This is for the sweet djkaeru, who played with the prompt generator and got this: Karl Thekla/Cailan Theirin - Not the first time, nor the last. And I went, hmm yes!
It was rare for a mage to be let out of the tower and thus an event to be treasured, and while Karl had dearly wished to be out of it he would have liked it to be under different circumstances.
Not like this, during a Blight to be sent to aid the King’s army. Not having to travel through strangely desolate landscape towards a waiting battlefield that he might or might not return from alive.
And if he did survive it, they would only put him back in the tower like a tool returned to storage, as if that was all he was in their eyes, and all he would ever be allowed to be. This was not the first time that mages had been allowed outside the walls of the Circle to be used and treated as nothing more human or elven weapons, and it would not be the last.
Karl sighed. He could always join the Grey Wardens, he supposed – that Duncan fellow had been eyeing him with an interest that went beyond simple appreciation for a fellow well-groomed beard, so perhaps he viewed him as possible Warden material. He would still be considered a living weapon in that order, but possibly not more so than any other warden, and at least he would be allowed outside. And hopefully the Wardens would not insist on outfitting their mages with such ridicilous hats as the Circle did.
The ones that went with the standard robes were quite frankly embarrassing, and Karl simply refused to wear them, beneficial enchantments or not. He had given up on the robes as well; if he was to be sent to the front lines of an epic battle, it would not be in a skirt but proper armour. Enchanted fabric was all well and good, but if he was going to be anywhere near darkspawn he much preferred to have something sturdier than simple cloth to protect him. Duncan had seemed to approve of his demands and Karl had been outfitted in leather armour meant for a rogue, anything heavier available being too heavy for someone who usually kept to walking up and down stairs while carrying books as means of exercise.
That, and… some other, more frivioulus activities, of course.
But there was to be none of that to be had here in the army’s camp. It was a place of preparation of a different kind, where the graveness of their situation hung thick in the air. Karl spoke little with anyone but Wynne or Duncan, who seemed like a practical man. They had discussed the usefulness of magic and what an absolute waste it was to lock mages up in Circles instead of letting them put their talents to purposeful use. The more they talked, the more joining the Wardens seemed like a viable option. He knew full well that Duncan could simply conscript him if he so wished, but Karl suspected that he wanted him to want it for himself. It made him think of Anders, who had always been much better at that wanting part than he. He had worried for him more than usual during this escape, but it made an amount of tactical sense to be on the run during a Blight. It was very distracting, he had to give it that. And frying a few darkspawn would probably do Anders good, get rid of some of that excess energy he tended to have in abundance.
When Cailan, their king, came to greet Duncan, it had been necessary for Karl to fight back the urge to smile. He would never tell Anders the king had reminded him of him if they met again; he would only let it go to his head. But his enthusiasm brought so much of Anders to mind that Karl had been able to forget the impending battle for a while.