[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 276
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Bethany Hawke ♀, Sebastian ♂, Elthina ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Elthina talks, some of the shipment isn’t furniture
Notes: Sebastian tries to get the Grand Cleric out of Kirkwall. A shipment from Tevinter finally arrives.
Still arm-in-arm with Sebastian, Bethany led them straight to the Chantry. Elthina knelt in prayer in front of the sculpture of Andraste, but she rose when she saw who approached.
"We have met with Sister Nightingale," Bethany told her. She drew in a breath, exchanged a glance with Sebastian. "And she says you must leave Kirkwall."
"What?" Elthina blinked and leaned forward, assuming she’d heard that incorrectly.
"You were right," said Sebastian, his grip tight on Bethany’s hand. "The Divine will be taking action against Kirkwall, though the sister didn’t say what. You must take the holy relics from the chantry and leave for safety."
"Sebastian!" said Elthina. "I’m surprised at you." For the first time, Bethany heard her voice grow hard. "Andraste would not thank me for saving a few dusty finger bones and my own skin at the cost of people’s lives."
"Would you martyr yourself, then? To what end? To what cost? What would your death be used to say?" Bethany asked, snapping her fan shut, as she gestured with it. "There is a revolution coming, and one side or the other is going to use you, if you die in it."
"When I became Grand Cleric, I took a vow to the people of Kirkwall and the Free Marches. I will not leave my flock," Elthina insisted, quite firmly.
"Would you let yourself die?" Sebastian’s concerned tone was marred by the scepticism on his face.
"There is no greater devotion than to lay one’s life at the Maker’s feet. There is no greater death than to take the blow for another." Elthina’s face remained still. She seemed unshakeable.
"Sister Nightingale took a great risk to warn you. Don’t be rash." Bethany said, fan cracking open in front of her face. "It matters not who you have died for, but who benefits from your death."
"Please, Your Grace," Sebastian pleaded, the concern reaching his eyes, this time. "Sister Nightingale thinks there will be war."
"Then I must make peace." Elthina missed the way Bethany turned her fan to hide a smile, but simply misread the sudden flush across Sebastian’s cheeks. "Settle yourself, Sebastian. I’m in no personal danger. I am grand cleric — who would dare attack me?"
"If you will not shield yourself, then I will be your shield," Sebastian declared squaring his shoulders and tipping his chin up. "You will come through this safely, by the Maker’s name I swear it."
While Anders, Anton, and Isabela dealt with the Resolutionist mages, Bethany stayed with Sebastian. He paced restlessly in front of the stairs, and she watched. He would speak eventually — she knew he would — and she was there to listen when he did.
A deep breath, and Sebastian finally spoke. "If Elthina won’t leave Kirkwall, neither will I." He turned to Bethany, drawing her into the internal argument he’d been having. "I can’t abandon her when the Divine’s own agent warned her away."
"And here I thought you’d want to stay to enjoy the many charms of the Hawke family," Bethany teased. "But then, I have all of those anyway."
Sebastian’s smile was unconvincing, and Bethany stepped forward, taking his hand in hers. "Well, there is that too," Sebastian said. "But, if these maleficarum rebel against the Knight-Commander, Elthina will put herself between them and be torn apart." He shook his head. "You heard Anders. And those mages in the keep. I must try to make her see reason. This cannot end well."
"And what of Starkhaven in the meantime?" Bethany asked, blue eyes searching his.
"I owe Elthina my life," said Sebastian. "I cannot abandon her."
Orana answered the door to find a runner from the docks. The young man held out a manifest and tried to read the name off it. "Says I’m looking for a Messere Da… Danoniaz? Donanas? I can’t read this."
"Danarius?" Orana asked, confusion crossing her face. She supposed the house had once been his, but why — Oh! Of course. Fenris had said something about expecting a shipment addressed to Danarius, but that had been months ago.
"That’s gotta be it. We’re unloading into the warehouse at dock thirty-two. Just let him know to bring the slip when he comes to pick up the goods. It looks like an awful lot of crap. Er. Things. Stuff. Furniture." The runner coughed into his hand and looked embarrassed.
"I’ll let the Messere know his shipment is in," Orana said with a smile, as she slipped the runner a coin and took the manifest.
Fenris yawned as he staggered through the door from the kitchen, a warm mug of mulled wine in one hand. "Was that the door?"
"Yes, messere. A shipment for Danarius." Orana held out the manifest, and Fenris took it, squinting stupidly at it for a long moment.
"What— Oh! Fasta vass, I was thinking we’d made a mistake!" Fenris shook his head, looking slightly more awake. "Amatus," he called up the stairs, yawning so widely his jaw popped in the middle of the word. He tried again. "Amatus? We need to go down to the docks with Varric. The dwarf and his cousin came through for us, after all."
A noise filtered down the stairs that might have been acknowledgement or a particularly loud snore.
The ocean carried a chill wind to the Docks, and Varric stuffed his hands into his jacket, the tunic underneath almost laced for the occasion, as they made their way to dock thirty-two.
"I have no idea why it took this long, Broody," he said. "Sorry about that. I was beginning to think they’d seen through us." He laughed as though the very idea were ridiculous.
"Maybe it took them this long to figure out what to do with all this stuff," Artie said, taking the manifest from Fenris and looking at it, head tilted. "And I’m still not even sure what all of this is. I mean, I see ‘chair’, ‘desk’, but… what about these numbers down here?" He pointed to the bottom half of the manifest. "They look a bit like…" Artemis blinked. "Is it livestock? Maker, did they send you livestock from Tevinter? No wonder it took so long. I am telling you right now, we are not keeping any bulls or chickens."
"Not even roosters?" Varric asked, swatting Artie’s arm. "I heard you liked those."
"Why would I—?" Artemis paused, getting the joke. "Oh. Ha. You’re hilarious."
Fenris took the paper from Artemis’s hand, examining the lines near the bottom. "Chickens do not live to twenty-four years, Amatus." A chill crept up his spine. Age, sex, catalogue number, distinguishing marks. And the numbers all started with E5230. His own record number had begun with the same sequence, and he hoped that wasn’t the kind of identifier he thought it was. Perhaps it was just the base catalogue attribution for things belonging to the house in Minrathous.
"Cows might," Varric suggested. "Maybe that’s it. They sent you the livestock needed to set up house in a new city."
"I hope you’re right," Fenris muttered under his breath. "What will we do with all this?" he asked, identifying several pieces of furniture that he recalled. "These are full sets. This must have taken an entire ship."
"That Rivaini backed out of the deal, after the thing with the golem. I got a house you can keep shit in, until you figure it out. I don’t think anyone else is going to be crazy enough to buy it, after that. Not for a few more years, at least." Varric shook his head and sighed.
As they approached the warehouse, Varric took the manifest and flashed it to anyone who asked, introducing himself as the local guide to these travelling businessmen. A few people recognised Artemis, but Varric shook his head as soon as their eyes lit up. Finally they got to the doors.
"Let’s see what we’ve got!" he said, hauling back one door. The light fell across tall stacks of boxes in all shapes and sizes.
There was no movement for a long moment, and Fenris stepped inside, lighting the palm of one hand to use for more light. "I don’t hear any—"
A pair of terrified eyes appeared in the space between two stacks of boxes, followed shortly by the rest of a face. "Fenris?" The voice was small and nervous, much like its owner.
Fenris’s eyes lit on the elf, recognising that there were more behind her. "Venhedis," he breathed. "I was afraid of this. Those numbers…"
"Maker’s beard," Artie breathed. That was not a cow. Or a chicken.
Slaves. All of these slaves, kept in here like they were part of the furniture. Artie ran a hand through his hair and tugged at the ends.
"How many…?" He tried to make out their shapes in the dark. With a shake of his head, Artemis squeezed Fenris’s arm. "Can… can we get them out of here?"
Fenris nodded, and even in the dim light his face looked grey. "Yes, it’s Fenris," he finally answered the first elf. He tried to conjure a reassuring smile for their sakes, but it just came out stiff. He gestured with his lit hand. "Come out into the light. Please."
The shapes moved in the dark, and after a hesitant moment they shuffled forward, eyes scrunching and squinting when the light hit them. Artie started counting and started turning grey himself.