View unanswered posts | View active topics
Women do not become exhausted, they only exhaust others. -Elder Haman
Re: Barrels at Sea
As soon as Master Finek finished his report, he dashed off, shouting orders and weaving between the crew of The Hearty Fools, taking the higher ground of the forecastle. “Arm yourselves, men!”
Crew from the Sea Rover were beginning to swing over on lose tie-lines, even as the gangplank was dropped into place between the two ships and sailors swarmed across. Justen paled as he mentally calculated the Sea Rovers numbers once again. They were highly outnumbered, and it did not sound as if the cannonade would stop once the bulk of both crews were upon The Hearty Fools. Bits of his ship rained down on his bared shoulders and he flinched as a few of the pieces dug into his skin.
It was an uneven battle that he would lose if he did not do something quickly and drastically.
Justen strode purposefully to the edge of the ship, planting his feet in a defensive stance. Light flashed before him, fire rising off the open ports of the other ship- cannon fire- partly blinding him. He stumbled as the metal balls tore into his ship. Pieces of the railing showered his face. He instinctively covered with his forearms.
The terror and noise around him slowed as he drew himself inward, cooling the rage that burned in him until it was a gentle boil. The small hairs on the back of his neck rose and he turned his gaze ever so slightly toward the bow. Master Finek still held his place on the higher platform. A second plank had been drawn between the two ships. Crew from the other ship took advantage of this mostly unguarded one. Unarmed, hands on hips, The Hearty Fools first mate stood as they swarmed around him, moved past him, and engaged the determined crew in sword fight.
When the first mate's steely gaze turned to the deck, Justen had already turned his attention from the red haired man.
Ignoring the burning from a dozen small cuts, he moved precariously close to the missing section. Closing his eyes, he drew his focus, blocking out the sounds of men yelling and wood splintering as The Hearty Fools finally returned fire. He dropped his rage, he dropped the fear that was causing his heart to beat too quickly in his chest.
In his mind he reached out his mind he reached out tentatively grasping saidin. It was not a tame animal that liked to be touched and it burned him as it sunk its teeth into him. Still, he fought it to do his will, knowing precisely the trick he wanted it to do. Weaving carefully, blocking out the screams and sounds of battle around him, he worked.
At first he knew it appeared to those around him that nothing was happening. Sweat poured down his brow, mingling with seawater. When it finally did manifest, no one was quite prepared for it. Though he did not see, all movement stopped aboard The Hearty Fools as the sea let out a guttural growl, like a beast that demanded to be set free.
A second, more vicious growl was let out before three columns of water leapt from the roiling sea. They speared into the air high about the masts of the Sea Rover, hot geysers of wrath. Misting water rained down on both ships, obstructing the true terror that was about to happen. The three watery towers stayed there for a long second; quivering and roiling like watery tentacles before twisting and turning their end points downward.
As one, they speared into the enemy ship. Wood from the center of the deck splintered. The Sea Rover's scream was much more sharp and painful than any The Hearty Fools's had been. The arc of the spears hit the deck of the ship and broke like terrible rogue waves. Men screamed as they were washed off their feet and washed over the rails or into the newly opened hole in the deck.
The Sea Rover reared in the water several feet as it was released from the downward thrust. It bobbed in the water and began to lose its height. Justen did not need to see to know that the ships bottom had been opened.
Justen found himself being pulled forcefully backwards as the wave from the stricken vessel's downward then upward bob hit the side of The Hearty Fool and she keeled dangerously in the water, back and then forth. He fell to his knee.
Looking over his shoulder, he found Ayrowa clutching the cloth at his waist, her face pale. His face coloring slightly, Justen gingerly readjusted the tower so it would not slip off. His muscles burned from the short movement as several raw cuts made their presence known, now that his attention was not so singularly focused.
Behind them, there were metal clinks and he looked over his shoulder. On deck, the soon-to-be-orphaned crew of the Sea Rover were dropping their weapons and surrendering, their hands in the air. Justen and Ayrowa were at the middle of the aft, other crewmembers, picking up on the wise nature of the woman's actions, had finished cutting them free from the doomed ship.
Justen heard his first mate's voice calling out for them to bear away, bear away from the doomed ship! The Sea Rover was sinking quickly and if they did not move their ship would be pulled down into the Deep Blue as well.
Justen turned his head. Master Finek was making his way quickly toward him, a grim look on the first mate’s face. Why? Why was he disappointed that the out numbered and poorly armed merchant vessel had not been the one to be destroyed? Why had he not taken up arms? Why had they swarmed around him, leaving the first mate unscathed?
Justen had to look away, lest his suspicions give him away. He was in no mood to try and hide the rage and betrayal in his eyes. He turned his sight instead on the quickly sinking ship. The few men who had not been washed overboard when the water washed over the deck were running about, making haste to abandon ship. Dinghies were being lowered into the water. Others did not bother to wait and simply leapt into the water.
Cool mist fell upon the Trizidad's face and he raised his face thankfully to it, letting it cool the heat of his body. At first he thought it was raining. Then he realized it was the spray from the quickly sinking ship. Watered down blood trailed lazily down his arms and fell to the deck.
Still kneeling behind him Ayrowa pointed out, "You are hurt." His ears still rung mightily, but he heard her voice because she shouted in his ear.
He eyed the two-inch shrapnel sticking out from his tanned skin, "I am alright." He grunted as he shifted his weight and found it difficult to rise. "Help me to my feet," Justen did not want to meet Finek lying down.
It took several seconds of her looking at his wounds before she seemed to find an angle that would not interfere with his multitude of wounds. She propped herself under his arm. He winced at the combined heat that their touching bodies made. He felt it would burn him. She leveraged them to their feet and his head swam with dizziness.
He nodded a dull thanks and forced himself to stand on his own two shaky feet, moving woodenly away from her. His tongue felt as if it took up too much space in his mouth as he shouted for the ship to make a slow circle around the ruined ship. Though the possibly unexpected and not wholly unwarranted attack on his ship gave him the right to leave the crew of the Sea Rover to flounder into their deaths, he found he could not make himself be that much of a bastard. Besides, perhaps one of them could shine a light on exactly why the damned ship had returned.
They would not be able to scoop the living crew out of the Deep Blue until the other ship had finished its watery descent and its pull had largely resolved itself. Both lifeboats appeared to have been successfully launched- they bobbed in the water. They had no obligations to the men who found shelter in those either. If they took turns they might make it to shore, but it was a certainty and Justen knew the thirst and hunger those men would suffer before making it to shore. Theirs would be a longer death than those in the water, if they were left to their own.
He moved to the raised platform on the back of the ship, as much to escape an immediate confrontation with the first mate as to get a better view of the situation. Orders were shouted and the crew from the Sea Rover were rounded up and herded below, their weapons confiscated and stowed.
Leaning on the damaged rail of the quarterdeck, he gazed down at the movement on deck. Men from both ships glanced up at him as they went about their work. There was tension in the air and he was not wholly sure he was not the cause of it. Now that he got to thinking about it, the water warfare that had just taken place had not exactly been fair. Justen scowled. He had no reason to spare the other ship for its dirty early-morning tactics.
Still, and Finek rose sharply in his mind, he did not want to deal with crew he did not trust, and who did not trust him. He glanced at the first mate, who had been delayed at reaching the Trizidad by other matters. He was climbing the stairs now, however, and would be upon Justen in a matter of seconds.
Making a split decision, Justen gripped the railing tightly, driving more than one splinter more firmly into his flesh. He focused on the pain as he raised his voice and called over the ship, "I am what I am. You all heard rumors of them before we set sail. They were confirmed before the Sea Rover made first contact. You know I am an Asha'man. And now you know what I can do," some, anyway, he thought grimly, "You have a choice to make. Either you can remain as my crew, or you can join the salvaged crew of the Sea Rover in the hold. I will think less of you if you continued under the authority of a man you do not trust."
Falling silent, he stood for a long moment, seeing the results of his declaration. His men hesitated only briefly, looking at each other, before continuing to work. Exhausted, and momentarily satisfied, Justen sat to sitting upon an upturned barrel with a heavy sigh.
Re: Barrels at Sea
Ayrowa studied Justen's determination as he laid his admission bare before all of his crew, and those who floated in the nearby waters. It did not trouble her to be associated with an Asha'man. After all, she had spent a few months among a good number of them, and had never once felt troubled or worried for her safety. The twists and turns the path of her life had taken had forced her to trust the kinds of people that many within these lands did not. And when you were alone, as Ayrowa had found herself when she had become separated from Ludoc, you had to rely on others and trust that most people were good, and would do the right thing when it counted.
The heavy sigh that issued from the captain's lips snapped the soldier back to attention. He needed seeing to. There were cuts marking his arms, and some still held pieces of wood that would have to be removed. The little bit of clothing that he wore was tinged pink from his blood. Not only would someone need to tend to him, he would need a good day's rest to start feeling like himself again. And one thing was for certain, he did not need Lady Aietu fluttering about him putting on airs, acting as though she was helping when she was really just putting on a show and trying to ingratiate herself. At least the woman was absent for now, thankfully.
Justen issued an order for The Hearty Fools to swing about and begin the process of gathering the men in the water who wished to be saved. She walked over to his side. He glanced up at her as she approached, a tenseness visible in the workings of his jaw and the injured arm that he used to balance himself on the barrel. "At least they had lifeboats. I wonder if they would have shown the same courtesy and fished us out of the great blue, or just left us for sun stroke, dehydration and sea-creature-fodder." He paused, looking up at her again. "It was not your fault."
The morat'raken had expected he would say such a thing and was ready to tell him otherwise, but she knew he did not need a disagreement right now. Instead, she told him, "If there is no doctor upon this ship, I have been known to wield a mean sewing needle."
"Yes..." he eyed his arms critically.
"Hopefully you have something stronger on your boat than wine. You are going to need it." Too bad I haven't any oosquai.
"I do not dare. There are still some things I need my wits for."
She followed his gaze as he took in some of the men treading water in the deep blue. "Let your first mate deal with the fish in the sea. Come below with me."
He chuckled. "Now you are sounding like Lady Aietu." The thought made her laugh softly as he sobered. "Tell me what you need I will tell you where it is at and you can fetch it. There is a needle and thread in the center drawer of the desk in the head. I saw some hard liquor in there as well. Ask Cook where the extra linens are, I have not spied them yet. I will remain up here. The men can watch me squirm. I will try not to pass out," he added with a tight smile that did not quite reach his eyes.
"I am not one of your crew that you can boss around," she joked, trying to bring the light back to his eyes. When he remained silent to her, she retreated, finding the items where he said they would be, asking Cook and finding him knowledgeable on what the captain had not suggested she would need.
When she made her way back on deck, it required some effort on her part and some bit of persuasion to wrangle him back to the barrel. He had taken it upon himself to shout orders and move about to make certain that they were being completed, and in the process, he was speckling the wood with drops of blood to mingle with the droplets of seawater and splinters of wood that already covered its surface.
Settling all that she would need nearby, she uncorked the bottle of light brown liquor and poured it over the captain's forearm, making him wince. His eyes were not drawn to the wounds, however. Instead, he cast a ferocious gaze at something--or someone--behind her. As she worked, curiosity got the better of her after a time and she gave a glance over her shoulder but saw nothing to warrant such an outward reaction. Perhaps it was the pain, she considered. But Ayrowa had a feeling it was not true, that there was indeed something wrong that she was missing.
When she was finished removing the last of the splinters and his forearms, along with one shoulder and part of his chest were wrapped in thin strips of linen, she noted the beads of sweat on his forehead as he nodded. Being in the army, she had been around enough men to know what that meant. She was dismissed. While the soldier was confused and concerned, she retreated, keeping one eye on the Captain's odd behavior.
The peace that she had bought with her thump on Anton Coreval's neck seemed to be shortlived, Ayrowa realized, as he presented himself in front of her once again with a leer that indicated his enjoyment of her dampened appearance.
"Lerine, You sure patched the cap'n up nice. I have a wound I'd like for you to patch. Love to show it to you, luv'..."
The Seanchan gave a sigh and ignored the saucy undertone in his remark, or else she might have been inclined to slap the man. It was easy enough since he wasn't using her real name. But then, undaunted by her silence, he kept talking.
"Listen, you look as like you might could use some rest." He leaned an arm against a solid part of the ship and eyed her askance. "An' perhaps some company after this dangerous ev'nin? You kin rest yer pretty little head on my shoulder..."
It took all that was within her not to snap at him--she could not hold in the irritation that he was really bothering her again after all this. "Do I look like a scared little girl to you?"
"Well, no, I--"
"Then I don't think your companionship will be needed," she broke in. "Although," she added after a thoughtful pause, "you might want to go check on that delicate noblewoman. She could be in quite a state." When he wandered off, presumably to do just that, Ayrowa smirked a little to herself.
Wandering the ship to see the damage for herself, she continued to keep an eye on Justen, though was careful to stay out of his way. Her attention was finally rewarded when the man's jaw stiffened with resolution of his decision and he pushed himself to his feet.
"Master Finek, I am relieving you of duty. I would appreciate it if you retire to your quarters and remain there for the remainder of this trip."
Something that was not quite surprise flashed across the first mate's face that left a foul feeling for Ayrowa. "I beg my Captain's pardon?" he said too loudly--as if he wanted to draw attention to himself--and several of the seamen milling about slowed their pace to view the confrontation. "Would you care to repeat that? I fear the cannon fire has affected my hearing."
It had to hurt for the captain to cross his arms as he did, tightening the strips of linen...perhaps it was to reinforce his decision. Ayrowa remembered the look on the crew's faces when they had seen the gold and red pennant of the Asha'man flying high above the sails. After watching him demolish the Sea Rover with apparent ease, their superstitious fears clearly lingered.
The tightness of his jaw told her Justen realized this as well, as did the red haired man he faced. Ayrowa thought to interject something, but she had already been dismissed once today and she did not plan to have it happen again.
"I would see you in my head, sir."
Finek smiled and bowed shortly before turning on his heel. Ayrowa did not think she should follow. It was not her business. But then Justen caught her eye. A small twist of his head told her he wanted her to come as well.
She followed, but stayed a few steps behind the men so as not to draw too much attention to herself as she moved behind them on deck towards the head. There was no telling how it would look to the ship's crew if she trailed along directly. Allowing some time to pass, she finally stepped into the captain's head to the sound of accusations flying. It took a while for their war of words to subside enough for Finek to even notice she was there.
"He is delirious! And exhausted," Finek told her, as if she did not already know.
"You try sinking a ship by your onesome and see how weary you become."
"Look at him!" the first mate demanded, but Ayrowa did not have a chance to speak.
"Do not bring her into this," Justen told him brusquely.
"You brought her into this and the lunacy for which you speak is making me pull my hand. I will do what I think best for this ship and its crew."
"And its unexpected passengers?"
"Listen to him, will you?" he implored Ayrowa, with a wave of his hand in the captain's direction. "He is not well. The fever is already setting in."
"The only thing that is tired and unwell is my patience for you. You sent the letter to the Sea Rover. You brought them back. But one thing I did not see was you fighting."
Ayrowa gaped. He had probably also killed the pigeons, and then stood there and lied to both of them. Right to their faces!
"That is insanity. Of course I fought for the lives of the men on this ship. Listen to yourself. What you say makes little sense. The only thing hot in here is my anger." Justen brought the man's words to a halt by grabbing the front of his shirt.
"We need to get him restrained," he spoke to her again. "So he may rest. Just listen to him, for the love of the Light! For all you know he sent the message to the Sea Rover so he himself could claim the reward money for your capture. Together we can take him, he is not a match for the both of us. Not in his condition."
Justen's behavior was not that of someone with things to hide, of that Ayrowa was certain. However, the first mate had never been an open book. "I agree on one point--he does need his rest. He doesn't need this bickering on your part."
"Think about it. He has been nothing but friendly to you. Why is that? Because he does not want you to spook. A willing captive is an easy captive, is that not right, Captain?"
Justen looked at Ayrowa, anger and suspicion in his eyes, "Do not you dare." It was clear that he was incensed at the idea that he was putting up a false front in order to merely turn her in.
When that tactic did not seem to work, Finek blurted out, "I will ruin your family's company!"
"If you survive this experience," Justen countered smoothly.
Finek's face went as red as his hair. "Are you threatening me?"
"I do not see how that could be taken any other way."
"If anyone should be locked away, it is her. She is a murderer, you know."
Not yet, Ayrowa wanted to clarify. The man lived. Unfortunately. But instead, she said nothing, though her own cheeks colored from the effort of staying quiet.
"My own hands are not without stains. We did not manage to save all the orphans of The Sea Rover, and I suspect yours are not pristine either."
Finek let out a laugh. "Suspicion is not proof. There is proof, however, that one Ayrowa Lerine Kathan made an honest attempt at her superior's life."
"An honest attempt is about the distance you went to see that The Sea Rover returned and tried to sink us to the bottom of the ocean," Justen smiled, and it was not a pleasant smile. Ayrowa almost wanted to smile too, after that riposte. "What is your purpose?"
Finek glared from one to the other, his head swiveling. "There is a price on her head. We could be rich men." That sounds about right. I wouldn't put it past Atros to think he could buy me back. That's how he behaves. Looking at Finek, she added to herself, And this man seems to think in a similar manner.
"And that is worth the lives of every man on board?"
Re: Barrels at Sea
She was indeed deft at sewing. At the same time, he could see her weapons training coming out in the way that she stabbed him with the needle each time it entered his skin it looked like a carefully aimed death jab. No doubt she would put a few of the knife wielding Aes Sedais he knew to shame.
He held himself still through her administration. The wounds hurt, as did her needlework. But that pain was mild compared to the pain of betrayal that burned in his chest. His mind whirled, trying to make sense of the first mate’s actions, to clear him of the trespasses he suspected Dazon Finek of committing. But it all seemed to make a sick sort of sense. Perhaps on pigeon escaped the slaughter indeed…
She stopped her administrations and he brought his attention back to her hand resting gently on his new bandage. He nodded his thanks, as well as to stop her from making further suggestions that he retire below. Ayrowa moved away and he sat in silence, letting the first mate make sure his orders to swing about and begin to disarm and sort the Sea Rovers crew into the hold. Justen studied the first mate. He had the niggling suspicion that the man would finish what he had attempted to start once Justen was tucked out of sight.
“Master Finek, I am relieving you of your duty. I would appreciate it if you retire to your quarters and remain there for the remainder of this trip,” as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Justen regretted not pulling the man aside first. There was malicious intent in the first mate’s gaze and he feigned being hard of hearing. Justen worked his jaw. If his men were leery enough of his Asha’man powers, now that they were boldly evident, they might strike a mutiny against Justen. It appeared the first mate was hoping for exactly that. “I would see you in my head, sir.”
As he looked over the faces of the crew on deck, trying to gauge their allegiances, when his gaze landed on Ayrowa. So much of this she blamed on herself. Even if she was the reason for Finek’s underhanded dealings, she could not take on the blame herself. The man had put the ship in peril. And for what?
Justen was about to find out.
Dazon Finek preceded him into the room. Still, the man was seated at Justen’s desk when the Trizidad pushed through the door. There was a satisfied look on the man’s face, even though The Hearty Fools still floated, and the Sea Rover was even now coming to rest on the ocean floor and the captains suspicions were coming to a head. Did the man have other plans up his sleeve that Justen did not know about? Was there more than one ship on their battle horizon?
The captain almost turned to leave, to check from the crow’s nest for himself whether they were safe. But his mind could not think on how two messages could have been delivered with one bird, if Finek had used the bird at all. Perhaps it was as he said, and he had simply spared the one carrier and his devious nature started long before they had pulled out of port.
He turned back to the room, throwing his back against the wall. “Let us have it then. What do you have to say for yourself? Just how long have you been against this ship.”
“Not once, captain,” the first mate spoke lightly.
Justen sneered. “Do not give me that. Do not think me so addlebrained that I can not add the simple math together. How much of this ships run of bad luck did you have your hand in?"
"What are you accusing me of, exactly?"
"The carriers. The anchor," Justen counted them out on his fingers. "The Sea Rover."
"You have proof for none of it," the first mate sat up in the chair.
"I know what I saw, just now."
"Oh, and what would that be?"
"A deliberate slack on your watch. Even in the darkest of nights a mate should be aware-nay! more aware!- of the things lurking in the darkness. It makes me believe that your missing the signs of the other ship was intentional," Justen felt his face growing hot. He barely acknowledged when the door open and another entered the room. "The other crew did not seem interested in engaging you in battle."
"I was unarmed," the first mate shrugged.
"And why was that?"
"We were out numbered. I sought simply to end the waging of the battle more quickly. Our ship, nor the number of our men on this boat would not have held up under the barrage from the Sea Rover. Surrender, for whatever their reasons for attack, seemed like the best option."
"For whatever their reasons," Justen parroted dumbly.
"Surely the captain can understand that."
"They looked ripe to rip us open and leave every man for dead."
"More the reason to surrender."
"I gave no word of surrender."
"You were recently woken."
"And you are the reason the bastards came back. What did you tell them, Finek? What tidbit did you tempt them with that the Lieutenant and captain of the other ship would return? And with such haste?"
Finek's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Me?" the man threw himself to his feet and stalked around the desk. "What reason would I have to do that. What do I know that would warrant such actions? You cannot blame me, because you simply do not know what I know. If I say I know nothing, you cannot claim that I am lying, because you are not in my mind, you cannot know."
"I know you are lying. I know you have used everything you can to undercut my authority and use the crew's superstitions to undermine me. I do not have to be in your mind to know the stale tidings there. I said it once, and I will say it again, finalizing it; Master Dazon Finek, you are relieved of your duty as first mate, and you will be taken below, to your quarters, where you will remain for the remainder of the trip."
For the first time the man turned to Ayrowa. "He is delirious! And exhausted."
Justen could indeed feel the energy seeping from him the more the conversation spiraled out of his control. Finek had not admitted to anything. Had the Asha'man really expected him to? Was anything really that simple? Indeed, he could feel a fever beginning to set in. It was not nervousness that was causing sweat to bead on his forehead. He could only hope having her here would make him say something incriminating.
He pushed the conversation through the accusations until finally the man showed his true colors. He knew precisely who Lerine was, and without Justen's coaching, he dropped her full name. From what the morat'raken had already told him, Justen was not wholly surprised to hear there was a price on her head, and that Finek wanted that money. But he had gone to a lot of trouble, just to collect a bounty. And he could not have been certain that the Lieutenant would not have cut him out of his finders fee once they had Ayrowa Kathan in their custody.
That he was trying to buy Justen Trizidad was somewhat insulting. Especially after everything that had happened. Men were dead, from both ships, and for what? "And that is worth the lives of every man on board? Never mind. Stow your answer. I am tired of this conversation. You have not changed my intentions." He took down a keyring from a nail on the wall and quickly removed the correct key. "Come quietly and do not make a larger mess than you have already- if you indeed value the remaining lives of our crew."
Finek sniffed with disdain. "You are making a mistake."
"It would not be the first time something has bit me in the behind. I am growing quite a callous." Justen gave another nod of his head and the trio quickly moved out into the hallway. Finek remained silent as he walked, his head held high. It never ceased to amaze the Trizidad how men could do such foolhardy things, endangering countless lives, and then be able to carry themselves proudly after, believing they had done the right thing. One life for so many? No amount of bounty was worth that.
The door shut soundly behind him. Justen frowned softly at the closed door even as he turned the key in the lock and placed it back into his pocket. The man did not look defeated in the least. He would have to watch the man in the next week before they made port. Even tucked away, perhaps there was some black mischief he could riot.
But for now, Justen could not the energy in himself to care. The early morning's activities had drained him fully. He felt a cold settle on him, now that his anger deserted him. His head felt light and his vision tunneled. He blinked and felt a warm body press against his own. He looked down to find Ayrowa propped once again under his arm like a crutch and he murmured a thanks.
She nodded and pursed her lips, even as she began to maneuver him down the narrow hall. "This might be an inoppertune moment, Captain, but if I might ask, why are you dressed only in a sheet?"
"I am not wholly sure myself, but it is a layer more than I woke up with..." he was fairly sure his words were slurred. At least they were as they bounced around in his head. Nevertheless, she had a point. A good point. His already swimming mind tried to paddle the problem around. Ultimately it did little other than tread water. Whatever he had been up to, he could not recall.
She snorted softly "That must have been some tea party. Tell me again about your monogamous intensions?"
The tea party! Lady Aietu! A blank wall came at the recollection and tie of those two words. Still... he managed to clumsily shrug one shoulder. He had to believe nothing happened. He would not do anything to hurt his dear little wife, not in his right mind. "Nothing happened...I don't think. Wait. Where are we going?"
She patted him consolingly, "I do not have the strength to haul you into your hammock bed, and I doubt you would be able to get out of it again once the severity of your wounds crosses your thick mind. I will find somewhere else to sleep for the time being."
Justen groaned, "I believe I hear it knocking now.."
The soft cushion of the bed felt marvelous to his pained body. Its softness seemed to reach up and wrap around him, though in part it was because the soldier carefully pulled the covers over him, doting on him as if he were her patient.
He supposed he was that. It was on the tip of his tongue to give her the power, given she was currently the one he held the most trust in, other than himself. But his tongue felt swollen and his mouth felt stuffed with cotton. She tinkered around the room, pouring some water from a pitcher into a cup and bringing it to his lips for a short drink. Laying him back down, her hand pressed to his forehead even as the room started to get fuzzy and he began to drift. Only the throbbing of the wounds in his chest, and his attention focused on them kept his head about the water of sleep.
She ripped up part of the linen hanging off the bed and dipped it in the water before placing it on his brow. She sat silently for several seconds, regarding him before she looked ready to rise. There appeared to be something on her mind, and he could guess what it was, but he reached out and took her hand, saying instead, "Keep watch, and keep your weapons handy. This ship will be without a captain or a first mate and I do not know how the crew will react without a strong head to rudder them."
Her lips curled in a smile, and he heard her voice, but his mind was overtaken with exhaustion to decipher them and he gave up and let the sweet release of sleep take him.
Re: Barrels at Sea
Ayrowa stopped at the door, lingering to be certain that the captain would stay put. It only took him a few moments to start snoring lightly. Part of her wanted to puzzle over how men managed to do that so quickly, but the soldier reminded herself that he was injured and weakened for now. The few moments' pause gave her a chance to make a mental list of what she should do while Justen got his much needed rest.
And at the top of that list was keeping the meddlesome Lady Aietu at bay. But how? The only way one could keep the woman from roaming around the boat was to...lock her in her quarters. Keys....they are probably in the captain's head. Striding purposefully through the ship, she made her way to the cozy space that Justen had taken for his sleeping quarters. Ayrowa had to admit that she would have been as happy here as in the cabin--the smell of the maps reminded her of better days in the Army, and she had never slept in a hammock. But she had gratefully accepted what was offered--which was certainly far more than most captains would have offered a woman found on their vessel while at sea. She had been quite fortunate.
Giving a quick look around, she spied a loop of keys hanging on a nail near one end of the hammock. There were a number of keys on the ring. It might take a while finding the right one, but it has to be there. Plucking the selection of keys from its normal spot, she headed for the main door that allowed entrance into the noblewoman's accommodations. As she sifted quietly through the keys for one that appeared to fit the lock, the Seanchan listened closely for voices within. The nattering female voice had to be the Lady, and there was a gruff male voice answering her, which was likely to be her manservant. Well, either way, she's locked in there with a man, so she should be happy enough, Ayrowa told herself with a smirk as she turned the key in the lock--it was a perfect fit--and walked away to return the captain's keyring to its rightful place.
When she returned to the deck, she noted that the crew seemed to be in a state of shock. While a few of them appeared to be taking care of their normal duties, most seemed to be either staring off into space, or wandering around as if they wanted to do something, but weren't sure what. The pup that had been trailing her for the previous few days attached itself to her side as soon as she reappeared, giving a sad, pitiful whine now and then. Ayrowa looked down and frowned at the flop-eared dog, scooping him up to try to soothe him. As Coreval passed--miraculously, he looked to be one of the few that was going about his business--she caught his arm to stop him. "Anton, where is Sinbryl?"
"I fear he is gone, m'dear. I saw him tumble over during the fighting, but he hasn't been pulled out of the blue."
"Oh." Ayrowa frowned, cuddling the puppy close. "I suppose I will need to care for his animal, then."
"Good thing he attached himself to you before, eh? Lucky feller." Coreval reached out to pat the dog on the head.
Ayrowa surveyed the ineffective crew. "Coreval, it looks like someone needs to issue directions, or everyone is just going to wander around aimlessly all night long. The captain is in no shape to do it himself, and..."
"An' why don't you do it, 'luv? All they need is someone to listen to, I reckon."
"Me?" Ayrowa raised her brows. "I don't know enough about what's what on this ship to be much of a leader."
Coreval studied her, seemingly for the first time without leering. "I may be wrong, but I do think you have the way of a fighter about you. The swords 'n all that. You dun really need anything other than the right words for the parts of the ship." Grinning with more of his usual flirtatious disposition he added, "An' you know I'd be glad to help if it means I get to follow you around for a while."
Ayrowa couldn't help but chuckle. There was no one else for it but herself.
Ayrowa marveled within as the crew started to follow her directions--well, her thoughts coupled with the terminology and experience of the eager Anton Coreval--and though the crew had seemed shocked and uncertain at first, order and peace slowly was being restored on the vessel. Everyone that lived and wanted to be rescued had been taken up from the debris-littered waters, and the boat had moved on to retake its course.
"We're luffing," Ayrowa said after Coreval pointed it out. "Adjust the mainsail. Has anyone cleaned the blood from the deck? See to it, Lison."
Catching a man emerging from below, she queried him about the bilge pump, which, thankfully, was still being worked, making headway in ridding the vessel of most of the water it had taken on during the battle.
As she made her way around the vessel, with the Altaran one step behind her, the puppy scampered along, barking his own orders, or chiming in when she called out some of her own. A nagging voice in the back of her head reminded her that the persistently amorous sailor was probably going to expect something in return for his help, or come to believe that his helpfulness would make her more open to his attentions, but she pushed it away for now. Things had to be seen to, and the least she could do for Justen Trizidad was to see that his ship took some form of order while he recuperated.
The sound of footsteps came to her as she finished directing a crewman to nail a board between a gap in the rail, and an unfamiliar man with a very familiar accent spoke up.
"The first mate of the Sea Rover would see you, if you have a few moments," he asked politely, his lilting Seanchan accent making her heart do flips in her chest.
Me? Ayrowa started to ask, then realized that since she was issuing orders, it was being assumed that she was in charge. For now, I suppose I am. She gave a nod and followed into the hold, where the men--and as she had glimpsed during the battle, women--were waiting for someone to speak to them of their fate.
Still trailed by Coreval, the soldier couldn't help but feel a sense of reassurance that he was there, even though she had her twin swords and had already felt twice at her waist for the raven-marked dagger. This was a group of men and women that largely came from her homeland. And when she ran across such a situation, there was a chance someone was going to recognize her outright and seize her. Even in a circumstance like this one.
When she appeared, all eyes fell upon her, but Ayrowa's attention was drawn away to a man in the back of the hold that was being tended to. It looked to her as though he was nearly gone, but with luck, he could pull through. There was a lot of blood seeping into his clothing.
"That would be our captain," said a voice nearby. "He might make it, might not. The same can't be said for the lieutenant we had aboard." The words came from a hulking man that looked as if he could have tossed her over his shoulder without a second thought. He ran a hair across his short, scruffy hair as his eyes squinted out at her from a very flat-looking face.
"You are the one our captain was pointing to. How is it that you are now in charge of this vessel? Sabotage, perhaps?" He smirked, although it was hard to tell whether it was that or an unpleasant face. "Or did you just take the ship right out from beneath the captain's nose?" He didn't look like the brightest lamp on the shelf, yet to Ayrowa there was an air of authority about him that signaled to her that he was used to giving directions. Must be the first mate.
"The captain is seeing to his own matters, and our first mate is...indisposed." She was surprised how the smooth untruths slid off her tongue.
"And yet they trust you to represent them?"
"It would seem that the captain thinks me worthy, or I would not be here. You do realize that he sank your boat, do you not?"
The man snorted in disgust. "Men that can do such things are not supposed to make it to adulthood. Or do you not agree? I know from whence you come. Have you given up our ways?"
"More or less. This is a different land, the land of Hawkwing. You must adapt...or perish." Ayrowa had learned that first hand. She would not still be alive if she had resisted change.
"Disgusting. You should be brought back to Seanchan lands if only to relearn how to behave." Ayrowa arched a brow at him, but he went on. "To think that such a power was used on a ship that did not carry sul'dam or damane for protection and retaliation...."
Ayrowa's hands went to her hips. "Do you want to speak of fairness? As I understand it, you appeared out of the night like a specter without giving your opponent time to raise the cannons to mount a defense! Most of the ship was sleeping!"
"It was when we were directed to return. And find you." He sighed and looked around the hold. "But now we are here, with no vessel of our own."
A slight movement to her right caught the soldier's eye. A woman was holding her gaze, with brown hair that was not short, but not shoulder-length either. There was something familiar about her eyes that Ayrowa couldn't quite place. She only half heard what the man was saying while she puzzled over the odd feeling that she knew who the other woman was. From the look she was getting, it was very clear that the soldier herself had been recognized.
"What are your plans for us?" he finished, as the soldier's attention returned to the muscled man before her.
"That will be up to the captain, when he has the chance to speak with you himself. I'll leave it up to him as to whether or not he has need of any of your number." Although I may suggest that woman, if it is merely to find out who she is. "I see that you have someone here to tend to any dangerous wounds. If more help is needed, we can work something out. I will also see to it that you have a bit of water and food." Again, she was briefly distracted by the man working feverishly on the fading captain.
Coreval spoke up to snap her out of her reverie. "I do believe we can use a few men above, if'n you'd suggest a few," he told the first mate. "Or if she'd like to choose them herself." He leaned closer to Ayrowa and took in a lingering breath before he murmured, "We've lost five of the crew, m'dear."
Selecting three people that looked healthy and had the least disagreable of the countenances she studied within the hold, her fourth selection was the woman whose identity was puzzling her. At some point, the soldier could approach her and sort it all out. I feel as though I am going to kick myself when I find out who that is.
Re: Barrels at Sea
Sunlight poured in through the porthole. Tumbling pieces of dust tumbled through the ray, winking momentarily as their surface caught the sun. It warmed the chill that had settled in the room during the night, making a pleasant combination of warm and cool.
Justen Trizidad sighed and threw his arm over his head, clocking the light with his forearm. He felt the now-dry cloth slip from his skin and heard its whisper as it landed on the floor. It took several seconds of laying there at the edge of slumber before his mind recalled what it was- the damp cloth that Ayrowa had put on his sweat- speckled forehead.
That thought, along with the sense that he had not just been passed out for a couple of hours, jolted him awake. He sat up abruptly, causing his head to swim. Much of the blanket covering him had already been kicked off while he had been in the throes of sleep, but the action knocked it dangerously low on his person. He clutched at the blanket and brought it as high as his navel, noticing that the muslin he had been wearing during the battle was no longer wrapped around his person. He colored slightly but then dismissed his embarrassment. He had nothing to hide, and even though he was no spring chicken at this point, his practice yard exercises kept him in good condition, if he did say so himself. Besides, he had seen much of the soldier after he had removed her from the barrel.
"Fair's fair," he muttered. Still clutching the blanket to his waist, he rose to his feet. He soon found one of his older, extra pair of breeches and a plain gray shirt carefully folded on the small table in the room. Though he ducked low, looking under both the table and the hem of the bed, he did not turn up any boots.
"Lady Aietu..." Though the events that had followed soon after he had taken to her quarters and partaken of her tea, it was the last thing he could remember before waking up naked. "That woman is in trouble..." he mumbled to the empty room. Letting the sheet drop, he quickly pulled on the breeches. They fit snugly, hugging him like a second skin. Before pulling on the shirt, he moved to the shallow bowl seated on the table next to the bed. A pitcher with water and a small tin cup also took up the small flat space. The water still smelled clean and he took a few seconds to freshen up.
He considered his options. He had only one pair of shoes, he had not thought it necessary to have two. He would much rather walk around with the hard heel, but he was no tender footed fluff either and he knew his feet could take the hard wood of the deck. Justen pulled his hair back and tied it, reassuring himself that he was not making this excuse simply because the thought of confronting Lady Aietu brought back the beginnings of a pounding headache.
He made his way topside. The sun felt good on his shoulders and he took a few minutes to assess the men going about their business. A few greeted him, while others seemed to pick up pace and throw themselves into their work. He worked his jaw, annoyed at the later, but since things appeared to be working smoothly he made no comment on it.
A familiar face, Anton Coreval, passed by and he called to the man, "What ho Coreval," to which the man paused before changing his course and coming to the captain's side. They exchanged a short greeting before Justen delved to the core of his questions, "What is the damage?"
The man rubbed his chin thoughtfully and glanced about the ship, remembering, before making his report. He pointed to the Main Mast. "She was cracked n hurin'. Dried hide is holdin' her stoutly fer now, harsh storms pendin'. Portside, yer railin' took fire. An' she's cracked where th' blue licks at her side. Water's seepin' in, she's slow but steady, it is. Some of the crew from th' other ship are mannin' th' pumps an' it look like they're mighty successful, they are. They ain't gonna cause no extra trouble, promise, given we're floatin' and their ferry ain't an' though two dinghies have been taken in, not everyone will fit on the two lifeboats, should we go belly up s'well. So they have them incentified, eh?"
"Indeed," he eyed the men running around on deck. Justen doubted he had hit his head so hard that their faces had been lost to them. And by his rough count there were more crewmen working on deck than they should have. He had seen several of his men go down under the opposing crew's blades during the attack. "I do not recognize all of these faces."
Anton's shoulder rose in a shrug. "A few o' th' lot we've borrowed t'replace the crew we're shorted."
Justen winced. It was not something he did not already know, but an exact number would be good to know. "How many in all?"
"A full hand, and many yer thumb yet. He's in gulch view."
Justen winced. They had lost five men, that was a full fourth of their crew. It was wise that they had repurpose some of the orphaned crew. He wondered if more would heed his warning and disappear into the hold now that he was awake and well.
The man did not have to die, Justen realized and he had Coral take him to the injured man. He stood near the door as Justen performed a simple Healing weave. The man shuddered and convulsed before a sigh escaped his lips and he slipped into a deeper, more peaceful sleep. The Asha'man smiled grimly down at the Seanchan sailor. What would the man think when he heard his life had been saved by someone he did not trust? It did not matter though, Justen would feel worse if he had not done something for the man. He had not even healed him completely, just the more severe wounds.
He nodded to Coreval and together they returned topside. "Things appear in shape for not having a commander on deck."
A grin split the grim demeanor of the sailor. "Well, I wouldn't say we'ren't without some issued orders," the seaman said nodding in the direction of the forecastle.
Justen stared in the direction for a long minute before picking out the young woman sitting on the steps. His lips curled into a smile. She had fallen asleep where she sat, her head resting against the side of the ship. The puppy took up much of the seat beside her, its head resting on the soldier's lap.
Metal winked and his eyes were drawn to the dagger she had clenched in her fist. It was good to know she had kept herself armed, though it did not appear, from that Anton Coreval had just told him, that she would have needed it.
"Ye want me t'wake the poppet?" Coreval asked.
Justen eyed the man. He had heard the man had romantic intentions with the morat'raken, but none of that was evident in his voice now. It had been replaced with the tone of respect, and for that Justen was relieved. The more men he had on his side, and Ayrowa's, the better.
He shook his head. "No. Let her sleep," he considered picking her up and putting her to bed, but he wanted to have the sweat soaked sheets washed first. He mentioned it to Coreval, and the man grabbed the nearest man who appeared to not have his hands wholly full with things of import and sent him off on laundry duty. "Why do you not show me around the ship. Show me what has been done."
Coreval seemed to take pride in showing the captain around the ship, pointing out where repairs had been made in the captain's day of being unavailable and unconscious. Miss Lerine had forbade them from waking the captain. Besides, she was no fluffhead and had handled the authority well, with Coreval's help.
"Has Finek been given food and water?"
"It sort of slipped our minds, eh?" Coreval scratched his head, "In the excitement and such."
"Well, I suppose it will not kill him." He thanked the man before wandering across the deck to his head where the confrontation had happened the night before. He frowned softly at the absence of the ring of keys that had been present on a nail beside the door. The key to Finek's quarters he had found behind his clothes was a gentle weight in his pocket. He had hoped to return it with the others, but that did not seem possible at this moment. He wondered who had the keys, and to what purpose. But it had not been to lock him in his quarters, so he was not overly worried- for the time being.
He drew in a breath and found her scent here in the room. Justen was surprised he even noticed it. He probably would not have, except the room that had once been his sleeping quarters had been strong with that soft perfume that was hers alone. It was only a faint smell here in the captain's head, but it let him know where she had spent the night he had made use of the bed.
A quick look around the quarters warranted no luck for finding his missing boots. Apparently Lady Aietu was playing the game wherein he would need to ask her for them specifically. He pushed himself to standing, using the edge of the desk, a sour look gracing his lips at the aspect. There was a soft clink of metal as his fingers bumped into the key ring. He blinked at them, then shrugged and retrieved the key from his pocket and snapped it back into place. He must have taken it down amidst the heated debate.
HIs gaze fell on the desktop, and the open log that sat at its center. He would need to write his report in here, note the attack on the ship. His expression soured further. He would need to be careful what he wrote- and leave Ayrowa out of it. That would be the easy part. The harder part might be convincing both crews currently aboard The Hearty Fools to follow along. He was not sure how well that would go over.
His mental meanderings were interrupted by a knock on the door. "Come," he called and the door opened.
"Sir, Captain, now that you are awake," a bright eyed and nervous looking sailor said from the doorway, "the first mate of the Sea Rover would like to see you, now that you are up and about."
Justen nodded, glad to have something else to do as his mind worked toward a feasible solution. He made his way down to the ships hold where he found the majority of the crew from the Sea Rover lounging behind the long bars of the ships make-shift prison. The bars were less for keeping prisoners and more for keeping cargo from mixing during rough waters, but they held the men captive nonetheless.
By the mild reek of poorly washed bodies, and the distinct lack of excrement, he knew these men had been treated fairly. They did not look any worse for wear, other than one man laying on the ground, partly obstructed by the standing or sitting men within the cage. "I am the captain of this ship," he greeted them and found himself looking upward as a giant of a man pulled himself up from the seat he had taken on a small keg. "Who is the first mate of the fallen ship, the Sea Rover?" he would guess this brute would be it.
His massive meaty fists closed around the cold bars of their cell. There was anger and disdain in the man's brown eyes and he took in Justen for a long minute before answering. The man's disdain did not bother Justen, he had come across enough as of late that his skin was thickening to it. There would be trouble if the man acted foolishly on it, however. "Dale Roker," the man introduced himself. The man's flat nose told the captain that someone had once broken it and he wondered absently who would be foolish enough to anger such a hulking man. His thick lips twisted into a sneer, "Do you know what kind of person you left in charge of your ship?"
Since they had indeed come back for Ayrowa specifically, it was no wonder they knew who she was. He found no reason to let it be known he had not given her specific instructions, but she seemed to have done quite well. "You lot do not appear to have suffered under her care."
The man leaned closer to the bar, as if trying to intimidate the shorter man. "From what I am told, she is a dangerous one nevertheless."
Justen's lip curled in something that was not quite a smile. The man's tactics would not work, even if the bars had not been between them. "From your accent, I assume you are not overly pleased to be under the charge of an Asha'man either." The man's sneer disintegrated into a frown, and Justen continued, "It cannot be an easy place for you, being on board a ship with both of us. But is that really what you wanted to talk about?" he folded his arms across his chest, ignoring the tightness he found at the action.
Roker shrug. "I suppose the more pressing matter is, what do you plan to do with the rest of us?"
Justen stood silently for a few seconds, just now having spotted the keen intelligence in the man's eye. "What do you think you deserve?"
"Food. Water. Safe passage back to lands that are controlled by the Ever Victorious Army. After all, since the captain is still incapacitated," Roker glanced over his shoulder at the person partly hidden by the other bodies, "I find myself responsible for the lot of us. For whatever reason you chose to harbor that woman upon your ship, none of us made the choice to search for her here. Or to return to attack you."
Yes, Justen supposed that was true. Crew, even the first mate, rarely had much of a say in the direction of a vessel. That probably went doubly so if the captain of the Sea Rover had been following the orders of the Lieutenant. "You negotiate well, past the whole questioning the one person on this ship I feel I can trust. And what you ask for is fair enough, though I will need to check on the food rations with Cook. We may all eat a little less heartily for the next week."
"As for the woman," Justen continued, "her appearance came moist unexpectedly, and I am not a man to simply hand over a person who has done no wrong to me, specially when I have plenty around me who are actively seeking to undermine my authority. I have not gotten the whole story from her and thus have no reason to simply turn her over, for profit or otherwise."
"Very well. As much as it does not please me, I depend on you and hold you responsible for our safety until we reach land."
"What man likes to be beholden to another?" He smiled faintly. "Our fates are tied together, for the time being. I am of the same mind in hoping nothing else overtakes us on this voyage." He looked past the man. "How fares your captain?"
"He is not well, but Mo is doing the best he can to tend to Captain Harem He may yet live, but there was much blood lost."
Justen hesitated to offer his assistance in Healing, given that the Seanchan might sooner let their captain die than authorize such a suspicious save, "I know you do not care for my kind, but I am willing, if your qualms for my ability to heal are less than your qualms with your captain dying, to Heal him. I will not force it on you, however. If need be, I will let the lot of you discuss it together, so you are all of one accord."
Roker nodded, "I will ask for you if there is need."
The Asha'man nodded, knowing that was the best he could have hoped for. But he informed the man, "I cannot bring the dead back to life."
Re: Barrels at Sea
With the advice of Anton Coreval, Ayrowa placed the four from the Sea Rover where they were most needed. The one choice she did make wholly on her own was to have the woman on deck. She had little to say, but what she did utter rang with a familiar voice. whoever she might be, the soldier felt fairly certain that she was of the Army as well.
Ayrowa took an overall sweep of the vessel to make certain that nothing pressing had been missed, not just to be thorough, but also in order to avoid arousing suspicion when she made her way back to the mystery woman to press her for a name. Everything seemed well--all on deck were hard at work. The puppy trailed along behind her, his own orders satisfied for now, it seemed, as he was quiet.
She turned on a heel and slowly made her way to the forecastle, where the object of her interest was hard at work, cleaning the last portion of the deck of all the scattered traces of the earlier battle. Ayrowa leaned an arm on the rail and studied her efficient travail quietly before speaking in a hushed tone.
"It nags at me that I cannot recall your name, but I'm certain that we've met."
The woman's brown eyes darted upward, but her work did not cease. "We have. It has been a long time, Ayrowa. My hair was not cut so short, then."
"Take a break for a moment," the soldier asked, and the broom that was being put to use to sweep up bits of wood came to a stop as the other woman gave a toss to her brown hair, keeping it out of her eyes. It was then that the realization hit her.
"Kristin. You look so different with your hair like that."
"I had to. I was...demoted...after Atros suspected me of helping you and Ludoc escape, and he removed me from the position of morat'raken." There was a heavy weight on her voice that indicated the difficulty she'd felt during that time in her life. The tremendous shame.
As she listened, the light drained from Ayrowa's eyes, and she leaned more heavily upon the rail. I had hoped she would be alright. But I knew. I knew she'd face trouble from him, somehow.
Meeting her gaze, Kristin shook her head slightly. "I would do it over again. At least we both got away." Leaning closer, she murmured, "And what of Ludoc?"
Ayrowa had known that his cousin would have to inquire upon his whereabouts. "I wish I knew what to tell you. We were flying during a storm and got separated somehow. I haven't seen him since." She let out a sigh and closed her eyes briefly to help vent the frustration. "It's been months."
"Well, I suppose your story as to how you ended up here is probably as strange as mine. Perhaps we will get to share them one of these days." A fragile smile touched Kristin's lips. Now that it was clear who she was, the former morat'raken reminded Ayrowa so much of Ludoc that it both pained and delighted her to look upon the woman. "I am glad to see you among the living. I was afraid we might catch you after all, and this meeting would be under far worse circumstances."
Ayrowa returned the smile, though it showed a good deal of fatigue. The little sleep that she'd gotten had been wiped away with the tension of the battle. "Are these stairs clean over here? I think my little friend and I are going to take a seat." A yawn escaped her lips. "I'm rather tired."
The next thing Ayrowa Kathan felt was an abundance of comfort and softness. Recalling the last place she'd been, the soldier knew she had been moved, as the stairs leading to the forecastle were not exactly soft. Confused, she fluttered her eyes open to find that she was in her bed. Or to be precise, the captain's bed, which she had placed the captain into earlier, herself. Blinking, she craned her neck to have a look around, but the soldier was alone. I suppose me being here means that he is up and about. And probably too soon, as well. Just like a man. If you don't hover over them and keep them abed, they are off trying to do things before they're ready.... As she sighed, she caught the scent of clean sheets. It seemed the captain had outdone himself. Still, she meant to scold him for carrying her while he was bandaged up. Even if it was only a little scolding. It was the only way she could have ended up here. The pup raised his head up and looked at her from the spot he'd chosen near her feet.
Rising from the bed, Ayrowa found herself fully clothed this time and was a touch relieved, although she thought her breeches could probably use a good cleaning, and might not have been terribly upset if they had been laundered along with the sheets. Later, perhaps. If I can manage to get that part of the hold to myself this time around. It's not as though I have a spare pair to slip into. Though she felt a touch stiff, probably from trying to sleep on the stairs, the relaxation of stretching out in this bed seemed to have helped. Ayrowa took a few moments to freshen herself with a bit of cloth and some water that remained in the pitcher, sprinkling a few drops on the dog's head playfully, and chuckling when he shook his head and sneezed.
"You need a name. I can't very well just call you Pup. Sinbryl didn't give you one, I guess." His eyes just studied her silently as if trying to decipher what she meant in dog language.
"That must be a 'no.' Well, what shall we call you? Hrm...." The soldier ran through a list of Old Tongue words from her memory. "Well, you're a yellow dog, and you like following me around. I suppose that's a start. I don't know enough about your personality yet to come up with anything else to focus on." The Old Tongue word that was the closest to yellow was cair, or golden, so Ayrowa tried speaking it aloud to see if it brought about a reaction. "Cair. What do you think of that?" The dog tilted its head. "Cair?" He let out a low growl followed by a bark. "Well, that'll do, won't it. You're golden as a friend, I'd say." He tugged at the bottom of her breeches. "Hey now. I only have one pair of those. What do you want, Cair?" He ambled over to the door, his big ears flopping, and let out a soft bark.
"I know, I need to get out there and see to the Captain. He probably needs his bandages changed, and---oh, I totally forgot about Lady Aietu and her surprise confinement. She's probably not very happy right now..." Glancing at the table, she saw that Justen had removed her twin swords and had placed her dagger there. She had been clutching it just before she'd drifted off to sleep. I may not need these if I'm going to see her, but the intimidation factor can't hurt.
Ayrowa loitered outside the door she had locked earlier. It had been blessedly silent with the Lady locked inside her room. She felt hesitant to break the relatively good day she'd found herself with by the Lady's bad company. Nervously, she ran her bottom lip against her upper teeth and let out a sigh. She had impressed enough authority that she did not own upon this ship this day. Prolonging the Lady's time locked in her room was not necessary, it was simply mean.
As soon as she slid the lock, the door flew open. It was as if the noblewoman had been waiting beside it. Several emotions flitted across Lady Aietu's face, one of them was surprise as she looked Ayrowa up and down. "What are you doing here? Where is the captain? Why was I locked in my quarters?"
Ayrowa bit the tip of her tongue, biting back a scathing comment, retribution for earlier hostilities between them, instead answering smoothly, "We were attacked by the Sea Rover in the night. Captain Trizidad thought it wise to lock you in your quarters--for your own protection. As to where he is, he is checking up on what was done overnight," she almost smirked at that, but kept it in. There was no need to elaborate on why he would have to do so. She did not see fit to answer the third question the Lady had shot at her. She lifted her nose at Lady Aietu, "And he suggests you stay in your quarters so you are not hurt in the debris on deck." There was no need for Ayrowa to tell her that she herself had seen that most, if not all of it, was already cleaned up.
Lady Aietu's lips curled seductively, "My captain is ever so thoughtful. And he has such a fantastic physique, do you not agree?"
Ayrowa looked away, recalling the fact that she had eventually had to remove that little bit of cloth he had been wearing during the battle. So, she could have commented on what she had seen, should she have chosen to. Instead, the soldier found herself wanting to tweak the woman's nose just a bit. She found a slight grin and replied, "True, but it is fair play. after all, he saw me naked as well."
Lady Aietu snorted and looked her up and down distastefully. "You can go now, grunt. Thank my captain for his thoughtfulness!" she said as she soundly shut the door to her quarters.
It clanged shut and Ayrowa tasted blood. She rubbed her jaw where her anger at the lady had caused her to bite the inside of her cheek. You'd think someone who was taught manners while she was young would still have some. She gave a dismissive shake of her head and moved away to seek the captain.
It did not take long, as the man appeared to be rushing about the vessel, trying his hardest to bring back his fever from the look of things. As soon as he seemed to pause for a moment, she approached. "I need to change your bandages."
His face took on the look of a person that had fifty things to do, and had been told to drop them all in order to finish a useless task. "I am more than a little busy. They can wait."
"It has been over a full day since they have been changed and nothing more warrants your immediate attention like your health does," Ayrowa insisted, putting a hand on his arm. Still, a hesitant look settled onto his features, which provoked an exasperated sigh on the soldier's part. "Do not make me sic little Cair here on you!"
The puppy danced around their feet, barking his claim.
Justen eyed the pup with a slight smile, "A terrifying aspect, I assure you..."
"Frightening, I know," she said without a trace of mirth. "So no arguments."
Re: Barrels at Sea
Justen sat heavily upon the trunk with a groan. It felt good to be out of the sun and in the cool apartment, and to stop running around. But he did not want to tell the soldier that. He sent her a dark look for interrupting his rhythm.
She simply stared back at him, unfazed as she tore a clean sheet she had made a small detour to fetch from Cook on their way to the captain's quarters."This will take longer if you are a bull-headed patient," Ayrowa warned him and gestured for him to remove the gray cotton shirt he had.
He complied, tossing the shirt onto the bed before setting to work at untying the knots of the bandage on his arm. "This really is not necessary," he informed her. "Nothing was all that broken. They are likely well on their way to be healed already."
"I will be the judge of that."
He snorted at that as she set the strips aside and fell to a knee before him, pushing his clumsy one handed attempts at removing the strips of fabric aside. Her nimble fingers worked quickly. Soon they were looking at the pale skin of his wrist and forearm. Little nicks and lines of red traveled up and down it where pieces of wood had cut him. Darker red and purple cuts appeared where larger and deeper shrapnel had hit him. To his eye, it looked perfectly healthy. "See?" he told her, "I told you."
"True, these are not bleeding nor do they appear infected. But what about that one?" her finger pressed the bandage over his shoulder and he craned his neck. His brow furrowed at the fresh red patch that had blossomed there. "What did I say about overexertion?" she tossed almost playfully back in his face.
"It's barely seeping," he murmured, still keeping an eye on the patch. That must have been where one of the larger pieces had gotten him.
"While we are on the subject of overexertion, you really should have known better than carry me to bed. I would have been fine to finish my nap where I was."
He simply grunted as she tied the knot of the bandages on his forearm. "Are you sure you are only a soldier?"
She kept her head down and her lashes lowered as she began to peel the layers of white from his chest. "What do you mean?"
"My ship is not falling apart around my ears, at least as much as it could be. My crew appear are behaving with not a whisper of mutiny in sight. I had expected to wake up to much worse."
She looked up at him and grinned. "Maybe your crew missed having a woman about to order them around."
"As unlikely as I find that..." he shifted uncomfortably as she gently pulled the fabric off one of the wounds that had bled and dried, causing it to stick to the fabric. "It was a good idea to recruit a few of the Sea Rover's crew to replace those we had lost. I commend you for your wise decision."
"It was Coreval's idea." She moved away, to the bin of water, wetting and ringing one of the strips before returning. "I simply executed it." Ayrowa began to dab some of the flakes from the skin. She darted a look at Justen. "I had quite a surprise earlier when I got a chance to talk to one of the crew from the Sea Rover."
"Oh? What sort of surprise?"
"Ludoc's cousin is now working aboard your ship." A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth.
Justen frowned softly. "Your intended's cousin? Is that a good thing? Or are they out of the hold due to family obligations? It is a mite odd that they were on the same ship that sought your capture. They kept some odd company, so excuse my questioning of his intentions," he gave her a lop-sided grin, "I am in a weakened state, after all."
The words pulled the smile from her features. "Her intentions. Ludoc's cousin is a woman. She suffered a fate not unlike my own--after she helped the two of us escape. I don't know what brings her here, but I mean to find out." She set to work on tying on new fabric.
"Sooner rather than alter would be optimal," he said. "I find I have much to entertain my mind and body with. More my mind, mind you, since as you say I am borderline derelict. I will leave the looking into and clearing of the near-relative to you, as well as the consequence." He shrugged. "I am sure they will be a favorable addition to our crew until we make port."
"I am glad to see a familiar face, nonetheless."
He smiled, but he was beginning to fidget. "Are we almost done here? I am pulling at the reins to be free!"
There were several reasons for Justen ordering Cook to prepare a large meal this night instead of starting to conserve and ration out what food they had left so they would be more comfortably fed for the rest of the trip. The first was purely selfish. After channeling saidan, he found himself famished and he did not want to look like a selfish dolt by telling his men, who had just risked their lives, that they had to ration their food when he wanted his plate piled high with whatever he could pile on it. The second was political. The easiest way into his men's hearts was through their stomachs. So he found himself rolling out another barrel of Greghberry Wine. He grinned as cheers erupted from the men and they helped him roll it in position.
Before hammering the tap into place, his gaze went across the table where Ayrowa sat with her partner's cousin, Kristin at her side. Between them lay a large platter heaped high with food.
His eyes twinkled mischievously. What is the odds that another had been closed in a barrel like the soldier? He did not want to think on it long, however, because she had been rather beat up when he had found her. Anyone still trapped in a barrel would be worse off by now, health wise. By his estimation they would finish off as much as any of the men around the table.
Justen pounded the tap into place. The room fell silent and he wondered if their mind had gone where his had. But he turned the handle and the dark red wine spilled into his mug. The room erupted with laughter and cheers and he raised his mug high.
Several mugs were passed to him and he filled them before patting one of the men on the shoulder, turning the chore over to him so the captain could feed his hunger. His own plate was nothing to scoff at and he tore into the hearty rations that were subsidized with fish that had been taken from the sea around them. Even after the potatoes and other side dishes ran out, if they could keep pulling from the great blue, they would still make it to Tanchico with only a few pounds shed.
The potato he had been chewing nearly flew out of his mouth as Al, the massive man and former first mate of the Sea Rover slapped him on the back, his baritone laugh rising over the voices and laughter of the other men around the huge table. Justen found himself joining in the mirth as well, even as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
The captain of The Hearty Fools had given an invitation for the feast to the men who were locked in the hold as well. He had not had high hopes that it would be taken up, so he was surprised when the dinner hour rolled about and the giant had lumbered in to the room, and even more surprised when he had taken a seat beside Justen.
Once Justen's Asha'man status was taken off the table and conveniently forgotten, the two men had found much that they had in common in things that interested them. ship in their love for the sea. Roker had a wife he very much wanted to return to when the trip was over. Therefore it would be imperative in the next few days that they put their heads together and come up with a decent excuse why they were arriving in Tanchico, instead of following the course that had been set for the Sea Rover.
Justen took a deep drink from his ale. It was not the first time he had slid his abilities beneath the rug. It was a trick he had learned to do long ago when in the presence of his brother. Jeroff Trizidad would always see himself as the older, stronger brother and it was pivotal that the brown haired Trizidad think that his little brother still needed him, and on those occasions, that it was Jeroff who was the stronger brother who would come riding in for the rescue.
One person was decidedly absent, and that was Lady Aietu and her manservant. He noted them as one person because they both seemed to have the knack for making his day rather unpleasant. He had not heard a sound from either one, although he had sent Coreval to her quarters earlier with her meal. He drummed his bare feet against the cool wood planking, reminding him once again that he needed to face her eventually, if for no other reason than to get his boots back.
He took another sip of ale and casually viewed Kristin over the rim. Justen did not know if Ayrowa had spoken to her beloved's cousin yet, there had not been time since they had parted ways this late morning for them to discuss the matter. By the way they sat close and interacted with camaraderie, he had the feeling they had spoken further.
Either that, or they were simply two females clinging together in a sea of boisterous males. Setting his mug down he picked up a biscuit from his plate and hid a grin behind it. He doubted Ayrowa would feel out of place if surrounded by men, even alone.
Re: Barrels at Sea
Ayrowa had drank more of the wine than she had intended, in the hearty company that had surrounded her for the meal. Her stomach was plump full as she had eaten her fill, knowing that the next several days meals would not be as bountiful as they began rationing out their food supplies so they might make it to port without anyone starving. Justen had as much as told her so earlier before he rushed back to his duties above deck that morning.
The soldier felt the heady rush from the wine continue to fade as her usually quick, sure and graceful steps were slowed due to her indulgences. She chuckled a little as the pup scampered around her feet. "Watch it, little mister. I don't want to step on your tail."
"Is that your new little friend you were speaking of?" asked Kristin, appearing on deck just as Ayrowa passed.
"Yes, this would be Cair, the golden pup."
"Cair. That's a fine name." She tilted her head, her feathered hair moving as she did so. "You always did have more of a way with animals than I did."
"You're too kind." Ayrowa blinked her eyes and put a hand to her head, leaning the other against the ship. "I'd love to stay here and catch up with you, but I'm afraid it will have to wait until the morrow. I stayed up to tend to things and disrupted my usual rest last night, and that was some very good wine we had for our meal." She grinned and patted her stomach. "I am well sated."
"Sleep well," the former morat'raken offered, as she continued on her way out to the rail to have a look around, and Ayrowa watched her a moment before she scooped up her new pet and carried him to her quarters. The sounds of merrimaking were softer here, and she felt a slight sense of relief at being able to leave the duties of assigning watch and ordering people about to the captain, now that he was up and about.
Closing the door, she found she could barely hold her eyes open to remove her breeches, and so she didn't bother trying. One could remove their clothing without seeing, after all. She forced them open to make her way to the bed so as not to trip over Cair, but the pup had toddled off to the opposite side of bed and out of view. Once she reached it, Ayrowa fell face down onto her bed, groaning softly at the freshly-washed smell that lingered. A flick of her wrist brought the thick blanket down over her before she was lost to the world with nothing more than a snort.
Gentle persuasion upon the handle to the dark cabin was all that it took. The door swung into the room, creating only the smallest creak on its oiled hinges. Light from a new moon illuminated the obstacles in the room, a tall table with twin chairs, chests of various sizes, and near the center sat the bed, its occupant sleeping peacefully. Soft soled kid shoes barely made a whisper as they padded across the room, pausing once midway. She bit her bottom lip as she watched the simple motion of the covers rise and fall evenly.
She pushed back her shoulders and the delicate lace robe slipped down. It fell to the cabin floor with a shhhhh, as if reminding her to keep her breathing low. Her dark eyes glittered in the shadows, even as she remembered exactly that. Her breasts heaved against the confining fabric of what she was left wearing, a silk and bow affair that had not been made for comfort so much as it was made for accenting the female body and being hastily removed.
"Justen?" her voice was nothing above a whisper. A smile curved onto her lip when he simply snorted and shifted. He did not wake. Slowly she moved around the side of the bed, her fingers trailing over the coarser fabric to feel the flesh beneath. When she paused, she hiked the thigh-high hem higher. In one smooth move she lifted her leg, shifting her weight until she was straddling the person sleeping...
The lump shifted abruptly, twisting and bumping her square in the jaw. Lady Aietu gave a startled squawk and fell backwards, tumbling and spilling onto the floor. She was still clearing her head of the ringing when a smelly, growling ball of fur pounced on her, and the lantern on the bedside table came to life, its flame illuminating what the Lady already suspected. "You!" the noblewoman exclaimed. "What are you doing in the Captain's chambers?"
Ayrowa mumbled sleepily before rousing herself more fully to blink at the intruder, finally recognizing the form in the sudden light. "Ugh, it's you. What in the Light do you want?" Her words came out as more of a groan than a greeting. She squinted at the woman's distinct lack of decent clothing as Lady Aietu came to her feet, trying to avoid the pup, whose low growls indicated how little Cair thought of her, or of his rest being suddenly interrupted, or both.
Her words had an air of superiority. "I had a matter of high importance to discuss with the Captain."
Ayrowa sat up fully but shaded her eyes from the lantern light. "He's not here...hasn't been here all night. He has been spending most of his night elsewhere. He let me use his room for my sleeping quarters."
The noble arched a brow. "I demand to know where he is."
"Well," the soldier grumbled with her voice thick with sleep, "you can go search the boat, because I'm not telling you where he is. He needs his rest. And--some people aren't a slave to their lust at all hours of the day. Though I do have to ask, do you conduct all your matters of business in such courtly costumes?" She sat there a moment watching for a reaction from the noblewoman, and once she got it--crossed arms that further accentuated her sheer clothing, a snort and a haughty look--the Seanchan flopped back onto the bed, adding, "You'll probably find some lonely fellow on the boat who'll be glad to entertain you on your way. Now, I'm going back to sleep." Further indicating the conversation was at an end, Ayrowa pulled the heavy blanket back over her, nearly covering her face with it as well.
"For your information, not all are so aesthetically pleasing to have the option be available," the noblewoman breezed, apparently unable to let Ayrowa have the last say.
"I'm asleep, I'm not listening to you...." she mumbled back, the words garbled by the cloth over her mouth. She reached her hands out and strained to blow out the lantern before using her grasp on the top of the covers to pull them to her ears, effectively blotting out anything else Lady Aietu had to say. The noble went on for a minute or two more before realizing it was a futile effort, and left the room with a solid enough closing of the door that Ayrowa could feel it rattle the bed slightly. Sighing, she bid Cair good night, and let the comforts of sleep retake her, hoping that no one else would trouble her rest.
Re: Barrels at Sea
Justen pinched his eyebrows in an effort to distract that pain that pounded behind his eyes. It was early yet, by his count, but by the sun's position in the sky, it was almost an hour later than when breakfast should have been served. He must not be the only one taking a later meal, however, one of the crew had only just brought him his meal. The abrupt knock on the door to his captain's head had startled him awake. He had found himself passed out on the floor, beneath the hammock. The meal sat largely untouched on the desk in front of him. He had drank far too much the evening before. He vaguely remembered taking leave of his senses and opening up two more barrels of Greghberry Wine. Light, he would need to pay for those out of his own pocket. By the decreased levels of shouting on deck, he knew he was not the only one feeling the effects.
He could hear the slap of more than one mop slopping against the deck. There was a price to pay for their merry times. He wondered if he had contributed to the mess that he had not yet ventured out into. He pondered creating another rogue wave to simply wash over the ship, but he decided no good time went unpunished. No doubt his own punishment was coming soon. He wiggled his toes and his mood darkened several shades. Perhaps while he was at it, he would get the story of what happened after she had drugged him. He was almost positive he would not believe a word out of her puckered mouth, but it would be an entertaining tale at least. Today was the day he was going to get his boots back!
He used the edge of his utensil to break one of the small pieces of sausage into an even smaller piece, even as his stomach growled and threatened to reject the meal. Justen scowled at it for a long second, convincing himself that he was stronger than his stomach, before plopping the piece in his mouth. He sat, chewing it for far longer than he needed before swallowing. He eyed the rest of the food on his plate warily. For having their rations dropped, what appeared on his plate seemed to be a lot this morning...
The captain's scorn for his meal along with the uncertainty of whether or not he should continue picking at it was interrupted by a knock at the door. Justen was imagining that Lady Aietu had been drawn to him by simply thinking of the baneful woman when the door opened and Ayrowa appeared through the doorway. He let out a thankful sigh and retrieved the silverware that had slipped from his fingers. While he would have much rather liked to nurse his aching head while suffering in his own company, he was still glad to see her. Jumbled within the chaotic clattering taking place inside his skull, there was an idea he had been dancing with that required her opinion.
He smiled wanly at her and continued to massage his head with his free hand. The soldier crossed the room, her footsteps measured and almost silent. She looked a bit off so he assumed the wine had taken its toll on her as well. Still, he could not help but state the obvious, "I trust you slept well after the boisterous meal and overindulging in wine?"
She pressed her palms to the desktop and shrugged. "Not as much as I'd hoped, actually. I had a visitor." A smile threatened to spring forth from her lips, "Well, I should say, you did."
"How now? I must confess my mind is a little too muddled to be playing such games so early in the morning and while in such..." he trailed off, his confusing fading as the tilt of her brow brought the realization to him. He made a face and pushed some of his food around on his plate, his mind making several guesses of its own before he asked, "What did she want? Did she say?" His food would be cold before he had eaten half. Dutifully he shoved a harmless looking scrambled egg into his mouth.
"It was like a repeat performance of what happened to you recently. Only you weren't the one in the bed." She had the audacity to giggle.
He choked on his food.
Ayrowa moved around to the side of the desk and patted him gently on the back.
He took a drink from his mug and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand before shaking his head. "The second time I attempted to have breakfast with her, the morning...you are speaking of, she made the comment on how women change their prefix, yet men do not, claiming it gives men an easier hole to slink into adultery. Yet she is the only one I see accosting...every one but Dole."
Ayrowa snorted. "I sent her on her way, although she did want to know where you were. I did not disclose your location, and judging by your full state of dress, she did not find you."
The soldier shrugged, "And I do believe you. It is still rather amusing to me. But that aside, you are still healing from the wounds you took and thus you do need your rest- your undisturbed rest."
"Honestly, I fail to see that happening. With my first mate
untrustworthy and locked away, I am forced to do the work of his as well as mine. I believe I plan to smudge the captain's log and make the loss of the Sea Rover an accident." He waited to see her reaction. When she remained silent he continued, "I do not know what to classify Lady Aietu as, but obviously she is something that needs to be dealt with. As for you..."
The emotion drained from Ayrowa's features. "I can't help but feel as if my being here set that all in motion."
Justen shrugged and wiped his fingers on the cloth napkin sitting beside his plate. "I am sure there are a hefty number of factors we both contributed to make it that much easier for Finek to work. Lady Aietu cannot seem to help her antics, and as I said, I must come up with a solution to that. But kicking ourselves and moping will not rectify the situation. I plan to speak to the man more, see if I can glean anything else from him, now that my anger is tempered. But if not I am fine keeping him confined until I can turn him over to the authorities in Tanchico."
Ayrowa appeared deflated at the idea. "There is nothing to stop him from telling them about me, in that case."
His brow furrowed. "I do not like the idea of his blood on my hands. Perhaps he could be persuaded..." Justen shook his head, his ideas coming up blank. "We have time to think on this still. If anything occurs to you, I would be pleased to hear it. That aside, I have something else I would like to ask of you."
"For your understanding and generosity, I'm glad to do whatever you may ask."
He looked at her a long minute. The offer in her voice caused him to pause. While he might not have done anything against her in her time on the ship, he did not think he had done anything to warrant such faith. He worked his jaw before stating plainly, "It appears I am short a first mate."
Ayrowa shifted her feet. "I fear I do not have any experience in that area. Would Roker not be a better choice? He was the first mate of the Sea Rover, after all."
"Aye, but he is just that- the first mate of the ship that would have gladly sunk us," Justen pushed his plate away and leaned back in the chair, regarding her coolly. "He seems like an amiable enough individual. But in the position of first mate I would like someone I know a bit more. Someone I could trust a bit more, and would in return trust me. His Seanchan hatred for those who can wield the One Power, even when it would benefit him, like the Healing of his captain, is still evident in his eyes in small flashes. Enough bad choices have been made during this trip so far. I would have the rest of this trip go much smoother. To do that, better choices need to be made. I already have enough to contend with without that added uncertainty."
"I...what would I be required to do? I'm afraid I'm not a sailor, nor do I have the knowledge of the ship that would likely be required for such a position," Ayrowa tilted her head and shrugged. She did not appear to be completely abhorred by the idea, just confused if the fit was right.
"Some of the things Master Finek was, aside from the underhandedness and attempts on your life. It would be pretty silly making attempts on your own life... But our course is already set. I can certainly teach you a few tricks. Mostly what I would require you to give my men orders and make sure they do what they are supposed to do. Oh, and keep an eye out for further dissent. She's wounded and I do not think she would survive another surprise attack."
"Okay." She shifted, as if trying on her new title. "I will do the best I can to make the remainder of this voyage less eventful. I believe, though, that if I am to take a leadership role on this vessel, I should be forthright with you about all of what has been spoken of me."
"I do agree the trust I am offering deserves it."
"Very well, then." She took up an empty glass and poured some fresh water into it before taking a long sip. He eyed the action, and wondered if watered down Greghberry would be better for both of their hang overs. But she looked ready to start so he kept his considerations to himself, "The trouble I have dealt with in these lands can all be traced back to a commander of mine in the army. Riman Atros." Her voice trembled just saying his name. "He abused his power, particularly with women that caught his eye. He talked of marrying me, but I wasn't interested. I wanted to be with Ludoc. I have since the two of us met." She took another long drink and sat silently for a few moments. "I tried to let him down gently--the man was always known for his temper--but he got infuriated nonetheless. Once, he had to call for a Healer for me." She took a deep breath and let it out. Justen saw her tremble slightly but kept his hands folded loosely on his lap. Retelling her past might be painful to her, but she had more strength in her than she realized. He knew how retelling a tale could bring the incident back into your mind.
She ran her fingers through her red hair. "One day, Ludoc and I were sent on a mission in some dangerous territory--where there were Aes Sedai about. We were at odds with them at that time, obviously. One of their weaves struck my raken. I fell and almost died. Ludoc found me, though. Because we did not return that day, and our bodies were not found, we were declared as runaways. Atros was not deterred; he meant to find me regardless. And he did."
Justen took the information in, his brow furrowed in a pained expression that had nothing to do with the effects of the wine. He had met one or two men in his time who took something into their mind and would not let go of it for anything. These men were dangerous, and almost to a man they were insane.
She paused and studied Justen for a moment before asking. "Do you know what it means to be da'covale?"
He nodded. While he had not come upon one in his travels, Seanchan was still on his 'do not visit' list so it was unlikely he ever would. But he knew of them, both from stories as well as from knowledgeable texts from books.
"Instead of questioning me, and sending me to his superiors for discipline or punishment, he took it upon himself to make me his da'covale--giving me a punishment which was sure to make him happy and allow him to further exercise his powers."
"That certainly circumnavigates the troubles of planning a wedding. And of course that would be wrong." He shook his head. "Sorry, when I am angry, I have a difficult time not making jokes."
"It's alright." She paused and put her elbows on the table, leaning slightly forward on them. "Well, needless to say, I was not a meek, obedient da'covale. I made him happy and infuriated at the same time---even when I made him angry, he knew that I was his and there was nothing I could do about it." Ayrowa smiled wryly, "Or so he thought. One night I got my hands on a whip that he kept in his rooms and stashed it near the bed. Then I....distracted him." She looked at her lap. "I tried choking him with the whip so I could get free. I escaped, but I thought he was dead. He wasn't, so he could make it clear to everyone that I was his attacker." Ayrowa's troubled gaze met Justen's, as she rubbed at her temple with one hand, hoping that he would see how difficult it had all been.
"The clothes of the da'covale are distracting enough as it is, I cannot imagine you needed to do much." He sighed, taking a moment to think before nodding. "I am not a fan of men-or women- taking what they want and tossing the consequences to the Dark One, or using their power to get what they want. There are enough who fear the Aes Sedai and Asha'man for that very reason- fear that they will use their power to hurt and subjugate," he shrugged, "And I suppose there are those that do. My mind sides with the suppressed, however. I do not blame you for attacking your superior. They will not find me an ally in continuing their misuse of power." He ran his hand through his hair. "I fear I make myself sound more noble than I actually am. But by the Light, there has to be someone on this ship I can trust. And in that it would have to be freely given and mutual."
"Not only was he my superior, but he is of the Blood." She tilted her head towards the door. "So, you'll forgive me if I am a bit predisposed to dislike nobility such as Lady Aietu." She rose from her chair after finishing the water. "Oh--and you were right, Captain. Lady Aietu's nightwear would not suit me. It leaves little to the imagination."
After the morat'raken left to try on her new mantle- Justen had the pleasant suspicion that she would do fine- he set to work finishing the meal. He was happy with his decision, and pleased that she had felt free to share more of her personal life with him, and a hard time of her life at that. He found that some of the pain in his head left him at her agreement and he finished the rest of his meal without a problem.
Setting the empty plate aside, he began absently jotting down ideas, the beginning formula to the explanation of the lost ship. Certainly they could claim it had been lost during a storm, but intense interrogations usually took place after such a loss. And the Lieutenants superiors would very likely be looking into the death of one of their men. The Army would not like to hear that an Asha'man had been directly responsible for the death of one of their men and Justen did not want to bring further bad relations upon either tower. Perhaps something entertaining like a powder keg going off by accident. The idea amused him, and if they ever dredged the ship up- an impossible task without an Aes Sedais help, the ships wounds would attest to that. But such a story needed to get past the interrogation first.
He crumbled his current page up and dumped it in the waste basket beside his desk with a mental note to incinerate it later. Fire was not his strongest, but he had practiced several fire weaves to the point of frustration- and the ability to at least cause a spark. All else fail, he could resort to the normal method with flint. He smiled to himself. No wonder there were so many people who feared those who would wield magic if the first thing those powerful people thought of when going to do small ordinary tasks was rely on their powers.
The crumpled up page had no sooner come to a rest at the bottom of the basket when there was another knock at the door. Justen called for them to enter as he went back to jotting random thoughts on the page, expecting it to be one of the men come to fetch his plate. So he was surprised when the familiar voice rang through the room, as cheery as a bell and as poisonous as the bite from a snake. "Captain, I demand to know why you were not in your quarters last night."
Justen looked up to find the lady standing on the other side of the wide desk. She stood, hands on hips. He was happy the furniture was between them. When he failed to answer she moved forward. She hopped a little, settling her hind end on the desk. Placing her hands on a few empty spots on the desk, she leaned toward him. There was an impertinent tilt to her chin, just begging for his tender touch. . He did so, using his thumb to wipe away some of the thick concealing makeup that hid the bruises on her jaw line.
He tried to keep some of the amusement from his voice as he finally replied, "Yes, I heard about that."
"Well? I demand an explanation. What was that harlot doing in your bed?
"I find myself searching for an explanation as well, for other malicious tricks," he folded his hands gently before him. "There is a wide patch of time that I can not get my mind to recall. But I do remember it started during our last tea party. What say you? Shall we swamp explanations?"
She sniffed in disdain, as if giving something when she was so used to taking was a distasteful idea to her.
"Why did I find myself in the buff upon waking?"
Lady Aietu let out a huffy breath. "It was Dole's idea." Justen frowned softly. The manservant had not struck Justen as the type to take interest in a man's body. "Nothing happened other than an appreciation of a fine male specimen, even if you are past your prime. It was all in good fun," she insisted.
"Unfortunately, I do not see it that way," Justen stated. "I want my boots and my clothes returned post haste."
One shoulder rose in a shrug. "You did not say you needed to like the answer, only that I answer your silly question. Now answer mind, your own rules demand it. Where did you sleep last night?"
Justen smiled as he was reminded once again that he had come awake this morning not in his hammock bed, but on the floor of the captain's head. And to be fair, she was asking him two different questions, even if the lady did not realize it. He saw the hammock handing in the corner of the room and pondered which of the questions he would answer. The less specific he was, the better. "I have not been sleeping in my bed. I gave it to an unexpected passenger. And I do not think I owe you an explanation. It is my ship, they are my quarters. I reserve the right to move freely upon it and re-assign quarters as I see fit."
Her face went red at the mention of the soldier. "That woman! She struck me! Are you not going to do something about it?"
"I did. I promoted her to first mate. The cabin is hers. I would suggest not venturing in there any longer, she obviously does not favor your advances as much as my crew has,” he brushed her chin once again.
She jerked her head back, shaking him off. "Well, then where does the captain of this ship sleep? Certainly not with those filthy mongrels frolicking above deck that we picked up at port." Her nimble fingers went to her neck and he wondered for a minute if she would be so brazen as to undo the top laces of her mauve corset. He really hoped she did not. But her fingers caught the thin rope that held the clove-studded bag to her nose and inhaled.
"That would be the crew you refer to?" He shook his head. "Be careful, Lady Aietu, otherwise I will move your quarters to the life boats."
Her mouth fell open at the threat, "But the lifeboats have been torn away!"
His smile returned. She must have remained in her quarters since the attack, otherwise she would have seen the pair they had salvaged. "Au contraire! A pair have been salvaged from the Sea Rover. I cannot tell you how close your errant behavior is making me consider launching you and your manservant out to sea on one. But instead, to keep temptation out of reach, I am going to ask that you remain in your cabin for the rest of the trip."
"To make sure you go along with what I ask, I will also be locking your door, so there is no mistake the agreement we have made here. It will be best for both of us, I believe. First mate Lerine will be by with your meals, a little drudgery work that comes with the title. t will also keep my men chaste and from entertaining themselves in your bountiful charms."
"Mistress Lerine will also be in charge of your daily walks, as well as your rations," he warned Lady Aietu, knowing their votaile past, "and I will tell her so. Remain on her good side, or she may shorten one or the other. Or both. That is all. You are dismissed, lady." With that he deftly went back to writing, pointedly ignoring several of the small sounds she made before jumping down from her perch. She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her loudly.
Re: Barrels at Sea
As Ayrowa stepped back out into the sunlight on the deck of The Hearty Fools, it somehow seemed dimmer after what she had just struggled through. The only people that knew the awful tale she'd just told were those that were involved, and now Justen Trizidad. He had told her enough about himself that she did not feel abashed in the telling, but something about retelling her fate at the hands of Riman Atros had visions flashing in her mind that she had tried to box away.
"That'd be the darkest look I've yet seen on that pretty face." The familiar voice of the Altaran sailor snapped her slightly out of her musings.
"Everyone has their dark moments one time or another, Coreval. I do, however, think you may be pleased with the news I have to share." She paused a moment, and he shifted.
"Yes, what'll it be?"
"I've been made the ship's first mate."
Slowly, a wide grin spread across the man's pleasant features. "I knew 't. The Captain's no fool, I daresay."
Ayrowa crossed her arms and grinned back. "I think you just like being told what to do."
"Depends on who's doin' the tellin', m'dear." He gave her a wink and then started on his way, the rest of his words trailing slowly off behind him. "I 'spose this means I need to be gettin' back to work. No sense in getting off on the wrong foot with my new first mate..."
This new side of Anton Coreval made the soldier chuckle. He seemed different, now. She wasn't sure what had happened exactly, but he'd been helpful and knowledgeable when it counted, and Ayrowa felt more comfortable knowing there was someone else that could be trusted upon this vessel. Perhaps some good did come out of his annoying infatuation with the soldier.
The pup reappeared, and bounded around her, as excited as if she'd been involved in some sort of hide-and-seek game rather than having a sit-down with the captain. "Well, you've found me, I suppose, but I didn't know I was playing. I hope you didn't get into any trouble while I was occupied...."
"He was with me," said Kristin, wearing a grin that was every bit as wide as Coreval's. "Quite a charming little fellow. And I'm glad I found you as I believe congratulations are in order!"
"For the Light sake," Ayrowa exclaimed. "He just asked me!"
"Word moves like wildfire on a ship like this!"
"Apparently. I'll have to watch my tongue now." She gave the other woman an appraising look and then rested an arm loosely on her shoulder. "When did you find yourself so nautically inclined? Although the crow's nest is like being on the back of a raken, it is far from either of our favored occupation. Maybe you can give me some pointers...."
It was a fortunate thing Ayrowa was good at recalling details. She was able to file away many of the useful suggestions Ludoc's cousin had shared. And without having yet heard the entire story of how she ended up as a sailor on a Seanchan vessel, the morat'raken felt sure and easy with her. It was as if she'd had a long-lost sister appear in her midst. There might as well have been no other woman on the ship as far as Ayrowa was concerned. She could never relate to Lady Aietu, after all. It was, though, a bit of a comfort to have someone else to talk to besides the captain. He had his own matters to see to. One of those had been to inform her about a few extra duties that she would need to see to during the course of their voyage to Tanchico.
She would see to her ladyship's meals and would bring her out to have a walk around the vessel regularly, but otherwise, the captain wanted the woman locked into her apartments. As acting first mate, Ayrowa would be the keykeeper. Currently the key was a pleasant weight around her neck Essentially she had the power to hold the woman's freedom and meals hostage. The mere thought made her eyes twinkle a little, although she couldn't be overly malicious. She was just certain that the noble's uppity attitude would result in some minor battle of wills, which would be settled easily---by the one who held the key to the door. We shall see how that works out.
For now, though, all other needs had met, and the morat'raken felt like looking down on the ship's bustle in relative peace for a short time. She spied Justen near the forecastle, pitching in with the crew's work like he so often did. The main mast had been patched to keep it steady, but she was uncertain how it might do with a person's added weight, and thus far, Ayrowa had not seen anyone clamber up to the crow's nest since the battle had ceased.
"Coreval, you were around when the mast was being repaired, were you not?" queried the soldier, shielding her eyes from the sun as she looked over at him.
"I was," he confirmed.
"Think it's safe for me to climb up to the crow's nest?"
The Altaran stopped what he was doing and gave the mast a thorough once-over with his eyes. "For you? I 'spose so. I don't know as I'd suggest it to ev'ryone on the ship, but you're....small. No offense, m'dear."
"Do be careful. I'd just as soon keep the first mate we've got."
"Always," Ayrowa grinned, and slowly made her way up the mast to enjoy the view.
It was nearing supper time when she climbed down from her perch, and a thought had crossed her mind while staring out at the blue depths that needed seeing to so that it would stop bouncing in her head. The pup, too, wanted her attention, and she scooped up little Cair--who had finally sniffed her trail long enough that he sat down at the foot of the mast and waited for her. A swim would be so nice, she mused. Later, though. When it's dark. And I know just the person that could help me out with my privacy. As much privacy as could be expected on a ship such as this, anyway.
The Altaran did not seem to be about, so Ayrowa asked the nearest man to see if he knew where he might be found. "Lison? Where did Coreval go off to?"
The spindly young man pointed at the door to the hold. "Mistress Lerine, he was headed down to check on the men working the bilge pump, last I saw."
"Thank you," she offered, already making her way towards the door, the key around her neck bouncing against her chest.
He was just coming up the stairs as she swung the door closed. "Just the person I was looking for. Who was to have watch duties after dark?"
"Believe it were Kaiten, m'dea---er-----Mistress Lerine."
"Well, I'd like you to switch with him. And I'll be back on deck to see you later, after the rest of the ship is settled for the night. There's something I want to discuss with you."
As soon as the words escaped her lips, Ayrowa regretted being so vague. They provoked quite a thoughtful expression upon the Altaran's features.
It is one of the things men are for, taking the blame. They usually deserve it even if you don't know how. -Lini
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests
||You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum