The most awkward moment in Desiree's life before that morning had been when her birth parents took her to the debate dome on her twenty-fifth birthday.
They had walked in, introduced her, and then she had tried her hand at amateur debate against another new arrival, Lucas, who had been there three years before her. He had been virtually as new as she was, and the debate had ended in a draw because they were taking too long.
Desiree would have walked out with her parents feeling ashamed if Cadence had not stopped her and said that she had potential. And for some reason, her parents had stopped to listen. This resulted in her career as a philosopher. Desiree found out later that Cadence was of the first generation.
But Desiree did not see how her present circumstances could turn into anything good.
When she arrived, Nahum and Dimitra were already present, as was the fourth passenger, Joseph, who was bragging about the adventures he would have. He had read in a history book that immortals were once revered as gods. He wondered if people would revere him as well. After all, not one member of the immortal race was remotely ugly.
Desiree was a second away from unleashing her already renowned tongue and decimating Joseph's ego when Seth had showed up, glaring at all of them, and ordered them to hike down to a beach and onto his boat. And so, they walked down to the beach. There they found a small boat with a mast. It was big enough to fit six people sitting, plus Seth in the back to manage the rudder and sail.
Dimitra immediately took a seat beside Nahum and put her bag down on the open seat, leaving Desiree on the other side with Joseph.
"Don't lean over the edges, don't touch the sail, and do not stand up unless told otherwise." Seth ordered them, his deep voice gruffer than usual. "Understood?"
The four passengers nodded. Seth cast the ship off seamlessly.
Nahum and Dimitra chatted in a manner so friendly that Dimitra seemed to change into a person who was almost pleasant. As she began to smile, Desiree wondered why Dimitra was so closed off. What was she looking for on the continent?
Joseph, on the other hand, wanted to find more things to brag about besides future godhood.
"So, why did you come, Desiree?" he asked.
"Because I was invited." Desiree was in no mood to talk.
"Then we have something in common. I was invited by Dimitra." Joseph smiled. "She tries so hard, you know."
"I don't know what you mean." Desiree glanced at Dimitra, then back at Joseph.
"This, the continent. It's all just a show." Joseph leaned closer and began to whisper. "She's here looking into the truth behind some old story she heard growing up about how our race came to be. She says that Aaron and the others lied about the history of our people."
"And how did you react to this claim?"
"I humored her, of course, but eventually it got out that I didn't believe her. Now, Dimitra's more determined than ever to prove herself. That's why she came to the continent. She's looking for answers. I think she just wants to prove herself and make me admit that I was wrong for not believing her." Joseph said this with disapproval, but Desiree could tell that there was more to it.
"Then, why are you on this boat?" Desiree locked her eyes on Joseph's, hoping to intimidate him into silence. "If you don't believe her, why are you the one following her?"
"No one said anything about following. She invited me here, and I accepted the offer. But if she's wrong, she has to go back home without another mention of conspiracy." Joseph didn't flinch under Desiree's gaze, but he still kept his voice low as he said, "Dimitra is obsessed me, and even more obsessed with proving me wrong on this. That's just how it is. I didn't plan for it. I simply came because I was curious to see how far this obsession takes her."
"And to pick up the pieces when she fails so that you can feed this obsession she has with you, no doubt." Desiree muttered. "Is there any other reason you came?"
This question brought on an arrogant smirk from Joseph. "Well, I am curious to see how mortals would react to immortals walking among them."
"Seth, how long will it be until we land?" Desiree asked loudly, cutting all conversation short.