Below Decks

“I’m coming.”

“Don’t take that tone with me.”

Crest Exultant headed down, past the trap door the other crewmen only ever whispered about when they were sure they were alone, and approached Rain-After-Storms. There was a certain resignation on his face this time. “I apologize. I’m just tired, that’s all.”

“Oh? Tired of what?” Rain-After-Storms turned her head, letting every branch-like finger clatter along her throne as she leaned forward. “Of our arrangement?”

“No, nothing like that. I’m tired of waiting. I don’t know whether or not to trust the Solars that crossed my path or not. A promise was made and I have no idea if they’re going to come through.”

And just like that, Rain-After-Storms stopped caring. “Then allow me to feed, if you would.”

Crest Exultant started to step forward when the bulkheads rattled.

Rain-After-Storms quirked an eyebrow. “Are we under attack? You’d better go and check.”

The Dragon-Blooded hesitated for a moment but shook his head. “The ship can’t fight if it can’t fly. And we need you to fly it.”

“You’re allowed to go and check first. I’m not cruel.”

“I know better. Feed, as per our arrangement, and stop trying to trick me. It won’t work.”

A long sigh. “It will one day, Tepet Crest Exultant. It will. Even if that’s not today.”

The bulkheads rattled again. The crew started to bark orders at each other; some of those orders weren’t even panicked shouts. Rain-After-Storms murmured something about losing altitude, but Crest Exultant didn’t hear.

Keep your word. Hold true to the bargain. See him again. The fight would have to wait—even if it was one he had no chance of winning.

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