[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 297
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Natia Brosca ♀, Nathaniel Howe ♂,
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, dwarf jokes, nobody likes being underground
Notes: Venturing down to the thaig no one ever wanted to see again, this time with more caution and a different dwarf.
"You’re idiots," said Varric. "You want to go back down there? Because we had such a grand time last time?" He laughed nervously. "No thanks. I’m not in a hurry to end up like my brother, thank you, or like the pile of bones I almost ended up because of my brother. Sorry, boys. You’ll have to get another dwarf."
Anton leaned his elbow on the back of Varric’s chair. "But, Varric," he wheedled, "what other dwarf is as clever, fun, and beardless as you?"
"No one, of course." Varric bent over his scroll again. "Though Natia is a close second. At least with the clever and the fun part. She does have a bit of fuzz on her chin, though, if you look closely." He ran a hand over his jaw as he spoke. "She’ll go with you. Just be sure to mention Shouty’s coming."
"Really?" Anton eyed Varric in disbelief. "You think she’s… That’s ridiculous! That’s my brother! And on top of that, he’s human!"
"Careful, Stabby, someone might think you’re not," Varric teased, poking at Anton’s face with the end of the next document in the pile. "And quit leaning on my chair before anybody starts questioning your intentions toward me. I’d hate to see that get back to Cullen."
"Lord Dog is not interested in buggering the worst dwarf in creation, thank you, and I trust most sane people to have figured that out." Anton grabbed the rolled paper in his teeth. "If that was going to happen, it would have happened years ago. What can I say? I move quick, like a man of my talents should."
"Is that a fact?" Anders asked, drily, one eyebrow arcing upward. "I’m surprised I haven’t heard more complaining from Cullen. You know, I think I have a potion for that, if you need some help."
Cormac turned around and coughed into his hand, not to laugh. After a minute of trying to remember how to breathe, he eyed Varric. "Really? She’s actually interested? I thought she was just flirting because I was there."
"Well, she wasn’t exactly hitting on me or Anton," Anders pointed out.
"I think that’s the first time I’ve ever had a dwarf take an actual interest. Not that I’ve been trying. I also don’t spend that much time with dwarves, on the whole. Maybe I should." Cormac tugged his beard, speculatively.
"Don’t," Varric advised. "Most dwarves really don’t want anything to do with surfacers, except if you’re paying them for something."
"Okay, so, now that we’ve established that I’ll be spending this trip to the Deep Roads listening to my brother scream his head off all night, every night, can we get going?" Anton asked, spitting out the scroll and straightening up.
"Well, I’m joining you, aren’t I?" Anders asked with an innocent smile. "The screaming was a given."
Natia, it turned out, was thrilled to be asked along. She said she was curious about the thaig and its architecture, but now Anton couldn’t unsee the way she eyed Cormac.
Fenris, on the other hand, was less thrilled, but that might just be because the baker down the road was out of apple tarts. Fenris, Anton discovered, was not a fan of strawberries. Luckily, Anders was, so the box didn’t go to waste.
The taste of strawberry tart on his tongue helped Anders chase back thoughts of the deep and the dark and where they were heading. Most of the expedition was still a blank spot in his memory, and he had been content to keep it that way. But the red glow that suffused crumbling floors and solid, dwarven columns was like an itch on his brain. "Nate better appreciate this," he grumbled, walking close by Cormac’s side.
Cormac put his arm around Anders, kneading the still-sharp jut of Anders’s hip. "I’d be happy to appreciate you for him, if he doesn’t. Maybe even in front of him. Because if he doesn’t appreciate both this and you, he obviously needs a reminder."
"We haven’t even been down here an hour, and the two of you are starting already?" Anton complained.
"It’s either this or Justice, and I know which one I prefer," Cormac warned, eyes settling on his brother.
"Oh, stop," Anders muttered, not talking to either of the Hawkes. "No. No, I am not, you are not, we are not saying that. What are you taking lessons from Oghren?"
Natia looked up. "Oghren? You mean that drunkard who married Paragon Branka?"
Anders looked up, having been unaware he was speaking aloud. Usually, he didn’t, when he was talking to Justice. That or Cormac just didn’t tell him about it. "Yeah, did you know him? He became a Grey Warden. We used to drink together, in Amaranthine."
"A Warden? Oghren?" Natia looked horrified, using the shift in the conversation to walk closer to Cormac. "Are you sure it was really him? I mean, not just some surfacer claiming to be the husband of a Paragon?"
"Solona — that’s Warden-Commander Solona Amell, Cormac’s cousin — dragged this guy out of a tavern in Orzammar. I’m pretty sure it’s the right guy. Apparently they went looking for Paragon Branka, too, but neither of them would talk about how that ended up. I guess they’re not together any more, though, Oghren and Branka. He’s got somebody else now. And a kid, too."
"Oghren. With a kid. Are you sure?" The horror didn’t leave Natia’s face. If anything, it took a deeper hold.
"I am so very sure. I was almost that little dwarfling’s godfather. Or whatever you call it when you don’t have gods." Anders grinned. "And then Oghren found some sense, and picked an actual dwarf. I mean, to be fair, he was pretty drunk when he picked me, but I was pretty drunk, too."
"I was under the impression that there wasn’t any other kind of Oghren," Natia drawled.
"Sounds like a charming fellow," Anton muttered distractedly, poring over the map in the red glow. All dwarf architecture looked the same to him, but Natia gasped every now and then, tugging at Cormac’s sleeve and pointing out details.
"Now that’s real dwarf craftsmanship," she said, swelling with pride. She grinned at Anders. "Not like that pseudo-dwarven stuff we found under the Chantry. See? The way that stone connects to the archway there…"
Anders nodded indulgently. Her excited rambling was, at least, another pleasant distraction from the dark.
"Nah, look, she’s right," Cormac said, pinching Anders. "You remember when we were in that fuckawful pit of Blight and demons, with a magister on top? What’s under the Chantry looks like the upper floors. This looks like it did down below."
"A fuckawful pit of Blight and demons?" Natia asked, after a moment. "That sounds… ah, should I even ask what you were doing there, or is pursuing adventure into the depths of the Deep Roads just something the two of you do?"
"It was a family holiday," Anton grumbled. "A visit to our father’s last great work."
"Don’t ever go on holiday with the Hawkes," Fenris advised. "It always ends this way."
"That wasn’t his last great work. Bethany was his last great work," Cormac argued, snatching the last tart from the box and offering it to Natia.
"Your sister?" Natia asked, completely confused. "What does a dwarven-style … pit of Blight and demons have to do with your father’s work and why would your sister compare?"
"You have met my sister, haven’t you? The only way I can imagine her more terrifying is as a Warden. Which our father wasn’t, but he did some work for them, up in the Vimmarks. Ancient dwarven surface settlement, apparently. Built to contain… something. I don’t really know what, but after hearing that it turned people into liquid, I didn’t really want to know." Cormac shuddered. "And then I guess Tevinter put up a tower, there, while they still occupied the Marches."
"I want to see it," Natia decided.
"No you don’t," Anders said, shaking his head emphatically. "That, I promise you, is one place I am definitely never setting foot in again, thank you."
"How many times have you said that about the Deep Roads, I wonder?" Fenris grumbled. Anders’s scowl didn’t faze him.
"Still want to see it," Natia insisted. "And the more you say I don’t, the more I want to." She smiled serenely up at Anders. He wondered if this was how she reacted to Varric’s stories of the Primeval Thaig.
They walked for days through the stillness, amidst the glow of red lyrium and crumbling stone. The first sign of life they found was the sound of battle, roars of rage and shrieks of pain over the clang of metal.
Anders’s knuckles tightened on his staff. "Darkspawn up ahead," he said. His eyes flickered blue before settling back on brown.
"Of course," Fenris muttered, drawing his sword boredly. "It wouldn’t be the Deep Roads without darkspawn. You owe me more than apple tarts after this, Anton."
"I’ll buy you drinks until you forget even coming down here," Anton offered, knives appearing in his hands.
"Done." Fenris nodded.
"And I’ll put the next one through your other eye!" a ragged voice shouted from in front of them.
"Howe!" Anders called out, hands already filled with brilliant glowing cold. "By me!"