[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 168
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Carver Hawke ♂, Merrill ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, elf humour, sibling rivalry, tense situation
Notes: Merrill brings in some more help for her eluvian troubles. Carver is less than amused with this turn of events.
"But, he’s your brother!" Merrill protested, as Carver turned one bottle on the shelf the wrong way around.
"Exactly," Carver replied. "And you can stop making the bed! He’ll fuss no matter how clean the place is."
Merrill huffed, shooting Carver a glare as she smoothed out the blanket. Carver didn’t point out that it hung more one one side than the other. "I just…" Merrill sighed. "Artemis is always so polite about it, but I can just see the poor thing twitching every time he comes in here and—"
A knock on the door cut her off before she could start rambling. "He’s always like that," Carver threw over his shoulder as he headed for the door. "It’s better if you learn to ignore it." He opened the door and wasn’t surprised to find his brother accompanied by an elf. He was, however, surprised to see that the elf wasn’t Fenris. "Is that—? Mahariel, was it? What are you doing here?"
"I see your manners are right where you left them," Artemis muttered, patting Carver on the shoulder as he stepped into Merrill’s home, not waiting for an invitation.
"Ah, the brother with the sword," Theron cooed, with a barely-pleasant smile. "What does it look like I’m doing? It’s a favour for my favourite shem." He, too, ducked past Carver and gave Artemis’s bottom a quick squeeze. "Merrill." He greeted her with a nod deep enough it was nearly a bow, and spread his hands. "Mala nuvenin."
"Ma serannas, Mahariel. Sulevin revas enasalin." Merrill’s smile was quick and uncertain.
Carver was still stuck on the elf groping his brother, and the fact that Artemis hadn’t objected in any way. "Are… are you cheating on Fenris?" he demanded, staring at Artemis in horror.
"I can promise you that’s not what Fenris called it," Theron called back, tilting his chin up, but not looking over his shoulder. "And my wife can corroborate that."
Carver’s eyes crossed, while Artemis hid his reddening face behind his hand. "More information than my little brother needed, Theron," Artemis squeaked.
"That’s—!" Carver sputtered. "How am I related to you?"
Theron’s grin was wicked and not the least bit apologetic. To Merrill, he said, "I understand you could use my help." His tone was polite but overly so, and it told Merrill more than words that Mahariel was only here because Artemis had asked him to be.
"Hopefully," Merrill replied, her smile nervous. "I’m not sure yet, but. Any help you could give me would be appreciated. Can I get you anything to drink? Food? I… I don’t have much, but…" She cast about her small kitchen, sighing when she saw Artie staring at the bottle Carver had turned around.
Theron shook his head. "No, I have no need. Explain the problem. You speak the language as well." He sounded far more confused than anything.
"You know what the eluvian is for — or what it would be for, if it worked. But, it doesn’t work. It’s… I’m so sorry about Tamlen, but I removed the curse from it." Merrill’s voice was strong, in the last few words, as if that were the most important part, that she’d removed the curse. "I found a description of how to use one in a book, but the book isn’t old enough. It’s Dalish. We don’t know if the words are right."
"And I should know?" Theron asked, bristling at the mention of his dead friend. But, if she’d removed the curse… "Are you sure it’s safe, now?"
"I haven’t been harmed by it. Anders and the Hawkes have touched it, and they’re fine. It’s not dangerous like that, any more," Merrill insisted.
That, at least, was somewhat settling, Theron decided. Seven people had handled the thing since it was theoretically un-cursed, and all of them were still alive, unlike Tamlen. And that still bothered him. He’d survived, but Tamlen had just… disappeared. "I’m not a mage, and you’re not going to like this, but have you considered that the ‘curse’ might not have been one? That it was part of the intended function of the thing, and when you tried to remove it, you broke the thing?"
"No," Merrill insisted, though she looked pensive immediately after, brows furrowed as she looked at the mirror. "That can’t be it. From everything I’ve read, it—"
"And that’s it, isn’t it?" Theron interrupted. "From everything you’d read. These are ancient artefacts, more ancient than anything you could have read, so how accurate can they be? We know next to nothing about the eluvian, Merrill, and that’s what makes them dangerous!"
"And that’s why they need to be studied!" Merrill replied, cheeks red with pique. She folded her arms across her chest and took a deep breath. "I have had this argument enough times with the Keeper, Mahariel, and I don’t need to have it again with you."
"I’m… not arguing that, ironically," Theron said, running a hand through his hair. "We do need to learn more, if we want to keep from repeating our mistakes, but you can’t ignore the danger here. You weren’t there, when Tamlen…" Theron took a breath, shook his head. "You weren’t there."
Carver scowled at Theron’s back, arms folded and shoulders hunched. After some internal debate Artemis fixed the bottle on the shelf, turning it forward again, while keeping one ear on the conversation.
"No, I wasn’t," Merrill admitted. "And I should have been. What were the two of you even doing, running off like that, without telling the Keeper? You shouldn’t have been in those ruins in the first place!"
"You’re right," Theron admitted. "I shouldn’t have been. But, do you really think you’d have made much difference? I barely escaped the taint. Do you think both of us would have been that lucky? Tamlen — I shouldn’t say he wasn’t that lucky. I don’t even know what happened to him. He was just gone. And you…" He trailed off and reached absently for Artemis, just needing a body beside him. "The Keeper says she threw you out because you made a deal with a demon, and she thinks you’ll bring corruption down on the clan. She’s afraid you’re going to start sacrificing other people for your magic, but Merrill, the clan’s getting smaller since you left. People die. That happens. But, not like this, and you’re not there so I know it’s not your fault. Something is wrong on that mountain, and it started with you — you and the Keeper, I guess, since I remember she was there when you found that demon."
"I haven’t been back. You saw when I came back. It was just for the arulin’holm, which she wouldn’t even give to me." Merrill shook her head. "Whatever is going on up there, and something is, it isn’t me. That varterral didn’t come from nowhere. It’s been there for a long time, even if it hasn’t been angry. What was she looking for? What did you find?"
Theron shook his head. "That I cannot answer," he murmured. "I don’t know what she was looking for when we came here, but without our halla we are stuck here."
"I’d say there are worse places," Artemis said, squeezing Theron’s shoulder, "but you’ve seen Kirkwall."
Theron offered him a smirk. "The earthquakes help," he teased, just to watch Artie’s ears turn pink.
Carver squinted angrily at Theron. "What are you accusing my girlfriend of?" he demanded. "And Maker, stop… touching my brother, elf, that’s disgusting. I get enough of that with Fenris."
"Elf. Of which there are two in this room. One of which you appear to be dating." Theron finally looked back to where Carver leaned against the wall beside the door. "I’m not accusing her of anything. I have no idea what’s going on, and my clan is dying, and the Keeper is blaming her. And whether or not I agree, and whether or not I can help, that’s something she needs to know. She’s always been a little… People treat her differently, because she was borrowed from another clan, because we had no mages. People treat me differently for a lot of reasons, actually. I’m… kind of a joke, and so were my parents, Falon’Din mind them. So, of all of us, it’s safe for me to come down the mountain. My wife’s from the Denerim alienage, and I found her because I’m that tel’taren len who keeps running around with the shem. Some days, I’m amazed they even let me back into the clan, after that. I came down with your brother. Nobody knows why I’m here, and I’m pretty sure they all think it’s anything but what I’m actually doing."
Merrill laughed. "What did you tell the Keeper?"
"I told her I was going down the mountain so we didn’t knock over any aravels." Theron cackled, grinning at his former First.
"Oh sweet Maker," Artemis groaned, hiding his face against Theron’s shoulder as Merrill snickered. "I’m never going to be able to look Marethari in the eye again."
"That’s what you said the first time we knocked over an aravel," Theron replied, patting Artie’s rump again just to piss off Carver. "And yet here we are."
"Yes," Carver muttered, "here you are. Tainting any good memories I have of this room."
"But, anyway," Merrill said, looking considerably less tense. "I don’t know why the Keeper would tell you such things. I have had little contact with the clan since I left, and I’ve just been trying to find answers." She gestured hopelessly at the eluvian. It explained why Pol had run away from her, explained the distrusting looks the clan had given her. Merrill knew she and the Keeper saw things differently, but to accuse Merrill of harming the clan… "Anyway. Are you willing to help me or not?"
Theron glanced at Artemis and sucked in a breath. "I can look at the Dalish writing," he said, noncommittally. "But I make no promises."
"Of course not," Merrill looked confused at the suggestion, but she gestured to the book on the table. "Anders thinks the words were written down by a native speaker of Tevene, and they might be the right concepts but the wrong words, or the right words but only if you say them like you would if they were Tevene words."
"Well, I don’t speak Tevene," Theron admitted, letting go of Artemis to get closer to the book. "Ma’shiral in abelas tu bora var vhenas. ‘Your journey with sorrow will make you lose our home.’ Well, that’s cheery. Are you sure this is something we should be playing with?"
"Arlathan had already fallen," Merrill reminded him. "It sounds like the sort of thing you’d say to get back there. Or at least the sort of thing you’d hope would take you home. Except it doesn’t work."
"Are we certain of that?" Theron asked, squinting at the mirror, one finger marking that line in the book. "Do we have records of anyone using an eluvian after Arlathan? Maybe this password is not a password but just wishful thinking."
Merrill chewed on her lip and seemed to be considering it. "No," she decided after a while. "It can’t be."