It wasn't a large ship.
It wasn't tiny, either, but there was a lot of cargo and a lot of crew, and not much space left over for four passengers. Surana had left the tiny cabin room the four of them must share hours ago, and Zevran a short while after that, leaving Fenris alone with Orsino.
The former slave didn't stay long, himself... Orsino was a broken man, laying in his bunk staring at the wall, and that rankled Fenris deeply. Any pity he may have felt for the older man was outweighed easily by his attempt at blood magic.
If he stayed in that room, he'd kill him. And since the apparently-legitimate Warden Commander didn't want him dead, Fenris didn't want to risk murdering him in their cabin.
That was his way, always falling into step in someone's shadow. But there was no choice about it right now, even if he'd been told many times that he had a choice in general. Certainly in the middle of all this water wasn't the right place to murder someone his benefactors wished to keep alive.
Fenris had been on ships plenty of times before, the swaying and dipping of the ocean was something he'd already adjusted to again. He slipped quietly out of the cabin, planning to perhaps spend a while on the deck. As he navigated the crowded and dark insides of the boat, he began to hear... noise from above.
There was a lot of it. It sounded like the crew was having a bit of a party. That was all to the good, he could perhaps join them, if he was polite enough. Fenris slipped up onto deck, and nearly jumped out of his skin when a hand latched onto his wrist. He was aglow with his other hand cocked back before he even realized who it was, and subsided immediately as Zevran pulled him down beside him where he knelt on the boards of the deck. There was a stack of roped-down crates between them and the festivities, and Fenris understood hiding when he saw it.
"What is the meaning of this?" he pitched his voice to be too quiet to carry further than the other elf's ears. The sounds of the party were loud enough that he barely even heard himself, thumping and laughing and a soft groan. Were they brawling? Zevran wasn't replying, so Fenris carefully peeked between two barrels, his breath catching at what he saw.
Surana was naked, bleeding from gouges all over his body, on his hands and knees on the deck. One eye was already going black from his obvious beating, but he was grinning, feral, a mad-man. Someone kicked him in the ribs and stomach hard enough to send him sprawling onto his back in a tangle of long white-gold hair.
The man who kicked him knelt between the mage's long, pale legs, ripping open his own trousers--
Fenris tore his eyes away, looking over at Zevran. "They're not forcing him, are they?"
"No," Zevran replied, this time, sounding grim. "This cruelty is what he feels compelled to seek after the touch of blood magic. I can act the part, of course, but I am never malicious enough. It takes strangers to do it."
Suddenly, the mage asking Fenris to hurt him made sense. And just as suddenly, Surana went from simple mad-man to long-neglected blood thrall. Fenris sat down heavily beside the assassin, his back to the crates, stunned at himself and his own biases that he didn't even take what he knew of thralls -- which was quite a lot, after all -- into account earlier.
Mage or not, he'd done his unexpected benefactor a great disservice. Surana was no magister.
"Are you going to stop them?" he asked, unable to not hear the sounds going on behind him. Surana was taunting one of them now, egging them on. His words were lost in the noise of men drinking and boasting, but the tone was plain, rising over the vicious slap of flesh on flesh. Fenris offered without even thinking about it, "Do you want me to stop them?"
"The offer is... appreciated, my glowy friend," Zevran gave him an odd look, "but only if they go too far."
"This is why you're here," Fenris said slowly, thoughtful, "I see... without magic, he would have little means to fend them off himself."
"He never does, even when he has his magic," the Antivan went back to watching the proceedings, his tone strangely grim, "he trusts me to know his limits. And to stay my hand."
"I see," Fenris considered leaving; going to another part of the ship, or even going back to the cabin. But he couldn't. If he was going to travel with these men, if he was going to earn his keep as the mage's bodyguard-of-a-sorts, he couldn't be squeamish about this sort of madness.
"...Tie him to the mast!" A voice bellowed from right beside the crates, "You want to be beaten, boy? We'll show you how it's done at sea."
Fenris glanced quickly at Zevran, but the assassin showed now sign of budging. Hesitantly, the tevinter shifted back into a crouch, turning to look between the barrels again as rough hands hauled Surana's bloodied and bruised form upright. Enough fluid smeared the backs of his thighs that it was clear he'd been taken by at least half the crew already.
"Get me the thieves cat," that same voice ordered as Surana was turned and lashed face-first to the main mast of the ship, his arms raised high and secured. And even when the 'thieves cat' was revealed to be a triple-knotted cat o' nine tails... still, Zevran didn't move. "Anything else to say, little whore?" The men had gone quiet enough now that the speaker was clearly audible, and he stepped forward as he took his whip in hand.
"He's going to whip the meat right off his bones," Fenris hissed urgently at Zevran, "you cannot understand his strength! Will you not stop them?"
"...I'm going to grade you on your form with that," Surana's voice was rough, his throat obviously quite sore, but even so... his tone was mocking. His gaze over his shoulder was maddened, but clear. "Don't disappoint me, cap-i-tan."
Fenris sucked in a breath as the large, grey-skinned man raised the whip and brought it down across Surana's back. The mage arched against the mast, jerking at his bonds, his skin splitting open from the force. And still, Zevran did not move, although Fenris could detect his tension. The second strike crossed the first, leaving a hair-thin strip of skin hanging off Surana's back.
The thrall moaned, loudly. If there was any doubt as to the ruined state of his mind, this would have erased it for Fenris. He started to stand up, but Zevran grabbed his wrist again.
A third strike, this one horizontal across Surana's ass, making the skin there immediately bead with blood, and then -- mercifully, or so Fenris thought -- the Tal-Vashoth handed the cat o' nine tails off. The large grey man approached the bound mage, jerking his plain-spun trousers out of his way, grabbing Surana's hips and lifting him clear off the deck.
The sharp, savage roll of the Captain's body drove the elf into the mast, and Fenris could not stop watching as he was fucked, hard and brutal and bleeding and bound and...
He would have never thought something this violent could have such an effect on him, but his own trousers were far too tight. His breathing was erratic, and he could feel his face coloring as his pulse beat in his throat. Surana's feet hung, all his weight held by his arms and by his partner, whose efforts were clearly audible as he fucked him. It seemed like everyone present was holding their breath, which left every sound crystal clear over the night ocean and the creaking of ropes.
"This isn't right," Fenris breathed, "is it? It cannot be right to allow this."
Zevran said nothing, although Fenris could feel his gaze for a moment. He just couldn't take his eyes off the spectacle on the deck. Surana was arched painfully in place, his shoulders surely about to come out of their sockets, much of his front being ground against the mast. The Captain worked him as though he weighed nothing at all, jerking him back and forth to meet his own powerful thrusts.
The size of him inside... Fenris clenched his jaw, at once equally turned on and repulsed by his own reaction. This was no sane act! Surely this was madness to allow to happen, even to a mage.
"Little elven slut," the Tal-Vashoth growled, "is the fight out of you yet?"
"Never," Surana gasped out, though Fenris could hardly imagine how he was even able to speak during such an assault. "Gonna... have to... fuck me harder--"
With a growl, the Captain grabbed the side of Surana's head in one large hand and slammed it, once, against the mast. Fenris jerked in place at the blow, surprised, and... Zevran was suddenly no longer beside him.
"This little party is over," Zevran said with surprising calm, abruptly beside the pair, "pull out and get out of my sight." The former Qunari and the former Crow stared at each other, although Zevran had to look straight up to do it. He hadn't drawn his weapons, but the cold look in his eye said that he would if not obeyed.
"You think to order me on my own ship, elf?" the Captain growled, giving Surana's body another thrust. Fenris stood up from his hiding place, pointedly, his marking thrumming to life and making several of the nearby sailors jump with surprise.
"You were paid handsomely to get us across the ocean intact," Zevran replied, steel underlying his thickly-accented voice. "If need-be, I will figure out how to sail this little boat with four men, and sell you and all your cargo on the black market. Do you truly wish to try me?"
In the end, apparently the answer was 'no'. The sailors, including the Captain, withdrew, although not without some muttering from the men and a look full of promise from the Captain as he tucked himself back into his trousers.
Fenris stepped around the crates and barrels and helped cut Surana down from the mast. He was barely conscious, and Zevran half-caught him. "Help me get him to Orsino, he needs healing. Now."
Together, they hauled the bloodied mage back to their cabin, Fenris kicking the door open. "Is he normally so self-destructive?" he couldn't help but ask as Orsino obligingly worked on healing his fellow mage, looking shocked and worried himself. Apparently the former First Enchanter hadn't had anymore of a clue about what Surana liked to get up to than Fenris himself had. He fussed over the younger mage as if he was a wounded bird, forgetting his own troubles for a time.
"You ask that when he was so pleased to have you torture him?" Zevran asked, "Truly? Yes. It is especially bad after being touched by blood magic, as I said."
"Zev..." that was Surana, "sorry."
"Not now, amore," Zevran tsked, "rest while we put you back together, yes?"
"Good luck with that," Surana managed a weak little laugh, though the look he was giving the assassin was a guilty one. And no wonder, if it was such a reoccurring issue that Zevran had to stand guard over his exploits. "It wasn't even enough," the mage let his eyes slip shut as Zevran tended to the gouge on his temple from the mast, cleaning it out with some foul-smelling substance, "with my magic locked up by blood magic... it may never be enough. This was... this is..."
"Enough, my Warden, we will talk later," Zevran put a little of that steel back in his voice, and Surana closed his mouth.
"The crew did this?" Orsino asked as they rolled Surana onto his side so that he could begin healing his back. The Warden's huge mabari watched from where he lay on the floor across the tiny room, but he knew better than to get in the way.
"It is... complicated," Fenris offered, hesitantly. "We will want to keep a watch, and stick together as much as possible." As much as the idea made his skin crawl, it was sound.
"It's that bad?" the former Enchanter looked between them, looking a bit hunted himself. Going from the situation in Kirkwall to a potentially hostile ship in the middle of the ocean had to be rough, even for a would-be blood mage. Fenris almost felt bad for him. Almost.
"Perhaps," Zevran agreed, "many things can go wrong on an ocean voyage. Particularly to those who have displeased a ship's captain."
"Sorry," Surana murmured again.
"Silence," Fenris startled himself by saying it, "there is nothing to be gained with guilt in this situation."
He could feel Zevran watching him as he retreated, carefully not looking at anyone. Fenris closed the door, and then leaned against it, and said nothing else.