[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 379
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Sebastian ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Elthina ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Keran ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Friendly bludgeoning, a devout death wish
Notes: Preparations begin. Evacuations all around.
This time, when Bethany burst into the Chantry, it wasn’t the clack of her heels that broke the silence. "Everyone out of the Chantry!" she declared, startling the prayerful gathered around Andraste’s statue. "This is an emergency! The building is unsafe!" Her voice echoed off stone and filled the space up to the vaulted ceilings. The confused congregation rose, exchanging hesitant looks with each other and the Revered Mothers in sight. "Now!" Bethany barked, and confusion gave way to self-preservation as the herd clattered for the door.
"What is going on?" asked a Mother, standing from her kneeler.
"The foundation was more damaged than the builders’ guild realised," Bethany explained, herding everyone towards the door. "The building could collapse at any moment, and we need everyone out of here now."
The Mother paled, eyes growing wide, but she nodded. "You heard her!" she shouted to the room at large. "Everyone out!" She climbed the stairs to collect the other Mothers and Sisters, while Bethany met Sebastian at Elthina’s door.
"What’s going on?" he asked, and Bethany wondered how many times she’d have to repeat herself. "I thought they got rid of the mice."
"I don’t think this is the mice’s fault, pumpkin," she said, squeezing his arm.
"What— Why is everyone leaving?" Sebastian asked, watching a remarkably ordered evacuation, below.
"The Blooming Rose is a safety shelter!" Bethany called down. "Yes, it’s a brothel, but it’s also the safest place in Hightown, unless you can convince the Merchants’ Guild to let you in!" She cleared her throat and turned back to Sebastian. "The building’s become unstable. It needs to be evacuated for safety. Remember how the vaults got moved to the keep, in case of this? Well, now it’s happening, and we need to move the people."
"I’ll get Elthina," Sebastian said, after only a moment’s consideration. "But, why the Rose, instead of the keep?"
"If this building goes sideways, I’m pretty sure the keep isn’t safe," Bethany pointed out. "The guard are already moving people who live too close."
"If I tell her the people are going, she’ll go." Sebastian nodded. "I’m sure I’ll just be a moment."
From out on the balcony, Bethany could hear the argument start.
"What?" came Sebastian’s voice. "You can’t possibly—! Your Grace, staying here serves no purpose—"
"It serves Andraste’s purpose, Sebastian. As do I." Elthina’s voice was infuriatingly level.
"And you’ll better serve Andraste and the Maker by staying alive."
"My place is here, Sebastian." Her voice came now a bit clipped, and Bethany could picture the look on her face, the pursed lips and clenched jaw, the knit brows that read of disappointment. "If the Chantry falls, it is the Maker’s will. I am not leaving. There is no point in arguing."
A long pause, long enough that Bethany inched closer to the door.
"If you are not leaving, then neither am I," said Sebastian, soft enough that Bethany barely caught the words, soft enough that she hoped, for Sebastian’s sake, that she had misheard him. "I owe you everything. May the Maker have mercy on us both."
Bethany whipped the door open. "You are not staying a moment longer in this Chantry, Sebastian. You cannot protect her from this. The only protection that can be had is in leaving, which you and I will be doing, immediately. If you have any sense, Grand Cleric, if you have any will to live, get out of this building. It may be the Maker’s will that it falls, but the Maker has provided you an opportunity to save yourself and continue serving the city you claim to protect. Everyone else is gone."
"I can’t just leave her, Bethany!" Sebastian whined.
"You can, and you will. If you fall, who will bring the Maker’s love back to Starkhaven? Who will care for all these people if she dies, and you do, too?" Bethany argued, raising a gentle hand to Sebastian’s cheek.
"She’s right, you know," Elthina agreed, unexpectedly. "I must remain here, in case anyone returns. I will serve the Maker until the end. And if the Chantry does not fall? If the ground beneath recovers in the hands of those who know it best? Well, then I, too, will remain." She paused. "You have chosen to return to Starkhaven, then?"
"I must," Sebastian started, but his chin trembled. "But, I will not leave you. I have lost my family already. I will not lose another!"
"If you stay, and it falls, we will both be lost," Elthina said, quietly, and her eyes landed on Bethany, who nodded.
"Forgive me, pumpkin. We have to go," Bethany said, a spell quick to her fingers. She swept Sebastian into her arms, as he fell. "Maker’s blessing, Grand Cleric. I pray it isn’t necessary."
A visit from Cormac wasn’t unusual. A visit from Cormac where he slipped past Orana without waiting to be announced wasn’t unusual either. So when Artie looked up from his cleaning — when had that stain gotten on this rug? — he wasn’t surprised to see his brother filling the doorway. What surprised him was the look on his face.
Artemis stopped scrubbing. "What did you do?" he asked by way of greeting.
"Nothing yet." Cormac shrugged, trying to look anything other than exactly as freaked out as he was. "I need you to come help me do something stupid. Help us, I guess. I need you to come help us evacuate the Gallows and … kill the Knight-Commander."
Artie’s lips moved, but it took a few false starts before he managed to stutter out any words. "I’m sorry. I must have hallucinated that last bit. Did you say you wanted me to help you kill the Knight-Commander?" Artemis pointed the brush at him. "Stupid. That is stupid. You were correct. Why are we… why? Why right now?" But even as he spoke, he set down the brush and slid the bucket to the side.
"Because Cullen asked us to," Cormac replied. "Not in as many words, but it’s the only place this can possibly end. He’s evacuating the Gallows, and he needs us to ‘distract’ as many templars as possible, while his people get the mages to safety." He paused. "Isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard? The Knight-Captain is trying to save mages from the templars. … But, the important thing, is that we have to get across town, right now. And if you’re not coming, stay inside. Here. Stay home, specifically, so I don’t have to worry what’s happened to you in the streets. I know you can take care of yourself, but we’re about to do something beyond stupid, and I really need you in a place with barriers on the roof, when we do."
"We’re…? You’re serious?" Artemis rose to his feet, hands still soapy. It had been coming. He knew it had been coming, but not today, not with the floors half-scrubbed and the furniture awry and — "Of course I’m coming, you idiot. Just let me get my staff. And my husband." He darted for the stairs, praying he’d set the runes correctly. Orana. He’d tell her to stay indoors. Cormac would have seen to their siblings, but what about the others?
Artemis was still running through his mental checklist as he snatched up his staff — his father’s staff — and called out to Fenris.
Anton appeared in the dungeon, taking Keran by surprise. "I have word. Are you ready?"
Keran nodded. "Thrask’s upstairs. Ruvena’s leading the second hall down, now." With that, he stepped aside and revealed a line of mages in unlocked chains. At Anton’s look, Keran continued. "Have to keep up appearances. It’s just in case."
"It’s not time for appearances any more," Anton said, helping the first mage out of the chains. "Do you have magic?"
The woman shook her head, turning to help the line behind her. "Magebane. We have nothing."
"Shit," Anton sighed. "What am I supposed to —" He caught himself. "We’ll just have to be a little more careful."
"The third hall will be staying behind to help," Keran said, gathering the last of the chains. "We managed to spare them."
Anton nodded grimly. It wasn’t ideal. Even with all the mages in the Tower behind him, this could be tricky, but they would make do with what they had. He was the Champion, after all, and as far as these poor souls knew, he had single-handedly defeated the Arishok. "The passage should be clear," he said, to Keran and to the mage in front. "It leads out into Darktown and comes out near the clinic, for those of you— Well, I guess if you’re here, you haven’t been to the clinic or to much of Kirkwall, really." He tried to keep his smile relaxed, assured and reassuring, and for the first time in a long time, Anton wondered how his dad has made it look so easy.
"Champion," Keran said, angling himself so the mages couldn’t hear what he was saying. "There are hundreds of mages. What are we going to do with all these people?"
"I’m working on that," Anton admitted.
Cormac had told him to keep them out of Hightown and away from the Chantry, and Anton didn’t have time to question that — didn’t think he’d need to, but this tunnel would put them under Hightown. And the Chantry… well, keeping them away from the Chantry was obvious. Someone down here had to know what to do with this many people, but for now, he thought of the maps behind his brother’s desk.
"This used to be a mine," Anton called out, "and there’s a lot more space than it looks like. So, what I want you to do is come out of the tunnel, make a right, and keep your hand on the wall, until you get to the first lift. You’ll know it. It’s a big flat wood thing, with a lot of gears and a lever. There’s some people there. I want you to tell them that you’re friends of Lord Dog, and more of you are coming. You tell them Lord Dog will come later to repay their assistance, now. And if they give you any trouble, you remind them what happened the last time they picked a fight with Lord Dog."
"What happened?" one of the mages asked, stepping down into the passage.
"That’s not important. What’s important is that they remember what happened, and I know they do." Anton smiled, jaw squared. "It’s going to be better, after this. The hard part is getting you out of here."