The Candy Incident

CONTENT:

Rating: Teen

Flavor: Humor

Language: some

Violence: a little scuffling

Nudity: artwork

Sex: none

Other: none

Author's Notes:

Welcome to Chapter 3 of Bannon & Zevran: Origins, entitled Partners in Crime. If you just came in here, be advised that the saga starts in Bannon & Zevran: Bk I Origins: Prelude, and continues through Chapter 1: The Grey Wardens and 2: A Wolf in the Fold.

This segment was previously released as a teaser on the Bioware boards. This version contains more content. Enjoy it all over again! (Or for the first time.) (Note: The forum and WordPress versions of this chapter have illustrations. See my bio for links.)

As a reminder, I've made Sten the 'new' grey, horned type of qunari. Just to avoid the whole mess of clashing canon.


The Candy Incident

===#===

Those of the elven race make ideal slaves. They can subsist on very little food while making up for it in more hours of sleep. Therefore, it is recommended their rations be halved during the fallow season.

Food will never be wasted on elven slaves, for they do not run to fat. Instead, all they eat will be converted into energy. A small ration of rich or sugary food will go a long way to producing longer work hours from an elf.

- Tevinter Treatise on the Races of Thedas

Some elves from the city have an over-developed sweet tooth. Note: giving sugar to a city elf may be hazardous to your health. - BG

(A note scribbled in the margin)

===#===

Wynne got to know her new companions a little better on the road that afternoon. She first tried to talk to the qunari, whom she hadn't met in the Tower. He hadn't been with the Wardens when they'd fought the demons and Uldred. She didn't often get to see the tall, grey, horned race; certainly not up close. She greeted him politely enough, but his stony face creased in a snarl. "Do not come near me, beast," he growled. He turned away. "Why must we bring these uncollared saarebas with us?"

The elf Warden, Bannon, was there to handle the qunari's question. "Sten, what do you do with your sarry-basses when there's a battle?"

The giant grumbled something incoherent.

"Mages are good in a fight. And we're going to be doing what?" The elf waited for a reply, like a teacher with a particularly slow student. Sten just glowered. "Fighting a lot of darkspawn," Bannon finished. "And Wynne is a healer. So if you plan on getting shot full of crossbow bolts again, you might want to be nice to her."

"Vashedan!" the giant spit. He brushed past the elf and strode up the road, looking as if he planned to leave them all behind.

Bannon didn't seem to care. He smiled apologetically at Wynne. "Sorry about that. Though maybe you don't want to talk to him."

"I suppose not," she agreed.

Alistair came up beside her. "Have you got everything?" he asked for the thirtieth time at least. "Do you need me to carry your pack?"

"Honestly, Alistair; I'm fine. I'm quite the accomplished traveler." Wynne settled her pack, gripped her staff, and started out. It was good to be outside the Tower walls again.

The young man turned to Bannon a moment. "You really ought to rethink this strategy of annoying Sten."

"I'm not annoying him. He wants to follow his logic, he's going to get logic."

"Still, maybe a peace offering of some cookies or sweets would go a long way."

The blond elf called to Bannon. He had a flavorful accent; Wynne wondered where he was from. Bannon went off and started arguing with him, up ahead. Alistair fell in beside Wynne. The young woman, Leliana, was a few steps behind them, but that other woman, the dark-haired one, seemed to be absent.

"Have you done much traveling?" Alistair asked Wynne.

"Yes, I have. I've spent some time in Amaranthine and Denerim."

"I'm from Redcliffe."

"Ah, you are a local boy, then," Wynne said with a smile.

"Yes, mum."

"Oh, there's no need for that. It's just Wynne. No need for 'ser' and 'mum' out on the road, is there?"

"I guess not, mum. Er, I mean, Wynne."

She chuckled. "You remind me of the Templars."

"I was in Templar training," he said. "Before I was recruited into the Wardens. I didn't really become a full Templar," he was quick to explain. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. Really, I'm just... mostly harmless."

"You don't make me uncomfortable. Really, Alistair. I've known a fair share of good Templars in my life."

"Oh."

Wynne got the feeling there was a whole lot behind that little syllable, but didn't think now was the time to pursue it. Alistair seemed uncomfortable enough. "I'm curious about the other Grey Wardens," she said. "Where are they? Off securing your other allies?"

"Uh... we're... it, actually," he replied uncomfortably.

"What do you mean?"

He took a breath. "The Grey Wardens died at Ostagar. All of them. Except me and Bannon. Us two." Then his words started to tumble out. "We weren't in the actual battle. Just put aside, out of the way. We... actually, we would be dead now, too, except... Um, well, I'm not sure really. I was told that Flemeth turned into a giant bird and rescued us."

"Flemeth?"

"That's Morrigan's mother."

"Like the woman in the legends?"

"Hmmm..." Alistair thought a few moments. "Actually, it might be her? I don't know, is it possible for a witch to live that long? Extend her life, somehow?"

Wynne contemplated it. Before she could form an opinion, there was a scuffle up ahead.

The two elves raised their voices, arguing about something. A moment later, it turned to fisticuffs. They careened back and forth across the path, flailing.

"Oh, knock it off!" Alistair called. He went ahead to pull the two apart. "Shouldn't you guys be scouting ahead?"

"I thought Morrigan was doing that," Bannon said.

"Sten is doing that," Zevran said almost at the same time.

"Maybe you should go far, far, far ahead," Alistair insisted. By this time, Wynne and Leliana had caught up with them, so the elves had to get moving again, grumbling and complaining all the while.

Alistair fell back beside the women again. To Leliana, he said, "Next time, it's your turn."

"My turn? Alistair, I thought you were the appointed elven babysitter."

"Oh-ho no! You are not sticking me with that job."

"Surely your chivalry and valor will not allow you to dump this sort of job on a young, virtuous Chantry Sister?"

"I... well... you..." Alistair frowned. "That's cheating."

"Surely you exaggerate," Wynne said. "They're two grown men."

"Oh, are they?" Alistair quipped. "I couldn't tell." Leliana laughed.

Wynne shook her head. Then she recalled their argument about pie, back in the Tower. That was only the beginning of her doubts. But she'd learn, soon enough.

===#===

They caught up with a dwarven trader and his son as eventide was nearing. Wynne was introduced to Bodahn and Sandahl (and Toby!). She learned that he usually followed the Grey Warden group on their travels and shared their camp at night. Alistair fetched some tents from the donkey cart. Wynne recalled Bannon talking about trying to procure one of their own, and she quickly saw the wisdom in that. Not only did the merchant provide a tent that she didn't have to carry, but he also gave her a folding cot that fit in it. Although 'gave' wasn't the exact term. Bannon was apparently renting gear from the dwarf. She recalled him mentioning that he handled the group's money.

Better him than her. She wasn't that well-versed in current prices and the value of a coin. She was simply happy to have a cozy tent, a cot, a stool, a crate that doubled as a shelf and a small table, and an oil lamp. Alistair and Leliana helped get her set up, then started erecting the other tents. Morrigan was already there at the campsite when they'd arrived. She had her own tent set up in a corner of the clearing. The elves were setting up a fire, and Wynne waited nearby to see if she could help with the dinner preparations.

===#===

"Hey!" Bannon stomped over to Zevran and swiped a bag out of his hand. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Eating," the Antivan said with his mouth full.

With an angry frown, Bannon peered into the bag. "How many of these did you eat?"

"Not quite a whole dozen," the other elf replied. He chewed a bit more, swallowed, then made a swipe at the bag.

Bannon jerked it out of his reach. "Oh, that's it! You are standing watch tonight!"

Alistair came over from where he and Leliana had been getting their tents set up. "He can't stand watch," the Templar said nervously. "Not by himself! What if he decides to finally kill us?"

"He ate half this bag of candy-"

"-Barely one third!-"

"Do you have any idea what that much sugar does to an elf?" Bannon finished, ignoring the Antivan, and shaking the bag meaningfully at Alistair.

"Uh... he'll get a tummy-ache?" the human guessed.

"We should be so lucky!" Bannon threw his hands up in a frustrated gesture. "He'll be awake for three days straight!"

Over by the fire, Wynne gave Leliana a worried look. "What's going on? Why would that young man kill you?"

"Zevran is a Crow Assassin," the Chantry sister explained calmly. "He was hired to kill the Grey Wardens."

"But he's here, now?" Wynne turned to look at the elves, her brow creased in puzzlement.

"That is a long story. I can tell it to you while we prepare the stew, yes?" Leliana went to fetch some carrots and a leg of mutton from their stores. Wynne followed hesitantly, stepping backwards as she watched the drama unfolding between the two elves and the Templar.

Zevran's ears perked up at the mention of food. "Dinner? Splendid!" He turned to offer his assistance- but Bannon collared him.

"Not a chance!"

"But a handful of candy is not a proper meal! My mother used to tell me so all the time!" He yanked himself free from Bannon's grip.

The Denerim elf growled. "First my pie, now my candy! That's for emergencies!"

"Your pie?" the assassin sputtered. "It was everybody's pie! We share, do we not?"

"You were supposed to have one piece of pie. And I did not say you could 'share' my candy!"

Alistair threw his hands up in surrender and walked over to give the women a hand. Sten just watched stoically from his post guarding the path to the campsite. Leliana gave Alistair the meat, and he busied himself shredding bits of it into the stewpot. She handed Wynne a basket of peas for shelling, and she herself set about cutting up some carrots and a turnip.

The bard then began to relate the tale. "You recall that Loghain retreated at Ostagar, leaving the King and all the Grey Wardens to be slain by the darkspawn."

"Yes," Wynne said quietly. "I was there. But the mages were evacuated before the troops pulled out."

"More of Loghain's machinations, no doubt," Alistair growled bitterly.

Wynne looked up with a curious tilt to her head. Leliana stepped in to explain. "It is Alistair's belief that Loghain planned this desertion, and is a traitor to his King and country."

The mage's jaw dropped in shock. "But why? Why would he do such a thing?"

"Well, he has claimed power in Ferelden, yes?" Leliana explained, her voice ever calm and soothing, like a cool stream. "Whether he planned to usurp this power or not, the fact remains he has benefited from the King's death. It is also true, as told to us by Zevran himself, that Loghain and a man named Rendon Howe hired the Crow Assassins to finish off any surviving Grey Wardens."

"That makes no sense!" Wynne insisted.

The bard paused in her cutting to meet Wynne's eyes with her own frank, blue-grey gaze. "Perhaps not to us, who believe this is a true Blight. But many folk believe in Loghain and follow him." She returned to her cutting, and her story, ignoring the raised voices of the arguing elves a few feet away. "Zevran ambushed us on the road outside of Redcliffe. We fought him and his mercenaries, and we had thought Alistair and Bannon had killed him. However, it turns out he was only knocked unconscious. When we were interrogating him, he explained how he was a slave to the Crows and wished to join us in order to be free of them."

Wynne twisted her head again to look in the elves' direction. "And you believed him?" she asked incredulously.

"Not even Alistair is that stupid," Morrigan supplied, carrying up another cut tree stump to serve as a stool near the fire. She handed Leliana a few small packets of spices, and the bard added them to the stew.

"No one in their right mind would believe such a story," Leliana said smoothly, "coming from an assassin hired to kill them, who was in imminent danger of losing his own life. But freeing someone from slavery, that is a deed blessed by the great Andraste herself, yes?"

Just then the two elves came up to the campfire. Zevran was saying, "After all this time, you still do not trust me?"

"One week!" Bannon interrupted. "It's been one week!"

"Six days, actually."

"Six and a half!" the Denerim elf conceded.

"Am I not part of your group? Have I not proven myself?" the assassin insisted, spreading his hands, his brows raised in disbelief at this unfair treatment. "After all this, do I not deserve the same status and consideration as anyone else here?" He looked around, beseeching the others to see his side. They looked skeptical. "Well, Sten there trusts me. Do you not, Sten?"

"No."

The assassin let his hands drop to slap against his legs in defeat. Bannon went around to the supplies and pulled out the spade. "Here," he said, handing it to the fuming Antivan. "Go do your job, Ser I-want-to-be-a-part-of-the-team."

"My job!? How is this my job, yet again?" Zevran's voice spiraled up in outraged disbelief. "Surely it is someone else's turn!"

"It's your turn."

"How do you figure that?"

"Because I said so!"

Stubbornly, Zevran folded his arms, tucking the spade under one bicep. "And who put you in charge?"

"Alistair!" Bannon yelled, gesturing at the Templar.

The Antivan rolled his eyes over to the indicated Warden. He gave a sniff of disdain. "Well, who died and made you King of Ferelden?"

Suddenly, almost all the noise in the camp stopped. Only the fire crackled quietly, and Wynne stopped shucking peas a moment later, looking up at everyone else. They stared at Zevran. Alistair's face slowly fell, like a great mountainside succumbing to an avalanche. Without a word, he tossed down the shank of mutton, stood, and walked off.

"What?" Zevran looked around, bewildered. "What did I say?" The only answer he got was a reproving look from Leliana. He shrugged back at her.

Bannon shook his head. "Just go dig the latrines!" He went off after Alistair.

"Fine, fine," the assassin grumbled. He walked off in the other direction.

Wynne looked at Leliana. "What was that all about?"

"That's another story, entirely." Leliana tipped her cutting board over the pot and carefully shoved the cut carrots into the stew. "So far," she said, returning to her original thread, "Zevran seems sincere in his pledge to aid us. He has given no indication he wishes to do otherwise."

"Just like the viper that wants to ride in your coat while it's cold out," Morrigan said. "Then bites you when you get it to where it needs to go." She shot a glance towards the object of conversation, then got to her feet with a huff of irritation. "Not there!" she yelled, striding towards the elf digging with the spade. "That's much too close to the camp."

The Antivan pitched a spadeful of dirt viciously at the ground. "You want me to go further away, witch?" he snapped. "See if I come back!" He turned and stalked off further.

Wynne winced. "Do I want to ask about that, or is this another story for later?"

"Morrigan styles herself a Witch of the Wilds, like her mother before her." Leliana began paring a large turnip with her knife, without the slightest bit of concern. Wynne, however, looked at her with alarm.

"I am an apostate, as you so quaintly call it," Morrigan said, returning to their company. She gave Wynne a scathing golden glare. "All you need concern yourself with, Circle Mage," - she sneered the title- "is that I, too, am here aiding the Grey Wardens. And believe me, they can't be picky about the company they keep."

Wynne turned yet again to look towards the departed Crow assassin. "I see what you mean," she said. Shaking her head, she scooped up the shelled peas and handed them into the stewpot. She moved around to Alistair's vacated spot and saw to rescuing the mutton from the dirt.

The former Templar came back into earshot, walking with Bannon. He seemed recovered from whatever had shocked him, though his demeanor was much subdued. "Well," he was telling the elf, "eat the rest of the candy. You said you'd watch him."

Bannon groaned. "All right, but after some real dinner first." He sank down onto one of the stumps.

"Oh, here," Alistair said, hurrying to assist Wynne. "Let me get that. Sorry about that."

"It's all right," the mage said gently. They fussed a minute over the discarded meat. They got the salvageable bits into the stewpot along with the turnip slices from Leliana. The bard took up the long spoon and stirred.

As Wynne settled back into her spot, Bannon asked her, "How is everything? Settling in okay?"

"Oh yes," she said with a smile. "I feel like the little girl in the story, who's gone amongst mad people." Bannon and Leliana chuckled, and Alistair even cracked a grin. "Don't worry," she assured them; "I love that story."

"Do I want to ask where Zevran went?" the elf said.

Morrigan replied, "I told him to go dig the latrines further afield, and he threatened to run off."

"We should be so lucky," Bannon muttered.

"Are you seriously going to stay awake all night?" Wynne asked him.

He nodded. "It's an elf thing."

"And you won't be tired in the morning?" Alistair added.

"Nope."

"Man, I wish I could do that." He got a speculative look on his face. "Do you think if I ate half that candy, that I cou-"

"Not a chance!" Bannon's hands shot protectively to the pouch containing the precious candy.

"Well, I could try," the Templar grumbled underbreath.

"Get your own candy," the elf growled back.

===#===

The assassin did return. Alas. He whined so badly about being hungry, Bannon gave him half his stew. The Denerim elf finished his meal by munching on the rest of the candy, shooting the Antivan dirty looks all the while. Zevran, for his part, didn't seem to mind.

"Just leave the dishes and the pot," Bannon told the others. "We'll take care of cleaning up."

Alistair grinned. "Bonus!"

Zevran frowned at his patron. "What do you mean? We have to do work?"

"I don't want to be bored out of my skull all night," Bannon growled back at him. "We need something to do."

The Antivan smiled dreamily. "I can think of a great many things to do with a handsome fellow such as yourself."

Bannon shared an uneasy glance with Alistair. Then he said firmly, "I like girls."

"I like girls, too," the irrepressible assassin retorted. "Do you see any volunteering to stay awake and entertain us?" He fanned his hand towards the women. Morrigan rolled her eyes. Leliana was used to the lewdness and didn't even bat an eyelash. Wynne had that look again, like she had landed amongst mad people. Zevran grinned wickedly at her, mainly because the other two were learning to ignore him.

Bannon put a hand to his face, slowly drawing his fingers down. "This is going to be a long night..."

Chores didn't really last that long. They washed the dishes and the stewpot. They swept and raked around the camp. Soon the others settled into their tents for the night, save for Sten, who eschewed a tent for sleeping under a tree. The two elves went for a patrol around the camp perimeter. Now that they were finally alone, and before the talkative Antivan could dominate the conversation, Bannon said, "Hey, I wanted to ask you something about that dream."

"Ah, of course," Zevran said, his expression souring. "I was wondering when this would come up."

So he'd been thinking about it. And, Bannon mused, he remembered the Fade dream well enough, though the others- and even Bannon himself- claimed it was all hazy and mostly-forgotten. Bannon opened his mouth to reassure the assassin, but closed it quickly as Zevran continued without prompting.

"What you saw, yes, was more or less what it was really like in the Crows." Bannon held his breath. He never expected Zevran to just tell him the truth. Looking at the ground before their feet, Zevran continued. "When they raised me to the status of apprentice, I had to pass a test. A test of endurance, if you will." He casually flipped one hand up and spoke as if explaining nothing more than the proper way to tend a garden. "The Crow apprentices are broken. Twice, actually. The first time is to make sure you are tough enough to become a full Crow. They see how much it takes to break you. The weak, they die in those dungeons." His voice carried the venom of scorn in it. "As for me, I endured several days." Now his voice rose with the usual self-aggrandizement. "I don't recall exactly how long- it was of course difficult to keep track, especially when unconscious- but it is the longest that any apprentice survived without breaking."

Bannon saw a particular flaw in the concept of this 'test.' Wouldn't the weak ones break sooner, and thus survive? It would be the strongest that held out until they died. He dared not voice this to the assassin. "The second time?" he murmured, his curiosity getting the better of him. He didn't expect Zevran to answer this either, so he got another shock.

"Oh, the second time, the Crow Master breaks you to his will, so that you become completely and utterly obedient to him," Zevran said offhandedly.

Bannon didn't know what to say to that. Zevran sounded like he just didn't care, as if it were nothing. Bannon only felt anger. If some stinking shem 'Master' ever tortured him, he'd... well, he'd never be a loyal and obedient slave, that's for sure. Or maybe... maybe he wouldn't have a choice in the matter. Tortured until he pledged his loyalty and obedience? Broken until he meant it? And Zevran had survived that.

"Did that answer your question?" the Antivan asked lightly.

Bannon took a breath and imitated his blase' attitude. "Actually, I was going to ask you about those two elves. There are Dalish in the Crows?"

Zevran laughed. "No, no, my friend. Some of the elves get tattoos on their faces. They wish to look scarier to the shems."

"That's illegal in Ferelden."

"It's illegal in Antiva, too, but," he grinned with a wide, open-handed shrug; "we are assassins. What do we care for laws, eh? Now my tattoo, that is different. Not something to mark up and hide my most handsome face, but something with a rakish air, something alluring, a subtle accent."

"Really?" said Bannon. "I thought your Crow buddies got you drunk one night and took you to get it while you were passed out. But then, halfway through, you woke up and ran away screaming."

"What?" Zevran glared at him, taking affront at his smirk. "Why you!" He aimed a punch at Bannon's head, but the thief ducked and danced back. "I'll have you know," the assassin told him, "that there are many lurid and exciting tales of how I got this tattoo, and that is not one of them!"

"Probably because it's the only true one," Bannon quipped back. He fled.

Zevran growled and ran after him with murder in his eyes. Bannon stopped and turned suddenly, a finger to his lips. "Shh!" He tilted his head towards the sleeping giant, only a few feet away.

Zevran mouthed imprecations as they tiptoed past. Then he whispered, "I will get you back for that."

"Not tonight," the thief whispered back.

"Not on this side of the camp," the assassin clarified. "If there is to be no fighting, and no sex, then what, precisely do you propose we do? The night is still young."

"Oh, we'll think of something."

===#===

First Hour:

"Are you alive or dead?" asked Zevran.

"Dead."

"Are you sexy?"

Bannon frowned. "I don't know!"

"How can you not know!? If you don't know, you can't pick that person!"

"Oh, fine! Considering it's you who's asking... yes!"

"Are you Andraste?" Zevran's face lit up in triumph. "Hah! You are Andraste!"

"No I'm not!

"People are always Andraste. Wait... do I know you?"

"No."

"Then how am I supposed to guess!?"

===#===

Second Hour:

They crept over to Bodhan's wagon. Bannon crouched low and popped the lock on a chest on the ground by the wheel. Zevran hovered close by, watching his technique. "Don't you have a key for that?"

"What for? It'll only get lost."

"Oh."

Bannon opened the chest and set about sorting the accumulated stuff inside. Zevran's ears perked up as he heard a familiar thick clink of glass. "You have liquor stashed in here?"

"Yeah- oh no! That's for emergency purposes!"

Zevran snorted. "You and your 'emergency purposes.' This is an emergency, is it not?"

"I don't see how-"

"Look," the assassin explained reasonably, "if we get drunk and pass out, then we will be asleep, no? Our problem will be solved!"

Bannon frowned in thought a minute. "That... actually makes sense," he said hesitantly. "Why do I think it's a bad idea?" This last bit was wasted, because Zevran had already nabbed a bottle out of the stash and run off with it.

===#===

Third Hour:

The sounds of elven two-part harmony drifted through the night:

Through the forest wild and free

Comes our Dalish melody!

Ever dancing as they say

None so merry and none so gay...!

===#===

Fourth Hour:

The full, epic length rendition of all twelve verses of the dirty limerick "There Once Was a Man from Orlais."

===#===

Fifth Hour and Beyond:

Things after that got a little fuzzy. However, much to the relief of the rest of the companions, they were at least quiet.

===#===

Morning light was done filtering through the trees; it had its heart set on piercing the tent walls with light. Alistair groaned and finally had to surrender. It was time to get up. Groggily, he climbed out of his tent and looked around. He half expected the camp to look as if a tornado had blasted through, but it actually looked neater than any camp had a right to look. He spotted Bannon and Zevran sitting near the banked fire, hunched intently over a hand of cards. Cautiously, he moved away from his tent. His foot clanked against - he looked down - his helm? Wait, why were pieces of his armor lying near the fire?

"Hey, why is my armor out here?" He picked up the helm and turned it over in his hands. "Gah! And why is there a hideous clown face painted on my helmet?"

"That was for the puppet show," Bannon answered mildly. "Do you have any threes?"

"Go fish," the assassin told him.

Alistair muttered and rubbed the helm with one corner of his shirt. "Puppet show," he muttered. At least the makeup came off easily.

"Do you have any threes?" Zevran asked Bannon.

"No. Go fish."

With a muttered Antivan curse, Zevran drew a card from the pile between them.

Alistair glanced over towards the path that returned to the main road. Sten, as usual, was patrolling there impatiently. Looking in the other direction, Alistair saw Leliana in front of her tent, getting ready to make breakfast. Behind her, on the tent, was a large cartoon drawing of her. It was actually quite good. Then Leliana bent to pick up something, and more of the drawing was revealed- the absolutely nude drawing. "Gah!" Alistair gaped like a stunned fish.

With a quizzical wrinkle in her brow, Leliana stood and turned to see what he was staring at. "Oh my!" She tilted her head, appraising it for a minute or two. "That's very artistic," she said generously. She turned back around to the two elves. "Which one of you drew that?"

"I did," said Bannon with a proud smile. The effect was somewhat marred by the fact he had on pink lipstick and green eyeshadow. Not to mention the word 'LOSER' written across his forehead. "Do you have any threes?"

"Go fish." Zevran, for his part, had on red lipstick, blush, and gold eye shadow. Across his forehead was the word 'AWEZOME.' "I did the one of you, Alistair."

Alistair opened his mouth to say something, but then realized what the Antivan had just said. He turned around. "Oh! Um..." He gulped at the stick figure. It could have been worse. "That's... not bad. But if I'm brandishing my sword over my head, how do I have a red sword in my other hand?"

"That's not your sword. Do you have any threes?"

"Mn mm. Go fish."

Alistair's brow twisted up into a full question mark shape. He tipped his head sideways, peering intently at the stick figure. "Not my...? OH!" His eyes popped open wide. It was worse! "Striking tent! Right now!" He ran forward, discarding his armor, and started yanking at the tent pegs and guy lines, trying to collapse his tent and the 'glorified' Templar drawing on it, even though all his stuff was still inside.

Leliana approached the elves. "Where did you get tha- my makeup kit!" She quickly knelt before the pilfered makeup to make sure it was all there.

Wynne walked over from her tent. "What on Thedas is painted on my tent?" she demanded.

Zevran said, "It is a picture of you smacking a hurlock over the head with your cane. Er- staff! I meant staff!"

The older woman scowled at him. "Why were you painting graffiti on people's tents?"

Bannon answered that one. "Well, we put everyone's name on their tent, but you couldn't really read it from that far away, so..." His explanation sort of petered out under her withering glare. "It seemed like a good idea at the time?"

Leliana looked over at the elves' tents. There were drawings on the front, but these were scribbled over viciously. They seemed to be elven stick figures, and the brown-haired one's comparative anatomy was conspicuously smaller than the blond-haired one's. The rest of the canvas of both tents were covered with a variety of blond and brunette elf stick figures killing each other in imaginative and gory ways.

Wynne came to a stop beside her, viewing the carnage. She gave an annoyed huff. Then she rounded on the elves. "Where did you get these paints?"

"Oh, we improvised," Bannon said. "We, um, were sorting our supplies."

"They're not permanent, are they?" Alistair asked, returning from his mission to dismantle the artwork on his tent.

"No," Zevran said. "At least, not most of them."

"That's good, at least." Alistair hoped. "Zevran, why do you have the word 'AWESOME' written across your face, with a backwards S?"

"Because I am ridiculously awesome!" he beamed proudly.

Bannon snorted. Leliana said to him, "Do you know you have the world 'LOSER' written across your forehead?"

"What? Oh!" The elf rubbed at his forehead.

Leliana shook her head. "No, it's still there."

"Wh-!?" He glared at the Antivan. "You used the stuff that stains on my face!?" He threw down his cards without waiting for an answer, and sprang on the other elf. The two went down in a heap, thrashing in the dirt. Leliana and Wynne had to jump back to avoid being bowled over.

"Alistair!" Leliana cried after a moment, when the Templar didn't immediately wade in to separate the two.

"What? I think they need a good thrashing, this time."

The Chantry Sister glared at him, so with a put-upon sigh, Alistair went to haul Bannon off the assassin. He didn't get that far, however, before a voice rolled like thunder over the whole camp: "Just Who Painted A Pornographic Picture On My Tent!?" Everyone froze as Morrigan stalked over. The two elves scrambled to their feet. Bannon pointed at Zevran.

"It's not pornographic," the Antivan began. "It is an artistic rendering-"

"It's a picture of TWO GIANT BOOBS!" the witch roared.

Wynne rounded on them. "That's it! No more candy for you two!"

Bannon gaped at her. "But Wyyyyyynnnne! He started it!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"Enough!" Wynne yelled. "Now go wash that stuff off Morrigan's tent this instant. Both of you! And then clean up Alistair's armor and give Leliana her makeup kit back!"

"But he did it," Bannon insisted.

"And you can both dig new latrines!" Wynne was in fine form now. Alistair gave her a look that was half admiring and half fearful.

"We did that already," Zevran said.

"Yeah, we were kinda bored," Bannon added.

Wynne pressed a hand to her forehead. "Maker's Mercy, I'm too old for this!"

===X===