Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 80
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Carver Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Isabela ♀, Varric ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: E (L2 N0 S0 V4 D0)
Warnings: Demons, blood magic, suggestions of mind control, violence, exploding heads
Notes: A final decision about Corypheus. More bad news about Malcolm. Cormac makes an extremely bloody point.
"Such a fool," Larius muttered as they made their way across the tower. "She hears his voice and thinks it is her own."
They found more dwarves in the halls, but few of them could stand up to the onslaught of the Hawkes for long, and Fenris took care of those. They made their way through the maze of corridors, disabling magic fields and activating others, until Varric opened a door to find Janeka leaning against the wall, waiting for them.
"Did you really think those old wards would stop me?" she said haughtily as she straightened. "Look at you," she sneered at Larius, "barely able to string two thoughts together. You’ve only made it this far because of the Hawkes."
Isabela exchanged a look with Varric and Fenris. "I like to think we helped a little," she said, shrugging.
Larius looked at Janeka pityingly. "You can still turn away," he said. "Do not listen to his voice!"
Magic crackled at Janeka’s fingertips like blue lightning. "You’re a fool, Larius," she said, "and you should have died here years ago."
Demons. Again. Anton, for one, was so tired of demons. If he ever had to stab another demon, after they got out of this hole, it would be too soon. These things seemed to be just as big and nasty as the seal guardians, but there were actually five of them, instead of just mirror images — five of them, and each looked a little different.
"Fenris, Carver, get the one with the sword!" Cormac barked, before turning on one of the robed ones. Abominations? Ghouls? Did it matter? They weren’t holding weapons, which strongly suggested they were spellcasters of some sort. Which strongly implied one of them was likely to be a healer. "Anders, with me. Bethy, help Artie with the one over there. The rest of you get in where you can." It was better not to direct the rogues, he’d found. They each had their own mad methods, and they’d figure out where they belonged soon enough.
They were, by now, a well-oiled machine. A tired, cranky, demon-saturated machine, but one that still moved with frightening efficiency. Fenris and Carver made short work of the warrior, Carver distracting it with broad sweeps of his sword while Fenris darted around behind it, Fade glow piercing armour. The creature’s shield stopped Carver’s sword mid-swing, jarring impact numbing Carver’s arms, but Fenris cut the creature down before it could finish lifting its sword.
Bethany tutted at her magic, her favourite spells useless in the wake of demons — or whatever that thing was in the robes — so she focused her energies into blocking enemy magic, throwing shields over her brothers and their friends, and sucking what magic was left in the dusty bones on the floor to fuel them. Artemis, meanwhile, just pummelled the thing into the wall with his usual lack of finesse.
Maker knew what the rogues were doing, but it was effective. Another creature went down shrieking under their onslaught.
Cormac and Anders squished another one into a cloth-wrapped brick, before turning their attention to the last robed monstrosity. "Incoming!" Cormac shouted across the room, laying on a bolt of cold followed shortly by Anders’s bolt of lightning. Cormac’s next spell froze it in place, starting that slow collapse, while Varric pummelled it with crossbow bolts. The problem was solved shortly.
"I have got to stop with the demons! Is this a Kirkwall thing? Seriously, is it? I should just move back to Ferelden, where there’s darkspawn and angry elves, but not so damned many demons!" Cormac complained, shaking out his hands and picking through Anders’s bag for a lyrium potion. "Okay, so maybe some of those weren’t demons, but principally, how many demons are trapped in this tower?"
Anders laughed, nervously. "I saw a lot of demons, in Ferelden. Maybe you just didn’t spend as much time in the demon-infested places. Still, I think Kirkwall’s got even the Circle Tower beat, maybe even if you count the Harrowings." He paused. "Not that I was there for that."
"So, ah, Warden Crazypants just set demons on us. I think this is the part where we kill her, yes?" Anton suggested, daggers still drawn as he stalked off in the direction Janeka had gone.
"Maker, I hope so," Artemis muttered. "I don’t even care how messy that death is, either."
Up the staircase those… creatures… had been guarding, and fresh air and starlight met them. Varric stopped to let the wind buffet his face and let out an almost sinful groan. "This is probably the most undwarven thing I’ve ever said," he sighed, "but I missed having the sky overhead. Thank the Maker."
"Varric," Fenris said, wind blowing white hair into his eyes, "the only thing dwarven about you is your height and your chest hair."
Stone steps and ruins led them higher still, along the top of a cliff overlooking Vimmark Chasm. Torchlight and a full moon lit the night.
"Oh, isn’t this nice," Varric said dryly.
"What’s nice about it?" muttered Carver.
"I was just wondering what someplace sinister and foreboding would look like." Varric gestured ahead of them at a stone structure at the edge of a cliff. "And here it is."
"Oh, look, glowing and orange. Have we done glowing and orange, yet?" Anders practically giggled. He did not look well, ashen and sweaty, a somewhat hysterical grimace on his face. Panic. Panic kept the beast at bay. Panic also made him a great deal more likely to spontaneously set something on fire, but really, if he managed to turn this entire prison into an inferno, it could only be for the betterment of all Thedas.
"We’ve done red and glowy, yellow and glowy, we’ve been doing a lot of blue and glowy, and why didn’t you show me that trick, back in Denerim?" Isabela pinched Anders’s ass and bumped him with her hip. "But, I don’t think we’ve done orange. This is new!"
Janeka and her men stepped out from the sides of the entrance into the orange-lit dome. "You’re too late, Larius. Hand over the Hawkes — at least one of the Hawkes — and I’ll give you a quick death."
"The Hawkes have made their choice. The right one," Larius announced.
"The right one or the only one?" Janeka asked, smirking. "Malcolm Hawke was not allowed to disagree."
"It is the past," Larius snapped, darting a look at Cormac. "It doesn’t matter!"
"‘Not allowed’?" Artemis asked, grip tightening on his staff. "What is that supposed to mean?" She was baiting them, he knew, but that question nagged at him nonetheless.
"How does she know this?" Larius growled. He glared past Janeka at the older Warden by her shoulder. "Alec, did you tell her?"
"Tell her what?" Bethany prodded.
Larius looked at her, looked at each of the Hawkes in turn, stare lingering on Cormac, who looked the most like their father, before looking away. "Your father was reluctant," he explained. "He had to be… persuaded. I-I was Warden-Commander. It was my duty." The Hawkes watched him as he struggled for words. "I delivered an ultimatum — help us, or you’ll never see her again."
Cormac lunged, barely feeling the hands that clutched at his shoulders. "You threatened my mother? You die. All of you nug-fucking lunatics die. There will not be enough pieces left to mail back to Weisshaupt. No one threatens my mother. Not you, not the darkspawn, not the Maker himself. I don’t even care that you let her live. That’s not relevant. My father would have killed you, if you hadn’t, but he didn’t, and now you are mine!"
Anders smiled at Varric and cocked a thumb at Cormac. "I’m with him. It’s a very convincing argument."
"All right, Cormac," Artemis said, teeth grit with the strain of trying to hold his brother back. Luckily force mages were all but impossible to bowl over. "This? Not helping. I’ll help you turn them all into goo later, but right now we have bigger problems."
"You see, Hawke?" Janeka said, smirking at Cormac. "How can you trust anything Larius says?"
Artemis would give her a rude gesture if he had a free hand. Anton did it for him.
"Threatening our family?" he said. "Not the smartest move. In fact, it was really quite stupid. On a scale of stupid from dwarf-tossing Varric to Carver, that was fighting-a-dragon-in-your-underpants stupid. But that doesn’t change the fact that Corypheus is bad news."
"You can come willingly or not, Hawke," Janeka said. "I just need your blood."
"Oh look," sighed Bethany as she reached for a spell. "Another ultimatum. You think the Wardens would have learned."
"Those don’t look like your underpants. Are we clear on how bad of an idea that makes this? Because I think I may have to demonstrate." Cormac raised more than just a shield around himself, this time, and he stopped, unmoveable, in front of Janeka. "Artie? Pull." Cormac’s grin was unnaturally wide, as his fingertips lit up indigo. "What can I say, I’m feeling a little gory."
Anders took advantage of the confusion to start sticking people to the ground — except Janeka. Obviously, they needed to be able to move her, but what was Cormac doing? That didn’t sound like a reasonable tactic, from where he was standing, but he hadn’t been quite aware of the depths of Cormac’s talents for the bizarre, until today.
Artemis shook his head at his brother’s back but moved into position directly behind him. They weren’t kids anymore, and this wasn’t him rolling Cormac down a hill, but the principle was the same. Sort of. "Everyone, get back!" he shouted before pulling Janeka towards him with a wave of force.
Janeka slammed into Cormac’s barrier, like she’d hit a domed window. The pressure started to take its toll fairly quickly, but Cormac had other ideas.
"Hey, Fenris, how’s it done? Like this?" Cormac stretched out his hand, Fade-fingers pushing through the barrier and into the Warden’s eye-sockets, without displacing the eyeballs. That was new and disgusting. He remembered Chateau Haine, and Fenris sticking his hands in wyvern shit — suddenly he understood. "I don’t suppose you ever thought yourself an optimist," he remarked, loosing a bolt of lightning inside her skull. "But, things are going very badly for you, right now."
Blood, bone shards, and a spray of Grey Warden grey matter fanned out around the barrier bubble, painting the other Wardens a brilliant red. Some spatter reached as far as Larius, but Bethany had waved everyone else back, as soon as she realised what Cormac intended. Well, that was a lie, she hadn’t counted on that, but she’d absolutely expected the body to explode across the shield at some point.
"What was that about force magic and shit?" Anton muttered, watching the line of spatter form, a few inches in front of him. "Didn’t we decide that you weren’t supposed to force magic the shit, Artie? ‘Cause all I’m seeing here is armoured turds."
Cormac laughed. "You should probably stop pulling, before that gets worse." He pulled his fingers out of the barrier, wiping the gunk off on the shield. "Maker, it is good to be alive!" He grinned at the Warden stuck next to him.
Artie let the spell drop… though ‘drop’ wasn’t the right word. More like pried it out of his own hands. Behind Cormac, he had his shoulders pulled in, eyes screwed tight.
"I swear to fuck, Cormac," he said in a strangled voice, "if you got brain matter in my hair, you’re the next thing I’m force pushing. Off this cliff."
"Relax, nervous wonder," Carver drawled. "Cormac’s shield protected you, which is more than I can say for my boots. Ew." His left foot touched something that made a squishy sound as he moved it.
Fenris finished off the last of the Wardens, and Larius looked on with both awe and horror in his eyes. He shook himself and gestured them forward earnestly.
"He stirs," Larius said, pointing past the sea of gore to an orange glowing dais. "Slay him now, before he wakes. Before his strength comes. The key is not strong enough. Use your blood. Free him and slay him."
"First off, you wobbly-bottomed little privy-pot, you are on my shit list. If you’re still standing here, when I’m done turning this … magical super-darkspawn into a fine red stew, you’re next. If I ever hear of you in the Marches again? You’re next. Just so we’re clear on that." Cormac was still smiling. "Now, how, exactly, do you want us to … use our blood to free him?"
Larius pointed to the statues out on the balconies of the dome. "Tell them you’ve come for him."
"That’s great. There’s five of us, four of them. Carver, stand here and be swordy, while we do this thing, yeah?" Cormac clapped Carver on the back. If one of them wasn’t going to be a mage, as far as Cormac was concerned, it should be Anton. At least Anton had been paying attention for most of that.
"Oh, look, they’ve got baubles on them. Bet that’s where we’re supposed to grab." Cormac groped the first statue, while his siblings made their way around the dome to the others.
"Feels like the spell’s getting weaker," Anders remarked.
"I don’t suppose he’s going to stop coming after us, unless we do this," Carver sighed.
"Probably not." Cormac rubbed his face and slipped a potion out of Anders’s bag, for himself, as he waited for the other two to open. The beams blinked out, one by one, and the orange glow faded from the final seal. "I wonder if we get more demons? Andraste’s mercy, but I hope not."
"So fucking loud," Anders grumbled, rubbing his temples.
Artemis approached the dais in the middle of the room, praying it was the last one as he twisted the key-staff-thing in his hands. "Right," he said. "So. Needs our blood to open, right? Then the key? Maybe? How does this thing work exactly?" He bent to pull out the utility knife he kept in his boot, but Carver took it from him.
"I can do this part, mageflower," he said, voice long-suffering. "Wouldn’t want you to stain your sleeves and have a fit."
"That was almost sweet of you, Carver."
Carver grunted something vague and drew the knife across his skin, flicking the blood off the blade in the direction of the dais.
"Really, Carver?" Anton sighed. "The palm? You could cut yourself anywhere, you go for the palm? How do you plan to hold your sword after that?"
"Oh, shut up. I didn’t see you volunteering. And that’s what Magey over here is for." Carver hooked a thumb in Anders’s direction. No one commented on how distracted Anders looked, shaking his head and muttering to himself.
"Let’s just get this over with, shall we?" Artie muttered, shooing Carver back away from the platform.