Participants:

Adeline_icon.gif Anders_icon.gif Varric_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Brewing
Synopsis Anders goes to visit Adeline. They meet a dwarf who brings good ale and no real introduction. Then things get a bit hairy.
Location The Hanged Man
Date Justinian 10, 9:31 Dragon
Watch For Varric and Sterling. Oh and Adeline making Anders blush
Logger Anders

It seems The Hanged Man has grown accustomed to the Senior Warden just perching in the back of the room. The farthest corner, in sight of the door. Adeline was there near nightly, and at first it had just been drinking. Then a card game here or there. Then mending armor. This, though, is definitely the strangest thing Adeline has gotten up to at the back table. Papers, burnt and damaged, bearing Warden seals. The dark haired woman pours over them, head rested on her hand, brow knit with concentration.

Not that anyone would know it by his life lately, but there had once been a time when Anders liked very much to spend his evenings around a fire, drinking with Adeline and other Wardens. It'd been a twisted form of family in a way he hadn't really felt before then. So perhaps it's a surprise to everyone but Adeline, but this particular evening sees the Darktown Healer coming in the door of the Hanged Man. It's a process, wiggling and elbowing his way through the already tipsy crowd, but he does, eventually, make it far enough to breach the circle of 'respectful distance' most of the worst ones give the Senior Warden. "Maker's saggy balls," he huffs, collapsing into a chair opposite Adeline. "You'd think this was a barn, not a bar."

Varric is home, and he heard that. He also has ale and it looks decidedly better than the swill that's been coming from the bar lately. "The barkeep sends his apologies," he announces as he sets the mugs down. They're Dwarf size, so of course they're huge. "You've got a pretty good way with words, Blondie. You sure you're no some kind of minstrel?" Adeline is given a nod and he takes a seat as if he owned the place- IF ONLY- before picking up his own mug.

"You mean to tell me it's not?" Adeline says, looking up to Anders with a wry smirk. At Varric's arrival, though, with drinks that aren't awful, she can't help but laugh. "Oh… You can stay…" She says, laughing. No, she doesn't really know the dwarf that walks around the place like he owns it, but she's not going to turn down someone who supplies her decent drink and who comes up with a name like Blondie for Anders.

Anders wrinkles his nose at 'Blondie', but manages to tolerate it with something like equanimity. After all, it's neither 'mage' or 'abomination'. Also ale. Nice ale. "Ferelden ale?" It smells like the stuff he used to drink at the Pearl, anyway. "I would make a terrible minstrel." But he'll absolutely take the ale. "The only thing I know how to do with a lute is bash someone's face in. Not terribly musical, that."

"Careful how you talk about my home, Sunshine," Varric's friendly warning comes in an amused tone. "That's too bad. We could dress you up in frilly clothes and let you entertain the crowd. The ale's Ferelden," he confirms. "It was supposed to be for our Warden guests but the barkeep had other ideas. Then I told him a story."

Adeline shrugs. "I tease the things I like. I get angry at the things I don't. I'm not angry." The Senior Warden explains simply to Varric, drinking and seeming pleased enough. With as long as she'd been with the Wardens, she had lost much of her noble fussiness, but there was a line and what they had been serving previously was beyond it. Though, she does laugh a moment later, beginning to collect up the papers strewn across the table. "Well, that figures. Sounds like it was a good story."

Anders can't verbally back up Adeline's statement immediately, as he has a mouthful of really nice ale ohsweetMakerFINALLY, but he does gesture toward her with a nod when she says it. It at least buys him time to swallow. "It's true. You don't wanna know what happens when she decides she doesn't like you." Another mouthful of sweet home Denerim ale. "I only ever saw it once and it was not a good time."

Varric raises his mug. "Well then, let's hope we're friends. It'd be a shame to wast good ale on enemies. The story? It's only exciting if you're a barkeep. It ends with the barkeep quitting his bar and joining a Chantry choir as soprano." In other words, he's a FRIENDLY convincer.

"Generally getting that side of me requires hurting one of my people or being a Darkspawn, so I think you're alright." Adeline says with another small laugh. The papers gathered, she offers them over to Anders. "You should see if you can make heads or tails of these, because I certainly can't."

That's enough to make Anders spit a mouthful of ale back in his mug, face dipping down into the crook of his arm for a moment for laughter. "You're funny. I've never met a funny dwarf. I met a very serious dwarf and then a very stern dwarf and then, well, there was Oghren." Who is just in a category all his own. "But never a funny one. And you bring good ale." Adeline gets his attention then, big sunshine eyes set into a puppy dog expression. "Can we keep him, Mum? Please can we?" But - oh. Oh, she's handing him actual serious things. He should… probably take a look at those.

Varric chuckles. "I'll take your word for it," he agrees. "I'm a surface Dwarf, Blondie. Sunshine and ale that isn't made from mushrooms." It's as good an explanation as any. "Oh, I don't think you'll have trouble keeping me around. You're Wardens. Wardens always have stories. In fact, I'd be willing to wager a card game on it." He glances back toward his own room. "Away from the garden of roses out here."

Adeline rolls her eyes at Anders, but the smile she has says there's no true displeasure behind it. "Yes, alright, fine. Though I think he's more keeping us. At least, I would imagine you're the man whose suite we've been put up in?" Adeline say, directing the question at Varric. "And I may regret this later, but if you want a card game, I'm almost always up for the distraction. Especially if it's not a waste of coin."

Anders is quick to throw his hands up in a 'hold on there' gesture. "I'm only sort of a Warden." Which probably makes no sense, but it's a disclaimer he throws out anyway. "On sabbatical." Or something. The mention of a card game perks his interest, but even finishing the last of his ale (what, he was thirsty) isn't enough distraction to keep him from groaning out loud. "Aaadiiiieee," he whines. "You've got to warn me before we play strip cards. I don't have any layers on."

"Blondie, I'll spot you some layers," Varric assures before giving one nod to affirm Adeline's assumption. "That you are. I like to stay close to my business connections and to my warehouse. Sunshine, if you don't regret taking up an offer of cards from a Dwarf, you're dealing with a short human. I'll make sure it's the kind of regret you're able to tell stories about around the fire, promise."

"There is no 'sort of' a Warden, Anders, and you know that damn well." Adeline says, sounding serious for the first time, but the moment of severity passes quickly, as she smirks. "What, did you just come here from that elf's place? Have you left clothing behind?" She teases, wry and sisterly. "Don't take pity on him, Varric, he whines well but he's not nearly as terrible at cards as he'd have you think."

"Yes there is," Anders snaps back, but he sounds more peevish than actually upset. "There's the bit you can't get rid of and then there's wearing the uniforms, going to the parties, participating in the cult." There's a bitter edge to that last part and his hands clench into fists, but it lasts only long enough for him to take a deep breath. Then Adeline starts in on her teasing and the skin over Anders' cheekbones flushes bright red. "I'm wearing what I usually wear," he argues. "Minus the spear. It still has Rage goop on it." And he glances down at the stack of fragile paper scraps Adeline had handed over. "If you must know, most of my gear is still underground. I had to make a quick exit from one of the boltholes." Which means is has nothing at all to do with Fenris. So there. "One round. I'll play one round."

Varric shakes his head. "Oh, I don't doubt it. But I've heard of this veil dance thing and I thought this was as good of an opportunity as I was gonna get." He can say it with complete seriousness. "Come on, Blondie. With a blush like that, if you don't go at least three it's a waste. "Rage goop and boltholes. I think I need to hear this one." He's not going to touch that whole rant thing. He'll remember it in detail, but that's the sort of conversational slope you DON'T go down with new friends.

Adeline narrows her eyes some at Anders. "Just because-" She stops herself, taking a deep breath. This was not the time nor the place to argue with Anders about his distancing. Though the pain that his pushing away his identity with the Wardens causes her is plain, briefly, in her eyes, sad and sharp. She shakes it off, and laughs a little. "It is quite a story. Involving very stupid mages, slaves, and his… Friend… Making poor life choices." Adeline says with a nod. Nevermind that it ended up having the whole of Lowtown whispering about her leading a bunch of rescued slaves through the city. Nevermind that at all. "I'm with the dwarf, three rounds, at least. You won't even drink properly with less than that."

"'I'm with the dwarf'. Those are words you'll always regret saying." But Anders is resigned to his fate. "Also Qunari. Don't forget the Qunari." But that's the sum of his addition as he neatens the stack of papers and lifts them off the table in preparation to go… wherever they were going.

Varric finishes off his ale and stands. "Qunari, eh? Sounds like you have one busy social life." A nod goes to the barkeep before he looks back at the Wardens. "You shouldn't have any more trouble with the barkeep. If you do, just let me know or leave a note. Goes for you, too, Blondie. Even if you're just part Warden. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a little business to attend to." He's leaving with a smile, so it can't be bad business, right?

Adeline laughs a little, nodding to Varric as he leaves. "Saved by the dwarf's professional life." She quips to Anders, "But another night." She glances to the papers, "I suppose I should start going through those again. I was trying to organize them into what I think is their chronological order. There aren't a lot of dates."

Anders looks incredibly confused. "Business?" Hadn't they just finished bullying him into strip-versions of card games? "Alright then." He's perfectly happy to settle back down, though the departing dwarf does get a lifted mug in salute. After that it's back to the charred up, blood-spattered notes of doom and creepiness. "No dates, no penmanship… no sense." He shuffles through them carefully, skimming the information that's there. "Who the blazes is Fiona?"

"I have no fucking idea." Adeline says, shaking her head. "But I really, really wish I did." The Senior Warden sighs, drinking then. She's not nearly so quick with the drinking as Anders was. Then again, she's been nursing drinks all day. A constant low buzz was just sort of her… Life.

Anders stares at the pages on the table in front of him and then stares into the bottom of his empty mug, debating a refill and then battling the spike of… guilt that thought caused. Where in the world had that come from? "R could be Roarke, I guess. Stands to reason if there's Warden weirdness going on that the Commanders'd know, right?" He's really thinking about that second mug now. "But the only D I know of at that level is Duncan and he died at Ostagar." And he only knows that much because Oghren really liked to tell Merida's stories around an evening's fire. "There wasn't anything else in the box?" He knows the answer is probably 'no' - because that's just their luck - but he's gonna ask anyway. Cause what's the harm, right?

"Duncan…" Adeline says, nodding. That's a name she knows. Not well, but a name she's familiar enough with. Waiting with baited breath on the Orlesian border had assured that. "I suppose that could be it. But it doesn't… I don't know, it doesn't feel right somehow. I had thought this might be Roarke but it's not like anything I've seen from him before." Not that she knew the man particularly well, much less in the time when these would have had to have been written if the mysterious 'D' is Duncan. "Admittedly, though, I've seen little." She exhales sharp through her nose, "Though that does settle that we definitely need to find him."

"Adie, we found those letters covered in blood in a box in a warehouse full of slaves, demons and blood mages." Anders' tone is dry, but there's a warmth and concern in the way he looks at her - sizes up her stress levels - that softens it. "Of course it doesn't feel right. Grey Warden documents have no business being mixed up with Tevinter blood magic." Unless… "Now if there was an 'S' in there, I'd say that makes perfect bloody sense, but alas."

Adeline sighs. "I don't even know why…" She makes a sharp, displeased noise. Not quite a growl, but akin to it. The Senior Warden has been wound tight since she got here, and there's more to it than just these letters. "I don't like the numbers we have, but I don't think I can put off the search much longer." She says then, sounding dire, "And I know you… Want… I don't know what you want… But I will need you Anders."

"I was afraid you'd say that," Anders says on a sigh. "I hate the Deep Roads." But Adie is one of the few people who understands the root of his inability to cope with dark and cramped spaces. If she's asking… "Maker, this is going to be bad, isn't it?" He takes a look at her, really and truly takes a look at her. What he sees, it… it worries him. "Are you okay, Adie? Honestly." He isn't the only one to take Sidona's fuckery to heart, but this feels like… he doesn't know but he doesn't like it.

"I know you do." Adeline says, genuinely sounding apologetic. She really wouldn't be asking if she wasn't staring down the arrow shaft of her and Minea going off after two units of missing Wardens on their own. "He took two units, Anders. There are… A small handful of us. I don't know what they ran into but…" She trails off, shaking her head, "Yes. I am fine." Liar.

"You're a lying liar that lies, Adie." Yes, Anders, very mature. He even pout-frowns in a very male display of 'there is something wrong and you will not let me fix it WHY?'. "Do we have any idea where they went?" One hand scrubs over his face and he sighs. "I scribbled out some rough maps while I was coming in from Ostwick. If you've got a proper one I can take, I'll do a comparison and mark off the tunnels that were collapsed when I went through."

Adeline shakes her head. "The Warden Commander keeps those kinds of maps, and I imagine he took them with him. Sidona seemed to think I'd know this area because I'm a Marcher… But I'm from Starkhaven," Her voice breaks just smallest bit with the city's name, "I'd never even been to Kirkwall until now." There's a moment then that she pauses, considering something, but she just shakes her head.

Anders is not, generally, a touchy-feely person. He manages a good bedside manner, but it's somehow… different with his patients in a way he cannot possibly describe. So it's a little bit unusual, perhaps, when the narrow-eyed gaze he'd leveled on her for that break on 'Starkhaven' drops to her hands as he reaches one of his to cover hers, squeezing ever so gently. That pause worries him further and he swipes his thumb across the knuckles. "Adeline, what is it you're not telling me?"

Taking a deep breath at the hand upon her own, she looks down to it, brow knitting a little. "It's nothing…" She says, though that tone gives her away terribly, as does the shine that has started to catch in her eyes, "I'm fine." She pushes her mug away, and looks like she's about to slip away, to stand, to bolt for the nearest exit. That was her way, wasn't it? Running away? It was what she had spent her entire life doing. Running from one situation she couldn't handle to the next, and though that running had ultimately lead her to being a Warden of all things, she's never been terribly good at facing anything head on. But there's this twisting crush in her chest and it steals her breath all at once, the thought of her brother swimming in her mind though she has tried so, so hard to not wonder after him, and the Senior Warden looks like shes about to be sick.

This isn't like Adeline… this isn't like Adeline at all. Anders sees the wetness in her eyes, but that does not register as well as the uncomfortable look of nausea. Already the place where his hand touches hers is bursting with little tufts of his magic as his desire to make it better wars with his better sense. Before anything, however, he needs to get her out of this barn-brawl waiting to happen. "C'mon, Adie, let's get you upstairs, yeah?" And he's standing, moving around the table to go and help her up if she'll let him.

There's a moment where it seems like she is going to protest. She glances through the throng to the door. There's no good in it. Even if she does make it outside, it's just this terrible city air, and she can't accept that. The twisting pain in her chest turns heavy, and she feels as if she can't breathe. None the less, she knows staying down here won't help her at all, and she pulls herself up, using what sense she has left to move up the stairs. A few steps up, she's leaning against the way, that sense quickly failing her. But between her sheer force of will, though it is fading like a candle sputtering out, and Anders, she does manage to get up stairs before her knees give way, and the breaths she pulls from the air rattles in her chest.

This isn't the first time Anders has had to half-carry a person up a flight of stairs. There's a particular trick to it that healers tend to learn early - to save their backs if nothing else. The fact that it's Adeline, though… it frightens him in ways he'd rather not examine too closely, but the fact of the matter remains; this woman is the closest thing to family he's got left. "Adie," he calls gently as he settles her on the edge of her cot. "Adie, I'm going to cast, alright?" Maker, time spent with Fenris has rubbed off on him. "Just to help you breathe for a minute."

Adeline curls in on herself as she's set on the edge of the cot. Her hands cover her eyes, heels of her palms pressed firm against them, her fingers lacing at her hairline. There is a nod at Anders' explanation, but it is small and weak. Again she attempts breath, and it is as ragged as before. The problem, of course, being that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with her airway, or lungs. It's just panic, the heavy crushing panic that steals your breath and twists your insides and makes you feel cold in all the places you can't feel normally. The sort of panic that trickles like ice water down your spine, the eyes in the walls watching just beyond your field of vision. The deafening thunder of the blood in your ears, so maddening and so very, deeply silent all at once.

Anders has a deep and insidious relationship with this kind of panic. There's nothing wrong with her airways, but that doesn't mean he cannot bring her heart rate down by gentle degrees. It's a trick he's always wished he could figure out how to do without manually applying the reflex to himself when the panic takes over, but the memory of dealing with his last attack is still fresh enough to take the sting out of that lack. This way is easier and he sits on the cot next to her until her pulse is easier to cope with, a hand rubbing circles over her shoulder blades while everything is given a chance to become just a little bit less overwhelming.

Slowly, very slowly, Adeline begins to breathe more regularly. The pounding in her ears quiets, and the tension that had held her breath hostage unwinds out into her muscles. It makes her tremble violently, and as she returns to breathing, that breath is soon replaced by shuddering sobs. The tears fall faster than she can dream of stopping them, faster than she can even feel, catching on her palms and rolling down her forearms. Everything she ran from, it wasn't for hatred. It was her own shortcoming, not a lack of love. And now…

Anders does not normally know everything that is going on in any given situation - nine times out of ten he is the least informed person in the room. It's just his lot in life and he has accepted that. But this is bad even for him. He has… not even the faintest foggiest clue what is going on. What he does know is that his friend is deeply upset by… something. So he sits with her while she cries it out, one hand squeezing her shoulder gently while the other rubs her back. It's paltry comfort in the face of whatever grief is this strong, but he's offering it all the same.

Eventually, her crying quiets enough for her to pull her hands away from her eyes. Red and swollen, it only makes the blue of them stronger for the contrast. She takes a deep breath, trying to stop the trembling, but it won't quit. She doesn't know how long she cried but it was… A while. "My uncle, my aunt… My cousins…" She shakes her head, closing her eyes again, "I don't know exactly how many of my family… But a number, a large number." She swallows hard, stumbling on the words, passing over her lips like shattered glass, "They're dead."

"Oh, Adie…" Anders shifts his grip to one that more closely resembles a proper hug. A while is fine, he's obviously not going anywhere. "I'm so sorry." It's hollow and trite and contrived, but he means it and somehow that softens it at least a little. "What happened? When were you notified?"

"It… Took awhile getting to me." Adeline manages, voice raw from her crying, "With how much moving around I had done. Not terribly long. Not long after I'd made it to Kirkwall." And she's been swallowing it down since then. Keeping it in a box, not looking at it. Running. As always. "I don't… Have all of the details. It was brief. Just a message from a friend from a long, long time ago."

That… isn't much to go on. "Did it give you any leads to follow up on?" A clue, a hint, anything. Or if not that then, "How far is it to get to Starkhaven from here, anyway?" Because fuck no she is not dealing with this alone.

"A mercenary company." Adeline says, "But not who would have hired them." She shakes her head, but moves to return the hug that Anders has given her, placing her head on his shoulder, sighing. "I can't go back there. I can't do anything there."

"The responsible company is a good start," Anders answers, wrapping both arms around Adeline and squeezing her reassuringly. "There's always one of them who tells. We can look." And until they found one she could take her grief and anger out on anything that stands in their way.

"And do what, Anders?" Adeline says, sounding despairing, "I can't get involved. Not in the position I'm in… Not with… I just… This isn't my fight. Angry and hurt as I am, grieving as I am, it isn't my fight."

Now it's Anders' turn to look cross. "Like the Void it's not," he says, enough force in the tone to try and snap her out of this despair. "Adeline Vael, the Wardens ask you to give up your inheritance, but not to cut your ties." It's one of those things that makes them marginally better than the Circle. "Yes, there's a job here that needs doing. Yes, you're going to drag me down into the Deep Roads, but damn it there's nothing saying we can't bash some murdering heads in afterwards."

"I know what you're trying to do, Anders, and I appreciate it, but it's not that simple." Adeline says, "Even if it is my fight, I really don't have the time. I have responsibilities, even once we're back from finding Roarke. Likely more after we're back from finding Roarke. I can't go hunting down mercenaries for a family I haven't-" Her voice catches again, and she sobs again, though the tears don't come to match it, "Haven't seen in near fifteen years."

"Yes it bloody well is that simple!" Anders huffs, rubbing soothing circles over her back and at the same time muttering under his breath about Maker-blighted stubborn women. "They were your family, Adie. Nothing changes that. You're allowed to mourn their loss and you are allowed to seek justice for the crime committed against them and all their surviving kin. Which, in case you were wondering, includes you." He squeezes her shoulders at that new sob. "And unless you're going to tell me that you took some magic fucking potion that erased all traces of stubborn Starkhaven noble from your veins, princess, you are going to get the violent peace you deserve over this." He huffs again, rolling his shoulders and reining his tone in until he sounds almost prim and proper. "And if Roarke says anything about it I'll punch him right in the nose."

Adeline gives a very weak laugh at that. "I am sure you would." She says weakly. There's a bitterness in her heart that she can't shake, but it's all directed at herself. "What right do I have to take up this slight, Anders? I gave them up. I gave them all up. I walked away. I…" She shakes her head, sighing heavily, "I said things I can't take back. I share their blood, sure, but I don't… Fifteen years, Anders, I didn't even know any of them anymore."

There's a long moment where Anders is quiet in the face of Adeline's bitterness. It's something echoed in his own heart - though for different reasons - and he respects that enough not to banter back willy-nilly. So when he finally does speak, it's low and quiet - personal, but not hasty - a statement few beyond this woman would understand. "If it had been my family I would not stop until I had ripped open the throat of every single person responsible." He echoes her laughter, quiet and dark. "I have siblings who don't even know I exist, but they still share my blood." And he might be bitter enough, coward enough not to seek them out now, but that's not the current point. "Having a 'right' doesn't even come into it, Adie. They're your family. You love them. The people who killed them hurt you by doing it. That's all the right you need to seek justice."

"To be entirely fair, Anders," Adeline starts, very, very gentle in her tone, "I think your… Inclinations… Toward my seeking justice might be a little bit," She pauses, considering how to phrase the next statement, "Impassioned?" She swallows hard. "I don't… I am angry. Maker, I am immensely, ridiculously angry but…" Adeline sighs, pulling a hand through her hair, "But I won't take up this fight unless…" And there's her brother's face, swimming in her mind again, and her stomach does a flip, "Unless I found out they've killed my brother." She doesn't talk about having one often, much less that he's her twin, "Then, I will find every last one of them."

Despite Adeline's gentleness, the implications of her statement are not missed. Anders dismisses them with a scoff. "Trust me, if he was coming out to play I think we'd both know it." He even holds out the hand not around her shoulders in front of them both. "See? No cracks." As though that settles everything. "You know I'll be coming with you, right?" This is somehow quieter, somehow gentler, somehow… somehow more intrinsically Anders. "If you decide to go, I'm not letting you do it alone."

"Just because he's not trying to run the show doesn't mean he's silent." Adeline says, brow knitting as she finally looks over to Anders. "I hadn't really known him to be silent on much, in general." There's a tiny smirk then, and she nods. "I know, Anders." She says finally, "Thank you."

Anders rolls his eyes, relieved to be moving back onto less emotionally-fraught ground. "Believe me, I get an earful every time I manage to sleep long enough to end up in the Fade." Which is not, perhaps, as often as it should be. "He does not approve of some of my… life choices." In any case, he squeezes one more time in silent acknowledgment of her thanks and then simply lets his arm settle comfortably around her shoulders. "And who knows, maybe we'll all get eaten by the blind Hurlock Alpha while we're down in the Deep Roads. Everything else is purely academic at that point." Helpful, Anders. Helpful.

Adeline leans against Anders then, more at ease. "Well, it's your life, and he's just going to have to deal with that." Adeline says, sounding very sure. Though she laughs then, looking over with a raised brow. "Blind Hurlock Alpha? There's a story there."

Oh there's a grin for that. "To be fair, it wasn't blind when I met it." Because that makes it so much better, right? "I'd had to leave my staff behind when I ducked the Templars in Ostwick. Took one of their melee staves with me instead. Not a weapon I would suggest for a solo stroll in the Roads." If he hadn't had a more keenly accurate sense of where the Darkspawn were than most - and his magic to fall back on when sneaking failed - he never would have made it out of there. "When I came out on the coast, it was with a band of Genlocks and a Hurlock Alpha on my ass. Bastard broke my staff in two and I was so fed up with everything I screamed at him, flipped the one half until I had both pointy ends down - like Nate kept trying to teach us, remember? - and stabbed it right in the eyes." He laughs a little at the memory, though there's a frisson of disgust there too. "Did not think about the fact that pulling them out again would give me eye kebabs, but what can you do?" And that's when his smile (and his voice) goes just a little bit dopey. "It was really satisfying after everything, but I would have been a sitting duck if Fenris hadn't ignored sensible orders and distracted the damn thing from killing me on the spot."

Adeline laughs, shaking her head. "I suppose you don't spend a lot of time aiming for eyes, do you?" She says. After all, she is well and truly familiar with just about every variation of eye injury at this point. They're a very effective target and, well, then there's Sterling. Sterling who has been resting nicely enough on a perch in the corner of the room, until right about now, when he decides that Anders's shoulder shall be his new perch and that is just that. Adeline laughs quietly at the bird as he settles and begins preening at Anders' hair. "That elf is certainly interesting. Is that when you picked him up?"

Sterling deciding to make him a perch never gets old for Anders, who submits to the preening with patience and lifts his free hand to run very gentle knuckles along the flow of soft breast feathers. "Nope, that was definitely a first for me." Nevermind that the damn bird has his face lit up like a kid on his birthday. And definitely nevermind the color rising to the apples of his cheeks when Adeline asks about Fenris. "I didn't pick him up," he protests, though he keeps his voice down in deference to his current passenger. "You don't 'pick up' Fenris. He's not like that."

At least the falcon has learned manners when it comes to his talons. He fluffs at Anders' petting, but it is a pleasant sort of fluffing. Adeline smiles broadly, even laughs, at the color that comes to Anders' face. "Oh? What is he like, then?" She says, "Though I suppose you're right. They say between the two of you he does more of the picking up."

Anders has always been something of an awkward little turtle, but damn it, he'd grown out of most of that by now. Not that anyone would believe that watching him choke and sputter - while trying not to upset the bird. "Maker, of course that's the part of the story people are talking about." Because that is just his life. "He's…" He starts to shrug awkwardly, but the weight of Sterling on one shoulder and Adie wrapped with the other arm makes him abort the motion before it's really had a chance to begin. "He's a good man, Adie. He doesn't think so, but he is." The damn elf had made an effort to spare grass from the taint of Darkspawn blood. "And those won't be the last slavers stupid enough to go after him, either." And despite his confidence in Fenris' martial ability, there is no small amount of worry, there.

Laughing again, Adeline places a platonic kiss to Anders' cheek. "You're cute when you're embarrassed." She says, shaking her head, though her expression turns serious a moment later. "He certainly seems protective, at least, and I'll settle for that most of the time." She says, nodding, "I imagine it won't be. But he's dear to you, and I'll put a lot of arrows through a lot of eyes before I let slavers have him." Marcher sensibilities, ladies and gentlemen.

That bit of sisterly affection makes Anders go bashful in an entirely different way. "You're an evil woman, Adeline," he grumbles, but there's no heat in it - except what's coming off his blushing face. 'Protective' gets a snorted laugh, because boy if that isn't the understatement of the year, but then she's going on and Anders is… Anders is genuinely touched. "He is," he admits quietly. "Dear to me, I mean." The clarification is not likely needed, but the awkward is out in full force now. "There aren't a lot of people that are, so I try to keep the few of you around."

"Yeah, I know the feeling." Adeline says, shaking her head. Seems she won't poke at the awkwardness any further. She's not that mean. "Thank you, Anders, for getting me upstairs." She looks around the room, full of cots, mostly unused. She didn't like these numbers. The whole world still feels a little bit fuzzy, a little unreal, like the ground might give way if she tries to stand, but she's overall recovered rather well.

Anders doesn't linger on the thanks. "Don't mention it." He watches her look around at the empty cots and feels again that little frisson of helplessness in the face of her worry. "We'll be okay, Adie. We've made it through tougher scrapes than this." But there is only one thing to do in the meantime. "A good mug of hot tea is what you need. Best medicine." At least for the intangible hurts, anyway. "If you'll take Sterling, I'll go down and see if that dwarf stashes away anything that isn't ale or cards."

"Yeah, I know." Adeline says, though her voice says she doesn't entirely believe it. Laughing, the Senior Warden shakes her head. "Oh, no, he's decided that's where he's sitting, and that's where he'll stay. He shouldn't give you any trouble about going to downstairs." Theoretically.

And there is enough of a child left inside Anders to be painfully excited about the chance to walk around with the badass bird on his shoulder. He lets his arm drop from around Adie's shoulders and stands gently, not altogether sure where the balance is between bird motion and human motion. Still, he's absolutely going to try! "Alright then, Ser Sterling. We've got a dwarf to go con out of some tea." And then it'll be home to his own bed. Or maybe to the Land of Horrid Quilts, because of course getting to team up with Sterling (who scares even Fenris) is a story worth sharing. Even if it's for something as banal as tea.

Adeline smiles as Anders gets up, amused by his excitement. Sterling, for his part, just ruffles, shifts his stance slightly, and then remains. He's been hanging out on people's shoulders since his pin feathers weren't fully in. He could manage this just fine. In fact, he even returns to preening Anders' hair as they make their way downstairs.


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