Chapter 1: Friends and odds and secret ends
hey new readers and the ones (hopefully) transferred from the fic’s older version <3
This doesn’t affect anything but I’m just gonna note here that this is partly a rewrite of my first fic ever. I love the idea but hated how I wrote it the first time around, so I decided to rewrite everything I had written so far and posted it as a whole new fic before continuing the story. Hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I enjoy writing it now that I got rid of the parts that bothered me!
The tags will update as the story progresses and chapters will have heads ups in the notes if it’s something I can’t tag without spoiling the fic.
Kudos and comments are very much appreciated, if you have anything you’d like to discuss further or maybe just show me a picture of your dog, you can find me on tumblr under the same name (sending prompts to one shots is also very much welcome)!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Plaideweave. Who the fuck wears plaideweave?
Faelynn doodled on the corner of her worn notebook without looking down, as she was busy staring at the professor’s blazer trying to figure out why would anyone A. make such a terrible piece of clothing in the first place and even more bafflingly B. why the fuck would anyone buy it. There was also C. how could anyone think combining plaideweave with darkened samite was something that people did, but she never made it that far when her thoughts were interrupted with a decently painful kick on her leg.
“Was that absolutely necessary", Faelynn whispered, still not turning her head away from the yellow hideousness.
If only Dorian was here to see this.
Her question was followed by something being slipped onto her lap on top of the notebook, forcing her to finally look down to see the doodles that actually looked better than some drawings she had spent hours working on, figures, and in the middle of them, a phone with a dozen cracks on its screen, half-torn stickers sticking out from the sides. She was pretty sure she broke a rib holding in the laughter.
“You did not.”
Faelynn could hear muffled giggles next to her as she stared at the picture Sera had managed to snap of the professor, leaning against the desk as in a (very bad) modeling attempt, the blazer fighting for the attention with the samite trousers that seemed to be at least a size too small.
“Yeah, the 80’s called, they want their freaking clothes back”, Sera managed to whisper before she burst into a silent laugh again.
“Dorian will love this.”
“Way ahead of you, loser”, Sera reached for the phone and swiped the screen to reveal a conversation, the picture Sera had sent followed by 4 voice messages from ‘Sparkler’. Varric’s nicknames always seemed to stick. “I sent it out to the whole class”, she added, grinning, when the wave of notifications started to roll in on top of the screen.
“I love you, you evil-”
Faelynn looked up from the phone to meet the professor’s narrowed eyes, because of course he would pick on her even though the whole class was giggling and whispering to each other now, staring at their phones. Of course.
What the hell was his problem?
“I trust you know the answer to my question?”
Faelynn sighed. “I’m afraid I didn’t catch the question.”
“Of course you didn’t.”
The professor’s tone made Faelynn grit her teeth and she noticed that the whole room had fallen silent, curious eyes bouncing between her and the plaideweave, or the annoyed face above it. Faelynn was pretty sure they focused on the plaideweave.
Sera’s mouth was already open ready to protest, or more likely, to yell obscenities, making it Faelynn’s turn to kick a leg. Sera glared at her, but seemed to settle with flipping the professor off underneath the bench.
Faelynn just stared at the professor for a while, trying to hold in the fuck you that was dangerously close to rolling off her tongue, but then the situation resolved when the clock apparently hit 12 and the students started packing up, Faelynn and Sera quickly making their way to the door and disappearing into the hallway flooding with people heading for lunch.
“What the hell is that fucking Phenis’s problem?”, Sera exclaimed as they made their way up the stairs to their usual lunch spot on the roof of the building, through an unused maintenance entrance Sera had found a few weeks ago. It was the perfect place to relax between classes. Or to skip said classes, since they often couldn't get up from the sofa they had dragged up there from the hallway.
How to know you’re in an art school? No one gives two shits about you dragging furniture around. No one gives two shits about anything.
“You’re in for a hell of a lot trouble if you let him catch you saying that”, Faelynn warned, resulting to a right sorry MR Phenis from Sera. “But I think Pheus has made it his life-mission to ruin my academic career.”
“I bet he gets kicks out of it or something, gets himself off from telling you off, ewww”, Sera mimicked vomiting as she sat down, pulling a pack of cookies out of her patch-covered canvas bag and suddenly groaning, making Faelynn raise an eyebrow. “These have shitting freaking raisins in them!”
After an hour of throwing the raisin-infested cookies towards unsuspecting first year students - and few annoying professors - Faelynn had forced herself up, her stomach feeling sore from all the laughing. Music blasted into her ears from her headphones as she headed towards the coffee shop that was located only a couple blocks away from the campus, the perfect spot really since the students came in there all the time. Varric always seemed to have the right businesses in the right spots.
As she passed a corner store, headlines about the Chantry written in cat-sized letters screaming on her face, the music faded away for a while, indicating a message so she reached into her pocket.
hey gorgeous girl, we do have a coffee date planned at five, do we not?
we do and if you are about to cancel it I will cry and then
I’d have to kill you because you made me cry at a public place
missed my unmistakable charm and pretty face that much?
Dorian had just gotten back to Orlais from a month-long excavation in Tevinter, and the job had kept him so busy they had barely even had time to text each other, let alone call. Perhaps it was for the best though, the prices of international calls were sky-high these days. Not that Dorian had to worry about that, he was about to finish his Master’s degree in history and was already very appreciated in the field, hired quite often to work outside the country for museums, universities and researchers. As much as Faelynn always missed him when he was any farther away than a few miles, she was happy for him. Val Royeaux, or Roy as Faelynn and her friends like to call it, was too small for a person like Dorian. Hell, even Orlais was too small for him.
yes, because the only thing about you that I miss
is that you’re pleasant to look at
you’re like a trophy bff
*You changed Dorian's id*
From: trophy bff
I’ll take trophy bff but pleasant? you wound me
From: trophy bff
I can see what you change my name into, you know
*You changed trophy bff's id*
smartass trophy bff
From: smartass trophy bff
Faelynn quickly lifted her eyes from her phone, though not by much since Varric wasn’t exactly the tallest man that walked the earth. The grin on the dwarf’s face almost reached his pierced ears, the golden earrings glittering in the sunlight that at times peeked through the clouds. The top four or so buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned, as always, no matter how many times Faelynn had mentioned that it made his chest hair look like an untamed animal, trying to crawl its way out under the fabric.
She hadn’t even realized she was already at the coffee shop.
Faelynn smiled and took off the headphones. “Sorry, didn’t hear you.”
“I just asked what made you grin at your phone like that”, Varric repeated himself as they took the few steps, Varric a quite a few more than Faelynn, that were left to reach the café’s door.
“Just the usual stuff from Dorian.”
“Ah well, that makes sense. Sparkler is coming over today?”
“Yeah, around five if he manages to figure out his outfit by then.”
The coffee shop was one of the coziest Faelynn had ever been in and she loved working the occasional shift there. The warm earthy shades of brown were complemented by black, white and brass and the smell was heavenly because if someone knew where to get the best damn coffee beans in all of Thedas, it was Varric. Needless to say, the place was probably the most popular place to hang out in Roy.
“Thanks for coming in early, I just haven’t seen you in what, weeks? Shit, been really busy, opened a new store and shit.”
“When have you ever not been busy”, Faelynn marked and Varric laughed, making his way to the counter and Faelynn waved her hand at the familiar barista as she sat down at a table she managed to conquer, much to a teenage couple’s nuisance, and soon after Varric joined her with a huge cup of green tea and a black coffee.
“One coffee for you, and a tea for me”, he joked, pushing the tea towards Faelynn, who grabbed it thankfully. “So, how’s school?”
A laughter escaped Faelynn’s lips before she responded, mimicking Varric very poorly. “That’s all you got? We haven’t exchanged basically a word in weeks and the best you could come up with is this ‘how’s school kid, have you kept your grades up, blah blah’.”
“Are you this sarcastic with everyone you meet and is that why you have so few friends”, Varric shot right back at her with a smile.
“I bet I have more friends than you”, Faelynn murmured into her tea defeated, her voice just loud enough for Varric to hear, who reached out to pat her shoulder in a sarcastic manner, forcing his face into a frown.
“Anyway, I asked you here to actually talk about something.”
“Yeah?”, Faelynn raised an eyebrow.
“I know I’ve preached about this a thousand times before like a damn Chantry sister but-”
Oh dear maker.
Faelynn could see where this was going and her hand instinctively wandered to her face.
“- but I think you should finally get that vallaslin removed, I just heard about an advance in the removing technology and-”
“No”, Faelynn interrupted, still stroking the lines on her skin.
“Fae please, this whole ‘defending my heritage’ thing has been quite adorable, I’ll have to admit, but don’t you get you’re making your position here much harder than it needs to be?”, Varric pleaded.
Faelynn shook her head as a response. Varric had urged this conversation many times before and even though she hated to admit it, he was of course right. Having a vallaslin in Orlais these days wasn’t the brightest of ideas, not that it was a good idea anywhere else either.
The riots had started about a few years ago, reason behind them being the actions taken by the Chantry following the ‘election’ of the new Divine.
In the past couple of hundred years, the Chant of Light had spread to every corner on Thedas, there were more andrastians than other religions’ followers combined, and during the quite rapid expansion, the Chantry had gained more and more power, granting them a foothold in politics.
It had first started to show in little things, like being invited to the Court to express opinions about new laws, but over time the Chantry managed to make its way into the heart of politics, now completely involved, which, many argued, wasn’t a good thing because with power comes money and with money comes corruption.
Corruption that showed in the choosing of grand clerics and the right and the left hands, which wasn’t really made by vote anymore, it was now more about who sat on top of the largest amount of cash. If you got the money and knew the right people in the right places, you could even become the Divine.
Which had definitely happened in the case of Divine Victoria, who had risen to power after Divine Justinia’s death a few years ago. She was not the nicest woman, but apparently the wealthiest one, and states that the Maker is the only god people should be allowed to serve, and that the services the Chantry offers shouldn’t be free. Before this would’ve been absolutely outrageous and she wouldn’t have been let in a hundred-mile radius from the Chantry, but now she sat on the Sunburst Throne and held all the strings in her hands, including the ones that gave her the power to access politics, and even influence it.
The Chantry had always offered services such as arranging funerals, giving out food, marrying people and running different clubs for kids to join and meet new people, stuff like that, all for free for those who couldn’t afford it themselves, which had been just enough to keep the poorer class on their feet. Taking away these services would most likely mean starvation and social exclusion in those who could barely afford to put food on the table for their kids, not to mention themselves.
This, of course, led to the poor starting to riot.
But what was even more scarier, and the reason a lot more joined the riots, was that since Divine Victoria was ‘elected’ she, with the Chantry on her side, has been trying to get through a law that would make it illegal to worship any other gods than the Maker. This would have a devastating impact on the elves, but a far smaller one on the other races. Almost all of the human population were andrastians, most of the dwarves lived in Orzammar and worshipped the Stone, the surface dwarves’ outlooks being the same as humans, most of the qunari predicting the Qun lived outside of the Chantry’s reach and the Tal-vashoth were, well, non-believers.
The non-believers, one’s who thought that there is no such thing as a higher power, were a minority, but their numbers were growing in a fastening pace. Most of them were people who had higher education, especially in science.
Other races and beliefs aside, the impact that the law would have on elves, especially the dalish, would be crushing. If the law were to pass, the dalish wouldn’t be allowed to travel around Thedas in their caravans anymore, basically destroying their culture, forcing them to move into the cities so that their worshipping could be supervised. It would also mean that the universities wouldn’t be allowed to teach about elven religion or history anymore, which they of course opposed greatly, since it would mean throwing away knowledge, and so far, the Chantry seemed to be unable to pay them shut. Empress Celene had also opposed the law greatly since the beginning, but was becoming more and more powerless in front of the Chantry that was growing more corrupted each day.
The law proposal had leaked to the press a while back, and since then the people had started looking down on elves. If you were an elf, you could send out applications for dozens of jobs, but because employers could usually tell by name that someone was an elf, it was very unlikely to hear anything back, and even if you did, the only jobs elves could land were without a doubt minimal wage, sometimes even below that. And if you were dalish, you couldn’t even get those because the minute you stepped in the room to be interviewed, the employer would take one look at your vallaslin and send you away. This was the reason many dalish had recently started to undergo quite expensive procedures to get rid of the vallaslin and sometimes even changed their name if they were from a known clan, just to try and make a living. Elves had also begun to hide their pointy ears, growing their hair to cover them up, coming up with methods to attach the tips of them to the scalp, and even having plastic surgery to make them look like human ears.
Faelynn didn’t believe in neither the Maker nor the elven gods, but people often assumed the latter because of the vallaslin that circled on her cheeks. She could still remember how people had started to treat her and her clan differently when the law proposal was leaked, right before she got her vallaslin.
Her whole life, when they had stopped to a town or a city and the adults had left to buy supplies and such, she, and the clan’s other kids had played with the human children, their mothers inviting them over for dinner, giving them the leftovers to go, and sometimes even toys.
Then, suddenly, when the caravans reached a town, she noticed the mothers guiding their children inside at the sight of the red trailers, how some stores declined to sell them anything, the hurtful words being whispered behind their backs.
When the vallaslin was shining freshly on face, marking that she was now legally an adult, she had left the clan behind. It wasn’t easy, as she was the First of the clan, and she didn’t leave on exactly good terms, leaving her Keeper as well as her parents furious. But she knew she didn’t belong there. She was mad.
She wanted to change things.
And things had started to show signs of change. Small ones, but they were better than nothing.
Many, in addition to the elves and the poor, didn’t approve of the Chantry’s course of action, and started to do things for the oppressed. People with businesses who took it upon themselves to employ elves, restaurant and shop owners sharing leftover food to the poor, some of the more known people who publicly spoke against the Chantry and for equality, trying to get their voice heard but sadly not getting the attention they deserved. Especially the younger generation was furious no matter their race, and demanded equality and reforming of the Chantry with protests that often turned into riots when law enforcement, more or less bribed by the Chantry, used violence against the loud, but peaceful protesters.
The truth was that there was a great resistance growing right under the Chantry’s nose and Faelynn had a big role in it. If not the biggest.
She just couldn’t tell that to Varric. She couldn’t tell anyone.
“The vallaslin is who I am, where I come from. I won’t give away my past, my inheritance, just because the Chantry really fucking wants me to”, Faelynn responded sternly, hands now in fists on the table.
Varric smiled, though his eyes still indicated worry. “Aside from the swearing, you still sometimes sound a lot like a First. You’re a bright kid, you know. You could be something big.”
“I can be something big whether I have something on my face or not, Varric”, Faelynn marked dryly. “Anyway, did you want to see me just to remind me how the world is a fucking terrible place? We haven’t seen in weeks, you must have like a dozen cool stories up your sleeve right now”, she added with a warmer tone in her voice.
Varric seemed a bit reluctant to let the topic change from the vallaslin for a few seconds but then caved in to a big smile. “I’m afraid I would spoil the book if I told you any of them.”
A tiny scream escaped Faelynn’s lips as her mouth opened in surprise, and she reached over the table to punch Varric’s shoulder again.
“You fucking liar you told me you were done with writing you sneaky little piece of-”
Varric chuckled as he pushed Faelynn’s hand away, making her fall back to her seat. “Calm down kid, it’s not that big of a deal. Just a little something I’m working on.” Varric chugged down the rest of his coffee. “Besides, I did mean to stop writing, you know me, I’m no liar.”
Faelynn laughed at the thought of a good guy, honest Varric, and nearly choked on her tea.
After Faelynn’s coughing fit eased off, Varric opened his mouth again, standing up. “But I think it’s time for you to get that pretty little tattooed face of yours behind the counter. Try not to choke on the way.”
“Hey”, Faelynn started a little coarsely, and cleared her throat. “That’s low. And you can’t just drop a bomb like that and disappear.”
“Watch me”, Varric smiled and waved his hand as a goodbye.
That fucking dwarf , Faelynn muttered under her breath before heading to the back to change her clothes.
The clock hit five and the place crawled with students, large groups occupying the tables either to study together or just to go over the day’s gossips, some were just getting a coffee to go to try and stay awake long enough to finish their reading at home and someone had even managed to fall asleep on one of the tables over the opened books. Faelynn was positively jealous of that person’s ability to fall asleep apparently practically anywhere.
Needless to say, Faelynn was busy, but managed to chat for a while with every customer. She was well known and liked by everyone at the university, maybe because she made excellent coffee (and often gave hefty discounts for those who she liked) or maybe because she always heard the most juiciest of gossips chatting away with the customers, so students, often even professors, hanged out regularly at the counter to talk with her.
“Hey Fae, I heard that Dorian is back in town”, one gossip-hungry student asked her, giggling a bit.
“Where in the-”, Faelynn started but realized there was no point in asking. Everyone at school knew that she was his best friend, and she answered dozens of questions about him on a daily basis.
Dorian was probably, no, most definitely more known than Faelynn at the university, mainly because of his looks. Dorian was, indeed, very handsome, pulling that hipster-look off effortlessly, probably the only person left in the whole damn Orlais who was able to pull it off, especially the moustache. Pretty much all of Thedas’ model agencies had approached him, but Dorian just laughed them off, in the most polite way possible of course.
‘Of course they want me to work for them, have you seen me, but I am much more than my looks’, Dorian had explained to Faelynn, which made perfect sense since under that posh cover of his was an incredibly intelligent and talented person who put everything he had into everything he did. It would be a crying shame if a man like that would leave nothing behind but pictures of his extremely pretty face.
Faelynn usually had a sarcastic answer prepared for these kinds of situations, but this time she luckily didn't get the chance to say anything (since all she could come up with was a stupid pun involving lyrics from Backstreet Boys).
“Talking about me, weren’t you? How very flattering, don’t mind me, please continue”, the velvety voice of Dorian that Faelynn loved so very much seemed to fill the whole room as the man casually walked behind the counter.
“Oh, I could talk about you all night”, Faelynn answered and Dorian’s arms were soon around her, the hug so tight she could barely breathe. “You know, I can’t praise you for that outfit if I’m dead”, she managed to blurt out and Dorian laughed that gorgeous laugh of his, and quickly let her go.
“We really can’t have that to happen.”
After escaping Dorian’s terrifyingly strong arms, Faelynn took another look at him. He was more tan than usually, she could tell by the bare parts of his skin showing under the rolled sleeves and on his neck, between all the tattoos. His fingers were full of rings, golden ones like usual and the outfit was, well it was perfect on him, all the way from the expensive looking shoes up to the -
“Please, please tell me those aren’t real diamonds”, Faelynn pointed at Dorian’s ear tunnels.
Always the one extravagant detail.
Dorian smirked at the comment but didn’t answer the question. “Is that what you call a compliment?”
“Sorry, distracted by the diamonds ”, Faelynn rolled her eyes, then smiled. “You look amazing Dorian.”
Dorian nodded approvingly with a playful twinkle in his eyes. “Now that’s more like it. You don’t look bad yourself, shall we sit down for a bit?”
“Yeah, just give me a second”, Faelynn glanced at the line of customers that was shorter than she had expected. Harding could probably handle it for a while.
“I’ll arrange us a free table then”, Dorian smiled and disappeared into the crowd that seemed to eat him alive.
Faelynn had no doubt Dorian would manage to free them a table, even though it was the busiest hour of the day, the man could talk a person into anything. Like buying him the most expensive bottle of champagne in a bar (Faelynn couldn’t remember the exact cost, but the number at the end of the bill definitely had more than three zeros). Dorian had taken the bottle, thanked the guy for the drink and left the bar with Faelynn in his arm. They stayed up all night playing their favorite vinyls, dancing (awkwardly, some might say, but they had the best time of their lives) and sipping the champagne.
It had tasted like heaven.
The next time Dorian bumped into the guy at the bar he wasn’t even mad, but offered to buy him a drink. Which turned into a lot more drinks since Dorian realized he liked the guy, leaving to his place this time around, and the guy, as Faelynn had later (unfortunately) learned, had been “impressed by the balls you have, and I mean that in every sense of the word”. So the night slowly evolved into a relationship, and Bull and Dorian had now been dating for a few years. This time around, Faelynn hadn’t gotten to deliver her usual “hurt him and I’ll hang you from your balls to a streetlamp in downtown” - speech that she gave to all of Dorian’s potential boyfriends, since Bull was an enormous qunari with a fucking eyepatch , and even though Faelynn could pull of the mean look, she would never ever dare to say things like that to Bull seriously. She had one time said it as a joke while drunk, first fearing for her life but after a few seconds of staring, Bull had patted her shoulder, calling her “the best damn friend Dorian could possibly have” and after that, she had been a little less intimidated by the horned giant.
“Harding, can you handle this for a while?”, Faelynn asked the dwarf who’d stepped in her place at the counter.
“I’ll be fine! Take all the time you need, I know you missed him”, a wide smile spread across her freckled face.
“You, my dear dwarf, are the most precious thing in this universe”, Faelynn answered, making Harding chuckle, and she walked around the counter while untying her apron, looking for Dorian. Not for long though, since he had the ability to always, no matter where they were or who they were with, to stand out from the crowd. Sure enough, he was sitting at an empty table, surrounded by people.
“Yes, I’m doing fine, thank you. No, Tevinter is not that bad and yes, it’s my homeland. No, I’m not-” Dorian stopped when Faelynn approached the table. “Ah, you’re here, good!”
“Would you be kind enough to excuse me and my friend”, Dorian said politely to the people around them and soon they were alone. Damn, the charm that man had. “Have I ever mentioned how weird you look in your work clothes? You’re wearing something other than black, it’s remarkable, and quite frankly, hilarious.”
Faelynn looked down at her blue shirt with the slogan ‘Coffee? We got you covered.’ written on it. “Very funny. I’ve pleaded Varric like a million times to change our shirts to black but he just says that ‘you need some color on you kid, otherwise you’d look like the most intimidating customer service worker ever’.”
Dorian laughed. “You know, he does have a point.”
They continued to talk about an hour or so, the conversation mainly consisting of ‘how have you been’s, the work Dorian did in Tevinter, Faelynn’s studies, and equally sarcastic remarks from both sides.
“So, in a month, you managed to make five people fall for you so hard they bought you parting gifts, such as those diamonds , discovered artifacts from like a thousand years ago worth more money than I will make in my lifetime, and got yet another dozen offers from modeling agencies. Did I miss any highlights?”
“Just the part where they interviewed me in the most popular talk-show in Tevinter and referred to me as ‘the hottest historian in all of Thedas’”, Dorian grinned, sipping his latte.
“Nice”, was all Faelynn managed to say. Not that this shit was anything new what came to Dorian, but the things the man was able to pull off still astonished her every time.
Dorian chuckled. “Anyway, while I was away I heard that the dreaded Inquisition has pulled another stunt, but they weren’t very specific about it in Tevinter’s media. I was actually surprised it was mentioned there at all, but enlighten me, would you?”
The Inquisition was believed to be a group, though no one knew it for sure. The first time it had appeared was about two years ago and it had been doing things, more and less legal, against the Chantry ever since. People seemed to think of them as criminals and the Court, after being pressured by the Chantry, had put a warrant on anyone related to the Inquisition. Still, after a year, anyone was yet to be found.
Faelynn sipped her tea. “Well, you probably mean when they sent a truck full of food to the Grand Cathedral and the Chantry didn’t have any other choice than to distribute it to the poor or the media would’ve eaten them alive?”
“Ah yes, I remember hearing something about this. A lot of it went to the elves, am I right?”
Faelynn took another, even longer sip of her tea. “Yeah, just a few days earlier an elven orphanage had brought to light that the Chantry had cut of their funding and they couldn’t feed the kids, it was all over the papers so the Chantry was forced to give them a majority of the food.”
“I dare say, this Inquisition seems to actually do a lot of good. Why is it painted as a big bad criminal organization and most importantly, how in the world are the people buying it?”
Faelynn forced out a laugh to meet Dorian’s smile. “Don’t let the Chantry catch you saying that. I guess people are afraid of what they don’t know, no one knows who these people are.”
“Hmm, I see your point”, Dorian shrugged and over his shoulders Faelynn noticed Harding waving at her from the counter. The line was growing quite long.
“It looks like I’m needed over there”, Faelynn sighed, starting to get up from the table.
Dorian turned to look. “That seems to be true. See you later, but rather sooner, yes?”
“You bet, pretty boy. I’ll text you.”
“The prettiest ”, Dorian corrected as he hugged Faelynn tightly before letting her get back to work.
Faelynn closed the café doors after the clock hit closing time, and returned to wipe the tables with Harding.
“You know, why don’t you just go home? I’ll finish this one up”, she looked at the dwarf, grabbing a rag from the bucket.
“You’re serious? It’s a lot of work to do alone.”
Farlynn smiled. “I owe you one from before, and I’m really in no rush to leave, just go already.”
Faelynn waved her hand, and Harding soon disappeared through the back door. It took her a while, but after she was done cleaning the place and everything had been set up for tomorrow, she headed to the back to change her clothes to the oversized black hoodie and skinny black jeans she always carried around with her. After she was done, she stepped into the cool air, closed the back door and opened the one right next to it, leading to the store’s cellar.
Closing the door behind her, she clicked on the lights, climbed down the stairs and inspected the place. It was a much bigger space than what one would expect, and it didn’t really look like a store’s cellar at all, there were just shelves circling the walls filled with cardboard boxes that had nothing written on them. She turned around, satisfied, and took out another phone from her bag, a brand that indicated built-in voice disruptors, climbing back at the top of the stairs since there was no signal in the cellar, and made a call.
She was answered immediately.
“Password”, a heavily disrupted voice asked.
“The watchful eye.”
The disruption in the line faded a little, but not entirely. “Who am I speaking with?”
“The Herald. Meeting in fifteen minutes, place number three.”
“Yes”, she answered while putting on a noble mask, and ended the call.
Bet ya thought the professor was Solas but surprise surprise, nope! He’ll appear in the next chapter tho, don’t worry.
Also I used to do the text conversations as “screenshots”, so they had emojis and stuff in them. They just took so much time I decided to scratch them BUT HOWEVER if you’d really really like me to start doing them again, let me know in the comments and I’ll happily bring them back! They just aren’t worth it unless you people specifically want to see more of them.
Love you all and hope you are having a lovely day <3
Chapter 2: "You're the stormbringer, baby"
Okay so I was too excited about this chapter and couldn’t wait until next week to get it out so here you go!
Also I noticed some of the readers from the fic’s older version found their way here, thank you so much for sticking with me and this story and of course also a big thank you to the new readers (be glad that you didn’t find this story before because it sounds MUCH better now)!
(Note for the ones who read the original version: Fade’s name is now Scout.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
No matter who you seemed to talk to, the same thing was rolling off everyone’s tongues today; the police were investigating an arson that had led to the death of a grand gleric, and amongst the evidence they had discovered was a letter in the house’s mailbox. It had been signed by the Inquisition.
Faelynn was furious. She would never order anything like this, because even though the things the group did might’ve sometimes not been exactly what one would call legal, they didn’t hurt people. It was the first thing told to new members, it was repeated in meetings, so many times that everyone absolutely understood violence was not something they wanted associated with the organization. She’d even emphasized that in the meeting couple of days ago. So this was either the work of someone who claimed to be part of the Inquisition, or worse, someone on her inner circle had decided to start giving out orders on their own. Or some of the new recruits who were still running errands before being fully accepted to the organization had grown tired of the waiting, the possibilities were endless and none of them made Faelynn particularly happy, this meant investigations and accusations and both of those endangered the anonymity of the members, hers included. The police would also probably start looking into the Inquisition more closely now that it seemed to have moved on from prank-like, mostly harmless activities to a one that was clearly a crime.
Shit. Shit shit shit.
“Someone’s looking grumpy”, Dorian nudged her shoulder as they walked towards Faelynn’s apartment after the afternoon’s last lectures.
She sighed. “Dear Maker, what a brilliant observation.”
In high school, Faelynn’s psych teacher had been a sturdy, curly-haired woman in her mid 40’s who had left the room at least twice every class, claiming to go and copy some papers but always smelling like cigarettes when she came back. One time she’d even forgotten the papers. Soon after that, the cigarettes had changed into the ever so pleasant smell of alcohol on top of old alcohol, and one of the very last things Faelynn learned about psychology from the woman whose voice was low enough to make the students call her Mr. ever so often by accident, was the fact that people believed a lie far easier if you just stared at them right in the eyes as you told it.
She might’ve not been the best teacher, not even close, but that one piece of information proved to be the most valuable thing Faelynn ever learned in high school because in the last year, it had made keeping her life together possible.
She turned to look at Dorian. Right in the eyes. “Just a shitty day in general.”
Dorian didn’t seem to notice the lie as he stepped in front of her and placed both of his hands on her shoulders. “Well I happen to know just the thing to help with that. It is friday after all.”
Of course you want to hit the bar today.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, why don’t you go with someone else”, Faelynn brushed Dorian’s hands off her and continued walking.
“But it isn’t fun with anyone else”, Dorian groaned behind her, making Faelynn smile and Dorian catched up with her just in time to see it. “Is that a smile I’m seeing there, by any chance?”
“Shut up”, Faelynn looked away, pretending to be annoyed. Will I ever learn to say no to him? “Fine, I’m game.”
“My charm has worked again I see”, Dorian grinned. “Besides, I might’ve heard some rumours that The Chargers would throw a surprise gig there today.”
“It isn’t much of a surprise if you keep going around mentioning it like that”, Faelynn marked and stepped to the side to avoid being punched in the shoulder. “But I thought that Bull didn’t want them playing at the bar? That it’s ‘the only place where I don’t have to do any of that managering bullshit’.”
Dorian laughed. “True, but he does anything for me. Sort of a ‘welcome home’ - gift, this one.”
“Oh, was there something special - wait. The third anniversary of you guys dating, right?”
“Indeed”, Dorian smiled, a genuine, happy smile that made Faelynn smile too.
“Well, please tell him to at least put a shirt on today then.”
“Don’t worry, I already took him suit shopping.”
Faelynn walked up the stairs in her building alone since Dorian had left the other way a few streets down, promising to pick her up at nine. Faelynn’s thoughts were definitely not focused around tonight though, as she tried to figure out how to start investigating the Inquisition’s members, apparently so hard she forgot about the real world around her and felt herself bumping into someone.
“Faelynn! I’ve been meaning to talk with you”, a familiar voice interrupted and just by looking at the black clothes, a few strands of red hair tangled in them, she knew it was her landlady, or more precisely, Leliana owned the whole building. The two didn’t know each other that well, but they chatted whenever they bumped in each other, usually not literally though. Leliana was just a few years older than her and seemed like a very sweet person, but something about her gave Faelynn the impression that she had more going on then it seemed.
I mean, she owns a whole fucking building.
"I was wondering, you still work at Varric’s café, don’t you?”, Leliana continued.
Faelynn was surprised. “I didn’t know you knew Varric.”
“I don’t, not that well, but his lawyer is a very good friend of mine.”
Faelynn chuckled inside. Varric was definitely the one person in this world who needed a personal lawyer, not to cover for him or anything, but to look for all the possible loopholes in, well, everything. Varric might’ve not been a criminal, but he damn well was a cheater. And Varric’s personal lawyer was the best damn lawyer in all of Thedas, a beautiful Antivan named Josephine Montilyet, who wore golden clothes looking like they had been made from the sun itself and everything Faelynn knew about her based on the few occasions she had had the chance to meet her, made her admire the woman greatly.
“You know her too? How small is the world.” This time it was Leliana’s turn to be surprised. “But I had a favor to ask you, I need to arrange a little gathering next week and I thought about using the coffee shop? After business hours, this is a private matter.”
“I’m sure Varric won’t have anything against it, but I’ll check with him, sure. If you need someone serving coffee or something, I’ll be more than happy to help.”
Faelynn would help Leliana with absolutely anything she asked, if it meant that she would keep the rent on her apartment as low as it now was. Even mingle with a bunch of strangers for a few hours.
Plus, I’m dying to know what secrets this woman has.
“Perfect, let me know then”, Leliana smiled and was on her way, leaving Faelynn to climb the few steps she had left to get to her apartment’s door.
The place was a mess.
Piles of books reached for the ceiling everywhere you looked at, they served as bedstands, they covered the kitchen counter and even the sofa had started to fill with them. Sera had called dibs on it a while back in case Faelynn ever needed to start selling furniture to get more room for the books, and it was starting to look like the couch might just end up at Sera’s place after all. Otherwise, the apartment looked pretty colorful, which was a total contrast to Faelynn’s own style, the walls were filled with bright paintings, mostly her own, and on the living room wall was a huge unfinished painting that she was working on. One could tell she was painting a person, the waist was already completed and there was what seemed to be a roaming forest fire behind it.
Faelynn made herself tea, sat down at the kitchen table and grabbed the book closest to her, the smell of old paper and tea mixing in her nose, calming her wandering mind for a second before her phone made a noise and she put the book down.
FAEEEE wanna go grab some food I’m starvingg?!?!!
sorry loser, busy today :(
u no fun u kno that right??
*Sera changed your id*
I am the epitome of fun
*You changed Sera's id*
funnier than u
From: funnier than u
To: funnier than u
wanna hear a joke? have me prove my point
From: funnier than u
To: funnier than u
too late. what do the things that come out of Phenis’ mouth
and the taste of raisin cookies have in common?
To: funnier than u
they are shite
From: funnier than u
it’s not funny if it’s a fact loser
*Sera changed your id*
*You changed funnier than u's id*
dammit I knew it was a bad one
yeahyeah sure u did but did u see the new guy today??
Faelynn was surprised. A new student? It was rare for anyone to transfer schools in the middle of the semester, at least into Roy, plus the school was extremely hard to get in, which often made her wonder how had she managed to end up there. Not to mention Sera.
a new guy? at school? is he hot?
wait why am I asking you that
She stared at the screen for a while but no new messages popped up, it was so bloody typical for Sera to say something interesting and then not explain herself. Faelynn picked up the book again but after a few pages she found it impossible to relax as all she could think about was the damn arson, worrying that someone from her inner circle could be behind it, so she reluctantly closed the book and pulled out the Inquisition's phone from her bag.
“ Password? ”
“The watchful eye, Herald here.”
The heavy disruption, once again, gave way to a lighter one, making the person on the other end sound more like, well, a person and not a machine. “ Herald, what’s up, all good? ”
“Me? Scout here.”
Faelynn relaxed. Scout had been in the Inquisition since it was founded, but was not part of the inner circle so she knew she could trust this to them.
“So, between you and me? No, all is not good.”
“Oh”, the person on the other end hesitated. “Can I help?”
“Actually, yes. I need someone to look into my inner circle.”
“The arson? I thought it was some outsider claiming to be one of us?”
“That’s what I hope, but I need to be sure. Could you do this for me?”
“Well, I’m the duty officer tonight, answering all these damn phones, but then I have nothing so yeah Herald, sure.”
“Great. Just ask around a bit, do some digging, I think that if someone from the inner circle was really behind this, they’d have to use someone still running errands or fresh recruits.”
“Oh, right, they’re scared because they’re new and then someone close to you asks them to do something so they really have no choice.”
Faelynn smiled. A smart one. “Exactly.”
“I’ll see what I can do, I already have a few people in mind.”
“Thank you. I’ll make sure you won’t have to answer the phones for a while.”
“That would be great. I’ll let you know when I have something.”
“Perfect. Any outside suspects been found yet regarding the arson?”
“Not yet, no, but I put the best hackers on it. If someone left any traces on an electronic device, we’ll find them.”
“Good work Scout.”
“Thank you Herald.”
Faelynn took the phone from her ear and ended the call, the knots on her stomach loosening up a bit as things were under control, for now, and in good hands. She walked up to the bookshelf, all crooked up from the weight looking like it could collapse any minute, and pulled out a big blue book about the traditions of the dalish. She opened the book, dropped the phone in the hole that she had carved in the pages, my Keeper would kill me, and placed it back on the shelf.
Faelynn thought about continuing the painting on the wall when a yawn suddenly escaped her lips. She had barely slept last night, the arson circling in her mind, and she’d have to stay up late tonight. Dorian and her never left bars early.
I’ll just close my eyes for a second.
She collapsed on the bed, and was asleep within minutes.
“When they invented the phrase ‘sleeping beauty’, they certainly did not think of you.”
Faelynn’s eyes shot open to see where the hell the insult was coming from, and sure enough, Dorian was sitting on the edge of the bed. She’d given him the keys in case of an emergency, and Dorian seemed to have a very strange sense about what was an emergency and what wasn’t, since he used them all the time.
Faelynn groaned and pulled the blanket over her face. “Fuck you.”
“A mouth to fit the face”, Dorian answered and pulled the blanket away from Faelynn, resulting in numerous curses flying out of her mouth. “You need to get up, we have an hour to make you look presentable.”
Faelynn groaned again and sat up. “I feel like I’m about to die.”
“Naps have the ability to do that. And you haven’t eaten today.”
“How did you-”
“There aren’t any new chinese take out boxes in the kitchen and knowing how much you love cooking, it was pretty simple to deduce. Luckily, you have landed the greatest and the most handsome best friend in the world, because I brought you pizza.”
Faelynn almost started tearing up. “You’re the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
“Of course I am. Now, if you would just sit there and eat, I could try to fix that hair.”
An hour later Faelynn stood in front of the mirror amazed, running her fingers through her short black hair.
“Dorian, it’s like you know magic.”
Dorian smiled behind her. “Let’s get going then, shall we?”
The taxi dropped them off to a little back alley in the middle of the town, but it wasn’t like the other back alleys, one could tell by the amount of people standing in a line in front of a black metal door. Faelynn and Dorian walked right past the line, earning them a lot of angry glances.
“Evening”, Dorian smiled to the bouncer Faelynn hadn’t seen before.
“Get back in the line please”, the bouncer sighed, not lifting his eyes from his phone.
“Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have to wait.”
The bouncer looked even more annoyed, or maybe it’s just his face, but his gaze was still glued to the phone and from what glimpse Faelynn could catch from the screen, he seemed to be playing Candy Crush. “That’s what they all say. Get back at the end of the line and if you don’t know the password, go someplace else.”
Bull’s club was really underground, you required a monthly changing password to get in, and the passwords were never announced anywhere, you just had to hear them from someone or choose another bar. Needless to say, the place was really popular and there were every week hundreds of people in the line begging to get in without a password, shoving cash in the bouncer’s faces.
For the record, as Faelynn glanced at the Candy Crush - man, she seriously doubted that he’d even notice a gun being shoved in his face.
Nevertheless, no password, no entrance, no matter how much money you had.
Dorian looked annoyed and pulled out his phone. “Amatus, I think you forgot to tell the new bouncer who I am, yes? He won’t let us in, of course, without you confirming- Yes. I know. Get in here, please.”
They didn’t have to wait for long before Bull’s enormous, wow he is actually wearing a suit , figure emerged through the door and he leaned down, way down, to say something quietly to the bouncer, who still without lifting his eyes from the phone, apologized and let them in.
They stepped through the door and the distinctive smell that lingered on nightclubs hit their noses at the same time as the music drilled into their ears.
“Hey Fae, nice to see you”, Bull turned to Faelynn when they made their way down the stairs into the club, Bull and Dorian hand in hand. “You haven’t been around in a while.”
“Yeah, I rarely go to bars without Dorian”, she grinned back.
“You could’ve at least stopped by to say hi, you know.”
“I know, sorry. But I’m here now. Nice suit by the way.”
Bull grunted, but gave a quick smile to Dorian.
The truth was that as much as Faelynn liked Bull, she felt quite, well, uneasy around him without Dorian. He was just - so big. It was stupid but she couldn’t help it. It could’ve also had something to do with the eyepatch, why the fuck is he wearing an eyepatch .
As they arrived at the bottom of the stairs, Faelynn could see that the bar was already pretty full, the rumor about The Chargers must’ve spread around. Most of the dance floor had been replaced with a stage and it was already packed with people pushing their way to the front row, where Faelynn would’ve liked to have been too, but luckily Bull had reserved a VIP-area on the side of the stage.
Bull disappeared to ‘do some fucking managering bullshit again I need a fucking drink’, and Dorian and Faelynn decided to get some themselves.
“Who downs the most shots?”, Dorian proposed a game on the way to the counter, which made Faelynn hesitate for a while. Last time this had ended up with her, in a police car, in handcuffs. But not in the context you think of.
Hell, what's the worst that could happen?
“What’s the stake?”
“Hm, let’s see. Loser goes to the lecture monday morning and marks the other as present, yes?”
“Oh you’re on. Better prepare yourself”, Faelynn took the bet and turned over to the bartender to order three Frostbites, shots that usually gave her the most manageable headache possible.
“For my monday morning of sleeping in?”, Dorian said as he ordered four, and a glass of water.
Faelynn threw the shots down her throat, making a few people around them whistle. “We’ll see about that, vint.”
Dorian laughed. “Ooh, with the insults already, this is going to be fun! Just-”, Dorian was cut off by loud cheers around them as The Chargers emerged on the stage, and Faelynn quickly ordered a few shots before they rushed off to the VIP-area.
“Good evening people, how’s everyone doing tonight?”, the singer’s words turned the noise levels in the bar from loud to deafening, as people screamed back from the top of their lungs.
“KREM WE LOVE YOU!”
The singer smiled and Faelynn was pretty sure someone in the front row fainted. She knew Krem, although she wouldn’t dare to call him a friend, as much as she would’ve liked to. They’d met a few times, but since Krem was away touring or in the studio writing new songs quite a bit, they hadn’t had the chance to get to know each other better. But she absolutely loved the Chargers and their energetic indie rock and she found their shows incredibly cool, Krem’s stage charisma was through the roof and they had backup dancers whose dancing resembled battle movements.
“This first song is called Thousand cuts”, Krem breathed into the microphone, making the crowd scream again as the song began.
A thousand cuts in my heart
A thousand wounds, I'm bleeding out
I've seen the battlefields, fought my fights
I came home thinking I survived
Only to find out that the one last battle
Was you and the lines you crossed
The one last battle I fought and lost-
Dorian yelled something over the noise at Faelynn and she stopped listening to the lyrics. “What, I can’t hear you!”
“I said I’m going to get drinks, you want some?”
Faelynn was already feeling dizzy from the Frostbites, but she still found herself nodding. As Dorian disappeared, there was no one left in the VIP-area Faelynn knew, and when Dorian was really taking his sweet time, Faelynn decided to go and get some drinks herself. She looked for an empty chair and luckily her eyes immediately met one as the shots were starting to sink in, probably shouldn’t have started with three you fucking idiot.
“Can I get you anything?”
“I’m fine, thanks”, Faelynn answered the bartender, closing her eyes for a second as the world seemed to spin around her with an increasing speed, and she could hear that the Chargers were playing her favorite song, Stormbringer, and it had just hit the chorus.
O-oh, you're the stormbringer, baby -
“I would like a beer, if you don’t mind, please.”
- you make me feel dizzy -
The voice coming from her right made shivers travel through Faelynn’s spine in the best way possible. She was the worst person in the world to describe how voices sounded like but it was soft. So soft, but still seemed to have a sharp edge to it. Intelligent. Something in it took her breath away and she turned to see who was behind such a gorgeous sound and what she saw was a guy, roughly her age, sitting next to her. An elf. She could tell because his hair was shaved from the sides, revealing the pointy ears, but as for the rest of it, he had beautiful long brown dreads flowing down from the middle of his head, filled with wooden beads, as well as ones that seemed to have been made of bone, the biggest one in the middle shaped like a wolf’s head.
- you strike like lightning right into my heart -
He got his drink, tipped the bartender generously, and continued to write in the notebook that was lying on the counter before him. Faelynn couldn’t stop staring at the stranger. She just wished the bar would stop fucking spinning.
- you can have it, it's yours if you want -
“Coffee shops too quiet for you?”, she asked the elf, hoping to sound less drunk than she actually was.
- O- oh you’re electric, baby -
He turned to look and Faelynn was startled. If it was the voice that took her breath away before, it was now the eyes. How are they so fucking blue , a striking contrast to his brown skin, and she was extremely disappointed when the stranger turned his gaze back into his notebook. She could’ve stared into those eyes forever.
- and I’m drawn to you like lightning to heights -
“In my experience, coffee shops rarely have bands playing in them”, he answered, seemingly uninterested to speak with her.
- oh my heart is yours, baby -
But if there was one thing in the world that Faelynn wasn’t, it was a quitter. And she would never forgive herself if she let the chance to listen to a voice like that slip away.
- take it any day you’d like.
“So you’re writing about bands? Why?”
“I write articles for music magazines”, he marked without looking up.
Faelynn wanted to shake the stranger from his shoulders, tell him to loosen the fuck up. Luckily, in her alcohol-infused state that had ripped her from almost all of her restrictions, she somehow managed to not do that. “You’re writing about The Chargers? What do you think of tonight so far?”
The elf sipped his drink. “Not the best one they’ve had, mainly because of the venue. Krem is excellent, though.”
Still uninterested, which forced Faelynn to resort to her final way of trying to get someone’s attention. Bragging.
“I know Krem, you know.”
The elf turned in his chair to look again , by the maker those fucking eyes , only this time, he really seemed to look. “Bragging? I guess I should’ve expected that from you.”
How dared he.
“You don’t even know me!”
“I saw you walking in here with Iron Bull and Dorian Pavus. You obviously have some well known friends.”
Faelynn didn’t know whether she should feel offended, or flattered. He had noticed her, after all.
“I was just trying to get you to invest some interest in this conversation”, she tried to settle.
“What made you think I wasn’t interested in this conversation already?”
The elf stared right into her eyes, and she didn’t know what to do with herself.
“I - I - I just -”, she stuttered.
The stranger smiled, and the chorus of Stormbringer started playing in Faelynn’s head all over again.
My heart is yours baby -
“My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions.”
- take it any day you’d like.
Man, rewriting this chapter was probably the most fun I have had with writing in a long time. In case you’re wondering if you can listen to the songs anywhere, I’m sorry but no, the lyrics were also written by yours truly.
Hope you enjoyed this one!
Faelynn woke up and she could swear that the light that flooded into the apartment was brighter than the sun itself, making her headache go from zero to a hundred in a second, frostbites, why did you fail me , as she tried to remember at least something from last night.
They were at Bull’s. A game? Shots. More shots?
Faelynn immediately turned over but for her relief, or mostly to her surprise, all she saw was a half-eaten pizza next to her, not even in the box but placed nicely on top of the other pillow.
Faelynn groaned as she realized just how much she couldn’t remember and the more she tried to think, the worse her head seemed to hurt. Pizza aside, the guy. He’d been an elf, that much she knew, and he was - writing something? He’d introduced himself and that was the last thing she was able to recall, but what the hell did he say his name was?
Sol- something, she was pretty sure. She couldn’t even remember what the guy looked like.
Great job you fucking idiot.
She tried to get up but discovered it to be impossible at the moment as the wave of nausea hit her like a slap on her face, so she closed her eyes again in hopes of sleeping over her hangover. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work as she woke up a few moments later, her brain working overtime trying to figure out what had happened last night, and so she decided to check if Dorian had called. He would probably remember something she did not.
Her hand lazily wandered around the sheets, grabbing the phone.
From: Solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
Faelynn buried her face under the pillow, hoping that it would smother her.
Thanks a lot, drunk me. Thanks a fucking ton.
After she worked past the shock called ‘hotsfufft’, she felt confused. She’d given him her number? Also, what kind of a name was ‘Solas’, elvhen for pride. His parents sure had a curious sense of humour, making another daunting thought hit her.
What if I said that aloud last night?
She pushed her face against the pillow even harder, lying there for a while until she managed to gather enough courage to read the message although she hoped she would’ve run out of air to breathe first. When she finally unlocked her phone again, she noticed that it wasn’t just a message, but multiple ones, and she started reading from the start.
*You changed Solas’s id*
solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
To: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
u kno i have avsolutery no idea why i asked for ur numbew
*solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich) changed your id*
From: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)<
I believe it’s because you apparently think I am ‘extrwmly hotsfufft’. Interesting choice of words.
To: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
whoopsie shit u can see thgat
From: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
You made it home safely, I presume?
To: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
not homw yet. pizza
From: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
Pizza? This late?
To: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
u soubnd likw my mothwer
From: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
Very funny. Text me when you get home, please
From: solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
Are you home yet?
She realized that she couldn’t just pretend last night never happened and not answer him.
I am going to kill Dorian.
Faelynn typed her response and right after she hit send, she threw the phone on the other side of the bed, praying to all the gods she did not believe in that he wouldn’t answer. Knowing that her chances to get anymore sleep were hopeless, she got up, making everything go black, and Faelynn was sure she was going to pass out but then the darkness, painfully slowly, cleared away, and she walked up to the bookshelf.
The phone revealed three missed calls.
Faelynn called back.
“ Password? ”
“Yeah, yeah, the watchful eye, what happened?”
“ Herald? Well, we found someone we believe to be behind the arson. ”
“My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions.” He watched as the girl’s confused expression turned into a smile, then to confused again, then to a confused smile for a few seconds before she burst into laughter.
“Really? Pride? Your parents are weird.”
“You speak elvhen?”, Solas asked, surprised.
Elvhen was an old, dying language. Only the dalish, older ones seemed to speak it anymore, but even then it was just a few phrases here and there mixed in with the common language. For an elf that young to speak it was highly uncommon.
“Just a little”, she answers, smiling.
She is so beautiful when she smiles.
“I like your hair by the way. Unusual for an elf to show their ears like that”, the girl continued.
“I could say the same to you. And I see you still have a vallaslin. Bold.”
“You mean more like stupid?”, she laughed.
That laugh made Solas feel like the damn sun had just bursted in his chest. “Stupid, yes, but also brave.”
The girl’s laugh stopped abruptly and she looked at him with a serious look on her face, eyes narrowed. “Brave?”
“Well yes, holding on to your inheritance like that even with everything that’s going on. I think that takes some courage, don’t you?”
“Well, if you think it’s so brave, why don’t you still have yours?”
“I never had one”, his words made the girl look suspicious.
“So you’re not dalish, but you know elvhen?”
Solas smiled, but didn’t answer the question. “Shouldn’t you get back to your friends already?”
“Dorian disappeared somewhere, Bull’s been doing ‘managering shit’ all night, Krem’s still on stage and I’m really not in the mood for making small talk with the few other people I know here.”
“And what would you call this then?”, he noticed a slight smile at the edges of her lips following his question.
“ You I don’t know.”
Solas turned to the bartender to order another drink and hoped that the burning he felt in his face didn’t show outwards. Though, now that he thought of it, it wouldn’t have mattered if it did, as he was quite sure the girl wouldn’t even remember this conversation tomorrow morning.
He turned back to her. “And I am pretty sure you won’t know me tomorrow either.”
He could see her mouthing ‘ shit’ .
“Okay yeah, I’m a bit drunk, you got me”, she lifted her hands up in the air as if she was being arrested, before letting them drop back to the counter a few seconds later. “Does it really show that bad, I mean the whole bar is spinning but still - fuck, oh fuck sorry I swear a lot don’t I? I’m not usually this drunk, I don’t even go out that much I-”
Solas’ amused chuckle interrupted the girl. She’s cute when she blabbers . “I think getting drunk is what bars are for, don’t you?”
“Oh”, the girl started, seemingly confused again. “Well, yeah, it just sounded like you were judging me.”
“I wasn’t. But we should do something to that spinning”, Solas turned to the bartender. “One glass of water please, for the ‘not usually this drunk’ girl next to me.”
She laughed while the bartender handed her the water. There it was again. The sun.
“I’m sure you are”, he smiled.
The girl punched his shoulder. “Shut up.”
The touch sent a shiver down his spine and he was lucky he didn’t have to answer because he probably wouldn’t have been able to get a word out of his mouth.
“Faelynn! Good to see you, how’s it going and who’s your friend?”, Krem appeared out of nowhere, smiling and hugged the girl, Faelynn, a perfect name for the perfect face , the owner of the perfect face almost falling to the floor when she stood up.
“Someone’s been doing a little drinking I see”, Krem grinned, helping Faelynn back to her chair.
“I’m not usually-” she, Faelynn , started, but stopped with an annoyed expression on her face when Solas and Krem both laughed.
“Sure, sure. But who’s your friend here?”, Krem took a look at the notebook still lying on the counter and turned to Solas. “You’re writing about us?”
“This is Solas”, Faelynn smiled at him and Solas was struggling to keep his face straight. “He writes articles for music magazines.”
“Only good things about us, I hope”, Krem nudged his shoulder.
“Yes”, Solas smiled. “Although I think the bar is a bit small for you, the stadiums are a better fit.”
Krem laughed. “I enjoy the stadiums more, I have to admit.”
“You wouldn’t mind if I quote that in the article?”
“Of course not.”
Solas and Krem both turned to look at the girl, who had been silent for a while.
“What if you two did an interview together? You could get more fans and Solas, I don’t know, something that article writers get.”
“Bloody hell, a good idea”, Krem answered, turning to Solas. “We’ll be in town for the next week, I’m sure we can set something up.”
Right after Krem got the words out of his mouth, a group of fans spotted him and he had to escape towards the VIP-area, making him quickly shout his goodbyes before disappearing into the crowd.
“Poor Krem”, the girl laughed.
Solas was amazed. “Did you just set me up an interview with him? Thank you.”
“No problem, but it seems I’ll have to arrange the whole interview since Krem didn’t give you his contact info, so I’d like to ask one thing in return.”
“What is it?”
“Your phone number”, the girl smiled and Solas was pretty sure the sun in his chest exploded, leaving third-degree burns all over his body.
Faelynn tried to make herself look presentable, but to no avail so she decided to just smudge the yesterday’s eyeliner and leave the hair, she couldn’t make it look better no matter how many hours she would waste on it. She threw on the black hoodie and jeans, and headed out.
The meeting with the inner circle was due in ten minutes in place number twelve, a campfire under a bridge where the homeless spent their nights, but it was usually empty at daytime, and no one would think twice about seeing a weird group of people there. Hiding in plain sight.
But as Faelynn turned her steps to the street leading to the bridge, she found it hard to focus on the task at hand with the stranger, Solas (the name making her snort again, fucking Pride ), filling her mind.
What had happened in the bar?
She almost never drank herself to the point where she wouldn’t be able to remember a goddamn thing about the night. And even if she did, there was always Dorian-
Dorian. Where the hell had he been, why-
Faelynn’s thoughts were interrupted by her phone vibrating in her pocket, and to her relief, it was her personal, not the Inquisition phone (phone calls right before meetings never meant anything good). She frowned a little at the name before answering.
“I was just thinking about you.”
“ You were? Well of course, why would you ever spend a minute without thinking about your very talented and handsome best-” , Dorian's voice flowed into her ear before she interrupted.
“Actually, I was thinking about where the hell did you disappear last night and why the fuck did you leave me all alone and not look after me I mean we had a drinking game going on and I was already really wasted, I am tiny, Dorian, and I started with three shots, which in retrospect is totally my own fault but still, you weren’t there, and now I have no idea what I’ve done because you didn’t look after me!”
The line fell silent.
“I-”, Faelynn started.
“ You- ”
“I’m sorry, shouldn’t have yelled at you. I just - I don’t remember a thing except that there was a guy.”
“ Luckily for you, I remember more than that. Did I already mention how lucky you are to have me-”
Dorian laughed at the other end of the phone. “ Impatient as always, aren’t you? When I got back to the VIP-area with the drinks, you had just disappeared, Stormbringer was playing and it’s probably one of the best-”
“ Yes? Oh right, later, as I was sophisticatedly sipping my drink, I noticed you stumbling to the counter and sitting next to someone. ”
“What, how - how did he look?”
“ You can’t remember? Dear girl- ”
“I know, I fucking know, don’t you dare blame me for my poor life choices, this is on you as well, just tell me!”
“ You brought this on yourself, baby. And I wish I could, but he was sitting behind a pillar, so old-fashioned, I think Bull should really pay some attention towards renovating the place it’s- ”
“ Well, someone’s desperate.”
“I feel like disappearing from the earth.”
“ Ah, don’t be so gloomy. I do remember more. ”
“Dorian, I swear I love you but how about telling me everything at once instead of torturing-”
“ Shh, where’s the fun in that? You were talking with him for an hour or two, and at some point Krem came to you.”
“Krem? Great.”, Faelynn shook her head and kicked a small rock to the road from the sidewalk out of frustration.
“ Yes, yes, I wasn’t done yet. After Krem was spotted by a group of seemingly blood-thirsty fans, the poor man, he came into the VIP-area and told me that you had promised to arrange him an interview with someone who writes articles in music magazines.”
“Oh no.” Faelynn felt the blood escape her face.
“ That does not sound good.”
“I- I guess I’ve promised to set up an interview between Krem and Solas.” Which means I have to keep texting him oh fuck why do I always-
“The guy from the bar.”
“ Oh, this is just hilarious. You should drink more often” , Dorian laughed.
“I am going to regret telling this to you but you know what’s even more hilarious?”
“ Please do tell. ”
“The fact that drunk me decided that it was for the best to change his name to ‘hot extremely hotstuff don’t get burned bich’.”
The line filled with Dorian howling from laughter for a good thirty seconds before he managed to form words again.
“ That’s- that’s just- ” Dorian started laughing again.
“Shut up. Need to go, try to breathe sometime soon”, Faelynn sighed and hung up. She was almost at the meeting place, so she looked around, making sure there were no eyes on her, and pulled out the black lace mask from her bag, putting it on. When she arrived, the fire at the campsite was already roaring and everyone had gathered around it, waiting for her.
“ Hey all. ” She still hadn’t gotten used to her own voice through the mask.
The masks that the organization used had filters fitted in them, slightly changing the wearer’s voice so no one could recognize each other that way. Luckily, this was already a very popular thing with the nobles, so it wasn’t like a large group of people suddenly purchased custom masks with voice disrupters in them.
Thank the Maker for the nobles and their idiotic hobbies.
“Herald”, one of the masked members of her inner circle responded behind their red and black lion mask, making room for her to sit down next to them.
“Let’s make this quick, I’m not having a good day. So, this suspect?”, Faelynn sighed as she sat down.
“The hacker team Scout put together found him”, the lion mask answered.
Scout, if there ever was an angel, it’s you.
“And he’s definitely not the sharpest type, my dear. He wrote his whole plan on his phone, it even has details the police never released to the press”, a voice from the other side of the fire continued, face and in this case also the head, covered by the Hat of Majesty, and incredibly expensive noble accessory. It had lace added to it, flowing over the person’s face. They looked royal, even in the black hoodie and jeans, back straight, legs crossed, and sometimes Faelynn wondered just how influential people they had in their ranks.
What followed was a heated conversation among the people who had gathered, noble masks twinkling slightly in the campfire’s light, Faelynn’s gaze wandering from one speaker to another.
“Criminals, as bright as ever”, a dwarf, judging by their build, with a mask seemingly made of wood with brass embellishments, started.
“You could say the same about the police for not finding the asshole, big heroes and such, yeah?”, another person snorted behind their sloppily painted mask, yellow and black stripes.
I like them.
“The police uses legal ways to track down suspects, hacking into-” the lion mask next to Faelynn added before being interrupted sharply by a person behind a black crow mask.
“Whose side is our commander on, exactly?”
“We must discuss the plan, Nightingale, instead of questioning our dear commander’s loyalty”, another voice interrupted before the conversation turned into an argument, coming from behind a beautiful golden mask, decorated with a ton of jewerly, also looking very expensive.
Who are these people? I could steal one embellishment off that mask and probably eat for a month with the money I would get from it . Should I steal one? No, idiot, focus.
“-nk you, ambassador. We should bring forward the evidence and prove that we had nothing to do with this”, a stern voice behind an undecorated, plain mask said, a book peeking out of their hoodie’s pocket that Faelynn had noticed them reading just before they sat down, and to her surprise, she recognized the book as one of Varric’s, the latest Swords and Shields. She smiled behind her mask at the connection.
A fan of the romance series and damn it, I can’t mention this to Varric.
“Yeah, would be easy if their notes weren’t full of ‘we are the Inquisition’ bullshit”, a qunari behind a simple silver mask responded.
They’re almost as big as Bull. Or bigger? Are all qunari this huge? Damn.
The dwarf sighed. “Shit .”
“Why don’t we just charm them, explain the Inquisition is here just to help, yes?” Something in the way the person behind the yet another embellished, black and gold mask talked reminded Faelynn of something, but she couldn’t wrap her mind around what, the voice disruption throwing her off.
“‘We want to help. Help catch the one spreading fire, licking the ankles, muffled screams as the-’”
The person behind the pale, plain mask was interrupted by the ambassador, who was then interrupted by the Nightingale.
“We can’t do that. They’d just steal all the credit to themselves, leaving us to take the blame.”
“You don’t know-”, the Swords and Shields - fan added before the Nightingale interrupted them, too.
Someone’s a bit of a push-over.
“Seeker, of course I do, there’s a reason I am here.”
“We are all here for a reason”, Seeker crossed their arms over their chest.
“So let’s just tell the asshole policemen, -women, assholes anyways, to clear our name or-”
“Oh, are we now threatening the police?”, the commander interrupted the person behind the black and yellow mask, who was impatiently swinging their legs.
“We certainly are not”, the ambassador added.
The voice of reason. Disrupted reason. Shut up.
A short silence fell over the group, everyone pondering different options that right now, seemed pretty scarce.
“What if-” the Nightingale started after a while, and everyone turned to look at them. “What if we blackmailed the suspect into deleting all the parts referring to us, and then made them turn themselves in, convincing everyone they were not one of us?”
A push-over, but a resourceful one. Forgiven.
Everyone thought about what Nightingale had said for a while and then slowly resorted into quiet murmur, a few comments like ‘ It’s deliberate work but if we-’ and ‘ - hard, definitely, impossible? Nothing is impossible, my dear’ reached Faelynn’s ears before she opened her mouth for the first time since starting the conversation.
“Anyone think of anything to debunk this plan?”
People continued to murmur for a while before the commander next to Faelynn raised their voice. “The police could offer them a deal. Cut his jail time in half for saying that he’s one of us.”
“So we find some information about them that gives us the power to double their jail time”, the Nightingale marked calmly.
“And if we don’t?”
“Everyone has secrets.”
Mic-drop. Ten points to Gryffin- no, they are definitely a Slytherin.
The people started murmuring conformingly, and Faelynn decided to make the vote.
“Anyone opposing the plan, raise your hand.” Not a single hand rose up, so they were good to go. “Put the hackers in this, we can’t risk sending people in.”
“Consider it done. We’ll let you know when the plan progresses”, the commander confirmed.
“Good work everyone, and ten points to Sly- I mean, Nightingale. I’m out”, Faelynn waved her hand as she stood up and the world suddenly went a hell of a lot darker for a moment before clearing up again.
I am never drinking again.
“You want my phone number?” Solas was so flabbergasted he didn’t know what else to do than to repeat the question.
“Well yeah, didn’t you just hear what I said”, the girl laughed and pulled her phone from her bag, handing it to him. “I got you an interview, didn’t I?”
Solas smiled while grabbing the phone from Faelynn’s hands, his fingers brushing her skin briefly, and he was sure his face was reddening again as he typed in his number and saved it under his name. “Yes, you did indeed.”
“Now we’re even”, the girl grinned at him before looking down at her phone again, and her mouth opened in surprise. “Is it really almost three already?”
“It seems to be so. Do you need to leave?”
“I just didn’t sleep at all last night thinking about that damn-”, she stopped abruptly, looking a bit frightened.
Solas hesitated for a second before asking, but his curiosity won in the end. “About?”
“It doesn’t matter”, she quickly brushed off the question. “I’m just quite tired.”
She’s an excellent liar. Almost fooled me .
“Should I call you a taxi?”
The girl smiled. “That would very nice of you, thanks.”
Solas called the taxi and he didn’t even need to name the address, just mentioning ‘Bull’s club’ was enough. He wasn’t even sure if the club did have a proper name, or an address for that matter. After that, he helped Faelynn get her coat on.
“Wow, you are a secret gentleman, aren’t you”, she laughed and almost fell down again, grabbing Solas around his neck for support.
A secret one, yes. The words almost rolled off his tongue but he caught himself just on time.
Faelynn’s face was just a couple inches away from his and Solas could feel breathing getting a little harder, before he slowly backed away. “I think you’re going to need a little help getting up those stairs.”
“Ooh”, she gasped. “You can carry me!”
“Carry you? I thought more like perhaps-”
“Are you too weak lethallin?”
The way she spoke elvhen made Solas feel like he should sit down, and the smile on her face didn’t exactly help.
“Of course not, lethallan .”
The girl giggled as Solas lifted her in his arms and started climbing up the stairs and he could feel the shaking of her body in the rhythm of the bursts of laughter, and his lungs had trouble filling again.
As they made it outside, earning them a few jealous glances from the people who Solas recognized as those who had been on the line since he got in the bar a little before ten, the taxi was already waiting behind the wall of people.
“Are you sure you can make it home safely?”, Solas confirmed as he put her down, making sure she wouldn’t fall by placing his hands briefly on her waist, why is it so hard to breathe?
“Unless the big bad taxi dude kills me or something, yeah”, she grinned.
Solas turned around to see who was driving the cab, and for his relief noticed a woman sitting behind the wheel. “Not funny.”
“Are you worrying about me? Aww.”
I do not know why, but yes .
But he stayed silent instead.
“Anyway, this was fun. You were fun”, she poked Solas on his chest. “And nice and - you just, have a really nice voice you know. And eyes and-”, she paused there. “See you later, maybe?”
“Maybe”, Solas managed to answer as the girl stepped into the taxi, smiling.
And then she closed the door and the taxi drove away, leaving Solas standing there for a moment before heading home.
She was so- he couldn’t figure out the words, not those that would make her justice anyway. Ethereal? Something that left him wanting to know more.
But he knew that hearing from her again was highly unlikely since there was a real chance she wouldn’t even remember him tomorrow morning. What he did not know was why the fact made him feel as sad as it did.
Get it together , Solas shook his head, turning around to leave but then the phone in his pocket vibrated shortly. A message.
u kno i have avsolutery no idea why i asked for ur numbew
*xxx-xxx-0679 changed your id*
solas (hot extrwmly hotsfufft dont get burned bich)
Solas’ lips curved up into a smile as he wrote back his answer, and headed home.
Aaand another update within a week, I am on a roll! As always, thanks for reading!!
Next chapter won't be out before late next week since I am making HUGE edits to it and school is really killing me right now, why is there always so much work at the end of the semester??
This chapter contains a suicide mention (generally and as a side note, not speaking about any certain character), and talk about drug addiction, drug use and drug withdrawal.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Solas opened his eyes, only to close them immediately again as the bright afternoon sun flowed in from the windows, no curtains to make the bright, burning light any softer. He groaned and turned around on the bed to face the apartment instead of the windows and tried opening his eyes again, this time with more success.
The studio that opened up in front of him was very minimalistic, looking like it was balancing on the edge of being a style choice and the look of when someone just moves into an apartment and has had no time to make it look like their own. In this case, it was a bit of both.
He had indeed moved in here a few days ago, but keeping the apartment minimalistic and impersonal was a conscious choice. This was for a few reasons.
Firstly, if someone managed to break in, they could find no leads about who the resident in the apartment was.
Secondly, there was no way of knowing how long he would be able to stay in the city. No point in putting effort towards something that might crumble in hours.
Solas yawned and got up from the bed, white pajamas loosely hanging on his body as he stretched before grabbing his phone from the nightstand and heading towards the kitchen to grab a bottled water from the fridge for his slightly pounding head, caused by the excessive sleep.
He mindlessly unlocked the phone, not really expecting anything since he couldn’t afford keeping people in his life for more than brief meetings and small collaborations, and was surprised to see a notification for a new message on the screen.
i have no idea if it’s more embarrassing to change your id now or leave it as it is
Solas allowed himself a brief smile as he remembered the girl’s face, beautiful, decorated with a thin vallaslin circling on her cheeks, and the laugh that had left the girl’s lips, lighting up a sun inside him. He let the smile fade quickly though, as he realized that he wouldn’t see that face or hear that laugh again.
Like said, he couldn’t afford to keep anyone in his life for more than brief moments.
His fingers quickly crafted a message that was meant to be his last, before turning his attention to the books laying on the kitchen counter.
Faelynn startled as she felt her phone vibrate in the back pocket of her black jeans and once she could remember where she was again after almost drifting to sleep, she waited for the professor to turn her back to the classroom in order write some more boring stuff about the philosophy of aesthetics on the chalkboard, and then she quickly pulled the phone on her lap to check who it was.
Hello, Faelynn. Could you help me with something?
Faelynn stared the phone with surprise. The last time she had heard from him was two days ago at saturday afternoon, when he had responded that “Solas” as his id would do just fine, and after she had changed it she had decided to not continue the conversation as the tone of his message had somehow implied she wouldn’t be hearing from him again, even though it was as polite as ever.
Faelynn kept staring at the screen, trying to decide whether to leave it unanswered, when Sera’s face appeared right next to hers to join in on the action.
“Oooh the mysterious “pride” dude, thought you were done with him?”
“I thought I was too”, Faelynn murmured back, wrinkling her forehead, trying to decide what to do.
It would be a lie to say she hadn’t been at times wondering about who he stranger on the other end of the phone was, her curiosity starting to get the best of her. It wasn’t like her to give her numbers to total strangers in bars, so there must’ve been something about him that really intrigued her. On the other hand, this was about the worst time ever to add another person in her life as she struggled to keep up even with her friends, most of her thoughts and attention circling around the arson and Inquisition.
So she stared at the screen, pondering about her options, when Sera interrupted her trail of thought, laughing.
“What did you say to him at the bar to keep his interest up that much, huh?”
Sera turned away and focused her attention on her on phone, still laughing as her words hit Faelynn right to the core as she realized, for the first time since friday, that -
What if I mentioned something about the Inquisition?
Faelynn squeezed the phone so hard her knuckles turned white, Sera seemingly missing her panic altogether, too busy tapping her phone, as Faelynn tried to keep her breathing steady.
She wouldn’t do that, she knew exactly what was on the stake here, she knew, she knew full well but then again, she had been very drunk, talking to another elf her age so it was possible that the subject of the discrimination of the elves had come up which could have led to -
No. No no no no.
But that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was that she might have.
So she took a deep breath and quickly wrote a message back. She had to get to the bottom of this, which meant she had to keep him messaging back to her no matter wat.
Wish I could have Nightingale crafting these messages for me, damn it.
heya mr. quiet, whatcha need?
Faelynn took a sharp breath, half expecting him to answer that he had the wrong number, even though he had written her name but you can never know now can you, but the sharp breath quickly turned into a sigh from relief as the screen lit up with an answer.
Yes, I’m sorry for bothering, I just need a quick answer and thought you could help.
np, im bored anyways, what’s up?
I’m new to the city and since you have a very art student-like feeling about you,
I was wondering if you’d know some good art history professors around?
I need some help with some research I’m doing and I need the best people and
don’t have time to go through all the professors here.
well there’s two notable ones. professor Keep who’s nice but a bit disorganized
and professor Wilds who is a bitch but knows what she’s doing
and u write like an ancient dude you know, has anyone ever told you this
Thank you. And very funny. You write very much like someone
who skipped every single one of her writing classes.
Faelynn smiled and in an instant Sera’s face was next to hers staring at the phone.
“So you answered him, huh”, the elf laughed. “Are you sure the dude is not like 50 tho, he writes like one for sure, can you take a screenshot and send it to me I gotta send this to Sparkler so we can-”
“I’m not gonna-”, Faelynn started but was interrupted by Sera quickly taking a picture of her phone.
“This will have to do then”, she grinned as she stared Faelynn in the eyes and made a comment about the dark circles under them as she turned back to her seat, fingers quickly tapping on the broken screen, crafting a message to Dorian, the grin getting wider by the second.
Faelynn sighed as she wrote a message of her own.
i’m on an important quest no time for proper grammar
I think you should take up grammar as a side quest then.
hahaa gj grandpa, keeping up with modern times and video games
Sigh, very funny.
i know, i’m hijskfa
Faelynn startled awake again after another second of falling asleep to notice what she just sent and sighed. She’d have to go home and nap before her shift at the café or she’d be dead.
*hilarious. and sleep-deprived
Something keeping you awake, lethallan?
Faelynn was glad she had managed to keep him messaging her, but a frown still crept on her face as she put the phone away, not having enough energy to come up with a convincing lie as every last thought about aesthetics - though there had not been a lot of them in the first place - slipped away from her mind to be filled with the organization that was on the brink of breaking apart around her.
Solas lifted his gaze up from the books again to check if Faelynn had answered, but the screen was still black, and he immediately cursed himself for keeping on messaging her after he had received and answer to his question.
He had meant to stop messaging her altogether after his message on saturday, but his search for Morrigan had hit a dead end, since she had perfected her art of being able to reach those she wanted to, but keep others at bay.
But her one flaw was that she could never hide her intelligence, even if her life depended on it, so wherever she was, she would be known as one of the best professors/lawyers/doctors - whatever profession she was playing at the time - around, with an unpleasant personality but someone who knew how to get things done.
So Solas opened up the laptop that was laying on the kitchen counter on top of some books, and did a few quick searches, ending up on the website of the Val Royeaux School of Arts and Design, looking through the list of professors and finally finding what he was looking for.
Nice to meet you, Professor Wilds.
There was no picture, of course, but there was an email address, which made Solas tempted to handle this all only through electronic communication, without revealing his face. But this was Morrigan, and she liked to meet face to face with the people she worked with, and Solas didn’t want to take the risk of her refusing to help him. And if there was one thing he knew about Morrigan, it was that she was greedy for favours. And what he was about to ask her would leave her with a favour from the Dread Wolf himself, and she wasn’t stupid enough to betray him and lose that favour.
Not that anyone was stupid enough to try to betray him anyways.
Plus, he was curious to know if the infamous Morrigan lived up to her nickname, The Witch.
Faelynn was about as ready to go home as she’d ever been, as gossip-hungry students had been pestering her for her whole shift, wanting to hear every single detail about The Charger’s gig at Bull’s club, and she was tired of ignoring the questions in a polite way.
Normally, she had no trouble telling some of the gossips she’d heard as long as they didn’t hurt anyone, but right now people wanted gossip about something that she barely remembered a thing of, and she just wanted them to leave her alone.
She saw another student approaching her with that hungry look for gossip in their eyes, and took a deep breath to prepare herself for a fake smile and a polite excuse as she heard a familiar voice calling her name, and thankful for the distraction, headed away from the cash register towards the dark haired woman that was smiling at her, which softened her quite intimidating features a bit, right up to the scar on her cheek.
“Hey Cass, haven’t seen you around in a bit. Heading to a meeting?”
The woman nodded and Faelynn started placing the best donuts they had carefully in a box, and shook her head at the 20 dollar bill Cass was offering her way when she was done. “Cass, for the hundredth time, we won’t take money from you.”
“Thank you”, Cass smiled again as Faelynn handed the box to her after slipping a few extra donuts in. “I’m in a bit of a hurry so I can’t stay and talk, catch up at another time”, she apologized before waving her hand as a goodbye and exiting the café to the busy streets.
Faelynn smiled as Cass stormed out of the door like she always seemed to do, that woman was busy. She had been a regular in the café for months and they had started to develop something of a friendship, so Faelynn for example knew that Cassandra was a cop, leading the unit that was focused on the drug lyrium, and keeping it off the streets. Cassandra often went undercover in meetings for people who were trying to recover from their addiction to it, to learn more about where they got it and to get some information about why people started taking it in the first place, so she could start programs and actions countering the reasons people were driven to take lyrium.
Lyrium was a drug that had appeared on the streets a few years back, and it was extremely addicting, far more than any other drug that had come to the market since, and it was ridiculously easy to get. It was also super cheap, making the side effects horrible due to the shit they put in the drug to keep it practically free, and you could recognize a lyrium addict from afar. And there were a lot of them. They looked like walking dead with their hollow cheeks and glassy eyes but most importantly, their whole essence screamed pain whenever the drug started to wear off. It was, as Faelynn had heard, the worst kind of pain imaginable, constant, eating you up from the inside, making your stomach turn upside down, making the world seem like hell instead of a real place - kinda pain. People had died from withdrawal, and not so few of them by their own hand in the end.
Faelynn respected Cassandra greatly for all the work she did to try and keep more people away from the drug, especially for going to the meetings. Everyday, Cassandra saw multiple people who had thrown their lives away like they didn’t matter anymore, and she listened and she cared and after the meetings she would go back to the station and come up with new plans to not only help the people who had already experienced the agony lyrium caused, but also those who hadn’t yet tried it, doing her best to keep people away from it.
She also sometimes wondered how easy it would be to end up as one of those people, attending meetings after their life had crumbled into pieces.
The Inquisition business had really been pushing her over the edge for the past couple of days, worrying about the situation taking up most of her time and she’d barely even slept, feeling the responsibility she had sitting heavy on her chest every time she laid down. The arson was threatening to destroy everything they had been working so hard for, and she needed to clear the Inquisition’s name before it was too late.
It was not like the organization hadn’t kept her up at night before, but those times had been nothing compared to this. People talked, and some of that talk was that elves themselves had started to fear the organization, one of the very ones they worked so hard to help, though she could not blame them because right now, the organization she led seemed like a bunch of murderers. She had doubted herself and the organization a lot lately, but ultimately she believed in their cause. She needed the Inquisition, future generations needed it, the world needed it.
But she was just one person, how could she save the world?
Faelynn felt a tap on her shoulder and woke up from her thoughts, noticing a pain in her hand caused by the fact that she’d clenched it in a fist so tightly her nails had drilled in her palm.
Harding was standing next to her. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I just zoned out for a second there”, Faelynn struggled to keep her voice steady, and realized she really needed a break from the Inquisition’s business before she totally lost the grasp on the life she was actually living.
Just 24 hours , she promised herself. Everything’s under control right now, what’s the worst that could happen?
“Well, I’m here to relieve you from the duty of making coffee for all the caffeine-deficient people out there.”
Faelynn’s lips curved up into a genuine smile as she said her goodbyes and rushed to the back.
Before she headed home, she pulled out the another phone from her bag, and shut it down.
She couldn’t breathe, running, stumbling over roots and rocks and branches, every breath feeling like a stab of a knife between the ribs.
It was hot. Everything was so hot.
Had she been running for hours, days, or weeks? She didn’t know, couldn’t remember, couldn’t think straight but she knew that she couldn’t stop.
Her skin was bleeding from all the times she’d scraped it against - against what, she wasn’t sure, her skin full of cuts and bruises and every step was more painful than the one before.
Suddenly she heard a loud noise that almost knock her off her feet. It was a voice.
She glanced over her shoulder to see where it came from, just for a second but it was all it took for her feet to lose their balance and she fell down, unable to get up, watching the forest fire behind her coming closer and closer -
The noise seemed to come from miles away.
Her eyes shot open and Dorian’s hands were on her shoulders, shaking her awake.
“You’re crying, are you okay?”
It took Faelynn a few seconds to find her place in time and space, and she realized she must’ve fallen asleep right after she made it home from work around seven, and a quick glance to the clock on her wall let her know that she had managed to sleep for over 20 hours. And of course it had to be the nightmares.
“I guess”, Faelynn croaked, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “Just a nightmare.”
Dorian stared at her for a while with a serious face before seemingly deciding to believe her, and smiled. “Good thing I came to rescue then, a knight in a shining armor, that’s what I’m all about.”
Faelynn smiled as she moved to sit on the edge of the bed and scrubbed her eyes, making Dorian look concerned again.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, mom .”
“Okay then, back to your usual sarcastic piece of shit self I see.”
Faelynn punched his arm, although she felt like punching his grinning face. “What are you doing here anyway?”
“Ah, you just didn’t show up to class today and I had to pair up with the boring kid, you know the one who wears all yellow all the time why would anyone-”
“Aww, you were worried about me?”, Faelynn grinned.
“If I was truly worried I would have brought pizza.”
“So you don’t have a hidden pizza waiting somewhere?”
“I just came to check that you’re okay but since you seem to be fine, would you like to grab something to eat at the center? Sera and Dagna were going as well, don’t know about others.”
“Sure, once I feel like a human being again instead of a goblin that just got dragged out of their cave to the sunlight for the first time in their lives.”
“You do look a bit like a-”
“One more word and I’ll suffocate that pretty face of yours with a pillow.”
After a few seconds of silence Dorian carefully opened his mouth again.
Faelynn sat up on the bed. “Go on.”
“There’s a new pizza place a few blocks away from the café if-”
Faelynn glanced at Dorian as she jumped up from the bed, ran her fingers through her hair a few times to tame it down a bit and pulled on the first jeans she could grab from the floor.
Dorian grinned as he texted the others to join them.
The place was unusually busy for a tuesday afternoon, which Faelynn hoped, meant some great fucking pizza as on the way there her stomach had been rumbling so loudly Dorian had recorded it and sent it to the group chat, getting a video of Sera almost choking on a cookie as a response.
Immediately upon entering through the doors decorated with balloons and confetti, she heard Sera’s laugh which was answered with a cheery snicker, giving away that Harding was there as well, and a loud deep chuckle that echoed in the restaurant for a second, which had to belong to Bull, making Faelynn grin as she grabbed Dorian’s hand and led them towards the sound.
Fair enough, at the biggest window table with the best view on the busy street, Sera was sitting next to Dagna, both of them watching something from the cracked screen of Sera’s phone, still laughing. Bull was smiling on the opposite side, sitting alone and pretty much taking the space that would usually fit three people.
“You look like someone pulled you out of a dumpster, Miss Rumble”, Sera greeted her with a grin, putting the phone away and then turning her attention to Dorian. “Thanks for the recording Sparkler, I almost died.”
“Would’ve been such a shame”, Dorian winked at Sera who blew rasberries at him as a response as they took their seats, Faelynn next to Sera and Dorian squeezing himself next to Bull, who gently grabbed Faelynn’s hand as she was reaching for the menu.
“We already ordered, Dorian said he’s coming with a starving goblin. Mozzarella, right?”
Faelynn gave side-eye to Dorian who was grinning, and then smiled at Bull. “Thanks, big guy.”
Bull grunted as Faelynn felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around to be faced with her own reflection from the huge sunglasses the person was wearing, their hair covered with a black cap.
“Mind if I sit here?”, Krem’s voice flowed out of the stranger’s mouth, making Faelynn’s smile get even wider.
“Don’t mind if you do”, Faelynn laughed as Krem grabbed a free chair and sat at the end of the table. “Nice disguise, brûlée. Didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Managed to sneak out of the studio for a bit”, Krem grinned. “You guys ordered al-”
Krem was interrupted by a string of curse words escaping Faelynn’s mouth, making everyone stare at her, as she had realized something a few seconds after hanging out in the same space with Krem.
She had totally forgotten about the interview she had promised to set up between Solas and Kream, and as much as she was disappointed in herself, she also felt a tiny bit of relief, since this gave her another reason to contact Solas and keep him talking to her.
“Shit, fuck, god damn it, I’m so sorry Krem I had totally fucking forgotten.”
Krem just stared at her, and Faelynn was pretty sure he was raising an eyebrow but she had no way of knowing because the sunglasses pretty much covered half of his face.
“The interview. I forgot, I should have contacted you during the weekend fuck I’m-”
“Hey hey hey now, it’s cool Fae, don’t stress about it”, Krem assured her with a smile on his face as he placed his hand on Faelynn’s shoulder. “I didn’t know this week’s schedule before this morning anyways.”
As the pizzas arrived to the table - making Faelynn ascend to seventh heaven since it was the best pizza she’d ever eaten, Krem checked some schedules with Bull to set up the interview as Sera and Dagna were talking about the weekend trip they would be taking to meet up with some of Sera’s friends over in the south and Faelynn was checking what she had missed in today’s lecture with Dorian - nothing important it seemed since Dorian was more busy talking about what the professor had been wearing instead of what she had been teaching.
“Can you imagine, a royal sea silk dress with a velveteen long blazer?”, Dorian exclaimed, making Faelynn raise an eyebrow.
“Royal silk and - nevermind, you pretty much only wear jeans and t-shirts, but those are expensive fabrics, mind you! No regular teacher could afford those unless-”, Dorian lowered his voice and leaned forwards, everyone listening to him now. “Unless she’s been sleeping with someone at a high high place as the little birds have been singing. Like someone in the Court.”
Everyone in the table gasped at the gossip, which was no uncommon occurrence with Dorian around, as he always had the juiciest gossips about everyone in town.
“An university teacher teaching about elven art sleeping with someone in the mostly corrupted Court full of Chantry fanatics who wanna erase everything elven in schools?”, Faelynn said with an angry tone, crossing her arms over her chest.
“These are all rumours though”, Dorian reminded while falling back to his seat. “But if they were true, it would be quite scandalous, yes.”
Faelynn made a mental note to bring this up with the Inquisition, and as she did that she remembered that it had now been almost 24 hours since she had shut down the phone and a wave of guilt and worry flowed over her. She should call them. Now.
“Well it’s been fun, crew, but I really gotta run now”, Faelynn started as she got up from the table and started pulling her coat on. “So Krem, either tomorrow morning or friday afternoon, right?”
Krem nodded with a smile as a response and after saying her goodbyes, Faelynn rushed back home, her thoughts racing between the phone hidden in the blue book about the traditions of the dalish, and the fact that she had now fully decided to keep in contact with Solas.
The whole ordeal with the Inquisition and the arson had been and would continue to require all of her attention, and adding another person in her life to lie about it all would be a lot.
Maybe even too much.
But the curiosity of knowing who the stranger behind the phone screen is, and the need of knowing what she had said to him at the bar, was still stronger than anything else that was going on at the moment.
“ Password? ”
“Look, I already told you I-”
The line clicked silent for the second time, making Faelynn send a string of curse words flying out of her mouth. The password had changed and since her phone had been shut off, she hadn’t answered the calls informing her of the new one. And since the phone numbers calling the line were encoded to furthermore ensure everyone’s anonymity, the duty officer had no idea it was her calling.
She pressed call again.
“ Password? ”
“Herald here don’t you dare shut the phone-” Faelynn started, taking a sharp breath as she expected the line to fall silent again, but the person stayed on.
“I was not reachable when the calls about new passwords came in. Could you please call me again?”
The person on the other end seemed to ponder about the situation for a while, before shortly after seemingly deciding that the risks were low and it probably was really her, and telling her they’d be calling in a second.
The phone rang a few seconds later.
“ New password. What was the one before? ”
“The watchful eye.”
“ Blackfoot .”
After the fourth try, she finally got to speak to the duty officer.
“ Herald, we’ve been worried. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you but you should be reachable at all times or at least report in daily. We didn’t hear from you yesterday. ”
“I know and I’m sorry I had some-”, she paused for a second. “-problems.”
“ Well hope your problems are bigger than the whole organization’s reputation being dragged in the mud right now. ”
Faelynn sighed and apologized again. “Can I get a status report?”
“ Full one or about the arson? ”
“Start with the arson and then give me everything.”
“ Well, the teams have been working together for a plan and it’s coming together, they would just need to talk to you and confirm some parts of it before we can start executing it, which should happen as soon as possible so clearing our name will be an easier task. ”
“Alright, what else?”
“ We have no new recruitees, obviously since we’re in a bad fucking place right now, the ones we had already are running errands with no problems, no internal conflicts meaning that so far no one actually believes that some of us were actually behind the arson, we’ve found only two new possible meeting locations since we are focusing on the arson, three meeting locations need to be discarded as they have been drawing too much attention lately, we’re training five new hackers so we can have them on the arson as well, we’ve gotten two more people working in the Court for inside information, and the Spymaster wants to implement a system where we spot out possible allies to the Inquisition and require their willingness to join the organization, but she would like to call a meeting on how to do that with still keeping up the anonymity we rely on. Should I continue, those were the only major things that have been going on .”
“No that’s enough, thank you. I assume Spymaster wants a private meeting with just me?”
“ Yes .”
“Okay, set up a meeting for the night for the whole inner circle to resolve the arson issue, and tell Spymaster I’ll set up a meeting with her later when the arson plan has been shaped and we have people working on it.”
The duty officer acknowledged Faelynn’s orders and ended the call, and Faelynn placed the phone back into the book while hoping that the inner circle had a solid plan in place while she pulled her phone from the back pocket of her jeans and opened her and Solas’ conversation.
Solas shifted in his chair uncomfortably, as he glanced at the notes he had been taking and well, there wasn’t much of them. The self-declaimed “Princess of Pop” he was interviewing was the most boring person on earth and seemed to have real troubles expressing herself, which was ironic considering she made her money expressing herself through music.
How the hell am I supposed to write anything about this?
“So, what made you want to start singing and making music in the first place?”
“Well, you know my parents, they’re really like, musical or whatever and-”, there was a brief pause as she blew yet another bubble from the bubblegum she had been chewing on for half an hour now. “- so I like, got it from them or, I don’t know, something like that I guess.”
“Right”, Solas forced a smile on his face as his tightened into a fist under the notebook. There was no point in prolonging this hell. “Well, I think I have enough material now. Thank you for taking the time for the interview.”
“Sure, whatever”, the girl smiled but didn’t move.
Solas raised his eyebrow as he closed the notebook and placed it into his backpack, making the girl look surprised.
“So I can like, go?”
“Yes, you can, like, go”, Solas smiled, the girl apparently missing the sarcastic tone in his voice completely as she cheerily said her goodbyes and disappeared to the busy streets outside the café.
Solas leaned back in his chair, taking a deep breath while closing his eyes.
What a waste of time.
He was about to collect his things and leave to edit the what little information he had managed to get from the “Princess of Pop”, to somehow try to turn it into an actual article, when the phone in his back pocket vibrated shortly.
hey grandpa, what are your plans for the week?
krem would like an interview
Solas stared at the screen in disbelief. Very rarely promises of interviews made in the late hours of the night in dark, noisy bars were being kept, and usually they were made more jokingly than any way else.
Really? I thought you were kidding about it.
i might have questionable morality at times but i keep the promises i make, buddy
There’s nothing I can’t cancel, Krem must have a tighter schedule than me.
yeah, was pretty pumped full of stuff
krem said either tomorrow morning around nine or friday parday afternoon around two
Tomorrow morning works perfectly.
great. you know the café a few blocks from the art uni, with the slogan ‘coffee, we got you covered’?
Bianca? Actually I’m sitting there right now, just had an interview.
oooh cool, anyone cool?
It was the “Princess of Pop”.
and here i was thinking that you were a respectable music journalist
Boss’s idea, not mine. I have no idea how to turn these quotes into an article.
good luck with your exciting quest, im sure youll get through it
with the wisdom you have gathered in your decades on earth
Thank you, young padawan, someday you too, will learn the secrets of this world.
hilarious grandpa, hilarious
Solas’s smile turned into a wrinkled forehead as he put the phone away. The idea of keeping in contact with the girl was, well, stupid, reckless, unadvised, to describe it shortly and could possibly lead both of them in danger. But on the other hand, she had proved herself to very useful, and deep down, Solas knew that he needed someone in the city to - not trust, but someone he could get information from. An associate. And the vallaslin circling the girl’s face inclined that she was actively protesting against the Chantry, making her a safe choice.
If only that face wasn’t as pretty as it was.
Solas got up, deep in his thoughts as he exited the café after leaving a heavy tip to the friendly barista, pondering his options as his feet hit the ground in a fast pace.
Faelynn put away the phone and sighed, mostly from relief. Two big things she had kinda been neglecting had been taken care of and a slight weight was lifted off her chest, making her realize just how much these things had been stressing her out. Still, the sense of forgetting something important had made its nest on the bottom of her stomach but she decided to ignore it and continue the painting on her living room wall.
She had decided to paint the recurring nightmare she seemed to be having about running away from the forest fire - her own way of meeting the problem head on instead of running away from it. At the center of the painting was a person, completed up to the waist in the motion of running away and on the background, the forest fire was drawing closer and closer.
Faelynn turned on some ambient music as she picked up the brush, deciding to work more on the background today, mixing a palette of cold reds and yellows for the fire and soon after making the first stroke of the brush, she fell into the comfortable trance on focusing on creating so intensely that the rest of the world seemed to just fade away.
Which this time, as she noticed around 5 hours later, was a very bad thing.
The deadline of an important painting analysis had been today and even though for once she had managed to complete a school assignment on time, she had forgotten about returning it, which normally would be no problem but the professor seemed to really dislike her, and turning in assignments late, and when it was about a late assignment and her, the professor would flunk her for sure.
She cursed aloud. With all the things in her mind with the arson and Solas and her friends, she had forgotten about the one important thing she had needed to do for school, and she hadn’t been doing that great with her studies lately anyway. One flunked course, especially this one that had been going on for half a year, would most likely mean that in order to catch up with everything to pass her year, she would have to start dedicating all her time for school.
And that couldn’t happen. Especially now with the Inquisition’s name down in the mud and everyone in the organization waiting for her to lead them out of it.
The paper needed to make its way in the professor’s office and it needed to make it there now.
sera shit i need ur help fuck
sure thing bestie wassup
*You changed ASSHAT’s id*
best person award
To: best person award
meet me at the school
To: best person award
To: best person award
and bring your lockpicks
From: best person award
ooooh mysterious AND illegal im so in be there in five
Faelynn stuffed the paper into her bag, threw on the first coat she saw and hurried to the school.
“Nice outfit, partner in crime,” Sera greeted her laughing as Faelynn arrived to the big grass field in front of the school, panting from the running, her colorful ensemble making her stand out in the darkness.
In retrospect, old colorful pajamas she used for painting were probably not the best choice when the goal was to break in somewhere unnoticed.
“Was in a bit of a hurry.”
“I- that’s - alright”, Sera managed to say while wiping tears from her face, making Faelynn roll her eyes as she headed to the front door.
“Hey peacock, might not wanna go through there”, Sera exclaimed after her and Faelynn turned around, raising an eyebrow. “There’s cameras you idiot, it’s like you’ve never broken in here before.”
“That’s probably because I haven’t”, Faelynn said while taking the few steps back to Sera, who was now looking at her like she had just declared that the Chantry was doing a great job.
After shaking her head in disbelief, Sera walked past Faelynn and led her to around the building, until seemingly finding a spot she approved of and throwing her backpack down, starting to go through it.
“We’re going in there”, Sera pointed at the second floor window without looking up from the contents of her bag.
“That’s pretty high up my friend”, Faelynn raised yet another eyebrow as Sera started to throw things out of her backpack in a frustration, to apparently find something specific, making Faelynn to pick up an object that had landed right in front of her feet. “You have a dagger in your bag?”
“Of course, I’m not a savage like- ahh there it is”, Sera grinned while dangling a rope with a hook attached to the other end of it in front of Faelynn’s face. “Oh and I wouldn’t touch the blade if I were you, there might be poison in it.”
“What the hell Sera”, Faelynn screamed as she dropped the dagger to the ground, merely an inch away from her right foot. “You have heard about cases right, where you put your sharp objects in so you don’t accidentally stab - or apparently poison - someone?”
“I mean it has a case”, Sera murmured while stuffing all her obscure belongings back into her backpack. “Somewhere.”
After she was done, Sera stood up with a grin on her face. “Alright, how was your rope climbing in P.E, Lavellan?”
“Are you kidding me”, Faelynn sighed but Sera had already managed to secure the hook to the edge of the building’s roof, winking at Faelynn as she started climbing up the rope like she had done it a thousand times before, which, she probably had.
Faelynn shook her head and grabbed the rope, and 20 minutes and three near death situations later, Sera, after waiting about 15 minutes, was helping her inside the building through the window.
“It wasn’t locked?”, Faelynn asked surprised as she landed on the floor, sitting down for a second to steady her breath.
“It’s the second floor window to the kitchen, what do ya think”, Sera laughed while closing the window behind them. “I know my ways around. Now, let’s return your paper, right?”
Sera apparently had a mental map about the positioning about all the cameras in the building, because why wouldn’t she have , as they made their way through the dark hallways and from time to time Sera grabbed Faelynn’s arm to pull her away to not show up on any of the surveillance tapes.
After a few detours so that they could exploit the blind spots of the cameras, they were standing in front of the professor’s door, Sera throwing her backpack on the floor and starting to go through it again, this time looking for her lockpicks.
“Could you do that a bit more quietly?”, Faelynn whispered as Sera was throwing stuff around.
“What are you talking about silly, there’s no one else here”, Sera laughed as she pulled the lockpicks out of the bag and started working on the lock.
A few seconds after Sera started working her magic on the lock, Faelynn heard noises down the hallway. “Sera”, she whispered in a slight panic. “I don’t think we’re alone here.”
Sera laughed again, but her fingers started moving around the lock a little bit faster. “Look, why would-”, she started, but then stopped to listen and now both of them could clearly hear footsteps approaching.
“Shit”, Sera whispered as she stopped picking the lock and grabbed her backpack. “That’s the most advanced lock I’ve ever seen in a professor’s door what the fuck. We need to go.”
Sera grabbed Faelynn’s arm and hurried a few doors forward, flung the one with the sign “Cleaning” right open and hurried in, pulling Faelynn after her who quickly closed the door behind them, almost falling onto Sera, or so she assumed since it was pitch black. They both held their breaths as the footsteps of the strangers approached them, stopping a few meters away from them.
“-no one else here?”
Faelynn thought both of the voices sounded so very familiar, but in the state of panic she was in right now, she had no way of connecting them to faces, or names, or anything really, as they heard a key turn in a lock and the strangers entering a room close to them.
another almost year long break, sorry my buddies, life is hectic. even though there might be long ass breaks, i will never abandon my fics. hope you liked the chapter!