The first meeting of Captain Ellspeth and Lord Dal, the Archmage.
★*´✫*★* Meeting a Stevedore? ★*✫*★*
Calling a halt, Ellspeth wiped the sweat out of her eyes. The workers slid beneath wagons or into the sliver of shade presented by the ship’s shadow to escape the searing mid-day sun. Silently she counted the number of barrels and crates still on deck. “We need more hands,” she declared. Desperate to get her goods undercover before the heat ruined them, Ellspeth searched the bustling docks. She focused on a man. Not because he busily shifted crates, but because he lounged against a barrel placed in the shade.
His clothes seem of good quality. Maybe he’s a local tradesman. After a second look at the well-worn loose breeches, tight vest, and leather neckband, she corrected herself. Or, the younger son of a chieftain from the Mtwan mountain region. A few quick steps took her to the loafer who watched her approach, amusement sparkling in his light brown eyes.
“You look strong. I will pay you ten coppers for the day. That is double the going rate. Payment when the Sea Falcon is unloaded.”
Accustomed to an immediate response from her crew, Ellspeth’s fists clenched at his insolent stare when he ignored her and took another bite of his meat roll. His gaze holding hers, he raised his earthen mug in salute and asked. “Do you even have ten coppers?”
Several long swallows later, he clanked the drained mug down on the barrelhead. The slowness with which he wrapped the remnants of his meal in a small square of white cloth and wiped the foam from his lips with the back of his hand frustrated Ellspeth even more. Slipping the bundle into a small pouch hanging from his belt, he turned the movement into a courtly bow.
His cool tones were at odds with the smile that never left his eyes. “Lead on. I’ll give you an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages.”
Ellspeth paired herself with him as they worked to unload the ship. There was something different about this dockhand. But what? The heavy bolts of Nerevian silk seemed much lighter whenever he held the other end. She felt her face warm at the image of his hands unbinding her hair.