A/N Hope you enjoy


~Neria~

The men in armor, they call themselves Templars, don't like her. They say they are soldiers of the Maker, Neria doesn't know who that is though, and they told her to stop asking questions about her mommy. When she insisted, they got pretty upset with her. One told her, her mother died. That made her cry. She hopes he was just trying to make her be quiet. One of the other templars smacked that mean one on the head with his gauntleted hand, that made her feel a little better.

That one's name was Greagoir, he's clearly the leader, they called him Captain. He talks to her very strictly, like she's one of the men under his command. He told her firmly it would be best to put her past out of her mind.

They said they are taking her to the Mage's Tower, a place far away on an island on a lake.

Why? The little elf asked.

To be among others of your kind, one of the soldiers said.

Other elves?

No girl, mages.

My clan had mages, they could heal us when we're sick-

Those were apostates, another sneered.

On their travels one night as they got ready to camp the man on watch urgently informed the Captain he somehow sensed magic. The Templars are up in a blink ready to follow to where the man directed, but quietly, for such large armored men. Before they leave one of the Templars threw a blanket over her. "Remain here." He orders her.

Neria though, was curious, and so she crept out and followed them. Her big cousin taught her to sneak so well she could touch a wild doe. The Templars apparently found a camp where there is a human man and a very big, scary looking dog that growls at the men in armor as they approach. Neria hid behind a rock some ways away from the camp to get a view as close as she could.

They talk to the man, he's wearing old looking clothes, she thinks she can make out surprise on his face. They demand to know who he is and then something is said about being 'tranquil'. There is arguing and the dog snarls even more viciously, then Neria hears the sharp sound of swords drawn.

Suddenly there's lots of flashes of light from magic and Neria gasps when she sees one of the armored men is hit by a large rock, enchanted to be drawn from the very earth. He was hit so hard, she thinks he may be killed. Then one of the Templars stabs the dog and it falls dead with a pitiful cry that makes her sad, he was just trying to protect his human friend. Finally the mage is thrown to the floor. The Captain walks up to the man, a few words are spoken about the Maker, and then he runs the man on the floor through with his sword.

Neria claps her hands over her mouth stifling a shriek. The armored men search around the camp then return her way. She is paralyzed, should she dash back to the blanket? Or get as far from these Templars as possible? She decides to run into the forest and climb a tree, she always feels safe in the trees. Her small feet agilely navigate the dark wood until she reaches a tall sycamore and darts up like a squirrel.

The men in armor call for her and call for her but she stays silent. Then one gets near her tree, he is studying the ground. He's tracking her, time to move, she thinks. Neria hops nimbly from branch to branch to another tree and then another until she is aways from her original tree. She hears that one say, "Ser she's climbed the trees, she's not in this one though, clever trick."

"Neria Surana! There are wolves in this forest! Please come out." That is Captain Greagoir. "I understand you are frightened, but we mean you no harm. It is our duty to fight bad mages, and that was one such mage." She does not answer. "Please desist your childishness." He calls again.

The tree is getting uncomfortable. She supposes she'll have to come out eventually and she doesn't want to make these Templars angry, so she hops down. One of the men sees her and makes a dash to her, and she flinches, but the Captain demands "Hold Chris!" and the Templar does.

"Come now Miss Surana. We must leave, I assure you you are safe."

She shuffles to the Captain with her head down but she remains silent and still as a statue the rest of the day. She doesn't ask about her mother again. Maybe they really did kill her mommy. What if they kill her too? From then on though the armored men are a little more gentle ordering her about at least. In the next town, called Loth-something, they even get her a sweet drink she's never had before that fizzles funnily in her mouth and makes her giggle.

The next day after leaving that town the Templars say they are nearing their destination and sure enough, soon an enormously tall castle comes to view when they reach the crescent of the hill. Its sitting on an island in the center of a huge lake. She's never seen a structure so big. It's imposing and scary looking with its spikes and how it looms in the fog. It looks like the kind of place with lots of dungeons like in stories.

"That's Circle Tower, your new home." The Captain informs her. He understands the worried look on her face. "It's more homely inside, trust me, and certainly more warm." She hopes so, she's never made a worse journey than this one, even her nose is numb with cold.

They take a boat across the lake, which makes her tummy feel a bit sick, then step inside a huge set of doors thick enough she could climb in. The Captain takes her to an office off to the side which belongs to a man who is called Knight Commander and tells her to sit. Already inside is a boy a few years older than her, funny looking with orange red hair and freckles all over his cheeks as well asan elderly woman with a symbol on her dress. Greagoir says a few words about her to the Knight Commander and the woman, then they walk to the door.

"Wait here you two. Behave." The Knight Commander looks back and fixes them with his very best steely glare.

"Y-Yes Ser." The tiny elf says seriously and sits up straight and salutes him just as the boy had done.

The man's mustache quivers, then swiftly he walks out his office with the other two adults, making strange coughing sounds. The bright haired boy to her right presses his fist to his mouth and looks likes he's trying not to choke.

Once they are alone, the boy's laughter bursts out. "You didn't have to do that. You're not a Templar in training are you?"

"Uh n-no. B-but better to be safe than sorry?"

The boy nods sagely. "Actually since that was the Knight Commander it was probably wise." Then he smiles. "My name's Cullen, I've never seen you before, how've you come to be here?"

"I-I'm supposed to live here now. M-my name is Neria." She says shyly.

The boys eyes widen. "Oh you're a mage. I've never seen one not wearing the robes. But, you must be an apostate then?" The boy asks. He looks warily at her, yet its also clear he is fascinated.

"Wh-what's an ap-postate?" She says and shifts uneasily at his look and the way he says the word. The Templars didn't like apostates she remembers. Neria wonders if he's going to be a Templar too, he seems too nice.

The boy looks stumped. "Well they're...uh, mages that don't live in the tower, I guess. But they're real dangerous too." He frowns. "You can't be dangerous can you? You're not more than 5 years."

"I'm eight!"

"Eight! But you're tiny!" He laughs.

Her little face scrunches up. "No, you're just too big, human!"

The boy laughs again then says sincerely. "I apologize for the offense Miss Neria. Wait, so, apostates. What do you all get up to?" He asks interestedly, leaning in.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, what kinds of things do apostates do?"

Huh? She thinks, well what did her mother do? The thought makes her feel lonely. "We grow food, go hunting, make potions..." She trails off when the boy begins to look disappointed.

"I heard apostates can change into all sorts of animals, huge bears, birds of fire and ice, even dragons!" The red haired boy says enthusiastically.

The little elf gapes at him. Her mother certainly never did any of that, and she was one of the best enchanters of the clan. "I don't think all apostates can do those sorts of things."

"Oh." He looks disappointed again.

Just then the door opens and the Knight Commander enters with a new man and women, these dressed in robes, as well as the Knight Captain Greagoir again. "Here the girl is." Greagoir says.

"A Dalish?" The women's eyes widen. "Greagoir, please tell me your men did not traumatize her trying to remove her." She says looking grim.

"No, no, Wynne, she was alone. There was a small clash between a new settlement and the Dalish, she must have gotten separated in the chaos."

The women named Wynne kneels in front of her, she has pretty silver hair. "Hello Neria." She says gently. "My name is Wynne. Welcome to your new home." She holds out her hand. "I'd like to show you around."

The little elf looks down. These people all keep saying that. "What ab-bout my mommy? Is she dead?" She says in a tiny voice and her lower lip trembles. She hopes a Templar doesn't reprimand her again.

All the adults look rather uncomfortable. She thinks that's the last time she'll ask. "I'm sorry dear, no one could find your mother, and we didn't want to leave you alone. But there's warm apple pie in the kitchens. Let's be the first to go get some." The lady smiles. She's the nicest person Neria's met in a while, besides the red haired boy Cullen, so she gets up and takes her hand.

"You ought not coddle her so, Enchanter." The Knight Commander says, frowning sternly down at the Tower's newest mageling. "She'll adjust better."

"Thank you for your insight, Knight Commander." Wynne says dryly.