Circles
by NaruMolly (aka Gwenne-chan, or Bard)

PART TEN: Sailing

* * * * * * * *

"This is ridiculous, Nephlite. There is no way that I am going to--"

Cerulean and the others looked up from where they had gathered on the shoreline of the sea to see the four former generals and their strange allies approaching through the darkness. Malachite seemed to be having some sort of argument with Nephlite. The silver-haired generals hands slashed angrily through the air and his eyes gleamed with power. Nephlite walked towards the back, more with the Sailor Scouts than with his former comrades. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his face showed annoyance. "Malachite--if you have a better idea, then I do wish you would share it with us. There is more than just your neck on the line here."

Malachite snorted and stalked away. Nephlite smiled slightly, his dark blue eyes gleaming with satisfaction. Cerulean looked to the tall red-haired woman who seemed to be in charge, not wanting to choose sides in any conflict between the admittedly powerful former minions. "Lady--have you decided what we are to do?"

"Why aren't you out at the Island?" she interrupted, ignoring his question.

"There were no boats, Lady. And there are no Gates that go out to the Island, either. No one has ever been to the Cursed place."

Bridgette rolled her eyes. "Oh, bloody hell." She rubbed at the bridge of her nose, then sighed in frustration. She stalked off, then, heading towards the waterline, stooping to pick up a few pieces of black driftwood and other nameless seashore litter on the way.

Cerulean looked back at the group--and blinked, looking closer. There was someone missing--Lord Jedite. Hesitantly, he moved to the nearest of the Scouts, not knowing whom else to turn to. It was the tallest of the girls that he approached; the one with her long brown hair drawn up into a ponytail that he finally chose to approach. "Excuse me, but--what happened to Lord Jedite?"

The girl turned to look at him with a slight jump, her eyes widening. "Huh? Oh. Jedite. Right. He--uh--had to go and get some things; part of the plan, I guess. Bridgette sent him." She looked at him closely, a thoughtful look coming into her eyes. There was a loud creaking noise from behind them and they both turned to look. "Oh, cool!" said the girl.

Bridgette was backing away from where the dark water was lapping against the shore, her hands held above her head, the fingers splayed out as if reaching for something. Before, where the water was breaking, was a pile of the debris she had fathered. As they watched, incredulously, the pile of debris seemed to melt together, stretching and warping--and then growing. The mass grew more and more, finally shaping into a large three-masted ship, all in a dark wood that floated serenely above the waters. Bridgette gestured, and the ship moved out and settled into the dark, churning water, an anchor splashing to hold it in its place. Cerulean exchanged looks with the Scout in wonder. "She can do such things and she needs our help?"

Lita shrugged while Bridgette picked up another of the pieces of driftwood she had gathered and set it floating before her. "Hey--I'm sure she has her reasons, eh? Besides--why do everything yourself?" she said flippantly, though her face was set in stark amazement still, her eyes still on Bridgette.

Cerulean started to speak, but instead turned to watch in wonder as Bridgette wove her hands in a strange pattern, and the small piece of wood began growing and shaping itself into a large row-boat to ferry the troops to their waiting ship.

* * * * * * * *

Jedite looked startled for a moment, but then recovered and narrowed his eyes at the Commander. "What do you want, Joerdan? I am rather busy."

"Traitor!" Joerdan sneered.

Jedite snorted. "Do you blame me?" Joerdan started to say something, then scowled and stayed silent. "I ally myself with the Sailor Scouts because I must. I have no choice."

Joerdan paused. "How did you free yourself from the crystal?"

"I didn't." Jedite crossed his arms over his chest. "Malachite may know the workings of that better than I do."

"And how can you all be back? The others were dead."

Jedite's eyes narrowed even further. "It is enough to know that we are no longer dead, is it not?" Jedite's hands twitched a moment. "Go, Joerdan. I don’t have time to chit chat with you."

Joerdan sneered. "No, my--Lord. I am--"

Melvin smacked him in the face with the mop.

Jared took over, snatching up his bag and Melvin's. "Quick thinking, kid. Now’s the fun part--we run like hell."

* * * * * * * *

"I hate sailing," muttered Nephlite, unhappily, scowling at the main mast.

"This boat is so neat!" said Sailor Moon, running up to the bows to peer into the dark waves.

Malachite snorted and leaned against the mast. "Now if Jar--Jedite would just get back, we can get underway."

"Worried, Malachite?" said Sailor Jupiter with a grin, leaning against the rail of the ship with a broad grin.

Malachite fixed her with a deadly glare and chose not to answer. Zoisite floated down with a snort. "Surely even Sailor Moon can figure out that if that fool Jedite is captured, we are in serious trouble."

Jupiter shrugged. "So--why lounge around the boat? Let's go look for him."

"You? Alone in the Negaverse?" Malachite stared. "You would get lost within minutes without the lights that we conjure. And how would you operate the Gates?"

"I could go with her, My Lord," said Cerulean. "If it is important, that is."

"I--"

"He is coming," Bridgette said quietly, cutting off the argument. She pointed a slender arm towards the shoreline. "There he is."

"Who is that with him?" asked the peacock-feather haired youma.

"Looks like another young human, Gallia," said Cerulean.

"It's Melvin," said Jupiter with a shrug. "Ja--Jedite must have needed an extra set or arms to carry--"

"Lord Jedite is carrying two large sacks and looks tired. The boy carries only a long staff, and another strange staff with some sort of shredded cloth attached to the end," said Cerulean, squinting. "What could that possibly--"

"Huh?" Lita turned and looked closer.

Bridgette moved up beside them, leaning one hand on the rail while the other reached out as if cupping the approaching figures in her palm. There was a soundless blast of sand-filled air from the middle of the deck. Several youma yelped and dove for cover, peering warily out from their shelters, relaxing when they saw the source.

Jedite and the young human crouched there in the center of the deck amidst a lot of sand, both looking worn and out of breath. "Cast off," Bridgette said to Cerulean. The commander bowed, nodding, and running to get the ship underway, the anchor slowly lifting. Bri then turned to the yellow-haired general and the young boy. Malachite strolled closer, along with Nephlite and the red-haired Sailor Earth. "What happened, Jedite?" Bridgette asked, kneeling at his side.

"Ran into a bit of trouble," he replied, pushing sweat-damp hair from his face as he managed to get his breath back.

"What sort of trouble?" asked Malachite, crossing his arms as the ship turned and started moving over the waves into the inky darkness.

"Joerdan."

"Oh bloody hell," Nephlite muttered under his breath, rubbing his shoulder ruefully. "Did you kill him?"

Jedite drew in a breath. "He still lives, but--"

"I got him!" Melvin grinned broadly, poking his thumb into his chest.

Everyone turned and looked at the boy incredulously.

* * * * * * * *

Joerdan clawed at his eyes, rubbing them as they watered. In anguish, he conjured even more cool, clear water and let it fall over his head. "I will kill them both," he growled, his breath sobbing in his chest.

After what seemed an eternity, Joerdan could finally see again, though not at all clearly. His eyes still streamed tears and burned like fire, but he could function. Rubbing once more at his eyes, he snarled, thinking of all of the torments he would put his former leader and his pet human through. As soon as he had calmed himself with thoughts of their torture, he stumbled to the nearest Gate, and went to where he had told his adonni to meet him.

One of them was there as he had instructed, waiting as patiently as the stones. "Commander? What--"

"Where are they?" he snarled.

"They took the Blood River to the Sea. There the tall woman made a ship and a smaller vessel. Then, they all boarded the larger ship, using the smaller as a ferry, and then waited for Jedite and a small human to arrive. As soon as they were aboard, the ship set sail. One of the Scouts mentioned an island, but some force prevented us from following the ship any further than a hundred yards out."

Joerdan nodded. "Wait on the shore. I will return." He snarled and stalked off into the shadows, rubbing at his watering eyes with his sleeve.

* * * * * * * *

"What in the world is Lord Jedite doing?" asked Cerulean.

Lita turned to look at the yellow-haired general where he was directing a few of the youma near his pile of things. She stared, watching him direct the creatures in making things she couldn’t put a name to or even begin to guess the function of. "Beats me," she said, shaking her head and scratching it. "Maybe it’s a cure for those guys." She winked and pointed to Mina, Artemis, and a few of the youma who were hanging over the rail nearby, in the grips of seasickness. Lita grinned at the pleasant-faced Commander who couldn’t help but laugh a little at that. "So--what did you do around here?"

"I--commanded a group which gathered information for the Court," Cerulean said after a moment, "Under Lord Jedite primarily, though I later served the others as well."

"Cool." Lita grinned, then turned with him to watch whatever arcane things Jedite was doing once more.

Malachite moved past the pair, going up into the bows and leaning on the rail with his arms crossed. Abruptly, he straightened, a startled look crossing his handsome face, replacing the dark scowl. His eyes widened even more, then narrowed, as he frowned and leaned over the rail, peering at the churning water below them.

Lita saw a flash of movement from the corner of her eye--the faintest impression of something huge and dark and wet moving through the darkness surrounding the ship. And then she was yelping, falling hard to her side as the whole ship lurched with a loud crash and creak of tortured timbers. Something huge screeched, drowning out the assorted screams of surprise and pain from the inhabitants of the ship. A heavy weight fell on top of her, and arms went around her, yanking her, rolling her to one side as the fore-mast crashed to the deck, spilling a couple of unfortunate youma to the deck with it. Lita gasped, looking up to her rescuer, startled to see that it was Cerulean. "What the hell--"

"Malcolm!"

They both turned in shock to see Nephlite sprinting across the deck, dodging lines and fallen sails, his face pale. As he ran, he started stripping off his jacket, heading for the bows. Sailor Earth was a few steps behind him, carrying one end of a length of rope. The other end was being carried by a terrified youma. "What the hell is his problem?" Lita asked, blinking--

--then felt a cold pit in her stomach. Quickly, she looked to the bows--

--and all she could see was a length of broken rail and a shred of cloak where Malachite had been standing before the attack.

"Shit!" Lita scrambled to her feet--and fell again as the ship lurched once more, and a huge beast loomed over the ship. It was a mad cross between a sperm whale and an octopus, huge, with black rubbery flesh and several sucker-covered tentacles. A huge fluke-tail smashed into the ship once more, knocking most people off their feet once more. "Shit! Malcolm fell overboard with that thing!!" Lita said, scrambling to her feet.

Zoisite appeared at the rail, yelling orders and flinging her ice crystals at the thing, though they did little but annoy the immense creature. "Who's Malcolm?" asked Cerulean, running after Lita as she sprinted to join the other scouts in helping in the battle. A ball of blue-dark lightning appeared in his graceful hands, though he held off flinging it for fear of electrocuting those whom had falling into the dark waves with the attacks.

"He's--never mind." Lita aimed a blast of her own lightning at the creature, managing to keep it way from the water, Cerulean adding his blast to the same space a moment later.

The creature howled, but didn’t seem all that hurt by their attacks. He bit his lip and decided to change his tactics. Cerulean raised his hands, the fingers liming and then flaring with red-gold energy. The energy roiled, seeming to boil as he drew his hands back to one side--then thrusting them forward, the energy leaving his hands to become a ball of fire that smashed into the creature's side.

The thing roared and smashed the boat once more, sending a bruising wave of water to wash the decks. Lita found herself halfway across the decks before she could claw her way to a stop, though she was lucky. She saw more than one youma go screaming over the side of the ship to splash into the frigid waves below. "That’s enough of that shit!"

She started, turning to look to her side as she got to her feet, shivering, Cerulean getting to his feet beside her. Jedite, soaked to the skin, but scowling darkly, was aiming what looked like a makeshift catapult at the thing--and launching a ball of cloth at the thing's eyes.

Whatever was in the cloth, made the beast roar in pain, the huge tail knocking the boat around a full circle, more youma going screaming, launched into the water. "Damn!"

Abruptly, Bridgette was on the deck, feet as steady as if she were on solid ground rather than the crazily pitching deck. She raised her hands and pointed, voice calling out a harsh word. A lance of green light hit the beast in the side, the green light flaring and moving to cover the entire beast as it roared in agony, and then crashed back into the waves, washing the deck once more, knocking most of the people off their feet once more.

Then, it was completely silent.

Cerulean quickly got to his feet, shaking his wet hair from his eyes, running to check how many had been lost. Lita struggled to her own feet, running to where Molly stood at the splintered rails, clutching at the broken edges, a rope wrapped around her waist. "Malcolm--and Nathan?" Lita asked as Jedite ran up, face pale and bruised.

Molly shook her head, peering into the churning waves. "I--I don't--Nathan went in after Malcolm--and--"

Bridgette stormed up, her face blank of expression. "Jared, ZoŽ--the farce is dropped. Go help Cerulean fish his people out of the water."

"But--Nathan--"

The rope hanging around Molly's waist went taught and a faint voice called up from below. "Hey up there! A little help here!"

Jared started to look, but Bridgette shook her head, putting a gentle hand on Jared’s shoulder. "You can help the others more now. Please go--Malcolm was hurt and I am needed here."

Without another word, Jared and ZoŽ sprinted to help Cerulean and the scouts round all the bedraggled survivors, teleporting them out of the frigid water when they could, just hauling them back over the rails physically. Bridgette looked to Lita. "Come--let's help get them up." Lita nodded and gathered the rope, wrapping her arms around Molly’s waist and nodding. Together, the two of them--along with Gallia, who ran over to help--began to slowly draw the rope back up. Bridgette leaned over the rail, hand stretching out as pale lines of light sprung from her fingertips to gently wrap around the two bedraggled figures, lifting them.

"Bridgette!" Everyone started at the shout from ZoŽ, even the stone-faced Bri, though she never took her eyes from the rising pair. "It's back!"

"It's harmless, ZoŽ. It's nothing more than a whale, now. I had him fetch those he could find," Bridgette said, keeping her attention on the two figures.

"But--oh."

Nathan and Malcolm finally lifted nearly the level of the deck. Nathan held Malcolm's limp form up as much as his shaking arms would allow, and Bridgette leaned over the rail to pull the elder man onto the deck with surprising gentleness. Lita and Molly grabbed Nathan and pulled him up as well, Molly wrapping her arms around his waist in a tearful hug, not caring that she was getting soaked, too. Nathan shivered. "Blo--bloody hell, but--that's cold." He grimaced, lips blue with chill as his teeth chattered. "Malcolm--"

Bridgette knelt, gathering the other musician up to her chest, arms around him, her face in his wet hair. She bit her lip and pulled back a little, her hands moving, hovering over a bloody gash on the side of his face. "Concussion, water in the lungs--" She shook her head, dark eyes filled with worry. "Not pretty." She looked up at Nathan, then tossed out an arm, a heavy blanket appearing and then settling over him. "Here--before you catch pneumonia."

"Th-thanks, Bri," Nate said, wrapping himself and Molly up in the blanket and sitting on the deck.

Bridgette didn’t give any sign that she’d heard him, her eyes locked on Malcolm's still form, blue light flickering around her hands, another blanket appearing, invisible forces gently tucking it in around the unconscious man.

Cerulean came over, eyes wide. "Lord Nephlite, what--"

Nathan sneezed. "The name's Nathan, Cer" he said, shivering under the blanket, drawing Molly closer. "L-look--we'll explain later." He sneezed once more. "We lose anyone?"

"Two. Amazing, considering, Lord Ne--Nathan. And those two died when they fell from the rigging when the mast collapsed, rather than anything else."

ZoŽ came back over, her face taught with worry, but jaw set in determination. "The--whale--ah--said that he can pull us to the Island. Can someone help me lower the anchor chain a little so he can get a hold of it? Jared's got his hands full with the wounded over there--and the sea sick."

Cerulean blinked at the tired sound of ZoŽ’s voice and the strange accent, the gentle look about the eyes. "Ah--hai, Lady."

* * * * * * * *

Malcolm came back to himself slowly, a heavy warmth flowing through his mind, brushing away the parts that hurt. He tested himself--and found that he couldn't move--someone was apparently holding his shoulders still. Wincing, he opened his eyes.

He was sprawled on the deck of the rolling ship. His boots were gone, as was most of his cape. He was soaking wet, but a heavy length of something rather like a cross between velvet and terry cloth covered most of him, keeping the chill of the air away from him. Nathan smiled in relief at him from one side, he also dripping wet, Molly in his arms, the two of them also rather wet. "Hey--Fish-Man!!" The auburn-haired man sneezed, and snuggled against Molly some more as Malcolm managed a tiny smile. "Is he goin’ t’ be all right, Bri? We already have t’ adjust the spell for two less people." Nathan's blue eyes crinkled in amusement, though, losing the worried tension.

When Bridgette spoke, Malcolm realized that the person who was holding his shoulders was his mentor. "He'll be all right, Nathan, but he's going to sit still for awhile," Bridgette said, her voice tired, but warm.

Malcolm turned his head a little to look up at her. "What happened?"

Nathan sneezed again, pulling a dripping handkerchief from a pocket and staring at it a moment before tossing it away and rubbing at his nose with a sleeve. The soggy hanky hit the deck with a squelch a few feet away. "You decided to take a swim, fully clothed, in the middle of a scene from Vincent Price’s version of Moby Dick."

Bridgette held out a square of linen and Nathan took it and blew his nose, sneezing once more. "I--what? All I remember is seeing something in the water--then a flash of light--"

"That was you hitting your head on the rail, Mal," said Jared, wryly coming over with a green-looking Melvin leaning on his pepper-dusted mop tagging along. "Nate's the better swimmer, though, so I let him go get you. He took a bunch of courses in rescue and all--well, after the accident." Jared smiled apologetically at Nathan who smiled back a little bitterly.

"What the hell was that thing, anyway," asked ZoŽ as she and the rest of the scouts came over, along with those of their allies that were up to walking at the moment.

"It was a whale once, before Beryl warped the world into what it is now. I merely returned the whale to what it was. And now he's pulling our boat." Bridgette shoved a wave of her hair from her eyes, one arm still supporting Malcolm's shoulders. "What casualties do we have?"

Jared sighed. "Well--most everyone's recovered from sea sickness--"

"Adrenaline will do that to you," said ZoŽ easily, sitting cross-legged by Nathan, wincing when her posterior came down in a puddle of the cold water.

Jared grinned. "You'd know, eh, ZoŽ?" She stuck her tongue out at him and giggled. Jared smiled back, glancing up as Cerulean came up, his face openly wary and confused. "In any case--a few broken bones and a bunch of strained nerves. Other than that, and the two who were killed, we’re all just a nice mess of cuts, bruises, and scrapes." Jared blew a strand of wet hair from his eyes. "Not too bad, considering."

Bridgette nodded. "Let's take care of the injuries while we're reasonably safe."

"Safe? Here?" Nathan snorted and sneezed.

"Safe as we can be, Nathan. And don't forget Molly's mother. I've sent Aevon to find her and keep her as protect her as much as he can, but he's only one gryphon."

"Begging your pardons, of course," said Cerulean softly, "but would someone please explain what the hell is going on? Who are you people?"

ZoŽ looked over at him. "We're who we look like we are, Cer. Just--a bit more."

"What?"

Nathan spread his hands as Jupiter came over with the jacket he had discarded and handed it to him for added warmth. "Well--let's just say--tha’ we're all who we said we were back in Mal’s and ZoŽ’s place--or rather, we were who we said we were." Cerulean blinked. "Were because--well--we died, didn't we?"

"Rather messily in some people's cases," ZoŽ said, looking at her hands.

Nathan looked at her wryly. "Oh--not my choice, thank you."

ZoŽ grimaced. "Yes, well."

Malcolm grimaced, rubbing at his forehead again. "In any case, Cerulean, we're, in a roundabout sense, those you knew reincarnated. But--we got the memories back of our former lives because We were alive while our former selves were."

"How is that possible?" The poor Commander looked bewildered, as did the gathered youma.

Bridgette shrugged easily. "It's rather complicated, Cerulean, and I don't care to explain how my protective spells or the human magics work to you at the moment. That would simply take far more time and energy that we have to spare."

"Ask again later--maybe we’ll have remembered what the hell we’re talking about by then," Jared offered, grinning lopsidedly. ZoŽ just rolled her eyes.

"Actually," said Malcolm, hesitantly, his face a little confused looking, "I seem to have gotten a few more memories." He frowned some, rubbing at his still-bruised forehead.

"Like what, Mal?"

"The Moon Kingdom?" asked Jupiter, glancing uncertainly at the others.

"Well--that, too--at least a little," he said, raising a pale hand to run at the side of his head, staring when it came away bloody. "What I really meant was--short little spurts...none of them longer than a few years. And scattered all through the centuries, from what I can tell." Malcolm looked at Bridgette uncertainly. "I’m not sure what these are--weren’t we trapped in the Negaverse the last thousand years."

"Yes, Lo--I mean, Malcolm," Cerulean nodded.

The tall woman paused a moment, then nodded thoughtfully. "What the other bits of memories were, Malcolm, are the brief lives that you were reincarnated into before this one. I’d say just about one a century." She glanced up. "You others should be getting memories back like that as well, but I believe the trauma of the injuries brought Malcolm's back quicker."

Nathan rubbed his head ruefully, pulling the blanket tighter about himself as Molly cuddled closer. "Well--I got mine back, too. When my life--er--lives flashed before my eyes when I almost got hit by the boat when it spun." He wrinkled his brow and reached out a hand to touch Molly's forehead. "Sorry, by the way. It was all I could think of to do. Both of us."

Molly blinked at him in confusion. "I--what are you talking about?"

Bridgette smiled thinly. "Time correcting itself, Sailor Earth. Time is a flexible creature."

"What is that supposed to mean?" asked Ami, frowning in confusion.

"I mean that when I made her Sailor Earth, she had to be worked into the past as well. And so--she was. Nathan is recalling events from the Silver Millennium; or the end of it."

"Hey! Who gets the memories when they come back to me?" asked Jared, blinking.

"That’s a good one, Jar--good question," ZoŽ nodded.

Cerulean could take it no longer. "What is going on?"

Jedite took over the yellow-haired man, and Cerulean took a step back, straightening a little, recognizing his former leader. "Jared and I have a slightly different situation. We are essentially two different people within the same form." Jedite shook his damp hair back with a haughty shake of his head. "Actually, that thought intrigues me as well, as to which of us the memories belong."

Bridgette shrugged fluidly, shifting her hold on Malcolm's shoulders to let him sit up a little more, leaning against her chest, his head on her shoulder. "I would think the other lives would go to Jared, Jedite, and the Silver Millennium to you. I could be wrong, of course. The human mind is tricky that way."

Cerulean put a hand to the side of his head, his fingers clutching at his dark hair. "This is--confusing, Lady. You are not human then?"

"Not in the slightest," said Bridgette. She shook her head. She was only wet where Malcolm rested against her, despite the waves that had washed the ship. "Now--let's get everyone dry and healed before we get to the Island. We still need to get all of you prepared for what has to be done."

Lita patted Cerulean's back gently, grinning. "Hey--don't worry; I'm just as lost as you are." She gave him a parting grin and went to join Serena and the other scouts.

* * * * * * * *

Beryl squinted at Joerdan as he approached the throne. The man was bedraggled, looking--hands lifted, rubbing at his eyes. His uniform coat was open at the throat, and his shoulders ad chest were dusted with a red powder. His eyes were a raw, red color, and still streaming with tears. "What happened to you?" she snarled.

Joerdan scowled, but bowed. "Jedite, my Queen. Or rather his usual trickery in the hands of his human flunky."

Beryl frowned. "So what are you doing back here?"

"They are headed to the Cursed area, my Queen. The Island."

Beryl paused, frowning. "What could she want there." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Take as many youma as you need, and go and wait on the shoreline for them to return."

* * * * * * * *

"Lord Neph--I mean, Lord Nathan?"

Nathan looked up from redirecting a youma with four legs in the proper placement of its feet. "I don't have any titles, Cerulean, so y’can just call me Nathan or Nate. An’ I don't bite friends, lad."

"I--yes, Lo--Nathan."

"You needing something?"

Cerulean blinked then grabbed fist full of his hair just at his temple. "I am confused. Very. I--don't understand why you all are here--not to mention I can't even begin to think of how. I’m not even entirely sure what we’re supposed to be doing."

Nathan corrected the youma's footing one last time, then glanced around. "Look--we'll go an’ have a chat, then, all right? Let's go have a sit in the bows, now Bri's fixed the rail."

"The--all right." Cerulean bit back a comment, not wanting to seem weak in front of his former overlord. He followed Nathan to a bench, which followed the curve of the rail, no sign of the break visible on any of the wood. The auburn-haired general stretched his long legs out on the deck before him, leaning his head back against the rail, arms propped on the second rail down. His eyes closed, the stale wind ruffling his hair as he took a deep breath in. "What c’n I help y’with, Cerulean?"

"What--is it like?"

Nathan cracked open an eye. "What’s what like?"

"Being--back as you are."

"What--rememberin’ livin’ a bunch of lives?"

The Commander glanced over his shoulder to the practicing youma, minions, and scouts. "I don't know." His shoulders slumped. I suppose I’m just confused in general."

Nathan sighed. "Well--havin’ this other life--bein’ Nathan Malley as I am--it was nice. Things were simple, an’ I had friends--everything. Until Nephlite died. An’ Nephlite was like a separate person, but--well--not really. It's hard t’ explain." He frowned. "As for remembering the lives--it's a bit peculiar. Try t’ imagine havin’ around ten other attitudes and ideals floatin’ around in your head. I mean--I have a lives scattered all over the centuries. One set o’ memories says, ‘horray for hackin’ off heads’, an another is ‘thou shalt not kill’. It’s a bit confusin’ in here sometimes." He lifted a hand to tap his forehead, smiling.

Cerulean stared at his hands a moment. "What about--love. I know Lord Malachite and Lady Zoisite were--well. Even if they don't act like it now. And they said that you betrayed Queen Beryl for the love of a human." Nathan paused, then nodded carefully, his sapphire eyes flickering over to where Molly was working with some of the youma on their steps. "What is that like? I've--never had a chance. This--business keeps me apart."

Nathan smiled faintly. "That's like tryin’ to tell a blind man what color’s like, Cer." Nathan smiled fondly, shaking his head. "Try t’imagine havin’ someone sharing yer heart; someone y’can trust. Someone tha’ you’d do anything for--e’en die."

Cerulean sighed and sat. "There has not been many chances for that, my lord."

Nathan ignored the slip, though he poked Cerulean in the ribs gently. "I know. I s’pose tha’s part o’ what we're tryin’ t’ change here."

They sat in silence as the ship continued to pitch towards the mysterious Island.

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 11

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury