A Crimson Shore 17.2 The Cheillini Family

One night, on the journey to Three Harbors, Zy’an called to the others. He sat them down in the galley and over some drinks, explained what had been troubling all of them for some time.

“We must be as one,” said Zy’an, “Hidden and yet seen. Hasai knows a group that resembles us has the Lanthorn. She spent ten years tracking us, and will do so again. When next we meet, we will be on our own as no doubt, Abraxas was killed. We also now know how valuable the object is, and how others may want it as well. May be willing to go to no small measure to take it from us. We cannot be who we are in Three Harbors.  Not collectively.”

Iricah listened intently, for she had been thinking the very same thing.  It twisted and turned in her stomach, and now that someone else said it, she felt both relieved and concerned even more. She reasoned. “The Lanthorn can protect us from the scrying eyes of Hasai, or any others who may wish to take it from us, but only so long as we are together. Apart, we must remain who we are.”

“Yes.  In Three Harbors we must disguise ourselves. When we are not under the guise, we must stay apart. For should we come together as we are, we will match a description that anyone would recognize. Together though, we must have a reason to be. A family. Siblings perhaps, bordering on nobility, but of humble beginnings. The….Cheillini family,” thought Zy’an allowed.

“Yes…yes,” said Areia. “I’ll play cousin Marvolio!” She was only semi-sarcastic this time, they noticed. As her face began to transform and her body lengthened into a more masculine frame.  A human one. She whistled, twirling around in a feminine way which made her male form, complete with a noble’s outfit, leggings and tunic look altogether awkward. “Look mom, I’m all grown up.” She practiced walking back and forth, each time becoming more and more “manly”.

The others knew Zy’an and Iricah were right, and as if the Lanthorn could somehow manifest their thoughts, and maybe, it could, they began to change themselves. Each transforming into a male, a human one.  And each looking as though they were brothers.

“The Cheillin’ Brothers,” said Thrak in a very very human voice.  His face, although completely human was perhaps the most incredible.  Only the slightest trace of what made Thrak a lizard remained, and it would only be visible thought Frank by someone who knew him well.  He was now replaced by a very human face, and form.

“Thrak, you’ve grown down,” said Iricah’s male voice with a little wink.

“Well, I am half,” said Thrak, looking now rather whole. He kept twisting around to find his tail but couldn’t. He rubbed his hands together and kept placing them on the table aside him, trying to dig his very fine fingernails into the wood. Of course, they wouldn’t.  His talons were simply gone. “How must I eat with these limp slugs attached to my palm?”

“We will play the part then. Just make sure that when we are not the brothers Cheillini, that we are not together in more than a group of two. Agreed?” Zy’an peered around over the empty bottles of ale.  Everyone nodded. Thrak’s now human head nodded differently. Areia laughed realizing that the lack of a snout must be throwing off his weight as he shook his head.  “As Hojo says, everyone has to play the fool sometime,” he finished.

Thrak was the first to get up. He nearly stumbled over the table bench, but managed to find his feet. He spun around and stared at them with his now human face. They couldn’t stop watching him. “Speak for yourself, humans. I’m not playing a fool, even if I have to play a human in this little game.”

He then spun around and climbed up the galley ladder to his quarters. As he did so, his buttocks shifted side to side in an extemely non-human way.  It immediately hit all of them, that Thrak was compensating the motion for a lack of a tail.

Thrak spent the better part of an hour, walking around his nest that night. He tried every conceivable combination of his new arms and legs, but no position would feel right, without his tail spun around him. Finally, he simply laid flat on his belly, and slept with his arms and legs along his side, as though he were laying on a rock.  The others had stayed up much later, which greatly annoyed Thrak, especially when they would burst out laughing. No doubt it was at some ridiculous human joke only they would understand.


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