[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 388
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: Fenris is disappointed. Anton is a lunatic. Merrill is not doing so hot.
Across the way, Artie was still casting, launching stone at the creatures and only slamming them into the ground when no one was in range. He was on his last potion, and he’d dropped the shield once Cormac threw up the barrier.
"I need a hammer," Fenris decided, levering himself up on wobbly legs, face set in determination.
"You can’t get through the barrier," Artie replied, which Fenris found out the hard way, smashing his nose into the invisible wall.
"Fasta vass, Cormac!" Fenris swore, clutching his nose.
Cormac might have had something witty to say, if he’d heard Fenris at all, but all of his attention was on the fires and the two barriers. His own shield had been sacrificed, already, to fuel the flames. And that was what gave him the idea. It was terrible, but he was still carrying that healing potion Merrill hadn’t taken. With a deep breath, he slid down and hooked a foot under the statue’s foot, as it stepped forward to swing at Anton again.
Behind him, Cullen saw it happen. Misread it at first, and ran in, swinging, trying to get to Cormac before he fell under a foot, but the flicker and pop as Cormac’s shield reasserted itself in the midst of a good lot of screaming reminded him that Cormac did that. Intentionally. The heat overhead increased sharply, but the statues didn’t soften enough, even as they creaked more and moved slower.
Cormac clutched at this statue’s ankle, hauling himself back onto the foot. He could do this. He just had to focus on the fire instead of the fact that he wasn’t sure if he had toes any more, on the left.
Anders knew that scream — he’d caused it enough times. Finishing the healing he was working on, he handed the bag of potions to Ella. "Take care of them," he said, turning around as Cormac howled, again, a long chain of expletives strung together with the occasional pause for breath. He reached out, the spell already in his hand and sincerely hoped his aim was as good as he thought it was, at this distance.
A whoop sounded from above, and Anton leapt down from a decorative fixture, warhammer slung across his back with his sash, as he landed on the shoulders of one of the smaller statues and slung the hammer back around to pound on the next statue over. Which, unfortunately, was the one his brother was lying on the foot of. The bronze dented much more easily, and he kept swinging, legs over this statue’s shoulder as it moved through the crowd, trying to ignore how far off the ground he really was. He’d done stupider things, he was sure.
Cullen was going to kill him. Or at least he planned to, once Anton was back on the ground and once Cullen had remembered how to breathe.
Leaning heavily on his warhammer, Samson panted for breath and found enough to say, "Your husband’s a nutcase."
"How do you think he became the bloody Champion of bloody Kirkwall?"
With a war-cry, Anton swung his hammer, again and again, battering the statues around him, wherever he could reach. Soon the statue Cormac clung to was pockmarked with hammer blows. A solid hit sent the next statue spinning, and Anton was about to comment on its dance moves when it overbalanced and stumbled in the wrong direction. His direction. It knocked into Anton’s statue steed, sending it staggering to the left and forward, and the next sound out of Anton was less a war-cry and more a, well, cry.
Cullen ran to the statue’s feet, closer than was smart or even sane, and wondered how the shit he was supposed to catch his husband without the plate doing him more damage.
"I’m good!" Anton yelled, hammer hanging from his arm, still tied in the sash. And then the statue staggered again. "Oh, Andraste fuck me twice! Nope. Still good!"
Cullen was going to catch his husband and then strangle him, if Anton fell.
Cormac, on the other hand, was interrupted in the middle of trying to drink a healing potion, and more of it went on his face than in his face, as the sudden change in direction launched him off the statue’s foot. He dropped the hammer, curled up, and prayed he didn’t land on anything sharp.
The flames went out, all at once, and a sudden barrier stopped him in midair. At least his toes were less broken, he figured, trying to scrounge up enough healing to make them stop hurting quite so much, so he could focus. Below him, he saw the fire start in Anders’s hand, and realised that as impressive as it might be to be standing in the air a few yards above the healer, it was quite possibly the last place he wanted to be, right that second. Dropping the healing, he rushed to step the barriers down, one at a time, dropping a couple feet each time.
Ella glanced at Anders. "Are you—?"
Flashes of flame took out the grass growing between the stones of the courtyard, and finally a pillar of flame shot up, around one of the smaller statues. The fire looked like it might burn the sky itself, it rose so tall.
"Finally!" Samson exclaimed, throwing up one hand. "That’s what we need! Keep it up… glowy healer-mage! Whatever your name is!"
"Anders," Carver supplied, looking more concerned than relieved. He remembered the last time he’d seen fire and Anders in the same room. There almost hadn’t been a room after.
And soon there was barely a statue amid the flames. Bronze sagged like aging skin, melting and bubbling where the flames were hottest. The templars didn’t dare get close enough to hammer what was left, but mages kept throwing spells, stone hitting from different directions, until the statue had become a glob.
Anton watched from his perch, one hand shielding his eyes from the heat, and Carver raised his voice. "Anton, you might want to get off your steed, unless you want your crotch melted off!" That pillar of fire was dangerously close.
"So kind of you to show such concern for my crotch," Anton quipped, even as he tried to find a way down.
Cormac finally got his feet on the ground, to his regret, as the pain shot up his leg. He burned his hand, picking Anders’s pockets for potions, one red and one blue, but it was worthwhile when he finally got that healing draught down and the grinding pain in his toes stopped. It also took care of the burns. The second draught solved another problem.
"Jump!" he shouted to Anton.
"Are you out of your mind?" Anton yelled back, as the flames licked up the side of another statue, dribbles of bronze still leaking out across the stone from where the first had gone down.
"I mean it, Anton! I’ve got you! Jump!" Cormac called out again, as Aveline and Isabela herded groups of templars out of the way of both the stomping statues and the rivulets of metal.
Anders stood, unmoving, in a circle of his own flame, apparently untouched by it, and Ella watched him in horror.
"What— what is he—? Is he all right?" She asked Cormac.
"He will be. He does this, sometimes. The last time, he melted a Tevinter magister."
The statues seemed to have figured out where the flames were coming from, and as the second one went down, bronze buckling and sliding downward over itself in seemingly-impossible ways, they turned their attentions toward the burning mage.
"I need some support over here! Knock them back!" Cormac hadn’t wanted to waste the power, but he raised a barrier around Anders. "Don’t let them step on the healer! That barrier’s not going to stop everything!" He paused. "And for Andraste’s blazing sweet sake, Anton, get the fuck off that thing before it catches!"
Artemis swore under his breath. "You know, it would easier for me to shove them back from the healer if there weren’t a barrier keeping me stuck here!" He still pushed and prodded where he could, stone pinning bronze feet to the ground.
"If I die from this…" Anton said, looking over his shoulder at the drop. That was stone. That was stone, far away enough to hurt things if fallen on. "If I die from this, Cullen is going to kick your ass!"
"It’s your ass I’m going to kick!" Cullen shouted back.
"Love you too!" Anton called down to his husband before taking a steadying breath and dropping backwards off the statue’s shoulders.
He didn’t even fall a yard, before the first barrier caught him. "Curl up, it hurts less!" Cormac shouted, bringing up the next barrier. "And you’ll move faster!"
"Do I want to move faster?" Anton asked. "I thought the whole principle here was to move slower!"
"The principle is to get your feet on the ground before I lose the spell and drop you!"
"I like that principle!" Anton sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees.
Across the courtyard, Merrill crumpled, and the vines no longer tugged at the statues. Cormac diverted enough of his attention to realise he couldn’t reach the healing potions that were still inside the barrier with Anders. "Ella? There’s an elf between the second and third pillars from the back, on the other side. Someone needs to go get her."
"I don’t see her…" Ella squinted into the distance, amid bubbling runnels of bronze.
"Exactly my point. She needs healing." Cormac lowered Anton further, and the barrier blocked a massive droplet of bronze, from another melting statue. "You’ll be on the ground in two more drops! As soon as you feel it open, pick a direction and run!"
Anton had already picked a direction. It was a direction he liked to call ‘away from the pillar of melting metal’. When the last barrier dropped, he landed on his feet and took off that way, where his husband waited, wearing a stare that either meant murder or sex, possibly both. That his armour was still on was not promising.
Looking back, Anton saw the state of the statues, and that state was liquid. Heat made grotesque forms out of cold shapes, and finally, it looked like they’d gotten the upper hand.
Even behind the pillars, Ella could feel the fire’s heat, a line of sweat forming down her back, and she kept an eye on it as she ran, finally spotting a pair of feet with white toes, poking out from behind the appointed pillar. Ella wished she’d remembered the elf’s name.
"I’m going to kill you," Cullen muttered, grabbing Anton and kissing him soundly. "Later. I’m going to kill you later. Is my hair grey yet? It will be, tomorrow."
"Mmm, as long as you suffocate me with kisses, it’ll be a good death," Anton purred, with a saucy wink.
Cullen shot a glance at Carver. "Hopeless. Your brother is hopeless."
"If you’d asked for my opinion, I could’ve told you that years ago," Carver muttered, glancing around for Merrill. "Has anyone seen—?"
And then he spotted her, pale and bloody, as Ella tried to carry her back to Anders.
"No." Carver was moving before he’d quite registered what he was seeing, sprinting across the stones to take Merrill out of Ella’s arms. Who had been watching her? Why was she — still breathing, at least. Unconscious, but not dead. Across the courtyard, Anders was still encased in a pillar of flame — useless, as a healer, completely unreachable. Cormac might actually be less useless, but potions were better than Cormac.
"Potions," Carver demanded, returning to the small knot of templars he’d just left. "Potions, bandages, anything!"
"The healer—" someone suggested, but Carver cut them off.
"The healer is on fire. Potions."
Keran came up with one, after a moment, and Carver rubbed half of it into Merrill’s bloody forearms, before slowly dribbling the rest into her mouth. He didn’t think she’d die, but he wished he could be sure.
"I was supposed to bring her back to the healer and his friend," Ella admitted.
"Shit," Carver muttered. He didn’t want to trust Cormac with this, but if nothing else, there were probably more potions there, than here. He lifted Merrill, again, and made his way around the back wall, where the melting bronze hadn’t yet reached. The statues were almost gone, and he was afraid of what Meredith might bring to bear, next.
Poking her head out from behind a pillar, Bethany had a great vantage point of the whole affair, of Anders untouched in the centre of the flames, of bronze forming molten rivers between stones… of Meredith watching, making a sound between a snarl and a cackle. Cormac’s barrier contained her but not her sword’s… magic — was magic the word? — and it still pulsed and glowed with energy.
What else could that sword do, beside bring statues to life? And looking at the wounded, at the exhaustion in her fellow mages, would they survive it?