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Severan was not born in Ferelden or Orlais, but in Rivain north of the waking sea. Before joining Meghren's court, Severan was a part of an Orlesian Circle of Magi. When Meghren put out the call for a mage advisor, as was his right, Severan volunteered for the job. It is heavily implied that he took the job mainly as a way of discreetly gaining power, and so he would no longer have to practice his magic under the watchful eyes of the Templars. Working for Meghren, he quickly became the king's closest advisor, as well as the de facto ruler of Ferelden, managing the everyday business of the palace while Meghren pursued his own pleasures. The nobility, commanders of the Orlesian military forces and even the servants came to Severan for their orders; as Severan himself put it, without him, Meghren was incapable of finding his smallclothes.
Severan was tasked by Meghren with putting an end to the rebellion in Ferelden. To that end, he was made the supreme commander of the loyalist forces. Severan believed that once he had defeated the rebellion, Meghren would be allowed to return to Orlais, leaving him as governor. Severan also hired an Orlesian bard, Katriel, to trick the rebels and lure their army into a trap at West Hill, where Prince Maric would be captured. However, when the plan was changed to include Maric's death, Katriel considered her deal with Severan to be over, and went to Maric's aid. Much of the rebel army was lost as well as its commander, Arl Rendorn Guerrin, but Maric escaped.
Maric survived the battle and was able to link up with the remnants of his army; as a result of his miraculous survival, open revolt against Orlesian rule quickly spread to the whole of Ferelden. A short time later, Katriel decided to confront Severan to cancel the contract that was binding her to him until she completed her task. Severan argued that a contract with a bard could not be voided until the task was completed; she retorted that when he changed the terms--killing Maric instead of capturing him--the contract was de facto voided. She could have killed Severan on the spot, but her honor prevented her from doing so. She instead crippled him with poison to cover her escape, and advised Severan to leave Ferelden before his association with Meghren got him killed.During the Battle of River Dane, Prince Maric went to Denerim instead of participating in the battle. He found and confronted Severan who was in his tent at that time and killed him in single combat by using the instructions left to him by Katriel. This resulted in Meghren being deprived of his most able servant.