As Boeden walked along slowly behind the caravan of wagons, his eyes drank in the beautiful sight that was Farolan, the large light grey stone buildings with tiled roofs, built to withstand any storm that Einmar herself, could whip up. The city looked as if Einmar carved it from the very mountain of granite that was the city’s backdrop. To the west side of the city, lay the largest and most grand harbor in the world, with its massive docks and floating harbor town. Housing the Daughters of Einmar when in port, Farolan’s docks were also the safest in the world.
Finally. a proper sized city, with proper size holmes, streets, and people, Boeden thought. It will be nice not to have to bend over to have conversations with someone, or to worry about accidentally hurting them, by bumping into or stepping on them. Until that moment of coming over the rise, Boeden had not realized just how much he had missed his home. I’m almost there Mom, he thought. He could not wait to hug his mother, and shake his father’s hand. He was proud of what he and his companions had done in the southlands, it was far more important than he had thought possible to be involved in.
As the caravan stopped at the enormous gates protecting the main road leading into Farolan, Boeden couldn’t help but chuckle at memories of his childhood. He and his friends thought it was so funny, to see the look on the human and Shal faces as they stared in amazement, awe, and even sometimes fear, at those gates. There was no mistaking a person who visited Farolan for the first time. Even the most stalwart men and woman felt a little less sure of themselves when moving among the Jotunn. Soon it was Boeden’s turn to give his name and purpose to the guards at the gate. “Boeden Narwin, son of Draedon, son of Arene,” Boeden said proudly, “and I have come home.”
“Narwin, Narwin,” the guard repeated. The voice inside the helm was female, and familiar. She tilted her head back, as if musing to herself. “Nope, doesn’t ring any bells for me. Oh, wait. Boeden the bed-wetter?” she said, and that confirmed it – it was his distant cousin, Reidun, who had thought it quite fun to pour a pitcher of water on him while he slept one night. “I’m afraid you’re on the list of undesirables,” she added with a chuckle in her voice as she pulled off her helm.
“Bed wetter, Reidun?” Boeden asked as he gave Reidun a hug. “Don’t think I have forgotten that. As far as an ‘undesirable’, isn’t there some statute of limitations on those things?” Boeden said smiling.
“For you? There’s never any forgiveness. That mattress took a week to dry out. I don’t think my mother’s ever forgiven you.” She winked. “So that means I owe you one, since you didn’t sell me out.” She glanced over at her shift-mates. “I’m on break, and I’ll vouch for this one.” She waved him to step aside out of the flow of people entering and leaving. “Good to see you’ve come home, after all these years gallivanting around down south. You haven’t grown soft on us, have you? Too accustomed to that warm southern air?”
“It is good to be home, and you know me better than that. I have never been the soft one, that was Draedon,” Boeden said, smiling as they walked into the city. “Einmar, I have missed this place, the beauty, the smells, even the sounds. How has everything been going, these past five years? How is the family?”
“Can’t say there’s been anything massively new,” she answered with a shrug. “Family’s fine. Got some nieces and nephews, and more on the way.” Reidun came from one of the larger families in Farolan, Boeden remembered. “Oh,” she said suddenly, as if remembering something, “you’re just in time for my hand-fasting in a few weeks.” Then she grinned. “Well, I guess that’s big news, isn’t it? I think you’ll like her.”
“Hand-fasting?” Boeden said stopping to look at her. “That IS big news, I am glad I will be here. Do I know the lucky lady?”
“No, I don’t think so. She’s in port right now—Ariel is, too, by the way, so maybe we’ll be able to introduce you when you go see your sister.” She glanced back over at the gates. “I’ll drop by your parents’ sometime tomorrow, find out what you’re up to.”
“That would be great. I definitely will be going to see Ariel, I have missed her very much, and we have alot of catching up to do. I need to see if Savarne Hoine is there too.”
“Oh, she is – Naren is assigned to her ship.” Reidun looked at him sideways, eyes narrowing. “How do you know the Dron Skippe?”
“She was sent south to guard Draedon. I got to know her a bit when I was down there. I was hoping to catch up with her, while I was at home,” he said quietly, not looking at her.
“Hmmm.” Reidun left it at that, though he could tell she was itching to ask more questions. However, no one would care to be heard gossiping about such a high-ranking Daughter of Einmar. She clapped Boeden on the shoulder. “I’ll drop by later then. You remember the way home, or do you need me to write the directions down for you?”
“Reidun, I guarantee I could close my eyes, and my feet would take me home, without missing a turn,” he said smiling at her. “I will wait for you tomorrow, at my parents house.” He watched her walk back towards the gates, and couldn’t help thinking about when they were younger, smiling, he turned and started for his home.
Boeden wanted to see his family very much, but he forced himself to walk slowly, and take in all of the sights, along his route. He couldn’t stop smiling, and made sure he said at least hello to everyone he knew along the way, with assurances that he would stop back and catch up later. He finally found himself at the gate of his family’s property. He stopped for a moment, subconsciously running his hand along the ironwork. He pushed the gate open, then opened the front door as slowly and quietly as possible. He left his backpack and his weapons in the foyer, the quietly started to head towards the kitchen.
As he left the large foyer, and entered the hall, to head down to the kitchen towards the back of the house, Draedon stepped out of the dining room, across from it. “Hey…”, Dreadon began, but Boeden cut him off, holding his index finger to his own lips. Draedon moved down the hall to whisper to Boeden, “you came home, I didn’t expect that, that’s great.”
Boeden smiled, and patted his brother on the shoulder lightly, then whispered, “Is Mom in the kitchen? I want to surprise her.”
“Yes,” Draedon said, “she’s going to be surprised.” Draedon smiled back at Boeden then said “go,” jerking his head towards the kitchen.
Boeden tried to be as quiet as he could, as he moved down the hall. He peeked into the kitchen, and could hear his mother humming in the butler’s pantry, in the back of the room. He walked in quickly, placed his compass down on the island, in the middle of the kitchen, then moved back to peek in from the doorway, and waited for his mother to notice it.
Arene Narwin shut the door to the pantry behind her and stepped into the kitchen. She froze in place when she saw the compass and cocked her head. Without looking around, she commented, almost to herself, “Strange, I don’t remember leaving that there.”
Boeden waited in the hall. He wanted to wait until his mother picked up the compass, and realized it was his. He smiled from ear to ear.
“Draedon!” Arene called, because of course she would assume it was his – Ariel’s would have hers with her, and she would not come onto land. She reached out one hand and lifted it, and then froze again. Her head whipped around, looking for him. “Boeden!”
Boeden stepped into the doorway, “Hello Mama,” Boeden said walking over to his mother. She flung her arms around him, and he hugged her back firmly but gently. He tilted back standing straight, to lift her off her feet, then placed her gently back on the floor. She pushed him back to her arms length, to get a good look at him.
“You look like you have grown, you look like you are a full twelve feet tall?” she said smiling.
“I have Mama, I am, Einmar it is good to be home!”
“And it is good to have you home.” She looked around him, to where his brother was still lurking in the front hall. “Both my sons, and my daughter in the harbor – that is something that hasn’t happened for along time.”
“No, it hasn’t, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I had followed the route that Draedon took on the way back, just to make sure everything went well. As for Ariel, I was hoping she would be in port, I can’t wait to see her. Where is Dad?”
“Working,” Draedon answered. “A number of the warships are in for repair, and we’ve been fairly busy.” He stopped there, and Boeden had the impression there was more he might have said. “Anyway, I have a few hours to sleep before I head back myself.” And he looked like he needed the rest.
“Is there anything I can do to help, while I am here? I know I can’t do what you and dad do, but you know I am strong as hell, maybe I can help move the supplies?”
“Ask at the shipyards,” Draedon suggested around a yawn. “I know you’ll want to go straight there.” He smiled again. “To see Ariel, and father and … well, others.”
“Actually, I am a little tired myself, from the walk here, and I want to catch-up with Mom a bit. Besides, I met up Reidun at the gates, and she is going to go with me to the docks tomorrow, to see Ariel and to introduce me to Naren.” And I am not going to go look for Savarne an hour after I have arrived, Boeden thought, she will think I am like a pubescent boy, desperate and dumb. He waited until after Draedon had disappeared upstairs to ask, “Mom, did a package come for me from the south recently?”
“Yes, about two weeks ago. I thought it odd, that it would come here for you, but then again, you and your companions have been moving around a lot.” She went into the study, with Boeden in tow, and removed a small wooden crate from the secretary, and handed it to him. They both took a seat, and Boeden proceeded to loosely explain what he and his companions had been up to for the past two to three years, all the while never taking his hand off the package.
Arene would interject questions now and again, to better round out the facts of the story, but mainly she just listened intently to what her son said, and more importantly to what he didn’t say. Every once and a awhile she would glance over at the package, and notice how unconsciously he held onto it.
After he finished, Arene nodded thoughtfully at the tale. After a couple of minutes, she smiled and said, “What is in the package, it is obviously important to you, by the way you are holding onto it?”
Boeden visibly relaxed his grip on the box, and said, “What, this? Nah, it’s just something I had made.” Areen raised her eyebrows in answer to his lie. “OK, OK,” he said, under that look. He opened the crate, and took out the beautiful wood box. The box alone would have made a nice gift for Savarne, with all of its carvings of fish in the ocean, and the beautiful beeswax polishing.
“It’s beautiful Boeden,” Arene said as she took the box from Boeden.
“Look inside, Mom,” Boeden said smiling. Arene opened the box and her eyes widened, as she saw what the silk lined box contained.
“It’s absolutely stunning, Boeden, did you design it?” As Boeden was about to answer, his mother gasped, feeling the protective magic the necklace and pendant radiated. “Boeden … this is for Savarne Hoine, isn’t it?”
Boeden looked up into his mother’s eyes in surprise. “How… how did you know… Draedon,” he said with a sigh. He just sat there for a moment, not knowing what to say. “I really like her mother,” he just said simply.
“I should think so, with a gift like this!” Arene said.
“There is just something about her, Mom,” Boeden said shaking his head. “She is intelligent, brave as anything, wise, and ever dutiful. I know she can be, tough as deck nails, when she wants to, but I have seen her talk about her father, and where she grew up. I have seen her smile, a true smile,” Boeden exhaled, “she’s beautiful Mom.”
“Aye, she is.” Arene lifted the pendant to let it hand from her fingers, and held it up against the light streaming through the kitchen windows. “It is not easy to care for a daughter of Einmar,” she said softly. “Not if you are one who wants or needs to live on land. Your father could tell you that, as could Reidun.” Her voice was heavy with remembrance of how the distance had weighed between herself and her husband, before she had left the goddess’s service. “Ship’s Thunder … Savarne Hoine lives on the waters, and at war.” She let the pendant settle back into the silk, and spooled the chain around it before closing the box and handing it back to Boeden.
“I know Mom, I know. I am not asking her to leave the fleet or Einmar’s service, and she wouldn’t if I did. We don’t known each other that long or well enough for that. Only Einmar knows if that would ever happen. I just wanted her to know that I seriously care for her, and I know she is ‘at war’ Mom, that is why I had it imbued, to help keep her safe.
“Despite popular opinion, I am not a fool. I know what she and Ariel does, just as you did, is extremely dangerous. I remember my childhood aboard the ship. I as well, knowingly put myself in harms way, in the south. The ‘dealings’ my companions and I conducted in the past few years, have made us some powerful enemies, but we all have our chosen duties to perform. I just could not come back home, and not tell her honestly how I feel. Please Mom, don’t be angry with me.”
Arene folded her hands on the table-top and waited until her son had finished rambling on. When he finally stopped and looked up at her, she had one eyebrow raised and a slightly, though sadly, amused look on her face. “I am not angry with you, Boeden. I speak only a parent’s concern for her child’s heart. You go into this with your eyes open, and understanding what hurt can come to you, I can see that. My advice is only this, and I think Reidun’s handmate, Naren, would tell you the same – meet her eyes when you offer your gift. Temporary or more long-term, Einmar’s Daughters needs a companion with a bold heart.”
Boeden let, what his mother had just said, sink in. Realizing he had a habit of, not looking at someone, when he was unsure of himself or defending his beliefs to someone he considered intimidating. Boeden found his mother far more intimidating than his father, and in a way Savarne was intimidating to him. She was so sure in her abilities, and convictions, and she had already told him in no uncertain terms, that she ‘did not have time for, or to coddle someone, who doubted themselves or sulked’. “Thanks, Mom, I will. The Daughters deserve nothing less.” Boeden stood up and kissed his mother on the forehead, “I love you Mom.”