You have grown up alongside the princes, being a daughter of a noble member of Odin’s court, and has managed to catch the attention of both sons. When you are older, it is declared by Odin that whoever ascends to Asgard’s throne will have you as their wife and bear many heirs. This crushes both you and Loki, whom are courting in secret, as Thor is naturally the first in line.
Auma swallowed hard. She picked up the delicate object, both finely polished crystal lenses smashed. “Father Abbot’s glasses. Look, Martin.”
Blood rose in the Warriormouse’s eyes. Raging and roaring, he tried to tug free of Skipper and Auma, straining to climb over the battlements at his foe. “Touch one hair of their heads and I will slay you, scalescum! You and all your rabble, I will send you to Hellgates!”
Lask had never seen such ferocity in any creature. He realized that Romsca’s warning had not been an idle one: these Redwallers did indeed have warrior blood in their veins. [….]
Auma held Martin tight. He was still struggling, tears of helpless rage flowing openly down his cheeks, and she had to exert all her strength to hold him.
“Skipper let’s get him back down into the gatehouse,” she said. “We need to think this out calmly. Grab his footpaws, he has the power and wildness of a badger Lord. I’ve never seen Martin like this!”
- excerpt from the end of Chapter 18 of Pearls of Lutra
I’ve never fully gotten over the fact that Bloodwrath is an affliction. Bloodwrath isn’t something you want; it’s not dignified, nor is it intuitively helpful to the one who has it. Bloodwrath makes you forget who you are, where you are, and who your friends and allies are. Your energy becomes focused on one thing: the object of your rage. You become a danger to yourself and to those you mean to protect. Bloodwrath turns you into a beast of fury, one that champs at the bit, cursing and foaming at everything around you. Even your friends are taken aback by the change that comes over you. You become one worthy of fear.
Reacting to nobles talking shit about the wuizzy at halamshiral?
Cassandra: The first time she hears the Orlesians whispering behind their fans about the Inquisitor she is, just for a moment, no longer in Halamshiral. She is standing behind a curtain in Nevarra City, suddenly nine years old again and listening to the nobles talk about how she is too masculine and too blocky and how they don’t understand why Markus let the children of traitors live. And she wants to walk up to the Orlesians and shake them until their teeth rattle in their heads. Don’t they understand what is at stake? Don’t they see that the inquisitor is their only hope to stop Corypheus from destroying everything? She manages to restrain herself simply to glares and resolves to talk to Lelianna about the political advantages of challanging foppish lords to duels.
Solas: It would be a lie to say that he was not thrilled to be back amongst the denizens of court- for all that Halamshiral and its ‘nobles’ lacked even the shadow of Arlathan’s glory- and the moment he hears the quite (or not so quiet) whisperings he is so tempted to speak. A thousand years of practice amongst far more dangerous opponents than them has sharpened his tongue to a lethal lash, but he restrains himself. They would not receive such castigations well from a ‘rabbit’, and there are in Orlais with a greater purpose in mind. Still he takes delight in imagining the looks on their faces if he really did cut them off at the knees and resolves to speak with Josephine later on helping pen political replies to certain Orlesians.
Varric: He’s got a gaggle of admirers within moments of arriving, but even through their exciting murmurs he still hears the muttering. He is nowhere near as close to the Inquisitor as he was to Hawke, but he does remember how his friend was often greeted the same way in Hightown before becoming in champion. It annoys him- particularly if the Inquisitor is not human- and within moments he is spinning incredible stories of the Inquisitors prowess either in battle or in diplomatic affairs. Its hyperbole, of course, but halfway through the night the same nobles who were disdaining the Inquisitor are now shooting them anxious glances and the story teller considers his work well done.
Sera: One could argue that bringing Sera to Halamshiral is not the most politically savvy decision, but once she gets there the fireworks are more than worth it. Before the nobles who are smearing the Inquisitor have a chance to finish their conversation the Red Jenny is already plotting. Its not hard to recruit a few of the elven servants who are not bleeding out in the kitchen gardens, and halfway through the night a very select group of nobles have ben pranked or otherwise inconveinenced enough that their time for gossip has been traded in for private chances to scrub custard of off delicate masks.
Vivienne: Oh she lives for this. THe Grand Enchanter has been in Skyhold for too long, and there is nothing like verbal sparring to keep ones wits sharp. By the time she is finished the nobles in question are looking rather like they wish the floor would swallow them, and the rest of the masquerade’s guests are abuzz over how the inquisitor managed to tempt Madame de Fer to their cause. All in all a very pleasant evening.
Iron Bull: The temptation is there, just for a brief moment, to pick the nobles in question up by the back of the neks and shake them like a terrior with a rat. But that would be unsatisfying as well as unhelpful, so instead he turns Ben-Hassrath trained eyes onto them. Masks might hide facial expressions but body langauge is harder to conceal, and the champaign which flows like water is not hlping in the slightest. By the end of the evening he has a stack of reports to write up for Lelianna. And if- in the chaos of whatever ended up happening with Florianne- one of the worst offenders ended up being knocked into a table holding wine, well. The tide rises, the nobles fall.
Dorian: And to think he was starting to feel homesick. Dorian has heard most of his life- from Felix and from persons he met on his own travels- that there was no court more cunning than Orlais, but in truth he’s been to mid week soirees in Minrathous that were more dangerous than this. And that was before the blood magic. But when the gossip begins he finds his enjoyment abruptly severed. They are here for a noble purpose, and Andraste strike him down if he was going to allow them to jeopardize them. A glass of wine held in an idle grip- and a whispered conference with a certain Qunari that he is quite fond of- nets him the information he needs to be both invited into their inner circle and to have more than one of them paling behind their masks as the Tevinter pariah uses 'blood magic’ to divine their darkest secrets.
Blackwall: He used to crave this, and that alone is enough to make him ill. If he were not so afraid that someone here might recognie him as Thom Rainier- or worse may have known the real Gordon Blackwall- he would have played their game against them enough to have them speechless for a year. As it is he’s stuck on one of the balconies, trying to head off eager nobles who want to ask about the Hero of Ferelden and trying to think of the best way to accidently throw a noble or three into the ornamental lake.
Cole: “Whispers, rumors, fears hidden deep and covered with fake cheer. Make it foolish and it cant hurt you, say something to hide knowing nothing. But the mask is the lie and the lie is on their face, and not knowing makes the fear deeper.”
“In my defense, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time." for theo/mori <3
Thanks! Ahhhhh this got long.
Warden Comp. AU | post-Adamant, pre-Halamshiral | Theodore’s a GW y'all
“In my defense,” Theodore said, sounding like his ribcage was being squeezed, “this seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.”
Mordred squinted at him. Then he squinted at the six, seven ladies bustling around him with their needles and their pins whispering sharply at each other as they added an ever-growing array of colored fabrics and patterned miseries onto Theodore’s sturdy frame.
Then he did the wise thing and took a step back, towards the door.
Too late. Madame de Valles had seen him. Like a vulture sensing the last breath of a prey, she swooped at Mordred from a corner of the room, grabbed him by the shoulder, and yanked him forward with a painted, false-pleasant smile. “There you are! I thought you would never show,” she gushed. “I have a little something I would love to see on you–”
“No thanks,” Mordred cut her off and sidled away; frowned when her hand refused to let his shoulder go. He gave it a violent wrench to get away, glared at de Valles, and sidestepped her tsk-ing attempt to get him back under control. To Theodore, “What’re you doing? We have a meeting in a-fucking-hour.”
“Conned into this,” Theodore wheezed. “Ambushed. Hauled off.”
“I thought us Orlesians are supposed to be the theatrical ones,” one of Madame de Valles’ ladies remarked wryly. She was an elven girl, slight and curly-haired, and when she bent over and jabbed a pin into Theodore he winced.
“Well can you un-ambush him,” Mordred waved helpless vague hands at the caricature on a stool they’d turned his friend into, trying not to let his nerves jump at the same time as he sensed de Valles’s prowling behind him, “so I can haul him off somewhere else? What even’s that supposed to be?”
“The clothes I will be buried in, ostensibly,” Theodore replied with a roll of his eyes. “They shall crush my lungs with this– this corset, then cart me into Val Royeaux for display, then hang me on Halamshiral’s outer wall as a Yuletide ornament.”
“What a fatalistic sense of humor you have. Perhaps we should have gone with the jester looks after all,” another blond-haired maid said casually.
Mordred bit back the bubbling abrasive reply in his throat and swept the room with a glance instead. Madame de Valles was sifting through something in one of the chests on the side, and the sight of it alone made him anxious. He didn’t take well to even the possibility of being dragged around and put into things, and de Valles was sure to try – even if Mordred had suffered this routine once.
“All right, that’s enough, ladies,” Theodore said from his stool. “I need to go before Commander Surana says something that will wound your prick-happy, merciless hearts.”
“You are going nowhere,” de Valles said.
“He is going now,” Mordred answered, and let the words ring sharp. He went back to the door and yanked it open, glowering over his shoulder. “Ten minutes. Get that off him; he doesn’t need ‘em where I need him.”
And slammed the door behind him, stepping out into the hall.
Six long, agonizing minutes later, Theodore emerged in his casual whites and blues, cloak thrown over one shoulder. Mordred glared at him for having taken so long even though he knew it wasn’t his fault, to which the taller man simply shrugged and walked away, in the direction of the war room.
“I thought they would finish the measurements before the meeting started,” Theodore said.
“You told me we need to talk an hour before said meeting,” Mordred replied, hurrying to catch up to Theodore’s blasted long legs.
“And we still have that hour. I knew you would grow impatient and come looking after five minutes,” Theodore answered, blasé. He had the grace to incline his head in acknowledgement of Mordred’s enraged tongue-click, but offered nothing in apology.
–but in saying this, offered the same: “I heard you do not wish to attend the Empress’s ball.”
“'Cos they’ll truss me up in a pretty shirt and parade me like an animal ‘round the butchers,” Mordred replied, sour. Sour, and tired. The hallway they walked down was well-lit and quiet but he thought he could feel the leering of his own country’s nobles from the shadows, from years ago. “Or they think they’re butchers, which’s worse. 'sides, they’ll take me – us – for indicators of Ferelden’s martial strength, and shove me into being a representative, which am not. It can’t be anything but unpleasant.”
Theodore hummed in understanding. They let the silence hang between them for a few steps, ponderous and companionable, before the knight said, “Then you need not go, for precisely that reason. That they exclusively request your presence is likely a reminder of the Orlesian court’s influence over the Inquisition more than a need for you to appear.”
“Josie said it’d look better for us to appear united before the Empress,” Mordred said reluctantly.
“The Wardens’ flags fly alongside the Inquisition’s,” Theodore rebuked, unflinching. “Any chevalier or their servant may see this. What proof does the court need that you must appear in person?”
A pause, this one slightly more tense.
At length, Theodore sighed and lay a hand on Mordred’s back, the touch brief but solid. “No one will have leave to insult you without punishment, not under my watch,” he said. “You have me, either way. I just–”
He stopped, and Mordred copied him, so they stood staring at each other in that empty hall. Theodore regarded him with pinched eyes and pursed lips, clearly unhappy. “It is four weeks after Adamant. They do not have any rights to demand that you dance and drink wine with snakes.”
The name of that fortress ached. Ashes in Mordred’s lungs, blood of his brothers on his tongue, the shattering and ceasing notes as Warden lives bled to nothing on his blade. He shuddered in the warmth of the corridor, looked at a point past Theodore’s head because his expression was unbearable.
“If I drink and dance, will the Wardens at Adamant be any less dead,” Mordred said, voice steady. Steady, and hollow. “If I die, or hurl myself off this fucking mountain, will they be any less dead. No. It’s done.” He sighed, long and harsh and bitterly defeated, tasted bile in the back of his throat and searing misery churning in his stomach but he quashed it down, away. Ran a trembling hand through his hair, still couldn’t look at Theodore straight on. “I’ll live with it. I’ve got to. What matter’s what we’ll do now.”
“Do you want to go to Halamshiral or not?” Theodore asked, bluntly now, voice as calm and absolute as Mordred’s head wasn’t. “Yes, or no.”
It took a second, and then two and five and seven, but eventually Mordred thrust his hands into his eye-sockets and mutely shook his head.
“So be it,” Theodore bowed to him, a crisp, graceful, knightly movement and then threw his cloak over Mordred’s shoulders after he had straightened, fastening the catch with deft fingers. The line of his mouth was softer than formality, however, and nothing was formal about how he said, “You can burn that atrocity de Valles made for you. I will speak to Lady Montiliyet.”
“She will come find me,” Mordred muttered as he pulled the borrowed short cloak tighter around himself, already formulating a plan to somehow power through Josephine’s masterfully crafted persuasive speech.
“She will not, because Sister Nightingale will be of the same mind as I am,” Theodore answered.
“You actually talk to Leila?”
“Not exactly, but she was very clear that we have a common interest for your wellbeing in the threats she showered me with.” Theodore grinned, and maybe there was an edge of admiration in that. “So worry not. We will devise something.”
Mordred chewed on his lip for a moment, pushed his mind past the keening Song in his head to the weeks ahead, the campaigns, the exiled Wardens, Vigil’s Keep, darkspawn insurgences and Corypheus.
If he didn’t need to go to Halamshiral, there were a great many things he could do. Research, for one, though Mordred somehow doubted he would find anything of note in Skyhold.
“I’m riding for Vigil’s Keep, then,” Mordred said and turned, starting the long walk down the hallway again. His steps were quicker now, decisive as he mulled over his options. “Maybe there’ll be something there. Velanna’s still home?”
“Last I heard she had departed for the Korcari Wilds, but she should have returned by now,” Theodore answered, fast at his heels.
“Good. I need to talk to her.” And I want to go home, if just for awhile. “Sweep the countryside for those damn Occularas, too. Bring 'em back. We need to find out what the hell’s going on with them, and keep any shards we collect. Venatori on Fereldan soils, I want 'em sorry, and then I want 'em dead.”
He would be personally responsible for that. Mordred gritted his teeth, but this time when the sickening waves of guilt and lividness started churning again, he let them be.
They had always been there. Worse after Adamant, but not new. That, too, was something he’d have to live with – though gladly.