I wanted to participate in the Cullen Week, of course just to have an excuse to draw his different armors lol But i was busy yesterday… and i don’t care: Origin Cullen! I will color it later… now i will do DA2 Cullen x)
im just putting it out there that while anders in awakening states that he has escaped seven times his codex entry in da2 says that he had to be recaptured and returned dozens of times
so im just going to go ahead and ponder 2 alternatives. either
a) seven are the times that he actually got to be free long enough to catch his breath so he counts dozens of others as failures
b) his escape attempts are something of a legend that inspires templar recruit training to this day kind of like that math problem guy who buys 213 melons and has to share them equally between his 78 friends only with a more mcgyver-esque twist: “your charge is notorious apostate anders. you have located him but he has a staff, 4 friends in the brothel and half of a templar armor. what do you do?”
“Giant spiders,” Hawke told his companions, as his ears rang with the sound of his sister’s back breaking, and his nose filled with the stench of his mother’s decay. From the darkness, his brother’s eyes glowed red and hateful with the taint of red lyrium. Carver’s templar armor was dull, dented, and rusted.
The Nightmare whispered in his ear with all the terrible tenderness of a lover. “Do you think anything you did ever mattered?” it asked, and fingers of ice crept slowly down his spine as he watched the spread of blood staining snowy white hair.
He swallowed, and his throat felt tight and hot. He heard Fenris scream, his voice cracking, breaking, raw.
It’s the first time he’s been able to choose his own daily outfit since he was a child. So what does he do? First, pragmatism: he keeps the basic protection of full plate armor, but ditches the infamous Templar skirt in favor of practical leather breeches.
But then he takes that armor, and he covers it in soft, organic material. Leather gloves instead of steel gauntlets. Shaggy fur to replace the over-compensating, pointy pauldrons. Fabric to wrap around his chest plate. Not coincidentally, he leaves only one spot of his chest plate exposed: the place where the Templar sword glaringly isn’t.
Early on, the Iron Bull comments on how Cullen’s Templar past is unmistakeable – and it is, don’t get me wrong. Still, his clothing in Inquisition says to me that he’s trying, very deliberately, to be a new person. The symbolism of covering his templar armor with mage-appropriate fabrics may not be conscious, but it’s surely significant.
A Dragon Age fic | Read it on AO3 | Cullen & Meredith
Cullen is on his knees in the Chantry when the message arrives: Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard, of Kirkwall is in Greenfell, and wishes to speak with him.
It is cold and quiet, not yet close to dawn. It will be a while before the first of the brothers will wake, and flutter into the Chantry, armed with incense, and their enviably unshakable faith in the Maker’s plan – but Cullen is always at prayer at this hour. He can hear the rain – it is nearly constant at this time of year – through the shuttered windows. The messenger shifts from foot to foot, impatiently, clearly eager to deliver him to the Knight-Commander, and head back to bed.
The tone of the message is polite enough, but Cullen knows a command when he hears one.
I’ve always wondered what it was that brought Cullen to the point of turning on Meredith. I’m sure the process was a long one as the road to acknowledgement of one’s wrongs often is. This is definitely the beginning of a journey, and it’s definitely one that isn’t over by the time you finish Inquisition. 800 words.
Cullen isn’t sure when the circle began feeling like a cage, but it has. It doesn’t help that Meredith’s rule borders on tyrannical. Or maybe it does. He’s hardly sure these days.
But he knows what a cage feels like, and the Gallows is it. The feeling was almost imperceptible at first - the growing dislike turned into full blown loathing. He can’t even say when it began, only that the flaming sword no longer seems a mercy, but a judgement. He takes every opportunity to leave with too much enthusiasm, just for the chance to breathe freely again.
And then come these thoughts, quiet whispers, unbidden. They claw and rage as he tries to put them down, but some days they are stronger. They ask questions he doesn’t want to think about, things he’s vowed not to. What if leaving wasn’t an option? What might he do for a gulp of air untinged by the Gallows? What if he were a mage and sentenced to a life behind high stone walls? Each mage they capture has this look, and it’s one he knows well, betrayed by their own bodies their eyes are haunted, fearful. He is not unaware that all that separates him from his charges is the Maker’s will - whatever that is.
His armor feels heavy. Not like it did as a new recruit, all righteous duty and faithful service. No, it has grown heavy with something rancid. He longs for those quiet hours in his quarters when he removes the plate and becomes in the darkness, Cullen. Just Cullen. In those long hours of night, he barely sleeps, but he is himself and that is something more than he has felt in years.
Cullen has two types of mornings now, if he manages to sleep at all. Or perhaps it is just one kind, since they almost always start with old fears haunting, with nightmares that are never far away. There’s something about the still dark blue hours that draws them. He does not wake surprised anymore, he at least manages not to give them that.
Each morning, he finds himself reciting his prayers, and sometimes he feels them. Feels that sense of duty, that faith burning brightly. But more often he finds himself wondering, wandering. Is this truly what the Maker intended? This world, this life, this cage?
It doesn’t matter how the morning begins, the ritual before he leaves his quarters is the same. He reaches with a shaking hand for his philter, and wonders not for the first time, if once your sacrifices are made, if you are leashed until the day you die? Templars. Mages. The cage is different, but they are confined all the same.
He intercedes when he dares, which isn’t often enough. Meredith’s punishments are far too harsh, but he can’t look any mage in the eye now. He sees a reflection of himself, that longing for freedom, for a gulp of fresh air beyond stone walls. Following orders was easier when he believed they weren’t like him. Some days he still believes that they aren’t.
When the Chantry explodes and Meredith plays her hand and challenges Hawke, a part of him - the part that he is when darkness falls - screams and thrashes for him to do something. He swore to protect, and he has not done enough. Never enough. He wonders if Cullen and Knight-Captain Cullen can exist in the same armor, same space. His sense of duty toils with his heart, but it wasn’t duty that sustained him in Kinloch and it won’t due to rely on that now. He turns his sword on Meredith.
It is hardly enough, but it is something.
Kirkwall is in chaos, he would have left if he could. To where he’s not sure, but then there’s no one else to keep order, to keep people safe. And after all, isn’t that what he vowed to do? As Kirkwall settles, the more lost he becomes, and when Seeker Pentaghast arrives it is almost as if she is Maker sent. She comes at the behest of the Divine, so maybe she is, though he’s hardly worthy of the Maker’s hand.
She offers him a different path. It is his heart he listens to again, hopes with and yearns with. He sets aside the templar armor, he’s not sure if he’s unworthy of it now or if it just doesn’t fit right anymore, but he leaves it behind all the same. The vambraces he keeps, strapped to his forearms like promises. They are a reminder too, of where he was, who he was, and who he is trying to be. The Divine intends to build a new world, and he wants to be part of it. To protect, but to ensure something too.
Giving The Right Gifts, or Three Times King Alistair Met The Divine
I. Divine Victoria greets the King and Queen of Fereldan seated on the Sunburst Throne, dressed in a cloth-of-gold raiment, flanked by fully-armored Templars and rows upon rows of richly clothed attendants. At a gesture of her hand, a Revered Mother steps forward to present Anora with a spectacular cloak. It matches her dress perfectly, and is embroidered with the Fereldan Mabari on the back. For Alistair, a Knight-Commander brings a sword. It’s not simple, the hilt worked with gold and gems, but it’s sturdy. He’s almost sure he could use it. Divine Victoria smiles beatifically at them as Anora says appropriately grateful things. Alistair knows Divine Victoria’s position isn’t as stable as she’s trying to make it look– she is a mage, after all. But he’s learned that half of diplomacy is giving the right gifts to the right people, and she’s passed that test with flying colors.
II. It’s hard to keep a straight face when Leliana– he means Her Holiness Divine Victoria, of course– meets him and Anora in the Imperial Chantry. She’s dressed just like a Divine should be, but the lay sister he met in a Fereldan Tavern is still lingering underneath. She’s probably got thirty daggers under her Imperial Vestments, but he knows better than to ask. Anora had been uncertain about the gift he’d suggested bringing, and convincing her had used up all his leniency for jokes. But Leliana loves them: tiny gold crowns, replicas of his own, just the right size for a pampered lap-nug. Anora concedes his victory with a small smirk before she begins a conversation about when the Divine might visit them in Ferelden.
III. He’d heard about the Seekers of Truth during his training with the Templars. Divine Victoria is every bit as intimating as she’d been when she was Seeker Pentaghast. Her hat is leagues more impressive than his crown, he thinks. The gold embroidery catches the light as she welcomes him and Anora with a stiff spine and a stiffer scowl. When he bows to kiss the back of her hand, he feels the calluses of years of sword-work. She doesn’t laugh at his awkward jokes, but she doesn’t seem as comfortable as Anora, either. It’s not until he asks if there’s some sort of training ring, where he can cross swords with true Templars for the first time in ages– and maybe her Holiness enjoys the occasional friendly bout as well?– that she smiles.