Who: Brandy and Zaire
With: Bar patrons, the crew of the Siren's Song
When: September 5, 870 RoK, late evening
Where: Some hole-in-the-wall inn/tavern on the Western Coast
The journey through the fairy circle was a total mystery. When Brandy ended up in the same place twice, or three times, she knew which tavern to go to for work, food, shelter… but then, on occasion, she ended up somewhere new, and this delighted her.
Tonight had been particularly shitty. The guy she had been seeing broke up with her after she made a quote-unquote "total issue" of his bringing up a nose job. She didn't, like, miss him or anything after he cut ties, but she had been buzzing with anger when she came through a circle of dandelions to Eventyr and found herself smelling ocean air. No worries, though. There wasn't a bar that didn't want a busty girl who knew her way around a bottle. She found one and settled in.
She spotted a distinctive character as he entered. Brandy might overlooked him, except that heads around the bar turned, so she took note. Shaved head. Full bead. Chocolate skin, but ghost-white hands. Walking like he owned the place… which was a problem because - in fact - Brandy owned the place. Sure, she had been there for mere hours, but the hell was she conceding it to some thug.
Her hands knew what to do. She grabbed a glass and poured two… three… four portions of rum into it. When he inevitably found his way to her, she pushed the heavy drink toward him. It slid smoothly across the bar. "Would you… like some juice with that?"
There were few places Zaire could go and not be greeted with stares. The first was his home, where he was greeted instead with smiles and hugs and tales of childhood wonder, and neither his appearance nor his reputation would stop his wife from wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him in for a hearty kiss. Another was his very own ship, where every man and woman aboard had long made peace with their captain's multi hued skin.
No, the stares didn't much bother him anymore but that hardly meant he'd ignore them. Instead, he took a moment to cast his gaze around the room, quickly noting the familiar faces before moving on to the unfamiliar. There was no trouble to be had here, he decided, dismissing the lot of them.
"Go," Zaire ordered the handful of men accompanying him. "Drink. Fuck. Enjoy yourselves because we're back on deck at first light."
And the Captain of the Siren's Song was intending to follow his own advice, now that he'd assessed the room. Dark eyes skipped from one whore to the next, but it was the bartender who claimed his attention instead.
"Who the fuck drinks their rum with juice?" he asked rhetorically, taking the offered glass and downing the entire thing in one long swallow. He rested an elbow on the bar, the glass dangling from one pale hand as he studied her. He liked the way she carried herself, her head held high and an almost challenging gleam in her midnight blue eyes . . . and, well, the rest of her assets certainly didn't disappoint.
"You're new here." It wasn't a question. Zaire certainly would have remembered this one . . .
"Aye?" Brandy returned with a raise in her eyebrow as she promptly and smoothly refilled the man's glass. The ease and experience of her movements gave them a performance quality above and beyond their practical application, although it had taken a while to get use to the weight of the bottle without the spout they used on Earth. Since she didn't need to watch the liquor splashing into the glass to get it right, her eyes drifted instead on his wrist inches away and the speckled transition between white and black. It was vitiligo. Like Michael Jackson.
As she set the bottle back - without capping it as she suspected she'd need it again soon enough - she plucked up her own drink for a sip. Rum with orange juice. She would have preferred pineapple, but they didn't exactly have a juicer handy and oranges were worlds easier to squeeze (and left her hands smelling citrusy-fresh!). The only thing it was missing was ice, which was apparently exported from the Northern Dutchy and too expensive for the locals to keep on hand.
"Can you tell because I drink my rum with juice?" This was a working vacation, after all, and a buzzed haze made everything a little more interesting.
With a quick flash of a gold incisor, Zaire settled down on the nearest barstool and reached for the glass again. "Because I ain't seen you before," he corrected, taking a sip of the rum.
Her accent was hard to place but, physically, she looked like a Northerner with that red hair and pale skin. His reputation had certainly spread that far, but Captain Visser didn't exactly strike the same fear into the hearts of those outside the Western and Southern duchies as, say, Marcus the Vile would in the North and East. No, it wasn't all that strange for her to not recognize him by sight.
"And," he started, eyes drifting down the column of her throat to the smooth skin of her cleavage, "here on the water, that pale skin of yours wouldn't last long before freckling." He leaned back, idly surveying the room again. Jimmy, his boatswain, had a familiar dark-skinned girl in his lap, while his carpenter was heading upstairs with a blonde and a bottle of rum.
"Also," Zaire finished, again giving the redhead all of his attention and another charming smile, to boot, "you don't know who I am."
Damn, he had a smile. His face reminded her of a mismatched outfit, the two colors competing unevenly even though the features beneath had an appealing symmetry to them. That charming grin was the accessory to his face that pulled it all together, like a Gucci belt or an Armani scarf. Unique or not, she doubted it would be long before one of the girls moved in to claim him.
As he offered his analysis, Brandy stayed silent, although her bemused smirk seemed to push back. Maybe I work part-time, her eyes seemed to suggest, or maybe I carry a parasol. She enjoyed the way he looked at her, and remaining a mystery he couldn't solve made her feel powerful.
"Lucky me." Brandy easily jumped onboard when the topic changed from her to him. She was curious to find out if he really was some bigshot or if he just fancied himself one. "Sounds like I'm in for a treat, then. Who do I have the pleasure of drinking with tonight?"
"You daft, woman?" came a bawdy voice from across the room and Zaire chuckled into his drink. "That there is Captain Visser, of the Siren's Song!" Jimmy continued, waving around his flagon of ale and prompting a squeal from the girl on his knee as she nearly tumbled to the floor. "Scourge of the West!"
Zaire's chuckle turned into a full throated laugh and he turned on the barstool to raise his glass to his crewmate. "Thank you, Jimmy. Perhaps next time you could say it a bit louder, yeah?" He couldn't be upset with his men for wanting to celebrate their Captain though, not after the hard won prize they'd just taken. It was an understatement to say that they'd earned this bit of shore-leave, as short lived as it was destined to be.
"As my boatswain so loudly put it," Zaire said, turning back to the pretty barmaid. "I'm Zaire Visser, Captain of the Siren's Song." His grin turned just a bit sly, "Not sure what this scourge business is about though." Which, of course, was a bit of a white lie. No, the title that Jimmy appeared to have made up on-the-spot wasn't official but it also wasn't exactly inaccurate either. "And what do I call you, love?"
Brandy could not abide a heckler without responding. So, in good humor, she met the pirate in volume, "Oh, I don't know - do you want to drink tonight?"
She did not like the way the pirate nearly knocked his companion onto the floor, and the humor in her gaze turned dark. She held her breath for four or five heartbeats and waited to see that the girl righted herself. She had dark braids, a green dress, and purple-ish lipstick, Brandy noted quickly to herself. She would keep an eye on that one.
Looking back to the captain, the darkness in Brandy's eyes dissipated into wry sarcasm, "Boatswain?" What a word, Jesus Christ. It sounded foreign in her mouth and she knew it came across that way, so she just laughed it off and went on, "Sounds like he just promoted himself to public relations."
The careless pirate's outburst, though, clicked in her head and connected the conversations she'd overheard that afternoon. Whores weren't super wrapped up in superstitions about vitiligo - that would have cost them money, Brandy guessed. All she really remembered was that all the girls had been excited because these were successful pirates, and so they had coin. Lots of it. That, and the girls were keen to hear the latest tales of adventure, and that was the part that made Brandy choose this place over the one down the street that was just selling drinks.
"I have heard of Siren's Song," Brandy said, and the intrigue in her voice was undeniable, and showed in the fact that she went ahead to offer a bit of personal information. "So, you can call me Brandy." Her wording was careful - it wasn't her name, but it was what he could call her.
Zaire didn't miss the wary eye his new drinking companion fixed on Jimmy but she had little to worry about. The boatswain may have been careless in his exuberance but the captain had never heard reports of him being anything less than a gentleman with his partners. In fact, Zaire would be surprised to hear complaints about the majority of his men; he kept them so busy fighting and hunting that when it came to fucking they had little energy for nonsense. It was boredom that made for dangerous bedmates.
The momentary pleasure the captain felt at her recognition of his ship's name was quickly replaced with surprise. "Brandy," Zaire repeated with a twitch upward of his eyebrows. That wasn't a name, but a drink - and one that was distilled and shipped from the border between the West and the North, which certainly would explain that lovely skin.
"Born in the North, yeah?" he ventured, elbows resting on the bar as he regarded her. "Just along the border?" He'd claimed a prize of brandy just last year; earned a small fortune for the thirty barrels.
Brandy had never really tried to construct an Eventyrian backstory for herself, although she figured she would need to eventually. Now she knew where to start - at the border between the North and the West. And from his look of surprise, maybe she ought to rethink her pseudonym… Nah. She'd gotten the idea from a Buzzfeed quiz, "What is your stripper name?" and fallen in love with it. It had connotations of sweetness and strength and expense, and naming herself after liquor made her feel just the right amount of trashy.
Brandy shook her head and tsk-tsked quickly, dismissing the captain's speculation. They would be here all night playing a guessing game if he kept on like that. But he was the curious type, so she chose carefully what she answered so that it was true, if not a full picture.
"Nevermind where I am from," Brandy said, taking a sip from her drink and then setting it back down below the bar, where she then braced her hands and leaned in conspiratorially, with one shoulder inclined more than the other, which she knew gave the curve of her hip quite an advantage. "Here's what you need to know: I came through a fairy circle, looking for an adventure. It dropped me here. And now I'm drinking rum on the beach and meeting an epic pirate captain and having a fucking amazing time." With a broad smile that banished all her earlier coquettishness, she concluded. "All that matters is that I'm here now."
Zaire's smile widened just a touch as she leaned in, granting him an unobstructed view down her bodice and the faintest hint of citrus-y sweetness tickling his nose. It was a refreshing scent, after being surrounding the stink of sweat and salt and brine, and reminded him a bit of coming home. It warmed him to her in a way he wasn't expecting and the glint in her eye, as if she were offering a filthy secret, had him eager to hear what was about to come next . . .
Adventure. It was a desire he could relate to, right along with her obvious reluctance to indulge any details of her history, and he found himself smiling again. "It sounds like your adventure is off to a good start," Zaire decided, absently rolling the glass between his palms but he only had eyes for the redhead across the bar. "After all you are, as you said, here with me." It was a cocky statement - the type of arrogant remark that would have his wife rolling her eyes - but there was a conviction to it that tended to make people hesitate. Was their luck actually that good, to be in the willing company of Zaire Visser?
"Lucky me," Brandy echoed her earlier statement, although with less facetiousness this time. She straightened again to reclaim her glass and raise it to toast, "To a great adventure." A musical clink later, and Brandy took a hefty mouthful.
"To great adventure," Zaire agreed, but he hesitated with his glass halfway to his lips, distracted by the graceful curve of her neck and the dip between her collar bones. She was a lovely wench, wasn't she? With another smirk and a faint shake of his head, the pirate finished the motion and drained the last of the rum.
Her attention divided when one of the working girls came to the bar, asking for four ales for her customers. But since the keg there on top was just about empty, she needed to access the backup one below. Brandy saw no problem and quickly went to it, but it did require her to bend in a certain way that offered quite a view of her ass to the bar while she took care of business. She couldn't help but cast a glance back and see Captain Visser's eyes… and return the attention with a smirk and a wink.
And while Brandy was preoccupied, another woman made her move. She was in her late twenties or early thirties, blonde hair but darkly tanned skin - a leader in the brothel. Coming in strong, she propped herself up on the stool beside the pirate and went in, "Captain Visser!" Her hand touch his bicep suggestively and trailed downward, "I heard the Siren's Song is dominating the seas…"
While Zaire's attention may have been on Brandy, the delightful curve of her hip and the strength in her arms as she tapped another keg, he was hardly unaware of what was going on behind him. His ears registered laughter, rather than voices raised in anger, and the occasional glance told him that his men were watching his back, just as much as he was watching theirs. And while he was patiently waiting for the object of his attention to finish her work and get him a refill on his drink, one of the circling sharks made her move.