-3-

Almost a week later, Sri stood and leaned on the well-worn rail at the back of the ship

Ravensgift bound for Hrangtya, loosened the veil that she wore to hide the colour of her

eyes, and watched the sunset, musing over all of the happenings in the past week. The

veil had been all her idea. Jori had looked very confused when she came out wearing it.

"How is a sheet over your head going to help?" he had asked.

"Not a sheet, a veil, silly," Sri explained with exaggerated patience. "Really Jorimah, you

vex me sometimes with your idiocrasy. What is the most likely religion for a native

Hrangtyan to have?" she asked with just the right touch of poshness.

"Oh. Are you going to be a Besani1 are you?"

"They have provided the best way to disguise me and my delightful burning

eyes. I'm not in the mood to have word about my irises spread around and

known by every Jorji, Nasev and Fenne2."

"Fair enough," Jori had admitted.

Since that conversation, Jorimah Hands' brother, Araunem , or Araun as he preferred,

had easily convinced his captain to allow them on his ship, particularly when Jori offered

him some gold coins for his trouble. Luckily, what the captain didn't realise was that Jori

had got the coins from picking his pocket, when he bumped into him as he had

entered the room. Jori wasn't the best pickpocket in Vitiateton without reason.

Araun had told the captain that his little brother was escorting his sister back home

from sight seeing in Xohopati. It had taken all of Sri's acting ability to not burst out

laughing at this point. Luckily, the captain wasn't looking at her as she tried in vain to

stop from shaking with suppressed laughter. Sight seeing indeed! Even so, Sri was very

grateful to Araun for his assistance. He had even been able to smooth over the captain's

qualms about taking a woman on board by saying that she was an initiate of the very

feminist order of priestesses of the Mother goddess, Anae. Any man who interfered with

one of those dedicated to serve the Mother did so on pain of death. Sri was both amused

and pleased with the false identity. She was surprised actually, at how Jori and his

brother had been so willing to help her. Jori had always been her friend, but she had

never realised that he cared so much about whether she was in danger or not. Back in

Vitiateton, he had always seemed fairly aloof towards her. She had definitely never

thought that she would be able to trust him with her name, let alone her life.

When she mentioned this to his brother, Araun just shrugged. "That's just Jori's way.

He tries not to seem too close to anyone, but he reveals himself in situations like

this. He may seem tough, but that's just a cover-up. He's actually quite caring under

all of the calluses, cussing, and scars. He's just really good at hiding it. It

don't pay to be too caring about anyone in Vitiateton if you don't want either you or

him or her to get hurt." Sri couldn't help but agree.

"A cracker for your thoughts?" Jori asked, making her jump.

"Oh, hallo. I'm just wondering when this voyage will end. Sea travel is fine, but I want

to get back on land so I can look for this supposed twin brother of mine," Sri said with a

slight sigh.

Noting the sigh, Jori commented, "Wanting this voyage to end faster and moping

around won't move us, but helping out with the rigging will. Besides, looking for him

shouldn't be too hard, I mean, how many men with fiery eyes do you think exist in

Tissacdad3?"

Sri pulled a face at him and laughed. "Wise words, but you don't exactly seem

to be helping much either."

"True. Did you know that you had a brother?"

"Sort of. I was really, really small when the old lady found me, so I don't remember

him, but I think that I dream about him sometimes. I have a vague memory of some one

else with eyes of flame. In my dreams, his name is Sravako Kalber Pyro Krystané "

"Oh look, more fun names!" Jori guffawed as Sri glowered at him and punched him,

"so basically you're just going by this prophecy that you eavesdropped on," he continued.

"Yup."

"I just hope that you're not disappointed."

Sri pulled her veil closer to herself and suddenly said quietly, "You know? I hope so too.

It's getting late. If you want to find me I'll be in my bunk, asleep." She turned and walked

away, her bare feet hardly making a sound on the boards that formed the deck of the

ship. Jori watched her go. "Gods I hope she finds that brother. She acts all tough, but

it's just there to camouflage what's really going through her head," he thought to himself.

A short time later, Araun came out and stood next to his brother, looking up at the

stars. "What is going on between youse two anyhow?" he asked.

Jori looked at him curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Oh come on, this is no pleasure cruise, what's going on?"

"Nothing."

"Fine, be that way."

"Are you drunk?" Jori asked with mock concern in his eyes.

"No, actually. Are you sure that there's nothing going on?"

"Hey, I'm just along for the ride. I have an instinct that tells me that things

are about to get interesting."

"How?"

Jori considered for a moment, and then told Araun all about the prophecy, and

Sri's search for her long-lost twin brother. When he was done, Araun whistled

in awe. "I knew there had to be something. This whole trip of you pair's

sounded like more than a holiday."

"Tell her I told you and we'll both be dead, but I'll come back to kill you a

second time even if I have to dig you up first."

"Count me in, I'm coming with you."

"Why?" Jori was amazed.

"Let's just say that I want some fun."

"You are drunk! When was the last time you ever did anything for me?"

"About three days ago when I got you on this ship."

"What's with the change of heart? You never did any thing for me before."

Araun winced, "Let's just say I feel bad about how I couldn't get you a job."

"I'll talk to Sri about you joining us," murmured Jori as he left the rail to

go to bed. That was when he heard Sri cry out in horror.

1 Besani- a Hrangtyan worshipper of the way of Besan. Besanis are similar to what we call on this world Muslims, except they are a little more feminist in general.

2 Jorji, Nasev and Fenne are three very common names in Xohopati, Hrangtya and the surrounding lands.

3 Tissacdad is a coastal city in Hrangtya, and the second most populated place there.