[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 277
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Merrill ♀, Orana ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Former Tevinter slaves, dick jokes, beer
Notes: An abundance of elves move into a dilapidated, haunted estate. What could go wrong?
"So, like I was saying," Varric said, examining the increasing number of elves in front of them, "I have this house I’m not using. I’m not sure I’m going to find a better use for it, suddenly. I mean, you’ve seen it. It needs a little help and probably some decent magical mumbo jumbo, but…" He shook his head. "For right now, I don’t really need the money that bad."
Fenris stepped forward, and the elves closest to him flinched back. "It’s all right," he told them. "Most of you know me. I’m called Fenris. This is my husband, Artemis. We’re going to be taking care of you, for a while."
"Is it true the master has moved to the Marches?" One of the elves asked. "We were told it was so that he could search for you. But, you’re here."
"You no longer serve Danarius," Fenris told them. "I found him."
"Is that our new master?" another elf asked, pointing at Artemis.
"No, that’s… that’s my husband. We have no slaves. There are no slaves in Kirkwall." Fenris said.
"Liar," Varric coughed. "Suppose it depends on how you define the word, though."
"If you’re not going to help, go get Orana and Bodhan. Orana is the most important. I will need her help." Fenris paused for a moment. "And Anders. I cannot imagine a healer would go amiss."
"What are we to do?" The elf who asked sounded panicked. "How will we live with no master?"
"As free men do," Fenris assured the man. "As I do."
The elves exchanged uneasy looks. They were still queued up, still waiting for instructions even though Fenris had just laid their freedom at their feet. Artemis had to wonder how long it had taken Fenris to lose that hollow-eyed look.
"We’ll help you," Artemis said. "Varric has…" He glanced over his shoulder, but Varric had already slipped away, hopefully to get Orana, Bodhan, or Anders, as requested, but who knew with him. "…has shelter for you that he has graciously offered, and we’ll make sure you find employment."
He hoped. Maker. More than twenty elves, some of them still children.
"Did… did you say Orana?" one elf asked, a sunken-cheeked young woman who couldn’t be older than seventeen.
"Yes," said Fenris. "She works for us now, as our cook. We pay her," he hastened to clarify.
A smile broke over the young woman’s face. "She’s alive? When we heard about Hadriana, we all thought she’d been killed."
"No, she’s… she’s very much alive," Fenris replied. "And free."
"And her soup is delightful," Artie added.
"We will leave the furnishings, for now. If you have come with any food or clothing, personal things, gather those. We will take you to Varric’s, er… folly," Fenris said, before turning his head to mutter to Artemis. "I sincerely wish we’d actually cleaned up the pieces of that golem, now. I’m sure it’s still sitting in the entryway. Perhaps not the best introduction to Kirkwall, even if it is accurate."
Some murmuring in Tevene ran through the crowd, as they shuffled between the towers of boxes, retrieving tiny bundles. Many carried nothing at all.
"Let us have Varric see to the delivery of the goods. He will know when the house is ready to receive yet more heaps of ostentatious crap." It was all, in Fenris’s mind, ostentatious crap. Of course, he hadn’t seen any of it since he left Tevinter. Perhaps his more refined noble tastes might endear some pieces to him, now. He doubted it, though.
"You know Artemis is going to faint, right?" Anders said, as soon as Varric opened the door.
"He’s not gonna faint," Varric scoffed, tripping over a busted stone. "He’s going to start cleaning everything in sight. Like a whirlwind of vinegar and dustrags. There’ll be no stopping him."
"You do have a way with words," Anders admitted, as Bodhan and Orana slipped past him, into the house. "And we may not be able to move that… thing without his help," he said, gesturing at the broken pieces of golem all over the floor.
"By my Ancestors," Bodhan said, looking around, agog. "Messere Varric, were you robbed?"
A snicker caught in Anders’s throat as Varric laughed uneasily. "Not exactly," he said. "At least, not recently and not here. You can blame my brother for the mess." That was skipping over quite a few details, but he didn’t want to get into the story just now. Not that story, at least.
Orana pulled the tattered curtains off the windows, letting in streams of light that turned the disaster of a great hall into a better lit disaster of a great hall.
Artemis, Fenris, and their gaggle of elves found the four of them hard at work moving around all the rubbish.
"Wow," said Artie with a weak laugh. "Somehow, this place looks even worse in the daylight." He eyed the urn at the far end of the foyer and prayed it didn’t decide to smack him in the face.
Fenris held the door open and ushered in the former slaves with a tilt of his head. Bodhan greeted them all with a smile and a wave and assured them they’d have this place sparkling clean in no time.
"That’s Bodhan," Artemis said, indicating the dwarf with a wave of his hand, and Bodhan ducked his head in a quick bow before turning back to the shards he had been sweeping up. "And this is Anders." Artie gestured at Anders next, tugging at his hair with his free hand. "He’s a friend and a healer."
"Andraste’s flaming tits aflame," Anders muttered, eyeing the elves still coming in the door. "This… how many?" Horror spread across his face as they gathered in the corner by the stairs, out of the way of most of the golem bits.
Orana recognised the young woman who’d been asking after her. "Elaiodora? Is that you?"
"Who—? Orana?" Elaiodora blinked and stepped out from behind several other elves. "Look at you! Your new master takes good care of you!"
"I don’t have a master. Messeres Fenris and Artemis pay me to take care of them, and I take care of myself, now." Orana laughed. "They definitely need me. Maybe someone like you, too. I could use some more time to spend with my, er, friend."
"Are you kidding me?" Elaiodora asked, squinting at Orana. "Is that what they said to tell us? ‘Messere’ Fenris? Really?"
"He’s technically a nobleman, now," Anders said, fighting back the blue glow that pressed at the corners of his eyes. "Me, I’m just your average sewer apostate. Speaking of which, let’s get you all checked out. Anybody got any pains? Coughs? Anything I should be worried about? If you do, I want to see you first. Otherwise just make a line, and I’ll see you one at a time. My friend Cormac’s on his way with some food for all of you." His stomach growled. "All of us."
Artemis tried not to look so relieved at the sound of his brother’s name. Cormac was much better at this sort of thing than he was. Well… except for the cleaning part. Varric pressed a rag into his hand with a wink, and Artie relaxed.
Obediently, the elves formed a line. Or something approximating a line that was more a huddle of bodies. Anders started at one end and worked his way down, his hand glowing with blue light. The first elves he looked over cringed away from his touch, eyes wide and wild, only to relax when they felt the wave of healing. In the middle of the group, a middle-aged woman murmured assurances in rapid-fire Tevene to a pair of children. Anders wondered if they were a family, but did not ask.
At the far end of the line, Elaiodora still looked dubious, one arm holding the other close to her body.
"They are good people," Orana assured her, squeezing Elaiodora’s arm. "You will see."
The injuries, overall, were small and of the sort one might expect from travelling in the hold of a ship — splinters, scrapes, a few punctures from whatever else was down there. As Anders knelt to get a better look at the foot of a man who seemed to have stepped on a nail, the woman in front of them turned around.
"Don’t worry," she said. "Our new master is a good man."
A blue glow radiated out from under Anders’s hair, crackling lines of it racing down his fingers. This was not right! This was not something they would stand for! This was wrong! "Justice, no," Anders hissed, pressing a palm against his eye, as he tried to maintain the healing.
Varric saw it happen and laughed, loudly, calling the attention away from Anders. "Master? Anders? Nah. Like he says, just some sewer apostate. And a hero. But, don’t call him a hero to his face. He gets a little offended."
"Fuck you, Varric." The words drifted up from the twist of limbs and feathers on the floor, where Anders struggled to contain Justice with assurances that they were doing the right thing, and the elves would eventually stop calling them ‘master’.
"I’d really rather you didn’t. I’ve heard stories. It’d be like taking a harpoon to a nug." Varric held his hands up defensively and laughed again.
"That is disgusting, but potentially not entirely inaccurate. As I understand it." A smile tugged at the corner of Fenris’s mouth.
Varric’s eyebrows shot up. "As you understand it?" He barked a laugh, and those arched eyebrows waggled at Artemis. "Has Nervy been telling stories? Should I expect a future Page Six featuring a sewer apostate and his staff?"
Artie threw his wet rag at Varric’s face. Luckily for Varric, he missed. "Please shut up?"
Cackling, Varric threw the rag back, and Artie caught it before it hit him in the face. "Hey, Nervy. Wanna give me a hand with these… bits?" Probably best not to say ‘golem’ in front of the frightened former slaves they barely knew. "And by a hand, I mean…" He waggled his fingers as though casting a spell. "Just aim away from me."
"Now where’s the fun in that?" Artie huffed.