Erbe had followed Ashton all the way to La Longi from Pitmerden and was quite the attraction on the waterfront. He came when called, said a few words, and took a few shiny objects from the crowd, namely in the form of coins.
If you raised a shiny coin in the air, Erbe was quick to bring his find back to the “nest”, or rather, a hat Ashton laid in the street.
Ashton was content on the docks for the time being while the Netty Northwich was under repair and he was on a salary provided by Captain Nick.
There were a few passersby unsettled by Erbe. A crow was a sign of bad luck, of death. Some were outspoken about this and told Ashton it was not conducive to his role as a surgeon on a ship. Ashton took to embracing the hate of Erbe with these types and used it to his advantage in his fundraising pursuits.
Erbe had a knack for saying hateful things and was perceptive in observation of his detractors. Ashton thought it an amusing distraction. In fact, he even was booked at the Puking Peasant one night and made a killing.
Erbe was selfish, expecting to be talked to nicely, despite his penchant to speak vile insults. He was a typical bird. Every once in a while, he would fly off when not given the utmost attention and disappear for a while.
To the relief of Captain Nick, now was one of those times. It was time to board and the 16 found it of good fortune that the surgeon’s devil bird had taken flight. Ashton had told Erbe to be nice during feeding and the fowl became forlorn and left in anger.
Ashton was ready. It was time to see the world and make a name for himself. He looked back on his life thus far and contemplated. He had come a long way. A few fights under his belt, a hewer of timber, and a ship’s surgeon were his rightful claims to manhood. He had even learned a little sportsmanship.
He was confident and spoiling for a fight. The docks had given him a taste for it. Everyone on the docks knew how he cut a man down with one swipe of his dagger and sewed him up right after. Ashton walked with a little swagger.
During the weeks on the docks, He found there was a flashy sort of woman that liked a brawler and he had a few on his arm at the Puke. Yara could eat a rotten otter. Yara? He could barely remember what she looked like.
He looked fondly at the refurbished ship.
It was nice to be part of something, especially a cause that was applauded. The attention he commanded as the crew bolstered Ashton’s ego further.
Captain Nick was committed to the speedy demise of Captain Gryll of the Grasshopper who had set fire to the Netty Northwich and terrorized the coastline and so was he. Perhaps he could take a few men down in the melee as well.
Theodore, the chemist, had decided not to board and instead chose to take the farmers of Vijayapura to settle. Upon gathering his things, He pulled Ashton aside.
His words were pointed and had a high pitched sing song rhythm.
“Ashton, you have grown silent, and hard. The docks have done you a disservice.
You have replaced your kindness with violence.
Your bitter words have been replaced with murderous action.
It is not befitting of a man of your constitution.
You have changed since I met you.”
Ashton looked with disgust at Theodore and turned heel. These were not parting words he expected from a man whose life he had saved. Angrily he went below to his quarters.
Due to his specialty of medical practice, he was afforded his own hammock and extra storage for his instruments.
Brooding, he looked at the alcohol used for cleaning and shook his head. The smell drew him like none other. He cursed. He should never have drunk the screaming peaches at the Puking Peasant as he had a taste for it now. Those girls were so pretty and he could not resist their influence to try a little sip and one thing led to another.
Vaguely, he remembered his promise not to curse, and he cursed again. His mom could eat a rotten otter at the moment. Had she not been so outspoken that day, she would not be dead and he would not be here drinking. He opened the bottle and took a swig. There wouldn’t be enough to last the voyage.
On deck he ambled, a whistling a vile tune he picked up at the Puke. There he was met by Lulach.
Ashton, full of drink, considered. Theodore, he was a liar. He opened his mouth.
“A dull man you are, Lulach, I can chop trees better than you and I can whip you as well. You think your a big one, why I’ll show you a thing.”
Lulach punched him in his mouth and he dropped like an anchor.
Hours passed and Ashton awoke on the floor of his quarters. His head hurt terrible and he could not for the life of him remember what happened.
He looked around disoriented. This was not his quarters. He was in the brig.