268 The Poverty of a Priestess
Aegin had been on the small ferry for all of four seconds before he spotted the Priestess running in the opposite direction of her companions. The man he'd paid his last gold coin to in order to get him to take his hood and cut off braid and parade it around the docks until the boats left on the afternoon tide had taken care of the others. Despite the man's initial hesitation, his eyes had gleamed at the coin Aegin had held just a hand's breath from his nose.
Admittedly, he had seemed confused when Aegin had taken a dagger from his boot and sliced off his braid before offering it to the man. Aegin proceeded to pin it with the empty skewer from the man's hand and pull up the hood. The man had then swiped the coin and walked out of the alley. Aegin had then fixed his hair in the reflection of a nearby puddle. He used to shave the sides of his head around his ears. It had grown out in the last couple of months but the hair at the top of his head was still longer. He shaved the length at the back off as best he could, though it was awkward to do himself.
Now, as he watched the Priestess run for the dock that the ferry was pushing away from, Aegin couldn't help but spare a thought for his lost braid. Or more for his subpar haircut. He was tempted to laugh at the determination he could see in her eyes as she rushed through the crowd. Until of course, he realised that with the speed she was managing even in the thick crowd, and the speed at which the ferry was pulling away from the dock, there was a chance she'd make it to him.
Aegin felt a sense of panic for all of a second before he realised that her jumping into the ferry was more of a bad idea for her than it was for him. Then he did smile, just a little.
The Dock Master who had sold Aegin his ticket looked up at the pounding footsteps of the Priestess on the wooden dock. He frowned, then his voice rose in protest as he realised she wasn't slowing.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where do you think you're-"
The Priestess ignored him as she swept passed, took another three steps then pushed off with an unconstrained leap from the end of the dock.
The people at the tail end of the ferry gasped, immediately moving out of the way as the Priestess landed right at the bow of the ship and hooked her staff between the railing to pull herself forward. She landed in a roll on the deck and sprung up, her eyes focusing in on Aegin. They narrowed and she took two long strides before a long sword was thrust at her from the side.
"We don't much like stowaways on our ships," said the Captain of the Ferry, "We like the Holy kind even less. Give me a reason as to why I shouldn't just throw you overboard".
The Priestess blanched, as if realising from the man's clothing that he was in fact Yilish. And quite a bit taller and more intimidating as well. But Aegin was impressed when it only took her a second to wipe the surprise from her expression. She pointed at Aegin.
"I have come to arrest this man, he is wanted by the Holy Order," said the Priestess.
The Yilish man turned towards Aegin, who had taken it upon himself to look the most perplexed he possibly could as the boat continued to make it's way out into the bay.
"On what crimes?" asked the Yilish man.
"He..." the Priestess trailed off, "It's business of the Order".
The Yilish man scoffed as he turned back to the Priestess, "What? Is he plagued by demons too? A product of dark things that should be eradicated? I'd say he'd fit right in on our ship, Priestess".
The Priestess huffed in annoyance, "Look, this is business of the Holy Order, I am a Spark following the orders of the High Priestess herself I-"
"Oh ho ho! The High Priestess, how fancy?" asked the Yilish man, "Well, unless you can tell me the man's crime, I see no reason to turn in a well paying customer".
The Priestess frowned, "I'm sure you're aware of the monster that has plagued Estode, the one who hunts for blood. I have reason to believe that this man is that monster".
"Monster?" asked the Yilish man, "I can't say I have heard such a fanciful tale. What say you, sir?"
Aegin frowned, "I think monster is a little harsh. And hunting for blood? Please, I only nipped you, and you seemed to enjoy it well enough".
The whole crowd paused in shock for a moment, as if unsure of exactly what Aegin was implying. After all, this was a Priestess of the Holy Order. Suddenly, the Yilish man guffawed, his sword dropping as he laughed, the rest of the crew proceeded to laugh as well.
"Sir, are you saying you managed to bed a high and mighty Priestess?" asked the Yilish man when he was done.
Aegin sighed, a small smile blooming on his lips, "I wouldn't say it was all that hard. She was practically begging for it".
The Priestess opened and closed her mouth in shock as the crew laughed, the crowd joining nervously. Then the Priestess snapped, "I did no such thing!"
Aegin was quick, "I know you only said one night and to keep it quiet, but when you come after me like this I have to question if you really meant it. I am currently not in the market for a wife, and frankly, you seem to carry a bit much baggage for my tastes".
"Wife?" asked the Priestess in outrage, "Baggage?! Why you-"
She made to step forward, lifting her staff threateningly, but the Yilish man lifted the sword up once more, quick as a flash, "Alright, seeing as you have no apparent reason for being here, either pay up, or you can swim back to shore".
The Priestess frowned, "I...I have no coin on me, my aid-"
She turned back to face the shore, which was now at least a hundred metres away and growing ever more distant.
"No coin? Very well, swim back".
The Yilish man moved quite quickly, moving to scoop the Priestess up. She screamed in shock.
"Wha-! Put me down! Don't you dare throw me overboard! I-I can't swim!"
The Yilish man paused just as the Priestess was halfway over the side. He frowned at her.
The Priestess, who looked genuinely fearful as she glanced over her shoulder at the waters below, nodded frantically.
The Yilish man growled in annoyance and hauled her back on board before arresting her staff from her and pulling her to her feet, "Then it'll be to the brig with you when we get to the main ship. We're too far behind schedule now, we can't head back to shore. We'll dump you in the next port...that is if you don't feel like paying us in other ways. I'm sure they teach you a thing or two in the Holy Order that's useful".
The Priestess scoffed in disgust, pulling against the Yilish man as he dragged her away. She glanced back at Aegin, glaring at him for putting her in this situation. Aegin gave a small smile and shrugged.
Her fault for jumping.