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In which Taryn mopes a bit more.
TARYN PRESSED HER forehead against the folding doors separating Zephyr’s quarters from Derrain’s and listened to the comforting rumble of the miryhl’s voice.
“A miryhl would be fortunate indeed to be chosen by you,” Zephyr said in that soothing way that managed to bolster as well as comfort.
Taryn smiled, wondering just who the miryhl was talking to, and heard a low, gruff voice reply, “But I am not like other Riders. I will be the first Ihran. It will be a shock.”
Taryn wrinkled her nose and stepped back, not wanting to hear any more. It wasn’t that she disliked the Ihran, but she did resent her. Resented her intrusion into Taryn’s room, which had been small and cramped before but blessedly private, and now was full of the stranger’s presence. Resented her privileged place as a passenger, not crew, able to avoid all chores and lounge around on the deck all day, talking to Zephyr. Resented the kindly way Dakka and the crew cosseted her as if she was something precious, instead of being a stolid little stoic stumping around the ship, banging into walls and tripping up the steps.
Resented her bravery in leaving behind everything she had ever known in the company of complete strangers, aiming to be the first of her people to ever join the Riders.
Taryn had never been that brave and she despised the plain little Ihran for having qualities Taryn had never even known she wanted.
She threw her scrubbing brush in the bucket with the rest of her cleaning supplies and stomped towards the door. Blast the girl and blast this ship. She fumbled with the catch, hating the sting of shame and defeat that warmed her eyes and made it hard to see. Finally stumbling free of the captain’s quarters, she almost tripped over Dakka standing just outside.
Shoulders tensing, not in the mood for another of the woman’s smirks or long list of chores, Taryn braced for a fight, but Dakka wasn’t looking at her. She wasn’t even facing the cabin. Instead the first mate was looking up the staircase to where the captain stood at the front rail of the navigation deck.
“Land ho!” came a cry from high overhead.
“Land ho!” echoed the crew.
“Ha!” Derrain laughed, slamming his hand against the sturdy rail of the navigation deck overhead. “We beat her by a full three days. Prepare for a holiday, everyone, the Countess is paying!”
Whistles and whoops ran around the deck and Dakka even grinned as she called out, “Belay those plans, foolhardy folk, we’re not in Nimbys yet.”
“Give me half a day and I will be,” Zephyr announced, emerging from her room and shaking out her wings, the little Ihran cowering in her shadow.
More whoops met the miryhl’s appearance, especially when she bounded up to the rear deck and stood tall before her captain. “Permission to announce us.”
“Permission granted,” Derrain chuckled, smoothing a hand down the eagle’s neck.
Zephyr nuzzled his cheek before turning and leaping across the deck. Feet lifting, wings tucked, the miryhl dived over the rail into the sleeting winter rain.
“Fly fast, fly high, fly free!” the sailors called, as the eagle spread her enormous wings and swept away ahead of them.
“We’ll be in Nimbys by sunrise!” Captain Derrain called, making his sailors cheer.
“Not if we don’t get back to work,” Dakka pointed out.
Laughing, the crew dutifully did as they were told, while Derrain rested his arms against the rail and peered down at the three women below him. His smile was crooked as he looked from the Ihran to his first mate and then to Taryn.
“Nimbys tomorrow,” he told them, his smile turning a touch rueful when he met Taryn’s eyes.
She looked away and found the Ihran watching her with a solemn frown. She narrowed her eyes. The girl knew nothing about or her life; she had no reason to pity her. Nor did Derrain.
Taryn tossed her head, still not used to the way her light curls bounced, and turned to the one person on the Miryhl Heart who would never offer her so much as an ounce of pity.
“I’ve finished cleaning the captain’s cabin,” she told Dakka.
The first mate’s eyes lit up. “Have you now?” she growled with something close to glee. “Then I guess you’re ready to move next door. Since Zephyr’s gone out, there will be no one to get in your way.” They both turned to eye the miryhl’s empty quarters. A gust of stale air puffed out of the half open door, along with a plume of dust.
Taryn coughed and Dakka slapped her hard on the back. “Best get to work. We’ll be in Nimbys tomorrow.”
And Taryn would finally be free of the woman’s tyranny. She didn’t know what she might be facing next, but surely it had to be better than this. Surely.
“I could -” The gruff little Ihran began to speak, only for Dakka to sweep in and turn her quickly around.
“Come, we’ve reached Imercian now. Aren’t you curious to see it’s craggy shores?”
First mate and passenger walked away, leaving Taryn alone with her cleaning supplies and a thoroughly filthy room. She lifted her chin, reminded herself that she preferred things this way and stepped into the stuffy darkness, ready to get back to work.
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