AN: This is part of the Volutions series (Nautilus, Grotesquerie, Haspenald, Anaxiphilia). The prologue takes place concurrently with Anaxiphilia which you can find here on ff net by clicking my profile. As with Grotesquerie, the POV alternates between chapters. Warnings are necessary for Anders' chapters that there will be psychological torture. Fenris' chapters only require warnings for the standard DA-levels of violence.
He had returned to Kirkwall at last, his little wolf.
Danarius watched him with proprietary pleasure as he disembarked from the ship that had brought him and his companion from Amaranthine. Oh, but his wolf was tense, Danarius could read it even from his rooftop, seeing the set of Fenris' shoulders, the way he would unconsciously reach back to touch his sword, the subtle bend of his knees as though to spring to respond to any provocation at any moment.
And with every movement, the faint gleam of lyrium. A fortune's worth of lyrium. Danarius' fingers clenched and unclenched with the force of his need to have his property back. He would bring his wolf to heel as he had before, and they would return to the Imperium where Danarius would make him earn the right to continue wearing his marks.
His eyes narrowed as he watched Fenris exchange words with his companion.
"That is the apostate," Hadriana said. She was always so good at reading where his attentions were. Too good, Danarius thought. Her ambitions would be the death of one of them some day - he did not expect it would be his death.
This then was Anders, the rumored Grey Warden and slum healer. He watched a ginger tabby scale the apostate's robes - Tevinter-style, how ironic -and settle on his pack.
Pathetic. His wolf needed a better master than some half-wit mage who wasted himself on the filth of the world.
He raised a hand to order his guards to the attack when the building under him shook with the force of some nearby explosion. More explosions broke the city's relative peace along with screams and the sounds of sudden panic.
Perfect. "Hold." He closed his hand into a fist and followed Fenris and Anders with his eyes. He noted a glint of metal on the apostate's wrist as he brought his staff to bear, but jewelry choices were incidental details when he had an opportunity to observe a potential enemy and learn his strengths and weaknesses.
He already knew Fenris inside and out. His eyes narrowed at the hungry expression that crossed Anders' face when he looked at Fenris. How well did the apostate know his slave's skills? Fenris was, after all, so very skilled.
The cries of warning reached him as citizens fled to the dubious safety of moored ships. The Qunari were attacking? His Fenris did have a nose for trouble, didn't he?
He strode along his rooftop, following Fenris and Anders without letting them out of his sight. They fought well together, cutting down Qunari often without even breaking stride to do so.
Danarius revised his opinion of the apostate up a few notches, but he noted that the man did not summon any minions to fight for him. He used only his own energy, and profligately at that. He might be a challenge for Hadriana, but Danarius was confident that if they dueled, Anders would die.
From his place safe on the rooftops, Danarius enjoyed the spectacle as he might a series of gladiatorial matches in Minrathous. He would put his money on this team and feel confident that he would not lose.
The thought soured when Fenris and Anders encountered a larger party of Qunari and a Saarebas. Fenris was disabled almost immediately, thrown into a wall by a blast of lightning from a Saarebas, leaving Anders to fight on by himself.
Danarius could see that Anders was flagging. He laughed softly, and answered Hadriana's unspoken question. "The Qunari will do most of our work for us. When the mage falls, we will kill them and take my property." Fenris wouldn't even put up a fight, which was almost disappointing, but would save him money for dead mercenaries in the long term.
He could see when Anders reached the end of his reserves. He knew that look well; he had seen it on the faces of mages he had dueled moments before he delivered the coup de grace. He thought less of the apostate for wasting his last magic on Fenris, but he would soon suffer the fate that all fools merited.
He raised his hand again, ready to give the order to attack the moment Anders fell.
And stopped, feeling a rare sense of utter surprise fill him as he watched smoldering cracks open in Anders' skin.
His voice made Hadriana shiver beside Danarius when it reached them, "He is mine to kill!" Not the words - Danarius understood ownership, but the duality of them, one voice human, the other the distorted voice of something that had never been human.
"Abomination," Danarius murmured, wonderment warring with avarice in his heart. "My wolf has an abomination for a master."
He closed his fist and called, "Hold," again while he considered his next steps.
He watched in silence while Anders fought off the Qunari and roused Fenris, following them from a distance until they disappeared into Viscount's Keep, then he turned to Hadriana. "Come. Today is not the day and Fenris is not the only prize for us to take in this city. I have preparations to make."
An abomination. The things he could learn from an abomination... And when the time came, what Danarius would do with his blood would make Fenris' creation seem like a mage child's first attempt at calling light.