RP PotHN: In Another Life [1x1]


Active member
The small figurine had laid forgotten in her trunk, buried beneath tousled fabric and the madness that’d preoccupied her mind since their arrival in the Ice Lands. One evening, while sorting through her belongings, imagining where everything might go once she purchased herself some furniture, Alys stumbled upon it. Pulled out a small knife and perfected it, smoothing out one of the edges. And once she was happy with it, instead of returning it into the chest, she slipped it into her pocket and left the room.

Stopping only upon reaching the mess. It was quiet enough, and with the crew already fed for the night, Alys assumed that the new cook had left his new prison. Still, she listened for noise beyond the door, and when she didn’t find it, the fae pushed through.
The kitchen was quiet. Pris liked it that way, sometimes. She didn't feel like she was getting in the way. They had a new cook, one who was very good at cooking, and so she'd sort of been leaving him to it and finding other things to do. On a ship like this, there was always something to do. The goats and the chickens needed taking care of sometimes, and she didn't mind that. And when everyone left for the night, she'd usually scrub the pots that had been left to soak, so that they would be ready for morning.

She didn't really mind it, scrubbing pots. Lady Fingers helped with the sticky bits, and no one ever complained that Pris was cleaning pots as long as it got done. Plus, it was something that could be done later, when the kitchen was quiet and people were off in their rooms doing whatever it was they did in the evening. Drinking, some of them, if they weren't busy with the ship. Some people had hobbies, though - even reading. She could read a little bit. Mr. King and Hetty had taught her that, with the old necromancy books. The books on this ship didn't have much necromancy in them.

She hadn't done much necromancy on this ship either. She supposed she was going to end up not being very good at it, because it was something you had to practice, but... well, Mr. O'Cain hadn't really seemed all that interested in an army of skeletons, and neither had the captain before him. Also, if Pris raised an army of skeletons, she might end up with a bunch of skeletons who didn't listen, so maybe that wouldn't be very good. Maybe it would be nice to have one skeleton, though, a tall one to get things down off of high shelves and put them away again. Maybe an extra femur and knee joint?

But people on this ship were sort of weird about the skeletons, too. They kept dumping the bodies overboard before they even used them, which seemed somehow a little wasteful. Mr. King always had plenty of bodies lying around.

Maybe that wasn't the best thing after all, though. Those bodies had been people once, even if they weren't really any more. Pris scrubbed thoughtfully at a stubborn bit of burned-on grease, looking up as the door opened. Not the cook, good. Just Miss Alys. Even better, really.

"Hi, Miss Alys. Did you need something?"
Her eyes immediately fell onto the girl who stood over the wash basin, sleeves bunched up her arms, forearms and hands a soapy mess. Clever enough to remain out of sight, most of the time, yet when found, always doing something. Alys liked that about Pris, likely because she'd been the same.

That didn't make it fucking right.

A lazy smile found her lips and she stepped fully into the kitchen, letting the door close behind her. "Maybe," she said with a shrug. "You always seem to be working. Do you like staying so busy?"
That seemed like a very strange question. It probably wasn't, not really, but it seemed very strange. Pris didn't think anyone had ever really asked her that before. "Well..." Well wasn't an answer, but she had to think about it for a moment, and it was the sort of start to a sentence that gave her enough time to figure out the rest of it.

"What else would I do?" That did seem to be the rest of it, didn't it? They were on a ship, a flying ship. It wasn't like there was really anywhere to go - not that Pris would have wanted to go anywhere even if there were options. She shrugged her shoulders, and wiped at the pot a little more.

"Besides," she added, cheerfully, "If you're already busy, people are less likely to tell you what to do. Or tell you to get off the ship. I thought if I could be useful, maybe I could stay. Mr. King never had much patience for people who aren't useful. And Mr. O'Cain doesn't seem to need a whole lot of necromancy done, so I've been trying to do other things."
"You're terribly smart, do you know that?" Alys replied, her lazy smile broadening. Turning her body, she gracefully hopped up onto the bare counter, likely scrubbed clean by the young girl. "Sometimes it's good to hide that," she added, a little more quietly.

She kept the conversation moving though, refusing to let it become serious. "How about doing something for fun. Have you ever tried that?"
"I'm usually pretty good at hiding," Pris mentioned. She'd been hiding for as long as she could remember - even before she could remember, she thought. If she had been noticed when she was still too little to be useful... well, Mr. King had a certain way of doing things, and she knew just as well as anyone she'd have ended up just one more soul keeping the ship alive. It was easier to hide, when you were little - but it wasn't easier to be useful. She didn't know what to think about that.

Alys' next question resulted in what was probably a now-familiar shrug. "I pet the goats sometimes." She liked the goats. And it was easy to look busy, when you were with goats. Petting them wasn't that different from examining their hide for signs of injury, so she could always pretend she'd been doing that if she got caught.

"I don't know, Miss Alys. Mostly what people seem to do for fun around here is drink that awful stuff. And I really don't want to do that."
"Fair enough. More for me," Alys said, with a shrug, doing little to hide the amusement on her face. "I hope you give Gracie some cuddles too - is she still around?" She asked, almost absentmindedly, picturing the small, white bundle of fur that they'd collected from the Ice Lands.

"Wasn't Emer teaching you how to knit?" It seemed like ages ago now, with all that'd happened since. But it had happened, and if she recalled correctly, they'd made a deal. A carving for a scarf. But as she reached into her pocket, fingers brushing against the wooden structure, bringing it out and gently placing it on the counter, she didn't speak a word about it. "This is one of the things I like to do. For fun."

With her fingers, she slid the wooden goat towards Pris. "For you. For when you can't be with the goats."
"Gracie's usually in the brig," Pris said, then realized how that probably sounded. "Um, on purpose, I mean. Not like she's in trouble. But I think she likes it there. She seems to like places that are dark and cold. She doesn't seem to need much. I still like the goats better. But she's all right."

The question about knitting brought to mind the fact that she was supposed to be knitting a scarf for Miss Alys. She had tried - really, she had - but it kept coming out wrong. She wasn't very good at it yet, and Miss Alys... well, it just seemed wrong to give her something that came out wrong. Miss Emer helped her learn, when she had the time, but Pris didn't want Miss Emer to do it for her. That wouldn't have been the same at all.

Miss Alys' carving was a lot better than Pris' attempts at knitting, that was for sure. It actually looked like a goat, for one. Pris' scarves did not always look like scarves. "For... me?" She didn't know what to do about that. "I don't... have your scarf ready." It was a hesitant admission. "I've tried, but... I'm not very good. And you deserve it to be really good. You're... you should have pretty things, Miss Alys. I mean, pretty things that people give you. Not just because you stole them from somewhere. They're still pretty but it doesn't count."
For me? In response to the hesitation, Alys nodded once, keen eyes observing Pris' reaction, listening as she began to speak. She understood; the need to be decent, all for the simple sake of survival, and for that reason, she was more than prepared to reassure the girl. A deal was a deal, that was an important lesson in itself, but there was no pressure. No time limit to make something she was proud of. Though with each passing word, her expression softened, something in her chest tightening. “And why wouldn't it count?"
"I... don't know. It just feels like it doesn't." Pris shrugged uncomfortably, trying to figure out how to put her feelings into words that made sense - or at least some words, even if they didn't make sense. "Anyone can steal things." She'd seen that often enough. She'd grown up on a pirate ship, and now she was on another one. Stealing things was the way the world worked, most of the time.

"Giving things is different. When you steal something, it's just a thing. But when someone gives it to you, it... I don't know. It means something. Maybe. Sorry. I guess I don't know much about all this, anyway." Her fingers moved, turning over the carved goat, her thumb stroking the top of its head and rubbing at the little wooden nubs of horns, just like if it were a real goat - though a very tiny one.

"Does Mr. O'Cain give you things?"
The tightness in her chest was just the beginning. She felt the sensation spread up the length of her neck, like a tiny wave of scorching heat. It sat at the back of her throat, constricting. Neither a conscious swallow nor a deeper breath made the feeling go away.

The girl was terribly smart, smarter than Alys. But what could a little girl truly know about such complicated things?

"I..." She began, voice catching in her throat. Her lips pressed together gently before she tried again, pairing her answer with the slightest nod. "He has." The long forgotten dagger with the glittering sapphire. The necklace of golden stars.

And she'd given him something too.

"So that must mean something then," Alys continued, repeating Pris' words of wisdom. "Do you know what that means to me?" She asked suddenly, nodding towards the goat, eager to change the subject.

Alys did like Mr. O'Cain. Well, why not? People ought to be happy, and they seemed to be happier when they were with other people. Not that Pris was exactly interested in that sort of thing, but also, she was eleven. Or maybe she was twelve, now. She wasn't sure she was ready to be twelve. Twelve sounded like a lot. She'd be eleven for a while longer, then. It wasn't like she really knew, anyway.

Alys changed the subject, which was probably a good thing for both of them. The little carved goat was a much nicer subject. Pris looked down at it, turning it over in her hands, wondering what it did mean. It meant something, didn't it? She wanted it to mean something.

Does it mean we're friends? She was afraid to ask.

"I... don't know. Not exactly. What does it mean?"

Now that she'd asked, she was afraid of the answer.
What did it mean? The exchange of gifts, thoughtful gifts, had to mean something. They'd established that.

Alys had thought about Pris while she carved. It'd taken time, longer than it usually did. Usually, her carvings weren't gifts, so their edges weren't entirely rounded. Their outer layers were skinned, yes, but the wooden flesh was cut with efficiency rather than gentleness. That was her instinct, after all these years.

She'd seen flashes of the carving she'd been given in her own childhood. For her, it'd been a fox, one with characteristically large, triangular ears, one not native to her coastal town. Quick and mischievous and able to withstand the strongest sandstorms. That's what she'd been told. And then she'd been shown. Larger, deeply tanned hands had demonstrated and guided, showing how to be gentle and precise with a knife.

Those movements came back to her, allowing her to shave away the thinnest of slivers.

She'd been happy once. She'd received gifts once, even if they were only wooden carvings. She'd played and loved once. And Pris deserved that too. She deserved that.

"It means... that I want you to be happy. And that I'm glad you're my friend."
Lightning-quick, there was a smile, because it was really everything that Pris had been hoping would be true. "I'm glad you're my friend, too." She'd hoped they were, but sometimes it was hard to know.

But Miss Alys was a friend, and that was a good thing. She had more friends here, she'd noticed. On the Truth Teller there had always been Hetty, but here she had Miss Emer too, and now Miss Alys.

"Do you think I'll be like you, when I grow up?" That wouldn't be such a bad thing, she thought. Pris liked Miss Emer a lot, but she didn't think she had the patience to be Miss Emer. Also, she didn't really want to spend a lot of time around people who were sick or hurt. She had to find some way to be a good pirate, though - and Miss Alys seemed like she knew what she was doing.
Laughter erupted within the kitchen, though it quieted almost as quickly as it'd begun. She wasn't exactly the greatest example, but the more she thought about it, there wasn't really anyone on the ship who was decent enough to fit the mold. Maybe Emer, but even Emer had a great deal of faults. Pris was better off getting as far away from all of them as possible.

"I don't know. Your options here are pretty fucking limited here - Emer's pretty great. Not sure about Hetty, but she must be if you two are friends. But is that what you want?" To be like her?
"I... don't know. I want to be on a ship, though. And... I'm not completely sure most ships have a lot of necromancers on them. So I probably need to do something else." She sighed, turning the little wooden goat over in her hands. "Maybe you'll be the captain by then, then you can just tell me what you want me to do. I think that would be easier."
Alys could answer the question for her - no, there certainly weren't many ships with necromancers on them. She'd been apart of many crews, large and small, with all sorts of people and creatures. And necromancers weren't the most common. A true shame that the Teller held the reputation that it did; for most people, people who had at least one decent bone on their body, the horrors weren't worth it. Perhaps that's why the ship housed some of the worst.

"I'm not fit to be a Captain," she replied simply, disregarding the statement as if it she'd rehearsed the answer. As if she believed it.

"Is that what you'd like to do when you grow up? Continue to learn and practice necromancy?"
A shrug. "I don't know. Mr. King said I had a talent for it. I don't think I'm very good - Lady Fingers hardly ever listens - but I probably could be. If I practiced. Mr. King thought I would be, anyway." Pris sighed, not really sure what to do with that information. "I don't know if that's really what I want to do, though. If I got really good at it, I could make a skeleton army. But then what? I don't even want a skeleton army. What would I do with it? I thought about maybe making a bunch of skeletons to chop carrots and potatoes in the kitchen, but that seemed a little silly somehow. And then if there were someone like me, you know, later in the future - they wouldn't have anything to do to be useful."

And then whoever that was would be stuck, and maybe they'd get thrown off the ship. So, no, vegetable chopping skeletons didn't seem to be the answer, even if Lady Fingers was pretty good at it. "I don't think that's what I want. It just feels bad not to. Like I'm... wasting something."

She turned the little goat over in her hands. It was just a scrap of wood, but it wasn't wasted. "I think you'd be a good Captain."
I think you'd be a good Captain.

Alys mused over the opinion, growing thoughtful, but only for a moment. It was a topic that Pris seemed interested in, having mentioned it twice now. But quite unlike the first time, Alys didn't entertain it. Perhaps that'd discourage a third attempt.

"Well have you tried anything else? Aside from chopping potatoes? And caring for the animals? Maybe you'd like to be a healer - someone like Emer. Or learn how to patch the sails? There's also rigging..." She was half tempted to mention making other things, though she was sure Mal would gut her for having the idea. "Or you could learn to use a sword..."

She'd been around Pris' age - maybe a little older - when she'd finally gotten her hands on one. It'd been something like a needle, though sharp enough to inflict some serious damage. Alys remembered that sword well.
"I don't want to be a healer," Pris said, quite emphatically. "Back on the Truth Teller... it was always sort of nice, when they stopped screaming. I didn't like the noise. The mess doesn't bother me, but... I didn't like the noise. And a healer is pretty much trying to keep the screaming going for as long as possible, really." No, Pris did not think she would make a very good healer.

"Maybe I could learn about sails. Or rigging. I suppose that's kind of like knitting, except it's supposed to end up in knots, so maybe I'd be good at that..." This was more a lament than any sort of claim to fame, really. "What would I do with a sword? What do you do, with a sword?"