Into The Mouth Of The Wolf
Chapter 9: Steam City
Location: A restaurant
Timeline: Day 4 - Evening
Faizel sighed as he looked around the busy restaurant. Despite all the problems since the team had come to Kanesville there was still business to tend to. They still had no one to help navigate them through the jungle. While they intended to hire a local when they got there, it was well known that many would send people the wrong way to their doom. Having someone else there who knew terrain could prevent that. They also didn't know which mode of transportation they would use to go from Columbus City to the jungle and the person in charge of the wagon train to Kanesville was expensive. Finally, they since Sahka left, they had no one to navigate when they got back to the ship.
As luck would have it, he noticed a woman yesterday here who could help them and had a history of navigating pirate ships. There were two types of pirates, the starry eyed youngster looking for adventure who quickly left, and the close knit smaller group of those who made it their lives. Faizel being the latter immediately recognized the woman simply from the description he heard of her. They had never met.
"'Ey waiter, care to get me more sausage for my dog?" One usually heard Orsola Padovano before they saw her, and tonight was no exception. The woman had a table closest to the cook's station, a seating area known as the worst in a fancy restaurant. Not that this was one. Yet Orsola was dressed in a beaded red dress, black pearl earrings, and a long dark red scarf. In parts of the Old West like Harling Pass, her form of dress would cause many to think she was an expensive prostitute. In Kanesville, it just caused stares, which the dark haired woman enjoyed. Despite the crowdedness of the restaurant, there was a large parameter around her, with a large guard dog at her feet.
As Faizel got half way to her, the dog looked up from the sausages in his bowl and stared in his direction. He seemed to know the man was headed towards them and began to growl before Faizel got close to the empty area. Orsola eyed the crowd, pointed at him with her four fingers, and motioned to him to come over to her. She snapped her fingers twice and complemented the dog, "Buonissimo."
She eyed the man as he took to a seat. She found him attractive, though found his brown pullover sweater and black and white striped pants to be the opposite. The dog went back to quietly eating. Orsola grinned at Faizel and winked, "So what can I do for ya, handsome?"
He quickly flashed a pirate symbol with his hand, with her responding in kind, "Should of known it would be business. I'm on break from the whole riff-raff. The question still stands though."
Faizel did his best not cringe. He could tell getting her to join wasn't going to be easy and he wasn't sure how long her could tolerate her or this hectic environment, "I am Faizel Naji, the boatswain for the Steamhawke. We seek a navigator who can not only navigator our ship, but also the jungle territory."
"Faizel? How is that promotion workin' for ya? Was that two years ago?" Orsola tapped her cigarette holder, causing ashes to fall on to an empty small plate that already had some, "Jungle territory, huh? Well I haven't traveled there and the area is largely unmapped, but why is the boatswain askin' me and not the captain or the first mate?"
"I am doing well," Faizel sighed slightly at all of her questions, "The captain and first mate are doing urgent business."
"Hmm...fascinating," the woman gave him a look he couldn't quite process, "I haven't heard of the Steamhawke. I take it she's a fairly new ship. Who's the captain?"
Orsola snorted and waved at Faizel dismissively, "Disastrous Daenelia? You've got to be kiddin'. I know people who just barely escaped with their lives from one of her crazy adventures. So what windmill is she chasin' now?"
Faizel cringed but felt the need to answer, "The lost treasure of Quazlatah."
"Quazlatah? Minchia, that's stupid even for her. Can't say I give a fuck, but I'm curious, who did she rope in this time for this?" She took a bite of her bacon wrapped oysters. Faizel noted the small sparkle of the oysters signifying they were preserved with alchemy.
He glared at Orsola but decided to humor her, relieved she wasn't joining, "Ashrieda Sjaarda, Leftheris Vunos, Brem de Berg, Carol Summers---"
"Figures she'd hire the psycho."
"---and Maraea Morgan."
"Captain Morgan?" Orsola's mouth dropped open showing it still filled with food, "What's Goldilocks doin' there?"
Faizel answered curiously, "She's our new first mate."
"Hmm...well then, it looks like you've got yourself a new navigator, Buttons." She grinned and tapped the ring on her right hand. Putting her hand under her chin, Orsola remembered the times she was a crew member on Maraea's ship, the Phoenix. The mutiny certainly wasn't fun, but she did meet Åke near the end of her tenure. Maraea was one of her favorite captains and being on a crew with her again was too fun to pass up.
"Buttons?" Faizel looked down on his buttonless sweater.
"It's cute. Unless you want me to call ya somethin' else?" She winked playfully, her strange eye with the strip of dark brown left open, and then turned serious, "Anyway, business to attend to, Buttons. If I'm gonna to be dyin' soon, I want to be paid accordingly. I mean I also have my four legged friend Ennio to tend to. I don't come cheap."
He glared at her, his eyes narrowing. Faizel took out a pen and paper from his pocket and began to write down an offer. It was considered rude to say numbers out loud and would put both of them in danger with all of the angry workers in the room.
As he was writing up a sum, the cook of the place arrived with the plate of sausage, "Here you are, Miss. Consider it on the house. It isn't often someone arrives with oysters they want cooked."
As Faizel put the note down, she grinned in response, "Pleasure is mine. The way you prepared it was much better than what I suggested to you. Chef's knows best, right? Name's Orsola."
The cook chuckled at her response, "I like that saying. My name is Jeremiah. Where did you get these oysters? What brings you here?"
Noticing her ignoring the piece of paper, Faizel grabbed it and wrote another offer. Orsola dropped the sausages into the large empty bowl on the floor, which Ennio happily began to eat, "Davenport. I had to get an alchemist preserve these. Wasn't cheap I'll tell ya. I'm here headin' out further west. A good chunk of this land isn't well mapped out. I figured this would be a nice way to spend my vacation. Though it might be cut short if I get a good offer."
With the mention of getting a good offer, Faizel once again grabbed the paper and put in another offer.
"That accent are you from---"
"Jeremiah, we have orders!"
"Viteliu! We'll chat later," Orsola laughed kissing the palm of her hand towards him in affection. She turned to Faizel grabbing the piece of paper and paper. "Wasn't that nice, Buttons?"
Looking at the paper first in confusion and then laughing, she put a bubble around the second crossed out sum, and handed it back to him, "I couldn't stop the conversation to look at that. It would have been rude. You are a hoot, Buttons! This one is roughly what I had in mind. Don't want to break the bank."
Faizel looked at her in embarrassment, but before he could say anything she added, "Now I have some stipulations. One, I can't work with a captain who doesn't allow certain races, ethnicities, or religions. Two, if I'm not happy, I'm leavin' at any time. Three, is there anything I should know about before officially joinin'?"
"The captain accepts all races, ethnicities, and religions. Two is accepted." Faizel answered professionally and then said in a lower voice, "One of our members is accused of being the vaudeville murderer. Also, Captain Daenelia killed Kevin Price for attempted mutiny. He tried to create a council behind her back. She doesn't believe they work."
Orsola nodded, taking a bite of her dinner, slowly eating it before swallowing as she processed the information and answered in unusually quiet voice, "Vaudeville murders? Interesting. I remember Kevin. I worked with him on a ship once. Should of been a lawyer or somethin'. Always had his head in the clouds talkin' about justice or some such. As far as councils go, I've had a bad experience there. Can't say I give a damn about any of those murders. Doesn't involve me. I'm keepin' ya on one and two. I'm not big on violence, but I do have this big dog here who isn't."
He looked at the dog with apprehension, "Noted."
"You're ready to go now, Buttons. You look tired and stressed." She flicked her scarf and smiled, "Just let Ennio give you a good sniff. We'll find our way."
Faizel would normally argue with someone telling him what to do who wasn't the captain or the first mate, but was relieved at the prospect of leaving. Apprehensively he let the drooling dog sniff one of the legs of his pants, getting slobber on it. It was then he noticed how immaculate she looked. Not only her outfit, but it seemed that not even a hair on her head was out of place. He wondered how long and hard that was to maintain with a dog like that.
"Pleasure doin' business with you, teammate. Into the mouth of the wolf!"
A shiver went down his spine as she said that. It was an old Viteliuan phrase to mean good luck, not that Faizel knew that as the times he spent in the nation he spent on the ship. He never had a teammate from the nation long enough know any of their phrases either. Logically he knew her meaning wasn't literal, but between everything that was happening in the dormitories and meeting her, he felt like he was.
"Maybe we were better off without a navigator." He thought to himself as he walked out.
Soon after he left, Orsola finished the last bite of her dinner. She side eyed the entire room before clasping her hands and half whispering, half mouthing, a quick after dinner grace in Hebrew, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of numerous living beings and their needs, for all the things You have created with which to sustain the soul of every living being. Blessed is He who is the Life of the worlds."
As she opened her eyes and looked around the room, she laughed at the memory of being on her first pirate ship having to eat shellfish and salted pork because there was nothing else available. With each bite she tried not to look up at the sky in wait that God would smite her. Over a decade at sea, she developed a fondness for unkosher food and food preparation. As it was she could already see her older brother scolding her for praying over such food.
"Maybe one of these days I'll give up pork and shellfish." Orsola sighed.
Ennio let out a loud cynical sounding bark.
"I guess you're right, Ennio. Who am I foolin'?" She laughed in response as she got up from her seat, "Looks like we're going on an adventure."