Transmutation, Chapter 1

First-Day Jitters

Cullen’s first day at the Ferelden Circle of Magi in Kinloch Hold was nothing like what his Templar training had led him to expect. Instead of slavering fiends waiting for a moment’s inattention to burst into full demonic flower he found children carrying books, elderly women who looked more like his grandmother than dangerous maniacs, and young people studying and engaging in lively debates.

He had first joined the Order as a recruit at the age of fourteen, fresh from the farm, filled with self-assurance and love for Andraste. The good Sisters had cropped his red-gold curls short, fit him for long skirts and his first shiny breastplate, and given him a sword. He and a dozen others had sworn to loyalty and devotion to the Maker and his bride. It was, in short, as thrilling as he’d expected…for about a week.

Then he discovered that most of his time would be spent studying and learning Chantry history and scripture. Lessons began with reading. None but the wealthiest young people recently accepted could make out so much as their own names much less the ornate and dusty tomes containing the Chant of Light. Rote memorization and long lectures filled the hours between chores and meals.