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The Cut of Her Jib [Closed]

Posts
61
#1
(( 20 Firstfall, Late morning - Celeste Monroe ))

Were Edwin still a noble, meeting Adelaide’s friends might have involved inviting them to a dinner party, or perhaps a salon in the Orlesian style. Fortunately he was no such thing, and he’d already met a good number of her new friends. Only one eluded him now, though he supposed “eluded” was a very strong word for what was actually occurring.

Celeste Monroe, Captain of the Wicked Grace, was still in port. It gave him a rather straightforward means of tracking her down, though how easy it would be to speak with her, he didn’t know. Rather than approaching her right away, he asked around first. Varric, then Aveline had given him enough information that he felt… decently-equipped.

Just in case, he’d come actually equipped, too, with his leather jerkin fastened over a dark woolen shirt and his dual swords strapped to his back. There was a dagger hidden beneath his sleeve, as well, and while he didn’t intend to use any of his weapons, one could never be too careful.

Especially since the paranoid side of Edwin still wasn’t sure if Celeste’s motives were altruistic. He wanted to believe they were, but it was possible the captain was getting something out of this friendship beyond the joy of knowing his sister.

He approached the docks with caution, though outwardly he looked as carefree as ever. Well, perhaps not carefree, given the blades, but there was certainty to his steps and a tug at his lips.

The description he’d been given of the Wicked Grace was sufficient. He found her docked exactly where he expected, and took a moment to survey the vessel from afar. As much as he’d enjoyed the tales of sailors and pirates he’d read as a boy, Edwin wasn’t sure what he’d think of being surrounded by water for miles on end, with no land in sight.

Probably not highly. Also he was likely going to be one of those poor fools who spent most of his time with his head between his knees, trying to get the roiling of his stomach to not be quite as rough as the seas.

Ah, well. The Wicked Grace wasn’t setting sail, so far as he knew. He could handle the gentle rocking of the waves as they meandered toward the docks. That was if he was even allowed to board in the first place.

Heading out to the edge of the pier, the first crewperson he came upon was not a person at all, but an exceptionally large, exceptionally ugly orange beast that he thought was supposed to be a cat. It walked past him, tail in the air, and leapt to the deck without so much as a moment’s hesitation.

“Well now I’m going to be insulted if I’m not let aboard,” Edwin said, squinting a bit into the sun as he surveyed the actual people up top.

Two men came into view, one rather young-looking one walking the main deck. He wasn’t fooling himself in thinking there weren’t plenty more below decks or within earshot, at least. Good thing he wasn’t looking to pick a fight.

Instead he called to the young man, his tone light. “I have no idea how to greet a sailor. Should I fashion some long-winded metaphor about the sea? Speak only in song? Offer to buy you a drink using as few syllables as possible? What’s appropriate, here?”

That was going to go over well. He probably should have let someone know he was going to do this, so they could fish him out of the sea if they were feeling generous.

“I’m looking for your Captain,” he tried, unsure of what explanation he would even give for his presence. “Is she here?”
 
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Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
201
#2
“I have no idea how to greet a sailor.”

Bailey paused, a coil of rope over one bare shoulder, staring down at the man with a blank expression.

“Should I fashion some long-winded metaphor about the sea? Speak only in song? Offer to buy you a drink using as few syllables as possible? What’s appropriate, here?”

The sailor’s eyebrows lifted visibly at this, and he briefly weighed pissing over the side onto the asshole’s head. Up on the bridge, Dax had taken notice and was moving into position, crossbow lowered but still ready.

“I’m looking for your Captain,” the stranger tried again, evidently bright enough to see that his attempts at humor weren’t going over well. “Is she here?”

Bailey glanced at Dax, who shrugged, then nodded. Dropping the coil of rope to the deck, the sailor sauntered back to the aft’castle and knocked on the door to the captain’s cabin.

“Cap’n? Smartass landlubber wants t’see you, but he don’t know how to ask to come aboard.”

He returned to the deck, picked up the rope and went about his work without giving the stranger another glance, though Dax remained alert. A couple of minutes later, Celeste made her way out, strolling over to the rail and looking curiously at the newcomer.

“The phrase you’re looking for is ‘Permission to come aboard?’” she informed him, her eyes shifting along the docks behind him. He was easy enough on the eyes, and while he was armed, he was alone; she, Dax and Bailey could likely handle him if he got out of line … to say nothing of Brannigan in the infirmary, Stubby in the galley and Torgun in his shop. “And it needs to be nice and loud.”
 
Posts
61
#3
Well, he wasn't dead yet. That had to count for something. He wasn't warmly received yet, either, but Edwin had one of those faces that charmed at a glance, and one of those mouths that immediately undid any good his face had managed. He did have a pesky habit of growing on people, but he had a feeling he couldn't exactly rely on that here. He didn't have months to convince Celeste he wasn't as bad as Sterling, after all, merely a few seconds from the moment he uttered Addie's name.

Part of why he intended to withhold it until absolutely necessary--and, with any luck, until they no longer had an audience.

There was some nonverbal communication going on above deck, and still he found himself very much alive. One of the men left, returning soon after and going about his business as though Edwin wasn't there. The fact that they didn't consider him a threat--despite the fact that he was armed--meant there were more of them on board.

A blonde woman emerged and peered over at him from the railing, her green eyes taking in not only Edwin, but his immediate surroundings. Smart. He could very well have brought backup to this meeting. Of course his backup would have been in the form of Aveline or Josc, and certainly not the type the captain likely expected.

“The phrase you’re looking for is ‘Permission to come aboard?’” she kindly told him. “And it needs to be nice and loud.”

"It's a good thing I had all those lessons in projecting, then." Not exactly the right approach to take when putting his best foot forward, but anything less would have been insincere. Clearing his throat, he spared her the explanation he'd given her crewman and parroted the phrase. "Permission to come aboard, Captain?"

Well that was going to take some getting used to. He called Aveline Captain, because she was one. But so was Celeste. He'd have to rethink his smartarsery a bit.

"I was hoping to speak to you about a mutual contact," he offered, then glanced briefly at her crewmen. "Alone, if at all possible. Happy to disarm, if that helps. It's just a sensitive matter, and while you may trust your crew, I'm afraid I don't have cause to trust anyone but you yet."

And even that was questionable. There was a chance she was playing some kind of long con; toying with his sister to get information or access to something. He wasn't about to speak Addie's name in public, either way. It was too dangerous.
 
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Celeste Monroe

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#4
After a quip about projection lessons, their visitor managed a passable request, and Celeste motioned him up the gangplank.

"I was hoping to speak to you about a mutual contact," he began, his eyes darting from Bailey to Dax. “It's just a sensitive matter, and while you may trust your crew, I'm afraid I don't have cause to trust anyone but you yet."

“Well, that’s suitably mysterious.” Celeste leaned against the railing, looking him up and down. “And I’ll admit, you’ve got me curious.” A faint smile played her lips. “But you don’t have me stupid, and you can say you trust me all you like - which is probably a bad idea, by the way - but I don’t know you.”

She glanced up at Dax. The crossbow was still down, but his attention was very much on them, and Bailey sat cross-legged atop the fo’c’sle, not even bothering to pretend to look at the rope he was running through his fingers.

Decision made, she pushed away from the rail. “Swords on the deck,” she said, pointing to the spot. “Pants, shirt and everything else with them. When you’re down to your smalls, follow me.” She sauntered past him toward her cabin, not bothering to look to see if he was complying. If he tried to follow without stripping down, the first bolt would go into the deck at his feet. Maybe. Julien had been their best archer; fists were Dax’s weapon of choice, but his aim was improving. At worst, he’d hit a leg or a foot, and Brannigan could patch that up easily enough.

Time to find out just how badly this bloke wanted to talk to her.
 

Edwin Thatcher

Theater Major
Posts
61
#5
“Well, that’s suitably mysterious.” Leaning against the railing, she gave him a once-over. Edwin being who he was, he obliged with a full view of his person. “And I’ll admit, you’ve got me curious, but you don’t have me stupid, and you can say you trust me all you like - which is probably a bad idea, by the way - but I don’t know you.”

"To clarify, I don't trust you implicitly," he said, a smirk tugging at his lips. "I trust that you and I have the same goal in exactly one set of circumstances."

Not a compelling case, he knew. And he also knew it was unlikely he would get anywhere with the woman without explicitly stating why he was here and what business he had with Addie.

“Swords on the deck,” she pointed to a spot, and Edwin moved to comply. “Pants, shirt and everything else with them. When you’re down to your smalls, follow me.”

The icy chill of dread raced down his spine as he realized just what that would entail. It was an understandable demand, and one she likely wouldn't see as unreasonable. He was concealing a dagger, after all, and there was no telling what else he might have on him. But Celeste couldn't possibly know just how much he recoiled at the very thought of stripping down in front of an audience. His pulse was already racing, his breathing was becoming far too shallow, and he felt those unwelcome memories tugging at his consciousness all in the span of a few moments.

Forcing his eyes shut and releasing his hands from suddenly balled fists, Edwin tried to be rational. Rationally, he knew the nightmares of his past were of far less importance than the nightmare Addie was still living. He would do anything to get her out of that house, but... it wasn't his rational mind controlling his thoughts right now.

"The shirt stays on," he directed the words to Celeste as she headed toward the cabin, "One of your men can pat me down, and I'll remove everything else--even the smalls, if it pleases you. But there's only one person who's allowed to see what's beneath the shirt, and I'm afraid that person isn't you."

Edwin began undoing his belt, and methodically removed clothing and accessories. Belt and coinpurse, the dagger concealed beneath his sleeve, jerkin, boots, and pants all placed neatly beside his weapons. He stood with his arms apart from his body and awaited further instruction. After a moment, he decided to extend a vague bit of information in the hopes she wouldn't press the issue.

"I can give you something else without completely showing my hand," he said, casting a somewhat dubious glance to the nearest member of her crew. "I'm here to speak to you about a young woman you've visited. A young woman who's... someplace she doesn't wish to be. I was under the impression you could help change that."
 
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Celeste Monroe

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#6
"To clarify, I don't trust you implicitly," Mr. Mysterious told her with a wry twist of his lips. "I trust that you and I have the same goal in exactly one set of circumstances."

Still intriguing, still not enough to get him any one-on-one time sight unseen. Sight seen, however, was an easy solution, so she ordered him to strip and headed back to her cabin, trusting that he would comply and follow if he really wanted to speak with her and wishing Nicolette hadn’t gone out to perform. As surprises went, a good looking naked man might not top the Qunari strap on … or maybe he would.

"The shirt stays on," that wasn’t the protest that she was expecting, and she turned to look back at him quizzically. The look on his face wasn’t one of outrage. Stark dread appeared to be closer to the mark, and his skin had gone a shade or two paler, but he pushed on. "One of your men can pat me down, and I'll remove everything else--even the smalls, if it pleases you. But there's only one person who's allowed to see what's beneath the shirt, and I'm afraid that person isn't you."

She nodded. “Must be quite the sight,” she quipped, signaling to Bailey to come forward. “The smalls can stay on.”

She watched as the clothes and swords came off, along with a concealed dagger that was no surprise. "I can give you something else without completely showing my hand," he said, eyeing Bailey warily as the younger man approached him. "I'm here to speak to you about a young woman you've visited. A young woman who's... someplace she doesn't wish to be. I was under the impression you could help change that."

Celeste raised a hand to halt Bailey, studying the newcomer thoughtfully, the eyes in particular, then snorted. “If you’d said that much up front, you might have kept your pants,” she remarked, waving Bailey back to his work. “Well, no sense wasting a nice view. Come on.” She led the way back to her cabin and gestured to one of the armchairs. “Wine?” she offered. “Or something stronger?” Being required to strip had plainly shaken him well beyond the bounds of simple modesty.
 
Posts
61
#7
Celeste turned to look at him, caught off guard by his insistence of a fairly innocuous piece of clothing remaining on. Maybe a day would come where he could think on those scars without terror and disgust; where he could look at himself without feeling sick to his stomach. But that day wasn’t today, and it wouldn’t be anytime soon, either.

“Must be quite the sight.”

“Oh, it is. I’m sorry you have to miss out.” He tried for his usual bravado but fell short, ending up somewhere on the bitterness spectrum once again.

She told him he could keep his smalls, and sent one of her men to do as he’d offered. Edwin held his arms out, though every muscle in his body suddenly tensed. There was a chance her man would try to wrest his shirt from him anyway. Edwin wasn’t going to allow that without a fight.

But in the interest of encouraging some kind of trust, he offered up a little morsel of information.

“If you’d said that much up front, you might have kept your pants,” she said, waving off the man who’d approached to pat him down. “Well, no sense wasting a nice view. Come on.”

He followed her to her cabin and sat in the chair she gestured to, wondering if she’d already figured out who he was. Had Addie told her he was alive? It seemed a risky thing to confess, even to friends. But Celeste’s gaze had lingered on his eyes. Maybe she’d noticed the resemblance. Then again, maybe she’d just been trying to judge his intentions.

"Wine? Or something stronger?”

His heart was still hammering away, he realized, and though his impulse was to accept the wine, he asked for something stronger. “I don’t suppose you have any whiskey?”

Edwin didn’t often indulge in spirits. He’d seen enough soldiers become dependent on the bottle. But for this, he would make an exception.

As his pulse finally slowed, he looked around the cabin. It wasn’t a life he would ever choose for himself. The room was too small; it made him feel more claustrophobic than he wanted to admit. But it was clearly a space that was well-loved and lived in.

There was no one else about, though, and he supposed it was time to lay his cards on the table. “I understand you’ve been teaching my sister how to pick locks,” he said casually. “Soon Sterling’s going to be the only one not involved in some criminal element. Though I suppose I have ledgers that suggest otherwise.”

He wore a wry smile, not a trace of hostility in his voice. The Orlands had long engaged in unsavory dealings. Addie being taught a few practical tricks to surmount the obstacles before her could only be a good thing. And he imagined that no matter what Celeste taught her, she’d never resort to the things Edwin himself had done. Certainly not for the same reasons.

“I hope you know what you’ve gotten yourself into. My father may be inept at functioning even remotely close to a loving parent, but he’s very good at ruining lives.”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#8
“I’m sorry you have to miss out.” The intended insouciance of the statement was marred by the lines of tension pulling his rakish features into a dark countenance. He relaxed somewhat when she called off the pat-down, but retained the poised wariness of an alley cat as he followed her to her cabin, sinking into the armchair.

“I don’t suppose you have any whiskey?” he asked when she offered a drink.

“Whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila,” she replied with a shrug. Her hand hovered briefly over one bottle before shifting to pull out the good stuff: Daniel’s favored brand. She poured some into two crystal tumblers, handing one to her guest and settling into the second chair. “You’re Addie’s brother.” Not a question. The family resemblance was there if you knew to look for it, both to Addie and Sterling, though without the arrogant bearing of the latter.

“I understand you’ve been teaching my sister how to pick locks,” he remarked. “Soon Sterling’s going to be the only one not involved in some criminal element. Though I suppose I have ledgers that suggest otherwise.”

Celeste arched an eyebrow at that, but didn’t pursue. Rich assholes breaking the law was hardly a rare occurrence. “Picking locks doesn’t make her a criminal,” she observed. “It just means she’s got more options when your father decides to lock her in.” When, not if. Everything Celeste had learned about Barrett Orland indicated that once he realized that his daughter was not as subservient as she pretended to be, he would take steps to bring her to heel.

“I hope you know what you’ve gotten yourself into,” he warned her somberly. “My father may be inept at functioning even remotely close to a loving parent, but he’s very good at ruining lives.”

Celeste snorted. “He’s a two-bit thug with a title and family money,” she countered, the words laced with contempt. “He thinks those two things can get him anything he wants, and he has all the imagination of a brick wall. I can handle him.” She took a sip of the whiskey. “I suppose formal introductions are in order: Celeste Monroe, captain of the Wicked Grace.”
 
Posts
61
#9
“Picking locks doesn’t make her a criminal,” the captain pointed out. “It just means she’s got more options when your father decides to lock her in.”

That was true enough. Edwin’s lips twitched into the barest of smiles, and he dipped his head just enough to show his agreement. He knew all too well the line between necessity and criminality. He’d flirted with it to the point where he might as well be married to the damned thing.

Rather than confess the extent of his own criminal experience while sitting trouser-less in Celeste’s cabin, he instead focused on the other smart thing she’d said. Barrett would confine her, as soon as he got wind of the fact that she wished to fly beyond his reach.

The battle to ensure she was able to come out of this with wings spread and undamaged would be fraught with difficulty, and he didn’t make light of that fact.

“He’s a two-bit thug with a title and family money.” There was venom in her words, and perhaps a familiarity. Not with his father, but men like him. “He thinks those two things can get him anything he wants, and he has all the imagination of a brick wall. I can handle him.” She sipped her whiskey and Edwin was reminded of his own, lifting the glass to his lips. “I suppose formal introductions are in order: Celeste Monroe, captain of the Wicked Grace.”

“Edwin Thatcher,” he said, extending a hand over the table. “Small time ne’er-do-well and general pain in the arse, formally known as Rupert Edwin Orland, or as my father called me ‘a disappointment in every way.’”

The smile he wore was genuine, if more than a little wry. “And with all due respect, I lived with Barrett Orland for eighteen years. His business dealings and overall temperament may paint him a common thug--I won’t dispute that. But I’m living proof of his imagination and the irreversible damage it can do.”

He held her gaze for a moment before taking a drink to calm that sudden urge to flee. His father might not have been the one holding that knife, but he was still responsible. For all of it. If Celeste wished to put herself in danger on Addie’s behalf, he would be grateful for it, but he refused to let his sister suffer any more than she already had.

“I didn’t come here to discuss the specific shade of my father’s black heart,” he said, a bit of venom seeping into his own voice. “My sister counts you a friend, and she’s had few enough of those. You seem genuinely concerned for her well-being, which means regardless of anything else, our goals are aligned.”

With the caveat that Edwin’s goal involved vengeance. Or had involved vengeance. These past few months made him uncertain what he wanted out of all of this, beyond Addie’s safety.

“I need to get her out of there, before he does to her what he did to me--or worse.” It’d been hard to imagine a ‘worse’ once. Now he certainly could. “I came to ask for your help.”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#10
“Edwin Thatcher,” her guest introduced himself in turn, sipping at the whiskey she’d served him and offering her his free hand across the desk. “Small time ne’er-do-well and general pain in the arse, formally known as Rupert Edwin Orland, or as my father called me ‘a disappointment in every way.’”

She grinned at him. That sounded familiar. “Welcome to the club!” she announced, giving his hand a firm shake before making herself comfortable in her own chair. Fortunately, Reginald had been nothing worse than a prig. Barrett Orland was a more malevolent kind of asshole, but no less predictable in his own way, so far as she was concerned.

Unsurprisingly, Edwin didn’t agree. “And with all due respect, I lived with Barrett Orland for eighteen years,” he told her. “His business dealings and overall temperament may paint him a common thug--I won’t dispute that. But I’m living proof of his imagination and the irreversible damage it can do.”

Celeste nodded. She wasn’t going to argue that point with him. The man quite plainly loomed large in his memory, and the bone-deep fear in his eyes made it clear that being sent to bed without supper was not anywhere close to the worst of what he remembered. Sent off to war and left for dead; it wasn’t hard to guess now why he didn’t want to take off his shirt. Souvenirs of such adventures were generally unpleasant.

He took deep swallow of whiskey, a whole theater company's worth of emotions playing across his features. “I didn’t come here to discuss the specific shade of my father’s black heart,” he went on, a hard edge of hate touching his voice. “My sister counts you a friend, and she’s had few enough of those. You seem genuinely concerned for her well-being, which means regardless of anything else, our goals are aligned. I need to get her out of there, before he does to her what he did to me--or worse.” That was the fear … for Addie, not himself. “I came to ask for your help.”

“You’ve got it,” she replied without hesitation, “but there’s a caveat: I’ve got a ship and crew to look out for, and at the moment, I’m short two masts, which means that I can’t run if things go to shit. I’ll work with you on any plan you’ve got, but I’m not putting my people at risk until I’ve got a way to get them out of trouble, unless she is in immediate danger. Once we’re under sail again, I can give both of you transport away from here, if that’s what you want.” She took a drink of whiskey and set the glass on the desk. “Because I know this much about your father: he won’t accept losing. You can get her away from him, but he’ll keep trying to get her back as long as he’s drawing breath.” She regarded him steadily. “But you know that, don’t you?” Underneath the fear in those blue eyes was a hunger that she’d seen before. She’d never hated anyone badly enough to want them dead no matter the cost, and she had seldom seen a good ending for those who did. She wouldn’t lose any sleep over helping to kill Barrett Orland and his bastard of a second son, but she wasn’t signing up for a suicide mission. “Which is more important,” she wanted to know, “saving your sister or killing your father?” If he was willing to sacrifice Addie for the sake of his vengeance … fuck it, she’d grab Josc and spring the girl herself.
 

Edwin Thatcher

Theater Major
Posts
61
#11
Edwin had come to the Wicked Grace expecting to make some kind of deal. Whether he was indebted in coin or favors owed, he didn't imagine he'd make it out of this negotiation unscathed. Celeste might like Addie, but in his experience, no one did anything for free.

Her answer was given without hesitation, though, and without an immediate angle that Edwin could see.

“You’ve got it, but there’s a caveat:" There always was. "I’ve got a ship and crew to look out for, and at the moment, I’m short two masts, which means that I can’t run if things go to shit. I’ll work with you on any plan you’ve got, but I’m not putting my people at risk until I’ve got a way to get them out of trouble, unless she is in immediate danger."

"That's fair," Edwin responded, lifting two fingers from his glass.

"Once we’re under sail again, I can give both of you transport away from here, if that’s what you want.” The neutral expression he'd been wearing faltered a bit. He would have jumped at the chance a month or two ago. But he'd told Aveline he was in this for the long haul, and he intended to keep that promise. “Because I know this much about your father: he won’t accept losing. You can get her away from him, but he’ll keep trying to get her back as long as he’s drawing breath.” He certainly would. Edwin's countenance darkened, his fingers curling back around the glass. “But you know that, don’t you?”

He didn't answer immediately, but he also didn't look away from her. Pain was a curious thing. It had blackened a part of him, creating a depth into which he'd once cast all hopes of a better future. So long as Barrett Orland one day joined him in the bottom of that pit, nothing else mattered.

Things had changed, though. Not just because of Varric or Josc or Aveline, but because he'd knew his family hadn't gotten to Addie. So long as he drew breath, they never would.

“Which is more important, saving your sister or killing your father?” Celeste asked, looking him straight in the eyes.

"It was always my plan to get Addie out of there," he told her. "I didn't know what kind of person I'd find when I returned to Kirkwall, so I planned on the things I could control." At this point, he might as well admit the truth. "I was afraid they'd changed her; changed who she was at her core. But I should have had more faith in her."

He lifted the glass to his lips once more, then addressed the lingering question. "I'd like to see my father suffer. I'd like to see him brought so low he can't possibly see a way out." Perhaps then he'd feel a fraction of what Edwin had felt. "If I can do both, I will. But if it's a choice between him and Addie, there's no contest."

Draining his glass, Edwin felt the burn of the whiskey in the back of his throat. He honestly didn't know how he'd fare in a world where Barrett was allowed to continue hurting others, but the alternative was worse. And even if he couldn't achieve both ends immediately, more and more people were beginning to learn of the Orlands' dealings. He might not have faith in the system, but he had faith in a few of the people who upheld it.

"I might be able to help with your mast problem. I have a bit of coin, and, well." The corner of his mouth quirked upward as he reached into his purse and pulled out a counterfeit that was--at this point--nigh indistinguishable from the real thing. "I have the ability to get more, along with any signatures or bills of sale you might require."
 

Celeste Monroe

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201
#12
Edwin sipped at his whiskey and listened as Celeste laid out her terms, none of which were negotiable as far as he was concerned. She would make her own decisions as to what and how many risks that she took with her ship and crew. He didn’t immediately accept or decline her offer of passage away from Kirkwall, but his expression made it clear that he had reached the same conclusions regarding his father’s unwillingness to simply let his wayward children walk away. She couldn’t blame him for the hate that simmered beneath that handsomely brooding face; Addie had told her what her brother had suffered at the hands of Barrett’s proxies. But she wasn’t involving herself in a mission of revenge until Addie was safe and her ship was ready to get them away from here.

"It was always my plan to get Addie out of there," he responded when she asked him flat out about where his priorities lay. "I didn't know what kind of person I'd find when I returned to Kirkwall, so I planned on the things I could control. I was afraid they'd changed her; changed who she was at her core. But I should have had more faith in her."

“She’s a rarity,” Celeste agreed. Not many could have withstood the pressures of living in that house without either retreating into bovine obedience or letting the self-centered cruelty that saturated the atmosphere seep into her pores and infect her. Addie had managed to stay afloat so far through a mix of passive resistance and careful acts of secret rebellion, but if Barrett ever caught on, he would lock her down and suffocate her spirit under relentless pressure.

Celeste was damned if she would let that happen. And she was damned if she would let someone else’s agenda get in her way.

Fortunately, that didn't look as though it would be a problem. "I'd like to see my father suffer. I'd like to see him brought so low he can't possibly see a way out,” he continued candidly. "If I can do both, I will. But if it's a choice between him and Addie, there's no contest." He tossed back the rest of his whiskey, and Celeste slid the bottle across the desk, leaving the choice of a refill to him.

“We can deal with your father,” she assured him, “and we’re likely going to have to, unless you and Addie leave Kirkwall or take up residence in Darktown. We just have to get your sister out first.” And shortly after, every Red Jenny in Kirkwall would be advised that it was open season on Chateau d’Orland and its occupants. And a good time would be had by all, except Barrett, Sterling and anyone far enough up their asses to remain in their service once things started going

"I might be able to help with your mast problem,” he told her. “I have a bit of coin, and, well." He slipped a hand into his purse and passed her a sovereign, a faintly smug smirk touching his lips. "I have the ability to get more, along with any signatures or bills of sale you might require."

“Well now.” She pursed her lips as she turned the coin, testing its look and weight. He had reason to look smug; the metallurgy was precise, the weight almost perfect. Only someone familiar with counterfeit coins, and actively looking, would catch it. “Coin’s not really the problem; the damn storms have damaged so many ships that they ran out of masts locally and had to have them shipped from Antiva. They should be here any day now.” The irony of her masts coming from the very place she wanted to be was not lost on her. “But if this is a sample of your work, I might well have some business prospects for you once we’ve got your sister clear and made your father wish he’d never been born.” She rolled the fake coin across her knuckles, made it vanish. “And your brother.” Had Addie told him of Sterling’s misadventure? “That apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”
 
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