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Dancing In The Moonlight [Closed]

Sati Adaar

Prominent member
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
[[9:41 Dragon, evening - after the events of Wicked Hearts]] Josephine Montilyet

The music was still in full flow as Sati walked out onto the balcony. After the events of the evening, everybody - including those who had originally shunned her - had gathered around, demanding accounts of Florianne’s plot in detail, how Sati had unravelled the mystery, shoving wine and food at her whenever her hands had been unoccupied. The Empress had kept her distance, gazing out over the ballroom with an implacable expression. Despite the fact that she no longer had to worry about Gaspar’s threat to her throne, she would know full well that there would be many in the room who had rather she failed.

Sati had an inkling of how that felt.

At last, she had extricated herself from the crowd as a lively tune was struck up, and most of her audience detached themselves to join the dance floor. The other members of the inner council were occupied with their own business; Leliana with her assessments of the courtiers, Josephine with her family, Cullen with trying to swat away a small crowd of admirers. Apparently being Fereldan didn’t count against him at all at the moment. The lion-themed capelet and formal breastplate that Leliana had bullied him into didn’t hurt in the extravagant Orlesian setting, although it did amuse Sati deeply.

All the Inquisition members who had attended were turned out better than usual, apart from Sera, who had chosen to fit in with the servants and swipe as much from the kitchens as she could. Leliana was in a lovely dark blue dress, Cassandra magnificent in military attire. Sati had been given a dark green and silver tunic and dark breeches, and had been allowed to keep her silverite gauntlets, much to her relief. She’d half expected to be told to wear a dress with a train stretching halfway back to Skyhold. Varric was his usual dapper self, and Josie…

Sati had had to turn herself away from the ambassador on a few occasions, realising she was watching her overlong. Josie was already pretty enough, but she looked especially beautiful this evening, and the blush that had tinted her cheeks over her sister’s teasing had been nothing short of adorable.

It was ridiculous, to be entertaining such feelings when they were in the middle of a war. Sati prided herself on being practical, and this was not practical at all.

Removing herself to the cooler air of the balcony gave her time to gather her thoughts, and focus on important things. Below, the palace gardens spread out in silvery splendour, lit by moonlight almost as bright as day. The day’s warmth had drawn out the scent of the flowers. It was so beautiful that it was almost easy to forget that guards were moving around in the shadows, quietly locating and removing the numerous corpses that scattered the grounds. So many of them were people who had simply got in the way. The world was on the brink of disaster, and the noble classes went on playing their games. Half of the problems of the evening hadn’t even been because of Florianne.

At least now they had knocked one of the legs out from Corypheus’ plans. Sati wasn’t sure it was enough to bring him down. The memories from Redcliffe were still horrifyingly strong, and even though they’d now removed Alexius and prevented Orlais from descending into civil war, there was still the matter of the Red Templars, and the Venatori. Added to that, they still didn’t know what exactly had happened at the Conclave.

Sati rubbed her face, and tried to let some of the tension drain out of her shoulders. Tonight had been a victory, but she couldn’t quite stop thinking about the battles they still had yet to come.

Josephine Montilyet

Ambassador of the Inquisition
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
Having been the Antivan ambassador to Orlais, Josephine had thought herself well acquainted with the labyrinthine intricacies of the Grand Game, but the events of the last few hours had left her head spinning. Intrigues inside of intrigues, betrayal upon betrayal, to the point that Josephine was uncertain they had unraveled all the knots. But the Empress was alive, Florianne in custody and Grand Duke Gaspard’s intended coup thwarted. That part of the terrifying future that Sati and Dorian had experienced would not come to pass.

But so much blood had been spilled to achieve it, so many deaths within the lavishly furnished rooms, the meticulously tended gardens, and still, the guests at the ball had danced and dined and gossiped as though it had all been a play staged for their entertainment. Who had died, after all? A handful of elven servants, some mercenaries and Tevinter mages … no one of any concern to the nobles who cared only that peace had been restored and their opulent lifestyles would suffer no further disruption. So insular was their thinking, so ingrained their smug conviction that their empire was the center of Thedas, that Corypheus was considered a minor concern, a threat far beyond the borders of Orlais. Fortunately, Celene was not so small-minded; the Inquisition had gained a formidable ally.

And it had been Sati’s doing. The confused and wary mercenary that had stumbled out of the Fade in the wake of the explosion had been nowhere to be seen; she was the Inquisitor, leader of the Inquisition in fact as well as name, combining diplomacy with a frank forthrightness and formidable martial skill. The furtive stares and derisive whispers of ‘she-bull’ that had greeted her entrance to the Winter Palace had given way to a mixture of fawning and appraisal as the players of the Game sized up one who had defeated one of their best. It was a change that might easily have gone to the head, but Sati had accepted effusive praise and probing questions with the same polite poise, slipping away when the orchestra began to play once more, though there had been more than a few who might have invited her to the dance floor. She cut a dashing figure in deep green and silver, the tunic tailored to accentuate her build without making her look mannish. All of the Inquisition had been resplendent in formal attire, except for Sera - but Josephine was not going to allow herself to dwell overmuch on what that hooligan might be up to.

She had been quite pleased with the way her own dress had turned out: carmine velvet with deep gold satin and beautifully embroidered trim. Not that she was here to participate in the revelry, of course, but appearances counted for much in this world, and it would be appearances that lingered as much as deeds in the minds of those in attendance. The events of this night had cemented the Inquisition’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with in Thedas, and an ally worth cultivating.

And the one most responsible for it stood alone on a balcony. Quite likely by choice, but it still did not seem right. She had been so brave, so clever, and Josephine had never been more conscious of her own lack of skill in combat. Most of the time, distance separated her from the tasks that Sati and those who accompanied her took on, but this time, Josephine had been required to make small talk knowing that only a few walls separated the partygoers from a life and death struggle. Each time that Sati had slipped away to follow up on some new bit of information that one of them had uncovered, a part of Josephine had not been able to breathe properly until she saw her striding back through the doors of the ballroom.

It was only natural that the Inquisition’s ambassador be concerned for the Inquisitor, she told herself as she began wending her way through the folk that crowded the promenade overlooking the dance floor. If her gaze had lingered on Sati on occasion, it was simply out of that concern. And friendship, of course. She was … a dear friend.

“Did you just … grab my bottom?”

Josephine stifled a giggle at the scandalized note in Cullen’s voice as she passed. The cluster of women around him was not so restrained; their merry laughter mixed with transparently insincere protestations of innocence. The poor man had never had a chance; Leliana had personally curated his garb for the fete, well aware of the effect a handsome military man would have. A few vague remarks about his background, hints of a tragic past, and the trap had been neatly laid, with the former templar serving as the piece of meat. The Inquisition’s spymaster was close by, to all appearances absorbed in her own conversation with two comtes, but also alert for any careless words dropped by one of Cullen’s admirers in an attempt to impress him.

Blue eyes shifted briefly to Josephine, Leliana’s expression unreadable. Josephine knew that her old friend no longer blamed Sati for Justinia’s death, but she remained reserved around most people, still grieving her loss and wary of attachments that could cloud her judgment. She had become somewhat more reticent around the Inquisitor of late, but Josephine would have thought that tonight’s triumph would have changed that.

Sati was indeed alone on the balcony, and Josephine paused in the doorway, wondering if she would welcome company or prefer her solitude. She had already been required to endure more than her share of vapid conversation, some of it instigated, however inadvertently, by Josephine herself. The ambassador felt her cheeks heating anew at the memory of her sister’s inane chatter. And the bit about the dolls … Maker’s breath! What must Sati have thought? And she didn’t play with the dolls anymore; it was just -

She gave herself a mental shake. Foolish to dwell on such trivialities when the weary slump of Sati’s shoulders plainly indicated that she had weightier concerns. She made no attempt to muffle her footsteps on the marble tiles as she approached; those who lived by the blade did not respond well to being startled. She had learned that the hard way with Cassandra in the earliest days of the Inquisition.

“It is a lovely night,”
she remarked, joining Sati at the balustrade, breathing deeply of the heady scent of the flowers proliferating in the gardens below. Surely it was only her imagination that the faint tang of blood lay beneath it? “It is difficult to believe that it could be so with all that has happened.” So many deaths, and yet the moons hung like opals in the night sky, casting the world beneath into a play of silvered light and deepest shadow. So many lies and betrayals, and yet Josephine could still admire the clean lines of Sati’s profile and the way that her hair captured the moonlight and seemed to glow from within.

Sati Adaar

Prominent member
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
The tap of heels against stone alerted Sati to the fact that she was no longer alone, but she didn’t balk or turn immediately. Not only would no assassin be stupid enough to announce their presence in such a way, but the sound was swiftly followed by a familiar, and comforting, scent. Sati didn’t know what Josie wore on her skin, but it gave her a quiet pleasure whenever she encountered it. Much like the woman herself.
Josie drew alongside her and leaned on the balcony as well, gazing out into the gardens. Sati stole the opportunity to sneak a glance at her. High cheekbones, full lips, and dark eyes lit bright by moonlight. In the dress she wore, with her hair up, it was easy to follow the line of her neck down to the arch of her collar, rounding smoothly to the shoulders.

Sati would have found her attractive enough anyway, but knowing how keen her mind was made her beautiful. She was also immensely busy putting that mind to managing the affairs of the Inquisition, and therefore didn’t need the advances of a mercenary who should be concentrating on the brewing war ahead of them. Sati was aware that in her way, she was being just as foolish as some of the twitterpating nobles inside.
She turned her face back towards the garden as Josie spoke. “It is a lovely night.” Then, “It is difficult to imagine that it could be so with all that has happened.”

“The skies don’t much care what we get up to down here.” Sati had never been convinced that portents could be written in the stars. They were so far away.

She then pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be sharp. I’m just - angry. After Corypheus attacked Haven, I thought that might be enough to make everybody take the threat seriously, but apparently unless it’s literally on their doorstep, it doesn’t matter to them.” She underlined the last word with a jerk of her thumb towards the ballroom.

After a moment, she turned her head towards the ambassador, lowering her voice. “Josie. Do you think I made the right choice? Celene holds the greatest sway over the nobles, but Gaspar was more trained in war than she is. But he was prepared to threaten, lie and kill to gain the throne, which would make him a poor ally if he decided against us. Then again, I doubt Celene’s hands are totally clean.”

She lowered her head into her hands. “Being a mercenary was so much simpler than this.”

It was a vulnerability she rarely expressed, but there times when she missed her old life so much. Turn up, do the job, take the money, leave. Or turn up, realise the client was a prick, leave. Having to make these decisions which affected entire nations was, day by day, eating away at her.