[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 372
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Janssen ♂, Anton Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, demons, undead
Notes: Dwarf boats, skeletons, and the raw power of the stone of eternal stench.
The ground bucked under his foot, and he stumbled as a skeletal drake’s head surfaced. First the shield came up for Anders, as the drake pried itself loose from a few centuries of shifted dirt, and then the tempest came down again. "I’m going to need a potion if this keeps up," Cormac complained.
Anders pressed a lyrium potion into his hand without even thinking about it and then pulled Cormac after him by the sleeve. "Dragon. Undead dragon. Small dragon, but a dragon. And dead." This was their punishment for not bringing Anton, wasn’t it?
As careful and slow as they’d been on the way down, they raced towards the top. Anders didn’t dare look behind him, but he could hear Cormac following.
Cormac tried to cast again, and Anders’s shield fell first. He dropped his own and re-cast it, icing the slope behind them, as soon as he had the power. They’d make it. The skeletons chasing them had already started to slide, some slipping back into the others, knocking them over the edge, others falling and splintering.
He wished he knew more about what had happened here — certainly hundreds, if not thousands, of slaves were sacrificed, presumably fed to the dragons in the pit, but why? And when? What was the purpose and the pattern? What were the Tevinter owners trying to do, here? He owned the mine, and the records for it had to be somewhere. This was yet another thing he’d have petitioned the viscount for, if the city still had one.
Cresting the top of the path just after Anders, Cormac called out. "I need a rock! A boat! A … thing! Throw a thing! At the things!" He paused and tried again. "Angry corpses! Roll something big down the path!"
"Boss says he needs a boat!" Janssen called out.
"A boat?" called back another voice.
Janssen wheeled a mine cart into view, motioning Cormac and Anders out of the way. "Dwarf boat! Excuse me, boss!"
Anders darted out of the way, pulling Cormac with him, as Janssen charged, sending the cart rattling down the path. The clatter of wood on bone told them when it hit the undead, and Anders peered around the corner to watch the dominoes fall.
Janssen wheeled over another cart, knuckles white on the edge as he waited to see if it was needed.
"Is anything moving down there?" Cormac asked, peering down after the cart. "That’s a lot of broken bones, and I don’t think I’m seeing much movement."
"Is this something I’m going to have to worry about, boss?" Janssen asked, joining the mages at the edge of the cliff. "Angry corpses rising up and storming the mines?"
Cormac watched a breeze ripple the water below. "I don’t think so. As long as nobody goes down there, I don’t think they’re getting back up, but if you see anything weird—"
"I know, boss. Come get you. Send everybody home." Janssen nodded and patted Cormac’s back.
"I am so glad you didn’t get eaten by dragons. Maker, I don’t know what we’d do without you," Cormac joked. "Really, though, how’s the family? You getting by? Am I paying you guys enough?"
"I might need a raise. Angry corpse hazard pay." Janssen smirked.
"Don’t I already give you dragon hazard pay?" Cormac sighed dramatically. "Yeah, all right. I’ve seen what’s in that pit, up close and personal. I’ll take a look at the books when I get back to town."
"You’re too kind, boss," Janssen said, tipping his head gratefully. "There’s no one else I’d rather work in undead-and-dragon-infested mines for. Except maybe that pirate friend of yours. Messere."
"You wouldn’t want to work for her," Anders assured him. "She’ll pay you half as much for more work. Her ruthlessness balances out her other… assets."
"Ah, in that case, I think I prefer Messere Hawke’s assets," Janssen decided. "Anything else we can do for you, messere?"
Anders pointed his thumb over his shoulder and raised a brow. "Dwarf boats?" he asked.
Janssen shrugged. "Worked, didn’t it?"
Anton came down the stairs, just as the front door closed. He’d go get himself a nice plate of chocolates and cheese, maybe some of last night’s ham… and then the smell hit him, and food was the last thing on his mind. "Mintaka!"
"It’s not the dog." Cormac sighed. "Potion ingredients. Something called ‘drakestone’."
"Why, because it smells like dragon farts?" Anton covered the bottom half of his face with his sleeve. "How far did you walk with that, and why does it look like you haven’t thrown up?"
"We went up to the Bone Pit!" Anders filled in. "The actual pit part. It was full of bones. And then they got up and chased us around a bit, until your brother told Janssen to hit them with a boat. A dwarf boat."
Cormac groaned. "I forgot where I was! I was thinking of a rowboat! It would go down like a toboggan and smash through everything trying to come up!"
"Was any of that your lunch?" Anton asked.
"No, just angry corpses." Cormac grinned and shrugged. "We’re Hawkes! These things happen! But, more importantly, there are a lot more bones in that pit than I thought — not to mention dragon bones and the remains of eggs. Last thing I want is an angry corpse dragon over Kirkwall."
"Corpse dragon?" Anton repeated, still holding a sleeve to his nose. On anyone else, Anders would have taken those wide eyes for panic, but he knew better.
"Yes, and we made sure it was extra dead," Anders told him. "Please don’t try to raise and tame it. It would think my cats are snacks."
"Tame a corpse dragon? Me? Never!" Anton convinced no one. "Are you sure it’s completely dead? And hold on, did you say potion ingredients? Please tell me that’s not what goes into the healing potions. I’d rather bleed to death than drink farts, even if they’re from dragons."
"Just in Carver’s," Anders assured him as a dog-sized lump decided to sit on his feet.
"So, I got to thinking, while I was sniffing dragon farts and getting chased by angry corpses, a lot of the records from Kirkwall were lost in the slave revolt. But, not all of them. And the last people who got an eye on any of them, Falon’Din guide them, were only looking at slaves inside the city. The mine records had to have been kept somewhere, and I don’t see anything up there that looks sufficient for the kind of record keeping the Imperium is famed for. The records must have been in Kirkwall, somewhere, and I have no idea if they survived, but having spent the afternoon close enough to spit into the Fade, I’m starting to think I want to know what was going on up there, beyond just ‘they threw a bunch of slaves in a pit and maybe fed them to dragons’." Cormac clapped a hand onto his brother’s shoulder. "And that’s the part where you and I are going on an adventure, later in the week. You think you can get into the vaults in the Keep? I’m going to take a shot at the stuff that hasn’t been removed from the Chantry."
Anders looked a bit too interested. "I might want to come along for that. I’ve got some business to take up with the Chantry."
"Ooh, how clandestine!" Anton said, grinning behind his sleeve. "I’ve spent too much of this week pretending to be respectable. I could use a break. Just…" Anton stepped out from under Cormac’s hand. "Maybe wash off some of the dragon farts, first. We want to be sneaky, not stinky."
"Later, later. I need to talk to Sandal about some runes first, anyway. I’m a little worried about the angry corpse dragons, and more worried about Meredith." Cormac eyed his brother. "You take some of those runes and you get them up on the roof at the Rose. They’ll protect against anything coming down from above. Like dragons."