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 one jump ahead, honor | bloomingtide 9:32
played by Alicia
EST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A40
Anone
P11 posts

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In the alley, out of sight beneath windows wrought in the older styles of Ostwick, Lara was finally joined by another. The Marcher stood tall, blocking the sun and casting a long shadow over her. The coin in her inner pockets, deliberately placed in anticipation of would-be thieves, seemed to weigh more heavily with the arrival. This was the last chance to back out, to cling to the weeks’ earnings with greed befitting some miserly mercantile prince.

Lara’s reluctance came as no surprise, but she’d deemed the steep price necessary not for maintaining a livelihood, but for more adventurous pursuits instead. For a break from the monotony of crafting poultices out of endless amounts of elfroot, from devoting most of her time to finding and preserving reagents for the most commonly requested tonics, some sacrifices were needed. Liberating herself of hard-earned coin would pay off eventually, many times over, even if staying optimistic proved to be a struggle.

After dragging out her silence, trying to make a point, she tore her gaze from the ground and looked up. She was always looking up, but it had never bothered her like it did now. Lara needed presence, not the disadvantage of a forced humility. “You’re late.”

They offered no excuse, only an infuriating smile. “Couldn’t wait to see me?”

“Never mind that, just hand it over,” Lara said. The pouch clinked quietly as it changed hands, the phials inside moving against one another, and the woman took a thorough look. The numbers checked out, and the deep colors said enough about the quality; seeds and specimens were wrapped with care in a soft cloth. The lines of Lara’s face softened as the inspection reminded her that she was paying for convenience. She had no desire to ever see the bleak Anderfels herself, would rather eat a hat or two than wither in some desert, so she dug into her purse and watched her gold disappear with a little less bitterness than before.

The exchange was short-lived, and the two parted quickly. Though their paths diverged, another meeting was inevitable the next time Lara traipsed her way through the coastal cities and hankered for things that were hard to come by on the road frequently taken. For now, she thought mostly of the present: of weaving her way through the less bustling streets of the prospering district, of tucking her spoils out of sight and going unnoticed while the summer sun followed her steps.

She turned onto a main street and quickened her steps, but only enough to stay in pace with passers-by; walk too fast, and one might look a smidge too suspicious next to the sprawling homes and watering holes of the wealthier citizens. A sharp left up ahead would take her down a tried and tested shortcut, and Lara turned again before ducking into the welcome shade. As she walked, the bustling sounds of social gatherings fading while the distance grew, she thought herself alone on the curving path.

By chance, when scanning the way before her, she caught a glimpse of a woman... on the ground, strangely enough for this part of town. Under other circumstances, she would’ve paid no heed, continuing with her eyes trained forward until she reached the end—perhaps sparing a curious glance if she felt daring. Now, Lara hesitated. In those seconds, she felt a surge of recognition. She stopped, she looked, and she saw.

As far as Lara could recall, it was the first time she found herself looking down at Honor, instead of the reverse.

“I thought you’d be up to something at this hour.” Ever the blunt one, Lara skipped the greeting by a mile. “Not waiting around to get stepped on, or,” she paused, squinting, “moping? Daydreaming? One of those.”

played by cherith
CST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A34
Aherald of andraste
P123 posts

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Her ass was sore from the fall and she looked back up at the house, the broken trellis and the closed window. Well, Johanna might've been cute but she wasn't worth the climb back up. Honor would just have to find her tomorrow and apologize. Something… came up. Family something… she'd figure it out. Maybe next time she'd even leave the window open. Or better yet, she'd meet Honor outside in the garden so she didn't have to make the climb.

Admittedly, she could use more practice. It shouldn't have taken her as long to make it up to the window, she should've been able to shimmy it open, and the snapped trellis shouldn't have made her fall. All things considered, she could've hurt herself worse but at the moment her pride hurt more than her rear end and she hated both feelings. Maybe, if she was lucky she could talk her father into setting up a practice course for her. Although then she'd have to explain why she wanted one and--

Well, now wasn't the time to come up with that kind of plan. She needed to get out of this garden before someone saw her. She already heard footsteps.

Honor looked around, putting her hands against the house, ready to stand. Feet. She looked up. Well, shit.

"Heyyyy." She grinned. This wasn't the best way to greet a friend, and she couldn't remember ever having to look up at the woman before, but here they were. "I… uh." She glanced at the house. "You've not found me at my finest moment. There was--" Honor pushed herself up, groaning a little and pressing her hand to her hip as she stood. Oh yeah. That'll be sore in the morning.

"There was a girl," she admitted. "The window was supposed to be open." She glared up at the offending glass, the snapped trellis crossbeam. "Lost my footing," she grumbled and let out a slow sigh. "Ugh."

She dusted off the back of her trousers and started walking towards the street. The last thing either of them needed was to be caught in the garden. Honor might be able to talk herself out of anything if the guard showed up and found them, but she didn't need the trouble. And neither did Lara. She smiled at the shorter woman and lifted a brow.

"I expect I wasn't the only one trying to enjoy herself tonight. What exactly were you getting up to?"


played by Alicia
EST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A40
Anone
P11 posts

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“So you fell?” Lara glanced once more up the window above, then to the damning evidence that had been left behind. She had no aversion to the sky, unlike the more fresh-faced of her kind, but there was no lost love for high places. Scaling a wall or trellis with little to no proper support, while fighting the urge to look down the entire time, was out of the question. “You climbed all the way up there?”

Somehow, she wasn’t all that surprised. Lara had met more than a few people who’d try something equally mad—and thrilling—for a girl or a boy or any chance of a good tumble with someone worth looking at. There were lengths even she’d go to, though they weren’t the same, and she’d caught enough glimpses of Honor’s boldness to wonder if the young woman spent all her time to such daring exploits. While Lara trudged along the highway or through the wilderness, the lady, with equal parts spunk and foolhardiness, could’ve been slipping into houses to steal kisses and secrets and other things of note.

“I’d hope it was worth it,” she said, “but I guess you wouldn’t know, if you’re stuck out here.” Here, in the dust of the streets instead of the warmth of sheets worth more than Lara’s weight in gold. Still, the dwarf wasn’t unhappy with this turn of events: she returned the smile, laughing out of amusement and a little bit of disbelief after sparing one more look for the damage, Honor’s handiwork.

As for her own day, Lara had little to share. To the unsuspecting eye, her detour was as dull as watching some stable hand shovel horse droppings. The actual details bordered on questionable, something she didn’t think Honor might object to if she was trying her hand at questionable activity, but Lara wasn’t the type to be so loose-lipped about her own affairs—no matter how delightful the company.

“Had a delivery to run, and something to pick up for myself. Nothing so exciting as your, ah, ‘excursion.’” Her smile had a teasing edge now as she gestured for her friend to join the retreat from what was likely an impossible challenge. “I’m sorry it came to an end so soon, but if you want to get anywhere with this breaking-into-houses thing, you should probably practice more. You might’ve been able to get in there if you hadn’t fallen, unless your lock picking needs work.”

No one could say Lara was an expert in anything like that, and she could barely stand for breaking tool after tool with nothing to show for herself, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t have higher standards for someone else. “You can do that, right? It’s not a terrible thing if you can’t,” she said pointedly, “but if the shoddiest door can stop you, there’s not much point in sneaking around…

“Unless you can prove me wrong, of course.”
played by cherith
CST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A34
Aherald of andraste
P123 posts

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"Fell… is a strong word." Honor gave her a sharp look of offense that was quickly replaced with one of pride as Lara looked up to the place where she'd pointed. Yes, it did seem quite high, especially so low to the ground. Though Honor was kind enough not to point that out, of course. The dwarven woman was bound to get a few chuckles from Honor's misfortune and honestly, she deserved to be laughed at. She should've done better. Been better.

"No, I sure wouldn't. Though now that I'm forced to think about it… it would've been enjoyable, of course, but perhaps not exactly worth the effort. Especially considering the damage to my pride that I'm currently experiencing." She grinned as she followed after Lara, getting out from the ring of soft light from the windows facing the garden. Her eyes narrowed a little as the other woman skirted around the specifics of her evening, but she supposed she should've expected generalities. Not everything one did under the cloak of night was for fun and profit. Or even just for fun, as hers as to have been. It was alright if she didn't get to know more.

However.

"Um. Excuse me? This was not about my skill at picking locks. How. Dare. You." Honor's mock offense was clear, but it also masked a small sting against her pride. The window had been locked, though it wasn't supposed to have been. Although, had she been able to work faster, maybe she would've been inside before the trellis beam broke and she lost her footing. When Lara had come along, she'd been accounting for the things she'd need to practice more and which should could still do at home and which might require more dangerous surroundings. After all, if she couldn't do any of these things under pressure, what was the point?

"Go on, give us a challenge then. I'll prove it." Besides, what was she going to do now that her original plans for the evening had failed. Go home? No, no. She had a free evening and she was going to make the most of it before her brother came looking for her. "And… drinks on you when I win."

played by Alicia
EST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A40
Anone
P11 posts

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“I must’ve been mistaken,” the woman japed, “You were just taking your time, surely, admiring the scenery.” Lara couldn’t hold a candle to the lousiest bard, but she kept a straight face. It was the snort that gave her away as she thought of the scenery, a sight that wouldn’t compare to the sweet face of whatever lady was kept waiting even now.

Lara, making her best effort, turned to Honor tried to level her with a challenging look even as she tried to keep in stride. “‘When’? You sound confident.” Although Lara was certainly more interested in whatever game she’d just started, in needling Honor with harmless jabs instead of honestly questioning her competency, she wasn’t about to let that slide. It was supposed to be a wager, and rolling over now would defeat the purpose—and, Lara thought with markedly less enthusiasm, ensure that she was definitely out a chunk of coin. At least if her tall friend managed to open a few doors or windows with more success than before, they’d both walk away with heavier pockets.

“The same confidence that you had earlier, I’m sure,” she said, grinning, “so you better be paying for drinks if I win. C’mon—and we’re splitting the spoils if I don’t.”

She took off right then, bounding a few paces before she turned back and added, “Fifty-fifty!” A starting point, doubtlessly unfair considering Honor would have the bulk of the labor, but Lara had nothing to lose from trying. Her thoughts jumped to Messere Greyforst, newly returned from a trip to Antiva and whose home had to be filled to the brim with trinkets ripe for the picking, and her heart pounded in anticipation. Fool, she thought, reining in the greed in favor of pragmatism. They ought to start off with something simpler for Honor to cut her teeth on, and afterwards the more ambitious.

Her legs couldn’t carry her that far ahead so quickly, but Lara didn't slow down to see if the other woman followed as she rifled through the alternatives. Some places were too far, others' residents were still paying her well, but then she stopped again, craning her neck to get a good, long look at the not-so-modest dwelling that was just begging to be chosen. No candlelight in any of the windows as far as she could see, no sounds, no movement on this side of the premises.

“There,” she declared loudly, not bothering to look for Honor, “that seems like a good place to start. I don’t know what’s inside, but I suppose we’re only counting whether you can get in or not.”

Pensively, Lara tapped her chin as she studied the building. "Maybe you should keep to the ground this time. Around front, or back here. I don't know, you can figure something out."
played by cherith
CST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A34
Aherald of andraste
P123 posts

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"Listen, here--" Honor's mouth was open for a moment, prepared to continue until Lara snorted. She couldn't help but chuckle at them both, a few giggles loosened by the straight face the dwarven woman had been holding. As the laughter subsided, Honor shook her head.

"Well, to be honest, I've suffered a great loss for the evening and I have to believe I can turn my luck around. Perhaps not in the way I'd exactly imagined…" she eyed Lara, wondering not for the first time if the attractive dwarven woman might take her up on one of her many, many offers. Not that she would ever need more from the companionable time they did spend together, but Honor had admitted both her curiosity and her interest and would likely do it again if they got to drinking tonight.

Might as well get it out in the open early.

"I am confident about many things, Lara." She looked down with a wink and a flip of her long braid.

The dwarven woman took off without her, challenge offered and accepted and Honor darted forward to catch up. She followed, eyeing the buildings they passed and trying to ascertain what it was about them that could be of use, or what made Lara move past them to the next one. Until they'd stopped and the small, squat house before them was selected for the task at hand.

Honor looked the building over. It was dark and quiet, and if they were honest, it barely looked lived in. The small patch of garden off to one side indicated that it was in fact someone's current residence, but Honor seriously doubted if there would be anything inside worth nicking once she made it inside.

A sidelong glance was thrown in Lara's direction as she mentioned sticking close to the ground. Honor made an exaggerated gestured towards her chest as though an imaginary dagger had been sunk between her ribs.

"You're right. I can." Honor didn't wait for well-wishes, picking her path and crossing the small lawn to approach the nearest dark window.

She listened for several long moments for voices or movement from inside. When she heard nothing, she moved along the side of the house to the other small window around the left corner. That side of the house was darker, under the shadow of an awning from a larger building next door. With a furrow of her brows as she concentrated, Honor slipped her fingers around the cracks of the wooden windows.

If this had been a real job, she would've brought oil to grease the hinges and wire to slip between the wooden slats and test for locks. She had none of those, but this house didn't look like it was up to offering that kind of challenge. In fact, as Honor pressed on the window to test it, it opened to the darkness inside with minimal effort. It was dark inside and the silence was heavy.

With a grin thrown in Lara's direction, Honor hoisted herself up on the ledge and then ducked inside. When she appeared a moment later, she was still wearing the grin. A loud growl emitted from somewhere in the house behind her.

Her feet hit the ground and she kept moving, jogging up to Lara and grabbing her hand to tug her along. "Run!"
played by Alicia
EST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A40
Anone
P11 posts

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Despite all of Lara’s jests that suggested otherwise, that confidence did shine through. First, it in was the subtle hints… once Lara finally registered where Honor was going, rather belatedly. After a wary sidelong glance, she let an acknowledging smile slip, one that promised nothing. When she couldn’t find the grace, the comfort, or even the wit to say something in return, she chose to forgo words.

(And what could she say? There was a greater thrill to find there, but she’d always dismissed it. Honor had better things to do, surely, and Lara had pages to fill, petals of crystal grace to press, or any other poor excuse that still left her to wonder what such company would be like.)

Next, it was in the way Honor dove in headfirst, but not without calculated movements. Lara had never sensed that confidence giving way to arrogance, and it was all the better to take cares, pay attention, and ensure a quick and quiet success.

But nothing was quite so confident as that self-satisfied grin, even if that moment of gloating was well-deserved. Lara only raised her eyebrows expectantly, trying to look unimpressed until Honor found something worth showing. But the feigned disinterest didn’t quite set in once she disappeared from view, and the dwarf eagerly stepped closer. She only made a couple of small steps before Honor’s surprisingly fast exit.

“What—” Lara was pulled backwards, her question forgotten as she heard the telltale sound of a very agitated creature. Her toe caught on an uneven stone, but Honor’s grip kept her from falling flat on her face and making herself an easy target. She had cause to be grateful for the quick thinking, but Lara, usually prone to finding faults first, had to give her a piece of her mind: “What happened? You were supposed to be quiet!”

She hadn’t waited before running her mouth off, but with a moment of hesitation, Lara would know she was being unfair. There were other things to worry about anyway, like getting out of there, keeping up with those longer legs, trying not to eat any dust or dirt in their mad dash. She did well enough keeping up at first, but in her frustration, Lara stopped suddenly, bracing her hands against her thighs as she greedily sucked in air. With a soft groan, and against every part of her being, she forced herself to jog after Honor along the more shadowed parts of the way. At the very least, she’d make it harder for someone to spot her from a mile away.

“Wait! ” she called out breathily, after a wary glance over her shoulder and down the lane. Only time would tell if four-legged doom followed them, if not the sounds carried on the nighttime breeze. "There, turn up there!" Unlike a woman born and bred in Ostwick, Lara couldn't claim to know the city like the back of her hand, but she thought the throughway would be safe enough. Ducking around corners and changing paths was better for survival than keeping to routine when it came to throwing someone off the trail.

But when the only sounds she could hear over the racing of her heat were her own footfalls, her own breathing, Lara couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity. ”What are we to do now? We can’t run forever, even if we try. Did you even—did you find anything?”
played by cherith
CST    mature content? Yes    Offline
           
GRogue
A34
Aherald of andraste
P123 posts

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Her hold on Lara's hand kept her from breaking into a flat out run. When Lara stumbled, Honor ignored her demands for information in favor of a wickedly broad smile and getting the dwarven woman's feet back under her. They couldn't sustain that pace forever and eventually Honor pulled forward, stopping only when she realized that Lara wasn't directly behind her.

She was pretty sure she'd startled the dog she'd seen as much as it had startled her and with any luck it had given up on them entirely. But when Lara called out a direction, Honor made the turn and waited for her friend around the corner. Her hands clutched her sides and she bent at the waist, catching her breath.

"Well. I think I won," she announced as soon as Lara was in sight. After a few more breaths she stood up and leaned her back against the building behind her. She let out a long breath and then a giggle as she saw the wild look in her friend's eye match the frantic feeling still bubbling inside her. "We find a tavern," she said between laughs. "Obviously."

When she could stay silent for a moment she risked a peek back around the corner, waiting to see if anyone was coming their way. When she heard nothing and saw nothing she nodded and turned back to Lara. "Nothing's following. I think we were equally surprised to see each other, he probably didn't even leave the house."

Honor looked down the rest of the alley and tried to make sense of where they'd gotten themselves to. All that running had probably been for nothing, but she was pretty sure a tavern was just a street or two over. If they took it slow and made a couple of unnecessary turns -- just to be safe -- it still wouldn't take any time to get to the drinking part of the evening. With a nod of her head she started off toward the opposite end of the alley.

She slid a hand in a pouch at her waist and pulled out a small Andrastian statue. The house had been full of long forgotten and broken furniture, dust and a dog that had been sleeping the night away. Aside from some other useless junk caked in dust, Honor had found a small wooden Andrastian figure. It was the same sort of thing they sold outside every chantry, something that could've been found in every house on the block if she'd gone looking. With a thumb, she wiped away some of the dust and held it out for Lara to inspect.

"I don't think anyone lives there, not even the dog I woke up. But, I did snatch this off a table before I came running." It was lame proof and she knew it. "It was dark and the first thing I put my hands on." She hurried to add, "I still won though. I got in and that was the bet!"

She led them down and around another block before crossing back up a major road to The Greedy Flagon. It was a small, run-down tavern but they had food and ale and crowd of rowdy locals. Once it was in sight she cocked her head at the sign. "Pretty sure no one's going to look for us in here."
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