It was supposed to be a soiree, celebrating his ascension to the Magisterium. Three whole days as a Magister had passed, rather uneventfully. Paperwork, mostly. Memorizing the names and faces of those who he would be surrounding himself with. Meetings, endless meetings, with topics that he found fascinating, even if the people present in those guarded rooms were anything but.
He’d never met so many people who could take so much time saying so little.
Three days he’d been a Magister, being swung about on Maevaris Tilani’s arm like a veritable rag doll. Receiving useless verbal accolades from Radonis himself for his assistance in hindering Corypheus’ plans and stopping the Qunari plot.
Sharing intelligence on suspected remaining members of the Venatori with the fledgling Lucerni party. Beginning to coalesce their ideas on reform into actionable legislation as opposed to pithy sayings they chanted at each other as though it were a competition. What would their priorities be? Education, clearly. It would be impossible to enact any sort of equitable society without access to adequate education. Trade and influence with the southern nations. Dorian could do that much; he’d managed to garner allies across the Theodosian continent during his time in the south. Abolition of the slave trade, not that they’d mention that goal outside of their heavily curtained windows and warded walls. There were rumblings in Minrathous already; revolts were becoming more frequent by the week, galvanized by the Qunari resurgence and rumors of the entity known as the Dread Wolf.
The last Archon who had suggested as much wound up eating his own entrails. Any group of Magisters who agitated for the end of the practice were quickly tried and executed for sedition. Sedition, to say that perhaps the practice of keeping people in chains was outdated and cruel. Sedition, to say that the majority of the population of Tevinter should have the same rights as the magically gifted. Sedition, to say that the use of blood to subject others to one’s will was barbaric.
Because Tevinter had always prided itself on maintaining the status quo, by following the example of people who had died off thousands of years prior. Clinging to the past as though it could bring them into the future.
Dangerous. Their work was going to be dangerous. And he and Maevaris had every intention of taking the fall, should things go terribly, horribly wrong. Protecting the young idealists of their fledgling party as much as they could. Orders written in their hands. Messages encoded in their ciphers. Stamped with their seals. Hoping that the squawking of their little birds wouldn’t alert their enemies to their plans before they were ready.
Dangerous. Risky. With a larger chance of failure than of success.
But, what was life without risk?
Those had been Dorian’s thoughts leading up to the party held at Magister Allendi’s villa. Three days a Magister. Technically, two and some change, as it wasn’t even midnight of the third day.
And somehow, he and Maevaris had found themselves sitting in Allendi’s dungeon, hands shackled in magical suppression cuffs, backs pressed together, water dripping from the ceiling onto their expensive silks.
He groaned, struggling against the cold iron of his shackles. “This is not how you described this evening as going, Maevaris dear. What was it you said? ‘Dazzle them until they’re rendered sightless’?”
“I believe I used the word ‘sparkle’ somewhere in there,” Maevaris rolled her shoulders, nudging him with the back of her head, blonde curls tickling his cheek. “I knew I should’ve sprung for the mother-of-pearl. They wouldn’t have known what hit them with all that iridescence.”
A shimmering blue gown, tightly corseted, feathers cascading from her shoulders in a waterfall. A tight, caped suit the color of crushed mulberries, embroidered with serpents in cloth-of-silver. They had made quite the pair, dazzling, sparkling, blinding in their radiance as they swept through the hall of Magisters and Alti. It had all gone according to plan until Damien Lamponius started drinking.
Before they knew it, the great fool of a man in his velvet doublet was foaming at the mouth about the indecency of the pair of them, the dishonor they brought to the houses of Tilani and Pavus. And it wasn’t about their politicking, either.
Their personal relations.
Dorian had thought he’d handled it quite well, until the sod started prattling about Thorold Tethras in front of Mae. How dare an Altus mage, of impeccable lineage, debase herself by parading about with a dwarf, of all people. A good thing Thorold had been thrown from his horse; the Maker was finally intervening on that abomination.
Dorian had been prepared to endure all manner of ill words about himself and his proclivities, but that was untenable.
He hadn’t intended to toss him over the balcony. He’d assumed the idiot would’ve had at least a partially decent barrier, some sort of wards, something . But no. And Allendi apparently didn’t take kindly to the throwing of his guests into his hedge maze. Who would’ve guessed?
“I for one am glad you didn’t,” Dorian mumbled, closing his eyes. “Just think of the state you’d be in if such a garment was subjected to the treatment we’re currently finding ourselves in? A travesty.”
Maevaris rubbed her hair against his head again and he turned as sharply as he could manage to look at her.
“What are you doing?”
“Planning our escape, dear heart,” she chuckled, repeating the move. “Ah, yes , that pin over my left ear? Mind grabbing it for me?”
“With what ?”
“Your wit and charm?” Maevaris laughed, satin bellsong in their stone prison. Dorian could almost hear her rolling her eyes. “Your teeth, if you have to. Just be a dear and pull it from my hair, would you?”
“ Maevaris , I hadn’t known you had a special place in your heart for dungeons. I’m flattered, of course, but you know I cannot indulge you in such fantasies.”
“Oh, sod off,” she huffed, “and get me that pin so I can pick the locks on our shackles.”
It took a bit of careful maneuvering, but eventually Dorian managed to slip the jewel-encrusted pin from behind her ear. He tried to toss it into her hands, but the damned thing slipped through his teeth and fell to the damp ground below them. Another few minutes of synchronized scrambling and she’d snatched it up with her beautifully manicured fingers, now covered with dirt and Maker knows what else was coating that blasted floor.
“Liberty awaits, no?” Dorian murmured cheerily, trying to hide the disgust over the state of this particular dungeon. “I’d rather not have this entire evening be a waste.”
“You’re so impatient, sweetling,” she cooed, tilting her head back to press her cheek against his. “Pushing men off ledges and into hedges in front of an entire cadre of people. When we could’ve waited, planned, developed a strategy, and taken out our revenge where no one would be the wiser.”
“But it was fun watching him fall,” Dorian muttered, closing his eyes. Mae had been chiding him ever since he’d returned from Skyhold. ‘Minrathous was not built in a day, dear heart’. ‘Silence can speak louder than shouting’. In the South, after Corypheus fell, he was one of the Inquisitor’s Inner Circle. Here? He was just another upstart Magister with an unusual habit of flaunting his disdain for custom.
“Little dove, I’m afraid you’ve been playing in the South too long. We cannot simply electrocute our enemies here. We must be cautious. Considered. Measured in everything we do. Sometimes silence-”
Dorian groaned, bowing his head towards his thighs. Mae yelped as she was pulled tight against his back.
“Take a bit of care! It’s a bit of a tricky make, these lovely little bracelets.” Maevaris chimed, “One wrong movement while I’m fiddling with them and poof ! Whole house goes up into smoke and us with them.”
A soft click and their wrists were free. He massaged the ring where the cuffs had dug into his skin while Maevaris repeated the maneuver with the chains around their ankles, before slipping the pin back into her hair.
“There we are,” she beamed, her eyes shimmering pools of sapphire in the torchlight. “Let’s get that list of names from Allendi’s desk while they think we’re locked safely away, shall we?”
“Terrible security system,” Dorian concurred. “They really should do something about that.”
“Perhaps next time it’ll be a bit more of a challenge.” Maevaris did what she could to dust herself off, squeezed his fingers lightly, and stepped through the fabric of reality, tugging him along the edge of the Fade until they emerged in a silent, well-appointed chamber.
He wove a ward of silencing, casting them in an illusion in case anyone was watching the windows, while she rifled through the Magister’s desk. Feeling along the false bottom, she laughed, tapping a ream of paper and several thick scrolls against the floor, copies of each falling into her outstretched hand. “More than I expected. A lovely haul.”
She slipped the rolled scrolls into an enchanted pocket and the cylinders disappeared, whisked off to their colleagues in the Lucerni.
“I suppose we best meander back to that delightful holding chamber, then?” Dorian sighed, rubbing his brow.
“Yes. I’m sure we’ll be released once the festivities end. Until then, perhaps I’ll give you the report on that Southern defense bill…”
Dorian shook his head, sighing, as the Magister pulled him back down to the castle’s basement and locked them both in their shackles once again.