A few deckhands that were nearby turned their heads our way, curious as to what could have been the cause of the comment. Next to me, Thornfang had turned around and stood defensively, but Kaya stood as rooted to the planks, face locked in sudden shock.
With all the cargo being carried to and fro, it was noisy, but still I imagined the wood creaking ominously beneath her paws as she took one step after another towards me. I slowly turned around, reluctant to brace what life threw at me this time.
And there she was, standing within arm’s reach, staring at my body with suspicion.
“What is this garb?” she said pointedly. “Is it asuran?”
“Aaaah,” she said, a sparkle flaring in her purple eyes. “At least you still know my name.”
“I could not forget it even if I wanted to.”
“Ha!” she said, punching my shoulder. It felt so reminiscent that it made me think of my visit to Lion’s Arch, and it made me think of Kára. “So,” she continued, unaware of my thoughts, “what kind of clothing is that?”
“It is asuran, yes.”
“Why the change? Where the clothes I sold you not good enough?”
“I had a change of scenery, and these clothes fitted the new situation better.”
She narrowed her eyes and gave me a ponderous stare.
“You are being very vague, Kumara.”
“I tend to be,” I replied with a toothy grin.
“You can say that again!” Kaya said with a snicker.
Amethyst quickly glared down at the asura, but I gave a soft cough before she could berate Kaya.
“Amethyst, this is Kaya, an asura I worked with over the past few months. Kaya, this is Amethyst, an obtrusive clothes merchant from Lion’s Arch.”
“Interesting to meet you!” Kaya said with a smile.
“The same, though, what did he mean with that he worked with you?”
“Oh,” the asura piped, “we were in the same krewe for a while.”
“Krewe?” Amethyst said, obviously confused. “Kumara, I thought you went to the Grove, not the asuran lands?”
“I did,” I replied with some trepidation.
I could see from the corner of my eye that Kaya had arched her eyebrows. In the end, I never told her what I did before joining the krewe.
“Did you get bored of those sticks that quickly?” she said. “No offence!” she shouted at one of the sylvari deckhands that happened to walk by.
“None taken!” the shrub answered, and Amethyst fixed her eyes on me again.
“Something like that,” I said, shifting my weight back and forth between my legs.
“Ri-ight,” she said, really draw out.
Obviously, she did not believe me.
“Oi!” a high pitched voice cut through the salty air. “New guys, and you, miss nuisance, I did not hire ya to stand around and talk all day, now did I?”
“No captain,” Amethyst replied slyly, in a tone that was way too sweet.
“No sir!” Kaya and I answered.
“However,” Kaya added, “may I inquire as to what tasks you deem us apt to do?”
The captain frowned at her.
“Do I look like yer bloody maid? I’m too busy handling the deckhands, go ask the bosun!”
The captain’s rough manner of speaking took me of guard every time the little one open his mouth. Both in the Citadel and in Hoalbrak I have heard much rougher language, but never from the lips of an asura.
“And,” Kaya attempted to say, but she got cut off by the captain.
“Yes captain!” she replied with a bit too much glee. Turning her attention to us, she said, “You’ll need to see the boatswain or the first mate about that. I’d go for the boatswain, if I were you, Kumara.”
“And why is that?” I asked.
“Well,” she seemed a bit insecure, which is the first time I saw her like that, “the first mate is a human.”
“Oh,” was all I could muster to say.
I should have realized that if a human designed ship, led by an asura, employed both charr and sylvari as well, that humans could be present too. Still, the revelation was a shock, and a cold, dark feeling grew in the pit of my stomach.
“Where can we find this boatswain?” Kaya asked, breaking the stupor my mind had slid into.
“Right there,” Amethyst said, pointing at another asura standing near the prow. “And you should go to him right away.”
“Will do,” I said.
“Thank you,” Kaya said with a surprisingly cold tone.
As we were walking to the boatswain, I considered asking her about that tone that was so unusual to her. But, after thinking it over, I decided not to. What if she did tell me, and then later on decided to use that fact against me to extort information about my past? She was an asura after all, and so far I learned that they always thought several steps ahead.
It was what made them both infuriating and interesting.
The small male had an aura of command despite his lacking height, and as we approached he fixed his stern eyes on us.
“New deckhands?” he asked in a hard, yet not unkind, voice before we even had a chance to speak.
“Yea,” I said with a subtle nod.
The boatswain narrowed his eyes as he looked back and forth between me and Kaya.
“A charr, hmm?” he murmured thoughtfully. “We can always use your kind here. There is plenty of cargo that needs to be hauled to shore still. Go to the hatch,” he said, pointing at a hole in the deck that seemed to lead to the cargo hold, “there another deckhand is lifting the cargo from the hold to the deck. You must take it and carry it across the gangplank; the dockhands will take it from there.”
I gave him a nod and turned to walk to the hatch, but stole a glance to see the boatswain glare at Kaya.
“Now, what to do with you…” I heard him murmur as I walked away.
Sure, I would have liked to see what Kaya was sent to do, but I was an employee now and I had to listen to those in charge. This, oddly enough, was a welcome change. Glix may have been in charge of the krewe, but since I was such a strange asset to their team, he never really ordered me around.
Arriving at the hatch, I saw a sylvari desperately trying to haul a large sack out of the hold. Even though someone was clearly holding it up below, the stick had the hardest time getting it on deck. I knelt down next to the bush and grabbed the sack. At first, the twig stared at me in surprise, but that expression quickly made way for an apologetic smile. With one big yank I pulled the sack onto the deck.
“Thank you,” the stick said.
“Maybe you should concern yourself with the smaller cargo,” I said with a grin.
“Yea,” he said laughing, “I guess that you are right.”
I stood up and carried the heavy bundle to the dock, doing my best not to knock anyone over. Thankfully it seemed like others stayed out of my path. I realized that I should store my weapons as soon as possible, as they were quite the burden in this situation. Thornfang followed me closely, clearly unsure what to make of the entire situation.
On my way back to the ship, I passed several other deckhands; some of them were sylvari, a few of them were asura, one was a norn and I saw two humans. Every muscle in my body tensed as I walked past the mice. They eyed me with some suspicion, but that paled to what I felt when looking at them. I did my best to hide the disgust I felt and it took all the composure I could muster to not rip off their heads.
Back at the hatch, I saw a shadow moving in the hold.
“Got any heavy cargo left?” I shouted down into the shadows cast by the many crates.
“Bah!” I heard a gruff voice bellow from the hold. “We sure do, think you can handle it?”
The shadow stepped into the light and we stared at each other in surprise.
“By Bealfire’s foul fangs, another charr!” the charr in the hold shouted enthusiastically.
The crewmate was a large, burly charr with pitch black fur, clothed in nothing more than some dark gray trousers giving him the appearance of a living shadow. His eyes were bright amber, sparkling with life, but he only had a left long horn, slanted backwards; his right horn was nothing more than a broken stub.
“So,” I mused, “Amethyst and I are not the only charr on this ship.”
“Ha, that would be my line!” He rubbed his chin in thought. “So, you met her as well?”
“Yea, I met her before in Lion’s Arch as well.”
“Poor guy,” he said, shaking his head with a grin on his face.
“I know, right?” I replied with a shrug.
“Anyway,” the burly charr said, “we should talk later and continue working before the boatswain thinks we aren’t working.”
“Good point,” I nodded in agreement.
The charr lifted a heavy looking crate and shoved it towards to opening of the hatch.
“Let’s see how strong you are,” he said huffing.
I took hold of the crate and immediately regretted taking a job as a deckhand. It felt like the crate was filled with metal ingots—and it probably was. Somehow I managed to heave the crate out of the hold with the other charr pushing it from below. I took a small step towards the gangplank but nearly lost my balance due to the enormous weight of the crate. Before I knew it, two others came rushing to me and helped carry the crate to shore.
I did not see who they were until we placed down the crate on the dock. One of the extra hands was the same sylvari I helped out just a bit earlier by carrying the large sack in his place. He appeared to be pleased to return the favor. The other pair of hands, however, belonged to a human. I could only give him a curt nod before turning around to get back onto the ship.
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Kaya: An asura that Kumara got to know in a krewe they both worked in. Now, she sets out with Kumara to see the world.
Amethyst: A charr clothes merchant from Lion’s Arch that loves to travel from time to time.
Tot: Captain of the cargo ship Serendipity.
Kára: A norn that helped Kumara right after his flight from Ascalon.
Glix: The asura that leads the krewe that Kumara found himself in.