The first time Minas tried to escape the Tower, she had only just arrived. One week of missing her mother and father instead of sleeping, lying among the other apprentices, many about her age, eyes on the dark, arched stone above. It was so different from the wooden beams and thatch and welcoming stars outside her window. Snores replaced her mother's nightly songs, and the silver moon could no longer be seen. All was dark and grey in the night. She decided she did not like the Circle, even though they promised to teach her to be safe with her magic.
Safe. Minas had liked the sound of safe; she only left her family because they thought she was dangerous. She didn't want to hurt anybody.
But now she wanted her mother even more. She missed her father's stories of Denerim and her mother's Dalish legends. There weren't many elves here. She wanted to go home; if she promised to be careful, maybe mamae wouldn't send her back to the big, grey tower.
When she slipped out of bed, she wanted the guards with their metal clothes and frowning faces to be asleep—she desperately wished they would sleep as she passed. Minas was clever enough to know that things happened sometimes because she wanted them to.
So, the guards slept, and she pushed the heavy doors open just enough to slip through.
The elfling got as far as the docks before they caught her, joyed at the moon's sliver tendrils dancing over the water, the stars winking above. She didn't know how to swim, and the Templars knew the effects of magic when they woke: she didn't fight them when they told her to come back, and they took her past the apprentices' rooms, up the stairs, to a little room with a desk and books. She just wanted to go home.
The First Enchanter and the leader of the big, metal humans were both bearded men with serious eyes. The Enchanter only looked disappointed, a little sad, but the metal one had eyes as hard as his clothes and as grey as the walls.
"If you do this again child, we will have to put you in solitary—there you will be all alone," the Enchanter said. Enchanter meant mage. Mage. He was like her, and he seemed sad. She didn't want to be sad when she got old like that. He knelt down beside her. "I know you miss your family, but you'll have friends here. You like your lessons, don't you?"
She nodded. Magic was even better when she knew how to make it right.
"I know you don't want to be alone."
She nodded again. Alone, she sometimes heard things. Alone, she still wouldn't have mamae.
"I know it doesn't feel like it now, but you're not alone here—I promise." He offered a little smile.
The big one crossed his arms. "But you'll find yourself that way if you try such a stunt again—magic on the Templars! Magic is meant to serve, not to control others as pleases you!"
Minas cast her eyes to the floor. He smelled of metal and electricity and she didn't like him.
"Greagoir, she's barely nine! No one was hurt, and you know as well as I it wasn't an intentionally woven spell. And it will not happen again, will it?"
The grey stone of the floor kept her attention as she shook her head. "I'm sorry." She didn't want to be alone and she didn't want to hurt anyone. She wanted to go home.
"Good." The mage rested a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Here, child—we'll walk you back to the dormitory and in the morning, you can meet some friends. There are even a few elves here to keep you from feeling too homesick—would you like that?"
She nodded, then furrowed her brow. "But mamae… I want to talk to mamae."
The hard lines around the big human's mouth softened at that. He sighed. "Can you write?"
"A little…" She recalled her father addressing the human that came to take her away. He always said it was important to be polite—especially to guards and humans with power. Cause trouble and you'll get trouble, that's what he said. "…serah."
He seemed to approve of that. "Write a letter. I cannot send it for you, but if you take it to the chapel and pray for your family to the Maker, you may find comfort."
"Thank you, serah, but… I've never prayed to your Maker before."
"He is not simply my Maker—the Maker has made all the world, and is yours as well as mine. You need not worry—one of the Sisters can teach you to pray if you are unsure." He did not smile like Irving, but his words were… nice. If this Maker could help, she could learn to pray to him like Mythal. She wondered if it would be very different.
The mage offered his hand, kind, amber eyes smiling, and Minas took it. "We'll get you to bed. In the morning, there's someone I'd have you meet."
This 'someone' was another human, and not her age, and not as old as mamae, and certainly not as old as the First Enchanter.
Later, she would learn that this blond human with bright eyes and a clever turn to his lips was placed as her companion for the week as a means of control. Minas could remember being fifteen years old and talking with him about it; learning that they were paired so that neither of them would attempt escape again was troubling, but not as difficult as learning that Irving and Greagoir threatened to punish her with solitary as well as him if he attempted to escape while she was in his charge.
But in this memory, she is nine years old, armed only with the knowledge that the First Enchanter set aside a companion for her.
They stood in one of the practice rooms, where Irving left them to stare at one another. A tall, lanky human with gold hair that brushed his chin and a tiny elf, brown hair loose down her back.
"So… you're Minas, then." He'd just been told. They'd both been introduced.
She nodded. "You're Anders."
He sighed. "Yeah. Well, ah—welcome to the Circle, then?"
"Thank you. I've been here for a week."
"Uh-huh. And you already tried to escape… pretty impr—er—"
Her remorse sprang more from the threat of punishment than actually being sorry, and she knew it. "I won't do it again." Well, maybe she was sorry for the magic on the guards.
The human bit his lip. "…Right." He cleared his throat, swinging wiry arms. The silk of his robes whispered in the near-silence. Chatter from apprentices could be heard down the hall, and the ever-present clink of metal. "So, you're an elf, then."
She nodded. "You're a human."
"I'm… wait…" He reached his fingers up and touched the rounded tips of his ears. He gasped. "Oh, Maker! All this time I thought…"
Minas giggled. "Maybe you just lost them. I can help you look."
He cracked a crooked grin. "We can start in the library."
Anders' smile was contagious, if seldom seen, and Minas decided the library was a grand place with a kind guide. Or it would be, when she learned how to read better. Anders was always patient as she sounded out the words on the covers, and never rushed her when she got sidetracked while learning how the books were organized.
Eventually, the scent of leather and paper and electric traces of lyrium began to feel like home.