Arya awoke with a splitting headache. Moaning, she dragged herself out of bed and to her porcelain washbasin. To her disgust, it was frozen solid. Opening the shudder of her window revealed three inches of snow and very harried looking servants rushing from their quarters to the castle. She sighed and changed into clothes for today, putting on an extra wool cloak. Though it had once been a deep purple, it was now frayed and faded like most of the other things Arya owned. Thinking about this just brought more bitterness toward her father, so she tried to turn her thoughts to something else- like breakfast.
It was no surprise to her that Waltar wasn't down to breakfast yet. After a night when he hadn't gotten drunk, he slept in until at least ten, and if he had been drinking, noon or later. Catching the relieved look on a serving girl's face that it wasn't Waltar, Arya said she would come to the kitchen to eat. "Do you know where Erik is?" she inquired of Georgette, the head cook.
"He never came back last night miss. Left in a fury at your father last night after he brought you home," Georgette answered, frowning. Arya knew the servants shared her opinion of her father, but would never admit it outright. "Johan came to see your father last night too."
Her stomach clenched when she remembered the greasy haired man she had fired yesterday. She knew he did some of her father's dirty work for him and wondered what he had been put up to this time. "What did they talk about?"
"Your father was very angry, Miss. He sent Johan on some errand I suppose, but when Erik brought you home and found out about the errand, he and your father had a fight and he hasn't been back since."
Arya moaned, but kept eating her hot biscuit and tea. She would have to go into town and find Erik later, unless he had spent the night at Eileen's. . .
Japeth had awoken with the dawn, hoping to catch Erik before he got up. Thankfully, he was still sleeping on the hide-covered couch where Japeth had dragged him last night. Shaking his head and splashing it with water unfrozen from over the fire, he set about helping his mother make breakfast.
Erik stirred just as the coffee was fully warmed. He sat up, looked around to ascertain where he was, then furiously leapt up. Japeth hurried over to him.
"Erik, sit down. Here's some coffee," he said quickly, all but shoving his friend back onto the couch. He was aware of his mother setting a plate of warmed apples and bread on the counter, then exiting the cottage quickly. Erik sat, hanging his head and running his fingers through his blonde hair.
"Eileen…" he muttered.
"You've already gotten back at Johan. There's nothing more for you to do," he was hoping that the hangover from last night would carry on for a while longer and allow him to avoid the subject of King Waltar.
Erik accepted the mug of coffee, sitting back on the couch with an anguished look on his face. "I was going to marry her," he said. This was news to Japeth. He had thought the girl was just a loose woman Erik used every now and then.
"Erik. . ." he trailed off, not knowing what to say.
"Where is she?"
"What?" Japeth asked, confused.
"Where are they keeping Eileen?"
"Oh… at Hart's I suppose." Joseph Hart used his extra cabin as a funeral home of sorts, as it was a block away from the church. "My mother said her funeral would be held tomorrow."
Erik didn't say anything, just gulped the coffee. He rose when he finished, stumbled to the kitchen, and grabbed one of the apples. As he ate, some consciousness seemed to return to his face. He became less groggy and more like his normal self, though he was still grief stricken. "I'm sorry about last night, Japeth. I don't know what came over me, but thank you for stopping me from doing anything worse," he said finally, rising and walking sullenly toward the door.
"Erik, where are you going?" Japeth said warningly.
"I don't know for sure yet. Maybe to Hart's, maybe for a ride on my horse, maybe to the docks, I don't know," Erik replied. He looked calm yet determined, so Japeth let him go, knowing he had work that had to be done.
The docks were busier today than Arya had ever seen them. Everywhere burly sailors could be seen rolling barrels and heaving them aboard ships and officers in forest green coats could be seen barking orders. There was a crowd of men trying to load the cannon, swinging them aboard dangerously from a pulley made partially from the masts of the ships. Apparently her father hadn't made an appearance here yet nor ordered Johan to.
"Captain Ward!" She called out to the man directing the cannon-loading.
He gave a few orders to the men then hurried over to her, coattails flying. "Yes Ma'am?"
Jacob Ward had always been Arya's favorite. He was tall and sturdily built, with flecks of gray standing out against his dark hair at his temples. His daughter Ana treated Arya like an older sister, and Arya spent so much time with their family that it was always odd when Ward addressed her as Ma'am.
"Have you seen Erik at all?" She asked. He shook his head. "What about Johan or my father?" Again he shook his head.
"Johan hasn't been around since yesterday and your father not for a week or two. Erik I saw a few days ago, but not yet today, but his friend Japeth was here earlier saying to watch out for him if I saw him. Then I put him to work loading cannon," Ward grinned at this last remark, for Japeth and he had always had a teasing relationship and because Japeth was lower in rank, Ward could make a game out of putting him to work and get only words as hits in return.
"Thanks. How's the cannon-loading going?" Arya asked with a smirk. She knew Ward's motives well.
"Good enough I suppose. We should be done with the cannon and supplies tomorrow night if all goes well." After his last words, a rope broke and a cannon nearly fell into the water. Several men propped it up with their shoulders and arms, and Ward saluted and ran off to help them get another rope around it.
Mounting her horse again, Arya rode off again in search of her brother. Riding down a side street, she saw him emerging from Joseph Hart's house, shoulders distinctly sagging. "Erik!" She called.
He straightened right away and tried to plaster a normal expression on his face.
"What happened?" She asked, seeing his unsuccessful attempt.
"Eileen…." Was all Erik managed to say.
"Oh no… that's not…. Father didn't…!" The look of fury that crossed Erik's eyes was enough to assure her that she was right.
"Do you have room for me on those ships of yours still?" Arya wasn't sure how he had known that she would be commanding them, but she nodded her head.
"When do you sail?"
"I was hoping in two days," She said. "You know we're not going to pay tribute, do you not?"
"I didn't expect anything less, dear sister." Erik replied sarcastically. "But how are you planning on getting around father?"
"Early morning is convenient for many reasons- one, the tide, and two, our father will be lying in bed in a stupor, reeking of booze and whatever woman he had the night before." Neither replied to this for a while as it was not something they liked to think about.
"And Johan will no longer be a problem. I took care of him last night," Erik said grimly. He'll not be walking for a while, much less able to get to Father."
They talked for a little while longer, leading their horses and walking toward the castle all the time.
"Are you going to face father when we get back?" Erik asked as they were climbing on top of their horses once more.
"It's inevitable isn't it?" Arya paused. "Yes, I will. But he won't take it well."
"If worse comes to worse, we can get everyone on the ships tomorrow night, said out a little ways and anchor there before leaving in the morning." He wasn't entirely serious about this though, for none of the crewmen would be happy at having to spend a night pointlessly.
They took off at a gallop, both needing to blow off some anger before the confrontations they were soon to have.