[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 120
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Aveline ♀, Varric ♂, Merrill ♀, Anders ♂, Carver Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: It’s a war, stabbing, magic, BEES!?
Notes: Uh, yeah, we know it’s the event of the year and all, but who invited the Knight-Commander?
The streets opened up onto the Lowtown market, or on what once had been a market and was now a battlefield. Qunari clashed with armoured figures, and when Anton turned, he saw Bethy’s favourite Nevarran restaurant ablaze. Almost without thinking, Cormac laid a blizzard on it. He couldn’t get a clear enough angle to hit more than one Qunari, though, with the… that wasn’t armour from around here — those were Wardens. There were Wardens in his way.
Cormac and Anders looked at each other in confusion, for a moment, before Cormac clenched his fist, and a Qunari started to bleed from the eyes. Beside him, Anders started throwing bolts of lightning into the crowd. At least his aim was better than Artie’s, Cormac thought. Merrill joined them, after a moment, a Qunari erupting in boils and blisters as the blood tried to bubble out through his skin.
Aveline and Carver joined the clash, from a closer vantage, swords biting into the walls of towering Qunari before them. "Ice!" Carver yelled, and three Qunari froze, one after another. He didn’t know which mage that was, and he didn’t care. Around them, Qunari continued to implode and explode as Cormac and Merrill kept casting. Anders seemed to have gotten pulled away to keep them all alive.
No one had seen Anton for several minutes, when a fountain of blood erupted from the throat of a Qunari warrior, and Anton shoved the bleeding corpse aside. Crossbow bolts appeared from nowhere, as the battle dragged on, almost always shots in the eye.
Carver spun, sword clattering against a shield, behind him. "Oh. Sorry. Don’t sneak up on me." He laughed and looked around, waiting for more Qunari to come pouring out of the alleys.
"On the list of things I thought might happen today," said the Warden leader, a blond man with a lopsided smile, "a Qunari attack would have been near the bottom."
"Only near the bottom?" Anton asked, his usually charming smile just a little strained. He plucked one of his throwing daggers from a Qunari’s throat. "Must be an interesting list."
"Wardens. You’d be surprised what makes it on there."
Anders huffed a wry laugh before clearing his throat and looking away, taking a step to the side to hide behind Cormac’s impressive shoulders. He was too tall to hide well, however, and the Warden spotted him, his stare lingering.
"Hey," he said, drawing out the one syllable and scratching at the scruff on his chin. "You… look familiar."
"Do I? No, I don’t." Anders shook his head, laughing nervously.
"You do. Wait. Hold on. Anders. You’re that Anders fellow, aren’t you? Solona was tearing her hair out trying to find you! And you know how she is about her hair. Terribly vain, that woman."
"I sent her a letter, earlier in the year, and I just saw Sigrun, last month!" Anders protested. "I just… had to take care of some things, after that … If you know she was looking for me, then you know some very bad things went down in Amaranthine. She’s got me working up here, now, keeping an eye on the refugees." Anders paused squinting at the Warden. "So, that’s me. You found me. You can tell her I’m fine, if I don’t tell her myself, first. Doesn’t answer who you are, that Solona’s telling you wild stories about me."
"My name’s Alistair," the Warden introduced himself. "I worked with her during—"
"You. You’re that used-to-be-a-Templar that Zevran used to talk about! With the licking of lamp-posts and making cow-eyes at that rogue lady," Anders laughed.
Alistair groaned and buried his face in his hand. "Oh, Maker. You’ve been talking to Zev. Don’t believe any of it."
"As lovely as this is," Anton interrupted, "if we don’t get my sister and get to the keep, Kirkwall’s coming down. You two can catch up over drinks after we stop the Qunari from taking the city."
"Well, I’d like nothing better than to stay and help, but the mission we’re on can’t be delayed." Alistair shrugged and waved for his men to follow him.
"There’s something more important than an invasion?" Cormac asked, but Anders put a hand on his shoulder.
"He can’t get involved unless he gets attacked," Anders said, quietly, shaking his head.
"I can’t say any more. I wish I could, but I swore on my pinky to keep the Wardens’ secrets." Alistair turned his palms out, regretfully. He started walking back towards the Docks. "Maker watch over you, my friend," he paused to say. "And over us all."
"Well," Carver mumbled as the Wardens disappeared from sight, "that was less than useful."
"Rather like you," Anton said with a teasing smile and a pat on Carver’s shoulder.
With the market clear, so was the bridge into Hightown, the market deserted but in better condition than Lowtown’s. Stone buildings were considerably less flammable, and, judging by the lack of corpses, most of Hightown’s nobles had gotten wind of the attack in time to take shelter. At least that’s what Anton assumed and hoped. He spared a thought for the Blooming Rose and Serendipity but had to trust that they would be all right.
A woman’s screams drew their attention, and they turned to see a pair of Qunari dragging a noblewoman behind them. She shrieked and scrabbled at the cobblestones, and her captor yanked hard on her ankle.
"Parshaara!" spat one Qunari. "Quit your struggling, woman!"
Anton had already slipped into the shadows, ducking behind pillars, and Varric. Aveline and Carver circled to cut off the Qunari, facing them head on.
"Teth a!" shouted the other Qunari, eyes widening as he spotted them. "Bas!" This last word ended in a choked gurgle and a bolt through his throat. The first Qunari turned in time to get a knife in his.
"Saarebas," Cormac corrected, laughing, as he bent down to help the noblewoman off the ground. "Dangerous things, indeed. You should get inside, lady. This is going to take a while."
The noblewoman staggered to her feet, with Cormac’s help, and then screamed, as she looked up.
"So the Arishok failed to take you captive. Unfortunate," said a voice from across the plaza.
"Seriously? Aveline? Carver? Nobody was looking behind me?" Cormac eyed the distance between himself and the approaching Qunari, before laying down a tempest in the gap.
As the Qunari made their way through the lightning, vines wound up their legs, holding them inside the storm. Merrill winked at Varric, and the Qunari struggled to free themselves.
"I knew I liked you, Daisy! Making it easy for me. It’s like shooting spiders in an inferno!" Varric grinned and started picking them off.
"Fish. Fish in a barrel, Varric," Carver said, weakly, not sure he wanted to know. He kept an eye on the nearest set of stairs, all the same, just in case.
"No, spiders in an inferno," Aveline chuckled. "You had to be there."
"I’m rather glad I wasn’t," Carver replied.
Anton turned to say something when an explosion rocked the ground beneath them, knocking them to the ground. His cheek met stone, and white sparks filled his vision. "Oh. Ow." Clutching his head, Anton pushed himself up onto his elbows, finding Varric’s ass in his face and the dwarf similarly struggling to stand.
"What was that you said about saarebas?" Anders asked, holding a blue-glowing hand to his head.
Anton followed his line of sight to see a Qunari stalking towards them, clawed hands crackling with electric-blue energy. The ground was rocking, but that probably had to do more with the pounding in his skull than the saarebas’s magic. Anton fumbled for one of his daggers.
The saarebas raised his hands, gesturing for a new spell, when the energy gathered in his hands flickered out. He stopped, hands stilling, a sound of confusion giving way to one of surprise and pain as a sword point erupted from his chest.
The Qunari crumpled to reveal their rescuer, and Anders swore under his breath. Meredith spared him a glance but walked over to Anton and hauled him to his feet. "You," she said. "Hawke, is it? The one with the goat?"
"Anton Hawke, yes." Anton swayed a bit as he was set on his feet. "I apologise again for your floors."
"It’s good that we found you, Knight-Commander." Aveline cut in, pulling herself up on the decorative fence around a tree. "The Qunari are—"
"It’s obvious what they’re doing." Meredith looked even more displeased than usual. "They’re taking people into the keep, and they may already be in control. We will need to deal with them."
"Why would they be gathering hostages?" Anton wondered aloud. "It’s not a terribly Qunari thing to do, last I checked."
"To get everyone important in one place, where they can be controlled… or killed." Meredith’s eyes were hard as she looked up at the Qunari at the top of another flight of stairs, surrounding a man.
"I suppose that’s one way of phrasing it," Anton said, after a moment’s thought. "Controlled. As in forcibly converted to the Qun and used for labour."
"Charming," Aveline muttered. "I think I liked the darkspawn better."
Behind the rest of them, Anders held Merrill’s hand, and neither of them spoke.
"Well, we’re always happy to help, in a life-threatening crisis," Cormac said, a little too brightly. "I was expecting this, and I planned ahead. I just need my sister, before we go charging in there like fools."
"Good! Then I’ll overlook your family’s continuing history of magic, for the moment. Particularly the magic you used, back there." Meredith smiled unpleasantly.
"Taking credit for me again, Cormac?" Anders joked, letting go of Merrill and stepping through the group. "Mage-Warden Anders. I don’t think we’ve met. It’s a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Knight-Commander."
Meredith’s eyes narrowed as he approached. "Anders. Yes. I know who you are." The tone of her voice said she was displeased with this fact. Anders kept up his pleasant smile even as Justice clamoured to be let loose. "And you do not fool me. I know a mage when I see one." She looked at Cormac pointedly, and Carver took a surreptitious step in front of Merrill. "But that is a matter for another time. Head to the keep, and I will see if I can find more of my men. These creatures will pay for this outrage."
Meredith didn’t wait for a response. She pushed past them into the streets of Hightown.
Anders sagged, letting out a shaky breath, eyes flashing blue for the barest moment. "Charming woman," he said. Merrill squeezed his arm consolingly.
"You should see what she’s like after a goat’s crapped on her floors," Anton said wryly.
"Yes, thanks for that, by the way," Carver muttered. Anton offered him a shrug and his least apologetic smile. "Now come on, and let’s get the other mageflowers before they wilt."
They padded up the stairs into Hightown proper, and Anton cursed when he found a portcullis cutting them off. He examined it for locks, for a mechanism, but there was nothing for him to poke at to pull it back up. "Dammit. We’re going to have to cut through the Merchants’ Guild. Come on."
The dwarves, it seemed, had been wise enough to bar the doors of the guildhouse, but the courtyard was still filled with Qunari — and seemingly only Qunari. Anders and Cormac knocked fists, and then Anders reached out his other hand to Merrill, for a high five.
"Stand back," Cormac warned, quietly, as Anders and Merrill started pinning the Qunari down. A green glow radiated beneath the vines that pushed up the flagstones. Anders followed with a blizzard and Cormac dropped a tempest on top of it. Merrill added chain lightning, which skipped between the horns of the Qunari.
"Okay, but have you considered bees?" Anders asked, parting his hands, absently, as he grinned at Merrill. The air inside the storm grew thick and yellow. "I knew an elf, once, who taught me the importance and the danger of properly applied bees."
"Oh, shit. Those are actual bees." Carver stepped behind Aveline, ducking down to peer over the top of her head. "We’re in the middle of a fight against the Qunari that want to take over all of Kirkwall, and you summon bees?"
"Actually, they’re corrupted wasps." Anders shrugged. "It seemed like an appropriate thing to do at the time."
"I’m not sure that’s an improvement!" Carver complained, as Aveline stepped to the side. He tried to hide behind Anton, next, but Anton was never standing quite where Carver had expected him to be.
Varric just kept firing into the storm, and after a few minutes, there were far fewer Qunari, although the wasps still buzzed angrily around the corpses, as the storm cleared. "You might want to do something about your infestation of death wasps, Blondie. I don’t think the Guild’s going to take it nicely if they start building nests."
"Oh, they’ll go away eventually," Anders said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Usually. Hopefully."
"That is the opposite of reassuring," Carver said, to which Anders shrugged.
"We have bigger problems," Aveline reminded them, ushering them onward.
"Literally bigger," Anton agreed. "Qunari-sized problems. Qunari-shaped problems." He trailed off distractedly as they passed the Red Lantern District, or at least the barricaded road that led into it. Barricaded. Likely not worth the trouble to the Qunari storming the Keep. Good.
"Looks like we can get to the Estate this way," Carver pointed out ahead of Anton. That rather defeated the purpose of the portcullis out front, but Carver wasn’t about to complain.
They met more Qunari in the courtyard in front of the Estate, but there was only a handful, and the mages made short work of them. Carver kicked one dying Qunari just because he could.