Sally, Part 24, for those of you who didn't read it. As always, share it with your friends if you like it.
If Stacey did hear him, the words never registered. He yearned so dearly for familial ties, but literally had none. It made him think of Sally, and the little girl who was, hopefully, watching over him. Would he know a family? Did Stacey drop himself off in Andrill, only a few decades younger? He actually asked himself if the boy would be lucky enough to find a ship captain to work for. It was funny how whenever he thought in the abstract his mind would follow the teachings of Mattias, but when he thought of something he really cared about, it would revert back to his old ideals. Would Sally ever be his family? The thought weighed heavy on him. He wanted it so badly, but felt the dream was like the mist of the ocean, refreshing, but impossible to hold. He began to doubt he would ever even see Sally again. At any rate, he wanted Syrin to have something better. It was at this moment that he knew he must help if Syrin ever went to save his brother, but must first look in Andrill for his boy.
The months passed, and The Liberation sailed from port to port, picking up men and women who longed for freedom, each with his or her own special talent to bring on to the ship. There were fewer incidents with pirates than Stacey had imagined there would be, and those that happened were seldom as eventful as his first encounter. Stacey continued to make meals, and would occasionally have someone help him who was interested in cooking, but never acquired a steady apprentice. As it turned out, sword play and knots held interest much more than cabbage and poultry, but that suited him fine. He enjoyed getting to know an assortment of people and found that only getting to know them a little never led to feelings of needing to share more than he was comfortable with and he also seldom heard more than he wanted to.
Mattias seemed distant throughout. He would make a daily stop by, and always flashed his magnetic grin, but his eyes told of late nights and heavy shoulders. Without question, Stacey knew Mattias had always held something back of himself, but it seemed more so now. The silence worried Stacey, and it made him keep his ears open for any tidbit about The Captain that might bring him some peace. Normally he heard nothing that alarmed him, just worries other sailors were having that he shared, but one evening he heard something that roused in him more curiosity than tired eyes and slumped shoulders. It was Golnar, the big warrior whose size was only surpassed by his kindness. Quietly he talked to another sailor in the night, apparently thinking they were the only two awake. "The Captain's a good man. There's no need for you to be talking bad about him." Even his whisper was something of an earthquake.
"He is a good man," the older sailor was noticeably nervous, "I'm just sayin' he ain't human."
"Ain't human, that can't be right."
"Haven't you looked closely at him? Haven't you listened to him? He's from far across the sea. They have a totally different culture..."
"The Bilnahs and Calmans have different cultures, what's the difference?"
The other sailor became bolder, "But as different as his? No. Also, have you seen his complexion? It's obvious he's using dirt to hid his very white skin, and long hair to hide some of the strangest ear I've ever seen. I tell you Golnar, he's not human."
"Well so what if he ain't? We got plenty a non-humans."
"Keep it down? Look, he's not like any of us, I tell you, and I'm not so sure he has the best intentions for any of us."
At that, Golnar went quiet. Mattias had always been kind to him, but he didn't have the intellect to work through what the other sailor had said. Stacey didn't either. He had never trusted any of the other races after hearing about Halflings eating children in their stews, and this new news made him question how much he trusted The Captain, especially if there was something weighing heavy on his mind.