[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 323
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Merrill♀, Carver Hawke ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Elfy humour, dick jokes, dorky elf kids making trouble
Notes: Merrill’s still having trouble with the eluvian. Carver goes with her back up the mountain to see Marethari.
Merrill was leaning against the frame of her magic mirror, when Carver came in from the market. He’d taken the afternoon to come visit, and brought an abundance of those little pies Merrill liked and something exciting from the noodle shop. Certainly Merrill could cook, but Carver had never really gotten the hang of it, beyond sandwiches, so he brought food that was already cooked, most of the time.
Still, as he set down the basket, she looked disturbed. Maybe even upset. "Merrill?"
"Carver, vhenan, I need to ask a favour. I thought the arulin’holm would be the last thing I needed, but the eluvian still won’t work." Merrill turned away from the mirror, looking uncertain, but determined. "I think… I think I have to go back to the… spirit that helped me at the start of all this."
Carver took a moment to process the sentence. "The tool didn’t fix the mirror, so you need to go talk to the … spirit … who helped you out last time. Why do you think he’s going to help you again?" His face creased in concern.
"He knows about the mirror. I don’t know how much. He wouldn’t tell me everything, and it’s dangerous to trust…" Merrill looked like she knew the dangers, a sickly pinch at the corners of her eyes, but she meant to go on. "He said he witnessed its forging. He told me how to cleanse it of its corruption. He must know how to make it work."
"What’s it supposed to do?" Carver asked. "I never quite understood. You all start talking magical theory and it goes right over my head."
"Well, look at it! Do you think it’s supposed to just sit there and show nothing at all? I can feel the power in it. It’s like it’s asleep, but I can’t seem to wake it." Merrill shook her head, sadly. "Anders says the Tevinters wrote about them being used to communicate across great distances. Imagine the power in being able to send messages instantly — no more difficult to speak to someone on Sundermount than if they were in the next room."
"Summoning a demon can’t possibly be the only way to fix the mirror. Someone else must know something." Carver took Merrill’s hands in his own. "And even if it’s not a demon, even if it’s just a spirit — what’s ‘just a spirit’? Look at Anders. I don’t… I want better for you."
Merrill smiled softly, if sadly, up at Carver. "The eluvian was lost before Arlathan fell," she said. "The only creatures who would know anything about it are in the Fade." She sucked in a breath. "I’ve called to the spirit, but he doesn’t seem to hear. He was sealed in an artefact in Sundermount. I have to look for him there." Carver opened his mouth to protest, but Merrill squeezed his hands in hers. "I need you there with me, Carver. If things go wrong… if he possesses me, I need you to strike me down."
Carver’s blood ran cold. He wanted to argue, wanted to with every fibre of his being, but that was his duty, wasn’t it? Not just as her boyfriend but as a templar. If it came to that…
He wouldn’t let it come to that.
"You want to summon a demon that may possess you, then have me kill you?" Carver said, almost too calmly. "How is that a plan?"
"I don’t have a choice," Merrill said, shaking her head. "Please do this for me. There’s no one else I trust. Lethallin, please… come with me. I don’t want… anything bad to happen." She stood tall, proud, but her voice shook on that last word.
"Let’s go to Marethari. Maybe there’s an alternative to summoning the demon," Carver suggested.
"The Keeper would never help me," Merrill noted, pointedly. "Why do you think I had to find the demon in the first place? She’ll never see us, anyway. Not after the last time. Poor Pol! I just can’t help but think—"
Carver put his arms around her. "We’ll go. We’ll go up the mountain, and I’ll protect you. Maybe Marethari will see me, even if she won’t see you. We can stop and see Theron and the kids, right? He still likes you." He tried very hard not to consider how much Theron liked his brother… either of his brothers, and that was an even more horrifying thought.
Merrill slipped her hand into Carver’s the moment she spotted the edge of the camp, the pair of scouts guarding the path. All these years later, it was still difficult to come back, to see the distrust in the eyes of her clansmen. Former clansmen, technically, and that was difficult too.
Carver didn’t comment. He merely squeezed her hand back and ignored the stares.
"The hunters chased away another one last night," muttered one of the elves.
"Too many shemlen are coming here," another responded. Carver’s jaw tightened. "We have to move soon."
"Can’t you talk to the Keeper?" asked the first one. "Reason with her?"
"I tried. She’s made up her mind."
Merrill’s brows knit as she listened while pretending not to. Why were they still here, halla or no?
"Is that a Hawke I see?" called out a familiar voice. Theron’s beaming smile was a welcome reprieve. "Ah, Ser Hawke!"
"My brother isn’t with me," Carver told him upfront, and Theron almost managed to hide his disappointment.
"Make her stop pinching me!" came a high-pitched shout from off in the trees, and two elven children ran toward them, one of them laughing and grabbing at the other, who wrapped around Theron’s leg, trying to keep it between them.
"You remember how we had kids?" Theron said to Merrill, reaching down to pick up the pinching girl. "Now we have more. Fenris managed to smuggle them out of Tevinter — I didn’t ask too much — but, he … he’s not so good with them." He laughed. "He and Artemis were trying to climb each other to get away from them, by the time Kalli and I got there. It’s a good thing Orana and Cormac seemed to know what they were doing, because those two were useless."
"How, exactly…?" Carver crouched down next to the other child, still looking up at Theron.
"Oh, we just took mercy on everyone involved. The clan’s enough to handle them all." Theron grinned, watching the boy at his feet poke at Carver’s ears.
Carver allowed it, mostly undisturbed. He’d missed out on having younger siblings, but this little elf reminded him of when he was young and Bethany used to chase him around the yard. "You know what you need?" he asked the boy. "You need a sword."
"Uncle Theron has a sword," the boy said, one hand still on Theron’s leg and the other patting at Carver’s ear. "Did somebody cut your ears? How come they’re short?"
Carver laughed. "They’re short because I’m not an elf. Elves have long ears." He reached out and ruffled the boy’s hair. "You should ask your Uncle Theron to teach you how to use a sword. If you get good, nobody will be able to pinch you. You can just poke them, if they try." He poked the boy in the ribs, with one finger, and the kid laughed. Cute, really. For the first time, he wondered if he and Merrill — but he was a templar, and the Maker only knew what the lyrium would do…
Merrill hid her smile behind her hand, but it still shone in her eyes. "And how does Kalli feel about this?" she asked.
Theron shrugged and gave her a lop-sided smile. "She says I’m practically a big child anyway, and next to me, the rest of them are easy to deal with."
"It’s good to see new life in the clan," Merrill said, knowing Theron would understand. Their clan had been getting smaller over the years, especially after the Blight, the trek to Sundermount. And Theron was Paivel’s apprentice. He’d make sure the children understood the Dalish traditions.
"So what brings you up here?" Theron asked. The little girl on his hip tugged at his hair, but he didn’t react. "I don’t suppose it was just to visit our little menagerie?" He looked down at Carver, who looked up at Merrill, who looked at everything but the two of them.
"That would certainly make this a much more pleasant visit," Merrill said, tipping her head regretfully. "I… actually need to speak with the Keeper about something."
"Oh, that sounds serious." Theron set the little girl back down, after pressing a kiss to the crown of her head. "Is it serious? The varterral isn’t back again, is it?"
"Elgar’nan, I hope not!" Merrill protested, eyes round.
"It’s a little serious," Carver admitted. "She’s still trying to get that magic mirror working. Is that true, then? That she’d be able to talk up the mountain, without leaving the house?"
"That’s what the stories say." Theron shrugged. "But, I think we’d have to have one up here, too. Of course, if she gets it working, that might mean we could make one up here." He looked back at Merrill. "You know the Keeper’s not going to like this, don’t you? Whatever you’re asking for, maybe you shouldn’t tell her what it’s for. She’s gotten… I think she fears the wrong things. Look at us — we’re still here! At this rate, we should build a town! She’s not right, Merrill. And we have no one to take her place. So, please, be careful what you say to her. Maybe I should go with you to see her."
"Theron, if you get kicked out of the clan, what’s going to happen to all these children? No, no. Just let me see her. There’s nothing more she can do to me." Merrill shook her head.
"Well, I’d love to, but… She’s wandered into the mountains, again. I don’t know where she goes." Theron shrugged. "But, you should stay with us, for the night, and you can see her in the morning, when she comes back down. At least you’ll have had time to eat and sleep, before you have to talk to her."
Merrill sighed through her nose, rubbing her forehead just over her right eye. Of course Marethari wasn’t here. She didn’t know if she could stand the clan’s furtive stares for a night and a morning, but with Theron…
"Thank you, Theron," she said, conjuring a smile. "Would that be all right, Carver, or does the Order need you back before then?"
Carver shook his head. "Not until tomorrow night, they don’t," he said. And even if not, he could put up with a few days of cleaning the latrines as punishment if he had to. "But I’m not eating any pickled nuts. Or whatever that was you ate the night before my brother’s wedding. I still have nightmares about that."
Theron sighed dramatically. "You sound just like my wife," he said. "Is this what living in a city does to people? Destroy their sense of taste?"
"Would explain your wife’s taste in men," Carver said with a teasing grin as he straightened. Theron laid a hand over his chest as though struck.