Game: Dragon Age 2
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They fully belong to BioWare -- I just abuse them for funsies.
Until We Bleed
Act IV, Scene VI I've Stayed in One Place for Too Long, Got to Get on the Run Again
Thunderous was not quite the word he sought. Murderous? No, that was much too mild. In fact, in his current state he could not find a word strong enough to accurately describe the pounding, stabbing, biting pain that waxed and waned in his head. In one moment the world stood still, and he could almost attempt to rise from his desperate position on the bed. In the other, he was hurled backwards by the spinning and vertigo. Something in his abdomen pull, contracted, and despite continuously swallowing against it, there was a sickness forcing itself up his throat. He leaned over the edge of the bed and retched, vomit soon barraging out of his throat and into the bucket that Orana had strategically placed beside him, and as it passed through his mouth it tainted his tongue with a sharply bitter and sour taste. He drew his tongue over his teeth, swiping away any remnants from his last dinner, and then spat it out into the pool of puke next to him. I will bloody kill that dwarf, he thought to himself, staring at the beautiful and ornate but, to him, completely repugnant hipflask that lay on the floor.
He heard the silent bustle of Orana's dress as she came to attend on him. She had seen to him twice already, each time offering him a piece of cheese, or bread, or a strong elven brew that he dared not touch as he recovered from his latest encounter with a foreign beverage.
It took great effort from the servant to even convince her master to take the tumbler of water that she held out to him, but she was patient and clearly used to her role in these situations. She had a fresh change of clothes laid out for him before she left him to his thoughts again, very aware that his already foul mood would sour even more should he be disturbed. As she left, she brought the bucket of vomit with her, carrying it away from her nose with a grip so light one could easily have thought she had serpents in her hands.
When Hawke was alone again, he reached for the bread Orana had left behind on a platter. Instead of eating it, though, he broke it into piece after piece whilst swearing at himself and Varric's bloody drink inwardly. Once he had punished the bread sufficiently, he tossed the pieces back on the tray he had taken it from. He eyed the fruits and the cheese that lay there, and the emptiness in his stomach demanded filling. But his hands were still weak, and his body weighed down and sluggish; if his stomach changed its mind later, he would not make it out of this room before being brought to his knees to spew on the floor. But water, he thought, and grasped the tumbler again with his frail fingerswater would be fine. He held the cup to his mouth, and carefully tipped it upward. Though, somehow his bludgeoned senses completely misjudged the distance between the jug and his lips, and all the cold refreshing water he had hoped to swallow ended up as a cascade running down his robed chest.
"Shit," he swore loudly, replacing the tumbler on the small table it had rested on, and then looked around for something to quickly dry himself with. His eyes came to rest on Fenris, who still lay almost comatose next to him. Hawke wondered if the voice he had heard yesterday had only been in his mind, or if Fenris was actually coming to life. But he was distracted from his thoughts as the cold trickle of water found its way down his stomach to his groin. With great pains he managed to haul himself out of the large, comfortable bed, and drag his bones over to the wardrobe. He stripped out of the wet robes and threw them without care onto a small pile at the bottom of the wardrobe. Then he walked dizzy toward the fresh set of clothes Orana had laid out for him. They were of a similar model to his casual maroon robes, but this fabric was jet black with the Hawke family crest embroidered in golden thread across the back.
Although the cloth was far too splendid for a morning like this one, he got dressed as quickly as his nausea would allow, giving no effort to details or neatness, and then moved toward the bed to clean up the mess of breadcrumbs and water he had left there. He brushed off the crumbs, and did his best to wipe away the water too. Soon he realised that the battle with the dirty sheets was a futile one. They would need changing. He hesitated to call for Orana once more since she had been so graciously taking care of both him and Fenris for all this time, despite having no obligation to do so. She was a cleaner and a cook, not a nurse. And though Hawke had tried to dismiss the elf from his service numerous times each attempt at releasing her was thwarted with the saddest pair of puppy eyes Hawke had ever seen. He quickly decided against summoning her for help, and endeavoured to change the bed sheets himself.
As he pulled back the covers, he stopped dead in his tracks. It had never crossed his mind, until now, that Fenris lay naked but for his smallclothes and a few bandages under the duvet. Uncomfortable warmth sprung forth on Hawke's face as he found himself shocked, and a little aroused, at seeing the white markings that trailed down Fenris stomach in a bold contrast to his dark skin. It was a long time since he had seen Fenris without his clothes on. Hawke had been unable to look at the elf when they brought him back, stripped him out of his cut-through armour, and treated his wounds. Hawke had reeled at seeing the other man soaked in his own hot, red blood. It was only barely that he could watch as Anders repaired him, and whenever he had to wash Fenris or turn his limp body to prevent bedsores Orana was there to help him, and he paid no attention to anything other than the task at hand.
But now he looked upon the elf and remembered everything. Although considerably thinner than before a lot of his strength now lost to inactivity Fenris' body was still a marvel of well-defined muscles and lyrium markings that emitted a faint glow underneath his skin. Hawke found himself remembering how those brands had shivered under his fingers, lips and tongue. His eyes wandered with the intricate designs. Were he not so aware of the circumstance of their implementation, he might have considered them art. He still admired the markings, but he suspected the designs had little to do with decoration and everything to do with efficiencya thought that set his teeth on edge.
Finally tearing his eyes off Fenris, Hawke staggered around the bed to sort the dirty cover away and replace it with a new one. Although he tried hard to make as little noise as possible, he was curious to see if he could not awaken Fenris simply by moving around him. Hawke wanted to try something, anything, to wake him up, but he still knew that any interference would only cause more harm. He remembered Anders' words quite clearly. As he thought of the mage, Hawke's fingers encircled the Tevinter amulet he hid inside his robes still. The slight weight around his neck had been a comfort. It was always warm to the touch, and when he pressed it to his lips a soothing pulse played against him. The amulet emitted a low hum of benevolent energy, and a scent of thunderstorms, just like Anders.
He heard an abrupt clamour from downstairs, and he dropped the amulet back into his robes. Hawke threw down the bed sheets onto the bed, bothering only to cover Fenris' exposed body before he hurried down, and to his surprise found his sister.
"Bethany?" he asked, surprised to see her returned from the docks so soon. "Is everything all right?"
"No!" she exclaimed, her voice filled with horror. "No, brother; it was the Templars... Not the Knight-Captain's men, others"
"What is going on, Beth? Calm yourself!" He was beside her now, his arm over her shoulders as she sank toward the floor, bringing them both to their knees. "Tell me what happened."
"They" she began, but her voice was caught in a wretched sob, and she broke down into tears. She only pulled herself together when Junes, who had been sleeping by the hearth, pressed his gentle nose against her face. Bethany tied her arms around the dog instead of her brother, and whispered into the Mabari's fur, "They are looking for us."
"Who is looking for us?" Hawke demanded. "What did they do?"
"They were in the docks. There was a Tranquil thereI think he must have been sent to purchase supplies for those who have remained in the Gallows," she explained, wiping her snotty nose on her hand. "They were asking him about us, and he told them he knew of us, but not where we lived. He did not lie. He can't lie!"
Bethany broke into another bout of sobs. Hawke placed his hand on her shoulder, hoping to be more supportive than he could manage to show on his face.
"They killed him," she spoke, her voice hoarse and once more filled with fright. "They called him a blood mage sympathiser and spat on his corpse."
A wretched burn awoke under Hawke's skin. "And no one stopped them?!" he not so much asked as accused.
"Some of Aveline's guards tried to intervene, but"
The Champion rose abruptly from his kneeling position. He stepped toward the vibrant fireplace, hoping the warmth of it could numb the rage inside him, but it did nothing for his anger.
"What now, brother?" He heard his sister speak, as she also got to her feet. "We cannot linger here much longer."
This was the very last thing he had hoped to hear whilst tending to his parlous headache. Not one day passed by without conflict, but it was rarely more than a flurry of insults and threats thrown around, only to be withdrawn in the presence of the Champion. But now the tension had finally gotten too great, and Hawke lamented his decision to delay. But there had been no other option; Fenris had to wake before they could leave.
"Where is Merrill?" he asked his sister sharply. "Did you bring her with you to the docks?"
"I'm here, Hawke," the awkward elf-girl said, swiftly appearing from the hallway. "I'm sorry," she said, seeing the annoyance on Hawke's face. She knew he hated surprises. "I didn't want to disturb you, so I waitedI should have told you I was here, shouldn't I?"
"Fetch Orana," he told her laconically, then turned back to his sister as the dainty blood mage scurried away much in the same fashion as the woman she was sent to collect. He pinched the bridge of his nose before he said in an interrogative voice, "Aveline? Donnic? Where are they?"
"The barracks. With the guardsmen who"
"And Varric?" Hawke interrupted, but realised too late what the answer to that interjection would be. Trying to cover his error, he said, "I meant Gamlen..."
"Gamlen and Charade are both in Lowtown, still."
"Fair enough." He nodded toward Bethany. "Did you find everything we need?"
"Yes, we found everything. We could leave straight away if..." Her eyes trailed upward to where she knew the elven warrior lay, unconscious still. She worried about Fenris even though she had never considered the man a friend he was somehow important to her brother but Bethany knew the elf became more of a burden and risk for each passing day.
"We can only give him one more day," Hawke stated, shocking his sister with his response. Gravity heavier than an iron mask slid over his face when he added, "With or without him; we leave Kirkwall tonight."
He knew all too well that they could not drag Fenris along as dead weight once they escaped the city. They had only been able to stay this long due to the reluctant cooperation of Knight-Captain Cullen, but with these events, he was not eager to test his luck and stay longer.
Orana had arrived and stood almost on tip toe as she waited for a command. Merrill looked equally eager for something to do, although her fervency sprung from anxiety, not a desire to work.
"It is time," he said tersely. The mousy elf bowed her head before turning on her heel and marching knowingly toward the library above the study. "Bethany, Merrill; I need you to find Gamlen and Charade and bring them back here. They are coming with us, and that is final. If you need to tie them up, do so, but we are not leaving the stubborn old goat behind, nor our cousin."
"What of you, brother?"
"I will find Aveline and Donnic and return here once matters are settled with the Guard. Anyone who is not back by nightfall will be left behind."
When he was finally left alone again he bit his tongue, thinking the pain would wake him up from this surreal dream, but his head still throbbed in remembrance of the night before and his body was sore. This is all too real, and all too soon, he thought to himself as tied the heavy leather straps of his vambraces.