[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 383
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Carver Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Varric ♂, Isabela ♀, Aveline ♀, Anton Hawke ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Keran ♂, Ser Marlein ♀, Merrill ♀, Samson ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence
Notes: Cullen brings the fight inside, still trying to make less of a fight of it. More of Justice’s swording ensues.
The halls nearest the door were nearly empty, but the sound of doors slamming and voices shouting echoed through the building.
"Come out and die quickly!"
"It’ll be slow if you make us hunt you down!"
"Someone’s still alive in here," Cullen muttered, before raising his voice. "This is the Knight Captain speaking! I want all of you into the entry hall at once! This is not a drill! Every templar in this building, downstairs, now!"
"Ah, not to be rude, Captain, but what the fuck are you doing?" Carver asked, a horrified look on his face.
"This is what I meant by ‘a distraction.'" Cullen clapped Carver on the shoulder, still calling out into every stairwell he passed, as he did a lap of the main hallway. The sounds of the building changed, as the message made it through, repetition and the sound of boots.
As they re-entered the entry hall, a figure all in plate stepped out from behind a potted ficus. "Am I too late for the party, Captain?" Samson asked, tucking his helmet under his arm. "I heard what was going, and I figured this was the place to be. Gotta bring it all down, and what." He kicked a couple of helmets into the shadows. "I might’ve done a little pruning, while I was waiting on your orders." He looked down. "And nice legs, ser, if I may say so."
"Thank you, Samson," Cullen said, clapping the man on the shoulder. "Not… for the legs comment. For staying. And for being on our side."
Samson’s face twisted into something that wasn’t quite a smile. "I could remind you that I was on this side first," he said, to which Cullen ducked his head, abashed, "but that doesn’t matter." He looked up at the other templars filing in and straightened, puffing out his chest. He took his place next to Carver, Keran, and Marlein, the three of them filing in front of the others, and Cullen stepping in front of them.
"Men and Women of the Order," Cullen called out. His voice rang down the hall, filled the vaulted ceilings, and he looked around at faces hidden by helmets, at the swords clenched in some of their fists. Some of them, at least, had to know what was happening, and yet they didn’t attack him, at least not yet. "The time has come for us to take responsibility for our actions and our charges. We have done wrong, in the eyes of the law, the Chantry, and the Maker himself, and it is time to right those mistakes. Perhaps we can never make amends for what we have done, but we can move forward. We can ensure those same mistakes are not repeated. We can be the men the Nevarran Accord trusted us to be. Who among you have read it? We are all taught its precepts, as recruits, but who among you has read the text of that treaty that gave life and power to our Order? Who among you understands what we were meant to be? Because this is not it!
"We are here to help protect the strongest weapon Thedas has against the Blight. We are here to ensure that no mage needs to call out to demons for things we take for granted. We are here primarily to prevent, not to punish. To provide a safe environment in which magic can be learned and practised, for when our world needs it most!" Cullen looked around him, spotting the few faces that looked relieved, more certain, determined. "But, for some reason, it has become popular to speak of magic as a curse! What god would curse its followers with the power to change the world like this? I challenge you to look on it as a blessing the maker has granted us. What is His word? He says we must not let magic rule over us, and that is simply done, but is every man who is not king a slave? No! And so in not permitting magic to rule us, why do we treat those who have it as less than common men? As less than we regard our kennels! … Okay, that may be because I’m Fereldan. I don’t suspect most of you have dogs, but I promise you dogs are better regarded than these men and women we are meant to guard.
"Who will stand with me, now, to bring the Order back to its roots? To its essential meaning? To give us a world in which a mage is regarded no differently than a smith or a swordsman? Because it is time for that world. I have seen what mages can do, when we do not restrain them so tightly, and yes, some fall. Some will always fall, just as some men turn to banditry! But, do we punish all men, because some are bandits or warlords? Has Ferelden done away with their noblemen in the wake of Loghain MacTir? I think not. And I think it is time for us to offer mages the same chance at redemption. The same chance to be ‘just someone’. A world in which we are still needed, but we are needed as guardsmen are needed, not as jailers. Who will stand with me?"
The silence that followed was tightly wound, coiled like a spring, but short-lived. Thrask was the first to speak, his helmet hiding the emotion in his face — if not his voice — as he thought of his daughter. He was already on Cullen’s side, had already helped the mages with their escape, but his brothers-in-arms didn’t need to know that.
"I will stand with you, Captain." He shouldered his way through the other templars to join Cullen. A pause, and then another templar joined him. And another.
"And I as well."
Feet shuffled, glances exchanged, and a low murmur filled the hall while templars trickled to Cullen’s side. Even with Cullen’s swelling numbers, too many stayed where they were, hands on their swords, looking to their lieutenants, Meredith’s lieutenants, who were among the worst symptoms of the Order’s decay.
"Didn’t realise you were a robe-lover, Captain," one spat through his helmet. "A mage just murdered the Grand Cleric, and you’re asking us to treat them more nicely? You’ve lost your head."
"Meredith is the one who’s lost her head, Ser Penis," Ruvena spat, and the lieutenant bristled at the name. "But by all means, try to stop us. I’ve been looking for an excuse to stab you in the throat."
"‘Throat’ wasn’t the word you used last time," Keran said in a loud whisper.
"Well, I didn’t want to say ‘penis’ twice in one sentence."
"Are you a robe-lover, Captain?" Cormac asked, looking much too cheerful about the fact that anyone at all had elected to side with them. "I mean, with legs like those, I don’t figure there’s any reason you wouldn’t. You’d look amazing in a robe, especially one of those summer cuts from Tevinter, don’t you think, Anders?"
"I think he’d look better in one of those Chasind styles, with the rings and the leather and the fur. Don’t you think he’d look great in fur?" Anders twirled his sword, absently, in one hand.
"My husband would look great in anything," Anton pointed out.
"Can we please stop discussing the Knight-Captain’s legs, and get back to the matter at hand?" Aveline asked, noticing the number of eyes, including those of the templars they faced, lingering on those legs.
"You’re just envious, because he’s got nicer calves than Donnic," Isabela teased.
Ser Penis squared his shoulders. "Is this the man you want leading you? A man whose following is too busy looking at his legs to pay mind to his words? A man whose legs are worthy of more attention than his words?"
"Now, now, don’t get your panties in a twist, Tin Man," Varric drawled, loading a bolt into Bianca. "We don’t have to pay attention, because we all knew what he was going to say. I’ll admit to being a little surprised he’s admitting any of it, but if you didn’t see this coming, how much attention were you paying to anything other than his legs, before this?"
"It’s why we call him ‘Ser Penis’," Marlein said, lip curled in disgust. "Doesn’t think with or about anything above the waist."
Ser Penis drew his sword with a snarl. "Keep calling me that, and it won’t end well for you."
"This isn’t about you, Ser Denis," Cullen said. "If you don’t agree with me, then do us all a favour and stay out of our way. This goes for all of you." Cullen’s stare swept the room. "No one else has to die today."
"Now, we both know that’s not true, ‘Captain’," Ser Penis spat. He turned to the templars who had stayed at his side and raised his sword. "To arms!"
He had barely finished speaking before the ground under them lit green. Everyone above the glow stopped moving, and after a moment the sound of a fan snapping shut could be heard, and the ranks caught in the glow collapsed, unconscious, swords clattering loosely amid the hail of falling plate.
"Please, step aside!" Cullen called out, to those who still faced them. "No one has to die today! If we can no longer find a place for you in the Order, I will see to it that you do not end up like Samson, here."
"Thanks, I think," Samson muttered. "Nothing like being made an example of."
"It’s not about what happens to us!" A voice called out from under a helmet, as another smite lashed across the crowd. "It’s about what happens to them! It’s about you taking the side of mages above regular people just trying to get by! And look at them! It’s not like they have anything else to give you, without that magic!"
"Do I get to prove the gentleman in the tin hat wrong?" Cormac asked, stepping forward. "I am Cormac Hawke, son of Malcolm Hawke, lifelong apostate, and I challenge you to single combat. No magic, no templar trickery."
"Single combat," one of the lieutenants scoffed. "Who does he think he is? Kill them all!" This last word rose in pitch as a sword pommel slammed into his helmet, sending him staggering.
"He already told you," Carver said, another blow sending the lieutenant to the floor. "He’s my idiot brother, and I’m the only templar allowed to punch him."
"That’s so sweet," Artie teased, his staff smacking another templar in the crotch as he waited for his magic to come back. "But I think there’ll be less punching and more swording from them at the moment."
"I do like swording!" Merrill chirped over the ring of metal on metal. "Are all templars as good at it as you, Carver?"
"Stop talking about —!" Carver got a kick to the shin in his distraction. "—fuck. OW." Carver was grateful when the flow of battle took him away from his brothers.
Anton and Isabela were a dangerous duo in close quarters, their short blades giving them an advantage over templars trying to swing swords in the halls. They drew the fight back into tighter spaces, where they could, and the sound of blades ringing against the stone of the walls filled the air.
"Oh!" Merrill exclaimed, suddenly, as her magic returned and she lit the unfortunate potted ficus aflame in a burst of focus she hadn’t expected to yield a result.
"Damn it all straight to the Abyss," Fenris muttered, hand still buried in some templar’s chest, as he eyed Anders, who had been dragging the unconscious templars to the side of the room, out of the fight. But, Anders looked up at the sudden warmth and two exclamations, and he found himself much too close to that tree.
It was only a small fire, he told himself. Nothing to be concerned about. But, Justice had been looking for a window, and Anders’s distraction was the opportunity he needed to step forth and stop wasting time. Smite after smite made the air hum like a singing bowl, but still the blue glow persisted, as Justice’s electrical blade crackled and buzzed after every clank against another templar’s platemail. Templars twitched and twisted in his wake, as the current leapt between the edges of the armour and their skin.
"Still freaks me out when he does that," Samson muttered to Keran. But at least the glowy mage hadn’t taken his sword this time, which Samson was putting to good use on his own.
These templars were equipped to deal with mages. Normal mages, the kind who had never been in a fight and had no weapon besides their magic, the kind that would be lambs to the slaughter after one smite. They weren’t equipped to deal with the Hawkes, and they certainly weren’t equipped to deal with Justice.
Grooves between stones turned pools of blood into rivers, and armoured templars became armoured corpses, or at least armoured wounded in the case of Thrask, who staggered to one knee, bleeding from the thigh.
"Shit," Cullen cursed, grabbing him under the armpits and pulling him out of the fray. "Healer!"
Except the healer wasn’t in, and that was fast becoming a lot of blood.
"Here." Artie pressed a potion into Cullen’s hand, kneeling to put pressure on the wound while trying not to think of the mess. This, at least, was something he could do. "All my life I wanted my magic gone, and right now I wished I had it back," he rambled while Cullen fed Thrask the potion. "Irony. Cormac! You got any magic fingers at the moment?"
Cormac slammed his glaive against the side of a templar’s neck, doing far more damage than chain could help with. "Aw, shit, really? On your right, Ser Templar," he said, leaning over Thrask’s shoulder and pressing his fingers to the edge of the wound. "My apologies, I’m quite terrible at this. It’s going to scar. On the other hand, you’re unlikely to bleed out," he rattled on, trying to scrape up enough mana to make a difference and enough concentration to convince it to do what he meant, instead of what it wanted to. "It’s not going to kill you, but you might want Anders to have a look at that, once he stops… Justicing, over there."
In the background, Justice continued his quest to make mincemeat of all that stood against him. "WERE YOU THERE WHEN HE WAS VIOLATED? DID YOU HOLD HIM DOWN WHEN HIS WILL WAS STOLEN? DID YOU HOLD THE BRAND WHEN THE LAWS OF YOUR ORDER WERE DISREGARDED IN THE SERVICE OF ARROGANCE?"
And that was something Samson knew all the words to, and if he had more breath, he might’ve sung along. Maybe they weren’t talking about the same mage, but that just made it worse, didn’t it? The Tranquil were still in here, somewhere, he thought, and he’d come in to get them, expecting no one else would, but that spirit seemed bent on it just as he was. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy, after all. Just a little terrifying. In fact, Samson thought if he hadn’t been through quite so much shit already in his life, he’d be wishing he’d worn the brown trousers, right about now.