“I’m telling you I don’t know where he is,” Bianca crosses her arms over her impressive bosom. “I haven’t seen him since the Deep Roads.”
“Then why don’t I believe you,” the older man questions, his storm colored eyes lock with Bianca’s fire blue gaze.
“I think it might have something to do with her recent travel plans,” Triss suggests.
“And as I’ve explained my fiancée is a member of the Merchant’s Guild and we’re travelling to Tevinter on business,” she keeps an eye on Laird who’s casually wandering about the small encampment.
“Everyone knows there is no trade done with Tevinter,” Triss counters.
“When did you become a merchant,” Isana snarls.
“Triss,” Bianca’s voice is calm and level in hopes of keeping the situation from escalating. “The last time I saw that white haired elf was when we were leaving the Deep Roads. Some of the group was hurt so I escorted them to a physiker and Isana lead the elf back to the Massive Oak so he could get their money. I haven’t seen him since and I don’t know where he is.”
“Tell us about the horses that left from here,” Laird touches the hoof prints in the mud his muddy brown eyes locking on Bianca.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Bianca crosses her arms, watching Laird rise to his feet.
Thanus gives a small signal and the two men immediately lunge at the dwarven women. Bianca is tackled by Laird, but Isana manages to run, using her short stature to evade capture. Thanus makes his way to the tent and watches the third guard give chase. With a sigh, the older man picks up a rock the size of his fist and throws it with all his might at the escaping girl. It hits her shoulder and throws her off balance just enough for the man to catch her.
Awoken by the commotion, bleary-eyed Varric steps out of the tent and into punch which disorients him even further. Thanus drags Varric towards the captured women, where his hands are tied behind his back and he was forced to kneel across from Bianca and their daughter.
Triss is uncomfortable with the turn of events, but as she bites her lower it’s obvious she has no plans to voice her objections.
“Shall we try this again?” Thanus crouches down to be at eye level with Bianca and Varric. “Where is the elf?”
“She’s right there,” Varric sighs and gestures to Triss with a jerk of his head. Thanus is quick to pull his dagger and slash at Varric’s face. The blonde was quick to jerk back, and the blade slices across the bridge of his nose instead of his cheek. Bianca calls out to Varric as he leans forward and groans in pain.
Thanus looks at the blonde and then at Bianca and the red head can see the wheels turning in the human’s head. Suddenly his eyes light up in recognition. “Varric,” he questions. “Varric Tethras?”
The dwarf looks at the human, uncertain if confirmation would be a good thing or not.
“I’ve read your stories,” Thanus pulls a rag from one of his pouches and gently presses it over the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding. “I love your work. Your stories are well-conceived, and well-written; the way you use language and the narrative arcs you weave, are captivating. I mean look at ‘Hard in Hightown’ how can anyone not love a tale about a dirty guard on the edge. ‘Swords and Shields’; however, was,” he pauses to find a non-offensive word. “Not to my taste, far too much romance for me. Now ‘Taming the Dragon’ had the perfect balance of romance and political conspiracy with a touch family backstabbing and combat. A exciting tale.”
“Thank you. It’s always good to run across a fan,” Varric sees an opportunity to save himself and his family. He opens his mouth to speak, but Thanus smiles as he talks over the dwarf.
“But I have to admit my favorite story, and I’ve read it several times, is the ‘The Tale of the Champion’ you remember that one, don’t you? The stories of your adventures with the Marian Hawke, her sister, the rebel Grey Warden Anders, the Dalish elf Merrill, Aveline of the City Guard and,” his smile fades and his tone becomes darker. “The Ravini pirate queen Isabela and an angsty, Tevinter elf called Fenris.”
“Now, let’s try this again,” Thanus turns his dagger onto Bianca, the tip of his weapon held under her chin, forcing her to crane her head back. “Where is Fenris?”
“I don’t know,” Varric’s mind is a flurry of thoughts as he tries to find a way out of this situation.
Thanus applies a little more pressure and Bianca gasps as a drop of blood trickles down the blade. “Are you sure about that?”
“Stop! Stop,” Isana screams. “I’ll tell you!”
“I’m listening,” the older guard says, his hard eyes turn to the teenage girl.
“They’re heading back to the Drunkin’ Monkey in midtown before finding a boat that will take them back to Kirkwall,” it’s a partial truth, but she’s gambling that the guards won’t suspect anything.
“I know that bar,” Liard volunteers. “Why would they go there?”
“Mom has a contact there,” Isana’s shoulder slump in defeat. “Dori was going to give them supplies and papers to help them make the trip.”
“I know Dori,” Triss says, her arms still wrapped about her midsection. “he’s the best fence in Nevarra, and if the price is right he can create false travel documents.”
“If we hurry we might be able to catch them,” the third guard voices.
Thanus looks at the dwarven family with a suspicious eye. “No, let’s take them back to the mage. Something about this doesn’t seem right.”
“What is this,” Dante gestures towards Varric and his family.
“This one was his friend from Kirkwall,” Thanus drags Varric and forces the storyteller to kneel before the mage.
“They know where Fenris went,” Triss voices.
“Then why aren’t you getting him. Why bring them here? There isn’t much of a market for dwarves,” Dante pauses and eyes the trio more closely. “Well, the blonde,” he points at Isana. “Is young enough to fetch a moderate price, but the others are too old.”
“I don’t think they’re telling he complete truth,” Thanus reports. “And I thought your magic might get the truth from them.”
Dante’s lips curl into a cruel grin, his spell would allow him to see and hear things Fenris does, but his spell can work both ways, if she so chooses.
“If what you say is true, I think Fenris will return by nightfall. Secure the women and bring the dwarf.”
Isabela has taken the lead heading back into Nevarra, attempting to entertain the group with her tales of the sea.
“She’s no Varric,” Bethany giggles quietly. “But I appreciate her attempt. Do you think Varric is all right?”
“The physiker said he’s most likely recovering from a stamina poison, but that it had been too long for him to give Varric anything that would help. He has to work to rebuild his stamina.”
“I wish there was something I could do.”
“I bet he does too,” Fenris chuckles and pats Bethany’s hands which are clasped about his waist. She rests her cheek against his back. “Do you like Kirkwall,” she asks.
“It’s a city with a lot of good memories for me, but beyond that it’s just a place. Why?”
“With things the way they are, you know with the Circle and Templars, maybe it would be better if…if I didn’t go back.”
“Where would you go?”
“Anywhere you want.”
He grins at the dream Bethany just offered him. He savors the warmth of her body pressed against his and the feel of her arms about his waist, he momentarily allows him mind to envision what type of life he could have with her.
“An apostate and a runaway slave?” It’s a valid concern, but he can’t stop smiling at her offer.
“Well, we both know about laying low and not drawing too much attention to ourselves,” she’s still smiling, as she continues her daydream. Suddenly his body stiffens he gasps as images flood his mind and block his vision. He thinks Bethany is speaking but her voice is drowned beneath Varric’s screams.
“Now that I have your attention,” Fenris can’t shut out Dante’s voice no matter how tightly he covers his ears. “If you do not come back to me by nightfall, I will kill him and I promise it will be a slow and bloody death.” Fenris can then see Bianca and Isana, struggling against their bounds. “Then I’ll turn my attention to his women. Do you understand me, slave? You can speak and I will hear you.”
“I’ll kill you,” Fenris growls. The elf watches Varric struggle against the latest spell as it bites and cuts into the dwarf’s skin until he finally cries out.
“I don’t think I heard your answer, slave. You best answer quickly; I don’t know how much longer he can last. The spell is inside him now.”
Varric groans and screams while writhing on the ground as the spell twists and stabs his innards.
“I’ll return if you let them go,” Fenris demands.
“How quaint,” the mage sounds amused, and releases his enchantment on the storyteller. Varric coughs and gasps for air while collapsing to all four. “Do you really think you get to make demands of me? Bring me the girl.”
Fenris can hear Bianca screaming her protests and Varric weakly demanding that Isana be left alone. Despite his pain he tries to crawl to his daughter who’s kicking and struggling.
“I’ll return! Just…just stop,” Fenris relents.
“I knew you would. I’m sure I can keep myself entertained until you return.”
When Fenris comes to his senses he finds he’s on the ground with Isabel and Bethany looking at him with concerned eyes about what happened.
“The Magister has them and he’ll kill Varric and his family I don’t return.”
Dante steps around a barely conscious Varric to crouch before Isana who’s tied to the wagon’s front wheel. He cups her chin and studies her face.
“You have a beautiful profile,” he studies her face from multiple angles. “Such lovely, piercing eyes. You may be worth more than I originally thought.”
“Is that all you’ve got,” Varric coughs as he tries to get up on all fours, his shaking arms struggle to support his weight.
“Are you still speaking,” he releases Isana to turn his attention to storyteller.
“It’s what I do,” the dwarf groans, finally managing to get up to his knees.
“Not for long,” Dante places a hand on Varric’s head and the storyteller screams in pain. Content that a lesson has been learn Dante withdraws his hand and magic. Much to the mage’s disbelief Varric laughs. It’s weak and short, but it was still laughter.
“Is that the best you can do,” he manages another chuckle. “I’ve had hangovers worse than that.”
Fury flashes in the mage’s eyes as he inflicts massive amount of magical agony upon the stubborn dwarf.
“When we get to Tevinter, I will teach you to respect your betters,” Dante then barks orders that Varric should be restrained. Thanus is the one who volunteers; he quickly and efficiently ties the barely conscious dwarf. Varric’s left wrist is secured to the rear wheel while his right is tied to the front wheel. There’s enough slack in the rope to allow Varric some movement, but not enough that he can untie himself nor reach Bianca or Isana.
“I’ll be by later to make sure you’re fed,” Thanus briefly looks at both Bianca and Isana, the look in his eyes is almost apologetic.
“Are you okay, baby,” Bianca waits until the guard is out of ear shot.
“I watched my father be tortured for hours and you want to know if I’m okay,” Isana pulls against her ropes, anger obvious in the girl’s voice and eyes. “Why does he provoke them like that?”
“He’s doing it to keep their attention off of us.”
“Hopefully, his friends will be here soon I think the sun is setting,” she looks up at the thick, dark grey clouds.
“We’re here,” a voice whispers from the shadows of the wagon. Bianca can feel someone tugging on her ropes. “Keep your eyes forward. We have a plan,” the voice belongs to Bethany. Bianca keeps her eyes on Dante, who’s speaking quietly with Thanus. “No matter what, you must wait for our signal,” the mage begins working on Isana’s ropes. “I’ve cut your ropes so it shouldn’t take much for you to break them. I’ve also placed swords and Varric’s crossbow right behind you. Remember, wait for our signal.”
Isana looks over her shoulder, trying to get a glimpse of the dark haired woman, as she slips away. A pained groan coming from Varric pulls her attention away from the road. She watches him fight to maintain responsive of his surroundings.
“Hang on Dad,” she whispers. Varric moans, still not entirely aware.
Isana looks up and watches Liard and the third guard approach them. Bianca is suddenly aware that something is different. She watches Triss is prepare lunch, while Dante is reading a book, his slave stands nearby waiting for orders, and Thanus sharpens his blades. She gets the sense that everyone is preparing for an ambush, but acting normal. Then everything clicks, they know Fenris and the others are planning an attack and are planning on turning the tables.
Before she can say anything she and Isana are gagged and their bonds replaced with fresh rope. Both women kick and struggle as the guards pull the blades from under the wagon, and Varric is dragged away. Isana’s obscenities are muffled by her gag, and Bianca realizes that neither guard picked up Varric’s crossbow.
Bianca looks over her shoulder and can see Fenris walking the road towards them. She struggles and tries to warn the elf that he’s walking into a trap, but he walks past without notice or word. She looks around for the other guards, but can’t locate them. Varric stirs, but makes no other signs of life.
Fenris walks into camp, his fists clenched and his brands glow a faintly.
“Finally,” Dante sighs, but doesn’t look up from his book. “I was beginning to wonder if you cared for our friend,” he casually closes his book and hands it Gaeris.
“I’m here, now let them go.”
“Or what,” the smug look on Dante’s face is infuriating as he calmly rises to his feet. “Your friend will ambush us? I think not,” He savors the look on Fenris’ face as Bethany is pulled from her hiding spot. The guards shove her towards the Magister; she stumbles and lands on all four before the dark eyed mage. Varric lay in a barely conscious heap on the damp ground beside Dante.
“Where’s the pirate,” Thanus asks.
“She returned to Nevarra,” Dante answers. “Her plan is to recruit help and rescue them before we reach Tevinter.”
“How…How do you know,” the shock on Bethany’s face causes Dante to laugh.
“I saw it through his eyes, and when I get him back to Tevinter…” Bethany interrupts him.
“You can’t have him,” she snarls, both blades in hand. “Fenris is a free man.”
“And you think you’re going to stop me,” Dante’s amused laughter is somehow cold.
“Yes,” Bethany gets to her feet. “I will stop you.”
“How amusing,” he smiles as if she were a child offering him a simple, yet handmade, gift. “Triss,” it’s the first time he’s used her name and she instantly doesn’t like the way it sounds passing his lips. “This is the only obstacle between you and Fenris,” his tone is light, but soon becomes serious as he signals for one of the guards to step forward. “Eliminate it.” Thanus offers his blades to the elf, who eagerly takes them. She has no plans to battle the human for the amusement of the mage, but for her own personal reasons.
“No,” Fenris grabs his sword and charges to fight alongside his dear Bethany, but Dante stopped him with a raise of two fingers and a simple spell.
“That’s enough from you, slave.”
“He is not a slave,” Bethany shouts as she charges at Dante. Triss quickly steps between the two mages and blocks Bethany’s attack. She uses her body weight to push the human back.
“He’s mine,” Triss snarls through tightly clenched teeth.
“He’s free to choose,” Bethany presses the attack. “And he chose me.”
Triss easily blocks the incoming swing. “He’s my husband.”
“No matter how many times you say it, it still won’t be true,” she narrowly dodges a swinging blade to her midsection.
Triss’ rebuttal is a skillful swing of both swords. Bethany dodges one, but the second opens a small wound on her cheek. Fenris is powerless to help or cry out. All he can do is watch while his mind rages. Triss continues her attack; knocking one of the blades from human’s hand. Bethany yelps and as her enchanted weapon skitters across the damp desert ground.
“Wake up dwarf,” Dante nudges Varric a few times with his foot. “You don’t want to miss this. Help him up,” He signals for Liard to haul the rogue up so that he may watch the fight. Varric’s eyelids are heavy, but when they open it takes his blurred vision a few moment to focus on Bethany dueling with a red haired elf. Fenris and Varric are both helpless when they realize the Bethany is outmatched. She barely managing to block blows and narrowly avoiding the sharp blades set on her demise. Bethany swings at Triss and manages to knock one of the weapons from the elf’s grasp. Triss stumbles back and quickly regains her footing. She baits Bethany into attacking and the dark haired woman lunges forward and the elf plunges her hand into the mage’s chest.
Varric cries out to his friend, his eyes wide as he struggles to free his captors. Fenris’ mind screams in rage and despair, but his body remains as immobile as if her were carved from stone.
Bethany gasps pain etched on her face as the elf’s hand grips her heart. Both women stumble back from each other, blood dripping from Bethany’s blade which she drove into the elf’s torso. The dark haired woman staggers for a moment before falling to her knees before collapsing completely. Triss touches her wound and looks at the blood on her fingers in surprise. She steps back, her legs uncertain before she too crumpled like a broken doll.