“You! You knew the Champion personally.”
She had a special quality, a talent, to make the simplest statement sound like an accusation.
“Knew? I still do…” Varric looked rather unimpressed at the angry woman in front of him. “Has anyone ever told you that you come across as slightly hostile?”
She almost threw the book she was holding at him. Her arm twitched. She was clearly a woman who preferred fighting over talking. “I will give you hostile, dwarf, if you do not tell me what I want to know!”
Varric clicked his tongue. “Now, now, Seeker… ah, Cassandra, was it? No need to threaten an honest member of the merchant guild over a piece of literature.”
He could see she was still seething, but she seemed to be at least willing to give a less angry approach a try. “I simply need to know more about the Champion. It’s important that I find her.”
“Now, if you have actually read the book you should know that your people are largely at fault for what happened.” He narrowed his eyes at her. “Don’t you think the Chantry has done enough?”
Cassandra let out a frustrated growl. “The circumstances are… changing. And we need the Champion’s help, desperately.” She was pacing in front of him, clearly under a lot of stress. “I already have asked around nearly everywhere to try and get some information about the Champion. The results were… less than helpful,” she admitted.
Varric had his trademark grin on his face. “Oh really? Why don’t you tell me what you have heard and then I’ll see if I can fill in some of the gaps?”
She shook her head in annoyance. “There are no gaps to fill, everyone has plenty to say. It just… doesn’t make any sense,” she huffed. The dwarf gave her a curious look and she sighed. “Some people claim she was almost like an assassin, others say she was a mage.”
Varric’s eyebrows shot up at this. “Really now? That does sound confusing,” he agreed, his smirk growing bigger.
“Then people told me I should probably talk to her partner, but no one seems to agree on who that actually is?” Cassandra rolled her eyes as she remembered the many confusing accounts she had heard. “She had a mage in the undercity who may or may not have been with her, and apparently a pirate general? And people who claim she was a mage say there was a forbidden romance with someone very unsuited, which sounds like something straight out of some of your other books.” She couldn’t see Varric smile as she went on. “Oh, and my personal favorite: Apparently she was in love with an elf that glowed in the moonlight… I mean, really?”
Varric had a hard time keeping a somewhat straight face by now. “Seeker, perhaps I should explain something…” But Cassandra seemed to have no mind to listen to him, finally getting out all the things that frustrated her.
“Apparently she was part of the mage rebellion, helping the Chantry explosion along while somehow working for the Knight-Commander,” she went on. “Penniless while living in a mansion in Hightown and apparently owning a mine that produced dragons, and a brothel. It is ridiculous!”
“That doesn’t really sound like a person you go to for help, right?” Varric prodded carefully.
“No it doesn’t,” Cassandra admitted. “But the Chantry is falling apart and the Divine needs help. And Hawke was our best bet so far.” She sounded almost defeated and Varric was already cursing himself for what he was about to do.
“The Divine, you say?” he asked and the Seeker nodded. “Ah crap, I wish you wouldn’t have said that. Now I’ve got to be all honest and helpful to you and I really, really don’t want to,” he sighed. “Alright, ask your questions, about which one do you want to know?”
A spark lit up in Cassandra’s eyes as she realized he was finally willing to cooperate. She was already phrasing a question in her head when something gave her pause. “What do you mean by ‘which one’ ?” she asked carefully. “The Champion of Kirkwall, of course.”
Varric gave her an almost devious grin. “See, this is where everyone else might have lost you. Those stories you’ve heard? They seem a bit much for a single person, right?” Cassandra’s eyes went wide as he continued. “All those contradictions would make for one very weird person - or for two pretty regular ones, I suppose…”
Cassandra didn’t seem to be sure if she should even believe him. For a moment, she just narrowed her eyes and looked overall threatening. Varric wasn’t sure if she was trying to intimidate him or if that was actually just her normal face. He strongly suspected it was the latter one.
“You are telling me that there were two Champions of Kirkwall, both named Hawke?” she asked, skepticism dripping from every word.
“Sisters,” he agreed. “Twins actually, though they weren’t very much alike at all, you could say.”
“So let me get this straight,” Cassandra stared him down. “So one of them actually was a mage and the other wasn’t?”
Varric simply nodded.
“That makes… a lot of sense actually.” Cassandra seemed to deliberate something, probably going over all the different stories she heard again, seeing them under a new light. “So one of them supporting the rebellion is actually true?”
“Yes, she did.”
“And her sister worked with the templars?” She did seem to find that harder to understand. “They weren’t that close then?”
Varric didn’t know if he should laugh or cry at that. The events hadn’t been so long ago that he could have forgotten the tension and the emotions that were around back then. “On the contrary, Seeker. They are exceptionally close.”
The Seeker seemed to be even more confused than before. “Yet the mage was fighting for her freedom and her sister was openly supporting the templars? That doesn’t strike one as particularly ‘close’ .”
This time Varric did laugh out loud, much to Cassandra’s dismay. “Oh, you got it all wrong, Seeker. Listen closely, because this is where it gets complicated!”