Warriors Such As: Chapter 18

We’re finally getting out of that fortress! Also, I finally get to use Fenris’ lines upon confronting the magister that I have been wanting to for several chapters now. Hope you like them as much as I do!

Word count: 2999
Rating: PG for canon-typical combat
Summary: Thayer and team take the fight to the magister at last! And Hawke finally hears back from her Fenris.

Read it here or on:  DA  |  AO3  |  FF.net

Masterpost in case you need to catch up or start from the beginning!

Comments and reblogs are always appreciated! I love seeing what you think of each chapter, what parts you liked or want to respond to, or even just a note if you enjoyed it!

Part 4: Warriors Such As
Chapter 18
Wherein we depart Ath

Thayer came up with a plan as they hurried back to the dungeons,
where they found the Fog Warriors who had entered the fortress with them still
searching through the prisoners’ belongings in the antechamber, though they
informed the Inquisitor that Aeris had departed with Nubis. By the time they
all returned to the hallway near Licinius’ laboratory, the flames from the
grenade had died down. “Wonder if the Tranquil’s told him anything yet,” Varric
mused. “Or if he’ll notice the smoke billowing from his beloved lyrium stash.”

“He’ll believe what he wants to believe,” Thayer insisted. “As
long as we make it believable. Now, what shall we do with these – ugh, Fenris,
did you have to snatch their hearts out through the armor? What a mess.”

“Might want to mop up some of that blood first,” Varric chuckled.
“After all, Inquisitor, it’s all about making it believable.”


The laboratory was in disarray. Either the brazier had overturned and
the Tranquil had let the fire get out of hand (odd, Licinius thought, that the
man was not there; he left his post only to eat and sleep and those only at
times dictated by his routine), or the intruders had sought to sabotage his
work. Licinius fumed inwardly as he summoned ice to put out the lingering
flames, then hurried with his entourage down the hall in search of the room
where his test subjects had been stored after the interruption to the ritual.

To his relief, the two Venatori guards that he had left in charge
of the elves were still at their posts. “The subjects must be relocated,
quickly,” Licinius announced as he approached. “Intruders are loose in the
fortress, and before I deal with them, we must be sure these two are secure.”
He motioned to the mages accompanying him, and the five Venatori and three of
his red-marked warriors they had gathered en route, to wait outside the room.

The guards at the door nodded, inclining their helmeted heads only
briefly before one guard turned to the door and unlocked it. Within, Licinius
saw the two bedraggled elves, slumped against a wall with their hands still
bound behind their backs, lift their heads. Danarius’ pet tensed as if
preparing to cause trouble, but his expression changed to one of worry when the
guards pulled the older elf to his feet. The gardener cried out as his marked
arm was jostled, but looked at the younger elf with a shake of his head,
warning him off from interfering. Glancing from helmet to helmet of the guards
who now held both subjects in firm grips, and noting as well the red warriors
and mages waiting with Licinius in the hallway, the little wolf finally nodded
back. The guards guided their charges from the room without incident.

“They’ll be safest in my chambers,” Licinius informed the guard
bearing a greatsword on his back, the one who had unlocked the door. “The wards
will not easily be broken. Come along.”

He turned on his heel to march towards his tower, failing to
notice the look the two guards exchanged.


Varric leaned around the corner, noting which way Licinius was
taking his prisoners, and then looked back to the Fog Warriors stationed with
him. “All right, it’s plan B. Fall in behind, and don’t let them hear you or
see you. Quiet as the fog, right?”

“We can be quiet,” the nearest warrior said, cocking an eyebrow.
“What about you?”

“I’ll have you know dwarves can move very silently when we have a
mind to,” Varric huffed. “It’s a center of gravity thing.”

The Fog Warrior gave him a dubious but otherwise blessedly silent
look before leading his teammates around the corner, their white war paint
blending into the stone of the fortress nearly as well as it did in their
spooky fog. Varric followed last, keeping an eye out for Venatori behind them
and muttering to Bianca, “You just had to go with plan B, Thayer.
Shoving the magister into the storage room himself would have been so much
quicker, even if he did bring backup.”


Fenris glanced around the tower room as they followed Licinius in.
Surprisingly sparse, for a mage of Licinius’ standing and supposed wealth, but
his markings tingled in response to magic in the air. Wards on the floor, he
saw, and implements of blood magic. A slave chained to the far wall looked up
at their entry and paled. Several more sets of chains lined the same wall, and
Licinius waved the guards toward these.

“Now,” the magister was saying, “as soon as they’re secure, I’ll
set the wards and then we can deal with the intruders.”

Even as Licinius spoke, Fenris felt the cold press of a knife at
his wrists, bare of armor, as the guard leading him cut his ropes. At a glance,
he saw Metis’ guard doing likewise. His father met his eyes and winked, slowly
reaching for his belt pouch.

Licinius seemed to realize something was wrong even as Thayer
reached up to remove the bucket-like Venatori helmet concealing his face. “Why
haven’t you chained them yet?” the magister was saying. “Hurry up and –” His
eyes went wide as the Inquisitor emerged from disguise and grinned, tossing the
helmet his way before drawing Fenris’ greatsword from his back and handing it
over to the elf.

“Or you could deal with us now,” Thayer shrugged, sliding his
daggers from the gauntlets of his Venatori armor. “We’d hate to inconvenience
you any longer than necessary.”

“You!” Licinius bellowed, then took three steps toward the door,
yelling, “Venatori! To me! The intruders –” But even as one of his mages and a
lone Venatori Marksman made it through the door, a wall of red light sprang up
on the threshold, cutting off the rest who were running to the magister’s aid.

“Turns out,” said Thayer, “the Fog Warriors have mages who know
something about wards, too.” He nodded to the other supposed guard, now setting
his helmet aside and shaking out dark hair. “Well done, Algor.” He turned back
to Licinius. “Our friends will deal with your backup out there, and we can have
a nice chat.”

“Fool,” Licinius spat, beginning to move his staff in arcane
patterns. “Do not think you have rendered me helpless. Target the Inquisitor,”
he shouted to his mage and marksman, “but by no means kill the elves. I’m not
finished with them.”

“You will be,” Fenris growled, rushing forward to deal with the
spare Venatori mage even as Thayer ducked an arrow and Algor raised his hands
to cast a spell.

Then with a roar not unlike the sound of the laboratory going up
in flames, Licinius was joined by a trio of demons boiling up from the floor.
Fenris willed his lyrium to light, darting forward to engage the new threat.


Outside the freshly warded doorway, the remaining Venatori and red
warriors watched the mage caught on their side summon mana to bring down the
ward. He raised his staff, gestured to the door, and –

Fell to the floor with a thump as a crossbow bolt sprouted
from his back.

They turned to see a dwarf at the top of the stairs leading up to
the tower rooms, gesturing to the Fog Warriors who now came quickly up behind

“That’s our cue, Whitey,” the dwarf said, hoisting his crossbow
again as he addressed none of the Fog Warriors in particular as far as the
Venatori could tell. “Oh, and no more need to be quiet.”


Metis, meanwhile, pressed himself against the wall, watching and
gritting his teeth against a feeling of uselessness. Thinking of all the ways
he could be helping right now, if the red lyrium weren’t drowning out his
magic, didn’t help. A bolt of ice would do wonders against that rage demon; and
his vines could have kept Licinius from casting in the first place; and when
the Inquisitor finally failed to dodge that archer’s shots, as it was looking
more and more likely he would, it would be awfully nice if Metis could send
some healing his way. Fenris’ lack of his armor, left in the storage room where
they had found it when they were first locked in there, lest his wearing it should
alert Licinius that the elves were no longer the prisoners they seemed to be,
made Metis itch to throw up a barrier around him. He watched Algor’s spells
with envy but also a measure of professional assessment: the lad’s fire spells
were dazzling if not terribly hard-hitting, but he did have some skill with
wards, locking two of the demons in place long enough for the Inquisitor and
Fenris to deal with the Venatori mage and marksman. Metis strained to feel his
own magic, but the lyrium sang as plaintively as ever, demanding his attention.
Gripping the flask in his good hand tighter, he edged along the wall, trying to
draw nearer to Licinius without being noticed. If this was the only way left
for him to help, he wasn’t about to waste it on a poor throw from too far away.
Fenris needed the use of his markings, and it was best to keep Algor in control
of his magic too. The potion had to target Licinius alone.

Then one of the demons reared up before him. Metis gasped and
backed away, still clutching his potion tight even as he glanced around for any
sort of weapon. Fighting in the magister’s chambers proved fortuitous; a rack
across the room held a variety of staves, none quite like the one the Venatori
had confiscated from him before subjecting him to their ritual, but without his
magic he just needed something to hit with and any staff would do.

He feinted toward the demon and then made a dash for it on the
other side, clutching his marked arm to his chest and grimacing against the
pain. He could feel the wrongness of the creature, pursuing him all the
way to the rack, where he fumbled for the staff nearest to hand, almost
dropping the potion when he forgot he was carrying it, shifting it to his
bandaged hand as well as he could before grasping at the staff again even as
demon claws grasped at his shoulder –

And then with a roar the thing fell away from him, blue lyrium
light gleaming through a hole in what passed for its chest. The demon slumped
and finally melted away into the floor as Fenris stood there panting, eyes wide
and wild as he reached out to Metis.

“You’re all right?”

“Excellent timing,” Metis said, summoning the weakest of smiles
while gasping for breath; he was in no condition for such sprinting, especially
after the day’s events.

Fenris looked around at the battle. “One of them left,” he nodded
at the remaining demon. Metis saw fabric puddled on the floor that he took to
be Licinius’ assistant mage, and a bow cast aside suggested that the marksman
had been dealt with as well. “We will see to the demon.” He gripped Metis’
shoulder before he turned away. “Don’t let him summon any more.”

Which was, presumably, what Licinius had in mind as he again
started moving his staff through its patterns. The magister’s eyes were on
Thayer as the Inquisitor played tag with the last demon, darting in to slash at
it from one side, then the other, while Algor stood nearby flinging ice at it.
Suddenly the demon broke away from the Inquisitor to charge at Algor, knocking
the mage aside to slam into a wall while Fenris ran up from behind, ready to
slice the demon in two.

And while that drama played out, Metis crept up as near Licinius
as he dared, uncorked the bottle, and hurled it. The magister saw it coming
just in time and turned, bringing up a hand to bat it away, but the open bottle
spun and splattered him with its contents before sailing away to shatter
against the wall.

Metis, feeling an odd shock to his marked arm, looked down at his
bandages. Drops of red stained the white fabric. Blood? He frowned as he raised
his hand, recognizing the scent of magebane. The spray of the potion had
reached all the way back to him, then, a tiny trace of it splattering his left
arm even as most of it landed on Licinius.

The magister stood fuming, waving his hands, shaking his staff,
trying to bring his magic forth again, but enough magebane had reached him to
nullify every attempt. At that moment, Fenris ran the demon through even while
Thayer ran a blade along its throat, and the thing shriveled back into the
Fade. Licinius snarled and turned his staff around, advancing on Metis with the
bladed end.

“No!” Fenris shouted as Metis slowly backed away from the
magister, nearly tripping over the marksman’s corpse before Fenris interposed
himself and his sword between the mages. Licinius hissed in frustration,
swinging his staff against the elf’s blade. Reinforced with metal along the
shaft, it met the blow with only the slightest shudder, and then the magister
was wielding its blade like a polearm against Fenris with surprising skill.

Metis took note of Thayer just before the Inquisitor vanished into
the shadows again, looking, he supposed, for an angle from which to creep up on
the magister and – well, not slit his throat, Metis guessed; he had
been so determined to take the man alive, but surely if Fenris was in danger…

There was a tingling in his left arm. Metis looked at it in
wonder, unwinding the bandages. The skin revealed was still red and tender, but
there were patches, he thought, where the lyrium lines themselves had grown
darker. Quieter. Quieter. The lyrium-quieting potion. He realized
in that moment, the song in the back of his mind was quieting too. Still there,
but no longer demanding his attention, not drowning everything else out as it
had before. So little of the potion had actually reached him, he realized:
enough to quiet the lyrium’s song, but what effect would the same potion have
on his magic now that he wasn’t distracted by the lyrium? Frowning, he raised
the staff he had snatched from the rack, adding his left hand carefully to his
grip on it, and began to weave a familiar pattern in the air. It seemed to take
an eternity, and all the while Fenris and the magister wove a pattern of their
own, blade to blade, and what Thayer was up to was yet to be seen.

And then the vines came. Slowly at first; his magic was there, but
not entirely unaffected by the magebane, and he was a bit rusty after hours
sundered from his mana, but finally the vines came. He called them from the
ceiling, above where Licinius stood, or had been standing before his duel with
Fenris carried them halfway across the tower chamber. Metis bit at his lip,
coaxing, encouraging, convincing the vines to twine further that way,
no, then back this way again, keep growing, reach for it, reach for the wrists,
he needs his hands to cast…

At last, with a shriek of outrage, Licinius was hauled up into the
air by strong vines binding each wrist and shrinking back to stretch them over
his head, leaving the magister dangling from the ceiling, kicking out at Fenris
as his staff fell from his hands.

Fenris dodged the kick easily and swung back around to face the
magister. With a fierce smile he lit his lyrium and plunged his bare hand in to
grasp the magister’s beating heart.

For half a minute, they stood eye to eye, or nearly so, since the
magister had a few extra inches on Fenris with his feet swinging above the
floor. But the swinging had become barely a tremble as Licinius went as still
as possible, eyes bulging as Fenris squeezed.

Thayer, emerging from the shadows at last, approached with a
polite cough. Fenris narrowed his eyes as they met the magister’s, fire in the
elf’s matching fear in the mage’s, and finally he nodded, easing his grip on
Licinius’ heart.

“You took my father away from me once, before I was even born,”
Fenris growled at last, stretching up on his toes to glare more directly into
the magister’s eyes. “You very nearly took him away from me again today. Be
glad the Inquisitor came when he did, for if Metis had died here there would be
no mercy.”



It is done. With joy I write to tell you that we are finished with
this place. Thayer has the magister who was behind these experiments in custody
on the ship. The rest of the Venatori and their red warriors are dead or in the
Fog Warriors’ hands, which they may find the less desirable fate.

The fight has taken its toll on us all, but we are alive. Thayer
and Varric are well. Metis…well, I shall write more in the morning, perhaps,
before the ships bear us away from this cursed shore, but for now he and I both
need rest. But we live, and you will see him soon enough, for he must return
with us to Skyhold.

I see the ravens have brought your letters while I was within Ath
Velanis. Their scent, your scent, consoles me but I wait till morning to read
them, as well, for I am truly wearier than I can remember being in years, and
that includes the nights Malcolm kept us both up with his demands.

I will read your news and send you more of mine tomorrow, but for
now the raven bears you this promise: tomorrow the ships bring us home.

Yours, always,


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