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Walking A-Boat [Closed]

Joscelyn Hawke

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#1
(( Harvestmere 19, Afternoon, @Merrill ))

A walk along the Wounded Coast. It was a good idea right? I mean she hadn’t had many jobs outside the city lately, and she wanted to make sure Merrill wasn’t feeling too cramped up in her home in the Alienage. Though Merrill always seemed to be in high spirits about her living arrangements, Josc had always wanted to help in some way that didn’t seem like she was pitying. Because she certainly wasn’t doing that. Merrill might have seemed flighty at times, but she was a grown woman, and she could take care of herself. Mostly.

So today was more about spending a day with her friend, and giving Algernon a bit of exercise. She had brought a leather ball to toss now and again so he could go chase it, which right now he was doing. So in the span of time he would roll around in the sand with it before returning, she turned to Merrill.

I think he likes getting dirty more than he likes playing with the ball.” She grinned, catching a glance of the large mabari acting like a puppy. “I know this isn’t the most exciting thing we could do, but I needed out of the city for a while. That and we haven’t gotten to spend much time together at all lately. How are you doing, Merrill?

She avoided the topic of the mirror because she still wasn’t wholly sure how she felt about the thing. Merrill’s keen interest in fixing it was respectable, and while Josc didn’t think anything ill of the elven woman, blood magic still chilled her even when she used it to help her. At any rate, keeping those topics closed off for now would make for better conversation anyway.

Any adventures in the city I haven’t heard about yet?” Algernon returned with the ball, and dropped it at their feet. She picked it up and held it out to Merrill. “Wanna give it a toss?
 

Merrill

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#2
Merrill hadn't slept. For the last day and through the night, she'd worked with a quiet intensity, subtly tugging and pull at the Fade around the eluvian. Small searchings for somewhere, anywhere that would lead to progress. There'd been voices, of course. There we always voices; some she knew and some fresh ones. The elf dismissed them, beavering away in her home until, to her absolutely shock, Hawke entered. It didn't take more than a few words for Merrill to leave her home then; Hawke had a way of encouraging her to action.

So here they were now, walking the Coasts. Merrill felt the soft wind blowing through her hair and let the sand sift through her toes as she walked with her friend. It was exactly the respite she needed and, privately, the elf marveled at how Hawke had arrived exactly when she was needed. It helped that Algernon was here too. The mabari flopped and darted about as Hawke tossed his ball. The dog sometimes had a stink to him and very often barked just a little too loudly for Merrill's liking but he also had a good heart and she'd taken a liking to the way he would often lay down over her feet when her tagged along for visits to her home.

“I think he likes getting dirty more than he likes playing with the ball," Hawke noted with a smile. How many people had she charmed with that smile? How many times, in their misadventures, had she managed to turn things around with a few words and a wink?

"I keep worrying that he'll crash into the sand and get stuck," Merrill offered with concern. "He leaps rather high, doesn't he?"

“I know this isn’t the most exciting thing we could do, but I needed out of the city for a while," Hawke said. Merrill was about to say that it was perfectly fine but her friend continued before she could say anything. "That and we haven’t gotten to spend much time together at all lately. How are you doing, Merrill?

"This is good, I think. Much better than fighting demons and such," she noted happily. Life in Kirkwall was quiet in many ways but that was never really the case with Hawke around. Here, all they had to worry about was the tides. "I'm fine, I think."

“Any adventures in the city I haven’t heard about yet?” Well, there was one in particular. If you could really call it an adventure.

"I don't want you to be mad but I ended up in the Blooming Rose. Don't worry; everyone was nice and Varric eventually got me home and I know that you told me I shouldn't got there but they gave me soup and it would have been very rude toooo... and I'm babbling."

She cleared her throat a bit, looking down embarrassedly. Algernon came back with the ball, which Hawke offered to her. “Wanna give it a toss?”

Merrill nodded in response, grabbing the ball and rearing back her arm dramatically. Algernon barked in anticipation and the elf released her grip on the ball, which went perhaps two feet before plopping into the sand with a dull and anti-climactic thud.

"Maybe it's best that you throw the ball," Merrill said. "For all we know, my next toss could bonk off a tree and into the water and Algernon would be all soggy by the end of it."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#3
"I keep worrying that he'll crash into the sand and get stuck," She seemed genuinely concerned, so Josc kept her amusement in check. "He leaps rather high, doesn't he?"

He does, but he has yet to get stuck. I think he’s strong enough to get himself out of such a predicament if it happens.” The sand of the shores was tight packed, and she doubted no matter how high Algernon leapt he would not find himself stuck.

"This is good, I think. Much better than fighting demons and such," That this simple thing seemed to please her, please Josc. She’d much rather see her friends relaxed and enjoying themselves than in dire straights. "I'm fine, I think."

Perhaps we can find a way to help you feel more confident about being fine?” Her grin was a bit mischievous, but she had no ideas as of yet what could bring Merrill to a more assured state of fine. She could only imagine she got a bit lonely in that empty home of hers after living with so many around her when she was with her clan. Her curiosity if Merrill had been occupying herself with more than her mirror did get the best of her though.

"I don't want you to be mad but I ended up in the Blooming Rose. Don't worry; everyone was nice and Varric eventually got me home and I know that you told me I shouldn't got there but they gave me soup and it would have been very rude toooo... aaand I'm babbling."

Josc did give a laugh at that, but it was good natured and she rested her hand on Merrill’s shoulder, “Merrill, even if you had ended up there intentionally I would not think ill of you. The Rose has some fine food, and the employees aren’t all bad. I just worry they might try to press you into working there without me to tell them to bugger off. We need to figure out a way for you to find your heading in the city though, it seems that twine Varric gave you isn’t working as well as it could.

She paused a moment, then canted her head to the side, “And I don’t mind your babbling one bit. Babble all you like.

She offered the ball to her then, in case she wanted to play with Algernon as well. The ball did not make it far from Merrill, and Josc bit her lip. Algernon didn’t seem to care that it hadn’t went far, and he ran circles around it before picking it up and depositing it at Merrill’s feet.

"Maybe it's best that you throw the ball," Merrill sounded worried. "For all we know, my next toss could bonk off a tree and into the water and Algernon would be all soggy by the end of it."

He loves getting wet, and he’ll have time to dry on the way home. I won’t force you to, but he seemed happy enough with your toss.
 

Merrill

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#4
Merrill took a breath. She was always so nervous around other people but Hawke even more so. It sometimes felt like her friends lived the most exciting lives. Writer, adventurer, pirate, minstrel. The elf knew many people and every single one of them were up to such exciting things. Merrill didn't do much of anything interesting; she just spent all of her time inside, working on the eluvian. Hawke fought monsters and saved people's lives. Was it any wonder that the elf was anxious?

When she exhaled, Merill tried to focus on the world around her. The wind and the sad. Hawke and Algernon. If she didn't think about anything outside the moment, it wasn't so bad. Discounting the possibility of Algernon flopping into the sand and getting wedged. Hawke didn't seem to worry about that.

“...he has yet to get stuck," she noted. Merrill nodded. True, Algernon had been fine so far. "I think he’s strong enough to get himself out of such a predicament if it happens.”

"He doesn't even have a shovel," Merill noted. No one had a shovel with them at the moment and that was quite concerning. Still, she tried to maintain a brave face, telling Hawke that everything was fine.

Her friend gave a grin. “Perhaps we can find a way to help you feel more confident about being fine?” It was a question Merrill lacked an answer to, particularly given Hawke's tone. Was she thinking about something dangerous? Merrill didn't ask but spoke up to confess to Hawke that, yes, she had left home but accidentally ended up at the Blooming Rose and she was really very sorry. Hawke laughed and placed a hand on her shoulder. Merrill inhaled.

“Merrill, even if you had ended up there intentionally I would not think ill of you," Hawke said. That was not the response she'd expected. "The Rose has some fine food, and the employees aren’t all bad. I just worry they might try to press you into working there without me to tell them to bugger off. We need to figure out a way for you to find your heading in the city though, it seems that twine Varric gave you isn’t working as well as it could.”

"I don't know what you think they'd asked me to work," Merrill said seriously. "I can't cook soup and I very bad at dusting."

“And I don’t mind your babbling one bit. Babble all you like.”

Merrill smiled. "That's good," she said happily before continuing:

"Sometimes I think I talk too much and I worry that people are looking at my toes and then I get nervous which means I wander and that leaves me in all sorts of places. Varric's twine helps but only to get me back where I was and never where I think I'm going. The other day, a man in Darktown rolled it up before I could get back. His name was Anders and he had these very strange bit of feathers on his shoulders that reminded me of a griffon. If I could have anything in the world, it would be a baby griffon!"

She's not intended to babble again but it was good to relax and just talk. Merrill found it a great relief, having grown accustom to long periods alone. There was no one around to talk to when she was at home except for the spirits and demons but she knew better to say much anything to them. No, much better to spend time with Hawke and Algernon. Although when the time came to throw his ball, Merrill's toss did not go far. It was yet another worry. What if she tossed the ball right into the ocean?

“He loves getting wet, and he’ll have time to dry on the way home," Hawke noted. "I won’t force you to, but he seemed happy enough with your toss.”

That was enough encouragement for Merrill to pick up the ball and toss it once more. It was not a good toss by any means but it did travel a bit farther and she watch happily as Algernon sped after it. This was nice.

Turning to her friend, she smiled softly. "Hawke," the elf began seriously. "You're a good friend."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#5
When Merrill mentioned Algernon not having a shovel, so straight-faced and honest, Josc could not hold back the small giggle. She knew it was a well-intentioned question, and she hoped her friend would not be offended by her finding humor in it.

The discussion turned to the Blooming Rose, and Merrill’s answer made Josc’ face pinch just a little, "I don't know what you think they'd asked me to work. I can't cook soup and I very bad at dusting."

You do know what the primary business there is, don’t you?” She thought Merrill had been keen enough to realize, but maybe not. Not that Merrill was that naive, but she seemed to get lost in her head and her thoughts more often than not and that made her less observant of the things going on around her. At least, that’s the way Josc saw it, and explained how often Merrill got lost in Kirkwall after all this time.

Merrill was also worried about her babbling, which Josc reassured her she didn’t mind one bit.

"That's good," she loved it when Merrill smiled, especially when it appeared so genuine, "Sometimes I think I talk too much and I worry that people are looking at my toes and then I get nervous which means I wander and that leaves me in all sorts of places. Varric's twine helps but only to get me back where I was and never where I think I'm going. The other day, a man in Darktown rolled it up before I could get back. His name was Anders and he had these very strange bit of feathers on his shoulders that reminded me of a griffon. If I could have anything in the world, it would be a baby griffon!"

Josc chuckled a little, “You’ve met Anders then! I hope he was able to help you home. He’s a good man, though at times, intense.”

She stopped a moment to consider the rest of what she said. Did she know Anders was once -- well she guessed still, technically -- a Grey Warden? “If I ever find a baby griffon, you’ll be the first person I come find to share it with.

She encouraged Merrill to throw the ball again, and her mabari was enthused to have someone other than Josc to play with. As he went after the ball again, Merrill turned to her smiling, "Hawke. You're a good friend."

She was never good at taking these kinds of compliments, but she put her arm around Merrill’s shoulders and gave her a half hug. “You are too, you know. You’re part of my family now, so you’re stuck with me. I hope that’s alright with you.

Algernon came running back, dropping the ball once more. This time Josc bent down, scratching his ears, before standing to throw it once more. It went further than she intended, bouncing off some stones and into an area out of sight.

Bugger,” she muttered as she watched Algernon leap after it. Normally, she’d let him go on by himself, but sometimes there were dangerous things about along the coast. She’d hate for him to get hurt.

Come on, let’s go make sure he’s okay.” She waved her hand for Merrill to follow and trotted after the dog.
 

Merrill

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#6
Merrill was relieved that her friend was not upset that she'd ended up at the Blooming Rose. However, much like Varric, she expressed worry that Merrill would somehow be forced into doing work at the establishment. The concept seemed very silly to the elf, as she didn't have any particular qualifications or domestic skills that would make her a very good employee. When she told Hawke as much, her friend asked a question somewhat bemusedly.

“You do know what the primary business there is, don’t you?”

"Varric told me," she said with a nod, ambling along the sandy path with her arm held comfortably behind her back. "I didn't know a place like that existed. There's nothing like that in a clan but the people there seemed happy so I suppose it's a good job.."

The elf blinked. "Oh. Oh, you were saying.. Well, that.." A paused as she thought it over. "Everyone there was very handsome so they wouldn't want me, I think, and I'd have no clue what to do."

Merrill did not elaborate further. In her mind, the suggestion that anyone might approach her for such things seemed outlandish and the elf let me mind wander to different matters lest she die of embarrassment. She opted to tell Hawke of her recent trip into Darktown and how Anders had made the mistake of rolling up her ball of twine.

Hawke chuckled. “You’ve met Anders then! I hope he was able to help you home. He’s a good man, though at times, intense.”

"He seems nice," Merrill assessed. "A bit anxious, like there's a monster around the corner that only he can see. But he was kind and helped me get home and I do like his feathers."

“If I ever find a baby griffon, you’ll be the first person I come find to share it with.”

It brought a wide smile to Merrill's face, thinking of the surprising day when her friend brought a baby griffon to her doorstep. Some time ago, she would have dismissed the idea as fantasy but Hawke had a way of making fantastical things happen, as did Varric and the others. Life in Kirkwall was not without difficulties but her friends brought a color and excitement that Merrill never would have found with her clan. She wanted to say so much but settled for letting her friend know she was appreciated.

"You’re part of my family now, so you’re stuck with me," Hawke said. Merrill did not know if it was possible to beam any more than she was. "I hope that’s alright with you.”

"It is," the elf managed to say before taking a breath. "I'm glad you wandered into our camp when you did."

At this, Algernon came bounding back and dropped his ball at Hawke's feet. She glady took it up and tossed it once more. It sailed far and bounced off some rocks before tumbling away. Merrill gave a small gasp as Algernon rushed after it.

“Come on, let’s go make sure he’s okay.” Hawke was already on her way. Merrill picked up her pace, stumbling a bit over some sand before finding her footing and pressing onward.

"What if there are pirates?" Merrill asked with genuine concern. "Not nice pirates like Isabela but bad ones who are burying their gold? Oh, I was worried something like this would happen. There's always bandits or pirates or Templars, isn't there?"
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#7
Merrill had admitted to knowing what the business at the Blooming Rose was, but it hadn’t dawned on her what Josc had been talking about until she reminded her of it. Josc let it go when it seemed her friend was a bit embarrassed by it, especially since she said she wouldn’t know what to do.

Some people might find that sad, and Josc had certainly been less sensitive in her past with trying to push boundaries with less adventurous people than her. So, she let the conversation turn, and they talked about Anders and Griffons all while playing fetch with Algernon.

Josc wanted to make sure Merrill knew where she stood with her, and she didn’t think she had ever seen her smile so big, "It is. I'm glad you wandered into our camp when you did."

Providence was something she used to say was bullshit. But everything that had happened since the Blight had been one crazy and suspicious ride. Either Josc had incredible luck in finding work and friends, or fate had some part to play. She didn’t want to dwell too long on that, and instead she gave Merrill a crooked grin, “It was just meant to be, I think.

Algernon ran off after his ball then, but it bounced out of sight and along with it went her pup. Though she was sure he could mostly take care of himself, she was still worried. All sorts of traps could be out here, or people doing dealings they didn’t want found out.

She chased after, beckoning Merrill to follow. She stumbled a bit and Josc stopped long enough to make sure she was okay.

"What if there are pirates?" Josc chuckled at the question. "Not nice pirates like Isabela but bad ones who are burying their gold? Oh, I was worried something like this would happen. There's always bandits or pirates or Templars, isn't there?"

Usually, and we’ll deal with them if that’s the case right?” Josc continued and rounded the rock where Algernon had disappeared.

It seemed she was right to hurry, as Algernon had cornered an older man who was standing near some crates. He wasn’t the kind of old man you’d feel sorry for those. He was brandishing a sword at her dog, looking quite hail in his old age, trying to keep him away from three crates near the shoreline. She looked at Merrill and said quietly, “Just follow my lead, okay?

Off with ye, beast.” the man hissed at Algernon. Josc noticed his ball had rolled between two of the crates and she stopped a few paces behind her pup.

Let him get his ball, and we’ll be on our way.” She wouldn’t pull a weapon unless he made a move to hurt Algernon. “We’re just walking the coast.

I don’t give a piss what yer doin’. Get that mutt and go before I gut the lot of you,” He made a threatening step forward and Algernon’s hackles rose.

Josc stood there a moment working out the situation. Algernon was ready to attack the man for holding a sword to him alone. There was no telling what was in those crates, but she wasn’t out here to be a petty thief. So she pressed one more time, trying to end this little stand off peaceably, “Now you don’t have to be rude. Just let him get the ball, and we’ll be gone.
 

Merrill

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#8
“It was just meant to be, I think.”

Once more, Merrill wished to say many different things that she did not put a voice to. Her waning time with her clan had been marked by conflict and suspicion unlike anything she could have imagined. That she and Keeper Marethari would have so much difficulty seemed impossible but once the eluvian was in their lives it became inevitable. Merrill had lost dear friends and would not dishonor their memory by abandoning the relic to dust and ruin. That dedication of purpose had lead to a gross alienation among her people. Perhaps Hawke arrival and her own departure was meant to be. If so, Merrill could not be happier with her fate.

For now that fate meant wandering in the sand and enjoying the sound of the churning sea. Kirkwall was a such a busy place, full of people hustling and bustling about. There was so much noise that any trip out of the city was a treat. When Algernon bounded out of sight, Merrill worried but took assurance in Hawke's company and ran after him. When she saw the mabari and a strange man, her heart took a leap. Strangers were always a complicated matter for an elf, doubly so for a mage. As the approached, Merrill saw the sword in the man's hand.

“Just follow my lead, okay?” Hawke's voice gave Merrill a renewed strength. They walked closer and she casts a concerned glance at Algernon. The mabari did not seem pleased. It took a moment before the elf saw his ball near the stranger's supplies.

“Off with ye, beast," the man scolded.

“Let him get his ball, and we’ll be on our way.” Hawke was ever the hero, not shying away for a instance. “We’re just walking the coast.”

"Not trying to be a bother," Merrill added apologetically.

“I don’t give a piss what yer doin’. Get that mutt and go before I gut the lot of you,” the man countered. Merrill did not know how serious he was but she didn't want to test it. Still, if she could get a bit closer she might be able to retrieve Algernon's ball and have them be on their way.

“Now you don’t have to be rude," Hawke said in that laid back way she often used to diffuse situations. Merrill knew the tone well. "Just let him get the ball, and we’ll be gone.”

Merrill, perhaps foolishly, moved a bit closer in hopes of grabbing the ball. The man moved his blade swiftly and pointed it directly at her. His eyes were full of a suspicion that she knew well and the elf braced herself for his comments. She knew what was coming.

"Take one more step 'an I'll mark that dirty face of yer, knife ears!" By now, the elf had heard the insult enough times that it meant next to nothing. Still, she looked over towards Hawke, unsure of what to do and worried that her friend's protective instinct would lead to more trouble than they planned.
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#9
Josc could see Merrill moving in her periphery. The intent was clear, to retrieve the ball, and then they could all just part ways. Josc had tried to keep the man distracted with reason, despite his unreasonable attitude. Unfortunately, he was not easily distracted. He turned in a way so both she and Merrill were in view, drawing his blade and pointing it at her companion. "Take one more step 'an I'll mark that dirty face of yer, knife ears!"

Josc' hands were hovering above her own blades at this point. Blades that probably cost more than the items in those boxes the man was protecting. However, it wasn't Josc who made the first violent move. Algernon, leaping from where he had been poised to pounce, crashed into the man's torso and knocked him back into the crates with his full weight. The man's dagger went flying from his hand, the crate he landed on cracked, and a puff of blue dust rose into the air.

"Geroff me you damned beast," he howled as every time he scrambled to try and pull his second dagger Algernon was there to snap at his arm. The man seemed wise enough not complete his movements, despite his unwise continued attempts at getting the the knife.

"Algernon, pin." Josc said calmly, pulling both her blades from their sheath. Her Dragonebone sword shimmered as she pointed it down at the man. "If you so much as twitch, I'll have him rip your throat out."

She turned to Merrill then, "You can get the ball now. Though, I don't think we'll be leaving without taking a look into these crates now. Did you see that cloud? Looked like lyrium to me. What do you think?"

The man started shouting, mostly unintelligible, but he did not move other than his mouth. Algernon growled down at him, issuing a very visible threat with his teeth, which shut him up right quick.
 

Merrill

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#10
Merrill was just about to insist that the man possibly consider maybe putting down his blade when a whirlwind of action. The elf gave a squeal of fear as Algernon lurched forward and slammed the man into his crates, sending a strange smattering of dust into the air that tickled at the elf's nose and made a strange taste come to her mouth. She ran towards Hawke, stumbling on the sand ever so slightly and taking a place at her friend's side. It did not matter that she'd hurled rocks at monsters or drained the life out of bandits. In the here and now, all Merrill wanted was to get away from whatever was happening and closer to her friend. Her eyes darted around for a moment as the action settled, the man now pinned by Algernon. The dog slobbered a bit, drippings of saliva plopping against the man's face. If she didn't know any better, she'd have thought he was doing it on purpose.

Realizing that she'd made just as much of a scene as anything else, Merrill dusted some sand off herself and stood up a bit taller as Hawke spoke.

"You can get the ball now," her friend said. Merrill nodded, gingerly stepping over to pick up the ball where it had fallen. She took a moment to smile at Algernon, who woofed appreciatively before staring daggers at the man again. She thought that might be enough but Hawke seemed most curious about the man's crates.

"Did you see that cloud? Looked like lyrium to me. What do you think?"

"I thought it looked a bit like a bunny rabbit," she said before realizing what her friend meant. "Oh, you meant what the cloud was made of. That didn't just look like lyrium, Hawke, I think it is."

Walking over towards the crates, a lingering powder hung on on the air that seemed to charge her blood at the mere smell. The elf mage, trained well but ill-prepared for the potency of the dust gave a few sniffles before letting out a surprisingly powerful sneeze. Instinctively reaching out at the Veil, a foolish action befitting a child more than someone taught under a Dalish Keeper, Merrill solidified a small stone which hurdled towards the box and cracked it open. The man gave a shout before Algernon's slobbering quieted him. A newfound dusting filled the air and Merrill sneeze once more. She felt a spiking in her blood that she did best to ignore, voices calling out in her mind.

The elf looked at her friend. "We shouldn't be here," she said carefully, pointing at the strange man. "He's not very nice and someone's going to come looking for this." She walked over to the man, looking over to Hawke. "Do we knock him out?"

"Oi! Doncha dare, ya knife eared bilge scatter! Yer a mage, I done saw it!"

Oh, oops. Merrill must had caught some of the lyrium on the wind again because she gave a dramatic sneeze that did little to mask the dramatic and sudden slam of stone into the side of the man's head. He gave a yelp before going slack; Merrill was no daring adventurer like her friend but she knew her magic well enough to avoid. Of course, not a bit of this was intention. Not at all.

The elf blinked before looking at Hawke, looking something like the cat that got in the cream. "So.. um, I think it's my turn to toss the ball?"
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#11
When Algernon took his leap towards the man, Merrill let out a surprised noise before skittering to Josc' side. She felt bad that it had shocked her friend, but was glad she was safe from this vile man. Algernon was playing up his part, but even so, if the man tried anything, her loyal pup would make sure whatever hand he tried with would be unusable for some time.

She directed Merrill to grab the ball, and was curious about the dust she had seen swirl from the crates. Asking Merrill's opinion on the matter, she took a few more steps towards the man making sure he wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

"I thought it looked a bit like a bunny rabbit," Josc grinned at that, not at all bothered that Merrill's mind had went to the shape instead of the contents. "Oh, you meant what the cloud was made of. That didn't just look like lyrium, Hawke, I think it is."

She watched as Merrill moved over to the broken crate. After a moment Merrill sneezed, and manifested a stone that further cracked the crate in questions. More dust filled the air, and Merrill sneezed again. Though this time no magic was used. Their friend on the ground tried to yell at her, but Algernon shut him up quick enough with a growl and some more drooling.

"We shouldn't be here. He's not very nice and someone's going to come looking for this." Merrill got closer to their prisoner. "Do we knock him out?"

Josc had a choice here, report the obviously smuggled goods to Aveline, take them for herself, which could give her magically inclined friends a good stash when they needed, or sell it. No way in hell was she going to let whoever was moving it keep it. Before she could fully form her decision, the man started yelling again. Merrill, obviously tired of the man's wailing conjured another stone that knocked the man unconscious.

Thank the Maker for that, she was getting tired of his empty threats. Merrill looked pleased with herself, which made Josc chuckle under her breath. Algernon moved from the man, but was obviously still wary about him. "So.. um, I think it's my turn to toss the ball?"

Josc laughed a little louder at that, "Go ahead, I'm going to take a closer look into this crate."

She turned to look inside the busted crate, noting the lead lining along the inside of the wood. The sack that was holding the dust however bore a very familiar mark. The mark of the Gallows in Kirkwall. Who was stupid enough to steal shipments of lyrium from the templars?

She pulled out a scrap of paper and a piece of charcoal, and pressed it to the top of one of the unbroken crates. Once she was done she looked over at Merrill. "If you want any of it, I'd grab some now. I'll fill a pouch myself, but we shouldn't take too much."

It would be a gift for Anders too. Would help him keep the healing going when he was drained. She whistled for Algernon to come over, and she slipped the paper into his collar. "Get that to Bodahn, okay boy? Straight home, and straight back."

He barked, and took off. She pulled a couple of pouches off her belt, fitting one inside the other to protect against holes. "Gonna have Bodahn bring the guards and a cart to carry this. I have a feeling our unconscious friend here is going to spend quite a bit of time in the Kirkwall jail."

She found a concave stone nearby, and used it to put the dust into the double pouch she had made, being careful to not get any on her skin. The raw stuff made you go mad, but she knew the dust wasn't too good for a non magic user either. Still, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

"We'll stay here and guard it until they get here, in case any of his friends show up." She sat on the edge of an upbroken crate, once she had finished filling her pouch and putting it away.
 

Merrill

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#12
Merrill, ever unsure of what to do in situations involving unconscious ne'er-do-wells, shifting her feet in the sand before deciding that Algernon had waited long enough for another toss of his ball. The elf took it, reared back, and threw it no mater than two feet. Algernon didn't seem to mind, barking with amusement before running to chew the ball. Content with the outcome, Merrill looked back to Hawke as she began to copy the symbol on the crates.

"If you want any of it, I'd grab some now," she noted. Merrill hesitated. "I'll fill a pouch myself, but we shouldn't take too much."

"I don't want to get into trouble," Merrill said before looking at the broken crate for a moment. "But perhaps it would be worse to let it go to waste." The shuffled over to the crate and began to gather what she could. Anything that could help her maintain her spells longer and focus on the eluvian.

Hawke whistled and Algernon darted over. She took the paper she'd pressed and wedged it into the mabari's collar. "Get that to Bodahn, okay boy? Straight home, and straight back."

"And please tell Sandal I say hello," Merrill added. That boy was strange but kind, in his own way. Algernon gave a bark before running off, which Merrill to as confirmation that he would somehow relay the message.

Hawke finished gathering what she needed and sat up on the edge of a crate in that sly way that only she did. "We'll stay here and guard it until they get here, in case any of his friends show up."

Merrill walked close but not too close, stopping to turn and look out towards the sea. The crashing waves were almost enough to make her forget Kirkwall, Templars, and the eluvian. Maybe that's why Isabela loved it so much, having that chance to forget your worries and focus on whatever you liked. Merrill never knew that feeling, not really. She'd always been at the mercy of expectations be it her own or other people's.

"So I suppose we just sit now, you and me," the elf said awkwardly.

"That's good I suppose because I wasn't sure if that man was some sort of pirate or maybe a dangerous mage because even though I don't think mages are that dangerous, since I'm one, I do know they can be. I wonder why he had all of that lyrium and not food or boxes of something comfortable like blankets. I need to find myself a new one, you know, now that the cold is coming but that's nothing I can really afford seeing as I don't make money. I asked Aveline if I could be an adventurer and she thinks maybe I could. You're an adventurer and do very well, after all, but that's also because you're very brave and..."

She finally paused. How long had she been jabbering on? The elf looked around, feeling a bit flush and embarrassed at her verbal display. "Sorry," she said. "I think I'm nervous. Okay, well I know I'm nervous and I shouldn't be nervous but I am nervous so I can't stop talking.."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#13
"I don't want to get into trouble," Josc could understand Merrill's caution, but anything missing could be attributed to the thieves and the altercation they had with the guard they had left behind. The man was still out cold, and she hoped he would continue to be when the time the guards arrived to take him to jail. "But perhaps it would be worse to let it go to waste."

Josc chuckled as Merrill started getting her own stash of the illicit lyrium, and she sent off Algernon with her message to Bodahn, and Merrill's voiced hello to his son. After finishing gathering her own portion of the lyrium and storing it away, she sat on a crate and indicated they'd be guarding this treasure until it could be packed up and carted off.

"So I suppose we just sit now, you and me," Merrill said after a moment of looking out at the waters.

Her words didn't stop there, though, "That's good I suppose because I wasn't sure if that man was some sort of pirate or maybe a dangerous mage because even though I don't think mages are that dangerous, since I'm one, I do know they can be. I wonder why he had all of that lyrium and not food or boxes of something comfortable like blankets. I need to find myself a new one, you know, now that the cold is coming but that's nothing I can really afford seeing as I don't make money. I asked Aveline if I could be an adventurer and she thinks maybe I could. You're an adventurer and do very well, after all, but that's also because you're very brave and..."

Josc was grinning by the mid point of Merrill's word vomit. It was always interesting to see how things in her mind connected, and Josc didn't interrupt her, knowing that even though there was a pause she still had more to say.

"Sorry," That diminished Josc's grin a little. "I think I'm nervous. Okay, well I know I'm nervous and I shouldn't be nervous but I am nervous so I can't stop talking.."

"Don't be sorry, Merrill. You never have to be sorry around me, okay?" Josc leaned over, squeezing the elf's shoulder. "As for the boxes, probably some low ranking gang thinking too big for their britches. Otherwise they would have posted more than one guard."

Her head canted to one side, her dark hair spilling as she regarded her friend, "And you are already an adventurer, Merrill. You've helped me a lot. Hell, you helped me today."

Her grin widened again, and she dropped both her hands in the space between her knees, "I'm sure I'll get a reward of some sort for all this, and I don't really need to money. I can offer it to you if you'd like. Could probably buy a whole pile of blankets with it, and other things if you want."

The man faintly stirred, and Josc tensed. Once she was sure he wasn't actually waking up, she let out a long slow breath. She went back to Merrill's words again, "You know if you ever need money, I'm happy to help where I can. And I'm sure I can find something you can help me do if you'd rather earn it."
 

Merrill

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#14
If there was one thing Merrill wished for, it was the ability to shut up when she needed to. This felt like one of the those moments. It would be perfectly fine to sit in comfortable silence with her friend, letting the wind and water punctuate with occasional crashes or whirls. But Merrill didn't know how to shut up, not really. So she talked and talked and talked some more. She didn't even know what she was saying and it all came rushing out faster and faster Talk of pirates and mages, rambles about smuggled blankets and adventuring. And, of course, the compliments that she tended to lavish Hawke with at any given moment. The latter was much to her own dismay. They were kind words but hinted at deeper thoughts and feelings that the elf simply did not know how to express.

So she forced herself to stop and apologize. After all, no one wanted to listen to her rambling when they could listen to the wind. But Hawke, ever capable and knowing the right thing to say in a way that Merril could never, didn't seem to mind. "Don't be sorry, Merrill. You never have to be sorry around me, okay?" She gave Merrill's shoulder a squeeze that only made the elf more tense. "As for the boxes, probably some low ranking gang thinking too big for their britches. Otherwise they would have posted more than one guard."

Merrill nodded, unable to speak to the first part but musing on the second. "I wish people didn't have to do such things in Kirkwall," she said genuinely. "Stealing and fighting and calling people nasty names. I'm glad I'm here because I have good friends, but Kirkwall itself can be very sad, I think."

She didn't dwell too much on the thought. "And you are already an adventurer, Merrill. You've helped me a lot. Hell, you helped me today." Merrill shrugged uncharacteristically. Maybe she had helped but she wasn't sure that made her an adventurer. Adventurers got paid. "I'm sure I'll get a reward of some sort for all this, and I don't really need to money. I can offer it to you if you'd like. Could probably buy a whole pile of blankets with it, and other things if you want."

The elf waved her hands in a slightly panicked showing. "Oh, no," she replied. "I wouldn't ever do that. Algernon needs dog food and your mother should have nice things. I'm fine, Hawke. Really."

"You know if you ever need money, I'm happy to help where I can. And I'm sure I can find something you can help me do if you'd rather earn it."

Merrill smiled. "I am learning to play music," she said. "Maybe there's coin in that. And I think it would make people happy too."

She left it at that, finding it within herself to sit and speak less for the moment. It was unsurprising that their stroll had turned into something more dramatic—Hawke had an almost supernatural power of attracting excitement—but the danger having passed, it only made the respite all the sweeter. Merrill gazed towards the ocean, kicking her feet in the sand and enjoying the feeling. She relished time outside of Kirkwall's bustling streets, when things felt much closer to how they were when she was with her clan. It was all the better that her dearest friend was there as well, and it was enough that they remain still now that Merrill had dispensed with her excess words. And yet, the privacy of the moment dawned on her, giving rise to idle thoughts and hopes that eventually stirred her to speak once more.

"Hawke," she managed to say after a moment. "I want to ask you something, if that's alright.."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#15
I wish people didn't have to do such things in Kirkwall," Merrill said. "Stealing and fighting and calling people nasty names. I'm glad I'm here because I have good friends, but Kirkwall itself can be very sad, I think."

It can,” came Josc’s automatic response. She had seen her fair share of sadness in Kirkwall. It was strange to think that maybe her luck was changing, but she knew not to think too much on it. Didn’t want to jinx her good fortune. “It’d be nice if things were good for everyone, but the world as a whole doesn’t seem to work that way.

She tried to move the conversation back to positive, hoping that the brief down moment didn’t ruin the bit of fun they’d had so far -- and yes, Josc considered getting the jump on a jerk a good time.

"Oh, no," Merrill said, ever deflecting her help. "I wouldn't ever do that. Algernon needs dog food and your mother should have nice things. I'm fine, Hawke. Really."

It wouldn’t take away from what I get for them, Merrill. I have plenty to spare,” She said, not trying to push too much harder lest Merrill think she was too overbearing.

"I am learning to play music," Merrill shifted the subject but not too far from what they had been discussing. "Maybe there's coin in that. And I think it would make people happy too."

That was news to her, and Josc smiled brightly, “Oh, an instrument? Or are you singing? Is someone teaching you?

She swung her legs back and forth, heels softly bumping the crate she was sitting on. Algernon was likely within city limits now, and as long as no one tried to stop him he’d be a good boy and do as asked. Just another blessing in the line of blessings she had.

There was a quiet between them for a long moment, and it was nice. Merrill’s eyes were on the sea, and Josc took in the feel of the salty breeze that kicked up just a little then.

It was Merrill who broke the silence after that, "Hawke, I want to ask you something, if that's alright.."

Josc looked back in her direction, giving her a grin, “Of course it is. What’s on your mind?
 

Merrill

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#16
"It’d be nice if things were good for everyone, but the world as a whole doesn’t seem to work that way.”

Merrill was caught between a frown and a smile. On the one hand, it was sad that Kirkwall could be so hard and indifferent towards so many people. There was something very strange about the ways in which good people worked hard and still found themselves disappointed. From the charitable merchant who found themselves robbed to the lovers who somehow lost their way, the world was hard and certainly not fair. But Merrill didn't hold to that. Instead, she felt a warmth wrap around her at how much her friend seemed to care about those people. They way she championed those who truly needed the help. Hawke was inspiring, and Merrill always felt better around her.

"It doesn't work like that, no,"
the elf admitted. "Which is why it's so important to help people and to have friends. I don't know if I would have lasted in Kirkwall without you and Varric and Isabela and everyone else. I want to help people too." Her newfound instrument lessons were a part of that. Hawke seemed rather curious about the whole thing.

“Oh, an instrument? Or are you singing? Is someone teaching you?” Her friend's interest brought a fresh smile to Merrill's face.

"I have a teacher," she explained. "A very kind minstrel with an enormous dog. I think he might even be bigger than Algernon. She's teaching me the flute." She did not mention how her first attempts to draw music from her instrument mostly lead to hollow warblings. She would learn in due time.

Instead, she'd dared to give in to the comfort of the moment. The churning sea, the blowing winds. Hawke was right beside her and she felt such ease. If moments could be bottled up and kept forever, this was the one Merrill would keep. Calm companionship building a confidence and comfort unlike anything she knew possible. And it had spurred her to talk.

Hawke looked back at her with that look that always made it seem like whoever she was talking with was the most important person in the world.

"What’s on your mind?"

And Merrill froze. Of course she did, there was no other thing she could have done. She stood there, eyed wide and ready to fly away at the next gush of wind. For a moment, her mouth began to form the words before stopping. It was hard to say how long she stood there but it was more than enough. Finally, she looked away.

"It's nothing," she managed. "Don't mind me."
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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"It doesn't work like that, no," Merrill agreed solemnly. "Which is why it's so important to help people and to have friends. I don't know if I would have lasted in Kirkwall without you and Varric and Isabela and everyone else. I want to help people too."

Josc had some reservations when she first met Merrill. That whole blood magic things had made her wary, but the elf had proved herself to be a contradiction to the stereotypical blood mage. A good friend, with a good heart. Josc couldn’t ask for more than that. And the fact she wanted to help people in her own way was a good thing.

The instrument may be part of that and she was very curious about it. Merrill answered her questions easily, "I have a teacher. A very kind minstrel with an enormous dog. I think he might even be bigger than Algernon. She's teaching me the flute."

Josc pulled a knee up to her chest, resting the side of her face on it as she smiled, “Bigger than Algernon? Are you sure it wasn’t a horse and not a dog?

She tried to sort through people she had met in Kirkwall but couldn’t place anyone that fit a description like that. At least not a face or a name, “A flute sounds lovely. You’ll have to play for me someday.

When Merrill said she wanted to ask her something, it had sounded very serious. So of course Josc agreed. But it seemed whatever it was, Merrill was uncertain about it. "It's nothing. Don't mind me."

Josc’ brows furrowed some, and she dropped her leg back to swinging right alongside the other one as she straightened up. “Merrill, no it’s not nothing. Come on, you know you can talk to me about anything.

She at least hope she did. There were things friends often kept from one another. Josc of course had a few secrets of her own, but nothing that she couldn’t shoulder on her own. If Merrill had wanted to ask her something, then it was obviously something she had intended to talk about.

She dropped off her crate and walked over to her friend, “Everything alright?
 

Merrill

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#18
Merrill hoped that Hawke would let everything slide. As she talked about Thibault or mentioned flute lessons, her friend offered wonderful encouragements that she held onto. Of course she wanted to play the flute for her, but only if it could be perfect. Merrill winced at the idea of a half-toned and ill-tempo'd serenade. If that was, in fact, the type of playing she wished to do. She hadn't really thought that far ahead. Merrill was many things, but she had never been much of a planner.

That fact was currently causing her nothing but grief, as she watched Hawke's face scrunch in disappointment as she tried to wave off the moment. Be it friendly instinct or something else, Hawke pressed. It was admirable. In fact, one of the things Merrill admired most about her friend was how much she insisted on making herself available to others. It would have exhausted a normal person, but not Hawke.

“Merrill, no it’s not nothing," she half-chided. Merrill remained frozen like a halla in a clearing, heart pounding in her pointed ears. This was not what she wanted. "Come on, you know you can talk to me about anything.”

The elf looked at her friend. It was true. She knew that Hawke would always listen and never judge. There was no need to hide or run away from that kind of trust. Maybe she could do this. And really, given how everyone else seemed to know it wasn't as if Hawke was oblivious, right?

Hawke hopped off her crate and walked over. Merrill felt like she would explode. “Everything alright?”

Merrill stared at her friend for what must have been a full minute. If she didn't know better, she would have turned to run away. Instead, she took a breath and started to speak in what was likely the world's shakiest voice. "Josc.. I, well, what I'm... You're so nice and.. thought maybe you'd.. Well, not if you don't want to but I thought maybe.. Because I really like..."

Oh Creators, she couldn't do this. "I really like..." What? Something, anything other than you. "Apples! I really like apples... Don't you?"
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#19
She was worried then. Merrill usually rambled and spilled everything out, even things unrelated to the matter at hand. WHen she clammed up, refused to speak, it was a sign of something that was bothering her. Had something happened that Josc had missed?

Hoping to reassure her friend more, she moved over closer to her. Merrill just stared at her for a while when she asked her if she was okay, and Josc felt the worry creep through her. When Merrill finally found her voice, it was shaky, unsure, "Josc.. I, well, what I'm... You're so nice and.. thought maybe you'd.. Well, not if you don't want to but I thought maybe.. Because I really like..."

Josc’ mind began trying to decipher the stumbled words, even as Merrill continued.

"I really like..." Josc nodded in an attempt to encourage her, "Apples! I really like apples... Don't you?"

Josc’ brows knit as she looked at the elf. There was no way she had been verbally constipated over apples. It was a distraction, and not one of her unintentional moments of rambling. Josc crossed her arms, though her expression softened. “I do, but I don’t believe that was what you were trying to say. Merrill…

Josc sighed just a little, taking a few steps back to give the elf some space. Was she trying to confess something. She started putting the words together in her mind again when the possibility of what she meant dawned on her. She bit her lower lip, “Merrill, are you trying to tell me that you like me?

Better make sure it was clear before she had to let her down. Part of her hoped she hadn’t meant that, and maybe she liked someone else in their circle of friends. Or even some strange poetry or book that she was afraid that Josc might rib her for. She was fond of Merrill, but she was more fond of someone else.
 

Merrill

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#20
Merrill hoped that the matter was settled and that she could sit quietly with her friend, enjoying the sea breeze and relative privacy. She wasn't necessarily expecting Hawke to believe that she'd been only asking about apples but she hoped that her friend would not push the matter further. Speaking up was a mistake already, no matter what encouragements she might have gotten recently from Varric and Isabela, and the elf was more than ready to leave the moment behind them. Hawke wasn't.

"I do, but I don’t believe that was what you were trying to say. Merrill…"

It was just about that moment that Merrill decided that this was a nightmare. Like those dreams where you accidentally show up to the Hanged Man naked. Her heart seized in her chest and she only half looked at Hawke, unsure of what would follow but dreading whatever it might be. Because Hawke was smart, and she undoubtedly knew what her friend had been trying to say. Hawke sighed, and Merrill knew that she knew. “Merrill, are you trying to tell me that you like me?”

Her face could not have been more red if she'd shown up to the Arlathvenn naked, nor could it be more difficult to breath if she was trapped in a box at the bottom of the sea. Merrill looked away from her friend and did not speak—how could she? Instead, she looked for something, anything that would allow her to remove herself from the situation. Her options were limited, and her solution equally as flimsy as her previous attempt.

"My! Look at those clouds!" She pointed out above the waters where a billowing swirl of white started to seize control of the horizon. "Those are perfect cloud for... uh, blood magic!" Merrill looked at her friend apologetically, but did not make eye contact. "I really should be going. I have to summon a demon.."

Pushing away from the box she was seated on, she turned to leave and immediately stumbled over the unconscious man who she'd previously knocked out. She tumbled to the ground, getting covered with sand but she popped up and still began walking away. "Sorry, sorry," she said to her friend. "I really... I should just.... go.."
 
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