Drawn Blades

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Chapter 10

The seat on the carriage is oddly cold today, considering the burning hot heat and the fact that it’s wood. The hottish morning air blows against my face, but I still choose to take in the relaxing memory of it all. Today is the day that I leave, and I most likely won’t return for a few months. Daniel and Jackson are sitting silently in the back, Jeffrey brought them because he thought that I’d be bringing some more stuff with me and he was going to make them help me carry it all. Instead it’s just my little purple backpack, full of clothes and weapons, as well as a notebook and some potion supplies. Jeffrey already dropped off a few sacks and barrels of crops at the ship, though there still are a few more in the back. Though I do understand it is suspicious that I’m going to Vakmite with the shipment, with the amount that we’re delivering it’s obvious that we’ll be making a lot of money from this job. So I’ll accept it and stay on guard.

“Are you sure you brought everything you need?” Jeffrey asks me again for about the twentieth time since I climbed onto the carriage.

“I’m positive,” I respond with a soft smile. “After all, it is just clothes.”

“That’s understandable, but I’m sure you must’ve had some other stuff you could’ve brought,” He speaks solemnly, like a grandfather preparing to say goodbye to his grandkid. Only he isn’t my grandfather, I never met my grandfather and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was dead.

“Well, I did bring a notebook,” I mention, trying to add something that will make Jeffrey relax about how little I’m bringing.

“Just a notebook? Not like an actual book to read or anything like that?” He asks, giving me an odd side glance.

I nod.

He then reaches under his seat, fishing around for a few seconds and sits back up with a book in his hands. It’s red all around and worn from all of the weather and traveling whilst being left under the seat of a carriage. I can’t quite understand what the words written on the spine say, it’s a mixture of faded and gibberish. He tosses me the book and I examine it, trying to decipher what the hell it could possibly say.

“It’s an amazing read,” He finally speaks, focusing more on the road than on me. Like all he’s saying out loud is more meant as a mental thought, but it manages to break out, forming as speech into the air. “I’ve been rereading it for years and not once have I gotten bored of it.”

“What’s it about?” I ask, not really knowing what else to ask. Perhaps him describing it can help me figure out what the hell these words say. Sure, I could just open the book and find the title and author name in there, but it’s not the same, I want to use my brain and figure it out on my own.

“Eh,” He mutters for a few moments like he’s reeling his brain to remember or think of a good way to explain it. “I can’t think of any good ways to describe it without spoiling it for you. You’ll just have to read it.”

“Okay, well thank you,” I smile, pushing the book into my bag next to the notebook, choosing to figure out what the title says later.

“Oh and uh, hey,” He continues and I give him my complete, undivided attention. “When you get back, tell me what you think of it, okay?”

I don’t get why he’s being all serious and sad-like all of a sudden. It’s possible that he’s just going to miss me. Though I’m not very good with sentimental shit, especially since now is the time for me to respond. Sometimes I manage to respond perfectly, but I don’t know how to go about this situation.

Forcing an appreciative smile and trying my best to not appear uncomfortable, I nod, “Of course.”

We reach the docks not much later, though the majority of the ride was pretty silent, Jackson occasionally spoke up and ended up having debates with Jeffrey and Daniel. One of which being the ideal breakfast. Jeffrey said it would be a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast with some coffee, Jackson denied that and said it would be a bowl of the most sugary and nostalgic cereal in chocolate milk, and Daniel finished, saying it would be a platter of fresh fruits and veggies with some water.

The docks are pretty populated today, people in large, flashy clothes with huge, round hats flap little fans in front of them as they step down from the ships, searching for their rides to wherever they’re headed. Large, muscular men and women unload bags and barrels, chuckling loudly amongst themselves as the more scrawny crew members’ struggle. The water is sparkling and almost magical this morning, it reminds me of a time when I was just a child, seeing a colleague of mine singing by the waters on the edge of a cliff. Their bright red clothes flowing in the night air, it was both mesmerizing and horrifying. It was amazing that a huge sea monster didn’t come rising up like some sort of pet of theirs.

Jeffrey brings the carriage to a stop, searching through the ships for whichever one may be ours. “So do we look for the World Wanderer or is he going to find us?”

“Give me a minute to remember which ship was ours first,” He mumbles, climbing down from the carriage. Children laugh and play around us, some gazing in awe at Diamond and others frowning at its sick appearance.

Daniel nudges me slightly, a sack of vegetables tossed over his shoulder. He gives me a covert smile and hands me a small piece of folded paper. We continue walking forward, I keep an eye on Jeffrey as I unfold the paper, curious as to what it says.

‘We quit, wish us luck.’

I lock eyes with Jackson and Daniel, giving them a nod. Turning back to the paper, I flip it over.

’Also, the ship is called ‘Warrior Sea Sailor.’

I can’t help but laugh softly, keeping it quiet so then Jeffrey doesn’t hear and ends up being curious. I ball up the piece of paper and toss it to the side, speeding up slightly so then I’m walking side-by-side with Jeffrey. “It’s called ‘Warrior Sea Sailor.’”

“Oh yes, thank you,” He nods, and not even a moment later we catch sight of the ship. The words ‘Warrior Sea Sailor’ written in some sort of intimidating cursive across the side of it, rust going down like blood. A knight made of stone reaches out from the front of it, sword pointed outwards and painted with bird poop. It looks like a pirate ship of sorts, a wheel like the ones I’ve seen in stories already set up and ready to direct the ship. All of its sails have the drawing of a knight surrounded by waves of water, kind of like it split the sea. The sails are worn but still in good condition, they’re clearly high quality. How expensive must this entire ship be? God damn, Antonio must be loaded.

Then, he comes walking down the docks beside his ship. Antonio Zuma; World Wanderer. I was right, the man I saw that night really was the guy I was intending to find out more of. Even today he still has that same serious and intimidating glare, him and I lock eyes, his being dark red, round, and fierce. He looks like he could get away as a Duthian. He’s wearing a mixture of gray, red, and black, he certainly stands out more than anyone else in the crowd, mainly due to the red. Duthious has the worst reputation out of any other nation. Sure, we’ve all had wars with each other, but the past and history are not nearly as bad as everything Duthious has done to the overworld.

“Good morning, World Wanderer,” Jeffrey greets him with confidence, though I know that he’s nervous.

“Hey,” His deep voice is still intimidating and sour even today. He nods towards me, “Is she the one I’ll be escorting?”

I nod and so does Jeffrey, “Yes I am,” I speak up, keeping my posture straight and tone serious.

He snorts, still not forming a smile. “Alright then, give me those sacks and say your goodbyes, we leave in ten minutes when the rest of my crew arrives. If you take any longer then I won’t hesitate to leave you behind.” Jackson and Daniel both hand him the sacks of crops which he tosses over his shoulders with great ease.

“But I paid you to take both her and the shipment, you can’t do that,” Jeffrey retorts, his brows furrowing.

He shrugs, “Time’s ticking.” With that, he turns around, and stomps back up to the ship.

Jeffrey grunts, glaring at the man’s back as he disappears into the ship. “I’m so sorry, Timber,” He apologizes, his expression going soft. “He was the best choice I could find, especially for this time of year and the amount of money I have.”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” I shrug, forcing out a reassuring smile. “After all, it’s better to have an openly rude person than a kind person with ulterior motives.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” He mumbles, his brows furrowed, almost like he’s pissed off with himself.

I glance backwards for a moment, then turn my head forward, “I should really get my room set up. Just a quick reminder, remember to water the rungin plant everyday. I have a huge water jug set beside my bed so it’s easy to find.”

“Alright,” He nods, his frown dipping lower and lower. “Try not to get hurt, okay?”

I smile and nod, already turning around, “Don’t worry, I’ll be perfectly fine.”

Before anyone can say anything else, I head up the docks and find my way onto the ship, not bothering to look back. Sure, I have had some pretty good memories with them, but they’re not family, and I wouldn’t consider them friends either. Friends are dangerous, they either stab you in the back or get used as blackmail by your enemies. I have no friends; I have no family.

The floorboards creak under my feet as I make my way across the ship. Examining everything while I wait for Antonio to appear. There’s nobody else here just yet. Either they haven’t gotten on the ship or they’re inside doing whatever they need to be doing. The wind blows my ponytail to the side, and my eyes go wide at the sight of all of the crowds below me. The sea of colours reminds me of the concerts the neutral lands would have every so often. Close to the exit of the area, I catch sight of Jeffrey, Daniel, and Jackson hopping into the carriage. Not wanting to risk locking eyes with them, I divert my attention elsewhere.

“Eh,” The deep voice behind me makes my heart drop, like I just got caught doing something illegal. I quickly spin around, immediately locking eyes with Antonio. “You were surprisingly quick with saying goodbye.”

He doesn’t show any sort of amusement or even that he’s impressed. He seems bored and pissed off, though something tells me that that’s never new. “You seem like such an amazing person to talk to,” I smile brightly, keeping the sarcasm out of my voice even though I am being sarcastic.

“Shut up and follow me,” He rolls his eyes and I follow him across the ship. He leads me through a black door with an unlocked hatch. The stairs downwards are dimly lit, not exactly an ideal condition if there were to be an emergency.

The stairs creak and the hallway is also pretty dark inside. There are several different doors on either side of the hall. Though in the far end there are a few with larger doors than others. Booming laughter and banging of tables surrounds the walls of the hallway like everything is just a giant speaker. But it’s obvious that all of the noises are coming from one of the rooms down the hall.

We continue walking forward, stopping just a few doors down from where all of the noise is coming from. He pulls out some keys from his pockets, the jangling of it all nearly headache inducing. He shoves one of the keys into the lock, pretty much banging into it.

The door flies open and a wave of freezing cold air punches me in the face. It smells like rotten nature, or even spoiled vegetables. There’s a small, twin-sized bed with old brown sheets in the corner of the room, as well as a dresser with a dusty mirror attached to it on the other side.

“This is where you will be sleeping,” Antonio says blankly and I slide off my bag, tossing it onto my bed. It squeaks, loudly, even with the slightest of movement. “You won’t be allowed to hold onto your room key, so if you need me to lock your room for you then ask, otherwise it will remain unlocked and door shut.”

“I guess that makes sense,” I mumble, gazing around the dark, dusty room. At least I get a room all to myself.

“Now follow me,” He doesn’t even wait for me to turn around before he leaves the room. I speed walk to catch up to him, we make our way closer to the voices, and he leads me into a large, decently lit room filled with tables and dishes. “This is the mess hall, where you will be eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Simultaneously, everyone inside stops their conversations and focuses on me. Antonio continues walking forward and I follow suit, examining the appearance and expression of everyone here. There are two people behind a counter, one cleaning dishes, the other putting them away and filling up beers. The one filling up beers has short, silver hair, a long nose, pale skin, and a feminine face. Though I don’t want to assume they’re a girl just yet. The one doing dishes has long, black hair, a sharp jawline, and several missing teeth, he seems kind though, like he has amazing stories of adventures.

There are three people sitting together on one of the tables, half-empty jugs of beer in front of them. They are all muscular and wear similar torn muscle shirts with the same emblem as the ship on the back.

“This is the crew, well most of it,” He exclaims, stopping in the middle of the room and gesturing around him. “The rest are either preparing for departure or haven’t come back to the ship just yet.”

“Did you give them proper directions for that little clothing alleyway?” One of the muscular men asks, his voice shockingly high-pitched that it nearly makes me holler with laughter. His voice doesn’t match his appearance at all. He has curved eyes and his skin has spots of oil, his body is also bigger than his head.

Antonio nods, “Yes, and I sent that big-brained asshole with them too. So there’s no way they could’ve gotten lost.”

The conversations among everyone resumes as Antonio leads me to the bar. The person filling drinks stops and looks me up and down, either deciding on if she could take me in a fight or figuring out if I’m a threat or not.

“This is Shady,” Antonio introduces us, taking a seat by the bar, I decide to remain standing. “She is both the bartender and our navigator. Don’t fuck with her,” He warns me with a serious glare. “Especially when she’s drunk.”

Acting nervous, I make a showy gulp and appear tense, making my voice squeak, “Okay.”

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