Chapter 6

There was only so long that Fenlin could last fully dressed in a smelly tunic and leggings. Plus there were burrs everywhere and they kept sticking to her fingers as she tried to pluck them out. Meanwhile, in the bath, the two men where chatting about how nice the water felt on aching muscles.

“We’ve been riding and camping out for a week,” the elf -Hanin- was saying. “I think last night every rock in the camp snuck under my bedroll.”

Finally, Fenlin had enough, and she stood, carefully peeling off the tunic. It tugged at the oozing bandage on her side, and Fen winced as she carefully peeled it free. Grimacing, she twisted to look down at it, and realised that the men had stopped talking. It wasn’t as though she were naked, the linen brassiere covered her, but that didn’t stop her from //feeling// naked when she found the men staring at her.

“Shit, Fen, let me clean that out again,” Rahlen was saying, levering himself up against the edge of the pool to stand. The water brushed the bones of his hips, and Fen caught herself looking at the way the water lapped at the ‘v’ of muscle- she blinked, and clapped a hand to her eyes, shielding them.

“Fade’s spit, what happened to you two?” Hanin asked. “Aside from the fact she’s redder than a chantry candle.”

Scowling through her fingers at Hanin, Fen forgot for a moment that she couldn’t speak, and tried to snap at him to shut up, but no sound came out. Rahlen reached out to pluck a burr from her hair before she had a chance to argue.

“My ship wrecked when the Qun attacked it,” Rahlen said quietly. “Fen here pulled me out of the water, but…” she watched him frown, looking at the bandage. “But I was half dead, and lost a lot of blood. I panicked and hurt her.”

Rahlen looked so guilty and now she felt bad. She patted his shoulder awkwardly. It wasn’t really his fault, she tried to tell him. She didn’t get the chance. Scooping her up under her arms and catching her behind the knee, Rahlen pulled her into the bath, standing her up to keep the slash dry.

“And,” he said added with a laugh, batting away her hands as she tried to free herself. “She’s very stubborn about accepting help.”

Fen glared at him. Now her only clothes were soaked and- and-… the water did feel nice. She watched as Rahlen put his hands around the slash and cast a small barrier around it to keep the water from seeping in. Or the blood seeping out, too, she supposed.

“That’s so exciting!” Hanin said, eyes shining. “What was it like? Was it a dreadnought? I’ve heard that they don’t rely on wind or currents to sail, and that-”

“They’re made from metal,” Rahlen said, and he gently but firmly guided Fen to sit by him on the ledge of stone that ran along the tub’s circumference.

“Why don’t you talk?” Hanin asked, cocking his head at her. Fen sighed and rolled her eyes. Long story. Not interested in telling it. At least Rahlen took his cue from her and she heard the swish of him shrugging in the water.

“She was like that when I woke up. She can’t talk for some reason.”

“So,” Hanin said, wiggling his eyebrows. “You’re not struck dumb by my handsome physique?” He flexed, and Fenling rolled her eyes. No. Okay maybe. Shut up. How did men who looked like this even exist in the world, let alone two of them in a bath together?

“Hm, by that logic she’d have been struck dumb by my handsome physique,” Rahlen said with a smirk. “Sorry friend.”

Fen buried her face into her hands, and srubbed at it with water, trying to ignore the smug expressions on the two princely faces. Jerks. Both of them.

“So what’s the Inquisitor’s son doing out in Highever?” Rahlen asked, and Fen said a silent prayer of thanks to Mythal that he’d changed the topic. “I thought you mostly stayed in Skyhold and oversaw things?”

Hanin frowned, leaning back and resting his arms to either side of himself along the tub’s rim.

“I do, but they can get along well enough without me for a while. Besides, even the sons of heroes need vacations sometimes, right?” He asked, lips tugging up into a lopsided smile. “I mean sure you almost died in a shipwreck, but you’re here now and spending time with a beautiful elf.” He paused. “I meant me, but if you cleaned Fenlin up a bit she could be kind of cute too.”

“I don’t know, there’s something about the wild look that works on her,” Rahlen said with a laugh, reaching out to pull another bit of plant matter from her hair.

“Dalish, right?” Hanin asked, looking at her now. More… appraisingly. Fenlin wasn’t sure she liked it to be honest. She debated arguing that no, she wasn’t technically dalish, but he kept going. “I used to dream about being dalish when I was younger. Just able to pick up and go wherever I wanted to, when I wanted to-”

That… wasn’t how life worked as an elf, Fenlin thought. She remembered the hungry days when hunting had been bad, or when they hid with baited breath as a hunting party of Fen’harel’s elves came too close to camp. The only place Fen’harel’s elves step foot in was Mythal’s old temple. But that was no way to live, cloistered in damp and dark halls of a dead goddess.

“You know, this sounds an awful lot like some of those fiction serials Orlais is so fond of,” Hanin said, moving closer to Fen and Rahlen. “Just think. A dashing prince saved by a silent elf. Then of all their luck, they run into the Inquisitor’s son himself, in a bath house and aren’t able to control themselves.” He winked, and Fenlin wasn’t sure if it was at her, or at Rahlen.

“I don’t know,” Rahlen said with a laugh. “That sounds like an interesting book, I wonder who’d write it. You?”

Fen looked at the steaming water surface, and debated if she’d be able to turn it into a block of ice without a staff. While she might be able to freeze a block around Hanin, the lack of a focus meant the spell might backfire. But at the same time she was thinking of lips and sleek muscles and hot finger tips burning tattoos onto her skin-

She bit her lip, certain she was now officially redder than a chantry candle, and glanced up at Rahlen.

A thunderous crack and shouting broke whatever daydream Fenlin had started to slip into, and she leapt out of the water, splashing and dripping as she scrambled to the door of the bathhouse. She could hear Rahlen try to stand and the splash as he fell back, swearing.

The sounds of fighting were more important right now, and she cast around for anything she could use. She spotted a hilt poking out from the crumpled pile of Hanin’s pants, and leapt for it just in time for the door to burst open.

“I would set that down if I were you,” a tanned man said, walking in. With a gesture of the staff in his hand, he cast Fenlin in frost, immobilizing her. Shivering in the block, clothing now frozen to her skin, Fen watched as the Tevinter man eyed Rahlen and Hanin in the bath.

“Take all of them. The elves will catch a fair price, and the human a good one.” Slavers, heavily armed, marched in behind him. Most went towards the two men, but one walked up to Fenlin and smashed a heavy fist into her jaw.

Then things went very blurry and very dark.