• Hello Guest, the Post-Trespasser timeline is open to all characters now. If you want to play your DA:O/DA2 timeline characters in the Post-Trespasser timeline, please check out the thread below. It will give you all the information you need to get up and running in no time:

    Getting your DA:O/DA2 Character ready for Post-Trespasser!

Movin' On In [Complete]

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#1
[[OOC: 7th Firstfall, mid-morning, the docks.]]
Celeste Monroe

Nicolette had been not a little surprised when Celeste had offered her a berth all to herself on the Wicked Grace. Then again, surprising her had turned out to be a specialisation of Celeste’s, and one she did not object to in the least. They had enjoyed a few encounters since the exciting night at the Chantry, and on the last she had still been cooling down when the other woman made the offer. That she should have at least a hammock on the way to Antiva made sense, but she had not expected Celeste’s generosity in allowing her to move in so soon in change for entertainment during the maintenance of the ship, and she had expressed her agreement in a manner the other woman appeared to enjoy thoroughly.

Accommodation could frequently be a tricky subject for Nicolette. Sometimes, she was lucky, and in exchange for a performance per night she got a room and some food each day, plus a small stipend for playing which she augmented with tips from the patrons and what she earned during the day. At the worst end, she had to pay for everything, including stage time, and divide the coin she had earned with the barman and the landlord. There were many different levels between them.

While she would be doing this in exchange for the berth with no financial compensation and would have to perform at taverns during the evenings for a little extra money, Nicolette considered herself to be extremely lucky in this regard. Not only would she be on the water more often, something she enjoyed, but she knew she was unlikely to be ousted if her ‘landlord’ took a shine to a different minstrel. Plus, they were going off to have an adventure before long. And there was the benefit of being able to enjoy Celeste’s company more often. Nicolette had yet to have a single moment of boredom around her.

With her pack gathered together and Thibault at her side, Nicolette wandered down to the pier, humming a little as she went. The air was starting to turn a little sharp now. It was a good time of year to be aiming towards more sun-drenched climes, but there was still a clear sky above and breeze felt bracing rather than murderous.

She reached the Wicked Grace and paused at the gangplank. The top deck was a hive of activity, and she smiled broadly as she headed up the gangplank, and came face to face with a young deckhand, still in his teens by the thin scattering of hair at his chin, who grinned when he spotted her and waved in a familiar fashion.

Thankfully, Nicolette’s instinctive response was to smile back, even if she was not sure if the man was waving because he recognised her from somewhere or he was just being friendly. “Bon matin. Is Captain Celeste on board?”
 
Last edited:

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#2
“You're the new minstrel, aye?” the young man greeted her hopefully. “Cap'n's overboard right now,” he added, nodding to the stern. “I can take your bags to your cabin, if'n you want.”

“Oh, what a handsome fellow!” A dark haired woman exclaimed, laying aside the sail she'd been stitching and approaching Thibault with a smile, then glancing around apprehensively. “Where's the Thing?”

“Sleepin',” the youth replied as the woman crouched and extended a hand for the hound to sniff. “He don't have a problem with cats, does he?”

“If he does, I'll put my money on the Thing,” a blonde elven woman announced with a smirk as she sauntered forward, looking the new arrival up and down appraisingly.

“Hold it steady!”

At Celeste's bellow, the woman straightened with a rueful expression. “Replacing the rudder,” she explained. “I'm Kalindra -”

“Call her Kali, like the rest of us do,” the elf interrupted, a touch of Orlesian accenting her common.

“This is Sorcha,” Kali continued, nodding to the elf, “and this is Bailey.” She smiled warmly. “Welcome aboard. The captain said you'll be traveling to Antiva with us?”

“Got to fix the ship first,” Sorcha grumbled, looking at the holes where the masts had been. “Storm tore us to shit. Ever been at sea in a storm?” she asked, a touch of challenge in her voice.

“She'll do fine,” Bailey defended her, “and the cap'n's gonna get the ship fixed -”

“Damn it, I told you it wasn't secure!”

“That doesn't sound promising,” Kali murmured, gesturing for the minstrel to precede her up the steps to the helm, where they could peer over the stern.

Below, things were going less than swimmingly. Without Gideon's brawn, switching out the spare rudder for the newly arrived replacement was a lot more difficult. Dax and Celeste were in the water maneuvering it into place while Nordstrom and Stubby lowered it by a block and tackle and Torgun sat in the new dinghy waiting to secure it. Unfortunately, they'd released the rope prematurely, and the new rudder was now on the bottom of the sodding harbor. Briefly, Celeste considered letting it stay there, but while it hadn't been as expensive as the new masts, it cost more than the new sails, and with them stuck in Kirkwall for another month, she was reluctant to let the level in the strongbox dip any lower.

“All right, play out more rope!” she shouted up.

As the two men started letting more rope down, Kalindra leaned over the rail. “Captain, the new minstrel has arrived.”

Celeste tipped her head back and offered a cheery wave. “Care for a swim?” she invited, then shook her head with a grimace as a small island of sewage floated past. “Never mind, I wouldn't advise it.” Fuck, she missed the coast of Rivain, far from any polluting harbor, where she could see clear to the bottom! “Back in a bit!” she announced, sticking the end of the rope in her teeth and diving for the bottom. Hopefully it had gone straight down.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#3
The young man grinned convivially at her. “You’re the new minstrel, aye? Cap'n's overboard right now.” Overboard? “I can take your bags to your cabin, if'n you want.”

“That would be welcome – is she all right down-?” Nicolette did not manage to clarify what ‘overboard’ meant in this case before a dark-haired woman came over to admire Thibault.

“Oh, what a handsome fellow! Where the Thing?”

Nicolette had been warned about The Thing. She gently touched the back of Thibault’s head, reminding him not to go haring off. Thankfully, he did not appear to be around at exactly the wrong point to cause a bad impression.

“Sleepin’. He don’t have a problem with cats, does he?”

“If he does, I’ll put my money on the Thing.” This was another crewmember, a blonde elven women who gave Nicolette an appraising start that Nicolette returned freely. She already knew enough to Celeste to know that the captain would not hire a crewmember on looks alone, but she certainly appeared to have been quite lucky on that front. There was a wealth of inspirational looks on this deck. She chuckled, ruffling Thibault’s ears.

“He likes to make friends with them. They do not often appreciate it. He knows to back off if they swat at him.” Besides, the Thing could hardly pose more of a threat than Deux the bear had.

A bellow from below drew her attention back towards the subject of Celeste. “Hold it steady!”

The dark-haired woman answered Nicolette’s enquiring look. “Replacing the rudder.” She introduced herself as Kalindra, or Kali, and the blonde woman was Sorcha. The handsome young man who would be handsomer still in a few years was Bailey.

“The captain said you’ll be travelling to Antiva with us?”

“Yes. And maybe further, if circumstances allow.”

“Got to fix the ship first. Storm tore us to shit. Ever been at sea in a storm?”

“On occasion. Two or three of them.” Nicolette did not relish the memory, but the thrill of her survival after the fact had not worn off for days. “It was exhilarating, apart from the cold I earned afterwards.”

Bailey had decided to take Nicolette’s corner, but before they could get further into Nicolette’s sailing experience (limited, in comparison to the crew, no doubt), a curse summoned them all to the side of the ship. Celeste’s attempts to fix the rudder were apparently not going so well. Kali called over the side. “Captain, the new minstrel has arrived.”

Celeste grinned as Nicolette looked over the rail, and Nicolette waved back at her. The sight of Celeste in the water was not displeasing…although the water could be cleaner, something that even the captain acknowledge as an unidentified pile of something floated past her. “Care for a swim? Never mind, I wouldn’t advise it.”

Nicolette chuckled and called down. “Ask me again when we reach Antiva!” The waters were somewhat more clear there, and warmer into the bargain.

Celeste placed the rope between her teeth. “Back in a bit!”

With that, she dived back into the water. Nicolette watched where she had submerged, a touch tensely after the first few seconds. She imagined the crew would know if their captain was in trouble, but how would Celeste signify it? Bailey touched her shoulder, and was grinning when she turned to look at him. “She’ll be up in a minute. Captain’s part-mermaid, if you ask me.”

With her concern alleviated, she smiled back at him. “I do not believe I have many tales about part-mermaids. Mermaids and sirens, yes.”

“And you sing too, so we’ve heard.” This was Kali, who was giving her a knowing smile. Nicolette grinned right back, a litte pink touching her cheeks. She doubted Celeste would have gone into an embarrassing amount of detail about their encounters so far, but she was not about to discourage rumours, either.

“Indeed. I have a store of songs about the sea and much more, besides.” Thibault was already running around the deck, full of the joys, and Nicolette was not far off joining him. Breathing in sea air always made her a little more invigorated. “Would you like to hear some, or should we ensure that Celeste has not joined the mermaids?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#4
“On occasion,” Nicolette responded to Sorcha's challenge about storms at sea. “Two or three of them. It was exhilarating, apart from the cold I earned afterwards.”

Mollified, Sorcha followed them up to the helm, peering over the side as Celeste offered greetings.

“Ask me again when we reach Antiva!” the minstrel called back when the captain invited her for a swim, earning an approving laugh from Kalindra.

“That can't come soon enough!” the woman exclaimed wistfully.

“Aye,” Bailey agreed with a grin as Celeste vanished from view. “Got a sweet little cove in Rialto Bay where we drop anchor in the winter for a month or so; nothing but sunning and swimming.”

“And shagging the local girls,” Sorcha taunted him, getting an unrepentant grin in response.

“We may not stay as long this year,” Kali warned them gently. “These repairs are costing us quite a bit.”

“So we make it back,” Bailey declared confidently, assuring Nicolette when one minute bled into another that Celeste was part mermaid.

“I do not believe I have many tales about part-mermaids,” she told him with a pretty smile. “Mermaids and sirens, yes.”

“And you sing too, so we’ve heard,” Kalindra offered, laughing lightly at the faint blush that colored the minstrel's cheeks. Her handful of trysts with the captain was no secret, after all, but Celeste hadn't offered her a berth as a bedwarmer; that wasn't the way things were done on the Wicked Grace. Celeste enjoyed music and stories herself and valued the boost they could give to crew morale.

“Indeed. I have a store of songs about the sea and much more, besides,” Nicolette confirmed as her hound investigated his new environ, charmingly restrained despite his size. “Would you like to hear some, or should we ensure that Celeste has not joined the mermaids?”

“A song would be lovely,” Kali agreed with a smile, adding mischievously, “and with Gideon gone, there's none of us could catch Celeste in the water, anyway.” She nodded to the two men manning the block and tackle. “This is Nordstrom and Stubby, ship's cook.”

“Y'can eat with the crew,” Stubby told her, balancing his weight expertly on his right leg, his crutch leaning on the rail beside him, “long as you're there when it's served. I ent no fancy chef, but I'll keep yer belly full.” Nordstrom, an unremarkable looking chap with ash blonde hair and pale blue eyes, simply nodded politely.

Below, Celeste burst to the surface, drawing in a gulp of air to replace what she'd exhaled on her trip to the surface and trying not to think about what she'd been mucking around in on the harbor bottom. “Bring it up!” she shouted, tugging on the rope, and Nordstrom and Stubby began hauling upward.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#5
So far, Celeste’s crew seemed welcoming enough; the only one greeting her with any sort of challenge was Sorcha, and Nicolette’s assurance that she had survived a storm or two appeared to grant her some leeway. Had the waters been cleaner, she might have dived straight from the side of the boat to join Celeste in the water, but she suggested she might wait until they were Antiva and less of the muck from Darktown found its way around the docks.

“Got a sweet little cove in Rialto Bay where we drop anchor in the winter for a month or so; nothing but sunning and swimming.”

“And shagging the local girls.”

“All three sound an excellent way to pass the time to me.” Nicolette winked at Bailey. “And it would be nice to winter in a warm city for a change this year.”

“We may not stay as long this year. These repairs are costing us quite a bit.”

By this time Celeste had been under the water a few seconds longer than Nicolette might have expected, and Bailey and Kalindra hastened to reassure her. She let herself be distracted by talk of song for a few moments, and then was introduced to two men who were standing by to haul the rudder out of the water. “This is Nordstorm and Stubby, ship’s cook.”

“Y’can eat with the crew, long as you’re there when it’s served. I ent no fancy chef, but I’ll keep your belly full.”

Nicolette smiled brightly at him. In truth, with Celeste’s generosity already extending so far, she had expected to have to arrange her own meals, and this was a happy development that would only save her more coin in the long run. “Thank you. I assure you that I would not be demanding quail’s eggs and dormouse at every dinner.” The tang of Orlesian in her voice meant that she was occasionally subject to some very strange assumptions about her palate.

Also, in truth, she was a terrible cook. The only time she dared try was when she travelled alone on the road, and she was more than used to the taste of char.

Celeste had surfaced. “Bring it up!”

Nordstrum and Stubby started hauling, and Nicolette tapped a rhythm on the rail with her fingers in time with their pulls. She was used to adjusting the lyrics of songs to match where she was, and had been thinking about this one on the walk down from the tavern.

“We’re sailing across the sea from Kirkwall City

Haul away, Santy Ano!

Sailing around the Waking Sea to Antiva Bay

All the way out to Rialto.”

Bailey was evidently familiar with this one, and showed no embarrassment in joining in for the chorus, grinning as the rudder rose closer to the surface.

“So heave her up and away we’ll go

Haul away, Santy Ano!

Heave her up and away we’ll go

On our way out to Rialto.”

“She’s a fast clipper and a wholly good crew,

Heave away, Santy Ano.

A fine brave girl for a captain too,

On the way to Rialto…
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#6
Celeste grinned as Nicolette's voice rose up clear and pure overhead, joined quickly by Bailey's less trained but still decent baritone. The shanty was quick and jaunty, perfectly paced for adding a bit of pep to the rhythm of shipboard labor. After their chantry adventure, she had completely forgotten about checking out the minstrel's professional skills until Isabela had brought it up. She'd ventured to the Ogre's Teeth a few nights ago to listen and been quite pleased with what she heard. Add to that the fact that the place was only a few short steps above a dive, and it had been an easy choice to offer Nicolette early access to her shipboard berth in exchange for some entertainment during the work day.

And if she happened to end up in the captain's cabin on occasion after the work day was done, Celeste damn sure wasn't going to complain. The minstrel was a playful and passionate bedmate who was almost as much fun out of bed and who didn't cling, though she was delightfully game for shenanigans.

“Not bad,” Dax commented as they wrangled the new rudder into position so that Torgun could secure it. It was not an easy process by any means; Celeste's knuckles were scraped and bleeding from previous attempts, and she was likely going to lose the thumbnail on her left hand from the blood blister that had been raised when the thumb had been pinched between rudder and stern. Fortunately, no self respecting shark would be caught dead in the shit soup that was Kirkwall's harbor, so no worries there.

“Got it,” Torgun grunted after what felt like forever, and Celeste eased up on her support, then untied the rope.

“Give it a try!
” she called up.

Bailey broke off of his song and stepped up to the ship's wheel, gesturing to Nicolette with a smile.

“Want to do the honors?” he invited her. “Just turn it to port and starboard, and stop if she yells.”

Below, Celeste watched with satisfaction as the rudder pivoted smoothly on the pintle and gudgeon hinge. “That'll do it,” she told the other two. While Torgun rowed the dinghy around to the davits, Celeste and Dax clambered up the rope ladder to the deck. If it had been Rivain, both of them would have been bare-ass naked, but in Kirkwall, that was all but guaranteed to draw attention. Even the halter and ragged, knee-length trews that Celeste was wearing garnered some catcalls from the dock and nearby ships. Or maybe they were for Dax, who was bare chested and whose own damp trews clung quite nicely to his ass.

Ignoring them either way, Celeste gave Nicolette a smile of welcome. “Met everybody?” she inquired.

“Not quite.” Brannigan climbed the steps to the bridge, Piotr close behind. “Oliver Brannigan, ship's healer, at your service, my lady,” he greeted Nicolette with a courtly bow and the gentle purr of the Starkhaven brogue. “And this is Piotr.”

“Pleased t'meetcha,” the elf murmured shyly, not quite hiding behind Brannigan. He was still leery around strangers, but he was settling in nicely with the crew, picking up the cabin boy duties normally handled by Téo without complaint.

“We've drawn baths for both of you,”
Brannigan informed Celeste and Dax, holding out a bar of soap to each. “Plenty of hot water.” Celeste took hers and sniffed it, then grimaced.

“That's nasty.”

“Not nearly as nasty as an infection,” Brannigan replied, nodding to the myriad cuts and scrapes that were just part of life on a ship. “If you prefer, I could simply wait and lance the boils as they develop, or perhaps perform an amputation when a limb becomes septic.”

“All right, you win.” Never argue with a healer … at least, not one as good as this one was. “That's probably enough for today, anyway.” The rudder was in place, taking them one step closer to returning to the sea. She quirked a grin at Nicolette. “Care to help me with the hard to reach spots?”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#7
The rudder rose to the surface and the three in the water started shifting it into place. Nicolette watched them work with interest despite having little idea about what exactly they were doing, her gaze returning to Celeste more often than the other two. Her wet hair clung about her face, emphasising her jawline and the water set fresh sparkles reflecting off the gold at her ears. Nicolette was more than content to admire her as her song set the pace until Celeste called up for them to try moving the rudder.

“Want to do the honors?” Bailey was indicating the wheel. “Just turn it to port and starboard, and stop if she yells.”

Nicolette beamed, and all but bounced her way over. On previous voyages, as a teenager, she had tried on a few occasions to have a go with the ship’s wheel and had been quickly chased away from it. Admittedly the ship was not going to go anywhere, but being given the opportunity still appealed to her not-so-inner child. She stood at the wheel, gently manipulating it as according to the calls coming up from below until it was confirmed all was well. Thibault had returned from an exploratory sniff around the decks and was paying very close attention to Stubby; Nicolette summoned him away before he could annoy the cook further, and rubbed his ears as Celeste and a handsome man hauled themselves over the rail.

The allure of the less-than-adequate clothing side, Nicolette opted not to greet Celeste with an embrace, given the contents of the harbour she had just been swimming in. Nonetheless she greeted Celeste’s smile with an equally bright one of her own, and then turned to greet the ship’s healer as he introduced himself. “And this is Piotr.”

“I am pleased to meet both of you. Hopefully I shall not prove too much of a strain upon your stores.” She winked at Piotr as she curtsied to Brannigan; she was not intending to require too much healing over the course of the next few months, but then, who could predict these things?

A bath was in order for Celeste and her companions in the water, as per healer’s orders. “If you prefer, I could simply lance the boils away as they develop, or perhaps perform an amputation when a limb becomes septic.”

It would have worked well enough on Nicolette, and equally so on Celeste on this occasion. Although it would likely have cost some effort to draw the baths on board a ship. “All right, you win. That’s probably enough for today, anyway.” Celeste grinned at Nicolette in a manner with which she was already familiar. Care to help me with the hard to reach spots?”

“It would be poor behaviour to refuse assisting the captain with her needs, no?” While Celeste was giving off a particular aroma singular to Kirkwall’s harbour, Nicolette was not adverse to helping reverse the situation. She followed Celeste to her cabin, and then paused on the threshold.

She had only rarely been admitted to a captain’s cabin before, and none like this. Off to one side, a desk littered with pieces of paper drew her attention; on the other side, equally demanding a look, was a brass bathtub installed beneath the windows. She wanted to look at the bathtub, of course, but her natural curiosity drew her towards the desk. A book lay open on it, and beside it, a sheet of parchment with scribblings that seemed to denote a code. Nicolette eyed it with curiosity, wondering if it was some sailor’s shorthand, before returning her attention to Celeste. “I do not think I have seen an installation like this before.” She indicated the bathtub. “Would you like to be thoroughly tended to, or just the hard-to-reach areas?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#8
Nicolette appeared to have thoroughly charmed the crew, even getting a bit of a blush and a bashful smile out of Piotr. Celeste wasn't particularly surprised, nor would she object if the minstrel chose to take a tumble with one (or more) of them, but that didn't mean that she wasn't going to offer a choice of her own.

“It would be poor behaviour to refuse assisting the captain with her needs, no?” the minstrel readily agreed to Celeste's request to assist with her bath. Celeste grinned and led the way. In the cabin, Celeste headed straight for the steaming tub, noting with approval the pail of water sitting to the side for a final rinse

Nicolette lingered at the desk, where Celeste had left Ephraim Sharpe's journal and her ongoing deciphering effort. With the keyword known, it was just a matter of matching each letter in the journal to the correct place in the letter table. Simple? Yes, but also tedious as fuck, which meant that it got done in short bursts here and there, but the tale being revealed was an intriguing one, if it were true.

“I do not think I have seen an installation like this before,” the other woman remarked, her gaze taking in the rest of the cabin before coming to rest on the tub. “Would you like to be thoroughly tended to, or just the hard-to-reach areas?”

“Tempting as the former sounds,” Celeste chuckled, stripping out of her wet clothes and climbing into the tub, sighing in contentment as the hot water immediately began to drive away the chill from the harbor water, “it's probably safest for you if you just wash my back.”

Ducking beneath the water, she lathered Brannigan's foul soap through her hair and rinsed it, then set to scrubbing her skin with a rough sponge, hissing at the sting where it touched the cuts and scrapes, knowing that was where it was most needed.

“Would you, please?” she held up sponge and soap, leaning forward and pulling her hair out of the way. “The Wicked Grace wasn't built by a regular shipwright,” she explained. “Nobody told them what couldn't be done, and money wasn't an object, so -” her gesture encompassed the cabin. The officers' quarters, while smaller, were also more comfortable than was usually encountered, and even the crew berths were a cut above. “It's home,” she concluded, more than a bit smug.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#9
Celeste did not reject the idea of a full-body experience out of hand, but what she might have brought up with her from Kirkwall’s water was more than enough to stay both of them from anything of an amorous nature at the moment. “It’s probably safest for you if you just wash my back.”

Nicolette chuckled. “Most likely, yes. When I was a child I spent a great amount of time swimming around the ships in the docks of Val Chevin, but the waters were not quite so polluted as here. I think my mother might have prevented me, otherwise.” Well, she had tried to do that anyway in fear of losing Nicolette to an accident, but even at that age Nicolette had been inclined to do as she wished when it came to exploring.

Celeste had finished lathering her hair and the skin she could reach, passing soap and sponge to Nicolette. “Would you, please?”

Nicolette started tending to the captain, applying a gentle touch where she could but not skimping on ensuring every last visible speck of dirt was gone from Celeste’s skin and the abrasions that littered it. She also took the time to admire the lean muscles lining Celeste’s back.

It was all good distraction. Everything was. The events with the slavers and Merrill were only a week past, and her fraught encounter with Anders and his friend who had been turned Tranquil that followed on so quickly had left her shaken. Besides the good exchange for room and board on the Wicked Grace, she was relieved to be away from the Ogre’s Teeth and the memories associated with it. She had done her best – the only thing she could do, really – to try and assist mages, as a way of thanking Merrill for saving her life, and it had ended badly. As least being light, fun company was something she knew how to do well.

She was drawn from the surge of morose thoughts by Celeste explaining the design behind the cabin. “The Wicked Grace wasn’t built by a regular shipwright. Nobody told them what couldn't be done, and money wasn't an object, so –“ She gestured around the cabin. “It’s home.”

Nicolette smiled at the note of pride in Celeste’s voice. “Many people would count themselves lucky to have such a home. Thank you, again, for your offer. I was beginning to tire of the ambiance at the Ogre’s Teeth, and for one not inclined to combat the streets around it were a little dangerous at night.”

More than a little, but she did not want to overburden Celeste with the events of the past week.
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#10
Nicolette accepted Celeste’s suggestion that they not share this particular bath with a laugh. “When I was a child I spent a great amount of time swimming around the ships in the docks of Val Chevin,” she admitted, "but the waters were not quite so polluted as here. I think my mother might have prevented me, otherwise.”

“The bigger the harbor, the more people dumping their shit into it,” Celeste agreed with a grimace. “The docks around Llomeryn are a cesspool. On still days, you can walk from ship to ship on the floating scum without getting your feet wet.”

The minstrel scrubbed her back, and Celeste arched into the touch with a pleased groan. Wrestling that damned rudder into position – to say nothing of diving to recover it – had her muscles complaining, but she had a few ideas in mind to relax them.

Someone else needed to relax, too, it seemed. Celeste didn’t miss that Nico’s normal chatter had been replaced by a pensive silence. She could ask … but it was probably none of her business, and providing a distraction from whatever was bothering the other woman would benefit them both. Win-win arrangements were always nice.

She offered a bit of light patter on the history of the Wicked Grace, got a slightly wistful smile in response.

“Many people would count themselves lucky to have such a home,” she observed. “Thank you, again, for your offer. I was beginning to tire of the ambiance at the Ogre’s Teeth, and for one not inclined to combat the streets around it were a little dangerous at night.”

Ah, so she’d gotten a glimpse of the darker side of Kirkwall that Celeste had warned her about when they’d first met. At least she’d survived the glimpse. Celeste pulled the rubber plug from the drain, sending the water down the copper pipe that exited from the stern, halfway to the waterline. Once the water in the tub was gone, she took up the bucket and dumped it over her head for a final rinse, climbed out and toweled herself off briskly.

She didn’t bother reaching for clean clothes. Even as a child, she’d been casual about nudity – much to her father’s regular chagrin – and here in her cabin, if she was comfortable with someone, she gave it no thought. And she was quite comfortable with present company.

She slipped behind Nicolette, letting her splayed hands move over the planes of the minstrel’s back over her blouse. “You,” she murmured, leaning in to brush a kiss in the hollow behind an ear, “are tense.” Her arms slid around the trim waist, drawing the other woman back against her. “Would you like some wine?” she suggested, lips trailing along the slender neck. “Or should I move on to other ways of relaxing you?” Her hands drifted beneath the front of the blouse, one tracing along the waist of the pants, the other gliding upward, fingertips dancing lightly over soft skin –

“HAI!” That probably had the opposite effect of relaxation on the woman she at least had the presence of mind to release on her way to the ceiling, but there really wasn’t any other conceivable response to having a cold nose stuck in her bare ass. Returning to the floor from her sudden levitation, Celeste turned and leveled a stare at a very abashed looking hound.

“Let’s talk boundaries, pup.”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#11
Celeste did something under the water that caused it to start draining away from the tub. Nicolette watched the swirl with mild interest, but it ran a considerable second to the slow revealing of Celeste as the surface gradually lowered. Once it was completely gone, another bucket was sent over Celeste’s shoulders, and Nicolette appreciated the view thoroughly. It was rare she got to admire someone all of a piece like this, rather than brief moments of noticing in between frantic movements and being pressed closer together than wet fabric.

That moved her a good way from the mood that had threatened a few moments previously, and then Celeste slipped around behind her after towelling off, more quickly than Nicolette followed. Celeste pressed her fingers against her back and immediately landed on muscles still wound a little tight, and then a warm breath preceded a soft kiss below her ear.

“You are tense.”

Less so, now. Nicolette leaned back against the other woman. Strong arms, deceptive in their leanness, wound around her waist, and it was remarkable how easily the promise of the woman pressed against her drew her away from past concerns and to the much more pressing – and interesting – needs of the present. They had only been together a few times and already Celeste barely had drop her voice by a tone or two for Nicolette to start warming.

“Would you like some wine?”

Nicolette answered with a soft intake of breath as she tilted her head to the side, allowing Celeste to explore her neck. “Or should I move onto other ways of relaxing you?”

A soft giggle followed as Celeste started to tease her, skin shivering beneath the touch. “It would depend on how the wine would be served. Goblets are very well, but drop by drop from an amicable partner’s belly can be equally enticing.” She enjoyed drawing out the reactions from Celeste as much as Celeste appeared to enjoy responding in kind, but they had not yet had the time for lengthy experimentations. How long did they have before Celeste was called away by her duties to the Grace? “Do you-”

Celeste suddenly yelled in her ear, and although she had let go Nicolette mirrored her startled jump, suddenly and completely distracted from the moment in favour of being convinced that trouble had just come barging through the cabin door. She whipped around, eyes fearful, and found both a slightly-perturbed Celeste and Thibault, who was gazing at both of them with as much confusion as his features could muster.

Nicolette looked at her hound, the exact height at which he measured up to Celeste, reached her conclusions and both tension and desire utterly fled in favour of helpless giggles. She could not stem them, and they only got worse as Celeste wagged her finger at Thibault, culminating an a completely undignified snorting laugh.

“I – I am sorry. I normally leave him outside when I…” she palmed away the tears that had formed, realising that a release of sorts had occurred anyway – the uncentered agitation she had barely been aware of carrying around was gone. “Oh. D’accord, I am all right. Thibault will sit and lie down and go away as directed – he behaves very well, unless around unguarded sausages on a market stall.”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#12
Celeste knew some Jennies that could dish out embarrassment by the buttload but couldn't take even a bit on their own behalf. She'd never been one of that type; fun was fun, to be grabbed whenever it presented itself, even at her own expense. She knew damn good and well that she'd looked ridiculous leaping ceilingward with a dog's nose up her butt.

Even if she hadn't been the type to take her amusements where she found them, the sounds of unfettered hilarity coming from Nicolette and culminating in an adorable little snort would have been enough to soften her indignation and bring an answering smile to her face.

“I – I am sorry. I normally leave him outside when I…” She paused to wipe away tears of mirth from her cheeks, and Celeste grinned at her.

“That much of a distraction, am I?” She could be damn distracting when she set her mind to it, and the minstrel was quite the distraction in her own right. “He's fine in here, as long as he keeps his nose to himself from here on out.” She had not seen anything remotely resembling misbehavior from the dog prior to this, and this hadn't been all that bad; if she'd presented her bare ass to the Thing, she'd be sporting clawmarks on one cheek.

“Oh. D’accord, I am all right,” Nico recovered, and Celeste was pleased to see that the subtle lines of tension in the pretty features had been banished by the merriment. “Thibault will sit and lie down and go away as directed – he behaves very well, unless around unguarded sausages on a market stall.”

Straight lines like that were gifts from the Maker. “Well, since I don't have any sausages to leave unguarded -” she quipped, watching the hound retire to one corner and curl up on the floor before turning back to her lover. “But we were discussing alternate ways of enjoying wine, weren't we?”she inquired, stepping closer and claiming the soft lips in a slow kiss. Her hands dropped to frame the minstrel’s hips, pressing her back gently, step by step, until she felt her bump the edge of the desk.

She drew back just far enough to look into those striking amber eyes. “What wine would go best with you, I wonder?” she breathed, then dipped her head to taste the flesh of Nicolette's throat, sucking and nipping lightly, moving lower at a leisurely pace.

Her fingers found the buttons of the blouse and released them one by one, pushing the garment back over graceful shoulders as she slipped lower, nuzzling a path between her breasts, the tip of her tongue sampling the skin as she went. Lower still, settling to a crouch and nudging her way between Nico's thighs, parted lips exploring the planes of the trim belly, feeling the muscles quiver as she dipped her tongue into the hollow of the navel, circling it lightly.

She looked upward, green eyes dancing with amusement, gleaming with purpose. “Something sweet, I think,” she murmured, a sly smile curving her lips. “Rialto, seven Dragon.” Her fingertips came to rest on the waistband of the minstrel’s trews, circled around until they were resting just above the buttons, paused. “Or should I continue?” Wine now, wine later … it was another win-win situation.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#13
Celeste did not turn Thibault out. It was probably wise not to let him run free around the deck at the moment, with all the work going on, so Nicolette managed between spurts of giggling to order him to rest. Thibault wagged his tail, received a quick scratch behind the ears and curled up in a corner to assume one of his favourite pastimes – dozing. Nicolette mentioned one of his other favourite pastimes, that of embarrassing her by stealing sausages from market stalls.

“Well, since I don’t have any sausages to leave unguarded-”

“And if you did, I would take it,” Nicolette responded easily, with a sly grin. “Although what you came with by nature makes me more than happy.”

If Celeste had been a man, Nicolette would have enjoyed the captain’s company either way, but there was something about a commanding woman who knew when a gentle or a hard touch might be called for that simply worked for her.

“But we were discussing alternate ways of enjoying wine, weren’t we?”

Thibault’s interruption had only cooled them for a moment, and Celeste won back the heat with a long kiss that Nicolette returned, deepening as she let the other woman press her back against the desk. When Celeste started to break it, Nicolette followed, nipping her lower lip for just a moment before releasing her. Her breath was already coming a little short as Celeste locked gazes with her.

“What wine would go best with you, I wonder?”

That Celeste had a way with words was also an enjoyable aspect of spending time with her. Nicolette was unable to conjure up a witty response as Celeste’s mouth closed on her neck, drawing so tightly on the skin that the sensation made Nicolette whimper – and not in pain.

Celeste seemed inclined to take the lead this time and Nicolette had few intentions of stopping her. Her blouse was peeled away as Celeste continued to trace a path downwards, and Nicolette leaned against the desk, pressing her body against the other woman’s mouth and raking the fingers of one hand through her hair. As her tongue trailed around her navel, soft whimpers and moans gave way to a low “Ouahhhhh…”

Then Celeste stopped, just when Nicolette had been anticipating the removal of more clothing, and she looked down with her lip caught between her teeth to find Celeste’s eyes glinting up at her. “Something sweet, I think.”

Nicolette had already been utterly lost to what Celeste was doing and it took her a moment or two to realise what she was going on about, but when she realised, she laughed. “Rialto, seven Dragon.” Fingers curled at the waistband of her trews. “Or should I continue?”

“I think…” Nicolette’s voice came out far breathier than she had intended, and she rested her palms on the desk as she smiled at Celeste, eyes heavy-lidded. “I think that the wine can wait. Although I fully intend to have some with you before we are through.”

Nicolette might not be a fighter, but in this arena at least, she prided herself on being able to give as good as she got.
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#14
Like Nico, Celeste wasn't averse to taking a man to her bed, but since losing Daniel, none had captured her interest. She'd never find the likes of Daniel James Monroe again, and the casual dalliances that had entertained her before felt like settling now. Women were another matter. They had shared much the same tastes there: pretty, spirited and intelligent, and present company was a lovely example, the needful sounds tumbling from parted lips dancing along Celeste's awareness like flames.

The wine would have been fun, but she was more than willing to leave the choice to the lady. “I think…” the brunette sounded breathless, and her smile was full of promise. “I think that the wine can wait. Although I fully intend to have some with you before we are through.”

“Deal.” She loosened the buttons, let her hands slide beneath, palms splaying over the curve of the hips, then shifting to draw the pants down and off.

xxx

A satisfied hum thrummed in her chest as she rose back up, leaning down for a kiss, fingers sliding into the tumble of her lover's hair. “The bed would probably be more comfortable,” she murmured, propping herself up a bit with her free hand, feeling the papers beneath them shifting. Her hand bumped something, and a moment later, that something clattered to the wooden floor. Leaning over, Celeste could see the gemstones she'd found in the Nevarran crypt, partly spilled from the linen sack she'd tucked them into and gleaming in the afternoon sun.

“Oops.” She quirked an eyebrow as she looked back to Nicolette. “You like stories, right?” she asked, wondering how the minstrel would react to this tale.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#15
A happy languorousness had suffused her, and the twitches of the muscles in her legs was beginning to fade. Nicolette raised herself on her elbows, propping herself up on the desk just as Celeste rose and slipped a hand to her hair. Nicolette returned the kiss slowly, one leg hooked over Celeste’s hip, enjoying the warmth of the other woman’s body. Oh, she intended to return in kind, and better, within a few minutes, once the afterglow had receded enough to gather her wits. For now she just enjoyed the moment.

“The bed would probably be more comfortable.”

Nicolette chuckled, low and lazy. “Most likely. I think something has imprinted itself on my behind.” She had been more than willing to ignore that minor discomfort in favour of Celeste. Now she wriggled a little, and Celeste’s hand shifted on the desk. Something fell out of the corner of Nicolette’s vision and she heard a strange series of noises clattering on the floor. Coins? No, the sound was wrong.

She sat up enough to look down, and saw a handful of gems shining on the floor.

“Oops.”

That seemed a touch cavalier a response to spilling the equivalent of more money than Nicolette had ever had in her life on the floor, and she arched a brow at her lover. She had never even seen gems like these outside of jewellery on noblewoman and, occasionally, embedded into statues in wealthy homes. She already knew that Celeste was a successful businesswoman in her own right, but her curiosity was piqued as to why the other woman had five or six valuable stones just sitting in a sack on her desk.

“Oops?” She glanced down again, the blue ones in particular catching her eye. Were those genuine sapphires?

“You like stories, right?”

Nicolette tiled her head to one side, now sitting up properly and her hands resting on the desk behind her. She still had not removed her leg from Celeste’s waist. “Mmm, you could say that they are my life’s work.” She smiled, although a tiny worm of concern had started to burrow around in her gut. There were many perfectly legal means by which Celeste would come to such a prize. And a huge number more illegal means. Nicolette chose not to jump to conclusions. “I take it you have one to tell me?”

Why not now, when they were both stark naked? Well, almost. Nicolette flicked her foot, releasing the last item of clothing that had got caught at the ankle and then swiftly forgotten about.
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#16
Nicolette's eyes went wide at the sight of the gems, and she seemed more than a bit taken aback at Celeste's response.

Oops?” She looked again at the gems, but she made no move to touch them, and no greed gleamed in the pretty eyes, though there was a touch of worry that wasn't too hard to figure out. Celeste wasn't ashamed of how she earned her coin, but she wouldn't fault Nico if she didn't care to risk guilt by association. She'd have mentioned it before they sailed, but might as well get it out of the way now.

Her offer of a story was met with an appraising glance, and the minstrel made no effort to move away, or unwrap her leg from where it wrapped around Celeste's waist. For her part, Celeste wasn't complaining. “Mmm, you could say that they are my life’s work,” she replied with a smile that didn't quite cover the doubts. “I take it you have one to tell me?”

“A couple, actually.” Stealing what might be a last kiss (which would be a damn shame), Celeste gently disentangled herself, scooped the gems back into the sack and dropped it back on the desk. Moving to the wine rack, she retrieved the bottle of Rialto and two glasses, popping the cork with the ease of much practice and pouring two glasses, holding out one to Nicolette. Taking the other, she padded to the bed and stretched out upon it, letting the minstrel choose whether to join her.

“Once upon a time, three friends lived in Starkhaven,” she began, taking a sip of the wine.“Quinton was a wealthy merchant's son, Torgun the son of a carpenter, Oliver the son of a healer. They were all good boys, obeyed their parents, followed the rules, but all three of them dreamed of being sailors. Being good boys, they listened when their families told them that such dreams were foolish and irresponsible, and each boy dutifully followed in the footsteps of his father. Then the plague came.”

She pushed herself into a sitting position, back against the headboard, one knee drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped about it, the other stretched out. “Pretty much everybody in Starkhaven lost someone. Quinton lost his mother, his father, his wife. Torgun lost his father. Oliver lost his parents and his fiancee. All their money and all the following the rules didn't count for anything.

“Quinton and Torgun each had young sons, and all three still had their dreams. And now they had no one to tell them not to follow them. So they built the Wicked Grace.”


“Took some time,” she went on, smiling faintly. “Quinton bankrolled it, Torgun designed it and oversaw the construction, Oliver helped where he could. Folk thought they were all mad, but two years after the keel was laid, in 94 Blessed, the Wicked Grace put to sea.”

She chuckled softly. “The first storm nearly sunk them, but they survived and learned. They hauled cargo and passengers. Sometimes they smuggled, sometimes they hired out as mercs. They were done following any rules but their own, but they did all right. The ship was fast enough to outrun most pirates and customs boats, and the crew was good enough in a fight that the ones that caught them didn't keep them. Quinton passed the Wicked Grace to his son, Daniel, and Daniel passed her to me.”

That was a tale that she wasn't inclined to tell just yet, so she shrugged, taking a drink of the wine. “Our cargo isn't always strictly legal; you need to know that before you sail with us, but if we get caught – hasn't happened yet, mind you, but if we get caught, you're a passenger and nothing more.” She shrugged. “Your choice. Nothing illegal on board right now. Those -” she nodded toward the gems, “are legal as far as I know, and a totally different story.”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#17
Celeste promised a couple of stories, kissed her quickly, and then stepped back to retrieve the gems. Nicolette had wanted to look at them – not out of any covetousness, but because they had been beautiful – but she was more intrigued by whatever it was Celeste might have to tell her. And a little concerned. Celeste retrieved the wine and as she poured it, Nicolette removed the tie that had barely clung on to the rumpled remains of her plait, shaking her hair out and running her fingers through it in an effort to tidy the disarray. That done, she accepted the class and followed Celeste to the bed, but chose to sit with her legs curled under her rather than stretching out beside the other woman for the moment.

“Once upon a time, three friends lived in Starkhaven…”

Nicolette took a mouthful of the wine and then ran her fingers around the rim absently, stopping only when she realised she was drawing a note from it. Celeste was a good storyteller in her own right, setting the bones of the tale at the beginning so she did not have to go back and put them in later. The three friends, who had lost much to the plague and decided to do as they willed, with life being so short.

“Quinton and Torgun each had young sons, and all three still had their dreams. And now they had no one to tell them not to follow them. So they built the Wicked Grace. Took some time.” Nicolette could imagine. Even with her limited knowledge of shipcraft, the Wicked Grace had caught her eye the first time she had seen it at the docks, and the more she learned of it the more she recognised it as being unique.

Then came the first hint of illicit activity – smuggling, mercenary work, avoiding the customs boats. It had done well enough to survive a generation, passing down from father to son and from son to whatever Daniel had been to Celeste. Then Celeste stopped hinting. “Our cargo isn't always strictly legal; you need to know that before you sail with us, but if we get caught – hasn't happened yet, mind you, but if we get caught, you're a passenger and nothing more.” She shrugged, before indicating the gems. “Your choice. Nothing illegal on board right now. Those are legal as far as I know, and a totally different story.”

So far, not so bad. Nicolette had travelled with many people over the years. Even honourable merchants might try and bring in a few more goods than they declared to the customs agents, and along every border there was always a roaring trade for that which was not illegal on the other side. She lifted a shoulder, and shifted a little closer to Celeste. “In some places, I am classified as a vagrant, and my means of making my living barely above the law. If you are not hurting people – people who do not pose a threat to you – that matters little to me.” A few coins from the coffers of the wealthy was not something worth shedding tears over.

A hint of a smile touched her lips. “I like the tale of the friends, putting their minds to their dream.” And now the tricky subject. She nodded back in the direction of the desk. “And the gems?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#18
Celeste was more a bullshitter than a storyteller, but the history of the Wicked Grace was one of the few areas where she didn't bullshit, giving the tale – and the men who had lived it – their due. Nicolette seated herself on the bed, but kept a bit of space between them, listening with an attention that made it clear that she was as fond of hearing stories as telling them.

Celeste didn't sugarcoat; most passengers never knew if they were sharing the ship with contraband, but sharing her bed, even occasionally, had the potential to make the minstrel appear an accomplice in whatever lawbreaking went on. She deserved the chance to make the choice on her own.

Nico considered what she had said, lifted a bare shoulder in a half shrug. “In some places, I am classified as a vagrant, and my means of making my living barely above the law,” she remarked casually. “If you are not hurting people – people who do not pose a threat to you – that matters little to me.”

“I don't hurt anyone who isn't trying to hurt me … or someone,” Celeste replied simply. Red Jenny capers were something separate from the smuggling, but apart from the occasional raging rashvine nettle rash, nobody got hurt. If the minstrel stayed around, maybe she could be brought in on a caper, see how she did. She liked mischief, liked taking chances … she might make a good Friend of Red Jenny, but trusting the other woman with her own secrets was different from trusting her with the Jennies.

“I like the tale of the friends, putting their minds to their dream,” Nico said with a gentle smile, shifting a bit closer to Celeste on the bed, though still not touching. “And the gems?” she asked, nodding toward the desk.

“Maybe just another dream,” Celeste replied with a shrug. “Maybe something more.” Setting the wine aside, she returned to the table, gathered up journal, parchment, gem sack and key fragment, came back and settled cross-legged at the head of the bed, the items spread before her.

“A friend of mine, Little Mary, runs a retirement home for sailors in Gwaren: the Anchorage,” she began. “Captains pay her, she provides a place for their crew when they can't sail any more. Sometimes she gets sailors dumped there. No crew, no family. She takes them in anyway, cares for them until they die. One of them left this journal behind.” She passed the battered book to Nicolette, let her read it while she related what Mary had told her.

“The city of the dead was pretty obviously the Grand Necropolis in Cumberland,” she concluded. “We went there, found the crypt with his name on it, opened it.” She grimaced. “Dead or not, the fucker has a sense of humor; rigged up a stink bomb that went off when we lifted the lid. Had to burn my clothes. Found this -” she held out the piece of cast bronze: one rounded edge, two broken ones, with a series of lines graven in the flat surface and three holes punched through. “Looks like it'll be round, maybe twice the size of a fist when it's complete. If we can complete it.”

She passed over the parchment next. “Crows nest … that's the keyword to break this part of the cipher. It's slow going, but I'm making progress. I'm guessing that the next piece and the next clue is supposed to be in Antiva City. Hopefully once I finish the cipher, I'll know more, because I have no idea what the lines are.” She shrugged. “Maybe it'll turn out to be nothing, but these -” she emptied the bag onto the bed between them. “These are real enough.”

She picked up the ruby, her nod letting Nico know that she could do the same, and held it up to the sun, watching the light dance in the facets. “If these are just a sample of what the real treasure is like, it will let Mary run the Anchorage as long as she wants, take in as many as need it … and leave a good cut for anyone who helps go after it.” She cut her eyes sideways at the minstrel briefly. Might be more than she wanted to sign up for. “And if it's not, if it's just smoke and mirrors from here on out, what I've got here will keep Mary going for a year, maybe more.” She shrugged again. “And I'm curious,” she admitted with a little grin. “I want to see where this ends up.” If nothing else, it hadn't been boring so far.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
153
#19
Celeste promised that she did not hurt people without cause, which was good enough for Nicolette. She had fought, and injured, some before, but out of pure necessity. She was relieved to find Celeste of a similar mindset. Her worry was not entirely cleared up, however. She asked Celeste about the Gems.

In return, she got a story about a home for retired sailors in Gwaren. Celeste had got up to fetch a few things from the desk, and brought back a book with a thin leather cover, some parchment, the bag with the jewels and something Nicolette did not recognise. She accepted the journal, flicking through it quickly. The gist was easy enough to pick up. A hunt, regrets, a treasure available to be found. It could have come from one of Nicolette’s own tales, except she held it in her hands, and she stared up at Celeste with newfound wonder. Could this be real?

Apparently, to a point. Celeste had already found part of the puzzle, retrieving it from a crypt in Cumberland. She held out the prize for Nicolette to examine. It meant little to Nicolette, but possibly because it was not yet whole. “Looks like it'll be round, maybe twice the size of a fist when it's complete. If we can complete it.”

The parchment followed. Another part of the puzzle. “I'm guessing that the next piece and the next clue is supposed to be in Antiva City. Hopefully once I finish the cipher, I'll know more, because I have no idea what the lines are.” She emptied the jewels onto the bed. “Maybe it’ll turn out to be nothing but these – these are real enough.”

With a quick glance at Celeste to confirm it was okay, Nicolette picked up one of the sapphires between her thumb and forefinger. It caught a little of the light from the window, sparkling like a drop of the deepest ocean caught in her hand. It was beautiful.

She had no idea what she might do with it herself, though. Trade, maybe? She knew gemstones were valuable but did not know to what degree. It would be hard to get change from a baker when giving him a stone for a loaf of bread, for example.

Nicolette did appreciate the value they held to other people, though, and she enjoyed watching the speckled red light from the ruby that Celeste held up dance over the sailor’s face. “If these are just a sample of what the real treasure is like, it will let Mary run the Anchorage as long as she wants, take in as many as need it … and leave a good cut for anyone who helps go after it.”

Celeste gave Nicolette a sideways look. Nicolette returned it for a moment, then walked her fingers back over a few pages to read Ephiarm Sharpe’s last entry. The whole thing was written with an educated hand, which ran somewhat counter to his claims of being a farmhand at the first. What was clear was that finding all the pieces of the key and the treasures with them would likely come with risk.

“And if it's not, if it's just smoke and mirrors from here on out, what I've got here will keep Mary going for a year, maybe more. And I’m curious.” Celeste gave a little grin Nicolette had only seen a time or two before, and found quite charming. “I want to see where this ends up.”

“Curiosity has landed me in a lot of trouble before now.” Nicolette closed the book, and only when Celeste had taken it did she offer a sly smile. “And only on occasion have I had cause to regret it.”That the jewels had been retrieved by grave-robbing was no skin off her nose. The dead had no use for anything of monetary value. She was glad she had not had to do it herself, though. “I do not know that I could be of much use, given that my knowledge of treasure hunting is strictly limited to fiction – but I would be quite interest in seeing how well it plays out in reality. If you would have me along.”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
242
#20
Celeste had to smile at the wide-eyed wonder on Nicolette's face as she leafed through the journal. The sailor was a bit more jaded, but she was far from immune to the thrill of a mystery to be solved, a treasure to be found. The minstrel's unaffected delight in the unexpected was one of the reasons that Celeste enjoyed her company, but she had yet to drag her along on anything truly dangerous (sex on the Grand Cleric's balcony aside).

Nico read the journal, studied the gems, the key fragment, the parchment, listened to what Celeste's admission that her own curiosity was pushing her forward as much as the promise of riches.

“Curiosity has landed me in a lot of trouble before now,” she began, passing the journal back to Celeste and continuing with a delightfully impish grin, “And only on occasion have I had cause to regret it. I do not know that I could be of much use, given that my knowledge of treasure hunting is strictly limited to fiction – but I would be quite interest in seeing how well it plays out in reality. If you would have me along.”

“You should get a good story out of it, if nothing else,” Celeste replied, gathering everything together and setting it on the bedside table, then stretching back out on the bed and extending a hand to the minstrel in invitation. “It's probably going to be dangerous, though. No 'probably' about it, really. He makes no bones about that part, though he's playing coy with the details. How are you at fighting?” That the minstrel's agile wit would be an asset was without doubt, but Celeste had no intention of putting her into the thick of anything without having some idea of her capabilities.
 
Top