[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 240
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Demons, blood magic, Tuesday in Kirkwall, canon-typical violence
Notes: Things do not go as well as either Anton or Anders hoped. Another Tuesday in Kirkwall.
They followed where Justice wanted to go until they turned a corner and found their way blocked by a pair of familiar figures.
"What are you doing here?" Anders asked, and both boys jumped as they turned around.
"I… I thought if we warned her about you," the older boy stuttered, eyes wide and darting, "she wouldn’t be angry. But then she —"
"Walter…" a woman’s voice singsonged, the name echoing through the tunnel in a way that made the hairs on the back of Anton’s neck stand on end.
"She’s coming!" the older boy — Walter — said to Cricket. "Run!"
They turned and ran — right into her. On the surface, at least, Evelina still appeared to be human, but the way Walter and Cricket shrank back from her was something Anders had never seen.
"There you are. Don’t run from me, Walter. You know those are the rules." Evelina’s voice made Anders’s skin crawl in ways he’d hoped never to feel again.
"Funny… in my house, we always felt running away from violent madwomen was a good thing," Anton threw in. "Especially when they were my sister."
Evelina’s eyes lit on Anton. "These are my children. You and your kind abandoned them. You’re Fereldan, like us, but you feast on sweetmeats, while your people starve in the undercity."
Anton blinked at her and then blinked at Anders. "Does she— I don’t think you do. Do you know who I am, lady? I’m Lord Dog."
"You’re the one who sends the dwarves down to fix things!" Cricket crowed, face lighting up.
"I rob the Orlesians to feed my people. If I’m not doing what you think needs to be done, then you need to tell Anders. If there’s not enough food coming down, that’s my brother’s problem, but you need to tell Anders." Anton pointed at Anders. "He tells us what you need, but he can only do it if you tell him."
Anders waved, a faint blue glow flickering across his skin. "Circle not work out the way you planned?" he asked, trying to pretend he couldn’t feel the demon trying to crawl out of her.
"Where were you, when I needed you?" Evelina demanded, turning on Anders.
"Right where I always am. I’m not that hard to find." Anders’s voice echoed in strange ways, as Justice surged forward. "If I’d gotten word, I’d have been there. If anyone had bothered to tell me this was going on, do you really think I’d have let so many get taken back in?"
"What do I think? I think the templars say jump, and here you are." It wasn’t Evelina’s voice, any longer. Her body bloated and twisted, turned inside-out until the creature in front of them no longer looked human. The children shrank back in horror. "Kirkwall should be mine!" said the abomination, its voice deep and resonating in way that set Anders’s teeth on edge. "Then my children will have a whole city to play in."
As the creature was speaking, Anton waved the children aside with the point of his dagger, sidestepping to stand between them and the abomination. Anders’s eyes crackled an electric blue as he gathered magic through his staff. Later. He would mourn Evelina later.
Right now, he would focus on dodging her — it — as it lunged for him, claws curled towards his face. He half expected those claws to bounce off a shield, but Cormac wasn’t here. He reached for a glyph, but Anton was too close. Flicking his hand, instead, he brought up a plate of stone, and the thing’s claws grated and squealed against it. At least he still had his reflexes.
"My face? Really? Is my beauty so offensive to you? Is that what that was about, back in the tower?" Anders raved, lighting up the floor, as Anton leapt back. "Andraste’s knickers, pour my guts on the floor, but leave my face out of it!"
"You were a trap!" the demon roared, tearing itself off the glyph, as Anton lunged again. "You gave yourself to them. How many of us did you trade them, to buy your way into their graces?"
"Their graces?" Anders boggled as he lashed out, trying to stun the thing. "I gave myself so they wouldn’t take anyone else — you, or Solona, or Jowan, or even Godwin, that shithead — turned out he had his own thing going with them." Or Karl. Or Fen’Din. But, even now, he wouldn’t mention those names. He’d failed them both. He just hoped Fen’Din was still there, still alive. He’d get back there, one day, but Kirkwall, first. He needed one success, before he could show his face again, but maybe Solona could check, for him. Maybe Solona could conscript—
The claws slammed against Anders’s staff, as Justice pulled them back, then surged forward, irrepressibly. "WHAT YOU DO IS NOT RIGHTEOUS. IT IS NOT JUST. REMEMBER YOURSELF AND DO AS IS IN YOUR NATURE," Justice scolded, ramming a fist into what remained of the abomination’s face.
Bone snapped and crumpled under Justice’s fist. The air shifted, rushed inwards towards the abomination in a way that reminded Anton of Artie’s magic, and he darted back out of range. "Anders!"
The air rushed back in a fire-red burst, knocking Anders skidding back along the floor. Rough stone tore at his jacket, at his hands as he tried to catch himself.
"What in the Maker’s name?" Anton muttered, squinting at the abomination and the fiery halo of light surrounding it as it twisted again, throwing distorted shadows across the wall. The figure regained a woman’s shape, and for a moment, Anton wondered if it had turned back into Evelina. The twisted horns and flickering tail would say otherwise. "Hey, who said you could do that?" he said, pointing a dagger at the demon.
Justice couldn’t figure out what Anton was talking about. This was battle. Of course the demon had struck out, even if he hadn’t quite been expecting that. He could hear the whispering starting in the corners, the low thrum of lesser demons taking an interest in what was happening, here. A hail of ice and stuns flew out from his hands as Anders seized control of their body again, hammering at the demon before them. Justice found it far more sad than anything. This thing might once have been a friend — either the woman or her occupant, or even both. But, now, they had to go. She had to die, and it would … actually Justice had no idea if the demon would also die. He’d given it a great deal of thought, since passing through the veil, but generally found himself unwilling to experiment, since the only way to get an accurate answer would be to sacrifice Anders and see what happened to himself. But, they’d already been through that, once, and neither of them had died, which was very unlike what seemed to happen with demons.
As Justice speculated in the back of his mind — quite loudly, in fact — Anders just kept slapping the demon with spell after spell, keeping it from ever quite focusing on Anton, who darted in and out of the shadows with his blades. As the shades closed in around them, mostly keeping to the same shadows as Anton, Anders realised he could hear them, like Justice did. Desire, greed, envy — they all wanted things they couldn’t have. They’d all come to watch this one who’d taken a host go down, and then they’d see who would be lucky, next. Unfortunately for them, it would be none of them.
The demon fought ice with ice, and this was not something Anders wanted to deal with at all. If it was throwing ice back at him, the only correct reply was— Justice answered for him, the blue glow reasserting itself as the air around the demon suddenly burst into flame.
Anton swore, colourfully and loudly. "A little warning, Anders?" he said, eyeing Anders — Justice — to make sure that fire was theirs. The last thing he needed was a demon that could summon its own fire moat.
The shriek the demon made was inhuman. More light pulsed as it tried to shift, limbs folding and twisting, but the fire was relentless, clinging to its shifting shape as it crumpled to the ground.
Shades crowded Anton in the shadows. He kept an eye on Evelina’s burning remains to make sure none of it came back up even as he darted under the reach of the nearest shade, dagger cutting through its smoky lower half. "Justice, we have more friends!" he called out cheerfully.
"THEY ARE NOT FRIENDS," Justice said, even though he knew, by now, that Anton didn’t mean that literally. The blue glow intensified, lighting half the room, easily, and the shades’ attention shifted to Justice. They drifted toward him, burbling and hissing with temptations Anton couldn’t hear.
Anton took advantage of the distraction, slicing into as many of what appeared to be the important parts of the shades as he could reach. The numbers thinned, and those that remained still focused on Justice, who shone like a beacon.
The shades clawed at Justice, but plates of stone rose and fell against their pawing. They seemed fascinated, almost hypnotised, as Anton continued to work is way through the last of them. Not one turned on him, before it fell.
"New spell?" Anton asked, as the last one vanished in a puff of black smoke.
Justice shook his head. "I AM CLEAN. THEY ARE DRAWN TO THE SOUND."
Anton just stared blankly for a long moment. "The… sound. Of your cleanliness. Creepy fade shit. Right. Like creepy magic shit, but less casting. Got it." Anton nodded slowly, deciding it was in his best interest to avoid asking. He could play games where the rules changed in every round, but magical theory just gave him a headache.
But Justice was more focused on Evelina’s charred and twisted remains than on Anton. "Do you see this?" Fissures of blue still opened up his skin, but the shaking voice was Anders’s. "Do you see what the Circle does? Templars condemn mages for turning to demons, but they’re the ones who push us to that edge!" A year in the dank and dark, nothing but his tormentors — human or demon — for company. How many times had he been pushed to that edge, only to claw his way back? How many times had Evelina been pushed, and why, oh why, hadn’t she just come to him?
Anton rubbed his forehead. "You’re preaching to the choir." ‘Lunch’ was regrettably far from his mind now. Meredith would just see this as proving her point. He could hear her now: "If even ‘good’ mages can fall to demons, then what recourse do we have?" What she didn’t understand was that it usually had less to do with having a good or a bad heart and more to do with having something to lose. Or gain.
"Come on, Glowy," Anton sighed. "How about we head up out of this muck? I’ll dust off the good brandy, while you drown your sorrows in kittens."
He really hoped the other two didn’t go like this.
Slowly, the glowing faded, skin closing over striations of blue. Anders nodded. "Brandy and kittens. I could go for some brandy and kittens." And possibly Cormac, but he’d spare Anton that image. Cormac didn’t need to end up in another chastity belt. "But let’s find those kids, first. I want to make sure they’re all right."