Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 34
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Bethany Hawke ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Tallis ♀
Rating: M (L3 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Oh my god Cormac, we are not force pushing the poop, wyverns, ass-kicking, Anders gets mistaken for a prostitute, Fenris is not putting up with this shit except for the part where he is
Notes: Chateau Haine! Fuck fucking Chateau Haine, right in its Orlesian ear.
"Fuck, yes, Anders! Like that! Just like that! Oh, fuck, Anders! Harder! Yes! Fuck me until I bleed, and then keep fucking me!"
Cormac was, as usual, screaming his head off, and Bethany had hoped that once Anders had really settled downstairs, this would be a less common event, upstairs. It seemed Cormac still preferred his own bed, at least some of the time. At least their mother took sleeping potions, but honestly, at that volume it was amazing she hadn’t woken up.
At this point, Bethany could write a treatise on exactly how her oldest brother liked to be fucked, and Maker, some of it was a little freaky, even to her, and that was saying something. What she hadn’t learnt in books, she’d learnt from Isabela, but there were still undocumented horrors in the field of kink, and she was fairly certain Cormac had begged for most of them.
Finally, she stuck her quill back in the inkpot and made her way up the stairs, to pound on Cormac’s door. "For the love of Andraste, Cormac, shut the fuck up before I give you something to scream about!"
From an Entropy mage, that was not an idle threat, and Cormac was extremely familiar with that fact. There was some muffled noise from behind the door, and then Anders called out.
"Sorry, Bethy! Didn’t know you were working tonight! We’ll, uh, we’ll go downstairs in a minute. As soon as your brother figures out where the hell he threw my pants." There was a pause and some more muffled noise. "I don’t care, Cormac! Find them! Yours won’t fit me and your sister is going to do terrible things to us!"
Maybe she’d write that treatise, after all. Just… slip it under his door, one night. A proper treatise, too. Well researched, with physics and probabilities. Analyses of tone and content and timing. It was difficult to get under Cormac’s skin, but the fact that she was able to write such a thing would probably do the trick. Maker, it’s not like she was still twelve, for all that he treated her like it.
If Fenris was honest with himself, it sounded like a trap. The invitation to the Orlesian hunting party had sounded like a trap to begin with, and this … addition to it sounded even less encouraging. Oh, yes, they would sneak around some fancy and well-guarded Orlesian nobleman’s retreat to steal a jewel. And with an elf who had probably ambushed them, just to get their attention. Why was he even there? Why were the mages there? Why wasn’t Anton doing this with his other sneak-thieving friends? But, no. Anton had decided it was best if they showed up as a clique, to show that the Amells remembered how to party properly. Three brothers and their three, er, four, companions — which, he supposed, might make it more difficult to keep track of the correct brother. Which would be Anton, of course.
Anton who was in the process of making a noble jackass of himself with Isabela and Tallis, further up the deck. They would never be taken seriously, after that display, which he supposed was kind of the point. The mages hung back, sipping wine by rail, gazing out across the sea. Artemis. He was expected to look after Artemis again, when they hadn’t spoken in months — not since the filthy mage had bought his house out from under him. And somehow, Anton had decided this was a good plan, this was a wise plan, this was somehow less dangerous than taking his other brother.
Somehow, it was less offensive that people thought he was a servant. At least no one thought they were … together . But, how could they be, with the way the abomination stayed wrapped around both mage brothers? Fenris hid a smile. The abomination, who everyone assumed was a prostitute — not that they would judge. They were Orlesian, after all. Three brothers, three prostitutes, and a bodyguard. At least no one would assume he was sleeping with any of them.
There was a bustle as the ship came in to port, and by early afternoon, they had arrived at Chateau Haine.
Artemis tilted his head back and just breathed the air, air that didn’t smell like dead fish or sewage, for once. The countryside was beautiful, full of shades of green he’d forgotten existed in the grey of Kirkwall and the brown of Ferelden. He could almost pretend he was here to enjoy the outing, with or without the elf-shaped shadow who was pointedly not looking at him. Just as well. Artemis was pointedly not looking at him either.
Duke Prosper was hard to miss, with his plumed hat and garish armour. He grinned at the brothers and their companions and beckoned them closer.
"Now that’s a beard," Artemis said out of the side of his mouth to Isabela. It forked out from Duke Prosper’s chin like a pair of spearheads. "You could wage wars with that beard. Think I could pull it off?"
"Mm. A beard like that would tickle," Isabela replied.
"Yes, it does," Cormac muttered, adjusting his beard with one hand, "which you already know."
Cormac stepped forward to introduce them, as their escort stepped aside, having announced them. He bowed in that way his mother had taught him, all those years ago, just in case. Little did he know he’d ever actually need it. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, your grace. Cormac Hawke of Kirkwall, and my brothers Artemis and Anton." He didn’t introduce anyone else. They weren’t family, and therefore they were effectively invisible.
But, the duke asked. "Ah! And such pretty companions you have brought with you! I had heard that you were travelling with an entourage of evening entertainment. I see your taste exceeds even the rumours. The elves are especially delightful to the eye."
Fenris felt the tips of his ears heat, but Cormac was already solving the problem.
"What? No, Fenris is my bodyguard. We’ve had some unsavoury attempts on our house, back in Kirkwall. Some people just don’t approve of the return of the Amells. So, I hired the very best ." Cormac’s smile was perfunctorily pleasant, verging on murderous. And yet, he made no attempt to clear up the identities of the rest of the party. A prostitute might be overlooked where someone else might not be, but he knew Fenris wasn’t going to tolerate that, even for a purpose.
Anders didn’t so much as blink. He’d been called worse things, and he had no problem being the ‘evening entertainment’ for a Hawke or two. Isabela sent Anton a wink, and the two smirked.
"Ah, I see," said Prosper, throwing a glance at his own bodyguard, a tattooed Chasind with a scowl that would rival Fenris’s. There was no apology forthcoming or even any acknowledgment of Fenris other than one last appreciative look. Artemis waited for a growl that didn’t come and wondered how tightly Fenris was gritting his teeth to stop himself. "Well, I am delighted that you have graced our hunt with your presence. It is a pleasant surprise to see the Amell family so well represented."
"Not as delighted as we were to receive your invitation, your grace," Artemis said, effecting a poise that would make their mother proud. Usually he saved all the ass-kissing for Anders, but he’d make an exception for this.
"I must cut this short. The hunt is about to begin," Prosper nodded, as suited his rank. "I will let my men acquaint you with the rules of the hunt and give you a moment to gather any equipment you may need. The servants have already seen to your luggage. Once you are prepared, we will begin!"
Luring a wyvern, Fenris supposed, would be easier if any of them had actually seen a wyvern before, at any point. If, perhaps, they even knew what wyverns ate. But, no, they were chasing after some legendary beast with poison that could kill them all, with no antidote and no idea what the thing even wanted. This was a bold new kind of stupidity, and he did not approve.
A sharp sound caught his attention, and he looked up. "Is that…?"
"Wyverns mating…" Tallis looked thoughtful.
"We should mimic that. Can we mimic that?" Anton asked, fascinated.
"No!" Tallis looked up at Anton, horrified. "Oh, the sound. Right. Yeah, I can try that."
"Or we could try it together," Isabela suggested with a sly wink.
Fenris just took a deep breath followed by another. Wyverns. They were here to kill wyverns.
"That… is a lot of poop." Anton was great at stating the obvious.
"Oh sweet Maker. The smell ." Artemis pulled his collar up over his nose. He would take that dead fish and sewage smell back, now.
"Well," said Tallis, a hand to her nose, "we are looking for clues." The group looked at the mound of shit speculatively and then at each other.
"You heard the lady, Artemis," Anton said, nudging his brother forward. "Go… find some clues."
"What do you want me to do? Force magic the poop ?"
"Shit, yes , that’s the problem!"
"Yes, tell the cleanfreak to put his hand in poop," Fenris growled, shoving past both brothers. "That will end well." He knelt in front of the mound, lyrium brands lighting, and reached in. His face scrunched as he sifted.
"Wow. That’s a neat party trick," Tallis said.
"For the record," Fenris called over his shoulder, "whether I’m phased out or not, this is still disgusting."
"Corpses, blood, and weird noises. And this is going to get us a wyvern." Anders didn’t look convinced.
"Oh, and more than that? Then we have to kill it." Cormac grinned at him. "Don’t worry. You focus on them, I’ll keep you standing, we’ll be unstoppable."
"I must admit, this sounds like less and less of a good idea, as time goes on." Fenris was still intermittently wiping at his arm, which had nothing on it.
"So what are we going to do?" Tallis asked, sorting through what they had.
"There’s seven of us. We can take a wyvern." Anton grinned. "Let’s go all out. Make mum proud."
Tallis pointed at Isabela. "Can you make nug noises?"
"Oh, sweet thing, I can make just about any noise with the right provocation," Isabela purred.
"I will take that as a disconcerting ‘yes’," Tallis replied.
They continued farther up the trail until they came to an area wide open enough for battle. And running. Anders had a feeling there would be quite a bit of running.
But first, apparently, there would be some flailing and weird noises. Artemis looked at Anton and Cormac as the ladies skipped about the clearing, covered in Maker-knew-what and hissing, "Nee-nee-nee-nee!"
"I am so glad I didn’t get volunteered for that," Artemis muttered.
And then, there was a wyvern. Not just any wyvern — not that any of them had ever seen one — but what looked like the mother of all wyverns, puffed up and squealing, like it wasn’t sure whether to fuck them or eat them.
Fenris sucked in a sharp breath and drew his sword. It was an act of will to step forward with that thing eyeing him, and he’d faced dragons. But, dragons weren’t venomous .
Pushing the shield as far as it would go, Cormac stepped directly in front of Anders. He was short. Anders could see around him. Or more to the point, he was a decent and reasonable size, and Anders was a Maker-damned giant. Either way, nothing was getting past him. He flicked a hand, hoping to stun the thing, but he just got its attention, instead.
And then there were rogues, and all was well. The wyvern couldn’t figure out which one to pay attention to, as they danced around it, slicing and jabbing.
Blood spurted from its neck in gory arches as the wyvern screamed , bowling blindly past and away from the rogues, knocking Anton ass-first into a ditch.
"Fenris, get back!" Artemis called, seizing his opening. Fenris leapt back without question as Artemis sent force magic barrelling into the wyvern, knocking its already battered body back into the cliffside with a meaty thud.
Isabela dusted off her boots.
"Is it dead?" Anton called out of the ditch. Anders was crouched over him, fingers glowing with healing magic Anton brushed aside. "It’s just a bruised ass, save your mana," he muttered.
"All Hawke asses are worth my mana."
"Oh, ew," Anton muttered. "Don’t even go there."
Fenris ignored them all and poked at the wyvern with his sword. Its body twitched, but it wasn’t breathing. "Looks dead to me," he said.
Cormac smacked Artemis on the back. "Nice one. Always a smashing good time, with you."
From further down the path they’d arrived by, the clank of armour floated up. "Well, if it isn’t the Fereldan turnips!"
Fenris reflexively inched closer to Tallis. "We’re Tevinter," he protested.
"You too, huh?" she asked, with a lopsided grin. "And really, with that, it’s a lot more radish than turnip."
Fenris looked deeply traumatised by this idea and stopped talking. Almost. "Radishes," he huffed.
"Oh, yes, if we were any more Fereldan we’d be barking," Cormac drawled. "Whom do I have the displeasure of addressing?"
"I am Baron Arlange, and you should know of me, you Fereldan shit-hound, seeing as you’ve stolen my rightful kill!" The man was spitting, gesturing like he was having a seizure.
Artemis slid his stare to Cormac. "Are all Orlesian toddlers this big?" he asked.
"I paid good coin to win the hunt this year!" Arlange was saying, punctuating his sentences with a stomp of his foot. Isabela and Anton were slipping into the shadows before he or his entourage started reaching for their swords.
"Don’t do it," Artemis muttered.
"I will kill you myself and say the wyvern was too much for you!"
"He’s doing it," Anders sighed, hefting his staff again.
"We just killed a very large wyvern, and all we have to show for it is my brother’s bruised ass. How does this sound like an even slightly reasonable idea?" Cormac asked, clenching his fist and thrusting it toward the ground. The Baron’s armour squeaked distressedly.
Fenris stuck the point of his sword in the ground and leaned on it, smiling ever so pleasantly, as Anders swept a hand across in front of him, palm up, elbow at his hip, and the ground beneath the Chevaliers flickered green for a moment.
"We could just go, and leave them stuck here," Anders suggested.
"Yes, but then they’d claim they killed our wyvern. I’m not interested in surrendering the honour of my family to some meathead who couldn’t even correctly buy his way into a win," Cormac argued.
"It would be a difficult argument for them to make, while they’re still stuck to the ground. Maybe you should stun them, for good measure." Anders grinned beatifically.
"I wish Bethy were here," Cormac sighed, watching the baron turn purple in the face. He flicked his other hand and a number of the Chevaliers wobbled, faces going slack.
"They’d already be dead, if Bethy were here," Anton said, using a dagger to clean under his fingernails. Isabela stayed in the shadows, but the poor baron was fair enough over his head as it was.
"What’s going on, here?" a voice rang out across the clearing. The brothers Hawke turned to see Duke Prosper and his entourage approaching, forked beard bristling with anger.
"Maker, I love that beard," Artemis murmured, earning him an odd look from Tallis.
"They tried to steal my kill!" Arlange choked out. "The Fereldan parsnips!"
"Oh, we’re parsnips, now," Artemis told Cormac. "Does this man have a vegetable insult for every occasion?"
"Well, he did call us shithounds, so maybe not," Cormac murmured, before turning his attention to the duke. "Your grace, we slew this wyvern, and the manner of the killing will confirm it. Then this man showed up, announced he was a baron, and said we’d stolen his kill because he’d paid for it. Paid for it! Can you imagine? I would hate to think this is how things are done in Orlais."
And that was the thing about Orlais. This was exactly how things were done in Orlais, but you couldn’t go around talking about it and getting caught. That would be entirely tasteless. Rumour was the key. Rumour and spin.
"Please accept my apologies." Prosper eyed Arlange balefully. "A guest in my house. And this is what you do? I did not invite the Amells all the way from Kirkwall, just to have you assault them for winning by the book!"
"This is your fault for inviting a stinking turnip in the first place! Your mother would be ashamed!" Arlange sputtered, his breath slowly coming back as the spell wound down.
"This from the man whose mother slept with half of Val Chevin?" the duke asked drily, before returning his attention to Cormac. "What would you have me do with him? The offence to your family could warrant death. He chose poorly."
"Let him live with the shame," Cormac decided, smiling wickedly. "The rumours will be punishment enough."
"Do you hear that, baron?" said the duke. "It behooves you to leave while you still can."
Arlange, red-faced, bit out more curses about dogs and Fereldan vegetables and stormed off. Fenris narrowed his eyes at the man’s back. That one would be trouble later, he suspected, but less trouble than he and the Hawkes were acquainted with.
Suddenly, Prosper was all smiles. "I suppose a congratulations are in order!" he said, eyeing the wyvern carcass. "The first kill of the hunt is yours, and a worthy kill it is!" He clapped Cormac on the shoulder. "We will celebrate your achievement! Join us for refreshments in the chateau’s courtyard when you’re ready!"
"Refreshments sound good," Anton said, shrugging.
"A bath would sound better," Tallis countered, and Isabela hummed in agreement.