The sun is just started peaking over the horizon and the wharf is a bustle of activity. Cargo, and supplies being loaded and off loaded from the varied ships at the docks. Varric yawns and makes his way past the multitude of workers as he grumbles about the unholy hour. The ship he’s looking for is called the Summergale, a merchant ship sailing under the Starkhaven banner. The captain was granted an extended shore leave, leaving Isabela in command, at least until they reach Cumberland where the new captain will be picked up to bring the ship back to Kirkwall. Summergale will take him to Cumberland, but it will not bring him back to Kirkwall. Sebastian insisted that his crew remain onboard and Isabela may not bring any of her ‘crew’. The Prince of Starkhaven left virtually no opening for Isabela to declare the Summergale as ‘under new management’.
The ship is a large triple mast galleon, made from the dark, hard wood which grows near Starkhaven. The Mainmast stretches high into the sky, as if it’s trying to touch the heavens. Polished brass gleams in startling contract to the dark wood. The ship is impressive and pulls a soft whistle from Varric. He watches as massive amounts of heavy white canvas is hauled onboard by dockhands, while the cook is overseeing the supplies and foods for the galley. A line of men waits patiently to speak with a dark haired elf holding a list.
“So, Isabela was telling the truth.” Varric turns to see Fenris leaning casually against a crate. “You are leaving Kirkwall.”
“Don’t worry, Elf, I’ll be back before you know it.”
“I’m not worried. I’m going with you.”
“And so am I.” a hooded woman approached the two men. She pushes the hood back to reveal a familiar dark haired mage.
“Sunshine!” He grins from ear to ear. “It’s good to see you out.”
“Hello Varric,” she smiles and quickly pulls her hood up, once again concealing her face.
“You’re not coming,” Varric’s face and tone serious.
“I agree,” Fenris interjects.
“Either of you,” the dwarf clarifies.
“Yes, I am.” Fenris and Bethany answer at the same time.
“No, you’re not,” Varric and Fenris say in unison. Fenris is referring to Bethany, while Varric is referencing the pair of them.
“Look, I need to get out of Kirkwall, just for a little while. The Templars are starting to make life difficult for my sister. We spoke last night and we both agree that my leaving is the best solution.”
“Sunshine, I don’t know what I’ll be facing, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be dangerous and as valuable as a mage is, at present there a lot of people looking for them.”
“Sister has been teaching me to fight, so I don’t have to rely solely on magic. She even loaned me her old armour, see?” She flips the cloak open and reveals the high quality Messenger Armour Hawke had collected a few years back. The dark crimson and tan leather hug her supple curves and cause both men’s jaws to drop. Marian has a slender, athletic build, while her younger sister was blessed with a more tantalizing figure and fuller breasts. Fenris cannot recall if Hawke ever looked so beautiful in that suit.
“Uh, Sunshine, you may want to close your cloak before you start a riot.”
“I know some healing magic, you need me.”
“Your staff will draw unwanted attention,” Fenris reasons.
“Mages don’t need staffs to cast. Staffs just provide extra focus, besides Sandal gave me a gift before he and Bodahn left for Orlais.” She produces the twin blades she has been learning to fight with and passes them to Fenris.
He takes one of the weapons and the warrior in him immediately appreciates the fine craftsmanship of the keenly honed blade, and the excellent balance. Hawke always did have an eye for swords. The lyrium in him; however, pulses in time the weapon’s enchantment. “They’re enchanted.” He doesn’t sound surprised, handing it back.
“I can use them as I would a staff. Well, in regards to casting anyway.”
“Yes, I can see how a fire spitting sword would less obvious than a staff,” Varric points out in his normal sarcastic tone.
“It’s too dangerous for you,” Fenris reasons.
“Maker’s breath man, I’m not a child, and unless you’re going to carry me back to Hightown, I’m getting on that ship.”
“Well, Elf, it sounds like we have no choice,” Varric says to Fenris. The elf nods in agreement and easily sweeps the mage off her feet and over his shoulder.
“Fenris,” she yelps. “What are you doing? Put me down!”
“I’m taking you back to Hightown,” he begins making his way through the crowd.
“If you do that we’ll both miss the ship.”
Fenris pauses and looks back at the dwarf who covers his face and hangs his head. This was Varric’s plan, which had just backed fired. Still carrying Bethany over his shoulder, Fenris closes the distance and glares at his short friend with an accusatory look upon his face.
“Fine, you can both come,” he throws up his hands in exasperation. Fenris gently sets Bethany back on her feet.
“Thank you Varric,” Bethany says her hands now on her hips.
“Holy shit…” Varric says, pointing towards the last member of their party.
“Indeed,” Fenris agrees, his eyes glued to the figure Varric is pointing at.
“What are you…oh. Oh my.”
Isabela walks onto the docks as if they are her personal property. Her dark hair secured under her signature blue head wrap, and her equally famous bosom is barely confined within her top. The black under bust corset that she’s so fond of wearing is sporting a new red ribbon, which draws the eyes back up to her notable cleavage. She’s also wearing a forest green captain’s coat with white and gold trim. Large black cuffs match the lapels and proudly display detailed gold embroidered swirls along the outermost seams. Nearly two dozen brass buttons run from chest to waist, with an additional six on the cuffs and each one glints in the early morning light. Every step she takes reveals a flash of the coat’s black liner, with more of the intricate embroidery along the lower hem. Her black, thigh high boots are nothing new, but the leather pants are. Brown doe skin pants seem painted on her legs, the hint of her dark skin peeking through the laced up slits on the front and outer side of each leg. This is not the pirate wench they have known all these years; this is Captain Isabela and she is here to claim her ship and crew.
She walks with a purpose as she makes her way to her companions. Upon joining the trio she immediately pulls Bethany’s hood back, revealing her face.
“Isabela,” she clutches at the hood, but the pirate refuses to release the fabric.
“Hello Sweetness,” she smiles. “Nothing is more conspicuous than a hooded figure on the docks.”
Bethany opens her mouth to say something, then promptly closes it and releases the hood, seeing the logic in Isabela’s words.
“Have you always had,” Fenris is pointing at her outfit, but cannot find the words that would make his question more polite.
“No, I won the coat last night in a game of Wicked Grace. I saw it and simply had to have it.”
“Um, no I meant, the uh…”
“The pants, Rivaini,” Varric finishes for the Elf. “Have you always had pants?”
She looks down at her leggings. “Yes,” she answers as if it were obvious.
“Then why haven’t you worn them before?” Bethany asks.
“Did you read any of those books I sent you,” she winks and a bright blush races across the mage’s cheeks. “It’s so much easier to reenact the naughty parts without pants.”
“But you’re wearing them now,” She points out.
“Of course I am. You think any of these scallywags will listen to a damn word I say otherwise?” She laughs and looks over at the ship. “She’s a lovely Galleon, plenty of cargo room, but it means that unless you want to share the crew quarters you’re all bunking with me. Except Bethany, she’ll be in my cabin regardless.”
“Bethany,” Isabela drapes her arm over the mage’s shoulders. “You’re a sweet, pretty, little thing that’s going to be trapped aboard a ship with a lot of men who haven’t seen a woman in quite a while. I think it will be safer if you bunk with me.”
“Exactly, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to talk to the Bo’sn.”
“The who,” Fenris asks watching.
“That guy,” she points to the elf with the list. “He’s what you might call a foreman…of sorts.”
“Well, while she’s doing that we might as well make sure our things make onboard,” Varric suggests.
It’s been four days out at sea, and Isabela looks as if she’d been welcomed back home. She’s a no nonsense Captain who takes her responsibilities to the ship and welfare of the crew seriously. There was only one snide remark regarding her gender and it resulted in a broken nose after which she placed her hands on her hips and asked if anyone else had problem. Remarkably, no one did.
Bethany still doesn’t have her ‘sea legs’ but other than that she’s having no problems with sea travelling or with the sailors. Isabela made it very clear what she thought about anyone bothering Bethany. The dark haired girl receives a couple of side looks and sneers, but no one says what they are thinking. In fact no one has even approached her, with the exception of one sailor, a human names Jaeden. He’s always respectful, but he’s also cautious to make certain Isabela’s attention is elsewhere.
Fenris is not dealing well with being on a ship. His first two days were wracked with horrible bouts of nausea and vomiting. On the third day Bethany makes him an herbal tea which calms his stomach, and eases his headache, but the elf still spends most of his time resting in the crew’s quarters.
Varric, like Fenris, has settled in the crew’s quarters, but unlike the warrior the dwarf quickly adapted to travel by sea. As troubled as Varric’s mind might be, he distracts himself by entertaining the crew with stories, playing games of chance and learning about ships and sailing by watching and listening to Isabela. Any hesitations or concerns he might have about seeing his lady love after so many years is buried by keeping busy. But at the moment, there’s nothing to do and no one to entertain. He stands by the railing and gazes out at the open sea. Despite his bravado he is worried about the reception he’ll receive.
“Thinking about Bianca,” Fenris joins the dwarf, leaning his back against the railing so that he can focus on something other than the roiling sea.
“Nope, just wondering how you survived your initial trip to Seheron.” It’s a lie, but the warrior doesn’t know that.
“I’d rather not talk about that,” green eyes soon find Bethany across the deck.
“Fair enough.” The two men enjoy a moment of silence. Fenris watches Bethany as she closes her eyes and savors the warm sun on her face. The wind toys with her dark curls and there is just the barest hint of a smile on her pink lips.
“You should talk to her,” Varric’s eyes never the leave the ocean.
“About what,” is the grumbled response.
“You like her.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Bethany. I see how you look at her. Like right now,”
Green eyes move from Bethany to Varric. “I’m just looking out for her. One of the sailors has been spending a lot of time with her.”
“You mean Jaeden,” Varric gestures towards the dark haired human approaching Bethany. They watch as the sailor casually leans against the railing and speaks quietly with the soft spoken mage. She laughs at his joke, and politely refuses the flask he offers.
“If he touches her I’ll break every bone in his body.”
“Spoken like a jealous man.”
“I’m not jealous. I’m looking after Hawke’s little sister.”
Bethany and Jaeden continue to talk and he casually reaches out to play with one of her curls. She smiles, a faint blush reddens her cheeks and she gently pushes his hand away.
“Looks like she has things under control,” Varric points out. The charming smile never falters on the sailor’s face as he continues to talk, trying to win his way into her underclothes.
“As with all mages, looks can be deceiving,” Fenris looks over at the dwarf. His disdain of magic creeps into his words, but doesn’t quite reach his green eyes.
“You don’t hate all mages. Listen, Elf, take some advice from a man who’s made mistakes…”
Varric doesn’t get to finish his sentence as there’s a loud shout, followed by a crash and screaming. All heads turn towards the commotion. A set of pulleys fell from the foremast where another sailor was working. The pulleys landed on Jaeden injuring his leg severely. Bethany is doing her best to stop the bleeding and calling for the ship’s physiker. Fenris and Varric rush over, but find they are of little help, like the other sailors clamoring about. Isabela runs towards the crowd, pushing people out of the way, the physiker close behind her.
“Get him below,” Isabela orders. Fenris helps the men move their wounded comrade while Bethany follows. Having assisted Anders in his clinic before going to the Circle, she feels certain she will be able to help without using magic.
“Everybody back to work,” she point up at the sailor who was manning the block when it fell and gestures for him to stand before her. “What happened, Tedrick?”
“I don’t know Captain. It just slipped from my hands.”
“And you weren’t using a safety line? Is that how you do things? Is it?!” She stands before the blonde human with her hands on her hips and her eyes flashing in anger. The First Mate stands with her, ready to carry out any punishment she deems fit. Varric is also standing nearby; he has never seen this side of Isabela and is very glad her wrath is not directed at him. He almost feels sorry for the lad.
The Sailor instantly straightens up, “no Ser.”
“Then why weren’t you using a safety line?”
“I don’t have an answer Ser.”
“Want to know what I think? I think you were getting an eyeful of Bethany and had your hand down your trousers when you should’ve been securing a safety line. Am I right?”
“Tomas,” she addresses her first mate.
“Yes, Captain,” his response it prompt and professional.
“Lock him in irons until we find out what happens with his shipmate, and his rations are revoked for tonight. I’m going to check on Jaeden.”
Bethany administers a numbing potion to the wound while Rawland, the ship’s physiker, collects his surgical kit. Fenris ushers everyone else out and stands back, guarding the door. She calms Jaeden down and helps him drink the remainder of the numbing potion while the physiker evaluates the damage. She assists Rawland, without being over bearing, and is prompt to hand over the tools he needs. She’s cautious not to ignore Jaeden and works her charm to keep him calm and still, while the physiker does what he can to stop the bleeding. Finally the numbing potion takes effect and the injured sailor passes out. Rawland praises the maker and uses his wrist to push a stray strand of blonde hair from his face.
Finally he can focus on the mangled mass of the lower left leg. “This ain’t good. Bone’s damn near shattered, there’s damage to this artery and this vein. I can’t fix this.”
“What are you going to do,” Bethany offers him a rag when he holds out his hand.
“I’m going to have to amputate.”
“There must be something else that can be done.”
“Sweetheart, I’m not a healer, I’m a physiker. I can set fractures, suture wounds, tend to fevers even do some surgeries, but I cannot fix a shattered bone,” He turns to gather the instruments he’ll need to the amputation.
“I can save the leg,” she blurts.
“Bethany,” Fenris warns.
“I have to try.”
“And what are you going to do little girl? How are you going to save that?”
She swallows, and settles the butterflies in the stomach. It’s risky revealing her magic, especially since word of Kirkwall has spread throughout Thedas. The Mages and Templars are on the brink of war, and currently there is a large bounty out on every wandering apostate turned in to any of the remaining circles. Worst case scenario they are killed outright and mages are always treated with suspicion. The door opens and Isabela steps in before Bethany can answer.
“How is he?”
“The leg needs to be amputated,” Rawland sets his large blade and bone saw down.
“I can save the leg.”
Isabela and Fenris look at her, silently advising caution.
“I can’t get him up and walking, but I can save the leg.”
“How,” Rawland repeats.
“Magic,” she looks him in the eyes almost daring him to say something, while hoping for acceptance.
“You’re a healer,” there’s relief in the physiker’s voice, and a slight smile on his face. It’s obvious that removing the leg was the last thing he wanted to do.
“No, but I know some healing magic.”
“So you can save the leg.”
“I think I can, but it won’t be easy.”
“You work on him, we’ll come up with a cover story to explain your exhaustion,” Rawland approaches Isabela and Fenris, correctly assuming they know her mage secret.
Varric remained on deck, certain that he would get all of the details later. He watches the crew bustle about, with more haste and purpose than before. His curiosity piqued, he grabs Tomas and asks about the commotion.
Tomas points to a dark grey, fuzzy line low in the skyline. “We got a storm on the horizon and if the wind doesn’t change we’ll be in it by nightfall.”
“How can I help?”
“Secure your belongings and stay out of the way.”
True to her word, Bethany was able to save the sailor’s leg. She collapses from the effort and Fenris is quick to gather her up into his arms.
“I’m sorry Fenris. I’m so sorry I can’t stop it,” her voice is faint and her words are muttered into his neck.
“I know Bethany. It’s all right,” his voice is gentle as he carries her out of the infirmary and up to her cot. He doesn’t need to ask why she’s apologizing; he can feel her drawing on the mana in his lyrium. He knows she’s not doing is deliberately, but she used so much mana that her body is seeking it out.
Rawland binds the leg in a splint and estimates the leg will be fully healed in about six weeks, but he should remain in the infirmary for a couple of days and would be fit only for light duty. Satisfied with the results, Isabela seeks out Tomas. She’s decided that Tedrick can spend the night in irons and return to his duties in the morning. She’s also going to update him on Jaeden’s condition.
Fenris deftly avoids the various crewmen rushing about to complete Tomas’ orders. He’s so focused upon the delicate woman in his arms that he’s oblivious to bustling bodies moving around him. He also misses all the talk of storm. She’s asleep before he reaches the Captain’s quarters. He lays her on her cot and removes her boots before covering her up. He’s envious of the peaceful look on her face as she sleeps, and pushes a stray curl away from her face, tucking it behind her ear. He finds himself thinking that he could be happy with her, but that thought is immediately followed by the thought that she deserves someone better. Knowing that Hawke does not disapprove of him being with Bethany helps, but many of his insecurities creep into his heart, preventing him from telling the mage how he feels.
“Hey Elf,” Varric barges into the room without warning, “you’d better secure your stuff. It looks like we’re about to be hit by a storm.”