Strolling around a corner at the Warf, Feira buried her nose and a storm of thoughts into her book. Kicking out the hem of her skirt so as to not trip on it, a sailor down the path let out a shout. Startled, Feira inadvertently stumbled and stubbed her toe against a crack in the paving. Mumbling pitifully, she muttered an apology to the stone she had struck, and continued on, a little slower than before.
“Watch your step, miss!”
“Oh, thank you, sir.” Feira stopped and looked back to find the owner of the voice. A young man about her age grinned over at her from his perch atop a stack of crates.
“Hey, I think I know you.”
Blushing in embarrassment at her stumble having caught notice, Fiera lowered her book. “You — you do?”
The boy nodded cheerfully, rolling up a bit of twine in his hands. “Aye, you’re Lhain’s friend.”
Feira blushed a bit more. “Aye, I am,” she said as she gingerly stepped out of the way of a passing cart. “I’m Feira. It’s a pleasure, sir,” she added, bobbing a polite curtsey.
“I sailed with him for a bit. Foretopman. Do you want to see my drawings?”
Blinking at the sudden invitation, Feira nodded slowly. “Ahh, yes, of course. What do you like to draw?” she asked as she approached the stack of crates.
“Stars. And fish. I love stars,” he explained. His expression was pleasant and friendly, and Feira relaxed a bit. “I think I’d like to navigate,” he continued, hopping down from his spot to show her a small, leather-bound booklet that he drew from his pocket.
“Oh, these are lovely! Stars are rather wonderful, aren’t they,” she said, leaning in to inspect the boy’s drawings. “Isn’t a foretopman . . . . You’re in charge of the mast near the bow, correct?”
“That’s correct,” said the young man, flipping to a page where he seemed to have marked constellations. “What do you think this one looks like?” he asked her, pointing to a collection of dots.
Humming softly, Feira inspected the grouping. “Is it Wilwarin?”
The young man chuckled. “Actually, I just thought it looked like a bunny. I’m sure you’re right. I don’t memorize their names.”
Feira chuckled quietly. “As long as you know were you’re going. I suppose that is the important part.”
He smiled peacefully and looked up at the night sky. “I think you’re absolutely right. Where you’re going, and how you get there.”
Feira considered him with an amused, yet curious look. “So what has you on dry land instead of followin’ stars, Mr. . . .”
“Gilben. You can call me Gil, or Ben . . . or anything.” He then extended out an intricately woven twine bracelet to her. “Please accept this as a token of our newfound friendship.”
“Oh, you don’t have to give me anything,” she said, taken aback. “It’s lovely, but making your acquaintance is token enough.”
Gilben deflated sadly. “Please?”
Feira’s eyes widened at seeing his fallen expression, and she quickly accepted the bracelet with a grateful smile. “Thank you. It really is lovely,” she said as she fit the twine bracelet around her wrist. “No one’s given me a bracelet before.”
“Oh, it’s my pleasure,” said Gilben, dipping his head politely. “I give them to all of my friends. I make them when I’m sitting up in the crow’s nest. It’s very peaceful.”
Feira nodded, her golden curls bobbing. “So I hear! What has you making them on crates instead of the crow’s nest?”
“The ship is docked for repairs. What are you doing here?”
“Nothing serious, I hope,” she said, arching a brow. A moment passed before Feira sputtered and quickly added, “And I’m just running errands.” She also had suddenly remembered Lhain’s caution about her going through the Warehouse District at night. It wasn’t quite night yet . . . least not late night.
“Oh, no, no,” said Gilben, shaking his head. “Fraying ropes, some interior water damage… are you very well, miss?”
“Ahh, just routine.” She then chuckled and smiled sweetly. “I am quite well, thank you. Forgive me, I had just completely forgotten to answer your question; being so focused on asking my own.”
“It’s all right. I think it’s important that people focus on themselves.”
Feira shook her head. “I’d have to disagree. If everyone focused on themselves then no one would appreciate anyone.”
“You’re right, of course. But sometimes you just need to take care of yourself first,” said Gilben, compromising.
“I can see that, yes,” Feira said with a chuckle. “I fear I am no master of that though. Being a servant inflicted me with the terrible disposition of putting my needs last.”
Smirking, Gilben then gave her a thoughtful look. “You should come look at the comets with me some night.”
“There are comets?” asked Feira, eyes wide. “When?”
Gilben shot her a cheeky grin. “Half past two in the morning, most nights. I’m something of a night owl. Woke up not long ago.”
Feira blinked and looked up at the sky. “You and Lhain both,” she muttered. “I was up at the crack of dawn. Rarely do I stay up later than eleven bells.”
“By then I’m rolling in my dreams.”
A thought struck her. Lalaith had kindly insisted that a chaperone was needed for times like these . . . but he was just a boy, and a harmless one at that! “Well, I suppose I can manage a late night . . . or early morning. Whichever it is. Where is the best spot to watch them?”
“Oh, anywhere clear and not ruined by the light,” said Gilben.
Feira nodded and turned in a slow circle. “The view from the garden near the armoury? That might have the least obtrusive light. How about there?” And now the unopened letter from Lhain might as well have been burning a hole in her pocket.
“If you wish. I do love the flowers there.”
“You are an interesting lad, Master Gilben,” said Feira with a chuckle.
“Everyone is interesting,” said Gilben, smiling. “I will make you a crown of flowers, so you might feel more noble.”
Feira laughed. “Now I’ll be expecting one! What night should I see these comets, then?”
“Mmm. How does Sunday evening sound?”
Feira twisted her mouth to the side and hummed in thought. “Sunday . . . Sunday, Sunday sounds perfect!”
“Beautiful!” said Gilben with a bright grin. “I will see you then, Miss Feira. Enjoy what is left of your night.”
“Till then! Have a good evening, Master Gilben,” she chimed, nodding politely before turning to hurry and finish her errands. Lalaith would frown on this, to be sure, she told herself as her now decorated hand slipped into her pocket to withdraw the sealed letter. But he makes bracelets, and likes stars and flowers. There is no harm in making friends. No harm at all.