Title: There Are No Giant Spiders in Hightown (Something About Mushrooms 2/4)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D2)
Warnings: Expletives, corpse-mushrooms, worse ideas, hallucinations
Notes: Fenris creeps the shit out of himself, blames mages.
He had been correct. The mushroom was some vile delicacy of Tevinter, and it tasted like spoilt milk with a hint of dirt. Still, he choked the thing down and rinsed his mouth out with wine. The other mushrooms were, as usual, boring, but edible, and he started to relax, stretched out before the fire, studying the cracks in the ceiling.
The first sign that something was wrong was when the ceiling moved away, like the walls had gotten taller. How far was that? He didn’t remember the ceiling being that high in this room, and he’d been looking at it for a good twenty minutes, at least. Probably just because he was tired. Or because he’d inadvertently unleashed poisonous gasses by shovelling all that corpse-goo off the floor. He blamed the mages. It was their fault he’d even tried.
And that was when he felt something crawling up his arm. He swatted at it, but … missed? No, he’d hit right where it was, it was just still moving.
No, no, no. No spiders. This was not spiders.
He turned his head and… nothing. But, the lyrium in his arm had started to glow along one particular path. That was what he felt. But, why—
"Anders? If you’re leaving muddy footprints in my clean hall, abomination, I’ll beat you until they’re bloody footprints."
Fenris was on his feet so quickly that, had anyone been watching, they might have suspected magic. Or a werecat. He stalked out onto the landing, silently, but the hall was empty. At least, he thought it was empty until the shadows began to move. Shades!? Here!? But, every time he tried to focus on one, it wasn’t there.
Poison gas, he decided, shaking his head. He’d open all the windows and sleep by the fire. That should help. But, perhaps, going outside to clear his head first, while the rooms cleared out, would be a better idea. That was a better plan, he concluded, throwing open windows along the back of the house. If nothing else, it would get the death-stench out faster.
The death-stench he’d stopped smelling, at some point. That wasn’t right. He knew that wasn’t right, familiar as he was with decay. This was maybe a little worse than he’d initially thought, but he was still upright, so it was probably recoverable. He was still going to throw Hawke down those nice, clean marble stairs. Wash the fucking floor. Venhedis. He huffed to himself, as he hauled himself out a window and onto the roof. Fucking mages. He had to stop listening to the mages.
The air was fresh and cool, and the moon was bright. A beautiful night to be outside, really, if not necessarily one he’d meant to spend on a broken tiled roof. Shadows coiled and writhed in the pits where the tile had fallen away, but none of them would resolve into anything he could identify or fight off. Just pools of slithering blackness with the occasional staring eye that would blink out as soon as he looked straight at it. In the corners of his vision, revenants and wraiths rose over the edges of the roof. And the lyrium lines lit themselves in dizzying patterns, chasing across his body like thousands of tiny feet under his skin.
It was just the poison gas from the corpses, he told himself. He was dizzy from the stench and seeing things. It would pass in a few minutes, in the fresh air. He just kept telling himself that, as the lines of light flickered across his skin and parts of his body phased in and out. He would kick Hawke down the stairs on one side and the abomination down the stairs on the other side. He’d barely even have to move. It was a strangely soothing thought, and he clung to it, as the phantoms grew bolder.
The sky spun above him, and the shadows crept closer, all eyes and tentacles, staring and coiling, slithering and gazing. He’d seen some shit, in his day, having been a magister’s bodyguard, but this was new and terrifying. He respected that. It took quite a lot to creep him out, and this was succeeding admirably. He was relatively sure it wasn’t real, still, but he couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t getting any better since he’d come outside. He was sure that getting out of the house, away from whatever gasses he’d released by trying to wash things would help, but if anything, things were just getting worse.
None of it was real. He could wait it out. Still, the roof might not be the wisest place to wait out something that was screwing with his vision. He inched back toward the roof’s edge, feeling for gaps and broken tiles, and the staring shadow-tentacles followed. Looking at them no longer turned them away, he noticed, as if the longer this went on, the less likely he became to reject it, outright, and that had its own terrifying implications.
He swung over the edge of the roof and back through the window, landing a little less quietly than he might’ve liked, as he thoroughly misjudged the distance to the floor. The house reeked of death, again, which was almost comforting, all things considered, but the voices of the dead singing from the crates of bones was not. He told himself it was the wind. It had to be the wind, because dead men didn’t sing. Undead men might, but if they were undead, he’d have noticed long before now.
And then it was his sister’s voice, singing to him, and the tune wrapped itself around his bones, the words sinking in, burning cold where they settled. A children’s song, he thought, not that he spent much memorable time around children. But, she sang to him, called to him through the years, the betrayals, the deaths between them, and this was unacceptable. It was her. Every bone in his body rang with her voice, and he knew her as they had once been, before all of this. The sister he had wanted to save, not the monster he had created, trying.
No. None of this was real. Not the singing, not the eyes in the shadows, not the tentacles of darkness winding around his legs, or the thousand-legged fiend that raced along his tattoos. Had he poisoned himself? Did he maybe break some ward that had lain all these years under the filth, and unleash some magical nightmare on himself? The abomination would know. But, that would mean two things that didn’t sound like good ideas — getting through Darktown and involving a mage. On the other hand, staying here in the house of increasingly creepy shit didn’t sound like the brightest idea, either. The hour was too late to find a messenger lurking in this part of town, so that was out. If he was going, he’d have to go, himself.
He knew how to find the clinic. He could do it in his sleep. If what he’d been told was true, he had done it in some fairly questionable states. However weird things got, he could probably get there. The question was whether the— whether Anders would be there at this hour, rather than pinned to a convenient flat surface, somewhere, under Hawke. Hawke was the last person he wanted to see, right now, although Isabela might actually be worse.
At the worst, he’d be stuck in Darktown with the increasingly creepy shit, and at least Anders would find him, if he made it to the clinic. It couldn’t be much worse than being stuck up here, with the same shit. People were much more likely to conveniently overlook bizarre behaviour and sudden loud noises, in Darktown.
Hadn’t he decided to stop listening to the mages? Why was he going to go put this in the hands of a mage?
Right. Because he didn’t know any other healers he could wake up in the middle of the night, because he accidentally poisoned himself while washing the floor. He could kick Hawke down the stairs later, he reminded himself, picking up the cloak he nearly never wore, and assuring himself it really wasn’t a darkspawn-tainted wolf, as he pulled it across his shoulders. There weren’t wolves in Hightown. There sure as shit weren’t wolves in his house. And that, the last time he picked it up, had been his cloak, so that was absolutely not a wolf. Not a wolf.
He snarled and slammed the door behind him, as he left, the echo off the stone inset that held the door degrading into an insectile chittery-clacky sound.
There were no giant spiders in Hightown. Not even in Hawke’s cellar. Nope.
He ducked into an alley and dropped himself into the sewers, below, as he’d done dozens of times before. He could get there from here. He could get there from here, with his eyes closed.