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In Bandar Eban; History RP, ATTN: Winter Myst

Shalon Casbin

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Rhia stood the deck of the raker that sped toward the mainland with impossible speed. The mainland was still a sliver on the horison, but already Rhia could feel frustration starting. Being docked for days at a time waiting for the Cargomaster to fill the hulls with more goods was a necessary task, as necessary as she herself was to the guiding of the craft below her, but it was still time away from the open seas, away from the freedom that she had learned to love and take for given. At sea there was no one to order you but those on your ship, it made for a tight knit crew, but losing that freedom, that right to self-reign, always chaffed until returned with there departure to the open waters.


Rhia stood alone on the deck. Deckhands and sailors alike ran along the deck and worked the ropes and sails, but she stood alone, separate from them. They knew by now when Rhia Wove the Winds, and few men were willing to bother her as she did her task.


Saidar was the glory of the Sea, of life, emitted from every pore, every fiber that was her being. The feeling was so that she wanted to lose herself in it, to hold as much as she could draw. If that were not a sure way to find yourself dead or unable to any longer Call the Winds or weave the currents, the thought of which was enough in itself to stop her from overdrawing on the Power. Still, it did not diminish it's sweetness.


The Sailsmistress lay below deck, her eyes red and puffy and her chest filled with mucus that she coughed and choked on constantly. As soon as the woman had taken sick she had secluded herself below deck until the sickness passed. They could not risk disease spreading among the crewmen, a ship left only so much room to escape sickness, and the more people sick, the less room to stay safely. Rhia was the only one allowed to see the Sailsmistress, it was known those who could Call the Winds did not catch sickness like normal people, and Rhia did not like the idea of the Sailsmistress stuck alone below deck all day and night. Three days she had been there so far, and by the look of things she would be there throughout there stay in Bandar Eban.


Rhia wore a sea green silk blouse, with matching pantaloons and a yellow sash tied around her waste, already prepared for docking. As soon as land had shown it's first sliver on the horizon she had donned her top and begun setting coarse. The docks of the harbor were ow clear to her eyes, Bandar Eban rearing up around the port was a thriving trade city, and the noise of it reached all the way to the ship's deck as they entered the bay.


Rhia stopped her weaving well short of land, as they passed into the bay she released the Source and allowed her weaves to dissipate. Now long oars were being lowered into the water to deftly maneuver the ship into position at the end of one long wooden dock.


Workmen on the docks tossed heavy ropes to the ship so they could tie themselves off to insure the ship would not move, and the sounds of the dock men filled the air. So much for the peaceful sound of waves lapping at the hull. The gangplank was lowered to allow a man with a clipboard, who was already coming up the dock from somewhere in the hardor, to come aboard. Rhia nearly laughed at the frustration on the man's face. Clearly he had dealt with the Cargomaster of this ship before. Sure enough Farlin appeared on deck with his sword behind his sash, his bare chest glistening faintly. He met the man with a small grin and the two went below deck, Farlin talking the whole way.


Rhia sighed inwardly, with the Sailsmitress sick it fell to her to take on the duty's that she normal took no part in. Any trading done in the port would have to be done by her, and she was not sure how she felt about that. Her Sailsmistress was still new to her, only two years on her decks did not make for very deep connections, not yet, and if she misstepped even a hair it might ruin any chances she had at getting on with the other woman.

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Bandar Eban. Dilora had promised herself she would see the sights of the world and one of the first locations she had vowed to visit was Arad Doman. She was keeping her business head firmly on her shoulders, however. The scandalously dressed merchants famed for clouding a prospective customer’s wits with their amazing grace and beauty were people that Dilora definitely considered to be rivals, although she thought she could find a way to outwit them. Customers that were a little more knowledgeable about the area would go to a face that did not look to be native to Arad Doman rather than pay more for an item they weren’t sure they wanted, but really wanted to please the seller. They would go to Dilora. She definitely did not look as a native of Bandar Eban, although she did have a hankering to try one of the very sheer dresses to see what they felt like. A peddler should know what he or she is selling, after all. Seeing one or two signs for seamstress’ shops, Dilora made a mental note to visit them before she left and to see if any had something white, sheer and, if possible, using as little fabric as possible.


Ah, there was bound to be a tavern by the docks! Thirsty sailors coming ashore from a long voyage would spend their pay on trying to recreate the feeling of being at sea by losing the sensation in their legs due to ale and staggering from one place to the other, akin to a storm. Some might even be clean and vermin-free! It was to those comforting arms she would make her way to set up shop before the rains came. Altie ambled over streets that smelled faintly of fish and the expanse of the oceans filled Dilora’s sight. Bandar Eban.


A majestic ship was just arriving as the wagon pulled onto the flat area before the wharves. It teemed with life, unloading, loading, animals and humans and cargo alike. Lines were thrown down and fastened, keeping the vessels secure against the tide and harsh weather. Brightly coloured shirts flashed in the sporadic sunlight that filtered from violent clouds that looked as harried as some of the dockworkers. It was a breathtaking sight. Noises babbled all around her, and it brought new life and enthusiasm to Dilora, making her want to stay a little while on the harbour walls and watch to see what the occupants were like. They had to be Atha’an Miere, the Sea Folk of whom she had heard as being as shrewd traders as the Domani.


The Atha’an Miere – rumour would have them as being the most beautiful creatures in the world that moved with grace immeasurable. Ebon dark, and as exquisite as the night sky over an ocean, the stories had them portrayed. This was the first time she had been so close to them, however. Now, she would see if the stories were true. Dilora ate a piece of honeyed candy taken from her belt pouch, and her horse’s head turned around at the sound. The mare was canny; she’d give her that. At the first sound of Dilora reaching into her pouch, the mare assumed it was either for a sweet or an apple, and immediately presumed it was for her. If she was only loosely tethered and in proximity to Dilora, nudges and nips could be expected until finally she gave in to the horse and let her have a sweet.


“Not likely, Altie.”


Her horse looked hurt. Dilora could never resist such sad eyes, and gave in. It’s a good job she pulls the wagon around so quickly or she’ll get fat and not fit in the shafts! After a while, the pats to the nose had seemed to deliver the message to the mare, but every so often she did manage to tug the heartstrings of her mistress enough to yield the prize. The figures were coming ashore now, Dilora noticed, and looking decidedly uncomfortable being on land.

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Rhia knew that no traders would come aboard the ship unless they met her elsewhere first. How else could they know what goods she had brought to take interest unless she walked among them and attracted there attentions. Still it was a loathsome thing walking off of the ship deck and feeling the hard planks beneath her bare feet.


She no more noticed the swaying motion of her hips that was customary in finding an equilibrium on the sea, than she noticed the golden medallions and thin chain connecting her nose ring to her ear ring. That was not to say others did not notice, far from it. Most of the more sea salty appearing men took her in with leering smiles. They knew the appearance of the Atha'an Miere on sight, and doubly the fool, they thought she was wanting to attract there fancies. That slow ache that she know so well began to rise in her breast. She could feel to stoney ground beneath her, and it never moved! Quietly she added another tick to the already forming list of disgruntlements since docking.


Rhia walked past a female merchant and her horse, she seemed to be speaking to the beast! Horses were dangerous animals, you would never see her so near one. Some Mainlanders had little more since than a stuck flounder. The scent of the sea was still strong on the coastline, but Rhia raised the gilded scent box on her neck to her nose with a grimace, it was something she did sometimes to calm her nerves.


Cursing, a fat balding man in shirtsleeves and breeches rolled to his knees, nearly bumped into her and reflexively she'd shoved him back. Unfortunately the man tipped off balance and fell into the choppy shoal waters. Rhia laughed expectantly,but the man began shouting curses and swimming for shore of all things! Did these people truly enjoy the sea that was there livelihood so little?


Dismissing the few odd stares some gave her, she walked towards one of the only Inns that she knew in the city. There were only three the Sailsmistress would visit here, and Rhia had only been to one of them, so to the Sailor's Harbor it was she ventured. The walk was not a long one but by the time Rhia found a sign of a woman with the lower half of her body as a fish tail sitting on an island hanging above the door of a large three storied inn, she was ready to have a seat.


Walking into the common room Rhia walked past the doorman, a large fellow who looked as if he had come out on the losing side of more than one fight, and looked at the common room. There were perhaps ten people in the room aside from the innkeeper's wenches and the innkeeper herself. Rhia smiled for the woman as she came from behind the nicely polished bar to bow in that odd way to Rhia.


"If you will allow me to seat you?" the woman's voice was pleasant enough and Rhia simply smiled and dipped her head slightly as a reply and followed the woman to a table in the back of the room, close to the large white gray veined marble fireplace. There was a warm blaze in the hearth but Rhia sat in front of it despite the heat. She wanted to see those who approached her before they were on her back, these were not the Isles.


The woman, Failriel Asnuai, bowed again once Rhia was seated, if she kept up with all that bowing she was going to fall out of that dress, Rhia was sure. Smiling Rhia tried to make her voice something more than sulky, she hated being sulky as much as she did being here, it fed to a slow boirling anger, and she had to take a moment to keep a smile on her face.


Asking for a pitcher of her best wine, a sweet one mind none of that tart grape alcohol that these people seemed to favor, the woman walked back towards the kitchens. Rhia took a moment to study the room around her. The Inn was well established, if not richly adorned. The walls were painted in the style of wooden planks, like one would see in the hull of a boat, the art was so good that Rhia found a small pleasure among all the discomfort. All of the shining brandished lamps were in the style of those carried on a ship, built to withstand waves and motion, they were safely protected in metal barring. The stairs at the other end of the room appeared a walkway to an upper deck. The whole illusion was set of by serving maids wearing sea britches and short shirts with low cut necks. The Innkeeper herself looked a true sea hag, if a pretty one.


The wine reached the table and Rhia poured her own glass, and tasting it she found pleasingly enough, it was peach wine. She gave the woman the coin for the pitcher and enough to see it refilled if need be, Rhia told her she could keep whatever was left, and even it she drank five pitchers, there was still enough there for a healthy tip. More likely, the maid knew as well as Rhia, one pitcher, maybe two and she would leave this inn and go back to her ship.


The woman smiled and bowed twice as lowly as before, murmuring that she would see to it personally, the woman bowed again as she walked away! These people were very strange indeed. Looking up Rhia noticed a woman coming in the door. That peddler that had been outside talking to her horse. Rhia smiled at the remembrance of the fool man's face as he went into the water, and took a deep drink of wine.

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“Come on, girl.”


Dilora clucked the mare onwards, pulling her brightly painted wagon towards the stable-yard of one of the nearest taverns. The one the Sea Folk woman had made her way towards. She was fascinating! The way she walked was hypnotic – it was all Dilora could do not to stare open-mouthed as she walked past. She knew it would be acceptable for the men to do so, but the women? Even broad-minded Domani might have a little bit of trouble with that. She pulled her gaze away and examined the horizon; more ships bobbed in the harbour than she remembered seeing in a long time. Times were good, it seemed. Then her view changed into bustling streets and windows hung with light curtains. Occasionally, a face would appear at one of the upper windows and beckon to the street. Light! Dilora needed that drink, and she needed it soon.


The Sea Folk woman was headed for the same tavern that Dilora was, it seemed. The sign out front was dimly visible in the iron-grey sky, barely discernible from the waves behind her. Bad weather was approaching, and she did not need a Wisdom to tell her that. Hitching Altie to a post and locking the wagon securely in the yard behind the tavern, Dilora entered the “Sailor’s Harbour.”


She had not been inside many ships before, short of the odd river barge, so Dilora assumed this was what a cabin of a real sea-going vessel was like. Planed timbers on the walls, gimballed lamps hanging from brass fittings on the wall, and polished oak beams in places she had thought looked rather tasteful. It sort of reminded her of the inside of her wagon on a dark night, when the storms were lashing it and she had been torn between wanting to get in her cunning fold-out bed and making sure her horse wasn’t too uncomfortable. The canvas attached to poles from the top of her wagon gave adequate shelter, so eventually the need for her own comfort won, and Dilora crawled into her blankets with a book and read until a candle burnt low.


“Pint of your finest please, landlady!”


Dilora smiled, radiating confidence and looking around to see if there were any likely people to buy from her. For now, she just wanted a drink, but later she had a feeling she would want to sell things. The Sea Folk woman was sat at a table, her bright blouse a relief in a sea of brown and sombre colours. The odd sheer Domani gown was seen here and there, and the odd garment of another country. Dilora took a sip from her drink and laid the coin down on the counter and headed towards the table the Sea Folk woman sat at. Hopefully she wouldn’t mind some company, and Dilora definitely wanted to meet her…

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Rhia watched over a goblet of wine as the peddler ordered a drink from the Innkeeper, smiling and talking. With a small smile on her lips she greeted the woman as the approached the table.


The woman was attractive, and she carried a fresh scent. Her long brown wair was brushed and glistened cleanly in the lamplight of the room. Rhia liked the ivory skin that seemed so common among these people, it was exotic in a way that she found becoming. She was trim of build, but had the look of quickness about her. So, she thought, at least she seems nice enough"If it pleases the Light, you may sit down and drink with me?" Pleasant tones, she was only brisk when it came with men, Rhia made the statement sound more a suggestion.


As the woman seated herself at the table, Rhia took a moment to sip her wine. Peddlers were a well of information, and in times like these it paid to know news of events among the Shorebound, as boring as it was to have to study the affairs of a people she cared nothing about past the docks of there harbors. Still she was respectful in all her motions, everything had to be calming to make for the best trades, no one expected such a mild mannered person to trade so vigorously.


Rhia picked the scent box from around her neck up without thought and sniffed it deeply. She longed to be back on the sea. She refilled her wine cup, had she drank all that?, and watched a young woman bring another mug of ale for the table, apparently she really did mean to watch Rhia's table all night.


Looking past the woman Rhia saw a man walk in, average of hight and nothing on him to stand him out from any crowd, but there was something about him. He moved up the stairs in the back and was gone, Rhia turned her study back to the woman before her with a smile. Picking up her cup and took a deep drink, feeling the tightness behind her eyes ease a small bit.


Rhia sat down her cup and spoke casually. "I am Rhia Alior Din Twinwaves, Windfinder to Siorea Cal Rien Long Eyes, Sailsmistress of the ship Wavedancer, by the Light I am pleased to meet you." smiling she waited for the other woman to introduce herself. It was much the same as a dance, as complicated as any shea dancer had ever wriggled through.

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She slid into the seat indicated, and set her pint on the table in front of her. It wasn’t a bad little place, when it all came down to it, and Dilora was pleased someone had welcomed her. The dark face of the Sea Folk woman smiled back at her, open and friendly, and Dilora smiled warmly.


“I am Dilora Fashelle, and I am a peddler. I’m visiting Arad Doman on my first peddling venture alone and, I have to say, it’s very nice so far.” Dilora extended her hand in greeting and shook the other woman’s, noting the patches of hard skin that were likely caused by rope or rigging and the strength behind it. Inwardly wincing at the multiple piercings the woman had, Dilora made herself comfortable and started making polite chit-chat about the conditions of the road, and asked how the passage across was.


Crossing her feet at the ankles, Dilora leaned back in her chair and pondered briefly while she pretended to close her eyes as though eminently relaxed. What bargains could she make with the Sea Folk to ensure that Dilora could supply items no one else could inland? Even the hardiest Tairen and Mayener ships that ventured for the oilfish did not have access to some things … salvage, perhaps?


What if they found cuendillar? Stories of that mythical creation cropped up every now and again, and it warmed a peddler’s heart and pocket to dream of finding something that would ensure a comfortable retirement. The only thing nicer would be a barrel of brandy to warm the cockles on a cold day. Ah, that reminded her…


Another sip of her ale passed her lips and warmed her belly. Someone had told her that seaweed had a use in cookery, but Dilora was uncertain she’d want to eat sea-greenery. There had to be other things she could sell. Seashells, porcelain … she’d have to talk business with this woman soon, but for now all Dilora wanted was her ale, and a sit down.


“Tell me a bit about yourself, Rhia Alior din Twinwaves.”

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Rhia realized with a small surprise that her cup was empty once more. She needed to watch how much she was drinking, getting drunk to early could make for a fogged head later, when you needed your wits for the trade.


Pouring another cup of wine, Rhia purposefully left the cup sitting on the table as she spoke to the other woman. She spread her arms wide, as if an open book, "Me, there is nothing to tell really, I sail the sea on the deck's of my Sailsmistress, and when she happens to be left unable to come ashore, I come to fill her place. As is why I am sitting here before you."


Rhia tilted her cup back and took another small sip, well maybe not so small. She nearly choked when she realized she had picked the cup back up without thought. Placing the cup a little farther from herself on the table she shook her head slightly. A mistake she knew as soon as she did it. The jewelry on her nose chain glittered in the light of the lamps, swaying with the motion of her head, and her eyesight became fuzzy. For a moment she felt as if the inn were spinnning around her. She caught her equilibrium in time to stop from swaying off of her seat.


Smiling she laughed easily, "I do need to take my time with this wine, it is stronger than it tastes. Would you care to try a cup?" Rhia motioned with her hand to the pitcher, offering the woman to pour herself a glass.


Smiling, Rhia picked up her cup and took a sip, peering over the rim. She felt a warmth in her middle, a calming reassurance that everything would be okay. The feeling only alcohol could produce. Rhia slowed down with her sips, but she was beginning to become quite happily intoxicated. "Where is it you come from Dilora Fashelle, what news do you have?"

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Dilora took another sip of her drink, quite happy to have found somewhere hospitable in an area that she didn’t know. She’d remember this place and return to it often, storing the name in her head for future reference. Dilora prided herself on never forgetting the name of an inn or tavern when she had stayed there once, and so the “Sailor’s Harbour” became another of those places listed in her mind. A Sailmistress unable to come ashore, and a Windfinder sent in her place? That spoke of an illness, and illness amongst the closed quarters of a ship would quickly spread unless it was properly contained, and even then it would still manage to seep through somehow. The other woman did not look unwell though… Maybe they would have need of some of her herbs.


“I’m from Baerlon originally, near the Mountains of Mist. I haven’t been long on the road, in fairness. This has been my first stop since the Two Rivers and believe me it had been a trip and a half to get here.” Dilora felt completely at her ease with the Windfinder and related to her how she had been chased halfway through the mountains by a great big bear, and then ambling onwards for a little while before venturing down into Arad Doman. She took another sip of drink, only momentarily thinking she spent far too long in taverns.


She set the pint aside and tried some of the wine. What was it she had heard while on the road? Make sure you have all your wits about you while dealing with the Sea Folk – they’ll sell you sand and make you believe it’s gold dust. Just like what they said about the Domani traders. Well, Dilora was fairly certain this one was all right. The wine was lovely, tasting faintly of honey, but it was strong!


“There is no real news of the road to speak of, Windfinder, but perhaps we could talk of more interesting things. I have never been on board a large ship before, and am very curious as to whether there is anything you’d need that I could supply. If I can do any favours for you I should be very happy to, but I would love to see inside a ship!”

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Rhia smiled as the other woman spoke. She tried hard to hide the fact that she had no clue where the Two River's was, or Baerlon beyond the fact it was on the Andorian border to Arad Doman.


However to say she did not know where they were, was far from saying she knew nothing about them. She did put names to the goods the Cargomaster carried, and there were caskets of good Two River's tabac in the hulls of the ship now. Baerlon though, she was unsure if she had ever heard anything of fine quality from the place, another town among many that the "shorebound put so much interest in.


To say the news was bland was an understatement, but the woman had said she had just chosen her profession, she was knew and just starting out in the world. Rhia was much the same, starting out with knew responsibilities and ship's duties. There was a kinship that Rhia felt with the other woman, a since of sameness that allowed her to be easy around her.


"I would be interested in any spices you might have, spices for fish mind, not that...other meat. Also, would you happen to know anything about herbs? If not it's fine, I will find one of these, Wise Women, to give me something to take back for my Sailsmistress."


Rhia paused and took a drink of wine that was rather long and smiled as she sat the empty cup back on the table. She would not touch it again. The room around her seemed to want to tilt with a familiar motion she felt at sea. Being at land like this wasn't so bad, not when she didn't think of the open water, expecially when the room around you gave feeling to the fact that you were indeed on a boat.


"You want to see the hull of the ship?" Rhia laughed and looked ruefully at the other woman, why would someone only wish to see the inside of his walls, what cargo was down there maybe? No, she did trust the woman for some unknown reason Too her it made no sense, but of course the shorebound were never said to make good sense. It took only moments before added casually, " Very well but the beauty of his riggings and decking is only appreciated properly when you you are sailing the ocean swells beyond the sight of land. But if you would like to see a ship, if it pleases the Light, I do invite you onto mine." Speaking as Sailmistress seemed to have a secret advantage in it, she could give the Gift if pressed for it here. One feather among a shower of needles. Spiny needles.


Suddenly remembering the beast that companioned the woman Rhia spoke rahter timidly, she did not want to hurt her new friend's feelings but that....horse would not come anywhere near her, much less the ship.


"Your animal will have to stay ashore, I can have a deckhand watch him for you while we are aboard?"

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“Yes, that is fine, Windfinder. I would be leaving my horse and my wagon here anyway because I don’t really need to travel anywhere. I shall take you up on your offer of a tour of your ship though – that would be lovely.” The wine was sweet, and strong, like sunlight beating down on a summer afternoon. And just as warming, Dilora admitted to herself. She really should find out where the innkeeper got it from and see if she couldn’t get a barrel of the stuff to sell on the road. Well, perhaps a little for personal consumption, but that didn’t matter too much.


She had heard talk of the “gift of passage” murmured in quiet corners from time to time, but now Dilora did not know if she had to offer something in exchange. Well, she was bound to have something the other woman wanted in her wagon or they could come to some sort of arrangement. Beyond the occasional paddle in the ponds and rivers as a girl, Dilora did not know if she was a strong swimmer, and hoped she would not be heaved unceremoniously over the side.


“As for spices, well, I have a fair few of those back in my wagon. There are some lovely wild grasses that grow around here that will give a delicate flavour to fish while it is cooked. It does sort of depend on how you cook the fish, but I believe I had something that is useful for any recipe.” Dilora remembered her spice drawers in one of the cabinets with her wagon and all the tiny compartments labelled with such and such. It was a melange of colours and smells, and reminded her of the town markets she had found in the majority of towns of her travels so far. Setting a leaf of the bay tree on a fillet of fish while baking it with some white wine would give the flesh a lovely, delicate flavour, while putting it in a sauce made from some of the more exotic, earthy powders would make a tantalisingly spicy sauce. True, that one ideally needed cream to thicken it just before serving, but a large pinch of winter crocus strands would turn the fish flesh golden and yellow, while powdered mustard seeds would give it a kick to warm anyone on a cold night. Although Dilora did not have many of the more exotic spices, she had enough to sell and to make sure she had a good meal, and if there was one thing Dilora liked more than anything, it was a good meal.


“I have spices that are also good for sweet things too. Preparing certain types of seaweed in a special way can result in a jelly that can be flavoured with berries or fruit, and of course I have a small keg of vinegars to make any pickles or chutneys your heart could desire. There is nothing nicer than a nice piece of fish with flatbread and a pickle or two. I hope to learn more about different types of cuisine while I’m here. Rumour has it of a pickle that takes limes, very good for vitamins, salt and vinegar with some hot peppers that will liven up any dry old biscuits.” Dilora realised she was going off at a tangent on one of her favourite subjects. If anyone got her talking about food, she could be relied upon to talk at length about it, particularly after a glass of wine. It was a wonder she did not make and sell the delicacies of home from the back of her wagon for extra money. I don’t know why I don’t… It would be good when I am running low on items for trade to become a mobile food vendor with different snacks from all over the world. Dilora’s Cosmopolitan Catering … I can see it now…


The Windfinder was looking at Dilora, cataloguing all the different types of recipes and waiting patiently for her to finish talking. Dilora smiled over her wine cup.

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Rhia smiled as the woman began to speak of food. Obviously she liked the subject, and Rhia did enjoy eating well. It took Rhia a moment when the woman finished to realize she had said nothing of herbs. So another day in this blasted port. She would have to go find one of these, Wise Women, she had heard rumor of, supposedly they knew the most about herbs.


Looking around the room once more, Rhia noted the dark man leaving the upper floor of the establishment and walking across the common room. She smiled dubiously. The man was her Sailsmitress' Cargomaster. The man undoubtedly just met someone upstairs for much the same reason Rhia now sat here. He was a quick one, if the case was such. Maybe it would save them time leaving port with the early tides. And might as well wish land was wet for hoping to do anything quickly. The shorebound were notoriously slow and lazy.


Rhia noticed the slight blurring of edges in her vision, the table's edge seemed to fade into floorboards, and the wine pitcher was fuzzy with it's dimly reflective surface. She was a small bit intoxicated, she admitted , a very small bit. Smiling at the other woman Rhia began to stand.


"If it pleases the Light, we may go to the ship now and you may see what it is you wish. I don't know that I can sit in this common room anymore." Rhia mentally noted that only two pitchers of wine had been required. Very good stuff then. Smiling at the serving woman as she left Rhia noticed her bowing still as she turned to go. Very strange people.


Rhia waited on Dilora to ready herself and go get her animal. While waiting Rhia walked out to the front of the inn, and into a throng of dockmen, sailors, and the other rough lot that this side of the city seemed to attract. Men walked up and down the street carrying boxes of goods or barrows full of some crated goods. Rhia saw fresh fish in one barrel of pickling juices. She stopped to inspect the fish for a moment before deciding they were already being robbed of any fresh ocean taste.


Turning she watched as Dilora came around the corner of the inn, through a gate that was cleverly designed to appear a place of wall from the outside. The horse and wagon were her home, but Rhia could hardly believe anyone so friendly with such a beast.

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“As it isn’t far to the harbour, I suggest we walk – it might clear our heads a little.”


She patted Altie a few times to make sure the mare was in good humour and being properly cared for, and then turned to walk back to the dark woman. Few people understood the relation between a person and their horse, but then it was more the connection with the travelling as well as the animal concerned. And it could hardly be said that animals did not have a personality of their own…


“Lead the way, Windfinder. You must want to get back to being on the ocean. I could let you ride Altie, but I have a feeling it will be just as nice to take a stroll in the moonlight – I’ve always wanted to see the moon over the sea.”


As she watched the woman walking her exotic walk over the cobbled streets, Dilora started reflecting again. Really, she was wondering what it would be like inside a ship and how the motion would affect her. It was something she had not experienced before beyond the occasional short river trip, and she rather thought a sea voyage must be the most incredible adventure ever! She also realised she would not be able to do much in the way of buying and selling, and that the open road would become a vast expanse of open water; nothing to be seen from horizon to horizon except the white caps of the waves and the occasional lonely soaring gull for company. What would the food be like? Dilora imagined it would be a steady diet of fish, biscuits and only occasionally supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. There would be wine, of course, and lots of talk of porcelain. It would be nice for a visit, she decided, but not as a way of life. Besides, she’d miss her mare too much.


“Is it far?”

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