For anyone who enjoyed the children's story, Dragon's Hunt in Cullen's Charge, Derzka started as a character I created before DAI actually released to play, and a story I invented to flesh out her background. It happens at some vague point while still at Haven.
Disclaimer: Cullen and most characters are property of Bioware from their DA: Inquisition game. Derzka is mine.
Cullen and Solas came around the corner of the chantry to find Derzka squatting down near a tree, perfectly still, her hand extended with a bit of bread while a squirrel inched closer to finally snatch the bread and move a few steps away to chitter at her. They paused, a reluctant grin drawn from Cullen as Derzka imitated the chittering sounds almost perfectly, then the squirrel spotted the two men and shot up the tree by the wall, its prize vanishing with him. Derzka sprang up, gracefully turning as she did, with almost perfect balance, reaching for her sword. When she saw the two men, she seemed surprisingly embarrassed.
"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to intrude, but Josephine had a message and wanted to meet in the War Room. That's quite a trick, coaxing a squirrel so close."
"Oh, it's nothing. When you spend as much time walking a patrol in the woods or swamps around a camp in the wilderness as I have, you learn a lot about animals. And I like squirrels." She seemed almost defensive.
Solas chuckled. "So, you made friends with your namesake?" Her eyes widened, then she covered her face to hide a flush.
"By the Creators, please tell me you don't know that story!"
Cullen looked between the two elves, observing Solas's smirk. "Namesake? Is that what Derzka means in Elvhen, squirrel?"
"No." She lowered her hands with a groan to glare at Solas. "Derzka isn't a Dalish word or name. There's…a tale, though, with…a squirrel who helps a Dalish warrior defeat a monster, and the Dalish names her daughter after the squirrel. My mother, for whatever reason, liked the name." She rolled her eyes. "I might have gotten into a few brawls as a child over my name."
"It's a name for someone who is bold, I think, though parents sometimes use it for a child who is being cheeky, which might be the reason for the brawls." The impish smirk just got broader. "And you left out most of the story. The squirrel tricks a monster, usually a dragon in the story, into letting her go when she was caught near the dragon's horde, and the dragon fails to notice Derzka had swiped something, usually a broach that the dragon had concealed apart from the rest of its hoard." Derzka groaned and covered her face. "The squirrel later gets caught in quicksand or some other trap and a Dalish warrior rescues her. As a reward, she gives the warrior the broach and tells her how to enter the dragon's lair, and tells the Dalish that she thinks the broach must be important. The broach turns out to be the secret to surviving the fight with the monster, usually giving immunity to whatever the monster's main weapon is, and in gratitude, the Dalish gives her daughter the squirrel's name to bring the clan luck. Did I miss anything?" Solas added cheerfully.
The slender woman lowered her hands to glare at him again, the tips of her ears pink. "No, I think you quite thoroughly humiliated me, thanks. Well, except that there's a second story in which the warrior and Derzka join forces with some humans to defeat another monster, so apparently my name was a bit prophetic."
"And how does that one come out?" Cullen was struggling to keep a straight face.
"Ah, well…" She sobered abruptly. "The warrior kills the monster, a human village is saved, and the Dalish clan escapes." Derzka turned her eyes back on the squirrel, her hand tightening around the scar in her palm, not looking at either man, and it didn't take a great leap of insight to realize that the warrior and Derzka might not have fared so well in this story. "A happy ending."