~~For the Dancing and the Dreaming~~By Dervs & Shafty & Greenie & Tricks
17th of Midyear, Night, Alik’r Desert
Zaveed wasn’t sure what hurt more, his body or his pride. He lay prone on the ground, the blunted straining sword just out of his reach. The dirt felt cold against his skin, and despite his best efforts, he knew that it was going to be quite awful when he tried to move again.
His mind raced over the many possibilities of his loss, excuses, really. He’d never learned to fight with a sword. His hand was injured. His fighting techniques were around two weapons. He was tired after a long journey and the daring prison rescue. All of those things, perhaps. But dead men couldn’t make excuses for why they underperformed, and he had to suck up his pride and admit one thing.
He just got his ass handed to him by a 17-year-old kid.
The crowd had been loud celebrating his defeat, or his opponent’s victory, but now they were trying to get him to move. Other fights to be had, you see. He opened his eyes and saw Sevari and Sirine staring down at him, prompting him to reach into a pouch and pull out the ten Septims that he let roll out of his hands into the sand.
“Ow.” he wheezed.
"Well that was quite entertaining," Sirine commented, not even attempting to hide the smirk on her face, especially seeing the lackluster fashion he dispensed the septims he had bet. It wasn't a lie, it was very fun watching the fight, reminding the former pirate of the silly duels she would oversee and break up on her ship. Reaching down, she grabbed on to his wrist and gave it a firm tug. "Up already, Zaveed, otherwise the next fighters will be dancing with swords on your prone form."
“You know, I’d pay ten whole septims to see that, Sirine.” Sevari made a show of folding his arms and nodding, he then made a show for Zaveed at noticing the septims he was owed, bending down and snatching them up with overacted glee, “Oh, good, what else could I find here but ten septims!”
Sevari clucked his tongue, “Child with a stick, Zaveed.” He shook his head mockingly, “Do you think you’ll have to start calling him Captain now? Isn’t that the pirate rules?”
With a gruffness, he slapped his hands on Zaveed’s collar and helped him up, which was mostly Sevari hauling him to his feet. He roughly patted his shoulders and dusted off his back as well, patting him on the shoulder consolingly, “If it helps…” he jingled a coin purse with some good weight, “I couldn’t resist the betting. Feels good to have money again.”
“Oh, shut your gob.” Zaveed winced, feeling aches in places he forgot he had. “Next time, I’ll pit you against a toddler and watch in glee as you’re helpless against the assault against your shins. Redguard children are mean.
” he said, shoving Sevari playfully with his good hand. “Since I clearly took the fall for you, drinks are on you. Aren’t those the criminal underworld rules?”
"Aye, seems fair to me that the one with the money should pay," Sirine chimed in, raising an eyebrow as she looked to Sevari, an amused expression dancing on her face. Her dark eyes were lit, clearly enjoying the moment- a far cry from just a while earlier. It was fun to watch and listen to the two bickering brothers without having to worry about the consequences of being overheard… or having a brother stuck in a dwemer prison. "Don't be stingy now, hm? I may find myself a little thirsty as well, now that I think of it." Her eyes narrowed and lips pursed in thought. “Perhaps even a little hungry…” She lifted a hand to her mouth in order to hide a silent laugh.
“I don’t offer charity.” Sevari smirked as he leaned towards Sirine, tossing the coin purse in the air and catching it in the same hand, he turned on his heel, “Follow, my upstanding compatriots, and we will get something to cure our sobriety.”
The night was a good one so far. He’d won ten septims and had a good show of his brother getting his arse served to him like a four-course meal by a boy half his age on top of it. It was the small things in life he had to appreciate, he learned long ago in the gutters of Senchal. And he was reaping the benefits of his lessons in the form of the wine he sipped at now, sitting with his two finest companions yet.
It brought memories of his old gang back. Those Black Dog Brigands since scattered to the four winds. Hs sighed and stretched his arms up to the skies, looking to Sirine, “How is he, your brother?” He asked, “Not too shaken, I hope.”
Sirine looked at the wine in her glass; despite her earlier goading, she was wondering if she should partake or not. It was no habit of hers, not even a sporadic one for that matter, but she didn't wish to be rude and it was not like she didn't trust her two companions. Taking a small sip, she set the drink back down before smiling at Sevari, appreciating the question about her brother's welfare.
"He's as well as can be expected," she finally replied, shrugging her shoulders a little. "Still processing what happened, the fact that he is alive and no longer in that place. He didn't know I was alive until he saw me... he was quite sure I had gone the way of the rest of the crew."
Zaveed stepped between the two, placing a hand on each of their shoulders. “That’s what we can share a drink to; family.” he said encouragingly. “Sure, sometimes they’re a right pain in the ass, or aren’t there when you need them, but there’s nothing like it in the world. Bakih’s safe and sound, I got to see my sister again and know that she wasn’t killed by some uppity terrorists, so let’s just take a moment to appreciate where we are and what we got. And me? I couldn’t ask for better company. My brother and I are free, and I couldn’t have been gifted with a better friend. What do you lot say? Shall we go find somewhere to finally take the sticks out of our asses and have fun for a change?” the Cathay grinned, momentarily considering stealing his coin back to see if he could get away with it.
Sirine let out a breath before taking not a sip, but a gulp from her drink. He was right, of course. Tonight there was peace, and she wanted to keep her smile on her face. It had been much too long since she had felt so free and burdenless that it seemed she needed to learn how to have fun once again.
"Well Captain Greywake, what do you have in mind for us stick up the asses, hm?" She winked and offered a grin in return. "Aside from watching you in another sword fight, that is."
“I think the Captain has had too many swashbuckling adventures for tonight.” Sevari chuckled, taking a swig from his glass and letting it wait on his tongue as he thought on what to do. Finally, he swallowed and nodded as if he’d come across the best idea to be had since breweries and distilleries. “We could scour the four corners of the world and peruse the ancient libraries of Nirn to find out just how the fuck Jaraleet got Meg of all people to fancy him.”
He smiled, all innocence, before it disappeared with a shrug, “I’ve no clue, what’s to do around here?”
“I vote sit on our asses and drink until said ass no longer hurts, nor my pride, and then see where tonight takes us.” Zaveed replied, stretching out his arms and sniffing the air. “And finding out what smells so enticing.”
As the trio walked, Zaveed smirked at Sevari. “So, brother… are you hoping to scour those ancient libraries because you are jealous of the cute Nord girl finding companionship with our murder-happy lizard friend, or do you see too much of yourself in him and wonder why you're single?” He asked, reaching over and tapping Sevari's necklace. “Might be that you're still wearing jewelry Marassa made you from back when you decided you started to like girls. Don't think I've forgotten that.”
Sirine peered up at Sevari, taking note of the jewellery around his neck. “Is that what that is?” She couldn't help but grin at the knowledge. “You know, that is cute. Adorable even.” She hadn't expected such a thing from the large and seemingly colder natured Khajiit.
He reached up and cleared his throat, tugging his collar up. His being Ohmes-Raht, he felt the heat in his cheeks, “A keepsake from a simpler time.” He brushed Sirine’s teasing off gently, “I’ve never been a man able to be tied down is all. My job isn’t exactly one that guarantees a stable home life.”
He eyed the coin on Sirine’s own necklace, “You’re one to talk.” He said, nodding towards it, “What’s this about, if we’re going to be cheeky about sentimentality?”I certainly deserved this.
Sirine chewed at the inside of her cheeks and barely managed to ignore the heat that rushed to her own face. “Er,” she started, looking anywhere but at the Cathay in their midst, “a… memento as well, you can say.” She coughed a forced cough and rubbed at her face with the back of her wrist, inwardly scolding herself for not making sure to keep it under
“It's the same coin I gave her when we first met. Something about me being cheeky when she told me only people who paid her could call her beautiful. Isn't that right, Beautiful Sirine?” Zaveed said with a innocent smile and a wink before inspecting his claws as if they were the most interesting thing in the world.
The former pirate shot a glare in his direction before letting out a childish huff. “Yes, yes,” she grumbled, though there was no real annoyance to be heard in her voice, at least nothing that was genuine. “It was a very nice coin, very shiny.” She waved a hand carelessly, attempting to make light of the matter though her face still retained the flush on her cheeks.
“Oh, fuck off.” Sevari grumbled, rolling his eyes. There was a certain part of him that held some resentment towards his choice of careers, but life itself was pulling him away from things since before he ever held a blade. He mumbled under his breath, “I’m going to need a loose woman by night’s end to deal with all this damn love in the air.” He huffed, “Leastways I can wake up next to something.”
Looking for a quick turn of the conversation, he eyed a vendor’s stall. It was fully stocked with skewers of goat and lamb. “Oh, how long it’s been…” he shook his head and bit his lip as if the skewers were the most buxom lover he’d ever seen in his life. “Three.” He held up his fingers and slapped the septims in the man’s table, sliding then forth and turning on his heel to his companions, “Mara’s tits, I’ve been hungering for something that isn’t hard tack and jerky.”
“Ah, explains the sour expression and the perpetually working jaw you've been sporting for the past few days.” Zaveed quipped, taking a kebab and breathing in the roasted lamb. “Funny how something so simple can take you back years, before I even thought I could hurt another person and thought someone would take me in off the streets.” He mused, steering his companions off to an unoccupied bench, sitting down with uncharacteristic weight.
Stretching out his legs, Zaveed took note of Daro'Vasora and Latro disappearing into throngs of dancers, and he turned away quickly, feeling a flush or guilt and shame. “Well, have you ever learned to dance?” He asked his brother. “Maybe there's a wanton lass in there waiting for you to sweep her off her feet.”
“Maybe.” Sevari said around a mouthful of lamb, watching Latro and Sora weave through the dancers like rain down a window. Ever since things had gone awry with Marassa his mind had trouble not straying to the months he spent with La’Vashara. “I lack the certain feminine smoulder that Latro has. I’m also devoid of the stunted social intelligence that drew Meg to Jaraleet.”
“The only woman I’ve spent any significant amount of time around in Hammerfell is Aries, and well…” He snorted, “I doubt she’s set on ravishing me any time soon.”
"She's certainly something," Sirine commented, seating herself down on the bench. Her eyes were focused more on the stick of kebab rather than the throng of dancers, her earlier joke about feeling hungry now a reality with the scent of the lovely meat. Taking a small bite, she savoured the flavour of the hot and tender lamb, having to close her her mouth quickly so as not to salivate.
"Fear not, Sevari,” she continued once she had swallowed her food, “I’m sure you'll find someone to warm your bed for the night, despite your lack of femininity or... scales."
“Or charm.” Zaveed added helpfully, biting into a chunk of lamb and chewing thoughtfully. “Try smiling, act like you're the catch women should fawn over, not some forlorn teenager who never got his dick wet. Go up to someone who clearly is single and looking a bit bored or left out, introduce yourself. Offer a drink or dance, or just ask if that seat is taken and strike up a conversation. By Riddle Thar, have you forgotten how to talk to strangers in a way that isn't vaguely threatening or work related?” Zaveed remarked drolly. “What do you have to lose, hm?”
“Oh, yes, thank you. How do you do this, what did you call it? A smile?” Sevari sneered at Zaveed and shook his head, “Work is just… easier. I had a fucking wife once…”
“Besides, you should know me by now. You remember? Don’t push me at things or I’ll push back.” He sighed, a growl rattling from his chest, before he chuckled and shook his head at his brother, “Give me time, Zaveed. I can cross a desert in my own time, I can get a damn harem together by the end of the night, just watch.”
“Ten Septims say you won't.” Zaveed grinned back. “Even if these women likely rarely met an outsider who is quite as worldly and well-storied as you.”
Sirine paused with her kebab in midair, looking from Sevari to Zaveed, blinking at the latter. "Are you sure you want to bet more septims?" she wondered aloud. It seemed as if the Ohmes-Raht already had good luck with winning his brother's money.
“I have to earn them back somehow, besides, look at that mopey face; I’ve more of a chance of winning this particular ransom than if I were to bet on Magnus rising in the morning.” Zaveed pointed out with a wink.
Tapping her chin with a finger, Sirine now looked away from Zaveed and to Sevari instead. The latter did have a somewhat... dour disposition, but there were many ladies who liked that in a man. "Is that so? You have me interested now. Allow me to wager ten septims against yours then. I say Sevari can muster up the charm needed."
“I’ll take that bet too.”
The small stature of the Redguard mage rose from a table not too far from where the three friends conversed. Wild black hair tamed into a bun with fine bit of string, missing her cloak and heavier tunic, blithe in her greeting, smiling like a shark having overheard their conversation. Unabashed in her eavesdropping. Neither bothered by the heat of the desert but extra wary of running her mouth of her great magical talents. She knew better than to garner unwanted attention. Tossing the small bag of septims onto the bar, making a satisfying Klink!
as it hit the counter.
The trio had grabbed her attention in a positive way, Maj recognized Captain Greywake - known in the western seas to be a terrible scourge. Another point that was obvious, they shared in being stranded on land instead of being out at sea.
“I say Sevari has a solid chance, women out in these parts like scars.” Maj pointed out. “Warriors stand a pretty good chance methinks.”
“What, are you offering to take one for the team?” Zaveed asked this cheeky newcomer with an amused smile. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced... Maj, was it? Didn’t you get impressively drunk the night before the prison raid and the Argonian had to nurse you in the wagon while the rest of us were being heroic?”
“You are absolutely correct, I would argue that it was heroic of me not to join you in my stupor. Really,” Maj shrugged with a wink, “I’d blame Maz, she dared me to drink more.”
“Maj Noor, former member of the Scarlet Harpy
I know of you - Captain Greywake. In spite of all the whispers, glares and lingering tension settled upon your trio here what context I do have lacks the sting.” Maj said, quick to address it and even quicker to let it be done. She was aware of the rift between them and the group at large. “Wrinkles will smooth out given some time.”
She hoped for as much. Maj knew she had her own work cut out for her if she were to stick around.
“Wrinkles.” Sevari scoffed. Seeing how Zaveed in particular welcomed Latro and his party to Gilane, it would take a damn good amount of time before they could ever be true companions in their eyes. “I’d think it’s thread-bare right now. Hope you two took up sewing because I’ve never had the talent.”
He looked then to Maj. A small woman, though she held a certain… edge. He’d seen women like her before, even entertained one sticking around in his old gang of highwaymen. “Sevari,” he reached out a hand to shake, “I see my brother has a reputation that precedes him. I like to be more subtle. Less annoying that way.”
“Wrinkles… I was going to say craters. I’m hardly a popular man in any particular social setting, which is where a ship comes in very handy.” Zaveed said with a cheeky grin, resting his hand on Sevari’s shoulder. “What Sevari means to say is he prefers to not be noticed because he’s afraid people will find him droll and boring.” he said, giving Sevari a sarcastic pat on the shoulder before stepping forward, his shoulders squared away, his hands resting on his axes casually.
“I have heard of the Harpy
, I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with Captain Sette on a handful of occasions when I made my way up towards Wayrest and that general side of the pond.” He said to Maj with a respectful nod. He didn’t pry for information; Maj being here could either mean she was kicked off of that particular ship, or a terrible fate befallen it like the Wrath
. Instead, he changed conversational tacts. “So, my dear, what brought you into the company of these fine people? Had I known you also had sealegs, I’d have sought you out sooner.” he tossed a thumb as his companions. “Care to accompany us while we whet our appetite and enjoy what our gracious hosts have to offer?” he asked, his grin unfailing.
“Overheard you taking wagers for Sevari’s abilities to woo and recognized you. Busy minding my own, usually.” Shaking Sevari’s hand, her own dwarfing in size by comparison - she squeezed good naturedly regardless. “Aye, don’t mind if I do.”
She took up a seat beside Sirine, sticking her hand out to shake next. “Captain Sette was one of my mentors, won’t go into details. Locals easily spooked at the first mention of well-“ Maj flittered her hand out, “You know.”
“In a city like Gilane, it wasn’t a problem. Folks had bigger shit to worry about. Among the Alik’r... Let’s just say I’m not all that interested in being run through with a sword.” Maj pulled a face miming a hilt sticking out of her abdomen.
Sirine had taken hold of the offered hand, shaking it politely before letting go. This newcomer certainly had an interesting air to her, and she found herself smiling as she listened to the banter. "Yes," she agreed with a nod, "it would be nice for our gracious hosts to remain just that- gracious." These weren't the fat and lazy sorts she had met in the city, they were people harden by the life in the desert, warriors who knew the way of the sword.
“You may call me Sirine,” she added with an afterthought.
“Well, I can see you are here, in this camp, but how did you end up with Daro’Vasora’s group?” Zaveed asked, crossing his arms. “Back when Sevari and I were doing quite reputable associates of our oh-so-kind benefactors, we had quite a bit of intelligence to work off of for who was in that group and what sorts of shenanigans they had been up to since arriving in Gilane. I had no idea you were among them until we met you on the road.” the Khajiit clarified. “You seem pretty chummy with the Orisimer, I didn’t quite catch her name.”
Leaning her elbows onto the counter and taking on an dreamy expression she said, “Mazrah. Far more than chummy - we are fast friends with extraordinarily good benefits. I think she’s amazing, and she’s also the reason why I was pulled in on these affairs.”
“Probably the only reason why I can
catch a good night sleep on land. Nothing quite like sleeping after being thoroughly worn out.” She bumped her elbow against Sirine with a grin. “Which is another reason why I think Sevari stands a chance. If he were a woman I can say with confidence as a Redguard lady myself, that I would happily take a seat on his face.”
Zaveed winked at Sevari. “Hear that, brother? Your cause isn’t lost after all. Even women who prefer company of women think there’s something alluring about you.”
In the meanwhile. Sirine had been fiddling with the gold in her money pouch, making sure she actually had
the ten septims waiting there to bet on this silliness. She looked to Maj and chuckled at her words, though she had to disagree in general- being worn out was something she didn't really wish to feel for a while, and frankly the idea of doing anything of the sort with Sevari was far from her mind as well. Still, it was crass humour and it amused her.
"Time to mingle," she added in the Ohmes-Raht's direction, standing up and stretching out. "Come now Sevari, you're not going to find someone sitting on your ass."
“This is an exercise in futility. If anything, all this prodding is making me not want to fuck someone.” He shrugged, ripping the last piece of lamb from his skewer and tossing the stick, “I’m a fisherman, not a hunter. But if you’re going to force my hand.”
Sirine couldn't help but laugh inwardly at the poor Ohmes-Raht; perhaps they were
being a little too pushy? She couldn't back down now though, she had money on the line. "It's time to leave fishing or even hunting behind, and to learn the art of plundering while you have the perfect teachers available." She gestured towards Zaveed and Maj with a wink before looking out at the rest of the people merrymaking, a smile tinging her lips. "You know, perhaps I too shall partake in some of the enjoyment as well. I can't remember the last time I danced." Taking hold of her waterskin, she took a gulp, and for the first time in a very long time she wished it was something stronger.
"Heh," she murmured under her breath. Freedom and relief brought forth many frivolous thoughts, it would seem.
Occupying Sirine’s vacant seat, Maj sat beside Zaveed cupping her hand to her mouth calling after Sevari, “Just insinuate your face is a chair and you’ll be fine!”
“Does that particular line work for you often, I wonder?” Zaveed pondered into a glass of ale. “It’s nice to finally meet you proper, by the way. As you can imagine, it’s been somewhat awkward being in my position, like I’m the lamprey to Daro’Vasora’s fish. Your paramour in particular looks like she has this particular urge to remove my head and spine from my shoulders.”
She cackled with delight, “You would be surprised. As for Mazrah, she will hopefully come round after some time, actions speak louder than words for her.” Maj assured him, “Her and I agree on a great deal of things but that is not one issue we see eye to eye on. I admire and appreciate the passion rallied behind Daro’Vasora as a leader, but I hardly know her beyond Mazrah’s recounting of her.”
“Had we all been dealing with the consequences of your actions Zaveed at sea, a few butting heads of crew and captain ideals would simply result in a disastrous mutiny.” Maj commented, waving the barkeep to bring her something to quench a building thirst. “It is a waste of time and energy with Dwemer to worry about.”
That prompted a good nature chuckle from the Cathay as he ran a claw around the rim of his glass, making it sing with the vibrations and light scraping. “It does my heart well to know that my reputation was such as to cause such great discord among crews who may or may not have had the pleasure of crossing my path. And what of the Harpy
, my dear? Any tales of Captain Greywake cause stirrings among the crew?”
She pressed her lips trying to remember, “I remember this one story from the superstitious kitchen hand, telling this rumour over a pile of peeled potatoes.” She templed her hands, “She bent the ear of anyone who would listen, she was a good storyteller, but a storyteller nonetheless.”
Maj was a storyteller herself and she resisted the urge to cast images, outing herself as a mage wouldn’t do her well. “I’d paint you a picture. Anyway, she used to tell stories of the storm bringer Captain Greywake. Wherever him and his crew appeared, a terrible black storm followed behind them. Crackling lightning,” She made bursts with her hands, “Booming thunder in time to the boom of canons across a bow, half mad and blood thirsty as a privateer could ever hope to be.”
Maj snorted, “We all reckoned she had a few too many fantasies to ride out figuratively and literally. Stocks of carrots would appear in her bunk, uneaten, all the time.”
Zaveed burst out laughing mirthfully, clapping his hands together with unbridled joy. “Oh, I think I would have liked her. I would have paid her handsomely to spread that kind of fable across every port in the Western hemisphere. I might even throw in a few carrots, myself.” he said with a flirtatious wink. He held out his glass for Maj to cheers. “So, what are we drinking to? The storytellers our generation, old friends, new ones? Perhaps present company?”
The barkeep placed her own tankard in front of the mage she scooped it up and cracked it against Zaveed’s, “Hell, why not all of the above?”
“Cheers, mate!” A satisfying clank with a bit of sloshed ale across the lip of the tankard, Maj took a long drink pulling back for a sigh of relief. Raising her tankard again, “Cheers to being stranded in a sea of sand. At least it is a sea of something.”
“I prefer my seas to be wet and have fish, but alas, I’ve learned that one needs to enjoy life’s misadventures, no? They make for the most interesting stories.” Zaveed said with a smile that shifted gradually to a frown as he set the glass down, letting out a resigned huff
. “I suppose you and I also have another unfortunate thing in common, Maj.” he said quietly. “We lost our crews, our families, even. Those two over there are all I have left.” Zaveed said, looking up to glance at Sirine valiantly trying to get Sevari to dance, the absurdity of it all making the Cathay’s smile peak through, like a bit of sun breaching an overcast day. “I know we might be strangers, and it is improper for me to bring it up, but I do want to say I understand better than anyone. Sirine and I both do, and I am sorry for all of it.”
Maj regarded Zaveed for a time her own smile dimming considerably. “I would have followed the crew and her Captain anywhere in this world even into the world below had I the choice.” She looked to Sirine and Sevari, her hands wrapping around her tankard for comfort. “For some gods damning reason I survived, turning up in Gilane in time to greet a new reality completely unknown to me.”
Another pause and sip of her drink she licked her dry lips, before speaking again, “It is nice to know I am not alone in this particular brand of loneliness.”
A silent spell fell between them as they stared into their glasses, minds on a place from another time, another place.
“Well, no use in wallowing in what’s done, is there?” Zaveed said suddenly, forcing enthusiasm. He put an arm across Maj’s shoulders, the other hand sweeping the horizon. “Somewhere far in a land that isn’t a giant fucking sandbox is a ship that’s waiting for me to be at the helm and showing the world that Captain Greywake is immortal and can be anywhere, and presumably with far too much treasure to his name. Perhaps a certain Redguard named Maj would like to join him, hm? You seem to be a clever sort who enjoys big boats and larger than life company, tales of courage and dastardly deeds that are sung in shitty taverns from coast to coast.”
That cracked a brilliant grin across her face, an equally bright shine returned to her green pair of eyes, “Aye! An offer I couldn’t rightly refuse, proper fame and glory awaits.” She replied setting her mind onto the future, it was really all she could do - inwardly stomping away from the bubbling sadness. She puffed up her chest, “You’ll be sorely needing an expert like myself to craft our fantastic tales.”
“I’ll admit, my ego is rather substantial; I quite need someone to tell tall tales that make me sound like I’m some subaquatic terror beast that even the Sload fear to tread near, that causes typhoons with my laughter. I’m sure we can think of some equally inspired truths for yourself, my dear.” Zaveed said with a toothy grin and a wink.
“I’m sure I can, my imagination is a gift to men, mer and everyone in between.” She said, “Now, interestingly Zaveed, I have heard plenty about you on the high seas and from the the mouths of our group. I’m sure you have just as much to say about others you’ve met here as they do about you.”
“You think quite highly of Sirine for example,” Maj gestured to her, “‘Beautiful Sirine,’ pardon me,” grinning a shit eating grin.
If the Khajiit was phased by Maj’s cheekiness, he didn’t show it. “Of course. She helped me when I was recovering from a bought of being nearly dead, and I helped her get out of rather unfortunate life circumstances, and in turn we both promised to find our wayward siblings. As far as meeting strangers go, it turned out to be a rather pleasant turn from what I am accustomed to.” he replied, smiling as he watched Sirine wear away at Sevari’s defenses, namely the stick lodged so firmly up his ass it was indistinguishable from his spine.
“I’ve my thoughts on the others, yes, but why sully a perfectly pleasant night with idle gossip? Doubtless there’s quite a few words about me that are less than flattering, so why tarry on that when present company is much more interesting?” he countered, finishing his glass and sliding it away. “So, what sorts of illicit things have you heard of my brother and Beautiful Sirine, hm?” he asked.
Maj pouted slightly into her tankard, “I actually like gossip…”
Resigning, she answered his question, “Oh you know - torture, terrible beat downs, kidnapping and public humiliation. As you said, none of it flattering in the least.
Many others are happy to list the reasons why they loathe to have you around.” She scratched the tip of her nose with her pinky, “Sirine not so much, some have said somewhat positive things about talking with her, not being the sole proprietor of their misery but still painting her with the same brush as they paint you. Perception is a tricky thing you see.” Maj said thoughtfully, “Reputation casts a shadow.”
Zaveed shrugged. “They were terrorists who were murdering administrators and setting all manner of criminals back into city streets. It’s not like I wasn’t tasked without reason, and I’m damn good at what I do. Besides,” he said, giving Maj a sidelong glance. “You’re a pirate. You know that yesterday’s enemies can sometimes be today’s friends before returning to tomorrow’s enemies. The difference is I’ve moved on from the reasons these people loathe me, they have not. It’s of no concern to me; so long as I don’t wake up with a cut throat and we continue to have a mutual goal, I don’t see any reason why I cannot be cordial with this group. Besides…” he sighed. “It’s good to be around company again, even if it isn’t ideal.”
Nodding along, the silver hoops in her ears bobbing well. Maj replied, “Of course, I would not lie to say I wouldn’t have done the same had I been in your boots.”
“Beautiful Sirine is ideal I think.” Maj rounded back to her, “Come on, if you’re not going to gossip we can at least talk more about her. A blind man could see you care about her more than an exchange of favours.” The former Corsair prodded along, bumping her elbow against Zaveed’s arm.
“Can’t fool me.”
“Fool you, my dear? It is plainly clear that you are much too crafty for that sort of thing.” Zaveed replied, smiling. “And perhaps I do. It’s a difficult thing to find adequate words for, but it is such a curious thing that the morning after my life was saved by one who considered me a monster and told me compassion is what set her apart from me, that someone would find me and show me a kindness I’ve never really known. She wears the coin I gave her when we first met, given as a jest, but she turned it into something more. She never doubted that I would help her, and I never questioned that I would. Sirine helped me realize that maybe my life wasn’t as fixed as I thought it was, and that we can change our fortunes if we accept when the winds change.” he said softly, massaging his palm with a thumb and looking down. “I’ve not sure what it all makes the two of us, or if our roads are meant to join, or what we even are to each other, but I think for the first time in far, far too long, life isn’t so lonely.”
Maj listened knowing full what he meant, leaning her cheek into her palm. It was clear as the endlessly blue sky. After a few moments ruminating on those thoughts Maj sighed, “Indeed, I am finding life is a lonely affair but it’s never for very long - company finds itself some way and somehow.”
Raising his empty glass, Zaveed held it up to toast. “Well, here's to the company we keep.”
The glasses clanged.
“I’m not going to do it.”
Sevari stood with one hand gripping his gun belt and the other clutching his cup, which was running dangerously low. Despite himself, there was a part of him that didn’t want to disappoint the woman inviting him to dance. But, damn it, he always had to make everything a fight. Every so often, he’d cast a glance towards Zaveed and Maj, another godsdamned pirate. The bastard was laughing too much for his own good, probably saying something about his fancy fucking children’s-scary-story nickname.
And then this woman, looking at him with her brows raised and a finger waggling at him to come and dance, as if he was making any effort to make her think he was working so very hard to restrain himself from joining her. Fuck it, he thought, knocking back his ale and then tossing the cup to the side.
He offered his hand out to Sirine, his eyes looking to the side as he spoke, “Only for a little.”
She grinned, a rarity that was showing a little too often tonight, taking the Ohmes-Raht's hand to lead him into the throng of other dancers. "See, that wasn't too hard, hm?" She smirked up at him, unable to keep herself from chuckling. "I apologize if this puts you on the spot, but I have to admit, maybe you do
need a bit of a stress relief. Goodness knows we could all let go of some darkness after today." She paused, realizing something. "Thank you, by the way. I... was a little too much in a shock earlier, but I appreciate the stand you took. Not just that, it was your connections that made it possible to save Bakih. So yes, you deserve many thanks."
Sevari chuckled despite himself, looking away from Sirine, “No thanks needed.” He said, before clearing his throat awkwardly, “But I appreciate it. You shouldn’t have had any part of that. You have your brother back though, so let’s just rejoice in that, eh?”
He hesitated for a second, eyes glancing towards Zaveed. When he was sure his brother wasn’t looking, he lay his hand softly on Sirine’s back as they swayed, and at the lack of protest, he finally let it rest there. That was what you were supposed to do, wasn’t it? Gods, he could barely remember the last time he’d danced. Was it with La’Vashara? He chuckled again, realizing he was doing a lot of that, and pushing the barrage of thoughts away. “It’s nice though,” he smiled a little, “This little reprieve.”
"Right?" Not that it didn't feel odd; she was somewhat grateful that she still remembered how to move to music from when she was younger and living in Gilane; one of those tedious things
her mother had insisted she learned which the then young sailor rather wished she could shirk for lessons in sword fighting instead. "I have to admit, it is quite nice to see a smile on your face rather than your usual frown and grimace." She teasingly- and childishly- stuck out her tongue at the khajiit before nudging him lightly with her arm. "You really shouldn't make it so easy for your brother to pester you like that. Frankly I'm a little surprised you haven't found a lass to spend time with already. Big strong man like you should have no trouble."
Sevari laughed at that, nodding his head, “I guess even the best fisherman doesn’t catch anything if he doesn’t cast his line. Believe it or not, until recently, I haven’t put a thought towards finding someone to settle down with, or at least put up with my shit.” He opened his mouth and hesitated, just now becoming aware that he really had trudged down a lonely path for half his life, “Twenty years. That’s how long I’ve spent doing nothing but work and finding the occasional woman for a night.”
He looked up and away from Sirine, swaying to the music in the basic and low effort movement that could be excused for dancing before he spoke again, looking back at her, “Seven.” He said, sheepishly grinning at himself, “Seven in twenty years, and none of them I spent more than an evening with.”
“Godsdamn, though, sometimes it only made me feel less in somebody’s company knowing I couldn’t stay with them.” He frowned before nodding towards the other two pirates, “What about you? I could’ve put money on my brother whisking you away in his arms, or are you waiting for a more gentle man to come along?” He chuckled.
"Now, now, who's to say I'm not the one who will be doing the whisking around here? I have quite strong arms myself." Sirine smirked as she motioned towards her toned, scarred arms. "A gentler man wouldn't be interested in someone like me, I suspect. The truth however is..." She paused a moment, trying to think of a delicate way to mention what was on her mind without making things awkward. A smile came to her lips as she tapped at the coin around her neck. "Your brother was the first person to hand me coin without expecting anything in return. It was in jest, true, but after servicing others for far too long, it meant more than that. And perhaps I wish for it to remain that way and see what becomes of it. I like this... companionship." She shrugged a shoulder. "And if the time for whisking comes, well, Captain Siri is quite adept at taking what she wants."
She laughed under her breath as she cast a glance in the direction of the other two seafarers, seemingly amused, though she did have to admit the Cathay Khajiit was perhaps a little too charming and good looking for his own good... But now is the time to focus on the brother before me
Her smirk returned as she looked back up at Sevari, ready to tease and bring the subject right back onto him. "Now tell me, truthfully, is your brother correct and you are jealous of our emotionless, pragmatic, assassin Argonian friend?"
“Me, jealous?” Sevari feigned a scoff. “Happy, yes. I’ve never been able to keep love for long. My career is hard to keep a family with.”
“I wish him a long and healthy life with Meg.” He nodded, letting the words hang on the air for a few before he chuckled, “But, I am a little jealous. Love is running through our little party here and even Gregor has a woman. The women have women.”
“Maybe I’m just not meant for anything more than a night’s time of just trying get some release using someone else as they are you.” He shrugged, “Leastways, I’m not thinking about how rough life is in the midst of that.”
"I find that ridiculous," Sirine finally replied, having listened to Sevari quietly without interruptions. A small crease on her forehead showed that she was skeptical of his words. "You're just as capable as anyone else; unless it's something you yourself want, there's absolutely no reason to resign yourself to being a lone wolf when there are probably many who desire your friendship, your companionship. Whether that puts them in danger is not solely your choice, Sevari, it's theirs as well." She laid a hand on his arm, her expression softening. "You feeling jealous is normal, and it only means you wish for more than just a one night's romp between sheets. Give yourself a chance at some happiness- life is easier to face when you have someone by your side... Maybe it's not just you
who needs someone, but someone
Sevari gave Sirine a heartfelt smile as he looked away from her, nodding his head and chuckling, “Gods, I didn’t know this dance would be so heavy.” His smile softened, “I know, Sirine. I left my wife in Elsweyr twenty years ago, because my life would’ve ended hers. And our child’s,” he added, “I don’t even know if it was a girl or a boy. All I know is her belly was swelling more and more as the weeks went on.”
“I said goodbye, we cried. I rode off into the sunset, hoping they wouldn’t come for her.” He shook his head, “Maybe I lost my chance at happiness when I left her, or when I was just a child, or any of the other shit things that have happened to me.”
He fell silent, “Or maybe you’re right.” He chuckled, blinking and sniffling, refusing to meet her eyes for a few moments, “I sincerely hope you are. Or else I’m going to have a word or two with whichever deity decided my life should be like this.” He chuckled.
"You're going to have to excuse me, but fuck deities." Sirine couldn't help herself and reached up, patting the side of the larger man's face; despite her falling out with them, Sevari reminded her of her older brothers, a familiar feeling that felt comforting in itself. "Twenty years is a long time to have been alone, Sevari. Twenty years, goodness- you were barely even a man then. If the gods, fates or whatever judge you so harshly for doing something that ultimately was selfless, or for something that was never in your control, then maybe it's best to disregard them. We have enough things meddling in our lives without needing to put up with more bullshit from divine beings." Despite her passionate speech, she did smile. "And of course I am right." She winked. “That should never be in question.”
Sevari laughed, shaking his head, “Now I know why he likes you.”
“Other than, you know.” He nodded to her, “He’s lucky to have you. You two make a great pair, and you’re not meek enough to let him run amok. He needs somebody there, because like it or not, after this Dwemer problem is resolved I’ll probably ride off into the sunset once again. Not that he ever fucking took my advice.”
“I’ve never stuck to one place too long. My old gang are the only ones that can say I’ve stuck with them for more than a few months and even most of them have either been hanged or retired. Perhaps I’ll find someone who’ll follow me across the world and not get tired of me.” He shrugged, “Whatever life brings is what it’ll bring.”
“Maybe I should just try tossing coins to people and being a cheeky little cunt. I have the one thing he lacks,” he chuckled, “Mannish good looks and a mouth that knows when to shut itself.”
“I have gotten most of my success by sitting down and brooding over my drinks.” He frowned, “It works.”
Sirine couldn't help but chuckle at Sevari's words, shaking her head. "I'll admit I've seen it work for others. Perhaps that is why I find your brother, hm, a pleasure to accompany- I'm normally the one who broods in the corner, nursing a bottle of water." Her laughter softened to a smile. "Dark thoughts no longer stay as dark, I suppose."
She stopped in her swaying, taking a step back to look over the man standing before her, arms crossed loosely over her chest. "Perhaps that is what might help you. Not a female version of Zaveed, no." She laughed at the thought before shaking her head. "Someone cheerful, someone compassionate, someone who can draw you away from your brooding. Someone who can make you laugh because goodness knows, as handsome as you may look with a frown, that smile and laugh is even better.
"That won't happen with me as your tag along though." A cheeky look came to her face as she scanned the crowd. "There are plenty of pretty lasses here tonight who I'm sure would be happy to make your acquaintance over a drink. Go on then." She winked once again. "Win me some money."
Sevari gave her a smile, tipping the hat that wasn’t there, “I’ll do that, then.” He said, “Tell my brother to set the septims aside.”
"That I will," Sirine assured him with a chuckle. With that said, she gave his arm one last friendly pat before weaving her way through the dancing crowd, ready to sit down. Dancing, or whatever it was that she had been doing, was strangely more tiring that the dance of blades. Still, she felt a sense of accomplishment.