[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 2
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Madame Lusine ♀, Anton Hawke ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: G- (L1 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Politics, a bit of drinking
Notes: The debates begin! Anton vs Madame Lusine.
"Messere Hawke," said Madame Lusine, her smile the cold, threatening kind, "please get down from that table. I’m not paying you, and neither is anyone else in this room."
"Payment, madame?" Anton said, placing a hand over his chest, still looming over her. "No, no. I merely wish to address my adoring public. I always do that for free. In fact, I can do one better. A round of drinks, on me!"
Anton counted out his coins to cheers from the room’s patrons, blithely ignoring Lusine’s glare.
"You can address your ‘adoring public’ outside of my building," groused Lusine, taking his coin anyway, "instead of trying to buy their votes with my drinks!"
Anton’s expression didn’t change, but something in his posture did, just enough to give Lusine pause. "My coin. Your drinks. Seems an even balance. But, if you’re feeling left out, you could always join me on the table." He waggled his eyebrows at her. "For a debate, of course. A rousing discussion of our political values, and our plans for the city. All while our audience sits back with a drink and a copy of the Gazette."
"I’m not sure I see what’s to debate. You’re a profligate Fereldan wastrel and I’m a hardworking native businesswoman. We all know who anyone with the sense to not show up drunk will be voting for." Lusine sniffed and eyed Anton like something she’d scraped off her shoe. Certainly he’d put a lot of money into the Blooming Rose, over the years, but who could be certain he hadn’t taken just as much out, winning it at cards from people who might have spent it on entertainment and drinks.
"Ah, but there are rumours of your tyranny and anti-Fereldan sentiment. Those won’t serve you nearly so well as my contributions to the well-being of Lowtown’s merchants and beggars." Anton’s smile was divinely serene.
"Fereldans? Who cares about Fereldans and beggars? These things are decided at the top. They always have been, and no amount of posturing and offering ballots to illiterates is going to change that." Lusine shook her head. "Most of the power in Kirkwall passes through this room. They know me!"
"Who cares about Fereldans? Why, Lord Dog, the Doglord, that’s who." Anton grinned, triumphantly. "The doglord beggar who came back to claim his mother’s noble legacy, and has been doing a spectacular job with it, if I do say so, myself. Which I do."
"And is that how you plan to sway your mob?" Lusine said, folding her arms across her chest. Still, over her shoulder, she met the bartender’s eye and motioned for drinks. Perhaps if she got the fool drunk enough, he would incriminate himself or at least come out looking like a buffoon. More of a buffoon. "By giving false hope to these beggars and refugees?"
"False hope? No! The hope I bring is anything but false!" Though he spoke to Lusine, he projected his voice.
"Ah yes," Lusine said, cutting him off before he could elaborate, "because any of them might also have a parent of Kirkwall nobility! How wonderfully optimistic of you."
"Oh, for the love of— Anton, what are you doing on the table?"
Anton looked up from scowling at Lusine to see his uncle slump onto a barstool. "I’m explaining to dear Madame Lusine why I’d make a better viscount."
"Oh good," Gamlen grunted. "I was afraid you were about to start dancing." Turning his back to his nephew, Gamlen waved down the bartender.
"Imagine a city in which the roofs don’t leak. A place where you can get a healer in the middle of the night — where epidemics don’t sweep through the population because the servants have no access to healers. On that note, imagine a city with healers — and you can blame the former Knight-Commander for our current lack. Imagine a Kirkwall without demons under every doorstep. This is what I hope to be able to bring you," Anton pronounced to the crowd. "A world in which you need not fear mages or templars — where your sisters and sons won’t be stolen from you, and their Maker-given talents corrupted and left untrained and dangerous."
"And how’s this different to Tevinter, exactly?" Lusine asked, bringing up every Marcher’s most compelling objection.
"Because in Tevinter, the mages are in charge of everything. In Kirkwall, we don’t want them in charge. We want them using their magic as the Chant directs — to serve the people, not rule over them." Anton smiled slyly. "How many of you own little magical things — self-heating teapots, cold-cupboards, shielded hats? You’re already letting magic serve you. I want to open the way to let it serve us all, better. And more than that, to use it to create safe, stable homes for the poor and the refugees, so they don’t feel the need to try to rob the lot of us, just to try to get something to eat, or a warmer coat. We make them comfortable, and we make ourselves safe."
"Well, that all sounds lovely," Lusine said with an unfriendly smile, "but how do you plan to maintain that? Will you pay the mages or will they be glorified slave labour? If you pay them, will the money be coming out of your pocket? And will the templars keep a close eye on every use of magic? Meredith was sick in the head, but she at least acknowledged the dangers of magic. With all the demons and blood magic this city has seen, do you think the people are going to embrace your plan so readily?"
"The mages are here of their own free will," Anton went on, meeting smile for smile, "and they’ll provide what services they can in exchange for room and board. The templars will keep an eye on them, just as they always have. We’ve lost more lives from lack of healers than to demons, and paranoia helps no one. I am, however, deeply curious as to your plan, then, since you are so intent on defeating mine. Or on trying to defeat mine."
Sabina passed with a tray of drinks and offered one out to Anton, who took it with a wink.
"I think it’s time for the elves to become full citizens of Kirkwall," Lusine argued. "I also think we need a new Chantry, spreading the Maker’s word across this fair city. It’s the Chantry’s duty to deal with the beggars and the refugees, not ours! It’s not a political issue. It’s a religious one, and now that we have no Chantry, you’re right, we are in danger! There’s no one to keep these people under control!"
"So, you’re aiming for control, instead of actually fixing anything?" Anton asked over his pint, hip cocked as he listened to Lusine go on.
"Control will fix things," Lusine insisted. "These people have no moral centre. They need the Chantry to guide them and care for them, to keep them out from under our feet."
"So you’re claiming the moral high-ground," Anton said, his tone neutral. He let the irony speak for itself.
From the doorway, Varric shook his head at the scene. Anton still stood on his table, looking down at a pinched-face Lusine over his tankard as they argued. At the nearest table, a few patrons watched and exchanged coins.
"Do I want to know why you’re on a table, Lord Dog?" Varric called out to defuse the building tension. Anton and Lusine looked up as he sauntered over. "I mean, your clothes are still on, so I’ll take that as a good sign."
From his seat at the bar, Gamlen nodded. "That’s what I said."
"See? Now you have me agreeing with your uncle," Varric said, coming to a stop in front of Anton’s table. He was used to looking up at the Hawkes but he didn’t usually need to bend his neck back this far.
"Just the man I wanted to see!" Anton hopped down from the table, somehow not spilling his drink. "You and I, we have to have a talk about those handbills. Was that really wise? Didn’t they quote cheaper, originally?" His voice dropped, as he stepped closer to Varric.
"Of course they quoted cheaper. You didn’t say anything about colour in the original proposal." Varric shook his head. "Come on, buy me a drink, and we’ll talk printing."
"Not here," Lusine declared. "There will be no campaigning in my establishment."
"Except your own, of course." Anton winked, finished the drink, and left the glass as he clapped Varric on the back and they headed for the door. "Come on, let’s go have a drink in the garden of Thedosian delights, and you can tell me everything I need to know about not making another stupid mistake with the printer."