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Wendell
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118 Vhalar 716
Caed smirked. “Cocky little shit. What about that one?”
“The front sail,” Wendell looked thoughtful for a time, “Jib, stay, fore, and mainsail,” he pointed to each accordingly from the front to the back of the boat.
“And that one?” Caed pointed to the funny shaped sail right at the top.
“Gaff?”
“No not that one, that one,” he shifted his finger a little lower, “looks a little like a mantaray.”
“No idea,” Wendell narrowed his gaze, he hadn't noticed that sail during their journey until now.
“It's called the fisherman, it has four edges, the throat, tack, peak, and clew. You haven't seen it until now because I only just threw it up this morning.”
“Why?” Wendell inquired. “What is it used for?”
“The fisherman sail is a tricky one or man if you're short handed.”
“At least two sailors at all times?”
“That's right,” Caed agreed, “it takes two men to sail a schooner, the minimum we like is three on rotation so someone is usually sleeping while the other two are sailing.”
“Why haven't you used the fisherman sail until now?”
“Because out at sea it's rare we suffer any light winds like we get around the coast.”
“So it's good for sailing in light winds?”
“Right,” Caed nodded, “catches the high winds, but it's very important to take it down quickly if the wind suddenly picks up.”
“Otherwise?”
“You'll capsize the boat, and good luck getting a schooner the right way up once it's over,” Caed warned. “We should be in port before the break is through, why don't you make sure you're ready for the mainland?”

Wendell stalked off to his quarters below deck to wash up, and make a rough sketch of the sails, including the fisherman sail Caed had done well to explain in terms he could understand. It was tricky working with some of the other crew members who weren't quite as good at common as he was. Wendell labeled all of the sails and their uses before tucking the sketch away with his things, and making the bed. When he returned to the deck, he stood wearing a pair of black leather pants, a light, billowy, white shirt with a deep v in the front, and long sleeves that caught easily in the wind. He also wore a red sash about his middle, and had taken his boots back, the ones Gorroc had claimed after his capture, and was starting to feel more like himself again, if not a little rough around the edges.

With a break before they would reach the shore, Wendell chose to go and see how Freya was holding up. He hadn't really bothered her since their last run in, dedicating most of his time to learning their trade instead, and how to sail the schooner. He didn't want to be called useless again, or referred to as a burden, no one had ever called him that before her. His hands were rough, with small rope-burn scars across the once softer part between his thumb and pointer. He had lost a little weight throughout the journey, and was looking forward to a real meal. Though for everything he had lost, it seemed he had also gained, knowledge, experience, and lessons he would take away from this that no school could have ever taught him.

Hand balled into a fist, Wendell knocked on the captain’s door, he knew better than to barge in unwelcome now, and waited for her to answer, or send him away. “It's Wendell, we are half a break from land, you said you would tell me about Rhakros.
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Freya DuCarinos
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Freya was perched in her chair, looking over her black ledger as she wrote down notes of what to buy within the market to resupply the ship with before they left for Ne'haer. They needed to meet with the Witch Doctor's connection before they left as well. If anything, this was the true start of their journey, smuggling drugs from one city to the next, collecting the last bit of the shipment before smuggling everything back into Rharne. It would be a task indeed, one they could all face execution for if caught...
A hand came to rest on the wound just below her shoulder. The pain grew worse every day and she was sure it'd become infected. Caed visited her quarters often to clean it, but even that was becoming too much. She needed a healer, someone with medicine. Not a makeshift splint and bandages. Lifting that same hand, Freya combed her hair back, eyes extremely dilated as sweat beaded her brow. They would be arriving soon and the last place she wanted to get medical treatment from was within Rhakros. She'd heard stories from Caed as the two stayed up late and discussed many things while steering and maintaining the ship.
The biqaj closed her ledger and pushed it aside, reaching for the satchel that rested upon the table and pulled out a tiny bag. She opened and tapped its contents lightly onto the table, the powdery substance flying out. Carefully closing and tucking the bag away, Freya organized the powder into a line, grabbed the small roll of parchment she'd torn from the ledger earlier, and sniffed the drug with excruciating need. Flicking the roll away, Freya tensed at the burning sensation inside her nose. Her eyes watered and she pinched her nostrils, sinking into the chair while she waited for the pain to die away.
Bits passed and slowly, the pain ebbed away just before her mind started to wander. By the fates, Panorium Powder was truly a well crafted drug. It wasn't until many knocks later that Freya opened her silver eyes, appearing almost black from the size of her pupils, and got up to answer the door. Opening it enough to look up at Wendell, the woman paused as he reiterated what he'd said before.
“Oh.” She said softly, her face expressionless, though flush. Silence stood between the two before awkwardly, she opened the door and allowed him in. “Yes, Rhakros... We're almost there?” Within a break, he'd said. “Right.” She answered, closing the door and drifting toward the table to thumb at the ledger before taking it and sliding down rather oddly into the chair.
“Come,” She sighed softly. “Sit... There is much to discuss.” Her eyes slid shut for too long of a moment and remained shut before the scrape of the chair next to her pulled her from wherever she'd gone off to. Freya's eyes drifted absently towards Wendell and she smiled, staring at him. It was an out of place smile, one that showed she was truly relaxed and enjoying the drug. The pain of her injury was completely absent and the high she was currently on made the man's company pleasant, even though they hadn't spoken a word to each other in a while, given how he'd left her.
“Mmm, where to start.” She started to tell in lazy common, Rakahi accent thick in her voice. “Oh Companion, companion, companion.” Freya sighed blissfully. “Rhakros... They like companions.”
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Wendell
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Freya appeared tired, as if drifting in and out of consciousness. Wendell found that strange, she hadn't been on duty for a few days, not since Caed had told her to do little more than rest with her shoulder injury healing poorly. He watched the woman sway in her chair, her black eyes never fixed on anything for long, and pointed his own gaze to the ledger, then the table, and the floor at their feet. The traces of powder were easily spotted against the dark cover of the Freya’s ledger, and the discarded roll of paper made it all too obvious, she was high.

“Well good,” he smirked and leaned back in the chair he had pulled out from under the table. “I could use a companion, or three,” Wendell smirked, that sounded greedy, even for him. The hound was suddenly looking forward to this stop. “You never told me why you're stopping in Rhakros,” he mentioned then. “If it's something that's going to put me in danger, I hope you'll tell me.”

Wendell bent down to pick up the roll of torn paper on the floor and curled it up again between his fingers, only to unfurl it and repeat the process. He lifted the paper to his face and touched the tip of his tongue to one end to taste the residue of whatever it was she had taken. “Painkiller?” Wendell looked thoughtful. He swished his tongue back and forth, running it against the back of his teeth. When the skin went numb, he perked his brow, the right one that had an old, faded scar through the end of it. “Tastes expensive.”
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Freya DuCarinos
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A laugh bubbled from her throat as her head fell back and brown locks tumbled over the back of the chair. “Companion is so funny..!” She breathed, cracking her eyes open again to stare at him with humor. “You can bed the Rhakros women, but your appendage might swell up and burst.” Grinning only briefly, Freya then shivered almost too obviously. “Oh, so disgusting... the image.”
Turning, the captain watched with hooded eyes as Wendell played with the paper, rolling then unrolling until his tongue flicked out to taste the powder that remained. Freya erupted into a fit of laughter, her form falling forward as she hunched over the table, holding her stomach. “I...” She heaved, “That was in.... That was in my nose!” Again she laughed, tears beading in her eyes as she watched him throw the paper away in disgust.
It took quite a while before she could calm herself enough to look at him without giggling. When had he become so funny? He was always such a stick in the mud but now, now he was what she liked. Funny and attractive. Drugs.” The words slithered from her mouth while a grin perched on her lips. “We're picking up a nice little shipment of drugs from the Plague city, Companion. Know of the Witch Doctor? Nice little chip in Rharne.” She asked, not caring that Freya had given him too much information. “Well they want us to fetch their drugs for a sarding lot amount of nel, heheh.” Freya combed her hair with her digits. “It's so much coin, Companion...”
“But the drugs must be delivered within a time frame, you know the business of contracts, hmm?” Freya reached into her satchel for the bag of powder and slid off the chair, standing as she opened the bag and dug a finger in. Like sugar, she brought it to her lips and sucked, raising a brow at him. The way he'd tasted the drug earlier made Freya think he'd had experience with drugs. This thought caused the corners of her mouth to turn up wickedly and she approached him. Dipping her finger into the pouch once more, Freya offered it to him. “Would you like to try some or is Companion too scared of becoming a Scab?”
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Wendell
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“Swell and burst you say? That's kind of the point, gorgeous.” Wendell smirked, amused by this new, carefree Freya. “You'll have to tell me,” he licked his lower lip, “why they call it the Plague City?” Wendell knew very little about the west. He had only ever lived in and travelled around parts of the eastern continents, going between Nashaki and Rharne. This was all new territory and he was hoping to live longer than a day once his feet finally touched land.

Freya was trusting him with a lot of information, more than she ever had in one sitting. The boat, the city, the drugs, had that been her plan all along. Wendell glanced at, but didn't make a point of eyeing the ledger. What else might he find out, he wondered, if he managed to take a look in the book? “More than Lady Rose makes in a season?” the man inquired, why not, it wouldn't hurt to know just how much danger they were getting themselves into. That's what money meant after all, was it not? The more you played for, the higher the risks.

“They are running the contract on a timeframe? What kind of timeframe? Will there be more scabs chasing us? How do you plan to get into Ne’haer without being caught by the authorities?” Perhaps that would be the time to make his move and take the ship, either once it was loaded up with drugs he could sell for gold, or take the actual gold, then he could sail away with and live wherever he damn well pleased, anywhere that wasn't the middle of the ocean. If Freya and her crew were caught, he could play her game, act the slave he was meant to be… the tattoo she had inked onto his neck might just be his ticket to freedom, rather than the chain he had convinced himself it was.

Freya dipped her finger into the powder, her seductive eyes daring him to take it even before her tongue uttered the words in jest. Wendell closed his hand around her wrist and leaned forward before pausing to smile, “this finger hasn't been in your nose too had it?” he teased before closing her finger in his mouth to accept what was on offer. Snorting the powder might have been a quicker hit, but a slow release didn't bother him at all, he could get more information that way while his mind was still clear. “We use drugs at the Harlot ‘n’ Hound,” he admitted. “The free drink on the way in?” Wendell lifted his brow and touched a finger to the side of his nose.
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Freya DuCarinos
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“Rhakros is plague city because of disease there, Companion... They have no graveyards to honor their dead. Instead, they stuff them full of pestilence and sacrifice the corpses to their twisted Immortal.” She leaned in, “Though don't say that around them or someone might stab you and I'm the only one who's allowed to do that.”
The ledger remained on the table, Freya paid no mind to it as she drifted about. “Much more than your Lady.” She sang in a breathless voice. “What would be the point for anything less than what your pimp makes from you in a season?” She'd bitten her lip when he grabbed a hold of her wrist and sucked on her finger, silver eyes dancing red. “Do that a little too well, hm?” Laughing, Freya retracted her hand and knotted the pouch up, beginning to throw it back into the satchel when question after question dripped from Wendell's lips, enough to make her sigh with exhaustion.
“Is this me when I'm sober?” She asked lazily, sliding into the chair once again before fingering more powder from the pouch. “Companion needs to worry about Rhakros. If you want to run, feel free to, but Rhakrosi people love to catch slaves and they love to experiment on them, so says Caed. They like to mar the flesh with sickness. So if you'd like to survive, you'll have to stay close to me.” She smiled, the intoxicating high of the drug hooding her eyes. “As for Ne'hear...” Another sigh, ”That's not so important right now.”
His honesty with her about his drug uses piqued her interests, “Oh yes? I thought something strange was in the alcohol. Too many glassy eyes women.” Staring at him for a hard moment, Freya chuckled. “We met before, you know? I'd gone to that place with the others, actually, I think I spiked your drink.” The chuckle boiled into a laugh. “You looked like a sexy mess. But your rival? Hahahah.” Staring at the wall, Freya's eyes sparkled with memory. “He liked the drug... Very much.”
Facing the man again, the flush on her cheeks remained while her hand came up to wipe away the sweat on her brow. She'd been in her quarters for days, using this drug to dull the pain. Either she was becoming extremely addicted to it, or she was building a tolerance because the pain was starting to come back faster and faster.
Opening her ledger to a blank page, she tore it out, then tore that in two and slid a piece to Wendell, eyeing him. They had a break before she could get more powder, and Rhakros was bound to have the good stuff. So sharing was fine.
“Do you know how to take it or must I show you?” Freya dished out with a soft smile, rolling her piece of parchment between her fingers before reaching for the bag and tapping the drug onto the table. Enough for two was lined up and without pause, Freya sniffed one line and scrunched her face, eyes bleeding black when she opened them again.
She waited for Wendell to take his hit, and laughed when he did. It was so strange seeing him act this way, be this way, around her. Freya was so use to the barriers. They were there still but the drug masked it and she felt like she could finally talk through that mask.
"The hit will be strong if this is your first time with Panorium Powder, Companion."
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Wendell
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“Are you trying to imply that I suck,” Wendell didn't say the word but closed a hand over the crotch of his leather trousers instead. “Never,” he smirked. “We have rules you know, the hounds and harlots. For me, no men. They pay me, I hump them, they go. No touching, no kissing, those are my rules,” he grinned, the drug was working faster than he thought it would, he could already feel his pulse beating hard in his hands as the numbing sensation spread through his fingers.

“My rival? No he is my… apprentice,” Wendell divulged. “New to entertainment, he was a good companion, no?” The man might have looked smug if he hadn't just lost half the feeling in his face momentarily. “I teach him much… The woman though,” Wendell leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, hands laid flat upon his thighs. “Oh, I miss them so, a good woman.” He sat up and accepted the roll of paper from Freya, following her lead. Wendell had done plenty of drugs over the last two years working for Rose, they had to entertain all kinds of fetishes there, but it had been a while with nothing to tie him over at sea. He would be sweating tomorrow, after the high was gone and it was back to cold turkey.

The sensitive skin that lined his nostrils was on fire, but is was a pain he had endured before, and long missed. Arms flopped at his sides, Wendell leaned back and closed his eyes as the powder was quickly absorbed into his bloodstream and pumped around his body. “We can't go to Rhakros now,” he mumbled, “what if the savages eat us?” Of course, he wasn't sure that they were savages, but anyone who liked to stuff their dead with all kinds of muck didn't bode well with him.

Burly fingers went up to comb through his hair, still wet from washing it earlier, and he opened and closed his fist, toying with the dark strands, long overdue a haircut. “Rose is my pimp,” Wendell burst into a fit of laughter then, the thought seemingly coming out of nowhere, a very slow reaction to something Freya had said moments before he had snorted the drug. “Still… what man in his right mind would complain about being paid for something he enjoys so much?” Blue eyes found the black of Freya’s, and he held her gaze for a spell, leaning in close. “Don't worry, it's just maiden's mist and a local plant extract, natural high, nothing dangerous, but it will help you forget. Sometimes it's good to forget.”
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Freya DuCarinos
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“You do suck, Companion. It's not implied.” Freya's smile never drifted from her lips, though their tint of black mixed with red again upon watching his gesture before she casually looked away. She listened to him, throwing her feet up on the table even as her body rocked gently with the sway of the ship over the waves. “You hump men?” Laughter aired out from her lungs. “By the fates, companion...”
Freya wasn't against those type of relationships or... would it be a fetish? She wasn't so sure since she'd never indulged in anything with the same sex. However, it made her curious of it, now that they were one the topic. “You feel something for men?” She asked, “You are a companion after all, so much sex is bound to lead to some attachment.”
When he spoke of Patrick, Freya grinned and played with the tunic she wore. It had long sleeves and unbuttoned in the front, something of a man's shirt but Freya didn't care. She liked it all the same and it was warm... Not that she felt cold. She felt nothing. “I miss this Patrick. He was a good companion.” Freya smiled, her eyes twinkling. “Not as rough as I'd prefer, but passionate. Men I've slept with lack passion. If there is anything quicker to ignite a soul, it is passion.” Kian and his handsome smile filled her thoughts as Freya suddenly grew quiet for a long moment while she listened to Wendell talk of his women.
“Oh they might eat us.” She agreed with a grin. “Not as though you wouldn't enjoy it.”
With that comment, the woman looked to him, coy smile planted on her features as she watched the drug settle in his system. Regardless of what kind of drugs he'd experienced, it was obvious when it hit him because his body relaxed quite noticeably. Freya chuckled and turned away, that same pleasant bell sound growing into laughter with Wendell's comment of Rose being his pimp. Indeed she was.
“A man who knows his worth is better invested in greater things.” She mumbled back and somehow, the comment reminded her of Kian, her adoptive Biqaj clan, Ne'haer, and where she found herself now. With a sigh, the high of the powder took her mind away from those thoughts as her head lulled to the side and suddenly, Wendell was close. Freya couldn't help herself.
Her eyes fell to his lips and she reached out with soft digits to caress the side of his cheek and touch his bottom lip with the pad of her thumb. “Yes, it is good to forget some things.” The answer drew her eyes back to his as the same hand that caressed his cheek slid into his hair before falling away. The pillows of his lips and strands of his hair were both soft, just as she'd expected.
“You bath so much, Companion. If I hadn't seen your strength myself, I would have thought you a woman or wago... Or both.” The smile lit up her cheeks again. “Prissy thing you can be, don't you know? Biqaj folk would wonder about you.”
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Wendell had lifted his boot and shoved back the woman’s chair and inch for the comment. “You suck,” came his lame retort. When she questioned him about the men, he shrugged. “Of course, some people like a good, hard shag, you know? It's not for me, and not so common, perhaps for every ten girls there is one man,” he sniffed and wiped his nose. “I care for men as much as your neck cares for the gallows,” Wendell then added, studying her. “I know how to please, you know how to steal, and we both get paid for doing these things, it is not always a question of like.”

The conversation turned to Partrick again and Freya let slip a few truths Wendell was already aware of. “He is a pleaser,” the man agreed, “like a little puppy dog. Good for a long time, for an honest woman, not made for this life, not yet, anyone can learn. You tell him,” he tested the Biqaj words, not sure he was moving his lips the right way. “Next time you see him, tell him what you like, he will please you,” this partnered with a smirk.

His laughter was loud and unrestrained. “To watch eat you? Yes, very pleased,” Wendell shook with mirth. “Not much to pick off your bones, might give Caed to the savages too.”

Freya had lifted her hand to caress his lip and cheek, and lace her fingers through his hair. She sighed, and he wondered what that meant, the lids of his eyes heavier than usual, he blinked the curiosity away and sat back while she insulted him some more.

“Wago, for being clean?” Wendell scoffed. He shrugged. “You're welcome to your thoughts, but I think you lie. I remember meeting you that night. You enjoyed talking me down then too. I think you like child, little girl who sees something she likes but doesn't know how to take it. You see a confident man and you knock him down a peg or two. I like to wash, you like to bed men that don't intimidate you, and complain when the sex lacks danger, it's a free world,” Wendell said but didn't smile, still sidetracked by the ledger, what had he wanted to do with that again?

“When we get to Ne’haer… I am free to go? Hard to live with stinking pirates that don't wash.”
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She cried out and clung to her chair when he kicked it, her mouth falling open in half shock, half amusement as she glared at him playfully and rolled her eyes at his useless comeback. Her mind drifted on his words as she fixed her chair and eased back into it, listening to him with a calm mind and numbed body. Wendell's mention of Patrick had her eyes drift to the window where the morning light was going in. He was right, Patrick didn't seem like the type who'd traverse the open ocean, stealing and killing and making money.
“I don't expect a next time with him. It is the business, and my life, I suppose. I cannot remain in one place too long as the sea calls... There are too many places left to explore.”
She grabbed a book off the table and threw it at Wendell when he'd made comment about the Rhakrosi citizens eating her for breakfast. Granted the book was light and harmless. “Let them eat me and you become the stranded puppy.” Something told Freya that Wendell wouldn't be so stranded regardless of his predicament. He'd adjusted to the Arbiter, granted it took him quite a while, however, he'd made due and was even filling in for her and her duties. Freya didn't have it in her to admit her thanks for his assistance, knowing it would just inflate his ego. They'd been so conflicted with each other, yet found some sort of common ground from the drugs.
It caught the woman off guard, though, when he called her out on her dealings with sex and romance. Freya sat there puzzled, wanting to rebuttal his comment with one of her own but she didn't have the nerve to work up anything in response.
“I am no child, Wendell.” Freya expressed in a soft voice. “You do not know me as well as you think you do and I do not know you as well as I think.” Rising from the chair, Freya slid onto the man's lap with little pause and straddled his thighs. Arms draped around his shoulders while a hand stood to comb his hair back and pulled, Freya watched him under red and black eyes, swirling with blue.
“I enjoy testing confident men. It is funny to me how many wear a facade while others succumb to the nature call of life and settle. I don't settle and I don't allow myself to please a man unless he's earned the right to be pleased by me.” Her nose nudged against his cheek, breath a heated caress against his jaw and her teeth fell over the stubble there. “You are indeed welcome to your thoughts, but sometimes they really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. Like right now.” Freya felt inclined to tease him, to pull his hair back and sink her teeth into his neck just as he'd done to her, but as her fingers tightened in his roots and she began her descent, Freya paused and pulled back, grinning down at him before laughing. “You're a terrible test, Companion. Nevertheless, it's fun to tease you and I like to tease.”
She'd just begun to move off him when his question made her pause. Wasn't it bad to have these sort of talks when high? Simple things were suppose to be discussed. Yet Freya shrugged and looked away from him, “If you want... I will not stop you. But, you've done much for me while I've been... incapacitated. I was going to give you a cut of the profits as a—“ Again, she hesitated, but this time, never finished her sentence as it was left hanging in the air.
The dull ache of her arm was coming back as a knock sounded from the door. “We've arrived.” Haraji called from outside before the sound of his boots thudded away. Freya slowly looked from the door to Wendell before rising from his lap and reaching for the ledger.
“I suppose it's time.” No drugs could prepare her for this city...
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