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Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter ???

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Codex text

By Varric Tethras

Donnen wiped spilled ale off the bar, listening to the cries of the birds and the crashing of waves outside. Another slow day on the Amaranthine Coast. The tavern didn't get many visitors—just a little too far south of the Antivan border to catch the caravans—but he hadn't opened it to make a profit.


If Stroud was left behind in the Fade during Here Lies the Abyss...

He poured a glass of plum brandy from a chipped decanter and carried it out to the patio, where an impressive Orlesian mustache was keeping company with an old Grey Warden playing a minuet on a lute.

Donnen handed the brandy to the Warden, in some deference to his mustache, and the gentleman accepted it with grace, placing the glass on the table before finishing the last measure of his song.

"You have my thanks, guardsman." The Orlesian set the lute on a nearby chair and allowed the brandy to approach his mustache. The mustache did not appear impressed with the vintage.

"It's just Donnen these days," he replied, looking out over the waves. "My time in the Kirkwall guard is over."

"I spent so many years in and around the City of Chains," the Warden sighed. "We're both lucky to have escaped her clutches."

The sun was setting behind them, drawing long shadows on the ground that stretched toward the sea.

"Maybe." Donnen shrugged, watching the waves turn dark in the distance. "Some days, I'm not sure all of me made it out."

"To what we've left behind." The Orlesian raised his glass in a toast, and the two men watched the light fade over the ocean in peace.


If male Hawke was left behind in the Fade...

Hep poured some noxious Ander stout from an oak cask into a heavy tankard and carried it outside to a dark-haired nobleman on the patio idly strumming a lute so out of tune, it sounded like some other instrument, perhaps a tuba or a kettle drum, trying to invent music from scratch.

Donnen handed over the tankard, only half-hoping it would stop him from playing any more.

"That's very kind of you, guardsman." Thankfully, the gentleman set aside his lute and took the tankard, putting his feet up on the table in front of him.

"It's just Donnen these days," he replied, looking out over the waves. "My time in the Kirkwall guard is over."

"It's never really gone." The nobleman smiled. "Kirkwall. It finds its way into your soul, and once it gets there, you carry it always."

The sun was setting behind them, casting long shadows from the tavern down to the water. A flock of cormorants took advantage of the fading light to dive for fish making their way back out to sea.

"Maybe so." Donnen smiled, too. "But the world can always use a Champion or a guardsman wherever they happen to go."

The gentleman raised his tankard. "I'll drink to that."

And the two men watched the last of the light disappear in peace.


If female Hawke was left behind in the Fade...

He poured a glass of red Orlesian wine and carried it out to the patio where lady Marielle sat, playing a lute for the benefit of a distant flock of cormorants and a sleepy mabari hound.

Donnen handed her the glass with a smile. "Can I get you anything else, your ladyship?"

"That's very kind of you, guardsman." Marielle set aside her lute; the sleepy hound looked up, annoyed at having its lullaby interrupted.

"It's just Donnen these days," he replied, looking out over the waves. "My time in the Kirkwall guard is over."

"Is it?" She smiled slyly over the glass. "You don't think naming a tavern The Watch was a sign that perhaps you can take the guardsman out of Kirkwall, and even out of the Guard, but he never... quite leaves?"

The sun was setting behind them. The hound stretched and ambled over to the table to lay his head on Lady Marielle's knee and beg for table scraps. In the distance, the cormorants took off in a single motion to return to their roosts up the shore.

Donnen smiled back. "Maybe you're right. But tonight I'm off duty, your ladyship."

"Marielle," she corrected. "And to answer your question, you can get me some company. One guardsman might suffice."

And the two of them watched the last of the light disappear together in peace.


If Alistair was left behind in the Fade...

He poured a glass of smoky Fereldan whisky and carried it out to the patio where a sandy-haired fellow was attempting to play the lute. Or murder the lute. Or murder the concept of music itself. It probably didn't help that the man was holding the lute straight out in front of him as if he feared it were a snake that might bite him.

Donnen offered the fellow the glass, fervently hoping it would make the playing stop.

"Guardsman! You came to my rescue just in time!" The blond man took the glass with a sheepish laugh and all but threw the lute into a nearby chair.

"It's just Donnen these days," he replied, looking out over the waves. "My time in the Kirkwall guard is over."

"Retirement is grand, isn't it? No more responsibility, no more senior officers yelling at you, no more Kirkwall..." The other man looked wistfully out at the birds diving into the waves down the coast.

The sun was setting behind them, turning the Amaranthine Ocean a deep sapphire and sending the seabirds back up the cliffs to their nests.

"Kirwall's still out there. Along with all those other things. I just didn't bring them to the bar." Donnen grinned. "So what did you retire from?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." The man gave him a lopsided grin in return. "You want to hear a badly told story about a bastard prince with an unholy love of cheese?"

"Why not? We've got time."

And while the blond man spun his unlikely tale, the two of them watched the last of the light vanish in peace.


If Loghain was left behind in the Fade...

He poured the last dregs of a pale Fereldan larger into a mug and headed out to the patio where an old soldier sat strumming a particularly battered-looking lute.

Donnen held out the mug like a peace offering.

"Thank you, guardsman." The soldier set aside the lute in favor of the mug with a businesslike efficiency. The grizzled mabari curled up at his feet flicked one ear, dreaming.

"It's just Donnen these days," He replied, looking out over the waves. "My time in the Kirkwall guard is over."

"Is it?" the soldier sighed, looking down at the sleeping dog. "If you don't still wake up from dreams about patrols, you're luckier than most."

The sun slipped down another notch in the sky behind them, and the wind coming in off the sea turned cooler.

"You know what I miss?" Donnen said. "The smell of the Lowtown Bazaar in the morning. Two dozen bakeries with loaves of bread and sweet pies in the oven."

"There are worse things," the soldier laughed, "to remember about home than the smell of pies baking." Then he sighed again. "You really are luckier than most."

Donnen smiled. "Maybe so."

The old soldier raised his mug. "Here's to home."

At his feet, the hound twitched her paws, chasing rabbits in her sleep, and the last light faded from the sky in peace.

Related codex entries

Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter One
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Two
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Three
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Four
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Five
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Six
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Seven
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Eight
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter Nine
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 10
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 11
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 12
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 13
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 14
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 15
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 16
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 17
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hard in Hightown: Chapter 18

Trivia

  • If Varric is in the party when this codex entry is discovered, he is genuinely confused and exclaims: "What the - I never wrote this!"

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