Astryyd sat in her home thinking over the events of the evening. Skye already in the loft in her furs, Cat in the company of the merchant that had been at the fire that night.
The Merchant, Jarl Edvard Hesse, hailed from New Bristol, the southern city that we had taken Cat from. His arrival set off warning bells with Astryyd but she welcomed him to the fire and seeing the looks he placed on her little Cat, she sent her to tend to him. Once he told of his distaste of the ways in New Bristol, she had relaxed a bit, realizing that this man had not come to retrieve what she had taken from there.
She sat, Skye doing her best to serve her and Bear both and Cats attentions on the merchant. Bear joined them reluctant to leave a post on the wall but sit he did for a bit and drank the spiced su-paga that the merchant offered him. Edvard told Astryyd that her meads were exquisite and he wished to procure some to take to other lands to help further her business. He offered a trade of spices (cinnamon, allspice, clove and star anise) and some Topsits and Cherries for 5 barrels of her special meads. As she thought about the trade, her little Cat showered Edvard with attention. She decided it was worth the trade as the stores she had should last long enough for the new seasonal batches to be ready.
Having Cat around could definitely prove to be a useful asset in some negotiations and if she could just get timid Skye to embrace service, she would be doing good.
As the deals were made, Bear excused himself and returned to the wall to Astryyd’s frustrations. She missed the company of the man that she had grown used to over their long travels but how to tell him that………
Astryyd watches as the dock of Jarnheim slowly faded from sight. She and Bear were heading south to find the fruit that she sought for her meads. They would be gone for some days and she hoped that Skye would be okay in Lady Disa’s care while she was away. She had thought to bring the little blond bond that Bear was fond of but was glad that she had not now. She kind of liked having his attentions to herself.
They travelled further south then she would have thought they had to until they came to a village called New Bristol. The foliage was green and lush and the weather much warmer than she had been accustomed. At one point she had to remove her second underdress lest she over heat in the strange land. She and Bear wandered into village and noticed it oddly vacant. It was not until a barely dressed little bond bounced from a building that they saw anyone. Bear made note of how under protected the village was. Upon seeing the pair the bond threw herself prone on the ground in front of them greeting them then rising to her knees. With an apprehensive look, Astryyd asked the girl to stand and explained to the girl what she sought. The girl knew of the fruit that she sought and would help them find some. The Innkeeper was a man of Northern desent and he made both Astryyd and Bear feel at home in the Inn. Over the course of the week, Astryyd experienced the strange formality of the slaves on the south and watched the firey little slave that was helping them. Her name was ‘Treasure’ and she belonged to the village Doctor but he was never around. By the end of the week after watching the girl climb trees to fetch fruits and work as hard as any bond, Astryyd decided that the girl had no business being a pleasure slave in the south. She was determined to take her back with her to Jarnheim. The Doctor never showed his face making Astryyd’s resolve all the more to take her with them. What kind of Jarl abandons his property like that.
On the eve before their scheduled departure, the Innkeeper waited until there was no one in the Inn but the four of them and quietly slide a map over to Astryyd and told her to take the girl and leave that night. He saw how the slave thrived in her element and he disapproved of the Doctors treatment of the girl. With that, Bear snapped the collar about her neck and replaced it with a simple one that Astryyd had from the blacksmith in Vahalla Cliffs for he had given her two. Collared and chained Treasure followed unhappily as Astryyd led her out of the village in the night and they set sail for Jarnheim. By the time they reached the docks of Jarnheim, the feisty little slave had spoken not a word. Once on shore, she was ordered to strip out of her southern rags. She growled at Astryyd. Astryyd had never before struck a bond but she quickly backhanded the girl to the wooden planks. Bear placed a foot on the girls back and told her she would learn some manners. Astryyd renamed the girl Cat for she hissed like a little Cat. They paraded her through the village and got settled back in.
Bear’s returned brought smiles to more than one bonds face and the fondness did not go unnoticed by Astryyd. For now she ignored the attention that he was receiving, passing him bag of coin as promised, his final payment as her retainer. She had no need to keep him in retainer and she knew that the Chieftain had other duties in mind for him. While this saddened her, as it took away a good reason for her to see him on a regular bases, it also meant she could see if his attentions were to her or just the coin she paid him. ‘Time would tell’ she thought as she took the girl to her house.
Once there, she unhooked the chain and gently touched her face where she had struck her. Cat flinched as her hand came up and it near broke Astryyd’s heart. She moved to take some salve from the shelf and gently applied it to the girls cheek then handed her a simple kirtle for her to dress herself. “Sit by the fire girl and warm yourself. There are furs in the loft for you. You and Skye will both sleep up there and I will not chain you if you don’t give me a reason.” A meek and confused, “Yes Mistress” came from her little Cat. She looked over and sees the spoils of her journey. It had been an over all success between the fruits that she wanted and Cat. She smiled to herself. She would begin Cat’s retraining and retrieve Skye from Disa in the morning. For now, sleep was in order.