Author: DreadNot PM
Subtitle: Mine to Kill. Returning from Vigil's Keep, Anders and Fenris get an explosive welcome back to Kirkwall. Volutions 4.Rated: Fiction T - English - Anders & Fenris - Words: 2,478 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 4 - Published: 09-17-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7388349
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is part of the Volutions series (Nautilus, Grotesquerie, and Haspenald). As such you can read this as a standalone scene, but it won't make quite as much sense without the context of the other stories.
The trip back from Vigil's Keep had been uneventful – lacking in darkspawn, raiders, or random tentacle beasts from the deeps, but once Anders and Fenris set foot upon Kirkwall's docks, Anders could feel that things had changed, and not for the better.
Hawke's mabari, Brutal, raised his head and sniffed the air before racing away from them as though his stumpy tail was on fire. Anders watched him go with faint amusement. After all, Hawke had ordered the mabari to stay with him until they got back to Kirkwall. Apparently the dog was smart enough to be very literal-minded about it.
Or maybe he smelled something in the air. People were tense, there were murmurs that the Qunari in their compound were readying themselves for some action, and all agreed that whatever that action was, there would be blood.
Anders shifted his attention to Fenris to gauge his response to the tension all around them. Fenris' expression was unreadable as always, but Anders had learned to read Fenris' posture and smallest mannerisms over their weeks of forced closeness. He repeatedly shifted his right hand to touch the great sword slung over his back – a gift from Widald Amell, his knees were flexed as though to spring to respond to any provocation, and his eyes – those great, green eyes – swept the entirety of the Docks from left to right and back, over and over, never resting.
Fenris expected trouble.
Justice twisted in the depths of Anders' mind, agreeing with Fenris' expectations.
Right. They were all in agreement then.
"We should find Hawke," Anders and Fenris said simultaneously. It was almost enough to make him laugh. There had been a time when the simultaneity would have made Anders laugh, but that time had passed.
He offered Fenris a crooked smile nonetheless and nodded toward the stairs that would take them up away from the docks and eventually up toward Hightown. He hoisted his pack, heavy with gifts from Dal, and let Ser Pounce-a-lot scramble up his body, claws digging into his robe and sometimes into flesh beneath until the cat was settled at the top of his pack, surveying the world over Anders' shoulder.
He drew a deep breath, feeling the weight of Kirkwall's problems settle onto his soul again, and strode forward with Fenris at his side.
Just in time for the world to erupt into chaos.
Anders had learned to expect anything in Kirkwall, a city where dozens of footpads could simply fall out of the sky for the meager coin he carried. He expected that the world might start raining men, he expected blood mages and abominations, but he did not expect sudden explosions that indicated that it wasn't just Anders and his friends being attacked but the city as a whole.
As one, he and Fenris drew their weapons. Part of Anders thrilled to the sight of Fenris dropped into a fighting crouch, but Justice and common sense overrode the hormonal response, reminding him that they were moving into life-or-death circumstances and no matter how deadly appealing Fenris was like this, it was not the time. It was never the time.
As he and Fenris made their way up the stairs away from the main docks, Kirkwall citizens streamed toward them, some desperate to escape the city by sea, others simply running away from the source of the first explosions.
"What in Flame happened while we were gone?" he shouted to Fenris over the cacophony of screams and further explosions.
Fenris didn't grace him with a response, but he did cut a swathe through the chaos, shouldering men and women aside in his effort to go against the tide, upinstead of down.
Anders was seized with a certainty that Hawke was somewhere in this mess, and why not? For all the man's flippancy, he was never one to be found far from blood and flame.
"Hurry," he urged Fenris, loosening the ties on his backpack to give Ser Pounce-a-lot room to crawl inside and out of sight. Anders was pleased to see that Pounce's Deep Roads instincts had not been dulled by life in Amaranthine – he ducked into the pack immediately.
As they moved upward, some of the fleeing citizens called warnings to them. "It's the Qunari! They've finally done it." "Those horn heads are killing everyone." "Don't go up there, you fools, the Qunari are taking over!"
There had been a time when Anders would have been able to take that advice, but it was years gone and countries ago. He exchanged a glance with Fenris and nodded before they broke into a run, heading up toward Hightown.
The encountered the first small Qunari patrol before they were even off the docks, which was hardly a surprise considering the Qunari compound's proximity. Working together, Anders and Fenris cut through them with barely a pause.
At first they found only pairs of Qunari working together to erect barricades to channel foot traffic to their advantage. Anders and Fenris moved quickly, fighting together almost as though they were still chained together, with the added advantage that Fenris could now use a sword more to his liking without throwing Anders around like a rag doll.
Anders wasn't thinking about conserving his energies. He let himself get swept up in the feral pleasure of battle, throwing spells one after another to take down Qunari before they had a chance to do more than raise their weapons at the deadly pair.
Then they encountered a larger patrol.
Fenris swept into the middle of the group before the four grey giants had a chance to react, scything his sword in a great arc that struck one down with his first blow.
Anders cursed under his breath that Fenris had gotten in his way even as he admired the strength it took for Fenris to throw his sword around as though it were no heavier than Anders' own staff. He carefully gauged the path of his fireball and dropped the sphere of flame at the back of the group to catch two of the Qunari in its blast.
"Saarebas!" The survivor shouted out the warning that there was a "dangerous thing" – Anders – before Fenris took his life and his head.
"Too right," Anders muttered with a grim smile. "Not one but two dangerous things here you big grey sons of bitches."
Make that three or more. The first blast would have knocked him off his feet if some instinct had not warned him to move.
The sting from the lightning ball set Anders' nerves afire, but he did not have time to worry about it yet. The Qunari Saarebas had appeared out of nowhere to throw the ball of lightning, but where there was a Saarebas, experience told Anders there would soon be an Arvaarad and more of the Qun's nameless fighters.
"Fenris, take the controller, I'll get the Saarebas," Anders called, not looking over his shoulder while he called up a cage of magical force to hold the Saarebas, keeping the Qunari mage from hitting them with more of his devastating lightning attacks or from disappearing and reappearing out of range as Saarebas often did.
A small part of Anders' mind spared a thought for how much he wished he could learn how to do that.
He unleashed the force cage and pulled up another fireball, grinning with the giddy feeling of fire gushing up through him to be directed out upon the world. His dirty little secret was that he loved this moment when he could truly let go when so much of his life was about keeping his magic controlled and contained.
With good reason, but still, tightly controlled magic was like a tightly controlled orgasm – just not quite as good as really letting go.
"Any time now," he called over his shoulder as he released the fireball, already reaching into his connection with the Fade for ice to follow the fire. He could see the looming form of the Arvaarad and at least two more Qunari warriors past the restrained Saarebas. If he caught them with the fan of ice, he could slow them and give Fenris an opportunity to shatter their frozen forms.
If Fenris would just get moving.
He dared a glance back to see what was keeping the elf and caught sight of him crumpled against a wall. He took it in all in one rush of blood and black leather and that remaining incongruous streak of fuchsia on Fenris' shoulder.
He turned back to the advancing Qunari and threw out the fan of biting ice, slowing the Arvaarad's advance and halting the two soldiers in their tracks. His mind raced with calculations. The Arvaarad would be on him in seconds, the force cage holding the Saarebas would dissipate soon, he had run through his best offensive spells and needed to gather his connection to the fade enough to cast them again, and his backup was down.
It bore repeating.
One thing at a time. He moved forward instead of back, summoning up a blast of sheer mental frustration, putting all his anxiety and fear into it, thrusting it out to catch all four Qunari in its radius. The Arvaarad staggered back and stood, head hanging in confusion, shaking those great horns back and forth like a bull beset by biting flies.
"Sorry about this," Anders ground out and raised his staff, driving the sharp sword-end into the caged Saarebas' throat. He might be a fellow mage caught in a worse captivity even than the Circles, but he was still trying to kill Anders, and Anders had too much to do with his life before he could lie down and die.
The Saarebas died without a sound.
Anders jerked his staff free of the dead Qunari's throat and turned to run back to Fenris. He had seconds at most before the others freed themselves of the ice and mental blast's effects.
There was blood. Of course there was blood. When was there ever not blood? Anders crouched by Fenris and raised him up to a sitting position. He had enough strength left for a last healing spell, but after that? He had options, but he did not like any of them.
"You'd better get up and fight you broody bastard," Anders growled at Fenris as he pushed magic into his body. As always Justice thrilled to the song of the lyrium in Fenris' skin, but Anders quelled that flash of wantwhile he healed Fenris' internal injuries.
At a guess, Fenris had been blown back by the lightning ball. Colliding with a wall could be almost as bad as colliding with a sword if you did it hard enough. The internal injuries presented no problem, but Anders was far more concerned with the bloody dent at Fenris' left temple. The bone was thin there and head injuries were tricky.
"Wake up," Anders murmured, feeling his connection to the Fade shiver and collapse as he pushed the last of his magic into healing Fenris. "Wake up, wake up, wake up."
It was too late. He could see the Arvaarad shake himself one last time and look around to spot Anders and Fenris. Behind him the ice dissolved into vapor on the two warriors.
We will stop them together.Justice moved to the front of Anders' mind and took the reins from him like a carter helping an exhausted friend handle a rebellious draft team. Did that make his body the horses? The cart?
Whatever it was, it had been driven to exhaustion, and they did not have the precious seconds and minutes it would take for his magic to restore itself.
He felt the Fade glow break across his skin almost abstractly. With Justice's guidance, they pulled the magic directly out of his body – cannibalizing muscle and bone, blood and sinew for the power to cast another spell.
"He is mine to kill!" Anders snarled as the Arvaarad loomed over them, control rod raised like a club. He thrust up his hand and threw out another fan of ice and biting shards, catching the Arvaarad and the two Qunari behind him in its arc.
Yes! Take that you horny bastards!"
He followed the ice with lightning that crackled and jumped from one Qunari to another. The two lesser warriors staggered and fell.
"One more," he told himself, speaking aloud without realizing it. "I've got one more in me." Drawing the magic from his own body hurtbut it was better than the option of death.
His arm was shaking with the effort of holding his hand up, but he pulled one last spell out, pushing it out of his palm before he closed his hand in a fist.
The Arvaarad froze, caught in the thick blanket of ice that coalesced out of the air around him. With one last effort of will Anders kicked out his foot and toppled the giant, grinning despite his pain and fatigue when he hit the ground and shattered.
"That'll show you why mages are feared," he muttered before the Fade glow winked out of his skin and exhaustion flooded him.
Now he could finally look down at Fenris, who he had kept clutched against him through it all.
His eyes were open, though one pupil was dilated far larger than the other. Anders could see the effort it took for Fenris to focus on him, and his voice was faintly slurred when he asked, "Mine to kill?"
Anders froze. Had he said that?
He laughed it off and slid his pack off his back, still awkwardly holding Fenris. He would focus on letting Ser Pounce-a-lot out for a moment, getting an injury kit, and digging out some of the potions he hadn't expected to need right off the boat. He would get Fenris patched up, restore his own energy, and they would go kill more Qunari until they found Hawke. After which they would probably kill manymore Qunari.
Fenris, however, would not let it go. "Mine to kill?" he repeated, insistent.
Anders sighed and opened the pack's flap one-handed, murmuring reassurance to Ser Pounce-a-lot when he poked his head out. He was not looking at Fenris, trying to find an answer that didn't include "mine." He finally settled on, "After sleeping next to you for weeks, if anyone gets to kill you, it should be me."