The light was fading fast as the last dregs of a summer dusk bled into night. A couple of the crewmen were making the rounds, lighting lanterns. Groyven absently listened to the creak of the sails above as he walked along the deck, carrying a small basket at his side. In the end he had stayed with Sialin for the rest of the afternoon. After she had taught him the basics of how to observe and manipulate air currents, he had eaten supper with her on the deck as they had talked. He thought distractedly about the wash of the sunset over her face as she spoke to him, her words coming back clear as if she had just uttered them.
‘You remind me of someone I met years ago, Little Prince. It is hard to explain, but you share similarities to him. Maybe it is my memory shifting, or the distance of time. He was so determined, direct and yet at the same time a mystery. I was instantly taken by him.’ she looked out at the sea as the sun touched the waves.
‘You have potential, Little Prince. In a few years you could have power like he did. If you focus on mastering those strands in the thread, you could be a force of nature. I would like to guide you, Groyven. To help you on that path.’ she said.
Groyven’s curiosity was piqued, ‘Was he like us? Did he have a thread like us?’
She rested her head on her hand and looked at him, ‘Inquisitive; you wish to hear of your competition?’
She smiled teasingly as he blushed again, ‘He might. It does not matter if he does or not. He caught my heart. He set a level of quality in a man that I refuse to look below. I am determined to find him again.’ she said while stretched.
‘But what happens if you don’t find him?’ asked Groyven.
Sialin looked at him, her amber eyes flickering with blue flame, ‘If I don’t?’ she smiled, meeting his eyes, ‘Then I wait until a man worthy of my affection presents himself. I have high and strict standards that I refuse to bow down to.’
Groyven straightened slightly, a movement that she did not miss, a smile grew on her face and in her eyes.
‘Regardless, that is all in the future.’ She chuckled to herself, musing, ‘For all we know, it could even be you. Grow in mind, body and spirit; overcome his shadow, and I would happily…wait.’ she looked at Groyven, his face flushed red and with the glow of the setting sun it looked like he had set himself on fire.
Something turned over inside of her; she frowned, quickly glancing at the distant coastline, feeling the breath catch in her throat.
Turning back to Groyven, she smiled again, ‘But, why am I telling you all of this, Little Prince? Have you charmed me so, that I have become so loose with my thoughts?’ she ruffled his hair and gave him a warm hug.
The basket bumped at his leg as he walked. He could still feel her embrace, warm and lingering, her scent on his clothes. He shook his head, trying to clear it. His newfound knowledge and understandings in his skills had spent most of his energy, to the point that even his movements seemed slow in the oppressively warm evening air. Reaching the stairs that headed below deck nearby the captain’s cabin, he descended. He made his way, his back to the crew that were setting up for the night.
Passing along a short passage, there were a series of doors that lead to some small private rooms, each with a berth. Set for private passengers, they were for the spell runners’ and the first mate’s use when the Fiddle was free of those paying for passage. The final door led to his and Tiffaniel’s room that they shared. It was the largest, by a fraction. He slowly opened the door, being careful to not disturb his sister if she was sleeping. She was sitting on the bed, her back against the wall, staring at the open door in the darkness. Groyven reached and lit the lamp, bathing the room in a soft glow. Tiffaniel’s eyes reflected that light as she stayed in the shadows of the corner.
‘Tiff, I brought some food for you. Darius said that he hadn’t seen you after your lesson, so I thought you might still be sleeping.’ he said, his back still turned.
‘What took you so long, Ven?’ Tiffaniel said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Groyven unpacked the basket and laid its contents on the small table that he had folded down from the wall, ‘I was talking with Sialin, I now know why we both have such trouble with the small things. I will show you.’
He turned and smiled at her.
She shrunk back a little, ‘Really? All that time with Sialin?’ she said in a small, but guarded voice, ‘I understand. She is…’
‘Did you know that she can make the ship move against the wind, as if it were with the wind? She taught me how. I think you can do the same thing Tiff. See, we have…’
‘Can you stop talking? I don’t want to know, I don’t care what you talked about with her.’
‘Tiff?’ Groyven asked, concerned.
‘Why is everything so easy for you?’
‘Tiff, what is wrong? Easy? For me?’ he looked at her with a confused expression.
‘I hate it that no one gets angry with you.’ she said from the shadows, the bite in her voice clear.
Groyven looked at her as she moved a little, ‘Tiff?’
‘I hate that everyone is trying to be nice. I hate that you are listening to them. You should be listening to me, I am your twin sister. Our parents would not agree with this, these people are trying to act like them. Trying to take us away from them, away from here.’
Groyven stood, his brows furrowed, pain in his eyes.
‘Ven, can’t you see it? They are trying to take you away from me.’ she said, her voice cracking with a quavering edge.
‘Tiff, why are you doing this?’ asked Groyven guardedly.
‘He is not our father, Groyven. No matter how much he acts the way he does, he is not father. And Selera is our sister, not our mother. Before Mother and Father died, we barely saw her, we barely knew her. She was just a name, distant and not even a proper memory.’
Groyven sat on the edge of the bed, watching her, ‘She had her own life Tiff, she is over fifteen years older than us. She came because she is family. She is not trying to replace Mother, she is trying her best to raise us as our elder sister. She lost her parents too.’
Tiffaniel’s voice grew shrill and took on a hysteric edge, ‘And the Captain, who does he think he is? Trying to act like Father. Trying to…’
Groyven stood, anger growing in his voice, ‘He is right, you are not ready to understand. You open your mouth and attack those who love you, instead of opening your ears and eyes. He is protecting us. She is protecting us. The whole crew are protecting us. They are all keeping us safe. We know nothing of the world outside of the Enclave and the ruins that Mother and Father dragged us to. We know nothing, sister.’
‘You are right, you know nothing. You don’t know what I am thinking. Nobody does.’ said Tiffaniel in a quiet, aggressive tone.
Groyven’s face screwed itself up at his sister’s incredulity, ‘I don’t know? We are twins Tiff, we have shared everything since before we were born. You are angry with Mother and Father, that they left us. You are frustrated because you feel that Selera and the Captain are trying to replace Mother and Father. That nobody understands your pain.’
‘I…I, won’t let them.’ said Tiffaniel in denial.
‘They are not trying to; they are trying to help us if you would let them. You should let Selera tell us about our parents, retell her memories of them and our time together. You like to forget, she lost her parents too. But she still has us, and we have her. She is trying so hard to make it easier, even when she is in pain.’ Groyven said, finding it hard to believe what he was hearing.
‘She got to you, she…’ said Tiffaniel with a shrill voice.
‘No sister, she did not get to me, I respect that our elder sister uprooted her life to take care of us. She brought the Captain, the crew and the ship here, expecting it to be only a week or two. But they all have been stuck here for nearly a year. They are all doing this for her and for us. Like it or not, Tiff, Selera is our elder sister and our guardian, without her, we would have been split up and sent to an orphanage, or be living off scraps as street urchins, or dead.’ he said, rounding on her, ‘She showed us that we have powers, something that was hidden from us. Without her, we wouldn’t even have that.’
‘I don’t want to talk to you, you are not my brother, I hate you. You are letting them replace Mother and Father. I won’t let them, I won’t be like you, I won’t forget my parents.’ she said with acid in her voice.
Groyven nodded, his movements slow. A deep throbbing roar slowly built in his ears as he struggled to breathe. Tiffaniel was screaming at him, but he couldn’t hear her words, just the sound of his heart beating and the terrible roaring in his head. Hot, burning tears came to his eyes and ran down his cheeks as Tiffaniel started throwing things at him. He slowly willed his feet and legs into movement, backing away towards the door, one arm up guarding his face and the other reaching for the latch.
‘Get out! I hate you! I hate her!’ Tiffaniel screamed, throwing the basket he brought.
It crashed into the door as he closed it. Leaning against the wall, he calmed his breathing. Fighting back tears, small tendrils of steam rising from him as he forcibly took deep breaths. He twitched involuntarily as he heard Tiffaniel raging in their shared room. He looked down the short passage as a door opened, the first mate Darius emerged and beckoned to him to come closer.
‘I am so sorry, Darius. She…’ Groyven stopped as Darius held up a hand to shush him.
The first mate nodded, putting a large hand on Groyven’s shoulder, ‘Don’t worry, Master Groyven, I have first watch at the helm anyhow.’
He closed the door behind him and led Groyven out and up the stairs to the deck and back into the night air.
They stopped in the shadows, Darius turning to Groyven and speaking, ‘Try not to worry ‘bout that sister of yours, I accidentally overheard. Well said, lad. She just needs more time, she’ll come about and true in the end. Though, I heard she got frosty with Sialin this afternoon and got put in her place. I’ll keep an eye out from the helm, walk it off. Listen to the sounds of the waves off the prow, it is calming. Now go, boy.’
Groyven nodded numbly as he watched Darius make his way to the helm. His steps wavering as he still shook with nerves and pent up anger. After a few moments of listening to the wind in the rigging, he found himself walking in the direction of the Captain’s cabin. Standing in a pool of light thrown by a lantern, he sighed deeply before approaching the doors that led to the Captain’s quarters. He moved to knock, but stilled his hand as he heard movement in the room beyond. He frowned somewhat as he couldn’t hear voices.
Groyven bent and looked though the keyhole, the room blurry until he could see clearly. Noticing movement, he changed his angle to see his elder sister, Selera. She was in a state of undress, her jet-black hair falling around her as she straddled the Captain. Leaning down, kissing him passionately and moving in time to his movements. Groyven could see her breasts shake as she shuddered, her back arched. A brief moment later she started moving again, her breath in short gasps with her hands on the Captain’s chest. Suddenly, her face was clear as it turned slightly; her blue eyes piercing as she looked at the door.