[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 13
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Cassandra Pentaghast♀
Rating: G- (L1 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Politics and religion
Notes: Cassandra finds herself disappointed, once again. These Hawkes are really getting on her nerves
Anton had his feet on the desk, when Bran came in, looking even less amused than he had before the last petitioner.
"Get your feet off the table, Your Lordship. The Seeker is here to see you again, and I don’t need you lowering the Chantry’s opinion of Kirkwall any further, right now." Bran lingered in the doorway to the inner office, waiting.
"If the Chantry isn’t going to pick itself up and start helping people, it’s cordially invited to take its toys and go back to Val Royeaux," Anton spat, sitting up and heaving the enormous book from his lap back onto the desk. "Who wrote this crap? It’s horrible!"
"What are you reading?" Bran asked, almost afraid of the answer, as he recognised the binding style.
"City law. It’s confusing and stupid, and it contradicts itself all over the place. We really need to get some people to read this over and draft a new version that’s actually readable. I gather the newer laws are supposed to replace the older ones on the same subjects, but the older ones aren’t crossed out and the new ones don’t reference the ones they’re meant to replace! It’s just too easy to make a mistake!" Anton ran a hand through his hair, knocking his circlet down the back of his chair. After a moment of fishing around, he found it and put it back on his head. "Well, let her in, then! The law is stupid, and it can wait."
Bran shook his head wearily, his sigh long-suffering as he poked his head back out into the hall and gestured the Seeker into the room.
"Hello again!" Anton said, sickeningly cheerful, as Cassandra paused in front of his desk. "It’s lovely to see you. I’m afraid I don’t have any of those spinach pastries today. More’s the pity."
"I’m afraid I am not here for your pastries," Cassandra said, "as tasty as those were." She still hovered in front of his desk, and suddenly it occurred to Anton that he was being rude.
"I may not have pastries, but I do have chairs. Rather nice ones, in fact. Wonderfully cushy." Anton gestured at the chair closest to Cassandra. "Please avail yourself of one, if you wish." Really, he’d just rather she stop looming.
"Thank you." Cassandra looked no more comfortable seated, it turned out, and Anton wondered if she was always like that or if he was just special. "You are, of course, aware already that I am here on Divine Justinia’s behalf. While the state of Kirkwall’s Chantry was and is terrible, that is not what brought me here."
Anton’s eyebrows arched curiously. "Is that a fact? Then what are you doing in our fair city?"
Cassandra paused and cleared her throat, watching Anton’s face, intently. "Are you familiar with the Inquisition?"
"The lunatic early Andrastians bent on murdering every mage in Thedas, before the Chantry tamed them? Oh, yes, and I’m familiar with the Templars as well. Not so tame any more. Seems a good many of them have gone feral, in fact." Anton’s smile could have put a layer of frost on a fresh pot of tea. "I’m married to the Knight-Commander of Kirkwall. I’m familiar with the history of the Order."
"I will never understand why the Divine chose that name, in these times, but it is not my place to ask." Cassandra opened her mouth to continue, but Anton cut her off.
"The Divine? Are you telling me the Divine has chosen to … resurrect the Inquisition, in light of this abject failure of the Templar Order to do their bloody jobs?" Anton’s voice grew steadily louder, until he was quite certain Bran could hear every word. "And why have you come to me, then? To give me the opportunity, as the Champion of Kirkwall, to kiss my family goodbye, before you have them all killed for being my father’s children?"
"What?" Cassandra looked entirely taken aback. "No, no, this is very much the opposite situation. The Divine is looking to create a force to prevent the worst abuses on either side. To prevent another Kirkwall, another Kinloch Hold. And she is looking for someone to lead it. That is why I am here, Viscount. Divine Justinia asked me to choose a competent hero, beloved by the people, to become the new Inquisitor."
Anton sat back. "Me? Lead an arm of the Chantry?" Anton’s face twisted, and he coughed into his fist. "Excuse me, but I’m about to choke on my horrified laughter."
Cassandra shrugged one shoulder. "It is an honest offer," she said. "An honest request, even. We need — the Inquisition needs — someone with your… charisma at its helm."
Charisma. Anton coughed again. "Oh, look at that. More horrified laughter. You will forgive me, Seeker, but after what happened here, I am leery of any sentence that puts the word ‘honest’ in the context of the word ‘Chantry’." Cassandra didn’t bristle, but she straightened in her seat. "No offense meant, Seeker. I am sure the Divine’s intentions are good. In fact, a third party policing the templars and mages isn’t the worst idea I’ve heard, but I’m not sure what you expect me to do with it."
"The same thing you have done for this city," Cassandra said. "Reach out to both templars and mages, earn the trust and respect of the people."
"I’d like to remind you that I managed to do all that quite by accident."
"Perhaps, but the people recognise your competence. They would trust you. And truly, would they be wrong? You are the Champion. You single-handedly defeated the most dangerous enemy this city faced."
"True story?" Anton sighed. "I didn’t. It was politics. I struck the final blow, and several more before it, but I didn’t do it alone. And what I’ve done for this city? You mean what I’m doing for this city. It’s not finished. I’m not finished. I can’t just leave Kirkwall with an elven baroness, a freshly rebuilt alienage, and construction starting on Lowtown. It’ll be war, in days. The nobles don’t much like me, or my politics. I’m viscount by popular vote. Lowtown elected me, not Hightown. Everything I’ve done would be undone in a matter of hours and then I’d just have wasted my time and accomplished nothing, and what kind of message is that to send to the Chantry and its people?"
"But—" Cassandra began, preparing to deliver a rousing response.
"No," Anton replied, simply, leaning back in his chair. "I won’t abandon the people of Kirkwall. And you don’t want my help, anyway. I’m an infamous gamesman. A gambler, and a very good one, if I do say so, but not really the sort you want in charge of some new, revolutionary commission on magic. You want my older brother — oldest brother, really."
"The one who married the elf?" Cassandra couldn’t recall the other Hawke brother’s name, but she definitely remembered the elven nobleman he lived with.
"No, the one who disappeared with the Darktown healer."
Cassandra rubbed her forehead, the skin tight around her eyes. "The… other brother. The one I have not met?" At least, she hoped he was the only Hawke sibling she hadn’t met.
Anton nodded. "The one who got punched by an ogre and almost lost an arm to a dragon." Which probably didn’t do too much for his argument, in hindsight.
"And you say he ran off with this Darktown healer, who I keep hearing about? Why do you think I should be looking for him?"
"Because if you’re looking for a leader and a Hawke, he’s your best bet." Anton almost felt bad for Cassandra, for the tired way her shoulders started to droop. "And he’s already invested in this mage-templar war. You want the Hawke who faced down the Arishok? Then you want him. You want Cormac."
"And I suppose if I find him, he will point me in the direction of another sibling," Cassandra said. "That seems to be the pattern so far. As charming as your family has been, Viscount, this is getting repetitive."
"It’s been repetitive, so far, because you weren’t given enough background to find the right one of us. You are looking for me. You should be looking for him. And if you find him, let me know. I owe him fifty sovereigns." Anton paused, holding up his hands. "You have to understand why Cormac’s the one. Obviously, you’re aware that our father was Malcolm Hawke — a mage."
"You’re telling me your brother’s an apostate?" Cassandra interrupted.
"My brother was my father’s replacement. The rest of us were his kids, but Cormac was the oldest, and Dad wasn’t gentle. If anything happened to Dad, Cormac was supposed to save us. More than that? He did. We got out of Lothering, because that idiot ran headlong into an ogre, to give my sister a chance to get a shot in. He’s willing to make sacrifices you’d never ask from anyone, if he believes what he’s doing is right — and he’ll sacrifice himself, not anyone else. First in, last out, every time. I kept us eating, when we got to Kirkwall. He kept us safe. Besides, he’s strong, handsome, and heroic. Women will swoon. He’ll catch them. But, the man’s got no patience for bullshit. My patience … well, I once thought it was endless, and then somehow I became Viscount of Kirkwall. He’s got a style. You’re going to want someone else to handle delicate negotiations, but if you want someone who’s not afraid to tell people there’s gong to be change — someone who’s going to mean it? … Actually, in that case you want my husband, but he’s busy. But, if you can convince Cormac that you’re doing the right thing, he’ll bring it together in ways you never even considered doing it. And he’ll tell you if you’re wrong."
The chair creaked as Cassandra sat back, staring out the window without seeing it. "Your family is a curious one, Viscount," she said, "which, I assure you, means something coming from me." The smile she gave him was more of a grimace. "But, the way you speak… You don’t know where Cormac is now, do you?"
"Not a clue," Anton answered cheerfully.
"Of course," Cassandra sighed. "From your description, he sounds like just the sort of man we need. But that does not help me if I cannot find him. That, and if he’s run off with the mage who, rumour has it, incited the rebellion…" She shook her head. "I cannot see the Divine approving."
"I assure you that the Divine wouldn’t approve of me, either."
"Oh, I don’t know," Cassandra said around a growing smirk. "Sister Nightingale spoke highly enough of you. But I see that there is no convincing you." She rose to her feet as she spoke, pausing just long for Anton to object — which he didn’t — before continuing. "As you say, you have other duties, and the people of Kirkwall need stability now, of all times. I wish you the best of luck, and I am sorry to have wasted your time."