Of Kings and Queens

A pitch have yet to be written, as the plot-planning is not 100% finished, but I couldn't stay away from writing the actual story itself.
This story is about war. And with war comes hate and love, blood and tears, passion and fear.

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14. Dande

Dande, Pontus

dies Mercurii, IV Iulias, 09:24 PM

 

As the sun went down, it took the warmth with it, and the moon brought the cold.

Dande was sitting on a lower deck, surrounded by crates and wares. He had covered himself completely with his cape, but still shook like a leaf.

Owain and Katarina both stood and dressed themselves in winter attires, wherever they had gotten them, when Owain noticed Dande looking their way.

“You should have packed for the cold,” he said as he pulled in the sleeves of a furry shirt.

“I didn't expect it to be this cold,” Dande mumbled just loud enough for them to hear. He was used to the always hot desert, and didn't even have clothes back at the temple that could have shielded him from this freezing atmosphere.

“Oh poor Dande,” Katarina pouted. She was for once completely covered from neck to toe. “Do you need me to warm you up?”

Her hips swung delicately as she walked his way, and it took Dande a few moments to get his gaze, and thoughts, away from her.

“No, it's fine. I'll survive,” he said and hurried to look to his left.

Only seconds after he had turned his head, Owain sat down next to him and Dande felt his body heat instantly. It was so inviting.

Katarina then sat on his right side, and the twins sat as close to Dande as they could.

Although he was still shaking, he felt his muscles relax a tad bit more, as the warmth from them now came from both sides of him.

The sea gently rocked the boat like one giant cradle, and Dande found it difficult to stay awake between the warmth and the calm movement. He was tired, but this would also be their first time sleeping this close, and with those thoughts, he tucked his cape tighter around himself and pulled down in the hood.

Not long after, Katarina was leaning heavily against him and took long and deep breaths.

“You can sleep if you want to, no worries,” Owain said and looked down at Dande.

“Why would I-?” Dande cut himself off when he realized it.

He questioned himself why he was so calm about this. It was his first night out on the waters, and he was caught between two pirates, yet none of that made him nervous.

“Oh it's okay, I prayed to Irroro for a safe journey. I trust in him completely.” Dande gave a small smile and fought to keep his eyes open.

“Is that so?” Owain mumbled and sounded doubtful. “I don't believe it'll work.”

“Hm? What do you mean by that? I believe that Irroro have heard my prayers, how else would you explain the calm sea?” Dande's attention was now on the conversation a hundred percent, and he suddenly didn't feel like sleeping any more.

“Owain,” he looked up at the taller pirate, with sharp eyes. “Are you... a heathen?”

The way Dande had asked him sounded degrading, and his eyes paced around Owain's face, whom simply shrugged.

“Is that a problem? I have never witnessed the the power of any God, Goddess or deity. I have never seen any proof that they would exist,” he shook his head as he spoke.

“No, it's not a problem...” Dande said, although he wasn't entirely convinced of it himself. “I've never met a heathen before.”

Owain couldn't help but to laugh. “Really? Where are you from? Where I come from, none of us believe in Gods and Goddesses.” He couldn't hide his disbelief.

Dande was already uneasy with telling where he comes from, and now he was also sitting this close to a heathen? He could only sigh and his head dropped low.

“I... come from a temple far into the desert of Ala'Dok, so everyone I've ever associated with have been highly religious, like me.”

He could feel Owain's gaze stick to him, and as he awaited a laugh, he was surprised instead by a calm voice.

“Oh, I'm sorry then, I mean no disrespect. Who is it your temple belongs to, then?”

Under his cape, Dande touched his left arm and took a few seconds to answer.

“Goddess Ustrina... She's the Goddess of fire.”

“The Goddess of fire? She's a fierce one, isn't she?” Owain asked and noticed how Dande's gaze fell upon an oil lamp, with a small flame dancing around.

“Goddess Ustrina? Fierce? I guess, depending on how you see it. Have you ever read any books about her?” Dande asked and even though his face was turned towards Owain, his eyes remained on the dancing fire.

“I can't read,” Owain hesitantly said, before reaching for the oil lamp.

“What?” Dande then looked him straight in the eyes. “You can't read?”

Owain gave a sigh and held the oil lamp between them, and it lit them both properly. For once, the shadow didn't fall on Dande's face, he noticed his bald head, black eyes and something on his forehead, but the hood managed to cover most of it up.

“Don't say it like that! I'm a pirate, did you really expect me to be able to read?”

“Well,” Dande said with a small smile, as he kept watching the flame without blinking.

“You're not like what I expected from a pirate... Nothing like the stories.” As Dande said so, he looked up at Owain and his impeccable blue eyes. A few silent seconds passed with them looking into each others eyes, when Dande cleared his throat and stared down at the fire again.

“But I digress. Uh—Ustrina, she's the Goddess of fire. Fire can be so calm and purifying.” Dande pulled out his hand from underneath the cape, and gently caressed the fire, without getting burnt.

Owain sat with his mouth open, as he witnessed Dande playing with fire.

“But it can also be wild and painful.” As he says so, the fire leaves the oil lamp and wraps itself around his hand.

With a swift hand gesture, the flame forms itself into a sphere by the tip of his index finger. With an unnervingly calm smile, he gently moves his hand closer to Owain's face, and the pirate automatically leaned away from the nearing danger. But as he couldn't get any further away, the fire touched his skin and he grunted in pain, and all of his muscles tensed up.

It wasn't the most intense pain he had ever felt, but it was bad enough to leave a scorched mark on his cheekbone.

The moment the flame left his skin, the pain did so as well and he was quick to feel his cheek. The wound was still there, but it had somehow already healed. With widened eyes, Owain glared at Dande, whom still smiled as he placed the fire back on the oil lamp.

Placing the oil lamp on the floor again, Dande yawned. “Goodnight Owain.” And he then leaned against Owain, like Katarina did against himself.

Owain had too many questions to be asked at such a tiring moment.

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