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Life Imitates Art ... Or Is It The Other Way Around? [AU] [Closed]

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
108
#1
(AU - 35 Dragon) Isabela , Aveline Vallen

Donnen Brennokovic was not one to indulge in self-pity. Shit happened, like it or not, and the smart man figured out quickly that pissing and moaning over the things you couldn’t change meant maybe losing the opportunity to change the things that you could. He’d lived by that rule for most of his life, and while it might not have done much to make him happy, it went a long way toward keeping him sane.

But every rule worthy of the name had to have an exception, and the guardsman was currently on his fourth - or was it fifth? - round of oak-aged Nevarran single malt whiskey. Stupid, perhaps, spending most of his week’s pay on booze when a cheap rotgut would likely have done the job just as effectively. But the romantic streak that Brennokovic had been startled to discover beneath several decades layering of cynicism, pessimism and general misanthropy (he’d been called a surly misanthrope by a scholar he’d arrested for murder, looked up the definition in a dictionary and liked it) was evidently too stupid to lie down and die quietly; using cheap whiskey to drown out the memory of hair that flamed like the setting sun and emerald green eyes felt like sacrilege.

It had been a fool’s dream, at best, returning to the Kirkwall guard in the hope that something more than a shared devotion to duty might develop between himself and Captain Hendallen. He’d known it, and hadn’t even let himself acknowledge that hope until it had been dashed to pieces against the unforgiving rocks of reality. She deserved better than a washed-up smartass of a guardsman who gave her nothing but headaches - even for the minuscule chances of winning her affections, he had been unable to change his approach to fighting crime in the City of Chains. She deserved - his brow furrowed as he glowered into the amber liquid in his glass for a moment before tossing it back, feeling the heat spreading smoothly down his throat to join the fire in his gut. She deserved more than she would ever get in this town; the young buck who had caught her eye with a pretty face and pretty words was a decent enough bloke, but Brennokovic had been pub crawling with him after hours, seen the women he preferred. Could he even see past her face and those incredible eyes to the fiery heart of the woman warrior, full of courage and honor and a passion for what was right and good that burned every bit as brightly as it had in the legendary knight for whom she had been named -

“SHI-IIIT!!”

The quill dug into the parchment, and the tip broke off in the desktop, leaving a blot of ink on the wood. Varric tossed it aside, snatched up the piece of paper, crumpled it into a wad and pitched it into the corner. It hit the top of a pile of similarly discarded scraps, bounced and rolled down to the foot of the stack. He glowered at it briefly before capping the inkwell and pushed away from the desk with a growl of disgust.

Three days. Three sodding days he’d been banging his head against this brick wall, and the sequel to Hard In Hightown, which had begun with such promise, was currently stuck in a rut alongside its author. He’d never either confirmed or denied that the main character was an alter ego of sorts, but Brennocovik had never been too obvious of a self-insert, allowing him to slyly sidestep the questions, keep people guessing. And he’d always managed to keep a certain amount of distance between himself and the fictional guardsman when he was writing … until now.

One of the reasons that the original had been so successful (and that the author hadn’t wound up at the bottom of the harbor) was that he had managed to make the characters never be completely identifiable with any real persons, living or deceased. There had been plenty of talk and speculation, and a few people had gotten offended, but there had never been enough resemblance to hang a contract killing on. Captain Hendallen was a recent - and frustrating - exception. Not that the real person in question would waste time and coin hiring assassins; she’d just break his neck herself. Or never speak to him again.

Pouring himself a whiskey, the dwarf settled into his armchair. Take a break from writing for a few days, that’s what he needed to do. Spend some time bullshitting with the regulars downstairs, get out and spend a few nights on the streets rediscovering the grit of Kirkwall. Maybe he just needed to ditch the romantic angle altogether, make the sequel another straight-up crime thriller with a side of casual sex. Why mess with a good formula? Not everybody needed the hearts and flowers garbage, right? He certainly didn’t. He and Bianca were doing just fine.

A creak on the stair outside: the one he refused to let Corff fix. Too loud to be someone trying to sneak up on him. “Come in!” he called, saving whoever it was the trouble of knocking.
 

Isabela

Prominent member
Canon Character
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
86
#2
Isabela fingered the small pouch at her waist, and grinned at the distinctive outline of the coins that were swelling it to bursting point. It had been a good week for her - of course, working alongside Hawke meant it came with a certain amount of do-goodery, but she wasn’t complaining about acting nice to the two milksops who had run off together in exchange for looting the bodies of the bandits who had immediately taken them hostage the second they got to the coast.

Oh, it had been a lovely tale. The pair had met at a ball and fallen desperately in lust (or love, as they put it, being far too young and hormonal to work out the difference). The parents had disapproved, given that they'd known each other all of five hours. They’d fled together in the depths of the night, taking a hefty amount of the family jewels with them, aided by a gnarly old gatekeeper who just wanted the best for them. Or so they’d thought. Displaying a business acumen that Isabela could respect, the gatekeeper had collaborated with some of the bandits along the Wounded Coast, working out he could get a cut of whatever ransom they demanded from the parents.

Obviously the bandits had killed him the moment he handed the cooing couple over, so he hadn’t been that smart.

Anyway, Hawke had been asked for a display of her usual mix of diplomacy and violence, and had been sent to retrieve the couple while hopefully not having to pay all of the ransom. Rich families didn’t get rich by just handing out money left and right, after all. Lured by the promise of both a down payment and a chance for some looting, Isabela had been all too happy to come along, and between herself, Hawke, Kitten, they’d done a fair job of mopping the floor with the bandits.

The frightened couple had been escorted back to Kirkwall, and given some gentle advice about maybe leaving it longer than a day and a half before they repeated their attempt. Hawke was back off to her mansion and Isabela had walked with Kitten to the alienage before heading on back to the Hanged Man. This was a story Varric would enjoy, and she could afford some nice brandy to bring up as an aid to the telling.

He wasn’t holding court from his usual corner of the tavern, so he was either at the Merchant’s Guild or up in his room. Banking on the second, Isabela splashed out on the finest bottle Corff had available (from the stash at the back, not the stuff on the shelves which looked all right but had probably been topped up with water over the years) and bounded up the stairs. She knew about Varric’s creaky step and could have jumped over it easily enough, but she wasn’t planning on approaching stealthily. It squealed like a pig when she landed on it, and announced her presence fairly effectively.

“Come in!”

Varric was brooding in his armchair, a drink already at his elbow, and there were drifts of crumpled parchment scattered against one wall. Isabela took in the scene, quirked an eyebrow, then grinned at him. “I take it you might be in need of a distraction. Have you given any thought of my suggestion of a spin off series? Harder in Hightown: Tales from the Blooming Rose could be a winner, you know.”
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
108
#3
As it turned out, Varric needn’t have bothered with the invitation, as Rivaini seldom bothered with such mundane niceties of knocking anyway. She swaggered through the door with what looked suspiciously like a bottle of Corff’s best Orlesian brandy in one hand and a shit eating grin plastered on her face.

“I take it you might be in need of a distraction,” she announced, glancing over at the discard pile. “Have you given any thought of my suggestion of a spin off series? Harder in Hightown: Tales from the Blooming Rose could be a winner, you know.”

Varric chuckled. “Not exactly my genre,” he deferred. He turned over the notion in his mind, however. His books generally had a steamy scene here and there to spice up the intrigue, but he’d never written out-and-out smut. Maybe a change of pace was what he needed.

“Taking a break from writing for a few days, anyway,” he told her, filing the idea away for future consideration. Not Harder In Hightown, mind you; he wouldn’t do that to Brennokovic. Something else …

“What’s the occasion?” he asked, eyeing the bottle. Isabela wasn’t averse to buying a round if she was in a good mood, but it generally wasn’t top shelf hooch. Or the whole bottle. Either she’d had a very good day (measured in galleons liberated from their rightful owners), or she’d lifted the brandy from under Corff’s nose. Not that he minded either way, since Corff’s standard business practices constituted highway robbery. Just curious.
 

Isabela

Prominent member
Canon Character
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
86
#4
Varric chuckled, waving off her suggestion as he had before. “Not exactly my genre.”

“No matter.” Isabela tossed her head. “I’ll have a go at it. How hard can it be to write sex scenes with a little bit of plot looped around them?”

She was teasing; Varric was an artist and she appreciated his work (especially the bits that were veiled retellings of Hawke’s adventures, or had characters resembling people she didn’t like in real life having a horrible time). Sitting down and trying to concentrate enough to write out an entire book was boring. There was booze to drink, coin to make and people to seduce! She’d settle for providing Varric with inspiration.

It seemed he was a bit down on it at the moment. “Taking a break from writing for a few days, anyway.” He indicated the bottle. “What’s the occasion?”

“Courtesy of a grateful pair of parents, and a whole lot of kidnappers who hardly needed ransom money in the first place.” Isabela grabbed two of the nearest mugs and splashed the brandy literally into both, before handing one to Varric. “I thought you might like the story. A-hem.” She cleared her throat dramatically. “A young pair of lovebirds spied each other at a ball, and immediately felt the sort of attraction that inspires them to do really, really stupid things. Their parents made note and forbade them to be together...not something I’d normally condone, of course, but this time it was genuinely to stop them doing something unusually prattish.

“So, naturally, they leapt straight through the first act of a bad play, and decided they needed to elope together. They turned to a friendly, trustworthy gardener to aid them in their flight, and naturally he tricked them into being captured for ransom by bandits immediately.”


Isabela took a swig of her brandy as she settled down, one foot swinging idly as she talked, dislodging a few balls of parchment from the pile. A word, not entirely obscured, caught her eye. Brennokovic

This was why she wasn’t a storyteller. Immediately sidetracked, she made a swipe for it, and started to pull it open. “Ooh, is this what you’re working on? The big sequel?”
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
108
#5
Varric wasn’t surprised when Isabela’s enthusiasm for erotic fiction wasn’t dampened by his demurral. “No matter. I’ll have a go at it,” she announced breezily, making a beeline for the glassware. “How hard can it be to write sex scenes with a little bit of plot looped around them?”

“Harder than you’d think,” he answered wryly, well aware that he’d just handed her a solid gold straight line. He was a giver like that. “You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve gotten.” Aspiring authors were constantly sending him manuscripts to critique; he’d finally started having his agent send them back unopened. He was a bullshitter by trade, but there was only so much he could do with “breasts as round and pale as ostrich eggs” and “lips as plump as slugs that hadn’t been sprinkled with salt”, and being a dasher of literary dreams was nowhere on his limited list of ambitions. Rivaini could probably do better than that, and if not, ‘fragile’ didn’t describe any part of her, least of all her ego.

“Courtesy of a grateful pair of parents, and a whole lot of kidnappers who hardly needed ransom money in the first place,” she announced now, dumping generous servings of brandy into the pair of mugs she’d snagged and passing one to him before sprawling carelessly in a chair. “I thought you might like the story. A-hem.” Varric obligingly set his whiskey aside and took a sip of the brandy. Never drink your own good booze when someone else’s is available. “A young pair of lovebirds spied each other at a ball, and immediately felt the sort of attraction that inspires them to do really, really stupid things. Their parents made note and forbade them to be together...not something I’d normally condone, of course, but this time it was genuinely to stop them doing something unusually prattish.

“I’m guessing that didn’t work?” Varric stretched his legs out, willing to be entertained. All the same, he couldn’t help nudging the elements around in his head, evaluating the potential. Tale as old as time, and trite as it could be … but what about a different angle?

“So, naturally, they leapt straight through the first act of a bad play, and decided they needed to elope together,” the pirate confirmed with relish. “They turned to a friendly, trustworthy gardener to aid them in their flight, and naturally he tricked them into being captured for ransom by bandits immediately.” She tipped back her mug for a deep swallow and kicked one foot out in that never-quite-still way of hers. One pass nicked the pile of discards, sending a few of them tottering along the floor. Like a magpie catching sight of something shiny, she swooped and snagged the closest one.

“Ooh, is this what you’re working on? The big sequel?”

“Ahh-ahh.” A lifetime of keeping his cards close to the vest helped Varric keep his reaction off of his face, but his heart still did a quick triple-time run in the second before he reached out and plucked the partly-uncrumpled parchment from her grasp. “No sneak previews,” he admonished her, tossing it back on the pile and sending the other escapees after it. “Bad luck.” Sailors had plenty of superstitions; Rivaini wouldn’t question him on his. And it would be bad luck - for him - if she read any of his rough - really rough - drafts. She’d recognize “Captain Hendallen” in a heartbeat, and a certain Guard-Captain would hear about it a couple of palpitations later. She wouldn’t be able to resist.

“So, how do we get from star-crossed lovers to your getting paid and buying me a drink?” he asked as he leaned back in his chair, hoping to nudge her back onto her original track.
 
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