Chapter Eight – Under deck
There was a small gathering under deck, both sisters were there – the first Karl had seen of the younger one since his departure from the village, the trollkin, the priest from the village – why he had joined them Karl had no idea and the gobber, who seemed to have left her beloved engine rather reluctantly given the look on her face and her frequent glances at the door.
The brash sister, whom Karl had learned was named Verana, coughed and the rest of them went silent.
“Some of you know why you’re here, some of you don’t”. She looked directly at Karl.
“Some of you chose to be here, some of you didn’t”. She looked even more intently at Karl.
“Thus I decided to gather you all, to make our, no your” – again she focussed on Karl, “situation clear and try to make a plan for all of us. I cannot ignore what many of you have seen or guessed but instead of doing something rash”, she coughed and her sister looked sternly at her, “I”, she looked at her sister again, “no we have decided to let you decided our course of action. The only demands I have from your is to hear me out and not leave”.
Karl considered protesting about not leaving, but then again, he took a quick appraising look at the two sisters, the look of parts of the company made it worth staying.
“You all were in the village, Verana continued, and you all saw my sister”, she cleared her throat, “use her gift or whatever it is. Some of you may not have realized it was her, other not what it was.”
“What it is is a blasphemy”, Mikhail the priest interrupted.
“And yet you helped her and is here”, Verana replied pointedly.
“May I continue?” She looked sternly at the priest as if he was a schoolboy being noisy in class.
Mikkhail reddened and clenched his right hand as if angered by her mockery but he kept quiet.
“My sister is giftes,” she began once again, “and although it sometimes might seem a curse that gift helped save that Khadoran village no matter how you think of it.”
Mikhail began to protest, “our search teams were doing well, we would have caught the dragonling even without the help of your sister’s… monstrosity.”
Before Verana could stop him again he continued, “how are we even to know that the dragonling was not another of her pets?” He spat out the last word as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.
“How often do I have to tell you? It is not pets, the wild creatures of nature just come to help my sister when needed, she certainly does not keep them as pets.”
Hannah quietly continued, “It’s not like I control them or anything, but when I’m in danger it is like a beacon to creatures of the wild, they come to protect me. It frightens even me…”
“So what did exactly happen out there in the wilderness and the village?” Karl felt he might finally get the answers to fill the blanks in the puzzle that was his memory.
“When I saw the hunting parties leave the village I knew that I had to sneak after them to help,” Hannah began.
“I wonder how you knew…” Mikhail said softly.
“Are you still implying my sister is a murdering monstrous maniac?” Verana said heatedly. “I assure you that she isn’t – but I ca be if my patience is tested too much!” She placed her hand on the holster of her pistol and Mikhail fell silent again.
Hannah looked distressed but continued her story, “I snuck after the hunters out of the village and ended up following those two,” she nodded at Karl and the troll, “always keeping good distance so they wouldn’t notice me. When they were attacked I could do nothing but watch them get hurt. I really wished to help them, but what could I do against the creature?”
She made a small pause and looked around the group focussing especially on the priest before continuing.
“When I saw that they would die and that I would probably be next I felt something inside me chime, like a small bell inside me had been struck, and a moment after another bell answered the tone, getting closer and closer, and then the second creature was there and saved those two.”
“You really want us to believe that’s all there was to it?” Mikhail said disbelievingly and noticeably steely. When none of the others said anything to support him he grew quiet again.
“What happened at our, ahem, incident at your cottage?” Karl asked cautiously when the silence seemed to last.
“Your… visit scared me. You were so forceful, so intent, I felt helpless. I mean it was a bit flattering that you were so attracted to me and wanted me so badly but you were scary, it was almost as you were trying to rape.”
Her sister coughed and looked sternly on Karl, now he understood what she meant about naïve and seeing the best in other people. He began sweating a bit a tried to send Verana a big winning smile but only managed a silly grin.
“When I felt like I was about to faint from fear,” she looked a bit guilty at Karl as if it was her fault he assaulted her, “I heard the chime again, and then the creature appeared and I fainted.”
“So you really have no idea what the creature truly was? Only that it appeared to help” Karl asked incredulously.
She nodded but before he could begin pushing to get more out of her the trollkin had placed a big hand on his shoulder, the other resting on the priests.
He did not seem to realize it though, he seemed lost in thought, “What in Urcaen was that only creature, why do you seem to test my resolve though my Lord…”
Before anyone said more they were interrupted by the door being slammed open and a black cloud of smoke began filling the room. Amid the smoke the gobber emerged, blackened and coughing.
“I could really use a hand with the engine.”