Interlude 9 – The Return of the Finja

If one were to look up into the skies near the Ebkai mountains, they would see an approaching skyship slowly sailing down into the docks. Around two weeks after its wreckage at the hands of a dragon, the Finja was returning back to the dock it called home. It was certainly interesting having to stay at Koshima during the somewhat rushed repairs–they’d been more focused on getting skyworthy enough to reach home; full repairs could be saved for later–but Joral couldn’t wait to sleep in a climate he was more accustomed to. 

Well, after he spent some of the gold he was generously given. 

“Back home,” Nadine muttered by his side as he steered them down, his three other crew members making the last few adjustments needed to set them down safely, “Odd to think, huh?”

“How so?” he asked lightly, smiling a little as they touched down in their usual spot on the dock. Rental fees there would be incredibly easy to take care of now.

“It’s just been a while. I think this was the longest job we’ve been on. And it was definitely one of the more interesting one.”

“True, very true. Not everyday you’d get to ferry around the chosen heroes.”

“And get attacked by dragons. And have an arachne in our brig.”

“Yep, there were those too.” Joral chuckled as he locked the wheel into place, now fully parked on the dock. “Certainly the interesting trip.”

“Yup. Hey, you wanna get dinner together?”

He blinked, then glanced at his first mate. “Oh?”

She stared back at him, then scratched her cheek and glanced off to the side. “Just thinking. We’ve got the money now, so-”

“Captain! Nadine! We’ve got-” Jancha blinked as she dropped down by them, cocking her head curiously. “Oh hey, did you ask the captain out alre-”

“What’s your report, Airsoul Jancha.” Oh dear, now Nadine sounded annoyed.

“Oh, right! Ump, we’ve got an important person looking for us! Or, uh…kay, I dunno how to describe this but that dragon lady, not the big lord boss lady, but the red one’s here.”

“What?” Joral headed over to the railing to take a look himself, and sure enough, there was one of Lord Arancoda’s subordinates. Ursiati…Rosoda, he thought it was. A tall woman, noticeably a mix of human and drake with dark skin and red scales, wearing a red coat of office and matching pants, was indeed standing right by their ship, her bright red eyes focusing on them. “…Did she say what she wants?”

“Uhh…HEY MISS! WHAT DID YOU WANT AGAIN?” …Not quite what he meant, but alright.

“My lady wishes to speak with all of you,” she replied in a low tone, though she sounded more bored than in any way menacing. “Sort of. At least the more important ones.”

“…And, er, why does Lord Arancoda-”

“This isn’t a request. Get down here and follow me.” …Welp. So that was that then.

“Very well, uh…Pash, make sure everything goes well while we’re gone.” Nodding to his somewhat confused looking subordinate, Joral began to smooth out his clothes to appear more presentable as he walked off the ship with Nadine following right beside him.

“So…Miss Rosoda, if I may, what does Lord Arondaca want from us?” asked Nadine as she tried to keep her voice steady. Though she seemed more irritated than nervous. Odd.

“She wishes to speak about your recent passengers. Specifically the old hero.” As Rosoda spoke, Joral couldn’t help but get nervous at the terse tone she seemed to take on. Glancing at his first mate, he locked eyes with her and attempted to have some sort of mental conversation on what Goldforge could have possibly done to anger Arancoda. Judging by the eyebrow she raised at him though, his message didn’t get through.

…Is that why he gave them all that money? To pay off Arancoda for whatever he did!? Shit. He should have brought the gold… 

Keeping his thoughts to himself, Joral walked in silence as they followed Rosoda into the interior palace of Ebkai. If it were any other time, Joral would have taken a moment to appreciate the beautiful, if very ostentatious, decorations and styles within the palace. As it was now, it took everything he had to keep walking as he kept muttering some quick prayers to several gods under his breath.

“My lady was about to have her meal when your ship was spotted approaching. If you so wish, you may have something to dine on as well.” 

And once again, any other time he would have loved that offer. 

When they entered the rather lavish dining room, they were greeted with the sight of Lord Arancoda devouring a rather large looking bison that was cooked to perfection. Gods, his mouth actually started watering the instant he smelled it. Which could probably explain why Lord Arancoda was essentially inhaling its meat, and other such delectable foods that were laid out before her, without any regards for manners in the slightest.

Oh, and her other servant was standing at attention nearby, far enough to avoid being splashed by any mess. The green one, Vercoda.

“…Um-” Rosoda held up a finger, glaring at him for a second, then cleared her throat.

“My Lord Arancoda, I present to you-”

“Mmph! G’ve mh sc.” And now Arancoda was holding a finger up to her. Hm. After a moment, Arancoda swallowed, then let out a happy sigh, patting her noticeably distended belly. “Haaaaaahhh…so hey, you two, over here.” 

She gestured for Joral and Nadine, and he very reluctantly approached the hungry dragon, some juices from the meat leaking down her chin. “Um…h-hello, Lord Arancoda.”

“Yeah, hi. You two’re the ones that took Julius on his fancy journey thing, right?”

“Er…yes, m’lord. Or, um, m’lady?”

“Eh. Lord works better. Race is called ‘Dragon Lord’, not ‘Dragon Noble’ or whatever the fuck.” She paused, tilting her head. “We’re also called Great Dragons, so there’s that, but whatever. So how’s Julius doing? Getting things good and all?”

Joral blinked, then glanced at Nadine, who shrugged back. “Um…yes, I believe so. We, er, split up after the Lightning Temple, so…Not entirely sure where he is now.”

“Ah, well shit, that’s less helpful, especially with all the weird shit happening lately. Either of you see that huge flare of red light shooting across the sky?”

Joral blinked, then slowly nodded along with Nadine. It had been hard to miss. “Yes, m’lord.”

“Yeah, figured you would, you’d be closer to the sky and all…Any ideas what caused it?”

That time, he shook his head, really hoping that he didn’t offend the very large dragon lady.

Arancoda snorted, some smoke pouring from her nostrils as she leaned back in her throne. “Yeah yeah, that figures…well, still, you two can sit and chat for a bit, tell me some stories. I’m sure you’ve seen and heard enough of what he did during his big journey and all.”

“…”

“…Uh, m’lord, why’re you asking us this?” Nadine no. “I don’t know why you wanted us specifically or why you want to hear about Goldforge this much.”

Arancoda snorted. “Of course I’m gonna ask about him. I’d wanna know what’s going on with my kid’s dad, wouldn’t I?”

Joral slowly looked down at Arancoda’s belly again. Her…oh. Oh. 

…Ohhhhhhhhhhh…

…Well. 

That was going to be interesting for Goldforge.

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