A short while later he felt a warm slender hand on his shoulder and without talking he moved forwards a little, letting Selera sit behind him. Resting her back against the wall of the forecastle, she placed her legs to either side of his and drew him back against her, her arms around him from behind, his head resting on her chest. He could feel her sigh.
‘We are much alike, Ven. We seek solitude when we need release.’
‘Do you think they can hear us?’ he asked quietly.
She smiled sadly, looking up, ‘In some part of me, I hope so, because like you, I have said so much to the stars in the heavens. Talking to our parent’s spirits about my day, or asking them if I am doing the right things. Or just telling them that I miss them.’
‘Are we strange to do this?’ he asked.
She laughed despairingly, ‘No Ven, far from it. I think that putting it into words and speaking like they can hear, helps. At the very least, it helps us heal.’
Groyven nestled back against her, feeling her arms wrap around him in a comforting embrace.
‘Have they pulled Illias out of the water yet?’ he asked absently.
‘Yes, I heard he is a little worse for wear and has some bruises, but I think the main injuries are to his ego, nothing more. Did you see what happened?’
Groyven nodded, ‘He said some things that Sialin felt were inappropriate. So she slapped him down and threw him overboard.’
Selera nodded, ‘She doesn’t suffer fools lightly, especially those she warns first. If Illias is not careful and doesn’t stop his advances she may truly get angry. Then we may be fishing pieces out of the water.’
‘But, she just grabbed him and threw him, not pushed, threw. She is so strong.’ Groyven said in awe.
He could feel Selera’s nod, ‘She’s a Fyrelf.’ she said in a factual tone, before continuing, ‘Did you have a good time this afternoon? I heard from Sialin that she taught you the basics of airflow and current manipulation. She says you have a natural talent.’
Groyven nodded, but stayed quiet, a thought playing on his mind, ‘Are we leaving the Enclave?’
Selera looked down at her brother, her voice soft, ‘Yes. As soon as I have delivered the item we acquired today and tied up some loose ends. We should be leaving within a week. Preferably before dawn breaks, the day after tomorrow.’
‘Lera, I want to see the places that Sialin told me of, the mountains, forests and rivers.’ he said.
Selera gave him a little squeeze, ‘There is a lot ahead of us Ven. When we return home, we will have to organise your rooms.’
‘I will have my own room?’ he said in surprise.
‘If you wish for it. You and your sister may be twins, you may share almost everything, but you need a private place to yourself. Now more than ever.’ Selera said, redirecting some of his errant hairs absently.
Groyven sat quietly for a moment, gathering his thoughts and half-faded memories, ‘Does the Captain live there too? I think I remember him from home, he had lightning in his hands?’
Selera smiled, ‘Do you like the Captain?’
Groyven nodded, ‘He is a good man.’ he turned to look at her over his shoulder, ‘Lera, is the Captain, is he your…’
Selera rested her chin gently on the top of his head and sighed.
‘I found your necklace today on the floor; I placed it under his pillow while you were studying that thing. You can tell me, are you and the Captain?’ he let the question trail off.
‘Perceptive.’ she commented quietly.
‘That is what he said.’ said Groyven.
Selera leaned back, resting against the wall, ‘Yes, we are. We have been for several years now, we exchanged our vows when the both of you were babes. I think you can understand why I have not mentioned it yet.’
Groyven nodded slowly, ‘I understand. She doesn’t see. She is always so angry. She wasn’t like this before the accident.’
Selera sighed again.
Groyven turned in her grasp, hugging her tightly, ‘Lera, she doesn’t mean it. She has just got it in her head that you and the Captain are trying to replace Mother and Father. She is so afraid she will lose the memory of them.’
She looked down at him, ‘What do you feel, Ven?’
He released his grip and thought for a moment, ‘Mother and Father will always be in my heart, but they are gone, nothing will change that. You came for us and you are trying your best, but you are not them. You are my older sister, and I love you.’
‘I love you too, Ven.’ the words catching a little in her throat.
Groyven looked up, immediately noticing the glistening reflection of tears in Selera’s eyes.
‘She can’t keep doing this forever; she just needs a little more time. Once we are away from here and the Enclave, the closer we get to home, she will start to see. And if she doesn’t, I will make her see.’ he said more to himself, then to his sister.
Selera looked down at him and the resolve in his eyes, ‘You will do nothing of the sort, Groyven. Be her ally. Don’t force her. It will take some time and as much as it hurts, I am ready for it.’
Groyven looked at her for a moment, before nodding and turning to look out again at the dark and calm waters. For a while there was companionable silence.
Selera spoke quietly, ‘Thank you, Ven. I am trying, but it is hard.’
They sat there for a time, Selera’s arms around him, holding him close.
‘What is that thing we got from the one-handed man today, the thing you were looking at when I was with the Captain?’ he asked.
‘It is our ticket to freedom.’
Groyven pondered her words for a moment, ‘Yes, but what actually is it?’
Selera took a deep breath, ‘From what I have read so far, it is supposed to be a key or a device that allows one to pass through a gateway or door to a mirror or parallel universe. Maybe, even like teleporting to different parallel timeline to our own, where everything is similar but different.’ she paused momentarily, thinking, ‘Mother and Father found documents, but the translations of the notes are vague and incomplete. It was the final piece they were researching. Once I hand it over to the Chancellor; Mother and Father’s debt will be paid in full and we will be finally free to leave. Then I can take the two of you away from this wretched hellhole and back to our real home.’
‘Our real home?’ Groyven asked.
‘Yes, the Enclave maybe all you have ever known, but it was only meant to be temporary. Our real home was closer to our people. It is high in a valley nestled in the arms of a mountain, you probably wouldn’t remember much of it; you were too young. This place was a job that they could not pass up.’
‘I want to see it.’ Groyven said.
A sudden flash of light blossomed off the port side of the bow, deep shades of violet and aqua skipping over the surface of the water before sinking below the waves as they lost momentum.
Selera straightened, moving to get up, ‘A signal?’
Groyven looked to her, ‘It is from Sialin, to let me know that Tiff has calmed down.’
‘Tiffaniel is raging again?’ Selera asked.
Groyven stayed quiet.
‘Ven, did she hurt you?’ Selera asked with concern.
‘She started throwing things, she didn’t mean to, she just…’
Selera immediately ran her hands through Groyven’s hair, quickly finding the lump on his scalp, ‘Groyven?’
‘She didn’t mean to, it was an accident.’
‘Brother, you have to stop making excuses for her. If you insist, I will let it go this time. Next time…’ she let the thought linger.
‘I insist, Lera. It was an accident.’ he said, his voice steady and calm.
Selera shook her head slowly as she felt him rest back against her, she felt strangely proud of his response, ‘Is that why you are up on deck? Because of Tiff?’
Groyven nodded, ‘I came to talk to you, and Sialin saw me and we talked a little, then she threw Illias overboard.’
Selera frowned, ‘Ven? Did you see the Captain and I?’
Groyven twisted a little, ‘No, I, well…’
‘No more peeking, understand?’
Groyven sat silently, ‘Yes, Lera. I came to the door and I just heard movement. So I looked through the keyhole, and you know…I saw. I wasn’t peeking because I was sneaking around.’
She smiled, shaking her head at his frankness, deciding to speak in kind, ‘It is what adults do when they love each other.’ Selera said unabashedly, tousling Groyven’s hair.
‘Did Mother and Father do that?’
Selera laughed, ‘Of course they did! Without them doing that; you, Tiffaniel or even myself wouldn’t have existed. Once, I walked in on them. After you and your sister were born they said I was their good luck charm, that my presence blessed them with twins.’
Groyven thought for a moment, ‘Are you wanting to make a baby?’
‘No, not yet.’
‘Then, why do you do that?’ he asked out of curiosity.
Selera chuckled, tousling his hair again, ‘When you are older, you will understand. It is nothing to worry about for now.’
Groyven nodded with an embarrassed smile.
‘Lera, what will happen after we leave here?’ he said, changing the topic.
Selera smiled, ‘Even though it is at the most, only a couple of days away it can’t happen soon enough. We will return down the coast, you will see the land gradually change off the starboard side. If possible, we will make port at a few places on the way back.’
‘We can see different places?’ asked Groyven hopefully.
‘If all is well, you and Tiff can accompany Sialin and myself if we have enough time to explore. Once we have ventured far enough down the coast we will take the Fiddle up a broad river.’
Selera nodded, ‘Yes, among the mountains. We will take her back home. The Captain wants to put her in the dry dock to work her over during the end of Autumn and through winter. This hot air and relentless sunlight has been an issue for her, she needs refitting and her masts need replacing. She wasn’t made for this heat.’ Selera patted the deck affectionately.
‘Usually, the crew rest through winter, but they have not had down time in over one and a half years. We are all looking forward to returning home, visiting family and getting some rest.’
She paused for a moment, ‘Our parent’s home is now ours. The Captain and I, along with Sialin have lived there while Mother and Father were here. He has suggested that when we return, he will stay with the ship to give the four of us some space.’
Groyven looked at her, ‘Lera, what is the Captain’s name?’
‘His name?’ she laughed quietly, ‘The crew has a rule, when on board and abroad he is only referred to as the Captain. We only use his name when we are on home soil and on down time. He has told me that the first thing he will do when we disembark is introduce himself properly to the both of you. You will then meet who he truly is, I am sure it will bring back memories.’
‘It is because of Tiff, isn’t it? She acts so selfishly.’
Selera looked at him in understanding, ‘Ven, our sister is not just afraid, she is terrified. You have always used logic and reasoning to look at a situation from all angles before you act. She just copes differently, she lets emotion guide her and her reactions. It may be getting close to a year, but every change makes it feel like she is taking a step further away from our parents, and everything she knows. All she can do is cling to her twin. She doesn’t like it, but she is seeing you change too and she is fighting it. I am just hoping that with us leaving here and the change of scenery she realises and accepts that the world moves on, regardless of her feelings and wants.’
Selera touched his shoulder, motioning for him to face her, ‘But there is one thing that I can speak with certainty about. I am proud of you, Ven. Mother and Father are proud of you. Wherever they are, another life, out there amongst the stars or even within the halls of the gods, they are proud of the mature young man you have become.’ she watched as tears streamed silently down his face, her voice catching a little, ‘They love you, I love you. And your twin, no matter how difficult she is being. She loves you too. I am not proud to admit it little brother, but you have been my rock through everything that has happened since then. I look at you and I see your quiet strength that is beyond your age and I measure myself against it.’
She smiled brokenly, hugging him before pulling back and wiping at his tears, ‘See what I have done? I made both of us cry.’
Groyven smiled at her and she laughed quietly.
‘Now, little brother. It is well past your bedtime. So let’s go and see if our sister has calmed enough, or if you are lucky she is already asleep.’
‘Lera, thank you.’
She looked down at him, ruffling his hair with a smile before leading him back up onto the main deck and guided him through the pools of lantern light to the stairs of the lower decks.