Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 37
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Tallis ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D1)
Warnings: Stealing and stabbing
Notes: O HAY! It’s the end of this Orlesian nonsense!
Some time later, they were standing over the slightly-scorched corpses of what appeared to be a very large number of Qunari, for the area. They were, after all, in the Marches, not Rivain or Par Vollen. And on the top of a mountain, to boot.
"It looks like we need to be at the bottom of this mountain," Tallis sighed, taking the sword from a man who had once been someone. Then he was Tal-Vashoth. Now he was dead. She threw the sword over the edge of the cliff.
Anders looked significantly less than impressed, and started to sing. "Oh, the good old Tal-Vashoth, they had ten thousand men! They marched them up to the top of the hill, then they marched them down again!"
"Stop singing, or I will roll you down the hill," Fenris sighed. His remarks were starting to lose their edge. It was difficult to keep up this kind of sniping commentary.
Back down the hill they went, bypassing the Tal-Vashoth corpses they’d left. At the base of the hill, they came across overgrown ruins. Stone archways led into a courtyard overlooking the cliffs. Anders was sure the view was breathtaking if one didn’t mind heights. Or didn’t have a tendency to trip over their own feet. That would just be ugly.
In the middle of the courtyard, Duke Prosper squared off against a troupe of Qunari.
"That’s Salit," Tallis told Artemis, indicating a Qunari with some fancy face-jewelry.
"Who?" asked Fenris.
"Her… Qunari mentor. Person." Artemis didn’t know how to explain and nor did he want to. "I’ll give you the footnotes later, over cake."
"Viddathari," Fenris said, eyeing Tallis.
"You knew." Tallis waved a hand dismissively.
"I suspected. Your name which isn’t a name…" Fenris adjusted his view of the world again. He really needed to stop fucking things he didn’t approve of. This was getting to be a habit.
"I saw the look on your face, when I introduced myself. But, you didn’t say anything." Tallis’s eyes were still on the scene before them.
"I couldn’t be sure. There are many reasons to have come to know the Qun. There are many reasons to be an elf with a Qunari designation for a name." Fenris shrugged and edged toward the courtyard. "Especially from Seheron."
"No, just the obvious reason, this time." Tallis waved for him to stop talking, so she could make out the conversation before them.
"Let’s get this overwith, Qunari," said Prosper, all his Orlesian pleasantness gone, "before your assassins find us!"
"Assassins? Plural?" Anders muttered. "Is he talking about us? Are we assassins now? I need to rethink my wardrobe."
Artemis turned to say something to Tallis, only to find that she had slipped away again. "Dammit," he hissed. "We need to put a bell on that woman."
Salit had set aside his weapons. He approached the duke and handed a scroll over to the armoured figure at his side. Prosper waited impatiently for the guard to look over the scroll.
"Well?" he said.
"It’s names, your grace," said the guard. "A list of names."
"What?" Prosper snatched away the scroll and read it himself. "What is the meaning of this?"
"I was just about to ask the very same thing." Cormac’s voice rose up from the far side of the courtyard, where he stood with Anton and Isabela.
"Ah, the Fereldans. You just keep turning up." Prosper handed the scroll to the lackey beside him, as he turned to face Cormac and Anton.
"I have an excellent sense of dramatic timing. And good hair." Anton grinned boldly, one arm still around Isabela’s hips, hand wrapped around the hilt of the dagger that was turned up under his arm.
"And I still have your brother in the dungeon. I wonder how he’s faring." Prosper shrugged like an actor in a bad melodrama. "A shame I caught him sneaking around my treasure room with a Qunari agent. That’s not going to look good for the Amells."
"A Qunari?" Cormac looked at Anton, who looked just as confused.
"I thought he was with that elven thief, but hey, that’s Artie for you. Goes in with an elf, comes out with a Qunari."
Artemis huffed and stepped forward into the courtyard, Anders and Fenris at his back. "I like to keep everyone on their toes," he said, twirling his staff idly.
Prosper looked over at him, eyes narrowing and beard bristling in annoyance.
Isabela waved at them across the way. "There you are, Artie!" Anton called out. "What took you so long?"
"Someone who has a terrible sense of direction, that’s what," Anders said, pointing at Fenris.
"I will break that finger," Fenris promised.
"Blight take you all!" Prosper cursed. "I will—!"
There was a scuffle behind him, the clang of a weapon hitting metal. By the time Prosper turned around, Tallis had disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
Salit finally noticed her, eyes following to where she landed atop some corner of a collapsed arch. "Tallis." He did not sound happy.
"I said I would stop you, Salit." She pointed it out like the most obvious thing in the world.
"And I said I would slay you if you tried," he replied turning to face her fully.
"If anyone is to do any slaying, it will be me!" Prosper drew something out of his coat and sprayed Salit with foul-smelling green goo from it. Goo that seemed to glow.
"Magic," Fenris grumbled, sighing, and then the duke’s wyvern — at least he hoped that wyvern was Leopold — descended from the pinnacle of some nearby part of whatever this courtyard had once been.
The wyvern made quick work of Salit, and Anders did not look thrilled with this situation. "More wyverns? Wasn’t one wyvern enough for the day?"
"Kill them all!" Prosper ordered, summoning his hounds.
"Well, if I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I’d have brought the dog." Cormac unshouldered his staff and lashed out, knocking the onrushing guards back, stunned — where they stayed. "Thank you, beautiful!"
"If I knew it was going to be this kind of party, I’d have slept with the servants and nicked the cheese. This is going to be much more a scandal than anything I could’ve managed," Anton joked, before leaping into the fray and disappearing.
A force push from Artemis sent a pair of guards plummeting to their deaths. He didn’t have time to feel bad for the poor souls. "And if I knew it was going to be this kind of party," he said, not to be outdone by his siblings, "I’d —"
"You’d be drunk?" Fenris said.
Artemis shot him a look that wasn’t quite a glare, and their eyes met for a moment too long. "I… well, yes."
Fenris nodded. "So would I," he muttered before streaking after the wyvern in a flash of blue, sword aloft. Artemis stared after him a moment, until Isabela thwacked him up the back of the head.
"You can gawk at him later, sweet thing," she said, grinning as she disappeared again.
Artemis shook himself and aimed his next shove at the wyvern, which shot out over the edge of the cliff, just as Cormac lashed out again, stunning it as it fell.
Fenris sliced two more guards in half, then nodded inquisitively at Isabela, who was looking down after the duke and his deadly mount.
"Aww! Look at this! He thinks I’m going to help him up!" Isabela laughed and threw a knife to the side, dropping a mabari that skidded to a stop not far from where she stood. "Good dog," she said, pulling out the knife.
The rest of the fight went quickly, without the wyvern hocking poison on everything, but the duke could be heard shouting, whenever someone got close to the ledge. "The empress will hear of this! Orlais will burn Kirkwall to the ground! You will all die screaming, I swear it!"
"I think you have that the wrong way around," Fenris remarked, settling his heel on Prosper’s fingers and grinding until they started to slip.
"I would have tried begging for mercy, but that’s just me." Anton wiped off his knives and watched.
Prosper slid from the edge, his last words an angry shout involving ‘turnips’ before a sickening crunch told them everything they needed to know. Isabela waved at him as he fell.
"Well," said Artemis with a wry smile, "I guess the duke has ‘fallen from grace’."
His pun was met with a chorus of groans.
Artemis looked hurt. "What? I thought that was funny!"
Anton snorted and led the way out of the courtyard. Anders slipped an arm around Cormac’s waist and slid him a smile.
"I have to tell you," Anders said, "I like your parties better."
"That’s because my parties are better. And the ham doesn’t taste of despair." Cormac leaned his head on Anders’s shoulder.
Tallis caught up as they made their way back to the château. "Thank you. There’s no way I could have done this without your help."
"What was it on that scroll, anyway?" Isabela asked.
"A list of agents throughout Thedas. Qunari, like myself." The scroll appeared in Tallis’s hand. "Many of them have children, family, friends. They’re people you wouldn’t expect. Some of them have even left the Qun behind. But, if this list fell into human hands, they and everyone they know…"
"Would be killed," Fenris finished.
"The Ariqun believes they knew the risks, but what about the innocents? I… I couldn’t let this happen." Tallis took a long look at the scroll, before it disappeared into her pockets again.
"What now?" Cormac asked, hopelessly flirtatious as usual. "You’re not just going to leave us, are you?"
"You think I would fit into your merry entourage?" Tallis chuckled.
"Let’s see…" Isabela began, tapping her chin. "Are you possessed? Consorting with demons? A pathological liar?"
"I have six toes on my left foot."
Isabela shrugged. "Close enough."
"Maybe some other time, in another place. I still have some things to clean up. You’re cute, Cormac, but I’m not sure about that beard, any more." Tallis winked and patted her pockets for something else.
"I love my beard! My beard is incredible!" Cormac sputtered.
"Ah, this. This was going to be the Heart of the Many. You’d find a jewel, I’d find Salit, and we’d all come away happy." She produced a large red jewel on a chain, and pressed it into Fenris’s hand. "You know what to do with this, Fenris. And stop making your boyfriend cry."