[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 25
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Kallian Tabris ♀, Varania ♀, Merrill ♀, Fenris ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Sword jokes and actual swording
Notes: Cake and a friendly duel.
"Emissaries from Kirkwall have arrived bearing gifts!" Theron shouted across the camp. "Cakes and ale, in honour of our new village! And me! Because I’m awesome!"
"Oh, stuff a cork in it, halla-fucker!" one of the scouts called from beside the fire, throwing a pine cone in Theron’s direction.
Theron caught the pine cone and threw it right back, nailing the scout in the ass.
"Are they still calling you that?" Artemis asked, head tilted. "I thought they’d stopped after the, ah. You know. The halla." He still didn’t know where that particular nickname came from. He’d heard Tamlen call Theron that a few times when they were still kids, but the one time Artie asked, Theron went red and sputtery and changed the subject. Artie still prayed there were no actual halla involved in that.
"Apparently," Theron grumbled, glaring at the cackling elves around the fire.
"Oh, ignore them," Merrill said, pressing a cup of ale into Theron’s hand and taking a sip from her own. "And don’t worry, Artie, I still don’t think you look anything like a halla."
"Well, that’s… um." Artemis blinked and stared down at the ground, a look of horror slowly breaking across his face. "Wait, what?" He spun on the pine-cone-throwing scout. "Am I the halla in this scenario?"
"Careful," one of the other elves, wide-eyed, hissed to her friend. "That’s the mage shem who flattened the ground!"
The scout went from laughing to terrified in the space of a second.
Merrill opened her mouth to explain, but Theron slapped a hand over it.
"Yes and no," he said, after a moment. "Tamlen… didn’t have the same appreciation for shemlen. Used to say you were all animals, and that bit of fur I always found so charming was proof of it. He’d tell me he’d be watching me around the halla. It just… stuck." Theron smiled at the box in his hands. "I miss that laughing asshole."
"Me too. I wish he were here so I could punch him in the fucking face, the little shit," Artie huffed, all burning cheeks and bruised pride. He glared at the scout. "You better not try to hitch me to an aravel."
Theron leaned in to whisper in Artie’s ear. "Why would I hitch you to an aravel, when there are so many more fun things I could tie you to?"
Ashalle yanked the tip of Theron’s ear. "Not in front of your mother."
"Ow, Ashalle!" Theron laughed and stumbled to the side. "I’m not just some fool child with tight pants, any more!"
"No, now he’s a foolish grown man with tight pants and a persistent fetish for beasts of burden!" the scout called out. "Hitch him to an aravel? Seems like a waste, when he could push six across the plains!" he shot a glance at Artemis and considered exactly how dangerous that glare might be. "Joking. Totally joking. Not serious at all."
"How do you put up with this?" Fenris muttered to Kalli, after a few moments.
"Frequent duels." Kalli grinned. "I don’t have to hurt anyone. I just have to shame a few people, every once in a while."
Fenris could picture that. "I won’t need to duel anyone over my husband’s halla-status, will I?" he drawled.
"I think he has the situation well in hand," she said as Artemis said something about gladly pushing the one scout across the plains and possibly down this mountain. Kalli watched the sweat bead on the scout’s forehead. "Which is a shame. I’m sure the ladies — and Artemis — would appreciate seeing the way you wield a sword."
Fenris smirked, not needing to look over his shoulder to know the gaggle of ladies behind him was still ogling him. "Now, we both know such a duel would be terribly unfair," he said, perhaps a bit smugly.
"Not if you were duelling me," Kalli replied, matching his tone and casually resting her wrists on her knives’ hilts at her waist. "Or even Theron. You wouldn’t know it to look at the oaf, but he’s quick with a sword."
"Quick with his sword? That’s not usually a compliment."
"Depends on what that sword’s being used for." Kalli grinned and elbowed Fenris before calling to her husband. "Theron! Fenris wants to see how quick your sword is!"
"Finally surrendering to the glory of true elven swording, hmm?" Theron’s eyes sparkled as he wrapped an arm around Artemis. "Shall we wager? If I win, I get one, full, uninterrupted night with your ever so tempting husband, who is both horny and fluffy, but is very much not a halla. I know, I’d get that anyway, but strictly a gentlemen’s wager."
"If my ever-so-tempting husband desires your company for an entire evening, which becomes less likely the longer this halla joke goes on, I won’t stand in the way of that." Fenris smirked at Kalli. "And if I win? What do you think, Kalli? Do we have him watch? I’m certain Artemis can find some entertainment, here, while I shame Theron twice in a row."
"He has no shame," Kalli scoffed. "Still, if he’s going to sit there and make scolded mabari faces all night, I’m in."
"Well, after that, I’m not losing!" Theron laughed. "I’ll have my wife and your husband while you sit out and play with your sword, all night!"
Fenris gestured behind him. "I’ll hardly be alone."
"Oh, just get on with it," Artemis said, less exasperated than he sounded. "Is this a duel or a sword measuring contest? Just wait until I’ve cut myself a bit of cake before you get started please."
Varric was already in the process of helping himself to the cake, and he cut slices for Artemis, Varania, and Merrill, handing each plate out, one at a time. "Broody, you should know better than to be mixing wagers with your husband!" he called out, pointing with the knife.
"Should I?" Fenris called back without looking back. He rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck while the other elves and Natia gave him and Theron a wide berth, forming a loose circle around them that Varric soon supplied with cake. "Last I recall, that ended rather well for me and my husband."
"And once again, more than I needed to know," Varric sighed before stuffing his mouth with cake.
Artie offered him a sheepish shrug. "He’s not wrong."
"Kalli, my wife, my shining virtue of womanhood," Theron started to say.
"Fuck you," was her blasé response.
"Later. Could you please fetch my sword from the aravel?" Never taking his eyes off Fenris, Theron made a show of cracking his knuckles and stretching his arms.
Fenris peeled off his shirt and ran a hand through his hair, a faintly amused half-smile never leaving his lips. "Varania? My sword?"
"You have a husband," Varania pointed out.
"Yes, but I am asking my sister." Fenris looked over his shoulder at her.
"Your sister thinks you should ask your husband," Varania said, with a smile, settling into Paivel’s lap, with her cake.
"This is the thanks I get for not setting you on fire along with Danarius?" Fenris asked, faint irritation creeping into his voice.
"That was Anders, anyway," Varania said, with her mouth full of cake. "And turn around."
Fenris looked back to where two of the elves who had been listening to his stories were standing with his sword — still that Blade of Mercy that Artemis had brought him from below Kirkwall. The thing was made to last, he’d been forced to admit, after using the centuries-old weapon in more battles than he’d expected it to survive. "Disarm or first blood?" he asked, drawing the full length of the large blade from the scabbard the women still held.
"Disarm," Theron decided. "If you can get this blade out of my hands, I’ll be genuinely impressed."
It wouldn’t be just a battle of blades, then, Fenris knew. This would require the kind of close combat a greatsword was designed to prevent. "Prepare to quail before my excellence, then."
"Quail? No thank you. I’m saving room for cake."
Kalli rolled her eyes at the awful pun and reconsidered handing him his sword. "I should give this to you blade first just for that."
"Thank you, ma vhenan," Theron said, offering her a wink as he drew his sword from its scabbard. Then, noting that Fenris was shirtless and being ogled by elves and shem alike, Theron pulled his shirt over his head, passing his sword from one hand to another as he wriggled out of the sleeves. He tossed his shirt in his wife’s direction but didn’t see it land in the cake Varric was handing to her.
Fenris lifted his sword, hands flexing along the grip, and Theron followed suit. With anyone else, Theron would consider the longsword an advantage against a greatsword, but he knew just how scary fast Fenris could move. Slowly, they circled, eyes locked.
Theron struck first, leaping inside the greatsword’s reach and making a stab for Fenris’s chest. Fenris twisted to the side, his sword’s pommel darting for Theron’s throat but hitting air as Theron hopped back out of reach.
Fenris waited, knowing Theron had the advantage of a sword that handled almost as well in one hand. But, Theron was also cocky, and bound to do something stupid, eventually. Fenris lunged, sword low and close, and Theron took advantage of the relative stability of the blade, landing one foot on it for a leap that propelled him up and Fenris’s sword down. And that was when Fenris took one hand off the sword and grabbed Theron’s ankle. Their eyes met just before Fenris pulled and Theron’s back slammed into the ground.
Hit and roll, Theron knew, and he was in motion before he hit, foot breaking out of Fenris’s grasp and slamming into Fenris’s hip, shoving him off balance, while Theron recovered his feet, grip still solid on the sword. Theron darted in, reaching under Fenris’s blade. He’d done it a hundred times, and he could do it a hundred more — except Fenris was an elf, not a shem, and that dip had put him right in line with the elbow that took him between the eyes. Still, he took first blood.
Fenris reeled back, eyes still on Theron as his arm pressed against the slim slice on his chest. Not serious, and really what he should have expected, knocking Theron off balance with a sword that close to his chest. But, he lunged forward again, taking a solid punch under one shoulder, but clipping Theron hard across the jaw with the pommel of his sword.
Theron staggered, reeling at the impact, and Fenris pushed his advantage and followed up with an elbow to Theron’s chest. Seeing stars and struggling to breathe, Theron felt his sword start to slip through his hand but tightened his grip, catching the pommel and he spun gracelessly away from Fenris’s next blow.
"Stubborn, isn’t he?" Varania said, impressed, as she scraped up the last few crumbs of her cake with her fingers.
"That’s one word for it," Kalli grumbled, wincing when Theron’s next swipe went wide. It earned him a smack in the ass from the flat of Fenris’s blade, and Kalli’s ale didn’t quite hide her amused snort.
Theron’s protest at his ass’s mistreatment came in the form of a one-handed stab at Fenris’s chest, one that Fenris easily evaded… only to step into Theron’s other hand, Theron’s fist cracking into his nose.
Artie cringed. "Hey, careful with that!" he called out to Theron.
"Listen to your husband," Theron panted, wheezing. "I thought you were going to beat me."
"I am." Fenris’s staggering covered the next motion of his sword, which was to slip under Theron’s blade and back around Theron’s forearm. They looked at each other, and they both knew how this was going to end, but when Fenris wrenched his sword up, it slipped out of his grasp, instead of tearing the blade out of Theron’s hand.
"Hah! A fist of iron!" Theron crowed, catching the terrified and confused look Fenris shot his suddenly numb fingers.
"Poison?" Fenris asked, after a moment, but quietly.
Theron shook his head, stepping closer and putting an arm around Fenris’s shoulders, just tight enough to grab on, if he started to fall. "Give the man a hand!" he called out to the crowd, before tugging Fenris toward Artie.
"I’m fine," Fenris insisted, quietly.
"You just asked if I poisoned my blade. Fine is not on my list of things you might be," Theron hissed, tossing his own sword to land on top of Fenris’s. The crowd would be distracted by whatever bets they’d had and clearing away the swords.
Artie set down his empty plate and slipped an arm around Fenris’s waist from the other side. "That was sweet of you to let the birthday boy win," he said cheerfully, smiling to hide his concern at the look on Fenris’s face. He’d watched Fenris in enough battles to know he should have won, to know that he was about to win. Yet that was not the face of someone who had lost on purpose.
"Let me win?" Theron protested, free hand over his chest. "You wound me, Artemis!"
"I think Fenris was doing the wounding," Artie replied, earning a pout from Theron, and while the crowd was distracted, Artemis watched his husband’s face. "Are you—?"
"I’m fine," Fenris insisted again, looking just as unconvinced as he had the last time.