Avarron woke early in the morning after a restless night, feeling slightly nauseous. The feeling quickly increased in intensity as he slowly got up. He shievered, being wet and cold and filled his lungs with the soft morning breeze. It quickly improved his condition, though it lingered as a softly nagging feeling.
Leaning over the railing, he noticed one of the sailors approach him. The man strolled over to him casually and mimicked the knight’s leaning position. “We’re making good time, m’lord. Thought you’d like t’ know.”
Avarron nodded. “Can you tell me when we’ll arrive in Lainthair?”
“Capt says wind’s gonna calm and so’s we. Else we’d be moored afore dawn. Now’s gonna be aft’ breakfast,” the sailor replied. “Speakin’ o’ which, less not skip it, aye?” He headed for a large pot that was placed in the middle of the ship.
Avarron slowly followed. The breakfast that the sailors were gobbling up barely looked like food to him and watching them, he quickly lost his appetite. He ignored them as much as possible as he headed over to his comrades.
“You look pale,” Asratorix said concerned upon his appearance.
“He’s seasick,” Nariain said irritatedly.
“But we’re not at sea,” Avarron protested.
“Irrelevant. The waves make your stomach churn and you lost your appetite,” She determined and cast him a glance that told him not to argue.
“How do…,” Avarron decided to drop the question halfway.
“Go to the centre of the ship, where it moves less. It will make you feel better,” She commanded him.
He wanted to argue against being treated like a child but had to admit to himself that she was correct. With a grunt of dissatisfaction, he turned around and headed back to his previous spot, watching the landscape pass by.
The feeling that his stomach was spinning around lasted for well over an hour. When it finally passed, he suddenly craved food. He turned around with determination, deciding that not even the banshee would stop him from eating something. Yet before he could take one step, she was standing right in front of him with a knowing smile, holding a bowl of hot soup. “I thought you’d want some about now,” she said kindly.
“Thank you,” he said as he took the bowl, feeling somewhat overwelmed. The soup was hot to the point that he almost burnt his tongue and the previous question rose up again: “How did you know I was getting hungry?”
“I told you before; I can sense it within you, almost as I sense myself,” she explained.
Avarron opened his mouth to apologize, but Nariain immediately continued: “No, don’t apologize. You didn’t make me feel sick.”
“And you can read my mind, apparently,” he said. It was supposed to be a jest, but genuine concern seeped through his voice.
“No, you’re just increadibly predictable,” the Sidhe teased him. “I carry your blood, not your thoughts. Just don’t get stabbed. I don’t think that would be pleasant.”
“Well, aren’t you concerned for my wellbeing?” Avarron sighed.
“Hey, you seemed awfully eager to get yourself hurt back home,” She laughed a moment but then suddenly fell silent.
“What is a Changeling?” The question came out of nowhere and Avarron even caught himself off-guard with it. Nariain frowned at him, so he quickly elaborated: “The Giantess called me a changeling, and the goblins too. I mean, I met this…”
Nariain interrupted him with a hearty laugh. “So the old crone’s still around, then? That’s great.” Then she immediately grew silent and pensive. After a brief moment, she perked up again and said: “That would make so much sense! The sorcery, the blood, your ancestry’s distance from Theryn Donash…,” she said and then grew pensive again.
Taking the silence as opportunity to bring something in, Avarron asked her pleadingly; “Can you please explain to me?” The question had tormented him for days.
The Sidhe gave him a concerned look. “You’re not going to like this,”she said and waited a moment, as if to give him a chance to retract his question before she explained: “Sometimes, Fae steal a human child and replace it with one of their own, disguised as human. This Fae child is called a changeling. Often, they forget their heritage and assume a human identity, until events reveal their unique traits.”
Avarron simply stared at her in silence as the meaning of those words rumbled through his mind like a landslide. “I… Why me?” he finally stuttered the often repeated question.
As he searched for words, for thoughts even, Nariain suddenly embraced him. “I’m sorry,” she whispered into his ear.
Her touch was cold and yet he clung to her, leaning on her small form. He could feel her heartbeat thump rythmically, reminding him of his own. It was a calm, soothing rhythm and slowly the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. And slowly, it started to dawn on him that being a changeling didn’t raise the question. It was the answer.
It was far from the answer that he had been looking for, though. All this time he had vainly tried to be normal, to blend in. Of course it didn’t work when he tried to hide a heritage that simply wasn’t there. Still, it wasn’t the answer he wished it to be.
The path of destiny, lady Feria had called it. Trust in the wisdom of the angels and follow their guidance, he repeated the creed to himself. All his life, he had done so without a second thought, but now he wondered: would the Angels guide a Changeling? And if so, to what destiny? For if the necromancer was not his ancestor, then the prophecy was not his.
Slowly he traced his fingers along the family crest on his shoulder, the one remaining piece of his shattered past. As he touched it, the green gemstone lit up as it had done in the Witchwood and he retracted his hand as if stung. “Devil-spawned thieves,” he cursed at the man that had given it to him.
Suddenly, Nariain pushed him away. Her eyes showed red streaks and she was gasping for air. Avarron found their roles reversed as he was trying to steady her, but she pushed him away again. “Another vision,” she said, panting.
Avarron didn’t dare to ask what she saw, but as soon as she had caught her breath, she told him anyway: “You and I, we’re puppets adrift in a whirlpool, and the strings pull us down to the centre.”
“That’s a lil’ sour for such a fine weather, don’t ye think?” A gruff but cheerful voice behind them said. Avarron recognized the speaker as the sailor that had told him about the weather before. As if he wasn’t interrupting at all: “Don’t wish t’intrude on yer nobleness an’ all, but capt’n said he’d be ‘onoured if the lord ‘n’ lady would join ‘im fer dinner t’night in ‘is cabin.” With just a nod as greeting, he walked away to busy himself with some ropes.
“Well, that’s a coincidence. I do need to talk to the man,” Avarron said, perking up slightly.
“Not a coincidence,” Nariain whispered dourly.