Cegil…was definitely acting funny when I returned to the room. Whatever Satel had told him seemed to put him through shock and I was starting to get very curious about it. But it was hard trying to engage in any form of conversation with him. Sometimes he didn’t seem to hear me at all, and at others he would abruptly change the subject. After a while, I began to pick up the vibes that my guardian was very worried- almost as if he had a life shattering realization.
My suspicions were confirmed not long after when he suddenly went fatherly mode on me. I didn’t really mind when he acted like that, but those moments only came when it was out of concern for my well-being. The fact that it came so suddenly disturbed me greatly.
“Cegil? Is something wrong? You’re really starting to scare me,” I commented after he asked yet again if I was okay. The giant falucite crossed his arms before a slight frown came to his face and he looked away from me.
“I apologize,” he finally said after some time. “I suppose it really just occurred to me that I could have lost you forever had Satel not been in Vildine with you.”
“Again? I already said that I didn’t blame you for that. It’s no big deal- I’ve been in tight situations before and I’m still alive. Remember that time with the earth dragon? I’d say that was worse than what I’ve seen in Vildine,” I reassured him with a smile.
But I understood what he was getting at- there were plenty of times when I thought he wasn’t going to make it and I felt like I had to hold him close to me to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. I have long since taught myself that clinging to him wasn’t going to work and that in order to survive we will always be fighting and facing danger. All I could do was stay by his side and help him as much as possible.
“I know… but it isn’t right for me to keep you by my side. You could be living a peaceful life with a-”
“ENOUGH!” I barked in a stern tone as I glared and pointed at him. “Get rid of whatever is in your mind- I will not hear of it! If you try to leave me behind again, I will just follow after you like I always do. All I want is to stay by your side and travel with you. I desire nothing else.”
It wasn’t the first time he had these doubts. He felt bad that I wasn’t living a normal human life and originally tried to leave me behind in nice villages when we had first started traveling together. But I didn’t want to leave him- not then, not ever! Cegil understood me and treated me like a person. He made me feel happy, like how I used to feel in my early days, and I didn’t want to let him go. I was actually the selfish one because I knew I was more trouble than I was worth.
Cegil let in a deep breath and closed his eyes. Usually what I said was enough to calm him and make him feel a little better about my traveling with him, but this time it didn’t change his mind. “That’s fine, but what then? What kind of future do you envision by my side? You know that you cannot have a family with me and I cannot stay in one place for long.”
“Do I look like I want or need a family?” I inquired as I shook my head gently. “I love you, Cegil. You’re all I need.”
“The love you feel for me is purely a familial one. Can you honestly say that you do not desire to experience romantic love with another?”
I snorted. “With who? Humans are jerks and I don’t want anything to do with that stupid fortune the Fates gave me. Besides, the love I feel for you is the only love I know. How could I desire something I’ve never really felt before?”
“You never tried,” he retorted without any malice to his words. “You know that I see you as my falcie- at least give me the satisfaction of raising you properly. I only wish to see that you live a happy life.”
“But I am happy and… I don’t want to leave you alone. If I went off with another man, then what would become of you? I don’t want to lose you,” I admitted as I broke my stare with him and shyly glanced at some spot on the rug. I didn’t like thinking about life without Cegil. It reminded me too much of- no I was not going to allow my thoughts to go there.
“Why are we talking about this?” I asked in an exasperated tone. “I’m not leaving your side and that’s final!”
“Dantia-” I wouldn’t let him speak after that. Maybe I was acting like a spoiled brat then, but I didn’t want to acknowledge a future without Cegil by my side. So like a ‘sensible’ person, I decided to run away so I wouldn’t have to hear it anymore.
“I’m going out,” I announced as I headed to the door. It wasn’t the best conflict resolution to practice, but I wanted to get some air and try to think about other things. Hopefully Cegil would eventually tire himself out with these blasphemous thoughts and drop it altogether. I was about to step out, but I paused and gazed back at him for a brief second. I then told him in a gentle tone, “I’ll be back.”
‘I’ll be back’ were the magick words that allowed my guardian to sleep peacefully at night. It meant that I had no intention of getting in trouble tonight. In fact, I made sure to stay as far away from the tavern as possible. I wasn’t in the mood for a brawl and because of my ‘condition’, I knew I wouldn’t be able to torment others. I’d be fending off more perverts than ignorant people. Plus- Satel was there. There was no way in five hells I was going to a tavern with him again.
I instead traveled over to the same area where the jackass had teleported me. Now that I had a better look, I discovered that it was like a deep octagon shaped pit with the fountain at the bottom and benches placed at four opposite sides inside the ‘walls’ of the indention. It took four steps to reach a bench and maybe eight to ten to reach the bottom.
There were only a few lamplights lit down close to the fountain and it cast a very dim light from where I was seated. This allowed me to have a good view of the stars in the sky. I leaned back and rested both arms on the back of the wooden seat. I then crossed my legs as an afterthought- sitting spread eagle like that was rather inappropriate and I didn’t want some bastard passing by to get any ideas.
I tilted my head back and traced the stars with my eyes. Long before I met Cegil, I knew every constellation and story behind them by heart. I knew where all the sea goddesses were- and where all the fire and earth goddesses could shove it. Seafarers were loyal to only to the sea god Elit and his daughters, though worship to the Fates and the Maker was universal. I wasn’t sure what god the falucite were loyal to, but Cegil didn’t seem to care when I told him the old sea stories I learned.
We used to star gaze often, but ever since we came to the Wastelands, we’ve been spending most of our time separated. Was it any wonder that his thinking of splitting up and letting me live among humans scared the shit out of me? I felt like we were slowly drifting apart and I hated it. But since we were delving to family matters that I knew nothing about, I wasn’t much use to him. All I could do was pray that he wasn’t serious about me settling down.
“At attention, corsair!”
I shot up by reflex and was about to stand, but I stopped myself at the last second. I ended up sitting straight up on the bench before I glared at the owner of the voice. Satel let out a laugh as he walked down the steps to approach and sit beside me.
“What in five hells was that for? You nearly gave me a heart attack,” I scolded him, trying to pass my reaction off as a surprise. Though I was actually stunned that I still reacted to the command.
“I was just confirming a suspicion I had about you. I didn’t think you were some fisherman’s daughter, though I am surprised that some pirate ship would let a woman on board,” he replied in a know-it-all tone.
“Wh-what are you talking about? You just yelled and startled me,” I muttered as I tried not to give myself away. How did he know? I hadn’t even told Cegil about my early days. Suddenly his ungloved fingers were at my cheek and they managed to push back my stray bangs until they were tucked neatly behind my right ear. I wanted to move and shake my hair loose, but I knew it was already too late- he saw it.
“Don’t play stupid with me,” he chided in a light tone as he fingered the platinum ear hugger that was attached to my lobe. “Judging by the width of this and the fact that you only have one ear pierced, I would say this is the mark of a pirate corsair. Of course, there were other clues as well- your arms and legs are tan despite how your clothing covers you completely. And I happened to see the tattoo on your ankle.”
How did he know all of that? I kind of knew that if I exposed my ear and a bit more skin, it would make me look more like a seafarer. But it shouldn’t reveal my former pirate status- only seafarers knew the ranks of pirates and the meaning behind the different earrings they wore. Not even Cegil knew… if he did, he never made it known.
“Shouldn’t you be at the tavern or something?” I inquired tersely before I batted his hand away and loosened my bangs. So what if he knew what I once was? I didn’t want to talk about it or remember anything.
“I was waiting for you and you never showed,” he responded in an accusing tone before his smirk widened and he leaned closer to me so that our faces were nearly nose to nose, “and stop changing the subject. Are there any other tattoos I should know about?”
“Like hell I’d tell you about them!” I growled as I tried to move my head away. I only had an armband tattoo on each arm- after all, I was only a child at the time and even pirates had morals when it came to brats. The other one that Satel managed to see was just a small symbol of the goddess of storms.
I had to bite my lip to distract myself when his eyelids lowered halfway and his smile took on a lecherous quality. “Then I suppose I’ll have to find out for myself someday.”
Under normal circumstances, such a remark would’ve earned a punch to the face, but this situation was hardly normal. Satel could easily fend me off and hurt me if he wanted to. And- there was something about the way the dim light cast an orange glow on his fair skin that made my eyes linger on his face and forget that he had said anything. This was probably the first time I really looked at him.
When I had first met him, I only paid attention to the basic detail of his rust colored eyes and long, braided blonde hair. I also noted how he had similar high cheekbones and other aristocratic features that Cegil had, but I never really realized how…feral his eyes were. Cegil’s eyes were the same color, but they were cold and his expression was always rather hardened. But Satel’s eyes were warm and alive- like he was filled with wild abandon.
Sometime during my observation, his face started to gradually move closer to me and I soon snapped out of it when his lips pressed gently against mine. My heart skipped a few beats before I came to my senses and pulled away. I had to place a hand on his chest to prevent him from following after me. He was damn insistent on trying to keep the kiss going.
“Hey!” I snapped in warning. “Who said I wanted a kiss?”
“What was I supposed to do with you staring at me like that?” he wondered with a bemused expression. I flushed at little and tried to think of something witty to counter with.
“I…I wasn’t staring at you,” I insisted as I glanced around for something else to look at. My eyes fell on his über hat and I quickly reached out to pull it off him. “I was looking at this. …I kind of like this hat of yours.”
It wasn’t completely a lie- I was rather fond of it. Satel allowed me to take it and then rested his arm on the back of the bench behind me. I had seen him without the hat on before, but I never had a close up look. Some part of me was hoping that he was hiding a bald spot or something, but his hair was thick and plentiful on the crown of his head. To a human, it was actually rare for people with that shade of light yellow to have such thick hair. Platinum blondes usually had very fine strands.
I quickly averted my eyes to the über hat in my hands before he could call me out on the staring. There really was nothing special about it- it was black like everything else he wore and it had a flat top instead of a rounded one. Gambler’s hats had been out of style for decades and were almost close to extinction, but I suppose Satel obtained his back when it was popular. He was old enough to know the trends of my great-grandparents.
Since I had it in my grasp, I figured that I should at least try it on. I probably looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. It easily fell past my eyes and the top of my head managed to make contact with the roof. I ended up loving the hat even more despite that. Satel chuckled as he watched me.
“Seems a little big for you, but it does bring out your cute nature,” he commented as I made sure the über hat was covering my eyes. I then leaned back and rested my head against his arm, acting as if I was going to sleep. For the time being, I felt it was safer that way. I was afraid what would happen if I continued to gaze at him. Somehow I could feel that his eyes were still on me and tried hard not to acknowledge the hand that was resting rather innocently on my knee.
Suddenly his hot breath managed to find its way to my ear. “Don’t fall asleep on me, lassie, I have a gift fer ye.”
“Don’t mock me,” I growled sternly. I wasn’t sure where he learned to pick up that drawl, but it had an old feel to it- like it was something my seafaring elders would say. ‘Bonne’ and ‘lassie’ were ancient words we didn’t use anymore. It was strictly ‘bonnie lass’ these days, though I was sure in a few decades those old words would make a comeback in our everyday slang.
“Ah ain’t mockin’ ye- ah’ve been ‘round yer kind fer thirty years of me life. Hard not ta pick up the accent,” he explained before he added, “How d’ye think ah knew ‘bout yer corsair mark?”
I guessed that made sense. It was refreshing to hear genuine seafarer language, even if it was outdated. But I wasn’t in the right temper to respond to it. I was in too much of a melancholy mood thanks to the brief argument I had with Cegil and hearing someone familiar with the ways of my people wasn’t going to make it better. “Even so, stop using it. I don’t want to hear it right now.”
“Alright,” he replied gently as he dropped the dialect, “But don’t you want to see the gift?”
“No,” I responded instantly as I crossed my arms. I doubted his ‘gift’ was anything I really wanted and it probably came with a price.
“Are you sure? It’s something only you would appreciate- in fact you’re most likely the only human on this continent who would know what it is.” He attempted to entice me with a cloying tone before the hand on my knee lifted. I soon grew curious and lifted the über hat slightly with my finger under the brim.
My eyes widened at the sight of the orange ball in his hand. I hadn’t seen that in years. Numbly, my hand reached out to pick up the thick-skinned fruit. At first, I didn’t think it was real, but my fingers easily recognized the waxy bumps and pores of the skin.
“A moagho,” I muttered in disbelief. They only grew on a small island that was so far away that it was impossible to bring them to the main lands before they rotted. One would have to travel there personally in order to partake of the sweet tang of the citrus fruit. I could never forget the words the wise man told me about moaghos, ‘eat one a day, else ye’ll get scurvy.’ Of course that was a hard thing to do when the ship was too far from the island- we had other foods that prevented scurvy, but moaghos were my favorite.
I should’ve thanked Satel for the rare gift, but I was eager to taste the fruit on my tongue again. I dug my thumbnail into the top to cut the skin and then started pulling it off the juicy center. I only had the patience to pull most of it off before I pried out a slice and put it in my mouth. I closed my eyes as the familiar taste flooded my senses. And as much as I tried not to, old memories came back to me.
In my mind, I could see the sea as far as the horizon and a ship that bore the flag of the Eruda pirates. I was pulled out of my trance when I felt Satel’s hand on my cheek and was then stunned to find that he was wiping away my tears. I didn’t know any had escaped my eyes until then.
“Oh dear… I didn’t mean to make you homesick. I guess it’s been a long while since you’ve last had one.”
“I’m not homesick,” I insisted as I sharply turned away from him. “I never had a home to begin with- I can’t miss what I never had…”
“But a ship can be a home. Don’t you miss the crew?” he inquired idly before he took a slice of moagho and ate it.
“I don’t…want to remember,” I replied as I shook my head. I wanted to say that I didn’t remember my past, but it wasn’t true. I wanted to forget everything- my name, my life, my so-called friends…
“Why not? Bad childhood?” I shook my head again in response to his question.
This was going too far- I should’ve told him to shove it up his ass and leave, but something held me back. Perhaps it was the crappy mood I was already in or maybe it was the moagho that was mellowing me out. I instead chose to reveal something that I hadn’t even admitted to Cegil. “My early days were happy ones, but …something happened. Now all my memories only bring me pain and I just want to forget it all. …And that’s all I’m telling you.”
I wasn’t even sure why Satel earned the right to hear that much. If I were going to reveal everything, then it would be to Cegil. But every time I felt like opening up, I worried about making him feel terrible. His past seemed to be just as messed up- he didn’t need my bad memories to add to his own. I suppose I only said that to him because Satel was trying to pry, unlike Cegil. I wanted to tell the blonde enough so that he would know not to ask anymore.
“Hmph. That won’t do. I don’t want to see you shed more tears over some fruit so I’ll give you a new memory,” the blonde announced as he reached for another slice.
“Oh please… You can’t take away memories and replace them-” I was cut off when the fruit slice was placed in my mouth halfway.
The bastard was fast. Before I could even register what was happening, he was in my face again. I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as his teeth grazed my lips and cut into the half of the moagho that was sticking out. Juice dribbled down my chin as he took his piece into his mouth and chewed while keeping his lips in contact with mine. I was just too stunned to react.
Before I knew it, he swallowed and then ran his tongue around my mouth and chin to capture the escaped liquid. He then used the fact that I wasn’t pulling away as permission to seal his lips more firmly on mine. My chance to wriggle away was lost when his arms wrapped around me to keep me in place. I stayed there frozen like that until my body decided to take over and respond. I bit down on the moagho and quickly consumed it so I could open my mouth and let him in.
I wasn’t sure why I was letting him kiss me. All I knew was that I was forgetting everything as I focused on the feelings he caused within me. I was aware that deep down I was only feeding his ego and that he was probably trying to pull me into this kiss since finding me, but I didn’t care. I was using him to escape for the moment. As my tongue rubbed against his, I eventually realized that Satel tasted like moaghos this morning. He must’ve eaten some beforehand.
When I finally came to my senses, I found that my own hands had slid up his cheeks and threaded through the strands of hair that framed the sides of his face. I somewhat reluctantly pulled away and he only gave me a few seconds of air before he attacked me again. I made a noise to warn him to get off, but he ignored me and placed a hand at the back of my head so I couldn’t pull away again.
At that point, I decided to get rough and gripped his hair tightly enough to cause discomfort. I then used that as leverage to pull his head away from me. He bit me in response. It wasn’t anything painful- his teeth only sank down into my lower lip enough to cause a rather pleasant reaction in the pit of my belly.
“Stop,” I commanded in a breathy tone before he could seal my mouth again. He let out a groan of protest, but did do as I asked. He didn’t back off though- he let his lips trail down my jaw and rest on the side of my neck above the hem of my dress collar.
“Why did you want to stop? It was just starting to get fun,” he said in a near moan.
“We shouldn’t be doing this- I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone,” I replied as I pushed more to get out of his arms. I wasn’t really sure what this was to him- or to me. I didn’t do ‘touchy-feely’ things and I didn’t like getting close to anyone. That’s why I usually hit men physically or emotionally if they tried to get too friendly with me. Everything about a relationship made me feel sick and contact with other humans just rubbed me the wrong way.
…But for some reason, I didn’t feel that way with Satel. Maybe it was because he wasn’t human that I didn’t feel uncomfortable in his arms- or maybe I was justifying in my mind that contact with him was okay because he wasn’t human. Humans didn’t really disgust me physically- I was simply ashamed of their daily stupidity and closed mindedness. But that didn’t mean some falucite didn’t have their moments…on very rare occasions.
Of course, the only reason I got into this mess was because he tricked and coerced me before. I didn’t have an excuse for this time and I had no clue why I allowed it. I should’ve fought him off- I could get away with it since Cegil could easily hear me if I called for help. And while I could admit to admiring the appearance of blondes more than any other type of men from afar, Satel wasn’t some god-like beauty that could hypnotize me into being a submissive lover.
“Who said we were in a relationship?” he wondered after a moment of nuzzling my neck. I wanted to respond to that, but I couldn’t think of the words at the moment. No one implied as such, but I couldn’t prevent the feeling that something was going on between us.
“Well…” I stumbled on my words at first. “…Why do you want to kiss me so much?”
Satel pulled back so he could look at me. His eyes were half-lidded and his mouth was curved into his devilish grin. “Because I enjoy it. Isn’t that why you humans sometimes kiss each other?”
“Uh…” Well, he was right about that, but did that mean falucite did the same thing, too? I would imagine any kind of physical contact would be reserved for their significant other since they were not promiscuous like humans.
“Besides, we’ve only just started dating. It’s too soon to claim we’re in a relationship after only two dates,” he added before my entire body tensed.
“Wait, what?” I screeched out in shock. Since when did we start ‘dating’- and when exactly did we have the first one? Satel started laughing at my reaction, but some part of me wanted to believe that he was just joking about the dating thing. I had just told him I wasn’t interested and I didn’t want anything to progress that far.
I glanced down at the forgotten moagho that managed to roll from my hands to the seam between our joined thighs. I picked it up and placed it in his hands before I made my escape. This was getting way too uncomfortable and I was reduced to speechlessness. I ignored his cajoling plea for me to come back as I stood and quickly walked back to the inn. He didn’t follow after me and a split second later, I had to wonder why I wanted him to.
When I came back to the room, I found Cegil at one of the tables, writing something down with a feather quill pen. He had discarded his long frock on his bed, making his form seem even thinner… for his height. Like with all falucite, he had a trim, average body width, but thanks to his eight-foot height, he just appeared like he was stretched out.
Cegil took one glance at me before he went back to his work. I slowly made my way to my bed and numbly sat down as I tried to process what happened between Satel and I. Was he really serious earlier? How was I supposed to know he was interested in dating me?
“Dantia, I apologize for upsetting you earlier. I will not try to leave you, but should you ever find someone to settle down with, it does not mean you would never see me again. I will always be there for you no matter what you choose,” Cegil eventually said from the table.
I hated to admit it, but I had completely forgotten about the argument. While it did disturb me that we were talking about the matter of my settling down amidst the whole Satel thing, it did make me feel better to know my guardian wasn’t really pushing the subject. Of course, I found out right then that Satel had started it all by admitting that he was interested in me. Cegil was just making sure that I understood I was free to settle down with whomever I chose and that I shouldn’t let him hold me back if anything should happen.
“Wait a minute… you gave him permission to pursue me?” I asked incredulously when it clicked in my mind. I was about to feel like he betrayed me, but he quickly shook his head.
“I told him to do as he pleased so long as you were a willing partner. If you discourage him, he will tire of you soon enough. I highly doubt anything would come of it- you are not the first he has ever courted,” he replied in a light wry tone.
“Really?” I was initially surprised to hear that, but then I recalled Satel mentioning that I was the first human he had ever kissed. I suppose he had been seeing other races before. I soon shook my head as something else nagged at my mind. Most of this wasn’t making sense to me since I knew next to nothing about falucite romances. “But I thought you said that your kind only has one mate? Why is he messing around with other women?”
“We cannot determine a worthy mate by sight alone. It is a matter of getting to know them and discovering if there is any connection with them. You still do not have to worry about him wanting to mate with you unless he decides you are the one. However…” He trailed off as a thought came to him and he frowned some. He then glanced at me for a moment. “I do not believe he is really serious about it. I am under the impression that he is merely trying to make the elders nervous by pretending to defy them. He should have found a mate already if he really wanted one.”
…Great, so Satel really was just using me. Whatever… as long as I wasn’t getting involved in any relationship, then I didn’t really care about that. All I could do was hope that Cegil was right and Satel wasn’t serious about anything. To be safe, I should just make sure that the blonde didn’t get it in his head that I could be a worthy mate. He’ll give up on me and everything would go back to normal…right?
“So I guess I really don’t have anything to worry about then,” I stated as I stared down at my feet. Cegil put down the quill pen and then moved in his seat so that he could face me.
“You need not worry unless you happen to fall for him. If you allow yourself to enjoy his company, you may grow fond of him,” he warned, earning a scoff from me.
“No need to tell me that– I’m too wary of the shady bastard to enjoy anything around him.”
“You are a terrible liar, little falcie,” he retorted in a deadpan voice as he turned back to his work. I gawked at him as I tried to figure out how what I said could possibly be a lie. He then pointed to his head as a sign for me to check the top of mine. “Your lips are bruised and you are wearing his hat. In my clan, that’s a sign of intimacy.”
“…Shit,” I cursed before I reached up to feel that I was indeed still wearing the über hat. Why didn’t Satel stop me…? Oh wait, he did try to and I didn’t listen. What a way to get caught red handed. I soon let my fingers wander to my lips as an afterthought. Cegil wasn’t there when Satel kissed me. I was blindsided and too stunned to react- that didn’t mean I enjoyed it. …Though I still didn’t have a good excuse as to why I didn’t deck him for it.
“Does that mean he’ll show up soon for his hat? I kind of don’t want to face him right now…” I said as I pulled the smart-looking accessory off. I wanted to act like I didn’t acknowledge the kiss or the fact that Cegil knew that I was kissed, but my cheeks felt warm and I knew they were giving away my flustered state. The last thing I wanted to do was go find Satel to give him back his hat or to have him come here and try to flirt with me in front of Cegil.
“Just throw it out the window,” my guardian suggested while gesturing to the space. “The magicks in the hat will return it to its master.”
Sounded easy enough. I had no reason to doubt him, but even if he happened to be joking, throwing it out wasn’t that bad of an idea… Though it was a waste to do so. Why did such a cool hat have to belong to such a jackass? I opened the window before I flung the über hat out by the brim. It hovered in the air for a few seconds before the wind seemed to carry it off to the other side of town. I was a little stunned to see it land in the same area where I had left him. I wondered why he was still there.
I stared outside for a little while longer before I decided to close the window and wander back to my bed. I glanced over at the papers on the table before I changed the subject and finally inquired. “What are you doing, anyway?”
“Trying to plan our next move,” he replied tiredly as his fingers shuffled the pages before him. Sometimes he had to think by writing things down and listing all possible scenarios. He only resorted to doing that when he had a difficult time trying to figure out what to do. That meant the situation we were in was really dire. …But then I kind of knew that, didn’t I?
“Did you come up with anything?” I inquired, hoping that he did have some kind of breakthrough, but he sadly shook his head.
The giant falucite let in a deep breath before he slowly let it out. He suddenly appeared very tired as he did so. “Unfortunately, the only solution I see is to head towards my homeland. Perhaps we can find some way to safely divert from the path on the way, but as of now, I see no safe options. But… starting tomorrow, we shall be avoiding human villages. We shall travel to the heart of the Wastelands and seek out any earth dragons that may dwell there.”
Cegil wanted to seek advice from the ancient ones in hopes of finding a way out of his problem and to prevent Satel from ‘sacrificing’ himself for whatever reason that I still didn’t want to know about. Some part of me didn’t want to find out what ‘kind’ of sacrifice in fear of it being something severe like losing one’s life.
While I wasn’t that close to Satel, I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone dying for the Fates. That was just dumb. …And if not Satel, then Cegil would have to take his place so I really didn’t want to know. It was better if I focused on helping to prevent it from happening altogether.
“Oh great…dragons again,” I muttered under my breath. Humans were a dragon’s favorite food and I was nearly eaten once. Only falucite were considered worth a dragon’s time as an equal so Cegil had to claim ownership of me in order to save my life. I had to wear a silly black collar to show that I was his ‘pet’ while we were among them.
“I apologize- we shall not be in their company for long. We just need information and crossing their paths should throw off any demon spies for a while.”
That was because greater demons were considered pets or slave to dragons. If dragons caught sight of any of the Daedeleth clan’s monsters, they would be captured and forced to serve dragonkyn.
“Well, I’ll endure the stupid collar if visiting those lizards will help you… But if Satel says anything, I can’t promise I won’t deck him,” I announced with a sneer as I reached for my travel bag. I checked my belongings to make sure I still had the thin piece of black leather before I pulled out my nightgown.
“Satel had told me he had other business to tend to for the next few days. We may not see him for a while- perhaps not until we are well past the dragons’ territory,” he informed.
“…Oh,” I said softly in response. So I wouldn’t be seeing him for a while. …Why did that upset me a little? If anything, I should be glad for a break away from that guy. With a sigh, I grabbed my nightgown and headed for the bathroom. “I’m getting dressed for bed. I guess whatever you come up with, I need to get some sleep for it.”
“Indeed. Since we have an ice charm, we do not need to keep our prior schedule, but we should be ready to leave as soon as possible after we prepare for the journey,” he informed me before I entered the adjacent room.
If we were going to avoid human settlements for a while, I suppose we would need the supplies for it. I focused on compiling a list in my mind for what I would need to survive out in the parched wilderness, all while trying not to think about Satel and whatever cruel game he wanted to play with me.
“Here.” Cegil gave me a piece of parchment as we left the inn. “Get everything on this list while I gather other essentials. Meet me at the fountain when you are done.”
I was relieved when I found that he drew pictures of what he wanted. As embarrassing as it was, I didn’t know how to read. Pirates didn’t care about education- all we needed to know was how to man a sea craft and fight off enemies. Cegil offered to teach me before, but we couldn’t carry the tools needed and we seldom had time to sit down for it. He compensated by drawing or reading things out loud for me.
“Wait, what does this mean?” I asked before he could leave. I pointed to the fourth item on the list that looked like a pile of fruits.
“Food,” he clarified before adding, “Get whatever foodstuffs you want that can keep for several days- and be sure to get extra dried fruits.”
Apparently the dried fruits were for Cegil. Come to think of it, Satel ate moaghos so maybe falucite were strict vegetarians or something. But how come I didn’t know this before? I’ve never caught Cegil eating anything when we were together. Perhaps there were other things he could eat that he didn’t want me to know about. Almost everything else ate humans so it was likely that falucite could, too. But… I was never gone from his side long enough for him to kill and eat a whole human- not even a small child.
I parted ways with my guardian and went over to whatever shops that had the items on the list. I couldn’t stop thinking about falucite diets as I pondered what Cegil could’ve been eating behind my back. I really should’ve just asked, but I was too embarrassed to do it. I’ve been with him for seven years- I should’ve already known the answer. When I thought back on it, I remembered the few times we went to taverns together. He could also drink ale and wine, which would support the vegetarian theory since both beverages were made from some kind of plant.
Because I was so wrapped up in my wonderings, I ended up finishing my chore in no time and was ready to head to the meeting place. But before I could head in the direction, someone deliberately brushed against me and tried to knock me over. I knew it was on purpose because there wasn’t much of a crowd out on the streets and the person was clearly paying attention.
I glared back at the offender and found that he or she was smirking back at me from under the shadows of the hood that covered him. The black clad person didn’t stop walking and continued on, away from me.
“…Satel?” I called out, momentarily thinking that it was him. I hated to admit it, but I recognized those thin lips. But something was off- they were a little pinker than I remembered and the person was much shorter than he was.
I first checked my self to ensure that I still had my crijok. The person was not a pickpocket and I couldn’t imagine why else he or she would run into me. Curious, I ended up following the stranger and quickly found that was just what they wanted. I stopped short when the person turned a corner and walked down a small alley between two buildings.
I was curious, but I wasn’t stupid. That had to be some poor attempt at an ambush and I refused to fall into it. I shook my head and turned on my heel with the intent to walk away and find Cegil, but I let out a shout when I found the stranger was suddenly standing behind me.
It was definitely a woman- I could see a hint of feminine curves under the black hooded coat she wore. What’s more- this woman was an Oracle. She held a giant crystal ball in her black-gloved hands and the coat had the same gold trimmings and embroidery designs that symbolized a child of the Fates. But there was something off about her. Oracles wore white, not black, and while there was no ‘proper’ size to what kind of crystal balls they used, hers was much too big and heavy looking to be something for an average woman to handle. Not only that- the diviners were not supposed to walk around with them. They were supposed to stay on some kind of special stand to prevent the chance of breaking.
“What is your name?” she asked in a tone that was neither pleasant nor malicious. She was all business and sounded like she was in too much of a hurry to waste time with me. But here she was talking with me anyway- she was very strange.
“I don’t want my fortune told,” I told her in annoyance. I didn’t hate her in particular, but I still had bad blood with her kind. The last thing I wanted was to be reminded of the fate that had yet to befall me.
“What is your name?” she repeated, mirroring my tone. Whoever she was, she was damned insistent- like someone else I knew. I couldn’t see her face through the shadows of her hood, but I could see those familiar lips and strands of platinum blonde hair falling from her head and resting on the top of her chest. Was it a coincidence that she had similar features to Satel? Was she even falucite? I couldn’t tell, but I thought that there were no such things as a falucite Oracle. Only humans had the ability to hear the Fates.
“Isn’t it customary to introduce yourself first? I don’t give my name to strangers,” I hissed out in a warning voice.
I was a little impressed when she moved her crystal ball and easily supported it in one arm. She then pointed accusingly at me with her freed hand. “Human who is named after the dead! You are an unknown anomaly and a threat to the Order of the Fates! Any creature loyal to the Order must destroy you… therefore, your survival is paramount.”
I stared at her for a long time. In just that little speech, I heard more nonsense than I could pick up from a drunk. ‘Named after the dead’, ‘unknown anomaly’, and I must be defeated and saved? None of that made sense- it was all a contradiction. Even as far removed as I was from the worship of the Fates, I knew what unknown anomalies were. They were beings who the Fates didn’t know about and couldn’t predict, but I received my reading just fine when I was fourteen (even if it was read by different means). I couldn’t be an unknown.
“I’m sorry…what?” I inquired in exasperation as I rubbed at my head slightly. “I think you shouldn’t play Oracle until you know what you’re talking about.”
She chose to ignore me. “The Daedeleth ever creep, lurking close to your shadow. Never let them learn your given name. You would do best to go by your true name.”
“Not happening, lady. I don’t want anything to do with your happy little Fate-dictated world.”
“Very well. At least heed my warning- and tell he who resembles a mountain that the fanatics seek to capture you. Your failure to die has them desiring to use you as a hostage. An attack in the Wastelands is highly probable,” she responded as she turned away from me and began walking away.
She took a few steps before she paused and glanced back at me over her shoulder, “In case you are as dimwitted as you appear- I was referring to Cegil. I was giving you a warning, not a reading.”
“Why I outta…” I growled as I glared at her, but my ire faded instantly when she disappeared right before my eyes. She was a falucite. How was that possible?
I quickly ran to the fountain and found Cegil waiting for me. He had supplies for setting camp outdoors and a few other things for survival, but I wasn’t in the mind to care about them at the moment. He noticed me quickly and tilted his head at the urgent appearance on my face. “What did Satel do to you this time?”
“Satel?” I echoed in confusion, temporarily distracted. “I didn’t see him.”
“Are you certain? I smelled his presence a moment ago,” he replied appearing slightly concerned. Falucite didn’t have individual smells, they all had a collective ‘clan smell’ that defined what family they were apart of. If Satel truly wasn’t here, then that lady had to be…
“I think I just ran across one of your relatives. She just warned me about the Daedeleth and said they could attack out in the Wastelands,” I told him, too worried about his well-being to question that lady’s intentions.
But as I really thought about it, I began to realize that I could’ve been overreacting. I didn’t have any real proof that she was an Oracle. She could’ve been faking it- after all, she didn’t make sense and she wasn’t dressed as a normal fortune-teller. I suppose there was no real crime in dressing like one as long as they didn’t try to give readings to people.
“…What did she look like?” he inquired curiously after his eyes widened slightly in shock. I gave as accurate a description I could, which was hard considering that I didn’t get a good look at her face. But at the mention of the Oracle costume, his eyes expressed even more shock than before.
“This cannot be,” he whispered to himself worriedly. It was clear he knew who I was talking about and he didn’t like it. Cegil soon gave me a curt nod and started walking at his normal pace. “Come Dantia- we must leave immediately!”
“Uh, okay,” I stammered as I nearly ran to keep up with his long legged strides. His reaction scared me- just who was that lady and why did she approach me and not Cegil?
I had a bad feeling about this and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the warning. There was something about that woman that really bothered me. Could we really trust her words when Cegil didn’t even trust his clan? I couldn’t believe I was even thinking this, but some part of me wished that Satel were here. At least we could trust him to some extent. Why did he have to be gone at a time like this?