“Aurora dolphins are a rare sight in the Wanderers Narrow,”
My gaze lazily traveled to my left. Caleb stood beside me. A grin on his face with the moonlight making his hair look literally ablaze. His loose-fitting shirt flapped in the brisk wind. His arms were neatly folded across his back.
My eyes went back to the dolphins whose bodies were a mix of purples, blues, and greens. With each jump into the air, their bodies became illuminated by the full moon. Their high-pitched clicks could faintly be heard over the boisterous party happening on the deck.
The Honor In Arms always celebrated new recruits. The more there were, the bigger the celebration. Six new people had joined, so the party would likely occur over two nights. It was obnoxious, but they honestly helped the new recruits feel included.
“They aren’t hard to find if you can imitate their whistles,”
“So, it was you who called out to them,”
I slowly nodded my head while some of my hair fell into my eyes. Rising back up to my full height, I pushed it out of my face. I hated how long it was, but I couldn’t cut it until I knew for sure he was gone. My fingers grounded into the smooth railing of the ship as I breathed harshly through my nostrils.
“He meant a lot to you, didn’t he?
My eyes snapped over to Caleb. My whole body went rigid. “Who?”
He was sitting on the railing, his back to the water. His hands on it to stabilize himself. “Your brother. His name was Franz, correct?”
My eyes narrowed. I swallowed thickly “Why do you know about him?” He couldn’t be the one I had been looking for, could he?
“Because of Evelyn,”
“She knows nothing about him,”
“I know that you rejected her, so I have been trying to figure out why since then. And from what I gathered it has to do with your brother’s death,” His eyes were soft with his lips in a line.
My body gradually relaxed as I took a few minutes to breathe. I released my tense grip on the railing and leaned against it, my back to the sea as well. “Ah, so you’re finally going to confront me too,” I sighed. I brought these confrontations on myself, but after all of Lyle’s passive aggressive antics, I was over them.
“I just want to confirm your genuinely serious about her. I know you met Evelyn’s father, so you have an idea of what he’s like. You can also probably imagine the heinous childhood she endured with him. But have you ever considered what kept her going until she was free of him?”
I titled my head to look at him and crossed my arms over my chest. That wasn’t what I had expected. “No, I don’t think I have,”
His eyes hardened as he looked me straight in the eye. “It was you, her soulmate. To a little girl who knew no love, she survived by counting on you to love her. Then, she finally meets you and you crush ever hope she had. She’s still to some degree getting past that and me and many other people don’t want her getting derailed again. So, if you are completed committed to her, I have no objections. But if you can’t do that then I will be a constant hindrance for you because there are other people who would commit fully to her. Who would give her the love that she deserves,”
My gaze casted down to the uniform planks of the deck. My hair shielding my eyes. I growled as I punched the side of the railing with my right fist. I knew I had mucked up back then, but gosh I didn’t know it was that bad. Why had I been such an insensitive, selfish idiot? No wonder she had all the life sucked out of her that second night I had spoked to her. Lifting my head, I brushed my hair out of my face. I locked eyes with Caleb while I tried to control my breathing. “I regret how I handled that night pretty much every time I see her. Heck, if I could redo it all I would, but that’s not an option. Which is why I tracked her down to the Mraga Isle and why I have been sticking by her since. Obviously, finding the cure would be ideal, but I would happily die from this darn disease if it meant getting the smallest time of my intended fate with her,”
Caleb studied me in silence. A closed mouth smile appeared on his lips as he gave a curt nod. He hopped off the railing and started to walk away. “You need to tell her everything about your brother. I’ll convince her to hear you out, so just wait here for a bit,”
I raised an eyebrow as he vanished into the swarms of bodies in the middle of the ship. I let out a long sigh. I stared up at the numerous stars. A perfect night to find constellations, at least Franz would have thought so.
I dragged my fingers back through my hair and pursed my lips. What had Caleb meant when he said ‘there are other people who would commit fully to her’? Was he referring to Lyle or was it meant as a general statement? Was her referring to himself? Being only 31, he was definitely younger than I thought the famed Master of Voyia would be. Yet, he was difficult to read. His attitude had been protective, but more concerned about her happiness. So, I couldn’t say if he saw her the way Lyle did or she was more like a little sister to him like she was to Wylie. I supposed it didn’t matter though because he was actually helping me. I was thrown off by it, but he was probably doing it because he understood our circumstances could greatly limit us.
My eyes flicked down and to my right where Evelyn stood. Her long, wavy brown hair was down for once. A closed mouth smile on her lips as she waited for me to speak. I blinked a few times while I noted the dress she was in. Aside from the extravagant one she had worn on the Mraga Isle, I never saw her in a dress. It was a simple, bright blue dress. It was loose, yet didn’t hide the curves of her figure. She really was a beauty.
“Why is me being in a dress always such a shock to you?” Her hands rested on her hips with her head titled to the left.
“Most of the women I know are warriors and so they don’t act very feminine. And you are a fighter as well, so you are similar to them in that way to me. So, seeing you in a dress I guess reminds me of that side of you,”
She titled her head to the other side as she looked up at the sky. After a few silent moments she met my eyes again. “Ok, I can understand that,”
A dolphin let out a loud, drawn out whistle. Evelyn rushed over to the railing and bent over it. The wind blew her hair back. A giant grin on her face as she watched two of the aurora dolphins chase each other while leaping occasionally above the waves. She looked over at me. “Aurora dolphins don’t usually follow ships in this narrow,”
“They will if you know their whistles,” I grinned at her as I turned myself around and folded my arms onto the railing.
Her eyes widened as she stood up perfectly straight. Her hands neatly clasped together on the railing. In these small mannerisms I was occasionally reminded she was once a noble. Gosh, I was really glad she wasn’t anymore. “You, you know how to imitate an Aurora Dolphin’s whistle?”
“Yes,” I took in a deep breathe. There was never going to be better opening tonight then this, “I learned it so my little brother Franz could study them whenever we ventured into the towns near the ocean with our mother,”
Her eyes softened as the smile disappeared from her lips. “Back when we were traveling to the Amoria Isle, you seemed sad when you spoke of him,”
She had noticed that. “That’s because I don’t know where he is,” I grimaced as my grip on the railing tightened again.
“Is he missing?” Her voice was low and she frowned. Her brow was knitted.
“I don’t know. When I was thirteen and he was nine, a group of bandits attacked our village while the stronger clansmen were away. He was supposedly killed during the looting, but I’m not so sure. His silver brace was found and a charred body that matched his size. I have never understood though why the bandits hadn’t taken it. Those braces can go for a small fortune to the right buyer. I always thought Franz might’ve thrown it off. Like he was trying to tell us to come and save him,” I stopped and my body jerked when something warm and tender grasped my hand.
My gaze drifted to my right hand to find Evelyn’s smaller one atop of it. My heart beat a bit louder in my ears. I slipped my hand out from under hers so I could hold her hand as well. The corners of my lips twitched up.
“Did anything else happen after that?”
“When I was fifteen and I had just left the Amoria Spring after having your initials revealed, a guard I passed gave me a note some masked man had left for me. The letter basically said my brother was alive and this man would take me to him if I could catch him. It also contained a vague riddle on how to find him. I decided to track the trickster down, so I could finally save my brother,”
“Have you been trying to catch this man since then?”
“Yes, but I stopped seven months ago when I finally realized that I wasn’t living my life the way my brother wanted me to,” I squeezed her hand and looked back into her eyes. “Honestly, he was more excited to meet you then I was,” I gave her a weak smile. I really wished you could be here with us Franz.
“If you had told me this three years ago I would have helped you,” Her eyes were droopy, a frown almost on her lips.
“I realize that now, but back then I was focused on myself and my goal. And when you entered the picture, I saw you as a distraction or an obstacle to finding my brother. And I couldn’t let anything get in the way of me saving him. I never considered that fate sent you to help me find him or that pursuing you is what my brother would have wanted. And again, I’m sorry for all of it,” I frowned as my eyes narrowed.
“As I told you before I forgive you and I’m glad I can finally understand why you acted the way you did,” She gave me a fleeting half-smile.
“Where does this leave us now?” I always figured once I got to explain myself to her, she would decide if she wanted to pursue something or not.
“Let’s just see how things work out on their own,” She gave my hand a light squeeze before looking out across the dark waters.