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Where Everybody Knows Your Name [Solo, In Progress]

Bernie

Apostate
Apostate
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Maleficar
Posts
16
#1
((3 Cloudreach, 9:25, early afternoon))

She certainly wasn’t in Antiva anymore.

The breeze that whipped Bernadette’s hair around her face as she stood out of the way of the sailors working to tie the Waverunner up at the Denerim docks held a decided chill, for all that it was nearly summer. The docks themselves looked much like the docks in every city she had been to: warehouses and offices jammed together in an indifferent jumble; stacks of crates and barrels; rows of nets hung to dry alongside great piles of fish being hurriedly sorted and shipped either to market or to be salted or pickled.

Beyond that, she could see the rooftops of thatch, shingle or slate, their angles steeply pitched to prevent the accumulation of snow. In Antiva City, many rooftops were flat, turned into patios where folk could sit to enjoy the afternoon sun, or even sleep outside when late summer heat turned the air indoors into a glutinous blanket. Flat rooftops were easy to navigate, offering better access to the upper floors. These rooftops -

She stopped herself. She would not be needing to navigate rooftops; she was an assassin no longer. What she would be now, she did not yet know. She had the funds to take the time to decide. Most of her family’s fortune had gone to her father’s brother, but Cosima had the presence of mind to grab Gitana’s jewelry and as much gold from Niccolo’s strongbox as she could carry on the night that the Diamante family had been slaughtered, and had held most of it for Bernadette. That and the coin she had made from her contracts with the Crows would make for a comfortable cushion, indeed, but it would not last forever.

As the gangplank was lowered, she approached the captain. “I need to find an inn to stay at; I will send word where my belongings are to be delivered.” The words were politely spoken, but they were an order, not a request. The crew of this ship knew her as an Antivan noblewoman seeking adventure after leaving a philandering husband.

“Sì signora,” the captain replied respectfully, adding with a wink. “Perhaps you will find a dog lord to replace the dog that you left?”

“Perhaps,” she conceded with a faint smile. She’d had any number of dalliances over the years, even a handful that could be termed lovers, but even those had been fleeting associations. The Crows did not encourage affection between their operatives, and when you were both assassin and blood mage, trust was a luxury that you could rarely afford. It mattered little; her heart had died when she had cradled her sisters’ dead bodies in her arms and closed her parents’ sightless eyes before letting Cosima lead her away to begin planning her revenge, and her work for the Crows had only made it colder. The things that had begun to stir it to life had not been romance, but the hope in a magically gifted child’s eyes as they realized that they would not be taken from their parents, the gratitude of an apostate kept hidden from the templars and helped to start a new life in a new place. It had given her a sense of purpose that killing never had.

She had a name of a contact for the Mages’ Collective, given to her by Cosima, along with the location of a dead drop to set up a meeting and a letter of introduction from her mentor. That would wait until she had gotten a better idea of the lay of the land. Information, not daggers or poisons, was an assassin’s most potent weapon, and that habit was one that she would not allow to slip. She would learn what she could of her new home before making any other moves. The first step was finding a place to stay for the first few days, at least.

The wooden slats of the docks beneath her feet gave way to streets that ranged from cobblestones to mud, an she picked her way carefully to avoid soiling her skirts. The folk that walked the streets wore practical, drab clothing, with little of the bright colors that delighted the eyes in Antiva. Fur was used extensively, though not always attractively, and a fur-lined cloak was immediately added to her list of items to obtain. She eyed the Chantry as she passed it; she had not set foot in one since her fifteenth year, but might it not be wise to at least seem devout?

No. She could lie with ease, but that hypocrisy was one that she had no stomach for. The Maker had stood by and allowed her baby sisters to be murdered, had taken sweet little Sofia from her family and put her in the cage that was the Circle, while truly wicked men and women walked free and prospered. She would not even pretend to worship such a god … if indeed one existed at all.

Her gaze slid by a pair of templars, making note of them with no real fear. They were no danger at all unless she used her magic, and she had long since learned to tightly constrain her release of power in most circumstances, making it difficult to detect at a distance. Dogs needed a scent to track; she would give them none.

Speaking of dogs … there were not as many as the tales of the dog lords would lead one to believe. A stray or three skulking the alleys, the occasional mutt lazing in the sun outside a shop and there, one of the famed mabari walking at the heel of a nobleman. The smell must not be wet dog, then … just wet. She regarded the clouds overhead appraisingly; they did not seem to promise rain, but the puddles scattered about suggested that it was not an unusual occurrence; an umbrella was added to her mental list.

The marketplace was more familiar: the stalls with their vendors crying their wares, the scents of the food, the customers milling around. There were no jugglers, true … no fire-eaters or sword-swallowers, but a handful of buskers plied their musical trade, and she dropped coins into the cups of those she passed, her eyes sweeping the stalls, making a note of those she would visit later and those whose product was of a visibly inferior quality.

She came to a stop in front of a large building. Stone on the first floor gave way to whitewashed walls and dark beams on the second, with gabled windows beneath the neatly shingled roof as proof of a third floor. Smoke curled from chimneys at either end of the structure, and a large wooden sign hung over the door:

The Dragon’s Flagon

The words were carved beneath an image of said dragon poised around said flagon filled brimful and foaming with ale. A tavern, then, but the curtained windows on the upper floors suggested an inn, as well. The place looked clean and well maintained. Decision made, Bernadette opened the door and stepped inside.
 
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