[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 338
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Isabela ♀, Sebastian ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Serendipity ⚧
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Blasphemy, magic, dangerous pranks, kidnapping
Notes: A trap is set. Sebastian starts to wonder how he got talked into any of this.
Lusine eyed the group as they walked through the door. "Ah, Lord Dog returns," she said by way of greeting. "Again." Anton dipped into an exaggerated bow. "And with company! Well, that always spells trouble."
"What’s life without a little trouble now and then?" he asked her with a rakish wink.
"Quiet," Lusine replied, resting her hip against the edge of the bar. "And speaking of trouble, your uncle has been running up quite the tab again." Her eyebrows arced delicately.
"Has he?" Anton asked, feigning polite interest. "Then I’m sure he will stop by at some point and pay that off."
"I’m sure," Lusine said in a way that said she wasn’t.
"But don’t let me keep you, Madame," Anton said, already backing away. "I’m just here to collect a friend."
"That’s one word for him," Isabela muttered.
"An old and very dear friend." Something about Cormac’s smile made Lusine wonder if she should send for Anders. Of course, if she sent for him, she’d have to pay him.
"That’s his room, over there." Isabela pointed to a door on the upper storey.
"Anton, you and Chantry boy take her up, and then get out. I trust you can find yourself in the way of the back exit. Bethy and I will sit here and start rumours." Cormac fluttered his fingers at Serendipity, as she came out of the back, with another elf in tow.
"Well well! If Lord Dog hasn’t brought the whole family, this time! Is it another wedding?" Serendipity picked her way across the room and kissed Anton on both cheeks. "Is your sister finally getting married?"
"No, no. No weddings this time. Just a little business with a certain Antivan." Anton wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Can you keep those two busy, while I take care of business?"
"The one upstairs? Be careful. He’s a mean one." Serendipity shook her head, hooking her arm through Cormac’s. "But, I’ll be happy to look after handsome and gorgeous, over here. Have you been as naughty as you look, Messere Hawke?"
"Me? No, no, I leave the naughtiness to my sister." Cormac laughed and led Serendipity and Bethany to a table from which he could see both the stairs and the front door.
Anton paused by Isabela’s side at the top of the stairs. "Are you ready?" he asked.
She drew in a breath. "Yes, I think so. Now, this needs to be convincing." She looked meaningfully at Anton. "And you’ll need to get creative — call me names, even hit me."
"Now, see, that name-calling bit might have been good incentive for Artie to come along, had you mentioned it back home. But don’t worry about me, Izzy. I’ll make it convincing and then buy you a drink after." He pointed at the closed door in front of them. "This one?"
Anton kicked the door open, letting it slam against the opposite wall. It much more dramatic than just picking the lock, judging by the look on Velasco’s — or at least the bearded man he assumed was Velasco — face.
"What—?" Velasco drew back from the scantily clad elf girl he’d cornered against the wall. She ducked out from underneath him, eyes wide like a spooked horse as she darted past Anton. "Get back here, you—!" Velasco sighed in frustration. "Skittish bitch." He eyed Anton up and down and squared his shoulders. "I hope you have a good reason for interrupting my private time," he said, thick Antivan accent softening the words.
"I brought you a new plaything," Anton said with a grin, cocking his thumb at Isabela, over his shoulder. "She’s much less skittish."
Sebastian knew this was all just a game, to make this man give up his boss, but the words still made his skin crawl. Still, he positioned himself in the doorway, crossing his arms.
"Are you insane?" Isabela barked.
"You should see the look on your face," Anton laughed.
"This wasn’t the plan! We were going to kill him!" Isabela grabbed at her daggers, leaning in closer to Anton.
"It’s better this way, darling," Anton purred, tracing a finger down Isabela’s cheek. "I hope you understand."
"How dare you!?" Isabela leapt back, daggers drawn, and spit in Anton’s face. "You backstabbing little shit! You’d better start sleeping with one eye open!"
Two men appeared from elsewhere in the suite, and approached in a way that even Sebastian could have shaken them off, but Isabela put up the illusion of a fight, struggling just enough not to be suspicious.
Velasco seemed to be minding the interruption much less. "Castillon will be pleased," he told Anton, looking terribly pleased himself. "He’s been looking for Isabela for some time." He pressed a heavy pouch into Anton’s hand. "A token of our appreciation. It’s more than she’s worth."
Straightening his clothing, Velasco followed his men — and Isabela’s swearing — out the door. Serendipity looked up curiously as they passed. She leaned in to Bethany. "Isn’t that a friend of yours being manhandled out the door?"
"Izzy? Oh, when is she not being manhandled?" Bethany replied, even as she watched the group. "It was terribly good to see you, Dips." She snatched up her spear. "You really must come over for tea sometime."
"Do feel free to call on us, sometime, while your more … valuable patrons are busy losing their shirts to Lord Dog," Cormac invited, twisting out of the chair and taking his sister’s arm, as they exited together. "They’ll be talking about this for months," he muttered. "Especially so soon after Page Six."
"It’s a good thing mother didn’t live to see this," Bethany sighed, as Anton and Sebastian stepped out of an alley.
"That way." Anton pointed. "I heard them pass just before you."
As they followed the footsteps and the occasional shout of, ‘Put me down you oafs!’ Sebastian spotted the trail they were actually following — splotches and wads of something bright red, stuck to the cobblestones.
"Is that lip rouge?" Bethany asked, after stepping in one.
"She probably palmed the pot on her way out," Anton said, with a nod. "Down the stairs we go. I expect they’re taking the long way around. I can’t imagine he’d be anywhere too far from his ship."
The trail led, unsurprisingly, to the Docks, though it looked like Izzy had started to run out of rouge by the end, the trail tapering off in front of a warehouse door.
"Why is it always warehouses with these people?" Anton muttered, looking around to make sure that was indeed where the trail stopped.
"Is that part of the pirate protocol?" Bethany asked. "Are you taking notes?"
"Excuse me, I’m an Ass-Bandit, not an Ass-Pirate," Anton huffed, pulling a set of lockpicks from his belt and using them to coax the lock open. "You can ask my delightfully dragony husband."
Anton nudged the door open, a dagger already tucked into his palm, but the first room, at least, wasn’t guarded. The second room was empty too, save for a few nasty, serrated surprises that sprang out of the floorboards. "Oh, that looks painful!" Anton said cheerfully.
"That’s… complicated." Sebastian squatted down and took a closer look at the slits in the floor and their accompanying blades.
Behind him, Cormac winked at Bethany and cast a spell, watching the shield settle around Sebastian and then fade out of view. "Well, there’s got to be away to stop it, right? I mean, we have to get in, and obviously so did the folks we’re following. I don’t see enough blood on the floor to think they just marched right through."
Anton shimmied up one of the supports for the loft that ran along one wall. "I think I see a switch over there. I bet you can turn it off!"
"Wha— Me?" Sebastian looked up, stunned.
"Yeah, you. I’m not sending my sister to do it, and you’re the next most likely to fit between the blades." Anton grinned down, wondering how long it would take Sebastian to realise that he was hanging off the loft, which appeared to not be trapped, and stretched the whole length of the room.
"But that’s—" More blades sprang up, and Sebastian turned a ghastly shade of green. "That’s… no. I can’t."
"Well, someone has to." Bethany put on a determined face and made a show of handing her staff to Cormac and stepping up to the edge of the trapped floor.
"What? No." Sebastian took her arm, green face turning grey. "Absolutely not." He looked to her brothers for help but found none. "Fine. Fine! I shall do it." He straightened his shoulders, scraped his nerves together. "The Maker shall protect me." He nodded, as though to reassure himself, before turning to face the whirling blades. His faith would withstand this test.
Sebastian counted his breaths, counted the rhythm of the blades. He waited until he could feel the rhythm in his chest and then sprang into action, murmuring the Chant as he moved. The first set of blades nearly clipped his ankle, while the next nearly shore off his toes. By the time he met the spikes at the end of the hall, Sebastian squeezed his eyes shut, the Chant loud and frantic on his tongue. When he finally opened his eyes, he found himself at the far end of the hall, unscathed.
"Maker be praised," he breathed in awe.
Anton dropped down almost soundlessly from the loft. "Looking for this?" he asked, tugging the lever down and stopping the blades, the spikes retracting into the floor, one last time.
"You… what!?" Sebastian turned a horrified look on Anton. "You— how did you—? You could have gotten around it the whole time, and you made me walk through it anyway? Were you trying to get me killed!?"
"Easy, easy…" Cormac picked his way around the blades to join them, picking a copper coin out of the pouch at his belt. "You weren’t going to get hurt," he said, bouncing the coin off the air in front of Sebastian’s face. He left out the part where the shields wouldn’t have completely prevented the blades from getting through, with enough force, at the right angle. "Have a little faith. The Maker’s turned his eye from the world, but your girlfriend’s family hasn’t."
"Blasphemy," Sebastian snarled, blotting the sweat from his forehead with the back of his wrist. "Blasphemy and magic. I don’t know why I ever expected something different from you."
"I don’t know why, either." Cormac laughed. "Come on, before someone actually gets hurt. Like Izzy."
Sebastian kept grumbling until Bethany reminded him to hush. They were still hoping for the element of surprise, after all, despite Sebastian’s vehement recitation of the Chant moments before.
The door led out onto a balcony, and Anton slipped out first, ducking behind a pillar and poking his head around it. He spotted Izzy on the level below, next to Velasco, who was still looking terribly smug. Their voices drifted up to the Hawkes.
"Why don’t we work something out?" Velasco asked, eyeing Isabela in a way that made clear what he meant by ‘something’. "If you’re good, I’ll tell Castillon to go easy on you."
Isabela scoffed. "Contrary to popular belief, I do have standards.
Velasco’s coaxing tone turned steely. "You’re going to do whatever I want," he said. "I own you."
Anton wondered if he could if he could throw a knife through the man’s eye at this distance. If Izzy stepped a little further away, he might try.
Izzy looked up just then, catching the Anton-shaped shadow and the Hawkes and Sebastian lingering in the doorway.
"Are you sure about that?" she asked with a smug smile.
"You bitch! I knew you were up to something!" Velasco snapped, suddenly alert.