- March 19, 2023
Raydorn: The War in the Black (Chapter 41)
“The foreboding, terrible, downright-sinister feeling that comes when someone’s annoying you… it never goes away. Sorry to tell you.”
Henry Lockley, the Bard of the Song, 447 A.C.A.
While they may not have enjoyed the idea of going with Jack to Cloudtower, making Andy describe her vision convinced them. Malum and Astrid spent hours combing through the details with her just to be sure.
As Malum had said, “If we’re going to go on another bullshit mission again, we’d better know for sure it won’t be a waste of time.”
Then with a finger pointed at Astrid and Malum, Andy said, “No more adopting orphans.”
Astrid thought nothing of it and just laughed, missing the way Andy held her glare toward Malum.
When they told the others, their reactions were mixed.
They know something, these fucking bastards know something and aren’t telling me, Jack thought to himself as he helped the crew of Lucy’s smallest ship — the S.S. Thassus — load up on the supplies they would need for the trip. Despite the smaller crew size, they would need more supplies since they wouldn’t be docking in the port for fear of being investigated, but would hang off the coast and wait for Jack to come back.
As Jack moved sacks of rice to serve as the crew’s rations, his face grew red, but everyone assumed it was from the exercise. If these bastards are going to get in my way, I’ll blow them away.
As he realized his own rhyme, he groaned out of embarrassment.
As he worked, he looked over at the four would-be leaders colluding together, talking about him no doubt. Andy, Malum, and Astrid continued to talk to Quintus, trying to help him make sense of why they were going with Jack without telling him why they were going with him.
The breaker of oaths deserves the lies he gets.
When Malum and Astrid break away, leaving Andy to talk to Quintus herself, Jack went back to work, pretending to not notice them. He heard them get on board as he pretended to ready rope. Then he turned around.
“Valhall!” Jack cursed when he turned into Malum.
“You’re really trying to scare people again, aren’t you?” Astrid asked Malum as she crossed her arms.
Malum ignored her and told Jack, “You can give us the cold shoulder all you want, just stop ruining the crew’s knot work, you clearly have no idea what you’re doing.”
Jack looked at the rope in his hands and wanted to wring Malum’s neck with it. Nobody liked it when an asshole said something correct.
The ex-Stormguard threw the rope to the ground and asked Malum, “Well, what did you expect? You-”
“I expect you not to trust me, or Astrid, or Andy, we told you ‘no,’ loudly, and changed our minds in a few hours for reasons that have very little to do with you,” Malum cut him off. Then he bent down so his mask was right in Jack’s face. “You have no reason to trust us, to be anything less than spiteful, or to work with us at any point, we’re not idiots.
“But we do expect you to not impede the ship’s ability to sail because you can’t help but be an idiot.”
Astrid’s eyes just glance back and forth between them with her lips sucked into her mouth. She waited for Jack to respond, and when he didn’t, she waited for Malum to say something.
Malum only moved out of Jack’s face before the ex-Stormguard’s fists started swinging.
“So are you two done?” Astrid asked, still glancing between them until they turned their gazes her way. “You are? Good, yeah, I’m just coming along because House Skyhold tames griffins, something I did not know before — which you should have mentioned by the way — and Valkarion is Lapis’s cousin, yada, yada, yada. He guards Lapis’s corpse, I want to find it, plus we had that vision and everything,” then Astrid started flapping her arms, “yada, yada, yada, you get it, new information changed my mind.”
Jack’s jaw dropped just a bit at Astrid’s honesty. This is… numbingly refreshing.
“Um, thank you for your honest,” Jack muttered, his mind drawing a blank in the wake of Astrid once again.
Were… were griffins really all I needed to tell her? She has to be lying, right?
But this lie, it’s so believable, and in line with everything she’s about… I don’t get her deal.
Astrid didn’t wait for Jack to find something to say and started walking away, leaving the two men in her wake.
When it was just the two of them, Jack was able to find things to say again.
“Are you going to explain yourself now too?” Jack asked.
“I thought I did,” Malum said, while he faced Astrid’s back.
It was when Jack rolled his eyes that Malum’s mask snapped to the ex-Stormguard, and burned holes into his head.
“Okay, so you don’t believe me, big whoop,” Malum said with a shrug of his shoulders. The second Jack attempted to make eye contact, Malum told him, “Get the fuck over yourself, you have other people to watch your back, and I have better things to do…”
Before Jack could respond, Malum was storming off in a manner that left Jack speechless. The assassin was muttering under his breath in a way that allowed the ship to carry his words in all directions.
“He’s lucky I don’t cut him at his Tedius tendons for making us leave now. Fucking fuck, I just got back from Susanna…”
The sails were sucked out of Jack’s winds pretty fast, finding himself less rageful over his new companions. But there still remained one who had yet to explain herself.
Jack looked out over the side of the ship, towards the end of the dock where Andy and Quintus still argued, and couldn’t help but wonder, “What excuse is she going to pull out of her ass?”
“I still don’t like it,” Quintus told her.
“I don’t either,” Andy told him.
“This vision of yours sounds so far-fetched, and how did it even appear to you?” he asked as he rubbed his jaw.
“Oh, when I touch things I get their memories,” she said with a shrug. She gestured behind her, adding, “It’s been happening for a while, I just told you.”
“And why was it that you didn’t say anything until now? You’ve been suffering alone, and for what?”
As soon as Quintus came within arm’s distance with his huggable arms, Andy up and flicked him in the head. “Because my shit is on me, I don’t need you to worry that pretty little bald head of yours. You worry about us enough.”
“But not wrong,” Andy said, smirking as she tilted her head, giving him a mischievous look. “Jack’s pissed at you because you made promises you couldn’t keep, and then rubbed up against that pirate captain who wants to rub up against you.”
“Andy,” Quintus half-gasped, half-growled.
“Seriously, it’s for the best,” she said, ignoring his dismay, “having you reject his plight will knock some sense into Jack’s stupid thick head, and you’re just about the only person who Lucy would talk to,” with a knowing stare in his direction, “but don’t overstep.”
“I might be too tall not to,” Quintus warned her.
“Then shimmy along, I have leads on the Aurora Knight, the god of griffins, and fuck all to investigate, and with my luck, I’ll leave with only more questions or nothing at all!”Andy threw her arms up in the air as she began to leave Quintus at the edge of the dock. “God, I don’t even know where to look at this fucking place!”
He sighed and called to her, “You know you just jinxed it, right?!”
She flipped him off.
We’ve wasted enough time, it’s time to go waste time somewhere else, where I will learn nothing, and everyone around me will be scheming their way ahead. That is the way of things for me.
As Andy was the last one to come aboard, she found Jack waiting for her at the top of the plank.
That made her stomp her way up.
“What were you two-”
As the words came out of Jack’s mouth, Andy’s finger swung up and shushed him. “No, nada, not gonna happen,” she told him, before flicking him in the head.
He ended up smacking himself as he went to rub his forehead. “What was that for?!”
As he rubbed his forehead, still blinking away the pain, Andy stood up and got in his face. “What fucking business is it of yours when I talk to anyone?” She raised her pointer finger, and in front of the crew, started jabbing him in the chest as she talked. “Make no mistake, I’m not here because I think I’ll actually find something out about Harry or the witch who betrayed us or anything else that happened to us. I’m here, more than anything, to make sure you don’t screw things up.”
Jack’s shoulder scrunched up as he was at a loss for words. To say he was insulted would be putting it mildly. “Do you really think I’m that stupid?”
Andy answered without hesitation. “Yes, I’ve known you since we were kids, I know you can be that stupid, especially when it’s…” Andy’s mouth twisted up as she held back her last few words, words Jack leaned ear-first to hear.
“When it’s what, Andelyn Stella?”
She looked up towards the sky as if some god could strike her down then and there, but the lightning bolt never came. With a heavy sigh, she admitted, “For something as special as love, you giant dopey loser.”
“You… you get it.” A small smile was forming on Jack’s face, but it only made Andy groan and rolled her eyes even harder.
“It’s not complicated to understand.”
Jack threw his hands up around his head. “I don’t get you, Andy. You were my friend, like, since we were kids. And then you hated me because of my family, and then you hated me because of me, but at every turn, you still help me. What the fuck is that?”
Andy crossed her arms as she refused to look him in the eye. “Just because I hate you and your house, doesn’t mean I want anything bad to happen to you. I feel about you the same way I do cats and children.” The shrug she gave did not faze Jack. “They annoy me like you, make me feel sick at the sight of them, driving me to rage with how privileged they are to be so useless… but I don’t want anything bad to happen to them… or you, I guess. I have some exceptions for you.”
Jack’s mouth was open agape at everything Andy just said. “That may just be the most fucked up way to say you don’t actually hate me.”
Andy pursed her lips and shook her head. “Not what I said, at all.”
As she proceeded to walk past him, Jack told her, “That’s what you meant.”
The crew was preparing to disembark as Andy loudly told Jack, “Fuck off, as if you know me.” Jack threw his hands up in the air and yelled, “Literally just re-established that we’re childhood friends! But okay, be that way!”