Riverdale was a small village on the edge of the river. It was so small that Kreet didn’t even remember passing by it. She could’ve blinked and missed it, but she suspected she wasn’t paying attention to anything at the time, trying to ignore her father’s ranting about Dreekt.
The village had slant-roofed buildings, but they all slanted in one direction instead of having a peak. This allowed them to half a small second story and keep the snow off their roofs at the same time.
Krashaeletin walked down the street directly towards the docks. “Come on. They’re this way.” He motioned at a house right up against the river bank.
Draveth, Kreet, and Grefin followed behind. The few villagers that were outside doing chores stared at the riverfolk. The stares were more of surprise than hostility. Grefin waved at a couple of the human villagers.
“Ah, you on river often.” He said to one. “Never take lot fish. Only little.”
The man nodded. “Uh, yeah. I never saw you, though.”
“Good. I not rusty.”
The man chuckled lightly and carried his pile of firewood towards a building. “If you’re with Krash you’re welcome here.” He disappeared through the door.
“Nice guy.” Grefin said, speeding up to keep pace with Krashaeletin.
“Yes,” Krashaeletin replied, “they all are, I think.” He stopped in front of the house at the river’s edge. “Here we are.” He knocked on the door. “Darla, I’m here for that favor.”
The door opened, and an elf stood there. “Already, Krashaeletin? You were only gone a couple days at most.” She nodded at the other three people at the door. “You make friends fast, don’t you?”
“It seems so. People must be attracted to my maddening charm.” He smiled broadly.
“Maddening, yes. Charming? Needs work.” Darla sighed. “What’s the favor?”
Krashaeletin shrugged. “Can you spare a small riverboat?”
“Why?” Darla looked at the riverfolk with Krashaeletin. “Planning on going native?”
“Of course,” Krashaeletin chuckled. “What better way to go mad is there?” He stopped chuckling and his face went serious. “However, that’s not what I’m doing. The riverfolk are being harassed by the sea srengaa. I wish to help.”
“Ah, I see.” Darla glanced at the riverfolk again. “Your tribe is the local one?”
“I chieftain. Call Grefin.”
“If your tribe can provide us some fish for the winter we’ll give you our best riverboat.”
“I see to it now.” Grefin nodded then ran to the end of the nearby pier and dove into the water.
Krashaeletin shook his head. “Man of action, that one.”
“So are you.” Darla smiled. “Where are my manners? It’s cold out. Come in, come in!” She stood out of the doorway. “You must introduce me to you friends.”
Kreet and Draveth followed Krashaeletin into Darla’s house.
“Oh, right.” Krashaeletin motioned to Kreet and Draveth. “This is Kreet, and this is Draveth. I met them not too long ago, but they saved me from a rogue riverfolk tribe. Not Grefin’s tribe, but I’m still not sure how much we can trust him.”
Darla raised an eyebrow. “Yet you’re going to help him fight the sea srengaa?”
“Yes, nobody said I was completely sane.” Krashaeletin smiled broadly.
“No, I suppose not.” Darla shook her head. “So,” she turned to address Kreet, “how did you meet Krashaeletin?”
“We were traveling north on the road, and he was traveling south. Draveth and I had just fought off some sraixen but Draveth had been bitten. Krash took the time to heal Draveth and we asked if he wanted to travel with us.” Kreet shrugged, her ebony feathers reflecting the lamp light. “It never hurts to have a priest of The Wanderer with you.”
“Unless he goes mad.” Draveth added.
“I promise I won’t do that on purpose.”
Darla chuckled lightly. “One rarely does.” She started walking towards the back of her house. “Come, I’ll show you the riverboat while we wait for Grefin. All the boats are inside now unless they’re in use. Can’t have the ice building up and ruining the wood.”
They walked down a hallway with closed doors on either side and stopped at a door at the end of the hallway. Darla fumbled with a ring of keys then inserted one into the lock. There was a click as she turned the key and she opened the door. Beyond was a small room with another locked door and a pile of firewood in the corner. The room was colder than the hallway.
“This is our firewood room. It connects the boat storage and the house.” Darla motioned everyone inside then shut the door behind herself. “Also helps keep more of the heat inside.” She locked the door to the house and unlocked the other door. It opened on a partially enclosed boat dock. There were four boats tied up and a large, shut portcullis made up one wall.
“You keep them here to keep them from freezing?” Draveth asked. “It feels pretty close to freezing to me.”
“Things don’t freeze as easily under cover.” Darla motioned at one of the medium riverboats. “That’s the largest riverboat we have that can be crewed by four people or one in a pinch.” She glanced over the three people with her. “I should probably give you three a rundown on how they work. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of you have worked a riverboat before.”
“Well, I haven’t and I’m fairly sure Kreet hasn’t either.” Draveth glanced at Krashaeletin. “Have you ever worked a riverboat?”
Krashaeletin’s eyes went out of focus for a moment, like he was remembering something from his past. “I have. It was a while ago, though. Best to have a refresher.”
“When did you ever work on a riverboat?” Darla asked.
“Maybe I’ll come back and tell you one day, but not today.” Krashaeletin grinned. “You don’t how many different things I was before I settled on being a priest.”
“Okay, well I’ll give you a crash course then.” She turned to the riverboat. “Pun not intended.”
– – –
Draveth, Grefin, Krashaeletin, and Kreet waved to Darla for a moment before they turned to their duties.
Draveth began manning the bow with a pole to push the fore away from the shore. Grefin started looking at the sea charts Darla had given to them, making short notes in simple common on them. Krashaeletin sat down with his priest’s books and started to study wind and water spells in case he needed to turn aside a storm. Kreet looked over the provisions that had been packed and started writing down the different recipes she could put together with them.
Suddenly there was a gasp from below decks. Krashaeletin looked up from his books. “I’ll check it out. I think that was Kreet.”
“Ok. Can’t really go check myself unless you want to try your hand at this.” He motioned at the pole.
“No, no. I don’t think I can handle that.” Krashaeletin shook his head and started down the stairs to the small hold. “Hey, Kreet, is something wrong?”
Kreet looked up from next to the provisions. “Sorry, no. Just realized that helping the riverfolk means I won’t see my family, probably for years.” She took a deep breath. “This past week was the longest I’d ever been away from them.” Shaking her head, she went back to writing down recipes. “I’m fine.”
A skeptical look crept onto Krashaeletin’s face. “You’re fine?”
“Fine.” Kreet sighed. “I just don’t like the idea that my brother’s out there somewhere forging his own story without me, Krash. I knew we needed to leave the nest, but I didn’t expect to part ways for so long.” She shook her head. “I know I’m still part of his story, but not actively. More like in his past.”
“That’s how all siblings become.” Krash nodded. “I should know, my brother is out there somewhere, too. We all fade from their stories, but only so we can be the main characters of our own stories.”
Kreet smiled. “I guess you’re right. I am becoming my own skravyn. Flying off, figuratively, to my own destiny.”
“Yeah, but right now I need to get back to studying those spells. If you need anything, though, don’t hesitate to yell.”