They knew where Aya’s dad was.
Or, at least, they knew where he had been heading. There was a very good chance that he was still there. In fact, given that he’d only left a week and a half prior, there was even a chance they’d arrive at his destination before he did. As soon as the ship was repaired.
In spite of their preparations, the storm that blew through was one of the most intense that anyone at Fangwen Shyn had ever experienced.
The great sea gates for which the hideout was named would need to be repaired, the constant wind and the sheer force of the sea had unhinged them.
It had already been windy and rainy in the cove where the hideout was located, enough to cause light damage. In the caves near the top of the cliffs they were mostly insulated from it, but Aya could see the pelting rain and the effects of the wind when she peered through cracks outside.
Once the gates broke, however, the entire fury of the storm was unleashed.
The water levels in the cove rose dramatically and the wind drove in waves of incredible height. The waves smashed up much of the docks and displaced whole buildings. The wind added to the damage, and helped to destroy structures that managed to sit above the level of the water.
At least half of the ships were totaled, smashing into one another once the docks they were moored to had been washed away. Of the remaining half, not a single one was spared from damage. However, about a dozen of the surviving ships had taken serious damage, and the Funky Bird was one of them.
The Limp Wing might be a better name for it now, Aya thought as she watched the crew repairing it from the shore. Already crews were rebuilding the docks and repairing the ships that could be salvaged. The ships that hadn’t survived were being torn down to help replace the docks. The gate sat busted open and half sunk in the water. There were plans to repair it as well, but it seemed getting the docks up and some semblance of the structures that helped operate the cove were the primary priority.
Everyone was needed to help in the repair efforts, but Aya was resting during her break with Fawna. The two were laughing, making up names for some of the more colorful pirates and rogues of the cove.
“That one is Soshilly Shin- means Flyboy.” Fawna said with a chuckle, Aya joined in.
“Why is he called that?”
“Circus acrobat at one time. He likes to jump from the rigging back and forth. Sometimes with a rope, sometimes without.”
Aya noticed he had the long, gangly build of someone who was used to swinging from ropes, climbing, and jumping.
She looked over to a brawnier fellow. He wasn’t tall, for a man, perhaps a little bit shorter than Aya, but he was twice as wide, with thick, python arms.
“He got a name?” Aya asked, gesturing to the man she was looking at.
Fawna looked at the man for a few moments, furrowed her brow, then answered, “Tuan Sho.”
“Nah, haven’t thought of one for him yet.” She twirled her hair around her finger and pursed her lips as thought about it.
“What about Trunk?” Aya suggested, swinging an arm across her lap. “I mean, he’s as big around and solid as one.”
Fawna giggled, she squinted her eyes and considered the name before nodding, “Trunk fits.”
“I just wish I knew how much longer it’s going to take to fix the ship.” Aya said, switching her gaze to the Funky Bird.
The ship was heavily damaged when they first found it, but already they had patched up the holes and it was almost ship shape. However, if there was even the slightest thing wrong with it, they could all die if even a little detail was missed. Which accounted for the painstaking efforts of the crew and the shipwrights before they would allow it to leave.
“Ready to leave me behind already?” Fawna asked. She put on a perfect expression of hurt, complete with an adorable pout.
“I definitely want to come back here at some point.” Aya responded, smiling, and wrapping her new friend up in a hug. “I want to see the City too, Akeu. Are you… able… to go there?”
Aya wasn’t sure whether or not there was a price on Fawna’s head, but there was often a reason someone lived or worked out of a hideout rather than in the city underworld itself. After all, there was a reason they were searching for her dad in these places, though the Church was searching for him, rather than local authorities.
In the end it took two more days before the ship was properly repaired, inspected, and declared fit for sailing and flight.
They had brought back the cargo and other items to the ship while it was being repaired, so setting out once it was cleared was easy enough. By that time the gates had been taken down too, for repair, so they left through an open archway and, once out into the bay, took off into the air once more.
Aya looked out from the ship’s deck as much as she could as they crossed the desert, half-hoping she would see her father with the caravan below.
“Given our delay, more likely than not, he’s already at his destination. I’m sure we’ll find him there.” Jesay said as she walked up. “We’re nearly there though.”
Aya did try to cheer up, but her anxiety was so overwhelming that it was paralyzing. Not physically, though it did feel a bit like that too, but emotionally. She didn’t know what to feel, how to respond, there was too much going on for her to process it properly.
“Thank you,” was at the very least something she could say.
The rest of the day over the desert was quiet. Or, at least, as quiet as it could be on a ship. The crew called out to one another as needed to get information up or down the ship, there was a constant breeze on deck due to the speed the ship traveled at. In fact, aside from active crew, most people preferred their cabins or the hold.
But Aya didn’t mind the stiff winds or the cold, she was amazed at watching the world pass by below. She was constantly reminded of her girlhood dream of working on one. When she watched the sailors, she could see that it was hard work. Demanding work. It was definitely a lot more than she could have dreamed, but Aya thought the work was worth it, for all of this. For the adventure that was human flight.
Aya was uncertain about her feelings for her father. As they drew nearer to possibly finding him, she had to struggle with those feelings. He took her brother and left her and her mother alone. Even if it really was because of some secret power she and her brother possessed, it was a hard thing to get over.
In all that time, he never visited, never sent a letter. A part of Aya was even still mad at her mother, though it was much easier to forgive her. Aya’s mother had died protecting her, if there were some secrets she kept, Aya didn’t see much reason to begrudge her of that. But Aya’s father was still alive. He was still keeping those secrets. What’s worse, when he knew what was happening, he didn’t come to save her himself, he sent others to do it for him.
She was excited to see her father, but the two of them would have to have it out as well. There was so much she was carrying on her shoulders because of him, and he needed to know how much he’d hurt her, and her mother as well. Aya could tell her mother missed him, there was real pain in her eyes whenever Aya had brought him up, eventually she just stopped. It was easier for her and her mother if she pretended she didn’t have a father. That had worked before, but it wouldn’t work now.
They arrived in Fief’s Hole after night had fallen but the crew began looking through the hideout immediately. Aya wanted to go out searching too, but Shaquen kept her at the ship.
“I know we let ya out before, but we honestly shouldn’ have. I’s a bit dangerous an’ we wan’ ta find yer father and bring ‘im to ya. We don’ wan’ ta find ‘im and bring ‘im back only ta find ya missing.”
Aya wanted to argue, but looking at Jesay and Kriofft, who were there to deliver the news with Shaquen, she realized it wasn’t going to be a battle she could win.
“Fine, but I’m waiting on the deck.” That was her reply.
So Aya was leaning on the railing of the Funky Bird, doing her best to see what she could of Fief’s Hole from there.
The first thing that she noticed was that the people here looked different. She was familiar with people whose skin was a little more brown, a darker complexion. She saw plenty of people like that out near Meera in Sun Sand Hideaway. She’d even heard of those whose skin was much darker, like sweets made from the Boba Bean, or even darker still, like the night sky.
But here, their skin was only a little darker, like the denizens of Meera. What was different was that they seemed to have a more delicate facial structure, and many of them only had monolids. No creases like pretty much everyone in her life that she had ever known.
In spite of their exotic look, the architecture and style wasn’t entirely alien. However, this was also the rogues hideout and not the actual city of Tavaris itself. It was all exotic enough that Aya wanted to explore it more, to discover its secrets. Instead, she was cooped up on the ship.
Jesay was with her, and Kriofft was keeping out an eye, though he was up near the helm. But it was as if they could sense her mood, they remained quiet. So she just waited, and watched.
Much, much later, she discovered herself in bed. She had begun to doze on the deck, but stubbornly held on. Apparently she had eventually fallen fully asleep, so fully that she was only half-awake when they finally got her to go to bed. It was probably the only reason they’d gotten her to go to bed.
Aya stumbled outside her cabin in only her dress, discovered that it was morning, and then found Jesay.
“Have they found him?”
Jesay shook her head, “no, but some traders seem to think it’s possible he actually went with the caravan into Tavaris itself.”
“So they’re headed to the city?”
Jesay nodded this time.
“I want to go too. Try and stop me and I’ll just find a way to escape. If you help me, then you’ll know I’m safe.” Aya realized she looked a bit ridiculous in just her dress, but she crossed her arms and stood firm.
Jesay chuckled a little and nodded again. “Aye, I figured. Kriofft and I will go with ya. Fair?”
Aya smiled, “guess I should go get changed then.”