"How do you put up with him? It’s always Chantry-this and Maker-that with him, not to mention that Starkhaven business he keeps complaining about but never fixing…”

The only people prudent enough not to ask were my companions. But I saw it in Fenris’ sidelong looks and Isabela’s sighs and folded arms, and every time I had a conversation longer than five minutes with any Kirkwaller that had met the Vael lad, the question arose in some form or another.

I don’t know who they’re talking about, but it’s not Sebastian Vael.

Sebastian Vael is a man divided between two worlds and two desires. He is repentant and rueful, but full of passion even he cannot quell, not even with a will of steel. He is wistful when he murmurs the Chant to himself, reflexively — wistful because the beauty of being a chanter is lost to him as long as he travels with me. He beams at the opportunity to help some lost Darktown soul because he wants to believe his redemption will be found in the imparting of coin to the downtrodden. After all, he can’t bring the dead back to life, nor can he swallow words already spoken or undo deeds already committed.

He is a diligent witness to the rising of the sun. He is a new adept at the art of deadpan humour, training under the master, Varric Tethras. He bows to my hound without self-consciousness. He treats the crass tavern clientele with courtesy, even when he is spit upon. Even with watery ale dripping off his nose and chin, he stays his hand, and his steady hand on my chest keeps me from starting a brawl on his behalf. “It is merely ale,” he reminds me, softly, wiping it away with a wrinkled napkin. “Let us not shed blood for the sake of pride alone.”

He flushes deeply when Isabela speaks and yet chuckles when Merrill misses yet another “dirty thing”. He is contemptuous of the rash and mad-eyed maleficar, yet he remains seated beside the feverishly rambling Anders at the Hanged Man long into the night, long after the rest of us have given up on him. His arrows fly straight and true, yet his fingers tremble as the wrongdoer cries ‘mercy’.
He rails against the Harrimans and the other noble families of Starkhaven, but when the anger has worn down to nothing, all that’s left are broken words of apology to the family he’s lost.

Sebastian Vael is a man between worlds.
Sebastian Vael is neither a Starkhaven prince nor a brother of the Kirkwall Chantry, and yet too much of both.
Sebastian Vael, like the rest of us, merely wishes the suffering to end.

"How do you put up with him?” you ask?
What makes you so much better that you can’t?

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