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Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
((1 Guardian, 36 Dragon; Antiva City; Nicolette O'Hara ))

The weather had grown balmier the further north they sailed, and Celeste’s spirits had risen steadily with the temperatures. Nicolette had almost recovered fully from her injury, and had made it back up to the crow’s nest the day before, with Celeste on deck trying to look like her heart wasn’t in her throat. The minstrel still tired more quickly than before, and still eating enough to make Dax look peckish, but the color was back in her cheeks and the sparkle back in those glorious eyes.

Freed from that worry, Celeste’s thoughts turned ahead. Mostly in anticipation: it was the longest that Gideon had been away from the ship, and she missed her first mate. But there was a sliver of trepidation in the mix, as well: worry for what might have happened to Gid and Téo in Antiva City without the rest of them as backup. Granted, the Tal Vashoth was not one to take needless risks and got on well with just about everyone he met, but there was no denying that life in Antiva was more unpredictable than most other places in the south as a rule. It was one of the reasons that Celeste liked it so much, but that particular blade could cut both ways, and it had been some weeks since the last letter from Gideon had arrived in Kirkwall on a southbound ship. Anything could happen in that time, something that she was trying hard not to think about too much. Duties on deck kept her mind occupied during the day, and Nico provided a welcome distraction at night, as well as a sympathetic ear when Celeste needed to voice her worries.

Except for the one worry that she had voiced to no one, especially Nico: how her dead husband’s brother would react to Nicolette. Gideon had raised no objections when Celeste had begun taking lovers once more a few months after Daniel had been lost at sea, but this was something else entirely. Nicolette was now staying in the cabin that had once been Daniel’s, and Celeste had risked taking the ship to Brandel’s Reach for her sake. It was more than a dalliance, more than the friends-with-benefits arrangement that she had with Bela. It was -

It was something that made her stomach feel as though a flock of gulls were in there fighting over a bit of chum when she thought about it too closely … so she didn’t. Much better to just enjoy the moment, a resolution made easier now that Nicolette was well and truly out of danger.

She stood beside Isabela at the helm as the Wicked Grace glided into the harbor. The pirate stayed on deck every waking moment, and while she willingly pitched in with all the duties, the crow’s nest and the bridge were far and away her favorite places, and Celeste had elected to let her guide the schooner into its berth. Mostly because Bela was the best choice, apart from Celeste herself, but partly to try and hold off the inevitable time that the other woman would go haring off on her own. Not having a ship to command after so many years was eating at her, and Celeste worried that desperation might well drive her back into the recklessness that had consumed her after her escape from Luis. She hadn’t been able to do a damn thing about it then, and she couldn’t do much more now, but she could offer this, at least.

And as a bonus, it left Celeste free to drink in the sight of Antiva City harbor under a cloudless sky: ships anchored or tied up, their crews either hard at work on the decks or indolent, waiting for the time to get to work. She knew most of them by sight: their captains and crews, where they had likely come from and the cargo they were probably carrying. She shouted greetings to some as they passed, exchanged boisterous insults with a few more, momentum bleeding off as the sails were furled with the ease of long practice and Bela expertly maneuvered the schooner toward an empty berth. Slower … closer … slower … closer …

“Nice work,” she congratulated her friend as the final few yards were being closed. Descending from the bridge, she stepped up to the rail and began readying a line, feeling the impatience thrumming through her but determined to do her part to get the ship tied up.

“Here.” Weathered hands lifted the line from hers. “I’ve got this,” Brannigan told her with an understanding smile and nod. “Go before you vibrate off the deck.”

Following his gaze, Celeste saw a familiar broad-shouldered and horned figure waving from the upper level of the harbor complex. Flashing Brannigan a grateful grin, she launched herself over the rail with a jubilant whoop just as the Wicked Grace bounced lightly against the cork bumpers on the dock.

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Even while knowing that they were a few days out from Antiva yet, Nicolette had spent the last week eyeing the horizon hopefully, searching out the gleaming white towers that would mark their arrival. Nearly losing Thibault and then the annoyance of her slow recuperation from being shot had made her more eager than ever to leave Kirkwall and Brandel’s Reach behind. As the days grew warmer, and the sea an ever more glittering sapphire, she felt herself opening up under the sun; her songs were all enthusiasm, and even though she still tired easily she could still dance around the deck in the evenings. The sunsets became glorious explosions of pink and yellow against purple-edged clouds, and her skin fizzed delightfully with the knowledge they would soon be in one of her favourite cities in Thedas.

Where Orlais had decadence, Antiva had elegance. Val Royeaux was certainly beautiful in a very fashionable way, but everything was a little too heavy, a little too rich; the clothes, the masks, the wine. Colour was chosen to display the wealth of the person purchasing the silks or dyed cloth, not for how well it complemented. Antiva by contrast knew how to exquisitely balance its decorations. Clothes were silk or satin, easy to wear in the heat, and vividly coloured. The food was spicy, certainly, but not muddled by an abundance of the most expensive herbs. Even the people seemed more beautiful, given a happy languor by the reliable sun during the day, and as bursting with energy at night as the juice beneath the skin of a perfectly ripe grape.

This all helped with the knowledge that she was about to meet somebody important. Celeste had already explained how important Gideon was to her; not just as her first mate, but essentially as her brother-in-law via Daniel. It had been a long time since Nicolette had been required to present herself to a lover’s family (albeit a tenuous link in this case), and she would have been a little nervous anyway without knowing he was a Tal-Vashoth.

Nonetheless she was brimming with excitement as they got nearer the docks, and Celeste had quite wisely given her some tasks to do helping them to get in, standing by with the ropes to throw to the shoremen. The docks in Antiva bustled with the same life and energy as docks anywhere else, but even here it felt special; the houses were painted white, some with swirling murals of flowers and stars, and many of them had flowers winding down from the rooftops.

She didn’t have long to appreciate the view before Celeste catapulted herself off the side of the ship with a whoop of joy, aiming directly towards a Tal-Vashoth who could only be Gideon. Up at the wheel, Isabela was laughing and waving, as were most of the crew. The first mate had clearly been missed.

Nicolette was tempted to follow Celeste over the side, but gave her captain the benefit of a few moments to enjoy her reunion with her friend, and concentrated on assisting the crew with the remainder of the tasks that would bring them safely against the dock. Only when the gangplank was down and secured did Nicolette glance around at Kali, who nodded her permission for Nicolette to follow Celeste onto the quay. While still a little nervous about meeting Gideon, she all but bounced her way down, breathing in the sea salt air, sun-warmed timber and the thousands of mingling sounds that made up the docks.
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Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline

Celeste had covered only half the distance to Gideon when a small form careened into her and hung on like a limpet. Not so small as she remembered, mind you, and after a fierce hug, she leaned back a bit to confirm that the face under the tousled mop of sunbleached hair did indeed belong to her cabin boy.

“What’ve you been feeding him?” she asked as Gideon arrived and caught them both up in a rib-crushing hug. Téo had gained half a head in height, and lost a front tooth.

Everything,” Gideon replied with an emphatic roll of his eyes. “I was about to have to get honest work just to keep him fed.”

“I been earnin’ my keep!” Téo exclaimed indignantly, stepping back and producing a small pouch that he’d tucked out of reach of cutpurses, jingling it proudly.

“That he has,” Gideon agreed. “He’s developed quite the business as a messenger.” Celeste didn’t have to ask to know that the amount that Gideon would have taken for his ‘keep’ would be nominal, though enough to be felt.

“Planning on being a landlubber, then?” Celeste teased the boy, ruffling his hair. Maybe it was that he was the first cabin boy she’d taken on after Daniel’s death, and the first she’d chosen on her own, or maybe it was that he’d always been scrappy, despite his diminutive size, but she’d always felt more protective of Téo than she had of Bailey when he’d held the position. She’d missed him.

“No chance!” he asserted, shaking his head vehemently. “I’m ready to go, cap’n!” His shining eyes turned to the Wicked Grace, following her lines with possessive pride.

“She looks good,” Gideon proclaimed with satisfaction. “Any trouble?”

Celeste chuckled. “Let’s just say we’ve got plenty of stories to tell,” she replied.

“If that’s Bela I saw at the helm, I’d imagine you do,” he replied with a grin. He’d witnessed many of their escapades over the years.

“Those aren’t even the wildest ones,” she told him, and had the satisfaction of seeing his eyebrows arch in surprise. There would be hours’ worth of catching up to be done over drinks and food. “Any problems here?”

“Nothing worth mentioning,” he responded with a negligent wave. “Been staying at the Golden Galleon. Tonio gave us room and board in exchange for bouncing on busy nights, and - Hel-looo! Who’s that?”

Celeste didn’t need to turn to know that he’d just caught sight of Nico. The sudden dip into that familiar velvety purr was enough; less familiar was the sudden twist of apprehension in her gut. It wasn’t jealousy, exactly; she and Gideon had shared lovers before I Isabela being a case in point - though never together. He was too much like a brother for that to feel right. And if Nicolette took a fancy to him, that was fine, it was just -

“She’s pretty, Cap’n!” Téo proclaimed, hazel eyes shining with admiration.

“Passenger?” The query was casual enough, but the curiosity in Gideon’s expression indicated that he’d noticed her trepidation.

“No. She’s -” Celeste took a deep breath and plunged forward. “She’s part of the crew.” Téo’s elated whoop made her laugh softly, and the gulls swooping in her belly eased up some. “She’s a minstrel that I met in Kirkwall. She’s … special.” Maker’s balls, she had never been this tongue-tied in her life! Her eyes met Gideon’s, pleading for understanding, absolution. She wasn’t trying to replace Daniel. “She took a bolt for me off Brandel’s Reach. Had to put in there to find a mage to heal her.”

Gideon’s eyes narrowed at this; he knew well enough what the dangers of that area were, the risk she had taken with the ship and crew, and how much magical healing had likely cost. A big hand reached out to give her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Sounds like someone I need to meet, then,” he told her with a little smile.

She nodded at him gratefully, then turned to catch Nicolette’s hand as she approached. “This is Nicolette O’Hara, ship’s minstrel,” she introduced her lover with a note of pride in her voice.

“First mate Gideon Augustus Nicodemus Santiago Darius Monroe,” Gideon gave his customary salutation with a flourishing bow, catching up Nico’s free hand for a courtly kiss. “A pleasure to welcome a new shipmate.”

“I’m Téo!” the pint-sized paramour announced as he barged in with a gap-toothed smile, taking up the minstrel’s hand almost before Gideon had released it and bestowing a kiss of his own in a passable imitation of the Tal Vashoth.

Someone had been taking lessons. Celeste looked to Gideon with one eyebrow arched, and he shrugged modestly. Well, the boy couldn’t find a better teacher, both in how to woo women and how to treat them properly.

“I’m the cabin boy!” he went on, whipping a small bouquet of slightly battered but bright hothouse flowers from behind his back and presenting them to her. Where had the little scamp come up with those so quickly? Glancing around, Celeste spotted an angry looking bloke stalking toward them from one of the numerous stalls throughout the city that sold the blooms.

“Be right back,” she said, releasing Nicolette’s hand and setting an intercept course.

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Celeste had only made it a little way along the dock towards the towering figure when she was sidelined by a small form barrelling into her. Nicolette assumed this was Téo; Bailey confirmed this with a chuckle. “He’s grown some. I bet Gideon’s been having a fun time keeping him busy.”

“If he is anything like my brother, I imagine it is hard to keep up with him.” Nicolette felt a wistful twinge at the thought of Michel, as she always did. He always wanted stories from her travels, and she longed to bring him on an adventure and be the one to introduce him to the wonders beyond Cumberland, but Maman and Saul had been firm. He could venture abroad when he was a little more grown, but for now they wanted to keep him close, learning how Saul’s business was run. Fortunately, he seemed happy enough on her visits home with this arrangement. It did not stop him from haring all over the estate with a pack of other boys from the nearby farms and houses, occasionally earning a rebuke for helping himself to various fruit yields. On her most recent return, he’d had a story about being chased out of the tavern. It was strange to think that he was no longer quite so little anymore.

Nicolette finished helping bring the ship to shore, then made her way down the gangplank. Her breeches were a pair she had borrowed from Celeste to augment her meagre collection of travelling clothes, as skirts were not especially practical on the ship, but the tunic was a pretty one in dark green with pomegranates embroidered around the neckline and hem. Slightly anxious to make a good impression, she had chosen the best she had available.

She descended carefully down to the dock, then looked up to find Celeste, Gideon and Téo all looking in her direction. Both seemed a bit surprised, and she sought to reassure them with a smile as Celeste introduced her. The note of pride in her captain’s voice was not something Nicolette was used to hearing in association with herself, and it caused a warm, happy feeling in her chest as she gently squeezed Celeste's hand. “This is Nicolette O’Hara, ship’s minstrel.”

Nicolette had noticed in the past a few qunari who were objectively attractive, but had not been especially interested herself; looks were one thing but she liked character as well, which did not seem to be an attribute amongst the ones she had encountered. Gideon, on the other hand, had it in spades. Before she could speak, he was introducing himself in a mellifluous voice, before bowing deeply. “First mate Gideon Augustus Nicodemus Santiago Darius Monroe.” He then caught her hand with surprising gentleness and kissed it. “A pleasure to welcome a new shipmate.”

“The pleasure is all mine-” Nicolette’s own attempt at a greeting was immediately interrupted by Téo, but she could not be the least bit annoyed as the boy gave his own version of Gideon’s courtly introduction, also gracing her hand with a kiss. Nicolette could not help beaming at him, but fortunately managed to resist the urge to ruffle his hair. He was so cute!

The impression was only increased as from behind his back he produced a fistful of blooms, shedding petals but beautiful nonetheless. “I’m the cabin boy!”

Nicolette accepted them, then felt Celeste shift beside her and followed her captain’s gaze in the direction of an annoyed-looking shopkeep heading in their direction. Ah. Celeste headed forward to intervene, leaving Nicolette free to actually introduce herself to Teo and Gideon properly.
“It is a pleasure to meet you both.” In recognition of Gideon’s own bow, she curtseyed to them, then straightened up. “Téo, these are beautiful - thank you so much. Do you mind if I put them in my hair? That way I won’t be able to drop them if somebody jogs me.”

Téo gave her a gap-toothed grin. “You can do as you please with them, my lady.”

Gideon made a sound that might have been muffled laughter, but he definitely looked approving of his little protegée when Nicolette’s gaze met his. She started weaving the stems together. “Celeste has told me much of the two of you. I look forward to getting to know you both properly.”

“And I gather she has much to tell us of you,” Gideon responded. “How did you come to meet her?”

Nicolette grinned. “Well, I was employed to run a secret message to her on behalf of a dwarf who was convinced all of Kirkwall was in danger. Then she persuaded me to come along helping her collect bat guano from the Kirkwall Chantry roof, and the evening ended with us escaping from the Grand Cleric’s balcony moments before we were discovered, after planting a pair of bloomers in her desk.”

Well, it had not quite ended there, but there was no need to to share those details in front of Téo. It earned her a bellowing laugh from Gideon, and Teo was almost hopping up and down as she placed the finished flower crown in her hair. “What?! How did you end up there?”

Celeste was still talking with the shopkeep, so Nicolette started spinning the tale from the beginning, as she had headed down to the docks to deliver the message and being startled by Celeste promptly eating the letter.