Raydorn: The War in the Black (Chapter 12)

“This is when the shark shows its face, when you take the one thing all things care about… the appetite we all share.”

– Andelyn Stella, 448 A.C.A.

The sound of crashing waves might be calming for some, but definitely not for Andelyn Stella.

Despite living near the sea most of her life, she was a sailor only in her swearing. I never should have volunteered to go mermaid hunting, she complained to herself.

Everyone had to do something, and unless Andy wanted to only be the doctor in this new world, she would have to volunteer to do something else. 

I will be more this time, we need more with swords than needles. We need people of action. As the fishing boat rocked back and forth, its sway being nothing out of the ordinary, Andy felt her stomach swirl. She gripped the light pole that held up the canopy, and thought to herself, Why couldn’t I be a woman of action on land?!

She felt Astrid leaning over her back. Only the ax woman would get so close to her. “Didn’t know you get seasick, why would you volunteer to spear mermaids if you get seasick?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Andy told her.

“Oh, I wasn’t worried,” Astrid said, smirking and walking away, but not far. It took only a few steps to walk across the port bow. 

The ship was only manned by six people: Two spearmen to wade off the shark mermaids once they went into infested waters, usually legionnaires, but they had an extra islander to show Andy and Astrid the ropes; then there were two fishermen to hold the lines that linked them to their sister boat, to catch salmon and the like; and lastly was the sailing master. 

The Icee islander came up with a long rod with three forks at the end, nothing too complicated. This is more of a trident than a spear, Andy thought as the man showed it to her. Truly, the most striking thing was the purple color rather than anything about the design.

“Throw at shark,” the man said, struggling in her tongue but getting the point well across, “throw and then pull, then mermaid come to you and meat for us.”

“Sounds simple enough,” Andy muttered as she reached for the spear, and upon grabbing it, she wished she hadn’t.

Ah,” she gasped as it happened again.

This was less unfamiliar as she was still on the water, sailing around and through the plateaus of the Icy Pearl Isles. In fact, she was then on a fishing boat about the same size as the one she had been on. 

She looked up and saw an arch as they sailed under it a boat at a time. It surprised her with how bare of algae and wildlife the rocks of the plateaus were. Weeds and vines were no longer hanging down the sides of the plateau’s, or maybe they hadn’t yet.

Most pressing was that there were no legionnaires, just Icee fishermen, and more of them, with more spears.

She looked down at her arms and saw that her skin had tanned to the color of the islander’s natural brown. Strikingly, she looked at hands that had callused over from repeated use.

Andy didn’t act on choice, she acted on instinct as she reeled back her spear. Without conscious control over her movements, her eyes did not catch what was happening, but her arms moved on their own and so did her legs.

Andy stood stalwart as something hit the bottom of the ship, and a dark mass formed under it, moving under the sand to cover itself. Then again she readied her spear, her other hand out before her as she followed the movement of what lied below the water’s surface.

Then a hundred teeth jumped out of the water at her, and she threw her spear.

Huh,” she gasped as she came out of her vision with the spear readied in her hands as it was in the vision.

“You are… natural?” the fisherman said, giving her an approving nod of his head.

Play it off, Andy, she told herself as she smiled at him and nodded her head. As she did so, she looked past his shoulder and saw Astrid watching her, with this snide smirk on her face. You know the game, Andy, she questions you, deny, deny, deny, always works, who cares what Sheila said.

Just before the islander could walk away, Andy waved to him, and asked, “Name?”

He made a look of recognition, and answered, “Aolani.”

“I’m Andy,” she told him, and then pointed to the spear, “how old is this spear?”

Aolani shrugged. “Old thing it is, made from mermaid bone, who knows.”

It must be, or else there would have been Black Legion in that vision, assuming it was real.

“Thank you,” she said.

He nodded his head in assurance, “Problem, there is not, careful now, dangerous waters we tread.” 

Andy nodded in her head, and said in the Icee tribe’s language, “Faʻafetai.” Aolani smirked, which meant she could have nailed it or butchered it, she had no idea. All she knew, is that she was suddenly sailing through the arch she had in her vision. This one has a bit more room after years of erosion, but instinctively, Andy knew, I had just been here.

As they passed through the arch, Andy remembered another thing about this place and readied her weapon just as she had in the vision. 

Her eyes traced the water’s surface as the fishermen on the other boat threw the other side of the lines at her ship, and her ship’s fishermen held the lines up. They began to catch fish between the nets, and Andy’s pulse started to quicken.

This is when the shark shows its face when you take the one thing all things care about… the appetite we all share.

She kept her spear up as she kept looking and never let it go down. She never looked around the boat to see how Astrid was doing, nor any of the fishermen. She kept her eyes on the water, determined to make sure no was getting a bite taken out of them that day.


This time when the boat swayed, Andy stood steady, her spear still ready. This time the fin of the shark mermaid surfaced as if taunting Andy to make the same mistake of the last person who held that spear.


With even less warning than before, the shark mermaid lunged out of the water, but Andy had thrown it before it had surfaced. The mermaid popped his head out of the water just to be skewered on the spear’s three forks. The bone of its own brethren made for a powerful weapon, killing the mermaid almost instantly. It took only made a few shallow twitches as it floated before going completely still.

The fishermen called out to them in a panic, pointing to the corpse drifting towards their net. That shark mermaid was twice the size of Quintus, and would surely take the net from them with its weight.

I’ve got it!” Astrid yelled as she came to fix the problem. 

She held her rod, or really her ax and its invisible axhead over her head just as it turned on. 

There was a bright light that Andy tried to shield her eyes from. She could just barely make out Astrid swinging her rod and a fiery circle flying into the water. 

The blinding light dissipated almost immediately and Andy was able to step a bit forward to see ash collecting on the surface of the water. Only the mermaid’s head was left with the spear in it, and the line connecting it to the boat.

“I’m guessing you don’t plan to spear anything today,” Andy said, sounding more like a statement than a question. 

As Andy pulled the spear’s line and the mermaid’s head into the boat, Astrid didn’t smirk at her but gave her a big wide smile. 

“Somebody’s a quick learner, and it’s not me, so better I stick to what I know, and what I know is a burning ax,” she said, even pressing the rod to Andy’s face as if she’s never seen Astrid’s weapon before. 

Andy slowly pressured Astrid to put the ax away, avoiding touching it, not even considering that it might still be hot as she did. She did this as she asked, “Whose the quick learner?”

You, you threw that spear dead in the beastie’s head without even practicing! Maybe quick learner wasn’t enough, that was amazing.” 

As Astrid grew excited, Andy only mellowed.

“Oh, not really, I just…” Andy tried to lie, but Astrid seemed far more lucid than usual to her, the shorter woman arching her brow as soon as the lie started, “it just came to me.” 

Well, that’s not entirely untrue. Actually, that’s completely true, just missing a tiny important part.

“What like a vision?” Astrid pushed further, stepping in closer, lowering her voice as if this could be their secret.

Wait, I’m supposed to be lying, is this what happens when you tell the truth by accident?

“No, actually yes, I’m mean… I don’t… how did you…” then Andy stopped to really think, “that was a silly question.” 

Astrid whispered to her, “Tell me about it, maybe they’re like mine.” 

Uh, I don’t want it to be like yours, Andy thought to herself, a sudden aversion letting her pull away from Astrid. 

“Doubtful,” Andy said turning away from Astrid, shutting herself off from the woman who might be able to help her. “It was probably just deja vu or something.” 


Before she could get back to her post, Andy’s body seized from her ears down. She slowly turned her head to Astrid as she was given the nastiest arch of the brow. “Excuse me?” 

“You’re lame,” Astrid called her again, with her arms crossed. She even bent forward, as if ten years younger than she was, as she told Andy, “Lame, lame, lame, you won’t tell me, so you’re lame.” 

Andy’s eyes squinted at Astrid as she stood in place. “How old are you?” 

“Twenty-something, thirty-something, I dunno, who keeps count of that?” 

“Literally everyone.” 

“Who is this everyone?” Astrid questioned as she approached Andy, and stuck her wagging finger in the taller woman’s face. “Do you know everyone?” 

“I… no.”

Astrid wore this shit-eating grin as she stopped wagging her finger. “Then don’t presume to know what everyone knows or believes,” and with a baffling tap of Andy’s nose, “lame-o.” 

They stood there in silence as Andy’s mind fell blank. How does one regain their thoughts after meeting such a juvenile adult? How does one respond to someone like Astrid?

If you’re Andy, you respond the same way you do to everyone else, albeit with more confusion.


“I’m still not telling you.” 



Malum moved first. His sword had struck before either man could make a sound. He gave each on a small cut on their neck. They barely bleed and wouldn’t bleed out, but from their cuts, their veins turned blue. Jack was yelling before they hit the ground.

What’s wrong with you?” Jack hissed, at least remembering to be quiet.

“What?” Lucy asked, taking her hand off her own sword. “Haven’t you seen him unalive someone before?”

Jack turned and gave her a horrid look. What he can’t take a joke? Lucy thought to herself.

“He just killed two innocent men,” Jack grunted at her as if she were some vile villain.

Oh, he doesn’t know, figures. When does Jack ever know what’s going on?

“Jack,” Malum whispered to him, his hand reaching out and gesturing for him to calm down, “I can use nonlethal poison, they’re unconscious and paralyzed, but they won’t die. I used the same thing in at the coliseum,” and with a gesture to the pirate, “Lucy knows that.”

Jack’s face got all twisted now, pointing back and forth between the pirate and the assassin to make sense of things. “Wait, so… but… how would that even work?” 

Malum raised his sword to show Jack the bottom of his blade’s pommel, and with a quick flick it opened up, revealing that the hilt itself was hollow. Malum flicked something and a vial fell out to show Jack. “I can switch out Siwang’s poison for other things, it doesn’t have to be deadly, actually, it needs replacing.” 

Jack’s hands go to his head. “Bu-but I thought it was known for one slice, one kill?! When did you even switch out the poison?!” 

Malum’s head tilted, which made his already angry-looking mask appear annoyed. “Think for a moment, which would people talk about more? A sword that can use any poison, or one that kills in one strike? It’s just what people rave about more.” 

Lucy couldn’t help but chuckle and shrug. “That’s the magic of Susannan science for you.” 

“There’s no magic,” Malum snapped, strangely curt with her before more calmly saying, “it’s craftsman shift, the pride of Susannan ingenuity.” 

Didn’t take Malum for a devote patriot. Men and their godforsaken pride.

“The Jitari Blades are scary,” Jack said.

“Yes, yes they are. Now show us to the rooms.” 

“Okay.” Jack was slow to move, taking in just how much Malum could do with his blade. Raydorn wasn’t even experimenting with such technology, but Lucy didn’t find it so impressive.

I don’t get why he’s so impressed, what’s more impressive? Putting poison in a blade, she thought with a look towards her own hand, or combining the blood of man with that of a beast? There’s a reason the Kronish Empire is so hard to run from… when they want you.

Lucy shook her head as she followed Jack and Malum up the stairs, the three of them taking it slow to avoid meeting any more guards.

When Jack was about to grab the door handle, she whispered loudly, “Wait!” drawing a side-eye from the two men. “What rooms? Where are we going? I still don’t even know the plan!” 

Jack whispered loudly back, “Malum’s man said that the Aurora Knight might be in the Golden Plateau, and if he is, he’ll probably be staying here. One of the rooms on the top floor may be his.” 

In a normal voice, Malum mutters, “If you’re going to whisper that loudly, you might as well as just talk.”

Lucy’s eye twitched but she managed to ignore the assassin to tell Jack, “There were a lot of fucking ‘ifs’ there, and what if he is here? We jump him? This is the Aurora fucking Knight, you should be more nervous to find him than you are.” 

Jack turned away from her, avoiding her eye. For the love of fuck.

Lucy rolled her eyes before Jack opened his mouth, and told her, “We’re not gonna fight him, I’m gonna talk to him, and find out the truth.” 

Malum took his turn to question Jack. “And if it’s a truth you don’t like?” 

“What truth could I possibly like at this point?” 

Whelp, that’s about the most correct thing he’s said all day, I guess.

“Just help me look,” Jack said as he opened the door, and looked out into the hallway. “We’re clear.”

Malum made being quiet look easy as he followed behind Jack, but Lucy struggled to keep her boots from clacking on the ground. The wood flooring of Shieldhome didn’t help.


Malum and Jack both turned to her, as if asking, What the fuck?

“I’m wearing boots!” she whisper-shouted again. “What the fuck do you want me to do?”

Not wear leather boots on a stealth mission,” Jack whisper-shouted at her.

Without whispering, Malum told them, “I don’t think there are any guards here, I don’t hear any other footsteps. Would they have gone home for the end of the day?”

“Are you sure?” Jack asked him. “That explains why the guards we met felt comfortable going into the wine cellar.”

“Why would this house ever be empty of guards?” Lucy asked next.

“I imagine Raydorn’s supply of fighting men is stretched thin, and Diana would protect herself before protecting her home,” Jack told them.

“That sounds like an easy way to let someone poison your wares,” Malum grumbled to himself, “it makes more sense that she wanted the mansion to be empty.”

“And why would she want that?” Lucy asked. 

Why does this guy always speak in puzzles?

“For a trap.”

Oh right, for dramatic effect.

“But for who is the question,” Malum said to himself.

Lucy didn’t have much to look at in this small room. There was a short and open doorway into the rest of the mansion, but they had yet to walk through. The shadows were protective and inviting like a drug. Luckily, there was a follower of light to walk forward first.

Jack walked slowly into his home, but he wasn’t sneaking around, and neither were Lucy and Malum as they followed him. 

“This is is it?” she asked.

The mansion that housed the Starshields was a wood-floored labyrinth. Everywhere Lucy looked there was some room with some purpose that the room was too big for. The kitchen housed hundreds of knives to cut hundreds of meats for the carnivores; the library held hundreds of books to throw into the fireplace once the family was done with them; there was a bedroom to hide each and every affair a lady or a lord could have with toys to explore; there were corridors and corridors, empty and waiting, but Jack knew how to walk through them all.

Despite all that, Lucy repeated, “This really isn’t all that.”

Malum, in his inability to transverse the mansion, turned back towards Lucy, hand to the wall, using it to hold himself up. “Please tell me you’ve secretly never been one for excess.”

“Hardly,” Lucy mumbles, hands on her hips, looking at every painting on the wall, each worth more than whole towns across Krone, and found nothing impressive about them. “I’m more of a sculpture kind of gal. Infinitely more impressive.”

Jack turned around and stalked up into Lucy’s unmoving face. “This is one of the largest, most expensive homes ever built in Raydorn,” he told her as if she was lucky to know, “you’d have to go to the castles in Raydorn or Cloudtower to find something bigger with more culture in it.”

“Cause it’s all about size right?” Lucy asked with a cock of her head and this wry hint of a smile. “This isn’t all that impressive, back in Krone my family and my family’s friends had several like this… unless there’s more…”

To that challenge, Jack grimaced, having only the hardest of glares for Lucy. In response to her degrading comments about his home, he turned his back to her and walked past an assassin whose head was in his hands.

“You know…” Malum told himself, “I’m just now realizing that half the people I’ve surrounded myself with are a bunch of spoiled rich pricks.”

Lucy’s smile dipped, marking the first worthwhile strike someone had made against her today. “I wasn’t rich for long,” she tried to say, as if it was a defense, “and I wasn’t born with it.”

Malum tried to turn his back on her too as he said, “I’m sure you got used to it.”

“Oh, and what about you?” Lucy challenged him, gaining a look from over his shoulder, “I’ve never seen a peasant hold his head above his ass as high as you do.”

To that, Malum was silent. 

Lucy held up her chin and proceeded to walk past Malum, who only watched her go by. “That’s what I thought, lets get looking.”

Jack wiped his eyes in grief, quietly praying, “Mother of light, help me…” before turning to the pirate and the assassin who had become a bigger headache than they were worth. “If you two are so going to be so much help, then let’s split up and cover more ground. Holler if you think you find the Aurora Knight’s things in one of the bedrooms.”

“How in the name of Gotan, am I supposed to know what’s a bedroom and what’s not in this house?” Lucy questioned. “Is this even a house?!” 

Malum was next to her as he reiterated, “Shieldhome is a mansion, we’ve been over this. We could call it a fancy fortress if you won’t remember what a mansion is.” 

“Oh, you’re talking about buildings now?” Jack said before yelling at them. “Fucking do something!.

Jack broke off from Malum and Lucy as he started to look into the rooms. Lucy stood there with her arms crossed and her brow arched, wondering, What the hell have I gotten into? Why have I let myself become dependent on people with so much baggage? They may be cunning warriors, but that will only work so far.

Maybe it’s time to start considering the pirate life again.

When Malum made a break towards one of the rooms, Lucy arched her brow and followed after him. “You’re not really going to do what that spoiled brat says are you?”

“You speak as if you are not a spoiled brat yourself,” Malum said back as Lucy walked through the door.

Before she even thought to take a gander around the room, she shut the door and muttered in a way that could only be described as nasty. “You know, Mal, hiding your face behind that mask doesn’t hide who you really are. It doesn’t take a genius to smell the hypocrisy dripping from your lips every time you think you can call someone else spoiled.”

Malum stopped looking at the letters and mementos on one of the desks. He looked over his shoulder with that mask of his hiding his eyes from her, keeping his face from giving away his feelings. 

“Too bad you’ll never know for sure.”

Lucy grunted to herself before she looked around the room, one clearly housed by a woman. She highly doubted a noble lord of Raydorn would have so many dresses, mirrors, and makeup. Just as doubtful that a lord would let his son have any either.

“Clearly this isn’t the Aurora Knight’s room unless Jack has been lying about being gay all this time.”

Malum shrugged. “Maybe so, but it’s all so disgusting isn’t it? I have a hard time not drinking it all in. They have so much yet they leave so little for the people outside their gates. How much could the people below in that village possibly have… but you probably wouldn’t care.” 

If he was to push my buttons he’ll have to try harder. I’ve gotten more shit in a day from men back home than he gets in a year of his sanctimonious life as a hired killer.

But all Lucy said was, “You’d be surprised.” 

Malum put down the small mirror he was looking at and turned back around towards the door. “Come on, before Jack catches us.” 

“Yeah, yeah… right behind you.”

As soon as Lucy and Malum walked back into the hallway, they heard a voice say, “Hello Jack,” and turned their eyes towards where Jack stood, halfway through an open door.

When the chips were down, Lucy and Malum both rushed down the hall with their hands on their swords. They each found their place on either side of him, looking over his shoulders to gaze into the darkly lit study. There was only fire bringing light into that room.

“Oh you brought friends,” the woman said, as she sat in a genuine leather chair, dressed in a humongous golden satin robe. Her voice shined far less as she said, “Amazing you still have any friends left from what I hear,” and took a drink from her goblet.

“Want to tell us who this is?” Malum asked as Lucy took a gander of this spotless skinned, raven-haired beauty, with only golden eyeshadow on her face. 

The moment Lucy saw the shadowed eyeballs looking back at her, she knew she could never desire her, no matter how striking the woman was.

“This is the head of the Starshield household, the Lady of Shieldhome,” and he gestured to her before he spoke her seemingly most important title, “my big sister, Diana.”

Before she drank from her goblet again, she told them, “It’s Lady Starshield to all of you.”


“Thank you for help,” Aolani told Andy as they set their fishing boats in a small cavern deep in the plateaus. The Icee tribe keep their fishing boats in these pockets of caverns around the plateaus where the sand was higher than mermaids were willing to go.

“You pay us, it’s no problem,” Andy assured him.
“We not pay you anymore.”

“You let us stay here, that’s better payment than the pearls ever were.”

Aolani’s face grew grave, the cavern’s shade making him appear overly dire. “Don’t say that out loud,” he warned her.

Immediately, she worried about how she might have offended him.

Then Aolani leaned in to tell her, “My partner makes pearls, he’d be much upset,” calming her with a smile.

Andy shook her head, smirking as Aolani nearly gave her a heart attack. “I’ll keep that to myself then.”

Aolani held up a fist to her, which was made only more confusing as his face never showed any aggression. Andy looked down at it in confusion, and Aolani took her hand in his other and brought the back of her forearm to his. 

“Hello,” he said as she made a fist, “and goodbye,” he added as he knocked his knuckles to her.

“Hello, and goodbye,” Andy repeated as she tried to memorize the gesture. Seemed like a handshake with fewer germs spread between them. “Hello and goodbye,” she repeated.

Aolani nodded his head with a bemused smirk, before waving her off and leaving to help with the meat from fish and small mermaids that were being chopped up on the fishing boats.

Andy figured she go and find her oil stone to sharpen her blade, when she heard someone say, “Catch, Andy!

Andy turned around on a dime and saw the rod coming at her. It wasn’t a violent toss where the rod was twirling at her. It was moving at her longways, easy for her to grab, just as the one tossing it had wanted it.

Andelyn hadn’t realized the trap she had fallen for until it was too late. 

Ah,” she gasped as she found herself caught up in a vision for the second time today.

This was more sporadic, with Andy holding Kan Bujian, a weapon with a long, storied, and emotional history. 

It came at her in a blur rather than a steady vision like before. Before, she had a task and intention with the thing she held. Her mind and the item’s memories naturally blended to show her what she needed to know. 

Kan Bujian was far from an average fishing spear. It had memories of battle and multiple masters from all the centuries it has been used since its creation.

Andy’s mind was on a ride, to say the least.

Clang! Clang! Clang!

She couldn’t see from the eyes of Kan Bujian’s wielder at first, and the memory was so unwieldy. In flashes of light, she saw skin so red that it was unnatural, but in the next a flash of sparks, the hands that held the hammer and tongs appeared made of ceramic. The metal the hammer beat upon was not hot but in fact, a liquid which the hammer turned solid. In fact, gas still seemed to stem from it, and that gas appeared to be forced into the liquid metal with the smash of the hammer. 

Andy could see the soft shape taking form as the hands changed with every clang. She saw the head of the ax beginning to take shape, before a woman’s ceramic lips would blow on it, and steal away the light. 

But with the woman’s blow, came a wind that sent Andy’s vision swirling, changing all that she saw around her. In a blur, she heard laughing, coos of awe, and the loud screaming of burning men and women. Blood would splatter across her vision, but she had no face for it to touch.

Andy hit the ground but had no form to strike the ground with.

From what Andy could tell, she was following the movement of Kan Bujian now, much more like she had when she had touched the fishing spear. She saw human hands pick up the ax as the scent of ash and dust filled her nostrils, and looked up to an empty doorway.

Had someone just left? 

By all logic, Andy’s eyes should have been tearing up, with her sense of smell destroyed. The feel of invisible smoke filling up her lungs was unfathomable, a punishment fit for the darkest pits of Hedone, conceived only by a mad man.

The hands looked down at the ax with no axehead to speak of and looked towards this feeble child whose mask had fallen away. In this hut, blanketed in a haze, this child no older than a few years old, was wheezing. Her struggle to breathe was so great that she would suck in her cheeks. 

She’ll suck her skin into her throat at this rate.

Andy knew it, and the man whose eyes she saw through the ax knew it too, so he knelt down, rested the rod Andy knew was an ax next to the girl and placed it in her hands. The edges that ran all throughout it lit up as she held it. Then she took a great breath, and continued to breathe, not as soundly as she should, but better than before. Then the man let go of the ax.

And that’s when Andy learned what it meant to truly breathe fire without the lungs of a dragon.

Then Andy, back in her own body, dropped the ax.

Andy nearly fell down but managed to stay up by bending her knees and trying to balance herself at her core. This wasn’t any kind of calming technique she knew, but it was one that brought a look of recognition on Astrid’s face.

As Andy held her arms tight to her core and breathed in and out, Astrid leaned in close to her face.

“What did you see?” Astrid asked.

And just like that, Andy snapped out of her trance, swinging for Astrid’s face. The ax woman narrowly dodged as Andy stood up like someone with poor resting posture. 

“Why did you do that?!” Andy yelled and grew confused at Astrid’s sullen sigh.

Didn’t get what you wanted you maniacal, floppy, fuck weasel?!

Astrid shook her head and took Andy aback with just how grave her tone of voice was. “I wanted to you figure out what’s happening to you, see how your visions work. I thought maybe we can figure out what’s causing it so it doesn’t drive you mad like my visions almost did to me.” 

Andy was frozen at the sympathy Astrid seemed to have for her. I thought it was just games, with that crazed smile of hers, but maybe… maybe it’s just her face?

Then the one-time medic noticed her fist still raised towards Astrid’s face and brought it down. “No, no, this…  this is not a thing, this is not an ability or visions like yours. No god is trying to send me messages, there’s just fog and terrible feelings, I’m not seeing anything-” 

Astrid interrupted Andy before the brunette could continue rambling on. “Denying it won’t help you, denial is like, literally one of the worst things you can do when the gods start talking to you.” 

“I just said no god is talking to me! Who said anything about the gods?! Leave it alone, Astrid, nothing’s going on with me!” 

Astrid crossed her arms and looked up at Andy with a knowing smile. “Yeah, nothing’s going on with you the same way nothing’s gone on between Jack and the Aurora Knight. You’ll see.” 

Andy’s teeth started to grind against each other. Talking to Astrid wasn’t like talking to a brick wall, so much as Astrid has made Andy feel like one herself.

“Fuck off,” Andy said as she turned around to stalk off. 

“Hey, Andy!” Astrid called to her, but Andy refused to turn around. Then Astrid spoke in the language of her homeland, one Andy’s merchant family was familiar with. “<Your white hair is starting to show.>”

Andy froze and turned around to see Astrid pointing to the top of her own head, circling her finger over her roots. 

“<I’d make a trip to Artis for more hair dye soon,>” Astrid said just before Andy took off running.

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