[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 292
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Isabela ♀
Rating: E (L2 N4 S4 V0 D0)
Warnings: The internet is for porn, serious conversations while distracted
Notes: Zevran leaves behind a gift. A rather … questionable gift.
A scream woke Fenris hours later. He sat up, wild-eyed, and reached for a knife that wasn’t there under a pillow that wasn’t there, tattoos flaring threateningly. And then he heard another scream, and his brain caught up.
"Fasta vass," he groaned, grimacing and looking away from the rutting pair on the other side of his mage. "Can’t you shut him up?" Anders threw him a rude gesture and didn’t slow.
Eyes still serenely closed, Artie reached up and tugged Fenris back down onto the bedroll. "Just think of it as background noise," he said, voice gravelly with sleep. "Like… birds chirping or something."
"Amatus, the birds outside our window don’t sound like that unless they are being killed."
Anders took mercy, as Cormac’s breathing picked up, and he muffled the next several blood-curdling shrieks with his own mouth, as Cormac’s fingers tangled in his hair and clutched at his back.
"Mmm," Isabela purred, from elsewhere in the pile of blankets. "This is a delightful vision to wake up to. What do you think, Zev—" She glanced around, but the elf was nowhere to be seen. "Ah, shit. He does that."
She pulled on her boots and got up, knowing he’d have left something behind, like he usually did. And there it was — a roll of parchment tied around a stick jutting from the ground. Odd that he hadn’t set it with a dagger, she thought, until she unrolled it. Inside was a smaller scrap of paper, explaining that he’d found the thing on his way up to the Dalish camp, and couldn’t think of anyone better to leave it with than these delightful mages, who might actually be able to decipher the thing. The scroll itself appeared to be written in blood — fairly fresh blood. That was something Isabela had seen before, from blood magic to threatening letters, and there was no question of what had been used for ink, stains remaining no matter how many times she smeared it. Oddly, the blood seemed to smear, but it soaked back into the page where the letters weren’t.
Cormac and Anders, she knew, were probably going to be useless for another hour or two. At least, if they were with each other anything like either of them was with her. "Artemis?" Isabela sang out, sweetly. "I think you need to see this. I don’t know what it is, but it’s written in blood, and it looks like the kind of thing maybe you’d know what to do with."
Artemis whined, the sound muffled against Fenris’s chest. He sat up groggily, one hand trying to flatten sleep-mussed hair. "‘I don’t know what it is, but it’s written in blood,'" Artie repeated, raising his voice an octave and mimicking Isabela’s accent. He dropped back into his usual register and muttered, "Those are always promising words."
Isabela batted her eyelashes and waved the scroll in his direction. Artemis left his husband’s warmth to take a look.
"Ha. Yes," he said. "That is blood. That is definitely blood." He squinted at the words and read them aloud, "‘Of binding a symptom, no vial can contain you. Two of three, three yourself, asunder. Caged, but still meddling, you will not goad me. Truth will hold you, or it is no longer true.’ Oh, wonderful. An ominous poem written in blood. Lovely parting gift, Zevran."
Izzy’s grin was razor sharp. "You should have seen what he left me last time," she said in a voice that dared Artemis to ask. He was afraid to.
"Right," Artie drawled. He frowned down at the scroll. "Sounds a bit like a riddle, but… I’m not sure what to make of it. This, though. This right here is a map. A bit badly drawn, but a map, nonetheless. Plus a hand-print. From a hand missing part of a finger."
"Ooh, a map?" Isabela said, eyes lighting up as she snatched the scroll back. "Did Zevvy leave us a treasure map?"
Anders groaned and sat up, dripping sweat, with Cormac’s legs still wrapped around him. "I heard ‘blood’ and ‘treasure map’. Whatever this is, it’s a terrible idea."
"Oh, I’m sure you know everything there is to know about the horrors of bloody treasure," Fenris drawled, trying not to be awake until Cormac put clothes on. "We should burn the blankets, when we leave, just to be sure no one uses them to summon demons."
"Can’t use dried blood for that," Anders pointed out, assuming it would be, wrapping one sweaty lock of his hair around the rest and tying it. Long hair, he’d decided, actually looked good on him, if he kept it … well, better than he’d been able to, the last time. He ran his hands over Cormac’s body, stroking and squeezing, regretfully considering ending this interlude now that they’d woken up the whole camp. Somehow, they’d managed to keep it quiet, for a little while, at least.
"Let us see the blighted thing," Cormac groaned, holding his hand out. "It’s got to be more than just that."
"It is. Isn’t this…?" Isabela turned the paper and squinted at it. "Isn’t this the mark that used to be on the crates from the mine?" Isabela passed the page to Cormac.
"Hubert’s family. I heard they used to be some kind of nobles. Never very good at it, but it’s Orlais. Bit funny for a family that’s been traders for long enough to have been named for it, but I guess if you really make a good play in The Game, they’ll drag even tradesmen into the noble ranks." Cormac sat up, shifting his weight in Anders’s lap, and Anders choked on his next breath, catching himself with both hands as he tipped back. "I have to assume my Orlesian isn’t as good as I think it is, because this first part doesn’t make proper sense. ‘Our line is dead, but still walking. I know not if it is because of the old ways, but my three boys are now something other because of want. If He can be called on, I ask you, Scholar, do so, and the price is paid.’ The old ways? Because of want?"
"You’re sure it’s Orlesian? Not the language, but the subject." Anders’s eyes were squeezed shut, his head hanging back as he spoke, and Cormac ground down in his lap. "Sounds Nevarran. But, they tell me the Mortalitasi came from an old Tevinter school, so maybe they were in Orlais, too. Walking dead and maybe a desire demon? Is this a contract to get someone else out of a deal with a demon?"
"Want. Desire." Artemis nodded. "Plus walking dead and — oh. Demons and corpses? That is a bad combination."
Fenris rolled to his feet and peered at the scroll over Cormac’s shoulder. "Revenant?" he suggested. "Arcane horror?"
"And three of… whatever they are," Artie muttered. "Sorry, Izzy. Looks like your map leads less to treasure and more to angry dead people."
"But maybe they’re angry dead people with treasure?" Isabela suggested. "It wouldn’t hurt to check, would it?"
"No, I’m pretty sure it would hurt," Anders sighed, shifting his weight so he had one hand free with which to grope Cormac. "Angry dead people do that."
Fenris tilted his head, eyeing the crude map at the scroll’s bottom. "Where does this lead?" he asked. "Is it somewhere on the mountain?"
"That would explain why Zevran found it," Izzy said, shrugging. "Not that much can explain Zevran, really."
Artemis joined his husband, bumping him with his shoulder and peering at the map over Cormac’s other shoulder, ignoring the fact that his brother was naked and still attached to an equally naked Anders. "That looks… hm. If this is Sundermount, that smudge there, that could be a cave entrance. Hang on. This route looks familiar."
"Wait, that’s a road?" Isabela leaned over Anders’s shoulder, to get a better look at the map — and whatever Anders’s hand was doing to Cormac. She definitely liked that look on him. "If that’s a road and these splotchy things are caves, then there’s a road through two caves and what is that symbol?"
"Buried dead," Cormac panted, struggling to keep at least some focus on the discussion at hand, which was not easy when he was the only one of the five of them naked and impaled, and Anders kept doing… whatever that was, with his fingers. "It’s a graveyard. It’s probably that one at the top of the ridge over the Dalish camp. Or, alternately, it’s some other place on a totally other peak, and we’ve never seen it before, and this map is a couple centuries old, so maybe we never will."
"No, I think you’re right," Fenris muttered, squinting at the lines. "If that’s a road, and that means graveyard, look at the other marks on the map. Two more caves behind the road, this large empty spot where the trees — I assume those are trees — aren’t drawn. That has to be where this is. I would be very surprised, if it were not. But, did we not already do battle with those dead? Perhaps there is nothing left."
"I’m always happy to check for places we might not have dug up and looted! Last time you were all trying so hard not to offend anyone, I could hardly get any treasure hunting done!" Isabela grinned widely, raising her eyebrows suggestively at the Hawkes before her.
Artemis sighed and tilted his head back, shaking his head at what he could see of the sky. "And now we’re robbing graveyards? Lovely."