Long Way Down
Royal Chef, Extra Salt
Shortly after arriving in Antiva City, you heard a rumor that the Warden had brought her royal chef with her from Denerim, but you didn’t really believe it. She doesn’t strike you as the type to fuss over something so trivial, and the food at the inn was better than you expected for a crummy hole in the wall, but not like royalty good. Besides, you’re pretty sure the only person that works in the kitchen is the city elf you keep finding asleep in weird places. It happens often enough that a few of you probably made a game of it – comparing notes on the weirdest place or position you’d found him in or making up stories about how in the world someone who sleeps so much could still be so tired all the time.
But if you ever actually set foot in the kitchen while Finch is cooking, you’ll know it’s true. He carries himself like a royal chef, someone clearly accustomed to having a full staff, a bigger space, and much higher quality ingredients. If he notices you’re there (which isn’t a guarantee), he’ll probably put you to work, muttering under his breath about working conditions before making you taste test his (actually impressively good) demi-glace. If he doesn’t see you, you might still hear him muttering, but you’re much more likely to catch him humming or whistling to himself – unfamiliar little tunes that are brighter and cheerier than you’d expect for someone who has some really choice words for tonight’s pot roast.
If you catch him when he’s not working or sleeping, though, Finch is actually pretty friendly, especially if he also happens to have a cup of coffee in his hand. Despite the fact that his rigorous schedule of napping and cooking doesn’t seem like it would leave him a lot of time to mingle, Finch always seems to know what’s going on with the crew and will happily gossip with you if you give him any sort of encouragement (like making eye contact, or not walking away when he starts talking). He’ll also tease you, gently (or less gently, depending on how well you know each other; you know he really likes the Warden because he once said something so flagrantly disrespectful to her at dinner it made you choke on your soup, but she just laughed it off and fired right back at him). You can tell how caffeinated he is just by looking at him, and after a while you’re pretty sure he has three modes: not quite awake (with a soft, dreamy smile, mumbly but affable), second cup of coffee (with a wicked, mischievous smile and a little twinkle in his eyes that spells trouble), and ready for death (seriously just turn around and walk the other way unless you want an earful).
Once you get to know him, you can’t help but wonder if the Warden didn’t bring him with her for his sake rather than her own. He cleans up pretty nice, but all the scars make you suspect the Warden found him bleeding in a gutter in an alienage somewhere, and even without his often-sharp mouth, he wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the palace under the last king’s rule. If you ask him about it, Finch will tell you that the Warden’s first act as queen was to tear down what little was left of the walls of the alienage in Denerim after the archdemon was finished with them, then hire an entirely elven personal staff from the survivors – himself included. Then he’ll smile (tiredly) and say (dryly) that he’s a symbol of of elven integration into the workforce… and that he goes with the Warden every time she leaves the capital so he doesn’t get stabbed to death in his sleep while she’s gone. You might think he was bitter about it if he didn’t sound quite so… fond.