Treize: A World of Dead Men

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The sun had risen and fallen, now projecting a soft, dying glow of pink and orange and purple across the horizon. The Waters of Azirelle had not decided between a calm and agitated mood tonight, opting for a combination of both to rock the Chagrinée's helm northward.

Dazaara recalled little of the day aside from doing quotidian sailing tasks and exchanging a few words with her crew members—Nayior, mostly, about small topics of the voyage. He had brought her a plate of freshly bought meat and corn, taunted her about her perpetual gloomy expression and notified her that some members were somewhat uncomfortable with the warlock's presence onboard.

No one had uttered a word when she had introduced Avriel, but some had bristled. His reputation was not pristine, but neither was her crew's, so each kept to their own and did their best to avoid one another.

Now, as the night settled upon them like a fine veil of nostalgia and fatigue, Dazaara left her cabin to lean upon the wooden railing of the stern, glancing at the ripples created by her moving ship. The waves were a deep, rich hue of navy. They felt comfortable, honest even, despite the fact that it was impossible to perceive anything beneath their surface. It was enough for her to hear their soft crests, their softer whispers of familiarity and wonder.

The stars twinkled above her head, like beacons of light hoping that one day, someone would love them enough to wish upon them. She had always appreciated their presence, their constant guidance to her sailor's heart—where they showed her the way and illuminated her path in the darkest nights. And the moon Dazaara loved equally, with her wise presence and faithful influence upon the waters.

How she wished they could take away the pain, the burden of regret—of a love torn away from her, lost and drowned and forgotten amidst the shadows.

"They won't stop shining upon you, you know," a calm voice said. She shifted her head to the warlock's silent presence. "The stars," he motioned, "they will be there."

He leaned against the railing in the same direction as her, pale beneath the incoming moonlight. She thought that the atmosphere could not be more fitting for him, a darkness lit only by stars, entities that do not hide from the light nor the dark but merely shine regardless of their preference.

"Perhaps," Dazaara whispered, "but will I see them?"

She felt his gaze soften upon her. "Why did you take the deal, Dazaara?"

Her head turned to him, and her gaze locked with his own, both heavy with resurfaced memories beneath this starry sky. "You know why."

"Enlighten me, regardless."

A pause. "My father, he was—is—a good man. Ultimately, I did it for him, because I can't imagine," she inhaled, "I can't imagine living and knowing that he isn't alive but that I am, a girl who made all the wrong choices instead of a man who gave his life to goodness. But maybe it was more than that, I'm not certain," Dazaara blinked, swallowed. "He's my dad, you understand."

"Have you ever thought that, maybe, your father wouldn't have wanted this for you?"

His eyes flashed a crystalline shade—the same one she had seen in Port-au-sang, vivid and unworldly. They returned to their deep, earthy tone but again, she wondered how it was possible for such a change, and if she had just imagined it, once more.

"The better question, is whether I could have lived with myself if he had died, if I had failed? I think not. This stone, it is a dark artefact and even if I manage to find it, there's no guarantee that I will succeed in bringing it home. My father cannot suffer for this. He would have wanted more for me, a better life. I had to be sure, have a guarantee no one could undo that he would live."

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