[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 268
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Carver Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, angst
Notes: Carver makes a very bloody point. Then it’s time to break the news to Anders.
The next hideout was on Maker-damned Sundermount, and Carver prayed it didn’t involve the Dalish. The last thing he needed was Mettin drawing his sword on a clan of elves — his girlfriend’s clan, for all that they had kicked her out.
They paused to question the elven guards at the edge of their camp, but they were even more ornery than Carver remembered. Apparently, without his brothers or Merrill, he was just another shem.
"They wouldn’t help the blood mages," Carver insisted. "At least not the human ones."
That was good enough for Agatha, who led them farther up the mountain instead. She pointed out the faint path, the traces of recent footsteps, and after a few false starts and wrong turns, found the trapdoor hidden in the underbrush. She backed away and gestured for Carver to open the door.
"Good, we’re here," Mettin said, following Carver into the underground room. The entry seemed empty, except for the three of them and the templars Mettin had insisted on bringing to ensure no one escaped the judgement of the order.
"There are many innocents in there, Ser Mettin," Agatha pointed out.
"Innocents?" Mettin scoffed. "Hardly. Let us strike now and put down these blood mages."
"There’s a good chance not all of them are—" Carver was cut off by fire, straight to the chest. He danced back out of the blaze, grateful he hadn’t been more than singed.
"They’re here!" the mage shouted. "They’ve found us!" A few more mages rushed out, fingers flickering with lightning and fire, but they were mages, first, and once they’d been stripped of magic, there was little they could do against a dozen plate-clad warriors.
"We can take them peacefully," Carver shouted. "We can bring them back alive!"
But, Mettin and his men paid no mind, slicing through the defenceless mages — those who fought and those who tried to surrender. He pushed into the next room, chasing anything that still tried to fight.
As the magic stopped, Agatha called out, "Mettin, they’ve surrendered!"
Mettin didn’t slow. He barely even glanced back. "Our duty is clear," he said. "They all must die."
Agatha caught him by the elbow, turning Mettin to face her. "The mages, perhaps," she said, and Carver had to wonder if he was the only templar with any sense. "But you can’t kill the others just for helping their family and friends!"
"Watch me," Mettin snarled.
Carver’s blood ran cold. This could have been him. This could have been his family, huddling in caves and fighting for their lives. Maker knew they’d spent enough time on the run. "No," said Carver, stepping in front of Mettin and his blood-spattered sword. "Our duty is to deal with mages, not simple citizens." That, at least, he thought he could talk Mettin into.
Agatha straightened, bolstered by Carver’s support. "We won’t let you do this," she said, and there was an authority in her voice that hadn’t been there before.
Mettin looked back and forth between them, face twisting in a snarl. Carver kept his hand on his sword. "At last you show your true colours," Mettin sneered, waving his sword between Carver and Agatha. "Both of you, traitors to the order!" Stepping back, Mettin gestured for his men. "Kill them. Kill them all!"
Carver moved, drawing his sword, and Mettin braced himself for a duel, completely missing where the arc would stop if Carver didn’t intend to land in the starting stance they were taught. Mettin’s head cleaved off, raggedly, bouncing off his shoulder and elbow before it hit the floor and rolled.
"We can stop this!" Carver shouted, as the rest of the templars turned at the sound of Mettin’s body collapsing. "There’s no reason to harm these people. You can stop this, or you can come through me." He breathed in, squaring his shoulders, and seemed to get even taller. The slouch was gone, and he towered over the rest of the room. Still shorter than Anders, though, and that was never going to stop bothering him.
Agatha drew her sword and stepped forward. "Through us."
Some of the men backed away from the others, choosing not to fight their own over something the Knight-Commander could make a decision about. Better to bring them all back alive and let her decide, than to have killed them and be told they should have lived. The first could be reversed. The second was fairly permanent.
Whether or not the other templars agreed with Agatha and Carver, no one of them dared to step forward and fight them. Agatha commanded them to sheathe their swords and to round up the prisoners. Carver hoped Meredith wouldn’t just have them all killed anyway. That would just be a terrible end to his day.
Only once the other templars were occupied did Agatha’s shoulders sag. "I can’t believe…" she murmured, shaking her head. "Ser Mettin."
"You did what you had to do," Carver told her. "His death is on his own head." He glanced at Ser Mettin’s corpse. "…and his body."
Agatha grimaced. "I suppose you’re right. Thank you for your help, Ser Carver. I’ll make sure the lieutenant knows what an asset you’ve been."
"Great," Carver said with a stiff smile. That would probably end in more toilet-cleaning just on principle.
The door did not slam, but the sound of plate boots on the tile made it very clear someone had come in. "Carver?" Cormac called from inside the library. "That you?"
The footsteps stopped, and Cormac turned to find his brother occupying most of the doorway, ghost-white and covered in blood. "Get Anders," Carver said, surprisingly quietly.
Cormac was on his feet instantly. "Get out of the door. Sit," he said, before he’d even made it across the room.
Shortly — Carver wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it couldn’t have been much, even if time was a little less straight than he tended to think of it being, today — Cormac returned with Anders, both of them on the edge of some barely-contained panic. Carver raised one hand in an absent greeting, his gloves already on the table in front of the couch he was sitting on, not that he remembered putting them there, but he must have.
"How much of the blood is yours?" Anders asked, crossing the room in a few steps.
"None. I think I have a few burns, but I drank a potion for those. Had. Had a few burns." Carver raised his eyes to where Anders crouched almost in front of him, to the side of the table. "We have to talk. You need to sit. I swear I tried to make them stop. I cut the head off Ser Mettin, when he wouldn’t stop. I killed a templar, today, Anders."
Anders nodded, his expression carefully blank even as dread settled like lead in his stomach. He sat up enough out of his crouch to sit on the edge of the table instead. "I’m sitting," he said. "Tell me what happened."
And Carver told him. Told him how his day went from cleaning toilets to clearing out sewers, and the more he spoke, the paler Anders got. "They said we were hunting blood mages," said Carver, hands spread palm out across his knees. "But they never used blood magic. Not once. I found some letters on their bodies…" Carver fumbled with a pouch at his side until he produced the blood-stained papers. He fiddled with them before handing them to Anders. "Once I read them, I… I knew who they were. Or I knew you’d know who they were, that is. I just came back from Sundermount where we rounded up the rest with their families. And Ser Mettin, he… Maker. I’m sorry, Anders."
Anders took the letters with numb fingers.
"I tried," Carver said. He looked ill. "He wanted to kill them all. There was no blood magic. They were just mages — some of them weren’t even mages. Just regular people. And I realised he’d have killed Anton, if he even suspected. So, I cut his head off. And nobody else argued with me."
"One of those things about decapitating somebody in front of an audience," Cormac pointed out, from where he leaned against a bookcase. "Not much argument left in the room by the time the head stops rolling." A sharp laugh leapt from his lips. "You remember. You were there."
"I need Cullen to come back." Carver looked desperate, but still hopeful. "I need him to come back, or I’m going to be the next one in that cell. I killed a templar."
"And whoever’s doing his job isn’t nearly as reasonable as Cullen, is that it?" Cormac guessed.
"Lieutenant Penis is anything but forgiving," Carver scoffed, looking at his hands and wondering again when he’d taken his gloves off.
"Lieutenant…?" Anders blinked, finally looking up from the blood-stained letters in his hands. "Ah. Denis. Right. Heard of him." His words sounded distant. His friends… Everything he and Justice had planned… had it all been for nothing?
"You’re blue," Carver said in a small voice. Anders looked at him blankly. Carver had to say it one more time for Anders to understand.
Blue fissures had opened up along his skin, at least the skin that he could see, and Anders nudged Justice back. This wasn’t the time. There was nothing they could do without endangering Carver or those mages’ families.
Cormac could see the realisations settling into the lines of Anders’s body — the way he looked at Carver’s gloves on the table instead of at Carver, the way his shoulders sunk just a little — and he knew the next few days were going to be ugly for them both. "We’ll get there," he promised. "It takes a lot of power for one man to move the whole world, but it’s not just you, and we’ll get there."
"I just wanted to go south," Anders sighed. "I wanted to go south and start a farm. Just live out my days with some pretty young thing who’d never seen a mage before, living on barley and chicken and healing the village kids. But, I had to be here. I had things to do. And then I had other things to do. And it just never stopped. And now everyone’s dead, and everything was for nothing."
"Everyone’s not dead," Carver reminded him. "I wish the bodies hadn’t been burned. I don’t know how many there were or who they were, but it couldn’t have been everyone, even if you count the ones we brought back. And they’re alive, too, for the moment. Someone had to have gotten out, and I hope I never know who they are," he said, thinking of what Cullen had gone through.
"‘For the moment’," Anders repeated. He wiped a hand over his face. Some of his people were alive. As much as he wanted to curl up and wallow in his despair, he had to focus on them. "They’re in the Gallows? Awaiting Meredith’s judgement?"
Carver nodded. "I doubt that will be pretty," he said.
Justice coiled hot and angry in the back of Anders’s head. "Her idea of ‘judgement’ rarely is," he said bitterly. "We have to do something."
From this angle, in this lighting, Carver couldn’t quite tell if Anders’s eyes were brown or blue. "Yes," said Carver. "We have to get Cullen healthy so he can mitigate this nonsense." As ineffectual as Cullen seemed to feel, Carver was seeing first-hand just how much worse the order was without him.