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The Power of Distraction [Closed]

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
186
#1
[[OOC:29th Haring, early evening, around the Barratt estate in Hightown]] Edwin Thatcher

Preparations had begun the previous night. With the templars set on standby for a Tevinter ship that might or might not be carrying illegal supplies of lyrium, and runners positioned near the docks and the guardhouse ready to report on any movement there, there was no possibility of Barratt Orland being able to sneak his daughter through the city unnoticed. Sorcha and Bailey had been hard at work putting together small smoke and tar grenades, and Nicolette had joined them once worried dreams had driven her early from the bed she’d shared with Celeste. Under different circumstances, she likely would not have moved until late morning, so comfortable she had been; but it felt like the wrong time to be enjoying herself.

She was deeply worried about how this might play out, and she had never tried making grenades before; her hands had been shaking a little as she poured the mixture into the small clay spheres, until Bailey had noticed and distracted her by telling an outrageous series of lies about winning a fight against a shark with his bare fists. Successfully amused, she had managed to get through the process without covering them all in tar or filling the cabin with smoke (she had left the more lethal combinations to the other two, not wanting to blow a hole in the side of Celeste’s freshly mended ship).

She had still been a bit restless throughout the remainder of the day, and had gone out to perform as usual in order to burn off a little of the energy and keep her ear open for any whispers surrounding Addie’s imprisonment or unusual movements at the docks. At one point, a group of templars had gone clanking past her at high speed heading lower into the city, but she had been unable to find out where they were going.

And now it was near dusk, and she had returned to the ship to fetch the clothes that she had picked out for this. She wound her plait into a coil at the back of her head, and donned breeches and tunic so plain that it seemed unlikely anybody would recall any details if they looked at her. After stealing a kiss from Celeste for luck, she had headed in the direction of Hightown without trying to sneak. It was not something she was especially good at. Better to be the distraction.

Once she and the others reached the arranged meeting spot with Edwin, an alley or so away from the estate, she wrapped a scarf around the lower half of her face and pulled her hood up. One of their contacts had procured a cart which they could push into the street to act as a temporary blockage if need be; the back was piled with barrels. Hopefully they were not full of blasting powder.

The shadows lengthened and gradually the entire street was dark. Nicolette waited, hoping her heart was not really as loud as it sounded in her ears.
 
Posts
65
#2
Edwin spent the intervening day getting his affairs in order.

When he stopped to reflect on that turn of phrase, he realized it was a touch more morbid and dramatic than he meant it to be--even for him, the self-proclaimed king of dramatics. It wasn't like he had no intention of coming back from the estate. He'd be damned if he was going to die there after everything they'd put him through, and he didn't intend on taking foolish risks that would jeopardize the actual rescue happening on the inside.

No, the affairs he'd set straight largely centered on all the things he'd managed to get his hands on over the last five years. Records of accounting, bills of sale, shipping manifests--anything and everything that might possibly implicate Barrett Orland. While he supposed this Tevinter slave ship plan was as good as any, he wanted a backup in place. If this move wasn't enough to make charges stick, he would turn over everything he had, including himself, if need be.

So long as his father paid the price, it would be worth it.

His other affairs were trickier to handle. He... avoided was a strong word, but yes. He avoided Aveline that day. He wanted to see her, if for no other reason than to ease the anxious feelings that he couldn't lay to rest. But he knew if he saw her, he'd want to tell her everything. There was no lying about this, and certainly not to her. As Edwin had no desire to implicate her in any of the various crimes they were about to commit, he decided it was best to just stay away.

He'd seek her out afterward, once he knew Addie was safe. And likely spend the entire time wrestling with just how helpless and ineffective he felt in this plan they'd concocted.

As he prepared himself for the night ahead, Edwin tried to push down those resentments. Addie was his sister. The Orlands were his family. He should have been the one to handle all of this. The fact that Josc and Celeste and Nicolette had barged their way into all of it was frustrating in a way he knew was unfair, which made it all the more frustrating.

Even more so when Edwin realized he didn't have much to bring to his assigned role beyond his knowledge of Barrett's guards and his flair for theatrics. He armed himself, of course. If worse came to worst, he wasn't going to rely on someone else to save him. But he had nothing else of consequence. No tools of distraction. No mastery of stealth. No real plan beyond creating a diversion.

It bothered him deeply, but they'd run out of time. So Edwin set his own feelings on the matter aside and headed into Hightown, taking an indirect route to reach their meeting point. He stayed back for a moment, observing. It wasn't that he didn't trust those he was working with--technically--he just didn't know them. Part of him was afraid they'd met in private and had decide to completely block him out of this endeavor on the grounds that he might ruin it all.

He might have done the same in their position, but that didn't make him feel any better.

When one of Celeste's crew spotted him lurking, he conceded the point. Fixing the cavalier grin into place that had served him so well, he made himself known to Nicolette and the others. "Clearly this is why I'm not with the stealthy ones. I see we all have that in common."

Humor was a fine shield, but it did little to calm his nerves. At this point, he was unsure anything would, but he asked his question anyway.

"I haven't spoken to anyone else today. I assume the plan is still the same, and the others are in place?" His gaze flicked to the cart they'd brought, and to the myriad items Celeste's crew were equipped with. "As much as I'd love to create a complete spectacle, we'll have to take care not to draw more attention than is warranted."
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
186
#3
Nicolette had been subject to some quiet teasing from Bailey and Sorcha when she arrived. The story of her attempt to break into the landlord’s house had become something of legend, and it was commonly accepted that when you needed a person to sneak into a place, you put Nicolette out front has the distraction and somebody much quieter as the actual burglar. Her attempt to dress up as somebody being sneaky had amused them both, but the teasing had been good-natured and had ceased altogether after a few moments. Nicolette had welcomed it while it lasted; it distracted her from her nerves.

Edwin was not far behind them; in fact, Sorcha spotted him long before he reached their meeting point, and greeted him with a sarcastic salute. He acknowledged that he had been rumbled with an easy grin. “Clearly this is why I’m not with the stealthy ones. I see we all have that in common.”

“I am trying. Nicolette affected annoyance, but could not maintain it while the others were giggling behind their sleeves. At least they were able to treat this with some irreverence, which helped; she was desperately afraid that Addie might be hurt during the attempt to liberate her. Or Josc. Or Celeste.

She was not so keen on getting hurt herself, either.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone else today. I assume the plan is still the same, and the others are in place?”

Nicolette nodded. “Celeste and Josc are finding their way into the estate as we speak. We just need to divert the guards a little bit in the beginning.”

Edwin caught sight of the cart. “As much as I’d love to create a complete spectacle, we’ll have to take care not to draw more attention than is warranted.”

“Not to worry, kiddo.” Bailey was younger than Edwin, but grinned with the laconic air of a man twice his age. He tapped the barrels. “This is for the final distraction while we’re all running away. We’ve got lots of other toys before that.”

In the distance, there was a hiss. An arrow curved overhead, green paper burning around it, before vanishing. “Which we get to play with now, apparently.”

Nicolette picked up some of the stones from their piles of ammunition. “We need to draw the guards away from the doorways without making them so suspicious that they raise the alarm. Ideally we want to scare them away, draw them away or knock them out before they involve the watch. Ready?”
 
Posts
65
#4
“Celeste and Josc are finding their way into the estate as we speak. We just need to divert the guards a little bit in the beginning," Nicolette confirmed.

Well, the gathered items--and people--certainly would do that. But they needed to take care. If they brought the entirety of Barrett's guards down on their heads, it was going to be a bad time.

“Not to worry, kiddo.” Edwin arched a brow at the man who was quite obviously younger than him. Closer to Addie's age, if he had to guess. But bravado was a tactic he understood well, so he listened. “This is for the final distraction while we’re all running away. We’ve got lots of other toys before that.”

The hiss of an arrow set his nerves even further on edge and Edwin instinctively went to draw one of his blades. His hand stopped on the hilt, noticing the direction and the... green paper burning around it. Maker. He'd be lucky to survive this night without some sort of cardiac event. Perhaps he should have visited Aveline after all.

“We need to draw the guards away from the doorways without making them so suspicious that they raise the alarm," she said, picking up a few stones. "Ideally we want to scare them away, draw them away or knock them out before they involve the watch. Ready?”

"As ready as I'm going to be, I suppose," he said, giving her a firm nod afterward. "I'd recommend starting by the servants' entrance. There are two there, usually the most inexperienced of the bunch." His father hardly cared if anything happened to the servants, after all. "It would be a good way to test this plan and ensure we're not causing too much of a ruckus."

Jerking his head toward the servants' quarters, Edwin led the way. This close to the stables, it was easy to disguise any sounds they made as the stamping of hooves or the snorting of restless horses. Pressing his back against the stable doors, he looked out toward the entrance. Two guards stationed there, as he'd guessed. Young ones, from the looks of them, and two he'd never seen before. That boded well.

"I don't know these two, so they should be easy enough for you and I to draw away without arousing suspicion. One of those rocks, perhaps? A scrape of steel against the door here. They might believe someone is trying to steal the horses. So long as the others are in a position to stop them should they raise the alarm, we should have it well in hand."

He looked to Nicolette and the others for confirmation, having to force himself to do so. It wasn't distrust, exactly. By the very nature of this plan, Edwin was forced to trust all of them. But he'd spent so long working on his own that it felt strange to defer to others--to actively give them pieces of his plans.

"We might consider doing this simultaneously with the other entrances, just so it's done quickly," he said, popping his head out once more before returning to the stable door. "All right. Ready?"

At her signal, Edwin drew one of his blades and scraped it against the wood, timing it with the sound of horses moving about, in case there was a stablehand inside. He nodded to Nicolette, his whole body tense as he waited for the guards to respond. As he suspected, both came to investigate instead of just sending one and calling for backup.

Controlling his breathing, Edwin prepared himself to grab whoever came around the corner. A firm hold and they'd be out, but Nicolette and Celeste's crew would almost certainly have to handle the other before he realized what was happening.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
186
#5
Nicolette was more than happy to follow Edwin’s lead on this. He suggested heading to the servant’s quarters first, around the back of the stables; Nicolette and Bailey followed his lead. Sorcha presumably was still tracking their progress from a nearby rooftop, her trick arrows at the ready. Nicolette sincerely hoped so. She was half afraid the guards might hear her heart beating, it was pounding so hard in her chest. Every instinct she had shrieked at her to run far, far away.

She remained by Edwin, close enough to hear his whisper. "I don't know these two, so they should be easy enough for you and I to draw away without arousing suspicion. One of those rocks, perhaps? A scrape of steel against the door here. They might believe someone is trying to steal the horses. So long as the others are in a position to stop them should they raise the alarm, we should have it well in hand." Nicolette nodded, readying the stones in her hand. "We might consider doing this simultaneously with the other entrances, just so it's done quickly.”

There was little time for it. Nicolette arranged herself in place as Bailey scuttled back to murmur an instruction to another of their companions, and then returned. If they could clear the entrances, it was far less likely anybody would catch Addie escaping, let alone report them. “All right. Ready?”

Nicolette indicated they were, not trusting herself to speak. As Edwin scraped his sword, she threw her stones - not high, but low enough on the ground to suggest that the path was being disturbed by somebody who was trying to stay quiet. If she had thrown directly at their heads, they would know it was an ambush.

The jangling sound of armoured boots came closer, and closer, and Nicolette bit down on her lip, concentrating on not fleeing.

The guards came around the corner in unison, and she acted without thinking, one hand lashing up to send gritty powder into their eyes. As both men clawed at their faces, Bailey grabbed one, and knocked him unconscious, leaving the other to Edwin.

The screeching had drawn attention. Footsteps came towards them, and then an arrow curved out of the darkness, hitting the ground directly in front of the approaching guards. The moment it landed, the vial attached to it exploded, splattering quite a few of the men with the contents. Almost immediately they began to twitch around and scratch, desperately trying to scrape the substance off their skin. As the furious howls increased in volume, a candle was struck in more than one window within the estate.

They were succeeding very well at the distraction side of things. Now they needed to get out in one piece. Nicolette quickly started throwing the gourds from her bag at their feet. A thick, viscous substance oozed out, gluing their feet to the ground. Nicolette could have slipped past them at this point, but they needed to buy Addie every second they could.
 
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