The scale of the harbour itself is awe-inspiring, I’ll admit that. I didn’t think it would be up to that much - seen one big city, seen them all, right? But it isn’t the city itself that renders me speechless. Rather, it’s a young boy seated near the pier. The boy is around twelve, fourteen at a stretch. His red hair sticks out at odd angles, and his chin is jutted in defiance at the ocean. He hasn’t noticed us. I can’t say I’m surprised. In such a bustling port, travellers are common. This is one of the Guild’s main centres of activity. That is, after all, why we’re here.
The boy turns, sees us, and I observe his aura from a new angle entirely. The dissipated edges are harsh in colour, like a firecracker the second after it explodes. He looks at the ground. I have the urge to talk to him, but I know it would be useless. His kind won’t listen to anyone wearing this crest, let alone trust their words.
From the corner of my eye, I notice a smile form on Ranth’s face. He nudges me with his elbow. “Found something interesting?” His words cause Eresten, the third of our number, to look in the same direction. I squint, trying to see the harbour from their point of view. Aside from his aura, there is nothing unusual about the boy. Amongst the other youths milling around, he is well hidden. Part of me is loathe to upset his secret, least of all to Ranth; the other part desperate to tell. Before I can decide, Ranth has pinpointed my curiosity in the crowd. “The red-haired boy?”
I nod, watching as he sizes the young boy up. While he may not be able to see anything immediately unusual about the boy, he can tell in other ways. His gaze flickers and lingers on my expression. His eyebrows raise slightly. I nod again. The boy is staring straight back at us now, and I turn away, aware of the rudeness of continuing. Eresten is looking at Ranth, eyebrows furrowed as though accusing him of knowing more than her. He simply shrugs and gestures towards me. I can’t help but sneak another glance at the boy before answering their unspoken questions. “He’s like u-- me,” I explain, catching myself at the sight of Ranth’s expression.
If Eresten is surprised by this, she does not show it. Perhaps she’s too used to me being around. “Half or whole?”
Ranth snorts at this. “He’s not that bloody small.” Even so, he looks toward me for affirmation. “Half and half like you, isn’t that right?”
“…Yeah.” The boy catches sight of me still looking at him. He glowers at us before attempting to lose himself in the crowd.
“Should we go after him?” I look around in surprise to find Eresten staring at me. “What? You want to go after him, right? Besides, we could use another pixie on the team.” She nudges me with her elbow and grins at the two of us. I smile back, though Ranth can hardly keep a calm face.
“Halfbreeds are rare for a reason,” he reminds her, his voice soft against the noise of the crowds. “They and the Guild are enemies. Even if you want to team up, I doubt he’ll want to do the same.” He shoots her a weary glance. “Besides, we’re here on more important matters.”
Eresten pouts. “Ranth, must you be such a pessimist? Laurent’s with us, isn’t he? Exactly!” She beams at him, continuing before he has a chance to interrupt. I know he would if given the chance. “So it’s worth a try. Another pixie on the team would be incredibly useful.” Her eyes widen. “Oooh, I wonder what powers he might have! Can you tell that from his aura, Laurent?”
I shake my head. I think I can, actually, but only because it’s similar to one that I’ve seen before. I can’t tell her without explaining how I know, or she’ll expect me to know in the future, too. She shrugs off my answer anyway. “Maybe he’s a shapeshifter! Halfbreeds can inherit that too, right?”
Yeah. Lucky guess, too. “I wouldn’t know.” I laugh a little, running a hand through my hair.
“Oh look,” Ranth says in a monotone. “Pixie boy’s run off into the crowds.” I turn. He’s right - the boy is nowhere to be seen. “Shame, that.”
“Ranth, you don’t sound sorry at all,” Eresten says, scowling. He merely shrugs. “Fine, then, have it your way.”
“I intend to.” He fakes a yawn. “Can we get moving now? We’re going to be late.”
Eresten watches him for a moment before relenting. “Okay, but if we meet the boy again, you have to talk to him. Nicely.” She shoots him a smile before heading off towards the town centre, not bothering to wait for the two of us.
Ranth turns to me, face fixed in confusion. “We’re going to meet that pixie boy again, aren’t we?”
I can’t help but laugh at him. “Ranth, you just picked a bet with a Seer. What do you think?”
He kicks hard at the ground, spitting gravel all over the place. “Dammit.”
“Why, don’t you want to say hello?”
“Stow it, Laur…Quit teasing. You know I -- Nngh.” He breaks off, too frustrated to finish his sentence, and runs to catch up with Eresten. I grin before following.