The wind brushed the hair away from Alathea’s face as she leaned into the wind, one hand clinging to the gossamyr line that hung from the sails. The wind whistled through the lines. The scent of salt and brimstone wafted around her. She closed her eyes as the ship nudged its way closer to the edge of the world.
Talon scowled as he tied down the cannons before the plunge. “How does she do that?”
Matt glanced toward at Alathea. “What?”
“We’re facing death. Again. And she just takes it all in. Like she doesn’t have a care in the world.”
Matt shrugged as he knotted the line and moved on to secure a crate. “She doesn’t.”
“Not possible.” Talon glanced at his hands, red with burn marks from the ropes.
Matt crossed his arms and rested them on the crate, grinning at the younger man. “You really don’t get it, do you?”
“I get that we’re paid well to risk our lives. I get that it’s worth it. I’ll scream at Death’s face when she comes to get me and stick a dagger in her back to get away, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.” He shivered.
“She’s a paladin, Talon.”
“Yeah, and I’m a thief. You’re a loyal grunt. Look, there’s a reason that groups like us get together. We accomplish stuff.”
“No, that’s not what I’m talking about.”
The ship shuddered.
“Catravens sighted!” came the call from the crow’s nest.
Talon dropped the line and drew two daggers, his eyes to the skies. “Well, of course a murder of catravens found us. We’re about to dive off the edge of the world.”
Matt set down his line and drew two large, curved blades. “Look, she’s a paladin. She didn’t choose that profession because it comes with a lot of perks. She chose it because it’s true.”
“Yeah, obviously. I’ve seen the mystic mumbo jumbo she can pull off. Handy in a fight. Unless she’s trying to take me out. Again.” Talon spun a dagger in his hands and pointed. “There. I’m counting eleven… oh, an even dozen.”
Matt nodded. “Just enough to distract us from securing the cargo.”
The larger man sighed. “She doesn’t know fear because there’s no reason to fear. If you know that your God died for you and conquered death, if you know that he’s promised to raise you again, if you know that you’ll live forever… it means you can actually savor life without fear. Like now.”
Alathea swung on her gassamyr line, summersaulted through the air, and landed squarely on the deck. “We’re about to go over!” she sang. “Ready, boys?”
“Aye,” Matt responded.
Alathea raised her hands in an arcane symbol toward the catravens. “Should we take care of this vermin?”
The ship tipped sideways over the edge. The deck moaned as the world spun. Talon lost sight of the sky as he seized on one of the cords around the ship.
Alathea crouched on the deck. “Well, I guess we could just fall away from them instead!”
The ship tipped so the mast led the way down into the abyss.
Matt shouted over the wind, “And when her God loves her that much, not even hell itself can frighten her!”
Alathea’s joyous laughter accompanied them all the way down.
So I was thinking about Easter today…and had time to do a fifteen minute write. I kinda like these characters — the idea of a cheerful paladin is opposed to the standard fantasy trope. But if the paladin’s God truly cares that much… no need to be dour!
Thus begins The Graveyard at the Bottom of the World.