BY INVITATION ONLY Prologue: The Abduction

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#1
Days of wind stillness made Eloise restless. They worried the young stag who was used to winds blowing in her ears at all times and for the voices to surround her. Her constant companions through everything she did and thought, but absent now. Absent except from a small lull that she sometimes caught whenever she rushed herself, or whenever she stuck her head out of the carriage when riding. Both actions she got severely reprimanded for constantly.

However, the lull she caught had something foreboding. There was a bitter mystery that clung to it, a tragedy that instilled a fear within Eloise’s heart. Had she made the wrong choice? Were they warning her for a mistake? The female was unsure and decided to ignore the lull. The silence was welcome and perhaps she would find learn how to listen to the wind even when it wasn’t there.

Feeling the carriage stop the girl blinked herself out of her thoughts, wondering what the reason was for the sudden pause.

“Have we arrived?” she called out from her compartment, pushing the curtain to the side to check.

Silence. In front of her the capable back of her escort was missing as well.

“What is going on?” the girl asked, suddenly alert as her usually whimsical smiled faded. Was this what the wind was trying to tell her?

Climbing out of her comfort the lady didn’t care for the mud below her, worry struck on her face as she realised she was all alone with the horses tied to her carriage having stopped to graze.

A figure snuck up behind her, blindfolding the highborn.



“Who is this?”

The question had been repeated over the course of her abduction. Tied up the female was forced back into her carriage, her abductor bidding for the horses to move again. No answer was given. No word exchanged and Eloise found herself falling into an anxious race of thoughts as well as panic.

“What do you want?”

It was another question that was never answered. However, Eloise wouldn’t be the mischievous Baratheon if she sat still and allowed this to happen. Wriggling her hands the female tried the ropes. She wasn’t afraid of darkness, knowing it was something her brother had to face everyday. Eloise had trained herself to find her way around blind as well, though not in the same adeptness as her brother was known for. However, now that she was taken to an unfamiliar place she knew she needed her sight.

Leaning over she rubbed the blindfold off her face. The fabric of her skirt bruised and irritated the skin of her face, but Eloise paid it no mind as she succeeded in her task just before the carriage stopped. Breathing in sharply the Baratheon lady held in her breath to listen what would happen next, her mind whirring to plan out what she was going to do.

“Yes, I have her bound,” she heard a man speak, presumably her abductor. “Unharmed.” The stern voice was familiar, which hurt Eloise all the more.

“Good, you will receive your payment once she is loaded up and gone.”

The second mystery person sounded gruff and disgusted. It sounded polished, like that of a highborn and arrogant. As if he believed himself to be above to actually interact and dabble himself into this murky business, but yet not with enough pride to go low enough to think of Eloise a threat. Panic welled up even higher as the Baratheon realised what was going on, wondering when and where she had made such malicious enemies.

Realising that this was probably her only chance to escape Eloise slowly got up from her place sliding herself out of the carriage into the mud. Holding her breath she counted the seconds before daring to move again, congratulating for slipping out without garnering any attention.

The voices of her captors weren’t far away, making the girl curious enough to take a small peek as to reveal their identity.

“It was quite easy to convince them that I was in charge of her escort,” her abductor spoke, a hint of smugness in his voice. “I’m after all part of the family that has her sent away.”

Freezing Eloise gulped, praying that it wasn’t true. Peeking over she prayed to be proven wrong, but couldn’t hold back the gasp when she saw the sigil on the back.

“Anyway, they are fools for trusting this kid and her—“ stopping mid-sentence her captors heard her gasp, whipping around for a look.

Eloise hid out of sight holding her breath once more. When she heard the men resume their conversation she quietly made her way into the opposite direction, praying that they were near any form of civilisation.

Once the girl passed the carriage she made a bolt for it into the horizon. Not too soon after her captors made chase for her as well, shouting at each other as she heard them run.

Recognising the harbour to Essos Eloise kept her gaze focussed and thanked the gods for her nimbleness, hoping that she was fast enough even with her arms bound.

“Help!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, praying for anyone to hear her. From behind she heard the squelching sounds of footsteps in the mud before a heavy body crashed into her. The impact with the mud was great. Feeling the air being knocked out of her she felt something hard hit the side of her head. Unsure if it was a stone or a fist all Eloise could think of was the Lannister sigil on the back of her captor before she passed out.

Why?

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Ritual Lobotomy

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#2

So close. She was so close to retrieve it, and then the man got off her, leaving her short of the key and...other pleasures. Not like he was particularly good at latter, but one worked with what they had. Once his name was summoned from the outside of his cabin, he did not look back and quite frankly, Zea of Lys felt somewhat insulted. Groaning in annoyance, the raven-haired woman rolled on her side and sat back up on the bed, looking at the shackles constricting her wrists, and already leaving an ugly red mark underneath the rough metal, testing how narrow can her slender arm go. Close enough, but not quite there, Zea hissed and swore under his breath when metal scratched her already irritated skin and made her wince.

"Damn it...", she spat out and darted up, pacing up and down in the cabin as the voices shouted out in Common Tongue on the outside. After being ignored for what seemed to be an eternity, she kicked the door in annoyance, hard enough to have herself stumble back slightly as it kicked her off balance. "Are you seriously won't even let me have a bloody piss in a fucking bush?!", she shouted out through the worn out wooden door, just to be ignored again. "Hey! Let me the hell out!", she persisted in banging at the door with the palm of her hand and shouting, however, her face remained unfazed. It was not the first and probably not the last time they thought it would be fun for her to lose her mind over it first. Except that she didn't. "Let me the hell out or I will just piss on your bed! You don't use it really well anyw-", she stopped shouting and jumped backwards as the door unlocked and slammed open, with a rough hand grabbing her arm and yanking her outside with the force she thought would rip her arm off.

"Hey!", she shouted angrily just before she landed hard onto the cold wet deck, side first, grazing her shoulder and hip in the process. Instinctively, she curled herself up into a fetal position as the man rushed over her and lifted his foot up, about to kick her like a stray pup in his way. "I told you to stay fucking quiet, whore!", the man spit at her and kicked the back of her thigh strong enough to move her slightly, before another man lifted her up with a content laughter. "You keep on that way and there will be nothing of you to enjoy."

Lifting her head up with a sigh, Zea rolled her eyes and chuckled deviously in return. "Then you better bloody let me relieve myself", she grinned, narrowing her eyes. "In case you haven't noticed, I get cranky when I have to go".

"Get her out of my sight and get back in a minute of time. Go!", the first man barked out an order as he turned to deal with the other business at hand. Being tugged and pushed forward, she only managed to get a glimpse of a small woman being carried on board, before she stumbled off the boards and into the mud. She instantly shivered at the low temperature of Wherever-the-hell-land, and actually making herself do her business presented more of a challenge than she had thought. However, at least there were an interesting things at hand to distract her from her issues.

Using the fact that the man escorting her was just as curious about the situation at hand, Zea quickly wrapped it up and pulled herself closer against the bush, looking at the man discussing some sort of business between them. Her Common Tongue still being somewhat wonky, she perhaps only understood the proper meaning of every second or so word they were using.

"Hey! Get out of there!", the man shouted at her and she jerked realizing she had forgotten about the time spent there completely. "Alright. alright I am going, good god...", she straightened up and rolled her eyes as she passed the man fast enough not to be shoved again. Limping through the mud back on board, she caught the attention of the captain and the man with the lion on his garments. Passing by, she locked her eyes with the Lion Man. "What a gorgeous snake you are", she smirked deviously. "Get the hell inside", the captain shouted, but Zea persisted in holding her glare fixated on the blonde man that seemed to be captivated by it. "You should know better than to cross a woman like that, coward", she hissed seductively just before captain's hand landed hard on her cheek, breaking the eye contact and snapping the man out of what seemed to be a brief trance. "Keep your whore stench away from here. Go!", the man shouted at her and she simply spared him a glare of cleverly dosed despise, spitting the blood running from the bite on the inside of her cheek.

"Kesā addemmagon syt bisa, nādrēsy"*, she mumbled to him, before she was shoved back into the small improvised cabin reserved for her, and safely locked inside.

Although her stomach growled and complained, she did not demand anything else as she was well aware that she had used all her favors for a day. Only after she laid down on a mattress in the corner had she felt the pain along her side and the numbness of her cheek. Groaning, she rolled herself onto her back, brushing off the remains of blood from her lips and staring at the ceiling, playing with the taste of iron still lingering in her mouth as she mumbled a chant to Rh'llor over and over again, not stopping even when the vessel took off and back onto the rocky waves. Hours on, she proceeded, until she heard a small movement on the other side of the wooden boards clearly clumsily splitting what used to be a single cabin.

The chant stopped and her Amethyst eyes opened up, darting to the side and staring at the boards that let the sounds through.
"Rise and shine sleepy head. Thought you died back there... or worse", she chuckled.

NOTE: *"You will pay for this, bastard"*

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#3
A splitting headache raged on. No matter how still she laid, it followed her. Sharp and throbbing at the sides, numbing inside, screaming all around in a noise that couldn’t be heard but was still there, strumming a high tune.

The soft and warm voice of a woman sniped through her head, making her groan even more in pain. Shooting a hand up to her head the girl took in a deep breath, panting slightly from the pain she was in. Feeling around she could feel dried up blood on her forehead, crusty against her hair and metallic in smell mixed with mud. She didn’t dare to get up, her head pounding with each wave she heard bouncing against the wood.

Taking another breath the female tried to open her eyes, finding that it was dark around her. Panic washed over her. Was she blind? She felt that the story was familiar, blindness caused by an accident to the head, but she couldn’t recall why.

Another wave of panic washed over the female as she realised that she had forgotten something, something dear and precious, something important. Feeling her chest clench the girl started to breath harder, feeling fear gripping onto her tighter and tighter.

“Eloise,” she breathed to the voice, as if she had just remembered. Closing her eyes again she tried to focus on the blurry images that flashed through her mind.

She remembered fear. She remembered the sight of the ships. She remembered the sigil of a lion, the feeling of betrayal and running away. Gulping Eloise let go of a small whimper. Despite the loss of memory the female felt like she had finally gained the understanding of true loneliness.
 

Ritual Lobotomy

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#4

Zea never admired people able to empathize with others on command. It must have been rather tiring when most of the world sought to rip your head off, much like an overly attached lover; and so she simply did not do it. She understood the concept of pain and misfortune all too well, but she also held it a personal issue that did not concern others.

And so when it came to empathy, Zea stood back and filtered who would receive hers. She patiently waited as the ruffling and moving on the other side of the wooden boards continued, her face neutral, staring ahead. Her pain, she understood, but she thought nothing of it. Well, nothing but annoyance.

The girl groaned and breathed audibly, making the Lysene roll her eyes at it. "So dramatic you are", she spoke up with a rolling accent, once she remembered the word for 'dramatic' in Common Tongue. "If you have not by now, You shall get used to it soon enough", she chuckled somewhat menacingly, rubbing a red graze on her shoulder that still bled lightly.

"Eloise", came a pant from the other side after a while and Zea scoffed at the word. Not that she asked, but then again, not like the girl bothered to say her name out loud as to be introduced. "Whatever a little bird like you did for them to send you away that way. And whoever is this... Eloise, you are the only one I have seen making it in", she responded with a hum, thinking that the name was referring to another person of similar faith, or yet a person causing her pain. She could not help but be morbidly curious.

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#5
“Where are we?” Eloise groaned, ignoring the remark of the lady. “How long has it been since?” she followed up.

Her body felt sore and heavy, but she knew that she would survive. The winds lulled so in her ears as she laid onto the wood. She could hear the waves slosh against the wood and feel the floor beneath her rock gently, signifying that she was on a boat.

“We need to get off this ship,” Eloise rolled over, knocking on the wood from the other side. Each knock hurt her head, but she knew that the wood was thin and could be removed by the hollow sound of it. If only she had some more strength.

The little wind that breezed into the place gave her an ominous feeling. The voices mixing up and talking through each other, but making it clear that she had to try to get off the ship as soon as she could. However, she trusted them, she trusted the voice of the wind as if it was her second instinct.

“My brother can help us,” she gasped, feeling another pang in her head. She knew she had a brother and in her mind she could hear him call her, but she didn’t remember anything else. Guilt washed over her as the frustration build up within her.

“Will you help?” she finally asked, realising that she had no idea who it was at the other side.
 

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#6

“Where are we?” the girl asked impatiently and Zea rolled her eyes “How long has it been since?” she followed up. Groaning lightly, Zea rubbed her template and leaned against back against the boards. "You know what? I am starting to think that I've liked you more when you were knocked out." When the girl finally made a break, perhaps to readjust herself or preferably get her shit together, Zea sighed and finally responded in a chirpy tone. "On our way to a luxurious suite for a well deserved vacation," just before it turned into a cynical one. "How the fuck should I know? I had my sight-seeing allowance revoked once I spit on the captain. Note, they don't take it lightly," she concluded with somewhat tired chuckle.

“We need to get off this ship,” the voice concluded. "You don't say..." Zea responded with a grumpy mumble just before the knock on the wood just behind her head made her jerk. "Stop that!" she whined as she moved aside while the female on the other side proceeded to knock against the wood. "Break apart their boat. That will surely help us get out of here. Just choose beforehand would you rather drown or strangled. Just so I know what to prepare for." After a bit, finally, the female calmed down under another wave of headache, Zea assumed based on the quiet gasp but she surely was a talkative one.

“My brother can help us,” the girl insisted and it earned her another another round of scoffs from the raven-maned woman. "I see a good job it is he is doing so far. Well done," she responded sarcastically, staring ahead into the opposite wall, listening to the now ecstatic voices outside. "Well at least someone on this sad little float has fun," she mumbled at the men's laughter.

“Will you help?” the girl asked her after brief pause and it recaptured Zea's attention as she contemplated over it. "Well I am surely interested in not getting back into shackles that is for sure..." Before she was able to give her a definite answer, the lock on the door rattled.

"Fuck", she swore under her breath instinctively pulling herself closer to the corner of the bed, only to regain her posture when the key turned once. "Listen here, buttercup", she spoke hastily to the female through the boards. "Don't even breathe until I am back, or they are coming for you next and you will not like it," she concluded just as the lock clicked the second time and the door swung open to reveal an ever-confident face of Zea of Lys.

"Well what took you so long, handsome?" she chirped towards the pirate that was anything but handsome and he absolutely saw right through it, even though Zea never truly bothered to convince him otherwise.

"Shut up and walk, whore," the man ordered and Zea frowned lightly before she stepped forward hoping the female on the other side heard her previous advice. "You know, all this whore thing, it's getting old," she smirked at the pirate that did not look amused whatsoever and was quick to grab her upper arm and drag her outside after him. "Hey, HEY!" she shouted angrily. "Hands off, I can walk myself you jerk!"

***

The door to the cabin opened up once again after a while and Zea stumbled in with the door closing and locking tightly behind her. Swearing in Valyrian and under her breath, she walked to the bed and dropped down with her thighs burning just as much as strangle bruise on her neck. Taking a moment to compose herself from the rage that washed over her, she finally responded to the female behind the boards.

"They are having a little drinking party tonight. To celebrate," she begun in a flat tone. "I will be joining them. Make sure your pretty head is up and awake when I come to get you," she groaned as she lifted her skirt and untangled the key hanging on the edge of the lining. Examining it briefly, she straightened up lightly, tracing her hand over the boards and pressing into them every once in a while until she found a loose one she had discovered recently.

"Door unlock only from the outside, but they are not well fitted to the floor, just like everything else on this piece of crap," Zea explained as she pressed against the board so its edge curved outwards, creating an opening big enough for her to ram the key in and smuggle it to the other side to the girl. Taking a brief break, she exhaled and laid back onto the bed.

"When you hear me knocking", she instructed further, knocking against the wood in a rhythm that sounded much like a brief heartbeat. "Toss the key under the door. You're smart enough to know what next. But know this, gorgeous. If you fall behind, I am leaving you." One could say she was willing to help. Somewhat. More than that, however, she was ready to get the hell out of there and not look back for anyone.

"And before you'd ask, they will be leaving you alone after the diner. Virgins can be sold for a higher price. I've told the captain you are one. They will not be coming for you," she sighed as the pain passed. "So yes, you could say I want to help. But don't push it."

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#7
The woman with whom she shared the cabin with was crass and talkative. To add to it, rude. Vaguely Eloise recalled something from the back of her mind. To be spoken to like that from her rank meant certain punishment. However, Eloise didn’t know what her rank was in society and nor did it matter right here and now. On the sea they were all no ones. It were the whispers of the wind against the grim reality of now.

However, something told her that befriending this woman wasn’t going to be as difficult as she believed it to be. In fact, it would be as easily gained for her as it could be lost if Eloise were to tell everything right now. Needing friends the female made the decision to be quiet, much as instructed and much as her instincts told her when they came for her only company.

When the female came back Eloise couldn’t help but smell the sweat on her body. Heavy and sticky. The wind whispered something to the female that made her ears blush and it brightened the more as the woman spoke to her.

“They already know I’m precious cargo,” Eloise whispered feeling a little scandalised. “The guards to the door will be especially heavy, they expect me to try and escape,” she continued, repeating the words carried by the wind. ’Because they know who I’m,’ Eloise followed the thought, her temples burning in a flash of pain. She was forgetting something. Something precious.

Once again her company was quick to shut her down. “I told you to wait for my signal and be ready. I will handle the rest. Pretty sure I know of this boat more than yourself at this point,” the woman hissed back impatiently, but stopped. Eloise gulped, realising that she had spoken out of turn. The woman probably had long dreamt of escape, not just for her and to add to it actually seen the ship. It was unlike Eloise who was relying on the information blown into her ears. “Rullor, tepagon nyke gīda,”* Eloise could hear her mumble and for some reason the girl believed herself to understand the language the woman spoke in. “You better be as useful as you are precious then,” she mocked Eloise with a brief snicker earning a sigh of relief from the girl.

“There will be a storm tonight. If we manage to get down the boat at the right side we will float ashore before the morning breaks,” she continued with a breath, blinking at the amount of knowledge that the wind was whispering. Was it reliable? Eloise wasn’t sure, but it was a trusting voice and the only lead she had.

“And how the hell would you possibly know th-” her companion didn’t finish her sentence with a sigh. “You know what? I don’t need to know.” Though the woman wasn’t taking Eloise seriously the girl was relieved that her ally wasn’t diving in for more information, her blush deepening as she thought of how to explain her little ‘gift’.
“Thank you,” Eloise whispered at last, her hands finding the arms of the woman. Holding them she quickly released her grip, unsure if the woman appreciated the touch. “I mean it,” she continued.

The sudden touch caught the woman by surprise, tensing up but she didn’t jerk away. “Don’t get all sappy on me,” Zea responded in a neutral tone, taking her arm back. “If you get out of here alive, you owe me one,” she huffed and Eloise smiled at that, finding that the woman was already warming up to her. “Now let me get some rest now. I’ve got party to attend to,” the woman groaned. The soft rustlings of the bed and fabrics brushing over each other indicating that her companion had turned around. Eloise left her to be, feeling much better now and deciding that she needed the rest as well if they were to truly escape.

That night a party was indeed held. Eloise was too anxious to sleep, or even to rest, counting the seconds before she finally could hear the knock that was promised. The wind blew, blowing words of comfort, but also warning her. The storm was coming and the time was nearing while outside they were drinking their night away, ignorant. Clenching the key tighter into her fist Eloise fixated her eyes to the door, willing herself to stand firm. She could see the shadows, hear the wind…

*translation: R’hllor, give me calm

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#8

Men gathered at the front of a ship were a happy bunch after indulging into few liters of alcohol. After the barrel of high quality wine was almost empty, it was quickly replaced by a cheap rum like a no good lover. By the time they demanded the refill, they were hardly able to tell the bloody difference. Through it all, Zea of Lys laughed with them, pour them drinks and entertained until they no longer paid much attention to her presence.

Sighing in relief once she managed to distance herself from the group, she goosed up a bit and picked up two cups of wine she saved, carrying them cheerfully towards the two guards that stood in the way of her target. The problem was, now there was only one in his position. “Dammit,” she hissed quietly just before the guard looked up at her with a disgusted frown.

“What the hell are you doing here? Funny business?” his voice grew in volume and Zea’s face flushed as she bowed her head submissively. “I was told I am to bring you this. The finest wine, captain said. For your service,” She quickly weaved out a simple story. As it was, often the simplest reasoning were the most believable. She made her way towards the post under the watchful eye of the man, offering him a cup with a smirk. Hesitating slightly, he finally took it eagerly and chugged it down. With a content smile, she opened her mouth to speak, but the arrival of the second guard cut her short.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” he asked with a smug smirk. Well over a head and a half taller than her, the man towered over her, forcing her to step back as she looked up to him with a light frown. It was the very same pirate yanking and shoving her around, and she barely contained herself not to spit in his face. Instead, she lifted a cup. “Wine?” she asked as politely as she was able to muster, but the man didn’t seem to share the same affection towards the red liquid as his friend did it seemed, as he was quick to slap the cup out of her hand and it spilled all over the floor. “I don’t even like wine”, he growled, cornering her against stacked crates.

“I can get you rum then. Cheap asshole like you surely drinks only cheap shit.” With another angry growl, the man grabbed her jaw and slammed her against the crates. “H-help me”, she spoke weakly as she squirmed. “Help me, please!” she cried out before she was slammed again. “Filthy harlot! I knew it was a mistake to keep you alive since the day one!” the man shouted, but his words got stuck in his throat and his grip grew loose as the other guard grappled the man’s neck, yanking him away. The struggle brought both men on the ground, one pinning the other. Only then did Zea drop the act, approaching the man pinned on the ground. “You should have drank the wine, you pathetic creature”, she spoke to him almost with a dose of pity in her voice as she pulled out a shiv from the cut around the waist of her dress and knelt above the struggling figure, observing his face briefly. “Fuck...you,” the man mustered from under the weight of the other pirate just before she shoved the shiv handle deep into the side of his throat.

“That is alright my love, he cannot hurt me anymore,” Zea spoke to him coldly as she tapped his shoulder and walked towards the door. In a zombie-like trans, the man let go of the body and got up, turning towards her. “Be a dear and keep an eye out, will you?” she fluttered her eyelashes, and the man obliged silently as she turned to the door and knocked in the pattern that was agreed on, waiting for the key to slide under the door. She let out a pleased hum once it appeared, and she grabbed it gracefully, fitting it into the lock. “Pack your bags, sunshine, time to go” she jested as the door swung open revealing a pale-looking maiden in the dark.

“Oh dear, you look horrible,” she noted before waving it off with her hand and moving away from the door one she grabbed the key again. “We’ll deal with it once we get out of here in one piece. Come!” the young maegi ordered the girl as she made her way back to the guard, standing in front of him with a smirk. “My hero,” she chuckled, pointing towards the open cabin. “Please, could you get in there for me?” her words flowed like liquid gold, and the man obeyed blindly, only for Zea to lock the door after him, swinging and throwing the key overboard. “We better get on going before they notice I am gone”.

The girl gasped at the sight of the corpse, gulping a little at herself. It didn’t seem that she had any possessions with her. Strange as the clothes the girl wore were fancy and heavy, not the usual drab seafarers and peasants wore. And while her expression was confused and scared at first it suddenly hardened and darkened as she turned towards the guard.

“By sunrise you’re dead,” she stated so solemnly that it couldn’t have been a joke. “Cut open from down and with your gut spilling for the crows to pick,” she continued, her accent posh. Cocking a brow at the girl Zea wondered if she had swallowed seawater, but much time to contemplate she didn’t get. Suddenly the girl grabbed her by the arm, making a run towards the side of the boat, the side the girl had mentioned earlier when Zea told the stranger the plan. Eyes widening the female realized to what the girl exactly meant with her escape, but the girl had already thrown herself over the side as if handing herself over to fate.

“Wait! What the-,” her eyes widened as she stopped herself and leaned over the edge of the boat where the girl plunged into the water. Just the thought of jumping into the cold body of water in order to escape with your life brought forth painfully familiar feeling of dread young mage was hoping to set aside. “No. Hey, no. This was not the deal!” Zea found herself shouting louder than it was a smart idea to, so she just as quickly bit her tongue as she paced left and right over the spot where the girl disappeared in the dark water. “So you just bloody commit suicide and leave me stranded, huh?” she mumbled angrily to herself, debating on her course of action.

“Forget this,” she mustered to herself, taking a run for it back, but she quickly came to halt as her absence was noticed, and by the amount of shouts and the way the men rushed towards her, she was certain they have found the body. “Shit,” she swore under her breath as she was cornered like a wild animal and this time, she was absolutely certain that if they were ought to get their hands on her they would almost certainly kill her, and her death would not be as quick and as liberating as many often romanticized. There was nothing glorious and liberating in death and Zea of Lys did not want to die. Growing desperate, she stepped backwards, towards the edge, but only once her hips touched the railing was she aware that her often was range of options came down to only two; risk it or die. In the presence of at the very least one other option, the latter was not even thought on, and if she was ought to die, she’d die at her own terms.

Gulping lightly, she quickly made her way onto the railing, her legs shaking as she stared into the dark water below. “Your souls be damned!” she shouted angrily to the group of pirates rushing after her, before closing her eyes and jumping off the boat with men just barely missing to grab her. The cold water hit her suddenly, and her body constricted in shock, but only briefly as she started to maniacally flap her limbs around and then turned them into considerably effective swimming movements that brought her back to the surface with a violent fit of cough after swallowing some water on the impact. The feeling of panic and familiarity of the desperate situation washed over and she whimpered with exhaustion as her head felt lighter. Losing her consciousness came as a relief as the cold dark water washed over her.

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#9
Torsten didn't like the ocean. From afar, the stormy mass of water inspired fear and awe with its might. The blond smith was content with watching the ocean from the comfort of his smithy or, in this case, from the small camp he had set up at a cave close to the sandy beach overwatching the Stepstones. He was no sea man and he had no desire to be. Hunting was harder in the sands of Dorne than in Stepstones, but a different kind of predator always lurked on the islands connecting Dorne with Essos. Pirates, mauraders and murderers. Now, Torsten was told before that he was too reckless, his blood boiled despite his heritage not being Dornish. However he had no desire of dieing so soon. No, hunt in Stepstones was more abudant, but much much more dangerous. Lying on his bedroll, Nia snuggly at his side, he found himself slowly drifting to sleep to the sounds of the storm bounding the shores.

Next morning found him awake and ready to leave just as the sun peeked from the direction of the islands. Nia, the sand dog seemed eager to get going and she would often run ahead, sniff and explore, before returning to him tail wagging and sprinting off again. Torsten didn't mind that. They had had a decent catch so far. Two hares, one of which he had enjoyed last night by the fire and a fowl where hanging from his back, next to his quiver and now packed bedroll.

With a smile on his face and a tune on his lips, Torsten made his way to the beach. He could often find all sorts of items after a storm. Driftwood for the most part, but also barrels, a crate or a flask if he was lucky. Whether it was from a careless pirate at the Stepstones coves or from a shipwreck didn't really matter to him. Founders Keepers was the name of the game. But as they walked on the beach, Nia became restless. She started going back and forth more often and eventually she run at the distance, stopping next to something large, made of cloth and partially covered by sand. The sand dog barked urgently and circled the heap. "What did ya find girl?" Torsten called jovially at his dog as he jogged over.

But as he got closer, the heap acquired some very distinct curves. His eyes widened and he was quick to kneel next to a raven haired woman lying on the sand. Unconsious or dead Torsten had yet to discover. He placed a calloused finger on the woman's throat, looking for a pulse as he leaned also pulled his knife and placing the flat of the blade close to her mouth and nostrils. It fogged up and Torsten allowed himself a reliefed sigh. She was merely unconscious. He paid no attention as Nia seemed to be sniffing the air and wondering off again. His focus was entirely set on the woman that sprawled on the sand.

A deep frown set in his face as he took in her appearance. Bruises and small cuts were loitering her exposed arms, face and neck. The ones on the neck especially stood out to him and it made anger slowly boil in his chest. "Tsk, savage bastards." He muttered under his breath and got ready to sheath his hunting seax. It wasn't uncommon for the pirates to hold women captive at their lairs and he had seen the body of an unlucky one that had tried to escape or was discarded once she had 'served' her purpose.

At that moment Nia whined and barked, drawing Torsten's attention to another figure on the beach. This one was smaller. A girl no doubt. "I'll be there in a moment Nia." He called to the honey brown dog reassuringly and turned to look at the woman at hand again.....
 

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#10

In her dream, the feel of uneasiness chased her further down the road and into the snow. What she was escaping from was unclear, and she had no time to think of it when the snow burned her bare feet like living fire, and yet she proceeded running into the unknown and into the dark. Strangely enough, she felt at peace, even when the shadows of the unknown crept around her ominously. Pitch black, but thank R'hllor, she saw them all and watched them play. She entered their territory without any intention to fall back as she hadn't fall back for no other than her maker.

Chanting her prayer deep into the darkness, it responded with an outworldly growl from ahead of her and soon, it seemed as if the darkness was pierced by an evergrowing surge of light rushing towards her. And as the shadows fell back, she marched forward, chanting louder over the noise, until the fast traveling wave of fire met her head on, creeping around her almost like a living liquid, finding its way through her nose and her mouth, seething from the inside.

Warm shiver stormed through her body, and as if it ignited her every nerve, her body functions picked up the pace and he could feel her heart pumping strongly in her ears as she tried to speak by opening and closing her mouth briefly, somewhat like a fish out of the water. Letting out a long exhale and then inhaling deeply, her face grimaced briefly, before her violet orbs opened up slowly, despite of the headache building up once she was exposed to the light again. Even though disoriented at first, a large shadow hovering over her surely was the first thing that caught her attention, alarming her mind that she has been observed. Almost instantly, her breathing picked up the pace and her heart raced faster as the surge of adrenaline rushed to clear her vision and tense every muscle in her body much like those of a scared or angry wild animal.

"D-daor..." she whimpered weakly at first once her voice decided to be of use again. Against the throbbing sensation in her head, Zea lifted it from the ground, laying her eyes on a large man and even more so a knife in his hand. "Daor*", she spoke up more clearly and aggressively, self-preservation instinct sending her mind into an overdrive which then sent her arm flying and swatting against the man's hand with an angry grunt.

"Daor!" she now shouted out, aimlessly proceeding to smack the figure left and right, significant number of swings missing their targets, but also a decent number of blows being landed with a significant force, considering it came from malnourished, exhausted and disoriented female.

"Henujagon nyke mērī!**" she shouted and hissed at him like a cornered animal going berserk.

Once her angry performance provided her some space between her and the man, young woman was quick to squirm and roll up onto her knees, crawling across the sand to swiftly get her hands on the weapon she managed to swat away from the man. Tripping against her own soaked and heavy dress, she finally pulled the blade out of the sand and stuck it out towards the figure as she sat on the sand unable to crawl further, her eyes wide with shock and her armed hand shaking, but still an angry defiance on her face. She was not dead yet and may she be damned if she was simply ought to lay down and die.

"Qogralbar hen***", she hissed again and slashed the blade forward, shouting with a significant tremor in her voice and visible hyperventilating. "Qogralbar HEN!" She was soaked wet and cold, tired and confused, most likely as lost as she was ought to be. All of this mess was the last thing she needed, but she was sure as hell to fight as long as she possibly could.

*No
**Leave me alone!
***Fuck off!

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#11
Nia’s barking had drowned the weak words of the woman as she regained consciousness and just as Torsten was turning to face her again, she shouted at him, swatting the knife away from his loose grip on it. She yelled something again. But Torsten couldn’t make out what it was. It certainly didn’t sound as some language he knew of. He could tell however that the woman was panicked.


She started hitting him, not doing a very good job at it but she was surprisingly strong for the state she was in. “Hey!” He protested as he covered his face with his forearms to avoid getting punched there and took two crouching steps back. Otherwise he made little effort on stopping the woman.


On hindsight, he probably should’ve gone for retrieving his seax, but the woman was quick to dive for it and she desperately tried to scamper off, weakness getting the better of her in just a few paces.Like Torsten would’ve done with any scared animal, he stayed low and barely moved. The woman was yelling at him in fear, defiance and a sense of hopelessness. “Hey. Hey. Hey!” He said, his voice growing stronger but still calm in order to snap her out of her panic attack. He raised his hands on the air and away from the bow that was hanging from his back as a way to appear less threatening. She clearly was a foreigner. That was Essosi speech if Torsten ever heard it.


The commotion drew Nia’s attention and seeing her master at knifepoint drew an aggressive bark out of her and she sped up towards them, ready to rip the woman to pieces. “Nia Heel!” He ordered as soon as he noticed the honey brown sand dog speeding towards them. Stopping barely out of knife’s reach, the dog whined in protest, large pointy ears locked on the woman and white fangs glistening in the morning sun. “Nia! Heel!” Torsten commanded again with more force and the dog quickly reached his side and stayed there, growling and completely focusing on the woman who threatened her master. Zea held her ground, although clearly unnerved by the sight of rabid dog at the man’s side. She gulped lightly, darting her glare from man to the dog and back.


“I mean no harm.” Torsten said calmly and very slowly to the woman, hoping she would get the meaning behind his words as he doubted she could speak his language. However, brief moment of understanding passed woman’s face, although her mind still seemed to struggle understanding the connection between the man’s words and familiarity. To make his point, one hand reached slowly for his bow and tossed it to the sand, the other hand being extended in front Nia to bar the dog’s path to the woman. He kept eye contact with her at all times but still stayed put, on his crouching position. At this point, perhaps from fatigue and perhaps from finally relaxing gradually, young woman lowered the blade slightly, although she still carefully monitored his every move, her grip around the weapon maintaining its force. Just in case.


“Friend.” He said, pointing at himself and he repeated the word, pointing at the girl’s body a few meters away. Woman’s face frowned lightly at the sound of the word. “Help.” He added and hoped she would calm down long enough for him get up and tend to the other body. He’d rather avoid manhandling her for control over the knife should she choose to attack him. She quickly darted her eyes in the direction which he was pointing at, catching a glimpse of a familiar figure in the sand. She inhaled deeply through her nose, calming her nerves while she processed the information. Distrust was evident on her face, although the initial shocked glare subsided. Stabilizing her breaths, Zea took a moment to gather needed strength and choose words to make herself clear as she pointed at him with his own blade, but this time more for him to take her seriously and less of need to cut his throat open. “The amount of times I have heard both of those words,” she spoke up defiantly, with a thick accent, locking her angry gaze with his. “They mean nothing! Perhaps you are too simple to understand that,” she referred to his strange way of speaking to her.


His eyes widened as she spoke up. Her accent was definitely a foreign one, but at least she knew how to speak Westerosi. “Oh good you speak the language.” He commented simply, biting back a response about him being too simple to understand the meaning of empty words. His eyes were fixed on her with calm caution.


Glancing back at where the other female was, she weighed out her options before making an effort to stand up. After a bit of struggle, she managed to raise herself on her own two feet albeit still somewhat wobbly, hugging herself against the morning breeze that felt even colder on her soaked hair and clothes. “You can help her, but the knife stays with me,” she bargained, shivering lightly. Taking another look at the dog that certainly only needed a single hint to dive towards her, she added. “And you walk ahead of me.”


Once she got up, giving him orders like she had the upper hand when she clearly didn’t, Torsten slowly rose up, patting Nia’s neck in a ‘stay close’ kind of way. “Whatever you say. But you might wanna consider that if I wanted to harm you, I would’ve done so while you were lying there when I found you. You can also keep that knife. I can always make myself another one” He added and got moving, grabbing the ever growling Nia by the rope collar to keep her close and got to the second female.


Kneeling down he took in her appearance and as always, placed a hand on her neck to look for a pulse.
 

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#12
It will be alright…

A promise, breathed into her ear. Eloise trusted it, finding the voice calming, homely, as if it had been part of her all the while, as if she had never known anything else but the voice.

However, the world surrounding her was cold and salty, smooth and rough. She felt herself going up, which were the moments she had learned to breathe and she felt herself pulled down, which were the moments where she had to hold her breath. All the while the voice stayed with her, howling more secrets at her.

When she came to be she was laying down on solid ground, the grains of sand firm from the water it soaked, the wind forever howling across and into her ears. She knew herself to be cold, but when a warm hand reached for her throat she gasped, the shock forcing out the water she had accidentally gotten in.

Turning around the female let it all pour out on the sand, a mixture of water, salt and her last supper came pouring out. Another source of warmth pressed against her neck, wet and warm, but comforting and curious. Turning her head the girl came face to face with a dog, right next to her a man with a worried expression. The owner, she knew. Beyond she saw an unknown woman, just as confused, but mixed with fear. The woman, she recalled, the memories of last night floating up once more. They had escaped and just as predicted they had washed ashore after the storm.

The voice was right. Everything was going to be just fine.

Cracking a smile, though exhausted and in pain the girl buried her aching head into the fur of the dog.

“Safe,” she mumbled. “We’re safe,” she repeated a sense of relief washing over the girl. How long had it been? Eloise felt that her adventure had only just begun, yet an eternity had passed.
 

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#13

"Men," Zea scoffed and rolled her eyes at the male's calm response. It made sense, however. Wouldn't it be easier for him to just do it while she was out? Or maybe he simply didn't have time? Whatever it was, it took more than his bloody word to have her convinced. She simply offered him a scolding frown when he suggested sh keeps the knife. "I almost drowned, but I sure as hell did not spill my brains in the process," she responded defiantly, marching after him, his knife tightly in her grasp as she held her cool limbs close to her torso for warmth. "You can be sure that I intend on keeping it. And you can only take it away from me blade first."

In her position, perhaps the smartest of all the ideas was to comply and follow, but Zea of Lys did no such thing. No matter the situation, the young woman made her terms clear and stuck to them stubbornly, unless the tide of the situation forced her to adapt or improvise. With her torn garments dragging her down, few steps in, she tripped against the piece of her dress with a juicy swear. Attempting to maintain her balance, instead of forward, she fell bottom first back into the sand. "Bloody hell," she mumbled, collecting her torn garments around her before lifting her head up to see the large man and his mutt simply continuing on their path as if she never even existed.

"Oh, don't mind me!" she shouted out angrily. "Not like I need any help or anything!" When the man did not react, she rolled her eyes in annoyance, wiping the sand and soaked salty hair off of her face. "Doru-borto*." She hated it. All of it. She looked miserable for days now, but the state she was in now simply made her want to break down. Except she wouldn't. Instead, she grabbed the acquired blade and angrily rushed it over the lower, tattered part of her dress, making a cut, and ripping her dress short up to her knees. Cheap piece of crap that she knew was a cheap piece of crap. Tossing the ripped bundle of fabric aside, she straightened herself up and brushed off as much sand as she could, continuing her way across the beach, following the trail the man had left, approaching the other female sprawled on the sand.

Tired enough for every step through the sand to feel like a chore, she dragged herself up to the bunch, keeping a safe distance between herself and the dog that clearly did not fancy her. That was alright. The feeling was mutual. She stretched her neck out to see, partially hidden beneath the man, just in case the beast got some funny ideas. "Is she alive?" Zea couldn't help but ask curiously as the man checked for the girl's pulse. The tension of the moment made her jump lightly when the girl took a breath and then proceeded to trow her very soul up onto the ground. "Oh that is really charming," Zea groaned, turning away from the sight.

Young girl grinned right after and it did not fail to baffle Zea senseless. Was she truly out of her mind when she found all that a grinning matter? Was she daft? Was she following orders of a demented child? All of the frustration over the possibility of the positive answer on any of those questions, came rushing into her mind. "Yes, yes we are. Safe or whatever you may call this...thing", she gestured wildly around her with a knife, referring to the girl. "Good, yes. It's good," she proceeded rambling and walking around restlessly, keeping her distance as the dog was the only thing that prevented her from reaching out for the girl in fury. "It's good that you're alive and well as well," she grinned sourly moments before she shouted out pointing the blade forward. "So I can drown you myself! Crazy wench!" Zea growled.

"You're insane. That's it," she concluded with a forced, troubled laughter over all of her misery that came deep from within. "You are fucking insane, and I am done with you!" she nodded somewhat maniacally. "Yes, that's right. Done! I am... absolutely... bloody... done," she breathed out as her vision narrowed and she grabbed the man's shoulder for support, squinting her eyes until the buzzing in her ears and sparkles in front of her eyes somewhat subsided and she made her way backwards. "I don't need this crap," she waved if off with a scoff, turning and marching away from the happy bunch. "Thanks for the knife, Blondie!" she shouted back towards the man, lifting the blade upwards briefly as she proceeded to march forward and away across the beach.

*Idiot, stupid

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#14
Torsten smiled faintly at the defiant attitude of the woman, even when she stumbled. He was of half a mind to turn around and help her, but he didn't want to risk getting stabbed with his own knife, or rather hers now. He had afteral, offered it to her and she had made her intentions of keeping it very very clear.

He frowned and jumped back when the girl woke up with a startle and the immediate need to empty her lungs and stomach from the seawater and food. She mumbled about them being finally safe before hugging Nia's neck closely. The dog barked once and nuzzled the girl as the woman proceeded to go in another rant, clearly influence by starvation, near death experience and some previous history that made it clear the two females were not friends. Torsten was ready to intervene if the woman tried to indeed hurt the girl, but she seemed to have decided not to.

Exhaustion took the better of her there and she stumbled, using his shoulder for support and that got an immediate reaction from him. His hand rose to catch her arm to stabilize her and his body sifted so he could better support the sudden weight, which was obviously not as much as it should considering how malnourished the woman was at this point. He let go as soon as she was able to stand on her own again. "Knives don't last long without their sheath." He called out to her as soon as she turned around to thank him. He was fast to remove the sheath from his belt and tossed it at her.

Then he turned his attention to the girl that was still embracing Nia and the sand dog seemed quite uncertain about what to do next. He knew that the woman wouldn't be able to go far with or without him in her condition but she was too stubborn to listen to reason at the moment. So he focused on the girl on the sand. He had noticed the headwound. That, combined with the vomiting was a rather concerning condition. "Hey, can you look at me?" He asked the girl firmly but gently. He needed to examine that wound. As soon as the girl complied, he placed a finger gingerly on and around the wound. The blood was caked there and it seemed decently closed, but he wouldn't be able to clean and treat that properly unless he got her home.

Taking his water flask off his belt he passed it to her as he eased her up on the sand carefully. "Here, clean your mouth and have one sip. It'll make you feel better." He said and held the flask out to her. As soon as she was done and felt good enough, he was planning on carrying her back to the smithy and let her recover before she could return to her family or go on with her life.
 

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#15
Insane

The word rang through Eloise’s mind, setting off a chain of reactions. A pang in her heart, a flurry of memories, fear and tears. She knew that she wasn’t insane, but what could she do to disprove the trait? Eloise knew that hearing voices was far from normal, or sane, and yet here she was, blessed with something that she barely understood yet felt so familiar with.

Her companion cursed and threatened, but ultimately chose to walk off instead. Stumbling and barely holding on, but marching on. The dog barked once and Eloise let it go when the man urged her to look up at him.

An overwhelming sense of exhaustion washed over. The light of day hurt her head and everything seemed far away. Pinching her eyes close for a bit the girl took in a deep breath before she finally took the flask. Taking a small sip of water Eloise found that the fresh water was welcome indeed, washing away the salt from the sea, but most importantly it dispelled the nauseous taste that remained after vomiting.

Taking a few more deep breaths and finding that the stranger’s back turned towards her as if he wanted her to climb up Eloise shot a look towards the cursing stranger, slowly edging further away.

“You understand, right?” she spoke in a low voice, looking down at the dog. Though she wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular the animal gave her a look as if it understood the language which strangely comforted the girl. “Thank you,” she finally breathed as she slipped her arms around the man, pushing herself up to climb onto his back.

“She needs us if she doesn’t want to go back,” Eloise mumbled as she got settled, chin resting on the shoulder of the stranger she had decided to trust so soon. ”They probably know already,” she continued pensively, thinking of the guard she had predicted to be gutted. The dog barked again and Eloise shifted, feeling the wind breeze past again.

”Yeah, they do.”
 

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#16
Torsten smiled satisfied with how the girl responded to the water. She didn't vomit again and that was a good sign. She even managed to climb on his back with limited help after he had re-arranged the small blanket roll and quiver on his back so she could be lie her stomach on it more comfortably. She was even lighter than the woman was and Torsten realized just how well timed his kills were. The two could have enough meat to recover faster. He hummed with no particular reason as she asked him if he understood. He had no idea what the girl was talking about, it seemed that Nia barked at her in response, as if she could understand what the girl was talking about.

"Don't worry about it lass." He waved her thanks aside good naturedly. He wouldn't think twice before helping people in need and especially women when they were this close to the Stepstones. He stood up now that his arms were secured under her legs to create a seat of sorts for her. "Nia, bow." He said to the dog who immediately stood on alert. "Fetch." He ordered and the dog sprinted ahead as Torsten began walking with long, confident strides. The woman had a decent headstart, but she was in no condition for walking. He would be able to catch up to her really soon. That's when the girl mentioned her concern for the woman's well being. "I'll take care of it. I want you to just rest now. Get your strenght back." He assured her and sifted his hands and position so he could get the bow from Nia's mouth as the dog had return proudly with her prize in her mouth, giving her a rather goofy appearance. "Good girl!" He praised the sand dog, who was wagging her tail very pleased with herself. With his bow now secured on his shoulder, Torsten resumed his walk.

He slided comfortably next to the woman, adjusting to her pace with a respectful distance between them. "You know, even in Dorne, a starved woman with a tattered dress and a knife doesn't stand a decent chance. The Stepstones are real close and you stick out like a rusty nail in a polished handle. You'd be found in no time." He said as if he was having a casual chat with an acquaintance. Then he turned to look at her and his face was serious. "My smithy is nearby. I have plenty of meat to go around and you could take one of my ma's dresses, rest and then go on your merry way. They won't look for you there and I bet you could use a good night's rest on a bed for a change." His voice was steady and sincere. There weren't much he else he could do other than convince her to follow him. With the girl on his back, his hands were full. He wouldn't possibly be able to just toss her over his shoulder and bring her home for her own safety. He doubted she would appreciate it much even though it would turn out for the best in the end.
 

Ritual Lobotomy

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#17

Even with the bottom part of her dress cut and moved out of the way, walking the beach was a challenge. It wasn't quite the pure sand it seemed to be, and her tired legs were undoubtedly at the verge of giving up. "You can do this", she thought to herself as she walked with still some grace left in her tired step. "You've survived worse with your own head and two hands". She needed no one. She could handle herself now and every other time. "This is not that bad."

"Ow!" she exclaimed suddenly after she stepped on a sharp pebble that pushed deep into her foot and threw her off.

"Gah!"

Cloud of sand and few pebbles flew up as a result of her attempt to kick the little menace out of the way. Swearing angrily, Zea stepped back taking an exhausted breath and stopped in her track. "You are losing it. Calm down, keep walking", inhaling the salty air once more, she briefly turned around to see the man now carrying the girl on his back, hurrying to catch up.

"Oh hell no", she shook her head in disbelief. "Hell no! Stay away from me!" Zea shouted with a deep frown on her face, quickly turning back forward and resuming her walk decisively, forcing every ounce of strength into looking angry enough to avoid company. "Are you people simple? Mind your own business!" she shouted once more before he found himself walking next to her, following her pace which, granted, was not the toughest thing to do for someone as fit and well-rested.

"You know, even in Dorne, a starved woman with a tattered dress and a knife doesn't stand a decent chance", the man noted, and Zea took no time to fire back as she marched forward.

"Because you know me well enough to claim such a thing."

"The Stepstones are real close and you stick out like a rusty nail in a polished handle."

"A shitty compliment that is."

"You'd be found in no time."


"Because I absolutely intend to stick around and wait for them. Funny", she spit out quite frankly running out of comebacks and getting rather tired of his persistence. But instead of sending a clear message to him, the man seemed to grow even more persistent. The offer of following him to his smithy fished out a loud dramatic sigh from the woman as she stopped and threw her head back in desperation. "Are you deaf?!" but even with evidently insulting tone and words, the man remained calm and composed as he offered her stay until she decided to leave.

Ate the mention of food however, her stomach sounded loudly and desperately enough to be audible. Feeling betrayed by her own body, she felt cornered decision-wise. The offer he gave was simply too good to refuse. She was proud, but not a fool.

"If it will have you stop annoying me then fine", she agreed reluctantly before she lifted the blade of his knife towards him with suspicion on her face. "But I am watching you, Blondie".


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#18
The stranger seemed to be unwilling to accept the man’s help, but only because she didn’t get his good intentions whispered to her like Eloise did. There was no way anyone would have trusted this man after all they had gone through and yet Eloise understood and accepted, because she accepted and understood the voices brushing past her.

“It isn’t him you should watch,” the girl responded drowsily from the man’s back. Her fatigue finally kicked in now that she found herself in safety and comfort. The heat of the man was also a welcomed source of warmth as Eloise felt chilled to the bone. All she truly missed was her home, wherever that would have been. “They will come ashore later and ask for whatever remains of us from others,” she continued in a mumble. In the wind she could almost hear the ship sailing across the shore, spilling curses over their lost precious cargo. A feeling told her that this precious cargo wasn't the woman, but her though why she couldn't tell.

“His neighbours…”

Snuggling her cheek into the male’s should Eloise’s breath evened out, finally getting some healthy rest. The sentence she was about to say forgotten with the wind blowing away the words.
 

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#19
Torsten allowed a small, knowing smile to tug at the corner of his mouth as the woman finally gave in after a loud protest of her stomach. He was about to respond to her warnings as his former knife was raised again, pointing straight to his chest, but the girl was faster than him. And she spokes in enigmas and in such a way that Torsten couldn't suppress the groan even as the girl finally fell asleep on his back. Now that was enough to make the other woman even more upset and the risk of hurting herself and others because of it.

He frowned however. The pirates usually didn't bother with women that had escaped. They usually ended up dead or they never even escaped in the first place. Why would they come after them now? The girl seemed absolutely positive that that was the case and that somehow, Torsten's neighboors would be involved as well. Now, Torsten was the only blacksmith in the area so that made him valuable enough to be left unbothered most of the time. Then, with his mother teaching him how to defend himself should the need arise, he could always assert himself as someone not to be triffled with. He would like to believe that his neighboors wouldn't bring the pirates to his doorstep at the very least for the aforementioned reasons. He knew that perhaps it would be safer to sleep lighter and with his axe under his pillow for the next few days.

"Does she always behave like that?" He half-asked, half-wondered to himself as he slightly took the lead so he could direct the woman back to his smithy. He did wait for the woman's reaction though, ready to potentially pounce out of the way of the knife should she panic again and attempt to attack the girl or himself.

------
OOC: Short and kinda meh, but I wasn't really sure how far to go with this
 

Ritual Lobotomy

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#20

Zea glared at the man daringly when he opened his mouth to speak, but at the moment he did, it sounded completely off to the point where she blinked at him confused before her mind processed the obvious fault in her perception. The word spoken never came from the man, but from the crazy girl sprawled across his back.

“It isn’t him you should watch,” the girl mumbled and Zea leaned sideways to catch a glimpse of her resting face. And even though man seemed perplexed by the girl's words, perhaps for the first time since they've met, Zea made sense of those weakly spoken words.

"I know that, damn it!" she thought to herself with a bit of spite over the situation she'd found herself in. Perhaps she wouldn't if she hadn't seen a glimpse of the ordeal herself, but if there was a thing she knew about, it was that the high classes never got down in the gutter and get their hands dirty personally for less than a priceless cargo.

They will come ashore later and ask for whatever remains of us from others,” the girl mumbled again and Zea rolled her eyes with a sigh, dropping the armed hand down as if she no longer found it amusing to give the man a hard time. "Bloody great", she mumbled to herself, throwing her soaked raven hair over her right shoulder and returning the knife back to its sheet and attaching it to the simple belt wrapped loosely around her hips. Whatever had she gotten herself into. Perhaps running into a beefy brute of a man was not such a bad thing after all.

"Whatever you say," Zea finally responded to girl's ramblings with an impatient shrug and a tap of her foot glaring at the man that now seemed perplexed by young lady's words. "Well, shall we then?" Attempting to step forward, she stopped in her tracks at the man's question and turned dramatically, even further expressing her unwillingness to stand there and chit-chat.

"Does she always behave like that?"

"Oh no. No way", Zea scoffed silently, thanking R'hllor that the brute was finally moving and hurried to catch up closely behind the man, trying to avoid the pebbles under her bare feet. "She usually plays the fortune teller and jumps overboard into stormy seas", she scoffed sarcastically, occasionally peeking from behind the man to take a note of the path. After a brief period of silence, she quickly picked up on the conversation again, catching up with him with more confidence albeit with evident exhaustion, on the opposite side from where the dog seemed to be. She never truly took her eyes off of it. At least with that dog she was certain where she stood. The creature did not like her but that was alright. The feeling was mutual.

"So this...", she gestured wildly with her hands when the word failed to come out. She could not recall it for the life of her and it bit into her thinning patience so she slapped her hands together in slight frustration and swore under her breath, inhaling deeply and trying again.

"This... place of yours. Is it far? Am I going to starve to death by the time we get there? You know, we could simply steal something along the way", she suggested with an obvious seriousness, looking around.


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