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The Greasemonkey

Katie caught a giggle in her throat, cutting off air in a heartbeat so that a laugh might not escape and sell the soul for a seven-year-old girl in the mood for a pillow fight. The simple action of Saoirse’s playful push was enough to settle all of Katie’s nerves, suddenly awash with composure, but only for as long as it took to recall the power of instinct. She looked upon the clashing waves, liquid handshakes brushing against her ears. Most of the time, Katie felt, her gut was the epitome of trustworthy. When had her belly ever failed her? In the end, mercenaries were hardly the most scrupulous of types, but this was a whole different kind of money-soldier mystery. She felt it in her gut.

Katie was nudged out of her trance when Saoirse’s head found her shoulder. She smiled down, delighted by her friend’s ability to calm her at all the right moments. Saoirse had since become an established member of the grand and glorious Tranquility crew, fit to clash mugs of grog with the rest of them, but her being the latest addition to that crew and a Goran at that always made her special in Katie’s eyes. Not to mention, Chloe wasn’t always the greatest conversationalist, both because she was the ship’s first mate and because she was Chloe. Becoming best friends forever with Saoirse had been the easiest challenge in the world.

“More than a day on shore…” Katie felt her lips spread as she gazed forward at the astronomical dusk, the horizon painted by a darkness which crawled up and down to cover the last few hues of blue and orange in black, as though devoured by a supermassive hole of its namesake. As bleak as it sounded, it was one of the most beautiful sights that Katie ever took in, and she never missed it for a heartbeat. “Oh I would love to see your home, Saoirse! Maybe between the two of us,” She stifled a laugh. “We can holds hands and pout till the cap’n’ has no choice but to throw us ashore!” Katie giggled.

The Dodge Captain

Mal shifted in his booth, resting his back against the wall with an arm across the table. Turning his glass upon the wood, marveling at the white froth drifting atop a sea of black, he took a moment to reflect. It was most discourteous for a man of such caliber to forsake offering the lady a glass of fine wine or a pint of the gentleman’s ale, but he figured it would have just made whatever was left in the woman’s narrow belly to come spewing up to splat Captain Mallister Keynion in the face. Mal relished long sentences, but not vomit. Besides, with Cook soon to bring over a bowl of courbin whiskey and then some, he had deduced that all would be forgiven in the end. However, perhaps her just watching him drink would put her at ease. After all, when was the last time she had laid eyes on such a handsome, swashbuckling swashbuckler?

“That’s precisely why I asked it.” Mal took the glass of black ale to his lips, closed his eyes and lifted his head back. It was room temperature, and the night would prove to be a cool breeze of truth. “Odd questions at odd times can make for the plainest of answers, and it’s plain to see that you care for this lad.” He set the glass back down and sighed in relief. Alcohol was its own tonic. “I don’t cater to child rings, ma’am. The only prisoners I take aboard my ship are those I plan on turning in myself, or my crew when it gets too drunk. I don’t run hostage fares, and I don't run slaves. Thankfully, it’s plain to see that that’s not what this kid is to you.” Mal might have smiled then, but his gold-statue of a face was too serious to lose itself in the moment. His eyes shifted then, and he cleared his throat. “Long sentences accounted.”

Edited by Die Shize

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Saoirse laughed, wrapping her arm around Katie’s ribs. “I’m sure we can do that. Or I could just tell him my sister requests my presence for more than a few days, and he’ll bend himself into a corkscrew to please her.” Saoirse grinned. “She tends to have that effect on people, you know. Her husband, especially.” She squeezed Katie and released her, slipping down from the railing to look out at the eastern horizon. “It used to be a source of great amusement for us, just watching Aine bend Vadrian to her will. It’s a good thing it was her who was in line for Lady, really. The rest of us just don’t have the countenance for court manners.” She shook her head at the thought of any of her other sisters being the Lady Dawnwood. Aoife would as soon slit voice boxes as she would use her own, Maire simply didn’t have the patience for the politics, Daimhin didn’t have the edge or cunning for it - and she, herself, well. She’d sooner steal food from a monkey than sit in court.

She looked over at Katie again, a small smile on her face. “Remind me - I forget how much I’ve told you about Wolfwood. Have I told you the stories of the Heart-tree and their pulse? Oh! Or the story about how Aine fell out of a tree and dead snapped her nose?” She laughed, clasping her hands together. “You know, it never set straight! She still has a little ridge where the bone came out her skin.”

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So the pirate had morals. Transporting stolen goods, fugitives, alcohol, and hallucinogens were all well and good, but slaves were a step too far. It was as comforting as it was irritating. The incessant questions were too prying. It was something Demarius had grown unused to in the time she’d spent rising to power. The disgust that rolled through her belly briefly presented itself as her top lip stretched across sharp teeth.

The flash of emotion disappeared as swiftly as it came. “If you must know,” she began, “for the duration of this journey, he is my assistant.”

She could give it to him for his apparent concern, but it was wholly unnecessary. It was well-known through the Underworld that Mal and his crew specialized in certain types of cargo while shying away from others. They seemed to adhere to their own morality, with more than one fugitive working aboard the ship, itself. 

The apparent mistrust that prompted such a line of questioning obviously came more from curiosity than anything else or it would have come earlier. The moment Andersen boarded the ship carrying their trunks. The moment he changed to reveal the bands around his throat and wrists. The moment he apologized having regained consciousness. 

“He does not work for me against his will. I do not employ free labor.” Demarius narrowed her eyes at him. 

Edited by #Rivers
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The Greasemonkey

 Ambience

Spoiler

http://tabletopaudio.com/age_of_sail_sp.html

"Bow Wash Light"
"Wind"
"Rigging Groans"
"Mast Creaks"
 

Katie emitted a playful gasp of mock-shock at Saoirse’s words, always amused at her ability to use the Lady Aine, her own sister, as a device for personal gain, however light the fancy. Oh, Seer, you wicked girl! Katie’s smile was ever the more prominent as her friend gave her a great big hug before bouncing her tail away. Gosh, to be able to move like her. Why can’t I be a monkey too!? The beloved title of “Greasemonkey” which she O so proudly donned wasn’t quite the same thing. She remained seated as she watched her friend, enjoying chill air against her skin and the background view of black seas stretching beyond Saoirse.

“Yep, but never enough!”, she giggled, shoulders bopping up and down to contain herself from the thought. Aine Dawnwood was a beautiful woman, weren’t no mistake, and on the few times that Katie had lain eyes on her she had seen only a nose that was simply an extension of a cute countenance. Katie herself might never wear clothes like the Lady of House Dawnwood, but she could only dream of looking half as pretty in them. “Oh gosh, you have to tell me about the nose one again, Seer!” Katie could certainly do with an evening story before it would be time to tie the ropes, and she absolutely loved hearing Goran stuff. A woodlander she was not, but she liked to think she had some tree sap in her veins all the same.

The Dodge Captain

 Ambience

This one could probably bite off my hand and I wouldn’t even know it until I started to scream. It was a humbling thought as Mal sat there watching his fare curl her lip, like a lady of the evening he had just admitted to having no means to compensate, or said lady’s mother who just found out that said lady was a lady of the evening on account of one drunk captain crawling out of her bed. Sitting there blinking, he kind of hoped that his new friend couldn’t read thoughts. Assistant for the duration of the journey, she had said. That wasn’t unremarkable, and though it might speak to an ogre who would eat the kid when all the play was over, it also, quite naturally, spoke to an agent who was giving her all to limit the details of her mission to the captain that granted that mission its voyage. Mal wasn’t much for mind games, except when it came to James (yet those hardly counted), but there was more in this woman’s look than a simple none-of-your-business. It was more of a stay-away-from-my-kid kind of look, even if they were just two girlfriends having a conversation. Mal could respect that.

“I can respect that”, he licked his lips as he set his mug down. “I, as well, do not employ free labor.” Mal had no idea where he was going with those words, eyes bouncing left and right in the awkward pause that followed. She could probably sense the truth that he had simply intended on saying something that would equalize the air of badass boasts between the two. “I mean, I pay my crew.” He looked left. “As in, they’re not slaves.” He held up a finger. “You know what, enough about slaves and freedom for one drink. Suffice to say, your boy’s safe as long as he’s on this ship. Thing is—“

“Almost ready!”, Cook called from the kitchen. Mal shot a glance at the wall in front of it before continuing on uninterrupted. “Thing is, there ain’t no telling what kind of course correction we might needs taking to as we keep floating on, and there are some folk out there less scrupulous than me and mine who we might run into. It’s a whole week to Summer Island, and a whole lot longer without a ship to get us there.” A corner of Mal’s lips twitched as a frown fought for form. Suddenly he was as serious as he felt he ought to be. “Keep him close, is all I’m saying.” Mal meant his words more in agreement than advice; it was clear the mercenary and the mercenary’s aide were already close, and it hadn’t taken an overboard mistress to prove it.

Child or not, the mercenary needed him, and ‘need him alive’ was plain to see on her face. If he managed to hold a brief silence, he gazed intently into her eyes as though the whole world were about to be drowned by the very seas they were drifting upon, and he was asking her what she was going to do to survive it. “But, really, I just wanted to see if you would answer or not.” Mal smiled and took a swig. He was starting to like Miss Mischief and all her mischievous ways of mischief.

Edited by Die Shize

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Saoirse grinned and adjusted her stance, setting her elbows on her knees and leaning forward for the maximum dramatic effect. “Okay. So. We’re all playing chase with the monkeys, right? Aine has, maybe, eleven midsummers, I’ve got maybe seven. We’s been playing this since we could walk, right? An’ Aine’s stable as anyone in the trees, stable as a elephant is on ground, an’ she’s off ahead like always. Then she’s got the monkey, an’ she’s turning so he can chase, right? An’ then she’s just … she’s just gone. And we’s stopping, looking for her, because she’s just gone. And then Aoife’s looking down, an’ we’s looking at Aoife, because why’s she looking down? And then we look down, and Aine’s down there, on the floor, blood pouring! An’ it’s lucky it’s summer so she’s got none to stain, because it wouldn’ta been a stain, it’d’ve been dye, the rate as it’s coming outa her. An’ so we’s all out of the tree quicker than you could fall, an Aine’s all crossed in her eyes, looking at the bone coming outa her nose, ‘cause she’s fallen right on her face, not caught herself on her hands. Lucky Aoife had done the same last winter, an’ she got it right and set, except it weren’t right. An’ ever since Aine’s had a bend in her nose at the top, where the bone came out.”


Saoirse leant back, clapping her hands together. “Look proper at her when you see her next. She’s got a scar an’ all there.”

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This time, Demarius didn’t hold back the urge to roll her eyes. She had half-expected this type of nosy-ness from the crew. Sharing close proximity with guest would catch the attention of many. Curiosity killed the cat, though, and Demarius wouldn’t hesitate if the confidential conversation between herself and the captain got out to the rest of the crew. 

Andersen didn't necessarily need that kind of attention, but she could tell that he was restless for it. The boy might be tired from tending to her most of the day, but she saw the curious looks he shot every time someone said something that piqued his interest. 

The faster she could end this getting to be pointless conversation, eat, and leave the captain’s presence, the faster she could retire to her quarters for the night. “...I had assumed that much.” Demarius let the words fall from her lips and slam against the wooden table. 

What came out as a warning had her raising an eyebrow in vague irritation. He had to know that she was more than capable of handling her own, ward or no. Sitting back in her seat, Demarius smirked to herself before looking back up at the captain himself. “Are your crew members so disloyal as to warrant the extra precautions?” She questioned as she allowed a small smile to tilt her lips up.

“Sacrifice begets compromise, does it not?” 

Edited by #Rivers
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 The Greasemonkey

As Saoirse got situated, Katie could only do the same, feeling a smile on her face getting wider and wider to the point that it could go no further even though it wanted to. She loved a good story from beginning to end, but her favorite part was the anticipation of being told one. As Saoirse told it, Katie nodded her head, “Uh huh’d” and “Mhm’d” at all the right moments, and still her smile somehow managed to broaden. Little gasps and sniggers escaped alongside, till everything combined and the sheer spectacle of being told a story by Seer became as a volcano in eruption and took the form of Katie’s own hands clapping together as a tremendous roar of laughter escaped her chest. It might have taken its own form of a high-pitched chuckle, but the humor was entirely genuine. It wasn’t the first time she had heard this tale, but it wasn’t the hundredth either, and hopefully it wouldn’t be the last.

“Oh, I might pee my pants! That’s too rich! You’ll have to point it out to me when we see her next, just in case I still don’t notice! Though after that, I’m probably gonna think about nothing else all night!”

As the laughter died down, Katie found herself gazing into the descent of darkness, smile still plastered on her visage, thoughts bubbling from comedy to complications. For one reason or the other, images of Saoirse, Aine, Wolfwood, Dawnwood, Tranquility and Miss Demarius reflected upon the deep blue to gaze back at her. Gradually, her lips curled back inward to form a rigid line with concern layered in between.

“Getting late. I suppose I should check the rigging before we hit the sack. So peaceful up here, though, hey Seer?”

Katie sought agreement and expected nothing less, her mind slipping more and more into a world of its own as her eyes remained locked with the gently clashing waves down below, the breeze of night’s coming tickling her skin. Peaceful. Tranquil. I love our ship. I just hope we haven’t picked up any cargo that might threaten it. It was a silly thought. Demarius was hardly the worst-looking fare that Tranquility had offered passage to, but there was something unsettling about her. The more Katie thought about it, the more she realized that it wasn’t Demarius at all—no aspect of her character or trace of her background—and it wasn’t the all the too innocent Andersen that went with her, but it was whatever secret mission she seemed to be on, like an omen traveled with her. Somehow, it spelled doom. Or, maybe, Miss Katie, you’re just thinking too much. It wouldn’t have been the first time, and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

 The Dodge Captain

Mal sat there smiling with cup to lips, knowing his amusement of his guest’s eye-roll would be known, the chance to challenge her maintained attention all too evident on his features. It wasn’t as though he was trying to break her placidity, such as it was, and at this point he probably wasn’t even trying to get her to spill any beans. Hopefully that wasn’t literal, either, because the last thing he needed in his galley was seasick on the floor, on account of a gentleman sailor having already done so hours earlier. It had taken two just to clean it all up. Nasty business.

“Disloyal? Why, I’m shocked and hurt.” Mal crossed his brows and stiffened his lip to show that he was shocked and hurt. The truth of that false look and his tone of voice might have been as evident as his aimless words. “I’d have you know, Miss Demarius, that my ship boasts the kind of crew that would jump overboard to save a kitten from drowning.” Awkwardly, he recalled utterly no one jumping overboard to save her little friend alongside her. He cleared his throat in the hopes of masking that little detail. “Once you get to know us, you’ll find us to be pleasant enough, particularly in regard to fresh fares and their faces. I would just stay away from James, if I were you.”

He took a sip, pausing long enough to receive another raised brow or a word as to why. “He’s only pleasant to be around . . . “ He trailed off, looking at a wooden wall and the picture of a rusty anchor for support before looking back. “ . . . Well, never, really. That one’s like a lost puppy barking at everyone for its mommy. The drooping ears of his hat might prove thus.” Mal shook his vision to shake himself back to the conversation at hand, such as it was, wiping away a black ale-mustache with a finger. He knew he could be a good liar, a great one on occasion, and even as the complexity of “good” and “liar” scrambled his brain, he couldn’t help but wonder if Demarius was beginning to realize that all this pointless talk was, in part, just his way of dodging something more important. The kid. Coincidence? That simple? He reckoned not. There was something oddly coincidental about the tip he had received and the timing of woman and child begging to board his boat. Well, maybe it wasn’t so much of a public begging, but if this pair of fares was who he thought they were, then they might have needed Captain Mallister’s discreet service more than they were letting on.

Amid the absentminded turning of his cup and the ogling at the depleting liquid nearer to the bottom of it, footsteps followed up with a man standing beside the table. Mal looked up to receive that man, spotting the familiar smile and the innocence behind it. Cook, the cook, stood before his patrons with a bowl in his hands that he held up until the moment that eyes would behold it before he set it down in front of Demarius.

“One order of goodbelly, madam, as promised.” Inside the bowl was a special concoction of boiled and cooled water, seaweed, nettles, ginger, lemon, peppermint and whiskey, all combining to form an aroma that didn’t quite differentiate one ingredient from the other, and didn’t quite sit in the nostrils as all of them combined. “It’s as much a dish as it is a remedy, and should sit well both on the tongue and in the stomach. “Goodbelly”, indeed.”

With that, Cook bowed his head and paced back into the kitchen, hands held behind his back and all. Mal watched him walk away before diverting his gaze to the bowl of goodbelly and the woman sat in front of it, smiling at her knowingly. If and when she finished smelling the remedy and dissecting it with her gaze, and finally put the first spoonful in her mouth and swallowed, he sought to clear his throat with a too-late interruption.

“Did Cook happen to tell you . . . “ He looked from her to the bowl, back at her, and blinked. “ . . . Ah, never mind. It’s not important.” Mal lost his smile, or at least half of it, narrowing his gaze to offer Demarius everything that was suspicious about it. That bowl of goodbelly would take away her sickness almost as soon as she finished drinking it, going down quick and easy and tasting palatable enough, but what captain, cook and crew had neglected to tell her was that it would also make her as drunk as a drunk celebrating independence day, almost as soon as she finished drinking it. Mal intended to remain sitting down to experience that and, in part, that was why he had been hanging down here with her long enough, talking about pretty much nothing.

It wasn’t Cook’s idea—he was just forced into Mal’s little prank of sorts—but Mal understood that a person was more likely to spill the beans when they were intoxicated. It wasn’t as though he was going to take advantage of the lady, probing for just a few details here and there, nothing too personal. Just, ah, something along the lines of why, exactly, you’re heading to the lands of House Dawnwood, and whether or not you’re running from something in the process? Plus, it wasn’t as though Demarius had sought more information about this seasickness remedy, which surely made it her own fault.

Finishing his ale, Mal held his expression, honest enough, at least, to give his fare the opportunity to figure this all out on her own. He wasn’t so much banking on the play working as he was banking on the play itself. There was easily the chance that she’d down the bowl and go pass out in her quarters, but where was the harm in trying? “I’ll take as much heat off you as I can manage”, he had told his closest. “It’s not that I don’t trust her,” he had continued, before every member of his deck department had interrupted him in unison with the words “It’s just that you don’t trust her”, to which he had pretended not to hear. If this works, she’ll not only wake up in the morning hangover-free, but wondering what exactly she told me the night before.

Edited by Die Shize

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Saoirse smiled and wormed her way into Katie’s side, wrapping her arm around her waist and leaning in close. “Very peaceful. It’s like the Heartwaters on the moon … ” Look into the waters, and they’d look just as surely into you, reflecting the truth whether you wanted it or not. Looking into the waters now, all Saoirse could see was quiet contentment and longing for her bed. It had been quite the day, and she was ready to put it aside.

She slowly pulled away from Katie after a moment of quiet thought, looking up at her with a smile. “I’ll help with the rigging. That way we get to bed quicker, and sleep even quicker still.” She nudged Katie with her hip and jumped over the railing of the crow’s nest before Katie could even accept her offer. It was a given that she would, anyway - Saoirse was the quickest climber aboard, after all. It was good sense.

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Demarius waited for the Cook to take his leave before she brought a spoonful of the soup up to her lips. It was the custom of many to not show disgust or distaste for food when presented with unfamiliar dishes, and Demarius had not the energy to repress any urge to grimace. But the warm broth burned down her throat like her father’s favorite brown and settled in the pit of her stomach without the discomfort she had anticipated. 

Allowing her eyes to flit up once as the Captain spoke and then interrupted himself, Demarius allowed the silence to settle while she took another sip of the soup. The small serving size was...interesting, and made sense considering the ingredients. 

Demarius glanced up once she was halfway through the bowl. The heat was simmering low in her belly and gently relaxing most of her muscles. By the time she finished her meal, she would need Andersen to escort her directly to bed. The Captain nor the Cook may not have disclosed each ingredient in the soup, but she couldn't be taken down on wine alone. 

“Your crew is your own responsibility, Captain,” she began, “My assistant and I are merely your charges.”

Demarius took a deep breath, biting down on her bottom lip at the sudden thrill of excitement that ran through her veins. Soon this conversation would be over and he could stop looking at her with the thinnest veiled curiosity. 

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 The Dodge Captain

Mal watched Demarius like a cat watches a mouse. Every look she gave her goodbelly, every spoon she dipped inside it, every swallow that followed—like a predator monitoring its prey and waiting for the right moment to pounce. As surely as Shirley was named Shirley, whoever Shirley was, that moment came. He could see it in her eyes. As she digested her soup, Mal digested her words.

“My responsibility is quite right, Miss Demarius.” He smiled knowingly, contrasting her spoonfuls with a sip from his mug. “And, like it or not, while you are on this boat, you and your friend, as my charges, also fall under my responsibility. They don’t call me captain of the ship without accord.”

Mal paused to let that sink in and to grant himself some further staring. If she’s not feeling tipsy yet, she should be in, oh, a couple of minutes. But her mind should already be loosening up, and whatever walls left standing by the dark and mysterious, dive-from-deck, shady, mysterious Miss Demarius might just come crumbling down.

“You know, if I got my bearings right, I’ve been the one doing most of the talking. Isn’t there something you wanted to speak frankly about? Privately?” He checked their surroundings, noticing what few patrons had been in the galley had since left their seats empty. When the opportunity for sleep came, his crew tended to seize it. Mal leaned back at leisure, keeping his tone casual, letting no amusement show on his face, though it was sure creeping up his spine. “Such as, perhaps, why you might have chosen this ship to fetch a fare to Orisia, of all places? Your business is your own, of course, and I’m not in the business of prying, but it is a mite curious.” Just a mite.

An able woman with a boy. That’s what Raccoon had told him, though “able woman” from that man’s mouth could have meant a number of things best left not known. Still, the other dots seemed to connect. Armed and dangerous. Raccoon had added that part while standing in a circle of his armed and dangerous henchmen talking to the armed and dangerous crew of Tranquility in an armed and dangerous world so, granted, not all evidence stacked up. Then again, perhaps “armed and dangerous” was more in reference to an event than a status. The kind of description somebody puts on somebody else when that somebody else has broken a law or, maybe, just broken out of captivity.

The Greasemonkey

Katie could have cuddled up to Saoirse and slept right in the crow’s nest all night. She’d never had a sister, and as she pressed her cheek against her friend’s head she realized the lie in that statement. Seer was the closest thing to a sister she might ever have. “Heartwaters on the moon…” she repeated. The Goran tongue could be so poetic, and mentioning the moon did well to turn Katie’s gaze to the darkening sky and the stars showing their splendor among their pale master in its waxing gibbous. When Saoirse stirred, it was the sign that relaxing was at an end and it was time to mosey, so Katie rose with her.

“Right behind ya, monkey!”

Saoirse might have been more physically like a monkey than Katie, climbing rigging, masts and trees when she could, but Katie was of the mechanical make nonetheless, greasing her palms at every opportunity. As her friend went to work ahead of her, Katie let the sea’s wind ruffle her hair in its welcoming gust and went about securing the black sails first and foremost. The night’s covers, pulling us along and putting us to sleep. She tied rope just a little tighter, running her fingers up and down a sail to inspect how taunt it was, even scoping out the odd bolt here and there just to make sure it was truly bolted in.

As the minutes rolled by, she had caught back up to Saoirse on the deck, itself sparse of occupants where most had taken to the cot save for posted sentries and a few deckhands. A nod at Waltz’s salute at the wheel showed that he was still here and all, though probably just enjoying the leisure of doing little at the wheel while Tranquility floated forward along calm waves like she were sleeping too. Always the watcher. It wasn’t unusual for Waltz to enjoy his time alone at the same time as enjoying time with Chloe. How those two had ever managed to become ‘two’ was a story that no member of the crew felt they had heard every detail of yet.

“Hey, Seer!” Katie nudged her fist against Saoirse’s shoulder, after catching up to her starboard amidships. “That oughtta just about do it! We’ll leave the rest to the moon and stars and . . . “

She trailed off, catching herself staring over Saoirse’s shoulder in the black beyond. How had she not seen that before? Especially in the crow’s nest? Must have just come close enough to pop up…

“ . . . Is that . . . “ She removed a hand again and pointed into the distance. “ . . . Is that a boat?” Despite all her time at sea, even all her time up in the nest or climbing rigging of her own, it was just too dark to make out the almost pale, small shape on the horizon; little more than a marble with just enough light and color to be made out. Another boat on the water wasn’t at all unusual, but it didn’t take Captain Mallister Keynion to speculate that another ship had a fifty-fifty approval rate of being either a friend or a foe. For those in the line of business that the crew of the Tranquility were in, “foe” tended to be leaned toward more than “friend”, despite Katie’s optimism.

Edited by Die Shize

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Saoirse turned to Katie when she felt her hand on her shoulder, her lips parting to respond before she saw Katie’s gaze fix on the horizon. She whipped around to follow her friend’s gaze, brow furrowing as she too spotted the speck. She raced over to the side of the ship, jumping up onto the edge to get a better view. “That’s a pretty odd shaped rock if it ain’t a boat.” She stared out at it for another beat before jumping back down, mind already racing ahead in case they’d come to blows. “Mal’s in the mess, yes?” She didn’t wait for a response, just racing down below decks to find the captain. She didn’t even think that he might still be with Demarius until she’d already burst into the room, but the possibility of an approaching enemy ship still seemed more important than whatever doublespeak game these two were playing. “Cap’n.” She took a deep breath, more winded from adrenaline than exertion. “Mal, we’ve got a ship on the horizon.”

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The expression on the Captain’s face was one of a man that couldn't count cards. It was that thought alongside his words that brought a smile to Demarius’ lips. She supposed that the captain was good-looking in a rugged way; freckled and suntanned from years spent exposed to nothing but the sun and open sea. Still, Demarius thought as she brought another spoonful of the soup to her lips, the man was foolish if he always counted his eggs before they hatched.

The question itself was funny enough to make her laugh, so she did. Demarius allowed her laughter to fade into a smirk before she spoke again. “I did want to speak privately, Captain.” She indulged in the last of the bowl of goodbelly before continuing. It doesn't involve my reasons for being in Orisia so much as it does Andersen,” she told him as she waved the thought away. Demarius couldn't quite help the way she bit down on her bottom lip and looked down for up at him through her eyelashes. “That was cute though,” she assured him.

It took a moment for her to gather herself. Once she was sure her words wouldn't run too far away from her, Demarius straightened her shoulders and spoke again. “Andersen is a very...capable young man. He is traveling with me, but I won't need him at my side for the entirety of this voyage.” His constant fretting over her health was proof enough of that. “So, if you need an extra hand and it doesn't interfere with his primary duties to me—” she paused, shooting the captain a pointed look, “—he's yours. The boy needs to socialize.”

With a shrug, Demarius reached for her glass. The trip wouldn't last longer than a few more days, and some time to herself would certainly go a long way in the work that still needed to be done before landfall. She sipped her drink as the exasperated girl from before ran up to their table. A ship on the horizon was interesting, indeed. 

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