Before me sat a dangerously disgruntled asura, glaring at me.
“You woke me in th’middle of th’night, and for what?” Tot stammered, leaning on a propped up hand, visibly strained from the stress of the previous days and the lack of sleep accompanying it.
I slung the still paralyzed body of the first mate on the floor between us. The captain’s face was somewhere between a frown and an expression of confusion. He took a few seconds to take it all in, after which he turned to me with an impassive look.
“I suppose ya’re gonna tell me what this is about?”
“Yes, you see—“
“Not like I didn’t see it comin’, with th’two of ya always at each other’s throats, but I hope it’s more than just that,” he interjected, danger woven through every word.
Deciding not to waste any time with a too elaborate explanation, I cut to the chase.
“He is the real assassin, captain.”
It had the effect I hoped. The captain’s eyes shot wide open and sat straight.
“The deckhand Aqia was just his puppet through his mesmer magic. He is the one who wanted you dead.”
His eyes darted between me and the first mate, who was slowly starting to writhe in his bounds. It was obvious the captain was not sure what to think about the whole matter.
“And ya base this on what, exactly?” he said inquiringly.
“Well, he did just free Aqia and set her loose on me. After I knocked her out, he started attacking me himself,” I added, pointing to the blood-stained gash in my clothing at my shoulder, and the bandage beneath.
“Just… where is the deckhand now?” he said, struggling with the new information.
“For the time being, I placed her back in her cell, sir.”
I also took care of Thornfang first, leaving the first mate bound and gagged on the prow, open to the elements.
Tot rapped his fingers on the surface of the desk, staring intently at me.
“In th’tavern, ya did tell me about another assassin, but why me first mate? What made ya suspect him?”
“Because Aqia made no sense.”
He cocked an eyebrow.
“Aqia said she wanted your position, but even if you died, she would never get it. The position would fall to the first mate.”
“That be true…”
“Also, when we asked him to investigate Aqia for mesmer magic, he mentioned two types of spells that we never talked about, nor asked him to look for.”
“Aye, but that hardly—“
“And then there is the evidence from the other murder that Aqia admitted she did. Both Kaya and I deduced from the damage to the mast, that the murderer had to be taller than an asura, unless you believe Aqia carried around a ladder?”
The captain gave me a look that told me not to jab at him again. He did not, however, interrupt me, so I went on.
“And from my inspection of the corpse, I could see that the blade was used with a force of a human or a sylvari. Finally, there was the dagger itself; it was a human designed dagger, made to be yielded by humans only, so sold in human lands.”
I could see behind the captain’s large eyes that the pieces where slowly fitting together, and with each part of the information that clicked, his eyes grew wider still.
“By the cogs of the eternal alchemy…” he murmured, his face a bit paler than usual, glaring at his first mate. Fixing his eyes on me, he said, “Aye. It all does fit together. I s’pose I owe you my life, several times over, in fact.”
I just shrugged in response.
“Sir?” I said, confused.
“This’s ya first berth on my ship, our first journey together. Why go through all the trouble of saving me, putting yaself in danger?”
I thought it over for a bit. The first mate had asked me the same thing, and I had been thinking about it in the meantime.
“I think it’s because I seek redemption, sir.”
The captain looked at me in silence for a while, before he gave me a nod and pressed no further.
Lion’s Arch. It was here I first saw the sea, and I deeply hoped that it was here that I could say goodbye to the sea for a while. Captain Tot, Amethyst, Kaya, Garron, Thornfang and I stood near the gangplank. The ship has been unloaded and loaded again, and it was time for me to head to shore. It was obvious that the captain was not too eager to see us leave.
“I have a shop to run every once in a while, you know. I need to head back,” Amethyst said, an exited twinkle in her eyes.
I never realized, never considered, that she would miss that shop she took me to the first time we met.
“Aye, fair,” the captain nodded.
“Yes, yes, and I have outstayed my welcome,” Garron said grimly.
“Nay mate,” Tot started, but Garron cut him off.
“You see, captain, you don’t want to be known as a captain who harbours a flame shaman on his ship.”
“Former shaman,” I interjected.
“Like people care,” Garron said with a sigh.
He had a point, and we all knew it.
“What about ya, Kummy?”
I frowned at being called ‘Kummy,’ but decided not to humour him.
“Although I managed to come to enjoy sailing, I do look forward to being earthbound again.”
“If ya’d stay, ya could be me new first mate.”
The others arched their eyebrows, but they were not nearly surprised as I was. I considered it for a while—honestly considered it. However, I had to decide against it. For now.
“I’m not ready to lead anyone yet, captain.”
He gave me a thoughtful nod.
“Jus’ lemme know when ya are.”
He gave me a sad smile before he turned to walk away.
“Hey, what about me?” Kaya huffed. “No goodbyes for me?”
The captain glare at her for a moment.
“Deckhands like ya, are easy to find.”
“Hey now!” Kaya glowered.
Tot flashed me a mischievous grin before he walked off, back to his quarters aboard the Serendipity, leaving the five of us—including Thornfang, who seems the most laid back of us all—to our own devices.
“Sooo,” Kaya said, breaking the awkward silence, “what are we going to do now?”
“Well, how about we get out of the sun and into my shop. My fur is already drenched in sweat,” Amethyst said, shielding her eyes from the blazing sun overhead.
It was indeed warm, and the amount of labour we did to load the ship did not help either. As such, it took no further persuasion to get us to agree.
Once we stepped inside, Amethyst’s helping hand—a young sylvari female, I think—was surprised to see her ferry in such a crowed, but much to her credit, she adapted quickly and stayed out of the way. Before we knew it, she had us all sit at a table on the upper floor of her store, sipping some juice, its origin unknown to me.
“So, just what are you all going to do?” Amethyst asked as she feigned disinterest while looking at each of us in turn. “Are you going to wander off is some random direction again, Kumara?”
I startled. How did she know?
She grinned, but the smile did not reach her dead-serious eyes, those deep wells of purple. For the first time I considered that she was much, much more than the blustering bravado she generally showed, that she was much more complex.
“Kaya and I have been talking while you two were scheming behind our backs.”
“You see,” Garron said pointedly, “we weren’t scheming. If we had told you, you would have stopped us because it was dangerous.”
“So you schemed to prevent that,” Kaya replied, her tone dangerously flat.
“You see, maybe I’ll go wandering. Kumara, can you tell me how to wander in a random direction?”
I gave him a grin, glad that he steered the conversation in another direction. I decided to reply before the ladies regained their mental footing.
“You close your eyes and head in whichever way you feel a pull.”
“A… pull?” Garron said, thoughtfully.
“Yea, a direction that seems to feel nicer than where you are, or where you came from.”
“So you were always looking for a better place?” Kaya said.
“However, Garron,” I interjected, not feeling the need to head down that path, “are you planning on travelling alone?”
“Yes, yes, you see, who would want to travel with a flame shaman? Former or not.”
“Doesn’t that make travelling alone dangerous though?”
He opened his jaw, but closed it after a silent second, contemplating those words.
“Actually, now that you mention it, yes, yes, it does.”
“Well, if you’re going nowhere specific, how about going nowhere specific with me?”
“You’d take me?”
The surprise in his voice was genuine, and slightly heart-breaking.
“Yea, we’re both messed up, so why not,” I said as I took a deep drink from the cup, giving me a good reason not to look at any of them. When I did risk a glance, I saw that Garron’s eyes were a bit more reflective then they used to be, and his lips were a thin line.
“Oh, maybe you could form a new warband!” Kaya piped.
And just like that, the moment was gone, wasted by the one who was so obviously the odd one out in our group of charr. Even Thornfang shifted restlessly beside me, sensing the change in atmosphere.
Before Garron or Amethyst could say something, I said gently, “Kaya, warband are not formed that… casually. They are wildly different from, let’s say, a krewe. It’s not a contract to work together, it’s a bond tighter than family.”
“Oh, s-sorry,” she stammerd, glancing downwards.
“Anyway,” Amethyst said, forcing some measure of happiness in her voice, “if you are going nowhere specific, how about a little errand for my two favourite charr?”
Garron and I first exchanged cautious looks before looking at Amethyst.
“An errand?” I said tersely.
“Oh, come on now,” she said exasperated, “I’m not going to ask you to put up a show and strip naked in the market district!”
“Yes, yes, although the thought must have crossed your mind at some point…” Garron murmured.
Amethyst gave him a toothy smile and me a wink. I rolled my eyes in response.
“Such an asuran reaction,” Amethyst sighed.
“Anything wrong with that?” Kaya demanded.
“Not at all,” Amethyst waved the issue away. “It fits him, oddly enough.”
Kaya gave a faint smile.
“What errand, Amethyst,” I pressed.
“All business, no play,” she pouted. Seeing my not-so-amused face, she continued. “Winter is slowly approaching, and although the temperatures don’t drop that much in Lion’s Arch, the thin-skinned humans still want warmer clothes. However, I’m all out of furs, as such, I was wondering if you’d take a dolyak to Hoelbrak and bring back a load of furs from my favourite trader.”
“Why not take the gate,” Kaya quipped.
“Do you have any idea how much your people tax anyone wanting to use it to transport goods?”
“I can’t say that I do, no. How much?”
“Let’s say I’d be happy to pay these two, generously, to travel all that way, and it’d still be a lot cheaper.”
Kaya looked quite fazed by that. Perhaps she was accustomed to asura-only prices. I would not put it past them. To be honest, the idea of going to Hoelbrak…
“I’m up for it,” I said with a shrug.
“Then I’ll take you up on your offer, and join you,” Garron said seriously. Whose offer, exactly, he was referring to, he did not say.
“What about you, Kaya?” I asked.
She gave me a wan smile, and her eyes were sad.
“Alas, I have to return to Rata Sum. I got a letter in the last port, urging me to come as soon as possible.”
“Why didn’t you leave right away?” Amethyst asked.
“Because I felt that Kumara was up to no good.”
I just gave her a wide grin, that quickly faded.
“I’ll miss you, Kaya.”
She smiled truly this time.
“Oh, you’re not rid of me yet. As soon as I’m done in Rata sum, I’ll hunt you down.”
Not for a heartbeat did I doubt that she, in fact, would.
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara, Thornfang and Garron—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Tot: The asuran captain of the cargo ship Serendipity.
Amethyst: A charr clothes merchant from Lion’s Arch that loves to travel from time to time.
Kaya: An asura that Kumara got to know in a krewe they both worked in. Now, she sets out with Kumara to see the world.