Rite of the Maleficarum: Book I


"Careful, mage," Fenris grumbled as Anders not so gently closed the wound on his arm.

"Awfully sensitive for someone who has the emotional capacity of a stone wall. Why didn't you just phase out of the spell's way?" Anders jeered as he finished up. Fenris set his jaw at him, accompanying it with one of his finest glares, that he reserved exclusively for the mage, and hopped off the table. Hawke took his place; she always insisted on having her injuries seen to last. He supposed that was part of what made her a good leader, someone worth following. Fenris rubbed his sore arm and walked over to Varric and Aveline, deep in conversation by the door.

"All I'm saying is, what if that was just one place of worship?" Aveline proposed, "That could have been one of multiple flocks."

"Well if that's true, there was no evidence of it. They kept a tight ship," Fenris remarked.

"Angsty here is right," Varric said, and Fenris glowered at him.

"Keep your ear to the ground, if they're in the city, your guards may catch wind of it," Varric advised.

Aveline nodded and suggested Varric do the same. They continued to discuss the possible outcomes as Fenris's attentions were drawn back to Hawke and Anders. She was laughing at something he said, likely to distract her as he peeled her pauldron off the burn she had received. Hawke didn't flinch, just watched as Anders cut her gambeson to make space around the wound. Hawke said something, looking to Anders expectantly. His retort made her laugh again, and Fenris felt the same ire from the night before bubbling to the surface. He turned as Sebastian tapped him on the shoulder.

"Can we speak privately, Fenris?" he asked politely. Fenris tried to release the scowl from his face before nodding and following the prince out the door and into Darktown. He turned to face Sebastian as he shut the door behind them, but at first the prince said nothing. He just stood with his arms crossed and stared at Fenris.

"Yes?" the elf said after a few very uncomfortable moments.

"Just wondering if there was anything you would like to discuss?" Sebastian sounded a bit accusatory, but Fenris gave him an honest shrug.

"When you came to me this afternoon with so many questions about the Maker? About faith, how to pray? Did that have something to do with Hawke?" Sebastian asked.

Fenris was truly confused, "No, Sebastian, they were honest questions." He changed tones, going on the defensive, "What do you mean 'about Hawke'?"

"We aren't all blind, Fenris. I saw you looking at her in there. We all see you looking at her like that almost every day. Do you think we're stupid?"

Fenris found himself shaking his head. "I don't…" he trailed off, questioning himself. So that's what it was then? He supposed he knew, deep down, but it wasn't like he had previous experiences with which to compare it. He'd never felt anything near to the feelings he had for Hawke, for all he knew they were completely normal friend feelings. Apparently not.

Sebastian must have seen Fenris working through the scenario. His accusatory look changed to one of pity, and he patted the elf on the shoulder, "Sorry I had to be the one to tell you, friend."

He gave him a charming smile and went back into the clinic. Fenris suddenly felt very tired. He followed Sebastian back inside. Anders had finished healing Hawke's wounds, and was using a wet rag to clean the blood off her temple, holding her chin delicately. And she was laughing again. His stomach cringed. The others began to approach Hawke and Anders, and Fenris followed suit.

"What's the plan, boss?" Varric asked, giving Hawke a harsh rasp on her newly healed shoulder. She cringed, and gave Varric a playful punch in return.

"Well, since we weren't very successful at gathering intel, we'll have to start asking around," Hawke said with some trepidation.

"I'll inform the guards, you'll know the moment they hear anything," Aveline announced.

"I'll put out some feelers as well, keep an ear out at the Hanged Man," Varric said.

"Perfect, you needed another excuse to hang around the bar all day," Anders jested.

"Careful, Blondie, I have templar friends, you know," Varric goaded.

"As always, I'll be your eyes and ears at the Chantry, Hawke," Sebastian offered.

"I'll inform my contacts with the mage underground, but they already know to be on the lookout for maleficar," Anders said. Fenris felt slightly awkward, having nothing really to offer to this list of potential leads.

"Great, let's be careful though, we don't want to stir up too much trouble. Maleficarum in these numbers could be very dangerous. We caught them off guard tonight, but we've tipped our hat. If there are more groups, they'll be warned, and they'll be ready," Hawke said as she slid down off the table. The group started going their separate ways as Hawke began to slide some of her armor back on. Anders made another joke, to which she and Aveline laughed heartily. He saw Sebastian watching him from the doorway and looked over. The prince smiled, gave him a favoring nod, and then left with Varric, who gave him a disturbingly coy smile. What was this? Fenris asked himself. He felt like a schoolboy being prodded by his classmates.

"Did you ever encounter anything like this," Hawke asked suddenly, apparently having made her way over to Fenris, "In Tevinter, I mean?"

Fenris shook his head, "Not really, no. It's very strange, indeed."

"Walk up together?" she asked. He gave an agreeing smile and they moved forward, walking in silence for a few moments.

"Hawke," Fenris started, "I'm sorry I can't contribute to the information gathering. I know everyone has their specialties, and I'm not really the… social type."

"I can't contribute either, Fenris. I just sit at home and wait till one of the others brings me information. We're the muscle," she made a flexing pose with her arms, scowling. Fenris smiled, even let out a stray chuckle, but his smile faded when he said, "Just know you can come to me with anything and I'll do what I can to help."

Hawke nodded, looking slightly concerned, and they walked a few more paces in silence.

"Are you alright, Fenris? You seem a little off lately."

"I'm great, Hawke. Good, I mean. Fine," he all but stammered, "I mean, things are fine. I've had a little bit of a… crisis of faith, lately, that's all," he admitted.

"Oh," Hawke feigned solemnity, "That certainly does sound serious."

Fenris gave her a level look, "I don't need brooding jokes from you too."

Hawke laughed, "Hey, I didn't say anything. You know what I've heard is great for a crisis of faith?" Fenris looked at her expectantly.

"That dry Antivan wine," she licked her lips and nodded as if it was a great wisdom passed down through the generations.

Fenris laughed, "Ah, well I'll have to check the cellar for more, but I'm relatively certain there's at least another crate of it."

"Oh, good," Hawke said, "It'll last us the week at least."

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