlling such formidable magic, but she commands fire as though she were born to it.”

“A difficult trait to manage. Especially since even magical fire will cling to whatever will burn, and after that it is beyond the mage’s control unless they call on frost spells to cool it. A skilled mage with fire doesn’t let it touch anything other than the intended target in the first place.”

She was genuinely interested in getting to know more, but the irritation that had been chafing her since she’d received her marching orders brooked no further delay, and she asked Cauthrien what exact reason had been given for her relocation to Ferelden.

More mages had been requested, although from Weisshaupt – the Fereldan Wardens had taken some heavy losses, and were happy to take on whoever came their way. “We’ve been penalised for Aedan’s actions,” she added, with a stoic shrug, ”and we’ve earned a bit of a reputation as mavericks on our own. But we have kept the majority of Ferelden safe from the darkspawn, and we will continue to do so. If it’s greater responsibility you’re looking for, well … we’re rebuilding an order from the ground up. There will be plenty of room for advancement over the next few years.”

Sofia smiled. She saw no need to demur. “I do have ambition. But I would not push to climb the ranks until I have proved myself to everyone. Titles mean nothing if you don’t have the wherewithal to perform the duties required.” And then some. “And I am not a backstabber. I want to rise on my own merit.”

She did believe that her parents’ influence could only have helped her so far, but getting to the position of First Enchanter would have entailed many challenges not completed by simply throwing money at them. In the Wardens, she would do the same.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
299
#26
“Even without knowing of what the Joining entails, that says quite a lot for her opinions of the Circle,” Sofia remarked when told that Cordelia’s sister had requested the conscription.

“She survived the uprising that took place in Kinloch during the Blight,” Cauthrien told her, wondering if word of that occurrence had reached Antiva. “I suppose that even darkspawn might seem safe compared to being locked in with blood mages, abominations and demons, with templars willing to slaughter everyone in the tower.” That it had been the Grey Wardens who had restored order in the circle was something that Cauthrien regularly reminded any templars in Denerim that complained about Grey Warden mages. They didn’t much like it. She didn’t much care.

The mage confirmed Cauthrien’s suspicion that the fires that Cordelia manipulated with such ease were formidable magics. “A difficult trait to manage. Especially since even magical fire will cling to whatever will burn, and after that it is beyond the mage’s control unless they call on frost spells to cool it. A skilled mage with fire doesn’t let it touch anything other than the intended target in the first place.”

“She is skilled,”
Cauthrien replied, then shook her head bemusedly. “But she’s barely more than a child. They turned her into a weapon, then fear her for being one.” The control that Cordelia displayed now had to have been practiced since before her age had reached double digits. What had they told her as they taught her how to hurl flame that could not be quenched? That she would be lighting bonfires and candles?

Sofia expressed curiosity as to whether a request had been made for mages to be sent to the Ferelden order, which suggested that she suspected that she had been sent for reasons besides filling a need. Which in turn suggested that there had been problems in Antiva that would give cause for that suspicion. Cauthrien wasn’t interested in gossip, and if the woman seated by the fire with her was the cause of those problems, that would reveal itself in due time and be dealt with. For now, she confirmed that a request had been sent and pointed out the opportunities for advancement in an order whose ranks were still in the process of being rebuilt.

The Antivan didn’t shy from it. “I do have ambition,” she admitted with calm candor. “But I would not push to climb the ranks until I have proved myself to everyone. Titles mean nothing if you don’t have the wherewithal to perform the duties required. And I am not a backstabber. I want to rise on my own merit.”

“You should do well here, then,”
Cauthrien told her. Words were easy; actions were what would count. She pushed herself out of her chair. “Your room should be ready. Lunch begins in an hour, but there is always food available in the kitchens. And if you’d like to go out into the city, let me know and I’ll get you an escort.” She extended a hand to the Antivan. “Welcome to Ferelden.”
 
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