Sweaty Palms in Ascya
The piercing light of the morning sun came with the rise of dawn, as did those sailormen with their loose white tunics. The men spoke, seemingly whispering, their hands at their mouths. At the cockpit of the galley they shook hands and prepared to unload at the docks. They had arrived a day late, and the dressmaker grew his anxiety with the passing of each hour predating their arrival. I watched as his foot bounced, practically fuming, yet relieved as the men walked down from the boarding station.
Diplomacy at his finest, he welcomed the Myralian sailors to his humble settlement, as he does every month. With a smile, his teeth crookedly posing, the dressmaker offered his hand to the foreign men.
“Greetings, yes greetings men! My, what a journey you must have had, a day late! Yes, a whole day late! Oh… I wonder why?” The dressmaker poorly hid his aggression, though maintained his smile.
“Some issues back home, sir. My pal, his daughter has fallen ill. Sir, but don’t worry, we hope for her quick recovery.” The sailor man ushered his cosailor, who lightly smiled, his head bowed. The two sailors looked beyond the markets from which they stood upon, toward their boat. Three men lifted crates from the galley, placing them upon the dock. Sweat dripped from their crowns, they constantly wiped their heads with their tunics.
“I see, I see. Oh, to that I say good wishes to her! May Aphellias be with the young lady.” The dressmaker looked down, nervously. “Ah, yes, yes! Come now, you must meet my apprentice!” Approaching me, came my master, the dressmaker, along with the two foreign men.
“Welcome… welcome to Ascya, sir. Ah! To you, too, sir. Welcome to Ascya…” I stuttered with a bow, I offered my palm to the men. I could feel the silence, the awkward tension. I lowered my hand. “Yes of course… it is not your custom to take my hand…” I whispered. I couldn’t help but to concern myself with their awful stench. Fish, perhaps? No, they weren’t fishermen.
“Excuse my boy, he knows not his way with strangers, yet alone those from across the sea. This island, well, is all he has ever known.” My master gave my pardon on the basis of my ignorance. I still could not ignore that wretched stench.
One of the sailormen, he was taller than the other, his hair darker and skin fairer, put his hand out before me, with a bow. It was sweaty, the sunlight glistened from his skin. Perhaps he was not accustomed to the warmth of Ascya. I smiled back to the man, placing my hand upon his.
“May Aphellias have your favor, sir.” Awkward, it felt. This man of Myralis, a place I knew much not about.
“May… may Aphellias have your favor.” Reluctantly, he praised me with my god. I blushed. Though, the stench I could no longer tolerate.
“Excuse me, sir. You too, sir. Master…” I fled the dock’s market to the nearest alleyway. I vomited, and with that vomit came a stench ever so familiar to that of the man. I vomited again.
As I felt relieved, I made my return to the dock. As I approached, I noticed my master profusely sweating, bent over, gagging.
“What have you done? Poison?” I screamed, furiously at the sailormen. “Really, no, I do not care! Leave!” With my own irrational, angered mood, I reached into my bag and grabbed a hold of a bag of coins, slamming it into the sweaty palm of the taller man.
The men stood silent, awkwardly, for a moment, before turning back toward their galley. Upon entering the galley, they reclaimed one of the crates of silk, leaving us four.
“Oh, my boy. I must have swallowed my saliva poorly… Now, we have clothes to make and clients to serve,” the old man chuckled, as he wiped his crown.