It was a 'no questions asked job'. Clara would guard the ship, the Drakon, and keep a lookout for suspicious people without asking questions, they, in turn, would not ask questions about how she kept the peace if anyone should happen to come and try to steal...whatever they would be stealing.
Or at least, she thought they would be stealing something. The only information she got was that she needed to guard the ship and only allow the Captain and his first mate aboard, and of course how much it paid. The coin was good and winter wasn't too far away, so she took the job. Besides, a 'no questions asked' job was just the kind of job that she preferred.
Jam lay across the planks of the dock. The mutt yawned and stretched sleepily before making himself comfortable again. They had been at this job for almost the entire day. The last time Jam had to wait this long for some excercise and excitement was in the winter when he was holed up in an apartment in Amaranthine.
"Not very exciting, huh boy?" Jam looked up at her with his warm brown eyes. He panted in response. With a smile, Clara bent down and scratched his ears. "Don't worry, this job will be over and we can go off and do someting more exciting soon."
Cauthrien made her way up the dock toward town, munching contentedly on a codfish pie. By a stroke of luck, the Celestine had been docked in Highever, and she had spent a pleasant hour chatting with Captain Brighton, who had, as usual, renewed his offer of a place on his crew if she ever tired of life as a landlubber. She had declined, also as usual, but even knowing that she would never walk away from the Grey Wardens, the offer pleased her iCn an odd sort of way, knowing that she had learned enough, done well enough during her short stint on the cargo ship to be considered worthy of it.
The pies were one of the specialties of the ship's cook: flaky chunks of cod lightly salted and baked with mashed potatoes in a small pie crust. They'd been one of her favorites, and she'd managed to cajole the recipe out of him; hopefully Tobias would be able to read his scrawling writing well enough to re-create the dish.
She wore her Warden blues, had left her armor in her room at the inn (not the Green Spears, mind you … she gave that spot a wide berth), but the Summer Sword was in its place across her back. The primary purpose of this journey had been to recruit new Grey Wardens, and to do that, she had to look the part.
She glanced up at the sun. One night, maybe two, at Highever, and she'd be on her way. She'd already sent four recruits on to Amaranthine: two lads from South Reach, one from Edgewater and a young woman from Stormgard. Others had expressed interest, but too many at one time risked drawing attention when lives were inevitably lost at the Joining. They'd been lucky to have so many survivors in the last group; that luck would not hold. No more than five, Nathaniel had said when she'd left.
She'd sent them to Amaranthine because she had no idea when Nate and the others would be leaving for the wedding in Gwaren. If they traveled by ship, it might be the end of Harvestmere, but if they went overland, they would need to leave by mid-month, and she had no intention of returning to Denerim until after the first of Harvestmere, when there was no chance that she might be ordered to attend. She'd already attended two formal occasions this year, which was two more than she would have preferred.
She hadn't asked anything about the wedding. She hadn't wanted to know, hadn't wanted to even discuss it with Nathaniel. All she had wanted to do was go, to get away from the awkwardness that she feared would be the new normal between them. She'd botched things there, just as she had botched them in the Korcari Wilds, leading those under her command head-on into a damned varterrall. It had been sheer luck that hers had been the only serious injury. This trip had been as much an escape as a recruitment drive, and had she encountered the Celestine her first week out instead of her last, Brighton's offer might have been given at least a bit of consideration before she turned him down.
But the solitude of the last few weeks had done for her what it always did: ordered her thoughts, calmed her emotions, strengthened her resolve. She was a Grey Warden, and she would live and die a Grey Warden. If she and Nathaniel could no longer work together, then perhaps she should request a transfer to another group, Wiesshaupt, maybe. Not that she wanted to leave Ferelden; quite the -
Her thoughts were interrupted by a warm tongue licking her left hand. Not a usual happening, to say the least, but as mid-day was too early for most sailors to get that drunk, she wasn't overly surprised to find said tongue attached to a large, brown and black hound, muzzle grey with age and big brown eyes looking hopefully at her. Or, more accurately, at the remains of the pie in her right hand.
“Didn't your mother tell you it's not polite to beg?” she chided him, but she broke off a piece and offered it. Rather than bolt it down, he took the piece in his teeth, turned and trotted away. Finishing off what was left, she brushed her hands together to get rid of the crumbs, watching to see where he would go to eat his prize.
Post by Clara Shaltin on May 14, 2017 22:16:04 GMT -5
Clara was so preoccupied watching the people pass by her along the docks, that she hadn't notice Jam wander off until he had disappeared. Worry seized her for a moment, wondering where he might have gotten off too and whether or not he had gotten into trouble. Before her imagination could reach the worst of circumstances, Jam trotted forward to her, the crust of a pie hanging out of his mouth, his small tail wagging happily.
"Now where did you get that?" asked Clara. Jam looked up at her in acknowledgment before sitting back down on the docks and tucking into his prize. Clara rolled her eyes. How was she going to teach her dog to stop begging if people kept giving in to his qualms? "I'm surprised you don't get fat from all the scraps you scrounge off people. At least you aren't eating from the garbage like the strays." That was when she saw the woman staring at them.
The dog ambled back to a young woman sitting at the foot of the gangplank of one of the ships tied up along the dock, wagging his tail before settling down to enjoy his treat. The woman said something to the dog, though Cauthrien wasn't close enough to make out the words. It didn't sound like a scolding, and it certainly didn't put a damper on the dog's appetite.
The woman looked up, becoming aware of the presence of an onlooker. “He was actually quite polite about it,” Cauthrien called out, in case she might think that he had stolen his snack.
Post by Clara Shaltin on May 16, 2017 22:53:51 GMT -5
“He was actually quite polite about it,” the woman called out to her. Clara tried and failed to hold back a smile. At least the person he took the pie from wasn't too upset.
"Oh, good," she called back, "he might be a con-mutt, but at least he's a gentleman about it." Jam looked up a moment and gave a short, happy bark before tucking back into the scrap, which was now almost gone.
"Oh, good," the woman that Cauthrien assumed was the dog's owner replied with a smile, "he might be a con-mutt, but at least he's a gentleman about it." Said con-mutt/gentleman looked up, as if aware that he were the subject of discussion, and voiced his agreement before returning to his prize.
“That he is,” Cauthrien replied, moving closer, keeping one eye on the dog. He'd seemed friendly enough when cadging a snack, but with his owner nearby, he might be more protective. The tail thumped once, but he did not seem inclined to aggression. “Warden-Constable Cauthrien MacLean,” she introduced herself to the woman, casting an appraising eye at the ship. “You on her crew?”
Post by Clara Shaltin on May 25, 2017 23:14:10 GMT -5
“That he is,” said the woman, approaching her. “Warden-Constable Cauthrien MacLean.” A Warden? She had never met a Warden before, except for in stories. As far as she knew, they were bloodthirsty people that killed mercenaries if they were on the wrong side. Not that this wasn't part of the job, but with most normal people, you had a chance to survive. Wardens treated mercenaries like they were simply fences to get through. These thoughts made the Warden's appraising eye of the ship more threatening.
“You on her crew?” Clara gripped her staff still tighter. She didn't want to fight, she knew she would lose, especially since Jam seemed to be taking a shine to her. Even now, he had finished the pie and began searching her for any other morsels she might have lying about.
"No, I was just hired to do some guard work," she said cautiously. "Why?"
Cauthrien didn’t miss the sudden tension in the young woman when she mentioned she was a Grey Warden. Odd. Most folk in Ferelden welcomed the presence of a Warden. Perhaps it had been her name, but no … there had been no sign of recognition in her expression.
Her casual question seemed to make the girl even more nervous, fingers tightening around the staff that she held. The dog didn’t seem to share his mistress’ unease; rising, he ambled over to Cauthrien and nudged her hand, plainly hoping for a repeat performance. “Sorry, boy, no more,” she apologized, scratching his ears.
"No, I was just hired to do some guard work," she replied, plainly wary. "Why?"
“Just curious,” Cauthrien replied, keeping her voice casual, even though instinct was beginning to nudge at her. Odd reaction, odd weapon, odd job to give to a lightly armored girl who didn’t really seem to have any idea of how to guard something. Maybe they thought the dog would be a deterrent, but he didn’t seem to pose a danger to anything but pastries. “Spent some time at sea a few years back, thought I recognized her from one port or another. What’s the captain’s name?” If they had a bad reputation, Brighton would likely know of them.
Post by Clara Shaltin on Jun 4, 2017 20:42:42 GMT -5
Jam didn't find any more treats. “Sorry, boy, no more,” Cauthrien said, scratching his ears. He wagged his tail contentedly, then rolled over onto his belly, panting happily.
“Just curious,” Cauthrien said to answer Clara's question. “Spent some time at sea a few years back, thought I recognized her from one port or another. What’s the captain’s name?” Clara shrugged. The other benefit of a 'no questions asked' job: you were always telling the truth when noisy people like this Warden did ask questions.
"I don't know. He told me to call him One-Eye. That's all I know."
The young woman shrugged at Cauthrien's question. "I don't know. He told me to call him One-Eye. That's all I know."
The Warden-Constable's eyebrows lifted at this; the name wasn't ringing any bells, and it was far from unusual for a sailor to be missing one or more body parts, but it still didn't feel right. She should just move on, mind her own business, but she suspected that the girl was in over her head and didn't even know it. Highever wasn't the type of port where a captain had to post a guard over his ship … at least, not a captain with legal cargo.
“Did you at least find out what it is you're guarding?” she asked pointedly, still keeping her distance and maintaining a neutral tone and pose, even as her eyes drifted along the docks looking for the trouble that instinct suggested was not far off. “Because I can promise that you'll be the one on the hook for it if the authorities get involved and this One-Eye is nowhere to be found.”
Post by Clara Shaltin on Jun 10, 2017 13:38:54 GMT -5
Cauthrien raised an eyebrow. “Did you at least find out what it is you're guarding?” she asked as her eyes worked their way across the dock. Her tone was not fooling Clara one bit: she was suspicious about this activity. “Because I can promise that you'll be the one on the hook for it if the authorities get involved and this One-Eye is nowhere to be found.”
"I am not getting paid to ask questions," Clara said defensively. It's not like the thought didn't occur to her to ask why she was guarding this lone ship out in the middle of the docks, not to mention why she was the only one guarding it. "And the authorities are the reasons why I haven't been told much of anything. I'm fairly certain One-Eye isn't even his real name. And this wouldn't be a problem if you just go about your business instead of harassing me!" This round of questioning was making her feel uneasy. It hadn't mattered when she started but wasn't this Warden basically the authorities? What was she going to do to her if she didn't yield to any investigations? Moreover, what would One-Eye do if she let this woman on the ship? Just because she was being paid doesn't mean that she could trust him. Why did she even have to guard this ship anyway? So much for a no-questions job.
Heavy footsteps heralded the arrival of her answers. One-Eye was a huge man with wild black hair covering almost every inch of his face. A white patch covered his right eye, the reason for the name that he gave her. But he was missing more than just an eye. A sleeve covered a stump where his left hand should be and a wooden leg had replaced his right leg. Clara wondered how he managed to survive with only half of his limbs available every time he showed up.
"What's going on here?" He demanded in a booming voice. His single eye glared at Cauthrien as if she was a rat or poisonous snake. Or maybe a poisonous rat? "You have no business here, Warden. I suggest you leave."
"I am not getting paid to ask questions," the girl snapped. "And the authorities are the reasons why I haven't been told much of anything. I'm fairly certain One-Eye isn't even his real name. And this wouldn't be a problem if you just go about your business instead of harassing me!"
“Fair enough,” Cauthrien replied equably. She could stand here lecturing until she ran out of breath, or she could do something productive with her time. Young or not, the other looked to be grown, and she was clearly aware that her present job involved questionable legality. She couldn't save everyone from making the wrong choices.
She turned to go, but found her path blocked by a foul smelling wall. "What's going on here?" the giant thundered, treating her to breath that was redolent of smoked fish and cheap ale. Brighton would surely know this one; how many one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged captains could there be sailing the seas of Thedas? "You have no business here, Warden. I suggest you leave."
It would have been easier to just go her way, but every mistake she had ever made had come from taking the easy way out, so Cauthrien simply crossed her arms and looked up into the wild shrubbery of his beard, hair and eyebrows, seeking out the single dark eye and holding it without flinching. “The docks are a public space,” she replied in an even tone. That bellow would be drawing the attention of the Highever guards, hopefully before things went much farther. She'd been involved in one brawl in Highever, and she wasn't keen on repeating the experience.
Post by Clara Shaltin on Jun 11, 2017 22:46:34 GMT -5
Clara watched as Cauthrien looked defiantly into her employer's single eye. “The docks are a public space,” she replied.
"It's still illegal to loiter, especially near private property. And, in case you were not aware, you are near private property." Jam growled at the man, baring his sharp, white teeth. The man's angry eye pointed to Clara's direction "And didn't I tell you, if you couldn't shut up your mangy mongrel then I would fire you on the spot?"
"Jam, silence," said Clara firmly. It wasn't the first time Jam growled at him. He did the same thing when One-Eye was interviewing her. She couldn't blame him, she didn't like this man, either. If she didn't need the money to survive, she wouldn't have even thought to take this job. Thankfully, Jam stopped growling, but he slowly put himself between her and this unsavory character.
One-Eye didn't seem to notice this move, only that the dock was now marginally quieter. He looked back to Cauthrien. "Good. Now, I suggest you leave. There is no place here for traitors, whether they hide behind the Wardens or not."
Clara was taken aback. Traitor? What was he talking about? Who was this woman?
“It’s still illegal to loiter, especially near private property,” One-Eye growled, and Cauthrien lifted an eyebrow at the surprisingly concise language. She’d heard barristers called pirates before, but this was a bit more literal than she’d ever encountered.
Behind her, the dog rumbled menacingly, and the single eye shifted its focus. “And didn’t I tell you, if you couldn’t shut up your mangy mongrel then I would fire you on the spot?”
“Jam, silence,” the young woman ordered, and the dog subsided.
“Good,” One-Eye rumbled.
“The dog has sense,” Cauthrien remarked, wishing that his owner had heeded the warning he had evidently tried to give.
One-Eye's one eye rolled back to her. “Now, I suggest you leave. There is no place here for traitors, whether they hide behind the Wardens or not.”
She didn’t blink at the insult. She’d been called far worse by far, far better. “I’m not hiding,” she replied calmly, “but I’m a bit fuzzy on the legal definition of ‘loitering’. How about we summon the guard and get their opinion on the matter?” She glanced up the dock. “No need. Here come two now.” The pair were moving with a bit more purpose than a routine patrol, but showed no real urgency; they’d likely been drawn by One-Eye’s raised voice, and were expecting to have to head off an incipient brawl.
Post by Clara Shaltin on Jun 13, 2017 19:22:31 GMT -5
“I’m not hiding,” said Cauthrien, “but I’m a bit fuzzy on the legal definition of ‘loitering’. How about we summon the guard and get their opinion on the matter? No need. Here come two now.” Clara's eyebrows furrowed in confusion before she turned in the direction Cauthrien was looking. Sure enough, a pair of guards were sauntering across the dock straight toward them.
One-Eye saw them too. Clara thought she heard him say "Andraste's tits" under his breath. "Right," he said to Clara, "you and your mutt keep an eye on my ship and this bitch while I go talk to the riff-raff. And don't you tell her a damn thing." Clara was about to remind him that she didn't know a damn thing worth telling Cauthrien but One-Eye hobbled over to the approaching guards before she could tell him.
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