Hello everyone, the is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from LadyAijou, entitled “Journeys of Aijou Sekishin” This reading also features the voice of Lady Adnor. Background music “Long Distance Breakup” and “One More Day”, by Smartsound.
“Long Distance Breakup”
On the deck of the storm-battered Wayfarer, a figure sat hunched against the rail, her silver-white hair matted from the spray of the ocean. The vessel’s owners rushed to and fro, ignoring her as the watch changed again. Wrapping her dark cloak about her more tightly, she gazed at the full moon rising above the horizon. Aijou could not remember now how long ago she had boarded the Wayfarer, having asked the captain to grant her passage to wherever he was bound. She cared only to be away from her homeland, and the painful memories which seemed as though they would never fade. Her very name meant “love,” and it was that which she most desperately wanted. She had been convinced she had found it once, but as the years passed she realized that it was little more than a stranger she was bound to in marriage. That she had divorced him was a scandal, something not done among her people, but she couldn’t remain his prisoner any longer. In the cover of darkness she had fled, making her way to the docks. She used her only funds for passage to remove herself far from those who openly scorned her now.
Shaking her head to drive away the memories, Aijou rose to her feet, reaching down to retrieve her only companion on board the ship: a lethal 2-handed sword which she handled better than most would expect. It was certainly an unusual choice for a lady, but it mattered little to her. The weight of the weapon felt good in her hands, and with it she felt safe. She staggered into the rail as a heavy swell rocked the ship, but was quick to steady herself. Another storm was coming.
“How long till we sight land?” She questioned the ship’s first mate.
“A day, maybe two, m’lady.” He answered, deftly handling the wheel in spite of the increasing ferocity of the winds that now buffetted Wayfarer and all aboard her.
“Where will we be docking? Please tell me it’s somewhere with a good inn, and plenty to eat.” She favored him with a rare smile as she spoke.
“Aye, m’lady, Port Phoenix is prosperous enough, and the Baron is an honest fellow. Ye should do well enough for yourself there I’d wager.”
Aijou nodded to acknowledge his words, and made her way back to the ladder leading below deck. It would be safer to ride out the storm in her own bunk. Rest eluded her as lightning split the night sky, giving way to the deep rumble of thunder. She shivered in the darkness. Storms had always upset her even on land. Eventually she slept, dreaming of starting a new life in a land where nobody knew her name.
“One More Day”
Dawn broke clear after the night’s storms, and Aijou gathered her few belongings. Her sword was sheathed on her back, and her few clothes and blanket made a light bundle. Overhead she could hear the crew making preparations to dock the ship in the harbor at Port Phoenix. Climbing the ladder, she stepped up on deck, and caught her first sight of the place she would now call home. It was beautiful, and she couldn’t help but stare. A deck hand bumping into her shook her back to the present, and she watched as the men secured the vessel and began to unload wares to trade with the town. The captain was finishing transactions with 2 men standing at the end of the dock. One was clearly the Baron, his stately appearance easily marked him out. The other she could not identify, but his presence too seemed to command respect. Knowing she needed to secure a living, her first steps would be to introduce herself, and see if her skills could be of any use. Aijou wove her way through the crowd, coming to stand near the two men.
“Pardon me, m’lord, are you Baron Phoenixfyre?” She asked.
“The one and only!” He quipped brightly, chuckling at her. “Something I can do for you, miss?”
“Well, now that you mention it, I have nothing to live on, and I’ll be in need of work. I had a bit of experience with the town gazette back home, if you’ve need of an editor or a newshound.” She returned his smile.
“I’ll admit I’ve never had someone wander off a ship and ask me for a job, but I like your spirit. I thinkPort Phoenix could use to keep up with current events. Come see me later at the manor and we’ll settle everything. If you’re in need of a place, I’ve got some vacancies in town that I could rent cheap, at least till you’re settled.” The Baron answered, motioning to the town as he spoke.
“You have my gratitude, on both counts, m’lord.” She answered, struggling to contain her emotions. She had expected things to be much more difficult, and had been fully prepared to be sleeping outdoors.
“Then it’s settled, think nothing of it. I wasn’t always a Baron, and I do what I can for those less fortunate.” He turned then to the man next to him. “Damien, there’s a home still available across the way from yours, isn’t there?”
“Aye, it’s still unclaimed, and is in fine shape. Shall I show her?” Damien Ragnarok glanced at her, and then back to the Baron.
“If you would please, Damien, I’ve got to settle up here with the captain, and then still see to the other ships.”
“Follow me, miss…?” Ragnarok paused, waiting for her name.
“Aijou. Aijou Sekishin.” She supplied her name for him.
It was all she could do to keep up with the man, he was much taller than she was, and his confident stride spoke of a military background, as well as a noble one. She scrambled off the ship after him and hurried along, not wanting to waste his time or be a bother to him or the Baron. For better or worse, she was now a citizen of Port Phoenix.