“I—“ she choked, then forced her breathing down so that she could speak. “I fear for your brother. Please, just...” she had closed her eyes, but Devlin couldn’t, he wanted to remember this last look of her. “...don’t get killed.”
                “Little sister—“
                She giggled then, though only a fragment of her usual joy. “You haven’t called me little in many years.”
                “Albeit, little sister, I have fought a war. A horde of Barbarans couldn’t kill me; father’s lectures haven’t killed me. I think I am well equipped to deal with whatever I meet.” She giggled once more and his own joy arose in him. “I love you, Del.” He meant every word with an intense seriousness that rivalled even his father’s. “When I was in battle, when I was away all those years, it was you I thought of. What I would do for you. What I would do without you...” he couldn’t finish either of those sentences. Neither could be comprehended by him, let alone put into words.
                “My mind often thinks of you big brother, though It is always fearing.”
                Finally, with an agony he had not felt for a long time, he let go of her, but kissed her forehead.
                He had not noticed that the crowd had grown silent. Had they been listening, amongst the fields, the castle and the river?  Even the birds had ceased their twittering.
                She drifted backwards to join her father, whose hand she clutched.
                Devlin grabbed the flag, after having slammed it into the dirt, and ascended the gangplank, over the rail and onto the ship. He briefly turned round once more and shouted. “For Dawnrose!” and he waved the flag as another ripple of noise roared upwards into the days sky.
                He fumbled with the knots and untied the ship. Immediately it jerked forwards and he had to steady his feet as The White Knight was swept out by the current. Immediately his oarsmen began working, pushing off and up the river.
                He watched and waved at the people who were watching and waving at him until he moved behind the cliff with the castle. Once there he held his gaze on the tower of light, the castle’s tallest tower that ended in an open room with a blazing fire that seemed to perpetually burn. Finally every last trace of his home vanished and he turned away as they continued into the Wineway river that led northwards to the Heart Lake where the capital lay.
                It was happening again. The last time Devlin had left Dawnrose was when he still had the mind of a boy. He had been more arrogant then, eager to leave. He remembered however on that first night how he had been so upset that he refused to eat or drink and lay thinking in his bedchamber and suddenly the confidence had wavered, replaced by doubt. War had changed him though. Now he left with a clearer head and a truer sense of purpose. Though he was still sad, he knew he could cope with it, he had proven that already. Feeling encouraged, he wrapped the flag around the handle, placed it down and left the port side of the ship and headed for the bow.
                He liked this ship. It was the same ship he had left Dawnrose on years ago. A fine thing with a bow curved around into a point, upwards. She was a broad galley, with sails bearing his House’s insignia. Not only was it the ship he had left on, but the ship he had been taught how to navigate and where the old Sea Captain Vander had taught him much he didn't know about naval tactics and how to fight on and using a ship. It was about five years old, his present for his thirteenth year upon this world.

The End

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