After Ed heard Leita's muttering, his face tightened in braced anticipation. She was casting a spell on him. While he knew Leita didn't mean any harm, magic still didn't sit well with him. He felt it would be a long time before he was ever used to it. He began to calm, however strange as it may have been, when he noticed the sound of the waves slowly fading away into nothing, replaced by a slightly different pitch of wind.
“Okay, open them.”
Ed did so, but slowly. He wasn't sure what to expect, so he expected many things. An illusion was one of them, but... he didn't expect such a detailed one.
The vast sands filled his eyes and his nose. The sights, the smells, his senses all suddenly hit with the new environment. It was shocking, overwhelming even. He somehow expected her to do something along these lines, but naturally not to this degree. For a moment he could have sworn they had teleported to another world, possibly by means of the dome, but he knew that wasn't the case; everyone had tried to do so earlier but to no avail.
Although his mind raced, and his mouth moved as he searched for words to say, the more he took in the sights and smells the more he began to feel at ease. Before long, for the first time since finding himself on this ship, he felt truly at peace. No more crashing of waves, no more salty stench, no more water, no more pirates.
Ed walked up to the ledge, peering over into the rolling dunes as if trying to find a fault within the illusion, while at the same time admiring it for what it wasn't. A soft smile slowly revealed itself through his lips as if recalling a fond memory he'd somehow forgotten. He took a deep breath through his nostrils and let it out slowly. He didn't say anything for a while, but he didn't need to. His expression and his sense of calmness was enough to show his gratitude for Leita's gift. He knew it was fake... but for the moment, however brief, he chose to believe in the illusion. “Reminds me of home.” He finally said, his slight smile ever present. "Vast deserts... only fragments of life in every direction."
Leita's eyes stayed closed, due to her concentration. She couldn't afford to get too distracted and break it, or the spell would falter. She could talk though, even though she often sounded distracted while she did so. She smiled more strongly when Edward said it reminded him of home.
"Me too, actually ..." It was a moment before she continued, distracted, her voice sounded almost dreamy, like she was on the verge of sleep. "But actually ... this was one home of mine. When my parents were killed in the invasion, me and many other survivors were collected and taken here, by the Gerudo ... We started the Desert Rebellion here."
Holding the illusion was so distracting that she didn't have to think much about what she was saying. It made saying some things easier. She always liked spell casting anyway. It took her mind off things.
Ed slowly turned to face her again, as if afraid of breaking the illusion if he moved too fast. With her eyes shut he felt he could rest his eyes on hers, or rather her eyelids, without feeling the need to look away every few seconds. She looked like she was deep in thought, most likely focusing on maintaining her impressive illusion. At least... Ed assumed it worked that way. Despite her deep concentration, she looked somewhat content with what she was doing.
“.... We started the Desert Rebellion here.”
Any idiot with half a brain could tell that she was beautiful, and Ed was an idiot with a hundred halves. He felt like a fool: Standing there in the midst of a blazing hot desert, in the middle of the ocean, staring at a girl he stood no chance with, telling her his secrets, admiring her for her beauty, wanting more than anything to see her smile, and not even considering the fact that she could already be taken. Well... he did think about it... but he didn't want to think about it.
Just how much of an idiot was he? Why was he doing this to himself? He'd asked himself these questions a hundred-thousand times already but he didn't have a solid answer, at least not one that he was willing to agree with. He'd seen over a thousand other girls in his life, but there was something about her specifically he just couldn't shake. It could very well have been the fact that she was hurt by his initial taunts and insults, or maybe that she saw good in him when no one else did, or it could have been the vulnerable yet strong nature she possessed, her selfless and caring attitude, or maybe just the fact that she was his only friend. But why did he let her become his friend? With any other girl he would have kept pushing her away until they were separated. Maybe he still felt a margin of responsibility for what happened to her in the cave. He felt like he had to protect her now, like he was almost obligated to, but... he'd let it become something more than that.
“So... this illusion...” Ed said, swallowing the thoughts that'd just run through his head. “... is based off of an existing location?” He stopped himself from asking how the spell worked. He felt he'd never stop asking questions in order to understand it scientifically if he started now.
"Yes ... it's always easier that way, to base it off something you know rather than to try to create something completely new. Besides, it's impossible really for it to be utterly new. One's experiences will always color it somehow, kind of like creating a painting or creating any piece of art really ... It will always have maybe a tree you saw before, a smell you've smelled before, a sound you've heard before, a touch you've felt before ... Just mixed around in a different way."
She enjoyed this spell so much for that reason. It was like an art piece. One that you could taste and smell rather than only see or touch. Though, she had often had to use it during the war in other ways. Deception, making things look as they are not. It provided perfect disguises and distractions to confound the enemy. She was glad though that she could use it now to give Edward some comfort and relaxation. Which reminded her again ...
"We all have fears, Edward-kun ... My brother is terrified of blood, and I ... am afraid of many things as well. It's a natural quality in all beings. I used to be afraid of everyone and everything. I could hardly look anyone in the eyes or face, let alone really talk to them. Not unless I already knew them well. I was the biggest coward there was. I'm ... still afraid of many things, but not as much as before." She leaned her arms on the railing, the wind blowing back her hair.
"But none the less, would you think me a fool for my fears? Fear is ... a relative and subjective thing, isn't it? How can we judge another's fear or compare it? Like this illusion, it belongs only to that person's world. Fear cannot exist outside that context."
Ed turned back toward the desert again, leaning on the railing to match Leita's posture. “Fear.” He repeated the word, saying it as if referencing an old friend who'd wronged him. “There's nothing wrong with fearing something, but there's something wrong in letting it control you.” His head hunched a little more as he stumbled into deep thought. He was definitely letting a fear or two control him. “Some fears can be crippling. Some you can't just... push through.” He paused, looking down at the railing. “Heh, it may even be something stupid, like water. It could seem like something easily conquerable, to most other people, but when it's attached to a deep scar... it doesn't like to let you forget why you're afraid of it.”
“So... by meal you mean snack.” Styx answered, his tone lacking enthusiasm. He sighed with a slight display of dismay. “I hope you're not talking about that scrawny nerd in the brig.” Styx glanced over his shoulder as they walked, eying the door they just left. “Those girls back in your room probably have a few pints to spare.” He looked back at the captain, putting on a slightly mischievous smile. “C'mon, you have three of 'em.”
"Great power such as yours requires great balance, my friend." Maelstrom gave Styx an knowing smile as they walked across the ship. "Perhaps if you had exercised more restraint with the captives I gave you, we would not be down to rations."
Gosh bent over his project intently, working with a desperate fervor. The feel of his familiar tools in his hands and the sound of working them had momentarily drowned out his fear. He paused only to wipe the sweat from his brow, as a droplet threatened to obscure his vision. Leaning back, he pushed back his hair and took a slow, deep breath, trying not to lose his focus. The shackles at his ankles chafed and he had an ache in his neck. As he tried to massage it away, he saw a figure step out from the shadows toward his cell.
Gosh froze, eyes wide, like a small animal caught in a cage. He didn't recognize this pirate, but he sure didn't like the look of him any better than the rest. As he came into the dim light of his lantern, Gosh saw the mean scars, more pronounced and distorted by the exaggerated shadows in the brig.
Gosh shrank back, wishing he could disappear inside himself. "Wha-whatisitnow?! I'malmostdone, justtellimI'malmostdone." He whimpered even more rapidly with his fright.
"Thael?" Malachite chuckled. "No, I woke from my long slumbers quite some time ago and I have not slept so long since. My brother prefers his dreams, no doubt, and I cannot blame him."
Indeed, it had been ages since Malachite had encountered any of the ancient dragons. They left one another to the solace of their dreaming and waited as the world turned for a new age. But a pirate queen had ended all of that for him. He would not take another long sleep so long as she still sailed her seas with his heart in her breast. He could not miss the waking world, so long as she was a part of it.
Thael always was a powerful dreamer. Unlike he, Malachite had no descendents to speak to through blood ties. "And what does Thael tell you, when he dreams himself inside your head, hm?"
As Crow emerged above deck, the word stopped him.
“There's nothing wrong with fearing something, but there's something wrong in letting it control you.”
Ed's voice drifted as though from the the sails above, and Crow could only surmise that he and someone else were speaking on the poop deck. Unless he took to talking to himself, which was possible. The way he spoke was intimate and heavy with meaning. He felt somewhat wrong in overhearing, but the words compelled him to stay, ringing on a truth in his own heart.
“Some fears can be crippling. Some you can't just... push through.” Ed paused. “Heh, it may even be something stupid, like water. . ."
Or a memory, one can't remember, Crow thought.
". . .but when it's attached to a deep scar... it doesn't like to let you forget why you're afraid of it.”
How true Ed's words felt in his own bones. Water? That was a tangible fear, with a reality behind it. What was Crow afraid of? An past he could not recall. Ed's words gave Crow pause and he stood still, silent in the shadows contemplating what he had said.
Oddly, Blaze had forgotten what he looked like. For as often as the fact that he was crippled and scarred was in the foremost of his thoughts, he was still so intent on his snooping that he had forgotten that his appearance might be frightening to any prisoners of the ship, and of course, to children.
Blaze stopped in his approach. The most he got from what the kid said, was that he was scared and also that he was almost done with something. His good eye looked at the piles of parts that surrounded the kid.
"Whoa, calm down there, kiddo," said Blaze, now taking thoughtful limping steps toward the cage. "I'm in the ... well, okay, not the exact same situation, but close to it. I don't really want to be here. You don't look like you want to be here either. So we got something in common. Despite appearances, eh?"
So he was a brother of Thael's, at least Ren felt like he was getting answers that made sense. But he didn't like the personal question that followed. He snorted, folding his arms across his chest, his chin lifting and his eyes narrowing in his usual disdainful manner. "Lots of things, but that's none of your business ... So if you're not Thael, then what's your name?"
Rontu was annoyed with Ren's lack of discretion, really, they shouldn't be disclosing so much to a creature they knew so little of. Of course, Rontu himself was a bit more compulsive in the dream world than he was in the waking. Still, at least Ren did seem to be getting something out of this old man other than riddles. He didn't understand much of what the sleep-talk meant. Other than what little he knew about Dreaming. He did not like Dreaming really. He preferred feeling more in control of himself.
“Fear.” Edward repeated the word, saying it as if referencing a bitter memory. “There's nothing wrong with fearing something, but there's something wrong in letting it control you.” His head hunched a little more. “Some fears can be crippling. Some you can't just... push through.” He paused, looking down at the railing. “Heh, it may even be something stupid, like water. It could seem like something easily conquerable, to most other people, but when it's attached to a deep scar... it doesn't like to let you forget why you're afraid of it.”
Leita's eyes opened, but they were still glazed over with her illusion sucking up her concentration. It was more like being in a self-induced trance. Edward's words caused ripples through her thoughts, stirring feelings that were already peaked and ready from her nightmares.
She knew what he meant. She knew too well how right he was about fear.
It was her fears that held her back with Rontu. They restrained her all the time. She couldn't even have a normal relationship ... she couldn't be a real lover.
Behind them, a figure emerged from the inner depths of the building, seen through the opening to the balcony area that they both stood on. She felt his eyes like when he had been alive. Leita's eyes suddenly widened, awake, snapped to attention. She whipped her head around to stare into the apartment. It had suddenly become the apartment. The place she had lived during less peaceful times in the Fortress.
The time of nightmares.
And she saw his face and his form, like it had been those few years ago. How long had it been now since then? Five years? And she froze, like a stunned animal, a deer that caught the scent and sound of the nearby predator. He stood there. In his black, clothes, draped with his mage's cloak over his thin frame. His brown eyes gazing at her directly through limp, greasy brown hair, dark and damp as it had always appeared. His expression vaguely deadpan.
And the illusion snapped. It faded like a broken house of cards. Leita's hands immediately curled in, pressed to her chest, she stumbled back against the railing. She hadn't meant to make that happen. She would never want to see him again, but ... but he had formed there in her illusions. Why? Just because of the thoughts Edward's words had provoked? Maya Artifice, it was a spell often used by priestesses who enter trances for various purposes. Sometimes for rituals, and other times for trials and tests. That was why it was the most important for a priestess to master.
Her hair fell before her face as she slid down the railing of the boat. Soft waves crashed on her ears and the sea breeze stung her flesh with its chill. Oh no, the illusion she had made for Edward. She had lost her focus and it was gone. She tried to find words to say, but it felt like her lungs had seized up in her chest. Her mouth opened but nothing came out as she hunched against the railing.
“Possibly.” Styx said, his mind still on those three tasty looking mermaids. One way or another, he'd have his mouth on one before this voyage was over. He'd never tasted seafood before, at least... not in the fashion he was hoping for. “Once we run out of prisoners, though, don't be surprised if I stop asking you for sustenance.” Styx laughed as if he'd told a funny joke. A happy, jovial laugh, like a kid giggling at someone's immature potty humor. He was serious, however. If he were thirsty, he'd find a drink one way or another. There was little worry in his mind about going hungry. He came on this voyage for a challenge, and he'd get that challenge... the rest of the crew be damned if he didn't.
Ed turned the moment Leita did, his guard raised from her sudden movement. A figure stood there, though one he didn't recognize from the ship's crew. It must have been a part of the illusion since the environment had changed to suit it. Leita's face, however, was what captured his attention. As he'd just been talking about fear, it seemed like she'd just laid eyes on her greatest one.
The illusion of the stranger didn't last for long, but in that short span of time Ed learned a lot. This whole time he thought that Leita was shaken from what had happened back in the caves, but it seemed like there were deeper scars reaching back long before that time. Maybe it explained why she was so sensitive and timid, or why she was having nightmares that night. There were a million and one reasons why she could be scared of this man, but the first reason that came to Ed's mind, and the most logical one, made what happened to her in the caves seem like nothing. The reason he jumped to this conclusion was because of her eyes. While they tried so hard to keep to themselves, they were so expressive. He recognized that look in her eyes from that same night she was almost raped. Pure terror. He knew that she didn't mean to show this terrible man to him, that much was clear. It must have been an unintentional result of the magic she was using, something that Ed didn't know all the details about yet.
The illusion shattered and they were back on the ship. Ed's back was turned to the water... he didn't like that, but any direction he faced there would have been water at his back. This thought unnerved him, but his focus was elsewhere. He turned to face his friend who'd fallen back against the railing, sliding to the floor. Ed wasn't sure what to do. Now she was more terrified than ever, probably as a result of what he'd said. He didn't intend any harm, in fact he hoped his words would have brought some sort of ease to her, but he just wasn't good with... people. It seemed the more he tried to help the more harm he'd do. He had half a mind to just walk out on her and head back below deck before he made things even worse, but he couldn't just leave her by herself after that. He sat down next to her, not trusting his back to rest against the railing. He wasn't sure whether to put his arm around her or... pat her on the shoulder, stand up and leave, say a word of encouragement... it'd been so long since he'd had comforted anyone, and even then it had been a child who'd just gotten his memory wiped, a young girl who'd just failed a test, or a close friend who'd just gone through an emotionally taxing experiment. In those cases he'd ask them about the experience, and after their story he would tell them the truth: It would only get worse from then on so they'd have to suck it up and tough it out. In this case, though... things might not get worse. Then there was the thought that this was just none of his business.
Ed hesitated, as he knew the question he wanted to ask wouldn't be an easy one to answer. “Who was that man?” He knew it couldn't have been easy for her to talk about it. Sometimes it was best to bottle it up, as he'd learn to do with virtually every aspect of his life. Then again, looking at himself, maybe the result wasn't for the best.
Leita covered her face with her hands. He had seen him, of course, and he was not likely to forget. Not with a memory like his. Edward was intelligent, like Rontu, he didn't miss many details. Tears squeezed silently between her pinched eyelids, burning as they went.
She had not spoken of him. Not since he had died. Not once had she or Khaz mentioned him by name. Nor did they speak much at all of him. The last time she had spoken about him had been her confession to Nabooru, in attempt to explain what Khaz had done and why he had done it.
Her first confession, however vague, had been to Blaze. Because he had been the first to walk in to see that man's hands ... She remembered his expression, though she never wanted to, with the same burning shame in her gut. Shock, alarm, followed by speechlessness. She didn't suppose anyone knew what to say when they saw something like that. When Khaz saw ... it had looked like someone had stabbed him, straight in the torso and twisted the blade. Caught off guard. The memory killed her each time.
And she had never told anyone since.
If Rontu knew, how could he want her still? Would he not discard her like the dirty and broken thing she was? Wasn't Ool's words enough to prove that Rontu was already frustrated with her? How could she tell anyone? It was disgusting, and they would be disgusted. No one really would ever want to hear something like that.
But Edward was there. Asking her who he was. After he had clearly shared what had been plaguing his mind, though he had been ashamed to admit. She didn't know why water troubled him so much, and she hadn't yet asked. But all he had asked for was a name.
Just a name, an explanation of who it was.
Leita sucked in some air, trying to be quiet, but knew it was too obviously a gasp, and she was obviously crying. She tried to catch her breath. Her shoulders trembled.
Just a name, could she get out that much?
"... H-he ..." It was hard for her to speak through the crying and the trying to just breathe. It swelled her throat tight. "H-he's ... his name ..." Edward was too smart, he would figure it out. She curled in on herself, her knees drawing up. "S-sori ... His name was Sori."
Her reaction confirmed what he had suspected. It caused her so much pain, and just to utter his name. He wasn't sure whether it was good or bad that she had, but she hadn't shut him out... and that much was good to him.
She'd gone a long way to make him feel comfortable with the illusion she'd displayed for him. She put herself at great risk, the risk of bringing such a painful memory into the open just so he could feel at ease for a few minutes. It was a selfless gift, one he would always remember. Maybe he was making things worse by attempting to comfort her, in whatever awkward way he knew how, but... as rarely as he ever talked, he felt he had to say something.
Ed looked off in the direction the illusion had been. “Despicable man.” Ed said at last, sincere, despite his lack of knowledge on the bastard. He felt he knew enough and she didn't have to torture herself anymore trying to explain anything.
“I knew a despicable man once.” His face on that fuzzy little monitor was suddenly visible, a memory as vivid as the present. “A day doesn't go by where I don't picture him dead...” Unpleasant memories. “...it would only be suiting. He was a murderer, a torturer, a straight up mother f*****.” He clenched his teeth with the last two syllables. He felt a sick feeling in his gut at the thought of those perfect memories. “He's worlds away now, though....”
Ed looked over at Leita, her hair trying to hide her face. “Whoever Sori was, he's worlds away now too. No matter what happened, no matter what he did, no matter how terrible it was, it didn't stop you from becoming who you are now.” He hoped that she'd hear that as a positive comment. Yes, he could see it had weakened her emotionally, but she was still far stronger than he could ever hope to be. At the moment, however, he had no idea how she was reacting. Her hair was hiding her face from him due to the way she was hanging her head.
"To be honest, Leita, I envy you." His eyes immediately darted to the deck floor, suddenly realizing how embarrassed he was to admit that.
How much could he really know? All she had given him was his name. She didn't tell him that he was her uncle. He couldn't know how despicable she was too? Hadn't she gone along with it? After the first time ... she had stopped fighting. It was the only way she knew how to protect Khaz then. Sori hurt him less that way. And she had been so afraid ... afraid he'd kill Khaz in a rage, for it had been getting worse and worse.
But that didn't change anything she had done.
Speaking his name, even such a little detail, was like pulling the blade from the wound. It still bled and hurt, but it had dislodged something in her chest. It was still hard to breathe, but it didn't feel as heavy. Her shoulders shook as Edward spoke on.
“I knew a despicable man once.” She couldn't see his face, because she was too busy hiding hers. But she could hear it in his voice.
“A day doesn't go by where I don't picture him dead ... it would only be suiting. He was a murderer, a torturer, a straight up mother f*****.” His tone tensed sharply. His words strong and harsh. Someone had hurt Edward too. Was that why he was afraid of water? Something had happened with water.
Sori had been a torturer in his own ways. What he had done to Khaz was nothing short of it. And she was certain he had done something to Blaze to force his lips shut. A murderer, no doubt, he had been in the civil war, when Hylians and Gerudos hated each other. He had killed many Gerudo.
“He's worlds away now, though....Whoever Sori was, he's worlds away now too. No matter what happened, no matter what he did, no matter how terrible it was, it didn't stop you from becoming who you are now.”
He said it like it was something to be proud of.
"To be honest, Leita, I envy you."
She looked up at him through strands of silver with red, watery eyes. "W-why ...?" She croaked as she caught her breath. "I-I am a ... disgusting p-person." More tears rolled down her cheeks. "I am pathetic and--and cowardly ... and weak. I can't even take care of myself. All I do is make others worry about me."
Ed placed his hand on her shoulder, mostly without thinking, just so she would look him in the eye. “Hey, you are anything but disgusting!” He felt almost offended that she'd said something like that, but he couldn't help but feel that these thoughts had just been below the surface the whole time. It made him feel heartbroken, in a way. To think that she actually thought of herself this way was almost physically painful. “You want to know one more secret Leita?” He didn't wait for a response because he was telling her anyway. “You're my only friend. I-I don't know anyone else. If it weren't for you, I'd be dead. You've saved my life more than once and that's a fact.” The words came out fast, practically angry. “You tell those people back at the village, the people you lead through the caves, the ones you defended from flesh-eating monsters, you tell them that you're a coward! I can't speak for your friends, Leita, but the reason I worry about you is because you are the only person on this planet I would trust my life with.” Ed's temper had gotten more intense as his vision got blurry with stifled tears. Though he seemed confrontational, it was far different than anything he'd displayed before. It was out of sympathy, more than anything else. Leita was destroying herself on the inside and it sickened him to see her speak it out loud. What sickened him even more was that he'd been doing the exact same thing to himself.
Edward's touch made her head jerk up, and before she knew it, she was looking straight into his eyes. “Hey, you are anything but disgusting!”
Oh, no. He was angry because of what she said. She didn't know what to do. That was just how it was. She didn't understand why he would envy her. Probably because of all that he had assumed and all that he could not know.
“You want to know one more secret Leita?” Edward didn't give her any time to answer. It all seemed to be coming out in a rush. “You're my only friend. I-I don't know anyone else. If it weren't for you, I'd be dead. You've saved my life more than once and that's a fact.”
His only friend? But all the friends and family he said he had ... Oh goddesses, she was stupid. It had been a lie. He had been so nervous on the subject because it made him so aware of the fact he was alone. Was that why he envied her? She had what he didn't. Friends and family. Khaz and everyone else. She wasn't alone. More tears slipped down her face, her mouth trembling.
“You tell those people back at the village, the people you lead through the caves, the ones you defended from flesh-eating monsters, you tell them that you're a coward! I can't speak for your friends, Leita, but the reason I worry about you is because you are the only person on this planet I would trust my life with.”
There were tears in his eyes. Leita had never seen that before. They seemed like angry tears, because his eyes were sharp with the same sort of tension. He looked and sounded mad, but the tears were there. She rolled up to her knees and slipped her arms around him, her face burying into his shoulder. He still didn't really know. He spoke so highly of her. Telling him probably wouldn't matter, he'd probably be like Khaz, tell her it wasn't her fault. That she wasn't to blame. No, Khaz blamed himself.
She turned her head, and knew she would probably regret it once the moment was over. She spoke softly in his ear.
"His name ...was Sori Serwen ... He was my father's older brother ... When my parents died ..." More tears, upon the tears that had already fallen. "The Gerudo gave us into his custody. He was the only surviving relative. I had never met nor seen him before that. I had only barely even heard of him. My father had tried never to speak of him ..." The beginning was the easiest, but it was the middle that was the hardest part to tell. She squeezed herself to Edward, but she still trembled. "H-he would hurt K-khaz so bad, but he never laid a finger on me. He hardly acted as if he noticed me at all. I don't know why he hated Khaz so much, except that he looks like our father. Almost just like him, and I look like my mother ... Sometimes, he would use their names on accident ... B-but when I was fourteen summers ..." The words started choking on her. She didn't want to know how to say it. "I ... He ..." The tears came on strong with the new surge of emotions, and she was trembling again. "H-he invited me into his o-office--I didn't know what to do. He hardly ever spoke to me before. I was scared. He got me inside. H-he gave me some tea--It-it wasn't just tea. I couldn't think, I couldn't focus, I couldn't cast an-anything ..."
It came out in a rush but then slowed suddenly. She couldn't do it. She couldn't actually say the words. More quietly now, she said in barely whimper next to Edward's ear, "... After ... he said he would kill Khaz if I told anyone. That he could make it look like an accident." A small inhale of breath interrupted her. "And he could. He was a mage ... like me."
She took another moment to breathe, breathing through the pain and tears. She pressed her forehead and eyes to Edward's shoulder. Then after a moment, she lifted her lips to his ear again.
"A-after that ... he would come into my room at night ..." And she choked again, after a moment of sagging into Edward's shoulder, she went on. "He stopped hurting Khaz. So I ... s-stopped fighting--I'd-I'd just lay there and--and try to think about something else--anything else."
She let go of Edward then, sagging back onto her knees, her hands covered her face again as she hunched over, curling inward.
Ed was half startled when Leita put her arms around his neck. He didn't expect it. He wasn't sure how she was going to react to what he'd said until she reacted. He knew she didn't like it when people shouted, but he didn't have anything negative to say, aside from the fact she thought too lowly of herself. He put his arms around her in turn, trying to find some way to bring her comfort. He wasn't used to women touching him, but it didn't feel as awkward as he thought it would.
"His name ...was Sori Serwen...” She began, her soft, sobbing voice whispering in his ear. He could tell from the way she spoke that what she was telling him she hadn't told many others. It was painful for her to speak, but she spoke on anyway, Edward intently listening to every word. It was something he'd never experienced. No one had ever confided in him in anything like it before. Even the others back in Pandora's cage kept most of their pain to themselves, even his closest friends. Maybe it was because they all shared the same pain and never felt the need to share it. But now, Leita was exposing her darkest secrets, and he could do nothing but listen.
He could relate to the lack of parents, though he never felt the loss of them. He could relate to an abusive caretaker, though his was abusive in a different sense. But when she confirmed his suspicions on what Sori had done to her... that angered him far more than he expected. He couldn't help but picture that young necromancer boy again and how he'd severed his head from his shoulders. Ed wanted to do the same thing to her uncle.
He had always pitied himself for his own past troubles. He knew that there were others with histories far worse, but he only ever cared for his own. At that moment, however, his mind wasn't focused on himself at all. He cared for her, and now he couldn't help but pity her, even though she wouldn't want him to. At the same time he still had respect for her. Her timid nature now had reason behind it, but she was still a lot stronger than she gave herself credit.
She pulled back from him as her story finished. Her tears had stained his shoulder, and now he could see they covered her cheeks. He wanted to say something, anything, but he was at a loss of words. Despite his new understanding, he felt useless. She curled up in front of him, sobbing silently. He couldn't do anything to comfort her. He couldn't say anything to make things better. What had happened to her had wounded her deeply. Not even time could fully heal those kinds of scars. Apparently magic couldn't either.
A minute or two passed and Ed was still searching for something to say. Some people had the perfect words for situations like this, the most beautiful phrases designed to comfort people in times like this, but Ed wasn't good at lying like those people. He did the only thing he felt he could at this point: Speak his mind. “I wish I could say something to comfort you.” He said at last, his voice solemn, just above a whisper. “I've... never been able to comfort someone before, at least... not like I'd wanted to. I'm selfish, to put it plainly. You're the first person in a long while that I've actually... cared about.” He paused a moment before continuing. “All I know is what kind of person you are now, Leita. I haven't known you for very long, but I've known you longer than I've known most other people. You're selfless and kind, and far stronger than you know. The mere fact that you had the courage to tell me this story is proof of that.” He pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, partly to hide his watery eyes. “I just wish you could respect yourself as much as I do.”
OoC: RP song of the Moment: Infra 5, by Max Richter.
She had said it finally, the best way she knew how to even tell such a thing. Edward was quiet for a long time. Maybe not that long, but she had no idea what he was thinking. What he thought of her now that she had told him her greatest shame.
When he did speak, it was not of disgust. Just kind, caring words.
“All I know is what kind of person you are now, Leita. I haven't known you for very long, but I've known you longer than I've known most other people. You're selfless and kind, and far stronger than you know. The mere fact that you had the courage to tell me this story is proof of that ... I just wish you could respect yourself as much as I do.”
But she had told him such a story to explain why she could not do that. And still, he spoke highly of her and lowly of himself. And yet, while telling him had done nothing to change the past, as nothing could really do that, she felt that weight on her chest lift significantly. There was still heaviness, sadness, hurt, and shame, but ... it was less.
She could breathe. She breathed deep that sea air. Bent over on her knees, her body relaxed some, like the fight was over.
How was it that just sharing a story could do this? She had always thought that if anyone ever found out about it, that the weight of her shame would be crushing, a pulverizing force. And yet, she had shared it openly, and it ... lifted her up. Then she remembered what Jade had said within her cabin earlier that evening.
“That which can save us, can also destroy us. The sources of our greatest strengths, can also be the sources of our greatest vulnerabilities, just as our vulnerabilities can be the seed of our greatest strengths.”
She looked up to Edward, no longer sobbing and gasping for breath. Her face stayed damp and wet. She reached for his hand to hold it in hers.
“And I think … you are far kinder than you know. When you are alone … selfishness is necessary to survive, right? You were doing your best.”
And maybe … she had done the best she could too, in the past.
The feeling of relief slowly fell on him as Leita's silent sobbing stopped. She looked far less tortured now, almost like an insurmountable force had just been surmounted. A great weight lifted off of them both. Ed wasn't sure of what she was thinking, or how she took the things he'd said, but if her expression was any indication she seemed to have accepted it well.
“And I think … you are far kinder than you know.” Ed's eyes hinted a smile. They were kind words, though he didn't agree with them. She was just about the only person he was kind to. “When you are alone … selfishness is necessary to survive, right? You were doing your best.” He'd always told himself this. He was a survivor, by nature. There was just a lot more to life than simply surviving. As for doing his best... he questioned that more often than not. Could things have turned out differently?
Regardless of these ideas, Ed appreciated her kind words. It was a prime example of what he envied about her. She could spot good in him even when he couldn't see it. “You could do with a little selfishness yourself.” He said with a smile.
The man with the cruel scars made his way to Gosh's prison and it took a moment for his words to sink in -that he wasn't, in fact, a pirate. His eyes darted frantically about him, listening for anyone else, trying to determine that the stranger hadn't been followed. He scrambled from his chair in a clank and clatter of chains, parts and tools. He tripped over his own shackles and grasped the bars tightly, peering at Blaze. He didn't remember seeing him on the ship before.
"Whoareyouandhowdidyougethereorpastthepirates? " His voice came out in a hushed, panicked rush, just above a hoarse, squeaky whisper. The more time he spent outside of his homeland, the more he had been practicing slower speech, pacing his words. But fear often inhibited his ability to do so, and Gosh had been very frightened for very long.
“Once we run out of prisoners, though, don't be surprised if I stop asking you for sustenance," said Styx.
"And if you ate everyone, then where would we be? A ship requires hands with blood pumping through them to sail it." Maelstrom pointed out. "Needs be it won't come to that, my thirsty friend. We shall raid again soon enough and acquire more...provisions for your unique tastes. For now, I prefer the mermaids alive -and undamaged. The boy, however, needs to be taught a lesson and you need to eat -which I find mutually agreeable."
"So if you're not Thael, then what's your name?"
"Ah," Malachite grinned. "Names. Of those, I have had many. But you may call me Malachite."
Leita's voice joined Ed's, like leaves on the wind, drifting down on his ears. He found himself transfixed by what he heard, unintentionally captivated. When Ed first came to, attacking the Jade and everyone around him, Crow did not know anything about him except the threat he perceived. And put a crossbow through his foot.
Now, he heard this same man give voice to the unspoken and unknown haunts in his own heart. The Jade always said everyone has a story. And Crow felt Ed's words rippling like distant echoes through his own.
And when Leita's voice wilted, crumbling into a tearful confession of her own heartrending past, Crow felt a twinge of regret for shooting him in the foot. He couldn't have known, when he did, that Ed had a thimble's worth of the heart he displayed to this kind, hurt girl.
“All I know is what kind of person you are now, Leita," Ed told her, and Crow was surprised at the wisdom in his words, because he had not struck him as someone very wise.
"We are who we make ourselves," the Jade had been wont to say. "Not who others have made us to be."
The Jade also said the sea was a good place to let things go, and leave the past behind. The ocean shook things loose, to the surface, then washed them away. She reminded him of this, whenever he gave in to his own doubts about his origins. And now, listening to Ed and Leita, he could not bring himself to suffer over his own unknowns. Perhaps it was best not to know.
Perhaps it was best to heed both their words and place both one's feet firmly in the present.
The heaviness seemed to lift from the air soon after that and Crow felt it was time to take his post. He stepped deliberately from the shadows, aware of the sound of his boots on the wooden deck, which gave a soft creak beneath his weight. He shouldered his crossbow and approached the main mast, gazing up to the crow's nest where Cobra held her watch, placed two fingers to his lips and gave two short, shrill whistles.
Blaze stared. He had no idea what the kid had said, but he knew it was a question. He only gathered the kid had asked who he was, but he lost the rest of it. The statement ended with something about pirates, but Blaze wasn't sure what else the kid had asked. The boy's obvious scrambling and fast talk told him what was obvious: the kid was scared. Still, even normal people didn't talk that fast so consistently. Blaze looked around the cell the boy was in again. How long had this child been here? What was he making? He was a slave no doubt. His eye went back to the boy again.
"Um ... you wanna say that again? But slower this time," said Blaze, and then he added, "My name is Blaze O'ray."
Rontu was struck by a sudden heaviness in his chest. Like he couldn't breathe. That was impossible, unless the ship was sinking during the time he had been passed out and they were all drowning. Ren didn't seem affected the same way though. Rontu panted, the sensation staying present, sending jolts of unease through him, squeezing sensation in his chest.
"What's happening to me?" gasped Rontu, impulses and thoughts more easily manifesting themselves as they always did when he Dreamed.
"Hmm," mused Lizard on Rontu's head. "You are feeling ..."
"It's Leita!" squeaked Weasel, who paced up and down Rontu's arm. Down to his thigh and then up to his shoulder. He seemed restless. "She's in distress, so of course, you can feel it too!"
"Why?" asked Rontu.
"Because you both are intimately connected," replied Weasel, governor of his relationships. "You both love each other, have shared experiences, and experienced great closeness. You will always be able to feel those close to you in various ways. You have felt this before too, even when you were awake. There were times you knew your loved ones were in immense distress."
That explained how uneasy he felt. But what could be happening right now? ... Either way, he didn't like it and he wanted to wake up. Right now. "I have to go to her."
"You needn't worry," said Lizard, lounging on his head, certainly without a worry himself. "She is in good hands. Just because she is in distress does not mean anything is necessarily harming her."
"Then what is it?" snapped Rontu sharply, standing. He, again, was without his usual control. Gods, he hated dreaming. Panther growled at his side, her tail twitching with irritation. Lizard was jostled by Rontu's standing, but clung to his head when he almost slid off.
"Oh goodness," said Lizard, readjusting himself again. "If you actually took the time to feel your emotions you wouldn't be so impulsive right now, you know. Leita is as she always has been. She carries the weight of her past injuries as well. You know very well that you are not the only one with nightmares."
"I know that," snarled Rontu again.
"I just said that," sighed Lizard.
However, it seemed as they spoke that slowly Rontu's symptoms were fading. His chest wasn't as tight, though he could still feel discomfort and his breathing wasn't yet normal.
Ren turned, brow raised at Rontu as he interacted with his guides. His attention, however, was quickly back to Malachite. He was far more interested in dragons than in Leita at the moment. If the lizard said she was fine, then she was fine.
Malachite. It sounded familiar. Where had he heard it before? Ren stared at Malachite, brow tensed with his concentration. The name itched at him. Why couldn't he remember? "Do I know you from somewhere?"
But Ren wasn't sure how he could. He knew only two dragons before now: his father and his brother. Yet he still felt like he knew this guy somehow.
Leita smiled softly at him. She wanted to know more about Edward. Why was he alone? Why did water frighten him? She knew these were probably questions he was not ready to tell someone. Sure, Leita had somehow found it in herself to share her painful story, but Edward was his own person with his own process. He would pick when the time was right. She could try, perhaps, but not too hard. She didn't want to pressure him too much about sharing himself with her.
However, the sound of boots on the deck below them alerted her, and Leita's head snapped up suddenly, turning toward the direction of the sound, gasping slightly. She had entirely forgotten about the night watch. She flushed. Who had been watching this display?
She panicked but then reminded herself that she had whispered close to Edward's hear. She doubted anyone had heard it. If anything, she had just appeared as overly emotional as usual. She hoped. Leita wiped at her face quickly with the back of her hands and sniffed as Crow's whistle stirred the quiet air.
On the other end of the ship, Siph heard Crow's whistle. That meant he was switching with Cobra. She had been staring up at the sky. She always loved the stars. They were the perfect place to dream. There was something stirring in the air that night, things were shifting, changing.
Siph turned her attention away from the sky, back down to the earth and ocean, where her friend Crow took his post in the Morning Star's nest. Siph quickly climbed up some riggings and lines, soon she was swinging herself up onto the frame of the great sails, wind blowing her clothes against the front of her body, braids pushed back away from her face. She loved being up high. Mainland had never suited her. She landed then silent, like a cat or owl, whose wings flew through the air in utter silence.
Then she flung herself in the air again, like a squirrel would from one branch to another. Her hands snagged a rope and she swung, sailing closer to the crow's nest.
"Um ... you wanna say that again? But slower this time," said Blaze, and then he added, "My name is Blaze O'ray."
Gosh took a deep breath and visibly took great pains to slow his speech. "Mynameis...Goshimakso-" he stopped, reminding himself. "Myname...is Gosh. How didyou...get here? And past thepirates?"
Blaze looked fearsome and Gosh wondered if he had fought his way through them, but he recalled what the scarred man had said about them being in somewhat the same situation and his hopes were dashed. "Areyoua...prisoner?"
Malachite listened to Rontu's discourse with his guides in mild bemusement. "Your dreaming fellows are quite wise."
"Do I know you from somewhere?" Ren asked.
"In a manner of speaking," Malachite chose his words with care, "we've already met. But this is your dream, Ren, so it is you who brought me here. By thinking of my name, you opened the door to see me. It is a good sign. It means you are ready."
Cobra's voice came from the crow's nest, as she made her way down from her post. "Oi! It's about time, you lazy bird."
Crow's gaze swept about the ship, before landing on Leita and Ed where they stood. Leita looked again like the startled doe, as her attention snapped to him. He gave them a polite nod and released his wings in a rush of wind and black feathers. Then, crouching like a coil he sprung into the air. His wings carried him past the sails and high into the air, where the moon cast its silver light over the ocean. He flew around the ship, making a quick inspection and landed perched on the edge of the crow's nest. He could hear Siph's ropes as she moved toward him.
Cobra leapt down the last couple feet and landed lightly on the deck. Soot arrived shortly thereafter, silent as the shadow he always was. "Wait here a moment, I'll go wake Gunner."
A nod from those steady yellow eyes was his only reply.
On the Black Tide, Nails found her father manning the helm. They shared a glance, before they overheard Maelstrom discussing something with Styx. Their keen elvish ears picked up only bits and pieces, but the bits and pieces did not sound good.
Elias had not liked that Maelstrom took on such a dangerous new recruit, but it mattered not what Elias preferred. The Captain did as he wished and the crew accommodated. But the question remained, as the captives dwindled, just how Maelstrom would accommodate Styx when they were gone. That moment came and the crew watched on with great trepidation.
A scrawny teenage boy would not last long...and what then?
It looked almost painful, the request for the boy to speak more slowly. "Mynameis...Goshimakso-" he stopped, consciously pacing himself. "Myname...is Gosh. How didyou...get here? And past thepirates? Areyoua...prisoner?"
"They picked me up drifting on the ocean," said Blaze without inflection. He wasn't really sure what he was doing here either. Had Adrien purposefully dropped him in the middle of nowhere? Did the vampire know that this ship would pick him up? Not that it was a comforting thought. He just had no idea what Adrien intended with all this. Blaze had wanted to see Khaz and the others. It had been several months since the group left Hyrule to investigate the Dark Lords prophecy. Zelda was certain they were alive, but alive did not always mean well, and Blaze was not comforted by her words. They were all concerned about them, but they also had no way of finding them exactly. Until Blaze found the Dome, of course.
Just when he thought he had them in his grasp, he was dumped here.
"Guess they thought I was one of them, eh?" Blaze smiled a warped smirk with his disfigured lips. "You thought I was too, but I don't take it personally--promise. I'm just a different sort of flavor of theif. The mainland kind. We're not all bad, kid ... So, how about we help each other out? These guys doesn't exactly smell of honor, so I can't say I enjoy their company."
"In a manner of speaking," said Malachite thoughtfully, "we've already met. But this is your dream, Ren, so it is you who brought me here. By thinking of my name, you opened the door to see me. It is a good sign. It means you are ready."
Ren snorted. How had he brought this old guy here? Ren couldn't remember much of his thoughts before he fell asleep. But this guy was reminding him irritatingly of the Jade. Stupid woman with her idiotic riddles. Stone was right. She was just craz--Oh.
Now, he remembered. It was Jade who mentioned Malachite's name.
"So you have some sort of connection with Jade? Crazy pirate woman?" asked Ren. In his eagerness to know what sort of connection Jade had to dragons, Ren disregarded the rest of what Malachite said.