Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Age or its characters. I certainly make no profits.


Dear Varric,

Thanks for visiting me last week! I've missed your stories so much and it was wonderful to hear about all my sister's latest adventures. Marian's always been so much braver than I and I don't doubt for one second that everything really did happen the way you described even though I know you do exaggerate a few things… sometimes.

You asked how I've been and to be honest, I've been worried about Marian. She writes often and visits when she can and even though she says she's well, lately she's been… I don't know. Distressed? No matter what she says, I don't think a noble title and a big mansion ever really were part of her dream. It's funny, maybe they weren't my dreams either. I don't know anymore. It doesn't seem to matter so much around here.

I'm not sad. Not really. So please let my sister know that I'm not lying when I tell her I don't mind it here. Teaching magic to apprentices might actually be my calling in life. You know, sort of like street fights and bar brawls for you, 'Bela, and Marian.

But anyway… you asked for a few stories from me and I am so happy to give them. I think it's just perfect that you want to write a biography of Marian! And yes, I promise I won't say anything until you've told her your plan. She adores you completely so I'm sure there's no reason she would ever say no, but if she's even a little tiny bit reluctant, I'll convince her. You know she'd do anything for her dear little sister.

All right, here's my first story. It's one I remember from two homes before Lothering so I must have been about six-years-old and Marian would have been nearly twelve. By then she had already been learning how to fight for a couple of years. That's important to the story, which is why I mention it.

It happened one day that my brother, Carver—Maker keep him—was throwing a fitful tantrum. Maybe father was angry. I don't recall. Carver was always breaking things and trying to swallow what had no business ending up in a little boy's belly—things like amulets and little vials of potion: glass, stopper, and all. This time in particular Carver was screaming so loudly that I got scared. I used to think that if we were too loud, even at home, the templars would come and take me away.

As if templars would ever come running towards the sound of fussy children!

It's true, I was a silly girl, but I didn't understand any better, so I fled to the barn, which was a little ways from the house. It was old and ramshackle and there weren't any animals, just a lot of old straw strewn on the dirt floor. Mother didn't want us playing there in case one day it were to fall down on top of us and crush us all to death, but we never paid her any mind and were always sneaking in anyway. There was a loose board on one of the broad sides so I scurried in through thataway. I thought I was alone, but right away I heard two voices arguing and they both belonged to my sister.

You probably didn't know this about Marian, but she talks to herself when she's all alone or thinks she is. Usually it's because she's hopelessly lost in some battle fantasy and this time was no different. She was practicing with two little wooden swords as if they were a pair of blades.

Every now and then she would cry out, "Die, you villain scum," or something rather along those lines.

Then the imaginary foe would reply, "Hand over the mage, you unchaste harlot strumpet," or something more or less like that.

That's how I knew she was fighting an imaginary templar even before she said, "You'll never take my sister unless you kill me first and we both know that will never happen. Not with your slow hands and lack of skill."

After a long while of vigorous fighting, the templar surely realized he would never win against my sister, so he tried to reason with her. (His voice was a good bit deeper than Marian's, so that's how I knew it was a he-templar and not a she.) "The mage has put a spell on you. Come back with me to the Chantry and we'll cleanse you of her filth."

But Marian was too smart for his lies. "And how do you know your precious Chantry hasn't put a spell on you, fool of a templar? Isn't that really what all the lyrium's for?"

Oh, and he had no answer for that.

I think she must have staved him off for at least a half hour while I stayed hidden behind a couple of old crates and listened to the whole bloody fight. And then, at the very end of it, the best thing in the whole world happened. After she had slain him mercilessly, slitting his throat as he cowered against one of the barn pillars, Marian walked right over to where I was hiding and reached down to help me up. She pulled me to my feet, then knelt down and kissed my ring finger as if I were a queen with an actual ring to kiss.

She looked up at me with those dark, solemn eyes and said, "You are safe now, dear sister. So long as I yet draw breath, no templar will ever have you."

And that is no less than the story of how my sister first became my rogue in shiny armor.

If you think that's too much on the sappy side, you'll just have to blame yourself since you know whom it is you're asking. And you did say you wanted a few stories with heart enough "to prove it's not all pirate whores* and beheadings."

You do have such a way with words.

Love to you and all our friends,


* Note (added 05/13/12): I rarely reread my stories, but I reread this one recently and my use of the word 'whore' made me cringe. Honestly, the way the way the word is used in game by Aveline is something I initially thought of as playful banter between friends who, despite their seeming rivalry and difficulties seeing eye to eye, ultimately respect each other. Varric, Isabela, Bethany, F!Hawke, and Aveline are my favorite characters in DA2. They have a special place in my gaming heart and I'm certainly not looking to slander any of them.

But now that I'm a more active participant in the DA fandom and my online presence is more than just writing drabbles, posting them, going on my merry way, I'm seeing so many people express some version of the opinion that Isabela is a disgusting 'loose woman.' So here's the thing: in my writing going forward I am thinking a lot more carefully than I did before about how I use certain words. They aren't just playful banter if they are resonating with and even fueling the fire of actual character bashing discussions happening online.

And, readers, if you really think Isabela is a character who deserves to be shamed for her sexual attitudes and choices, then just know that you believe that about me, too. My attitudes towards sex are similar to hers and I've had a lot of delightful, casual sex. It has been no less respectful and satisfying than the sex I've had in the context of love relationships. All that to say, I stand with Isabela and you should, too. And I'm sorry for the use of language that is hurtful and fuels hatred. I promise to do better.