Guts and Sass: The Plains-Reprise
FanFiction by: Shaharw
Guts and Sass by M.E. Traylor
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Sometime after the happenings of
The Plains – 13
Hannah Roverton approached Ashur warily. She had helped him when Ridiath and she had rescued him from the camp. She had practically carried him out of there. But he pretty much still hated her guts. As far as she could tell anyway.
She was at least out of the basement. Yay for that. That nasty bilge was making her gag. The hammock was hard to get used to, swaying with the ship and rocking back and forth. Still much better. Surrounded by all the short men sleeping around her, somewhat fragrant in that confinement, she was finally able to relax. If someone dared to touch her, a yell would wake everyone else up and most likely someone would help.
But she wasn't interested in any one but Ashur. He intrigued her – he was obviously the man in charge, along with Alan, anyway. He was also the one that had almost drowned her when she had first been held on the ship. She kept an eye on him whenever he was on deck, watching him dealing with problems with the crew, or whatever ship captains did. Hannah was taller than him but he didn't seem intimidated by that.
They had anchored just outside of a cove on the shore and Hannah hoped they would let her go ashore. She had already proven that she wouldn't run away; after all, where was she going to run to? This world-wide rpg didn't seem to be going away, so she might as well make the best of things. As long as giant mutant tiger-lions left her alone, and well, as long as those creepy Drifalcand left her alone as well, she'd be fine. And she was a soldier, or used to be, so she could fight with the best of them on the ship.
She was just getting the hang of Briggarie, too. Fitting right in, right? Her sister would be so proud. Or maybe have her committed. Hannah had speculated that maybe she was trapped in some hallucination, post traumatic syndrome type of thing, but this had been going on so long and was so real seeming that the hallucination excuse didn't really hold water.
Maybe Ashur would let her become an official member of his crew? Not that she was any good on boats, but she could clean, couldn't she? She had been over practically every inch of this ship with her broom and her cloth and the thing fucking gleamed. The varnishing wasn't finished and she could help with that too, although from what she could tell, you finished the varnishing at one end and it was time to start on the other end.
She watched closely as the other ship approached. They hadn't made her go below this time, which was great. She made sure, though, that she stayed out of the way. Just in case Ashur noticed her and changed his mind. The other ship didn't look much like theirs, it was sleeker and the mast didn't slant at an odd angle like theirs did.
The other ship was anchored close by now and she could see the men swarming over the deck. They were mostly taller than the men on 'her' ship, although they didn't look taller than her. A boat was dropped from the side of the strange ship and several men climbed down the rope ladders and carefully settled themselves in.
Ashur looked particularly forbidding, standing there next to Alan with his arms crossed his chest. He was scowling, but that was pretty much his normal expression. Alan, as usual, was impassive, his face a blank slate.
The men came up the side of their ship and easily dropped over the railing. "We come in peace." The man at the head of the small group seemed to be charge. "We just wanted to share any news that might be had."
"We've not seen any other ships for two twelvedays at least. What about you?"
"There is a full flight of ships three days down the coast from here. They are looking for a ship much like this. They say that it harbors pirates."
Alan spoke up for the first time. "And what do they say these pirates have done?"
"The usual, of course. Pillaging the villages along the coast. Raping the women, killing the men. Even the Llidrisy are wary of them apparently."
Alan's only response was a cocked eyebrow and a mild snort.
"And what do you think of these claims?" Ashur asked calmly.
"About what you think of it. They are full of herdbeast shit." Ashur grinned, then.
"Well, you're welcome aboard. We have seal meat. It should be ready soon if you'd like to share our meal."
This went over well with the three men and they smiled and casually sat on the deck, resting up against the central cabin. Looking over at Hannah, one started with surprise. "What are you doing with a giant? And where did you get her?"
Alan gave one of his small smiles that Hannah always thought made him look kind of retarded. He didn't bother to answer the question, as usual.
Another one looked at her appraisingly. "What would you trade for her? We have some extra supplies."
Hannah frowned at that, but surprisingly Ashur frowned more. "She's not for trade." He scowled at her as though it was her fault such a thing even came up. She grinned back delightedly. Ashur liked her! Or at least didn't hate her as much anymore. Real progress!
The stranger pressed, not seeing that he was pressing all of Ashur's buttons and none of them good. "I could get a good trade for someone like her. Grass eyes and so tall. A circus maybe."
Ashur leaned over to him and grasped him by the throat. "She's not for trade and if you don't want to be tossed over the side, you'll stop talking now."
The man pulled back and Ashur released him. Rubbing his throat the stranger cleared it awkwardly. "My apologies. I did not realize she was yours. I did not mean to offend."
Ashur scowled even more at this but settled back onto his haunches and began slicing off seal meat with his knife.
When the men had left Ashur approached Hannah seemingly by accident and looked up into her face. "Thanks, Ashur." And, hey, she remembered not to call him Asshole. "That was real nice of you."
"Don't get used to it. I could get more for you when we dock next. Those men wouldn't have paid a decent price."
Hannah flung her head back in surprise, and was even more surprised when Ashur laughed and slapped her on the back.
The surprises continued when Ashur allowed Hannah to go with the men to get fresh water. They loaded the boats with empty barrels and headed in towards the river. They didn't suggest Hannah row, which was just as well. Instead, she got to help haul buckets over the side and lift them to dump into the barrels. Over and over, pretty tedious, but she was getting used to the tedious work. Somehow, she always thought that pirates spent their days sword fighting and drinking and maybe carousing, whatever that was. Instead, it seemed to be fishing, loafing, gathering plants, gathering water, and the occasional terrifying storm. Who'd have thought?
Ashur was waiting when they got back and observed as they hauled the barrels back onto the deck of the ship. He didn't say anything to anyone, but she could feel his eyes burning the back of her neck. She kept her head down and didn't comment when Cosag strode her way and told her it was her shift in the hammock.
Lying there, unable to sleep, Hannah tried to find a comfortable position. She had been used to being able to toss and turn in the water bed back home, but hammocks didn't do tossing and turning very well. Giving up she struggled back out of it and grumbled her way to the water barrel. Drinking a bowl full and deciding she wouldn't be able to sleep she went back to the ladder and made her way back to the deck.
The moon was almost full and she was able to cautiously make her way to her favorite perch near the cabin wall, where she could brace herself against the rocking of the ship. She jumped when Alan settled himself next to her and leaned his head back against the wall, looking out at the stars. "Ashur was looking for you."
"Really? He remembers that I can sleep out of the bilge right?" She didn't want to lose that privilege.
"Yes, he remembers." Alan's mouth lifted in a small smile. "I think he's in the war room. That cabin we don't let you go in. Go talk to him."
Hannah looked at Alan carefully. "So, it's okay if I go in there now."
"Yes." He didn't say anything further, just folded his arms on his knees and stared up at the sky.
Hannah shrugged her shoulders and unfolded herself. If Ashur wanted to talk to her that was fine by her. Mostly, when people talked to her they looked at her like she was crazy. She was getting kind of tired of that, even though she was pretty sure she was crazy, too.
The war room was just another cabin, although there was an interesting map carved directly into the table. Ashur was leaning over it, tracing the line of the shore with a long finger. She paused in the doorway, still not sure she was welcome, but Ashur looked up and waved her in. "Well, don't just stand there, woman."
"Sorry." As she cautiously walked in she saw there were other people there, too. A little disappointed that it wasn't a private meeting but secretly relieved also, she leaned against the wall, trying to look casual.
Ashur was abrupt as usual, continuing his conversation with Ridiath as though Hannah hadn't come in.
"We can't take a chance on this working twice, you know. Just because you were able to walk into the Drifalcand camp and walk out again does not mean you can do it again safely."
Ridiath's face was impassive as usual. "We need to find out why Demhlei hasn't contacted me for a twelveday. He never waits that long."
"And you don't think he's just lying low and quiet after you came and got Kimfen and me out."
"Right. Not many saw us last time. There's no one to identify us as the ones that took you out. Or the ones that killed the guards."
"Wait a minute. That was you not me." Hannah was quick to set the record straight on that one. No way was she going to be held responsible for the gut wounds on those guards.
Ridiath let her glance flick in Hannah's direction, but didn't reply to her remark. "We probably don't have much time. If Demhlei has been taken, they will not take any chances. He'll be considered a traitor and a sacrifice.
"He has done too much to help us not to try to find him."
Hannah pushed off from the wall and crossed her arms in front of her. "And what do I get for helping this time? I won't go in there and risk myself for some guy I don't even know."
"What do you want?" Ashur was blunt.
"Um… Let me think a minute." She was pretty sure a ticket home wasn't forthcoming. She wasn't even sure, now, where home would be in this crazy place. And freedom? She'd seen part of the countryside now. Granted it was a pretty rural part of the country and there might be cities or towns around here, but she was feeling pretty leery of just being dropped off somewhere.
"Well, I want to be an official part of the crew." Her chin lifted stubbornly.
Ashur looked ready to bite back a quick 'No' to that one, but Ridiath beat him to it. "Maybe. How can you contribute? You know nothing."
"Well, I can clean and varnish and gut fish." Those dubious skills didn't seem to impress anyone so she added, "And I can kill your enemies."
That one got some raised eyebrows, but Ridiath nodded. "Yes, I saw how she fought the guards. She has experience." Whipping her head around she continued, "But will you kill when we need you to? Without question?"
"Maybe not without question, but if there's reason to, or if we're attacked, definitely." Hannah was putting something of a confident face on it. After all, she had trained as a soldier and had had to kill before. She had certainly seen enough dead bodies. Hopefully, they wouldn't ask her to prove her skills, though. She was rusty.
Ashur looked thoughtfully over at Cosag and Fis. "What do you think?"
Fis nodded, but his face reflected some doubt. Cosag snorted and re-adjusted himself on the floor where he was seated. "She'll prove herself soon enough. Especially if she has to go dig Demhlei out of the Drifalcand camp."
Ash still looked skeptical but nodded to Ridiath, carefully avoiding eye contact with Hannah. "You're responsible for her while she's off the ship. One wrong step from her and she dies with your knife in her throat."
Hannah looked affronted at this but didn't comment.