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Ruffles and Lace

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Correspondence between Lieutenant Harding of the Inquisition and Lady Montilyet, Ambassador to the Inquisition, as documented (meticulously, and with much amusement) by Nightingale.

 

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From: Lieutenant Harding
Sent from White Hill, Fereldan

 

Dear Ambassador Montilyet,

Nightingale told me to go through you on this one; I know nothing about how to handle nobility and it's hard to do my job properly when half the land I'm supposed to scout belongs to someone. I've already tried petitioning him myself but he's either got something he wants to hide, or he's a right old git.

His name's Bann Howard and I can't distinguish him from any Ferelden nobility. Well, that's not true, but he does fit the mould. Fair hair, pale, owns a lot of big dogs. The dogs are another reason I'm going through you rather than ... circumnavigating him. Most of those dogs stand taller than I do.

Anyway I'm sure you know who he is, since you seem to know everyone, and I'd appreciate it if you could use your connections to help us. We need clear passage to the cave where the darkspawn were sighted and access to the nearby village.

I await your good news, and I hope this letter wasn't too long. Nightingale always says my letters are too long.

Sincerely,
Scout Harding

P.S. Your hairstyle is lovely.

 

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From: Ambassador Josephine Montilyet
Sent from Skyhold

 

Dear Lieutenant Harding,

It is done. Bann Howard has agreed to allow the Inquisition access to the cave and the village. He has recommended freeholders Farris and Ellan as contacts, should you require anything of the villagers during your stay in the Bann's lands. He communicated to me that his reluctance to give you leave to scout was out of fear that the 'darkspawn rumours' would cause panic amongst his people. However I would be cautious. While he seems a decent enough man, we have only spoken through letters, and I cannot be sure if he is hiding anything more. Our lady Nightingale seems to believe that it is safe to proceed, however.

As for your other worry, I must admit that I too tend to be somewhat verbose when writing, so pay it no mind! Our Lady Nightingale says much the same about me. Reading your note made me smile, and from what I have heard of you from Nightingale, I have every confidence that you can take on every one of Bann Howard's mabari.

But do take care with the darkspawn.

Kind regards,
Josephine Montiliyet

P.S. Thank you for the compliment. You shall have to teach me how you have braided your hair sometime; I noticed it was remarkably similar to a hairstyle commonly worn by Empress Celene! Perhaps if you give up your life as a scout, you could pursue the path of a beautician?

 

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From: Lieutenant Harding
Sent from the Exalted Plains

 

Dear Lady Montilyet,

Never fear, the 'darkspawn threat' turned out to be a cover for a group of bandits operating out of the cave. They'd painted one of their men up all black and white and had him use darkspawn arrows to ward off any villagers or knights who ventured too close. Luckily, once he was taken care of, their cover was blown all too quickly.

Thanks again for your help, especially since I'm sure you have enough on your plate. I heard about the assassin's guild. Nightingale told us to be on extra sharp look out for anyone trying to find a way to get to you. It kind of makes me wish I were back at Skyhold more often, since I can't do much to help from here except keep an ear out. If there's anything more direct that I can do to help, let me know.

I’m in the Exalted Plains at the moment, we headed over here as soon as we were done in the Hinterlands. I’m sure you’ll hear from the Inquisitor or Nightingale about our exploits here. It’s mostly undead and Orlesians, neither of which I’m entirely comfortable with, but I’ll survive. Just got to remember which ones are weak to fire and which ones are weak to Ferelden dirt.

Aside from that it’s beautiful. Have you ever been out here? Lovely sweeping, dry plains and sparkling rivers. I’ve enjoyed taking the extra time to get to know the place, even though I don’t know its ins-and-outs the way I would in the Hinterlands.

Anyway, I’ll try and swing by to see you next time I’m at Skyhold.

Take care,
Harding

P.S. No beautician’s life for me, I’m afraid. Crawling through mud and dirt to get to hard to reach places is my calling.

 

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From: Josephine Montilyet
Sent from Skyhold

 

Dear Lieutenant Harding,

You must tell me your first name, so I can address you properly in these letters. Unless you would prefer I did not, of course. But ‘Lieutenant Harding’ is starting to sound so overly formal, and Leliana only teases me about it when I ask her. How infuriating she can be sometimes. Trying to get a straight answer from her is like looking for patterns in smoke.

I thank you for your concern, and although there has been one attempt on my life so far, I believe the efforts of the Inquisitor and myself to reinstate the noble house that commissioned the assassination will bear fruit. Until then, the Inquisitor and Nightingale have me under vigilant protection. It is both comforting and a little restrictive.

I have been to the Exalted Plains, yes, and I agree with you that they are beautiful. I find Orlesians quite tolerable, and when I visited there were fewer walking corpses. Lucky me! If this letter reaches you in time, be sure to take some time off by the river for me. One day I will be free to travel all over the world as I please; I envy you your job, though I would undoubtedly be terrible at it.

You mentioned lending me your help, if you could. I admit I do have something that I would ask of you, if you get the chance. My younger sister, Yvette, is in Val Royeaux attending a salon. Despite claims from the House of Repose that the assassins are targeting only myself, I am worried for her. She has guards aplenty, and is obstinate enough that she will not leave Val Royeaux simply on my suggestion. If you would check in on her, the next time you are there, I would be greatly indebted to you. Hopefully she does not talk your ear off about me while you are there. Take everything she says with a grain of salt.

Kind regards,
Josephine.

P.S. I think your calling suits you, dirt and all. But what about dance lessons? Or is the note in the Skyhold tavern merely a jest?

 

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From: Lieutenant Harding
Sent from Val Royeaux

 

Dear Josephine,

I’m happy to let you know that your sister is safe and sound. With a little help from Nightingale, I managed to convince her to return to your estate in the Free Marches for the time being. Hopefully you can get this assassin thing sorted out before then. I hope I’ve done the right thing in doing that; Nightingale seemed to think it was okay.

As for the things Yvette told me about you, most of them are too adorable and fanciful for me to take entirely seriously. Dolls? Skinning your knees stealing apples? That’s my kind of thing, not the work of the Ambassador of the Inquisition. Well, not the dolls, but ... anyway.

You asked about my name. It’s not, well, something I commonly share. It’s embarrassing. But since I’ve heard more than my share of embarrassing tales from your sister, perhaps it’s fair to share. My name is Lace.

And if you don’t mind that I move my post-scripts into the main body of our letters, yeah, about the dancing. I really was planning to do it, but we’ve been really busy. Honest. Perhaps I’ll get ‘round to it next time I’m at Skyhold. You should help me out, if you get a chance.

Hope you’re well, and don’t work too hard.
Lace Harding

P.S. Hearing you call Nightingale ‘Leliana’ is like hearing people call the King ‘Alistair’. Very unsettling.

 

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From: Josephine Montilyet
Sent from Skyhold

 

Dear Lace,

Lace! I think it’s a beautiful name, and it suits you well. I hope that embarrasses you enough, because if I ever hear of you spreading around what Yvette told you I will find a much more devious and lasting way to enact my revenge. I have my ways.

I make light of it, but your help with Yvette is deeply appreciated. I think you made the right decision in convincing her to leave Orlais, and I suppose her spreading a few less-than-flattering tales about me is worth the knowledge that she and the rest of my family are safe. As for the House of Repose, that is all finally settled! I will not pretend that it is not a relief, but I had faith that the Inquisitor and Nightingale would do their best to help.

And if you’re asking me to dance with you when you return to Skyhold, I will gladly accept.

I wish you well with your travels until then.

Fond regards,
Josephine.

P.S. I’m entirely sure Nightingale reads these missives. Leliana, with the greatest respect, mind your own business.

 

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From: Nightingale
Left on the Ambassador’s desk at Skyhold

 

Josephine, you should know by now that everything is my business.
L.

 

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From: Lieutenant Harding
Left on the Ambassador’s desk at Skyhold

 

Dear Josephine,

I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to deliver a message that will not go through Nightingale first, but because I’m too shy to say it in person:

Thanks for the dance, and thanks for the flowers.

Very glad to be home.
Lace Harding