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Oo-De-Lally - 30_hugs prompt

Title: Oo-De-Lally
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Theme: #8; fairytales
Characters and Relationship: Nathaniel Howe/Moira Cousland, eventually romantic
Rating: G
Summary: Even from the Free Marches, Nathaniel had heard tales of the Dark Wolf. He just hadn’t really expected to come face to face with the legend.

“Is this really necessary?” Oghren asked, crossing his arms in front of him.

Moira shrugged. “We’ve finally gotten a lead on this Dark Wolf. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity.”

“Just sayin’, this ain’t your usual way to handle things like this.”

Anders experimentally swung his new staff, admiring the way it fit in his hands. “How do you usually handle things like this, Commander?”

Moira’s smile was all teeth. “By beating assailants senseless first and asking questions later.”

Oghren guffawed. “That sums it up. How many assassins have you gotten that way?”

“I lost track after the fifth attempt.” She bit her bottom lip. The last two hadn’t even been directed at her. Worriedly, she wondered how Alistair was doing. I know he can handle himself just fine, but still. He really should have taken Zev up on his offer to become the Royal Assassin/Bodyguard.

“I still can’t see how you two can be so nonchalant about the situation,” Nathaniel said, frowning from his spot in the back of their group. “This is serious.”

Moira looked at him from over her shoulder. “I know it is. I don’t like walking around with a Mark of Death on me just as much as you do, but there’s nothing that can be done about it. Frankly, I’d rather actively look for my would-be killers than simply wait around for them to strike.” She wanted to hang back, to smooth away the crease that had appeared between Nathaniel’s eyebrows in response to his frown. She didn’t though, mostly because she didn’t want to start any rumors in between their little party. As it was, Anders had given both of them a strange look when they had met in the dining room for breakfast that morning, probably wondering where the stony silence that usually sprung up between the two of them had gone. His eyebrows had actually risen when he had heard Nathaniel greet her pleasantly, but the mage hadn’t said anything.

“But buying information? Isn’t there another way?”

Moira sighed. “It isn’t like I can intimidate it out of him.” She stopped in her tracks when she spotted a lone figure standing in the dappled shade up ahead. “That must be our Ser Wolf.”

Oghren elbowed her. “You’re gonna put up a big scene, aren’t you?” he asked.

She sniffed. “I don’t know.”

“Aww, come on. It’s just a name.”

She crossed her arms. “One that I worked hard to earn. You weren’t there.”

He rolled his eyes. “That’s because I’ve got no use for all the sneaking around that you, the elf and the bard do. Give me a good axe to clear my way any day.”

“What are they talking about?” Anders asked, leaning towards Nathaniel.

“I have no idea.” He listened as Moira and Oghren continued to talk as they approached the man. He couldn’t catch much from where he was standing, but he did hear the phrases blasted rogues and their stupid sense of pride and just don’t go killin’ the guy on account of a little mistaken identity thrown about by the dwarf.

“Sometimes,” Anders told him, “I kind of wish that I had been there for the Blight, especially when those two go into their little private in-joke moments.”

Nathaniel watched them, noting the ease the two had between them. He’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t a little bit envious. “So do I,” he said quietly.

“Ser Wolf, I presume,” Moira said, addressing the man. “You’re a hard person to find.”

“I’ve been watching you,” the man said, his voice echoing out from behind his helmet. “It seems that you need my help.”

Moira crossed her arms over her chest. “So you have heard of my little predicament. How do I know that I can trust you?”

“It wouldn’t do if the Hero of Ferelden met her demise when there was something that I could do about it.”

Moira stood up straighter, in full Commander mode. “And how do I know that you’ll be capable of doing this job? All I wish of you to do is listen in and unmask the people conspiring against me. Stealth will be of utmost importance.”

The man threw his shoulders back. “I am the Dark Wolf,” he growled. “Surely you’ve heard the stories told about me.”

“Even in the Free Marches, word of the Dark Wolf’s deeds have been heard,” Nathaniel piped up, standing off to Moira’s side. “They say you robbed Ser Nancine of her sword and gave the money you received from selling it to the poor in Denerim’s Alienage.”

Liberated,” Moira muttered under her breath. “Rob is such a naughty word.”

“I did. I also took on a hundred of Teyrn Loghain’s men to free money he had unlawfully taken from the poor people of Denerim.” He shifted on his feet. “I am the man for your job.”

Moira’s eyes narrowed. “How much will your information cost me?”

“Fifty sovereigns.”

“That’s highway robbery!” Anders squawked, indignant. “Surely you’re not going to stand for that!”

“Done,” Moira said, unhooking her money pouch from her belt. She tossed it at the man, who caught it one handed. “I just hope I’m not sending some foolish man to his death. You are no Dark Wolf.”

“I beg your pardon,” he said, sounding shaken.

Oghren sighed and rolled his eyes. “Here we go.”

“If you are the Dark Wolf, then you’ll be able to tell me where Andraste’s tears were hidden.”

“Everyone knows the answer to that. They were in a storage room heavily guarded by Bann Franderel’s personal guard.”

Moira shook her head. “No they weren’t. That was a trap. The real Dark Wolf would have known that the Tears were hidden in an unguarded treasure room in the Bann’s cellar. The door to the chamber had been disguised as a wine rack.”

The man took a step back. “How would you…” Moira’s words sunk in and the man nearly dropped his money. “My lady,” he breathed.

“Wait a minute,” Nathaniel said, glancing sideways at her, an incredulous look on his face. “You’re the Dark Wolf?”

“You’d better believe it,” Oghren said. “Otherwise she’ll throw a fit and do something to prove it to you.”

“I can’t take your money,” the man said, pushing the bag back into Moira’s hands. “I’ll do this for you for free.”

Moira shook her head. “You have a family, do you not?”

“Three sisters.”

“Then take this money with my blessing.” She leaned forward conspiratorially and winked. “It belonged to some nobleman who is probably cursing their ill fortune at the moment.”

“Maker watch over you,” the man said, hugging the pouch close to his chest. “I might not be as good as you, but I can hold my own in the stealth department. Give me a few days to listen in and I’ll report back with what I find.”

“Just be careful, that’s all I ask. Remember, I only want information; do not try and take these people on by yourself.”

“I’ll be as silent as a shadow, I swear it.”

Moira watched the man leave, impressed by the way he blended in with the shadows, vanishing out of sight. “So,” Anders said, leaning against his staff. “Did you really face down a hundred of Loghain’s men in order to take back money that had been stolen from Denerim’s poor?”

“It was more like ten guards, and they hadn’t been Loghain’s.” She frowned, linking her hands behind her back as they traced their steps back towards Amaranthine’s gates. “They had worn the Howe crest.” She could almost hear the rallying song Leliana had sung as she put down a layer of suppressive fire, allowing Zevran and Moira to slip unseen behind the two closest guards, slitting their throats. Zevran’s laugh had echoed out over the guard’s shouts in the abandoned warehouse as he flitted from target to target, his daggers flashing in the torchlight.

Moira hadn’t been as artistic with her kills, especially when she recognized several of the soldiers that had once been guests in her family’s home. Fueled by rage, she had swung her swords, leaving a bloody path of destruction in her wake. The last man standing had screamed for mercy, his face forever frozen in a look of horror even as his head tumbled off his shoulders.

After securing the treasure, Moira had been violently ill outside the warehouse, blood that wasn’t her own covering her hands and dripping into her eyes. Neither of her companions had said anything about her moment of weakness, even as Leliana gently dabbed the blood off her face with a handkerchief and Zevran came back from stripping the bodies of any gold or other valuable trinkets.

“Moira?” Grey eyes looked at her inquisitively.

“The chests the silver bars were in were still stamped with the Cousland crest,” she said, her voice gone hollow. “They were enough to feed the people of Highever as well as the refugees who flooded the city for the entire winter.” She would not apologize for her actions, not even to Nathaniel. “Come on,” she said, clearing her throat. “We’re wasting daylight.”

Nathaniel matched his pace with hers, his hand capturing her wrist. He didn’t use any pressure, his grip meant to merely get her attention instead of restraining her. “You lied about the money,” he said. “You didn’t steal that from any nobleman.” He had come to terms with how she had felt about his father’s guards, knowing by the expression on her face that she hadn’t simply knocked them out cold and then plucked the stolen silver from their incapacitated hands. Had he been in her shoes, he would have killed them as well. He let go of her wrist, but stayed close to her side.

Moira shrugged. “It depends on how you look at it. Those fifty sovereigns were all I had left over from my own personal coffers. Did you really think I would use the Keep’s money for this?”

His eyebrows rose. “So technically a noblewoman is cursing her ill fortune right now?”

“Technically, yes. I would have liked to have used that money for armor or weapon upgrades instead. Anders might have been able to get a better staff if I hadn’t paid the man.” She eyed him. “And you need a new brace for your bow arm.” The longbow he used had also seen better days, no matter how well Nathaniel cared for it.

He looked at his left arm. The brace he wore was old, but it had served him well, protecting his arm from wrist to elbow from the slapping recoil his bow gave every time he fired an arrow. “That money would have been suited better for medicine and bandages,” he said. He cleared his throat and decided to lighten the mood. “So, does becoming the Dark Wolf have anything to do with the near obsession you had with everything and anything related to the Black Fox when you were a child?”

Moira blushed and shrugged again. “Perhaps. I hadn’t thought of it at the time.”

“You always did like to pretend that you were the Black Fox, much to Fergus’ irritation.” He could remember running through the forests surrounding Highever with her and Fergus, their voices shouting from the trees as they drew mission after mission from their young imaginations. “I think that was because he never got a turn to play him.”

Moira laughed, remembering. “He did wind up playing whatever noble we were stealing from an awful lot, didn’t he?”

“Will the two of you hurry up?” Anders asked. “Daylight. We’re wasting it.”

“You’d think that someone who refused to go into the Wending Wood because he got a bad feeling from the place would be hesitant to head off into the Blackmarsh,” Moira drawled.

“Walking, talking trees are creepy,” Anders replied. “Heading into a marsh that has the ruins of an abandoned and supposedly cursed town in the middle of it close to sundown? Not so much.”

“You are a very strange man,” Nathaniel said, shaking his head in disbelief.

“You know, I get that a lot. Hey!” Anders caught up with Moira. “Is it true that you once joined up with the Black Fox? Did you get to meet any of his men? Better yet, did you meet his lady Servana?”

Moira rolled her eyes. “The Black Fox disappeared decades ago. Even if that did happen, how old do you think he’d be?”

“You never know. Didn’t one of the tales say how he found a fountain promising eternal youth?”

“That,” Moira said, playfully punching Anders in the arm, “is something my father used to tell me as a bedtime story. If something existed, surely we’d know about it by now.”

“I don’t know,” Anders insisted. “Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.”


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 3rd, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
I LOOOOOVE this one. Of course, I was pretty well hooked when I saw the title ... Robin Hood ANYTHING is sure to catch my attention, and I love the way you took the legend to Ferelden. XD
Jun. 4th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
I saw the prompt and had to go there. :D Apparently, my Cousland is pretty laid back until someone tries to take credit for all her hard work.

Besides, I've had the opening song to Disney's Robin Hood stuck in my head for days now.
Jun. 4th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
The title cracked me up, but I agree with the previous person there :D Wonderful job, once again, especially with the robin hood -references :D

I'm still working on the portrait of Moira, mostly because I've been ridiculously busy and out of the country and need to finish my next comic first. But I'll do it, I'm officially on holiday now so I have nothing but time :)
Jun. 5th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I was playing Origins and all the Slim Couldry sidequests made me think Human Noble + rogue = Robin Hood. I had that idea floating around in my head before going to see the newest reboot of Robin Hood at the theater, but the movie served as a plot bunny for this.

I'm still working on the portrait of Moira

You have no idea how much that just made me hop up and down in my seat just now. :D
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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