273 The Tolerance of Twined Fates
Aegin had been confused most of the night. For some reason, he'd felt anger. Though for the life of him, he couldn't work out what he was angry at. He had plenty of reasons to be angry about the what ifs, but as dawn approached and the ship left without so much as a wave from the Paladins, Aegin was pretty confident that his path to the West was set.
So, if he was not angry over the what ifs, then why was he feeling anger? For his deal with Devina? Perhaps it was the Hunger, angry that Aegin had effectively restricted its freedom. Despite her being a representative of Order, blood was blood. It wasn't like their connection with the Great Gods made the blood burn his throat or anything like that. If anything, it imbued him with perhaps slightly more energy than normal. So really, the Hunger didn't really have a legitimate reason to be angry either.
Of course, the answer to his anger came to him as he set foot back in his room and was greeted by one of the chairs flying at him. In truth, it wasn't his anger at all that he was feeling.
"How dare you!" shouted Devina.
Aegin sighed. If him bringing her into his room didn't get everyone on board talking, this certainly would.
"You bastard!" she snapped as she took a step forward and threw her fist towards his face. Aegin caught her fist instinctively and used it to turn her around, pushing her arm into her back as he propelled her forward into one of the walls.
"Let me go!" she snapped.
"You will take a breath and calm down before I do anything," Aegin stated calmly, "I'm tired, so this better be worth being angry over".
"You've tainted my Life Lines!" she growled, "They're mixed with shadows because of what you di-"
She gasped in surprised as Aegin suddenly released her and disappeared. Devina turned around in surprise as she saw the bathroom door part way open. Her eyes narrowed and she marched towards the door only to freeze as soon as she saw the reflection from the small mirror.
Not only did Aegin have Life Lines...but they were black. Black Life Lines. The very thought of it seemed wrong. Devina turned away, knowing that he had not given her permission to see them. But then, as their colour registered to her, so did something else.
She could not read them.
She couldn't help her curiosity then as she turned back to look, only to find that he had pulled his shirt back over his head to cover them. He stared out of the bathroom at her. His eyes challenging her to say something. Her jaw clamped shut.
Aegin sighed, "It's temporary".
Devina frowned, "What is?"
He took a step out of the bathroom, reaching down to pull off his boots as he stepped around her.
"The change in your Life Lines," he replied, pulling the curtain over the window closed and dropping back onto the bed, "Think of it like a contract. You agreed to be the source of the blood I need for the two months we're on this ship. As that time passes, the thorns on your Life Lines will fade. When the last one fades, your Life Lines will no longer hold the 'taint' as you call it".
Devina thought about it for a moment before she looked back at Aegin, "How do you know they're thorns?"
"Because that's what my Life Lines tell me," said Aegin, "Look, this is new to me too. I apologise for making the bond without permission, but it won't kill you and when we're in the West you can go back to your Priestly ways and forget about it. Now please, find something else to occupy you, I'm tired and wish to sleep".
Devina opened her mouth to protest, but then she huffed and headed for the door, slamming it closed behind her. Aegin sighed. This was going to be a long two months.
It took a fortnight for the Mariner to complete it's journey up the Western Coast of the Southern Continent stopping intermittently at Ports for no longer than half a day before it set off again. Finally, as it turned West into the Jade Sea, Aegin could spot Herguard on the horizon, or at least the jagged rocks and reefs that surrounded it. The Mist that had once made it a treacherous place to sail near had dissipated. Aegin had to wonder whether it was normal or if it was something that had occurred since everything on the Island had been raized.
Aegin's relationship with Devina fell into a routine of sorts. Through the day, he would sleep and she would do a few odd jobs around the ship to earn a few silvers. Then around dinner time she would return and the two would go down for the evening meal. Aegin ate very little, Devina ate plenty though. After that they would return to their room where Aegin would take his proper meal before Devina washed up and settled in for bed, Aegin doing a couple of jobs to earn a few more silvers as well as just generally wondering around the ship. He would then return around dawn to each breakfast with Devina before he retired to bed.
They spoke little, except to keep up public appearances. But as they left the Southern Continent far behind, and only the open ocean spanned around them, they began to open up a little more. Devina about her days in the Crystal Towers, and Aegin a little about his own childhood. Though, Aegin was very reserved, and was always cautious about what he revealed. Still, with their more hospitable talks and Devina's thorns on her Life Lines fading by the day, she had become far more agreeable to talk with.
Devina even began to, somewhat reluctant, understand that Aegin meant no harm. That he was merely fulfilling a requirement of his body. That, given the choice, he would prefer not to kill, but that some just would not understand his way of life. Namely of course, the Holy Order and what it stood for.
It was the first time that Devina found herself questioning what had been taught. If Chaos was so terrifying and unreasonable, why then was Aegin so...not horrible?
Urgh, the very thought of abandoning her duty made her so incredibly torn. So, instead of dealing with it, Devina pushed the problem to the side. There must have been something better to focus on.
Devina made some new friends on the ship too. After all, it turned out she was not the only Magician on board. There were two others, a Water and an Earth Magician that were headed to the west in search of what they called 'top secret research'. Eventually, Devina got it out of them. They were searching for evidence of Dragons.
Devina had to snort at the thought. Everyone knew that Dragons were just myths.