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Familiar Strangers

Posted on Sat Jun 15th, 2013 @ 3:57pm by Master Ashrieda Sjaarda

Mission: Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys

As the scorching western sun beat down upon her head, Ashrieda decided that being on land was the absolute worst. She had almost hoped that the ship would have gone down in the storm, but she had remembered that she would have gone down in the storm too, and she hadn’t fancied the idea of dying all that much.

Harling Pass -- "the Pass", as she heard some locals call it, wasn't much, she soon found out. As far as she could tell, most of the people roaming about were farmers, though there were a few extravagantly dressed women as well. Apparently, giant frilly skirts were in this year. She wrinkled her nose at the women in distaste.

Normally, her first course of action would have been to obtain enough whiskey to make this situation a bit more bearable, but they had already stirred up enough trouble in the saloon, and Ashrieda didn’t think it was wise to put in another appearance just yet.

Her second thought was that she needed a new belt. Which is how she found herself in the dry goods store. Inside were more ladies in obnoxious skirts, confirming her fashion related suspicions. Being the sort of community it was, most of the textiles in stock were the practical kind -- cotton, linen, muslin, denim. A bolt of pretty chintz caught her eye, cream with tiny pink rosettes. There was no way she was going to buy it, not in her line of work, but she leaned forward to inspect it anyway, instinctively putting the fabric to her nose.

Someone was watching her.

She whirled around and found herself face to face with a finely dressed gentleman who was painfully obviously not a local.

"Miss Quinn. Fancy seeing you here," he said, the false surprise evident in his voice.

"You've got the wrong person, I'm afraid," Ashrieda replied cooly.

"No, I don't think I do, Miss Quinn. Mrs. Sjaarda. Whoever you're calling yourself nowadays."

Ashrieda cringed. "I've got nothing. Same as I told you and your friends last time. And the time before. And the time before that, and all the other twenty times. Gotta admire your persistence, though. You should try giving less of a damn, like I do. For your own good.

The gentleman laughed. "Oh I know that. Unlike my friends, I've always know you were pretty useless. I just wanted to give you a present. I'd have given it to you a long time ago, but you're a difficult person to catch." He held out a neatly folded newspaper.

Ashrieda didn't budge. "Not interested."

"Are you sure?" He shrugged. "Well, if you change your mind, and I have a feeling you will..." He trailed off, laying the newspaper on top of the chintz. "You have yourself a nice day ma'am." He tipped his hat to her as he strode out. Ashrieda stared after him, her hands clinched into fists.

It hit her before she knew what was happening. She was going to die -- she couldn't breathe, her heart was racing, her head was spinning. She hadn't been vigilant! Frantically, she didn't see anything suspicious.

Still, she had to get out of there. Snatching up the newspaper, she bolted, forgetting all about her search for a belt. She needed that whiskey.


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