[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 314
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Aveline ♀, Fenris ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂, Kallian Tabris ♀, Isabela ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Swording jokes
Notes: Ser Marlein strikes again.
"Letter for you, messere." Bodhan tucked it between two bottles on the edge of Cormac’s desk, to avoid too much interrupting his work. "Another from Ser Marlein."
Cormac sighed and rubbed his face, setting the quill on the rest. "Get Anton for me, would you? This is as much his problem as mine."
"As soon as he wakes, messere," Bodhan assured him, knowing Cormac would understand. One didn’t wake Anton unexpectedly, and the gouges in the edge of the door and its frame spoke to why.
Wiping the ink off his hand, Cormac studied the edge of the letter where it jutted from between a stamina potion and a lyrium potion. Same paper, his name written in what looked to be the same hand. Wonderful. Just what he needed in his day. More lunatic templars doing idiot things.
The letter was almost comedic in its avoidance of the point, like a child playing at spies. He gathered, all the same, that there was to be a meeting of the noble forces against Knight-Commander Meredith, and that templar interference was expected. He’d talk to Anton, they’d talk to Cullen, and then he could get back to his accounts — and hopefully some more writing on the subject of the Undercity. Demons caught between rivers of blood — actual, literal rivers, given the size of those channels — were held, since the revolution, by only centuries old promises and lies. Scraps of bloody binding that weakened by the day. A great deal more interesting, he thought, than a fistful of minor nobility, most of whom had probably never held swords in their lives, trying to overthrow the woman who’d all but declared herself viscount.
Eventually Anton shuffled into the doorway, bleary-eyed and scruffy. "Bodhan said you have something for me? Is this important or can I eat first? It’s barely the crack of noon!" The words ‘long night’ went unsaid but understood.
"Eat. You’re going to need it. Maybe pick up a nice box of cakes for your husband, too, because he’s not going to like this." Cormac held out the letter.
Eyeing Cormac warily, Anton took the letter in one hand and yawned into the other. "Oh, what the fuck," he grumbled. "Another letter from this woman?" He was all for undermining Meredith, and Selbrech’s information had been good last time, but Cullen didn’t need to be in the middle of this. And if Anton were in the middle of this, then so was Cullen. "Bodhan!" he called over his shoulder. "What do you think? Is it too early in the day to start drinking? Should I care? Oh, do we have any of that brandy left over from the other night? I could use that."
Anton disappeared down the hall with the letter clutched in his hand, looking for Bodhan, a drink, and food.
"Why am I holding a box of duchess cakes?" Cullen asked, after a moment’s revelry, half a cake already in his mouth. "What did you do, Anton?"
"Why do you always expect I did something?" Anton tried his best to look innocently shocked, but Keran just laughed from behind the stack of files he was putting away. Cullen pinned his husband with a flat look. "Yes, yes, because I usually did. Not this time!" He whipped out the letter and handed it to Cullen. "Ser Marlein requires our assistance again. I’m hoping you can figure out which of your men are involved and … set them to washing chamberpots for the evening."
"Anton, this verges on treason," Cullen sighed, quietly. "If any word of this leaks out… I am personally supposed to ensure there is no violent rebellion against the Order, in Kirkwall. Can you tell me this won’t get violent? Can you tell me they’ll pursue means that aren’t attacks? Because as much as I support the principle, there are means I can’t back, and that means you can’t back them, either."
"I know," Anton said softly. "And I won’t, at least not publicly. In fact, as far as you and I are concerned, I know nothing about this. I’m just an innocent nobleman, visiting my husband. If any of my acquaintances should get involved in this, well — that is merely a coincidence! Even if I’m related to these acquaintances."
Cullen arced an eyebrow at his husband. "‘Innocent’? You? Hardly," he teased. "But… should your acquaintances, related or otherwise, come across anything, I should like to be kept apprised." He wouldn’t approve of this — he couldn’t approve of this — but he could turn a blind eye for one night. And pray that he didn’t regret it.
"Please," Anton said, holding a duchess cake to Cullen’s lips, "I am the Paragon of Virtue."
The duchess cake muffled Cullen’s disbelieving laughter.
Of course Anton couldn’t come along, Cormac reminded himself, as he climbed the endless steps to the keep. This couldn’t be allowed to affect Cullen’s position in any way — after all, they were setting Cullen up to take over, assuming anyone could get rid of Meredith. But, that left him to put together a team that could handle a templar assault, and Anton was really the very best for that. Still, as few mages as possible seemed the way to go. Aveline and Fenris would be a great help, especially Aveline, as the Guard Captain of the city.
He paused at the top of the stairs, panting, much to the amusement of the guard at the door. "Gettin’ old, Messere Hawke," the guard teased.
"It’s just the Warden wearing me out." Cormac laughed, straightening his belt as he made his way into the keep, still grinning. "If you see Donnic, tell him I look forward to putting another dozen silver in his pocket, next week."
"Is he finally winning?" the guard asked, with an amazed chuckle.
"Only from me and Anders, but it’s better than he’s been!"
He found Aveline in her office and explained the situation. "They haven’t given up," he said, finally. "If anything, they’re more intent, now that we’ve had to short their ranks a bit."
"This can’t be allowed to go on, in my city. In any city! It’s not the place of the Templar Order to step into politics! It’s not their business to interfere in the lives of citizens of Kirkwall!" Aveline ranted as she buckled herself into the last of her gear and picked up her sword.
"The non-magical citizens, you mean," Cormac reminded her.
"Mages aren’t citizens, Cormac, your family notwithstanding. And you know that’s going to cave in, one day," she reminded him.
"And that is why everything belongs to Anton, on paper." Cormac smiled blithely.
"A fact which never ceases to amaze and concern me," Aveline sighed. She held the door open for Cormac and locked it behind them.
Next they stopped to pick up the cranky elf, and Aveline was relieved she wasn’t going to be the only sword on this mission. She’d been a meatshield for the mages often enough.
Raucous laughter spilled out into street when Orana opened the door. "Good afternoon, messeres," Orana said around a laugh of her own. "Messeres Far— excuse me. Messeres Fenris and Artemis are entertaining, at the moment, but you are welcome to come inside. I’ll let them know you are here."
"Entertaining?" Aveline repeated, arcing an eyebrow. She tilted her head and listened to the voices, her eyes narrowing. "I know that obnoxious laugh. Having Isabela in your house counts as ‘entertaining’ now, does it?"
"She entertains me well enough," Cormac replied with an entirely lecherous grin. "Besides, don’t start that, you like her." He elbowed Aveline and called after Orana, "Make sure Fenris brings his sword! The one he doesn’t light up and stick in my brother!"
"You’re just as bad as she is," Aveline groaned, turning away and covering her face.
"This is news?" Cormac shot her a quizzical look.
"I’d bring my sword, too, but your brother’s already borrowing it!" a voice called out from the other room.
"Theron?" Cormac laughed. "Holy balls, what are you doing in town!"
"Do you need to ask that question?" Theron called back.
"Hiiiii, Cormac!" And that would be Kalli.
"Creators," Cormac sighed. "Keep your hands off my little brother, ladies! We’ll only be gone a couple of hours!"
"Where exactly, am I going, that involves leaving my husband alone with two half-naked women and a drunken Dalesman? I should tell you I’m not going anywhere, but I know you wouldn’t be here if you thought you could do this without me. And I won’t be responsible for letting you get killed. I suspect I might not have a husband any longer at all, if I did that, more’s the pity, some days," Fenris grumbled, stalking through the front hall on the way to get his sword.
Aveline’s face twisted, like she’d sucked on a lemon. "I did not need to hear more than half of that," she said. "And I needed to picture even less."
Artemis poked his head through the doorway. Aveline couldn’t tell from this angle, but she prayed he was wearing pants. She could see the sleeve of his tunic, at least, and that was promising. "Yes, where are you taking my husband?" he asked. "And do you need anyone else?"
"Templar business," Aveline said. "As in, business potentially concerning templars. So one mage — and one Hawke — is enough." She pointed her thumb at Cormac. "More than enough, where my sanity is concerned."
Fenris hummed in agreement.
Artie’s expression sobered, and he leaned against the door-frame. Oh good. He was wearing pants. "Templars? Should I be concerned?" he asked, looking from her to Cormac.
"Yes," Cormac said, looking more than a little grim. "But, not about me. Not today. Worry about Anton. This city’s going to go up in flames, if this keeps up. We’ll figure it out. I mean, we’re Hawkes, right? Take more than this to keep us down."
"Yes, it’ll take one of them actually smiting you and dragging you off to the Gallows," Aveline sighed. "Come on. Let’s get this over with, before we lose anyone important’s relatives."
"You know, you could try arresting them," Cormac suggested. "There are two of you with swords. Maybe we could bring along the Hightown patrol for backup? Things might end more reasonably if we had more to show than corpses."
"Or that could get us all killed," Fenris pointed out. "I’m little interested in showing kindness to anyone with a sword pointed at my chest." He paused a moment and held up a finger in Artie’s direction, without looking. "Don’t."
"I didn’t say anything!" Artie said innocently. "Just… get your sword back here safely. Both swords."
Aveline gave them all another pained look. "I’m leaving before there are any more sword puns," she said, turning on her heels and walking out the door.
Artemis huffed. "As if the sword puns stop when you leave the house," he drawled. He gave Cormac and Fenris each a fond smile, said, "Try not to kill each other," and disappeared back into the room with Izzy, Theron, and Kalli.
"I make no promises," Fenris said, throwing a teasing smirk in Cormac’s direction. He followed Aveline, still fussing with his baldric.