Lemma the Librarian: Op-arrrr-ant Conditioning, Part 1

Ah, the sea! Fresh air, the tang of
salt, the wind in your hair, and best of all, the sight of the Tin Islands
slowly getting further away!

Next to me, Iason sighed.

“Yeah,” I agreed cheerily.
“Such a relief to finally be out of that hell!”

“Really?” asked Iason.
“I’m going to miss it. We had some real fun there!”

I stared at him slack-jawed.
“Are you serious? You can’t be serious!”

“Sure I am! Remember that time
we fought werewolves?”

I sighed. “For the last time,
those weren’t werewolves!”

“I think I know werewolves when
I see them, Lemma.”

“No, they–I’m not getting into
it again! The point is, nothing that happened on that miserable island was fun!
There is literally nothing about that place I’ll miss!”

“Well, I had some fun
times,” Iason said stubbornly. “In between, you know, the

“I am leaving behind the bones
of my friends and those I swore to protect,” said Iola. “Also

Yikes. Way to kill the mood,

The three of us were on a ship
headed for the mainland. Since there were no ports in the wild northern and
western lands, it was going to be a long trip, clinging to the coastline all
the way around to the gates of the Inner Sea, where the Sea People had a large

That was who the ship belonged to, a
Sea Person named Milos. He had the same coloration as Iola and Iason–bronze
skin, dark eyes, curly dark hair–but the resemblance ended there. He was slim
where they were buff, a little shorter than either, with an open, friendly face
a broad, slightly toothy grin, and a neatly trimmed beard. 

To be honest (not that I’m ever not
honest, of course, and if Iason says anything about werewolves ignore him),
when we first met him at the port in Kyrno I seriously considered whether I
wanted to make a play for him during the trip. Unfortunately, then he spoke to

“Arr, if it be a ship to Qart
Hadast ye be seekin’, the Sea Witch be yer best ‘n’ only way t’
travel,” he said. 

I pulled Iason and Iola into
immediate conference. “What the hell is that accent?”

“Pirate,” said Iason,
making a face. 

“…Pirate is a job, Iason.
It’s not an accent.”

“It is for Sea People,”
replied Iola. “Piracy is… well, it’s a popular game for princes who want
to have a little fun. And when they do, they use this… accent.”

“It’s their idea of how a
regular sailor talks,” said Iason. 

“I have never, ever heard a
sailor talk like that before.”

“Congratulations,” Iola
replied. “You know more about sailors than our princes.”

“So… This guy’s a prince
playing pirate?” Hot AND rich and powerful? I just might be willing to
overlook a ridiculous accent for that…

Iason shook his head. “A prince
wouldn’t be caught dead ferrying passengers or shipping cargo. I think he’s
just a merchant who wants people to think he’s a prince.”

“So can we trust him?”

“As far as any merchant,”
said Iola. “So don’t let him see where you keep your money.”

I returned to Milos and we haggled a
bit before settling on a price. “Now I be having to perform me favorite of
all th’ duties of a captain,” he said. “If ye’ll be excusin’

“What duty is that?” I

He grinned broadly.
“Sup-arrrrrvisin’ th’ loadin’ o’ carrrrrrgo, of course!” he

“…I don’t get it,” I

“Be glad of that,” replied

Pretty soon I realized how right she
was. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it kept getting less funny the
more Milos told it: his favorite food was barrrrrrley, he became a sailor
because he liked seeing farrrrrr-away lands, if he wasn’t a sailor he’d’ve
joined the military and become a searrrrrrrrgeant, and so on. It was apparently
the only joke he knew, and he loved it.

But now we were finally leaving
port, putting out to open sea! No matter what awful jokes he told or whatever
else happened, I was finally free of that awful place! Nothing could ruin my
mood, not even a hot guy turning out to be annoying as hell.

(To be continued…)

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