[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 151
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: G- (L1 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical Tevinter bullshit
Notes: Fenris and Anders discover some unpleasant secrets.
The book sat on the table in a room Fenris hadn’t been in, since the night Theron and Kalli had visited. Anders, thankfully, had refrained from commenting. At least on that. He’d very definitely been commenting on what was on the pages.
"I don’t see any mention of lyrium," Fenris grumbled. "I know it was probably to much to hope for, but I did hope." The tattoos in the drawings were extremely close to his own, all the same.
"Am I reading that right?" Anders asked, rubbing his eyes and tapping on a particular sentence. "The marks are not those of a god, but of ‘the Destroyer’, possibly a reference to the bearer rather than the source. They are only placed on warriors whose skills are far above the expectations of any human or elf. Some who bore the marks were put to death under suspicion of being possessed by demons."
"That…" Fenris moved Anders’s finger and studied the page. "Yes." A small sound of amusement leapt into his throat.
"Suspected they were possessed," Anders laughed, shaking his head. "Well, you do glow…"
"And you know the source of my glowiness as well as I do and that no demons were involved." He hoped. He only had shards of memory of receiving those markings, and no memory of what came before. For all he knew, demon-summoning had been involved, and wasn’t that a cheering thought… "Well. Now we know the symbolism behind these markings. It would appeal to Danarius’s… vanity to own a warrior with such terrifying markings."
"As for the rest," Anders sighed, running a hand through his hair, "the lyrium and the… Fade-glowy bits, I suspect that was more experimentation on his part than anything else." Fenris nodded grimly. "But… you know, you should ask Cormac to tell you about the ancient elven ‘arcane warriors’, some time. I suspect that may have been part of his inspiration."
Fenris tilted his head. Ancient warrior. Destroyer. He supposed there were worse comparisons.
Anders squinted at the page, again. "This text…" He stuck a finger in the page and flipped to the front of the book. "This is a copy of a much older book, but it’s still not… that old."
Fenris looked blankly at him. "Feel free to begin making sense at any time."
"The original is only a couple hundred years old. It’s post-Andrastian." Anders said it like it explained something, but Fenris couldn’t figure out where he was going with it.
"Yes…?" Fenris squinted at Anders and then at the title page of the book.
"The Blights were already happening. The Old Gods were gone. Something bothers me about ‘the Destroyer’. The author obviously doesn’t know what it means, so this probably dates back just as far or almost as far as the rest of the vallaslin. And it’s something that got lost, somewhere along the line. There was a Destroyer, but now there is not. And it can’t have been one of the Old Gods, or this pattern would have been in the other book. There are only seven gods recorded, and this is an eighth design that is extremely different to all of them, but is still obviously honouring something."
"I don’t understand why it can’t be honouring the warrior," Fenris said, reopening the book to Anders’s finger.
"Because that’s not how this works. The honour is in the comparison to something greater." Anders took his finger back and rubbed his face, muttering to himself. "Destroyer, destroyer… Why does that remind me of something…? The Destroyer…"
Fenris paled. "… of thaigs."
They exchanged a look over the open pages, Fenris’s wide eyes mirroring Anders’s. "That… creature we read about in the Vimmark Mountains? Held by dwarven blood magic? What was its name… Mal…"
"Malvernis," Fenris said. "Like I needed another excuse to hate ancient things with Tevinter names." He was beginning to wish they’d paid more attention to that fortress and its history, whatever history it had before the Wardens found it. He’d been too worried about Artemis, about the Carta’s attacks on him and his family, to pay the dwarven inscriptions much heed.
"I think we need to find out more about this Malvernis," Anders said, thinking along similar lines. He scratched at the stubble along his jaw. "Assuming the information is out there to be found. This creature is old, pre-Blights old, and any scholarship on the subject is going to be dubious at best." He wasn’t going to suggest a return trip to the Vimmark Chasm. He’d had enough of that place to last him through the next Blight, and knowing them, they’d just end up accidentally freeing this Malvernis.
Fenris hummed, finger tracing the illustration of inked tattoos much like his. "I wonder how much Danarius knows about these markings’ history…"
"Well, after we kick his ass, you can ask him." Anders shrugged.
"Mage, after we kick his ass, he’ll be dead," Fenris retorted. "It’s not a state that lends itself to questioning."
"Presumptions! That’s what magebane is for!" Anders grinned a little too cheerfully. "Trust me. I’d know. We interrogate him, first, and then we make him dead!"
"I would prefer to just make him dead. He is a magister. That’s… I do not want to consider what tricks he might have up his sleeves." Fenris shook his head and looked back at the book, studying the lines. "The Destroyer. Why would anyone worship such a thing? If the inscriptions are accurate… would any worshippers have even survived the process?"
"Power," Anders said, leaning back and trying not to think too much about it. "It’s all about the pursuit of power, and anything that can consume the bones of your ancestors and turn your best warriors into a liquid is a very powerful thing. Perhaps best to have such a thing on your side, if that’s even possible, but it’s not really about what’s possible. Look at the ridiculous things the Chantry teaches. People still chase that up to the top." It wasn’t that he didn’t have faith. It was just that his faith was more in what was written than what was taught.
Fenris huffed, shaking his head. "Is that was Danarius was hoping from me? To turn warriors’ bones into liquid? I fear I’ve fallen short of that aspiration."
"Yes, you can only squish organs," Anders said wryly. "Such a disappointment you must have been."
"Oh, I’m sure I can crush bone too, with enough time and determination," Fenris said with a wicked smile.
"You know, there’s a terrible joke in there about you squeezing a different kind of bone," Anders said before he could think better of it, "but I’ll just leave it implied."
"You’re too kind." Fenris flipped through more pages, mouthing the words to himself as he read. After a while, he sat back and sighed. "I suspect that’s the most we’re going to find in this book," he said.
"It’s a start, at least," Anders replied, shrugging one shoulder. He eyed Fenris’s new cuffs and asked, "How are the runes working? Is the pain still better?"
"So far, this is working. I am not yet entirely convinced the body is meant to contain this much lyrium, in any form, but it is a much less offensive experience, now." Fenris adjusted the cuff on one wrist.
"I’m absolutely sure your body isn’t supposed to contain that much lyrium, and while it’s great that it’s stopped hurting, I’m still a little concerned about long-term effects." Anders ran a hand through his hair and stretched, bumping his foot on the table. "On the other hand, I’ve seen what lyrium-addled looks like, and it’s not you. I’m thinking templar problems, though. Might be worse to remove it, than to leave it in, but you’d want to talk to Cullen about that. He’d know."
"Did you just non-sarcastically suggest someone ask a templar for opinions?" Fenris teased. Anders was right, of course. Cullen would know — he’d have to know.
"Not just any templar. The one who likes me. There is, in fact, only one of those." Anders wondered about the constant trickle of lyrium, and how different it might be to this much embedded lyrium. Clearly, Fenris had survived, somehow, and he was a good deal less crazy than old lyrium miners or Tranquil who slipped. There was no such thing as an immunity, but the further one was from the Fade, the higher native resistance one would have. But, Fenris was using the lyrium to step into the Fade — at least partially.
And given what he knew about lyrium, slaves, and stepping into the Fade…
The lyrium was already in contact with the blood of the slave. No murders required. Fenris was a walking example of ancient Tevinter blood magic.