“You didn’t tell me that your plan involved walking around shouting insults to a non-present evil entity.” Anders sounded like he wasn’t sure whether to be amused, annoyed or frightened as he followed Hawke closely, keeping an eye on the walls.
“For good reasons too, you would have told me I was insane.” Hawke tried to ignore the weight of the bag slung over his shoulder, the awkward feel of the bombs nesting there like little dragon eggs. How much movement would it take to make them explode on accident? He didn’t exactly fight standing still.
“We both would have!” Bethany had her staff in a secure grip, hair loose and wild and a frown near permanently etched on her brow.
“You hear that Meredith?” Hawke shouted, making both his comrades jump. “Not only have you been played the fool by a simple smuggler, you’ve been bested by one that’s insane.”
“Insane and loud. Let’s not forget loud.” Anders gave Hawke a skeptical look, rubbing his ear a little.
“Did I ever tell you how much I laughed at you behind your back you insufferable bitch? Talk about delusions of grandeur, you couldn’t touch me despite the fact that I slept with the most noteworthy apostate in Kirkwall.” Hawke had no ideas if she had eyes in the stone as well, but it still felt good to reach out and put his arm around Anders, giving him a kiss on the cheek before letting go.
“I doubt she cares about who you slept with, Ian.” Bethany looked like she wasn’t sure whether to slap her brother on the back of his fool head or not.
“Oh you’d be surprised,” Hawke said with his most serious look. “She’s a Templar, and they are all about disapproving. All those Chantry people are. Just look at Sebastian. It would do him a world of good to just drop his pants and get laid, might have saved me a lot of pain if he did.”
Bethany blushed brightly crimson, looking away. “I don’t think that’s…” she started, and then the walls started crumbling around them.
Rocks fell, bouncing off Anders’ shields only to reform into Rock Wraiths, lit from the inside by a malicious red glow. Stone scraped against stone as they surged forward, slowly and lumbering at first but gathering speed quickly.
“Andraste’s perky tits, at least you’ve drawn out more rock wraiths,” the healer said with half a laugh, energy cracking around his staff as he prepared to fight.
“Let’s just push past them this time, make them chase us.” Hawke sheathed his dagger, keeping light on his feet as he waited for the right moment.
“And how do you propose to do that, love?”
“Leave that to me, Anders.” Bethany cracked her neck, raising her staff above her head, the air growing heavy and oppressive around her. “Be ready to deal with any stragglers though.”
With a loud crack she brought her staff down, and around the three of them, the air thickened like curdled milk. The rock wraiths slowed like flies in syrup, enabling even the two mages to push past them with ease. Once past, the running resumed, the rocks slowly tearing themselves free from their bondage to follow.
“Not to quibble brother, but why are we being chased again?” Bethany asked, out of breath, hair in disarray. “We could have destroyed them.”
“Maybe we’ve been killing them too fast,” Hawke answered, looking back over his shoulder. “They’re not like the statues of the Gallows that were blighted near impossible to bring down after all. And as long as she keeps summoning them she’s safely in hiding somewhere. We can’t get at her. She could be anywhere.”
“Watch yourself, Hawke, we’ll make a general of you yet.” Anders paused as they came to a fork in the corridor. After a moment of hesitation he picked the left path.
“Don’t even joke about that…” Hawke grumbled. General? That would be the day. “Are you sure this is this the right way to the assembly hall?”
“I think so.”
“I think so?”
“It’s been more than a decade since I was here last, and I left it half in ruin.”
“And nobody around to ask for directions either,” Bethany tried to sound lighthearted, but the empty corridors were starting to get downright creepy.
“You’ve got a point,” Hawke admitted. “Where is everybody?”
“Fighting somewhere else I suppose. Amell won’t go down easily, and there’s a gaggle of Wardens with him. “Can’t you feel the tremors?”
Once Anders pointed them out, Hawke realized that yes, there were tremors in the floor. At first he had thought they came from the rock wraiths, but these were heavier rumbles, like distant thunder in the mountains.
“Fighting what? If we can wade through the rock wraiths before they grow I’m having a hard time imagining the wardens having trouble.” Bethany had stopped to listen as well, but they had to start moving again once the rock wraiths approached.
“Maybe they’re not as tough as they’d like to pretend.” Hawke shot Anders a teasing grin.
“I’ve got the impression it’s the other way around. Who tends to need rescuing around here lately?”
“Don’t rub it in sister, maybe Meredith actually has gone after them first…” Divide and conquer, the first rule of combat.
“Andraste’s dimpled bum! The statue…” Anders stopped in his tracks, then picked up the pace.
“I forgot you hadn’t seen it, love, it’s outside, in the front courtyard. It’s of the Hero of Ferelden. The dwarves brought it as a gift after the blight had ended. Lord Harrowmount spared no expense.”
“Of my cousin? Maker, I thought I was the only one with a statue.”
“He actually has two. There’s one in Denerim as well, but this one is bigger. Oghren said the dwarves were probably truing to overshadow the one that was erected in Denerim. Dwarven pride and all that.”
“And I suppose this one is big?” No, there was no sarcasm at all in Hawke’s words.
“Not as big as the ones in Kirkwall.”
“That’s a relief anyway.”
“It sounds angry though,” Bethany pointed out as yet another violent shock rocked the keep.
“Very angry,” Hawke agreed.
“The Hero of Ferelden versus the Hero of Ferelden.” Anders paused to ice the path behind them, slowing the progress of the pursuing rock wraiths. The cold air made his breath mist in the narrow corridor.
“You’d think with all the things I messed up for her, I’d at least rate an angry statue. But noo, my cousin has to go and be the big hero again.” Hawke knew he sounded like a sulking child, but it was preferable to sounding scared. At times like this, humor was the last refuge of the damned, even if it meant that he’d come off as a bit of an idiot. He had lived like one after all. Might as well keep it up until the end.