It’s no surprise that the salacious Randy Dowager Quarterly has been denounced by the Chantry. What is surprising, however, is that the Chantry finds it necessary to publicly renew their condemnation every time a new pamphlet is released. How does one publication, no matter how scandalizing, garner such attention from the Sunburst Throne?
The history of the Randy Dowager Quarterly is a murky one. There is no indication that any official publishing house is responsible for printing and distributing the hundreds of pamphlets, though it is, without a doubt, being printed somewhere. Rumors place the blame on everyone from the Nevarran royal family to the Antivan Crows, though it is unlikely either the Pentaghasts or the Crows have any stake in selling erotic literature. The more level-headed gossip suggests the Quarterly is distributed by the Dowager herself, and points out that while the modest sixteen page octovos sell for 3-5 silvers, special editions on vellum can run up to 100 gold or more. With a printing press and staff, the Dowager herself could be running the entire operation without including any publishing houses.
But who is the Randy Dowager? There are no records of an actual name behind the moniker, and researching the meager history of the publication only results in finding a few of the original copies. These, like the most current releases, offer no hints as to the origins of these provocative pamphlets, and the only difference is the original was a eight page quatro rather than an octovo, and included a delightful introduction by the eponymous Dowager. When asked, a prominent bookseller in Orlais, who requested to remain anonymous, suggested the Dowager was the personal enchanter to Empress Celene, a mage named Vivienne. The recurrent Chantry condemnation would appear to negate this suggestion, though it is always a possibility that the denunciation is meant to cover up royal involvement. Another prominent bookseller, also anonymous (one wonders what Orlesian booksellers are so frightened of,) has suggested the Randy Dowager is none other than Carmina Bicchieri, preeminent travel journalist.
In contrast to the Randy Dowager, Lady Bicchieri is well-known, having published dozens of books chronicling her travels throughout the continent. Her knack for being accepted into the most reclusive populations, such as the Dalish clan that has permanently settled in south Llomerryn, has made her writings indispensable in understanding the unique cultures so distant from the universities of Orlais. Lady Bicchieri is indeed a dowager, as her husband left her with a formidable fortune when he passed on. In addition, her works have also been denounced by the Chantry, but that is hardly a irrefutable connection when her journals on Rivain offered a scathing rebuke of Chantry doctrine.
A few similarities does not a confirmation make, and Lady Bicchieri has neither confirmed nor denied her involvement with the Quarterly, leaving the reading public with no real answers as to the Quarterly’s origins. Only one thing is known for sure: in a month, a new Quarterly will be released, the Chantry will renew its condemnation, and the mystery of the Randy Dowager will continue, no doubt to the delight of many titillated readers.
– The Mystery of the Randy Dowager by Cecilio Pereira