[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 347
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, Izzy no
Notes: Another kidnapping on the Wounded Coast. Doesn’t anyone have any originality in this city?
Bodhan had told Anton that there was some mail waiting for him on the desk, but ‘some’, it turned out, was a bit of an understatement. ‘A pile’ of mail would have been a more apt description.
"This is your fault, isn’t it?" Bethany sighed, already sifting through the letters. She handed him what she’d already looked through. "I am expecting a message, but all I’m finding are replies to your sausage party — which I still can’t believe you’re throwing by the way."
"Is that surprise I hear, dear sister?" Anton asked sweetly, thumbing through the letters. "At me? And here I thought you knew your brothers better than that."
"Not surprise. Exasperation. Aha!" Bethany finally found an envelope addressed to her.
Anton started separating the messages into three piles, people who were coming, people who weren’t coming, and everything else. He’d go through the last one again and get his own messages out of it, after the rest was done. But, the count needed to be started if Bodhan was going to know how many people to plan for. It would be an awful lot of sausage in any case, but he’d hate to run short.
And this one was Spincter and his daughter, and they were— No, that wasn’t an RSVP. That was … Anton sighed.
"What is it?" Bethany looked up.
"Another kidnapping. On the coast." Anton rubbed his face. "Doesn’t anyone have any originality in this town?"
"Not one of our brothers, again, I hope?"
"No, no. Reggie’s girl. Kidnapped by bandits, for some reason. He’s afraid it’ll ruin her marriage prospects if word gets out." Anton looked disgustedly at the letter. "Remind me why we keep inviting this guy to things?"
"Because we’re the Amells, but we’re not proper Amells. We really can’t afford to go pissing people off. You make enough of a stir as it is," Bethany reminded him.
"I’m the champion! Doesn’t that count for anything?" Anton complained.
"Free drinks at the Hanged Man?" Bethany reminded him cheerfully, fluttering her letter like it was one of her fans.
Anton harrumphed, throwing the letter onto the side table. "I could just pick Carver’s pockets for that."
"Just be grateful Reggie didn’t make it to the corset party. I doubt even the Champion could have saved that disaster. Enjoy the bandit-hunting!"
"Are you sure you don’t want to do it for me, Bethy?" Anton whined. "I just came back from a long night. With Orlesians. I miss my bed and Mintaka."
"Poor dear," Bethany said with no pity. "And I’m quite sure."
Anton had a plan. It might not be a good plan, but it would probably be a working plan. And then he could go home and get back to bed. He put on his best smile and knocked at the door of his brother’s house.
A moment later, Orana answered the door. "Ah! Messere Anton! Come in, come in. I’ll go get your brother for you. They’re playing cards. I think he’s even dressed, still."
Anton was still trying to wrap his mind around the idea of Artie playing strip Diamondback, as Orana left him in the main hall, smiling at his befuddlement as she went. Surely those two things weren’t related — playing cards and potentially being undressed. No, no. That… no. Artie was still dressed because he was … Anton couldn’t find an end to that sentence that made sense. An hour he usually spent in a dressing gown, rather than proper clothes, so the washing could be done. Yes. That sounded much more like Artie.
Artemis shuffled into the hallway, barefoot and grinning. "Hello, Anton! You’re awake already? I haven’t been playing cards for that long, have I?" He peeked out of the nearest window to make sure the sun was still out. Yep. Still daylight. "Has something happened?"
"Oh, nothing big," Anton replied. "It just seems we’ve gotten our mail mixed up. Letter for you, ‘Champion’." He pressed Spincter’s letter into Artie’s chest before turning back towards the door, whistling to himself. Now he could go back to bed, Mintaka, and —
Anton’s heels scrabbled at the ground, rucking up the entryway rug as he was dragged back. Artie skimmed through the letter, still pulling his flailing brother back without even looking up.
"Nice try, Messere," Artemis drawled. "Someone’s kidnapped Reggie’s daughter? Is there no originality in this town?"
"Right?" Anton agreed, twisting to look at Artemis over his shoulder. "No originality! Which is why you are perfectly capable of doing this on your own!"
Fenris appeared in a doorway leading further into the house. "Anton." He nodded, then paused. "Is there a particular reason my husband is restraining you?"
"What? No! I’m just delivering his mail." Anton grinned. "It was addressed to the champion, you see."
Fenris made a small sound of amusement. "And what is so terrible the Champion of Kirkwall needs to pass it off to an impostor?"
"Kidnapping. Orlanna Spincter’s been nabbed by bandits, or so her father says. I look at that letter and wonder if she didn’t run away from home," Anton drawled, leaning against the magic, as if it were a wall.
Artie took that as his cue to drop the spell, and Anton stumbled, nearly falling face-first into the floor. "Serious enough that we should make sure, one way or another," he said. "And then help her run away if she hasn’t already." He handed the letter to Fenris, who read it, one dark eyebrow creeping up towards his hairline.
"Nobles," Fenris groused, as if the three of them weren’t technically nobles themselves. "I suppose I’ll grab my sword. And your boots, Amatus." He kissed Artie’s cheek and disappeared around the corner.
Anton sidled towards the door.
"Don’t even think about it," Artemis said. He made a fist, and this time Anton fell to his ass.
Fenris spent half the trip out of town trying to explain the rhythm of Tevinter drinking songs to Anton, who seemed incapable of singing anything outside of maybe six common tunes that most drinking songs in Ferelden had fit into. From the way Artemis’s eyes sparkled, though, he expected Anton was just doing it to annoy him. Brothers. In moments like these, he wondered if he really was so pleased not to have any. Who would quietly restrain their amusement if he decided to keep up an hours-long prank?
His ruminations were interrupted by the appearance of a man all in black, tattoos on his face similar to Anton’s, but not the same. "Hold there," the man commanded, and the three of them stopped, expecting another plea for the champion’s intervention.
"Who are you?" Anton asked.
"The name’s Evets. As in ‘Evets Marauders’, the folks you killed a few years back." Evets spread his arms and tipped his chin up, challengingly. "Now, you’re going to die for what you’ve done!"
Fenris looked at the man in confusion. "You do know that’s the Champion of Kirkwall, don’t you? The man who duelled the Qunari Arishok after fighting through hordes of raging Qunari to get to the Viscount’s Keep, right?"
As the new marauders filtered out of the rocks around Evets, those in the rear began to drop, almost silently, with little more sound than they’d have made stepping out of their hiding places, a quick gleam of blades the only sign something other than magic was to blame, until Isabela laid down a corpse that left her in view. She winked at Anton, fluttering her fingers.
Anton waved back cheerfully, drawing a confused look from Evets, who turned to see the men at her feet. The man gritted his teeth hard enough for them to creak, face flushing red with anger under black tattoos. "You’ll die for that, wench!" he roared, pulling out his axe.
Isabela didn’t look concerned, especially when a choked gasp followed Evets’s taunt, a glowing fist sticking through his chest.
Anton didn’t even draw his daggers. He leaned against a tree, hands clasped behind his head, and watched his brother and friends stab, disembowel, and smack the other marauders into the cliff face.
"Who in blazes were ‘Evets Marauders’, anyway?" Artemis asked, repeatedly slamming one particularly stubborn idiot into the rock. "Was I there for that? I can’t recall."
"With all the smugglers and bandits we’ve removed from the coast, I can’t remember the names of all of them." Anton shrugged, stretching one leg out a little further. "A few years back? I definitely don’t remember. Maybe Aveline knows."
"It’s not like I ever stopped to ask what they called themselves, once all the stabbing started," Isabela added, finishing off a battered marauder and picking his pockets.
"I do not believe I’ve heard the name, before," Fenris said, taking a look around to ensure there weren’t more marauders lying in wait. "The man might’ve had a long and joyful life … marauding. Instead, he was an idiot. What kind of fool announces themselves, before launching an attack on a man said to have carved his way through a Qunari army? At the very least, stealth might have served him a little better." His eyes darted to Isabela, a tiny smile curling the corner of his mouth.
"Indeed," Artie drawled. "The Champion may even have needed to draw a weapon and taken part. Imagine!"
"You all had it perfectly in hand," Anton said. "Fenris perhaps a bit too literally." When Anton finally did push off of the tree, it was to rifle through Evets’s pockets. "Oh, really? Nothing? This is what I get for sitting back and watching, isn’t it? Andraste, why do you punish me?"
Artemis rolled his eyes and poked around the area, finding the marauders’ campsite tucked behind bushes. "No trace of Sphincter’s daughter," Artemis said, doubling back. "Looks like we have other bandits to find."
"Spincter," Anton corrected automatically.
"I know what I said."
"Why are there always so many bandits?" Fenris asked the ground. "It’s a wonder why anyone would want to come through here."
"It’s not so much a matter of want," Isabela pointed out, backing up the hill as she talked, "as a matter of it being the only way to get from some places to some other places. It’s exactly what attracts the bandits — there is no alternative."
"And you’d know this because you spend so much time with the sea," Anton joked, walking up after her.
"No, I’d know because I spend so much time with the bandits." Isabela grinned. "I can’t help it if they’re good looking!"
"And then you come out here and kill them," Fenris drawled.
"Of course I do! It’s good business. And so many of them underestimate me after one good night."
"I am not sure how anyone could underestimate you," Fenris muttered, and Anton nodded his agreement.
"Now, now, don’t start talking like that, or people will get wise, and I’ll lose my advantage." Isabela spun around at the top of the hill, looking down the paths that forked out. "Is that a corpse? I think that’s a corpse! Maybe we’ll get some loot after all!"
"Or maybe whoever made that corpse beat us to it," Anton pointed out.
"Always such a pessimist!"
"As opposed to you," Artie said, "who always sees the pocket half full?"
"More than half." Izzy winked and sidled up next to him, and Artie slapped her hand away when she reached for one of his pockets.
"If you do that at the wrong time, I might end up knocking you off a cliff," Artemis warned, hooking a thumb over his shoulder in the ocean’s direction. "Possibly by accident."
"But if I do it at the right time, it might be worth it."
The corpse, it turned out, still had a few coins on him, which made Anton feel better, at least until he spotted another corpse up ahead. "Well. Somebody was busy." Anton picked that corpse’s pocket too.
They followed the corpses, like a trail of breadcrumbs, back to another, larger camp. This one was empty, save for more corpses and a young woman in noblewoman’s clothes standing in the middle.
"Orlanna?" Anton called out, looking her over for injuries.
The woman turned, a smile lighting her face when she spotted them. "Champion!" she said. "Did my love send you? Will you take me to them?"
"Either your father didn’t give me the whole story, or I really, really hope you’re talking about someone else." Anton paused. "Those aren’t mutually exclusive. Either way, I really hope you’re talking about someone else."
"What, you wouldn’t do your dad? I heard he looked like Cormac. I’d do your dad." Isabela draped herself over Anton’s shoulders, using a rock for the extra few inches. "Wildly good-looking guy like that? Whoo!"
Artemis’s cheek twitched. "He… didn’t look that much like Cormac," he muttered, feeling ill.
"Maybe when we were born, but not by the time he died. The Hawkes are good-looking, but that’s pushing it." Anton reached up and swatted at Isabela’s face with the back of his hand.
Fenris stared intently into the dirt, trying not to listen to this conversation. None of the places it could go were places he wanted to end up.
"Well, nobody looks their best when they’re dead!" Isabela argued.
"Oh, I can think of a few faces that looked much better dead," Fenris muttered, toes clenching the sand.
Artemis saw that look and knew where Fenris’s mind had gone. His hand brushed Fenris’s in a question, and Fenris turned his palm outward, twining their fingers.
"This is true," Isabela conceded. "But what about you, hmm?" She rested her cheek on the back of Anton’s head and eyed Fenris like he was something she meant to eat. "Bet your dad was a hottie."
Fenris’s blood turned cold, and he couldn’t feel his hands. After a moment of quiet panic, he remembered that she didn’t know who his father was.
"Oh, right, you wouldn’t know, would you?" Izzy went on, expression turning contemplative. "Hm. Well, let me imagine it for you."
"Izzy," Artemis said in warning, but she paid him no mind.
"I’m seeing… a cross between you and Orsino. Mmm, yes." Isabela purred and rubbed Anton’s head with her cheek. "Your eyes, his hair…"
"I promise whatever you’re imagining is incorrect," Fenris muttered. "I do know. And Danarius wasn’t that good looking."
"That toad? No, no. That’s ridiculous!" Isabela rocked upright, wobbling on the stone she stood on. "Your ears are much too pointy. Where did you hear that? That’s stupid. Can’t be true."
Anton returned his attention to the woman they were supposed to be rescuing. "Excuse her. She’s like that. You were saying something about your… love?"
"Feynriel, the man of my dreams!" Orlanna declared, hands on her hips, as if they should already have known that. "These brutes intended to take my maidenhood. As they argued over who would go first, I fainted! Then Feynriel spoke to me in a vision and told me not to fear. When I awoke, the men had slain one another. Please take me to Feynriel. I want to thank him properly."
"You can thank me, instead!" Isabela butted in, grinning broadly, attention torn from her continuing tirade about how it was completely impossible for Danarius to have been Fenris’s father.
"Excuse her," Anton said, again. "I don’t know where to find Feynriel. The last I knew, he was headed to the Imperium to learn to use his talents. If he comes again, you should ask—"
A voice cut in from behind them. "Hey! What did you do to my men? I’ll kill you ’til you’re good and dead!"
They turned as a team of bandits bearing swords and shields spilled out from behind the rocks.
"Oh look!" said Anton brightly. "More future corpses to loot!" He grinned at Izzy. "See? I can be optimistic!"
Artie cast while they were still clustered, his spell knocking them off their feet and pulling them towards the ground, chins jarring on stone. It occurred to him a moment later that he’d just used magic in front of a noblewoman, but it occurred to him a moment after that that she hadn’t seemed to mind Feynriel’s magic, which was, in his opinion, much more terrifying.
Isabela and Anton danced in to stab their exposed backs, and Fenris slid his hand out of Artie’s to cut down the first bandit who tried to get up.
The fight was over almost before it began, leaving the four of them and Orlanna alone again. Anton and Isabela started rifling pockets.
"Yes, of course," Orlanna said, as the tension bled out of the air. "It seems I must wait a bit longer to ask my love where to meet. Will you take me back to Kirkwall, please? Thank you for your aid."
"Sure, sure." Anton waved her over. "Just stay close, so nobody else grabs you on the way back. Are you sure you want to go home? Your dad sounds like kind of a —"
"Jerk," Fenris cut in, before Anton could unload his no doubt expletive-laden opinion.
"Where else would I go?" Orlanna asked. "I have nothing but what you see. I was taken right from my home!"
Anton shrugged. "We could put you up at the Hanged Man for a few days. Just long enough for you to figure out where to meet loverboy. Once you’re gone, I’ll tell your dad you ran away to Tevinter."
"I do not expect it will take so long," Orlanna confessed. "The walk will tire me, and we’ll be reunited in my dreams! Feynriel, my love — I’m coming!"
"Well, she seems easy," Isabela muttered.
"Just so we’re clear, if she passes out, I’m not carrying her," Anton said to Fenris.
"Oh, I’ll carry her," Isabela volunteered, with an eyebrow wiggle and a wide grin.