“Shit. Bendt must have gone to Wallport with the traders.” You release Linnea and take a step back, keeping out of her reach.
Linnea rubs her wrist. “He’s going to talk my Father into letting him crew on the Fire Dragon.” Her eyes narrow as she turns and faces you. “This is your fault.”
“My fault! I tried to talk him out of doing something dangerous to Exalt.” You just met your brother and already you are being blamed for something he did.
“You just being here is the problem.” Your sister crosses her arms. “How could he not get worked up about Exalting when some Dragonblooded kid shows up on our doorstep?”
“I’m not Dragonblooded.”
She stares you down. “You’re lying. I heard you call mother Mortal at breakfast. You said “Most mortals can’t use Thaumaturgy.” Only Dragonblooded call people mortals.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. What else are you supposed to call them? I mean, us.” You wince at your flub. You were so worried about slipping up and calling Kaja, Mother, you weren’t being careful to act like a mortal boy. “I’m such an idiot.” You slide down the wall and sit on the floor. You should have worn a Resplendent Destiny instead of trying to pass yourself off as Mortal.
Seeing your distress, your sister’s eyes soften and she kneels on the floor beside you. “People.” Linnea offers gently. “Mortals are just People.”
“Exalts are people, too!” There wasn’t much difference between mortals and Exalts. Exalts needed sleep, ate food, attended school, had friends, too.
“Maybe to you, but I can’t get away with treating Dragonblooded as people. I’d get in trouble.“ Her eyes widen, as your sister realizes she has been acting less than respectful to you. “I mean…” She looks away. “I’m sorry I tried to attack you. That was stupid.”
You didn’t realize just how wide the gulf was between Exalts and Mortals was. “Don’t worry. I’m not offended or anything.”
Your sister relaxes. “The thought of someone hurting my siblings makes me a little crazy.” She admits.
You attacked one brother to save the other. You sigh and bang your head against the wall. It wasn’t your sister’s fault she didn’t realize who you were. Yet it was possible she remembered something. “Linnea, did anything happen twelve or thirteen years ago?”
Linnea plucks at the woolen fabric of her dress. “You are talking about the raid.”
“When we used to live near the coast would get raided by barbarians a few times a year.” Linnea stared off into the distance. “My parents hid me and my brother in the cupboard. Told me to keep quiet. Then they left us to join the town defenders. “ Linnea’s knuckles turn white as she grips her dress. “I heard noises outside. Someone had broken into our house! I was so scared. There was fighting. The sound of furniture breaking.” She closes her eyes. “Then a strange woman opened the cupboard door.”
“A woman?” You are surprised. You figured Akachi had taken you himself. “What did she look like?”
Linnea shakes her head. “I don’t remember, but she knew my name. There was a barbarian warrior laying on the floor behind her. She said she was there to protect us. She said that everything was going to be okay and I should go to sleep. That it would be all over soon.” Your sister opens her eyes.
“She lied.” You sister accuses harshly. “When I woke up, my parents were back frantically searching our house. People were standing over the dead barbarian, arguing. The woman took something…. Something important. The woman wasn’t there to protect us at all.“ Linnea shakes her head, focusing back to the present. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”
Wanahton once explained, while his children didn’t recognize him, they still remembered having a father. Your kidnapping was such a formative event in Linnea’s life Arcane Fate couldn’t completely erase it from her memory. You rub away your unshed tears with the base of your palm and change the subject. “Just how dangerous is it out on the White Sea?”
“Very Dangerous. The weather is unpredictable and many ships collide with submerged iceburgs.” The corner of Linnea’s lips twitches slightly. “My father’s been lucky. He hasn’t lost a crew member in years, but Bendt is stupid enough to become the first.”
Your father’s luck may have had help from Akachi. “Do you know anyone with a sick grandmother?”
“That would be Thea. She lives on the other side of town. “ Your sister describes the house.
You hear footsteps upstairs. Elise must have woken up due to the racket you and your sister made. “I’ll go get your mother. You watch Elise. “
Before you head to the sick grandmother’s cabin, you ask around Ramshorn and discover the traders left a few hours ago. One Villager saw Bendt with the traders, but wasn’t sure if your brother left with them or not.
It does not take you long to find the grandmother’s house. You knock on the door and ask for Kaja. Inside you find a wilted old woman lying in bed. The grandmother’s skin was pale and her granddaughter was wiping her face with a damp cloth. Your mother pours a musky smelling tea and spoons it to the old woman. When Kaja sees you, she excuses herself and follows you outside.
“Bendt left with the Traders for Wallport.” You announce abruptly.
Your mother puts a hand to her mouth. “How long ago did they leave?”
“A couple of hours.”
Your mother glances back at the old woman’s cabin, twin responsibilities warring in her mind. “Anders said he wouldn’t allow Bendt to crew until he was eighteen.” Your mother didn’t seem too certain your father would keep his word. Someone calls Kaja’s name from inside the old woman’s house.
“You stay here and take care of the old woman. I’ll bring Bendt back.” You aren’t sure how you’d make your way to Wallport, much less convince your brother to come with you. Maybe you can knock him over the head and drag his unconscious body back to Ramshorn.
You walk through town, trying to figure out how you will get to the Northern Coast. You will never get there in time if you walk. You stop in front of the Ramshorn Inn and count your Jade to see if you have enough to buy a horse.
“You look like someone who is in need of transportation.” A deep and familiar voice observes. Akachi leans against the wall of the Inn, dressed in his color clashing Peacock cloak.
What do you do?
- Tell Akachi to fuck off. You’ll find your own way to Wallport.
- Accept Akachi’s help. It’s the only way you can be certain to catch up with Bendt.