Kindness Is A Strange Creature
Location: Nyhem Warehouse
Time: Afternoon, 2 weeks after Claus’ incident with Jain.
Collab with: @SunderedEcho
The salt air and bubbling foam behind the docks assaulted Dyril. Rowdy dogs barked at lazy cats, the scent of the morning catch draw a wrinkle from her nose. Unlike Arianna, the half-elf preferred solid ground rather than a rocking ship beneath her feet. Her shoes darted across the waterlogged planks as she made her way toward Arianna’s ship, the Sunfury.
It was distinct enough without the name. The only Catamaran in the harbor, but Dyril had trouble finding it the first time. She didn’t exactly know her ships very well. Now she could find it with her eyes closed.
She walked past the dockmaster into the piers, the stout and short man merely glancing her way. He only took note, jotting her name down, then snapped the registry shut. Dyril had paid a fair price for the ability to come and go willingly. The fact she knew a VIP’s daughter helped too. Her idle thoughts were pushed aside as she began to walk right up to the Sunfury’s ramp before stalling at the end. Men and women, trained and used to sea life, trampled about the deck above her. They hoisted ropes, pulled sails upward, and casually mopped the surface clear of any salty remains. No movement wasted any energy beyond the work.
Upon first arriving, Dyril quickly realized Arianna had her crew well educated in her expectations. It brought heavy respect in her heart to see it.
Patiently, Dyril waited at the side for Arianna to show up. Men rolled thick barrels filled with supplies onto the ship and carefully navigated around her.
Several more minutes passed before Arianna arrived. The crew respectfully ignored the guest aboard the ship, a privilege granted to few on the advanced Summer Isles navy vessels. They were used to their captain allowing this particular guest aboard by now, and even they understood that the Elves had little to learn from close observation of even Formaroth’s most advanced ships.
When she finally did arrive, she stalked up the ramp with a scowl on her face. She was clutching some parchments with official-looking seals on them in one hand. As she set foot on the deck of the ship, one of her crew approached and she handed the parchments to him.
Naturally, Dyril observed it, but she decided not to inquire or comment on it. Some matters were best left alone. This was a fact she had come to learn within Formaroth, mainly the differences between human and Elven culture. Humans had less value on reputation than her family ever did.
Her mind drifted to her current situation. She had little to no idea how to retrieve her goods from Mr. Surya, a man with heavy racism toward anything resembling an Elf. This complicated things for her since she highly doubted a simple receipt could prevent him from extorting further money from her.
She let the thought float away when her peripheral vision caught Arianna approach her. Dyril’s lips curled into a smile, eager for the distraction from her gloom.
“I assume you have everything sorted out and ready to be off?” She asked in a cheerful tone.
Arianna, still in a sour mood, exasperatedly exclaimed “The accursed dockmaster was withholding vital supplies! Apparently, the new Imperial Naval Administration has priority on ammunition and quality timbers now, and the Summer Isles Navy has to wait!” She forcibly stopped herself as she noticed sidelong glances coming from some of her crew.
She took a moment to breathe, then carried on, finally letting the presence of her friend cheer her up somewhat. “It's just administrative difficulty. You know how it is, bureaucracies always take forever to adapt to change. How are you this fine day Dyril?”
“Indeed. Let me guess, the man’s name is Mr. Surya?” Dyril’s tone took a hint of bitterness, through only Arianna was close enough to catch it.
“No…” Arianna said after a moment. “Didn’t you hear? One Jain Surya destroyed a warehouse and disappeared a few days ago. Apparently, he is quite the mage. And quite the rogue. No, my troubles come from a much more mundane source. The Summer Isles Navy has always had priority resupply rights, but some overly patriotic buffoons in the Naval supply yards have declared that the Imperial Navy comes first now. So their overly gaudy Galleys can get all the supplies while they sit idle in their docks. Ha!”
Arianna was still clearly annoyed but had noticed how Dyril had mentioned Surya. She would have to follow up on that now.
Dyril’s head tilted then turned to her friend, her eyes studied the sea woman for a moment.
“Actually, no. I knew there was an incident on the docks, but beyond that, there was little information,” Dyril commented.
She was secretly relieved she would never have to deal with that pompous ass again. Maybe it would make getting her goods out of lock and key easier, but she held doubts about it. Things were never that simple. She inhaled then gripped the ship’s banister, pushing off it.
“It sounds like you could use some fun or at least time away from the issue,” Dyril observed, her tone considerably lighter now.
Arianna smiled at her friend then, sounding somewhat relieved. “Yes. Yes, I could. Did you have anything in mind? More spearfishing perhaps?”
Dyril’s figure turned about to face her friend. A thought crossed her mind as she looked into the eyes, realizing how pretty they were. Discarding the thought, her mind returned to the words she wanted to say.
“I think I’ll still spear a rock like last time. I don’t think we ever got that fixed as it was lodged pretty deeply,” Dyril noted, amused by the memory.
“However, if you really want to… I could try to avoid hitting a rock this time.”
A huge grin began to creep over Arianna’s face at the memory of their last expedition. The half-elf had been so earnest in trying to learn to fish, but some people just weren’t cut out for it - to an amusing result.
“Maybe not then.” She said mirthfully. “I seem to remember you promising to show me some enchanted things last time we met…”
“Considering I can likely get my stock out of the warehouse now, that is a considerably more appealing idea,” Dyril smiled, her figure moved from the banister toward the gangplank.
It wasn’t a far walk as they entered onto the pier and made their way into the local warehouse. Torches and cracks in the panels created eerie shadows on both of them. Casually, Dyril took one for better light. She scanned the various carvings on the wooden surfaces. Each label was written in Elven, the crude symbols were alien to anyone ignorant of their meaning.
She passed by the first box, then the second and finally came to rest at the last one. Dyril blew off the collected dust to ensure it was the correct one. A smile crept along her face as she turned back to Arianna, explaining her behavior.
“Sorry for the wait, I had to find the right crate. Can you pass me the crowbar, please?”
Arianna looked around and spotted an iron crowbar on a wall. She picked it off its shelf and moved over to where Dyril was standing, looking curiously at the crates.
“My Elven is a bit shabby… Haven’t needed to polish it up in a long time.” She pointed to one of the other crates. “Does that say potions? What sort of things do you have in there? Any love potions? We could have some fun with those…”
Dyril stopped dead in her tracks, her head jerked into her friend’s direction. For a moment, she wasn’t sure what to say. There were no ‘love’ potions in the manifest. In truth, there were no such things. The closest things were brews that could make one attracted to your scent and commonly used among the upper class’s young singles to pursue suitors.
Curious to see if Arianna was correct, Dyril drew closer and looked over the woman’s shoulder. She fought a snicker at the incorrect translation of the label.
“I think you and I can likely work on your Elven if you wish? That says healing amulets,” Dyril gently corrected.
“Are you curious to how they work?”
“Oh.” Arianna replied, initially disappointed. “Sure. We can look at these now, and the Elven later.” Then her face was split with a big silly grin. “But the look on your face… Absolutely worth it. Adorable.”
Dyril felt the heat in her cheeks, her denim blue skin turned a hint darker.
“Please, that’s not funny. I’m not adorable, at least by anyone’s standards,” Dyril claimed as she recalled painful memories.
“Sure you are.” Arianna said, moving to the Crate, crowbar in hand. She had a feeling she knew why Dyril might make such a comment. “You should see what some of the Summer Island youth do to get attention.” She laughed, reminiscing to her days in the Circle. “Young mages and illusion magic… combined with a lot of drink. It's quite the show. You’re positively mundane next to that pageantry.”
She stepped back so Dyril could get at the crate. “The Summer Isles are very accepting of the strange and wonderful you know. I think you’d like it there.”
Dyril took the crowbar, her eyes avoided Arianna for a moment. She pushed the tool’s end into the wooden lid’s edge and began to wiggle it back then forth.
“Yes, but I don’t have a gift like you. I can’t cast magic or do interesting things. I can only do crude replications of your art with items using mandrake oil and assistance, which is rather common for my culture,” Dyril admitted, feeling the words pour from her.
“To be frank, there are actually very few places a hybrid like myself actually fits in. Unless you count a brothel.”
Arianna looked at Dyril then, with an incredulous expression. “Maybe in your homeland, but here in Formaroth, you’re even more special than me. That skillset of yours is unique
. Not a single another soul anywhere else on this continent can give the gift of magic to those born without.”
Dyril paused in her efforts to pry the lid open. Her hand shifted a few strands of her curly, black hair from her vision as she observed her friend. Arianna wasn’t a born or trained liar. The words were sincere causing surprise to enter her eyes, widening at Arianna’s words. She wasn’t sure what to say. Unique, at least in appearance, was frowned on back home, but here it was seen to be exotic and interesting.
“I’m… I’m not sure how to react. The catch to that, if I don’t get the mandrakes growing on the continent then it’s unlikely I’ll be able to give magic to anyone,” Dyril sighed then shook the thought away.
“For what it’s worth, it does warm my heart that you
value me at least.”
She resumed pushing the crowbar, but the lid wasn’t budging. Even though the strained grunting, it was easy to tell Dyril lacked the strength and finally submitted defeat by turning to Arianna.
“Can you help me?” She quietly asked.
Arianna simply smiled and stepped closer, taking the crowbar in her hands and, with a single forceful motion, wrenching the crate open. Like all sailers, she was use to climbing rigging and lifting heavy things in high seas, so it was no trouble for her.
“Of course Dyril. You’re my friend. And I’m sure you’ll get the Mandrakes growing somewhere.”
“Aside from Kiseo, I’ve never had a friend before. It’s a bit odd,” Dyril said as she digested the words, considering what it meant.
As she flinched at the wrench of the wood giving into Arianna’s will, she considered her long task ahead of her.
“I managed to obtain some land in Ralda. It will actually be an interesting experience for me,” she recalled the information she learned through her mother’s unsent letters.
Her human family had
owned the region after all and it laid toward the east, rather close to the coast.
“Ralda?” Arianna said, more stating than asking. “That is only a short sail from the Isles. Is your land anywhere near the coast?” She lifted the lid from the crate and stepped aside so Dyril could get to its contents.
“I’m still learning the geography of this continent, but I think it is. I’ll have to correct that information when I arrive,” Dyril quietly said, fighting the urge to grumble about her oversight.
She stepped forward to pull out a single, ruby with a piece of twine and leather braided through it. It was designed to hang at the wrist. Despite appearances, the twine was enchanted to hold tightly to the individual’s wrist and resist any attempts to cut it off. Sadly it didn’t protect the hand from being severed off.
When Dyril turned to look at Arianna and bit her lip.
“This works better on cuts and slices, but I have seen it ease sickness. The bad part, I don’t think either of us are physically wounded. So the effects will be felt, but they won’t do anything.”
Listening carefully, Arianna’s face took on a mischievous expression. “It works well on cuts? I trust you.” She said.
It was then she pulled her shortsword half from its sheath and gently ran her palm across it. She winced slightly, then let the sword fall back into its sheath. Promptly holding forth her hand, she looked expectantly at Dyril.
The half-elf froze in place. Her narrow eyes widened in surprise and instinctively her right foot stepped back when the weapon was drawn. She fought the rising flinch when she watched Arianna’s sword slice through her own palm, unfamiliar with someone performing self-inflicting wounds.
Taking a moment to collect her panic and shove it back into its box, Dyril stepped forward. Her breath muttered a few elven words found engraved on the gem. It glowed red as she took the cut hand into her own. She let the light bath the wound, the glow hyper-focused on the thin line and tingling began to surface underneath the skin. The sensation spread from one end of the wound to the other before Arianna could feel her flesh start to mend itself. In a few moments, the hand became good as new.
Dyril admired her work before she released a smile. Both relief and enjoyment mingled with each other on her face, breaking her usually a stoic expression.
“How do you feel?” She asked.
Arianna looked down at her hand, turning it over once and then looking back at her palm. The slice was totally gone. “Impressed.” She said. “That was remarkably swift. Make enough of these and you’ll put the city healers out of a job completely.” She grinned. “Are these really common in Beilokias?”
“The wealthier Elves prefer mage care. These tend to be used for day to day wounds. I did mention appearance was an important part of our culture which means flaws not associated with battle or benefit toward the Imperial, is devaluing for the individual,” Dyril explained, noting that individuals that bore such marks were often slaves, criminals or the poor.
She edged back to the crate, still speaking as she lifted the lid, “Even with the praise, they have their limitations. They take a lengthy time to develop and when the magic is used up, they are completely useless. It’s why mages hold such value, even as slaves.”
Dyril paused a moment, her hand held the trinket and a thought crossed her heart. Gently she closed the lid without returning it to the crate then presented it to Arianna.
“You seem fond of hurting yourself, I think it might be best if you hold on this one. Consider it a gift.”
Arianna laughed, amused by the remarkably prescient comment. “Oh if you only knew. I’m sure the ship's healer will be happy not having to see me as often.” She grinned and took the trinket from Dyril, placing it in one of the pouches on her belt. “Thank you.” She added quickly.
Dyril took a moment to process the words, her expression revealed some of her surprise at the comment. Quickly her mask came back down as she nodded, a silent welcome toward her newfound friend. The hybrid took a moment to actually glance around then spoke again.
“So, would you accept an invitation back to the Inn I’m staying at? We can order some something to drink and you can tell me all about the Isles you mentioned earlier.”
“Of course.” Arianna said. “I’m always happy to talk about my homeland. Especially with someone who doesn’t care about the politics involved…” She smiled, gesturing for Dyril to lead the way.
The two women drifted out of the warehouse as their voices echoed into the darkness, the tones pleasant and merry in each other’s company.