[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 346
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cullen ♂, Keran ♂, Ser Thrask ♂, Ella ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, Fenris glows murderously, do not screw around in supply closets in the Gallows
Notes: Fenris finishes the fight Cormac started. Later, Thrask discovers the incredible benefits of knocking.
"Anders, my darling friend," Anton groaned a few hours later. "Wisest of warlocks, most magnificent of mages —"
"What do you need, Anton?" Anders sighed without breaking stride.
"A bit of healing? I suspect that chowder was in league with the slavers." Anton rubbed his stomach. "Treachery."
"Which is why I’m glad you didn’t invite me along for that part," Fenris drawled, following at Anton’s heels. "That, and chowder is disgusting in general." Fenris thought he knew every inch of this city by now, but he didn’t remember ever coming down this alley. Perhaps he had been too busy trying to avoid the stench of fish.
Anders threw some healing in Anton’s direction without even thinking about it. "I’ll have you know that my chowder was perfectly agreeable, delicious, and has not yet tried to mutiny."
"Chowder that only rebels against non-magical consumers," Cormac agreed. "The chowder of the mage rebellion."
"Some days, I think we’re the last ones left. That only we survived and didn’t turn to demons," Anders sighed. "Which, yes, would make that the chowder of the mage rebellion, since neither of us is sick from it."
"That or the cook’s just got some stupid grudge against the Champion of Kirkwall," Cormac suggested, raising shields for all of them, as something moved, further down the alley.
"It’s not poison. If it were poison, that would necessitate a different spell."
"It is fish," Fenris muttered. "Is that not enough?"
"What do you have against fish?" Anton asked, offended on their behalf.
"The same thing that chowder has against you, I imagine," Fenris replied, blade gleaming as he drew it out of its sheath. An arrow plinked off his shield, another off Anton’s, and they both darted deeper into the alley, Anton into the shadows while Fenris drew most of the fire. With a dying gurgle, one archer fell and then another, Anton’s dagger darting between ribs and across throats.
"Come out!" Fenris roared, voice filling the alley, sword held wide in a challenge. "You were looking for me, weren’t you? Well, come get me!"
The air around him rippled, the stink of magic twice as thick for a moment before dissolving altogether, taking Fenris’s shield with it. On instinct, he stepped into the Fade, the next arrow shooting through him without harming him.
Cormac flicked his tongue and squinted. That hadn’t been a smite. These weren’t templars. Therefore… "Mage!" he warned, before laying a tempest into the middle of the hidden courtyard, lighting it with bright flashes of electricity that danced between the metal on the slave-hunters’ weapons and clothes.
"What, you?" Anton teased, darting across the alley, between flashes, and leaving another corpse in his wake.
The tempest ceased, abruptly, and a woman stood out in all the violence — unbloodied, unmoving, and bearing a staff. Anton took a swipe at her, but the knife turned away, long before it got near her. As Anders busied himself ensuring nothing snuck up on them, Cormac brought up his own barrier, forcing it to intersect the one the woman held. He couldn’t make it intersect flesh, but he could definitely make the space between the two spheres uncomfortably small.
She retaliated almost immediately, and Cormac’s shield dropped along with the woman’s own barrier, as she stumbled forward into the more open space inside Cormac’s. She couldn’t move, but she didn’t have to, calling down a single indigo-tinged bolt of magic that bounced off a barrier Cormac raised around himself.
"I can do this all day!" he called out to her.
Fenris and Anton cut down the last of the mage’s companions, and Fenris sheathed his sword, still glowing. "I would rather you didn’t," he drawled, watching the mages shove each other back and forth without touching.
Patience was rarely one of Fenris’s virtues, especially when it came to slavers, and he rolled his eyes, reaching through one, two barriers and interrupting her next spell with a hand in her chest. She went rigid, mouth open around a soundless gasp before she fell like a puppet with its strings cut.
"Well," said Anton, cleaning off his daggers. "I don’t know about you lot, but I feel better. Do you feel better?"
"I feel better," Anders agreed cheerfully.
Cormac looked a bit ill. "I don’t!"
"Oh, don’t tell me the chowder’s catching up with you, too," Anders sighed, shouldering his staff.
"What? No, no. I just didn’t need the reminder he could do that." Cormac gestured at Fenris.
"What, that I render you useless?" Fenris laughed and headed back out toward the street. "Yes, you did."
Cormac’s shoulders squared, glaive still in both fists, and Anders darted past, putting himself between the two of them. "Let’s not have that argument in the middle of the street. You’re both pretty, okay? And you both give great —" Anders squeaked as Cormac’s hand cracked across his backside.
"Not in front of my brother," Cormac muttered, as Anton stared in horror.
"I’m just going to assume that sentence ends in ‘Wintersend presents’, for my sanity. ‘You both give great Wintersend presents’." Anton nodded decisively. Without all the magic in the way, Anton took a moment to rifle through the dead mage’s pockets too, but wasn’t exactly thrilled by anything he found there. "Though at this rate, no one’s getting any Wintersend presents from me. No wonder they were desperate to cash in your bounty, Fenris."
"Too bad," Fenris drawled. "They would have been disappointed anyway." He tipped his head, as he considered. "I wonder how much I’m worth…"
"Depends on who you’re asking," Anders replied, "and whether you’ve given them any… Wintersend presents."
Fenris threw him a rude gesture.
It was the noise that alerted him to the fact that something other than brooms were behind that closet door. The tranquil moved through the tower like ghosts, most of the time, ignored unless someone wanted something — and Thrask could guess what kind of something someone had wanted this time. In a fury, he threw open the door, only to find Ser Keran and one of the new tranquil, in a state of half-undress.
"For all your kind words and good motivations, this is where I find you?" Thrask roared, jerking Keran out of the maintenance closet by his ear.
"Ser Thrask, it’s not what it looks like! She’s… we were—" Keran fumbled for words, trying to hike his trousers back up.
"I see no evidence it was anything other than it looks like! And this is conduct unbecoming a member of the Order, and in particular, you! I thought you would be above this sort of thing!" Thrask’s grip tightened, and Keran began to fear he was going to lose the ear. "Pull your robes back down and follow me," he commanded the girl, who obeyed, precise and unblinking.
Thrask’s grip stayed on Keran’s ear as he marched them down the hall, and Keran tried to walk, wince, and lace up his trousers at the same time. He knew these halls well enough that he could tell where they were going, even bent at this angle, staring at their feet. At least he didn’t have to see the curious glances from the people they passed, even if their boots pointed his way.
Thrask threw open the door to Cullen’s office, letting it slam dramatically against the opposite wall. "Captain, were you aware of—? Oh."
"Knocking," Anton muttered. "I am a fan of knocking. Why is that something no one does in Kirkwall?"
"This is why I told you to lock the door behind you," Cullen hissed, hands fumbling with something behind his desk.
"Cullen, Cullen, you know I’m allergic to locks. Or, rather, they’re allergic to me."
Cullen gave his husband a dry look, trying to regain an air of respectability even with the blushing cheeks. "Ser Thrask," he said, "what am I aware of and why are you holding my assistant by the ear?"
Thrask stepped aside and waved the girl into the room. "Your assistant was molesting one of the tranquil, in a maintenance closet! I expect better from all of us, and particularly from someone so recently … inclined to other views on the proper care of Kirkwall’s mages!"
Cullen looked confused, but that passed quickly, once he recognised Ella. "Ella? Oh, no, it’s …" He sighed. "Close the door behind you, and do let go of Ser Keran’s ear."
"She’s—" Anton started, horror spreading across his face, but Cullen cut him off.
"Assisting me. She is my other assistant." Cullen rubbed his face. "On second thought, go home, Anton. This is business, and probably shouldn’t have outside observers. I’ll catch up with you tonight."
"You hope you catch up with me, tonight," Anton grumbled, sliding off the desk. Ella stepped aside to let him pass, and he wondered how it was Cullen hadn’t told him that had happened.
"If I don’t, I’m sure you’ll find me when you’re done with the Orlesians." Cullen’s blush deepened even as the words left his mouth. "And take the door with you, as you go."
"Oh, don’t challenge me, husband! One of these days, I’ll do it, and not in the way you meant!" Anton pulled the door shut behind him.
"They’ve been together a long while, and even her current state hasn’t changed that," Cullen said, as the footsteps grew quieter. "She’s the reason for his sentiments. I am hardly the one to deny two people the happiness they found."
"Then how is he able to do his job, if he’s in love with a mage?" Thrask demanded. "You know he shouldn’t even be here, at this point!"
"It was this or Aeonar, you know. He came to me, himself. They came to me, together." Cullen shrugged, still only telling half the story, but the half that served his purpose. He still wasn’t quite comfortable with the way he’d had to talk around people, since Meredith’s leadership came into question, but he’d picked up a bit of skill, listening to Anton go on.
"But it will affect his judgement," Thrask tried again, tone already weaker.
"Is that a bad thing, caring about a mage, any mage?" Keran challenged, but Cullen shook his head and motioned for Keran to be quiet for the moment.
"Frankly, I am more concerned with the behaviour of a few other templars," Cullen said before Thrask could respond. He knew Thrask wouldn’t — couldn’t — argue that. "Templars who care too little about their charges. I am not saying Keran is right, but his error is one I mind less."
Keran still looked affronted by the word ‘error’, but he knew they had to keep up appearances. Next to him, Ella looked serenely blank, hands hanging at her sides. He didn’t know how she could go so long without fidgeting.
Thrask looked back and forth between the mage and the templar to either side of him, and then back to Cullen. "I don’t know if I agree with you, Captain. But, in the short term, it does seem like a lesser risk than the damage that’s already been done. In the long term, though…"
"Let’s concern ourselves with the long term, when we have a long term to consider. For now, the focus must be on repairing the damage done. Mitigating this crisis before it gets any worse. I don’t want to see an Annulment any more than you do, but that’s the standing threat. We can’t concern ourselves with the future of the mages in Kirkwall, and mage-templar relations in the city, until we manage to ensure there will continue to be mages in Kirkwall." Cullen sighed and leaned back in his seat. "And Keran? Not in public. How many times do I have to say it?"
"But, Captain, you were busy in here!" Keran protested.
Cullen’s cheeks turned a deeper shade of red, while Ella cracked a smile behind Thrask. "That is not what I meant, Keran." He cleared his throat. "So, Ser Thrask, is there anything else I can help you with?"
Thrask frowned at Keran, still looking less than pleased with the situation. "Not at this moment," he decided grudgingly, if respectfully. "Captain." He took that as the dismissal it was and dipped his head politely before taking his leave.
Once he had closed the door behind him, Ella let her shoulders slump, moved her jaw to flex facial muscles she was not used to using.
Cullen dropped a stern look on them both. "You two need to be more careful," he insisted.
Keran coughed and scuffed a boot against the floor. "Sorry, Captain. Won’t happen again."
"We’ll wait until after you go home, for the day," Ella said, with a tiny half-smile. "But, you know, the Champion’s just so inspirational. We got a little carried away."
Smothering Anton with a pillow seemed more and more appealing to Cullen. "I’m led to understand his charms are nearly universal. Most of those stories are not true, by the way. Particularly the ones on a certain page of the Gazette." Cullen heaved himself out of his seat, trousers still askew. "I am going to go have a long lunch. I expect the reports on my desk to have been dealt with, before I return, and I also expect those reports and my desk to be clean. And for both of you to be in both your clothes and no more trouble than you’re already in."