120 A First Night in the Galley*
The climb down was harder than the climb up had been. Mostly because it only reinforced the fact that Ebony had been stuck up so high all day. It was only as the sun began to set that Isaac had returned from abandoning her at midday to relieve her of her duties. Though as she left he had instructed her to be up the mast and ready to take over from him come dawn. She didn't in the least bit like the prospect of climbing up so high for another full day, but the work itself was relatively easy. Isaac had only needed the morning to instruct her on the calls and what to look for. He'd told her quite plainly that the hardest part of the job was when one was staring at the horizon constantly. Sometimes it messed with the mind, and created things that weren't there. As such, having something to distract oneself on occasion helped with concentration, such as Isaac's whittling or Ebony's embriodery.
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She'd taken out the cloth and cotton cautiously, and Isaac had smirked.
"Not what I expected," he'd said, though hadn't teased her further. Ebony was grateful for that.
As Ebony's feet finally set themselves firmly on the main deck once more, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Ebony jumped at the voice, turning to find Rassa smiling at her. The bastard didn't look the least bit phased, just like after every day of hard work. It didn't seem the bother him in the least bit, which only seemed to bother Ebony and Aegin more. It was like nothing could touch the guy. Well, she supposed nothing could, but that was beside the point.
"I'll be okay," Ebony said after a moment. Aegin didn't look okay. He didn't exactly looked ragged, but he hardly looked okay either. Ebony could only ascertain that he'd had to do a fair amount of labour, more than the docks had given them.
"Let's eat, I'm starving," Aegin grumbled, turning to follow the crew down into the galley.
While Midas had only pointed at it during their quick tour that morning, Aegin and Rassa had been down earlier when they were ordered to help peel and chop vegetables. Apparently, those of the lowest rank got to help the cook. Rassa wasn't bothered by the couple of hours of work to feed the crew of eighty, in fact, he seemed to turn his nose up at the food there, though was doing his hardest not to show it. Aegin on the other hand had thought it pure toture to sit there and prepare everything and then be forbidden from touching the finished product until the evening meal. Despite the extra rations that Rassa had secretly passed him, he was famished.
The Galley, as mentioned earlier, was on the third deck. The deck itself was sitting just at the waterline, but there were no windows to see out, only dimly lit candles lined the walls and tables, giving an eerie feeling to the galley. There were three long tables that each sat about twenty individuals. Apparently those with a higher rank usually dined with the captain in his quarters, and of course there were those who would eat later, or earlier in Isaac's case, that were currently on watch. Aegin, Rassa and Ebony arrived when about thirty sailors had already been served and had taken a seat at the long tables. There was a merry atmosphere amongst them, though no drinks accompanied them. Apparently alcohol was forbidden on the ship, water only. Still, that didn't dim their spirits. The three new recruits could tell that the crew were all in high spirits, a result no doubt of their return to the open ocean. They'd only had a taste of it today, but there were two moments that were memorable to just about everyone who became a part of a ship. The first was when you stared out at the endless ocean and realised that you could truly go anywhere with how large the world was. The second reason was the feeling of working in unison with so many others to reach a common goal. The three of them, having been forcibly isolated for one reason or another, had never felt they belonged or that they were a part of anything. Now that they'd experienced it, even if they were still cautious of those around them, they could sense just how great that feeling of belonging was.
To Rassa though, it was a reality check in one form. Vincent had once told him that it was his responsibility to lead a new age of Vampires. But knowing what Rassa would have to do to create those Vampires, that he would have to do it himself...he'd insisted that it would never happen. That he would never sentence anyone to an eternity of hunger like that. And yet now...the prospect, though still a source of conflict within him, was beginning to sound somewhat appealing. If there were others like him, others that shared his trials and hardships, would he feel even greater than what he'd felt for a moment here on The Miranda?
The three of them moved up in the line, and were each instructed to retrieve a bowl and a small roll before they were served a salted beef stew with a few vegetables. Rassa had originally been surprised that they were able to cook on board, he'd thought with the confined space and all that it would be took much of a risk. But the cook was well-trained and took his safety in the kitchen seriously, something Rassa silently commended him for. The last thing they needed was the ship bursting into flames in the middle of the ocean. Rassa seated himself opposite Aegin and Ebony at the end of one of the tables and Rassa cautiously took a bite.
He immediately wanted to spit it back out.
"What's up with you?" asked Ebony as she noticed Rassa's expression. Aegin chuckled as he saw Rassa's disgusted expression which was hard to conceal without his hood up.
Aegin leaned over and whispered to Ebony, "He's not fond of our human food".
Ebony's eyes widened, then she looked to the others around, "Are you okay?"
Rassa sighed, "I'll survive if that's what you're asking".
His spoon moved the meat around absentmindedly. Gods he couldn't wait until they were asleep for the night. Then he could wash away the foul taste in his mouth.
As Ebony and Aegin proceeded to eat, Jorl sat with them and introduced them to a few other sailors, including Tank, a huge man whom apparently held the record for arm wrestling. With how much pride he took in his title, Aegin was tempted to make Rassa wrestle him, but knew it was likely his friend would feign weakness. When the others weren't looking, Rassa spooned his stew bit by bit into Aegin's bowl. Ebony insisted she didn't need the extra food, she wasn't the one doing hard labour all day. Aegin was not complaining. In fact, he was thinking that this was the beginning of a great new deal between him and Rassa. One in which he could see no down side.
Extra free meals amongst a rationed crew? Now that was something to celebrate no matter how hard the day had been.