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Rowan Trevelyan was born the middle child of a minor noble family in Ostwick. Even in childhood, it was clear his life was somehow destined to be just one inconvenient and improbable turn of events after another. Still, as he often says, he has remained true to who he is despite everything fate has thrown at him: he has never stopped being a thorn in the Chantry's side, or an utter disappointment to his parents.
Rowan has olive skin and shoulder-length dark red hair which he ties up when necessary, along with a faded scar across his left cheek and forehead where a templar blade narrowly missed his eye during a minor skirmish in the early days of the mage rebellion. He is of average height, and used to have a slim build, but gained some muscle when constantly on the move after the Circles disbanded. His eyes, originally brown, were tinted a slightly unnatural red-orange shade by overenthusiastic experimentation as a pre-teen with magic he had pulled from a book and really didn't know how to use. The long-term impacts of the many mistakes of his self-taught magical education remain to be seen, but he hasn't sprouted an extra head yet, and generally calls that a good sign.
At first glance, Rowan seems a poor choice for Inquisitor. He comes across as a lazy, flippant young noble with no convictions or ambitions. Anyone who calls him a friend, however, knows that this is simply an appearance he cultivated in his teenage years to hide his intelligence, shrewdness and passion for magic from his Chantry-affiliated family - an appearance he later maintained out of habit and a conditioned discomfort with honesty. In reality, he is a measured, pragmatic thinker who favours manipulation and negotiation over outright confrontation. His kindness and sense of humour generally make him good company beyond his initial façade, but he can be maliciously sarcastic, holds grudges indefinitely, and is quick to judge, although he hides it relatively well under an energetic and quietly confident manner. For better or worse, he will do almost anything for causes or people he cares about, and will discard morality in pursuit of his goals (or simple self-preservation). Although he tries to appear worldly and charming, most of his knowledge quite obviously comes from books, so he can't get far into a friendship without revealing exactly how much of a nerd he is.
Talents and Skills
- He is a skilled mage with a passion for learning, and uses some techniques uncommon amongst Circle mages, although not always exactly how they were intended to be used, due to his attempts to teach himself from a range of dubious sources.
- He has a way with words and reasoning, and may well have become a diplomat like his younger brother had his magical talent not emerged. He uses this for earnest negotiation and more underhanded tactics in equal measure.
Rowan grew up as the largely ignored middle son of the Trevelyan family. He was disregarded by his parents, who saw far more potential in his older sister, Jaina, who was strong enough to become a skilled warrior, eventually joining the Templar Order, and his younger brother, who was a capable diplomat. Rowan could not serve the family in any comparable way, preferring to spend his days curled up in the library and his nights engaging in Maker knows what activities in the town, returning in the early hours of the morning. He had read voraciously from the family library from a very young age and, thanks to an old templar text on identifying the early signs of magical talent (not a surprising find amongst the shelves of Chantry literature kept by the Trevelyans), had managed to discover and conceal his own abilities shortly before they would have been externally recognisable. Thus, he was able to hide his talents, but he harboured a growing resentment towards his family, towards the Chantry and the Circles whose presence forced him to repress his magic and keep up appearances in the role of a lazy, useless son to fully avert the suspicion that he might be hiding something more important than a deviant lifestyle. His family did little more than tolerate his presence through his teenage years.
As he reached his late teens, his magical study hit a wall. Books on magic were difficult to obtain, and most he could access covered little more than the very basics. There was a limit to what he could discover through intuition and experimentation. His search for wider reading eventually led him to a small, little-known bookbinder's workshop in the outskirts of Ostwick owned by a man named Joril. An eclectic range of literature (much of it pertaining to magic) passed through the shop, and Rowan quickly learned that Joril served clients across Thedas as part of a small Free Marches branch of the Mages' Collective, mostly catering to low-end booksellers who wished to stock magical theory without drawing the ire of the Chantry. Drawn to Rowan's enthusiasm and seemingly sensible manner, Joril agreed to allow him to visit the shop regularly to read the books that passed through before they were collected by couriers, in exchange for a monthly payment, which was no problem for Rowan, given his family's wealth.
Over the following months, Rowan's knowledge and magical ability grew exponentially, as did his interest in Joril personally- the man was no mage, but took such an academic interest in magic that he willingly dedicated his life's work to it. Joril, in turn, marvelled at Rowan's demonstrations of the magic he had only previously seen as theory, as well as his dedication to study and his anti-establishment tendencies - something he would not have expected from a noble. Within a year, their relationship became intimate; they were not in love by any means, but Rowan valued the chance to explore his sexuality for the first time with someone he respected. Joril had reservations both due to the significant age gap and the secretive and unsustainable nature of their arrangement. As their friendship, relationship and academic cooperation continued for several years, however, those concerns faded to the back of his mind. Rowan began to stay later and later in the town before returning home each night, and Joril began to give him books to keep permanently instead of simply allowing him to read those that passed through. For a time, Rowan was content, to the extent that an ambitious youth resentful of almost everyone around him could be.
Nevertheless, as he reached his early twenties, his relationship with his family deteriorated into disaster, in a series of events largely caused by chance and his own carelessness. A visiting cousin, spending his evening in the seedier section of town as young nobles were wont to do, saw Rowan passing by the edge of the district with an armful of notes - an unusual sight in a part of town where people were more likely to be carrying cheap alcohol - and followed him out of idle curiosity to the door of Joril's shop. After not seeing him emerge, the observing cousin wandered back. The next day, however, he decided to visit Joril's nondescript workshop, curious as to what could have his quiet, indolent cousin in such a hurry. Joril typically kept the books on magic tucked away in the back room, but that day, certain he would have no visitors save Rowan, he was finishing up the binding of a particularly controversial volume on necromancy, the title of which Rowan's cousin saw clearly as he entered.
Across the breakfast table the next day, he casually asked Rowan about his interest in 'that odd little bookshop - the one with books on magic'. Having kept his secret without challenge for around a decade, Rowan took a moment to process the implications of the question - a moment in which he froze up completely. Quickly and clumsily, he denied knowledge of the place, but part of him knew his reaction was already enough to make his family suspicious, or at least curious. His older sister, Jaina, a full-fledged templar by this time, was especially disturbed by the slightest hint of a suggestion that her least favourite brother might have an unhealthy interest in magic. When he left that evening, she broke the lock on the chest of drawers in his bedroom, and found page after page of notes on magical experiments, the development of abilities, the dangers of certain techniques, musings on conversations with Joril which, critically, mentioned him by name, along with some offhand phrases alluding to the nature of their relationship. Immediately, she brought these notes before her parents, who tasked the family guards to search the town for a Joril.
The guards, along with Jaina, rather unsubtly flung open the door of Joril's workshop late that evening, Rowan and Joril were in the back room, the former casting a small spell the latter had wanted to see put into practice. Jaina only saw and felt the magic filling the room for an instant, but with her templar training that was more than enough for her to be certain, despite how bizarre it seemed, that her younger brother was a mage. Joril, hearing them enter, immediately moved to greet them but Rowan, upon hearing his sister's voice, rushed ahead of him. The confrontation that followed had featured in Rowan's nightmares many times, but the reality was somewhat underwhelming. He had no opportunity to dramatically denounce the Chantry, eloquently call out the moronic design of their system for controlling mages, or wax lyrical about the beauty of magic. After the initial shock, Jaina simply ordered the guards to drag him back to the castle, and, after some heartfelt expressions of horror, disgust and disappointment from a variety of family members, he was unceremoniously bundled off to the Circle, disgraced on more counts than any other Trevelyan in recent history, which he would forever cite as an achievement.
He offered little resistance; he resented the templars and the Circle administration, of course, but ultimately he recognised that he had nobody but himself to blame for the loss of his future. In the Circle, he fell into an easy state of apathy, learning and bending the rules when he could with a steady level of simmering resentment. He never found out what had happened to Joril. The restrictions of the Circle didn’t hinder his studies greatly; after all, he had no interest in blood magic or other sinister pursuits. The last thing he wanted was to tarnish the reputation of mages even further, or indeed to risk his own life or those of others by getting involved with demons. Still, he felt he was barely living; his existence had been reduced to a small subset of magical study, and he saw many acquaintances and even friends killed or made Tranquil for simply attempting to reclaim parts of their old lives or explore new areas of arcane knowledge that were deemed dangerous or simply too advanced.
Of course, he saw the justifications for the Circles’ existence too - the blood mages and abominations who occasionally cropped up and offed a few templars before being killed in return. To him, however, this was simply further evidence of the Circles’ inefficacy. If the Chantry wanted to end the use of blood magic, Rowan thought, they would be better served negotiating with mages as allies and allowing them to organise independently rather than antagonising them with generalised imprisonment and repression which only drove more angry young idealists down dangerous paths.
Naturally, when whispers of rebellion surfaced, Rowan became as involved as he could. He became an active supporter of the mage rebellion. The Ostwick Circle was rather tame and did not rebel fully, but disbanded quietly. When it did so, Rowan immediately left to join the main body of the rebels, who still seemed to be seeking a diplomatic resolution, a policy he strongly supported. Nevertheless, radical fringes of both the mages and templars were already openly fighting in small skirmishes, some of which the non-extremists were forced to participate in in the name of defence. Thus, he found himself truly using his skills in combat for the first time. Strangely, he found life far more fulfilling as an apostate on the run than he had as a noble, even in his time with Joril. Freedom tasted far better than fine wine ever had. Still, he yearned for a peaceful solution to the conflict as he saw more mages dying or giving in to possession and blood magic by the day.
As overly oppressive and ultimately counterproductive as the Circles were, Rowan could see more evidence of the dangers of completely unregulated apostasy by the day. He had maintained a normal life and avoided causing harm whilst living as essentially an apostate in his teenage years, but he knew that had only been possible due to his position of privilege and the specific knowledge he could access thanks to Joril. Some of the mages now fighting for the rebellion, he knew, would be public menaces if let loose without a cause to fight for. Still, he knew better than to think this was their fundamental nature. Above all, the paranoia and resentment induced by a society hostile to magical talent was to blame for their anger and instability.
Rowan was as happy as the next man to run around flinging the occasional fireball at templars in the name of revolution, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was fighting for an intangible end, or, worse, an undesirable one. It wouldn’t be long until the rebellion’s relatively diplomatic beginnings descended into full-scale war; skirmishes were already common. Something had to change before that happened. Thus, in the evenings and during any time he had away from the immediate conflict, he found himself theorising obsessively about the organisation of the mages after the hypothetical (and admittedly unlikely) victory of the rebellion. The Circles, in their current form, would have to be abolished, but their resources and infrastructure could be appropriated for the creation of academies in the vein of those found in the Imperium. He was hesitant to draw that comparison, knowing Tevinter’s reputation for tyranny and corruption, but he hoped the southern mages would be able to avoid following the same path as their northern counterparts. Still, how would they toe the line between the templars’ forced institutionalisation and the Imperium’s rampant abuse of magic?
He supposed the most reasonable compromise would be to offer the Circles as optional but encouraged centres of education, run entirely by mages with no templar influence but routine inspection from an elected council of mages seeking to minimise corruption and the use of harmful magic. As for those who refused to attend the reformed Circles… they would be left to their own devices. There was no reason to persecute mages simply for existing. Nevertheless, any reports of unusual magical activity (read: blood magic or demon-summoning) would be investigated by career enforcers (all mages, naturally) under the supervision of the council. This would provide a role for those mages radicalised beyond all reason by the rebellion, appeasing them by allowing them to stay in service of their ideals. The Rite of Tranquility, of course, would be outlawed. For those mages who harmed civilians with deliberate, malicious magic, it would be one of the two more merciful alternatives: reform or death.
This was the best solution Rowan could envisage, and he knew the leadership of the rebellion shared most of his goals - there were already whispers of the establishment of the College of Enchanters - but he still harboured a nagging concern. How could they create a mage-governed system which did not reward corruption and treachery? Namely, could they avoid making the same deadly errors recorded in Tevinter history? He had read a great deal about the Imperium as a child - it was unavoidable, with the sheer number of incredibly tedious history books kept by his family - but most of that had amounted to thousands of pages of affected outrage and vivid, overemotional descriptions of atrocities committed in the name of magical study that, if the reader had any grasp of magic, seemed more than a little implausible. Really, he didn’t know enough about it to be able to definitively say his ideas wouldn’t lead to the same end.
Before he could answer this concern to any satisfying extent, however, he was sent to the Conclave to help to arrange a favourable peace settlement with the templars. The leadership of the mage rebellion had chosen him, amongst others because of his noble birth, his lack of significant crimes and his knack for negotiation. He was neither notorious enough nor dangerous enough to be a true target for the templars, so stood a good chance of maintaining the talks’ peace and civility. On a personal note, he was determined to make the most of the opportunity to outline the plans for the mages’ organisation to the opposing side, to attempt to understand their mindset, despite his unwavering hatred for them. His goal was to demonstrate that mages had both the will and the ability to self-regulate in a constructive manner.
He saw his sister briefly at the Conclave, from across a small crowd; as a respected templar, she was on the other side of the talks. Of course, that was the last time he saw her.
His disdain for the Chantry in general made the establishment of the Inquisition difficult for him and everyone else involved, and although he accepted the title of Herald in public due to the influence it gave him, he found the idea that Andraste would have chosen him, of all people, ridiculous.
Initially, the advisors tried to limit his role in governing the Inquisition. He had played the role of a lazy, sarcastic and superficial young noble for so long that he had almost begun to believe it himself, and that was still the first impression he gave. However, behind this front hid his keen intellect and the quiet competence he had developed through his studies and the daily struggle of keeping his magic hidden. As those in the Inquisition realised this and saw evidence of his skill and intelligence, they began to place more trust in him. His dedication to stopping Corypheus was genuine, since he had destroyed the mages' chance at negotiating a beneficial peace settlement - the destruction of the Conclave had dashed years' worth of Rowan's hopes.
As the Inquisition attempted to seal the breach, Rowan obviously chose to approach his fellow mages for aid and saw the dark future come to pass at Redcliffe as he desperately tried to prevent the rebels from inadvertently enslaving themselves to the Venatori and the Elder One. Time magic in itself, however, he found incredible, and he was still discussing it with Dorian months later, along with countless other topics.
When he was named Inquisitor, Rowan swore to set an example as a mage and use the resources and influence at his disposal to help the rebels organise independently and hopefully garner popular support.
Predictably, he was fascinated by the magical theory behind rifts and the Anchor, and, through studying it with the help of Solas and others, became adept in manipulating rift energy to his advantage to weaken and control enemies.
When he met Elliott Hawke, one of the mages instrumental in the beginning of the rebellion in Kirkwall, Rowan wasn't sure what to expect. What he saw surprised him. Hawke was an unerringly good man - a far better man than Rowan, certainly - who seemed to carry a burning contradiction between his gentle idealism and the morally unjustifiable, violent ends it had led to. Still, Hawke's influence could help keep the rebellion diplomatic and reasonable, so Rowan saved him from the Fade at Adamant, asking Stroud to cover their escape. Incidentally, Rowan was hugely relieved to find out it had been the Divine, not Andraste, behind him in the Fade. Outwardly, however, he shrugged it off as a matter of no importance; the more people who believed he had some kind of heavenly mandate for his actions, the easier it would be to achieve his goals.
Rowan thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Winter Palace despite the tense occasion, and not only because it gave him and Dorian an opportunity to cause just the right amount of scandal with their dance, but because the entire situation suited his skillset. Eventually, Florianne was arrested, and Celene and Briala ruled together. Gaspard could have been useful, but Rowan didn't trust his militaristic tendencies - he seemed as likely to march on the Inquisition as support it. Granted, he didn't know their history, but Celene seemed moderate and diplomatic, and Briala's abilities could complement that well. Also, although he was reluctant to admit it to himself, the whole romantic image of reunited lovers appealed to part of him. He hadn't fully understood love until quite recently - he got the concept, of course, but to experience it was something else entirely.
At the Temple of Mythal, Rowan made a deal with the ancient elves to avoid accidentally committing some kind of residual genocide. Although he did not trust Morrigan and fully expected betrayal, he let her drink from the Well of Sorrows due to its apparently serious risks. He was pleasantly surprised by the result and her subsequent actions, and found the situation with her mother extremely amusing.
As the conflict concluded, Rowan supported Leliana as Divine. If her drastic reforms were to succeed, it would work in his favour. If she were to meet with so much opposition that the Chantry tore itself apart in civil war, losing the trust of the people and the public mandate to control the mages... well, it was a win-win situation for him.
Despite having considered Solas a close friend, Rowan swore to stop him at all costs after the revelation at the Exalted Council. Sure, elves had been oppressed and mistreated, and he endeavoured to help them where he could, but his loyalty was to human civilisation above all, and Solas had gone too far.
He disbanded the Inquisition, having never fully trusted or wanted its power. The only alternative would have been to swear allegiance to a Divine whose rule likely wouldn't last a decade, or face the aggression of Orlais and Ferelden. Not worth the trouble.