Sex: discussed, prostitution mentioned
Part 2 of 3.
Zevran must be really desperate by now…!
“Let’s go,” Bannon said brusquely to his guards as he left Brother Genitivi’s house. He didn’t bother to wait, but headed down Cooper Street, away from the market. Zevran lagged behind and started chatting up the oblivious qunari.
Morrigan caught up with Bannon. “You reek of blood,” she murmured out of the side of her mouth.
He glanced down, but no, he’d wiped his leathers clean. He shot her a look. “So?” He couldn’t believe the witch would be bothered in the slightest.
She shrugged her feather-decked shoulder. “I wasn’t aware you could be so callous. I’m impressed.”
Bannon snorted, unsure what she meant. Maker, she wasn’t attracted to him?
“Did you acquire what you needed?”
“Mostly,” he hedged. “We’ll discuss it with the others.” The results had been more disappointing than he’d expected. He couldn’t help but wonder if it would have been more productive if he’d pretended to be a fellow worshipper of the Risen Andraste, and conned the information out of the human. Well, he hadn’t been in the mood to posture and lie.
“Three times?” Zevran exclaimed from behind them. “In your life? Only three?”
“Yes,” Sten replied.
“Even a Templar can do better than that! Surely you have had sex in between these matings?”
“Of course not.”
“Have you ever ‘mated’ with another man?”
“That would be pointless.”
Zevran scowled, but he persisted doggedly. “Exactly how big is your member, anyway?”
Bannon tried to move out of earshot while the Antivan clarified. Sten’s gigantic stride kept up easily, however, and Zevran trotted along.
“It is adequate for its purpose,” Sten said.
Zevran’s “Oh” sounded a bit disappointed. “Do you massage it?” he asked hopefully. “Surely your ‘tamarkans’ have taught you that it is quite healthful to massage it regularly, to keep it in good working order, no?”
“Well, my friend, this sorry state cannot continue! I fear for your welfare. Tonight, I shall massage it for you, si?”
Bannon glanced back in worry. The Antivan’s eyes shined with bright eagerness, and Sten… Sten actually seemed to be contemplating it. Maker!
“I have never heard of this massage therapy,” the qunari said slowly. “Why do I feel you are trying to trick me?”
“Me? Never! That is Bannon’s specialty.”
Morrigan snorted, and Bannon shot her an annoyed look, too.
Oblivious, the assassin ramped up his pitch. “I guarantee you will be satisfied! My technique is the finest, honed to perfection–”
“On many lonely nights,” Bannon interjected, scoring another amused snort from the witch.
“–in the finest Antivan wh– um, massage parlours.”
Sten looked doubtful.
“Look, these three times you had sex, did you not enjoy it?”
Twenty paces later, Bannon had to go back and lead the stunned Antivan down the street by the hand.
They met Alistair, Wynne, and Leliana outside the grand facade of Denerim’s famous shop, The Wonders of Thedas. The glazed windows displayed various artifacts, statues, odd creatures stuffed and mounted on display, and something that looked like a small dragon skull, rendered in ebony.
“Do you know what they have in there?” Alistair exclaimed to Bannon. “It’s a giant mm-mhm!” Words seemed to fail the Templar. He gestured wildly. “It-It’s as big as I am!”
“I’m sure it’s meant to be a symbolic representation of… something,” Wynne said, her cheeks going rosy.
“It is quite… artistic,” Leliana agreed.
All three of them turned to look at Zevran in the ensuing lack of innuendo. Bannon turned, as well. Yeah, the assassin was still staring dazedly. “Don’t mind him. Sten snapped his mind.”
“Oh,” Alistair said. “Actually, I think I like him better this way.”
“We need to have a conference,” Bannon said. “Did you find someplace quiet?”
Leliana nodded and led them further into the warren of city streets. Bannon wasn’t an expert with the human part of Denerim, but this didn’t look like the fancy estates he’d imagined, nor the open, well-patrolled area in and around the marketplace. Well, if one wanted to avoid official notice, a rundown, seedy backstreet tavern ought to do nicely.
The sign over the door was painted with a wild-eyed, curly-tusked boar, blowing steam… or spittle; it was unclear which. “Welcome to the Hog’s Head Tavern,” Leliana said. “Um, or the Boar’s Breath. It’s hard to say.”
“Charming,” Morrigan opined. Alistair said nothing, so perhaps he agreed with the witch for once. Actually, Bannon had been thinking the same thing.
But he said, “This is good, no one will want to cause trouble and attract attention.”
They commandeered a large table in the back. “Did you find out anything?” Alistair asked.
Bannon nodded. “These people seem to believe that Andraste has risen again, in their town. For some reason, they need Genitivi to help them retrieve the Sacred Ashes. Some kind of awakening ceremony?” That hadn’t made any sense. He looked at Leliana to see if it meant anything to her, but she looked just as puzzled.
“I can’t imagine anyone who is truly devout wanting to hide our Sacred Lady from the world.” She shook her head.
“But they need Brother Genitivi alive, so they’re not going to kill him, right?” asked Alistair.
“And it means the Sacred Ashes are in this town, or somewhere nearby,” Bannon added. “Or so they believe. It’s called Haven. You ever heard of it?”
Alistair pursed his lips in thought and shook his head. Bannon looked to Leliana. “It’s somewhere in the Frostback Mountains,” he supplied. “That’s all we got.”
She shook her head as well. “It is not any town near Orzammar that I know of. Perhaps it is further south.”
“Great, so we don’t know where we’re going.” He blew out a frustrated breath.
“I suggest Redcliffe,” she said. “We can check on Arl Eamon, and see if they have any maps of the mountain villages.”
Alistair grimaced, but Bannon thought it a sound move. “All right. We can go along the south road, stop off at the Brecilian Forest on the way. We can bring the Grey Warden treaty to the Dalish.”
“Isn’t the south road still too dangerous?” Wynne asked.
Alistair said, “We should go on the north road again, and stop at Soldier’s Peak.”
Bannon grumbled. “How many times do we have to walk back and forth across the whole kingdom?”
“Well, it’s a good thing Levi has wagons,” the Templar pointed out.
“All right,” the elf conceded. “We’ll do that. Did you find anything out on your end?”
Alistair shook his head. Leliana said, “The archivist at the Chantry has been following Brother Genitivi’s work, but he hasn’t sent an update since before Ostagar.”
“The Alienage is still under quarantine,” Alistair said. “Sorry.” Bannon tried not to think about that.
Then Leliana unrolled a page of foolscap. “We did find this posted,” she said. “What do you make of it?” She turned the paper so Bannon, Zevran, and Morrigan could read it.
Pay no heed to the rumors — Don’t believe the lies
— Friends of the Grey assemble —
The hidden pearl holds the key to our salvation!
Bannon looked to Zevran. Zevran looked back. They turned to Leliana and said simultaneously: “A trap.”
“But shouldn’t we investigate?” Alistair said. “What if we really do have allies?”
Wynne added, “And if it is a trap, your allies will be caught in it.”
“We should do something,” Alistair insisted.
“How are you even going to find these fools?” Morrigan asked.
Bannon scratched his chin. “The Grey Pearl is a huge brothel down in the middle district.”
“You go there often?” Zevran said, his voice perking up with the mere mention of a whorehouse.
“My friend’s sister works there,” the Denerim elf explained. “I never pay.”
“You don’t pay?” Zevran asked, aghast.
“I don’t have to pay,” Bannon assured him cockily.
Zevran scoffed. “Pah. You don’t pay, you only get amateur service.”
Alistair cut in. “We’re not going there for that.”
“If there are any elves living outside the Alienage,” Bannon mused, “they would likely be there. Maybe we can find out something about what’s going on with the quarantine.”
“You’re not seriously thinking of going there?” Wynne said.
“Yes. Didn’t you just say we should look into it?”
“But a brothel? Why would Warden supporters hide in a brothel?”
“Yes,” Zevran put in, “you and Alistair were both quite eager to investigate!”
Bannon elbowed him. Now was not the time for him to catch up with all those innuendoes he’d missed previously. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
“Well, I’m not going,” Morrigan said. “No matter what the reason.”
“All right,” Bannon said. “Head out to the Crossroads Inn with Levi and Bodahn. If we’re not there by tomorrow morning, well….” He shrugged.
“Rescue you?” Morrigan asked skeptically.
Zevran snorted. “If I am stuck in a brothel for a whole night, do not rescue me!”
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