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When breakfast was over, Andrew and Nathanial brought Marc, Joel, and Rin for a walk into the square. Lily stayed with Oliah and Lisa, to help with the cleaning but mostly to talk with other females.

Marc told Andrew about meeting his brother, the hole Lucifer story, and the quest. Marc found that telling someone made the motley story a little easier to accept.

Rin already having heard the story, flew ahead to, he hoped, ease his boredom. That was when he saw her, the most beautiful blackbird he had ever seen. She was sitting on a large sailor’s shoulder watching him play a game of cards, he was losing.

He was a big man, unshaven, hair past his shoulder blades, and dark brown eyes that were concentrating on the man who sat before him. He was holding three sorem, a bishop, and a follower.

The man across from him rubbed the stubble that was growing on his face. Then smiled, winked, and said, “I’m sorry Cap’n, but I won’t continue this wagering. I don’t want your ship. Besides, it looks to me that your holding a few Sorem and they won’t match my pair of Sorom. I fold.”

“Curse you! Every game you fold, can’t you just once have the guts to see yourself through the storm,” said the big man throwing his cards on the table. “And I would’ve won. Look, I’ve got me three Sorem.”

The other man tilted his head back and let up a deep laugh. He turned over his hand to show that he too had three of a kind. Three Sorom. “Sorry Cap’n! Seems to me that even when you win, you lose.”

By this time, Rin had flown by a few times trying to get the bird’s attention. He flew in a little closer hoping that this would help him be noticed.

“You there!” said the man, that the other called captain, “Come here. Yes you, you flying varmint. Have you no respect for the game being played here.”

Rin landed on the table, and lowered his head, a little ashamed with himself. “No sir. I mean yes sir. I was only trying to attract the attention of your lovely friend,” said Rin, although he said it to the creature on the man’s shoulder more than to the man. He did not expect the man to understand him, but knew the bird would.

The captain not being from heaven, did understand him. His friend on the other hand did not, and he began to pick up the playing cards.

“Oh, is that so!” the big man spoke loudly. “Well then!” He hammered his fist into the table, which was set in the square. Reading the more than obvious fright on Rin’s face, he laughed. “Allow me to introduce Karteen, and your name is?”

“Rin, sir.”

Meanwhile the four boys were walking at the other end of the square. Joel had traded some of his feathers for spices to liven up the taste of their suppers while travelling. He and Nathanial began talking, and he soon learnt that Nathanial was not only older than him but much smarter.

Nathanial was the first one to see that Rin was talking to the old Captain. This worried him a little and suggested to the others that they go and see what was happening.

“Well sir Rin, I work for a living and have a title,” said the captain with a twinkle in his eye, “So next time you address me, you had better not say sir.” The captain brought up his left hand and tugged on his beard, to make it appear that he was deep in thought. “I guess you can call me Cap’n.”

“Why thank you, Captain,” answered Rin unsurely.

“I said Cap’n not Captain. Yah air lovin bat.”

“Leave em be, Mato,” said Karteen defiantly flying down to the table beside Rin. She stood beside Rin and opened both her wings in the customary greeting. He returned the gesture, and smiled a little too meekly.

“What’s this? A mutiny? Maybe I should just have you for dinner, my pet,” hollered Cap’n.

“Don’t mind Mato, Rin. He bark is loud because he can’t bite,” said Karteen.

The four companions came to the table just then, and Joel introduced himself. “Goodmorning to you, I am Joel and these are my friends Marc, Nathanial, and Andrew. I’m sorry if my bird has bothered you.”

While the two birds became acquainted, so did the humans. Marc and Joel learned that Cap’n was the captain of a ship named the Cloud Maid, which was to set sail for Newhaven on the morrow. Seeing an opportunity to continue their journey, Marc offered their hands as payment for a voyage.

Cap’n laughed aloud, “Save your strength and your uncalloused hands for tilling the earth, or whatever ye landluvers do. I’ll more than certainly take you to Newhaven. And in return I ask for nothing but your company, that is if you can endure my strong character.”

They talked longer and soon it was agreed that they would be ready and at the docks before sunrise. Cap’n had been a sailor on many planets for over ten thousand years. Marc was very interested in Cap’n because he was the first person that they had met who had the fortune to have spent lives on planets other than earth.

When they returned home, Marc suggested to Lily that they go for a walk. Joel knew what Marc had in mind, and he nodded his understanding and concern to Marc. Because it was such a hot day, everyone except Rin, Marc and Lily went for a siesta. Marc and Lily went walking, and Rin had not returned from the market.

“How dare you even mention that! There’s no way that I’ll let that happen.” Lily turned her back on Marc. “I go where you go.”

“Please Lily, listen.” Marc walked until he faced Lily again, “This is no longer a pleasant walk in the country. We’re going on a ship that will sail through God only knows what kind of weather. A ship that probably has the roughest men in all of heaven as its crew.”

“Marc, you’re treating me as if I were a young inexperienced human girl. We’re in heaven, and if I’m not your superior then were at least equals.”

“I don’t mean to treat you that way. I…” Marc stopped, took a deep breath, and started over. “I only have your safety in mind. This isn’t your quest, its mine and Joel’s. You came along for the ride, but now the ride is going to get rough.”

Lily looked up and glared into Marc’s eyes. “What can possibly happen to me, we’re in heaven. I can’t die.”

“No you can’t die, but you will not be the same person after this trip. And even if you can’t die, the pain of a healing wound can affect you. You’re not a Sorem.”

Lily turned around and began to walk back towards Andrew’s house. Tomorrow, she sent his way, I will be on that ship, and tonight you will sleep alone.

Marc threw his hands up in the air in frustration. He hated it when she got in the last thought.