"There's some letters for you on the desk," Gamlen grumbled, his lips curled slightly in a thin sneer. "I swear you get more mail than I do!"
Garrett Hawke rolled his eyes, sighing heavily. He'd barely closed the door after entering his uncle's rundown hovel in Lowtown and already the old man was starting in on him. "I swear the first thing I'm doing if the Deep Roads expedition is successful is getting the hell out of here," he thought grimly to himself. Rather than reply, however, he merely stalked silently over to the desk pushed up against the wall and grabbed the short stack of letters.
Flipping through the correspondence, a smirk slowly crept across Hawke's face. "Hey, Uncle, here's one for you. From some guy named Ed McMahon, says you may already be a winner."
"Ha!" exclaimed Bethany from across the room. "Anything sent to our dear uncle with 'winner' in it is obviously a mistake."
A brief chuckle escaped Garrett's lips at the sight of his uncle's sneer becoming more pronounced, though he quickly stifled it in response to their mother's disapproving glare. It was a glare he and Bethany were all too familiar with, one that suggested yet another lecture on being respectful to their uncle would be forthcoming.
Garrett knew it wouldn't do any good though to tell her being respectful was the only reason he hadn't ripped Uncle Gamlen's throat out and left him for dead. He still couldn't believe she'd forgiven the bastard so quickly for blowing through her inheritance and losing everything, then profiting off of her children by selling them into indentured servitude in exchange for getting them into the city. Then again, his own least favored child status had long since been made clear. If mother had a say in the matter it would have been him that met his end at the hands of the darkspawn rather than Carver.
As his eyes fell upon a strange looking letter addressed to him, Garrett's brow furrowed into a slight frown as he read.
"What's wrong?" Bethany asked, walking towards him.
"Huh? Oh, nothing… it's some kind of invitation… to a shop of sorts. Uncle, have you heard of The Black Emporium? This says it's near Darktown."
Gamlen shrugged. "Never heard of it."
Looking at the letter from Garret's side, Bethany grinned as she reached over and with a fingernail traced a sentence that specifically mentioned invitations were only extended to special customers. Seeing what she was pointing to, Garrett laughed. "Ahhh… of course he wouldn't have heard of it," he muttered, causing Bethany to giggle in response and for their mother to glare once again while heaving a dissatisfied sigh of exasperation.
"Sounds intriguing though?" Bethany suggested. "I'd bet Varric knows something about it."
Garrett nodded. "I've got nothing going on, why don't we see if he's at The Hanged Man and go check out this Black Emporium."
"Well, this place is creepy enough…" Varric noted. To the surprise of the Hawkes, he hadn't heard of the place either. But he was interested enough to tag along.
"No kidding," grumbled Aveline, a friend of theirs who had been hanging out with Varric at his usual Lowtown haunt. She'd joined the city guard after their arrival in Kirkwall and was currently trying in her free time to track down some suspicious dealings that her Guard-Captain might be involved in. Being off duty anyway, Aveline decided to come along with them as well.
The group wandered around the shop, remarking here and there on some of the crazier things on display, such as a half naked sculpture of Andraste. The strange shopkeeper, who introduced himself as Xenon the Antiquarian, kept up a near running commentary regarding the odds and ends in the place.
"What with this mirror?" Varric asked curiously as they approached a huge floor mirror that stood nearly to the ceiling.
"The Mirror of Transformation," Xenon answered in a tone that inspired both wonderment and fear. "It is an insidious, twisted device, one that changes the person you were and will be."
Garrett took a closer look. The mirror had a strange pull to it, he felt almost as if he was being drawn into it. His reflection seemed fluid, like simply by thinking about it he could fundamentally alter his appearance. "Huh… this could be fun."
Deciding to start simple, Garrett gave his hair a complete do over, going from his standard scruffy black hairstyle to one with long red hair. Grinning at himself in the mirror, he turned around to face his companions. "What do you think?"
"About what?" Bethany asked in confusion.
Garrett returned the bemused look. "Uhh… my hair? It's completely different now."
The other three companions exchanged glances, silently confirming that none of them could see a difference. "What are you talking about?" Bethany asked, "You've had that same goofy hairstyle for years where your bangs look more like something painted on your forehead than actual hair."
Frowning, Garrett turned back to the mirror and made some more changes, resetting his hair and adding some facial tattoos. "What about now? Do I look any different?" he asked.
"Is this another joke of yours?" Aveline questioned. "You still look the same, Hawke."
"But I changed my hair again, and didn't have these tattoos until just now?"
"Someone got an early start on the booze," Varric remarked.
Bethany shook her head. "Garrett, is this like when we were fleeing Lothering and you kept insisting that my chest had grown larger all of a sudden?"
Before Garrett could reply, Varric interjected. "Wait, Hawke was checking out your chest, Sunshine?"
"Wh-what? No! Not like that!" Garrett exclaimed, his lightly tanned cheeks turning red in embarrassment.
Bethany rolled her eyes. "You should've seen him carrying on about how big my boobs were. I thought Carver was going to beat him, especially on the heels of it taking Garrett forever to get ready to leave our house. I mean, the darkspawn were closing in and he spent a solid hour obsessing over every single detail of his face and hair before he'd leave!"
Aveline smirked. "I thought Bethany was going to throw him overboard on the voyage to Kirkwall after he started pointing out that her breasts had returned to their normal size. Can't say I ever noticed a difference, but maybe I wasn't looking as closely as he was."
"It's not like that, okay!" Garrett exclaimed in exasperation. "But seriously, I've been changing my appearance and you guys don't see anything different?"
"Maybe if you got a boob job we'd notice a difference," Bethany answered, grinning wickedly.
Varric laughed as Garrett winced at his sister's suggestion. "There ya go, Hawke, turn yourself into a woman. It'd make for a better story anyway."
"Story? What do you mean?"
"One of these days I'm going to tell your story, Hawke," Varric began before pausing and sighing bitterly. "It's a proven fact that stories in this Dragon Age are much more popular if they feature female lead characters. The stats don't lie. Readers just don't seem to go for the heroic male types. Well… not unless they're bedding other heroic male types. Say, how do you feel about Fenris?"
"Errr… I think I'll pass on that."
"Your choice I suppose. Don't blame me if your story doesn't sell though. Maybe I'll embellish it a bit anyway, just to be safe."
Garrett shook his head. "Why? It's not like anyone is ever going to drag you into a room, hold you at knife point, and force you to tell my story."
"You never know, Hawke, you never know."
Waving his hand dismissively, Garrett replied, "Yeah, well, it's about as likely as me running off the Qunari and being declared the Champion of Kirkwall."
Varric shrugged. "Oh well, maybe I'll write you female anyway."
Aveline raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Varric, you've got that Hard in Hightown serial going. Even though I question just how real this guard of yours is, what with the way they get around, it has a male lead and seems to be popular enough."
"You haven't seen how bad my stats are. And reviews? Yeah right… the Kirkwall Daily Post hasn't even bothered to review my last three installments. I should have made you the lead, Aveline. And added a lot more smut… yeah… bet I wouldn't have to beg for reviews then."
"More smut?" Aveline asked incredulously. "You've got sex scenes in every other chapter as it is!"
"Be careful, Aveline," Bethany began. "Next thing you know you'll be in a story involving oiled down guards, blackmail, chocolate, and swinging naked from a chandelier."
"I like the way you think, Sunshine."
It was Aveline's turn to wince, though it quickly turned to a glare. "I swear, Varric, you write anything about me and you won't live long enough to regret it."
"Still nothing?" Garrett asked. The sighs in response more than answered the question.
"Sorry, Hawke," Aveline answered. "You've always been a black man with cornrows, purple lips, white mutton chops, red eyes, and orange tribal tattoos on your face."
"And we've never figured out how you and Sunshine came from the same parents," Varric added.
Bethany pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance. "Can we go now? You've been playing with that stupid mirror for two hours!"
Varric nodded. "And I don't think that urchin over there has even twitched the entire time we've been here. Between him and the golem I can't decide which one is the statue."
"Hey, Xenon?" Garrett called out. "Is this mirror for sale?"
"No!" Bethany exclaimed. "You'd never leave the house if you had this thing. And for that matter, if any of our companions ever ask about anything to do with a mirror, we're running away… far, far away. And not looking back."
Garrett pouted. "You always were a heartbreaker, Bethany."
"That sounds strangely… inappropriate for a brother to tell a sister, Hawke," Varric noted.
Bethany glared at her brother briefly before stepping forward and shoving him out of the way.
"Hey, what was that for?"
"You win, okay? I'll get the damned boob job, and then we're getting the hell out of here. And I'd better be dead, imprisoned in the Circle, or even a freakin' Grey Warden before you even think of coming back here!"
Garrett smirked. "A Grey Warden? That's about as likely as a city like Kirkwall that hates Fereldans promoting Aveline here to captain of the guard."
Varric flashed a grin, the mischievous gleam in his eyes suggesting he might know something the others didn't. "You never know, Hawke, you never know."
AN: Just a bit of silliness in poking fun at the game, facegen obsessed gamers, and fanfic authors :-)
I admit I didn't actually notice that Bethany's chest size shrinks considerably after Cassandra forces Varric to start over until reading some threads about it on BSN and then seeing mention of it on the DA wikia. Seeing the Mirror of Transformation in the Black Emporium reminded me of the many other threads I've seen on BSN of players talking about spending excessive amounts of time in the facegen part of character creation only to throw away a game and start over 5-10 hours in because they didn't like how their character looked in-game. Obviously the mirror is Bioware throwing them a bone, which made me wonder how many people go back to the Black Emporium over and over to keep obsessively tweaking their appearance.
On my second play (first mage, second rogue) I took Bethany with me into the Deep Roads not knowing what would happen. At the end when Hawke issues the line about her always being a heartbreaker, my out loud reaction was what I voiced through Varric here :-) It kind of killed the emotion of the scene for me. Of course, only later I found out that if I'd have had Anders along for the expedition Bethany could've become a Grey Warden instead. Oh well...