The smell of the salty air encompassed her as she spun the helm of her ship. Eron had recently acquired the ship after a run of being a first mate for eight years. A job which she only landed by luck after saving the former captain's life. He was the only man outside her family that knew her true self, story, and had embraced her for it, along with her dreams.
All her life she had been stuck playing the game of nobility, a game that only had meaning if you drowned all your money, dreams, and time playing. She played the role of princess, without the title, in an attempt to please her mother. When the former captain James had offered her the opportunity to go into hiding under the identity of a man, she was eager to accept it. He understood her struggles, as a former nobleman himself, so he offered her a chance at her dreams. Along with a guarantee of no longer needing to disfigure her body in corsets or having to treat the lice from wigs. James was the dad she had always wished for hers to be. He proudly took the role as her father figure without a second thought when he first introduced her to his crew, all the while giving her the title of his first mate. The spot had been vacant from the previous first mate passing away not too long ago. They had a run in with pirates while trading off the east shores causing a blow to their supply and manpower. Eron accepted the title and learned everything she could from her adopted father. His passing left her the deed to the ship along with the sole responsibility of the men and their lives. James left her with big shoes to fill, but it was a challenge she welcomed with all of her heart. This crew were not only her crewmates but also her family.
James was an honorable man; he treated everyone as if they were family from the moment, he met them. It was for only a short term that Eron had the pleasure of knowing him. He had passed away in his sleep shortly after developing a cough that was laced with blood. A year prior to his death he began to lose a significant amount of weight, and by the time he died most of his bones were visible through his skin. Eron felt more devastated from the death of her Captain than when she received the news about her biological father's death. Despite the known persecution awaiting from her mother Eron did not return home. She set her mind on her future and left her old life behind.
With the wind picking up Eron's overgrown, golden-brown hair whipped in her face invading her train of thought. Untying her cravat from her neck she used it to tie what she could of her hair up. A few strands fell off to the side of her face; they were not long enough to tuck away with the rest. She deeply inhaled the fresh salty air and watched her crew as they worked the sails.
"Land ho, starboard." The barrelman who was tucked away up in the crow's nest shouted while pointing out at sea.
Eron turned her head to the right pulling out her monocular to search the horizon. "Land ho, set course and harden up." Eron shouted, she watched her crew as the men ran to their positions and carried out her new orders. "Alright men, we’re heading to shore to restock up on supplies."
"Aye, captain." The men shouted back. Men pulled on ropes adjusting the sails, beams shifted from one side to another, and Eron dropped the anchor for drag weight to slow down and turn to the land mass.
“I'll give you lot three days to stretch your legs!" Eron shouted to be heard above the noise. They cheered for their free time to drink and enjoy the flesh. There were a few additional rules to being on Eron's crew, and those were no; alcohol at sea, no sexual partners, not even among themselves, and betrayal to the captain and crew was the worst crime one could commit resulting in banishment or death depending on the severity of betrayal. Some of these extra rules left the men yearning for the next time they would dock.
"Rick!" Eron shouted to her first mate while scanning the deck.
"Captain?" he came up from behind her.
"Take the helm and drive her in." Eron let her first mate bring them to shore. It was a good chance to test him from what she has been teaching him so far, and she can enjoy watching the men as they grinned in anticipation. This is what made her happy, when they smiled and laughed about, Eron felt at peace.
"Sir?" Rick looked a little panicked. "Isn't this the helmsman's job?"
"You will do fine just steady the bow and stay on course." She reassured him. "You need to know this ship inside out in case anything happens to me."
Rick panicked from the pressure, but he was doing as she instructed and pulled the ship in with minor corrections and reminders. She slapped him on the back in congratulations when they made it near the shore. Because aligning with the pier was a trifling job, they used messenger lines and hawsers to pull the ship in.
"Three days, if you are not here on the third sunrise, I leave without you." Eron couldn't help but to nag the men as they waved her off in their rushing to enjoy their free time.
"Captain? Are you not joining them?" Rick asked, still standing behind her on the ship.
"No, I would only hold them back." She said hopping down to the pier.
"I don't understand sir?" Rick said, crossing his arms following closely. To them they were all family, how could their captain hold them back?
"If I were to join them, they wouldn't be able to enjoy themselves. They would be far too worried about me being there. However, you should go join them." Eron shooed him with her hand. She needed him to go away so she could indulge in her scarce feminine activities.
"Sir, I'm not handsome like you. I'm afraid no woman waits for Rick." Rick pouted a little, but still maintained his manly essence.
"True" Eron flashed her canines towards him in a devilish smile "but you have other qualities." She glanced down at his britches and patted him on his backside.
"Captain?" Rick was stunned by her actions, and at how handsome her face was when she sized him up. He always felt a little flustered by her flirty side.
"Be gone, see you in three days." Pushing Rick away. She set out on her own to find some cotton.
The streets were bustling with merchants selling items on both sides of the road. Some were tossing fish around to attract customers. Others had free samples, as women danced scantily around stalls offering special services.
"Fresh cotton, fresh cotton, finest cotton for all your sensitive needs." One merchant shouted.
"Perfect!" Eron said, heading towards the stall.
"Sir, are you interested in cotton for your wife?" The beautiful sales lady blushed standing beside her husband when Eron locked eyes with her.
"No." Eron said, feeling slightly annoyed with the question. She never got close to random people due to hiding her sex. It was better if people ignored her, but this couple looked interested in her, not even the husband hid the interest on his face, and that made her stomach turn in disgust.
After buying most of the cotton available Eron went looking for other items that she would need for her next journey. The wraps around her breasts were wearing thin with holes and falling apart, that would be her next stop. After that her hair needed a trim. She made a mental list of things she needed to do and went about accomplishing them one by one.
After she was all done with herself it was time to take care of her baby. She met with many merchants for her ship's supplies. One of the scantily dressed women approached her, she bent over pressing her breast against Eron’s arm, and whispered sweet promises in her ear for only a coin. Eron tossed her a coin and shooed her away expressing annoyance, but she felt compelled to give her the money anyway hoping that she would at least eat well tonight. Eron spent a good day depleting her silver on her ship and purchasing help for moving the supplies around. She didn't want her men to be troubled during their free time, so she used the dock laborers, they needed the work more than her people did.
It was the end of the day by the time she had finished getting everything in order and scheduled. The sunset had turned the skies to a vibrant orange with pink streaks along the clouds. She took in the beautiful scenery for a moment before continuing on. No matter how many times she has watched the sun rise and fall it never ceased to amaze her. After the colors faded into the darkness Eron was reminded by her grumbling stomach that what she needed right now was a good meal and a night's rest. As she walked along the shoreline, she saw a cozy inn overlooking the sea, and decided that would be the place she would relax for the next couple nights.
When Eron entered the inn, she knew this was the place to be. It was packed and everyone was having a good time drinking and laughing. The ceiling was high showing the second floor by an opening in the center surrounded by railing for the guests to look down below. The rooms were upstairs and spaced out equally from what she could see. After Eron finished looking around she approached the dining area and inhaled the sweet aroma of meat and wine.
Scanning the available seats, she saw a man sitting alone at a table made for eight to ten people. Everyone appeared to be avoiding the handsome man. They were taking secret glances at him but avoiding any direct eye contact. He didn't look all that intimidating to Eron. He had long dark blond hair, the kind of hair you could lose your fingers in. Half of it was pulled up in a bun and the rest flowing just past his shoulders. He had light stubble that covered his chin and jawline, and a strong build with defined features that were easily noticeable through his shirt. Eron sat at a table off to the side that had a great view so she could easily admire him, but far away enough that it wouldn't raise his suspicions. When his mouth curved up in a half smile, she could feel her body temperature rise a few degrees, that was the first time she felt a man could be dangerous for her.
"I'm a man." Eron whispered to herself as she clenched her knees tighter together. However, keeping her secret didn't mean she couldn't enjoy looking at men from a distance. She ordered a beer and steak to satisfy the needs she could meet. "Men do need to eat." She said, soothing herself. After she finished, she got up and ordered a room from the waitress.
While waiting for her key she overheard the handsome man ask another worker. "Do you know where I can sign up for crew work? I'm looking for a free passage, but I'll earn my keep."
Eron's ears perked up in excitement and decided to go for it. "You looking for a job?"
The man turned toward her and smiled. "Maybe, do you know a place?"
Eron gave a devilish smile that could turn anyone's head. "I happen to be a captain." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Would you like to sit and talk." Gesturing towards her old table with a nod of her head.
"You're a captain?" He asked, looking at her with a doubtful yet amused expression.
"Yes, brains over brawn.” Eron tapped her finger to her temple. “It would be wise to not insult me." Eron leaned her backside against the table. She was used to people doubting her by her first impressions. She was a dainty thing but toned where it mattered. Her body had some muscle from being a first mate for many years, along with the combat training James have been giving her. She proved herself to anyone who challenged or doubted her many times, and she was prepared to do the same now.
"Captain!" Rick saw her as he walked in the inn.
"Rick, perfect timing as always." Eron spoke, but never looked away from the man's face as she responded to her first mate.
"Alright, I suppose you are. I'm looking for free passage and willing to earn my keep through labor." He said as he sat down at the table.
Eron and Rick joined him and went through all her expectations of her crewmates. Making sure he could perform his duties before taking him in. After they came to an understanding Eron stood up holding out her hand. "What says you?"
"Aye, Captain!" He responded standing up to shake her hand.
"Name and allergies?" Eron pulled out her black book.
"John, and none." The stranger said.
"Alright, John welcome aboard." She jotted down some notes about him in her book, closed it, and headed off to her room.
Rick watched as John’s eyes lingered on the captain as she walked away. "No worries John, he is the best captain around. He really cares about his crew, and he won't throw you overboard too often." Rick said before he hurried after his captain.
"Wait, too often?" John asked, watching them as Rick hurried off after the captain.
"Just don't touch him and you should be fine." Rick shouted back.