Day 043: A Favour in Turn for Trade
Summary: A pair of drifters spark curiosity when they wander into the Trikru Camp situated near Camp Jaha, including a trader with a wagon and a certain skaisplita. An unorthodox deal is then made.
Date: 11 July 2016
Related: Precedes Sparring Lessons
Cassandra Khesu Sev 

Lake Arkadia — the Wilderness
Surrounded by breathtaking mountains and rolling foothills, the Lake Arkadia — or known as Lake Audo to the Trikru — is a sprawling, crystalline body of water that joins the Potomac watershed. It is encompassed in low grasses and young alder trees. The forests start to thicken to the west, where the rocky peaks of this small mountain range poke up out of the groves of hemlock and cedar. Following along a newly flattened path is the road to Camp Jaha. The Skaikru city is what remains of the crashed Alpha station. The enormous ring stands vertical some many hundred feet in the air, and it has already begun to be salvaged for materials.
43 Days After Landing

With the Trikru camp here outside of Camp Jaha, there is various activity from temporary shelters, small cooking fires, wooden frames erected to work hides, game meat smoking to cure, and down by the lake, a similar scaffolding built for the drying of fish.

Khesu stands by the latter. The tall hunter has been aiding in the stocking of food stores both to feed their clan and to store against winter. Summer is already well along. With knife in hand, Khesu guts fish and fillets the fat bodies before rinsing them in the lake and hanging the thin portions over the drying rack. A small fire is kept going on the lake shore with apple wood chips thrown on damp occasionally to smoke the fillets. A few others do similar work.

Khesu cuts off a slice of raw, smoked fish to eat it, then goes back to cutting up another. He only has two left to clean and hang before he's finished with his morning's work.

There's tinkling sound as a wagon is pulled by a horse, slowly and casually moving toward the temporary camp. Sitting on the wagon, holding reigns, is a man. Likely a trader of sorts, but definitely Tirkru by his appearance. The tinkling sound is apparently the sound of small, ancient glass bottles knocking against each other. Or maybe little chimes the owner either created or found somewhere that he thought interesting enough to keep. The wagon is pulled off to the side, its owner bringing the mount to stop with a tug, then hopping off. He's an older man, and looking like he's the type that hasn't seen the inside of a house or dwelling in years. The type where the word 'sunburn' stopped having any meaning decades ago. He's chewing on a long piece of grass straw, the fluffy part of it hanging limply at the end.

That is certainly not a sound one hears very often, and one more apt to be heard when a traveling trader comes to camp. Unsurprisingly, several look up curiously at the arrival of the wagon, watching it. A few pause in what they are doing and come to see who's arrived and what he's brought.

Khesu finishes his last fish and hangs it up, casting aside the bones to a basket. And old woman waits until the basket is full and then takes it up to the camp to boil for fish broth. His work there now done, Khesu goes to the water and squats down to wash off his knife as well as his hands. The blade is then wiped dry and sheathed before he too starts to walk over towards the wagon. Being of 'middle age' among Trikru himself, he gives Sev an upnod, "Where do you come down from this time?"

Skirting the hillocks surrounding the makeshift Trikru camp is a skulking figure who does not belong. She's dressed like a Grounder Warrior, head-to-toe, but is far too scrawny in build, of the age to rightly be a Second were she more promising looking. She's a stranger, and her name is Cass Bonheur.

Wherever it is she's coming from, it isn't Camp Jaha and it isn't the Trikru camp either. She emerges seemingly from nowhere, her hideout hidden in a vale past the lake. When she spots the trader's wagon and the fisherman, she stops, watching with curiosity, but also to assess potential threat: she realises she can't get to where she needs to go without being seen, and walking directly through the present Grounders.

"The west," Sev states, a direction synonymous with 'unexplored lands'. That is the direction his wagon came from, not from the east where most people come from, as Tondc lies that way. As for the man himself, his constant state of dirtiness isn't all that odd from people who have seen him before. Yet for someone who doesn't seem to ever bathe, he doesn't stink. Which one can thank the herbs he works with to spare anyone that indignity. There's a look Khesu, as if trying to put a name to the face. "Four…five years?" he asks the man, as in the last time he saw the other. Then a nod, as if remembering. "Traded two salves and one bandage pack for fish scales and a bundle of deer hide if I remember."

<FS3> Khesu rolls Alertness: Failure. (5 4 3 4 5 5 3 1)
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Stealth: Success. (7 3 5 1 3)

A faint negative movement of his head. "No, not me." Sev must be thinking of someone else because he has no use personally for healer's things. It has been a while. Khesu's baritone rumbles low, speaking Trigedasleng as is his usual. "You ever run into a healer woman named Lila? She went missing early last winter." Khesu doesn't look like a fisherman by his usual trade. Kill marks adorn the backs of his shoulders and he is clearly a fighting man, carrying a bow and long handled axe. His bedroll and other items are left back in the Trikru camp, his torso bare without armor in the summer heat and humidity. "Bring us anything unusual?" Traders are never boring people. "Or news from the west?"

<FS3> Cassandra rolls Wit+wit: Success. (6 4 6 1 7 1 1 3)

Trepidatiously, the scrawny faux-warrior clambers down the hill towards the lake, stepping closer to the trader's wagon. She glances about for familiar faces, and seeing none for the moment, nods to the pair conversing next to it. "Heya," she says, the traditional Trigedasleng greeting. Though she doesn't understand a word they say, and doesn't want to give herself away as one of the Skaikru too soon, she attempts to communicate with one basic word she learned recently in TonDC. "<In Trigedasleng> Trade?" Though the word is comprehensible, her pronunciation is terrible. She points indicatively at the wagon to assist, then points at the bag by her side, which she soon digs both hands into to riffle through. From within, she produces a bottle of vintage to show off to Sev — vintage being an understatement. It's over a century old, and its contents are by now more vinegar than wine. The glass is covered in muck and black grime.

There's upturning from Sev's lips. "Huh." Then he has to think more on it. Or he would if it really mattered to him, resulting in a shrug. "Then you look like someone who did, my mistake." The description of the woman causes him to ponder. "Maybe, I've met plenty of healers. Don't know if it makes you feel any better, but I haven't heard of any dead healers by the name of Lila." There's no press for who the woman might be. "No news past the borders." Because of course he ventures past known Trikru lands. "<In Trigedasleng> Just wilds. Ruins. If you go far enough you find spoils untouched for many seasons," he says, going to the back of his wagon. "<In Trigedasleng> I was coming on my way back when I saw the falling star." There's a look at the looming arch of Alpha station over his shoulder. "<In Trigedasleng> That it?" Whatever he says next is brought to a halt, because he may spend most of his time alone, but even he knows a bad accent when he hears it. "<In Trigedasleng> Yes." Then there's a look over Cassandra, then the bottle, and he nods once. "<In Trigedasleng> What're you looking?"

Khesu glances to Cassandra as she comes up to join those who are looking over Sev's wagon. As he doesn't know her, his interest is piqued enough to study her. And more so when she speaks their language poorly. A dark brow is lifted at her, taking his time to note details about her attire, her posture, the injuries she appears to have suffered recently, and the general fact that she's rather attractive to his eyes. The warrior is silent for a long moment before he looks back to Sev.
"<In Trigedasleng> I have traveled far these past six months myself." But clearly he'd hoped for news anyway, though his travels surely are not much compared to Sev's. A nod towards Camp Jaha, "<In Trigedasleng> Aye, one of them. There were many. That one the largest near here, I think." His baritone rumbles back into silence. Khesu leaves the trader to do his business with the woman. As for himself, he starts to look over Sev's wares to se if there is anything that might catch his eye. Any books?

Because Cassandra can hardly understand a word the Grounders are saying, she sees fit to listen instead, paying rapt attention to the way they speak more so than the actual meaning. She notes that Sev asks her a question, but rather than risk mangling their language a second time, simply nods her injured head in agreement. After offering Khesu a polite smile, flicking a glance over his visible kill-marks, she steps on up towards the wagon and turns to watch the trader's expression for any signs she's making a faux-pas. A gloved hand reaches towards a jar of his wares for inspection, giving an askance look for permission to do so.

"<In Trigedasleng> Weeks ride away when I saw it fall from a distance." Sev utters over at Khesu. "<In Trigedasleng> Was heading in this direction anyways and wanted to see what came down. Didn't expect it to be people. Odd." Though he says the last word like it's not so strange. Maybe he's seen other things that put a ship full of people on the ground in perspective. "<In Trigedasleng> Another landed to the north. Probably Azgeda territory," he agrees matter-of-factly. But he's a little preoccupied, watching Cassandra reach for his wares, though he doesn't stop her. Likely he's has a mental inventory locked away and would know if something was taken without his say-so. So he just nods once when she looks at him. "Would Gonasleng suit you better?" he states in English.

"Hmmmm." That to Sev's mention of another falling star that landed in the north, and where. That may not be good for the Trikru and bears thought. "<In Trigedasleng> Do you have any books with pictures or drawings in them?" Not surprising if he doesn't see any out where a surprise rain might get at such a thing on the wagon. Khesu looks back to Cassandra to watch her as well before he changes to Gonasleng too. "Who are you?" Simple and direct.

When she's questioned in Gonasleng, Cassandra realises that her jig is up, and her smile wanes. "Mean no harm," she replies at first, her tone guarded and rough around the edges. "Ai laik Kasandra." This bit of Trigedasleng she manages to pronounce flawlessly, glancing Khesu's way apologetically. She really ought to have known that trying to deceive the Trikru was a bad idea, but even now, she leaves off the kom Skaikru suffix, even if it's implied.

There's one word spoken between the two that the Skaigirl was able to decipher. Looking Sev over, with the ignorance of one who has never seen the ritually scarred and white-painted faces of the Ice Nation, she asks, "You are Azgeda?" It's a tone of curiosity, not meant to offend, although she lacks the political savvy to realise that would, in fact, be an insult to the Trikru.

"<In Trigedasleng> Everyone is always looking for books," Sev says, then shakes his head. "<In Trigedasleng> I saw some, but didn't pick them up. The ones that I did crumbled to dust when my fingers picked them up. Too dry. Brittle," he explains. "<In Trigedasleng> Finding ones that have been sealed, those are the ones worth any value. But those are even rarer. I have one, but it's not for trade. Personal." There's a hand that's waved at his wagon. "<In Trigedasleng> Deal mostly in healing supplies. That's what I look for. New herbs, perhaps things from the Old World to help in healing. You would have to ask for a more general trader, I'm a bit more specialized." Yeah, sounds like he's said that more than a couple times.

Being called an Azgeda is a bit of a new one for Sev, and he shrugs. "I've been accused of worse, but no." He doesn't sound offended by it, really. "Though you probably have not seen one to confuse me with one. Doesn't matter. If you want to trade that's fine. So. You are one of these new people I've heard of. Interesting." A look over at Khesu. "<In Trigedasleng> Strange. They look as human as any other. I was expecting something else."

Sev gets a nod from Khesu, who can't read very well anyway. "<In Trigedasleng> Any particular herbs you seek? I can make it known and any extra we have brought to you." He might know what some of them look like if he's lucky. A small dark blue glass jar is plucked out of the rack of glassware and looked at. The warrior's dark eyes flick back to Cass, then return to Sev, "<In Trigedasleng> Aye, they are human enough. But strange people. They have wheeled machines they can ride in, like in the old books."

The small glass vial is kept in hand as he looks at the wares. Then back to studying Cass. "Your name has a good sound." Apparently he likes it. "I am Khesu." He does not seem to be annoyed with her attempt to blend in. Perhaps curious, for he steps closer and lifts a hand cautiously to touch her quiver, it being made of strange material.

The hand reaching out towards her makes Cassandra blink at first, before she realises it's her quiver Khesu is going for. Since she probably couldn't take them on if they were trying to steal from her, especially in the midst of their own camp, she lets it pass without complaint, stays placid and hopes for the best. Though dressed like a warrior, she doesn't act much like one, or perhaps simply knows when to try and make friends rather than fight.

"Nice to meet you, Khesu," she replies, warmly enough. Sev's guess gets a nod, and she admits, "Skaikru. But I don't spend much time with them down here. What you selling, sir?"

There's a grunt from Sev at Khesu, holding a finger up in a 'hold on' gesture, going to the front of the wagon where he keeps his pack. It's rummaged through, picking out an old, battered, and ancient leather-bound, small notebook. "I keep of log of what I use, what to look for, and what it does. There are some plants I've had to test on myself to see what it does. Trial and error. Sometimes it's unpleasant with the results," he describes, as if experimenting on yourself is just something you have to do as a healer. Can't try something new on someone unless you've tried it yourself. The pages are flipped and handed to Khesu. "Ever seen something like that? I need more of that." It's a drawing of St. John's Wort (or whatever it's called by the Trikru). Cassandra gets a wave to his wagon. "I'm a healer and trader. I trade healing supplies for things I need to survive in the wilds where I search for new kinds of treatment. Plants and animals that have not yet been discovered that can be used for healing uses." By the way he looks, seems like this guy is real good at surviving in the middle of nowhere on his own.

Aye, 'Kasandra's bow and arrows have his interest as much as the woman's quiver. As she doesn't seem too weirded out by his touching her quiver, he also fingers her arrows, distinguishing between those that are well made and those that are much less so. But Khesu doesn't try to draw any of them out of her quiver. He can see the fletching at least well enough to learn what he wants from them. He looks to Cass's face once more, his baritone still very low in volume. "Some of these are made by my niece. You trade with Benning or Gideon?" The arrows he carries in his own quiver are made by the same hands.

Khesu looks at the book and nods. "<In Trigedasleng> I am familiar with it. I have none but I will speak our healers." It won't grow up in the mountains but at the lower elevations it is not too uncommon. The small glass vial is put back in it's exact former spot on the wagon with care.

<FS3> Cassandra rolls Resolve: Failure. (2 5 5 2 3 1 3 1)
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Science: Good Success. (2 3 6 5 7 3 8)

To say that Cassandra isn't weirded out by Khesu's liberal handling of her property isn't entirely accurate. She tries to show a brave face, but flinches as he proceeds, watching the long-haired warrior with a wary and slightly murderous eye. It's difficult to hide, but she stays put and lets him have at it all the same. She is, after all, in Grounder territory.

"Gideon kom Trikru," she says with a nod, when he mentions the name. "She taught me how to shoot. Good woman." By the tone of her voice, the Skaigirl has a lot of respect for the unfavoured archer.

While the two converse in their own tongue and examine her arrows, Cassandra starts to lose interest in Sev's wares, her attention now caught by that book. The Farm Station girl is both fond of and skilled at botany, and when she sees the drawing, she also sees an opportunity to show off. "H. perforatum," she points out, raising her brows and then looking up at the trader. "I've seen it," she dares to claim. "You need it for mental stuff or anti-inflammatory?"

<FS3> Khesu rolls Alertness: Good Success. (8 4 7 5 3 6 6 7)

"Yes," Sev says to Cassandra simply, taking the book back. "When mixed with another plant it creates a potent poultice. But too much can be…problematic. I have other herbs I seek, but that is simply to restock my wares. Have to venture out into the fields and see what I can find. Should not take me very long." Tucking the manual away, he goes around to the side of his wagon, picking out at little jars and bottles that seems to be more for construction than actual trade, though he's not beyond trading in bulk if the price is right. He's been lucky, finding more than his fair share of glass or plastic containers to store his supplies. There's dried herbs, a couple of mortar and pestles, strange looking colored salves and pastes, few bottles of clear liquid, their labels long since worn off. At least his wagon smells good. Pine, sage, particular flowers, and other such herbs. "Have not heard that name used for it before," he finally utters. The stuff about the bow is not spoken upon, though it's clear he has one of his own. Khesu gets a nod. "Thank you. But…" there's a look back at Arkadia, then a half shrug. "I would not be beyond trading with these new people either. Though I have no idea if they would have anything I would be interested in. Seen enough machines to know I have little use for them."

Weirded out then, but showing self discipline not to allow herself to react to it. Khesu's focus has shifted from her gear to watching Kasandra's face with more attention. He is standing very close to her but has made no effort to actually touch her. His nostrils flare slightly, trying to take in her scent and he actually leans closer to her hair at least. Some of those Skaikru smell funny. Whatever she smells like to him doesn't make him wrinkle his nose in dislike. "Gideon and Benning are my nieces."

The Trikru warrior steps away from Cassandra to give her back her personal space, but he seems to be curious about her. He stops on the other side of her but is no longer quite so close. Khesu makes no further comment, listening to the other two.

Cass stays stalwart, but there's a touch of fear in her slightly narrowed eyes as Khesu continues to invade her personal space. It's not long ago that three of the Skaikru were crucified by unknown Grounder perpetrators just outside Camp Jaha. The peace that exists between the two Clans at the moment is tenuous at best, and she knows it, even if she's brave (or foolish) enough to show her face here alone. When he mentions Gideon again, though, her eyebrows raise, and her attention turns to him more fully. "Oh," she says, and then pauses to consider all possible unfavourable outcomes. Still apprehensive if now a touch hopeful, she wonders, "Do you have a good relationship with your nieces?"

Towards Sev, she pipes up, "I can help you. I can find all kinds of medicinal herbs. You name it, I find it." Deciding she doesn't need her initial offering of a bargaining chip any more, she stows her musty old wine-bottle back in her bag.

It may be that he can pick up on her fear of him, or at least her unease with them in general. Khesu makes no comment upon it, merely observing and giving her more space now. Cassandra gets a faint nod from him ere he rumbles low, "I am fond of them. My own children … have not lived." Sev doesn't seem too interested in his offer to hunt up the herb from others so Khesu shifts the diagonal leather strap that bisects his chest to resettle his own bow, quiver and axe a little higher on his back. Without saying anything further, he simply turns and walks off along the lake. Not back towards the Trikru camp nor up the slope towards the Jaha. If anything, he might be back-tracking Cassandra's own path as he melts into the trees and is soon departed.

The talk between Khesu and Cassandra really isn't any of his business, so he continues about sorting things he'll likely need for whatever he plans on trading, sorting things out in a way that suggest only has importance to him. Clearly, he doesn't seem to know Gideon or Benning, and barely seems to remember Khesu from the interaction he's had. Though he pauses, picking up a small rough wool-hewn bag, looking through it, a dried flower held between his fingers, sniffing at it. "Do you," he finally utters, taking a petal, crushing it between calloused, dirty finger, watching the way the purple color smears over, as if that was an indicator of something. Another sniff, ending a nod, the rest of plant put away. "We'll see." So, that's not a no, at least.

Noticing that Khesu is following the way she came, Cassandra turns and casts a worried frown at his back before she turns back to Sev. "Can prove it to you," she tells him confidently. "I'm not all talk. Time and place and herb. Make it a challenge."

Steady as a rock, Sev is. "There's a particular eagerness. Are all of your people like that?" he asks, though he seems to ponder that. "I suppose it doesn't matter, does it. Not my business in the long run. Nature will sort it all out." A sniff, scratching at his neck, finally deciding. "Very well. If you're so eager, who am I to say otherwise." Picking out his manual from the inside of his coat, he flips through pages some more. "I am low on this," A drawing of jewelweed, "and this," flipping a few more pages, he points at another drawing of paper birch. It's bark specifically. "If you feel so compelled. Though I would wonder why you want to do this? Do a favor in turn for trade?" Not beyond him to do tasks in order to earn a certain amount of trade value with him.

Cassandra squints at the pages of the book when Sev flips through them again. Though she's taking note of what he indicates, she's also trying to sneak a look at pages he doesn't intentionally show her. "I'm looking for a teacher," she replies outright, flicking her gaze back upwards towards his and clasping her hands behind her back. "I want to learn Trigedasleng, but I'll settle for a horse if you can't teach me. I'll get you whatever you need in exchange for as long as you help me back." Sev, being a trader, likely has a lot of experience haggling and bartering. He likely meets people from all walks of life, and can easily identify when a seemingly firm customer is pliant enough to be talked down. Cass is no such person. By the hard look in her eye, her offer is a 'take it or walk' kind of deal.

Now that gets a look from Sev. "You're looking for a teacher," he echoes, but there's still no real inflection in his tone. The man seems pretty monotone about just about everything. "A horse or the language. One requires a pretty high trade and as you can see, I only have but one horse. The language…" he considers, letting the thought roll around in his head. "Possible. We'll see how long I decide to stay here. And you, young one, do not wish to follow me where few bother going." Given the deep tan on his skin and the general roughness of his features, he's traveled. A lot.

Glancing up at the noonday sun and the sky she rained down from, the Grounder-garbed Skaigirl asks, "You be around here at dusk? Tomorrow morning?"

A nod from Sev. "I plan to stay as long as it takes to replenish my stocks. If these new people have no need for my wares, I will move on. Likely to Tondc will be my next stop. But should they wish to trade? Perhaps learn what it takes to survive in this world, I could offer that. If they do not, it's no longer my concern." Pretty cut-and-dry with him, it seems. Either he's needed or not, and if he isn't, he goes on his way.

Likewise, Cassandra is a cut-and-dry sort of person. It's not that she isn't interested in Sev's words and appearance — she notices, a keen eye scanning his ensemble, but her laconic act prior, when she was pretending to understand his language, may not have been entirely an act. Word of his travels gets no comment from her: only that which is directly, presently useful:

"Then I'll be back," she promises. "Guess I'll follow your wagon." An arm of hers stretches back towards her quiver, where she absently counts her remaining arrows. There's nothing she could have done if Khesu kom Trikru had in fact stolen from her, but it helps to know for sure that everything is in order.

She turns her gaze back down to Earth from the sky, meeting the trader's blue-eyed gaze with a single, sharp nod as she turns to move off.

"Mmm," is the non-verbal reply from Sev, who only returns the nod. Obviously he will have to wait and see if the skaigirl can walk the walk since she's so willing to prove herself. The older man, probably ancient in terms of Trikru will wait and see. But it's not going to bother his thoughts, watching her leave a moment longer before starting unpack his things and take a proper inventory of what he needs, what he needs to create, and what will have to wait until he has the proper supplies for it.

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