A twenty-seven year old Twig stood on the bridge of the Edgedancer, looking out at his crew.
All was well, and it was near dark. No sign of a storm anywhere close. Stickrot, the newest flathead goblin on the ship, was hopping around lighting the lamps.
Twig's green eyes fell on one member of his crew in particular, and a small smile crept over his usually stern face.
Terrence, a tall lad of fourteen, was climbing up and down the sails like a treespyder. So young, but he already had the touch of sky sailing. Just like his father.
Twig watched as his son swung from the mizzen ropes like he had been doing it a thousand years instead of fourteen. Twig hadn't been able to keep him belowdecks, and nor had he the heart to. His son was born to be a sky pirate.
"We'll tie off for the night" Twig barked, and the others on his crew jumped to obey. The Edgedancer began to descend.
The captain of the Edgedancer watched amusedly as his son (In a perfect picture of his father) Grabbed the wrong rope, causing him to swing like a tree lemur across the deck, yelling his head off all the while. Terrence swung down, nearly hitting all of the crew before landing smack on his behind, right at Twig's feet.
The crew erupted in laughter, and even Twig couldn't keep an amused smirk off his face.
"Sorry Father" Terrence said, running a hand through his messy brown curls. Twig stepped around his son, still smiling, and began to go belowdecks.
Halfway to the sky rock chamber, Twig was hit hard in the midriff by a small figure, who nearly knocked him backwards.
"Papa!" A small red-haired being squealed, knocking him the rest of the way over by pouncing into his arms.
"Oh, Madeline" Twig murmured, hugging his daughter close.
"Papa, brick won't play with me" Madeleine pouted, looking for the world like an eight year old version of her father. Twig chuckled at the name his daughter had given to her baby banderbear.
"If he doesn't want to play, don't bother him. You might lose a limb" Twig said in all seriousness. Madeleine screamed, then got off her now nearly-deaf father.
Twig got to his feet. Though he didn't often show it in front of the crew, his children were the most important thing to him. He now realized how hard it had been for Cloud Wolf to raise him all those years ago.
The Captain continued down the hallway, then entered the warm sky rock chamber. Inside, he saw a familiar figured dressed in the bulky suit of a stone pilot. When she saw him enter, Maugin pulled some levers then stepped out another door.
Twig followed, another smile creeping onto his face. He got himself two inches inside the door before Maugin pounced, pecking him on the lips.
"Darling" Twig said smoothly, his voice having deepened considerably over the years. "Your children are causing absolute mayhem"
"Just like their father" Maugin replied, tucking a bit of red hair behind her ear and then using her thin fingers to straighten Twig's blanket scarf.
Twig laughed, then pulled his wife into his arms, dipping her down until her head nearly touched the wooden floor. He kissed her deeply.
The moment was ruined by two pairs of eyes peeking around the corner.
"EWWW!" The children shrieked at the same time. Twig looked up to see their eleven year old twins, Tabitha and Mara. He shrugged, then went back to kissing his wife. The children were old enough now...
Maugin batted his shoulder playfully.
"Not in front of the girls"
"Then let's take this somewhere they can't see... Darling" Twig said. Maugin laughed, and the girls shrieked again before running off.
"It's a wonder we don't have more children than we do" Twig murmured.
"I think seven is enough" Maugin replied, patting her slightly swollen stomach.
"Eight" He said sadly, bring Maugin up from the dip. She curled into his strong chest.
"Yes, eight..." She replied quietly.
Twig sighed. Their firstborn had been knocked overboard during a violent storm that had nearly lost him everything. In a way, losing his first son had been everything. That had been why he had been reluctant to let Terrence above decks. All his other children were content below...
"Meteor" He mumbled his first son's name. He had been born during the brightest meteor shower ever recorded.
Maugin touched his cheek, and he pressed a calloused hand to her belly.
"What do you think we shall name this one, darling?" Twig asked, melancholy mood suddenly forgotten.
"Well, we have Meteor, Terrence, Mara, Tabitha, Madeline, Terra, Morin and Tasen" Twig ticked off. "What do you think about Meredith?"
"What if it's a boy?" Maugin asked. She was convinced their next born would be male, but Twig wasn't so sure.
"We could call her Merida, or even Merrin. Perhaps Morgana?" Twig continued, leading his wife down the hall to their rooms.
"Twig..." Maugin threatened.
"All right, all right... Martin" Twig surrendered. "Or maybe Maxin?"
"I think Martin is perfect" Maugin said, turning to him and tracing a scar that slashed his eyebrow.
"Darling, do you think it could possibly be twins?" Twig asked hopefully. Maugin gently batted his cheek.
"I'll let you know" Was all she said. Twig smiled, then leaned down to kiss his wife once more before she disappeared into their room.
Though he would never admit it to anyone, there was a part of Twig that would have been happily content to stay in a cottage in the deepwoods somewhere, raising his children and taking care of his wife.
The sky wasn't really the place to raise a family, but none of them complained. Soon he would be chasing his daughters out of the rigging and making sure his sons worked the sky rock correctly.
"Papa?" Twig turned to see his youngest child toddling towards him.
"Come here Tasen" Twig said tenderly, holding his arms out for his nearly year-old son. The boy stumbled forwards on his still unsure legs until he fell into his father's arms. Twig picked his son up and began to pace up and down the corridor, rocking the little boy gently.
Maugin emerged silently from their room, watching quietly as her husband rocked their youngest son back and forth until he began to fall asleep.
Terrifying in battle and the best sky pilot and stormchaser there was, only herself knew how tender Twig was with his children. There was a whole other side to the captain of the Edgedancer.
Twig completed the loop of the hallway and turned back, eyes till fixed on his son. Maugin crept back inside their room, wanting to leave him alone.
Twig had been such a devoted father all those years since Meteor was born. She hadn't know that he was capable, really... Since he had been abandoned by his human father for all those years. When Meteor fell overboard, Twig had searched for weeks, desperately trying to find his son.
After nearly a month, he was forced to give up. There was no way that a four year old could have survived the fall or the woods below. It had broken his heart, and the scars had never really healed. Not even when terrence was born.
The door slid open a few minutes later, and Twig came in. He shed his coat and sword, then laid down next to his wife.
"I love you" He said before closing his green eyes. Maugin smiled, then smoother one of his curls away from his face.
Twig was a wonderful husband, father, pilot and stormchaser. If that was the life of a sky captain, then so be it.
The family fell asleep, ready to awaken to another day above the deepwoods.