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Daughters of Fate (Chapter 11)

The eyes of the Seer do not always see the way. The mouth of the Oracle does not always speak the truth.
Gaal Hu, 1st Prophet

Chapter 11 (7th of Taru-Des)

“All hands! On deck!” the voice from the crow’s nest of the Oracle called out. “Captain Matir on board!” 

Reane was helped over the deck by one of her crew in the warming mid-afternoon air.  Several of other crew members scampered onto the deck at the call of the watchman and stood at attention. Reane waved them off and dismissed them. 

It was now unusually warm for winter and Reane’s heavy winter cloak had become a bit uncomfortable. As she nearly tripped over a stray board of lumber, her eyes couldn’t help but notice the scattered debris still about on the deck. 

“Brentai!”  She called as she braced herself against the railing.  “Brentai!” 

A dark-skinned man appeared from behind a stack of barrels filled with pitch for patching the hull.  His white shirt and leather breeches were soiled with dirt and other grime.  He adjusted a sash holding seven small daggers hanging across his chest.  There was an odd oval-shaped scar on his throat.  As if someone had once tried to carve out his larynx. 

“Sorry Reane,” he apologized, “I know the ship’s still a mess.”  

“I can see that.  But why is it still a mess?” 

“Some of the crew have become ill in the past two days.  It’s set back our repairs.”  

“Well then hire some men from town.”  Reane looked about and noticed how many of the more minor chores had not been completed.  Much less even started.  “At least you got the new mast up and rigged.  But where are the sails?”  

“A couple of the crew just left to pick them up from the tailors; they cost a pretty good price to get fixed though. The price we pay for sailing straight through that late summer storm.”  

Reane cringed at the reminder.  The Oracle had been like a lame dolphin, sitting uselessly in port for all of the fall and most of the winter.  All because of that bad decision. 

“Money’s not an object, Brentai.”  She walked with him towards the rear of the ship and up a small flight of stairs.  “Just make sure they were fixed right.”  Reane opened the door to her Captain’s quarters as the ship tilted gently in the water.  Brentai followed her in. 

Upon entering, her eyes fell upon the chaos of scattered books and papers that littered her private sanctuary.  She let out a sigh and picked up one of the books lying at her feet. 

Stepping over other debris she placed it into an empty shelf where it had once rested.  “At least you got that spar out of here,” she moaned as she began to reshelve other books as well.  

“Well, we got the hole patched too.  But I know how you are with your books.  So I told the crew to just leave them for you to take care of.”  

Reane dusted off the freshly torn cover of another book.  A frown at her displeasure at the senseless destruction was plastered on her face.  “What about my berth?” She noticed the door to the adjoining room was closed. 

“Not yet.  I told you, we’re a little short on manpower.”  

“I’ll take care of it.  It’s more important that the Oracle be seaworthy quickly than anything else; least of all pretty.  We’ve got a paying customer anxious to get out of Imperial waters.” 

“Only one passenger?  No cargo?”  

“He’s paying us in elven gold.  Ten pieces,” Reane mentioned as though it was an inconsequential amount as she thumbed through pages.  

Brentai cocked his eyebrow.  “I’m almost afraid to ask where he wants to go for that kind of money.”  

“Nowhere incredibly awful,” Reane shelved more books.  “Just Fimmirra.”  

“And he’s paying us that much?  Why?  We run that route all the time.  We’d take him for twenty Imperial Silvers and some hard work.”  

“He doesn’t want The Empire to know anything about it.  Probably realizes that money can buy silence.”  

“It’s still a lot.  You sure he’s not a wanted man?” 

“Wanted or not, has it ever stopped me before?”  Brentai’s silence was the answer she suspected.  “Besides, it’s been a while since I sailed to Fimmirra.  The last two times, you took the ship without me.”  

Brentai considered their planned trip and the scant load they would be carrying.  “Perhaps,” he offered, “we should consider taking those bolts of silk sitting in the warehouse?  The ones that we’ve been stuck with for the past two seasons after that merchant in Venor tried to welsh on us.”  

“That’s a good idea.  Tere could probably use some fresh supplies.  And he’s always moaning about not being able to get Rulean threads.”  Reane handed her first mate a key from her pocket.  “Oh, and do have a decent cabin prepared for our passenger.  He’s paying far too well to be treated like chattel and sleep with the crew.  Also, Sheala’s cabin as well.”  

Brentai was nearly out the door as she spoke the last.  “Sheala will be joining us?”  There was a slight ring in his voice.  

“I think she will be.”  

Smiling, Brentai plopped the key into his pocket and vanished into the hall.  

Continuing to sort her books, Reane was now able to focus on the strange vision that had been plaguing her mind the past few days. She had seen a woman – a woman that looked like Sheala.  But she wasn’t Sheala.  Something was different about her. 

This woman was standing on the deck of her ship, a dark cloud hovering around her.  Twin sabers hung on her waist. On her one arm, there was a plate bracer that bore the Imperial crest.    

Reane’s eyes were still drawn to it as she continued to recount the vision.  This detail, more than any other, stood out so vividly in her mind’s eye.  Reane was worried that her friend was in a dangerous place.  That perhaps her fate was about to change.  That she would be tempted to seek a different path.  

Was she in danger of falling to the darkness?  No, Reane could not allow that.  Sheala was too important.  Her role was far too necessary for that to be allowed to happen.  And Reane knew it.  

The Child of the Storm had to be protected.  That is why she had to go with them to Fimmirra.  But how to get her to do that was the question.  

Reane continued to play the vision forward in her mind.  There was a sudden shock of coldness, like frigid water that hit Reane in the face.  After that, the form of the stranger faded and she was replaced by Sheala.  The clouds that surrounded her were gray and dreary.  They were troubled and uncertain.  

All of this haunted Reane as she tried to understand what it meant.  But there were pieces to this puzzle that were desperately missing and would not come forth.  No matter how much she wanted them to. 

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