Evelyn woke up early. The sun had barely begun to light up the room she shared with her husband Cullen and their dog, who they both lovingly referred to as “Pup,” which felt silly since there wasn’t a hint of pup left in the beast.
Cassandra was up early again training the new Seekers, ready to battle whatever trouble might still face them when the time came, though Evelyn didn’t think it was necessary to have them clanking swords and yelling commands at such an ungodly hour, especially after the number of drinks they all had during a particularly raunchy game of Wicked Grace as they welcomed Varric and Hawke back to Skyhold.
Cullen stirred and opened his eyes as Evelyn got up and began dressing.
“What in Andraste’s name is going on out there?” he complained, rubbing his temples. “Does the woman ever take a break?”
“She wouldn’t even if I commanded it. I think she secretly likes to rub it in that she can still function after a night at the bar,” Evelyn laughed, buttoning up her blouse.
“I think it’s because she was humiliated in Wicked Grace. You know she hates it when Varric bests her, and now that Dorian is gone, she almost always loses.” Cullen smirked, still lying in bed, with his arm lazily hanging off the side, scratching Pup behind the ears.
Evelyn sighed. She missed Dorian deeply. Though she loved all of her advisors, Dorian just held a special place in her heart. They had a deep bond through friendship (and maybe a little crushing on Evelyn’s part) that not even Cullen could compete with. Evelyn had started hearing less and less from Dorian as he had finally begun to embrace his position back home in Tevinter. In their last conversation, several weeks ago, Dorian had mentioned meeting somebody new. The name escaped Evelyn, even though it was making waves through Ventus, which Dorian rather enjoyed, much to his mother’s dismay. He promised he’d be in contact more often, but, yet again, Evelyn was left waiting.
Cullen and Evelyn made their way down to the dining hall, with Pup in tow. The dining hall was much warmer than the rest of the castle, with its many fireplaces and body heat from all the visitors, and it was comforting on a cold morning. Evelyn sat at the head of the table, and Cullen sat to her right. Evelyn loved to stare out to the yard, seeing the hustle and bustle of the early morning workers, restocking food and drinks, watering the plants and cleaning up discarded items from the soldiers, who had a habit of just dropping their gear wherever was convenient, like children. Evelyn noted that she’d need to talk to Cassandra about that again, as it shouldn’t be up to the caretaking staff to chase down the soldiers and return their belongings.
Josephine strolled out of her office, and took a place to the left of Evelyn. Pup lazily stood up and walked over to her, resting his slobbery chin on her silk dress.
“Inquisitor, it’s most improper to have a dog at the table,” she said nervously, staring down at Pup.
“Josephine, Pup is part of the family and it’s time you embrace him,” Cullen said, staring daggers at her. “Here boy,” he called, keeping his eye on Josephine, smirking as she hastily wiped the drool off herself with a tissue.
Slowly, the rest of the crew made their way to breakfast: Iron Bull, looking like he hadn’t slept yet, Varric, still with lipstick smudges leading down his neck from Wicked Grace dares, Hawke, looking less than happy about being awake at all, and Vivienne, who had arrived midway through the shenanigans, looking as graceful as ever. The banter was flowing, Varric and Hawke were arguing about old times, while Cassandra ignored everyone, as Varric had given her an unpublished copy of the latest installment of Hard in Hightown.
A stomping noise came from the garden which made Pup turn his head in curiosity. Evelyn looked up from her meal and called Cassandra’s name.
“Cassandra, aren’t you going to let those poor recruits take a break? They’ve been going since the crack of dawn!”
“Those aren’t mine, Inquisitor. Cullen, do you have anyone training up today?” Cassandra said, looking confused.
“No, I don’t,” he said, getting out of his chair and reaching for his sword.
Tension filled the room. It had been so long since anyone or anything had really posed a threat to the Inquisition that most had let their guard down, including Evelyn, as much as she would hate to admit it. She reached for her staff and began heading for the door, the others following quickly behind her.
“I hear horses, maybe 10, and I’m guessing 20 to 30 soldiers. We have enough people to easily take them on if my guess is right,” Cullen muttered next to her. “But who would be coming to attack us?” he wondered out loud.
The marching outside came to a halt. Everyone waited in anticipation for the first sign of a fight.
“GIVE ME MY SON,” a woman called from behind the gate. Evelyn and Cullen looked at each other, completely confused.
“DO YOU HEAR ME, INQUISITOR? HAND OVER MY SON NOW!” the woman screamed again.
“Lower the gates!” Evelyn shouted, waiting in anticipation to see who this mad woman was. As far as Evelyn knew, she’d not kidnapped anyone’s son.
The open gates revealed an old but stunning woman. Her lips were pursed and there was fury in her eyes. Something looked familiar about her, but Evelyn couldn’t quite place it. The woman stomped towards her, with her small army behind her. Though she wasn’t tall, she had a large presence, enough so that Cullen didn’t take his hand off his sword and Pup let out a low growl.
The woman stopped and sucked in a breath, ready to shout again, when Evelyn took a step forward.
“We are holding nobody’s son hostage, and I’d appreciate you not yelling in my courtyard,” Evelyn stated sternly.
“My son ran off and played with your crew, shirking his duties in Tevinter, and now we finally had him back, he’s run off back here again. He cannot do this, he has responsibilities!” she shrieked.
“Are…are you talking about Dorian?!” Evelyn said, stepping even closer, realizing exactly who the woman looked like.
“Of course I am! He left with his…friend a few weeks ago, and has not been in contact since! I could only presume he was off playing a hero in Skyhold again.”
“Lady Thalrassian, I haven’t heard from Dorian, and I had no idea he was coming to visit,” Evelyn said, eyes wide with sudden concern for her friend.
Lady Thalrassian eyed Cullen, as he prepared tea for her and Evelyn. “Dorian loves you, why did you pick THAT brute over him?” She pointed at Cullen, as he attempted to ignore the woman’s rudeness.
“Lady Thalrassian...Aquinea, if I may, Dorian and I love each other deeply, but we’re not in love with each other and it breaks his heart every time you refuse to accept him for who he is,” Evelyn said curtly.
Cullen cleared his throat to get their attention and handed them both their teas. Cullen leaned in and whispered that he was just outside the door if she needed him, and walked out of the room. Leaving the two women to stew in the tension of ill feelings they had for each other.
“He was doing well, being an ambassador and a new Magister kept him busy. He seemed to enjoy it, ruffling the feathers of all the old conservative families in the Imperium, then he went public with his current…” Aquinea paused.
“Boyfriend,” Evelyn interjected.
“Yes. He was a guard for Dorian. He was infatuated with him, much like your guard is with you...”
“Well I’d hope so, seeing as I married him!” Evelyn laughed. “What was his name? I don’t recall it.”
“His name is Alarion. An elf. Oh, his choices, Evelyn!” she said, putting her hands to her face.
“Hmm. The name doesn’t sound familiar, but perhaps we can look further into it. Whatever's going on, we need to find Dorian. Please make yourself at home and if you think of anything else, please come to me right away,” Evelyn said, standing up.
“Thank you. Evelyn, despite it all, he’s my son and I care deeply for him.”
“You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t,” Evelyn forced herself to smile, and then left Aquinea by herself.
By the late afternoon, Hawke, Varric, Vivienne, Bull and Cullen were all prepared to set out with Evelyn to search for Dorian first thing in the morning. Josephine was contacting Leliana to find anything she could from her network of contacts.
They stood around the war table, discussing which route Dorian would have taken to get to Skyhold.
“There’s no way Sparkler would have gone to Kirkwall. Not huge fans of Tevinter, and our people would've noticed a strange mage. Everyone's still a little on edge after…after what happened,” Varric said, eyeing Hawke, whose face had hardened a little, thinking about Anders.
“So he had to go through Orlais then,” Cullen said, leaning into the map.
“Well, not necessarily, he could have gone down through Nevarra and sailed towards us,” Josephine suggested.
Bull and Evelyn both began laughing. “Dorian…on a BOAT!” Bull howled. Josephine rolled her eyes and jotted something down on her tablet.
“He would have gone through Orlais to show Alarion I’m guessing, catch up with old friends before meeting up with us here,” Evelyn said, staring at the map. “I say we head out tomorrow and start working our way to Orlais. Hopefully, we get some news before then.”
Evelyn stared at the war table a little longer, lost in the thought that something could have happened to her dear friend and she never even realized he was in danger.