[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 339
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Isabela ♀, Sebastian ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Bran Cavin ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence
Notes: A deal gone sideways. Death, death, and trouble with the locals. Seneschal Bran would kill for an aspirin.
Sebastian didn’t wait for Velasco to figure out where they were, putting a shot through his neck, as the man glanced around the room, looking for them. Cormac cocked his head at Isabela, gesturing her away from the raiders converging on the spot where Velasco had fallen. A moment later, the room filled with lightning.
Whatever Castillon’s crew had been expecting, it hadn’t included mages, and the fear of magic alone drove a handful of them out. Several more fell to arrows and bolts of lightning. An archer collapsed onto a crate, and the floor shifted, jets of fire shooting out of the wall.
"Anton?" Bethany asked, sweeping her hand toward the mayhem below them, with obvious pauses at the flames currently devastating the lower level of the warehouse.
"I’ll get it," Anton volunteered, leaping over the balcony rail and plunging into the smoke and bodies below. "Nobody shoot me, okay? I’m looking at you, Sebastian!"
Cormac drew a breath, fingers curling, and the air around Anton rippled.
"Thank you!" Anton called out, as if he’d been wondering how long that would take. Anton paid no mind to the chaos of magic and arrows raining down on him from all sides as he raced towards one fire jet. "Miss me?" he asked the familiar shape lurking just to the side.
"Terribly," Isabela replied as he fiddled with the trap.
The next jet of fire warmed the side of Anton’s face before stopping altogether. His crow of victory turned into a squawk when an arrow whizzed by his cheek instead. "Dammit, Sebastian," he muttered. "What did I just say?"
"Not Sebastian," Isabela informed him, turning one knife over in her hand. The knife shot through the air, catching the archer between the eyes. Izzy smiled beatifically. "Is that better?"
"You make everything better, Izzy." Anton winked at her. "Well, except when you managed to set the Qunari on the city. I think that counts as making things worse. How about interesting? You make everything more interesting, which is good, because things had been getting pretty boring without you around."
"For extra interest, Velasco already sent for Castillon. He’s on his way." Isabela pried open the crate beside her with a dagger. "But, let’s have a look around, before he gets here. I want to know why he’s in Kirkwall."
Anton busied himself emptying the pockets of the dead, until he found Velasco’s body, and a key. "I wonder what this opens. Doesn’t look like it’s to a room at the Rose…"
Cormac followed his sister down to the floor of the warehouse, and Sebastian brought up the rear of the procession. And there was a joke about Sebastian and rears, but Cormac didn’t want to think too much about it.
"There’s a door over here!" Bethany called out to Anton and Isabela. "We should make sure no one else is here, or they’ll come up behind us."
Anton toed the door open, knife in hand, but found the room empty save for shipping crates and a chest tucked into one corner. "Oh look. A locked chest." He turned to Isabela. "And you have a key. You know what would be convenient? If that key unlocked that chest."
Izzy grinned, waving the key as she passed. The lock clicked open a moment later. "How nice," she drawled, pushing aside the cracked shield, a shield that was weighing down a sheaf of documents. She thumbed through them, eyebrows creeping up as she skimmed. "So Castillon’s looking to expand his slaving business," she scoffed, lip curling. "Why am I not surprised?"
Sebastian’s face darkened. "Slavers? Here? That cannot be allowed."
Behind them, wooden stairs creaked, and Bethany turned, hefting her staff. "Izzy," she said, her tone a warning.
Tucking the documents into her boots, Isabela poked her head out into the main room, her other hand drawing a dagger again.
"And Velasco told me you were all tied up, a lovely present just waiting to be opened," drawled the man walking down the steps. Armed men and leashed dogs followed in his wake. "I see he’s paid for that little mistake. What a pretty smear he makes." He looked around at the bloody and charred corpses, smiling politely all the while.
Sebastian fell back into the shadow of the door and nocked an arrow. A slaver, even one who only dealt in elves — which this one didn’t — could not be permitted to continue his business under the Chantry’s eye. After all, did not the elves rise up to help Andraste take Minrathous? He considered not killing the man, leaving room for redemption and forgiveness, as Holy Andraste commanded. But, the temptation to put an arrow through this beast’s eye was nearly overwhelming. And that was what demons drew on, wasn’t it? Desire. But, he had no fear of demons. No need to fear demons. He was certain in his faith and pure in his conviction, wasn’t he?
"Well played, Isabela. Crossed and double-crossed." Castillon smiled appreciatively.
"You want to talk? Maybe we should talk about these documents." Isabela rattled the sheaf. "Slavery in the Free Marches? They’re not going to like that."
"Get to the point," Castillon hissed, suddenly acutely aware of the ill turn things had taken.
"Give me your ship and your word to leave me alone," Izzy replied, "and you can take these papers and go."
Anton tilted his head, turning one ear directly Isabela’s way. "I’m sorry, what?" he said, an edge under his pleasant tone and smile. "My hearing must be going. That almost sounded like we were going to let the slaver who’s been hunting you for years go, which isn’t what you meant at all, I’m sure."
"He sells people for money," Sebastian said, finger flexing on his bowstring. "He can’t be trusted."
Izzy started to respond, but Anton was quicker. "Ah, I see you misheard as well, Sebastian. Well. Just to clear things up for everyone. Castillon, serah, what my lovely friend here meant is that if you give her your ship, we won’t kill you."
Sebastian wasn’t sure, but he thought Anton might have put extra emphasis on the word ‘we’.
Castillon eyed Anton speculatively but addressed Isabela. "Give me the documents, and you can have the ship," he told her. "And you will never hear from me again."
Isabela handed the documents to Cormac. "Give him the deed to your ship. If you’re not carrying it, write out the transfer, sign it with witnesses, and then give it to him. I’m not handing anything to you without knowing my interests are secure."
"You wound me! I’m a businessman! I’d never do anything to harm my reputation as an honest purveyor of goods!" Castillon pressed a hand to his chest.
"And really, that’s where we differ." Isabela laughed. "I’m a pirate. I wouldn’t trust me, and I’m not sure I trust you. Not at this distance."
Bethany appeared with writing implements from the office.
"But, you’ll let the little noblewoman near me?" Castillon joked, taking the blank paper and leaning against a pillar to write.
"The little noblewoman is far more dangerous than either of us," Isabela pointed out.
"The little noblewoman is my fiancée, the Lady Amell. Can we not talk about her like she’s bought and paid for?" Sebastian protested.
"Your…?" Bethany raised an eyebrow at him.
"I… that is… er…" Sebastian sputtered. "Marry me, Bethany! Please? I’d go down on my knees, but it’s not really the time and place for that." His arms were perfectly still, the arrow still aimed at Castillon.
"Will you return to Starkhaven? Will you fulfil your family’s duty, and do the work the Maker set aside for you?" Bethany asked, eyeing him, as the scratch of pen on parchment continued.
"I will. You know I will. I just… can’t leave Elthina to fend for herself, in the midst of this crisis. I could no more leave my own grandmother." Sebastian’s eyes never left Castillon. "I will bring the faith back to the people, and I will bring you with me as well. You will be my Princess-Consort."
"Then I will marry you, Prince Sebastian. After this crisis." Bethany smiled at her brothers. "See, mum always said I’d marry a prince, one day!"
Anton exchanged a look with his brother. He wasn’t exactly surprised — if anything, he was surprised Sebastian had waited this long. "You know what this means, don’t you?" he asked. "Another Hawke wedding. If it’s anything like the last two, we should all probably come armed."
"It won’t be like the last two!" Sebastian protested, alarm brightening his blue eyes. "It will be a perfectly peaceful and lovely celebration!"
"Where’s the fun in that?" Izzy asked, teeth bared in a grin but eyes glued to Castillon.
"There!" Castillon finished with a flourish, handing the quill and paperwork back to Bethany. "Our business is hereby concluded. Be well, Isabela—"
"Concluded?" Anton parroted, putting a hand to his chest in mock surprise. "Oh, no, no, no. You’ve been caught trying to smuggle slaves through Kirkwall, and you’re going to need to answer for that. I have a good friend who, I am sure, would love to meet you."
Castillon’s pleasant smile shrank. "What? We had an agreement!" He pointed an accusing finger Izzy’s way.
"Yes, which is why you’re not dead yet," Anton replied.
"I said I’d let you walk away. He said they’d let you live. The fact that you’ve run afoul of the natives is none of my concern." Isabela smiled. "I told you that you were doing business with a pirate. A pirate with some very unusual and limitedly law-abiding friends."
"You’ll never get a crew again!" Castillon shouted, lunging for Isabela.
Sebastian fired at the same moment the barrier rose around Castillon, and the arrow bounced off the outside as Castillon bounced off the inside.
"Sorry!" Cormac shrugged at Sebastian. "It’s a reflex."
"Where are you thinking of taking him?" Sebastian asked Anton, after a moment’s pause. "And how are we getting him there?"
Anton shrugged, hearing Bethany’s fan crack open behind him. "I was going to drag him before the Seneschal. I think the penalties for slavery are still pretty stiff in the Marches. We never really forgave the Tevinter occupation, you know?"
Inside the bubble, Castillon collapsed, unconscious.
"You keep him down, and I’ll carry him?" Cormac offered to his sister, lowering the barrier.
Seneschal Bran had a headache, the kind that sat between his eyes and gnawed at his skull. The kind that got worse every time the idiot Orlesian in front of him spoke… and he spoke constantly. Eventually Bran managed to charm the Orlesian idiot into leaving him alone, but when a trio of Hawkes filled his doorway instead, he knew his headache was only beginning.
Bran managed not to groan or to take cover behind the ficus in the corner. Instead, he straightened, hands clasped behind his back, and greeted the Hawke with whom he was most familiar. "Good day, Champion," he said, smiling a politician’s smile. "How might I assist you?"
"Good afternoon, Seneschal!" Anton replied with a great deal more cheer. "We have brought a dastardly criminal in need of your judgement!"
"Dastardly?" repeated a voice belonging to someone outside of Bran’s line of sight, a voice with an Antivan accent. "That’s a bit much, don’t you think?"
"I see," said Bran guardedly. He didn’t recognise that voice, which was a good thing. That meant Anton wasn’t dragging Meredith before him or any such thing. "Just who is this dastardly criminal and what dastardly crime has he committed?"
"It seems he was engaged in the slave trade, right here in Kirkwall. Probably piracy, as well. Imagine! A slave-trading pirate, right here on our doorsteps!" Anton clapped a hand to his chest and then stepped in to drop a stack of papers on Bran’s desk. "And we have proof written in his own hand."
"And he’s responsible for the Qunari invasion, too," Isabela threw in, from somewhere still outside the room.
"I object! I was not! That was your doing!" Castillon insisted. "And if I’m to be taken to task for my business choices, she should be, as well!"
"I was involved," Isabela admitted, leading the rest of the group into the room. "I was involved because I was working for this man out of fear for my life, but I ruined his plans and the goods have been returned to the owners. There wasn’t really much I could do there." She leaned against the wall and studied Bran’s face across her fingernails.
"If you hang him, we should bring Fenris along to the execution," Bethany noted, contemplatively, a smile creeping across her face. "We can get those spiced nuts from that Nevarran merchant and watch the whole spectacle. I think it’d put a smile on his face. If I knew it was going to end like this, I’d have insisted on bringing him along!"
"Hanging?" Castillon sputtered, paling. "That is completely out of proportion! A stern warning, perhaps, and I shall change my ways, I promise."
Bran shuffled through the paperwork, his face a cypher, and he took his time while Castillon sweated. Castillon glanced desperately behind him, but Sebastian moved to block the doorway, arms folded across his chest and eyes daring him to try something. Most of Sebastian still wanted to put an arrow through the villain’s eye, but a hanging, he supposed, would serve just as well.
Bran rubbed at his headache, the pad of his middle finger moving in circles along his forehead. "I will need to look this over," he said. "These are grave charges. Guards!" A pair of guardsmen poked their heads in the door, and Bran gestured at Castillon. "Lock him up, if you please." He yawned into one fist as they obeyed, frog-marching the sputtering Antivan out of his sight. "I suspect there will be a hanging by week’s end," Bran told Bethany with a careless shrug.
"Send a runner, won’t you?" Bethany asked. "I wouldn’t miss it for the world."