Groyven pulled away, stumbling backward before slipping into the shadows, certain he had been seen somehow. He was sure that Selera hadn’t seen him, but it felt like she had. For the briefest of moments he was looking directly into her eyes as she looked at the door. He carefully backed away until he was closer to the steps up to the helm.
Goyven jumped as he heard a smooth and quiet voice, close behind him.
‘You do know, Little Prince, spying on the Captain and the company he keeps is an offence around here.’
Groyven quickly turned, meeting Sialin’s eyes as she sat on the stairs, her legs crossed as she leaned back, watching him through the railing. Groyven looked at her, his eyes wide and posture guilty.
‘I did something wrong, Sialin?’
She leaned forwards, an eyebrow raised and a smile forming, ‘Of course you did, but if you tell me what you saw, I may change my mind.’
‘I saw the Captain and Selera talking.’ he said almost too easily.
She leaned in even further, whispering now, ‘They weren’t, doing anything, you know, that adults do?’
Groyven looked at her curiously as she smiled broadly, her eyes twinkling, catching the light, ‘I am just jesting, Little Prince. Why are you up here at this time? I would think you would be exhausted after everything I put you through this afternoon.’ she reached out and touched his cheek, frowning as she felt the last traces of moisture from his tears under her fingertips.
She frowned and descended the stairs, ‘Is the Firebrand raging again? I would have thought that she would have had enough by now. We can talk, Little Prince, if you need to.’ her voice filled with concern as she embraced him.
Groyven shook his head, ‘I will be fine, this helps though.’ he said, returning Sialin’s smile.
‘I know you miss them, I do too, for the short while I knew them. Any time you need to feel safe, my arms are yours.’ she said with a wink.
A man’s voice reached their ears as the slender and wiry form of Illias ascended the stairs from below deck, but a few yards away.
‘Lucky boy Groyven, or should I say man? To have such a vixen as Sialin offering herself to you.’ he stopped in front of them, leaning against the railing, his elven chest bare and tightly muscled.
‘Did you forget something, Illias? Like common decency? There are children aboard who you could learn from.’ Sialin said sharply.
‘You don’t complain about the other men running around deck all day with barely a shirt in sight.’
Sialin laughed at him, ‘Right there is the difference! They are doing their job, while you are slinking around trying to pose for the women! I am sure it works out well for you.’
He looked at her with a sour expression, ‘It only seems to work on the docks.’
She snickered, ‘Where the fine ladies part you from your coin?’
He held up his hands, ‘By the gods, Sialin! There is no need to be so harsh with my pride.’
Sialin tutted, ‘Did I wound that fragile ego? You should know better than to parade yourself in front of me like this.’
He chuckled, ‘I wasn’t parading, but lesson learned. No parading half-dressed aboard ship. Groyven, take note of the lesson for tonight, don’t do as I do, do as Sialin says.’ he finished sarcastically.
Illias looked out across the deck to the distant coast in the darkness, ‘I swear, you and your sister, your temperaments are the opposite of your powers. She’s raging again, throwing things around.’ he looked at Groyven, who was still caught in Sialin’s embrace, ‘Son, you have nerves of steel to withstand her tempers like you do. She may be your sister, your twin. But,’ he noticed Sialin’s shake of the head.
‘I think it is better this way, Sialin. A cool, mature for the age, head controlling that which burns is safer. Could you imagine?’ he said, changing the focus.
‘I could Illias, she would have unintentionally burnt our home to the waterline many a time.’ agreed Sialin.
‘I see the question on your face Groyven. Don’t worry, she is just venting some of that pent up rage on the ship.’ he looked to Sialin, ‘Remind me to congratulate Selera on that enchantment, it is still working.’
‘That sound-deadening one?’ confirmed Sialin.
‘Sound deadening?’ asked Groyven.
Sialin nodded her head, ‘She casts it on all the sleeping areas, including your cabin. Makes everything private, conversations, arguments, screams, sighs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the sound of things being bashed against the ship’s innards though.’
‘I am sorry, Illias. Your cabin is beside ours?’ asked Groyven.
‘It is nothing to worry about, Groyven. I was awake anyway and as it turns out, it is such a beautiful night. A shame to be indoors with the bright light of our patron moon above, caressing the waves of the ocean around us. It is almost magical, do you not agree Sialin?’
‘You can stop with that type of talk there, Illias.’ rebuked Sialin.
She hugged Groyven again before pushing him to arms-length and meeting his eyes, ‘Little Prince, go for a walk, find a quiet place up at the prow where we spent the afternoon and drink in the salty air, settle your mind and focus it, sharpen it.’ she put a hand on his chest, ‘If you can conquer this pain in here, you can defeat even the most battle-hardened.’
‘But Tiff?’ said Groyven.
‘Who? The Firebrand with the heart of ice? She just needs time to see the truth before her. We will be leaving for home soon, back down the coast. Where it is green and lush; where you can walk amongst the snows in winter. Far away from this place, where the pain of memories dwell at every corner. We are heading to a land of wonder and mystery. Just wait until she sees the gentle snows falling around her, with her powers she will feel like she belongs.’
Groyven looked at her, hearing the promise in her voice as she spoke.
‘What do you see for me, Sialin?’
She smiled gently, ‘I see adventure, your fire does not blossom from sand and hot dry winds. It grows from fuel and fresh air. Wait until you see your flames being stoked by cool and crisp breezes, where it warms cold hands and hearts alike. Where rivers run in the valleys where the mountains meet, where the land is blanketed by forests and alive with life.’
Illias smirked, ‘That is quite a romantic image you are painting, I thought you liked the weather here, Sialin?’
She glared at Illias and spoke to Groyven, ‘I detest this weather. People have this misconception that Fyrelves like the heat and the sun. But the truth is; it is terrible for my skin. Before, I was the colour of amber lilies at sunset. Now, I look like the charred remains of dinner from a week past. I am so brown, I am almost the black of bitter chocolate.’
‘It is not a bad look, Sialin.’ quipped Illias.
She raised an eyebrow, a sharp look in her eyes, ‘Really? It is on me. Trust you to say this now, Illias. I know you have a fondness for the chocolate from back home, I see you are still hoping to taste some tonight? I think not, no matter how hard you try. Never.’ she said, putting him down again.
‘Why so harsh? I was just complimenting your…’ said Illias, his hands out wide.
‘Your compliments and sly words can go elsewhere. Oh, is that disappointment on your face? Find some pretty, ignorant thing to charm with your silvered tongue. Oh, a shame it is, there are plenty who are pretty but none aboard who are ignorant to your ways.’ the aggression raising in her voice.
She leaned in close, whispering directly to Groyven’s ear, ‘Little Prince, go, take in the sounds and smells of the sea off the desert and weave it into a memory. Do not worry about your sister, she hasn’t yet realised that no one can replace the memories of your parents, no one can take their place, no matter how hard they try. She only fears the feelings that are creeping into her heart. Go, I have a small matter to attend to.’ she said as she looked menacingly over his shoulder at Illias, ‘A very minor matter.’
Groyven nodded, ‘Thank you, Sialin.’
She smiled at him, ‘Good night, Little Prince. Calm your thoughts, I will light a spell before the prow when the Firebrand has calmed. Go, think of the adventure before you, let the adults here take care of the rest.’ she quickly dragged him into a reassuring hug and kissed his forehead.
‘Go Little Prince. Calm your raging thoughts.’ she said after him as he started away.
‘Incredible! You are kissing him too? Sialin, please?’ Groyven heard Illias say before he heard a sharp crack, a dull thud and a groan.
As Sialin’s voice reached him, he could hear her muted frustration and anger, ‘There is something else that many don’t understand about me and my Fyrelf kin. Here Illias, let me give you a personal demonstration.’
Groyven turned and watched as Sialin slapped the now prone Illias again, his head once again hitting the deck, hard. As he shook his head, dazed, she quickly grabbed a rope, securing one end to a belaying pin and then looped and knotted the other end around his ankle. She roughly grabbed him by an arm and the front of his belt and with surprising strength, hoisted him into the air and in one swift movement, threw him overboard. Groyven smiled, trying not to laugh at what he had just witnessed, as he heard Illias’s cry and then a loud splash off the stern, port side.
He watched on as she leapt up the steps to the helm as the First Mate Darius’s voice rang out, ‘Man overboard, port side!’
A couple of the crew on deck ran past Groyven as he heard Darius yell out again, ‘Forget it, all’s well, he can get himself back up here.’
As the two men started to pull at the rope that Sialin had set, Darius came to their side, ‘Take your time reeling him in, boys. Lest you feel like angering the lady.’
At Darius’s words, Groyven heard some hearty chuckling and they nodded to Sialin as she passed them, ‘Make sure you let it slip a few times, I want him to think you are fishing.’ she said.
Again, there was even more laughter as they slowed.
Groyven turned from the spectacle and made his way along the same path he had taken with Selera earlier in the day. The wild look in Tiffaniel’s eyes haunting his every step. Reaching the railing of the forecastle he took to the ladder and descended to the deck below. He settled on a spot behind the figurehead of the wolf. Sitting on the deck, he looked out at the dark sea before them and the visceral scene of the wolf like it was standing strong, alone and in defiance of the forces of the oceans it traversed. Occasional salty mist from the spray off the keel as it split the waves, washed up and over him, cooling the air around him. Leaning back, he stopped holding back the tears and quietly cried. His chest drawing deep breaths and letting out silent sobs as it overcame him.
He looked up at the moon and the stars in the sky above, their light blurred by his tears.
‘I wish you were here, I wish I could feel both of your arms around me one more time.’ he cried out brokenly, ‘I wish, I wish I could tell you I love you.’
He broke down into tears as he sat, crying, his words coming out brokenly at a half-whisper, ‘Mother, Father, I love you. Why were you taken away from us? Why is sister hurting me?’