Ethel Trevelyan was a Circle mage of Ostwick that rose to prominance after she was the sole survivor of the explosion at the Temple of Sacred Ashes in 9:41 Dragon, which notably killed Divine Justinia V. Joining the Inquisition that arose to restore order, she soon became its leader and eventually her influence was felt throughout all Southern Thedas.
3 Wintermarch, 9:12 Dragon
cis woman (she/her)
Joyce Shepard (DA edition)
Ethel Trevelyan was born in her family's manor in Ostwick, near the beginning of the year of 9:12 Dragon. The first few years of her life were largely unremarkable. Outside of her tutor’s gaze, Ethel spent most of her time playing with her siblings (excluding her older brother, who was ten years her senior) and sketching the flowers in her mother’s garden.
This all changed when Ethel was ten years old. While playing with her younger sister, Dana, in the garden, she accidentally turned their mother’s prized moon-flowers into solid ice. Dana ran into the house screaming about magic and before dinner, Ethel found herself in the entrance hall of Ostwick’s Circle of Magi. Every night for the next week, Ethel cried herself to sleep. She wondered whether she could try to escape, but there was nowhere for her to go. If she tried to go home, she would be back in the Circle faster than she could say, “Magic exists to serve man.” An enchanter named Lydia spoke with her, tried to make her feel welcome, and encouraged her to interact with the other apprentices. Eventually, Ethel settled into her new life.
Over the years, Ethel would receive letters from her younger brother, Robin, though she quickly realized this was an unusual privilege. She was also one of the few mages allowed to leave the Circle, though this only happened once a year for First Day. Sometimes Ethel wondered why her parents bothered, given how cold they had turned towards her. Her older brother Kydan was at least somewhat friendly, if distant, while Dana had refused to speak to her since that day in the garden. Other relatives either treated her with cold politeness or outright disdain and fear. Robin was the only one who believed she belonged, acting as though Ethel being a mage was hardly notable.
Ethel was not the greatest magical student; she excelled more in theory than practice, preferring to read about the different magical fields than practice her barriers. Enchanter Lydia became her mentor, helping her with her magical studies and forms. At nineteen, Ethel passed her Harrowing with little fanfare, while whispers in the halls said the Fifth Blight had been stopped after only a year in Ferelden. Life in the Circle passed by slowly; little excitement happened with the templars watching the mages’ every move. Ethel was for the most part a model mage, with one exception: she used her annual trip to her family's home to smuggle in books not allowed by the Chantry. This included, but was not limited to, all works by one Varric Tethras.
In 9:37 Dragon, an apostate blew up the Chantry in Kirkwall, and the halls of Ostwick Circle were soon filled with whispers and rumors. Given how difficult it was to separate fact from fiction, Ethel was unsure how to feel, other than unsettled at the deaths. As a member of the Aequitarian Fraternity, since its views most closely matched her own, Ethel preferred pushing for mage protections through non-violent means. The disbandment of the College of Enchanters seemed an bad omen, and Ethel would later curse how right she was.
Things came to a head when news arrived of the revolt at the White Spire in 9:40 Dragon. Some mages attempted to leave the Circle, with the templars trying to stop them. In the chaos, Ethel’s mentor, now Senior Enchanter Lydia, was struck down by a young mage aiming for one of the templars. The incident was over in minutes, though it was the greatest disturbance the Ostwick Circle had seen in decades. Ethel and the others barely had time to mourn before they heard the Templar Order had pulled from the Chantry and the Circles had been dissolved. Most of the templars and mages left, though Ethel was not among them. She decided to stay to help look after the apprentices who had nowhere to go, even after receiving a formal letter from her parents inviting her home.
The following year, with the announcement of the Divine’s Conclave, Ethel was asked to go. She resisted, not considering herself important enough to be of any help, but Ostwick’s First Enchanter pressed her with the importance of ensuring the safety of the mages’ delegation with Ethel’s family ties. Eventually Ethel acquiesced, still doubting she could do much with how little influence she personally had.
Ethel's adventures with the Inquisition are yet to be compiled...
Before the Circle of Magi was dissolved, Ethel Trevelyan taught the younger mages in Ostwick's Circle. She even refused taking on an apprentice multiple times just so she could focus on the younger students who were new to the Circle. She wanted to make sure they felt safe there. Even after the Mage-Templar war broke out and the Circles were largely abandoned, Ethel choose to stay rather than move back in with her family, as a number of the children had nowhere to go.
From a young age, Ethel has always been a creative sort. She loves art and spends most of her free time sketching, preferring to work with pastels or charcoal. It was a pastime she was largely unable to pursue while in the Ostwick Circle, but after the dissolution of the Circle of Magi, Ethel found more time to engage in her art. While in Skyhold, it is not an unusual sight to see her sitting in the garden sketching, or practicing with paints. She’ll do small portraits upon request, but her most frequent subjects are environmental, especially nature. It’s a common joke among the inner circle that Ethel probably goes through more parchment than Josephine. By the time Corypheus is defeated, her bedroom walls are more art than stone.
Ethel is considered very soft-hearted. In the early days of the Inquisition, she sought out the help of Solas to teach her how to fight, as she had almost no practical experience in combat magic. Forgiveness seems to come easy to her, with few exceptions. She frowns upon cut-throat tactics and subterfuge, leading to a tense relationship with Leliana. Eventually she is convinced of its place, but she always looks for the diplomatic solution first.