Posts Tagged 'baby malcolm hawke'


A Fenris/Hawke (and family!) story, featuring Metis, the gardener

Written and recorded by Ranna Dylin 🙂

When the moment arrives, the
signs are evident and all preparations are in place. The sapling arrived just
in time, the night before, from a farm two miles out of Kirkwall; since last
night its roots have been soaking. The weather is fair this afternoon; a bit
cool, but sunny and dry, excellent for digging. And the midwife waits, three
blocks away, for the signal to swoop in.

It begins just after lunch.
Hawke sits, pushed away from the table, valiantly trying to balance wee Malcolm
on a knee, having surrendered all other lap territory to her thoroughly swollen
belly. The boy giggles and makes a game of it, pretending to slip down from her
knee only to be caught in the Champion’s strong hands again, held secure in a
loving, if very precarious, grip. One moment he is bouncing and chortling and
Metis laughs along as his grandson’s antics draw a chuckle even from Fenris.
The next, Malcolm slips suddenly to the floor, unharmed but startled, silenced
mid-laughter to balance on his toes and look back up at his mother in surprise.

“Oh,” Hawke says, staring off
into space. “Oh. Fenris, I think it’s

And then the plans prepared are
put into motion: Hawke, bundled up to bed for her lying-in; Malcolm, delivered
to Orana to be tucked into his own bed; Fenris, off like a bolt from Varric’s
crossbow to fetch the midwife.

And Metis, seeing that
everything is as it should be, waits by Hawke’s bedside, distracting her with
anecdotes about Varania’s birth, till the midwife shows up to shoo all menfolk
from the room.

Then there is nothing else to
do but to wait, and to plant.

He chose the spot weeks ago, in
the garden attached to Hawke’s estate. The flowers and herbs and vegetable
patch have been in his care alone since the family returned to Kirkwall months
ago; a decent enough yard it makes for this season, but he has plans for the
expansions the next will bring, very detailed plans. It will go through dozens
of variations, this garden, year by year, if he lives so long; but every
version of it will focus around the row of trees he’s begun at the high end.
The apple tree was the very first to go in, at Fenris’ request. The chestnut
tree beside it is Hawke’s (there are few people in this world for whom he would
have planted nuts, but in her garden it thrives). A few yards in front of
these, a peach tree for Malcolm. And beside the peach tree, the spade awaits
for the orchard’s newest member.

He digs the hole shallow, lest
the sapling’s roots be smothered. As the earth yields to the spade, he
remembers the orchard in Seheron, the day he dug this hole for Varania’s
pomegranates. That tree had grown broad and strong since his daughter’s birth,
heavy with fruit, alongside the orange tree he’d planted on the day Mara became
his wife. They had been the chief of all the trees in his orchard. Perhaps they
grew there still, long abandoned or now feeding new settlers. He did not like
to think that the slavers might have set fire to his trees along with the
buildings of the town.

The earth is ready now; he
lowers the sapling into the space he has created, making room for new growth in
his garden as they have made room in their hearts and home. Gently he showers
the soil back in place, cradling the fragile roots, as blankets in Hawke’s
chamber wait to cradle new life. He leaves a space around the trunk clear, so
that the roots can breathe and grow strong, listening all the while for the cry
at Hawke’s window that will signal the newborn’s first breath. At last he hauls
water from the well, soaking the earth and the roots with its blessing, feeling
his cheeks wet with anticipation and joy.

And then he places a hand on
the slender young trunk, and calls to earth, to sun, to the tender life within.
Life sings through the bark, through roots and cambium all the way to the tips
of the fragile new branches. Not too much: time and nature will do the bulk of
the work, but with the gardener’s magic a single tip buds, and blossoms, and
the sweet cherry-scent brightens the air. Metis smiles, and pats the bark
approvingly. And there, at Hawke’s window, the cry of life rings out on the
breeze to mingle with the scent of spring.

He plucks the first blossom and
makes his way inside, up the stairs, into the chamber. Fenris looks up at
Metis’ approach and beams with relieved pride, the bundle in his arms still softly

“She’s here,” Fenris whispers,
holding the bundle up for Metis to see. “Mara.”

“In record time, compared to
her brother,” adds a wry and weary Hawke, looking immensely pleased with
herself, from the bed.

“Mara,” Metis greets the little
one, tucking the flower behind her tiny round ear. “Welcome, little blossom.”

Quis Custodiet: Pars Tertia

Prompted for Fenhawke Week by @beautifultoastdream

A tale in three parts (there might will end up being a fourth, actually, because part three here is not the end…and I can make the final chapter fit the Sunday theme of “Hope” so there’s the rest of my Fenhawke Week writing accounted for, if a bit late!) to the tune of Juvenal’s quote: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who shall guard the guardians themselves?

Each part corresponds to one of the Fenhawke Week daily themes, since I fell behind on them after Wednesday’s post.

Quis Custodiet is set in my Hawkquisition AU, post-Warriors Such As. Hawke and Fenris, along with their children and Metis, have returned to Kirkwall to support Viscount Varric. Their second child is around three years old at this point, and Malcolm is around five. As a sort of Champion Emerita, Hawke’s primary focus now is raising that family, but she and Fenris both do occasionally take on odd jobs the way they used to, just to make ends meet before the Deep Roads and even during her Champion days. One – or two – such odd jobs lead to the beginning of our story. It is probably not a story to take too seriously…

This is Part Three of this little more-than-a-drabble; Part One is here and Part Two is here!

Pars Tertia: Ragged Band of Misfits (Saturday’s theme: through the eyes of their

Metis was generally an early riser, but nothing said “Good morning
Sunshine!” like one’s two small grandchildren clambering into one’s bed to
question why their grandfather was still lingering there past the first light
of dawn. He groaned and rolled over to find that the weight on his left leg was
Mara, while Malcolm was bouncing up and down with a death grip on his arm,
singing out, “Papa Metis! Papa Metis!”

“Well,” he yawned, sitting up with difficulty while Mara continued
to lean on his leg and Malcolm burrowed close under his arm, “good morning to
you, too. Are you sure it’s actually morning yet?” He glanced at the window,
narrowing bleary eyes at the light slipping past the shutters. “Kirkwall could
just be on fire. That happens often enough, doesn’t it?”

“You can’t see it’s morning, Papa,” Malcolm giggled, and, “Mara,
Papa needs his speckacles!” The little girl obliged, slipping down from the bed
and scurrying to pick up the glasses from their place on the side table. Metis
thanked her gravely, fixing the frames into place over his ears and blinking
dramatically at the children, making silly faces till they squealed with
laughter that he could not help but echo.

This was a regular enough routine even when Fenris and Lisbet were
at home to put the children to bed the night before, even when Metis was not
minding the children while his son and daughter-in-law were out, stamping out
trouble or stirring it up. So he herded them down to breakfast, shushing them
to not wake their parents in the next room.

When those parents still hadn’t come down to breakfast after his
second cup of tea, Metis began to worry. “Orana,” he asked the housekeeper,
busying herself with something that smelled of sugar and butter and an
afternoon of children unable to sit still, “how late did they get in last

“The mistress?” Orana asked, glancing up from her batter.

“And Fenris too? I gathered he was working a night shift, but it’s
well past dawn now.”

“I’m not rightly sure, messere,” she said, frowning. “I didn’t
hear them enter. Everyone was in bed by then, I suppose.”

Ten more minutes passed, while Malcolm chattered amiably about the
various games he had planned for Metis to play with them that day. Nodding over
his third cup of tea without taking much note of the boy’s agenda, Metis
suddenly felt a tug on his sleeve and looked down to see Mara gazing up at him
with her big grey eyes, so like those of Fenris’ mother, her namesake. He
leaned down to brush back from those eyes the fringes of her auburn hair and
asked, “What is it, Buttercup?”

On tiptoes she whispered into his ear, “Da. Mum.”

“They’re still sleeping, love,” he whispered back. But Mara
scrunched her nose up in a frown and shook her head.

It was indeed odd that they weren’t up yet, he decided. Even
working night shifts or sneaking around on the Viscount’s business overnight,
it would be difficult for them to sleep through the children’s morning clamor.
So he stood and gathered the girl up in his arms. “Perhaps we should wake them,
then. But gently,” he added with a stern glance at Malcolm. “No jumping
on the bed this time.”

They headed back upstairs, Malcolm trailing after without much
effort to lower his voice, while the dog came padding up to join the parade.
Even so, Metis knocked lightly at first on the master bedroom door, calling,
“Fenris? Lisbet? Are you up yet? Mara’s here to see you.”

“And me!” Malcolm shouted, and it would be a wonder if they were
still sleeping through that. Metis sighed and slowly pushed the door
open to peek in, holding the boy and dog back until he had ascertained the

The situation, he quickly ascertained, was that the bed was empty,
sheets unstirred, never slept in.

“Da?” Malcolm asked in a quieter voice, poking his head in past
Metis’ waist. Mara threw her arms around her grandfather’s neck, nuzzling her
face into his shoulder with a hum of discontent.

“Shh, love,” Metis said, patting her back. “Not to worry.
Something’s kept them out tonight, but we’ll find them.”

He fetched his staff and squirmed the children out of their
pajamas and into their clothes. The dog marched along beside them once more as
they crossed the courtyard and made their way up the steps into the Viscount’s
Keep. The guards at the door looked askance at the dog but grinned at the
Champion’s children and waved them on through.

They found Varric not in his office, but in Aveline’s, feet up on
the Guard-Captain’s desk while she paced by the window, filling him in on the
details of some interrupted heist and occasionally casting meaningful scowls at
his boots. Both of them looked immensely relieved at the interruption of a
mage, a mabari, and two small children bursting in on them.

“Well, Professor,” Varric beamed, swinging his feet down and
coming forward to chuck Mara under the chin, prompting a shy smile as she
pulled away to hide her face in Metis’ shoulder again. “Tell me you’ve got
something more interesting than smugglers in the warehouse district.”

“Hawke didn’t come home last night,” Metis said without preamble.
“Nor Fenris.”

Varric exchanged a glance with Aveline. “She was on an errand for
me, of sorts, spying on agitators. I would have expected her back well before
morning. She took the elf with her?”

Metis shook his head. “He hired on at the Marquis du Rochelan’s
estate as an extra guard for the week. This was the third night, but he’s been
home before dawn every night before and…why are you looking at me like that?”

“Du Rochelan, huh?” Varric echoed. “Shit. That would be the

Metis’ eyes grew wide. “You think they both ran into trouble

“You know them as well as I do, Professor,” the dwarf said with a
crooked grin. “If there’s trouble to find, of course they ran into it.”

“What sort of trouble, exactly? What did you have Hawke spying

“At the worst,” Varric said, rubbing at his neck, “an
assassination attempt in the making?”


“Hold your brontos, Professor. Look, I probably should have sent
backup, but it’s Hawke. She can handle herself. And we both know your son can

“And yet they’re not, at this moment, safe at home enjoying
Orana’s excellent sticky buns.”

“They can handle themselves until we get there, I meant to say,”
Varric grinned. “I’ll go after them. It was my errand in the first place.”

“I’m coming with you,” Metis insisted.

“You need proper backup this time, Varric,” Aveline stepped
forward. “Let me send guards.”

“What, and make it obvious we suspect something?” Varric waved his
hands at her. “No, no, and you’re not going either, Captain. One look at your
face and they’ll know. At least if I go, it looks like just a political
maneuver. Plus you have smugglers to deal with.”

Aveline glared at him but finally gave a sharp nod. “Metis? What
about the children?”

He looked down as Malcolm tugged at his robes. “Papa, I wanna go

Metis knelt down, loosing Mara’s arms from his neck to stand her
by her brother. “Now, lad. This is not an adventure. Probably it will be just a
very boring social call, while Varric talks to some annoying people and we find
out what’s keeping your mother and father. You’d get very tired of it and wish
you were at home with Orana.”

Malcolm raised sad eyes to his grandfather’s. “But Papa, Da needs
me! Mum says I used to go into battle with her all the time.

Varric chuckled. “I bet she still has the sling you rode in, kid.”

Metis shot him a you’re not helping glare and turned back
to the boy. “It’s one thing for your mother to carry you into battle, Malcolm,
and entirely different for me to do so. She’d probably forbid me ever to
mind the two of you again.”

“But I wanna help!” Malcolm wailed.

“And so you shall,” Metis assured him, laying a hand on the boy’s
elbow. “I need your help here, my boy. Someone needs to look after your sister.
Make sure she’s not scared.”

Malcolm glanced at Mara, who was regarding him with calm eyes and
a thumb in her mouth. He faced her with a scowl so like Fenris’ that Metis had
to purse his lips to hide a smile. “Mara,” said the boy, “what did I tell you
about sucking your thumb?”

Varric did a very poor job of hiding a snicker at that, covering
it with a cough as Mara tucked her hand behind her back and glanced up at the dwarf.
“See, kid?” he said. “Looks like you’re needed here.”

“They can stay at the barracks if you like, Metis,” Aveline
offered. “I’ve got smugglers to deal with, but Donnic’s off duty.”

Malcolm’s eyes lit up. “Can he teach me to use a sword?”

Aveline cast a panicked glance at Metis. He sighed. “Perhaps a
practice sword? If you’re very, very careful?”

The children ran off, shouting for joy, into the barracks in
search of the unsuspecting Donnic. Metis sent the mabari off after them and
turned to Varric.

“Okay, Professor,” said
the dwarf. “Let’s go see what the holdup is.”

Do Lisbet and Carver ever come to a healthy place in their relationship?

Oh, definitely. I think the key to Carver’s relationship with Hawke always boils down to him finding a way out of the elder sibling’s shadow and standing on his own two feet. Of the in-game options for him, joining the Wardens probably helps more with both of those, but in Lisbet’s playthrough he became a Templar. Still, there was the “glad to call you sister” conversation before the final battle, and I think all that time doing his own thing in the Order did help him to grow up to that extent. 

They’re never going to be overly affectionate with each other, I’m sure (well, Lisbet might well try, but she’s also grown up enough to learn that such advances only push Carver away more), but by the time of Warriors, they do get along well enough. The intense sibling rivalry has mellowed to more typical but affectionate bickering. 

And as for Carver’s place in the world: Since Meredith’s fall, he’s left the Order and Kirkwall entirely to avoid the red lyrium, and he’s found a stauncher ally (and lover) in Merrill than he expected. Traveling with her and her refugee clan, he’s become someone her people all rely on, a shemlen they trust because Merrill does, and all of that has nothing to do with Lisbet Hawke. 

Pretty soon now, Lisbet and Fenris will head back to Kirkwall, but Carver and Merrill and their patchwork clan will stay at Skyhold as long as the Inquisition remains (will Thayer disband in Trespasser? stay tuned…I haven’t decided yet 🙂 ). Merrill’s pretty much the best friend Lisbet has after Varric, so for her to not rush off after Lisbet but to come to the decision, with Carver, that their place is with the new clan and the clan’s place is in the Inquisition, is confirmation to Carver of his independence, and that’s one of the healthiest things that could happen to his sibling relationship.

Also, it does help that he’s got a really cute nephew now. That’s an excellent reason for Carver to stay on Lisbet’s good side…

FenHawke Question of the Day: Sunday, January 31


What’s the status of your Fenris & Hawke post game (DA2 or DAI)? Where do you hope they eventually end up?

I may have written a small series of fic about this very question. A summary (spoilers if you’ve not read Hawkquisition yet):

  • Lisbet Hawke became Viscount and stepped down, as is mentioned in DAI, when the templars there started using red lyrium and getting paranoid.
  • After that she and Fenris were investigating the red lyrium and also hunting slavers till he got injured and she left him behind to answer Varric’s letter.
  • Hawke survives Adamant. Fenris catches up with her on the way to Weisshaupt.
  • Weisshaupt is boring and Lisbet is pregnant, so they return to Skyhold.
  • They’re sort of like extra members of the Inquisition now, whose adventures (and birth of their firstborn, Malcolm,) can be read in the rest of my stories so I won’t spoil any more! (the above was basically Part 1 of the series.)
  • After Warriors Such As they’ll return to Kirkwall with Varric, to help him out when he ends up being viscount. Also, baby Mara will be born there soon…
  • They might return to the Inquisition for a Trespasser-timeline story; at least that’s what I’m currently thinking about for part 5 of Hawkquisition. 🙂
  • But in the end, they’re raising kids in Kirkwall with Metis’ help, probably with a reconciled Varania visiting occasionally, and with Aunt Merrill married to Carver.
  • In other words, my hope for them is family. The theme and mission statement of my fic series seems to have turned out to be “Give Fenris all the family” and, well, two kids and one dad and eventually one sister later…

Fenhawke Week Day 6: Ragged Band of Misfits

  • Today’s theme: friends! Their friendships with others, their relationship through the eyes of their friends, whatever way you want to take it is good!

So, I’m a bit behind on Fenhawke Week prompts, actually working on one to fill a Latin Quote prompt that will perhaps end up being three parts to fit the Thursday/Friday/Saturday themes, but this snippet from the next chapter of Warriors Such As seemed to fit today’s theme nicely on its own! Have a glimpse of Fenris and Hawke through Metis’ eyes, and be warned that as with most anything I post about Metis at this point, it’s spoilery if you haven’t read through Chapter 10 of Warriors to know who he actually is…

The Champion of Kirkwall was certainly free with her affections. Her claim on Fenris’ heart was evident from the never-broken flow of touches, Metis thought as he watched them approach where he sat in the garden the next morning. She walked at his side, close enough to brush shoulders, and he leaned over to brush a kiss to her hair. She took his hand, while he balanced Malcolm against his hip with the other, and he twined fingers with hers. When her arm slipped around his waist, his went to her shoulder, drawing her in closer. To say that they could not keep their hands off each other would imply the desperation of a younger relationship, still working out the details. This seemed a union whose details were worked out to the point that they fit so neatly into one another’s space as to seem incomplete without those touches of reassurance: You’re still here: Good. So am I.

Hawke’s presence brought smiles to Fenris’ face more regularly than at any time since Metis had met him. He lit up at her touch; sometimes, even literally, his markings giving off a faint glow. Metis sighed as he looked down at his own markings. They hurt, still; their song was an ever present danger; they might just kill him, if they could not be cleansed soon. But to see his son smile like this, he regretted none of it.


☆ Giveaway prize ☆ 

Just in time for Fenhawke week!

Inspired by @rannadylin‘s fan fiction Patchwork Families, Lisbet Hawke, Fenris and their son Malcolm.

This turned out so amazing! My favorite duo ever, and Malcolm in his combat ride-along sling, and all the details. Thank you so much!

Warriors Such As: Chapter 20

I think this is the next to last chapter! Unless, of course, all the epilogue style scenes I have in mind prove too cumbersome for a Chapter 21 and demand equal time in a Chapter 22. Time will tell. But here is the beginning of the end, at least! Have some happy fluffy Fenhawke reunion time. Bonus: Hawke meets [redacted for spoilers if you still haven’t read through Chapter 10] Metis.

Word count: 3311
Rating: G
Summary: Hawke and Malcolm rush to Jader to meet Fenris straight off the ship.

Read it here or on:  DA  |  AO3  |

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 20
Wherein Hawke provides
the hero’s welcome

Jader’s docks buzzed with life. Lisbet Hawke clutched her son
tighter to her chest as she walked the wharves, watching the horizon. Malcolm
struggled in her arms, muttering, “Go,” and then, louder, “Go!”

“Uh-uh, little mister,” Hawke muttered back. “Not after the last
time. You stay put. No more exploring Jader without me.” She shifted her hold
on him, aiming for more secure with less constricting, and resumed her march
from pier to pier while Malcolm babbled to himself.

“Bo,” Malcolm said very solemnly after several minutes, twisting
to look out to sea.

“I know a pirate who’d send you off the plank for calling that a
boat and not a ship, dumpling,” she chuckled, but she followed the boy’s gaze
to peer at the incoming ship he’d spotted. It was barely a dot on the horizon
as yet, but as the first ship into the harbor this morning it held her
attention as well as her son’s.

Then the growing dot resolved itself into two dots, a second
closely following the first, and her heart seized. The flags. What flags were
they flying? She quickened her pace towards the furthest pier, straining to
see, and nearly jumped out of her skin when she bumped into a passerby in her
hurry. “Sorry,” she said, breathless, glancing aside to see the grizzled old
man she’d jostled smile and wave a dismissal of her apology. As she turned to
move on, she noticed the spyglass clipped to his belt.

“Wait,” she said, thinking of one like it that Isabela had once
shown her as they traveled along the Wounded Coast. “Is that – I mean, your
spyglass – could I – Oh, this must sound horribly odd, but would you mind if
I borrowed it for a moment? The ships coming in…I’m waiting for my husband,
you see.”

You’re babbling, Lisbet. She frowned and clapped
her mouth shut, but the stranger chuckled and held the spyglass up to her. “Be
my guest, lady.”

She thanked him in all sincerity, shifting Malcolm to her side so
she could extend the spyglass with a gentle flick of her wrist and bring it up
to one eye. Malcolm’s tiny hands, surprisingly strong and quick, made a grab
for the new toy, but she twisted him out of reach, focusing on the image in the
lens, scanning the distant waters until one of the ships filled her view. Even
with the spyglass’s aid it was small, and time seemed to stretch on as she
watched it draw closer, trying to see what flag flew from its mast.

“Bo?” Malcolm asked, grabbing for the spyglass again even as
Lisbet gasped in sudden relief.

“All right then, Mal,” she said, grinning as she held the lens up
for him to take a turn peering into. “Have a look at that boat. See the flags?
That’s Uncle Thayer’s boat. That’s your Da coming home.”


As the sailors lowered the gangplank into place, Metis adjusted
the staff at his back and tugged at the glove now concealing his left hand.
Weeks of fresh sea air had done much to heal the burned flesh and ease the
fresh pain of the markings, but weeks of instruction and practice had barely
begun to acclimate him to the sensation of sharing with the lyrium the space
that had been all his own for all his years. Its song persisted, but grew no
stronger over the days, and he had grown confident in his ability to guard his
thoughts from its siren call. Under Fenris’ watchful eye, he had managed at
last to bring the markings to life without succumbing to the sudden frenzy into
which their activation threw their song. Solid objects, primarily the spare
sails and wheels of cheese into which he had attempted to plunge his fingers,
continued to resist such intrusions, but Fenris said with solemn nods after
each attempt that the phasing would come in time and that his progress was

And his magic, beneath the lyrium’s song, called to him as well,
its familiar presence persisting despite the distraction. They had experimented
with Licinius’ potion on a few occasions, quieting the lyrium just enough that
Metis could cast a chill over Thayer’s drink, or direct a healing pulse at
Varric when the dwarf was gripped with seasickness, or otherwise make himself
useful and keep in practice. Nothing came as easily as it should, between the
whisper still coming from the lyrium and the strain of the magebane upon his
mana, but it was a relief just to know he still could cast. There came a day,
nearly at the end of their voyage, when he even managed to summon leaves and a
single blossom from an oar without first applying the potion, though the effort
required to focus past the lyrium-song left him nearly passed out on the deck and
earned him no end of scolding from Fenris. He kept the blossom, nonetheless,
pressed into a book where he could look at it, and smile, and hope.

Hope filled him now, as Fenris hefted both their packs despite
Metis’ objections that he was fully capable of carrying his own. An arched
eyebrow was his son’s only response as he led the way down the gangplank. Metis
sighed and followed, gawking up at Jader’s dark roofs and narrow streets. For
the first Orlesian city he had ever seen, it seemed surprisingly ordinary from

Fenris, glancing around and opening his mouth as if to speak,
froze suddenly when a shout of “Malcolm!” pierced through the crowd at
the docks. Metis saw his eyes go wide as he twisted in search of the sound.
Then Fenris gasped, and Metis followed his gaze to see a dark-haired woman
scrambling to catch a child toddling away from her. Squirming in her grasp, the
child pointed tiny fingers in Fenris’ direction before jamming them into his
mouth and looking back up at the woman.

She looked their way. The smile that lit her face when she saw
Fenris explained everything. When Fenris took a step forward and then suddenly
looked back at Metis, hesitating, Metis nudged him, stifling a grin of his own,
and said, “Go on. I won’t disappear.”

Fenris squeezed his arm and took off, swallowing the distance in
fewer steps than seemed physically possible and sweeping the lady and child
together up in an embrace. No longer stifling his grin, Metis followed at a
more leisurely pace, allowing their reunion the space that months apart would
crave. Between the two of them, the child’s curly head peeked up over Fenris’
shoulder, eying Metis with a familiar green gaze.

“Hawke,” he heard Fenris say as he caught up, “what are you doing

“Welcoming you home, obviously,” she laughed, pressing a kiss
against his jaw.

“This isn’t home,” Fenris teased. “This is Jader.”

“Fenris,” she said, drawing back to meet his gaze, “you’re
my home.”

“Ah,” he smiled. “Then perhaps I should be the one welcoming you,
Hawke.” Suiting actions to words, he leaned in for a kiss while Metis winked at
the child now pulling himself up Fenris’ arm, the better to stare over his
shoulder at the mage in his parents’ shadow.

“I feel very welcomed indeed,” Hawke smiled as the kiss ended.

“And I,” Fenris said, “am glad to be home. Though I was expecting
no such welcome before we reached Skyhold.”

“The Inquisition sent a caravan to bring everyone back there,” she
explained, glancing around at the soldiers and scouts in Inquisition livery now
disembarking. “So Mal and I tagged along. We’ve been here two days and I was
beginning to worry something had happened to you at sea.” Just then, she caught
sight of Metis waiting three steps away. Fenris followed her gaze and turned
with an embarrassed cough to say, “Metis. This…this is Hawke.”

“So I gathered,” he grinned, stepping forward.

“And Hawke,” Fenris said, his voice lowering, “this is my father.”

Hawke fixed him with a gaze that put him in mind of her namesake
predator. Metis stared back, studying the face of the woman who had claimed his
son’s heart as thoroughly, he judged, as Mara had ever claimed his own.
Somehow, for all Varric’s tales of the Champion and all the times Fenris had
spoken of her in Seheron, it had not occurred to Metis that she would be human.
Nearly as tall as Fenris, perhaps even the tiniest bit taller than Metis
himself, she wore her dark hair in a long braid over one shoulder, tied with a
red ribbon like the one Fenris had been so relieved to find among the pieces of
his armor in the storage room in Ath Velanis. Hawke met his stare with narrowed
eyes, human irises small but a deeper green than that which ran in his family.
Freckles dusted the small nose now wrinkling at him as her coral-pink lips
thinned. Maker, he thought, I’ve somehow offended her already.

Then Hawke appeared to come to a decision. Disentangling herself
from Fenris’ arms, she stepped back, leaving the boy Malcolm clinging to his
shoulder, and reached for one of the packs Fenris had dropped in his haste to
hold her.

“Hawke,” Fenris objected, turning to grab the second before she
had further ideas. “You don’t need to –”

“I’m going to,” Hawke insisted. “They don’t squirm like Malcolm
–” she leaned up suddenly to kiss the boy’s cheek, making him giggle and
wriggle away, burying his face in Fenris’ shoulder, “and he’s going to insist
on being carried by Da today. Meanwhile,” she turned suddenly, the pack slung over
one shoulder, and wrapped an arm around Metis’ elbow, “I want to talk to you,
she finished, pulling him along in her wake with a grin that turned his
stomach. He glanced back at Fenris, but his son was now caught up in an odd
sort of one-sided conversation with the baby.

“Bo?” Malcolm asked before launching into a string of less
discernible babble that ended again with, “Bo!”

“Ah…” Fenris hesitated, until Hawke glanced over her shoulder and
stage-whispered, “Boat.

“Ah, yes,” he said, nose to nose with the boy. “Yes, Malcolm. We
were on the boat.”


“Er, no. We will not go on the boat again.”

“Da? Go?”

“No, son. No more going away. I am going with you, back to

Their conversation faded as Hawke drew Metis farther ahead,
leading the way back to wherever the Inquisition’s caravan was stationed, he
assumed. “So,” she said at last, with a glance to the staff at his back,
“you’re a mage.”

“As are you, I’m told,” he nodded at her staff in turn.

“But you’re not a magister? I have been informed by reliable
sources that the two are not always the same thing in Tevinter.”

He laughed in surprise. “The last time an elf actually
entered the Magisterium was…well, to be honest, if it ever has
happened, they don’t bother to teach that quirk of history in the Circles. I
was curious about it myself once and tried to find some record of such a
person, but it seems they don’t like to remember it in books much either.”

“Hm,” she said. “But you’ve been trained, nonetheless. I take it
that’s not common?”

“I was fortunate,” he explained. “I saved a magister’s life and
earned her patronage – and my freedom. I suppose I was especially fortunate to
gain the favor of one of the few decent mages in the Magisterium.”

“That’s the thing,” Hawke nodded. “Fenris was…”

“Hawke,” came Fenris’ voice, and both of them stopped and turned
to look at him. But it was not Hawke herself he was speaking to. His mouth
quirked up at the side in a half smile as he repeated: “Hawke. That is your
mother’s name, Malcolm. Can you say ‘Hawke’?”

Malcolm regarded his father thoughtfully, chewing on his fist.

“Hawke?” Fenris repeated. “Come now, try it. Hawke.

“Hah!” Malcolm shouted gleefully.

Hawke snorted with laughter. “Oh, he thinks you’re so
funny, Fenris,” she teased, turning back to the path and once again dragging
Metis ahead with her.

A minute passed before she spoke again, while behind them Malcolm
continued shouting “Hah!” at his father’s encouragement. “I may have to change
my name,” she said, shaking her head. “Speaking of which, you’re welcome to
call me Lisbet if you prefer. No one much does, except Fenris on occasions, and
my brother calls me Liz. But it does seem odd for family to call me Hawke,
doesn’t it?”

He almost stumbled. “You consider me family, then.”

“Aren’t you?” she grinned, and then looked away, tightening her
grip on his arm. “Ah, but then I jump right in with the questions. I’m sorry if
I seem suspicious. It’s just that Fenris has had the worst luck with two
things: mages, and family, and here you pop up out of nowhere as both.”

“If I may,” he smiled, “aren’t you also both of those

She blinked at him and then laughed. “Fair enough. You and me,
founding members of the Mages Fenris Can Trust Club.”


“Welcome to the family, then, Metis.”

He glanced over to see her beaming at him, all trace of suspicion
gone. So he grinned and said, “As your father-in-law, shouldn’t that be my

She laughed, delighted. “I suppose it would have, but I got here

“I didn’t even know,” he told her, solemnity sweeping in again.
“For most of the years of his life, I didn’t know he existed. Mara was pregnant
when the slavers parted us. I only learned a few years ago, when I finally
managed to track her and Varania to Danarius’ household, that there was
a son. All these years…”

“It’s still not too late,” she said, leaning into his arm. “I can
tell from his letters that he likes you. Even if you are both family and
a mage.”

“Then I am overjoyed to be a part of this family, Hawke. Lisbet,”
he corrected, and she smiled.

“Does it…bother you,” she asked after a moment, “that I’m human?
That he didn’t marry an elf?”

“What?” Metis stared at her wide-eyed. “No. I saw how he longed
for you, Lisbet, how he came alive when he saw you here. There is a magic
between you that sets my heart at ease.” Metis reached to cover her hand on his
arm with his free hand, which happened to be the gloved hand; Hawke had
apparently known better than to grab him by his marked arm.

She looked down at the glove, pursing her lips. “Is this…?”


She glanced up again, brows furrowed. “Would you mind if I…that
is…can I see them? Feel free to say no, if that’s too impertinent of me. But
Merrill and Dagna have been making plans ever since we got Fenris’ last letter,

He was already reaching to pull the glove free. He held out his
left hand ahead of them, letting the bruise-red of the markings catch the
rising sun’s light. She stretched out a finger, hesitating to look to him for
his nod of permission before she ran it gently over one line, frowning.

“Looks awful,” she finally decided. “They still hurt, I’m sure?”

“It’s getting better,” he assured her. “It was certainly not a pleasant

“You did this to save his life.”

“I suspect you’d have done no less.”

“Probably,” she nodded, and then pulled closer to brush a kiss to
his cheek. “Thank you, Metis.”


It was late by the time the travelers returned to Skyhold. As far
as Fenris was concerned, the welcome Josephine had prepared for the group paled
in comparison to Hawke’s welcome on the docks. Yet the privilege of slowly
enjoying a dinner not prepared over a campfire, seated at the common table with
Metis to his left and Hawke to his right, Malcolm on his lap, made him smile
like a giddy fool no matter how relentlessly Malcolm squirmed and tried to bat
away the turnips his father fed him. Fenris sighed, and kissed the boy’s curly
head, and offered him baked apples instead, for life is short and turnips are
by no means one of the better parts of it.

He slept peacefully in Hawke’s arms for the first time in weeks –
actually, months now. The sun woke him early but only long enough to see that
she was still there, curled beneath his arm to fill a spot too long empty. He
shifted and, with a sigh, drifted off to sleep again.

It was the sound of retching that woke him next.

Disoriented from oversleeping, he looked around their chamber
groggily, squinting at Malcolm still sprawled in his crib, finally spotting
Hawke out of bed, bent over the chamberpot in obvious distress. In a moment he
was kneeling at her side, holding her hair back as she heaved the last of Josephine’s
celebratory dinner into the pot.

“Hawke,” he murmured, holding her gently as the heaves subsided.
“Your letters…you mentioned you were not feeling well, but…you seemed fine

A low chuckle. “Oh. I’d forgot I wrote anything about that.”

“This is some new illness then? You didn’t drink too much last
night, did you? I did not notice…”

“I mostly drank tea last night,” she laughed. “I…um…Maker,
Fenris, this was not how I intended to break the news, and I wanted to tell you
in person, not in a letter, but yesterday was just so busy and I
didn’t really want to say anything until we were alone, at which point we were
both asleep within seconds, but…”

“Hawke. What is it? What’s wrong?”

She looked up at him with eyes shining. “Absolutely nothing. It’s
morning sickness, and it’s nearly run its course by now, I think.”

“Morning…” His eyes grew wide as he looked at her and took in her

“We’re having another baby, Fenris!” she beamed at him.

He blinked and stammered, “How…? When…? How long…?”

“I’m sure you’ve worked out the how,” she teased, leaning
into his arm. “As to the timing: Well, it appears this was a sort of going-away
present the last time I saw you.”

“So you’ve been…” He frowned and took her face in his hands.
“Hawke, I’m so sorry.”

Her eyes narrowed and chin tilted up at him as her hands came to
rest on his knees. “Sorry? About having a baby?”

“Oh, no. Not at all. But that I left you here to bear this alone…”

“Ah.” She leaned up to kiss his nose. “Don’t be sorry about that,
love. You couldn’t have known, and I’ve managed just fine, thank you.”

“Ever capable,” he smiled at her. But the next thought tore at his
smile: “If something had happened to me, though…”

“Well, it didn’t,” she said, driving away the what-ifs with her
fingers running through his hair. “And if it had, I’d still have been
glad of both our children. As I think your mother was glad for both of

He nodded finally, holding her close as a smile crept over his face.
“Do you know…er, does Cole know yet…boy or girl?”

“Apparently it’s too soon. And don’t think I haven’t asked him
every single day since I realized.”

“Does…anyone else know? I mean, not about that. Does
Skyhold know you’re pregnant?”

“Besides Cole? You’re the first, although Josie may have guessed.”

“And did you intend to keep this secret longer?”

“Or can you tell your father right away,” she smirked, “is that
what I’m hearing?”

“It…may have crossed my mind,” he blushed.

“Now that you’ve caught me in the act of pregnancy, Fenris, I’ve
no more secrets to keep,” she smiled, leaning in to wrap her arms around his
neck. “Tell the world today, if you wish.”

Warriors Such As: Chapter 19

We are nearing the end! *gasp* I’m amazed how long this story has gotten. But still loving it. So here are a few scenes before the long awaited reunion with Hawke…

Word count: 3027
Rating: G
Summary: Our heroes depart from Seheron, but there is still the matter of certain red lyrium tattoos to be dealt with.

Read it here or on:  DA  |  AO3  |

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 19
Wherein the ship sails

“You know, Varric,” Thayer Trevelyan said, gazing at Ath Velanis
looming in the distance as the sun rose over the jungle, “that fortress looks a
pleasanter place already.”

“No, Shiny,” the dwarf disagreed, shaking his head as he climbed
to the Inquisitor’s vantage point on a pile of rocks at the edge of their camp.
“Not possible. Not even if you redecorated and put in a bar and dancing girls.
Ath Velanis will never be pleasant.”

“Slightly less menacing, though?” Thayer suggested. “No longer a
haunt of Venatori desperate to relive their dead master’s glory days by
building him an invincible army running on red lyrium.”

“That did contribute a lot to the menacing air,” Varric admitted.

“Might as well go ahead and put that bar in, now that we have the
architect of their dastardly plan in custody.”

“For all the good he’s likely to do you,” Varric grunted. “Elias,
on the other hand, might be more reasonable.”

“Elias?” Thayer frowned, then his eyes widened. “Oh. Do you mean
you found the Tranquil? And learned his name?”

Varric nodded. “He was fairly receptive to the job offer, once he
saw the rest of the Venatori being marched off by the Fog Warriors. I’d wager
it’s been a lot for him to swallow, the last few months, going on with their
world domination plans even with Corypheus dead. Not much point in it, but
would Licinius listen if he explained why?”

“So he’s content to change sides?”

“I think all he wants is purpose and protection, and the Venatori
can’t give him that anymore. So yes, Inquisitor, agent acquired.”

Thayer smiled. “And hopefully he can do what we need of him?”

“Oh, he knows the formula, all right. He whipped up a batch of it
on the spot to prove it to me, even if he did have a lot to say about how we
could have saved him the trouble by not destroying all the potions along with
the laboratory in the first place.” Varric shrugged. “Either way, Metis will
have what he needs.”

“That’s a relief, I’m sure.”

“One more thing, Inquisitor,” Varric said, drawing a tightly
rolled scroll out of his jacket. Thayer raised an eyebrow as he carefully
unrolled the parchment and peered at words in a language he did not recognize.

Varric explained, “I found him in the magister’s chambers, going
through a stash of things he apparently considered worth saving. Talked him
into donating that one to the cause once I realized what it was.”

“Which is?”

“Just a few hundred words in what’s apparently an old dialect of
Tevene,” Varric smirked. “Unroll it the rest of the way though. Check out the

Thayer narrowed his eyes at the dwarf, weighing his words for a
trick, before complying. He unrolled, at last, a series of diagrams at the very
end of the document, distorted where the pages had crumpled from much
rerolling, but there was no mistaking what they depicted. Thayer gasped and
nearly dropped the scroll.

“So they’re a bit rough,” Varric continued, “and apparently
nowhere near the detail of Fenris’ markings, which would be why Licinius
thought he’d use him as a live template. But yeah, looks like these are the few
hundred words that started it all. Some sort of ancient treatise on how to fuse
lyrium to a man’s skin and give him magical fisting powers.”

“Magical – what?” Thayer stuttered, side-eying the dwarf.

“Never mind. Thought you might be interested in the scroll, that’s
all. Crack the code, maybe someone can learn something useful from it
about…well, about what to do for a guy who’s been put through an arm’s worth
of this stuff, right? Or at the least, you can destroy it and hope it’s the
last of its kind in the world, so no one gets ideas like this again.”

“Maker bless you, Varric,” Thayer breathed. “Ath Velanis looks much
pleasanter with this in hand.”


Hawke, long desired and dreamed of, soon to be seen,

I am up with the sun to read your letters and write to you again
before the ship sails. Though that will not be terribly early today, since
Thayer has sent Varric with the Fog Warriors back into the fortress to take
care of some things left undone in our haste.

…And even now a scout brings me a third letter. You must have
sent this one before receiving my note last night, for I do not think the
ravens could have already borne that to you and back again with this. I suppose
I would not be surprised if there were yet more of your letters winging their
way to us now. But we sail today, so by the time you receive this letter there
will be no more camp to send your replies to. Save your words up, sweet Hawke,
that I may listen the longer to them when I hold you again. Happily I will pass
the voyage imagining what you are preparing to say to me, so much so that when
I see you I shall be speechless myself, having prepared no words of my own.

All the more important, then, to fill this letter with my answers
to your letters while I still can.

Your concern about my sudden influx of family is kind of you,
Hawke. You will meet Metis soon and judge for yourself what manner of man my
father is, but suffice it to say that I have been pleasantly surprised to learn
that you are not the only mage in the world on whom I can rely. He offered
himself for the Venatori’s ritual to stop the magister from killing me, Hawke,
and I…in that moment I knew I could not bear to lose him again. It was a
foolish thing for him to do, but he bore the process bravely. The Inquisitor
intervened and so the ritual was not completed, but he received the markings on
one arm.

You write of Merrill’s success curing Emmen of the red lyrium. Do
you think her methods can be extended to the markings created by the Venatori
here? Please, ask her, earnestly on my behalf, to prepare for such an attempt.
We are bringing Metis with us back to Skyhold in hopes that the lyrium in his
markings can be cleansed. Markings such as mine can be borne and controlled, despite
the trouble they have brought me, but the red lyrium in Metis’ markings
threatens to overwhelm him. For now it has not spread beyond the channels
created for it, yet even so he hears it calling to him the way we have seen it
do with others before it broke their minds.

I cannot have this man’s mind broken, Hawke. I make it my task,
till we reach Skyhold again, to keep him in the present, keep him from slipping
away into its clutches, but I do not think anyone can forever resist that
corruption. We must find a way to cleanse his lyrium as soon as possible.

But that is only one reason I am eager to return to Skyhold, dear
wife. May the ships sail swiftly this time! If the winds are favorable, we will
be home in time for Malcolm’s birthday after all. He will, I hope, not have
forgotten me. And yes, his chatter (as you write of it) does make his Da smile.
Has he truly not yet decided what to call you? If he can say “Da” and “Po” and
“Boo” and all of that, surely it is not beyond infant capabilities to pronounce
“Hawke”. I shall make a point of practicing that with him if he has not learned
to say it (or “Ma” or whatever other ridiculous combination you have been
needlessly trying to teach him) by the time I return.

Be well, my Hawke. I hope you have recovered, or soon will, from
whatever ailed you in your recent letters. I wish you all health and safety and
happiness, and I will hurry back to you in case Skyhold alone cannot supply the




“What will you do with Ath Velanis?” Caligo asked the Inquisitor,
as the soldiers began ferrying the Inquisition’s equipment out to the ships
anchored near Ath Velanis’ broken gates.

“I was thinking of asking you that, as a matter of fact,”
Thayer replied.

“What?” the Fog Warrior turned to squint at him.

“I don’t intend to establish an Inquisition stronghold in
Seheron,” he explained. “Too far away to maintain, and we really have no need
to involve ourselves in northern politics. Also, I can attest that everyone on
this island except for your people would be tripping over themselves to
drive us out.”

“I can attest to that, too,” Caligo grinned.

“The Fog Warriors, however, have proven fine allies,” he said,
sketching a bow that drew a huff of amusement from her. “Also, I’d rather see
your people take this island back than either the Qunari or Vints overrun it.
Plus you’ve suffered a great deal from the Venatori in this fortress
yourselves; you bore the brunt of captives to fuel their experiments.” He
glanced over towards a cluster of Fog Warriors further back from the shore,
where one dark-haired elf was crouched down, animatedly drawing something in
the sand while another stood shaking his head. “Your friends,” he said, nodding
towards Aeris and Nubis, “were quite brave.”

“They were idiots to come here,” Caligo said, but the warmth in
her voice was more fond than angry. “I am relieved we found them alive.”

“As am I, having met them,” Thayer smiled. “So I have two
proposals for you, lady of the Fog Warriors.”

She glanced up at him, eyes narrowing. “I’m listening,

“I’d like to bring Nubis back to Skyhold with us. We’ve heard from
those who remained behind that they’ve had some success there with a process to
cleanse red lyrium from a boy who was infected with it.”

Caligo’s eyes widened and she glanced from the Inquisitor back to
her friends. “You could…fix him?”

“We could help him, I hope.”

She frowned. “It would be very far from home. He…we missed him.
His family back at the camp…”

“I cannot promise that he will not lose his mind to the red lyrium
the same as those who were completely marked with it did, if something is not
done for him. And I cannot truly promise that my people at Skyhold will succeed
in curing him. But I would not ask you to send him alone. You’d be welcome to
come along. Aeris too. Anyone you think should go with him, in fact. It would
surely be easier for him to heal with friends nearby.”

She nodded slowly. “I…will think on it, Inquisitor. And I will
ask Nubis what he wishes.”

“Of course.”

“You said,” she reminded, jutting her chin up at him, “two

“Ah, yes,” Thayer smiled. “I propose that the Fog Warriors take
charge of Ath Velanis. Occupy it and make a stronghold from which to take back
the island, if you like. Or burn it down, if you prefer. I would be satisfied
knowing its fate is in your hands, either way, and no longer in the

Her hand flew to her mouth. “You would give us the fortress?”

“A going-away present?” he grinned. “It’s not exactly a nice
place, either. Just ask Varric. I don’t think he’d let me keep it if I wanted
to. But you could make use of it.”

“I cannot accept for the clan,” she shook her head. “It is not my
place. But I will send word to the Fog Dancer of your proposal. And I think she
will be happy, at least, to decide its fate. I would not mind if she ordered it
burnt to the ground.”

“Well, tell her Happy Satinalia from me, then,” Thayer shrugged.
“A token of an alliance of mutual benefit, and a friendship I hope to see
continue between our people.”


The ships sailed from Seheron as the sun began to set, turning the
sea to fire. Metis stood at the railing, watching the fortress recede, running
through a long-ago memorized list of herbs in his mind to keep from listening
to lyrium-song. …Felandaris, the demon weed, grows where the Veil is thin.
Amrita Vein, strong roots in sand, bears water deep within. Wood from a tree of
Dragonthorn crafts bow whose shafts fly true. Its gentle leaves add fortitude
to many a mage’s brew. Honey-sweet, the Vandal Aria thrives in arid climes.
Bells of blue on Crystal Grace: do spirits hear them chime?…

“You are not wearing the bandages,” Fenris’ voice broke him out of
his mental recitation. Metis glanced back to see his son eying the red lines of
his hand with a frown as he joined him at the railing.

“They get itchy after a while,” Metis explained.

“You’re not scratching at them, I hope.”

“No, just enjoying a little fresh air before wrapping it up
again.” Metis grinned, narrowing his eyes at Fenris. “I do believe you’re mothering
me now. Are sons allowed to do that?”

“How would I know?” he huffed, but smiled back. “I am only
ensuring that you last long enough to have the markings cleansed.”

Metis stared at him, his eyes crinkling with a frown of
realization. “You’re worried,” he said finally. “That…you’ll lose me.”

Fenris bowed his head. “You should not have taken the markings.”

“Yet I did, and there’s no changing it now. The time for that
argument is past, truly,” said Metis, raising his unmarked hand to Fenris’
shoulder. “I’m not leaving, son. Not unless you want me to.”

Fenris looked up, eyes wide in shock. “Why would I wish that?”

“You’ve managed without me all these years. Maker, I wish I’d been
there to see you grow up, but you became a fine man all the same. You are no child,
Fenris. You don’t need me hovering.”

“I – no. Perhaps not. But perhaps…I would not mind. Having you
near.” He shook his head. “No, that is ridiculous. Metis, you are my family. I
have lost too much of that to not hold fast to you now.”

“Then consider me held,” Metis grinned.

“So long as my grip is stronger than the lyrium’s.” Fenris
frowned, leaning on the rail and looking down into the water.

“It will be,” Metis said, confidence buoying him up as lightly as
the ship in the waves. He dropped his gaze to the markings on his hand, eyes
dancing from line to line, studying their patterns. With Fenris near –
ironically inclined to hovering himself – it was easier to divert the
lyrium-song to the back of his mind, dam it up behind years’ worth of conversations
they would have to catch up on. Including one that, before yesterday, he would
never have expected to have with anyone, let alone his long-lost son. “Fenris,”
he asked, “you’ll show me how to use them, won’t you?”

Fenris gaped at him, starting to speak at least twice before
thinking better of it, his brow furrowing as he considered his words.
“You…want to use them?”

“As you do?”

“Forgive me if I find the image of you pulling hearts from
chests a little difficult to swallow.”

“I wasn’t thinking of the chest thing specifically. There are
surely other applications.”

“Oh, surely.” Fenris rolled his eyes. “I could show you a card
trick that quite impressed some of the Inquisitor’s people once.”

“I’m serious,” Metis said. “I mean, it’s unlikely your people at
Skyhold have a way to completely remove the markings, even if they manage to
cleanse them. If I’m stuck with them, they may as well make themselves useful.”

“I suppose…”

“Especially if they’re going to continue to stifle my magic,” he
said, all trace of jest vanishing from his voice.

Fenris glanced at him, eyebrows knit with concern. “It’s gone
again? You summoned vines against the magister.”

Metis nodded. “It seems the bit of potion that splattered me
nullified the lyrium enough that I could reach my mana for a time.”

“But there’s magebane in the potion.”

“I reached it. It wasn’t easy. But it was just enough of
the potion to quiet the lyrium without being enough magebane to completely shut
off my magic.” He pulled a small flask from a pouch at his belt. “Varric
convinced Licinius’ assistant to make a new batch.” He uncorked the flask,
showing Fenris the blood-red liquid within. “So that’s an option, if I need to
access my magic.”

“You cannot always be keeping yourself drugged with that,” Fenris
pointed out.

“I’m hoping the red can be cleansed at Skyhold and the lyrium left
behind will be…like yours,” Metis shrugged. “But in the meantime, I need to
learn to use it.”

“Even with the potion rendering them useless?”

Metis shook his head. “Saving the potion for emergencies. The
lyrium’s still singing up a storm, but I’m getting better at ignoring it. I
think it’s time I…started fighting back.”

“By using the markings? Metis, what if using them before they are
cleansed only opens you up to their song?“

Metis frowned in thought, nodding slowly. “You have a point. Here
– take this.” He handed over the potion flask. “Surely quieting the lyrium
would loose its hold on me, should that come to pass. I will not train with the
markings without you present, and I will trust you to use this if I come near
to losing myself.”

Fenris hesitated, then nodded, taking the flask and tucking it
away in his own pouch.

Metis smiled, then reached for Fenris’ hand, bringing his son’s
long fingers up to meet his own, palm to palm, crimson brands to white. “You
have control of your markings. Right now, mine are trying to control me.
I need to know how to do what you do. I will master this, lest I fall to

Fenris stared down at their hands, then nodded,
reaching with his free hand to clasp Metis’ marked wrist in a gentle grip. “I
will do what I can.”

Warriors Such As: Chapter 16

A little shorter than the last one, because it seemed like a good stopping point?

Also, look at the lovely picture I stumbled upon today – exactly how I imagined Metis and Mara to look! The picture itself is spoilery if you aren’t past chapter 10 of Warriors Such As, but if you’re reading chapter 16 already, go see the picture when you read Metis’ reminiscences at the end of this bit…

Word count: 3335
Rating: PG for blood magic?
Summary: Licinius resorts to blood magic; Thayer searches for lost elves; and the lost elves discover side effects of the red lyrium ritual…

Read it here or on:  DA  |  AO3  |

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 16
Wherein everyone is
loose in Ath Velanis

Fenris, heart of my heart,

All right, I know it’s not even a whole day since my last letter
(still on its way to Seheron, no doubt, of course you can’t have seen it yet
and written back) and it does take time for the birds to fly back and forth so
you’re probably done with the Venatori and on your way home by now. At least I
would like to think so, except that Charter says there’s been no word from the
Inquisitor to say that the ships are on their way back. Maker, I worry. I’ve
been helping Josephine with her correspondence, just to keep busy. Never was my
strong suit in Kirkwall but after these weeks of writing to you I should hope
I’ve developed a skill, or something. All right, I’m just hoping that writing
on Josie’s behalf to contacts I established as Viscountess will distract me
from writing to you twenty more times a day.

I’ve been spending more time in the Chantry here, too, for what
it’s worth, lighting candles and praying for your safety. Oh, and Merrill has
invoked the Creators on your behalf. Someone had better be listening. I need
you back here. It’s horribly selfish of me, I fear, and perhaps for that reason
the Maker frowns on my prayers, but it’s…

Well. I would very much like to have you here with me now. Surely
the Maker can understand if I wish my family near me? After everything…after
everyone I’ve lost, he wouldn’t take you away too. It’s been more than a month
since I bid you farewell, and…

Let’s say I am just anxious for you to be here for Malcolm’s first
birthday. Barely two months away now, and I expect him to start walking any
moment. Also do not fear that he has forgotten you in your weeks away. Oh, no.
It is “Da” this and “Da” that everywhere he goes. He throws a fit when I read your
books to him, you know, the ones he always picked for you to read because
apparently he has sorted the books into Da books and Mum books and I am not
allowed to read from your share. Also, he has been fascinated with Merrill’s
vallaslin lately and I think perhaps they remind him of your markings. Or
perhaps he’s just fascinated with Merrill as usual. Definitely his favorite

Oh yes, I may have forgotten to mention. It’s official, or will be
soon. I’m not sure if Carver popped the question or Merrill rambled her way
into talking about what they would do after they were married and he just went
along with it, but it is A Thing now. My little brother’s engaged, Fenris! This
is actually quite a useful distraction as there is much to do in preparing for
the wedding, especially in figuring out how to blend Dalish vows with a Chantry
service, as Carver says Mother would have been scandalized at anything less but
he won’t hear of leaving Merrill’s traditions out of it either. So we’ll be
making an official aunt of Merrill soon. Not too soon, though. Not till you’re
here to welcome her into the family with a scowl!

It’s becoming quite a good family, after all. But it still needs
you. And we’ll make room for your father too, if that’s worked out all right.
We’re all looking forward to meeting him, if so.

Love and kisses (oh, and Tiberius sends puppy kisses too, don’t
give me that look, you know you adore my dog),



Licinius sped from the laboratory to his tower, his alarm growing
with each Venatori corpse he saw. The intruders had clearly passed this way,
but the magister thought better of trying to follow their trail. He left that
to the Venatori he found still alive (more of them than the corpses, he was
relieved to see; wherever the intruders were going, they weren’t stopping to
fight every denizen of Ath Velanis, at least), directing some of his men to
pursue the enemy forces loose in the fortress, others to come with him to the
tower. Until he could determine the source of the disturbance, it would be rash
to go about without backup.

The Inquisitor’s breach of his defenses yesterday had left too few
of Licinius’ marked warriors available, but the hordes of them patrolling
outside the fortress had consisted of those least useful to him, whose minds
had been too broken by the ritual for them to learn control of the markings.
Some of the red warriors who had fallen to Danarius’ pet inside the fortress
had been more skilled, occasionally able to pull some bit of power from the
lyrium; what Licinius had seen through their eyes in their last moments made
him all the more eager to produce warriors who could control the markings as
Fenris did.

But there were a few who had had the will to withstand the
branding nearly as well as Metis was doing when the ritual upon him was
interrupted. Licinius had tested them, found their minds surprisingly intact,
compared to most of his subjects, and begun to put them through training. Their
control of the lyrium was still tentative, faltering, yet every one of them had
at one time or another managed to activate the markings by their will, not just
at random as the broken warriors tended to do, and two or three had nearly
succeeded in phasing a hand through solid objects. Licinius was sure, in time,
he could make something of them.

But right now, they were all that remained to him, and he would
make use of their eyes.

He dispatched guards to bring his pets to the tower. As soon as he
arrived there himself, he set about preparing the seeing spell. A slave,
chained to the wall, trembled as his master approached with a mirror in an
elaborate frame. “Be still,” Licinius snapped, pressing the mirror into the
slave’s shaking hands before drawing his knife. “And try to keep the mirror
still as well,” he admonished, tilting it till the polished surface reflected
the tower’s ceiling far above.

Drawing his knife, he added a quick and practiced cut to the other
scars along the slave’s arm and guided the mirror beneath it to catch the first
drops of blood. Then he signaled to one of the Venatori attending him to bind
up the wound, while Licinius focused his magic upon the mirror.

He was just finishing this step of the spell when the guards he
had sent for his elite warriors arrived with five of them in tow. Licinius had
seldom had cause to use the eyes of this group of his warriors, but they did
not balk when he drew their blood and added it to the mirror, each one in turn,
weaving them into the magic.

At the end, the mirror shone with a menacing red light but no
trace of the blood that had stained its surface. Licinius pressed it back into
the slave’s hands, fitting his fingers into the grooves and rings placed on the
mirror’s sides for this purpose. Then he turned to the red warriors with
instructions. “Intruders are loose in the fortress,” he explained. “Find them.
Stop them by any means necessary. I will be watching so that I may come to your
aid when required. I want this disruption settled quickly; I have work to do in
the laboratory.”

The red warriors bowed as one and took their leave, splitting up
to patrol one by one through the fortress. Licinius turned back to the mirror,
stepping close as the slave holding it squeezed his eyes shut, shuddering.

“All right, boy,” the magister said, wrapping his hands around the
slave’s to hold them tight to the mirror’s frame, “show me what the first one
is seeing.” At his command, followed by the spark of his magic, the light of
the mirror resolved into images: hallways, doors, ceilings and floors,
everywhere the first of the red warriors was looking, transmitted by blood
magic to the eyes of the slave whose blood had first infused the mirror, and
through him to the mirror itself. The slave shook with the force of the magic
conveyed through him to the mirror. Licinius watched with grim focus for any
sign of the intruders disrupting his experiments.

Cycling through the five warriors’ views, at last he saw something
of worth. A dozen or so Fog Warriors in their ritual paints raised their
weapons against Licinius’ pet, their eyes widening and reflecting a gleam of
red when his markings flared to life. Licinius estimated that the red warrior
might kill at least a third of them before they could stop him; an unfortunate
loss, given that this one could so readily activate the lyrium at will now, but
that was the extent of his control; he would not be able to use the markings in
his defense as easily as the Fog Warriors clearly feared.

Licinius had seen no other sign of the intruders from the other
four warriors’ eyes. Perhaps he could learn more in person from the Fog
Warriors facing this one. With a gesture, he broke the seeing spell, returned
the mirror to its cabinet, and strode out to find his beleaguered warrior.


The dungeons were almost empty when the Inquisitor’s team reached
them. Thayer swallowed his disappointment at not finding Fenris or Metis safely
locked up there, in the last place he knew either of them had been seen.

They had, at least, found Fenris’ greatsword along the way, cast
aside in the hallway just outside the dungeon. Fallen Venatori, and a few
corpses that appeared to be prisoners cut down in their attempt to escape with
Aeris and the others, left a trail nearly to the dungeon door, but there was no
other sign of Fenris or Metis.

They found the dungeons themselves guarded by only one Venatori
Zealot, who succumbed to trembling and babbling when he saw the Inquisition
team approaching. While the Fog Warriors tied him up and tried to question him,
Thayer and Varric searched the cells.

“Something here you’ll want to see, Shiny,” Varric called to him
from across the hall. Thayer hurried over, dodging to avoid yet another
Venatori corpse, a hole punched through its chest yielding further evidence
that Fenris had been here.

Varric waved from a cell, and Thayer slipped past its mangled bars
to see the wreck of an elf, dark hair still matted with fragments of the Fog
Warriors’ white paint, curled up in the corner to which he was chained, hand
and foot. At Thayer’s cautious approach, the man finally looked up, pale eyes
glazed over as he tried to focus on his visitors.

“It’s all right,” Thayer reassured him, arm outstretched. “We’re
not Venatori.”

“Wonder why he didn’t escape with the others?” Varric asked.

“Because he wasn’t here when we escaped,” came a voice behind
them. Thayer and Varric turned to see Aeris slipping into the cell with them,
his eyes intent on the chained elf.

“I thought you were on your way out of the fortress,” Thayer said.

“I was,” Aeris nodded. “Then I remembered what brought me here in
the first place. If you’re putting a stop to what the Venatori do here, I want
to help.” He stepped forward to kneel by the prisoner. “Nubis. Can you hear

“Ae…Aeris?” the man’s voice rasped, the name barely recognizable
from his raw throat. He blinked, focus slowly returning to his eyes as Aeris’
face fell at the sight of him.

“They took him from the cells last night,” Aeris explained. “For
the ritual.”

Varric stepped forward with a flask from his belt. “So if they
brought him back, did they…is he…?”

Aeris held the flask up to Nubis’ lips. As the man uncurled from
his corner to drink, the markings on his chest, purpled like angry bruises,
came into view. Thayer sucked in a breath, the smell of burnt flesh and lyrium
catching him by surprise when the man moved.

“I know none of them so far have had identical markings,” Varric
pointed out in a low voice, fishing out his lockpicks and stepping forward to
begin on Nubis’ chains, “but they do usually cover the whole body, right?”

“They weren’t finished with him,” Thayer nodded. “Why bring him
back to the cells, then? Did they usually do so, Aeris?”

The Fog Warrior shook his head. “No, never. Once they took a man
to mark him, we never saw him again, unless the magister had the whim to parade
him before our cells when it was all over, show us what we had to look forward

“They were interrupted, then,” Thayer guessed. He exchanged a look
with Varric.

“You think?” the dwarf began. “Might not be them.”

“Would they send this man back to his cell just because we’re

“I don’t like the implications of them getting rid of one
ritual subject when they’d barely started on him…” Varric mused.

“We can’t be too late,” Thayer said briskly. Turning to
Aeris, he asked, “Can we move him?”

“Go on, Inquisitor,” Aeris said as Varric finished unlocking the
last of Nubis’ chains. “I’ll see that he gets out of the fortress safely. You
see that the Venatori never get the chance to finish what they started on him
or anyone else.”


Fenris cast the broken shortsword aside, cursing the negligence of
these Venatori in maintaining their weapons. It was the second weapon he’d
stripped from the trail of corpses they were leaving behind them in their
flight from the storage room. Fighting by lyrium alone would not be his first
choice; of course it was a relief to once again have the option of snatching
hearts from chests, if pressed, but like a mage’s mana his markings took time
to recover after such an expenditure of power, and it was better to have a
weapon in hand and not to rely overmuch on his lyrium. But these poor little
knives made him miss the greatsword taken from him after they freed the

The way ahead was clear. When he reached for Metis, left to lean
against the wall while Fenris fought off their attackers with the now-defunct
shortsword, the mage winced and caught at his bandaged arm.

“You’re in pain,” Fenris said.

“Well,” Metis breathed, “not so much as…before.”

“You needn’t make light of it,” Fenris insisted, brows furrowing
as he eased Metis’ free arm more carefully over his shoulders. “I know how bad
it is, you remember.”

“I do. You described it all quite…intensely.”

Fenris glanced at him as they walked slowly down the hall. “You do
remember that.”

“It did in fact help.” His voice was still shaky, but he pressed
on, eyes fixed ahead. “Knowing what would happen. I…recalled your words,
rehearsed each description in my mind as it was done to me. It did help.”

“It still hurts,” Fenris said, pausing to lean him against a wall
again. “Here. Let me see.” Gently he lifted the branded arm and unwound the
bandages. The skin revealed was furiously red, hot to the touch, but the lines
inscribed upon it were a deeper crimson, like purpling veins too near the
surface of the skin. Fenris frowned at the sight, hesitating to touch it, until
Metis himself reached with his right hand to poke tentatively at one red welt.
He started and swore at his own touch, pulling his hand back quickly. Fenris
shook his head. “Don’t be an idiot, father.” He quickly and carefully rewrapped
the bandage.

Metis frowned at his palm beneath the wrappings. “Can you…hear
it?” he finally asked.

Fenris looked up to see his father’s head tilted to the side, his
eyes fixed on his hand. “Hear what?”

“I didn’t notice it at first. Because of the pain, I’m sure. But
it’s…almost like it sings.”

“It…sings?” Fenris frowned. “Do you mean…”

“Do yours do that? It’s like it’s…calling to me. Like a song at
the back of my mind, something I’ve heard and I can’t remember where and I
can’t quite turn it off.”

Fenris’ eyes grew wide and he groaned as he seized Metis by the
shoulders, forgetting for a moment to be gentle. “No. Metis, you mustn’t listen
to it. Fight it. The red lyrium…” he shook his head, glancing down again
at the branded hand. “I should have guessed. No wonder the other subjects went
mad. Varric’s brother, and the Knight-Commander…”

“It’s…rather persistent,” Metis mumbled.

“Can you…do something with magic? To block it, or…if you speed
the healing of the brands, perhaps…”

Metis went quiet, frowning at his hand, and then his shoulders
tensed in Fenris’ grasp. “I…can’t.”

“Can’t what?”

“Can’t even feel my magic.”

Fenris froze. “Perhaps the magebane?”

Metis shook his head. “It had worn off by the time Licinius caught
me. Vines, remember?” He waggled his unbandaged fingers at Fenris’ wrist. “He
didn’t administer any more of it before the ritual.”

“Maybe you’ve stepped in more of it.”

“I’ve been leaning on you, and your markings still function. No,
it’s not like being cut off by magebane, anyhow. It’s more like…the song.
Whatever I’m hearing, it’s too loud. It drowns the magic out.”

“Fasta vass,” Fenris spat. “The sooner we find the Inquisitor, the
better. Varric…knows something of this. And Hawke…Hawke wrote of work
Merrill was doing at Skyhold on a boy taken by red lyrium corruption. We will
fix this.”

Metis nodded, and after a moment Fenris slid a shoulder under his
arm again and they continued down the hallway.

“What about…the rest of your memories?” he asked as they neared a

“Hm?” Metis responded as if in a daze.

Fenris squeezed at Metis’ hand over his shoulder. “You remembered
our talk before the ritual. Do you remember the rest of…well, of your life?
Your family?”

“Oh. Of course,” Metis mused with a faint smile.

“Tell me.”


Fenris squeezed again, hoping to keep his father’s mind occupied,
away from the song teasing at his consciousness. “Tell me what you remember of

“Varania. Your sister,” Metis began quietly. “Three, I think she
was, the last time I saw her. All grown up now, isn’t she? If you are, of
course she is. And you’ve seen her. Maybe you should be telling me about her.”

“My mother, then,” Fenris hurried to change the subject.

“Mara,” Metis sighed. “Prettiest girl in the village. Her father was
a merchant. I didn’t think I had a chance with her, not with the swarms of boys
hovering around her like flies.”

“What did you do?”

“Kept my distance, mostly. Well, I thought I did. I let the others
hover. Too crowded for me. She came to my father’s farm sometimes to trade, and
I smiled and tried to say clever things which, in retrospect, were the very
opposite of clever.”

A smile tugged at Fenris’ mouth. “Won her over in the end, did

“Hardly!” Metis laughed, his eyes turning to Fenris with a gleam
breaking through the glazed look of the lyrium’s song. “Well, maybe I did. But
she sought me out first. Found me in the orchard where I always worked, dragged
me behind a tree and demanded that I kiss her.”

“So…did you?” Fenris grinned back at him.

“Well,” Metis raised his eyebrows, “here we are, aren’t we?”

Fenris laughed and they resumed walking in silence for a few steps
before Metis murmured, “I asked her once, after that, why she chose me, when
there were handsomer and wealthier men falling over themselves to court her.”

“And she said?”

“Because I’d been kind to her,” he said with a wistful smile. “The
others, they demanded her attention. Me, I gave her apples and listened to her
complain about her suitors. No one else had ever been so kind, she said.”

“You are kind, father,” Fenris said.
“Please. Never forget that.”

Warriors Such As: Chapter 14

Things are looking grim in Ath Velanis. Fenris has been captured, and it’s up to Metis to save him…

Word count: 4302
Rating: PG for lyrium ritual…
Summary: Licinius intends to use Fenris’ markings as a template for his next red lyrium warrior…and so the ritual begins…

Read it here or on:  DA  |  AO3  |

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! Also, this chapter’s extra angsty, so hugs to all readers in advance… 😦

Part 4: Warriors Such As
Chapter 14
Wherein the magister
refines his ritual

“Our objectives,” Thayer ticked them off on his fingers, pacing
before the Fog Warriors arrayed for battle, their eyes intense bursts of color
in contrast to the white paint with which they had covered their skin and
clothing: “Stop the magister. Take him into custody or kill him if he can’t be
taken alive, but our priority remains putting an end to his experiments, and we
accomplish that quickest by removing him from play. Second, rescue our friends.
Fenris and Metis are more than capable. I refuse to believe they’re not still
holding their own against whatever the Venatori can throw at them, but the
sooner we get to them, the better their odds. And finally, neutralize any
remaining Red Lyrium Warriors that Licinius has already created and free any
slaves or captives he intended to put through the ritual.”

Varric coughed and added, just loud enough for the Inquisitor to
hear, “And then maybe we can leave this fortress in ruins so we don’t have to
keep coming back here every few years.” That won a smirk from the Inquisitor.
Varric considered it a small victory.

“We don’t have the manpower for a frontal assault,” Thayer
continued, nodding to the Fog Warrior archer who had guided them to the tunnel
for the previous night’s reconnaisance, “so Varric has identified a few
possible infiltration points. Caligo, you’ll lead a team from the south. Varric
and I will enter from the north with the second team. Get in as quickly and
quietly as you can, and remember the objectives: magister, allies, prisoners.
If things go to pieces, get out of there. If they don’t, we’ll meet somewhere
in the middle.”

A shout interrupted the briefing, and they looked up to see one of
the Inquisition scouts approaching from the raven cages. “Reply from Harding,
ser,” the man said, offering up a small scroll.

Thayer hurried to open it; scanning the words there, he smiled and
nodded to Varric. “The ships are on their way.”

“It’ll take them most of the day to sail around the coast,” Varric
pointed out. “Do we wait?”

Thayer considered the timing with narrowed eyes, then shook his
head. “We use that time to do this right. Licinius has probably realized that
some of us made it out of the fortress last night. He’ll be preparing
reinforcements. We need to approach Ath Velanis cautiously, but if we wait too

“We’ll face more of his reinforcements,” Varric nodded. “Okay
then, Your Heraldicness. Let’s go scale that fortress wall.”


It was cold. Perhaps, some part of Fenris mused as he gradually
regained consciousness, it was the cold that finally brought him back to his
senses. At least by the cold he knew that he was awake; it never seemed this
cold in dreams. In the Fade. There was a pounding in his head, besides, and the
ozone smell of magic.

Magic. In a panic his eyes
snapped open and he tried to sit up, thrashing against the shackles that now
revealed themselves at his sudden movements.

“Ah, welcome back, little wolf,” he heard Licinius’ bemused voice
somewhere behind him. Panting as he tried to turn, Fenris took stock of his
situation. He had thought he was lying down, but as the swimming world righted
itself while his vision caught up to it, he found himself secured by metal
cuffs at his wrists and ankles to a table of sorts, likewise of metal, cold
against his bare skin, propping him up at an angle somewhere between standing
and reclining.

The metal shouldn’t be able to hold him like this. I am a free
He willed his lyrium to light, to let him phase through the bonds, but
the markings remained white and inert.

He stilled, catching his breath while his hands balled into fists.
The cuffs kept his arms stretched wide enough to limit his range of motion, but
he could still turn his head. To one side he saw a wall lined with shelves of
potions, and between them a single door, guarded by Venatori. To the other, a
table like the one to which he was bound, at an angle that seemed to match his;
stretched out on it, likewise stripped and shackled, a dark haired elf. Traces
of white paint still clung to his hair, but from the redness of his skin Fenris
guessed that more of the paint had been freshly scrubbed from his body.

Facing forward again, Fenris saw a sight out of his nightmares,
with one difference: the lyrium in the bottles was red, not blue. In all other
regards, it seemed that even without Danarius’ notes, Licinius had come to many
of the same conclusions about the process of bonding lyrium to the skin.
Fenris’ earliest memories – before his time with Hawke had begun to stir the
older memories locked behind the wall of torment that in all his years as a
slave he had not been able to breach – had overwhelmingly featured the pain of
the process and less so the specific details of what Danarius and his
assistants were doing throughout it, but he recognized the rod, even now
heating over glowing coals, that would be used to etch on the skin the burning
brands to which the lyrium would fuse. His pulse raced, his breath came short
and ragged as he realized that this must be the magister’s laboratory, where
his lyrium-marked warriors had been created – and to all appearances, soon
would be created again.

Then what was he, already the product of such a ritual, doing
trussed up on a table like this?

“What,” he finally rasped, willing to his voice the veneer of calm
that had often been his shield in Danarius’ house, “do you intend to do with
me?” Despite the cold, sweat dripped into his eyes and he shook his head to
scatter it.

“Quite simply,” came Licinius’ voice again from behind him, “you
are to serve as a template. The ritual I have recreated works; at least,
we have succeeded time and time again in creating markings like yours. But my
subjects have not been able to make use of their markings as you do, which
rather defeats the purpose.” He appeared suddenly at Fenris’ side, smiling
widely. Fenris clenched his fists in an effort not to flinch away from the
magister’s nearness, glaring at him with furrowed brows as Licinius continued,
“I theorize that the actual layout of the markings is of greater importance
than I had originally presumed. It is as if we were inscribing runes of
enchantment upon the flesh, after all. Perhaps I have been leaving out some
vital branching or,” he cast a critical eye over Fenris’ skin, running a
too-warm finger over the lines curving around his arm, “filigree. Now
that we have your markings to refer to, we can either confirm my theory or at
least rule it out by making an exact copy of these patterns on my next
warrior. If they do not work on him, we must look elsewhere for the flaw in the

“And merely to see my markings,” Fenris growled, “you find
it necessary to restrain me so?” He nodded toward his bound wrists.

Licinius chuckled as he moved toward the table where the apparatus
of the ritual was laid out, lifting the branding rod and holding a finger an
inch from it to confirm the heat now radiating from the metal. “As you may
recall, since we met I have been extending the offer of cooperation. I truly
mean you no harm. Alas, given the hostility you have shown to my men in your
time here, I can only assume that you cannot be trusted to cooperate.”

“You cannot do this,” Fenris insisted with no attempt to swallow
the hostility Licinius had already observed. “This ritual is…it is a curse.
Danarius died by the very markings he etched on my hand. Do not think you will

“Tell me, little wolf,” Licinius drawled, inspecting one of the
lyrium bottles, “just how deadly are those markings of yours right now?”


Naturally, the crawlspaces did not quite match up to the hallways
through which Licinius and his brutes had dragged Fenris back to his
laboratory. Metis kept as close to them as he could at first, but every
intersection meant a detour, either to find another route through the
fortress’s ventilation, or to wait till the coast was clear to drop down from
one grating and summon vines at another so he could resume crawling through
another dusty shaft. Eventually, he dropped from a grating, looked around, and
realized he had no way of knowing which direction the magister had gone from
this intersection.

With a sigh, he lowered himself to the floor, listening. Even to
elven ears, the fortress was silent. He had fallen too far behind already. Licinius
was beyond his reach; he couldn’t even say for sure that the magister had
passed through this intersection. Somewhere in this place, his son was in the
clutches of Metis’ old master, a man who could not even imagine the concept of
mercy unless it were sweetened with more mercenary motivations. And once again,
Metis was too late.

“No,” he whispered, brushing aside the first frustrated tear and
forbidding its fellows to fall. “Not this time. He won’t be taken from me

It was a large fortress. But with Fenris he had already explored a
good part of it, and the laboratory could not be too far; the last time he had
crossed an intersection from one grating to the next, he had certainly seen his
son being dragged away down that hallway. So he was starting from the right
point, at least. He’d just have to explore a bit more, carefully, and be
on the alert for the magebane that would render him useless again. He brushed
the dust of the crawlspaces from his robes and picked a hallway to begin.


There was little enough room to thrash in the restraints. From the
silence of his markings, Fenris guessed that Licinius had kept him drugged with
the quieting potion. Ropes might have eventually loosened if he worked at them
long enough, but the metal cuffs were inflexible. No matter how he squirmed and
tried to make his hands and feet smaller to slip through them, his position
scarcely changed.

Licinius ignored his every move, evidently confident that the
restraints could keep the markings still enough to copy. Grudgingly, Fenris
conceded that escape, for the moment, was beyond him. He lay still, except for
his eyes, narrowed as they followed the movements of the magister and his
assistants preparing for the ritual.

Two Venatori mages were present to assist Licinius – perhaps
more, behind the table and out of sight, Fenris considered. Two warriors stood
guard at the door to Fenris’ right; whether the laboratory had any other
entrance beyond his range of sight was difficult to tell. In front of him, a
Tranquil in Venatori robes bent over the lyrium flasks, preparing a pipette
with which the fluid would be transferred to the lines soon to be branded on
the Fog Warrior’s skin.

The Fog Warrior himself seemed to be unconscious. Remembering the
pain of the ritual even after so many years, Fenris envied him that. It
occurred to him that perhaps the subject’s consciousness was a necessary
ingredient in making the ritual successful; otherwise, could not Danarius have
created his markings on a Leto who need not feel every burn, every cut,
every searing pain of the lyrium bonding with his flesh? Or perhaps the pain
itself would bring the Fog Warrior back to a consciousness he would gladly
abandon again. Either way, Fenris was not about to suggest to the magister that
keeping the unfortunate man awake might be necessary to making the markings
work. Let him rest while he might.

Soon enough, the Venatori gathered around the ritual table.
Licinius nodded to one mage and the man carefully collected the branding rod
from the brazier and approached the victim, while the Tranquil stood ready with
the first flask and pipette of red lyrium.

Licinius frowned, looking over at Fenris, considering the patterns
of lyrium on his skin once more. “The torso, I believe,” he said over his
shoulder to the branding mage. “Let us begin there.”

The Venatori mage nodded, following Licinius’ gaze to take a
careful look at the lines on Fenris’ chest before he brought the branding rod
to the Fog Warrior’s skin for the first delicate line.

The man’s screams at the first sizzle of his flesh answered one
question. No one would have the luxury of remaining unconscious for this


Screams from a hallway he had just passed brought Metis up short.
He held his breath for a panicky moment, wondering if he would even be able to
tell Fenris’ screams from another man’s. To be sure, his son had not as yet
provided much of an example to go by in their brief acquaintance; Metis had
known many taught by servitude to keep their emotions well guarded, but even in
combat Fenris was quiet. Perhaps, in an ordinary life, Metis would have once
sought the patience to outlast a stage of teenaged tantrums, but it was too
late to even guess if Fenris had ever been the sort of child to rage against
parental boundaries.

Then a sharp, curt shout rose above the screams, and Metis would
know that voice anywhere. He turned to follow, keeping to shadows since he saw
no convenient gratings in this hallway.


“It will never work,” Fenris shouted above the Fog Warrior’s
pained screams, goading the magister. “Red lyrium is not the same as what marks
me. You cannot expect the same results.”

“It has already worked,” Licinius finally shouted back, yet
without losing his concentration, as Fenris had hoped. The magister continued
to focus his magic upon the prisoner, fusing the red lyrium into the burns left
by the branding rod even as his assistant mage slowly and carefully piped the
lyrium into its tracks. As Licinius’ hands passed over each flowing line, the
lyrium faded from brilliant red to the purple of an old bruise, forming a
membrane of sorts over the top of its channel that left the lyrium flowing
below, independent of the Fog Warrior’s body and yet now inseparably a part of
it. Apart from its color, it was in every way like the blue-white lines Fenris
knew as well as the rest of his own flesh.

“They will not be able to control it,” Fenris insisted. “It drives
them mad. What good are the markings to you if they cannot make use of them?”

“That is,” Licinius said, sounding more strained for breath than
at any time since they had met him, “the final step. And we are

“It has nothing to do with the shape of the lines!” said Fenris,
wriggling again against the bonds that now chafed his wrists and ankles from
all his prior attempts to escape them. “You cannot make this work with red

“We shall see,” Licinius brushed him off, resuming his magic
without any further acknowledgement of Fenris’ arguments.


Of course the door was guarded.

Metis crouched around a corner where he could just see through the
doorway, beyond which the screams of the ritual’s victim continued, now hoarse
between gasps for breath. Venatori Gladiators in their heavy armor stood at the
door, likely to see him each time he peeked around the corner.

No going in that way. Nor did the laboratory seem to have access
to the crawlspaces with which he’d become so familiar today. Odds were good
he’d run into more of the magebane even if he could get any closer to the door
without the guards catching him.

It was a fortunate thing, then, that magic still worked from a

He could see Fenris, not far from the door, arguing with the
magister despite the metal cuffs binding him to some sort of operating table.
Beyond him, Licinius and his Venatori assistants were intently focused on the
man whose screams had led Metis here.

Intently focused, indeed.

Metis raised his staff cautiously, keeping it out of the guards’
sight around his corner even as he kept his eyes fixed on the laboratory door.
Quickly, in and out and around, through the well-known pattern, and then his
free hand beckoned, calling…

He could barely see it from here, the green vine that suddenly,
quietly, curled around the nearest of Fenris’ restraints.


“You cannot hold me here forever,” Fenris continued to feint at
the Magister with words so long as his limbs were bound.

“Nor will I,” Licinius finally rose to the bait, but his magic
over the red lyrium lines never faltered. “But my potion will keep you
compliant long enough.”

Fenris opened his mouth to reply, then twitched at a sudden tickle
against his wrist. Suspecting some new trick of the magister’s, he turned to


They grew quickly, as they had when Metis made a ladder of them.
One wrist-cuff was now wholly covered in green, and a glance at his ankles
showed them succumbing to the vines as well. Fenris glanced around, seeing no
grating overhead from which his father might be calling these vines.

There were plenty of things in this room that Fenris, from his
spot in the limelight, could not see. But it would not do for Licinius to see
what Metis was doing, either. So Fenris kept talking – Licinius had thus far
disdained to even look at his precious lyrium template when he replied; let him
not grow curious now!

“I have to wonder, mage,” he growled, “what use these marked
warriors will be to you if you must always keep them under control with that
potion? How would you even know if they learned to use their markings? And
regardless, if you rely on rendering them powerless in order to keep them from
turning on you, why make them at all?”

“Those that gain control of the markings,” Licinius replied, “will
learn to obey me in time. The potion is for temporary control. It is certainly
not our only option.”

The vines covered each of the cuffs now, pressing uncomfortably
against Fenris’ skin as the space between the metal and his limbs grew ever
more full of plant life. He willed the Venatori not to notice, to keep their
eyes on the Fog Warrior. But then the mage who had been etching the lines on
the man’s skin turned aside to replace the branding rod in its brazier, and
looked up to check his work, comparing the new red markings with the pale lines
on Fenris’ chest.

Fenris tensed as he saw the mage gasp. Licinius looked up at the
Venatori, then followed his line of sight to Fenris, his eyes widening as he
saw the sudden riot of color (even one or two blossoms had come with the

Then, just as the mage and the magister took a step towards
Fenris’ table, with a loud popping sound all four of his restraints snapped
open, yielding to the unrelenting pressure of Metis’ vines. Fenris rolled off
the table into a crouch, launching himself past the mages, at the brazier where
the brand-wielder had just set the rod down to gather heat again.

It might not be hot enough yet to scorch the flesh for lyrium
bonding, but it would do to keep the Venatori at arm’s length, at least for a
moment. Fenris looked around frantically for a better weapon, even as Licinius
and his pet mages, though clearly drained of mana by their work on the Fog
Warrior, began to gather some spell or other to stop him. His sword was nowhere
to be seen, let alone his armor or even basic clothing. Nor were his own
markings yet recovered enough from the mage’s potion to be of use.

No time like the present, then. Fenris snarled and lashed out at
the nearest mage, interrupting the man’s incipient spell with a thrust of the
branding rod at his eye. He flung the brazier itself at the second mage,
setting the man’s robes on fire and occupying him with putting out the flames.
That left only Licinius, since the Tranquil assistant appeared content to stay
out of the way and await the outcome of the fight, much to Fenris’ relief. Even
as he looked around for something more to fling at the magister, there was a
scuffle at the door. He looked up, expecting to see the Venatori guards joining
the fight.

They were, in a sense. Their weapon was merely the mage held
firmly between them, his spectacles askew on his very dusty face.

Fenris froze as the guards informed Licinius, “Found this one
skulking just down the hall, ser.”

“Well, well, gardener.” Licinius straightened, dropping whatever
spell he had begun, to smirk back at Fenris. “Couldn’t bear to be parted from
this one, could you?”

“Let him go,” Fenris warned in a low growl, crouched and ready to
spring, held back only by the guards’ grip on his father.

“But he so clearly wishes to be a part of the ritual,” Licinius
said, raising one eyebrow as he looked between the two elves. Then he seemed to
make up his mind, and raised his staff to begin a spell.

“No!” Fenris shouted, lunging towards the magister. From the door
he could hear Metis cry out as well. The guards gripped him tighter, making no
move to stop Fenris –

Nor did they need to. Licinius completed his spell, and once more
Fenris saw the lights of a glyph spring up at his feet, felt himself jerked to
a stop, held against his will.

“Licinius!” he heard Metis call, but could not turn his head to
meet his father’s eyes. “Please.

But Fenris certainly saw the magister’s smirk as he turned towards
the doorway again. “You needn’t beg, gardener,” Licinius said. “I would be
happy to include you in the ritual.”

Fenris could imagine the look of shock on Metis’ face when he
heard him reply, “You’re joking. You can’t possibly imagine I would want
to help you mark that poor man.”

“Oh, you mistake me,” Licinius chuckled. “Although it appears I
will have to replace my current assistants, nonetheless. You,” he shot a
glance back at Fenris, “seem to have well earned the wolf part of your
name. No, my old gardener, it occurs to me that I have not yet tried bestowing
the markings upon a mage. Perhaps the magic in your blood would draw a greater
response from the lyrium. How would you like to be my next red lyrium warrior?”

“No!” Fenris shouted again, straining against the paralysis glyph.
“Do…not…do this!” It was easier this time, fighting against the magic’s
hold on him. He managed to turn his head enough to see his father gaping at
Licinius as he took in what the magister had said.

Metis finally collected himself, shaking his head slowly. “No,
magister,” he said, “I think you mistake me. I would make a
terrible warrior, no matter what markings you put on me. I wish no part at all
in your ritual. I wish only to take Fenris and go.”

“You know I cannot grant that,” Licinius laughed. “There is so
much I can learn from his markings. Why, if simply copying them onto my next warrior
does not work…” He glanced back at Fenris with a smirk, folding his hands
thoughtfully beneath his chin, “we can always cut him open and find out what
makes them work from the inside.”

“What?” Metis froze, then shook his head frantically, struggling
to break away from the Venatori guards. “No. No, no, no, Licinius, I will not
permit you to harm him!”

“Will you not? How interesting,” Licinius stepped closer to Metis,
crooking a finger to raise the elf’s trembling chin. “You know, gardener, you
are stronger than you look, but have you the strength to deny me?”

“You will not have him,” Metis whispered through clenched teeth.

“Such single minded focus!” Licinius smiled. “Such willpower! Your
magic shows strength of mind as well. And I recall,” the magister flicked a
finger at the scars just showing on Metis’ arms where his sleeves had twisted
up in his struggles against the guards’ grip, “you always did have a high
tolerance for pain. You bore those cuts so stoically.”

“Not willingly,” Metis hissed.

“Yes, that’s a good point. You see, I have noticed that this
ritual of mine turns out better for the subjects who willingly submit
themselves to it. The more they struggle, the more it seems to break their
minds in the end.”

Metis stared at him. “You…want me to agree to this.”

“It would be better for all of us. A willing subject and the
proper pattern of markings. That is the alchemy I have been searching
for. Do this, and I will have no need to dissect my template.”

“You mean,” Metis said slowly, “you will have my willing
participation, or you will kill him.”

“Metis,” Fenris gasped, “don’t! You…do not know…what he is
asking…of you.”

Metis’ sad eyes met his son’s, holding them even as he spoke to
the magister: “You will release him, Licinius. When this is over, no matter
whether or not your ritual succeeds, no matter what becomes of me, you will let
him go, unharmed. No dissections.”

“I assure you, there will be no need,” Licinius began, but Metis
turned to glare at him, and the magister threw up his hands. “Unharmed.
Regardless. You have my word.”

Metis nodded. “Then you have mine.”

Question mark for replies?

Blogger Gatherings!

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Berethron of Brandywine hosted the 2010 Summer Blogmoot.

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Next up: The Spring Blogmoot of 2011 shall return to Nimrodel with Tuiliel (Whart, aka user-1027520) hosting! Linett is looking forward to another local moot!



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