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I Wanna Get In Trouble, I Wanna Start A Fight [Closed]

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
((21 Drakonis, 9:30; Rialto, Antiva; Cam ))

Celeste was bored.

Normally, this was a circumstance that Daniel was at pains to avoid, because things tended to happen around a bored Celeste. But Daniel wasn’t around; he and Gideon had gone to negotiate a business deal with some Antivan merchant who held the traditional Antivan view that women should serve tea and warm beds, speaking - and thinking - as little as possible.

Shit all over that.

Rialto was a reasonably friendly port, so most of the rest of the crew had headed for the Raunchy Parrot to hear the tavern’s namesake mascot’s reputedly endless repertoire of ribald limericks. Celeste had hung behind, still feeling peevish at being left out. She knew the business - legal and illegal - as well as Daniel did by now, and even knowing that Daniel knew that, she was still out of sorts, and not in the mood to listen to a drunken macaw screeching out dirty rhymes.

She waited until they were well away, then loaded up the pockets of her vest with an assortment of aids to mischief and slipped down the gangplank. Maybe she’d make use of her stash, maybe she wouldn’t, but it never hurt to be prepared.

Rialto was not so large as Antiva City, but it had mostly escaped the ravages of the fourth Blight; much of the architecture was centuries old, and many of the merchant princes kept estates here. The hillsides around the city were home to some of the most renowned vineyards in Thedas, and Rialto itself was the center of the arts in Antiva, with theaters and concert halls, museums and galleries.

And lots and lots of rich people.

Pilferage had almost always come as easy to her as breathing, and as she sauntered among the milling crowds in the theater district, her eyes automatically selected marks and her hands dipped into unguarded purses here and there, liberating a sovereign or three each time, and even a loose sapphire from one clueless popinjay dressed in an eyepopping array of satins. As usual, the money was not the point: getting away with it was, and as she left the brightly lit boulevards for the shadowy streets that housed the workers upon whose backs the city rested, she deposited about half of her haul in the poorbox of a humble chantry that bore little resemblance to the massive marble cathedral across town and probably did more good than its wealthy counterpart ever thought about.

She kept the sapphire, though.

This many rich prigs meant plenty of work for the Friends of Red Jenny, but the first two message drops that she checked were empty. Either the local Jennies were on the ball or slacking off shamefully, but either way, it meant that if Celeste wanted to put the screws to some wealthy asshole, she was going to have to find one on her own.


DAO/DA2 Timeline
For Eva, boredom was the root cause of every great story she had to tell. It was also the root cause of Matteo’s frustration and his routine threats to throw her off the ship at the next port.

The beginning stages of Eva’s boredom were not a fun thing to behold. She started getting whiny. Even she could admit that. Restlessness came soon after, coupled with a desire to be constantly moving, which was more of a problem when she was stuck in a cabin. If they were stuck out in the ocean, she was prone to pushing buttons and picking fights because… what else did she have to do? Andrea was a target she had a particular fondness for because he was just so, so easy to fluster.

By the time they reached dry land, everyone was eager to get rid of her and Eva was more than happy to be free of them. Unwashed sailor wasn’t exactly her perfume of choice. So it was in Rialto when--after six months away, making brief stops around the Waking Sea--they’d finally returned to Antiva.

It wasn’t that she liked Antiva, but for someone who’d grown up in an inn nestled amidst Ferelden’s heartland, it was a nice change of pace. It also gave her a chance to practice her many skills, because there were a lot of people who had way more money than sense in Antiva. Especially in Rialto, from the looks of things.

Matteo had given her a weeks’ shore leave--probably not out of the goodness of his heart--and Eva intended to make the most of it. She’d spent the first day getting a feel for the place and its people. Hours spent sitting inside a cabin or even above deck drove her crazy, but hours spent sitting on a bench walking strangers pass by with all their little personal dramas following them around was fucking brilliant.

Over the course of that evening, Eva constructed a persona for herself--a person she could become for the rest of her time in Rialta. A few pockets picked and a decent supplement from her work for Matteo gave her enough to buy some new finery. The only fancy clothing she had in her quarters was a dress and that was ripped to hell and back thanks to a botched job in Seleny last year. Besides, Eva was in the mood to try on something different, and the person she’d concocted in her head wasn’t the type for frilly dresses.

Gabriele d’Evalta--cheeky self-reference included on purpose--was a consummate scoundrel. Devilishly handsome and quite the charmer, he was a professional flirt who made a habit of stealing pretty young women away from their betrothed. (He drew the line at stealing them from their husbands--that was just crass.) Fourth son of a wealthy lord whose holdings included an exceptionally profitable vineyard, Gabriele was blessed with the good fortune of his family’s exceedingly low expectations. They had the heir and the spare, and he was just there to look pretty and do as little as possible.

Gabriele preferred silks, of course, but Eva didn’t exactly have the budget for silks. So the next day, she’d done the same thing she had in Seleny, purchasing material that looked like silk from a distance but was a fraction of the cost. Striking blue fabric brought out the color of her eyes, a waistcoat her most expensive purchase, along with black “silk” trousers embroidered with the same blue thread, a black shirt, gloves, a puffy bit of cloth to pin to her lapel, and a new pair of boots that weren’t scuffed all to hell, but polished to a shine.

Gabriele wasn’t a man of unremarkable (and somewhat sun-bleached) brown hair, so Eva decided it was time for some color. A mix of henna and indigo gave her a nice dark color that shone with hints of red in the light, but that wasn’t enough of a disguise. She took to her kit, adding a darker color beneath her cheekbones and the contour of her jaw to make both appear sharper. Her brow line received the same treatment, the darker color blended in to her skin tone. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Eva was satisfied.

Dressing like a smooth-talking but otherwise pompous ass was the final step. She wore a shirt underneath to help conceal her barely-noticeable chest and put on all the fake nonsense that made her giddy. Her adrenaline was running high as she looked herself over in the mirror, and that spike of excitement only continued when she stepped out onto the street.

Andrea had prattled on about the opening of an open-air art gallery and his hope to find bored, wealthy women who were looking for a rough and tumble sailor to help them blow off some steam. Eva remembered snort-laughing at that because Andrea was as far from “rough and tumble” as anyone had ever been, but she also remembered the details he’d given, and decided that would be an excellent place for Gabriele to test his charms. After all, you didn’t have to be knowledgeable to talk about art. You just had to be confident enough to fake it.

Making her way there, Eva made sure to flash a smile at every woman she passed, getting a feel for their reactions and fine-tuning her act a bit. The art gallery was in one of the city’s wealthier districts and she had some concerns over even getting in, but her uncanny ability to bullshit her way into any situation won the day again.

She didn’t see Andrea, which was a pity. It would’ve been nice to show him up and leave with someone on her arm. But she didn’t need the thrill of competition to enjoy herself. She really didn’t even need to succeed in her goal. Playing the game was cure enough for her boredom, and she settled cozily into the role of Gabriele d’Evalta, plucking a fluted wine glass from a tray and sauntering over to the first piece of “art” that caught her eye. She looked upon the muddy mess of colors as if extracting some meaning from it, trying to maintain an air of importance and mystery.

In her experience, it was better to attract the curious than go looking for them like a puppy seeking a belly rub.

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Well now, what was this?

The pretty young peacock strutting his way down the boulevard was making no attempt at subtlety, offering wide smiles to every woman that he walked by - including a couple that brought his eyesight or his taste (or both) into question. A few appeared scandalized, but most seemed at least interested; this was Antiva, after all, and philandering was practically the national pastime. A couple looked ready to mount him on the spot - he was a pretty one, and while a bit on the short side, he was trim, with a build that suggested that he’d be a pleasantly athletic bed partner.

‘Good-looking’ and ‘energetic’ were two of Celeste’s chief criteria in men when she was looking for a tumble (the only criteria, really … she was somewhat choosier when it came to women), and while that wasn’t her current agenda, the fact that he was also arrogant and rich offered the possibility of killing two birds with one stone: bed him, then relieve him of some excess wealth while he was in a sated slumber. Daniel wouldn’t be interested in this one; he had no use for boys, however pretty. He preferred men like himself: strong, assertive, confident and a little dangerous - which, Celeste had to admit, made for a very satisfying threesome - but he never begrudged her her dalliances, just as she didn’t mind his. They shared lovers occasionally, but whenever they left any port, she was the one in his cabin and his bed, and that was the way they both wanted it.

But this one didn’t seem to be looking for a bedmate; he never paused to follow up on any of his smiles, no matter how the woman responded. He kept right on moving, his whole bearing projecting “I Have Somewhere Important To Be”. Celeste met his cocky grin with one of her own, sizing him up openly, but was not surprised when he didn’t slow. That might have been the end of it, except for what she noticed when they were close (besides those lovely blue eyes): his fine clothes were forgeries, cheap cotton polished to look like silk, decently made but costing less than a tenth of what the real thing would run. They’d run a load of it from Antiva to Denerim last year; most of the dog lords wouldn’t know silk if they were wiping their asses with it, and more than one tailor knew it. And the gems in the rings on his fingers were paste, with the possible exception of a single ruby on his right pinky.

She let him get a decent distance away before moving to trail him, following him into the art district and watching as he made a grand entrance into a new open-air gallery that let wealthy dilettantes display their creations in exchange for a healthy fee. There wouldn’t be an art critic within a hundred paces of the place, but friends and family of the artists would be in attendance, along with hangers-on hoping to curry favor. Which category did he fall into … or was he just looking for wealthy sheep to fleece?

As nobody with even half an eye for art would attempt to lift any of the works within (and a theft would likely be claimed as a badge of honor - or at least juicy gossip - by the ‘artist’), they weren’t as tight on security as the regular galleries, so Celeste was able to enter without too much fuss. She drew attention, of course, standing out against nobles in their finery, but sometimes the best disguise was the right attitude, and acting as though she was supposed to be right where she was had gotten Celeste out of any number of tight spots (and into almost as many). The young peacock would recognize her, if he’d been paying any attention earlier, and she made no attempt to either conceal herself or approach him where he had taken up position in front of a canvas that looked like the results of a night of overindulgence had been used for paint. She was curious as to what his reaction would be: if he were simply a down-on-his-luck noble trying to appear better off than he was, he might assume that she had followed him, but there would be little reason for him to approach her. If, however, he was working a scam of some kind, would he see her as another potential mark or a potential threat?

“Do you like it?” A dark haired young woman in a silk dress (real silk, mind you) in varying hues of green approached her as she was feigning contemplating a clay sculpture.

“It’s vibrant,” Celeste answered glibly, deciding not to pretend to be Antivan, though she could speak the language like a native. “Evocative." Nice generic terms for a nice, generic - whatever it was supposed to be.

“I call it Passion,” the woman proclaimed proudly.

“Well named,” Celeste agreed. When viewed from the right angle, it did somewhat resemble two deformed manatees humping, which sort of qualified. “You are quite talented.” If the Maker hadn't struck her dead by now, another lie wasn't going to hurt.

“Thank you!” Hazel eyes glowed with pleasure, and more than a bit of interest. A bored little rich girl with a taste for bad girls; if the peacock was looking to lure a wealthy bride, it might be amusing to make off with one under his nose. She was a pretty one, with a hint of intelligence beneath the carefully cultured demeanor. Likely she’d been taught all her life to keep it tightly under wraps; no man wanted a woman who could think, after all. “Are you a connoisseur of the arts?”

“I appreciate beauty in all its forms,” she replied with a warm smile and a bold glance that brought a blush to the artist’s cheeks. “But I do have clients in the Free Marches and Orlais that pay me well if I find new pieces for their collections. Where did you receive your training?” She kept the peacock in her peripheral vision as she waited for what would undoubtedly be a stultifyingly dull response. Hopefully, it would lead to entertainment of some kind, but as with fishing, you didn't make a catch every time you dropped a hook into the water.


DAO/DA2 Timeline
"To appreciate art is to appreciate a good con," Matteo had said repeatedly. And while Eva could certainly appreciate a good con, she had a harder time appreciating the art itself. Some people were better at bullshitting than others, and so it stood to reason that some artists were better at drawing a crowd than others.

Case in point, the piece she'd chosen--or rather, the piece Gabriele had chosen--was of little interest to the masses. It might have restored Eva's faith in the judgment of her fellow humans if she hadn't been attempting to attract interest in her own peculiar brand of art. Only one man wandered over and from the looks of him he'd pissed away most of his fortune on wine and wigs, neither of which were doing him any favors at this particular moment. He probably would have been better off setting a few coins aside for a good tailor to hide that paunch, or maybe some exotic oils to strip the scent of stale cigar smoke from his beard.

He had nothing interesting to say and his clothing looked even further out of style than Eva's faux-silk, so she treated him with that detached sense of boredom most nobles seemed to perfect at an early age. Eventually he waddled off, the smell of cheap cigars lingering. She scrunched her nose and decided to look pensive anyplace else.

She moved about the gallery, arms linked behind her back, affecting the air of a lazy predator. Gabriele was a heartbreaker, no doubt about it. He was well aware of his charms and no slouch when it came to pleasing his bed partners. As such, his reputation--the one she'd invented for him on the spot--was flawless. Aside from the fact that lords and ladies alike were left wanting, of course. For another round, for information that might sate their curiosity, for anything at all that was beyond Gabriele's whims at the time.

And just what were Gabriele's whims? She tried to tap into them, embracing the role she'd created, when she caught an unexpected sight out of the corner of her eye. Sun-bleached hair wasn't especially common in Antiva to begin with, but add to that a vest and trousers that looked like they'd gotten the old salt treatment and Eva was intrigued. She'd only spared the woman a brief glance when she'd seen her on the way to the gallery, entertaining the thought that she looked like the type who'd be fun to spend a few uncomplicated hours with. But seeing her here was something else entirely.

Part of her wondered if Andrea was setting her up. But he wasn't smart enough for the long con--or even the medium con--and she dismissed the thought quickly. Whoever this woman was, she had her own agenda. And that likely meant competition.

The corner of Eva's lips twitched. This night had already gotten more interesting, and she hadn't even made good on her original goal. Downing the rest of her wine, she cast a wink to the small group of tittering ladies watching, then took a leisurely route to get to the sculpture the woman was "admiring" currently. She was already engaged in conversation with another woman. Pretty. Put-together. Her body language and the way she spoke clearly painted her as the artist of...

Andraste's tits. How could any piece of art be worse than the toddler temper tantrum she'd sauntered up to initially? The clay sculpture the artist was speaking so animatedly about was... unique, she would give the woman that. Potentially inspired by something a cat had once vomited, perhaps. The fact that the sea-fairer was able to remain pleasant throughout spoke to her dedication.

And Eva could respect that. Even if she intended to surpass it.

She approached, attentive as the artist finished speaking about some kind of academy in Orlais. She'd definitely come from money, if she'd been able to study "art" abroad. The thought of continuing her own con was appealing, but Eva had no intention of fighting over a mark. Not when there were more elegant--and far more interesting--ways to settle a score. Still, as the woman finished she gave her a rakish smile--Gabriele's specialty--and dropped into an Antivan-styled bow.

"It appears I am in the presence of beauty and talent. A rare find," she said in her smoothest Antivan.

Which was fairly smooth, when she wanted it to be. Matteo didn't pay her to "sound like a Fereldan dog lord's whore," as he put it so tactfully. And Eva was committed to the roles she played, so while her voice might have lacked the same richness of some of the other young lords, she did her best with it.

"You are very kind, signore, but I owe it all to my teachers." She flushed prettily, realizing what she'd said. "The talent, of course."

"Of course," Eva flashed her a grin, then looked to the woman who'd captured her interest. "You have excellent taste, but I'm afraid if you plan to commission this artist, you may have found yourself a bit of competition."

Her eyebrows lifted just so on the word "commission." Let the woman take that how she would. Easing into a pleasant smile, Eva turned back to the one who'd wasted perfectly good clay.

"Tell us, what was your inspiration for this piece? It strikes me as very... sensual."

"Oh, it is." The woman brightened. "I was deeply moved by a poem from Renard Batista. Have you heard of him?"

The look that came over the woman's face and the subsequent excitement as she spoke of this poet made her a painfully easy mark, were Eva in the mood for it. Anyone who played up those qualities would likely have her in their bed before the night was through. Either that or they'd have a proposal of marriage, which seemed more likely. Eva wasn't interested in crushing the heart of a true romantic. There were few enough of those in the world. But she did keep a close eye on the other woman, hoping to glean a bit more information from her reactions to the artist's tale.
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Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
From the corner of her eye, Celeste saw the peacock notice her, a faint smirk indicating that she’d been recognized. Did he think she’d been so taken by him that she’d trailed him here? Well, he was half right, anyway. She kept chatting up the sculptor (a more accurate descriptive than ‘artist’) as he began to saunter in their direction.

"It appears I am in the presence of beauty and talent. A rare find," he remarked, his blue eyes sweeping from the sculpture to the young woman, who blushed on cue.

"You are very kind, signore, but I owe it all to my teachers,” she replied, adding, "The talent, of course."

They were both speaking in Antivan; Celeste debated feigning ignorance, just to see what might slip, decided not to bother. “The beauty being owed to your parents, of course,” she interjected in Antivan; she’d learned it alongside the Common tongue from her earliest years.

"Of course," the peacock echoed smoothly, giving the girl a toothy smile. "You have excellent taste,” he went on, turning to Celeste, “but I'm afraid if you plan to commission this artist, you may have found yourself a bit of competition." He had the cocky sort of confidence that short men sometimes displayed, eyebrows arching as he gave the faintest emphasis to the word ‘commission’.

Celeste gave him an easy smile. “Nothing worthwhile should be easy,” she countered. “No fruit is so sweet as that which seems just beyond reach at first.” She really needed a shovel and knee boots to properly distribute this much bullshit, but the girl was eating it up, positively glowing at finding herself at the center of this ‘competition’.

"Tell us, what was your inspiration for this piece?” he asked her. “It strikes me as very... sensual." Not a hint of irony; either he was blind, utterly lacking in anything remotely resembling taste, or really wanted to lure this girl into bed (or marriage).

Or maybe he was just enjoying the competition. Regardless, it was a miracle that a garden wasn’t sprouting at their feet from all the fertilizer being spread around.

"Oh, it is,” the sculptor agreed, delighted at having her work so clearly understood and appreciated. "I was deeply moved by a poem from Renard Batista. Have you heard of him?"

Game on.

“I should have known that Batista was the inspiration,” Celeste said, nodding sagely. “His work epitomizes passion.” He was also one of Gideon’s favorite sources of pickup lines, which was the only reason that Celeste recognized the name. “Was it Rendezvous By Moonlight?” she asked, plucking a title from memory. The lines all bled together in a blur of lips like rose petals, creamy white thighs, pounding hearts and breasts like snowy hills, but one couldn’t be all that different from another.