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Master of Tides

Chapter Text

The rustling in the leaves was never a good sign. The woods were a quiet place normally and any change to them lead to trouble. A ginger haired maiden sighed into the wind outside her tiny cottage dwelling. It grew darker by the moment. A hand went to the dragon talon necklace that was always around her neck. She tended to touch it whenever she grew nervous. This was her first time alone out there in all those years. Isolated completely from society. Granted, she knew how to get to the nearest city if she needed to but it would take days to arrive even then. There did happen to be a clan of elves a bit closer should anything happen. These elves did not usually take kindly to humans but her father had a good rapport with them, and as did she. He was friends with several of them, in fact, and upon his passing they had offered their deepest sympathies. They had even offered to give assistance if she were to need it in her future alone.

"But wont you be moving into the city? Surely you won't want to live out here all by your lonesome." She had been asked by Edda, a fair-haired maiden of an elf who was much older than herself but looked roughly the same age.

"No, its very far, and I am not well versed in human customs. I grew up with the trees of the wood!" She had responded with a smile.

That was the truth. Her short twenty-three years had been masked by trees and greenery. Although, that had not always been the case. She remembered living by the sea at one point, herself and her father. They had a small dwelling on a cliffside not far from the city of Sapphirus. Creator, it was so beautiful, those rolling waves and sea salt air. She could not now remember why they were forced to move. In her defense, she had been quite young, seven maybe and much had happened since then. A storm, perhaps? No, that didn't feel right. That would always be home to her, as much as she knew and understood the woods.

She went back inside and extinguished the last candle with a wave of her hand.

Some hours later, there was a knock to her door. It was after midnight, she could see that from the position of the moon in the sky. Groaning slightly, she heaved herself from her bed and lit the candles about her home one by one to the door as she went.

"Who goes there?" She asked behind the door, a fireball at the ready in her hand.

"My name is Nicodemus. I mean you no harm, dear lady." He sounded old, weary.

She opened the door to find him not alone, however. Several elves stood behind him. They all looked exhausted and out of breath. Not to mention, injured. The fireball did not extinguish in her hand.

"My companions and I have come a long way, and have farther to go. We seek only your assistance in borrowing your barn for the evening, and then we will be on our way." It began to drip rain upon them as he spoke.

"The barn is not a good place to rest." She shook her head and allowed the fireball to dissipate. "But my home is open to you. I've been expecting company." His face grew suspicious. "This is a quiet forest. When the trees start to get restless something is afoot. I was not wrong in taking that sign. Please, come in before your injuries catch you a cold. I'll put on some hot soup, you all look hungry."

One by one, they filtered in. The old man, a warrior, a beautiful elven woman, two half-elves-now that she could see them more clearly-and one who hid himself in a cloak of shadows.

"You don't have to hide, Sunshine." She told him as she closed the door. "There is no prejudice here." That seemed to reassure him, and sure as she had guessed he had the appearance of a dark elf.

"Thank you, I do not get that often."

"Had you been alone I may have thought otherwise at first, but if your companions trust you, then so do I." She admitted. "Make yourselves at home, please."

"Thank you for opening your home to us. Especially at such a late hour." Nicodemus thanked her.

"It is nothing. I've been alone for some time, it is nice to actually speak to someone other than the animals for once." She smiled. "Ladies, you may sleep in the loft up above if you wish. Its more comfortable than down here."

"We do not wish to impose any more than we have," the fair-hared elven woman spoke up.

"It is truly no trouble, Starshine." The redhead shook her head. "I am sorry, I should introduce myself. Serafino Kacela."

"Duncan," The one she had called Sunshine waved. "And you know Nicodemus," She nodded. "Kira," he gestured to Starlight. "Velias," the warrior. "Talisen," the male half elf. "And Marin." The half-elf ginger.

"Nice to meet you all." Sera smiled. "Seems as though you've fallen on hard times. Are the dark elves troubling you?" she looked to Duncan. "No offense."

"Non taken." He shook his head.

"We have had some troubles as of late, but nothing we can not handle." Velias assured her.

"Mhm. That explains why you've run off here with your tails between your legs." She jested, but no one laughed. "I can guide you through toe forest more easily, if you wish. I know this forest as well as the elves do."

"That would be far too much, you have already given us your home." Her fellow ginger told her. "I wouldn't want you to get into trouble."

"They don't bother me if I don't bother them. Besides that, if you've really been running as hard as you look like you have they must be after you for some reason. I wont let them have you then. They do enough damage without getting any knock back."

"Are you sure it is wise? If they already leave you alone…" Nicodemus waited for her response.

"Of course." Sera nodded. "I have made considerations about moving closer to the sea for some time now, perhaps this is my chance to do so."

"This trip will be dangerous." Talisen warned her, almost sounding as though opposed to the idea. He didn't trust her, it seemed, and rightfully. This was a group who had seen some things in their travels, Sera could tell.

"I can defend myself, Pretty Boy. Did you not see that fireball in my hand when I answered the door? That could have been flung into that pretty hair of yours. I am also trained with a sword. I do not fear the journey. I fear taking the journey alone."

"Then it is settled." Nicodemus said. Usually he would have been against this but the woman seemed to know what she was on about. Furthermore, he could sense the intense aura of magic around her. Humans did not usually posses such strong amounts of magic, especially in such a raw form. Truly, he was curious to this girl's intentions. It wasn't as though he wouldn't keep an eye on her.

Talisen seemed to disagree, and put himself beside his fellow half-elf protectively, although he did not openly say so. Even Velias inched toward her when he thought no one was looking, most particularly Sera. Whatever the dark elves wanted, it was with Marin, Sera figured that much.

"Now, how about a meal, and then we can get some sleep." Sera suggested. "You will need your energy."

"May I assist you?" Kira perked up.

'Must be the one who keeps them running' Sera thought to herself. "Of course, Starlight." Sera nodded. "Ive got everything we should need…"

The midmorning found Sera throwing some of the few things she would want to take with her into a pack. A change of clothes, some food, all the coin hidden variously around the house, and then the rest from around the cottage. Finally she strapped her sword to her hip and was ready to depart. The others were still gathering themselves from having truly rested for the first time in weeks, and Sera herself was not so much in a hurry as she just wanted to be ready.

"Nicodemus," She asked when he came outside to see how things were going. "Where is your group heading? I'll need a direction."

"We are trying to get to Garnetsia." He answered.

"I haven't been there in nearly a year. I wonder how Hanna and the children are." She wondered aloud. "All right. It will still take a while, but we can make it work."

"I will need to train my apprentice along the way, if that is all right." Nicodemus told her.

"Marin? She seems…down, for lack of bettor words." Sera pointed out. "Is something the matter?"

"She recently lost her family. The wound is still very fresh."

"Oh." Sera's green eyes met the ground, and Nicodemus noted the drop in the ginger's mood. "I can relate. My father passed recently. The wound never really does heal, it only grows easier to ignore."

"Then you can sympathize with how she's feeling closely then. She may need that in days to come, truth be told."

"I still need it sometimes." Sera half smiled.

"For what it is worth, you do have my sympathies." He told her with a pat on her shoulder.

"Thank you." She perked up. "All right, who's ready to go? I haven't been this excited in a while!"

Heading south from the cottage, the group was met with some rough terrain in the foothills from the mountains.

"Sorry about this." Sera apologized to the group behind her. "But we have the home field advantage up here in the foothills, especially at night. Too many places to fall off to your death if you aren't careful."

"It is a rather sound strategy." Duncan agreed, helping Kira over a set of particularly wobbly rocks.

"Even better," Sera went on. "There is a flat to camp on for the evening, since it is getting dark, and its easily defendable due to the cliff on one side. Father and I used to camp here all the time before things got too bad."

"What do you mean by that?" Marin asked.

"Well, since were on the border of Milluria right now—well, were close to it anyways—the dark elves took it upon themselves to start taking everything from the area. That's including the hunting. What was my father to do with just me out here? So we had to stop coming to this place. I tried to get him to come when I started throwing fireballs but he wouldn't have it. Told me they'd probably execute me on the spot for trying to fry them like fish and he didn't want to risk it."

"That was a wise decision it seems." Duncan snorted.

"When did you start being able to use magic?" Marin asked with an air of curiosity.

"It was…not long after we moved from the sea, I believe, I remember so little of that time for some reason. Father said it was his punishment for taking me away from my home. That I must have been truly so angry that it awakened something in me. But I still don't know for sure. If he knew anything about it, he took it with him to the grave."

"I see." Marin nodded.

When they stopped to secure camp, Marin offered to help Sera gather some firewood, which Talisen looked about to protest to until Nicodemus had him and Velias go scout the area to be sure of their safety for the moment.

"So, you're the old man's apprentice, eh?" Sera raised a brow, picking up sticks that were not too dampened by the rain of the night before.

"Yes, Nicodemus is teaching me the ways of magic."

"Right on." Sera nodded. "I'm glad you have such a caring teacher, he worries about you a lot, I can tell."

"I am too. He's been very patient with me." Marin smiled, the first Sera had seen. "Who taught you magic? I mean, how did you develop it? Your father was not a mage, was he?"

"My father could hardly make a hearth warm!" Sera laughed. "No, when I started setting things on fire, at first he was intimidated. But then we took a trip to the nearest elven clan and asked them if they had anything that might help me. They had some books and one of the older elves who was skilled in the use of healing magic helped me pick up how to control it at least. I'm afraid I cant help if you need a healer though, I tried and tried for years and I never could pick it up. Fire is too raw for me to figure out anything softer."

"Velias and Kira are very skilled healers, as it were." Marin told her. "I just think it interesting that fire happens to be the element that I am attempting to master, and here you are, hardly older than myself, and you have it down."

"Don't be down on yourself, it took me a long time to get this. You'll get it. If I can be of assistance in our travels together, I will gladly do so."

"I appreciate that." Marin smiled again. "We should get back before they send out the search party."

"Most likely." Sera agreed, adjusting the sticks in her arms before following Marin back to camp.

Talisen and Velias watched the exchange from the shadows and both seemed to agree silently that Sera could be trusted. For the moment.

Sera watched Marin and Duncan spar from atop a small bounder not far away later that evening. The sun had set a bit ago, but the light from the campfire was enough to give them light. Sera had never seen a dark elf fight before, let alone actually fought one. Duncan was quick on his feet. It was clear that Marin had been practicing though, her movements were much quicker than what Sera's would have been.

"He's rather quick, isn't he?" Sera said down to Kira, who had come to stand beside the bounder to watch.

"Yes he is." Kira smiled. "You should see him in a real fight. He becomes something else entirely. More defensive."

"I've been meaning to ask you, actually, are you two…?" Sera raised a brow at the elf.

"Yes. Duncan is my betrothed." Kira affirmed.

"I'm happy for you then." Sera smiled at her. "Although if he's half as fast in bed as he is on the field, then you have my sympathies as well."

"Wa—I-I," Kira sputtered, blushing.

Sera burst into laughter. "I'm sorry Starlight, I went too far. That was rude."

Kira cleared her throat and straightened herself out. "It is okay."

"What did I miss?" Duncan had suddenly appeared beside them. Kira turned red again and made some excuse about making something to eat and walked away. "What…"

"I ah, made a joke, and she is a bit compromised by it." Sera grinned awkwardly, fiddling with her necklace. "I'll refrain from that in the future."

"Do I want to know?"

"Probably not."

"I see."

Sevweral days later, they had no choice but to hide out in a small cave from the rain that decided to pour in the late evening. They were drenched and cold, no matter how hot Sera got the fire, her companions seemed cold. While wet, she was not all that affected by the cold. That would of course change when she ran out of energy to keep herself warm. Deciding to take point and keep watch for the moment since she was the only one not actively catching hypothermia, save perhaps for Marin, she sat herself at the mouth of the cave in wait.

"Are you sure you do not wish me to do this?" Velias asked from behind her, making her jump.

"Goodness! Battering ram, warn a lady before you sneak up on her."

Velias frowned. "That was the best you could come up with?"

So far, Sera had named everyone. Marin was now Wallflower, and Nicodemus was Old Man Grump. Even Marin's grandfather, whom she didn't actually know what his name was, had a nickname; Papa Elf. Velias had gone unnamed thus far.

"Well, I would have liked to call you sunshine, but alas the nickname fits Duncan rather well." She shrugged. "I don't think yours will stick. It will most likely change several times before I find the right one."

He leaned on the cave wall. "Or you could just call me by my name."

"But that isn't as fun." She grinned widely.

"For you."

"I'm sorry, if it truly offends you, then I will call you by name." Sera told him. "But no, I am fine up here. You should rest, if we are attacked you're going to need it."

"What about you? I haven't seen you fight, but you seem able bodied enough."

"True, but I will be fine. I just remind myself that this is like hunting. You never really sleep when you're hunting."

"All right. I will be with the others then if you wish to trade."

"Okay."

The woods grew quiet again that night. Sera's guard was on high. On a whim, she stepped outside the safety of the mough of the cave when the rain ceased, but that was a mistake on her part. Their persuers had caught up, somehow. One slipped around her and knocked her feet out from under her and several others stormed the cave.

"Bring the princess back alive!" The elf attacking Sera barked a reminder at the others.

"Ve—mm!" She tried to warn them but took a swift kick in the side. Thinking quickly, she lit her hand for light, blinding the poor dark elf above her for long enough to sink her blade deep within her gut. There was a scream, Kira it sounded like. "Damn," Sera's side ached but she made herself follow the attackers on pure adrenaline alone. By the time she arrived, the others had taken care of the intruders, and sera used a rock to lean on. "I'm sorry, they surprised me,"

"Then what good are you at keeping watch?" Talisen snapped at her.

"I realize now that maybe I should have had more keen of eyes with,"

"Now? Marin could have been hurt, Kira, any of us and you didn't really think about it?"

"I'm sorry." She hung her head. "Is everyone all right?"

"Nothing I can't heal." Kira assured the human quietly, hovering her hands over a jagged wound in Duncan's arm. He had leapt to her defense just in time, it seemed.

"The closest village will come before nightfall tomorrow." Sera said. "I will part with you there. Velias, it might be a good idea to switch for the night." She rolled into her sleep roll away from the others and heard Talisen mutter, "It's a bit late for that."

Sera tried all night to make sense of what the elf had said. 'Princess'? Which one of them was a princess? Kira seemed the type honestly. But Sera just had a sinking suspicion that it was Marin. The way they all seemed to act around her just made the idea come to life. Yet, she did not really want to ask. After her failure the night before, she just wanted to make up for it somehow. If not asking questions was it, then so be it.

Oh, but the curiosity nagged at her. A princess from where? What was she even doing out here? Sera hadn't even been aware that there was a princess to any of the kingdoms. Finally, over lunch in a shaded glen, she burst out, "I know I shouldn't ask, and I don't deserve to know, but one of the elves last night said something about a princess and don't try and tell me I misheard. I didn't."

The group all looked at one another and then back at her. She was so blunt about it. No one seemed willing to speak up, but Marin decided that it was all right.

"They were after me." She explained. "My full name is Marin Draconya, and I am the hair to the Millurian throne, as well as the Ever Kingdom."

"I…" Sera was astounded. "Damn."

"I am also a Dragon Guardian."

"No kidding?" Sera gripped her necklace. "Those…aren't just tales my father tried to tell me?"

"Not unless you think I don't exist."

"You are very much real and in the flesh, that's for sure." Sera breathed. "I see why all the subtlety."

"Then you can understand why you were not informed until now." Nicodemus said.

"Of course, that's not the sort of thing you just tell people. I didn't realize there even was a princess. This changes nothing though, you're still a bit of a Wallflower."

"That will take time to change." Marin said.

"So then, am I to understand that it's not just a group of dark elves that is after you, but the Bitch Elf herself?"

"That is indeed the case." Kira affirmed.

"Ah. Well, it's a good thing I'm moving anyhow then. My cottage is most likely burned to the ground as we speak."

"Sorry about that." Duncan apologized. "We did warn you though."

"I'm not upset." Sera shook her head. "It needed to happen. The plan is still in place though, I will be departing you at the village."

"Do I have your word to not tell a soul?" Marin eyed the human.

"You have it on my honor as a fellow fire mage and ginger that I wont tell a single living soul."

"Like you said you'd keep watch." Talisen rolled his eyes quietly. No one heard him, but his distrust for the woman grew as time went on.

Right after dark they made their destination, and Sera was quick to buy herself a horse as they others secured rooms for the evening. She stayed a spell to chat over dinner.

"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" Marin asked.

"I'm sure. Not because I don't want to. I just…I feel like there is something I need to do first, but I don't know what it is exactly…?"

"I understand." Marin sighed. "But you can join us again, at any time."

"I enjoy the offer." Sera smiled. "I should go, though. If I ride hard tonight I should be able to make it some of the way to Sapphirus."

"Why go there, the sea is right here." Kira pondered the woman's decision."

"My father and I used to live there, but I have no memory of why we left. I'd like to learn the reason."

"I see. Will you be all right on your own?"

"Of course, my ability to get into trouble will also get me out of it."

"Or get you killed." Duncan pointed out. "You and I never did have a chance to sparr on the way."

"I will actually regret that, of all things. My one encounter with dark elves in battle and I failed into the epic proportions, which I am still so very sorry about."

"Talisen was just afraid. He will forgive you in time, I'm sure." Marin said encouragingly.

"You'll make a fine queen yet." Sera grinned. "I'll see you when I see you next, then?"

"Yes." Marin waved as Sera stood at the door.

"Sounds like a plan." She winked and slipped off out of sight into the night.

'Fancy that, meeting a princess of all things.' Sera smiled to herself as she rode through the night. 'I hope her time in Garnetsia is all right though, they have been hit particularly hard by all this…'

Chapter Text

Sera found herself wandering the dock area when she finally arrived to Sapphirus. It had been so long since she had been at the sea that it only felt right to wander along the shore and bask in the warm sunlight. It was the nicest time of year and she was grateful to Marin and her companion’s arrival at her humble forest abode. Instead of searching for the information she sought, Sera was content to walk down the beach and splash her feet in the water.

She gathered shells and watched the sea birds fly around. At one point she came across some baby turtles trying to make it to the sea. The poor babies were being eaten by the birds and other animals. Sera couldn’t just watch them die of course, and shooed the birds away. She did her best to gather the little turtles and waded them out a small ways into the water. After three armfuls, Sera felt rather successful in her endeavor of rescuing the babies. She turned to walk back to the shore from the waist deep water and jolted. Not too far from her was a man. Sera justified that maybe she had been so busy with the little ones that she hadn’t noticed him approaching. She was prepared to melt his face if he came any closer but he didn’t need to know she was a magic user.

He was handsome, strong jaw and well built. Blond hair, oddly he reminded Sera of someone but she couldn’t place them. He noticed her jolt however and raised his hands to show he meant no harm.

“May I assist you?” Sera asked, not moving.
“No.” He shook his head.
“I noticed you helping the turtles. That was a kind thing to do. Most do not look at them twice.”
“Well I couldn’t just let them die.” Sera shrugged.
“I know that’s just the circle of life, but I don’t think it will hurt the sea if it has a few more turtles in it.”
“Surely not.” He grinned.
“From whence do you come, lass?”
“From whence do you?” Sera eyed him.
“I live abroad.” He told her.
“I come from the forest. Although i was born by the sea.” Sera told him after he had responded.
“Let me guess then." She continued. "You’re a pirate?” Now she most certainly didn’t trust him. Her sword was on the shore to keep it dry, but thankfully her magic had never failed her.
“Virgil the Obscure.” He introduced himself with a waist bow. “I mean you no harm lass. Just merely taking a walk along the shore and came upon you.”

Sera was hesitant to trust him now, especially with her name.

“Kacela.” She told him. “It’s what my Pap called me.”

Her last name was a safe bet. “I’m going to just...go.” She added after a moment, watching him carefully as she walked backwards to the shore.

He didnt move, only waited politely with his arms crossed for her to retrieve her weapon. She half expected more pirates to appear from the treeline and nab her, but they didnt show. Sword in hand, she felt much more secure.

“If i do see you again, may it be over a drink.” Sera told him finally, not wanting to seem absolutely rude. He didnt try to take her after all.

 

Sera made her way from the beach to the city. Her mind stayed on the pirate. Something about him was homey. Still, she had a task. She stopped and shook her head to clear all other thoughts from her mind so that she could work.
Someone would know her father, they had to. Although he had been away many years. She tried all around, from old women to servants, and had yet to find anyone who recognized the name Kacela. After an entire day of failure, she stopped at a seaside tavern.

"What'll it be?" The barkeep asked.
"Just some water, if you would?" She said, reaching for her coin purse.
"Nah, it's just a water." He shook his head and handed her a goblet. "You seem troubled."
"I've been seeking out information on my father and yielded no results thus far." She sighed, sipping her water.
"Aye? What's the name?"
"Kacela." She told him.

The barkeep thought a moment. "What did he do?"

"Soldier."
"Aye that does come off familiar. If you be looking for a soldier, Windy Sails Tavern out on the docks is where you want to go. A lot of old soldiers go there."
"Oh, thank you! This is the only information I've been given at all today!" Sera was so giddy.
"Be warned though, Pirates and slavers also frequent there, and a pretty redhead like you would go for mighty a price."

Sera lit a ball of flame in her hand. "I'm not too worried."
He chuckled. "Well good luck to you then."

"Thank you, I need it." She smiled and slipped out.

The Windy Sails Tavern was right where the barkeep had told her, much to Sera's relief. She reached it just before sunset and was actually starting to get a bit tired. When she crossed the threshold she realized just how bad it really was in there. Thugs and pirates galore, all tough and gruff and gluttonous. Creator protect her.
She walked through towards the bar and a drunk man slapped her rear.

"Get me a drink, wench!" He demanded.

She spun on her heel, driving her fist into the man's nose. A satisfying crunch accompanied by a spurt of blood down his face. The loud tavern grew silent in awe. She shook her hand in pain, then held it to her chest with a wince. When he regained himself he stood to slap her but a tall blond man stepped in the way.

"Lad, I'm not sure you want her to humiliate you any further. I'm going to ask you to step away."

For a moment he looked like he would attack the newcomer so she slipped around her would-be defender and kicked the drunk man between the legs. He fell to the floor with a grunt of pain and the entire tavern erupted in laughter.
Even her attempted rescuer was shocked. She was ruthless. The man's friends dragged him off to avoid further humiliation as Sera turned to her would-be savior.

"Thank you for what you tried to do." She told him. "But I can handle myself."
"Noted." He nodded with a smirk.

She paused taking in his features...Wait!...he was the pirate from earlier!

"Fancy meeting you in an actual tavern." Sera commented.
"Fancy seeing the same lovely lass twice in a day." He grinned.
"I owe you a drink." Sera gave him a grin.
"Perhaps another time lass. Maybe in a more secluded setting?" Virgil winked.
"Dream on, Ocean Eyes."

Sera snorted, pushing his shoulder playfully with her good hand. She hadn't noticed his peculiar eyes before on the beach, but now, seeing them up close she felt she could get lost in them like a sailor at sea. They seemed alive as though the ocean itself was trapped in them, the waves crashing against the shore. She realized they had stared at each other for a long moment and broke eye contact. No one else in the loud tavern seemed to notice their prolonged silence at least.

"Er, right, anyways," Sera shook her head. "Nice to see you again."

"And you."

She went on and had her drink. Virgil made way for the door not long after she sat at the bar. She found it strange that he seemed to come and go like that, but shrugged it off.
The bar tender asked her the usual questions, where she hailed from, where she was going.

"Nowhere in particular. Just a hut in the woods." She shrugged. "And I don't know where yet to go. Most likely stay here a few days at least."
"I see. Plenty of bad people around. You can take care of yourself, but be careful. I'll get you the room with a lock. We don't get many women in here."
"I see why, anyone from here would know to stay away." Sera chuckled. "I'm just...I'm drawn to the ocean. Something about it feels like home."
"A dreamer." The man behind the counter sighed.
"Something like that." Sera smiled softly. She was much too tired to bother with asking around and decided to call it a night.

Sera spent the next day out by the beach again, exploring the nooks and crannies of the rocky cliffs and scouting for collectibles. It was a beautiful day. The people she needed to ask about her father would be in during the evening anyhow.
At one point she found herself splashing about knee deep in sea water because it felt good on her feet and she was startled by a sudden voice chuckling. Virgil again, standing ankle deep not too far from her.

"You sure seem to be everywhere." She gasped, having nearly fallen due to the scare. "Are you following me now, perchance?"
"Not at all, you just so happen to be in my path." He said.
"Mmhmm." She slow nodded. "In any case, thank you for last night. I was a bit flustered and it didn't come off as polite as I had meant it to."
"Not a problem lass, I knew what you meant." His smile was genuine. "What brings you?"
"Here? Looking for trinkets along the shore." The redhead shrugged.
"This port." He rephrased.
"Answers." Sera said. "Maybe you can help me, actually. You seem like you've been sailing a while."
"You might say that, yes." Virgil crossed his arms across his chest, listening.
"My father used to be a fisherman here, and then a soldier, when I was young. But we fled suddenly in the night. No one seems to know anything about him, but he grew up here."
"The name?"
"Kacela. Mine. Well," Sera shook her head. "I'm afraid I didn't trust you yesterday. My name is Serafino, or Sera. His name was Javvyn."
"I can ask around for you." Virgil offered.
"I would appreciate that. I doubt anyone in that tavern will be helping me a whole lot, although I was told to ask around." She sighed.
"You might be surprised, you stood up to one of the most notorious slavers around last night." He chuckled. "He'll be nursing that broken nose for weeks."
"I'll be nursing a weak sword hand for as long. Should have hit him with a fireball." Her hand ached at the mention of its impact the night before. It wasn't broken, but it was bruised.
"A Mage?"
"Battle Mage. Father made sure to train me in offense and defense with a sword in hand. Soldiers habits."

She shrugged.

"Those are some fancy looking blades you have there. I'll bet they swing like air."

Sera nodded at the twin's on his sides.
"Swift as a rivers current." Virgil patted them fondly. "Served me well so far."
"I would assume, since we're having this conversation." Sera couldn't help but laugh a little. Trusting a pirate was ill advised. But she still found herself doing so. Then again, she had so easily welcomed Marin and the others into her home based on signs from nature. But that...this felt different. Nervous initially due to his role at sea, otherwise Sera felt absolutely calm in his presence. She wasn't yet sure if that was a good or bad thing.
"In any case, you run off and do whatever it is you had planned. I'm going to finish my scavenging." Sera waved her hand.
"I've a suggestion if you've a mind then?" He frowned.
"Oh?" She crossed her arms and leaned on one side.
"There's a cave half a mile up that way known for its treasures. Do not venture there. The creatures are dangerous. Few return."
"Sounds like a good time." Sera chuckled. "But thank you for the advice, Captain."
"How do you know I'm a captain?" Virgil asked, surprised.
"I didn't." Sera laughed. "But thank you for answering my question."
That was witty, he had to give it to her. "I'll be taking my leave then lass."
"We'll run into one another later, I'm sure." Sera nodded, giving him a wave before watching him walk away. He had a fine rear, but that made her blush a little.
Sera shook those thoughts from her head and looked off ahead. She could go farther before reaching the cave she was sure.

Curiosity is a human flaw that sometimes causes one thing to spiral into another. In this case, an attractive pirate, some well placed advice, and that human curiosity caused so many things to happen it made Sera's head spin in later years to think about it.
She couldn't do it. Sera took one look at the cave's entrance and she knew she had to venture into its depths and see this treasure for herself.
The cave itself sat under a rocky cliff right on the beach with a trail of water leading down to the sea. She reasoned that the only way to get into the cave was a low tide, and she only had a little while until the tide came back in. Still, that curiosity for the adventure took over and she unsheathed her sword and made a ball of fire in her left hand for light before adventuring inside.
It started low and hard to move in but opened into a cavern with a wide berth. She noted the boats tied off just inside. Pirates. Because of course. But where there were pirates, there was booty! Still, if that was the reason Virgil had warned her away it seemed shady. Perhaps this was a trap after all, and his handsome face had tricked her. Unsurprising. He was rather handsome.
A cry of pain jerked her from her thoughts and she hid behind a thick stalagmite quickly, extinguishing her hand.
"Aye ye best be movin' lady." A grumpy voice threatened. Another cry of pain, and what sounded like a slap?
Sera frowned. She chanced a peek around her cover to see what her odds were. Three tied up ladies and one large, beefy man dragging them along to the boats. Eh, she could take him. Had she a bow. Sera had to do something though. Those women needed assistance.
Gathering her courage the ginger alighted a fireball in her hand and threw it full force at the giant of a man. It took him completely off guard and he shouted something she didn't hear. He was busy putting out his clothes and didn't see her advance, although his guard was on high alert. Sera went straight for the heart but the brute swung his arm frantically and knocked her back. Undeterred, the battlemage went to strike again but met his blade with her own. Her fire hand met his blade and made it hot--brittle. She backed off and came at him again, successfully breaking his sword with her own and slashing him across the face and down his shoulder. That was enough distraction to kick out his legs from under him and land the finishing blow.
The three women sobbed behind one of the boats, shaking and terrified. Sera looked to them after shaking her blade clean. "It's all right now, I'm going to let you free."
"There's more." One sobbed as Sera cut her free.
"How many?"
"I'm not sure. Several." Another said.
"Then we should hurry, let's get this boat out with the tide so we can get you back to the city." Sera suggested as she freed the last one.
None of them looked particularly strong, but between the four of them they should have been able to move the boat. Although that was the plan before Sera took an arrow to the shoulder.
The arrow hardly went through her armor, but it stung horribly.
"Run, go!" Sera ordered the girls. They wasted no time running towards the mouth of the cave. Sera waved her hand and raised a wall of fire behind them to cover from anymore incoming arrows as she ducked behind a stalagmite for cover. Pulling the arrow hurt more than getting hit with it but she had to focus. The wall of flame illuminated the cavern well enough for her to see, but that meant her assailant could see just as well.
"Surrender and I'll let you live." The archer called. Behind her, perfect. She lit a ball of fire in her hand and let it extinguish. Maybe feigning complacency?
"All right, I'm coming out." Sera called back, stepping out from behind her cover with her arms raised.
Bad decision. An arrow grazed her side. She swore and ducked behind cover again, wincing at the pain in her side. Some of her blood had spattered the cavern floor and mixed with the sea water, but she hadn't noticed. What she did notice was that the water level was rising, and she needed a way out immediately, or she was going to drown. Her wall of fire steamed away and made the cavern dark again.
"Ugh." She was afraid that her injury would attract sea creatures. She already couldn't swim, so that would be even worse. In all fairness, Virgil had warned her away from the cave, so this was her own fault. Clearly he was not there, so he may not have been aware that slavers had taken over the cave. Although she did speak too soon.
"It appears you need some assistance lass."
Sera looked towards the cavern entrance to see a familiar face in the faint light. "I have the situation controlled." She lied with an eye roll.
"Certainly seems that way." Virgil nodded, taking off somewhere in the knee deep water at high speed. Sera was loosing too much blood to question it, and leaned on the stalagmite a moment before lurching around to help. But the archer was down already.
"You wasted no time, how did you...?" Sera blinked.
"Now is not the time for questions, the cavern will be full soon." He glanced at her side wound. "And that needs seeing to."
"Ah, yes, uh, I have a fun fact for you. I can't swim." Sera admitted.
"This poses a problem." Virgil nodded slowly, noting that the water was up to her waist already. "Start wading then, I'll have to pull you through the last bit."
"I appreciate it." Sera grinned cheekily. "I'll owe you two."
"Less talking, more wading lass." He started off before her.
As she started walking she asked, "Why did you even tell me about this place?"
"I did not believe you would go inside, that is why I warned you away."
"Alright, but, if you warn someone away usually that sparks curiosity. Curiosity sparks recklessness."
"Am I to blame for your blunders?"
"Partially--" Sera slipped on a wet rock now that she was chest deep and couldn't see a thing. She caught herself on his outstretched arm as he turned to catch her. "Sorry."
"It is not your fault." She could hear the grin in his voice. At least they were near the end, the cave ceiling was right above her now.
"All right, take a deep breath and hang onto me."
Sera slipped her arms around his torso tightly with a wince. "Promise not to drown me?"
"Wouldn't dream of it." Virgil nodded, although she couldn't see it.
Sera took the deepest breath she'd probably ever taken before and held on for dear life.
As someone who couldn't swim it felt like forever before she was free to breathe again. Virgil dragged her to a shallow bit and she let go when she could touch and walked to the shore just at where the waves hit the sand and sat down. She was wet anyways, what did it matter.
"Thank you." She breathed.
He sat beside her with an actually serious look. "That was stupid and impulsive and you could have been killed."
"It worked out. I freed some slaves, got rescued by a handsome pirate. It's been a great day." Sera winced again at the pain in her side and the throbbing in her shoulder. "Now I've a weak sword arm, a weak fire arm, and my movement is hindered. What a day."
"You take it well at least." He said, still somehow sounding mildly annoyed.
"Better than you I see." Sera watched him. "I daresay you were worried about me."
"And if I was?"
"Curious, seeing as how we've hardly spoken. But sweet. I had a feeling you were a good sort."
Virgil shook his head and rested it in his hand a moment, unable to deal with her optimism audibly.
After a moment looking out at sea, Sera looked over her injury. She could cauterize it herself and it would be fine. The sea water had cleaned it after all. She would just have to remove her armor first. "I'm going to need some help again actually, would you mind unfastening my armor for me?"
"This is not the private setting I was referring to lass." Virgil chuckled but moved to assist, finally not seeming so steamed.
"If you really want me to die partway, sure we could have some fun," Sera shrugged but swore quietly after. "Thank you," she rolled on her hip and faced away so she could remove her tunic so as not to catch it aflame. "This is going to hurt." Sera inhaled deeply and screamed silently as she cauterized her wound. Moving would still be interesting for a while but at least she wouldn't bleed anymore. She pulled her tunic back on when she felt up to it and rolled back the other way so she could talk to him.
Virgil hadn't moved, just waited patiently.
"So what was the treasure? Not the girls I hope."
"No, the treasure is something I myself already retrieved ages ago."
"How did you manage that?" Sera looked at him with a raised brow. "And why did you word it in such a way earlier?"
"I truly did not believe you would go into the cave after I told you not to. There were some sirens there that I had a lovely conversation with." Virgil explained.
Sera laughed. "I could believe you charming a siren of her treasure. Seems within your wide range of talents. Like taking out an archer before I could even get around my cover."
"That was pure luck." He shrugged. "He was distracted a moment and I struck."
Sera stared at the pirate a long moment. He seemed the sort to fake falling for a siren's song just to see if his lover would rescue him. To see if they loved the adventure as much as he did. It was fascinating and terrifying all at once.
"You are not even human." Sera finally sighed, playfully pushing his shoulder. "Thank you, again. I would have drowned for sure."
"I'll have to call in that favor sometime then. After you heal though." He grinned.
"Fair enough." The ginger nodded, now that the water had come in up to her waist again. The waves kept knocking her back so it was time to stand. "You heading back too?"
"Yes, I'll make sure you get back safe at least."
"I appreciate a gentleman." Sera snorted softly. "Wonder where the girls got off too."
"I'm sure they're halfway back to port now." Virgil shrugged as he started walking.
"Good, I hope they're okay." Sera nodded, following after.

Three cold blue sets of eyes watched them from afar out in the surf, but from the shore they didn't see them. The siren's waited until they were gone and made way back into the cave to devour the rest of their meal.

Chapter Text

The morning was particularly warm four days later when Sera rolled over in her cot. She had spent most of the last three days in her room. Her side injury wasn't feeling too terrible that morning however. The shoulder one was mostly itchy now rather than hurt. Her hand was sore but felt stronger than it had the last couple days.

Rays of sun came in through her porthole and the ginger sighed. She really should get out of bed and go ask around about her father. But her agenda was mildly compromised by thoughts of one attractive pirate.

Virgil had visited her a couple of times to check in with her while she was resting to tell her he hadn't come up with any information regarding her father yet. He didn't have to do that and she was sure he was hankering to get back out to sea. Pirates were funny that way. Happily if he offered she would go with him even. But she had questions that needed answering before leaving and she didn't feel he would wait that long.

Although that may have been her heart getting ahead of her. Surely he wasn't thinking the same things she was, that would be ridiculous. That was her inner romantic talking. Sera hadn't known many people growing up, she shouldn't attach herself to the first person she found attractive. And kind. And funny. And mysterious.

Sera shook her head. "Creator's ass." She swore quietly. Sera rose to pull the cloth over the window, taking her blanket with her for cover. Her emotions were conflicting something simple. She would have to tell him that she could take it from there and try not to run into him again, easy as that. Something inside her longed for the adventure he could offer though. She couldn't ignore that calling to the sea. It was part of the reason she was here after all, her side agenda.

A knock at her door made her jolt.

"You decent lass?"

"More or less." Sera responded, pulling her blanket a bit tighter around her, being naked under it.

Virgil stepped inside a moment later, his trademark grin on his face.

"You're awfully chipper this morning Ocean Eyes. Isn't it too early for that?" Sera yawned, leaning on the wall.

"I don't believe it can be too early for good news." Virgil closed her door and leaned on it. He crossed his arms and gaged her reaction. Tired. Still very tired. He could see she had not slept much the last few days.

"I don't believe you can think it too early in general." Sera snorted. "What has you all excited?"

"While you were resting last night I found a fellow who may be able to help you. But he lives a bit of a distance to the south." Virgil explained. "Far enough it would be faster to sail."

"Are you inviting me or are you teasing me?" Sera grinned.

"It would not be a problem to take such a pretty lass with me when I sail with the tide." Virgil said innocently.

"I...have never been out at sea before." Sera admitted shyly. "I imagine it to not be the same as I've always dreamed it."

"The day is clear so sailing will be smooth. No worries of a surprise storm." He assured her.

Sera could only take his word for it, he was the sailer between the two of them after all. "Then I agree, we should go with the tide then. Let me just get dressed," Sera turned to find where she had tossed her clothes the night before.

"I thought you said you were decent." Virgil chuckled.

"I said more or less." The ginger shrugged, unable to not grin. So much for telling him she had the situation controlled. When she didn't hear him move Sera looked over her shoulder, which was bare due to the blanket having slipped. "Hoping to get a show?"

"I was just seeing if you were paying attention lass." Virgil shrugged innocently as he began moving to the door.

"At least get a girl a drink first." Sera smiled and shook her head.

"I may have to." He chuckled as he stepped out.

Sera blushed from head to toe. "Creator's ass." She swore again.

Assured her items were safely locked in her room, Sera followed Virgil outside into the sun. It was clear and beautiful again just as he had said, perfect for an adventure.

"Are you nervous to sail lass? You're rather quiet." He asked when she didn't speak for a moment.

"More than I thought I would be. I've wanted to my whole life. But my lack of swimming skill leaves some doubt in me."

"Fear not, I would not let you drown."

"Truly? Or are you just saying that to calm my nervousness?"

Virgil stopped walking and turned to her. "On my honor as a captain, your life will not be ended by drowning."

Sera had a chuckle. "I believe you."

"Good. That out of mind, we need to hurry or we will miss the tide." He urged her softly.

"Right, sorry," Sera nodded quickly and doubled her pace.

When she saw the Leviathan she had to stop and stare a little. It was breathtaking. A strong ship meant to take on the best of the navy. Sera noted that it very well could.

"Now that's a ship. She's beautiful." Sera mentioned breathlessly.

"I am glad you think so, since you'll be on it soon enough." Virgil grinned.

"That's your ship?" Sera raised a brow at him.

"Yes."

"You're just full of surprises, aren't you Ocean Eyes?" She sighed incredulously.

"You have no idea lass."

"I've an inclination I'm about to learn the lesson." Sera sighed.

After scrambling up the gangplank Sera found herself looking about in awe. She had so many questions! She knew the basics of course; port, starboard and the like. But what were the different sails? The types of knots used to tie things off? She must have been staring off into space for a long moment because the captain nudged her gently in her uninjured side.

"You all right lass?"

"If...if I stay out of the way, may I just wander a bit? There are so many things to look at..." Sera was still lost in her own curiosity.

"Aye, just stay out of the crew's way." He nodded, turning to shout some orders to them that she didn't hear.

Sera easily evaded the crew as they worked, looking at the craftsmanship in the deck. Such intricate designs, there was no way it simply wasn't magic. Although the whole thing felt magic, like some kind of dream. All too pleasant.

Eventually Sera found herself exploring below the deck. It was so dim her eyes would simply not adjust. She imagined herself little firebugs to life to light it up. Sera found the galley easily enough, the smell caught her attention straight away. The cook was a fat fellow but he looked like he could really mess someone up if they disorganized his kitchen. Her stomach rumbled but on she went, not ready to be finished exploring.

Sera came to a door and stopped. Must be the lower deck way into the Captain's Cabin. She wondered what secrets Virgil kept hidden in there. Not the prying type however, she turned to go back and ran right into the blond captain.

"Oh!"

"Spying are we? Should buy a man a drink first lass." He repeated her previous words.

"I may have to." Sera repeated his. "But no, I was going back to the galley. I did not get a moment to eat before we left."

"I see." He nodded slowly. They stood so close she could feel his warmth. He smelled like sea salt and loneliness. "Would you like a tour?"

"I think some things are better left to the imagination." Sera winked. Her stomach gave a loud, protesting growl as if on cue to turn the conversation.

"Right, this way then." Virgil smiled, turning to lead the way back to the galley. "These are a nice addition to the lighting down here." He commented to her balls of light.

"You think? I can leave them, if you like. It doesn't expend any energy." Sera offered as she followed. "Fireflies were the first thing I mastered."

"When did you first happen upon your magic abilities?" Virgil asked, sitting at one of the tables after they entered the galley. He waved to the cook who just nodded and got to work at something.

"I was...goodness," Sera sat herself across from him and put her chin in her hand with thought. "Within the year of us moving from the sea, I was about eight then. Pap liked to joke and say it was because I was angry. He did everything he could to help me get control of it though. The nearby elves were very helpful on that front."

"I imagine so." He nodded, listening.

"They tried to teach me healing but you witnessed the best of my healing magic the other day." Sera chuckled. "Fire is raw and free and healing is so...neither of those things. It isn't my forte."

"Tried picking up water magic perchance? Since you seem to love the sea so much." He asked, leaning back against the wall.

"It isn't the same, I did try. It has the freedom of fire, I can feel that, but something never hits right with it. I think I'm just meant to be a singular study sort of mage." She shrugged.

"It seems to be how magic manifests in most people." Virgil nodded. "I've known many mages like that."

"I have met a few mages other than myself, but they are all capable of more than me." Sera sighed. "But that is all right, it serves me well enough."

The cook set a plate before her and it startled her a little.

"Oh thank you." She smiled at him. "I appreciate it."

He just gave her a smile and went back to work.

"I am surprised you don't survive on only fish." Sera commented. "Although I can only guess fishing at sea can be difficult."

"It is not difficult if you know how to do it." Virgil told her.

"But what if you caught a monster or something? That would be problematic. Potentially fatal." Sera did not enjoy the idea of meeting a sea monster or dragon.

"It is the luck of the draw." He gave a short shrug.

"Are you not eating?" Sera asked.

"No, not for a while yet." He shook his head. "Don't worry on me."

"You've made a grave mistake if you believe I won't. It is in my nature to care about my friends." She said softly, tinge of blush on her cheeks.

"Friends already? I didn't think you considered us so." He sounded genuinely surprised.

"Well, I mean," Sera stumbled. "You have been a great help. And you are giving me a ride, and not to mention, you saved my life. If that doesn't warrant friendship at least you haven't met very nice people."

"I am glad." Virgil slow nodded with a smile. "Perhaps we will adventure more then."

Her stomach did a flip flop. "Perhaps." She agreed with a smile.

Some hours later Virgil had the ship halted and a boat lowered before handing Sera a spyglass.

"That cabin there in the tree line is your destination." He told her.

"Right." Sera nodded. "You coming with?"

"I'll stay in the boat, but I'll get you to shore." He nodded.

"His name was Kendrick, yes?"

"Indeed."

"Good." Sera nodded again at the confirmation.

Sera slid down the ladder into the boat first and grabbed the oars as she sat.

"You don't have to row us." Virgil told her.

"It's not that hard a job." Sera chuckled with a shrug and got to work. "Besides, you've done a lot today."

If she was determined, he wasn't going to stop her. She had a fire about her when she was focused and he wasn't sure he could douse it.

Safely nestled into the sand, Sera hopped from the boat and wandered towards the hut. It reminded her of her home in the woods actually, the structure was similar. The chimney was at the center of the house, indicating the fire pit was in the center and a loft above for sleeping while the floor remained open. It was a bit nostalgic.

"Hello?" She called. "Anyone home?"

"Who goes?" A man's voice called from around back.

"I'm sorry to bother you--are you Kendrick perchance Sir?" Sera asked.

He came around the hut, wiping his hands on an apron without looking at her first. He looked quite a bit like her father actually, they could have been brothers. Built men with fuzzy brown hair. "Yes, now what can I do for you?"

"I hear you knew my father. Javvyn Kacela." Sera told him.

The man finally liked at her and his face went white as the moon. He looked ill.

"What is this sorcery!" He growled.

"Sir?" She asked, not understanding.

"Have you come to torment me? Begone foul beast!" He was angry, picking up the closest thing too him, which happened to be a shovel.

"I don't understand." Her words were calm but her hand itched towards her sword reflexively.

"Do not play with me creature! Leave at once or I'll gut you!" He yelled.

"Kendrick, please, I just wanted to ask--" Sera had to dodge as the older man came at her, swinging the shovel.

"I will not be tempted by you, enchantress!" He went on, coming at her again. "You took my brother but you will not have me!"

"Brother...?" Sera dodged again. "Are you my uncle...?"

"Do not make up stories creature! You will pay for what you have done!" As he came at her again, she ducked under his arm, pulled his empty hand behind his back, and kicked his knees out from under him. She was able to hold him down, but only just, due to her injury. The pain swelled and she winced.

"Please listen to me, Kendrick. I know not what it is you think I am, but I am Javvyn's daughter. Your niece. And I would like to know my story."

"It matters not who you say you are! He left because of you and your wicked magics. Child or mother you are both of the same lot!" He reared, knocking her backwards.

Sera rolled and stood back up, swearing softly and holding a hand to her side. It hadn't come open, luckily. "What magics? What happened?"

"She came to the village in the dead of night, a small dark elf child in tow. Fair skin and fair hair, like some kind of myth. We took her in when the elders advised us against doing so. She danced by the fire at midnight and so enchanted my poor brother. They vanished into the night soon thereafter without a trace." He finally explained, tearfully. "You have her likeness! I will not fall for the illusions again!"

"I do not have magics like that. Nor would I use them on my own uncle if I did." Sera told him disgustedly. "Are you saying that the person I should be searching for is my mother...?"

"I'm saying stay away from me!" He held the shovel between them like a barrier.

"Did she leave a name at least?" Sera asked.

"Lucinda." Kendrick spat. "Now begone! Final warning creature!"

"Fine, fine. I will go." Sera backed away slowly until at a safe distance and then turned back to the boat.

She returned and pushed it back out onto the water before hopping in. Sera groaned a bit at her throbbing side but was able to ignore it due to the thoughts in her mind.

"What happened lass? You do not look well." Virgil asked with worry in his voice. She was tousled like she'd been behind a barn with a boy but the look of disappointment on her face gave way to something else.

"I'll...tell you after I've wrapped my head around it first, if you don't mind..." Sera looked at him sadly, wrapping her arms around her knees to set her head down.

"All right." He nodded, beginning to row back to the ship.

Sera was visibly upset and shaken. He would have jumped into that brawl actually had he thought her unable to handle it.

Aboard the Leviathan again, Sera looked at him. "Thank you. Again. For everything."

"It was no trouble." Virgil shook his head. "What happened?"

"I...I don't know." Sera said. "He would not speak civilly to me. Apparently he is my uncle. Called me an enchantress--mistook me for presumably whomever my mother was and blamed her for my father running off. Something about dancing with fire and a dark elf child."

"Hmm." Virgil frowned.

"I am not certain he was entirely himself. Fear does strange things to people." Sera sighed. "I thought maybe there would be answers here, but here I am, more confused."

"Sounds like we've got to find that mother of yours." Virgil grinned.

"I wish it were that easy. Pap always told me she had passed away having me but...I wonder now if maybe she left him."

"Then we should search."

"I don't even know where to start with that." Sera banged her head softly on the rail. "I need a drink."

"Back to port then." Virgil said, turning to call orders to the crew.

"I appreciate all your help, truly." Sera told him honestly. "I would not have gotten this far at all without it."

"Think nothing of it lass." He shook his head. "A pretty lass in need of assistance will always have my help."

"I have no way to repay you though. I would like to give you more than just my thanks." Sera frowned a little.

"Hmm. I will think on it then. Perhaps we can come to a suitable conclusion. But later, you look like some rest would do you well. You're whiter than snow." He didn't hide his worry very well.

"Am I?" Sera looked at her arms and sure enough. "I suppose I did just take a wee bit of a shock. Fine, I'll rest a bit. But you should answer all my sailing questions in the meantime."

"Of course." Virgil winked.

The Windy Sails was full to bursting that evening. Virgil had accompanied Sera back to the floating tavern and decided to stay a while in case of trouble. She still looked off, despite her best efforts to hide it. They sat themselves alone in a corner, trying to stay away from the rowdy patrons.

After a couple drinks, Sera started softly singing along with the sultry sea shanties the thugs would sing, mucking up the words a bit but still trying. Being the only woman in the tavern did catch the eye of two larger patrons. They wandered over to the twosome with friendly expressions. Still, Virgil didn't trust them just yet.

"You sing lady?" One asked Sera straightforwardly.

"Not in front of people, no." She told him.

"You should try. Been a while since this tavern's had any real entertainment." The other told her. "Nobody will fault you if it's bad."

"True, they're too drunk to care." The first chuckled.

"I..." Sera looked at Virgil and then back at the burly set of men. "I suppose I could try."

"Excellent!" They bellowed, both offering their hands to her to walk her through the crowd. They helped her up onto a center table and the tavern grew quiet.

"Er...I don't know all that many songs, um," She stammered.

"Give us a sad sea shanty!" Someone in the back that she couldn't see called.

"All right, uh," Sera quieted her mind a moment to think of one. Her father had sung one to her as a girl, told her her mother would sing it to her but now she didn't know what to believe on that front.

"My Bonnie lass is shaking
Her dreams are falling through
And every time I see her face
I feel like I am too

Some say I should give up on her
Some days I feel it's true
But I can't give up on her now
And forever miss her tune

Her voice rings like the sweetest rain
During a midsummer storm
She doesn't use it every day
But I know it when she mourns

My Bonnie lass loves the sea
Spends all her time at the shore
And one day I went to look for her
Ask what she was looking for

Alas my Bonnie lass had left me
Left me for those blue rolling waves
I will be without her now
For the rest of my lonely days

Gone like a siren after a storm
But my Bonnie lass is nigh
Just off into the sunrise
Her golden colored eyes

My Bonnie lass has left me
The sea has called her back
My love has left me all alone
My heart with a seeping crack"

There was an applause from the drunk men filling the tavern. Sera blushed very little for how nervous she was, most likely due to the liquid courage she had been sipping on all night. She gave them a bow and hopped down from the table to rejoin Virgil in the back.

"You never told me you could sing lass." He chuckled.

"Well I'm certainly no siren but I like to think maybe I could put a babe to sleep." She shrugged. "I'm sorry I've been so quiet."

"You've had quite a day, I understand."

"Yes but it's still rude." Sera frowned. "You even brought me all the way back."

"That is because I have decided to stay a while." Virgil told her. "I'm beginning to like being by the shore."

"Not words I ever thought to hear from a pirate, for sure." Sera snorted with a grin.

"This port has a lot to offer a man." He shrugged.

"True. It isn't as though you wouldn't find some kind of work, since you do already have a ship and all. And you wouldn't have a problem finding yourself someone to bed with." Sera nodded.

"That remains to be seen." He said.

"To be fair, Virgil, we are in a tavern full of men. If men aren't your thing, you're looking in the wrong place." Sera had never used his name before and it rolled off her tongue in a weird way that she could not describe at the time.

"Did it ever strike you that perhaps the one who is likeness to my fancy is also in a tavern full of men? Ones who would not hesitate to jump her the first chance they got?"

Sera swallowed her drink hard and coughed a little. He could be rather forward it seemed. "I can take a few of them."

"Not with those injuries." Virgil frowned.

"Fair point." Sera sighed. "Yet again, I have much reason to thank you. I'm accruing quite the debt with you it seems."

"I've thought of a way you might repay it actually, if you've a mind."

"Oh?"

"Join my crew."

Sera snorted. "Really? Just like that?"

"I could use someone with your abilities. And you've yet to hear all my jests."

"That's rather tempting..." Sera thighs hard on it a moment.

"Come on Firefly, it will be a grand adventure." There was promise in his voice.

The only way she would ever find out more about her parentage would be to travel. Her heart dropped into her stomach. This was exactly what she had been thinking of that morning. It was like he knew her hearts desires better than she did.

"All right. Consider me on board." She chuckled at her own pun. "I'll move my things in the morning."

"Excellent." His smile was heart stopping gorgeous.

"That being said, I've had enough to drink, and I should sleep." Sera stood and finally the last drink hit her. She wobbled a little and got her footing. "I'll see you bright and early then, Captain."

"I'll be waiting, Firefly." He winked.

Sera made way back to her room. She waved her hand to light up the candles inside to give herself some light so she could ready for bed, but did not get the chance. A figure hit her over the head with a blunt object, and everything went black.

Chapter Text

Shivering herself awake, Sera mumbled something about not liking the cold. She hid herself under her fur blankets, but alas, eventually she could not stand the chill.

She rose sleepily and brought the fire pit at the centre of the hut to life again with a wave over her hand. As she threw some logs on it she heard someone outside. Huffing and walking into a plume of her own warm breath she opened the door. Sera was greeted by the crisp morning air of mid winter and some stray snowflakes.

"Pap? What are you doing?" She called out.

"Working." His response carried on the wind, as though he was in the forge at the side of the house.

Frowning, Sera melted the snow before her and went to see what working meant. "Pap it's hardly past sunrise."

"It is never too early to start work. You'll learn that someday my girl." He chuckled.

"What are you working on?" Sera yawned, leaning on one hip to watch him.

"I had me an idea for a birthday present for you." The burly man smiled.

"Pap, have you gone daft? My birthday is half a year away still." Sera couldn't help but smile. He was always planned farther ahead than she did.

"I know but the idea struck me suddenly and I had to get to work." He shrugged.

"What is it?" Sera asked.

"Well if I told you it would ruin the surprise. Go back and get some more sleep if you can, we'll need that fire to melt some snow later." He set down his project, Sera couldn't make out what it was, and kissed her forehead. "I love you, Sera."

"Love you too Pap." She giggled.

Giggled herself awake.

A searing pain in the back of her skull was the first thing Sera noted when she came to. Aside from the bile in her stomach threatening to rise into her mouth at frightening speed. And the swaying! Why was everything swaying so? Perhaps there was a storm outside the tavern?

Come to think of it, the room was much too dark. Sera wondered if she had wandered into the wrong room somehow. That thought seemed accurate enough, seeing as how she was laying on the floor.

After taking a long moment to let her stomach settle, she hoisted herself into a sitting position. She reached for her sword, but it was not at her side. Strange, she thought to herself, she would never have removed it until getting to her room. But then again she had clearly gone into the wrong one. Misunderstanding. It had to be.

Sera thought a moment on her dream. It had been some time since she had last dreamed of her father. The events of the day before had taken quite the emotional toll on her. What sort of magic caused men to abandon their homes and wander with a stranger? She shuddered at the idea.

As she went to stand, there was a clang as she hit her head on something cold and hard. Why was the ceiling so low? She wondered, the throbbing pain in her head now tenfold. She swore softly. She cuoldn't focus her thoughts to even conjure herself a ball of fire for light. Something certainly felt off now. Listening, Sera could not hear the sounds of the harbor. In fact, all she heard was the wind against sails.

"What the he--" She started but a door opened somewhere and pain exploded behind her eyes adding to the throbbing, as light streamed into the pitch black room.

"She woke!" A man laughed. "Shall I bring her?"

Sera did not hear the response in trying to shield her eyes from the assaulting sunlight. Footsteps came closer to her and the creaking of rusty hinges sounded. Unable to see, Sera moved as quick as her weakened body would allow but the man was quicker due to not being hindered. He caught her by her long ginger hair and yanked her behind him. Sera yelped in pain and did her best to not be dragged by her hair. He dropped her on the deck, her eyes were finally adjusting so she could tell that much.

Everything was spinning now. The pain in her head worsened with every moment in the light. Due to the rocking of the ship her stomach could not hold its churning and promptly after landing on her stomach she vomited everything she had eaten the day before. Fish did not taste good going in the other direction, she noted.

"Anyone feel like fish?" Sera asked. No one had said anything since she had been dropped.

"Not particularly." A familiar voice sounded from behind her.

"Shame, that." Sera shook her head slowly, trying to sit up. A boot to the back stopped her and she coughed at the force of her chest hitting the deck.

"You have been up to all kinds of trouble since our last meeting." The man continued. "Normally I would just add you to my collection, but you cost me far too much gold when you let my slaves free."

Someone roughly grabbed her shoulders and forced her to sit up, and she recognized the face that matched the voice.

"Say, that black eye looks pretty good on you. Maybe I should make the other match." She glared at him.

"You are at a disadvantage. I had someone spike your ale last night. You won't be moving right for another several hours at best. Not that you'll be living that long."

"That explains the moving like an old maid. Thanks for that." Sera rolled her eyes.

"No one will be saving you this time, either." His grin was that of a madman. He got off on this sort of thing.

Sera's heart was going so fast she thought it might erupt from her chest. Her head hurt so badly she couldn't focus on magic, and she could hardly move at all as it was. Damn. Damn everything. He reached out his hand and caressed her cheek before slapping her with all his might. Sera leaned to the side and retched again at the pain it caused.

She was violently jerked around and someone tore at her clothes. Sera did her best to flail and kick, adrenaline helping a little, but she was still no match for the several slavers holding her down in this state. Naked and vulnerable, she was then shoved face down and held her by the arms to the deck.

"When they find your body, they'll know who not to cross next time." The captain told her. He straddled her lower back, making her kicks useless.

Sera had thought the worst pain she had ever felt was having to cauterize her side wound a few days ago, but between the headache and what came next, she had been so wrong. He threw her hair over her head so it was out of his way. Sera didn't have to see him smiling to know he was. He traced a blade over her back gently for what felt like forever. Teasing her for what was to come.

After an agonizing few minutes of fear play he dug it into her skin with no mercy, carving out his personal sigil into her skin. He ignored her screams. He was used to those at this point. Sera's nails dug into the wood of the deck, breaking and bloody by the time he was done.

How had this come to pass? Sera blinked and lost tears as she did so. What she wouldn't have given to be beside Marin again at that moment. Having avoided this all together and done something productive with her life, something for the greater good of her home, rather than her own selfish desires to discover her history.

Someone took her by the hair again, and yanked her over to the edge of the deck. "I hope the creatures of the deep don't ruin that sigil before you reach shore."

Sera would not beg for her life. He wanted it and she refused. The anger ignited the fire inside her and in a brief moment of numb clarity Sera reached a weak arm to touch his face. His smirk was disgusting.

"Perhaps I should let the boys have a go at you before I toss you overboard. It's been a while, after all."

Pleased cheering rang out from several men.

"Since you all agree--" he laughed but it was cut short when the entire ship rocked violently. "The bloody hell was that?"

In answer it did so again.

"SEA SERPENT!" The watchman cried.

"Damn." He swore, not letting go of her hair. While he was distracted, Sera focused all the will she could muster into her hand, searing his face. He screamed and finally dropped her, as the smell of cooking flesh wafted across the deck.

The ship jolted again and she lost her balance, falling backwards into the sea. Sera didn't even have the energy to try swimming, so she floated a moment and managed a deep breath before going under. Her eyes opened as she sank, watching the fading light of the sun. It burned but her entire being hurt, so it was irrelevant in the scheme of things.

Something...something shimmered in the water before her. Something one with the sea but separate. She was losing air but she faintly made out the form of a dragon. If this was the end, so be it. Her last bit of air escaped her and she let go of her worldly worries. One mistake lead to this. One need for answers. One...attractive...pirate...

"Come on lass, breathe!" That was the first thing she heard. The pounding on her chest came second followed by what she would later call the breath of life. Involuntarily she vomited sea water. Immediately gasping for air, Sera tried to sit up but was held with a hand to her shoulder. "That's a good lass. Breathe slower."

Her eyes burned and would have to readjust again to the light assaulting her. Her head hurt even worse than before now. Sight being useless at the moment, her sense of touch was in high alert. Someone draped a blanket over her for some decency and she was quite grateful. When she finally caught up on her oxygen intake and immediately remembered the pain in her back. A sharp gasp left her and she rolled to her side to not be on it.

Everything was spinning but she managed, "Dragon!"

"That thing that took down the other ship? No lass that was just a sea serpent."

"I know what I saw!" She hissed. Sera's eyes finally adjusted to the sunlight and she realized who it was she was speaking to. "Virgil...? How...?"

"That is not important right now. Your wound needs to be bandaged." He shook his head.

"Killing me may be kinder." Sera grumbled. She attempted to move but simply lacked the strength. Every motion hurt more than the last.

"This may hurt a bit," Virgil told her before lifting her himself and carrying her off to the cabin. Sera winced hard at the motion but inched her arms around his neck to hang on.

"Thank you." Sera murmured.

"I would not thank me yet, some of those lashes are going to need stitches." He frowned but she couldn't see it.

"Oh boy." Sera rolled her eyes. Since they had adjusted to the sun, her eyes had to readjust to the dimness of the cabin. Weakly, she lifted her left hand and made the room come alight with fireflies.

Sera found herself feeling more at home when able to see. She regretted not taking his invitation from the day before and seeing the inside of the cabin. The circumstances would have been much more desirable.

It seemed he had been to every corner of the world and then some. There were all sort of baubles and trinkets laying about, shiny things and shimmery things she didn't even have a name for. Sera couldn't help but stare about the room in awe, momentarily feeling relieved from her pain like some kind of mystic haze had come over her.

Virgil set her in her blanket upon his bed for a moment and crossed the room to get something. "Lass, lay flat on your belly there. If those don't get tended to they'll fester."

"Sure..." Dizzy and exhausted, she did as instructed. Sera couldn't help but feel safe there. On all accounts it had been a rough day, and Virgil had done nothing but show kindness to her, so of course she had a mighty amount of trust in him. She felt like she could sleep for a century.

He on the edge of his bed and fiddled with some string and a needle a moment. She knew the pain would be worse if she styled awake. So Sera let the adrenaline rush go and promptly fell into a shirt coma like state.

Several hours later she groaned awake. That was probably the hardest sleep she had ever had. It was going to take a while to even feel awake from that. Apparently she had not moved an inch since she had fallen asleep on her stomach. That lurching in her stomach felt quite a bit better after some real sleep, although her head still felt as though it would split in two.

"How was your nap?" Virgil asked, having pulled up a chair beside her.

"I feel like a new woman." Sera shook her head. "Mostly. My head is killing me."

"Do you remember what happened to you?" He asked seriously.

"Bits and pieces." Sera propped one arm under her chest to be up a little straighter and winced at the movement. That was a lie. She remembered every word. "How did you reach me in time?"

"I set sail right behind them when I went to help you gather your things. No one tangles with my crew members."

"I...thank you. Again."

"I only wish I had gotten there sooner." His frown could drown a nation with the power it let off.

"I'm alive, aren't I? That's more than enough for me. I have got to stop getting into these situations."

"Yes, you do." Virgil was being serious and had she not been injured she might have had a laugh over it. It was short lived however. "I thought you could handle yourself."

"Barring the drugged abduction, I can handle myself." Sera rolled her eyes. "Oh, and swimming. I can't handle that either."

"You're going to have to learn if you wish to sail." Virgil told her.

"Well, clearly you're a fantastic swimmer, so perhaps you should teach me." She grinned.

"First thing I plan to do, once you can move again." He promised, standing and retrieving a set of clothes. "As much as I enjoyed the view, you will need these outside this cabin. They'll be big I think but they'll have to do for now."

"Right..." Sera realized something and let out a gasp, reaching for--oh Creator's mercy it was still around her neck. "Oh goodness." She sighed.

"That trinket important to you?" Virgil asked curiously.

"My father made it for me the summer before he passed for my birthday. I don't know what I would do if I lost it because some slaver decided I deserved a punishment for hindering his efforts." Her voice cracked just the slightest bit at the thought.

"I see." He nodded. "I think we all have something that important to us."

Sera rolled and pulled the blanket with her for cover, wincing the entire time. Every movement was agony.

"Do you need help getting this on?" Virgil asked, holding out the spare set for her.

"I think I got it." Sera shook her head, taking it from him. "I appreciate that though."

"As you wish." He nodded. "I'll be right outside should you change your mind."

"All right." She nodded. The shirt actually wasn't too long on her, it hardly covered her bottom. She was thankful for the pants that came with it. Pulling them all on was delicate work, but she managed without asking for assistance, and Sera was a bit proud of her small accomplishment.

She used this time to reflect on what she did remember. The smell of old ale and blood from the deck of the ship. The laughter of the slavers. Sinking, weightlessly...

"VIRGIL!" Sera called.

He opened the door with record speed. "What is it?"

"There was a dragon!" She gasped. "I remember!"

"Lass, you swallowed too much seawater." He shook his head, relieved that she was all right. "If there was a dragon about we would all be dead."

"No, I really did see it." Sera insisted. "He didn't seem unfriendly."

"Maybe you should lay down for a while longer, until your head clears." Virgil crossed the room to stand before her, almost as if to say she had no choice. Sera took note of his peculiar eyes once more.

"It was the same color as your eyes, incidentally." She commented softly. "It seems I did have someone looking out for me after all."

"You really are beginning to worry me with that speak lass. Please get some more rest." His ocean eyes looked pleading.

"Only if you stay." Sera shook her head. "I'm not sure I trust your entire crew yet."

"After what you just endured, I am not surprised. So be it." Virgil sat and rolled to the inside of his bed and left her a space so she could get up easily if she needed to.

Her face went a bit pink. She had more meant just for him to stay in the room, but this was his home after all.

Sera sat herself slowly down onto the mattress and scooted back a ways before biting her lip to pull her legs up. Sleeping would help her ignore the pain at least, so that was something. Otherwise she was going to need quite a bit of alcohol. The swaying of the ship did nothing to help her headache. In time she got used to it though, and it lulled her back into a slumber deep enough to rival a bear in winter.

Sera had always been an active dreamer. Her imagination truly knew no bounds while off in the dream land. She used to tell her father all the time of them in the mornings. Sometimes they were filled with magic or adventure, others those horrible nightmares that would make her stay awake until her body gave out from exhaustion. This continued long into her adulthood until his passing.

She couldn't help feeling that her subconscious was trying to tell her something when all she would dream about was dragons and misadventures for the entirety of the next fortnight. Well, when she wasn't having nightmares about the slavers, that was.

While hardly able to move yet, Sera had managed to get out and about from the cabin at least a few times. The crew was utterly respectful and she had to remind herself they were pirates at times. She trusted them enough for the time being anyhow. Still, Sera had been staying in the cabin with Virgil.

Despite their joking, they slept separately. Each with their own blanket and a couple pillows separating them. This was a good enough arrangement for the moment. Sera insisted that she would sleep with the rest of the crew as soon as she was comfortably mobile. He did not protest, but he didn't exactly seem fond of the idea either. As time went on, Sera was less fond of it as well. It was nice, falling asleep knowing she was safe. Not that she wouldn't feel safe with the rest of them, but this was...different.

She had fallen asleep one afternoon and begun to dream again of the injurious adventure of weeks past and woke with a jolt.

"Oh..." She mumbled.

"What is it?" Virgil asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. Upon closer inspection, he was fiddling sewing something she couldn't quite see.

"I had a dream about when I was drowning. The dragon I saw." Sera yawned, slowly sitting up. Her back felt a bit better, she didn't wish to die with every movement anymore. Some of her stitches had even come out.

"I'm telling you, there was no dragon. I would have seen it." He shook his head.

"I know what I saw. I'm just not sure what it means." Sera insisted with a frown.

"It means you swallowed too much seawater, lass." Virgil chuckled.

"Maybe it's a sign. That I'm meant for great things. I just don't feel it was an ordinary omen."

"If you say so." The blond shrugged, focusing on his task.

"I would be a very humbled mortal if it had been the water dragon himself." She chuckled at the idea. Her imagination had gotten ahead of her again. But there was always the 'what if'?

Virgil had a laugh. "You're just full of ideas, aren't you?"

"Mmhmm." She nodded. "But I know when something is an idea and when it is real."

"That remains to be seen." He turned to smile at her. "I see you're feeling better."

"Much better." Sera told him. "Thanks to your careful care. I might be walking unassisted in the next day or so."

"Willing to give it a go?"

"I'd try a lot of things with you, Ocean Eyes." She teased, moving slowly to sit beside him.

Virgil gave her a smirk. Their jesting had gotten quite serious over the course of the past couple weeks.

Sera got her wobbly legs to stand her up at least, and holding onto the swaying wall, she managed around the room once before sitting back down beside the captain.

"I bet if it wasn't swaying I could get it." She frowned.

"You just haven't gotten your sea legs. You'll get them yet."

"Before or after I fall in and drown?" Sera groaned. "At least I'm not seasick, that would be a tragedy."

"Mostly to my cabin." Virgil sighed.

Sera sat back down and winced at the pain in her back. "At this rate I'll have to re-train my sword arm."

"I can help with that." Virgil offered, setting a hand to one of his blades.

"Is there nothing you can't do?" Sera raised a brow, incredulous.

"I've just picked a few things up, here and there." He shrugged.

"You're really not that much older than myself, unless looks are deceiving." Sera looked him over in the face. No older than mid thirties, hardly a decade older than her.

"They can be." He said, watching her hazel eyes study him. "But I am as old as you believe I am."

"In that case you're ancient." She giggled, but winced. "Sometimes I feel like I've opened it again, and I'm so glad I'm wrong."

"I'd rather you not open that wound again, yes." He looked at her seriously before getting back to work.

"Because of the blood or because under that exterior you do actually care?" Sera teased him.

"Blood, of course. Not good for white sheets lass." Virgil winked.

"You haven't had a woman aboard in some time then." Sera snorted.

"That does bring a valid point...I should invest in a deeper color."

"Purple's always a nice addition." Sera suggested innocently.

"Are you suggesting it because it's helpful or because you want it?" He raised a brow.

"Helpful, of course." She couldn't help but snort laugh at the turn of conversation and regretted it yet again. "In any case, it's worked out for you."

"Has it?"

"Now you've someone to banter with who hasn't heard your jokes a thousand times."

"That is true." He tied off the string and held up a long, green tunic in the dim light of the fireflies. "Here, now you can have your own clothes again."

"Handy with a needle? How is it you don't have a pirate wife nagging at you?" Sera gasped.

"I've yet to find me a pretty lass who can keep up." Virgil shrugged, setting his completed project next to him.

"Well sign me up, Captain." She laughed but her heart felt like it had just done a flip.

Truly, her intent two weeks ago was to never see him again, and yet here she was. Sera was not sure what it was about him that intrigued her so. Having spent more time with him she still could not place exactly what it was.

Occasionally he would look off into the distance and seem lost in thought. Peaceful and exotic. Then he would catch her staring and make a jest at her asking about her intentions with him, and she usually responded something vulgar to make them both laugh.

Sera came back from her thoughts. "Thank you, again. I promise to be more helpful when I can move fully again."

"Take your time lass, you won't be any help to anyone if you try to rush the healing process." He smirked. "Shall I requisition some chowder?"

"You know my stomach so well." She laughed softly as it gurgled.

"We have had the chance to become acquainted." Virgil winked and stepped from the room.

Sera had this feeling that the adventure had only just really begun.

On Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 1:53 PM, Nikki Abbey wrote:
Chapter 4

Shivering herself awake, Sera grumbled about not liking the cold. She hid herself under her fur blankets, but alas, eventually she could not stand the chill.

She rose sleepily and made the fire pit at the center of the hut alive again with a wave over her hand. As she threw some logs on it she heard someone outside. Huffing and walking into a plume of her own warm breath she opened the door. Sera was greeted by the crisp morning air of mid winter and some stray snowflakes.

"Pap? What are you doing?" She called.

"Working." He replied simply. He sounded as though at the forge on the side of the house.

Frowning, the ginger melted the snow before her and went to see what working meant. "Pap it's hardly past sunrise."

"It is never too early to start work. You'll learn that someday my girl." He chuckled.

"What are you working on?" Sera yawned, leaning on one hip to watch him.

"I had me an idea for a birthday present for you." The burly man smiled.

"Pap, have you gone daft? My birthday is half a year away still." Sera couldn't help but smile. He was always farther planned ahead than she was.

"I know but the idea struck me suddenly and I had to get to work." He shrugged.

"What is it?" Sera asked.

"Well if I told you it would ruin the surprise. Go back and get some more sleep if you can, we'll need that fire to melt some snow later." He set down his project--Sera couldn't make out what it was-- and kissed her forehead. "I love you, Sera."

"Love you too Pap." She giggled.

Giggled herself awake.

A searing pain in the back of her skull was the first thing Sera noted when she came too. That was aside from the acidity in her stomach threatening to rise into her mouth at frightening speed. And the swaying! Why was everything swaying so? Perhaps there was a storm outside the tavern?

Come to think of it, the room was much too dark. Sera wondered if she had wandered into the wrong room somehow. That thought seemed accurate enough, seeing as how she was laying on the floor.

After taking a long moment to make sure she would not vomit during the moving, she hoisted herself into a sitting position from her stomach. Her sword was not at her side. Strange, she would never have removed it until getting to her room. But then again she had clearly gone into the wrong one. Misunderstanding. Had to be.

Sera thought a moment on her dream. It had been some time since she had last dreamed of her father. The events of the day before had taken quite the emotional toll on her. What sort of magic caused men to abandon their homes and wander with a stranger? She shuddered at the idea.

As she went to stand she hit her head on a low bar. Why were there bars? The throbbing pain in her head now tenfold, she swore softly. She did not have the energy to even conjure herself a ball of fire for light. Something certainly felt off now. Listening, Sera could not hear the sounds of the harbor. In fact, all she heard was the wind against sails.

"What the he--" She started but a door opened somewhere and her hungover eyes were absolutely blinded by the light that came into the pitch black room.

"She woke!" A man laughed. "Shall I bring her?"

Sera did not hear the response in trying to shield her eyes from the assaulting sunlight. Footsteps came closer to her and the creaking of a cage door sounded. Unable to see, Sera moved as quick as her weakened body would allow but the man was quicker due to not being hindered. He caught her by her long ginger hair and yanked her behind him. Sera yelped in pain and did her best to not be dragged by her hair. He dropped her on the deck, her eyes were finally adjusting so she could tell that much.

Everything was spinning now. The pain in her head worsened with every moment in the light. Due to the rocking of the ship her stomach could not hold its churning and promptly after landing on her stomach she vomited everything she had eaten the day before. Fish did not taste good going in the other direction, she noted.

"Anyone feel like fish?" Sera asked. No one had said anything since she had been dropped.

"Not particularly." Another man told her flatly. He sounded familiar.

"Shame, that." Sera shook her head slowly, trying to sit up. A boot to the back stopped her and she coughed at the force of her chest hitting the deck.

"You have been up to all kinds of trouble since our last meeting." The man continued. "Normally I would just add you to my collection, but you cost me far too much gold when you let my slaves free."

Someone roughly grabbed her shoulders and forced her to sit up. Now she recognized the voice.

"Say, that black eye looks pretty good on you. Maybe I should make the other match." She glared at him.

"You are at a disadvantage. I had someone spike your ale last night. You won't be moving right for another several hours at best. Not that you'll be living that long."

"That explains the moving like an old maid. Thanks for that." Sera rolled her eyes.

"No one will be saving you this time, either." His grin was that of a madman. He got off on this sort of thing.

Sera's heart was going so fast she thought it might erupt from her chest. Her head hurt so badly she couldn't focus on magic, and she could hardly move at all as it was. Damn. Damn everything. He reached out his hand and caressed her cheek before slapping her with all his might. Sera leaned to the side and retched again at the pain it caused.

She was violently jerked around and someone tore at her clothes. Sera did her best to flail and kick, the adrenaline helping some with her hangover but she was no match for the several slavers holding her back in this state. Naked and vulnerable, two of the crew held her by the arms to the deck.

"When they find your body, they'll know who not to cross next time." The captain told her. He straddled her lower back, making her kicks useless.

Sera had thought the worst pain she had ever felt was having to cauterize her side wound a few days ago, but between the hangover and what came next, she had been so wrong. He threw her hair over her head so it was out of his way. Sera didn't have to see him smiling to know he was. He traced a blade over her back gently for what felt like forever. Teasing her for what was to come.

After an agonizing few minutes of fear play he dug it into her skin with no mercy, carving out his personal sigil into her skin. He ignored her screams all together. He was used to those at this point. Sera's nails dug into the wood of the deck, breaking and bloody by the time he was done.

How had this come to pass? Sera blinked and lost tears as she did so. What she wouldn't have given to be beside Marin again at that moment. Having avoided this all together and done something productive with her life, something for the greater good of her home, rather than her own selfish desires to discover her history.

Someone took her by the hair again, and yanked her over to the edge of the deck. "I hope the creatures of the deep don't ruin that sigil before you reach shore."

Sera would not beg for her life. He wanted it and she refused. The anger in her lit back up the fire she had inside and in a brief moment of numb clarity Sera reached a weak arm to touch his face. His smirk was disgusting.

"Perhaps I should let the boys have a go at you before I toss you. It's been a while, after all."

She heard pleased cheering from several men.

"Since you all agree--" he laughed but it was cut short when the entire ship rocked violently. "The bloody hell was that?"

In answer it did so again.

"SEA SERPENT!" The watchman cried.

"Damn." He swore, not letting go of her hair. While he was distracted, Sera took hold of his leg and put all her energy into burning it as badly as she possibly could. He screamed and finally dropped her, clutching his leg.

The ship jolted again and she lost her balance, falling backwards into the sea. Already unable to swim, Sera didn't have the energy it would take to try. She floated a moment and managed a deep breath before going under. Her eyes opened as she sank, watching the fading light of the sun. It burned but her entire being hurt, so it was irrelevant in the scheme of things.

Something...something shimmered in the water before her. Something one with the sea but separate. She was losing air but she faintly made out the form of a dragon. If this was too be it, so be it. Her last bit of air escaped her and she let go of her worldly worries. One mistake lead to this. One need for answers. One...attractive...pirate...

"Come on lass, breathe!" That was the first thing she heard. The pounding on her chest came second followed by what she would later call the breath of life. Involuntarily she vomited sea water. Immediately gasping for air, Sera tried to sit up but was held with a hand to her shoulder. "That's a good lass. Breathe slower."

Her eyes burned and would have to readjust again to the light assaulting her. Her head hurt even worse than before now. Sight being useless at the moment, her sense of touch was in high alert. Someone draped a blanket over her for some decency and she was quite grateful. When she finally caught up on her oxygen intake and immediately remembered the pain in her back. A sharp gasp left her and she rolled to her side to not be on it.

Everything was spinning but she managed, "Dragon!"

"That thing that took down the other ship? No lass that was just a sea serpent."

"I know what I saw!" She hissed. Sera's eyes finally adjusted to the sunlight and she realized who it was she was speaking to. "Virgil...? How...?"

"That is not important right now. Your wound needs bandaged." He shook his head.

"Killing me may be kinder." Sera grumbled. She attempted to move but simply lacked the strength. Every motion hurt more than the last.

"This may hurt a bit," Virgil told her before lifting her himself and carrying her off to the cabin. Sera winced hard at the motion but inched her arms around his neck to hang on.

"Thank you." Sera murmured.

"I would not thank me yet, some of those lashes are going to need stitches." He frowned but she couldn't see it.

"Oh boy." Sera rolled her eyes. Since they had adjusted to the sun, her eyes had to readjust to the dimness of the cabin. Weakly, she lifted her left hand and made the room come alight with fireflies.

Sera found herself feeling more at home when able to see. She regretted not taking his invitation from the day before and seeing the inside of the cabin. The circumstances would have been much more desirable.

It seemed he had been to every corner of the world and then some. There were all sort of baubles and trinkets laying about, shiny things and shimmery things she didn't even have a name for. Sera couldn't help but stare about the room in awe, momentarily feeling relieved from her pain like some kind of mystic haze had come over her.

Virgil set her in her blanket upon his bed for a moment and crossed the room to get something. "Lass, lay flat on your belly there. If those don't get tended to they'll fester."

"Sure..." Dizzy and exhausted, she did as instructed. Sera couldn't help but feel safe there. On all accounts it had been a rough day, and Virgil had done nothing but show kindness to her, so of course she had a mighty amount of trust in him. She felt like she could sleep for a century.

He on the edge of his bed and fiddled with some string and a needle a moment. She knew the pain would be worse if she styled awake. So Sera let the adrenaline rush go and promptly fell into a shirt coma like state.

Several hours later she groaned awake. That was probably the hardest sleep she had ever had. It was going to take a while to even feel awake from that. Apparently she had not moved an inch since she had fallen asleep on her stomach. That lurching in her stomach felt quite a bit better after some real sleep, although her head still felt as though it would split in two.

"How was your nap?" Virgil asked, having pulled up a chair beside her.

"I feel like a new woman." Sera shook her head. "Mostly. My head is killing me."

"Do you remember what happened to you?" He asked seriously.

"Bits and pieces." Sera propped one arm under her chest to be up a little straighter and winced at the movement. That was a lie. She remembered every word. "How did you reach me in time?"

"I set sail right behind them when I went to help you gather your things. No one tangles with my crew members."

"I...thank you. Again."

"I only wish I had gotten there sooner." His frown could drown a nation with the power it let off.

"I'm alive, aren't I? That's more than enough for me. I have got to stop getting into these situations."

"Yes, you do." Virgil was being serious and had she not been injured she might have had a laugh over it. It was short lived however. "I thought you could handle yourself."

"Barring the drunken abduction, I can handle myself." Sera rolled her eyes. "Oh, and swimming. I can't handle that either."

"You're going to have to learn if you wish to sail." Virgil told her.

"Well, clearly you're a fantastic swimmer, so perhaps you should teach me." She grinned.

"First thing I plan to do, once you can move again." He promised, standing and retrieving a set of clothes. "As much as I enjoyed the view, you will need these outside this cabin. They'll be big I think but they'll have to do for now."

"Right..." Sera realized something and let out a gasp, reaching for--oh Creator's mercy it was still around her neck. "Oh goodness." She sighed.

"That trinket important to you?" Virgil asked curiously.

"My father made it for me the summer before he passed for my birthday. I don't know what I would do if I lost it because some slaver decided I deserved a punishment for hindering his efforts." Her voice cracked just the slightest bit at the thought.

"I see." He nodded. "I think we all have something that important to us."

Sera rolled and pulled the blanket with her for cover, wincing the entire time. Every movement was agony.

"Do you need help getting this on?" Virgil asked, holding out the spare set for her.

"I think I got it." Sera shook her head, taking it from him. "I appreciate that though."

"As you wish." He nodded. "I'll be right outside should you change your mind."

"All right." She nodded. The shirt actually wasn't too long on her, it hardly covered her bottom. She was thankful for the pants that came with it. Pulling them all on was delicate work, but she managed without asking for assistance, and Sera was a bit proud of her small accomplishment.

She used this time to reflect on what she did remember. The smell of old ale and blood from the deck of the ship. The laughter of the slavers. Sinking, weightlessly...

"VIRGIL!" Sera called.

He opened the door with record speed. "What is it?"

"There was a dragon!" She gasped. "I remember!"

"Lass, you swallowed too much seawater." He shook his head, relieved that she was all right. "If there was a dragon about we would all be dead."

"No, I really did see it." Sera insisted. "He didn't seem unfriendly."

"Maybe you should lay down for a while longer, until your head clears." Virgil crossed the room to stand before her, almost as if to say she had no choice. Sera took note of his peculiar eyes once more.

"It was the same color as your eyes, incidentally." She commented softly. "It seems I did have someone looking out for me after all."

"You really are beginning to worry me with that speak lass. Please get some more rest." His ocean eyes looked pleading.

"Only if you stay." Sera shook her head. "I'm not sure I trust your entire crew yet."

"After what you just endured, I am not surprised. So be it." Virgil sat and rolled to the inside of his bed and left her a space so she could get up easily if she needed to.

Her face when a wee bit pink. She had more meant just for him to stay in the room, but this was his home after all.

Sera sat herself slowly down onto the mattress and scooted back a ways before biting her lip to pull her legs up. Sleeping would help her ignore the pain at least, so that was something. Otherwise she was going to need quite a bit of alcohol. The swaying of the ship did nothing to help her headache. In time she got used to it though, and it lulled her back into a slumber deep enough to rival a bear in winter.

Sera had always been an active dreamer. Her imagination truly knew no bounds while off in the dream land. She used to tell her father all the time of them in the mornings. Sometimes they were filled with magic or adventure, others those horrible nightmares that would make her stay awake until her body gave out from exhaustion. This continued long into her adulthood until his passing.

She couldn't help feeling that her subconscious was trying to tell her something when all she would dream about was dragons and misadventures for the entirety of the next fortnight. Well, when she wasn't having nightmares about the slavers, that was.

While hardly able to move yet, Sera had managed to get out and about from the cabin at least a few times. The crew was utterly respectful and she had to remind herself they were pirates at times. She trusted them enough for the time being anyhow. Still, Sera had been staying in the cabin with Virgil.

Despite their joking, they slept separately. Each with their own blanket and a couple pillows separating them. This was a good enough arrangement for the moment. Sera insisted that she would sleep with the rest of the crew as soon as she was comfortably mobile. He did not protest, but he didn't exactly seem fond of the idea either. As time went on, Sera was less fond of it as well. It was nice, falling asleep knowing she was safe. Not that she wouldn't feel safe with the rest of them, but this was...different.

She had fallen asleep one afternoon and begun to dream again of the injurious adventure of weeks past and woke with a jolt.

"Oh..." She mumbled.

"What is it?" Virgil asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. Upon closer inspection, he was fiddling sewing something she couldn't quite see.

"I had a dream about when I was drowning. The dragon I saw." Sera yawned, slowly sitting up. Her back felt a bit better, she didn't wish to die with every movement anymore. Some of her stitches had even come out.

"I'm telling you, there was no dragon. I would have seen it." He shook his head.

"I know what I saw. I'm just not sure what it means." Sera insisted with a frown.

"It means you swallowed too much seawater, lass." Virgil chuckled.

"Maybe it's a sign. That I'm meant for great things. I just don't feel it was an ordinary omen."

"If you say so." The blond shrugged, focusing on his task.

"I would be a very humbled mortal if it had been the water dragon himself." She chuckled at the idea. Her imagination had gotten ahead of her again. But there was always the 'what if'?

Virgil had a laugh. "You're just full of ideas, aren't you?"

"Mmhmm." She nodded. "But I know when something is an idea and when it is real."

"That remains to be seen." He turned to smile at her. "I see you're feeling better."

"Much better." Sera told him. "Thanks to your careful care. I might be walking unassisted in the next day or so."

"Willing to give it a go?"

"I'd try a lot of things with you, Ocean Eyes." She teased, moving slowly to sit beside him.

Virgil gave her a smirk. Their jesting had gotten quite serious over the course of the past couple weeks.

Sera got her wobbly legs to stand her up at least, and holding onto the swaying wall, she managed around the room once before sitting back down beside the captain.

"I bet if it wasn't swaying I could get it." She frowned.

"You just haven't gotten your sea legs. You'll get them yet."

"Before or after I fall in and drown?" Sera groaned. "At least I'm not seasick, that would be a tragedy."

"Mostly to my cabin." Virgil sighed.

Sera sat back down and winced at the pain in her back. "At this rate I'll have to re-train my sword arm."

"I can help with that." Virgil offered, setting a hand to one of his blades.

"Is there nothing you can't do?" Sera raised a brow, incredulous.

"I've just picked a few things up, here and there." He shrugged.

"You're really not that much older than myself, unless looks are deceiving." Sera looked him over in the face. No older than mid thirties, hardly a decade older than her.

"They can be." He said, watching her hazel eyes study him. "But I am as old as you believe I am."

"In that case you're ancient." She giggled, but winced. "Sometimes I feel like I've opened it again, and I'm so glad I'm wrong."

"I'd rather you not open that wound again, yes." He looked at her seriously before getting back to work.

"Because of the blood or because under that exterior you do actually care?" Sera teased him.

"Blood, of course. Not good for white sheets lass." Virgil winked.

"You haven't had a woman aboard in some time then." Sera snorted.

"That does bring a valid point...I should invest in a deeper color."

"Purple's always a nice addition." Sera suggested innocently.

"Are you suggesting it because it's helpful or because you want it?" He raised a brow.

"Helpful, of course." She couldn't not snort laugh at the turn of conversation and regretted it yet again. "In any case, it's worked out for you."

"Has it?"

"Now you've someone to banter with who hasn't heard your jokes a thousand times."

"That is true." He tied off the string and held up a long, green tunic in the dim light of the fireflies. "Here, now you can have your own clothes again."

"Handy with a needle? How is it you don't have a pirate wife nagging at you?" Sera gasped.

"I've yet to find me a pretty lass to keep up with myself." Virgil shrugged, setting his completed project next to him.

"Well sign me up, Captain." She laughed but her heart felt like it had just done a flip.

Truly, her intent two weeks ago was to never see him again, and yet here she was. Sera was not sure what it was about him that intrigued her so. Having spent more time with him she still could not place exactly what it was.

Occasionally he would look off into the distance and seem lost in thought. Peaceful and exotic. Then he would catch her staring and make a jest at her asking about her intentions with him, and she usually responded something vulgar to make them both laugh.

Sera came back from her thoughts. "Thank you, again. I promise to be more helpful when I can move fully again."

"Take your time lass, you won't be any help to anyone if you try to rush the healing process." He smirked. "Shall I requisition some chowder?"

"You know my stomach so well." She laughed softly as it gurgled.

"We have had the chance to become acquainted." Virgil winked and stepped from the room.

Sera had this feeling that the adventure had only just really begun.

Chapter Text

You'd think it impossible but somehow Sera had gone missing on the ship. It was after dark and they were out at sea. So while visibility was low there were only so many places she could get off to.

Another week had passed. Sera was mobile now, although still sore. She had been helping around the ship in what ways she was currently able. No one seemed to question her sleeping arrangements. Which was fine with her, it wasn't as though she had something to hide. Most of her time had been spent learning the ship and everything there was to know about sailing. Trying to remember it all at once though was proving futile for her.

Virgil eventually found her laying on her back by the helm, wrapped up in her blanket. "Dare I ask, lass?"

"I'm stargazing. They look so different out here than from the woods." She smiled up at him. "You spend all your time at sea, there's no way you haven't done this before."

"Not with a beautiful woman." He grinned.

"Right, you were more focused on her 'starry eyes' " Sera rolled her own hazel ones.

"I mean it," Virgil sat beside her before laying back.

"Do you know anything about the stars?" Sera asked, not at all bothered by him joining her.

"That depends on what you want to know?" He shrugged.

"Father pointed out all the dragons too me once, but I had wondered if you knew any stories that went with them. These things always have a story."

"What is it with this dragon obsession you have?" Virgil feigned incredulousness at her but by now she could see through it.

"Just humor me, Ocean Eyes." She grinned.

"I can not tell if you want to hear the story or if you just want to listen to me talk, Firefly." He eyed her.

"I guess you'll never know." Sera shrugged with a grin. That was a slip up.

"So you do like to listen to me."

"Only when you're not needlessly flirting with everyone that suits your fancy. You're pretty wise on all other accounts." She got it back.

Virgil chuckled. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"I don't give them often, hang onto it." Her eyes never left the stars. There was a wonder about her in such an innocent way. "That one there," she pointed. "That one's the fire dragon. I remember because the constellation looks kind of like he's breathing fire."

"Huh, it does, doesn't it?" He never paid any mind to the stars, save for navigation. "They say a brave knight challenged the dragon once."

"What happened?" Sera turned her head to look at him curiously.

"The man got fried alive of course."

"I wonder why he didn't just send him away. He didn't have to kill him."

"He had to show that he was not to be trifled with."

"But that could have also been shown with mercy." Sera looked back to the stars. "Those there, that's the earth dragon. He looks like he's sleeping peacefully atop a mountain."

"I read once he could nap for years at a time, and becomes very grumpy upon waking. That's what causes earth shakes."

"Ahaha he and I would have something in common." Sera laughed. "I very much detest being woken up."

"I noticed, every time I move you grumble." Virgil laughed as well.

"Sorry about that." She blushed and cleared her throat. "Er, anyways, that other there is the air dragon. Looks like he's flying about, free as the wind."

"Sailors are especially fond of him."

"That's all you have?"

"Need it be a long story?"

"No, I suppose not." Sera shook her head. "But I thought you could do better than that."

"True, I could. Once he set off a terrible storm because something of his was stolen. A Dragon Guardian had to retrieve it and return it before the storm subsided."

"Sounds like a dragon." Sera snorted. "Pap always told me they can be rather possessive creatures."

"He's right." Virgil nodded.

"Explains why the shrines are so fancy." Sera giggled, searching the starry sky with her eyes a moment and pointing out another constellation. "And that last one there is the water dragon. Looks like he's swimming."

"You sound fond of him." Virgil's brow raised, hearing the admiration in her voice.

"Well, I mean, if there was no sea, what are the odds that I would have even met you?" She said and turned to look at him again. "So yes, I think he's my favorite."

"He took a liking to a mortal, once." Virgil explained. "Dragons don't have much to fear, but he cowered from the idea that maybe she felt the same. So he kept her close, but far away all the same."

"What happened?" Sera rolled completely to hear the rest. "Surely they remained together? Did she find out who he was?" Her chest was heavy with questions.

"He did everything within his power to make sure she never knew his secret. He could see that she was falling for him and it frightened him. I do not know how the story ended however."

"Noooo, no that can't be how it ends!" She groaned and set her forehead against the deck. "Why would you tell me such a sad story?"

"It was the only one that came to mind." He said honestly.

"He should have showed her. If she really loved him she would have embraced his true self." Sera frowned.

"And if she found that she did not, what would he do?"

"I suppose it would be rather devastating for a god to find that the one they love is not in love with their real self." Sera sighed. "I just...what is the point if you don't try? You never give up on love."

"Says the woman who's never been in love before." He laughed. Virgil knew that wasn't true. He could plainly see that this woman was head over heels for him and she hid it with sarcasm and rolling eyes. She was afraid, and she should be. As hard as he tried to dissuade her she fell even harder for him. It was rather distressing to feel himself growing rather fond of her. This was unlike any other feeling he had ever had. Empowering.

It must have been all the time they had been spending together, he reasoned. Although that did not explain his continuous rescuing. He had always been the sort to help a woman in distress but Sera was something different than he had ever encountered. She was, mostly, able to defend herself. Her sense of adventure rivaled his own which was not something he was used to.

She was racking her brain to come up with a retort, she could never look him in the eyes when she was thinking so deeply. She always bit her lower lip hard when she thought and her necklace pendant somehow always ended in her hand.

"You are right. I have not been in love. But I still know I would fight for it. I feel it in my soul, so I know it's true." Sera finally responded. "I hope it ended well for them."

"I hope so too." Her response was genuine and he couldn't stop the smile it gave him. "Now, are you coming to bed lass? We dock tomorrow and I would like you to go gather something for me, if you feel up to it."

"Sounds good to me. I haven't had my feet on solid ground in a while." Sera nodded, slowly standing herself up. If she didn't move too fast her body responded well. She figured another week of soreness would be the last of it and she could train her body back to its previous state. All the resting was finally starting to agitate her.

"Say, though, if tomorrow night is just as nice, you should teach me some star navigation." Sera added as they wandered into the cabin. "I haven't had a chance to learn yet."

"Very well." Virgil nodded.

"Wonderful." Sera kicked off her boots and made herself comfortable. "I appreciate it."

"It is my pleasure." He chuckled as he made himself comfortable on the other side of the mattress.

The morning brought the pleasant scent of wet sand to Sera and she rolled to sit up much quicker than usual. She had not been off the ship since her timely rescue, let alone off the ocean waters. Solid ground felt a far off dream now.

As usual, Virgil was up before the sun. Sera was convinced the man didn't sleep, as he was often awake with her until after midnight. The more time she spent with him the less she wished to be parted. She'd grown fond of his charm and wit, even his sultry jests gave her amusement.

Sera yawned and stretched her warmed limbs. Moving was getting easier and easier. To keep it from her face in the sea wind, Sera tied her hair into a tight braid. Still it fell near to her posterior.

After pulling on her boots again she had a look around the cabin as she did every day. There were so many baubles and trinkets. Truly more than one could acquire in one lifetime, let alone the few years he could have possibly been at sea. Every time she brought it up though he either casually changed the subject or got busy doing something else. It was something he would have to answer eventually, she supposed.

Virgil was posted against the helm, boredly staring off at sea. His distant look softened when he saw her ascending the stairs. "Good morning lass."

"It's near mid day." Sera chuckled. "You could have woke me."

"And risk a fireball to the face? I value my looks too much to risk such a thing." He shook his head with a grin.

"It would be a shame if I melted it, you do have a handsome face." Sera agreed, stopping at the top of the stairs. "What was it I was supposed to be getting?"

"I paid someone to delve into a cave for me to gather something a time ago, and I got word recently they've returned with it." Virgil said. "I figured it an easy enough venture for you."

"You won't be going?" Sera asked curiously. She knew pirates loved the sea but not wanting to venture into the village seemed a bit strange. Perhaps he had made enemies here.

"No, I'll be staying here to mind the ship while you're gone if you don't mind." He shook his head.

"That is fine." Sera gave a shrug. "It's a fetch quest anyhow, I shouldn't run into trouble."

"Exactly." Virgil looked a bit relieved that she wasn't going to argue. "I've paid him in full already, so you just have to bring back the artifact."

"Sounds good. Who do I look for?"

"Short man, a built a bit like a baker, balding black hair." Virgil told her. "He'll be behind the trinket shop. Just tell him I sent you."

"All right, I'll be back soon then." Sera nodded with a smile, turning to go back down the stairs.

Virgil caught her arm gently and she turned. "Do be careful, Firefly. You've a knack for trouble."

"I'll do my best." She promised.

He waited a moment and let her arm slip from his grasp as though allowing a possession to be held by another. Carefully so as not to break it. Sera appreciated the softness he had when he did contact her so.

She slipped off onto the busy docks and gave him a cheerful wave before disappearing from the sight of the ship.

It was certainly strange to have solid ground beneath her feet again. It was rather off-putting at first in fact. Sera probably walked weirdly for twenty minutes before finally getting it again. She probably looked like a drunken tavern wench to anyone who saw her stumble about.

It didn't take her long to find the trinket shop. It was nestled next to the blacksmith which was hardly surprising. Sera took a deep breath and made her way around the shop to the alley behind it. Sure enough, a shady looking short man was leaning against the wall.

He eyed her as she approached cautiously. "Who goes?" He stared her down.

Sera responded simply; "Virgil sent me."

"Ah, I was wondering if he was ever coming for this thing." The man didn't lose his cautiousness, but became more friendly all the same. "Supposed to be here two weeks ago he was."

"That may have been my doing, I apologize." Sera said softly.

"Eh, he paid me good for it." The balding man shrugged. "Surprised he didn't come himself."

"I was a little surprised too. I bet he wants to see me get my sea legs all over again." Sera snorted with a fond grin.

The man reached into a hole in the wall behind him and pulled out a sword. The craftsmanship was superb. The hilt had a gem of sea green encrusted into the end of it. The blade was curved like those wielded by pirates.

"I see why he wanted it." Sera realized she was staring at it. "It's beautiful."

"That's what I thought when I acquired it." The man nodded his agreement. "The story is that this weapon was crafted by the water dragon himself but a greedy pirate somehow managed to steal it and take it ashore where the dragon could not venture."

"Some pirate Virgil is then, hiring someone to go get it for him." Sera snorted.

"He said something about 'not caring for the shore much'."

"Probably prefers diving adventures, I suppose. Sunken treasure and all that." Sera shrugged. It didn't matter to her though, honestly.

He handed her the blade, and Sera held it up for inspection. "It's light. It moves like air."

"I gave it a few swings too." He admitted. "You best get that back to him. He's a rather impatient fellow."

"Really?" Sera blinked. That was not something she had encountered yet.

"Perhaps it was just to me." The man frowned, but shook his head. "If he needs me, I'll be here."

"I shall inform him. Thank you." Sera nodded and made way back to the Leviathan.

Virgil was not there when she arrived. Sending her on an errand so he too could do one didn't seem out of character. Sera made herself busy by looking over the shiny blade.

The way it glinted in the sunlight gave it an ethereal feeling that she could not describe. Giving the blade a few gentle swings, Sera realized parting with this weapon was going to be difficult. It was perfect for her in every way.

Some hours passed and finally as Sera was going inside for a blanket Virgil appeared. He came up the gangplank and gave her a grin.

"I see you were successful."

"I was." Sera nodded, holding out the blade to him. "He told me to tell you he'd be there if you needed him again."

"Splendid." Virgil said softly, listening but looking over the sword in his hand. "Just as I remember it."

Sera raised a brow at him. "Huh?"

"Do you remember my telling you of the sirens in that cave? This was the treasure. I had since misplaced it but here it is again."

"Oh." Sera remembered. "It's...it's a blade like none other I've encountered. Is it made of magic?"

"Indeed. Very old magic at that." Virgil explained. "Nothing of its like has been forged since."

"I gave it a few soft swings earlier. It feels like nothing is there." Sera crossed her arms with a grin. "It should serve you well."

"I should hope, since you seem rather capable." He chuckled.

"What?" Sera blinked.

"This is a gift," Virgil tossed it and caught it on the flat side of the blade so as to not cut himself, holding the hilt out to her. "I'll need someone as fast as myself to be my first mate."

The response got stuck somewhere in her throat. He noticed her stunned silence and nodded to the sword in his hand again. It took a moment, but Sera gingerly reached out and took the blade from him.

"I...Virgil, I," Sera didn't have the words. She wanted to thank him, or promise to do good, or even hug him but she was rooted to the spot.

"You'll do good Firefly." He grinned, stepping closer to put a hand on her head. "We'll have a grand adventure."

Sera smiled largely and with some caution did throw her free arm around his torso in a hug. "Thank you." She finally managed to say it.

"You're very welcome." Virgil chuckled. "Now, let's set sail again."

"Where to?" Sera asked, pulling away from her hug finally.

"I haven't decided yet." He shrugged. "But we can decide later."

Sera nodded, that was true enough. "Shall I give the orders?"

"Be my guest." Virgil's grin made her knees a little weak.

Sera did her best to remember which sails needed used as she hollered orders to the crew. Only once did she get corrected. It was after dark at this point. After spending some time under a blanket learning star navigation, Sera's eyes finally would not stay open.

"You should sleep lass." Virgil insisted, seeing her nodding off during his instruction.

"No, no, I'm fine." Sera shook her head, trying to blink back the sleepiness. "I want to learn."

"You'll learn nothing while sleeping through my instruction." He pointed out. "Come, off to bed with you."

Truthfully, she just wasn't done spending time with him.

"B-but," Sera tried to protest. He had a serious yet mischievous look on his face and she never knew what he was planning when he got that way.

Having already been beside her, he slipped his arms around her and almost too easily picked her up.

"Must you be so difficult?" He joked.

"Must you be so persistent?" Sera laughed. "I can walk, you know."

"I trust you to move your feet about as much as I trust you to save a man from drowning, Firefly."

"All right, you got me." Sera rolled her eyes.

He did not set her down until he had kicked the cabin door closed behind them and walked to the bed. "There now, get some rest."

"Only because you're so insistent." Sera stuck her tongue out at him after alighting the room with fireflies. She smiled fondly at her new sword as she set it on the floor beside her and made herself comfortable. "You get some rest too, I've come to the conclusion that you do not sleep nearly enough."

"I will, here in a moment." He promised, tinkering with something across the room that she could not see.

"All right." She agreed softly, falling asleep very quickly.

Virgil had noticed that she had not been sleeping well. Nightmares of the slavers tugged at her near nightly. Some nights just a whimper and then peaceful sleep. Others she would call out softly, wake, and go back to sleep. He did not believe she remembered the dreams upon waking.

Progressively they were getting worse. An hour or so after he joined her to nap, Sera flailed a bit in her sleep and did not seem to be waking from this nightmare. He tossed the pillows from between them and caught her arms, lest she hurt one of them.

"Lass, wake yourself, it's just a dream. They can't hurt you anymore." He told her softly.

Sera woke at the contact of his catching her arms. She froze a moment, breathing hard. She did remember these dreams, unlike his prediction. She had hoped that he would not notice but this was not something she could pretend did not happen.

"I...I'm sorry." Sera whispered loud enough to hear but if she spoke any louder her voice would crack. She had never been more afraid in her life than that day with the slavers. As hard as she lied to herself about it her subconscious would not let it be.

"You need not apologize lass. I thought they would go away but it seems there is only one cure." He told her.

"You knew I had these? Oh, Creator's ass." She swore, trying to hide her face.

"Do not apologize for a thing you cannot control." Virgil told her straightly.

He moved himself and pulled her to him all at once so that she had no time to protest before her head was laying comfortably upon his chest.

"This will help you sleep." His arm wrapped around her side and he felt her trembles as she did her best not to cry.

She couldn't hide the sniffles however. "I shouldn't be afraid, but I can't forget about it."

"They will never hurt you again, you have my word."

Sera nodded against him and gradually with time fell back to sleep.
He couldn't help but see her this way and feel a tug in his chest. He would do his best to ignore it but...that was going to prove more difficult than he believed. Something about giving into the urge to hold her confirmed it inside him absolutely.

He'd fallen in love and hadn't even realized it.

Given thought it made sense. Virgil did feel this ridiculous urge to keep her safe at all costs. Seeing her afraid made him get protective. Watching her get teary eyed made him wish to hold her. She gave him amusement he hadn't felt in ages. Truly they had not known one another long, but the heart wanted what it wanted. And there was something else that he did not have words for.

He chuckled. Maybe that was it. She simply left him speechless. There was so much he wanted to share with her, but all things in due time. Too much at once could be overwhelming he knew.

It had been near an hour since she had fallen back to sleep now. He'd been so lost in thought he hadn't noticed really. Sera snored softly against him, no longer dreaming of darkness and fear. Finally, assured of their mutual comfort, he too drifter off a while.

Virgil had not left as he did every other morning in their time together. Sera assumed it due to her strong grip on his shirt as she slept. Apparently she had not moved at all since falling asleep. It was much needed rest however and her body was thanking her.

"Good morning Firefly." Virgil blinked awake, speaking in a husky half awake tone.

Sera had never heard his voice take that tone and had a short, quiet laugh. "Good morning, captain."

"Do you laugh at me?" He asked, sounding both shocked and amused.

"Only a little. I've never seen you sleepy. Usually you've been up and away already." Sera reminded him.

"What can I say lass, you've captured me." There was his usual candor.

"I'm sorry," Sera moved to sit up. "I ah...I appreciate what you did last night. Truly. That is the first time I've slept soundly in weeks."

"I am glad to have helped." That smile was genuine, it made her blush a little.

"Shall we get the adventure of the day started, then?" Sera asked, locking her hazel eyes with his oceanic blue ones.

"I like the way you think." Virgil sat up and nodded. "What do you think about hot springs?"

"I think a bath is long overdue." Sera had a laugh, finally not sore at the action.

"Then I know just the place." He winked, getting out of bed briskly and making way to the deck.

Sera watched him go and took a moment to herself to wake up a bit more. Had...did that really just happen? Waking up that way? Falling asleep like that?

'Creator give me guidance at this. Romance is...tricky.' Sera thought to herself, blushing as red as her hair.

On Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 1:53 PM, Nikki Abbey wrote:
Chapter 5

You'd think it impossible but somehow the ginger had gone missing on the ship. It was after dark and they were out at sea. So while visibility was low there were only so many places she could get off to.

Another week had passed. Sera was mobile now, although sore. She had been helping around the ship in what ways she was able currently. No one seemed to question her sleeping arrangements. Which was fine with her either way, it wasn't as though she had something to hide. Most of her time had been spent learning the ship and everything there was to know about sailing. Trying to remember it all at once was proving futile for the poor human redhead.

Virgil eventually found her laying on her back by the helm, wrapped up in her blanket. "Dare I ask, lass?"

"I'm stargazing. They look so different out here than from the woods." She smiled up at him. "You spend all your time at sea, there's no way you haven't done this before."

"Not with a beautiful woman." He grinned.

"Right, you were more focused on her 'starry' eyes." Sera rolled her own green ones.

"I mean it," Virgil sat beside her before laying back.

"Do you know anything about the stars?" Sera asked, not at all bothered by him joining her.

"That depends on what you want to know." He shrugged.

"Father pointed out all the dragons too me once, but I had wondered if you knew any stories that went with them. These things always have a story."

"What is it with this dragon obsession you have?" Virgil feigned incredulousness at her but by now she could see through it.

"Just humor me, Ocean Eyes." She grinned.

"I can not tell if you want to hear the story or if you just want to listen to me talk, Firefly." He eyed her.

"I guess you'll never know." Sera shrugged with a grin. That was a slip up.

"So you do like to listen to me."

"Only when you're not needlessly flirting with everyone that suits your fancy. You're pretty wise on all other accounts." She got it back.

Virgil chuckled. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"I don't give them often, hang onto it." Her eyes never left the stars. There was a wonder about her in such an innocent way. "That one there," she pointed. "That one's the fire dragon. I remember because the constellation looks kind of like he's breathing fire."

"Huh, it does, doesn't it?" He never paid any mind to the stars, save for navigation. "They say a brave knight challenged the dragon once."

"What happened?" Sera turned her head to look at him curiously.

"The man got fried alive of course."

"I wonder why he didn't just send him away. He didn't have to kill him."

"He had to show that he was not to be trifled with."

"But that could have also been shown with mercy." Sera looked back to the stars. "Those there, that's the earth dragon. He looks like he's sleeping peacefully atop a mountain."

"I read once he could nap for years at a time, and becomes very grumpy upon waking. That's what causes earth shakes."

"Ahaha he and I would have something in common." Sera laughed. "I much detest being woken up."

"I noticed, every time I move you grumble." Virgil laughed as well.

"Sorry about that." She blushed and cleared her throat. "Er, anyways, that other there is the air dragon. Looks like he's flying about, free as the wind."

"Sailors are especially fond of him."

"That's all you have?"

"Need it be a long story?"

"No, I suppose not." Sera shook her head. "But I thought you could do better than that."

"True, I could. Once he set off a terrible storm because something of his was stolen. A Dragon Guardian had to retrieve it and return it before the storm subsided."

"Sounds like a dragon." Sera snorted. "Pap always told me they can be rather possessive creatures."

"He's right." Virgil nodded.

"Explains why the shrines are so fancy." Sera giggled, searching the starry sky with her eyes a moment and pointing out another constellation. "And that last one there is the water dragon. Looks like he's swimming."

"You sound fond of him." Virgil's brow raised, hearing the admiration she tried to hide.

"Well, I mean, if there was no sea, what are the odds that I would have even met you?" She said and turned to look at him again. "So yes, I think he's my favorite."

"He took a liking to a mortal, once." Virgil explained. "Dragons don't have much to fear, but he cowered from the idea that maybe she felt the same. So he kept her close, but far away all the same."

"What happened?" Sera rolled completely to hear the rest. "Surely they remained together? Did she find out who he was?" Her chest was heavy with questions.

"He did everything within his power to make sure she never knew his secret. He could see that she was falling for him and it frightened him. I do not know how the story ended however."

"Noooo, no that can't be how it ends!" She groaned and set her forehead against the deck. "Why would you tell me such a sad story?"

"It was the only one that came to mind." He said honestly.

"He should have showed her. If she really loved him she would have embraced his true self." Sera frowned.

"And if she found that she did not, what would he do?"

"I suppose it would be rather devastating for a god to find that the one they love is not in love with their real self." Sera sighed. "I just...what is the point if you don't try? You never give up on love."

"Says the woman who's never been in love before." He laughed. Virgil knew that wasn't true. He could plainly see that this woman was head over heels for him and she hid it with sarcasm and rolling eyes. She was afraid, and she should be. As hard as he tried to dissuade her she fell even harder for him. It was rather distressing to feel himself growing rather fond of her. This was unlike any other feeling he had ever had. Empowering.

It must just have been all the time they had been spending together, he reasoned. Although that did not explain his continuous rescuing. He had always been the sort to help a woman in distress but Sera was something different than he had encountered. She was, mostly, able to defend herself. Her sense of adventure rivaled his own which was not something he was used to.

She was racking her brain to come up with a retort, she could never look him in the eyes when she was thinking so deeply. Her lower lip was always bit hard when she thought and her necklace pendant somehow always ended in her hand.

"You are right. I have not been in love. But I still know I would fight for it. I feel it all the way into my soul so I know it's true." Sera finally responded. "I hope it ended well for them."

"I hope so too." Her response was genuine and he couldn't stop the smile it gave him. "Now, are you coming to bed lass? We dock tomorrow and I would like you to go gather something for me, if you feel up to it."

"Sounds good to me. I haven't had my feet on solid ground in a while." Sera nodded, slowly standing herself up. If she didn't move too fast her body responded well. She figured another week of soreness would be the last of it and she could train her body back to its pervious state. All the resting was finally starting to agitate her.

"Say, though, if tomorrow night is just as nice, you should teach me some star navigation." Sera added as they wandered into the cabin. "I haven't had a chance to learn yet."

"Very well." Virgil nodded.

"Wonderful." Sera kicked off her boots and made herself comfortable. "I appreciate it."

"It is my pleasure." He chuckled as he made himself comfortable on the other side of the mattress.

The morning brought the pleasant scent of wet sand to Sera and she rolled to sit up much quicker than usual. She had not been off the ship since her timely rescue, let alone off the ocean waters. Solid ground felt a far off dream now.

As usual, Virgil was up before the sun. Sera was convinced the man didn't sleep, as he was often awake with her until after midnight. The more time she spent with him the less she wished to be parted. She'd grown fond of his charm and wit, even his sultry jests gave her amusement.

Sera yawned and stretched her warmed limbs. Moving was getting easier and easier. To keep it from her face in the sea wind, Sera tied her hair into a tight braid. Still it fell near to her posterior.

After pulling on her boots again she had a look around the cabin as she did ever day. There were so many baubles and trinkets. Truly more than one could acquire in one lifetime, let alone the few years he could have possibly been at sea. Every time she brought it up though he either casually changed the subject or got busy doing something else. It was something he would have to answer eventually, she supposed.

Virgil was posted against the helm, boredly staring off at sea. His distant look softened when he saw her ascending the stairs. "Good morning lass."

"It's near mid day." Sera chuckled. "You could have woke me."

"And risk a fireball to the face? I value my looks too much to risk such a thing." He shook his head with a grin.

"It would be a shame if I melted it, you do have a handsome face." Sera agreed, stopping at the top of the stairs. "What was it I was supposed to be getting?"

"I paid someone to delve into a cave for me to gather something a time ago, and I got word recently they've returned with it." Virgil said. "I figured it an easy enough venture for you."

"You won't be going?" Sera asked curiously. She knew pirates loved the sea but not wanting to venture into the village seemed a bit strange. Perhaps he had made enemies here.

"No, I'll be staying here to mind the ship while you're gone if you don't mind." He shook his head.

"That is fine." Sera gave a shrug. "It's a fetch quest anyhow, I shouldn't run into trouble."

"Exactly." Virgil looked a bit relieved that she wasn't going to argue. "I've paid him in full already, so you just have to bring back the artifact."

"Sounds good. Who do I look for?"

"Short man, a built a bit like a baker, balding black hair." Virgil told her. "He'll be behind the trinket shop. Just tell him I sent you."

"All right, I'll be back soon then." Sera nodded with a smile, turning to go back down the stairs.

Virgil caught her arm gently and she turned. "Do be careful, Firefly. You've a knack for trouble."

"I'll do my best." She promised.

He waited a moment and let her arm slip from his grasp as though allowing a possession to be held by another. Carefully so as not to break it. Sera appreciated the softness he had when he did contact her so.

She slipped off onto the busy docks and gave him a cheerful wave before disappearing from the sight of the ship.

It was certainly strange to have solid ground beneath her feet again. It was rather off-putting at first in fact. Sera probably walked weirdly for twenty minutes before finally getting it again. She probably looked like a drunken tavern wench to anyone who saw her stumble about.

It didn't take her long to find the trinket shop. It was nestled next to the blacksmith which was hardly surprising. Sera took a deep breath and made her way around the shop to the alley behind it. Sure enough, a shady looking short man was leaning against the wall.

He eyed her as she approached cautiously. "Who goes?" He stared her down.

Sera responded simply; "Virgil sent me."

"Ah, I was wondering if he was ever coming for this thing." The man didn't lose his cautiousness, but became more friendly all the same. "Supposed to be here two weeks ago he was."

"That may have been my doing, I apologize." Sera said softly.

"Eh, he paid me good for it." The balding man shrugged. "Surprised he didn't come himself."

"I was a little surprised too. I bet he wants to see me get my sea legs all over again." Sera snorted with a fond grin.

The man reached into a hole in the wall behind him and pulled out a sword. The craftsmanship was superb. The hilt had a gem of sea green encrusted into the end of it. The blade was curved like those wielded by pirates.

"I see why he wanted it." Sera realized she was staring at it. "It's beautiful."

"That's what I thought when I acquired it." The man nodded his agreement. "The story is that this weapon was crafted by the water dragon himself but a greedy pirate somehow managed to steal it and take it ashore where the dragon could not venture."

"Some pirate Virgil is then, hiring someone to go get it for him." Sera snorted.

"He said something about 'not caring for the shore much'."

"Probably prefers diving adventures, I suppose. Sunken treasure and all that." Sera shrugged. It didn't matter to her though, honestly.

He handed her the blade, and Sera held it up for inspection. "It's light. It moves like air."

"I gave it a few swings too." He admitted. "You best get that back to him. He's a rather impatient fellow."

"Really?" Sera blinked. That was not something she had encountered yet.

"Perhaps it was just to me." The man frowned, but shook his head. "If he needs me, I'll be here."

"I shall inform him. Thank you." Sera nodded and made way back to the Leviathan.

Virgil was not there when she arrived. Sending her on an errand so he too could do one didn't seem out of character. Sera made herself busy by looking over the shiny blade.

The way it glinted in the sunlight gave it an ethereal feeling that she could not describe. Giving the blade a few gentle swings, Sera realized parting with this weapon was going to be difficult. It was perfect for her in every way.

Some hours passed and finally as Sera was going inside for a blanket Virgil appeared. He came up the gangplank and gave her a grin.

"I see you were successful."

"I was." Sera nodded, holding out the blade to him. "He told me to tell you he'd be there if you needed him again."

"Splendid." Virgil said softly, listening but looking over the sword in his hand. "Just as I remember it."

Sera raised a brow at him. "Huh?"

"Do you remember my telling you of the sirens in that cave? This was the treasure. I had since misplaced it but here it is again."

"Oh." Sera remembered. "It's...it's a blade like none other I've encountered. Is it made of magic?"

"Indeed. Very old magic at that." Virgil explained. "Nothing of its like has been forged since."

"I gave it a few soft swings earlier. It feels like nothing is there." Sera crossed her arms with a grin. "It should serve you well."

"I should hope, since you seem rather capable." He chuckled.

"What?" Sera blinked.

"This is a gift," Virgil tossed it and caught it on the flat side of the blade so as to not cut himself, holding the hilt out to her. "I'll need someone as fast as myself to be my first mate."

The response got stuck somewhere in her throat. He noticed her stunned silence and nodded to the sword in his hand again. It took a moment, but Sera gingerly reached out and took the blade from him.

"I...Virgil, I," Sera didn't have the words. She wanted to thank him, or promise to do good, or even hug him but she was rooted to the spot.

"You'll do good Firefly." He grinned, stepping closer to put a hand on her head. "We'll have a grand adventure."

Sera smiled largely and with some caution did throw her free arm around his torso in a hug. "Thank you." She finally managed to say it.

"You're very welcome." Virgil chuckled. "Now, let's set sail again."

"Where to?" Sera asked, pulling away from her hug finally.

"I haven't decided yet." He shrugged. "But we can decide later."

Sera nodded, that was true enough. "Shall I give the orders?"

"Be my guest." Virgil's grin made her knees a little weak.

Sera did her best to remember which sails needed used as she hollered orders to the crew. Only once did she get corrected. It was after dark at this point. After spending some time under a blanket learning star navigation, Sera's eyes finally would not stay open.

"You should sleep lass." Virgil insisted, seeing her nodding off during his instruction.

"No, no, I'm fine." Sera shook her head, trying to blink back the sleepiness. "I want to learn."

"You'll learn nothing while sleeping through my instruction." He pointed out. "Come, off to bed with you."

Truthfully, she just wasn't done spending time with him.

"B-but," Sera tried to protest. He had a serious yet mischievous look on his face and she never knew what he was planning when he got that way.

Having already been beside her, he slipped his arms around her and almost too easily picked her up.

"Must you be so difficult?" He joked.

"Must you be so persistent?" Sera laughed. "I can walk, you know."

"I trust you to move your feet about as much as I trust you to save a man from drowning, Firefly."

"All right, you got me." Sera rolled her eyes.

He did not set her down until he had kicked the cabin door closed behind them and walked to the bed. "There now, get some rest."

"Only because you're so insistent." Sera stuck her tongue out at him after alighting the room with fireflies. She smiled fondly at her new sword as she set it on the floor beside her and made herself comfortable. "You get some rest too, I've come to the conclusion that you do not sleep nearly enough."

"I will, here in a moment." He promised, tinkering with something across the room that she could not see.

"All right." She agreed softly, falling asleep very quickly.

Virgil had noticed that she had not sleeping well. Nightmares of the slavers tugged at her near nightly. Some nights just a whimper and then peaceful sleep. Others she would call out softly, wake, and go back to sleep. He did not believe she remembered the dreams upon waking.

Progressively they were getting worse. An hot or so after he joined her to nap, Sera flailed a bit in her sleep and did not seem to be waking from this nightmare. He tossed the pillows from between them and caught her arms, lest she hurt one of them.

"Lass, wake yourself, it's just a dream. They can't hurt you anymore." He told her softly.

Sera woke at the contact of his catching her arms. She froze a moment, breathing hard. She did remember these dreams, unlike his prediction. She had hoped that he would not notice but this was not something she could pretend did not happen.

"I...I'm sorry." Sera whispered loud enough to hear but if she spoke any louder her voice would crack. She had never been more afraid in her life than that day with the slavers. As hard as she lied to herself about it her subconscious would not let it be.

"You need not apologize lass. I thought they would go away but it seems there is only one cure." He told her.

"You knew I had these? Oh, Creator's ass." She swore, trying to hide her face.

"Do not apologize for a thing you cannot control." Virgil told her straightly.

He moved himself and pulled her to him all at once so that she had no time to protest before her head was laying comfortably upon his chest.

"This will help you sleep." His arm wrapped around her side and he felt her trembles as she did her best not to cry.

She couldn't hide the sniffles however. "I shouldn't be afraid, but I can't forget about it."

"They will never hurt you again, you have my word."

Sera nodded against him and gradually with time fell back to sleep.
He couldn't help but see her this way and feel a tug in his chest. He would do his best to ignore it but...that was going to prove more difficult than he believed. Something about giving into the urge to hold her confirmed it inside him absolutely.

He'd fallen in love and hadn't even realized it.

Given thought it made sense. Virgil did feel this ridiculous urge to keep her safe at all costs. Seeing her afraid made him get protective. Watching her get teary eyed made him wish to hold her. She gave him amusement he hadn't felt in ages. Truly they had not known one another long, but the heart wanted what it wanted. And there was something else that he did not have words for.

He chuckled. Maybe that was it. She simply left him speechless. There was so much he wanted to share with her, but all things in due time. Too much at once could be overwhelming he knew.

It had been near an hour since she had fallen back to sleep now. He'd been so lost in thought he hadn't noticed really. Sera snored softly against him, no longer dreaming of darkness and fear. Finally, assured of their mutual comfort, he too drifter off a while.

Virgil had not left as he did every other morning in their time together. Sera assumed it due to her strong grip on his shirt as she slept. Apparently she had not moved at all since falling asleep. It was much needed rest however and her body was thanking her.

"Good morning Firefly." Virgil blinked awake, speaking in a husky half awake tone.

Sera had never heard his voice take that tone and had a short, quiet laugh. "Good morning, captain."

"Do you laugh at me?" He asked, sounding both shocked and amused.

"Only a little. I've never seen you sleepy. Usually you've been up and away already." Sera reminded him.

"What can I say lass, you've captured me." There was his usual candor.

"I'm sorry," Sera moved to sit up. "I ah...I appreciate what you did last night. Truly. That is the first time I've slept soundly in weeks."

"I am glad to have helped." That smile was genuine, it made her blush a little.

"Shall we get the adventure of the day started, then?" Sera asked, locking her hazel eyes with his oceanic blue ones.

"I like the way you think." Virgil sat up and nodded. "What do you think about hot springs?"

"I think a bath is long overdue." Sera had a laugh, finally not sore at the action.

"Then I know just the place." He winked, getting out of bed briskly and making way to the deck.

Sera watched him go and took a moment to herself to wake up a bit more. Had...did that really just happen? Waking up that way? Falling asleep like that?

'Creator give me guidance at this. Romance is...tricky.' Sera thought to herself, blushing as red as her hair.

Chapter Text

Virgil had set her up to learn some knots one late afternoon. It was a bit overcast, so Sera sat herself beside the helm to practice. He stood a few feet from her, watching the sea mostly, but glancing at her progress occasionally.

What was it he had told her? 'All sailors must know how to tie a proper knot, lass.'

Sera was not a very good sailor. Not only were her swimming skills left to be desired but her knot skills were nonexistent. She kept getting distracted by his presence.

"Why do you stare at me like that lass? See something you like?" He spoke finally, making her jump.

"I was...trying to cast an enchantment on you." Sera lied promptly to hide her intentions.

"Oh. Then by all means, keep trying." Virgil chuckled. "I warn you though, magic does not affect me as it does others."

"Mmhmm. I'll believe it when I see it." Sera slow nodded.

"What sort of enchantment are you working then? Surely not one to tie that knot."

"Ah." She blushed, caught. "One to make you tell me your innermost secrets." Sure, that worked.

"You will have to try much harder than that, Firefly." Virgil gave her a wink that would floor most ladies.

Sera was grateful to already be sitting. She changed the subject. "So tell me, how is it you came to have such vibrant eyes? Surely your mother was in shock at them."

"I'm not sure what you mean lass." Virgil raised a brow at her.

"They're just so..." Sera searched for the word. "I've thought them pretty a while now and just haven't said anything."

"Have you now? I appreciate the compliment." Virgil smiled. "And you, how did you come to have such wild hair?"

"Father certainly didn't give it to me, although otherwise on occasion we were mistaken as siblings." Sera shrugged. "Instead of making me keep it short he just taught me a wide array of braids. Which is why I'm baffled at this knot. Why is it I can braid my hair behind my head without looking and yet this--what you called a 'simple' knot--is just beyond me."

"It is all in practicing the skill. You'll get it yet Firefly." He chuckled.

"I can't swim and I can't tie even a simple sailors knot. Are you positive you want me as a First Mate and not a scullery maid?" Sera leaned her head back in defeat.

"Absolutely. You've a willingness to learn, despite all the chatter saying otherwise. Even now you fiddle with the rope."

She had in fact been fiddling with the rope in her hands again as he spoke, and finally held up a firm knot. "Finally!"

"You need to work on your speed, but that's a good knot." Virgil chuckled. "I'd use that one for a life line in a storm." His eyes wandered off the Port. "Speaking of."

Thunder rumbled off the Port and Sera jumped. "Oh boy..." She rose and looked off at the squall heading in their direction with disdain. "So...what do we do about that, Captain?"

"Ride it out. We have plenty of sea room. Nothing to hit us for miles." He didn't seem concerned with it but the idea of a storm made her stomach lurch. His face betrayed his casual wording however, as an uncomfortable look came over him.

"Right..." A crash of lightning in the distance made her bite her lip with anxiety.

"Lass, get yourself below deck. This isn't going to be pretty." Virgil instructed with finality.

Sera wasn't about to argue. "Fair enough." She nodded, making her way back to the cabin. Sera sat herself on the edge of the bed to await for the storms passing.

The thunder was loud in her ears when the storm finally came overhead. Every time it cracked, she jumped. Sera could feel the force of the waves crashing against the ship and cause it to lurch and groan. Still, it was rather calm on the inside of the ship. It was like another existinal plane. But looking out the window showed the severity. The waves were dark and murky as they rolled into the vessel violently and the rain was coming down with such force it sounded like arrows hitting wood. On top of that it was so dark one hardly see unless their eyes were trained for the ship.

Strangely, no one entered the room. Sera found that odd considering there was no reason to ride out a storm on the deck. Grumbling something about 'stupid ballsy pirates', Sera held the wall to make her way to the door.

It was chaos. The wind itself would prove dangerous, as it was causing items as heavy as canons to slide around the deck. She could hear them screeching in the dark before her. Then there was the waves crashing over the ship and taking whatever they willed with them. The crew was somehow nowhere to be seen, probably instructed to wait it out.

Sera's hazel eyes searched frantically for the captain in the light available. That was proving impossible, so she lit herself a fireball. Virgil was at the helm. He looked so...alive. Alive but uncomfortable. That was the only way Sera could describe the look of happy intensity on his face. How could he be enjoying himself right then? Nevermind that, he was not tied down and was at danger of being swept away.

Sera tried to call his name but he could not hear her over the wind. She was terrified. Sera still couldn't swim, so if she was swept over she was totally done for. But the idea of Virgil being swept away and lost gave her courage to not let it happen.

A screech alerted her to an oncoming loose canon, which she skillfully avoided to watch it slide overboard. Heart pumping so fast she thought it might burst, she eyed some stray rope under the stairs.

With her new knot skills, Sera tied herself to the first strong post she could find, which happened to be the mast, and made her way up to him. A sudden wave shifted the ship and caused her to slip over the side with nothing but her safety knot and sheer willpower to keep her from sinking to a watery death. Sera pulled herself back aboard, thankful that the rope had been strong enough.

Now utterly drenched and without light, she started back on her path.

There was no use trying to speak since they would not be able to hear one another. Sera lassoed the pirate in her own safety rope and held on tightly to his torso. Wind and rain threatened to remove them from the ship, but somehow with his hands on the wheel Virgil seemed utterly immovable.

It felt like hours to the ginger, but only a few minutes passed and the waves started to calm, as did the breeze. The rain fully dissipated a few minutes after that. They were both sopping wet at this point from the waves. Frankly she was chilly but she was too frustrated to shiver.

Sera alit her trademark fireflies all around the outside of the ship. The little balls of fire made the damage noticeable for the first time. But neither her nor the captain were looking at the ship.

When Sera did finally look up at Virgil, she looked up at him with worried a frown, one like a person might wear when afraid to lose someone they cared for.

"You are reckless!" She gasped. "Not a safety rope in sight! You could have gone overboard and drowned!" Her lips trembled trying not to let herself get tearful. What would have happened then?

"You're just as reckless! You can't even swim and yet you dared venture into the heart of a storm!" He was...upset. "I told you to get below deck."

"I was worried about you!" Sera gasped frustratedly. It was then she realized they were still lassoed together at the waist rather tightly. "I...did not wish to lose you."

The idea made her heart drop into her stomach. She wasn't going to be able to hold back those fearful tears and it was frustrating. Sera just wrapped her arms around him again and buried her face in his chest.

"I was afraid." She whispered.

She stiffened a little in shock at his arms holding her there. "I did not wish to lose you, either." Virgil rested his head atop of hers. He didn't seem to mind being tied to her at the waist in the least.

"Then you're extra reckless for making me worry like that!" Sera pulled back to frown at him, eyes red from her mostly held in tears. "You are just,"

She couldn't finish her sentence on account that his lips crashed into hers like waves on rocks. Impossible. He was inhumanly and utterly impossible. He was a rather good kisser, she might have thought then, had her face not gone as red as her hair and she had time to think.

"I shall endeavor to be less reckless." Virgil promised quietly with his forehead pressed to hers.

Sera continued to blush. Had that just happened? Was she dreaming this? It wouldn't be the first time, unfortunately. The rope was becoming uncomfortable to the both of them now. Sera took hold of it in one hand and burnt it away. The relief at her waist was immense. It was nice to be able to breathe right.

"Well," She cleared her throat softly and took a step back. "That was plenty of adventure for one day."

"You think? I could go for a bandit raid." Virgil chuckled.

"What makes you say that? We are in terrible disrepair, I mean look at the ship--"

As though on cue to his jest, a whirring-bang sound from overhead. The force of the wind shocked her and her head hurt from the sound. It seemed their attackers had just missed the storm and believed they could take on the sister ship while it reeled from it.

"How did they find us?" Sera groaned and looked about. All her lights made them very vulnerable in the evening light after the storm. "Oh..." This was her fault.

"Battle stations!" Virgil barked to the men, taking the shaken ginger under his arm. "Best get you below deck, lass."

"Piss on that." She gathered herself, unsheathing her newly bequeathed weapon and alighting her other hand. "If this is going to be my home, I'll defend it with all I have. Besides--this is my fault."

"Firefly I know you want to help but please understand, you don't yet have your sea legs and you'll get hurt."

Sera frowned at him. "You've yet to see me battle--a real battle--to even make such assumptions. Besides that, you just scared me half to death. So I'm taking no orders from you."

Almost frantically he rolled his ocean colored eyes. "We haven't time to argue."

"I know." Sera leaned up and kissed his cheek. It was enough to freeze him a moment, which gave Sera enough time to slip off behind him and out of sight in the bustle. By the time he turned she was lost to his sight.

"Damn it." He swore. He certainly hadn't expected that. Being attacked made something come alive in her that he couldn't explain.

Between the canon fires from both sides and the continuous yelling, it was hard for Sera to focus. She had only been in a few real fights, after all. The Leviathan was in such disrepair, they were at a terrible disadvantage. Most of their canons were gone at this point. The crew however seemed unhindered by the recent storm.

It didn't take long for the group of bandits to latch a plank between the ships and start attacking in force.

This was a dance she knew so well she could do it in her sleep. Careful to not set either ship ablaze, Sera swirled fire from her free hand and slashed at any attackers from behind the red blaze. Some looked surprised to see a battle mage, some surprised that a woman was aboard the ship at all.

Her wounds having healed, Sera was able to flow like water with the ferocity of the fire within her freely. Someone managed to get behind her, and as they would have swung the killing blow they were met with steel.

"Dance with me instead, I'll show you a good time." Virgil kicked him in the stomach before slicing into his neck.

"Thank you. I can appreciate assistance." Sera called, melting the face of an oncoming man before meeting his heart with her blade.

"I was mistaken, you handle yourself very well, even on a boat." He ducked a sword swing and bit into a stomach with his blades.

"We used to practice on a rolling log in a small pond, great balancing maneuvers are picked up that way." Sera explained, kicking one over the side to drown.

"Your father was a smart lad." Virgil complimented.

She smiled, slipping under his arm in a flash of red, fire erupting from her left hand and onto the bodies previously before him. They stood beside one another and looked around.

"Funny, I don't remember having seeing a captain of any sort. You don't suppose he's below deck?" Sera asked, taking on another from the left.

"It matters not, he can't sail a ship alone. Especially if it's burning." Virgil suggested, kicking a man off his ship.

"Ooh, I like the way you think." Sera jumped excitedly, wildly thrashing down into an opponent's skull.

The mage sheathed her weapon and used both hands to alight the enemy vessel while Virgil carefully steered them away and what was left of their crew gave the remaining attackers hell.

Now the ship really had taken some damage. "I think we may have to dock for this one." Sera told him as she ascended the stairs.

"I think you may be right." Virgil nodded slowly. That was a shame since they hadn't been at sea long. Luckily what sails they had left would serve to get them where they needed to be.

Hours later, Sera's mind was still reeling. That had happened? She was awake? She shook her head, trying to focus on the task at hand. The repairs would be a bit costly it seemed.

She had ventured ashore in the afternoon of the next day in search of someone to make the repairs and brought them back to the ship to survey the damage. Now the man was telling Virgil about the cost. The blond captain didn't seem bothered by how much it was to be, just nodded his agreements to the repairman.

They were to start in the morning. Sera saw the man off. He was a nice person it seemed, though he haggled like a fishwife. Watching the two of them banter had been an experience.

Sera made her way to the cabin that evening with a slight sway to her footing. She was just a little sore, having used muscles she hadn't in a while it was bound to happen. Virgil was sitting at the table, looking over some papers the man had handed him.

"So I take it you reached an agreement?" She asked. "I tried to follow it all but as soon as you hit ship terminology I started to lose you."

"We did indeed. He's careful, wants everything in writing." He frowned at the papers a bit.

"Have you considered it might be because you're a pirate?" Sera chuckled.

"Of course, dealing with my kind can be rather dangerous." He seemed to agree with the reasonings of the repairman, though still inconvenienced.

"I haven't had much of a problem so far." Sera shrugged, starting to kick off her boots.

"You must be jesting. Slavers, bandits, you've had all sorts of troubles." Virgil looked at her.

"None of them pirates however." She pointed out. "You're a pirate and you're the only one not giving me trouble."

"Oh, I am certain that won't last forever." Something glinted in his eyes when he said it.

"Well of course not! We're not immortal." Sera laughed softly. "If you wanted to give me trouble, you would have already." She turned away and pulled off one shirt to exchange it for the one she used at night. It was longer and she needed no pants with it.

Virgil's ocean eyes never left her. She was facing away of course and didn't notice. Usually he respectfully looked away anyhow, but today was different for some reason. Not that one could see much from under that mane of curly red hair she had. But he could make out the sigil of that slaver very brightly still.

"I wouldn't say that. I could choose to start giving you trouble at any time Firefly."

"Mmhmm. I'll believe that when you start, Ocean Eyes." Sera rolled hers playfully at him and stuck her tongue out.

He stood and crossed the room, throwing them both down onto the bed with a playful growl.

"If this is you causing me trouble, you'll have to try much harder than this." Sera laughed. She tried to struggle free but it proved pointless. Virgil grinned wildly at her. "Am I to be your prisoner until you tire?" She finally breathed and responded to his wild grin.

"I could get used to the sight of you below me, certainly." Virgil winked.

Sera lost some composure and blushed. "Still, I don't believe this is you being troublesome. If this is to be my prison, then I accept it."

"I could keep you prisoner a very long time lass." His tone was more serious now.

"You can't keep someone willing as a prisoner." Sera shook her head.

"Can't I?" Virgil gazed into her eyes, looking for his response.

"No." She shook her head again. "It doesn't work that way."

"Hmm." He moved to the side to sit up.

She sat herself up and looked at the setting sun a long moment before turning to find him close enough to herself to feel the warmth of his skin.

"May I?" He murmured but she hardly heard it before brashly pressing her lips into his.

It was like an eruption of steam. Hot and messy, excited and pleasant. Wanted, not needed. Oh but how she wanted to never stop. Things grew heated quickly of course, as they do. Timid and afraid, soft spoken words. Never felt like this before. Never comfortable with anyone enough to give them-self wholly. Tender hands, barely touching but the heat resonating like the molten magma within a volcano. Eternal bliss in finding someone to hold you this way, returning the fire in equal measure until you fall comfortably in each other’s arms. 
Soft breathing. Limbs entangled like ropes not properly tied. Rocking back and forth with the wind. Paying no mind to the hour. Seize the moments as they come or miss them forever.

Sera woke to the banging of a hammer. The workmen must have gotten there bright and early. Virgil grumbled something she couldn't make out and she realized she was again using him as her pillow. And soon thereafter that they were both very naked, save for the blanket atop them.

He must have felt the heat from her face flushing because he started to chuckle.

"Don't you laugh at me Ocean Eyes. I've...never..."

"I knew that." He told her with a quick kiss to her forehead when she looked up at him surprised.

"How?! I never once said anything!"

"And you made vulgar jokes to make up for it. You are not so hard to read as you think." It seemed the captain couldn't stop grinning.

"I thought feigning experience would help me, not hinder me." Sera sighed.

"I don't think it hindered you at all." Virgil told her honestly.

"Convenient how we keep waking this way until one day we're both naked as babes." She teased him, poking him in the chest.

"If I woke to such a pretty pass every day for the rest of time it would be convenient indeed." He smiled at her.

"Now you're just trying to flatter me." Sera giggled, sitting up. She pulled the blanket with her for cover.

"It seems to be working." Virgil followed suit and kissed her bare shoulder.

"Oh, believe me, it is." Sera nodded. "I should dress and go oversee the repairs."

"There's no rush lass, they're fine without you to mother hen them." He found of her hands with his and ran his fingers over hers longingly. "But I won't make you stay, if that is your intention."

Sera turned to face him, meeting his eyes. "I...would very much like to stay. But I feel like it will have unforeseen consequences. And that's rather frightening."

"All actions have consequences, Firefly. It's a matter of wanting to pursue it anyhow."

"Wise-ass." She grumbled, picking up her pillow and smacking him with it. "Consequences!"

He was dumbfounded a moment before taking her around the waist and rolling. She dropped her pillow in the fuss and laughed as she ended up atop him.

"Well well, it seems it's my turn to be the troublesome one." She chuckled.

"You? Never."

"I have been rather troublesome. First the slavers, then the healing process, not to mention all I've learned about sailing in the past weeks."

"Think nothing of those things. I did them because I wished to." He shook his head, hand absently playing with her hair.

"That is because you are chivalrous at heart. I would not have known that if I..."

"If what?"

"I...before you asked me to join, I had every intention of running away. The sort of adventures you go on was a bit intimidating to me then. But now I see I was just being a coward and a fool. You've been nothing but kind and helpful and I am a bit ashamed of what I was thinking then."

"This is not the life for just anyone, that is for certain." He agreed. "Do you still feel that way?"

"Not at all! This is exactly what I've wanted my whole life. Everything seems complete." Sera shook her head quickly. "Is it strange to say I feel like I've been waiting for you?"

"No. I could say the same." Virgil said.

With a giggle, Sera got herself up so she could dress. There was no point in being modest about it now. "Pap would have liked you, you know."

"Oh? A rare thing for a pirate to impress a fine woman's father." He chuckled, sitting up himself.

Somehow in their tangle of the night before, his clothing had ended up in all corners of the room. Although he had been wearing more than her at the time. While dressing herself, Sera was tossing his items to him on the bed.

"Pap didn't care much for titles. Either you were a good person, or you were not. You would be good. A little chaotic, sure, but good."

"That is somehow comforting." He smiled.

"Now if only I could find my mother." She sighed.

"We will, I'm sure. I have every intention to help you put the matter to rest still."

"I appreciate that." Sera smiled, leaning down to kiss him. "Now, I'm going to oversee them. Unless you need me to do something before I go?"

"No. I'll join you shortly." Virgil shook his head.

"All right." Sera nodded, heading out the door. The sunlight assaulted her eyes and it took a moment to get used to it.

It was only by pure luck, she felt, that everything could be falling into place that way. Everything she had dreamed of had come to life in better ways than she ever imagined. Watching the repairmen work, she had a moment of full realization.

She was home. And had she not ventured with Marin and the others she may never have found it. One day, she hoped to track down the fellow ginger and let her know exactly how grateful she was.

The chance she sought would come sooner than she thought.

Chapter Text

With the ship in such a sad state, they had no choice but to wait out the repairs. The storm had done quite a number on it. All the sails were in need of replacement, one of the masts was destroyed, and several canons had fallen overboard, among other things.

It was lucky they hadn't sprung a leak with everything else having gone wrong. Every time Sera took a lap of the ship she sighed. It wasn't totally her fault it had happened of course. She knew this. But still she felt responsible.

A morning or so later the two pirates were tangled up in their blanket lazily, Virgil's head resting at Sera's breast. He was listening to the sound of her heart race at his closeness. It was amusing, and endearing. Sera's fingers ran through his hair absently. She was unable to keep the smile from her face.

"Tell me Firefly, what was it like growing in the woods?" He asked suddenly. It was out of the blue, but of course he might be curious.

"It was beautiful. I still have my moments of wanting the trees above me rather than the open sky." Sera tried to think of a better explanation. "The green of the trees will always feel like home. Although come autumn...some turn the most brilliant shades of red and orange. It's my favorite season. Winter can sod off."

"Do you not like the snow?" Virgil asked, a chuckle escaping him.

"Absolutely not! It's cold and miserable and wet and hard to warm up from. I deplete a lot of energy in the snow very quickly." Sera frowned at the memories of trudging through that white hell trying to make it home from visiting elven friends.

He laughed at her expression. "I shall note to not take us nowhere cold then."

"Truly, I appreciate that." Sera sighed. "In any case...our home was simple. Something, with help, I could build myself. Pap had us a forge out back that I used to mess with at times. Mostly for iron arrows."

"You use a bow then?" He seemed surprised.

"No where near on par with some elves that I know. Enough to hunt, but my current skill wouldn't be very helpful in a fight." Sera shrugged. Her fingers on her free hand went to fiddle with her necklace.

Virgil moved so he was flat on his stomach beside her. One hand trailed her arm until it too reached her necklace. "I have yet to see you remove this."

"I haven't once, since Pap passed." Sera told him. Her voice wavered just slightly. "It's the only thing from him I have left. He was a good soul. He was kind to everyone he met, including on occasions where he ran into dark elves. He's lucky they didn't kill him. But every time, he came home to me."

Virgil's brow furrowed softly. "How did he pass?"

"Of all things, a fever took him." She snorted irritatedly. "I told him he shouldn't work in the rain. But what does the fire mage know about being cold and wet?" Sera sighed. "I couldn't...my abilities couldn't save him. If I had a connection to a greater power source I might have been able to reduce his fever. But I'm just...human."

Her mind went to Marin. The possibilities of what that woman would be capable of when connected to all four dragons was potentially endless. And she was a half elf to boot, so she might also live forever. Had Sera that kind of power she might have been able to save her father.

Virgil watched her mind wander and wondered where it had gone. He shifted again to lean up and kiss her cheek. "When it is one's time to go, it cannot be altered. It is just the way of things, Firefly. I am sure you made him happy and comfortable in his last days."

"He was much more optimistic about it than I was." She chuckled when whisked from her thoughts. Sera took a deep breath. Her eyes found his in the dim light of the cabin.

"Do you remember saying that we all have something this important to us?" She looked at her necklace again shortly.

"I do recall, yes. You were afraid to have lost your trinket." He nodded. "What of it?"

"This isn't the only thing that important to me anymore." Sera told him softly.

His usual casual expression softened at understanding her words as what they were: a confession of love. Nay, a quiet declaration of it. Virgil had a million things to care for and think on but moments like this made him pause to think about himself. What he might want. Things certainly had changed for him since noticing his affections towards her. This woman was unlike others he had known.

Having these feelings scared him, honestly.

Sera half grinned. "You don't have to search so hard for a response. Just...at least pretend a little longer."

The words stung as she said them. Sera could never tell how he was feeling. And now that they'd...she knew he could just be using her. That wasn't how she perceived it at all, but it was an ever lingering fear she had.

Virgil shook his head, laying it across her bare chest and slipping his arms around her. "There's nothing for me to pretend about." Consequences be damned! He was due something of his own. "If you were to be lost to me now..."

Sera started shaking and he looked up at her. She was shaking with suppressed laughter, but the stray tears rolling down her cheeks were clear.

"I never thought someone would tell me something so honest, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be crying," She stammered, wiping her eyes hastily.

"I've never told anyone something so honest." Virgil chuckled and kissed her slowly. It was a strange thing, expressing himself so much. Any doubts of her being unable to accept him--all of him--were very quiet in his mind right then.

"First time for everything. And there's much of everything to do." Sera laughed. "So many adventures to be had! I can't wait to have them all with you."

Their lazy tumble of bodies held one another a little while like that, just content to their own company. If that moment could have lasted forever the two of them would have been mighty content. But fate had a funny way of working.

Virgil sighed and sat himself up before either of them could fall asleep. "Our contractor should be here in a moment."

"Hmm." Sera pouted. "I suppose I should get decent and find something to do. Maybe I'll go walk the shoreline. I haven't done that yet."

"Perhaps you'll find another interesting bauble?" Virgil chuckled.

"The bottle of rum did make for a nice evening." Sera agreed with a giggle. "They won't need you to watch after them, want to go with me?"

"Alas, I have something I must do while you are away. But I'd love to hear all about your venture when you return." Virgil told her with a shake of his head.

"The most boring story I've yet to tell you, I shall think of its details while I'm out." Sera laughed. She finally sat herself up and searched around for her top. How was it that it always ended across the room?

"I've not been bored by any of your stories my lass." Virgil shook his head again and kissed her cheek. He rose and while picking up his pants tossed her her shirt.

Sera couldn't help but admire him as he walked across the room. He really was a sailor through and through. Strong and well built arms that still knew gentleness. Defined torso all the way around that seemed very unreal to her for some reason. And then of course she had a giggle at her eyes falling downward to his rear. It was rather squishy actually and it gave her much entertainment.

"Are you laughing at me Firefly?" He turned abruptly and ended her giggle by making her blush, since he still had yet to pull on his trousers all the way. "What might I have done this time?"

"I ah, was admiring that wonderful posterior you've been gifted." She wasn't looking him in the eye as she said it.

"You still blush about it?" His shock was apparent.

"I can't help it!" Her blush deepened. "You can't tell me I'm the only one who blushes this way."

"True, but I hadn't expected you to still be doing it." He chuckled.

"Please pull those on, you fool." Sera rolled her eyes with sarcasm.

"As you wish." Clearly full on his amusement from this he did as asked.

She yanked on her shirt and luckily found her bottoms beside the bed. "Right, I shall be back in a little while."

"Do be careful." He reminded her.

"I've got this with me, I'll be fine." She smiled at her sword.

Sera gave him a quick kiss and made off to port before down the beach.

It wasn't hot that day thankfully. The breeze was welcome through her hair as she wandered farther than she had the last time. When the beach started to bore her Sera made way to the tree line. There were various paths through them. Some obviously made by wandering children and other by merchant bands taking the fast way through the forest.

One path gathered her attention however. It was thin through a sea of leave trees and would be easily missed if someone was not looking for it. That alone piqued Sera's curiosity. She followed this trail for...she didn't know how long. The sun had long passed noon when she reached a grotto deep in the woods. A canopy of green held back the sky but enough dim light came through to make out a shrine.

It was well taken care of, dirt free and not covered in greenery like the ground around it. The candles were unlit with no one around, but Sera waved a hand and had them come to life for extra light. This was not a fancy shrine, clearly home made. She wondered if perhaps someone in the village had made it. From the color, she guessed it was addressed to the water dragon.

That made her smile. Sera moved to sit in front of the shrine.

"Someone put a lot of work into this cute little shrine for it to not be used." She murmured. Sera cleared her throat and took a breath. "I ah...can't say I've used a shrine before." She spoke to it carefully, playing with her necklace. "But I heard that you can speak to the respective dragon from shrines. Even the make shift ones."

She paused, though didn't expect a response. "Silly as that all sounds. Ah," Sera had to breathe a moment. "In the case that they weren't mistaken: thank you. I just know meeting the love of my life was your doing."

Sera tried to find the words she wanted. "He's charming like no other. And kind and generous and passionate. Honestly everything a woman could want." She sighed contentedly. "I can't say thank you enough times in all my life to express my gratitude."

All the suffering she had been inflicted with was worth it to her when remembering it caused her closeness to her beloved. Sera waved her hand and the candles diminished their light to nothing. She felt better having admitted that all aloud. Even to a neat pile of painted rocks.

"Funny thing to be thankful to a dragon for." A female voice made her jump. She turned quickly from her spot to see a woman clad in a brown hooded cloak. "Don't fret, I just came to pay my respects. My name is Illia."

"Serafino." Sera nodded to her. Something felt familiar to Sera about this woman. Illia felt...inhuman.

"I didn't mean to overhear all you said." Illia apologized, sitting a short distance from Sera. "You've fallen for a pirate? That must be...different."

"Were he like the nasty ones you usually see in port it would be a bad thing. But this one is not like that." Sera shook her head. Her nervousness did not leave her. She had not mentioned that he was a pirate and that lit red flags in her mind.

Illia removed her hood and Sera could not help but stare. Illia had a surprising likeness to her father and uncle. And yet now that she could see her Sera could differentiate. Illia had amber colored eyes that seemed alive with flame, and she was much to thin to be of the make Sera's father had bore.

"You feel very familiar, Illia. Have we met before?" Sera asked her finally when the curiosity got the better of her.

"In a manner of speaking, we have indeed." She nodded, her fuzzy brown curls bouncing. "I began to grow curious at just why you spend so much time at sea. It is baffling to me."

"I've always felt drawn to it." Sera responded. "Like my soul wouldn't rest until I was close to it." She didn't like Illia's wording. "Have you been watching me?"

"For some time yes. You get into all kinds of danger. Although I've yet to have to intervene." Illia grinned.

Sera stood with haste. "Who are you?"

"I am afraid I cannot divulge to you just yet that information, little fire." Illia shook her head, rising herself. "You will just have to wait and see. Great things will happen, because of you. Even if they might be small in the scheme of things."

"You must be crazy." Sera's heart was racing. What was this woman capable of?

Illia's laughter felt like it shook the trees of the grotto. "Oh my sweet Serafino, you will learn yet that destiny cannot be avoided. You'll come to us and join us."

"You'll stay away from me." Sera lit a fireball in her hand. "I've no intention of being anywhere near such nonsense."

"He won't be able to be with you. He knows it. I know the fear eats at your mind. That even now that you've admitted yourselves you feel deep down he's lying. He has more important things than you on his mind my dear." Illia shrugged.

 

Sera stared at the woman a long moment. How could she possibly know any of that?

"Why would you say such horrible things? Especially such lies!" Sera threw the ball at Illia reflexively. She would have felt badly for it had Illia not caught it and extinguished it.

"You cannot best me, Serafino. Not yet." Illia shook her head.

Sera was shocked. She had never actually fought another mage--or whatever Illia was--before. Instead of fighting her, Sera bolted back down the path.

She diverged from it at some point in her running and got a bit lost, although there was plenty of daylight left to find her way out. Sera tripped on a branch and rolled down a hill beside a creek.

"Ow! Son of a--"

"Are you all right lass?" Virgil asked.

Sera sat up and looked to see him standing in the creek. She didn't say anything, just scrambled to her feet and wrapped her arms around him holding back her sobs. Sera didn't think to ask how he had come across her. She didn't care.

"What is the matter? You're shaking like a leaf." He took her face in his hands so she would have no choice but to look at him and respond.

"Some crazy woman was at this shrine I found. She told me such horrible things!" Sera shook her head and buried it in his chest again. Why had her confidence been shot down by one crazy woman? Perhaps they felt truthful somehow.

"Truly terrible things they must have been to have you frightened like a child." Virgil shook his head and just held her a moment until her shaking subsided.

"They were." Sera insisted. "And she was able to deflect my fireball completely. I've never had someone outright block me before. She wasn't...she didn't feel human. But..."

"No matter, she is gone now." Virgil's tone was soothing, much like he would use to help her back to sleep after a nightmare. Although he was just as likely to stubbornly hold her and kiss her cheek in a fit of sleepiness. He ran his hands through her hair softly, making it frizzy in places, but causing her to sigh contently. "We should get back before it gets dark, Firefly."

"Before that crazy woman catches up." Sera snorted, pulling away hesitantly and taking his hand. "Lead on, I ah," she turned pink after looking around. "I seem to have misplaced the path."

"Ah, this creek goes all the way to the beach. I was hoping to catch up to you with it but you came to me." He chuckled. "I have much luck today."

As they started walking, Sera snorted. "At least one of us does."

The two of them arrived home after dark, and Sera found herself on the deck of their mobile home, hands on her hips, in thought. She had grown warm earlier and pulled on a thin, sleeveless tunic and kicked off her pants and boots. At this point the crew would just have to deal with her lack of femininity. Sera had a giggle at what Kira's response might have been.

Sera bit her lip and decided the place could do with some light. A breath in deeply, and on the exhale the deck came alight with her little lights. It was still dim, but it gave a calming glow.

"Redecorating again, I see." Virgil commented. He was pressed against the door with his arms folded across his chest. "At least we're safely in port this time."

"Someone has to my dear, else we'll be trapped in an oblivion of hoarded items." Sera teased him. "Mostly I just thought the deck could use some light. We can sail in the morning, yes?"

"With the tide if you prefer." He nodded, coming over behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. He set his chin on her head and received a giggle in response.

"Where will we go?" She asked, leaning back into him and placing her hands to his forearms.

"Wherever you wish." She felt his shrug.

"Hmm. I suppose I have all night to think on it then." Sera smiled and leaned her head back to look at him.

"Oh? I suppose I could choose to distract you and make that much more challenging for you." He grinned and leaned down to kiss her.

The two of them started to sway a bit, as though in time with a music only they could hear.

She had herself a contented sigh. "What magic you must be made with to be all I have ever wanted." Sera had yet to shake those feelings of doubt that Illia had given her fully but Virgil certainly did have a way of distracting her from them.

He stopped in his swaying motions, and looked down into her eyes. "Sera..."

"Mmm?" She waited. That is, until she noticed the sky over his shoulder.

"Oh! Oh look!" Sera gasped, dashing to the railing and almost falling over.

The moon was eclipsing over the horizon and it had absolutely captured her attention. Virgil shook his head with a grin at her change of attention and followed her to the side of his ship.

She looked at the moon while he looked at her. This was the first time she had seen an eclipse and the wonder and excitement never left her face through the entire event.


“I’ll bet I never see a spectacle like that again.” She said breathlessly, finally glancing over to him to find his eyes already upon her.


“I know I won’t.” He told her honestly.

He was not a man easily caught off guard but the swiftness of her lips meeting his came as a surprise. When he returned the gesture, running his fingers through her hair gently, the whole world seemed to stop a moment. Perhaps it even did.

For the first time in several days, Sera woke alone. She had rolled in her sleep to scoot herself closer to him and woken to an empty bed. Grumbling sleepily, she wrapped up in a long coat and went outside in search of her lover.

He was perched in a sitting position on the ledge of the ship, staring out at sea. He seemed troubled over something, actually. What an idea, Virgil, the carefree captain, troubled.

With a hearty, loving sigh, Sera sat herself beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder. "You're nervous."

"I am most certainly not nervous." He feigned offense well.

"Mmhmm. That's why you're sitting out here looking like a worried father." Sera teased him. "What is the matter? Can I help at all?"

Virgil sighed and wrapped an arm around her waist. "Just stay with me."

"Always. Forever." Sera smiled.

She could have sworn she heard him murmur 'if only things were so' but dismissed it. This was very out of character for him as it was.

After dressing they found themselves having a fickle set of playful arguments. They ranged from how to tie a knot (because Sera insisted that she was an expert now from having saved them both) to how to properly and safely dismember a tree (because Virgil was a logger at heart). It all ended in laughter.

Suddenly however, Virgil's head perked up at something he heard below.

"What is it?" Sera asked, tilting her head curiously.

He leaned a little over the side and grinned. "Have yourselves a problem?"

Sera shrugged to herself and made busy with some knot practice. She didn't look up again until Virgil was kneeling before her.

"Firefly I need a favor of you."

"Anything." She looked up and smiled, noting a familiar face behind him. "Old Man!" Sera gasped and shot to her feet. "Nicodemus! How are you here?"

The elder wizard looked at her with equal amounts of shock and curiosity. Though it was quickly displaced with his previous serious worry. "Sera? It has been a while girl."

Sera dashed over and startled the old man with a tight hug.

"You've met then?" Virgil asked.

"Of course! Nicodemus was one of the people I travled a while with." Sera explained. "But what brings you here?"

"I've been enlisted for a rescue." Virgil grinned.

"That sounded very solitary." Sera raised a brow at him.

"It has been decided that I'm to take one of their company, so you shall stay as a sort of...insurance."

"It isn't as though my friends will hurt me, so I'll do it." Sera nodded.

"Very well." Virgil nodded.

"I'll see you again soon." Sera promised with a long kiss. "Who's going with you?"

"Velias." Nicodemus answered, offering an arm to lead back down to the dock.

"Good choice." Sera agreed, turning and noticing the elf behind them and giving him a wave.

There was a bit of shock with the group when Sera joined them. Kira made note to ask her about all this later as they watched the ship set off.

Sera waved after them and blew a kiss that Virgil pretended to catch before getting himself to work.

"So," Sera looked at her old friends. "What have I missed?"