[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 211
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Brotherly face-punching, discussion of large-scale blood magic
Notes: Fenris adjusts to being a brother-in-law. Tries out punching Cormac, as is the way in this family, when something goes wrong.
Cormac returned home from one of the multitude of jewellers along the road that ran between the market and Lowtown, to find Bodhan waiting for him.
"Messere Fenris for you. I’ve put him in the library. Do be cautious, messere, he doesn’t look quite happy," Bodhan warned, twisting a kitchen rag in his hands.
"Oh, well, good. I meant to see him, today, but… He’s upset? That’s not right." Cormac’s face looked a little ashen as he considered what might have happened to his brother that would bring Fenris here, upset. "Thank you. I’ll see to it."
Cormac made his way to the library, the box from the jeweller still clutched in his hand. "Fenris! What are you doing here? Is Artie all right?"
Fenris’s fist slammed into his shield. "This is your fault," he said, pinning Cormac with a narrowed glare and folding his arms across his chest.
"Is it my brother? Is he all right?" Cormac still looked more concerned than anything. "And what, are you taking lessons from Carver, now? You actually can’t hit me, Fenris. You could swing all night, and all you’d get is a broken fist." It wasn’t true, and Cormac knew it, but he kind of hoped Fenris wouldn’t realise it. There were ways through the shields, but not unless Fenris started glowing.
"You and I both know I can hit you if I want to," Fenris growled, dashing that hope. "And if Artemis weren’t all right — which he is; relax — I would have. Possibly repeatedly." He scowled down at the rug. "I did something I shouldn’t have, something that could have ended badly, because I knew he wanted it. And he wanted it because you had to put the idea in his head." He punctuated this sentence with a second punch to Cormac’s shield.
"Me? What did I do?" Cormac looked confused, rifling his memories for anything he’d done that would’ve put ideas in Artie’s head. "It wasn’t that thing with the knife, was it? Or the screw-threaded… no, it couldn’t have been that. I’ve done an awful lot of shit that people shouldn’t do, and I’m never sure how much of it he knows about. I’m loud, there’s Anders, Artie’s a damned voyeur… Which of the hundreds of terrible ideas I’ve had did he decide to ask for?"
"The one where you…" Fenris swore under his breath in Tevene, trying to find the right words, preferably words that made sense and didn’t make his ears twitch. He gestured vaguely with his hands, threading the fingers together. "You know. The full-body glowing. You did it at that tavern in the Docks, and I was… displeased." His ears started twitching without his consent.
"So, it didn’t end badly, but it could have? And you’re here punching me in the face, because my already distressingly-perverse brother now has a lasting lust for something you’re afraid of killing him with, but you did it anyway, and he’s fine? I’m…" Cormac shrugged, still a little confused. "He’s fine. That’s the important part. Anders doesn’t approve, either, for the record. I’m going to have to get a lot better at maintaining my control, before I do something like that again, but I’m not ruling it out, if he’s that into it. He wants it, I’ll learn to do it safely. But, if he wants it from you, that’s a decision you’re going to have to make. Which it sounds like you did, because you’re here punching me in the face over it."
He paused and watched Fenris’s face, for a moment, before flipping the jewellery box into the air, knowing Fenris would catch it. "And I got you a wedding present. Meant to give it to you yesterday, but I had to get the eye replaced."
Fenris examined the box, still looking as pleased as a wet cat. He still didn’t like that he’d given in to that foolish idea and liked it less that Cormac was thinking of doing it again too. But then, for that moment, when he and Artie had melded into one person…
Fenris shook himself and opened the box, peering curiously at the amulet he found inside. "What is this?" he asked, pulling the jewellery out by the chain and holding it in the light.
"I think it’s pretty obvious what it is." Cormac shrugged and watched Fenris’s reactions. "But, it’s not just any amulet of Dumat. That’s the one Anton pried out of the smoking remains of a certain ancient magister. The dragon’s eye, though… that was Danarius. A thousand years and more of dead magisters. Wear it with pride, and keep my brother out of the crossfire."
Fenris turned the amulet over in his hand, speechless. He knew he’d recognised the amulet but hadn’t thought it could possibly be the same one… The eye gleamed back at him in the morning light. "This is…" He shook his head. "Thank you. I almost feel bad for punching you. Almost."
"Feel bad about it, the day you actually hit me," Cormac drawled. "Speaking of Ancient Tevinter things, can I get you to take a look at something for me, while we’re standing next to my desk?" He gestured at an enormous map of Kirkwall, drawn in many colours, with the streets most obviously sketched out in black. Blue lines looked almost like runes of some sort, purple lines seemed to be passages in Darktown, with green showing some other, similar, paths that occasionally intersected. But, what stood out were the yellow lines that seemed to show starbursts, amid the brown sewer lines. "Does any of this look familiar to you? Besides the part where it’s obviously a map of Kirkwall. There’s something going on here, and I can’t find it. Like, why would these weird sewer runoffs all come together under the Gallows? Is this something to further make the slaves miserable, with the stench of raw sewage rising up from beneath the stone, or is there some weird traditional Tevinter design element that I’m missing out on, here?"
Fenris traced the yellow lines with the tip of one finger, wishing, for a moment, that he didn’t recognise the designs. "They’re drains," he said. He considered the size of those drains, their scope, and looked away, feeling sick. "Like you said, it’s Ancient Tevinter. Some things have not changed, like the magisters’ reliance on blood magic." His lip curled. "So yes, those sewer runoffs were likely made with the slaves in mind, but not in the way you’re thinking."
"Blood magic?" Cormac blinked, squinting at the yellow swirls. "How much blood would it take to need a channel that wide? That really looks a little excessive. Are you sure?" He dug through the papers on his desk, pushing aside half-finished articles until he found a table of measurements. Leaning over the desk, he held it beside the Gallows, on the map. "There’s hardly five quarts of blood in a man, four in an elf… How many sacrifices would it take to require channels that size? That’s ridiculous! Had to have been for show. A statement of some kind… There’s just no way…"
"Clearly you’ve never been to Minrathous," Fenris replied. He found himself clutching the amulet in his fist. "Remember that this was the heart of the Tevinter slave trade once. More slaves passed through here than anywhere else." And he wondered what that said about him, that he fled from Tevinter only to end up here. "If the magisters were going to make a ‘statement’, it wouldn’t have been with the sewers." But Cormac did have a point: the scale was dizzying. "They must have been planning something huge."
Cormac looked a little ill. "I need to ask Anders about some things, but I have some frightening ideas about that. Do you remember the stelai up by that fortress? Dwarven blood magic? I have to wonder if they were trying to bind a god here."