They slept fitfully that night, after the tales and rumors aboard Galline’s Pride. The stories of The Seeker, and of Borindin, the King, and dragons, ancient battles and fortresses, and the Four Heroes, swirled in their minds. How it all seemed so fantastical, so otherworldly to them. Some felt scared by the revelations, as fictional as they must be. Others, like Andril, were skeptical. Many of their number, including the new additions, wondered what Fritz was doing himself, and how important a mission it might be. He had said it was for the King, on His Majesty’s Service.
But he had also said their mission was too. Areia slept and dreamed of the man who had once saved her from a certain death. A regal, respectful man. A man who thanks to Canton’s portrait, she now recognized as the King’s Son, Genoran himself. “What have you gotten yourself into, you little urchin?” she muttered to squeaks. She slept with one hand on her dagger and the other over her little pet, just as always, ready for anything. Even in sleep.
Before going to bed, they had been introduced to Zy’an, a monk who was as secretive as he was quiet. He seemed always in thought, but that wasn’t the most obvious of his qualities. He wasn’t quite human, but neither was he elfkind, or dwarven. His eyes shone like gems, tiger eye gems in fact. Out here, Haryk didn’t think it would matter, but back in civilized Celn lands, the noble knew better. He’d probably be inquisitioned walking down the street with a loaf of Cillandrial bread thought Haryk. Thrak had sniffed him up and down, literally, and had approved though. That of course wasn’t saying much, Thrak approved of decomposing fingers in his “sack of snacks”.
The other, a strange fellow named Marcus, had an unnatural hue to him. Andril couldn’t quite place it but he knew the man had magic, most likely feral magic, coursing in his veins. He had heard of men like this, men who used the wild magic of the lands, without fully understanding what they were doing. His kind, the wizarding class, considered it an abomination of true magic. But he didn’t say so. To discuss such things was never to his advantage anyway.
Of course, the commander gave them the all clear. And as Frank recovered from his coma, and roused himself for departure with them, he supposed it wouldn’t matter what any of them looked like or where they had come from. What would matter was coming out alive. Frank knew, looking at the warriors in his group, that he would need to stay close. The thought of the pain and agony associated with using his divine gifts made him tremble slightly but he didn’t show it. He tried not to, although it ripped him apart from the twisting horns sprouting through his flesh, to the ways in which his skin glowed and burned. Every single time. The curse, the Ketian curse, that one day had changed his whole world. That would have killed him, if Canton had not found him before the Order of Crimson.
They left at dawn, with not a word to the captain or crew. Andril looked back at the ship, while Thrak and Haryk rowed in the fore of the dinghy. Ulua, sat in front, anxious, perched like a bird about to take off in flight back to her nest. Past the breakers, they landed and hid the small flat bottomed boat among some brush and rock up from the shore. Ulua got down on her hands and knees, and let the fine, dark sand run through her fingers.
“I am home,” said the princess.
They followed her up a rocky area, and some trails which wrapped and wound their way around the side of the Ata’aun peninsula. Within less than an hour, they had risen several hundred feet up from the beach. Here, they spotted the ship, Galline’s Pride, returning out to sea where it would wait for them, but twice a day, at dawn and at sunset. Not pausing to let the others catch up, now in a near sprint, Ulua raced onward. She was going home.