8th of Last Seed, 5 AM
He had tried to go back to sleep. Honestly, he did. Sagax laid in his hammock around when the sun began to set, urging himself to rest, something he thought would be an easy task given the day he had. Instead, all he had accomplished was determining through hours of staring at the ceiling which parts of the wood creaked the most when someone walked the deck above. He roamed the Kyne's Tear, rarely speaking to anyone, for he had no words to speak. In the morning after the battle, he had helped Do'karth gather Roze's remains for burial, a grueling task the Imperial thought would never end. It had been done silently, with the "clean-up crew" only exchanging passing glances, mainly just so they could look at something other than flattened gore for a few seconds. After his friend's remains were stored safely and securely, Sagax retreated into the bowels of the ship to relieve himself. Though others with a cruder tongue might instead say he ran away to spew his guts in a corner for the better part of half an hour, with the next half spent crying.
For all of his bluster about opening up, of sharing one's feelings, Sagax still would rather hide away and express his sorrow alone, away from prying eyes. He had a reputation of being an optimist, the man who was always smiling, and a part of him wanted to keep that reputation going. The other part of him simply did not want to show such a weakness for all to see, even if it was entirely justified. Sagax was also not a very emotional man. In touch with his emotions, yes, but not emotional, if that made any sense. He normally was calm and collected, and was not one to break into hysterics. But this time, something simply broke. Or was it perhaps more apt to say something broke out? More like a dam instead of a piece of machinery.
Even as well as he hid himself, Piper was still able to find her brother. She stood just outside the room, taking cover next to the door frame. She had been helping clear the debris off of the top deck while Sagax was occupied with his more morose duty, and when she finished, her brother had simply vanished. When she asked the others, they all said they hadn't seen Sagax either. Hounding the Tear top to bottom, Piper searched for Sagax with a hint of mere curiosity but also worry. Now she was outside listening to her beloved brother sob, grieving for his friend...and she didn't have the guts to go in and console him. But how could she? Piper didn't know how to properly talk to other people, let alone comfort them in such a dark time, she simply had no experience. It didn't help that Piper largely ignored her own feelings, so she had no way to really...connect with other people like that. What if she said the wrong thing, something she thought harmless but was, in reality, horrifying and disrespectful? What would Sagax think of her then? Piper's heart broke as she did the only thing she thought she could: listen. Listen to her brother cry and hear his almost incoherent speech between sobs. "I'm sorry, Roze...I'm sorry..."
Now, the sun had long set, and just about everyone including his sister was asleep. But not Sagax. Since midnight he had been walking the decks and corridors of the Kyne's Tear, aimless and mournful. Nothing was on his mind, which was honestly a blessing. He simply walked. Walked and walked and walked, stopping for nothing. Eventually, on his tenth trip around the vessel, he came across his hammock again. Sighing, he decided to force himself into it once more. He had to sleep some time, after all, he had been awake almost the entirety of the 7th and then some. Fortunately, not long after closing his eyes, Sagax was granted the mercy of unconsciousness.
The Imperial opened his eyes, not to the sight of planks of wood above him, but of his otherworldly helper.
"What do you want...?"
It's been a while since we had a chance to speak. I thought I would come by again...you've been very busy. Before he could respond, the spirit continued, staring straight into Sagax's soul. You also had a rather...stressful day. If there's anything you wish to speak your mind about, I shall listen.
The two stood in silence, the spirit waiting patiently for Sagax to begin. He knew what the man was thinking, it was just a matter of when and if he would share.
"I...made a mistake." It came out with a hint of uncertainty, as if Sagax would rather not speak at all, but it felt like something was pulling his answers out of his very head. There seemed to be no hiding from his benefactor.
How? The spirit replied, and while there was confusion in his tone, Sagax somehow knew there was no actual need for clarification. They just wanted him to say it.
"I-I should have stayed on the ship."
And what would that, in your mind, have accomplished, Sagax?
"Roze would still be alive!" He intended to simply speak his answer, but instead it came out as a shout. A pained, sorrowful bellow that echoed across the sandscape of his dream. The mountain miles inland rumbled and shook the ground beneath him.
His benefactor nodded and waited a moment before speaking again, giving Sagax a chance to calm himself. And that is what you believe?
I see...now think for a moment. What would have happened if you did not join the others that boarded the airship?
He didn't reply. He tried, but every time Sagax opened his mouth it just closed again. He knew the words, had them in his head, but the Imperial couldn't bring himself to speak them. It was a hard truth, one he realized but didn't have the willpower to verbalize. The spirit, naturally, sensed this.
Yes. There would have been a good chance that the boarding party would fail. You would have saved your friend, but the disgusting beast up above would have won, and destroyed your entire company anyway. All of you would have been lost. Your friend...Rozalia was right, you know.
That you can't save everyone...though I think you already know this, even if you dare not act with such information in mind. I believe you made the right choice, and I think I speak for your friend as well. She wouldn't have wanted you and the rest of her friends to die just to save her.
Deep down, Sagax felt that the spirit was correct in his assessment. The one thing more important to Roze than everything else in the world were the few friends she was able to keep. One life for the many. Her life for the lives of those she held dear. But to die like she did...
It was not a situation any of you could have foreseen. You acted with the information you had, and you had to act quickly. Nobody would have been able to guess that...thing would come falling out of the sky on top of the ship. In truth, there was nothing you could have done. You shouldn't concern yourself with it so heavily. In the end, no matter what choice you made, the outcomes would have been mainly the same. A few would die, or all of you would die. She just so happened to be the unlucky few.
It really was that simple...wasn't it? Some people will die. You may not know who, or how, or when or why, but they will. And there is truly nothing you can do to stop it. But that didn't make it any easier, that didn't make the pain of loss or the sorrow go away.
Pain...Sagax cringed as his imagination took off, almost entirely detached from his own will. The lingering question...
Sagax jumped at the sudden sharp tone of his benefactor. "N...no?"
No. She did not experience any pain. She didn't even feel the impact.
The Imperial stared at the ground as the horrible thoughts that infected his mind ceased. Such a simple answer, something so small, put him at ease. At least she didn't suffer...
She didn't. In fact, her last moments were peaceful, in a way. Full of thoughts of her friends. Of you. She wanted you to keep on living. Don't let her down by obsessing over the could-haves and the maybes. Actually, staying on that line of thought...
Sagax blinked, eyes shut for only a quarter of a second. Before, the spirit was completely empty handed, even his shield was absent. After, however, he was toying with something. It was the dagger Sagax had pillaged from the Dwemer ruins. The wraith tossed it up and down, catching it expertly by the grip every time, no matter how high he threw it.
You are planning to bury it with her.
"Well, I was. But let me guess..."
Mhm. Don't. Rozalia was a practical woman. If you were to waste such a wonderfully crafted tool by just tossing it into a coffin, well...I might not be your only spectral visitor in the future! Ahahaha!
He couldn't help but laugh along. Really, they were right. Roze would never stand for such a thing, what was he thinking? That dagger was a tool meant to be used, not sent six feet under ground as some kind of sappy symbol of respect. He could hear her already, lecturing Sagax on how she couldn't use the thing anyway.
"Well, there's still the question of what I'm going to do with everything else...that weird robe is taking up a lot of space."
Hm...sell it all, give it away, whatever you fancy. They are your spoils, after all. As long as you don't bury any of it with her I'm sure she'll be happy.
"Well, I'm sure someone will appreciate a giant gold bathrobe. Maybe I'll give it to Gustav...who knows."
The spirit tossed the dagger once more, and when he caught it, he flung it straight at Sagax. By some miracle, the understandably unprepared Imperial caught it by the handle. "Hey...!"
Ah, good catch! You should definitely keep it. I think it suits you well. Daggers have many uses, and I encourage you to experiment...they helped me escape the proverbial frying pan more than once.
Suddenly, the mist thickened, and the strange island in the background began to fade. The spirit bowed and said his farewell. Goodbye for now, Sagax. Grieve as you must, and remember that the spirit of the warrior, and of your friend, will always be with you.
8th of Last Seed, 1 PM
"Spirit of the warrior..." The spirit's voice echoed in Sagax's head. As it faded, the sounds of crashing waves and creaking boards filled his ears. He got up slowly, shielding his eyes from the shafts of midday sun pouring through a nearby porthole. Looking around, Sagax found himself alone. Unsurprising, everyone else was most likely on the top deck performing their duties. Why hadn't he been woken, though? Whatever reason, he was grateful for the rest. Still, it wouldn't do him any good to lay around and mope all day, so Sagax busied himself with some menial tasks. His first order of business was getting rid of the cumbersome robe he pilfered from the Sload's quarters. To that end, he sought out Gustav, a man Sagax knew appreciated dazzling and shiny things. The man himself was too busy to grant an audience, so Sagax left it folded up in his quarters with a note that simply read 'Enjoy - Sagax'.
Then was the matter of the rings. One was entirely mundane, he could tell, but the other felt...off. Sagax brought it to Ariane who impatiently told him that it could detect injured life forms. He could barely get out a thanks before being shooed off, the Breton far too absorbed by her research to be bothered by everyday artifact appraisals. It didn't take long for Sagax to decide where it would go; he heard that Wylendriel, a Bosmer priestess, had saved the lives of his sister and several others within the company. As an expression of thanks, Sagax gave the ring to the priestess, and told her that he wanted Wylendriel to know both he and his sister appreciated her efforts, even if Piper left it up to him to say it.
As for the other ring, he didn't really know what to do with it. Eventually he settled on keeping it, as he would the Dwarven dagger. He wasn't one for jewellery, but Sagax just thought it made sense to keep it as a reminder of a victory, even if it was still steeped in defeat.
After his errands, Sagax occupied himself with chores around the ship while the Tear continued its voyage to Jehenna.
10th of Last Seed, 8 AM
Of course Sagax went to the funeral, Piper too, though she stood in the back. Sagax was up front, in direct sight of Roze's coffin. He was able to keep a straight face, but there were still tears. Do'karth cried openly, something that surprised Sagax, as he saw the Khajiit as someone that was in complete control of their emotions. Not that his view of Do'karth lessened, he was a friend of Roze too, it was only natural. Sagax stood and listened to the priest give the Rites of Arkay, not uttering a single sound all the while. When the rites finally finished, Sagax was one of the first people out of the chapel. He did not bother visiting the other coffins. He didn't even know two of them, and who was Ashav to Sagax really? He barely spoke to the man and mainly just followed his orders.
As he left, Sagax turned to Sevine briefly. All he could give her was an expression of understanding before ultimately storming out; his facade was fading, and quickly. He had to get out before he made a scene. Piper followed right behind him.
Piper stayed just a few paces behind her brother, silent the whole time. She didn't know what to say, hell, she didn't even really know what he was feeling. This just wasn't a side of Sagax she was familiar with. No big grin, no words of optimism and hope, and he certainly didn't have the bounce in his step that she was used to. Normally he'd be visiting all the stalls and talking to the locals, taking in all the sights. Now he just kept his eyes forward...and walked, with no destination in mind. But suddenly, after several minutes of random turns through the many streets of Jehenna, her brother stopped dead in his tracks, looking down a side street.
A series of thuds and grunting broke Sagax out of his trance. At the end of the alley next to him were two figures, one looming over the other. The person standing had their foot on the other's chest, and their head was covered by a hood...and their hand occupied by a dagger. The victim was a Breton woman, covered in dirt and cheap, tattered clothes. The supposed mugger was shouting something about a stash of gold, that the victim knew where it was. They held their dagger to the woman's throat...
The opportunity to defuse the situation and scare off the attacker had long passed. Now it was time to act.
He ripped his dagger from its sheath, which was now clipped securely to his belt, and charged the assailant. Too occupied with their interrogation, the stranger only heard him approach when he was already upon them. When the mugger held their dagger up to strike, Sagax slammed his palm into their chest and used his dagger in an underhand grip to jam the blade between the hilt and crossguard of his foe's weapon. The force of the push, causing them to stagger back, combined with the effort Sagax put against their weapon wrested it from their grasp and sent it clattering to the ground. They had been disarmed, but the Imperial was not done yet. They had yet to be neutralized.
Sagax grabbed the hooded figure by their collar and swung them face first and full force into the stone wall behind him. A loud, dull thud and a surprisingly feminine shout of pain echoed throughout the empty street before the mugger slid down to their knees, holding their hands to their face. Sagax forced them to their feet and turned them around to face him, proceeding to rip their mask off of their face. Before him was a young Nord girl, blood flowing from her nose in an uncontrollable stream.
"Fuck, wait! For fuck's sake, don't kill me!"
"Why not? You seemed pretty ready to take her life." Sagax said, nodding towards the Breton, still lying on the ground beside them. "Or is it different when the blade is held to your throat?"
"I wasn't gonna kill her! I just wanted to get stuff out of her! These...these beggars, they have caches! Full of gold and jewels, I know it! Heard it from a guy who killed a guy, who-"
"Shut. Up." These people were all the same...he should know. Thieves, always a one track mind. But at least he never held people by knifepoint, and he certainly never went after other beggars. He was a different caliber of thief. Certainly not good, but by the gods he at least had principles.
Tired of her foul breath taking up his air, Sagax tossed the girl away from him. "Leave. Now. And if I ever see you pulling shit like this again, you'll be leaving covered by a tarp on a stretcher."
"Ain't gotta tell me twice..." she said, making a grab for her dagger. Sagax promptly stomped on her hand as soon as she touched the hilt. "FUCK! Okay, I got it, I got it!"
Fruitlessly trying to nurse both her sore hand and bloody face, the thief ran off through the winding alleys of the city. When she was entirely out of sight, Sagax picked up the girl's dagger. It was of decent make, steel with a wooden grip. His Dwarven dagger cut a notch into the bottom of the crossguard, but aside from that it looked well taken care of.
"Thank you..." The Breton said as Sagax pulled her up from the ground. "These crazy people, they believe all sorts of things. Gold and jewels? Pfah! If I knew where a bunch of gems were do they really think I'd be living out here in the streets? Really!"
"Some people will do anything for money, even for so little as the promise of it. It usually ends up with them having less than they started with."
"Oh, absolutely! But that doesn't stop them, oh no." The woman made a feeble attempt at dusting off her clothes, with what little that would have helped given the state of them anyway. "At any rate, I'm glad you stepped in when you did...she would've cut me open right then and there, friend, I'm telling you!"
"I was happy to help, ma'am. I don't think she'll be doing any of that for a while..." said Sagax, flipping the other girl's dagger around, now holding it by the blade. "Speaking of, here, you should have it. A bit of a nasty surprise for anyone else that might come knocking."
The scarred Breton took the blade gratefully. "Oh, thank you so much, young man. Believe you me, I won't let it be happening again!"
Huh, young man...well, his mother always said he had a bit of a baby face. He wasn't going to complain about always looking twenty, though.
"I better go and find somewhere to hide for a little bit...she might be going to grab some friends. You'd better get going too! Stay safe, now!"
"You as well, ma'am. May the fortunes of Zenithar find you."
When he returned to the main street, Sagax found Piper staring at him, mouth agape. "Wow...you really laid that bitch out, huh?"
"I mean, I didn't do too much, I disarmed her..."
"You busted her face open against a wall."
"Well yeah, but-"
"You threatened to kill her if you saw her again."
"Ah! Wrong, dear sister! I just said if I saw her threaten someone again, she would be carried away on a stretcher. I never said I would do anything."
Piper shook her head, a light smile on her face. "Right. Well if you're done playing the Gray Fox, want to go walk the city a little bit? You know, just explore? It might take your mind off of...you know..." After a second of silence, she rebutted herself. "I-I mean we don't have to, Sagax...if you just want some time to yourself, I mean, I understand-"
"No, I think you're right, Piper. Let's go look around a bit. There's no reason for me to mope all day and night." Sagax put away his dagger and tried his best to put on a genuine smile, if only just for his sister. "Come on, I'll give you first pick of landmark. See anything interesting? I think I picked up a tourist brochure earlier, and it mentioned some kind of ancient sundial..."
With the painful memories of death behind them for a short while, Piper and Sagax wandered Jehanna, as siblings. It had unfortunately become incredibly rare that the two were able to just relax and talk to each other. Not about the war, not about politics or philsophy, but just small things. Which vendor had the better fried fish, how long did it take them to build that tower, why were there so many brothels. This was fleeting moment where they were able to just...talk. And enjoy what little quiet time they were afforded before the next storm.