It was clear from the look on the half-elf’s face that he thought she was a full blood. It almost made Aya smile. Almost.
"Good god, maybe we shouldn't have been so showy with our noble friend. At this rate, there's gonna be barely any gold in my share!"
Though the half-elf said it jokingly, and with a smile, his hand immediately went for the coin purse. So he would go for greed. To be fair, these were proper adventurers and this was how their livings were made. Was there really any shame in going simply for the paycheck? Was that any less honorable than making the trip for a single valuable artifact? Trying not to be too harsh a judge of character, Aya remained quiet.
The presences gathered beside and behind her. It was a shifting aura of darkness, and when Aya turned her head the sight that greeted her was far more disturbing than Shiny and Scary at the head of the table. This guy wasn’t even a skeleton: he was just a robe, just some clothes, with a disembodied voice and trying to look like a humanoid. Another undead… and this one disturbed her far more. The dread knight at least looked like he used to be human. This fellow, who approached the table and asked if there was room for one more, might have never been anything much at all.
”So is everybody sitting around us going to join? What shall we soon leave with an army of drunks?”
It was the human man who said this, the one who looked like a soldier from some lost nation. That was a more valuable question. Who was she, and who was this other newcomer made of shadow? What right did either have to call themselves an adventurer? That would be a man she’d stay close to when push came to shove.
He asked a question about logistics, and then the knight spoke again.
"Now, as our pretty minstrel says, I never uttered a word about using the money for everything you will need for the journey. I merely suggested you to fix up whatever you will need and to get the supplies that one cannot acquire on the long and dangerous roads. The coin I give is only a fraction of what you might need for a trip to the Icerim Mountains. By land that is....."
So Aya had been right about the purse. What horrified her was that this knight meant to go by boat across the Sea of Stars. That cut out a lot of her searching time. Still, there were other forests and cities they’d pass through, and each one of those places held a chance… a tiny hope… The undead knight gestured for her to sit down. It was strange to look at someone and not be able to tell if they were smiling or scowling. Though his body was most likely nothing but armor and skeleton, the body language was still very much readable and her trained ears could pick out the amusement in his voice.
"I hope your repertoire is current enough to include some tragic stories about people dying from seeing me. I have craved for some decent entertainment lately," he said as she settled into the vacant seat. Aya smiled a little, and nodded. She didn’t know his name, so there was no proper way to tell if she knew a song about him. If he craved entertainment, however, that she could most definitely provide.
“Now, before we do anything I would like to know everyone's name,” the knight continued, moving his empty gaze to the table’s other occupants.
“My name is Dread Captain Zoroff. This is my first mate, Daena. As for the budgeting, no need to worry about storage or lodging arrangements, such as tents and pack mules. Daena and I can hold as much equipment as you can buy, and have better housing than a sleeping bag.”
Aya looked at the pirate with a small twist of her lips and wondered if he’d given himself the title ‘dread’ or if someone had actually called him that. He’d not acknowledged Aya, though she’d spoken to him directly, and more boasted about what good equipment he already had.
Her attention returned to the undead, singular.
“I am Lithaya,” the nearly-elf said softly, “but most call me Aya.”
She did not reach out to take any of the coins. Her hands were, instead, folded in her lap.