While Claire was below deck learning about their previously unknown visitors, Sean was in his usual place, above deck with the ship’s captain. That night Sean was attempting to commit all the maps and nautical charts to memory as well as help the captain plan their safest port to land in.
“So, in your opinion, which would be the safest place to land?” he was asking the captain as the two studied the map of the eastern coast of the Americas.
“Well, how do you mean safe, specifically, lord?” the captain asked as he looked up at where Sean’s ice blue eyes moved over the coastline depicted on the map before them in the lantern light.
“Well, I know there’s been a lot of conflict with the natives throughout all of the colonies. Which do you think would be the most peaceful in regards to that? Further north because we’ve been there longer or further south because there are less of us there?” Sean attempted to explain just one of the fears he had about returning to their homeland after what little news they’ve heard from there of late.
“Hard to say. Seems like every settlement along the coast is being burned by the savages these days” the captain admitted sadly.
“The savages whose lands we stole and people we’ve brought sickness and death to?” Sean stated, though nearly inaudibly, as his thoughts moved back to one of the first servants that he and Claire had ever brought into their home, and the mystery surrounding his disappearance all those years ago.
“Pardon, lord?” the captain returned.
Sean simply pushed away thoughts of Ash and continued onward “what if we were to go here, around the peninsula farthest south?” he asked as his fingers moved to the outline of what would be Florida “and then sail past it to land on this bit of coast further inland.”
“Mexico, lord?” the captain responded as he watched Sean indicate the eastern coast of that portion of land.
“Yes, that seems like we could completely avoid the warring eastern lands and then make our way toward California over a much shorter stretch of land than if we started from the colonies instead” Sean suggested.
“It would take a great deal longer to sail to Mexico than it would to the colonies, lord” the captain stated worriedly.
“Yes, but we would be avoiding most of the war by landing there, wouldn’t we?” Sean returned.
“I suppose, lord, but that’s assuming we can manage a journey that long without running into storms or…”
“Or what?” Sean asked as he turned his eyes back to the worried look on their captain’s face.
“If we go further south, and the winds take us off course…” the captain shook his head as he looked down at the map once more.
“What?” Sean pressed.
“This triangular area here, in the southwestern Atlantic, we would have to skirt past it, staying as close to the coast as we could so the winds don’t blow us that way” the captain stated with the same worry.
“I don’t understand. It just looks like a bunch of water. What’s there?”
“No one knows” the captain warned.
“Well, if no one knows, then why do you seem terrified of us getting blown into those waters? They’re still on the way to this Mexico” Sean returned.
“The only place those waters lead is to hell my lord. No one ever comes back if their ship gets too near” he warned again.
Sean was quieted for a moment as he adjusted to see the other man’s aura, which was nothing short of terrified of the possibility of the ship heading into those mysterious waters he had gestured to. Sean shook his head, ready to offer another rebuttal to the idea of a simple patch of uncharted ocean leading to a hell he didn’t even believe in, but chose not to in the face of the very real fear the captain seemed to have of those waters.
“Well, we’ll just have to make sure we don’t go that direction then” he stated as he gave the man a slight pat on the shoulder “for now, let’s just plan a course for Mexico for as long as we can, and we’ll deal with any issues as we go” he stated simply, trying not to ponder any truth behind the old sailor’s tale of cursed waters swallowing ships whole.
As Sean left the captain, there was a scuffle from below deck as he turned to see the cause. There rushing up the steps was a young woman with dark eyes and darker close cropped hair which looked as though it had been chopped off with a butcher’s blade rather than a barber’s, and cut quite against her will as well. A few crew members tried to restrain her, but despite the strength that each was graced with by the blood of their Kindred companions, she seemed to shake them off like they were nothing.
More than a bit surprised by the sight of this unknown woman, and her apparent strength, Sean immediately adjusted his sight to view her aura. She was obviously Kindred, but that was the only read he could get on her as the rest of her aura contained many colors that flashed erratically as though she did not have one true mood or intention, but many at once. Needless to say, he had no idea how to decipher that, and so braced himself as she rushed toward him as though she had some singular purpose right then, despite the plethora of emotions she seemed to be feeling all at once.
“My Prince” she called to him desperately as she reached him, falling to her knees and grasping at his hand.
“Sorry?” Sean returned, more than a little thrown by her greeting. He then managed, “I’m not sure who you are, or why you’re here, but I’m no Prince” he corrected her with a bit of worry as the crew moved closer, waiting for him to give them any command to continue their attempted restraint of the young woman.
“But you will be” she smiled up at him as she continued to grasp his hand in what was almost reverence. Though before Sean could make any further denial of her claim, she continued, “After the serpent corrupts the daughter, and the daughter murders the father. Then you will be Prince, and then the snakes will come to devour love, trying to eat it all away. And after the siren calls; the bullets and the blood, and then death comes, and only the dead will live. You must save them, all of them” she told him with a desperate, pleading tone as she looked up at him with red tears.
Sean was more than a little taken aback by her words that made no real sense, but definitely sounded more than ominous. And her tears were proof that she more than believed whatever it was she was trying to tell him.
“She’s mad, lord” one of the crew members offered to interrupt the silence that followed all of her strange warnings as Sean tried to make any sense at all of them, or the woman herself.
Sean took another long moment trying to think of any plan at all to deal with this woman, while also not able to help running her words through his head over and over, trying to decipher them.
He finally braced himself to push her words out of his mind long enough to try and speak to her in a more logical way “Do you have a name?” he asked, placing gentleness in his voice.
“Minna, my Prince” she offered, her dark eyes still glued to his face.
“Like I said, I’m not…” then he just shook his head “how did you get on this ship?” he asked as he stooped lower to talk to her as one would speak to a child, as their definitely seemed to be some childlike factor to her entire demeanor, despite having the appearance of an adult woman.
“The fire, lord, had to get away from the fire” she managed, finally releasing his hand to wrap her arms around herself, rocking back and forth slightly, as though reliving the moment those flames nearly devoured her, as well as Sean and Claire.
“You were at our club when the fire happened?” Sean managed, still attempting to speak to her in the same gentle tone.
“We must go. The serpent he sees her” she repeated again, continuing to rock back and forth as she shook her head.
“Ok” Sean sighed again as he stood once more, “let’s just get you below deck for now” he offered as he reached down to help her up with a gentle grip on her arm.
“But she’s mad, lord” another crew member repeated.
“Mad or not, we’re not going to just throw her overboard. She’s here with us now, so we’ll just deal with it” he stated quietly as he began leading Minna back down the nearby steps.
By morning, Claire had met Minna and Sean had met Lissa, and the four, well three, of them had to figure out how to move forward through this journey. Considering that the cargo hold wasn’t exactly the most accommodating, they decided to move the first mate into the captain’s quarters with him, and Minna and Lissa would take the first mate’s quarters as they were a tad more susceptible to the sun than any of the crew members.
Once all four Kindred had returned to their own quarters for the approaching sunrise, was when Sean and Claire had a few moments to speak alone again “So you’re ok with them continuing to Mexico with us?” Sean asked her as he pulled her close atop their bed.
“If you are” she responded as she curled against him.
“So, you’re not worried about her ‘affliction?’” Sean asked softly.
“Well, it will definitely take some getting used to, but Lissa says she could teach us even more of the mind controlling abilities Haven knew the basics of” Claire informed.
“Well, she should make an interesting teacher” Sean said with a shake of his head.
“Hopefully not too interesting” Claire couldn’t help teasing.
“Pardon?” Sean allowed a wary smile.
“No, I just… ever since… her” she spoke the word with venom, making it obvious who the ‘her’ in question was “I’ve been kind of terrified of us spending any undue amount of time with other Kindred, aside from just the patrons of the club, who were more customers than acquaintances, anyway.”
“What about Aidan?” Sean had to ask.
“Please, I’ve barely even spoken to him since we were forced to leave the theatre” Claire reminded.
“But you must admit you and him…” Sean let his voice trail off.
“Us what?” she asked as she moved to look up at his face in the dark cabin.
“Well, you and he were a lot closer than me and Awsha ever were, and for a lot longer” Sean dared, though didn’t look directly at Claire as he did.
“That is completely different!” Claire denied while trying holding her smile.
“As I just said” he smirked down at her again.
“You can’t possibly compare the two!” she returned as she moved to prop herself up on his chest to continue looking down at him.
“Technically me and Awsha were only together one time… slightly less often than you and your childe” he dared.
“Firstly” she began as she sat up in the bed to look down at him and continue in a slightly scolding tone, “Aidan and I were never together after he became one of us; after he became my childe. Not once!” she stressed.
“But you were together a few hundred or so times, before that, weren’t you?” he had to remind her again.
“When I was with Aidan, it was no different than when we made love with our servants. Exactly the same as a matter of fact. As soon as he became one of us, that ended. You’re the only Kindred I’ve ever let make love to me, and you know it” she reminded.
Sean was quiet a moment before continuing, “so what really bothers you is not that I was with Awsha, but that I was with another one of our kind” he replied softly.
“Well, yes!” Claire admitted. “That’s why I’m wary of any female,” she paused a moment as she remembered that Sean had just recently expanded his desires to at least one other male, but pushed herself onwards quickly “Kindred coming into our lives. Look at the damage just one did in under a year.”
“There’s that nightly reminder” he allowed a small smirk, “but honestly, Awsha is very, very different from our two new companions, to put it mildly” he stated with another look down.
Upon his words, Claire tried not to read any hidden meanings into them, or rather, hidden admiration and continued attraction, though trying to ignore subtleties like that grew ever harder the closer the ship brought them to that ‘very different’ girl who had already swayed his affections once.