miss_m_cricket: (DA2: Fenris Bitter)
[personal profile] miss_m_cricket
Title: Lead Me Into The Light
Author: [livejournal.com profile] miss_m_cricket
Fandom: Dragon Age 2
Pairing: Fenris/Anders (Fenders)
Comm: [livejournal.com profile] dragonage_kink
Rating: PG-13
Prompt: So when saving Faynriel, it's pretty clear that mage slaves are valuable property in Tevinter.

I'd like an AU where, before Anders can join with Justice, he gets caught by Tevinter slavers.

Meanwhile, Danarius, who has just re-captured Fenris long before he could get to Kirkwall, has come down with something and decides he needs a pretty healer slave to tend to him.

Aw yeah, slave buddy(or more) au with banter and escaping and funtiems..


Summary: They had collared him, a collar to suppress his magic, render it out of his reach. A collar only they could remove. It had left him sick and shaking, and beyond resisting as they carried him away and down to the shipyards.



Lead Me Into The Light

There had been too many of them.

It galled him to think that but it was true, and what grated even more was the fact he wasn’t supposed to even be there. If he had been where he was supposed to be, meeting one of his contacts to get him out of Fereldan, instead of drinking in that small tavern they wouldn’t have ambushed him in the back streets of Gwaren.

At least he had taken a lot of the bastards down before they overwhelmed him. It was something.

Of course if it had been just guards, he might have just gotten away, blasting them out of the way and running. But no, Tevinter slavers never relied on pure steel. Two blood mages, working in concert, had managed to trap him, to call to the blood in his body, the power. Had managed to force him down onto the dirt, even as his magic fought back. He had been stronger than them, but them and the slaver warriors...it had all been too much.

They had collared him, a collar to suppress his magic, render it out of his reach. A collar only they could remove. It had left him sick and shaking, and beyond resisting as they carried him away and down to the shipyards.

Arcanum flowed above his head, the words unrecognisable and harsh against ear drums that felt somehow woolly. He had never been without his magic, never without the tingle under his fingers. But suddenly it was gone, the faintest touch feathering like a tease at his consciousness, but beyond his reach. He wondered drowsily, before he slipped into darkness, if this was what it meant to be Tranquil.

~*~

They had locked Fenris up the instant they had managed to drag him back to Minrathous.

Left alone in the dark chamber deep in the bowels of Danarius’s palace, Fenris could finally vent his fury and rage at being captured once more. Blood smeared across the walls, from punching them and scraping his knuckles. The wooden chair smashed to smithereens. And when all that hadn’t worked enough to exhaust him he threw back his head and howled, howled like the little wolf Danarius had named him.

He did it until his throat gave out, until breathing was painful, and then he slumped down on the small pallet on the floor, curling up miserably.

His ‘master’ would leave him here for a few days and then come down, offer him food and drink to be eaten from his hand like the pet he was. He would refuse and Danarius would leave, then wait a few more days and return. Then one day he would be so desperate for food and drink he would cave, and eat. And despise himself for giving in.

Danarius was a man who relied on his magic, he was not strong or fast or brave. But he was clever, oily and exceptionally skilled in mental manipulation. He would break Fenris’s mind back to where it was meant to be.

He knew it, and yet he could not cry, not even alone in his cold dark cell.

~*~

Anders had claimed a corner of the slave pen that had a view of the rest of the slave markets. The white marble paving stones were closer to grey than their former pure shade, dirt and blood and all manner of other grime staining the white stones. It was the same with the buildings all around inside the Slave Market compound. Everything was a shadow of glory gone by. Now it stank with fear and pain and the rot of a society tearing itself apart.

Important looking men in clothes of bright, rich colours breezed by, trailed by elves or men in much more workaday clothing, usually with their heads lowered respectfully. Some stopped to look into his pen, and he’d glare back at them. He didn’t know whether it would deter them. His sale number was listed neatly on a plaque on the door from the tile bound around his neck, attached to the magic suppressing collar. If they wanted to purchase him, they would know when to be at the Hall of Sales to make a bid.

The thought of that ordeal ahead made his stomach clench and twist horribly, so he focused on the movements outside his pen, watched the people moving to-and-fro.

The great bell tower tolled three times.

And the door to his pen was pushed open.

He fought, of course he fought. He fought tooth and nail as big burly slaver goons came in and pinned him to the hard-packed earth of his prison. He fought when they stripped his clothes, and he fought as they hauled him to his feet. He fought as they dragged him through the back tunnels, away from the main thoroughfare, up to the stage of the Hall of Sales.

He was attached to the stake in the centre of the brightly lit hall, naked as the day he was born. Shadows could hide imperfections, and no wealthy buyer would want a flawed slave. Not when they had good coin to pay for something of a much higher quality.

The lights blinded him, and his arms were already aching from being restrained so tightly, but he heard the auctioneer listing off his attributes, which included his healing magic, as well as his more primal talents. Also noted were his estimated age and health, as well as his rebellious nature.

The bids went past in a blur, but he knew they were coming. Healing magic was a helpful talent, especially in a city ruled by so much blood magic. A healer slave, even a rebellious one, was a precious commodity. Eventually he heard the auctioneer sell him and almost gasped with relief as he was unbound and dragged off the stage.

Money exchanged hands, Arcanum spoken above his uncomprehending ears, and his leash was traded over to a richly dressed man who held a ledger, and a dark haired Mage with pale blue eyes. Cold eyes. An Apprentice Magister, he guessed by her robes, and the way she snapped orders to those around her.

He didn’t like her at all, and when she zapped him with lightning after he tried to ask for water, he was sure of it.

~*~

Fenris took bitter pleasure in the sounds of Danarius moaning in pain.

From his place by the window the elf could look out of the corner of his eye and see the magister wincing with every movement he made. It made his lips curl in a small sadistic smile, which he hid by looking out the window. But he could see it reflected in the smooth glass.

The Magister’s Steward had brought news of a healer mage being sold at the markets, and Danarius had immediately sent Hadriana and the man to go and purchase it. ‘It’ had been Danarius’s term and had made Fenris frown, out of sight as he was by the window. He hated this man, hated that he was back to being cowed and dominated after months, years of being free.

He had behaved, mostly, simply to avoid the punishment of more Lyrium being seared into his flesh, the act which would drive the memories once more from his mind. He would not become a mindless drone once more, he would stay as the person he chose to be.

But beneath the impassive exterior the rage that had been there when he had been recaptured still burned, and he watched, always watched for an opportunity for escape. None had yet come, and it had been months.

Voices rang out in the entrance hall, orders and counter orders and the tramping of Tevinter boots over marble and inlaid gold. Fenris looked around, curious, as the door to the bedchamber opened and Hadriana swept in, dragging a slave by his dirty, fair hair.

The man looked foreign, and he was human, not elven, which was unusual. He looked dishevelled as though the clean green robe he wore had been whisked onto him without much preamble or warning, and his honey coloured eyes were frustrated.

“Take the collar off, but keep your arrows trained on him!” Hadriana barked, magic glittering around her black painted fingernails. “Heal him slave.” She ordered the mage, pointing at Danarius, “Heal him and you will live. He dies, you die. It’s as simple as that.”

The mage stared at her, and Fenris recognised the look in them as one he often wore when he looked at Danarius or Hadriana, but he moved to the bed and blue light shone softly in his hands. Slowly, carefully he ran them along the air above the stricken Magister, ignoring the creaking of the bowstrings or the black lightning glittering in Hadriana’s hands.

He seemed intent in his task, blue magic flowing over the man on the bed, and as he watched he saw the lines leave Danarius’s face and as the light faded, the Magister sighed and opened his eyes.

“Are you well Magister?” Hadriana hastened to ask, moving forward, almost panting in her eagerness to be near her master. Fenris’s lip curled in a snarl at the sight and he saw the Mage slave’s lip curling too. That made him almost smile.

Almost.

“I am, Hadriana.” Danarius sat up, his cold grey eyes roving the room, falling on Fenris and then on the Mage slave. “Do you have a name slave?”

The Mage nodded, straightening, “They call me Anders.”

“Do they? Fenris...” he looked across at the elf and Fenris stepped forward, face impassive as always, “You will show our new pet to your chambers. He will stay with you.”

Fenris wanted to object, wanted to object most strenuously, but he thought of the Lyrium markings and the punishment from Hadriana, and so just nodded.

Together the pair left Danarius’s sick chamber, trailed by the guards.

~*~

Despite what most of his instructors back at the Circle thought, Anders had actually read a lot of the books back in the Circle libraries. They had thought him a rebellious child, stubborn and wilful and eventually had given up on teaching him anything but the most basic of spells and wards against the Fade demons.

He had encouraged their thinking, but at night he would sneak off to a quiet chamber of the tower and devour text after text, grimoire after grimoire. Carefully he would practice spells long into the night, advanced spells that the instructors did not want them learning. Eventually he realised that the most advanced texts had wards over them, and would require certain spells to get through.

He had loitered, pretending disinterest in everything, until they grew so used to his surly presence that they forgot themselves and summoned the powerful books down from the high shelves.

Then at night, he would follow their example and read the book.

He knew the Templars and the Senior Enchanters had been surprised when he passed his harrowing. And then he knew they had been surprised again when he escaped the night after. And then again, and again, and again, all seven times.

They had always underestimated him.

But during his reading he had read a lot about Tevinter. The place had always fascinated him, because of its liberal views on magic, but also because it was so embroiled in the history of Thedas. In that reading he had found out a lot about everyday life in the Imperium and that included the treatment of slaves.

From what he had read slaves were poorly treated, with dirty living conditions and few rights. Of course Magister’s would want their slaves clean, and neatly dressed; to appear superior above others was desperately important to them. But they still lived in shabby quarters and punishments were harsh.

Fenris’s chambers were not what he had been expecting.

It was a small suite of rooms, including a bathing room and privvy, living area and bedchamber. They were sparse but clean, with little decoration or frivolity around them. Very much like his companion, Anders thought wryly, looking over at the elf as the door was locked behind them.

Fenris moved into the centre of what had once been his rooms and were now their rooms and turned to face him, arms folded.

“Let’s get one thing straight mage. You cast any magic on me and I will rip your heart out of your chest.”

It was the first time hearing the elf speak and the deep rumbling timbre of it took him by surprise. Most of the elves he had met had light fluting voices, but Fenris had a growl to him. Anders’ eyebrow rose slightly as he processed the words.

“Friendly greeting.” He said, shrugging his shoulders, “And you speak the Common tongue well.”

Fenris considered him, a small frown on his face, “It is useful. Did you hear what I said Mage?” The way he said ‘mage’ made is sound like the worst insult he could find.

“I heard.” Anders shrugged, “The only reason I would have to cast magic on you, would be if you had seriously injured yourself. I’m a healer.”

Green eyes considered him coldly, “No magic.”

“Fine, fine.” The Mage moved across the room, looking in at the bedchamber which now held two sleeping cots. He knew Fenris followed him warily, “Which one is yours?”

The elf pointed silently.

Anders sighed. It was clearly going to take awhile to get this fellow slave to open up to him.

“So why do you get these rooms? I’d heard slave quarters were more...”

“You heard right. But I am no ordinary slave, and it seems neither are you.”

“Does it have to do with those markings?” His eyes traced the silvery lines trailing down the elf’s body. They hummed to his magic and if he didn’t know better he’d think they were-

“Lyrium.” Fenris said, holding out his arms, “Burned into my flesh. Yes, this makes me one of Danarius’s prize slaves. As are you, for your magic.”

“Lyrium...” Anders breathed, fascinated and repulsed at the same time, “Bloody hell that must’ve hurt. Lyrium is dangerous, poisonous.”

“Yes. I am the result of many experiments, so I should be grateful I did not die.” Oh the bitterness in that voice as he spat out those words. For the first time Anders really pitied the elf.

“I’m sorry...”

“I do not want your pity Mage.” Fenris spat at him, stalking away towards the bathing room, “Just stay away from me, and keep your filthy magic to yourself.”

The door shut with a loud bang, and Anders was left alone, wondering what had just happened.

~*~

It galled Fenris how quickly life with the Mage Slave fell into a comfortable routine.

He wanted to hate him, hate him like he hated Danarius, like he hated Hadriana, like all the other blighted Magisters. He was just like them, cursed with magic, and just because he had yet to fall prey to Blood Magic, and to a demon didn’t mean that he wouldn’t, given the right incentive.

Had the Mage Slave been like the other house slaves that Danarius kept, Fenris would have simply just ignored him, much like he did with the others. But he was not, he had gained favour with the Magister for his magical gifts and for healing him, and so he was there, always there.

For Fenris, who had always been an intensely private person, having someone in his vicinity at all times made him edgy.

He avoided conversation, avoided the other slave’s attempts at discussion or bonding and instead treated him with chilly disdain whenever he absolutely had to be around him.

It lasted until a rainy Restday, some weeks after Danarius’s illness. Hadriana had arrived early in the day and joined the Magister for his noontide meal. It was served in one of the receiving rooms, the two mages reclining on silky couches as they ate food presented to them by silent, docile slaves.

Fenris stood in the shadows behind Danarius’s couch, watching the entire scene with an impassive expression on his face. The Mage Slave too was nearby; he had caught glimpses of him moving between columns. Maybe he was responsible for making sure the meal was properly warm when served, Fenris didn’t know, and didn’t care.

The meal progressed steadily but the elf noticed the restless shifting coming from Hadriana and disquiet began to fill his mind. The Magister was bored, and when Hadriana was bored, there was invariably going to be some torment for a slave in the offing. Most likely towards himself.

Sure enough Hadriana placed a grape into her mouth and twisted around, her blue eyes seeking Fenris’s shadowy form.

“Fenris...” she cooed, a vicious smile crawling onto her mouth, “Come here.”

He moved forward, crossing around towards the centre area of the chamber. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the Mage Slave, watching him with something like concern on his face. Let this be a lesson to the fool about the dangers of magic.

Finally he stood before the couches, hating how sheer and utterly useless the pale grey armour Danarius made him wear was as he watched Hadriana’s blue eyes rake over his slender limbs. She smirked, plucking a cherry from the bowl and biting into it, a red drop falling from her lips like blood.

He fought down a shudder.

“It’s so good having you back darling.” She crooned, a cruel parody of loving concern, “We were quite desolate without you.”

Fenris stayed silent, though he felt the tension ratchet up another notch.

Her voice hardened, “Wolves shouldn’t be on two feet darling. Down on all fours if you please Little Wolf.”

All he had learned while he had been away shrieked at him to resist, to flee this woman and return only when he had the advantage. But he knew he would never get away, not right now. He had to wait, bide his time, and until then he had to play the servile slave.

Slowly he sank down until he crouched on all fours.

Danarius chuckled softly, watching over the performance between his star pupil and his pet slave with a benevolent eye. Hadriana beamed at him and then turned back to Fenris, emboldened by her master’s approval.

“You look much better like that darling.” She purred, slowly getting to her feet and walking over to him. Her cold fingers raked through his hair and he shuddered as her sharp nails scratched against his scalp and down his neck. But he stayed down, “Such a good boy. I wonder pet, do you remember how to properly service your betters?”

“Yes.” He growled softly, and winced as she cracked a blow against his head, sending him sprawling.

“That’s ‘Yes Magister’ to you slave!” She shrieked at him, planting her foot down on his neck before he could get up, “I think you learnt some bad habits while you were away.”

He looked up at her, saw the cruel smirk on her face and then heard the low sound of approval from Danarius.

No help from there.

“No Magister,” he gritted out, breathlessly, gasping it around the boot crushing his windpipe.

She stepped off him and prowled around his prostrate form before sudden pain lanced through his Lyrium brands. No matter how often it happened, how long, he couldn’t help himself at the world shattering pain.

He screamed.

Next second the pain was gone but something was wrong. Hadriana was shrieking at something, yelling. It was muffled, fuzzy. Unwillingly he opened the eyes he hadn’t even realised he’d closed and blinked.

He was enveloped in a pale blue shield of magic, humming protectively around him. It felt strange, unlike the magic he was used to, and instinctively he knew it hadn’t been cast by either Hadriana or Danarius. It felt...gentler.

Then he saw what was happening outside the shield and sucked in a breath.

The Mage Slave was standing in front of him, feet planted in a fighting stance, hands splayed and ready, a faint blue glow emanating from him. He had cast the shield, Fenris realised dazedly, the Mage Slave, Anders was protecting him.

~*~

He had told himself over and over again. Don’t interfere, don’t interfere, don’t interfere...

Fenris hadn’t exactly been friendly these last few weeks, in fact he’d been downright cold, but Anders had watched him when the other hadn’t been looking. He had seen the occasional lapse in the unemotional shield, a smile, a wistful look, a yearning for something.

The elf reminded him of the Mages back home; the ones trapped in the tower, wanting to believe there was a way out but still hurt enough to not be willing to try just yet. There was a strength there, a burning that Fenris had that the other slaves lacked, and something in Anders recognised a kindred spirit. Fenris longed for freedom, and Anders understood.

He felt it too.

Watching Hadriana taunt the elf, force him onto all fours and then strike him into the ground, Anders felt anger fill him. He remembered Fenris’s words about mages, remembered the tenseness of his mouth and how he had spat the hate filled words out, and watching Hadriana he could understand how the elf had become so twisted.

For your only exposure to magic being this bitch and her master, no he really couldn’t blame Fenris.

She was standing over him and then suddenly her hands were glowing, and so were Fenris’ Lyrium brands, and he was screaming. Anders had heard people scream before, had heard dying and heard pain but he had never heard such agony coming from a living being before.

And so before he knew it his magic blasted out, sending Hadriana sailing back through the air into one of the marble columns, and a magical shield sprang up around the prostrate elf.

“Who-!” Hadriana leapt to her feet, snatching up her staff, as Anders walked across the smooth white stone to stand before Fenris. Behind the female Mage he saw Danarius’ eyebrow lift, but he didn’t stand. Maybe he thought Hadriana should be able to deal with him alone, or maybe...maybe the Magister wanted to see what would happen next, “You will pay dearly for that Slave!”

“Oh and here I thought we were bonding.” Anders said back, a smile curving his lips up, “Throwing your magical weight around looked like the in-fashion thing to do.”

“Mage don’t...” Fenris’ voice rasped behind him, “Don’t it’s not worth it.”

“Freedom is always worth it.”

Hadriana snarled, and sent a fireball blasting at him. Instantly another shield spread from Ander’s fingers, sending the fire flowing harmlessly around him and Fenris, leaving both of them unharmed. Spell after spell, blast after blast she sent his way, and he countered them all, shields or deflections coming naturally to his mind, blossoming there as he frustrated her every move.

He had honed himself running from Templars, Hadriana was nothing compared to that.

“Enough!”

Danarius had come to his feet, and his own staff was in his hands. The fire left the end of Hadriana’s own weapon and she bowed her head deferentially towards her teacher and superior. Anders kept his shields up, but didn’t make any move to return fire. Carefully his honey eyes followed the oily Magister as he moved forward.

“It seems we underestimated your gifts, Healer.” Danarius murmured, standing right against the shield, his grey eyes boring into Anders own, “And your sense of nobility. However you are a slave, and Hadriana is a Magister, tis not your place to stand between her and punishing another slave. At least, not like this.

“Let me end him master.” Hadriana practically panted the words, so hungry was she for blood and death, “He will suffer for the insult.

“No.” Danarius shook his head, looking thoughtfully between Anders and Fenris, “No. He will be punished but not by your hand my dear. Guards, you will take my little wolf back to his chambers. Lock him in there.” And quietly he murmured through the shield, “And if you wish him to remain unmolested you will drop that shield of yours now my pet.”

It grated against everything he knew and wanted, but Anders let the magic go, and slowly the shield faded from sight. Behind him he heard a scuffle as Fenris was hauled upright by the guards, but he had only a moment to register it before he was careening through the air to land several paces away.

Hadriana,” Danarius’s voice boomed ominously, “I gave you no permission to use magic on this slave!”

He heard the female Mage bleat an excuse and be banished from the chamber, but he focused on getting to his feet. There was a ringing in his head and that wasn’t good.

Guards grabbed him, hands forcing his arms behind his back and then Danarius was there, caressing his face with fingers that were cool and a little too soft.

“Such a disobedient boy.”

It was the last thing he heard before his mind dissolved into pain.

~*~

Fenris had regained his equilibrium by the time the guards shoved him into his chambers.

At least he had gained his physical equilibrium. Mentally he was still reeling under the foreign concept of a Mage actually helping him. Magic had sought to hurt him and yet Magic had shielded him, protected him. Why had the Mage Slave, Anders, done that? There had been little for him to possibly gain by such actions, and indeed a lot that he stood to lose. It didn’t make sense.

This man was a question posed that Fenris had never had to answer before, something so beyond his usual perspectives that the usual rules didn’t seem to apply. Still one set of actions didn’t mean anything, but it warranted a chance, a chance to see whether or not this Mage was different to these Tevinter Magister’s.

He paced in front of the unlit fireplace, waiting for what would happen next. Hours passed, night fell outside the windows and yet Anders did not return. A sick feeling began to settle in Fenris’ gut as he forced himself to consider the possibility that Danarius had simply allowed Hadriana to blast the slave off the face of Thedas.

It was sometime after this however that the locks on the door rattled open and the door swung just wide enough to allow the guards to throw the other man bodily through, to land on the cold stone floor. Fenris hurried over to the other slave, ignoring the door slamming shut, and the laughter that followed the guards out and away, all his focus was centred on the Mage curled up on the floor.

“Mage...Anders...” Fenris reached out tentatively, his hand brushing the others arm, “Anders.”

“M’alright.” The Mage said hoarsely, slowly pushing himself into a sitting position, and stiffly shifting to face the other kneeling slave. Fenris ran his eyes over the other man and felt a brief flash of pity. He knew Danarius well, knew his methods and knew the signs of just what the Magister had inflicted on the other mage.

Firstly there was the way he was moving, stiffly, indicating that the Magister had authorised a whipping. He was surprised that he hadn’t been compelled to attend, but he supposed Danarius had his sadistic reasons for keeping him in here while the other man suffered. He wasn’t sure how many blows the Mage had taken, as the robes had been clearly removed beforehand and then pulled on again after.

There was the bruise on his jaw, spreading across one cheek, from an impact. A blow? Had the Mage resisted once more?

Lastly and most telling of all there was a trickle of blood leaking down Anders neck from inside his ear. Fenris knew the markings of someone who had been crushed inside the workings of a blood mage’s spell, someone who had had their own body twisted against them, had their mind raped by another’s.

Seeing the proud, sarcastic man like this made something long dormant ache inside Fenris’ chest, and he reached out, gently helping the man to his feet. Anders did not struggle as he half carried him into the bedchamber and coaxed him to lay down on the bed.

There the elf stripped the other man with calm efficiency, wincing as the brutal evidence of the whipping was revealed in full, but not making any sound to distress the Mage who lay there, watching him.

“You should not have done it.” Fenris said gruffly, as he crouched by the bed, a bowl of hot, herbal water beside him, and a soft cleaning cloth in his hand. Delicately he dabbed at the wounds, careful to be as gentle as he could be, “It would have been better for you.”

“It’s not in my nature to watch someone else suffer.” Anders said softly, one honey eye watching the elf tend to his mutilated back, “And don’t tell me you wouldn’t have suffered because I know that would be a lie.”

Fenris didn’t try to contradict him. It was true after all.

Instead he focused on tending to the shredded flesh of the Mage’s back, “You cannot stand between Danarius and every slave in this house.” He said gruffly, rinsing out the cloth, and trying not to look at how the water bloomed an ugly rust red colour.

Anders chuckled hoarsely, and shook his head, “I don’t know if I’d do the same for most of the other slaves.” He said, his voice cracked and damaged from screaming, “You’re different.”

“Because of my markings?”

“No. Well yes you are different because of that but no, that’s not why in this case. You’re different because there is still some fight in you.” Anders smiled faintly, shifting as the wet cloth brushed over a particularly raw spot.

“Sorry.” Fenris apologised gruffly, moving away from the spot and cleaning another gash.

“Don’t be.” Anders’ eye watched him keenly, “I’m right though, aren’t I? You’re not like the other slaves. You question the orders they give you, you resent the cruelty. And you watch, I’ve seen you watch. You watch for an escape.”

Fenris stared at him. How did this Mage manage to see so much? Danarius didn’t see it, Hadriana did not, but this strange rebel Mage did.

Anders smiled and the eye closed, “I was in the Fereldan circle. It was a form of slavery being bound there. I escaped seven times...” he chuckled darkly, “I recognise what you’re doing because it’s what I do...”

“There is no escape.” Fenris breathed quietly, pressing a dry cloth to the man’s back before coaxing him to sit up, “None, Mage.”

Anders waited until the elf had finished wrapping the white bandage around his back and then lightly caught the other mans wrist in his own. Instantly Fenris’ Lyrium markings flared, but Anders didn’t flinch, his eyes boring into Fenris’ own green ones.

“There is always a choice, and always an escape.” The Mage informed him, before gently letting him go, “We’d best get some rest. Tomorrow is another day.”

“Hopefully,” Fenris said, his other hand coming up to cradle the wrist, and retreating to his own bed, “It will be a less exciting one.”

Anders barked a laugh, “You’d get bored elf.”

“Better bored than dead, Mage.”

There was a comfort in the sniping, something reassuring as they both readied themselves for bed. But it was only in the darkness after the candle had been blown out and they were both laying there that Fenris could murmur.

“I should say thank you, I suppose.”

“It’s the traditional response yes.” Anders was smiling; he could hear it through the darkness.

“I hate magic. We can’t be friends.”

“You hate controlling magic.” Anders’ voice was soft, “And I can promise you that I don’t seek to control you. I just want to be free.”

“And what will you do to be free...?” Fenris whispered back, “All mages stoop to Blood Magic if the need is great enough. You cannot be so different.”

“You’re just going to have to wait and see, aren’t you?” Anders rolled over, thumping his hard pillow before settling down again, “Goodnight Fenris.”

“Goodnight Mage.” The elf responded, ignoring the man’s sleepy chuckle.

He heard Anders breathing even out into the deeper breaths of slumber, but it was a long time yet before the elf could find the comfort of sleep for himself.

It had been an interesting day, and he had much to think on.

~*~

There was something about Minrathous that set Anders teeth on edge.

It must have been a beautiful city once, he thought, trailing along behind the litters of Danarius and Hadriana as they were borne through the city towards the Assembly. But time and sloth had taken their toll, and although the Magisters’ palaces gleamed on the hills above the city, it was clear that it was rotten to its very core.

The Forum and Assembly were down in the heart of the city, but the thoroughfares of marble led down from the Magister hills and down directly to the houses of government and power of this city, allowing the rich and powerful Magisters a means of transportation without having to deal with too many of the common element.

Glancing up he looked at the litters being carried a few paces ahead.

Hadriana was sprawled languidly, a bowl of fruit settled on her lap, and her cold blue eyes roamed over the litter of Danarius in front of her and Fenris walking beside it.

Today the elf had a huge broadsword strapped to his back, and was walking to the left of the litter as it made its way down the causeway. Anders could see the tenseness in the other slaves’ back, even more pronounced when Danarius reached out and petted his hair when he was stationary.

It had been a few weeks since Anders’ display of defiance, and things had improved markedly between the healer and the elf since then. They talked now; for one thing, conversation as Fenris helped him tend to a sick, fellow slave, advice as Fenris sparred against Danarius’ guards and they debated in hot whispers across the divide of their beds.

They did not agree on many things. Fenris hated magic, all magic, and stubbornly bundled all Mages in a category with the Magisters. Anders, naturally, disagreed, and it led to many heated debates and stony silences as they brooded on the others’ determination that they were right.

But they also found common ground in talking about Danarius, Hadriana, the Tevinter Imperium, and most importantly, escape from all three. It was a friendship like any other that Anders had ever had, and it surprised him how protective he felt for the other man. He knew many slaves warmed their Masters bed, and he knew that Fenris had been called upon to do so in the past. But he hated the idea of the elf being forced into it now he was no longer in Danarius’ thrall.

He couldn’t do anything for Fenris, not right now, and the elf wasn’t in any great danger, unlike the poor souls who peered out of the side roads and alleys. He saw infected cuts and bruises, illnesses, so many things that he could cure with a flick of his fingers. How could the Magistrates bear to live in such extravagant foolishness while the people of the Imperium suffered like this? It was wrong, and Anders wasn’t one to just sit back and let it stay that way.

He reached into the well of his power, but the instant he drew out a tendril to use his collar burned against his neck, turning a sharp flaming red and seared the skin. Anders cried out, scrabbling at his neck and fighting against the suppression of his powers.

A whip cracking against his back brought him back to the real world, away from the battlefield his body had become and he saw one of the guards standing over him sneers on their faces. He hadn’t even realised he’d fallen to his knees. The slaver before him lifted the whip again but was stopped by a word from Danarius.

“Hold.” The Magister beckoned and Anders was dragged over to the side of the litter. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Fenris frowning at him, his mouth turned down into a disapproving expression, arms folded across his chest. Danarius looked down at the Mage before him and waved the guards off, “You are not permitted to use magic without permission. You know this.”

“I’m not used to just walking past people who are suffering. People I could help.” Anders retorted and winced as another blow cracked down on his back.

“You are most intriguing Anders.” Danarius purred, running his cool fingers through the Mage’s fair hair, “The Mage slaves we have in the Imperium are usually untrained, raw power to be used and wielded by the Magister the slave belongs to. But you...you are unique. This is why I am lenient with you.”

“You are too kind.” It was hard, but he barely kept the sarcasm out of his voice. Danarius chuckled silkily.

“You’ll see my pet. I have plans for you.”

That was it? No more punishment? Anders was surprised as the column set under motion once more, and so was Hadriana if the glance back he took was any indication. The Apprentice Magister was sitting up straighter, and her blue eyes were fixed on Anders, burning with hatred and surprise.

Then Fenris’ hand clamped down on Anders’ arm and he was frogmarched along beside the tense elf, who muttered to him under his breath, “You are the worst slave ever.”

“A compliment,” Anders shot back glancing back at Hadriana, “I’m shocked.”

Fenris muttered something in Arcanum before his hand tightened on Anders’ arm, “Any other slave would have been punished far more severely. I admit I was confused but now...now I think I know why.”

The Mage leaned in closer, “Why?”

“Danarius has begun to think that Hadriana may have outlived her usefulness. He needs the most powerful apprentice he can have if he is to face down other Magisters.”

“She isn’t powerful enough?”

“She’s not as powerful as you. And you don’t have blood magic. Danarius hopes to win you over, or enthral you enough that you are unwilling to resist. Or he will seduce you with power.”

Anders wrinkled his nose, “Ergh, no thank you. This whole city leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

He didn’t miss the faint smile that touched Fenris’ lips before the elf’s face resumed its customary scowl, “I’m sure even you will have your price. Mages will do anything in their lust for wealth and power.”

“Fenris,” Anders chided, rolling his eyes, “No way am I doing Blood Magic. Ever. And no way am I becoming a Magister. My primary focus right now, is you and me and escaping this festering rathole of a city.”

The elf blinked at him, “I’m escaping with you am I?”

“Yes, you don’t really have the right temperament for a slave.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Fenris unwound enough to smile slightly at the other slave but straightened up as they passed through one of the great marble arches, “We’re at the Forum and the Assembly. Stay out of trouble Mage.”

“I can do that.”

Fenris arched an eyebrow and shook his head as he moved to shadow Danarius. Anders heard him mutter as he moved away though, “Somehow, I doubt that.”

To Be Continued...
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February 2012

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