Making A Run For It


Jaya.jpg Shijan.jpg Sego (NPC)

Date: March 27, 2011
Location: Docks, Tillek / Road and cave systems, High Reaches area
Synopsis: Fulfilling another mission of Kelarad's Jaya and Shijan smuggle one of his men into Borrento's territory.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

The details have been laid out for Kelarad's mission. Jaya came up with the idea of entering the Reaches under the cover of a small trader wagon - something that wouldn't be too suspicious since she'll also be using the same trails that traders do that enter the territory. On the Tillekian docks, while waiting for the person they'll be smuggling into the Reaches, both her and Shijan spent some time laying decor to a small wagon that Kelarad got for them along with prepping the two runners that will be attached to the wagon. If anyone were to look in the wagon itself, they would find it stocked with crates and crates of fabric - Jaya was going to keep up the ruse by wearing some of the not-too flashy fabric herself, draping it over the knives she conceals and her heavy soled boots. She wanted to look for all intents and purposes like a dutiful traderwoman and wife to Shijan, making sure that her dark hair falls over the scar on the side of her face and remains there with the dark blue headshawl she has wrapped over herself. "How ironic," she murmurs to Shijan, passing a look his way as she finishes up painting her part of the wagon. Ironic being the word from past conversations from her turnday on hitching a wagon and heading out to open space. In fact, that was partly where she got the idea from. Dressed already in the planned clothes from head to toes, she takes a look around them at the growing evening as dock workers start finishing up their work and heading in for supper. She feels compelled to lean over and add to her companion, "He should be here soon." She hopes, wanting to be on the road already, even though the path taken wouldn't be a long one to the cavernal destination. The length of road wouldn't be the problem, she knew - it would be the pairs of eyes Borrento would have trained on every path leading in and out of the Reaches territory that would be.

The irony in using a wagon to move between Tillek and High Reaches wasn’t lost on Shijan, a crooked show of amusement moulding his mouth to one side for the first since their arrival. Only one familiar with the former harper’s body language would be aware of the faint shift that suggests tension, he being anything but relaxed about venturing into the territory of the man that was after him. Dropping his paint brush into a bucket of water, then reaching for a rag on which to clean his hands he reaches for Jaya, looking to pull her briefly against him, playing the part of the ardent husband. Not that there was much acting needed on his part. In fact…iron resolve turns his thoughts from a path better less travelled given the current task ahead of them. “Not quite what I’d had in mind, Little One.” Obsidian eyes wash over her attire and then fingers take up a section of the shawl worn over her head, drape it over the lower half of her face and over a shoulder, “The women of my clan wear it like this.” Perhaps a strange thing to make note of. Loosing his hold on Jaya he steps back and pulls the hood of the cloak he’s wearing over his head, putting his face into deep shadow, wariness prevalent for the eyes Borrento might have even there on the Tillekian docks. Nodding to her comment, he gives a short nod and moves to once again check over the harnesses and traces of the two sturdy runnerbeasts, “The sooner this is done, the better.”

When Shijan pulls her close, Jaya playfully uses the small gob of red paint with one finger and pops it on his nose. She can feel the tension in his frame, but she's chalking it up to being alert to the mission up ahead - which there was nothing wrong with that. Having smuggled for a good chunk of her life, her frame was relaxed and calm - maybe arrogant, even. Playing the dutiful wife to those that should be watching, "You can make it up to me later," she states to not being what he had in mind, the smile easy. "Still," and her tone drops as she then leans to brush her lips on his, "no one is going to suspect traders passing through territories. I was thinking we can pass by the destination and move on to the Istan docks." She was speaking low so that only he would hear, looking about them furtively. "We'll lose some days, but at least we'll lose anyone that we pick up tagging us." When he drapes the shawl over her mouth, she secures it and her eyes show the smile that's not visible any longer. "One day you and I are going to speak about your people….about things like this," she tells him, enjoying the little tidbits he's been dropping. Once he looses her from his hold, she studies his attire and follows him to runners when he moves away. It's only then that she realizes that they were being dutifully watched - by a child. The boy looked no more than 12 turns old, his dark hair standing on ends and looks as if it hasn't seen a brush in turns. His eyes were wide and darted about easily, hazel in color, and his clothes were shabby at best. He looks easy to miss unless you were to seek him out, which was probably what he was going for. Stepping aside from Shijan to regard him for a moment, "Where's Sego?" Jaya asks him with barely a kindly tone, slipping into business mode in short work in making the assumption that the boy was sent by Kelarad. The boy looks at Shijan, his clothes, then at the barkeep in turn for hers before stating matter-of-factly, "I am Sego."

Jaya’s playfulness goes a good way to strengthening that smile, even producing a short chuckle as he swipes playfully at her in return, “Minx!” Usually, such a situation would find Shijan just as at ease as the eastern barkeep appears to be. But these aren’t usual circumstances. Not for him. “You can bet your last mark that I plan to,” a brow lifting in suggestive manner. Her lips brushing against his are briefly captured, hawk-eyed gaze going over her shoulder, alert to the few still moving about the docks. “Ista?” surprise colouring his baritone, he having been of a mind to abandon the wagon once their ‘cargo’ has been delivered and catch the next available dragon out of Reachian territory. Though he doesn’t say as much for he’s gotten lost in the smile caught in her eyes once she hooks the shawl into place, “You might not like some of what you hear.” Any ominous undertones washed from thought by the amusement held in his tone. Caught under her study, he spreads his hands out to his sides, “You like?” His attire is simple, that of a trader. A white drawstring shirt, loosely laced at the neckline lies beneath the cloak that conceals both face and knives, worn black boots reach to just below his knees and cover trousers of a sturdy and functional weave. Hands still in their check of a strap and buckle and the former harper turns his head over his shoulder, black eyes dropping to the child silently observing them but he leaves the talking to Jaya, his mind reaching out to brush briefly against the boy’s. When the boy states that he is Sego, Shijan steps up to his ‘wife’s’ side and states quietly, “He speaks the truth.” Or so would be what he’d gotten in that light touch of minds.

The playful swipe gets a low chuckle from Jaya in return, his name for her getting a wink. He was starting to relax and she likes that. Suggestive manners get returned in kind, the Bitran enjoying this small moment between them that they have since once the business gets underway, it would all have to stopped for the most part. The kiss fully captured, the woman leaning in before breaking, "Ista," she says it again, pressing her fingers to his arm. "It looks better. Borrento watches everything that goes on in his territory." Thinking that sufficient explanation enough, she moves on to speak on his people and say, "Can't be as bad as the Dicoris," with flare, eyes falling over his attire when he shows it off. She nods her approval, running a finger down the front fabric of it before stating, "I like it. It suits you." Once her attention is caught by the boy, and he tells them that he was the one they were waiting for, confirmed by Shijan - "You are…?" she was finding that hard to believe, eyes narrowing at the boy. Sego looks from one to the other, and instead of answering, "Do I have to wear that, too?" he asks, gesturing towards Shijan's strange clothing. He appeared innocent, but one used to criminal elements could tell that there was more to the boy from first glance. Frowning and trying again, "You're the one we're taking into the Reaches," she makes that a statement more than a question, in which the boy looks at her then with his dark gaze and merely states, "Yes."

“Ista it is,” Shijan gives with the ease of one heading out on a Sunday afternoon wagon ride with his honey, neither expression nor tone belying whatever might be going on in that head of his. There’s even a trace of a grin with him quipping in return, “Perhaps we could do a comparison study of your people and mine, hmm?” Ever the harper when it comes to studying new things and learning more of the environment around him. The run of finger down the front of his attire draws a flash of heat to black eyes and then it’s gone, firmly shelved behind the businesslike demeanour he takes on once the boy becomes a part of the mix. Taking to lounging with one arm hooked up over the rump of a runnerbeast, amusement greets Sego’s query on clothing. “That would be the idea, yes.” Not mentioning that they’d brought clothing along with them that was more fitting for an adult. Hopefully Jaya has amongst her ‘stock’ something more suitable to the child of a trader and his wife. While the eastern barkeep and the lad exchange words, Shijan takes the opportunity to put him under closer study, a faint smirk flickering as he sees through the innocence, having used boys just like him to move information back and forth before Indira had found him.

"Comparison study, huh?" Jaya considers that for a moment, looking over their handiwork on the wagon before grinning and meeting Shijan's gaze again. "Whoever's family is crazier? The other buys them a commiserating drink," she offers, patting his back in a companionable fashion and catching that brief heated look before she looks over to the waiting Sego. She meets Shijan's gaze when he answers the boy, frowning a bit as she tries to remembering having stocked some clothing fit for a child. She turns then, stating over her shoulder, "I think I have something just for you that could work," before disappearing to the rear of the wagon. Inwardly, she was cursing Kelarad for leaving out the nature of the 'cargo' - something that indeed would have mattered. Well, it was too late to cry over marks already lost in a card game, as her father would say. While Jaya was gone, "What's yer name?" Sego asks Shijan, his curiosity evident as he studies him as much as he's being studied. One can tell this boy was taking in everything - the familiar way he caught both Jaya and Shijan being with each other, the authoritative voices they both had, and the way they in turn were taking in their surroundings. They weren't traders, that much he could gather. But then, there was a good chance that he wouldn't be seeing either of them again after this night. They were just his transport.

“Oh yours will likely win that one,” Shijan gives without apology on crazy families, “but mine will win hidebound, hands down. That I can almost guarantee. So how about we buy a bottle and split it between us, hmm?” She who has yet to get the man to drink. Obsidian regard follows Jaya until she disappears from view and then settles back onto the lad himself. “Kishan,” he gives without hesitation aware that the child was absorbing everything like a little sponge and not about to give him anything that might lead back to who he really is. Moving from his lounge against the runner, Shijan’s head tilts to one side, “You’re travelling light.” Not a question, a statement. Fitting Sego with a penetrating look, the question comes next, “Is there family you want to send word to that you’re safe?” Well, as safe as he can be in the hands of two total strangers being moved under the cover of dark from one area to another. And then leaving the lad to decide whether or not to answer that the former harper moves toward the front of the wagon, reaching for a carrysack under the buckboard, “Hungry?” Completely forgetting that he still has a blob of red paint on his nose, or perhaps doing so on purpose.

Before reaching the back of the wagon, Jaya perks up at hearing about the possibility of Shijan drinking with her - something he hasn't done since being assigned to her. "You'd drink?" she asks in open disbelief, knowing the man enjoys his self-control far too much to lose it in a bottle. Still, the interest was there on that offer by the crooked smile on her face, vanishing at the back to find something for Sego to wear. When Shijan gave his name to the boy, he frowns just a bit before his face clears and nods. Of course he was filing the name away in his memory. Not that he was expecting to see the lot of them again once he disappeared into the Reachian territory. He looks down at himself when Shijan mentions he was travelling light, no answer coming to the fore on that, but when he asks about family, "If you can find them," he gives, alluding to the fact that he was abandoned when he was younger. Eyes dart to the wagon itself, then the blob of paint still on Shijan's nose. "Do you work for Kelarad?" he asks then, since they were questioning each other, and he does perk up a bit at the thought of food - being from the lands, such necessities were hard to come by even when you worked for one of the crimelords of Pern.

“Given enough incentive,” Shijan answers with a sly cast to his expression and then Jaya’s disappearing into the wagon. Back to Sego and it’s his turn to frown when the lad intimates he’d been abandoned by his family. He says nothing to either that or the question asked him just yet, silent as he retrieves the carrysack and a waterskin, then crouching before the boy, he sets it on the ground and pulls out a breadroll and a big square of cheese. Sweeping the cloak aside, he unsheathes a belt knife and cuts a thick slice from the cheese and then holds both out to the boy, “Do you have somewhere to go?” His tone kept to one of idle interest rather than the concern that rises up, fuelled by his natural instinct to protect. A short smile flickers out as he reaches for the waterskin and sets it before Sego, “In a way.” This to whether or not he works for Kelarad.

Enough incentive was good enough for her. With the sounds of Jaya rummaging through the crates in the back of the wagon, Sego regards Shijan - or Kishan, rather - like he was only one running the mission. He watches him closely as he reveals some food and drink from his carrysack, eyes seeming to devour what's put forth before his mouth could. Eyes then flick towards that belt knife and once the bread and cheese and offered along with another question, "I know where I'm to go," he answers, the crafty wording both answering and not answering the question. Harper training, he has not, but the boy is a product of having to live in the harsh lands alone. He then sets to biting into the meal given, listening without looking up to the equally vague answer given to his question. Between mouthfuls, "Then you don't," he answers decisively like a grown-up, meeting Shijan's piercing gaze. "Kelarad doesn't work with in-betweens." At that moment Jaya appears with some clothing in hand, her gaze going from her bodyguard to the boy eating before them with veiled interest and the words, "Don't dirty these, hear? I haven't got the marks to pay for them." She would have tossed them Sego's way if she knew he had the hands to catch them, so for now she stands there holding onto them until her cargo is finished eating.

Black eyes slip sideways at the sounds coming from the back of the wagon, amusement showing briefly and then settle back onto the boy, “Knowing where you are to go and knowing where you want to go, are two different things young Sego. But something tells me you’re already aware of this.” His smile approving of the boy’s survival instincts despite the concern that continues to gnaw at his gut. Wry the expression that graces ‘Kishan’s’ expression when the boy draws the correct conclusion with regards to whether or not they work for Kelarad. Watching as the boy eats, his hand dips into the carrysack, “I would imagine a lad such as yourself is easily overlooked, hmm?” pulling out a redfruit, dessert if you will, “Been at it with Kelarad for long then?” Given that the boy seems to know a lot about how the Tillekian operates. The ‘trader’s’ head swings up as Jaya reappears with cautionary words to Sego for the clothing she’s found for him and something about the admonishment given by her, causes a glint of amusement to light dark eyes.

Sego says nothing to the first of course - he's not that harper-like clever. He does smile a bit though, having come to the decision that the man was okay to deal with since he talked plainly, didn't treat him like a child like most, and gave him something to eat. That counted for something. He practically swallows the bread, washing it down with something to drink as he watches every move Shijan takes with open interest now as that question put to him on being overlook gets a bland "Sometimes." Beat. "I always hear things I shouldn't," he decides to add more, not finding any harm in revealing one of his assets. The topic of Kelarad is an easier one - safer, maybe - and so the question gets a bit more animated, "He found me! He likes what I hear, and pays me." Eyes fall on that redfruit then almost greedily, having perhaps dropped his reason for this mission. With Jaya now there, and his hands still full, Sego looks at the clothing and frowns. "I'll dirty it anyway," he remarks cheekily, looking pointedly down at his shabby body, in which has the Bitran woman giving him a curt look. Catching Shijan's amusement on the matter, "I'll bathe in a river as soon as I can," the boy seems to concede, and Jaya tacks on behind him, "You'll bathe in a river or somewhere before these-" and she lifts the clothing "-touches you." Sego looks mutinous, but one look at Jaya's eyes and he sighs his defeat and turns towards Shijan with a hopeful look towards that redfruit.

A low chuckle spills at the boy’s confession and he gives in true harper form, “When the mouth closes, the ears open,” with an approving nod he adds, “Few in this life learn that lesson.” Having watched as Sego all but fell on the breadroll and cheese and then eyes the redfruit in such a manner a light frown threatens though not for the child’s demeanour but rather that a child is in such a position to begin with, children being considered precious amongst his people given the hard life that they live. “So he’s sending you into the Reaches to gather information,” he states matter-of-factly on Sego’s reason for being taken up that way and then tacks in another question, “You were on your own long before he found you?” Shijan looks about to add more but then Jaya’s putting her foot down with regards to the clothes she has for the lad. The redfruit in hand he stands to his feet again and sends their ‘cargo’ a grin as he holds it out to him, “Best do as she says or a dragon flaming Thread will look tame in comparison,” a conspiratorial wink sent to the child and a cocky smirk the dark haired woman’s way well aware of the temper on his feisty barkeep. Hawk-eyed gaze sweeping across the now almost deserted docks, his words are sent Jaya’s way, “There’s a bath house not far from here,” how he knows that he’s not saying, “I could take him down there.” Not too happy about the idea of stopping somewhere along the road, in the dark.

Sego nods through a mouthful of cheese, the boy having indeed learned such lessons early. He's almost done with the bread, not refuting Shijan on speaking about his mission - he saw it as inevitable for them to find out anyway. That and they weren't Borrento. "Have you met Borrento?" he suddenly asks him, the question random but of interest to the boy. With another question sent his way, he pauses for a moment - taking a swallow of the drink - "Most part," he answers easily, leaning back on the balls of his feet. "I hang here on the docks mostly. 'M good with fishing, and some will pay me with marks or food. Kelarad caught me one day." The story was a common one, really. Crimelord finds some boy on his docks selling his men spoiled fish for marks. Jaya's listening by this point, interest flickering her gaze, but the boy looks her way and instantly clams up. It was clear he was more used to the company of men than women. Taking the redfruit from Shijan, "Fine," he gives on conceding to Jaya - for all he knew, the woman probably did have a dragon hiding somewhere ready to flame him to bits. "Very well," Jaya agrees to Shijan taking Sego to the bath house, her gaze lingering on the boy as she says it before meeting his gaze. "I'll get the wagon ready for departure." Handing the clothes over to the former harper then, "You boys don't take too long, hear?" she sends with a grin, a light in her eyes before she turns to send Sego a scrutinizing look and turning back to the wagon to continue prepping.

Shijan’s jaw turns fractionally at the name spoken and he gives a curt nod of head, “Aye.” That to having met Borrento, “You watch yourself around him, hmm?” The concern in his gut starting to grow for the Reachian crimelord wasn’t a man that children, even those grown wise to the ways of the lands, should be around. But he wasn’t at the point of interfering with Sego’s mission. Yet. The way he clams up in front of Jaya taken note of. The redfruit handed over, the bodyguard gestures toward the clothing she holds amusement chasing the shadows in his eyes away, “Unless you want the boy strutting his wares down the docks on his return from the baths, I think we’ll be needing those.” And then, under the cover of their role as 'husband and wife', he’ll try to steal a kiss before giving her a mock salute and cocky “Yes ma’am,” to not taking too long. Turning back to the boy he gestures with a tip of head in the direction of the bathing house, “So you’re a fisherman, hmm? What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?” Taking up easy conversation as they walk the short distance turning his head just the once, dark regard unreadable when it touches on Jaya busying herself with the wagon.

Sego watches that barely-there reaction with a flicker of interest. What does the trader have to do with Borrento? It could be general wariness - those that know of the Reachian crimelord would do well to steer clear of him. Sego was certain he would be dead if he was caught by that man rather than by the Tillekian. So he nods to the warning, stating simply, "I'm keeping to the shadows. He won't catch me." If he's smart and fast enough, that is. With the redfruit in hand, he takes a bite into it while the two traders talk, watching them furtively without giving away that he was. Jaya gives into that stolen kiss from Shijan in front of Sego, leaning into it momentarily before breaking it briefly touching his shoulder as she passes the clothes over. Dark eyes fall on the boy again as they head off, missing the look given her way as she returns to her own work and the boy trots off at Shijan's side looking like the two belonged together. "That yer wife?" he asks now that Jaya is out of earshot, passing a look over his shoulder now at the dark-haired woman busying herself with the wagon. To answer his question then, crunching through the juicy redfruit with a much-less grumbling belly, "Got a pretty big one," he explains on fish now, moving his hands to a length ahead of him proving how big. "Could feed a family for days!" he says, knowing full well that's a lie. "I want to go on those big ships you see there," he says then almost wistfully. "You know, the ones they take to bring back fish? They won't let me on one, though. I tried sneaking on, but I've always gotten caught sooner or later." he shrugs to that as they make their way over to the bath house, his face crinkling a bit as he studies Shijan's clothing before asking, "You ever been on one of those ships before?"

Rather than mollify Shijan, the boy’s return has him briefly frowning, “Will you have anyone looking out for you up there?” For surely Kelarad wouldn’t be so cold-hearted as to send a young boy into the territory of the likes of Borrento without having anyone to fall back on? With lips and heart warmed by the kiss stolen from Jaya and the clothes bundled under one arm, he tries to modulate his long strides in order to make it easier for Sego to keep up with him. Despite the fact that husband and wife was the cover they were going with for this mission, the question put to him draws on something deep within the man, causing a hiccough in his train of thought. The pause however is not displayed externally for he delivers an easygoing smile and a nod in response, “That would be correct.” And then rather than run the risk of giving himself away he turns to the matter of fish caught, indulgent laughter evident in his baritone for the exaggeration, “That big, eh? Seems to me like you might be someone the Seacraft Hall would be after.” Nearing the bath house, his hawk-eyed gaze drifts to the big ships lying at anchor along the docks when they’re pointed out. Another smile, one with a fond undertone for Sego’s wistfulness then appears as he listens to the lad, “Have you ever thought of apprenticing to the Craft?” judging him to be about the correct age for such a thing, “They’d teach about fishing from the boats and even how to build them”. Pausing in the doorway of the bath house, the steam heavy on the air about them, a grin appears, “Once or twice. Sailing’s not really my thing.” In other words he gets horribly seasick and spends half his time trying to hold onto the contents of his stomach.

“Brings attention,” Sego answers shortly on anyone looking out for him, shrugging a bit. Kelarad maybe cold-hearted, but he was also logical. He nods shortly to Jaya being Shijan’s wife, not questioning that further – it looked as if that was the truth. The talk of the Seacraft gets his interest more, a light entering his eyes as they reach the bath house. “You think they would take me?” he asks on the craft, frowning a bit as he follows the man into the house. “But I’m not…” and he pauses, looking down at himself. He wasn’t from a Hold or anything. Finishing the redfruit, he adds then, “I don’t think Kel would like if I did,” easily, the shrug in his voice. The steam of the baths within fills his nostrils before he goes in, already finding the place sparsely populated by familiar-looking men that worked the docks. He moves to a corner away from them, divesting himself of his clothes as he tosses the redfruit core and slips into the warm waters without further ado. Eyes turning towards Shijan then for his answer on sailing, “I want to sail someday,” he notes, letting the gentle waters lapping at his chin. “Go see the southern continent. They talk about going there all the time.” The dock workers and shipmen. “You ever been to the southern continent before?” he asks, finding himself all full of questions now as he starts to bathe himself and make himself more presentable.

“So does the body of a child,” Shijan mutters under his breath hopefully low enough for the boy not to have heard. Instead his voice lifts as he turns to the topic of apprenticeship and he puts a smile down onto Sego, “I don’t see why not? You just need someone to make the contract with the Craft Hall in place of your parents.” He of course being well versed in such matters having once been a harper. Black brows pull down into a frown, “Perhaps if someone were to intercede with Kelarad on your behalf?” Oh yeah, he most certainly is offering his services for the job given that the lad has touched a chord within the teak skinned man. Pulling the hood of his cape back, Shijan gives the few that linger in the bath house a quick mark of attention before he leans his back against the wall and draws a foot up to brace himself while Sego sets about disrobing and slipping into the water. “Do you want it with all your heart and mind?” the question comes quietly asked in response to the boy’s wish to sail the seas of Pern. A corner of the tall man’s mouth twitches, threatening a wry smile as he responds on the last question put to him, “That I have.” Not giving over that the southern continent has been his home for just over a turn now.

With Shijan sounding like it was possible for him to be in the seacraft, Sego was watching him thoughtfully as he washed him. It’s only when he offers to speak to Kelarad on his behalf that the boy frowns, shaking his head and stating, “I don’t think it will work.” He’s gotten too valuable – or rather, Kelarad won’t make it easy. “Won’t be able to until I work the Reaches,” he adds, rethinking the matter as he rubs soapsand on himself. “Don’t they…take in….normal folk?” he asks then, and when Shijan asks him how badly he wanted it, Sego pauses on that before allowing himself to nod. He dunks his head into the warm soapy water then, but only briefly. When he surfaces, “If they’ll take me,” he answers then, not sounding all that sure that they would take in a renegade boy from the lands. Frowning then, “Did you come from the lands too?” he asks, regarding his clothing again, especially since the bodyguard answers on him having been to southern before.

The head of dark curls moves in a nod accepting that the boy must first complete his mission and then Shijan flickers an encouraging smile his way, “Think on it while you’re up there and if you still want it badly enough, I’ll see what can be done, hmm?” Brows flicker toward a frown and the former harper actually seems to be disquieted. Not by the boy’s question but more for the fact that he perhaps deems himself not good enough for a Craft Hall. Though it was likely going to require him taking personal responsibility for the boy in order to gain him entrance, he doesn’t say as much his decision made once the lad admits to wanting it badly enough. Instead he offers forward with an air of easy confidence, “They take in people with a passion for their craft and that are willing to learn. You keep your nose clean and put your talents to more…positive use and you’ll see your way clear to sailing on those great ships out there. Maybe even finding yourself the captain of one of them in turns to come, yes?” trying to allay Sego’s concerns about not being accepted due to his background whilst offering hope at the same time. A low sound of amusement slips out onto the steam filled air for the last, “You could say that. I come from everywhere and nowhere.” Noncommittal at best and then he gives a nod to the boy as he reaches for a threadbare towel from the stack laid out for the use of the bathing house patrons, “We should be getting back, she,” Jaya, “doesn’t like to be kept waiting and we’ve a lot of distance to cover.”

Sego is more amendable to Shijan’s words now on the craft matter. Nodding, he finishes his scrubbing as he listens, wrinkling his nose as he echoes the words “Keep my nose clean?” Not something he’s heard before. He has the passion with the light in his eyes, such a light coming at the thought of one day being a captain of one of those big ships. Silence reigns despite his open interest, his body language strong in wanting the very things that Shijan offers. He frowns a bit when he says that he’s come from everywhere and nowhere, “Stating with a small touch of wryness, “But no one can come from everywhere and nowhere. You have to come from somewhere.” When Shijan tells the time was up, he hops out of the waters and reaches to dry himself off with the offered towel hastily. He leaves his hair a little damp, nodding as he thinks of the woman they left behind that would indeed probably get mad if they’re late. Aren’t women easy to anger anyway? But he doesn’t voice it, drying himself as best he could and turning to start pulling on the clothes laid out for him to look more like one of the traders. He smoothes the soft fabric over himself with interest, not having had such clean, soft clothes before, and once he’s fully clothed and looking presentable, he approaches Shijan looking ready for the road.

Chuckling Shijan explains what he’d meant, “Keep out of trouble.” Obsidian eyes then put the lad under close study as he drops silent, the body language and that hungry look in Sego’s eyes not missed, causing an expression of approval and determination to flicker briefly across the former harper’s face and he intones quietly more to himself than the lad, “Then it shall be so.” Once again a chuckle threads across the steamy air, breaking that moment of gravity as the boy calls him out on his evasive answer. “Started out in Igen,” he finally gives watching with an unreadable expression as small hands move across the fabric of the clothing that has replaced the grubby attire he’d had on previously. With Sego approaching whatever thoughts he’d fallen to are set aside and the tall man stands and before he realizes what he’s doing, reaches out to ruffle the boy’s still damp hair, “Come on then let’s go show the missus how well you clean up.” Only then does he realize what he’d done and with a small clearing of throat that misbehaved hand pulls the hood of his cape back up over his head and without further word he turns and heads out the bath house and back to the wagon in silence.

Keep out of trouble? Fat chance! Sego’s dubious expression pretty much says it all, though the boy nods to that once it was apparent that Shijan was going to help him get into the craft. His close study of the man as he walk remains firmly so as Shijan relents on his origins, considering his response to that before his hair gets playfully ruffled. Instinctively, he screws up his face tries to bat the hand away, a small smile petering out before he himself realizes that he was acting not like a man of Kelarad. The gesture was so familiar that he had forgotten himself, it brining back long ago memories before he had set his life on the lands and blocked them away. Perhaps Shijan was feeling the same way too by the clearing of this throat, and so the boy trots off with him back towards the wagon, peeking looks towards a now silent Shijan that walked beside him as he suddenly finds Jaya standing in front of the wagon with her arms folded. He pauses, clamming up once more as he knows that he’s being scrutinized by the woman. After a long moment the Bitran nods her approval, turning her gaze gratefully off of him towards her ‘husband’ and putting out, “He passes for our child. No one should question it. Ready?” and with that she sends a curious glance between man and child before moving off to secure her place in the front, expecting Shijan to take up the reins and lead the painted trading wagon out while the boys immediately moves off to stove himself away within the confines of the wagon. Once Sego is out of earshot, “You alright?” Jaya sends Shijan’s way, noticing his silent demeanor – even though it was quite normal of him to be so.

By the quirk of lips it’s plain to see that Shijan fully expects that the boy will manage to find trouble, Crafthall or not. Aware that the boy is peeking looks at him as they make their way back to the wagon, Shijan breaks his silence to give in conspiratorial tone, “She’s got a real pretty smile,” when he notices how Sego clams up under Jaya’s gaze. Which if the boy’s real lucky, he might even get to see. The former harper looked set to add something else but is stalled by her words on Sego passing as their child, his eyes sliding sideways and downward to the boy at his side and then back to her again. His gaze unreadable and then a short smile appears as he nods, though whether this is in agreement to that assessment or to his being ready to leave, is left open to interpretation. With Sego stowing himself in the back, the wagon creaks and dips slightly as Shijan climbs up and takes his place beside Jaya. Gathering the reins up he gives them a light slap of leather against the rump of the runnerbeasts along with a soft clucking of tongue to get them moving. Once the wagon’s wheels have slowly begun to start rolling under them he pushes back the hood of his cape and sets the dark haired woman with an intent look before a reassuring smile hitches one corner of his mouth upward and he gives a nod to her question. With a tip of head meant to indicate the lad in the wagon behind them, “Any idea how long Kelarad wants him up there?”

Sego sends Shijan a look on Jaya having a pretty smile – a look that seems to say, ‘Yeah, they all do until they don’t’, or something snarky like that. “Thanks, Kishan,” he sends now as he leaves Jaya with him, a pep in his step that Jaya catches that unreadable look as she settles in. Once Shijan starts them rolling towards their destination incognito, the Bitran settling back more comfortably for the long ride with her face more or less covered, her guard’s question seems to catch her unawares – not expecting it with the frown sent his way. She sends a look behind them towards the wagon, as if she could see the boy stashed away there before turning back and giving a small shrug. Her eyes watching the docks fall away from them in the growing darkness, “Have a feeling that boy’s being sent in to learn something,” and she’s not talking about learning skills or apprenticeship, either. “Missions like that? Could take days. Sevendays. Months. Maybe even a turn until he learns it.” Flicking a gaze over to Shijan then, studying him, “Boys like him, they’ll get along well,” she states then, perhaps assuming his question was meant as concern for Sego. “He’s probably been surviving out on these lands for turns already. Why you ask?” she asks curiously now as she huddles more in her shawls.

For some reason that snarky look sent him amuses Shijan and he gives a small dip of head in acknowledgement of the thanks spoken by the boy, “You’re welcome.” Leaving the docks behind them and heading inland, the former harper sends a sidelong glance Jaya’s way and catching that frown he falls to silence seeming to be musing on her words about Sego and other boys like him. He being quite aware how it was for those without Hold or parents to call their own, its plain to see he’s not happy about the lad being stuck up in the Reaches for as long as a turn despite the mute nod of head he gives. With Jaya hunching down further into her shawl, he reaches to put an arm about her shoulder and pull her in closer against his side as the runnerbeasts settle into a steady plodding rhythm, not answering the question put to him yet. Eventually, when it looks like he might not answer her at all he turns a long look onto her, “The boy wants to become a Seacrafter.” Silence again as he looks away and out over the swaying rumps of the runners. When Shijan speaks again, his baritone carries an odd note of to it, “I’ve decided to act as his patron and negotiate the contract with the Crafthall if Kelarad will release him.”

Watching him closely when she had answered, and clearly seeing that he wasn’t happy with the answer, when Shijan mentions what Sego wanted to be, a light dawns in her dark gaze. The light turns wary at the next bit of him being patron to the boy, the Bitran woman sending him a slight smirk as she settles in close to his side as she says, “Shijan, the soft-hearted?” Looking up then, “I knew you seemed concerned about him,” she notes quietly, curling in close with his arm about her shoulders. “Such things with Vaput, I’ve learned not to question. If the boy doesn’t get caught, it might be something to consider for him….if you really think you could convince Kelarad,” Jaya adds, brows lifting at him before her gaze settles on the road ahead. Letting silence reign for a moment, “Do you think the craft would take him?” she asks then, perhaps thinking about her own days when she was his age – having heard of other trader sons and daughters being carted off to the various halls that littered the north continent. Her father wasn’t hearing any of that for his own children.

A soft snort greets her tease in calling him soft-hearted though when black eyes catch hers when she looks up at him its clear that he’s not offended by it. With Jaya snuggling in against him, his arm tightens briefly about her. “I…made use of boys like him as runners with information,” the confession given low, “Tattered forlorn little things with no one to look out for them or…” words cut off and he clears his throat keeping his attention firmly on the road ahead of them, embarrassed for that brief show of sentiment and revealing of his reasons for trying to give back now. Shoulders move against Jaya in a shrug when she questions whether or not he’d be able to convince Kelarad to let the boy go, “I have to try, Jaya. Besides,” and here his tone turns decidedly sly, “He’d be a fool to turn down the opportunity to have an informant within the Hall itself, hmm?” That likely to be the angle he goes with when he intercedes with the Tillekian crimelord on Sego’s behalf. Quiet a moment; Shijan gives a nod of head on the boy being accepted into the Seacraft Hall, “He’s hungry enough for it and from what I can tell, spends most of his time down on the docks. He’s probably picked up more than first year apprentices have trained in.”

Jaya watches Shijan closely as he speaks, the sentimentality in his voice touching something in hers. “They really need someone to look after them,” she agrees after a moment, pressing fingers to his arm. “You seem to work quite well with them.” With children. It makes her thoughtful, even. When he speaks on trying to convince Kelarad, the sly words gets warm laughter. “You really are cut out for this,” she notes, nudging him a bit. “I think he could be convinced to see it that way. Looks like you’ve been giving it some thought.” His answer gets a nod of acknowledgment, adding in, “He seems very astute. He could probably make it well in the craft….if he doesn’t muck it up,” he notes with an amused pointed look given. “My father never wanted us to go into the hall, even though I think Beddie and I could have benefited from it. Would have been something my mother would have wanted, you know? Even though,” she adds conversationally, “I probably wouldn’t have stayed. Have too much of the wild Dicori blood in my veins, they say.” She falls silent then as their surroundings move by, her gaze keeping on any potential ambushes or trouble lurking nearby before something has her asking, “You mentioned marriage before. Your family. What is that about?” It was a long ride before reaching the Reaches, and it would be a long while before they got a private moment like this again.

Shijan’s gaze swings off the road and onto Jaya, surprise reflected in his eyes that rather than dismiss his wish to try and save at least one of the urchins that wander the lands, she seems supportive thereof. And so a small smile appears and his shoulder moves against her in an awkward shrug, “Children are easy. They just need someone to trust that will give them a chance.” Her laughter draws a chuckle from the teak skinned man who turns his head to brush a kiss against the side of her head, “Men like Kelarad are all about the trade. Make it seem like they’re getting the better end of the deal and they’ll see things your way.” That amusement lingers when she touches on Sego’s probable propensity for trouble, “He’s a boy, Love. We’re made of trouble, are we not?” winking and then adding with more sincerity, “He just needs to find a journeyman or master he can respect and want to do his best for. And maybe we can drop in and see how he’s doing?” That last almost tentatively spoken, not sure how far Jaya might be prepared to get involved with the lad. But then he drops silent when she speaks of her own missed opportunities as apprentice at a Hall the look he sends her filled with understanding. “Apprenticeship serves many well, preparing them for life ahead. Even those that don’t stay,” he notes quietly and then asks with interest shading his tone, “Which Hall would you have petitioned for an apprenticeship?”

With his attention having gone back to the road, or more precisely the small copse of trees they’re about to pass through, hawk-eyed gaze sweeping back and forth, searching for any that may potentially lie in ambush, Jaya’s question catches him unaware. “Uhh…” the former harper caught momentarily in a rare moment of being at a loss for words as he sets a long look onto the woman beside him. Looking away again, lips purse and a light frown forms, “It is common practice for my people to make marriage arrangements for their children at a very young age, especially where they wish to strengthen ties with another clan.” He starts out by explaining and then his frown deepens and his jaw tightens as he adds quietly, “I thought that maybe in joining the Hall the contract would be cancelled but when I went home for a visit when I was twenty three turns old, they presented Farideh to me and said we were to marry on my next visit back. I…never went back.” Mostly because by then he was on the run from Borrento but also partly because he was avoiding fulfilling his obligation to his family by marrying a girl he didn’t know, let alone love.

Jaya is silent as he speaks on the boy, regarding him through his words until he speaks on boys in general. Snorting, “And you think holdless girls are any different? I remember when I was grimy and grubbing like him at his age, and I was still running around with the clan! Still,” and she leans away a bit as if to see all of him, “I can see you with many sons around you. The way you were with him…” Eyes close briefly over that kiss, and when he mentions wanting to check in on the boy from time to time, “He seems more interested in you than he is of me,” she notes wryly, but she pauses before conceding to a nod and adding, “Aye, I am curious about the lad. I suppose we can. Fuck knows no one else is looking in on him. Not even Rad.” She smiles his way, enjoying the time together even if it was a mission. His question on crafts gets a slight pause, Jaya frowning slightly before answering, “Weavercraft, I think. I’m good at being a seamstress, but I doubt I would have stayed. The lands call me,” she drawls the last with a wink, chuckling. “Besides, if I didn’t leave, they would have kicked me out for theft or somesuch.” She goes quiet when Shijan speaks on marriage, her gaze searching his face before she looks away and ahead of them at the path. “Have you seen Farideh before?” she asks quietly, curiosity evident about this woman meant to be engaged to him. “Will…going home…they’ll want to marry you, is that it?” Eyes search his face again at this. Not to mention, him bringing her there would make matters even more complicated.

“Mmm,” Shijan gives through a low chuckle, “And I bet you had all the lads dancing to your tune too.” Probably using a lethal combination of charm and fists by what he’s come to know of the Dicori traderwoman. As she leans away from him, he feints away playfully in the opposite direction as if to suggest she might smack him upside the head. However when Jaya says what she does of sons in relation to him, the grin he was wearing fades and in that period of transition, there’s a faint hint of wistfulness for something he’s not given much thought before and then he turns out a lopsided smile, “Maybe one day.” A light frown precedes the shake of head he gives to Sego having seemed uneasy around her, and the encouragement warms his tone, “He’s probably not had much to do with women in his young life, Love. And who knows when he was separated from his mother, hmm?” Lips purse and Shijan gives a short nod, his attention turning back to the darkened landscape as it rolls by, “If Kelarad had any sense in him, he would treat those youngsters that work for him as the valuable commodities that they are rather than the cheap labour he seems to view them as.” And then he goes quiet listening intently as she speaks of having had an interest in joining the Weaverhall, “I think you would have had a talent for it.” But he can’t disguise the amusement that shows up when she mentions the potential for having been tossed out of the Hall for misdemeanours, and he pulls her briefly in closer against his side, “Ah, my tempting little thief, only a fool would discard such a prize as you.” Forgive him, he’s biased. That all falls away in light of the way she searches his face and then looks away as she does but he’s not the kind of man to do her disservice by shying away from the truth and so a sigh parts his lips and he gives a nod. “Aye, she was there with her family the last time I went back.” He doesn’t however give forth any details on the woman herself. And then a light frown forms for her last question and it’s him that looks away this time. “Aye,” he gives quietly, “but it’s been five turns, Jaya. Five turns with no word from me so the chances are good that Javed has married in my place as is our custom.” There his head turns and he sets her with an intent look before giving fiercely in a low tone, “I choose you Bajaya of the Dicori, a woman of passion and fire that knows her own mind. Not some daughter of the desert trained to be little else than a possession of the man whose clan name and children she bears without thought or opinion of her own.”

“I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t,” Jaya is easy to toss back Shijan’s way, winking. She knew he wanted sons by the way he answered next though, the woman straightening up and regarding him in the ensuing silence. Regarding his wistfulness, she lapses herself into thoughtfulness on the matter – thinking of children and herself, which was a concept she never considered until now. Renegades didn’t usually think of such things when you’re busy doing things like stealing. It made sense to her on how Sego was treating her too, remarking wryly “I doubt Kelarad would put him around women, either.” As if there were that many females being employed by the Tillekian in the first place. Pausing on the comment on the Tillekian, “Vaput cared little whether the children were there or not,” she says quietly, looking about them. “A lot of them were drifters. They’d do a job, and if it doesn’t yield much in livelihood, they would move on. They’re easy to miss. We don’t know how long Sego’s been in Kelarad’s company, and we don’t know how long he’ll stay after this.” A smile blossoms when Shijan pulls her close, his biased words getting a saucy “Most aren’t like you, harper. Very few have let me into their homes, much less their lives.” Despite her being wistful about alternate paths her life could have taken, she’s content on the current one still. On the topic of arranged marriages, “Unless they’re still hoping for you to return,” she notes on Javed perhaps marrying her, offering the possibility. She didn’t look worried that they would try to marry Shijan off, however. When he voices his choice, making it clear that it didn’t matter what was decided back in Igen, Jaya places her hand on his arm, reassuring him, and states smoothly, “And I choose you, Malesh, of Igen.” She understood now why it would be complicated going back to his family – and taking her along. “Bringing me there will defy them,” she notes aloud now, meeting his gaze as the wagon plods along.

His attention flicking between the road ahead and Jaya as she speaks on the urchins around Bitra, there comes a moment in what she says that has his gaze settling on her for longer and then he nods, “The Halls do what they can in rounding the children up and putting them into foster care but…” Shoulders lift and fall in a shrug, the gesture speaking to how there are still those that manage to be left behind. The saucy remark of hers has a grin forming and he dips his head to once again press a kiss against the side of her head, “Kismet, Baby.” On the matter of his people and what they wish of him a sigh spills out and he straightens, eyes darting to the brush alongside road ahead as a wherry breaks cover. The touch of her hand and her words of reassurance draw a smile to Shijan’s lips, and then a proud and defiant look in keeping with her next words crosses his features, “Then so be it. In time they will come to accept the choices I have made.” And by default, Jaya too.

“Some aren’t made for fostering,” Jaya seems to agree, eyes falling on the road ahead. “I remember my father picking up one or two along the trail in my turns. Usually far too stray to obey orders, and my father deems anyone not useful if they can’t obey his orders,” and a corner of her mouth lifts at that. There’s a fierce look of pride in her eyes to his latter, words not needed as she accepts his kiss. Yes, they will make them see, together. She lapses into a thoughtful silence along the way, appearing to have fallen asleep until something causes her to straighten up in her seat. Nodding in the direction of faint lights, “Campsite approaching,” she mumurs, peering through the trees blocking most of the view to see who it is that was camping there. The close they got, from what she was seeing it was a group of burly-looking men huddled together – and they had already noticed them. In fact, one of them was already standing up, looking as if he was going to approach their moving wagon and question their origins. “Could be guards,” she mutters with a frown, trying to eye out their non-descript clothing for any tall-tale signs as such. When it seems like the possibility was not so, the tall man was approaching them and calling out to get their attention. “Lo! Hold on there!” Jaya looks to Shijan on what he wanted to do, already eyeing out the three other men that looked very much armed like the one approaching.

A grim nod of understanding is given to her father’s way of operating, “Children need time to adjust and time is a luxury few businessmen can afford.” Warmth infuses his expression when Shijan translates that look of fierce pride that Jaya wears and then he turns his attention back to the trail, content with his woman at his side and no one else around save for the boy in the back of the wagon that had unwittingly become the topic of conversation. That all changes the moment those lights are picked up and he draws the hood of his cape up again, hawk-eyed gaze narrowing on the men, assessing the level of threat they may pose. With the one starting to approach and hailing them to halt, he gives in sotto tone meant just for Jaya’s ears, “We can’t outrun them. Just a trader with his wife and son, passing through, aye?” In other words, stick to the ruse for now. Unwrapping his arm from about her he straightens in his seat, his free hand dropping to rest where his knife is as he slows the two plodding runners bringing the wagon to a swaying stop. “Evening,” his baritone lifts in greeting, gaze encompassing all four men and hoping to Faranth that Sego if awakened by the lack of movement, will stay where he is.

“You speak the truth,” Jaya agrees grimly, nodding and thinking of the times when she was first in Vaput’s employ. Eyes remaining on the approaching man, “We can pull it off,” she mutters back to Shijan for his words, the man now coming within earshot for her to lean herself against her bodyguard and look for all intents and purposes as if she was close to slumber. Once Shijan greets the man, he stops to peer at them and their wagon very closely. One can see a long knife at his side, partially hidden by the long heavy overcoat that he wears as he speaks. “Awfully late for mere traders to be still passing through,” he notes, not showing any suspicions just yet as he roams his gaze over the wagon more than them. Making a show of a yawn as she straightens up, “That’s because we’re behind schedule,” Jaya returns huskily, turning to Shijan to add, “Right, husband?” The man’s gaze falls on what he could see of her that’s not covered, her voice drawing his interest to her frame as he considers those words. After a long enough pause, “What clan is this?” he asks then with a nod towards the silent wagon, in which the Bitran just can’t help but to toss back, “Is there a reason you’re making us late further?” Leaning forward as is peering towards the camp he came from, “I see no shoulderknots alluding to you being guards-“ – “Borrento runs this territory, trader,” the man crisply cuts her off, eyes narrowing a fraction. “You would do wise to answer my questions. Clan. Now.” The last he turns to Shijan, his hand now straying towards the long knife at his side as if he was sensing trouble to be had.

“Not if they got runners unburdened by a wago…” words cut off with the stranger drawing closer, Shijan’s eyes flicking briefly to the knife at his side. With the idea of a wry chuckle he gives a nod to Jaya’s ‘sleepy’ comment, his words directed at the other man, “There’s no rushing a woman when she sets her mind to wanting a particular length of fabric and that length of fabric can only be bought from the one ship that was late docking.” Women, what can you do? Is how his expression now seems to read. And then he glances up at the darkened sky above. “Less likely to get caught by Thread at night,” he offers as further explanation. Noticing how the other’s eyes fall to Jaya’s form, the former harper finds himself having to concentrate on keeping both features and jaw relaxed and uses the diversion of uttering a snort in response to his ‘wife’s’ quip. “Don’t mind her, she gets as grumpy as a dragon with a hangover if her sleep is interrupted.” Which to all intents and purposes had been the case with there being no reaction whatsoever to the crimelord’s name that is dropped. With the question repeated, Shijan sets the man with an intent look, his mind pushing up against that of the other’s in a bid to have him believing what he says next, “Branshik.” There is just the vaguest tensing of his frame, there always being a chance that the man is one of those not easily leaned on mentally and that they're going to have to fight their way out of this one.

“A ship late?” the man echoes this, frowning as he looks at Shijan, then the wagon. Another man stands from the camp, looking as if he was about to join the party in a moment. Talk of thread gets an immediate, “Ain’t no thread scheduled to fall tonite,” he drops quickly, dismissing that possibility. Eyes fall on Jaya again, who is looking as disgruntled as Shijan is indicating by interrupting her sleep. Putting on a smile then that had no warmth, “The men and I have a cooking fire already stoked,” he offers in mock cordiality. “Perhaps it’s best you and your wife settled in at our camp for the night. I’m sure, if the fabric’s as late as you say, a few more hours won’t matter much.” When the clan name is finally dropped, Jaya speaks up behind her ‘husband’ and tacks on, “We branched off from the Aleuts in Igen.” She knew the clan existed from her being friends with a trader-turned-dragonrider there, and with their connections to her family, “You know the Aleuts, don’t you? Run the trails that those like the Dicoris do?” She can tell the man recognizes the Dicori name where the other does not seem to ring a bell. His face paling just a bit, he turns behind him and tosses over his shoulder towards his men, “Do any of you know the Aleuts?” There’s silence, a few of them shrugging and not seeming to care either way. Turning back then decisively and nodding towards the wagon, “Let me see your wares,” he nearly demands now, turning back to men to toss out, “Bring me one of the glowbaskets!” Jaya looks at Shijan then, knowing full well that Sego was there in the back and hoping to Faranth that he was well hidden. Still, she puts out there, “Is this really necessary?”

With his attention set to the man that has approached them, Shijan catches movement from his peripheral vision and glances the way of the man that stands. “Thread falls out of sequence these days,” he gives smoothly and then he dips his head in acknowledgement of the offer made to spend the night with the men but declines. “Your offer is most gracious but as the wife said, we’re already late if we’re to make the wedding of her cousin on time. No,” the former harper makes a show of stretching, shifting so that he has easier access to his knives in that movement, “it’s a long night ahead of us on the road, I’m afraid.” Just the barest stroke of a smirk lights black eyes at the man’s reaction to Jaya dropping the Dicori name, Shijan’s expression otherwise unreadable. When what appears to be the leader demands to see their wares, his eyes touch to Jaya and his gaze hardens fractionally, aware of what might unfold if the boy hasn’t properly hidden himself and trying to gauge her readiness for a fight. Looking away and back to the leader he sets a long suffering expression into place, “Really? You’re going to make us later still by rummaging about in the copious amounts of clothing my wife has seen fit to bring with us because she couldn’t decide what she wanted to wear to the wedding?” Letting out a sigh, Shijan leans over toward the man and offers in conspiratorial tone, “How about I give you the crate of brandy I have with me as wedding gift to the groom and you save a man a journey’s worth of listening to the woman griping about how her favourite dress got all wrinkled at your hands, hmm?” Playing up to his being nothing more than a simple trader with a wife that’ll bend his ear for the next few days to come as he sends out appeal, one man to another.

“And you have proof that it will fall out of sequence this night,” the man tosses back with open sarcasm now, fingers rapping against the hilt of his knife. He could send a rejoinder when Shijan declines the offer of camping with his men, but his mind is wheeling on the name drop of the Dicoris. Focusing on the wagon instead as one of his men approach them with a glow basket, “How about you give me that crate of brandy along with the wagon search, and I’ll then pretend that there was no traders,” and there’s emphasis here, “passing by on this trail.” Turning to the man and taking the glow basket, “It won’t take long,” he adds, along with the man now with them adding, “Maybe there’s something back there I want to buy for the missus.” Jaya looks to Shijan, her expression closed; these men weren’t looking to let them through. She was weighing their options: either fight them or run. The running option wouldn’t be viable for long, not to mention the fact that they would end up missing their intended destination for Sego. Jaw tightening, “You want to go back there and show them our wares, love?” she says in a mixture of tight sweetness to Shijan, the smile underlying the pointed look being sent his way. If the men find Sego in the back, and things don’t end up being as they hoped, then she’ll just have to explain the mission failure later. Already her hand was straying to her hidden knife, planning to stay in the front and watch the man left behind should things pear-shaped. To the man that seems to be the leader, however, she adds coolly, “If we are found late and lose business, then believe that I’ll be informing the proper leaders of this. I don’t think the Ralkas will be pleased.” It was a gamble – dropping name of the Igenite renegades on him with cold demeanor. The leader frowns at that, pausing before stating, “Then Borrento will take that up with the Ralkas. Show me the back,” the last being delivered to her ‘husband.’

The sarcastic comment is easily dismissed. However obsidian eyes flatten when the leader looks not only to be trying to relieve them of the crate of brandy but more importantly, still intent on searching the wagon. Meeting Jaya’s look, one corner of the bodyguard’s mouth twists around a dark smirk, a dangerous glint igniting his gaze and he leans toward her as if to give her a peck on the cheek, his lips close enough to her ear to murmur, “Time for them to pay the harper.” In other words he intends fighting his way clear rather than declare the mission a failure or let Sego fall into their hands. His grin wolfish and then he moves away, his voice lifting as he climbs down from the wagon with an exaggerated sigh, “Come on then, the sooner we get this over, the sooner we can be on our way and you boys can get back to your meal, aye?” A pronounced limp is affected as if he favours his right leg as Shijan moves toward the back of the wagon, and he sends the leader a snort. “Glad I’m not the one to be explaining to himself (Borrento) why he’s suddenly at odds with the boys (the Ralkas) over simple trader folk but…” shoulders lift and fall in a shrug as he sweeps aside the canvas drape at the back of the wagon and stands aside, leaning heavily on the side of the wagon to take the weight off his apparently crippled leg.

With Shijan murmuring in her ear, Jaya leans as ever the dutiful wife and openly states wryly, “Don’t take your time.” Dark eyes find one of the man watching their exchange and she straightens up to glare his way enough to have him looking away. Both watch Shijan climb down, tensing as if expecting something to go down in a matter of moments. The leader follows Shijan, hand still on his knife hilt as if expecting a double-cross. On the matter of the crimelords, there’s an unseen smirk as he states, “Don’t you worry yourself over the crimelord here. He ain’t as tetchy as some of the other ones, trader.” Then, he gets to the back of the wagon and the canvas drape is swept aside to reveal crates and rows of fabric as was advertised. Eyes narrow as he sweeps his gaze over the lot, no traces of a boy or anything out of the ordinary present. After a moment of checking with his eyes, he moves forward to wave the glowbasket ahead of him to shine light on the darker areas of the wagon. Nothing. He hesitates, moving the glowbasket to a higher position, checking every corner of the wagon as if expecting to see something that was not there before he abruptly steps back. He appears disgruntled now, turning towards the waiting Shijan, and gesturing with his chin towards the crates before saying, “The crate of brandy and then you can go.” He wasn’t voicing what it was he was looking for exactly, and he leans over to the side of the wagon to catch his partner’s eye, there’s a barely imperceptible shake of his head that could have been easily missed.

“As the lady commands,” that dark smirk lingering as he winks and then he’s away to sate the curiosity of those wishing to investigate their cargo. There is only the briefest tightening of expression when the leader deems Borrento not to be as testy as some of the other crimelords, and Shijan merely gives a grunt. Tension held internally rather than exhibited outwardly as his keen gaze sweeps over the interior of the wagon, he forces down the flash of concern that streaks in when the glowbasket is brought forward to illuminate the wagon’s interior. With the leader finding nothing that peaks his interest, the ‘trader’ pushes away from his lean and moves to where the crate of brandy has been stowed, “Hope your boss enjoys our wares.” Suggesting that they might well be reporting the incident to the Ralkas brothers and then he sets the crate to the ground with apparent difficulty, (Darn those fake injuries!) and starts to close up the heavy canvas drape. If he catches the exchange between the leader and the other man, he gives no indication of having noticed, for while he’s never one to back down from a fight, he’s sure not about to start one with Sego and Jaya in the mix. “Now if there’s nothing else we’ll be on our way,” the crate lifted and held out to the leader.

“This ain’t for my boss,” the leader of the band returns on the crate, the flash of a smirk quick. He watches the crate go to the ground briefly before he sweeps a look over the interior of the wagon once more, until Shijan straightens up and closes the canvas at the back. Stepping back now to the front, he finds Jaya watching him and his man closely before she breaks her silence with a cold, “Are you satisfied?” Shijan’s statement follows hers, and the leader frowns at the woman before he nods for the man to go collect up the crate of brandy. “Satisfied enough,” he states coolly as he turns towards Jaya. “What’s your destination, trader?” Another question? Sighing in mock exasperation, “High Reaches Hold,” she gives, mentally noting to swing the wagon by that way on their way out of the territory. She looks back around in waiting for Shijan to join her once more, meeting the leader’s gaze with a hard stare as he processes the name with a nod. His man appears with the crate in hand, moving away from the wagon and back towards the camp of waiting guards all asking him questions at once on the crate. “High Reaches Hold,” the leader echoes, looking towards Shijan. “Very well. I’ll alert Dendy over there. He’ll like your wares when you’re done conducting late business.” Whether he believes the traders are late or not he’s not saying.

The smirk Shijan sends in return to that of the leader says it all, that he’d realized as much. Limping his way back toward the front of the wagon, his gaze locks with Jaya’s and only one familiar with the harper such as she, will see the faint smile in his eyes that tells of Sego being safe for the time being. With his ‘wife’ giving a destination, Shijan turns pausing in climbing back up onto the buckboard and sends a long and intent look onto first the leader and then the man with him, “Much obliged.” A cold smile forms as he swings himself up and settles next to Jaya, taking the reins up in one hand. “You fellows enjoy that brandy now.” Not seeming in the least bit put out that they’d managed to garner the crate from him without exchange of marks. And one can be sure he’ll be explaining exactly why to Jaya just as soon as they’re on their way again and out of earshot.

Jaya meets Shijan’s gaze when he appears, straightening up as she picks up the silent message he sends. There’s relief, but one wouldn’t have noticed unless they watched her face close enough. She leans into him once he climbs up to settle by her side once more, already having dismissed the men from her sight. As for pretenses, “…making us late…” she mutters in a foul temper, shaking her head and making a show of wrapping her headdress more securely about herself. “You traders enjoy your trip,” the leader of the thieving guards sends back in his farewell, the crate already cracked open by his men by the camp fire as he starts walking backwards further into the shadows. He’ll remain until the wagon gets moving, preferring to keep a close eye on the traders as they vanish into the darkness before he finally returns to his men at the camp to revel in the spoils. “Fucking thieves,” Jaya mutters aloud once he’s out of earshot, looking disgruntled for the loss. Ironic that she’s calling anyone a thief! Looking over her shoulder, “Straight robbery, is what! We oughta have gotten his name so I can repay him the kindness,” he notes to Shijan, baring her teeth with underlying threat in her tone. “It’s the least a Dicori can do.”

Shijan of course produces a long suffering look as Jaya sets to displaying pretence of a foul temper for the benefit of the men they leave behind. Once the dark engulfs them rather than sharing in her disgruntlement for the cargo they’d been forced to hand over, its open amusement that’s displayed but he doesn’t answer to it just yet. Wrapping an arm about her, he hugs the dark haired woman in against his side, “You okay, Little One?” With a tilt of head behind them he adds, “You might want to let the boy know that we’re in the clear for now.” And then his expression slips into a cunning line as he adds to her comments of repaying kindnesses and the Dicori way, “And desert hospitality dictates that we allow our new friends to enjoy the rest so well deserve, hmm?” Cryptic on the matter before he sets to softly humming a strangely melodic tune not associated with the harper hall, his attention back on the road ahead. Yes, he’s teasing her by withholding information.

Once Shijan wraps an arm about her shoulders, Jaya huddles closer nods her well-being. “Thought we were going to have to fight for it back there,” she admits, looking up at him and dropping a quick kiss on the side of his chin. Not that she was afraid of a brawl or so. As to the boy she shifts, putting the wagon in her side view when Sego is brought up. “He must have hidden well for them not to find him,” she notes, then a frown steals over her and she adds, “Though, the way that man was determined to check us, one would think that he was looking for the boy himself.” Then Shijan has that cunning look in his eye and the Bitran woman regards him for the moment. “So meaning?” she prompts – of course, her curiosity was piqued. She catches that hummed tune and waits, expecting him to explain further, and when he doesn’t, “You know something,” she guesses, eyes slightly narrowing along with that crooked smile. “What, did you give them a crate of women’s underwear or something?”

Forgive the man for looking almost disappointed on not having had to unsheathe his blade as he nods and answers, “I did too.” The kiss Jaya presses to his chin has Shijan turning his head to try and briefly capture her lips and then he gives a nod, approval high in his expression for Sego having hidden himself away so well, “The boy must have tunnelsnake in him.” Both her frown and ensuing words cause a grim expression to shadow the former harper’s face, “If they’re expecting him then…” and he gives a short shake of head, “It’s not safe to leave him here with odds like that stacked against him, Jaya. Borrento won’t care that he’s just a child.” Lending hint to being versed in the ways of the Reachian crimelord and then he’s humming that strange melody, pausing only briefly to send a wink to the dark haired woman before picking it up again. Low laughter is what eventually causes him to stop, putting an amused look down onto her and he gives an enigmatic shake of head, stretching the moment out before finally confessing. “Oh there’s drink in there alright but there’s also enough fellis in each bottle to put them face down in the dirt for a seven, leaving them one of two choices when they wake up. Confess their deeds to Borrento, or…keep their mouths shut. Either way, we’ll be well ahead of them by the time they’re conscious enough to even begin lending thought to action, hmm?” Pausing and then adding, “Oh, and I wouldn’t try drinking or selling that rum we got with us either.” Sneaky much?

With Shijan looking disappointed a bit, Jaya lets him capture that kiss briefly with a smile and chuckles a bit to herself. “When we get far enough, I can go back and check on him real quick,” she offers, wanting to make sure that their cargo was still secure. At his frown and the implications that she puts out there, she grimly asks, “What do you think we could do? If Sego doesn’t show up where he’s suppose to….” She trails it, not needing to finish. She wasn’t sure what the boy was meant to do, but if it was something that required his type of presence, then Borrento would become the least of their problems. When the haunting song is over, the Bitran watching his face with interest, it’s only when he speaks again that has her eyes widening a fraction. “You drugged the brandy?” she asks, blinking a moment before laughter wells up in her. Shaking her head and slapping his shoulder, “Devious? I’m impressed,” she admits, the smile lopsided. “Any other tricks up your sleeve, harper of mine, that I should know about?”

“Aye, probably a good idea, Love. For all we know the lad slipped out of the wagon and hid in the bush just after we stopped.” In which case, they’ve just left him behind. As to what it is they might be able to do in terms of ensuring Sego isn’t walking into a trap laid out for him, Shijan goes quiet and remains so for a while, knowing Jaya’s not going to like what he’s about to say. And so he responds to her last first, an open smirk in place as he pretends to shy away from the slap to his shoulder, “There’s more than one way to skin a feline, Little One.” That despite the fact that he would have been more than happy to introduce the thieving guards to the sharp end of his blade but then this would be one of those times where his harper training had had the man calling on discretion being the better part of valour. And then his expression turns sombre as he speaks his thoughts on the matter of their cargo, “I could stay…Keep an eye on the boy for a bit.” This despite the fact that in doing so, he himself risks discovery by Borrento but the way he figures it, he’s got a better fighting chance (quite literally) than a young boy on his own would have.

Smirking, “Wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened,” Jaya states on the boy slipping out, perhaps alluding to her having done it before when she was around his age. When Shijan finally voices his thoughts of staying behind, she frowns immediately at the notion. She pauses, gathering her thoughts on the matter before her lips press together. “And how are you going to do that?” she asks on him keeping an eye on Sego. “If those men were after him, then they’ve seen your face. You hanging around will lead them to him.” Her head falling back now as she thinks the option over, she adds dryly, “And besides, you’re not leaving me with this wagon,” and she sends the man a mock mutinous look. “If you’re going in and look to be about to fuck this mission up, then I might as well join in, shuga.” Eyes fall on the trail ahead of them now, pausing before she states, “We need to know the nature of his mission,” with a more sober look towards her bodyguard. “If he’s meeting someone, then we might be able to pull it off. If he’s simply out here for information…” She’s not too happy about messing up any mission, but already the Bitran was thinking through ways to both achieve their mission with the less amount of bloodshed and to achieve Sego’s to calm Shijan’s concerns. “We’re going to have to find a place to stash this,” she adds this aloud as well, nodding back towards the wagon. “They know we’re traders. We’re going to have to change. Are you sure you want this course?” She looks at Shijan then, giving him to decision with a raised brow.

Amusement shows briefly when Jaya alludes to having done something similar herself in days gone by and then slips away when she points out the pitfalls of his suggestion. Remaining quiet as she speaks, having likely expected her to be opposed, Shijan sends her a wry look in return for the rebellious one she sends him, and points out, “They’ve seen your face too, Love.” Turning his head to glance behind them to where Sego presumably hides, “Lets first find out what the boy’s mission is and take it from there, aye?” This as their path starts to hug along the edge of a low mountain range, his hawk eyed gaze already searching for telltale signs of a cave mouth that they might be able to stop at out of sight of prying eyes to hold such a discussion with the boy. “If they catch him, his mission will turn out to be quite the failure, so we can call this going the extra mile for Kelarad, hmm?” Trust a harper, even a former one, to try swaying the crowd to his cause.

“They haven’t seen all of my face,” Jaya counters, displaying the head shawl wrapped securely around her scarred face with a smirk. She nods to questioning the boy, looking around for the talltale signs of a cave system. All she sees so far is trees and the path, though the jagged edges of the mountains are constantly in the background. Shijan’s last gets a wry smile, knowing full well what the man is capable of since the crate trick. She was admittedly more calm and collected now that she knew Shijan was capable of pulling such stunts for the sake of the mission. It was something she didn’t even think about doing, and it was a good idea. The cave system they were looking for suddenly loomed up before them after about a half an hour, the first cave being large enough to fit a wagon inside tightly. Jaya points it out, straightening up from her slouch as she prepares to step down once Shijan brings the wagon in. She was anxious to check on Sego, it having been quiet on the road after being stopped by those men. Not that Sego wasn’t so quiet beforehand, anyway.

“Mmm,” an inappropriately sly cast sparks his gaze, “There’s not a man on Pern that will soon forget those eyes of yours, my little minx.” Especially not given the way in which the leader of the thieving guards had been eyeing Jaya out. Oh if Jaya only knew the type of duplicity her bodyguard is capable of when push comes to shove, she might view the drugged alcohol as a parlour trick by comparison. With her pointing the cave out, Shijan carefully negotiates wagon and runners into it, only breaking the silence he’d fallen to once they’re safely inside and out of plain sight. Reins are secured and he pauses a moment, black eyes seeking hers out and sensing the anxiety in her, he offers what is meant to be a reassuring smile, “Come on then, lets go see where the clever young lad managed to hide himself away, hmm?” Hoping to Faranth Sego is still there and not somewhere back on the trail.

“Mmm,” an inappropriately sly cast sparks his gaze, “There’s not a man on Pern that will soon forget those eyes of yours, my little minx.” Especially not given the way in which the leader of the thieving guards had been eyeing Jaya out. Oh if Jaya only knew the type of duplicity her bodyguard is capable of when push comes to shove, she might view the drugged alcohol as a parlour trick by comparison. With her pointing the cave out, Shijan carefully negotiates wagon and runners into it, only breaking the silence he’d fallen to once they’re safely inside and out of plain sight. Reins are secured and he pauses a moment, black eyes seeking hers out and sensing the anxiety in her, he offers what is meant to be a reassuring smile, “Come on then, lets go see where the clever young lad managed to hide himself away, hmm?” Hoping to Faranth Sego is still there and not somewhere back on the trail.

Chuckling low, “Especially if those eyes come with a knife at the throat?” Jaya muses, brows lifting with the semblance of naughty trouble in her eyes. Once at the cave, she steps down and nods wordless to him before she moves to the back of the wagon. Not waiting for Shijan, she whips the canvas back along with the cry of “Hey Sego!” and finds the boy perched ontop of one of the frontmost crates. Further study shows that things back been moved in the back, perhaps alluding to the boy hiding himself well when they last stopped. He looks up at her for a moment, then looks beyond her to see where they were before he suddenly jumps down and climbs himself out of the wagon. “Thought you vanished there, for a second,” Jaya states, to which the searching boy answers back, “I almost did. This works, though. Is this a cave system?” he seems to ask Shijan more than Jaya, moving to approach the man now that he was stretching out his legs and taking a long look around at the surroundings he’ll be seeing a lot of for the next month or so.

“Precisely so,” Shijan gives back with a smirk. Having been a step or two behind Jaya, an approving nod greets the appearance of Sego, and he gives him a quick once over as if to assure himself that the boy had indeed fared well. “Quite the little stowaway aren’t you?” Interest colours his expression next as the lad sets to giving the area a thorough looking over and then a brow goes up for the question put to him, and his own gaze sweeps the area, “It looks to be, yes.” And then a light frown forms as he presses for the boy to better explain himself, “This works for…?”

Watching Shijan's study of the boy, "I'm surprised you didn't throw anything at him," Jaya tacks on behind Shijan's words, the small smirk present. Sego continues to look their surroundings over like a man inspecting his handiwork, only choosing to address them both when he nods and finds his search satisfactory. When Shijan presses, "I can take it from here," he explains simply, turning towards the wagon and reaching for the ball of dirty clothes that he took with him. "I'm to stick to the cave systems. Expecting someone. You were pretty good with those guards back there, though." - "Wait," and Jaya holds a hand up to stall any further words. "We're to drop you off here? Just like this?" - "Just like that," Sego nods, looking once more about the small cave with his dirty bundle and a small carrysack now appearing from the back of the wagon and over his shoulder. "Those men wouldn't have let you by if they caught me. Thanks for that." His tone so glib and easy, he nods his thanks towards Shijan rather than Jaya and looks set to head off to explore his new digs. With his back to them both, missing the look Jaya sends Shijan's way, "I suggest you don't go back the way you came. They won't let you through a second time. Lucky you gave them that crate."

Amusement lifts up and Shijan sends in sotto tone to his ‘wife’, “I was leaving those honours to you, Love.” When Sego all but dismisses them, the trader’s expression displays an open frown, “That lot back there seemed to be looking for something or someone in particular,” he warns sending the youngster a pointed look. A glance goes to Jaya next, it being clear to see the man is just as uneasy about leaving the boy there on his own as she is. Watching as he retrieves his dirty clothing, “Those men aren’t going to be down and out for long and will continue to hunt for you,” he then sends in grave tone to Sego, “So I have a suggestion to make,” another glance to the dark haired woman to see if she concurs with what he says next, “You meet with whoever it is you need to meet and we’ll stay here. Once we’re happy that you’re all sorted out, then we’ll leave and drop a report back to Kelarad that your mission is a go, hmm?” Thus making it seem as if they were at the boy’s disposal with regards to sending word back to his boss.

Jaya snorts at those initial words, setting to watching boy as he looks well prepared to leave them. As for Sego, “Might not be me,” he returns on those guards, shrugging as he mentally maps out his plans with the area. Ahh, to be so young. He seems to be ignoring the warnings, walking about them, looking and gauging the cave to be suitable. It’s only when Shijan lays out his suggestion that the boy turns back – Jaya nods for Shijan to go forward with revealing it, though her gaze remains firmly on Sego. Sego for his part frowns, trying to work over what is being offered and clearly not understanding it. People have dropped him place before and never offered to look after him so… “You think to take my mission,” he decides to say, turning an accusing eye on Jaya rather than Shijan – even though he’s talking to both. Taking a step away from them, “I finish the mission and you take the credit and my marks! I won’t let that happen. This is my mission!” He looks ready to bolt, to get away from them in order to vanish into the cave system. After all, there’s barely any honor amongst thieves.

“Might not be,” Shijan gives in easy agreement, “but,” and there’s always got to be a ‘but’, “no harm in being clever about it, hmm?” And then he goes quiet watching as the boy investigates his surroundings until he catches the nod from Jaya and the boy turns back to him. A brow goes up and the former harper steps toward Sego as he looks to be laying accusation at his ‘wife’s’ door, “Don’t take that tone with her,” he warns first and then a patient smile slips into place, “Our mission was to get you here in one piece, which we’ve done. This that we offer now is us wanting to make sure you get back in one piece so that you can prepare for that interview with the Seacraft hall, aye? No credit due, no marks involved.” Which granted, is possibly a concept foreign to a lad such as Sego and so the former harper takes to an idle non-threatening lean against the back of the wagon and adds, “The choice is yours, young one.”

Sego isn’t that clever by the look on his face. He’s definitely not cut out to be harper, but he’s listening. He wasn’t expecting to be reprimanded either, and the mutinous look sent both their ways show his age. “We’re only trying to help,” Jaya offers behind Shijan’s soothing words, looking for all of Pern like she could care less about the mark or the mission. “I don’t need your reward in this. As he said, just wanna make sure no one’s looking for a dead body out in these ways once we leave.” – “I’ve been in worse places,” Sego states belligerently, staring at Shijan to show his ‘manly’ bravery. “I’m not afraid of them.” Just to show them that he wasn’t, he lifts up his shirt from the front to reveal a knife he had stolen previously, tucked down in his pants with only the hilt showing. Dropping his shirt, “Seen worse,” he adds in continuation, now having stopped his retreat to peer at them through the darkness. After a moment’s silence, “Why you care?” he asks now, inwardly confused at this kind behaviour. “What do you want with me? What’s in it for you if not to steal my reward?” There’s some understanding in Jaya’s eyes then, and the Bitran answers, “I know, alright? Been there myself, kid. No one gives a shit out here save for those looking to do you in. Been there.” Taking a step forward into the dim light, she pulls her head shawl back enough for him to see the scarred side of her face – the jagged edges of marks unhealed that sends the boy taking a step back involuntarily at the sight. “This is my mark of the land’s generosity,” she states coolly, her chin lifting. “Because no one came and offered me protection the way we are offering you.”

Shijan stands firm, calm in the face of that mutinous look sent their way for the reprimand handed out and then nods his agreement to what Jaya says of wanting to help. Its pride that lights obsidian eyes when she speaks further to not wanting the lad’s payment for the mission. He can’t however help the twitch of lips when Sego shows off his knife in ‘manly’ display, approving of the boy’s instinct for survival and fighting spirit. The ‘trader’ does however briefly sweep aside his cape, showing the wicked length of the curved knife he carries and the array of smaller ones strapped to his side. A silent statement of, ‘I see your knife and raise you mine.’ Man to man. Brows start to tuck down toward a frown as Sego continues to fire puzzled questions at them and he looks set to say something when Jaya reveals the scarred side of her face and deals with the boy on a level that only she could. And then its anger that clouds his face when she speaks of having had no one to stand in the gap for her when she’d most needed it and his baritone drops to a low growl as he stalks a step forward, no longer the affable trader as the protector in him, the bodyguard, presents arms, “And now she has me, and you have us.”

While Shijan looks proud for the boy’s show of manliness, Jaya is merely pressing her lips together at it. Men. Then Shijan shows his weapon, catching Sego’s eyes with a flicker of interest growing there. The knife was impressive, of course, and the boy seems to consider his next move. His knife was nothing in comparison. Chin suddenly lifting, “I can get one like that,” he chooses to say firmly, seeming to meet that challenge. “Just wait.” But then Jaya’s scar gets the brunt of his attention, the boy frowning in shock at what he sees. “Who did that to you?” he asks, to which Jaya answers simply, “Another crimelord.” He thought they were traders? Perhaps they were and they got on the wrong side of one of the renegade leaders. Eyes flick towards Shijan when he stalks forward, his words in coming to the Bitran’s defense getting the same questions that he asked before: “Why?” Beat. “If you don’t want my reward.” He clearly didn’t trust them – or rather, he was amendable to trusting Shijan more than Jaya even though the scar truly got his attention.

Open amusement is allowed to show itself when Sego declares that he could garner such a weapon for himself, “I believe you could if you wanted to.” Not denying the talents the little urchin might have to call upon. Eyes of coal black then swing from the boy to Jaya and back again, displeasure curling a cold mark of deadly intent across his features when she touches on the one who had marked her in such a way. “Why?” he repeats, his baritone silking across the words, “Because we can. More importantly, because we want to.” Stressing the ‘we’ in that, using his tone of voice to encourage the lad start to seeing Jaya for what she is, a force to be reckoned with in her own right and his equal. “Tell you what, how about we take it one day at a time, hmm? You sleep on it tonight and we’ll talk again in the morning…over breakfast.” Seeking to tempt Sego with the promise of another meal to fill his belly with from their supplies brought with them.

With Shijan agreeing with his stealing prowess, Sego lifts his chin in boyish pride. That pride tapers off when he continues to speak, telling him about their generosity and kindness. He isn’t sure what to believe, really. “Take the offer, kid,” Jaya tacks on behind him, securing her scarred face from his viewing with the head wrap. “Might be nice to have someone at your back every now and then, hmm?” Sego considers Jaya, then Shijan, each in turn. It’s only when Shijan further sweetens the pot with a breakfast that his tongue loosens. The frown starts to abate and tension releases from his little shoulders. Stepping towards them, “Fine,” he gives, not trying to seem in the least like some child looking to be taken care of. That just wouldn’t do. “Can I sleep in the wagon?” Jaya grins at that, nodding with a look towards Shijan as she turns towards their temporary home. “Sure. We can settle here.” She moves to get on it, not hiding the smile and the job well done look she sends Shijan’s way for his negotiating skills before she vanishes further into the cave.

Shijan can’t disguise the warmth that flickers in and out of his eyes as Jaya further encourages the lad to take their offer. But it’s fleeting and comes from an expression schooled to neutrality as Sego considers his options. When he finally pipes up in agreement and then asks if he may sleep in the wagon there’s only the barest moment of hesitation and then the tall teak skinned man sends an oddly quirked smile Jaya’s way and then nods his agreement. He however doesn’t move to board the wagon just yet, instead he returns her smile with one of his own approving for her handling of the matter and then takes a step back and heads toward the mouth of the cave calling out as he does, “I’ll be back shortly.”

When Jaya returns, she catches that flicker of hesitation from Shijan at Sego’s offer to sleep in the wagon and she looks his way. Sego was rummaging through a few of the already opened crates, pulling out some thick enough fabric that could keep him warm in the cold night. He watches when Shijan calls out, heading out of the caves and he turns to look at Jaya curiously. Even she shrugs his way, not knowing what her ‘husband’ is up to. “Try some of the bottom crates,” she offers for him to search, knowing the reason for it. “We weren’t exactly planning to stick around this area, so we didn’t pack for such a situation.” – “Who cut your face?” Sego asks again now that they were alone, the boy resuming his hunt. She pauses at that, considering. If she was still hiding from Vaputero, then she wouldn’t exactly be on this trip. “Vaputero of Bitra,” she answers him, moving to help him search in the crates thick fabrics for all three of them. Sego pauses to look her way at that name, knowing full well who he was. He says nothing either, mulling over all he has heard and returning to his search.

Having left Sego and Jaya to search about for fabric warm enough to serve as blankets, Shijan is gone for a fair length of time thus missing the exchange between young spy and barkeep. This is likely just as well considering the man that becomes the topic of conversation. When he returns he carries with him a small bundle of firewood in one arm and the end of a leafy branch. Heading toward the back of the cave where the wagon has been drawn up, he drops both next to a wheel and moves round to the back of the wagon to check on the progress made to bed down for the night. If he catches Jaya’s attention he’ll give a tilt of head indicating that he wants to speak with her out of earshot of the boy.

Once Shijan returns, he will find that Jaya and Sego are successful in finding the appropriate sheets for the night. Sego is outside the wagon already divesting himself of the colourful clothes for the more shabby ones, while Jaya busies herself with setting up a bed by the wagon. They both look up when he returns, though the boy returns to currently rummaging in his carrysack while Jaya catches the look and approaches. Once she is out of Sego’s hearing, “What do you think?” she asks, her way of asking Shijan what it was as she shifts closer to him, curiosity in her dark gaze as she looks him over and sends a brief look over her shoulder towards Sego.

Open approval hovers in his dark gaze for the work carried out by Jaya while he was away and as she approaches he moves to sling an arm about her waist and draw her in closer, his attention moving briefly to the boy as he readies himself. “I think…” his voice dropping low and sly as to suggest he’s about to speak the words of a lover to his ‘wife’, “that our trail is now swept,” which is what he’d gone off to do, “and that I’ll take first watch while you and the boy sleep.” Much as he’d far rather share that makeshift bed with her.

Once Shijan slings an arm about her, Jaya leans in against him to play the part – though it’s really all that difficult for her – as she listens. “Is there no end to your cunning?” she drawls, keeping her voice low and sultry in the case that Sego should hear. Already the boy was climbing back into the wagon to settle in for the night. After watching Sego vanish, “I think a watch is a good idea,” she agrees then, nodding. “In the case those guards come sniffing, or Sego goes running.” Both were a possibility after all. Turning back to him and briefly pressing her body against his in an embrace, “Wake me when it’s my turn,” she offers low, reaching up with a hand to brush the side of his face. “You’ll be alright, hm? It’s cold tonite.” Especially, it will be cold sitting out at the mouth of the cave keeping guard.

Low laughter greets her response and Shijan wraps his other arm about her too. “Only following proper procedure,” he gives as he moves his mouth to her ear which might lead her to wander just exactly what it is his harper training had involved. Watching until Sego is gone from sight his attention returns to Jaya once again and a corner of his mouth lifts in a half smile, a flicker of heat evident in obsidian eyes as he nods to waking her later. On the latter he glances toward the mouth of the cave and shoulders shift against her in a shrug, “I’ve endured worse.” A warm smile turned back for the concern she displays over his wellbeing and then a hand moves to tap her on the backside, “To bed with you and leave a man to his thoughts, hmm?” teasing.

“Harpers don’t learn how to spike bottles of whiskey,” Jaya notes, her lips curling into a smile as she looks up at him. Yeah, exactly what is it harpers are taught? She catches the heat in his gaze and it’s easily returned, nodding when Shijan states that he’s endured worse before she idly rubs his back before he taps her on the backside. Laughing and pulling away from him then, “Alright, alright shuga,” she drawls, turning from him with sultry eye. She didn’t realize how fatigued she was, her yawn overtaking her at that moment as she heads further into the cave. When she reaches Sego, she finds him already curled up in the wagon, wrapped in sheets before she herself finally settles down for the evening.

Watching that sensual mouth of hers curl about a smile, Shijan is momentarily distracted with thoughts not fitting to remaining vigilant and so his reply when it comes is a little slow in its delivery, a smirk appearing, “That you know of.” As much as he’d just encouraged her to hit the sack and get some shut-eye, he’s reluctant to let her go, especially for the caress of her hand across his back and that sultry look Jaya sends him. But let her go, he does watching as she moves toward the back of the cave and settles down. Only then does he turn away and take up position just inside of the cave where shadows conceal his presence, knife unsheathed and laid at his side the next hours are spent in contemplation of things he’d never been moved to put thought to before.


And so in a couple of sevendays’ time, the mission was fulfilled. Sego pulled through and found the information he needed to gathered, after meeting with the person that could help him get it. Jaya and Shijan, meanwhile, kept their word and watched after the boy until the very the end and kept him fed. The mission took much longer than planned, and when the three returned to Tillek it had rather shocked the crimelord there to hear their report, but Kelarad couldn’t fault them for the extra precautions taken. It unnerved him a little to hear that Borrento’s guards had seemed to expect him, something he was going to have to deal with himself.

And now Sego wants to go to the Seacraft Hall.

He wanted to immediately refused, but Shijan was proving to be convincing. Rad suspects that the man had harper training for sure, now. Whatever the case, he eventually caved with feigned irritation at the couple for taking away one of his potential men, knowing full well that boys like Sego were a mark a dozen in the lands of Pern.

At least he didn’t have to worry about the boy scamming his dockers with dead fish any longer.

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