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"You're Insane!"

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9.34 Dragon, Kirkwall

The small group ran up the stairs and entered the hall. At that very moment, the Arishok cut the viscount's neck and threw the head between the crowd. The head rolled to rest in front of Ralph's feet, surprise still plastered on the dead man's face.

Ralph raised his head and glanced at the Qunari. "That madness must be stopped!"

"Perhaps." Said the giant calmly. "But you don 't understand. You're unworthy, just like those here. "Prove yourself, or kneel with them!"

Some armed warriors came and attacked them. They didn't cause too much trouble. Ralph was almost sorry for them.

"So, you're basalit-an, only a few have that respect in this city. Tell me, Hawke, how you resolve this conflict?" Continued the Qunari after the quick battle.

"I see only one way," Ralph said. His eyes threw cold sparks.

"I agree".

But before anything happened, The moment is cut in by sudden interference of Fenris’s voice. "Arishokost! Qun-anaa, ebra-toh. You called Hawke 'basalit-an', and with his title, he has the right to challenge you."

The Qunari leader was thinking. "You know our traditions." He turned to Hawke. "What do you say, Hawke? You do agree with a duel? To death."

"What did you do, you fool? You're fucking serious?" Anders hissed to the elf. His eyes sparkled.

Fenris answered calmly. "He's a mage. A strong one. You know as well. He’s a chance yet, and I have no doub---"

"Mage yes... But we're not immortal, whatever you think” Anders could hardly restrain himself. "If he ---"

"Let’s do this." Anders heard his lover’s voice.

"...If he dies, you'll follow!" Hissed again rather to himself.

Fenris heard. "He’ll not. And you do better if try to help him instead, mage!"

 ***

The battle has begun. The Arishok charged, Ralph dodged and attacked. He used the blade of his staff and his dagger and cleaved deep wounds on the giant, but it seems, he didn't even notice it.

Initially, Ralph was confident that he can triumph over the Qunari quite easily as a mage, therefore, why not fight without magic for further entertainment. So, he will not use magic in a duel… until is not necessary, but… never say: never.

Hawke was proud of his skills of swords, daggers, staffs – practised a lot, even with mercenaries, and later with Fenris. He always enjoyed – it was different than magic. Challenge.

But seemed he miscalculated, underestimating the Qunari. No matter, he will don't give up so easily.

Fucking giant with his incredible stamina and damn strength! Ralph sighed and intently focused on the next moves.

The attack came much sooner and faster than he expected. He was unable to dodge and was thrust to the ground. He raised his staff and succeeded to stop the blow. With the blade of his staff, he slit a deep wound on Arishok, and sprang back to his feet.

Fuck, It was close! His arm bleed. Ralph ignored the wound and charged.

***

"Use your damned magic!", they hissed at the same time.

"I never thought I'll hear it from your mouth..."

"You don't know me, mage", Fenris said, then continued: "He’s good, believe me. He would be able to defeat most of the human, but here this not enough. The Arishok is the most skilled and experienced warrior under the Qun."

"Then… why?" Anders wondered, and suddenly the jealousy flooded him, and he couldn’t hold back. "He wants to prove it to you ?" He immediately regretted having spoken.

Fenris looked at him slightly contemptuously. "To himself. Such an idiot… mage!"

Aveline watched the duel silently, then shook her head, folded her arms on her chest and sighed with relief. "Yes. Idiot!"

***  

Ralph slammed his staff blade into the giant's belly and slit a huge wound. The big Qunari staggered but shook himself, and as if nothing had happened, he struck the surprised mage. Ralph fell to the ground again, but this time the Arishok he pushed him into a corner and impaled him with his sword. Ralph for a moment he didn't get a breath before the pain was overwhelmed.

And then, he saw through the blood curtain: as a dog rushed into the duel area, straight to the Arishok, and sank his teeth into the giant's calf.

His mabari. They were over a hundred battles, the dog was his loyal mate whatever happened. That little puppy, who looked for shelter at his legs, in his childhood, and the strong war hound, who protected him at all costs not once.

The Qunari shook his leg, but the dog didn't release his prey. The Arishok turned from Hawke to the annoying animal, slashed the dog’s side with his sword and finally kicked him to the corner. The dog whimpered in pain and helplessly lain on the floor.

Ralph’s eyes narrowed. He turned for his blood and pain to gain power and consumed the Arishok life energy to restore his own. The blood magic paralyzed the Arishok for a moment, and this moment was enough to Hawke. Now he called the power of the earth and locked the giant into a stone prison.

His hand glowed as tried to heal his mabari.

The Qunari was released sooner than he thought and headed toward them. Ralph turned to him, held out his hand and slammed the giant into the ground, then summoned a stone coil and hurled it to Arishok.

A faint, wicked smirk appeared on his face. "So... let's play seriously already!" And he called the rage of the sky and elements, tempests, lightning bolts, firestorms, and threw old, classic fireballs, then finished with his blade.

"One day, we shall return" , caught the Arishok and died.

Ralph ran to his old friend and took his head gently in his hand. "Never do it again!" said warmly, then looked at Anders with a wide smile.

Anders sighed and smiled at his lover. He was incredibly angry at Ralph, and at the same time very happy he survived. "Don’t do it! Never again!" whispered.

***

 The gathered nobles loudly celebrated Hawke’s victory when Orsino and the Knight-Commander arrived.

The crowd was suddenly silent.

"It's over?" The voice of the Knight-Commander was disappointed.

"It's over," Ralph replied with a disarming, satisfied smirk on his face and sent ice shards from his cold, narrowed eyes. The kindness of a predator.

"The city has been saved!" A sharp voice broke the silence. Timid cheers followed it, which turns into a loud ovation.

The Knight-Commanders looked around, then reluctantly and slowly lowered her sword.

"Seems Kirkwall has a new champion", said with not concealed hostility in her face.

Ralph won this battle, and it was a greater victory than it was against the Arishok. The city is his. "Not bad from an apostate, right, father?" He bathed in the glory as looked around. Then his gaze rested in Anders'. They lost in each other's eyes, while Aveline and Fenris proudly received the celebration.

He was suddenly tired of the whole thing. "Thank you all! But that's enough now" said, and put his hand on Anders’ shoulder. To be honest, he leaned on him slightly, but Anders didn't say a word, and Ralph was grateful for it. "I need a drink. Let’s go to The Hanged Man!"

***

They passed through Hightown when Anders spoke. Ralph was astonished that he was able so far withhold his opinions.

"Are you sane? No! Surely not. You used blood magic. Publicly!" He snapped finally.

"It was necessary. You could see it."

"Necessary, yes? As always… you’re insane! What about if the Templ---"

"They wouldn't have noticed it even if I did right before their nose! But they weren't there, they were late. Only you noticed it, don’t worry."

"Yes. And just like I was able to notice, someone else also might have noticed!"

"How many healers were there and have your abilities? By the way, why did you start to heal me? What would have been if the Qunari would have noticed? Calm down, Love, nobody noticed anything. I won – and now, even the Knight-Commander can’t stop me! Let's go, we all need a drink!"

Anders looked at him worriedly  "You are seriously injured, I saw---"

"Then you saw, I healed myself… You just want my body, admit it! It’s yours, but now, the time of celebration!” He laughed loudly and calmed his lover with a warm kiss.