An establishment of such repute as The Hanged Man deserved further investigation. In her own explorations of the city, and any names which might be worth knowing, Leliana had time and time again heard of this tavern and a selection of its resident patrons. One in particular was reputed to be an excellent story teller. Now where else would one find truths than in stories? Yes, The Hanged Man warranted a visit.
Stepping into the large main room, Leliana did not hesitate in her stride, noting the layout of the area at a glance. She approached the bar and ordered a plate of the stew, apparently widely revered throughout the city, before taking a seat at a table. There was a slight bristling amongst the other customers, and she deduced that she had sat in a seat usually reserved from someone in particular. Now, what to do? She had no intention whatsoever of relocating without due cause. Nevertheless, if this person should make themselves known, should she indulge in a little mischief and pretend to be other than she was, or should she admit to an honest mistake?
Intriguing as the possibilities might be, it remained a decision which could not be preempted. She would have to wait and see how the situation unfolded. Until then, Leliana made herself comfortable at this table which was not hers, and waited - be it for the stew or the mystery patron.
Guardsman Donnen Brennokovic watched the redhead walk into the tavern as if she owned it. She was trouble; he could tell that at a glance, but she was gorgeous enough to be worth a fair amount of trouble. But what was she doing here?
Varric had known within hours of her arrival that one of the companions of the Hero of Ferelden was in town, and her little stunt with the Orlesian minstrel and the dog had all of Lowtown buzzing. Less well known had been her visit to the Gallows, and his informant in the market hadn't been able to get close enough to hear what she had to say to the Knight-Captain, though they did say that he'd looked like a man who'd just found half a maggot in his meat.
So … what was she doing in the Hanged Man? And at his table, no less? Shit, he hoped someone hadn't given her that line about the stew. He was pretty sure that today's mystery meat had been pulled off the knacker's cart that morning.
Only one way to find out. Leaving the porch outside his suite, he made his way down to the common room. “Is this seat taken?” he asked as he pulled the chair out and settled in it, knowing good and well that it wasn't. It was Hawke's chair.
“If anyone told you that the stew was good, or even edible, they lied,” he informed her, seeing Norah on her way with bowl in hand. “Booze is the only thing safe to consume here.”
So many did not realise just how much was revealed by the simplest of gestures. Reclining in her chair, perfectly at ease, Leliana cast her eye over the customers in the tavern as they continued their conversations with one another. Oh, they were very much still aware of her. A swift glances there, a murmured conversations here; but none were prepared to approach her directly to enquire who she was and what she might wish.
All of that changed in a moment. When a dwarven man appeared on the staircase leading to the available rooms, there was not one person in that tavern who did not sit up a little straighter. Biting the inside of her cheek in amusement, Leliana allowed her eyes to drift towards the newcomer, recognising in his features the description of one Varric Tethras.
With the same confidence as Leliana had projected, Varric strode up to the table and pulled out a chair. "Is this seat taken?" he asked, sitting down even as he offered the question. So. She was sitting in the chair usually taken by Varric and he was sitting in the chair usually taken by... No, she would be hazarding guesses to state a name. Nevertheless, it was clear that this table and those who sat at it were bound in some way to one another.
Every eye was upon them. How Varric responded to Leliana now would mark how she should be treated by his various allies as well as his various enemies. The question which intrigued Leliana was with which it was wiser to be associated.
“If anyone told you that the stew was good, or even edible, they lied,” Varric declared, watching as the barmaid approached with a steaming bowl of stew in her hand. "Booze is the only thing safe to consume here.”
The woman arrived at the table and set down the bowl in front of Leliana with barely more than a murmured remark. Smiling at the barmaid, Leliana took up her spoon and dipped it into the stew before swirling it around, mixing up the various pieces of... somethings. Her gaze flicked to Varric before she raised the spoon to her mouth with deliberation and care, taking the time to blow against it to prevent scalding. A glint entered her eye a mere moment before she ate the mouthful of stew, curious as to whether Varric had lied.
Varric had not been lying.
It took every measure of her extensive training for Leliana not to show any sign of displeasure or disgust as she chewed and eventually swallowed the mouthful. There were some muttered approving noises from across the tavern. She had won over some of the locals, it would seem.
"I thank you for your warning," Leliana spoke at last, running her tongue lightly around her teeth. She wondered if she might ever rid her mouth of the taste. "It is always a pleasure to meet someone who demonstrates good will within moments of meeting." A clever tactic, too. Now she would be more inclined to believe what he said. Maybe. "I have heard your name mentioned often whilst I have been in Kirkwall, Varric. It is a pleasure to meet you in person."
Last Edit: Jul 21, 2017 13:52:34 GMT -5 by Leliana
The woman regarded him bemusedly as he took a seat and warned her about the stew, then smiled at Norah as she set the bowl on the table, which earned her a grunt from Kirkwall's version of Miss Congeniality.
She studied the stuff for a long moment, pushing it around with her spoon before raising a bite to her lips. Varric didn't try to stop her; some people just had to learn the hard way. Then, too, Hanged Man Stew was a rite of passage of sorts among certain circles in Kirkwall; that she'd had the moxie to do it after being warned clearly won her a few points among the patrons.
Her expression was priceless. Almost exactly what Varric imagined someone would look like at a high society event if the person next to them broke wind in a silent but smelly manner. But she chewed and swallowed dutifully.
"I thank you for your warning." Her voice was a pleasure to listen to, the light Orlesian accent infusing the Common with a musical lilt. "It is always a pleasure to meet someone who demonstrates good will within moments of meeting."
“I wouldn't let my worst enemy eat that swill unawares,” he disagreed, waving Norah over again. “Ale for me,” he told her, “And for the lady?” He looked to the redhead inquiringly. “Wine, perhaps?” Horse piss would be an improvement over the stew, and Corff even kept a couple of bottles under the counter for assholes who got too drunk to tell the difference, but he wouldn't be pulling it out for this customer.
"I have heard your name mentioned often whilst I have been in Kirkwall, Varric," she told him. "It is a pleasure to meet you in person."
“The pleasure is all mine,” he replied expansively, “but you have me at a disadvantage, Madam.” A lie. He did that a lot, but he was curious as to what Leliana thought she knew of him, so he wasn't going to offer up any freebies.
Accepting the offer of wine from Varric, Leliana made her initial introduction. It was always telling how someone reacted to such a bold assertion of identity, some panicked while others were flattered, but Varric was far too astute to be anything other than mildly surprised.
“The pleasure is all mine, but you have me at a disadvantage, Madam.”
How clever; to be able to balance the inevitability of his reputation throughout Kirkwall yet not succumb to the lure of his ego was a talent which was uncommon. The smile which Leliana bestowed upon him was genuine; oh, she did not trust him, not yet and maybe never, but she liked him.
"If that was true, Varric, I do not think you would admit as much," she replied, pushing aside the bowl of stew. A master as she was within the Grand Game, even Leliana could not summon the ability to mask just how awful the food tasted. "But I thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself. So very few seem to require me to do so." Her reputation was little more than another tool to be used in whatever manner best suited her purpose. She very much doubted that someone as connected as Varric knew nothing of the Hero, his companions or the fact that one of the Hero's companions was in Kirkwall. But these were the games they were committed to play, no?
"My name is Leliana." She paused, waiting as the barmaid brought their order of drinks to the table, before continuing. "I am known for accompanying the Hero of Ferelden during the Blight. Now, as then, I do the work of the Maker. I had thought you may be able to help me in that regard." She did not flatter herself that Varric did not already know of her visit to the Gallows. But she doubted that he knew the entirety of the matter.
His profession of ignorance earned him a warm but knowing smile. "If that was true, Varric, I do not think you would admit as much," Leliana told him, nudging the bowl to one side in a display of good instincts for self preservation. "But I thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself. So very few seem to require me to do so." Words that might have sounded arrogant coming from someone else sounded almost wistful.
"My name is Leliana,” she went on, breaking off as Norah sat their drinks on the table and swept away the coin that Varric laid down. He didn't bother asking for change. "I am known for accompanying the Hero of Ferelden during the Blight. Now, as then, I do the work of the Maker. I had thought you may be able to help me in that regard."
He didn't have to feign surprise at that remark, and he couldn't help a chuckle. “Not sure who you've been talking to, but that's not exactly one of my spheres of influence,” he told her, shaking his head. His parents had retained their reverence for the ancestors, and Bartrand had worshiped money, but Varric considered himself agnostic, at best.
She succeeded in surprising him. A worthy accomplishment in and of itself, no? "Not sure who you've been talking to," Varric remarked with a chuckle, "but that's not exactly one of my spheres of influence.” A shake of his head emphasised the words.
Accepting the drink which had been ordered for her, Leliana sat back in her chair and took a sip, grateful to rid her mouth of the taste of the stew. Worryingly though, it was only a momentary respite. What in the name of the Maker had she eaten?
So perhaps a little mischief was required to distract from the instinctive urge to think through all the poisons which may have laced the dish. "Oh?" she lifted a brow. So many people were far too literal when she talked of doing the Maker's work. She very much doubted that Varric was one such person though. "Perhaps that is why I have been sent here, Varric. So I might convert you to the Chant of Light." She had no such intentions, but why not tease a little? "Although I am curious as to what you do consider to be your spheres of influence."
"Oh?" One eyebrow arched delicately, though the slight tightening around her mouth suggested that the aftertaste was kicking in. At least she hadn't eaten enough for the really fun effects to start up in six or seven hours. Or maybe she had. Results varied with The Stew. He'd have to ask her later. If there was a later.
"Perhaps that is why I have been sent here, Varric,” she suggested. “So I might convert you to the Chant of Light." If he'd thought she was serious, he might have started getting worried; she didn't have a reputation for giving up or playing fair, but the teasing smile that made it past the moue of incipient nausea reassured him. "Although I am curious as to what you do consider to be your spheres of influence."
Smooth, indeed. “I'm just a simple storyteller,” he assured her. “I write books; maybe you've read a few? Hard In Hightown? The Dasher's Men? Darktown's Deal?” Not that he expected her to buy it, but there were steps in the dance. “But I've lived in Kirkwall all my life. It's the setting for a lot of my novels; I do my research.”
"I'm just a simple storyteller,” Varric insisted with the same casualness Leliana had used to introduced her question. "I write books; maybe you've read a few? Hard In Hightown? The Dasher's Men? Darktown's Deal?"
"I did not realise Hard in Hightown was your work, Varric," she remarked, having entertained herself by reading a few pages while browsing through the various shops within Kirkwall. "It is quite the adventure, no? I cannot believe that Kirkwall alone can provide inspiration for such a story."
He took it in his stride. "But I've lived in Kirkwall all my life. It's the setting for a lot of my novels; I do my research."
Research was the key term. "How fascinating," Leliana observed, leaning forward as she placed her elbows on the table, supporting her chin in her hands. "What kind of research do you uncover? You must speak with a great many interesting people." She did not expect him to answer truthfully, but this was a necessary part of the exchange. For one to witness firsthand how the other dealt with the questions directed at them. Just because she did not know Varric did not mean that Leliana was unaware of his reputation. Then, before Varric could plead ignorance, she added, "your spheres of influence depend upon it, no?"
"I did not realise Hard in Hightown was your work, Varric," Leliana responded to his list of bestsellers. "It is quite the adventure, no? I cannot believe that Kirkwall alone can provide inspiration for such a story."
That she did not state outright that she had liked the book didn’t trouble him in the least. He’d seen sisters, brothers and a couple of revered mothers ducking out of bookstores with his work tucked under arms in a way that would shield the titles from prying eyes. Even those doing the Maker’s work needed a bit of harmless escapism, it seemed, and he was happy to provide without judging.
“You haven’t spent enough time in Kirkwall, then,” he advised her. “There’s enough intrigue in this city to inspire a hundred stories, every one different from the last.”
"How fascinating," Leliana observed, propping her elbows on the table and tucking her chin into the nest of her hands, the picture of rapt attention. "What kind of research do you uncover? You must speak with a great many interesting people. Your spheres of influence depend upon it, no?" she added innocently.
Oh, she was good. “You have to know the facts before writing the fiction,” he replied with a modest shrug. “Otherwise, you might tell the truth by mistake, and let me tell you, that can get awkward in a hurry.” He leaned back in his chair, taking a drink of ale. “I wrote a story once about a rich merchant who killed his wife with a rare Antivan poison that was delivered in her perfume. Turns out, there was a merchant in town who had done exactly that. He thought I was trying to blackmail him and tried to have me killed.” He shook his head ruefully. “Like I said: awkward. Not to mention painful. And expensive; do you know how much it costs to get blood out of leather?”
"You have to know the facts before writing the fiction," Varric explained without so much as a hesitation, heaving his shoulders in a slight shrug. Just as Leliana expected. She did not anticipate that the dwarf would reveal anything which he did not wish her to discover. "Otherwise, you might tell the truth by mistake, and let me tell you, that can get awkward in a hurry."
Laughing beneath her breath, Leliana took another sip of her drink. "It is a pity when the truth is so often more interesting than a fiction, no?"
Varric relaxed in his chair as he sated his own thirst. "I wrote a story once about a rich merchant who killed his wife with a rare Antivan poison that was delivered in her perfume. Turns out, there was a merchant in town who had done exactly that. He thought I was trying to blackmail him and tried to have me killed." How very... Antivan. Although she would not dare to say as much in the company of a certain other. "Like I said: awkward. Not to mention painful. And expensive; do you know how much it costs to get blood out of leather?"
A beautiful smile lit up Leliana's expression as she regarded the dwarf. "Yes," was all she said in answer to his question. And she did: it was very expensive, indeed. Or it was if you did not know the secrets for yourself. "But these are the things which make life exciting, no?"
She raised a brow. "This sounds far from the activities of a simple storyteller, Varric. You talk of things which would not be unexpected in the life of an Orlesian Bard. What do you know of those?" Give and take, give and take, give and take. It made her yearn for the Game. Although her current companion was revealing himself as being an apt player whether he intended to be or not.
"It is a pity when the truth is so often more interesting than a fiction, no?" Leliana asked him with a laugh when he bemoaned the risks of accidentally hitting too close to home in one of his tales.
“Inconvenient was actually the descriptive that came to mind when I had an assassin trying to carve out my giblets,” Varric disagreed. “Among other, less polite adjectives.”
His question about the challenges posed by cleaning blood out of leather got him a brilliant smile and a simple “Yes,” in response, which was … a little creepy, actually, but the redhead that Brennokovic had caught sight of was starting to get a little clearer. An Orlesian seductress who killed without remorse … until she was given the job of killing a certain guard who had come back from retirement at an inconvenient time. Which would win: duty or love?
Crap, he needed a quill and parchment.
"But these are the things which make life exciting, no?" his unwitting muse asked him.
He shook his head. “I’m a big fan of boredom,” he assured her. “I write adventures; I try not to live them.”
She gave him a skeptical look. "This sounds far from the activities of a simple storyteller, Varric. You talk of things which would not be unexpected in the life of an Orlesian Bard. What do you know of those?"
“I don’t know a thing about being an Orlesian bard,” he told her truthfully. “Maybe you could give me a few pointers? It’d go great in a story.” He knew what she was asking, though, and maybe it was time to get down to business. “I take care of myself and my people, simple as that.” Everything he had ever done had been aimed to that single end, and yet, it had gotten him into more shit. Maybe he needed to take more care choosing his friends. He was definitely going to be more careful about choosing his next brother. “What’s your interest in this fair city?” Kirkwall had its warts and probably a bit more weird shit than it should, but it was home, and he was just as happy when most of the action was taking place in his novels.
The Hanged Man was not quite as vile an establishment as some of those in Darktown or the seedier parts of Denerim, but she certainly liked to put up a good effort. Zevran lingered outside the establishment for a pause, amber eyes skirting over the effigy of a hanged man gracing the entrance to the establishment.
Leliana had left word she would be here, though on what business, Zevran was not entirely sure. They shared much, but there were still bits of their lives hidden in shadow from the other. Of course, she might well have wanted nothing more than a drink or to listen to whatever songs a local bard might sing. Whatever her reasons, they were her own and Zevran was merely along for the ride.
He pushed open the door to the tavern, the stench of debauched merriment assailing his senses immediately. The name suddenly made sense to Zevran, the stench very much making him wish for a noose about his neck so that he might smell it no longer. The scent was almost enough to make him miss the smell of wet dog. Almost. As his eyes settled upon Leliana sitting comfortably at a table, his attentions became otherwise occupied.
The man she sat with was easy enough for Zevran to recognize. An interesting choice of table-mate for his friend, for certain. Though he had never had the pleasure of meeting Varric Tethras, one could hardly travel in the circles in which Zevran enjoyed without hearing of the man here in Kirkwall.
A carefree smile upon his lips, Zevran approached the table but stopped short of claiming a seat for himself just yet. Varric would know Leliana as much as Zevran and she knew him. Zevran made no effort to withhold her name as he made his apologies, “I am sorry I am late, dear Leliana. You know how distracted I can be by a beautiful rose in bloom.”
"I don’t know a thing about being an Orlesian bard," Varric declared in response to her question, and given that he was ready with an acknowledgement of his ignorance, Leliana was inclined to believe him. "Maybe you could give me a few pointers? It’d go great in a story."
"Oh, but I do not know what it means to be an Orlesian Bard," she protested with a fluttering of her eye lashes and the pressing of her hand against her chest. "We shall each have to rely upon our imaginations, no?"
Her deliberate refusal to admit to the skills which they both knew she possessed heralded a breakthrough in the double speak passing between them. "I take care of myself and my people, simple as that," Varric finally conceded, and Leliana inclined her head in recognition of his honesty. She understood that intent, yes; and it was one which she would not impede unless absolutely necessary.
"What’s your interest in this fair city?" came the next enquiry. One which was hardly unexpected nor unfair.
"I seek to discover new friends," she replied with a touch of amusement curving her lips. It was not the clearest of answers but neither was it dishonest. "Why else would I be sitting here with you, Varric?"
Of course, the Maker was one who moved in mysterious ways. Just as Leliana asserted that she was interested in discovering new friends, one of her already very dear friends entered into the tavern. Zevran approached the table at which Leliana and Varric sat, his customary easy smile ever on his handsome face.
"I am sorry I am late, dear Leliana. You know how distracted I can be by a beautiful rose in bloom,” he offered, earning a soft tutting from Leliana in response.
"It is more beautiful upon the stem than after it has been plucked, no?" she chided him with a slight shake of her head, then gestured to the chairs beside herself and Varric. "Join us."
"Oh, but I do not know what it means to be an Orlesian Bard," Leliana proclaimed with lots of fluttering eyelashes and bosom clasping. "We shall each have to rely upon our imaginations, no?"
He couldn't help it; he burst out laughing. “Oh, you're good,” he said between chuckles. “What would you like your name to be in my next book?” That was an honor that he accorded to few – picking their own name, that is. Plenty of people made it into his books, some more recognizable than others.
The verbal dance done with for the moment, they got down to business, and she listened respectfully to his motivations, which were simple enough, but when he pressed for hers, she slipped back into obfuscation.
"I seek to discover new friends," she asserted with a faint smile. "Why else would I be sitting here with you, Varric?"
Before Varric could list any of half a dozen reasons he could think of, at least one of which would be woven into the next Hard In Hightown book, an elf strolled through the door and joined them with the smile of one supremely confident that his presence would be not only welcomed but delighted in.
"I am sorry I am late, dear Leliana,” he addressed the redhead, his accent as smooth as aged whiskey. “You know how distracted I can be by a beautiful rose in bloom.”
"It is more beautiful upon the stem than after it has been plucked, no?" she countered with the ease of long practice, gesturing to an empty chair. "Join us."
A blonde, tattooed Antivan elf keeping company with an Orlesian bard? “If one of you has the Hero of Ferelden or King Alistair in your hip pocket, my day is officially going to be made,” he informed the pair, gesturing for Norah to see to the newcomer, which she did with a considerably more cheerful countenance than she ever directed at him. He'd been toying with the idea of a novelized take on the fifth Blight, and two of the principal players had all but dropped into his lap.
Cyn: No posts this weekend, sorry! It's D&D crunch time and I've gotta write half a campaign by noon tomorrow or I'm so very screwed
Sept 9, 2017 20:49:59 GMT -5
JWhitey: Is anyone around?
Sept 10, 2017 1:11:36 GMT -5
Innes Cameron: Hello, JWhitey! If you need to speak to someone, PM one of the Staff directly (if you haven't already!) ;D
Sept 10, 2017 4:39:25 GMT -5
JWhiteyGames: Hello! And thanks! I did. I was just looking to see if anyone was on in general. After reading the guidelines and peeking a bit more though, I realized the box isn't used the same as before.
Sept 10, 2017 13:58:14 GMT -5
ann: *peeks head in* So, returning rp'er to the dragon age universe. I was wondering who of the staff one should poke about character concept? Just to run it by and get and oki.
Sept 17, 2017 11:35:05 GMT -5
Innes Cameron: Welcome to WV, ann! Feel free to PM any of us about a character concept and we'll get back to you shortly. If we need to consult with the other Staff about the idea first, we'll let you know ;D
Sept 17, 2017 14:01:09 GMT -5
Marius Whitby: If you're looking at a templar character, hit me up!
Sept 17, 2017 20:28:15 GMT -5
ann: I was originally but given the current state of timeline I went with a slightly different route^^ will keep it in mind, Marius!
Sept 18, 2017 12:00:52 GMT -5
Cyan: Wow I'm surprised this site is still active. Good job people.
Sept 19, 2017 20:49:59 GMT -5
Cyn: Don't thank us, thank Kahrin Quirke Ainsley, she's the one running around here putting out fires and fixing up hull breaches with duct tape.
Sept 19, 2017 21:52:11 GMT -5
Hanamene Thornecroft: New to the game! Just wanted to say hello whilst I build my char profile. Any updates to the game's world state I ought to know about? In addition to the OOC info threads, I mean - i.e. active/major story-lines to consider. PM me for the latter.
Sept 20, 2017 12:07:39 GMT -5
Leliana: Welcome to WV, Hanamene Thornecroft! If you check out the various links beneath 'Site Links' on the left hand side, that will give you all the information you need to know! If you have specific queries, however, please contact a member of staff.
Sept 20, 2017 12:55:22 GMT -5