119 An Experienced Shipmate*
As Ebony struggled to maintain a sense of 'manly' dignity at the top of the main mast, Aegin and Rassa were in the process of learning how to follow orders so that the ship could run as smoothly as possible. It involved various tasks, but encompassed mainly the operation of the anchor and sails. Their teacher, a man in his thirties by the name of Jorl, was a veteran on the Miranda. As he took the two younger men around the ship, instructing them on various tasks throughout the morning, he spent time telling them of the various feats the ship they were on had achieved throughout the years. He was quite the entertaining storyteller, enough to get blood pumping with a fierceness that Rassa and Aegin hadn't really felt before. The fierceness of determination.
Being rather adept at physical movements, Aegin and Rassa picked up on the labour aspect of their new job fairly quickly. Jorl seemed quite impressed by the time lunch rolled around and they were well on their way into the journey. It'd been a couple of hours since the ship had seen the mainland, and the larger movements and currents of the ocean made for a strange experience. Getting used to the motions and jolts was easy for Rassa. Aegin seemed to struggle a little, but managed not to make a complete fool of himself. They had yet to see Ebony, who remained aloft even past the lunch hour, only being visited briefly by her teacher who deliver a small meal to her before retiring to bed. Apparently he'd taught her enough that she'd be fine on her own for the afternoon. Rassa had to convince himself that she'd be okay. Even with the sea breeze he could scent her heavy anxiety and fear from down on the deck. But, just beneath it there was a trace of determination, of persistence. She wouldn't quit easily no matter the job she'd been given. Rassa couldn't fault her for that.
"Here, have a break," Jorl said, offering a hunk of bread and an apple. Rassa opened his mouth to reject it, ready to say he didn't need to eat. Then his mouth snapped closed. He'd gotten too comfortable with the work that morning. He'd almost forgotten that he was supposed to be hiding his diet. Another aspect of that comfort was what Ebony had said about her and Aegin's relationship with him compared to everyone else. About how being honest about what he was had led to them sticking around. Considering they'd left the empire now and Rassa didn't technically need to hide in order to avoid the Kildares, he'd had half a mind to just be honest about it. But then that doubt rose in him again. What would these men do upon learning about his true nature? To be stuck on a ship with them for an extended period of time...Rassa at the very least believed that if he was going to be honest about what he was, he should have given them a fair say about whether or not they wanted him on board. After all, he'd be feeding from them.
Better to keep quiet for now, besides, the ship wasn't supposed to be a permanent solution, simply a means to an end.
Rassa took the offered food with a small smile and sat down on top of the mass of rope he'd been untangling. Jorl sat beside him, eating his own meal as Aegin joined them.
Aegin glanced at Rassa holding the food giving a small frown. Rassa gave the slightest shake of his head to tell Aegin not to worry then bit into the bread.
Yuck. It tasted much worse than when he was still attempting to eat human food all those years ago in Cordon. Back then the food had just tasted bland. Now...it was like eating dirt. Rassa longed for even a drop of blood to wash it down, but endured it, noticing the little smirk Aegin was giving.
The bastard knew that this was torture for Rassa.
"So what brought you aboard The Miranda in the first place Jorl?" Aegin asked, distracting the older man from Rassa's plight.
Jorl happily jumped at the chance to tell another story, "Well now, that was quite the time in me life". he reminisced, a distant look appearing on his face, "I was a bit younger than you lads when I arrived at Quintel Seaport in Aldred, my homeland on the Western Contient. With three older brothers there was little need for me on the family farm, so me Ma proposed I look elsewhere for work. Me Pa was none too happy about me leaving but they both knew I had an adventurous spirit, which is why I went straight to the sea. I'd only just arrived in the port when The Miranda sailed in, Captained at the time by Gabriel Token, Jeremiah's Uncle. It was a brand new ship then, just a couple of years old. Hadn't yet been battered by a storm nor had troubles with pirates. But even if that was the case it was a well-known vessel thanks to its Captain. It only sailed to the western continents once a year thanks to the long journey, but the trip was well worth it due to the gem stones that they'd bring to the Southern Continent and Eldovia. Anyhow, I'd watched the ship sail into port, larger and more magnificient than most of the other ships and I'd fallen in love with this beauty. When there was a notice posted that they were looking for new crew members I jumped at the chance. It was quite the intimidating interview as well, Jeremiah was First Mate at the time, and he said I likely was only selected because of my appreciation of The Miranda. Apparently old Captain Gabriel had a true soft spot for the girl, not that I can blame him, she is a beauty".
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Jorl sighed thoughtfully before taking another bite of his lunch. Meanwhile, as he fell into his memories, Rassa passed his food discreetly to Aegin. Aegin only smiled this time, he didn't complain at getting extra rations.