[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 282
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Isabela ♀, Theron Mahariel ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, Isabela talks, Theron isn’t much of an improvement
Notes: Herein begins a quest to find a certain elven assassin of certain notoriety.
"A month!" Isabela draped herself across Cormac’s shoulders, plucking another sweet from the box he held and stuffing it into her mouth. Her teeth were already stained pink from the dyes in the marchpane. "Can you believe it? I’ve never seen that shop so busy!"
"Well, that’s why we were there!" Cormac grinned and turned his head to lick a spot of sugar off the corner of Isabela’s mouth. "We might have found someone to clear up some of that wait." He offered a strawberry-shaped sweet to Artemis, as they came to the top of the stairs, but any further comment was cut off by the man hurrying toward them.
"Ah, the Champion of Kirkwall! Your reputation precedes you," the man said, eyeing Artemis. "Forgive me. I should introduce myself properly. My name is Nuncio Caldera Lanos. I am a noble from the beautiful country of Antiva." As if his accent hadn’t already said half of that. He bowed deeply, as Cormac watched in amusement.
"Why does he think Artie—" Isabela started, but Cormac shook his head.
"It’s a long story. Don’t ask," Cormac muttered, remembering that night on the docks — what he could remember, anyway. "This should be fun."
Artie darted a look over his shoulder, just to make sure Anton hadn’t appeared behind him. "It must have taken a lot of practice to say that all in one breath," he said. He tried to mimic Anton’s body language, the disarming smile, all while frantically wondering what this ‘Nuncio’ had or had not seen that night at the Docks.
"It’s mostly to impress the ladies, I assure you," Nuncio said through a crooked smile. He winked at Isabela. "I’ve come to ask your help, Champion."
"I see," said Artie. "And I, as the Champion, would be happy to give it. Within reason. As the Champion." He gestured for Nuncio to continue.
"Hiding among the Dalish is an elven assassin I have been chasing for months," Nuncio said. "He’s a master manipulator who will endanger even his own kind to ensure his survival."
Artemis eyed the man up and down. A nobleman, he’d said. "You don’t seem the type to hunt assassins," he said. "Why are you after him?"
"At first, it was merely duty to Antiva," Nuncio answered humbly, "but after losing so many good men to him, it became personal. He’s nothing but a murderer, a thief, and a liar."
Artie cut a glance to his brother and Izzy. Izzy grinned back at him, munching on sweets as if this were first-class entertainment. "And you want me to use my wily, wily ways to find out where the Dalish are hiding this elf?"
"That is part of it, yes," Nuncio agreed. "This elf is very dangerous and he must be brought in, before he kills again."
"Didn’t you know a—" Cormac whispered to Isabela.
"Shh." She cut him off, stuffing a candy peach into his mouth.
"I’ve heard of your dealings with the Dalish. I was hoping you could go where my men could not," Nuncio went on, apparently uninterested in the conversation going on behind the ‘Champion’.
Cormac choked on the marchpane, leaning forward to cough, one hand over his mouth to catch not only the half-chewed sweet but the laugh that followed it. Isabela wrapped a supporting arm around him and thumped him on the back a few times.
Nuncio finally looked at them, blankly.
"We’re drunk," Isabela volunteered. It wasn’t true at all, but it was a marvellous all-purpose excuse. "Trashed. Utterly shitfaced. Just waiting for you to finish up this proposal so I can put these handsome men to good use." She wiggled her fingers at him. "Strong hands, you know?"
Cormac wheezed, helpless in his hysterical cackling. Nuncio watched the pair of idiots for a bit longer, before returning his attention to the ‘Champion’.
"Your friends are… getting a good start on the evening, it seems." He tried to be tactful. "But, perhaps you can find out where this assassin is hiding and apprehend him."
Artemis cleared his throat, doing his damnedest to not look at his brother. "I’ll see what I can do," he said. He’d punch Cormac’s shield later.
Nuncio looked pleased. "One of the Dalish," he said almost as an afterthought, "a woman named Variel, is a friend of his. I suggest speaking with her first."
"Of course," said Artie, ignoring Izzy’s snickers.
The man at Nuncio’s shoulder finally spoke. "We won’t be here when you get back," he said. "We got a campsite outside the city. Look for us there."
"I’ll look for you," Artie agreed. "After I have… dealt with this elf." He ignored the snickers that followed that too.
Nuncio ducked his head in thanks and vanished into the streets of Hightown. Artie took a strawberry candy from his brother and glared at the pair of them.
"I knew that was going to come back to bite me in the ass at some point," Artemis sighed.
"What, your ‘dealings with the Dalish’?" Isabela teased. "And here I assumed there was already some ass-biting involved, where that was concerned."
Artemis held up a finger as he chewed. "Leave Anders’s cat out of this."
As with so many trips up Sundermount, an indecent amount of the walk involved Anders and Fenris singing bawdy songs in Tevene at each other, each trying to find one the other didn’t know, as Cormac and Isabela stuck to dirty songs involving sailing puns, in Common. Artemis found himself used as a prop for the occasional line by everyone else, squeezed, dipped, and serenaded.
"I still can’t believe Merrill wouldn’t come with us. Is she still so afraid of this old witch?" Isabela asked, between songs, picking through Cormac’s bag for another bottle of cinnamon ale.
"The Keeper’s not just any old witch," Cormac pointed out. "She’s a very politically important old witch, as far as the Dalish go. I mean, she’s up there on the list of people you probably shouldn’t piss off, right next to the Knight-Commander, except, you know, Dalish. And magical. And Merrill’s pissed her off quite a bit."
"And this Mahariel’s the drunk who was making eyes at Cullen before the wedding? The one whose wife’s seen your brother naked?" Izzy bounced the cork from the bottle off the side of Artie’s head. "Which is completely unfair. I’ve known you longer, and this wench gets a look at the glorious and mysterious final Hawke ass."
"I don’t know if I’d call it ‘mysterious’," said Anders, "but it is glorious."
Fenris’s growl was unconvincing.
"This ‘wench’," Artemis said, "is married to a suitably gorgeous, male elf who also saw my glorious ass. That she saw it was incidental."
Isabela eyed him askance as she drank from the bottle. "Is that how it works, then?" She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand. "I bring you a gorgeous elf-man, and we share the plunder?" She waggled her eyebrows. "Or at least admire the booty?"
"Er… depends on the elf?"
"What about this one?" Isabela hooked one arm around Fenris’s. "Gorgeous elf right here. I hear he even comes with a glowstick. Or is it the glowstick that—?"
"This gorgeous elf is already taken, glowstick and all, but nice try." Artemis hooked his arm around Fenris’s other arm. Fenris exchanged a helpless look with Anders.
Isabela snapped her fingers. "I know!" she said. "I’ll bring you Jethann!" The grin she gave Artemis around Fenris was predatory.
Anders groaned. "No. Not Jethann. Please."
"And I don’t think my husband needs any more elves," Fenris drawled. He quirked an eyebrow at Artie. "Or do you?"
"Fen, my love, you’re all the elf I need." Artemis winked at Fenris and gave his ass an appreciative squeeze.
"Too much elven culture? Finally? Has such a thing actually become possible?" Cormac clapped a hand over his heart, turning around to gape at his brother in shock. "Are you… getting old? Are you finally slowing down with age? Is this what marriage does to a man? Holy balls! Let’s never marry, Anders! I’d hate to lose my everything else." He reached out and wrapped an arm around Isabela, pulling her to his side.
"I said he’s all the elf I need," Artemis replied, looking at his brother over Fenris and Izzy’s heads, "not all the elf I want. There is a difference." Artie’s arm slipped around Fenris’s waist.
"No such thing as ‘too much elven culture’," Fenris added wryly.
"So I guess we’ll be—" Cormac started, but a voice from further up the mountain cut him off.
"Couldn’t stay away, could you?" Theron called down to them. "Need another lesson in real elven culture?"
The woman beside him — probably another guard for the camp — shoved him and he stumbled off the overhang of rock he was standing on, staggering into the road.
"You know these shem?" The woman asked.
"I know them all, but I only know the one." Theron looked up and wiggled his eyebrows at her, and she kicked dirt on his face. "My wife’s pretty familiar with a couple of them, too."
"Hey, Theron," Cormac waved and tossed him a bottle of ale. "We’re not here for your… culture, this time. I bet you could still talk Artie into another lesson, though. Something about some assassin who might be up here?"
Theron pried the cork out of the bottle. "An assassin?" he asked.
"Our contact said he was an elf and hiding with the Dalish," Artie added. "Have you seen anyone like that recently? Any elf pass through who wasn’t part of your clan?"
The woman on the overhang answered for Theron. "An outsider wanted to talk to Variel a few days ago," she said, "but he didn’t stay with the camp. You’ll have to look elsewhere." She glanced back down the road in an obvious hint.
"I remember him, yes," Theron added, eyes lighting up as her words sparked a memory. "Blond. Antivan accent. Best ask Variel where he ended up. Come on, I’ll bring you to her." He ignored his fellow guard’s scowl.
Anders didn’t step forward with the rest of the group. He held up a hand for patience. "Hold on," he said. "I got the ‘elf assassin’ part, but no one said ‘Antivan’." He looked at Isabela to see her smile splitting her face. "No," he said, shaking his head. "No? No. It can’t be."
"It might be. That’s why I’m up here." Isabela grinned up at Anders, nudging him forward. "You’re hooked, aren’t you? He’s like that. Always catchy, never catching."
"I’d like him a lot less if I’d caught anything," Anders admitted, as they followed Theron into the camp. "But, he can’t be the only one. He used to talk about the Crows, and how they were all like him, if less dashing and delicious. And he was ever so intent on that last. I mean, really, what are the chances? It’s probably not him. He’s probably still in Gwaren, driving the locals mad."
"Is that where he ended up?" Isabela asked. "I haven’t seen him since I went to Orlais."
"Acting Teyrn of Gwaren." Anders nodded, a smile finally creeping across his face. "Can you imagine? Him?"
"I think if he’s still the Acting Teyrn, it’s an act of the Maker he hasn’t gotten himself lynched." Isabela cackled, leaning heavily on Anders, as she picked his pocket for a sprig of the mint he’d been gathering the whole way up the mountain.