And so we begin another adventure.
Note: If you have not read Ever Dream, this will probably make significantly less amounts of sense than if you have, so I'd recommend taking the time to read it.
Chapter 1: In which it begins
The Sibylvor harbor was peaceful, a quiet serenity having fallen over the city, as rain began to pour from the sky. Wave after wave flowed up against the rocky beaches, only a couple of people still walking the stretch of land. Children were tucked into bed, adults were curled up by a fireplace, reading a book. A typical late October evening, the entire city at peace for the calm night. And if there was one person to disrupt that peacefulness, it would have to be one easily angered captain.
Raden was stretched out in an armchair, silently watching his friend pace back and forth across the floor or his room. Erius was perched on the chair's arm beside him, while Tasva leaned against the heavy wooden door leading out to the deck. "I can't believe this. I can't believe this." Fareus repeated over and over again, his footsteps hitting the wood floors heavily as he paced.
"Well maybe you should," Raden commented lightly, easily brushing a few loose strands of black hair away from his hazel eyes, "Why is it such a big deal? We hardly are pirates, Fareus, I mean look at us. You only wanted the title anyways."
"We need to become real pirates." Fareus stated, as though he hadn't even heard what his first mate said, as he stopped in his movements abruptly, and slammed his left hand down on his desk in emphasis. He was a pirate, goddammit, and he would do whatever he had to to prove it.
"But pirates kill people." Erius pointed out, earning him a glare from the man he considered his brother.
"Yes. Yes they do." The captain answered harshly, "But you know what, Erius? We've killed people."
"He's got a point." Raden added, "And we've done illegal trading before as well. Not to mention we've hidden two princes in the course of the last six years…"
Tasva pushed himself away from the door, rubbing his temples gently with his forefingers, "And how do you propose we go about 'becoming real pirates'?"
"We'll go into town. Sibylvor's got its shady parts, I'm sure we can find work somewhere."
"What kind of work?" Erius, ever the skeptic, pondered out loud, but not waiting for an answer from his captain, "If you're insinuating that we should be mercenaries or something I'll have to question your sanity."
"We're not assassins, Erius. We'll probably just have to steal some stuff, transport it to some… less than trustworthy people, things like that." Fareus answered indignantly, almost as though he was shocked that his second mate was even asking.
"And if no one here will hire us?"
"Then we'll go to a different port and try there, until we find something. Sound like a plan?" Fareus answered bluntly.
"One last thing…" Erius commented, "This involves all of us. Why are only the four of us here?"
Fareus shrugged, "I figured we should discuss this first before speaking to the rest of the crew. So if we're all in agreement that this is a plan, we should go find everyone else."
With only soft, mild grumbles of discontent from Erius, the four of them left the warm comfort of the captain's quarters, crossing the wet deck to climb the ladder to get below deck, and once more out of the pounding rain. Most everyone was already hanging out in the aft hold, chatting amongst themselves, quieting only when the four men entered the room, "Hey guys, what's up?" Vhon asked, glancing over his shoulder to stare at them.
"Beret, Vanya, Faar and Garieth aren't here. Any idea where they might in fact be?" Raden asked swiftly, as though he hadn't even heard Vhon's question, and he quickly looked over all of the present crew members.
"Beret and Vanya are in the infirmary, I believe," Zanar supplied, a half empty cup of hot chocolate clutched in his hands.
"And Faar's sleeping in our room," Ivrix added, red hair tied in a loose ponytail at the nape of his neck, "No clue about Garieth, though. He might be in his room."
"Can someone go get them, then?" Erius asked, "There's something we all need to talk about."
That vaguely ominous statement hanging in the air, various crew members rushed off to find those that were missing. "So what exactly is it that is so important?" Torben drawled, a blushing and flustered Zanar atop his lap.
Fareus chose not to answer, instead leaving his slightly annoyed first mate to answer with a simple, "You'll see."
It didn't take long for the four missing crew members to be brought back to the hold, a fairly unanimous look of confusion crossing most of their faces. "We're going to become real pirates." Fareus stated proudly, looking over his crew, awaiting their reaction to his news. Much to his dismay, none of them had the one he'd hoped for.
"Wait…" Cal began hesitantly, eyes scanning the captain's face in search of any signs of joking, "Are you serious?" Fareus scoffed.
"When have I ever not been serious?"
"You don't really want us to answer that, you know…" Ivrix mumbled under his breath, a short laugh dying on his lips, and Fareus shot him a glare.
"So… what exactly does this being 'real' pirates business entail?" Vhon asked, almost afraid of knowing the answer to his question.
"I believe the plan is to find people to hire us to steal things." Raden answered before Fareus managed to get another word in edgewise.
Garieth's eyes lit up upon hearing the word 'steal', and he practically sprang up, "Sweet" Raden shot him a look, a couple of chuckles resonating from around the room.
"No, Garieth. You'd just get us into trouble." Visibly disheartened, the so-called thief sunk back down into his chair, Vhon comfortingly patting his back.
"Tomorrow, Raden and I will go to the shady taverns in Sibylvor and look for people that are looking to hire. With any luck we'll be working straight away." Fareus stated with a smile, his arms akimbo as he looked over the mismatched assortment of men that made up his crew.
"Just stealing, though, right?" Vanya asked hesitantly, though he was obviously not entirely sure he wanted to hear the answer, "No stabbing?"
Fareus nearly cackled, "Please, you're pretty much the only one on this ship that's never stabbed someone before. We're not going to be swords for hire, just mere thieves. Weapons will simply be for saving our own selves."
"So… if I'm understanding you correctly… we'll take a job from someone we don't know, to do something illegal, go wherever it is that this person wants us to go, steal whatever it is we were hired to steal, go back and find this person that hired us, and hope we don't get caught and thrown in prison. Again." There was a certain deadpan quality in Zanar's voice, one that was quite unusual for him.
"That is correct." Erius replied, knowing full well that now that this idea had been planted in Fareus' head, it would never leave. Regardless of all the ways this plan of his could go terribly wrong, their captain would stick to it until he'd had his fill, "You know there's no way to talk him out of it now."
Cal, previously silent on the arm of the couch, couldn't help but chuckle "You know, for being the one that so adamantly told me that this is a pirate crew, you don't sound so sure of yourself anymore, Fareus." And the captain couldn't help but glower at him.
"Kindly shut your mouth, Cal." He grumbled, "Tomorrow Raden and I are going into town, and we're looking for work. We're branching out from our usual clients, and if you don't like it, then leave. Dismissed." Fareus grabbed Cal by the wrist, tugging the prince off of his perch and back up the steps leading to the deck, soft noises of discontent being spluttered by the younger.
The rain continued to pound down on the entire city, the audible sound of water hitting the ship's wood obvious to them all as the rest of the group began to retire for the evening. "What are you thinking about?" Ivrix quietly asked the man sitting beside him on the couch, despite Faar still being half asleep. The elder let out an indecipherable mumble, letting his head fall to gently rest on Ivrix's shoulder, "Oh, poor baby." The redhead teased, fingers lightly running through his lover's soft brown hair, "C'mon, let's get you back to our room so you can sleep." Faar grumbled again, but pushed himself up anyways. Having insisted to fulfill his shift of night duty despite being sick had obviously had a toll on him, and it was showing.
Ivrix waved back at the three men still lingering in the common area, and Vhon stared at their retreating backs until they disappeared, letting out a deep sigh as he leaned back in his chair, "It must be nice," he commented to Garieth, the platinum haired man sitting quietly beside him, balanced ever so carefully on the arm of the chair, "Being with someone, that is."
"It is." Garieth answered softly, traces of a soft smile lighting up his face, sparked by memories long since passed, "It's just us and Beret that are without now…" He glanced over at Beret, the healer sitting by himself and staring off into the distance. Beret was hardly the same person after the events that had occurred a year ago, everyone could see that. No longer was he chipper and outgoing, he had traded smiles in for tears. Hanth's death had affected him exponentially, and there was nothing anyone could do to change that, "I'm gonna turn in for the night. Wake me up if you're going to need help with breakfast." He clapped a hand down on Vhon's shoulder, only the slightest trace of pain behind his usual smile, "Night man."
It was nearing dusk the next day when Fareus finally put his plan into motion, the sun setting into the eastern horizon. The rain had slowed, but by no means did it stop, covering the streets and everything on them uncomfortably wet. So in this gloomy weather, Fareus and Raden descended the ship's gangplank, making their way into the shadier areas of Sibylvor. For a long time they hung around various taverns and alleys, with little to no luck. Only after midnight, as they sat slumped and depressed in the fifth tavern of the night, did their ears pick up some hope.
"Rocco turned me down," one man mumbled gruffly to his companion at the table beside theirs, "Said no sane man would take the job, told me to find ourselves another guy." Fareus' eyebrows lifted in hope, and he was ready to leap up, only for his best friend to shush him, Raden quietly gesturing for him to stay seated, mouthing a quick 'Keep listening and don't be stupid.'
The second man sighed forlornly, "He'd have failed anyhow. That guy's hardly smart enough to do the easy stuff, let alone something like this."
"Eh, you're right," the first agreed, taking a large gulp from his mug. And though he knew that Rocco's incompetence would have destroyed the mission entirely, he was still disappointed. It had taken a long time to find him and his gang, all in hopes of getting one simple jewel, and now they had to go through the entire process all over again. Great.
"We'll just have to find a different crew, one more reckless than Rocco's bunch. It shouldn't be too hard, given the number of ships here daily." The second man continued, "We might just have to raise the reward as well. Make it more enticing, you know? It hardly matters, once we get it there'll be more than enough to pay the pawns."
Fareus, unable to sit still and simply listen any longer, sprung up and moved towards them, "I couldn't help but overhear that you guys need a crew to do your dirty work."
The second man scoffed, "Yeah? What's it to you?"
"The thing is, I just happen to have one." Fareus added, a devious smile forming on his face. Unfortunately for him, the strangers merely laughed.
"We don't need no merchants, sailor boy. Run along and mind your own business." The first answered between hearty laughs.
"Oh, we're not merchants," Fareus replied, "We're pirates."
This only furthered the men's laughter, as they looked over Fareus and Raden once more, "Pirates? You two? Yeah right." For the first time, Raden took the chance to speak up.
"You want some proof? Here." Raden drew his sword, which he'd been carrying all evening in the possibility of an occasion like this. It had been a present from Aleister following the battle in Arcis, and as such had the Pelavorian emblem embedded on the hilt. The two men caught sight of said emblem and gasped, "This was stolen. From the king himself. How do you like us now?"
The men exchanged a look, before the first one shrugged, "This of this as an initiation, then. Perform this task well, and there'll be much more to come."
It wasn't until the next morning, when everyone was once again awake, the entire crew seated around the large table they took their meals at, that Raden and Fareus began to explain their task.
"We need to go to Takell." Fareus stated bluntly.
"But… Takell's mostly landlocked." Tasva pondered, giving Fareus a confused look, "What can we do there?"
"Yes, I'm aware." Fareus answered, "We'll dock in Corve and travel on foot to the Takellian dukedom not too far from the Divalte border."
"Wait. Just wait." Ivrix started, astonishment clear in his blue eyes, "We're stealing from the Duke?"
"Not the Duke himself, no." Raden clarified, "We are stealing from one of his concubines. From what I've heard, he has more than a few of them."
"You couldn't have got us something, I dunno, a little easier for our first task?" The shipwright continued to question, his skepticism showing on his face.
Faar sighed, "Ivrix's right. Duke Dimblem lives in a palace, all of his concubines live with him in that palace. How the hell are you expecting us to get in?"
"We'll become servants," Fareus answered with a grin, "We've done it before."
"Because that worked so well last time." Torben muttered under his breath, arms folded across his chest. He could only hope that this time wouldn't leave them locked in a dreary dungeon awaiting their own executions.
"So… who all is going?" Cal asked hesitantly, almost afraid of hearing the answer, but resigned to the fact that there was nothing that would get them out of this now.
"Vhon, Torben, I want you guys to come in with me. Ivrix, I want you there to stand guard, and Beret, in case something goes wrong. Any objections?" The room was laden with an awkward silence, and upon hearing no complaints, Fareus grinned, "Alright, we'll launch off from here today and make our way to Corve. Let's move, people."