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The Tip of the Iceburg

Beneath the deck of the ship the two women settled in a stateroom. The room was draped in scarlet and gold silk hangings and the cushions littered the floor. They surrounded a bed that was low to the floor, the pillows and blankets of which matched the wall hangings. Four intricately carved posts rose from the corner of each part of the bed. Ella smiled, "It's nice to see that Helios finally let you do some decorating in here," she commented, sitting on one of the cushions, her legs tucked beneath her. The woman slowly, but deftly lowered herself onto one of the larger cushions, still beaming at Ella. "It's been too long since we've seen you last, and you seldom write like you promised you would," she chided teasingly.

"Me write? What about you Misae I haven't heard from you in months and now look at you positively glowing." Misae waved her hand dismissively and rolled her eyes. "Glowing, that's very funny. I'm enormous." she countered, resting her hands on her belly before continuing, "We tested it in the kitchen, you can balance a small plate of food right on top of my stomach." Ella laughed. She could feel the stress of the past days wearing on her as she reveled in her friend's presence. There was always something comforting for her about spending time with Misae and Helios.

"So tell me what's happened and who that unbelievably handsome man that you brought with you is." Misae said, resting her face in her hands with an intensely focused look on her face. Ella sighed and told her everything: The kidnapping, their escape, and even their rather intimate moment from earlier.

Misae smiled, "My, my I haven't seen you this excited about someone in a while." Ella flushed, "He doesn't excite me, he's just a nice person who wanted a way out of his crazy little village so, he helped me out." She finished rolling her eyes at her friend at her friend. Misae raised her eyebrows in an expression that clearly showed she didn't believe Ella, but Ella ignored it. "Well, if I were you I wouldn't overlook something interesting." The two women sat in a comfortable silence before a rumbling sound interrupted them. Misae smiled, her hands going to her stomach "And that would indicated that these little monsters need to be fed. " Ella raised her eyebrows.

"Oh, I didn't mention I'm having twins?" She asked in response to Ella's obvious confusion. "I obviously didn't then, did I?" she finished reaching out her hands. Ella took them eagerly, "That's so exciting, although I suppose that means much more work for the two of you doesn't it?"

"Help this huge woman off the floor so she can eat something." Misae replied. "And if Helios thinks I'm the only person taking care of his children, then he is sorely mistaken." she added, grunting slightly as Ella helped hoist her off of the floor. Misae smiled kindly at Ella and walked through the door and out into the hall, "Go fetch your man friend and tell him it's time for dinner. While you're at it, tell Helios to come down as well." She ordered waddling deeper into the ship in the direction of what Ella assumed to be the kitchen.

She shrugged and turned in the opposite direction, climbing the wooden stairs and out onto the deck. She spied both men immediately. Two tall forms were leaning against the railing. The golden light of the afternoon sun, sparkling and gleaming off of the bow of the ship. The water beneath them was calm, rolling peacefully beneath them as they flew.

Her boots made a clicking sound as she strolled across the deck to the pair, her hair rippling around her in the breeze. Will heard heard the steps behind him and turned. He smiled as he saw Ella strolling toward him. Her hair glimmered in the sunshine like a chestnut curtain as it flowed behind her. The wind whipped her shirt around her body and he was stunned for a moment at how beautiful she was. Helios noticed he'd lost the attention of his companion and turned as well.

He grinned at the sight of Ella on the deck "Well hello there!" He said, the corners of his mouth twitching in amusement as he saw how will regarded Ella. "Your wonderfully pregnant woman told me to tell you both to high tail it to the kitchen because she's hungry for her meal." Helios smirked slightly, "Oh alright tell her we're coming."

"Do I look like a carrier hawk to you?" Ella retorted, arching an eyebrow at him. "Of course not," Helios replied waving a casual hand "Hawks don't tend to sass me nearly as much as you or my wife." Will smirked a little at Helios' retort but quickly hid his smile as Ella threw him a look. Ella rolled her eyes playfully at the pair of them and turned on her heel and walked back beneath the ship. She walked along the corridor that then opened up to a larger room with a roughly hewn wooden table that stood maybe a foot and a half off of the floor.

Misae already sat at the table, her legs crossed in front of her one over the other. Ella sat down beside her friend, crossing her own legs in a similar fashion. As Will strolled into the room his eyebrows lifted slightly as he saw how low the table was in comparison to his rather large stature. He kneeled down beside Ella with a sheepish grin and mimicked their positions. Will ignored the groaning from the muscles in his hips at the foreign way of sitting and nodded politely as an older woman sat a plate of food in front of him.

There was a bowl with some kind of broth and noodles in it and a small pile of meat on the side. A plate of steaming roots and other plants were placed in the center of the wooden table on a large metal serving dish. Everyone ravenously dug into their food, while Will hesitated slightly before dipping his spoon into the brown liquid and bringing it to his lips. The liquid was pleasantly hot and savory as it rolled over his tongue and down his throat. He hummed a small sound of approval and eagerly ate with everyone.

"So Helios, I hear you're having daughters." Ella said, sucking one of the noodles into her mouth. Helios' face split into a grin. "Good gods, as if I need more women on this ship telling me what to do." Misae rolled her eyes playfully at him, "As if you pay me any mind when I tell you what to do anyway." she teased with a laugh before picking up a few pieces of meat and dropping them into her soup. Will smirked slightly as he took another bite before locking eyes with Ella from across the table.

Looking up from her food, Ella's lips curled upwards into a bright friendly smile. His heart leapt a little bit in his chest at the sight of her. He grinned back before realizing that Helios was staring at the two of them. Helios winked mischievously at the two of them before turning back to Ella, "So what are your plans once you get to port?"

Ella smiled "Well, I'm going to meet up with the rest of my crew and head to the Southern Lands. Apparently they've found something down there that needs my looking at. I also have to stop and see Alo." she finished, the end of her sentence trailing off quietly as she took a bite of the food in front of her. Helios' smile faltered some, but brightened again almost instantly. This time however, Will could see the worry in his visage beneath the sparkling façade of his expression, and knew better than to give into his curiosity at this particular point in time.

Misae smiled from further up the table and changed the subject quickly, going on about the new vegetables she bought from a rather interesting traveler and how they made a truly fine soup. Unfortunately, the mood had already been ruined. Ella smiled and chatted animatedly with Misae, but Will could see the unmistakable twinge of sadness tainting her unusually bright eyes.

Once they'd all finished eating, a rather tense silence fell around those seated. No one seemed able to break the spell that urged them to speak and say nothing all at the same time. After some minutes, which seemed to stretch by like days, Ella stood, pushing back her chair. The sound of heavy legs against the floorboards of the ship seemed to echo through out the dining room as Ella stood and left the room without saying a word.

Will frowned as he watched her disappear from the room. His gaze then shifted toward Helios and Misae, who seemed to be sharing a small, silent conversation between themselves. "Should I ask?" The thought seemed to shatter the thrall of the oppressive silence that had thickly clouded the dining room. Helios cleared his throat and pushed a lock of golden hair from his face. "Alo is her brother." he supplied before pausing and glancing back at his wife again, "And they've had a very strenuous relationship since their parents passed. But I do suggest you ask Ella about it herself. She seems to trust you."

Misae gave him a kind look and nodded, "It's still a little hard on her." Will nodded silently and then looked toward the door, "I'm going o go make sure that she's okay." He said standing up and following Ella's path. Helios and Misae stared at each other with a slight smile creeping up on each of their faces. "It'll be fine dear." Helios said smiling gently as his wife before helping her out of her chair. "I want you to get some rest, you shouldn't be putting any strain on the babies." he said, guiding her out of the room.

On the deck the light of the full moon shone brightly, bathing everything in cold bright light. A warm wind whipped her long dark curls back from her face as the sea rushed below the ship. The warm salty spray, displaced by the fans of the ship, flew up and sprinkled her face gently with water. It was a delightful cool feeling, but she took no pleasure in it and the way the water clung to her wind reddened cheeks made it look as though she had been crying.

The soft thud of his boots against the deck where muffled by the sounds of the engines. Ella's flickered toward the ground where she saw Will's shadow. Her eyes returned to the horizon of the sea, noting his presence but not outwardly acknowledging it. Will watched her as she leaned over the railing of the ship. Her dark curls rippling in the breeze, gave the impression that she herself was a figment of the night and that as soon as the sun began to rise that she too would disappear. He stood there for a moment, just observing her before moving closer and resting his forearms against the cool metal of the railing.

Neither one of them said anything, each enjoying the comfort of the others prescience and giving into the comfortable silence that settled around them. Out of the corner of his eyes, Will watched her intently, studying the lines of her face. They were smooth, but there was tension beneath the surface as if she were willing and forcing her face to remain in the stoic expression in which it currently rested.

He returned his gaze to the open sea, marveling in the beauty of the moonlight glittering across the open waves. It seemed endless, as he couldn't make out where the water ended and the sky began. "I never knew the sea could seem so infinite." He said softly, his voice carrying some on the breeze. She nodded silently, then opened her mouth to speak "Helios says that sometimes when he travels, if it weren't for the stars and his compass he would never have know that the sea had an end, unless of course he discovered it by accident." Ella smiled slightly, grateful that he wasn't questioning her about her sudden departure. Will chuckled, "Helios should be glad he can read the stars," he said gazing up at the sky "All I can see are small glittering pinpricks in the distance, let alone be able to tell them apart." he said with a smile.

Ella finally turned to look at him with a full and kind gaze, "The stars together make little images, and based upon where these images are and how you see them you can determine where you are." She explained before raising her arm and gesturing to the left. "See that extremely bright one? The one that looks almost like a diamond?" she asked. Will nodded, staring at the star. "That one is Polaris, or the North Star. Wherever you are you can always find that star and follow it north." she finished.

"So we're heading east because the star is on our left." He reasoned simply. "Exactly." she replied with a curt nod before falling silent once more. "My mother used to take my brother and I star gazing when we were young." The words were tainted with both fondness, sadness and pain. Will nodded silently not commenting and hoping that she would continue on her own without his prompting. His patience was rewarded as she opened her mouth to speak again, "He was never really the same after she was killed...it drove him mad trying to find out who did it and why." she admitted softly before lapsing back into a tense silence, her heart aching as she felt a burning tightness in her throat. Ella shook herself, forcing tears back so that she could keep her composure.

Will nodded solemnly not breaking the silence. They continued to stand there together, the wind whipping through their hair. The tension was palpable. Will felt his hand slide along the rail until his fingers brushed the tender side of hers. Ella's eyes flashed toward the gesture, noting the warmth from his hand as it rested near hers. The touch soothed something in her. Her eyes darted upward to Will's face, where she found his bright blue ones staring down at her.

They twinkled in the light with a warmth and openness that she genuinely appreciated. She smiled up at him in a silent thank you. Will nodded in response, and just like that the sourness in the air seemed to dissipate. They stood together like that for a while, the silence between them calming as they watched the moving sea beneath them; only the soft, low hum of the engine accompanied them. "I'm sorry you must be exhausted, you should get some rest." Ella murmured after a time. Will glanced at her, "And what about you?" he asked, "Don't you need some sleep?"

Ella shrugged nonchalantly, "I don't sleep much these days." She admitted sheepishly, shaking herself a little "I just find myself sleepless and staring at the ceiling. Last night excluded of course."

Will smiled. "Maybe I'm good luck for having a goodnight's sleep." He suggested with a devilish smile. Ella laughed softly, "Yes, perhaps you are." She responded, her grin widening unexpectedly at the sight of his impish expression. "Well if you want to get some sleep, of if you just want some company you know where to find me." He said before inclining his head to her and turning to head below the deck. Will nodded at a few of the sailors on duty as he made his way to his room by the galley. It was a small room, but nicely decorated. The bed rested on the floor in a way that was curious to him. Green blankets and pillows with light blue trimming decorated the bed.

Thin curtains hung from the ceiling, they had been drawn back and wrapped around the poles that raised up from the floor to the ceiling. At a writing desk in the corner of the room a bundle of candles had been lit, casting a warm glow about the room.

Will sighed and removed all of his clothes before kneeling down and laying on his bed. Smiling to him self, he closed his eyes and let the events of the day play through his mind until he heard a soft knock at the door. Ella's head peaked in, "That offer for company still open?" she asked softly, the candles giving her dark hair and skin a beautiful golden glow.

"Of course," he replied moving over so that she could have enough room as she joined him on the bed. Ella laid down next to him, her body tense as she settled with her body next to his. They laid there together, the candle light flickering though out the room. Ella turned over to face him, a gentle smile playing at her lips, "Thank you for this," she murmured. Will nodded, "Anytime." Will closed his eyes focusing on keeping his breathing even and deep, as well as trying to ignore the smell of her next to him.

He then felt her soft curls and the weight of her head against his shoulder. He smiled to himself as he smelled the sweetness of her and could feel the softness of her skin against him. He noticed the even sound of her breathing and concluded that she had fallen asleep. He opened his eyes and glanced at her sleeping so peacefully against him. He was stunned by her beauty and the gentle lines of her face as she slept. Sighing contentedly he too closed his eyes and fell asleep.

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