Long Way Down
What, like it's hard?
Evangeline DuPuis is probably the most put-together person in the Warden’s entire crew. Everything about her is prim and proper – from her good posture to her Orlesian accent – and she always looks ready for a royal audience – elegantly dressed, perfect hair, tasteful makeup, and impeccably neat and clean despite the fact that the inn you’re staying in is like a half step away from being a hovel. At first, you probably thought she was a little stuck up, and it probably took a while to dispel that impression, because frankly she’s very, very Orlesian: obnoxiously good table manners, never quite comes out and says exactly what she means, kind of makes you feel judged when you feel her attention on you while you’re talking.
Then late one night you caught her leaned over the bar with her ass in the air, compulsively rearranging all the bottles of liquor in the cabinet, and it occurred to you that Evangeline is actually maybe just a little… particular. Once you started looking for it, you caught her doing it all the time – sorting books, herbs, different shaped glass phials, even absently adjusting her silverware or lining up the peas on her plate while humming along in her slightly judgy-sounding way while you were chatting over dinner. Eventually it occurs to you that she’s not slipping out of conversations because she’s pulling some weird bard nonsense and trying to trap you, but because she has trouble engaging in a conversation without completely taking it over – especially if you land on a topic that piques her interest (usually something to do with plants, potions, or particularly juicy gossip). When that happens, Evangeline comes to life – bright-eyed and animated, speaking quickly, enthusiastically, and usually at least a little over your head. She’s smart. Really smart, you realize, nodding along as she explains, flush-cheeked, how different distilling agents and the relative coarseness of lyrium dust produce potions of fascinatingly different potencies. She always blushes and apologizes when she realizes what she’s doing, then goes back to quietly hmming and mmhming along, but even if you can’t really make sense of most of what she’s saying, it’s kind of fun listening to her talk, like you’re seeing the real her for a change – someone curious and frighteningly brilliant.
From all the books and alchemical equipment and intricately scrawled formulas she surrounds herself with, you suspect the Warden recruited Evangeline from some university somewhere – she could easily be a grad student, or even a young professor. But if you ask her, she’ll laugh and say, “Oh, no, they kicked me out of the University after the explosion.” And that’s when it hits you: she might keep her lab set up perfectly by the books, everything neatly labeled and in its assigned place, but her work? Her work is actually pretty far out there, pushing the limits of accepted alchemical science, and you never see her more excited than when she’s talking about the possibility of doing something new.