"I don't understand how you wear these clothes that are so….restricting," Isabela complained as she walked behind Hawke. The sultry pirate was fitted in a dress that not only covered her cleavage but her legs, and it was driving her to the brink of madness.
"I don't always wear them Isabela," Hawke stated as she moved through the crowd. "But you wanted to come so you have to look the part."
"Ugh," Isabela said fidgeting with the top of her blue and gold dress. "I can't wait to get out of here and tear my clothes off."
Hawke couldn't help but notice some reactions from the crowd they moved through. "Perhaps you could keep your voice down when speaking of undressing? We're supposed to be blending in, remember?"
Isabela didn't say another word as they headed towards the center market of Minrathous. The wealthier population would be here in the square, visiting all the merchant stalls and taking in the street entertainment. Back alleys consisted of refugees from wars with the Qunari in Seheron, and the large tower in the distance reminds them the mages are in charge in this city.
Hawke and Isabela had visited the city three days now in search of word on Danarius. Years of waiting for his return to Kirkwall grew on Fenris' nerves, so the decision was made to see what exactly his former master had been up to. Aveline joined them in their travels, working her way into the city guard for any information she could gather there. Fenris remained back at Alfora's house, a friend of Isabela that lived outside the city. It would be impossible for him to come along given his history of Danarius parading him around the city.
Inquiring about the magisters of the city seemed an impossible task. No one speaks of them in polite company, or behind closed doors. Townsfolk believe they can hear you and tend to run if you ask questions. Fenris advised them to mingle in the market, and no doubt they would hear something. Magisters always had something going on, and when they wanted an audience, the market was the first place they'd send their slaves to announce an event.
So Hawke and Isabela wandered, visiting merchants with overpriced garments, oils, fruits, and art. They spent little money on some gifts for friends back home while trying to blend in with the crowd. Boredom was settling in fast for Isabela however, who was not used to sitting around idle when there was a task at hand. "Are we just supposed to wait for some sign or something? Really Hawke this is growing tiresome by the minute."
Hawke sighed, starting to agree with Isabela. Her feet hurt from shoes that weren't her normal boots, and she missed the heaviness of leather on her body. She felt vulnerable here, as if someone would know who her lover was just by looking at her, and any second she would be taken away.
"Perhaps you're right," Hawke gave in. "We should try to find Aveline and see if she has any news that will help us."
As they were about to leave the market, a small elven boy came running up to them. "You can't leave before the show," he exclaimed nervously and handed them a piece of paper. "Come to the stadium and watch the wonder!"
He headed off to others in the crowd, handing out papers to those that looked more distinguished than others. Hawke shrugged at Isabela and read the announcement: Tournament of Skills to the Death! Bring Your Purses And Bet On The Winners! All proceeds go to the Children of the Circle of Magi. Sponsored by Magister Danarius.
Hawke handed the piece of paper to Isabela. "I guess it did just fall into our laps," she said as Isabela read over the piece of paper.
"Is this a joke? He's going to let people kill each other for money and claim it's for the children?"
"Shhh," Hawke said making sure no one heard her. "Inside voices for nasty comments, remember? We're in his town now."
~*~ ._.~`~._.*~*~*._.~`~._. ~*~
They followed the crowd to the stadium and found seats near the doors for a quick escape if necessary. Hundreds of people were piling into the small venue as Hawke scouted the crowds for any sign of danger. Isabela poked her in the rib and looked over her shoulder at a small box separated from the crowds. A tall man with gray hair and a bushy beard entered the box with two women on each arm. They both concluded that was Danarius based on descriptions Fenris had provided them. The women seemed to be fighting for his attention, each one whispering into his ear as he smiled, eyes glued to the pit below them waiting for the fights to begin.
"I'll be right back," Isabela said as she sprung from her seat and took off without giving Hawke a chance to stop her. Hawke cursed at her silently as the first fight began: two warriors sparring to the death. They started off promising, seemed an equal match, steel meeting steel as they went at each other. Neither one had landed a single blow, each skilled in defense as well as offense. It seemed the crowd was already getting restless that there was no blood shed, and they screamed loudly for bloodshed. Hawke looked around at the insanity of the situation, shaking her head that these people could be so savage.
When the crowd suddenly got so silent she could hear her own breath, Hawke followed their eyes to the box where Danarius stood. He smiled and lifted his arms, the crowd waiting in anticipation. Without warning magic shot through the air, two bolts of fire hitting each fighter in the pit. They both hit the ground from the power of the spell, and the crowd cheered.
Hawke could not believe her eyes, this man using magic in a crowd such as this just to get a rise out of these people! The fighters stumbled to make their way back on their feet and continued fighting. Apparently they knew the rules that Hawke was only learning - if you don't shed some blood, the sponsor will do it for you. Now they fought as their lives depended on it, fatigue and pain overwhelming them as they became sloppy. Finally the larger of the two got a clean shot to the mans side and sliced into him. Blood fell onto the pit floor and the crowd went wild.
Hawke held on to the rail in front of her for support, sickened by what she had just witnessed. But it wasn't over, as guards came and took the deceased fighter and the wounded fighter out of the pit, and two more entered, this time rogues. Hawke closed her eyes as she listened to the sound of daggers tear through flesh, wondering where Isabela was and how long she'd have to watch this gross display.
Isabela returned a few minutes later, and Hawke held back from punching her for leaving her alone. But the seriousness on Isabela's face soon erased any plans Hawke had for violence. "What is it," Hawke asked her friend.
"You should come with me," she said taking Hawke's hand and leading her out of the stands. The crowd was busy screaming at the death of another poor soul, and Hawke cringed at the thought of these people losing their lives for sport. Isabela led Hawke through some tunnel that appeared to be under the box Danarius was seated in. "Don't be mad," Isabela warned as she led Hawke into a small room.
Hawke braced herself for whatever trouble Isabela got herself into as she walked into the room. It was no larger than any closet back in her home in Kirkwall, and seated on the floor against the wall was a woman.
Hawke stared at her in disbelief. Her arms were bound behind her and she was naked. Her mouth was covered with blue and gold cloth, and it took a moment for Hawke to realize it was a part of Isabela's dress. "You did this to her?"
"Shh," Isabela said pointing towards the ceiling. "I did it to keep her quiet. We're getting her out of here."
The woman looked up at them with terror in her eyes. Hawke didn't know how to comfort her, what to say to her, as the shock of what she was hadn't quite settled into Hawke's brain yet.
She was Danarius' new pet. She had markings that matched Fenris', only they were red instead of blue. Her long hair wasn't white as his was though, it was blacker than anything Hawke had ever seen. Hawke moved closer towards her as she tried to disappear into the corner she was in. "We're not here to hurt you," Hawke tried to sooth her as the panic was still in her eyes. Hawke studied the markings that she could see on the naked woman's skin. They were blistered and raised, and Hawke gasped at the realization. "They're new," she said out loud to herself. "Isabela, how are we going to do this?"
"Easy," Isabela said grabbing a blanket that she had already found. "We cover her up and run while the crowds busy upstairs."
Hawke studied the frightened woman trying to find a spot on her she could touch to help her up without hurting her. "Can you run," she asked the slave.
The woman said nothing, only looked between the two women in fear.
"We don't have time Hawke," Isabela said grabbing the woman by the arm and forcing her to her feet. She put the blanket over her shoulders as the woman's cries were muffled by the cloth in her mouth. "I'm sorry, but we have to do it. Let's go."
Hawke didn't have a chance to think, Isabela was taking matters into her own hands so quickly that Hawke found herself reacting without thought. They escorted the woman out of the tunnels and through the market that was thankfully quiet because of the tournament. They moved as fast as they could through shadows, all the while the naked woman was close to hysterics.
~*~ ._.~`~._.*~*~*._.~`~._. ~*~
They made it back to Alfora's house within an hour, and they settled against a tree outside to catch their breath before going inside. The slave remained quiet now, shivering from the cold and possibly a fever Hawke thought. Isabela went inside to get Fenris as Hawke remained with her and untied her. She didn't try to run, instead she continued to sit on the ground staring at the fallen leaves. When Isabela returned with Fenris he took one look at the slave and his eyes narrowed at Hawke. "Hawke," he said in a low voice of disbelief and anger. "What have you done?"