“Don’t you go signing up for any suicide missions or holy crusades without me, darling”
Hawke looked back at the woman splayed wantonly on the bed in the Frostback hunter’s cabin they’d located the prior afternoon with directions from Varric.
Every inch of the Rivaini pirate-cum-admiral was bare and visible and oh, so tempting. But the courier was outside waiting for her in order to bring her to meet the “Inquisitor” regarding the lack of death Corypheus was suddenly evidencing.
Only he was dead. Fenris had beheaded the darkspawn bastard. The one who’d been behind the need for her dad to escape the Free Marches. They don’t get any deader.
This chaos, the death of the divine, hell even the dissolution of the circles was in some way or another Hawke’s fault.
“You could come with.”
Isabella laughed, sliding into an even more tempting pose. “Baby, me and faith go together like oil and fire. Void, I used to think the same of you.” She pouted.
Hawke smiled remembering how the two of them used to tease Sebastian. She flashed to a memory of Bella chugging a massive ale and then deep-throating a wine bottle. Maker, the color Sebastian had turned. The way he’d burst a blood vessel in his eye when she and Bella had licked up the bottle together while staring at him. He’d run from the hanged man like the actual hangman was after him and had prayed for days before he’d been able to rejoin the team.
Hawke grimaced. “This is Corypheus, you remem…” Hawke stopped. The Carta and the Wardens happened while Bella was hiding from Aveline for some reason or another. “You know what my father had to do to contain that man. What it took to kill him. This is on me Isabella.”
“I got no skin in this game, Pidgeon.” Bella said “Whereas just down the mountain in Edgehall, there are enough marks to keep me busy for days, weeks even.”
Hawke rolled her eyes “good luck with that and, uh… try not to catch anything this time? The closest trustworthy mages are over in chantry-land.”
She opened the door wide and watched the courier’s eyes grow to three times their size before he pinked up and started apologizing.
“And sugar,” Isabella called after her “you tell Varric that if he gets you killed I will END him.”
“Sure, baby” Hawke called out, pulling the door shut and following the poor boy further up the mountain listening to more apologies than she had patience for.
The place had definitely seen better days. Hawke watched through a literal hole in the stone wall of the flanking tower. The stonework was so old that she feared to press too hard on it lest it fall and hit a stonemason stories below.
She wasn’t entirely sure why Varric had felt it necessary to sneak her into the bailey in a hay wagon and up the battlements and then shoo her into a dark tower with plenty of holes in it. Just that it had something to do with a Seeker and a nightingale.
She was, however, fairly certain that, decrepit as the place was, this “Skyhold” was impregnable. With what Varric had told her about Haven, they needed this place.
Hawke wondered about this Inquisitor. This woman who had stopped the breach from spreading, saved the rebel mages from their own stupidity, survived an avalanche and united a movement that just moments before had lost nearly half of its members and all of its food, wealth and homes to an ancient Magister Darkspawn who thought he could enter the Black City and become a god.
If she didn’t know better, she’d think she was nervous.
Outside on the battlements, Varric was pacing. He kept trying to peer over the parapet and into the bailey toward a wooden building with a lot of foot traffic and construction. Then he would duck back down and pace some more.
She watched as yet another courier, this one an elf approached Varric and began talking earnestly with him. She wondered where they’d picked up a raw kid like this. She looked 15 at the oldest; but then it was hard to tell how old elves really were. Dwarves even moreso. Hawke was pretty sure, though, that she had wrinkles older than this kid.
“Fuck me,” Hawke whispered to herself “but I am old.”
She nearly missed Varric’s signal.
“Shit” Hawke cursed quietly. No way that’s the Inquisitor. But as she rounded the stairs she sure enough heard Varric say “Inquisitor, meet Hawke”
She spoke to the Inquisitor for a few candlemarks and then reconnoitered with the rogue bastard on the third floor of an Inn in the making.
“Varric, she’s just a kid. I know you say she dropped a mountain on herself and survived and that some part of you wants to believe in this Herald nonsense, but she’s so…adorable and sweet. I could break her without realizing it. So could you for that matter. She won’t come out of this the same person.”
“It’s life, Hawke, nobody gets out of it alive.” Varric said snidely.
Andraste, he was a downer lately. “Now who’s the killer cynic?” Hawke nudged him.
“She’s not Merrill, Hawke, she has a good head on her shoulders and while she’s hardly the scariest thing in Skyhold. She’s got skills.”
Suddenly he ducked and moved into a corner. “I just have to survive the wrath of the Seeker.”
“Who is this Seeker? You’ve mentioned him twice but you have never said a word about him before now.” Hawke raised an eyebrow.
“Her.” Varric said slumping. "She’s .. She was my interrogator... back in Kirkwall... " Varric wouldn't meet her eyes. "The one Daisy advised you to leave town to avoid. I apparently convinced her I had no idea where you were but she decided to drag me to the end of Thedas so I could tell the same lie to the Divine.”
“She is also the one who put this Inquisition together. She is brusque, easily angered, officious, derogatory, and just plain aggravating. Smart as a whip though.”
Varric sighed “And just as we’d begun to… tolerate each other she will find out I DID know how to reach you.”
Hawke just stared at him. He’d only complained like this about one other person.
Hawke raised an eyebrow at her best friend and he did something completely unexpected.
He blushed. “Let’s uh… play some cards.”
“Sure Varric” Hawke did her best not to laugh. “But this Champion is not as young as she once was, and leaves for Crestwood in the morning. So only a couple of hands.”
“You dragged me out of bed before midday to tell me we were heading for somewhere even less likely to result in full pockets?”
“Well, I know how much you love gossip.”
“Uh huh,” Isabella grunted “How is the little shit anyway?”
“Varric? Frightened? You jest. Varric laughs in the face of death. He curses in the face of overwhelming odds.”
“But apparently not in the face of dusky, raven haired seekers with plans to create a holy Inquisition”
“Wait.” Isabella stopped her “Are you telling me this cult our boy joined is led by a dwarf?”
“Nope.” Hawke grinned at Isabella “Dwarves lack the tie to the fade required to become both Templars and Seekers.”
“No kidding?” Isabella checked
“Nope. The cult as you call it, is led by an elf.”
“Can’t really fault him on that. Elves, as a whole, can be astonishingly good looking.”
Hawke had a look on her face that really made the muscles in Isabella’s jaw clench. The one that said there was more to the story.
“What am I missing?” Isabella said.
“Oh, lots.” Hawke said, clearly dancing around the real joke. She held up a hand and started ticking things off. “Our two favorite Knight Captains, A massive Qunari called Tiny, The Hero of Orlais, one of slayers of the Archdemon, The left hand of the divine, the right hand of the divine, a Tevinter Magus, a tranquil that used to talk to dragons, and the former first enchanter of Montsimmard.”
“But the punchline is that this firey, raven haired Seeker is the reason Merril was pounding on my door at midnight lo these many months ago. She's the reason Varric disappeared from Kirkwall and, even better. Human.”
Isabella sulked more. “Now I know you are having me on. Do you expect me to believe Varric, our Varric, who finds fault with all women, but most especially non-dwarves, has Starkhaven Syndrome or something?”
“Well if you don’t want to come to Crestwood with me, you can certainly go to ‘Skyhold’ of all the egotistical names and see for yourself. I am sure Cullen would just LOVE to see either one of us – and I just didn’t have time to sit down with him and be friendly (also, Varric was shoving me out the gate as soon as I finished talking to the Inquisitor)."
“You’d like it, lots of places to hide, the place is half falling down, but they have a Tavern and Kitchens and a whole lot of coin coming in what with their leader being the “Herald of Andraste”” Hawke made a moue of distaste “and having just survived an Avalanche after distracting either a dragon or an archdemon or both long enough for most of the town to escape from a Darkspawn Magister, more coin comes in every day.”
Isabella considered Hawke’s words, she REALLY didn’t want to slog through ‘Crestpuddle’ and somebody needed to check to see if Cullen was still available for dear Bethy, and Hawke definitely wouldn’t have thought to do that what with the way she felt about the Templar. Hmmm. “Let me sleep on it.” She finally said.
“Who said anything about sleeping?” Hawke smirked then giggled as Isabella tackled her and started stripping her of that pretentious armor Varric had had her wear to impress that impossibly cute little elf who was expected to save the world.