igetthatalot: (oy)
[personal profile] igetthatalot
Here, friend barkeep, is silver. You'll note that there's a moderately respectable amount of it. I'd appreciate it if you'd give me something extremely strong in exchange for some of it, and then continue refilling my tankard each time I empty it until there is no more. I've got a taste I want to wash out of my brain. Its name is Sister Petrice.

No, not that kind of taste. Don't be disgusting.

Understand, when it all started it was another matter altogether. Hawke and I-

Yes, as a matter of fact, all my stories these days do start with 'Hawke and I'. Until you start giving me coin to hear other things, that's how it's going to stay for the foreseeable future.

Anyway. Hawke and I were passing through Lowtown one night recently when we ran across what we thought for sure was a suicide in the making. I mean, honestly. What else do you call going out in Lowtown after dark without armor or a guard and offering money to heavily armed strangers? And following them into a dark alley? Personally, I would've passed the whole thing by. Far be it from me to interrupt someone so obviously bent on her own death. But, well, if you know Hawke's name at all these days you know she won't stand for that kind of thing. So we followed ourselves, and when the swords came out, we got involved. Call it civic-mindedness. And an opportunity to go through the pockets of the fallen, if you must. I won't deny that part.

When the swords had stopped flashing and the blood had stopped steaming, our would-be suicide came forward and admitted she'd been a little out of her element, I suppose in much the same way that earthworms aren't all that much at home in fire. She said she'd been looking for someone who was, and I quote, 'someone of bloody skill, but also integrity- perhaps the kind who might leap to someone's defense'.

Now, that's either foolhardy idiocy, deliberate manipulation, or a desperate attempt by a really bad liar to cover their ass after being caught doing something that backfired. Considering that she was wearing a Sister's robes it was just possibly a case of all three, since some of them have weird ideas about divine protection. On the other hand, she went on to say that she had someone who needed safe passage from the city, and that she was willing to pay to get them out...

So that's how we wound up rounding up Isabela, Hawke's sister, and Hawke's giant dog and cramming the whole merry bunch of us into a little hole in an unremarkable part of Lowtown. Our new friend, it turned out, was named Sister Petrice, and she and her pet Templar had a Qunari they wanted to sneak out of town, if you'll believe that. A mage, even! Yes, the ox-men have them. They cut out their tongues and sew up their lips and bind them in collars and masks and other charming tactics for keeping them from getting out of hand, but they have them. Sister Petrice said she didn't know his actual name, but she called him Ketojan and said he'd survived their Tal-Vashoth infighting. Since she figured the Viscount would just turn him over to the Arishok in the name of appeasement, she wanted to help Ketojan get away.

Don't think we didn't ask her all kinds of questions at that point. I mean, really. Why not use the Chantry resources to help, why not appeal to the Arishok, how did we know he really wanted to get away- you name the question, and believe me, it came up. I'm just not going into detail here because I know for a fact you'd be bored off your nut if I did. The important part is, in the end Hawke and Bethany decided there were worse fates than accepting a nice heavy pile of coin to help a mage get away from people who treated him poorly. Surprise, surprise.

I won't bore you with the details of what happened next. I'll give you a hint: it involved tunnels through the Undercity and a lot of giant spiders. Maker's breath, I hate being underground. And the part where we ran into actual humans down there wasn't much fun either- although calling that lot human's stretching a point as far as it'll go. Kirkwall's down-and-out don't harbor any love for Fereldan refugees even years after the fact, but this bunch-

Well, you know how these things go. 'Leave us alone', 'you outsider scum are stinking up the last free place in Kirkwall', 'grrr, argh', and next thing you know the air stinks of magic and flaming, angry Qunari. Looked like no collar and no tongue wasn't enough to stop him from doing magic after all. Not that he could talk, yet. Just blast those thugs into little person-shaped piles of rag and bone. Isn't that nice to know about the fellow whose motives you don't understand in the slightest?

We made it out eventually, all of us. The tunnels came out in a mountain pass high above the city. One that, unfortunately, was chock full of Qunari. Not Tal-Vashoth, either. They spotted us before we could back off or get a bead on them, and their leader stood up and told us to halt where we were. Said he was called Arvaarad, and that he claimed possession of Saarebas.

It's not a name, it's a title. Apparently it means 'very dangerous thing'. I checked.

Anyway, he said the members of his... something, I didn't write it down- they'd been killed by Tal-Vashoth and the trail had led the Qunari right to where we were now. Hawke pointed out that we were coming from the other direction, which made it a little hard to leave a trail, but that didn't help. Arvaarad was more interested in our mage and how he was running around loose, with us holding his leash. As far as he was concerned, the big guy was his responsibility, and they were there to pick him up and make sure he was 'properly contained'. Well, you can imagine how well Hawke and her sister took to hearing that, and how well they handled seeing the big fellow kneel when Arvaarad demanded he show his submission to the Qun even now. When it came out that Bethany was a mage herself...

You're not giving me good enough alcohol for a properly epic retelling of the battle that followed. What did you water this swill down with? You really expect me to do justice to three humans, one dwarf, and a dog against a whole troop of Qunari warriors in righteous rage-driven battle frenzy? I don't think so. You get 'they knocked out Ketojan first, and then there was a scene of unimaginable violence'. Seriously. Give me the stuff I'm paying for next time if you want better than that.

When all of the Qunari were dead Hawke went over to check on our companion, and found the ... thing, some kind of wand, I think... that they'd used to knock him out. She got him back on his feet and popped the mask off his face with it, and that's when we found out he could talk after all. Guess they didn't get around to the tongue thing before his last bunch of keepers got killed. He thanked us for fighting for him, and for our good intentions, and said we were worthy of following. I suppose that was his idea of a compliment. Hawke didn't get much time to bask in that, because the next thing our companion said was that he had to return to his people. The Qun demanded it.

I'm not really very fond of the Qun right now. Can you tell?

Hawke could tell where this was going, and she asked him if he really wanted to die after everything that'd happened. He said no, but he did want to live by the Qun, and that since he'd been outside his karataam thing, he had no way of knowing whether or not he'd been corrupted past the point of being redeemed. It was up to him how he returned to the Qun, and he, apparently, felt that the best way of doing that was by dying.

Hawke pointed out that we could get him back to Petrice, if he wanted to try to find some other way, and that's when I heard the closest thing I've ever heard to a laugh come out of one of his kind. "The sister," he said, "was not honest. I cannot say what she wanted, but it was certainty not of the Qun. And her guard smelled of death."

Now, given that we'd been hired to get him out of the city because Petrice swore that the best thing was to see him free, and that she was just sure any thinking being would want to be free... well, that didn't go over well at all. Not with any of us. Although we probably could've done without Isabela sing-songing "I could have told you that" under her breath- not that it matters. That was the point when Hawke threw up her hands and said, "You know what? My job ended when we exited the city. What happens now is up to you."

And, you know? That turned out to be the right thing to say, at least as far as our companion was concerned. Apparently he set a lot of store by certainty and borders, and seemed to think Hawke would do pretty well with her role under the Qun if she took it up. He handed her some kind of talisman, told her to remember this day, and burst into flames.

No, seriously. Fwoomp. Just like that. Seven feet of flaming oxman, right in front of us. And he didn't even make a sound. He just stood there flaming until his tendons snapped, and fell over and burned until he died.

I'm going to need a refill now.

Ah, much better. Well, as I'm sure you can imagine, we all decided that we needed to have Words with Sister Petrice. Someone had set a trail to lead to that secret passage opening, and it sure wasn't us. We headed on back to the city and to Petrice's little 'safe house', which- surprise, surprise- she and her pet Templar were busily trying to scour clean and evacuate. I've seen killers make less effort to hide their tracks at a murder scene. Oh, she tried to act grateful when she saw us come back in, but none of it reached her eyes. That Qunari mage had been right about her.

Hawke took the opportunity to indicate that the bodies of the mage's karataam were a little on the incriminating side. And Petrice, Maker bless her black and shriveled little heart, got snippy at her for using Qunari words in her presence- and started spilling the beans like someone'd cut the bottom out of her bag. IF such a plot existed, IF the Qunari had murdered us for trying to help their slave mage, then maybe people would've realized appeasement wasn't going to work and our deaths would've been a tragic necessity, but all we had NOW were some dead oxmen and the word of a sympathizer. And since Hawke was just a Lowtown thug, nothing bad could be attached to the Chantry and nobody would believe any accusations she might make. So Hawke should just take her coin and leave, because the stakes involved in dealing with the Qunari were all eternity, and that was just too high.

So, yes. We got paid. Good gold coin for doing dirty work for one of the more repulsive schemers I've ever met. Hence the need for drink.

Speaking of which, I think I'm going to go look for Hawke now. I'm just complaining until I get my morning headache, but she's... really not taking it well at all. The whole situation's hit her pretty hard.

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Varric Tethras

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