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[A letter found in Varric Tethras's desk at Skyhold.]

Varric,
It's been a long time since I told a story. And there's not many people left I would want to tell one to. I have some journals written by people I knew during the Fifth Blight. They serve me no purpose, yet I kept them for too long. Do what you want with them. Read them, ignore them, burn them, use them for one of your books. It doesn't have a happy ending. Maybe you can give it one.
- Leliana

...

[From the diary of Grey Warden Alistair of Ferelden.]

Day 47:

So, I forgot to update this, but while we were on our way down to Redcliffe, we were ambushed by an assassin. Loghain actually sent a Crow from Antiva after us. The good news is that the Crows really aren't as formidable as rumor would have you believe. The Crow went down as fast as any other elf. The bad news is that now the assassin is now part of our group.

What was Amell thinking? I thought she was supposed to be the smart one. That elf tried to kill us. I beat him half to death, and he has a change of heart and wants to join us now? That's insane and bringing him along is insane. How desperate do we have to be to recruit the assassin that tried to kill us? He was flirting with Amell while lying in a pool of his own blood, for the love of Andraste. Worse, Amell gave him cooking duty today. He is currently making a rabbit stew and humming to himself.

Well, just because I have to accept him in the group doesn't mean I have to like him. I won't eat his food, no matter how good it smells. It probably has eighteen different kinds of poisons in it, anyways. That's what's making it smell so good, I bet. Delicious smelling poisons. It's a trap. A delicious-smelling trap.

[There are water stains on the page that may or may not have had salivary origins. The ink on "delicious" and "trap" is smudged.]

Day 47 Update:

I am going to die tonight, once the poison takes effect. Please scatter my ashes at Ostagar.

Day 48:

Turns out either I am immune to poison or the stew wasn't poisoned. Not sure which. I still have no idea what the assassin did to the stew, though. It was better than any camp food I ever made. Maybe it was the salt. I can't recall ever having used that before.

...

[A letter found in Varric Tethras's desk at Skyhold.]

Nightingale,
I know who these people are. But I had recently remarked to Dorian that I wanted to write a good romance—better than my last attempt. (You're listening in on my conversations, aren't you?) So, hypothetically speaking, if I decided to write something based off these things you gave me, how should I go about this? One of them has an army at his disposal, and the other is an assassin. It might be bad for my health to do anything with this….
- Varric

V.,
Change the names.
- L.

...

[An excerpt from "The Griffon and the Crow" Chapter One.]

Zeandre frowned, his hand still outstretched. "Is something troubling you, my friend? You do like food, yes?"

Alaric studied the piece of cheese Zeandre offered him. "I like food just fine. But I'm on a strict diet. Nothing poisoned by Antivan assassins. I'm trying to watch my girlish figure."

"Nothing girlish about your figure, my friend. Not with those marvelous shoulders." Zeandre took a bite of the cheese. "Still don't trust me, mm?"

"I know it sounds odd, but I tend not to trust people who tried to kill me only a week ago. I'm just a paranoid sort of fellow, I suppose."

Zeandre laughed, loudly and heartily, his slim shoulders shaking and his golden hair shimmering under the firelight of the camp. Nothing seemed to faze him. He wasn't like most of the elves Alaric knew. Which admittedly wasn't many, but Alaric had seen elves. Most darted around, hunched their shoulders, tucked in all their knees and elbows, as if trying to hide themselves in plain sight. They were quick to serve and then to disappear. They kept themselves apart from Alaric, eyeing him warily, as if they expected him to rip their arms out of their sockets at any moment. But not Zeandre. He stood with his shoulders back, elbows thrust out to either side of him, his smirk too wide for his narrow face. He spoke loudly and regarded Alaric with the same sort of expression Alaric had seen on nobles trying to determine which bolt of Orlesian silk to buy.

"It is certainly the safer and perhaps even the wiser path to avoid food offered by assassins," Zeandre said, taking another bite of cheese, "but without risk, you never get to enjoy dining upon cheese."

Alaric scowled. "Where did you even get the gold for that?"

"Oh, I have my ways of acquiring the things I need."

"So you stole it."

"Again with the slander and lies!" Zeandre leaned down and studied Alaric. He had a sharp, pointed face, like most elves, but with broader features than Fereldan elves. They were pleasantly arranged, but what really distracted Alaric was that long blond hair. Elven hair always seemed a richer color than anything a human had, and it caught the light rather nicely. It was all a bit too much. It took Alaric a moment to realize Zeandre was still speaking.

"Would it bother you if I had stolen it?" Zeandre asked.

"Depends on who you stole it from, I suppose." Alaric leaned away, keeping his gaze trained on Zeandre.

Zeandre also leaned away, though his gaze seemed to grow even more intense. "What an astoundingly friendly man you are. Do you always exude such warmth to your companions?"

"Rest assured that out of all the people who've tried to assassinate me, you're the one I'm friendliest towards."

Zeandre laughed again. "A funny Fereldan! Will wonders never cease? I'm sure you must charm everyone around you into a swoon."

"Yes, that's me. A charmer. Can't beat the ladies off with a stick."

"I see. And that's what you fancy, then? Ladies? Tall, pretty human women with wide hips and long legs, I expect?"

"Well, they don't have to be tall."

"Human women generally seem tall to me, so perhaps I'm not the best judge." Zeandre lowered his gaze. "I imagine a man your size finds them small, no?"

"Well, elf women are smaller. And dwarf women even smaller."

"And you like those, too?"

"Why not? A woman's a woman, I suppose."

"Oh, they all work a little differently, I believe."

"I… suppose." Alaric frowned. He wasn't entirely sure how women worked. He had a vague enough idea of it, but he realized if this conversation went any further, he would desperately be out of his depth. He glanced about for Amelia, hoping for a rescue, but she was currently speaking with Leah. They kept touching hands a lot. Alaric found that almost as distracting as Zeandre's hair.

Zeandre sighed. "Ah, well. I suppose that answers that, as they say." He finished the cheese and walked away.

Alaric blinked, watching Zeandre saunter off, not entirely sure what had answered what at all.

[A series of notes found in Varric Tethras's desk.]

Varric,
The romance is acceptable thus far, though I'm pretty sure you're going to need to change more historical and geographical markers. Anyone with two brain cells will know this is about the Hero of Ferelden's companions during the Fifth Blight. One question, though: What's with all the cheese?
- Dorian

Sparkler,
I'll change the setting when I get to the first draft. As for the cheese, well, my source material mentioned it once, and I decided to run with it and make it a thing. Is it a problem?
- Varric

Varric,
Not exactly, though I do wonder for our poor muddled Alaric's digestive health. Have him eat some vegetable stew later on or something. It will make me worry less for Ferelden's current monarch.
- Dorian

...

[A letter to a publisher in Kirkwall.]

I don't think it's for a niche audience. It's a period drama and a romance. And I'm not making the elf a woman. He's a man. They're both men. If you don't like it, I'll find another publisher to send a query letter to.
- Varric Tethras

[At the bottom is a drawing of a butt and the words "EAT MY ENTIRE ASS" scrawled under it in a childish hand. Beneath that, written with excessive flourishing: "Art by Sera. Sentiment co-signed by Dorian Pavus."]

...

[Reconstructed excerpt from a tattered, burned journal.]

Having apparently realized that one Warden is more interested in Leliana than him, the elf has moved on to the other. Alistair even accepted the cheese the elf personally stole for him. He truly is dumber than the dog. At least the dog sniffs the food before eating it.

Why must everything in my life be so difficult?

...

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