The Vaan general. I glanced at Lyra, whose face was filled with hatred. Any normal vaan was bad enough for her, but someone directly associated with war must be bringing back memories of her father. It was lucky for whichever vaan had killed her father that she didn't know who he/she was. I put a restraining, calming hand on Lyra's arm briefly, then moved forward.
"Jack? How do you know the general?" My tone clearly asked, can he be trusted?
"We go way back."
"Well how do we know we can trust him?" Destran asked.
"Here your majesty. A letter from your father. He hired me." Valak handed over a piece of parchment with the royal seal. Destran read it through quickly.
"My father? Why would he hire you?"
"It says in the letter I believe. He thought you needed someone with more experience, and knowledge of the land to show you through here."
Destran nodded; apparently the signature was his fathers.
"Come on!" Jack said, appearing to lose interest. "Come on, he said there's food!"
"He said supplies." I put in.
"Food is part of supplies Young Yara you stupid wallop!" He skipped away as I flicked out my blade, but not fast enough, as Destran's sword managed to clip his side. "Ooooh-ow! Sorry Prince Prick, did I insult your shag buddy? Oh wait, before you say anything, I know you haven't done that yet. I know about your... man problems...if you know what I mean. I just want you to know that I have never had a problem KEEPING AN ERECTION! NOR HAS ANYONE ELSE HERE!!! EXCEPT FOR YOU RIGHT PRINCE PRICK?! BUT DON'T WORRY! Your secret is safe with me."
I felt that inexplicable hatred for Jack as he once again insulted my virtue. I actually quite liked him, and I felt that he was not letting us in because whatever he hid behind his jokey front was something that had seriously affected him. But whenever he insulted my virtue, he crossed a line. As these thoughts passed through my head, I felt my eyes turn black, I felt that primal urge to surge towards Jack with all the power of the ocean, to crush him in waves of hatred and disgust. And then, as usual, I calmed myself. I had not yet attacked Jack with my full power, and I doubted I would. It wasn't in me to do so. But he was pushing me pretty close. And he'd clearly noticed.
"Ooooh I think Yara's getting annoyed. See Prince Prick? You need to sort out your shapeless limp dick, else she is never going to be pleased. And by pleased I mean, SEXUALLY PLEASED!" Jack started thrusting in my direction.
Through my anger, I was surprised to see a rather sadistic smile slicing through Valak's face. He was watching the whole scene with an analytic eye.
"And just in case you're wondering how I know this." Jack continued, getting closer and closer to me, "It's because she's been so sexually deprived she's even started touching herself when she thinks we're all asleep."
I screamed at this outright lie and threw myself at him. We tumbled on to the floor and I stabbed him three times while he was still laughing, until he threw me off. But I landed on my feet and threw myself at him again, tearing at him in every way possible. He shouted through my attack:
"No Yara, stop trying to take off my clothes! Prince Prick will be jealous!"
With that I pushed him in to the water and jumped in myself. I heard another splash behind me and saw Lyra, black eyed, had also followed. She was as outraged at the whole thing as I was. Jack was still thrusting as he sank, clearly enjoying himself. I dragged him down, down, down to the bottom of the water. Faintly, I heard another splash from above, but my face was too filled with Jack's to look round. And then, as he lost oxygen and his face faded to that of a dead person, I felt a pain through my chest, a heart wrenching, guilty pain. And I remembered.
Pale, swollen faces, all floating around me, dead. Bodies washed up on rocks, blood trailing in to the water, making it unpure, killing it. A man washed in to me, and I felt his cold limp form, broken and lifeless, against the skin the air had given me. And I was appalled. That I had been part... that this was what I...
I grasped Jack's arm and pulled him towards the surface. I saw Lyra following me, her eyes still black but curious, and Destran ahead of me, who seemed to be swimming towards me. He grabbed Jack's other arm and helped me pull him up through the surface of the water and on to the bank. Brena helped pull him out and I sat on the edge of the bank, staring at his face until he choked out the water and then breathed in. His eyes opened and he looked at me.
"Nice try, not good enough Young Yara." He grinned, jumping to his feet. But I was in no mood for that any more. Destran looked worried as I sat, staring at nothing in particular.
"Lyra. What's wrong with her?"
"Nothing. Well nothing that I know. Nothing happened down there."
"Well I'd hardly say nothing. I mean, if I was Prince Prick or Brena, I'd be dead by now." Jack laughed, and suddenly all those faces came back to me and a sob ripped through my body.
"Yara!" Destran cried and gripped my shoulders. "What is it?"
I shook my head and ignored him, but the bodies filled my mind, the lifeless faces, the floating photograph of one of their children... I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands, trying to stop the images from surfacing over and over, but it only made it worse so I opened my eyes and let the light back in.
"Yara?" Lyra asked, as I went silent and still once more. I made sure I wasn't going to sob again, dried my eyes and tried to keep my face normal as I looked up.
"Come on." My voice was hoarse and I cleared my throat to sort it out. "Let's go get those supplies."
I stood and grabbed my cloak from the floor, then gestured for Valak to lead the way. He gave me an analysing look that seemed to lead to no conclusion, as though he were confused about what had just happened as much as anyone else. Which I suppose he was.
As Valak slouched away in front, I kept my eyes ahead on his figure, following him quietly. I didn't speak another word, although I could hear everyone behind discussing what had just happened. No one seemed to dare come over to me. And I wasn't surprised. I was a monster.
We entered a settlement shortly after, and it was a strange place. Small wooden buildings were sheltered by the marsh trees, and covered in moss and slime. Wooden structures with Vaan on them circled the area, and seemed to make the whole thing in to some form of wooden fort. Vaan were running around, mostly in some form of armour, and all with weapons. There were even some Vaan children playing with real daggers. With normal children that would seem awful, and yet with these gruesome looking children, it rather seemed normal. I pulled down my hood when I realised that the Vaan could see me under it anyway, being shorter than me. They were all staring, although most stares were rather too pleased for my liking. They were looking at me like I was some form of pet, or whore up for the taking. My skin crawled; an unpleasant sensation I had not really experienced before.
"Welcome to the Vaan settlement of Varsgah water witch." Valak said to me. I was so put off and uncomfortable I didn't even correct him on calling me water witch. I heard Destran's voice behind me.
"Where can we get supplies?"
"And food!" Jack chorused.
"Over there." Valak's grimacing point and gravelly voice reminded me of one of the old sea casters that lived off the Isle of Prayer. He had been known to eat the bones of sailors that had been drowned out there. This reminded me a little too much of Valak to be comfortable with him.
He was pointing at one of the small buildings that had a bustling business by the looks of things. Vaan were jostling in and out of the hut with arm fulls of food, and some were fighting over money.
"Be sure to bargain." Valak chuckled, and then led the way inside.