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Looking Up When I'm Looking Down [Closed]

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
195
#21
Nicolette enjoyed praise as much as the next person. It did not make her giddy, or shy, but only elevated her mood, and it helped when it was from a comment based on her skill rather than her looks. The cheers of the patrons would have been accolade enough but the admiring expression on Varric’s face when she made her way back to the table was worth at least five taverns worth of applauding crowds. A full description of this event was definitely going back to Maman the very next day. She did not need to ask Varric if he had enjoyed it, but she did so anyway, and was rewarded.

“That’s putting it mildly.” Nicolette beamed, and Norah brought over a drink that Nicolette had not ordered, indicating her benefactor with a nod of her head. Nicolette followed her gaze to find the same Antivan sailor who had approached her for the song. She lifted her glass to him, smiling so widely that it was almost uncomfortable. Performing always left her with a surplus of energy that made her feel as though she could run across countries, and it was one of the best feelings she knew. “You’ve got a rare gift, Dancer. Where did you learn to play like that?”

Nicolette’s smile softened from exuberance to gentle delight at the nickname Varric had bestowed upon her, and she sipped her drink so her heart and mind could calm a little before she answered. “To start with, from my mother.” The drink was quite strong, but chilled and delicious, and she could feel some of the pink starting to fade from her cheeks. “She performed at a tavern in the town where I grew up, and I used to sit and watch her play even before I could walk. I got used to running between the legs of sailors as they stamped time – it made me nimble, I think. She got me to try the vielle when I was very small, and I loved it from the start.”

“When we started travelling from place to place, we were usually part of a group, for safety. There were frequently other musicians and I would learn from them; but also dancers and tumblers. I loved everything that put emotions into movement and song. And that has been almost my whole life,” she added. “My learning will never be done, and I try to gather a new song or story at every place I go. Some of it is a lucky gift, I think, but I have worked hard, and I am proud of what I can do. It may not be tending the lands or fighting to defend the less fortunate, but it makes me happier than anything else I can imagine doing."
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
100
#22
Varric didn't select nicknames to please the ones upon whom they were bestowed; the sobriquets suggested themselves, and the ones that fit might or might not be welcomed. Fenris just glared when Varric called him 'Broody' … which was just about the only time his expression wasn't earning the name.

But sometimes, they were both fitting and well-received; the minstrel beamed at being called Dancer. “To start with, from my mother,” she answered his question about her training as she sipped from the drink bought for her by the same Antivan who had looked ready to gut her less than half an hour ago. Music had its charms, particularly when it was attached to a pretty face. “She performed at a tavern in the town where I grew up, and I used to sit and watch her play even before I could walk. I got used to running between the legs of sailors as they stamped time – it made me nimble, I think. She got me to try the vielle when I was very small, and I loved it from the start.”

“My mother tried to get me to learn the lute when I was seven,” Varric remarked, lifting one hand and wiggling his fingers. “Never really had the talent for it.” Or the interest, which had likely been the real cause. Sitting around the house strumming while his mother drank herself into oblivion had held no appeal to a young Varric Tethras. And thinking about it held even less appeal to him now, so he was quite willing to let Dancer continue her narrative.

“When we started travelling from place to place, we were usually part of a group, for safety,” she went on. “There were frequently other musicians and I would learn from them; but also dancers and tumblers. I loved everything that put emotions into movement and song. And that has been almost my whole life.” Her expression suggested few regrets associated with that life. “My learning will never be done, and I try to gather a new song or story at every place I go. Some of it is a lucky gift, I think, but I have worked hard, and I am proud of what I can do. It may not be tending the lands or fighting to defend the less fortunate, but it makes me happier than anything else I can imagine doing."

“You're one of the lucky ones then, Dancer,” Varric told her, lifting his mug in salute and drinking deeply. “How long you planning to stay in Kirkwall?”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
195
#23
Varric confessed to having been ‘encouraged’ to learn the lute as a child, and never taken to it. Some people never did, which Nicolette thought was a shame; music was one of the best ways to fill a silence. Even on long sections of road by herself, it was rarely quiet; Thibault snuffled and panted and barked, there was usually the sounds of the world around her, and if it became too quiet she hummed or sang until it was not quiet anymore. The only times she liked silence was if she was writing stories in her head, or if she was somewhere beautiful enough that she wanted to take the time to appreciate it properly.

But that was not interesting, and she continued on with the most familiar of her stories – that of her own life, and her love for what she did. “You’re one of the lucky ones then, Dancer. How long are you planning to stay in Kirkwall?”

She spread her hands in a gesture of uncertainty. “Normally I would be gone already. Most places do not hold my attention for longer than a month; I feel the need to travel and see more, always. But Kirkwall has been interesting and there are a few tales in the people around me I would like to see the conclusion of before I move on. Perhaps in a few weeks more I might wander away again…likely to the west, I think. It has been some time since I have been in Antiva. And I can always come back again and see how everybody is doing.”

In the past, that method had worked quiet well, with one or two exceptions. Other people did not put their lives on hold for her, nor should they – they moved away, they went on with their lives. Or sometimes, they died. Nicolette held their names in her heart and they were part of the prayers she occasionally sent out into the universe, unaddressed. Maybe they heard, somehow.

She caught her mood before it became too introspective and gave Varric a bright smile. “So, a few weeks more, at the least. Would I be welcome to see you again, if I brought some other interesting stories with me?”
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
100
#24
“Normally I would be gone already,” Dancer explained with an expressive gesture when Varric asked how long she planned to remain in town. “Most places do not hold my attention for longer than a month; I feel the need to travel and see more, always. But Kirkwall has been interesting and there are a few tales in the people around me I would like to see the conclusion of before I move on. Perhaps in a few weeks more I might wander away again…likely to the west, I think. It has been some time since I have been in Antiva. And I can always come back again and see how everybody is doing.”

“Kirkwall will still be here,” Varric agreed. So would he, for that matter. Despite his vivid imagination, he'd never been infected with wanderlust. Even the majority of his stories were set in the City of Chains, albeit a highly fictionalized version. Kirkwall was his home, and he loved it, qunari and all; he could well understand its draw to the curious. A million tales lurked in its streets, more than he could ever hope to write down on his own; he was more than willing to share.

The minstrel offered him one of her fetching smiles, and he wondered how much calculation was behind the expression. She had to know what a powerful weapon she had at her disposal, but her manner was absent any hint of guile. “So, a few weeks more, at the least. Would I be welcome to see you again, if I brought some other interesting stories with me?”

“Absolutely,” he replied without hesitation. “Bring the vielle along, and I can pretty much guarantee you won't have to buy a drink all night. First round's on me, though.” Good stories were hard to come by, good storytellers even more so. The two combined were a potent alchemy; throw in musical talent and a pretty face, and Varric was more than willing to buy the drinks.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
195
#25
Kirkwall would still be there when Nicolette returned from her wanderings, Varric reminded her. Things would change, however. Friends and faces and buildings changed over time. She just had to accept that she would have to miss some things in order to avoid missing eithers. And as fascinating as Kirkwall was, she did not want to spend the whole of the rest of her life here. If she had to remain within a single country for the rest of her life, it would either be Rivain or Antiva. Somewhere with plenty of sun and flowers.

Once she had confirmed she would be staying a while, however, she took a chance on solidifying the potential new friendship, asking if she could come and see Varric again. It scarcely seemed credible that she had not only met one of the people she was inspired by, but that he liked her enough that he would consider being friends, but he confirmed that she would be welcome to see him again. “Bring the vielle along, and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t have to buy a drink all night. First round’s on me, though.”

She beamed. “Thank you, so much! And I enjoy performing here, anyway; I like a lively audience.” When it came to music, anyway, and she liked a quietly attentive audience when she told stories, because it meant that they were listening. But if she were to be truly honest with herself, she would admit that she liked almost any sort of positive attention when she did anything. It confirmed that she existed, and that people would remember her when she moved on, if only for a little while.

She could keep talking to Varric until her tongue fell out, but the sound of the Chantry bells chiming sounded faintly through the walls. It was getting late and she realised with some regret that she would have to go. “I am afraid I must make my way back to my tavern now before the streets become too dangerous. I will be back again before too long – thank you, again, for taking some time to talk with me.”
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
100
#26
Dancer's smile grew positively radiant at Varric's compliment. “Thank you, so much! And I enjoy performing here, anyway; I like a lively audience.”

“You'll get that here,” he assured her, though her talent and vibrant energy could probably liven up any audience. Even the qunari had watched her attentively, though 'lively' wasn't a descriptive that could be applied to him.

The ring of the Chantry bells followed a patron inside, clear in the night air, then muffled as the door closed. “I am afraid I must make my way back to my tavern now before the streets become too dangerous,” Dancer apologized. “I will be back again before too long – thank you, again, for taking some time to talk with me.”

“The pleasure was all mine,” Varric replied, watching as she made her way to the door, the hound at her side. A quick tilt of his head brought Murph, the youngster assisting Corff behind the bar, to the side of his real employer. “Make sure she gets where she's going safely,” he instructed, nodding after her, “and put out the word that I want to know if anybody is messing with her.” Murph nodded and was gone; if nothing untoward happened, she'd never know he was there. Word of Varric's interest in protecting the minstrel would be sufficient to discourage run of the mill thuggery, and if any other kind seemed imminent, he could deal with that, too.
 
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