Windstorm
By Famira Damaris

Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Skies of Arcadia.
Author's Note: Anyway, I'll keep this short. This isn't a fanfic devoted to Vyse, Aika or Fina. It's probably one of the few (only?) based on Domingo. Anyway, possible slash later. Mostly plot. Takes place about a year and half after the events of the game – I'm assuming that the world of Skies of Arcadia is much bigger than portrayed, so…er...new lands . Centered around Domingo and Lawrence.

EXTREMELY late update, but again, I update this sporadically, which means I don't write on a schedule, sorry.

Italics for thoughts, sounds, emphasis
Archive: I highly doubt anyone would ask, but sure, go ahead. Just ask.

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Windstorm
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(The Narrow Escape)

Lawrence watched with exasperation as Domingo passed out right where he sat. The explorer's eyes rolled back and he slumped forward. Blood stained his brown trousers a slowly growing black splotch from where he'd been shot by the Black Pirates. This just kept getting better and better, the mercenary scowled. A quick glance over his shoulder. The enemy ship was still behind them and slowly losing ground as the Damascus sped away. Still, too close for comfort, especially since no one was at the helm and the distance between the two wasn't closing fast enough for Lawrence's taste.

Her sails crackling as they unfurled fully, the Black Pirate ship was doing her best to give chase.

Promising to deal with Domingo as soon as he could, Lawrence hurried into the hall leading to the cabin. Smoke from earlier still clung to the wooden paneling and he had to mask his face from the cloying smell with a gloved hand. Unlocking the cabin door, Lawrence forced it open. Off in the distance he could see a haziness peppered with darker patches that could only be the reef. Still a few hours before they could expect to reach it.

Suddenly the ship shook. He was thrown, hard, against the wall. Cannon-fire began to erupt around the Damascus, puffs of thick black smoke breezing past its prow.

His first instinct was to dive toward the helm and start taking evasive action. But Domingo was still out there. Vyse hadn't paid him to let the other man die while he was still under contract. While Domingo wasn't really in any danger with his wound, he could still be hit by a stray shot from their pursuers or some other hazard that came flying their way. Hoping that Domingo had been right earlier – that the pirates weren't ever going to shoot to sink – Lawrence turned and rushed back the way he came. It was a war-zone outside. Deafening thunder rolled from pursuing ship's chase guns, followed by the strange smell of sulfur of the yellow-moonstone cannonballs they were using.

Lawrence knelt by Domingo and tried to figure out how to get the unconscious man inside quickly. Dragging him in wasn't really a good idea since it'd just aggravate his leg. At least Domingo had the mind not to pass out when he'd first been shot. Lawrence didn't even want to waste time thinking about what would've happened if he had. The mercenary managed to get Domingo slung over his shoulder after a struggle. Domingo wasn't that light, despite however skinny he appeared, and Lawrence almost lost his balance when the unresponsive explorer began to slide off.

Satisfied that he wasn't going to end up dropping Domingo into Deep Sky, Lawrence headed back into the deck. Domingo's dead weight really wasn't helping but he managed to get the both of them back into the cabin. Depositing the unconscious man onto the floor carefully, Lawrence hurriedly cast a Sacri spell. He hadn't ever learned anything more advanced than something simple, but that would have to do. At least he managed to slow the bleeding. That would have to hold until he found time to make a proper bandage, and see if the bullet was still in Domingo's thigh. Can't believe I'm doing this. This was supposed to be an easy job…

Ignoring the thunder booming around him and flashes of acid-yellow through the smoke from the explosions around the Damascus, Lawrence checked on Domingo's condition. The explorer's face was drawn in pain, normally tan skin pale, but he was breathing strongly. The bleeding had slowed as the green glow of the Sacri spell faded away. Good.

Lawrence took the helm, checking on all the controls. The Damascus was far slower than the Delphinus – his last real job – but because of its small size, evasion should be easier, even if they hit him with one of those spell shots. If they were going to shoot at him, they better damn well work at it.

The Damascus abruptly tilted upward. For a moment, the explosions were under him as Lawrence kept ascending as sharply as he could. The Black Pirate ship behind him was probably struggling to do the same. No point in making this easy for them. He suddenly pulled to the starboard side, and the Damascus weaved. The round from the enemy's chase guns missed by a long shot and he kept up the aerial dance. The Damascus leapt up, only to curve suddenly to the side and ascend again, gray sails fluttering in the wind.

Lawrence really wished Domingo had cannons. Anything. While the mercenary was pretty sure he could keep evading the Black Pirates by the time they got to the reef, it would have been nice to actually have something to toss back at these bilge rats. Still, this was exactly what he was paid to do and he wasn't about to let a few worthless Black Pirates ruin his well-earned reputation.

Luckily for him, Lawrence was a better helmsman than whoever was manning the enemy's cannons. Unluckily, he had at least an hour, if not more, to be dodging the potshots from behind, sloppily aimed or not.

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Eink Soola considered himself a man of luck. After all, you had to have a certain amount of luck to make it as a traveling merchant. Storms could dash your frail ship to pieces, innocent winds could easily betray you and tear you into splinters, both Blue Rogues and Black Pirates could rob you blind. And that was before even taking into account the fact that your wares might be too highly priced or simply not sought after. But there was nothing more glamorous than sailing and selling and doing both at the same time. Eink Soola was determined to be good at one if not the other unless he could suddenly be good at both, which he wasn't.

Sometimes sailor blood seemed to bubble in his veins and on those days, the middle-aged man found himself testing nature by making his little ship dive and twist and dance in ways it simply wasn't meant to. But on other days, that blood froze over and the merchant one took command. On these days, Eink sold a lot, but seemed to run into every floating rock, coral or whatnot that would put gaping holes in his ship. So a good deal of his money ended up just keeping his business afloat – if at times literally – and it was a miracle he actually made any profit at all. But that was really all part of his luck, so it wasn't worth wondering too much about.

Today wasn't one of his sailor days. Eink knew this because he happened upon a caravan of small ships passing from old-Valua; probably refugees relocating or something. He sold a lot of food supplies and weaponry, even bartered a bit and gained a few new wares that would sell handsomely elsewhere. Today was a good profit-day. That meant that some accident was surely on the way, but his merchant blood had made so much money since the last one that he wasn't too worried.

"Good luck on your travels!" Eink called. He waved to the last of the little yachts as it puttered away, a big grin on his face. It dropped as he turned away.

Wandering back into his quarters, the merchant began to idly count his profits. Definitely a good haul. Better than most, if he had to say so himself. With this, he could make repairs to his ship and have plenty left over. An hour passed into the other comfortably. Eink finished counting his profit and wandered back onto the deck, wondering where he should travel to next, stroking at a corner of his fledgling mustache. With a sigh of content, Eink lit his small tobacco pipe, gazing out across the clouds. He decided he was perfectly happy with his lot in life.

That was before he noticed the gray-sailed ship careening toward him.

The pipe dropped to the deck with a clatter as he stared, frozen, at the dot in the distance quickly beginning to gain solid shape. It was going everywhere; whoever was at the helm had to be some sort of madman from the way the gray-sailed ship dove and bobbed so erratically. Mad, or heavily intoxicated. Eink's stomach took a flip-flop as he noticed the little puffs exploding around the incoming ship. Something larger was chasing it. Little flashes from what looked like cannons. The merchant squinted his eyes. Pretty bulky build for a ship….

…Black…sails…

Black Pirates! And they were coming right this way!

Eyes wide as saucers, Eink forgot his pipe and scrambled back into the cabin. The old engines were idling; his fingers fumbled with the various switches as he sought to bring them back to full power. He wished desperately that he was having a sailor day instead of a merchant day. They were coming right this way and he didn't have any weapons. He had been robbed before by corsairs and it had been hard to recover. An attack on a merchant day and not only would he lose everything onboard, he could also lose his ship!

While the merchant Eink Soola frantically tried to get his little ship coughing back to life, Lawrence had his hands full. They'd managed to hit the Damascus with some sort of shot that slowed the engine reactions down and the distance he'd put between them since their flight was almost back to what it had been an hour or so before. All the ground had pretty much been lost. At least the reefs were in sight.

Lawrence was paying so much attention to evading the yellow Drilnos shots blasting around him that he almost didn't see the merchant yacht in front of him.

The two small ships were heading straight for each other in a collision course. While the merchant's engines were flaring up in an attempt to get out of the way, he wasn't moving fast enough. Lawrence wasn't moving slow enough.

For a long second, Lawrence wondered when he ever got paid to play a giant game of chicken.

Always time for a first.

No time to go all the way around. An idea hit Lawrence. The Black Pirates were practically on top of him. They would have less chance of evading than he did. Waiting until he could see the actual detailing on the merchant ship's hull, Lawrence thrust the Damascus into as deep of a dive as he could. The whole frame shook under the pressure, creaking loudly. His view tilted sharply as there was a flash of golden light right above him – he could see the hull of the merchant's yacht overrun with bolts of energy from a Drilnos spell-shot impacting.

Something cracked and the Damascussuddenly bounced down as part of its mast hit the underside of yacht. A snap from above but the gray sails held. As he brought the Damascus back to its previous altitude behind the besieged merchant ship, something hit the deck with a thud. An explosion shook the sky from behind. The reefs were within reach and since there was no more bursting shots from the chase guns behind him, Lawrence guessed it was safe to run out onto deck to take a look.

He paused by the door. The top of the mast had been knocked clean off, parts of it littering the deck. The rest started to lean at an unnatural angle. The sails were still intact but he couldn't expect to keep going at this rate if he didn't want them getting ripped loose. The Black Pirates, attempting to dodge the merchant yacht, had broad-sided it. The pirate and merchant ships were busy limping off in opposite directions. Both had gaping holes as a rain of debris fell. The Black Pirate ship had sprung a cloud of greasy smoke from the largest of her wounds, spurts of violent flames glowing orange even from here.

The pursuit was over.

Entering the cabin and taking up the helm again, Lawrence slowed their speed as they passed the first floating rock. The reef was composed of countless floating rocks similar to that one; he didn't fully understand how they managed to stay in one place without floating off, but what was important was that you always knew where to find such reefs if you had any sailing experience whatsoever. This reef wasn't one of the largest out there – even a ship like Domingo's could pass through safely if the helmsman was careful.

Lawrence waited until he navigated past the last of the floating rocks of the reef before he began to make ready to anchor the ship. Small, uninhabited islands dotted this section of the ocean, clouds breezing past as the lone ship cut through the sky toward the largest one. The mercenary dropped anchor and the Damascus coasted to a stop, the heavy iron chain taut and swaying.

He was going to have to check up on damages eventually. The problem was that it was a two-man job. He'd have to get Domingo back on his feet before he could think of assessing how much damage they'd taken and how much would probably be taken out of his pay. Lawrence ran his fingers through his hair, eyebrows knitting together. He was definitely going to get his pay docked for this. Well, he supposed that the bonus he was going to ask for the extra action would help cover that, so it wasn't too big of a loss.

The mercenary knelt next to Domingo. The other man was still unconscious, face ashen. Lawrence inspected the gunshot wound, touching the explorer's thigh carefully. Looked like the bleeding was starting up again. The Sacri spell had probably worn off and all the action from the pursuit probably made it worse. Wish someone else was here to deal with this, Lawrence reflected as he picked up Domingo in his arms. Someone who had better healing magic than he did – he could do battle field dressings, but when push came to shove, his magic skills were severely lacking.

Going carefully down the stairs and into the hold, Lawrence entered Domingo's room. It wasn't as garish as he would've thought, considering the normally flamboyant explorer – in fact, it was downright barren. A few pictures covered the walls as a lone, grated lamp swung gently from the low ceiling. A cot stood in the corner. Nails had been hammered into it to keep it from sliding around. Across from the cot was a table – also nailed down – and a chair. The only real source of color was the heap of clothing Domingo had left lying in the center.

Kicking the little mess aside, the mercenary put Domingo on the bed. It'd been a while since he'd had to treat any gunshot wounds. When was the last time I even did this? Before his first job with Vyse, probably. Fina and Polly had been the ones responsible with the health of the crew. Now that he thought about it, Lawrence hadn't touched even a roll of gauze since then. Not exactly good, but he had to at least try to bandage up that leg. Lawrence really hoped that the bullet wasn't still lodged in Domingo's thigh, because he honestly didn't think he'd be able to do anything about that.

Retrieving a bowl of hot water, he went to work locating the first aid kit. Domingo said it's somewhere around here. Like the cabin, the explorer had compartments built into the walls all over the room. The mercenary pulled open the first one – just some clothing of different colors. The second one was just a bar of used soap and a toothbrush in an empty glass. The third was locked, so he went onto the next. The fourth try was a success and he set the wooden case onto the table and dragged the chair over to Domingo's bedside.

Okay. Let's see if I remember this…

Sitting down next to Domingo, Lawrence did his best to apply some field dressings, dabbing away the blood with a damp cloth. A real doctor would probably laugh him off the ship, but it would hold until they reached a port or something. Soon he was as finished as he could be, and Domingo settled into the depths of sleep once more, face still ashen.

Lawrence in the meanwhile busied himself aboard the little air ship: it was true that a full acessment of the damages took two men, but he might as well do what he could. He double and tripled-checked the integrity of the Damascus, even going so far as to dangling himself off the railing and checking the hole in the hull that was the remainder of one of the Drilnos shots. There wasn't much he could do besides nail a few spare wooden boards across it. It was a rather spectacular hole, and the mercenary knew Domingo would throw a just as spectacular fit once he found out about it. With only a rope around his waist keeping him floating above the sea of clouds, swaying slightly in the chill breeze, Lawrence realized that he hadn't this much action in well…quite a while.

He didn't like it, but it had made things noticeably less boring, which was a slight improvement.

The mercenary finished with the improvised repairs as evening approached. Hauling his slim body up and over the railing, he gazed out into the distance, squinting as he quickly accessed the situation. If they were where he thought they were, there should be a small port within a few hours of sailing – even if they were currently crippled from the narrow escape from the Black Pirates.

It would probably be a peaceful trip – that was, until Domingo woke up and found new holes in his precious Damascus.

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"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU DO TO MY SHIP?" Domingo cried for the second time, as if still unable to believe the news. He seemed torn between glaring daggers at the helmsman and wincing in pain from the gunshot. "Just how big is this damn hole?"

Lawrence remained from his position up against the wall, arms crossed over his chest.

"Least six feet in length, maybe four in width."

Domingo made a strange sort of strangled moan and buried his face in his hands.

"I made rudimentary repairs," said Lawrence, completely oblivious to the other man's misery. "We'll hold at least until we get to the next port, at any rate. That should be within the next hour or so. They can make proper repairs there."

Domingo's head snapped up. "They'd better," Domingo muttered with more than a little bitterness. "Which port?"

"Vista de la Mar," Lawrence replied. When he saw Domingo's blank expression, he added, "It's fairly new. They built it last year; I believe you had made permanent residence at Polly's bar by then."

"Wonderful," Domingo said. "You put holes in my ship and we're taking her to a port that might not even be able to give her the repairs she needs."

Lawrence felt a sudden flare of impatience rise in him. He had done more than his job's worth just saving the two of their necks and this irritating man couldn't even see the bigger picture here. They were both alive, the ship was in (mostly) one piece – he hadn't told him yet about the mast – and they were going to actually manage to limp into Vista de la Mar's port. That, it seemed to Lawrence, was a display of incredible luck so far.

"There's no use complaining about it," he said coolly.

Domingo had a few choice words to say about that and none of them were particularly pleasant. Lawrence waited until Domingo's impressive string of colorful curses died down before speaking again.

"The damage is done," Lawrence ignored Domingo's sarcastic snort. "We should be concerned with the repairs to the ship and healing that wound of yours."

"I can't believe those bastards actually shot me!" Domingo looked positively offended at this, trying to act like the pain from his leg was nothing. He fooled no one. "I only wish I was awake to see them hit that merchant ship – you telling it does it no justice."

"I'm sorry I'm not much of a storyteller," said Lawrence dryly.

"Did they at least sink?"

"I'm pretty sure they didn't."

"Dammit," Domingo breathed, disappointed.

"They did look like they were in trouble though."

"Were they now?"

"Well, they were on fire."

"I hope they burned down!" Domingo said savagely.

Lawrence felt the beginnings of a rare smile tugging at the edges of his lips. He fought it down. As amusing as it was to see Domingo sitting propped upright with several pillows, arms crossed petulantly over his chest, expression bordering dangerously close to being a pout, he had to remind himself that they still weren't out of the danger zone yet. He'd breathe much more openly once they were docked at Vista del la Mar. Paranoid, perhaps, but paranoia had gotten Lawrence this far and if there was anything he shared in common with Domingo, it was the fact that they both very much wanted to stay alive for as long as they could.

He only hoped they had their fill of Black Pirates, at least until they got to Vista de la Mar.

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After Lawrence left to return to the helm, Domingo tried to find ways to busy himself. Now that the other man was gone, he let himself relax against the cot's pillow, feeling spent and very, very tired. Downright exhausted. His leg was positively killing him and there was no chance of him catching any sleep with it like that. He tried rummaging through the maps Lawrence had left on the cot, but after a while gave up. With a sigh, Domingo picked up one of the books left behind half buried under the dirty clothing near the head of the cot. It was one of the oldest on his ship, thick, dog-eared, with pages yellowed with age and speckled with tiny flecks of mold, one of the prices of carrying books at sea.

Legends of the Twenty Seas: Myths, Legends, Folklore and Fact, the title page read.

Domingo almost smiled at this. He picked this up in his early days as a younger, naïvely optimistic (albeit just as handsome) explorer and had spent more time chucking it around the ship – sometimes in fits of anger, mostly out of boredom – than actually reading the damn thing. He thought he had pitched it off the bow a few times accidentally, but miraculously the thing seemed to keep coming back. He had completely forgotten about it.

I guess I thought back in the day I could use this for finding discoveries, Domingo thought wistfully. He hadn't read more than a page or so over the past couple of years – he wasn't much of a reader and bored easily back then. Still, bedridden for now, he had nothing better to do. Trying to tell his leg to shut up and stop telling him it was in pain, Domingo opened "Legends of the Twenty Seas" and began reading.

He had gradually dozed off on page twenty-four of the introduction when suddenly he was roughly shaken awake. Blinking furiously, black hair sticking up every which way out of his ponytail, he glared blurrily about. Lawrence's unreadable face gazed down at him.

"I'm surprised you're even literate; I've never seen you read before," Lawrence said, picking up the book that slipped from Domingo's fingers. He raised an eyebrow at the faded title. "'Legends of the Twenty Seas'…?"

"Of course I'm literate," Domingo snapped. "Give it back."

Lawrence handed it back without further comment. Domingo hurriedly stuffed it into one of his pouches. "We've docked at Vista de la Mar," Lawrence announced without preamble. "They won't start repairs until tomorrow – and what are you doing?"

Domingo continued to push himself out of the cot.

"Standing up, what does it look like? I'm not going to be bedridden forever."

"You've only been bedridden one day. That's hardly forever," Lawrence pointed out.

"Shut up, it's forever to me," Domingo retorted. He carefully tested the wounded leg and tottered wildly as it promptly folded under him. Lawrence caught him before he could fall in a heap on the floor. "…cking…pirates…all…go…hell!" Domingo spat between pained grunts as the other man watched him limp around the small cabin.

Domingo hobbled about, throwing open the various cabinets until he came upon one that held what looked like an extremely battered umbrella. It was quite possibly the ugliest thing Lawrence had ever seen, pink with horridly vivid blue trim, little puffs of lace dotting the outdated handle. Domingo shot him a downright deadly look threatening bodily harm if he made so much as one remark about it, and began testing his weight on it, ignoring the smirk on Lawrence's face. Hideous or not, the big umbrella was also strong. Using it as a cane/crutch and leaning heavilg on it, Domingo began limping out of the room and into the cramped hall. Lawrence followed him silently.

"What's Vista de la Mar like?" Domingo said to get his mind off the fire throbbing in his thigh as he made his way up to the deck.

"Small. Trusts trouble to stay away. Everyone knows who's who here and has their noses in business that isn't theirs," Lawrence answered matter-of-factly. "Probably a bit safer security-wise than a port like Esperanza. It's too small to draw any real attention."

Domingo breathed in the crisp ocean air as they climbed up onto the deck. Lawrence locked the doors and handed back the keys as they headed for the dock, the wood swaying gently under the two men's footsteps.

"No welcoming party? Where's the docking official?" Domingo blinked in the light of the lone moonstone lighting the tiny docks.

"I said they were trusting, not smart," Lawrence shrugged. "I believe he already went home after he spoke with me."

"Lucky for them this isn't the Valuan days," said Domingo. "Lax security like this practically has 'Conquer Me' stamped all over the place in big glowing letters."

Limping toward the end of the dock, Domingo was already taking in his surroundings. Vista de la Mar was indeed a small port and he supposed that it probably had a population under two hundred. Even Crescent Isle was larger. This port in particular was dotted with palm trees, standing tall and black in the evening, the road paved with trodden gravel instead of actual stone. The buildings huddled against two steeply sloping hills, protected on both sides with a narrow pass leading deeper into the mainland. He strained to see if there were anti-ship battlements, but he saw nothing in the descending darkness.

Trusting, indeed. Lawrence hadn't been kidding.

"There's only one inn here," Lawrence said. "The rest are recreational places and bars. And homes."

"Sounds fun."

"We're only here for rest, repairs and food. It's not supposed to be 'fun'."

Domingo was sorely tempted to roll his eyes at this, but instead followed Lawrence as he led them down the main avenue of Vista de la Mar. Laughter and chattering voices drifted from open windows through the night air and Domingo could feel the welcoming warmth flooding from several of the open doors. Several times, children would come screaming and giggling across their path, barreling sometimes in packs through the splash of light from the streetlamps. They didn't even spare the two men second glances.

The helmsmen led them to the largest building in the small port-town. Unlike the others, this one had two stories instead of one, and had a great big hand-painted banner nailed above the door stating the inn's name – yet whoever painted it wrote it illegibly and Domingo had no idea what this place was even called. Lawrence marched inside.

A little boy behind a tall table looked up, perched on a tall stool. He boggled at the two men – as if he had never seen them before in his life, which, in fact, he hadn't – and promptly hollered into the next room for his mother. She came rushing in and stopped short, fixing Domingo and Lawrence with the very same expression as her son had.

"This's the inn, right?" Domingo said hesitantly. He had a mortifying image in his head of them barging uninvited into someone's house and getting chased off the premises. Somehow it involved frying pans.

The woman slowly nodded, still looking incredulous. Her son had recovered much more quickly and was currently gawking at Domingo's leg – all the moving around had reopened the wound and it was bleeding through the bandages again.

"How much per night?" Lawrence asked. The boy decided Domingo's bandages were boring and decided Lawrence's scars were much more interesting. The helmsman ignored his open staring. "The cheapest rooms, that is."

"Well," the red-haired woman quickly flipped through the ledger on the table, going to the back of it where there was a list of prices. She rattled off the price of a one-bedroom.

Domingo wanted to wince. That was pricey for such a backwater place such as this, but he supposed it was precisely because they were so backwater that they could charge whatever they wanted. Lawrence didn't even blink as he pulled out the amount from his pockets, counted the gold out and handed it over.

"Where did you get that much money?" Domingo hissed so that only the helmsman could hear him.

"I get paid well," Lawrence replied back quietly. "And you're repaying what I spent here along with interest as soon as this is all over, this isn't charity." Lawrence raised his voice as the inn keeper gave the gold to her son to be locked away. "By the way, do you have any healers here?"

"We have a…well, it's not permanent yet, but we do have a medicine center," the inn keeper replied. "The residing doctor lives further into the mainland though."

"That's all I needed to know," Lawrence said curtly. They followed the inn keeper up the stairs. The short trip up those was hellish and Domingo vowed that one of these days, he was going to hunt down whoever invented stairs and pitch them into Deep Sky for being so downright sadistic. By the time they reached their room, Domingo was in a downright sour mood all over again. He sank gratefully onto the single bed in the tiny room as Lawrence shut the door behind him. Domingo watched as the other man crossed the room, peered out the window for a long time, and eventually closed the curtains, finally satisfied.

They didn't discuss the sleeping arrangements until Domingo limped out of what had to be one of the most painful bathing experiences in his entire life. It was a struggle even dressing himself in the clean clothing Lawrence had stuffed into the traveling pack and he knew he was sweating all over again by the time he finished with the ordeal.

Domingo was working the wet knots out from his long black hair as Lawrence came out of the private bathing facilities, looking exactly the same as he had when he went in. Lawrence immediately began making camp on the wooden floor of the bedroom as Domingo watched in curiosity.

"What're you doing?" he asked finally.

"Getting ready to sleep, which is rather hard to do when you're talking," came Lawrence's voice from the floor.

"On the floor?"

"Of course," said Lawrence mildly, as if it was the most blatantly obvious thing in the world.

Domingo thought about this. The idea of sharing a bed with another man was a little strange, (although he would try most anything, if sometimes to gain a little bit of notoriety), and while he probably wouldn't have any problem with someone he was somewhat comfortable with, such as Vyse, the idea of doing the same with Lawrence quite frankly gave him the shivers. He could imagine drifting up to sleep and waking up only to see the helmsman's piercing eyes fixed on his. Another shiver. Domingo didn't question Lawrence's decision as he turned down the overhead moonstone. The room darkened in response, lit only dimly by the bedside reading lamp.

An hour passed.

Domingo stared up at the ceiling, hands intertwined across his plain cotton tunic, his dark hair fanning out on the pillow. He had forgotten what it felt like to sleep in a different bed every day, how different it felt to sleep in the ocean and on land. It was…nice. Well, the part with getting shot in the leg was downright horrible, as was the fact the Damascus had been subjected to the attentions of Lawrence and Black Pirates, but, he had to say, it was nice to sleep in a bed that wasn't right over Polly's Tavern. Instead of the drunken shouts and singing of sailors late into the night, he only hear the croaking of bullfrogs in the darkness outside of the inn, as well as the near-silent relaxed breathing that told him his traveling companion had finally fallen asleep.

Feeling in considerably lighter spirits than before, Domingo leaned over (suppressing a pained hiss from the leg) and pulled out "Legends of the Twenty Seas" from the pile of his clothing and traveling gear. He flipped to the end of page twenty-four and continued reading. The author was better than he remembered from all those years before. Pausing, he checked the date. It was easier older than he was, which meant the said author was probably long dead. Domingo gave a mental shrug. If this book was as old as the date said, it was more than likely that all those "myths" and "legends" it boasted on the cover had already long since been discovered.

At this point, it was really no better than reading material for killing downtime.

Domingo fell asleep dreaming of moldy old books and strange lands faraway. He dreamt that this book would sell for obscene amounts of money on the marketplace because it was ridiculously old and he'd have enough money to buy Polly's place and kick her out, only she chased him off his own premises with a huge frying pan. Lawrence popped in briefly to give him several evil little death-glares, and he gave a decidedly villainous cackle as he sailed off with the Damascus. Domingo then dreamt of a brilliant purple moon and biting cold. "The Purple Moon," stated "Legends of the Twenty Seas" quite wisely, "shines down on some of the most valuable treasures in our history. So much is frozen within its ice that even if you went there once, you would probably only discover the barest fraction of the secrets it holds. It would take the Greatest Explorer to…"

Domingo turned over in his sleep, frowning.

"In fact, it is rumored that there are marvelous ruins buried somewhere under the Purple Moon," continued the book.

"I already know that. I was there," Domingo said in the dream.

"Oh! Very well then…very good for you!" said "Legends of the Twenty Seas", clearly very put out by this. "Well, let me tell you the story about the Purple Leviathan that was shaped like a…"

"…Like a giant whale? Saw it."

"What about the giant flying ice-spiders?"

"Those too."

"Right…right. Well done, my boy! Well done indeed!" said "Legends of the Twenty Seas", looking even more put out then before. It suddenly looked cunning. "I bet you haven't seen…" and the book whispered conspiratorially into Domingo's ear. "I thought not. Think of it! An adventure of a lifetime and I can assure you that no one has found any of that. Why, you could be the first!"

But before Domingo could answer, it was already morning and he woke up. He promptly forgot almost every bit of his dreams, although he couldn't help glancing suspiciously at Lawrence, wondering if it was beneath the helmsman to run off with the Damascus.

Domingo picked up "Legends of the Twenty Seas" where it had fallen onto the floor and closed it, tossing it carelessly onto the heap of his old clothing.

He had another long day ahead of him to look forward to.


To be continued

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Whew, finally updated. Hopefully will work on the next chapter more. Again, this may/may not be slashy (I haven't decided).