The main dining hall of the Lightfoot residence is once more filled with Lapi of various ages and sizes, along with the usual chaos that comes along with it. Luckily, only a few of the children have tried to engage in ballistic porridge combat, so bystanders are still fairly safe. When Layth and Tasha finally return, looking a bit disheveled, they are greeted by several smirks and raised eyebrows from the adults. Aisha in particular looks confused about how she should respond. The others just stare at the late arrivals expectantly.
"She wished to see the Gloved Fist guards training arena down off Dream Street," Layth comments quietly, then moves over to clear a spot near Aisha and sit down. "Pardon," he tells repeatedly to children as he moves them. "One of your children was supposed to tell you."
"Yeah, we heard," Aaron says, looking the two over. "It looks like you did a bit more than just sightseeing though."
"I'm back don' mine the bruise, won' be a shiner. Won' me a tiger," hollers Tasha, waving. She leaves Layth's side and elbows in to take a seat at the table. "I'm famished, I am. Fightin' works up a hunger. Comin' through."
"Certain issues required addressing while there, yes," Layth comments with a short shrug. "A thousand apologies for being late."
Several coneys scramble to grab raisin-bread and other pastries or fruit they can away from Tasha's immediate area.
Aisha asks, "Where you hurt, Layth? What is this 'Gloved Fist' establishment?"
"A few scratches, some punctures, and a few bruises, nothing serious, Lady Aisha" Layth answers as he gets some of the breads for breakfast. "It's a place where people train to fight and where they hold contests between individuals."
Tasha fights back, grabbing several raisin-bread made items, a pastry, and in one case a coney that grabbed what she was aiming for seconds earlier. "Don' think you'll fit on me plate," she jests probably.
"What was that about a tiger?" Aaron suddenly asks, having finally processed what Tasha said.
"I won' a tiger. 'E said if 'e won 'e won me, an' if I won' I won' 'im an' I won. He's righ' sexy, too, all muscle an' fire," the hybrid woman answers. Then she crams a roll in her muzzle and grins at a nearby coney. "Kicked 'm in the 'ead."
"He will likely be trouble. And I should note you only won him for a week," Layth points out, then takes a bite from a roll.
The coney retreats behind a larger one, while Aaron asks, "Err, you mean you have a slave now?"
"Wrut?" Tasha swallows. "No, no' a slave as such. 'E's jus' on for a tenner. 'E can leave … " she taps her chin with a finger as she looks up and thinks, " … in ten days, where ever I am a' the time."
"We will have arrived in Olympia by then," Calligenia notes. "Make sure he can cover his travel expenses."
"Speaking of travel expenses, how am I going to afford the travel? I have no significant money to speak of," Layth notes.
"You go' it," Tasha agrees. "'E can cover carryin' my things, too, 'e can. Makes 'im flex more." She winks.
A few of Alexander's younger wives nod at this bit of wisdom.
"Where is he now?" Aaron asks next.
"Unconscious," the Vartan woman replies distractedly between bites.
"But at least not in a dress," Layth whispers towards Tasha. He actually smiles briefly, then resumes eating.
Tasha guffaws at that, nearly showering a nearby coney with breadcrumbs. "I 'ope no', won' do a thing for 'im," she whispers back once she stops choking.
"I hope this doesn't become a habit," Aaron says. "It's bad enough when women come back with piles of clothing from shopping… " he starts to say, until the does at the table stare him into silence.
"Speaking of clothes," Aisha pipes in, "what should I pack for the journey?"
"Hmm, a man collection," Tasha ponders aloud. She looks at Aaron, then past him to the harem of does, then "hmmmms" again.
"Piles of clothing is only a problem if they want you to help model it," Layth points our to Aaron.
Calligenia says, "I will cover the costs of travel for you and Layth, Aisha. Pack warm clothing for the airship voyage, but once we arrive you'll be provided with appropriate dress."
Aisha actually seems a bit put off by the 'appropriate dress' comment, being proud of her fashion sense, but doesn't argue about it.
"What is appropriate dress in Olympia currently?" Layth inquires and then looks for a glass to fill with some water.
Aaron nudges a carafe full of water (and a few floating fruit slices) towards the other buck. "What we're wearing is fine for Olympia, pretty much. They're used to foreigners."
As Layth fills his glass, he notices Aisha's reaction from the comment and he whispers to her, "Do not fret, Lady Aisha. Your beauty will shine regardless of the trappings which cover it… "
Meanwhile, Tasha demolishes a poor muffin before drowning its remains with a gulp of spiced drink.
Layth then nods to Aaron. "Ah, well, good. I lack much in the way of clothing changes, to be honest," the buck admits. "So, once we get to Olympia, I assume we are to wait for Lady Circerae to discuss with her clan the trade situation. Then do we leave from there to another location?"
"I suppose I can just pick up my regular airship bag then," Aisha says, making it sound as if she travels by airship all the time instead of having done so exactly twice; once to Rephidim, then once back to Abu Dhabi.
"Don' bring too much, no' all tha' much room in the Rake's cabin's by mos' people's reckonin'. May 'ave to share a cabin or sleep on deck," Tasha advises.
"Ah, speaking of which, where will I room?" Layth asks.
"Well, we have a small cabin, but that will be for Calli and Aisha," Aaron says. "There's no cargo though, so there will be some room available. Does the crew share a single bunkroom, Tasha?"
"And, will I have time to visit someone before we leave?" Layth asks next. "I need to let the honorable Zafir know I will be gone for a while and not to worry."
Tasha eyes Layth consideringly. "'Pends on your mistress, I suppose. If Aisha wan's you in 'ere room, tha's tha'. If no', maybe you can sleep in a corner somewhere below deck, or up on the deck wit' Shimar." She pauses to listen to Aaron's take, then nods slowly. "Hrr, righ'. No cargo, no' use to tha'. Aye, you coul' use the cargo 'old I 'spose. May pu' me kitty down there, I mi'."
Aaron turns to one of his sisters-in-law, who replies, "The captain sent back a reply stating that the Rake will be ready to launch by evening."
"That should leave plenty of time," Aisha says to Layth.
"Time enough as long as the jewel of Abu Dhabi, Aisha, will allow me leave for an hour or so," Layth notes and takes another drink. He then nods his head to her. He then looks to Tasha and says, "I am not Lady Aisha's slave, Lady Tasha, just her bodyguard."
"I got'cha," says Tasha.
"Splendid," Alexander says, speaking up finally. "That will also give the two of you early rising warriors a chance to clean up."
Tasha looks down. She just has a little blood on her. "I 'supose I coul' use a bath. Won' 'ave another chance until we reach Olympia, I won'," she agrees.
"I would also like to be sure that Lady Circerae and Aaron are also welcome to ask me for anything during the voyage. I like to be useful," Layth adds, then nods to Alexander. "Oh … may the Gods forgive this pitiful Lapi, I have sullied your table." He immediately sets down his glass and gets up from the table.
"No rush," Alexander says, waving a hand. "You are no less presentable than any of my own children, I dare say. Please, finish your breakfast."
Layth still looks rather ashamed by his mistake as he sits back down. He resumes eating and says little else for now.
Tasha, on the other hand, doesn't even look ashamed at having arrived at the breakfast table a mess. She may not even be aware of the faux paw, for she compounds it by reducing food to scattered particles.
A nozzle-shaped head pokes up over the edge of the table next to Tasha, and starts to vacuum up the crumbs off of the table and in the hybrid's own fur.
Tasha's ears shoot up, and her brow raises, at the sight of the Hooka. Once he begins hoovering crumbs up her ears slowly go back to normal. "Well," she says with a shrug, "I ge' i' is pretty useful." She resumes eating.
"I suppose you can have your tiger do that chore from now on," Aaron quips.
"Don't give her ideas," Layth whispers.
Tasha just grins.
Layth looks over to Tasha. "Milady, I do recommend you be very careful with him. You got in that lucky shot. You may not have such a good second shot, and you'll be on an airship with him," he warns.
"I just hope he isn't a yowler," Aaron mutters, in Lapi.
"He was quite vocal, so I suspect he is," Layth replies.
The Vartan woman raises a brow, then shrugs again as she explains, "If 'e tries somethin' funny, 'e's goin' to ge' dropped off. The ship, tha' is. Cap'n Eyeshine may be a big bag o' mean, bu' he won' stan' for someone attackin' 'is crew or interferin' wit' 'is business." Then she reaches over and pats Layth's head, or else whatever she can reach. "I'm no' goin' to be fightin' 'im every time 'e asks. I go' work to do once we're unnerway."
"Good, that will give me time to offer you some pointers on movement," Layth replies to Tasha, looking a bit nonplussed on getting patted. "You have enough skill, but you could do with better dodging. If he had hit you full on, you would have been down."
"I shore woul' 'ave been. 'E's all muscle." Tasha winks at the younger does, then smiles toothily at Layth. "Course, 'e coul' use learin' a dodge too, no' li' I'm goin' to teach 'em. Bu' 'avin' 'im aroun' keeps me on me toes."
"If I 'ad toes, tha' is. S'what I get for bein' aroun' so many Lapi," Tasha adds.
Aaron perks his ears at this, and smiles a bit. If Tasha is occupied, he reasons, she won't be after Calli so much.
"Nothing wrong with many Lapi," Layth notes as he finishes up the food he had.
Aisha looks slightly uncomfortable with all the talk of training and fighting, and asks Layth, "You aren't going to make me practice any of this, are you?"
"You may want to," Layth notes to Aisha and pats her hand lightly. "Women are warriors where we go."
"I'll show you 'ow to figh', shiny," Tasha offers to Aisha.
Aisha looks to Calli, and asks if that means she'll be expected to fight, to which the Amazonian doe shakes her head. "Not all women are warriors."
"You said you don' brawl much, Calli? Is i' all swords an' sorceries wit' you sort, or some such else," asks Tasha.
"Hydron does not have official warriors," Calligenia says. "We own several Gladiators, but have never had to go into combat against another Clan. All Warriors train to kill, of course. It is a terrible dishonor to be captured alive."
"No one will make you learn, Lady Aisha. The offer just stands if you wish it. With me around, though, you should be safe enough," Layth says with a smile.
"Thank you, Layth," Aisha says, looking relieved. "That is exactly what I wanted to hear."
"And if I die, I am certain Lady Circerae and Master Aaron Lightfoot could protect you," Layth adds.
"Soun's ri' bloody if you ask me," comments Tasha as she spears a piece of fruit with a fork, "li' a war tha' doesn' stop. I li' to figh', bu' I'm no' so fon' of killin' if i' can be 'elped. No' tha' it can, much, I 'spose."
Aisha's face freezes at the mention of Layth dying to protect her, and Calligenia says, "Only Gladiators fight for 'sport', and some of their games are non-lethal."
Tasha nods to Calli. "Better, I 'spose."
"That is the purpose of a bodyguard," Layth tells Aisha. He can't help himself and starts cleaning up the table around him.
"Layth's one grim Lapi, if you ask me. 'E needs to ge' drun' an' find 'imself a goo' woman or two, 'e does," Tasha remarks, sounding matter-of-fact.
"I'm practical, not grim, Lady Tasha," Layth remarks, smiling while he organizes things.
"Practically grim," Tasha corrects.
After breakfast, people begin to split up to handle their respective preparations. Calligenia and Aaron go to meet with Sylvester Al-Hasbeen to collect his first payment to the Amazonian (which is to be used to finance the rest of the journey, conveniently). Layth escorts Aisha back to her home, and takes some time to go have lunch with his former master while the doe makes ready to travel. Tasha takes her time cleaning up, then goes back to Dream Street to pick up Shimar and learn that Gastone had already sent her painting on to the Rake, although she does get to see a copy the poodle made, which he assures her does not match the quality of the original.
Layth and Aisha arrive aboard the Rake just behind Tasha, and in time to hear the 'negotiations' going on with the captain about her bringing on yet another boyfriend. "You let me hang shiny painting in cabin," Eyeshine scrawks, "and I let you keep tiger in hold and only charge 'live cargo' rate, genoh?"
"I'm no' payin' for 'im," Tasha yells at the captain. "'E los', 'e ought an' pay for 'imself. 'Sides, 'e can move things an' 'e's … big an' such." Then she waves a finger at the larger Vartan. "An' tha's my paintin'!"
Layth insisted on carrying all of Aisha's bags, as well as his small one. When he hears the negotiation, the buck peers around for the tiger. When he spots him, he taps Aisha's shoulder, then points to the six-plus foot tall and wide tiger. "Tasha's new boy toy," he informs Aisha. The tiger is leaning against the railing and seems to be plotting something.
"You gonna hang it in the bunk room?" Eyeshine retorts. "Bad light in there, no see shiny glass in paint."
The tiger smirks and waves to Layth. "Ah, the Lapi … Golden-Mane he called you? Well, you should know Jannir is looking for you. He's not happy about the dress," he comments. The tiger then slaps Tasha's butt loudly, then squeezes, saying, "What do you need a painting for, hmm? I'll make that painting appear tame."
Tasha rubs her head at that. "Tha's a good poin', bu' I'm no' sure I wan' … " the woman realizes the captain has probably had all the chance to ogle her in the eight-plus years she's been on board and decides not to argue that point, " … wan' you ruinin' it." She jumps slightly when spanked, intent as she was on her argument. Then she pats the hand that grabs her. "Fine, then. Paintin', an' no charge."
Eyeshine thinks this over, and finally notices the two new Lapis. "Okay, passage one-way, he get back on his own," he agrees. "An' you can come look at painting any time, put it up next to one of you mom. These the last ones?" he asks, gesturing to Layth and Aisha.
"I thin' so," Tasha answers, trying not to think of what sort of painting her mom might have in the captain's room. "Is Calli 'ere?"
"Yah, pushy bunny in cabin, grouchy one looking for bunk space," the Vartan answers.
Layth carries Aisha's belongings onto the deck. "Where shall I put Lady Aisha's things?" he asks.
"Forget the bunnies," Shimar hisses in Tasha's ear. "When you go cat, you never go back." He then licks along her ear ridge and then sets his hands on his hips and considers the captain. "Like to wager?" he asks him.
"All righ' then, I guess tha's i'," Tasha says with a nod. She then turns to Layth and points towards a door. "Go on down tha' way, your cabin'll be near Calli's. When you're done there you can feel free to walk aroun' the ship, jus' stay out of the cap'n's, crew, storage, an' such." Absently, she pats Shimar's bum. "'E's a feisty one."
"V.I.P. cabin," Eyeshine tells Layth. "Down hatch, forward past mess and bunks, front of hull." Looking back to the tiger, the Vartan says, "Airship captains no gamble. Bad luck."
"You should reconsider that. How much do you want for her?" Shimar asks the captain and motions toward Tasha. "She's your demon, right?"
Tasha laughs at that. "E's almos' me pop," she remarks, before laughing more.
"Demon? No," Eyeshine says. "Devil, maybe. She like my daughter, no for sale."
Layth bows slightly and carries Aisha's belongings where directed.
"How about lease, then?" Shimar asks, grinning and not about to give up that quickly.
"I'll lease you, kitty, kitty," Tasha teases Shimar. "Now. 'ow much can you lif'?"
"Three hundred plus, easy," Shimar remarks and flexes in demonstration.
"You work out yourselves," Eyeshine says to Tasha and Shimar. "Gots ship to launch." With that, the bird walks off and starts yelling orders.
"Good! You can 'elp move some supplies while we're in fligh'." Tasha smirks.
"Certainly," Shimar remarks, then grabs her butt again. "It'll just give you an idea how I'll move you later, demon," he adds with a smirk. The feline then heads off to speak with the deck crew on what needs to be done.
"Speakin' o' which, I nee' to ge' to me duty," Tasha tells Shimar. She holds her ground and grins when he grabs her again, then swats his butt as he walks off. Passing the crew, then Layth and Calli, Tasha seems to be heading for the bow.
Tasha abandons the ground in favor of flying up to her post, which serves the purpose of letting her dodge ladders and stray rope. Once she reaches the driver's position she lands and unhitches her whip. "Driver ready, cap'n," she yells back.
"Cast off mooring!" the captain bellows, his voice carrying easily below decks (at least to Lapi ears). "Goose the birds, Tash!"
"All righ' you lazeabouts, time to ge' up," says Tasha. She uncoils her whip and rears it back, yelling in a squawky language that can only be Vartan, "Hvark! Kaw-rawrk ka!"
The great winged pteras that power the ship take flight from their perch, following Tasha's commands. Slowly ascending already, the deck suddenly lurches as it begins to move forward under the pteras power.
Layth knocks politely on the cabin door and asks, "Lady Circerae, may I enter?"
The door opens, and Calli smiles. The cabin isn't much, but does have two portholes. It seems more likely to be used as a storage space when the Rake isn't carrying passengers.
Layth dips his head politely to Calli. "Good to see you again, milady," he says and carries Aisha's items in. He sets them in a corner, arranging them neatly. "I hope you do feel better this day. I must admit you looked rather weary last eve."
"I am glad that I do not need to make any decisions from this point on," Calli says, and gives Aisha a quick hug in greeting. "Xavier is… off somewhere. Looking for sleeping space so Aisha does not have to deal with him in here."
"And space for me as well, I believe," Layth notes and smiles in greeting to Aisha. "Is there anything I can do for either of you before or while we are taking off?"
Aisha looks past the cabin door, down the central gangway, and whispers to Layth, "Do you think we'll be safe in here from the crew?"
Layth considers the question, then goes to examine the door. "Would you feel more comfortable if I slept outside your door?" he asks as he examines the door.
"That won't be necessary," Calli answers, before Aisha can really decide, and puts a hand on the (slightly) younger doe's shoulder. "Nobody will harass us, Aisha."
Layth dips his head. "As you like. If you change your mind, just tell me," Layth says. "Should I leave you two alone now?"
"If you want to go find Aaron, that's fine," Aisha says. "This ship is very noisy." Outside, Pteras shriek and complain, punctuating the comment.
"Ah, right," Layth replies and collects his small bag, feeling a bit down at being so quickly dismissed. He bows, then slips out the door, closing it behind him. The Lapi then heads for the cargo hold, which he heard mentioned earlier.
The cargo hold isn't quite unoccupied, as a few of the crew are still securing barrels of water even as the ship lurches into the sky. "'Ey, you shouldn'a be down here," a Skreek tells the Lapi. "Not safe yet."
"I'm looking for Master Aaron Lightfoot," Layth tells them. "Have you seen him? And, do you need help?"
"Doin' just fine here," the Skreek replies. "Saw the other buck go up top a while back."
Layth bows and exits the hold, heading for the deck. He peers around, looking for Aaron.
Tasha definitely hasn't found Aaron. She seems busy directing the ship's takeoff it seems she wasn't kidding about needing a whip to drive an airship.
There's plenty of activity on deck and in the rigging, but it's easy to spot the one person that isn't moving. Aaron is standing near the rear cabin, shifting easily to stay upright while the deck rocks. He waves to Layth.
Layth makes his way over to Aaron. "Ladies Aisha and Circerae are in their cabin. Were you able to find us accommodations?" he asks when he gets close. The rocking of the ship doesn't seem to bother Layth too much either, thanks to having had significant training in balance and movement.
Aaron nods, and gestures over his shoulder with a thumb. "We're staying with the captain. Just… ah… don't comment on any paintings in his cabin. Especially not any that depict people you might think you recognize."
"I already heard he has a painting in it that relates to Tasha," Layth notes and shakes his head. He peers around the deck and comments, "I never thought I would be doing this."
"Which 'this'?" Aaron asks. "I hadn't planned on traveling either, but… I promised to look after Calli."
Layth shrugs and says, "Going home, basically. I'm not sure if Lady Circerae told you or not."
The airship tilts as it swings low over the suburbs of Abu Dabi, Tasha yelling commands to direct the turn. Down below the sinister shadow of the Rake flits over familiar streets as the airship aligns itself.
Aaron shakes his head. "I suppose I can guess, from looking at you though. Pure blood, or half-breed?" he asks.
"Pure. Father was from the Snowshoe clans of the mountains. Mother was from what I think was called a barbarian tribe, they called themselves White-Spire. I was abandoned when I was five. Picked up, lived with Master Zafir ever since," Layth explains and looks out into the horizon. "My name was Chrysanthos back then. Haven't used it in a long time."
"Nice name," Aaron says. "Very pretty. I promise never to use it," the buck says. "Figured you had some Valkyrian in you, since you aren't turning green already. Don't feel bad about it if the girls asked you to leave during takeoff. They're afraid of heights."
"Ah, yes, heights don't bother me. I played on clifftops. As for my name, use it or not if you wish. I'm not sure it matters," Layth says then, then sighs softly. "Where I go now, I will again be a slave."
"Only if some clan claims you," Aaron notes. "You'll wear either Hydron's or Kerebos' emblem, so you should be safe enough."
A few more orders are shouted by the driver and the airship levels out. The only severe movement now is the suddenly lurching as the ship hits turbulence during its ascent. If a passenger were to look down, they'd see the airy desert of the Himaat shrink away.
"Don't know those clans, I must admit. My mother's was … harsh. I do not have very good memories of it," Layth notes, then smiles to Aaron. "But really, whatever comes, comes. Life is mostly how you deal with what happens to you."
"Away from the city now, should be smoother flying," Aaron says happily. "Give the girls another ten minutes, and they should be okay to see us again. And don't worry too much, Dianus Clans aren't like the nomads and raiders. Except for the constant fighting and such… and… okay, they are a bit like them, just with nicer houses and religion."
"My mother's raided all the time. Constant fighting," Layth says, looking up. "I can thank her for at least my size and strength, I guess. I've occasionally wondered what happened to them, but … they abandoned me so I'm not exactly motivated to find out. That sounds so horrible, but."
Now that she doesn't have to actually do more than occasionally crack her whip and yell a brief command, Tasha leans against the railing and watches the world trail by. "I love to fly," she tells no one in particular.
"Don't know much about the border tribes, to be honest," Aaron says. "Other than 'avoid them at all costs' and that they like to raid caravans. Seen Tasha's tiger yet?"
"Yes. Met him the other day in the arena. Large fellow," Layth notes and points towards the front of the ship where the tiger is moving things and generally being a show off. He then grins slightly at Aaron and asks, "Does that mean you should avoid me, then? But seriously, that is good advice. They will slaughter caravans and such for supplies."
"Eh, I'm glad he'll be sleeping in the hold, I can smell his musk from here," Aaron says after glancing at the tiger. "I may not be able to keep Tasha from coming with us… and frankly, I think she'd be useful… but that guy would be turned into a rug in no time. He stays in Parthos or goes home, I think."
Oblivious to people talking about her, Tasha continues to direct the ship. Driving an airship must be like being in the military hours of boredom followed by punctuated by moments of frenzied activity and stark terror.
"Yes. I think it's dangerous to have him here. He's too wild for his own good. But then most of the tigers were. I had to teach one a lesson too," Layth admits and sighs.
"I must admit I've lost some skill though; he took longer to take down than he should have," Layth adds.
The boredom apparently catching up with her, Tasha stomps a hoof and yells, "'Ey Calli, you done barfin' yet?"
"I think Tasha will be okay, because she'll look like a monster," Aaron notes. "Ever since they took Dianus, the Clans have been taught that Amazonia is a paradise and the rest of the world is full of demons, monsters and barbarians. I'd really prefer that they keep thinking that." After Tasha's bellow, he smiles. "Yeah, she'll be perfect… "
"Heh, yes, I could see that," Layth says, grinning. "I just hope I'll be unnoticed. This is going o be strange to me, familiar and not at the same time. How long do we have to be there?"
Aaron shrugs. "However long it takes for Calli to get another shipment of wool together. And the one she lost was huge. It could be awhile."
Layth cringes at that. "What am I going to do there?" he asks.
A pair of black-tipped chocolate bunny ears emerge from the hatchway, and swivel about until they've locked in on Tasha's voice.
Tasha stomps a few more times until the ears pop out. "Wan' an' join me up 'ere? It isn't as excitin' as it seems, an' I'm a bi' bored," the Vartan yells at the ears.
"Well… you could practice with the Guardians until you're back up to your old level of expertise," Aaron suggests. "But most likely, you'll be going sightseeing with Aisha."
"A thousand pardons, but a lady Tasha is not. She needs to learn manners." Layth observes. He then nods to Aaron and agrees, "Most likely, yes. I am effectively her Guardian."
Calligenia emerges fully onto the deck, carrying a bucket. She sniffs a bit disdainfully at the scent of tiger, then reaches into the bucket and pulls out a scrap of wet rag wadded up into a ball. "Bored, you say?" she asks, then throws the ball at Tasha.
Not expecting an attack, and also partially watching the progress of the pteras, Tasha can't manage a dodge and gets beaned by the rag. Her wings flap and she makes a distinctly surprised, "Agh!"
Calli looks pleased with herself. Despite her expertise with a dagger, she had been told that she 'throws like a girl' on Rephidim when it came to non-edged projectiles.
After recovering (and almost dropping her whip off the edge of the ship), Tasha picks up the ball and hurls it back at Calli!
"Perhaps I should go check on Aisha now," Layth comments, watching the hatch for the other Lapi. "And by the way, you said you promised to look after Lady Circerae … are you her Guardian, then?"
Dodging, now that's something Calli knows. She ducks and tries to catch the ball in the bucket, but it glances off and hits Aaron instead. "Ugh!" the buck says, then says to Layth, "Not so much a Guardian as… a tutor. I'm supposed to keep her out of trouble or marry her off to someone important."
"And take her abuse, I suppose," Layth observes. "Find any marriage candidates for her?"
"Dagh's beard," Tasha curses after missing. Taking her frustration out on something she can hit, the air, she cracks her whip to align a wayward ptera.
"Dagh no," Aaron says, wiping his cheek with a handkerchief. "I haven't even tried to look."
"Like her yourself, then?" Layth asks, grinning slightly and even elbows Aaron gently.
"Her mother wanted her to marry me before she left Amazonia the first time," Aaron says, frowning. "My mother wanted it too. Barely got out of it by promising to teach her about doing business and trade in Rephidim… "
"Please forgive my asking, but why would you want to get out of it?" Layth inquires. "She's beautiful, strong, and even seems to have a somewhat gentle side."
"Because I don't want my children raised Amazonian," Aaron says plainly. "Plus… uh… I have my heart set on someone closer to my own age already."
"All's clear, weather fine," Tasha reports from her position. "'Ave we reached altitude, Cap'n?" Although a decent flier, Tasha doesn't have the aeronautical training, or the captain's trust to handle the Chronotopian altitude devices, to determine how high up the ship is.
"Ah, well, I can understand that, really. I'm not sure I would want any children of mine raised that way, either. Not that I ever expect to ever be married or have any," Layth notes, then calls out to Calli, "Is Lady Aisha okay?"
Eyeshine seems to examine the horizon, then says, "Aye, we're at cruising altitude. No need to go higher for this run."
"Levelin' 'er off," Tasha replies, followed by a shout of pteras commands in Vartan. The ship jostles slightly as the pteras cease to ascend and then it's smooth sailing once again.
Calligenia straightens up and puts on her mask of maturity again before replying, "She is quite fine, and just wanted to lay down for a little while to get used to the colder air." She comes closer, and asks, "Have you two made sleeping arrangements?"
"'Ey cap'n," Tasha yells back after she's done adjusting course, "when're you goin' to teach me 'ow you do tha'?"
"When you lose an eye an' become more sensitive to air pressure changes," the captain snaps.
"We're sleeping in the captain's cabin with him." Layth explains. "Aaron arranged it."
Aaron adds, "He's got extra hammocks."
"Why do you always tell me tha'? I swear you're 'idin' captainin' secrets from me! 'Fraid I'll steal the Rake, I be'," Tasha complains back at the captain. For the most part the crew ignores this argument likely they've heard it a thousand times before.
"Very well," Calli says. "What is a hammock though?"
"SCRAWK Maybe when I retire and marry your mother," Eyeshine replies, as always.
"A stretched, swinging, net made into a bed," Layth tries to explain. "Hard to get into, easy to fall out of."
As Calli's ears begin to droop, Aaron adds in, "They're just for one person at a time. Try not to think about it."
"Do I ge' to call you da' then? Maybe "father deares'"? Daddy, or … " Tasha scoots a little farther forward, perhaps hoping to avoid being struck by anything thrown by the captain.
"Think about what?" Layth asks Aaron. "Are you okay, Lady Circerae?"
"You call me CAPTAIN!" Eyeshine retorts among snickers from the crew.
"I am fine, thank you," Calli says, regaining her composure. "I will go see to Aisha now, come by when you can," she says, and heads for the hatch, leaving the bucket at Aaron's feet.
"Yessir cap'n sir," Tasha replies, turning to give an elaborate and rather silly salute rather as if she stole it from an overzealous Galllee airship cadet.
Layth considers something, then asks Aaron, "Forgive my asking, but, does she wish to sleep with you?"
"Sleeping alone is a punishment in Dianus," Aaron explains to Layth. "Families, friends and playmates usually all sleep together in one giant bed."
Layth ahs. "I'm used to sleeping alone. I never really think about it," he says, then looks at the hatch. "Want to go down to them or would you rather stay up here?"
"I'll stay up here for a bit longer, and keep an eye on Tasha," Aaron says, grinning. "She's very entertaining."
"Ah. Well, remember she has her tiger," Layth notes then heads through the hatch. He grins and shakes his head as he makes his way back to the cabin and knocks.
Calli opens the door again, and Layth can see Aisha behind her putting on a second layer of clothing over her Ha'clohi for warmth. The chilled air this high up doesn't bother the Amazonians at all, especially not Layth with his thick fur.
"Feeling better, Lady Aisha?" Layth inquires as he comes into the room and bows to the two. He then goes over to Aisha and tries to see if he can be any help while she puts on more clothing.
"I'm fine!" Aisha insists, sitting back down on the bunk and hugging herself. "This ship is just a bit draftier than I'm used to is all," she complains, her ears looking oddly exposed without all their chains and clips.
Layth sits down behind Aisha. "Relax," he says, then slips his arms around her and draws her back against his body to try and help warm her. "Let me know if this helps at all."
Golden ears droop down, and Aisha says, "Yes, it helps," very quietly, as if afraid someone might overhear. Calli sits down next to Layth to get some warmth as well.
"'Ow abou' firs' mate, then? I'm younger, an' I go' more talen' in me little finger an'" Tasha then notices the first mate had been kneeling behind a barrel securing a line and quickly switches gears, saying " … I'm jus' kiddin'! Yer a grea' firs' mate. Rrr," she glances fore, "all clear, steady as she goes."
"Gots to get a better drover to replace you firsts, Tash," Eyeshine says. "You wouldn't like the position anyway, officers can't frat… freight-nose… arrr… can't be beddin' down the crewmen."
"I don' do tha'," Tasha insists. "Jus' tha' once! An' … tha' other once." She lifts her free hand and begins counting, then frowns. "An' a few other onces. No' on purpose. Usually. Jus' 'ad too much, an' all." She suddenly looks up and glares at anyone who's snickering, then insists, "An' no one can replace my drivin' skill!"
Tasha's either immune to or unfazed by the cold air, as she has wings and training to give her resistance. Most of the rest of the crew are likewise unaffected.
"I'll stay as long as you need, then," Layth says quietly. He lifts one of his arms so Calli can lean in too if she wants and he'll put that one around her. "I was mountain born, so these heights and temperatures don't bother me," he explains.
"I'm not a little girl that needs to be coddled," Aisha points out, perhaps unnecessarily. "I'm just a little cold is all. That's what you should tell Aaron if he asks."
"I never said you were, or you needed to be. It's my duty to help you in any way I can, is all," Layth explains. "We do care about you, Lady Aisha. That doesn't make you weak."
Tasha ought to be cold, for all she wears. "'Ey, I thin' those are sleds," she remarks as she leans over the rail to look down.
Aaron goes to the railing to look down, spotting the sand triremes far below. "Nohbakim," he comments. "Looks like we've got the wind with us."
The tiger is continuing to show off on deck. He has his shirt off and is moving boxes unnecessarily now. The cold makes him look all the more defined, really.
"Course we do," Tasha tells Aaron, as if she could control the wind as well. "An' look a' me tiger. See? A real looker, 'e is."
"He'd make a fine rug, yes," Aaron says, quietly enough for Tasha to hear and hopefully not the tiger.
Aisha sniffs, and says, "I know that." The smells of cooking begin to seep though the door, as the only Lapi crewman on the Rake starts preparing dinner.
Layth sniffs the air, nose wiggling. "Hmm, I could offer to help cook. I know how to do a few things," he notes, but makes no move to release Aisha from the hug. "I'll see about finding you an extra blanket before nightfall. You can even have mine. I won't need it."
"Thank you, Layth," Aisha says. "Especially for coming along. I know you didn't want to."
"Your safety is more important. I owe it to your family," Layth replies and hugs her a bit more. "Perhaps it'll be better than my memory serves, even if I have to be a slave there."
"I won't let you be mistreated," Aisha promises.
Tasha guffaws, then says, "Aye, I plan on usin' 'im to keep me warm a' ni'."
"I'll remember to wear earplugs then," Aaron tells Tasha.
"We've go' some wax candles tha' migh' fit," Tasha offers to Aaron in a mock-helpful voice.
"Thanks, but I have my own," Aaron says with a grin, and pats Tasha on the back (well above her tail) before heading towards the hatchway. "I'm going to go bribe the cook now, I think, for some of the better veggies. Seeya later, Tasha."
"'Ave a goo' one, Aaron," Tasha tells the Lapi, waving to him. "Speakin' of a goo' one, I'm feelin' the win' pick up. If you don' like i', it's goin' to ge' worse up 'ere soon. You Lapi folk mi' wan' an head insi'."
"Thank you," Layth says in a whisper. He considers something, then just pulls the two does close and says, "I'll stay with you two until dinner, then groom you after, or perhaps music. Master Lightfoot had mentioned he wished to hear some. I can't promise to be great, but I think I do okay."