“Oh good, you're alive. I was worried I'd have to send in a willing victim to check on you.” Anders said, seeing the two of them walk into the dining area the next morning. “We all know I'm never knocking on your door ever again.”
“I'm only surprised that you're still traumatized by that.” Hawke remarks.
“You would be too if someone set your ass on fire.” Anders replied.
“We wouldn't have heard you anyway.” Fenris replies, with a mischievous and slightly smug grin. “There's this thing she does that cancels out noise. It would have saved us, and maybe your feathers, if we had known that earlier.”
“Fenris! I thought you were going to stick with the recuperating jokes.” Hawke exclaimed, eyes wide, laughing.
“Bragging about magic is new for me. Let me have my fun.” Fenris said, pretending to fuss.
By now, Anders has figured out exactly why she would need noise canceling magic. The mention of recuperating hadn't helped. Maker's breath, but he'd never be able to say that word again. He was just lucky that they hadn't used the word 'healing'. He would have had to find something else to say whenever someone was hurt.
Thank the Maker that Varric walked in when he did. Anders didn't fancy having to ask whether or not he was in danger of being lyrium fist-ed through the heart. He rather liked the idea of keeping his insides…inside. As a healer, this was the general rule of things. As Varric walked up to them, he had the distinct feeling that this wouldn't be a welcome diversion.
“Varric!” Hawke called out, happily.
“I'm surprised you're up, Wolf.” Varric said, as he strolled into the room.
“Only just.” Hawke admitted. “Fenris is being awful.”
“Is he bragging about your sex magic? I have 3 silvers on that.” Varric smirked, as Anders begrudgingly tossed him the coin.
“What's the business for today, Varric?” Hawke asked, eyeing her friend now. “You look suspiciously happy.”
“Considering you should be on probation for nearly passing out while fussing at the nobles, for which I have been thoroughly chastised, fussed at, and reprimanded by several parties, there are a number of things that concern our great Champion of Kirkwall on this fine day.” Varric said, smoothly, sitting down with them. “Bartrand is back. I'm guessing Kirkwall is the only place he could hope to sell the idol. The Templars have left the clinic, after a few well placed threats to rust their armour before we help them again. They were all Meredith's men anyway. When are we going to do something about her anyway?”
“I'm waiting on word from Alistair.” Hawke replied. “He's a bit hesitant to act with the divine on the fence as she is.”
“Alistair? As in King Alistair?” Anders asked, shocked. “Since when have you been on a first name basis with the King of Fereldan?”
“Since I wrote to him for help. I rather like his sense of humour.” Hawke admitted, with a sheepish grin.
“You would. His sense of humour is even worse than your own.” Anders said, with a snort.
“Blondie, I'm disappointed in you, wasting a perfectly good betting opportunity like this.” Varric chuckled.
“There's still time.” Anders replied, with a grin.
“We should talk more about that later.” Varric replied, making a note of it.
“Indeed.” Fenris smirked, shaking his head at them.
“Anyway, there's a nobleman from Antiva, most likely a Crow, possibly looking to hire you for something, or kill you, Wolf.” Varric stated, getting down to business. “Also, there's the small matter of your name day.”
Hawke's eyes went wide, and her mouth fell open. This is not where anyone thought this conversation would go. Trust Varric to pull something like this. The dwarf pulled out a package, and set it out on the table. With an arched eyebrow raised, he waited.
“Bell'anar'is, why didn't you tell me when your name day was?” Fenris asked, looking confused.
“It's not for another few days yet. I just…I didn't…I can't celebrate it…Bethany…” Her eyes downcast.
“Did your spy ring of elven urchins uncover this too, Dwarf?” Fenris asked, looking to him.
“Nope. Found the package at the door. Saved it from BarkSpawn. You can thank me later.” Varric stated. “I'm going to have to get onto them about missing this kind of information. This is a goldmine right here. So, when exactly is your name day, Wolf?”
“Well…I…um…” Wolf stammered.
Had she really thought she could get away with this? She must have, considering he hadn't asked this particular question in the years that he has known her, no one had thought to, and she was always good at redirecting the attention. It's amusing to watch her face change colours the more embarrassed she gets. There was something his eyes weren't seeing, and when it hit him he nearly laughs outright. The blushing, the way her eyes dart over to Fenris fleetingly, it all fit!
“Broody, I can't believe you!” Varric hoots with laughter. “You should have figured this out before me…after all…You're the only one…to have ever given her…a present!”
Suddenly, Fenris is chuckling along with him, a deep rich timbre. “The answer is still no, Dwarf.”
“While he's in the room, anyway.” Wolf teased.
“Before I set myself on fire.” Anders noted. “Maybe you should open up your present, Hawke.”
“That was sent by Varric.” Fenris continued, in agreement.
“While blaming strangers, no less.” Wolf tsked.
“I swear by my chest hair, I didn't send it.” Varric chuckled.
Inside the box are the most wonderfully made woven shoes she's ever seen. She knows without trying them on that they will fit her perfectly. She can't help but try them on anyway. They feel amazing, and she wonders if she will ever need another pair of shoes again. Just how did Varric know her shoe size?
“I had no idea you paid this much attention to my feet, Varric.” Hawke teased. “Should I be worried? Should Fenris be worried?”
“I'm already worried.” Fenris added, just to keep things going. “Perhaps I should kill the dwarf?”
“No, no, we should spare him for now.” She insisted, playfully, patting his shoulder.
“You only want to spare him for the shoes.” Fenris mock accused.
“Well…can you blame me? They're so nice!” She giggled.
“It wasn't me.” Varric says, fighting through his own laughter.
“There's something else in there.” Fenris notes. “It looks like a wolf's skull mask.”
“Little bit too much on the nose there, don't you think, Varric?”Anders asked, looking at it.
“It wasn't me!” Varric says, unable to contain his laughter anymore.
“There's a note with it.” Hawke said, picking it up to look at it. “Hawk. Wolf. Evanuris.”
“Hawke, that mask…it's…” Anders frowns, like he's not sure what he's trying to say. “Varric, where did you get this?”
“He didn't send it. The note isn't in his hand, or his forger's. I'm friends with at least five of them. This isn't their handwriting either.” Hawke said, handing the note to Anders to look at. “What's an Evanuris?”
“I don't know. I've never heard of it.” Anders admitted, looking at the note.
When she picks up the mask, the sound in the room fades away. All of her senses have been drawn to focus on the mask now. The mask is a literal wolf's skull, with black fur hanging off the back of it somehow. It is the same colour as the fur she has when she shifts into a wolf, and it was so soft! She wonders, what it would be like to wear it.
“Wait, Hawke, don't!” Anders shouts suddenly, practically leaping for her.
When he reaches her, he is instantly flung across the room. Power radiates from her so much that her feet barely touch the floor. She made no sound of distress. She made no sound at all, and Fenris was about to panic. He had witnessed mages fall to such things, he was sure, and had had to kill them under Danarius. There would be no way he would live through having to kill her.
“Bell'anar'is! Bell'anar'is, you take that mask off right now, or so help me!” Fenris growled, angrily, fear leaking into his voice. “Bell'anar'is, come back!”
He's gripping her arms tightly now, half tempted to try shaking her out of her state, not thinking yet about the fact that it has not thrown him across the room like it has Anders. It will not work though, he knows. She is locked in a struggle, or a conversation, he knows not. Many sentient items were violent in nature, but it was not unheard of for one to be benevolent. His tenuous grasp on that hope is the only thing he has now.
“Bell'anar'is, please.” He pleads, resting his forehead against the mask, his voice low. “Come back…come back to me…Please, Amatus…I can't…”
“Amatus? Na lahna ash, Amatus?” Came a voice that was, and was not, his Bell'anar'is.
“She is my Amatus.” Fenris replies, though he knows not what was said to him.
“Quare hoc dicis?” Came the voice again, finally in a language he could understand. Why do you say that?
“Ea est mea Amatus.” Fenris replies in kind. She is my beloved. “Ea ratio me manere, domus meus. Ea est et futurae.” She is my reason to stay, my home. She is my future.
“Haec aliis…Qui sunt illi? Ea stipant? Ea ducit illios?” The voice said. These others…They are her people? Her pack? She leads them?
“Et alii.” Fenris replies, unsure of where this is going. And others.
“Bonum. Ea erit opus eorum.” The voice responded. Good. She will need them.
“Quid tibi habere eam?” Fenris asked, fearful of the answer. Why do you hold her?
“Eadem ratione. Ea est Amatus.” The voice stated. For the same reason. She is beloved. “Nolite solliciti esse. Ea est potentior.” Worry not. She is strong.
Suddenly the magic that holds her up falls away, and the mask disappears. She stumbles, falling into him, and he instantly holds her to him. Her eyes remain unfocused, but he worries just a little less. He can see her in them. She has not lost herself to a demon, or artifact. She is strong enough, and he is left to wonder why someone sent this to her.
“Fenris?” She asks, after a moment, looking to him. “We need to see Xenon, today if possible. What I saw…”
“What you saw will have to wait till after breakfast.” Orana insists. “Mistress Hawke, you have just held your own against a sentient object. Even the strongest mage needs nourishment after something like that.”
“Thank you, Orana.” Bell'anar'is relents, looking rather sheepish. “I do feel a bit drained.”
“You can translate all that for me later, right?” Varric asked, looking to Anders, who is already handing him a piece of paper he'd scribbled the translations on.
Fenris looks like he's more worried about her now then during the Arishok incident. Every once in a while, he would look to her with a questioning gaze. She can't even imagine what's going on in his mind right now. He has an arm wrapped around her possessively, and every so often he tightens and loosens his grip. His paranoia of magic is fighting his faith in her, but he does not pull away.
He's never felt magic like that, not since the first day he met her. It had been when he'd nearly attacked her that day, thinking there was a threat to the clinic. She had the feeling of wild magic about her, something that could change the tide for the mages if he could only learn to wield her. That had been his mistake. There was no way to control wild magic, and he had nearly lost her friendship trying to do just that. She was a force all her own, and it was best to let her choose where she went.
Now they were walking off to find Xenon. The Black Emporium was the only place any of them knew that had a hope of explaining this to them. At the moment though, they seemed to be having trouble locating it. Xenon was hard to find when he thought you wanted your money back. He was impossible to find if he knew you wanted your money back.
Hawke and Varric are up front talking, while he and Fenris bring up the back silently. Every once in a while, he notices that Fenris fidget. It looks as if Fenris is fighting himself. Hawke looks back at them sometimes, her eyes filled with worry. She knows better than any of them what is going through his mind right now.
“If you don't stop that right now, she'll think there really is something wrong.” Anders stated, his voice low. “I know you're freaking out, Fenris, but if you don't reign it in, she'll think you've no faith in her.”
“It is not her I have no faith in. She has been bound to a sentient artifact, an ancient one by the feel of it.” Fenris said, finally putting a voice to his fears. “She is still herself right now, but a sentient artifact can take time to overtake a mage or no time at all, and the older they get the harder it is. An ancient one…We had better hope the two have struck an accord. If not…If it overtakes her mind…I won't…I can't…”
“Fenris, do you know why I haven't lost my mind yet?” Anders asked, a bit frustrated at him. “Hawke has faith that I can handle this, even when I do things that hurt others, even when I know I don't deserve it. She trusts me to find my way back. Don't you trust her? Don't you think she's strong enough?”
“It is not a matter of whether she is strong enough, Anders.” Fenris shot back, quietly. “Artifacts like these can overtake even the strongest mage.”
“You're the one she's going to look to in this, Fenris.” Anders replied, looking ahead. “Out of all of us, it was you who made her realize she could be comfortable in her magic. You have to be there for her, even when she doubts herself, when she doesn't think herself strong enough. Because without that support, she will fall.”
He almost doesn't hear it, but Fenris was talking more to himself than him, as he said. “It could kill her…I just got her back…I can't…I can't lose her again.”
“Xenon, old friend, old buddy, old pal, tell me you have something.” Hawke said, casually, as she strolled into the Black Emporium.
“Hawke! Had I known……you wanted to wear……a skull. I would have……offered up my own!” Xenon croaked out, with a sound she could only guess as laughter.
“Well, you know, it just showed up and said it loved me, so…this happened.” Hawke replied, jovially. “Any ideas what this thing is? And what is an Evanuris?”
“It says……it is……I'm sorry, it was……the mask of Fen'Harel!” Xenon commented. Fenris swore under his breath, and Anders looked like his eyes were going to pop out of his Skull. Varric was busy looking for things for Bianca, pretending not to be listening in. “It says that I……can't tell you……what an Evanuris is……because that would be……cheating!……It has a wonderful sense……of humour!……You should bring it……around……more often!”
“Is there a book or something in here that will tell me?” Hawke asked, grasping at straws.
“An elvish translation book……may help you……It has the baser forms……of the old words.” Xenon replied.
“I'll take it.” Hawke agreed.
“If you know elvish, why would you need a translation book, Bell'anar'is?” He asked, confused.
“Words change over time, Fenris. If the old translation words are in here, they could lead me to what evanuris is, and why this mask chose me.” Bell'anar'is replied, before biting her lip. “You freaking out yet? I am.”
“You are the strongest mage I know, Bell'anar'is. That you have made friends with an ancient artifact should not surprise me.” He replied, after a moment. “I will admit to being cautious, but that is always my nature. It told me not to worry, that it loves you, that you are strong enough.”
He has to try, for her, and he sees the grateful look in her eyes as he says those words. It helps to relieve some of the stress he feels. He does not see another presence hiding in her eyes, the way he can see Justice in Anders, and that helps him as well. It is outside of her then, but bonded to her. As much as his heart is in his throat now, he feels better knowing that it is not trying to take over her mind.
“Is it…Does it talk to you all the time?” He asked, curious, as they paid for their items. He's had a horrible thought, Varric and Isabela would approve no doubt, and wonders if the mask will intrude on their intimate time.
“No. When it talked to Xenon, it was like it woke up from a nap.” Bell'anar'is replied, scrunching her eyebrows in confusion. “I think it sleeps most of the time, till I talk to it, or maybe if the situation calls for action or something.”
He does not let it show how relieved he is at that moment.
“Speaking of which……Hawke……There seem to be……several Templars outside……trying to break in!” Xenon announced.
“Any way to tell if they are Cullen's men or Meredith's?” She asked, turning to the old bag of bones.
“I believe……they are Meredith's men……They have a foul stench……to them……You should be very……careful around her, Hawke!……I do not wish to lose……one of my best customers!” He replied, after a moment of inspection. “You will take……this door over here……while my security measures……take care of……my new guests!……I thank you, Hawke……for the entertainment……my security measures……will have!……They have been……quite bored that no one……gets past the gelatonous blob!”
“You really know how to spoil a girl, Xenon.” Bell'anar'is said, kindly.
“Ha! I do……what I can!” Xenon laughed, dryly. “Now go!”
Ea – to be
vallas – writing
nu – pain
ra – it that
is – he
No matter now many times she stared at it, the list she come up with did not make since. There had to be something in this book that she wasn't seeing. For once, her 'partner' was silent when she wished it would tell her something. The Mask of Fen'Harel? Really? Fuck it if Merrill wasn't going to flip her shit over this.
What in the name of the Maker was an Evanuris? There may be nothing to do about it now. The day they would go to visit Fenris's sister was the next day, and she planned on being there for it. She would have to table her search aside for now. It wasn't like it was going to go anywhere.
“Bell'anar'is, so help me, if you don't get in that bed right now, I'll drag you up there myself.” Fenris huffed, in mock annoyance, a playful smirk across his face.
“I'd like to see you try it.” She shot back, arching an eyebrow, calling his bluff…or what she thought was a bluff.
She found herself half way up the stairs before she could blink, and started laughing in spite of herself. Oh, it was good to have him be this playful again. She was afraid that he would be too worried over her, watching over her as if waiting for her to fall. Instead he had taken to complimenting her strengths, constantly flirting with her in his way, and trying to teach her Tevene. He still worried, she could feel it in the way he would hold her tightly before relaxing again, but it felt comforting too.
He was so nervous, he couldn't see straight. He would see his sister tomorrow. What would she be like? Would she hate him? Would she understand? Was she a trap? No matter how many times he tried to go to sleep, there were just too many questions dancing around in his mind for that to be a possibility.
So when Bell'anar'is began kissing along his body, he was surprised out of his thoughts. She had looked so tired staring at that paper that he just thought she'd already gone to sleep. She didn't give him any time to recover from his surprise either. Soon there was only thoughts of her, and the things she ws doing to him. As he held her in his arms, after their 'activities', he found that he had no pressing worries at all.
Several things happened at once, as they entered the Hanged Man that afternoon. Wolf looked troubled, as if she could tell something was not right. Fenris was distracted, recalling memories mostly forgotten, even as his sister avoided his gaze. There were a lot more strangers in here than normal, but Kirkwall was by the sea, and he hadn't thought anything about it till now. Shit, this was a trap.
“Fenris, we have to go.” Wolf whispered to him.
“I don't understand. Why aren't you looking at me?” Fenris asked, looking to his sister.
“Fenris, we have to go!” Wolf insisted now.
“I'm sorry, Leto.” Varania said, looking away.
That's when he knew, when it finally clicked for the elf what was going on. He, himself, didn't pay attention to what the Magister walking down the steps was saying. His attention was on Fenris, watching the hope drain from his face. He watched as anger replaced it, as he shouted at her for turning on 'family'. Varric knew that elf would have given her everything, and now Fenris was at risk of losing more than his freedom.
“The Champion of Kirkwall. Is this your new Mistress then?” Danarius asked, luredly, gazing upon her now. Fenris can't stomach how he looks at her.
“Fenris is not a slave!” Bell'anar'is growled at him, her own lyrium markins sparking up.
“Oh my, she is quite the prize, isn't she?” Danarius asked, looking to him now. “I can see why you covet her, and is that a ring? She belongs to you then? You have grown bold, my little wolf. Don't worry, you'll both be mine soon enough.”
“You will not touch her!” Fenris shouted at him, angrily, drawing the Blade of Mercy she had found for him.
Before he could charge the man, he felt her hand on his, soft, warm, comforting. He didn't understand what she was doing, till he saw her walking towards his former master. She couldn't be thinking of taking his place? He wouldn't allow it. She didn't realize what she was signing herself up for.
But the eyes that looked back at him, when he'd held her fingers a touch too long, were not quite her own. The artifact had a plan then, one he wasn't sure he trusted, one that more than likely it hand his Bell'anar'is had cooked up together. What were they thinking, walking towards the man so openly? This was not going to end well, and he knew that he had to do something.
“Come here, child, let me look at you.” Danarius said, softly. She felt her skin crawl, but she did as he wanted. “There is a wild power about you. How has no one tamed it yet? No matter, with Fenris by my side again, you will obey me as well, I can tell.”
It was over before he knew it. She was already so close to him, he wouldn't have seen the dagger she'd whipped out, stabbing him through the ribcage and into his heart. She held him where he was, paralyzing him so that he could not access his powers as he died. Their eyes did not leave each other as the light faded from his. Finally, when the light was almost out, she leaned in closer to him.
“In what world, did you think I would ever let you get close enough to touch him?” She snarled, so low only he could hear her, and then tossed him aside. She looked to the others of his guard, and growled out for all to hear. “Anyone else wanna chance it?”
The fight that took place was a free for all. Blood was everywhere, and she could swear that she saw Isabela and Aveline actually working together. Fenris wasn't happy with her, she knew. She could see it in his eyes when she looked at him, like she had robbed him of something. Somehow, through all the magic, the fighting, and the blood, the Hanged Man didn't burn down.
“Please don't let him kill me!” Those words brought her out of her thoughts.
“You still act like you're in Tevinter. You're not, and I am not his Master.” Hawke said, coldly.
“Broody, you don't want to do this. As much as I hate my brother, even I know I won't kill him.” Varric said, his voice low.
“You betrayed your family, all so that you could be a Magister?” Fenris asked his sister, not answering anyone else.
“He would have killed me if I hadn't.” Varania spat. “What choice did I have? Death now, or death later? He had been keeping track of me after what you did for us, till my magic presented itself. I needed training, and he offered, as long as he could call in a favor anytime he asked.”
“What I did?” Fenris asked, suddenly caught off guard.
“Those markings you say you didn't want. You fought for them, competed for them, and used the Boon to have me and mother freed.” Varania answered. “Only it wasn't a gift, it was a curse, and sometimes I think you got the better end of the deal. You didn't have to watch mother suffer when she found you, when you didn't even remember us. She killed herself after that, and I was left alone. I had to fend for myself. What else was I suppose to do?”
“Why are you telling me this?” Fenris asked, pleadingly. Fuck, it sounded like his heart was breaking.
“Because these were the answers you wanted.” Varania replied.
“I know tempers are running high right now, but don't run. You two could try now. There's no threats of a Magister after you now.” Varric stated, hesitantly. “You should think about it.”
“A sister who betrayed her only family for the empty promise of becoming a Magister, and a brother who wants to rip her heart out? I doubt we'd make it five minutes.” Fenris scoffed.
“Then it will be five minutes you didn't have before.” Hawke said, and something in him softens at that, even though he still looks rebellious.