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A Little Fun For Once In Your Life [Semi-open]

Isabela

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79
#21
Well, colour Isabela intrigued. It wasn’t the least bit unusual for Josc to appear at the Hanged Man, and only marginally less usual for her to arrive with a stranger in tow. The eldest Hawke had a habit of adopting people, it seemed. Came with having that good heart she tried to pretend wasn’t there, sometimes. Isabela was usually interested in the strays that Josc picked up, because to get her attention they had to be interesting in some fashion, but this one turned her head more than most.

First off, she was extraordinarily pretty. Second, while she was dressed in the same style as most other people in here, it was in well-tailored clothing made from good material. Rich. Third, she was gazing around the tavern with an expression that all but spelled out ‘it’s my first time in here’. And finally, she kept glancing longingly at Josc, blue eyes wide with admiration.

From a brief glimpse Isabela got between hands after the pair had settled, the admiration didn’t entirely appear to be one-way either. Interesting.

Varric appeared and smoothed his way over to Josc’s table, after which Isabela decided to drop the hand she was dealing, take her winnings before her partners could realise there was one card too many in her hand, and go to investigate this intriguing arrival. She turned towards them and sauntered her way across the room, adding a little extra swing to her hips for the benefit of the girl who looked as though her eyes were going to pop out of her head. When she reached the table, she stroked Varric’s shoulder through the silk shirt, and flashed white teeth at the three of them.

“Josc. Varric. Good to see you both.” She turned her gaze on the pretty young thing. With that mass of fluffy blonde hair, the wide eyes and the way she’d shadowed Josc across the room, she’d reminded Isabela of – ha. Yes. “Hello, duckling. What’s your name?”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#22
Josc grinned over at Adelaide, unable to not look at her when she blushed. It was adorable and endearing, and she probably let her eyes linger longer than they should have. Josc was doing good with not being overly forward but it was going to be damn hard to keep her from looking at the woman beside her.

She was still looking at Adelaide when Varric spoke, "Dancing at the Hanged Man doesn’t always qualify as non-violent.

Josc snorted, glancing in his direction, “Depends on the night, but you are right.

I’d like to learn cards. I know a couple, but they’re very sedate.” Sedate. She’d never playd a game of cards that could be described as such, but she never really got invited to any fancy Hightown tea parties either.

Well, wicked grace is fun, can be a little cutthroat. Diamondback is another we could try,” Josc offered. Wicked grace was her preferred game, but she’d be willing to concede to any other games Varric might suggest.

Wicked Grace is anything but sedate.” Varric offered, and Josc grinned at him. Her fingers brushed over Addie’s shoulder light enough to not be intrusive, but firm enough that she knew she was there.

Although I’ve been told I can have a good poker face. Usually.” Addie said, and Josc looked over at her again.

I don’t think blushing is a tell, so I’d be inclined to believe that,” she teased. “Though seeing is believing.

Well, if you can bluff against Hawke and Rivaini, you can bluff against anyone,” Varric offered up as Josc turned and noticed Isabela finally making her way over. She paused to touch their dwarven companion, then turned her eyes to Addie.

Josc. Varric. Good to see you both.” Josc gave her a wide grin, moving just a fraction closer to Addie. She wasn’t the jealous sort, not really, but there was a bit of protective instinct settling in. “Hello, duckling. What’s your name?

It’s always a pleasure, Isabela. Have a seat.” She gestured to an open chair, “We were considering a card game. This is my friend, Addie.
 

Adelaide Orland

Noble
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69
#23
Varric reassured her that she wouldn’t have been the only one stealing a glance at the Rivaini woman. Addie decided she liked him; he had a broad face and a broader smile that spoke reassurance, and there was something about his eyes that seemed kind. His teasing was gentle, and he did warn her that dancing here wasn’t always non-violent. Addie tried to picture violent dancing, and immediately imagined somebody executing a spin with their partner that catapulted them into the opposite wall. But she couldn’t see any person-sized dents in the plasterwork…

She was quick to take up the offer of cards, and Josc offered a couple of options. “Well, wicked grace is fun, can be a little cutthroat. Diamondback is another we could try.”

“Wicked Grace is anything but sedate.”

Diamondback it was, then, although Addie did want to prove she wasn’t boring. She did offer up that she’d been told she had a good bluffing face, although she was not sure if that still held water when sitting next to a woman she liked a lot and who had the ability to make her blush every few moments.

“Well, if you can bluff against Hawke and Rivaini, you can bluff against anyone.”

Addie smiled, noticing that he’d left himself out of that. Modesty, or a bluff of his own? “I will certainly try.”

She didn’t get much further with that thought, as Isabela herself turned her attention in their direction and started walking over with the same slow, easy grace that Addie had seen once in a captured big cat at the DuMonfort estate. That one, however, had prowled with the restless tension of the caged. There was nothing but absolute confidence in this woman’s gait, and the way she studied Addie.

“Josc. Varric. Good to see you both.” Amber eyes gave her another once-over, and Addie felt a little relieved when Josc shifted closer. The woman was undoubtedly attractive and immensely distracting, but she also felt a little dangerous, somehow. “Hello, duckling. What’s your name?”

Duckling?

“It’s always a pleasure, Isabela. Have a seat.” Josc indicated the chair by them. “We were considering a card game. This is my friend, Addie.”

“It’s lovely to meet you, Isabela.” Despite the sensation the other woman was giving her, Addie accepted this all as part of coming down here, and enjoying her taste of temporary freedom. Getting to meet new and exciting people, and most importantly, spending time with Josc. And proving that she was more than just a noble’s cossetted daughter, and with that in mind, she took another drink of the whisky, did better at concealing her expression this time, and put it down delicately. “I'm afraid I don't know many card games, but Varric and Josc were going to teach me.” She looked at her other two companions. “I think – I would like to learn Wicked Grace. I’m told I pick things up pretty fast.” She smiled, hoping it looked more confident than she felt.
 

Varric Tethras

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#24
Adelaide stoutly proclaimed that she had a good poker face, which, Varric conceded, might be possible. He hadn’t seen her play poker yet, but her every thought as she glanced around the Hanged Man was writ large across her face … especially when her eyes fell on Isabela.

“I don’t think blushing is a tell, so I’d be inclined to believe that,” Josc said. “Though seeing is believing.”

Varric chuckled. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” he told Hawke. “If we use Rivaini’s special deck, I’ll bet we can tell if she gets the queen of knights.” Isabela had a deck of cards decorated with naked women in a variety of poses that grew more immodest the higher the cards got. Legend had it that one chap who had drawn a royal flush had given his hand away by fainting … but that could just be Rivaini’s bullshitting.

Rivaini responded to his invitation by sauntering over with that lazy roll of her hips that had every eye in the bar that was sober enough to focus. “Josc. Varric. Good to see you both,” she greeted them, but her eyes were on Adelaide with the expression of a cat sizing up a bowl of cream. “Hello, duckling,” she purred. “What’s your name?”

You could almost hear the girl’s thoughts sizzling up and evaporating in a sudden rush of heat, but Josc stepped into the gap, shifting closer to Adelaide in a way that could definitely be construed as possessive. Very interesting. “It’s always a pleasure, Isabela,” she greeted her friend with a smile, nodding toward an empty chair. “Have a seat. We were considering a card game. This is my friend, Addie.”

“It’s lovely to meet you, Isabela.” Adelaide recovered enough to give the pirate a shy smile, taking a hit of liquid courage from her glass. “I'm afraid I don't know many card games, but Varric and Josc were going to teach me. I think – I would like to learn Wicked Grace. I’m told I pick things up pretty fast.”

Straight lines like that ought to be illegal. “We’ll start slow,” he assured her, glancing at Rivaini to make sure she was on board … and that she’d gotten the same read on Josc that he had. Normally, Hawke wasn’t averse to sharing her playmates, but he didn’t think that was the case here. “And use your regular deck,” he added to Isabela.
 

Isabela

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#25
Oh, she was pretty, and she blushed like a rose. Not usually Josc’s type, but Isabela wasn’t going to fault her on the choice. Neither did she miss the gentle shift towards the girl’s side. Josc was being almost possessive, which was new, and definitely worth poking fun at later. In the meantime, Josc introduced the girl as ‘Addie’, and cemented Isabela’s interest by mentioning that they were about to play a card game. “One of the stripping variety, I hope?” Isabela commented, unable and unwilling to hold her tongue.

The girl had manners, too. “It’s lovely to meet you, Isabela.” She took a sip from her drink, and crinkled her nose in a manner that reminded Isabela of Merrill. “I’m afraid I don’t know many card games, but Varric and Josc were going to teach me. I think – I would like to learn Wicked Grace. I’m told I pick things up pretty fast.”

Isabela turned a broad grin on her friends. Both of them would know full well what was going through her head, and Varric didn’t help. “We’ll start slow.”

Isabela took a seat, throwing one leg up on a nearby chair as usual. “Tell us if you’re uncertain of what to do, Duckling. I’m sure Josc would be very willing to guide you through it.”

She wasn’t actually being mean, just teasing, but it might have edged into mean if she pushed it, and she wasn’t in the mood for a pissed-off Josc. Not when the night offered opportunities for much more ribbing at the right pace. Varric advised her against using her saucy card set, and she pouted at him, but didn’t fight him on that. Instead she dug inside her bodice and retrieved the normal pack she had tucked there earlier in the evening.

“Wicked Grace is a game of skill,” she started, “and outright cheating. You can do whatever you like in order to get the better hand, as long as you’re not caught. It’s an automatic loss if you’re caught with your hand in the pot – or wherever.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#26
I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Varric offered “If we use Rivaini’s special deck, I’ll bet we can tell if she gets the queen of knights.

Oh yes, the special deck. Which she had enjoyed on many occasions. She was here to help Addie have new experiences, and while the deck might make her blush, maybe she’d enjoy being exposed to the art on the cards.

One of the stripping variety, I hope?” normally Josc would have played right along with that, but tonight, she let the comment die without comment. Her fingers traced lightly over Addie’s shoulder.

It’s lovely to meet you, Isabela.” Addie said before taking a drink from her glass. “I'm afraid I don't know many card games, but Varric and Josc were going to teach me. I think – I would like to learn Wicked Grace. I’m told I pick things up pretty fast.

We’ll start slow,” Josc followed his eyes to Isabela. “And use your regular deck.”

She gave a snort at that, and straightened in her chair a little as she took her own sip of whiskey. Isabela got comfortable then, “Tell us if you’re uncertain of what to do, Duckling. I’m sure Josc would be very willing to guide you through it.

She grinned, rolling her head to look over at her companion, “It’s true. I can even sit out a few hands to help you along if you want.

Her gaze turned back to the rest of the table, “We can probably forgo betting until she gets the hang of things then?

Not that she wouldn’t pony up some coin to lose for both of them, just seemed a fair way to teach without wringing them dry of money. Isabela retrieved the appropriate deck and started to lay the ground rules, “Wicked Grace is a game of skill, and outright cheating. You can do whatever you like in order to get the better hand, as long as you’re not caught. It’s an automatic loss if you’re caught with your hand in the pot – or wherever.

Josc leaned in to whisper, “The skill is really just knowing when to cheat and when to keep your hand.

She glanced back at Isabela, “And knowing how to not let others distract you with their assets.
 

Adelaide Orland

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69
#27
Isabela put one leg up on a chair, and Addie very quickly looked away before her gaze could follow it, um, upwards. She was wearing something under there, but it that didn’t mean Addie was going to stare! “Tell us if you’re uncertain of what to do, Duckling. I’m sure Josc would be very willing to guide you through it.” Apparently the Duckling nickname was sticking. It didn’t seem like the woman was being mean, though. Particularly as within the next moment she was all business, beginning to explain the rules of the game – which were apparently formalities, as the whole point was to avoid getting caught cheating. And Josc did offer to help her along for a bit. Addie nodded gratefully, and reached beneath the table to squeeze Josc’s hand gently. Josc whispered to her.

“The skill is really just knowing when to cheat and when to keep your hand.” She glanced at Isabela. “And knowing how to not let others distract you with their assets.”

Where was she supposed to look when her opponent appeared to be entirely made of ‘assets’? Still, she giggled a little, the whiskey having finally unfurled enough of its warmth to make her feel a little less afraid of making a fool of herself with every breath. “That’s a clever technique, now you mention it. Do you think I’d be able to do the same, with time? I’m not really sure how to use mine.” She tugged at the edge of her shirt collar with a fingertip. “Not that I have much, anyway. I don’t think.” She glanced downwards, as though something would have spontaneously developed in the last few moments.

The whiskey hadn’t gone that much to her head. But given she didn’t know the game, and wasn’t that comfortable with the idea of using her body as the distraction, she would have to do something she was good at, and hopefully lead her more experienced partners to underestimate her. Already unversed in the game, appearing a little tipsy could only work in her favour.

Isabela was beginning to deal out the deck. The cards were, at least, familiar, she didn’t have to learn a whole new deck. When their hands were ready, she picked hers up and held them that Josc could see what she had, but nobody else.

She couldn’t tell if she had a good set or not yet, but she was beginning to settle in. She wasn’t jolting around at every loud noise anymore, and even as much as Isabela had unsettled her, there didn’t seem to be any malice in the other woman. And Varric was really friendly. And there was Josc. Unconsciously, Addie shifted so she was pressed a little more against Josc, making a contented noise as she looked over her cards. “Is this good?”
 

Varric Tethras

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#28
Rivaini kept her teasing to a minimum, but she clearly noticed Josc’s interest in Addie, and being completely good just wasn’t her style. “Tell us if you’re uncertain of what to do, Duckling,” she purred, dropping into a chair and slinging one leg lazily up on another. Addie quickly averted her eyes with a blush. She was pretty much the only one, and Varric could hear a low murmur of bets being made and see men too drunk to stand attempting to bend low enough to see what she was wearing under the chemise. One fell out of his chair. Isabela never blinked, and she damn sure didn’t blush. “I’m sure Josc would be very willing to guide you through it.”

Josc offered to sit out and help the new kid learn the ropes. “We can probably forgo betting until she gets the hang of things then?” she suggested.

“Having something to win or lose helps,” Varric replied. “Corff, get us some beans, please? Dried ones,” he added before the smartass could dump a steaming pile in front of them. Once they were delivered, he quickly divided them between the three players, then tossed one into the center of the table. “Ante up, just like poker, Milady,” he told Addie, feeling the name settle into place the way the right ones did. ‘Blondie’ was simply too easy, and the girl’s manners, cultured without being overbearing, seemed like what the term ‘nobility’ was supposed to describe. “Then bet or fold at the beginning of every round.”

“Wicked Grace is a game of skill, and outright cheating,” Rivaini announced as she started to deal with a deft hand. “You can do whatever you like in order to get the better hand, as long as you’re not caught. It’s an automatic loss if you’re caught with your hand in the pot – or wherever.”

“The skill is really just knowing when to cheat and when to keep your hand,” Josc informed her, eying the pirate as she added, “And knowing how to not let others distract you with their assets.”

“That’s a clever technique, now you mention it,” Addie giggled, and Varric wondered just how accustomed she was to whiskey. “Do you think I’d be able to do the same, with time? I’m not really sure how to use mine. Not that I have much, anyway. I don’t think,” she added, peering down the front of her bodice wistfully.

“Looking wide-eyed and clueless will work for a few hands,” Varric advised her, “especially when you are playing against men. They’re always willing to believe that a pretty face can’t possibly go with a functioning brain.” He picked up his own cards and eyed Rivaini suspiciously. Serpent of Deceit, Boar’s Tusk Dagger, Song of Love, Angel of Fortitude and Angel of Virtue. He might be able to get a Full Hand out of it, if he could get a Knight.

“There are five suits,” he said, arranging his cards as he talked. “Serpents, Daggers, Songs, Knights and Angels. Each suits have five different card types, and a standard deck has two of each type of card. Two of the same type of card is known as Twins. Not that I have any,” he grumbled.

“Dealer goes last,” he told Addie. “You pick a card to discard and place it face down beside the draw pile.” Pulling the Angel of Fortitude from his hand, he demonstrated. “Then you pick a card. I’m stuck with just the draw deck, but you can choose from the discard pile. Top of the deck.” He gave Isabela a sly glance as he made a show of taking the top card from the draw pile. “Rivaini, here, is a master at slipping them off the bottom ... which is cheating.”

He sat back, tucking his new card in. Knight of Dusk; hot damn, this hand was shaping up. “Your turn, Milady,” he invited Addie graciously.
 

Isabela

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#29
Varric and Josc both gave their advice, and in Varric’s case a new nickname. He did have a knack for it. After that little display with the giggling and staring down her own top – and the fact that she had snuck out of her home in the first place – it was clear there was more to the girl than fluffy blonde hair and beguiling eyes. Isabela was still going to call her ‘Duckling’, but ‘Milady’ wasn’t a bad shout either.

Varric started giving Duckling a rundown of the rules, although not after giving Isabela a suspicious squint. She grinned, pulled a spare knight out of the fold of her boot and laid it face-down on the table. Call it a kind gesture. Although she still had another five secreted on her person. She rarely started by cheating anyway, otherwise there was no fun. It was more interesting to get closer and closer to losing and then make off with the victory.

“Dealer goes last. You pick a card to discard and place it face down beside the draw pile. Then you pick a card. I’m stuck with just the draw deck, but you can choose from the discard pile. Top of the deck. Rivaini, here, is a master at slipping them off the bottom…which is cheating.”

“It’s a creative interpretation of the rules, Varric.” Isabela winked, and then checked out her hand. Knight of Dawn, Angel of Truth, Knight of Dusk, Serpent of Lust & Serpent of Jealousy. A middling hand, with the pairs from the knights and serpents. Could be better, could be worse. Isabela leaned even further back in her chair, her grin visible behind her cards. Varric and Josc knew her too well to assume that her expressions had anything to do with her hand; she’d be interested to see if it unnerved Duckling. She waited for the young woman to help herself first, and then discarded her Serpent of Jealousy and picked up her next one. As she did, she glanced at Varric.

She’d let them go a couple of rounds before she started playing dirty.
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#30
Varric called for Corff to bring them some dried beans to take the place of coins for training on the ante. It was a wise idea, so she could also get an idea of how the betting would work.

Josc had never really been big on those small chaste gestures of affection. She was more of an overt, touch as a means to and end, gal. But when Addie took her hand in hers under the table, she felt a warmth spread through her. And not the kind of warmth that spreads when your ready to lose your clothes. Something about Josc' expression relaxed a little, her smile less cocky and less playful, and more genuine.

That’s a clever technique, now you mention it. Do you think I’d be able to do the same, with time? I’m not really sure how to use mine.” Josc watched as she tried to tug at her neckline and bit her lip as Adelaide gazed down the front of her own shirt, “Not that I have much, anyway. I don’t think.

Josc bit her tongue on the first thing she wanted to say, not wanting to be exceptionally lewd, and finally settled on something more proper for the setting, "You're assets are perfect, darlin."

Looking wide-eyed and clueless will work for a few hands,” Josc grinned at his comment, giving a little laugh as he continued, “especially when you are playing against men. They’re always willing to believe that a pretty face can’t possibly go with a functioning brain.

"It's always fun to show them how wrong they are," Josc said at Addie's ear.

Varric explained some of the basics of the game to Addie as he looked over his cards. As he discarded and drew a new card he made a pointed comment at Isabela, who winked and said, “It’s a creative interpretation of the rules, Varric.

Your turn, Milady,” he directed at Addie as Isabela turned her attention to her hand.

Addie picked up her cards, and Josc squeezed in a little closer to view what she had. “Is this good?

Josc looked over the hand, Knight of Noontide, Serpent of Pride, Serpent-Entwined Dagger, Serpent of Avarice, and the Angel of Death. Maker, it was a great hand, and a good opportunity to help Addie cheat. She didn't let the pleasure of the hand show on her face though. She reach over with one hand and touched the top of Knight of Noontide, her other hand gave Addie's middle thigh a squeeze, "It's a decent hand. I would discard this one."

She hoped Addie understood the signals she was trying to give. "You can choose from where you want to draw."
 

Adelaide Orland

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#31
Addie had been attempting to tease Josc a little with her feigned obliviousness, but she hadn’t expected her companion’s frankly honest compliment. None of the noblemen she’d ever known would have dared say such a thing openly, unless maybe they were deep in their cups. From any of them, she would have felt justified in giving them a slap. From Josc, she found it somewhat more acceptable…and the stray thought that she wouldn’t mind Josc taking a longer look took flight across her brain.

Varric had seen right through her. “Looking wide-eyed and clueless will work for a few hands. Especially when you are playing against men. They’re always willing to believe that a pretty face can’t possibly go with a functioning brain.”

“Something of which I am all too aware,” Addie murmured drily. She knew she was smart, but sometimes it was hard to remember it when she was being spoken to like a small child for the thousandth time.

“It’s always fun to show them how wrong they are.” Josc’s breath brushed Addie’s ear, and she turned slightly towards her, smile warming a little. She thought Josc astonishingly striking, and it was not beyond the bounds of imagination that some men had assumed similarly about her. Addie somehow doubted that any of them had been allowed to believe it for any longer than a few seconds.

“Somehow I don’t believe it’ll work too well with this table. But you can tell me how I’m doing, maybe? It would be fun to win a few hands of cards the next time I’m having to play to amuse some visiting ‘person of importance’ and take a few coins from them.”

Varric was pre-emptively scolding Isabela for her usual tactics, which apparently involved sleight of hand. Isabela didn’t seem too bothered. Addie noticed she hadn’t actually said she wouldn’t do it now, either, and she watched the other woman’s fingers closely as Isabela took her set, although she couldn’t see that she’d done anything. Varric indicated it was her turn, and Addie enlisted Josc’s knowledge. She then squeaked a little as Josc squeezed her leg. Josc’s expression didn’t even flicker. “It’s a decent hand. I would discard this one.”

So it was probably either better or worse than Josc was letting on. Going over the rules of the game again in her head, Addie gingerly picked the card that Josc had indicated, and set it down very close to the draw pile. Or rather, she pretended to, fingers tucking the card into her palm at the last moment (and offering a silent thank you for Celeste’s lessons), before she drew her next. She was now up one card without having sacrificed anything, but she would need to discard the spare in the next round or she’d be rumbled when it came time to lay out her hand. She then looked at Josc as though asking if she had done the right thing, trying to avoid staring at Varric and Isabela to see if either of them had spotted anything amiss.
 

Varric Tethras

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#32
Well, that was fast.

Varric kept his expression bland as Adelaide palmed a card … and well enough that she’d have likely gotten away with it in any company but this bunch of card sharks.

But what the heck. They were playing for beans … literally. Might as well have some fun with it. Discarding the Song of Love, he deftly slipped two cards from the top of the draw pile, merging them smoothly into his hand and arranging them to conceal the count. Song of Courage and Angel of Kindness. That opened up some more possibilities.

“I’ll raise the stakes a bit,” he announced confidently, tossing two more beans into the pot. Addie might not have seen his sleight-of-hand, but Rivaini would have seen both of them, and a master class in cheating at cards was about to begin. Hell, he might even learn a thing or two.
 

Isabela

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#33
Isabela suppressed a chuckle as a card went to the discard deck, and then miraculously didn’t remain on the top of the pile. Of course she’d seen the girl palm it, and another mistake had been doing it so early on; the deck was still quite neat on the table. In another round or so the pile would be slightly askew from everybody taking their turn, and then a slightly mis-set card would draw little attention. It wasn’t a technique she’d recommend against the best card-sharks (and Addie was sitting at a table with three of the best in Kirkwall), but against a few drunks who were too busy looking at cleavages rather than cards? It’d play out pretty nicely for her.

Varric had spotted it too. In his way of acknowledging it without denting the girl’s confidence, he raised the stakes. Isabela followed suit. “Two whole beans from me as well.”

Her actual hand was inconsequential. It wasn’t a bad one, and she discarded and claimed the next with her usual cocky grin. She had about three cards in the folds of her boots and another two secreted under the scarf at her waist. She picked one card from her hand and tapped it against her teeth, waiting until the sweet young thing caught her eye and then winking slowly. Addie almost dropped her hand, her grip dipping juuust enough that Isabela could see the extra card in the set. Presumably she’d be trying to get rid of that at the first opportunity, and Isabela, while being kind to the new player, wasn’t going to make it that easy.

She reached back to scratch the nape of her neck, producing the card she knew would be tucked into her collar, deftly slipping it into her hand. She didn’t feel the need to go ‘look over there!’ while she did so, and she grinned at the table. “You’re all toast! Next round’d be on me, if we were playing for coin.”

She leaned slightly towards Addie. “That’s another rule nobody tells you. Cheating’s key, but winner buys a round at the end. Helps makes things less sour.”

As she leaned over, she jolted the table, and the noblewoman looked away, just for a second. Isabela pinched the spare card right out of her hand.
 
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