Level 25 ~ Naomi

Naomi felt a little sorry for Taecendar, but at the same time it was nice to know it wasn’t just her that Andrew didn’t like. In fact, since Taecendar had found them in Pender and asked Vixie to return home with him, Andrew seemed more hostile toward the other human than toward Naomi. It almost felt like Andrew was maybe starting to trust her—like she belonged. She’d never felt like she totally belonged with her father, so really the last time she felt like this was back when her mother was still alive. Of course Andrew still didn’t trust Naomi enough to let her teleport them all straight to Vixie’s home—he absolutely would not allow that. He didn’t even let her create a cloud-carriage to get them there more quickly.

So they were on a normal sailing ship heading back to Yore, where the others had come from originally. Naomi liked the feel of the ocean; it felt so open and full of possibilities. But at the same time she could feel life all around them, the ocean was every bit as alive as the land. Traveling between stars had a tendency to be a little lonely because of the vast expanses of nothing, though the hope mixed with fear for the horizon was stronger than here on the water. Actually, Naomi found this more comfortable in that regard as well as the soothing presence of life. Vixie didn’t seem to feel the comforting presence of the sea though. She and Taecendar were watching for signs of the shore anxiously, and talking in low voices Naomi took care not to overhear.

Sparing a glance back to where Andrew was practicing his sword maneuvers grimly, Naomi decided to speed things along a little bit. Andrew couldn’t get mad if he didn’t know she did anything. Raising her hand slightly Naomi briefly curled her fingers in the direction of Yore. A strong wind picked up from behind the ship and filled the sails. Naomi smiled with satisfaction; this wind would carry them all the way to their destination twice as quickly as they had been going. Most mages needed complicated gestures and incantations to cast spells, but magic and Naomi had an understanding and usually it didn’t take much for her to let it know what she wanted.

Then Taecendar left Vixie. Even before he got anywhere near Naomi, she could feel he was trying to give Vixie her space. Naomi scoffed, she could just as clearly feel that Vixie didn’t want to be alone right now. It was sad how much trouble people could have reading each other, but Naomi supposed the situation was complicated. The only love she had ever known was her mother’s. Even the human who loved her mother hadn’t loved Naomi—he’d just been willing to protect her because of his feelings for her mother. But now Naomi could feel that both Andrew and Taecendar loved Vixie, and that Vixie loved both of them but in different ways. And neither was the same way she loved Naomi… Naomi still didn’t quite understand why Vixie loved her so much, but it reminded her of her mother’s love and made her feel safe.

“Are you okay?” Naomi stepped up next to Vixie, apparently it was going to be up to her to keep her were-leopard friend company.

Vixie gave a heavy sigh mixed with relief and her deeper anxiety, “Yeah, I think so. I hope this wind keeps up.”

Naomi smiled as she watched the waves ahead of them, “It will.”

“I hope we get back in time…” Vixie’s eyes were watery, “Cen says my dad’s dying. Has been for a month now; and there’s nothing the healers can do.”

Naomi could tell Vixie loved both her parents. Naomi had never loved her own father, even though she tried her best to love him after she lost her mother and it looked like he was her only chance at any kind of a life of acceptance. But Vixie did love her father, so Naomi wrapped her arms around Vixie and leaned into her—so her friend would know she was there for her.

Sniffing, Vixie continued, “Even when things looked the bleakest, I never thought anything bad could happen to my family. They were so far away from it all, and even though he’s just human my dad is really an amazing warrior. He beat four were-bears about to attack the village without letting any of them hit him even once.” Vixie laughed, “And his strength is offense, not defense.”

Then Vixie leaned down to whisper more confidentially, “And my mom and little sister are like me.”



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