Chapter 27 (13th of Earonitan in the year 6199)

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The course of life is like a river

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The course of life is like a river. It flows the path that it chooses, except when more powerful forces take an interest in it.

Elven Proverb

"Ah-hem," the abrupt clearing of the throat brought Cassandra out of her trance

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"Ah-hem," the abrupt clearing of the throat brought Cassandra out of her trance. She'd been focusing on her conceptual drawings of the Dragon Ships, now spread out on the massive drawing bench she had confiscated for her own purposes. Some of what had littered the top of the desk had been unceremoniously shoved to the floor.

Looking up, she affixed her stare upon a young man in fairly common clothes and perhaps not more than two to three years her senior, if even that much. He stood in the doorway, his arms full of rolled up parchments and his hands stained with ink. There were additional slight smudges of that same ink on his face. Everything about the way he held himself there, particularly the way his dark brown eyes locked onto hers, caused Cassandra a moment of pause.

"Yes?" she replied to him, more to break the silence but also somewhat slightly annoyed at being interrupted.

"Sub-general Nightwing, I presume?" he asked with an almost flat, emotionless tone.

His response was unlike what she normally received when people first crossed her path. Cassandra remembered the abject fear of the young girl at the inn on their way to Catersburg and the genuine apprehension in her eyes. She also recalled the palpable desire not to offend her that the girl's father had shown. That was the sort of response to her presence she was used to. But this young man didn't exude any of that. In fact, he seemed just as annoyed by her presence as she was by him for interrupting her thoughts.

"I am," Cassandra replied, putting a certain bite to her words.

The young man entered and put his papers down on another table among masses of other similar ones and various supplies such as inks, rulers, and quills. Then he approached her. "Do you mind?" he motioned to a drawing underneath those that she had placed on top of it on the table. One that seemed very important that he recovered.

She glowered at him but allowed him to retrieve the unfinished details of a ship's rib-like framework. Even if it did interrupt her.

Upon taking it, the intruder rolled it up neatly and also placed it to the side. "Now," he asked, "how may I assist you?"

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