[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 239
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Demons, blood magic, Tuesday in Kirkwall
Notes: Anton gets some help with his latest problem from the one mage he’s fairly sure can actually provide it. Justice attempts to object, but is brought around.
It was a slow day in the clinic, for which Anders was grateful. Slow days meant he could eat his lunch sitting down. And slow days meant spotting someone when they first walked in the door, even if that someone was a Hawke with soft-soled shoes.
"Hello, Anton," he said. He didn’t quite manage to keep the surprise off his face, even if he’d been expecting a different Hawke. "What brings you here? You’re not bleeding that I can see, which is always good. You didn’t catch anything, did you? Was it Izzy? Dammit, Izzy."
Anton cringed as he laughed. "Surprisingly, I am not here for my own health. Not directly, anyway."
"Ominous," Anders said, arcing an eyebrow. He took another bite of his apple and gestured for Anton to continue.
Anton strolled through the clinic, looking about surreptitiously to make sure they were alone. "I assume you know about what happened at the Gallows? Mages escaping, templars helping, fire and mayhem everywhere?"
"Perhaps a little bit less fire and mayhem than described in templar circles, but I may have heard something of the sort. Misplaced phylacteries, as I understand it? One really must keep better track of those. The potential for blood magic is astonishing," Anders drawled, as if he didn’t know that blood magic was exactly what phylacteries were.
"I’m not here about the blood magic. No, I am here about the blood magic. Kind of. Mostly." This was a dangerous subject to breach with Anders, and Anton knew it. "The Knight-Commander has threatened to, I quote, ‘do away with’ Cormac, if I don’t bring back the last three of those mages, who are, of course, accused of blood magic."
Anders looked up, and his eyes were no longer their usual soft gold. Streaks of blue darted across his face. "THE TIME FOR PLAYING BY THE RULES IS OVER. THE RULES ARE UNJUST."
"Shit," Anton sighed. He hadn’t even considered that Justice might become an issue. He hadn’t really spent much time with Justice, outside of the Deep Roads, which was, all in all, a terrifying experience, both times. "When have you ever known me to play by the rules? The stakes are hers. The game is mine. My game, my rules. Not her rules."
The blue didn’t leave Anders’s eyes, but he looked less likely to dart out of his seat and march straight for the Gallows. "AND WHAT RULES ARE THOSE?" Justice asked, eyes narrowing.
"They involve not condemning innocent mages to the Gallows," Anton said, hands out in a placating gesture. Those hands turned outwards, palm up. "You don’t honestly think I’d do that, do you?"
"Define ‘innocent’." The blue streaks remained, but the voice was Anders’s. "Not that I don’t trust you, Anton. But I’m sure there’s a reason you came to me with this news."
This was delicate. Anton was on Anders’s side, and he hoped Justice remembered that. "Meredith wants three mages, and I have no choice but to bring her three mages." He held up his hand when Anders’s eyes flared blue again. "Or what she thinks are those three mages. But I need to find them first to make sure they don’t screw it up."
"And… you think I know where they are," Anders said. Slowly, the blue faded.
"It would make my job easier, yes. And I would really like to get this done so I can go back to my lunch."
"Your lunch." Anders squinted at Anton. "Meredith interrupted your lunch." After a moment, recognition flashed across his face. "Please don’t tell me how much templar you had in your mouth, when she found you, or I swear I’ll start talking about Cormac."
"I was not doing any such thing!" Anton protested. "I was just considering it. Strongly."
"I still don’t know where they are," Anders said, with a shrug. "An inside job, and I had nothing to do with it — and more than that, if I had, I still wouldn’t know. Anyone with any sense would have left town."
"Not to be rude, but when was the last time you met a circle mage with sense?" Anton asked.
Anders pointed at himself. "Hey, I got out, didn’t I?" He didn’t mention the part where it took him seven tries, or that the first five, he hadn’t covered enough ground to be other than obvious.
Anton gave him a wry look. "And eventually ended up here, in my basement, surrounded by Hawkes. If you’re the definition of a ‘sensible’ mage, then you are proving my point." Anton tilted his head back and sighed at the rafters. "But I suppose that makes my job a little more difficult." Lunch was starting to look like a distant memory. "Thanks for your help anyway, Anders… Justice…"
Anton turned to go, but the scrape of Anders’s chair against the floor made him pause. He turned back to see Anders gathering up his staff and potions, half-eaten apple in his mouth. At Anton’s questioning look, Anders pulled the apple out of his mouth long enough to say, "Oh, I’m coming with you. Mages. The Gallows. Justice isn’t going to shut up unless I do."
"Said the sensible mage," Anton teased, gesturing Anders through the door in front of him.
"Did you say you were looking for Evelina?" Anders asked, as they headed for the stairs. "I know where she used to live, before the Circle took her back. She was trying to get the Chantry to help the orphans, down here; that’s why she turned herself in, in the first place. Hoping to buy help from the inside." He shook his head. "Didn’t help, of course. Never does. Not enough money, they said. Needed to spend it on lyrium for the templars."
"Andraste’s ass, really? They wouldn’t— well, no, I expect you’re right. There’s not any abundance of young Chantry brothers, up top, and things look about like they’ve ever been, here." Anton glanced around. "So, where are we going?"
"Over there." Anders pointed to a teenage boy playing with a younger boy in a wide spot in the tunnels. "Hey, have either of you seen Evelina? There’s trouble, and I need to check on her. Templars are coming."
"Again? Templars already came, Anders," the boy shouted back.
"Yeah, again. They’re still looking. I really need to make sure she’s all right, so if you see her…" Anders shrugged, still heading in that direction. "These are her kids," he told Anton. "She takes care of as many as she can, but it’s hard. Harder, since she’s been locked up, but… I guess they take care of each other, now."
"We just want to help her," Anton told the kids, exaggerating his Fereldan accent just enough to make it obvious where he was from. "If you know Anders, you know that."
The older urchin shook his head, the image of weariness as his shoulders sagged. "No one can help her," he said. His friend, who was a foot shorter and easily half his size, stood just behind him, peeking around his shoulder.
"The templars made Evelina angry," said the younger boy, finally ducking out from behind his friend. He looked at Anders, eyes pleading for him to understand. "They made her change…"
Anton and Anders exchanged a quick glance. That didn’t sound good. "Change?" Anders asked gently. "What do you mean?"
"It wasn’t her fault!" the younger boy rushed to say. "When it was over, she was ashamed. She ran into the tunnels and hid."
"Shut up, Cricket!" the older boy hissed, grabbing his shoulder. "Don’t tell them that!"
Anders wished he could pretend he didn’t know what that meant.
Anton’s expression was carefully neutral as he said, "So she’s in the sewer tunnels."
"You can’t go there!" the older boy pleaded. "She’ll know we told you, and she’ll be angry at us!"
"Angry? I didn’t like when she got angry. We have to hide!" The younger boy, Cricket, looked terrified. He took a sharp breath and took off running.
"Cricket!" the older one shouted after him, but Anders caught his arm before he could follow.
"She’s sick," Anders said, because it was easier than telling the boy about the demon he anticipated. "I’ll try to help her, but… Something like this, I don’t know if I can save her, and I’m sorry. You know my door’s always open if you need something."
Uncertainty flickered across the boy’s face. "Do what you can. We’ve made it this far," he said, before running after the younger boy.
"I don’t like this," Anders said, quietly, to Anton. "I knew her, back in Ferelden. She was sweet and kind and—" He waved after the kids. "You heard them. Now, she’s got a demon."
"Anders, don’t take this the wrong way, but are you sure it’s a demon?" Anton asked. "Have you seen yourself when you get angry? You swear Justice isn’t a demon, and I believe you, because I don’t think Cormac would tolerate you if he was, so, I’m just saying… are we sure it’s really a demon, and not just terrifying?"
"Not going to know, until I talk to her. I have to see her. Justice has to see her." Anders studied the tunnels around them. "Probably that one," he decided, pointing in a direction nearly opposite to where the kids had gone. "Either way, we’ll be on the right level. I just don’t want to spend more time slogging through piss, shit, and corpses than necessary."
There was still more slogging involved than either of them would’ve liked. After a bit of wandering and a few false starts, Anders stilled, body going rigid and skin flickering blue for the barest moment.
"Problem?" Anton asked, testing his grip on his daggers.
"Demon," Anders said. Justice itched just under his skin, eager to take the reins and sniff it out.
"Well, this is Kirkwall," Anton pointed out. "Might still not be her." He didn’t sound particularly hopeful. Anders didn’t believe him, but he nodded anyway.