[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 218
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Varric ♂, Natia Brosca ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, dragon-related whoopass
Notes: There’s trouble in the mines. This is not the day Cullen wanted to have.
Jansen was standing outside the mine — far outside the mine, with the other miners gathered around him — as Cormac and the others came over the rise. "Boss! Oh, thank the Maker. I was going to send somebody down to get you."
"Called it!" Cormac said, sticking his tongue out at Varric. "What is it, this time? Spiders? Zombies? Ancient dwarven nightmare spirits risen from the depths?"
"You know, I think it’s dragons, again. Your Orlesian doesn’t think so. Told us to get back to work, when we sent word down, but… I seen dragons, Boss. I know what dragons are like." Jansen had survived the first time the miners struck too deep and hit dragons.
"Nobody tell Anton," was the first sentence out of Cullen’s mouth. "If I blamed dragons, do you think the Knight-Commander would believe me?"
Jansen eyed the sword etched into Cullen’s armour. "Who’s your templar, Boss? I didn’t think they were your type."
Fenris tried to swallow a laugh, and made an appalling strangled sound.
"Cullen’s special," Bethany said, stepping to the front, batting people out of the way with the butt of her spear against their ankles. "In fact, he’s our brother-in-law, and a terrible sweetheart. We take very good care of our templar."
"I’m a grown man with a large sword," Cullen pointed out. "Generally speaking, I can take care of myself."
"Please don’t inspire me to ask Anton about your sword, Cullen. I don’t want to know, and you don’t want me to know," Varric joked, looking a little less than thrilled at the idea of dragons.
"Look, swords aside, dragons?" Natia actually said it. "And we’re just going to walk in there and expect to not get killed?"
"We’ve done it before," Cormac pointed out.
Natia eyed him, head tilted, before turning that same incredulous look to the others in their group. "You’re used to this sort of thing, aren’t you?"
"Natia." Varric wrapped an arm around her shoulders, an arm that she let stay there for all of two seconds before swatting it away. "I’ll tell you about our adventures in the Vimmark Mountains over drinks later. It’s a story that has it all: blood magic, Warden secrets, an Ancient Tevinter magister…"
"Sometimes I wonder if you’re making this stuff up," she sighed.
"Sometimes I think he is," Bethany replied. "But not that."
A noise echoed out of the caves, too distorted to make out, and the miners huddled farther away from the entrance.
Fenris pinched the bridge of his nose. "Cormac, do not hate me for making this suggestion, but perhaps we should just collapse the mine. How much more is going to happen in this mine? If there is a curse of some sort…"
Cullen looked less than thrilled with that explanation. "A curse," he muttered. "Great."
"If there’s a curse, all we have to do is find it and break it." Cormac grinned at Fenris. "Come on, we’re down two Tevinter magisters, already, and one of them was a thousand years old. I’m not sure ‘can’t’ is even a thing for us, any more."
"I, for one, am well aware of my own limitations," Cullen protested, "and I’d really rather not be roasted into dragon crunchies in my own armour, if we can avoid that."
"Silly templar!" Bethany chided. "That’s why we have Cormac along. He’ll protect you from the fire!"
"Anders would do a better job, but I can keep it down to ‘a little hot in here’ rather than ‘melting the flesh off your bones’." Cormac unshouldered his glaive and eyed the cave entrance. "I absolutely do not want to have this fight right here. There are too many people out here, and I can’t keep all of them safe. Most of them, but not all of them — and definitely not if anyone expects me to be doing anything else."
"So we go in after it," Fenris sighed. "Why can’t we collapse the mine?"
"Because then you would no longer be living in the lap of luxury, nor would I. And I’ve got fifty men here who would be out of work." Cormac’s eyes lit up and he shot a contemplative glance at Varric. "You thinking what I’m thinking?"
"If you’re thinking we should feed Hubert to the dragon, I might be." Varric laughed and checked Bianca’s bolts.
"I don’t know what Orlesian inheritance looks like, but I bet you this drops the price. I think we can make this out to be a lot worse than it is, and he’ll be just desperate to get rid of this hole in the ground." Cormac grinned. "Come on. It’s just a dragon. We can do dragons."
"Just a dragon, he says," Natia groaned. "You’re a Warden, aren’t you? Or one of those crazy dragon hunters from that place with all the dead cults?"
Cormac cocked his head at Bethany. "She’s the Nevarran in the family, and we didn’t bring along the Warden. No dragon hunters here. But, we have done this before. And now, we get to do it again. Might be worth figuring out what the dragons like so much and maybe setting up a little something down in the pit, instead, so they’re not coming up into the mine."
"A dragon sanctuary. If there were ever a question in my mind if you were related to Anton, it has been resolved," Cullen sighed.
"Come on!" Cormac urged, backing toward the cave entrance, with his glaive in one hand. "We’ll be home for supper!"
"I hate when he says that," Varric muttered to Fenris. To Cormac, he called out, "And you’re buying!"
"Of course I’m buying!" Cormac laughed. "I’m going to be rich!"
Natia and Cullen followed the group, both looking up and around when they stepped into the cave. Natia eyed the set-up, the tools that the miners had dropped in their panic, and she hummed under her breath. "Not seeing much damage up here, so that’s a good thing," she said. "Not that I’ve seen too much dragon-related destruction, but I imagine damage from clawed feet and fire breath would be easy enough to figure out."
Another sound echoed up from beneath them, a sound they felt in their bones and under their feet more than they heard it. It took Cullen a few seconds to recognise that as a dragon roar. "Sweet Maker," he breathed.
"Cormac, I don’t think these are dragonlings or drakes this time," Fenris said, one ear twitching. "And now I really think we should collapse the mines."
They made their way through the mine, deeper and deeper, finding nothing more exciting than the occasional lizard or nug. "What stands out to me is that we’re not finding drakes or dragonlings at all," Varric pointed out, looking around. "Last time, this place was full of not-quite-dragons. And then there was the big one. This time, I’m not seeing the little ones."
"I’m going to be extremely upset if this is an undead dragon. I’m going to be even more upset if this is the undead rising of the dragon you killed last time." Fenris glanced around, uncomfortably. Dragons. This was ridiculous. Artemis would not be pleased.
Another roar seemed much closer, but not close enough to bring heat or a breeze with it.
"Grab it for me, Cormac?" Bethany asked.
"Of course." Cormac glanced around at his companions, realising how few of them had been out on something quite this… large. "Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to shield all of us, first. The shields are pretty good, but they’re not impenetrable. Still, they’ll turn a blow from a greatsword into a punch in the face. They’ll help a lot, but don’t think they’ll keep you completely safe. They’re also not completely fireproof, so while you’re not going to burst into flames, you probably don’t want to stand in fire for too long, if you don’t have some amazing plan. You’ll be able to move pretty much like you always do."
"You can really do that?" Natia asked. "There’s six of us! I thought mages could only make little shields!"
"Cormac’s a natural," Varric said, patting Natia’s back. "He kept nine of us out of trouble, once, and one of us was a pillar of fire, at the time."
"That was horrible," Fenris observed. "Can we not do that again?"
"I’m going to second not doing that again." Cormac grinned and rolled his eyes. "I get the first shot, and if I get it, Bethany gets the second. Nobody hits this thing before I do. Andraste’s tits, I wish Anders was here. I really need him for this. I’m a little more constrained in some ways than he is. But, Bethany needs to get a grip on it. Once she does, this entire fight’s going to get a whole lot easier."
"What, exactly, does she do?" Natia squinted curiously up at Bethany.
Cullen and Fenris exchanged a look behind Bethany, who simply smiled. "Well, this is more than just decoration," she said, tapping her spear with a ringed finger.
Natia eyed the spear and the woman behind it, doubt clear in her eyes.
"Uh. Yeah. About that." Varric shrugged Bianca off his shoulder, checking the tautness of the bow as Natia turned her dubious look his way. "I think you’ll see what she means in a minute." The smile he gave her was almost apologetic, and Natia’s eyes narrowed.
They followed the sounds of roaring, weapons drawn and ready, and if Cullen’s palm was sweaty on the hilt of his sword, he hoped the others didn’t notice. Maker. Was this the sort of thing Anton faced all the time? Probably not, or they would have a pet dragon in the backyard instead of a goat.
They found sunlight before they found the dragon. "Did we get turned around?" Cullen asked. "Or does the mind have a back entrance?"
"Back entrance," Varric replied. "Where is the Blighted thing?"
Fire filled the exit as the ground shook with another roar, and Cullen and Fenris staggered back, the heat hitting them but not the flames.
"Found the dragon," Fenris said archly.
Cormac knew it was too big, that he couldn’t get a spell around all of the beast, so he settled for the head, squeezing one hand shut and slamming the butt of his glaive against the ground. "Bethy?"
Bethany was already casting when the dragon shook off Cormac’s spell and reared back. Cormac waved Cullen and Fenris through the opening, following close behind them.
"You’re a mage!" Cullen hissed, trying to push Cormac behind him, as Bethany’s first spell struck the dragon.
The dragon shook its head and roared, snapping at Cormac, who brought up a barrier, the dragon’s face slamming against it. He grinned at Cullen, also inside the bubble. "Yes. I’m a mage."