[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 103
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: G- (L1 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Notes: Unexpected guests. Old… ‘friends’. Mayhem ensues.
A squeal from Isabela told them the next guest had arrived. Within the hour, the party had gone from a small group of friends and relatives to a surprising number of lesser nobility and entertainers of varying types.
Anders and Aveline sat together on the patio, discussing Fran’s latest designs, and how everyone always underestimated the impact of a good brown — except Aveline, of course, who looked incredible in her latest of Fran’s creations. She’d tried to bring Donnic, but he refused to believe that guardsmen — specifically men — belonged in corsetry. Noblemen, perhaps. Guardswomen, definitely. But no, not guardsmen.
Serendipity circled, in some confection of orange satin and white tulle, gossiping and trading compliments. Anton would end up with anything usable she gathered. That was just how they worked.
From the doorway, Bodhan announced, "Presenting the Wardens Sigrun and Shale!"
The enormous golem in the begemmed blue-steel corset protested. "I am not a Warden. She is a Warden."
Anton froze, elbowing Cullen. "Does that look strangely familiar to you? That looks strangely familiar to me…"
If Cullen’s face had been red earlier, it was devoid of colour now. "Maker," he said or maybe breathed. His lips formed the words, whether his lungs pumped the air or not. "Is that—? It can’t be." He looked at Anton, looked at the cordial in his hand, and looked back up at the golem. No. That still looked exactly like that statue in Honnleath. The one he used to use as target practice. "Hide me."
The golem approached, and Cullen and Anton ducked behind the nearest ficus.
Across the way, Fenris ducked through the crowd, the chain forcing him to keep up with Artemis, which was, in hindsight, the opposite of what was supposed to happen. Artie came up behind Cormac and prodded his arm. "Cormac, Cormac, I’m seeing things. Tell me I’m seeing things." He took his brother by the impressive shoulders and turned him towards the corseted golem.
"That’s not possible," Cormac said, firmly, taking in the golem in one glance. "It’s a golem, right? Don’t all golems look alike?" He’d never seen a golem before the Deep Roads, and those had been much bigger, but anything that looked like the statue that had been in the middle of town, but was now walking into their house had to be a golem. And this was a small golem. For a golem. Still much bigger than he was. "There’s no way. What are the chances? It’s just the same kind of golem we had a statue of." There’d been stories about the wizard, though… Wizard, statue, golem… Cormac shut down that thought as fast as it happened. "Can’t be."
He looked for Anton, who was nowhere to be seen. Apparently he’d had the same thought. "They’re Wardens, right? Go get Anders. He probably knows something. I’ll … stall."
"There is a golem, wearing a corset, in your house, Cormac. I have seen golems, before. I have seen golems in the Imperium, and they are not this small," Fenris pointed out. "If you knew a small golem, once… I would assume they are far fewer in number. There is a very good chance this is that golem."
"I didn’t know a golem. I knew a statue," Cormac insisted. "Golems move. Sometimes they talk. Statues do neither of these things."
Fenris ran out of leash, and followed Artemis out to the patio.
Cormac was right. It couldn’t be. That was simply much too big a coincidence. His luck was terrible but not that terrible. Artemis found Anders chatting with Serendipity and, with a tug on Anders’s arm, interrupted what sounded like a riveting political discussion. "Anders. Anders? Resident Warden Anders?"
"Yes?" Anders noted Artie’s wide eyes and looked back and forth between Artie and Fenris. He was immediately on guard, Justice sitting up at the edge of his thoughts. "Did something happen?"
"No, no," Artemis said with a nervous laugh. "Not yet, anyway. Something might happen. To Cormac. Or myself. Most likely to Cormac, considering…"
"Right. Yes. There is a golem. A golem in a corset that we might know. The— the statue. It looks just like the statue, from…"
Anders tried to get a good look at Artemis’s eyes. "And how much have we had to drink tonight, Artie?"
"I’m not—Augh!" Artemis grabbed Anders by the wrist and tugged him back inside, planting him somewhere he could see the golem. Fenris trailed after, throwing Serendipity an apology and a long-suffering look.
"That’s a golem. And, that’s my friend from the Legion!" Anders pointed across the crowded room and bellowed, "Six pints for the first floor, and five shots each to the top of the tower!"
"Less fear! More beer!" came the answering shout, and the confused crowd parted for the dwarf suddenly barrelling through. Sigrun leapt up, scaling Anders in seconds, to hang from his shoulders. "How the fuck are you, healer?"
"Oh, you know, went out on patrol, got stabbed by a templar, decided it was time for a little holiday. Got a home, a family, a clinic. I’m doing all right. I just… can’t come back." Anders tucked an arm under Sigrun, as if holding up a dwarf were a perfectly normal part of his day.
"Didn’t you go out with Justice? We’ve all been wondering — did he make it back to the Fade?" Sigrun asked, looking concerned. "We found… well, we think it was Kristoff. It was wearing his armour. Templars tried to say you killed him and their guys, but … it was a mess. We thought you’d been in there, until that letter to the Commander."
"Kristoff… you remember what happened to Kristoff? Happened to me." Anders shrugged. "Just, I was alive at the time. We’re both here. Well, no, I guess we’re both me would be more accurate. I’m a little different, now. He’s a little different."
"Mages, man, you just keep getting weirder." Sigrun laughed and looked up at the cat peering down from the top of Anders’s head. "Is that Pounce?"
Anders’s face twisted wistfully at the name. "No, this is Ser Purrceval," he said, reaching up to pet the cat with his free hand. "Purrcy, for short. His brother, Lord Assbiter, is downstairs, likely whining at their food dish." The room was too loud to hear Purrcy, but Anders could feel the cat’s ribcage vibrating with purrs. Sigrun pet him, and Purrcy seemed more than content to let her.
"‘Lord Assbiter’," she huffed. "Oghren would have gotten a kick out of that." She let out a parody of Oghren’s bark of a laugh, which Anders copied.
Next to them, Artemis turned to Fenris and spread his hands. "Golem. Giant… giant golem in a corset, and he sees the dwarf." Fenris sighed and made a face Artie knew too well. "Yes, yes, ‘mages’, I know."
"Yes, you do," Fenris rumbled, giving the chain a teasing tug.
The ficus next to Fenris rustled, and a familiar head of blond curls appeared around it. "Is it gone?" he asked Fenris. "The golem?"
"It doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. It’s just … standing there, by the tarts." Fenris shrugged and eyed Cullen intently. "Is there something I should know? Did you also know a suspiciously small golem, at some point?"
"We lived in the same town, for a while. Long time ago. But, there was a statue that looked just like that, right in the middle of town." Cullen ducked back behind the tree. "I never expected it to get up and walk away!"
"I think further introductions are in order," Anders said, finally lowering Sigrun to the ground, without dropping Purrcy. "Artemis, Fenris, this is my friend Sigrun. She was Legion, before she became a Warden. We’re all doing the same thing, just for different reasons. Sigrun, this is Artemis, the twitchiest mage in Thedas, and his fiancé, Fenris, who glows in the dark. Somewhere around here are Artie’s brothers, Cormac and Anton…"
Sigrun offered both her hands at once, arms crossed over at the elbows, as she held them out to Fenris and Artemis. "I’ve heard nothing about the two of you, because none of us are supposed to know he’s even alive, but whatever he’s said about me… it’s probably true. Unless it involved twelve copper, a nug, and seven pints of stout. That is a dirty lie."
"I… can’t say I’ve heard that one, but now I almost want to," Artemis replied, shaking her hand as Fenris shook the other. He didn’t know how he felt about being introduced as the ‘twitchiest mage in Thedas’. How could Anders know that? Had there been a contest of some sort to determine that? "Wait. Hold on." Artemis gave Anders a sidelong look. "Friend in the Legion. This is her?"
Anders grinned and told her, "Artie’s a fan of your work."
Sigrun’s brows bunched in confusion at first only to smooth over in realisation. "You kept it? Seriously?" Her laugh was the loud, snorting kind that was infectious.
"I started referring to it as the ‘Magic Wand’," Anders replied, which did not help with Sigrun’s snorting laughter.
Fenris threw a puzzled look at Artemis. "Am I missing something?" he asked.
"If you are, you want it that way," Artie replied, face red. "So, um. Sigrun. Your friend, the golem — Shale, was it? How did you two meet?" That seemed politer than asking if Shale used to be a statue pigeons pooped on.
"Oh, she’s an old friend of the Commander. Travelling back through from somewhere to somewhere else, and she stopped by. She’s fascinated by the cellars of the Vigil, but who wouldn’t be? Some really amazing old machinery down there, most of it almost finished." Sigrun caught herself about to start rambling, and verged back into the subject at hand. "But, she used to be a dwarf, she says. Forged into a war golem, by the Paragon Caridin, who, I don’t know if you know much about the Paragons, but he was a pretty badass dude. Complains about pigeons, all the time. I guess she got stuck as a statue, for a while, after some jerk mage broke her control rod."
"She was … forged? into a golem?" Fenris had always assumed golems were made of stone and metal, but never gave them much thought.
"Oh, yeah, all the golems were criminals and Casteless. They volunteered to be turned into golems, because at least then they could still fight and regain their families’ honour. Kind of like the Legion, actually, but way more painful. More effective, too, really. We’re kind of squishy." Sigrun nodded, like she was explaining something inconsequential and obvious. "Why do you ask?"
"One might say I, too, was ‘forged’," Fenris said, with a hint of bitter amusement. Artie’s hand slid over his and squeezed, and he smiled. "I should like to meet her, after."
A nervous laugh punched out of Artemis’s throat. "It… sounds like you should. Yes. I, on the other hand, should inform my big brother that the even bigger golem was in fact a statue at some point in her life. A fact that I am sure has nothing to do with the Shale-shaped statue that we knew." Artemis excused himself from the Wardens and cat and waded through the crowd again, in search of a familiar bearded face.
"Um." Fenris looked at the chain in his hand, looked up at Anders and Sigrun. "Mage. Warden." He followed the golden chain and decided he’d have to introduce himself to this Shale later.
Anders huffed. "Unbelievable. You’re ‘Warden’, and I’m still ‘mage’."
Artie tapped on Cormac’s shoulder again.
"Yes, my darling sweet—" Cormac looked over his shoulder. "— brother. Well. That wasn’t what I expected. Did you find him, or had he wandered off into invisibility again?"
"Your golem statue is an actual golem. Probably this actual golem." Fenris cut to the chase. "Something about a ‘jerk mage’ and a ‘broken control rod’." A breath of amusement slipped out of him. "I know the feeling."
Cormac took a moment to absorb that, straight-faced and unblinking. "I have never been so glad I didn’t pee on something in my entire life," he remarked, a little too calmly. "But, that was always more Anton’s thing… where is Anton? Someone should probably warn him…"
Varric walked by, clearly in pursuit of more liquor, carrying on a conversation with Isabela. A few words drifted past. "… but would you look at that elf! Maker! I’m all the way across the room, and Bianca’s getting jealous."
Fenris blinked at the dwarf’s back and shuffled out of the way of the next person walking by. His spikes had already caught on some woman’s fabric earlier, and that was not an experience he wanted repeated. "Since I do not see your other brother," Fenris said, returning to the conversation at hand and cutting in before Artemis could fumble any more words, "or your… other brother, I would assume Anton is aware."
"I’d expect so," Artie agreed, "especially since Ser Cullen is hiding behind a ficus. Was he in Honnleath? I think I remember Anton saying something about that once." Most of the places their family had travelled to blurred together, but Honnleath stuck in his memory, mostly because of why they’d left. He cleared his throat. "Do you think she — Shale — the golem — remembers anything from when she was a statue?"
Maker, he hoped not. That statue — golem — whatever — had been a favourite hiding place of his. Between her legs. He used to hide between her legs. Sweet Andraste. She was going to kill him if she remembered.
"What, exactly, did all of you do to this… statue to make you worry about her reaction?" Fenris asked, eyeing the brothers.
"I just used to climb up and stand on its — her — shoulders and pretend I was king of the world. I was ten. It made sense at the time. I’d make stupid proclamations and wear crowns made of sticks and flowers. The weaver thought it was hilarious. She’d come up and petition me for silly things, like … I think once she wanted me to raise troops and start a war against the squirrels in her garden." Cormac laughed, remembering all the silly games he’d played as a child, and how many townspeople had just run with it, when he was being weird. "Anton, though… if Anton’s hiding, I bet he peed on it. Probably to get back at Artie. I don’t even know for what. It’s not like Artie was force pushing people down the stairs, yet — he didn’t have force and we didn’t have stairs."
Bethany arrived with Merrill, but no sign of Sebastian, who had stolidly refused to show up to a party in his underwear or hers, as he’d put it. Merrill wore green and brown, with pink lace at the top — looked like a flower, really, at least according to Bethany, who was clad in black and red, just like her brothers, but in a cut more similar to what Serendipity wore, with layers of fluffy, asymmetrically cut tulle. Bethany hugged Serendipity, as they passed, and the three ladies descended upon the rather out-of-place looking golem, who did, admittedly, wear that steel corset well.
"Your sister appears to be facing the golem with no ill effects," Fenris said, keeping an eye on the proceedings. "No stone flying, no one calling for the abomination…"
"She was a baby when we were in Honnleath," Artemis said, shaking his head. "She doesn’t have to worry about being recognised. We should keep Anders handy though, and — where is Anders, anyway?"