Hello lovely readers! If it's been a while or you're new here & you'd like a refresher on The Called, visit Today I am Remora or Today I am Daedal. But don't feel obligated- immortals really don't feel the need for a timeline, so neither should you.
“Gods BELLS it is cold!”
“…where are we?”
“More like when are we?”
“The next one to say something useless gets knocked the fuck off this mountain.”
It was godsdamn cold. I didn’t know where or when we were, but cliché questions get under my skin. We arrived together onto what looked like a lesser peak of a wintery mountain range. So we all had the same information, and judging by how fast those dark clouds were moving, we had more important issues than the timeline.
“Is everyone still in one piece?” I cared more about McKoi and Genile but I was looking at Fendoialin. The old wizard was more hunched than usual, wrapped up in his gray robes and pulling a familiar plum scarf around his head. I had no idea how old his bones were, but a snowstorm couldn’t be good for them. To his credit though, he looked up at me and gave a sturdy nod.
“I’m not sure I would call this one piece.” McKoi’s pack had gotten blow open in the shift from the entrance site to the mountain. He was attempting to gather the journals, med wraps, and random weapons back into his bag.
“Not what I meant, private. Stuff aside- anything broken?”
I pulled my feet out of the snow and ran across it to Genile, but where I though she was clutching a shattered elbow or radius, she was cooing over a broken telescope.
“It can see over curve, sergeant! I had to fight a siren for this!”
“I meant YOU, you miserable lot! Is anyone here in PAIN or unable to move due to a bodily injury that needs healing in the CURRENT moment?!”
Fendoialin grunted and shook his head.
“Sergeant-” McKoi was looking upwards.
“Yes, I saw the clouds, we gotta get off this mountain quick as we can.”
“But your gem,” Private Genile started, “and the tree sent us up here.”
I hefted my pack from one shoulder to the other, taking Fendoialin’s off his back, (the hell is in here? heavy as a boulder!) experiencing no protest from him for the first time in a century. “I don’t care. We can’t hunt for a Champion if we’re frozen to death.”
“We can’t exactly-”
“OKAY,” I rounded on Genile, “we can’t hunt a Champion if we’re frozen ALIVE either. Better, Private?!”
I held her stare until she looked down at her feet and gave me an apologetic, “Yes, Sergeant.”
“We could make a little ice hut,” McKoi offered, “dig into the mountain-”
“So you know what range this is, McKoi?” I dropped both packs to the ground so I could stand at my full height, even if it was still a few inches below his.
“Then you don’t know the season. The chances for avalanche. The local fauna, and if it wants to eat us. We go down the mountain until the storm has passed. And if anyone speaks again while my feet are still on snow, I rip their jaw off and don’t put it back on until I feel like it.”
Several breaths passed. I waited to make sure there were no further responses. Then closing my eyes, felt for North, felt for the way down, hefted the packs, and started walking.
It was moments like these, when my neck was hot from anger and embarrassment, that all my centuries of age felt like nothing, and I was young and inexperienced again. As if I hadn’t earned my stripes over and over again. And I couldn’t get Captain’s voice outta my head.
“They’ll follow you blindly when it matters.”
The day had ended with a particularly unpleasant fight with some hadishuns, and many of the Called had taken tough hits that would heal slowly. We’d told the entire crew to take the night, sleep it off, and we would be the night watch ourselves. It was rather nice the few times the Captain and I got a moment alone to speak without a private near by.
“Sometimes they still speak back to me, Captain. How do you do it? There’s not a peep when you give an order.”
Captain Collins lifted her brow at me.
“Okay well, Jones talks a lot, but we still always do what you say.”
The Captain took a long drag from her pipe, and it made her look so old and wise in her unwrinkled face, that for a second I could imagine her in a different place, in a normal life, and I wondered if she missed it.
“Well your leadership training isn’t really complete. And you know it. And since you know it, they can smell that on you.”
I laughed, “Oh good, a smelly sergeant. And when do ya think my training is going to be over?”
She winked, “When you’re the Captain.”
Direction (noun): 1. A course along which someone or something moves. 2. The management or guidance of someone or something.
What I wouldn’t do for Jack Sparrow’s compass sometimes, ya know? If you’ve seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you know it doesn’t just point North. And sometimes, we’re more than a little lost.
Sergeant Teak is a lot lost. On the top of mountain, with no bearings, and even the meekest of The Called are challenging her commands. It’s not a great place to not be able to spot the North star.
I think in times like our world is going through now, it’s hard to feel like we’ve got direction even while on a defined path. We feel like Jack Sparrow when the compass is spinning wildly (what do I even want?) and Sergant Teak on the top of a mark-less mountain (and where they hell am I?).
I don’t have the answer. I’m walking along, myself. But I think Sergeant Teak is right about one thing- you can always rejoin the path after rest. When you’ve settled, when you look down at your compass, and it’s stopped spinning- pointing one way and you’re ready to go again.
Happy travels, lovely readers. Maybe the skies always be clear when you need direction.