Vingt-trois: Lands Uncharted

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I APOLOGIZE FOR THE HUGE DELAY. I've been working so much, and I'm leaving my house for three months, with work. So I'll be on a slight hiatus until the end of August, but I promise to start posting then. 

I WILL LIKELY POST A CHAPTER IN THE MIDDLE OF JUNE, MAYBE ONE IN JULY IF I'M LUCKY ENOUGH TO COME HOME. 

POSTS WILL RESUME IN LATE AUGUST UNTIL THIS BOOK IS FINISHED. WE ARE ABOUT 65% THROUGH!

THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO STICK WITH THIS STORY STILL. I WILL FINISH IT SOON, AND I HOPE YOU STICK AROUND FOR THAT! 

Cheers! 

___

"Captain."

Mira's voice resonated behind Dazaara with a sense of urgency. She could hear her first mate's steps approaching, and though she tried to forget Mira's spectre—the one that had drowned her, spat hateful words, stabbed her—she could not. It felt like she had deserved it, but if what that ghost had said was true, Dazaara was not certain how to act toward her. As a captain, she knew; beyond that, she did not.

You're not a leader. You're a coward.

No more lies, Dazaara.

She turned around. "Yes, Mira."

"Land is upcoming. Are we docking?"

"Affirmative. These lands are uncharted; it would behoove us to dock behind the mountains to minimize visibility. I'll take it from there."

"You're going by yourself?"

A pause.

"Yes. We don't know if these parts of the world are habited. The last thing I want is to kill both captain and first mate on an exploratory mission."

Mira shoved her hair behind her ears in the typical way she usually did when she was angry, stressed, or both. "With all due respect Dazaara, having another person with you will increase your chances of survival. Bring the warlock with you if you're so keen on leaving me behind."

She sighed. "He's gone, Mira. He won't be coming back, likely," she paused, "This is not about you. This is about making sure that everyone else is safe. We have lost enough already."

"It won't help anyone if you die, either."

"I have left a chain of command that would—will—function without me. Your argument does not stand. I want you to take care of this crew in my absence; you have gone through enough for me. I want something better for you."

The pause between them was heavy with the love of two friends—sisters—who had known death, danger, heartbreak and betrayal, sisters who still loved each other despite all that had befallen them. The contrast that had grown between them was uncanny, almost shocking. Both used to be somewhat lively, happy to sail and happier to conquer, enjoying the pleasures that the waters could offer, and that gold could purchase. Dazaara had indeed always been a bit gloomier, but they had nonetheless been as close as family.

The change had been so rapid—fulgurant. Dazaara was now colder, darker and carried sorrows beyond what she could have imagined. She was afraid and guilty, torn between her will to live and her will to die, between the life she lost and she life she was forced into. Mira was still herself but she had been betrayed by the one person she had learned to trust.

They stood before each other now, a dark haired, broken-gazed pirate and a golden haired, alive young woman, with weight upon their shoulders and a darkening future ahead of them.

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