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Martial Flaw (v. 2.0) [Closed]

Cordelia

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#1
[27 Harvestmere, morning, with Cauthrien ]

True to her promise, Cordelia had woken early. Well, her dreams had woken her really. While she had gathered that her time following the Joining was not as rough and nigh unbearable as some, there was no escaping from the discomfort that swirled in her blood. The preceding night had been full of strange dreams, horrid creatures mixed with familiar faces. Her sister morphed into the demon from Kinloch Hold, her fellow Grey Wardens broke into dust that reformed into ogres and shadowy, spiked hounds that chased her until there was nowhere else to run.

Someone less responsible might have used it as an excuse to dally and linger in bed, seeking solace in bed covers and their warmth but Cordelia rose with a practiced poise and began preparing for her day. She changed into her armor, something she was not entirely comfortable in yet, and then spent some time brushing her hair before fashioning it into an immaculately braided low bun. The mageling was no fighter but knew enough that she might receive some sort of lecture leaving her hair down during training. Pleased, perhaps a bit too much, that she was likely to be the most put-together Grey Warden in the compound she broke her fast with a two eggs and a plate of fruit before making her way out to the training yard with her staff.

The yard was not so clear as to be empty but there was enough room for her to practice comfortably and after the lightest of calisthenics—there was no need to get to sweaty, after all—she began to work through some basic forms with her staff. The Fereldan Circle had made something of a practice style in these matters, a utilitarian form meant to direct spells with straightforward results. Any student's propensity for excess flair was quickly stamped out by watchful Enchanters. Let the Orlesians or, daresay, the Tevinter Magisters make a show of their magic. Cordelia moves gracefully in spite of this, although she had never taken to her lessons with quite as much zeal as some of the other students. Which was not to suggest that she was unskilled; it was simply that staff manipulations were less imperative when you were practiced enough to create miniature swarms of flame with your barehands. Something the young woman was exceptionally good at.

Cordelia had worked up a focus far in excess of what she might have summoned in the Circle, however. She knew, if only through the instinctual calling in her blood, that the future would hold true battle against the most perverse of creatures, twisted and formed by the hubris of men who had defied the Maker. They would run and swarm and draw close, which meant she needed to be prepared for the times when she could not simple scorch them from across the room. Silently, she all but cursed her sister's misplaced affection which had brought her into the Grey Wardens. If anything else, she would not currently be thinking about bloody combat if she were still back within the Circle. Yet, that distraction faded as she slipped further into the motions of her forms. It would pass the time until her first day of proper training could commence.
 

Cauthrien

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#2
Cauthrien had followed her usual routine, rising before dawn, eating a light breakfast, and completing her own forms and drills in the empty yard before anyone else arrived. From the armory, she watched as Cordelia entered the yard, snorting softly and shaking her head at the delicate and fussy warm-up that did not disturb a single carefully coiffed hair. That would need to be addressed at some time in the not too distant future.

The faintly amused smile faded a bit as Cordelia launched into forms with her staff. Whatever purpose the movements served, striking out against a foe or defending against an attack from one was not it. It was hardly surprising, she reflected, feeling a spark of savage anger in her chest. The fucking templars wouldn’t want the mages to be able to fight once their magic had been neutralized, would they?

Still, it wasn’t as though there was nothing there to work with. The young woman’s face was set in an expression of intense concentration, and her movements, as useless as they might be in non-magical combat, were precise, with no hesitation. She’d learned them well; she could learn others that might actually keep her alive.

Taking one of the training staves from the rack, she returned to the yard, approaching Cordelia. “Good morning,” she greeted the younger Warden. “We’ll start with what you’ve learned; what kind of training did they give you in the Circle?”
 

Cordelia

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#3
Cordelia proceed with her forms for a time, imagining the spells she might cast with each movement. Perhaps in a more free setting, she would have leave to actually conjure something but she doubted that would ever happen. Magic was dangerous, and besides she would certainly wake the whole compound with all the crackling air and swirling Fade energy. That would be most rude, which was the last thing she wanted to ever be. So instead, she remembered which motions fit the best spells. A sharp movement for lightning, a longer sweep to guide the path of manipulated flames. In rare cases, there was an additional motion, a sort of flourish meant to dissipating excess energies. They were performed as cleanly and meticulously as everything else in Cordelia's life. The mage yearned for perfection in all things, and had pushed herself beyond her years when it came to her magecraft.

Stopping for a moments rest, she brought her staff down but did not go so far as to lean on it. Appearances mattered, she decided, even in a training yard. It would not do to seem lazy or overworked. It took a mere moment before movement caught her eye. It was Cauthrien, and the Warden-Constable's approach led the young mage to stand even taller. "Ser," she greeted with a bow.

“Good morning,” came the reply. Then they were right into business. “We’ll start with what you’ve learned; what kind of training did they give you in the Circle?”

The young woman thoughts for a moment. Not that she needed a refreshing on what she learned. Rather, she was decided if Cauthrien need to know everything. Opting for clarity, she began listing. "Ferelden history, lessons on the Chantry, I continued my studies in Orlesian," she stated. best to start with the practical arts. "I can make simple potions as well. As for combat," she began. "I've control over the elements. Frost and lightning, but fire best."

She raised her staff somewhat. "I was carrying out my forms, which are meant for directing those spells and managing the energy they create," she explains. "There was no formal training in using our staves for fighting though. The movements aren't meant for striking." Cordelia sighed. "So I suppose I'm rather the novice."

Cordelia did not dare to think she knew better than Cauthrien but did spare a thought. "I imagine I mostly need ways to escape from whatever beasts draw near," she mused. "I daresay I shan't kill an ogre with a stick, yes?"
 

Cauthrien

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#4
Cauthrien listened bemusedly as the literal minded mage listed all that she had been taught in the Circle, concluding with, "There was no formal training in using our staves for fighting though. The movements aren't meant for striking,” she confirmed with a sigh. "So I suppose I'm rather the novice."

“Everyone is at some point,” Cauthrien told her. “There’s no shame in not knowing what you haven’t been taught.” The shame belonged to those who had deliberately left her helpless without her magic.

"I imagine I mostly need ways to escape from whatever beasts draw near," Cordelia suggested. "I daresay I shan't kill an ogre with a stick, yes?"

“An ogre, no,” Cauthrien confirmed, “but those are fairly rare. Escape should be your first defense, yes. When we fight, we try to keep the mages behind the melee fighters, with the archers, but things can change quickly in battle. If you find yourself cornered and low on mana, the weapons that you carry may be what saves your life.”

She took the staff that she carried in both hands. “Wielded properly, your staff can cripple or kill a hurlock, genlock or shriek. The knee is a weak point.” She pivoted the staff slowly to tap the side of Cordelia’s knee. “A hard lateral strike -” she turned to the practice dummy, snapping the weapon smartly into the straw man to demonstrate, “can break it, giving you the chance to get away. A hit to the temple -” she tapped the spot on her own head, then struck the same area on the dummy, “can stun or even kill.”

“Your size doesn’t matter,”
she went on, anticipating the protest. “Not if you learn to put your shoulders and hips into a strike. Like this.” She demonstrated once more on the dummy, pivoting her hips and shoulders for the blow, her arms barely moving, the staff impacting the chest area with a sharp smack. “Broken ribs can slow them down, too.” She stepped back, motioning to Cordelia. “Your turn.” That what she was teaching could also be effective against templars did not need to be said just yet.
 

Cordelia

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#5
"There’s no shame in not knowing what you haven’t been taught.”

Cauthrien's words were true enough, although Cordelia didn't particularly feel shame as much as sort of bemusement. She was now living among some of Ferelden's finest warriors, which made her own lack of martial skills all the more perplexing. Magic or not, there must have been better recruits than she. But of course that didn't matter; what had matter was that she was Finley Lendon's sister and Finley Lendon had hatched a plan. A rather successful one, all things considered, but it did leave Cordelia at something of a disadvantage among her peers. She had been one of the Circle's brightest students. Now, she was one of the Grey Warden's most vulnerable recruits.

So it was that she was meant to learn how to handle herself in a fight. If Cauthrien believed her ill-fit, the woman did not show it. Instead, she moved forward with her instructions. "Escape should be your first defense, yes," she confirmed. Cordelia had known as much, if only through common sense. "When we fight, we try to keep the mages behind the melee fighters, with the archers, but things can change quickly in battle. If you find yourself cornered and low on mana, the weapons that you carry may be what saves your life.”

She started to work Cordelia through possible point of attack, which seemed sensible. A hit to the knee would give her time to move away from darkspawn. Particularly if she could right and truly injury them. That was something she was less sure about. "I'm unsure I've the sort of strength needed to best such foes.."

“Your size doesn’t matter,” Cauthrien said, as if she'd been expecting Cordelia's reply. "Not if you learn to put your shoulders and hips into a strike. Like this.” She made a had strike and the mageling gave a small hop away from the training dummy. “Broken ribs can slow them down, too.” Cordelia nodded. Perhaps a sharp enough poke, made fast enough, could have the desired effect.

“Your turn.”


Cordelia was, for a moment, nonplussed insofar as she thought there might be more discussion of form before she needed to make a strike of her own. She did not have the same experience Cauthrien did, but she knew a staff well enough in her way. The young woman gave a nod before stepping up to her target and making a thrust that connected with more of a "boop" than a proper smack.

Content that she was at least getting some of the form down, she took a step away from the target and dusted of whatever might have gotten on her uniform. "Thusly?" The question lingered on the air, as the mage adjusted herself further and awaited for critique from her superior.
 

Cauthrien

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#6
Cordelia observed Cauthrien’s demonstration, but looked decidedly dubious when asked to do it herself. Nonetheless, she squared up to the practice dummy and delivered a strike that might have cracked an egg, had it landed squarely.

Stepping back, she fastidiously dusted herself off, then looked inquiringly to Cauthrien. “Thusly?”

The Warden-Constable managed to corral the smile of amusement that was trying to escape. The girl had a way to go yet. “It’s a start.” Stepping in, she adjusted the position of Cordelia’s hands on the staff and guided her into something closer to the proper stance.

“Now,” she said once another blow had been delivered. “I want you to try to hit that same spot -” she tapped the side of the dummy’s head, “ - fifty times, without stopping.”
 

Cordelia

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#7
Cordelia was rather pleased with her strike. It had been pristine and landed exactly on the mark. It landed with a soft grace and refined touch that, although perhaps not the right affect for a proper fight, was most commendable. And yet, as the young mage looked towards her commanding officer, she could not help that perhaps some type of joke was happening that she was not privy to. Cauthrien seemed to regard her strangely.

“It’s a start.” That was not the praise Cordelia was hoping for, or used to receiving.

"I should hope it a rather strong one," she said, fishing for a compliment that almost assuredly would not come. These Grey Wardens were a rowdy and sometimes rude sort after all. Cauthrien said nothing, merely guiding her stance and allowing her to make another strike.

"Now, I want you to try to hit that same spot -” she indicated the dummy's head. “ - fifty times, without stopping.”

Cordelia did not quite do a double take but she did give her commander something of a look. She was no stranger to repetition in her practicing. But manipulating the Fade was easy for her, as simple as breathing such that even long sessions of practice had been possible. Swinging her staff like this? Well, that seemed like something that might cause perspiration.

Nevertheless, she nodded and screwed up her face in a sort of puffed-cheeked concentration as she began to strike the dummy once, twice, and so on. She placed more forced into her strike and made proper blows, if still less forceful that Cauthrien. She was not underselling or holding back, nor was she being lazy. She merely did not have the same years of experience to make such resounding attacks. Not yet. A dozen of strikes in, it felt alright. A dozen more, she started to feel a burn of exertion in her arms. That slowly built as her attacks continued, her pace lessening ever so slightly and the raw strength of her attacks faltering ever so slightly as she progressed.

And so it went until her fiftieth blow, which left her huffing somewhat but pleased enough. At that she took a step back and noticed a most distressing drop of sweat rolling down her forehead. Prepared for such an occasion, she fiddled until procuring a handkerchief from seemingly nowhere. She'd stowed it in her pocket just for this moment.

Taking it she gave a quick tap-tap to her spot before turning to look at Cauthrien. "I daresay I'm improving," she offered, fishing once more of praise. "But surely I cannot always try to strike the head, yes?"
 

Cauthrien

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#8
"I should hope it a rather strong one.” Cordelia was clearly used to excelling in her studies, and looked a bit disgruntled at being deemed less than exemplary. Would she, like others gifted with a natural aptitude in some areas, resent being pushed into an endeavor that required more effort to succeed?

Only one way to find out.

The younger woman gave her an odd look at being instructed to strike the dummy fifty times, but she obeyed and, to her credit, did not stop until the final blow had been delivered, though the tremor of fatigue was visible in the final shots. Stepping back, she withdrew a pristine linen square from a pocket and dabbed away the bit of sweat that the effort had risen.

"I daresay I'm improving," she remarked hopefully. "But surely I cannot always try to strike the head, yes?"

“You did well.” Cauthrien allowed the approval to touch her face and voice; she honestly hadn’t expected the mage to make it through the fifty without stopping. “But you have a long way to go. And no, you won’t always strike at the head, but we start with the basics and build off of them. It probably won’t come as easily to you as your magic … or did magic come easily to you?” Cauthrien asked, belatedly realizing the potential error of the assumption. Her own skill with weapons was the result of years of dedicated practice and drills kept up long after the motions had been committed to muscle memory.
 

Cordelia

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#9
“You did well.” The words made Cordelia pause, fighting a pleased smile that she did not dare show. The young mage pocketed her handkerchief, pleased to know her efforts were noticed and that she was not left too unsightly with sweat. But although Cauthrien allowed the compliment, she continued with some moderating words lest the fledgling Grey Warden grow too confident.

“But you have a long way to go." Cordelia bit at her lip to hide her shift from confidence to disappointment. "And no, you won’t always strike at the head, but we start with the basics and build off of them. It probably won’t come as easily to you as your magic … or did magic come easily to you?”

It was an odd question that the young mage did not expect. Yes, Cauthrien was her commander but she had not believed the woman would inquire after her magic beyond determining how useful it might be on the battlefield. This was a different sort of question whose answer was more complicated that her commander might have realized.

"That depends on what you're asking," she said plainly. "My magic manifested in a rather large burst of flames. I nearly burned down our estate library. It was effortless, so by that standard it certainly was easy. And even when I was first at the Circle, I had a talent for the elements." In many ways, fire and the associated Fade manipulations had been as easy as breathing, insofar as starting fire or creating a bolt of lightning was not difficult.

She paused. "But controlling it was.. not so simple," she explained. An understatement to be sure. "There were days when I arrived at the Circle where Templars stood watch over me, using their abilities to suppress my magic." It went without saying how unpleasant that was. "After some time, that was no long an issue. And for what it is worth now, I pity any darkspawn that stumbles into my path given what I'm capable of."

"But..." A small and important word. "That does not mean I don't also fear them." And then she decided to just say what was on her mind. "Respectfully, and if I can speak freely, this seems foolish. All I'm going to do out there is slow you all down.."
 

Cauthrien

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#10
Cauthrien’s question about the ease of magic got her a quizzical look from Cordelia. "That depends on what you're asking," she answered. "My magic manifested in a rather large burst of flames. I nearly burned down our estate library. It was effortless, so by that standard it certainly was easy. And even when I was first at the Circle, I had a talent for the elements."

Cauthrien nodded. It matched what she had been told by Anders and other Warden mages, but they had also said that there were mages for whom magic did not come easily, or who had not learned to control what they wielded. Before she could ask, Cordelia went on.

"But controlling it was.. not so simple. There were days when I arrived at the Circle where Templars stood watch over me, using their abilities to suppress my magic." The sudden tension in the lines of her face made it clear that their vigil had not been welcome … or pleasant. "After some time, that was no long an issue. And for what it is worth now, I pity any darkspawn that stumbles into my path given what I'm capable of."

Confidence or bravado? Since Cauthrien had not yet seen what the girl was capable of in regards to magic, but Cordelia was not done.

"But..." Her delicate features assumed a serious mien. "That does not mean I don't also fear them." She seemed to weigh her words briefly before going on. "Respectfully, and if I can speak freely, this seems foolish. All I'm going to do out there is slow you all down.."

“You can always speak freely,” Cauthrien assured her. “And if you slow us down, we will wait for you … or carry you, if need be, because we each depend upon the rest. My life has been saved by magic more than once, and my blade has saved the life of more than one mage.” She nodded toward a practice dummy perhaps thirty feet away. “Show me what you can do with your magic.”
 

Cordelia

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#11
“You can always speak freely,” Cauthrien assured her. Cordelia raised a practiced eyebrow. It was the sort of thing you heard from Enchanters at the Circle, even though it was far from true. The young mage did not say anything but her haughty doubt certain shone through. “And if you slow us down, we will wait for you … or carry you, if need be, because we each depend upon the rest. My life has been saved by magic more than once, and my blade has saved the life of more than one mage.”

Cordelia nodded. "I do not doubt the Wardens find mages useful," she says. Not doubt they would do quite well in combat under the right circumstances. "But I've a general disposition... somewhat unsuited current needs. I will learn, of course, but I do ask your indulgence. I have gone from one home to another, twice now. I thought to be a scholar, an Enchanter and historian. Now I am being asked to be a warrior."

“Show me what you can do with your magic.” Her commander nodded to a target some distance away. The young mage though things over for a moment. It was not so far that she could not hit it. In fact, she dare thought it an easy task.

"Very well," she said calmly. "I shall start small."

It was here that her various flourishes, so dreaded by Cauthrien for their lack of combat practicality, made their purpose clear. With the proper direction of her staff, she began to draw on the ambient and excess energy of the Fade, guiding the direction with each sweep until it gathers at the focus of her staff's tip. Without much thought or difficulty, she compelled it to shape into a crackling flame of intense heat. Then, with a similar flourish, she hurled it towards her target as casually as any daily task. The swirling ball of fire soared through the air and slammed down into the dummy with a roaring gout of impact. It burned alight, leaving a charred and blackened facsimile of a person, bits falling off it and into ashy nothingness. Cordelia placed her staff down and observed her handiwork. It seemed sufficient.

Turning to Cauthrien, she wondered if the hardened commander would think likewise. "Acceptable?" She asked the question carefully, doing her best not to sound arrogant... and failing somewhat. "If need be, I can demonstrate other elements as well."
 

Cauthrien

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#12
Cauthrien had experienced for herself the “Speak freely until you tell me something I don’t want to hear” phenomenon from a good many of her superior officers over the years, so she wasn’t surprised when Cordelia looked openly skeptical, though the young woman did not voice her doubts aloud.

"I do not doubt the Wardens find mages useful," she began, weighing her words with deliberation. "But I've a general disposition... somewhat unsuited current needs. I will learn, of course, but I do ask your indulgence. I have gone from one home to another, twice now. I thought to be a scholar, an Enchanter and historian. Now I am being asked to be a warrior."

Her tone was matter-of-fact, but the expression on the delicate features was decidedly forlorn, and Cauthrien cursed inwardly at the misguided impulse that had led Bann Lendon to conclude that her sister would be better off with the Wardens than in the Circle. Except that perhaps she was. There was no guarantee that the freedom from abuse that she had experienced thus far would continue. That much Cauthrien could give her.

“The Wardens have need of scholars and historians,” she told Cordelia, “and in the absence of a Blight, that may well be your chief duty, if that is where your interests lie, but our primary mission is always to fight darkspawn. The Thaw will continue in Ferelden for some years yet, and you will be needed to fight.” She regarded the younger woman steadily. “I know that this is nothing that you asked for or wanted, and for that, I am sorry. I’ve no intention of tossing you into combat without training you adequately, so I will push you to learn to defend yourself with staff or blade … but I will also try to find the best way to integrate your existing skills so that you may rely upon them as much as possible in such situations.”

To that end, she asked the mage for a demonstration of those skills. Cordelia sized the practice dummy up with no hint of trepidation.

"Very well," she agreed. “I shall start small."

Drawing herself up to her full (though still diminutive) height, she began taking her staff through the motions that Cauthrien had observed earlier. This time, however, there was purpose behind each sweep and dip, the mage’s hazel eyes focused on the end of the staff, where a steadily growing glow burst suddenly into a flame whose heat made Cauthrien fall back a step. Cordelia did not falter; her gaze snapped to the practice dummy, a crisp gesture sending the ball of flame across the intervening space, impacting its target in a flare of heat and light, flame leaping ten feet into the air, then coalescing to consume the straw, cloth and leather, leaving a charred and smoking lump, flames licking lazily here and there after the primary conflagration had died away.

The author of the destruction set the butt of her staff to the ground, surveying her work with satisfaction before turning to Cauthrien. "Acceptable?" One mageling, very much back in her comfort zone.

The Warden-Constable didn’t try to fight the grin. “You call that small?” she asked, nodding toward what remained of the practice dummy, knowing that the girl’s characterization was likely accurate. Her confidence was as unmistakable as it was welcome; Cauthrien just had to find a way to tap into that to fuel the martial training. “More than acceptable.”

"If need be, I can demonstrate other elements as well."

“What others can you work with?” Cauthrien asked, then gave voice to another question that had been niggling at the back of her mind for some time. “The Circle … they teach you to master such magic. What use do they expect you to make of it?” Healing spells had an obvious utility outside the Circles, and Cauthrien had heard of mages being detailed into the service of nobles who could afford to pay what the Chantry wanted, but she had never heard of mages being hired out for battle, nor had she seen any beyond those at Ostagar and the battle of Denerim. They turned children into weapons ... to what ends?
 

Cordelia

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#13
“The Wardens have need of scholars and historians." Cauthrien's assurance eased Cordelia, although she wonder how much need there actually was. The Wardens seemed focused in their task, and while knowledge might enhance that, so did willing (or unwilling) sword arms. "..in the absence of a Blight, that may well be your chief duty, if that is where your interests lie, but our primary mission is always to fight darkspawn. The Thaw will continue in Ferelden for some years yet, and you will be needed to fight.”

Cordelia nodded. There it was, as she expected. The young mage held no shame in admitting her reluctance to her commander, ill-suited as she felt to the task of darkspawn disposal. And while she did not consider herself a coward, Cordelia remained skeptical of her use to the Grey Wardens. To her credit, Cauthrien noticed.

“I know that this is nothing that you asked for or wanted, and for that, I am sorry. I’ve no intention of tossing you into combat without training you adequately, so I will push you to learn to defend yourself with staff or blade … but I will also try to find the best way to integrate your existing skills so that you may rely upon them as much as possible in such situations.”

There was a moment where selfish words danced in Cordelia's mind. If Cauthrien was so sorry, why force her to live out her days in service to the Wardens. Had she not endured enough, to be taken by the Templars and robbed of her bright right? What true authority did the Grey Wardens had to remove her from the Tower? But the young mage masked her frustration with a mask of propriety, nodding as she listened. When the time came to showcase her magic, Cordelia conjured flame as easily as she might have fallen asleep after a long day. Tugging the Fade and shaping it, she guided a burst of fire directly at her target.

“You call that small?”
Cauthrien asked, nodding toward what remained of the practice dummy. Cordelia was about to reply when her commander continued. “More than acceptable.”

There was a moment of thought before the conversation continued. "What others can you work with?” Cauthrien asked, before asking a question Cordelia had never considered. “The Circle … they teach you to master such magic. What use do they expect you to make of it?”

The young mage paused, her own thoughts discomforted. Instead, she fell back to what she'd been taught. What she believed or perhaps what she'd been made to believe. "I do not know, as it was not my place to ask such questions," she began. "If needed, I expect my magic would be put to service the needs of the Chantry. There were mages at Ostagar if you recall. Were I older, I might have been required to be there as well."

She did not dwell on that thought or how close it was to what she was actually doing now. Instead, she addressed the first concern. "I've some skill with ice and lightning. Primal magicks, you see. Elements come easily to me. If required, I can make a sort of armor of stone. Shall I demonstrate?"
 

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#14
Conscription was something that had never settled well with Cauthrien; trusting your back to one that you had forced to be there had never seemed wise to her. The prisoners that she conscripted at Fort Drakon had to agree to it (and since most of them were looking at death sentences, most of them did), but to yank someone who had committed no crime away from their life without their consent, without even asking their wishes? Without the imperative of a Blight, it seemed needless, cruel even, particularly in this case. Cordelia was no fighter, but she was now a Grey Warden, and it fell to Cauthrien to ensure that she could defend herself if her magic failed her.

Judging from the ease with which she handled the fire that turned one of the practice dummies into so much smoldering ash, that would not be a frequent occurrence, but it only took one close encounter with a darkspawn. Presumably, in the Circle, she would have a templar close by, as much to monitor her as to protect her … but what purpose did Kinloch have in turning this child into an instrument of such destructive potential?

Cordelia appeared discomfited when asked that question. "I do not know, as it was not my place to ask such questions," she replied somewhat stiffly. "If needed, I expect my magic would be put to service the needs of the Chantry. There were mages at Ostagar if you recall. Were I older, I might have been required to be there as well."

Cauthrien nodded. A soldier went where they were told, and mages were viewed as such by the Chantry, it seemed. Or were they simply tools, like swords, to be used as needed and cast aside for a replacement when they broke from overuse or neglect? “You were in the tower during Uldred’s rebellion,” she guessed. “That must have been terrifying.” She would have been younger by several years: a child in fact as well as appearance, surrounded by demons and abominations, abandoned by the templars who should have protected her.

"I've some skill with ice and lightning,” Cordelia responded to her earlier query, her confident demeanor returning. “Primal magicks, you see. Elements come easily to me. If required, I can make a sort of armor of stone. Shall I demonstrate?"

Cauthrien nodded. “Please do.” She’d witnessed the phenomenon in combat, but her attention then had been divided. It would be instructive to see the process from start to finish with no distractions.
 

Cordelia

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#15
“You were in the tower during Uldred’s rebellion,” Cauthrien's guess hardly seemed a guess. Cordelia didn't doubt that Nathaniel had elcidated plenty of personal details to his subordinate. “That must have been terrifying.”

It was, perhaps, one of the few moments in her life that Cordelia felt an overwhelming desire to be flippant. Uldred's Rebellion had been the height of mage arrogance, proof positive that the Templars were necessary. What loyalty she had felt to the Chantry before had been solidified in those bloody halls. And those halls had been terrifying, to the point that all she wanted to do was scoff at her superior's comment. But Cordelia had never been one to let such thoughts or feelings so, instead only nodding.

"I've naught words to describe it," she said solemnly. "If I insist magic is dangerous, in spite of the freedoms you offer me, know it is because I had seen what happens when mages are left to their own devices. All it takes is one mistake, one failing, and there is chaos."

Regardless, she was where she was. That meant properly understanding her role within the Grey Wardens and helping her superiors understand the depth of her abilities. If nothing else, she had a variety of skills that would be useful. Perhaps it would be hard to learn how to act in combat, but given the right protections and comrades, Cordelia knew she would be of good service. That was what mattered most to her: service. To the Maker, to her family, to the Grey Wardens.

When Cauthrien bid her to demonstrate her next ability, Cordelia gave something of a smile. It felt good to be able to show off her magic, and better to have someone appreciate it. Tugging on the Fade, she began to amass rock and earth around her until it rose up inch by inch to envelope her body in a makeshift armor. It was a strange sight, the little mageling adorned in such clumsy looking protect but regardless of the look of it, she still could move reasonably well. To show this, she bounced a bit on her heels and smiled like the student's pet she was at heart

"There," she offered confidently. "I daresay that you could strike me and I would not feel a thing."
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
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#16
Mention of Uldred’s rebellion brought a change in Cordelia; she still looked petite, her face still young, but her eyes were ancient, haunted by things no one of that age should have had to bear witness to. Emotion rippled beneath her features, but she kept it under tight rein.

"I've naught words to describe it," she spoke at last. "If I insist magic is dangerous, in spite of the freedoms you offer me, know it is because I had seen what happens when mages are left to their own devices. All it takes is one mistake, one failing, and there is chaos."

“I understand,”
Cauthrien replied evenly, “but that truth is not limited to magic. Any power can be abused. The Wardens do not take magic lightly; we do have those with templar training in our number, mainly to counter emissaries among the darkspawn, but also as insurance against potential abuse of magic by our mages. I am … attempting to learn, but I seem to lack the aptitude for it.” She quirked her mouth ruefully. Lucien was adamant that she not use lyrium in her training, and given what he had told them of its addictive nature and effects over time, she wasn’t going to argue … but in its absence, the pace of her training was frustratingly slow. Sensing the use of magic required her full concentration and generally left her with a headache, and after six months, she hadn’t managed a smite.

She didn’t attempt to utilize her training now because she wanted to give Cordelia her full attention so that she could assess her skills. Fire was her preferred element, and she commanded it with admirable aplomb, but she could also call upon ice, lightning and earth magics, offering to demonstrate rock armor.

At Cauthrien’s assent, her face tensed in concentration, and the Warden-Constable couldn’t help but be impressed as stone and earth swirled into existence, seemingly from the air around the young mage, coalescing into a crude but recognizable suit of armor that encased her from head to toe. It looked bulky, and almost impossibly heavy on the tiny form, but she bounced up and down as though completely unburdened, looking very much pleased with herself.

"There," she said in satisfaction. "I daresay that you could strike me and I would not feel a thing."

Cauthrien accepted the challenge, using the staff to strike at the stone armor: lightly at first, then harder, without chipping the stone or noticeably moving the mage beneath. “Nice,” she said approvingly. “How long will it hold? And can you still cast spells, or do you need to focus to hold it?”
 
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