123 Ashan 716"Wait for me!"
The last, late lights of Ashan warmed the earth, having long bleached the paths of stone and wood, and now the jeering of gulls reached across Ne'haer. Carried on the salt-sweet wind, their cries reached the ears of all on the docks.
"No! Hurry up!"
Laughter cut through the streets and alleys. Echoing footsteps and giggles resounded through the tight path that cut through to the open harbor. A corridor of salt-bathed stone opened up to a plaza. Down a narrow flight of stairs flew a young crowd, bottles in hand. As merchants turned in for the night, these youths flooded the streets and piers. Lanterns were lit in the homes as daylight died again and a voice cried out.
"Wait for me!"
And now only the loose rattling of boarded-up stands answered. A thin, boyish silhouette pitter-pattered down the narrow stair and out towards the docks, bottle in hand too. The plaza fountain glittered light a mirror in the last lights of the day made of melding golds and violets, capturing the rippled forms that ran past. Rea shined as the last of the cutters and galleons came into port fleeing dark skies, eager for a night's rest.
Gusts lifted gulls higher, their caws not yet ceasing, and brushed their airy fingers through the youths'
hair, loose garments flowing. Another cry. No response, save more yips and jeering. The harbor gates stood wide, though even the highest ramparts could not shield Ne'haer from the coming storm. The scent of chum and salt rolled in a bit further from the marinas in salty mists.
"Wait up," he pleaded through strained breaths.
It was a straight shot across the boardwalk to the inner west tower, and the great lighthouse was just over yonder being lit and fed in excess. The walk was dark and slippery as the drizzle turned into rain. The gull calls had quieted down, replaced by the shouting of Biqaj late to port. The high walls of the harbor gates overtook the last glimpses of the open bay. He came to the last stair that reached to height of the walls. The ramps and steps were slick with grease and water from the coming-and-going of today's shipments.
He made for the stair, but stopped to catch his breath. It was a wonder that such a lithe body could breathe so heavily. He looked up to the swirling skies above and deluge that it let forth, smiling. Lips sealed themselves and pulled tight into a smirk as a sense of chagrin came over him. How silly that he had fallen behind. He'd miss it. He began to hike the last stair, his feet squeaking into his shoes with each step. He reached the top when he saw his friends already gathered at the far end. He sprinted forward, catching himself as he slipped. All manner of hoots, hollers, and howls rang out from the edge of the gate's ledge, the guards kept safe in their towers. But no, not these wild hearts. They were strung at the edge of their world drinking, kissing, and shouting, drunk on all matters of means of things. Why not? They were young.
The last of them ran up into the thick stone walls and chords that peered out into the open harbor. A hand reached out and grabbed the back of his shirt, as if to catch him from going over. At once there was a barrage of yodels out to the sea and sky and laughter and drink and paling around all together. He took another swig, his bottle half empty as it was all the while, swallowed hard, and looked out to the rising waves.
Ay-ah, his voice swooped and yipped at the top of his lungs as if to compete with the crashing waves. The storm was pouring over them, the wind blowing through them.
"This is boring!"
"Then go home!"
"This is home!"
They were calm for a moment amidst the storm. Their eyes peered eagerly out to the open water.
"Well at least we'll all be clean."
"By the divine, you are so dull."
"You promised us lightning and thunder. If I wanted a little water, I'd have just taken a surf."
"You still can if you want to…"
"Hey, hey! Stop! The rocks!"
They laughed some more, a Biqaj body, molded by the sea, pulling himself back a bit from the edge and advanced back again. Five bodies in total, they rested on the ledge, their hands rested over the mouths if their bottles.
"You know," she said, "I could leap down there right now and just float. I love being carried by the waves."
"You'd be sleeping with the Mer."
"Like she doesn't all ready…"
"It'd be more than they get…"
"What are you grinning at, Ilied? Huh? Maybe you want to go for a swim too!"
"Knock it off, you're scaring him."
"Don't mention it-did you see?! Ilied, did you see it?" Lightning and thunder rippled across the sky only to be drowned out by the yelping once more. Ilaren's every strike fell short of the energy exuded. Drunken howls left their mouths, only to be filled with brine as the tide crashed into the walls and crashed over them. With hands firm on their bottles, they slipped away from the edge of the wall against the surging waters as the taste of sea salt filled their faces. Shouts echoed in the harbor again as this pack came together and sprinted off again. They moved slower in the rain, such that Ilied kept up much easier with his Biqaj counterparts as they moved towards the dry docks.
"Come on, Ilied," she shouted back towards him.
And yet somehow he felt he would not go. The sea called to him through the last opening of the lake before the lighthouse blocked off the expanse. He moved to the wall and looked out, then down at the jagged rocks. Serenity washed over him and he gripped hard on the rope.
"Ilied," she cried, grabbing him, before pulling him along. He flashed a smile, laughed, and followed after as the pack sought some shelter from this storm.