Time to go
Chapter 6: Desperate Times
Location: Captain's Quarters
Theory knocked at Captain Daenelia's door apprehensively, unsure how his message would be relieved. The last time they were in port he'd received word of a family emergency. Not his biological family, whom he was no longer close to, but from an unexpected quarter indeed.
His tutor was dying.
This was a somewhat unusual reason to have to leave, but he'd thought it over, and he'd decided he must. Noam Aachen had probably influenced his education and upbringing more than any other human being alive today, and Theory felt he owed it to the man to be there at his passing. It was the least he could do. Besides, his adopted daughter Kishin had been Theory's first love, even if unnoticed and probably unrequited, and he felt that she would need help in the wake of her only relative's death. He couldn't leave her alone.
It was the only thing to do: request to leave the ship when they reached port again, and hope he would be in time.
"Come in!" Daenelia yelled from under the table. McGinty had done a good job putting it back together, but one of the legs was shorter than the others now, and the captain had just put a book under it to keep it steady. The cabin was a mess, but then, so was the whole ship.
"Captain, can I have a word?' Theory asked when he stepped in the room. He hardly took notice of the state of the room. His mind was preoccupied.
"Yes, Mr. Hill, what can I do for you?" Daenelia asked as she indicated for him to sit on a chair with only one arm rest. She sat down on the sturdier part of the table, willing it to hold.
Theory perched on the chair, failing to notice the state of the armrest, and clenched his fingers in his lap. "I...I'm afraid I have something difficult to say. There has been a family emergency, and I must go to them." He took off his glasses and fiddled with them, trying to find the words he needed. "I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused you. But the people involved, they're more important to me than anyone else. I owe them everything. Um. I'm sorry. I'm rambling a bit." He took a deep breath, and faced the Captain's patient expression. "I must ask to be put off the ship when we reach shore once more."
She raised her eyebrows. "You want to leave the ship already?" A gentle smile on her face showed her good humour as she added: "I thought we had made a proper pirate of you, Mr. Hill." In truth, Daenelia had grown to like the bright young man, who had been helpful with making alchemical bombs, and who helped her find information in the Myposian Library. He was not one of the rough men she was used to on ships like these, but he had held his own anyway. Theory looked forlorn, though, and Daenelia felt her smile falter.
"Nothing too serious, I hope?" she asked softly.
Theory smiled faintly, rather touched by her words despite his worry. "I'm afraid it is. My old tutor is dying. I know that doesn't sound very serious, but he impacted me greatly. And his daughter...I can't leave her alone. She's very special to me." He put his glasses back on and straightened his spine, feeling encouraged both by her kindness and his own words. "I shall never forget this experience, though. Once this is over I may return to the pirating life, perhaps even here if you'll have me. It's quite infectious. Gets into the blood." He rustled into his pocket and pulled out some paper. "Here is that recipe for the mist-bombs I'd mentioned. I'm sure someone here could put them together if you still want them. I've left clear directions."
In fact Theory's idea of clear directions tended to be muddled and leave out serious steps, but since he had taken these directly from the source book, they weren't too bad. Some of the ingredients were a bit exotic, but nothing too difficult to get hold of should they be needed.
As Daenelia took the notes, he added, "Thank you for having me. You and all the crew have taught me a great deal about real life."
It was hard to say goodbye. Daenelia fiddled a bit with the notes, tried to grin and did lot of hum's and well's. "Thank you Mr. Hill," she said as she extended a hand. Now she had a firm smile on her face. "Not farewell, but goodbye, until we meet again." As Theory shook her hand solemnly, she had to add though: "Hopefully not as pirates. It's a hard life, and you would do well finding a nice place to settle down."
She patted him on the arm too. "Don't forget. Out of the sad moments in life, good things can come. You should do what you need to do, and don't shy away. You're a dependable man, Mr. Hill. I am proud you were part of my crew." With that she let go of his hand, turned around and picked up one of the gadgets on the desk that was not broken. "Here," she said as she handed him a decorated compass, "so you will always find home, where ever that is." Yes, as soon as she said it, she knew it sounded horrible. But she was really just stretching the time saying goodbye.
Theory took the compass. "thank you," he said, "I will treasure it always." feeling tears begin to well up behind his eyes. In such a short time he already felt a part of this crew. There was silence for a while as he contemplated this departure.
"Well, good luck," she said at last.
"To yourself as well." Theory reached out and shook her hand firmly. "Until we meet again, Captain. I'd best begin my packing. It may take some time. Lots of books, you know." He drew himself up, stiffened his resolve, and turned to the door. One hand on the handle, he turned around, said, "Best of all good fortune to you and your crew," and threw her a salute and smiled respectfully. Then he was out the door.