[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 220
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Varric ♂, Natia Brosca ♀
Rating: M (L2 N0 S0 V3 D0)
Warnings: Adventures in dragon-butchering, consensual broken ribs
Notes: Magical theory and the art of disassembling a dragon.
Bethany watched her brother sip at his potion, making sure the injury was healing before turning her attention elsewhere, considering the size of the dragon and the entrance into the mines. "So do you think killing a dragon just outside the mines would be enough for Hubert to rethink his… investments, or will he need more convincing?"
"If this doesn’t sell him, I’m sure we can think of something." Cormac grinned up at his sister. "What did you show that dragon?"
"A drake. They only get this big if they’re female." Bethany shrugged. "I flashed her some handsome guy."
Cackling, Cormac held his hands up. "Someday, you’re going to do that to me, and Anders is going to laugh. Get me off the floor. I’m laying on my robe funny."
Bethany snorted and Varric reached down to pull Cormac up. "One of these days, Shouty, you’re gonna get yourself killed."
"Probably." Cormac grinned and patted Varric’s shoulder, before his eyes drifted to Natia. "Welcome to Kirkwall."
"No, no. I live in Kirkwall. This is not Kirkwall." Natia looked around, a lopsided grin creeping across her face. "So, that was exciting!"
Fenris groaned and covered his face with his hands for a moment. "We have a dead dragon. It’s very large," he pointed out, peering over his fingertips. "We also have extremely unpleasant Tevinter magic. We need to do something before those two things meet."
"You’ve got a sword," Cormac pointed out. "Can we cut it up and cook some and send the rest down the mountain? I’m sure nobody in Lowtown’s going to turn their nose up at free meat."
"Ooh, like in the stories!" Bethany said, her grin broad.
"Cook some?" Natia said, nose scrunching. "Ancestors, if this is another one of your bizarre surfacer recipes…"
"Oh, I’m sure with the right spices, it’ll be delicious," Varric reassured her. "I’ve heard it tastes like nug, only… smokier."
"Meat is meat," said Fenris, shrugging one spiky shoulder. "It should not go to waste." He was going to need to sharpen his sword after this. Likely after Artemis tried to clean it.
While Fenris set to work, Varric and Natia went to tell the miners that they were safe. They reappeared later with Jansen and a few other curious faces.
"Maker," breathed Jansen. "That’s a dragon."
"Is it really," Natia drawled.
"Well, serah, I mean… I knew it was a dragon. We’d had dragons here before, but. Not like this. That’s not just a dragon, that’s a dragon. She could have eaten all the other dragons."
"Has anyone got something sharp?" Cormac called out to the miners, studying the gaping hole in the sleeve of his robe. "If we’re all going to eat some of this thing, it would be terribly rude to leave Fenris to chop it up on his own, but it looks like we’ve lost a sword already today." He remembered his glaive and found it after a moment, hefting it and taking a few swings — his arm was still sore. He’d have to get Anders to have a look, when he got home.
"The scales need to be removed," Fenris pointed out. "There is a reason some armour is made of dragon scales."
"Oh!" Jansen nodded. "That we can do. It’s a mine. We’ve got — I’m sure we can handle dragon scales." He looked back at the miners, nodding, and they nodded back, some looking a bit nervous at the idea of getting so close to a dragon, even if it was dead.
As a dozen miners clambered over the corpse with tools, stripping away the scales, Cullen watched Cormac, thoughtfully. Blood magic. But, most blood mages carried knives, used knives. They didn’t throw themselves against dragons’ teeth and nearly lose an arm. And speaking of blood, he realised at last that he was sitting in a pool of it, on the back of the dragon’s head, and it had begun to seep into his armour. It had definitely soaked into his crotch. He’d liked these trousers… With a sigh, he lowered himself from the dragon, eyes still on Cormac.
"Cullen, come over here," Cormac sighed. "I can see that look. How’s your grip on magical theory?"
"Good enough to do my job," Cullen muttered, wishing his sword wasn’t broken.
"So, you know that the power of magic is a renewable resource, in a living body, right? If you use too much too fast…" Cormac held out his hands, waiting for an answer.
"You knock yourself unconscious or die." Cullen nodded. "That’s fairly basic."
"And when you relieve someone of their magic, they have to wait for it to refresh, before they can cast any more spells. Now, I haven’t tested this theory, but I think I can prove I’m not a blood mage, and I really hope this works like I think it’s going to." Cormac laughed and rubbed his face. "Your talents screw up the body’s ability to retain the power to cast spells, for a few minutes, but not the ability to create that power. So, everything kind of fizzles away for a while. Because of the kind of magic I study, I produce that power a little faster than mages of other schools, but if you use your scary templar powers, I’m going to be just as useless as anyone else, until that clears out."
Cullen squinted curiously at Cormac, wondering exactly where he was going with this. "That sounds right, yes. That’s what we’re told."
"I’m going to assume that’s correct. I’ve had it done to me a couple of times — Lothering, and all — and that feels right. So, I want you to do that to me, and then I want you to punch me in the chest." Cormac smiled and shook his head. "I really hope I’m right, or this is going to be horrible."
"What… exactly… is this supposed to accomplish?" Cullen was beyond baffled.
"If you punch me in the chest, I’m not going to be bleeding from it. Gauntlets on. Really just haul off and break a rib or something. I have potions, it’ll be fine." Cormac laughed uncertainly and patted his bag. "But, you have to clear me out, first, or you’ll never be sure. How long does it usually take someone to recover?"
"Half a minute? Usually long enough." Cullen shrugged. "You really want me to do this to you?"
"I do. And I want you to hit me hard enough and fast enough that there’s no question you got me before I could possibly use my own magic." Cormac laid the glaive at his feet, so no one would imagine he was bringing a weapon to a fistfight. "And if this works like I think it should, whatever spell I’m concentrating on when you hit me should cast itself. There’s overflow, with this kind of magic — it’s not even magic. It’s training the body to use magic differently. It’s restoring power with pain. And if the power can’t be contained, usually it just passes. Kind of a tingle as it burns off. But, if it encounters something that needs power, on the way out, it’ll make it work. That storm thing I did to that dragon? I shouldn’t have been able to do that. Sustain it? Sure, but not cast it. Not after how fast I’d been laying down fire and ice. Sacrificed a piece of my arm to get enough power to start it up. Still not blood magic. Didn’t and don’t need the blood, and you’re going to prove it." He cracked his knuckles and glanced at the miners working on the dragon. "Hit me."
Cullen made a fist and bent his knees but shook his head, still looking uncertain. His off-hand twisted in the air, and the Smite washed over Cormac, deadening the air, the colours all around. Cullen paused, making sure the Smite took effect, then wound up for a punch.
"If you don’t hurry up and punch him, I will," Fenris offered, still sawing off bits of dragon flesh.
"Right." Cullen followed through, trying not to pull his punch at the last moment, and a gauntleted fist thudded into Cormac’s ribs.
Cormac folded forward over the fist, choking on his own breath as his hands lit up in twin balls of fire, held out from his sides, not to burn himself or Cullen. The fire burned for a few seconds and then sputtered out, as Cormac sank to his knees, trying to remember how to breathe. "Remind me not to piss you off," he wheezed, grinning up at Cullen. "See? No blood." Cormac fished out a potion and drank it, just in case that was worse than he thought it was, and it was already pretty bad. "I like you. You should know that’s possible. Save your life, one day."
Cullen bent over him, his touch light on Cormac’s shoulder. "Are you all right?" he asked. He looked Cormac over, seeing no blood, no fresh blood, and something eased in him at the sight. He would have to look into this, certainly, but now he was less worried about needing to drag Cormac off to the Gallows. "That was… Maker, I’ve never seen anything quite like that."
Which made sense, he supposed. That wasn’t the sort of thing the Order would want mages learning.
"I think you’ve earned the dragon’s heart for that, Cullen," Bethany said from where she perched on the dragon’s knee. "Well, and for killing the beastie, but mostly for punching my idiot brother."
"Careful, Bethany," Varric tutted, "you almost sound like Carver."
"That was you, Knight-Captain?" Jansen asked. He paused to wipe his brow, wide eyes taking in the blood-soaked templar.
"Well, I… I didn’t want to punch Cormac — oh, you meant the dragon." Cullen laughed weakly, self-consciously. "Yes, well. That was a team effort."