Anders_icon.gif Adeline_icon.gif

Scene Title The Prodigal Son
Synopsis Anders finally makes it to the Hanged Man to give Adeline the updates from Amaranthine and his own sorry life. She takes it… mostly well.
Location The Hanged Man & Lowtown
Date 27 Bloomingtide, 9:31 Dragon
Watch For Anders being an idiot, Adeline being Mom
Logger Anders

Drinking. That's how she's spent a lot of her time recently. Adeline had never liked waiting. She despised waiting, in fact. Everyone who knew her knew that much. But being here, thus far, was one giant game of 'hurry up and wait.' The ale made is bearable, though the ale here was awful.

In the back of the room, Adeline has taken up her recent perch, back to the corner. In her light armor today, Sterling sits upon her right shoulder, hooded to keep him calm. Vael blue eyes watch the room, people watching to keep herself busy. There might be people taking bets on how many drinks she's gone through this far.

Anders isn't wearing a uniform. He doesn't even have a staff. Plain brown trousers, boots and a much-patched shirt make it easier to blend in among the rabble, but it also makes it hard to get through the rabble. There's a bit of a scuffle toward the front of the establishment and he only barely ducks in time to avoid a tankard to the face. So it is by the time he gets the barkeep's attention and is directed back to the right table, he's got both hands engaged just in tying his hair back out of his face. The expression is clouded, but breaks into a crooked grin easily enough when he finally catches sight of the familiar bird and woman. "Adie," he calls upon approach. "Tell me you're drinking something that smells better than this piss they just tried to sell me."

The fight makes Adeline frown. But she does nothing about it. They've at least learned not to fight near her table, there have been enough pointed glares and huffy breakups for that to continue. So she leaves them be. Anders' lack of uniform, his lack of staff, his simple dress, she doesn't even notice he's approaching her until she hears his voice, and it makes her smile.

"Anders!" Adeline says, looking over, brightening a great deal, even laughing. "Afraid not. But you get used to it. Or it numbs your tongue. Sit down."

Anders does as he's told, kicking out a chair from her table and settling himself into it. He's a little paler even than usual and there are dark circles under his eyes, but there's this little smile playing around the corner of his mouth that he can't quite suppress and a mischievous - almost playful - light to honey eyes that hasn't been there in a very long time. "Yes, because that sounds healthy." He leans back a little in his chair and gives her a sharp-eyed once over. "What are you doing here? This doesn't really strike me as your kind of place, princess." He's teasing, but it's as friendly as it always has been. He hadn't meant to, but he'd made friends in Amaranthine - even if some of them fucked off to parts unknown.

Oh, that gets a glare. A sharp one. It's been awhile since she's seen Anders, and once upon a time the nickname was pestering but not painful. She'd tolerated it, even laughed. Now, though, now, with news of the events in Starkhaven… But she catches herself and sighs, her look softening as she looks down into her drink, shrugs. "I didn't make the arrangements." She answers, "Someone apparently didn't try too hard."

The edge to that glare startles Anders - enough to make him jump a bit. That… is not the reaction to his teasing he remembers. Eye-rolling? Of course. The occasional elbow to his ribs or punch to his arm? Absolutely. But this… this is like he'd actually hurt her and that was not at all his intention. "Aw, Adie…" He trails off, no longer really all that interested in why there were Wardens in a dive bar. "What's wrong?" And then a thought occurs to him with a possibility that is fairly blindsiding. "You haven't heard any news from the Vigil, have you?"

"Only the rumors of the fire." Adeline replies simply. It seems whatever is wrong, she's not offering up. At least, she's delaying by focusing only upon his second question first. In an effort to buy more time, she drinks deep, despite the quality, or lack thereof.

Two words should not have such a tangible effect on a person, but 'the fire' makes Anders visibly flinch. For the first time since his arrival, his shoulders droop and some of that energy deflates away, shame keeping his eyes fixed on his hands and giving him pause before the long inhale-exhale. "I - … yeah. Yeah. They're true. It burned. It all burned." And everyone that had been inside it.

The stream of curses that pour under Adeline's breath for that unspoken, yet heard all the same, completion to that sentence are… Well, she's been with the Wardens a long time, and they're a creative lot with swearing. It goes one for a good half a minute. Until finally, Adeline drains her drink, takes a deep breath, and fixes Anders with an unwavering stare. "What happened?"

Anders lowers his voice and leans forward over the table when he makes to answer her, leaving the cursing to go un-commented upon. "It was that damned Architect," he begins quietly, knowing that the name alone will be enough. "Sidona made a deal with him after you were gone. Dragged us into the middle of some… Darkspawn civil war. He'd changed one of the Broodmothers, somehow. She went insane, Adie. Unleashed at least a thousand on the city and the Keep. Sidona she…" This part is hard to tell. It's always hard to tell, but doubly so when he'd repeated parts of it just this morning already. "She had the gates brought down and set the city on fire. We were not to help. We were to concentrate on the Keep and the Keep alone. The fire would cleanse the Darkspawn in Amaranthine, she said. There was 'no need' to waste us where the flames could do just as well." Even just remembering the cold, detached way with which those lives were ended makes him sick inside. "I don't know how many people lived in Amaranthine, Adie, but I know exactly how many got out." None. Not a single one of them.

Her knuckles go white the minute he says the word 'Architect.' Adeline actively winces, she snarls, she growls. All of it gradual, layer upon layer of rage building upon itself as he continues to speak. As he finishes, there's a pause, no longer than a heartbeat. Then, she takes up her empty mug and throws it against the opposite wall with a solid thud and a clatter to the floor. It gets a glare from the barkeep. She doesn't care. More swearing, even as it is muffled by the displeased avian cry of Sterling. She needs to shoot something. Taking up her bow that sits beside the table, she stands, and is moving for the door. And an angry warden with a weapon in her hand gets the crowd to part.

Anders can empathize with the need to expend the kind of pain and rage which has its roots in Amaranthine. Those ghosts will haunt him for the length of his natural life, most likely. When Sterling screams out displeasure, he winces, but it doesn't stop him following her when she stands and when she leaves, at her shoulder the minute they get through the door and out into the much wider streets of Lowtown. There's more to the story and given how much he's sure she won't like it, the best idea is probably to let her shoot things for the rest of it.

Adeline had been betting on Anders following her. Thus, she just keeps walking. Walking until she finds an alley filled with discarded and broken crates. Empty. The bow raises, she pulls an arrow from the quiver at her back, she shoots with a twang of her bowstring and a thump as the arrow meets wood. It is then that she nods to him. "Continue."

Anders is content enough to follow the Senior Warden. She's been here longer and (probably!) knows where she's going. When they stop at the mouth of an empty dead end alley, he can't exactly say he's surprised but the first thump does make him jump a little. "She killed Pounce," he informs her, beginning with the information that (while it had impacted him a great deal) meant the least in the grand scheme of things. "I made the mistake of asking why one time. Once. She ripped him right open - said he was making me 'soft'." And she'd said a great deal more, but those were personal ills. The last piece of news had… slightly wider implications. He just wasn't entirely certain how to begin.

"Rancid bitch." Adeline hisses as she draws another arrow, pulling it back all the way to her ear. The fletching cuts for the speed of the arrow's release. It drives home into crate, sinking, and hitting the stone behind with a ring and scrape. "Vile, heinous…" The string of words just continues, all manner of swears that she knows. The twang of her bowstring makes Sterling uneasy, the sound meaning danger and work for him. Realizing his discomfort, she stops to lift his hood, and he alights from her shoulder to circle above the alley. "I am sorry, Anders."

There's something small and petty about the comfort Anders takes in Adeline's litany of curses. He is not - nor has he ever claimed to be - the 'bigger man'. Pounce was just a cat, but a cat isn't 'just' anything when its your closest companion. "Thank you." No one had offered the simple balm of condolence for it. That small kindness makes the part he has to tell next both easier and much, much harder. "The worst of it came later. We were preparing to march on the broodmother's stronghold under the Wastes and somehow Justice found out what Sidona had done in Amaranthine. You… can probably imagine just how well that did not go."

"Oh Maker…" Adeline says, pulling another arrow, drawing, loosing. She's bracing herself, but she's already angry.

Anders takes another deep breath, steeling himself against the flashes of memory that always come when he has cause to think about this part of his life. "He… Maker, he was so damn civilized about it. He marched right into the main hall and demanded an explanation for the injustice of so many innocent deaths. She didn't even open her mouth, Adie. She just cut him down, right there, in cold blood." He was one of them - even the spirit-wary among Vigil's Keep had come to love and accept Justice among them, quirks and all. To lose him without so much as a warning was… it was a shock, to say the least. "I just… I'd watched her do so much - so many people had suffered and died and I had done nothing. I couldn't do it anymore." Which makes him sound weak to his own ears and the word 'abomination' rings in his recent memory, but if anyone might understand why he did what he did, it'd be Adeline. "I couldn't let him die, too. I don't… remember exactly what happened or how, but he's in here with me somehow. I can talk to him when I dream in the Fade at night."

There's no loosed arrow this time. No, this time the bow falls to the ground. She drops it. Adeline. Adeline fucking Vael drops her bow. If this were Starkhaven, she'd be disowned. Her eyes go wide, and she looks over to Anders. "WHAT?!"

Okay so that's perhaps a slightly more dramatic reaction than Anders had been expecting. Taking a step back without consciously meaning to, he holds both hands up in a placating motion and shakes his head. "He was dying, Adie! What would you have done?" Maker, the mage-hating elf had taken this news better.

"Maker, Anders, if I wanted to hurt you, I wouldn't have disarmed myself." Adeline says, perhaps more snappishly than she means. "I was talking about her." She practically spits that last word. "She did what?"

"Killed him," Anders answers, still looking at her with a fair amount of apprehension. "Flipped her staff and drove the blade right between his ribs." It's nothing personal, just that the last few months have not been particularly kind to him and the last few days have exhausted him and the last few hours have worn him thin. "It was too fast to stop it and with the extensive damage already done to that body there wasn't any other way to… to save him."

Adeline takes a deep breath. It's not enough. Closing the distance between them swiftly, Adeline does the first thing that comes to mind and she hugs him. It doesn't seem she has any intention of letting go, either. "Anders, I am so sorry. I am so sorry I left you there."

Welp. Honestly, at this point, a hug is the last thing Anders had been expecting. Then again, with the way the past 24 hours have gone, the unexpected should be the first thing on his list. It takes him a minute to get his bearings, but he will absolutely return that hug, soaking up the comfort of someone who can understand all of this most recent level of hell. "Not like you had much of a choice. We all had our orders, right?" There's a little bit of bitterness in his voice, but it's definitely more for his own inaction than anything she'd done.

Adeline had never wanted the obligation to her birth family. The obligation to the family she had chosen, however, is another thing entirely, and Anders was part of that family. Eventually, however, she does let him go. With an almost motherly affection, she brushes a stray bit of hair away from his face as she pulls back, patting his shoulder gently, and then letting her arms fall. "I should have punched her in her stupid, vile nose when I had the chance."

Anders pretends to chafe at Adeline's mothering - he always does - but this time even the act isn't so great; the process brings visible comfort. The idea of her punching Sidona in the face, however, is even better. It's enough to pull a barked laugh from him and it's genuine mirth, though it doesn't last very long. All too soon he's far too serious for his age again and worrying at his bottom lip as he finishes up the things he had to say. "I don't know if she'll have reported me to the Templars yet or not. She always threatened, but it's hard to say." With that woman anything was possible. Cruel little elf. "I need to lay low for now, but I wanted to find you, to… tell you." He sighs. "You deserved to know and I want you to be able to find me in case… if you run into any trouble." Sidona always said Healers made the worst Wardens, but there weren't many injuries or ailments Anders couldn't fix.

"Report you to the Templars, why?" Adeline says, confused, brow knitting in concern. "You're a Warden, what in the hell do they think they can do about it?" Wardens had the highest claim, Circle be damned.

"There was a group of them in Amaranthine proper - a trap set up to… The day Sidona got my phylactery?" Now Anders is trying to remember properly. "Had you left already?"

"Apparently, yes." Adeline says. That or she was in the process of leaving and never got this memo. Or she was off doing something else and they'd never had the opportunity to talk about it. She's practically hissing. "Well… Commander Spider Bitch is only the Commander of the Grey in Ferelden, this is the Free Marches, and if Templars want to come give you shit, they're going to have to go through me."

The offer touches Anders, the emotion showing plain as day across his face, but even so he shakes his head. "Adie, I can't ask you to do that. I'm not even in any shape to be a proper Warden. It took me two weeks in the Deep Roads to shake the Templars after an incident in Ostwick. I almost didn't make it. I just need to find somewhere quiet. Darktown maybe, with the refugees. Heal for a bit. I'm so tired of death."

"You have leave to spend time in Darktown." Adeline says then, "Do what you need to. You're no use to us if you break yourself." Then, however, she levels him with a very serious stare. "But if Templars come looking for you, Anders, and you need somewhere to run, run to me. I'll put an arrow through the visor of each in turn until someone gets the hint that they don't lay a hand on one of mine. We keep our own."

Anders heaves a dramatic sigh and intones a very familiar, "Yes, Mum," but it's impossible to hide the relief and little-brother affection that come from Adeline's over-protectiveness. But it fades to seriousness much quicker than it used to - much quicker than it should. "That goes two ways, Adie. You guys get roughed up or something, I'll make sure you know where to find me." Because yeah, okay, it was fucked up beyond all reason, but it was still his family.

Fucked up beyond all reason is sort of their theme, really. What would the Wardens be without their blue and grey, their Darkspawn fighting, and their shroud thicker than armor of deep, existential angst and dysfunction? It's just part of who they are. She nods, offering him a smile. "Thank you, Anders, I'll be sure we turn up with we need you." She says, and then bends to take up her bow again. "But, you should know… The Warden Commander, he took men into the Deep Roads weeks ago. They've not come back, and people haven't been able to reach him. Any of them."

Anders doesn't even try to stop the groan that comes with that information, hands scrubbing over his face because OF COURSE he couldn't come to a nice, quiet city where nothing exciting ever happened and he could plant a garden and keep cats. No, he inevitably shows up in the places where all hell is breaking loose. "I'll keep an ear out," he says finally. "You know how people love to gossip to their Healers." He rolls his eyes, referencing old jokes and remembering old friends. "Oh, and let me know, please, if you hear about any new slavers coming through - especially from the north." He seems to realize how random the request is only after it's left his mouth and his cheeks go a fetching shade of pink. "I've got this friend… anyway, they're nasty bastards and I'd appreciate a head's up if I've got to knock some extra heads in." Yeah. Smooth, Anders. Real smooth.

Adeline nods. "Thanks." Calmed some, she unstrings her bow, places back behind her. There's a small smile. People loved to gossip to their Healers, indeed. Plenty of memories there. His request, though, she cants her head to, looking at him curiously. That blush, though, it cracks a smile across her face. "Friend, huh?" She says, a teasing tone taking over, edging toward him and nudging her elbow into his rib.

Anders watches her go through the familiar motions to pack her bow once more on her back, oddly soothed by the fact that this simple thing hasn't changed even when it felt like the rest of the world's gone a bit mad. Uh oh, that smile cracking means trouble and he knows it. The elbow to his ribs he takes mostly gracefully, but it's his cue to start scrambling for his exit. "Ah, haha, would you look at the time? I've just remembered I've got… elfroot! Er, drying and I need to… turn it! Yes, must turn it over at precise times to ensure even sun-bakery." Or something.

"Oooooh, no you don't." Adeline says, throwing her arm around his shoulders to hold him there. "What's…" She looks him over for a moment, inspecting eyes narrowing, "His… Yes, I think… His name?" She says, smirking. Seems it doesn't matter to her one single bit that his new 'friend' has some reason to be running from slavers.

Aww rats. The arm around the shoulders is so much harder to escape! "What makes you think he's a 'his'?" Damn his need to understand things, she almost had him! "No, wait, nevermind. I really don't want to know." And through a complicated little bendy-twist thing (that he could not have pulled off if he'd not gotten a bit of sleep today after all) he manages to slip the hold and jump back out of range. "I'll tell you the story over drinks one night, I promise. Just not… now." Cause he may not have to turn elfroot, but there is still a fair amount of work to be done before the day is out - and he's not entirely ready to talk about any of it yet.

"You damn well better, Warden." Adeline says, smirking. She whistles then, calling Sterling back down to her shoulder with a flutter of wings. "You know where to find me."

Any additional notes fall to the bottom.