[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 387
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Carver Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Varric ♂, Isabela ♀, Aveline ♀, Anton Hawke ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Ella ♀, Keran ♂, Ser Marlein ♀, Merrill ♀, Samson ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Sebastian ♂, Nathaniel Howe ♂, Meredith Stannard ♀
Rating: M (L2 N0 S0 V3 D0)
Warnings: Canon-typical violence
Notes: One statue becomes many statues. A change in tactics.
Bethany exchanged a look with Carver. "She doesn’t seem concerned," Bethany said, tipping her head in Meredith’s direction. If anything she looked smug.
Meredith raised her sword again, making it crackle and spit with electricity, and another statue moved, followed soon by another, and then another, beginning with the one at the other end of the chain. And that part wasn’t a problem, at first… until Anton saw movement out of the corner of his eye and saw the statue they’d just battered stretch out its arms. Arms that it used as legs, separating from the rest of its chain-tangled body.
"Oh fuck," Anton breathed, turning ashen.
Next to him, Aveline drew in a sharp breath. "You really test the limits of loyalty, you know that?" she asked.
"That is not how this is supposed to work," Keran breathed, backing away from the thing.
"I don’t think swords are going to help!" Cullen shouted. "Anyone got a hammer?"
"Hammers, hammers…" Merrill tapped her foot as she bit off the tip of her tongue and wrapped vines around the statue-thing. "Oh! Isn’t there a shop that sells them over by the stairs to Lowtown? I got lost over there once!"
Anders shrugged at Nate. "You heard the lady. Warhammers."
"There aren’t any shops open," Nate protested. "There aren’t even any shops closed, down here. The Gallows has rolled up for the night."
"I’ll go with you," Varric volunteered, relieving him of a healing potion. "They’ve got storage in some of the passages. Just gotta find the right door. I trust you can open a lock?"
"Oh, don’t you doubt me for a minute," Nate smiled faintly and followed Varric, dodging the slow feet of the statues trying to mash their tiny army into a paste. "Why does everyone assume I can pick locks?" he asked, after a moment. "I was going to be the Arl of Amaranthine, for Andraste’s sake!"
"You’ve got that look about you. Like you’re not really nobility, but you know all their secrets. Kind of goes hand in hand with opening things people don’t want you in." Varric picked up the pace. "Less talking. More running."
Cormac reached for more lightning, aiming high, so it would leap between the heads of the statues, but not disrupt too much on the ground. If he could just confuse these things, maybe they’d run down.
In the stone shield’s shadow, Fenris finally stopped dry heaving, his stomach muscles cramped and shaky, and he looked up at a breathy curse from Artemis. "Amatus," he asked in a ragged voice, "what is happening?" He sat draped against the column, the stone smooth and cold under his cheek, and debated the feasibility of getting up and grabbing his sword.
"The statues," Artemis managed between spells, shaking out fingers that were starting to burn. "Meredith’s brought the statues to life. And stabbing them is proving less than useful, so stay where you are."
Varric had said they were hollow, and the last statue had rung like it. Stabbing wouldn’t help, but smashing might.
A steadying breath, and then Artemis shouted across to Cormac. "Clear the courtyard, and get me a lyrium potion!"
Cormac moved, confusion on his face, for a split second, and then he realised what Artie was probably about to do. "Back! Back! Everyone to the walls!" he shouted, making his way to Anders. He relieved the healer of a couple of bottles and pressed a kiss to the side of that tired face. "We’ll make it. We’ve done worse."
Anders squeezed his eyes shut and laughed. "Magisters, broodmothers, dragons… All in a day’s work, right? If she sprouts tentacles, though, I’m out."
Cormac paused. "You don’t think she’s going to, do you?"
"No, not really, but it’s Tuesday."
Shaking his head, Cormac sprinted back to where his brother waited, shouting for people to get out of the way. Cullen, Carver, and Ruvena refused to be moved, attacking the statues every time they tried to follow the fleeing crowd. Finally, vines sprung up from the ground, again, winding up the statues’ legs.
"Go!" Merrill shouted at them. "I’ve got them! Go!"
The vines wouldn’t hold long, not against things that powerful, but they were already slow, and the vines slowed them even more.
"Take these," Cormac said, pressing the lyrium potions into Artie’s hands. "I have to get to Merrill. That is a lot of blood."
"Thanks," Artemis said, before tossing back one of the potions, and the feeling rushed back into his fingers fast enough to hurt. "Fenris, you might want to shift behind the column in case I can’t keep the shield up."
The courtyard was clear, and when Artemis cast, he didn’t need to restrain himself. After years, decades, of tightly wound control, he let go as his magic seeped into the stones. An earthquake shook the ground, the tangled cluster of statues its epicentre. Stone cracked and split, jolted upwards under bronze feet, and the statues threw out their arms as though to steady themselves. They toppled, one after another, one into another, hard enough to dent a face, a shoulder, to batter a knee back in the wrong direction.
The Hawkes and their army clutched to the walls and columns to stay upright. Marlein caught Samson when he almost toppled back onto his ass, and, crouched behind his column, Fenris felt the earth shake and smiled, a poorly timed joke on the tip of his tongue.
Before the world stopped shaking, Artie cast another spell, and with a clench of his fist, slammed the statues trying to get back up into the ground again. And again, until bronze faces started to cave in.
"Amatus," Fenris warned, seeing the movement before Artemis did. He grabbed up his sword but trying to glow made his stomach shift sideways.
"Oh, fuck me!" Artemis cursed, jumping when another statue dropped to the ground directly in front of him. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" He scrambled to cast, shoving the statue back, then again when it only tottered a few steps. A third shove, and he finally noticed the numbness creeping up his arms. The stone wall swayed, a few stones dropping to the ground, and out of the corner of his eye, Artemis saw statues dropping from the other columns as well. He could still hit a few, but they were too spread out. He knocked back another potion and tried not to let the despair show on his face.
Nathaniel and Varric returned, balancing warhammers on their shoulders and found an even bigger mess than what they’d left.
Cormac looked on, helpless, as Merrill continued to bleed for the vines.
"Can’t heal me. It’s not going to work," she muttered. "You want to help me, heal yourself, and get in the way of a vine. They’re not alive. They can’t sustain me."
Slinging his glaive across his back, Cormac eyed the returning hammer-bearers. "Done," he told Merrill, and ran over to relieve Varric of some weight.
"There’s more, but they’re fucking heavy," Varric muttered, dumping the warhammers he held in a heap at the edge of the courtyard.
"Hammers!" Nathaniel called out, dropping more onto the pile. "Come get hammers! Your swords are useless!"
"Heavier than I’m used to, but let’s see what we can do," Cormac muttered, hefting one.
"I thought you were a mage," Nathaniel teased, having seen Anders do some terrifying things with nothing but a staff.
"That’s talent," Cormac said, with a grin. "This is skill." He raised a barrier around Artemis and Fenris and charged in, to throw himself at the ankles of the statues. Dents began to appear, lower than the ones Artie had inflicted, but not enough to make a real difference. He tried pounding the toes flat, to throw off their balance, but getting that close to the front of the feet was asking for trouble. One of Merrill’s vines swept him out of the way of a kick, taking a firm bite out of his shoulder, for the trouble.
That was what she’d meant, he realised. She needed someone else’s blood to heal her. Well, as long as she kept him from becoming flat, he’d pay the price.
"So, we have mages! We have an awful blighted lot of mages!" Samson shouted across the courtyard, as he tested the weight on the hammer he’d just picked up. "So, where’s the fire? Fire and bronze! It’s not that hard to melt!" A stone shifted under his feet. "And knock it off with the earthquakes! Andraste’s tits, it’s gonna do us more harm than good if you drop those blighted things on us!"
Fire… That was one of those things Cormac hardly considered, any more, since Anders was so uncomfortable with it. But, no one would have to see this fire. He squinted at the two barriers he was already holding. Four. He could maintain four firestorms, and contain them inside the statues. More than that, and he’d get sloppy.
"Anton! Carver! Get hammers and hit where I tell you!" he called, stepping onto the foot of a smaller statue and wrapping his arms around the ankle as he cast. He’d likely be safe, at least for a little while, like that.
Anton adjusted to the weight of the hammer in his hands. No matter how hard he swung, it seemed to take forever to hit its target, but he was nothing if not flexible. It was just a matter of learning the timing.
Merrill’s vines moved, focusing on the statues that shuffled too close to Anders and his makeshift clinic. Anders didn’t have the time to worry about them, or, rather, Anders didn’t allow himself the time to worry about them, not when templars were asking for fire and not when there was another templar gasping for breath under crushed plate.
Keran. Anders called a Tranquil over to help him, pulling at buckles as quickly as he could, already smoothing healing into Keran’s stomach, where the armour had crushed him.
"For Andraste’s sake," Sebastian swore. "I can help! Will you let me go?"
"We’re not quite that desperate yet, Sebastian," Anders said without looking over.
Mere feet away, one statue pulled a leg free of the vines, but stone rose up around it instead, pinning it back in place.
The statues began to turn more slowly, and their torsos began to gather condensation. A warm rain drizzled down from where the sea air collided with the suddenly-warm metal. Unfortunately, they weren’t getting hot enough to make a significant difference. Cormac had been hoping they’d shear if he heated them in the middle, but it wasn’t working fast enough. He couldn’t get enough heat going to compensate for the cool air and the thickness of the metal.
Mallets continued to slam into the legs of the rampaging statues, and every few minutes, more templars joined the fight, as the number of available warhammers increased. But, when all was done and Varric and Nathaniel stood poised, but unmoving, at the edge of the courtyard, there were still more unarmed than armed.
"Smith the Smith!" Aveline yelled at Varric, between swings at a statue’s toes. "Go wake up Smith!"
"Did that make any sense to you?" Nathaniel asked after a moment, but the way Varric’s eyes lit up when he snapped his fingers looked good.
"C’mon. Lowtown. We’ll appropriate a cart, this time. I’m not running back and forth if I don’t have to." And Varric was off again, with Nathaniel behind him.
Cormac concentrated on the fire, trying to touch more of the metal with it, and his shield started to flicker as the flames licked out, manifesting around the metal instead of just in the cavity inside the statues. "Justice! I could use some help, here!"
Anders heard — Cormac wasn’t hurt. Cormac wasn’t yelling for him. Cormac was yelling for Justice, which meant something he wasn’t going to like.
"I can’t get it hot enough! Ella?" Cormac remembered the girl’s name from when Keran had yelled it, earlier. "Bethy? Merrill?"
"I’ve got the big one!" Bethany called back. "I don’t know how much the hexes are helping, but you have those! They don’t have minds, I can’t confuse them! I can’t even find what makes them go — it’s like they’re puppets!"
"I can help hold them, but—" Merrill cursed in a long stream of Elvish as another statue broke free. She cast again, starting to look a bit pale from blood loss, and more vines rose up around the statue. "They don’t have minds or blood or bodies, and I can only do so much. I’m sorry!"
From where she hovered among the Tranquil, Ella looked back at Cormac like a cornered deer. "What? I-I’m not… I just make copies! And clean!"
"Just keep hitting them!" Aveline barked, sweat dripping down the bridge of her nose. "Unless we find a furnace big enough, that’s the best we can do!"