[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 272
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Varric ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, red lyrium
Notes: Varric finds what he’s looking for. Fenris talks him out of keeping it.
The lack of golem didn’t last long, though, and the remaining shades dove toward each other, once again, bringing up a smaller, more translucent golem, this time. It stretched and batted at Anton, who was trying to scramble out of the way, knocking him into a wall hard enough to be heard on the landing.
"No!" Cormac barked, as if he were scolding the dog, before returning to spells that were distinctly not the sort of thing he’d use on the dog. He clenched his fist and seconds later, wobbled as the ice sputtered into a dusting of snow at his fingertips. "Shit. Blighted shit. Damnable blighted shit, why did we not bring Anders?" he rambled, clawing at his bag until he found a lyrium potion. He supposed there were other ways to handle this, but lyrium was probably less dangerous than getting decked by a golem, at least in these quantities. Again, he forced the ice into the cracks that had opened when he squeezed its foot, widening the gaps.
Artemis threw in spells where he could, exploiting the cracks Cormac was making and tossing another earthquake at the golem, once it had moved away from Anton. Between the two of them, they were able to break the creature apart, ghost-rock and ice clattering to the floor. Fenris kept his sword raised, waiting for more shades — or for something else — to appear out of the wreckage. It didn’t. Not even after Fenris poked the phantom golem-bits with his sword.
"Anton, you all right?" Artie called over the railing.
Anton lay where he landed, but he looked up at his brother. "I’m seeing two of you," he drawled. "One is more than enough."
Artemis chuffed and looked at Cormac. "I know. Should have brought Anders," he said before trotting down the stairs to check on his idiot brother.
Varric came up beside Fenris, head tilted curiously as he bent to pick up something from the debris. It glowed red in the palm of his hand. "This… this is a piece of the idol," he said. He barked a laugh and shook his head. "I should have known Bartrand would lie to me. Of course he’d keep a piece of the statue for himself."
"Varric? I hope to the holy name of Andraste you’re wearing gloves if you’re touching that thing!" Cormac called out, kneeling beside Anton. "You’d best hope two of me are better at healing than one of me."
"Think of what we could do with this!" Varric went on, gazing rapturously at the red shard in his hand.
"Like going mad? I’m absolutely sure that’s something we could do with that." Fenris’s grip on his sword remained firm. For all that he would prefer to get through this without stabbing Varric, he had no intention of ending up a victim of another lyrium-mad dwarf.
"I’m not my brother, Fenris!" Varric looked up, annoyed. "The idol drove him mad, but this is just one tiny piece!"
"We don’t know how the idol drove him mad, Varric," Cormac said, loudly, not looking away from where he was flashing his fingers at Anton and checking for any more damage. "Lucky you’re not dead. Sorry. I just didn’t see it coming."
"Neither did I!" Anton laughed and rubbed the side of his head Cormac’s hand wasn’t on. "I just got caught up on that busted statue… Should’ve made it. Three fingers."
"I need this thing!" Varric said, clenching the idol piece in his fist. "Six years of my life have gone into this!"
"Oh, this sounds familiar," Artemis muttered. "Looks familiar, too. Just add a beard. Varric, maybe you should put that down."
Varric narrowed his eyes at Artie. "The shard is my only hope of curing Bartrand," he said, only clutching it tighter. "It’s my only chance to set any of this right."
Artemis glanced at his brothers, where Anton was still rubbing his head but looking less cross-eyed. He tried to think of what he would do if any of his siblings had been affected that way. Cormac was arguably crazy, anyway, but that was without the lyrium. "No one’s saying you can’t keep it, Varric," he said, patting the air. No one was saying he should, either, but. "Just… set it down for now? Where you found it? Until we can figure out what to do with it?"
"He’s right," Anton said, batting Cormac’s hands away, as he sat up, dusting crushed vase and broken stone off his shirt. "If it means that much to you, you can keep the shard of craziness, but we have to make sure it’s not going to bite any of us in the ass. Most of all you, since you’re actually touching it."
"Put it down and go wash your hands," Cormac urged. "I don’t know if that will help, but I’m pretty sure it won’t hurt. I’ll try to figure out how to carry it. It’s processed, obviously, so it’s less dangerous, as far as lyrium goes, but most lyrium isn’t red. The delusions, well, that’s pretty typical lyrium poisoning, unfortunately."
"Please, Varric," Fenris said, softly. "Of all of us, hear me." He held out his hands and the lines in them lit, tracing up his arms. "We’ve already identified it as lyrium, or mostly lyrium anyway, and you shouldn’t be touching it, even if you are a dwarf. You’re not your brother, but think of how quickly it got to him. I am familiar with the effects of lyrium. Quite personally. And even I haven’t touched it in a state in which it would do that to someone, nor will I now."
Varric nodded, looking from one to the next of his friends. "If I put this down, you’re not going to destroy it or steal it or something?"
"As much as I would firmly urge you to have it destroyed, I don’t know how," Cormac said, with a shrug. "And if nothing else, you may be right about it being the key to Bartrand’s troubles. At the very least, it’ll give us an idea of what it did to him, assuming the answer isn’t demons, which I’m pretty sure it’s not. I think Justice might’ve noticed that."
"It’s just about always demons," Anton sighed. "But it’s bound to be something else at some point. I think we’ve used up most of Kirkwall’s demons."
"Don’t." Artemis cringed. "Don’t say that. That’s how we end up with more demons."
Varric looked down at the lyrium in his hand, watched the way it reflected the light. "Right," he muttered, scrunching his eyes closed a moment. "Not destroying it. Just setting it down." Slowly, he placed the idol piece back where he’d found it. Fenris motioned for him to step back from it, and Varric did. Artie let out the breath he’d been holding.
"So," Anton said. "Now that the crazy shard is back on the floor, what do we do? It’s not going to form another weird ghost-golem thing, is it? Because being slammed into the wall once was plenty for me, thank you."
"Lyrium is lyrium," Fenris said, finally sheathing his sword. "Maybe we should ask a dwarf."
Varric made a face and threw out his hands.
Fenris gave him a flat look. "You are as much of a dwarf as I am an elf," he said.
"Is this because I don’t have a beard? That’s stereotyping, Fenris."
"No, it’s because you’re the least dwarfy dwarf in all of Thedas," Cormac laughed. "About the only thing you and actual dwarves have in common is height and chest hair."
Varric tried to scowl, really he did, but the laugh ruined it, and he hung his head, leaning forward, as his shoulders shook with it. "Really, though. What do we do with it?"
"You live with a rather talented runecrafter, do you not?" Fenris said, with a glance at Cormac and Anton.
"We do." Anton nodded, checking to make sure he wasn’t missing any blades. "But, he’s not really the most talkative person. I’m sure he knows a great deal, but he seems to be limited to expressing things in terms of ‘enchantment’."
"We could ask Bodhan," Cormac pointed out. "He might not work with it, but he does have to buy it and transport it for Sandal."
"There’s an idea," said Artie, pointing at Cormac. "Bodhan is a much dwarfier dwarf."
Varric scoffed. "Then let’s get out of here and talk to him. I’ve seen enough of this damnable house to last three lifetimes." He looked around at the mess, at the debris of the golem and shattered attack-vases, and shuddered. He could use some air, anyway. "And I’ll have you know that Sandal doesn’t have a beard either."
"Still dwarfier than you," said Fenris, clapping Varric on the shoulder and nudging him towards the door.