Kelsandra, Chapter 7

After a pause, Kelly pulled down the red cloth under her chin and called back to Valgar, “He’s my brother.”

Valgar collapsed on the ground as well, and the trio lay on the sandy grass, breathing heavily. Gavin stared down at them, dumbfounded, as the woman relaxed her sword arm and laughed. Kelsandra then sat up.

“I don’t know how much you’ve changed,” she said, “but we’re very hungry and tired.”

Gavin walked up beside her and kneeled down. Kelly studied his tan, weathered face, and he hugged her. She didn’t hug him back, but in a burst she remembered how long she’d been waiting for this exact thing from this exact person and tears rolled down her face.

“Look at us,” he said, his deep voice cracking. “Me, a pirate, and then my little sister runs off and becomes a bandit.”

She pulled away. “A bandit?”

Gavin patted her gun.

She pulled it out and held it in her palm. “Do you want it? I don’t want to use it anymore.”

He took it and then stood up with her. “Why do you have two bows?”

Sterjin stepped forward and sniffed at Gavin’s ankles.

“Should I tell them to prepare dinner?” the woman asked.

Gavin tucked the gun into an empty holster strapped to his side and nodded. “Get Thorgir inside first to be patched up.”

Valgar had gotten up by then. “I’ll help.” He laughed. “He’s pretty weak for a Charr.” He and the woman hooked each of Thorgeir’s arms around their shoulders and slowly walked toward the ship, one side comically taller than the other.

“Who’s your friend?” Gavin asked just quietly enough so Valgar couldn’t hear.

“Why would you gift me a river drake when we lived in the mountains?” Kelly asked.

He laughed. “We have a lot of questions for each other.”

“It’s been so long. I don’t even know how you recognized me.” Her voice went quiet and timid, trying to keep from crying again. She hadn’t seen anyone in her family for years.

“We’ll get some food for you. And for the drake.” He reached out his arm to pet Sterj, who indifferently grumbled and then ran down through the sand and into the lake.

As the two of them walked toward the ship, Kelly studied her brother out of the corner of her eye. He hadn’t grown that much, only a few inches taller than her, and though he had a lot of energy, his face was much older than she remembered and resembling very much their father.

“Do you have children?” Kelly asked.

“Why don’t we meet the crew first,” he said.

 

Kelly followed her brother up the ladder to the bow of the ship. He looked down at her endearingly as she swung awkwardly and widened her eyes when she felt the ship wiggling with her weight. When she was close enough, she made a wild grab at Gavin’s extended arm and he pulled her up the rest of the way. The archer that had shot at her was leaning against the cabin, giving her a wary look. He was shorter up close, with thick blond hair and a round face.

“This is Milo,” Gavin said, and led her into the ship. He didn’t introduce Kelly.

As it turned out, there were only two others in the crew. A female Asura was in the main room when they walked in, tending to the wounded Charr. Valgar was sitting to the side. He waved at them.

“Zhiksa,” Gavin said, and then pointed to a small window. “Morris, our chef, is making dinner.”

Kelly was amazed that this small crew had their own ship—and her brother was a part of it. The rocking beneath her kept her in a daze as he led her up another ladder to the top of the cabin, and they sat staring out towards the lake. Kelly told him about what happened when he left: their father sent her away to live with their mother in Claypool, and Kelly never left except for a few trips to Divinity’s Reach or other human provinces, even when their mother died.

His expression didn’t change when she mentioned the last part, though Kelly was almost certain that he wasn’t aware she’d died. “When did the egg hatch?” he asked.

“Oh! Right. On the way to Claypool.” She laughed. “As soon as it started moving, I screamed for them to stop and ran to the river. I think I held them up for a long time while he swam around. He was so strong, able to swim against the flow of the brook. He wasn’t too sorry to leave, though.”

“What did you name him?”

She sighed. “Sterjin.”

“Wasn’t that—“

“Yes!” she said. “My old stuffed bear. What did you expect? You gave a pet to a small child.”

“It’s good,” he said simply, avoiding eye contact.

“What have you been doing, Gavin? You look like Dad.” She said it half-jokingly, but he didn’t acknowledge it.

“I traveled a lot before coming here. I was studying the undead for a while.” He poked at the hem of his pants.

The human woman called from the side of the cabin, and Gavin leaned down. He rose back up with a large plate of grilled fish atop watery rice. He was smiling. “Look familiar?”

She dove into it, knowing that he would excuse her as they’d been walking constantly since the Greatcamp raid.

“I see the way you look at this ship and crew,” he said, knowing she couldn’t answer with her mouth full. “All I can say is, don’t think about it. You’re holding onto this dream you’ve had since you were a child, and you can’t be a pirate, Kelsandra. I know you can’t.”

Kelly quickly swallowed the mushy fish and rice and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I don’t want to be a Covington pirate.”

“But you want to be a pirate.”

“How did you know that?”

“I told you—I can see it.”

She scowled and straightened her back. “Well—what business is it of yours? You wouldn’t listen to me for a second if I told you what I think you should do.” Her voice rose as she spoke.

“I’ve been everywhere, Kelly. Trust me—everywhere. And then I chose. You should do the same.”

“I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough.”

“No one can do it alone. Why not keep your friend?”

“He’s going home. He doesn’t have time to travel around.”

Gavin rolled his eyes, exasperated. “Go with him. He can make stops.”

“It’s in the snow—that’s where I’m from—“

“It didn’t bother you nearly as much as it did me. Trust me, you’ll like it.”

The sun completely set, and twilight filled the sky. Like it came naturally to him, Gavin immediately stood.

“We go out to the middle of the Lake at night. We anchor between the underwater villages so as not to be disturbed by centaurs. But I’m sure you’d be able to handle them if they gave us any trouble.” He smirked.

She couldn’t help but smile. It still felt the same between them because of how much older he was than her. There would always be a generation between them, giving them a special sort of bond. “We can sleep here?” she asked.

“Of course, little sister.”

“And we’ll be gone in the morning.”

“If that’s what you want.” He sat on the edge of the roof and jumped down, rocking the ship just a bit.

Valgar helped Kelly retrieve Sterjin and bring him onto the ship by setting a wide plank between the run-down harbor and the basement. That’s where the three of them slept that night, stomachs full and ultimately ready to continue their search and their journey.

Leave a Reply