116 A Fateful Decision*
"What did the old Token guy want?" asked Aegin as he put another sack of medicinal herbs into the cart.
"He offered us jobs on his ship," Rassa replied.
Aegin paused, "You're kidding?"
Rassa shook his head, "He said the only thing he could offer were meals and a pay better than here, but he was willing to take all three of us-"
"We're going," Aegin said, a grin lighting up his face, "We're saying goodbye to this dull port on this gods forsaken continent and sailing into the distance".
Rassa felt his enthusiasm, returning his grin before he spoke, "Don't you think we should speak to Eb first? I mean there is that dilemma..."
Aegin's smile dropped for a moment. In all honesty, a few days ago he would have proposed they ditch her, but after what they'd talked about the previous night, he couldn't help but feel there really was a reason she was with them.
"Right," Aegin said, then as he turned to walked away, his frowned deepened, "What about your...meals?"
Rassa sighed, "I'll just have to be careful, if we planned on going south we would have had to take a ship either way".
"But if they-"
"It's a ship, we're all confined to it. Even if they wanted to run before I could erase all their memories they couldn't," Rassa replied.
"But I think Ewan proved it wasn't as effective as you thought," Aegin replied.
Rassa waved him off, "Like I said, I'll be careful".
Aegin shook his head as he watched Rassa get back to work, he wasn't winning any award for reassurance anytime soon.
They received their usual pay that evening and Aegin dragged Ebony towards one of the nearby shops almost immediately.
"Where are we going?" asked Ebony.
"Captain Token offered us jobs on the Miranda," Aegin replied, "We're leaving at dawn tomorrow so shouldn't we get supplies?"
Ebony's eyes widened, "I-"
She looked over her shoulder at Rassa who was following behind them, "Are you sure?"
Rassa shrugged, "We just wanted to see if you were okay with it, after all, we'll be stuck on a ship full of men, and seeing as you-"
"I'll be fine," Ebony replied, "At least, I'll make do".
"You know how these ships have a policy against...well you know. What if they find out?" asked Rassa, "Are you sure you're okay with it?"
Ebony scoffed, rolling her eyes, "If you're okay with it, then I'm sure my problems are mediocre. To be honest, the only one of us that will get by without any problems is Aegin, and we all know he wouldn't last a day without the two of us".
Rassa smirked as Aegin spun around, his expression depicting a look of offence, "I'd do just fine thankyou".
Ebony sighed, patting Aegin on the shoulder reassuringly, "You keep believing that. I'm going to go and buy some spare materials. Work on a ship can't be easy, we'll ware through our clothes quicker".
For the first time since they'd arrived in Port Lovolon, Rassa felt a sense of true contentment. As he followed Aegin and Ebony through the shops to buy extra cloth to patch together some travel packs as well as some needles and thread for new clothing, he felt like he had a purpose. Like he wasn't just mindlessly surviving. He had to admit that knowing his actions hadn't resulted in Aaron's death had helped.
He may not have known the cabinboy, but that didn't mean Rassa had felt immense guilt at the innocent life that he'd supposedly taken. To know the boy was still around, albeit injured, he somehow felt that Ewan's blood hadn't tasted quite as bad as he'd originally felt it was.
Or maybe it was the talk he'd had with Ebony and Aegin the night before that had contributed to this new feeling. A feeling of not being so useless, so monstrous.
For the first time in years, Rassa could feel an inkling of himself. For once, he didn't care whether it was the boy from the village or the vampire who'd slaughtered countless individuals. For once, he felt like Rassa, and more than that, he was very unwilling to let that feeling go.
But reality is cruel, it does not let happy moments last forever. At least, that is what most of us are led to believe. In truth, as with what Rassa needed to discover for himself, happy moments only last as long as we let them. To find happiness through darkness. Joy through pain. Rassa had only just begun on this journey. And as an inkling of this realisation settled within him, Rassa couldn't help but turn to face south, that initial feeling he'd had upon hearing Jeremiah's offer rising again.
He'd spent some time that morning thinking about where to go in the south, and inevitably, his thoughts had strayed to the story about the goddess with the fox ears and tail. If it was true, and she was truly a part of another strand of Chaos, would he be able to find another part of happiness? Or at the very least, have a better clue as to how he could find it?
The thought excited him, and had been why he hadn't thought much on the consequences should he be discovered for what he was at sea. He had a purpose now, a mission. That was enough for him.
So that night, the three of them settled down for their last night in Port Lovolon, each of them content and excited in their own ways, and ready to see what this new adventure would bring.
"Ready to go, Captain?" asked Hargreeve as he approached down the docks to where Jeremiah waited by the long boats.
"Just about," Jeremiah replied, "You'll take good care of Aaron, then?"
"You won't recognise him when you return," Hargreeve replied.
Jeremiah wanted to deny it, but a round trip was nearly three months long. Aaron would have plenty of time to heal and grow by then.
Jeremiah's eyes fell on a group of three individuals carrying travelling sacks over their shoulders as they approached down the dock towards Jeremiah.
"New recruits?" inquired Hargreeve.
Jeremiah nodded, "I'll make sure they're well acquainted with the waves by the time I return".
Hargreeve nodded, "Good luck at the Trader's Festival".
Jeremiah sighed, "I'll need it".
Hargreeve turned and headed back towards the shore, preparing to start another day of work. Phil didn't have his hood on as he approached, clearly he preferred the darkness. His two companions appeared a little guarded, but Jeremiah could tell from their eyes they were excited. That was good. No sailor would get on his ship without that look. Jeremiah would do his best to kill it with hard work. Only the best still had that excited look in their eyes by the end of it.
"Ready to go?" asked Jeremiah.
Phil nodded, then held out his head, "Thank you for the opportunity, Captain Token".
"Just Captain is fine," Jeremiah replied.
"This is Aegin and Eb," Phil said as he pointed to the two that stood and watched on from behind him. He paused for a moment, then gave a small smile, "And my name is Rassa".
Jeremiah paused, looking at him with a frown. If it were done any other way, Jeremiah probably would have berated him for lying and turned him away. But the look in the kid's eyes...he seemed relieved to tell Jeremiah his name. As if he'd unshouldered a burden.
"Rassa, huh?" asked Jeremiah, "Alright, get on you three, pick up the oars, they'll be waiting for us".
The three of them were only too happy to oblige.