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The Inquisition Needs Plants: Embrium Massage Balm

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Emprise du Lion was Dorian’s personal definition of hell. Cold and frozen hell. He felt like he was wearing everything he owned, four layers deep, and he was still freezing to death.  Even slinging fire spells right and left wasn’t helping. He sat huddled miserably under two fur blankets as close as he could get to the campfire without setting himself ablaze.

They’d spent what felt like weeks routing Red Templars and climbing endless ladders in that damn quarry.  Everyone’s muscles ached and their normally lively evening fireside chatter was all but gone, replaced by exhausted silence punctuated by the chilling sound of a biting wind whistling through the pines.  Even Sera, who had spent the first few days cheekily lobbing snowballs at everyone and everything, was sitting quietly muttering about shite and snow and something about cookies with raisins.

To add insult to injury the campsite cook seemed only to be able to prepare the same bland tasteless sludgy stew.  The only good thing that could be said about it was that it was served hot.

Even Tei with his absurdly encyclopedic knowledge of spices and herbs hadn’t been able to save the food.  It was truly bleak when even the relentlessly optimistic Inquisitor was letting his fatigue show. He was messing around with a tiny pot of something in the coals of the fire.  It wasn’t edible, at least not with the herbs he’d been putting in. Dorian watched him take a few more pinches of crushed up herbs from one of his pouches or pockets and stir them into the yellowish liquid.  Every once in a while Dorian thought that he caught the faint scent of honey.

Tei dipped a finger into the liquid, then hastily blew on it to cool it down.  He rubbed his fingertip and thumb together and smelled the substance. He seemed pleased with it after a while and pulled out a metal tin, tipped his odd concoction into it and replaced the lid.  He stood up and brushed the snow off of his knees. “I’m going to turn in. We should try to get an early start tomorrow morning.”

Everyone moaned.

Tei smiled apologetically.  “I know, and I’m sorry. But the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can all be back at Skyhold.  Food with flavor! Who’s with me?”

There was a sort of general grumble in response as Cassandra and Sera gathered up their blankets and headed for the tent they were sharing.  

Tei looked over at Dorian.  “Coming?”

“I suppose it would be utterly shortsighted of me to set the actual tent on fire to warm it, wouldn’t it?”  Dorian got to his feet, pulling the furs closer around him.

“Perhaps a touch.  You’ll regret it when it starts snowing.  Which should be soon.” Tei pulled the tent flap aside and went inside.

Dorian followed him.  “More snow? What is this, some kind of Dalish weather prediction magic?”

“Yes.  It’s ancient Elvhen mysterious magic.”  Tei smirked. “That and the fact that you can see it snowing on the hill over behind us and the wind is blowing our way.”

Dorian secured the tent flaps behind him.  “No one likes a smart-arse.”

“Is that why you don’t have friends?”  Tei started taking off his coat.

Dorian gave him a pointed look and continued to shiver.  “Just watching you do that makes me cold.”

“I can’t sleep in all that armor.”  Tei waved Dorian over. “Come on, I’ll warm you up.”

Dorian reluctantly removed his own armor, grumbling the entire time.  “Even your lovely charms aren’t enough to stave off this wretched chill.  Have I mentioned how much I hate it here?” He sat down on one of the cots.  

“Only a hundred times a day,”  Tei said patiently.

“Make it a hundred and one then.”  

“I think I’ve got something that might help,”  Tei said. He showed Dorian the tin.

“You’ve got a sauna and some good brandy in there?”  Dorian deadpanned.

Tei paused.  “You’re partway right.”

“About the brandy?”

“Well, sauna-ish.  It’s a warming balm.”  Tei pulled off the lid and held it out to Dorian.  

“I am not following you, Amatus.”

“Well, I was thinking sauna sort of equals massage-ish.  Never mind, it made more sense in my head. But the balm is real.  Beeswax with embrium seed oil; it should help those sore muscles. Take off your shirt.”  Tei scooped out some of the balm.

“Are you out of your mind?  You’re suggesting that I remove more layers to get warm?  Has the cold completely addled your brain?” Dorian grumbled.

“Just trust me.”  

Dorian gave him a skeptical look but then shook his head and took off his shirt.  He shivered. “You’d better be right about this.”

Tei sat down on the cot behind him and rubbed the salve between his hands to warm it before smoothing it over Dorian’s shoulders.  He smiled as he saw goosebumps appearing. Dorian’s muscles relaxed under his hands and he felt the incredible tightness in his shoulders.  Tei patiently worked at the knots he found under his hands.

At first Dorian just felt cold. The touch was pleasant enough, but nothing like a sauna.  But as Tei worked away massaging the balm into his sore muscles he could feel warmth begin to grow.  It was actually working. All the tightness bled out of his sore muscles. It felt like heaven. He relaxed against Tei.

Tei laughed quietly.  “If you lay back on me I can’t massage your back, you know.”  Tei pushed him upright again.

Dorian laughed.  “It’s your own fault for making that feel so good.  Oh-- yes.” Dorian pushed back against Tei’s hand as he found a particularly tight knot.  “That’s the spot.” Dorian moaned with pleasure at the touch.

“TENT SEX!”  Sera’s voice full of amusement rang out over the entire camp.

Tei froze immediately in place and Dorian looked over his shoulder as the crimson blush spread rapidly over his face.  Dorian couldn’t help himself; he started laughing. It was entirely too hilarious. As often as he tried Tei would never allow anything more intimate than passionate kissing when there was any chance others were around.  He was entirely too private. At the sound of Sera’s peals of laughter Tei seemed to be trying to vanish into the blankets.

“Sorry, Sera!  Sharing body heat is a survival technique!”  Dorian shouted back.

“Dorian!”  Tei shouted at him, perhaps a little too loudly.

Sera responded by wolf whistling until a sharp reprimand from Cassandra reduced the entire exchange to nothing but giggles.

Dorian snickered as Tei pulled the blankets over his head.  Dorian slipped under the blankets with him.

“Creators, why the hell did you have to shout that back at her!”  Tei whispered as he covered his face with both of his hands, but he couldn’t obscure the fact that he was practically glowing red.

Dorian knew he couldn’t be in too much trouble since Tei didn’t immediately shove him off the cot.  “Poor impulse control?”

Tei made a quiet irritated noise.  “You are an impossible man.”

“Improbable certainly, impossible never,”  Dorian quipped.

“Go get your own blankets.  These are mine.” Tei made a half hearted attempt to shove Dorian away.

“You’re the one who made me take off my shirt.  You owe me some body heat.” Dorian curled around him.

Tei sighed.  “I’m still angry with you.”

“How ever can I make it up to you?”  Dorian pressed kisses to Tei’s neck and slid his hand across Tei’s chest.

Tei grabbed his hand.  “Oh no you don’t.” He rolled over to face Dorian.  “I have to lead these people! I can’t have them...”

“What?  Knowing that sound you make when--”

Tei clapped his hand over Dorian’s smart mouth.  “One more word and I will toss you out naked into the snow.”

Dorian’s voice was muffled through Tei’s hand.  “So you are trying to get my pants off then?”

Tei shoved him off the cot.  

Dorian hit the ground with a insulted cry.  “You’re so cold, Amatus.”


Sera was waiting at the tent flap when Tei opened it in the morning.  He made a startled squawk and fell backwards inside.

Dorian sat bolt upright already reaching for his staff when he heard Tei shout.  

“Sex hair!”  Sera threw a snowball that Tei ducked.  It caught Dorian full in the face.

“SERA!”  Dorian sputtered and threw off the blankets and started chasing after her.  The cold outside air hit him all of a sudden and he started swearing.

Tei pulled a blanket around his shoulders and just watched the antics from outside their tent.  Dorian’s not-actually-sex-just-bed-hair was pretty hilarious, as was his moustache. Tei covered his mouth so Dorian wouldn't see him giggling.  

Cassandra wandered over to Tei.  “They are like excitable children, are they not?”

Tei nodded.  “Yeah, they kind of are.”  Tei looked over at her. “Um, last night... I just wanted to apologize for...”  Tei’s ears went pink. “We weren’t--”

“It was nothing.  I know Sera was just making fun.”  Cassandra’s cheeks colored and she started looking at the snow around them very carefully.  She coughed. “I, um, well. I know that is not the sounds of...” she gestured.

Tei just nodded.  “Right, of course.”

“I overheard--”  Cassandra blurted out.  “Once, at Skyhold. I should have knocked and I just--”  She cleared her throat. “I saw nothing, I just left. I apologize.”

Had there been a Fade rift in the vicinity Tei probably would have stepped right into it.  His entire face was red. Maybe the Anchor would just open up and swallow him whole.

“I respect you greatly, Inquisitor.  You are a man of integrity and I am pleased to call you a friend.”  She said in a bit of a rush. “I simply mean to say that Dorian seems to be making you happy, and I am glad for that.  You deserve at least this much in the middle of all this ugliness. And I know that I expressed some concerns about him when he first arrived.  But he has more than proved himself and we are lucky to have such an ally. Even if he does preen too much.”

Tei hugged the blankets close to his face feeling completely embarrassed but also incredibly touched.  “Thank you, Cassandra.” His voice was half muffled behind all the blankets.

“You are welcome.”  She looked away again.

“Now, at the risk of sounding like Cullen, can we talk about anything else now?” he said desperately.

“Maker, please.  I think we should approach the quarry from the east today.”

“That sounds fantastic. Let’s go right now.”

“Perhaps we should first convince Sera not to shoot Dorian.”  Cassandra indicated a cluster of trees across from the campsite where Sera was waving arrows at Dorian from up a tree that he was threatening to set fire to.

Tei shook his head.  “Or we could just leave them here, go back to Skyhold and see if they notice.”

Cassandra began to laugh.  “I see the merit of this plan.”

“Just think, hot baths, good food, and no more climbing quarry ladders,”  Tei said wistfully.

“Warm fires and dry clothing,”  Cassandra sighed. “Soon. First we must eliminate the Red Templars.”

“Maybe I could open a Fade Rift and you could punch them all through it.”

“I am feeling optimistic today. Perhaps we should try.”  Cassandra smiled.