Tale of the Stranger (or How I Met Selena Hawke)

Chapter 15

Petrice's sermons were horrible, filled with vitriol and spite. She preached against any religion not of the Maker, though was especially vehement against the Qun. Anders and I were sitting with other Lowtown citizens, dressed to blend with the crowd, trying our damnedest not to burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The woman was like a parody of the ultimate Disney villain and I couldn't seem to understand how these people could hang on her every word. I even had to surreptitiously nudge Anders in the ankle more than once when he silently sniggered.

We'd attended three now, each one harder to listen to than the last. But today, we were to be introduced and hopefully we could finally take care of this stupidity once and for all. The sermon ended, the people beginning to file out to return to their everyday lives, Petrice and Varnell standing side by side at the nave, blessing the faithful that dared to approach. The two of us bowed when it was our turn, and I saw Petrice smirk from the corner of my eye.

“Rise, children. There is no need to kneel,” she said in mock sincerity. You could practically hear it dripping from her mouth in sickly sweet lines.

“Thank you, Mother Petrice. It's wonderful to hear someone speak the truth against those heathen horned bastards,” I said, clutching at her hand, my 'husband' halfheartedly pulling at my arms.

“It's sad,” Petrice sighed dramatically. “People are so easily swayed to their indecent ways when if they just embraced the Maker, their spiritual needs could be met.”

I nodded vehemently. I knew I was over selling it, but the idiot seemed to just lap it up, I couldn't help myself. “They took away my brother, they did! Away from his poor wife and son without a word!”

“You poor dear,” Petrice cooed, patting my hand. She turned slightly to her counterpart. “Varnell? Do you think we might assuage this poor woman's fears this evening at the meeting?”

The Templar seemed to think for a moment before nodding and drawing a small sheet of paper from his belt. He handed it to her, who tucked it into my hand. “These are directions to a rally being held this evening. Bring the sheet with you or they won't allow you entry. Eighth bell, no later.”

I nodded and thanked her profusely before 'my husband' dragged me away, grumbling about missing work hours over my foolishness. We continued on this way until we could duck into the Hanged Man and make a mad dash up the stairs to Varric's suite, where we collapsed into chairs and laughed ourselves hoarse.

Varric, seated as he usually was at the head of the table, simply rolled his eyes and continued writing. It took some time to calm our hysterics, laughing until we couldn't breathe, begin to calm down, then catch each others' eye and start all over. By the time we were finally coherent, Varric had finished whatever her had been working on, put his implements away and fetched tankards of Corff's least disgusting swill.

“All right, you two, are we good now?” he asked with a smile, placing drinks before us. I giggled just a bit, but nodded my assent. Anders just took a swig from his mug, then nearly coughed it all back up again.”Pathetic, the two of you. May the Paragons shake their heads in shame.”

“Yeah, yeah, dwarf. You weren't there to see the worst over acting in the history of the Maker. And then there was Selena!” Anders replied, grinning.

“So do we know where they're meeting yet?” The dwarf slid back into his seat, “Or do we need to attend yet another terrible sermon.”

“The rally's tonight. I was hoping to have a bit more time to scope the place out, but we can work around it.” I answered, sitting up straighter and downing the rest of my tankard. Ugh! It's like drinking straight vinegar some days! “Anders, I need you to go to Hawke and let him know that tonight will be the night.”

I found a second slip of paper in one of my pouches and- after stealing one of Varric's pens from the table to a loud 'Hey!'- wrote the address for the mage to take with him. “I'm going to get Fenris and Sebastian. Between the five of us we should be able to free the delegates before they come to lasting harm.” I hope.

Anders took the sheet with a frown, but nodded and walked out without a word. I sat in silence for a moment, then turned to the dwarf.“Varric? Could you do another favour for me? It might take a long time, or might not be possible, but I thought I'd give it a try. And you can't tell the rest of the guys, just in case it can't be done.”

“Well with a lead up like that, how can I say no?” he chuckled, stroking his chest hair. “What do you need, Starlight?”

“Well, I need you to find someone and I'm not even sure that they're in Kirkwall- or even the Free Marches really. Garrett has...a cousin.”

“A cousin? Really? He's never mentioned it.”

“That's because he doesn't know.”

“Ah, it's one of those things, huh?” he smiled, waggling an eyebrow.

“Yeah. Look, Gamlen was in love with a woman by the name of Mara, but he was totally obsessed with some stupid gem or other and she left him. The thing is, she was pregnant at the time and he didn't know. Mara had the baby by herself, a girl named Charade. I'm hoping maybe if you can find them, Garrett and Gamlen and Leandra will get to see them both before Mara dies.”

Varric pulled out a second notebook, one of many throughout his suite and began to write. “Mara. Charade, Gamlen. Around how old?”

“Around the same age as Garrett, give or take.”

Varric continued writing what looked to be almost a list, before turning his attention back to me. “I think it might be doable, though if you can find surnames or where they might have gone it would make the process easier.”

“Thank you, Varric!” I cried, standing and leaning down to hug the dwarf. “Now I gotta go get Fenris and Choir Boy and get to the rendezvous before the mob. See you after?”

“Wouldn't miss it.”

“Ugh! I just stepped in...something.” Fenris hissed, scraping his foot clean on a wooden stair.

“And who told you to come barefoot? Now hush, we're almost ready.” I whispered back to him. Voices echoed throughout our tunnel, only three or four men, guards for the Qunari kidnap victims.

Once we knew where we were heading, Hawke, Fenris, Anders, Sebastian and I had reconnoitred the area, finding several tunnels near where the delegates were being held that we could use as ambush sites. I peeked out around the edge of the tunnel, spying Sebastian from his high vantage point and he nodded. Good, we were a go.

I turned back to Fenris, reaching out to place a finger against his lips. His eyes widened in surprise but he didn't pull back, merely reaching out to hold my wrist “No matter what happens, you keep quiet, okay? If I get caught, I get caught. You wait until the rest get here and take them all out. No heroics.”

The elf's brows drew down but he nodded. I knew he really didn't like this plan, would prefer to just wade in and destroy the people here and free the Qunari, but I didn't want the mob able to come after us at a later date. I moved to pull away, but Fenris did not relinquish my hand. Instead he pulled my palm closer to his mouth and laid down a gentle kiss. “Be safe.”

What the hell? The elf-?Okay, no. No time to worry about this now. I returned to the mouth of our tunnel. Anders, up in a small loft with Sebastian, was already casting a light confusion spell to augment my sorely lacking stealth abilities. Something I was going to have to talk to Isabela about. I padded out as silently as I could, sticking to the shadows, moving to the side of one of the giant warriors, bound against a far wall.

He spotted me, but said nothing when I held a finger to my lips. I reached into a belt pouch a pulled out a tiny knife, easily palmed if I was ever seen by the people I 'liberated' of their coin purses. Kept to a fine edge, it slipped easily through the Qunari's bonds, though I motioned for him not to move. I also cut the tie that bound his weapon from being drawn. These idiots had let the giant's keep their swords, probably so they would feel even more helpless. Sadistic assholes.

I quickly moved down the line, five in all, the last being the Sten delegate, purveyor of words for the Arishok. I was about to cut the tie to his sword when the cry went up. Fuck! I turned just in time to see a pommel coming down. I twisted as much as I was able, taking the brunt to the back of my head instead of a possible killing blow to the temple.

Stars exploded in front of my eyes and dancing dots of darkness filled my field of vision. I fell face first into the hard packed earth and felt the crunch that screamed broken nose. Dammit that hurt! I didn't realize that I had also blacked out until I heard the droning voice of Varnell telling his fanatics how much they were better than the hated Qunari. Okay, so they stuck to the plan. Good. Kill 'em all guys.

“And then they pull one of the faithful into their depravity. Risking her immortal soul in an attempt to free them.” Shit, that's me. I realized that my arms were now bound, hanging above my head on a hook of some sort. My shoulders were screaming from being pulled out of alignment, my head no better for it's throbbing. The Templar stood in front of me, my own little knife to my throat. I turned my head as much as I was able without slicing myself and looked over the Qunari. Knowing what I was looking for, I could see that they were still pretending to be bound, no one had bothered to even check and I grinned. Idiots.

My eye glanced up to the loft and I spotted Anders looking at me with worry. I nodded slightly, even though it pushed the tip if the blade into the skin. Varnell never noticed, too busy ranting about the evils of the Qun.

The fight was over almost before it began. A smoke bomb from Sebastian was all the warning the mob had before all hell broke loose. Anders' magic rained fire and lightning down upon them, roars from Hawke and Fenris- not to mention the now free-to-act Qunari- as people were shredded, arrows slicing into those farther back from the fray.

It was Garrett that came for me from the smoke, smiling through a mask of blood, thankfully none of it his own. I smiled through the pain and his broadened as he reached up to carefully free my arms and take the weight of my body in his. Wrists still bound, I placed my arms around his neck and burrowed my face into his shoulder.

“Well, that was fun,” he chuckled softly.

“Remind me to hit you later.” I whispered, breathing deeply of the scent that was so very Hawke. “Asshole.”

He laughed.

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