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Joscelyn Hawke

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#1
(( Harvestmere 25, 9:35. Evening. @Nicolette O'Hara ))

Josc was already a bit far into her cups. Not falling down drunk too far, but definitely way too chatty and handsy too far. As such, she was in a great mood. She's already won a few card games, gave the money back to the losers, and bought two rounds for the whole house on her. The singing had started soon after a man had said he'd sing her praises in the chantry for a kiss. He didn't get that kiss, but she did get him an extra mug before hopping up on a table and belting out a horrible rendition of a Oh Molly Me. The song got everyone singing along, it was easy to keep the beat with a stamp of the foot on the floor -- or in Josc' case the table.

Corff was yelling from the bar for her to get down, fussing over the state of the tables already in the bar, but everyone's singing drowned him out. Besides if Josc had heard him, she'd just offer to buy a new table. It's not like she couldn't afford it. Hell half the time she considered buying the bar anyway, but she always thought against it. She had enough business to deal with considering the mines and the lands connected to her estate. Besides, if anyone should buy the Hanged Man it should be Varric since he pretty much lived here.

The song ended, and everyone cheered. She lifted her mug and drained it, calling for the nearest serving girl to get her another. She didn't leave the tabletop, and Corff was too busy filling cups of the now even more thirsty patrons in the bar to be fussed. "What should we sing next you dirty dogs? A nice rousing tribute to Satinalia?"

That got a few "nooos" from the crowd and she laughed, "Alright, I know. We'll get all pious and we'll sing part of the Chant yeah? I'm sure the Maker would love to hear our rendition?"

That got a few wide-eyed looks, a few mumbles, before a group near her started laughing. She giggled, "Oh, come now. You know I'm not that blasphemous. I need a few more drinks before that!"

She paused for a moment, hands on her hips, looking around the room, "No one? Not a single one of you going to give me a suggestion then? Surely I don't have to do all the work around here?"
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#2
Nicolette did not always get the chance to be the one being entertained. She always attempted to find time to listen to other minstrels, but usually because it was a quick way to pick up new songs and stories. She admired the craft but not often did she shut down the professional part of her mind enough to really relax and enjoy the show for its own sake.

Today was an exception. She had come into the Hanged Man to find a Fereldan woman stamping on a table and bawling out a song popular in the southern taverns. Enough people were joining in to make it difficult to tell if the woman’s singing voice was any good, but Nicolette delighted in the show anyway; the woman sparkled with a vivaciousness that was immediately appealing and apparently she had no qualms in leading the crowd from one verse to the next, her footfalls echoed in a scattered fashion by every patron present. There were few seats to be had and Nicolette picked her way through the crowd to try and get a drink, assuming Corff had not been drunk dry by now.

The song came to a tumultuous finish. The crowd roared, the woman claimed her tribute in the form of another drink and remained squarely on the tabletop. “What should we sing next you dirty dogs? A nice rousing tribute to Satinalia?”

That suggestion was not greeted with much enthusiasm; neither was a suggestion of a few verses of the Chant. Even Nicolette, who was about as Andrastian as the average qunari, found that a little startling, but she laughed a little as the woman shrugged it off. “Oh, come now. You know I’m not that blasphemous. I need a few more drinks for that!”

So apparently she was a regular here, and a well-known one at that. Presumably Nicolette had simply not been in the Hanged Man at the same time as her before; she could not imagine how she would have overlooked her otherwise. The woman stared boldly around the room. “No one? Not a single one of you going to give me a suggestion then? Surely I don’t have to do all the work around here?”

There were a few mumbles here and there. Nicolette thought about just waiting to see what the other woman would do without feedback, but she could not help herself; she knew a Fereldan drinking song that the woman would almost certainly know. “Johnny Jump Up!”

One of the men standing nearby nudged Nicolette so hard in the ribs with his elbow that she almost staggered, but from poor coordination rather than viciousness. “Yeah! Get up there and show her how it’s done!”

Oh, so, not standing towards the back and watching the show, then. Nicolette was hustled forward and given several helping hands up onto the table, which carried both of them with little more than a foot of room to spare. Nicolette had managed to release the vielle from its case on the way over, and she grinned at the Fereldan woman as she placed it under her chin, hoping that she would not mind the company.

“Tell you a story, that happened to me

One day as I went down the yard by the sea

The day it was bright, the sun it was warm

Says I a quiet drink, doesn’t do me no harm!”


[[OOC: Johnny Jump Up is by Gaelic Storm. www.youtube.com/watch?v=u56R_qHTLVI]]
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#3
The crowd didn't seem like it was going to help her out much. Mutters and mumbles moved across the room and she stood there with her hands on her hips. Some rascals these were, not even wanting to give her a hand in entertaining them. She almost chided them again, just to give her some time to think of something else to sing or do. She could have just sat back down and said fuck it, but there was something about the energy of the crowd when she got them going.

Even those grumpy assholes in the corners seemed to take part at least a little, and that was a victory in her book.

But before she could taunt them a second time, a lovely feminine voice called out, “Johnny Jump Up!

Oh she knew that one for sure. She'd found that not everyone in this bar had heard of half the songs she knew from Ferelden. It had been her joy to educate them. The woman was being ushered up to the table where she was standing -- her delightful, makeshift stage -- before being lifted up next to her. Maker, she was at least half a foot taller than Josc, but she didn't mind. Put her at about the perfect height she'd say. She grinned as the woman put her instrument under her chin and started playing the song.

Actual music with her singing, now that was something else. Her new companion started the song, and Josc joined in stamping her foot to the beat and clapping her hands. She moved her torso in a half circle trying to get people involved before picking up the next line with her music playing new friend.

I went to the barkeep, I says give me a stout
Says the barkeep, I'm sorry all the beer tis sold out
Try whiskey or brandy, ten years in the wood
Says I, I'll try cider, I heard it was good


The chorus came next, and by then at least half the tavern was shout singing with them. Someone handed Josc an ale, and she held it up high, taking a drink between the chorus and the next verse. She gave her companion a wink, but didn't offer her a drink since she was playing her instrument so well at the moment.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#4
The other woman did not appear to object to having her dance space suddenly halved by Nicolette and an instrument. In fact she was grinning in approval as the song began, even if the lyrics and most of the music were largely swallowed by the roar of the people singing along with them. The pair of them stamped on the table, causing it to sway, but Nicolette was not especially worried; she had good reflexes and if it started to give way, there were a lot of hands waiting to catch either of them. So she swayed her hips in time with the Fereldan woman’s gyrating, beaming as they began the next verse.

Somebody shoved an ale into her new companion’s hand, and she earned a wink; drinks would likely come for her later, which would be even more likely if Varric was in the vicinity. There were benefits to having befriended him, besides his stories and excellent company. So she played louder and the voices in the tavern matched theirs; by the end she was almost hoarse and her fingers stung with the speed at which she had played the solo, but she was gleaming a little with exertion and felt the delightful tingles beneath her skin that accompanied a successful performance.

Their audience wanted more, but Nicolette needed a drink. The moment she had tucked her bow and vielle into one hand, somebody was shoving a tankard at her, and while she would normally be more careful about imbibing anything of which she did not know the origin, it seemed unlikely that anybody would try to cause her harm in this crowd. So she took it and threw most of it back in a few gulps, after which she realised that it had been inspired by their song – it was cider, and it was extremely strong. She coughed a little, rolling her eyes upwards until they stopped watering, before turning to smile breathlessly at her companion.

“Another? Or should we take further advance of the drinks on offer first?”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#5
The song came to an end, and more drinks were brought, this time for her companion as well. When the woman knocked back the cider, it was obvious she hadn't quite expected the kick that came with it. Josc chuckled a little, keeping her grin wide as she looked at her. She was beautiful (and she was sure that wasn't the alcohol talking either, she wasn't THAT drunk). She took a swig of hers but didn't down it, when her music partner recovered from the drink.

Another? Or should we take further advance of the drinks on offer first?” She said, and Josc laughed, taking a step off the table to to a nearby chair.

"I need a few drinks before I caterwaul at these fine people some more. You should join me." She held her hand out to help the musician down from the table and people began to find some seats. Loud laughter echoed through the room from different tables and areas. Folks were having a good time, just the way she liked it. Not all nights at the Hanged Man were as lively.

"Name's Josc, would appreciate hearing yours." She said, giving her a wink. "You got quite a talent there both with your voice and that instrument. Put me to shame for sure."

She waited until she stepped down from the table, and lead her over to another a little further away from the center of the room. She kicked back in a chair with her mug, boots coming up to rest on the table.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#6
The other woman turned down the offer of another song, at least for the moment, but was immediately in favour of some more alcohol as fuel for the next performance. “You should join me.”

“With pleasure.” Nicolette took the proffered hand and stepped down. The woman was dressed in the same style as many of the other patrons, although the fabric was better quality and of a finer cut, and Nicolette felt slight calluses on the palms that denoted some familiarity with labour. She sensed a story, although she would not even have needed that to be interested in knowing the other woman better. Almost anybody who was willing to get up on a table and lead a tavern in a singalong had her attention.

“Name’s Josc, would appreciate hearing yours.”

“Nicolette O’Hara.” She beamed at her new acquaintance. Now they were both back on the ground, the height difference was more pronounced, but Josc had more than enough presence to give the impression of a far taller woman. “Travelling minstrel, and enchanted to meet you.”

"You got quite a talent there both with your voice and that instrument. Put me to shame for sure."

Nicolette chuckled, pleased. “You are quite the performer in your own right. And it is always enjoyable to meet another woman willing to make some noise.” Men never seemed to have much of an issue with it, especially after a drink or two, but Nicolette had generally found that women tended to be a little more reserved about it. Generally. “And thank you. I try to keep myself sharp.”

Drinks were pushed into their hands and after a bit of wriggling through some people who were trying to get their attention, she found a seat and settled into it, resting her vielle carefully on the tabletop before returning her attention to Josc. The other woman had a dark gaze that glinted with good humour, and Nicolette raised her glass to her. “So, Josc. Is this a regular occurrence for you? It seems I have been in here at the wrong times, if so.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#7
Nicolette O’Hara.” The smile on her new friend's face was bright and inviting. “Travelling minstrel, and enchanted to meet you.

"A travelling minstrel! That would explain the song suggestion," Josc said playfully, "Ferelden on your route?"

She took a long drink of the ale, as terrible as the drink was, needing a bit of refreshment. While playing to the crowds at the Hanged Man was fun, it was often a bit tiring. She needed something to wet her parched throat. She took the time to compliment Nicolette's playing.

You are quite the performer in your own right. And it is always enjoyable to meet another woman willing to make some noise.” Josc gave another grin, dipping her head at the compliment and giving Nicolette a good once over at the mention of noise. “And thank you. I try to keep myself sharp.

"I've never been afraid of making noise, much better than the alternative in most cases I'd like to think," she said, putting her feet back down on the floor and leaning in a little closer to Nicolette. "I've not seen that instrument much, at least in the few places I've traveled. I was quite taken with how fluidly you moved in dancing while still playing it."

It rested on the table, and Josc turned her eyes to the crowd milling about. These folks weren't too considerate, and a knocking into the table could see it falling. Such a fine thing could get easily damaged, and she'd hate to break someone's face for an accident. She finished off her mug, and another seemed to appear before she had even lifted it in the air. Good service, good times. She'd never want this place to be any different. It would only be better if a few more of her friends were around. Addie especially would have liked the spectacle, she thought.

So, Josc. Is this a regular occurrence for you? It seems I have been in here at the wrong times, if so.” Nicolette asked, after taking a drink of her own.

That made Josc chuckle a little, "Maybe the Maker was trying to keep too much awesome from being in the same place at once."

She gave Nicolette a wink, and then took a breath, "I practically live here when other business doesn't take me away. Though most nights do not find me on the table singing to the crowd. I wouldn't want to give them too much of a good thing."

She swept her arm back over her hair, pulling strands out of her eyes, "You been a regular for a while too then? Maybe we've just been like ships passing in the night, though I'm sure I'd remember a face as beautiful as yours."
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#8
"A travelling minstrel! That would explain the song suggestion." Josc beamed. "Ferelden on your route?"

"It has been, a number of times. I travelled through the country extensively last year, and I found a particularly rich vein of drinking songs to be tapped there. So to speak." Nicolette followed this up by complimenting the other woman on her ability to stir up the crowd.

"I've never been afraid of making noise, much better than the alternative in most cases I'd like to think." Josc leaned forward. "I've not seen that instrument much, at least in the few places I've traveled. I was quite taken with how fluidly you moved in dancing while still playing it."

"My mother began teaching me when I was quite small. It feels quite natural to me to be running around with it - holding in one place when playing lively music seems wrong, my whole body wants to join in." Nicolette's smile turned tender as they both looked at the vielle, and she gently stroked a corner of it. "It is my very favourite thing in my life, apart from my hound."

Thibault was in the crowd somewhere, and had yet to return; he was presumably doing his usual business of snaffling whatever unguarded treats he could find. As long as Nicolette could not see him doing it she did not feel inclined to do and interrupt his fun.

She turned her attention back to Josc, asking if she had been mistiming her visits as they had not overlapped with the other woman's. Josc winked. "Maybe the Maker was trying to keep too much awesome from being in the same place at once." Nicolette returned the wink. She doubted it to be anything other than happenstance, but she was amused by the idea that something had prevented them from encountering each other on purpose, only to be thwarted. "I practically live here when other business doesn't take me away. Though most nights do not find me on the table singing to the crowd. I wouldn't want to give them too much of a good thing."

"I personally always try to encourage excessive amounts of good things, when I can afford to."

Josc swept her hair back from her face. She had an interesting one, by Nicolette's estimation - delicate features framed by a sharp jawline, and striking dark eyes that sparkled with good humour. "You been a regular for a while too then? Maybe we've just been like ships passing in the night, though I'm sure I'd remember a face as beautiful as yours."

Nicolette smiled with pleasure at the compliment. It was not an uncommon one, but nicer to be heard without a pointed leer or an unsubtle glance at her chest. "I only arrived in Kirkwall around - a month ago now, I would say. I have been trying to be a regular in as many different places as I can, so likely we have run past each other once or twice. I am glad I chose here for tonight rather than remaining at my tavern. That was the most fun playing I have had in a while."

Thibault was returning now, and wriggled his way through the crowd to push his head into her side for attention. Nicolette dotingly scratched his head and then he turned to sniff at Josc. "Josc, meet Thibault. Do not let his size alarm you, he is very friendly." Reactions to Thibault, even from Fereldans, could range from the curious to the slightly alarmed. Thibault snuffled Josc's hand and wagged his tail. "He likes you."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#9
Josc peppered Nicolette with conversation, from questions to answers and a few well placed glances. First up was Nicolette's answer to her question about Ferelden, "It has been, a number of times. I travelled through the country extensively last year, and I found a particularly rich vein of drinking songs to be tapped there. So to speak."

That made her feel a wee bit homesick. Well as homesick as she could be for a place that never felt like it fit. There had been some good times while she had been in Ferelden but Josc had felt she had really blossomed once she arrived in Kirkwall. Some hard work, along with a few fuck ups, and she was living a more comfortable life here than she ever had in Ferelden. "You probably know a few I don't then."

"My mother began teaching me when I was quite small. It feels quite natural to me to be running around with it - holding in one place when playing lively music seems wrong, my whole body wants to join in." A softness played across Nicolette's pretty face as she touched the instrument, "It is my very favourite thing in my life, apart from my hound."

Woe be to anyone who thought of damaging or stealing the instrument. Josc saw how precious it was to Nicolette in that moment, and she also knew how easy precious things became targets. But no one seemed to be keen on doing either of those awful things. Her head quirked to the side when she mentioned her hound.

"I have a mabari. His name is Algernon, but h's back at home keeping things safe while I'm out here tonight." She brought him along sometimes, but she felt that mother, Bodahn, and Sandal were safer when she left him behind at night.

She made a grand gesture out of how the Maker must have conspired to keep them away from each other all this time. A flirt and a genuine compliment all rolled into one. She chuckled at Nicolette's comment on the excess of good things, but then offered the woman another compliment on her features while being surprised they had not bumped into one another before.

"I only arrived in Kirkwall around - a month ago now, I would say. I have been trying to be a regular in as many different places as I can, so likely we have run past each other once or twice. I am glad I chose here for tonight rather than remaining at my tavern. That was the most fun playing I have had in a while." Josc beamed at that.

"Glad to be of service. And most delighted that our paths have finally crossed. I'm sure this crowd, along with myself, would be blessed if you decided to make more appearances here," She leaned back just a little, her chair tipping back some with her.

That's when a large hound made its way through the ground and leaned against Nicolette. This must be the pup she had mentioned -- all dogs were pups to her, despite their size -- and Josc smiled as Nicolette gave it the attention it demanded. Once satisfied with the scratch from Nicolette, he turned his attention to her. Josc held her hand out for him to take a whiff of.

"Josc, meet Thibault. Do not let his size alarm you, he is very friendly." her companion said, as her dog rested his muzzle in her hand briefly, his tail beginning to wag. "He likes you."

"It is a very great pleasure to meet you, Thibault." Josc reached up and began scratching his head vigorously like she did with Algernon, "Likely smells my own pup on me too. I think I have some treats on me, if you don't mind me offering him one? He's a very lovely creature. How long have you two been traveling together?"

Her other hand moved to a pocket, where she normally stored treats for Algernon, but waiting for approval before offering.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#10
Josc had a dog too - and not just any dog, but a mabari. Nicolette had spent long enough in Ferelden to be cognizant of the important of the breed to its citizens, as well as their curious intelligence and ability to imprint on particular humans. She was impressed that Josc had one. They were not common outside of Ferelden itself. "His name is Algernon, but he's back at home keeping things safe while I'm out here tonight."

"Ah, a shame. I would have liked to have met him. Perhaps Thibault could have made a new friend."

Thibault had returned and was busy demonstrating that he did not need a dog in order to do that, as he was pushing his head onto Josc's knee and gazing up at her appealingly. Nicolette knew that she was lucky that Eward had chosen such a good-natured breed of guardian. Thibault could cause a lot of damage very quickly when he was enraged and thankfully it took a lot to put him in that state. Nicolette smiled at him fondly.

"It is a very great pleasure to meet you, Thibault." She scratched his head, and Thibault wagged his tail hard enough to swat Nicolette a few times. Being used to it, she simply smiled indulgently and rubbed a hand over his back. "Likely smells my own pup on me too. I think I have some treats on me, if you don't mind me offering him one? He's a very lovely creature." This drew a smile even brighter than the one that had followed Josc's compliments on Nicolette's appearance. "How long have you two been travelling together?"

Nicolette nodded. "Of course! Be prepared to be thoroughly licked, however. He shows his gratitude in ways not everybody enjoys." Although given how slobbery the few mabari Nicolette had seen could be, Josc was likely used to it. "And he is approaching six or seven years old now, I believe. I received him when he was only a couple of months, and a more appealing puppy you have never seen. Well, possibly apart from your own."

There were a few white strands in the hairs surrounding Thibault's eyes and muzzle now, but he was still as spry as he had ever been. While Nicolette knew large dogs lived shorter lives than their smaller counterparts, she had hope that it would be some years yet until she was separated from her loyal companion. "He was given to me by a man who knew my predilection for exploring, and frequently wandering into trouble. He has done a very good job of protecting me."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#11
"Ah, a shame. I would have liked to have met him. Perhaps Thibault could have made a new friend." Josc would have liked the two to meet as well. Algernon didn’t have many non-people friends.

Well, if you tell me when you’ll next be visiting the Hanged Man, I’ll be happy to bring him along so they can meet.” She wouldn’t mind bringing him out again, though she’d have to consider something or someone else to add some security while he wasn’t at home. Maybe she could get Aveline to keep a guard patrol nearby or something.

"Of course! Be prepared to be thoroughly licked, however. He shows his gratitude in ways not everybody enjoys." Josc gave a laugh at that, fully prepared to be on the receiving end of dog slobber. She pulled out a treat, holding it out for Thibault, who took it from her happily, leaving a trail of drool on her fingers. She wiped it on her pants. "And he is approaching six or seven years old now, I believe. I received him when he was only a couple of months, and a more appealing puppy you have never seen. Well, possibly apart from your own."

I didn’t know Algernon as a pup. Not even sure how old he is. We kind of just found each other running from darkspawn,” she mused as she watched the dog eat it’s treat. She turned her words back towards Nicolette’s companion, “He is a handsome fellow, that is for sure. Such a sweet nature.

She scratched behind his ears again, and was greeted with the dog putting its paws in her lap and licking her face, its treat now devoured. Josc laughed, just petting along his neck until he had finished with his gratitude. "He was given to me by a man who knew my predilection for exploring, and frequently wandering into trouble. He has done a very good job of protecting me."

Hardly a creature more loyal than a hound,” She grinned over at Nicolette. “And it was good of your friend to gift him to you. I’m sure you have had many adventures in your travels with Thibault. Any particular tale you’d like to spin about them?

She loved a good story, and while she could tell Nicolette’s primary profession was as a musician, she wondered if she was a spinner of stories as well.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#12
Nicolette nodded happy assent to letting Josc know when she was next around. She had met a few mabaris in Ferelden, but experience had not diminished her enjoyment of the intelligent creatures, and she always liked seeing how they reacted to Thibault. Speaking of, she was eager to take the opportunity to talk some more about her hound, and expound on his cuteness when he had been a puppy. Josc had not shared the experience.

“I didn’t know Algernon as a pup. Not even sure how old he is. We kind of just found each other running from darkspawn.” Josc watched Thibault for a moment. “He is a handsome fellow, that is for sure. Sure a sweet nature.”

Nicolette beamed even more broadly than if the compliment had been directed at her. “He is my brave boy.” She rubbed his haunches as Josc tended to his neck, causing Thibault to wag his tail so hard in joy at all the attention that he swept her face a few times as she was explaining how he protected her.

“Hardly a creature more loyal than a hound. And it was good of your friend to gift him to you. I’m sure you have had many adventures in your travels with Thibault. Any particular tale you’d like to spin about them?”

Oh, she had a few. Nicolette was as content to share stories of her own life as she was complete fiction, although given what she had heard of Josc’s endeavours she imagined most of hers would seem a little tame. None the less, she thought for a moment, and then smiled as she plucked one from her collection.

“I believe I have one that will entertain.”

She started to share the story of the time they had been on the road when Thibault, his attention caught by something off the path, had led her into the woods. His curiosity led them to the edge of a bandit camp, a fact that she had realised shortly before they were discovered, thankfully. Maker knew what would have become of them had they been detected at that point, but she had caught up with him and dragged him to the ground before he could inadvertently draw attention their way.

Not, however, before the bandit’s own camp hounds had caught an unfamiliar scent, and after some huffing and growling had been let loose from their cages to find the source of their disturbance.

There the bandits became hoist on their own petard. The place they had settled was well fortified with traps, tripwries and barrels of grease – plenty to thwart a sizeable attack. What they had not accounted for, first, was that letting some half-starved dogs out of their cages around the same time they had been roasting meat meant that the animals might become distracted from their task. The second was that all it took was one stocky animal knocking over a barrel of grease for the whole thing to become a catastrophe. Men had slipped and slid with windmilling arms left and right, several fell over their tripwires, and one had simple gone straight through a hole in the ground that had been thinly veiled with grass and sticks.

It had bought plenty of time for Nicolette to corral Thibault and slip away, although she had almost given herself away more than once, her astonishment at the spectacle almost giving birth to full laughter. It was one of the most ridiculous things she had ever seen, and she leant all her abilities as a storyteller to conveying it. By the time she finished, she was giggling at her own anecdote.

“It could have ended so much worse, but I was lucky. I tend to be lucky, generally.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#13
I believe I have one that will entertain.” came Nicolette's reply when Josc asked for a tale about her and Thibault.

Nicolette was an excellent storyteller, and Josc moved to the edge of her seat, one arm draped on the table, the other tending to Thibault as long as his attention to her held. The story of course started with Thibault's curiosity, and Josc' eyes widened as the story unfolded.

Of course, as the story continued, the antics of the bandits and their poor decisions had Josc laughing pretty heartily. She found herself wishing she had been there to see the sight. She didn't particularly hate bandits, some went into the profession to feed themselves, but she had faced quite a few awful ones in her time, and she was imagining the faces of a few of them on the men that Nicolette described.

It could have ended so much worse, but I was lucky. I tend to be lucky, generally.” she finished, and Josc took a drink once she had caught her breath.

The smirk on her face as she set down her mug, and draped her arm over the back of her chair was amused, "Well, that is something else we have in common then. Though, luck often tends to flow both ways for me. Something good happens to me? It's usually followed up by something bad to even everything out."

There was something a little sad in her eyes then, "I just recently came into a lot of money, a good business venture with a friend that has so many twists and turns you're not likely to believe all of it. Let's just say I was almost stuck in an ancient dwarven thaig for the rest of my life, and by the time I made it out with my companions, well, my sibling had been given over to the Grey Wardens. Apparently the darkspawn don't really like it when you are in the Deep Roads."

She grumbled a little and took another drink, "But hey, I'm alive, my sibling is off somewhere doing something, and I was able to finally get a home for me and my mother outside of Lowtown. So, things are looking up?"

She gave a soft laugh at that, and shook her head. She hadn't meant to go down a more gloomy path.

"Sounds like you have the better kind of luck though, I hope it keeps rolling well for you," she tipped her mug towards Nicolette's, pinging the rim of it. "Now that I've suitably ruined the mood, maybe we should get the crowd roused again?"
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#14
Maman had frequently told Nicolette she had been born under a lucky star, and while she did not always believe that, she did feel that life had handed her an unusual number of benefits. Not only had she dodged anything physically worse than a slight bruising or the occasional vicious hangover, she got to work in a profession she loved and she was good enough at it that she did not struggle to scrape a living each day. Josc apparently also had luck, although it was unreliable at best, and Nicolette’s mood sombred slightly as she saw sadness touch the other woman’s face.

With good reason. She had recently done quite well for herself, but in return the universe had almost locked her in a thaig and then taken her sibling from her. Nicolette reached across the table and squeezed the other woman’s hand softly, even as Josc laughed off her troubles.

“Sounds like you have the better kind of luck though, I hope it keeps rolling well for you.” She knocked mugs with Nicolette’s. “Now that I’ve suitably ruined the mood, maybe we should get the crowd roused again?”

Nicolette brightened, and downed her drink. “I think we should. And bring back that lovely smile to your face.” She could not really do or say anything that would alleviate the pain Josc had experienced, but if there was one thing she was good at, it was distraction. “Come. How about The Sailing Thief? Whoever had picked that name had obviously been trying to avoid yet another song with the word ‘pirate’ in the title.

This one was more of a Marcher number, and as Nicolette picked up her vielle again and plucked out the opening notes she heard a short rumble of approval.

“There was a bonny sailor girl
With eyes like burning coals
She took me out upon the seas
And then stole all my gold!
She bound me up to the mast
And said ‘let’s play a game,
I’ll set you free and leave you be

If you guess my name…’”

The upshot of the song was that the person who had been captured found that they did not much mind being captured, and in the end the thief was actually the prisoner who stole the pirate’s heart. Which was one way to escape that situation, she supposed, although she hoped to not be trying it soon.
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#15
Nicolette thankfully thought that getting back to entertaining the crowd was a good idea, and she downed her ale after Josc bumped her mug. Josc followed suit, wanting to forget everything she had dredged up in the conversation so far. “I think we should. And bring back that lovely smile to your face. Come. How about The Sailing Thief?

If Josc had been the type to blush at such compliments, she might have then. Instead, her grin broadened at the flattery and the choice of song. "Sounds like a fine choice to me considering half the crowd in here probably fit the title's description."

She set her mug down, standing up on her chair as Nicolette started playing her vielle. She clapped her hands to the starting beat the best she could remember it, and there were already people in the tavern getting interested in what was going on. Rumbles, clapping, and people moving closer. She didn't remember all the lyrics but she chimed in where she did, emphasizing the words on the upbeat.

There was a bonny sailor girl
With eyes like burning coals
She took me out upon the seas
And then stole all my gold!
She bound me up to the mast
And said ‘let’s play a game,
I’ll set you free and leave you be

If you guess my name…’

It wasn't long before the crowd was into it, and Josc jumped down to dance with a few ladies that had come closer, all the while belting along as best she could. It was a good distraction, and soon she forgot her troubles along with those in the crowd who seemed to do the same. Nicolette was a treasure and a talent, and everyone at the Hanged Man was blessed by her presence as she played and sang. Josc just followed her lead for the song after that, helping pump up the crowd. More drinks were ordered, and the whole place felt like it was shaking as people danced and stomped to the beat.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#16
The Hanged Man usually provided Nicolette with a good audience, and no less so today. Most of the patrons recognised the song and thought of the ‘bonny sailor girl’ as aspirational. Nicolette did not even make it to the dais; the crowd flowed around their table and before long there was a steady beat being clapped that she could follow. Her heel thudded against the floor in time, setting the anklet jingling, and there were quite a few pieces of rattling jewellery (or weapons) adding an unusual but not unpleasant metallic element to the song.

She had also succeeded in her task. Josc’s mood seemed to have been alleviated by the song. Had Nicolette known the other woman better she might have tried to talk to her for longer, and help her if she could. But while she had no cure for Josc’s ills, she did have an efficient distraction, and a merry light was dancing in the woman’s brown eyes. Celeste would like her, Nicolette thought, assuming they did not know each other already.

The song came to an end and there was an immediate demand for another. Nicolette decided to go bawdier for this one and let loose with a piece about a woman licking honey while bees buzzed around her. The metaphors were paper-thin but the innuendo went over well with the crowd, who by the end had mostly picked up on the chorus and roared along as the woman happily took her fill.

Technically, it was just a song about a woman’s enjoyment of honey. Anything that anybody else put onto it was their fault.

It was an energetic piece and Nicolette, by the end, was almost shaking with exhaustion, although her eyes shone with exuberance. As she set her vielle on the table another drink was pushed into her hand. Nicolette flopped into the chair and drained half of it at one go. When she looked up again, she was giddy with the unique thrill of performing and slightly drunk. Her smile was a touch loose, but she felt good.

As attention subsided from them, she rested her chin on her hand. “You are a handsome woman, Josc. Is there a person lucky enough to demand your attention?”

Nicolette and Celeste had an unspoken agreement that they could enjoy themselves where the opportunity arose. If Josc was taken, there was the opportunity to hear her wax lyrical about her partner, which was something Nicolette always enjoyed listening to. And if not, there was an opportunity to be had.
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#17
Nicolette transitioned into another song once the first was complete. One laden with beautiful innuendo, that had Josc laughing even as she tried to sing along and keep the beat. The room had a great energy, and while it happened often, this time it felt like something special, lifting her burdens off her shoulders even if it was temporarily. Even the most surly of tavern-goers were affected by the charm of the minstrel and the joy of the crowd.

Once the song ended there were cheers, and more drinks were passed over to them. She had no idea if people were paying for them or putting them on her tab. If it was the latter, she'd happily settle the bill when the night came to a close, but for now, still laughing she plopped back down into her chair and threw a boot up on the table as she kicked back with her mug. The thought that Corff should hire Nicolette drifted through her mind, but she had seemed happy when talking about all her travels.

It was Nicolette that broke through the bubble of thought, speaking once the crowd had mostly went back to their seats and left them to themselves, “You are a handsome woman, Josc. Is there a person lucky enough to demand your attention?

Josc's turned up in a half grin, basking in the compliment, "I'll take all the flattery a beauty like yourself is willing to offer."

That didn't answer her question thought, and Josc took another drink before responding to it, "I'm quite fond of someone at the moment, but I'd call myself the lucky one. Bright and beautiful and so very sweet."

She grinned to herself, looking down in the mug, "As much as I used to carouse, I've lost the taste for it recently. I wish she was here to meet you. I think she would be just as enchanted by your songs as I am."
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#18
“I’ll take all the flattery a beauty like yourself is willing to offer.” Nicolette happily accepted the compliment in return, but she did notice that did not quite sound like a yes. Josc cleared her throat with a drink. “I’m quite fond of someone at the moment, but I’d call myself the lucky one. Bright and beautiful and so very sweet.”

Nicolette beamed. That their acquaintance with each other would get no more physical than it already was would take no skin off her nose. She enjoyed watching people’s faces when they talked about their passions, and a familiar light had bloomed on Josc’s face the moment she brought up the woman who had caught her attention. She sat back in the chair, cupping her drink in both hands, and chuckled softly at the faintly goofy smile that had spread across Josc’s face.

“As much as I used to carouse, I’ve lost the taste for it recently.” Just generally, or because of the woman in question? “I wish she was here to meet you. I think she would be just as enchanted by your songs as I am.”

“I would very much like to meet the woman who has captured your attention.” Even though they had only known each other for the course of a couple of songs and a tale or two, Nicolette got the sense that Josc would do exactly as she desired, and wild horses would not drag her an inch from that path. So it would have to take somebody who was at the very least interesting to keep her attention. “Why not bring her here? I find myself liking the Hanged Man a great deal, and I am likely to be back again before too long. Or I play in the markets and down by the docks quite frequently, so I am not too hard to find, and I never mind pausing between sets to talk to a friend. Perhaps you could introduce us.”

She had decided Josc was a friend, at least for now.
 
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