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City of Chains

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It was supposed to be a routine run through the sewers; two mages, both Dalish, phylacteries destroyed that day by their man on the inside.

Anders came to himself with one teenage mage hanging onto his arm, the other having ran off after the fighting began. He should have known there was nothing routine to be had in Kirkwall. At a first count, there were six men in red armour dead at his feet. A crate of lyrium, unbroken, sat not three feet away, faintly glowing in the muck.

"Where's your friend?" Anders tried, in vain, to brush off the gore that clung to him. Vengeance did not believe in distance or magic, apparently, since his only attack was grab and pull.

First count, six, since it was hard to count body parts in the dark.

"What the fuck was that?" The boy's voice was steady, relatively, considering what he just witnessed.

"We're both alive, aren't we?" Anders attempted a smile which probably came off as creepy more than anything, what with the blood hanging onto the side of his face. "Spirit magic. Not sanctioned by the chantry. Which way did your friend go?"

The boy mage - half-Elvhen by the looks of him - gave Anders a once over, probably checking for pustules and extra limbs. Satisfied that he wasn't an abomination at the moment, the boy pointed, to the relief of Anders, in the opposite direction of the gallows.

"She ran that way. I think."

Anders eyed the crate of lyrium. Some templars were probably going to get their hands on it if it was left there. He tested its weight; it was lighter than he thought. Not the distilled, liquid form then, but the raw refined dust. Worth its weight in gold. Opening the crate, he found the lyrium safely stored in individual pouches, each one of them sealed with a wax stamp.

Leaving them here would have been a waste, so Anders quickly threw them into his pack. He motioned the boy to move ahead before setting the crate and the bodies - parts of bodies - around them on fire.

It was much later on, after he delivered his charges to the Dalish up at Sundermount, when he was back in his clinic, that he remembered the cache of lyrium in his pack. In the dim light of his bedroom, Anders removed a brick from the wall behind his bed, revealing a hole seemingly stuffed with hay. He took that out as well, and laid the small pouches of lyrium in the back of the hole, beside a grimoire in Arcanum and a stack of letters from Karl.

The candlelight glinted off the gold in the wax seal of the last bundle. There, in the middle of the red wax, was a relief of something ... a bird? Gold dust in sealing wax. Whoever this smuggler was, he was classy, thought Anders, as he replaced the hay and the brick, and cast a glamour. Just a mere shifting of the light, so that the loose brick blended right in with the rest. Perhaps with this little extra, he could scrounge up enough for a bribe to get Karl out.

Tomorrow, he would have to find a buyer. For now, he needed to rest, and the guilt Justice felt at having slaughtered some not-so-innocent bystanders might just allow him some interrupted sleep.