The motion of the ship awakened me; I feel I am familiar with this motion, though its rhythm is not one I have been used to for some time. It sets my footwork slightly off as I go through the motions of my school’s training. The salty air stings skin as I move, my shirt lying on the deck wet from sea spray.
I move through guard, thrust, cross-blade, and feint, my body’s memory serving where my mind’s is lacking. Though the monks did their job well, my new scars are still tight and my practice seems affected. The fancy Vodacce who calls himself Enzo Falisci seemed impressed enough with my practice while sparring with his man Vinezio, but I see where I am weak.
I am aboard this ship because I rushed in to protect the beautiful Lee Seul Ki from the threat of brutish fiends upon the docks of San Christobal, and because I rushed to the defense of a fellow Montaigne in the bar we later found ourselves in. The Inquisition was probably ready to hang us all, or worse, after that. At least the barkeep was happy—the purse I lifted from the man so unceremoniously butchered by the dancer Samirah seemed to cover whatever damages we had inflicted upon the place.
We were also joined aboard this ship by a jovial Castillian guitarist who introduced himself as Rafael Felipe Ortega and a quiet hulk of an Eisen named Alexander. The crew itself seems a mixed lot, but competent. We were out of the docks of San Christobal in minutes, with agents of the Inquisition upon our heels, so to speak.
A twist came when it was discovered that the Crescent merchant who was Samirah’s master had set his assistant to stealing a sword of some renown some time in their travels. My countryman, whose defense I had leapt to, proved to be a spy for a man named Villanova. We were all assured by Enzo that this man Villanova was no one to be trifled with in his homeland.
My regrets are two-fold, here—I never got to find who I was looking for in San Christobal, and now it seems that I might have to kill a countryman. Enzo offered his employ as a swordsman, and took me into his confidence. He means to take the sword by force, in order to present it to this Villanova personally. I assured him that I am no thug, I am a man of honor. Of this I know with a certainty, regardless of the cloud cast over my memories by a bullet.
However, Enzo wants me to challenge this fellow to a duel. WIth luck, I might just be able to land this Villanova’s blade at the Vodacce lord’s feet.
I sheathe my blades, and sit beside the mast to take in a draught of water. Sweat from my efforts rolls down my face and chest, which seem to be taking well to all of this sun. I wipe it away with my shirt, and reach into my money belt (newly-weighted by Vodacce money) to retrieve the fragment of a letter that I’ve looked at so many times since I left the company of the monks.
How I’ve missed you! It seems so long since we laughed in the garden together! I only wish that now, during this time of war, we’d spent more time together. I fear for you. Perhaps someday soon we will see each other again, I hold onto hope. I will soon be going to San-
Here, the ink is blurred from water, and unreadable. But below this section is a very well-lettered signature.
The monks said it was upon my person when they found me. This is the reason I know at least my name. Everything else I might have known seems so far away. Lost in the tides of battle, and the roar of a gunshot—a gunshot that came from behind me.
Something is locked within those lost memories. I am driven to find out what. But now, with our sudden flight, I fear I will never know for certain who Paulette is, or whether San Christobal was her destination. But I do know that I’ve found some companions to share my path, and I am willing to commit myself to assisting with their own journeys in whatever small ways I can.
I tuck away the remnants of the letter, my hand moving to the familiar pommel of my sword, fingers tracing along the stained leather of the hilt.
This is all I really have left now that I am sure of. Memories of steel.