Dorian drummed his fingers on the arm of his elaborate throne and tried not to show what a boring affair he thought this entire farce was. Tried being the operative word. Didn’t even try very hard. The Magisters’ milled about, swaddled in only the finest of silks, their fanciful heels clicking maddeningly on the obsidian floor. Dorian could have several of them executed tonight if it got too terribly boring. He was thinking of setting fire to Magister Vestivus, the man had chosen a most dreadful outfit, and would not stop blathering on and on about ancient ruins this and ancient ruins that. Oh! Perhaps Dorian would ordered him buried alive in an ancient ruin! Delightful!
He shifted on his throne, a clever smirk curling his lips as he mulled over the thought. His black and gold robes rustled as he brought one finger up to twist his mustache, eyes faraway, barely seeing the mingling power hungry fools that practically grovelled at his feet. They were very nice feet, yes, but if Dorian was going to have them worshiped he’d prefer someone considerably more handsome than the dusty old windbags currently present.
Just as Dorian was starting to serious favor burying someone alive just to sate his boredom, there was a hush over the entire grand ballroom. Dorian sat up straighter in his throne, eyes narrowing as the double doors were thrown wide open.
Oh great. Magister Geliani. Always showering Dorian with gifts in the hope of procuring favor. Dorian had received many unwanted things since Geliani had gotten it in his head that, since material goods had worked on other Archons, it surely must work on Dorian. Today a team of slaves strained to pull in a wheeled box of some sort. Over eight feet tall, possibly six feet wide, Dorian feared he was about to receive the world’s ugliest vase. Well, if that was what it was then he would stuff both Geliani and Vestivus in it and they could be buried alive together. Misery loves company and all that.
“I have brought you something wondrous, something I think will aid you greatly!” said Geliani, aware that everyone was watching him and enjoying it greatly.
“Oh?” asked Dorian dryly, throwing his legs over the arm of his throne to take on an air of calculated disdain, “is it a dwarven device that will fuck the boredom right out of me? Because otherwise I am not sure it will aid me much at all.”
Whispers floated through the hall. Dorian was the youngest Archon in thousands of years, and since ascending to power he had made it quite clear that his levels of depravity knew no bounds. It made the old very uncomfortable, and it made the young go mad. Dorian did not expect to live to be an old man, but he wanted to be remembered for an eternity, and if that meant he had to marry some of his Magisters to horses, or stage elaborate orgies, then so be it. Fuck Tevinter. Let it burn around him. He’d tried to take away the matches but these children refused to stop playing with fire.
“It is not,” said Geliani, looking curiously proud despite Dorian’s glib attitude. Oh…now that got his attention, “but I suppose the gift could fill… many different positions at His Majesty’s side. Open the box, release the ox!”
A shivering slave worked the locks open, stepping back as the door swung silently open. Dorian sat up straight, hands curled around the arms of his throne as he leaned forward with a greedy hiss between his teeth. The biggest Qunari he had ever seen stepped out. The oxman was missing a couple fingers, and if the scarring from his knee down to his ankle was indication, had a gimp leg. However there was no mistaking the power in his form, in the way his back stood straight as he looked right into Dorian’s eyes, his horns as wide as his shoulders. He was completely naked, flaccid cock hanging long and fat between his meaty thighs.
“Do you like it, Your Greatness?” asked Geliani hesitantly, “When I saw him, I thought he could make an excellent body guard, the Qunari are well trained in combat.. as we well know.”
“He’ll do,” Dorian stood up, waving over his own slaves, “have him bathed and taken to my rooms.” Dorian turned to the congregation, throwing his arms wide, “In light of this generous gift, I won’t have Magister Vestivus buried alive!”
“WHAT?!” squealed Vestivus over the sounds of clapping.
“Please, continue to enjoy yourselves, but I must excuse myself,” Dorian could see Geliani hovering below the dais, awaiting some kind of award. He walked up to his guard, hands behind his back. “Magister Geliani is growing a little too desperate for approval,” said Dorian quietly, “I want him loaded with gold…literally. Cut him open and stuff him like a hog, then toss his corpse in the streets. The people can pick the coins from his empty eye sockets.”
The guards nodded, and moved to obey without question. Dorian cracked his neck with a wicked smile as he left the grand ballroom. It was good to be Archon.
Are you proud of me now, Father? Dorian thought a bit manically, ascending the stairs to his quarters, where a Qunari awaited him. He planned to have it fuck him. Behold the Pavus legacy, Dorian smirked to himself, this is what they’ll remember, Father.
This is all they’ll remember.
Sound did not travel so well in this ancient and grand castle. Dorian had commandeered much of the top floor as his own personal quarters, despite much grumbling, and the sounds of the party were soaked into the stone far below him. They could be performing screaming rites of blood magic and Dorian would be none the wiser. Actually, that might be something they were really doing; it was hard to tell how things would go at a Tevinter soiree.
The top floor was devoid of slaves, completely silent but for the click of Dorian’s heels on the obsidian tiles, delicate gold inlay tracing his steps. Those ancient Tevinters loved their black and gold. Dorian would complain about how dreary everything looked if he wasn’t so handsome surrounded by it. His rooms were in the furthest corner, and there was only one guard standing watch at the front of his bedroom door. Previous Archons had asked for more, a legion to share the space with them…and had ended up just as assassinated. No, Dorian would take his chance with just one man.
“Is the Qunari prepared?” asked Dorian as he approached, robes flaring out around him.
“He has been bathed and left alone, Your Majesty,” said the guard quickly, eyes staring right through the wall across from him. The guards were always nervous about making eye contact with Dorian. Something about him roasting the last Guard Captain alive over a spit and serving him at a lavish party filled with Dorian’s political enemies put them all on edge. Well, so be it, Dorian couldn’t be bothered to care if they looked at him or not.
Dorian walked into his rooms without acknowledging the guard, shutting the door and placing up, or activating, all the usual wards. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, not stabbed to death in his own bed like the last three Archons. The Qunari was chained to the wall across from his enormous bed, watching him without affectation, if Dorian didn’t know better, he would assume the Qunari dumb. Not dumb, Dorian was starting to suspect there was no such thing as a dumb Qunari, their breeding and education was too tightly controlled.
“You have a name?” asked Dorian idly, picking a blood pear out of the bowl beside the door and taking a bite of it.
The Qunari said nothing. As expected.
Dorian licked the juice from his chin and walked closer, “Do you know my name?”
Silence, but for those sharp eyes following his every move. Dorian stopped just before him, head tilted back as he admired his girth, his height. He’d been in war for years, possibly taken from Seheron. A long time veteran if the mass of old scars and wounds was any indication. That made him dangerous. Dorian liked dangerous.
“Would you like something to eat?” asked Dorian sweetly, placing the pear against the Qunari’s lips. There was a short hesitation and then teeth were tearing into the flesh of the fruit, eating it seeds, stem, and all. Dorian pulled his fingers back before they could be bitten clean off.
“I’m going to assume you understand Tevene,” said Dorian curtly, bringing his sticky fingers up to lick them clean. “However if you don’t,” he smirked and switched to Qunlat effortlessly, “I also speak your tongue.”
He was disappointed to find no flicker of surprise in the Qunari’s eyes. The oxman merely tilted his head down and replied in perfect, if delightfully gruff, Tevene, “I don’t want to hear it coming from your mouth again.”
“That can be arranged,” said Dorian, “to be honest I don’t like speaking it. Makes my throat hurt. So, do you have a name?” he asked again, wandering over to a bowl full of warm water and washing his hands clean. There was a seed of anticipation growing in his belly at what he would let this monster do to him.
“A34Fg23jJG877jKG-” The Qunari droned.
“Enough, enough!” Dorian snapped, wiping his hands dry on a nearby towel, “I get the point, you stupid animal. If you won’t give me a name, then I will give you one.“
Dorian paced before the oxman, eyes following the thick, enchanted chains that wrapped around his wrists and ankles, to the broad, powerful sweep of his horns. He was a sight to behold, Dorian had seen more Qunari than the average Tevinter, but he had never seen one like this. Dorian finally stopped right before him, hands coming up to press flat against the beasts belly, enjoying the heat that radiated off of him. “You are the Iron Bull, for lack of your title.”
The Qunari, Iron Bull, said nothing in response to this. Dorian was started to expect such a reaction. He pulled away, walking through the doorway into his lab where tools and magical instruments lined the walls. Dorian pulled out a particular chest that sat under his work bench, made of lacquered rose wood it held four metal bands that hummed with magical energy, runes carved in their surface. Two of them fit Dorian perfectly, snapping over his wrists to sit cool and nearly weightless against his bare skin. The other two could be adjusted. Dorian played with the mechanism that let him increase the width of the bracelet until he thought they were big enough to slip over Iron Bull’s massive hands.
“Allow me to explain what is now expected of you,” said Dorian, pushing the shackles just far enough up Iron Bull’s arm that he could slip on the metal bands, tightening them down so they could not be slid back off again. Once they were on he snapped his fingers and the chains fell to the floor with a clatter, leaving Iron Bull completely unrestrained. “You will be my own personal guard, there is no where I will go that you will not be. There are many in Tevinter that would see me dead,” Dorian paused, stroking his chin, “with, ah, perfectly good reason. However I’m not done quite yet.”
“Done doing what?” Iron Bull growled, turning his wrists about to look at the bands, brow furrowing.
“At least learning how to play the violin,” said Dorian, holding his arms up as if playing an invisible instrument.
“Why that?” Iron Bull looked up at him, confusion sitting uncomfortably on his face.
“So I can play it as Tevinter burns, of course,” Dorian’s smile was perfectly mad, fingers plucking non-existent strings. “I am Archon Pavus, the perfect son, the perfect ruler, how could I give my country any less than a stirring solo as the ruins collapse into the Deep Roads?”
Iron Bull stared at him as if seeing him for the first time, fingers tracing around the metal flush against his skin. He was mulling over something, that much was clear, but his face did not reveal much more than that. Finally Bull grinned at him and Dorian felt pleasure flare up in his gut, that little seed of anticipation blooming.
“But enough talk,” said Dorian haughtily, wrapping one arm over Bull’s shoulder, standing on his toes to try and even out their height… a little. “I’ve heard plenty of filthy rumors about Qunari lovers, how many do you suppose are true?”
“Hmmm,” Iron Bull hummed, “tell me what these bands do.”
“They keep you from killing me…but they allow you to hurt me, within reason,” Dorian stroked his hands down Bull’s chest, nearly salivating at the thought of all that power holding him down, abusing and bruising and making him feel powerless.
“An interesting loophole,” said Bull, not responding to Dorian’s touches, “you want me to hurt you?”
“I want you to make me scream,” Dorian panted against Bull’s scarred lips. “You are a captured Qunari veteran, unchained before the feared Archon… fuck me until I bleed, make gag on that fat cock! I want everyone to see bruises around my neck the next morning.”
“You’re fucking insane,” Iron Bull said slowly, hand curling at Dorian’s hip.
Was he? Dorian didn’t feel insane. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was getting an excellent idea actually, bring in an artist and have them produce a series of pictures of him getting fucked wide open by the Iron Bull, then have those delivered post haste to the Pavus estate with orders to have them hung in the dining room! He could see it now, old grey haired Halward shakily eating his dinner as pictures of his son getting fucked by a Qunari surrounded him. What would he think? He should feel such pride.
Without warning a big hand backhanded him across the face, sending Dorian crashing to the floor, head slamming against the tile as all his breath left his body. The world spun as he stared blearily up at Iron Bull, he was marveling at the bands on his wrists. Perhaps he hadn’t believed Dorian. Laughter bubbled up in Dorian’s throat, breaking free in unpleasant gasps and titters.
LOOK AT ME NOW, FATHER!
A hand clenched in Dorian’s hair, his laughter abruptly silenced by a cock thrusting into his mouth. Dorian gagged, hands coming up to press against Bull’s thighs, to feel the muscles sliding under his thick skin as he thrust forward. Iron Bull pulled back, prick slipping from between Dorian’s lips in a burst of renewed laughter. “You are one crazy son of a bitch,” said Bull, grabbing Dorian up and tossing him easily onto the bed.
Two hours later, Dorian was passed out over the sheets. He had bites and scratches bleeding sluggishly, bruises blooming brightly over his neck, one eye black swollen shut. Hissrad had figured out the limits of the braces, he could break no bones, he could do no permanent damage. Everything else seemed on the table. He stood at the window, naked but for the bands warm on his skin. The sun was rising over the horizon, breaking through some crumbling ruin in the distance.
He had come here to assassinate the Archon, but now Hissrad was thinking it would be better for the Qunari if he lived. All he needed were some nudges in the right direction and Hissrad could sit back and watch the entire system crumble from the inside out. In the meantime, he was no longer Hissrad, he was Iron Bull. Archon Pavus’ trusted guard and bed slave. He looked over his shoulder at Dorian’s sleeping form, lips quirking into a smirk, he would even enjoy his time here. Iron Bull took one last look at the sunrise then crawled back into bed, tucking Dorian’s smaller body against him.
He looked over Dorian’s shoulder to see a violin sitting against the wall, just waiting to be played.
“Hmmm,” Dorian tented his fingers, one leg thrown over the arm of his throne while the other curled under him. It was a child’s position, and he showed a child’s disdain for the proceedings. It made the men and women uneasy to see their Archon, not old and regal, but young and fickle, dispensing his haphazard justice. Once upon a time he’d actually attempted to judge fairly, but he’d soon realized that there was no fairness in the rot of Tevinter politics. Standing like a wall beside the throne was Iron Bull, equipped with a giant axe strapped to his back and a newly made brace for his bad leg.
(art by Skypilot)
Dorian had provided him with a letter that stated whatever he wanted, he got. Iron Bull had had a truly hideous pair of pants tailored, some leather work done for a belt, harness, and boots, as well as his metal brace. The first tailor had refused to serve a Qunari despite Dorian’s letter. He was now sealed inside his house with his mouth sewn shut before a lavish feast. Everyone else had been quite eager to do whatever Bull asked after that.
No doubt any assassins that lurked in the shadows were thinking twice with Bull standing beside him. Dorian found he quite enjoyed the hateful whispers already spreading through court. His pictures for Halward were already getting produced.
“Sir, please, I implore you I-”
Dorian yawned widely, stretching over his throne, toes pointing stiffly as he brought his arms over his head. He felt Bull’s belly as he stretched and hummed happily, fingers slipping down warm flesh before he curled back in on himself, turning his eyes on the two men shivering below his dais. “Remind me,” he said the guard escorting the two, “what these two have been accused of.”
“These two Chantry brothers have been accused of raping Chantry slaves,” said the guard without inflection.
A punishment for raping slaves was usually a slap on the wrist and wink. Dorian tilted his head back to look up at Bull, unmoving beside him. His face was perfectly unreadable, but Dorian liked to think this was a crime he would find distasteful. The guards and the accused shuffled awkwardly as Dorian picked something out of his teeth, eyes never leaving Bull.
“How many slaves?” asked Dorian at last, sitting back up with a sigh.
“We would never-” said one Chantry brother quickly.
“None, we’re falsely accused!” the other said.
“No exact numbers,” said the guard, “we think upward of thirty.”
“Fascinating,” said Dorian, “thirty or more Chantry slaves raped, probably more than once. A distasteful crime, don’t you think?” He pushed himself out of his throne, walking gracefully down the steps as the Chantry brothers grovelled on the floor. Iron Bull lumbered just behind him. “Remind me, what was the last punishment I handed out to rapists?” Dorian idly asked the guard, hands clasped behind his back.
The guard swallowed, sweat beading on his brow, “You, ah, had them hung by hooks through their genitals at the front gate.”
“Right right,” Dorian nodded, as if he hadn’t remembered their delightful screams. The Brothers wailed, prostrating themselves before Dorian’s feet. “Rather barbaric of me, wouldn’t you say, Brothers? It’s no punishment fit for you both… stop crying, stand up.”
Some hope bloomed in their eyes and they jumped up, brushing themselves off and wiping snot and tears from their faces, “Oh, Your Majesty, thank you thank-” Dorian held up one hand to silence them.
“No, I think instead… I want you-” he pointed to the Brother on the right, “to fuck him,” his finger turned to the Brother on the left, “until he dies.”
There was a stunned silence, the guard was wiping sweat from his brow. The Brothers didn’t seem to comprehend what they were being asked to do. The one on the right let out a stuttering breath, “Sire I don’t…I can’t…”
“You’re right,” Dorian laughed lightly, “he’s not a slave, you’d never get it up. Guard, shove a metal spike through this man’s dick so he can keep it up.”
“NOOOOO! ARCHON PAVUS NOOO DON’T!” The man screamed, voice echoing through the judgement hall as guards grabbed his arms to drag him away, kicking and screaming. The second Brother looked just as shocked, face bereft of blood as he was dragged off as well.
“YOU’LL GET WHAT’S COMING TO YOU, YOU MONSTER!” The Brother screeched as he realized there was no escape from his fate. Dorian smiled, he loved the death threats.
It left him in an excellent mood as the judgements continued. There was a poor man accused of stealing from a Magister. Magister Felini. Dorian had never liked him. He ordered Felini to live naked in the stables while the property and titles were signed over to the Soporati. Then after they left he ordered his guard to board up the stables after Felini had moved in and burn it to the ground.
A thief of fruits fed to wild dogs.
An elven woman hung with her own long hair.
A Magister complaining about a stable hand being lazy ordered to have said stable hand tied down to be trampled by horses until dead. Rather tragic as the stable hand was the man’s non-magical son.
By the end of the day Dorian was bored, handing out punishments based on ideas drawn from a sack, no matter what the crime was. He hated this part of the week. Finally the last screaming and crying accused was dragged from the hall, leaving Dorian alone with Bull who had grown stiffer and stiffer as the day wore on.
“You don’t really want Tevinter to burn,” said Iron Bull, sounding disgusted.
“Excuse me?” Dorian snarled, sitting up in his throne. How dare Bull doubt his dedication to destroying his homeland!
“Look at you,” Bull said mockingly, coming around the throne to slam one hand beside Dorian’s head, “playing the despot. What is it going to get you besides a knife in the back? They’ll replace you and everything will return to normal. You’ll be a footnote in Imperium history, Mad Archon Pavus. Remembered for fucking around before we stuck the bastard.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Dorian snapped, but he winced as Bull leaned in, teeth bared. “I-I’m destroying the Magisterium, piece by piece!”
“You’re a spoiled child throwing a bloody tantrum,” Iron Bull said disdainfully, “why take down something from the top, when a move from the bottom could send it toppling all at once? You have no fucking clue what you’re doing, and you’re too goddamn insane to care.”
Dorian was breathing harshly, trembling as Iron Bull pinned him against the throne. His black eye throbbed, his throat sore as he swallowed. He hated to admit it, but Bull had a point. He was going about this all wrong, the top would always repair itself if left alone… but if it had no more support… it would collapse completely….
Slaves…had had to go after the slaves. Dorian burst into laughter, hands folding over his belly as he screamed with humor. The slaves! The slaves! How had he not seen it before? Iron Bull slapped his cheek, silencing him with a startled gasp. They stared each other down for half a second, and then Bull’s hands were ripping off his robes, spreading his legs as he fucked Dorian in his throne, teeth sinking with a burst of blood into his shoulder. Dorian screamed, nails scrabbling against Bull’s shoulders as he was fucked, tears of pain and pleasure pricking the corners of his eyes. Yes yes yes!
Dorian came first as Bull’s claws raked bloody furrows in his back. The beast fucked him mercilessly through it, pulling out just to grab Dorian by the hair and wrench him with a loud crack onto his knees. Pain shot from his legs up his spine, the tile unforgiving below him. Iron Bull unforgiving above him. His mouth was stuffed with hard Qunari cock, Bull ruthlessly fucking his mouth until he gagged and sobbed, head spinning for want of air. When he finally came it was with a grunt, hand forcing Dorian’s head to remain against his crotch, long fat cock pulsing down the back of his throat.
Dorian slumped to the floor when Bull stepped back, hardly able to breathe. He coughed up a lungful of spunk, gasping and snorting as some of it went into his sinus and dripped from his nose along with a trickle of blood. His legs were bonelesss, bruises already blooming on his cheek and both his abused knees. Iron Bull shuffled about for bit, but Dorian could only stare blankly at his feet, watching light glint off the metal of his brace.
Finally big, strong arms curled under him, lifting him as if he weighed nothing at all. Dorian curled against his chest, taking a shuddering breath of the Qunari’s scent; sex and sweat and fresh leather.
“I am in a good position to learn more of the movement of slaves,” said Bull, “I will learn of slave resistances, we can arm them, give them information to do some real damage.”
“Yes,” Dorian whispered, head still spinning. Weapons…information… and….
Motivation. Dorian passed out with a crooked smile on his face.
Iron Bull had first thought Dorian unpredictable, but now Bull found he could fairly accurately guess how Dorian would react in any given situation. Bull wasn’t sure if he should be worried about that. There were a few things that drove Dorian, a bone deep bitterness that twisted his handsome face, a childish glee at the suffering of those who had made him suffer at some point, and the last bit was just pure madness. Archon Pavus was broken in a deeply fundamental way. Iron Bull wondered if he craved the bites and bruises, the pain and domination, as a classically depraved Tevinter way of punishing himself for all the things he’d done.
It was hard to be sure, Iron Bull didn’t want to think too much about what was going on in Dorian’s mind. He’d been afraid of a lot during his years in Seheron, but nothing kept him awake at night like wondering what sort of disgusting rot dripped and festered just behind Dorian’s glittering grey eyes. Someone had broken this man, and now he was on a quest to break everyone else. Tevinter surely regret rising him to Archon, but they never could have known what Dorian would become. Iron Bull had already killed three assassins since taking up his place at Dorian’s side, each more desperate than the last.
Dorian didn’t seem overly worried about them, treating them as little more than flies to be swat away. It spoke of an arrogance, or perhaps a complete lack of fear when it came to death. Dorian rocketed towards death with a wild, almost perversely joyful, abandon. In hindsight, the Qunari could have just waited for him to kill himself, but Bull needed him alive a little bit longer. Dorian was letting him wander further afield to speak to slaves, offering delicious information from the Archon himself. It didn’t take long before he had some cautious elven ears and the ability to point them to carefully placed caches of enchanted weapons. When none of the caches were traps, they were much more eager to trust him.
Iron Bull was still somewhat limited by the leash Dorian kept him on, either afraid or reluctant to let him go too far. Any time away from the madman was like a breath of fresh air before walking willingly back into a poisonous gas.
“Do you know what drives rebellion?” asked Dorian idly, sitting at his vanity as he removed the make up around his eyes with a damp rag.
Iron Bull grunted, staring out the window at the darkening sky. Dorian apparently didn’t need his feedback because he continued anyway.
“Opposition,” said Dorian, hissing as he touched the bright yellow bruise around his eye. “The greater the opposition, the stronger the rebellion.”
“What’s your point?” Iron Bull growled, turning around to watch Dorian rise gracefully to his feet.
“My point, dear Bull,” said Dorian, robe slipping off with a slow shrug of his shoulders, “is with one great push, we can get the newly armed, newly informed, rebellion screaming for blood.“ His body was like a work of art, and Iron Bull hated the lust that burned in his belly at the sight of Dorian naked. He was covered with bruises in the shape of hands, bites scabbing up, one wrist delicate from a spraining. Iron Bull had never been rougher with a lover, but even if Dorian had not begged for the treatment, there was something about the glint in his eye that had Bull wanting to hurt him. He did not care for the man Dorian made him be.
“Give me time to speak to the slaves, they have all the push they need as it is,” said Iron Bull with a scowl. He didn’t like Dorian’s train of thought. However he was easy to manipulate, perhaps Bull could drive whatever new lunacy had settled in his mind out. “Get on your knees,” he said gruffly, sickened at the thrill he got when Dorian, the Imperial Archon, obeyed without hesitation. He walked forward, still fully clothed and stopped just before Dorian, staring down at him as the man stared back up at him.
Bull snapped his fingers and pointed at Dorian’s bad wrist, grabbing it in his fist the moment it was obediently raised. He squeezed and Dorian squealed like a stuck hog, back arching and cock swelling between his spread thighs. Iron Bull licked his lips, breath picking up. He had never taken pleasure in his partners’ pain. Always it had been about their pleasure… Dorian was dragging him down like sea grass wrapping around his legs as he tried to swim to the surface of a lake. He was going to drown here in Tevinter.
Dorian fell under the weight of his lust and hatred, clinging desperately the entire time.
The next day found them actually leaving the Imperial Palace, Dorian whistling cheerily even with a brace of bandages around his forearm from Bull’s abuse. He had several new bites and bruises, though Bull had stopped hitting him in the face. He found Dorian’s smiles more disconcerting when half his face was black and blue.
“Where are we going?” asked Iron Bull, eyes darting about for assassins in the crowd. He felt completely exposed, but if Dorian was nervous about attempts on his life out in the open, he didn’t show it. People whispered behind their hands as Dorian approached a carriage pulled by snorting black stallions. None of the whispers were kind. Many people fled the area, too afraid to even be around Dorian much less whisper about him. Considering his proclivity for creative and random tortures, Iron Bull could hardly blame them.
“You will see soon, my Bull,” said Dorian slyly, entering the carriage and snapping the door shut behind him.
Iron Bull tried to ignore the dread sitting heavy in his bones as he seated himself on the back of the carriage, a place for a slave…though perhaps not one so large as he. Iron Bull could see in all directions from here, keeping a close eye out for ambushes as the stallions galloped them out of the city and further into the rocky countryside. If Iron Bull recalled his Tevinter geography correctly, there were only two things in this direction. A lyrium mine or the ocean. Iron Bull did not think they were going to the ocean.
However the carriage rattled past the entrance to the mine without pausing, and now Bull couldn’t quite predict where Dorian planned to take them. The carriage stopped in the middle of the clearing and Iron Bull hopped down with his axe held in both hands as Dorian descended from the cab. “Wait right here,” he ordered to the driver before waving Bull to follow him into the scraggly woods.
They walked in silence for some time, the only sounds the snapping of dry twigs under their feet. Bull finally put his axe back, leaving his hands free to snap branches away from his face. The thick, wet Tevinter heat was like another weight on his shoulders, drenching him in sweat by the time they finally reached a stop. Dorian was sweating as well, but he didn’t seem bothered if the makeup around his eyes smeared a little.
They were in the start of a rocky ravine, walls rising up around them to just above the tips of Bull’s horns, but only getting higher before them. The whole place smelled… odd… it put Bull on edge and he almost grabbed the hilt of his axe again.
“How much do you know about this lyrium mine?” asked Dorian idly, hands crossed behind his back.
“That it exists,” Bull growled, head turning this way and that. Something was raising his hackles, and he hated that he couldn’t put his finger on it.
“To be expected,” said Dorian, starting to dig around in his robes for something, “you see, around sixty years ago while mining lyrium, the dwarves ran into a vein of something else. A gas. They abandoned the mine and Tevinter brought in slaves to work it. It is one of our most profitable mines…and the most dangerous. A single spark and the gas will alight, and burn for…well…” Dorian laughed a little too high, “I suppose forever!”
What the fuck was he planning? They were nowhere near the mine…were they? Dorian pulled out a tiny glass ball, a little fire flickering within. Iron Bull froze, eyes darting down to see the little hole in the ground at Dorian’s feet, then back up at Dorian who was grinning like a lunatic, eyes too bright. Bull lunged forward to try and stop him, but Dorian let the little glass ball go, and it slipped right into the hole. He growled right in his face, hands bruising on his arms as he hauled Dorian against his chest.
“What the FUCK have you done?!” he yelled, shaking Dorian like a rag doll.
Dorian laughed with abandon, “The slaves will think the Magisters planned all this! I planted letters at the caches! Ha ha…AHAHA!” Iron Bull pulled his fist back to slam it into Dorian’s bared throat, but the braces at his wrists froze him in place until he relaxed. Dorian’s eyes lit up as if he knew exactly what was going through Bull’s head.
Iron Bull’s rage was interrupted as fire exploded from the hole, now behind them, and the entire earth shook with a distant roar. Dorian clung to him as they rocked on their feet, screams of horror coming from the entrance to the mine. Dorian was mad, yes, a monster, yes, but he was not stupid. In one single move he had crippled Tevinter’s biggest lyrium mine and given the slave rebellion something to go mad over. Iron Bull realized he would have to carry the weight of all those dead slaves on his back, it was he who had wormed the idea into Dorian’s head, where it had warped into what he saw now.
“We should go,” said Dorian, looking far too pleased with himself.
Iron Bull agreed, and hated himself for escorting Dorian to the carriage instead of slitting his throat and leaving him to rot in the ravine. He never thought he would wish this, but he craved what now seemed simple on the blood-soaked shores of Seheron. He craved the sanity of war. What was Dorian doing to him?
Iron Bull could not stop shivering as he rode with Dorian back to the palace. He’d forced himself to look when they galloped past the entrance to the mine, stomach clenching with horror to see some of the survivors wailing with agony as their skin cracked from their faces, clothes burned to flesh. They were survivors for the moment, casualties in the end. The ground rocked with the force of explosions underground, no doubt the heat setting off a vein of lyrium.
He had always been very good about compartmentalizing and understanding his own emotions, but now rage and sorrow swirled in him uncontrollably. He wanted to jump off this carriage, grab Dorian by the neck and squeeze until that mad light died in his eyes. Or he just wanted to walk away, leave Dorian to his descent. Alone. Abandon the Qun and everything else just to flee from this madman. This must be what it feels like to be Tal-Vashoth. Iron Bull did neither, body moving without thought as he jumped off the carriage when they arrived, even going so far as to open the door for Dorian so he could step out.
Dorian walked into the palace and immediately grabbed one of his nervous aides, “I want all the Magisters gathered here tomorrow, I’m throwing a lavish party. They should be informed that I have something very… illuminating to say.”
“Yes, sir, of course sir,” said the man, head bobbing in constant shallow bows as he backed away.
“Come,” said Dorian haughtily, waving at Bull from over his shoulder, “I have an itch that needs scratching.”
It was as if the mine had never happened, there was no weight on Dorian’s shoulders from the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people he had just killed. Iron Bull growled under his breath, fists clenching at his sides. The urge to make him suffer sat heavy in Bull’s chest, a fist around his heart that nearly had him throwing up. Think of the Qun. Think of duty. He was doing what was demanded of him, he was following orders… sort of. His orders had been assassination…what would have changed if Dorian had been killed all those weeks ago?
He would have done all those worthless Magisters a favor, a new, more stable Archon would have been raised. There would have been no progress for the Qunari.
There wouldn’t be a lyrium mine filled with charred corpses.
For once, Iron Bull had no idea if what he was doing was the right thing, if this was what the Qun would have wanted. Such a waste of life… but was it for the greater good? The “greater good”… as if that meant anything at all. Dorian opened the door for him, dismissing the guard with a wave of his hand. Now more than ever Dorian should want protection, but he didn’t even raise extra wards on his door. The usual ones sprang to life and Dorian left them be.
“Don’t tell me my Bull is having a crisis of conscious,” said Dorian, deft fingers undoing all the various belts and straps that made up his fashionable outfit. "It was you, after all, who told me I should destroy Tevinter from the bottom up.“
"Not like this,” Iron Bull growled, hand flexing in and out of a fist, “never like this.”
“Then like what?” Dorian demanded, robe falling off with a shrug of his shoulders, leaving him naked in the middle of the room. "Did you want to just watch slaves and slaveholders squabble for the next fifty years? Did you really think the slave rebellion was big enough to do anything but irritate?“ Dorian smiled, gliding over to Bull, placing one hand on his chest, "I have supplied them, I have enraged them, I have made it clear they have no option but to fight. Slaves who once would have stood back will now take up arms. What would have taken years will take months. Now this candle burns at both ends.”
“You’re mad,” Iron Bull snarled, grabbing Dorian’s wrist to wrench it off his skin.
“Then punish me,” Dorian whispered, eyes too bright, nearly feverish as he stared up at Bull, “make me sorry for what I’ve done.”
Iron Bull hated the thrill he got when his palm connected with Dorian’s face, sending him stumbling into his vanity with a crash, glass bottles rolling to the floor to shatter and release their fragrant perfumes. Dorian sucked in a breath, letting out an involuntary sob when he wrenched his bad wrist, cradling it against his chest. To Iron Bull’s disgust he could feel his cock stirring, something about Dorian’s pain excited him. Dorian himself was flushed with arousal, prick straining between his shivering legs.
Dorian took every hit with a loud cry, pleasure and pain seemed to have no separation for him. Pain was pleasure. It infuriated Iron Bull, the rage that got him through so many battles now clouding his vision. How dare Dorian find solace through his agony? That thought cleared his eyes just enough to stare down at the man before him. Dorian was openly sobbing with pain, his wrist grinding in Bull’s grasp. He had blood dripping from his nose and mouth, smearing along his chin and chest. Tears tracked through the mess, the kohl Dorian had lined his eyes with staining his cheeks black.
“No,” Bull breathed, letting go of Dorian as if burned, sending him sprawling across the floor.
“Don’t you dare stop!” Dorian gasped out, sitting up on one elbow, reaching out for Iron Bull as if he were water in a desert.
“I can’t do this!” Bull snarled, turning on his heel to slam his palms down on the window sill, glaring out at the landscape beyond. He could do this. That was what scared him the most. "I won’t be that kind of man!“
"You already are,” said Dorian petulantly, whimpering as he tried to push himself to his feet, “you’re just pretending otherwise!” Bull didn’t turn around, but he could hear Dorian stumble forward, breath thick with blood and snot. Hot hands pressed against his back, a forehead resting against his sweaty skin. "You crave my debasement. I’m offering it. Give it to me, Iron Bull.
“I won’t be your rite of contrition.” Bull shivered as one of those hands reached around to grip the base of his cock. Still hard. Dorian stroked him slowly, fingers squeezing near the glan, rubbing along the head and smearing precum down the shaft. Bull huffed, ducking his head between his shoulders as Dorian slowly stroked him.
“There will be no repentance for me,“ Dorian whispered, lips trailing along Bull’s back. “I will never pay for my crimes, unless you do it yourself.“
Bull could feel blood smearing along his skin and shivered, fingers cracking the wood under his hand. Slowly he turned around, wrapping one hand around Dorian’s throat and then backing him towards the bed…
Iron Bull stood still as a statue beside Dorian’s throne. Dorian was wearing an elaborate robe with a collar that dipped nearly down to his belly, showing off the violent bruises around his neck. Shame sat like a rock in Bull’s belly, but not about what he’d done. About enjoying it… and feeling nothing but sick pleasure when it was over. Iron Bull told himself that when this was all over he could go to the Re-Educators, he could be made clean again. It sounded like a lie in his own head.
Below the dais Magisters mingled and whispered to each other, the tables that groaned with food left untouched. The mood in the room was thick with tension, but Dorian didn’t seem to notice…or care. He had a glass of wine in one hand, reclining sideways on his throne and murmuring to himself as he drank, a bit of red liquid dribbling down his chin.
Iron Bull could sense a fight coming, could feel the tingling in the back of his neck. He should step to the side and let the Magisters just kill Dorian. His plans were already well within motion, even at the Imperial Palace elven slaves were going missing. There were reports all over the country of slave revolts killing masters… and it had been but a day. This would only gain momentum from here, it could do nothing else. Perhaps the Magisters knew that, maybe they felt as if they had nothing to lose.
He glanced at Dorian to see him picking open one of the scabs on his shoulder, blood trickling down his chest. Iron Bull wrinkled his nose and looked away. Death would be a mercy Dorian didn’t deserve. Let him have it.
The last Magister arrived and the giant doors slammed shut, trapping everyone together. Iron Bull surreptitiously took a step further behind the throne. It was a thick obsidian, like every fucking thing in this ugly palace, and it would make an excellent shield. Magisters were beginning to clump together, each looking at the others and nodding as if to say ‘it’s time, it’s time’. Dorian was picking open scabs on his arms now, frowning in concentration and paying no heed to his murderous colleagues.
“Archon Pavus!” called out their designated speaker, taking one step out of the crowed. He had a good voice for it, Bull thought, loud and commanding. He’d been chosen for a reason.
Dorian waved one hand without looking up, “Eat, drink, be merry! Don’t let me stop you.”
Sounds of frustration from the mass. Iron Bull could feel the ambient magic starting to coalesce in the room. Yet still Dorian did not react. He had to feel it, he was the Archon, one of the most powerful mages in all of Thedas. Yet…and yet… Iron Bull realized with dawning horror that he’d never once seen Dorian use magic. Oh, he’d seen evidence of Dorian’s spells. His forever wards, his laboratory filled with magical artifacts.
“If you don’t want to talk, we can skip straight to ending your reign of terror!” snarled the speaker, raising his staff high. Almost in unison every Magister followed suit, until Iron Bull was looking out over a sea of glowing crystals and orbs. If Iron Bull had any mind to save Dorian he would have sprung into action about now, but he didn’t. He could slip out the back during the bloodbath. Or maybe Dorian wouldn’t fight back, maybe he couldn’t.
There was a tense moment of silence, as if they were waiting for Dorian to do or say something. He said nothing, did nothing. The speaker threw his staff forward, and a snake made of pure flame rushed forward, jaws open to swallow Dorian whole. Iron Bull ducked down, pressing his back against the throne, eyes darting to any available exit. There was the sound of an explosion and hot air roared past the throne, shaking the entire dais. No flames… Iron Bull stood up and turned around to see a pulsating, glowing red barrier all around them.
The blood that had smeared down Dorian’s chest and arms was gone and the barrier disappeared with a shiver. Iron Bull clutched the back of the throne, watching the Magisters hiss with disapproval, as if they had never once used blood magic. Dorian stared them down, daring them to attack again.
“You’ve grown too fat!” Dorian snarled, “This whole country is a bloated corpse and you the wriggling, slimy maggots feeding off the flesh!”
“How DARE YOU!” screamed a Magister in the back of the room. She shot a spell at Dorian, he deflected with a wave of his arm, sending it into a support pillar which exploded and sent shrapnel flying into the screaming crowd. Dorian had a shimmering golden barrier up in less than a second, protecting both him and Bull from the collateral damage.
Iron Bull had spent nearly a decade in Seheron, he’d seen his share of battles break into chaos in the span of a single breath. This was… something different. Dorian pulled a knife out of his robes at the same moment that hundreds of accomplished Tevinter Magisters all cast their killing blows at once. The golden barrier shattered with the sound of breaking glass, but before a single spell could hit any of them blood was flying from Dorian’s arm into another barrier, to catch the last of the spells. He cast with a speed and precision that was terrifying, brow furrowed with pure concentration.
Dorian hissed something out, more blood disappearing from his arm, and pointed two fingers at the Speaker. He exploded, blood flying in every direction. That was when Iron Bull felt as if he’d descended into the Fade, his own personal Hell of demons and blood magic. A lust demon burst from the man’s corpse, screaming with delight at being released.
It was a massacre, with every death another demon appeared and Dorian’s spells of death and destruction gained power. Iron Bull dropped to his knees, vomiting his breakfast all over the floor. There was too much pressure, pressing him down…down… down… Bull screamed, pressing his palms against his ears as the fade seemed to tear apart around them, demons laughing, men and women screaming in agony as they were ripped apart by Dorian with every wave of his arm. Dorian was laughing. Of course he was laughing.
It was over as soon as it had begun. Iron Bull wretched, throwing up again, arm shaking so bad he almost fell into his own sick. He glanced up, watching the blood pool and drip from every inch of the room. The entire room looked flooded with blood just by looking through Dorian’s barrier. Lust demons floated idly, occasionally squabbling over a body. None of them were…together enough… to possess. Dorian sat down with a wild grin on his face, the cuts on his arms already healed. With a wave of his hand the demons were dismissed, sucked screaming back into the fade.
Dorian and Iron Bull were left alone in the empty room, only the sound of Bull’s harsh breathing breaking the silence.
“Plenty of help you were,” said Dorian, glancing over at Bull with a smirk.
“You’re a monster,” Bull gasped, stumbling to his feet.
“I am, aren’t I?” Dorian mused. “Well, it will all be over soon.”
“What now?” Bull snarled, “What else could you possibly do!?”
The entire building shook as something exploded, almost sending Bull back to the ground with a yell of shock. Dorian smiled, looking almost serene, “I can die.”
VI. The End
There was another explosion, closer this time, and the whole room seemed to rock under Bull’s feet as if a great beast were trying to shrug the entire palace off its shoulders. Dorian waited for it to subsist before pushing himself to his feet, “Come, Bull,” he said, curling a finger at him, “we don’t want to be found here.”
Iron Bull happily turned away from the bloody massacre stinking up the room and followed Dorian up the stairs. The only way out from here was through the big doors, and Iron Bull had no inclination to fight through a legion of furious slaves. He was a powerful warrior, but whatever they were using to shake the whole palace would tear him apart as well as anything else. The further up they went, the small the tremors became. “Why bother going upstairs?” Bull growled, “I thought you wanted to do us all a favor and die?”
“As if I’d die by letting a bunch of uneducated slaves tear me apart,” sneered Dorian.
Iron Bull growled, eyes darting about as he tried to think of an escape plan. Dorian’s rooms were too high up for him to jump out the window, assuming he could even squeeze out there. Which he probably couldn’t. There were plenty of service tunnels the slaves knew, but Bull could only imagine they were either blocked or being actively used by the attackers.
So he followed Dorian upstairs, for lack of a better plan. Maybe he would get lucky and Dorian would let Bull kill him. Or let his guard down. Same thing. The guard usually posted outside of Dorian’s room was gone, but Dorian made no comment as he ushered Bull into his bedroom, placing up the usual wards. Iron Bull cracked his knuckles the moment the door was shut, turning on Dorian and shoving him against the wall.
“Why Bull, I don’t know if we have time for that,” Dorian smirked.
“I’m going to snap that skinny little neck,” Iron Bull hissed, “you deserve so much worse but I don’t think we have time.” He lifted his hands, fingers extended. He didn’t care about the braces, he would work past their limitations he would- Dorian looked him in the eye and Bull froze, unable to move a muscle as magic rooted him in place.
“I’m afraid you don’t get to kill me either,” said Dorian, ducking under Bull’s arm, “and if you want to stop acting like an animal, I can give you a way to survive.”
As if to drive the urgency of their situation home, the next explosion actually shook the floor. Iron Bull grit his teeth so tightly his head ached, but self preservation won out in the end. He would not be a sacrificial lamb, and he wasn’t suicidal. If Dorian had a way out then Bull wanted to see it. “Fine,” he snapped. His body was freed with an awkward lurch and he almost slammed into the door. “What’s to stop all those angry slaves running up here to rip you apart?” asked Bull, turning around to glare at Dorian.
“Oh, nothing,” Dorian laughed lightly, “except their own sense of self preservation. Only way up here is through that… exciting party. They’ll see where the blood pooled against the edge of the barrier and know I survived. What slave wants to confront the Archon? So I gave them… an alternative method in their caches.”
Another explosion, closer, forcing Bull to reach out and steady himself against the door. He could only image what that alternative method was. “Alright, you maniac,” Bull growled, “how am I getting out of here?”
He expected Dorian to say something mad, such as ‘your death!’ or ‘the sweet release of this big knife!’ but instead he curled his finger to indicate Bull should follow him before disappearing into his laboratory.
Iron Bull had spent a little time looking through the laboratory, but there had been nothing he could use and most of it was stuff he didn’t even understand. Dorian was standing before whatever was wrapped up in crushed black velvet, one hand curled in the fabric as Bull walked in. With one flick of his wrist the velvet pooled on the floor, reveling a giant mirror… that showed no reflection.
“This is an Eluvian,” said Dorian fondly, rubbing the elaborate wooden carvings that made up the frame, “The same Magister who gave me you, gave me this many years ago. It was broken when he gave it to me, but I had a Dalish keeper captured and…ah… persuaded them to fix it for me.”
Iron Bull didn’t want to know. “So this is my…escape?” he stepped forward, fingers pressing against the glass. It felt far too cold, but his fingers did not sink through it. “How does it work?” Fuck this freaky magic bullshit, once all this was over Bull never wanted to be around another mage again.
“I have to activate it,” said Dorian, “you know, since clearing its corruption I’ve never once used it. However in theory when you enter the Eluvian you should be able to exit any other working Eluvian.”
“Should be?” Iron Bull growled, jerking his fingers away from the glass.
Dorian shrugged, completely unconcerned, “Use it or not, you can maybe die in the mirror, or for sure die with me.” He smiled, stepping forward to run his hand down Bull’s chest, “Your corpse will burn just as well as mine.”
Bull slapped Dorian’s hand away with a sound of disgust, he refused to die in here… but he also did not want to walk into that ancient elven mirror. He watched Dorian touch the glass, whispering something under his breath. The reflection-less glass flickered and then began to shimmer. A low hum picked up around them, making the hair on the back of Bull’s neck stand on end.
“What’s to stop me from grabbing you and taking you with me?” asked Bull lowly, turning as Dorian glided out of the room, completely unconcerned. “Taking you to Par Vollen and making you pay for your crimes?”
“No,” Dorian turned on his heel to glare at Bull. With just a look Bull felt Dorian’s will pressing down against his shoulders, bad knee shaking and threatening to give out. “No one gets to make this choice for me!” Dorian said darkly, fists clenched at his sides, “this will be the only choice I ever get to make for myself!”
They stared each other down for one tense moment, Bull sweating with the effort of keeping himself from falling to his knees. Just before his legs gave out, Dorian turned around and stormed out, letting Bull suck in a gasping breath, feeling as if he could float off the floor without the weight of Dorian’s magic on him. He followed him, standing in the doorway to watch as he walked over to his dusty violin, still sitting in the same place it had since Bull had first seen it. Dorian had never once played it, much less practiced, since Bull had first arrived.
It was a gorgeous instrument, all sexy curves made of some kind of rich rosewood. Dorian tucked the bow under one arm, fingers playing with the strings to let out small plink plink plinks. Dorian’s touch was gentle, almost loving, as he wiped away dust and started to tune it, running the bow gracefully across the strings before twisting the tuning pegs. The look on Dorian’s face was unlike anything Bull had ever seen. He looked… happy, content, even.
“Everything up until now has been dictated by someone else,” said Dorian between tuning, “but not this. My death will be my own.” Iron Bull said nothing, but he didn’t need to. He had a feeling Dorian would be speaking even if he wasn’t here. “I only wanted to be a good son, for him to be proud of me. So I… I didn’t run away when I learned about his plans for me.”
A deep breath.
Plink plink plink.
“It was supposed to fix me,” he finally acknowledged Bull with a sly look, “You may have noticed my tastes run to the more…” his eyes crawled up Bull’s body, making his skin tingle unpleasantly even as his belly clenched, “…masculine. I lay there with the taste of blood in my mouth and I screamed on the inside.” Dorian smiled wryly, running his bow across the strings tunelessly before returning to making minute adjustments to the pegs. “I suppose the ritual could have turned me into a drooling vegetable…but it didn’t. It did nothing.”
His own father had turned blood magic on his son. Suddenly all of it made sense, the ritual had driven him mad.
“I know what you’re thinking,” said Dorian lightly, “and wouldn’t that make a convenient story? But no. I did not… become the man I am today at that date and time. The ritual was a failure. I still refused to marry my betrothed, I just… couldn’t. So I thought…” Dorian stared into the distance, eyes on the door. Iron Bull followed his gaze and was shocked to see fire crawling under the door. It caught on the carpet, and then spread to a tapestry on the wall.
“I thought I could become Archon and still make him proud without sacrificing who I am. I thought I could make a difference.” The room was getting unbearably hot, Iron Bull wiped the sweat from his forehead, glancing back at the shimmering mirror. “Ah well,” Dorian continued, letting out a muffled little titter, “I suppose I did make a difference in the end. They’ll never forget me. The Pavus name will live on for all eternity, just as Father wanted.”
The heat was growing oppressive. Iron Bull felt as if he could hardly breathe. The fire was growing, starting its slow crawl forward. Dorian sat delicately on the side of the bed, tucking the violin under his chin and placing the bow gently against the strings. He’d made his confession, with Iron Bull as his suicide note.
With a deep breath he began to play. The melody was slow and haunting, Dorian’s fingers darting gracefully up and down the neck as his bow made the violin purr. Dorian’s Lament. His final will and testament in song. Iron Bull could still grab him, crack him on the back of the head, and drag him through the Eluvian. His fingers twitched with the urge even as the air grew thin as the fire devoured the oxygen in the room.
Iron Bull let out a slow breath and relaxed. What was the point? He was…tired. Tired of everything. If Dorian wanted to burn to death then let him. Iron Bull was done, done with it all. There was the sound of something cracking and Bull turned his head just as the window exploded inward, the growing pressure too much for it. Glass shards shot into the room, slicing through Bull’s flesh, one shard piercing his eye. Bull screamed and stumbled back into the laboratory at the same moment that the rush of oxygen had the fire exploding over the room. He had to leave now, or die.
Iron Bull stumbled, half blind, through the mirror with the discordant sound of Dorian’s violin screeching to a halt, so Dorian’s own screams could start.
Dorian’s Lament indeed.
He could hardly see, one good eye taking in a circle of broken mirrors. There were only a few that still looked usable, and Bull ran bellowing towards the first one he saw. He would not die today! He did not give himself time to over think anything as he ran through the mirror… and then nearly crashed into a startled black-haired woman in an Orlesian gown.
She yelled something and Iron Bull was frozen in place, inches away from her pale face. “Who are you?” she demanded, backing away, one hand against her breast as she caught her breath, “where did… a Qunari coming out of my Eluvian?!”
Iron Bull took in a deep breath, using his training to fight past the pain. This was powerful magic, and if he didn’t want to end up as a smear on the fancy carpet he’d have to let her know he wasn’t a threat…to her. “My name is Iron…” no…that wasn’t his name. That wasn’t who he was. “I am Hissrad.” That didn’t feel like his name anymore either.
“Hissrad,” the woman mused, and her accent was not Orlesian even if her gown was, “‘tis a Ben-Hassrath title. What t’would a Ben-Hassrath agent be doing running bloody out of an ancient elven artifact?”
“I’ll tell you everything,” said Hissrad honestly, why bother hiding it? The ravens were probably already flying. If he told this woman before she knew then it would lend credence to his story. “First I would like healing… and to be released. I’m not here to hurt you.”
The woman mulled it over, hands clasped before her. Finally with a flick of her wrist Hissrad was released, sucking in a hard breath as his muscles returned to his control. “My name is Morrigan, Occult Adviser to Empress Celene. Come,” she curled a finger at him, smile far too sly for Hissrad’s liking, “I believe we have much to talk about.”
Hissrad turned to look at the shimmering surface of Morrigan’s Eluvian, knowing that Dorian’s would already be shattered from the heat. Dorian long dead, fire consuming his lifeless body until nothing remained. Hissrad looked down at the bands on his wrists, watching blood drip from his face to patter against the metal.
“Art thou coming?” asked Morrigan, startling well put-together for someone who had almost been bowled down by a Qunari warrior. Hissrad could respect that. He nodded and reached under the metal bands, finding them brittle under his fingers. They clattered to the floor, and Hissrad stepped over them to follow Morrigan out of the room, a haunting melody echoing in his head.