[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 365
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Cormac uses words
Notes: A mysterious and ancient door, where there has never been a door before.
"I’d just like to point out for the ninth time that I’m so glad Artie’s not with us," Cormac muttered, scraping the questionable yellowish crystals off the underside of yet another drainpipe. "I am taking a bath, when we get out of here. I am taking six baths in a row. I think, maybe, we should just head up the coast a bit and jump in the sea."
"Yes, let’s," Anders agreed, failing to keep all of the disgust off of his face as he scraped up some more as well. He didn’t think he would ever feel clean again. "And let’s not mention this to Artie at all, shall we? I doubt he’d touch either of us again, and I do like watching you two." And Justice liked the excuse to lick the lyrium elf.
Just a little more, and, "There. That should be enough, thank Andraste."
As they dragged themselves back up the ladder, buckets in hand, Cormac got an odd look. Handing the bucket to Anders, he stared straight across the floor, under a junk dealer’s table, over a few more drops into the less sewery depths of Darktown, at something that looked very much like a door. "Anders? Has there always been a door over there?" He pointed. "Because I’m thinking maybe one of the old runes just gave out, and maybe we should pay a visit, before someone less scholarly decides to take a shot at what’s down there."
Anders paused to get a good look at what Cormac was pointing out, and no, he did not recognise that door. "I agree," he said. "Though I could do without a second temple of dicks." He glanced down at the buckets in his hands. "Perhaps we should bring someone else along when we investigate? You know with our luck there will be either demons or dragons, and flinging poop at them might not be enough."
"I’d think you’d favour a second temple of dicks. Or maybe just a temple of asses to offset it. Either way, we should probably have a wash, before we do much more. I doubt tracking excrement across the floors is going to do us any favours with the demons, dragons, or arcane horrors living in there." Cormac laughed and pulled the sewer lid shut behind him. "And we should definitely not smell like this if we’re going to propose adventure to my brother and sister. As much as I hate to slog this through your place, it’s a stone floor and the bath is closer to the door."
"My floor can handle it," Anders agreed. "The sooner we’re in a bathtub the better. I’ve got something in my hair I’m praying is dirt." He made for the Amell Estate’s cellar, bucket first.
Purrcy flitted about their legs, eyes wide and hopeful, and Anders made a note to feed him later. Purrcy was less pushy than Assbiter, but he knew how to manipulate Anders with sad looks. But the moment there was water sloshing in the bathtub, Purrcy ran off, ears flat to his head in a look of annoyance Anders associated with spiky elves.
The tub was filled and emptied several times, until the water stayed the same faintly milky colour it came out of the pump, and Cormac took the time to make sure Anders’s hair was spotless, using the same spells he used on his own, if with a little less grease. "I hope you like lemon," he said, running his fingers through that long, murky honey-coloured hair, as he drew it back from the temples in plaits that joined in the back.
Anders nearly purred at the feel of fingers in his hair, and the fresh, almost sharp scent of lemon helped push the memory of the sewers from his mind. Honestly, the things he did for mage rights… "And now I feel clean," he sighed, which would change the moment he put on his newly stained clothing. He had robes, sure, but he wasn’t about to go wandering under the city without pants. That hadn’t ended well the last time.
They stood naked beside the bath, just looking at the pile of filth-encrusted cloth on the floor, until Cormac spoke. "You got anything left clean that fits?" he asked. "Put on your armour — that’s from the last time you had shoulders. I’m sure Anton’s laundress can handle … that. I’m going to pay her a lot. I think I’m going to pay her more than Anton does." He slid his arms around Anders’s waist. "And I am going to toss on that underrobe I left on your floor last week, and go upstairs to find the rest of what I just took off to go crawling around in the sewers. And something to put that in."
Cormac winked and grabbed an orange-coloured linen robe from where it hung on the corner of a set of shelves, shrugging into it as he let himself out. "I’ll be right back to help with the buckles. You know I love the buckles."
Anders watched Cormac’s skin disappear under the robe and sighed at the loss. He sent him off with a wink and one last eyeful.
It was still odd putting on his Warden robes. He’d worn them on occasion, sure, when Kirkwallian politics required, but this was the best they’d fit since he’d come here. It was rather nice having shoulders again.
A bit later, Cormac came back down, dressed and carrying a package under one arm and a plate for the cats in the other hand. "Here, kitty kitty!" he called out, setting down the plate under a table. "Leave your daddy’s sandwiches in peace."
The cats heard the clink of the plate hitting the stone floor, and before Cormac had time to straighten up, they were at opposite sides of it, tearing into the leftover meat.
"Brought you something too," he said to Anders, holding out the parcel. "Perfect timing, if it’s what I think it is."
"Oh, a package from you?" Anders said, taking the parcel and tearing into the paper. "Usually there’s less to unwrap when that happens." He smirked at Cormac, fingers meeting cloth under the paper. "What’s this?" he asked, brows knitting. He set the bundle on the desk, trying to make sense of the pieces. "Is this…? Clothing. There you are, putting clothing on me. That’s usually the opposite of how this works."
"Well, you know, with your profound shoulders, I thought maybe I should get you something that would go on with a little less cursing and getting stuck in the sleeves." Cormac grinned and leaned against the corner of Anders’s desk. "And maybe I thought it’d be a little easier to get you out of, too. I do like taking clothing off you, but you have to be able to put it on, first. I just…" He shrugged. "I’ve been watching your wardrobe get smaller. You don’t wear the robes out of the house, and I’m pretty sure what you’ve got on is the only other thing you have from before. Just seemed silly. Boning a nobleman’s supposed to come with a certain set of advantages, and I finally noticed you’re not taking nearly enough advantage."
"I don’t take enough advantage of you? How remiss of me." Anders knew he should be saying ‘thank you’ instead of running at the mouth, and yet… "Ohh, Warden colours! You are consistent, aren’t you?" he teased, turning over a feathered coat in silver and blue. There was another coat, underneath it, the same tan as its newly shit-stained predecessor but less ragged and wider in the shoulders. His coat used to look like this, years ago, and he smiled fondly at it, but it was the third coat that caught his eye: the same cut as the other two but black on black. He ran his fingers through the feathers and they spilled like oil over his skin.
"I thought you needed something a little more… evening-appropriate. A hint of danger, a touch of class, and, you know, I thought a bit more black would be dead sexy on you. Especially now, with your hair getting longer." Cormac smiled unapologetically. "I might have been waiting for that one to come in so I could very specifically not take it off you."
"Is that so?" Anders purred, putting an arm around Cormac’s waist and pulling him close. "I’ll have to model it for you when we get back." He bent to nip at Cormac’s lip before softening the contact into a kiss. "Thank you," he said, finally. "This is… unexpected but certainly welcome, especially after this morning."
Cormac stood before his desk, maps of Darktown and the undercity pinned up all around him, eyes and hands leaping between points. "Here. This is where it disappears. There’s not even a Darktown to speak of — it’s all just mining tunnels, which makes a door there even weirder. Probably some kind of access from somewhere else. But, then, this part of the city was always a little weird. Here’s the door, just a little over from us. Here’s the clinic, here’s the cellar. Did I ever tell you your clinic used to open from the other end? Fell in at some point."
He dug out more maps from the pile on the desk, unrolling them. "So, the dragon, here, is the Chantry… And we’re somewhere over here, so… this is… I have no idea what that is. It’s not labelled. And the tunnel doesn’t finish on this page. In fact, there’s no indicator that there is another page." Staring intently at the map in his hand, he suddenly grew very still. "Assume with me that this is a very long passage, and it goes very deep. Where are you? You’re probably under the stairs. You know what else is under the stairs?" He reached up and tapped on the red lines on the map on the wall. "I’ve never found the ends of those. And now we have a tunnel that ends in stairs, leading in about the same direction. Why the fuck would it have a door there? That doesn’t make any sense."
Anders looked back and forth between the maps, tracing lines with his fingers. "So you’re saying this door might connect to whatever’s in the middle of the ancient blood channels?" he asked. "Oh that is not ominous at all. Ah, Kirkwall, forever surprising and delighting us."
Anders’s expression turned serious as he looked at Cormac, one finger still tapping the map. "We might want to bring some friends — or relatives, in your case. Chances are, whatever’s down there isn’t going to be sweet and fluffy."
"Chances are whatever’s in there is under the sewers, at least part of the way. I’m going to vote we don’t take Artie." Cormac grinned wickedly. "How about Carver? Get some swording action — well, actual swording. With a sword. Probably Merrill, too, now that I’ve brought up swording. I don’t think we know anyone else with quite that perspective on demons, and I’m pretty sure ‘hit it until it falls down’ isn’t going to be so good against something with that much blood under it. Here’s hoping she can keep my baby brother alive. What the hey, you want to bring our whole templar entourage down into the depths? Cullen probably needs to get out of his office for a while."
Anders looked askance at Cormac. "You… want us to bring a blood mage, her templar lover, and his templar boss — who doesn’t know she’s a blood mage — along on a scouting mission that might involve demons and ancient blood magic?" He considered it for a moment and shrugged. "Sure, why not. We’ll be doing terrible things to the Chantry soon anyway, and this is practically an average day for Cullen."
"What can I say? I think we might need some perspective on what we’re about to walk in on. And a lot of smite. Like, a lot of a lot of smite. I really hope smite actually does something useful against demons." Cormac rubbed his face and looked at the maps again, as the door creaked open behind them.
"Demons?" Bethany asked. "Sorry, didn’t realise you two were back upstairs. I just wanted to return this book." She slid it into the shelf where it went.
"Demons. Probably. Ancient Tevinter-summoned demons and more blood magic than anyone’s seen since Archon Hessarian saw the light of Andraste." Cormac laughed and covered his face with both hands. After a moment, he peeked over his fingertips. "You want in?"
"You had me at demons, brother dear," Bethany said. "When are we leaving? Do I have time to put on more sensible shoes? I see Anders is already dressed in his Warden finest."
Anders looked down at himself as though to check. "My Warden finest already comes with sensible shoes," he said, turning out one booted heel. "And you have time, yes. We were just about to send word for your brother-in-law. The templar, not the spiky elf."
"Templars. Oh, that’s going to be exciting." Bethany rolled her eyes and headed back out, as Anders knocked off a quick note on a scrap of paper from Cormac’s desk.