After lunch clean up, I found Jace in the Stateroom. "I'm supposed to learn driving from you," I said.
He raised a brow at me and then gave a one-shouldered shrug. "Alright, then."
Jace is the Scarlet Skye's quartermaster. (That puts him at second-in-command after Crim.) He never says much, but I have a feeling it's because he doesn't need to. He's also massive; the guy has to stand somewhere around six and a half to seven feet tall, and he's built like a brick wall. Someone would have to be crazy to pick a fight with Jace and hope to win. (By contrast, I am short; just slightly over five foot tall.)
I frequently see Jace behind the wheel of the ship. Crim (the captain) is the only other one who repeatedly has the spot when I'm paying attention. Once in a while I'll see one of the others there, but not as often as those two. And Crim was off running some sort of errand with Twest today, so I was told to follow around Jace and learn how to steer our vessel.
Jace headed above deck, so I tagged along, as I do.
Angelis and Kyle were coming toward the steps as we got to the top and both were shouting at the tops of their lungs. For the life of me I couldn't tell what was going on, only that there were insults being slung.
They tried to go around Jace to get to the stairs, but our bulking quartermaster reached out a hand in either direction to grab their shoulders. They stopped rather involuntarily on either side of him and blinked.
Kyle spoke up first. "SHE won't get off my case!"
Angelis picked up in her own defense. "HE borrowed my tools to fix the bowsprit and dropped half of them in the harbor!"
"You only GAVE me half of them!"
"Then where's my auger?! "Cause I KNOW I saw you using it to open a bottle of rum earlier!"
"Er..." Kyle winced back a little. "Isn't it with the stuff I gave back to you?"
"NO!" Angelis said.
The hand which bulking Jace had to Angelis' shoulder came up in a slow 'hold-on' or shush-ing motion. To Kyle, Jace steadied an accusation glare.
"Well... maybe... I mean," Kyle floundered for a minute.
Angelis started again, drawing the attention back. "I'm still missing five other tools BESIDES my auger!"
Jace turned back to Kyle. "Diving mask."
"Aw, dude, come on! I got stuff to do today! I can't be all diving for her stuff!" Kyle burst.
"Well, I've got stuff to fix that I CAN'T if I don't have all my tools!" Angelis shouted.
"Then YOU go diving for them!" Kyle said.
"I don't mind swimming," I said. "I could go get them, if that would help."
Angelis and Kyle both stopped and looked at me.
"What're you supposed to be doing today, kid?" Angelis asked, unsurely.
"Learning to man the helm," Jace said, looking back over at Kyle with that glowering stare.
Kyle and Angelis both fussed about, seeming to consider something. Then Kyle muttered something about getting his trunks and mask. Angelis followed him below deck, quietly muttering that she'd spot for him. Both seemed defeated, but at least they were no longer fighting.
"What did you do?" I asked Jace.
"Reminded them of priorities," he said quietly and headed up to the quarterdeck.
"Wow," I said, impressed, "Effective."
Right as we got up to the wheel there was a crash, and then the boom for the spanker sail came careening across the deck, making Jace quickly duck. (Yes, he's THAT tall, not mentioning there was stuff hanging off of it.) I ducked, too, but mostly out of being startled.
"What in the world?!" I gaped.
The crash we'd heard turned out to be Mara (the alchemist backslash medic backslash cook) landing on the quarterdeck face first. Jace and I both rushed over to see if she was okay. Above us, there was loud swearing and then Tiara swung down, hauling the boom as she went.
"I TOLD you to watch!" Tiara said.
Mara had gotten sat up to her knees, but was rubbing a knot on her forehead from when she'd landed. "Sorry," she said.
"And I thought cats always land on their feet," Tiara added. "What kind of a landing was that?"
"Aloft work was never my forte," Mara said sheepishly. "And I'm only part
While I checked Mara's head and she assured me she would be fine, Jace stood up and glared down Tiara.
"What?" Ti said.
"Does Mara work aloft?" Jace asked, sounding annoyed, like this question was obvious.
"Well no one else was available!" Tiara said. "And she said she didn't mind!"
Jace put his hands on his hips.
Tiara sighed. "Of course, she never
minds. I suppose I should have known better."
"What did you need help with?" I asked.
Tiara made a waving motion. "Holding stuff while I tied. It's awful windy today."
"I could-" I started to say, but Jace turned that glare toward me and I shut my mouth. It was difficult suppressing a gulp.
"I can manage on my own, it's just hard
, ya know?" Tiara whined.
Jace cleared his throat and tapped his foot.
"Fiiiiiiiine! GAWD, you're worse than Crim!" She snorted, stomped over to the mizenmast, and started climbing back up.
"Thanks Jace," Mara said quietly, standing. "I'm gonna go get an ice pack for this, if you'll be okay."
"Pain-killer, too," he said.
Mara nodded and disappeared below deck.
I looked at Jace. He nodded to the wheel. I shook my head.
you do that?" I asked.
He shrugged. "They know better."
It made me laugh. "No wonder Crim relies on you so much."
A barely perceptible smile played at the edge of Jace's mouth as he patted the wheel again. "You man it; I'm just going to give direction. If we do a quick round in the bay you ought to get a pretty good feel for things. Be ready to follow commands; I'm going to go shove us off and make sure Angelis and Kyle aren't too close where they're diving. Your arms will hurt tomorrow."
I think that's the most words I've ever heard out of Jace, ever.
The rest of the day was full of instructions about starboard and port, stern and bow, fore and aft, and how various commands called for being aware of other affected areas. If the terminology wasn't enough, Tiara's complaints of our needing the sails adjusted when there was ONLY her to rig them put a lot of stress on me, but Jace got her to shut up long enough to make sure I understood what adjustments needed to be made to them in order to change directions or stop entirely. It felt like a long day.
It was around dinner time when we docked again, and Angelis and Kyle were both cranky that we had left them there for the entire day to be wasted and neither had gotten their work load done. A cross look from Jace, though, and both of them shut up and quickly got back to work. Jace quietly suggested to me that now
would be a good time for us to offer them our help, since we were why they had gotten behind schedule. I nodded and did so.
When Crim and Twest came back two hours or so after dinner, we were just finishing the day's work. They were impressed.
"I thought sure things would have gotten dragged out and pushed into two days in port," Twest (the maps guy) said.
Crim laughed heartily. "Nah, not with good ol' Jace in charge! He cracks the whip like no one can." He gave the quartermaster a firm pat on the shoulder.
"You owe me a spa day for this," Jace said, just as straight-faced as the day.
Crim burst out laughing. I stood there for a moment, mouth agape, unsure if he was joking or if he was serious. The idea of big, gruff, hulking Jace doing something so... posh as going to a spa? Getting his nails done? Getting a facial treatment? I just couldn't wrap my head around it!
"He IS joking, right?" I asked Crim.
Crim, Twest, and Kyle ALL burst out laughing. Jace smirked and said nothing. Then everyone prepared to cast off.
"Guys, come on, clue me in here! Is he joking?" I said. "Guys? GUUUuuuuuuuuys!"
Angelis later clued me in that spas are often full of beautiful women in minimal clothing, and some guys will go simply to skirt-chase. I then felt very stupid, but amused none the less.