This novel centers around how the Templar Order, the Seekers of Truth and the Circle of Magi all broke off from Chantry control and engaged in a full scale Mage-Templar War. The story takes place in Orlais and starts in 9:40 Dragon, three years after the events of Dragon Age II Act 3, but prior to Varric's interrogation by Cassandra Pentaghast.
The book was released on December 20, 2011 in the US. The UK version was released on December 23, 2011. A deluxe edition was released by Dark Horse Books on March 19, 2019, featuring new illustrations by Stefano Martino, Andres Ponce, German Ponce and Alvaro Sarraseca.
A mystical killer stalks the halls of the White Spire, the heart of templar power in the mighty Orlesian Empire. To prove his innocence, Rhys reluctantly embarks on a journey into the western wastelands that will not only reveal much more than he bargained for but change the fate of his fellow mages forever.
Late autumn, 9:40 Dragon
Cole is the Ghost of the Spire. Most its inhabitants don't see him at all and few are able to catch a glimpse. When the templars brought him, a mage, to the Spire and left him alone in a dark dungeon cell, he wished to be forgotten and prayed for death. Now Cole is unaware what he is. He is stalking the lower levels of the Circle tower, called "the Pit".
Two templars bring a weeping mage girl to the prison at the heart of the Pit. Cole steals the key and sneaks into her cell. The girl can see him, and Cole tells her this is the reason why he came. He draws a dagger and promises that he will make her pain and fear go away. The girl confesses that she set fire and killed her family on purpose. Cole asks the girl to look at him and stabs her. He is anchored in her eyes and he feels real.
The palace ballroom is crowded with Orlesian nobles in beautiful attire and masks. While speaking and dancing they are playing the Game of influence. Empress Celene is missing, but Divine Justinia V is the guest of honor. She is accompanied by priests and guarded by the templar Evangeline, the only person carrying a weapon. Evangeline is approached by Leliana, who turns out to be the Divine's agent. While they are talking, a young templar arrives and informs Evangeline about a new murder in the Spire. He also tells that an old friend from Ferelden wants to see Leliana, and she leaves.
As the ball is winding down, the Divine starts a speech about the mages, much to the surprise of the nobility. She is interrupted by the mage Jeannot who secretly got into the room. He reveals that the Chantry has disbanded the College of Enchanters and rages that treatment of mages by the Chantry has worsened since the incident at Kirkwall. Unwilling to listen to reason, Jeannot attacks the Divine. People scream and rush in panic. In the ensuing fight Jeannot turns to blood magic and Evangeline manages to kill him before she drops senseless. She comes to outside the burning palace. Leliana tells Evangeline that she was healed by a Circle mage and that the Divine wasn't hurt.
Two senior enchanters, Rhys and Adrian, are waiting in the Knight-Commander's antechamber atop the White Spire. They are discussing the murders. Adrian is angry, and Rhys recalls how since the closure of the College of Magi and the rebellion in Kirkwall, permissions for travel were suspended and gatherings were forbidden.
Finally, First Enchanter Edmonde walks out and Rhys is summoned to the office by Evangeline, but there is no Knight-Commander Eron inside: Lord Seeker Lambert is now in command. He asks Rhys about the killings and claims that other mages professed ignorance on the matter. Rhys retells the rumors that there were between five and twelve victims, including a farm boy who died in a cell screaming, other initiates and apprentice Jolen. Then Lambert inquires him about senior enchanter Jeannot, implying that the murderer must have also used blood magic, as all six actual victims were stabbed and allowed to bleed out. He mentions that Rhys is a spirit medium who researched spirits, and Evangeline adds that he is the member of the Libertarians fraternity to which Jeannot belonged. Angered, Rhys refuses to answer further questions.
After Adrian's interrogation, Circle mages are discussing the news in the commons until the templars order them to retire to their chambers. At night Rhys creeps out of his room and summons a wisp to distract a sentry. He accesses a secret passage to the Pit, but slips on the stairs. As he stands up and lights the orb on his staff, he discovers that Cole is in the room. Rhys asks if Cole is the murderer.
A year ago Rhys first noticed Cole. Adrian was unable to see him, but Rhys did not sense him as a demon. Then Rhys learned of the rumors about the ghost and went to the Pit. When Rhys found him there, Cole stated that he didn't know how he'd got out of the cell and why he was invisible, and that those who saw him would forget about it. He begged Rhys not to tell the templars. Rhys kept coming back, but with increased scrutiny on mages the visits became infrequent. At their last meeting a month ago Cole was questioning if he was not dead.
Now, Cole doesn't deny that he is the killer. He mentions that he saw Jeannot conspiring with other mages in the crypt. Cole describes feeling like sinking in the darkness and claims that he knew the victims would see him and when they die, he feels important for them and therefore real. Rhys tries to make Cole come with him, but Cole runs away, with a dagger in his hand. Rhys chases after him, casting spells.
Evangeline discovers Rhys missing. She and Edmonde unlock the dwarven door to the phylactery chamber. Huge pillars in it are lined with glowing crimson vials and encircled by a metal staircase. Evangeline takes Rhys's phylactery. She notices that the blood's glow intensifies as she walks down the stairs. She warns dungeon guards and descends into the templar crypts, led by the sounds of a battle. There she finds Rhys with his staff ready for an attack. He shows no resistance, but refuses to tell what is going on. Evangeline knocks Rhys unconscious. She sees no one else around. As she leaves with Rhys over her shoulder, she feels that she is being watched.
Rhys is in a cold dark cell, his hands manacled. He has lost track of time and is starving and almost delirious. Earlier Evangeline asked questions, but he remained silent. A templar tells Rhys that he is released. After four days in custody everything feels unreal. Rhys is given new clothes, food and a bath.
Several hundred mages have gathered in the great hall. Adrian tells that when Rhys went missing a group of mages raised a ruckus. In a conversation with other Libertarians, Rhys is asked if he will stand with them. Before he can answer all mages are urged to take seats. Edmonde has little to say. Then Wynne arrives. She is not welcome: she led the College of Enchanters to vote against independence prior to its closure. Wynne speaks about the dangers of magic and advises the mages to be patient. Rhys objects that it's easy when Wynne has more freedoms than any of them. Other mages leap from their chairs and start to argue. The templars make everyone leave the hall.
Rhys is asked to see Lambert. Adrian enters the office with him. They see Lambert, Evangeline and Wynne. To Adrian's astonishment Rhys calls Wynne mother. Lambert informs that Rhys was let out of the cell upon her request. Wynne explains that her Tranquil friend researched demons and became an abomination. She asks Rhys, a spirit medium, to go to the Western Approach to help her friend. She tells that another friend had introduced her to the Divine, who then gave a written permission to do what Wynne sees fit. Rhys agrees, hoping to gain knowledge about Cole's curse in order to prove his innocence. Since the ritual requires three mages, Adrian also joins the venture. Lambert orders Evangeline to accompany the mages.
Cole is desperate to talk to Rhys, but fear keeps him at distance. He overhears that Rhys is leaving and follows the templar who was in the crypt to learn more. He recalls sitting in front of Rhys's cell hesitant to speak. Cole slips into Evangeline's room. Then Lambert knocks on the door. He doesn't see Cole but feels something is wrong. He gives Evangeline three phylacteries and orders her to kill the mages should they discover that the Rite of Tranquility can be reversed.
Rhys, Wynne, Adrian and Evangeline have left Val Royeaux. They stop near a highway inn; Evangeline and Adrian go inside to replenish supplies. Rhys remembers how Wynne found him after the Blight and then disappeared. Wynne confesses that she had come to the White Spire now because it was close to the Divine's residence. There she learned that Rhys was in the dungeons and decided to help him. They argue about mages. Both are disappointed in each other.
Four days later the group is crossing the Heartlands' farmland. Passersby speak of riots in Val Foret, gangs hired by country lords and a battle in the east. Wynne tells that it is war: Grand Duke Gaspard is moving against the Empress and has lured her to Halamshiral with the story of an elven rebellion so as to ambush her. Wynne rejected an offer to join Gaspard on her way from Ferelden through the Dales.
A heavy rain starts when the group enters the town of Velun not far from where Evangeline grew up. They decide to stay at an inn instead of camping. Inside, everyone stares at them. They order food and drinks. Adrian bets she can drink more dwarven ale than Wynne. Adrian is a complete wreck. Wynne's composure is slipping: she talks about the Archdemon and the Warden and then discloses that she had lain with a templar, who fathered Rhys.
A huge burly man disturbs the conversation. He growls that mages are cursed: not only did they try to kill Her Holiness, but the local landowner's daughter also burned down the house with her father in it two weeks ago. Other patrons are outraged as well. Adrian starts to cast a spell, but Evangeline interrupts her. The man moves to attack. Evangeline points her sword at him and states firmly that she is here to protect the mages and the folk from each other. Within minutes the crowd dissipates. Out of fear, Evangeline decides they will sleep in the hayloft instead of the inn's rooms.
At night Rhys finds Cole in the town. Yesterday Rhys noticed him following the group. Cole says that he is sorry and warns Rhys about the Lord Seeker's order to Evangeline. Rhys feels bad for Cole and hugs him. Cole refuses to go back to the tower and runs away. Evangeline is waiting for Rhys. She asks where he was; Rhys reveals that he knows of Lambert's order. He tells Evangeline about Cole, but conceals that Cole is the murderer. Evangeline is unconvinced.
In the morning Rhys recalls his stay in Tevinter with his mentor, Arvin, and the hostility of its citizens towards Orlesians. The group decides to avoid towns in future. In the evening Rhys reveals everything about Cole to Adrian and Wynne. Wynne suggests that Cole could be a demon, and Adrian says she would gladly kill him. Rhys is unsure how much Evangeline overheard. It takes several days to move out of the verdant Heartlands into the muddy Provinces. Everyone ignores Rhys now. West of Montsimmard bandits block the way, but they vanish when over a hundred soldiers led by chevaliers appear. Rhys doesn't see that Cole is on the road behind.
The group reaches the Western Approach, a cold desert with purple sands, jutting rocks and strong winds. During the Second Blight, darkspawn swarmed out of the great chasm and corrupted the land. Tall iron towers mark the path. Wynne explains that her friend, Pharamond, lived in Adamant Fortress, which was built by the Grey Wardens centuries ago. There, the thinness of the Veil allowed him to conduct research at the Chantry's behest; a month ago she came seeking aid for another friend only to find the fortress filled with demons. At night the air grows still, and they see the Abyssal Rift, a jagged chasm a mile across. They set up camp near the second tower.
Rhys stands alone on the lip of the Abyssal Rift and stares into its depths. He remembers Cole speaking of drowning. Wynne arrives. As they talk she mentions that had she not intervened, he would be Tranquil. Suddenly Rhys is hit by an arrow. He sees darkspawn attack and Wynne summon an electrical storm that kills the first wave before he loses consciousness.
Rhys wakes up on his horse, Wynne having healed his injuries. The darkspawn are gone for the moment, Adrian and Evangeline having helped drive them off. The group arrive at Adamant fortress to find it a graveyard, the bodies of the fortress's inhabitants left to rot where they were killed by demons. Waiting inside the fortress are a squad of templars, sent by Lord Seeker Lambert to assist Evangeline, as well as an old friend of Wynne's: the golem Shale, who is still looking into ways to regain her mortality. The golem has been ensuring that the demon possessing Pharamond has not tried to escape. With Pharamond's laboratory in the deepest part of the fortress, the companions begin to make their way down.
Meanwhile, Cole, who is still following the group, is alone in the darkness, terrified of being discovered by the darkspawn and being driven mad by strange 'music' he can hear from the depths (music that also calls to the darkspawn). He is desperately trying to find Rhys and while searching the fortress, he finds a girl hiding from the horrors that are prowling. Though he contemplates killing her, he doesn't, out of fear of what Rhys, the only friend he has, will think of him. He directs the girl to head to the surface where the templars might be able to help her, though Cole doesn't believe so. He then heads deeper into Adamant, resuming his search for Rhys.
Wynne, Rhys, Adrian, Evangeline and Shale continue to go deeper into Adamant's passages, finally reaching Pharamond's laboratory, though they have to fight their way through packs of ghouls that have made their lairs outside the lab. Once inside, they find the abomination Pharamond has become waiting for them. The demon is bound within a circle of wards created by Pharamond, and they realise that Pharamond, by accident or design, allowed the demons that overran the fortress through the Veil. The demon also tries to play the group against each other, revealing through insinuations Evangeline's true purpose to destroy the information and kill them if it is found to be detrimental to the Chantry, nearly starting a fight between Evangeline and Adrian. The demon also implies that Pharamond has found a way to reverse the Rite of Tranquility, which only adds more fuel to the argument between the two women, Evangeline arguing the necessity of the Rite while Adrian views it as even more cruel than simply executing mages. However, Rhys and Wynne bring an end to the argument, pointing out that fighting amongst themselves in exactly what the demon wants. The group return to their task and Rhys, Wynne and Adrian enter the Fade to confront the demon.
Cole finds himself caught up in the middle of a battle, lost in a burning city with people running for their lives as darkspawn destroy everything in their path. He fights and kills several darkspawn, but there are too many and Cole is forced to run, encountering Rhys and his companions, who can all see him. It turns out that Cole has merely been brought into the Fade with them, and that they are caught up in one of Wynne's nightmares, namely the Battle of Denerim. All of Rhys's companions are suspicious of Cole, particularly when it becomes clear that he is responsible for the murders at the White Spire, but before they can deal with him, the archdemon itself launches an attack. The group are barely able to survive the ferocity of the dragon's assault, and Cole gets separated from them in the confusion, while the others escape into a different part of the Fade.
The group agree to Rhys's insistence that they find Cole in the Fade to help him and they split up: Rhys and Evangeline go after Cole, while Adrian and Wynne continue hunting the demon possessing Pharamond. They find Cole trapped in a nightmare in the Fade, reliving a memory of his traumatic childhood, being threatened by a demon in the form of his abusive, magic-hating father. Evangeline slays the demon and Rhys is able to coax Cole to safety from the nightmare.
Meanwhile, Wynne and Adrian find themselves in a new section of the Fade, resembling Val Royeaux, a memory of Pharamond's. It soon becomes apparent that it is a nightmare, as there are no templars and the White Spire is now populated entirely by Tranquil mages. The demon possessing Pharamond makes its presence known, mocking and tormenting them, but when the fight erupts, Wynne changes, becoming stronger and more powerful, easily overpowering the pride demon and banishing it.
Back in the real world, the group discover Pharamond has been freed of the demon's control and is back to himself, though his joy turns to horror when the elf realises he is responsible for the deaths of everyone in the fortress. Pharamond explains that he had been researching the Rite of Tranquility at the Chantry's behest for years, to see if he could find a viable alternative. Upon realising that the Rite couldn't be studied or repaired in the real world, he had to do it within the Fade. Since demons find Tranquil undesirable to possess, he had to lure one in, and while the possession was accidental, the touch of the demon on his mind reversed the Rite. He adds that it does not require a demon's touch to do so, just that of any Fade spirit, creating a viable alternative to the Rite of Tranquility. Adrian is adamant that this knowledge be preserved since it would end the Rite and the templars' potential to abuse it, while Evangeline, still following orders, argues the necessity of the Rite and that the knowledge is too dangerous. Before violence ensues, Rhys suggests an alternative: since their mission and Pharamond's research were ordered by the Divine, they should present their findings to her, a decision all of them agree to.
The group also find Cole and convince him to return with them so as to end Rhys's implication in the White Spire murders. However, Evangeline promises to defend him, saying that the first duty of templars is to protect mages and that the Circle failed Cole once, and she won't allow it again.
The group journey back to Val Royeaux, with Wynne sending Shale ahead to deliver a message of their findings to the Montsimmard Circle, with instructions to pass it on to the White Spire using a sending stone - a magical device that facilitates long-distance communication. Signs of the raging civil war are more obvious.
When they make camp, Evangeline and Rhys discuss Cole, more cordially than their previous discussions. Evangeline doesn't believe Lambert and the templars will be inclined to listen to their explanations regarding Cole, and offers Rhys a chance to destroy his phylactery, and take Cole to safety in Ferelden or Tevinter, saying that she is choosing between doing her duty and doing what is right, that Cole deserves a second chance and Rhys should have the right to choose his own path.
Adrian talks to Rhys next, arguing that he should do more to oppose the templars and that if they try to make an example of him, the mages will fight to defend him. But Rhys refuses, wanting to help Cole and fearing a repeat of what happened at Kirkwall. He tries to reason that as his mother had said, there are other options, but Adrian insists Rhys shouldn't trust Wynne, relating what happened in the Fade and her fear that Wynne is an abomination.
The next day, Rhys confronts Wynne about what Adrian says. She explains her relationship with the Spirit of Faith she is a host for, that it saved her life during the Fifth Blight and that she believes it is keeping her alive for some purpose, though she doesn't know what. She also requests that Rhys learn Pharamond's ritual to reverse Tranquility, fearing that while the Divine supports mages and wishes for things to change, the templars and the Chantry are less likely to be as accommodating to change after centuries of tradition. Wynne also states her belief that the Circle doesn't need to be destroyed, as Adrian and the Libertarians believe, but it can be improved; however, until the templars and the Chantry realise this, the mages must protect themselves, and ensuring he knows the ritual would make Rhys indispensable. Rhys is disgusted that his mother and his friend are trying to use him for their own purposes but reluctantly agrees.
The group reaches Val Royeaux to find it in disarray: an army is encamped outside the walls and there is evidence of rioting due to the ongoing civil war. They are escorted into the city by Lord Seeker Lambert himself. The Lord Seeker is furious that Evangeline failed to complete her orders, in addition to allowing Wynne to send a message regarding their findings to the White Spire and Grand Cathedral before he could keep word from getting out, and threatens to strip her of her commission as Knight-Captain. Evangeline is not fazed by his threats. It is also clear that Lambert still holds Rhys responsible for the murders, though he reluctantly remarks that nothing will be decided until the Divine has been consulted.
The group are summoned to the Grand Cathedral to meet with the Divine. The Divine waves aside Lambert's advice that she need not concern herself (knowing that he is trying to keep her from interfering) and requests to know their findings. Pharamond explains his success in finding an alternative to the Rite of Tranquility, to which Divine Justinia takes great interest in, despite the protests of Lambert. The Divine makes it plain she empathizes with the mages and wishes to end the centuries of persecution and intolerance they have suffered. However, the failure of the second part of Pharamond's research - to find an alternative to Tranquility that reduces a mage's powers without destroying their minds - only further incites Lambert, who insists that the research and those who know about it be destroyed, ignoring the insistence of Rhys and Adrian that imposing more draconian measures on the mages will only make matters worse.
However, Wynne reveals that it is too late to suppress the knowledge: at her request, the Montsimmard Circle used their sending stone to spread the information regarding Pharamond's discovery to every Circle in Thedas. Despite Lambert's fury and the Divine's disapproval of Wynne's actions, Justinia agrees to a reforming of the College of Magi, to be held at the White Spire rather than its traditional meeting place in Cumberland. Lambert reluctantly agrees to it, but on three conditions: that only the First Enchanters attend, that Rhys, Adrian and Wynne are confined to their quarters until the conclave (though the Divine is able to free Wynne from this restriction), and that Pharamond be made Tranquil again. The Divine reluctantly agrees to these conditions, despite Wynne and Rhys beseeching her for mercy for Pharamond.
Three weeks have passed and Evangeline, more or less a prisoner, is summoned to meet Lord Seeker Lambert on the report she gave regarding Cole. She doesn't believe, as Lambert does, that Cole's abilities are because of blood magic. but she does agree that Cole should be made Tranquil, lest he hurt anyone else, a choice that meets with Lambert's approval. Lambert offers Evangeline a deal: he will find and speak to Cole and prove that Rhys is innocent of the murders, in exchange for Evangeline denouncing Pharamond's research at the conclave. Lambert acknowledges her sympathy for mages and admits an alternative to Tranquility could be looked into, but in the future, not when the mages are looking for any excuse to revolt.
Evangeline argues that the Chantry can police magic without the use of harsh measures against mages, but Lambert insists that he has seen what leniency accomplishes, explaining that he is a native of the Tevinter Imperium and originally served the Imperial Chantry. For many years, he had believed the Imperium's creed that mages could watch over themselves, but after a colleague of his became the Black Divine, and he saw that the mages were willing to use any means, including blood magic and other forbidden practices, to retain their power, while the Templar Order in Tevinter had almost no power, he realised the corruption of the magisters. He fears that giving into the mages' demands will see the exact same thing occur elsewhere. Evangeline refuses his offer, arguing that it will also happen if they continue to treat the mages with cruelty.
At the same time, Rhys is paid visits by Wynne and Adrian, who inform him that the First Enchanters are arriving for the conclave, as well as the Grand Enchanter - a former Grey Warden named Fiona and a most vocal advocate of separation from the Chantry. Adrian tries to convince Rhys to persuade Wynne that separation from the Chantry is necessary, since if she agrees, the Aequitarian fraternity will follow her, but Rhys knows Wynne won't listen to him. Adrian tries to plead with Rhys, appealing to their old feelings of love for each other, but Rhys refuses, knowing that the woman he loved once is gone. Disappointed, Adrian leaves.
As the conclave begins, Cole, who has taken to prowling the White Spire again, finds himself in Pharamond's chambers. The elf, terrified of being made Tranquil again, begs Cole, when Cole offers to take him to safety, to kill him.
The conclave finally begins, and the Grand Enchanter wastes no time in putting forward the motion for the Circles of Magi to separate from the Chantry, arguing that the templars will not even consider heeding them and the mages do not need to hear from another Tranquil to be reminded of the contempt the Chantry holds them in. Wynne tries to counsel for patience, arguing that the Divine is trying to change things, but Fiona and the Libertarians are unwilling to listen, citing the example of Grand Cleric Elthina's inaction as proof that nothing will be accomplished by the Chantry, with Adrian adding that the templars do not wish to change, only to control.
Before the vote can be made, however, Lord Seeker Lambert arrives with an army of templars and declares the conclave over, denouncing their actions as treason. Lambert also announces that Pharamond is dead and that Rhys killed him, the murder weapon having been found in his chambers. When the conclave refuses to surrender Rhys to templar custody, violence ensues: the templars attack and the mages fight back, resulting in the deaths of dozens on both sides. Despite the heavy losses, Lambert and his men are able to overpower the mages and the survivors, including Rhys, are imprisoned to await execution, though Wynne and Evangeline manage to escape.
Having survived the massacre at the conclave, Wynne and Evangeline have escaped into Val Royeaux's sewers. Both women realise Lambert has planned the attack since their audience with the Divine, and after what just happened, the templars will have the excuse they need to inflict harsher constraints on the mages. Fortunately, there is a cache of supplies hidden in the sewers, Wynne having taken Leliana's advice to be prepared for anything. Wynne insists that she is going back to the White Spire to rescue her son or, if he is dead, to exact retribution on his killers. Evangeline, having realised that without change, the vicious cycle between templars and mages will continue, agrees to help. They encounter Cole in the sewers, and while Wynne tries to kill him, believing him responsible for Pharamond's death, Evangeline stops her, believing Cole innocent. Cole insists that he didn't kill Pharamond, though the elf begged for death; he also reveals that Rhys is still alive, imprisoned in a dungeon that he couldn't access and that he wants to help them. Evangeline remarks there are parts of the White Spire's lowest levels that can be accessed from the sewers.
Imprisoned in his cell, Rhys, having been beaten and mistreated by the templars, ponders on Cole and what the templars will do following the disaster at the conclave. Lambert comes to his cell, demanding a confession to Pharamond's murder, and insisting that Cole is a demon who kills in order to strengthen a weakening connection to the real world. Lambert tells Rhys he must choose: confess to having murdered Pharamond and the others under the influence of a demon in order to spare the other mages, or be executed along with Adrian and the surviving First Enchanters. Rhys spits on the offer, knowing Lambert is "grasping at straws to keep the Circle of Magi from crumbling around his ears."
With the help of Leliana and Shale, Wynne, Cole and Evangeline have infiltrated the White Spire. The tower is mostly deserted, Lord Seeker Lambert and most of the templars having been summoned to a meeting with the Divine. On their way to the cells, Wynne and Shale destroy the White Spire's entire collection of phylacteries, including those of the captive First Enchanters, ensuring the templars can't track them. At the same time, Leliana and Cole slay the templars guarding the cells and free Adrian and the First Enchanters.
The group release Rhys from his cell and begin to make their escape from the White Spire through the sewers, but before they are able to, Lord Seeker Lambert catches up to them, having kept Rhys's phylactery safe. Cole tries to attack Lambert, but the Seeker is able to disrupt Cole's invisibility and fights back, insisting that this proves his claims of Cole being a demon, since the Litany of Adralla - which he used to negate Cole's power - only works against demonic influences. Lambert overpowers Cole, but Cole escapes before Lambert can kill him. Rhys attacks Lambert, calling him a fool, but he too is overpowered. However, before the Lord Seeker can kill him, Evangeline comes to his defence, denouncing Lambert as a tyrant and the two battle; to Rhys's horror, Lambert deals Evangeline a fatal blow and then flees at the arrival of Wynne and the other mages, vowing that the mages will never have freedom. As Rhys grieves over Evangeline, realising that he cares for her, Wynne consoles him. She explains she has realised why the spirit kept her alive for so many years, and transfers the spirit of Faith from herself into Evangeline, saving her son's beloved but at the cost of her own life.
A month has passed since the events at the White Spire, with the surviving mages having fled to Andoral's Reach, an ancient Tevinter fortress on the borders of Orlais. Mage refugees continue to arrive in dribs and drabs, and news continues to filter through that Circles are fighting and the templars are cracking down more fiercely in response. Word has come that the Right of Annulment has been enacted upon the Dairsmuid Circle in Rivain.
Rhys, who has since left the Libertarian fraternity to take his mother's place as leader of the Aequitarians, confronts Adrian, accusing her of murdering Pharamond and framing him for the crime. Adrian confesses, but is unrepentant, arguing that Pharamond begged to die rather than be made Tranquil again and that the only way Wynne could be convinced to agree with independence from the Chantry was if the templars threatened someone she cared about, arguing that her actions were for the good of all mages, reminding Rhys far too much of what happened in Kirkwall and the actions of Anders. Rhys contemplates killing Adrian for her actions, but instead tells her their friendship is finished. Rhys then storms off, leaving Adrian with her guilt and sorrow.
Later that day, the Grand Enchanter reconvenes the conclave and puts forward the motion for separation from the Chantry again, arguing that whatever is decided, the Circles of Magi will do so as a whole. Since so few First Enchanters are present, the mages will be represented by the fraternities they belong to in the voting. As expected, the Loyalists vote that the mages submit to the Chantry, with each of the smaller fraternities electing to follow suit, while the Libertarians vote for independence; the deciding vote lies with the Aequitarians. Rhys reluctantly votes for independence and the motion is passed: the mages will fight the Chantry for their independence, their freedom, their very survival.
After the vote, Rhys and Evangeline, who have become lovers, share a moment; Evangeline consoles Rhys about his feelings of failure regarding Cole and reassures him that whatever comes, they'll face it together. The pair then head to an old oak tree just outside the fortress, where Wynne has been laid to rest. A small funeral is held, and as Rhys muses on his mother's life and how things might have been different had he not been taken from her, Leliana sings a a hauntingly beautiful song in memory of Wynne.
Some key characters in the book are as follows:
- Adrian – Senior Enchanter of the White Spire.
- Cole – Ghost of the White Spire.
- Divine Justinia V – Leader of the Andrastian Chantry.
- Evangeline de Brassard – Knight–Captain of the Templars in the White Spire.
- Fiona – Grand Enchanter of the Circle of Magi.
- Leliana – Bard and the Left Hand of the Divine.
- Lord Seeker Lambert van Reeves – Head of the Seekers of Truth.
- Pharamond – Tranquil, Wynne's friend.
- Rhys – Senior Enchanter of the White Spire and Wynne's son.
- Shale – Centuries–old dwarf golem.
- Wynne – Elderly Archmage and heroine of the Blight, who is a host to the Spirit of Faith.
- In Dragon Age: Asunder, Irving is present on several occasions, while the Warden, Anders, Elthina, Oghren and Urthemiel are mentioned by other characters.
- Mentions of Hawke had to be avoided as David Gaider did not want to create a canon for player characters by specifying which side of the conflict Hawke chose.