“The wounds seem to be healing properly but I do not like the condition she is in.” Tryst’s voice came to Callindra’s ears as though from down a hallway. “This much healing without any food is taking a serious toll on her body; magic only accelerates the body’s natural processes, it doesn’t do anything the body can’t do already.”
“She will wake up, eat like a horse for a few days and be right as rain just like she has a dozen or more times.” Cronos said, a curious edge to his voice. “The Goddess wouldn’t give her something that healed her just to kill her slowly with it.”
“Malachi believes we’ll have smooth sailing for a few days at any rate.” Vilhylm said, “That’ll give her some time to recover.”
Callindra cracked an eye and looked at her friends. All of them sported bandages of one type or another, Cronos had one that wrapped around his head quite thoroughly and nearly obscured his face. Vilhylm walked with a pronounced limp as he paced the floor and had strips of cloth wound around his chest, probably broken ribs. Tryst’s left arm was purple with bruising from shoulder to wrist while his right forearm was tightly bound to his side.
“You three look like hell.” She said, her voice coming out in a thick croak. “Who do I have to stab to get some food around here?”
She was laying on her stomach due to the wounds on her back, her right hand was a mass of vines that sprouted tiny Brightstar flowers and her knee itched like there were a thousand mosquitos biting it just beneath the skin. Her hair was loose and spilled over the side of the bed, the sunlight coming through the porthole bringing out the red notes in the otherwise unremarkable brown. Someone had brushed it out recently.
Cronos approached with a steaming bowl of something that smelled like ambrosia as Vilhylm helped her sit up. Her knee wouldn’t bend and her back was so stiff that it took her several minutes for it to relax enough that she could sit. Awkwardly balancing the bowl on her lap with her leg stretched out she took the wide wooden spoon from the bowl of stew and began to devour it.
“Well, nothing is wrong with your appetite I see.” Tryst said wryly, “Try to slow down so you don’t make yourself sick.”
“Thank the Winds I’m left handed.” She said around a mouthful and as if in response a breeze promptly began teasing the ends of her hair, threatening to deposit them into her meal. Before that could happen, she had finished the bowl drinking down the last of the broth and wiping it clean with a hunk thick black bread Cronos handed her.
“So this Malachi is the captain?” She asked, accepting a mug of ale from Vilhylm. It was a dark brew with an earthy flavor she associated with hazelnuts.
“Yes. He is also the one who pulled you back onboard when you nearly fell over going after that sword of yours.” Said Cronos, “What kind of fool’s errand was that?”
Callindra’s face colored slightly and she took another drink to hide it. “He is my life. I would be lost without him… my magic would devour me and likely take anyone standing around me with it. If I didn’t have the control he offers I would be a danger to everyone.” She reached out and touched Brightfang’s pommel stone with the tips of the fingers that extended from the mass of vines on her right hand.
“Aye, he is the captain.” A gruff voice came from the door, “An he is wondering what exactly he picked up there in the forest.”
“I was going to wait to mention this captain Malachi, but you seem to have something onboard your ship that we have been tasked by the Goddess Jorda to acquire.” Tryst said, giving the Dwarf a careful look. “I am not certain which part it is, however I know there is certainly a portion of our quest here.”
Malachi gave them a level look, and then grunted. “This cabin’s too small. Come to mine.”
“I don’t think-“ Tryst began, but the Dwarf cut him off, glancing toward the walls significantly.
“I said come to my cabin.” He said, pulling out a pipe with a wide, deep bowl and tamping it full of tac. Without waiting, he turned and stumped out of the room reaching into his belt pouch for flint and steel.
“Can you help me to my feet?” Callindra asked, “I need to get dressed in at least a shift if I’m going to walk out of here. Just bandages is hardly proper attire for a meeting with the captain.”
Cronos chuckled, “Yeah, I’m sure most of the crew would appreciate watching you walk across the deck.” He took one of his shirts out of his pack and helped her put it on. “You don’t have any dresses, so this will have to do.
“Fits me like a tent.” She grunted, awkwardly buckling Brightfang on around her waist since she couldn’t put the baldric on over her shoulder as normally did. “Thanks Cronos.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it.” He said with a smile, “Come on sister, let’s go and see what the captain wants.”
They walked the short distance to the admittedly larger cabin where Malachi waited for them at the slow shamble, the best they could do with their combined injuries. When they reached the door, the scent of Karalan Imperialis wafted from the room.
“Get in here, I ain’t got all day.” Malachi’s voice followed a large smoke ring that drifted out of the door.
Callindra was the first through the door, wishing she had taken the time to bring her own pipe. “I’ve heard that few people smoke the Imperialis blend.” She said, giving him an appraising look.
“Ah, a connoisseur.” He said, “Well sit your skinny arse down and pack a bowl if ya will.”
The room was small but well appointed, a desk bolted to one wall and a bed folded up against the other. A small bookshelf held a few tomes, each one strapped down with a leather thong to keep it in place. A scattering of cushions lay on the floor for them to sit on. The Dwarf was gesturing toward the desk as he spoke, and Callindra saw a pipe rack with a few long stemmed pipes resting next to a small wooden box of tac.
“I will take you up on that captain.” She said, hobbling to the desk and picking up a pipe. Brightfang kept banging into her knee as she walked making her wonder how anyone could wear a sword on their hip. It was difficult to tamp the pipe full with only one hand, but after a few moments she had it burning and was settled comfortably on a cushion, her injured leg stretched out in front of her.
“Thank you for agreeing to speak with us Captain.” Tryst said, “Our mission is of the utmost importance and I think you can help us achieve it. I think you might even have been told to help us.”
Malachi leaned back on his cushions and sucked on his pipe, giving them a level, suspicious look through half closed eyes. “Maybe.”
“I think perhaps you know more than you’re letting on.” Vilhylm said, leaning on the wall just inside the door. “But it seems you’re helping us anyway. Jorda asked you to save us from the fire and you did so.”
“Aye, a perceptive one.” He muttered, smoke coming out of his mouth with the words. “I was indeed asked by a certain individual to give aid to a certain group. She never said you were dangerous imbeciles who would all but destroy the Grungie did she?”
“Is your ship more important than the will of the gods?” Tryst demanded, steel entering his voice.
Callindra chuckled and the men all glanced at her with frowns on their faces. “Sorry, it’s just that all this dancing around the truth seems so trite when you consider what we are attempting to do.” She blew a series of tiny smoke rings. “Don’t you understand? I guess I shouldn’t judge because I certainly didn’t. Not until a month or so ago.
“The Gods are real! Demons and devils and all that are real too… it’s not just the good things that we’ve been told about, but the bad too. Something used to keep them at bay but now they’re fighting free of whatever that was. I think that something was Onde.” She looked at them, fear in her eyes. “He’s gone. Nobody knows where he is and the only way we can find him is by doing as Jorda asked.”