“Ahoy there, Poppet. Tell me true now, where do they grow flowers as pretty you?”
Y’lanna continued striding along the train barely even pausing as she glanced sideways at her new companion. “Are you sure your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you? I am nothing special to warrant such high praise.”
Grinning broadly, the ruffian jumped ahead and blocked her progress down the corridor with his tall, broad body leaning rakishly in the passage. He rested a hand on his hip, revealing a garishly striped long waistcoat, not dissimilar to Lord Ruili’s own tastes, though clearly cheaper and more worn, under the dark cloak. He removed the Sesan mask, revealing with that move a hard, craggy face that may have been considered handsome in some circles. The scar on his square chin and the broken bend of his nose told one story, while the mischievous slant of his smile told another.
“Sure enough,” he said, looking her up and down, “my eyes may be deceiving me, and if it’s so then I’ll thank them for the lie.” Nothing special, ha, he thought at the same time. This one knows how to lure a man. Ah, they’re all the same, aren’t they? But what of it, if they’re willing as well?
“Haug is my name,” he said, “called Handslayer.” And he raised a big, heavily sinewed hand briefly as if to show it off in all its potential, a kind of silent bragging. “And who might you be and where might you be going?”
“I am Y’lanna,” she stated raising her own hands to hold and touch Haug’s hands. “It is a pleasure. As for why I am on this train, I’m going on an adventure heading up to the mountains to explore and experience new things. What about you, Handslayer? Are you here for business or for more pleasurable activities?”
She was still holding his hands. To be honest, she didn’t really like the man but his approach was rather odd and could have been interpreted as a threat despite not being intended as one. However, this was the way she gathered information. There were many reasons why Haug and his group might be there and none of them good. The question was would it be a problem for Ruili and her?
Haug responded to the touch of her hand with an even broader grin. He brought himself up to his full height, which was considerable. Like many of the street folk of Sesus, he was of mixed ancestry, the son of wanderers thrown together by fate, and not the orchestrated lineages of the great houses. In him, the blood of merrows, korrigans, and eormen made for a man who’d earned the name Handslayer early and re-earned it often as an enforcer in the gangs of the City of the Seas, and who now towered a head taller than Y’lanna as he leaned in closer.
“Business is always to be had,” he said, “but pleasures must be taken when they may. So it’s adventure you’re seeking, eh? Well, there’s adventure aplenty in the life of the highway. I’ll show you that, and other things as well, if you’re game enough. What say you,” he slipped a brawny arm around her waist, “d’you think the Handslayer holds a surprise or two?”
“He already has, but we’ve just met. Contrary to what you might think, I don’t just go and run off with anyone. Of course, we do have the next few days to get to know each other better if that is what you want, but for now do you happen to know where the galley car is?”
The galley car was a section of the train where some basic foodstuffs were available — liquor, teas, breads, cold meats, stews, etcetera. Would her new friend join her? She didn’t know. Now was the stage in their “relationship” for some socialising, making this Haug relax and become comfortable with her so he would spill more information. Some alcohol would help with the process as well. Ruili had given her money for the journey enough to get what she wanted from the Galley.
“You think we’ll need days to strike a bargain?” he smirked. “Then I may show you a new trick or two indeed. Galley car? This way, milady.”
Taking her slender hand in his rock-hard one, he led the way towards the center of the train, and while he smiled suggestively at his hoped-for catch, he was also hoping not to run into his team mate who had been sent also to reconnoiter — and even more his boss, Ashcat.
A joint Muravyets/Bazalonia post