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The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-One: “Hey-fah for the Sea!”
Previously: Gina was given a sword with which to smite her “true enemy.”
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As they stepped onto the main road leading into Kellansend, Gina looked up at the paint splatter of evening stars and said, “I wonder if everything’s OK at home.”
“We’ve been in bed for forty-five minutes.”
“If we were home, I mean. It would have been like forty-five minutes ago that we said good night to Momandad.”
“Holy…” When Gina gestured, she felt the harness pull with the movement. She’d gotten used to it surprisingly quickly, which was fortunate because it couldn’t be removed. She knew because she’d tried—fourteen times. Each time she’d slipped the leather suspenders off her shoulders and reached to undo the front buckle the suspenders had simply slid back into place. It didn’t feel like magic; it felt like she was trying to remove a part of her body.
Two spiffwits, sleepy from dancing and gorging on fliffers, were just settling into naps on either side of their Screaming namesake, as Gina and Zack tip-toed past. There were no naims at the inn, but otherwise it felt like the night they’d first arrived: half a dozen villagers were alternating mouthfuls of steamy chowder and bread sozzled in burbeedup, and eight or nine fisher folk, fresh from their boats, were feasting on fliffers, sea greens, and freckled SurKellish cheese.
Gina spotted Maerith and Shelcor at a seaside window. She was about to call to them, when someone started pushing against her back. “Zack, cool it!” Then she noticed her brother thirty feet away, pouring himself a mugful of meeth. Who was pushing her? She whirled around; there was no one there. She felt a tugging from behind and was about to turn again when a long-fingered hand gripped her shoulder.
“It would be easier if yer walked frontways,” Shelcor said with a grin.
“Lee sister!” cried Maerith, throwing her arms around Gina.
Zack joined them, meeth in hand. Only now did it occur to him that he had no money. He might have paid with sour jewels if he hadn’t left them, along with his backpack, in Naimian.
Shelcor instructed the innkeeper to add Zack and Gina’s bill to his own.
“No, you’ve already done so much for us…” Gina began.
“Yer are family,” Maerith said, smiling.
The moment she arrived at the table, Gina felt herself physically drawn toward the ocean, so she sat in the chair nearest the window.
“Have yer a special fondness for the sea, lass?” Shelcor asked.
“It does!” said Zack as he pulled Gina’s sword from its sheath and dropped it onto the table. It slid toward the window as if drawn by an invisible magnet, and clanged against the wall.
Gina glared at Zack.
Zack glared backed at her.
Shelcor and Maerith looked back and forth between the two.
“We gotta trust someone,” said Zack.
Gina twisted her mouth. He’s right. If not Maerith and Shelcor, who? She leaned in and whispered,
“We came to find the Revealer. It’s the first of the Thirteen Objects.”
The fisher folk nodded. Their faces registered gravity, but not surprise.
“We’d netted such a thought,” said Maerith.
Thoughts: Money, knowledge, allies: all are useful on a quest. But if you can only choose one, choose allies.
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