[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 270
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Varric ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence from canon-atypical sources
Notes: The latest in Kirkwall Murder Chic, now with a flying library.
Because Artemis was with them, Anton and Varric didn’t need to bribe Fenris with tarts to get him out of the house, and they stopped by the estate to pick up Bethany, only to leave with Cormac. Bethany had a paper to work on, thank-you-very-much, and she insisted that her talents lay in dead bodies more than dead spirits. For all matters related to crossing the Veil, she pointed them towards Cormac and Fenris.
There was no sneaking into Bartrand’s house this time. Varric had a key and let them in the front door, holding the door open for his friends as though he were inviting them over for dinner. "Do come in," he said.
Artemis looked around at the mess, the overturned furniture, the broken tiles. "Aw," he said, hooking an arm through Fenris’s. "It reminds me of when we started dating." For certain values of the word ‘dating’, he supposed.
Fenris huffed, tugging at one ear. "Our house did not look like this," he said unconvincingly.
"Mm, you’re right," Anton said, looking around critically. "Your house had more corpses lying around. Really pulled the Murder Chic look together, I think."
"Murder chic. Remind me why our sister with the corpse fetish isn’t here?" Cormac groaned, glancing around the place. "Right, right, because I should be able to call on my innate mystic nature and figure out what’s wrong with the Veil. Should have brought Anders. He’s actually seen holes in the Veil."
Fenris suddenly looked curious, having not actually heard the story. "Is that what happened with Justice?"
"Kind of. It’s a long story, and it’s not mine. But, yes, that’s how Justice ended up on this side." Cormac backed into the room, toward one of the doors, looking up at the vaulted ceiling. "I’m told my cousin actually closed some rifts, but she’s a big damn hero. Also a totally other school of magic."
"You’re telling me he just… walked out of the Fade?" Fenris looked utterly horrified. "No summoning?"
"Not intentionally. More stumbled. Maybe ‘was firmly assisted in that direction’. But, from the Fade side, not our side. He pissed somebody off, in there." Cormac was squinting at everything that looked portable and non-Orlesian that they passed. "I’m not really seeing any—"
Varric shushed him, patting the air in front of him and tilting his head. "Do you hear that?" he asked after a moment. "That music. Where is it coming from?"
Artie exchanged a look with Fenris. "I don’t hear anything," he said, and Fenris hummed in agreement.
Varric opened his mouth to argue, only to shake his head and gesture them on. "Forget it. Maybe it was the wind."
As they walked into the next room, the door behind them slammed shut. "And maybe that was the wind too," suggested Anton. "Shall we start taking bets? ‘Haunted or draughty’. Artie, where do you stand on this?"
"Ten silver says haunted," Artie said. "I mean, with our luck? Please."
"I’m with Nervy on this one," said Varric. "He has a point."
They continued down the ruined hall, poking their heads into each room. Anton swatted Varric’s arm and pointed, and Varric followed his line of sight to the urn hovering in the air.
"That is very talented wind," drawled Fenris.
"You have got to be kidding me," said Varric, jaw dropping open as he stepped closer, swiping an arm under the urn and shaking his head.
"That would be a great party trick," Cormac said, squatting down next to the urn to get a closer look. His fingers glowed as he stuck his fingers under it, and he jerked back, with a stunned blink. "Okay, it goes without saying that this is Kirkwall, and there’s a thousand years of terrifying shit buried under this city. But, this is… Blight take it, I wish we’d brought Anders. I really want Justice’s opinion on this right about now."
"And I really wish whoever was singing would knock it off and show themselves," Varric muttered.
Fenris looked around. "There’s no one singing, Varric. Are we sure Bartrand wasn’t catching? Does this sort of thing run in families? Not to be hopelessly rude, but there is really no one singing."
"No," Cormac said, standing up again. "He might be right. Whatever’s in here may like him. Maybe he reminds it of Bartrand, but there’s something here, and I don’t know if it’s a demon."
"What do you mean you ‘don’t know’? Is it likely?" Varric paused. "Right. It’s Kirkwall. What am I thinking?"
"Demons," Artemis sighed. "Is it Tuesday already?"
The urn fell back to the table with a hollow clunk, but Varric’s attention was elsewhere, head tilted as he listened to a voice that wasn’t there. "It sounds like it’s coming from this way…" he muttered to himself, wandering back out into the hall. As he walked by it, a chair lifted from the floor and spun to stick upside-down on the ceiling. Anton muttered something about creepy magic shit.
Fenris stood directly under the chair and poked it with his sword. "Our house never did this, Amatus," he said over his shoulder.
"Are you disappointed?" Artemis asked. "I would be more than happy to throw some chairs at the ceiling when we get home."
Varric kept on walking, looking around. "We’re getting closer," he said distractedly. "I can feel it." He pushed a door open at the end of the hall, Bianca ready in one hand. "Look at this," he huffed, shaking his head and gesturing the others inside. "My brother’s junk was left here."
Inside the room was a clutter of furniture and crates, frames and paintings leaning against each other in a stack against the wall.
"Where else, exactly, would it go?" Fenris asked. "It was his house. Then it was your house. Now you’ve sold it, and the new owners are having … difficulties moving in."
"Shit. You’re right. I know you’re right." Varric shook his head and poked at some of the stacked paintings. "You wouldn’t know it, but Bartrand was a sentimentalist. This came from our estate in Orzammar. When I was seven, I knocked over one of Mother’s plates and broke it. My brother yelled at me for an hour."
Anton laughed. "That sounds about right. I mean, if you assume I was the one knocking shit over." He hiked an eyebrow at Artemis.
"He’d knock shit over, you’d make fun of him, and I’d yell at you," Cormac clarified, rubbing his face. "It’s amazing you’re not more interested in punching me, after all that."
"Why would I punch you?" Anton asked, smiling sweetly as he could manage. "I’d just talk shit about you to Carver, and he’d do it for me."
"I may have even further regret about having found my sister," Fenris muttered. "Were the plates special, or was he just looking for an excuse?"
"Oh, they were… They wouldn’t have been special in Orzammar. But, we weren’t in Orzammar. Should’ve heard him. ‘This was made by the artisans of House Saldras! The clay was from the Aedros Atuna river, which never saw the sun!'" Varric rolled his eyes and shook his head. "That stupid plate was the whole city of Orzammar to him." He trailed off, gaze turning inward.
A distant shriek caught their attention, and they all turned back towards the hall.
"What is going on, here?" Anton muttered.
Varric’s brow smoothed in realisation, and he pushed his way past Anton, following the sound. "This isn’t being caused by some random artefact," he called over his shoulder. "This idol is still in the house! It has to be."
"I thought Bartrand had sold it," Artie said.
"So did I," said Varric. "But I’ve just got this feeling…"
Varric led the way through the house, barely sparing the bookcases a glance as books started flying off the shelves.
"Flying books," Fenris muttered. "Suddenly I am reminded of the Fade." And Isabela trying to pronounce Tevene. He cleared his throat, one ear twitching.
With a smirk, Artie turned to say something, turning just in time to see the vase as it came flying towards his face. It hit him square between the eyes, filling his vision with white starbursts. "Andraste’s flaming tits!"
"Somebody’s got a death wish," Cormac sang, glaive dropping into his hand, as he popped a snap and slung an arm back to meet it, reaching for Artemis with the other hand. "C’mere and let me see. Did it crack? You’re not cut, are you?" He’d expected someone to get hit since the urn floated off that table, but he hadn’t expected it to be Artie, and he sure as shit hadn’t expected it to be in the face.
Fenris took it much less well, sword in his hand almost instantly as he whipped around, snarling, to face… nothing. Just like with the urn and the books. Doubly nothing, since Anton had vanished into some shadow, somewhere. "Anton? You should say something, or I’ll assume the demons got you."
After a moment of no furnishings jumping out and attacking anyone else, Anton stepped out of the shadows, directly behind Fenris. "Please. Like any demons could catch me—" A book flew up, smacking him in the back of the head. He jumped, a dagger in one hand, the other rubbing his head.
Artie prodded at his face, eyes streaming. "I’m seeing three of you, Cormac," he said through his hands. "One of you is more than enough."
"Agreed," said Fenris and Varric at the same time.
Cormac snorted. "See if I keep you shielded," he scoffed, raising a barrier around himself and Artemis, as he brought what little healing he had to bear. "Should’ve brought Anders," he muttered, yet again.
"You shit!" Anton hissed, ducking under another book.
"Put your back to a wall, and you’ll stop having this problem," Cormac pointed out, without looking away from Artemis’s rapidly bruising cheek. Sweat broke out across his forehead, as he worked. He’d never been good at this, but he’d always taken care of Artie. "Isn’t that what you always used to tell me?"
Artemis leaned into the hand soothing healing magic into his face. He blinked and squinted, wiping his eyes. "Ah, only one Cormac now. Thank you, Maker." He squeezed Cormac’s hand and pulled it away when his face stopped smarting. Anton was still cursing and swatting away books.