Chapter Four

"I say we capture them and hang them by their toes!" one man yelled.

The rest of the crew roared in agreement. Kaetani rolled his eyes, sitting up. "Of course. It's not like we could possibly be civil about this or anything."

He was sitting in his large chair, looking at his crew with distaste, his head resting lazily on his fist. He had taken off a lot of his outerwear. He had even taken his plumed hat off, which was rather unusual for him.

"Yes, because you're one to talk about staying civil," Crel muttered.

Kaetani glared at him, and he shut his mouth. He had long since come down from his episode, but it wouldn't be hard to get him to go into another one.

"Perhaps you'd enjoy being hung by your toes," Silnan seethed at the red-head.

Kaetani sighed, standing. "I simply want information. I have no desire for anyone's toes," he finished calmly.

"Well where's the fun in that?" Wikali muttered.

Kaetani just silenced him with a conk on the head. "I suppose I'll be doing this alone then. Bron," he called.

His first mate – or the captain, as he liked to call himself- came out of his quarters.

Bron was a tall man in his mid forties. He had bronze hair, blue eyes, and a mean look about his face. When Kaetani's father, the previous captain, died, Bron took over. It was only supposed to be until Kaetani was old enough to run his own ship, but now Bron had begun insisting that Kaetani had to wait until Bron died.

He was tempted to get infuriated, but he felt no need. The crew was loyal to him, anyway.

"Yes, Kaetani?" he inquired.

Kaetani cringed. The two never called each other captain either, which made bugs squirm in both of their stomachs.

Kaetani just cleared his throat. "I'm leaving for the night. I'll be back, though. Make sure nothing gets set on fire, agreed?"

Bron nodded. "Agreed."

Kaetani grinned, then disappeared again in a flash of flames.

. . .

Irivae and Laebri sat on the edge of the upper deck, their legs hanging over the side, through the bars of the railing.

"Lyro's going to be living with Bradwi from now on," Laebri told her. "He's moving his stuff out now.

Irivae just nodded numbly.

"I apologize, for what happened earlier," he said.

Irivae just shook her head. Down below, the men were getting drunk around the iron fire pit which sat in the middle of the deck. They were loud and happy- completely unaware of what had almost happened. The light of the fire below barely lit her eyes.

"What exactly did happen earlier?" she asked slowly.

Ever since they returned, she had gone through a sudden change, and she had been acting differently. Slightly less cheerful and carefree. She just seemed shaken.

He shook his head as well. "I couldn't tell you. I've heard things about them, though. They're not quite…. Human."

"I figured," she mused. "Who were they looking for, though?"

Now he frowned, a dark look in his eye. "They want the former captain of this ship. They're looking for my father."

Irivae's eyes widened. "What?"

He nodded. "I'm adopted, as is Lyro. Romulus is not our real father. Our father was in fact the notorious Latorus Trusive. Long ago, he attempted to rid them of their impurities and kill the captain of the ship. But…" he shook his head. Finally, he just said, "It's a long story."

Irivae frowned, glaring at him as he stood. "I have plenty of time," she said, standing up as well. "I think I deserve to know, don't you?"

He turned and opened his mouth to say something.

"How interesting," said a sudden voice.

Irivae yelped, jumping to face the source, which stood between Laebri and her.

It was him. Again. Except this time he wasn't dressed quite as extravagantly as before. Just a black, flowing shirt and black slacks. He wore the same brown boots, with a simple brown belt. A modest, slim sword hung by his side. Not captain-like at all.

He was facing Irivae now, smiling at her silkily. "Really, I must thank you for coaxing that out of him while I was so conveniently listening," he hissed, his voice now snakelike.

She glared at him. "What do you want with me?" she demanded.

"Just to thank you," he said, this time his voice earnest, before he spun to Laebri. "So you are the heir of the Trusive name?"

Laebri narrowed his eyes before pulling out his sword. "I might be."

Kaetani chuckled, pulling out his own. "How interesting. And to think I almost thought had the wrong man."

"What a pity," Laebri growled.

Kaetani let out a low, growling chuckle. "Yes. What a pity indeed," he mused, tensing slightly, like a cat ready to pounce.

He flicked his sword out, but Laebri caught it with his own. Kaetani grinned again, then pulled back and sprung again, followed by the endless noise of clashing swords, one right after the other.

Suddenly, Laebri lost his sword, and Kaetani backed him up against the side of the Captain's Cabin, the sword to his throat.

"You're pitiful, son of Trusive, you really are," he seethed, nothing but loathing and hate charged in his words.

And then there was a sudden slit, and Kaetani gasped, backing up. Laebri pushed himself off the wall, the dagger he held concealed in his pants clutched in his fist.

"Am I really?" he asked lowly.

Kaetani's eyes were wide and full of disbelief. But the emotion soon shifted to anger and he hissed at Laebri. "Next time, son of Trusive, I swear."

And then he disappeared in a flash once more.

Irivae just stood staring. "You… you killed him!" she said, shocked.

The whole while, everyone was still drunk and yelling down below. No one had even noticed.

Laebri scoffed. "I didn't kill him," he assured her, looking scathingly down at the single spot of blood on the wooded floor.

Irivae stared at him full of shock and bewilderment before finally turning for the stairs. "I'm going to bed," she said shortly.

"What, Irivae, come back," Laebri tried.

But she ignored him, all the way until she was in her bedroom. Finally, he reached out and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around. His back was still to the door. "Does this really upset you that much?"

She sighed, finally running a distraught hand through her hair. "Yes, it does!" she admitted. All of a sudden, it felt like her entire reality was a lie.

He looked at her, then sighed as well. "Fine. How about I make it up to you. You can have dinner in the captain's quarters, with me, tomorrow night."

She narrowed an eye at him. "How would that be making up for it?"

He let out a slightly hesitant laugh. "I'm asking you on a date, Irivae."

Her eyes widened. "You… you're asking me out on a date?" she repeated. She'd never heard those words in her life before. Suddenly, they narrowed. "What, is this like a prank or something?"

"What? No, I honestly would like to have dinner with you, if that's okay," he said.

After eyeing him for a moment, she sighed. "Fine. But you're going to have a lot of explaining to do," she added sharply. "And I don't mean-"

Suddenly, her eyes caught on something. Something she hadn't seen when she first walked in. There was a handprint on her door, the fingers on the inside, the palm on the outside, as if it had been wrapped around the door.

It was made of blood. There was a matching one on the floor a few feet later.

"Irivae?"

She blinked. "Oh- ah, um… yes, you'll just have a lot of explain to do. Got it?" she demanded hastily.

He nodded, grinning. "Yes ma'am," he said.

"Okay, then, good night," she said, rather boorishly, then practically shoved him out the door. Before he could even ask a question, she slammed the door shut.

Slowly, she turned back around, kneeling beside the hand print on the floor. It was still slightly moist. She stood back up and glanced around her room.

"H- hello?" she asked. She forced herself to sound braver than she felt. When no one responded, she frowned. "I know you're here."

Suddenly, there was the soft noise of something melting, and Kaetani sat in her room, leaning against the wall in the corner. He was breathing heavily, and his dark shirt was sagging and sticking to his slight form. She couldn't see the blood, but all of a sudden, she could smell it. There were spots of blood beside him on the floor as well.

"So what are you, his little plaything?" Kaetani asked between pained breaths.

Her eyes were wide in shock. She could see the tear in his shirt and the gash to his gut. But then his words sunk in and she narrowed her eyes at him. "What are you?" she demanded.

He stared at her, then grinned, revealing his teeth to be red with more blood. "I'm a demon. Can't you tell?"

She blinked. "No. You're lying."

Suddenly, he turned and hacked blood onto the ground, hissing in pain as soon as he finished.

That would explain his red teeth.

He turned back to her, still heaving for air. "Unfortunately, I'm not. I wish I was, but I am telling you the absolute truth."

She almost asked him to prove it, then kept her mouth shut. The bursts of fire, the wings, the invisibility. There was no way he could be human.

Slowly, she crept over to him, kneeling beside him curiously and being careful to stay out of the blood. He hissed at her, particles of blood and spit flying from his mouth, and she flinched for a moment. But he made no other move against her, so she leaned back in, lifting one hand and slowly reaching for his eye patch. He fidgeted his head in protest, but she managed to lift it up.

His eye, which was squinted shut, slowly opened as he relaxed.

The iris was a deep crimson.

She froze and her eyes went wide. "Oh my gods," she breathed.

"Believe me?" he asked lowly, still panting.

She nodded numbly, then stood, backing away. "Why are you here? What do you want from me?"

"I'm dying," he said finally, his voice gravelly and sore. "I need… bandages. I don't have enough energy to transport to my own ship."

"You just tried to kill Laebri- twice! And one of your men threatened to kill me!" she protested. "Why on earth would I help you?"

He shook his head. "I wouldn't have let him actually kill you- I just needed this- Laebri, you say?- to believe I would. Please. You don't understand, I'm not just some sort of villain who's trying to ruin someone's life," he wheezed, leaning his head back against the wall and closing his eyes.

She scoffed. "Really? Then what are you?"

"I'm just a boy… who's trying to get his life back."

She stared at him, confused, before she shook her head, storming towards the door. "Stop trying to mess with me! I'm getting Laebri," she said.

"Don't go get Laebri," he said lowly.

She raised an eyebrow. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't."

"What's one good reason you should?" he asked.

She scoffed, bristling. "That's a stupid question. If nothing else, because he's the captain and he deserves to know!"

"Then why didn't you point out the handprint in the first place? When he was still here?"

"Well I-…" she had to think for a moment on that one. "I don't know, I just wasn't sure what it was."

"So did the captain not have the right to know?" Kaetani asked.

"Well, it was in my room, I decided to figure it out first," she insisted.

"Am I not in your room as well?"

She frowned at him. "That is not even close to the same thing, I-"

He was grinning tiredly by now. "I propose a deal then, beautiful lady. What happens in this room can stay in this room. You don't tell him I'm here, and I'll never tell him that you housed a dying demon and betrayed his trust. Deal?"

She stared at him, then sighed. "Let me see the cut."

He grinned, cracking the red eye open at her. "Gladly," he said, then moved his arm to comply her.