You’ve never missed an appointment in your life.
So why are you absent tonight?
I’m so confused. What has kept you away from me?
Full of hope, I wait for you.
I lay awake, my love, waiting for you to come
So that I can keep you awake all this night.
Come, come, come!
Let us live the passion of a lifetime tonight.
Don’t let our passion wait until tomorrow!
Don’t let our happiness wait until tomorrow.
Because tonight is our first night,
Is a night of love.
Come, let us ease our hearts’ longing.
Our whole lives have been longing for this night.
You are the beat of my heart
and the light of my life.
You are my night’s smile, its dreams and its memories;
Here our world stops and finds its peace.
I and the entire world
The spring, the flowers, the water well,
the soft breath of night
they are all here together with me
and we wait for you—
We all ache with longing for you.
Come to us, all those who adore you;
Come to my heart.
The evening’s passion calls to us—
Don’t let us suffer.
Don’t let us wait any longer for you.
Come, let us ease our hearts’ longing
Our whole lives have been longing for this night.
— Excerpt from “Leylet Hob”, a classic belly dance song (which I’m performing a duet to in four days! eek!). Translation provided by a friend.
(Note: The version I link to is just the intro, I think; the full version is some 50 minutes long and includes the lovely lyrics quoted above.)
This conversation wasn’t originally supposed to happen today, but I don’t care, I will never apologize for the Hawke brothers being awful to each other.
Carver leans against the craggy clinic façade, arms crossed, hooded eyes fixed on the stairwell where Merrill disappeared. Half of him wants to sprint after her, all the way to the alienage, but unlike his brother he knows when to allow a graceful exit.
Carver runs a hand through his hair, trying to ignore the lingering tickle of Merrill’s fingers playing with his bangs, and the traitorous surge of heat that pulsed briefly through him when she tucked them gently, so gently, behind his ear. He is no fool. Merrill is off-limits, he knows, especially now that his head is such an Ostwick scramble. But Maker help him, like a moth to a flame he always keeps fluttering back.
Sighing, Carver shakes his head out like a wet mabari. It doesn’t help.
Abruptly the clinic door opens, and a slightly rumpled Garrett appears. His collar is crooked, front bangs askew. Hand lingering on the door, he turns back, smiling into the room behind him. “Don’t work too late,” he says in a soft tone Carver has only ever heard him spare for Dog; then, gaze still fixed into the clinic, he lets the door swing shut.
When Garrett turns around, softness still playing on his lips, he notices Carver, finally, and, squawking, flinches several inches backward.
“You bastard,” he gasps, clutching a hand to his heart. “Maker, it’s a good thing not all Templars are as good at sneaking as you.”
Carver shrugs noncommittally.
“Thought you’d gone back to home sweet Gallows already.” Garrett drops his hand awkwardly and eyes the Amell cellar entrance like a card cheat identifying the exits. He grins, his teeth a flash of white against his carefully-clipped beard. “Did you stay to make sure I’d make it home in one piece? I’m touched.”
“So,” says Carver, unwilling to be drawn in by Garrett’s distraction. “You and Anders.”
For a moment, the muscles around Garrett’s mouth slacken. Then, like a noblewoman readjusting her party hat, the casual smirk slides back into place once more.
The two characters who appear in this installment, augh, I just love sticking Carver in a room with them. Always brightens my day. If I had infinite time, I’d write an AU sitcom of these three characters, living together in a fabulous, over-priced New York City apartment, sipping complicated coffee drinks and having adventures.
Alas, one day.
Previously: The Plot Thickens
The lantern is lit, its pale gleam like a lighthouse beacon in the evening chokedamp. Next to Carver, Merrill sighs in relief.
“Thank the Creators,” she exhales. Merrill re-adjusts his arm around her shoulders and draws him closer. Under his weight she feels like iron. “I was afraid he might’ve closed for the night.”
Merrill’s strong fingers press into his side. More heat rises to Carver’s cheeks, and he feels a little woozy, though it’s probably just from all the blood loss. He raises a hand to the bandages on his shoulder, or tries to anyway, before the effort tires him out and he drops his hand weakly back to his side.
“You didn’ ha’ ta carry me here,” Carver slurs.
“Shush.” Merrill’s voice is tight and strained. “Save your strength for the healing.”
She kicks open the door; as she does, Carver notices that the top of her foot is still stained in creature bits. He starts to giggle uncontrollably. Merrill shoots him a worried glance.
“Stay with me, Carver,” she whispers.
He wants to tell her it’ll be alright, that it’s just the tooth between her toes, but he can’t manage any response other than sagging against her.
I feel very much like Leandra in this piece: Boys, boys, I love all of you. Now play nice together. And eat your vegetables.
“By this point, he’s gooey, yeah, and starts growling about death to all Templars,” says Carver around a half mouthful of food. He waves his fork in the air for added emphasis. “So I say, ‘You talk too much’, and wham, I Silence him.”
Wide-eyed and grinning, Mother claps her hands over her mouth and makes noises that sound suitably impressed. Garrett and Anders, however, do not laugh. Anders glares at his plate, pushing his food around with his fork, while Garrett watches Anders intently. Neither speaks.
Carver, taking a sip from his wine goblet, pretends not to notice or care that Mother is perhaps over-exaggerating the humor of his story for Garrett’s benefit. When they were kids, Carver rarely ever got to tell stories. For years, the inexperience made him rush through even the most intricate tale, using too short sentences and flubbing punch lines, all in the pursuit of simply being heard over the laughter that someone else had already evoked. Years in the Gallows, away from his family, have honed Carver’s delivery somewhat, and tonight he’s taking his time, luxuriating in the attention: Garrett is uncharacteristically quiet, Anders hasn’t spoken a word, and Carver finds that he doesn’t have to worry so much about being heard when there’s no laughter to be heard over.
“The guy falls, boom,” he claps his hands, and Mother bounces in her seat a little, “ass over teakettle, down two flights of stairs.”
“Was he alright?” Anders murmured, suddenly concerned.
Carver makes a face. “He was an abomination.”
“Hmm,” says Anders, returning his gaze to his food.
Carver doesn’t let Anders’s disinterest stop him. For once he has the floor, and he intends to keep it. “He lands right in front of Paxley, who makes this ahhh face, like he doesn’t know what to do with himself,” Carver demonstrates the expression, and Mother grins.
“Clearly a face you know well,” mutters Garrett, but he isn’t even looking at Carver. Anders’s hands clench into fists.
“The poor guy looks like I’ve handed him a dress and asked him to dance the Remigold,” says Carver, not acknowledging the interruption, because he’s getting to the line of his story that tends to go over particularly well in the barracks. “So I shout down, Use the pointy end, you nit!”
Anders drops his fork, and it clangs loudly against his plate.
“What’s your problem?” says Carver.
“I don’t see the humor in slaughtering innocent mages,” Anders replies. On the table, his knuckles are white.
“Anders,” Garrett begins.
“He wasn’t innocent,” says Carver. “The guy murdered his entire family.”
“He was pushed to it.” The room suddenly smells like the heavy calm after a storm, or right before it. Garrett makes a face that Carver doesn’t dignify.
“Pushed to nothing,” he says instead. “He slashed open his baby sister’s throat—sorry Mother.” She waves at him dismissively, unconcerned by this horrific detail. “And for what? More coin.”
“Maybe if more people would hire Fereldans,” concedes Garrett.
“I hardly see how that’s my fault,” Carver says.
Anders stands up. His chair scrapes along the wooden floor.
“That doesn’t make it his,” he says, and stomps out of the room.
“Anders—“ Garrett calls out to the slamming door. Then he stands up and wheels on his little brother.
“You ass,” he says sourly. “That was the first time he’s eaten in two days.”
Carver shrugs. “Anders’s diet isn’t my problem.”
“Next time, keep the mage-hating to yourself.” Garrett throws his napkin on his chair. “No one else cares.”
He strides out the room after Anders.
Once the door shuts, Carver releases the breath he’d been holding. His shoulders collapse.
“Sensitive bastard,” he mutters. “Sorry, Mother.”
“I thought your story was funny,” she murmurs, putting her hand on his. Three years ago, he would have jerked his hand away, in order to prove something, but now, he just lets it lie. A mother has to feel like she’s making her son feel better, after all, and Carver’s luckier than most Templars in that he still has his. “It reminded me of the stories Maurevar used to tell.”
He looks at her beseechingly. “I don’t hate mages.”
“I know you don’t, love,” she says, squeezing his hand. “Garrett knows it too, deep down. He’s just—conflicted. That’s all.”
Carver pulls his hand away at last. “Garrett can suck an egg.”
“Carver,” she says, a warning without any real heat, and then sighs. “I wish you and your brother wouldn’t fight so much.”
“Tell him that.” He pushes his meat around his plate.
“I would but—“ She smirks at him, her eyes warm and kind. “The first rule of advice is the same as the first rule of storytelling, Carver. You must know your audience.”
I think this will probably be the last “true” Merrill Alphabet update I do; I have an idea for “V” that’s a little different. You’ll see.
These alphabet ficlets have been a blast to write, and they’ve made me realize a) I utterly, unabashedly adore Merrill, and b) she has far more backstory than I’d ever really acknowledged in my writing before. I think this exercise has been a huge help in giving me a sense of who Merrill is, and it’ll help immensely as I get back to writing the “Shadows” mainplot. I might do something like this again, maybe in the Act 2-3 break, we’ll see.
Previous drabble: T is for Terrors
“No, really, thank you, Hawke.” Merrill sits gingerly at the edge of the bed, next to her tightly-packed shoulder bag, and re-checks the fastener to the side pouch where Carver’s mask is. She refuses to look Garrett in the eye, because there’s no resisting a Fereldan with a pout, even one who keeps his partially concealed behind a beard, and she can’t let pity keep her rooted in this house for another week. “It’s a kind offer, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful. But I’ve been away from the alienage long enough.“
“If it’s the rats you’re worried about,” Garrett says, his voice too loud and full for the room, “I’m sure they’ll find other toes to nibble on.”
She grimaces. The thing about Hawke men she both loves and hates is that you never know when they’re serious, because everything they say sounds like a dirty joke—even the dirty jokes, or the jokes about things being dirty.
“I need to go home,” she murmurs.
“The alienage isn’t your home, Merrill.”
Heat prickles her cheeks. Merrill hates that he’s right, but more than that, she resents how easily he can say it: just six words sliding off his tongue as easy as how-do-you-do. How a refugee can be so cruel, she’ll never know; but clearly Carver was right: Garrett’s coin has made him forget more than just the pinch of hunger.
Garrett sits heavily on the opposite edge of the bed, the full pack between them. “You’d already be home,” he mutters, “if you wanted to be.”
“Hawke.” She leans forward and clasps her hands together between her knees. “Garrett. I have—duties.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Merrill sees Garrett’s beard twitch. “To who? To those people who rioted? The ones who sold you out to the Templars?”
Merrill looks down at her hands, and brushes the edge of one thumb against the staff callous on the other. Sometimes, she still feels the ghostly heat of Carver’s lips there, on the inside of her thumb, and she has to rub at it until the sensation fades away. Now, however, it is more comfort than annoyance. “To my people,” she says. “All elves, everywhere. I have to see this through.”
“Merrill.” Garrett extends a hand and rests it on her shoulder. His palm is too hot and too heavy. “See what through? What aren’t you telling me?”
What’s funny about the word “Keeper” is that elves with this title are supposed to be the “custodians of the elven language”, yet “Keeper” is a decidedly human word. We’re not given an indication of what the word “Keeper” is in Elvish. “Hahren” is the closest thing I can find (and in an alienage, the hahren is the alienage leader, so city elves use the term like they’d use “Keeper”), but technically the word refers to any elder within a clan: Hahren Paivel, for example, is not Sabrae’s Keeper, Marethari is.
I can’t even buy that “Keeper” is originally an Elvish word that has been subsumed into trade tongue, because, as I alluded to in C is for Carver, the “Khh” and “khe” sounds do not really appear in the base elven language. (Merrill does seems able to pronounce “kuh”, as in “Hawke” or the first “k” in “Kirkwall”, well enough, but that’s a different sound that requires an entirely different shape of the tongue.) That implies that “Keeper” is not a native word, and was brought into the language only later on.
(As an aside: Lest you think it strange that Merrill can pronounce one “k” sound and not others simply because of where the sound falls in a word, English has several of these so-called “restricted phonemes”. As Wikipedia points out, the sound “ng”, like at the end of “thing”, appears at the end of dozens of English words, but never at the beginning, as it does in Thai. And the hard “yhh” sound, as in “yes”, only ever appears before a vowel, and rarely ever (with the debatable exception of words like “boy” or “toy”) at the end of a syllable.)
So anyway, not to bog down your Tuesday morning with language lessons (although obviously I find this stuff kinda neat), but I just thought it a little ironic – and even maybe sad – that those in charge of maintaining the Elvish language are referred to, even by their own people, by an outsider’s word. It just goes to reinforce how much the elves have really lost.
Yesterday’s drabble: I is for Intercession
“Well, it’s hardly a real altar, is it? It’s a stack of crates.” Merrill runs her forefinger along the outer ridge of the wooden box, under the oil-filled cooking bowl set to flame. Her fingertip comes away black and sticky. “And I don’t know what these designs on the vhenadahl are meant to be. They’re only red doodles.”
“You use what you can, to do what you can,” says Anders, eyes narrowing. “You’re hardly one to judge.”
She shrugs. Grumpy looks from Anders are nothing new, and nothing worth taking personally. “If the elves here wanted to get it right,” she says, adjusting the makeshift altar bowl so that it sits in the correct position, “then they‘re free to ask.”
“’Doing it right’ would no doubt mean slitting one’s wrists and frolicking around the big bush,” says Fenris, eliciting an appreciative snicker from Anders, who immediately tries to disguise it as clearing his throat.
“Naked,” adds Hawke helpfully. He elbows Anders.
Anders rolls his eyes. “It’s always naked with you.”
“I like naked,” Hawke counters, and he waggles his eyebrows until Anders laughs.
“Elves don’t dance, naked or no,” Merrill cuts in. This is for Fenris’s benefit, she tells herself; if it were just the humans, she’d let them believe whatever they liked (although, in her estimation, it wouldn’t hurt for more humans to be like Carver and take a greater interest in world history). “Besides, it’s not a bush, Fenris. It’s a vhenadahl tree, a sacred symbol of our people.” She runs a hand along the tree’s incorrectly-painted bark. “Or do they not have vhenadahls in Tevinter?”
He glowers at her. “Slaves have better things to do than grow trees.”
She swallows a tart retort. Questions are good, she reminds herself. Questions are how we learn. Even if Fenris’s questions usually sound more like insults and declarations than questions. “But your clan must have had some religion, some practice with which to remember their roots.”
“My clan?” His eyebrows disappear under his hair. “Slaves are not family. Slaves are property, nothing more.”
“But our people—“
“are not mine,” he says with a sharp slice of his hand. He sneers. “Keep your rotted people, Merrill.”
Merrill wishes, suddenly, briefly, that she were back home among her clan. But then she tilts her chin upward, as she’s seen Aveline do, and lets her hand fall from the vhenadahl bark.
“Aren’t you listening?” she says firmly. “That’s rather the point of it.”
Ghilan’nain is the Mother of the Halla, and the chosen of Andruil, the Dalish Goddess of the Hunt. From the Elven Pantheon codex entry:
They say Ghilan’nain was one of the People, and the chosen of Andruil the Huntress. One day, Ghilan’nain came across a hunter she did not know. At his feet lay a hawk, shot through the heart by an arrow. Ghilan’nain was filled with rage, for the hawk is an animal much beloved of Andruil. Ghilan’nain called upon the goddess to curse him, so that he could never again hunt and kill a living creature. Ghilan’nain’s curse took hold, and the hunter found that he was unable to hunt. Ashamed, the hunter swore he would find Ghilan’nain and repay her for what she had done to him. He blinded her first, and then bound her as one would bind a kill fresh from the hunt. But because he was cursed, the hunter could not kill her. Instead he left her for dead in the forest. And Ghilan’nain prayed to the gods for help. Andruil sent her hares to Ghilan’nain and they chewed through the ropes that bound her, but Ghilan’nain was still wounded and blind, and could not find her way home. So Andruil turned her into a beautiful white deer—the first halla.
For the full tale of Ghilan’nain, read her codex entry.
Previous drabble: F is for Fool
“Is she—Will she—“
“Stop crowding me, Carver.” Silence. “Maker, Hawke, tell your brother to quit hovering.”
“Carver, let the man work.”
Pain. Blistering, unyielding pain. The sound of tearing fabric. Pressure, careful, precise. A moan—possibly her own.
“Bloody hell, this is all my fault.”
“You’re bloody right this is your fault. What were you thinking, charging an ogre head on like that?”
“I—“ The sound of pacing. “I don’t know. I just kept seeing Bethany—“
“I couldn’t, Garrett. I just couldn’t see anyone else die like that.”
“So I was supposed to just watch you die like that? Merrill was supposed to?”
More pacing. An irritated sigh.
“Maker’s cock, Carver. Take that bloody arrow out of your shoulder. You look ridiculous.”
The sound of wood snapping. A sharp hiss. The squelch of open flesh, then a grunt. An arrow shaft hitting the sand.
“Now, Merrill, this might sting a bit.”
More pain, like tiny spikes driven under fingernails. A scream, ripped from deep within. Grunting, boots scuffling. Heavy fabric, like a leather jerkin, grabbed roughly.
“Stop it! You’re killing her!”
“No, the ogre was killing her. I’m healing her.”
More scuffling. A frustrated noise, animal, inconsolable.
“Carver, don’t make me knock you out.”
“Let me go. I’ll be good. Let me go.”
More silence. Pressure abating. A soft exhale from nearby, as if someone had been holding his breath.
“Alright, Merrill. Wound’s all clean. Now comes the nice part, I promise.”
Warmth. Comfort. Relaxation. Blue. Everywhere blue, and welcoming, and soft. The pain ebbs, the sounds become clearer. Birdsong. Labored breathing. The rolling tide of the ocean, like the snicker of halla, leading her home.
Merrill blinks, once, twice. Over her hovers Anders, sweat and black blood, not his own, dripping from his temple. He smells awful, like the sewer come alive.
She blinks again: A few paces back are Hawke and Carver. They look like startled birds. Especially Carver, whose fur collar is fluffed like ruffled feathers. Carver. She checks his shoulder. He holds a hand over the still bleeding wound, mere inches from his heart. But the arrow—the arrow is gone—
“Merrill,” he says, and flies to her side. “How do you feel?”
She groans; it feels as she has been bound for days and days, and the ropes have only just fallen away. Her gaze flicks to Carver’s shoulder again, and then back to his wide eyes, as blue and clear as the sky.
“Like Ghilan’nain,” she murmurs with a relieved smile, and closes her eyes once more.
Wow, so, apparently, y’all REALLY like Merrill — I got more notes in three hours on “A is for Aravel” than I get on most “Shadows” updates! That’s … really kind of encouraging, actually. You know, given all the talk in fandom about how many writers/readers don’t give enough weight to female characters, it’s really nice to see so many of you show love for a story about a woman (or, well, in that case, a girl), no matter how brief it was.
It reminds me of back when I was doing the 30 Day Dragon Age Challenge. To this day, apart from the post about why I loved Hawke, my most popular and reblogged essays were the ones on Aveline, Merrill and the female friendships in-game. We really do love the women in Dragon Age. I only hope the developers know it.
And of course now I’m going to follow my girl-power soapboxing up with a manlicious drabble. Consistency, thy name is not Flutie.
Previous drabble: A is for Aravel
“It’s beer,” says Hawke, clapping her shoulder. She flinches at the touch. “Just try it.”
Merrill peers at him, unable to look away from to the droplets of liquid caught in his beard. Before a few days ago, she’d never seen a man with hair on his face (or throat, or forearms, or knuckles), and the sight still unnerves her, more than a little. Hawke could be plotting anything behind all that hair, and she’d never be any the wiser.
“I don’t know,” she says.
“You’ll like it,” says the other Hawke, the cute one. Merrill can’t remember his name, but she remembers those cheekbones well enough, and those bright blue eyes, and the size of his bare biceps. “It’ll put hair on your chest.”
At the mention of chest, her eyes flick to his. It’s massive, broad, like the angles of the Sundermount. Creators, it’s beautiful. She has the sudden urge to rub her cheeks against it, like a halla with an itch.
“Do I need hair on my chest?” She eyes the drink suspiciously. “Is someone going to stop by the alienage to check?”
Despite his size – he really is very large; maybe he’s part kossith? – the cute one flushes instantly, his comfortingly bare cheeks betraying every thought and emotion, just as the Creators intended.
“No—you’re fine the way you are,” he sputters, rubbing the back of his neck. “I—I mean, not fine, you’re better than fine, um, not that you’re not fine too; you’re just the right quantity of fine? Um. “
Merrill’s never made a man stammer before. She thinks she likes it.
“Just drink it,” Hawke snickers, “before Carver hurts himself.”
She looks from Hawke to his brother and back again. Shrugging, she takes a pull.
And spits it out.
“Ugh,” she says, sticking out her tongue. “This tastes like river sludge.”
“Fizzy river sludge,” corrects Garrett over the sound of his brother’s raucous laughter.
“You,” she says to Carver, trying not to feel terribly betrayed. “You like this?”
He coughs back his laughter.
“Not really,” he says, his eyes still dancing in a way that makes her belly flip-flop. “But if you drink enough of it, the taste doesn’t really matter.”
Aaaand that’s it for “Masks”! I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep-dive into Mark of the Assassin as much as I have. It’s been one heck of a fascinating ride, and writing it has given me a whole new appreciation for the story and for Tallis.
Tomorrow I’ll start a few one-shots before moving onto the next story arc. (Actually, I’m considering doing the Alphabet Meme for either Carver or Merrill—might be a nice break from all this blasted continuity, no?) But for now, enjoy some denouement!
Yesterday’s drabble: The Scroll
Garrett and Carver stand at the gangplank of the S.S. White Spire, watching the piles of paisley and leather luggage be carried into the hold by strong men with good backs and Fereldan accents.
“Thinking of the sailor’s life, Carver?” Garrett rubs his earlobe thoughtfully between his thumb and forefinger. Carver notes the split cuticles, the thumb callouses, the fingers perpetually stained with elfroot. With such obvious tells, thinks Carver, it’s a wonder the Templars had never caught the Hawkes all those years. Maybe if the Order got its head out of its phylacteries, fewer apostates would slip through the cracks. “It’s a tough calling, though I daresay you have the dumb, brute strength for it.”
“Remember three years ago when that dockhand offered me a job?” Carver smiles wickedly. “He didn’t offer you a job.”
Garrett smiles and shakes his head. “As if I needed more wenches.”
“Or more hardtack.”
Garrett grins broadly. Sometimes back in Lothering, when his brother was feeling charitable, he’d smile like that at one of Carver’s jokes, and it was as close to a pat on the back he’d ever get from his older sibling.
But then the smile dissolves.
“Don’t go back,” Garrett says suddenly.
Bye bye, Tallis. It was nice knowing you. Now go have your Secret Agent Adventures with Dagna and Serendipity… another story for another time.
Yesterday’s drabble: Listen to My Hands
Carver helps Merrill stand. She leans into him, awkward and stiff, her hands still clenching every now and again from the aftershocks of the poison. Even once she finds her balance, she does not let go of his forearm, instead clutching the soft underpadding like a drowning man to a life raft.
Each spasm makes Carver’s heartbeat skid against his ribcage, and he keeps his hand hooked around her waist as well—for extra support, of course. After all, Carver is nothing if not a pillar in human shape.
As Merrill sluggishly comes back to herself, Carver too begins to remember other things: that he is on a mountaintop in Orlais, for instance, and that he is covered in wyvern spit and Qunari blood. That there should be another person at Merrill’s side besides him and his brother. An elf. A Qunari.
Both he and Garrett look about for Tallis, but Garrett sights her first.
She kneels by one of Prosper’s guards. The still-sizzling corpse is twisted into strange angles by the ravage of poison and wyvern claws. Tallis rifles through its pockets, searching for something.
Arms crossed, brow furrowed, Garrett levies the full force of his disapproving glare on her turned back. But incredibly, impertinently, she does not seem to notice.
“You know,” he calls out at length, peering at her as if she might vanish into thin air. “The whole lone wolf thing works much better when you’re actually alone.”
She shrugs without turning around. “Ben-Hassrath don’t work in packs,” she says airily.
Eep, a long update today! But I just wanted to get this battle OVER with, you know? It’s a long one (even though I shortened it considerably)! Hopefully you stick through it ‘til the end. ;)
Yesterday’s drabble: That’s Our Cue
Merrill, caught in the sweep of a spell combination, doesn’t appear to notice the duke suddenly materialize behind her. But as the duke raises his crossbow to shoot her in the head—and Carver, heart seizing, is still too far away—she whirls about, casual and graceful, and bashes Prosper in the stomach with her staff.
“I’m busy, your Grace,” she says. “Don’t interrupt.”
The duke rights himself. Scowling, he throws another flask and disappears just as Carver slashes his greatsword right where the duke’s helmet once was.
“Shifty bugger,” he mutters.
“Get them, Leopold!” shouts Prosper from somewhere high up. Carver looks in the direction of the voice; the duke now stands on the overhang where Carver and the rest so shortly ago hid. “Leopold?”
The duke’s wyvern does not jump down from the stone ruin so much as fall off of it. He collides heavily with the cobblestones, and stands still for a moment, woozy and weak.
“He’s sluggish today, it seems,” the duke cries, sounding almost apologetic about it. “Blasted creature.”
Leopold vomits once, the foul-smelling bile burning a hole in the cobblestones.
“Maybe it was all that Anderfellian cheese,” Garrett shouts back.