When they found him

Saoirse jumped down in a moment, turning the body’s face out of the water and muck and to the sky. The boy coughed once, twice, and was breathing. Saoirse cleared off the mud from his face.

Toiréasa’s voice rang out behind her. “If there’s one, there might be more. I’ll look.”


She didn’t have to look, she could hear Toiréasa obey, though reluctantly. No matter how long they had done this for, Toiréasa would always feel like she should have charge. Saoirse was in charge though, they had both agreed.

“We go together.”

Saoirse’s meaning was clear. There would be one of those beasts here, no doubts. She picked the boy up and they went searching.

Secret weapons

Deston looked out over the road. Kya remained down in the brush, waiting for his signal. She knew Roland had to be nearby still, but whether he and Shields would be able to see Deston was another matter. They could not afford to mess this up.

The caravan began to pass them. Deston shifted his position, his leg pressing against her shoulder. She did her best not to move.

“Deston! You can’t!” Vidvan whispered, at the very least. Kya glanced back at him, quizzical as to why he would protest now. “This will cause a backlash to heights you cannot comprehend. We have to find another way!”

Deston looked at the old man, then looked down at Kya. She realized that Deston was leaving it up to her.

Hauke. Not that it mattered, not if Roland and Shields acted.

“We can’t afford to miss this opportunity,” she said to Vidvan.

He nodded several times. “I know, I know. It has to be done during the movement, but not like this. Not a grab and run, even if you could accomplish it easily with that surprise.”

Kya closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. Opening them again, she looked up at Deston.

He trusted her judgment. The corner of her lip twitched upward. “I might have something to help with that.”

to stop and stare

If there was something Deston had gotten used to, it was all of the stares.

When he was a stranger, they never happened. The new towns, cities, trade caravans… they didn’t look at him twice. At least, not until he had acted or something else had drawn attention to him. Only in the places that he stayed at for extended periods of time did this occur. The people who would look at him, try to confront him, try to be friendly, but all the while unnerved by something about him. Deston wasn’t sure what. He didn’t remember that being the case in his youth, but he had been a very different person in his youth.

It wasn’t the fact he didn’t say anything. At least, Deston didn’t think that had anything to do with it. That seemed to bother the people he’d been closer to before, like his sister. Or Shields. Then again, the two of them could talk like nothing. Deston didn’t remember Shields having been this talkative when they were younger.

Then there was Roland. “Morning, Deston. How are things?”

Deston nodded and Roland smiled in return. It had to have started with guesswork, but Roland had determined Deston’s general responses fast. Then again, Roland was the only one who didn’t seem to expect that he would be the same.

“Mom wanted me to ask if you and Temp would come over for dinner. What do you think?”

Deston thought that Temperance would be ecstatic. He nodded.

Roland clapped a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll let her know then. I have to go help Shields with a delivery, but I’ll see you tonight.”

Deston placed his hand on Roland’s wrist for a moment, with a final nod. He watched Roland leave, everyone greeting him as he passed.

After watching Roland until he was out of sight, Deston went to let Temperance know of their new dinner plans.

Slightly on the outside

“Look! He’s here!”

Deston looked as his sister bid him. Roland was his friend and he would be pleased to see him. He was a little less pleased with how pleased Temperance was to see him. Not that it was his business how she felt. He simply hoped that Temperance would not sadden herself with Roland’s continued lack of interest.

This had been going on for a year. At the least.

“Hey Roland, what’s up?” Temperance asked him.

Roland sat on the other side of the table, the waitress getting his regular without giving him the chance to ask. “Shields is banned from roof work.”

Temperance snickered. Deston waited for an explanation that never came.

“My parents’ house is done, despite his best efforts.”

“That’s great!” Temperance exclaimed. “We should celebrate! Deston, we have to buy a good house warming gift!”

Deston nodded. He didn’t know what would make a good house warming gift, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try. Roland’s mother liked flowers, so perhaps a vase? She would appreciate that.

Temperance leaned forward over the table, pressing her arm into Deston’s arm. “Did they say when their doors will be opened? Need any more help moving things?”

Roland smiled. “I know mom would say that she had everything in hand, but she would definitely appreciate it if anyone showed up to help move things in. Shields is not banned from helping with that though, so it’s not going to take very long.”

“Are we sure he’s not a workaholic?”

“You want to say that in front of your brother?”

The other two laughed. Deston wasn’t sure that was a word that described him, but perhaps relaxing was difficult sometimes. Without realizing it, he’d smiled.

Time to buy a vase.

Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything

Deston stared down at the water, where Zale moved around like one of the fish that they would be eating soon.

“The nets are full. Help me bring them up.”

He did so, climbing down the side to hoist the fish up on deck. Two small nets, set up wherever it was Zale had decided they would best harvest. He had, as always, chosen correctly. There would be enough to last them some time. Zale handed up the second and Deston threw that one up as well. Reaching down, he took Zale by the wrist and pulled him up out of the water. They both returned to the deck.

“I have to say, I think we got lucky this time,” Zale said brightly.

Deston nodded.

They sorted through the catch and got started with the packing. “The weather looks like it’ll hold up. The wind could take us further east, to the reef. What do you think?”

What he thought was that Zale knew more about this than he did, but he appreciated being treated as though he was on a similar level. He nodded again.

Zale smiled at him. He held up one of the fish. “Your favorite.”

At that, Deston couldn’t help but smile. Zale patted him on the shoulder, a hefty clap, before moving around him. Deston continued with the task and the two of them enjoyed the day with Zale’s occasional speech.

It was a good day.