Isabela Explains it All

Sate your curiosity. You know you want to.

October 20, 2014 6:00 am

askerquestioner

Anonymous: Has anyone interested you long enough while muncing on a sandwich to think of marriage again

I’ll be honest, my duckling - I hadn’t really given much thought to marriage in the first place. The first time I ever even thought about being married was the day that I was told by my mother that I’d no longer be returning home, but be spending the rest of my days with the man who would be my husband. 

Let me tell you, there were no pleasant daydreams of being a beautiful bride. I never got to plan my my wedding ceremony, or think about how my gown would look, or what sort of vows and words of love I’d like to say, or any of a hundred other things empty-headed little girls like to think about. For me, it was a formality so that Luis could take home his pretty little toy, peel off the wrapping, and break it in. I remember every sensation of what it felt like to be torn into - the stink of the liquor on his breath, the feeling of his callused fingers on my skin, the creaking sounds of the wooden bed frame, even the contrast of soreness of waking the morning after with the silken sheets of the bed that I had never felt before. To me, the very thought of marriage is a painful memory, an empty sham, and a cruel joke. 

As time passed and moss has had the opportunity to grow on Luis’s grave, I’ve mellowed out a bit on the idea of marriage. It’s something that I see others have and been happy with, and I’m glad for them… but it just isn’t for me. It’s sort of like when you’re eating supper and you’re served something that you just can’t stand… liver and onions, perhaps, or some kind of sweetbread dish. You don’t really feel disgusted if others enjoy it, and you can’t realistically condemn others for enjoying it, but you simply wouldn’t consider eating it yourself. That’s how I feel about marriage, my darling.

October 19, 2014 6:00 am

askerquestioner

Anonymous: Isabella you are probably one of the most fun people in Thedas, you like to drink and party so i was wondering have you ever organized a bachelor party ? if you haven't could you organize mine? I bet it would be wild !

Who do you think organized Aveline’s party before her nuptials? Despite her more vocal protests, I insisted that it was her duty, nay, her responsibility to have one, in the storied and fantastic tradition of such. It was only after I swore an oath of celibacy should things get out of hand that she would agree to it. I do have a way with words when I need them, after all.

Hawke took care of the food… when she has adequate preparations, she makes the most amazing victuals. Mouth-watering delights, the sort of which are flavorful like you wouldn’t believe. And she went the extra league with her cooking as well - the cake for the wedding was at least seven layers, each with a different flavor and texture. I tasked Varric with procuring the libations after giving him a list of Aveline’s favorite vintages. I knew she had a taste for quality Tevinter wines, but I also knew that I needed to get her good and hammered, so I also put in an order for a few liqueurs that I thought she would like - complex, oaky, nutty liqueurs from Antiva and Rivain, things I knew she’d be interested in trying.

As for me, I took care of the entertainment. It took me a bit to find the perfect one, but I hired a dancer who went by the moniker “Ruggedly Handsome Rob”. He had a nice smile, some delightful belly muscles, and an ass you could bounce coppers off of. I’d seen him before, but I chose him as the evening’s entertainment for one special purpose, which I’ll get to soon.

Things started off well - Aveline enjoyed the food and piled into the drink quite healthily. We were all having a wonderful time, telling jokes, toasting her good fortune and her future, sharing embarrassing stories of her, and so on. Then Rob came into the room accompanied by several musicians playing soft music, and he began to dance for her. He was very good - his gyrations and flourishes were distinctly Antivan in origin, and he knew what his audience liked. He swung his firm derriere in Aveline’s face, he offered parts of his body as drink receptacles, and even Merrill got to try a body shot or two. At first, Aveline went an even-deeper shade of scarlet in the face, but the drink and the music and the dancing finally won her over and she started playing along. She danced, she laughed, she enjoyed. She even waved an enormous rubber sex toy about like it was a wand, as if she were conducting a most raunchy concerto. It was lovely.

And then Ruggedly Handsome Rob and his musicians drew daggers and tried to kill everyone. Which was also planned, on my part.

"But wait, Isabela. Why on earth would you try to kill Aveline?" you might ask.

I wasn’t trying to kill Aveline, my ducklings. Ruggedly Handsome Rob was. If it were me trying to kill her, she’d have been dead many times over. You see, Rob was a lieutenant in the Wolves of the Waking, a dockside street gang that had been giving the guardsmen trouble. I knew that he was pretty, ambitious, and not particularly intelligent or forward-thinking. Thus, I approached him with a proposition - do a dance, have a little fun, and then he’d get the opportunity to assassinate the captain of the guards who was simply out to have a good time with her friends at her bachelorette party. If Rob was able to pull it off, he’d easily rise in the ranks and earn the respect of every gang in Kirkwall. They expected an easy killing - five killers to assassinate a single drunk woman in front of her terrified friends.

Of course, what I left out was that Aveline would be there with Merrill, myself, Bethany, and Hawke herself. Aveline was ready for them the moment they drew steel, and the rest of us were right behind her. Let me just say… you might think that a tipsy Aveline would make her less dangerous, but it’s actually the opposite. She’s fantastically strong, and she normally holds back a bit in a brawl because she doesn’t like permanently harming anyone if she can help it. She roared into action like a rampaging lion, wielding the sex toy as if it were a truncheon. She crushed windpipes, broke bones, shattered kneecaps and elbows, and generally tossed the horrified thugs about like rag dolls. I’m not sure if she outright killed any of them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they succumbed to their injuries not long after. 

Aveline was breathing hard from the exertion. Her drunken state had been burned off by the rush of battle, and she was still flushed from the exertion, but she looked satisfied and pleased with herself. She looked at me.

"You set all of this up, didn’t you?"

"I may have had something to do with it," I answered, sipping wine from my goblet.

"Why? You had to know that these wouldn’t be enough."

"On the contrary, I think they were just enough,” Hawke quipped, resting her feet on my lap.

"These are members of the Wolves of the Waking." she observed. "And they’re still breathing. I’m going to have to question them after the wedding tomorrow. With luck, I’ll even be able to find the leadership from them!"

Her eyes widened in recognition. Then she looked at me, a smile growing on her face.

"Happy impending nuptials, big girl."

October 18, 2014 6:00 am

Around the Fireplace: Merrill’s Tale

Oh, I have the short twig this time! That means it’s my turn, doesn’t it? I’ve always wanted to do this with everyone. It seems we don’t get enough time to just share stories. Well, except for Isabela. She always has stories to tell, even if I don’t quite understand them. I like Varric’s stories too, except his all begin with “No shit, Daisy, there I was…” and then involve a large amount of spitting and killing.

I remember when the Keeper would gather us all around the fire and tell us tales of the old days, when the elves of Elvhenan were still in the great cities. But those aren’t particularly scary. That is what we wanted to talk about, wasn’t it? The Keeper didn’t have many scary stories, those we had to hear from the others in the clan. The Keeper would warn us about things, but the really scary ones were the tales of monsters and creatures of old, who used to do just awful things. Do you humans have stories like that?

Oh, you did? Aveline’s story just seemed so… gloomy.

Oh, right, I’m babbling, aren’t I? I’ll tell my tale then.

Many years ago, centuries even, the Elvhen - the people - had shortly arrived back in the lands of our forefathers after the Long Walk from Tevinter. They had just begun to rebuild, settling the land and forming the groups that would eventually become the great clans. 

Of all of the hunters in the group, a pretty young huntress by the name of Neyala was by far the best. She could track a halla through snow and storm without troubles, and she was lovelier than the blossoms of the ironwood tree. She always brought back fresh food for the clan, even in winter, and they all loved and admired her for it. 

The Keeper’s First, a young man named Daleras, like many, was quite taken with her and wished her to become his wife. Neyala, however, wasn’t interested. She loved being a hunter, and she was afraid that marrying would bring children and end her days of tracking, woodcraft, and shooting. Neyala was a gentle soul, however. She had many suitors, but she always tried to be kind to her suitors, always sparing their feelings.

Daleras, however, became obsessed with Neyala. He began following her whenever she returned to the camp, watching her every move. He would argue and aggressive against any other man who spoke to her. His behavior was frightening. Eventually, after she found herself unable to spare his feelings, she told him that she wasn’t interested in him and would prefer it if he would leave her alone. He grew angry at this, and several of the other elves had to restrain him. He swore revenge.

Yes, Isabela. Exactly like that.

Daleras still had the skills of the First, however misguided he was at the time. He began using his knowledge of herbalism late at night - he secretly sneaked into her tent after she had fallen asleep, and hold a mixture of special herbs and extracts from animals to her nose. As she inhaled them, she fell into a deep slumber from which she could not easily awaken. As she slept, Daleras retrieved a special ball of snow he had prepared. The snow had been scribed wth runes written in his own blood, and he placed it in the hollow of her neck, just below her throat. Satisfied in his revenge, he left the tent and the cursed snow.

The snow melted throughout the night and she absorbed the dark magic into her heart. 

When the morning came, she felt irritable and sick. Her stomach was upset, and she had difficulty breathing. She complained about feeling chilly. The other Elvhen tried to help, to bring her food, but she refused everything they brought, saying it was tasteless. She became irritable and cranky, sort of like Aveline was that one time after Isabela shaved her eyebrows.

Neyala soon grew restless, however, and went off to hunt despite her illness. When she didn’t return for days, the other hunters sent out search parties. Days later, a team of scouts managed to find her. They saw her in the deepest snowdrift of the forest, devouring the snow as if she was starving. They called out to her, and she immediately rushed at them, screaming as if she were trying to kill them. One of the scouts managed to escape with his life while she tore the others to bloody pieces with her bare hands.

The people grew terrified, all except for Daleras who knew in his heart what he had done. He began seeing things as he went on his daily life - out of the corner of his eye, he would catch a fleeting glimpse of her long hair or her soft lips, but whenever he turned to look, there would be nothing there. He became increasingly paranoid and jumpy, convinced that the huntress was stalking him for what he had done to her. Neither the Keeper nor the hunters could find any sign of Neyala, however, and they thought that Daleras was simply going mad with grief at her loss.

Weeks later, Neyala finally emerged from the snow. Her skin had turned chalk-white, and her eyes had become an icy blue… like Hawke’s, except without the warmth or happiness. Her hair had also lost all of its color, and she had small icicles growing on her body. She had been stalking Daleras, and she ambushed him by pulling him into the drifts during a snowstorm. 

Daleras, fearing for his life, unleashed his magic by sending forth blast after blast of of fire and flame at the monstrous Neyala. They burned her horribly, consuming her flesh and scorching her all over, but she continued with her grim task. She tore his throat out with her teeth before falling to her injuries. The rest of the clan found them after the storm passed and were horrified by the gruesome sight. Strangely, when they discovered them, Neyala’s body had utterly frozen through and through. The Elvhen buried Neyala and Daleras together, not really knowing what else to do. 

Three days later, one of the hunters on patrol discovered that the cairn had been disturbed. When the other hunters arrived, they discovered only the partially-devoured corpse of Daleras in the grave. Neyala’s body was gone, as if it had dug its way out from the cairn and left. The Elvhen declared the ground cursed and quickly packed the Aravels and left.

The clan called it Chi’numin’an, the place of frozen tears, and never returned. But the story spread, and with it the legend of Chi’neya’lin, the frozen blood drinker, spread. The Elvhen have since made it a tradition to tell the story to the sons and daughters of the clans during the winter months to keep them from wandering too far away. But there are always tales of young boys who go missing, and rumors of the shades of chalk-white figures in the worst of snowstorms that never quite go away, especially in the cursed land of Chi’numin’an.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"How was that? Did I frighten you?"

"Oh kitten, I like it.”

"But did I frighten you?”

"A pretty elf woman with pale skin and ice blue eyes who likes a good tussle? Throw in a bottle of whiskey and it sounds like an evening of fun to me."

"Oh…"

"Well, you certainly frightened me, Merrill.”

"Oh!"

"The thought is disturbing. And it is still out there you say? Wouldn’t it have died of old age or something?"

"I think that means you scared Aveline as well, kitten. Two out of three isn’t bad."

"Well, I suppose it’s just down to you and I who haven’t gone yet, Isabela. How shall we decide who goes next?"

"I have a few ideas…"

"Stick with the twigs, whore."

"Spoilsport."

October 16, 2014 6:00 am

Tall Tales (Part 3)

Bethany pursed her lips as she looked from me to Varric with a completely flat expression.

"You’re having me on," she scoffed. "An abomination?”

"Honest to ancestors, Sunshine," swore Varric.

"How in the Maker’s name did you go from a three-way brawl in the marketplace to an abomination?"

"Why don’t you tell her that part, Rivaini?" suggested Varric with a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye.

"Of course. First, it was just a big brawl - you know the sort, you’ve been with us to those types of affairs. I was there, trying to keep Hawke out of the thick of it. Knock down a thug with a pair of daggers on the left, stab an axe-wielding dwarf howling for blood on the right, haul your sister out of the path of a crossbow bolt before she turns into a sexy pincushion, you know. But there’s blood beginning to spill as the Coterie and Carta enforcers start getting into it, while Alphonse the bard is trying to avoid getting shanked and yet still look as if he were in distress."

"I think he gave up the pretense one of the Carta nearly cut him a second smile," interjected Varric.

"Funny how that works," I mused.

"In any case," the dwarf continued, "Two-Hit Hans certainly had a well-earned reputation. He smashed his way through the Coterie lines, tossing bandit bodies left and right, until he ended up face to face with Alphonse who whirled on him with a pair of sharp-looking daggers. They fought for a bit, and I’ll give Alphonse credit - he was able to stand up to Hans and his massive battle axe fairly well."

"Remember, Sweetness - if you’re ever fighting someone with a weapon that outranges yours, you need to stay close and inside his effective range or you’ll just end up cut to ribbons. At first Alphonse was able to keep inside Hans’ range, but he overextended and Hans managed to turn the blade. Alphonse managed to cut Hans pretty deep, but Hans caught him on the backswing and sent Alphonse flying."

Bethany sat on the edge of her seat as she bit into another cookie.

"So Alphonse gets sent stumbling back, windmilling his arms, trying to stabilize, and he crashes into a cart. But not just any cart. No shit, it was a cart carrying a bunch of the items we found in that old tomb at the Wounded Coast just last month. Didn’t we tell you about that, Sunshine? There were a number of old relics back there that we had sold off, and they were in the process of being carted to the docks where the buyers were planning on shipping them back to Tevinter. So Alphonse crashes into the cart, and he just wasn’t prepared for what happened next."

"That’s right, it was then that he realized that he hadn’t dealt a mortal wound to Hans, but that he had cut the bag of cinnamon free, and held it in his hand. The next thing Alphonse realized was that the bag was soaked in blood - his own blood - and that he had been injured quite badly. What he didn’t realize was that his blood was seeping into the cart as well, where many old relics had been packed up.”

"Oh no, you don’t mean those sorts of relics?” asked Bethany, aghast.

"I told you about that time I found your sister in that pirate cave, right? Those sorts of relics?"

The young mage shook her head. “Blood magic relics are never a good sign,” she sighed.

"Right. So Alphonse is leaking like a sieve onto the relics while trying to figure out what this bag is, and the artifacts start to glow."

"Never a good sign," I added.

"Hawke, who’s been trying to chase Hans the whole time, spots the bag of cinnamon and makes a dash through the fighting to try to get it. I’m laying down covering fire to make sure she’s alright, Rivaini here has her hands full keeping them off of Hawke, when the entire cart suddenly explodes and poor Alphonse is suddenly lifted into the air as he’s impaled through the chest on this massive horn growing out of the biggest, nastiest, spikiest bronto I’ve ever seen."

"It wasn’t just any bronto, Sweetness."

"So that’s what you meant by an abomination! It must have been sealed away by blood magic, until enough blood was shed to reactivate it."

"Your sister said the same thing," I observed.

"Now that thing was big. I shit you not, brontos usually seem pretty big to me in general, but this thing was easily as tall at the shoulder as Rivaini here. It had these wicked-looking spikes growing all over its back and along its sides. The first thing it did was to stomp on one of the poor fools that had fallen in battle, popping the unfortunate sod like a grape, and covering the bottom of one foot with gore. The creature absorbed the blood immediately, and it was then that we noticed, on the tip of its horn, the last bag of cinnamon dangling like someone had won the ring toss at the local carnival."

"So how did sister manage to get the cinnamon from the creature?" asked the young woman.

"Well," I began, "It just so happened that Aletta the Lioness, the mightiest Dragon Huntress in Nevarra, was in town with her bodyguards."

"Rivaini, wasn’t she the one who hunted you that one time?"

"The very same."

October 15, 2014 6:00 am

Around the Fireplace: Aveline’s Tale

Alright, I suppose I can go first. I’m no good at this anyway, but since you all insisted… I can tell you one story that truly frightened me. This was several years ago, back before I became captain. I had been assigned to a regular patrol around the Foundry district in Lowtown by Jeven. Now that I look back on it, he was trying to get me killed, or perhaps injured. The Foundry district is one of the nastier areas, it’s why I only assign my guardsmen there in pairs.

In any case, I learned quickly that the best way to patrol effectively was to get some help. I introduced myself to the residents of the district, and let them know that I was there to help. In return, they would help protect the neighborhood by notifying me of any issues that would need a guardsman. It took some doing to prove that I wasn’t there to harm or take advantage of them, but in the end, it worked out. It was there that I met a number of people - Bette the midwife, Gilbert the Tinker, his wife Arella and their teenaged daughter Briella, crotchety old man William, Jensen the smith, and Petra, his assistant. 

There was a gang of bandits that frequented that area that I had to deal with as well at the time - Sharp’s Highwaymen. They were filthy little footpads, the sort who wouldn’t think twice about knifing you from behind, and it was their presence that brought the others together with me. I had fought with them repeatedly, usually driving them off, but they were like roaches in how they seemed to proliferate. Break some bones here, send a few to the brig there, but they seemed to always have more.

One day, I saw Arella crying. When I approached, she tried to hide it from me, to put on a smile, but I could see through it. I pressed a bit more, and she broke down crying almost immediately. Her daughter, Briella, had gone missing and her husband had gone looking for her. Neither Gilbert nor Briella had returned, and it had been over an entire day since Arella had seen either of them. I promised her I’d find them, but she tried to convince me to leave it be, and that she was sure that the two would return soon. Her eyes told me that she believed her words about as much as I did.

I enlisted the aid of the other community members to help look for them, and they were all happy to help… all except for old man William, who also warned me me that it was an ill omen, and that I wouldn’t like what I found. It sounded rather suspicious, but I paid it no mind - William was always the sort who would give grim foretellings, but nobody really believed him.

Petra, Jensen, and Bette all helped me look as best they could. We combed the Foundry district from top to bottom, but didn’t find hide nor hair of the missing pair. Night fell and the others returned to their homes while I continued my patrol. It was just past midnight when I saw Petra run to me, her eyes full of fear. She called to me, telling me that something had happened to old man William, so I went with her as quickly as I could. When I reached his hovel, the front door had been smashed in. Petra was clearly frightened, so I ordered her to go home and lock her doors. I entered William’s home, and found it had been torn apart. Before he retired, he had been a wood carver. His furniture had been broken, and all of his little baubles had been wrecked. I found his body in the privy, his belly torn open as if by a wild beast, and he had none of his innards left. He had scrawled something on the wall in his own blood before he died - the name “Briella”.

I’m not a religious person by nature, but I said a quick prayer for him all the same, then hurried to Gilbert and Arella’s home. I heard a commotion inside as I approached - the sound of wood creaking and breaking, snarling and crying, but the front door was closed and locked. I smashed it in, fearing the worst, and inside I saw Arella, weeping and pinned against the wall by a monstrous beast, all fur and fang and claw. She was crying, pleading with it. Its muzzle were bloody, and its eyes glowed with a strange red light. It looked like it was about to tear her to pieces, so I shouted at it in challenge.

And then Arella pleaded with me to flee.

The creature turned to me and spoke with a teenaged girl’s voice. 

"Mother, I’m so hungry. Father is already gone, and old Man William was barely enough. I need more.

As the horror of the realization dawned on me, I did something that night I never thought I’d do again. I fled.

I made my way to the Gallows as quickly as I could, and the templars there responded immediately. They came back with a company of armored warriors with me, and rushed to the Gilbert and Arella’s home. Eight of them died fighting the abomination that Briella had become. Arella survived, but was left at the brink of madness.

Afterward, I learned from the templars that Briella had apparently awakened as a mage, but she had very little power, and her parents couldn’t bear to give her up. Instead, they kept her magical powers secret and tried to let her live a normal life. The templar I spoke with told me that she must have accidentally let a hunger demon possess her. It really could have happened to anyone, but for a cruel twist of fate.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Aveline, that was awful."

"The poor girl…"

"You asked for a frightening story. I gave you one."

"But it’s supposed to be frightening in a good way. An entertaining way. Not one that makes you sad, big girl.”

"What happened to the others in the neighborhood?"

"Bette moved to Ostwick. She said that Kirkwall was cursed, and I can’t really blame her for that. Jensen remained there for a few years after, but he was killed when the Dog Lords moved into the area after we finally put away Sharp’s Highwaymen. Petra finished her apprenticeship and opened her own smithy down on the docks. She seemed well the last time I visited her."

"It was truly a chilling story, Aveline. Thank you for telling us."

"It was an awful story. Mine is much better.”

"Well, we still have three more twigs to go. Are you volunteering to go next?"

October 13, 2014 6:00 am
It is a difficult decision, my lovely, but I am confident you made the right one. Unless things have changed for you in that you are confident you’ll no longer end up treating her that way, you’ll be better served keeping your distance.
The thing when dealing with people is that you have to realize that no one can force someone else to change. If your friend is in a situation where she purposely puts herself into abusive relationships for whatever reason (and make no mistake - that is what you’re describing to me), then it isn’t up to you to change her or break her of that habit. Even if you remove yourself from the role of abuser (and I commend you for that), if she still subconsciously craves it, she’ll find another way to obtain it. If you were to go back and nothing had changed, you’d probably both settle into your own roles, much to the detriment of you both. She’d still be miserable, and you’d still be saying hurtful things - neither of which sounds particularly healthy for anyone involved.
That said, there really isn’t anything you can do for her until she is ready to make a change. The only truly responsible thing you can do in a case like this is to recognize your own role and remove yourself as a potential abuser. Do what you must to love yourself, and for your own happiness. No matter how much we might want to, we can’t control others’ lives.
Hopefully she will get the help she needs elsewhere, but it’s generally better not to enable any of her self-destructive behavior. It took a bit before I eventually recognized where things truly stood between Delis and I. I hope your friend will soon be able to see the same.

It is a difficult decision, my lovely, but I am confident you made the right one. Unless things have changed for you in that you are confident you’ll no longer end up treating her that way, you’ll be better served keeping your distance.

The thing when dealing with people is that you have to realize that no one can force someone else to change. If your friend is in a situation where she purposely puts herself into abusive relationships for whatever reason (and make no mistake - that is what you’re describing to me), then it isn’t up to you to change her or break her of that habit. Even if you remove yourself from the role of abuser (and I commend you for that), if she still subconsciously craves it, she’ll find another way to obtain it. If you were to go back and nothing had changed, you’d probably both settle into your own roles, much to the detriment of you both. She’d still be miserable, and you’d still be saying hurtful things - neither of which sounds particularly healthy for anyone involved.

That said, there really isn’t anything you can do for her until she is ready to make a change. The only truly responsible thing you can do in a case like this is to recognize your own role and remove yourself as a potential abuser. Do what you must to love yourself, and for your own happiness. No matter how much we might want to, we can’t control others’ lives.

Hopefully she will get the help she needs elsewhere, but it’s generally better not to enable any of her self-destructive behavior. It took a bit before I eventually recognized where things truly stood between Delis and I. I hope your friend will soon be able to see the same.

October 12, 2014 6:00 am

askerquestioner

Anonymous: Has Isabela ever lost her heart to a kool musical dude coz l have just this weekend and l cant get her out of my mind

A long time ago, when I was much younger than I am today, I will admit to going starry-eyed and woobly-faced over a dashing young musician. His name was Delis, and he had eyes like jewels, a voice like honey, and fingers that rivaled Hawke’s in terms of dexterity and cunning. He saw me, serenaded me, and seduced me with the practiced ease of a tortured soul eternally suffering for his art, and I was entranced… at first.

It’s always those two words that ruin everything.

At first the sex was wonderful. At first, he couldn’t get enough of me. At first, I was the center of his world, and my young, ignorant self reveled in the attention he showered on me. For the first few weeks, things were grand. The world was to be our oyster.

But, like many tortured, inspired artists, any sort of relationship didn’t work out. The inspiration he found in me ebbed and vanished, and soon he began seeking it elsewhere. He became more moody around me, treating me as if I were part of his ongoing problems, and I found myself doing everything I could to please his increasingly difficult demands. The sex stopped being about us, and became about him… he became a selfish lover, leaving me unsatisfied, and still blamed me when he couldn’t perform (in all senses of the word). I heard his actual music less and less.

Eventually, I found him seeking his new inspiration in the arms (and between the legs) of another starry-eyed woobly-faced young woman who had been taken in by his looks and music. It really only showcased to me what a fool I’d been to invest anything of myself into such a creature, but I had already counted as loss any real feelings left. I just felt pity for him, and left him to his vices. 

One would think that would be the last I’d see of Delis, but that’s not true. I would still occasionally see him every now and then in the harbors where I’d take port. He was still quite the fetching figure of a man, and he always did know how to use his fingers to pluck the right strings just so, so every now and then we’d still use each other for a night of pleasure. But I know his measure and worth and it isn’t much more than a night of fun if I haven’t got anything better to do.

October 11, 2014 6:00 am

Around the Fireplace: The beginning

The cheery fire crackled as we huddled together for warmth. The dull orange light cast tall, dancing shadows along the grey stone walls while we watched the rain come down outside the cavernous entrance. The sky was roiling mass of inky blackness, occasionally illuminating itself with bright flashes of purple lightning. The air felt chilly; the fat droplets of rain constantly drew every scrap of ambient heat away from the atmosphere. Everything felt cold, damp, and miserable.

"It doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon," observed Aveline with a sigh.

"At least we found this lovely cave so we could take shelter. It doesn’t even have a monster living in it!

Merrill was always cheerful. She held a stick she had cut from a tree, roasting a small confection skewered at the end of it in the fire.

"I suppose we could stay the night, then. We’ve certainly bunked in worse places before," reasoned Hawke. She leaned back against my legs and patted one of my boots reassuringly.

"We’ve never done it in a cave before," I proposed hopefully.

"Yes, we have."

"We’ve never done it three times in a cave before," I amended.

Hawke sighed as gave me a bit of a smile, then pointed at Aveline who was grimacing from her vantage point like she was about to begin chewing on rocks.

"Spoilsport," I grumbled.

"Why don’t we do something to pass the time that we can all participate in?” suggested Hawke.

"I thought I was suggesting that already!" I quipped.

Hawke playfully swatted my foot.

"Be good," she said.

"What are you thinking, Hawke?" asked Aveline.

"It’s nearing harvest time, and the twins and I would always tell stories to scare each other around this time of year growing up. How about that?"

"You mean we’d take turns telling scary stories? That sounds like fun!"

"I always enjoyed the type to make you jump on someone in fright," I observed.

"I suppose it’s better than watching a wild animal in heat rub herself up against anything with a pulse," acknowledged Aveline with a sigh.

Hawke held up four twigs and we each drew one.

"Shortest twig goes first."

… to be continued…

October 9, 2014 6:00 am

Interrogation

"Ah… hello Aveline."

"Hawke."

"I suppose your first question must be why I’m here."

"It is."

"Well, Isabela was up to something and I had to tag along. To keep her out of trouble, of course."

"A full-time job."

"Isn’t it, though? And with my additional duties as Champion and all that."

"Right."

"Well, she told me that she had forgotten something in your home last week, when you had us over for supper."

"Did she now?"

"She wanted to just let herself in the back, but I told her that you might not appreciate that."

"Indeed."

"She may have mentioned that the last time you caught her in your room, you threatened grievous bodily harm."

"No."

"No?"

"The last time I caught her in my room, I inflicted grievous bodily harm.”

"Is that why she couldn’t sit properly for two days?"

"Yes."

"That explains so much."

"Hawke…"

"Right. So I was here. Helping her. Keeping her out of trouble. And you happened to come back in while she was still looking for her things."

"Go on."

"So rather than bother you, she suggested that we let ourselves out through the window."

"Of course she did."

"I helped her get up, and then she tried to help me get out after she made it through the window. And that’s how I ended up here."

"I see."

"Aveline?"

"Yes, Hawke?"

"While you’re here… Could you do me a favor?"

"What is it?"

"Could you help pull me out of this window? I think I’m stuck."

"Before I help, just one more request."

"Name it."

"Explain to me why you’re also naked."

October 7, 2014 6:00 am
My darling czartesh, the way you should keep your dueling instruments in proper shape is the same condition you should keep your undergarments - dry, clean, and within easy reach. Nothing corrodes the material or loses the edge faster than storing a blade wet and dirty. It’s rather disgusting, and has a nasty tendency to attract scavengers, parasites, and spread diseases. And it gets fragrant very quickly.
The best way to protect against this is to give your tools a good flick at the very minimum before stashing them. If you can, wipe them with something clean - a cloth, fresh grass, sand, the clothing of your fallen foe, and so on. Give your blades a soapy washing every so often, towel it off immediately, and it will serve you well.
That said… you really don’t need to keep your blades constantly sharpened. They don’t need to be sharp enough to draw blood just by running your finger over the edge, and you should be aiming them at locations with minimal protection or bone coverage - it only takes a little muscle to push even a dull blade through a layer of sinew and muscle and into a vital organ or artery. 
Happy dueling, my ducklings!

My darling czartesh, the way you should keep your dueling instruments in proper shape is the same condition you should keep your undergarments - dry, clean, and within easy reach. Nothing corrodes the material or loses the edge faster than storing a blade wet and dirty. It’s rather disgusting, and has a nasty tendency to attract scavengers, parasites, and spread diseases. And it gets fragrant very quickly.

The best way to protect against this is to give your tools a good flick at the very minimum before stashing them. If you can, wipe them with something clean - a cloth, fresh grass, sand, the clothing of your fallen foe, and so on. Give your blades a soapy washing every so often, towel it off immediately, and it will serve you well.

That said… you really don’t need to keep your blades constantly sharpened. They don’t need to be sharp enough to draw blood just by running your finger over the edge, and you should be aiming them at locations with minimal protection or bone coverage - it only takes a little muscle to push even a dull blade through a layer of sinew and muscle and into a vital organ or artery. 

Happy dueling, my ducklings!