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She-nanigans and Her-ersy [Complete]

Isabela

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#1
[[OOC: 2nd Firstfall, afternoon.]] Celeste Monroe

Isabela stood over the dying man, who was making a vain attempt to keep at least some of the blood in his body. Two others had already stopped twitching and were on their way to give their regards to whatever ran things on the other side of the Fade. The sultry air and close alleyways of Lowtown, combined with the exertions of the fight, had made her sweaty and the bastards had got blood on a chemise that had gone on freshly washed just that morning. And removing blood was worth two bits more to the washerwoman than the cheapest price. Isabela wiped down her daggers and returned them to their sheathes.

“Maker’s bloody balls.”

This day had been going so beautifully. She had woken up with only a slight hangover to receive a message that one of her informants was actually doing his job for a change and might have something useful for her about the book or Castillion. She’d spent the morning pulling a few strings here and there on some of her legitimate business partnerships, and then come here to receive the details in full.

Except there wasn’t anything about the book, or Castillion, or anything at all. They were Maker-damn bounty hunters who had decided it was worth their while to have a crack at her, a decision only one of them was currently left to regret. They hadn’t even been a good fight, for fuck’s sake. And now the man was spitting curses at her, which normally rolled off her like water from a duck, but then he descended into insults about how it was no wonder that she’d lost her ship, that she’d probably had to whore her way to the position of captain, that she had no right still calling herself by that title. That poured salt into a wound that nearly two years had done little to close.

She let him die as she searched the bodies of his friends. Annoyed by the waste of time and infuriated by the fresh reminder of her loss, she at least had the brief gratification of finding some silvers and a couple of gold on them. It would buy her a few decent rounds at the Hanged Man, and keep Corff off her back about payment for another few days. And right now she needed a drink.

It was mid-afternoon and most folks weren’t out of work yet, so the tavern was on the quieter side. This was not what Isabela wanted. She wanted distraction and noise, and even her favourite spot to find both was turning up nothing. This was a shitter of a day.

She ordered an orange brandy and found her usual seat at a table with her back against the wall, inhaling her first round while indulging in an extremely bad mood. Something fun or interesting had better walk through the front door soon, or she would start a fight.
 
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Celeste Monroe

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#2
Kirkwall's dubious charms were wearing thin. Following the Great Batshit Harvest, Celeste had done a couple of other errands for Gaddrick, hired the whole crew out as muscle to guard a shipment of rare spices from Seheron for the Laurent Company when one of their ships had been disabled in yet another Maker-bedamned storm on the route from Seheron to Val Royeaux, and picked pockets on every street in Hightown in her copious amounts of spare time.

The coffers were in good shape, a message from Gideon indicated that he and Téo were sitting pretty in Antiva City with the proceeds from the delivery of the counterfeit dies, and most of the repairs to the Wicked Grace had been completed in the month they'd been in port. But the new masts had not yet arrived, leaving the fastest ship on the seas tied to the dock looking like Thedas' largest rowboat (and if Celeste had been possessed of long enough oars and sufficient sweaty, well-muscled men to use them, she might have given it a try at this point). Even the Thing was getting surlier than usual, glowering at her each morning when he stalked back up the gangplank after his nightly dissipations to find them not preparing to cast off. No doubt some of the kittens he'd sired were due to be born any day, and as she'd never seen anything remotely resembling filial interest in the tom, she assumed he had no more affinity for fatherly duties than her own sire had shown.

Why, of all places in Thedas, did she have to get stuck in Kirkwall? Even Cumberland would have been preferable, albeit barely. Profit and adventure awaited her in Antiva City, and a winter enjoying the crystalline waters and warm, white beaches of Rivain beyond that, and here she sat in the City of Chains, with the air growing chillier by the day.

She might not be able to leave, but damned if she was going to let herself be bored. The Hanged Man was always a reliable starting point for shenanigans. She'd hoped to find Lady Hawke lounging about; Josc was always up for shenanigans, but while Hightown's Bane was nowhere to be found, there was a familiar face among the few patrons.

“Well, now.” Getting an ale from Corff, Celeste made her way to Isabela's table and dropped into a chair without waiting for an invitation. “I'd heard you were in town.” Much like a hurricane, the Queen of the Eastern Seas tended to cause a stir when she made landfall. She'd heard a few other things, too, so she didn't need to ask why the Siren's Call wasn't among the ships tied up at the docks. Some wounds didn't need salt rubbed into them, and that particular loss hit too close to Celeste's own fears – which she made a point of seldom letting see the light of day. “Buy you a drink?” she offered as the pirate's empty glass hit the table, tipping her own mug back and downing half the contents. You didn't drink at the Hanged Man to savor the taste.
 

Isabela

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#3
Well, somebody apparently thought Isabela had been a good girl this Satanalia, because not ten minutes after she had settled in with her drink and her bad mood, the requested fun and/or interesting had walked straight through the door and spotted her immediately. Celeste Monroe stalked right over to her (once she had an ale in hand, she wasn’t daft), and settled into the chair by Isabela’s. Isabela was perfectly courteous and removed her boots from the table. “Well now. I’d heard you were in town.”

Isabela’s frown had vanished when she noticed her fellow captain in the doorway, and now she even managed a grin. “From which sources? Just so’s I know whether it was accompanied by unrestrained praise or a price for my head.”

She wouldn’t be ashamed to admit she was jealous of the other woman. Celeste’s ship wasn’t decorating the bottom of a sea bed, as far as she knew, and because she had a ship and wasn’t being chased by angry qunari and a raider who had more brains than prick. Yes, she was jealous. But she was also immensely pleased that a person who she knew wouldn’t disappoint her on the entertainment front had walked in right when she needed it; with no Hawke or Varric to play with and no Merrill in sight for more lessons on cards, she’d been looking for an excuse to cause trouble.

She set down her empty glass and didn’t even need to arch an eyebrow before Celeste took the cue. “Buy you a drink?”

“I could use one. Or six. Orange brandy.” Isabela sent a coin spinning on the table. “I’ve got the next round.” A little more generous than she would have been with some, but Celeste had long since proved herself as more than an incidental friend, and Isabela had some fond memories of occasional visits between their respective ships before now. “It’s good to see you, darling. How long have you been gracing Kirkwall?” She made a show of looking over Celeste’s shoulder. “I don’t see any guards on your tail so I’m guessing no longer than…five hours?”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#4
The pirate’s smile when she caught sight of Celeste wasn’t quite fast enough to hide the scowl that it had replaced, but she seemed her usual irreverent self. “From which sources?” she inquired insouciently. “Just so’s I know whether it was accompanied by unrestrained praise or a price for my head.”

“A price? How much?” Celeste wanted to know. “I could turn you in, create a disturbance, you slip out the back, and we split the bounty.” Wouldn’t be the first time. Isabela was always up for a caper, particularly when there was a profit to be made.

“I could use one,” Isabela readily accepted her offer of a drink. “Or six. Orange brandy.” Celeste signaled for Norah to bring them each another, and the pirate deftly spun a silver on the rough wood of the tabletop as she announced, “I’ve got the next round.”

“And I’ll get the one after that.” Drinking to excess was pretty much a given when they met up, particularly when it had been a while since their last get together, and it had been – Celeste did a quick countback and realized that it had been over two years … before Daniel had died. Thedas could be a big place.

“It’s good to see you, darling,” Isabela told her. “How long have you been gracing Kirkwall?” Amber eyes gleaming with humor shifted toward the door. “I don’t see any guards on your tail so I’m guessing no longer than…five hours?”

“As if,” Celeste smirked. If any guards chased her, it was because she wanted them to follow. “Would you believe over a month?” she asked, the smirk shifting to a look of disgust. “Got caught in a storm, end of Kingsway. It took Piper and Julian, damn near sank us and tore the shit out of the ship. We’re stuck here until I can get both the damn masts replaced. Fuck the weather, anyway.” She lifted her mug in a sardonic toast, her eyes meeting Isabela’s in the moment before she drained the last of the cheap ale, a slight nod acknowledging the other sailor’s loss. Bela wasn’t the type to welcome sappy sentiment and sympathy; another similarity they shared.

“I’ve been experimenting with good behavior,” she went on, only half joking. She hadn’t foregone pickpocketing, after all, but apart from that, she hadn’t done anything really illegal since they’d docked.

Except maybe sneaking into unauthorized areas of the Chantry.

And sneaking an assholes silk undies among the Grand Cleric's granny panties.

And having sex on her balcony while she slept just inside.

But Celeste was pretty sure that stealing the bat shit didn't count as illegal. So ...

“Being an upstanding citizen is starting to get boring,” she concluded as Norah set their drinks down. Fortunately, the cure was close at hand.
 

Isabela

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#5
Celeste was immediately intrigued by the mention of a price, and even had a brilliant swindle lined up within a heartbeat to gain them both some money. “I could turn you in, create a disturbance, you slip out the back, and we split the bounty.”

Isabela chuckled richly, not letting on the fact that if Castillion ever got a hold of her then she could likely call that an end to her days, no matter how good Celeste’s disturbance was (and the other raider was damned good at disturbances and distractions). “Oh, darling, I would take you up on that offer immediately, but the sorts of folks who are paying for my head currently are a different grade than the city guard in Rialto.” She grinned at the recollection. “Remember how I stole all of their underclothes off the line on my way out? I gather there was quite some chafing occurring under their oversized codpieces before they could get new sets from the local tailor.”

They exchanged promises of drinks, and Isabela finally felt herself relaxing properly. There was a lot of potential for mischief to be had once they were both good and warmed up. She was surprised none had followed Celeste through the door, and she made a show of looking before asking how long she had been here.

“Would you believe over a month?” Isabela arched an eyebrow. True, a month was nothing to over a year, but it was still longer than she would have guessed. “Got caught in a storm, end of Kingsway. Damn near sank us and tore the shit out of the ship.”

Isabela sucked her teeth sharply in sympathy. Having a ship in pieces was worse but she remembered the first time the Siren’s Call had got a good battering and needed to be in dry dock for a while. It had been like seeing a friend laid up in an infirmary, obviously getting better by the day but still not at their best. It had made her uncomfortable, and Isabela didn’t do uncomfortable.

“We’re stuck here until I can get both the damn masts replaced. Fuck the weather, anyway.” Celeste lifted her glass, and Isabela mirrored her, both of them knowing how much shitter the situation was than either of them said aloud. So Isabela sympathised the best way she knew how.

“Fuck the weather.”

Then Celeste damn near took the wind out of her sails. “I’ve been experimenting with good behaviour.”

“As in how to corrupt it? Or are you talking actually paying bills and taxes, talking nice, not getting into fights every week?” There was good behaviour and there was being downright boring, and every statue of Andraste in the land would get her tits out before Celeste Monroe was boring. Thankfully, her fellow captain admitted that such an existence was starting to wear on her, and Isabela grinned.

“Then maybe I can help remind you that even an upstanding citizen has their feet in the shit most of the time. Maybe after a drink, and a fight if anybody’s stupid enough to give us a pinch, you want to help me out in a little scheme I have going on?” It could be the money-making one or the fun one, she would let the flavour of Celeste’s answer inspire her response.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#6
Celeste's idea for a scam drew an appreciative laugh from Isabela. “Oh, darling, I would take you up on that offer immediately, but the sorts of folks who are paying for my head currently are a different grade than the city guard in Rialto.” Her lips quirked in a nostalgic smile. “Remember how I stole all of their underclothes off the line on my way out? I gather there was quite some chafing occurring under their oversized codpieces before they could get new sets from the local tailor.”

“That was entertaining,” Celeste agreed with a chuckle, accepting the dodge of exactly who was looking for the pirate. Bela would tell her when she was good and ready and not before. The mirth faded a bit when talk turned to the storm and what it had cost, and the pirate raised her glass to echo Celeste's toast:

“Fuck the weather.”

Neither one of them were much for serious, however, and all it took was Celeste's comment on good behavior to get them back on track.

“As in how to corrupt it?” Isabela asked incredulously. “Or are you talking actually paying bills and taxes, talking nice, not getting into fights every week?”

“Nothing that drastic,” Celeste assured her. “Just making sure I don't need to make a quick getaway before I can raise sails again.”

“Then maybe I can help remind you that even an upstanding citizen has their feet in the shit most of the time,” the pirate suggested. “Maybe after a drink, and a fight if anybody’s stupid enough to give us a pinch, you want to help me out in a little scheme I have going on?”

Oh, that sounded promising, indeed. “Schemes are my specialty,” Celeste smirked, taking a drink from the new round. “What've you got?”
 

Isabela

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#7
They reminisced a bit about Rialto. That had been a fun time. Days spent spending loot from the haul, evenings spent running from the guards, nights spent breaking as many ornaments in Celeste’s cabin as possible. Spend more loot on replacing said ornaments, rinse and repeat. Eventually the sea and the pressing need to be away from the nosy local guard had proven stronger than her desire to stay, and besides Celeste had wanted to be away as well. It was a shame they couldn’t sail together, but each captain had their own rules and Isabela and Celeste would be damned before they answered to anybody other than themselves.

Thankfully time had not mellowed Celeste enough that she had become a boring regular citizen, and she immediately appeared intrigued when Isabela dangled some interesting bait under her nose. Few people said no to a drink, but fewer accepted the possibility of some proper fun and a drink. “Schemes are my specialty,” Celeste smirked. “What’ve you got?”

“Just a whole bunch of shiny rocks that people with too much money like to festoon themselves with.” Isabela danced a coin down her knuckles. “A lot of them. A shipment from Tevinter, coming in to a local guy who seems to be strangely well connected to a couple of the cartels around here. The ones who seem happy to accept people as much as coin.” Slavers. Isabela’s history with them was complicated, but it was clearer now. Hawke was having an influence. And besides, it gave her a good excuse to rip this guy off in the name of being righteous. “I reckon he’s trading people for diamonds that he sells on here. Except I think the money from the sale could be in hands that would put it to better use than adding another wing on the library or an orgy room in the basement.”

Or whatever it was rich people did. That last one didn’t sound too bad, but it was still a waste of coin. “I was thinking about somehow getting my hands on it before the drop tonight, but I had a little problem working out the logistics. However, if I had another gorgeous pirate friend around…” she arched a brow at Celeste in invitation.“There can never be too many of those. And I’m reliably informed that the worth of the diamonds is pretty damned high. What say you?”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#8
“Just a whole bunch of shiny rocks that people with too much money like to festoon themselves with," Isabela replied to Celeste's query about the potential caper, idly walking a gold coin over the back of one hand. “A lot of them. A shipment from Tevinter, coming in to a local guy who seems to be strangely well connected to a couple of the cartels around here. The ones who seem happy to accept people as much as coin.”

"More fucking slavers?" Celeste made a rude noise, but the pirate had her attention. Slavers were bastards, but they usually had lots of shiny things that were easy to steal. Screw a bastard, get rich: Celeste's definition of win-win.

“I reckon he’s trading people for diamonds that he sells on here," Isabela went on. "Except I think the money from the sale could be in hands that would put it to better use than adding another wing on the library or an orgy room in the basement.”

"Is that what the rich prigs are doing with their money now? A few years back, it was fancy coaches and solariums." Fashions and fads, abandoned as quickly as they were adopted. "The orgy rooms at least sound fun. What's the plan?" That there would be one didn't need to be asked; Isabela always had a plan, and they were never less than entertaining.

“I was thinking about somehow getting my hands on it before the drop tonight," Bela told her, "but I had a little problem working out the logistics. However, if I had another gorgeous pirate friend around…” one slim, dark eyebrow arched suggestively and Celeste grinned at her. “There can never be too many of those. And I’m reliably informed that the worth of the diamonds is pretty damned high. What say you?”

Celeste drained her mug and signaled for more. "I think I've been good long enough," she declared, "And I think you've got yourself a partner in crime. When's the drop going down?"
 

Isabela

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#9
More fucking slavers, indeed. And exactly the sort of people for whom even the most Chantry-abiding person would agree the Maker wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. Therefore, perfectly all right to steal from. Especially when they were just going to squander it in ways that Isabela and Celeste were far more likely to actually make use of. “The orgy rooms sound fun, at least. What’s the plan?”

The plan was a little dicey, at the moment. It was why, amongst may other reasons, Isabela had been so delighted to see Celeste walk into the Hanged Man at that point. She couldn’t ask for a better partner to carry off this sort of caper with. Case in point, Celeste drained her mug and barely let the empty tankard hit the table before signalling for the next round. “I think I’ve been good long enough. And I think you’ve got yourself a partner in crime. When’s the drop going down?”

“Tonight, around half an hour past ten. It’s about when the guard changes over, so usually plenty of opportunity for a bit of chaos.”Never mind how Isabela had found the guard schedules. Suffice to say she hadn’t informed Aveline about the window into the barracks which had a dicey lock on it, and was only a few steps away from where the rotations were posted. There was much she was willing to share with the big girl, but that was one she was keeping to herself, thank you very much.

“Anyway. You and I might stand out a bit, so we need to blend. Aaaaand guess who just came into dock this evening and are currently having to hang around the docks while their mysteriously missing papers are sorted out? A contingent of Chantry sisters from Denerim, carrying a missive to her Mightiness Elthina.” An accompanying raspberry indicated Isabela’s general level of respect for that woman. “So. I’m thinking a pair of very naughty Chantry sisters should happen to be roaming around the docks around the time the handover happens, and cause a bit of chaos. I even managed to nick some robes already.” She grinned. “We just have to make sure nobody looks too close.”

Nobody who got within three feet of them was going to believe either of them was a laysister, but if this slaver’s friends got that close they’d be at the pointy end of a dagger anyway. Plus, the thought of running around in the robes before the fight and generally being as blasphemous as possible was so entertaining.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#10
“Tonight, around half an hour past ten,” Isabela replied to Celeste's query of 'when'. “It’s about when the guard changes over, so usually plenty of opportunity for a bit of chaos.”

“Do tell.” Celeste kicked her feet up onto the table, ready for the good part. She and the pirate had delightfully compatible visions of what chaos entailed.

“Anyway. You and I might stand out a bit, so we need to blend. Aaaaand guess who just came into dock this evening and are currently having to hang around the docks while their mysteriously missing papers are sorted out? A contingent of Chantry sisters from Denerim, carrying a missive to her Mightiness Elthina.” Isabela made a rude noise, and Celeste snickered dutifully, even though she'd been given a bit of food for thought where the Grand Cleric was concerned. She was pretty sure she knew where this was heading, and Bela did not disappoint. “So. I’m thinking a pair of very naughty Chantry sisters should happen to be roaming around the docks around the time the handover happens, and cause a bit of chaos. I even managed to nick some robes already.” White teeth flashed against tanned skin in a wicked grin. “We just have to make sure nobody looks too close.”

“Ha!” Celeste's crow of delighted laughter turned heads, but it being the Hanged Man, no one's attention lingered long, and she dropped her pitch a bit as she went on. “Maker's balls, but I've missed having you around, girl!” Who but Isabela could have come up with the perfect bookend to her Chantry sneak? “Once the Grace is seaworthy again, how about we ditch this shithole and sail to Rivain for some real fun?” No templars, no blood mages or demons, no qunari. Just sun and surf and sand.
 

Isabela

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#11
Isabela’s plan earned a delighted shriek of laughter from Celeste, and she leaned back in her chair, smiling in a way that suggested appreciation of her own obvious genius. It hadn’t been such a genius plan when she’d first stolen the robes and didn’t have anybody else to run interference, but this couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. The only other people she would have been just as happy to have at her side would be Josc, or Zevran. Ooh, Zevran would look so pretty in a laysister’s robes. He made everything look pretty.

“Maker’s balls, but I’ve missed having you around, girl!”

Isabela preened, and then adopted a pout. “I’m not the one who keeps leaving Kirkwall, like a responsible pirate who has booty to plunder instead of hanging around in this shitehole.”

Which of course, Celeste being the generous friend she was, opened the door for an offer. “Once the Grace is seaworthy again, how about we ditch this shithole-” they really were in sync – “and sail to Rivain for some real fun?”

For a heartbeat, Isabela hesitated. She didn’t like being on ships she didn’t command herself, and she respected Celeste too much to challenge her authority while on board. Even being alongside her friend, it would sting, and every second she was away from Kirkwall she ran the risk of missing a whisper of a lead about this Maker-damned book. It had not been worth the trouble it had brought her so far.

And it would be nice to take a little holiday from worrying about it. She’d send a message to Castillion, through the usual channels, saying she was following up a lead. It wouldn’t be her fault that she’d end up chasing air, as usual; instead she’d have something a lot more fun going on. “You know what? I think I need a break from the City of Chains.” She rolled her eyes. “I’d need to be back within a couple of months, for definite, but until then? I can’t think of much more else I’d rather do than be back on the waters again, especially when I’d get to watch your arse shimmy up a rigging.” She winked. “Any other company? And what fun are you thinking?”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#12
Isabela was quite aware that she was fun company, so she accepted Celeste's compliment with a pleased smirk and a, “I’m not the one who keeps leaving Kirkwall, like a responsible pirate who has booty to plunder instead of hanging around in this shitehole.”

'Pirate' was one of the few things that Celeste did not consider herself to be, a quirk that she had picked up from Daniel, though she seldom bothered correcting people when they made the assumption. Pirates raided other ships, killed their crew and passengers, or sold them into slavery, and took their belongings. Like his father before him, Daniel's philosophy was 1 – Enjoy life, 2 – Take care of your friends and 3 - Harm no one unless they are trying to harm you. Theft, smuggling, mercenary work – she and her crew engaged in these with abandon, but she'd never attacked anyone, on ship or ashore, unless they attacked her first. Bela had been a true pirate, in those early years when she was fighting to build a reputation, and that reputation still held sufficiently that she no longer had to reinforce it with murder and plundering. She was a lot more fun to be around now, even though she still considered herself a pirate; drinking, gambling, wenching and larceny were her favored pursuits, which was why Celeste got on so well with her.

Celeste knew why her friend was in Kirkwall, and it had nothing to do with responsibility. Losing the Siren's Call, being trapped on land, had to be as agonizing to the Rivaini as the notion of the Wicked Grace sinking was to Celeste. Just having her ship laid up for repairs, knowing that she couldn't leave until they were done, was bad enough, but to have no hope at all of a reprieve? That would drive her crazy in short order, and her offer to take Isabela with her when she left was made without hesitation, though also without much expectation of acceptance. Being on board a ship that was not hers would be painful, too, and Bela was used to being captain.

But she was also nothing if not surprising. “You know what?” she said after a moment's thought. “I think I need a break from the City of Chains.”

“Who doesn't?” Celeste quipped, mirroring her eye roll. Kirkwall was rarely boring, she'd give it that, but there was far too much of the not-good kind of not-boring for her tastes: blood mages and demons and qunari and that wrong feel, like infection collecting in an abscess, making the skin over it hot and swollen until it exploded to the surface in a mess of blood and puss.

“I’d need to be back within a couple of months, for definite,” Bela went on, “but until then? I can’t think of much more else I’d rather do than be back on the waters again, especially when I’d get to watch your arse shimmy up a rigging.” Celeste chuckled at the sly wink that accompanied the statement. Isabela knew her well; apart from the helm, aloft was her favorite place to be at sea. “Any other company? And what fun are you thinking?”

“Got a cute Orlesian minstrel trading entertainment for passage,” Celeste replied with a grin. “No idea what she sounds like, but she is definitely entertaining."

“As to fun, we need to stop in Antiva City to get Gid and Téo … and maybe something else.” With Bela along, she just might follow up on the information she'd come up with in Cumberland. “Come by the ship later; I've got something to show you. Something you haven't seen before,” she added with a smirk, knowing what was coming.
 

Isabela

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#13
Being on the Wicked Grace would chafe, no question. But it would chafe considerably less with Celeste at the helm than anybody else. The other woman would respect her boundaries and in turn, Isabela would respect her as captain of that particular vessel. And besides, there was a lot Isabela could put up with in exchange for promise of a good roll around at the end of the day. It wasn’t guaranteed – but it was somewhat likely. But actually knowing what they were up to was also good, and she asked for further details.

“Got a cute Orlesian minstrel trading entertainment for passage. No idea what she sounds like, but she is definitely entertaining.”

Isabela matched Celeste’s grin. “No idea what she sounds like? Pretty sure you’ve got a fair idea about her singing, at least.” Unless said minstrel was one of those innocent, incorruptible types, but those didn’t tend to fall into the ‘entertaining’ category.

“As to fun, we need to stop in Antiva City to get Gid and Téo…and maybe something else.” Isabela arched a brow, waiting for clarification. “Come by the ship later; I’ve got something to show you.” Isabela opened her mouth. “Something you haven’t seen before.”

She laughed. “You know me too well, my darling. But I certainly wouldn’t mind revisiting some things I have seen before, eventually. Maybe I should come by the ship after we’ve finished relieving this idiot of his coin? Then you can tell me what this intriguing ‘something’ is, and we can celebrate our successful caper.” Preferably with wine and nudity.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#14
Isabela offered up a wicked grin at Celeste's mention of an Orlesian minstrel. “No idea what she sounds like?” she quipped. “Pretty sure you’ve got a fair idea about her singing, at least.”

Celeste chuckled, glancing around. Too many ears in range, so she leaned across the table, whispering into the pirate's ear, then dropped back into her chair, a smug grin stretching from ear to ear. “Top that!” The current caper might not do it, but it was an amusingly apt bookend nonetheless. And sex in an alley dressed as a pair of chantry lay-sisters (pun very much intended, thank you) would be the icing on the cake.

Bela laughed when Celeste anticipated her inevitable rejoinder to the straight line she'd dropped. “You know me too well, my darling. But I certainly wouldn’t mind revisiting some things I have seen before, eventually. Maybe I should come by the ship after we’ve finished relieving this idiot of his coin? Then you can tell me what this intriguing ‘something’ is, and we can celebrate our successful caper.”

“Deal.” Celeste lifted her mug in toast and drained it. “So … should we get dressed? Or get undressed first?” She glanced toward the door, where the sliver of light at the bottom announced that the sun had not yet set. The three drinks she'd consumed had a pleasant warmth coursing through her blood, and a tumble with Bela would be a good way to burn it off and kill time. “Or a game of cards?” The two of them trying to out-cheat each other, while not as fun as sex, would still be entertaining.
 

Isabela

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#15
Isabela had expected Celeste to have a story about this minstrel. Her eyes glittered in a way that suggested she had something good to share, and she didn’t disappoint. Isabela was no stranger to doing some risky things but a shag on the Grand Cleric’s balcony before fleeing over the edge on a rope and into the night, leaving behind a pair of Hubert’s red underthings, was one of the best tales she’d heard in ages. And all while on a mission to collect bat shit! She was a little put out that she’d missed it, but that was completely drowned out by her amusment, and by the time Celeste wrapped up her story she had let out a bellow of laughter.

“Top that!”

She wiped away tears from her watering eyes. “I don’t think I have an equal tale to that which you’ve not heard before, darling, but trust me when I say it’s now my mission to match that or better. How do you feel about desecrating the Viscount’s throne at some point?”

The main hall was empty late at night, but the guards did do rounds there. Isabela was pretty familiar with said rounds thanks to the rota in Aveline’s office that she never put in a decently locked desk, although they never knew if somebody might walk their route faster, or try to dawdle for a bit, or simply somebody just felt like seeing what the room looked like. It was heavily guarded, though, and the windows were a difficult reach. It’d be a heck of a challenge.

But they had the other challenge to deal with, first, and plans to make. A trip to Antiva, with old friends and maybe a couple of potential new ones, to get them away from Kirkwall for a bit. And away from those Maker-damned qunari. They traded quips for a minute and then Celeste drained her mug.

“Deal. So…should we get dressed? Or get undressed first?” Isabela followed Celeste’s gaze towards the door. It was far too early to set their plans in motion, but not far too early for other activities. “Or a game of cards?”

She chuckled. “Now that seems a little limiting. Why not combine two activities?” A deck of cards sat on a table nearby; Isabela neatly stole it, flipped the top one deftly between her fingers before tapping her lower lip, grinning at Celeste. “I feel like we should check we haven’t got rusty with our Diamondback skills, and winner of each round gets to demand an item of clothing. Quick version. Whoever loses all their clothes first has to pay a forfeit.”

She nodded towards the stairs, the deck of cards now tucked against the inside of her wrist. "Shall we? I don't have a table in my room but I'm sure the bed will suffice."
 

Celeste Monroe

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#16
Celeste had known that Isabela would enjoy the tale of her Chantry-top escapade, and the pirate roared with laughter when she finally dropped back into her chair, challenging her to best it if she could.

“I don’t think I have an equal tale to that which you’ve not heard before, darling,” Bela admitted, tears of mirth running down her cheeks, “but trust me when I say it’s now my mission to match that or better. How do you feel about desecrating the Viscount’s throne at some point?”

“That would definitely be in the running,”
Celeste agreed with a chuckle. First things first, though, and getting into shenanigans while dressed in Chantry robes was definitely enough of a diversion for tonight. Tonight was still a few hours off, though, so Celeste suggested two good ways to pass the time: sex or cards.

Bela, of course, had an improvement. “Now that seems a little limiting,” she observed with a laugh. “Why not combine two activities?” She swiped a stray deck of cards from the next table, gliding the top one off and tapping it on her lip with a suggestive grin. “I feel like we should check we haven’t got rusty with our Diamondback skills, and winner of each round gets to demand an item of clothing. Quick version. Whoever loses all their clothes first has to pay a forfeit.”

“That works,” Celeste agreed readily.

“Not down here!” Corff bellowed, to the vocal disappointment of some of the other patrons.

"Shall we?” Isabela suggested with a nod toward the stairs. “I don't have a table in my room but I'm sure the bed will suffice."

“Or the floor,” Celeste quipped, moving to follow.

XXX

“So who won?” Celeste asked as she pulled the robe over her head. Not that it really mattered; in that sort of game, there was really no way to lose, and at some point, the cards had been forgotten. Isabela was one of the few that Celeste had known from her early years sailing with Daniel, and while they had disagreed – loudly on occasion – about right and wrong on the high seas, they had always been resoundingly compatible in bed … or wherever. Bela shared her philosophy on sex: if you weren't having fun, you were doing something – or someone – wrong.

“Does this make my ass look big?”
she asked, craning her neck around to examine said ass with mock concern.
 

Isabela

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#17
“So who won?” Celeste was wriggling her way into the robe, and Isabela briefly mourned the sight of the other woman’s body being lost beneath all that beige and red fabric. As ever, passing time with Celeste made her forget pretty much everything else, but it was time to turn to reality. She took a little more time with her own outfit, tweaking it a little as she did; it was itchy, and surprisingly heavy, and she’d waste no time in tearing it off later. Hopefully with Celeste’s assistance. As her head popped through the hole, she grinned at the other woman.

“Normally I’d say me, obviously. I think I still had an item or two on when we got distracted.” Said items being sash and bandana, which hardly counted. They were both good at bluffing, even more skilled at cheating, and utterly unafraid to utilise those skills against each other, so they’d been neck and neck most of the way. “But I think, under the circumstances, we can call it a very amicable draw.”

Celeste had tugged her robe into place and was craning around to look. “Does this make my ass look big?”

Isabela took a good long stare, just to be sure. “I honestly can’t tell you even have an ass under that lot.” She smirked. “These outfits leave far too much to the imagination. A little suggestion would be nice.” She tied her hair back loosely and removed the gold discs from her ears – some folks might be a little surprised to see a priestess wandering around with those in – but for the sake of her own amusement she left the labret piercing in. If anybody asked, it would be a memento of a former, wilder life. They didn’t need to know it would be one she planned to return to this evening. At least the robes meant she could hide a dagger or two in them.

“Probably shouldn’t go out through the main bar like this, or every last sod in Lowtown’s going to finger us for the theft when they start asking questions. Let’s go out the back.”

Isabela led the way downstairs and out the back door. It lead out to the sort of alleyway even Isabela would turn her nose up at having a romp in, and she quickly headed towards the main road. “Now, we should have aboouuuuttt…twenty minutes to get there before the drop. He’ll probably have left a guard overlooking it if he’s got a shred of sense, so if we scout about a bit and find them, once of us can take them out while the other just happens to find this nice chest or bag of diamonds lying around.” She linked her arm with Celeste’s, pulling a demure expression that wouldn’t have fooled a blind man.“Shall we?”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#18
“Normally I’d say me, obviously,” Bela responded to the question of who the victor had been with her usual swagger. “I think I still had an item or two on when we got distracted.” Which admittedly had been more than Celeste had managed to keep, and since each bandanna had counted as a separate item of garb, technically the pirate had won … but since they hadn't actually finished the game … “But I think, under the circumstances, we can call it a very amicable draw.”

“Agreed.” Celeste tugged the robe into an approximation of straightness, glancing back and asking about the appearance of her backside.

“I honestly can’t tell you even have an ass under that lot,” Isabela responded jokingly. “These outfits leave far too much to the imagination. A little suggestion would be nice.”

“I do believe that a lack of suggestion was the point of the design.” But considering the number of lechers Celeste had encountered in these selfsame robes, the design didn't seem to be working. No holes to access her daggers was another flaw, albeit one that was quickly corrected by a blade along a seam over each hip. Then she hiked up the hem to buckle her belt around her waist, letting the robe fall and studying her reflection in the mirror. The bagginess was good for something, at least; not a hint of a telltale bulge. She followed Isabela's lead in removing her earrings, placing them on the bedside table, and smoothing her hair into something like order, tucking the more unruly locks behind her ears.

“Probably shouldn’t go out through the main bar like this, or every last sod in Lowtown’s going to finger us for the theft when they start asking questions,” Isabela observed. “Let’s go out the back.”

Celeste followed out the back door and down the stairs into an alley whose stones were coated with stuff she didn't really want to think about. Sticky, slick stuff. “Now, we should have aboouuuuttt…twenty minutes to get there before the drop,” Isabela estimated. “He’ll probably have left a guard overlooking it if he’s got a shred of sense, so if we scout about a bit and find them, once of us can take them out while the other just happens to find this nice chest or bag of diamonds lying around.”

Celeste debated making a quip about nice chests, decided it was too easy, and accepted the companionable arm that Isabela tucked into hers.

“Shall we?”

“By all means, Sister Izzy,” Celeste replied, mirroring the pirate's expression of bovine piety as they stepped from the alley into the street.
 

Isabela

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#19
They were going to flash everybody in Lowtown if they needed to go for their blades, but that was fine. Isabela was happy to admit that even she would halt mid-attack if she was going after somebody in a Chantry sister outfit and then they threw up their robes at her. Even if it was only to pull out a set of daggers. As an afterthought, Isabela decided that underwear was unnecessary and removed hers again, leaving the smallclothes behind on the floor. She enjoyed a nice breeze now and again.

They went out through the indescribably filthy back alleyway, and hooked her arm around Celeste’s, enquiring if she was ready.

“By all means, Sister Izzy.”

Isabela snickered, and as they rounded onto the street and passed by a few clusters of people who paid them no mind, she adopted the sort of sunny tone with which the more irritating sisters spoke. “I am quite grateful to have your company on this night, Sister Cel…ibacy.” Too good to pass up. “I hear these streets can be so dangerous at night, full of men roving with an eye to degeneracy and violence.”

She could teach anybody short of a Tevinter magister a thing or two about degeneracy and violence. The sort of people who scraped Lowtown’s streets at night for whoever they could rob were barely worth thinking about, but she was grateful to have Celeste along for reasons beyond logistics. The other woman had been a good friend of hers for a long time now and Isabela thought as fondly of her as she did of Josc. Not that she’d ever say so out loud, but she was pretty sure she’d demonstrated it aptly over the last couple of hours.

They were close to the drop point when Isabela pulled up short, noticing the distinct lack of people in the area. The docks were normally busy even at this time of night, either with deliveries being hauled around or freshly on-leave sailors reeling from tavern to tavern and trying not to fall off the quay. The target couldn’t have known they were coming, Isabela had found out about this by chance and hadn’t mentioned it to anybody save Celeste.

Her gaze flicked towards a nearby rooftop. Over the edge, she could just see the bottom rung of a ladder that had been pulled up and left on the edge. Sloppy. At least they’d thought to bring it up with them rather than leaving it in plain sight, but it was still poorly done. She indicated it to Celeste with her chin. “I have a mind to get closer to the stars, Sister Celibacy. I don’t believe the Maker would chastise us for admiring his creation, ri…no?”

If there was a trap laid, Isabela didn’t intend to just let it fall on top of either her or her friend. “Watch your feet,” she murmured. Almost certainly any guards up there couldn’t keep poking their head over the ledge to check on what was going on, so there was probably an alarm set somewhere that anybody drawing close would trigger. And then a whole bunch of men would fall on them, and not in a manner Isabela would welcome.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#20
“I am quite grateful to have your company on this night, Sister Cel…ibacy.” Celeste had to snort at that one. “I hear these streets can be so dangerous at night, full of men roving with an eye to degeneracy and violence.”

“Well, if we meet any, we'll just have to share the Maker's light with them,” Celeste agreed piously. Or just arrange an introduction to the Maker and let Him handle it. Either way.

The docks were quiet … which was the first clue that something was amiss, because the docks were never quiet. Isabela noticed it too, her eyes searching the buildings around them, coming to rest on what looked to be a ladder hanging over the edge of a roof. Carelessness or bait?

“I have a mind to get closer to the stars, Sister Celibacy,” Isabela remarked. “I don’t believe the Maker would chastise us for admiring his creation, ri…no?”

“Not at all, Sister Temperance,” Celeste agreed. 'Isabela' didn't lend itself to anything amusing, but Celibacy and Temperance went together like drunkenness and debauchery. Just not as much fun. “It is a lovely night, after all.”

“Watch your feet,” Sister Temperance warned her softly as they approached the building in question. Needlessly, because Celeste had already spotted the tripwire strung across the mouth of the alley. Likely the ends were tied to cans or bells … something to warn whoever was on the roof.

“Ladies first?” she invited with a smirk, lacing her fingers together to give the pirate a boost, the fact that the pirate had left her undies back at the Hanged Man having nothing whatsoever to do with the offer, of course.
 
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