Chapter 10 - I Will Remember You

Lavinia was supported on either side by Tara and Amella who stopped after they were a few paces form the chapel. They took turns hugging and, as Amella held Lavinia, the crying slowed. However, Amella soon realized, somehow, that something was wrong, “What is it?” she asked, concerned.

Lavinia pulled back from her, slightly, but held her gaze over the ship captain’s shoulder. She didn’t point, but whispered, “There, behind you, near that building …”

Tara and Amella both turned and saw what Lavinia was seeing; a dark figure, that appeared to be watching them from the shadow of another building. Because the figure was, indeed, looking in their direction, and because the women’s attention was so obvious, the figure was alerted and it disappeared behind the building.

“Shall I go after …?” Tara began.

“No,” Amella stopped her, “It’s probably noting, but if it’s NOT, then it’s too dangerous for you to confront on your own.”

Lavinia had a far-off look and her voice came in a whisper, “I thought … it looked like … Adameus!”

Both of the other women looked at each other, then at Lavinia. It was Amella who spoke up though, “I understand why think that. When my husband died, I saw his face everywhere.”

Tara snapped her attention to Amella, “You were married?!”

Amella didn't particularly want to talk about herself, but knew it would help Lavinia if she did. While she told them her story of how she had married and lost the love of her life, she steered the other women in the direction of The Last Coconut. By the time the arrived and took a table, her sad story was complete.

Lavina put her hand on the ship captain's arm, compassionately, “Amella, I knew some of that, but I didn't know all if it. I'm so sorry.”

Amella sniffed hard to keep the tears from escaping and waved the mood away with the other hand, “Oh, it was a long time ago. You know, I've never shared that story with anyone else before tonight.” Then she paused and thought, “No, that's not true. There was one other … Adameus.”

“Really?” Lavinia expressed surprise and curiosity.

Amella nodded, “It was shortly after we launched from Sasserine. Most everyone who wasn't on deck was bunked down for the night. I was at the wheel, and he engaged me in conversation. I was certain he was there to make time with me – he certainly wouldn't be the first – and I didn't mind, because it's always good to have company to help keep you alert when you're at the pin. Besides, he wasn't a bad looking man. You know that,” she said to Lavinia, who blushed, “and I remember thinking that I might give him a tumble, just for fun.” Tara and Lavinia glanced at each other expressing discomfort with that thought.

Amella continued, “But it didn't take me long to realize that was not what he was after. He just wanted to talk. Well, really, to listen. He had this way of getting me to talk; about myself, my history, my … dreams…”

“He genuinely cared,” Lavinia explained.

Amella's eyes opened wide with realization, “Yes! That's it, exactly. I know better than to trust any man, but he didn't want anything from me. He just … lightened my load … and seemed to derive joy from that alone.”

“It seemed to me that, by showing compassion for others, he was seeking solace for himself,” Lavinia observed.

“He never touched me inappropriately, or looked at me with the hint of a leer,” Amella said, shaking her head, “which is more than I can say for most men. I'll admit, I was tarting to think he might be a fan of the theater.” At that, both Amella and Lavinia began to laugh, while Tara seemed confused. Amella smiled at her, “I thought the he … preferred the company of fellas?”

Tara thought about that for a moment and suddenly understanding showed on her face, and the three women began to laugh again.

“No, I never suspected that,” Tara said, “but we understood each other. We both spoke the language of the streets and we had a lot in common. As much as Viselys, Adameus accepted me as a friend. We used to laugh and joke and … in many ways, he was like the brother I never had. I often became tongue-tied when I tried to talk to Viselys, but like you said, Adameus was so easy to talk to. It WAS like talking to a brother. I knew I could always count on him to protect me, too. Some how I knew he would give his life for me…” a look something like horror came over her face as she realized what she was saying, and tears threatened to spill from her eyes.

Lavinia was quick to redirect the conversation to keep it light, “I guess I knew him longer than anyone on this island,” she said. “The first time we met, he was saving me from robbers. It turns out we had a lot in common, too. Both of us were estranged from a brother that we were trying to reconnect with. He reminded me so much of someone I had loved very much when I was in school. I think … I think he really wanted someone to share with. He was such a mystery to everyone he met, but he told me everything. I knew him, like nobody else, it seems, and in knowing him …” she stumbled over her words, “… I couldn't help but fall in love with him.”

Suddenly there was a Phoenix Down being placed in front of Lavinia, “Are we all telling stories about our lost friend?” Malfus asked. He was holding a tray of drinks and he placed another Phoenix down in front of Amella. His timing was too good, and it was clear that was rescuing Lavinia the way she had rescued Tara. “I have something to share, if I can join you ladies.”

All three offered some manor of verbal agreement and he sat, placing some kind of shot in front of himself and handing Tara a coconut with a bamboo straw and a paper umbrella.

He knocked back the shot, sniffed, and thought for a moment before he began, “I was just a kid myself at the time. It was the Shadow Shore and I was doing a poor job of making my way. I was pretty hungry, and hunger makes a man bold; bold and stupid. I wasn't thinking. I couldn't have messed up worse if I'd tied to. It was the middle of the day, the market was full of people and more than a few of those people were guards. So, when I tried to take that goose, I was nabbed before you could cry fowl.” Everyone chuckled politely at that. Malfus came out of his reverie confused, then realized he had made an unintentional funny, and laughed himself.

Then he continued, “I had two guards, one on each side of me, and the bird-monger taking the goose from me and shouting about pressing charges. I was sunk and still so hungry. Then, out of nowhere, this cloaked figure called down from a window ledge above, 'Not very sporting. Don't you know you're supposed to throw the little ones back?' We all looked up and there was this guy, like I said, in a cloak, and he had this sack thrown over his shoulder, clearly full of stuff. He held it up as if to say 'I got way more here than a goose.' Then, I don't know if he got tired of waiting for them to react, or if it was all planned, but he grabbed hold of a dangling rope – why does there always seem to be a dangling rope with no apparent purpose? - and he swung down, knocking one of the guards into the next cart, and then the other as he came back. I was free. He swung that bag of goodies is an arch and took the legs out from under the bird-monger, grabbing the goose from him as he did, and said something like 'Thanks,' before saying to me, 'Come on. This way.'

“I followed him at a run out of the market, over several tables, up a landing, over a fence and down a long alley. When we were sure the coast was clear, we stopped to catch our breath. I thanked him for the save and he handed me the goose. I thanked him again. Then he handed me the bag, which was filled with meat and cheese and bread and fruit. He said to me, 'You need it more than I do. Never pull a caper on an empty stomach.” Before I could protest or thank him again, he was gone, up and over the fence.”

Tara swallowed a sip of her drink, “Wow! And that was Adameus?”

Malfus shrugged, “I don't know. I asked around, and from the description, the only thing I could deduce was that it was most likely 'The Shadow.' I don't know if Adameus was this 'Shadow,' but someone did tell me that he was going by the name Idae at one time, and that literally translates as 'The Shadow' in elvish. It was too many years ago and I can't remember exactly what that kid looked like …”

“But it sure sounds like the kind of thing Adameus would do,” Lavinia chimed in.

Malfus nodded and stood up. Drinks are on the house tonight, ladies. Stay as late as you want.

Continue to Chapter 11...

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