Chapter 74: A Few Wagers

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Despite its northerly setting, the city of Saefel Caeld is never approached by ships from the south. If the rocks don't ward off mariners, then it is the Coldspire, which, come too close, and the ship would freeze and become a glacier, an ice-covered hull incapable of steering itself. A practical mariner must sail out west, and then arc back in to port.

-A Practical Mariner's Guide to the Albic Seas, Author unknown.

***

Skaria lurched forward, face green, grabbed the rail with a white-knuckle grip, and vomited over the edge. Again. 

It took some time for her to get over her seasickness, but Skaria would eventually. If anything, throwing up made her feel a little better. It relieved some of the pain, took some of the edge off of the queasiness.

"Seasick?" Indra asked, approaching her. They both wore their cloaks, and when Skaria turned to look, Indra wore her hood up, and her dark hair blended in with the shadows of the hood.

"What does it bloody look like?" Skaria asked. She wiped a trace of bile off the corner of her mouth and spat back out into the sea. "Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something." She was about to speak, but instead of words, she felt her gorge rise. "Hold on," she managed to get out before emptying the rest of her stomach over the edge.

With her breakfast floating away in the surf, Skaria grimaced and turned back to Indra. "There. Knew breakfast would be a bloody bad idea," she said. Karik'ar had pressured her into it, kind of. Well, he had told her to eat, to keep her strength up. Of course, she couldn't keep any food down for a good day or two. She had been on ships before. Nasty things, ships. Really just open wooden coffins. It didn't matter how open you made it. It was still a coffin.

"Okay, okay. I think I can talk now." Skaria said. Her stomach was empty now, but it was still dancing and jumping around like a mad monkey. "You did that on purpose, with Kyra and Laidu."

"I did what on purpose?" Indra asked innocently, blue eyes wide. "I only wanted Kyra not to freeze to death or lose a toe to frostbite, and I don't want to bother her with the thaumaturgic heater. After all, it would cause her pain. You saw her when she was just drawing this," she said, indicating the scrap of parchment she kept tucked in one of the pockets of her cloak. "Just imagine days of dealing with that!"

"Please," Skaria said. "You're just using that as an excuse." 

"An excuse?" Indra asked. "So you think I don't actually care about the wellbeing of my charge? Of our bounty? I doubt Lord Solstael would be happy if his daughter said that her rescuers were forcing her to stay in a room that made her head hurt, that gave her headaches. That was what I suggested was the case. Have you kept abreast with the political rumors within Saefel Caeld?"

"No," Skaria said. "My focus is on who I beat up. Not which politician is sleeping that other's politician's wife." She paused. "Why?"

"Well, there was always a rumor that Lord Solstael's daughter was sickly and weak, and that was why she was rarely seen. But she's whole and hale, as we see. Think. Caeld is a place of high learning, of noble study. Thaumaturgy is used quite commonly. Almost every district has a thaumaturgy engineer. How terrible would it seem if the daughter of a very famous and important politician collapsed in the street? That seems much more likely."

"Yeah." Skaria frowned. "She's in better shape, good shape really. Some of those daughters are kind of disgusting-looking. Or their sons. Half the time, I cannot tell the bleedin' difference."

"There is a sort of...androgyny that my of the younger nobles seem to aspire to," Indra admitted. "Based off of some ridiculous philosopher's musings. Part of the anti-nature movement."

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