10. A Big Misunderstanding

Chapter 10

A Big Misunderstanding

            At Port Jontina in Gominta, Satel and Rutan sat with me at the local tavern to eat. It wasn’t often we had dinner together, since the captain’s table at The Cruel Whore was only big enough for one. Also, because of Satel’s diet, he usually had to find his food elsewhere.

That meant that most of the time I ate alone at dinner, and it made me miss the dinners Satel and I’d had with the Xanaturi clan. I never thought I would enjoy sitting at a near crowded table surrounded by family, but I did. There was something cozy about it, I guess.

I wasn’t sure if it were ‘sad’ or ‘human’ of me, but I guess the vile Lord of the Sea liked to have a family dinner once in a while.

“Hey Satel, do ye know anythin’ ‘bout Tiata’s priestess?” I asked, almost out of the blue as I cracked into another claw of lobster. It’s been on my mind ever since docking, but I’ve been wondering if there was some way to communicate with the goddess- and the only sure way I knew of was to contact her sea dragon priestess.

“No, but if all priestesses are like their goddess, then I can’t imagine her being anymore pleasant than Cyirlie,” he replied, earning a shudder from Rutan at the mention of our dragon priestess. Though Pappy seemed to get on reasonably well with Cyirlie – more so than the rest of us – Rutan, as a child, feared the overgrown lizard.

“An’ ah suppose she won’t have any remorse in strikin’ me should ah want ta talk ta her,” I pointed out in resignation, almost ready to dismiss the thought as impossible.

“Why would you want to?” my mate asked, both curious and concerned.

“Oh, Tiata weakened me a little fer that stunt we pulled earlier- wot ah did wasn’t out o’ the bounds o’ a regular pirate, an’ the magicks used were only fer an advantage,” I said before taking a bite of the sweet meats of the sea critter. After I slurped up the stringy muscles and finished chewing, I smirked and added sarcastically, “Call me crazy, but ah get the feelin’ she doesn’t trust me.”

“No,” Satel whispered conspiratorially while holding back a sarcastic look of his own. “Why in five hells would anyone have reason not to trust you, my sirsa?”

“An’ why do ye have ta say it like that?” I countered, not sure if I liked what he was indicating with that. Yes, I was a pirate and evil menace to all, but was Satel talking of others, or what he personally felt? I’d hate to think he didn’t trust me.

“‘Cause yer the scourge o’ the five seas an’ destroy e’erythin’ ye touch,” Rutan answered in his place, sounding as though he was reciting something he was taught to say. He didn’t seem serious with his words, as he was preoccupied with pretending his fork and knife were cannon balls attacking his meal, rather than focusing his energy in paying full attention to the conversation.

Satel chuckled at the response, but denied any responsibility in being behind that remark. But he did put down his salad fork long enough to hold my hand and reassure me, “No matter what other humans, gods, and dragons may think of you, I still trust you with my life.”

That made me feel better, though I was still annoyed that he seemed to deliberately play me like that. I pulled my hand away, though I didn’t do so quickly or act hostile, and made sure that he could tell my ire was an act.

“Spare me,” I muttered before I went back to the subject of the conversation. “Anyway, ah get the feelin’ that Tiata doesn’t know me real intentions- she might be assumin’ that ah’m tryin’ ta conquer kingdoms an’ the like an’ jumps the gun wit’ her punishments. Maybe if ah can somehow communicate wit’ her, then mebbe ah can negotiate wit’ her.”

“Hmm… You might have a point, but if this could be done, you would think your father would’ve thought of it, too,” the blond pointed out, causing me to pause for a second.

In the past, Pappy – or even a grown Rutan – usually had their powers stifled while on Tiata and Naia. I doubt the goddess was giving me any special consideration because I was a woman, so they likely had the same ‘do something wrong and I’ll punish you’ deal. Wouldn’t surprise me any if they had done one massive raid along with flooding a few cities before losing them.

“Well, ah ain’t Pappy, an’ last time ah checked, he wasn’t the type ta negotiate wit’ those he don’t agree wit’. It’s likely the thought ne’er crossed his mind- or he was too proud ta try,” I said with a fond smile.

Rutan proved that he was only paying half attention by making a quiet boom noise as his fork hit his vegetables and then commented absentmindedly, “That’s ‘cause he gets all the lasses an’ takes no prisoners.”

Yeah, that had nothing to do with what we were talking about, but it was cute to a certain degree. He was definitely repeating what he’d heard, and I was certain he didn’t understand what that meant. I wasn’t upset with what I’d heard since it technically was true- and the boy was only talking about himself without realizing it. Besides, there were worse things he could repeat.

Satel chuckled as I shook my head and smiled. “That may be true, lad, but we’re talkin’ ‘bout a man who was ‘round before ye were. How do ye know it’s true?” I asked, willfully shoving the conundrum of reincarnations and partial memories to the back of my mind with the old ‘knowledge’ I had inherited many decades ago. I’d only run myself into circles into theorizing how much the boy should remember of his previous lives.

“Hammer told me,” he replied before shoving a great big bite of greens into his mouth. As a parent, I was proud to see him willingly eat his vegetables- he actually liked most of them, though his words were ‘anything but seaweed’.

Finding out that the little ‘statement’ came from Hammer wasn’t too surprising. Come to think of it, the boatswain had been a member of the crew for almost fourteen years- he would know the previous Rutan.

“That so?” I muttered, dropping the subject for now. Hammer wasn’t a real threat, so I didn’t need to worry about him poisoning Rutan’s mind.

The table quieted down long enough for Satel to take a few more bites of his salad before he decided to propose a plan of his own, regarding the priestess of Tiata. “If you think negotiations can be made through the dragon, then tell me what you want to say and I’ll relay it for you,” he offered, eyes glancing over to meet mine.

“Ah appreciate the help, but would she be any nicer to ye? I know yer not in the same position as me, but ah doubt they’ll take kindly ta any agents o’ mine,” I responded, declining him nicely.

Ordinarily I would rely on him for something like this, but the risk was a little greater than what he normally dealt with. Dragons were more powerful than falucite- and despite his growth, I couldn’t imagine him having any easier of a time handling one. Cyirlie was bad enough.

“Perhaps not, but I’ve been negotiating on your behalf for quite some time- doesn’t matter if they’re my fellow kinsman or dragons. I’m sure I can manage, and if not, then I can easily get out of harms way,” he told me confidently as he twirled the end of his fork in the air.

That was true, but I was still wary of the idea of sending him- call it intuition, but I didn’t think it was a good idea at all. Given his recent track record, he might end up making things worse with Tiata and could get me kicked out of her waters. Though I wasn’t being fair, as his last bout was with the Fodaren clan, but I was a little concerned that he was having a hard time keeping calm, based on his own story. There was no denying that he’d been having… anger issues lately.

I didn’t realize I was making a face until Satel frowned and called me out on it. “Why are you giving me that look? Are you saying you don’t trust me?” he inquired, sounding irritated. That was rich- just moments ago I was getting worried that he didn’t trust me. Why couldn’t he assume that I might’ve been toying with him like he did to me earlier?

“It’s not ‘bout whether ah trust ye or not- ah jus’ can’t stand the thought o’ sendin’ ye ta somewhere dangerous to attempt something ah ain’t even sure ‘bout. Somethin’ could go wrong that might place ye in danger, or make the goddess angry enough wit’ me ta take away me powers. Ye might have an exit strategy fer the first point, but ah need one planned fer the latter,” I said, hoping to appease him.

I was already tip-toeing around him when he got angry with others, but I never had to be the target of his negative mood swings yet. I just wished I knew what was causing this behavior, or at least who to turn to in order to ask about it. If only I could reach Didra- she’d probably know what was going on with him, and how to fix it. But that was assuming that Satel was somehow ill…

“And why do you instantly think I will fail? Do you think me so incompetent that I can’t so much as relay a simple message?” my mate continued tersely, completely ignoring my concerns about his safety. I didn’t understand why he was turning on me all of a sudden. I knew he was sensitive when it came to someone questioning his abilities, but why did he assume I was attacking him?

“O’ course not!” I denied instantly, shaking my head. “Ye know ah like ta think ahead on e’ery possibility- fer all we know, Tiata an’ her priestess don’t want ta listen ta ye an’ won’t give ye a chance. If somethin’ bad does happen, it’ll probably not even be yer fault- ah understand that,” I clarified, feeling a little hurt that I had to explain myself.

Somehow I knew that this wasn’t really an issue of trust, but a giant misunderstanding- possibly on both ends. If I could just get him to understand why I was concerned without offending him, then maybe he’d stop these notions that I was treating him like a falcie- though I still had no clue as to why that was bothering him so much lately.

I didn’t like how he didn’t seem convinced, even though what I said was the truth. Though Satel wanted to be an adult, he ended up sulking like a child by slouching in his seat and lowering his head enough so that the brim of his über hat covered his eyes. “Would you feel better if I asked Cegil to go instead?” he asked sullenly, like he had been defeated.

But I wasn’t going to fall for that. I knew he was just testing me to see how I would respond and reveal the real reason why I was against his going. Not that I was lying to him (yet), but he could easily tell there was something I wasn’t saying to him. But if I came out and told him the full truth, it would sound like that I was really doubting his abilities.

“Sendin’ him wouldn’t make any difference- he’d still be in danger, and have the same chance o’ failure,” I responded, though I had to inwardly admit that he would be able to handle the pressure better than Satel right now. Cegil was a patient man who knew exactly how to diffuse other people’s anger and make them see reason.

Even admitting that to myself sounded as though I was doubting Satel, but I really did have a deep rooted fear in regards to him. To hell with success or failure- I just didn’t want him to get hurt or worse over nothing. He may have his moments of tactical retreating, but this wasn’t the kind of job he could run away from- if the goddess was angry, she could find him anywhere on her waters.

It was at that moment when my eyes caught sight of poor Rutan, who was looking very uncomfortable with the conversation. We weren’t raising our voices, but the tones still implied an argument was going on and the boy didn’t like where it was heading. Who could blame him? No child wanted to be witness to discord between their parents. He didn’t understand the cause anymore than I did, and, should Satel ever snap at him, he might think it was his fault somehow.

I held up my hand to prevent my mate from saying anything else before I turned to our son and glanced at his plate. He wasn’t completely done, but if this kept up, he probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite. I reached into my pouch and pulled out a small bag of money before I set it down before him.

“Why don’t ye go find Rohje an’ then buy somethin’ nice fer yerself- but don’t steal anythin’. This town’s been good ta us,” I told him while giving him a reassuring nod.

For once the boy didn’t cheer or show his thanks with a hug. He just nodded his head as he reached out for the bundle and then practically ran out with his head ducked down. His actions spoke volumes- we scared him and put him out of his comfort zone. It was wrong of us to do that to him- I decided then that once I fixed things up with Satel, we needed spend some time with him to restore his sense of security.

When I slowly turned back to the blond man, I caught a glimpse of him appearing guilty before he hid it. At least he didn’t mean to make Rutan feel bad either, but he didn’t want to lose in this stupid argument either- I just wished he didn’t think it was one.

“Satel, ye were sentenced ta death by a goddess once, an’ ah don’t want that ta happen again. If that extreme risk wasn’t there, ah know ye’d find a way ta get them ta see reason, no matter how difficult they are- ah have no doubts o’ that,” I said, conveying what was really concerning me about his going. No matter how many years pass and how many victories he’d seen, I’ll always remember that terrifying moment when he almost died because of Cyirlie’s venom.

“‘Tia…” he muttered softly while he gazed at me sympathetically. I thought I might’ve gotten through to him and dashed all thoughts that I didn’t believe in him, but it seemed he was reading between the lines of my words, even though I didn’t have any hidden meaning in them.

But at least he wasn’t as angry as he held my hand again and tried to give me a stern look. “That happened years ago, and I won’t make the same mistakes again. You don’t need to worry about me- I’m not a falcie anymore.”

“Ah didn’t say that ye were,” I replied harshly, getting frustrated that he couldn’t get that idiotic notion of being call a ‘kid’ out of his head. Why was it so important for him to be considered an adult by everyone anyway? What did it even matter?

“You don’t have to say it. You’re treating me like Rutan- you’re babying us both and trying to protect us from the dangers of life,” he argued, his voice even and firm, like he was trying to get me to see reason.

“No ah ain’t!” I yelled, offended that he would say such a thing. “Ah ain’t holdin’ Rutan back- ah’m preparin’ him fer the future, an’ ah know someday ah’ll have ta let him go an’ be a pirate on his own. But no matter how old he gets or how great a pirate he becomes, ah’ll always worry ‘bout his well-being, an’ ah’ll always feel the same way ‘bout ye.”

This wasn’t the first time Satel commented about my parenting on this Rutan- I was rather lenient with the first one because I didn’t know any better. Yes, I was being a little more protective this time around because of how I felt about his last death, but I long since accepted that he’d been pirating and fighting for over four thousand years. All I wanted to do was make sure he was safe and ready for when it was time for him to regain his memories.

How dare Satel insinuate that I was babying that boy- and him! As if I had been holding his hand this entire time- he was the one who went off to do as he pleased, and I supported him all the way.

Once again I pulled my hand away from his, this time with some fire, and sat back in my chair with my arms crossed. I willed myself to cool down a little, but I couldn’t stop from retorting, “Yer way off base wit’ wot ah’m thinkin’ an’ if yer jus’ gonna insult me, then ah’m done explainin’ meself. Forget ah said anythin’- it was a mistake ta bring it up.”

Damn it, I wanted to be supportive despite his moods, but he could only push me so far before I might snap back at him. It was easier when other people were his targets- but he can’t expect me to take his crap without a fight if it’s going to be aimed at me. I was his mate, not some human pet for him to kick around.

We were both silent for a while as he quickly, but elegantly finished up his salad. Satel was still brooding, and seemed annoyed, but he wasn’t trying to pick a fight anymore. By the time he was done, I was cooled off and ready to apologize and try reasoning with him again, but he slammed down enough money to pay for our meals and then stood up.

He had a stormy look on his face as he walked to stand beside me and muttered lowly, “I’m going to go check up on Savage and his crew.” He then disappeared on me, leaving me alone to my thoughts.

His leaving before resolving anything put me back into a foul mood and I was highly tempted to flip over the table to vent my frustrations. But, thankfully, I was too mature and in better control of myself to let it happen. Had I been younger, I’d have probably started a riot within the tavern by now.

Instead, I waited for the other captains to finish and called them over for a meeting to discuss the next route.

I didn’t know that that was the last time I would see Satel for days. Random as it was, I didn’t think our argument was that serious.

********************

The following days since our stay in Port Jontina found me no less of a pirate, but much less of a captain. When people could get me to talk, I was just as tough sounding and strong as any sea dog, but I was mostly quiet on the ship. I barely issued an order after choosing our course, leaving Rohje in full command for the time being.

I was initially furious with Satel for leaving as he had done without so much as a warning that he would be gone for so long. My only news about him came from Rohje and Rutan, who happened to have been the last to see him.

The blond bastard at least reported to Rohje that Savage and most Naians have returned to their waters and were continuing their usual business. He was waiting for any news of attacks – random or post raid – and he will likely be monitoring Savage’s ship after he can visit the place they had been stealing weapons.

But what abated my anger some was when he apologized to Rutan for what had happened at the tavern and explained to him that it wasn’t the boy’s fault and that we’ll get over our problems eventually. Satel helped me out greatly by explaining to the boy that couples can get into fights all of the time and not to worry about it, or try to fix anything. I felt better learning from Rutan that he wasn’t going to ‘leave me’ – as the poor boy was worried about – and that he wanted to make up with me when he was done with his business.

So why could he be the model father to Rutan and yet act like a brat to me over a stupid misunderstanding? He seemed to take great offense to being treated like a falcie now, but then he expects to be treated as an adult when he acted like one. He was becoming such a contradiction that I felt like I was mated to a mermaid- and he was giving me a headache like one, too.

As the days wore on, my ire faded and was replaced with worry. It wasn’t like Satel to avoid me for so long, and I knew that was what he was doing. Even if he was ‘busy’, Naia was in a different time zone- he could easily come back when they were resting. Also, he needed to sleep sometime and yet I never caught him in bed- day or night.

I did catch him once in the early morning, standing at the end of our bed and watching me, but he vanished before I could fully get up and acknowledge him. It was apparent that he missed me just as much as I missed him, but his damned pride or wounded ego was keeping him away.

In the end, all I could do was wait for him to get over himself and come back to talk it out- all while praying that he was safe wherever he was. I didn’t doubt that he was helping the pirates in the Sea of Naia, but I had a dreadful feeling that he was also looking into my suggestion of contacting Tiata’s priestess. I wasn’t sure how far he’d go, but if he did want to reach the enclave, then he would have to sail there by himself- he’d never been there before, so he couldn’t teleport.

After some heavy thinking in his absence – and a realization that I could think better with him not distracting me – I discovered that I relied too heavily on my powers when I was perfectly capable of being an average pirate. If I lost them, then I’d still be able to take care of myself- the only drawback would be that I couldn’t protect my men like usual. But they weren’t weak either, so they should be fine.

However, I did need my magicks to disable major cities with advanced weaponry. If I only had one shot before I was a powerless pirate, then I decided to at least take down one of the largest port cities in Kotija- Grand Zuan. Originally I wanted to aim for three so the entire sea’s distribution would be slowed, but Grand Zuan was a major production port, and its fall would at least open up most of the east side of Kotija for pirates.

After that, small raids on other ships should be easy enough without magicks- so long as the captains stay with me until I’m close enough to the border for the Sea of Anatil. Attacking in groups minimized the damage on ships and crew, but there was no way in five hells I was going to tell them why I needed them around. Outside of my own crew, no one knew the real reason I hated sailing in Tiata and Naia. If they did, they would think it a sign of weakness and try to take advantage of it.

Thankfully, I wouldn’t really be defenseless if it did happen- all because I might not have magicks didn’t mean the mermaids and other sea creatures would stop protecting Rutan and I. If I couldn’t rely on Satel, then they were my last line of defense.

…And damn it, my thoughts went back to him again!

I winced a little as I tried not think about his face or how cold my bed had been lately. After spending so much time with him, it was awful to be parted from him. Before my depression could hit me again, I forced myself to focus ahead and gripped the spoke of the wheel a little tighter.

Since the target was far off, we still had roughly two weeks before we reached Grand Zuan- the sooner the better. The only thing that can cure me of my loneliness was active work. All this standing around at the helm was giving me too much thinking time. Ordinarily a good conversation with someone might distract me, but somehow his name came up and I receded back into my quiet state.

Thanks to that everyone, including Rutan, decided to give me a wide berth, thinking that giving me that space would help me somehow. Though I wasn’t sure if anyone had told Rutan to keep his distance, or if he sensed it on his own.

He did seem to be curious and confused about my behavior, and, finally, couldn’t hold back his question anymore. But instead of coming to me, I saw him get Rohje’s attention quietly by yanking at his shirt.

“Why is Ma so quiet an’ sad lookin’?” he asked the quartermaster, trying to whisper. Despite their best attempts, I could hear both clearly, but I didn’t turn my head to indicate it. Perhaps if they wanted the conversation to be truly away from me, then they should leave the quarterdeck…

“It’s cause the capt’n is missin’ her other half,” the frizzy haired teen replied in a soft voice.

“Her other half?” Rutan repeated in confusion. “Wot other half?”

“That’d be yer pappy,” he said knowingly before he went on to add, “‘Cause they love each other so much, bein’ apart makes them miserable an’ bein’ together makes them happy.”

That was a… simple way of putting it. For a moment I was expecting something deep to come out of that ‘other half’ part, but I suppose there was no need to make it complicated for the boy. It was information that an eight year old had no use for- all he cared about was that his parents were not happy.

“But ah don’t get it- how is Ma an’ Pappy two halves? Ah thought they were… ‘full’ people?” the boy inquired, unable to find the right word to express his question.

“It’s jus’ a way ta describe couples. They say that when ye love someone as much as yer Ma an’ Pappy love each other, ye can’t live wit’out them, but that’s-” Rohje was cut off when he words made Rutan go into panic mode.

“Is Ma gonna die if Pappy doesn’t come back!?” the boy shouted, very scared of the idea. Once again, he seemed to forget I was there, and didn’t even notice when I turned my head to raise an eyebrow. My quartermaster let out a blush when he realized they had my attention.

It was cute and sweet that my son was concerned, but I wished he would let others finish their sentences so he didn’t jump to conclusions. I had a feeling the teen was about to tell him that that rumor was complete kwiad rue. Sure, I missed having Satel around, but it wasn’t like I was going to kill myself if I was never going to see him again. Perhaps I would’ve in the past, back before I had a crew and a child depending on me, but certainly not anymore. Ugh, I didn’t want to think about this…

“Capt’n’s too strong ta give up like that, so don’t worry. Besides, yer pappy will come back, an’ when he does, yer ma will be right as rain again,” he reassured Rutan, still very aware that I was staring at them blankly.

I almost wanted to argue with that point, but, overall, Rohje was right. Even if Satel came back just to start another fight, I would still be happy to see him. Hell, I was even happy for those few seconds I managed to catch a glimpse of him the other night. Now whether that happiness was going to stick around once he opened his mouth was another matter entirely.

“Ah hope Pappy comes home soon,” Rutan commented sincerely, staring down at the floor boards. I was tempted to mutter ‘I hope so too’, but the boy’s face suddenly twisted in disgust and horror as he realized something and turned back to Rohje. “Ah ain’t gonna act like this when ah grow up, am ah?”

The quartermaster let out a short bark of laughter before responding, “Ye can always pray ta Elit that ye don’t!”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it, lad. If ye don’t want ta be in a relationship, then ye don’t have ta. Love is a choice that happens if it happens, an’ ye can still be happy wit’out it,” I told him, before Rohje could accidentally ruin his thinking. The young lad was only one of many who had a terrible misconception about humanity and notions of love.

Of all of Pappy’s wisdom, there was one thing I found very true: marry only for companionship and never for love. That wasn’t to say that it was wrong to be in love, but that one should really understand what love is before proclaiming that they’re feeling it. More often than not ‘companionship’ was the true form of love while the form that average people felt was just physical attraction, or an exploration of their feelings in general.

If by some miracle this incarnation of Rutan should think he’s in love (as it didn’t happen the last time), then I didn’t want him to be using his ‘second head’ to do the thinking for him. I was fairly certain that was what Rohje was teasing about just then- Rutan may think girls were icky now, but puberty would hit him someday, and I didn’t want him to think that getting aroused was all that was needed to qualify for love.

Actually, come to think of it, this was probably something Hammer and I agreed on- even he knew better than to fall in love with the pretty girls he’d sleep with. But it was still wrong of him to lead them on and play with their emotions. Dumbass jerk.

“But don’t get me wrong,” I continued before Rohje could comment about how jaded I was, “Ah can be happy wit’out Satel ‘round- ah’m jus’ upset o’er the reason he left. It don’t feel good ta have unfinished business.”

If we didn’t have that fight, or have talked out our issues before he left, then I wouldn’t be feeling this way.

“Hmph, are you sure you’re not upset because I left without your permission? Or is it more that you were worried I was going to do something you would consider foolish?” a voice said in a sneer, causing me to wince.

Of all times for Satel to finally come home… He had to appear just when I said something that could be taken out of context. Without the prior conversation of missing my mate and being so ‘lovesick’ that I could die without him, my words could sound as though I was glad to have him gone. And, of course, in the irritable state he was in, he was definitely going to think that anyway.

I saw Rohje wince from the corner of my eye. “Uh, yeah- Rutan an’ ah will be on the main deck,” he announced awkwardly, wanting to escape the tense situation quickly. He then pulled the boy alongside him and asked, “Didn’t ye have a stunt ye wanted ta show me?”

“But wot ‘bout Pappy? Innit e’erythin’ okay now that he’s back?” the brown haired child inquired in a confused tone, not understanding why his pappy seemed to be upset.

“Give it an’ hour. Yer parents still have a lot ta talk ‘bout first,” my quartermaster replied, voice fading as they headed down to the main deck.

On one hand, I was glad he pulled Rutan out of here before things got ugly. But on the other, I wished he took the wheel so I could take Satel back to the cabin and give him a hug… if he’d let me. Despite his arriving at a bad time, I was once again glad to see him- and he appeared just fine, ignoring that scowl.

“Satel, ah-” I began as I turned to him, keeping one hand on the wheel. Oh how I wanted to run up to him right then.

But my mate was on a mission and didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. He stopped me with a dismissive wave and muttered, “Savage raided a fishing village yesterday and I’m waiting to hear any reports of an attack. If they have any, then stealing cannons wasn’t the reason.”

He’d been gone for almost five days and the first thing he wanted to do was give a report!? No offense to Savage and the other Naians, but who in the five hells cared? Not that he was weak enough to be hurt that easily, but I had been worried sick about him! Who knew what he could’ve done while in a foul mood?

“Alright, but-” I pressed, wanting to at least address what he’d overheard me say and explain it, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Also, I reached the enclave of Tiata’s priestess today. I relayed our concerns and she discussed it with the goddess. Tiata is now allowing you to raid up to three cities only, and no attacking other vessels unless defending yourself. She won’t mess with your magicks as long as you agree to that,” he announced as he stepped closer to me. He then leaned forward so that his nose hovered just over mine, his expression showing contempt and superiority. “I told you I could do it.”

I was stunned he would even look at me like that. Since when did I suddenly become his enemy? Why did he even have to prove anything to me? I should be focusing on the fact that he managed to fix everything and took away my worries about being in Tiata, but my newfound privileges meant nothing to me if I lost my mate in the exchange.

“Why are ye actin’ like an idiot?” I growled, refusing to cower. If he was going to press me for an apology, then he certainly wasn’t getting one now. Apparently I needed to pull his head out of his ass first before I even try to explain anything to him.

“What?” he hissed, not expecting my retort.

“Since when did ah ever doubt ye? O’ course ye got the job done- ye always find a way. Ah was jus’ concerned the goddess wouldn’t agree wit’ ye. It don’t help that ah have a memory that ye were almost killed facin’ a similar bein’, so ah’ll always have that fear no matter wot ye do. But ye know wot? Even wit’ that fear, ah’ll always support wotever ye do. Ah should deck ye fer forgettin’ that,” I finished, keeping my eyes on him.

Though I was a little angry, I didn’t raise my voice or let go of the helm. I kept my stance firm and made sure to maintain eye contact so he would know how serious I was. I knew I got through to him when a flash of guilt came to his rust colored eyes and he looked away from me. He opened his mouth a few times- I wasn’t sure if he was attempting to justify his emotions or apologize, but he just couldn’t get any coherent words to form.

He soon shook his head and gazed up at me tiredly. “I’m sorry ‘Tia-dear, I haven’t been able to sleep much lately and I’m too tired to discuss anything. I’m going to take a nap,” he mumbled before he teleported away. I snorted as I wondered if that was a ‘tactical retreat’, too. Now that he knew he was wrong, he didn’t know what to say to me.

Though… perhaps not everything was resolved yet. I didn’t exactly thank him for doing something so extremely helpful, though it was hard to fit that in with my reminding him that my concerns were out of love, not criticism. Maybe he couldn’t say sorry when he didn’t get the warm welcome back he deserved sat in his mind. Though, he might honestly couldn’t think straight if he was truly tired.

I wanted to let him get that rest, but I also knew that if I didn’t go to him now and finish resolving the problem, his mind might turn against him and make him even more argumentative later.

…Besides, I missed him, and I hadn’t been sleeping well either. I would like to take the opportunity to nap with him again- it might help relax me enough to finally catch up on my sleep.

Despite Rohje leading Rutan away, I knew I wasn’t completely alone on the quarterdeck. I could hear whispers near the stairwells that indicated other members of the crew were trying to eavesdrop and see what would happen. That could’ve been another reason why Satel retreated- he didn’t want our issues to be a spectacle for others amusement.

Though I do question if they were listening in for entertainment- there was a genuine chance that they were worried of what might happen. After all, a raging falucite could sink the ship- or a raging woman with magicks could torture her crew. Or, I might be rendered near useless again through depression. All possibilities weren’t good for them.

But there was one good thing about them hanging around: I didn’t have to look far for someone to take over the helm. “Hammer, take o’er, ah need ta rest in me cabin,” I ordered in a determined voice.

He happened to be the first in the ‘line’ that formed near the wall of the stairway, and he quickly stood up at my command. He appeared visibly shocked, either from the first order I had made in days, or the fact that I knew he was there. But he soon saluted and headed for the wheel as he replied, “Aye, aye, Capt’n.”

I walked with dignity as I passed the others and pushed through any who were in my way to the corridor under the quarterdeck. I found Rutan and Rohje standing at the mouth of it, the child appearing hopeful and concerned as he waited for any news. I managed a warm smile for him before I rubbed his head and passed by him. While I couldn’t say anything to him yet, I didn’t want to alarm him and make him think I was about to go have another war with his pappy.

I actually believed everything would be better within the hour.

When I entered the cabin, the first thing I checked was to see if Satel was truly there. He was- he was on what was deemed ‘my side’ of the bed, laying on his side with his back facing me. Satisfied, I locked the door behind me and then placed my hat and bandanna on the pegs next to his über hat. I then took off my boots and left them next to his shoes before heading towards the bed.

“I’m tired,” he muttered instantly at my approach.

“So am ah,” I retorted as I knelt down to pull the trunk from under the bed. I was planning to put on some nightclothes before getting in. “But we need ta talk before we sleep. Ah want the air cleared.”

“There’s nothing to talk about-” he started to say, but I was having none of that.

“Ah ain’t apologizing fer caring about you, nor am ah sorry fer wantin’ ye ta stay alive an’ be wit’ me longer. But ah am sorry fer hurtin’ ye an’ not makin’ meself clear,” I said as I removed my bodice and skirt.

I paused a moment to see what Satel’s reaction would be to that, but all he did was shake his head and sigh. I was then stunned to hear him reply, “That’s not why I’m upset. I did think for a moment that you didn’t believe in me before – not that I understood why I thought that in hindsight – but what hurt me most was that you thought that I was so weak.”

My fingers froze at my buttons as my head whipped up to stare at him again. I could barely recall my exact words that day when we argued, but I didn’t think I was hinting that he was weak. He wasn’t weak at all- I thought he was one of the strongest people I knew.

“Don’t deny it, ‘Tia-dear- you said it yourself that you can’t help but think of the time I faced Cyirlie,” he continued, his tone taking on more grief and venom. “I was younger then, you know. But I’m stronger and better now, so you shouldn’t even have to worry about the past. Besides, you weren’t with me when I faced Tiata’s priestess, so I could focus completely on myself without having to worry about your protection.”

So I completely misunderstood what his issue was. I didn’t think that relaying my fears would translate into my thinking he was incapable of protecting me- I was only trying to get him to understand why I spoke out against his going.

“Oh Satel,” I muttered fondly, glad to know what was really going on. I then finished undressing and pulled on a short see-through nightgown that was made of a soft red material- it was one of his favorites to see me in. “Ye still misunderstand wot I was tryin’ ta say. Ah look ta ye fer protection when ah might be rendered powerless- ah wouldn’t trust ye fer that if ah believed ye were weak. Ah could’ve said that yer leavin’ ta see her would leave me defenseless should somethin’ happen, but then it would sound like ah’m jus’ usin’ ye when that’s not it at all.”

I then pulled back the blankets and climbed in. He still wouldn’t face me, but I was fine with that. I just closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around his torso and rested my forehead on his upper back. He didn’t move or tense up from the contact, but he did eventually move his hands, almost hesitantly, to cover mine. I was glad he did so, even though I wasn’t finished explaining my position yet.

“Ye know, Rutan’s been around for more than four thousand years, fightin’, dyin’, an’ bein’ reborn, but when he died eight years ago, all ah saw was me pappy’s beheadin’ all o’er again. An’ ah do fear seein’ it again when this Rutan’s time comes, but ah know there’s nothin’ ah can do ‘bout it, an’ ah can’t stop him from bein’ wot he is- jus’ like how ah can’t stop ye from doin’ wot ye want.”

“But I’m not Rutan- he’s a nice human and all, but don’t compare me to him,” he muttered evenly, trying not to sound offended or angry. Actually, maybe that was the root of it all- he had to insult me shortly after I made a similar comment before. He wasn’t criticizing my parenting- he was worried that I was viewing him as I did Rutan.

“Ah hold no delusions that ye are him,” I responded immediately before I brought up an indisputable point, “Yer far more precious ta me. Because unlike the boy, if ye die that’s it- ah’ll probably ne’er see ye again.”

Sure, I worried about Rutan a lot, but I only wanted him to reach adulthood. But Satel… I never wanted to think about the possibility of his death until we were both old and withered. I wanted to enjoy a full life with him because, as much as it hurt me, I won’t be with him in the next. I’ll go back to being Pappy’s little girl for the rest of eternity.

When that sunk in, the blond let out a surprised grunt before his body tensed. “…I…I didn’t think about that,” he admitted quietly, relaxing his body against mine.

“Ye shouldn’t need ta. Ah don’t want ye ta stop wot yer doin’ if it makes ye happy an’ fulfilled. Ah jus’ want ye ta accept that no matter how strong ye get, ah’m always goin’ ta worry, but ah’ll support ye ta the end. Don’t let this – or me – stop ye from obtainin’ yer dreams,” I told him, hoping that the mention of his mortality wouldn’t depress him.

I still didn’t know what to feel about my immortality since I’d yet to remember my past lives, but knowing what will become of me when I finally reach the end of this life gave me comfort. But as for Satel, he was just becoming an adult and his kind lived up to one thousand years. He was nowhere near the time he needed to worry about that stuff, and I didn’t want it to affect his thinking. I already felt like an ass for bringing it up, but at least I got him to understand what I’ve been worrying about this whole time.

But he proved that the falucite state of mind didn’t seem to concern itself with mortality as he focused more on realizing his faults. “I’m sorry for what I’ve said- I wasn’t thinking straight. I should know that you of all people believe in me, and yet I foolishly snapped at you,” he muttered almost rapidly as he squeezed my hands tightly, “I know you don’t accept apologies too soon, but I hope you’ll forgive me. I didn’t like being mad at you, and it hurt a lot to be away from you. I don’t want this to happen again if it can be helped.”

I could just tell him that there was nothing to apologize for and start over, but a prideful side of myself kept quiet and let him talk. I’ve already said I was sorry for some of the things that came out of my mouth, so he should make it even because he was equally to blame. Hey, it was only fair…

“Enough time has passed fer me ta forgive ye, so it’s alright. We’ll prob’bly always have an argument come up once in a while, so there’s no point in frettin’ ‘bout it. We always find a way ta forgive and forget eventually- an’ we’re still together after all this time,” I commented wryly before I smiled and snuggled closer to him.

For a long while there had been a strange knotting sensation in my belly that made me sick to my stomach, but now it was finally fading away. It must’ve been because I had been so worried about that blond bastard and now I was certain that everything was alright between us.

“Satel?” I called out as his body completely relaxed and he brought one of my hands to his lips. “Ah didn’t get ta say it before, but thank ye for wot ye’d done in regards ta Tiata. Ye really did help me out greatly, an’ ah’m even more grateful that ye did it an’ came home safe an’ sound.”

“It was no trouble at all,” he replied confidently with what I could imagine was an arrogant grin on his face, “I can and will do anything for my dearest sirsa- and I’d like to see anyone stop me.”

Any tension that was left in me was gone now. I smiled, relieved and happy to know my arrogant mate was back once again. But before we could finally close our eyes and catch up on the sleep we had been missing out on for the past few nights, his tone changed to something sincere and a little emotional, “I love you, ‘Tia.”

“Ah love ye, too, barnacle fer brains,” I responded teasingly as I tightened my arms around him.

We ended up sleeping for the rest of the day and most of the night, but sometime in the middle of it, after I had returned to the bed, I was halfway aware of him pulling me back against his chest. I was barely awake, but I was able to recognize that he was trying to hold me against his body like I had been doing to him. …Though as odd as it sounded, I thought I felt warm tears against my neck when his face pressed against it. I ended up dismissing it as a dream because Satel didn’t cry- at least not for silly things like arguments or hurt feelings.

Besides, when morning came around, he was as right as rain (as Rohje would put it), full of smiles and mischievous intentions- and he was back to being his dark, possessive self between work and in the cabin. It was as if everything had returned to normal.

But maybe I dismissed everything too soon. I didn’t once think that my words about losing him would fester in his mind, not after he seemed to dismiss it. He wasn’t worried about his mortality, though- it was the thought of death separating us that troubled him.

To the Next Chapter

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