[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 14
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Merrill ♀, the Noble Council of Kirkwall
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Colourful language, nationalism
Notes: A meeting of the Noble Council of Kirkwall. The baroness is unimpressed. The viscount wants a potion for this headache.
"I don’t give a fuck what the Vint thinks!" Lord Bonnaire shouted down the table. "The Vints had their chance and you see what they did to this place! There’s fucking demons in everything!"
"Bonnaire, my ass," Lord Marchaund whispered to Lady LeClair, and she giggled quietly, behind her hand.
"Vint?" Lady Olmos asked, eyes blazing as she leapt up and slammed her hands on the table. "My family have been living in Kirkwall since the Steel Age! And we’re from Antiva!"
"Antivan, Tevene, it’s all the same language anyway." Lord Bonnaire crossed his ankles on the edge of the table and leaned back. "The point is, we don’t need foreigners telling us what to do with our city."
"Your city?" Lord Brannon knocked over his chair as he leapt to his feet. "You bloodsucking Orlesians have been trying to wring out every drop the Magisters didn’t take with them when they left! Lady Faolain and I are the only members of the Council from Marcher families at all! At least Antiva City used to be a Marcher city before it grew into a whole nation! You don’t like it, go crying to your poncey Ciriane friends down south!"
Anton glanced at Bran and rolled his eyes, getting an exhausted head-shake, in return. "This is hardly the point. The fact is that all of you are of noble families sufficiently well-respected to have earned a spot on the council. All else aside, you are members of the Council of Kirkwall, and I expect you to behave like adults, and not like my little brother, when he was all of six. Stop pulling each others’ hair and get back on point. Baroness Merrill proposes that Lowtown is in serious need of public works. The roads are potted so badly there are merchants who can’t get their carts to the market. We have cracking walls and leaking roofs. The sewers are backed up into Darktown in at least two places I can name. Is this the Kirkwall we want to show to the rest of Thedas? It’s between the Docks and Hightown. Every visitor passes through it. Completely preventable diseases are rampant, and a lot of these people work for you, so they’re bringing that into your homes. Now, what are we going to do about it?"
"Aren’t there already construction efforts being done in Lowtown?" Lord Tolbert sniffed. "And now you’re asking for more? I was unaware the Noble Council was a charity!"
Lord Bonnaire loudly hummed his agreement, while Anton rubbed his forehead where a headache was growing.
"You mean the Alienage?" Merrill asked, sitting straight-backed and uncomfortable next to Lady LeClair, who had yet to even acknowledge she was in the room. "The Alienage is a part of Lowtown, true, but this is a separate problem. Separate problems. The roads in Lowtown are narrow as it is, and if a cart gets stuck, it could hold up the entire quarter. We already have a construction crew willing to work on the repairs, as well as volunteers who are eager to help fix up their — our city."
"But there is still the cost of materials," Lady Olmos continued before Merrill could. "And the cost of the workers aside from the volunteers. Lowtown is quite a bit in disrepair, I hear, but this is still an enormous project, on top of another enormous project. How much of this is going to come out of our pockets?"
Lady Olmos sounded sceptical, but at least she wasn’t outright hostile, which was more than Anton could say of most of the room.
"My family owns a mine directly beside an old Tevinter quarry," Anton pointed out. "The materials cost is primarily paying the miners and smiths for their service in producing the materials. Just think — Clean buildings of the Imperium’s favourite stone, full of healthy people, who are ready to go to work. If there were ever an insult to Tevinter, I think that would be it. A single-finger salute executed with both hands." He paused and waved to Bran. "And yes, your money. Let’s talk about your money."
A book landed on the table with an echoing thump, and Anton opened it to somewhere near the middle. "Here we have the records of the reconstruction of the Alienage. It was a huge project that needed to be done extremely quickly, since the buildings were in poor enough repair they were actually dangerous to leave standing. Let’s see… The Chantry contributed nothing, which is to be expected — they have their own problems, right now. Though it looks like they have been contributing to providing food for the poor, which is a nice change. Sister Lorena has been very good about keeping me in the loop about the Chantry’s public expenditures. And it looks like we’ve had several private donations from the Merchant’s Guild. The dwarves are very interested in this project. They’ve got a lot of pride riding on living somewhere with decent construction. Oh, and here’s the Miners’ Guild contributions… And it looks like thirty percent of the Alienage construction is being paid straight out of my pocket. Your taxes, total, account for twelve percent of what’s gone to the project. Now, what was that about another massive expenditure you can’t afford?"
Silence fell over the table, broken only when Anton shut the book with another satisfying thump. None of the nobles were quite able to meet his eye. Except for Merrill, of course, who met his glance with a proud smile.
"I should still like to see the exact numbers of what this will cost and to whom," Lord Brannon said. "But… there are, perhaps, worse uses of our resources." He ignored Lord Bonnaire’s glare and Lady LeClair’s thin-lipped expression.
Anton sat back and grinned. "One might even argue this is one of the very best uses of our resources. We’ll make Kirkwall the envy of the Marches, yet!" He considered saying the envy of Orlais, considering the faces around him, but Anton wasn’t sure he wanted Kirkwall to be the envy of Orlais.
"Not with the Chantry in ruins, we won’t," Guillaume de Launcet grunted from the other end of the table. And Anton had been enjoying the silence from his end of the table… "And what are we doing towards that, Viscount? The house of Andraste is in tatters, and you come to us about potholes in Lowtown? The shame of it! Rebuilding the Chantry should have been our first priority!"
"Render unto Kirkwall what is Kirkwall’s, and unto Andraste what is hers," Anton replied with a shrug. "The Chantry has not invited the city to participate in their reconstruction, but the figures are available from Sister Lorena, in the chapel, downstairs. Sister Lorena is also accepting private donations of costs, labour, and materials, if you would like to contribute. We, the city, were asked to confirm the borders of the property and then step back, to let Her Holiness bring in architects and craftsmen she trusts. Bran sent out our surveyors, at once, and they’ve done their part. Sisters Lorena and Samea have the rest under control, as accountant and local liaison for the project. I have heard they may be looking for Serault glass for some of the windows, so if any of you have connections…" He shrugged again, expressively.
"Oh, Serault glass is the very loveliest!" Merrill chimed in. "I’m sure it will be so beautiful! Everyone should have a beautiful place to worship, don’t you think?"
"Is that… elf even Andrastian?" Lord Tolbert demanded.
"Sit down, Tolbert," Lord Brannon sighed, reaching over to pull out the chair.
"How many times do I have to tell you it’s ‘tol-BEHR’, you illiterate son of a barbarian?" Lord Tolbert roared, jerking to his feet and glaring down at Lord Brannon.
"All in favour of pronouncing it ‘tol-BEHR’, say aye," Lady Faolain drawled, and the table fell silent. "It’s a good Alamarri name, Alderic. Do stop slaughtering it with your pretensions."
"As I was about to say, does it even matter if the Baroness is Andrastian? She clearly supports us having nice things," Lord Brannon argued. "And if the lot of you are representative of Our Lady’s finest, is it any wonder she hasn’t joined us, yet?"
The look Bran made into his ledger said he agreed, while Lords Tolbert and de Launcet still looked ruffled but otherwise kept their complaining to a grumble.
"Serault glass, you say?" said Lady LeClair with a smug smile. "I could look into it. Our Chantry deserves the very finest, and you know the marquis is a cousin of mine?"
"A few times removed," Lord Bonnaire pointed out, "as you are so fond of reminding us. Any mention of The Shame, and you’re hardly related at all. But getting the finest Serault glass? ‘Oh yes, the marquis is a cousin of mine’!" He said this last in a breathy, high-pitched voice.
Lady LeClair’s cheeks coloured. "I do not sound like that!"
Anton wondered if this was what it was like to have children.