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The Mysterious Case of the Missing Cask of Rum

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The trouble all started with a missing cask of rum.

Cremisius Aclassi found the leader of the Chargers in the second place he’d looked.

The training yard.

Where Cassandra Pentaghast was hitting him with a stick.

Nothing unusual, then.

Just the Iron Bull working some things out.

Seeing his lieutenant and the newest recruit to the Chargers, Bull gestured at Cassandra to stand down. Bull had already forgotten the recruit’s real name, but he’d once been one of the Blackstone Irregulars, so Bull – not one to forgo tradition – had already nicknamed the young, fair-haired elf ‘Blackstone.’

Adjusting his eye-patch, Bull looked down at his men. “You need me for something, boys?”

“Yeah,” Krem said. “Just wanted to report to you. Blackstone and I took inventory like you asked. Everything’s up-to-date except... you know that rum we got from that fight with that crazy Antivan pirate and her men ‘bout a month ago? It ain’t there. It’s gone missing.”

Cassandra raised an eyebrow at Bull. “I assume that we are done here?” she asked. When Bull answered affirmatively, she tossed aside the stick. “Just let me know if you need any more... physical distraction.”

Bull smirked at Cassandra’s retreating back. “Heh. I’d like to physically distract the Seeker.”

“Chief,” Krem said patiently, “you’d like to physically distract everyone.”

Bull turned his smile on Krem. “You got that right,” he said. “After all, a man’s got to have a little fun when he can. Right, private?”

Blackstone scratched at one of his pointy ears, looking dubious. “Uh... sure.”

From what Krem had gathered, Bull’s idea of ‘a little fun’ was making sure that none of the tavern’s serving girls could walk for a week. The price to pay for ‘riding the Bull’. He hoped that the Seeker – for her own sake, at least – had more refined taste.

Krem cleared his throat. “The missing rum, Chief?” he prompted.

“Oh, yeah.” Bull scratched thoughtfully at his chin. “Well, I guess we’d better go investigate. Come on, Krem puff. You, too, elf boy.”

As Bull ambled off, Krem shot a glance at his new recruit. “Well, you heard the man. Let’s go ‘investigate.’”

The elf dutifully snapped to attention with a sharp salute and barked his response like a true solider. “Yes, sir, Lieutenant Aclassi, sir!”

***

The Iron Bull and his Chargers were going to pay for what they’d done.

Not only the Chargers, but the entire Inquisition. All of them were going to pay. That’s what they’d get for messing with Captain Lily Petals. No one stole from the Silver Blades and got away with it. And if this blighted Inquisitor was going to harbor such criminals, then he was only going to get what he deserved, too.

Lily was going to make Inquisitor Lavellan her bitch.

All heads turned as Lily kicked open the door to Skyhold’s tavern.

Beside her, First Mate Pixie cooed with excitement. “Captain Lily? Are we going to have fun now?”

Lily flashed her closest friend and cohort a wicked smile. “Yes, Pixie. You bet your ass we are.”

All eyes were on Lily as she swaggered into the tavern.

Lily’s dark eyes coolly scanned the room. “Bring me someone in charge,” she demanded. “Or else.”

Grey Warden Blackwall recognized trouble when he saw it. And these women oozed trouble as if they regularly ate babies for brunch after bathing in the blood of a thousand fear demons. This, despite the fact that their gorgeous faces and sexy pirate garb – tight bodices that showed off the luscious swells of their breasts, frock coats that narrowed at their slender waists, pants that hugged the delectable curves of their hips, and tall leather boots that accentuated their long, tantalizing legs – made the prick of every man in the room stand at attention.

“Get an eyeful of that, yeah?” Sera murmured lasciviously beside him. “Woof.”

Well, Blackwall reconsidered, apparently the effect of those women weren’t just limited to cocks.

For a moment, no one dared to speak.

Blackwall had taken his vow to aid the Inquisition with all of his heart. He would do everything in his power to defend the Inquisitor, even if it meant sacrificing his own life.

He swaggered up from his bar stool.

Closed the distance.

The Captain eyed the man who approached. A seasoned warrior in bearing. Sword at his side, and armor that had seen battle before. “You in charge here?”

“Me?” Blackwall said. “Nah, I’m just a soldier for the Inquisition.”

Lily snorted. “Well, then I’m not wasting time talking to you.” She raised her voice to the room. “Are you people deaf? What did I say?”

Pixie piped up. “You said to bring you someone in charge, Captain.”

“Damn right I did,” the Captain said, giving the First Mate a warm smile. “Thank you, Pixie.”

Blackwall scowled. “Now, listen here, little lady –”

Suddenly Lily’s hand was on her sword. Spine a little stiffer. “Pixie? Tell me this man didn’t just call me what I think he did.”

“I’m afraid so, Captain,” Pixie said, then grinned wildly with excitement. “I think you may have to teach him a lesson.”

With a smooth, deft movement, Lily slid her sword from its scabbard. It cut dangerously through the air, coming within less than an inch of Blackwall’s throat. “Bring it, old man!”

With a warrior’s instinct, Blackwall leaped back in the nick of time. Simultaneously, he drew his own sword, falling easily into a fighting stance. “I didn’t want trouble,” he muttered. “But you’ve forced my hand.”

Blackwall darted in to attack.

Pixie jumped back. Climbing up on one of the chairs for a better view, she let out a whoop of glee. “Yay! Sword fight!”

Lily raised her blade to parry. The tavern rang with the crash of steel on steel. Suddenly, the tavern’s patrons were scrambling out of the way as Lily and the Warden began their deadly dance of steel. More blows rang out, followed by Blackwall’s curses as the pirate woman expertly forced him back with a series of cleverly calculated attacks.

Blackwall realized, too late, that he had no chance. This woman was a whirling dervish. He was no match for her.

Forced back, Blackwall stumbled into the bar stools. Yelping, Sera managed to scramble up onto the bar, out of the way, a moment before he crashed.

The impact sent the sword flying from his hand.

Pixie cheered from the sidelines. “Get him, Captain! Kick his ass!”

Blackwall made a move to hastily retrieve his weapon, but Lily’s blade at his throat stopped him. For a moment they stared at each other. In Blackwall’s eyes, resignation.

“If you’re going to kill me,” he muttered. “At least have the decency to make it quick.”

Lily smirked. “We may be pirates, but that doesn’t make us murderers,” she said. “But I don’t need any of your sexist bullshit, so I will shut you up.”

Blackwall stared in confusion. Then surprise dawned on his face as Lily pulled back her arm, fingers balling into a fist.

Lily’s fist crashed into his face. An explosion of pain spider-webbed up from his jaw. Stars spinning through his vision, Blackwall’s body slumped down over the bar stools briefly before crumpling to the floor.

Smiling smugly, Lily sheathed her sword with a sharp snap. “Someone get this trash out of the way. And bring me someone in charge.”

As two men crept up and quietly dragged Blackwall’s unconscious body out of the way, Sera pointed a finger at one of the Inquisition soldiers hovering nervously by the door.

“You!” Sera shouted. “Go fetch the Commander!”

***

Commander Cullen Rutherford tried to make sense of the babbling report being given to him by the young soldier who had just appeared in his office.

From what he’d been able to understand, there was some trouble in the tavern. And something had happened to Blackwall. Really, that’s all he needed to know.

“That’s enough,” Cullen snapped. “Let’s go.”

The young man trailed behind Cullen as he strode out of his office, and down the stairs that led to the Herald’s Rest. As he walked, he considered the situation. Pirates at Skyhold? That seemed... unusual. But, from what little he’d gathered, there were only two intruders. Certainly there was no reason to involve the Inquisitor.

Cullen stepped into the tavern. There was a gorgeous woman on a chair to his right, another in the middle of the room, and Sera was crouching on the bar while everyone else cowered in fear in the corners.

Turning, both of the pirate women looked at him. Two pairs of eyes swept him up and down in an appreciative way that made him suddenly feel like he was a one of those scrumptious looking tarts in the display case of Josephine’s favorite bakery in Val Royeaux.

A low whistle escaped the dark red lips of the woman on the chair, followed by a breathy, “Fuck... me...”

Taken aback, Cullen started. “Ah... excuse me...?”

Pixie glanced at her companion. “Captain? Can I have this one?”

“Hot damn,” Lily murmured. She lifted a hand, letting it tap thoughtfully against her lips. “I don’t know, Pixie. We might have to share this one.”

Cullen blinked. “Ah... if you mean to say...” Trailing off, he cleared his throat, trying desperately to regain some lost composure. “I really don’t think that this... conversation... is appropriate...”

Ignoring him completely, the women looked at each other. Pixie didn’t want to share the Commander. Pouting, lip quivering, she pleaded the Captain with her eyes.

Lily sighed with disgust. “Fuck, Pix. What have I told you about making puppy eyes? I hate it when you make puppy eyes.” She sighed again, this time with resignation. “Fine. You can have him all to yourself.”

“YAY!” Pixie squealed. Overjoyed, she leaped down from her chair, then made a mad dash towards the Commander.

The next thing Cullen knew, the strange woman had jumped up on him, using his shoulders to hoist herself up and wrap her strong legs around his waist. Without thinking, his arms wrapped around her as if to keep her from falling.

It had been a long time since Cullen had been this close to a woman. In Kirkwall, he had avoided all romantic entanglements, and as Knight-Captain of the Templars there, he would have set a poor example if he’d frequented the Blooming Rose like some of his men did. But it was so very familiar – the feel of a warm body against his. Delicate arms curling about his neck. The soft swell of breasts crushed up against his chest.

“Madam,” Cullen protested. “What you’re doing is not... acceptable. As the Commander of the Inquisition’s forces, I am going to have to insist that you and your companion leave Skyhold immediately. If you do not comply, then we will – oh, Maker’s Breath...

Cullen’s words hissed off as Pixie’s mouth nuzzled his neck. Hot, moist breath in his ear, followed by the slow slide of lips, the tease of tongue, and the heady nip of teeth.

Moaning softly, Cullen tightened his arms around Pixie, knowing he should stop this but unable to actually bring himself to do it.

For a moment, Lily watched the internal struggle on the handsome Commander’s face. A struggle he was fast losing, judging by the haziness that had come into his eyes. Maker’s balls, men. Sometimes it was just too easy. She was kind of glad she’d agreed to let Pixie have this one. It was enough for Pixie that the man had a working dick and looked pretty. But Lily needed something more than that. For fuck’s sake, couldn’t Andraste send her a challenge? Just this once?

With another sigh of disgust, Lily scanned the room until her gaze fell upon the elven woman still crouched upon the bar. Crossing her arms, she fixed the elf in a challenging stare. “Is this the best the Inquisition can do?” she demanded. “Or do you have someone who won’t pussy out as soon as some woman kisses their neck?”

Sera looked thoughtful. Then a grin curved her lips. Pointing at the serving girl huddled against the wall, she issued a command. “You!” Sera shouted. “Go fetch Dorian!”

***

Dorian had been relaxing with a book in the library when one of the tavern girls came to fetch him. He listened to what she had to say, then he stood up, setting aside his book, straightening his clothes, and reaching for his mage staff.

He smirked to himself as he made his way to the tavern. So, from the sound of it, the Commander had gotten in over his head with some pirates. Dorian was going to enjoy teasing him about this over their next game of chess.

Well, this problem was nothing that a little magic couldn’t fix. Staff at the ready, he pushed open the door to the Herald’s Rest.

All eyes turned to him. As they should.

To his right, Cullen was sprawled across a chair. One of the pirate women was straddling his lap, making movements with her hips that was practically obscene. She was clearly distracted, and Dorian dismissed her as not being an immediate threat. The dark-haired woman with the feathers in her hat and the deadly cutlass at her side, however, was.

Dorian wasted no time. Lifting his staff, he took aim at the Captain with a smug smile. “Play time is over, I’m afraid,” he said. “But I promise this won’t hurt much.”

Fuck! Captain Lily thought. Steel was her specialty, not magic. And she was quite certain that whatever spell this Dorian was going to release was probably going to hurt like a son of a bitch. There was only recourse available. “Pixie!” she roared. “Mage!”

In a flash, Pixie leaped up out of the Commander’s lap. Whirling, she made a mad dash towards the mage as she slipped a hand down into the small leather pouch she wore on her belt.

As her footsteps thundered, Dorian spun about. Before he could intone the spell on his lips, Pixie’s hand flew up in the air, fingers unclenching from her delicate fist.

Sparkly dust rained down upon him.

Flabbergasted by this turn of events, Dorian stared down at the dust that glittered all down the front of his robes. “Kaffas!” he exclaimed in shock. “My clothes!”

Pixie blinked up at him innocently.

Dorian scoffed. “I assure you that you will regret that,” he said, then lifted his staff, this time aiming at Pixie, and shouted the words to his spell.

Nothing happened.

For a moment Dorian remained frozen, bewildered, unable to make sense of why his spell had not been cast. Then, as realization struck, his eyes widened in terror. “You...” he sputtered. “What did you do?”

Pixie grinned. “Pixie dust!”

Dorian startled as the Captain’s voice purred in his ear. “Pixie’s special blend of seven herbs and spices. Cuts you off from the Fade for a few hours.”

Dorian stared at her, agape.

Lily considered him more carefully. Tall and well-built, especially for a mage. Good hair, pretty gray eyes, nice lips. Except...

Her eyes narrowed. “What the fuck is that on your face?”

Dorian cocked an eyebrow.

Lily continued to stare at him. “That mustache is ridiculous.”

Dorian crossed his arms. Waiting.

For some reason, as ridiculous as it was, Lily couldn’t stop staring at it. The dark, luscious fullness of it. The way it curled up perfectly at the ends. The way it shone in the light...“Huh,” she murmured. “Actually... it looks good.”

Dorian’s lips curved into a devious smile.

Lily literally couldn’t tear her gaze away. That mustache... it was fucking mesmerizing. “Shit, it looks amazing.”

“Forget about the mustache, Captain,” Pixie breathed. “Maker’s breath, you should see his butt.”

Dorian yelped as Pixie seized a handful of his ass. Turning, he gave her a dark glare. “How dreadfully rude!” he snapped. “Would you mind not doing that?!”

Fortunately, Dorian turning around meant that Lily was finally no longer spellbound by his superb facial hair. Glancing down, though, she had to admit that Pixie hadn’t been kidding about the mage’s ass. Round and firm like two melons in a sack.

Dorian yelped again as the Captain copped a feel. Turning, he scuttled back until his backside was safely up against the bar. Glancing up, he spotted the rogue elf. “Sera! Can’t you do... I don’t know... something?”

“I sent for you,” Sera said. “How was I s’posed to know they’d throw some weird sparkly shite on you, eh?”

Suddenly the women were on either side of him, hemming him in. Both of them staring at him with hungry interest.

“Captain?” Pixie cooed as she reached up to play with his perfect hair. “Can I have this one, too? He’s so pretty.”

Lily considered that. Andraste’s ass, the man was hotter than summer in Minrathous, but he certainly wasn’t the challenge that Lily had been hoping for.

“Can you – what?” Dorian screeched a protest as he slapped her hand away. “No, you cannot! Absolutely not!”

Pixie was irresistible. No man could resist Pixie.

Well, no straight man.

Lily cocked her head at her cohort. “Pix – I think we’ve found ourselves a poof.”

“What?! A poof...?” Pixie’s bottom lip quivered. “But... but... but I wanted to play with him.”

Dorian cleared his throat loudly. “Yes, definitely a... poof!” he said hastily. “I’m so very... poofy. Gay as the day is long. So gay I eat cock for breakfast.”

Behind him, Sera snorted a laugh.

Lily shot her a glance. “Good one.”

Sera grinned. “Thought so.”

“Still,” Lily said, as she trailed her fingers down Dorian’s long, bronze neck, making the mage flinch, “unless I actually get to talk to the man in charge, then we’re going to have to settle for playing with the sexy mage here.”

Dorian whimpered. Then turned his head, hissing, “Sera! Please!”

Sera nodded. Then she extended her arm, pointing at one of the Chargers. “You!” Sera shouted. “Go fetch the Inquisitor!”

 

Chapter Text

At Varric’s suggestion, Hawke and her crew headed towards the Herald’s Rest to have a nice, relaxing drink after a long afternoon of baking in Skyhold’s well-stocked kitchens. In Hawke’s backpack, the safely-wrapped, sweet-smelling cookies were still warm from the ovens.

As she turned the corner, she nearly collided with one of the Chargers who was rushing from the other direction. “Serah Hawke!” Stitches panted. “I can’t find the Inquisitor anywhere. Have you seen him?”

Hawke shrugged. “Sorry, I haven’t,” she said. “Why? Something wrong?”

“Trouble in the tavern!” Stitches said, already hurrying off again. “Pirate women! And they’ve taken Dorian and the Commander hostage!”

As the Charger disappeared in the dark, Hawke glanced down at Varric. “Well!” Varric said. “Looks like we won’t be having that nice, relaxing drink after all.”

“Oh, we will,” Hawke said. “We just might have to beat up a few pirates, first. We’re good at that, remember?”

Anders, however, did not smile at Hawke’s quip. Instead, he was fretting. “I don’t feel good about this, Hawke,” he admitted. “Dorian’s a powerful mage. For him to be taken hostage... it sounds like we could be walking into a bad situation.”

From Hawke’s other side, Fenris snorted. “The magister from Tevinter? Fuck him.”

“Now, Fenris,” Hawke said patiently. “We’ve talked about this. Dorian is not a magister. He’s a very nice man. He reads stories to us in the pillow fort.”

Petulant, Fenris grumbled. “Fine. He’s not a magister. But he’s still a mage.”

Anders threw his hands up into the air. “And.... here we go again.”

Green eyes slid across to the mage. “I wasn’t talking about you, Anders. You and Bethany are the only mages I trust.”

Varric snickered. “And what a long, fun road of trust that was.”

Hawke brushed a lock of red hair back from her brow. “As heart-warming as this is, I suggest we get to the tavern. We have pirates to thwart, Dorian and Cullen to save, and if Fenris doesn’t get some wine soon, he’s only going to get more grumpy.”

Fenris crossed his arms. “I am not grumpy,” he muttered grumpily.

Hawke, bold as brass, threw the door open and stomped into the Herald’s Rest.

The scene they were presented with didn’t seem extraordinary. Patrons were sitting quietly against the walls of the tavern. The bard was tucked in one corner, playing some light music. And at the nearest table, Dorian and Cullen sat. In each of their laps was a scantily-dressed woman, arms slung over the men’s shoulders as they gulped liquor straight from the bottles they’d taken from behind the bar.

Even that wouldn’t have been a strange sight at the Herald’s Rest if Hawke didn’t know better. Looking closer, she noted how miserable Dorian looked. As for Cullen – well, he didn’t look unhappy as the woman in his lap petted him, but he certainly looked dazed. As if someone had just hit him in the head with an archdemon.

Varric hummed. “And I thought Isabela was bad.”

Fenris snorted again. “She is bad.”

At that, the Captain slowly lowered the bottle of hootch in her hand. A look of relief washed over Dorian’s face as Lily climbed out of his lap. Strutting forward, the Captain’s shrewd gaze swept over the new arrivals. “Wait – do you know Isabela? As in Admiral Isabela, the Pirate Queen of Rivain?”

Varric leaned closer in. “This one looks like trouble,” he murmured. “You’d better be careful, Hawke.”

Suddenly, Lily’s eyes lit up with recognition. “Wait a minute – you’re Hawke? The Champion of Kirkwall? No fucking way! Isabela’s told me all about you!”

“I don’t use that title much anymore, but yes,” Hawke said. Deciding that this was actually a good turn of events for once, Hawke held out a hand. “Nice to meet you. Last name’s Hawke, but you can call me Maggie.”

Lily shook it warmly. “Captain Lily Petals.” She tilted her head towards the table. “That’s Pixie.”

At the mention of her name, Pixie looked up. Then her eyes widened at the sight of the beautiful broody elf. “Oh, Maker! Captain! Just look at that elf!”

Fenris lifted one eyebrow in confusion as Pixie jumped up from her chair and rushed towards him, then leaned forward to peer in his face. “Ooh, his green eyes are so pretty.” Whirling, she gave Lily another pleading look. “Captain! This one, too!”

Lily sighed. This elf looked tough, but she preferred her men with a little more meat on them than elves usually possessed. “Fine, Pixie. Whatever makes you happy.”

“Yay!” Pixie squealed.

Fenris growled as Pixie’s hand latched firmly onto his firm and delectable behind. Squirming away, he darted behind the Champion, using her as a shield.“Hawke.”

“Wait!” Pixie cried. “Don’t run away! Running away makes me sad. Let me love you!”

Maker, that elf! She had to have him. He was perfect! That white hair, those green eyes, that smoking hot broodiness...

Pixie gave chase. Except that Fenris managed to elude her greedy hands by circling around Hawke. This continued on for a few moments until Hawke finally had enough of it.

“Will you two stop?!” Maggie shouted. “You’re making me dizzy!”

Pixie skidded to a stop. She then happened to notice that the man with the long, feathery coat and the strawberry-blond hair was rather pretty, too. Through his coat, she gave his ass an experimental squeeze.

Anders startled, but didn’t run away. “Well, hello there!”

“Ooh! Captain! This one has a nice butt, too!” Pixie exclaimed. “Shit, if I’d known all the men in the Inquisition had such nice butts, I would have asked to come sooner.”

Maggie reached up a hand, scratching at her chin as she looked at Pixie. “Ah... so I know that your friends with Isabela, but... could you maybe stop being so grabby hands with Anders and Fenris?”

Pixie pouted. Crossing her arms over her ample bosom, she gave the Champion a petulant look. “Well, it’s not like both of them are yours, are they?”

In the background, Varric laughed.

Maggie looked a little sheepish. “Ah... well... to tell the truth...”

Lily barked out a laugh. “Great fucking Maker,” she said. “You are with both of them, aren’t you?” Her eyes swept over first Fenris, then Anders, and let her imagination run a little wild. “Shit, that’s hot.”

At that thought, Pixie’s legs started to quiver. It was a wonder that she wasn’t already a puddle of useless flesh on the dirty tavern floor. “Sweet Andraste!” Pixie said, as she fanned herself with her hand. She turned her puppy eyes on Hawke. “Can I least borrow them? Just for a little bit? PLEASE?”

Fenris shrank back, trying to hide behind Hawke’s back. “No!”

Maggie shrugged. “Sorry, but... Fenris said no.”

Pixie pouted. This wasn’t going the way she wanted it to go. Then again...

At that thought, Pixie lit up. “Ooh. Can I at least watch them fuck each other?”

The look Anders gave Fenris positively smoldered. His voice was smoke. “I’ll let you be on top again.”

Fenris’ eyes widened briefly. Then narrowed.“Vishante kaffas, Anders!” he snarled. “Don’t encourage this woman!”

Hawke shrugged again. “Sorry. No can do.”

Pixie’s bottom lip began to quiver again. The look she gave Lily could have broken a dead man’s heart. “Captain... she won’t let me play with the pretty men! Do something!”

Oh, Maker. Pixie was making the puppy eyes again. Shit, there was no way Lily could say no. With a sigh, she gave Maggie an apologetic look. “Sorry, but Pixie needs to borrow your two friends there. But don’t worry – she won’t hurt them. She won’t even touch them. Right, Pixie?”

“Ooh, yes! I promise! Pixie swear! Just looking!”

Maggie straightened up. Hand menacingly on the pommel of her sword. “I’m afraid I’m not willing to give them up without a fight.”

Lily’s wicked laugh filled the room. “Are you certain you wish to test your steel against mine?”

From his seat at the table, Dorian had been following the conversation. “Maggie, my dear,” he warned. “You may not want to accept that challenge. Apparently she defeated Blackwall rather easily.” Dorian paused, considering. “That hairy lummox may not be very skilled with basic hygiene, but you know how skilled he is with a sword.”

Dorian had a point – Hawke did know. Not that she herself was a slouch at swordplay, but.... the stakes here were a little too high to take foolish risks. “Well, why don’t we make this more interesting?”

Her curiosity piqued, Lily murmured, “And what did you have in mind?”

“I propose we have a drinking contest. Last woman standing gets all the men.”

Fenris growled a protest. “Hawke... if you lose...”

Anders chuckled. “If Hawke loses, then I get to be on top.”

Pixie’s eyes grew so wide, they nearly popped clean out of her head. “Fuck... me...” she murmured breathlessly. Then she turned back to Lily. “Captain! YES! Let’s do it! Drinking contest! We’ll fucking win and then I’ll get all the men! Fuck yes!”

Lily, however, wore a look of concern. “Your idea is a good one, Maggie,” she said. “However, there’s one problem. This tavern is poorly stocked. I doubt there’s even enough booze to make this much of a contest.”

For a moment, everyone was silent.

Then Sera piped up. “Wait!” she said. Slithering down off the bar, she scurried off into the back room. A few moments later, the rogue elf returned, rolling a large wooden cask before her, which she deposited at Lily’s feet. “How ‘bout this, yeah? Should be enough to get the whole tavern good and ripped.”

Lily crouched down. In large black letters was a familiar stamp, along with the familiar words.

PROPERTY OF THE SILVER BLADES.

Straightening, Lily eyed Sera coolly. “Where did you get this?”

“Nicked it,” Sera said. “From the Chargers.” Then she grinned. “Wish I coudda seen big Bully’s face when he found out, though.”

“Good girl,” Lily said approvingly.

Sera beamed at her.

“All right, then!” Lily shouted to the tavern. “Drinks are on me!”

***

Inquisitor Lavellan was sitting in the uppermost room of the broken tower, reading a book.

It was a quiet place that few people knew about. Reaching the little room required some scrambling over piles of rubble, climbing a ladder, and squeezing down a half-ruined corridor. In fact, the only ones who knew about it, other than himself, were Leliana and Cassandra. Therefore Lavellan was rather surprised when Stitches appeared.

“Inquisitor! I’ve been looking for you for hours.”

Lavellan listened as Stitches described the trouble in the tavern. As soon as the Charger said that Dorian was in danger, the Inquisitor immediately scrambled to his feet. “Let’s go.”

The Inquisitor was well-known for his stoicism, so his expression was as blank as an Orlesian mask as he strode swiftly towards the tavern. But beneath that mask, he was a knot of worry as he thought about Dorian. He wasn’t quite sure when it had happened, but at some point, he’d started developing feelings for the mage from Tevinter.

Once at the Herald’s Rest, the Inquisitor squared his shoulders and thrust out his chest before he threw open the door.

Whatever he’d been imagining, it hadn’t quite prepared him for this scene.

He noted that nearly everyone in the tavern was passed out in various positions – slouched in their chairs, slumped over tables, or just lying on the floor. Including most of the Chargers in their usual corner, as well as Fenris and Anders, who were curled up in a little tangle near the back. In the middle of the room, there was a broken, empty cask that smelled strongly of rum. But what really caught his attention were the two pirates who were performing a dance number on top of the bar while singing sea shanties at the top of their lungs. And – to his surprise – they were not alone: Sera and Hawke were singing and dancing, too.

As he stared in shock, Commander Rutherford staggered up to him. His fur stole was missing, and both his clothes and hair were in complete disarray. “Maker’s breath, Inquisitor,” Cullen mumbled. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Cullen’s breath would have halted a charging dragon in its tracks. “Commander... are you drunk?”

Cullen tried to focus. “Oh... I... there was a contest... and...” Cullen sighed. “Yes, Inquisitor. I’m so very drunk right now.”

Lavellan studied Cullen a little closer. “Commander? Is that lipstick on your collar?”

Before Cullen could answer, Dorian came rushing over and grabbed onto Lavellan’s arm. “Michael! Thank the Maker you’re here! Those women are wild.” Dorian’s expression was that of a traumatized man, and he dropped his voice to almost a whisper. “They touched my ass!”

Lavellan’s real name – his elven name – was terribly hard for most shemlen to pronounce. He didn’t like the shem name he’d taken, but hearing it bathed in Dorian’s delicious voice made him quiver.

The musical number complete, Pixie let out a whoop. “Awesome! Captain – tongue hug!”

Grinning, Lily slid her arm around Pixie’s waist, reeled her in, and pressed a solid, somewhat sloppy kiss right on her mouth.

Silence fell as the men stared at the two women making out on top of the bar.

Then Sera, grinning from ear to ear, fist pumped the air, shouting, “FUCK YEAH!”

Letting Pixie go, Lily turned, catching the elf up in her arms and expertly spinning her around. “Your turn, gorgeous,” Lily said, and planted a deep, devouring kiss on Sera’s lips.

Cullen muttered a somewhat breathless. “Oh my... that’s... something...”

“Hmm,” Michael murmured approvingly. “I don’t disagree.”

“Ugh,” Dorian grumbled. “How typical. Men getting off on two women together.”

On the bar, Lily released Sera. Staggering back, the elf then plopped down on her butt on the bar, too stunned to do anyting.

Michael turned to the mage. “To be honest, Dorian, I like women a lot, but I prefer someone with more... masculine charms.” Smiling, the Inquisitor gave Dorian his most sultry look. “Like yours.”

Dorian’s eyes lit up. “Inquisitor,” he said with a little laugh, and returning Michael’s sultry look with one of his own. “It’s about time you finally noticed my charms. I was beginning to wonder if there weren’t something wrong with your eyes.”

From their perch on the bar, Lily and Pixie had been listening to this exchange.

“Captain,” Pixie murmured in a low voice. “Is that the Inquisitor? He’s so small and cute! And that mage is so big and sexy. And... and... and... can you just imagine?”

One thing she knew well about Pixie was that the woman had a singularly filthy mind, and Lily loved her for it. Oh, yeah, Lily could definitely imagine a little sexy mage-on-elf action. “Hot damn, boys!” Lily shouted from the bar. “Just kiss already!”

Dorian startled. Then whirled to face them. “What?” he practically screeched. Then his voice took on a condescending tone. “My sexuality is not a thing to put on display for your gratification! I am not here to fuel your lurid gay men fantasies. Some things are best done in private. And – Michael... what are you doing?”

The Inquisitor had slid his hands up Dorian’s chest, then up over his shoulders. “Oh, Dorian,” he murmured. “I can’t help myself. Creators, you’re just so fucking hot.”

“I know I’m hot, Inquisitor,” Dorian said. “But –”

Dorian’s breath caught as the Inquisitor, leaning up on his toes, pressed up against his body and hungrily kissed him.

A moment later, Cullen staggered out of the way as the Inquisitor shoved Dorian halfway across the room. Bottles and glasses crashed to the floor as Michael pushed Dorian up on the table where he’d been sitting before. As the Inquisitor’s tongue lapped a trail up Dorian’s neck, Dorian moaned wantonly and squeezed the elf’s ass with both hands.

Lily and Pixie stared at the spectacle. “Captain,” Pixie murmured, her eyes wide again as the two men started grinding their hips lustily together. “I can’t feel my legs.”

“Damn, that’s hot,” Lily agreed. Still, more of this would be more fun. She shouted at the Inquisitor. “Maker’s balls, Lavellan! Throw that sexy mage up against the wall and just fuck him already!”

Dorian gasped as the Inquisitor’s teeth sank into the soft fleshy part of his ear. “Yes... Michael... please... I need it... I...” Shuddering, Dorian managed to regain some of his composure, pushing the Inquisitor away. “I mean, no! Not here! I mean... I don’t know what I mean, kaffas!”

Lily growled in exasperation. “Fuck, Lavellan! Don’t be a damn pussy! I mean, look at him! He totally wants it! HOW CAN YOU NOT FUCK HIM?”

Pixie, wanting to be helpful, thought for a moment. Then she perked up. “Oh, I know! Maybe the Inquisitor would rather... you know... be on the receiving end...? You know... bottomsies?”

“Well, actually...” the Inquisitor began. He then cleared his throat and snapped, “I don’t see how that is any of your business!”

Behind him, Dorian, husky-voiced, murmured softly, “I’d like to make it my business.”

Michael choked.

Pixie perked up again. “Ooh, ooh, I know, Captain! Why don’t we –”

The Inquisitor strained to hear as Pixie leaned over and whispered in Lily’s ear. And why did he feel suddenly alarmed when Lily’s lips curled into a wicked smile?

“Good idea, Pixie. Let’s do it.”

The Inquisitor was even more alarmed as the women jumped down off the bar and came at them. Creators, they were far stronger than they looked, because neither he nor Dorian were able to stop the women from strong-arming them towards the storage area just off the main room. Without his daggers and Dorian’s magic, they were as helpless as kittens. Tossed inside, he and Dorian could only stare at the pirate Captain as she grinned.

“Here’s the deal,” Lily said. “You boys clearly have some sexual tension to work out. So no one is coming out of this room until someone gets fucked.”

“In the butt,” Pixie added helpfully.

Dorian laughed weakly. “Maker... these women are insatiable.”

Insatiable... yes, there was only one solution, then.

Right before Lily closed the door and locked them in, Michael snapped an order at the Champion. “Hawke!” he shouted. “Go fetch the Iron Bull!”

 

Chapter Text

Despite a lengthy investigation, the Iron Bull and his two men hadn’t uncovered any information about the missing cask of rum.

They had searched all of Skyhold. Talked to everyone. And now they were down in the poorly-lit wine cellars, the only place they hadn’t yet looked.

From the corner of his eye, Krem caught a blur of something darting through the shadows. He startled. “Fuck me,” he muttered. “Did you see that, Chief?”

“Oh, yeah,” Bull rumbled. “I saw something.” Tilting his big head, he glanced at Blackstone. “Elf boy. Why don’t you go check it out?”

Blackstone gave Bull another dubious look. “What if it’s something dangerous?” he asked. “Like a wolf?”

Krem snickered. “I doubt there’s any wolves in Skyhold’s wine cellars. Rats, maybe. At any rate – you heard the man, Blackstone. Go check it out.”

The elf immediately clicked his heels together with a proper salute. “Yes, sir, Lieutenant Aclassi, sir!”

Bull and Krem watched as Blackstone scampered off to do Krem’s bidding.

Crossing his arms across his massive chest, Bull fixed his lieutenant in his gaze. “Hey, Krem,” he said. “How come when I tell the new boy to do something he doesn’t do it, but when you tell him he trips over himself to get it done?”

Krem’s eyes sparked with laughter. “Can’t say that I noticed.”

Bull’s eye trailed back to the path that the elf had taken. “Well. He seems like a good kid. Something kind of weird about him, though.”

“He seems perfectly normal to me, Chief.”

Despite any teasing to the contrary, Bull trusted Krem’s judgment implicitly. “You know what kind of work he used to do for the Irregulars?”

Krem made a little half shrug. “They’re not much different than the Chargers. A group of mercs willing to do the jobs that no one else wants to do, or that can’t go through ‘official’ channels.”

“Well,” Bull finally decided, “he ain’t shit in battle, so I guess we’ll keep him.”

Krem grunted in agreement. Then started to wonder what was taking the private so long. Hopefully a wolf hadn’t gotten him. “Hey, Chief. We done looking for this cask of rum?”

“Yeah, fuck it,” Bull said. “It ain’t like we paid for the damn thing, anyway.” Bull paused, and a familiar look came into his eye. “You remember that pirate captain, Krem? I sure wouldn’t mind seeing her again. Seeing a lot more.”

Krem’s eyes were laughing again. “She’d probably just try to kill you, Chief.”

“I know,” Bull said. “That’s what would make it fun.”

Krem rolled his eyes.

Then they caught the sound of footfalls and the soft clank of armor before the Champion of Kirkwall came into view. “Bull!” Maggie said. “The Inquisitor sent me to get you. He’s having a little trouble in the tavern.”

“Trouble, eh?” Bull rumbled. “At least that should liven things up.” Straightening as he stretched, Bull’s horns scrapped across the ceiling, raining gravel and tiny clods of dirt down upon them. “Come on, Krem.” Raising his voice, he shouted towards the shadows. “Charger! We’re moving out!”

As Hawke headed out back to the tavern, Blackstone trotted up. He had a smudge of dirt across his nose, cobwebs in his pale hair, and something small, orange and white in his hands. Eyes bright, he looked at Krem. “Sir! Look what I found! Can we keep it?”

Bull stared for a moment before he realized what it was. Then a shiver of dread coursed up his spine, and he barely managed to keep himself from recoiling in horror. “Oh, fuck no,” Bull said. “There’s no fucking way we’re gonna keep that.”

***

Lily and Pixie waited outside the storeroom door.

Pixie, who wasn’t very good at being patient, fidgeted. “I don’t hear anything,” she complained. “I hate waiting. When are they going to get started?”

Lily shrugged. “Hard to say, Pix. Did you see what that mage was wearing? It’s probably going to take half an hour just to get him out of those clothes.”

Pouting a little, Pixie returned to listening at the door. Nothing happened for a few minutes. Then, suddenly, there was a noise like a sack of flour hitting the floor. She perked up. “What was that?”

A cool voice with a heavy Antivan accent rolled over from Six’s left. “That, my friends, was the sound of a body being thrown up against the wall.”

Turning, they saw a sexy blond elf, dressed in leathers, leaning casually against the wall.

“Hey, Zevran,” Lily said. “Where did you come from?”

“Oh, I was just hiding in the shadows. Watching. Listening.” He smiled. “You know, there is never a dull moment when you two beautiful and delicious ladies make an appearance.” Zevran paused, cocking his head as a metallic sound came from behind the door. “And that was the sound of a garment with many buckles being tossed halfway across the room.”

“Ooh,” Pixie murmured, eyes wide at that thought. “How do you even know?”

Zevran flashed a coy smile. “My dear, I am an expert. Of course I know what is happening behind that door by sound alone.”

“In that case...” Pixie said, “Keep listening! Tell us more!”

For a while, not much seemed to be happening behind the door. Impatient again, Pixie frowned at the assassin. “I don’t hear anything,” she groused. “What’s going on in there?”

“Well, if I had to make an educated guess,” Zevran said, looking thoughtful. “I would have to assume that someone is sucking something.”

“Ooh,” Pixie said. “Sucking is good.”

Suddenly there was a loud moan.

“Actually,” Zevran said, “I think they have moved on from the sucking.”

Listening again, they could hear voices. Dorian’s was too low to make out any words, but, as time passed, the Inquisitor’s voice became much louder, accompanied by a telltale rhythmic thumping against the wall.

“Uh... Dorian... please... oh, Creators... yes, right there... Dorian... yes... fuck yes... uh... fuck!”

Pixie had to fan herself. The Inquisitor’s velvety voice making those obscene sounds was just too much. “Maker!” she cried. Running over to Cullen, she grabbed him by the hand. “Come with me! Now!”

Cullen, still a bit drunk and overwhelmed by the force of nature which was Pixie, blinked and sputtered. “What...? I mean... is there something...? Ah... where are we going...?”

Pixie’s head turned around. Where were they going? The only private place was the storeroom currently occupied by the Inquisitor and the mage. Maybe upstairs? No, she couldn’t possibly wait that long. She made a snap decision. “Behind the bar!”

Lily watched with amusement as Pixie dragged the handsome Commander behind the bar. One shove sent him down from Lily’s view a second before Pixie pounced.

For a moment, Sera – who was still perched on the bar – watched what was happening below. Then she made a howl of disgust, hastily scrambling down on the other side of the bar. “Eww!” she cried. “I don’t need to see that!”

Zevran’s honey brown eyes lit up with interest. “Well, I do.” Taking his time, he sauntered over to the bar. Once there, Zevran plopped his elbows down on the bar, then leaned over to take a good look at what was happening on the other side.

“Oh, my,” he said. “I had no idea that the Commander of the Inquisition possessed such a big sword.”

Cullen’s voice floated up. “Maker’s breath... ah... that feels amazing...”

“Why that little minx,” Zevran said with genuine admiration. He glanced at Lily. “Does she not have a gag reflex?” he asked. “And why did I not know about this? I feel like I’ve been missing out.”

Lily merely shrugged in response.

Zevran continued to watch for a few more minutes. Then ducked as a pair of lacy red panties sailed aggressively over the bar. He shot Lily a reproachful glance. “And now I’m wondering why no one told me that your friend here was so... flexible.”

The door to the tavern opened and Hawke staggered in. Noting Sera at the nearby table, Maggie paused. “Sera? Did I miss anything?”

Sera laughed. “I’ll say. The Commander’s got his sword all spit-shined now. And Inky is takin’ it – woomph! – right up the Dales.”

Maggie considered that, and decided that her assistance in either of these matters was certainly not required. “Well, if everyone’s okay – I’m going to lie down for a bit. It’s been a long day. Bull and his men should be here in a minute.”

Towards the back, Maggie found her boys curled up in a little tangle. Setting her sword aside, she didn’t bother to take off her armor. Instead she just wormed her way in-between their sleeping bodies. Fenris mumbled something in his sleep and then shifted, throwing an arm around her waist and curling up against her. Anders, on the other hand sat up, running his face. “Hawke?”

“Sorry, Anders,” Maggie mumbled. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.”

Anders thought about it. Except he was awake now, and not at all drunk. A fun little side effect of having Justice was that he tended to burn off the alcohol in his system faster than he could drink it. Plus, since he was sober, sleeping on the floor didn’t sound very appealing anymore.

And – speaking of sounds – there were some rather interesting noises coming from behind the bar. Someone was getting fucked to capacity. Listening for a moment, he laughed softly in wonder – Andraste’s flaming knickerweasels, was that Cullen? The same straight-laced, tight-assed Templar they’d known in Kirkwall?

Anders was contemplating getting up to investigate when the door to the tavern opened once more and the Iron Bull stepped in. He was followed by Cremisius Aclassi and a young elf that Anders had never seen before.

Anders felt his heart do a strange little flip and become soft as wax. Andraste’s ashes, the man was gorgeous – fair-haired, pale-eyed, and lean under form-fitting armor. And if that wasn’t enough to melt Anders’ heart, there was one other, very important detail.

The cat the young elf was carrying so protectively against his chest was the spitting image of Ser-Pounce-A-Lot.

***

Bull and Krem were still arguing as they walked in.

Bull’s voice was all deep menace. “Krem. I said we ain’t keeping no gods damned cat.”

“Come on, Chief,” Krem cajoled. “What’s the harm? Blackstone here said he’d take care of it. You’re acting like it’s a blighted demon or somethin’.”

“Krem,” Bull growled. “Cats are creepy. I don’t have to like them. And if I say no cats in the Chargers, that means no damn cats. Better if we just toss the little shit against the wall.”

Toss the cat against the wall? Blackstone scowled, holding the cat even closer to his body. He couldn’t let the innocent creature come to harm. And he didn’t trust the Qunari. Moving quickly, he scurried away, far out of Bull’s reach, just in case.

Blackstone set the cat down on the bar, but kept it close so it wouldn’t run away. However, the cat seemed content to stay next to him, even purring and head butting him when he started to pet it. His eyes were on the Qunari though, so he didn’t see the man who had crept up behind him until the man spoke.

“Oh, a kitty! Can I pet it?”

Blackstone’s head whipped around with an angry glare, ready to tell the intruder to fuck off, but all words died on his lips when he saw the man and his breath unexpectedly caught.

Oh.

Warm, honey brown eyes. A kind mouth. A strong hand that pushed back the long strawberry blond hair that had come undone while he slept. And so many soft-looking feathers on his coat that made Blackstone want to pet him.

And why did his face feel so warm all of a sudden?

“Umm.... sure,” was Blackstone’s less-than-eloquent response.

Smiling, Anders reached out a hand to pet the cat. Pure joy infused his expression. “I love cats,” Anders admitted, his eyes flicking up to meet the elf’s. “Does he have a name?”

Blackstone had already named him, in his mind, at least. “Yeah, umm... Cremisius.”

“That’s a good name,” Anders said. “A strong name. I like it.”

Blackstone felt a little jolt of electricity as Anders’ fingers accidentally brushed over his in the cat’s fur.

As they continued to pet the cat, the Chargers’ lieutenant approached them with a heavy tread. “Hate to break it you, Blackstone, but... Chief still says no cat. You know how he gets... he’s bull-headed.”

From across the room, Bull shouted. “I heard that.”

Krem gave the private his most sympathetic shrug before turning and trudging back to Bull.

“Oh, bad news,” Anders said, feeling sorry for the Charger. Without thinking, he lifted a hand, letting it slide consolingly down the elf’s jaw. “But – if the cat needs a home – I’d be happy to take care of it.”

Blackstone blinked up at him. Suddenly, making words was hard. But he managed to stammer out,“You... would? Are you... sure?”

Anders nodded. Then, as if just realizing what his hand was doing, quickly withdrew it. “Sorry. That was... very forward of me.”

Blackstone cleared his throat. “I... I didn’t mind.”

Anders’ eyes seemed to light up from within. “Well,” he murmured huskily. “In that case... would you mind this?”

Anders stepped forward. Hands on Blackstone’s shoulders, he pulled the elf in slowly, inch by maddening inch, for a breath-stealing, knee-weakening, heart-stopping kiss.

Zevran, who had been watching this exchange, murmured to himself. “Well. That was unexpected.”

This issue of the cat settled, Bull could finally turn his attention to the problem at hand. Glancing around, he caught Sera’s eye. “The Inquisitor. Where is he?”

Sera just jerked a thumb towards the storeroom.

Where, leaning next to the door, was the smoking hot Captain of the Silver Blades.

An appreciative interest sparked in her eyes as Bull swaggered over. Without breaking eye contact, Bull leaned back against the other side of the door. Then, leaning over, he rapped three times on the wood. “Hey, Boss. Can I come in?”

There was a pause, followed by the Inquisitor’s somewhat shaky voice. “Uh... just... give us a minute, Bull.”

Still without breaking eye contact, Bull leaned back again, this time crossing his arms casually across his broad chest.

Lily remembered him. All pure, solid beast of a man that radiated power and strength. If he’d wanted to, he could probably have snapped her spine easily in two. Which was pretty damn hot. “So,” Lily said. “You the muscle?”

“Yeah,” Bull said. A moment passed as they continued to size each other up, each thinking their own lurid thoughts. Then Bull spoke again. “So... you came here to get your rum back.”

“Yep.”

“And you got it.”

“Yep.”

“So then there ain’t no more reason for you to cause trouble.”

A small, wicked smile appeared on Lily’s lips. “But I like trouble.”

Bull chuckled, a rumbling sound like thunder deep in his throat, that shot straight down to Lily’s core like a dragon’s tongue of flame. Then Bull reached out, placing large fingers upon her face, tilting up her chin to look more deeply into her eyes. “Hmm,” he rumbled appreciatively as his fingers stroked her face, “anyone ever tell you what exceptionally strong jaw muscles you have?”

From the other side of the door, their was light scuffling, then the Inquisitor’s voice again. “Uh... Bull? You can unlock the door now.”

Bull opened the door. Studied both Dorian and the Inquisitor as they shuffled out. Lavellan looked a bit disheveled, but Dorian looked as put together as always did. Except for one small thing...

Bull laughed. “Hey, ‘Vint. You, ah, got something in your mustache.”

Dorian looked baffled. “I do? What is it? I – oh.” As realization struck, his expression changed to one of mortification, and he quickly lifted a hand to cover his face.

“Dorian, what did – oh!” Michael said. Then quickly produced a handkerchief which he passed to Dorian. “Uh... sorry.”

As Dorian took care of that matter, Bull looked down at the Inquisitor. “What do you need, Boss?”

Michael’s eyes slid over to Lily. In them, cunning. “It seems only fair to me that you get the same treatment,” he said, then made a grand gesture to the now available room.

Lily cast a quick glance inside. At one end – inexplicably – there was a large bed tucked away among shelves of extra glassware. “Seriously, Lavellan? The least you could have done was change the sheets.”

“Oh, no need to worry about that,” Dorian said. “The sheets are clean. Someone couldn’t quite wait to get to the bed.”

The Inquisitor coughed less than delicately into his fist.

Lily put her hands on her hips, staring down at the elf. “Are you challenging me, Lavellan?”

“Yes. I am.”

Lily’s eyes did a quick scan over Bull’s big, broad shoulders. His powerful, muscular chest. His thick, strong arms. Those convenient horns that would give her something to hold onto...

With a grin, she turned back to the Inquisitor. “I accept.”

“Bull,” Michael ordered, “ravish this woman.”

“Whatever you say, Boss,” Bull said with a wicked grin. He then reached down to grab Lily. Lifting her up, he tossed her over his shoulder and carried her into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.

Michael and Dorian looked at each other.

“Well,” Dorian finally said. “That takes care of one of those crazy women. But I wonder – what happened to the other one?”

From behind the bar, they heard a woman’s voice ring out in orgasmic bliss.

“Ahhh, Commander! I fucking love you! Fucking Maker!”

***

Lavellan eventually decided that Cullen was a grown Commander and didn’t need saving.

Dorian crossed his arms and gave the Inquisitor a rather disapproving look. “Michael,” he said. “Please tell me we’re not going to just stand here outside the door and listen to –” Dorian paused, searching for the right words, then perked up when he found them, “– whatever atrocities Bull is inflicting on that poor woman.”

Michael laughed softly. “You mean the ‘poor woman’ who was fondling your fine ass half the night?”

Dorian lifted one hand, letting it hover near his chin, thoughtful. “Actually, you make a very good point. She gets what she deserves.” As Dorian paused, they both heard a loud, deep, unmistakably sexual growl through the storeroom door. “And I really need a drink.”

“Haven’t you had enough?”

“I haven’t had a drop,” Dorian admitted. “I thought it best to keep my wits about me. So I’m most dreadfully sober.”

A hand suddenly appeared, offering Dorian a bottle. Attached to the hand, a slim blond elf in leather. “Here, my friend. The best wine that Skyhold’s cellars has to offer.”

Dorian’s eyes lit up. “You mean the Spiritus Draco?” he said. “I willingly accept.”

“Wait,” the Inquisitor said as Dorian tilted the bottle back. “How do you both know the best wine in my cellars?”

“I am a man of refined taste,” Zevran said. Then he smiled sultrily at Dorian as he leaned forward, a finger trailing teasingly down Dorian’s chest. “And as such, I was wondering... perhaps you and I could become better acquainted later?”

Michael’s eyes narrowed. “If you don’t get your hands off my mage, the only thing you’ll become ‘better acquainted’ with will be Skyhold’s dungeons.”

Dorian wondered if he’d heard correctly. My mage?

The assassin’s hand immediately withdrew. “You know, I just remembered. I very much need to be doing something somewhere else right now.”

As Zevran scurried off, Dorian smiled secretly against the mouth of the bottle against his lips.

Then conversation became impossible as the noises from inside the store room substantially increased in volume.

Simultaneously fascinated and horrified, Dorian and the Inquisitor listened.

In fact, soon everyone in the tavern who was still awake had gathered near the door – Krem, Sera, Anders and Blackstone – who, inexplicably, was wearing Anders’ feathery coat with a small cat tucked inside it and head peeping out – and eventually Pixie and Cullen, their clothes dusty and in complete disarray.

As they listened, Dorian alternated between taking swigs from the wine bottle and making comments about the more unusual sounds behind the door.

Swig.

“Is it just me, or did that noise remind anyone else of a mating dracolisk?”

Swig.

“Oh, dear. There goes the glassware. I suppose from now they’ll have to pour the swill they serve here into our shoes. Though that might actually improve the taste.”

Swig.

“I’ve passed kidney stones that were less painful than that sounded.”

Swig.

“Vishante kaffas, it’s never going to end, is it? We’re all going to die here before they finish. We may have to eat each other, I’m afraid. At least I’ll be marinated in a delightful red wine sauce.”

Swig.

“Do my ears deceive me, or did she actually just shout ‘Yippie ki-yay, motherfucker?’”

Swig.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Qunari beg and cry like that before. To be honest, it’s rather... disturbing. I feel it may haunt my dreams forever.”

Upon seeing Krem’s expression of dismay, Blackstone touched him lightly on the shoulder. “Lieutenant Aclassi? Sir? Are you okay?”

Before Krem could answer, there was a bellow so loud that it woke everyone in the tavern – Hawke, Fenris, and all of the Chargers. Everyone stared around in startled confusion.

Behind the door, silence fell. A moment later, they heard a strange rattle. Followed by an indiscernible thud. Something jangled. Finally they heard the clap of boot heels, steadily growing louder, across the wooden floorboards.

Lily threw open the door.

Behind her, visible on the broken bed, Bull lay sprawled out, limbs akimbo, the sheet strategically draped across his hips.

“Bull?” the Inquisitor ventured.

Bull groaned. “Uh. I don’t think I can walk.”

Krem rushed up and froze in the doorway. Panic flushed his face and made his eyes wild and wide. “CHIEF!” Krem screamed. “WHAT DID SHE DO TO YOU?”

Lily cocked her three-cornered, feathered hat back just so. Hitched up her pants with a wicked grin. Then stared Michael right in the eye. “Is that the best you got, Lavellan?”

The Inquisitor opened his mouth to speak. But didn’t know what to say to that. Bull had failed him. Captain Lily Petals had won.

Victorious, Lily continued to grin. “You gonna close that mouth, Lavellan, or are you waiting for the mage to stick something big and hard in it?”

Michael’s mouth snapped shut.

“Chief!” Krem continued to plead. “Chief! Speak to me!”

Bull groaned again. Tried to move his limbs, but they only flopped uselessly like dying fish. “Krem. I think I’m dead.”

Pixie jumped up and down. “Yay, Captain! You rode the Bull! And the Commander and I had fun! And I grabbed all the men’s butts!” Pixie paused, and her expression became very serious. Then she glanced around the room. “Wait a minute...! I missed some!”

Pixie ran around the room, squeezing every ass she passed.

The Inquisitor yelped.

Blackstone muttered a curse.

Anders startled. “Well, hello again!”

Dorian managed to press his backside against the wall in time.

When she reached Krem, Pixie stopped in mid-grab when she saw the weepy look on his face. Oh no, Pixie didn’t like it when anyone was sad. It made her sad. Holding open her arms, she said, “Do you need a hug?”

Krem sniffled, then wiped at his eyes as if to keep his tears from falling. “Yeah.”

Pixie tackled hugged him.

Michael sighed. “Fine, Captain, you win,” he grudgingly admitted. “You broke my Bull. You made Krem cry. What else do you want from me?”

Lily thought. What did she want? She’d gotten her rum and her revenge. And – bonus of all bonuses to the evening – she’d gotten one of the best damn rides of her life. “I’m thinking, Lavellan.”

Fenris followed Maggie as she sauntered over to join the others. “If I might make a suggestion,” Maggie said. “It’s been a long night. Why don’t we all go relax for a bit in the pillow fort?”

Lily looked at the Champion for a moment, considering her proposal. Then she smiled. “All right! Come on, Pixie! To the pillow fort!”

As everyone shuffled out of the tavern, they heard deep, rumbling laughter from the storeroom, followed by an exuberant shout:

“DAMN! WHAT A WOMAN!”

***

Once in the pillow fort, everyone began to settle themselves down as Maggie took the cookies she’d baked earlier out of her backpack and asked Varric to pass them around. Next she turned to her feather mage, who was – at the moment – still featherless.

“Anders, dear,” Maggie said. “Is there a reason why that young man is wearing your coat?”

Blackstone, having heard that comment, decided that the floor was immensely fascinating, and that he should stare at it. Fixedly.

“Oh,” Anders said. “Umm... yes. He... I... you see, the cat... the cat looked cold, so I loaned him my coat.”

Maggie scrutinized him for a moment. Then she laughed. “Oh, Anders. You are way too soft when it comes to cats.”

Anders laughed nervously. “You know me so well, Hawke,” he said. “Umm, if you need me, I’ll be over there... somewhere.”

As Anders slipped off, Pixie came rushing up to Maggie. “Can I borrow Fenris? The Commander didn’t come to the pillow fort so I have no one to cuddle. Please?”

Maggie sighed. Then glanced at Fenris, with a question in her eyes.

Fenris rolled his own eyes. But then muttered a gruff, “Fine.”

Pixie squealed. “Yay! I get cuddles with the pretty elf!” Grabbing him by the hand, she dragged him off, shouting at Lily. “You, too, Captain! Come cuddle with us! Oh! And you, too, Krem! We’ll make a cuddle pile! It will be awesome!”

Feeling petulant because she’d just given up Fenris for apparently no good reason, Maggie plopped down in a corner among the silken purple pillows, feeling abandoned. The boys would come back to her. They were hers, then, now and forever. Still, she did feel a little sulky...

At that moment Cole appeared, and crouched down beside her. “If you don’t want to be alone,” he said in that soft voice of his, “I’ll keep you company.”

Maggie smiled. “You’re a good boy, Cole.”

Maggie felt better as Cole settled down at her side.

She felt even better when Dorian came and sat down beside them. In his hand a book. “Story time, my dear?” he asked with a smile.

Maggie returned the smile. “An excellent idea.”

As Dorian flipped through the pages to find where he’d left off, the Inquisitor walked over. When Dorian looked up and met his eye, the elf said, “Dorian, I just wanted to say that... I... umm...” Suddenly shy, the Inquisitor glanced away. “That I.... have a lot of Inquisition business to attend to, so... I’ll come talk to you later in the library.”

Before the Inquisitor could slip off, Dorian quickly set down the book. Reached out and took Michael by the hands. “It’s story time, Inquisitor,” he said with a smile as he drew Michael down beside him. “Inquisition business can surely wait.”

Michael let himself be pulled down into the crook of Dorian’s arm, his head on the mage’s chest.

Cole and Maggie leaned back into the pillows, waiting.

Further down the fort, Lily and Pixie lay together in a tangle of limbs, with a warm elf body next to a happy Pixie, and the strong, solid presence of Krem against a sated Lily’s back.

Hidden down in the corner, curled up like cubs, Blackstone sighed happily as he raked his fingers through Anders’ hair, bodies locked like puzzle-pieces, while in-between their hearts napped a small orange and white cat named Cremisius.

Dorian picked up the book. Found his place, then cleared his throat.

“The trouble all started,” he read, “with a missing cask of rum.”