“Why do you do that?” Serrintha asked him from her bunk. She had given up on countering the rolling motions some time ago, deciding that laying down was a much better idea.
“What?” Tarrant asked.
“Make your eyes glow like that. I know it’s a really simple spell… but don’t you even realise you’re doing it any more?”
“I guess not,” he admitted, frowning at her. Being a small gnome, he had discovered some time ago that people seemed to fear him more when he made his eyes glow red. It had helped compensate for his insecurity about his size. Even looking up to dwarves was embarrassing.
“Since you’re pretending to be scary,” Serrintha said with a smile, “then I’ll pretend to be afraid.” With an exaggerated squeak she pulled the blankets up over her head, hiding from his glowing eyes.
“Ah shaddup,” Tarrant replied, his eyes returning to normal as the glow faded. He climbed into his bunk, collapsing into it with a sigh. “I just can’t believe they’d dump me like that.”
“Well, you didn’t make it easy for them to like you,” she replied, poking her head back out of the blankets. “You’re small – so what! There’s a lot of small folks out there who don’t feel the need to try and intimidate everyone they meet who’s taller than them. People will respect you more if you stop trying to scare them into it.”
“Whatever,” Tarrant muttered, settling back into his bunk and looking at the ceiling. He knew she made sense, but he just couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to inspire fear in people. And then there were his flashbacks, visions that showed people fearing him. He still hadn’t worked out what they were all about.
They were silent for a while, both of them lost in their thoughts and memories about the adventures they had which led them to where they were now. Tarrant was absentmindedly tracing the tattoos on his face. He was a sorceror who used tattoos as a source of his magic, and they glowed faintly whenever he was casting a spell.
Suddenly there was a huge crash that shook the ship, quickly followed by a yell from Tarrant as he was shaken out of his bunk and onto the floor. From above them could be heard general sounds of chaos amongst crew members.
“Come on,” Serrintha said, grabbing her staff. “Let’s go see what’s going on.”
“Right behind you,” Tarrant muttered. He picked himself up and grabbed his cloak, following her out the door.
Up on the main deck there was confusion. It was night and in the only light was from lanterns. A large animal, possibly a giant bird of some kind, seemed to have flown into the sails and dropped to the deck, bringing two of the masts and their sails down with it. It was lying unmoving under a tangled mess of broken masts, sails and ropes. Some of the sails had caught fire from the lanterns.
Serrintha and Tarrant came up from below and stood there watching the crew trying to put out the fires and regain a measure of control without two of the masts. The captain was barking orders, organising a cleanup crew to untangle the bird and clean up the deck. Serrintha was looking to see if there was anyone injured that she could help, but apart from one of the crew trying to untangle themselves from some ropes, there was no one.
However, they both looked at the animal when some of the crew near it started yelling in surprise. It wasn’t an animal any more… it was a human figure, a woman. The crew backed away as the woman started moving, and she sat up, pulling the ropes off herself.
Moving closer, Serrintha thought the woman looked familiar, but in the flickering light from the lanterns, it was hard to make out. From behind her she heard Tarrant’s sharp intake of breath.
“Oh no,” he whispered. “That’s not…”
“Nawen?” cried out Serrintha, finally recognising the human warrior that was climbing to her feet.
“You!” yelled Nawen, seeing the gnome behind her. “Tarrant! I’m gonna kill you!”
“Ah crap, it IS her,” said Tarrant. He turned and ran.
To be continued…
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