Mikhail Feldunn & Ashley Wycliffe
At first, Mikhail was taken aback and red slightly tinged his face as Ashley took his arm. He instantly assumed she was going to go straight into teasing him again and was almost ready to shake her off until she just leaned into him. He sighed, smiled a bit, and started leading her around. “Seems like the ocean’s been giving you trouble.”
He said with a slight bit of actual concern in his voice. “Come on, I’ll show you where the best coffee in this damned tourist trap is. Took us forever the first time we came here.”
Luckily Casimir was quite the avid fan of coffee. Mikhail remembered in great detail their search for the best coffee he could find. And then going back about ten times on their week long trip.Who’s ‘we?’
Ashley thought, but didn’t ask. She knew well that she had no intention of talking about her own past, so she wasn’t about to ask Mikhail about his, no matter how curious she was. There was almost nothing Ashley hated more than hypocrites."Thanks... for catching me back there. Though I'm supposed to be protecting you, it ended up like this."“It’s not like it was any issue. The sea is rough and unforgiving even if you’re careful. And who said you’re supposed to be protecting me? That’s supposed to be my job. I already vowed that I’d keep all of you alive.”
Despite not knowing any of these people besides Ashley he made a personal vow. He was not going to let anyone die unless he gave and risked everything he had.”So reliable,”
Ashley said, the words coming out sounding more sarcastic than they did in her head. ”No, I mean it,”
she says emphatically, sounding a bit frustrated. Ashley could easily fake any voice she needed, but when the time came for her to convey her sincere thoughts, she often struggled to get them to sound genuine. ”I thought you’d get sick of me tailing you and tell me to walk the plank, but you even sought me out yourself once or twice. You thought I wouldn’t notice,”
she asserts in her prideful “lady knight” voice.“Sure I am.”
He teased as he led her along, making fun of her accidentally sarcastic tone. “Oh of course not. I wouldn’t have sought you out if I thought I’d get sick of you. If I was tired of you I wouldn’t have tried so hard to catch you when you fell.”
He almost instantly regretted that joke as it came off a bit more messed up than he intended. “My bad. It’s just on a boat of unknowns that I don’t fully trust, I'd rather stick with someone I do.””It’s the same for me,”
Ashley replies simply, seeming satisfied about something.
Eventually the two of them arrived at the coffee shop and compared to the rest of this town it was far more serene. A small local place with only one other patron at the moment who sat quietly to the side. It was like a small haven in this tourist trap city. As soon as they entered Mikhail sat his companion down and went up to order. If he had to assume what kind of coffee she liked he would assume black. Or at the very least it seemed like that’s what she needed right now. He also made sure to order some pastries to go with it after having seen her wolf down the ones back on Faroth-En. It seemed that she liked them. “We’ll get an actual meal too if you’d like, this just seemed like a good pairing.”
He said as he stuffed his mouth with one of the pastries.”No, this is fine,”
Ashley says as she grabs one of the pastries and wolfs it down greedily. ”Alma will lecture me if I bring back any of that pemmican,”
she says with her mouth full of pastry.
Raising an eyebrow at his companion’s table manners, Mikhail almost couldn’t believe this was the same person for a moment. Back on Faroth-En Ashley was the knight captain. Always serious, never letting down her guard. But now… he really couldn’t tell why or what happened but she was totally different. Is this how she truly was and she was both comfortable enough with him and far enough away from her responsibilities to let it show? Or was this the act and she wanted to make him let his guard down? He didn’t believe it was the latter, she seemed different enough from most nobles at least. In fact he had actually come to trust her in these past few days. So he allowed himself to crack a smile as he watched her eat like she hadn’t eaten in several days.
Noticing that Mikhail was smirking again in reaction to her manners, Ashley swallows her food and starts on her coffee. ”Look, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life worrying about what a man thinks of my manners, I’d get married,”
she says, completely deadpan. ”Even if I retired from the knights, I have enough to worry about at the clinic. Can’t tell you much about it—patient confidentiality—”
she takes a sip of her coffee. ”—but curses are complex problems that usually take multiple days to solve. I’m already lying awake in bed thinking about that. I don’t need to also worry about what my husband would think if I fall asleep first, or what he’ll do if he wakes up and finds his wife still in bed, hair and makeup not done, sweaty clothes still on the floor—”
she pauses for a moment, as if realizing that the picture she was painting might be a bit too vivid. ”Anyway, I’m always wearing some kind of mask in front of people at work. At home, I want to let my hair down, not walk on eggshells, you know?”
Mikhail smiled as she went on about that, content to just sip his coffee and listen to her ramble. He didn’t respond to most of it. Didn’t feel the need to respond to the talks about her future husband and after she stopped herself he didn’t want to accidentally embarrass her. He just nodded at the end. “Well with how busy you sound I don’t blame you. I didn’t pay much attention before but I’ve heard about your unhealthy sleeping habits from Clive. Sounds like both your jobs put you under a lot of stress.”
Ashley nods. ”Most people don’t know a thing about what I do. They watch me stare at runes for hours and wonder if I’m actually working, but they’ll take me seriously if I do it this way. Clive’s a worrywart, so he’ll say it’s unhealthy, but so is working with dark magic. It can’t be helped.”
Ashley’s eyes looked just a bit less lifeless after finishing her coffee. ”This stuff is sinfully good… but we can’t stay here all day,”
she says regretfully, thinking of the Santa Lyrica which would surely catch up to them within hours. She sighs as she looks back up at Mikhail. ”Alright, look. I’m a lady. I’m not taking a bath in the ocean, or in front of strangers in a locker room at the hot springs. So unless you’ve got a better idea, you’re taking me to a hotel,”
she says, averting her eyes awkwardly at the last part.
Did he hear her right? A hotel? He tried to calm himself. It’s not like she was brazenly asking him to take her to a hotel for something weird right? It was just for her to take a bath. That’s right, nothing weird at all. He was thankful that she looked away as he calmed himself from his original surprise. “Right, let’s go.”
He said flatly to cover up his reaction.
As the pair slowly approach reception, Ashley is struck with sudden inspiration. ”E-Excuse me,”
Ashley begins with a tone of awkward shyness, hiding a bit behind Mikhail. ”C-Could we maybe… get a room… high up, with an ocean view?”
she asks the old lady at the counter, turning her eyes up at Mikhail as if she needed his permission.
“Why yes, we do have one of those available,” the old lady says pleasantly.”Isn’t that great?”
Ashley replies as excitedly as she can, quietly slipping her coin pouch into one of Mikhail’s pockets. ”I’ll go ahead and check it out while you handle the boring stuff, okay sweetie? Don’t be late♪”
she says as she takes the key from the receptionist and scampers off toward the stairs.
“Your boyfriend’s a real cutie,” the old lady whispers to Mikhail, giving him a sly look like she understood something that most other old ladies her age wouldn’t.
Luckily for Mikhail he felt Ashley slip some money into his pocket otherwise he wouldn’t have had nearly enough to pay for this. He honestly felt a little bad making her pay like this in so many situations but it couldn’t be helped. He was kept on a tight leash as far as money went so that he’d stay on the island. “Uh, yeah… h-he is…”
He couldn’t tell what got to him and caught him off guard more. The fact that she mistook Ashley for a boy or the fact she assumed the two were dating. Well their actions didn’t help the dating assumption at all but it still bothered him a bit. The old lady only giggled in response as she took his payment, assuming she embarrassed him rather than confused him. After paying he followed after Ashley to their room.
Entering the couple’s suite on the top floor, Ashley is immediately struck with the strong smell of perfume. Resisting the urge to gag, she makes her way to the ocean window and throws it wide open… and is struck with the strong smell of fish. This is fine. I’m desperate, so it’s fine,
she tells herself as Mikhail enters the room shortly after her.”Well? What do you think? Got ourselves a nice little vantage point, and an excuse to be left alone, all without drawing any suspicion,”
she says with a proud smile. ”Are you not impressed?”
After locking the door behind him Mikhail took a look around, scrunching his nose up at the smell of perfume permeating the room. Only to be hit by a smell of fish as he neared the window and Ashley. “Oh we can smell the boat from here.”
He joked flatly. “Impressed? Well that depends, why did we get this room in the first place?”
Ashley blinks. ”Why..? Oh! Because, I want you to keep a lookout for the Santa Lyrica. It’s got the best crew money can buy,”
she says, her voice dripping with disdain. ”so it’s probably still following us.”
He tilted his head in confusion. “I still don’t understand why I need to watch for it though.””Well, like I said, there are dangerous criminals aboard—high class, of course, not like Lord Clive could just arrest them—”
she adds, stalling for time so she could think. She really didn’t want to drag Mikhail into her personal affairs, especially not one that involved a whopping thirty assassins. ”Look, the reality is only slightly more complicated than that, but now isn’t the time. Just keep an eye out, and if you see them approaching, call me back out here and I can handle it easily enough. I already have a plan,”
she says as she opens the door to the bath. ”No peeping, okay, ‘darling?’”
she teases before shutting the door.
Dangerous criminals? It was starting to make a bit more sense, and was explaining her weird behavior back in the capital. Someone was after her and she didn’t want to explain anymore than that. Which was all he needed to hear. “Got it, I’ll keep an eye out.”
He sat by the window and looked out at the docks. Thankfully he was far more used to the smell of fish than the perfume. Mik waved off her teasing as she went into the bathroom. “Yeah, yeah. Just take your damn bath.”