It took a lot of convincing, liberally seasoned with exaggerations and a pinch of falsehoods, as well as all of the coin in Varric’s and Bethany’s pouches before the physiker would begin working on the dark haired woman. The man grumbles to himself as he pockets the gold coins, leaving the silver and copper on the table in an unspoken agreement that once the trio returns with the last sovereign it would be exchanged for the coins on the surface.
“She’ll need to drink one of these when she wakes, and then one for the next four days,” he passes a handful of phials to the blond dwarf. “It’s an antivenin for the spider bite.”
The slender man gathers the necessary supplies and places them in a neat line on the table Bethany is lying on. From the line of supplies the physiker selects a small copper bowl and fills it with a yellow tinged fluid from a tall ceramic container. He sets the cylinder at the far end of the supply line and sets the bowl close to Bethany’s hand. He then grabs a second bowl, this one made from wood, and fills it with fresh water. He pulls off the damp fabric and Varric can see a faint brown stain where it rested against the swollen bite. The human drops the rag on the floor, carefully cuts open the bloated injury and then puts on an odd set of goggles designed to magnify whatever he’s looking at. Varric can’t explain why there’s no blood, and doesn’t feel that now would be a good time to ask. With extreme care the man uses a strange looking tool with a tiny, leaf shaped tip and begins digging out small yellow crystals from the mage’s hand.
Varric glances at Bethany concerned that the procedure might cause her pain. To his relief she gives no indication of feeling anything. The storyteller then turns his gaze back to the human physiker and studies the man. His skin is smooth and dark, but not as dark as Isabela’s. Combine that with his deep amber eyes and dark hair it leads the dwarf to believe that the man is of mixed heritage from Rivain.
“The spider that bit your friend,” he doesn’t look up from his work of digging out minute crystals. “Is called the Frelps spider, and it’s a nasty one,” Varric notices that as more crystals are dropped in the liquid it becomes a darker brownish yellow color. “When it bites its victim, the venom,” another crystal is placed in the darkening liquid, the instrument is then through a clear liquid, that smells sharply of disinfectant, before fishing out another minute crystal. “The venom is not fluid as with most creatures, instead it’s these incredible small crystals which dissolve over time. As the poison makes its way through the system it begins liquefying the victim’s innards.” His eyes never leave his work. “The healing salve and health potions slowed the poison’s progress, but it didn’t stop it. She’s lucky it was a small one that bit her. If it was a larger one she wouldn’t have made it to the surface. For some reason the poison crystals of the larger ones are far more potent,” he shakes off excess water from the delicate tool and continues his single-minded task. “When she wakes, feed her well. She will be weakened for few days, but that has more to do with the starvation than poison.”
“What of her hand,” Bianca pushes a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
“It will be fine,” a few more crystals are harvested. “The swelling is going down so she will retain most of her dexterity in a day or two and if she continues to use it full dexterity will return in about a week.”
With the last of the venom removed, the liquid in the bowl is now the same sickly color as the needles of a dying pine tree. The physiker removes his goggles and sets them, along with the copper bowl, on an examination table across from Bethany. The human pinches the bridge of his nose and squeezes his eyes shut seconds before he pops his neck and returns to work on Bethany’s hand. He picks up a small water skin, no more than 6-inches in length and a large bundle of rags, which are placed under the wounded appendage. He uses the fluid in the water skin to further clean out the incision. Varric is mesmerized by watching the clear liquid turn a pale yellow as it flushes out further traces of the poison.
“Varric,” Bianca grabs his arm and her voice is barely above whisper so as not to disturb the physiker. “Something’s wrong,” her eyes dart to the human and then return to him. “They should have been back an hour ago.”
“Rafi,” Isana bursts into the Massive Oak, running towards the human. “Mom’s at the physiker, we need a sovereign.”
Before the barkeep can warn the trio of the imminent trap, Fenris cries out with pain. His back arches, his arms rigid by his side and his mouth, yet open unable to make any further sounds or even to take a breath. Isabela quickly draws her twin blades, but is instantly and powerfully thrown into wall, striking her head. She collapses to the floor unconscious, a thin trickle of blood running from her temple and down her forehead. Isana is grabbed by a honey eyed dwarf who whispers for her to stay put.
“Orez,” she protests.
“Hush girl,” the warrior’s eyes still locked on the unfolding scene. “If you want to help them, don’t draw attention to yourself.”
Fenris pulls in a pained breath of air and folds in on himself, as if the new position would end his suffering. A nondescript man with dark hair and black eyes pushes his way out of the small huddle of prostitutes. His clothes are of a mediocre quality, common for this area, but they looked new which is not a normal site in this part of town.
“Time to come home, slave,” the man says. Fenris glares at the human and growls, unable to speak the many curses going through his mind as he tries fighting the spell he’s caught in.
“Are you trying to resist,” he smiles as if a child were trying to complete a new and complicated task. “How charming,” he pours a little more magic into the spell and Fenris stumbles back into the wall, blood dripping from his nose. The elf still refuses to yield, and the novelty of the resistance loses its appeal to the mage.
“Know your place, slave,” more mana surges into the spell and the agony increases causing Fenris to cry out, but still he remains on his feet. Dante narrows his eyes, determined to see the lyrium scarred elf on his knees.
“Fenris, please,” Triss steps from the crowd. “Don’t fight it.”
“I,” Fenris turns his cold, hate filled glare to red head who cowers under its intensity. “Will never,” his hands press firmly against the wall, helping him remain on his feet. “Be yours,” he manages to take a single step, much to Dante’s surprise.
“Let me go,” Isana struggles against Orez’s hold. “I have to help him.”
“Trust me girl,” the warrior holds fast. “We can’t take this guy down alone.”
“We need to hide you. If that sodding maleficar knows you’re with the elf, he may try to take you too,” Orez pulls the protesting teen behind the bar and forces her into a small root cellar beneath the bar floor.
“For once in your life, child,” Rafi quietly closes the trap door. “Listen to your elders.”
“You will kneel,” the mage’s voice seems to echo in the brothel, as he raises his hands raining more torture upon the strong willed captive. Fenris roars his defiance and manages another step, his green eyes filled with murder.
“I grow weary of this game,” Dante magically sends the white haired elf flying back into the wall. The magic crushes the air from Fenris’ lungs. The mage maintains the pressure, refusing to allow his prize the ability to breath.
“Stop,” Triss grabs onto his right arm. “You’ll kill him.”
“Away woman,” he jerks his arm free, and adds a little more pressure until Fenris finally passes out. He dispels the magic and the elf crumples to the floor. Triss runs over, dropping to her knees to check for life signs.
“Go get the others,” he pulls the red haired elf from the unconscious form. “The sooner we get this done, the sooner you get your prize,” he speaks over her objections, and watches her flee the building before directing his attention Rafi and Orez.
“Who was the girl?”
“That was Triss,” Rafi points to the door. “Maybe you know her.”
“Do not play games with me. The dwarf. Who is she?”
“My niece,” Orez’s head is held high and his chest out. “I sent her home. She doesn’t need to see this,” he holds Dante’s gaze and doesn’t waver from his story.
“For your trouble,” he tosses a few silver pieces onto the bar. “Someone will be by to pick up my property soon.”
“Leave the woman,” the dwarf keeps his hands low, ready to grab his war axe from under the bar. “She’s one of ours.” His fingers are itching for the familiar feeling of the axe.
“And she owes me three silvers,” a voice from the back adds.
Dante chuckles and recalls half of the silver pieces before leaving the establishment.
“Go check on them. I’ll wait here,” Varric looks at Bianca and then back to physiker who is stitching up the wound close. “I will only slow you down,” the blonde reminds when his lover appears reluctant. “Besides, I can talk my way out of anything,” he gives her a warm and charming smile and a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Fine,” she turns to leave and Rafi and Isana come rushing in.
“They took Fenris,” Isana breathlessly reports. She hunches over, placing her hands on her knees to catch her breath.
“What? Who? Where’s Isabela,” Varric’s questions come fast. Isana raises a hand, still trying to catch her breath. She ran from the Deep Roads to the physiker’s, and then ran to the Undercity only to run back to the physiker’s.
“Some Tevinter slaver,” Rafi answers.
“And Triss,” Isana manages between breaths.
“Where did they take him,” the blonde asks.
“Don’t know, but Orez is tailing them,” the human volunteers.
“We need to get to them,” the urgency in Varric’s voice is unmistakable.
“I haven’t been paid yet,” the mocha skinned man reminds as he wraps the treated hand.
“Here,” Rafi tosses a gold coin at the man who fumbles, but manages to catch it.
“She can’t stay,” the physiker points to Bethany. “If you have slavers after you I don’t want them coming here,” he slips the last golden coin into his pouch. Bianca grabs the remaining coins and orders Rafi to carry Bethany.
“I’m only doing this because I love you darling,” Rafi picks up the unconscious woman.
“We have to get back to the Undercity,” Bianca needlessly points out. “And quickly.”
Isabela’s head is throbbing and she aware of something cool and damp on her forehead. She cracks one eyes open and immediately realizes that the lights seem far too bright.
“Easy,” a woman says, removing the damp rag from the pirate’s head. “Your friends are on their way.”
“What happened,” she groans.
“You and your elf friend were ambushed,” the woman places the cloth into a basin of water. “I’m afraid they took him.”
“Who,” her memory is still fuzzy, but she finds the willpower to sit up.
“Careful,” the woman warns. “You had a nasty blow to the head,” she offers her assistance and pirate slowly sits up.
“Here,” a small vial was placed into Isabela’s hand. “Drink this. It will help.”
“Who took Fenris,” her vision starts out blurred, but gradually comes into focus.
“Drink,” the woman urges, gently lifting Isabela’s hands. The Ravaini woman looks at what she’s been offered. A health potion. When she raises the container to her lips the woman talks about what transpired and who took her friend.
“Andraste’s granny panties, I need to help him,” she puts her feet on the floor and woman holds up her hands and blocks Isabela’s path.
“You can’t take this guy down alone and your friends will be here soon.”
“They could be almost anywhere by now.”
“Calm down Orez is following them. You’ll get your friend back.
“Where’s the magister,” Dante demands upon seeing the rendezvous scarcely populated. The male elf he’s addressing immediately drops to one knee.
“Master bid me to inform you that this location became too dangerous for us to wait,” the elf’s eyes remain fixed on the floor. Templars became aware of our presence; they had to retreat to a small inn at the Tevinter border. I was left behind as a guide.”
“Fine. Lead the way slave,” Dante doesn’t like this last minute change in plans.
“Yes master,” the lithe elf gets to his feet to carry out his instructions. “Please allow me to gather your things.”
“Be quick about it,” Dante waves his hands in dismissal and turns his attention to the small group of guards following him. “You men,” he gestures to the three guards dragging a bound and still passed out Fenris. “Secure the prize,” the mage points to the white haired elf. “We don’t want it escaping before we can claim the bounty. Woman,” he addresses Triss. “Go help the slave.”
“I am not a slave,” her hands on her hips.
“Nor did I address you as such,” irritation obvious in his tone. “Get to work and earn your pay, servant. We leave immediately,” he points to the room the slave walked into. Triss’ eyes narrow and her jaw clenches but she stomps after the elven slave to offer her assistance.
Stealth is not a skill taught to those of the warrior caste, nor is it an easily accomplished task in the bright noontime sun for a dwarf with a two handed war-axe strapped to his back. As Orez hides in the shadows outside his quarry’s hideout praises his ancestors and the stone that he had somehow remained unseen.
From the shadows of a nearby alley honey colored eyes watch as a group of four humans and two elves emerge from the non-descript hovel. He watches as a dark haired elf bows and hurries away to return with covered supply wagon, which is not uncommon in this area; however the same cannot be said about covered carriage which followed.
Orez watches the carriage, noting the fine craftsmanship of the smooth wooden structure and finely crafted metal and wooden wheels. Two black mares are attached to the coach, their dark coats shine in the blazing sun. There are no marks on the carriage to denote a noble house or country, the only feature to help distinguish this vehicle from all others is the chest being strapped onto the back. The highly polished red wood with its carved birds on the side compliments the brass fixtures and matching lock.
The dwarf listens closely as Dante shares the travels plans with group. He carefully outlines the route they will take and who will operate which cart. Three well-armed and well armored humans drag a struggling bound and gagged white haired elf. The resisting elf is unceremoniously thrown into the back of the covered cart. The men joke among themselves and quickly join the constrained warrior. The sounds that followed suggested Fenris would not go quietly.
The dark haired elf hurries over to open the carriage door for the mage. Triss crosses her arms, and begrudgingly takes the driver seat of the carriages while the other elf bows and climbs into onto the cart’s hard wooden bench behind the brown and black horses.
With the Tevinter mage and party gone, Orez emerges from his hiding place and runs back to the Massive Oak.
Varric and Isabela pace while Bianca collects coin owed to her and Isana help Bethany eat a hearty stew. Bethany is awake, her eyes are bright and her words are lucid, but her hands lack the strength to lift the spoon. Isana assured the frightened human that her strength would return.
Finally the Orzammar born warrior returns, exhausted from the hurried pace he maintained. He’s immediately swarmed by Fenris’ friends who shower questions upon Orez with such intensity that he barks at all of them to back off.
“Honey-Bear,” Rafi rushes over and hugs his lover before presenting him with a mug of foamy ale. The dwarf relays everything he saw and heard before he downs half of the mug in one gulp.
“Tevinter,” Isabela growls. “That means we’ll need horses. And we don’t have that kind of coin.”
“Can’t we sell some of the stuff we brought back,” Isana suggests.
“Beautiful, take me to your most trusted fence,” Varric collects one of the treasure laden packs. “Rivani, you’re coming with us. You two wait here.”
“You are not leaving me behind,” Varric has heard the steely determination in Hawke’s voice, but never in Bethany’s.
“Sunshine, I promise we’re not going to run off to Tevinter without you. But you need to get your strength back and running all over Nevarra is not the best way to do that.”
“And why am I left behind?”
“Because Precious, I’m trusting you to keep her here.”
If he hadn’t said it was because of trust Isana would’ve followed them just to make sure she wasn’t left behind. She hesitantly agrees.
“That’s my girl,” his kisses her forehead and hurries out the door with Bianca and Isabela close behind.