[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 215
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Meredith♀, Orsino ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Politics, genuinely unpleasant sentiments
Notes: Anton speaks well, but Elthina still has to come out and break things up.
"We cannot live in terror!" Anton proclaimed, hoping this would go off better than his last attempt at politics, speaking of the Qunari. Honestly, he missed the Arishok, some days. "Evil is difficult to spot in a suspicious world — a world in which we refuse to trust our neighbours, our friends, our families! A world in which we fear those charged with protecting us! A world in which they fear us! It is only when we are good, kind, and righteous that the wrongs will shine clearly through. To behave otherwise is to punish an entire city, to punish ourselves, for the wrongs of those who have harmed us."
"Those are pretty words, Champion, but they are empty," Meredith said, voice cutting over the cheering crowd. The applause died down. "Kirkwall doesn’t need speeches. It needs action, and I see no one else here willing to do what is necessary. Temptation preys on every mage, no matter how noble their intentions. Dragons are an obvious threat while a blood mage is less obvious but just as deadly."
Orsino scoffed, shaking his head. "You push us into desperate acts, and then use that as justification to press even further!"
"More excuses," Meredith sneered.
"And what excuse do you have for trying to seize control of the city?" Orsino snapped. "But never mind. I’ve already heard all those excuses."
"I am merely trying to keep order until there us a ruler capable of succeeding where Dumar failed."
"And if not?" Orsino replied. His hands clenched into fists at his side. "Will the templars rule Kirkwall forever?"
"We will not stand idly by while the city burns around us!" Meredith declared.
"And, yet, that is exactly what you are supposed to do. The Order is not meant to engage in national politics at this level any more than the Circle or the Wardens. There are laws against it. As Knight-Commander Guylian said, ‘It is not our place to interfere in political affairs. We are here to safeguard the city against magic, not against itself.'" Cormac knew that line by heart, after reading the latest drafts of Anders’s Manifesto. The involvement of the templars outside the bounds set by Chantry law had become an enormous point. Honestly, Chantry law had always been a huge point of the Manifesto, but as the city changed, the subject migrated. It was no longer only about mages, but about how the drive for control had come to a point where it put all the city, magical or not, in danger of being regarded as maleficars and so treated by the Order. "This is not Orlais, where it is accepted fact that those in charge do not follow the law, so that they can play dangerous games for power."
"And what happened to Guylian?" Meredith asked. "He was my friend. My predecessor, in this city. What happened to him, for his attitude? He was hanged in the Gallows courtyard by Viscount Perrin Threnhold, because he would not stand up and protect the city or his own men!"
"The Templar Order exists to guard the Chantry and the Circle. I suggest you let the nobility rule the city." Orsino jabbed a finger at Meredith, irately. "It is not because Guylian refused to stand, that he fell. It is because he finally agreed to stand. You and I were both there. He stepped out of line, and was brought down, as was the viscount’s right — duty even! And for all that I am pleased the city is no longer beneath the thumb of the Threnholds, it has been under yours, ever since."
"I do not need you or anyone to tell me what my duty is, mage."
"Clearly, you do, if you cannot even follow the laws that govern your position," Fenris called out, feeling like something of a hypocrite. In the end, neither could he, but he hadn’t failed in his duty, when he could do it no longer. He had walked away, and found somewhere his talents were better appreciated. "What about the Champion? Let him step in. He certainly cannot do any worse."
Anton groaned, quietly. He should have just sneaked into the Gallows by the sewers again. Sure, it was smellier, but there was less of a chance of crashing a political rally and having your brother-in-law try to make you viscount.
"That is not happening," Meredith said with steel in her voice, and Anton was tempted to nod in agreement.
"And why not?" Orsino asked. "Because you will it?" He shook his head at the Hawkes. "She is incapable of reason."
Orsino was expecting something of Anton, expecting him to say something. He looked back and forth between them and offered them a wry smile. "Maybe you two should wrestle," he drawled. "That’s one way to solve this."
Orsino and Meredith looked equally unimpressed. Artemis and Fenris exchanged glances before looking at anything that wasn’t Meredith, Orsino, or ‘The Staff of Violation’.
"As delightful as mudwrestling might be to watch — and if you were to so engage, I’d have to insist on the mud — the fact of the matter is that the Knight-Commander has been repeatedly violating Chantry law and overstepping her position, something I encourage the First Enchanter to being to the attention of the Divine, since the Grand Cleric seems determined to avoid doing her job." Cormac wished he’d thought to bring his glaive. After this many years in Kirkwall, he couldn’t figure out what had possessed him to leave the house without it, this time, and of course, he’d walked into the middle of something that was half likely to end with him in the Gallows. "The First Enchanter is correct. The people of Kirkwall deserve to know how the children they’ve had stolen are treated inside the Circle."
"You are aware, Serah Hawke, that being the Champion’s brother will not protect you forever, are you not?" Meredith smiled coldly. "Your persistent freedom is at my whim, and when you have become more trouble than you are worth, you and your family will be dealt with as you should have been dealt with on the docks, when you first arrived — as the children of the fugitive maleficar Malcolm Hawke, likely all mages."
"I expect you’d know if Ser Carver were a mage," Anton drawled. "That or you really need some better checks before you let a man join the Order."
"Why do I need the Champion to defend me? I can defend myself." Cormac cocked his thumb at Anton. "But, my brother’s right. One of us is a templar. One of us is a templar, and another is married to a templar. Neither of these being particularly magey things to do."
"Either mages or traitors, either way. And what of the other three of you, hmm? An apostate’s children cannot be wholly unmagical. Were we not looking at your sister, some years past? What came of that investigation, I wonder?"
"My sister, whom your men already cleared of being a mage, who is dating a Chantry brother and writing books on the history of Nevarran architecture? Please. I think the Grand Cleric might have noticed and objected, by now." Cormac laughed. "Or my other brother, who married a mage-hating former Tevinter slave? Do you honestly think someone with such abject malice, where magic is concerned, would find it in himself to wed a mage?"
"Considering that he knows Enchanter Thekla’s name, I think his aversion to all things magical is not so strong as you make it out to be." Meredith stalked forward, like a lioness on the hunt. "And you? How do you excuse yourself?"
"I never excuse myself. There is no excuse for me." Cormac laughed, again. He’d made a mistake trying to sell Fenris as anti-magic, like he’d been for so many years. Of course it wouldn’t fly after the arguments Fenris had been making.
"My views on magic have nothing to do with the fact that slavery is a vile institution, regardless of who perpetuates it." Fenris leapt to defend himself. "And anyone who reads the Gazette knows Enchanter Thekla’s name."
Meredith made a disgusted noise. "The Gazette," she scoffed. "That vile rag? It is nothing but smut and slander."
"I don’t think that ‘vile rag’ is doing the slandering, here," Artemis replied. He fought not to fidget and to keep his hands steady. It was bad enough that she knew Cormac was a mage. If she found out about him or Bethany, she might lock up the entire family on principle. He thanked the Maker that Anders wasn’t here. There was no way Justice would have stayed quiet.
The crowd shuffled around them again, and the top of a grey-haired head caught Meredith’s attention as its owner weaved through the mob. "My, my, such a terrible commotion!" Elthina said as she came up beside the arguing parties. Her smile was indulgent, even condescending, as she addressed them.
"This mage incites rebellion, Your Grace," said Meredith, standing straighter as she gestured at Orsino. "I am dealing with the matter. Though certain parties are making that more difficult than is necessary." She cut a glare to Fenris and the trio of Hawkes.
"Ah, Orsino," Elthina sighed. "So frustrated. Do you think this is truly wise?"
"I…" Orsino deflated in front of their eyes, shoulders and head bowing. "No, Your Grace." Anton wondered where all the fight in him had gone.
"Of course not," Elthina said. She turned to the templars at Meredith’s side, and they straightened too. "Young men, would you show the first enchanter back to the Circle? Gently, if you please." The templars inclined their heads respectfully, a set of faceless, voiceless figures who positioned themselves to either side of Orsino.
"Your Grace!" Meredith said, the very picture of indignation. "He should be clapped in irons, made an example—!"
"That’s enough, Meredith," Elthina said as though scolding a child. "This demeans us all, surely you can see that? Go back to the Gallows and calm down, like a good girl."