19. Reversed Roles

Chapter 19

Reversed Roles

            Becoming captain was the easy part- it was what everyone wanted from the moment they learned that I was still alive. I was their hope and their chance for real freedom on the seas. Unfortunately, I needed Seikram around to translate my orders to the crew, so the start of my ‘reign’ wasn’t exactly smooth. I had to wonder what it took to read lips and why that sea snake was the only man around here that knew how.

…I wished Cegil and Satel had the ability. It would make everything so much easier. The falucite were clueless as to what was happening or if they should be doing anything. They stood behind me on the quarterdeck looking out of place and confused. They were probably wondering why I did what I did and if there was any reason for them to stay around.

Honestly, I could handle everything on my own- through my scattered knowledge from the goddess, I could probably find the answers I needed and be able to solve my own problems. I didn’t necessarily need their help… but I still wanted them to stay by me for support.

It was a radical change, but my new status put me in a position where I needed to stand on my own feet and shape my future. I couldn’t afford to rely too heavily on my falucite family, unless it was something beyond my ability. The days of hiding behind Satel and Cegil were gone and never coming back- instead, the little girl they protected grew up so she could stand proudly beside them.

However, that was my own imagination at work there- I only just started my new role, and I had no proof if I was really going to be that self-sufficient yet. I didn’t see how I could not, but I knew not everything always worked out.

In the end my real reason for my desire to have them around is to show that I still loved them and wanted their company. I didn’t have to worry about Cegil, but I was scared of what Satel would think of all of this. He’d done nothing but protect and provide for me, so would he feel useless if I suddenly started pulling my own weight?

I would think my awakening to my role would ease his burden. I would be one less worry in his daily tribulations- he could focus on all his missions and his territories. …And at the end of the day, I could leave Seikram to watch over everything while I spend time with my mate and the clan. I could easily have dinner with them, and stay the night in our bedchambers until morning.

That was only one possibility of many, but I believed that it could work out as long as I think of this as just a job or a mission for me to do during the day. The women of the clan worked, so why couldn’t I? Satel had always said that he wanted me to find purpose in life, well here it is! Best of all, it wasn’t some servitude work- he hated the idea of me acting like a maid or a servant.

But first and foremost, I had to overcome the language barrier so that I could convey my ideas and work out something out with him. As it stood, he could walk out of my life while mistakenly believing that I didn’t need him at all.

I had developed Pappy’s method for steering- most others would stand behind the wheel and use two hands to turn the rudder, but my father always stood beside it. It wasn’t that hard to turn with one hand, though I hadn’t had to try for a sharp turn yet. I could imagine that being difficult. I wasn’t sure why I felt like copying him, but in my memories, I thought he looked so confident that way. It was like he was saying that he was an equal to the ship, rather than being the one to control her.

In my free hand, I held a silver compass that once belonged to Pappy. I glanced at it every now and then, even though I knew it was hard to veer off course that quickly. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going yet, but I knew it was East of where I currently was. Those succession of visions I had showed the stars in the sky, and in them I was able to see a path that led me in one direction. I assumed I was being led to that castle, but what exactly was waiting for me there?

I wish I could ask someone, but even if I could, did anyone have an answer? Hell, was where I was going even relevant to what I wanted to do? I wanted to get my voice back as soon as possible, but I needed to find the goddess- and that castle likely had nothing to do with her.

“Reportin’ fer duty capt’n.”

I glanced over to the right side stairwell to find Seikram walking up. Now that he went to see Needles, he had a few visible bandages showing under his shirt and his arm was in a sling. I really did a number on him- not that I regret it. I may have lost my justification to beat him up, but it never hurt to put a man like him in his place. Seikram was to be an example to the younger members of the crew- I wasn’t someone to push around. Though with the fact that he had let me win that duel, I suppose there wasn’t much to teach anyway- provided if everyone knew he gave up.

‘Ah told ye ta rest,’ I mouthed to him with a stern glare on my face. I didn’t order that out of concern for him- I wanted him to get better as soon as possible so I could start periodically leaving the ship and crew in his care. I couldn’t let an injured man try to command a ship, not when naval fleets could show up for fights or when raids needed to be conducted.

“Ah would like ta, but at the moment ah’m needed, ain’t ah?” he inquired, hinting at the fact that he was the only one who could understand me.

Annoying as it is, he was right- I couldn’t communicate without him. He was to be my human parrot until I had my voice back. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use him to convey anything personal- I would have to seek another method for Satel as soon as we can be alone for a talk.

“Am I to understand that you can read her lips?” Cegil finally asked, wanting to confirm something that was never really established before. Due to my call of article eight and the duel, I suppose it wasn’t possible for him to know before now.

“Aye- ‘tis a trick ah picked up in me youth. If ye want me ta translate wot she’s sayin’ ah’ll do me best- though mind ye that ah might not get everythin’,” he warned.

“Then maybe we can tap into the knowledge she has received after all,” Cegil commented to his still silent brother before inquiring. “What did you learn from Elati? And is what you have received what is driving you to act in this manner? You seem to know where you are going and what to do.”

Oh yeah, I managed to fool everyone into thinking I was the next ‘Wise Man’, haven’t I? It’s funny how I could manage to build up a huge lie without having to say a word… I was quick to denounce my wisdom through Seikram, though I mentioned the possibility that all of my knowledge might come to me slowly. It felt like every hour there was something new popping into my head.

This could’ve been some failsafe method to prevent a man from going crazy. I could only imaging the jarring sensation it could be if my mind was suddenly filled with foreign concepts all at once. I’d probably lose sight of who I am, my view of life, and probably my ability to be a regular human. Aren’t those who were geniuses also eccentrics?

“She also says that she has no clue where she’s goin’ or wot fer- wait, wot!?” Seikram whipped his head back to me when what I had told him registered. “Yer lookin’ all sure o’ yerself an’ important at that wheel- how in five hells do ye not know where yer goin!?”

‘Somethin’ in me head is tellin’ me ta go- ah don’t know why, but it feels important,’ I responded while keeping my eyes out to the horizon before me. Though why did the destination matter? So long as we didn’t get lost, we could go anywhere we pleased. In fact, I recall that Pappy was once a notorious wanderer and that they rarely reached the places that they’d intended to go. Everyone was fine with that back then.

“But what about your voice? Shouldn’t that be more important?” Satel asked after Seikram translated, speaking for the first time since the end of the duel. I briefly glanced at him from over my shoulder and nodded once before I returned to my compass.

…Why was I looking at this thing? Was I waiting for it to do something?

“She says that o’ course her voice is important, but she doesn’t know where ta look fer that. Her only lead is wotever is guidin’ her,” Seikram relayed once I decided to explain further.

“Hmm… Perhaps this intuition of Tia’s could be related to the Blessing of Knowledge she had gone through- maybe this could be a test to see if she is worthy of it all. Had her father not experienced this before?”

“Ah’m sorry ta say that ah wasn’t ‘round fer Rutan’s ascension- he was Lord o’ the Sea long before ah joined ship. Howe’re… ah’m beginnin’ ta get an idea of wot’s goin’ on,” the scarred pirate slowly admitted, not sounding completely sure of himself.

‘Yeah? Wot do ye know that no one else knows?’ I asked, wishing I could speak in a snide tone. I refused to believe that he knew anything- it was bad enough I had to rely on him for speech.

“Well… yer headin’ East, towards Eruda. Ye might be goin’ home ‘cause yer drawn ta it,” he began uneasily before he turned to Cegil. “Ah couldn’t read that dragon-bitch well while she’s in her true form, but ah picked up something ‘bout the ‘Eternal King’- there’s actually an ol’ legend ‘bout him.”

“I assume you speak of the first king of Eruda- the one who made a deal with Elati in exchange for immortality?” my mate suddenly queried testily. I glanced back at him again to find that his expression matched his tone. His platinum blond brows were furrowed and his already thin lips were pressed into an even slimmer line.

What exactly was he upset about? I get that my decision to become captain might’ve thrown him for a loop, but he seemed really cross about the conversation in particular. Was he still beating himself up over what happened to me? Or was it related to this sudden mention of immortality? He told me before of the vision he’d seen, but all he said and understood was that it was a contract between Elati and that king that started the ‘blessing’ of Erudians. …So where did the immortality come from and why didn’t he mention it before now?

“Ah don’t know anythin’ ‘bout immortality, but yeah- it’s the same man, even though another relative o’ his took o’er the throne. They say as long as the Eternal King exists, Erudians enjoy longevity, good-health, an’ peace while on the waters o’ Elati- e’ery Erudian knows that legend.”

…Which explains why he knew. I was beginning to hate these ‘chain’ of events where everything could’ve been solved sooner if I had known to ask the right questions in the beginning. As an Erudian, of course he would’ve known about such a thing, but I was so out of tune with my heritage that I didn’t know anything of anything.

But, at least Satel seemed satisfied- he appeared much more relieved as he worked that response through his mind. I suppose that meant that he wasn’t sure of what he was previously thinking. I can see why he wouldn’t say anything then- I’d be having issues if I learned out of the blue that I was an immortal or something. Hell, I’m already having enough problems with this Lord of the Sea bit.

“…I think I get it now- the ‘immortality’ comes in the form of what’s passed down through descendants. So if ‘Tia were to fall, then Elati would have no more connection with Erudians, and they would lose their benefits,” the blond muttered, more towards himself than to us.

Actually, losing those ‘benefits’ wouldn’t be all bad- maybe they wouldn’t get to live as long, but at least they could travel the world, and they wouldn’t be slaves to the sea gods anymore. Well, I hear about them being slaves from other people- never once did I hear Seikram or any other Erudian crewmember complain about it. I guess it was all about the perspective.

“So then what is the connection between Tia as the descendant of the Eternal King and her progressing towards Eruda?” Cegil inquired, trying to make sense of Seikram’s last two sentences since Satel kind of interjected with his hidden agenda.

“Ah think the blood in her is jus’ drawin’ her home- the dragon-bitch chanted fer the ‘awakenin’’ o’ the king in her, so the ‘king’ might want ta see his throne,” Seikram speculated.

Was that what I was doing? …I wanted to see some castle, but I don’t think it’s for humans. In fact in my visions I didn’t see any land nearby, so I doubted that the final destination was Eruda. For some reason, I seemed to believe that my compass was going to do something- maybe I was waiting for Elati or some other divine being to turn the needle and guide me to where I truly needed to be.

Or… maybe I’ve lost my mind. There was just no telling what the hell Cyirlie did to me earlier or if everything worked as it should. I wasn’t supposed to have gone through the rites as Lord of the Sea to begin with, so there was a chance that something went wrong.

But I still ended up shaking my head and mouthing, ‘I don’t think so.’

I was clearly being led by something, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t some piece of land calling out to me. I was just going to have to see what it was before I declared myself insane. For all I knew, Elati might just be at the end of this little hunt.

“I suppose it would not harm anyone if we just let her lead us- we might learn some valuable information along the way,” Cegil suggested after a short pause. “And it is not as if we have any ideas of our own for the time being.”

“She’s capt’n now, so o’ course there’d be no objections from us, but ye lot don’t have ta stay if ye don’t want ta,” the pirate said, still subtly hinting that he wanted the falucite to leave. At least this time he wasn’t trying to force them to leave- he probably knew that it would upset me.

“That is true, Tia seems quite capable on her own- and someone still needs to report to the elders,” the tall falucite began, likely speaking more to Satel than anyone else. He was being rather direct with his words, as if he was trying to drive into his younger brother what was bothering me- though how did Cegil know what I was feeling? Maybe he was able to read my expressions…

“…I suppose…” the über hat man eventually agreed after some hesitation. “If Tia doesn’t need me, then I should be getting back to my missions and I need to check on my territories.”

I felt a rush of panic before I completely turned to face my mate. He wasn’t exactly suggesting that he should go- in fact his tone clearly implied that he wanted me to give him a reason to stay. But while he didn’t mean to, he reminded me that he had his own life to live and that I couldn’t expect him to spend it here unless I absolutely needed him.

Though hearing him insinuate that he had other places to go did kind of hurt. I know I was being a little selfish, but I kind of wanted him to stay, even if there was nothing for him to do. I wanted the company- kind of like how he wanted me to come on his missions. But I didn’t really need him, so it wouldn’t be right of me to stop him when he needed to leave.

I must’ve been making a face because Cegil and Satel grinned, the latter also fidgeted with the brim of his hat to hide the fact that he was a little sheepish for what he’d said.

“Don’t give me that look, ‘Tia-dear, I didn’t mean I’ll leave right now,” he reassured me while feigning some humor. But I could detect some regret in his tone, signaling to me that he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. He didn’t seem as disturbed by the turn of events as I had feared, so maybe I was the only one blowing things out of proportion. Hmph… I forcibly took over a pirate ship and yet I still can’t express myself properly …

“Indeed. He can still afford a few more days off, and there is no need for two people to issue a report. If you do not mind, I shall take my leave and return in the morning to see how you are doing,” Cegil added, making sure I would be okay without him.

I wanted to reply with something witty or sarcastic, but all I could do was nod and accept his decision to go. He was fine, since I knew he also wanted to go see Lioa, but I also needed a chance to speak with him eventually.

Even though I plan to be on the ship more often, I would like to continue my lessons. All because I was a pirate didn’t mean I couldn’t get a formal education- it just meant that I was unfit to participate in the tournaments. Besides, Seikram said that Pappy didn’t know how to read, so obviously this knowledge I was supposedly getting wasn’t going to do anything about that part of my intelligence.

For tonight, I want to focus on my mate and work everything out with him. I wanted to make sure that we both knew our options, and I wanted to somehow tell him as much as I knew in regards to getting my voice back. Actually, I wanted to tell Cegil what I knew, too, but it was getting late.

Despite it being afternoon here, it was late night back in the homestead. If he wanted to see Lioa, then he would have to go now and then report to the elders in the morning over there. …The only reason why I knew the time difference was because Satel teleported me to Orja a few times during our nightly ‘activities’, sparing me from corrupting article six of the Code. Thanks to that, it was now possible for us to mate before sunrise.

“Satel, before I take my leave, I have some words of advice,” Cegil added in a quieter tone. “The path to adulthood can be difficult, and sometimes you might find yourself struggling to maintain order in your life. Simply work towards the future you envision and do not fear change.”

“To what do I owe this sudden wellspring of wisdom?” the blond man inquired in a cool tone. He wanted to seem as if he didn’t know what his brother was talking about, but his stiff posture betrayed his feelings. Apparently Cegil had picked up on something that was bothering his brother, but Satel didn’t seem to want to admit it.

“It is something you will need to consider- after all, you did not think this would actually happen. Just remember that you are becoming too old to live as you have- you will have to decide your priorities soon.”

And with those cryptic parting words, Cegil teleported away. Satel appeared disturbed over his brother’s words, but then seemed to dismiss them quickly. I had to be pretty dense not to have some idea of what Cegil was trying to say, but I was baffled over what Satel ‘didn’t think would happen’.

I tried not to jump to conclusions though, because whatever ‘change’ that was bothering him wasn’t necessarily about me. This might’ve had something to do with the clan, or perhaps he was going through a similar crisis in figuring out his role in life. I had to remember that Satel had his own problems too- and he willingly added mine to his pot.

I glanced over to Seikram and found his grey eyes focused on my mate. He was clearly upset that Satel was staying longer, but wisely kept his mouth shut. I snapped the lid of my compass shut so that I could get his attention.

‘Seikram, arrange the night shift an’ ensure that they sail East. When yer done retire fer the night an’ rest up,’ I ordered before I handed the compass to him. It was still an hour or two away from sunset, but I needed to clean up Pappy’s old cabin and arrange it for my use- and then I needed to figure out how to deal with Satel.

“Aye, aye,” the pirate muttered before he started calling up some people down on the main deck.

I walked over to Satel and, without caring about what others would think, I grabbed his hand and led him to what was now my cabin. I was certain everyone saw me, and the implications of pulling a man into a private cabin were pretty clear. To make matters worse, I couldn’t reassure everyone that I never once broken the subsection of article six. I appeared to be pulling rank already and abusing my power, but at the moment, I didn’t care.

Since the ship was heading East, the afternoon sun was pouring into the back windows, bathing the room in a golden glow. I let go of Satel’s hand and turned to lock my door, bringing my body close to his in order to do so. It seemed he misread my intentions and raised his arms for a hug just when I sharply pulled away. I didn’t mean to do that to him, but I felt I had a few things to do before I settled down.

For once the roles were reversed- since this was my room, I had to go about setting up everything. Thankfully, everything was where I remembered it, though I was worried they were too old to be of any use. I lit the gas lamps so that I could cover the windows with the heavy velvet curtains, then I looked for a place where we could sit. Other than the desk, which had one seat, the only other place to sit was on the bed.

Come to think of it, Pappy and I were hardly ever in this room except for sleeping. In the few times in the day we were in here, he was sitting at the desk and I’d be sitting on the floor, playing with something. I was going to need a table and some chairs if I needed to entertain visitors like Cegil. Perhaps I could get rid of my old vanity for some extra room…

Until then, the bed would have to do. I walked over to it so that I could shake the dirt out of the sheets. It hadn’t been slept in for fifteen years, and the last person to use it was Pappy. …It wasn’t going to be easy for me to sleep on that- if not for the memory of Pappy, then for the fact that I couldn’t trust what filth might’ve been thriving under the blanket for all these years. I was going to need a new mattress and bed sheets.

I stared down at the bed as I wondered where I could acquire such things- I could ask Satel if the clan had anything to spare… or I could just steal some from a raid. Yeah, that sounded like a good idea… but what should I do with the old mattress and sheets? I couldn’t just toss them- it’d be like disrespecting Pappy.

I had been so caught up with my planning, that I had actually forgotten that Satel was standing silently near my door. Though in my defense, if he had said anything, then I wouldn’t have gotten lost in my thoughts. He must’ve mistaken my distance from him as rejection because when he did finally speak, it had to be an apology.

“Tia, I’m so sorry for failing you as I have.”

Oh, this again… I thought as I turned to face him. Why was he beating himself up over what Cyirlie had done? I knew dragons were stronger than falucite, so I couldn’t expect him to best her, especially with any handicaps he might’ve had.

But I soon discovered that he wasn’t upset about that, per se- it was a little deeper than that, and it started not long after we had first mated. He honestly believed that he hadn’t made me happy at all. All he wanted to do was ensure that I would be comfortable at his side because he didn’t want to make me miserable, but… he didn’t expect that the life he had to offer wasn’t enough for me.

“I’ve done everything to help you – heal you – from everything that’s been hurting you, but instead I’ve been making things worse. You always had the ability to help yourself, and you would’ve done it sooner had I not been segregating you from the sea and your people. I thought I could do better for you as a mate, but I guess I am nothing but an inexperienced falcie,” he muttered with his head bowed, the brim of his über hat hid his eyes from my view.

He continued to list everything he had done that wasn’t adequate enough in his mind, all while forgetting the good stuff he had done. Some part of me was shocked to hear all of this. What happened to my cocky and extremely arrogant mate? Why was he trying so hard to make me his burden when I didn’t even ask him to trouble himself on my account?

I shook my head as I walked over to him and slapped him across the face to shut him up. I didn’t hit hard- only enough to get his attention. I could see his eyes widen from my actions before his hand slowly came up to cup his cheek. Now that he was stunned, I yanked him down by his ascot and hugged him to show that he didn’t ‘fail me’.

This wasn’t the best comfort strategy, but I think he knew what he was getting from me when he decided on me for a mate. He chose me because I could stand on my own feet and face danger unflinchingly. For the past month or so, I’ve been letting the fear of my past mold me into a domesticated woman when I was everything but. I wasn’t meant to be a damsel in distress- and he didn’t want me to become one. Damn it, I’m going to be the woman he wants- I’m going to be the woman I am.

Satel wasn’t the one who made me unhappy- that was all on me. His only problem was that he was trying too hard, and I was the one guilty of taking advantage of it. I liked the comfort he gave me, but I didn’t really need it to cope. I should’ve taken care of myself a long time ago and focus on working with him toward a shared future. I was the one holding him back, so everything was my fault.

“Sorry ‘Tia-dear, this whining is unlike me,” he eventually replied as he gently removed my arms and pushed me back a little. “I should have figured out at least some of what happened today before we got to Cyirlie, so in a way, I’m responsible for you losing your voice. I don’t know if you really need it, considering you took command of the ship easily enough, but please allow me to aid you in getting it back. It’s the least I can do.”

I raised my hand with the intent to slap him for every time he went into self-pity mode, but I soon realized that it wasn’t going to help. He was just going to think I was punishing him. There has to be some way for me to tell him how I felt about it all…

I glanced behind me and noticed the desk. Maybe I could write to him- Cegil taught me how to do it, though I don’t think my spelling is that great. Oh, who cared? It didn’t matter what Satel thought of my literary abilities anymore- I wasn’t going to let him think he no positive impact on my life!

I began yanking his form again to the back of the cabin before I made him sit down on the chair. I unhooked a few drawers to search for some paper and writing utensils, but all I could find was maps and measuring tools. Damn…

“…Do you want to write something?” Satel guessed after watching me frantically searching for what I wanted. I stared down at him and nodded in confirmation.

I watched as he summoned some items from our bedchambers back at the homestead. Soon two parchments of paper, an inkpot, and an old-fashioned quill pen appeared. I wasn’t sure why he had a quill pen now since the invention of the fountain pen, but I wasn’t in the mind, or ability, to complain about it.

Instead, I situated Satel so that I could sit on his knee and allow him to see what I was writing. Unfortunately, I ruined the first few words because I didn’t blot out the excess ink, so I had to scratch that out and start over.

Satel, stop beeing such an idit. Yu do make me hapi and I never asked yu to act lik my slayv. Maybe we were never mint to meat, but yu were rite about us beeing mint for eech other. I dint have to stay with yu if I dint want to be with yu. Nun of wat hapened waz yur falt becuz I waz the won who asked to come. Yu made me feel better when I waz hurting and I probly wuldnt be heer if yu hadnt stud by me. Whe cant change the past, butt thats ok. I dont regret wat whe did toogether. I luv yu, not the cee.

Now stop blameing yurself or else I will dek yu!

            When I was done I pulled the page closer for him to read better. I waited with bated breath as he picked up the sheet and slowly read the contents. I was hoping to have a little more mastery in writing before I ever did something like this for him, but… Well, I just hope he could understand what I wrote. Cegil did warn me that I needed to work on my penmanship…

“‘Tia,” he said softly before a smile appeared on his thin lips. I grinned back, hoping that my words got through to him and he would stop thinking as he did. “…your spelling is atrocious.”

My smile faded as I became a tad disappointed with his feedback. I poured my heart onto that paper and that’s all he cared about!? I turned and hit the arm that was closest to me, and predictably, he began to chuckle at the fact that he got a rise out of me.

It was the one constant thing in our relationship- he would find some way to annoy me, I’d hit him, he’d laugh, and then we end up hugging or kissing. It happened exactly like that all the time. So I wasn’t surprised to find myself almost crushed against his chest as he nuzzled my neck and ear.

“…That’s the first time you said you love me, even though that was on paper,” he commented happily. I pushed myself back a little as I gave him a confused look. Really?

I could’ve sworn I had told him that at least once or twice before… True, I did make it a point not to say it often, but that was because I felt it was redundant to do so and that it was obvious that I felt this way about him.

“I knew you did feel this way through your actions… it’s just that I… I suppose I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I do want you to find purpose in life and I am happy that you’ve found it,” Satel added, wanting to explain his self. “But now that you know, I find myself questioning my purpose. Of course I want to be the mate that you deserve, but I also have my own dreams to aim for. For a while, I’ve been kind of sacrificing them for your sake.”

Suddenly he realized that his words didn’t come out the way he intended and quickly corrected himself with a slightly panicked expression, “Not that I mind helping you- I’m merely implying that I’ve gotten so used to protecting you that it’s becoming something of a shock for me to have a …a lighter workload, so to speak.”

Sorree, I wrote down, knowing that I needed to say it. I already knew it was because of my avoiding the past that he had to go out of his way to pick me back up after my breakdowns. This was further proof that he didn’t need to feel as if he was inadequate. He certainly did his duty as a supportive partner- all at the cost of his personal goals.

“No- it’s nothing you need to apologize for. We all have our problems and some part of me knew you would pull out of it eventually. I should be happy that everything is almost resolved… so why aren’t I?” He ended that note by leaning forward so he could put his elbow on the table and rest his head against his hand.

I had no answer for that. I knew Satel’s dream was to somehow earn the right to become an elder by doing the work of a thousand falucite. When falucite reached a certain age, they and their mates could become members of the council for the rest of their lives. As the fourth born, Satel was denied that chance because it was intended for only four in each branch to join, which would be the eldest sons and their mates. But even so, he still had a chance if Cegil, the ‘prodigal son’, continued his deliberate defiance against the elders. All Satel had to do was look good in comparison to his brother before the elders.

Even with the slight detour he was taking for my sake, it shouldn’t be hard for him to take Cegil’s place. The tall man really hated the elders, so it was unlikely he would ever accept a position as one of them. But I soon remembered that my mate mentioned something about questioning his purpose. Maybe he wasn’t sure what he wanted anymore and didn’t know what path to take- I certainly knew how that felt…

Culd life on the cee be changing yu to? I asked on the paper. Either he was so uncomfortable and needed to return to the life he was familiar with at the homestead or… perhaps there is a seafarer hiding inside him, and he wants to come out now that he’s on a ship. Dare I hope for the latter? Like how he wanted me to go with him on his missions, I couldn’t deny I felt the same way about having him around on the ship. I couldn’t see him actually taking on a position, but it would be nice to have someone intelligent to talk to.

Satel slowly read my question before his brow furrowed and his expression became a little troubled.

“There’s something about the sea, but I’m not sure what. Elati seems to believe she can take away my powers if I refuse to protect you. That’s not a problem since I have no intention of leaving you, but on what grounds does a sea goddess have to control the powers of a land creature such as myself?” he muttered as he shook his head.

I hadn’t heard that part yet- all I knew was that Elati told him that we were both free of obligations and to seek her out if we wanted to. …And she better have left instructions somewhere in my mind to do so. I wanted a word with her…

“There’s something I’m missing here- and it’s leading me to wonder if I was supposed to be bound to the sea like you are. On one hand, that doesn’t sound so bad because all it means is that I get to spend more time with you, but on the other…” he trailed off and let out a sigh.

“I can’t be a seafarer like you and continue to work towards my dreams- could I? I’m not so sure… Wouldn’t I have to remain here? And if I do, I’m not certain what I could do- I can’t envision myself as a pirate,” he continued, almost rambling as his thoughts came to him.

I tilted my head as I wondered where that came from. Who said he would have to stay here if he was in the same position as I was? I had plans to leave every once in a while and I’d like to see Elati stop me. She sure did a good job of keeping track of me before.

I wrote down what my plans were and why I believed that Elati wouldn’t care if I left. With my taking on an important role on the ship, I had reason to come back, so she and Cyirlie shouldn’t have to worry about me disappearing on land again. Though I admittedly couldn’t figure out what he was so confused about.

If Elati didn’t care about him anymore, then why worry about his role with the sea? He just said he would protect me, so he wasn’t going to lose his powers… but I guess the threat of it was just as daunting. Or maybe he was just upset with the thought of being the only falucite in this position.

“So you still intend to come home despite what you have here?” he asked, sounding both surprised and flattered.

I nodded before I added, Of corce I do, butt furst I want that idit to heel so he can baybesit the others. I still want to be part of yur famly just have this as my dae job. Yu wantd me to find sumthing usefool to do.

 Satel chuckled lightly over what I wrote, though I wasn’t sure if he was thinking something funny or laughing at whatever I spelled wrong. He then raised his head and rested the side of it against mine as he pulled me even closer.

“That’s true,” he agreed, “but I was under the impression that you were miserable living in the homestead.”

I dont hayt it. Living there isnt the problum. I just git bored becuz there is nuthing for me to do that I lik. Plus our room haz a bath and I still lik to be cleen.

             “Hmph, some pirate you are,” he replied jokingly before he kissed my cheekbone. “So are you implying that you just want to go home to bathe?”

It wuld be nice if yu are in it to, I teased flirtatiously, earning a smirk from him. I soon turned briefly to kiss him, getting him on the cheek since he wasn’t expecting me. But soon he reciprocated my gesture and met my lips with a smile. I was glad that he seemed to have cheered up and that we were communicating like we usually did… well, at least we were back to the same intimate level of communication- ‘usual’ would involve my being able to make sound.

We shared a few more kisses before we sat in companionable silence for a little while. Satel likely had more things on his mind related to Elati, but I was just as clueless as he was about her intentions. In the end, there was nothing we could do about it unless he wanted to go confront her. If he did want to see her, then I wanted to pull my weight and help him with that.

…Though, since I intend to get my voice back, I’ll probably see her sooner or later. The question was if the über hat man wanted to confront her during that time. What if she was like Cyirlie and had a short temper and patience? We might have to leave and come back to her later for another issue. Or maybe not- what did I know about goddesses anyway?

“You know, this might be just the thing we need. There will be some challenges with the time difference, of course, but this can be our second home. I’m fast approaching adulthood, so we’ll need to move out of the homestead sooner or later- this is a good time as any to start transitioning,” he suggested, proving to me that we were not thinking the same thing. I was ecstatic- hearing him accept The Cruel Whore as a home was more than I could’ve hoped for.

I soon began fishing through the pocket of my trench coat as an idea came to me. When I found what I was looking for, I grabbed Satel’s hand and placed the object in the center of his palm before I closed his fingers over it.

“What’s this?” he inquired before he examined it. “Your old earring? You want me to join your ship?”

If yu want, butt thats not wy im giving it to yu. I just want yu to have sumthing of mine and to let yu no that yu will always be welkom heer.

             “Aww, thanks ‘Tia-dear. I don’t think I can be a pirate, but I will wear this. I should be part of your family, just as how you’re part of mine,” the blond commented before he raised his hands to his right ear.

His lobe wasn’t pierced, but he didn’t seem to have any trouble pinning my platinum ear hugger into the skin. He probably used magicks to do it, but it left me to wonder how the hole would remain open for it. His body regenerated rather fast, so the earring could fuse to his skin if he wasn’t careful.

But I couldn’t deny the measure of pride I felt to see it on him. Now all we needed to do was settle on a tattoo to put on him and see if we can get his skin to tan a little. Not that I was settling on the idea of completely turning him into a seafarer- I just thought he would look very alluring that way.

Suddenly I was pulled back against him yet again, this time to where I couldn’t reach the pen and paper. He held me so tight that I had no hope of escape- not that I wanted to.

“Now that I know how you really feel, I have no more doubts. I’m going with you to see the goddess and we’re getting your voice back. If I can find out what I am to her, then that’s just a bonus- if not, then I don’t care,” he announced as one of his hands rested against the back of my head so I couldn’t pull away from him. “No matter what happens, you’re mine and I’m not letting you go.”

My lips perked up in a smile as a breathy laugh escaped. Satel tried to kiss me, but I was using all of my strength to break free and reach the paper. I had one hand outstretched towards the desk and he soon eased his grip to see what I wanted to say now.

No yu belong to me, remembur? I then grabbed the paper and held it in front of his face, earning a laugh from him.

“Well, we’ll debate about that later,” he said jovially before I kissed him.

The worst was over now, in terms of my relationship with Satel. We had first overcome the differences between falucite and human, and now we broke the barriers between seafarers and earth creatures. No matter what Elati had intended for us, it was too late to break the bond we had forged together.

             But getting my voice back was the least of our problems- Satel was about to learn that something had gone astray when he had refused Cyirlie. A sacrifice had been made without anyone realizing it- and he would have to decide what was best for the family member that’d been affected by his decision. And very soon, I would stumble upon a shocking fact that would soon have me questioning my very existence.

To the Next Chapter

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