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Master of Tides

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With the ship in such a sad state, they had no choice but to wait out the repairs. The storm had done quite a number on it. All the sails were in need of replacement, one of the masts was destroyed, and several canons had fallen overboard, among other things.

It was lucky they hadn't sprung a leak with everything else having gone wrong. Every time Sera took a lap of the ship she sighed. It wasn't totally her fault it had happened of course. She knew this. But still she felt responsible.

A morning or so later the two pirates were tangled up in their blanket lazily, Virgil's head resting at Sera's breast. He was listening to the sound of her heart race at his closeness. It was amusing, and endearing. Sera's fingers ran through his hair absently. She was unable to keep the smile from her face.

"Tell me Firefly, what was it like growing in the woods?" He asked suddenly. It was out of the blue, but of course he might be curious.

"It was beautiful. I still have my moments of wanting the trees above me rather than the open sky." Sera tried to think of a better explanation. "The green of the trees will always feel like home. Although come autumn...some turn the most brilliant shades of red and orange. It's my favorite season. Winter can sod off."

"Do you not like the snow?" Virgil asked, a chuckle escaping him.

"Absolutely not! It's cold and miserable and wet and hard to warm up from. I deplete a lot of energy in the snow very quickly." Sera frowned at the memories of trudging through that white hell trying to make it home from visiting elven friends.

He laughed at her expression. "I shall note to not take us nowhere cold then."

"Truly, I appreciate that." Sera sighed. "In any case...our home was simple. Something, with help, I could build myself. Pap had us a forge out back that I used to mess with at times. Mostly for iron arrows."

"You use a bow then?" He seemed surprised.

"No where near on par with some elves that I know. Enough to hunt, but my current skill wouldn't be very helpful in a fight." Sera shrugged. Her fingers on her free hand went to fiddle with her necklace.

Virgil moved so he was flat on his stomach beside her. One hand trailed her arm until it too reached her necklace. "I have yet to see you remove this."

"I haven't once, since Pap passed." Sera told him. Her voice wavered just slightly. "It's the only thing from him I have left. He was a good soul. He was kind to everyone he met, including on occasions where he ran into dark elves. He's lucky they didn't kill him. But every time, he came home to me."

Virgil's brow furrowed softly. "How did he pass?"

"Of all things, a fever took him." She snorted irritatedly. "I told him he shouldn't work in the rain. But what does the fire mage know about being cold and wet?" Sera sighed. "I couldn't...my abilities couldn't save him. If I had a connection to a greater power source I might have been able to reduce his fever. But I'm just...human."

Her mind went to Marin. The possibilities of what that woman would be capable of when connected to all four dragons was potentially endless. And she was a half elf to boot, so she might also live forever. Had Sera that kind of power she might have been able to save her father.

Virgil watched her mind wander and wondered where it had gone. He shifted again to lean up and kiss her cheek. "When it is one's time to go, it cannot be altered. It is just the way of things, Firefly. I am sure you made him happy and comfortable in his last days."

"He was much more optimistic about it than I was." She chuckled when whisked from her thoughts. Sera took a deep breath. Her eyes found his in the dim light of the cabin.

"Do you remember saying that we all have something this important to us?" She looked at her necklace again shortly.

"I do recall, yes. You were afraid to have lost your trinket." He nodded. "What of it?"

"This isn't the only thing that important to me anymore." Sera told him softly.

His usual casual expression softened at understanding her words as what they were: a confession of love. Nay, a quiet declaration of it. Virgil had a million things to care for and think on but moments like this made him pause to think about himself. What he might want. Things certainly had changed for him since noticing his affections towards her. This woman was unlike others he had known.

Having these feelings scared him, honestly.

Sera half grinned. "You don't have to search so hard for a response. Just...at least pretend a little longer."

The words stung as she said them. Sera could never tell how he was feeling. And now that they'd...she knew he could just be using her. That wasn't how she perceived it at all, but it was an ever lingering fear she had.

Virgil shook his head, laying it across her bare chest and slipping his arms around her. "There's nothing for me to pretend about." Consequences be damned! He was due something of his own. "If you were to be lost to me now..."

Sera started shaking and he looked up at her. She was shaking with suppressed laughter, but the stray tears rolling down her cheeks were clear.

"I never thought someone would tell me something so honest, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be crying," She stammered, wiping her eyes hastily.

"I've never told anyone something so honest." Virgil chuckled and kissed her slowly. It was a strange thing, expressing himself so much. Any doubts of her being unable to accept him--all of him--were very quiet in his mind right then.

"First time for everything. And there's much of everything to do." Sera laughed. "So many adventures to be had! I can't wait to have them all with you."

Their lazy tumble of bodies held one another a little while like that, just content to their own company. If that moment could have lasted forever the two of them would have been mighty content. But fate had a funny way of working.

Virgil sighed and sat himself up before either of them could fall asleep. "Our contractor should be here in a moment."

"Hmm." Sera pouted. "I suppose I should get decent and find something to do. Maybe I'll go walk the shoreline. I haven't done that yet."

"Perhaps you'll find another interesting bauble?" Virgil chuckled.

"The bottle of rum did make for a nice evening." Sera agreed with a giggle. "They won't need you to watch after them, want to go with me?"

"Alas, I have something I must do while you are away. But I'd love to hear all about your venture when you return." Virgil told her with a shake of his head.

"The most boring story I've yet to tell you, I shall think of its details while I'm out." Sera laughed. She finally sat herself up and searched around for her top. How was it that it always ended across the room?

"I've not been bored by any of your stories my lass." Virgil shook his head again and kissed her cheek. He rose and while picking up his pants tossed her her shirt.

Sera couldn't help but admire him as he walked across the room. He really was a sailor through and through. Strong and well built arms that still knew gentleness. Defined torso all the way around that seemed very unreal to her for some reason. And then of course she had a giggle at her eyes falling downward to his rear. It was rather squishy actually and it gave her much entertainment.

"Are you laughing at me Firefly?" He turned abruptly and ended her giggle by making her blush, since he still had yet to pull on his trousers all the way. "What might I have done this time?"

"I ah, was admiring that wonderful posterior you've been gifted." She wasn't looking him in the eye as she said it.

"You still blush about it?" His shock was apparent.

"I can't help it!" Her blush deepened. "You can't tell me I'm the only one who blushes this way."

"True, but I hadn't expected you to still be doing it." He chuckled.

"Please pull those on, you fool." Sera rolled her eyes with sarcasm.

"As you wish." Clearly full on his amusement from this he did as asked.

She yanked on her shirt and luckily found her bottoms beside the bed. "Right, I shall be back in a little while."

"Do be careful." He reminded her.

"I've got this with me, I'll be fine." She smiled at her sword.

Sera gave him a quick kiss and made off to port before down the beach.

It wasn't hot that day thankfully. The breeze was welcome through her hair as she wandered farther than she had the last time. When the beach started to bore her Sera made way to the tree line. There were various paths through them. Some obviously made by wandering children and other by merchant bands taking the fast way through the forest.

One path gathered her attention however. It was thin through a sea of leave trees and would be easily missed if someone was not looking for it. That alone piqued Sera's curiosity. She followed this trail for...she didn't know how long. The sun had long passed noon when she reached a grotto deep in the woods. A canopy of green held back the sky but enough dim light came through to make out a shrine.

It was well taken care of, dirt free and not covered in greenery like the ground around it. The candles were unlit with no one around, but Sera waved a hand and had them come to life for extra light. This was not a fancy shrine, clearly home made. She wondered if perhaps someone in the village had made it. From the color, she guessed it was addressed to the water dragon.

That made her smile. Sera moved to sit in front of the shrine.

"Someone put a lot of work into this cute little shrine for it to not be used." She murmured. Sera cleared her throat and took a breath. "I ah...can't say I've used a shrine before." She spoke to it carefully, playing with her necklace. "But I heard that you can speak to the respective dragon from shrines. Even the make shift ones."

She paused, though didn't expect a response. "Silly as that all sounds. Ah," Sera had to breathe a moment. "In the case that they weren't mistaken: thank you. I just know meeting the love of my life was your doing."

Sera tried to find the words she wanted. "He's charming like no other. And kind and generous and passionate. Honestly everything a woman could want." She sighed contentedly. "I can't say thank you enough times in all my life to express my gratitude."

All the suffering she had been inflicted with was worth it to her when remembering it caused her closeness to her beloved. Sera waved her hand and the candles diminished their light to nothing. She felt better having admitted that all aloud. Even to a neat pile of painted rocks.

"Funny thing to be thankful to a dragon for." A female voice made her jump. She turned quickly from her spot to see a woman clad in a brown hooded cloak. "Don't fret, I just came to pay my respects. My name is Illia."

"Serafino." Sera nodded to her. Something felt familiar to Sera about this woman. Illia felt...inhuman.

"I didn't mean to overhear all you said." Illia apologized, sitting a short distance from Sera. "You've fallen for a pirate? That must be...different."

"Were he like the nasty ones you usually see in port it would be a bad thing. But this one is not like that." Sera shook her head. Her nervousness did not leave her. She had not mentioned that he was a pirate and that lit red flags in her mind.

Illia removed her hood and Sera could not help but stare. Illia had a surprising likeness to her father and uncle. And yet now that she could see her Sera could differentiate. Illia had amber colored eyes that seemed alive with flame, and she was much to thin to be of the make Sera's father had bore.

"You feel very familiar, Illia. Have we met before?" Sera asked her finally when the curiosity got the better of her.

"In a manner of speaking, we have indeed." She nodded, her fuzzy brown curls bouncing. "I began to grow curious at just why you spend so much time at sea. It is baffling to me."

"I've always felt drawn to it." Sera responded. "Like my soul wouldn't rest until I was close to it." She didn't like Illia's wording. "Have you been watching me?"

"For some time yes. You get into all kinds of danger. Although I've yet to have to intervene." Illia grinned.

Sera stood with haste. "Who are you?"

"I am afraid I cannot divulge to you just yet that information, little fire." Illia shook her head, rising herself. "You will just have to wait and see. Great things will happen, because of you. Even if they might be small in the scheme of things."

"You must be crazy." Sera's heart was racing. What was this woman capable of?

Illia's laughter felt like it shook the trees of the grotto. "Oh my sweet Serafino, you will learn yet that destiny cannot be avoided. You'll come to us and join us."

"You'll stay away from me." Sera lit a fireball in her hand. "I've no intention of being anywhere near such nonsense."

"He won't be able to be with you. He knows it. I know the fear eats at your mind. That even now that you've admitted yourselves you feel deep down he's lying. He has more important things than you on his mind my dear." Illia shrugged.

 

Sera stared at the woman a long moment. How could she possibly know any of that?

"Why would you say such horrible things? Especially such lies!" Sera threw the ball at Illia reflexively. She would have felt badly for it had Illia not caught it and extinguished it.

"You cannot best me, Serafino. Not yet." Illia shook her head.

Sera was shocked. She had never actually fought another mage--or whatever Illia was--before. Instead of fighting her, Sera bolted back down the path.

She diverged from it at some point in her running and got a bit lost, although there was plenty of daylight left to find her way out. Sera tripped on a branch and rolled down a hill beside a creek.

"Ow! Son of a--"

"Are you all right lass?" Virgil asked.

Sera sat up and looked to see him standing in the creek. She didn't say anything, just scrambled to her feet and wrapped her arms around him holding back her sobs. Sera didn't think to ask how he had come across her. She didn't care.

"What is the matter? You're shaking like a leaf." He took her face in his hands so she would have no choice but to look at him and respond.

"Some crazy woman was at this shrine I found. She told me such horrible things!" Sera shook her head and buried it in his chest again. Why had her confidence been shot down by one crazy woman? Perhaps they felt truthful somehow.

"Truly terrible things they must have been to have you frightened like a child." Virgil shook his head and just held her a moment until her shaking subsided.

"They were." Sera insisted. "And she was able to deflect my fireball completely. I've never had someone outright block me before. She wasn't...she didn't feel human. But..."

"No matter, she is gone now." Virgil's tone was soothing, much like he would use to help her back to sleep after a nightmare. Although he was just as likely to stubbornly hold her and kiss her cheek in a fit of sleepiness. He ran his hands through her hair softly, making it frizzy in places, but causing her to sigh contently. "We should get back before it gets dark, Firefly."

"Before that crazy woman catches up." Sera snorted, pulling away hesitantly and taking his hand. "Lead on, I ah," she turned pink after looking around. "I seem to have misplaced the path."

"Ah, this creek goes all the way to the beach. I was hoping to catch up to you with it but you came to me." He chuckled. "I have much luck today."

As they started walking, Sera snorted. "At least one of us does."

The two of them arrived home after dark, and Sera found herself on the deck of their mobile home, hands on her hips, in thought. She had grown warm earlier and pulled on a thin, sleeveless tunic and kicked off her pants and boots. At this point the crew would just have to deal with her lack of femininity. Sera had a giggle at what Kira's response might have been.

Sera bit her lip and decided the place could do with some light. A breath in deeply, and on the exhale the deck came alight with her little lights. It was still dim, but it gave a calming glow.

"Redecorating again, I see." Virgil commented. He was pressed against the door with his arms folded across his chest. "At least we're safely in port this time."

"Someone has to my dear, else we'll be trapped in an oblivion of hoarded items." Sera teased him. "Mostly I just thought the deck could use some light. We can sail in the morning, yes?"

"With the tide if you prefer." He nodded, coming over behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. He set his chin on her head and received a giggle in response.

"Where will we go?" She asked, leaning back into him and placing her hands to his forearms.

"Wherever you wish." She felt his shrug.

"Hmm. I suppose I have all night to think on it then." Sera smiled and leaned her head back to look at him.

"Oh? I suppose I could choose to distract you and make that much more challenging for you." He grinned and leaned down to kiss her.

The two of them started to sway a bit, as though in time with a music only they could hear.

She had herself a contented sigh. "What magic you must be made with to be all I have ever wanted." Sera had yet to shake those feelings of doubt that Illia had given her fully but Virgil certainly did have a way of distracting her from them.

He stopped in his swaying motions, and looked down into her eyes. "Sera..."

"Mmm?" She waited. That is, until she noticed the sky over his shoulder.

"Oh! Oh look!" Sera gasped, dashing to the railing and almost falling over.

The moon was eclipsing over the horizon and it had absolutely captured her attention. Virgil shook his head with a grin at her change of attention and followed her to the side of his ship.

She looked at the moon while he looked at her. This was the first time she had seen an eclipse and the wonder and excitement never left her face through the entire event.


“I’ll bet I never see a spectacle like that again.” She said breathlessly, finally glancing over to him to find his eyes already upon her.


“I know I won’t.” He told her honestly.

He was not a man easily caught off guard but the swiftness of her lips meeting his came as a surprise. When he returned the gesture, running his fingers through her hair gently, the whole world seemed to stop a moment. Perhaps it even did.

For the first time in several days, Sera woke alone. She had rolled in her sleep to scoot herself closer to him and woken to an empty bed. Grumbling sleepily, she wrapped up in a long coat and went outside in search of her lover.

He was perched in a sitting position on the ledge of the ship, staring out at sea. He seemed troubled over something, actually. What an idea, Virgil, the carefree captain, troubled.

With a hearty, loving sigh, Sera sat herself beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder. "You're nervous."

"I am most certainly not nervous." He feigned offense well.

"Mmhmm. That's why you're sitting out here looking like a worried father." Sera teased him. "What is the matter? Can I help at all?"

Virgil sighed and wrapped an arm around her waist. "Just stay with me."

"Always. Forever." Sera smiled.

She could have sworn she heard him murmur 'if only things were so' but dismissed it. This was very out of character for him as it was.

After dressing they found themselves having a fickle set of playful arguments. They ranged from how to tie a knot (because Sera insisted that she was an expert now from having saved them both) to how to properly and safely dismember a tree (because Virgil was a logger at heart). It all ended in laughter.

Suddenly however, Virgil's head perked up at something he heard below.

"What is it?" Sera asked, tilting her head curiously.

He leaned a little over the side and grinned. "Have yourselves a problem?"

Sera shrugged to herself and made busy with some knot practice. She didn't look up again until Virgil was kneeling before her.

"Firefly I need a favor of you."

"Anything." She looked up and smiled, noting a familiar face behind him. "Old Man!" Sera gasped and shot to her feet. "Nicodemus! How are you here?"

The elder wizard looked at her with equal amounts of shock and curiosity. Though it was quickly displaced with his previous serious worry. "Sera? It has been a while girl."

Sera dashed over and startled the old man with a tight hug.

"You've met then?" Virgil asked.

"Of course! Nicodemus was one of the people I travled a while with." Sera explained. "But what brings you here?"

"I've been enlisted for a rescue." Virgil grinned.

"That sounded very solitary." Sera raised a brow at him.

"It has been decided that I'm to take one of their company, so you shall stay as a sort of...insurance."

"It isn't as though my friends will hurt me, so I'll do it." Sera nodded.

"Very well." Virgil nodded.

"I'll see you again soon." Sera promised with a long kiss. "Who's going with you?"

"Velias." Nicodemus answered, offering an arm to lead back down to the dock.

"Good choice." Sera agreed, turning and noticing the elf behind them and giving him a wave.

There was a bit of shock with the group when Sera joined them. Kira made note to ask her about all this later as they watched the ship set off.

Sera waved after them and blew a kiss that Virgil pretended to catch before getting himself to work.

"So," Sera looked at her old friends. "What have I missed?"