BZZZZZZZT!

BZZZZZZZT!

BZZZZZZZT!

Phone, phone, phone, wait what? Why was it on vibrate? Better yet, where was it?

A hand slapped randomly against the bedside table, right on the sharp corner. "Ow," came the miserable response to that particular pain, but the hand still continued to search. Finally, the hand relayed the information to its owner that the phone was indeed not anywhere on the table... after knocking over a picture frame and an alarm clock first, naturally.

BZZZZZZZT!

Finally, the owner lifted her head. "Wheressit?" she mumbled, one eye closed, the other eye only half open as she blearily searched her surroundings for the offending technology.

BZZZZZZZT!

"Ugh!" She righted herself in her bed, mostly, and very nearly threw up the alcohol and stomach acid mixture that threatened to erupt from her. After that, a head-pounding headache abruptly asserted itself onto her brain, and she groaned once more in misery.

BZZZZZZZT!

"Shaddup! Go away!" she whined at her demon-possessed phone, which seemed to only wish punishment upon her today. She realized that the sound was coming from somewhere actually on her bed, rather than beside it, and began digging through her rumpled sheet and cover to find it. Eventually, it surfaced, after having somehow slipped its way between the cover and sheet, and wedging itself under her leg, which she now realized was inordinately overheated. She grumbled at the phone, considering throwing it at the wall, but it was a new one as it was, and she certainly didn't feel like going to the damn store for a replacement today. Delaying her wrath for another day, one where she didn't have a hangover, seemed like a much wiser idea at the moment. She fumbled with it in her hands a bit, then finally turned it on, inputting her key code wrong twice before finally tapping in the right number.

BZZZZZZZT!

It buzzed in her hands, making her jump and drop it with a groan of exasperation. She snatched it back up and looked at the now skewed screen, flipping the phone a few times to make the screen show upright. When it finally complied, she tapped her text message app, which was what was causing all the fuss to begin with.

'8 New Texts!' it annoyingly announced, as her eyes adjusted painfully to the brightness of the screen, a tear forming in one eye with the strain of compensation. She scoffed and wiped it away in aggravation as she tried to see who the texts were from.

Five from Fenris.

Two from Dorian.

One from... unknown contact? What? She ignored the ones from Fenris and Dorian for the moment, curiosity egging her on to see if it was an advertisement or an actual person texting from an unknown contact. She tapped it and read.

Miss Tamalen Lavellan, your brother provided your number to me this morning, so I could confirm your appointment with me this afternoon at 4:30 to show me your artwork, for possible display in my gallery. I am a busy elf, so I would appreciate it if you could confirm at least an hour ahead of time, to let me know if you will indeed be arriving on time. Thank you.

~FH~

It was only then that she looked up at the clock on her phone's screen, reading the numbers 3:00 to her mixed relief and horror. She quickly tapped in the composing field below the message to reply.

Apologies for not responding earlier, but yes, I will be there. Thank you for contacting me.

~TL~

She backed out of that chat and looked at the messages from her brother.

Where are you?

~FL~

Isa'ma'lin, it's nearly noon, are you coming in at all today?

~FL~

Tamalen, it's bloody well 2 PM, Even Dorian is here, waiting for you. Are you not coming?

~FL~

You know you have an appointment with that gallery owner at 4:30, right?

~FL~

Tamalen, if you don't text me back in thirty minutes, I'm coming over.

~FL~

That last one was at 2:45. She sighed and replied quickly, knowing her brother was the impatient sort.

I'll be over in a bit, Fenris, just woke up to my phone buzzing me. I need a shower... or ten.

~TL~

She backed out of that chat and was about to check Dorian's, when a new text came in from the gallery owner's number. She tapped it and read.

Glad to hear it. I look forward to seeing your work in person.

~FH~

She shrugged. There was no telling how it would go once she got there. The pounding in her head was becoming annoying, that much she knew. She slipped out of bed with a pained grunt, padding into the kitchen and grabbing a glass from the shelf, flipping the water on and sliding the glass under the stream. She drew it up to her mouth once it was full, gulping down water greedily. She would need to be hydrated to be functional at all today. Magic couldn't take care of everything, after all. As she refilled her cup, she went to look at Dorian's texts.

Missy, I know you're more hungover than I am, but your brother's getting pissed. Might I suggest heading to the studio when you have a moment?

~DP~

Your brother's practically glowing over here, you may wish to hurry.

~DP~

She pulled the glass from the stream, overflowing as it was and drank again, downing it, then chuckling as she caught her breath. She replied as she filled the glass one last time.

Don't worry, Dorian, I'll be over in a bit. I already texted him.

~TL~

In the middle of her typing, she got a text from Fenris.

It's about damn time, Tamalen! Get your shower and get over here, you told me you've got a piece to finish before the appointment, in case you forgot.

~FL~

She sighed and replied.

Yes, I remember. I got it done last night, no worries. Give me time for a shower and I'll be over.

~TL~

She rinsed the glass out and set it on the drying rack, then keyed her phone's screen off on her way to the bathroom. She knew she shouldn't have gone to that club last night, but... well, she'd listened to Hawke. Hawke was well known for convincing even the smartest people of the worst ideas, and it had been proven true last night. Lavellan had often wondered if Hawke was Fen'harel in shemlen... and female disguise, as frequently as she tricked people into doing crazily stupid things with her. Lavellan shook her head and turned the water on in her shower, waiting for it to heat up, settling on her toilet to wait and empty her bladder while she was at it. All that water she just drank had have room to go somewhere, after all.

By the time she stepped out of the shower, she was actually feeling like a normal elf. Well, mostly. Her head was still pounding, but that was nothing some elfroot wouldn't fix. A quick drying spell later and a glance in the mirror to make sure she didn't look as hideous as she felt, and she was grabbing a scrunchie to tie her hair up as she walked from the bathroom. She snatched her phone from her dresser as she went to her closet to find something to wear, and keyed the screen on. She was greeted with two new texts, one from Dorian, and yet another one from the gallery owner. Strange.

Dorian's was simple relief on his part that Fenris wouldn't be blowing up the studio today. The gallery owner's however...

I must say, I have taken a moment to look at some of your pieces online, and I am impressed. You have a style not unlike my own, actually.

~FH~

Her brow wrinkled in a frown of confusion. She'd seen his work, and it was nothing like hers. She keyed in her response in a state of confused bemusement.

I think you may have looked at the wrong artist. I've seen your work, and mine is nothing like that.

~TL~

His response was a link. She tapped on it, and it did indeed lead to one of her earlier pieces. How... odd. She replied once more.

That... is one of my pieces, yes, but I'm afraid I don't see how that's like your work. What I've seen of yours was what was painted in fresco on a castle rotunda's walls.

~TL~

She could almost hear the laughter behind his response.

And you believe my style is limited to that of one example?

~FH~

She shrugged and typed her response.

I suppose not, that probably does seem rather ignorant of me, doesn't it? Ir abelas. In any case, I'll be there at 4:30. Leaving the house to go to my studio now.

~TL~

I will await your arrival.

~FH~

She got the last one just as she got in her car, frowning at it as she turned the engine on. Mildly creepy. Oh well, he was old as the gods themselves, probably. A little creepiness likely came with the territory.

She drove to the studio and parked as quick as traffic allowed. Fortunately it wasn't too bad, due to the odd time of day, so she was through the door and greeting Dorian just at the stroke of 3:40.

"Savhalla, Dorian! How are you today?" She set her keys and sunglasses down on the counter, and walked over to where he was doing a final drying on the piece she'd finished the previous night.

He looked up and stopped casting, nodding to her. "Savhalla, Tamalen. I'm relieved that your brother didn't tear me to bits, that's how I am. And you? Head still pounding?"

She grimaced, then nodded. "Yeah sorry about that. And yes, I'm getting some elfroot, want some?" she asked, heading toward the box on the counter that housed her supply.

He shrugged. "I could use some. The pounding's died down, but there's a low, persistent ache in my neck that doesn't want to go away."

She snorted. "And you don't remember why you have that ache?"

He looked at her with dread in his eyes. "You're about to tell me, aren't you?"

She laughed, then winced as that drove a spike of pain into her skull. "Of course I am. But elfroot first."

She opened the box and brought out two small vials of elfroot tincture, then dug deeper for her pipe and some of the leaf itself, cutting it up and setting it into the bowl of the pipe before heading back to Dorian, vials and pipe in hand. She sat next to him and handed him one of the vials, leaving the pipe on the ground for now as they uncorked, toasted, and downed the tinctures. She felt the rejuvenating effects almost immediately, but it would still take time for them to fully suffuse her system. In the meantime, smoke would do. She set the vial down and took the pipe up, putting it to her lips and pointing toward the bowl as she looked at Dorian. He reached over and supplied flame as she drew on the stem of the pipe, then cleared it. She handed it to Dorian as she held the smoke in, watching him smoke.

By the time she released the contents of her lungs, he was handing her the pipe again. She pointed at him to offer another hit if he wanted it. He shook his head, so she took it and stood, grabbing their empty vials and heading back to her box. On her return trip, her face was lit with a devilish smirk. He rolled his eyes at the sight.

"Alright, what happened? The anticipation is killing me. Though, I may want to kill myself after I hear it, if that smirk of yours is any indication."

She laughed, unceremoniously flopping down next to him as she threw her head back. The elfroot was making her muscles relax to a point where she almost felt as if her body was made of liquid. "I don't know the details of what happened, but I do know Bull dragged you off to a more secluded spot, and absolutely everyone could see the bulge in his pants. I'm pretty sure you can figure out why your neck is sore from that alone."

Dorian groaned, letting his brow sink into his waiting palm.

"Well, my neck feels better now," he mumbled from his embarrassed slump.

Tamalen snorted, shaking her head and gesturing lazily to the piece he had been working on. "So's that dry now?"

He lifted his head to look where she indicated, and nodded slowly. "Yes, mostly. Some thicker parts are being a bit stubborn, but I'll have them ready by the time we have to leave. Fenris said the gallery owner contacted him today for your number, did he ever get ahold of you?"

She nodded. "He did, yeah. Seems interested in my work, which I told him I find a little odd, considering what I've seen of his. Then again, he pointed out that the example I cited was only one style of his, and of course he's totally right. It's not like I've always had just the one style. It was stupid of me to assume that of him, when it's not even true for me, I guess."

"Mm," Dorian replied helpfully, and went to work on the piece in front of him without further comment.

"Mm?" she asked, tilting her head. "It's not like you to let something like that pass by without an acerbic statement of some sort."

"Hmm?" He turned back to look at her with questions in his eyes, then seemed to parse what she'd said. "Oh, sorry, I'm just a little distracted. So did the gallery owner call you? Seems like he must've, with that much conversation."

She shook her head. "No, we just texted. Seems nice enough, if a little on the creepy side."

Dorian snorted as he returned his gaze to the painting, running his hands just over the surface of the paint with a heating spell. "Well he is gods know how old, I imagine he's developed a few odd personality quirks over the centuries."

"Yeah, that's what I figured." She shrugged. "Anyway I guess we'll find out for sure in..." she looked up at the clock and promptly leapt to her feet. "Shit! We better get going, Dorian, I don't want to be late."

He chuckled, nonplussed. "We've already loaded most of the paintings, I just need to finish this one and we can go. The gallery's only three blocks over, we'd make it even if we left at 4:25. You know traffic doesn't start bogging down until five before five."

She grimaced and shook her head. "Still, I don't want to leave late. I'll get Fenris, you finish that up and get it loaded."

Tamalen turned and left the room, to the soundtrack of Dorian's call of, "Do I look like a dolly cart to you?"

She snickered and entered the stock rooms, casting about for her brother. She found one of them, but not Fenris. "Mahanon, have you seen Fenris? We're supposed to be going to that gallery in half an hour."

Her younger brother nodded as he worked a chisel and hammer, shaping marble into art. "He was up front last I saw him, wrangling some babies into buying one of Divine Victoria's later pieces. Want me to get him?"

She shook her head. "No, I'll get him."

"Which one is that?" she asked, gesturing to the sculpture he was working on. The face looked... somewhat familiar.

"Fen'harel. I know most don't include him in the pantheon these days, but if the garden's going to be symmetrical, I have to include him." He shrugged, working on the ear with careful, painstaking little taps of his hammer.

A shiver rolled up her spine. She shook herself, wondering what that reaction was about. But she couldn't shake the feeling that she'd seen that face before.

"Good luck at the gallery," her brother wished her.

She nodded absently as she waved at him and turned toward the main gallery. "Thanks."

Then Tamalen ran almost right into Fenris on his way to the back. "Fenedhis!" she exclaimed, a bit too loudly.

Fenris shushed her with a fierce frown behind the finger over his lips. "About time you showed up, isa'ma'lin. Have you talked to Dorian?"

"Yes." She nodded. "He's almost done. I want to leave early, just in case traffic decides to be nasty."

Fenris sighed. "Well fortunately, I thought ahead for you, or we never would've made it on time. The truck's already loaded, aside from the one he's working on."

"I know, he told me. Can we leave as soon as he's done, or do you have babies to take care of?"

He shook his head. "No, they already bought the painting and left. Are you actually ready?"

She shrugged. "As I'll ever be. I'd feel better with another shower, but I'll live."

He leaned in and sniffed her, then shook his head again. "You're fine, I don't smell any alcohol, just your usual ozone scent."

She glared at him.

"What?" He shrugged. "Every Storm Caste mage I've ever met smelled like ozone to me."

She rolled her eyes and started toward her own studio to check on Dorian. Fenris followed wordlessly.

"Ah, good, you found him," Dorian greeted as they came into view. "I've just finished," he said, gesturing to the piece.

Fenris nodded his approval. "Good, let's get it loaded and get out of here. I've already closed up the gallery for the day. I'll count the till when we get back."

Dorian nodded and helped Fenris hoist the painting up, heading to the back door and the truck awaiting them in the parking lot. Tamalen followed with the keys. After the painting was secured, they piled into the cab of the truck, Dorian in the back seat, Fenris driving. Tamalen handed him the keys and clicked her seatbelt on with a quiet huff. She hoped the sampling she'd picked out to bring would be enough to satisfy the gallery's owner.

Her latest piece was inspired by some ancient ruins she'd gone out of town recently to visit, and she'd taken lots of reference shots to keep the place firmly in her memory. Such places were generally either small museums, or totally forgotten by anyone but the gods themselves these days, and she'd stumbled on one such forgotten place by accident, during a camping trip. She never would've found it, if she hadn't literally fallen into it, nearly breaking her leg in the process.

She hoped the resulting piece was worth the near injury.

As they pulled into the ally abutting the back entrance of the gallery, she took a deep breath. She was about to meet an ancient. His expectations of quality would probably be ridiculously high. She took out her phone and sent a text to him, her fingers shaking more than she liked, but she managed.

We're here.

~TL~

The reply was almost instant.

Excellent. See you in a moment.

~FH~