It was dark. It was warm. I had been satisfied. Thrice. And yet I could not sleep.
I wiggled a bit, trying to find a comfortable resting position.
I heard gentle, slow breathing from beside me. She had fallen asleep some time ago, with one arm gently draped across my chest. It wasn’t unpleasant, just… a bit constricting.
I wondered about what I would do in the morning. She had mentioned inviting friends for breakfast in passing. It would probably be something both sweet and savory - Hawke always liked dipping her breakfast sausage in her sweet maple syrup before eating it. Perhaps some strawberries with fresh cream as well?
My mind wandered a bit. Who would she invite for breakfast? She always invited early risers to breakfast. That meant Varric was out, and likely Fenris and Anders as well. It seemed likely that it would be Aveline and Donnic. Perhaps it might be Merrill. The little darling always loved visiting.
My nose itched. I began to raise one arm to scratch it, before I realized it was the one under her. She stirred, settling in between my shoulder and her pillow. I felt her knee bump against my leg beneath the covers. I quickly scratched my nose with my other hand, trying to find a place for it that wasn’t too hot and wouldn’t contort my body too much.
My eyes felt a bit droopier. Had Hawke’s bed canopy always been that color? Maybe it was just a trick of the fading light.
I felt it coming, so I yawned in hopes it would help ease me into sleep. It was a deep yawn, the kind where you close your eyes tightly and want to stretch out while performing. And when it was done, my eyes were wide open, and I could only curse. The yawn was a mistake. A terrible mistake for a woman who needed sleep and had cut herself (figuratively) instead.
I debated whether I should get up. Perhaps a bit of warm milk. With a shot of liqueur. The gentle pressure on my arm and chest reminded me that I would likely have a difficult time extricating myself without waking her.
The whole sleeping over bit suddenly seemed not quite as pleasant. An aggravation. More trouble than it was worth.
Then I smelled it. It was a light aroma, a hint of fresh blackberries as she moved her head nearer to mine and I could pick up the scent of her hair. It smelled nice. It reminded me of a field with wildflowers I had once visited as a little girl. The field had been an ocean of white and yellow daisies, each smelling fresh and green. As I remembered, my senses dulled. I tried to remember the sensations, but it was like trying to grasp at keys while wearing mittens. The fogginess in my eyes continued to spread, and I knew no more until the morning.
Anonymous: Capn Isabela do any of your crew get sea sick and what be the best seafaring cure for this ailment
Seasickness is often a concern for those who haven’t yet gotten their sea legs, my lovely. There’s a number of things that you can do to acclimate yourself, and I have seen them work rather effectively myself when bringing on virgin sailors and land lubbing passengers.
First, you need to realize what actually causes sea sickness. It isn’t an actual infection like a cold or the flu, but it’s your body’s reaction to your sense of balance being utterly confused. If you were to spin in place until you vomit, it wouldn’t be because you’ve caught some nasty disease but because your body’s sense of balance has been twisted upside down. Usually, the best way to stop the dizziness is to stop the spinning. On a ship, that means you want to find the place that moves the least. Usually on a ship, this means the stern of the ship, as low as you can go. The aft of the ship will move up and down the least since it is being dragged behind, so it will have less up-and-down motion since it won’t be breaking the waves like the bow.
Likewise, you want to be as low in the ship as you can, since that is the part that will rock back and forth the least. Ships are similar to swords in how they move - if you grip a sword and turn your wrist, the pommel moves in much smaller motions than the tip of the blade. Similarly, when a ship rocks left and right, the bottom of the ship moves less than the deck up above. The lower you are, the less motion there will be.
These won’t be enough to halt all motion, of course. You’ll still be moving, and it will still cause the dizziness and nausea for those who are delicate of stomach. If you need more, there are two foods that you can try chewing on to help ease the discomfort. The first is ginger and the second is mint. Chewing on either of these will help keep you alert and definitely reduce the sensations of queasiness. Try to avoid heavy or fatty foods as well. Fatty or rich foods tend to sit in your belly, and that discomfort will become magnified by the motion of the ocean.
Finally, try to avoid anything else that may tip you over that edge. The most common mistake I see is that those who are ill tend to stick together. Misery loves company and all that, but when you’re already feeling delicate and you start seeing and smelling the results of someone else’s retching, you’ll more than likely soon be following in her footsteps and heaving your belly out right next to her. Stay away from things that smell bad, or things that look disgusting.
The good news is that the body is a wondrous thing that can acclimate to almost any environment. Prolonged exposure to the rocking motion of the boat will cause your body to build up a tolerance for it, and soon it will become second nature. It might take some time to get your sea legs, but get them you shall, and the sea sickness will vanish like a lover you accidentally call the wrong name.
ge0kinetic: Isabella, how do you deal with people who constantly try to shove their religion down your throat? What if you can't get away from them, and they have no respect for your own beliefs or virtues?
It depends on the sort of circumstances, my lovely ge0kinetic. There are many approaches to dealing with unpleasant or unwelcome advances, religious or otherwise.
The easiest situation would be that these people mean nothing to you. Like the sort of overzealous hawkers that you might meet at a local market, or an angry parent who believes you’ve stolen their child’s innocence or something. If you don’t care what they think of you, then all you need to do is either tell them off or take steps to avoid them. Either way they should get your message loud and clear. Just be honest and tell them that you have no interest whatsoever. Feel free to be as colorful as you like in your description. You get bonus points if you mention bodily fluids.
It gets more difficult if you do value what they think of you, or at least their feelings at all. You may not wish to hurt them, or to cause irreparable harm to an already-existing relationship. Seducing the admiral’s daughter can be problematic if the admiral is the one giving your assignments, after all. In such situations, you need to be tactful. Be diplomatic in your choice of words, but be firm as your beliefs will allow. And be sure to mention that you don’t wish to talk about it anymore, and that you hope that they will respect you enough to listen to your own choice. Should that fail, change the subject or walk away. Should they continue to pursue, just tell them that you do not wish to talk about it and that they are making you feel uncomfortable.
The important thing to remember here, especially when it comes to religion, is to understand where they are coming from. Most zealots attempt to spread their religion for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is because they care. To them, the world is a place where most people will be condemned to some sort of eternal punishment. Their goal is to save those people, especially the ones they care about, by telling them about the things they believe in. This is why they use the word ‘gospel’ - it means ‘good news’. Make no mistake, there’s almost certainly some element of control or feelings of superiority involved - they are human, after all. But when it comes down to it, they are sharing and shouting their message because, on some level, they care about you and your future.
I will leave you with one last bit of advice: try not to shut the door on anyone too permanently unless it’s absolutely necessary. You might end up surprising yourself. If you told Sebastian ten years ago that he’d be lay brother in the Chantry, the youthful prince most likely would have thought you mad. If you told me ten years ago that I’d spend years landlocked and end up in a… relationship of sorts with a single person that I couldn’t get enough of… I’d have laughed you out of the tavern, then ordered more whiskey. People have a tendency to change over time, and the things that once made no sense to them before may start fitting together. You won’t want to sink a ship you might need to book passage on someday. I’m not saying that you’ll suddenly become some sort of pious or holy person, but life has a habit of changing the people who live it in ways we didn’t expect.
On occasion, I hear people ask this question.
"What does it matter?"
Usually it’s followed by something like “I just want them to tell a good story first.”
I usually don’t let such things bother me, but each time I hear it is like a grain of sand in my boot. A small number isn’t a problem, but once it happens enough times, you end up chafed and uncomfortable.
The problem I see with this line of thinking is that it’s a flawed premise. It sets up a false choice - it implies that you can have a good story, or you can have these other things, but you can’t have both. It implies that doing such things is difficult - even more difficult than crafting a tale about a fair-skinned man who rescues a damsel in distress. Usually this is combined with some feelings that “I like it the way it is right now, and don’t want them to possibly turn it into something I dislike”.
The best answer I can think of to the question - “Why does it matter?” is this.
It matters because far too many people think it doesn’t.
I slowly climbed the gangplank to my ship, a bottle in hand. My head was already pleasantly buzzing, but I was looking for someone. I heard her voice on the evening wind and smiled.
Antivan girls are sweet as pie
but won’t shed a tear
were you to die
Should any ask, I would declare
Ferelden girls by far most fair
I saw her leaning against the rail, bathed in moonlight with her head thrown back. She had a bottle of something too. She looked like a spirit in the cool, silvery glow of the moon. If she saw me, she gave no indication. Instead, she continued to sing.
Orlesian girls will kiss your lips
But anger them
and they’ll sink your ships
Should any ask, I would declare
Ferelden girls by far most fair
She paused to take a long pull from her bottle. She gasped afterwards, sucking in cool air over her shining, pink lips. She ran her tongue over her lips, before putting down the bottle, and tilting her head back again.
Rivaini girls will touch your heart
till the tide turns
and you’re torn apart
Should any ask, I would declare
Ferelden girls by far most fair
"You know, I always heard this song as ‘Rivaini girls’ growing up," I said as she stopped to take another drink.
"I like my version better," she replied, sticking her tongue out at me and flicking her cork in my direction.
"I didn’t think it’d be you I found out here tonight," I said, sidling up next to her. I could feel her warmth through the touching of our elbows.
"I had a sudden desire to see the stars. To smell the ocean and hear the sounds of the water. And to get drunk,” she declared, poking me in the arm with a hand that still held her bottle.
"It’s a good place for that," I said.
She smiled at me, and my heart skipped a beat.
I took a breath, but it only came out as a sigh.
"I want to hear you," she quietly whispered in my ear, touching one hand to my forearm.
So I sang.
Ferelden girls will have your back,
the armor ‘round
your heart they’ll crack
Should any ask, I would declare…
I stopped, for a moment, licking my lips. She raised one knuckle under my chin, raising my lips to hers.
She brought her face ever closer to mine.
… by far most fair.
The man charged at Hawke, screaming wildly with his sword raised. She sidestepped the crazed strike before slamming her staff into his belly and sending him to the grassy turf. He struggled to rise, but she pointed the staff’s glowing head at him and shocked him into convulsions with a bolt of lightning. She turned to face her next opponent only to see him topple to the ground with a heavy dagger protruding from between his shoulder blades. The grinning pirate woman behind the unfortunate victim planted one foot on his back and yanked the blade out.
"Remind me why these people are trying to kill us again?" asked Hawke as she casually before swinging her hand in a wide arc. Enormous shards of jagged ice erupted from the ground, encasing three armored men in a frozen crystalline prison.
"CHAMPION! KASIM HAS COME FOR YOUR HEAD!!" bellowed the enormous man on the other end of the battlefield. He wore a massive steel epaulet on one shoulder with overlapping metal plates down one arm ending in a steel gauntlet. He flicked a wicked-looking curved saber in his opposite hand back and forth like a coiling viper. His light armoring left his chiseled physique on full display.
Aveline moved to intercept him, halting his advance. The rest of the mercenaries surged forward.
"That’s why, sweet thing," quipped Isabela as she caught an archer in the throat with a small thrown dagger.
"How did you know this one?"
"I may have slept with him a few times.”
"Whatever did you see in him?" asked Hawke with a roll of her eyes.
Isabela kicked her assailant between the legs, then brought her fist up under his chin, sending him sprawling to the turf with a vicious uppercut.
"Kasim had a cock like a high dragon’s tail and the stamina to use it," she answered with a shrug.
"Sounds like quite the prize."
"I couldn’t stand him outside the bedroom for reasons that should be obvious. All that posturing and grunting and referring to himself in the third person quickly became tiresome," said the pirate, sidestepping a vicious pike thrust.
Hawke grunted in reply as she blocked an overhead axe swing with her staff.
"I reached a point where even great sex was no longer worth putting up with his shit. Eventually." Isabela concluded as she slashed deep into the pikeman’s left leg. Bright red blood gushed out of the vein, staining the unfortunate man’s rusty armor crimson.
"I can’t say that the thought of it is particularly pleasing," Hawke observed before tripping an armored soldier with the tip of her staff, then plunging the blade into his exposed belly.
"It was fun while it lasted. It’s not like it meant anything," replied the pirate with a shrug.
The hulking warrior roared as he managed to catch Aveline in the jaw with his steel gauntlet. The hefty guardswoman stumbled back two steps, and three of the flanking mercenaries surged toward her, cutting her off from the rest of the group. Kasim advanced towards the Champion like a stalking panther.
"Kasim has heard rumors you have taken his property to your bed, Champion. Kasim has taken her many times before. Kasim will first take your head, then take her back," he declared.
Hawke leveled her staff at him, but remained silent.
"Nothing clever to say? Kasim made your woman scream before, and will do it again after collecting your head," the man thundered.
The Champion remained silent. She slowly lowered her weapon and said “Oh, very well.”
He looked at her, momentarily confused.
"What do you mean?"
"She was talking to me, oaf," came the pirate’s voice. He turned to see the pirate standing behind him, only to catch her fist solidly in his jaw. The enormous man reeled back, but she followed with a knee to his groin, then a jab to the throat. Kasim dropped to his knees, stunned.
"I am no one’s possession," she said.
"Wait! You don’t have to kill Kasim! W-we had some good times, didn’t we? For old time’s sake?" Kasim pleaded.
"We did. But that was a long time ago. You tried to kill Hawke. You treated me like property.”
"Kasim didn’t mean it!"
"I’ve always hated that bloody speaking in third person thing," the pirate replied as she cut his throat, spattering droplets of red over herself in the process.
The surviving enemies, upon seeing their leader fall, broke rank and retreated. The redheaded guardswoman stood unbowed among several piled bodies at her feet. She nodded at her leader.
"Does it bother you?"
"I suppose I would be lying if I said it didn’t. A little."
"You know… You’re cute when you’re jealous," murmured Isabela as she wiped her bloody blade on Kasim’s corpse.
"There’s something disturbing about saying things like that while covered in the blood of our enemies," observed Hawke.
"It just means I have my priorities straight."
"So… a high dragon’s tail, huh?"
"It wasn’t bad… but I’ve had better."
Anonymous: Has isabela ever received payment for opening her treasure chest
If you really wanted to be legal about it, I’ve never actually unfurled my sails for coin directly before. I’ve been on the other side of the transaction plenty of times - I’ve visited brothels across the Waking so often that they’ve started offering me volume discounts. And make no mistake about it, I’ve certainly traded my fair share of favors for things I’ve wanted.
Sometimes it was as simple as swallowing a sword to get the bureaucrats to look the other way when dealing with the law. Other times, I had to twirl someone’s pike after losing a bet. Sometimes I needed information and the best way to get it was by teasing the boneless nug until it spat. I’ve also been on the bad end of it as well - sometimes the only way out of a sticky situation is through slinging the quivering jelly, though it rarely had to run to completion. As a wise woman once said, any man is willing to believe two things of a woman - that she is weak, and that she finds him attractive. It’s simply a matter of luring these people into a vulnerable position and then applying the right leverage, whether that’s a blade to the dangly bits or the threat of public humiliation.
This does, of course, also ignore situations where I did the dirty simply for recreation or alleviation of boredom. Everyone gets that itch occasionally and needs it scratched, whether by yourself or someone else. It isn’t always about the mind blowing, toe-curling, eye-rolling experience. Sometimes you’re vulnerable, or needy, or even just bored and the other person is there. I’m sure you’ve all had those days where you wake up with a hangover and regret for the previous night’s actions hanging over you like a dark cloud. I know I have.