one time I lived in a shitty apartment in a very fancy part of
Montreal. The grocery stores near me were either small organic
independent shops, or one large but expensive grocer. We’re talking
prices like $5, on sale, for a single red pepper. What I saved in rent
went to my food budget.
The stores could charge this amount because their regular customers
were very well off. Rich Montreal Quebecois have a certain air about
them. Rude, aloof, and full of themselves. Going shopping was a lesson
in patience until I learned how to amuse myself and not get flustered.
For some ungodly reason, the grocer was the socializing spot for
these rich people. Every isle had groups of people chatting away with
each other or had people on their phones. They would be sort of polite
and hug the walls, but they would never move from their spots. If I
needed a can of chickpeas, I’d point behind them and politely say excuse
me. So meek and unassuming- my downfall. They would hold up a finger
and imply that I should wait until they were done. They were never done.
After months of trying to get my shopping done in a reasonable amount
of time, I had enough. If they were going to be rude, I would be too…
but in the pettiest and most uncomfortable way possible. My new attack
plan was this. I would ask to grab the item, and if they didn’t move, I
would grab it anyway! But oh no, I wouldn’t just push past. I got way up
in their personal space. I would step as close as possible, with my
face right next to theirs, and reach with my arm on the other side of
their head. We might as well have been kissing, it was that close. Then
I’d move on and continue my shopping.
I made it a game- how uncomfortable I could make them but still be as
respectful and polite as possible. 10/10 would recommend. The looks on
their faces as they were forced to pause their conversations were
priceless. I’m just an ignorant English girl after all. No one ever
confronted me on my etiquette. And I cut my shopping time in half.
Tldr: shared breathing space with gilded statue shoppers to get my garbanzo beans.
The corners of the monument are directed to the four points of the compass, and the four façades are directed to the northwest, northeast, southeast. and southwest. The northwest face is the best preserved. You must imagine a gilded statue of the emperors in a chariot on top if it. All this is very common.
The decoration itself, however, is not, because it contains mythological symbols, like these griffins (winged lions with the head of an eagle). You will not find them in the spandrels of the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, or the Arch of Constantine in Rome. Here, the griffins are shown in front of Lucius Verus’ triumphal chariot.
Opposite the emperor, there are sphinxes, this time in front of the chariot of the goddess Roma, the personification of the eternal city. The inscription mentions that the monument was erected by a local magistrate (IIvir) named Gaius Calpurnius Celsus, dedicated to the emperors, and that the proconsul of Africa, Sergius Cornelius Scipio Salvidienus, and his legatus Vittedius Marcellus were also involved.
The main arches were to the northeast and southwest. In the niches, statues must have stood; one of them was found and tentatively identified with Lucius Verus. This suggests that there must have been a statue of Marcus Aurelius as well; the other two cannot be identified. Above the four statues were four medallions, which probably represented the four seasons. On the arch’s southeast façade, prisoners of war were shown.
As time goes on, I cannot help but wonder
if you were real
if you were really here
Were your arms always so welcoming?
Was your light always so blinding?
Were your colors really so brilliant,
was your voice really so soothing,
were our days really so gentle and beautiful?
Did I really know my way back to you
as easy as breathing
all those years ago
before skies grew dark
and I forgot how to navigate by the stars?
Or maybe, perhaps,
I have made you up
every glittering radiant bit of you
inch by small sparkling inch.
Maybe you are just
the painted figurine
of a desperate heart
than the wispy imaginings of
a wandering soul lost in the wild
a glorious statue gilded in gold
only found in the twisted entrails
of a tired memory steeped in longing
for something that never existed.
I saw this and just had to write on it. Thank you for the idea and permission.
‘Something unique… hmm, I can do that.’ Adrien mused in his head. “Hey could I borrow your camera for the night, I might just be able to do that for you.”
Marinette smiled, she had never quite gotten over her crush on Adrien, but at least since she had decided that if she was just going to be his friend she was going to act like a full on human being. Alya, of course, had a large hand in that, they had spent many a night practising. Adrien cleared his throat. She shook her head snapping out of her reverie. “Um, sure. The camera is nothing special, though. Just something my mum bought me for my birthday when I was younger.”
Adrien smiled that bright model smile at her. “Ya, but it’s important that the shots have the same aesthetic. You know I have been in front of the camera myself a bit.”
Berlin: Days of the gilded Victoria statue on top of the Siegessäule (Victory Column) are counted
Employees of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, whose windows are facing the statue have repeatedly complained about the bright reflections of sunlight disturbing them during their work. Car drivers approaching the roundabout around the monument have also cited blinding reflections from the statue as a reason for accidents. Indeed, accident rates have increased since the figure was restored and newly gilded in 2011.
Berlin officials have now decided to replace the shiny gilded original with a copy in matte finish. Whether the original statue will be displayed in a museum or simply be put into storage has not yet been decided.
Anahit was the goddess of wisdom, healing, fertility and water in the ancient Armenian mythology. In the early periods she was also the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity being worshipped in Armenia.
According to the website of the British Museum, the fragments (head and hand) of Anahit’s bronze statue were accidently discovered in 1872 by a farmer digging the land in Satagh, south-eastern Turkey. The head made its way via Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and Italy to the dealer Alessandro Castellani, who eventually sold it to the British Museum. The hand was presented to the Museum a few years later.
In Armenia, Anahit-worship was established in Erez, Armavir, Artashat and Ashtishat. A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit’s throne (Athor Anahta)
According to Plutarch, the temple of Erez was the wealthiest and the noblest in Armenia. During the expedition of Mark Antony in Armenia, the statue was broken to pieces by the Roman soldiers. Pliny the Elder gives us the following story about it: The Emperor Augustus, being invited to dinner by one of his generals, asked him if it were true that the wreckers of Anahit’s statue had been punished by the wrathful goddess. No! answered the general, on the contrary, I have to‑day the good fortune of treating you with one part of the hip of that gold statue. The Armenians erected a new golden statue of Anahit in Erez, which was worshiped before the time of St. Gregory Illuminator.
The sick went to the temples of Anahit in pilgrimage, asking for recovery. The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit. She is also a very powerful female symbol.
This drabble takes place about 13 years after Inquisition, and fairly soon after this one. I wrote it because there have been posts in the Fenris tag saying that creators shouldn’t make trans Fenris content so I have decided that every time there is a post like that, I am going to make some trans Fenris content to counteract the negativity with positivity for my fellow trans DA fans. Fenris is indeed trans here although it doesn’t come up very much.
The rooftop garden is closed for the winter so they have to sneak in, Fenris ghosting through a tucked-away door at the far end of the eastern wing and unlocking it for Hawke to come through. The stairs are dusted with snow and a little slippery; Hawke’s cane suddenly loses traction once and Fenris has to catch him as he flails, straining to heave his great weight upright again. The two of them collapse into each other, giggling madly.
“Thank the Maker.” Hawke kisses Fenris’s hair. “I thought we’d never get out of there.”
Fenris groans. “If I had to deflect one more question about Dumat’s death…”
“Hm.” Hawke nods thoughtfully as they ascend. “I do feel a bit badly for Aveline. Now she’s covering for us as well as Varric.”
Varric, of course, recoiled in horror the moment the word “Halamshiral” was uttered in his office; only with much stricken clutching of the chest and earnest desperation was he able to convince Aveline to represent him here instead. He is not fond of nobles, Fenris knows, and certainly not fond of five hundred of them gathered in one place, every one of whom wants something from him. Fenris has witnessed Aveline stoically absorbing numberless queries of Orlesian-accented “but where is the dear Viscount?” already this evening. And now as well “have you seen the Champion of Kirkwall, or his dashing consort?”
He will apologize after this. For now he and Hawke ascend into the night and cross the stone patio, a thick layer of powder breaking over their boots. The garden is dead—dormant, he supposes, the dense white-capped shrubs shorn of leaves, the spindly rosebushes twisting their questioning limbs into the air. To receive snow as answer, fine ridges building on each dark stem as if lain by some meticulous architect’s careful hand.
Gilded wood statue of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, embodiment of compassion. Unknown Chinese artist; Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE). Now in the Shanghai Museum. Photo credit: Mountain/Wikimedia Commons.
man i should take screenshots of all the game breaky stuff ive found… like the underwater statues under gilded hall and the redacted stuff you can actually reach someone showed me a while ago iin… oh man where was it, brisban wilds? celadon forest? it was a straight up lava pit and you could meander around and actually do puzzles
The Horses of Saint Mark is a set of gilded bronze statues of four horses that were originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga, a four horse-carriage used in chariot races. The horses date from classical antiquity, and are attributed to Lysippos, an extremely famous Classical Greek sculptor who specialized in bronze. Despite their classical origins, they are most famous for their place on the facade of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
The Horses of Saint Mark have had an interesting history of looting and theft. In the 5th century CE, the statutes were transported from the island of Chios to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius II. They were placed on the top of the famous Hippodrome of Constantinople, and stayed there until 1204 when they were looted by the Venetians during the sack of the city in the Fourth Crusade. They were then installed on the facade of St. Mark’s Basilica, and remained there until Napoleon’s conquest of Venice in 1797. The emperor forcibly removed the horses from the basilica and transported them to Paris where they briefly became part of the quadriga monument on the top of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The horses were returned to Venice in 1815 shortly after Napoleon’s defeat in Waterloo and remain there to this day.
Due to conservation purposes, the original Horses of Saint Mark were taken off the basilica’s facade in the 1980s and replaced with replicas. They are now on display in the museum inside the basilica. They are a wonderful instance of the use war loot throughout history, and a testament to people’s fascination with the past.
“The Plan for Greater Baghdad was a project done by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for a cultural center, opera house, and university on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq, in 1957-58. The most thoroughly developed aspects of the plan were the opera house, which would have been built on an island in the middle of the Tigris together with museums and a towering gilded statue of Harun al-Rashid, and the university.” (Wikipedia)
CAIRO — Tucked in a corner of the Egyptian Museum, a gilded statue of King Tutankhamen is badly broken, its arm detached and a mound of gold flakes chipped off its torso.
At least the statue — one of thousands of objects looted from museums and archaeological sites during more than three years of political unrest — made it back here.
Antiquities thefts spiked in the wake of the revolt in 2011 that ousted Hosni Mubarak and led to a security breakdown. Thieves robbed museums and archaeological sites, at times bulldozing land and bombing structures on top with dynamite, said Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna.
“They go and completely destroy the sites in search of treasures,” she said, adding damage was fast, mechanical and done by people trying to get rich quickly. Read more.
Other themes: friendship, minor pairings, family themes
Juvia, on her path to become a nun, unwillingly becomes the governess for the seven Fullbuster children. even more perplexing, is the certain pull she has towards the children’s father.
How do you solve a problem like Juvia?
How do you hold a rain cloud in your hand?
“M-mother Porlyusica? You called for me?”
Porlyusica wearily nodded and motioned for Juvia, her most
troublesome nun to be, to sit down at her desk.
“Juvia, I have a question for you.” She started, folding her
hands on her desk and leaning forward with intent.
“Of course reverend mother,” Juvia said earnestly.
“Why did you decide to become a nun?”
Juvia’s face twisted into that of a confused one, before
answering. “Well…when I was a little girl, I would always listen to the
sister’s sing in the abbey…I wished I could sing with them, sometimes. A-and
I wanted to follow the righteous path of god!” She added quickly, not wanting
the reverend mother to get the wrong idea.
Porlyusica sighed, dreading what she was going to have to
tell the eccentric girl in a matter of seconds.
you were late to chorus today.” She informed, even though Juvia was well aware
of her lateness.
very sorry! I went for a walk on the mountains and got…distracted…” She
realize that, and that is the reason why I called you here Juvia.” Porlyusica
Juvia mumbled unintelligently.
wanted to ask you if…you really, really…want to be a nun.” Porlyusica
blinked, not picking up on her subtle hint. “Of…course? I would not have come
to the abbey if this was not what I-“
Porlyusica interrupted, “I do not believe that this is your path.”
swallowed anxiously. “What…do you mean?”
believe that god intends you to do…something else. Something you will…excel
at.” Porlyusica said slowly.
excel at being a nun?” She asked quizzically, afraid to hear the answer to her
exactly. Which is why, I have made some arrangements for you to…broaden your
horizons.” Porlyusica phrased, folding her hands neatly on her desk with a half
guilty, half excited smile.
reverend mother? What kind of arrangements? You’re not sending me away, are
you? Am I in trouble?” She spewed off, her flighty instincts taking over.
no, no…I’m sending you on…well; think of it as a mission.” She explained
Juvia blinked, unsure.
I have decided to send you to be the new governess of the Fullbuster family
until September.” She released, letting the realization sink in.
But I have no idea-“
you will be simply brilliant with children! It will be an excellent experience,
and you will get a taste once more of what it is like to be outdoors. Perhaps
you will find that being a nun truly isn’t the path you desire.” Porlyusica
said peacefully, glancing at the lit candle towards the back of her office and
smiling blissfully. An abbey without the constant meddling of Juvia would be
quite different, and in a good, benevolent way.
Fullbuster is an honored member of the Austrian navy, retired as of now, but his
seven children are in need of a governess, and a nun was requested. Granted, no
nuns were available to leave the abbey, so you, my child, were the next best
thing.” Porlyusica monologued.
eyes bulged. “Seven children!? How in the almighty-“
sent her a pointed glare and Juvia shut her mouth quickly.
off you go! Pack up your bags, you are expected there early tomorrow morning!”
Porlyusica cheered, standing up and waving Juvia away.
mother, I can’t-“
daughter! May god follow you on your journey!” She bid, blessing Juvia as she
confusedly stumbled out of Porlyusica’s office.
the door shut behind her, Juvia felt the realization sink into her fair skin
was going to care for seven children.
sighed and hung her head. If she was no good at being a nun, how could she be
expected to do well as a governess?
was needless to say, that guitars are heavy.
discovered this after hauling it across the dirt road for the almost mile long
journey to the Fullbuster estate.
did her best to make light of the situation, kicking her heels up and kicking
dusty dirt piles high into the air. The guitar swung around, almost clipping
her knees several times, but she still swung it because it was fun.
trees dotted the side of the road, reminding her of the trees around the abbey
that were ridiculously climbable. She could bet all her money that the
Fullbuster children enjoyed these trees as much as she would’ve as a kid.
manor was up ahead, just peeking around the mountain bend. There was a winding
steel gate in front, making Juvia intimidated in the slightest. There was
something about cold, unforgivable black metal that put her off. The abbey
gates were warm and kind, weaving pretty shapes and always seemed welcome. The
Fullbuster gate couldn’t have been any more opposite.
tapped the metal, wondering if there was supposed to be someone there to greet
her. But, after a few seconds of surveying, she gently pushed the gate open, an
unwelcome creak following its movement.
nervously went on her way, trying not to look too feeble as she made her way
towards the front doors.
house was unbelievably gorgeous, the architecture modern in every way, with
balconies, and a porch, and a gazebo…absolutely stunning.
let her eyes wander, soaking up the gloriousness of the estate. She was going
to be living here for the next few months? It was almost
suspicious…these were the sort of people who could clearly afford a governess,
not some unqualified nun-to-be…definitely odd…
she brushed the oddness aside, because she’d rather see these people for
herself than judge them beforehand.
knocked on the door three times, leaning forwards and backwards on the balls of
her feet and swinging her bags to the tune of her favorite song.
on roses, and whiskers on kittens~
door swung open widely, revealing the anticlimactic inside of the manor.
would be lying if she said she hadn’t been expecting grand chandeliers and
gilded statues and monstrous paintings. But all she got was a grand staircase,
with dull cream colored walls and a few stands.
definitely have to change that up.
whirled around, accidentally crashing her guitar case into a flower vase.
Sorry, sorry!” She squealed, dropping her luggage in one hand and reaching out
to catch the falling vase. She managed to catch it, but not without
successfully splashing plant water all over her only dress.
The man said downwardly, unimpressed by Juvia’s bout of clumsiness.
you are,” he commented dryly, adjusting the flower vase back into its original
position. “I assume you are the new governess…?”
That’s me. I’m-“
be taking your bags.” He interrupted thinly, grabbing her luggage and glancing
at her guitar case with uncertainty. “You won’t be taking…that…will
looked down quizzically at what he was pointing at. “…My guitar? Of course! I
love playing it, and surely the children-“
children will take no part in music.” The assumed butler spat, gingerly
picking the guitar case up like it was recently thrown out trash.
Captain does not allow it.” The butler explained stiffly, before taking her
things up the staircase. “The Captain will meet with you shortly.”
Juvia said in a small voice. The Captain didn’t allow music? What a ridiculous
thing to ban! Was he simply against acoustics? If so, she had a lot to teach
him about the beauty of string instruments…
mindedly, Juvia drew her fingers across the petals of the rose in the vase she
had knocked over. Despite the uncomfortable wetness that now resided on her
stomach, the flower was safe, and just as beautiful.
see you’ve arrived.”
whirled around like she’d been caught red handed doing something dirty,
blushing profusely and muttering apologies under her breath.
am Captain Fullbuster, but you will call me Captain,” the man spoke, voice
resonating confidence and strictness.
Captain stood before her, at least a head taller than Juvia herself and
Juvia mumbled unintelligently, startled by how different the Captain appeared,
in contrast to the man she had imagined him to be.
Captain in real life, was the embodiment of tall, dark, and handsome. His dark
eyes were smoldering and impossible to look away from, and his dark hair framed
his face in a way that only royalty would be blessed with. He was definitely
strong, and tall…and pretty much everything Juvia could ever dream of in a
man…but that was not what she came here for! She wasn’t here to ogle her
employer, may he be a glorified naval commander, she was here to take care
of…all seven of his children…
had this man raised seven children! He looked like he had barely seen the
change of thirty years! How-
you always zone out like this, because if so, we are going to have a
huge problem.” He said icily, snapping Juvia out of her prolonged daze.
sir. Captain. Sir Captain.” Juvia stumbled to choose the correct words.
regarded her blankly, like she was some sort of imbecile.
I suspect you are the new governess…” He inferred, raising on eyebrow in almost
Juvia tested. It was going to be weird to have to constantly call someone
that what you’re wearing?” He asked with disgust.
She answered, unsure.
Put on a different dress.” He said curtly, covering his eyes like it was a
disgrace that his privileged eyes had to see her pitiful excuse for a dress.
haven’t another dress Captain sir. I mean, Captain.” Juvia stated.
why not?” He snapped.
arrival to the abbey, I was to donate all of my clothing to the poor.” Juvia
quoted for memory.
about…that?” He asked, gesturing at Juvia’s dress.
poor…didn’t want it. I can make my own dresses you know, but I wasn’t given any
material.” Juvia admitted slowly.
will be brought to you right away.” The Captain said with a suppressed
eye roll. Ugh. And to think she was attracted to this man a matter of minutes
You must meet the children.” He said heavily, like it was a chore to have to
introduce his children to the woman who would be caring for them for the
Captain took something out of his back pocket, something small and silvery that
reminded Juvia of…no, it couldn’t be…a…
Captain pressed the whistle to his mouth and blew three times, loud and shrill.
Juvia, to say the least, was completely confused.
even more so when children began appearing, out of nowhere, seemingly,
and rushing down the stair case to stand in a straight line in front of her.
was, once again, rudely interrupted by another impatient whistle blow. There
appeared to be a small gap in the lineup of children.
Captain, visibly upset, twisted his mouth into a frown and stormed towards the
living room, presumably to retrieve the final child.
only a few seconds of waiting, a small girl hurriedly scrambled into the line,
a splayed open book in hand and an irate Captain behind her.
Captain, before returning to his stationary stop next to me, lightly ripped the
book out of the young girl’s hand, and bopped her on the head with it. Really
I blow the signal, step forward and state your name.” The Captain stated
Captain tweeted the whistle shrilly, four long times and the first girl in
line, most likely the oldest, stepped forward and said the word ‘Lucy’ before
stepping back into place. They went along, each at the beck and call of a
certain whistle and strangely similar to that of trained puppies. The thought
frightened Juvia, ad she made note never to use that ridiculous whistle for the
you are.” Captain Fullbuster said, handing Juvia a different whistle
I may Captain, I’d prefer not to use the whistle…reminds me too much of
dogs.” Juvia protested peacefully, gently moving his hand back to his chest.
Everyone in the family is accustomed to their own signal. Observe.” The Captain
swiftly turned away and blew the whistle one short time, and then one long
shriek. The butler arrived shortly after, serving to prove the Captain’s true,
but no less abhorrent point.
off-handedly received the whistle, fingering it gingerly like a contaminated handkerchief.
well then. I’ll be off to Vienna
for the next week. The children eat at six, study until noon, eat lunch, exercise, then march until dinner
is served at precisely eight. I trust you will keep the utmost
strictness, and discipline, in this family, is key.” He explained,
before turning away towards the staircase.
thinking, Juvia pressed the whistle to her lips and blew as hard as she could.
entire room seemed to go silent, the already quiet children freezing up like
she had lit up a stick of dynamite.
How shall I call for you?” She asked, a little bit snarkily, if she did have to
at that moment, the glorified Captain Fullbuster gave her the dirtiest look
she’d ever seen.
will address me as Captain.” He snapped grumpily.
Juvia said with a shrug, pocketing the whistle with no intention of bringing it
out ever again.
“What an ass.” She mumbled, unfortunately loud enough for some of the kids to overhear.
children, awe-stricken, gaped at her in their spick and span line like she was
from a different planet.
“-tronomical asset to the Austrian army! Lovely…just lovely…” She finished quickly. The elder kids looked unsure, but the younger ones gobbled up her false cover up.
tell all of you the truth, I’ve never really been a governess before…so, why
don’t you all just tell me your names, and how old you are to start!” Juvia
nodded, clapping her hands together and motioning the oldest girl to go first.
stepped forward and cleared her throat. “My name is Lucy. I’m sixteen years
old, and I am far too old for a governess!” She declared, before stepping back
into line obediently.
can just be friends, I suppose.” Juvia bargained.
next child stepped forward, a young boy who looked a few years younger than
name is Jellal. I’m fourteen years old. Do you like spiders?”
particularly, but thank you, Jellal.” Juvia answered, and nervously regarding
his evil smirk with a reassuring nod.
next girl stepped forward. “I’m Cana. I’m thirteen years
old, and I hope to taste my first champagne by next month!” She said excitedly.
sure I can permit that…” Juvia admitted, but Cana simply
shrugged like it was no obstacle.
next boy stepped forward, much more sluggishly, like he was reluctant to do any
Gajeel. I’m twelve years old. I don’t really care, you’ll be gone tomorrow,
just like all the rest.” He said leisurely.
you…Gajeel.” Juvia thanked slowly.
next girl, short and cute, the one who had her book taken away, bounced forward
and leaned on her toes, reminding Juvia of herself.
Levy. I’m ten years old, and I think you’re pretty!” She chimed exuberantly.
thank you Levy, you are very pretty as well.” She praised.
next girl stepped up, with wild, pink, untamable hair that reminded Juvia of
herself, only very early in the morning.
Chelia. I’m seven years old, but I’ll be eight in three days, and I want new
shoes!” She exclaimed.
I hope you get them Chelia,” Juvia said, looking on to the final Fullbuster
child. She couldn’t help but notice that none of them looked alike, in any way,
shape, or form. Very strange…
The last girl murmured, holding up five fingers diligently.
nice to meet you Wendy.” Juvia greeted. “And…are all of you…related?”
the eldest, scoffed. “Of course not, are you daft? Mother couldn’t have
children, we’re all adopted. Now if you excuse us,” Lucy swept past Juvia,
leaving a faint breeze in her wake.
a tip, since you are a new governess, make sure you always tell father
to mind his own business!” Cana jeered.
yes, not to would be extremely rude!” Jellal joined in.
never arrive to dinner on time! That would be simply atrocious!” Gajeel chided.
be nice, all of you! I like her!” Levy argued.
did she even get that dress? It looks like it was sewn by a blind horse!” Cana
Real nice kids.
Juvia’s time had only begun, she could already tell that this family was going
to suck the life out of her.
what what what am I doing
sidenote: I picked those characters as the children for reasons.
Gladiolus, Merribela for the flower meme please ^___^
You pierce my soul
I came back, Isabela thinks, grimacing as the chill stink of the dock settles over her skin, the annoyed mutterings of her crew (”we just fucking left this hole, didn’t we?”) pricking at her as they swarm over the ship that still feels more like Castillion’s old lady than hers.
Why did I do that?
The thought is sneaky, edging in around the warmth of Varric’s “Welcome back, Rivaini,” and Hawke’s general state of not-deadness. It shows up when the card games are done, when Anders eyes the tavern’s door with half a plea swallowed down and a panicked grip on the table’s edge.
(”Stay,” Varric says. “You always can.”
“I can’t. I…I shouldn’t…I–” a jerk of his chin and blue light through his cheek, that long throat working around two voices and new grey in his hair,He leaves, straight backed.)
It follows her as she watches Hawke and Sebastian speak with Elthina, Their words moving together and apart and over the top of one another in ecclesiastical ecstasies that make Isabela want to smash the nearest statue into gilded dust.
I came back, she thinks, eyes fixed on the Chantry crossbeams, boredom leaking out in sweat. Why did I do that?
The thought follows her up the Wounded Coast, the water reaching up the shore in teasing frills of sound and she listens to Merrill’s weary deflection of Fenris’s barbs and Anders’s jeers.
Bloodmage. Foolish girl. Monstrous child. Merrill listens to it all, head tilted, lips smiling, and Isabela wants to push them all into the sea.
I came back.
Isabela’s hands hurt from trying Merrill’s door. She’s pounded and lockpicked and jimmied with no joy at the end. Whatever wards her friend has in place are powerful little beggars, spinier than anything Anders has put around the Darktown Clinic and changing–always changing–so Isabela is left with splinters in her nailbeds and a small, but insistent, headache.
“Let me in, kitten,” she says.
Merrill’s door is like this more and more, over the year. Working, she says. She really must get working. The clan has been up in Sundermount far too long, and if she doesn’t–a shaky smile and quick-lowered eyes, while Hawke hisses over the shiny burnt skin at her wrist; splash marks covering the back of her hand,
(“Did I do this?” Hawke asked then, strangled and angry. “Helping you with this mirror of yours, did it–”
“–Clearly I did it, Hawke.” A small shake of the head, one braid near-unraveling. “This is just from all the hot glass. Very foolish of me, but you don’t need to worry about it. )
Why did I do that?
The door opens on a whisper, Merrill reaching for Isabela with strong, too-warm hands, backing them both into her front room.
“Please stop, lethallan. You’ll hurt yourself.”
“Bah,” Isabela says. She’s off balance, which is wrong, but Merrill’s smiling, which is edging toward right. “Flesh wounds. What about you?”
“Do I have any flesh wounds?” Merrill asked. “Not new ones, why do you–oh.”
Isabela is the one who pulls Merrill close, but, as Merrill sighs and stretches and her arms twine thin and strong about her back, breathing easing to match her own, the pirate is the one who feels as if she’s being held.
“Are you all right, Isabela?”
“I just–” she groans. “I’m not going to go all silly about it, kitten, but I wanted you to know that I’ll come with you, whatever you’re doing with that ugly mirror.”
“Oh.” Merrill says. Thank you and I’m really very tired all trying to make their way past the small sound. “It’s not really ugly, is it?”
“It’s a bit…” Isabela releases her, raising her hands and bracketing them both, fingers doing their best to twist into curlicues. “Big. But…I’m here for you. All right?”
Stupid words. Risk and ruin and she could have gone, could have been charming gold off Nevarran princesses and slipping past oracle aunties across Rivain, but she’s here. In Kirkwall. With too little sleep and too little warmth and a draft curling in up under her top from Merrill’s blasted doorway.
She could have gone.
I came back, she thinks, as Merrill’s eyes grow wide and a blush creeps up along her throat and over her cheeks. Not embarrassment, knows. Merrill’s hands are steady, and so is her breathing. She reaches up and entwines their fingers, pulls Isabela’s hands back down until they are clasped between them.
Merrill is not embarrassed. Isabela’s the one starting to squirm, unable to look away from the freckle at the corner of her friend’s eye, the sweet line of her lower lip. A tiny scar on her chin. Merrill is looking at her with a relived and weary joy.
“Thank you,” she says, tugging their hands apart so she can cup Isabela’s cheek.