[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 284
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Isabela ♀, Zevran Arainai ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, dead varterral, broken nose, a conversation that includes Zevran and Isabela
Notes: Turning from the brutal dangers of ancient Elvhenan to the delightful dangers of Antiva.
The varterral was already in sad shape, lurching around on twisted, mangled legs. A few more applied spells, and it crumpled to the ground, limbs twitching feebly until Fenris hacked them into submission.
"Phew!" Isabela fanned herself and poked at the smouldering thing with her toe. "You’ve killed this thing already, you said? It’s not going to jump back up and start flailing again, is it?"
"If it does," sighed Fenris, "I volunteer to punch Cormac this time. For the sake of expediency."
Izzy smirked. "Well, it looks pretty charred, anyway. Maybe we killed it better this time?"
Fenris gave her a flat look over the thing’s corpse. "I tore off its legs last time," he said. "And it still came back. In one piece."
Izzy’s smirk wilted a bit. "Ah. That’s less reassuring."
Anders’s hand glowed blue as he cupped Cormac’s face, sending healing into the growing bruise.
"Offering to punch me?" Cormac slurred, Anders’s hand holding his jaw in place. "Gonna start thinking you like me or something."
"Or something," Anders volunteered. "Carver?"
Cormac’s eyes widened. "I take it back. I take it all back."
"Besides, you’re not that into punching, last time I checked," Anders murmured, pressing a kiss to Cormac’s forehead as the blood stopped and the bruise retreated.
"Got me there." Cormac shrugged and Anders’s hand slid down his face, checking for broken bones. "You really think you did that much damage?"
"I pulled that at the last second. Didn’t want to knock you out." Anders shrugged back. "You forget I’ve been in fistfights with darkspawn and won."
Isabela’s eyes lit up. "Have you, now? Oh, this I have to hear!"
"Wait until we find Grandmaster Stabbypants. I’m not telling all the same stories twice, if I don’t have to."
A blond elf in Dalish leathers swaggered out of a doorway, on the other side of the varterral. "Now, you I wasn’t expecting."
"I thought I smelled Antivan leather," Isabela purred, one dagger still in her hand as she held her arms out invitingly.
"Isabela! If it isn’t my favourite pirate wench!" The elf laughed.
"Shouldn’t you be dead by now?" Isabela asked.
"I could say the same, my dear. Seems we were both fortunate to have found powerful friends, no?" His eyebrow arced up, before his gaze shifted to Anders. "Mage-Warden. The Asshole with the Flagpole."
"None other!" Anders coughed and rubbed one hand over his eyes. "It’s good to see you, Zevran. So… how’s Solona?"
Zevran’s crooked grin turned wistful. "Ah, I am sure she is as beautiful and deadly as ever," he said. "But I cannot attest to it. I left shortly after you did."
"Oh." Anders blinked, taken aback. "Rough patch?"
Zevran chuckled and shook his head. "No, no, nothing like that. I got dragged back into the wonderful world of Antivan politics. Mostly, I had to get the Crows out of the bedroom."
"Personally," said Isabela, "I’ve rather enjoyed the Crows in my bedroom."
"There’s also a horse in your bedroom," Fenris muttered, earning a pair of raised eyebrows and a barking laugh from Zevran.
"You’re still dealing with the Crows?" Anders asked, brows knit, as he side-stepped the subject of Isabela and horses.
Zevran shrugged insouciantly. "Well, there was still a contract floating around," he said, "as well as the attached reward. I disposed of both. The reward was enough to purchase a few young elves, and I sent them to Solona. And she thought I’d never give her children."
Anders chortled, and Fenris’s ears flattened against his skull.
"You look concerned, handsome," Zevran said, picking up on Fenris’s sudden tension. "Perhaps you have misunderstood. Where I am from, in Antiva, the Crows purchase children to fill their ranks. I was once sold, to a house of assassins. Ah, look where it got them. Or don’t. No one can find them." Zevran shrugged expressively, smile still light. "Solona is my wife — a good woman. A good commander. But, she is a Warden, you understand? So, we adopt. I bought children destined to grow up like I did and sent them to Amaranthine, to be with her."
"I hope she has a full household staff," Fenris muttered, thinking of the condition of his own house, in the wake of the children he and Artemis had temporarily inherited. He paused. "You were sold? In Antiva? I didn’t think that happened in the south…"
"So, that is a Tevinter accent!" Zevran grinned at Isabela. "You always find the most entertaining companions, you know that?"
"You didn’t hear what went on in Denerim," Isabela said to Fenris. "That Loghain who wanted to be king of Ferelden was selling elves right out of the alienage to Tevinter. Zevran, here, sliced a few slavers in the pockets they’d really miss."
"Oh, yes, because taking money—" Fenris started.
"That wasn’t money, unless they were prostitutes, on the side," Zevran said, with a smile.
Cormac looked up at Anders. "Can we keep him?"
"Only if it’s in your bedroom!" Zevran clicked his teeth and winked, before returning his attention to Anders. "So, tell me about all your whys and Howes."
Anders’s smile turned rueful. "He didn’t come with me."
"No?" Zevran cocked his head to the side. "And here I was, thinking he came after you. Well. Aside from in the usual manner, eh?" Zevran’s eyebrows arced up suggestively. Anders just blinked at him. "No? Well. I suppose that was my mistake. I have to wonder what he was doing in Kirkwall, then, if not to, ah, renew your acquaintance."
Anders sputtered, eyes round. "What? What do you mean… what?"
"Oh, I’m sure it is nothing," Zevran said with a wave of his hand. "Forget I said anything, yes? But, where are my manners?" While Anders continued to sputter, Zevran bowed to the Hawkes and Fenris. "All this talk, and I have not yet introduced myself. My name is Zevran Arainai, adventurer and occasional assassin. At your service." He offered Cormac another wink as he said this. "Here I was, waiting for the Crows to swoop in, and instead I am beset by much more… attractive company. A pair of Hawkes, no less. Much better than Crows, hm?"
Artemis exchanged a look with Cormac. "And… how do you know we’re Hawkes?" he asked warily.
"Slayers of Qunari, Deep Roads explorers, and may I say two fine specimens of manhood? You underestimate your fame! Also, I may have met some friends of yours, when I stopped to trade with the clan down the hill." Zevran smiled wickedly. "The earthquakes sound intriguing. I’m going to have to ask Solona about that, if I ever make it home."
"Oh Maker," Artie groaned, putting a hand up to hide his reddening face. "I am going to kill Theron."
"Now, now, there’s no need for murder. He made you sound nothing but delightful." Zevran continued to smile.
"So, you and Izzy?" Cormac asked. "How’d the two of you meet?"
"How does anyone know Isabela?" Zevran asked, with a dramatic shrug.
"Yes, well, you’ll never know Isabela again, if you keep that up!" Izzy shot back.
"Okay, I want you both to know I am still upset about that night at the Pearl, speaking of ‘knowing Isabela’." Anders crossed his arms and glared down sulkily at Isabela.
"You know, we could solve that problem…" Isabela grinned back up at him.
"No. We can’t. I’m not that young, any more, and we’re short two."
"Worried about keeping up?" Isabela asked.
"Worried about catching up," Anders replied.
"Now, now, there’s no need for this kind of bickering. There’s more than enough of both of us to go around… after we solve this problem I am having with the Crows." Zevran held up a finger, as he said the last.
"Why is it that I think you’re not talking about birds, when you say ‘Crows’?" Fenris asked.
"Possibly because you were paying attention when I said I was from Antiva?" Zevran grinned. "We are the finest guild of assassins, an object of fear throughout the land for any man with wealthy enemies!" Zevran proclaimed.
"And yet, Solona beat your ass in single combat," Anders reminded him.
"She did! And then I married her." Zevran’s smile was anything but apologetic. "Well, I should say ‘they’ are the finest… I am no longer a Crow, a fact they find unacceptable."
"And that’s it? You quit, and they’ve chased you across half of Southern Thedas?" Cormac asked, finding the concept ridiculous, but oddly believable, after everything they’d been through. Templars, magisters, Qunari…
"That is offence enough to the Crows! Believe me!" Zevran barked. "I may have also killed the last four assassins they sent after me. And all their men. Oh! And the Guildmaster," he admitted, after a moment, almost as an afterthought. "In fact, if you were a Crow, you would make a fortune bringing me in! You should consider a career change." He laughed. "No, really."
"Antivan politics," Anders sighed, nodding.
"So, let me guess," Zevran said, folding his arms across his chest as he eyed the Hawkes, "a man named Nuncio has asked you to capture a dangerous killer, yes?" His face twisted in a bitter smile. "What did he say this time? That I killed his wife? Butchered his parents? Sold his children into slavery?" He paused, gauging their reactions. Then his smile sharpened. "Or did he tell you he was a lawman from Antiva, charged with apprehending a ridiculously handsome fugitive?"
"Well, he… didn’t mention the handsome part," Artemis said, earning him a flat look from Fenris. Artie blinked at him innocently.
"Ah, so you’ve noticed," Zevran purred. "I credit my high cheekbones and pouty lips." He heaved a dramatic sigh. "Bring me to Nuncio if you wish, but I warn you: he surely intends to kill you. The Crows do not like loose ends, unlike myself. But you can clearly handle yourselves, yes? Why worry?" He shrugged one shoulder. "So you can either tie me up, gag me, and then manhandle me… or you can take me to Nuncio. Which will it be, I wonder?"
Artemis tried not to think too hard on that. "Er…" He looked between Isabela and Anders. "You two know him best," he said. "What do you think?"
Izzy shrugged. "I’ve had better."
"I think he meant about letting him go or not," Fenris drawled.
"I’d let him go," Anders volunteered. "If he’s hunting Crows, they’ve probably got it coming. That list of options, though… Does it have to be in that order?"
"Ah! But, I’m not offering to you, am I, Warden?" Zevran laughed. "I already know you can’t resist my obvious charms. You never were much for bound and gagged, though. Pity. Howe could’ve used it."
Anders turned several brilliant shades of red and made a wheezing sound that turned into a fart noise as his hand clapped over his mouth. Cormac applauded. Anders replied with a single finger salute, as he attempted to recover his breath. "Were you there for that? I didn’t think you were there for that! I didn’t see you until breakfast, the next week!"
"Of course you didn’t see me. I was occupied." Zevran’s eyebrows lifted suggestively. "Definitely within hearing distance. The lungs on that man, I’m surprised half the city of Amaranthine didn’t hear that. Which they didn’t. I had some friends in town."
"I hope my name was attached to those questions. I’d hate to think I missed the opportunity to have news of my talents spread around by a man renowned for his own skills in the field," Anders drawled, face still red.
"The absurd number of pretty young things turning to watch you pass in the street wasn’t enough of a hint?" Zevran asked.
"Why would that suggest anything out of the ordinary?" Anders shot back, eyes sparkling.
"If I was going to turn him in," Isabela offered, tipping her head toward Artemis, "it would be for this. It’s why he advises the gag. He never stops. But, no, I’d probably let him go."
"Looks like you’re being vouched for," Artemis told Zevran with a shrug. "I don’t think we’re going to hand you over to someone who lied to us."
"The Champion has spoken," Isabela drawled. "Lying is wrong!"
Artie swatted her arm, but she merely cackled. "Besides," Artemis went on, "you’re technically our cousin. Hawkes don’t make it a habit to turn in their family members… unless that Hawke is Anton, and he decides it would be funny."
"As a suggestion," Zevran replied, "you might want to deal with Nuncio. If you don’t, he will only come after you."
"Chasing us while he’s chasing you?" Fenris muttered. "Nuncio is a busy man."
Zevran chuckled and offered them another bow. "It’s been more than a pleasure," he said. "Fare you well." He offered them one last crooked smile and disappeared through the doorway. Anders waved.
"So," Cormac said, after a moment’s pause, "I vote we stop for lunch. We’ll eat, I’ll wash off the blood, and then we can go murder some Crows, what say?"
"That was a foul pun." Fenris grimaced. "You’re lucky I’m married to your brother."
"No, it’s a ‘fowl’ pun," Anders corrected, fluttering his hands to bring out the difference in the words.
"If this pun goes any further, I’m going to stab someone," Fenris declared, and then considered who he was with. "With my sword. The large metal one. It will not be enjoyable."
Isabela pointed at Cormac. "Depends on who you stab!"
"Nope!" Cormac backed up a few steps. "Sword’s a bit much. Sword’s a lot much. Not that into stabbing, really."