Anwil stood on the deck of the ship as dawn broke across the sky. He leaned down on it, arms crossed under his chest, as he leaned over the edge. His pale hood whipped in the breeze, tussling his hair. It was still a while to go, Azami had informed him, before they reached the Council's government island. Sighing, he glanced around. Shielding his eyes from the leaping beam of harsh sunlight reflected off the glossy wood around him, he saw Ic'enix through his fingers. She was approaching him with an uncharacteristically shy look on her face.
"Hi," she said quietly, and joined him.
"What's up?" he asked, a little snappily.
"Well," she said, "I wanted to ask you something."
"Did you tell the girl about the plan?"
Anwil glanced around, and shook his head. "No."
"Then why did I find that book Wryx has been reading in bed with her this morning?" Ic'enix asked smoothly. "The one regarding her prophecy. Did you read it?"
"Yes," admitted Anwil, "but not, like, to her face. I've been having second thoughts about bringing her, you never said she'd have to die."
Ic'enix smiled. "Then we shouldn't tell you you'll have to kill her."
"What?" Anwil turned around, outraged. "Kill a little child?! Are you serious?"
"It's really no different than killing your rabbits," Ic'enix told him.
"You sound like Aomidori right now," he hissed.
"That's good. Means I'm still like her, even if we broke off our relationship years ago."
Anwil turned up his nose. "What?"
"We're friends, or used to be. We're stepsisters." Ic'enix shrugged and turned on one foot, "I don't know why she didn't recognize me. Maybe-"
Wryx whipped around the corner, seizing Ic'enix by the shoulders and clasping his hands around her mouth. He began laughing nervously. "Ic'enix! No, that'll just make him even more edgy about not helping us out!"
Anwil raised an eyebrow. "What's going on here?"
Wryx laughed uneasily again, and Ic'enix, nearly a head taller than him, stared blankly ahead.
"Explain to me," Anwil hissed, "or I'll take Shii and jump off this boat right now." At the sight of Anwil's withdrawn sword at his throat, Wryx stopped laughing, his eyes hovering on the silver metal millimeters from his ateries.
"Well," said Wryx, gulping in fear, "The Prophecy requires Shii's death. When she dies, our world will receive the Great Dragon Prophet as our new leader, born from Shii's sacrificed remains, and the Prophet will control Shii and inhabit her body as a worldly shell to lead us." He smiled. "Our world will no longer be torn apart by war, Anwil. Imagine."
Anwil twisted around, the memory of a laughing man filling his head, the chuckles evil and soft, but steadily growing louder. The slash of flesh and blood, the memory of war, and the clanging of glass armor. Wryx smiled at him again, his eyes almost like glass themselves.
"Our last battle is coming," he said, "and I'm so excited to see this world destroyed."
"You need to understand," Ic'enix said, a hint of a plea in her voice. "Wryx's family and my parents died when we were young. Most of them were murdered in front of us, by a young lone figure who we now know as Snowyl Aomidori Liyau." she took a breath. "She was just a child then, but she does it even now. We must right the world, Quar!"
Anwil shook his head. "Let the dead above take the evil," he said. "And the living below become them. I'm sorry about your families, but I'm not murdering a little girl!" his knuckles were white against the deck, his fingers clutching it.
"You should be sorry about all our families," said Ic'enix. "Everyone on this trip I hired has some grudge against someone. You never figured that out because you never asked. Selfish, ego-ist Anwil Quar. So let me be true when I say they all hate death and suffering. I'm surrounded by like-minded people, most of which are apart of my own Guild. They'll kill you in a moment's notice."
"That'll make you just like the killers who took your family away," reasoned Anwil calmly, but internally freaking out. No way he could take out everyone here. "I have connections too, people who, hopefully, love me."
"Hopefully," Ic'enix remarked back to him. "Why do you think they don't?"
"I talked to Azami earlier," said Wryx slowly. "He told me he loved you, even though he found it hard to. You're not a very likable person, Anwil."
"I know that," Anwil said, the tip of his sword shaking over Wryx's throat. A few thin cuts appeared there, welling up with blood. "I know. But what do you think made me like this? I don't trust anyone, I only trust myself and my own judgement."
Ic'enix paused before talking. She rocked on the balls of her feet. "If we kill Shii," she said. "All your pain goes away. You won't have to think about your father anymore, and what he did to you."
"You don't know my father," Anwil hissed at her, his sword now at her neck. Out of the corner of his eye, Wryx was withdrawing a little dagger. ""You didn't know him, you never will. He never hurt me."
"Then why has Shii told me that you mutter in your sleep about him?" she jeered, proceeding to imitate Anwil in a high voice. "'Oh! No, please, don't go! Don't leave me! Don't say you'll go, I want you here. Don't fight! I want to go! I'll go for you!"' she grinned. "I wonder what he's saying on the other side."
"My father was a noble man, despite being an Elf," said Anwil, voice trembling. "He died in battle."
Ic'enix smiled. "And you were there when it happened. Think about it Anwil. One little girl's life for many others. What do you say?"
"I say, screw your little plan!" hissed Anwil. "You'll never be able to make the world perfect, it's futile. No one will ever adhere to your wishes, or this Dragon Prophet's. There will always be bad people. I'm glad for that. Because that means good people will shine even brighter in the face of evil."
Ic'enix's expression flashed from the previously gentle one to a harsh, furious look. Her green eyes were narrowed against her dark brows, and her mouth was in a hard frown. "Wrong answer." she said. Lifting her own sword from her sheath, she beckoned Wryx forward. "Get him."
Wryx seemed, for a moment, hesitant. "Nix-"
"I mean it!" she snarled.
Wryx took a breath, and rose his hands up.
"No magic!" she snapped. "Just your dagger, it'll be a worse punishment."
The boy proceeded to withdraw the blade from his hip. Anwil whipped his sword away from Ic'enix's throat as the girl leapt onto the deck banister. Glancing up, he made a hissy noise as he barely avoided a harsh swing from her. It snagged on his hood and ripped a big hole in it.
"Ic'enix?!" shouted someone from behind them. Jinokusa's bulky form withdrew from the dark stairway leading to the cots. He spotted them. "What's going on?!"
Ic'enix glared at him. "Anwil," she shouted, "is a traitor!"
"What? That elf's a lot of things, many of them quite insulting to the world as a whole, but he wouldn't betray anyone!" From behind him, Shii had come up, eyes full of fear.
"Make it stop!" she wailed.
Azami, the sailor, and his daughter came up from another room deep in the hull of the ship. "No fighting on my boat!" he screeched. "The blood'll take forever to clean up!!! And I don't have enough time to slow down and give ya a water funeral!"
"That's all you have to say?!" shouted Anwil.
"I'm sorry, boss," Jinokusa yelled at Wryx from over the clanging of swords, "but do I have permission to wallop your girl?"
"SHE'S NOT MY GIRL!" Wryx called back. "BUT YES, GO AHEAD!"
Ic'enix leapt from the banister and her blade made a screech sound against Jinokusa's armor, which somehow he had the time to throw on. But as the metal against metal flashed in the sun, a thin, lean black-clad figure appeared behind them, standing on the stairs leading to the upper deck.
"Hi," said the woman, taking a step forward and into the light.
Anwil shuddered, and Shii made a squeaky noise. "Aomidori," said Ic'enix, her eyes glazed over red.