I woke up to the sight of my sister leaning over me. Really, they need better locks on the doors. “I heard about what happened. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t too badly injured.”
With that, Akalioa turns around and leaves me there in bed, wondering about what had just happened.
My, don’t you just love family?
Sighing, I yelled, “Liandros get your butt here, now!”
Within a minute, Liandros was standing in front of me, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “It’s two in the morning, my friend. Why did you have to wake everyone on board?”
“But….” I groaned, rubbing my eyes. “Where’s Akalioa?”
“On watch with the Captain, as far as I know. We returned to the island for now—no reason to go on the hunt with the Patrol nearby,” Seeing my face go white, leaning down towards me, my friend cautiously took a seat on the foot of my bed. “What did she do to you?”
“Nothing, but what’s important is what she did to the Captain!” Standing, ignoring the rush of dizziness, I led Liandros outside of the sickroom, searching for the Captain.
“What do you mean? She wouldn’t have hurt him—could she?” Liandros asks, following along.
“We don’t know anything about her anymore. For all we know, the girl we knew is gone. We can’t know anything anymore.” I grab Liandros’ hand, and drag him along behind me.
“Um, Kelree? I think this is a good time to tell you something very important.” Liandros says nervously, his palm sweating in my grasp.
“Not now. We need to find the Captain.”
He wrenched back on my hand, halting me in my tracks. “Yes, now. It’s important, okay? I’ve been thinking of telling someone for years, but I didn’t trust anyone enough until you. Please, I just need to tell someone, in case things don’t go very well and we can’t find the Captain a…alive. I beg. Kelree, I beg.”
I slip my hand from his grasp, and turn to face him. “What do you need me to hear?”
“I…I’m a bender.”
I backed away. “You’re gay.”
“You never told me.”
“Until now, I never told anyone.”
“If I tell the Captain, he’ll kick you off the ship.”
“You won’t tell him, will you?”
I thought for a minute, looking at him. I had known him for nearly eight years now, and I would die for him with scarcely a thought. Could I say yes?
Before I knew what I was doing, I was nodding.
Smiling, Liandros Graceling took me by my shoulder, and walked with me. “Let’s go find the Captain.”
For the next hour, Liandros and I searched the beach, the cabins, the caves. We searched and searched, before finally Liandros sighed and pointed to the last place we hadn’t looked yet: The sea.
I followed him over to the nearest boat, and we set sail, Liandros paddling.
The water was calm and easy, gently lapping at the edges of the canoe. “Liandros, if we find him out here, he won’t be alive, will he?”
Liandros shook his head. “But at least we can give him a proper burial.”
Grimly, we circled the island, watching the sea gulls soar in the sky overhead.
I pay more careful attention to them when I see them gathered in a group.
A shudder running up my spine as if a ghostly hand had just stroked my back, I pointed towards the group.
We find him floating there, on his back, his face hidden by a rag thrown over it. “Captain?” I yell, grabbing a paddle from Liandros and applying my elven strength to the strokes. We pull aside and Liandros bends over the side, grabbing him by his belt. Groaning, Liandros hauls him in.
“I don’t think I want to see,” I whisper, looking away. “If it’s the Captain, I don’t want to know what Akalioa did to him.
“We have to know; whether it’s him or not, we have to know.”
Taking my hand in his, he grasps the rag, and pulls it away from his face.
It’s not the Captain.
It’s someone hauntingly familiar, someone I know, but yet do not.
Liandros looks from the body’s face to mine and back again, before asking me quietly, “Kelree, who were your parents?”
“I never knew them. I told you this before, didn’t I? I was left on a street corner and raised by a family of merchants. Why is this important?”
“Because he’s your brother.”
A second passes, and then Liandros has someone else to fish out of the sea.
I’d fainted, and fallen off the boat.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I awake, I’m back in my cabin, Liandros whistling a cheery tune in the hammock slung beside my bunk, a cigar smoking in his fingers, “Morning, sleepy head.”
“Morning. Mind if I have one of those?” I ask, holding my hand out for one. We weren’t expressly forbidden smoking on the island, but it was forbidden onboard, so I knew I wouldn’t have another chance for a while.
Smiling, Liandros lights one off the end of his, before passing it to me carefully, winking when our hands touch. I shoot him a grin, and look around. “So, where’s my brother?”
Liandros coughs out smoke. “Good…good news! He’s alive, and yes, he is your brother. Orpodah checked using a spell, and you are related directly. He hasn’t woken up yet—Shevre says he might wake up sometime this afternoon He’s in the sickroom on the other side of the island.”
“Where’s Akalioa?” I ask, the thought of my sister popping into my mind.
“She’s in her cabin on the southern part of the island. Captain is having her watched.”
“Is she…?” I swallow, unable to finish the question for fear of what the answer might be.
“Normal? No. Quiet? Yes. She hasn’t done anything—the entire crew is avoiding her, and she it. The only person she gets within fifty feet of is the Captain when he comes over to visit—I’m just hoping he’s gotten over his fascination with her.
“She didn’t do much of anything when she heard about the brand-new addition to the family. She just nodded, and retreated to her quarters.”
“We should check on him. My brother, I mean.” I say, getting up.
Liandros coughs out more smoke, turning his eyes away from me politely. “Er….You’re kinda, uh, naked.”
My first thought was to grab the blankets and wrap them tightly around my waist. My second was to ask: “Who undressed me?”
Liandros shoots me an appreciative look, eyeing my muscular chest. “For an elf, you’re a good size.”
Groaning, I shove him out of the cabin, securely locking it behind him. Outside the door, Liandros laughs loud and long as I dress, and I swear I spy a gray eye looking through the keyhole.
They really need to get better locks.
Sighing and stretching, I leave my room, determined to go and meet my last remaining family member.