RP:Sailing Lessons - HollowWiki (2024)

Part of the Once Upon a Midnight Dreary Arc

Summary: Hanan helps Quintessa try to conquer her fear of the sea

Quintessa's Office

If the Blackwell East Vhysian Company is the Cathedral of Greed, then Quintessa's Office is the steeple. After a long climb up a spiral staircase, visitors are greeted by a massive darkwood door, adorned with intricate carvings and mystical engravings. As the door creaks open, heavy black velvet curtains draw back to reveal an office that epitomizes Quintessa's dark splendor. The high ceilings, adorned with silver-gilt decorations, mirror the grandeur of the gallery below. On the room's north wall, an enchanted fireplace roars, its ethereal green flames casting an eerie glow that reflects off the silver inlays of the grand mahogany desk at the room's center. A high-backed, black leather chair with silver studs commands attention behind it, while gothic-style guest chairs await those summoned. The south walls are lined with tall, dark wood bookshelves protecting her ancient tomes and mystical artifacts behind glass doors, while behind the desk, a magnificent Vhysian stained glass window depicts the Blackwell Crest, filtering in a haunting mix of reds and greens as the sun peaks inside from over the eastern sea. A crystal ball on a silver stand sits on the desk, a focal point of otherworldly power, surrounded by potion bottles, decorative skulls, and an ancient cauldron. Various taxidermy pieces placed around the room complete the decor, making this office Quintessa's sanctuary of opulence and dark magic.


Quintessa sits in her office, her desk full of letters half addressed and unsent. Since returning from the meeting with the Seaborn she had been very busy with political matters. The terms of the pact had illuminated much to her and it was time for House Blackwell to start making their moves in the region. Letters had been sent out to Rynvale and Cenril, calling for cooperation and now Quintessa had to sort out her internal affairs as well. Grabbing a piece of parchment and a well of jet-black ink, Quintessa begins to compose a new letter.

Dear Captain Hanan,I hope this reaches you well. My business in the Mermaid's Cove has concluded and, as promised, I am informing you of my return. It was an interesting event, as you might imagine, but you'll never guess who was there– I'll leave that as a surprise for the next time I see you. Besides, it isn't smart to put such names to paper. Just know I have much to talk to you about regarding my political affairs on the island. I have learned some very interesting things.We will talk in person soon.Sincerely, Lady Quintessa Blackwell,High Priestess of Arh'Nuk,Titan of WinterP.S. Work on your new leg progresses slowly, but I have a wooden prototype I'd like to show you to see if I can gain any insights from you. You will know better than anyone else what you need out of a prosthetic, I feel.  


The raven is a surprise, and a sleepy Hanan almost topples out of her hammock and onto the deck when it arrives. The news wakes her up considerably.

The letter is delivered by one of the workers building the docks behind Quintessa's establishment. It's addressed formally, to Lady Blackwell. Inside:

Dear Mantis,Good to hear. Not sure who would be more surprising than a hobo who is secretly a squid but I look forward to finding out. Also thanks for working on the leg with everything else going on.When you get this my ship will be moored out within sight of your docks. Got my cannons visible just in case anyone tries something funny. Might be able to see me out the window. Send me a signal and I'll row in, or have one of yours row you out.Cheers,Captain HananPS: Guy who ran this in is a real go-getter. Not hard on the eyes either. You should promote him.

Quintessa's eyes pour over Hanan's note quickly as the dock worker tries to slip out of her office, but a slender finger raised in the air halts his escape. "Hold it just one moment..." She finishes reading, a sinister smirk growing on her face as her mismatched gaze flickers up to appraise him. "It would appear you've earned yourself a promotion." The dock worker smiles warily, his face darkened by Quintessa's shadow as she draws near. He has no idea what's in store for him.

Darklight Harbor

The dock expands here, heading out into deeper waters, and allowing for boats and ships of all sizes to make their homes next to it, whether it be temporary or something more permanent. Made of the same bright red cherry wood as the boardwalk, the gloom of the dark depths that surrounds it helps to cast a strange glow against the crimson boards. Whether it’s rainy or a smidge of sun is out, it always seems to be foggy here, the wrought iron lamps that dot the harbor struggling to keep things alight. While things are fine as people go about their business here, should one find themselves staring at the ocean too long, they may feel something staring back, as the abyss often does.

It doesn't take long for Quintessa to gather the things she needs before she closes down shop and sets out, the evening sun just starting to descend behind the tall redwoods to the west. It was an unusually clear day today, one of the hottest all season, and it was only Mithrise. The witch had sought respite from the high temperatures by escaping the confines of her normally many layers of clothes, instead wearing only a thin black sundress along with her pointed hat. The sound of her boots along the boardwalk form a beat with the rhythm of the waves as she nears where the ocean meets the pier, where the view of Hanan's ship moored out in the bay could be seen most clearly. After confirming it with a peer through her spyglass, Quintessa raises her index and middle fingers to point straight in the air and fires a bright green globe of mana right into the sky, a sparking trail of viridescent light slowly falling to the sea in its wake. Then, using the magical flames still flicking on the tips of her fingers, Quintessa lights a cigarette as she waits for someone to see her signal, a bag tucked under her arm.


Through the spyglass Quintessa might also see Hanan, white sleeves rolled up her forearms and flyaways sticking out of her ponytail, messing about with a bit of rope. Her head snaps toward the shore when she catches the green light in the corner of her eye. She grins, waves over her head, and disappears below.

. . .

The captain who rows the dinghy in a short time after looks much more put together. Her hair's neat and she's wearing a trim blue waistcoat with gold buttons. Same shirt, though, and same manners. "Sendin' up a flare isn't exactly subtle," she says as she quickly ties the boat to the cleat, managing to stay balanced standing despite the little thing moving a lot and one of her legs being wooden. "Probably have every gossip writer within sight of that peerin' over." She grins readily up at her, then grabs a piling and clambers onto the dock. "If that dress doesn't do it. Is there another festival on Selene I haven't heard about?"


Quintessa raises an eyebrow at Hanan regarding her subtly, a smirk already growing on her face. "Oh please, I think they are still too scared of me to write about me yet. Still not even a single mention of my arrival," She flicks the rest of her cigarette into the water and moves closer to the boat, peering in with an uneasy frown. "Starting to think I'm not as relevant as I thought I was." Her eyes flash back up to Hanan with a grin, quickly recovering from her anxieties about getting into a rowboat. "Oh, you like this dress, do you? Well, I didn't wear it to be provocative, it's this awful Rynvalian humidity. I can't stand it." The humidity has indeed taken its toll on Quintessa's hair at least, making it frizzy in a way she isn't sure how to control yet. "But if I hear about any parties going on, I'll invite you to crash them with me."


"I wasn't callin' it provocative, just that you look damn good in it." She's a sailor, she can't help it. Hanan crosses her arms over her chest, chin tilted up proudly to look at the witch. "And you'd better let me know about any parties. My only company's been the cat and she isn't the best conversationalist. Won't have a drink with me either. Anyway." She gestures to the bag. "Looks like you wanted to get to the ship right away then?" She steps down into the rowboat again, as if she were doing something as simple as descending a staircase. It's about ten feet long, with two plain benches and a set of thick oars. Simple but sturdy. Hanan steadies it by setting her left hand on one of the posts sticking up from the dock, then offers Quintessa a hand. "Don't worry, I'll row."


The Mantis tosses her hair over her shoulder when Hanan comments how good she looks in her dress, her sense of pride blooming in the light of such words. "I would hope you aren't trying to get the cat drunk; She's much too young to be drinking." Quintessa snickers as she passes her bag down to Hanan, giving her a slight nod of her head in regards to getting back to the ship immediately. "Well, I certainly didn't fancy standing out on the docks any longer." The changeling is very nervous about getting on something that rocks her around so much, but her balance was exceptional enough that it isn't much of a problem. "Thank you," she says as she takes the pirate's hand, slowly making her way to a bench to seat herself. "Gallant as always." She crosses one leg over the other, only offering a glance at the oars before she levels one of her mischievous smiles in Hanan's direction. "I'll do my best to prove more interesting company. In fact, I've come prepared to entertain."


"A little nip won't hurt her. She gives me plenty." Hanan feels gallant, which is dangerous. For her at least. One corner of her lips quirk up. "You? Entertaining me? Here I thought you were my guest. What do you mean?" She quickly unties the little boat, then sits on the bench across from Quintessa, between the oars. The whole thing wobbles a bit with her movements, but not a whole lot. She gives the dock a quick sideways shove, then they're off.

"Alright, so. " Hanan grabs the oars and pushes with just her left a bit, turning the bow and her back toward her ship." It gets choppier between here and there. Not bad and it'll feel a lot calmer on the bigger boat but..." Her voice trails off. "You tell me if it's bad." The sailor rolls her shoulders and then starts rowing in earnest. It isn't a superhuman pace, just an experienced one, and it's a good several minutes to get there. True to her word, the wind is a bit stronger and the waves a bit higher the further they get from shore, water splashing up against the hull and occasionally slightly over the front as they travel.


"Oh, yes, I'm a natural entertainer," Quintessa says, her hands clenched tightly to her bench as they rock a little bit more. "I must regale you with the tale of my journey to the Mermaid's Cove. A tale with a surprising cast of characters, I do believe." Quintessa nods her head silently when Hanan tells her to say when the conditions on the water get too dicey for her. The black witch glances back at her shop, the faint green glow from her windows barely visible the more the sun sinks beyond the horizon. As long as she can see that green she'll be fine. "Don't worry, I'll tell you... Anyway, where was I?" If they had several minutes, Quintessa would try to fill as much of that time up with her story.

"So, as you know, the Chancellor and myself were there to represent Vhys, but we did not arrive first. It was Mayor Valrae Baines who seemed to take those honors, she and Mac the Kraken were already engrossed in conversation when we walked into the audience chambers– But that's not even the most exciting part. Not a moment after our ship moored, Lita's ship joined ours. It was very interesting to see her join as representative of Port Rynvale, especially after her and Valrae's little show during the Spring Festival." Quintessa flinches a bit when the water splashes over the side, but she does her best not to let it show, again glancing at the faint light from her building.


Hanan snickers. "Of COURSE the mayor was first..." But then Lita comes up and suddenly Hanan stops rowing. It's a good thing boats don't skid to a stop. She looks up and meets Quintessa's eyes, her own suddenly serious, realizes she's looking very not smooth or captainy, grunts, and starts rowing again as if nothing had happened. "...hell. Alright. Way you're talkin' about it I'm assuming she's okay." There's already a rope ladder hanging from the side, though with a small ship it isn't much of a climb anyway. Hanan stows the oars, then leans to the side and grabs it, holding it steady for the Mantis to use. Probably not the safest way to do this. The ship creaks very audibly, which Hanan absolutely does not notice. "She is okay, right?" It's painfully clear which "she" the sailor means.


Quintessa has to steal her nerves whenever they are near the ship, the rocking of the boat next to it making her feel suddenly uneasy. "...The docks I'm building will make this so much easier..." She mutters to herself as she puts on a brave face, slinging her bag over her shoulder. Pale fingers grip onto the ladder as she begins her ascent, only looking back to answer Hanan's question. "Oh, yes, everything went completely fine." She begins to climb again. "Whatever disagreements they had prior they must have put them aside for the meeting. It was all quite wholesome, really." Once on the ship she would grip the railing and look back over, watching Hanan's climb as well. "The parties involved were all far too invested in the information regarding their lost national relics than in inflaming their old, tired rivalries." As Hanan nears the top, Quintessa offers a hand to help.


Hanan hooks the boat up to the ropes she'll use to raise it out of the water, then climbs up. It's a bit awkward climbing a rope ladder with just one foot--she manages by using her left knee a little. But it isn't nearly so choppy feeling on the bigger ship at least. "Wholesome. You can't be serious. Must've been a tempest of curses inside their heads." Hanan reaches out to grab Quintessa's hand. It's a huge help, frankly, at least in making her look a bit more graceful. Once safely over the rail, she reaches out and gives her a tight one-armed squeeze. She imagines that's discrete. "I'm happy though. For your sake. I know you like that... Valrae." Nice save! "...I shouldn't be surprised Lita was good, though. She's a ruttin' professional no matter how much she hates politics." Hanan doesn't even try to keep the pride out of her voice, though she has no right to it. "Let me take your bag and tell me more." She grabs it if allowed and moves to stow it just inside the door down to the living quarters. "What was this about anyway? The seaborn want... Relics?"


Quintessa wraps an arm around Hanan's shoulders, squeezing her back a little less discreetly. "Oh, I'm certain they had all sorts of colorful insults swirling around in their heads, but they were very well behaved." Now that she was on mostly solid footing the changeling was relaxing a bit, not so nervous about the sea. With the darkness of dusk growing over them, Quintessa finds herself easily forgetting they were on a ship at all, enough that she allows a smug smile to form on her face as she speaks. "I am quite fond of Valrae, yes, but I'm also quite fond of Lita. A difficult position to be in, for certain." She passes Hanan her bag before continuing, following along as she stows it away, remembering where to find it when she needs it.


"The seaborn don't want these relics, no, the knowledge of them was what they were offering in exchange for joining the Veloran Pact. A sea gorgan named Omorfi, a seer, they claim, has seen the locations of these objects in her visions. An object for each region, Cenril, Rynvale, and Vhys– Very convenient, if you ask me. The bait for some trick, I might suggest if you ask me further... But only because the Veloran Pact didn't demand much, only that the seaborn not be enslaved– an act that was already prohibited in Vhys, Cenril, and much of the rest of Rynvale Island... I am curious who Mac was trying to target with this measure, but I am categorically anti-slavery. Any agreement that seeks to eradicate such practices will always have my support."


Hanan opens the hatch and steps down the short stairs, putting the bag next to the base before coming out onto the deck again. "It's... yeah. Probably is." She gives her a little co*cky smirk in passing. "Always bet on Lita. But I get it." She turns toward the bow, grabbing a guide rail near the hatch while she leans to the side to check the lines again. She does this a lot. "So you don't even know if she's a real seer, huh? It'd be a little more comforting if she's lying, frankly. As for why..." She keeps her eyes toward the bow, shoulders stiffening. "Mindflayers, most likely, if you haven't seen anything else. Practically turn folks into zombies if they want." She'd seen it. The sailor huffs, then glances back over her shoulder to the witch-politician. "And it's prohibited on paper, Tess. You don't see much slavery, but you have slavers coming and going in your ports. And that's just how your laws recognize it." She shakes her head. "My mom and uncle were slaves, more or less. Not on paper but in every way that matters. Sure there's a lot of that here too."

That subject quiets her a moment. Dusk is setting in, and it's later than she'd factored on sailing out. Hanan would be fine, of course, but... "How was that voyage over, anyway? You said you took a galleon. Were you alright? Because we can either set sail now or stay the night with your business right there, if..." If she'd be more comfortable. "You'd still be escaping that humidity." She's already regretting wearing the waistcoat on the row, even if she didn't sweat.


Quintessa raises an eyebrow at Hanan, a smirk tugging at her lips. "I'm not so sure I'd vote on Lita; Valrae's beaten me in a fight, Lita never will." She watches Hanan check the lines with curiosity, mimicking the captain's movements, also looking at the lines even though she has no idea what she's looking for. "Hard to say if she's a genuine seer or not. I suppose it's not unheard of for people to have powers of divination..." The subject of mindflayers draws a more serious expression from Quintessa, her eyebrows knitting together as she thinks about them again. She lets those thoughts pass without speaking them, instead addressing the subject of slavery. "I know slavers are still out there, a holdover from the old Empire, most likely. It's the entire reason I'm building my fleet... Someone out there has been abducting people for the last twenty years and I aim to put a stop to it all." Quintessa pauses, her face relaxing as her eyes scan the darkening waters. "I was not completely honest with you about my intentions... Yes, I will still need the fleet to protect my cargo, but my overall goal isn't to make more money. It's to seek vengeance for them enslaving my sister." Amoung other things.

Quintessa is slow to notice how quiet Hanan has grown until she looks back over at her, a sigh escaping from her as she steps away from the railing. "The voyage was agreeable for the most part. I secluded myself during my... weaker moments, but as long as I have time to separate myself from my anxieties I seem to be able to handle it for a little while." She shakes her head. "But I wasn't part of the crew on the Crimson Horror, just a passenger. I'm not sure what I'm actually going to do on a ship to carry my own weight, but..." The witch looks hopeful, a tiny smile thrown in Hanan's direction before she looks back at the green glow on the shoreline. "I trust your judgment with this, I'm ready to sail if you are. Besides," She looks up at the unusually cloudless sky, "We aren't gonna get another night like this in a while... A can feel the heat abate, the cool night air rolling in... A good night to sail, yes?"


Hanan closes her eyes and inhales. It's good being on the water. Feels like home. The wind, the sound of waves lapping against the hull, all the little creaks and groans of the wood. "You're wrong. About Lita, I mean." She knocks on the wood roof of the cabin and turns, a broad grin on her face. "You can say that but you didn't win Titan until the year she wasn't competing, right? My Line's tiny but you oughta be wary of it." It's good natured ribbing, but the flash in her eyes is sincere. "And ruttin' hell, Tess.. I figured you weren't bein' completely honest about everything but if you'd told me we were huntin' slavers you wouldn't have even needed to place a bet. Might not've wanted to be your Admiral but I sure would have been here with you." She steps closer, her eyes warmer, then she hesitates. "You're somethin' else." The sailor's got work to do. She peers toward the single mast. "If I kiss you right now we're not gettin' anything done." So Qiuntessa gets a light punch on the shoulder and a smirk instead. Hanan then takes off for the boom, beginning to untie the ropes holding the mainsail, at a safer distance from temptation.

"I'm glad you said yes, because you're right. Sky's goin' to be beautiful and the wind's behind us. I figure we head in the direction of Port Rynvale, south then west. Anchor later... it'll be a little bit before you can stand a watch, and we don't want this moving while we're both asleep." She looks back at the witch, thinks a moment. "You were going to be mostly a passenger this time but... there's things to do." She points her chin at the bow. "There's a boat hook up there. Reach out with it and unhook us from the buoy. Don't worry, it's easy. Then soon as that line's aboard, you run back to the stern and grab the helm. Don't do anything with it, just hold 'er steady." She pauses. "And if you can't, just tell me. I'm usually singlehanded, we'll be fine."


Quintessa very much does not feel at home on the sea, but somehow she feels more welcome tonight. The comment about Lita brings an amused laugh from her, fighting Lita was one of the reasons Quintessa signed up this year to begin with. "Ha! Lita was the one who only started dueling after I retired from the scene for a while. This year was my return after a two-year absence and I was hoping to be paired against her." She shrugs at the ribbing, throwing back a smirk. "Got paired up against you instead, though, so I'm not too worried about the rest of your Line." When the subject returns to slavers and how that would have been enough to bring Hanan over to her side, she can't help but let a smile grow on her face. "That was going to be my selling point if I lost, but since I won I had to play that power game to keep up appearances, you understand. Either way, I knew I wanted you to run my fleet... although..." There's a thought there that she abandons as Hanan mentions a kiss, her expression becoming coy as she's given a light punch instead. "You're probably right... There'll be plenty of time later."

There is a tiny bit of disappointment in her eyes when she learns she was just going to be a passenger, but it quickly yields to hope as the sailor starts giving her things to do. "Aye, Captain," Quintessa says without hesitation, happy to be useful and happy to set her mind to something other than being adrift at sea. She moves to take the boat hook and struggles only a little bit to draw the line back aboard. Then, as soon as it was securely on the ship, Quintessa would shadow-step right to the stern in reach of the helm and grip it firmly, holding it still just as instructed. "She's steady, Captain!" The witch shouts, finding herself naturally slipping into this role. It felt familiar in a way she could not quantify, almost nostaglic but at the same time new and intimidating. Mismatched eyes settle upon the vampire again, awaiting her next orders. "What next, Captain?"


Hanan gives her a smart nod as she passes her to take care of the buoy. Untying the ropes and loosening the mainsail and jib is easy work for the one who tied the knots, but it takes time--time enough that she practically jumps out of her boot and prosthetic when she hears Quintessa's voice from the stern far faster than it should be there. Her head snaps in her direction, she blinks, then flashes a broad grin. "Just hold it steady!" She smacks the horizontal pole. "This is the boom! It swings around when I adjust the sails so keep an eye out if you're down here, right?" She makes her way back, stepping up to the raised platform where Quintessa's on helm. Behind her is a small map table and a couple old barrels lashed down for makeshift seats.. "And you're in the co*ckpit. Clear view all the way to the bow. For my ship most of the controls are back here--obviously you can't do that on a warship, but..." Next to the helm there's a set of pulleys connected to the lines. She winds one of them to pull open the mainsail behind the mast, then the other for the jib in front. They immediately flap in the breeze, and they're obviously new considering how crisp and white they still are. It's what she was doing while she waited, for pride's sake.

It's a clear horizon besides a couple fishing boats in the distance, and the sun is quickly disappearing over the horizon. Beautiful. "Alright, we'll have to turn starboard to catch the wind--that's..." What does Quintessa know? Hanan probably should have asked. She points toward the right. "Just a little bit. You don't go hard on the helm 'less you really have to. Like this." She turns back, steps close to the witch, and puts her hand on one of the handles sticking out of the wheel, turning it slow.

"...you sure you're afraid of the ocean?" She's half kidding, but only half.


"Aye!" Quintessa calls again in response to the order to keep the ship steady and hold her steady she does, resisting the ocean's desire to steer the ship according to its ebb and flow. The witch finds herself enjoying this feeling. It felt defiant and powerful. In control– or at least more in control than she ever felt on a ship before. Just the mere absence of helplessness made all the difference in the world. Quintessa watches Hanan carefully, making a mental note to watch out for the boom. "Got it, Captain, I'll remember." Her gaze flickers back and forth between her captain and the rest of the bow, and the ocean, trying to take it all in at once but finding herself unable to keep up. Her attention finally settles on Hanan as she joins her on the elevated platform, watching as she winds up one of the pulleys to control the mainsail and listening to her explain how they worked. "No, I don't suppose you could do this with a warship... but my caravel design– this system will work for that, yes?"

There's something about the look in Hanan's eyes that captivates Quintessa, but her next order keeps her from musing on that too much. "Starboard..." The changeling looks up, eyes shifting from left to right, and then back again. "The right side..." She's nervous now, she really wants to impress Hanan, especially with her looming this close. She doesn't step away when her captain begins to guide her, however, her mismatched gaze glancing over when she moves even closer, causing her to be nervous for another reason entirely. Tessa's hand is shaking like a leaf when she lifts it to place next to Hanan's, matching her speed as they steer. "Like this?" Her voice is low and personal now as she gives the pirate an excited smile. "Oh yes, I'm absolutely terrified," she admits, barely able to keep her body from trembling. "But you won't let anything happen to me."


"...maybe on a caravel. But with a ship that size it might still take a lot of strength to turn cranks like these, and somethin' might happen to the lines... Maybe if you put a second set midship?" Hanan fixates on the thought for a moment. That's the problem. She's so at home on a ship that it's easy to forget that it isn't normal to be thinking about simple engineering problems while being tossed about on the ocean. She doesn't realize just how frightened Quintessa must be until she puts her hand near and she notices the shake. Hanan looks at her, holding on to the helm like that, with an excited expression, even though this must look like the beginning of a nightmare to someone who doesn't like water. "Oh hell." Wrong thing to say. "...no, of course I'm not going to let anything happen." Also the wrong time to tell her she doesn't have to keep calling her Captain, not that she doesn't like the sound of it. Right. She's Captain. She'll be Captain.

"Just like that." She reaches out with her other hand to make a little adjustment with the crank, the boom moving a bit, the sail starting to inflate. "What we're doin' is turning so we can catch the wind better. We're sailin' with the wind, so it'll be easy once we've got the angle. Hang on." Then Hanan leaves the lines, slips behind Tessa, places her left hand on the witch's hip and her right by her hand on the wheel. Her voice is quiet, near and below the other's ear. Damn shame she didn't bring up a stool. "Just a little more. Steady..." As the ship turns starboard the sails go taut with wind, great white sheets obscuring more of the sky than one would think, and the sailboat starts to race across the waves, parallel to the shore, eastward away from Vhys.

"Now keep 'er so. I mean... keep on this course." Hanan keeps her hand on the helm too, albeit lightly. "Not bad." She exhales. "You'll scare the shyte out of those slavers yet."


Quintessa doesn't mind discussing the engineering aspects of their endevor, even if she can't fully focus on it at the moment. Her mind was in hyperdrive trying pay attention to everything at once, but she couldn't pick out a single thing. Instead she focuses on Hanan, allowing the captain to direct her instead of trying to do it herself. The black witch listens carefully to her words, watching as the sails caught more wind as a consequence of them turning ever so slightly. "I see..." It all made sense to her, simple cause and effect as dictated by the laws of nature. Her heartbeat hastens slightly as she feels Hanan's hand against her waist and her breath against her ear. She swallows hard, trying to steady her breathing as she simultaneously steadies the ship. Quintessa subconsciously exhales long and slow, her eyes flickering back up to check the sails just as they go taut. Suddenly that feeling of control starts to shrink and she feels very small again, but Hanan's words are reassuring. "Keep on course..." she repeats, giving herself something to think about– anything other than the anxiety inducing thoughts that wanted to creep into her mind. "They better be scared of me," Quintessa forces a grin, her typical way of deflecting her fear, "I've come to tinge the sea red just as the Harpy Queen!"


Hanan snickers. "Pretty sure not even the Harpy Queen got to man helm her first time out, so you're ahead." Behind Quintessa, she lets her eyes drift closed a moment, feeling the hair on her face and the little flyaways escaping her ponytail. "...don't forget that. I figure you're good at controllin' things, so you could handle it for this part." She opens her eyes again and smiles, hand squeezing the witch's waist slightly. It feels good, being the confident one. She hasn't had a lot of that for the past few years. She can feel Tessa's heart quicken, her efforts to control her breathing. Something about that is exhilarating too. She's still by nature a predator, even when she's a little domesticated, and instincts are instincts. Luckily she's full of the protective ones too. "...so... this part, when we're with the wind and there aren't a lot of boats to pay attention to, there's not so much to do. Once we're farther from a port I sometimes let a rope hold the wheel. So I'm sayin', if you wanted to turn around and see the end of that sunset...." The sun is a tiny sliver on the horizon, the brightest stars starting to become visible. "I've got it. Or you can keep it."

Hanan pauses, a moment, then: "I'm glad you came out. Usually getting someone on the boat's like pullin' teeth. This is... nice." She pauses. "I figure we go around the coast, make a stop in Rynvale. I haven't been there for a bit. You can see your aunt or something, talk to some shipwrights." And Hanan can try to explain some things to a certain tattoo artist, maybe. Perhaps this being about slavers might help soften any blows. "Then we can circle back to Vhys, or head to Selene or Cenril... whatever suits." She inhales, then: "Hate to say it, but Mah's probably better for learnin' gunnery. I'm good, but she's an enthusiast."


Quintessa might let pride get the better of her later when she thinks about getting to man the helm her first night out like this, but right now she has too much to focus on. "Yeah... It's all under my control." Speaking it out loud helps her set aside her unease. She likes the control, like taming something she once thought too dangerous to even approach. It returns some of her lost confidence, enough that it shows in her voice when she speaks. "So... I could turn around now?" She's bold enough that she just does it, letting her hands slip from the wheel as she slowly turns in place to face the captain. She locks eyes with her for a moment, a hand reaching out to steady herself on Hanan's shoulder before they flicker up to watch the sunset.

"I'm glad I came out too," Quintessa responds, the last lights of day sparkling in her mismatched eyes as a tiny smile grows on her face. "It's easier with you giving me things to do. I don't feel so trapped. I feel like..." She shakes her head, unable to even describe it. "You're right; This is nice." Her gaze seeks out Hanan's as she puts together an impromptu travel plan, nodding along slowly at her suggestions. "Good. Mahri already knows the score between me and the slavers, I'm more than certain I can talk her into helping me." Quintessa looks southward, as if she could see the way to Rynvale from here. "After Port Rynvale, lets hit Selene Island, and then Cenril. I'd like to stop by my mother's bakery there if we can..."


Hanan, as usual, tries to be smooth, but she is a bad enough actress that it's very obvious how surprised she is when Quintessa turns around between her and the helm. Not unpleasantly so. Her grin is broad and entirely unfiltered in its delight when their eyes meet, and she then quickly looks back down the ship. Her free hand slides to the small of her back. Smooth. Be. Smooth.

"Y'always naughty like this? Because you might end up bein' a threat to discipline and good order with my crew." She makes a small adjustment to the wheel, then meets Quintessa's eyes again, her own brown ones gleaming in a face otherwise shadowed in front of the sunset. "Currently, that's me." She winks. "...it'd be good to have Mah's help, I think. I'm sure you'll get it. So we know what's on in Rynvale and Cenril... Why Selene?" She leans in, turns her head to kiss the changeling's cheek, then keeps watch on their path over the taller woman's shoulder. "And I'll give you duties if it helps, don't worry. Helm, deck swabbin', cot warmin', navigation... The important things."


Quintessa feels her body naturally shift closer to Hanan when a hand is placed on the small of her back, a slight smile gracing her features when she places a kiss on the changeling's cheek. When the pirate asks if she's always naughty like this her smile grows a little more devious, the mention of Quintessa being a threat to discipline and order inspiring a spark of amusem*nt. She reaches up to gently stroke Hanan's face as a dark chuckle escapes her. "Oh, we already talked about this, didn't we?" She teases with a low coo, bringing her lips close to the vampire's ear. "I'm a damned siren, here to distract you and steer us into the rocks, remember?"

Quintessa pulls away from the captain's ear to catch the last moments of the sunset, anticipating when the inky blackness would sweep in as she addresses her last question. "Selene Island is where this all started... But to answer your question I would like to return to the moon pool during the apex of Arh'Nuk. An idle curiosity, mostly, but it's a goal, at the very least." With the sun finally gone and the shoreline quickly becoming nearly impossible for her to distinguish between the ocean, she finds her grip subconsciously tightening on Hanan. Oh no here it comes... Quintessa closes her eyes, her forehead sinking to rest in the crook of Hanan's neck as she tries to think of something– anything, to distract her from losing sight of the shore. "...I'm allowed to use magic to swab the deck right? I wouldn't know how to do it any other way... " She forces a laugh, a nervous one. "Warming cots though– I'm a prolific cot-warmer, wouldn't you say?"


The words at her ear make Hanan shudder, in the best way. "True, siren. That's why you got roped into that seaborn sh*tuation." That gets her thinking about the kraken, because of course it does, and she's silent for a moment, before: "...what does the moon pool do, exactly?" She can assume it's more than swimming. "...I'm goin' to have to learn more about magic, aren't I? Ruttin' hell."

Hanan doesn't acknowledge the rise in Quintessa's anxiety, at least at first, though it's obvious because it's familiar. When the fear gets her at night, when she's alone and she feels almost like she's in the mindflayers' clutches again. When it's dark and too quiet and she doesn't have something to root herself. One talks about anything else. And she's a talker. She slides her arm a little further around the witch's back and holds her close. "...depends. What do you mean by magic? Makin' a mop dance around? Or callin' down a storm to rain on us?" She chuckles. "...you're damn good at cot warming but I'd prefer you keep that up manually. Like now. Despite... circ*mstances. You're keepin' me warm enough right here, Mantis." She starts rubbing her back, keeping her voice steady as the wheel. "...people don't usually hug the helmsman, y'know. Speakin' of hugs..."

Quintessa likes to explain things, Hanan needs something explained. Hugs. Tentacles. "That Kraken of yours. Mac? What else did you figure out about him? He seems... interested in people. Likes to talk. He could be useful. He told me I could call on him by the shore if I needed him." Wait, maybe too serious? Keep it light, Captain. Crew morale. "Wonder if that works out here? Or if we could summon up some other krakens. Have a party."


"The Moon Pool is a sacred location for the Coven of Selene," Quintessa begins, lifting her head to speak to her, even though just the act of opening her eyes makes her feel slightly dizzy. "They have a temple which houses the pool, and when the moon Vaalane is full her light shines through the skylight to illuminate the room. These witches regard this as a special moment for doing magic and rituals that will appease their goddess– And of course you are going to learn about magic if you keep hanging around me." Quintessa manages to give Hanan a smirk as she slides more to the captain's side, giving her a better view of what's in front of them. "Magic is simply a tool, a tool that can help improve anyone's quality of life. I could clean the deck with a mop, yes, but I could also do this-" With a flick of her wrist one of Quintessa's cantrips fires off, a tiny burst of mana causing all the dirt and detritus that had built up on the upper deck to come loose and fling over the sides, leaving the wood clean and undamaged behind. "How long would that take with a mop? An hour? Longer?"

Hanan's tactic of keeping Quintessa yapping is working despite how she's clinging to her. She was not completely overwhelmed by her anxiety and that was progress. "Well... I'm glad I can give you the kind of attention you deserve." She says as she wraps both arms around the captain, giving her a proper hug since she brought attention to it. "I intend on keeping you very warm..." When Mac is brought up, however, Quintessa can't help but allow a sardonic scoff to escape her, giving her an incredulous look. "Kraken of mine?" Her laughter is boisterous. "Not my kraken. Valrae is his favorite, clearly. Cenril has gotten special consideration in the formation of the Veloren Pact– Vhys was merely an afterthought... I do not think Mac cares for me at all, he would not engage in conversation like I hoped. He pushed my questions aside and could only think of getting away from me. I even summoned him to my favorite location in all of Elimdor! Ungrateful bastard... But I can attest the trick to calling him to any shore works. I just have not wished to try it a second time yet..." Quintessa is thinking that she'd rather actually crash the ship into the rocks and drown than party with him at the moment.


"Maybe you'd take an hour." The magic makes her jump, just a little, but not so much that Hanan moves away. "Alright, alright. You can use magic. Just... Not so much with the workings of the ship unless I understand what you're doin'."

She leans right into the hug, hand still on the helm though they're just going straight at this point. "Yeah. I know you'll do that. Just wait 'till we drop anchor to seduce me, siren. For both our sakes. I wouldn't want that Kraken havin' to play lifeguard... You're jealous. That's what it is!" Hanan laughs right back and jabs Quintessa in the side. "You're upset the kraken prefers blondes. I mean I'm not, that's one less rival." The sailor's smile tempers some, then: "Anyway that's too bad. I was hopin' on an introduction. I think he tried to help me and I didn't leave on good terms. I have a whole lot of questions for the guy ungrateful or not now that I know what he is."

She tilts her head back, and her grin returns. The sky darkened quicky, and the stars are a riot of little lights overhead. "Look up. You're not goin' to find a better starfield than out here." She points right at the Harpy's Claw. "Looks like we're favored for now, she's not so red as usual lately."


"I know you're weird about magic," Quintessa says, coming close to Hanan's ear again. This time her tone is much less seductive than before and more just comforting. "I promise, I won't mess with your ship. Any magic I use I'll make sure I explain it first, okay?" The witch is ready to settle her forehead against the side of Hanan's head but the accusation of being jealous snaps her up as if she'd been dealt a physical blow.

"I-I am not jealous!" The jab in Quintessa's side is the follow-up blow after being laid completely flat-footed by the pirate's comment, causing a quick "Eep!" to escape from her. "Rival? You think that I...? Oh... Oh, gods no- I could list all the reasons that would never happen. He's like, super ancient," She holds up a finger, "He's a man," A second finger. "And he's a fish! All negatives in that department for me." Quintessa pauses for a moment, honestly considering a meeting between them. "...But I suppose I can put aside my petty complaints to set up an introduction if it means so much to you."

When Hanan brings Quintessa's attention to the stars, a gasp escapes her as she gazes up at the night sky and suddenly all thoughts about anything else slip away. "Delisha's Grace... Not even in the Dark Lands are the stars so clear." Already her finger is in the air, tracing out the ten stars that make up the Harpy's Claw as Hanan mentions it. "Yes! The normal yellow– The Harpy Queen indeed blesses our voyage tonight. Oh! And look over there, directly to the south." She points at a bright orange astral body in the sky, the planet Chaaldir that was most visible in the summer. "That one always points south, some say it's the portal to the Flame Realm but astronomers will argue against that– Oh! And right over here, a bit north-west, we have Harva, the Pinecone! Gods it looks so bright... And if you look all the way to the eastern horizon you can just see the tip of The Chariot pulling Kazarkh behind it, bringing in the next month." Hanan has activated one of Quintessa's special interests: Constellations.


Hanan rolls her eyes, but she doesn't sound too angry. More annoyed. "I am not 'weird' about magic." Yes she is. "You don't need to reassure me. I hid out in a godsdamn necromancy school didn't I? Kind of you to be nice, but..." But she can't help a snicker at Quintessa's judgment of Mac. "Y'think I was serious? Even if you were okay with all that, isn't he often, y'know, moist? He'd drip all over your office...That ain't why I'm after him either, he's just... he did a thing. Something. I'd appreciate the introduction."

The sailor doesn't like asking for things. It's awkward. Her brief stiffness there is dispelled though when Quintessa is looking up. She doesn't interrupt. She just listens and watches. She hasn't lit a lantern yet, leaving the ship quite dark and the sky even clearer for it, but the witch's mismatched eyes may as well be glowing in Hanan's sight. She's paying more attention to her than the stars. She hasn't seen her so entranced by something so benign before. It's nice, getting a glimpse of what someone is like beyond what life's done to them. Hanan follows Quintessa's finger toward the eastern horizon. "I know all about Chaaldir, we use it a lot. The Chariot... that's the one with Maro, right? And there..." She points at a conspicuous grouping of stars in a triangular shape. "The Wishbone. From the giant bird the ancients brought down and feasted on. At least... that's the story I like. 'Triad of the Gods' is nothin' but boring." She looks at the other again, sidelong, a little sly. "So, is it true what they say about Harva? You've got to have a pure heart to see it? I'm not sure how much stock I put in this stuff, except I was born under the Hippocampus and here I am, doomed to life at sea." She looks back up. "Which one's yours?"


"I didn't mean to imply that you need reassuring," Quintessa says honestly, "Magic is a strange phenomenon- I only meant to say that I won't do anything untowards." It was likely a bigger promise than she could keep. "And I only took you half seriously... An affair with a squid wouldn't be the strangest thing people accused me of. But gods, he'd be *so* moist– I couldn't take him anywhere, he'd leave a trail of salt water for everyone to find us." Quintessa allows her jest to fade when it seems like Hanan had something serious to talk to him about. "Jokes aside, I have no issue helping you meet him no matter what the reason. Shall we try to summon him once we reach Rynvale?"

For now, however, Quintessa is much more interested in talking about the stars, genuinely impressed by Hanan's knowledge of them. "Yes! They say it is Maro that pulls the Chariot and my gods it's such a sight to see the stars actually visible with the naked eye like this..." She smiles wide when Hanan tells her she likes the 'Wishbone' opposed to the 'Triad of the Gods', and when she asks if you have to have a pure heart to see Harva, it turns absolutely devilish. "Sure, a heart of pure evil– That's how I'm able to see it to point it out to you." Her eyes glance down from the stars to look at her when she tells her she was born under the Hippocampus, and she tries to recall what she knows about the constellation. "So... You must be born in either Selevann or Zayvann then? I suppose we'll have to wait until autumn to see your constellation more clearly." Quintessa looks back up into the sky, searching for the Web of Arachne, a finger rising in the air to trace around the edges of the web to count all eight stars that make up the border. "There, that's mine, the Spider's Web. This past Yannage marked Arachne's 22nd rotation looking down upon me. What do they say about those born under the Web? Diligent little dreamers prone to self-sabotage?" She laughs bitterly. "Yeah, that sounds right."


"Rynvale... Or Cenril. If there's water it might not matter." Hanan snickers at the Harva comment. "Aye aye, I guess that explains why I can see it too." Her face changes a little though when Quintessa mentions the months of Hippocampus. "It must be either of those, but I honestly don't know." She shrugs. "...we didn't keep records. Don't have a birthday." She rubs the back of her neck, then follows Quintessa's finger. "Figures you'd be a spider, though. Weavin' webs but always prepared to start another one when the Broom comes by and gets it." Her eyes seek out that constellation as well. "You're wrong though. You're a diligent tall dreamer." She leans over and bumps the changeling with her shoulder if she's in reach.

The sailor thinks a moment, hand light on the helm, eyes upward. "Hell, I'm not even sure how old I am." She looks over at the witch a moment, thinking. "I was... near your age when I was turned, I think.. Maybe a bit younger. Not that it matters now. My uncle said it was the sign of the Hippo. He was just bein' cute. Said we're big adorable river beasts who just want to hang out all the time except when we're bitin' poor fools in half." She drums her fingers on the wheel. "I do know I was born in the middle of a nasty storm. On land thank gods but it was so bad the midwife couldn't make it 'till I'd nearly arrived. That's when you can see it, when storms are worst." She pushes her lips to the side. A clear night, perfect for looking at the sky. She can still make out the shoreline with her vampiric eyes, the outline of trees marking their position as surely as the stars. "You want to drop anchor for the night?"


There's a sense of melancholy that Quintessa experiences whenever Hanan mentions not knowing her name day, but that doesn't deter her from the subject. "Then you should pick one," she suggests, a hopefulness shining in her voice. "Pick a day for yourself under the Hippocampus and we will celebrate it every year." The melancholy fades away whenever Hanan mentions the Broom sweeping away her webs, a more bittersweet emotion replacing it. "Aye, the Broom has been sweeping me up a lot lately too. It's swept me so far from home... made me the Exiled Countess, no less, but every time I rebuild I get a little bit better at it." A smirk is thrown in Hanan's direction when she corrects her, labeling her 'tall' opposed to 'little' as she delivers a bump to her shoulder. Quintessa doesn't comment on it though, instead allowing Hanan to tell the story of her birth, when she was turned, and the fact that her Uncle had called it the sign of the Hippo.

"He's not far off, I suppose... But you were born during a storm? It's a very ominous sign for a child to be storm-born– Tis no wonder you're such trouble in your adulthood." Quintessa can't personally make out the shoreline from here, her darkvision only working close-up, but she trusts her captain's judgment to keep them safe despite this. "Drop anchor here?" There is a nervousness in her voice but she quickly stamps it down. "I, uh, sure, if you think it's best. You're the captain– you decide when we drop anchor."


Hanan blinks, then looks back at her, brows rising incredulously. "...just pick one?" She smirks reflexively, but there's a softness to it when she looks back ahead. Nobody's suggested that before. "Maybe I will. But you're wrong. About a storm birth bein' a bad omen, I mean. My folks thought it meant you'd be a survivor, if your soul picked a storm to be born." She pauses a beat. "And also that you've got a temper and get too dramatic. I'd just say that helps you survive but they've got to have somethin' to snicker about when they read your stars."

She leans sideways on the helm--just so, keeping them steady--and looks at Quintessa more seriously, voice speeding up. "...anyhow, yes it IS up to me, but a good captain actually talks to the crew now and then. You're the crew. These waters ought to be safe as any, but if you want to keep goin' until we see lights or until morning we can. It's just that the sailin's so smooth right now you might not have much to do, and you seem to want things to do..." Yap yap yap, because something's making Hanan a bit nervous, and she knows it. She rubs her jaw. "Maybe I'm puttin' off Rynvale a bit. I don't wanna cause a political incident. Either because Mac told them something or... Or have your aunt try to break her hand on my face, heh. I'm discrete but folks who know me figure shyte out. We can skip Rynvale and go straight on to the island if that things easier."


"Then I'm wrong about storm-births," Quintessa capitulates without any resistance, "A dramatic, temperamental survivor? Sounds like someone I'd get along with." She meets eyes with the captain when she gets more serious, her smile disappearing as she becomes more thoughtful.

"Putting off Rynvale?" Quintessa is somewhat surprised to hear this, "Do you really think it'll cause an incident?" Time to put on your politician cap, Tessa. The witch looks away, eyes scanning the surface of the sea to watch the reflection of the sister moons warble in the waves. "Yes, let's anchor for now, until we figure out how to broach this subject with them... We can't just skip them forever, we'll have to deal with them eventually, so there's no point in avoiding it. Having said that, I do not wish to cause an incident with Vhys' closest neighbors, nor do I wish to see anyone's hands break on anyone's faces. If discretion isn't going to work in this situation, then a ruse might offend them. Honesty would be a better route but... how much of the truth can we really trust them with?" Her gaze flickers back to Hanan, "What kind of information could Mac give them that you do not wish them to have?"


Hanan cringes visibly. Talking too much has gotten her in a situation again. "I was... half jokin'. I don't think it'd be a literal international incident, just..." She grumbles something profane under her breath, then goes to the cranks near the helm and starts bringing down the sails. "Alright, you want stuff to do? Up at the bow's the windlass--the big crank with the anchor and chains. Let 'er out to 100 feet--that'll be the blue marker. It'll do most of the work itself." Lots of cranks on a ship. She'd painted the right bit of chain. When Hanan is done with her own task, she walks midship, pulling a box of cigarettes out of her pocket as she does so. She hauls herself right up on the rail with her legs dangling inside, then searches her other pocket for a match while she waits. She's muttering again soon after, shoulders hunched. No match, no flint. Perfect.

"...okay, so I meant there might be personal problems. Shouldn't've exaggerated. And definitely not your fault. I have no idea how Lita's goin' to react when she finds out we're... y'know, even though we're not... anythin' close to a relationship so far as I've been led to believe." Getting a shoulder bump before the fight with Tessa had actually been a big deal. "She might be angrier about me bein' your admiral than anything else. And of course Mah'd be pissed. Not that you're seein' people, but that it's me. You know, the one who hurt her girlfriend. And you're YOU, her precious little very tall mantis niece." The sailor can't help a wry smirk at that image. "I have no idea how many folks have adopted you, for all I know some fairy godmother's goin' to swoop down and ask why I'm cradlerobbin' business magnates. But you're right, I don't think a ruse is goin' to work. Discretion maybe, but then they might end up considerin' that a ruse if we're found out. What a sillyass mess."

The Mac incident is somehow more awkward. "The kraken probably got a certain... impression of me that's not goin' to be very flattering." Hanan chooses her words carefully for once. "I went to the Atoll to deliver a package. Had to do somethin' between meetin' you and... well anyway. It paid well. I go on the beach and there's nobody there until this beardy guy without a shirt walks out of the ruttin' water and asks my business, then asks for the box after tellin' me it isn't his. I say no. He insists. Fight breaks out." That was one way to put her actions. "I get some good hits in, then he does somethin' to prick my skin and I'm paralyzed. I don't like this. You wouldn't. So he sees that and, well..." Hanan rubs the back of her neck and looks away, brow furrowed. "Sings me a song? This weird... ancient magical thing. Different from your storm singing, it did somethin' to my brain." It's still in her head, off and on like a constant soundtrack. The most disturbing part is that it soothes her. "Then I can move and he acts like it was normal, all 'I deeply apologize m'lady so I just leave." She was a coward and ran, is what she can't say. "I want to talk to him to try to figure out what that was. But in the meantime if he now knows everybody due to your negotiations, I don't know if he'd mention..." Her gaze is now somewhere on the far side of the deck. This is mortifying. Better Quintessa hears her version first, at least. "I'm fine now. Got a light?"


Quintessa perks up somewhat when Hanan gives her work to do, and her eyes scan the bow in search of the windlass. "Aye, Captain." And then she's off, remaining silent to give Hanan a moment to collect her thoughts. She focused on finding this blue link of chain, letting it out slowly so she can spot it when it rolls by. After every few rotations of the crank, she glances over at Hanan as she continues to explain. "Well, no shyte it's a personal problem." Quintessa is already starting to copy her words, it's too late for her. "Then we won't tell Lita you're my admiral, that parts simple. She doesn't need to know, and if she asks then we'll just tell her you're teaching me how to sail. It's not even a lie, it's a half-truth. Much easier to maintain." The blue chain shows itself and Quintessa stops letting it out, stopping it here as the changeling moves to join Hanan midship. "Mahri is not going to care," Quintessa says, perhaps a hint of bitterness showing as she explains why she believes this. "She didn't give a damn when Kasyr took my maidenhead, she's not gonna care about this either, and if she does I'll talk to her. Instead we should focus on Lita's reaction. She's the Wild Card."

A smile might break the serious expression on Quintessa's face when Hanan mentions a fairy godmother, her memories stirring of her biological sisters and aunts who strangely fit this bill, albeit they were not fairies and instead night hags, but who's keeping track of those details? The smile fades away, however, as Hanan explains her interaction with the kraken. This whole business with the seaborn already made her uncomfortable, but now she was downright suspicious. "Paralyzed? Hmm, he must have stung you somehow. Kraken venom is swift and powerful, able to kill at higher doses." Of course Quintessa would know the details of kraken venom. Her hand reaches up between them, her fingers pressed together as if to snap them, giving Hanan a moment to see what she was doing before she casts a cantrip. A tiny green flame appears on Quintessa's fingertips as she snaps her fingers, offering it to the captain to light her cigarette.

"So he fights with you, poisons you, uses ancient bardic magic on you, and you don't have any idea why?" Quintessa blows a piece of hair out of her face that resettles right from where she blew it. "Well, I certainly can't blame you for wanting answers– I want them now too, and I'm not going to let him slip away this time." After Hanan has used her fire, Quintessa allows it to fade away. "But as far as you're concerned, and please, don't take this the wrong way, but with slavers and imposters and hidden relics taking the forefront of everyone's attention, I do not think Mac thought to mention you to anyone during our diplomatic meetings. Least not yet."


Hanan shakes her head. "No. We shouldn't hide the admiral thing from Lita, Wild Card or no." She grins lopsidedly at the nickname. She's quite proud of Lita and considers that a compliment. "She will find out. The moment she knows you're putting together a fleet and that's assumin' she doesn't know already. She's good at finding information. Plus, it's me." She humphs. "...that, and I shouldn't. I sired her, Tess. We're the only two folks in our bloodline. I broke her trust once and I can't do it again. Not like that." Hanan is, above all else, loyal to people she loves. She'd even thought she was being loyal and responsible when she buggered off years ago. It's her saving grace and probably her downfall. The sailor taps her peg against the hull, an old nervous tick, until she realizes that's quite a bit loud considering her foot is now a wooden pole and cuts it out. "No, the issue is how we present it. I signed on to help you fight slavers. She's got Leo and Mah over in Rynvale plus a lot of good captains besides, you needed my expertise over in Vhys." She flicks her gaze back up to Tessa's. "And it isn't even really a lie, because if you'd told me from the beginnin' it was about that, you wouldn't have needed a bet at all."

When Quintessa offers her cantrip, Hanan leans forward a little, lightly touching the witch's hand while she uses the flame, then offering her one of the cigarettes too. "Thanks. I figured after you told me he's a kraken it must be venom or somethin' like that. At least he didn't ink me." She chuckles despite herself, inhales, then grabs one of the ropes and leans far back, blowing the smoke up over their heads. She's perhaps too comfortable, perched up on the rail. Almost as if there isn't an ocean beneath at all. "I left my godsdamn pipe on that beach. Otherwise, though... I think he was tryin' to help. Does that make sense? And I think he.. Might've. Whatever he did, the nightmares aren't so bad since." She shakes her head, leaning forward again. "I don't think it was bardic magic. It was somethin'... ancient. More primal. Even I could tell that." She snickers. "...and oh hell, no, I didn't think it would come up in ruttin' negotiations except it must have been for someone there. There's no other reason for me to be deliverin' a box to that beach right then. If he didn't mention it, good."

She taps her fingers on her knee. She'd let the comment fall, but... no. She lacks the self-discipline and it's too meaty to keep her teeth out of it. "Mah should've. And you've gotta make me a promise. Talk about that frou frou bastard all you like, but never use the words "Kasyr" and "maidenhead" together in a sentence again. It's a crime against Common."


Quintessa definitely calls Lita "the Wild Card" affectionately. She loves giving people little titles like that. "Okay, then we tell her the whole of it. She already knows I'm putting together a fleet, I've been telling every regional leader who will listen what my intentions are. The Veloren Pact has given me the perfect justification to do so, so I've taken the opportunity." The admission that Hanan sired Lita causes her to withdraw internally a little, her arms crossing over her chest in an almost defensive posture. Quintessa had pieced it together already, but the truth being spoken aloud makes her really consider the situation she had placed herself in. She might not be a vampire, but more than any other mortal she'd ever known, Quintessa was uniquely acquainted and ingrained in vampire culture and society. A mere curiosity to them, Quintessa inversely knew about vampires very intimately, an obsession since childhood, one that drove her to impersonate one of them only a few years ago. Along with all this, Quintessa intimately understands the connection between sire and childe, and she knows all too well the dangers of trying to stand between such a connection.

Quintessa reaches out to take a cigarette before she continues, reigniting her cantrip with a nod of her head as 'thanks'. "Alright, no lies then, I don't need them. Diplomacy will serve me well enough." The look of disgust on her face when Hanan mentions being lucky not getting inked breaks the serious air around her, and she chokes on smoke as she laughs. "Well, I'm glad he helped... But you should know, there is no magic more ancient and primal than bardic magic. It is the magic of stories and legends, of the gift of song present in every single thing on this planet. The wind and the waves and the beating of the heart. The magic that taps into the ancient tapestry of existence, of the universal past we all share. The magic of emotion and making sense of this emotion, and struggling with it– oh, so much struggle, but there is beauty in that struggle. It was the Goddess Selene who granted this gift to the world, and the Goddess Selene who birthed the first krakens from her womb. It only stands to reason that these two creations would be woven together in the tapestry of existence since time immemorial."

Quintessa doesn't realize she's rambling until she glances down to see her cigarette going out, and she pauses long enough to take a drag to bring it back to life. "Sorry," She says, giving Hanan a sheepish smile, "For that and for the... other thing. You're right, it's a crime against The common tongue and I shall never allow the words to pass my lips again." A smirk tugs at her lips now as she raises her pinky in the air between them. "Shall I pinky swear it?"


Hanan catches the way Quintessa sticks a wall up when she mentions the whole sire situation, which is what makes her then catch herself. Stepped in it again. Is this some kind of secret information she shouldn't be sharing? Is her big mouth putting Lita in danger? Or Tessa? Her right fingers grip into the fabric over her knee, and she uses her other hand to take another drag. Why is she repeatedly into people who are into intrigue? Nobody is worse at intrigue than her.

The witch's laugh and then the talk about bardic magic loosens Hanan up a bit. Her smile grows softer. "You're the expert, Professor. How do I put it. It feels even older than bards. Or people. From before we started puttin' it in separate boxes and giving it names. I couldn't understand a thing he was singing but also, I could understand all of it. Maybe more than I'm meant to understand." She looks down at the glowing end of her cigarette, then back up. "The way you describe it though... he said it was a song the Mother sang to him, so that must be Selene. That's what it felt like. Like I could feel... everything at once. Everything's heartbeat, from... every time? Like even my own before..." And she still can, a little. The waves and the stars and the mantis. She hears that song again. "Ruttin' hell." Hanan screws her face up at the inherent ridiculousness of both what she's saying and herself of all people discussing it. "Or Mac just messed 'round with my brain and made me crazy."

She blinks a few times at what Quintessa does next, looking between her eyes, the finger, her eyes, the finger. The person who sliced her back apart in a duel is now offering a pinky swear. The world is strange. "You've got nothin' to apologize for." She hooks her own finger around Quintessa's, then uses it to tug her hand close and plant a gallant kiss on her knuckles. "None of that's your fault, if it is who cares, and you've now got much better taste in vampires regardless." She winks. "You're on a boat in the middle of the ocean doin' somethin' new as far away as you can from those assholes. F--" It's weird to hear a seagull cry in the middle of the night, but there it is. "--'im and f---" Again. Must be some kind of seagull party. "--Vailkrin. You're learnin' to sail and they don't even have a port. What do you want to learn next? Navigation's more interesting when we're under sail, but we can try. Or I can get a bottle out and we can settle down."


Quintessa allows her smirk to grow with pride when Hanan calls her the expert, starting to like it when she calls her Professor almost as much as when she calls her mantis. The tale of Mac's song seems to confirm this for Quintessa, nodding her head to agree with Hanan that this kind of magic was far older than humans. "We merely stumbled upon it, gave it a name, but you are right in assuming this magic is from a time far before our own... Far before even the dwarves and the elves. Before the dragons themselves."

Quintessa's expression grows more impish when Hanan reaches out to hook their pinkies together, and as their fingers connect a snap of mana activates the curse Quintessa had prepared for herself. Such an innocent act, a pinky swear, was deceptively dangerous when wielded by a black witch, but luckily for Hanan, Quintessa had targeted herself with her own magic this time. Now she could never put those two words in the same sentence ever again even if she wanted to. The kiss to her knuckles is an added bonus though, and Quintessa is such a sucker for gallant gestures. What Hanan says next, however, catches Quintessa by such surprise her eyes grow wide with shock, unsure how she feels about the captain defaming her homeland, but as she slowly comes around Quintessa flashes a shark-like grin before joining her.

"Yeah, f–" The seagulls continue to swarm overhead, "Vailkrin!" It feels liberating to say, a piece of heavy baggage she'd been carrying her whole adolescence slipping away from her shoulders. "They exiled me– They don't even want me. All of the Dark Lands can rot for all I care; I'm Countess of the Dark Forest no longer!" She takes a moment to exhale, enjoying that feeling of finally being free and untethered from a failing kingdom. "Let's drink," Quintessa is quick to decide. "I have a pipe in my bag and more of that herb I grow. I think I'm ready to settle down."


Hanan feels a shock from Quintessa's pinky, and tilts her head slightly in question. Not worried, just... curious. But she doesn't voice the question. Her smile grows into a broad grin when the witch goes on to curse Vailkrin. "You're the countess of whatever you ruttin' want, not some dingy scrubby forest full of fops and pretenders." Okay, maybe that's going a bit too far. Hanan just doesn't fit in there, okay? One step out of the Hanging Corpse and she was near literally a fish out of water. It doesn't take much for her to insult the place.

At the next suggestion the sailor lets out a low whistle. "You want to smoke that stuff AND drink? I'm sure mixin' those won't go off-kilter a bit. I'm game." She scoots off the rail to stand on the deck, suddenly shorter, and reaches up to tussle Quintessa's hair to compensate. "I've got that Delisha wine, you ever try that? I can't quite remember." Which may be the wine's fault. "And I'm not sure you've noticed but..." She sweeps her arm out over the sea, the horizon, the waves, all of it. "You're doin' damn well, Mantis. Just wait 'till we hit Rynvale, you'll look natural. C'mon." There's a bounce in her step beyond what the pegleg gives her as she turns toward the cabin, opens the hatch, and goes down the steps.


Quintessa's expression only grows more haughty when Hanan tells her she can be countess of whatever she wants, and a sinister luster fills her mismatched eyes. "You're right, I'm Quintessa Blackwell, the countess- Nay, the Witch-Queen of the Unseelie Court, and my domain is wherever I choose." It is probably a dangerous game to be playing by inflating Quintessa's ego like this, but it's too late to worry about that now. Either way, it keeps the changeling from focusing too much on Hanan's comment about her forest homeland being full of 'fops and pretenders', or else Quintessa might realize that she was the number one fop-pretender in all of Vailkrin at one point.

The mention of mixing Quintessa's special pipeweed with Hanan's Delishan wine brings a cheeky smirk from her. She doesn't have any issue remembering what happened the first time they mixed it. The Captain's Cabin was still covered in pineapple motifs back then... "Don't tell me you're worried about keeping up." She verbally jabs as Hanan ruffles her hair, secretly liking this kind of attention. The complement that follows, however, brings a genuine smile to her face. Praise, particularly from someone trying to teach her something, always made her happy. It always made her smile. Perhaps it was a trait not uncommon to find in people who devoted their lives to becoming scholars, but Quintessa more than most coveted and pursued this feeling. It was all confirmation for her childish belief that she was, in fact, the smartest, prettiest, most powerful spellcaster in the whole wide world.

"Thank you," Quintessa's words are also genuine as she swiftly moves to follow after her, "It's because I had a good instructor." In truth, Quintessa is honestly surprised she's taken to it so well. Her trip on the Crimson Horror did not go this well at all.


Hanan laughs at danger that isn't Black Spot related. She scoffs at it. So she often doesn't see it until she runs into it head first. And now she's on the hook to be admiral of said danger. At least she isn't doomed to tedium. As for fops, well. "Mantis-Queen of the Vhys Dockyards, y'mean?" Mantis was first meant as an insult too. Her insults often don't stay that way.

"Anyway, you've given me little to do this leg. I haven't had to do much instruction at all yet. Damn shame there isn't bad wind or a storm or..." Hanan pauses at the bottom of the steps. "Or a whale. I've heard the Orcas are gettin' angry off Chartsend. Keep goin' after boats. No deaths but expensive as hell. But they're Orcas, so their motive's likely havin' fun as much as anything else." She likes orcas. They have gumption. "Wonder if your kraken's got somethin' to do with that? Though wranglin' orcas might be beyond even him."

Hanan crosses the cabin to the little kitchenette. It's significantly less pineapple-y now, though she hasn't yet replaced all the little metal pineapple doorknobs. She's also replaced much of the furniture. There's a plush leather couch against the starboard bulkhead, obviously never meant for a ship, with a couple barrels in front of it serving as a table. Assorted other plain chairs are scattered about, none of them matching. She's set shelves right outside the door to her captain's quarters in the stern, full of various books. Most of them are pulp, with thicker ones on the bottom of nautical charts or ship diagrams. Bending to go through her little liquor cabinet, the sailor blinks, remembering something. "What'm I saying? You did have that wine. Me bein' covered in gore wasn't a dealbreaker before that, though... For all I know, you're immune." Her grin up at Quintessa over her shoulder is devilish. "And I'm certainly not. Especially to that herb of yours. Should I worry? Am I goin' to wake up with a curse?"


Quintessa likes the way 'Mantis-Queen' sounds. It invokes the image of someone that bites the heads off her enemies. Somehow she never took 'mantis' as an insult even in the very beginning, but now she hopes the name sticks. "Well, I for one am glad there isn't a storm right now..." Quintessa would be acting very differently right now if that were the case. "Don't even ask me to summon one." The knowledge that orcas had been attacking boats makes Quintessa uneasy– What if one comes after *her* yacht?

"I read that orcas and squids are mortal enemies... I hope they have not aligned against a common foe in us surface-dwellers." This would be the stuff of Quintessa's worst nightmares if krakens could indeed wrangle orcas. Another one of Quintessa's worst nightmares was poor interior design, and her hands might find themselves resting on her hips as she gives the room a judging once-over. She doesn't say anything about it, of course, instead allowing her gaze to catch Hanan's just as she throws a devilish grin at her.

The smirk on Quintessa's face is smug as she moves to close the distance between them, coming to stand next to Hanan so she can tower over her. "Oh, Hanan," she coos, a finger moving to rest just under the vampire's chin as she leans closer to speak in a hushed tone– hushed but dangerous. "If I ever place a curse on you, it will be because you begged me to do it." The smirk becomes a grin, flashing those pointed teeth of hers. "Now, where did you put my bag?"


Hanan, sinking to a knee to get elbow deep in her cabinet looking for good whiskey, snickers. "Kraken aren't squids any more than dragons are lizards, right? Don't tell the kraken I said that when I call him one." There, that bottle. "I saw that bastard havin' a gentle disagreement with a godsdamn literal crab. I doubt he'd have a fight with orcas before you would with a raccoon." And one of decent spiced rum. Not fancy, but it'll do.

She's still on the floor, the two bottles occupying her hands as she turns, when Quintessa catches her chin. Her brown eyes widen, her brows lift an inch, and she just stares up at the changeling's mismatched eyes and toothy grin. Cornered. She paints a confident fangy smirk on her face, but it's only half that--she also parts her lips slightly in a way that's distinctly vulnerable and entirely involuntary. She's disarmed.

"...hell?"

Hanan's not used to that. Her head's full of very noisy seagulls. They aren't unhappy.

She blinks, the question helping her come to her senses, and gestures toward the foot of the stairs that lead up to the top deck as she pushes to stand. "Down there, you walked right past it." Hanan carries the bottles to her very gauche but perfectly functional barrel table and goes back to the cupboard for a couple glasses. Still somewhat bewitched, she doesn't notice the little tortoiseshell kitten exit the captain's quarters, yawn, and wind luxuriously around Quintessa's ankles. "What'd you pack besides your herbs?"


Quintessa really, really likes the look on Hanan's face right now, but she doesn't comment on it, she just waits for an answer. Once she gets it, her finger slips from her chin and she slowly saunters away, continuing their conversation over her shoulder. "I'd call a dragon a lizard to his face, same for krakens and squids..." She returns with her bag, a hand reaching down to pet the cat as she circles around her ankles before the witch plops down on the plush leather couch.

"Oh, I packed a lot." Quintessa sets her bag on her lap and begins to pull things out: Her pipe, her cigarette case, and a box of herbs. "This bag is special. It's magic, obviously, and connects back to a chest I have in my office. Anything I put in there goes into a tiny pocket of space between the material realm and the shadow realm. This bag allows me to draw things from that space." She sets the bag down and begins to fiddle with her pipe and herbs, eyes flickering up to watch Hanan for a moment. "I have that leg in there too if you wanna look at it."


Hanan exhales when Quintessa releases her chin, paying a great deal of attention to the way she walks. She would have had to inhale in the first place to hold her breath, and she technically doesn't have to do that. Her nostrils flare, and she looks away, doing her best to play cool. Incredibly dangerous.

She returns with two crystal rocks glasses that are conspicuously fancier than just about everything else in the cabin. It's only then that she sees the little cat. "Ruttin' hell, Polly, you've been sleepin' this whole time haven't you? Don't climb into that bag and get lost." She stoops, scoops the kitten up with one hand, and deposits her on her shoulder. The cat immediately perches there and nuzzles Hanan's cheek. "I'm makin' you earn your keep soon as you're bigger than a mouse, hear me?" She says this while scratching the cat's chin, because this is how cats are disciplined: they aren't.

Hanan looks down at the bag with interest. She's encountered bags of holding or whatever name is in fashion for them now. Might be one of the only kinds of magic that she doesn't mock, it being so practical. "...didn't occur to me you'd bring one of those. I'd love to, but..." She points her chin down at the pipe. "Might not mix unless it's durable. I don't mind if you don't."


A smile flashes across Quintessa's face when she hears the name "Polly", watching as she nuzzles Hanan from her shoulder perch. "Ah, so she finally has a name!" Quintessa is genuinely glad to hear this. "Yes, stay out of this bag. If a cat gets lost in the In-Between then the entire universe is at risk." Quintessa isn't joking.

Before Quintessa lights her pipe, she pulls one last thing from her bag, the wooden prosthetic wrapped in white cotton cloth, and sets it on the couch next to her. "Oh, it's quite durable." The faint scent of adulterated grape, sweet and toxic, fills the air as she finally ignites the pipe with a snap of her fingers, taking a long, slow, drag. Any lingering anxiety she had was certainly gone now. Offering it to Hanan in exchange for one of the glasses, she exhales to the side before she continues speaking.

"But I don't expect you to actually put it on. It might not fit right, might be too short or too long. Might be too heavy, honestly, being solid wood but..." She brushes her dark fringe out of her eyes, tucking the longer strands behind her ears. "I want you to look at it, tell me if I'm on the right track. Tell me what you need from a leg to be as efficient as possible. Does this make sense?"


"Figured if she wants to act like a parrot..." Polly is quite at home by Hanan's cheek. "When she feels like bein' conscious she hops up there while I'm on helm. You hear her, cat? No takin' over the mysterious realm Tess uses as a closet." The cat purrs in her ear, then flops down with her front legs hanging over the front of Hanan's shoulder.

Hanan passes over a glass and happily takes the pipe, inhaling it deep and then turning to exhale in the opposite direction of the kitten. She's not a complete monster. Then she's immediately looking at the prosthetic with interest. "Makes sense... hang on." She drops onto the couch with the leg between them, passes the pipe back before unwrapping it. She examines it with great interest, lifting it up and turning it over. "You weren't kidding about it bein' heavy. Feels solid. What kind of wood is this?" She flicks her gaze back up, smiling. "Might stand up to claws. It's hard to tell what's too heavy without me tryin' it out. And too heavy for a light fighter like you might be perfect up on deck sailing. I need traction more than most." She bends a little, holding it up against her own prosthetic. "Did you carve this yourself?"


Quintessa checks to make sure her bag is closed, just in case, before taking the pipe back, allowing it to rest on her bottom lip as she watches Hanan unwrap the prototype leg. "It's made of Darkwood and treated with Ironwood shellac to make it as strong as steel." She pauses to take another drag from her pipe before passing it back, reaching forward to grip the ankle of the prosthetic. "I wanted it to be light but still durable, but the most important thing I wanted to include was articulated parts– joints that move similar to flesh and blood. See?" She begins to move the foot back and forth, crudely mimicking the movements of an actual ankle. "The issue is... Well, this is not flesh and blood, is it? I can perfectly replicate a leg in wooden form, but it will be just that. A piece of wood. Dead weight. A leg of sinew and muscles moves according to your whims, but this?" Quintessa shakes her head. "Without magic this will be a challenge– My greatest engineering challenge yet, perhaps."

Quintessa sits back, allowing Hanan to compare it against her current prosthetic, silently hoping she got the measurements right. "Oh, no, I didn't carve it myself," She admits, "I had it commissioned before I left for the Mermaid's Atoll. A doll maker, funny enough, but I am satisfied with his ability to produce what I need thus far."


"Doll maker, huh?" Hanan watches Quintessa work the joint, herself absentmindedly flexing her intact ankle as she does so. "Yeah, I don't know how that would even be..." She reaches forward and touches the wood. "Possible at all, frankly. Not at the size of a normal leg anyway. I could definitely walk around, wear a boot to cover it, it'd do just fine for just about anybody, but..." Not many one legged fencers. She's still decent but she knows she's not what she was.

She looks at it for some time. "It's beautiful, though, and you definitely got my measurements somehow..." She doesn't trust magic. But she does trust herself with a sword. And she trusts Tessa at least that much for now. She huffs, then curses under her breath. Next to her ear, Polly has begun to snore softly.

"We're goin' to be fighting slavers, right? If I have a regular peg for a backup maybe... Maybe we can try magic. If that won't spoil the engineerin' challenge for you?" She then sticks her hand out." I'm goin' to need that pipe again." If and when she gets it, she inhales for perhaps entirely too long, blows the air away from Quintessa and the cat, and plops deeper into the couch. "It would be nice to have two ankles again. If you're goin' to all this trouble."


"It's been more a matter of principle that has forbidden me from using magic so far rather than the challenge, though I do welcome it." Quintessa passes the pipe and she isn't picky about how long it takes to return. "I just knew a magical limb would make you uncomfortable, so I tried my best without using it." Her head sinks into the back of the couch, rotating slightly to face the vampire. "But that leg has more form and less function– which is not how I like to design things. Yes, it will look nice at a ball, we can put a fancy boot on it, polish it up nice, but that is not what legs are for. That peg is a more functional limb than what I've created, but it has taught me much regardless."

Quintessa nods her head slowly at the question of going after slavers and she watches Hanan's cloud drift away from them slowly. "Magic may be the only way to get your ankle back." The witch muses idly, mismatched eyes flickering down to look at her left wrist where the scar sliced right through it. Quintessa was perhaps motivated to surpass her own handicap as much as she wanted to help Hanan, but the entire situation had proven a good enough excuse to further her research on this subject regardless. Blue and hazel eyes return to the vampire with a smile. "I'm sure before the end of it I'll have designed a whole stack of backup peg legs for you to choose from." She holds her hand out, expectantly awaiting the pipe to be placed back in it. "But if we are using magic then that opens up so much for us. I can animate wood or metal, or attach some undead or alchemical-mutagenically spawned limb to replace it. We could even grow one from black-ice or some other magical material. The most straightforward approach, however, is to use runes to power the limb. I'll use metal to build a hollow exoskeleton, the same articulated parts as the wooden leg, but I'll use a band or something affixed to your flesh that will respond to your mental commands. It will take time for you to learn how to use such an artifact, but it is very doable, I think."


Hanan passes back the pipe when asked, then coughs abruptly. It surprises her into a laugh that becomes an outright giggle. "...did you make this stronger? You could sell this. You could fund your whole damn fleet." All of this of course startles Polly, who hisses briefly and then leaps off Hanan's shoulder to saunter back into the Captain's room.

"Anyhow I don't want a zombie limb. I don't want it to start shufflin' in the opposite direction from where I'm heading. Or make it easier for a necromancer to make me kick my own ass. And you're a damn necromancer, so--" Hanan starts laughing again. "No I trust you, just... Don't want that. I'm already a ruttin' vampire. The other stuff though, that's interesting. Especially the runes. I might be able to manage it. I... Hell." The intoxicated sailor turns toward her, limbs a little too loose, and reaches over to poke Quintessa's side. "You're goin' to convince me to learn a little magic, aren't you, Professor? Or at least artifacts. That's your fiendish plan. Get me all silly and then take advantage of me. Trick me into an education." Her wide foolish grin reaches her dark eyes, and she pokes again. "That's why you're bein' nice to me with the legs and all."


There might be a bit of a droop to Quintessa's eyes as she watches the kitten saunter away, a contagiousness in Hanan's giggle causing the black witch to start giggling too. "No, I didn't make it stronger." The truth was Quintessa was a very amateur botanist and the potency of her herbs was all over the place. "But maybe I will start selling it... Start a different kind of empire..."

Quintessa's torso bends away from the poke in vain, her pointy teeth spreading into a grin. "I do think you should learn a little bit of magic– Not casting spells, just learning how to use magical objects, like you said." Her second poke has Quintessa shifting on the couch, abandoning her pipe as she hunches down like a cat about to pounce. She crawls towards her, the dark fae's mischievous smirk growing as she looms ever closer. "Oh yes, that was my plan all along," Quintessa plays along, her hand already raised up to deflect a third poke. "And now you're so tangled in my web you'll never be able to escape."


Hanan's brows rise, and suddenly her grin is pointier at the canines. She likes that smirk. Likes that there could be actual menace behind it, even. She plays with fire. "Since when do mantises have webs? A spider would've surely wrapped me up by now." She turns more toward the changeling, now sitting almost totally sideways."I'm under the impression you're just considerin' biting my head off. That right? Won't be easy." Hanan feints with her right, only to immediately aim a second poke under Quintessa's guard. She has being a fencer in her favor, but being thoroughly high and co*cky working against her.


Quintessa's pose is very mantis-like at the moment, with her hands curved into hooks ready to strike. Hanan's feint proves too clever for the Mantis, though, and the vampire lands another poke under her guard like she planned– but Quintessa counter-attacks, catching Hanan's wrist with her hand before she can draw it back. "Hmm, maybe you're right."

Quintessa leans closer, her face next to the sailor's ear as her voice lowers into a whisper. "Maybe I am thinking about biting your head off," Her face tilts lower, her lips parting as she opens her mouth wide next to Hanan's neck, her rows of sharp teeth providing a silent promise that she would indeed bite her if she allowed it. Quintessa pauses here, however, idly finding humor in the situation. "I suppose you're usually on the opposite end of something like this? How the tables have turned..."


"Oh yeah?" Hanan pulls on her wrist, caught in the witch's clutches. Not an escape attempt so much as testing if that hold is genuine. She wants it to be far more than she'd bargained for. At the voice in her ear she grins, bracing her free hand behind her on the arm of the couch to keep them upright. "Watch it. I'll just sprout three more heads to mock y'with."

Her snark is sincere, but Hanan is not a good actress. Quintessa opens her warm mouth against the sailor's neck and she lets out a little gasp right next to the other's ear. Her laugh at herself right after is breathy and unguarded. The tables certainly have turned. "Ruttin' hell, nobody tries." The seagulls in her head caw loudly at her for letting herself say something like that but she hasn't been paying their profane warnings about saving face and being captain and what even happens if you let an unseelie do this kind of thing much heed. Instead she tilts her head a little more to the side, her neck exposed and inviting. "Unless you're hesitatin' because you're afraid you can't impress an expert?"


Quintessa's hold on Hanan's wrist is genuine, it'll take more than a test pull to escape from the clutches of the dreaded mantis. The idea of three more heads springing up doesn't seem to dissuade her either, a dark chuckle rumbling against the vampire's skin as Quintessa speaks again. "More heads for me to bite off."

The changeling grips Hanan's wrist tighter as if expecting a second escape attempt, this time proactively shifting her weight in an attempt to pin her to the couch. Quintessa likes that nobody ever tries this, it makes her feel special, like she's the only one capable of doing it. As Hanan tilts her head to the side, giving Quintessa a subtle invitation, the small gesture sets the dark fae aflame. This conflagration of her desires manifests itself as a small shiver as her mind goes blank, but she didn't need to think about what she was doing to know what she wanted. Before Hanan can even finish her taunt, the word 'afraid' triggers that animal part of the changeling's brain, causing her to unceremoniously close her eyes and sink her shark-like teeth into the cool flesh of the vampire's neck. No romantic gentleness, no sweet preparation, just the primal impulse to prove something to Hanan. Prove she wasn't scared. Prove that she was just as capable as she pretended to be. Quintessa's teeth were much sharper than an ordinary human however, and they easily break the skin, causing the fae woman to hum with delight as the coppery taste of vampire blood graces her tongue.


Hanan cant help a pleased little growl when she realizes Quintessa's holding her down and pinning her for real. Hanan should have figured, she lost the Titans duel in such a way that she had to be helped off the field. And she remembers how the black witch had openly enjoyed having bested her. She'd looked like a cat who just brought their person a canary trophy. "Y'got some nerve, I'm dangerous now, with more heads I'll be downright annoying."

Maybe she isn't the most dangerous one right now. She hadn't been intending her teasing to have quite that dramatic an effect. Even though Hanan can't see the witch's face she can sense the change in the way she moves. Before she can react properly, her clever quip gets caught in the back of her throat as she feels the sharp pain of teeth sinking in. This the vampire hadn't expected, for Quintessa to break the skin, for her to go that far. It's the best surprise yet. She hadn't even thought to ask, just kept eyeing those sharp teeth every time Tessa grinned at her. Her arm buckles a moment and she lets herself fall back onto the couch cushion. Those fingers end up digging into the changeling's hair, and she uses the back of the black sundress as a handle with her left, holding the Mantis menace against her. "Shyte, Tess." She inhales deep, voice strained. "Y'really did..." It's inarticulate but clear praise.


Quintessa certainly does like to win. She likes to surpass expectations and push boundaries. That's part of what makes this so exciting for her; She has no idea when she's going too far or what is permissible, she's just going for it, her inhibitions forgotten. Quintessa is a very gracious mantis, however, and instead of testing the theory that Hanan could grow more heads, she shows mercy and lets her keep the one she has.

A slight growl forms in Quintessa's throat as they both fall into the couch cushion, her teeth still sunk into the vampire's neck. She gives one last clench of her jaw before she releases Hanan, allowing the fingers that were digging into her hair to pull head inches away with a gasp. The black witch might look a little smug as she licks the remnants of blood from her lips, admiring the bite mark she had left on Hanan as she silently muses how she never imagined she'd get to bite a vampire before one bit her. It makes her reconsider her entire childhood obsession; Quintessa should have been looking at it like this the entire time.

"Of course I did," the changeling coos, her face slowly drifting over to Hanan's cheek, her lips brushing against her skin, "I told you I don't know how to hold back..." Quintessa's hand touches the captain's other cheek, the gentleness that was absent from her bite present now. "What else do you expect me to do when you challenge me so?" Quintessa doesn't need an answer, the question rhetorical, and as if to prove this point she turns Hanan's head to face her and brings their lips together into a forceful kiss.


Hanan starts to lean up when Quintessa lets go, fangs long and nearly snarling. It takes every bit of self discipline that the vampire posesses to see that smirk above her, stained with her own blood, and not immediately sate every single type of hunger she is experiencing. Perhaps she is more experienced than she gives herself credit for.

Hanan's still trying to school her fangs back to a more normal length when Quintessa kisses her cheek, and she's about to answer her question with something so filthy even seagulls couldn't drown it out when her head gets turned and she's pulled into that bloody kiss. She returns it just as aggressively, fingers now tugging Tessa's hair a bit hard. She doesn't remember wrapping one leg around the back of Tessa's knee but it's there now, and when the sailor finally breaks the kiss she presses their foreheads together. She doesn't attempt to unpin herself. This is a good place to be for now.

"...give a girl helm and she starts takin' liberties." Her voice is low and more than a bit shaky, lips brushing the other's. "I get how Vailkrin got fooled." Her neck still hurts but the rest of her is burning up enough that she doesn't really care. "...I need to challenge you more. I need to not stop challengin' you. I don't even remember the last time anyone--" She snickers. "And it's Mantis of all... You tell anyone I let myself get drugged and bit by someone who isn't even a vamp and liked it I'll..." She shakes her head slightly. "...make idle threats. Good luck gettin' rid of me now."


Quintessa isn't sure when she and Hanan got so tangled up together like this, but she's happy where she wound up. When the vampire reflects her aggressive energy right back at her, pulling her hair and extending the kiss a few more precious moments, Quintessa can't help but allow a low moan to muffle against their lips.

As they pull apart Quintessa's eyes flutter open, a girlish giggle in response to the words Hanan was saying as she bites her bottom lip. "Vailkrin was my opening act," The unseelie finally says, mischievousness in her eyes and voice again. "I'm only just getting started~" Both hands are on Hanan's face now, cupping each of her cheeks, staring so deeply into her umber irises that Quintessa must be trying to suck her soul out through them. "So keep challenging me. Keep pushing me all you want. I don't back down from anybody." She lets out another playful giggle, nuzzling Hanan's nose with her own affectionately. "Don't worry, your secrets are safe with the Mantis... but I'm not letting you go anywhere."


Hanan is in quite possibly the most danger she's faced since she got free of the mindflayers, all because the changeling is, in her eyes, being adorable. Tearing into her neck and then holding her face and nuzzling her nose? She's a vampire and a pirate, so having this taste isn't very surprising, but still. The eyes that look back into Quintessa's are warm. Still hungry, still predatory, but downright tender. She'd follow her into a maelstrom right now. She might even offer her soul. "I'll keep pushin' if you don't let me go, agreed?" Hanan tilts her head back and presses a kiss to the witch's brow. "But I'm goin' to bite you back. Not 'till we're somewhere I can call you a healer if it goes bad... But I'm doin' it." Strong words for a woman flat on her back under someone who has literally kicked her ass before. "I don't back down either. We survive each other and those slavers won't be around long enough to know whose killin' 'em, you glorious bitch."


Quintessa is a very strange creature of often conflicting natures, not unlike the kitten Hanan had adopted she was as vicious as she was amorous. That look in her brown eyes is exactly what the changeling was searching for, the warmth that was capable of setting her on fire. "I'm not letting you go." Quintessa repeats, unsure if she even could at this point. She knows she's put herself in a very difficult position playing with fire like this, but she's never been one to worry too much about consequences. Perhaps she should, but she likes the adoration far too much.

Quintessa nods her head quickly when Hanan says she's going to bite her, her mismatched eyes opening wide with excitement. "Yes," she whispers, "I'm ready for it." She swallows hard, unsure if she really is. She imagines the vampire's elongated fangs again, imagines the way it must feel to have those fangs buried into her neck, imagines her blood being drained from her body... Quintessa shivers again, her breath getting caught in her throat as her heart starts to beat even faster. "Any time. Any place. I'm yours."

A sinister chuckle follows Hanan's comment about killing slavers, especially when she refers to Quintessa as a 'glorious bitch', the title suiting her more than she expects. "That's right," With everything going on in her head right now the look in Quintessa's eyes must appear outright feral. "You giving me the confidence to face the ocean was like you opened Vakmatharas' Jar. The merchant princess," She places a hand to her chest, indicating that she was referring to herself, "And the cunning pirate captain." She then points to Hanan, the tip of her index touching just below her neck. "Together we're utterly unstoppable."


The way Quintessa points at her, calls her cunning. Says she won't let go. Looks at her. It has to be too good to be true, right? Not even this talk of the future but the now. Less than a year ago Hanan was wretch in a dungeon, before that unspeakable tortures, before that constant running. Now there's a girl she finds beguiling lying on top of her and telling her sweet things. This might be one of those dreams she has that start nice but end with her waking up screaming.

Suddenly Hanan can't look at Tessa. She can't handle seeing her face, hearing those words, and feeling that heartbeat right against her without giving in. She is a woman with two natures which, while not always at odds, can be poor roommates. She is an apex predator whose instinct is to hunt and conquer and devour. An utter nightmare. She is also a softhearted and loyal person who needs to help her chosen crew and belong to somebody who wants her, who enjoys being bested. She is, like a recently domesticated wolf, a dangerous dumbass. The worst part is that she sometimes knows it. So she leans back, eyes closed, and just holds Quintessa close.

"Gods I love hearin' you say that. But no. First, because any time any place would mean right now. I can't let myself do that to you." Fangs biting so easily into her neck, she could do it in an instant and it would be heaven. No. Keep those eyes closed. "I'm goin' to keep you safe, Mantis. You promise me you'll say stop or not now or whatever suits. Mantises can get squished, y'hear me?" Eyes squeezed shut, she holds up her pinky. "Swear it."


Quintessa might tilt her head slightly in concern whenever Hanan can no longer meet her gaze, but the request that follows provides all the explanation she needed. The Captain wanted another promise, this one sealed by their pinkies. Perhaps not used to being on the receiving end of being lured into a pinky swear, Quintessa hesitates for a moment. Her instinct is to wonder if this was some sort of trap, but she quickly reminds herself that she's the one who does that to people, not the other way around. Hanan's declaration to protect her sounds genuine, she has no reason to doubt her.

A smile returns, small but confident, an almost cold edge to her tone that meant she was taking this seriously. A pinky extends, coming close to Hanan's as she grants the captain what she wants. "I vow to thee," Quintessa begins, the magic in her aura visibly present this time as she makes this oath, "While you protect me, I will in turn protect myself from you. I will not allow myself to be drawn into your dark undertow. My death is forbidden." Before she wraps her pinky around Hanan's, however, she pulls away an inch, her brow furrowing as she adds her part of their bargain. "But in exchange, I need your promise; Shall the worst come to pass and my part of the oath broken, you cannot allow my mind to expire." She swallows hard, secretly terrified to even have to make a preparation like this one. "You must turn me. You cannot allow me to die, do you understand?"


Hanan's eyes crack open, crinkled at the edges, as she watches the witch craft her oath. Even she can catch that aura, and she understands what it must mean. She doesn't shy away from it, for once. She's curious. "I have an undertow?" The sailor can't help the comment or the sharp smirk that curves her lips.

Her nostrils flare a moment at Quintessa's request. Surprise. Can she even turn someone with the changeling's blood? Her brow is knit, and she looks deeply into those heterochromic eyes. There's fear there enough to give her pause. She doesn't mention it. "Of course." But then Hanan shakes her head. "But you make me another one. If I have to do that you don't hold it against me when I carry you right to the necromancers and get help reversin' it." She'd never thought of such a thing until Khitti had dropped the cannonball that she is, somehow, a former vampire. "You don't want this life." The grin creeps back onto her face. "...and none of that has to happen, okay? I sure liked you not askin' permission straight out but I will. I promise you." She wiggles her pinky a little. "Agreed?"


Quintessa allows a smirk to break her serious expression as Hanan asks about her undertow. "Aye, and your powerful current is easy to get swept up in." She is about to wrap their fingers together the moment the vampire says 'of course' but the addendum gives her pause yet again. She lets Hanan finish speaking, a slow nod of her head following along, their minds seemingly already thinking about the same solution.

"I promise not to hold it against you– It'll be merely a temporary measure in case of an emergency, because you're right, I do not wish to be a vampire... " Quintessa doesn't have to explain why, Hanan would already know many of the reasons anyway. "Agreed, none of this has to happen, it's just... A precaution." As Hanan wiggles her pinky at her, Quintessa finds herself returning her grin, slowly moving her finger to hook around hers. The magic lingering around her surges briefly, locking Quintessa, and perhaps also Hanan, into the pact. "I promise."


Hanan rolls her eyes at the current comment. "Godsdamn flirt." But her smirk softens. It's nice to be talked about that way, and she doesn't get it much until lately. Her pinky finger flexes as she feels a tingle in it, the pact that she'd suggested locking in: she'd ask before biting. Now she'd be compelled to. She generally would anyway, if not hunting, but with Quintessa she'd actually worried. The changeling made her feel feral, with that bite and those looks. She generally isn't so tempted by someone she cares for. She leans up on her elbow, tugs the Quintessa's hand to her lips, and kisses her knuckles once more. "I'm glad you don't. You deserve better than this sorta life." Her eyes grow a little sad at that. What could the sailor have been, had she never turned? Most likely a corpse within that first year, but still...

She's got to shake off that melancholy. "Anyway: got you." The realization makes Hanan's grin broad and fangy once more. "Got you good. I didn't beg for that one, did I?" Not much of a victory considering it's still a literal fae pact but she'll take it. She tilts her neck a little. It's a bloody mess, staining the collar of her shirt and her nice vest, but the wounds beneath are already starting to close. "This is stupid but I've gotta ask: does my blood taste good? I mean, to someone who doesn't have fangs. I have no idea what that's like for someone who ain't like me. Does it do anything, or are you just... chompy?" What an awkward question. Almost makes her feel girlish. She laughs a little, self-conscious, then looks away at anything but Quintessa's face. She lands on her quarters door, where her bed is. No, that doesn't really help her situation at all.. "...not sure if I should smoke more. I'm supposed to be trainin' you, not gettin' debauched by you."


Quintessa's expression is a tiny bit smug as Hanan calls her a flirt, biting her bottom lip when she brings the changeling's hand to her lips and kisses her knuckles. She'll never get tired of that. The smugness on her face fades quickly, however, her smile turning bittersweet as Hanan claims Tessa deserves better than life as a vampire. She wonders if it's true, if she really does deserve better or if the path she had chosen to walk down instead was worse. Her ultimate goal is still immortality, she just considers vampirism a crude way to achieve such a goal, but wouldn't life as a Night Hag actually be much more wicked and isolating? She considers for a moment if giving up her bloodline magic would be worth it, but she quickly decides she'd rather die than give up that part of herself.

Quintessa's gaze refocuses on Hanan when she reveals that she had tricked the dark fae, a look of disbelief filling her blue and hazel eyes as her jaw drops. "Oh no... You've... you've bested me." She's devastated at first, but then she's proud to be beaten at her own game, her mischievous energy returning as she grins. "I admit defeat... for now." The question about what Hanan's blood tastes like brings a tilt to her head as she thinks, her eyes flicking up at the ceiling as if she'd find the words to describe it up there.

"I enjoy the taste of blood," Quintessa admits, "But I'm not sure if I could tell the difference between one type or the other." She gives herself a once over before shrugging lightly, shaking her head at Hanan. "I don't feel any different after I drink blood– not that I had that much of yours, I, uh... I just like the feeling of biting. I don't know, I can't explain it. Sometimes I just wanna bite stuff..." Quintessa follows Hanan's eyes to the door to her quarters, and she raises an eyebrow at the captain slyly. "Oh yeah? Got some 'special training' for me?" A dangerous luster flashes in her eyes again as she leans closer, like a cat that has cornered a canary. "Exactly who is debauching who again?"


"Get used to admittin' defeat, it'll happen a lot." Hanan pushes herself up a bit more, then scoots back to lean her back against the couch arm. Still rather cornered, not quite so horizontal. "Just remember how much I like you when I win our next fight, 'cause I won't seem respectful." She tries to smooth some of her hair, half fallen out of her tie. Her efforts do nothing. "I should've figured as much. About the blood I mean. Just thought... I don't know. Necromancers do weird things and you really bit me with... Gusto." She is going to have trouble getting the image of bloody lips out of her mind. "But that doesn't surprise me at all. You don't have teeth like that if you don't use 'em. I'm not complainin' one bit. Do that any damn time." She pulls a little at her bloodstained collar and meets Quintessa's gaze again, eyes narrowed deviously. "Good luck doin' it discreetly though. You're messy."

Hanan follows Tessa following her gaze to the door, then looks back to her. "I'm not sure I can train someone who's already got skills, but I'm always willin' to participate in a conference, Professor." She wiggles her eyebrows. "But if I recall you're the one who gives girls herbs, so..." She snickers and starts pushing herself up. "If you want... You can go in there and move Polly. I should check things out topside before we bed down."


"Oh? Is that so?" The idea of having to admit defeat again, and often, draws a dark chuckle from Quintessa. "If you beat me I want you to walk all over me. What use is respect in a moment like that?" The subject of Hanan's blood reminds her of the lingering taste in her mouth, and the open invitation causes her to eye-up the other side of the vampire's neck hungrily. Quintessa allows the temptation to abate, however, a slight shrug of her shoulders when Hanan speaks of the strange things necromancer's are known for.

"I suppose I'm not that devoted of a necromancer," A modest lie, but not one that was unfounded. Save for shadow-magic and poisons, Quintessa was a rather lackluster necromancer compared to her peers. "I was always a better spellblade." This statement was far more true, Quintessa's true passion in magic being how to best translate it into direct violence. "The messy side of magic, the real messy side. The side so messy that they didn't even used to let us into the Mage's Guild– too uncouth. They had standards."

The idea of bedding down for the night sounds like a good idea to the changeling, and not just because she was motivated for other reasons. She had learned a lot today and she wanted to ruminate on it for a bit in the dream realm. Quintessa's eyes flicker over to Hanan's quarters once more before she sits back on the opposite arm of the couch, lithe fingers beginning to unlace her boots. The comment that Quintessa was a skilled partner however, draws a blush to her cheeks, though the changeling tries to hide it behind a nonchalant laugh. "Heh, well I take that as high praise, even if I do have to rely on herbs." She leaves her boots next to the couch as she stands and saunters slowly in the direction of the captain's quarters, an unsure glance over her shoulder at the vampire as the uncomfortable thought of being alone causes her anxiety to bubble up again. She halts with a hand on the door, trying to keep her lips from turning downward into a frown as she asks a single question. "...Will it take long?"


Hanan quirks a single brow. "Well, the way you talk about want'n me to walk all over you, now I have to worry you might let me win." She snickers as she shifts to sit a bit more normally again. While Quintessa is unlacing her boots, Hanan is readjusting and rebuckling her prosthetic, which had gone more than a bit askew. "And like hell you're 'not that devoted,' don't you teach in that school? Pretty sure you aren't runnin' calisthenics classes over there." Hanan, of course, has little idea what she's talking about, but she's confident enough to voice it anyway. She looks sidelong as the witch blushes, then shakes her head with a smile.

She stretches when she pushes to stand, scratches the back of her neck, gives her a nod at the question about her checking. "Not long. I'm just makin' sure it's as we left it. Have to tie down the sails a bit firmer too, I'm sure. I was all distracted comin' down here, which I'm sure you know ain't all my fault. Don't let Polly fight you off, there's a little hammock in the corner she can snooze in if she refuses to leave." She taps two fingers to her temple in a little salute, then mounts the steps.

Down below it's easy to hear her moving up there, what with the wooden leg. If Quintessa listens she'll hear Hanan making her way up and down the deck, then stopping for a few long moments, then moving more quickly, then silence. In truth what was meant to be several minutes turns into about twenty minutes. When she makes her way back down the steps and to the door of her quarters, she's somehow even more disheveled--hair half out of her ponytail, shirt sleeves pushed up, fancy albeit bloodstained vest undone. "...got to brief you on something." She points her chin at one of the portholes by her bed. "Clouds are rollin' in fast on the horizon. Weather's turnin'. Doesn't look unsafe at all but... mornin' will be rainy and windier. Had to scope that out and pull down the awnings, and... s'not important now." She leans her forearm on the door frame and shrugs. "If I sail us through the night we'll likely beat it to port. You can sleep down here, it's fine. Or we stay as planned and see what it's like around sunrise." She turns away from the window and catches Quintessa's eyes. "I'm captain but I'm askin' you what you can handle. Y'wanna sleep alone in calm or wake up in chop?"


Quintessa laughs at the idea of letting Hanan win with a slight shake of her head. "Oh, absolutely not. You'll have to earn the honor." That doesn't mean she doesn't want it to happen though, but she'd never make it easy. She grins at the idea of teaching calisthenics though, that wasn't far off from what her job used to be in the Mage's Guild. "I teach potions," Quintessa says as if it doesn't mean anything, as if she didn't view it as much of an accomplishment at all. Her own words seem to hurt her as the grin fades away as she shakes her head again, "That hardly makes me Joliette Thorne..." Quintesas doesn't wish to dampen the mood with her thoughts of academic inadequacy though, so she shoves them back into the little compartment in her mind she created for them. "Aye, Captain." She feels her smile return as she mimics Hanan's salute before then turns back to deal with Polly, already a "Pspspspspspspsps," leaving her lips.

The twenty minutes pass surprisingly quickly for Quintessa, her and Polly's eyes following the sounds of the pirate's peg leg above for at least five minutes before the kitten got bored and fell asleep again. Quintessa was not so tired. Truth was she could never sleep on a ship; She just hides under her blankets for a few hours until it's time to come out. She's not hiding when Hanan finally comes down to give her a briefing, though the feeling of dread that the captain's words bring her tempts her to do just that. Instead Quintessa turns away from Hanan and presses her face against the porthole, searching for the Harpy's Claw, though from this angle she cannot see it. "Selene, give us mercy..." The witch mutters before turning back to the vampire.

"Well," Quintessa has a lot to consider. "'Chop' doesn't sound so bad... " She begins to anxiously tug at her bottom lip as she thinks. "I'm going to hate it but... Perhaps the exposure will be good for me?" Mismatched eyes flicker up to Hanan, searching for advice. She honestly doesn't know what would be the best choice. "It'll still be safe, yes? You wouldn't let me make an unsafe decision, right?" She crawls a bit closer on the bed, all the way up to the edge nearest to the door. "I want you down here but if you need to be up there don't let me distract you. I mean it."


Hanan was about to say something kind about how potions are actually rather impressive when that name comes up and she abruptly barks a laugh before going up. "You're damn LUCKY you ain't her, she's ruttin' crazy." And then she was gone.

Now she's back, leaning on the doorframe, watching Tessa look out the porthole. The Claw is a little pink, but Hanan doesn't tell her that. A little pink should be fine, she's sure of it. "'Chop' won't be that bad at all. I just know you're..." Her voice trails off. "And no, I wouldn't let you make an unsafe decision but even if I didn't give a damn it's my own ship, I'm not goin' to put her in danger either. We should be alright."

She tilts her head a little as Quintessa crawls closer, her lips starting to curve upward again at one corner. This isn't a large ship, meant for only several people, so the bed takes up the majority of her quarters at the stern. There are some cupboards along the ceiling for storage, a couple shelves serving as side tables and just enough space to move about, the portholes, and that's it. Therefore Hanan doesn't have to leave the doorway to bend just a bit, hook her finger under the changeling's chin, and lean in to answer her with a kiss. Turnabout's fair play. "You're not goin' to distract me any more than I want to let you, cabin girl. I'm stayin', don't worry." She presses another kiss, then steps in just enough to kick the door mostly closed behind her.. "If only because you having a nightmare might make an actual storm happen, right?" She pokes her in the side, then starts unbuckling her leg. "Or you might figure out a way to beat me in the next duel after all. Can't give you private schemin' space." She sets the leg on the deck by her side of the bed, near where her crutch leans against the wall. "...or if you just don't wanna be alone. As I might scheme, of course."


Quintessa doesn't comment about Joliette being insane. If Hanan knew who she was then her reputation spoke for itself. It was all better left unsaid anyway, just like the knowledge of the Claw's pink tint. Quintessa was certainly better off without those details, the presence of the captain back in her quarters being all she needs to set her mind at ease. Hanan's words soothe her most, however, fully believing that the pirate would never intentionally put her ship in jeopardy, least of all just to keep her company.

Quintessa is about to respond when Hanan reaches out to hook her chin, every word in her vocabulary swiftly stolen from her as the vampire turns the tables and places a kiss on her lips. The move leaves Quintessa in a daze, helpless when a second kiss is pressed against her, leaving the changeling blinking in silence like an idiot. "I... I..." The poke to her side is what finally brings her mind out of the clouds, a slight smile still on her face when she finally recalls the Common Tongue.

"I am prone to nightmares," Quintessa admits, "But none should summon a storm– a specter or banshee perhaps, but not a storm." The changeling shifts to hug Hanan from behind as she puts away her leg, resting her chin on the sailor's shoulder before she continues speaking. "Mmm. Scheme all you want," The subtle challenge seems to have reinvigorated the black witch. "You're gonna need it."


Making Quintessa flustered is becoming one of Hanan's favorite activities. She has a goofy, co*cky grin while she sits there messing around with her prosthetic, which is a big shift in and of itself. She still doesn't understand why someone like the black witch is giving her the time of day.

Her body shifts upward with quick chuckle when she's hugged from behind. Hanan turns her head slightly, her cheek brushing Quintessa's. "You realize your dreams gettin' my ship haunted is worse than a storm, right? I know what to do with a storm. I have no idea how to entertain a specter." It's nice, being held like this. Maybe it's okay that the changeling is taller. She leans a little more of her weight back against her. "I... did get nightmares before the Kraken, might again. I wake up screamin'." It got her kicked out of her room at the Broken Barrel when she first resurfaced. "...but that'd only sound like a banshee. Don't share that though, right?"

Abruptly, the sailor reaches behind and tussles Quintessa's hair mercilessly. "Anyhow, Darlin', you might wish you had a banshee's help if you're challengin' me. I've been doin' this well by the seat of my pants. You wouldn't survive me scheming."


Quintessa honestly doesn't understand why she likes Hanan so much either. When she's alone she wonders about it though, imagining it being her adventurous nature, or her confidence, or her insufferable habit of always wanting to challenge her. Sometimes she imagines her interest in Hanan is more carnal and lustful instead, perhaps fancying the color of her eyes most, something which reminds the changeling of home, of the dark brown wood of the trees that always comforted her. Perhaps instead it's her impressive physical shape from constantly manning a ship by herself, or her dexterity and skill with a blade, or her accent, coarse and unrefined. Quintessa doesn't think about it much when they are actually together though, since enjoying Hanan's company comes so easily for her.

"Don't worry, if I get your ship haunted I can fix it. It wouldn't be my first exorcism." Quintessa brushes her cheek against Hanan's, similar to a cat leaving its scent on someone. She's a little surprised to hear Hanan admit to having nightmares– not surprised that she has them, but surprised that she'd admit it to her. "I won't tell," Quintessa promises, "I understand. I used to wake up screaming too after..." She shakes her head, "It's better people don't know that about us. They might confuse it for weakness, right?" Quintessa is very strongly motivated for neither of them to appear weak.

Quintessa unwraps her arms from around Hanan as she tussles her hair, trying to escape her as she slinks away to the other side of the bed. "You know I could have literally summoned a banshee to fight for me during our duel, right?" She settles near the pillows, a smug expression on her face as they begin to discuss challenging one another. "Oh, I was counting on you not scheming much against me the first time. I knew you would underestimate me: Everyone does. Not me though. I asked everyone about you and calculated the perfect way to fight a "vampire swashbuckler". The dragon's blood, the fire, the use of force to overwhelm your superior agility, it was all very much the product of my scheming." A slow grin begins to form as she speaks, proud of herself for her plot to defeat Hanan actually working. "I'm fairly certain I can survive anything you throw at me, but you certainly better come up with something or else you'll never beat me."


Hanan had already had similar thoughts, and decided there are two options. First, that she has a type, and the type is dark haired women who are more organized than her and like to be in charge of things. She rues this. It's inconvenient. The second option, possibly more likely, is that she's a complete sucker for people who are not only willing to fight her but are capable of winning. It would not be the first time she'd gone after someone who'd thoroughly kicked her ass. It's one of the reasons she ended up with fangs. Third was, well, Hanan thought she was pretty. Tall with quick eyes and that grin. Clever as hell. She'd been captivated by the weird floating witch when she'd encountered her in the library, hovering about in a way she'd been compelled to pay attention to and mock despite incredibly stressful goings on, speaking so proper and acting so like that. If the sailor had been honest with herself, she likely would admit that part of the reason she'd stomped up to the office in Vhys had been that the witch was interesting, and that interesting is rare. Of course she'd never expected to get here, watching Quintessa move to the other side of the bed in her quarters and talk in that damned educated manner of hers about Hanan's own weaknesses and that she herself would be sitting there, near the door, amused by it.

"You thought of me as a 'swashbuckler?' I'm damn flattered. Better'n most would call me." She unbuttons her bloody waistcoat and tosses it aside, then crawls to the head of the bed. "You're wrong though. I misjudged you. I didn't underestimate you. I knew I was the underdog in that fight. I just figured you'd be floatin' up and raining thunderbolts from on high. I didn't get too co*cky until the mages put a ceiling on us." And then she'd been incredibly so. "I thought you'd be relyin' far more on magic than your sword. Which was silly, granted." She'd flirted with the witch over swords. "But I didn't think you were less than terrifyin'. I just didn't care." She flops down on her side, head on a pillow, facing Quintessa and trying to lock those mismatched eyes to her own. "That's the difference between you and me. You come up with plans. I improvise. I don't need to come up with something, Professor. I'm the something the other one has to make plans for. Anyway, you ticklish?" With no further warning, quick as a rapier thrust, she jabs her fingers into Quintessa's side and tests her theory mercilessly.


Quintessa's love language is very much violence, so it shouldn't be any surprise to anyone that someone willing to rise to the challenge and match the changeling's violent energy would immediately catch her attention. It was everything else about Hanan that managed to hold it. Few people could look at Quintessa and find the courage to speak to her like the pirate had, even fewer could cut through the changeling's facade and treat her like a real person, like the little street urchin she used to be. None of this was calculated in her schemes, however, it's just been something that happened. Something she failed to foresee.

"Yes, a swashbuckler," Quintessa repeats with a giggle, "You said you were a fencer. I saw a tiny glimpse of your footwork in the library, plus you have a missing limb, so that means you are no stranger to combat." An assumption, perhaps, not having any idea the details behind how she actually lost it. She pauses, watching Hanan unbutton her waistcoat before she clears her throat and continues. "So I counted on you being a better swordsman than myself... still, I had to meet blades with you. I couldn't resist." Quintessa settles onto a pillow as Hanan does, locking their gazes as if she could tell what the vampire was thinking. She smiles wide, a light blush rising to her pale cheeks as Hanan describes her as terrifying, probably the best compliment you could give someone who liked being called "The Monster of Black Pond" at one point in her life.

"You certainly are something I have to plan for..." And then the vampire makes good on her word and forces Quintessa to react to the chaos that was Captain Hanan. Before her brain even has time to register what she's said, Quintessa can feel fingers in her side, drawing out a loud, uncontrollable chortle from the dark fae as she does the best she can to defend herself. "Ack! No! You knave–" She struggles to get out between her laughter, pushing against Hanan's fingers as she tries desperately to protect her squishy underbelly.


Hanan stiffens when Quintessa voices her assumption about how she lost her leg. It wasn't combat, nor an accident. It's usually the memory that gives her those nightmares. She swallows momentary anger--no reason for it, how would Tessa know?--and instead says: "Buckle swashed it right off. Known occupational hazard."

She's quickly distracted from the awkwardness and the phantom pain in her leg by the snap idea to tickle the witch and the absolutely delightful sounds she gets in response. Her right hand is pushed away so she counters with her left. She isn't totally merciless though. Eventually she rolls over, grabs one of Quintessa's wrists, pins it lightly to the pillow above her head, then: "I'll show you knave, fair damsel--"

It's right then that the first clap of thunder sounds. Distant, but impossible to miss. Soon after the first raindrops patter against the windowpane. Hanan leans back, looks reflexively toward the porthole, then back down at the changeling, suddenly concerned. "You alright? We can just..." Her voice trails off. "Sleep, if you want."


Quintessa might notice the slight shift in Hanan as she swallows her anger, but she certainly isn't going to ask about it now. She couldn't even if she wanted to, still laughing as Hanan pins her wrist above her head, slightly turning her head away in mock shame. Quintessa was more than happy to play the role of hapless damsel, though the look of shock in her eyes is very real when the clap of thunder alerts her to the storm that was catching up to them. "...Already?" She asks the rain itself in a breathy huff, annoyed at its timing. Quintessa's blue and hazel eyes have a slight tinge of fear in them when they find Hanan again, but the witch still shakes her head.

"No, I..." Quintessa can't help but think of the song she sang for Hanan only a few weeks ago, 'Please don't make me go to sleep, in all my dreams I drown.' She had promised to warm the captain's cot and mop her cabin floors, and now the situation hinted at in her song was unfolding before her eyes. "I sorta like it better this way..."


Hanan nods her understanding. "Well... I'll have to be very distracting." She winks devilishly, then leans down to kiss Quintessa's lips, the side of her neck, her shoulder...

Some time later Hanan is still awake. Blankets pulled up and hand cradling her own disheveled head as she lays on her back, the captain peers toward the porthole with silent concern. The rain was supposed to be mild. It isn't letting up, now a rapid fire patter on the deck above them punctuated with occasional loud thunder. The ship isn't rocking wildly yet, but the up and down movement is much more noticable than before. This is fine for Hanan, a skilled sailor confident this storm is no match for her ship, but she isn't alone and bears the guilt of being the one who said it looked calm, damn her. She turns slightly to check on Quintessa, then looks back to the window, resuming her watch. She'll likely not sleep tonight.


Quintessa is thankful for the distraction; there's no way she would have managed without it. In the waking world the black witch could put on a brave face for Hanan, but while she slept her fears would always come home to roost. She shivers despite the blankets around her, clutching to anything she can. She mutters words not spoken in common, words of a language Quintessa often used for magic yet these words did not stir the weave as they normally did. "Gwaed fy ngwaed," she whispers, "Nain fawr y du..." She doesn't scream, however, for it is a very quiet panic that seems to have seized her. "I’m sorry, Halbera-” she continues, this time in a language Hanan could understand, though now she's speaking nonsense. “I won’t do it again, I promise- I just wanted to read your spellbook- I didn’t mean to get it dirty…” Strange words, but no banshees yet, so some good news at least. That would certainly make Hanan's long watch a lot more interesting though.


Hanan had definitely noticed the clutching, it was difficult not to do so. The talking startles her a bit until she realizes that the cadence is nothing like spellcasting. She lets her attention drift back to the porthole, giving the other space, until Quintessa shifts to a language she can understand. She doesn't turn back at first, but her brow knits the more she hears. That sounds like something from childhood, maybe.

Those are the worst. Hanan can't just ignore it, and not only because she does half believe the thing about spectres.

She takes one last look at the porthole, reminds herself that she can't actually tell anything from it lying on her back anyway, and turns to wrap an arm around the changeling. The rain, to the sailor, is pleasant white noise, and the rocking of the ship soothing. Is it possible to somehow convey that through body contact? Probably not. "Ssh. You're alright."


"Don't..." Quintessa starts to speak more but Hanan's words soothe her enough that she abandons them, the arm around her shoulder calming the shivers that once overtook her body. "I... Auntie?" Quintessa's head shoots up as she frantically looks around, eyes half-closed settling on Hanan briefly before she collapses back where she was, never truly awake. "...we can't swim in the Black Pond..." Whatever nightmare Quintessa is having soon abates, however, the worried lines in her face slowly smoothing out into that placid, emotionless mask of hers as her eyes finally stop moving under their lids. So long as nothing wakes Quintessa up, Hanan's efforts will have bought a few hours of calm at least. The storm outside the ship, however, is another issue.


Hanan stays there for what she guesses is a half hour, not sleeping, until she's restless again. Once satisfied that Quintessa isn't going to pop up like a frightened crab again she slowly, carefully, slides her arm out and away, sits up, and pulls on an old sweater. Then up and into the kitchenette, where she fills an old mug with some much needed bloodwine and an old book, then back to her cabin.

Polly has already taken her place, curled up in a ball right against Quintessa on the pillow, eyes open and glaring a challenge at the captain. Hanan sighs, waves at her dismissively, then sits watch perched at the end of the bed. Hours pass like this, the weather resolute in not changing a bit.

RP:Sailing Lessons - HollowWiki (2024)
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