17th of Summer’s End – 59 A.S.
Aedin Halcyon found himself deep in thought as the moon rose above his flagship “Seabird’s Lady”. Its huge sails beating in the choppy winds of an approaching storm. The masts and decks gently creaking and groaning as if begging for rest. The water would be rough this night, he knew. He sat at his desk, leaned back into his chair with his feet up. He shifted his balance to and fro as the ocean rocked his cabin, keeping his chair perched on 2 legs with the steady grace of a feline. It wasn’t the coming storm that had him in thought, however. It was home he thought of; and leaving it.
He remembered first how he was immediately glad of his decision to help his little sister to join this voyage. She seemed to be one of the few officers who were truly pleased to be a part of it. In fact, as soon as the Seabird’s Lady had disappeared over the horizon and Goldharbor was no longer within view, Arilynn had set to work winning the hearts of the crew. Each day she seemed to find a new person to learn about.
He smiled broadly as he thought of his favorite sister. He smiled despite knowing that she had just left his cabin, having cleared out his daily wine ration. He looked upon his goblet, 3 days dry now thanks to her. He honestly didn’t mind the clear head and he enjoyed the clean taste of the purified water the Clerics made. He would be sure to feign umbrage to his sister, of course. What else is it that brothers are for?
Since embarking over a month before, the youngest Halcyon had often came to Aedin’s quarters to drink his wine and tell him about the crew. He knew each member of the Expedition as well as he could as Commander, but he welcomed the insights of his sister. She often saw things that he did not; and he had gotten such insights from her on this day.
Thinking back to Arilynn as a young girl, he admired how she’d grown as both a warrior and a leader. There was absolutely no doubting her diplomatic skills. Making her more dangerous still was the fact that she kept her shortsword even sharper than her tongue. This was quite the feat, as her wit was so quick that the Bards and Skalds were already beginning to tell of her diplomatic feats in ballad. She had been instrumental in bringing the Rigoki into the fold for the massive undertaking that was this expedition. Most did not even know that the food in their belly came from her ability to broker cooperation with the Rigoki.
Aedin fondly reflected upon the child his sister had once been. From a young age she was not like her sisters or the other ladies of the Halcyon court. She had been wild and free, more interested in learning the tales of valor from generations past than the great romances of princesses shipped off to foreign lands, or manners for that matter. She would refuse to wear a dress, and learned to sew like the other young girls strictly so she could alter her clothing into pants and tunics. Often, Aedin would be sent to fetch her; usually finding her in the guardhouse or barracks keeping the men from their duties. Oh, how the men at arms had loved her as their own daughter. She often listened to their tales or convinced them to debate the merits of spear vs. sword, leather vs. heavy plate or magic vs. might so she could listen in. Aedin and his younger brother, Meridio, had often joked that the loyalty of the Halcyon armies belonged to Arilynn, not their father.
As he rocked back and forth to the sway of the ocean, thumbing the thick blonde stubble on his chin, he lost himself in nostalgia again. He remembered when little Ari had asked for help convincing their father to allow her to get an education before she was married off. She reasoned that being a third princess, being educated would make her a more appealing match to a more powerful house than a typical third daughter. Aidin knew this was a delaying tactic, for long had Arilynn spoken out against the practice of political marriages. No one knew of her plan to attend a Martial institute in the Rigoki capital city, though. Those who suspected did not believe that the reclusive and violent Rigoki would accept her into their most prestigious military academy. The Rigoki culture was a far harsher one. A place where men, women and children alike are trained in the ways of warfare. She found a way in, though, as Ari always had when it came to what she wanted. Had he known, he still would not have stopped her. He believed that it was what she was always meant to do; and it was certainly what she wanted.
Yes, having Arilynn aboard would truly be an asset. This is what the great commander, Aedin Halcyon, told everyone else. In truth though, he knew he may be gone a very long time. Having his sister with him was a comfort. As the time to depart grew nearer he began to imagine a life lived without any semblance of the home and family he fought for. Aedin knew that he needed Arilynn far more than she needed him on this journey. He’d not admit to anyone, least of all Arilynn, that this was among his reasoning. This was not a spiteful act or even one of pride; but rather one of protectiveness and love. An enemy discovering his affection for his little sister could put her at unnecessary risk.
Aedin rose from his chair after righting it on the deck. He stepped over to his bed, neatly made by his Steward. As he sat upon its edge, his head resting in his cupped hands, he wondered if he was truly up to such a task. He dreamed of having Arilynn’s confidence, but knew that this task was his to complete.
He had been honored, 3 years ago, to accept command of the Expedition, his greatest honor yet. He knew as 2nd Prince that his elder brother would be King someday. Truth be told, his elder was far better suited for it. Aedin was a fine military commander, and an excellent warrior, but he was no diplomat. For that, he had advisers. Furthermore, Aedin’s younger brother was also a fine warrior. This plan left the 3rd Prince to command the Halcyon armies and Aedin was to get to try his hand at ruling. Everyone got what they wanted; Everyone but Aedin… who wanted more than anything not to be alone.
He had been so relieved when his dear sister, ever seeking adventure, asked him to speak to their father. He’d have missed her most of all, so his joy at hearing her interest was difficult to contain. It was then that he saw his chance to not only aid her cause but his own as well. And so here they were, on the open seas, a storm was brewing and they were headed toward complete uncertainty.
At least they were headed toward it together.