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Author Topic: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]  (Read 1616 times)

The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« on: March 19, 2018, 06:56:18 AM »
{ Summer | 846 }

The shopping district in Trost bustled with life as the summer sun shone brightly overhead. To navigate through the crowds, one had to do a sort of dance to dodge between running children, merchant carts filled to the brim with all kinds of goods, and civilians trying to push their way through. It was easy to get lost among the stalls of bright fabrics and interesting foods.

Bertholdt Hoover was sweating profusely in the heat. He wanted nothing more than to take off his uniform jacket, but it was required as he was there on Official Military Business. He and an older girl named Struna had been sent to pick up some supplies that the Training Corps needed more of, but they didn't need enough of them to request a delivery from the supply wagon. The list included a medium sack of gunpowder, five pounds of coffee, and three dozen eggs, among other small items.

Bertholdt clutched the list tightly and stuck close to his companion. Holding the list was a matter of dignity for him: his companion was clearly older than him, but he was a few inches taller (which really was to be expected). His main worry was that she saw him as some snot-nosed kid who needed to be babysat. He wasn't! Bert was a full twelve years old. He could take care of himself and he had the budding emotional trauma to prove it! And to prove it further, he held the list as well as the air of a child who was unconfidently trying to convince others of his maturity.

Or so he thought. In actuality, Bertholdt was too overwhelmed by his own feelings and the crowd of people surrounding them to do anything spectacularly mature. Proving himself mostly just consisted of running through imaginary scenarios in his head, none of which ever came true.

"Do you know where we're going?" he asked, hoping he had raised his voice loud enough to be heard over the chatter. The young cadet couldn't make heads or tails of this place. Even if Struna was as clueless as he was, she looked like she would at least know who to ask to figure things out. Bertholdt was grateful to have someone else to rely on.

Re: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2018, 10:22:48 PM »
Between the baking heat of the sun and the seemingly endless press of bodies, Struna itched to turn heel and head back to the barracks.  Surely they could live without gunpowder, without eggs… maybe not without the coffee though. 

Less reverent than Bertholdt, the lake-girl had already stripped off her military jacket and now had it slung over her shoulder, a finger hooked through the loop.  As the pair squeezed and dodged their way through the milling crowds, she scowled at those passersby who dared bump carelessly into them.  This was an awful place.  There wasn’t enough air, there wasn’t room to breathe.

Bertholdt was speaking and Struna was so caught up within herself that she almost missed his question.  The boy struck her as a quiet, gentle soul, and she wondered if it had taken considerable effort for him to raise his voice.  Impulsively grabbing his sleeve, she tugged him in the direction of a shop doorway.  There, they could have a brief moment of respite from the busy streets.  “Where we’re goin’, huh?”  Struna echoed, as though she hadn’t quite heard him the first time.  Truthfully, she was trying to shake off the vaguely panicky feeling she experienced in crowds, as well as get her bearings - but not for the reason he might suspect.

Violet eyes flicked past Bertholdt just then.  Beyond, the street opened up onto the road that ran parallel to the river, which she could just glimpse.  It was a sorry sight.  The slow-moving water carved a meandering path through the district, littered with filth and refuse.  If there were fish in there, they were likely spindly, bug-eyed creatures.

But it was water - wide, deep and cool - and here in Trost, it was all Struna had.

Besides, on a day like this, the river still managed to sparkle in the sunlight.

“Aye, sure I do,” she chirped, pulling her attention back to the boy and offering him the wicked flash of smile.  Although some years her junior, Bertholdt already surpassed Struna in height - and that gap would only grow.  “C’mon then, this way…”  She jerked her head in the direction of the river, stepping back onto the bustling street.  Perspiration shone on her skin, her shirt clingy in the heat.  Struna was glad she wasn’t carrying the list, knowing it would only grow damp in her hands.  Huffing dark hair out of her eyes, she glanced up at her companion.  Bertholdt looked like he might be sweating even more than her.  “You’ve still got the list, right?” « Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 10:25:00 PM by Struna Mayberry »

Re: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 09:06:51 PM »
He was at least glad that she knew where to go, although Struna's wicked grin seemed to indicate some kind of mischief. He brushed it off. Maybe that was just the way her face worked. Either way, Bertholdt's only choice was to follow her, and he did so quickly so that they wouldn't get separated (although if they did, he was easy to pick out from a crowd).

"Yes, I have--Oh, sorry!" Bertholdt, hyperfocused on sticking to Struna, had bumped quite violently into an older woman. The two caged hens she carried squawked angrily at him. The woman shot him a mean look and then vanished into the thickness of the crowd, gone as quickly as she'd come.

"Ah..." He stared after her a moment longer before turning his gaze back forward, face burning with summer heat and shame. They were headed towards the riverfront. It was busy, but much less compacted than the market street. Bertholdt could tell his companion was eager to go, and he shared that feeling. Without saying anything else, keeping eyes alert and a tight grip on the shopping list, he slipped through the crowd after Struna, following until they reached the river.

The coolness of the river was a welcome respite--or perhaps it just seemed cooler without a mass of bodies pressing around them, but either way it was good to be somewhere a little more open. Bertholdt breathed a sigh of relief, then swept his gaze over the area. What exactly were they doing here? It would make sense if they needed to buy some fish, but that wasn't on the list. Maybe a boat would be arriving with a shipment of gunpowder or something? Bert turned his attention to Struna, hoping for some kind of cue he could follow.

Re: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 10:49:16 PM »
The collision between cadet and crone was a moment of sheer, unexpected hilarity. Two caged hens puffed up and screeched their protest, several feathers falling loose, all while poor Bertholdt’s face was painted a more vivid shade of red.  Struna’s eyes widened in surprise and then, half a moment later, crinkled with amusement.  She laughed brightly, watching as the scowling, aged figure scuttled off into the crowd.

“You almost killed that woman!” Struna crowed in delight.  “Her bones’re halfway t’ dust already!”  The girl was laughing harder now, tickled by her own silliness.  Realising too late her amusement might be deemed unkind - a derisive, hateful sort - she made an effort to settle herself.  With a wide grin, she pushed sweat-damp hair back from her face with one hand, and sympathetically patted Bertholdt’s arm with the other.  “Not your fault, mate, she’s too old t’ see straight, and you’re built like a damn oak tree.  The look she gave you though - ”  All of a sudden, Struna’s joy was wiped away, replaced by an expression of concern.  Her pace slowed almost to a halt as she peered up at her companion, superstition burning in her blood.  “Bertholdt, she gave you the evil eye, didn’t she?  The old bitch.”

Violet eyes narrowed in suspicion, her young face crumpled into a frown as Struna peering into the press of bodies, looking for the perpetrator.  For a brief moment, the river was forgotten - and then, just as swiftly, it was remembered.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll sort you out, yeah?  Once we’ve room t’ breathe…”  Squeezing through the crowd, the spaces between people mercifully grew wider as the pair travelled closer to the river.  At last, they stood on the street that skirted its bank.  Bertholdt was gazing at her with some expectation, though Struna misinterpreted his meaning.  “Right,” she murmured, pulling a small drawstring pouch from her pocket.  With nimble and practiced fingers, she dipped inside, plucking forth a generous pinch of coarse salt, which she flicked at him with utter seriousness and sincerity.  The crystals and grains bounced harmlessly off the boy’s uniform as she circled, ensuring he had been thoroughly doused by the expensive mineral. 

“Ain’tcha lucky you got me with you?” Struna smirked, slipping the pouch away.  Salt was said to be purifying, and she was sure that any curse or nastiness the woman had marked Bertholdt with would now be nullified.  Satisfied her companion was safe from a spell of misfortune, she cast her eyes about.  Spotting a small pier a little further along, Struna nudged the towering cadet with her elbow and nodded confidently in that direction.  “There, that’s where our business is.” « Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 10:50:48 PM by Struna Mayberry »

Re: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018, 05:16:22 AM »
All Bertholdt could really do was blink in surprise. What did she just throw at him? He poked at a few grains that got caught on his shirt. They stuck to his finger. Salt? Concerned, he pressed it to his tongue, just to be sure.

"Ah... That's expensive." What kind of person could afford salt for the sole purpose of throwing it at people? Did she want it back? It didn't seem like she wanted to pick it up: if anything, the satisfied expression Struna wore indicated she had accomplished whatever her goal was.

Bertholdt's confusion only deepened when they reached the pier. He didn't see anything they needed there, but his companion was so confident... Maybe there was some kind of secret way to get things here? Maybe it was the black market?! He had heard of military corruption before, but this was ridiculous.

"Is this... The right place?" He glanced anxiously between Struna and the river.

Re: The Great High-Seas Sailing Adventure [Struna]
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2018, 10:59:05 AM »
“Aye, but a person is worth more, don’tcha think?”  Struna grinned at the observation.  Salt was expensive, but some things were well worth their price - particularly if it kept a person’s luck intact.  “Yep,” she answered Bertholdt’s cautiously-asked question breezily, with an easy confidence.  “I’ve a good feelin’ about this place, like it’s where we’re meant t’ be.”  Never mind the fact that she had actively sought a pier out, looking for somewhere - anywhere - that might act as a gateway to the river.

Struna paused then, turning to regard her companion.  She moved to place her hands on his shoulders in an almost conspiratorial fashion, peering up at him intently with her violaceous eyes, hoping that he would comply.  “I promise you we’re gonna get everythin’ we need.  Soon.  Just… not yet.  C’mon.”

Glancing about, Struna espied a man sitting on the pier, his weatherbeaten face dipped, focus trained on the sail which he was mending with stead, callused fingers.

“Hey.  How much t’ borrow one of your skiffs for a bit?”  Struna asked the question without any patter or preamble.  Time was wasting.

The dockworker regarded the girl steadily, dark eyes shifting to weigh on Bertholdt.  “Don’t normally hire them out,” he answered with a sigh that said he found the exuberance of youth wearying.  “You know how to sail?”

“Aye, I do.  I’m from the Great Lake.”  Struna forced herself to be patient, though it was difficult knowing they were so close to getting out on the water. 

“Hmm,” he hummed noncommitedly, lowering his gaze and continuing with his work, the needle rhythmically puncturing canvas.

“Ain’t nowhere for us to go either, what with the river-gates and all.  And we’re cadets, see, with the Training Corps.”  Struna pushed, tapping a forefinger against the badge of crossed swords that rested over Bertholdt’s heart.  Her comrade was still wearing his jacket, even in this stifling heat, and likely looked more innocuous than she did herself.  “You think we’d be up t’ badness?” 

“Hmm,” murmured the man again.  He paused in his work but did not look at them, clearly calculating in the beat of silence that stretched.  “Four coppers,” he offered at last.

“Two,” Struna retorted immediately.

“Four, or that skiff stays put,” came his response, sharp and unyielding.  It seemed this wasn’t the first time he had hired out his vessel.

“Fine.  Four,”  Struna grumbled, rummaging in her pockets for the money while a sense of victory burgeoned within her chest.  It was actually her money she handed over, and not coins from their allowance.  Tempting though it was to have the Training Corps fund their jaunt.  “Which skiff?”

“One on the end, with the blue belly,” he answered, busy once more with his craft.  “And you’ll pay for any damages, lass.”

“Right enough,” Struna called over her shoulder, already tugging on Bertholdt’s sleeve, encouraging him to walk with her along the jetty.  After a pause, she glanced up at him and shrugged, looking a smidge guilty.  “Sure, it’s too hot to shop right now anyway.”


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