[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 197
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Merrill ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, consensual violence, Cormac has shields for a reason, blood, zombies, the usual
Notes: Yet more throwing Cormac at things that might be trapped!
"Everything knows we’re coming, now!" Cormac said, cheerily. "Me first!" He winked at Anders and ran down the hall, only to turn around at the far end and run back along the other side. "I’ve got walking corpses following me!" he shouted, putting on a burst of speed to bring him back to the doorway long before anything could catch up. Still, the hall began to fill with shambling corpses.
"Artie? Why don’t you take Anders and step to the left. About a door’s width to the left. Anders, go adore my brother for a minute. You don’t want to see this." Cormac waited until they’d both stepped aside, before he lit most of the length of the hall on fire and brought up a barrier that blocked the doorway, while it burned.
Bethany applauded. "Well done!"
"I figured I should see if the problem would solve itself, if I applied a little assistance." Cormac shrugged and stood back, watching the corpses break down under the flames.
Anders saw the glow of fire reflect off the wall, off Artie’s skin, but Artemis smiled and distracted him with some terrible jokes. When the fires burned themselves out, Artemis nodded and told him he could turn back around. Anders saw the charred bones, still smouldering, and offered Cormac a weak smile. This had been his idea, hadn’t? Coming down here? Maker, but sometimes his ideas were terrible…
Bethany looked more closely at the bones as she stepped over them. She didn’t recall undead shambling around the other books. "There is definitely some old magic here," she said, more intrigued than worried. Artie looked worried enough for them both.
Merrill stepped into the hall, examining the walls under the char marks. "It looks very old, in here. Old like the ruins on the mountain, but not in the same style."
"It’s probably Tevinter construction," Anders pointed out. "Kirkwall was originally a Tevinter city, and a lot of the old city appears to have been underground, although there are no records or maps of what’s down here."
"Either the slaves or the Chantry. They both went on book-burning binges, when the city was sacked," Cormac reminded him. "And that’s another reason it’s so important to find not just this book, but anything that’s down here. There’s history that probably only exists down here."
"Still feels like a dungeon," Anders complained, kicking a bone into the next room. It echoed, but nothing else responded.
"When it’s ours to do with as we choose, I’ll get you some of those fungus-lights from Orzammar. It’ll be less terrible, which is really the best you’re going to get, down here." Cormac tipped his head, to pop his neck, before crouching down in the doorway again. "Let’s not take chances, hm? Give it a little spin, this time, Artie!"
Anders looked like he wanted to argue, only to break off mid-syllable, shaking his head in defeat.
"Why do I have a feeling they do this a lot?" Merrill asked, turning to Bethany, brows tilted in concern.
Bethany sighed. "You have no idea."
They watched Artemis launch Cormac into the room, air rushing past them. Cormac spun and bounced around the room, shield glowing blue each time it hit a wall or a pillar. Bethany leaned in towards Merrill. "They knocked over a fruit stall doing that once. Well. Less knocked over and more tore apart. There were chunks of watermelon everywhere."
"Aaand then we left town the next day," Artemis said. "Dad was, er… not happy."
"Not happy, he says." Cormac slammed into another wall and spun out across some yet-untouched tiles. "I think it would be more accurate to sa—" He shrieked and threw a barrier as the spikes slammed down from the ceiling. The metal bent outward, but the sudden stop did Cormac no favours. "Okay! I’m fine! It’s fine! Just a little … I was expecting fire, not … that!" Blood dribbled down his face, soaking into his beard.
Anders took a step forward, looking like he meant to run to check on Cormac, but Bethany grabbed his arm and Cormac cast a barrier over the two of them.
"Don’t do it! Don’t get any closer! We’re not done!" After a few deep breaths, Cormac lowered his own barrier. "And now, the rest of that. Spikes. Who the shit puts spikes in a place like this?" He arranged himself for more impacts. "Let’s do this quickly. I might not have had to whiz, before, but I sure do after that… I promise not to pee on any demons."
Artie readied more force magic, though he looked a bit pale. "You all right?" he asked. "Do you want healing first?" He was leaning on the balls of his feet, ready to spring forward if Cormac needed him.
"No. No, it’s just a little blood. It’ll wait. I’m not stopping every time we hit something." Cormac shook his head. "I’ll fix it when we’re done."
"And then I’ll smack you both for being this insane," Anders muttered. "Watching this is taking years off my life." Bethany patted his arm.
Shaking his head, Artie gathered his magic again and sent Cormac flying, though with less speed than last time. "Next time, let’s just bring Anton," he called out to his spinning brother.
"Izzy," Bethany corrected.
"Varric?" Merrill suggested.
"Varric," Artie agreed with a nervous laugh as he watched Cormac. "He doesn’t try to grope me. As much."
Cormac set off two more less-terrifying magical traps, before he was returned to the centre of the room. "We don’t need no stinking rogues!" he announced, standing up and promptly falling on his ass. "I could do this all day!" Stretching out along the floor, he pressed his green-glowing hands to his face and waited for the room to stop spinning and the blood to stop dripping into the back of his throat.
"Clear?" Anders asked, shoving at the barrier around him with his foot.
"Clear!" The reply was muffled by Cormac’s hands, but he finally remembered to let go of the other barrier.
Anders’s magic crossed the room ahead of him, and by the time he got to Cormac, the puddle of mage was looking more like a mage and less like a puddle. "This is a terrible idea, and I don’t like it."
"It’s a fucking great idea, and you sound like my dad." Cormac laughed and stretched an arm up. "Help me up. We’ve got places to go, demons to displease."
"That’s not the first time a Hawke has compared me to your dad," Anders said, taking Cormac’s hand and hoisting him to his feet. "Should I be concerned?" His hands steadied Cormac’s shoulders.
"It is a fucking terrible idea," Artemis muttered as he trotted over. "That’s why we had it." Lips pursed, he reached at his belt for a scrap of cloth and, steadying Cormac’s face with one hand, dabbed at the blood. He scowled at the blood congealing in Cormac’s beard.
"I think that’s the best you’re going to get it, Artie," Bethany said, poking him in the ribs and pulling his arm away. "I’m sure Cormac will make more of a mess before we’re done."
"Great," Artie muttered, folding up the bloodied cloth into a neat square.
"It’ll be fine, Artie. We’ll mop the floor with whatever’s between us and the book, and then I will give the book to Anders and the two of you can pour water on me until I’m sufficiently clean. Just don’t rain on me, yet. I can’t move right in wet robes. It’s horrible." Cormac kissed his own thumb and pressed it between Artie’s eyebrows. "Hang onto that for me. I have to do this hallway."
"Uh, hello?" Anders held his hands out, expectantly, until Cormac pulled him down into a long, heated kiss, in front of the rest of the mages. Anders just stood there, dazed and gaping, as Cormac sauntered into the hall.
"Artie? Make sure we don’t have a problem if something bursts into flame, yeah?" Cormac made his way down the hall, sweeping a foot in front of him, before every step.
"You’d think that ‘something bursting into flames’ would already qualify as a problem," Artemis said, shaking his head at his brother. "But sure."
"Different kind of problem," Bethany said, reaching up to close Anders’s mouth for him. "But at least Cormac isn’t being used as a projectile for the moment."
"We haven’t found the book yet," Anders replied, finally finding his head. "There’s still time."
They waited at the end of the hall, breaths held, as Cormac scoured the hall. For a moment, it seemed like the hall was trap-free until Cormac got to the bend, foot sinking on a pressure-plate. The air around him began to swirl, and after a moment’s pause, he came running back up the hall, barely ahead of a cloud. "Back! Back, back, back! Raining now would be good! I don’t know what it is, but I got it on me!"
"Really?" Anders asked, calling up a small storm and feeding it into the hall to weigh down the gas. "You don’t have something for this?"
"Why do you think the dog isn’t allowed in my room?" Cormac snarled, mostly out of breath, as he cleared the doorway, now dripping wet. "More water."
Merrill raised a very small, very intense storm, just over Cormac’s head, thoroughly drenching him in a matter of seconds. "Better?"
"Thanks." Cormac wrung out his sleeves and stared down the hall. "Well, that just put a crimp in my day."
Artemis bit his tongue against the obvious joke, about the water putting ‘a crimp in his hair’ when it dried. He hoped that, maybe, Cormac would be distracted enough not to notice that his hair was wet, and Anders would finally get to… experience Cormac’s hair.
"I could slide you across the floor again," Artie suggested. "Use you as a mop. That would make my day."
"Can we please not bounce Cormac around again?" Anders sighed. "I’d rather not be healing his bruises for the rest of my day."
"Stuck here until that finishes settling," Cormac muttered, flicking his hand and freezing the water out of his robe a few times, sheets of ice crashing to the floor. Thankfully, the floor seemed to have been made in such a way that the water sank into the crevices between the stones fairly quickly.
"Books," Anders reminded him. "Books that are irreplaceable and might be on the floor. The floor that is probably now wet."
"Well, you only ran the water down to the bend, right? There’s a whole other hall, down there. It’s not right into a room." Cormac swept his hair out of his face and wrung it.
"It’s water, Cormac. It’s not just going to sit there and wait for us to walk through it."
"No, it’s not, but…" Merrill pointed at the floor.
Cormac froze his robe a few more times and then warmed it until it started to steam. "Shields," he said, to Bethany’s moderately concerned look. "Still, we should probably get in there and take a look. I’m still first, because let’s not be more stupid than we already are. It’s safe to follow me in as far as that bend, I think."
Artemis followed close behind Cormac, still watching his feet just in case, avoiding the cracks in the stone the water seeped into. The others trailed after, Anders close to the brothers just in case. Around the bend, they let Cormac trail ahead to sweep the floors again, and Merrill readied another storm spell just in case.
"Fire, spikes, gas…" Anders shook his head. "Whoever left those traps was taking nothing for granted."
Next to him, Merrill nodded, teeth worrying her lip. "Someone clearly doesn’t want anyone finding this book. Or… well, getting into the place the book is. There might be other things beside the book, other things this person didn’t want us to find."
"My money’s on the book," Anders replied. Because that’s how his luck was.
No traps went off by the time Cormac made it to the end of the hall, and the rest of the mages followed, heading for another darkened doorway. Anders flicked a wisp into the room, ahead of them, the faint glow illuminating the fact that the place had already been stripped down, except for what looked like a pedestal of some kind, on the far side.
"Shit," Anders sighed.
"Me again," Cormac muttered, stepping forward. This time was much less exciting. There was nothing to hit, and he was just a bit dizzy, by the time his brother stopped throwing him around. "I don’t like it," he said, standing up. "That’s too much effort for it to suddenly be clear. Something in here is trapped. It’s just not the floor."
"Well, you’re the obvious choice for groping the furniture until we find what we want, aren’t you?" Bethany smiled cheerily at Cormac. "Don’t worry. The worst you could do is summon a demon."
"I’d rather not." Cormac rubbed his face and looked at the ceiling for a moment.