281 The Eve of Egress
*Eldovian Era 1714, 15th day of the 1st month*
Devina was standing on the uppermost deck, admiring the view of the sunset over the ocean's horizon line when she saw it. There, in the distance, a shape that was not so flat as the rest of the horizon. Two months on a ship, the last six weeks of which were spent at sea, and finally she could see land once more.
It wasn't long before others started to call out around her, having spotted it as well. As the sun dipped below the horizon, they gradually lost sight of it, but knowing it was there lifted the spirits of everyone on board. Especially after the terrible storm they'd passed through the week before. A total of six dead. The three that Aegin had found, and another three that were missing and assumed to have been fallen overboard. It had made the atmosphere on the ship quite dreary.
"So, I hear that we spotted land," Aegin stated as he came to stand next to Devina. She had not even heard him approach. Though this time, unlike the others, she did not flinch.
"We did," Devina confirmed, "Though we didn't see much, the crew confirmed that we would reach Rene on the morning tide".
"Rene," said Aegin, "It's one of the Triad Cities, is it not?"
Devina nodded, "It is. Considering the Western Continent is largely a desert and has sparse natural resources apart from abundant jewels, they trade for most of their materials and technologies. In addition, they are far more spread out. There are only three major cities on the Continent, known as the Triad. Two along it's Eastern Coastline designed specifically for Trade with Eldovia and the Southern Continent, and one further in land between the two that sits among a cluster of large jewel mines".
"So Rene is the southern-most city?" asked Aegin.
Devina nodded, "According to what I've studied, yes".
The two lapsed into an awkward silence before Devina spoke again, "So...where will you go from there?"
Aegin gave a small smirk, "Even if I knew, I would not tell you".
Devina frowned, "And here I was thinking we were becoming amicable".
Aegin chuckled, "You will return to the Order at your earliest opportunity, yes?"
Devina nodded. Of course she would. It was her home and her duty.
"And when you return and tell them that you spent two months bound to the very creature you were sent to hunt and developed an amicable relationship with it, do you think they will follow your lead?" asked Aegin.
Devina opened her mouth to respond, then closed it again.
"I thought not," Aegin finished.
Devina did not speak for a long moment, conflicted as she thought about what he'd said, "You knew I was sent to kill you?"
"After you saw what I could do I doubted you would make the decision to capture me alive," Aegin replied, "I pose too much of a threat".
"Our magic subdues you well enough," Devina replied.
Aegin frowned for a moment before his eyebrows relaxed in realisation, "Your light is annoying, but it cannot subdue me indefinitely".
Devina sighed in response, "So you will not tell me where you are going because I am not a liability?"
Aegin shrugged, "I can't think of a stupider move than telling your enemy where you're going to set up camp".
"I know you're here," Devina stated, pointing towards the continent they were not travelling alongside.
"The Western Continent is a big place though, and pretty spread out," Aegin said, throwing her earlier description back at her, "I think I'll be fine for at least a while".
Devina huffed, "We could get along if you'd let us".
"You mean if your High Priestess says it's okay," Aegin replied, "And of course let's not forget the thousands of Magicians serving under her and the millions of defenseless humans. No, until enough time has passed and those following this path have a stable enough ground to stand on, we'll just keep to our shadows, and you keep to your light".
Devina's eyes narrowed, "Are the others here? Is that why you came?"
Aegin leaned his forearms onto the railing, glancing up at the moon in the clear sky, "I doubt it. Not that I can really tell where they are at all anymore".
"You were separated? Do you not have a home?" asked Devina.
"No, that's what we were searching for. A place to call home. But things happened," said Aegin, and he trailed off in a way that Devina was sure meant he would say no more on the matter.
"Well, regardless of whether you'll tell me or not-"
Devina sighed, "Regardless...I do hope you find what you're looking for, Aegin".
"Who knows. Maybe it'll be in Rene, maybe somewhere else," said Aegin.
"I think we both know that home isn't a place you set off on your own to find," said Devina, "Home tends to find you, usually through the people that are there. It's why, no matter what you might say about the Holy Order, it will always be my home".
Aegin chuckled, "It's not your home though, Devina, not any more".
Devina turned to face him in surprise.
"When you return, with what you have been through, you will have two options presented to you," Aegin stated, "The first, you will tell them the truth about what happened. You will tell them the good and the bad, and in the end you will tell them that you let me go. But they are member of the Holy Order. They will not see things the same way as you and they will consider you as a lost cause after they probe you for my location. The second is that you lie and pretend that this entire journey was a waste. That you thought you found who you were after but in fact you didn't and the Yilish brought you along for whatever reason. But in that version of your future, you will watch as they carry out missions to eradicate traces of Chaos, likely with you in tow if not in the lead, and the truth that you have uncovered will slowly eat away at you until you grow to resent them for their mindset".
"Oh?" asked Devina, "And what truth have you uncovered?"
Aegin sighed, "Chaos and Order are two sides of a coin. You cannot have one in this world without the other".
He then straightened and turned to walk away, "Good night, Devina".
Devina watched after him as he walked away at a leisurely pace. She did not want to believe what had been spoken, but she also could not dismiss it anymore. Aegin was not an absolute threat. And he could be reasoned with. Perhaps there were parts of him that he had not yet had the chance to find, but even then Devina doubted that he would truly desire to hurt anyone without reason or cause. Yet that was exactly why the Order hunted them. Because these dark paths were thought to be too unstable, too dangerous to exist.
But what exactly gave Order the right to determine that?
Once the question was there, Devina could not pass over it. She spent the last night on board the Mariner sleeplessly.