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Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
[[26th Wintermarch, morning]] Celeste Monroe

Nicolette had rarely been more happy than she had been over the last few weeks. Although she missed performing in taverns to a rotating crowd of regulars, the crew of the Wicked Grace were more than supportive of her performances, and she had food and drink laid on. Not to mention that instead of a violently wobbling hammock below decks, she had a place in the captain’s cabin, and therefore enjoyed both a good night’s sleep and thorough exhaustion before she got to that point.

It was also still a novelty to wake beside Celeste every morning. Celeste tended to rise earlier than she did, but Nicolette stirred from slumber when the captain moved, and they usually greeted each other in an affectionate, lazy fashion before Celeste went up on deck. It was a touch of sweetness that had Nicolette skimming on her toes for the last few days. Even with the lingering fear that pierced her gut every time Thibault went too close to the rail, it was easy to forget within moments of him returning to safety.

Still, she had come on as a member of the crew, and she wanted to do more than play music when things were going well. The incident on their first day out had highlighted how little she knew about the workings of ships, and whenever the others were not engaged in actively helping run the ship, she begged lessons. Most seemed only too happy to help, although for the moment, with the weather getting warmer each day, her second favourite task after performing was being up in the crows nest. Not only did it bring back happy memories, but she could simultaneously remain alert while letting her imagination wander.

Now a savoury scent was drifting its way up from the deck; the noontime meal would likely be served soon. And just in time for it, Sorcha was making her way up the rigging to relieve Nicolette of her post. Just as Nicolette was leaning over to greet her, however, she was distracted by a flash off in the distance. A sail, but not a white one. It was red, with a black sigil on it.

“Is that one we know?”

Sorcha shook her head, and Nicolette called down. “Captain! Sail off the port bow!”

Hopefully it would be nothing, but Nicolette doubted anybody with sails like that meant well.
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Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Celeste was on edge and doing her best to keep it from Nicolette. It was impossible to sail out of the Waking Sea without passing Brandel’s Reach; north was safer than south, as the cove that housed the single town (which was a generous description of the ramshackle collection of taverns and whorehouses that existed to serve the pirates, smugglers and raiders who took shelter there) was on the southern side of the island, but there was always a high risk of encountering a ship either entering or leaving. She had the token that Daniel had earned, a bronze medallion stamped with a skull over two crossed sabers, that would guarantee safe anchorage in the port, but she never used it unless forced by inclement weather, and it gave no protection at all when they were at sea.

Speed was the Wicked Grace’s best defense; she could outrun most pirate ships (and customs patrols, for that matter), and while the crew could fight if need be, it was definitely a last resort. So, she’d been hugging the Free Marches coastline to the north with an eye toward ducking into Ostwick if trouble arose. But they were past that point now, halfway between Ostwick and Hercinia, and too far from either to reach them quickly, when Nico called down from the crow’s nest.

The minstrel loved being aloft, and while she spent a good part of each day learning lines and sails and knots, she never turned down a chance at lookout duty. Celeste seldom gave in to the temptation to join her; the memory of what had nearly happened when she had let herself be distracted was an effective deterrent, and it was enough to see the other woman’s confidence blooming more every time she ascended and descended the rigging on her own, her face glowing with joy. Celeste could get as distracted as she wanted (and did) when they were alone in her cabin each night, but on deck, on duty, she kept her mind on business.

Mostly. Stealing a kiss here and there didn't hurt anything.

That had gone a long way toward soothing any ruffled feathers among the crew; Celeste had been more amused than dismayed to realized that the others had been pissed at her, rather than Nico. It was as it should be, after all; it had been her oversight that had put Thibault in harm’s way, and her brazen stunt that had them pulling a coldwater rescue in the middle of a storm. Thibault had learned his lesson, at least. He kept toward the center of the deck, edging occasionally toward the rails when the seas were smooth, but scampering back quickly at the slightest tilt of the deck.

She turned her head to port, squinting across the waves, then slipped the brass spyglass from its leather case and raised it to one eye, focusing in on the approaching ship. Black sails. Shit. She glanced at her own billowing sails, gauging the wind and not liking the conclusion she was reaching.

She passed the spyglass to Isabela. “Any chance they’re friends of yours?” The red sigil wasn’t one that she recognized, but an outfit that blatant was either very good or very new.

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
It was good to be back at sea! The creak of the timbers, the waves slapping against the hull, the lifting sensation as they surged over a wave and away from bitter, dusty Kirkwall, and the shouts and jokes of a crew in motion. As she wasn’t captain of this vessel, her usual rules of not messing around with the sailors didn’t apply, so she was walking a little sore this morning, but in such a delicious fashion. When Bailey made his appearance that morning she’d winked at him and practically seen the steam pouring out of his ears. He wasn’t going to forget any of that in a hurry. Younger men had the benefit of energy but didn’t tend to know what to do other than keep banging away, so she’d taken a lot of pleasure in teaching him. She considered it a gift to the next woman he slept with. Now he’d have a bit of technique.

Plus now he was going around the deck with a grin that stretched ear to ear, which was quite pleasing to see.

She’d also joined in a couple of times with Celeste and Nicolette, evenings so indulgent that to be honest it was a shame she couldn’t commission a tapestry of the three of them. They could hang it on the outside wall of a Chantry somewhere, right before being run out of town. But she didn’t always join them as it was clear there was something going on there which neither woman was talking about, although after the whole Thibault going overboard thing they were practically shouting it from their eyes. So last night she’d left them to their own devices.

Yes, she was in such a good mood this morning, ready to put her back into doing some proper sailing, that it seemed only natural that the universe chose to shit all over it at that point. They were passing close to Brandel’s Reach - a fun town, if you were known, and a really bad one to be in if you weren’t - and were hoping to avoid attention, but Nicolette’s voice calling down from the crow’s nest indicated they hadn’t been so lucky. She came up alongside Celeste as the other woman was peering through her spyglass, and took it when it was offered.

“Any chance they’re friends of yours?”

Isabela peered through. Red sails, black sigil - looked a bit like dagger with a lot of elaborate flourish on it. She sucked air through her teeth. Shit. They were heading in their direction as well. “Nope. I’ve raided their ships a few times. They’re the Sea Reavers. Pretty decent in a scrap, and not kind to the people they take.” She’d taken great pleasure in sinking a few of them, usually with as many crew on board as she could lash to various bits of railing. And even with that, they made her look like Andraste. “Your guys should be able to take them, but we’ll need to fight clever.”

Up in the nest, Nicolette tried to see if she could get a closer eye on the ship, but Sorcha tapped her shoulder, looking grim. “Whatever it is, you should be down there. Just in case.”

If a fight was coming, Nicolette knew where her place was. Well away from everything, so she didn’t accidentally hinder the others. Which was all very well to say, but as she nocked her foot in the first step of the rigging, the other ship started to barrel directly towards them. Nicolette scrambled down as fast as she could, but wasn’t sure if she was going to make it to the bottom before the other ship caught up with them.

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
The possibility of the fast approaching ship being allied with Isabela was slim; rivalries among the various crews generally meant that any alliances ended the moment a shared objective was achieved … assuming one side didn’t betray the other mid-fight. “I’ve raided their ships a few times,” Bela remarked, peering through the spyglass. “They’re the Sea Reavers. Pretty decent in a scrap, and not kind to the people they take.”

“Surprise, surprise,” Celeste muttered, casting her gaze upward. Sorcha had urged Nicolette out of the crow’s nest and deckward; she’d have her bow up and trained on the approaching ship in matter of seconds. Celeste flicked an eye towards the sails; the wind was in favor of the newcomers. They’d chosen their approach well, or just gotten lucky. “Get ready for a fight!” she called down to the deck. No Téo to watch out for, but no Gideon and his bigass maul; on the balance, not good. “Nico, you and Thibault get to the cabin.” Now was not the time to teach her the dance that was fighting on the deck of a ship at sea.

Isabela lowered the spyglass. “Your guys should be able to take them,” she told Celeste, “but we’ll need to fight clever.”

Celeste nodded, but her eyes were on the ship, which was closing fast on their port side with all sails flying. “Those stupid fucks are trying to ram us!” she said incredulously. “Hard to port!” she roared, spinning the wheel. The Wicked Grace heeled over onto her port side as she curved, then righted on a course that took her alongside the Reaver ship in the opposite direction. Grappling hooks flew from the other ship, snagging the rails of the schooner just as half a dozen crossbows fired broad-bladed bolts that shredded the mainsail and stopped Celeste’s heart for the few seconds that it took for her to confirm that Nicolette had not been hit during her descent.

Then she got pissed. She’d just replaced that damn sail. “Take it out of their asses!” she shouted, pulling the lever that locked the wheel, drawing her daggers and moving to engage as the first of the raiders swarmed over the rail. Young and cocky, but not too good; she ducked beneath the sweep of his cutlass and sliced across the back of his leading leg, hamstringing him, then drove the second dagger up beneath his ribs to his heart. He dropped hard, eyes wide and mouth working soundlessly in the instant before he went limp.

If they were all this stupid, it might not take long at all.

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Nicolette wasn’t even halfway down the rigging when Celeste confirmed what Sorcha had suspected; a fight was coming. In her haste to get down her foot snagged in the rigging and she wasted precious seconds freeing herself. Thibault was bounding around at the bottom and baying, clearly aware that there was trouble on the way, and Nicolette wasn’t going to argue with the order to get back to the cabin. She had applied herself to learning about the ship but she was still barely more than an adequate fighter, and had not even begun to practice defending herself in as close-quarters an area as this. As soon as she reached the bottom, she bolted for the cabin.

Her path was disrupted again by Celeste spinning the wheel hard to port; Nicolette tried to compensate for it and managed, just about, but her steps had taken her wide of the door and then she flung herself on the floor just in time for a crossbow bolt to go whistling through the air she had been occupying not moments ago.

Another crash, as the ships locked together, and then the other crew started to board them.

“Take it out their asses!”

Nicolette got up just in time to see Celeste finish off her first opponent – something that helpfully immediately imbedded itself in her mind - then had to duck again as Isabela jumped from the stern, sailing over her head to land directly amongst the first wave of attackers, ululating like a warrior goddess as her blades flashed white, then red, in the sunlight.

She needed to get to the cabin. Thibault was by the door already and was pawing at the handle, and she had about ten feet she needed to cover to get to safety –

There was such a lot of them! She had to duck and weave through the chaos, feet slipping on the do not think about it, do not look surface, and then she was there, right up against the door, and yanked it open for Thibault to run ahead of her.

A loud curse turned her direction back outward. One of the raiders had managed to land a cut on Isabela, but she didn’t seem too hampered by it; in fact the injury only seemed to fuel her on. The rest of the crew, who only a few minutes earlier had been in the most relaxed state a sailor at sea could be, were tearing through their enemies with grim determination. Inexperienced as she was, Nicolette could see that although the other crew certainly looked fearsome, they were doing badly. Quite a few were whimpering on the deck already – others were already still.

There was one man who was causing problems, built tall and swinging an axe around. Nobody could get near enough to deal a cut and he was proving a little too quick to be hit by a crossbow. Nordstrom and Bailey were running around him trailing a rope, which hopefully in a moment they would be able to pull tight around his ankles and send him toppling.

All this happened in seconds, and she did not want to watch; she turned back towards the door –

A flash of light off pointed metal caught her attention again. One man had broken free of the fray and was aiming his crossbow towards Celeste.
Nicolette looked around frantically; most of the rest of the crew were engaged in their tussles, nobody would be able to break free in time, and the man engaged with Celeste was turning them, slowly, so her back was towards the man with the crossbow, and she wouldn’t be able to defend at all.

The man’s mouth curled in a triumphant grin as his finger tightened on the trigger.

Nicolette’s brain was a long way behind the rest of her body; even as her mind curdled with fear, she was throwing herself across the deck, hands out, and crashed into Celeste, knocking her sideways and her first assailant over the rail into the sea.

The bolt meant for Celeste took her like a hammer to the ribs. At first there was no pain, just the hard sensation of being pushed against the rail. Then a hot pulse of agony burst through her, the somehow senseless intrusion of the bolt piercing her side, and from the rail she fell to the floor, hands clutching at the wound as she cried out, trying fruitlessly to prevent more of her blood from spilling.

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Isabela was always up for a fight, and the bloodier, the better. She launched herself off of the bridge into the middle of the first wave, whooping with glee and sending blood spraying with each slash of her blades. Celeste preferred barroom brawls herself, but if her ship was attacked, she’d damn well give better than she got. From the corner of her eye, she saw Nicolette running toward the cabin, and then the fight swept around her in a blur of blades and fists.

They were outnumbered, but far from outclassed, and their attackers fell with a speed that had to be embarrassing the shit out of the captain. Celeste found herself striking to wound when she could; better than half of them didn’t even look old enough to be shaving yet, with the exception of one big, bearded bastard that was striding about roaring and swinging a massive axe in wide arcs that connected with nothing but kept everyone ducking out of the way. Nordstrom and Bailey came in low, a rope slung between them, and Sorcha’s arrow from the crow’s nest buried itself in his foot. He dropped the axe and bellowed with pain, hopping about on his good foot, trying to pull the arrow out; Nordstrom and Bailey ran forward with the rope, sweeping his one foot from under him and sending him crashing to the deck.

Assured that she wouldn’t be at risk of decapitation from a chance swing, Celeste turned her full attention back to her current opponent: a blonde kid sporting a crop of peach fuzz on his cheeks and wielding a cutlass in a clumsy, two-handed grip, his terrified expression suggesting that he was having second thoughts about his career choices. He hadn’t required more than half of her focus in the first place; the trick was going to be disarming him without killing him -

Someone slammed into her hard from behind, sending her stumbling forward into the kid, and the kid stumbling backward over the rail with a wail of terror. Shit. Probably couldn’t even swim. She actually felt a little sorry for him, right up to the point where the cry of pain behind her registered on her awareness.


She spun, her horrified gaze falling on the minstrel, lying on the deck with a crossbow bolt jutting cruelly from her side and blood - too much blood - flowing from the wound, then sweeping to the crossbowman, who was trying frantically to draw the string to reload. Ice frosted her veins, and she launched herself at him, all thoughts of mercy swept away. His eyes widened, and he dropped the crossbow to grope frantically at the dagger on his belt, but she buried one blade in his chest to the hilt before he’d gotten it more than half out of the sheath, then swept the second across his throat in a spray of blood, not bothering to watch him fall.

Spinning, she sprinted back to Nicolette, hitting the bloody deck on her knees beside the minstrel, her hands hovering fearfully over the bolt without touching it.


The healer had been wielding a saber with surgical precision to disarm most of his opponents; the fight was winding down, cries of pain and pleas for mercy rising in the air as he hurried across the deck and knelt beside Nico, setting his sword aside to prod carefully at the bolt where it entered the minstrel’s side.

Celeste couldn’t watch that, peering into her lover’s face instead. “What were you thinking?” she scolded her in a rough voice, brushing hair away from her cheeks, her fingers leaving smears of blood on the pale skin. “I told you to get below!” Far better that she had taken the bolt; it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Brannigan lifted his head, his expression grave. “Help me get her to the infirmary,” he ordered Celeste. “Do not disturb the bolt.”

Celeste nodded, feeling something unfamiliar and unwelcome gripping her chest, stealing breath and speech. “Kali -” she managed.

“I’ve got this,” the other woman assured her, looking around the deck and sheathing her daggers. “Take care of her.”

Celeste nodded, sliding a careful arm beneath Nicolette’s shoulders, lifting the upper part of her body as Brannigan supported her legs, both of them trying not to jar the bolt as they rose and conveyed her to the infirmary, depositing her as gently as possible on the single cot.

“Get some water,” Brannigan instructed Celeste. The sailor nodded and raced to the galley, returning with two waterskins, passing one to the healer and holding the other to Nico’s lips.

“Drink,” she urged her gently, trying to keep the tremor from her voice and hands. It couldn’t replace the lost blood, but it would help a bit. It had to help.

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Oh, Skies, it hurts!

Celeste’s face appeared above hers, eyes wide with shock as she cradled her head. Brannigan touched the bolt in Nicolette’s side and darkness opened up below her, an inviting escape from the fire that was burning its way through her flank. She wanted so badly to fall into it, and grabbed Celeste’s hand tightly so she would not. Being conscious seemed better than not.

“What were you thinking? I told you to get below!”

Breathing moved the bolt, speaking made it even worse. Nonetheless, she tried. “I - could not - let him shoot you…”

“Help me get her to the infirmary. Do not disturb the bolt.”

Nicolette braced herself. Regardless of how gentle they were, she knew it was about to get worse, and when they lifted her she pressed her hand between her teeth and bit down, which at least helped muffle her, although she could do nothing about the tears of pain now coursing down her face. At least it was over quickly, then Brannigan sent Celeste away to get water, before tending to his task. Nicolette fought every urge she had to kick and swat him away. She was soaked in sweat - or blood - and her mouth was so dry, and each new lick of pain raced through her body like flames on tinder. Celeste reappeared, pressing a waterskin to her lips, and Nicolette dragged at it desperately.

“There’s good news.” Brannigan’s voice was distant. “The bolt hit bone. It hasn’t gone far in as a result. It’s still going to hurt when I take it out, mind. We’ll need to clean her up quickly and get her bandaged as soon as possible once it’s out. Celeste - cut that part of her shirt away, so we can see what we’re doing.”

Consciousness was proving harder to keep hold of, and Nicolette only resurfaced when Brannigan leaned over her again. “We’re ready. I’m going to pull it free now; keep your tongue from between your teeth.”

Nicolette readied herself; even so, as Brannigan started to carefully extract the bolt, her voice lifted in a hoarse scream.

Few feelings matched being in the thick of a fight. While Isabela marginally preferred the sort of grapple that took place between the sheets (or whatever dark corner would have her and her companion as a guest), this was living, second to second, with every one of her senses brought into play; now over here, her blade sliding beneath a man’s guard to drag up between his ribs; ducking a blow that could have taken her head off then sliding her dagger home, throwing back an elbow to crack into another man’s face as she lashed out with her foot and neatly caught a set of balls on the steel-toed tip. She tasted salt and copper, smelt blood and sweat, reveled in the cries of her opponents as they fell before her and the sheer joy of knowing just how damned good she was at this. Every since she’d picked up a pair of sticks on Llomerryn and fought with them the first time, she’d known.

And with the joy came the hunger. She wanted to see the men scream. The look of terror in their eyes as they started to realise that their victims were not as helpless as they’d thought was something she savoured more than a good brandy. She wanted them to occupy the exact same position they’d planned to put her in, and to realise that she would show them as much mercy as they would have. Her lips pulled back from her teeth as she drove her blades through a young lad and then kicked him backwards, leaving him still grabbing at his wounds and howling.

The air was filled with the sounds of the injured and dying; Isabela had long since become used to the sound of death cries. But when Celeste’s voice rose, tight with panic, the scream cut through the battle-lust and Isabela broke away from the scrum she’d immersed herself in, trying to see what could have made her fellow sailor make that noise.

The sight of Nicolette, lying in a pool of her own blood, answered that question. A crossbow bolt was embedded in the minstrel’s side, and Celeste was bent over her, saying something that was lost in the surrounding noise; the minstrel murmured something back. Within the next few moments, Celeste and Brannigan had ferried Nicolette below decks.

Well, shit. The bolt didn’t look like it had gone too deep, but it wasn’t pretty, and Isabela had seen strong men go into shock from similar injuries. She hoped nothing happened to Nicolette - she quite enjoyed the minstrel’s company, but more importantly, she’d have to have been blind not to notice how much Celeste cared for Nicolette, and it’d gut her friend if she lost her.

There wasn’t anything Isabela could do about it now, though. Except take it out on these scum. A wail from the water below drew her attention downwards; one of their would-be attackers had fallen into the sea, and was clinging to a trailing length of rope left behind by their grappling hooks. He wasn’t strong enough to pull himself completely free of the water, and his cries were choked off by the spray. Even then, he pleaded.

Isabela leaned forward, pressing her knife to the rope, and his screaming redoubled. She started to saw -

Then got yanked backwards by Kali. “They’ve surrendered. No need for more deaths, now.”

“If they’re still alive I’d say there is.” She resumed her task, only for Kali to pull her back again. The other woman’s eyes were blazing in an expression not dissimilar to one Isabela had seen Celeste wearing a few times.

“That’s not your decision, though. You’re not captain.”

Isabela didn’t flinch, even though the words stung. She wasn’t captain, no. And she wasn’t likely to be for a long time. Instead she stashed her blade, mood dashed against the rocks of Kali’s mercy. “Fine.” She turned away as Dax and Bailey came forward to start helping the boy out of the water. “We’ll see what Celeste says.”

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
“I - could not - let him shoot you…” Nicolette struggled to get the words out, her features drawn in pain, her skin a ghastly shade of grey that frightened Celeste as much as the blood that was spreading across the minstrel’s blouse.

“I’ve been shot before!” she growled, her voice rough but her hands gentle as she helped Brannigan lift the injured woman and convey her across the blood-slicked deck to the infirmary.

“There’s good news,” the healer reported after a brief examination. “The bolt hit bone. It hasn’t gone far in as a result. It’s still going to hurt when I take it out, mind. We’ll need to clean her up quickly and get her bandaged as soon as possible once it’s out. Celeste - cut that part of her shirt away, so we can see what we’re doing.”

Celeste obeyed, sucking in a harsh breath at the sight of the shaft jutting cruelly from the lower ribcage on the left side, blood still flowing out around it. “Why is she bleeding so much?”

“You know that blood always looks like more than it is,” Brannigan reminded her before admitting, “it may have nicked the spleen when the rib deflected it, but I don’t think it went deep enough to have hit any of the bowels.” But his expression said that he wasn’t positive, and Celeste felt her stomach yawing in dread at the prospect. Gut wounds were feared above nearly every other for the slow, agonizing and almost inevitable death that resulted.

She glanced to Nicolette’s face; the minstrel’s eyes had drifted shut, and she seemed unaware. “What if it has?” she whispered fiercely.

“I can try to operate,” he said without pausing in his ministrations, but his eyes said what she already knew about the chances of success. “This close to Brandel’s Reach, I think that would be our best chance.” The pirates and raiders that sheltered in the harbor of the island redoubt frequently had apostates among their crews. “We’re ready.” The pain-hazed eyes opened at Brannigan’s words, but Celeste couldn't tell if Nicolette understood. “I’m going to pull it free now; keep your tongue from between your teeth.”

Celeste slipped her hand into one of Nicolette’s. “Squeeze tight,” she urged her. She was ready for the grinding pain as the minstrel’s grip tightened on her fingers, but the ragged scream that escaped her lover tore at her in an unguarded spot that she’d all but forgotten about, and she very nearly howled in frustrated sympathy with the agony and fear in that cry.

Brannigan pitched the bolt aside without ceremony and immediately began cleaning the wound and examining it through the flow of blood. “Help me lift her,” he ordered. Nicolette was unconscious, or close to it; Celeste slipped her arms beneath the other woman’s slender frame, lifting her up enough for the healer to wrap the bandage to hold the compress in place. “The bleeding has slowed,” he reported, “but I can’t say with certainty that it will stop, and if there is even the smallest tear in the gut -”

He didn’t need to finish, but before Celeste could respond, Kalindra entered the infirmary.

“We’ve got a problem,” she announced, looking annoyed. “Isabela wants to kill the ones that surrendered. They’re kids, Celeste,” she went on, seeing the expression on her captain’s face, “and the big one is simpleminded, from the look of him.”

For the briefest moment, that didn’t matter; all Celeste wanted was to take revenge for what these bastards had done, but one glance at Nicolette’s pale, still face, and she knew what the minstrel would want, and what her reaction would be if she ordered the slaughter of the survivors of the fight.

Kali followed her gaze. “Will she be all right?” she asked, knowing that the answer to that question would tip the balance one way or the other.

“Yes,” Celeste replied without hesitation. She wouldn’t let herself consider otherwise. Bending, she smoothed the hair away from Nicolette’s forehead and pressed a tender kiss to the cool flesh before striding back onto the deck, reining in the urge to lash out.

One glance confirmed that her earlier observation, and Kalindra’s, had been correct. Some of them were sullen and defiant as they stood at swordpoint, some frightened, a couple in tears, but none of them looked a day over sixteen, and most of them younger than that. The big man wept openly as he cradled his foot, and above the unkempt black beard, his brown eyes held the betrayed confusion of a small child whose grand adventure had suddenly turned frightening.


“Pull up anyone still alive in the water,” she ordered Dax and Bailey before turning to the pirate. “We’re not killing a bunch of stupid kids,” she told Isabela curtly. “We may need to go to Brendel’s Reach to find a mage to heal Nico.” That at least was a practical reason that the pirate would understand. She turned, fixing the oldest of the kids with a flat stare. “Your name, and the name of the captain that you stole this ship from,” she demanded without even a hint of softness in her voice.

“I didn’t steal it,” he shot back, his eyes flashing defiantly. “My father’s the admiral of the Sea Reavers.”

“And he sent you out with a bunch of beardless boys to try your luck?” she inquired, knowing the answer. The youth flushed and looked away sullenly. “You’d better hope he’s willing to pay to get you back. Tie them up,” she ordered. “Cut the sails on their ship and leave it adrift. The damned Reavers can retrieve it themselves.”

“They’ll likely keelhaul us when they do!” one of the other lads blurted miserably. “I tol’ ya we shouldn’t’ve done it, Rand!”

“Shut up, you lily-livered coward!” Rand snarled.

“You’re damn lucky I don’t keelhaul you on the way in,” she informed them flatly. “Set a course for Brandel’s Reach,” she told Isabela, waiting to see if there would be any pushback.


Prominent member
Canon Character
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Isabela prowled slowly about the deck, restless as a lion in a cage. She made no further move to prevent Celeste’s crew from saving the survivors, but neither did she help, and her gaze flitted again and again to the entrance where Brannigan and Celeste had gone down, impatient for her friend to resurface.

This wasn’t really about Nicolette getting hurt, for her at least. She would have been filled with the same restless need even if the minstrel remained unharmed. The harrowing screech that seared up from below decks didn’t help, though.

She paused to look one young lad in the eye. The group had been herded into a corner of the deck, most frightened, a few less scared than annoyed that their plan had gone awry. One dirty-blond boy was actually studying his nails; she lifted his chin with the point of her dagger, and his eyes widened, although there was more self-righteous annoyance than fear in the expression. “Your captain’s second said not to hurt us!”

“She isn’t my captain.” She let that sink in, and all the confidence had fled his expression. There wasn’t time to savour it, though. Celeste came back above decks, and Isabela lowered the blade; as she did, she noticed Dax and Bailey fall back. Likely had she made a move to slit a throat or two, they would have tackled her to the deck.

Celeste glanced around at the prisoners, and swore, before relaying orders for anybody who hadn’t drowned yet to be pulled back up. “We’re not killing a bunch of stupid kids.”

“They’re men enough to sail a ship. Aren’t they men enough to face the consequences of their actions?”

Under other circumstances, she might have congratulated the boys on their moxy. But she wasn’t in a generous mood right now, not with the reminder that she was not the one in charge of what was to happen. These boys would become men, and they would go on to terrorise other ships in the future.

Even if Isabela didn’t really care about that from a moral point of view, why encourage the competition?

But Celeste had other things on her mind. “We may need to go to Brandel’s Reach to find a mage to heal Nico.”

Shit. That bad. All the more reason to get rid of these idiots - at the very least it’d remove some weight. And the attitude of the boy who turned out to be the son of the Sea Reaver’s leader wasn’t helping. Isabela closed her eyes a moment, but was unable to tune out his bleating. It only got worse after Celeste passed her sentence.

“Tie them up. Cut the sails on their ship and leave it adrift. The damned Reavers can retrieve it themselves.”

Maker damn it. Isabela opened her eyes again as Celeste turned to her. “Set a course for Brandel’s Reach.”

“So we’re sailing into Brandel’s Reach, where likely his illustrious father or some of his hangers on are likely to be docked, with them tied up on board, and just keep them quiet in the brig until we’re back out again, is that is? Or are you hoping that once they’re down the gangplank that the Reavers will just let the matter go?”

Isabela respected Celeste as a fellow captain. But she wasn’t her captain, and damned if she was going to be held back from talking some common sense just because of their friendship. “You should dump them back on their ship, then cut the sails and send them drifting out. They want to be sailors? See how they’ll fare against that. Without food stocks, either.”

“The other Reavers would never reach us in time! We’d die!”

Isabela pulled her teeth back from her lips as she turned on the boy who’d spoken. “And what would you have done to us if you’d won, hm? Would you have explained it was all a game, and let us go politely, and apologised oh-so-nicely to the woman currently bleeding below decks that you didn’t mean an arrow to the side, not really?”

She turned her head back to Celeste. “I’ll set the course. If your minstrel didn’t need the help, this’d be a longer conversation.”

She turned on her heel, heading for the helm.

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Celeste and Isabela had been friends for years … since well before Isabela had been Isabela. They were kindred spirits to a large degree in their love of the ocean and adventure, but the lives that had shaped each of them had been vastly different. Celeste had long ago stopped wondering what Naishe would have been like if she had been married to someone more like Daniel instead of that pig Luis. She hadn’t, and by the time she had been freed by his murder, she’d been like a caged animal desperate for freedom, determined that no one would ever control her again. If Celeste had been there, she might have convinced her to throw in with them, sail the Siren’s Call alongside the Wicked Grace while she learned how to sail.

But Naishe had fetched up in Llomeryn instead, and by the time they found her once more, she was calling herself Isabela and had decided that the best way to keep from being hurt was to do the hurting first. It had been a stormy period in their relationship, and while Celeste had refused to give up completely on her friend, they had been at odds - savagely at times - for a good many years. Once Bela had secured her reputation, she had lost the sharpest of her rough edges, but some of the choices she’d made still haunted her, though that only showed when the two of them were really deep into their cups. Drunk or sober, she was always up for shenanigans, but she was, without doubt, more ruthless than Celeste in most situations.

“They’re men enough to sail a ship,” she protested angrily now. “Aren’t they men enough to face the consequences of their actions?”

Celeste found herself in an odd mental stalemate. She had been young and stupid and eager to prove herself once, and while she hadn’t tried to kill anyone, her impulsiveness had nonetheless led to bloodshed. She’d been given a second chance; that might have inclined her toward mercy, given the drubbing they’d already administered to the would-be pirates if there hadn’t been any serious injuries.

But there had been, and it was Nicolette who was unconscious in the infirmary. The memory of the minstrel’s pained cries and pale face had tied an unfamiliar knot in Celeste’s gut, and the temptation to take it out on the ones who had hurt her was strong. Holding her back was the sure knowledge that Nico would not want unarmed prisoners killed on her behalf, but the final weight in the balance was more practical in nature.

“So we’re sailing into Brandel’s Reach, where likely his illustrious father or some of his hangers on are likely to be docked, with them tied up on board, and just keep them quiet in the brig until we’re back out again, is that is?” Isabela demanded irritably. “Or are you hoping that once they’re down the gangplank that the Reavers will just let the matter go?”

“I’ve still got the truce medallion,” Celeste replied. “They can’t start anything in Brandel’s Reach. And since I’m guessing that this whelp -” she jerked a thumb at the sullen youth, “didn’t ask before taking the ship, odds are good that his admiral will be more concerned with disciplining him and his mates than any payback.” If he was worth anything as a commander, he would be.

Isabela wasn’t happy and made no bones about it, pointing out, not incorrectly, that were the tables turned, their prisoners would not have shown them similar mercy. “I’ll set the course,” she growled. “If your minstrel didn’t need the help, this’d be a longer conversation.”

Celeste watched her stalk toward the helm. If Nico weren’t wounded, the conversation wouldn’t have taken place. Without the need to tie up in Brandel’s Reach with a minimum of resistance, she’d probably have agreed to set them adrift in their disabled ship, albeit not without food and water.

“Patch up the worst of their wounds,” she instructed as Piotr and Bailey set to hauling up buckets of water to wash the decks. “Don’t bother Brannigan with it. He’s looking after Nicolette.”

“She all right, Cap’n?” Piotr looked as though he agreed with Bela, glowering fiercely at the bound prisoners.

“She will be,” Celeste promised. Ducking into her - their - cabin, she went to the desk, opened a drawer and withdrew a cast bronze medallion as broad as the palm of her hand. On its face, two sheathed swords crossed over the face of a skull. The Wicked Grace wasn’t a pirate ship; Quinton had drawn that line firmly, and Daniel and Celeste held it. But that token, won by Quinton Monroe over thirty years ago, gave them safe harbor at the raiders’ redoubt in storms or other dire circumstance, so long as they never aided any of the navies that tried to take the place from time to time. It didn’t protect them at sea, but most experienced raiders knew that the ship was far from a soft target and chose to seek easier prey.

The rest learned the hard way.

Tucking it into her pocket, she returned to the infirmary. “Hey.” She crouched beside the cot, cupping Nicolette’s cheek with a careful hand, peering worriedly into her face before glancing to Brannigan.

“I’ve given her something to help with the pain and blood loss,” he advised. “Might make her a bit woozy.”

She nodded. “We’re headed for Brandel’s Reach.”

He nodded. “Been a while,” he observed in a tone that suggested that he’d have preferred if it had been a while longer yet.

“If you know someplace else I’ve got a chance of finding a mage quickly, I’m all ears.” Kirkwall and Harmon were several days’ sailing behind them, with the risk of storms added to the mix. “I’m not planning on lingering.” Open conflict between the crews in port wasn’t permitted, but there was skullduggery aplenty in the alleys and shadows. They generally kept to the ship or the Screaming Goat, the least disreputable tavern on the island.

He nodded. "It's our best option," he agreed gravely. "I just hope those young bucks out there don't turn into more trouble than they're worth."