Passed between hands in sooty alleyways from Kirkwall’s Darktown to a room on the fourth floor of the Redhat Inn in western Denerim, near Petal Street. The paper is ragged, and stained with saltwater on the righthand side, but the writing, blocky and careful, is legible:
A mark kept a logbook. It is almost too stupid to trust. But this page might interest you.
In the same parcel, a piece of higher-quality parchment, a list of contacts, sales and prices. Circled in red ink:
Chadwick Fewell, Denerim, 8,000 sovereigns/month in form of paintings and assorted antiquities. No live cargo. Delivers to Nevarra, Marches, Ferelden.
Tucked behind a loose brick on the wall of the Chantry on Petal street:
F.’s information was good. Chad’s been wearing some cloaks that he really oughtn’t be able to afford recently. Ermine fur and sapphires. Egregiously ostentatious.
I believe the documents are being kept in a study next to the library on the third floor. If you or a Friend can manage some way in for me, I should be able to work some mischief. I’m not damaging any decent books, though. Stealing, perhaps. But not damaging.
Attached to an arrow shot into the window shutter of a room rented indefinitely above the kitchen of the Redhat Inn:
Don’t use our real names you daft nob. Haven’t you ever read a spy novel?
Was nice work with the water, though. Don’t tell me how you made it stay in the room after they opened the window. That was creepy shite to watch
You wrote everything down before you did the magic whatever, right? Let’s get drinks. I’ll buy you one for the look on the butler’s face, but you’re getting the rest
The latest entry in a journal tucked under the pillow of Underfootman Dewey in the Fewell household, written hastily, with poor spelling but great enthusiasm:
Miss Cecilia smiled at me to-day! Shes been so unhappy, but I don’t know why. She wont confid in me of course, Im just a servent, but she doesnt eat much at brekfast anymore and doesnt visit her friends much ether.
Ser sacked Etta since he thinks shes the one let someone in the window, and Cook says theyll hire sell-swords. Were not a big house so I dont know what Ser thinks theyll do, but he dosent like that someones been in his home without him noing.
The dinner bells rung so Im away till tomorrow. I should practice my letters more if I ever want to be a butler. Sums too. Carros is always riting.
Andraste bless, Dewey
A contract, written in triplicate and signed by Ser Chadwick Fewell and Lt. Cremisius Aclassi on the 8th of Kingsway, witnessed by Denerim City Notary Tianna Lorrain:
The mercenary company “The Bull’s Chargers” are hereby engaged to be employed by one Ser Chadwick Fewell for the space of no less than three months and no more than five months. Payment will be dispensed weekly to the employees by the employer at a rate of 40 sovereigns per week for each member of The Bull’s Chargers company employed, the number of which will not exceed 10. Upon termination of employment, Ser Fewell will award the company 1,500 sovereigns, separate from all personal gifts, lodgings, meals, or non-monetary forms of payment.
In the interval of their employment with Ser Fewell, The Iron Bull and the soldiers under his direct command will accept no employment from other parties, damage none of Ser Fewell’s property, and guard his home faithfully, honestly, and with discretion. A daily report will be prepared by Lieutenant Aclassi of occurrences on the premises, and actions taken by members of The Bull’s Chargers to investigate, mitigate and apprehend all trespassers and mischief-makers.
Slipped into the pocket of a cloaked man the writer bumped into on the street:
New swords from out of town. no one knows them or their names. Keep watching but be careful, especially the little stabby elf that sits on the back wall. Old Friends are safer than new right now.
Written in neat, military lines and a simple cipher developed and used by the Bull’s Chargers:
There’s something fishy going on here. I know you’ve noticed it too. The servants are jumpy and some are talking about Red Jenny, but won’t say why they think Jennies would flood Fewell’s study or steal his books. Fewell said something about an assassin, but no reasoning. Could just be panic. He’s not the most honest merchant in Denerim, but as far I can tell no one would actually want to kill him.
Have you talked to that Underfootman yet? Or Carrow the butler? Butlers always know.
Delivered to a room in the Redhat Inn by a nervous urchin. The inconsistent punctuation suggests anxiety, or distraction.
How many books did you take? You’re stupid if you want to sell the ones with inscriptions. Chad’s got people watching th usual fences
We need to figure out a way to really hit him hard. Messing up his books isn’t enough. Not for moving slave money.
But until we do, stop staying so close to the nob’s house! His fancy guards might learn your face. I got you the job so you could watch, but Jaycee and Jana will cut you out if you don’t actually sell the flowers. Go to a different street sometimes.
The handwriting somehow conveys indignation and exasperation. Perhaps it’s the aggressive nature of the punctuation:
I’m not selling the books. I’m keeping them. To read.
I’ve been careful, I swear. I know most of their faces now and none have even looked at me twice. They’re mostly elves and humans. I’ve seen a few dwarves, and one Vashoth. Possibly Tal Vashoth, but I don’t know how I’d learn that without asking. It’s a burly group; they’re not simple houseguards. They look more suited to swinging large swords and less like they should be leaning on walls in town. The Vashoth in particular. I’ll wait to tell you about his arms in person, because I want to see your face.
Sealed with a small amount of purple wax and scented gently with lavender perfume, delivered with the morning post at a stately townhouse in Upper Denerim:
I’m sorry that I haven’t been to tea in so long. There have been awful goings-on at home. I can’t meet my own eyes in the mirror, how could I bear to smile in public! I feel like I should confess myself before Andraste, but I cannot even utter the words aloud.
Nonetheless, I must unburden myself to you, my most trusted friend. I know that you will speak of it to no one, just as I know you will have some advice for me. My father has been laundering money for slavers. Part of my inheritance is blood money-- the paintings, the statues, the Elven baubles that he sells, I don’t know how much of it is illicit, but I can’t wear dresses I know have been bought at the cost of others’ lives.
Marcelline, you must help me, for I don’t know what I am to do now.
With a heavy heart,
your friend, Cecilia Fewell
Scribbled on reappropriated paper that may once have been a Chantry pamphlet:
Were’nt you reading those Hightown books? Why’d you steal more? How many books do you need?
Don’t get too close to any of the guards, dafty! I’ve seen his arms too. He could rip you apart. And he might, because he’s Tal Vashoth, which you’d know if you did any listening and didn’t just drool at him.
Stay clear of the stabby elf and the elfy elf, they seem the sharpest. It would really mess up my plans if you got killed. Arse.
Written in the margins of an advertisement for a new “all-ladies theatre” on Petal Street.
I was only reading those because Mateo recommended them. Don’t mention them again, and don’t mention him, either.
I’m being careful, I promise. I think I might be able to get back into the third floor soon. They don’t seem to watch the garden during Chad’s fancy dinners. I could swipe a cake or two, I think. They’re always stupidly small.
And I do not “drool.”
In the Charger’s cipher, on paper provided by the Fewell household:
You keep working on getting Fewell to talk, I think I’m finally getting somewhere with the underfootman. I knew we shouldn’t have taken a job on that Orlesian’s say-so. Everyone’s way too close-mouthed.
Don’t forget to keep actually guarding the place, alright? I feel like someone’s watching us.
A note partially smudged with mustard and folded very small. Maybe that’s why it fell out of someone’s pocket not long before Grim picked it up and brought it to Krem:
I don’t care what books you do or don’t read, but I’m not helping you carry any of them when you move.
Elfs drink with me, but won’t talk about why they got hired. Might not know why. They don’t seem like they’d like Chad’s life choices much more than we do. You could get a closer look at the arms, maybe? He seems in charge like. But CAREFUL
An accompanying note from Krem to the Iron Bull:
They’re not professionals, but I’ve already talked to Skinner and Dalish and either they’re not telling me something, or this S. person covered their tracks well. We should all be on high alert.
Keep a knife close. I don’t think they’re actually talking about books.
A short note in quick, excited handwriting, barely legible:
Forget trying to sneak me in, the weeks of carrying this Blighted basket have finally paid off! I sold every single one of my flowers to Chad’s cook, and she wants me to come back tomorrow with more. I have a genuine reason to be in the house. The kitchen and servants’ courtyard at least. And why? Because I take pride in my work. Because I’m the best flowerseller in Denerim. Because I worked out a spell to keep the flowers from wilting. Is Ferelden civilized enough to patent magic? Because this is genius, if I do say so myself.
In the margins of one duplicate of the Chargers’ daily report:
Why am I the one who has to tell you to stay focused? We’re here to guard Fewell’s house, not chat up delivery boys.
In the margins of the report one week later:
We are also not here to give delivery boys handjobs in the kitchen gardens, Chief. Maker’s balls.
On the back of the next day’s watch assignments:
Relax, Krem Brulee.
You’re the only one who even knew we were there. And if you’d stuck to your patrol, you wouldn’t have known either.
He’s a nice guy. A little down on his luck, but he’s got hidden depths. Also, he knows more than he’s letting on about Fewell’s house. I think he might have seen something.
A balled up scrap of paper thrown through a window:
You’re fecking daft. Stop reading so many books about spies. Or romance. Or something.
In carefully dignified handwriting:
Would you like me to enumerate all of the foolish decisions that you’ve made over the time we’ve known each other?
I believe I could fill four pages, at the very least, but I will say only this: there is a difference between “minstrels” and “bards.”
A letter thrown into the fire of the Chargers’ temporary barracks an hour after it was begun:
On pristine white paper, in a severe and economical hand:
The maids were whispering about Jennies again this morning. If you cannot control them, I shall have to take action. The house is perfectly safe under the Bull’s Chargers. No assassin or unproven urban legend is getting past those brutes.
In the Chargers’ cipher, on the back of a report:
You know your flowerseller’s the last scion of a noble Tevinter house? Are you trying to find your way into a bad novel?
On a paper that has seen better days. The words themselves have been scratched out in places:
Yes, Krem. I do know. He’s also a friend of Red Jenny, and casing Fewell’s house for something.
On paper carefully folded and creased. The handwriting is painstakingly correct:
Your concern for Miss Fewell is well-meant, I know. But the matters of our employers are not ours to share with those outside the household, or to gossip about amongst ourselves downstairs. The Chargers are a temporary addition to our household only. They should never be privileged above the comfort of the family.
Amiable as the young man may be, kindly refrain from sharing personal details of the family’s life with Lieutenant Aclassi. I know you have ambitions to higher positions within the household. Allow me to share a piece of wisdom with you: your position in the world, and your relationship to others, is paramount. A good butler knows precisely when a “Ser” becomes a “Serah.”
A letter, burnt to crisp in a flash of white-hot magical fire:
I believe there are some things I need to tell you
In a cipher somewhat more complicated than the Chargers usually use:
Meet me at that pub we went to that one time at 8th bell. I figured out the shit that Fewell’s been keeping from us. Bring your flowerseller if you can. Tell him Sera will be there too.
A letter left on the pillow of a bed in the Redhat Inn, written in a slightly shaking hand:
Maker help me if you aren’t there, but I’ve gone to the Gnawed Noble with the Iron Bull, and I don’t think it’s just for drinks and to talk about our feelings. If I don’t come back, you may presume me to be dead or missing, and if you find my body, you are allowed to say “I told you so” once. Any more and I will haunt you. We should have come up with secret phrases. The poncy vint flies at 8.
If I die, please take care of my books.
A piece of paper, written on by many people, with many sentences scratched out. A rough drawing of the Fewell townhouse takes up a large portion of the page, with weakness pointed out, windows circled, and the Chargers’ patrol rotations sketched out.
Shortly after completion, the paper on which The Plan was written was magically incernated, and all members of the gathering dispersed. Some to the Fewell estate, to continue standing guard, some back onto the streets of Denerim to spread the word to the Friends of Red Jenny, and two to an indefinitely rented room in the Redhat Inn, full of books.
A manifest for last month will come in the next week
10 times? 50 times
Wait until Chargers’ contract is up
Night of: Krem, Skinner, Dalish, distract kitchen staff, servants. TIB, in back garden, leaves side gate open for Dorian, Sera, Friends. Chargers watch family bedrooms while Friends empty Fewell vault of things on manifest
leave note: suck it chad!
In morning, before the theft is discovered, TIB and Krem terminate contract
Chargers publicly leave city
Jennies put a copy of the manifest on every desk in the house- Chad, Cecilia, butler, cook
Next day, deliver manifest + at least two items on it, to Queen Anora
how?? Leave that to Jenny
Part of a royal proclamation, read aloud at the sentencing of Chadwick Fewell:
By order of Queen Anora Therin, sovereign ruler of Ferelden, Ser Chadwick Fewell is stripped of his assets and holdings, and exiled from all lands held by the nation and by her Majesty. Having been found guilty of crimes of treason, aiding in the sale of humans, elves and dwarves as slaves, and facilitating the movement of criminal persons and wealth across Fereldan borders.
His assets not seized by the Crown are bestowed upon his heir Cecillia Fewell, in the understanding that she is innocent of her father’s crimes and a loyal subject to the Queen.
A letter delivered by raven to a small attic in Eastern Denerim, with a sprig of mountain honeysuckle folded between the pages:
We fought a giant yesterday! I wish you had been there. I do enjoy using magic again, even if everyone calls it “archery” by mistake. We’re working on it.
If you send a letter to the Lion’s Rest along the Imperial highway and address it to the Chargers, Bull says we’ll get it, but I can’t imagine how, because we’ve passed three inns with that name already since we’ve come into Orlais.
Do you like the flower? It reminded me of the stuff that grew by the Chantry. We passed an old house overgrown with it, and I mentioned I liked the smell. I’m sending this to you because Bull picked far more than Stitches would ever need for any sort of poultice.
And yes, because I’m sure you’ll want to know, Bull and I have been getting along very well. Better than that. I do wish you’d come with us, if only because this is too embarrassing to write. I’m a little worried that I might have fallen in love. I haven’t much paper, so I’ll just remind you again to look after my books. I will come back for them eventually.
your Friend Dorian Pavus, of the Bull’s Chargers