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Black Water, Take Over

Chapter Text

Growing up, Jester only had one friend.

His name was Fjord. Fjord was a half-orc who lived in Port Damali, but they met when he was in Nicodranas, helping his adopted father move cargo. Vandren had rescued Fjord from an orphanage, alongside his friend Sabien. While still young, the boys helped their father on the ship, but only sometimes.

It was during one such occasion Fjord and Jester met.

They quickly became friends, and although they very rarely got to meet, they felt like they had know one another forever. Letters were written and sent almost daily, and it didn’t matter if they had anything to write about ot not. The important part was that they did. Vandren would bring the letters with him when he traveled between Nicodranas and Port Damali, and when Sabien came along but Fjord didn’t, the boy would deliver the letters.

Years went by like this.

Jester’s letters were filled with small drawings that became more elaborate and detailed as time went on. Fjord would tell her about what he saw on their voyages, tell her about learning to navigate by the stars and tying various knots. About how peaceful life at sea is.

Until one day, Vandren’s ship was attacked. Fjord and Sabien were both on it, on their way to Nicodranas. Jester didn’t find out for a long time, and the only thing that hinted at something having occurred was the sudden stop of letters. No one came to collect hers. None came to deliver any to her.

When she found out, Jester was heartbroken.

For days she stayed in her room, not eating, staring out the window in hopes that someone would come to the door with news. Or that Fjord would show up himself. She continued to write to him, the stack of letters becoming a mound.

Eventually, Jester had to give up.

When more than a year had passed, she knew she would never see him again. As an act of cleansing, Jester burned all the letters, knowing Fjord would never read them. Seeing them only caused her immeasurable grief anyway.

She started to get better.

Returning to her former self was hard, because Fjord and their exchange of letters had been such a large part of her life for so long that Jester almost didn’t remember what she had been up to before. Then a creature, a God of trickery and mischief, appeared and he changed her life.

It caused her to flee.

But Jester doesn’t regret the prank that lead her here, to a group of friends. There is Nott and Caleb, Beau and Caduceus, Yasha and Molly. Jester is happy again, no longer alone in the large house with only her mother and the staff for seldom company. She gets to see the world.

Not a day goes by that she doesn’t miss Fjord terribly.

Sometimes she catches herself writing to him, a habit still after all this time. She wonders what he would look like now. If maybe he would have let his tusks grow out. What he would sound like. If he would be big and strong from working on the ship and hauling cargo.

Jester would very much like to see her first friend again.

----

Fjord had been looking forward to seeing his friend again.

It had been too many months since last, and they were both in the part of their lives where they grew and changed rapidly. It left him eager to see how much she had changed in contrast to him, because Fjord knew they matured at a different rate.

He never made it.

Their ship was set upon by pirates. He tried his best to fight, to help Vandren and Sabien and the rest of the crew protect their ship and cargo. To make sure they’d make it back to land again. Back to Jester.

Fjord is knocked back, thrown by a blast of magic and everything goes black.

The young man wakes up. He doesn’t know where he is. Doesn’t know who he is. All he sees are the bars of a cell and wooden planks all around. He can hear the gulls and smell the seas. Why am I here? Who am I?

His mind offers no clue.

Turning his head to the side, he sees another person, a half-elf, in the same cell as him. He doesn’t know who he is, and when he asks, he gets a confused and hurt look in return. He doesn’t know why it bothers him, but he’s not allowed to consider it before someone enters the room and unlocks the cell.

They are brought out into daylight.

It seems they’re on land, but the port looks shabby, worn, dingy. It unnerves him. They are brought before the Plank King. The other one offers his name, but he himself doesn’t know his. The other one tells him his name is Fjord and that they are brothers.

Fjord doesn’t believe him.

And so they become part of the island. Part of the pirates who make their homes here. Brought onto ships when they’re old enough. Fjord is taken on first, older than the other one, Sabien, because of his orc blood.

The years go on.

Fjord makes a life for himself, with Sabien always at his back. They fight well together, wielding magic and weapons. Both rise through the ranks by fighting, cheating, killing. Fjord becomes the next Plank King and Sabien is there, at his side, as always.

It’s a life of luxury.

Fjord gets everything he wants. He only needs to point at a person, and they’ll be in his quarters that night. His quarters are expensively decorated in hues of blue and green with hints of purple. Most common is the colour of the ocean. The pieces of furniture are all dark and heavy and sturdy; taken from merchant ships they’ve robbed through the years.

And all of it, all on the island, belongs to him. To Captain Tusktooth.

Chapter Text

Jester plays a prank and it goes too far.

She runs. First into Beau, then runs into a circus. They see that she’s strong and let her join them so that she can help them set up. Jester thinks it’s because of Molly, and so she makes sure to thank him in every way possible. It takes a long time before she finds out it was mainly because of Yasha that she was accepted.

Beau just tags along, not a part of the circus, but not apart from them either.

It’s not her thing, she says, but she’ll still join them for meals and talk with Jester while looking at Yasha. Molly and Beau get on quickly, like siblings who just reconnected, and Jester doesn’t understand the feeling because it’s only ever been her and mama.

And Fjord.

Jester learns Sending, and she begins to send messages to Fjord as she’s about to go to sleep. She sneaks away from camp, unaware that Beau keeps an eye on her, staying close enough it case something happens but not so close that she hears the words.

She can only send one message a day.

“Hi Fjord. It’s Jester. I know they say you’re dead and I haven’t heard from you in a long time so it must be true.” A second message follows the night after. “I miss you. You were my only friend. I have new friends now, but it’s not the same. I miss reading your letters.”

There are never any replies.

The circus arrives in Trostenwald and Jester joins Molly and Yasha to bring in an audience for the night’s show. Beau tags along because she has nothing better to do. They end up talking with a filthy man and his halfling friend. His friend turns out to be a goblin, but Jester doesn’t care.

She comes to like Nott really fast.

Caleb seems nice too, but Jester has a hard time of getting him to talk, so she talks with Nott, convinces them to come see their performance that night. Promises to save them the best seats if they do. She hopes they’ll come, because they really do look like they’ll need something fun to happen.

It doesn’t, of course.

The performance goes to shit and they’re left having to sort the trouble. Jester may have only joined them, but she feels she knows them well enough to know they did not plan for anything like this. People died in front of her and it was really scary but she also helped others.

She feels the warm approval of The Traveler wash over her.

It’s the first time she’s felt it for something other than a prank, and Jester wonders if maybe this is what she’s supposed to be doing. So she gathers her group of friends, now grown larger with the addition of a human and a goblin, and they save the town.

They’re a group now, and Jester feels happier than she’s done in years.

She sends another message that night. “I have two more friends now. I think you would like them. Well, not Frumpkin, he is a cat and I know you are allergic.” For a moment Jester thinks she received a reply but then Beau grunts in her sleep and Jester realizes that must have been the source of the surprised choking sound she heard.

Leaving Trostenwald behind, they arrive in Alfield.

They see the smoke and flames before they hear the screams of terror and the terrifying howls that accompany them. It takes them mere seconds to join the fray, and Jester once again feels pride wash through her as they help the guard kill and chase away their attackers. Gnolls, they call them.

All of them knows they can’t leave the town like this, and so they prepare to take care of the rest of them.

While rescuing people inside the mines, they gain another friend and temporary ally in the form of Shakäste, a blind man with stark white hair and a hummingbird who acts as his eyes and ears. Jester thinks he reminds her of Caleb with Frumpkin in that way.

Jester knows she’s not the only one grateful for another spellcaster.

It’s a hard battle against the manticore and her baby, but they make it. Knowing they had to do it to ensure the survival of the villagers, Jester still feels sad about killing the baby manticore. Her thoughts goes unbidden to her own mother, imagining her mama’s grief if someone had entered their home and attacked Jester herself.

This is not the time however.

She finishes collecting the gnoll ears in her jar and the others cut off the head of the manticore. It’s a gruesome job. The blood mingles with the scent of burned flesh and Jester makes a note to see if Caleb is okay once they’re back in town. As Molly had said, this is not the place nor time for it.

They help Shakästa free the rest of the captives and help them on their way. Jester wishes he could stay with them, that they didn’t have to say goodbye. She likes the man already, wants to listen to him tell stories for days and days.

Jester knows they need the money, and yet she feels bad about tricking the lawmaster of Alfield, a nice person named Bryce, into accepting hyena ears as gnoll ears. They do accept it though, and Jester clutches the bag of money, hoping it was worth it. She knows the town needs money for repairs, but the Mighty Nein needs money themselves if they are to survive.

She looks at Caleb, at how skinny the man is and vows to get him some pastries in the next town.

Some days later they find themselves in Zadash.

There they meet Caduceus Clay, who says his Goddess, the Wildmother, wanted him to travel south, because he would find someone who needed him. It turns out She was right, and their group grows bigger yet again. Yasha leaves and comes back, somehow always managing to find them.

Jester suspect not even Yasha herself knows how she does it.

They find the Gentleman, using the letter Beau stole in Trostenwald. When they enter his lair, a tabaxi approaches, clinging to Molly and calling him Lucien. They are all confused at this, and they only learn later that Molly only claimed to remember the tabaxi as well, as it turns out Molly has only been Mollymauk Tealeaf for two years. Jester still cares for him, as a friend and brother. Waking up in the ground with no memory and not being able to speak sounds awful indeed.

Jester is glad to no longer be the only healer, especially when they end up working for The Gentleman, and he sends them into the sewers. It’s not the kind of adventures Jester longed for as a child, and while they do save lives by killing the creatures down there, she doesn't feel the satisfaction and pride of helping people in small towns.

This, this is to help a criminal organisation smuggle items and people.

She wonders what Fjord would think of it all, were he still alive and here with them. With her. Would he approve of them doing this? Or would he insist they go to the lawmaster and tell them of the hideout?

Jester knows it’s futile to even consider it.

Still, she sends him one more message when she’s alone at the Pillowthrow. Reassured by the presence of the Traveler just minutes before, she moves her hands and whispers under her breath.

“Hi Fjord. It’s Jester. Again. I hope you’re good, wherever you are. I miss you, you know. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”

Who the fuck are you ?!” an angry voice rings inside her head, and Jester is startled. She almost falls off the bed, barely catching herself in time.

“Fjord?!” It’s too late, the spell ended and she can’t sent another message today, not until after she’s slept.

She’s never slept this poorly before.
The bed is lush, the linens almost as good as those back home in her room. But it’s not homesickness that keeps Jester awake. It’s the possibility that Fjord might be awake. Surely the Traveler would never pull such a prank on her? She’s sure he knows her well enough not to pretend to be the voice of her long-lost, dead friend.

But Fjord is dead!

Right?

Chapter Text

One day, Fjord starts to hear a voice in his head.

It’s a woman who calls herself Jester, and the messages she sends makes it seem as though she knows him. But he doesn’t know her. There is nothing about her voice or name that sounds even remotely familiar to him.
But Fjord knows something about this spell, knows partly how it works; that it can only be sent to someone the sender has met.

He supposes he might have met her, once.

Aboard a ship, maybe, back before he became the Plank King. Back when he was the feared Captain Tusktooth. But he’s never given his name to anyone, just his title. And this woman, this Jester, uses his name. He doesn’t know what to think of that.

Worse, she once said everyone claimed that he’s dead.

And he especially doesn’t know what to think about that fact. But he knows there are memories missing, from before he and Sabien was taken to Darktow, before they became pirates.

Fjord has never admitted to anyone that he doesn’t believe what Sabien’s told him of their life before this; that they were orphans who grew up together, that they were like brothers in every way but blood. That they were stowaways on that ship, having snuck aboard to leave the town they came from in search of a better life. That no one had ever cared for them, or sheltered them or fed them.

Fjord himself might not remember anything from his life before, but his body does.

His body remembers how to tie knots and how to sail under the stars. His instincts helps him in a storm, and his feet are ever steady on the deck. That is how he rises quickly through the ranks, much quicker than Sabien.
And he knows Sabien lies about their upbringing, because they were both too fit and not nearly skinny enough to have been orphans who had to scavenge for food.

Sabien has offered no explanation for any of that.

Fjord became the first mate, then Captain Tusktooth, and in the end, Captain Tusktooth became Plank King of Darktow. His word is law. What the Plank King wants, the Plank King gets.

His quarters are built into the stone that makes up a large portion of the island. A natural cavern used for storage by the first settlers of the town, it has been expanded upon,  opened up and it now has more than two secret exits.
The bed is large enough to accommodate several people at once, should he so wish, made of dark, sturdy wood.
The stone floor is barely visible from underneath all the carpets that cover it. The walls are smooth and straight enough for several paintings and tapestries to decorate them.

There are mounds of pillows and a deep, comfortable chair, a small table where he can dine in peace and a desk made from the same wood as the bed. Inside the walls are small openings that hold magic fire that cast a warm glow throughout the room.

It should feel oppressive, but it doesn’t.

Especially not now, when he lies on his back on the bed as Captain Avantika rides him.
There are no feelings involved in this, and whatever it is that goes on between them won’t benefit either of them except for in the moment.
Oh, Fjord suspects Avantika has her reasons for fucking him, hoping to climb the ranks, hoping that he’ll let her get away with things no one - not even Fjord himself - can get away with.

But having her here like this has its benefits.

They’re both hungry for power, with an inborn need to show others just how strong they are. They both worship the same deity, Uk’otoa, a sea serpent locked away ages and ages ago. Uk’otoa is Fjord’s patron, the one who provides him with his powers, along with the promise of much more should they free him.

Fjord knows he can’t trust Avantika.

They’re both pirates after all, and their rules only count on Darktow, not on the open waters. So while they both are committed to working together to free Uk’otoa, Fjord is prepared for Avantika to try to kill him so she can have all the power to herself.
He suspects that she believes she’ll lull him into a false sense of security by offering her body for his pleasure, but it won’t work.

Besides, he's not the only one to gain pleasure from this.

Above him, Avantika’s movements are erratic, desperate. A telltale sign she is close to her orgasm. But Fjord isn’t, and he’ll not allow her to leave until he too comes. So he moves, swift as a coiled snake, so that Avantika is now on her back and he pins her hands above her head as he drives into her, relentless, not caring if he hurts her.

Then again, based on the sounds now coming from her, it doesn’t seem like Avantika minds at all.

“You fucking like that, don’t you?” he says, slamming into her again and again. “Want me to use you, to fuck you until you can’t walk, so that everyone knows what you’ve been up to.”

She's bent in two now, her body so pliable, there for his pleasure. He slaps her ass with his free hand, then moves his hand to pinch a nipple. Avantika’s back arches as she cries out. She looks wrecked, and had Fjord cared about her at all, he would have started rubbing her clit to make her come.

“Gods, you’re such a fucking slut. So wet and loose. Could take more than just my cock”

He's growling now, he knows it, and for a brief moment there’s a hint of fear in Avantika’s eyes, before he pinches her other nipple and she closes her eyes in pleasure. Good, Fjord thinks. You should fear me.
Avantika comes then, and as she clenches around him, Fjord almost does so as well, surrounded by the wet heat of her.
And still he doesn’t let up his movements, instead continuing, chasing his own orgasm. He sees Avantika on the verge of tears for being so sensitive.

I have two more friends now. I think you would like them. Well, not Frumpkin, he is a cat and I know you are allergic.”

The words appear in his mind, in that unfamiliar voice again. It catches him off guard, and he grunts, then comes, buried inside Avantika but with that soft, sweet voice ringing through his head, so unlike any he has heard on his island.

---

Hi Fjord. It’s Jester. Again. I hope you’re good, wherever you are. I miss you, you know. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”

This time, when the voice comes, he's alone. Disappointed by the lack of recent loot and frustrated that his dreams are now filled with that voice, mixed with sapphire blue, jellyfish and sunflowers, Fjord’s answer is angry.

“Who the fuck are you?” he growls, making sure this Jester will know exactly what he thinks of all this.

Silence, then. No reply, no explanation. Fjord knows more, now, about this spell, knows about the limits to casting it based on how much the caster knows and how strong they are, knows that there is a limit to the words in each message.

Fjord will not admit so, but he's filled with curiosity at this woman who appears to know him, seems to care for him. No one cares for him, not as a person. Oh, Sabien might claim to do so, but Fjord knows it’s only because of his own position. Had their roles been reversed, Fjord is sure he would not have been Sabien’s right-hand man, as Sabien is his now.

Not that Sabien would ever have been able to become a Captain, and certainly not the Plank King.

Sabien might believe he is using Fjord, but that is only because Fjord lets him think as much. Just as Avantika thinks fucking him means she’s somehow better that everyone else, so does Sabien think that Fjord will provide him with leeway and help him should he break one - or more - of the few, simple rules of Darktow.

But Fjord knows better than them, and were they to even attempt to break a rule, Fjord would make sure their punishment would be worse than that of any other pirate.

A head on a pike would be too easy. Torture, first. Tied to posts in the water, bloodied meat thrown in to attract predators. No clothes to protect them from the sun or the salty water that will dry out their skin. He has had a lot of time to think about the methods he will use the day they inevitably betray him.

There’s a knock on his door which disrupts his thoughts.

“Enter,” Fjord says, and Jamedi Cosko opens the door. “I assume you have news for me?”
“Yes, Captain. The temple seems to be on the island of Urukaxl, in a town guarded by some yuan-ti.”
“Good. And you have told Captain Avantika of this as well?”
“I have.”

Fjord nods his approval and picks up a pouch of coin.

“Here,” he says, throwing it to Jamedi. “Be sure to tell me of her plans. I have no doubt she will let you know more than me, if she even deigns to tell me anything before she leaves. I’m sure she’ll have you with her on the ship in any case. She may be hungry for power, but she's also a coward who prefers to have others do the job for her.”
“Very well, Captain.”

Once the door is closed behind Jamedi, Fjord leans back in his chair.

The first of three temples, at last within their grasp.
Having received word of one orb being in the Empire, Fjord had hired men to obtain it for him. They sent word that they had gotten hold of it and that it was on its way. But then weeks went by and Fjord heard nothing, so he continued the search elsewhere.

At last.

But if Avantika is the one to return the orb to its rightful place, she is the one who will get the boon promised by Uk’otoa. And Fjord cannot accept that. If she gains this boon, no matter what it is, it will give her advantage over him when it comes to returning the second one, and then the third one.

There is one other clue to follow, and if that proves to be right, then he will not only obtain the second orb soon, but be able to place it in its temple within days.

“Sabien!” Fjord calls as he leaves his quarters. “Bring me that man who says he knows where our ship was sunk.”

Chapter Text

There is a festival in Zadash.

All of them go out and try various games and eat food and get drinks. They then end up fighting in an arena - and they win! Once again The Traveler’s approval of her skill washes over Jester and she feels elated, happier than she has in a long time.

Then Zadash turns to chaos.

So much goes on that Jester doesn’t know where to start. They tried - and failed - to get information from a hospital, then set fire to a house and barely got out alive, killing people in the process when they were supposed to just sneak in.

They have to go back to the Gentleman to ask him for help to smuggle someone out of the city.

Then they find a drow in the sewers and have to fight him, but they don’t kill him. Instead they take his strange orb-like thing (Caleb says it’s a dodecahedron, whatever that means) and despite them leaving the drow alive, the guards in the city kill him.  

---

The Gentleman sends them north, to a hideout in the swamps.

Their job is to find out what happened at the safehouse and to secure it for further use. It’s a drab and dreary place, wet with towering dead trees - but they find a friend, in the shape of a bird the size of a child who says her name is Kiri.

Kiri was almost killed by a large, scaly beast but they managed to save her.

Jester loves her instantly. The way she mimics their voices and how she looks ready to fight despite having almost just been eaten.

The inn they stay at appears to be more like a treehouse at first. It is so very different from where they’ve stayed before, and the rooms are below, not above. Jester’s impression sours when they enter the rooms to find the floors have some inches of water covering them. Then again, this is a swamp.

Inside the inn is the man who knows where the safehouse is and he is supposed to lead them there. Jester hopes she will never see Fabron again after this; the looks he is sending towards Yasha makes her uncomfortable.

But more importantly, they meet yet another new friend as they are about to leave. Her name is Calianna, and Jester knows instantly that the two of them will be the best of friends. Not like her and Nott, because no one can ever replace Nott, but Cali seems so sweet.

---

Even before they enter the safehouse, they see signs of fighting. Jester casts a spell so they can talk to one of the corpses. It calls their attackers swamp men.

She gets her wish when it comes to Fabron, as their contact is taken by the troll that stalks the swamps, and as they fight and hurt it, the creature’s skin secreting poison with each hit.

Jester will not miss Fabron.

They find their way in, and before long they end up fighting the swamp men, who look like the nightmare version of mermen.
Knowing that killing only the ones in this room will not be enough, they know they will need to venture through the underwater tunnel.

But before that, they find the item Cali was after.

It makes Caleb and Beau fight, and Jester finds the situation uncomfortable. She trusts Cali, but she also trusts Caleb, and Beau, and she thinks they are all right in their own way. Caleb is the one who knows the most about magical objects, and so Jester can understand why he is upset, and would rather that Cali not have the bowl, because if the ones who raised her gets their hands on it, well...

Cali leaves, but not before the two of them promise to write to one another.

While Jester won’t say anything, it does hurt. The first and last person she exchanged letters with was Fjord and she lost him. So who is to say she will not also lose Calianna?
She tries not to let the memories of Fjord flood her, but it is impossible to stop the onslaught. Still, Jester is used to acting happy and as if nothing has happened, so she does what she does best. She pretends to be fine, so she can bring joy to others.

They rest inside the safehouse, assured that the alarm set by Caleb will wake them if some more of the mercreatures tries to attack them.

Caleb wakes from the spell and wakes the others. Jester is already awake with Nott, and so the pair of them wakes the others but let Kiri sleep. Caleb sends Frumpkin in to investigate after they kill the creature that appeared.

Nott stays behind due to her fear of water. Jester wishes Nott would come with them, but understands her fear of water.

On the other side, they fight more of the creatures, and Jester fears several times that they will die, until Nott gathers the courage to come help them, making them victorious in the end.

Upon exploring the cavern, they find a raised section. Atop it, a small pool.

In the small pool, they find a strange orb.

It’s yellow and with a cleft in it that makes it look like the eye of a cat. Or like Nott’s, as though the slit is the narrow pupil.

They decide to to take the orb for themselves, and if the Gentleman asks, they will tell the first part of the truth; that the creatures down there had raided the place and taken everything. It is not an outright lie, just part of a truth, because the creatures had stolen all that was there.

Jester sends a message to the Gentleman to let him know they have secured the safehouse, and since they have completed their task with several days to spare, they decide to go to Hupperdook, to find out if it really is like Jester imagines.

It is, and it is not.

She is right about the parties. Not about the mushrooms, but that is okay. There is much to do in the city; they make new friends, help a father and daughter reconnect, save a couple from prison so that their children will not have to survive on their own, and they are thankfully willing to care for Kiri.

Jester will miss Kiri terribly, but she knows this will be a much safer place for her.

---

After the response the last time she tried to contact Fjord, Jester stopped trying to reach him.

It left her terribly confused, and the anger in his reply is not something she wishes to hear again.
So she saves her messages for her mother, and then for Kiri. Jester knows she could also contact Cali this way, but she has so much to tell her new friend - about her life before they met and all that occured after, that she would rather send letters.

Despite her memories of Fjord, Jester finds comfort in putting words on paper; it also allows her to add drawings, which always makes her happy. So she draws Kiri and Cali, herself killing a mercreature, draws people living in large mushrooms.

She does not draw the orb.

---

They return to Zadash and the Gentleman, collecting their reward.

Then Yasha gets a vision, and this time she tells them about it. So they all journey south: back home, back to mama and to the familiar comfort of home. At the border the war becomes more evident, as there are more guards and they search their belongings.
The guards do not find the orb nor the dodecahedron.

They stay at the Lavish Chateau for a few days, and only then does Jester realise how much she missed her mama and how lonely she’s truly been these past weeks, ever since she left, despite her friends.

It feels so good to be near the ocean again.

Jester hadn’t thought much of it, but being back in warmer climate, being able to go for a swim in the ocean as the gulls cry above and try to steal their food. She even manages to get Nott to join her in the water, and Jester feels happier than she has in a long, long time.

Now she feels truly free and elated again, no mask or front put up to make it seem so.

---

They hire a ship, thanks to one of her mother’s clients.

Jester doesn’t know what it is Yasha is looking for, but they are friends, and Jester hopes Yasha will stay with them for longer because of this. She likes the silent woman, knows Beau does too, and she wants to get to know Yasha better.

---

There is a storm on the horizon.

Yasha seems thrilled at the prospect of it, despite it barely showing on her features.
But it is still a good distance from them, and before they reach it, they are attacked by a ship by the name of The Squall Eater.

The captain of the ship is an elven woman named Avantika, and Jester feels a great dislike the instant she steps aboard their ship.

Avantika searches through their things, and when she finds the orb, Jester’s heart stops for a moment; the look on Avantika’s face tells Jester that the Captain should never have been able to lay her eyes nor hands on this. But it is far too late to do something about it now.

They are taken prisoners, sailing together to what becomes apparent is their stronghold.

The Captain brings them ashore, then throws them all in prison, saying their judgement will come once the Plank King returns from his journey. Avantika does not know how long it will take, and Jester sees it clearly upon her face that she does not care at all, that she would rather watch them all rot away before they face a trial.

---

Jester has lost track of days when there is a big commotion.

The doors to their cells open then, and one of Avantika’s crew members appear to bring them before the King.
Her heart thundering in her chest, Jester tries to walk with her head held high. They have done nothing wrong, any of them, and as the daughter of The Ruby of the Sea, Jester has learnt some tricks to deal with men. She’s not tried them, but it’s now or never. 

They are brought before a throne, the figure upon it cloaked in shadow.

And then the Plank King leans forward.

Chapter Text

It takes time to gather the crew for the next expedition as Fjord needs more magic users. It means he has to send out some of the few that are on the island to help capture more, and it takes them a while, but at last they set sail for the location of their shipwreck.

Fjord feels nothing as they go below the water and find the remains of the ship. It holds nothing for him, so he turns away and leads his crew to search for the underwater cave that is supposed to be in this area.

The seabed is littered in wrecks; he doesn’t bother to check them out either. Fjord has a feeling that anything of worth won’t be there anymore.

At last, they find a dip in the landscape and the opening of a cave. It looks like the mouth of a giant creature, and Fjord can hear some of his crew muttering worriedly behind him. He won’t have it.

“If you do not enter that cave with your King , I will have you drawn, hung and quartered. Make no mistake about it.”

His threat is enough to have them scrambling forward, down to the bottom of the dip and towards the mouth of the cave. He didn’t even have to growl. Fjord knows his grin is feral as he follows them inside, knows they have more reason to fear him than anything in there.

Oh, sure, they can be killed by whatever is waiting inside as well, but he won’t just kill them; he’ll punish them and make sure they regret their insubordination before they experience the sweet release of death.

The seaweed claim some of his men. Fjord does not care.

Fjord sees movement out of the corner of his eye as soon as they enter the large room with what looks like a throne. Not all his men does before it’s too late, and they are maimed or killed.

But they still fight, knowing their King’s wrath will ruin them if not.

When the fight is over and the creature is dead, most of his men are too.

All Fjord cares about is the orb, and they find it. Had it not been there, Fjord would have been the only one to walk out alive.

Now it’s at last time to go to the temple.

Fjord doesn’t know if Avantika has placed her orb in the other temple yet, but if she has, they are equal now, in power. And if not, well, then Fjord will make sure she knows he is ahead of her.

They arrive at the location, which turns out to be an underwater tower.

Guarding it are some creatures that look crustacean, but they’re not as hard to kill as their shell made it seem. Two of the killing blows comes from Fjord’s own spells and the battlelust surges through him. He fights so rarely these days and even though these creatures were barely worthy of being called opponents, it makes him miss sailing the sea, fighting people who think they can survive encountering him.

All of them are wrong.

When they return to the island, Fjord can feel the excitement in the air as soon as he steps ashore.
Avantika is there, as well as Sabien, and while Avantika looks positively gleeful, Sabien looks uneasy. This is the first time Fjord has seem them stand this close to one another without looking like they’re about to kill the other one.

It does not bode well.

“My King,” Avantika greets him, and Fjord’s fists clench at the tone of her voice. “I have a present for you. My crew and I captured an… interesting group of individuals and I had a feeling you would like to meet them to decide their fate.”

Fjord looks to Sabien.

“Have you met these prisoners?” He asks his right-hand man.
“No,” Sabien starts, shooting a look towards Avantika. “I’ve been taking care of matters on your behalf while you’ve been gone. My King.”
“Fine. Have them brought before me, and make sure a meal will be waiting for me when I’m done.”

Without waiting for confirmation for his orders, Fjord marches to his quarters to get changed into his King clothes.

Tossing what he's been wearing into a corner, Fjord stops to admire himself in the mirror. The lean body that hides deceptive strength, the scars on his face and body from countless battles, hands rough and calloused from ropes and swords. His hair long enough for a ponytail so that he can show off the heavy golden hoops in his ears.

Fjord knows people find him attractive, in spite of or sometimes even because of his tusks, and he knows to flaunt it.

Which is why his Plank King outfit consists of a billowing white shirt with a deep plunge, a dark red coat with gold trim and matching fingerless gloves, dark and tight fitting trousers that show off his assets with knee-high boots. The scarf and belt around his midsection accentuates his narrower waist and makes his shoulders appear wider.

He never covers his head, wanting to show off the streak of white.

Bloodlust still fills him from the battles over the past few days, and it leaves him curious about the prisoners Avantika brought to his port.
Normally they are killed or left stranded on an island, sometimes they’re even sent on their merry way if they cooperate and encounter the right pirate crew.
But prisoners are rare, and though one or two might end up here, a group is even rarer.

He sits down on his throne, leaning back so his features are in shadow.

Fjord prefers it this way, prefers to watch the prisoners before leaning forward to show his features. If they recoil in fear, well, he might just have to punish them more than the others. After all, Fjord never made a choice when it comes to his looks, and if people are to survive on this island, they have to accept their King as he is.

“Bring them in,” he says, spreading his legs and relaxing his posture.

The large double doors open, allowing the light from the setting sun to cast rays into the room, motes of dust dancing in the golden streaks.
Avantika is the first to enter, Sabien close behind. Sabien takes his place at Fjord’s right side while Avantika stands further away on his other side.

As the prisoners enter, Fjord thinks he is never seen such a rag-tag group of misfits before.

There is a tall, pale woman of unknown origin to him. Next to her stands her complete opposite; a colourful purple tiefling with tattoos and jewelry. There is a filthy human man dressed all in browns, reaching out for a goblin. And to the back, a tall creature who looks halfway like a cow, with pink hair and the most relaxed expression Fjord has ever seen. Lastly, a blue tiefling who tries to act brave.

Interesting.

It’s impossible to see her properly from the back, but Fjord feels his interest stir. Maybe he’ll have her brought forward on her own, or instruct his guards to leave her behind when they escort the others back to their cells.

Fjord leans forward, and hears a shocked gasp from the blue tiefling. A shame, that, because now he’ll have to kill her. But he can always have some fun with her first, if she allows it.

“Fjord?” Her voice is small, barely a whisper, but he hears it all the same.
“The name’s Captain Tusktooth, darlin’, but you can address me as My King . Like everyone else at this island who wishes to stay alive ,” he finishes with a growl.

To his surprise, she steps forward, slowly, trying to reach out to him despite her shackles.

Next to him, Sabien stiffens, but Fjord’s focus is entirely on the tiefling. She looks like she can’t quite believe what she’s seeing, eyes moving over his features as though searching for something. Fjord doesn’t know what to think of it, but it unnerves him, because no one has ever looked at him like that, only ever fear, respect or with an interest in bedding him. This, this is something else entirely.

“And what do they call you, darling?” he asks, his voice dripping with interest as he moves his gaze to take in her body. It’s enough to break the spell, and she stops, just out of reach.
“Miss Sapphire,” she responds, and her voice… It can’t be?

Fjord cocks his head to the side, focused on nothing and no one but her.

“Would you care to tell me what you and your… friends , were doing out there on your own? Neither of you looks like you have any experience being out on the ocean. She’s a fickle mistress who needs an experienced hand,” Fjord says, resting one of his hands on his inner thigh as he speaks.

He watches her eyes shift to watch the movement, expecting her to blush, but her eyes instead focuses on the area next to his hand.

“Sabien. Escort the prisoners back to their cells; their judgement will come at dawn. But leave this one here, and remove her shackles.”

Sapphire startles at the name, and her eyes widen even further but she still holds Fjord’s gaze. Impressive .
Fjord waits until the room is empty save the two of them and the doors are closed before he speaks up again.

“Sapphire, huh? What do you say, want to become my jewel?” He grins at her, waiting for what he is sure to be her confirmation. Instead...
“Fjord, it’s me, it’s Jester. I’m your friend, remember?”

He just looks at her, waiting for her to shrink away but she hold her ground.

“You’re the one who’s been sending me those messages? Why? How do you know me? Who told you to do it?”
“No one! I met you years ago in Nicodranas! You and Sabien sailed on a ship with a man named Vandren. We used to write letters to each other, and meet up when we could, but then you stopped writing and I heard your ship had been destroyed and everyone said you were dead but I didn’t believe them so I kept writing letters so I could give them to you when you came back but you never did and…”

She’s crying now, tears streaming down her face.

For the first time he can remember, Fjord feels compassion for someone. The feeling is alien, unwelcomed, something others will see as a weakness, but for a moment he allows himself to feel it.

“You really don’t remember me.” It’s a statement, not a question, but Fjord answers anyway.
“No, jewel, I don’t.”

Jester stands up, collecting herself, head held high.

“Then take me back to my friends, Captain. There’s nothing for me here, not anymore.“ She sounds like a completely different person now, sounds empty, and Fjord doesn't know what to feel about that, but he calls for a guard to escort her, admiring her strength as he watches her walk out of his life. 

Chapter Text

When Jester is returned to their cell, Beau is still out cold.

Her shackles have not been put back on her, and so her hands are free to cast a healing spell on her. Jester watches as the bump on the side of Beau’s head shrinks, then vanishes completely.

She has stopped crying now, and she just feels… empty .

Jester wonders if this is what Molly felt like when he woke up and clawed his way out of his grave. She can’t even manage to cry properly, even as she watched her childhood reappear before her eyes only to vanish again within seconds.

“You okay Jessie?” Nott asks her, motherly concern in her voice, and even as it reminds Jester of her mother, the tears are still absent.
“I don’t know, Nott,” she answers instead, because she truly doesn’t.

She misses the glance that Beau and Nott share at that, instead staring at her empty hands.

So close. She had been almost close enough to touch Fjord, to see it he was real or just her imagination playing tricks on her. But he had seemed so real, so tangible, so close . His voice darker and deeper, of course, tusks grown out and hair longer. The white streak is new, but she thinks it suits him.

Jester shakes her head.

This is not the time nor place for such thoughts. Despite what the Plank King , or Captain Tusktooth , or whatever his title is calls himself, and despite his claims he doesn’t remember her, Jester still knows that this is Fjord. He may no longer be her Fjord , not like when they were children, but he is still Fjord.

She waits until the others are asleep.

“Are you there, Traveler?” Warmth washes over her, and she knows her god is there. “I don’t know what to do. I thought I’d lost him once and nothing’s ever hurt that much, you know? But even when he received my messages I didn’t expect this. Did you know?”
“No, child, I did not,” comes the gentle reply.
“Oh, okay. You would have told me though, right? If you knew?”

Jester knows her voice sounds small and uncertain.

This is not like when Fjord responded to her message the first time; this is much worse. Because now she has seen him, witnessed part of what - and who - Fjord has become. The presence of Sabien proves it.

She’s barely seen Sabien once or twice, and only from a distance, when she sat up in her room, waiting for letters to arrive.

There is no doubt in Jester’s mind that Sabien is somehow involved in this.
Fjord never said anything outright, but Jester could read between the lines that Sabien was unhappy with their friendship, feeling as though Fjord was leaving him behind for her sake. She’s never wanted that, never wanted to take Fjord away from someone else, but it was always Fjord’s choice.

“Yes,” comes the simple answer.


Jester falls asleep, thoughts of Fjord as the boy she knew and the man he is become mingling in her mind.

---

They are not summoned at dawn, as they expected.

Instead, they are served breakfast and their shackles are removed to allow them to eat. The others eat as though they weren’t in cells, but Jester finds the food leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and she almost gags trying to swallow.
She hears the others talk, wondering what’s going to happen, curious about her reaction last night, but none of them asks her right out.

She thinks Fjord would have, had he been here with her, and not out there.

No.

Not this Fjord, but the Fjord she once knew. Or maybe thought she knew. She doesn’t know what to think about that anymore, about him.

At one point Avantika shows up again, but she doesn’t say anything at first. Instead, she looks at Jester with a superior look on her face. Then she leans in close, whispering so no one else will hear.

“Oh, I’m sorry, little miss Sapphire. Did you expect him to welcome you with open arms? To take you to his bed and make you his Queen? What childish notions. Our King cares for none but himself.” She pauses, pulls away slightly to look into Jester’s eyes. “Well, except for me, of course. He will never be yours, you know, so you might as well leave while you still can. I can get you and your friends out of here, if you want. It will be easier for all of us.”

The guards arrive, then, at last, before Jester can even begin to think of a reply.

“We’re here for miss Sapphire. The rest of you will stay here until our King orders otherwise.”

Jester is confused. Last night’s conversation with Fjord had left her waiting for orders of their executions, not for him to summon her alone. Again.

She takes a deep breath, steels herself. Today she’ll act as though they’ve never met, just as Fjord thinks. Today, Jester will treat him like the pirate he is.

---

It doesn’t work, of course.

Fjord still looks like Fjord; she hears the voice of her childhood friend underneath the deeper timbre of his voice, thinking back to the too few times they got to hang out as children. Jester is left wondering at what kind of man Fjord would have become had his ship not wrecked.

“Tell me about yourself, jewel,” Fjord tells her once they’re alone in his quarters again.

This time Jester actually looks around the room, noticing the lavish decorations and sturdy furniture, the heavy curtains and tapestries, the paintings on the rough walls and the elaborate carpets covering the entire floor of the cavern room.

Briefly, Jester regrets burning the unsent letters, because she could have given them to him instead.

Maybe he would have accepted them as evidence, but she doesn’t think so, not really. Besides, by talking, she gives weight and meaning to her words, colouring them with emotions and a sense of reality. Letters don’t do that.

“Oh, well, my name is Jester. I’m from Nicodranas. My mama is a courtesan and I grew up there with her but she had to keep me a secret. I never had any friends growing up, except…” she stops herself just in time. “Anyway, I didn’t get to go out much, you know, so I got really good at drawing and painting and writing and I’m also very good at forging other people’s handwriting.”

As she’s talking, food is brought in, and it’s as lavish as the food at the chateau. Maybe more so.

“I started playing pranks on people and that’s how I met The Traveler! Have you heard of him? He’s really powerful and cool and I haven’t seen his face but I think he’s pretty handsome and he likes it when I prank people. But then this Lord that was seeing my mama didn’t like the prank I pulled on him and so I had to leave. I didn’t know he was a Lord but he deserved it.” She allows herself to pout.

The words seem to come easily enough, but it’s all rehearsed; words she’s spoken to her friends before, words she wrote down in her letters to Fjord before she gave up.

“What did you do to him?” Fjord asks, and it hurts.

“Oh, I used magic to look like mama and tricked him into going out on the balcony and then I locked the door! He was wearing nothing but this girdle of hers and he looked really good in it but it was like in the middle of the day? So everyone saw him, right, and then he got super mad and wanted to kill me so I had to leave-”

"What." Fjord says, voice hard and flat. Then a glass shatters, and Jester jumps in her seat.

“What’s his name?” Fjord asks, anger in his voice.
“Lord Robert Sharpe. Why?”
“Don’t worry about him darlin’, I’ll take care of it.”

Jester likes to think she’s become used to violence now, but there’s something frightening about the promise the man in front of her makes.

It’s not because Fjord is a half-orc; she would have felt this no matter his race. It’s because she can’t find it in herself to be able to separate her memory of Fjord from the person in front of her; seeing her first and dearest friend grow up to be someone like this is what terrifies her. That someone she once held so dear is capable of sounding threatening with such vague words…

Jester doesn’t want to think about it anymore.

“But it was probably for the best, you know?” she continues. “Because I got travel a lot and see parts of the empire and I helped save a lot of people! Beau and I fought and killed a giant snake, and then all of us helped clear the names of Molly and Yasha and the rest of the circus because we killed this giant toad that was actually a fiend! Then we saved a city from gnolls and we killed a mama manticore and her baby with the help of this really cool mad who is blind and sees through his bird and he was really cool!”

Fjord just watches her as she talks, on and on.

“After that we left for Zadash and this group of bandits attacked us at night but we killed their leader, and Caleb turned him into ash and then we told them to take off all their clothes and they did and it was really funny, but also kinda sad so we let them put their clothes on again but took all their weapons. Molly helped them decide on a new leader and then gave them like a gold each before we let them go. Nott also took some of their horses and scared away the rest.”

“They don’t sound like very good bandits,” Fjord points out, and Jester can’t help but laugh at that.

“Oh, they were like really really bad, and we would have been so much better than them. Molly told them to give up on being bandits and to do something better with themselves because they were soooo bad at this. And then! when we were heading back to Zadash after visiting Hupperdook, they tried to rob us again! But they recognized us and stopped attacking, then let us take their stuff, but they ran away so they left one of their guys behind because Beau knocked him unconscious, and we took his pants, put flowers in his hair and Molly added a drop of lavender oil so he would look pretty waking up alone.”

Jester giggles, recounting the image of the bandits fleeing, and Kiri running up with her knife, mimicking Cali.

Throughout her recounting of some of their adventures, she’s managed to forget herself a bit, feeling as though she’s talking to the Fjord she once knew. She hopes this version of her one-time friend will appreciate her stories even so. Maybe he has some stories to share with her as well.

To Jester’s surprise, she’s actually managed to eat quite a bit, despite talking as much as she has.

In the silence, Jester can hear the grandfather clock in the room strike nine, and she jolts as though a spell has been broken. She can’t believe she’s been talking for this long, and that the Plank King has let her go on like this.

“Thank you, Captain Tusktooth,” she says, as she gets up, trying to sound more mature. “But I am tired now and my friends will wonder about me.”
“I’ll send someone to fetch you again tomorrow, so we can get more… acquainted,” he replies, and Jester is sure she can hear hunger in his voice.

This hunger has nothing to do with a lack of food, and the thought sends a shiver down her spine.

“If the King commands,” she tells him, hoping her voice sounds steady.
“Oh, that I do, my sapphire, that I do,” Fjord says, his eyes taking her in once again, and Jester blushes under his gaze, feels herself grow warm.

“But before I let you leave my sight, tell me one thing. Why do act like nothing happened?”

The question catches her off-guard, but she collects herself quickly.

“Because you’re not my friend Fjord. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you.”

Escorted out of his quarters, Jester sees Avantika lurking outside. There’s no other word for it really, and it gives Jester the confidence to look at Avantika just like the elven Captain had looked at her earlier that day. Jester doesn’t miss the anger that flares across her features before Avantika collects herself.

Small victories, Jester thinks as the door to the cell she shares with Beau, Yasha and Nott slam closed behind her.

She is instantly bombarded with questions and worried comments from her friends, and she breaks down.
Unlike the previous night, she really cries, and she shudders as Beau holds her close. All her fears and worries run through her. Acting as though nothing was wrong for hours took its toll, and only now that she is once again with her friends does Jester feel safe enough to let her guard down.

Chapter Text

Fjord had not missed the look that Avantika had thrown him when he’d sent all but his new jewel out of his quarters. He’d found it interesting that a woman like Avantika would seem threatened but not enough to dwell on it.
Had she listened in, then, she would not have found anything to worry about.

The talk he’d had with Jester today though, that is another matter.

Jester is unlike anyone Fjord has encountered in his life, at least from what he remembers of it. Had she been just another woman, Fjord would have turned on his charm, tried to coax her into his bed every moment they’re together.

When he had invited Jester today, he had not intended to be intrigued.

Fjord had planned to find out how she could possibly have messaged him, why she claims they knew one another, and what she could hope to gain from it.
Instead, he had listened to her talk about her life and some of her adventures. Normally, talking is the last thing he wants to do, and he never cares if the other person has ever been treated unfairly.

Jester is different.

He doesn’t know what to do about that. All he knows is that he wants to keep listening to her, wants her company every day.
Fjord knows people will talk; they always do. Still, none dare say anything to his face, and if he some much as catches a whisper directed at Jester, he’ll just have to make an example of them.

It’s not like he is never done so before, after all, but it’s never been for the sake of anyone else.

---

He dreams of sapphire blue and glowing jellyfish.

---

The next day, he summons her again.

Fjord listens as she tells him more about her adventures, as she rambles and forgets to eat. He notices that she doesn’t touch the wine he had poured for her, but doesn’t interrupt to ask what she wants instead. No request is impossible for one such as him after all, and so what Jester wants, Jester gets.

Just like the day before, Jester rises from her seat when the clock strikes nine.

This time, however, Fjord stops her from leaving.

“Come here,” he says.
“Why?” Jester asks him, and Fjord it taken aback for a moment.
Because I said so . “Because I have something for you.”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so?”

Fjord looks at her for a moment, thinking once again about how different she is.

“Hold out your hand.”
“You’re acting weird,” she says, but does as told. Asked. Whatever.
“Close your eyes.”

Once Jester’s eyes are closed, Fjord places a bracelet around her wrist.

It’s silver with sapphires and diamonds, shaped like a serpent. What used to be just another piece of jewelry acquired by raiding ships and those aboard, now holds meaning placed upon Jester’s wrist.

Almost as if it had been meant to be.

“There. You can look now, jewel.”
“Oh Fjord, it’s beautiful! Thank you!”

For a moment, it looks like Jester’s about to hug him, but then she pulls away from him again.

“Goodnight Fjord.”
“Goodnight jewel.”

 

Fjord is not sappy or romantic. But the words ‘ not as beautiful as you ’ sits at the tip of his tongue long after Jester’s gone.

---

The days continue in the same fashion.

Fjord will summon Jester, she talks while he eats, and before she leaves, he gives her another piece of jewelry or a gem. She will thank him, let him put the jewelry on her, but will otherwise not touch him, nor let him touch her.

At night, Fjord will dream about her.

---

“I have something to show you,” he tells her after their customary greeting the next day.
“Another piece of jewelry?” Jester asks him, and her tone seems weary.

Few would have picked up on it, but Fjord has become very good at reading people. Jester is decked out in his various gifts, his marks of claim. He wonders briefly if she understand that, but doesn’t dwell on it. Not now.

 

Fjord escorts her to a small house close to his own chambers, his hand possessively at her lower back.

 

The door to the abode is a bright blue, though the paint has faded from the constant spray of water and the sunlight. He hands her a key, tells her to open it.

Climbing plants hang low, in front of the door, having crawled up out of the pots they came in. The fact that they hang in the way is such a fashion means that the ones employed to ready this place having failed at their job. He’ll make sure they know so once Jester is out of his sight for the night. To his surprise, Jester instead drags her fingers across some of the leaves and gently pushes some vines aside to enter.

Avantika would have ripped them to shreds.

Fjord allows her to enter first, and her small gasp tells him he made the right choice in decoration. He has yet to see the finished result, but he handpicked all the pieces that went into the rooms. They’re all rare, from the type of wood to the fabrics and decor. All the pieces hail from Marquet, so very rare in these parts.

The furniture in the common area are all made of dark wood and deeply coloured fabrics of reds and golds and oranges.

A small divan stands against one wall, in front of it a low table surrounded by pillows and low stools. A canopy of sheer fabric hangs above it, and a large mirror hangs on the wall opposite. The room is bathed in the golden light of the sun and multiple colours cast from the glass in the lamps situated around the room. Warm rugs cover the entire stone floor.

Had Fjord had time, he would have instructed someone to lay down a wooden floor, or perhaps cover it in tiles. He can certainly afford it.

Heavy red curtains are drawn aside, showing the bedroom beyond. In there, a large bed takes up most of the space, with a large headboard of intricately carved pale wood. Off to the side is a matching screen, next to a dresser painted faded turquoise.

Fjord watches Jester move around the bedroom, but he stays in the opening between the two rooms.

If he finds the way she gently runs her fingers over the embroidered bedcover endearing, well then… there is no one there who sees that. Except Jester is looking at him, and he can’t read the look in her face, not this time.

“Why did you bring me here Fjord? Why did you give me a key?” Jester asks him.
“It’s easier if you stay here. I won’t have to wait for the guards to get you.” It’s a lie, and they both know it. Well, not entirely. It is easier but it’s not the only reason.

“Why Fjord?” she asks him again, and for a moment Fjord struggles to find his voice.
“Would you rather not stay here than in your cell? ”

“It would probably be better, probably,” Jester says after a long minute. “Thank you for the offer Fjord, but no.”

Fjord flinches.

“Why?” He struggles to keep the anger, the rising growl out of his voice. Something he wouldn’t have done for anyone else.
“Because I don’t wanna leave my friends alone down there. I’m here because of them, and I won’t leave them.”

“Have it your way.”

Fjord stalks out and tells his guards, who had followed them to the outside, to take Jester back to the cell, take back the key and to lock up the house.

If she won’t accept his gifts, if she puts her friends before herself and his gifts, then she can stay there with them. He was a fool to think she would ever accept his gifts and all the boons he could offer.

As he enters his quarters, Sabien casts one look at him and flees.

Good. Fjord is not in the mood to see anyone right now. He locks his doors and takes out his anger at some of the furniture. It’s all expendable, really. He can get new items when he wants to, and there are several pieces in storage yet. Fjord feels his magic flare through him, watches as vases shatter and paintings are scorched.

Once he has calmed down, Fjord summons his falchion.

He looks into the eye that rest just below the handle. Seawater drips from it, making the metal and barnacles shine in the low light of a single torch. The eye, as ever, remains unmoving.
Another flick of his wrist and it’s gone again. Fjord curses himself a fool for thinking it would be different this time, that his patron would hear his silent plea for words of encouragement.

Uk’otoa is as silent as ever.

Fjord cannot remember the last time his patron appeared to him in a dream. Avantika asks him, sometimes, and he always lies. She herself is unreadable, even to Fjord, so when she claims she hears from Uk’otoa in her dreams, how can Fjord claim anything less?

---

He dreams of Jester again, of how happy she looked when she explored the rooms he had prepared for her pleasure.

---

Fjord lets Jester stay in the cell for days. He tries not to wonder if he ruined any possible hope of anything between them.

Avantika appears in his rooms on the third day. Fjord lets her push him onto his bed, lets her take control for once, but is watchful enough that he’ll be able to summon his falchion again should she try or say anything.
But as much as he tries, Fjord doesn’t feel invested in the body now rising above him, seeking her pleasure.

Oh, he performs well enough, feels the pleasure, but he knows who he would rather have in his bed.
Based on the look on Avantika’s face, she knows it too.

She stays quiet, doesn’t challenge him, and that is enough. For now.

---

On the fourth day, he summons the ones who prepared the rooms for Jester.

---

On the fifth day, Fjord summons Jester and her friends .

The word leaves a sour taste in Fjord’s mouth, even unspoken. Friends are lies. A friend is something someone calls themself when they want something from you without giving anything back.

“I have prepared rooms for all of you. You are to stay there after dark. At day, you can walk around with an escort. Your weapons and components will not be returned to you, not until you have proven yourselves worthy. You will be escorted there now.”


He turns away from his throne, moves to go back to his quarters and his dinner.

“Fjord? Thank you.” Jester’s voice sounds distant, he barely hears it but he nods without looking at her. During the short audience, Fjord has kept his gaze on anyone but Jester, fearing she’ll be able to read him.

“Wait,” he says, turning around to face them. “Join me for dinner first. All of you”

It is not kindness that makes him do this, or so he tells himself. Nor is it to gain anything. ‘ She’s making you soft ’, a voice at the back of his mind tells him. Fjord doesn’t argue. The smile that lights up Jester’s face is all he needs.

Chapter Text

The dinner is awkward, not at all like the dinners she’s shared with Fjord before.

Molly and Caduceus talk as if there is nothing strange at all about all of this. Beau is glaring daggers at Fjord, which Fjord returns in equal measure. Caleb is even more silent that usual, only matched by Yasha. Nott tries to strike up conversation but ultimately fails and spends the rest of the time stuffing herself with everything she can get her hands on.

Jester knows from all her dinners with Fjord that there’s always a large amount of food on the table, but it’s not occurred to her until now just how much and how it varies.

She thinks back to her mama’s place and growing up there, with all the food she could eat. It had been hard at first after she set out, the food bland and lacking but Jester grew accustomed to it in time. And now Fjord is spoling her as well.

It’s not that she minds, but…

Looking at her friends, it’s clear none of them have ever experienced a meal like this. It doesn’t seem fair that it should be such an oppressing affair but Jester doesn’t know how to fix it. When she’s alone with Fjord during this time, it’s easy to be herself. She is herself with her friends too, but this feels too different. She fears her friends will find out about their history.

She does not mention noticing the new furniture and the splinters in the corner that hints at what happened to the previous pieces.

Afterwards, Jester is returned to her previously rejected quarters. She doesn’t see the state of the quarters her friends are staying in, but the building is just a few feet away. The guards that escorted her leave, but others remain outside the other house.

Steeling herself, she waits only moments before going to her friends. The guards hesitate for a second, but then let her pass.

Their house is far from as nice as Jester’s, but there are beds for everyone and a decent common area with a nook for making food. Caduceus is already making tea, while the rest are hunched together, whispering amongst themselves.

When they see Jester, their hushed conversation stills and Nott and Beau immediately starts asking her questions.

“What the fuck was that?” Beau asks.
“Why did he move us here?” Nott adds.
“That was so awkward! Right? It wasn’t just me?”
“I’ve never seen so much food in my life!”

“Who wants tea?” Caduceus interrupts, his voice low but cutting through the noise.

Jester looks at her friends, and doesn’t know what to say.

“I don’t know. He offered me a house to stay in but I turned it down because I didn’t wanna stay somewhere nice while you were in the cells, so I told him that and he got angry and took me back to you guys and then I didn’t hear from him again until today, and I don’t think he was even planning on having us eat dinner with him, actually, because there wasn’t more food than the times I’ve eaten with him actually.”

Beau looks at her.

“Okaaay… What do you even do during these dinners then?”
“Oh, we talk. Well, I talk and he listens. I’ve been telling him all about our adventures.”
“That’s it?”

She thinks of the Fjord she once knew. Of pretending everything’s fine. She thinks of the box now sat on the dresser in her room, filled with his gifts.

“He gives me jewelry and gems. Calls me darlin’ and jewel . I don’t want it but I’m afraid to anger him so I accept them.” It’s a lie, really. Mostly. Jester isn’t afraid of his anger, and she does appreciate the gifts. “I didn’t say because I didn't want you to treat me any differently because of this.”

“Doesn’t sound too bad to me,” Molly says, and winks at her. “You think he’ll tire of you and  do the same to me?”

Jester hears the teasing in his voice, but she also knows Molly well enough by now to know it’s also a serious question. Molly adores jewelry, gaudy or not, fake or not, it doesn't matter.

“Actually, I don’t think you’re his type Molly,” she teases back and laughs when her friends pretends to be wounded by her words.

“Do you think you can get him to let us go?” Yasha asks, sounding uncertain but also slightly hopeful. Not that it’s ever easy to say with her voice, but Jester likes to think she’s paid enough attention to Yasha by now to know.

“I don’t know,” she replies. “Fjord isn’t that bad, not when you get to know him. But I don’t think the others, Sabien and Avantika especially, would approve of him just letting us go either. Besides, how can he know we won’t tell anyone where they are and send people to kill them? He’ss their King, you know, so he has to do what’s best for everyone and treat everyone the same.”

“He treats you differently though,” Caduceus says, as matter-of-factly as always as he sips his tea.

Jester doesn’t reply to that, because she knows it’s true.

---

The bed is even more comfortable than she thought it would be, but she doesn’t sleep any better for it.

Jester lies awake, thinking, wondering what this all means. It’s one thing to fix up a place for her friends, just because she rejected her own place for their sake, but to then invite them to such a dinner after she thanked him? Of course, there’s no proof of either of those things, but she knew Fjord before, and although he is different now in many ways, she still sees the expressions she remembers from when they were kids.

She gets up in the early hours and wanders the house.

It had terrified her, the first time, wandering these rooms. The pieces, hand-picked by Fjord (she knows this because they match the ones in his own chambers), so matching her own taste in decoration had been one thing, because that means he knows her now, better than she knows him. But to know, or at least suspect, what it all means?

That had been the most terrifying thing of all.

Knowing she would be so close to him, that he could arrive at any moment, without her knowing in advance, that her friends wouldn’t know what was going on except that she’d no longer stay in the cells with them?

Now though, now it sends a small shiver of thrill through her.

Fjord’s interest in her...It’s been clear since she saw the way his eyes raked over her form when they were brought before him for the first time. His nicknames, darlin’ and jewel . His gifts, a way of marking her. She’s spotted no such thing on Avantika’s form.

And now…

She opens the large wardrobe, fingers gently stroking the luxurious fabrics of the dresses in there. All in colours that compliments her skin. And all in her size as well, she suspects. The box with all her gifts, so many that they spill over, resting on the dresser, which drawers are filled with more clothes.

They are children no longer, and the thought scares and thrills her in equal amounts.

Maybe next time Fjord invites her to dinner, she’ll wear not only one of the new dresses, but one of the sets of silky lingerie as well. Jester shivers as she looks through the various sets, thinking of the implications.

And maybe… Her eyes catches one set that stands out from the others. A vibrant emerald green.

She leaves that for now, though, and puts on one of the others, a pale white that makes her think of ivory and Fjord’s tusks.
Jester turns to look at herself in the large mirror, surprised at how flustered she looks. For a moment, her thoughts turns to her mama, and what Marion wears when she has clients. Her mama never wear white, but Jester envisions herself in the Ruby’s place, confident and beautiful.

Closing her eyes, she imagines the look on Fjord’s face when he sees her.

The thought sends warmth flooding through her, settling first in her stomach, then lower.

She watches herself in the mirror, conjuring, in her mind, the image of Fjord behind her, his eyes taking her in, just like that first night. Her hands reaching out to her, needing to touch her. Jester allows herself to wonder what it feels like to let him, to feel those strong, calloused hands on her skin, stroking, moving over her, cupping her breasts and then moving lower until…

Jester gasps, her hands following the imagined pattern, one hand stroking herself through the barely-there scrap of silk covering her mound. She’s so wet already, just from these thoughts.

Would Fjord order her to touch herself in front of him? Would she dare? And of so, would he stroke himself while watching?

She sits down on the bed before she continues, watching herself in the mirror as she does.

Jester’s fingers slip past the fabric, between her folds and she finds she can already fit two fingers. Her other hand rubs at one of her nipples, while her tail lashes in excitement. She sees her skin is flushed dark now, making the white lace appear even lighter in contrast.

As she comes, Jester bites her lip as to not shout out.

Not because she doesn’t want anyone to hear what she’s doing, but to keep Fjord’s name from passing over her lips.

Chapter Text

Fjord ignores the looks from Avantika and Sabien.

Avantika seems almost jealous, if Fjord thought she’d been capable of such a feeling. Sabien looks suspicious and his glances would annoy Fjord were he not used to it.

He ignores the whispers as well, the ones that stop as soon as he enters a room or is spotted.

Let them talk, he thinks. It’s of no matter. I’m free to do as I wish and those who think otherwise are fools who don’t know me.

Fjord sees Jester’s friends escorted about the next day, sees the tall firbolg with the pink hair pick out produce at the market, hears him inquire about tea. The filthy wizard asks if there are any books to be found as he holds the hand of the goblin. His cat is draped around his neck like a scarf and Fjord gives them a wide berth. The colourful tiefling is entertaining people with a deck of cards as the large, pale woman stands watch next to him. Lastly, he spots Jester with the human dressed in blue, walking between the few stalls.

Jester spots him, and he thinks for a moment that he sees her blush, but finds it must be a trick of the light.

“Good morning my King,” she says and curtsies. It’s an odd reaction as she always treats him as an equal. “May I talk to you in private?”

Then again, she is around her friends and amongst his people at this point, and she only calls him by his name in private.

“Of course, Miss Sapphire.” Two can play that game. He leads her further down the docks, away from the crowd as he feels the monk’s eyes glare at his back. Curious . He should watch out for that one.

He watches her fiddle with her hands and avoid his eyes.

Then…

“I wanted to thank you again Fjord, for doing this for us.”  

It was all for you. I don’t care about them. The words remain unspoken and he doesn’t know why he can’t utter them.

“So I was thinking that maybe you could come over and have dinner with me tonight? To, you know, thank you for your hospitality. Caduceus is helping me pick out something for us to eat because I thought he and I could make it? It’s not that I don’t like what your people make us, because I do, but I want to make you something that my mama taught me to make and Caduceus is a really good cook as well, and…”

Fjord places a finger on her lips to make her stop talking.

He tells himself he doesn’t find it endearing, but that’s an outright lie. Jester looks nervous, in a way he is not seen her be so far, despite what’s happened to her since she arrived here all those days ago.

Gods, he’d like to kiss her right now.

She’s been chewing on her lips and it’s caused her mouth to look inviting in ways he’s never witnessed before. The temptation to draw her into his arms is strong but he manages to resist, barely.

Her tongue darts out between her parted lips, almost grazing his finger and heat pools in him, traveling south.

Fjord looks at her, wondering if she knows what she’s doing to him. From the look that briefly flashes in her eyes, she does and his knees feels weak.
Is there another reason for her invitation for tonight? Something else than just a meal to thank him?

It feels weird to wonder at what she might offer, when he is so used to taking, so used to having people offer themselves up to him.

Jester is nothing like Avantika and the others, and the thought of how much he is come to care for her is frightening and unwelcome. He should not allow for such weakness, but Jester is kind and caring, thoughtful and considerate. Had Avantika been in the same position, he knows she would abandon those she traveled with in order to gain his favour.

Jester was brave enough to refuse him and his offer at better lodgings, all because she cares so much for her friends.

Fjord wonders what it’s like to be at the receiving end of her affections, wants to experience it for himself.

“I’ll see you tonight then,” he says, trailing his finger down her lip, the wetness of the inside of it coating the tip of his finger. She trembles slightly but holds his gaze.

Fjord wants to grab her and bring her back to his quarters, not caring what anyone else thinks. But wondering about what’s to come tonight keeps him, barely, in control of his movement.

As he walks past Jester’s friends, he feels all their gazes heavy upon him, and the weight of them feels like they carry the promise of pain should he hurt her.

----

Once he reaches his quarters, Fjord instructs his guards to not disturb him or let anyone else do so, as well as tell the cooks that he won’t be needing dinner tonights.

Then he locks himself in his rooms and strips.

He stands in front of his full-length mirror, looking at his flushed cock, half-hard from his short moment with Jester. She affects him in ways he’d not thought possible, and as he takes his cock in his hand, he imagines it’s Jester’s hand instead.

Fjord knows he won’t last long, not with the image of Jester’s plump lips and that brief look in her eyes so clear in his mind.

Would she kneel in front of him, insisting to take care of his needs? What would her fangs feel like? Would she cover them so it wouldn’t hurt, unless he asked her not to?
While the image of someone on their knees in front him usually makes him hard in an instant, it doesn’t suit Jester. He’d rather have her in his bed, eating her out as she swallows him in return.

Gods, how hard the image of her makes him.

Fjord’s own hands are calloused and rough, Jester’s are soft and so he knows it would feel different with hers, but his own will have to do. For now, at least, even though they feel wrong.
His pace doesn’t last long, hips stuttering as he watches himself in the mirror.

He muffles the sounds makes as he orgasms by biting his own arm.

White sprays over the mirror and his hand as he continues stroking himself.
Fjord feels spent in a way he’s not felt in a long time, all from imagining Jester. What will actually feel like, when the times comes?

Hopefully tonight will provide an answer.

---

Fjord knocks on Jester’s door later that evening and hears a crash and a curse.

It’s not Jester’s voice however, and when the purple tiefling - Molly - opens the door a moment later, Fjord sees why. Caduceus and the monk are arranging plates of food on the table in the seating area, while the tall woman puts flowers in a vase. Where did she get those?

Molly nods at him and tells him Jester’s almost ready, before sweeping back into the bedroom.

Fjord’s left standing, feeling awkward for the first time in a long time.

It doesn’t take that long before the lavender tiefling returns and brings the others outside with him, but it feels like ages. Molly lingers for a moment, eying him in a clearly appreciative way.

“If you tire of her or want someone else, you know where to find me,” he says, smacking Fjord with his tail before he saunters away.

He hears laughter and turns to see Jester appear from her bedroom.

Fjord looks at her, and his jaw drops.

She’s dressed in one of the dresses he gave her, a tight fitting piece that leaves very little to the imagination. He imagines she must’ve needed help to get into it and realizes why Molly was with her in there. At least, he hopes that was the only reason.

She’s also wearing several of the pieces of jewelry he gave her.

“Don’t mind him, Molly’s just like that. Come in, the food’s ready!”

Fjord does as she asks, and closes the door behind him before taking a seat opposite her.

Despite Jester dressing up, the dinner feels less formal than those in his chambers. Not that they’ve ever been formal in any way, but still. Maybe it’s because they’re not seated at a dining table, or because the decor in here is different than his, or because it’s her place.

Jester is right, of course.

The food is good - different than what he is become used to as Plank King, but good nonetheless. Jester tells him some of the dishes are from Nicodranas and Port Damali, and although Fjord can’t remember having any of them before, there is something familiar about the blends of spices and ingredients that leaves him lingering on the taste and going back for more in order to try and remember.

Dessert consists of one platter.

“These are bearclaws from Nicodranas,” Jester explains excitedly. “Did you know, they make them elsewhere too but in Nicodranas they make them with cinnamon and they’ve always been my favourite. They remind me of home.”

Fjord smiles at her, the taste of cinnamon on his tongue.

“You’re right. I’ve never had them but I think they’re better this way.”

They fall silent after that, and the air feels heavy with something. Fjord can’t quite put words to it, but it’s not a bad thing at least.

“Have you settled in yet?” he asks her, feeling a need to fill the silence, but feeling stupid for asking such a mundane question. “Is there anything more you need?

“I’m starting to,” she says, a small smile on her lips. “And no, it’s okay Fjord, you don’t have to worry about it.”

The curtains separating her bedroom from the living area are drawn to the side, and Fjord casts a glance towards it. He can’t see much from this angle, but the mirror is set so it reflects more of the room.

“I’ll be right back,” Jester says, and heads towards the bathroom in the back.

While she’s gone, Fjord walks into her bedroom. He feels a bit awkward about it, because even though he should have every right to be in here, it’s still Jester’s space, and the place he had set up for her to be her own, private place.

It’s tidy, with barely any personal artefacts, except her bright pink haversack resting against the dresser.

Peeking out from underneath said dresser, he sees some white fabric.

Curiosity get the better of him, and he pulls it out, finding a pair of scant pieces of underwear. He recognizes it as a set he picked out for her, and comes to the conclusion that she must have at least looked through her gifts and looked at them, seeing as they’re not in the drawer.

Then he spots the darker spot on the piece that can barely be called panties.

Before he knows it, he is holding it up to his nose, drawing in the scent of her.
Water fills his mouth, makes him feel like a drooling, horny teenager. He clenches it in his hand, and is about to put it back when Jester walks into the room behind him.

Their eyes lock in the mirror before her gaze shifts to his hand.

“Oh.” It’s such a small sound, such a simple sound and Fjord doesn’t know if it’s good or bad.

He drops the fabric to the ground, searching for words, but comes up empty. Who did she think about last night?

“I thought of you,” Jester answers, as thought he spoke the words out loud. Maybe he did. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Fuck,” Fjord says, and then looks at her properly.

Gone is the dress she wore only moments ago. What he sees now instead, is emerald green lingerie, not unlike what he just held. Around her neck and down the top of her chest rests a large, intricate necklace of emeralds and diamonds.

She seems insecure under the weight of his gaze, as though wondering if he’ll accept it. In a way, Fjord thinks Jester is dressed up as a gift, and it is a gift he’ll happily unwrap and enjoy.

“Are you sure?” he asks her, asks anyone, for the first time in his life. Because, for the first time, it matters.

Jester holds her head high and looks into his eyes as she licks her lips, tail flicking behind her.

“Yes.”

That one words is all it takes for Fjord to pounce, to lift her up and throw her down on her bed.

“Don’t worry jewel, I’ll take good care of you.”

Chapter Text

Jester doesn’t quite know what to expect.

Her heart is beating in her chest, so incredibly fast that it’s unnatural. She feels almost like prey, staring into the face of her predator, knowing it can’t get away. But it’s not true, not quite. Sure, Jester doesn’t know what powers Fjord have, but she knows she’s strong, knows she’s far from helpless.

And, most importantly, she was the one who initiated this, because she wants it.

Fjord hovers above her, but he’s not doing what she’s thought. Jester had expected him to waste no time, to strip her and claim her. Instead, his hands roam over her skin, touching every inch he can until she starts squirming.

Most of his attention is directed towards her stomach.

It looks soft, she knows it, but there is strength behind it, muscles that aren’t visible and makes people underestimate her physical strength.
Fjord showers her in kisses, everywhere but her mouth, breasts and sex. It goes on for so long that she loses track of time, doesn’t know how long they’ve been here.

All she knows is that she’s wetter than she ever thought possible and she wants him inside her.

How to ask? She’s never done this before, only used her own fingers. Never had she thought that her lost and found childhood friend would be the one, and certainly not after finding out he doesn’t remember her. But, oh, how she wants it, wants him!

“Fjord, please!”

“Please what, jewel?”

“I need you,” she keens, not caring if she sounds desperate. “Please, Fjord, please!”

Fjord surges forward and finally kisses her. It’s wet and filthy and a bit awkward to work around fangs and tusks, but it’s the best first kiss Jester could ever have imagined. She licks along his lips and tusks, bites gently into his lip, needing him to know it’s not what she asked, but not willing to draw blood.

One finger strokes her gently through the underwear, and she moans at the ghost of a touch.

It’s far from enough, feels more like the relentless teasing that’s been going on and she want more, more, more. She wants him inside, needs it like she needs air. Jester tries to touch herself, but he catches her hands with his free hand, stopping her.

“I told you I’d take care of you,” he growls, and shivers run through her body at the sound.

He begins kissing his way down her body again, letting go of her hands to stroke down her sides before finally removing her panties. Once they’re off, he sits back and looks at her. Jester feels herself flush even more, knowing her skin is bright purple in places now, but she looks at Fjord, at his straining trousers and the heat of his gaze.

Jester watches as Fjord lowers himself and before she knows what he’s doing, his mouth is on her and she shouts out.

Fjord’s tongue laps over her clit in broad strokes, as he inserts a finger inside her, in a slow move. She feels his tusks against her, but she doesn’t feel like he’ll hurt her; instead they add to the feeling.
The one finger inside her moves in and out and while it feels good, it’s far from enough, especially after last night.

“Fjord, please. More.”

He takes out his finger, and then inserts two at once, pumping into her as he continues to lick. The pace is too slow, and she wants more fingers, wants to feel him fill her up. She’s more than wet enough to take more, maybe even his cock as well without needing lube.

Jester moves her hands again, to cup her breasts this time.

Fjord lets her, just looking up at her as he inserts a third finger. His lower face is covered in her juices, and Jester’s walls clenches around him at the sight. She feels him grin against her and then his tongue moves inside her as well.

Her hips stutters, moves to chase the feeling of his fingers and tongue pumping inside her.

His other arm comes to rest over her stomach, holding her down. Jester’s removed the bra now, and she’s only wearing the necklace. Her own hands cup her breasts, and she massages them, pinches her nipples as she watches Fjord.

Fjord’s mouth leaves her for a moment, in order to place a pillow beneath her hips.

Then his fingers are back inside her, his tongue on her and the new angle allows him to reach deeper in.

It doesn’t take long before she screams his name as he continues his ministrations. Her walls clench around his calloused fingers and she feels spent, feels sensitive almost to the point of pain as his tongue circles her clit.

She’s shaking, and then Fjord moves again, kissing her so she can taste her own fluids, mixed with the cinnamon from the bear claws.

For a while, they do nothing but kiss - slow and languid, as though they have all the time in the world. Then one of Jester’s hands stroke against Fjord through his trousers, and he hisses, causing Jester to curse herself for being so caught up in her own pleasure that she forgot about him. It must be hurting him , she thinks.

“Let me take care of you,” she says, pulling at the fastenings.

Her hands strokes against his lower abdomen as she does, and she hears Fjord hiss. Unlike her, he wears nothing underneath, and his cock springs free, dark and flushed and larger than she thought. She sees the pre-come appears from the tip.

Jester takes him in hand, marveling at the feel and weight.

She’s seen many dicks in her life, but this is the first time she’s touched one. She wraps her small hand around him, squeezing lightly and moving her hand slowly up and down the shaft. Based on the sounds Fjord makes, she’s doing something right at least.

“Wait,” Fjord says through gritted teeth after a moment. “I’m not done takin’ care of you.”

He moves so that he lies on his back.

“Get on top of me, with your pussy on my face. If you still want to take care of me, you can bend over so you can take my cock in your pretty mouth.”

An image in her mind, of one of the other courtesans and their client for the night in this position. Jester never asked if it had a name, but she knows of the intention behind it - it allows both to be on the receiving and giving end.

So she does as he says.

Jester lowers herself over Fjord’s face first, then takes his cock in hand, using her other to support her weight. She doesn’t quite know what to do, so she does what she tried first. Her hand feels too small to cover him properly though, so she lowers her mouth to kiss the tip of his cock, licking up pre-come.

It tastes salty, but not like the ocean.

She covers her fangs with her lips, then ever so gently begins to take his cock inside her mouth, at the same time as Fjord begins licking her again. Jester feels wet already, and his fingers finds their way inside her once more.

The angle is different from before, but she does her best.

It feels weird and it takes a little while to be able to focus on reciprocating, especially since it’s her first time. But Jester finds a rhythm in the end, bobbing her head, trying different angles to see how deep she can take him without gagging. What her mouth doesn’t cover, her hand does.
Wet, filthy sounds fill the room, and Jester delights in it. It makes her feels strong and powerful and beautiful.

Jester tries her best to match her rhythm to Fjord’s, rolling her hips to meet his tongue and fingers. In a way, it feels like a weird dance of sorts.

She moans around Fjord’s cock, taking him in as deep as she can. In return, Fjord’s other hand being to circle her clit in a rapid pace, his tongue once again inside her. It gets harder to keep up the pace now, her rhythm faltering as she gets closer and closer to a second orgasm.

Still, she doesn’t want to come again before helping Fjord do the same, so she begins sucking, taking him even deeper, careful of her fangs. She dares move the hand that keeps her up, so she can massage his balls as well.

Behind her, her tail flicks around, somehow managing not to hit Fjord in the face.

Jester feels Fjord’s balls tighten, and while he pulls away for just a moment to tell her that she can take her mouth off of him, she doesn’t, because she knows how good it feels to be guided through the orgasm and she wants to do the same for him.

She moves her head, so that only the tip is in her mouth and she twists her hand around his cock, matching the pace of his fingers against her clit.

In the end, she doesn’t know which one of them comes first, but they’re both muffling their sounds against the other’s sex at the same time. Jester keeps sucking as Fjord’s come fills her mouth, drinks it down as he swallows down her fluids as she clenches around his fingers and tongue for the second time that night.

Jester lowers herself, almost falling, down onto the bed next to Fjord.

They lay breathing for a while, coming down from their heights. She sits up some moments later, resting her back against the pillows by the headboard.

“Here,” she says, patting her lap. “You can put your head here if you want.”

Fjord does, and she pets his hair. In a way, this feels much more intimate than what they’ve just done. Neither speak, just basking in the aftermath. He turns his head, nuzzling into her stomach before planting small kisses there.

Jester giggles at the sight and feeling.

“Do you like my stomach Fjord?”

“‘s soft,” he murmurs against her skin, and Jester is barely able to blink back her tears before he sees them. His voice reminds her of when they were younger, of one time they’d stayed out late and Fjord had gotten so tired that she’d had to support him when they walked back. He had mumbled into her neck that time, as his head rested on her shoulder. Told her that she smelled good. Jester had blushed, wondered if he was aware of saying it out loud and if he had meant it. She never got to ask.

And now? It felt as though her friend was back, but for a moment.

Her loss of focus means she scrapes her nails against his scalp without meaning to, and Fjord lets out a hiss.

“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” she asks, feeling worried, even though she knows that this Fjord, Captain and Plank King is used to pain.

“Do it again,” Fjord replies, and the sound he lets out as she does, lets Jester know exactly what it’s doing to him. “Aaah, just like that.”

Fjord turns his head more, begins to kiss her curls and then lower, lower and she spreads her legs for him again. Jester doesn’t know how she can still become wet, but she does. She’s teetering on the edge of being sensitive, but she’s ready for one more time. But this time, this time she wants his cock inside of her.

“I want to ride you,” she says. “Want you inside me.”

He looks at her, deep hunger in his now dark eyes. Then Fjord moves, quick as a coiled snake. Now he is the one seated, and he is on his lap, pressed up against him as he kisses her, deep and hungry and wet.

Fjord grabs her hips, lifts her up and she reaches down to grab his cock, guiding it inside of herself.

Jester sinks down on him, finally feeling full as he is fully buried inside her in one, slow move. She begins to shift her hips, finding the best angle. Fjord helps her, hands on her hips, lifting her up and slamming her back down.

One of her hands rests on his chest, the other rubbing her clit.

It seems impossible that she should be able to come once more, but she knows she will. They set a slow pace. Jester rocks her hips in a rolling pattern as Fjord massages her breasts, pinching one nipple as he sucks on the other.

There is no rush now.

This time it’s a slow pace, building up gradually. Jester feels tears run down her cheeks, but she can’t pinpoint an exact reason. She suspects it’s part exhaustion from her former orgasms, partly because this slow pace so intimate, partly because she heard her friend for a moment.

Minutes later, the gentle rocking turns to frantic thrusts. Fjord holds her hips once again, leaving bruises in the shape of his fingers that she knows will appear tomorrow.

Wet slaps fill the air as he thrusts up into her at the same time as he’s slamming her down on himself. Jester continues to rub her clit, her other hand buried in Fjord’s hair, scraping against his scalp. It’s a brutal pace, especially after the other times, but it makes her feel so so so good. She’s crying now, from the overwhelming feelings.

Jester leans down, kissing Fjord deeply.

Then she moves her head, biting into his shoulder as her third orgasm turns her into a mewling wreck. She tastes blood, but Fjord doesn’t say anything, just continues his brutal, stuttering movements until he spills inside of her.

It makes her feel impossibly full and filthy, but Jester doesn’t care.

She doesn’t know what this is, any of it, but as Fjord pulls out of her and cradles her in his arms, Jester swear she’s never felt as loved in her life.  

Chapter Text

For the first time in his life, Fjord is not alone when he wakes up.

It takes him a moment to realize where he is, and had it not been for Jester’s arms around him, he would have been ready for an attack. Even so, he almost summons his falchion. The light filters in through the windows in the other room, letting him know he’s slept for longer than normal.

Stranger still is that he’s used to waking up in the complete dark.

In a way, it feels like a metaphor. How his life’s been dark and lonely for as long as he can remembers, but now it’s bright and he’s no longer alone. Fjord feels cared for, like he doesn’t have to only rely on himself. A foolish thing, really.

Fjord turns around to face Jester, looking at the rays of light on her face.

He wants to savour this moment of peace and quiet for as long as he can, as he doesn’t know when - or if - he’ll ever get to do so again. So he buries his face in Jester’s skin, drawing in the scent of sweat, of lingering sex and something achingly familiar.

Directing his focus on that scent, Fjord closes his eyes and thinks, trying to force his mind to remember.

---

He’s walking next to a blue-skinned girl.

It’s late and he’s tired. It’s been a long day, filled with exploration and pranks and laughter and too many pastries.

She’s talking, but he doesn’t pay enough attention to really hear her. He struggles to focus on the words, his feet dragging, stumbling. She catches him before he falls, her laugh replaced with worry as she asks if he is okay.

He tells her he’s fine; he’s just tired, that’s all.

The girl apologizes, as though it’s her fault he can’t listen to his own body well enough to know when he’s reached his limit. Still, he feels it’s all been worth it. He’s never had as much in his life and he dearly hopes it’s not the last time.

It’s still a bit of a walk before they’re back though.

“Here,” the girl says. “You can lean on me Fjord, it’s okay.”

He does as she asks, and one of her arms wrap around his waist, holding him close and upright. She’s just a bit taller than him, so he leans his head on her shoulder. He likes the way she smells. Like laughter and sunlight and pastries. Sweet and warm.

“You smell good,” he whispers against her skin as she continues to talk.

He feels her throat move as she swallows, almost kisses her there to see if she tastes as good as she smells, if he can taste the sunlight and sugar. Maybe she even tastes like laughter. He doesn’t know if that’s even a thing, but he wants to find out.

‘You smell like home,’ he thinks to himself, but saying it out loud would feel like a confession, and it’s something he is not ready for.

---

Fjord’s eyes burst open, heart pounding in his chest.

“Jester.” He whispers her name into her skin, overcome with conflicting emotions. Her arms pull him tighter in response, but it seems she’s still asleep and unaware. He repeats her name, cursing himself for the tears that threaten to spill. “Jester.”

A knock on the door disturbs the peace, and Fjord jumps up.

There’s a muffled sound from the bed, then Jester sits up. As she does, the sheet falls away from her body, and the result of last night become visible in the light.
Fjord’s never bothered taking care of anyone before, keeping his touches to the bare minimum.

And yet, Jester’s body is covered in marks made by his mouth and tusks, accompanied by some bruises on her hips from when he helped her move.

These marks, these claims are different from the jewels and jewelry he’s given her.

For the first time in his life, Fjord looks at someone and thinks mine , thinks I want her , thinks stay here with me . It’s terrifying, and not something he can afford to think of now, especially as Sabien enters the abode before Fjord can reach the door.

Fjord and Jester are both naked, and Fjord does his best to shield her from Sabien’s view by blocking the doorway.

Then he remembers the curtain, and draws it closed before stepping into the other room to find out what his second couldn’t wait to tell him.

“What?” he growls out, fists clenching and unclenching. “What was so important it couldn’t wait ‘til I got back? TELL ME!” He nearly shouts the last part, then remembers Jester on the other side of the curtain.

There’s a look in Sabien’s eyes that Fjord is too agitated to comprehend.

“There are news of the next Temple, my King. I thought you should know before Avantika sets sail without you.”

Fjord waits for a moment before replying.

“We’ll deal with this in my quarters. Go ahead, I’ll be there in a moment.”

Sabien’s eyes flicker towards the curtain.

“Go.” Fjord says the word with barely contained anger, and enjoys watching Sabien scurry out the door like the coward he is.

“Fjord? Is everything okay?” Jester asks as soon as the door slams shut behind Sabien.

He walks into the room, taking a moment to admire how Jester looks, sheet held up to cover her body. It does nothing to calm him, but it changes his focus from Sabien to her.

“‘s alright darlin’,” he answers, as he lets his eyes rake over her form. He sees it in her eyes when she notices his attention stir, as her tail flickers. Fjord hopes her thoughts are focused on the same thing as his own.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks, and she licks her lips in what seems an unconscious motion.

“I’m thinkin’ of how much I’d like to continue where we left off.” Being honest with Jester about this feels different. Feels honest .

“Oh.”

One heartbeat. Two. Then Jester lets go of the sheet, rising up so nothing is left to Fjord’s imagination. Not that much was at this point anyway, not when he’d gotten a good glimpse mere minutes ago. Especially not after last night.

“Do you have to go?” Jester looks at him through lowered lashes, one fang biting into her lower lip.

Fjord is on her before she can utter another word.

“I have some time yet,” he whispers against her lips, drawing her into a deep kiss.

---

It takes a good while longer than a moment before Fjord returns to his quarters.

He’s dressed in yesterday’s clothes, reeking of sweat and sex, exhausted by the lack of food His normally tamed hair is disheveled, making it obvious what he is been up to. Fjord doesn’t give a fuck.  There’s breakfast waiting for him at the table, and he inspects it before he begins to eat, to make sure Sabien’s not helped himself while waiting.

As Fjord eats, Sabien goes over the information relayed by Jamedi.

Fjord’s mind should be on Uk’otoa, on the temple, on keeping Avantika from getting the power rightfully his own. It takes a moment for him to realise Sabien’s stopped talking, so Fjord just jawns and raises an eyebrow at him, waiting for him to continue.

“What should we do to the prisoners while you’re gone?” Sabien asks him.

“Leave them be, as they are. Nothing’s changed. Jester’s free to wander as she sees fit. The others too, as long as they stay on the island.”

 

“What do you mean, ‘ nothing’s changed’ ? You got what you wanted, right? Why do you even want to keep her around for? She’s just another warm, wet hole for you to fill, like Avantika and every other whore you’ve bedded, just like her famed courtesan of a mother… Expensive whore more like. They’re all the same...”

The falchion is in Fjord’s hand before he can blink, and he presses the blade against Sabien’s throat as he backs the man up against the wall. He growls at his second, at the man who dares to call Jester by such terms.

“Don’t you fucking dare! She is nothing like them. Jester is not a possession , not a thing, or someone to be used! She’s her own person. You are not to lay a finger on her, is that clear? Nor will you speak to her.”

Fjord looks at Sabien, at the drop of blood that slides down his throat as the blade cuts his skin when he swallows.

“You know,” Fjord starts, cocking his head to the side. “I would almost think you’re jealous, Sabien. You sure it’s not because you want to have someone fill your hole, hmmm? Maybe you would like to take her place in my bed, maybe you’d like to be another one of my whores? Just. Like. Avantika.”

He makes sure he doesn’t touch Sabien, not wanting to soil himself with someone who thinks so little of someone who means so much to him.

Then…

“What did you mean about her mother? How do you know about her?”

Sabien’s breath grows erratic, more blood trickling down his throat.

“I, I don’t know.”

“Last chance, Sabien. How. Do. You. Know.”

There’s a knock at the door, interrupting them. Fjord steps away, though he’d much rather step closer and sink the blade into Sabien’s throat.

Fjord had not expected it to be Avantika, but she’s there, dressed in her typical gear. Only this time, the shirt she usually wears underneath her sleeveless vest is gone, leaving an unobstructed view of the eye Uk’otoa marked her with.

Weeks ago, Fjord would have taken that as a wordless invitation, would have thrown Sabien out of the room and Avantika into bed.

Not this time. Not anymore.

“What do you want?” he asks her, falchion still clutched in his hands.

Avantika shrugs, a brief flare of disappointment crossing her face.

“Just wondered if you were still alive after your dinner last night. Don’t you know you can’t trust outsiders?”

I trust them more than you.

“Worried you’d have to deal with the next temple alone? That I wouldn’t be there to gain the favour before you even leave your ship?” Fjord retorts, not having time for her games. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

Sabien takes the opportunity to slink outside while Fjord is focused on Avantika.

“I hear your newest toy finally caved in. You’re losing your touch, my King. You should be glad I don’t care for creatures such as her, or else she would be resting in my bed right now.”

“Darlin’, don’t even try. Jealousy really doesn’t suit you. You didn’t last even five seconds. Why don’t you go shack up with Sabien? It’s clear you both have some unresolved tension going on. The pair of you can even pretend you’re with me, cause he sounded just like you, until he had my blade at his throat. Not the one he wanted, clearly, but one takes what one can.”

Fjord takes a moment to admire Avantika’s control of her emotions.

Had it been anyone else, furniture would have been flying his way right now.

He laughs at the door closes behind her with savagely controlled anger. The words may have been cruel, and he doesn’t think Sabien’s inclined towards men, not from what he’s seen anyways. His second might not have had many women in his bed, but it stems from the kind of person he is, not the one he thinks he is and wants to be.

Fjord’s been witness to years of awkward attempts from Sabien’s side, almost all of them failed. And most of the successful ones have stemmed from Fjord paying whores to do it, so he doesn’t have to listen to Sabien whine.
Or worse yet, listening to Sabien take care of it himself on the ship.

There are other things on Fjord’s mind right now.

Like how to make sure nothing happens to Jester while he’s away. 

Chapter Text

Hours after Fjord and Avantika’s departure, rumours begin to filter in, rumours of a ship headed for the Menagerie Coast that they are to stay clear of.
Aboard it, the people on the island whisper, is a goliath and pair of gnomes, all so powerful that they slayed a would-be God.

Some might say it’s a good thing they left before the rumours arrived.

Because if what the people say proves to be true, then they would surely stop Avantika and Fjord from raising Uk’otoa. Maybe even kill them to stop them.
Sabien grins to himself. Such a shame that would be, if the King and the woman who’s been trying to become the Queen were to die.

Surely the people would approve of a new, better King, one who knows how to rule and will further the interests of the island’s inhabitants.

Sabien walks towards Jester’s abode.

---

Her friends are gathered around her, but still Jester feels alone.

She’s shared so much about herself with Fjord, and yet she hardly knows anything about the new him. About this version of him, who rules an island and holds so many lives in his hands.

Jester’s been too scared to ask, and now Fjord’s off on some expedition or something.

It’s not that she doesn’t trust him, because despite her best efforts she does, despite knowing so little. Avantika, on the other hand… Knowing they’ve set off together, having seen the way Avantika looks at Fjord and at her, it doesn’t take much to see they have a history of sorts.

Fjord said they each have their own ship, will be sailing separately with their own crew.

She hopes Fjord knows what kind of woman Avantika is, that she’s the type to stop at nothing until she gets her will. Jester’s seen it clearly in her eyes, heard the hushed whispers of the people on the island.

---

“I’m leaving,” Fjord had told her, returning later that day.

“Oh, okay.” Leaving? Why? For how long? Her mind had filled with doubt, fear that he was leaving because of her.

“I’ve instructed the guards to make sure nothing happens while I’m away. They’re to treat you just as they have since you and the others were moved into your new quarters.”

“Will you be gone long?”

“Shouldn’t be more than a few days, ‘s long as all goes according to plan.”

Jester hadn't been able to speak, so she just nodded.

“Don’t worry. No one’s gonna hurt you.”

The statement had been an unexpected surprise.

“Oh, I’m not worried about me.” At least, she hadn’t been up until his statement. “I’m more worried about you out there. You’re a pirate after all and I know that there are pirate hunters out there and I don’t want you to get hurt and...”

She had looked at Fjord, grabbed a hold of both his hands.

“I don’t trust Avantika.”

“I’ll be fine darlin’,” Fjord had replied, then he’d drawn her into a kiss so deep that for a moment Jester had been unsure they would ever truly be seperate people again. “I can handle myself.”

“Fjord? Why are you leaving?”

He had looked at her in a way that had made her think he wouldn’t tell her.

“I’m gonna help the creature that spared me from drowning.”

---

The knock on the door brings Jester back to the present.

She’s never been alone with Sabien before, and Jester’s never been more relieved to have her friends there with her as she opens the door.
There’s a queer look in his eyes as he grabs a hold of her, ignoring the others as he steps into the room and closes the door behind him.

“Have you heard the rumours?” he asks her.

“What rumours?” Beau pipes up, now standing just behind here.

“There’s a ship in these waters, with powerful people aboard. Avantika, Fjord, they don’t know about them. Did he tell you what they’re doing out there?”

“He said he is helping someone who helped him…”

Sabien nods.

“Uk’otoa. The thing is, the people aboard that ship? They won’t understand, especially since one of them is a cleric of Sarenrae. If they find out what Fjord and Avantika are up to, they’ll kill them. You have to distract them. But don’t tell Fjord or Avantika, because they’ll only try to take them on. I know that you care for him, and you’re not the only one, so do this for him, please.”

Jester glances over her shoulder, looking at her friends.

They’re all standing now, forming a wall of support at her back. They got this. They can do this. She’ll not let Fjord go, not again, not this time.

“I’ll get a ship for you, with a small crew. Be at the docks in an hour. I’ll get you your things back.”

“We’ll see you there,” Jester responds, steel in her voice.

---

The hour passes by quickly, and Sabien is barely able to keep from grinning.

His plan worked wonderfully, he thinks as he watches the ship with his carefully selected crewmembers, watched the people who threaten to upend everything come running.

He act like he is just wandering the docks, so none might notice his involvement.

Sabien watches them board, and the ship’s barely left the bay before he walks back to the King’s quarters. The King did leave him in charge, after all, so why should he not have access to all the King’s got?
It’ll only help him prepare for when it’s his turn to take the throne.

---

“I don’t trust him at all,” Jester tells her friends, making sure they’re out of earshot of the crew.

“Just say the word Jessie,” Beau replies, cracking her knuckles.

The Mighty Nein looks around the ship, observing the crew, trying to judge if they can be trusted. It doesn’t take long before they realise they can’t, and they make a plan to all stay in Caleb’s bubble for the night, taking watch as they do.

It’s hard to see where they’re sailing, but Caleb knows they’re at least sailing back towards The Menagerie Coast.

Not that it helps, as they don’t know where the ship is sailing from or where it’s headed. Asking the crew provides them with nothing but vague answers which only serves to make them more at edge.

Night falls, and they’re all sitting inside Caleb’s bubble up on deck, as it’s too large to fit in any of the cabins below.

“I think he just said it to get rid of you Jessie,” Nott says. “I think he is threatened by you.”

“Yeah, but why though?” Beau asks. “I mean…”

“I knew him,” Jester admits at last. “I knew them both.”

Her friends stare at her, and only Caduceus doesn’t seem surprised.

“We were friends when we were kids. Fjord and Sabien were on a ship with this guy called Vandran cause they were orphans and he took them in. He was kinda like their dad, you know? Fjord was my first friend and we used to send letters to each other and then meet up when he was in Nicodranas. I think Sabien didn’t like me even then…”

She pauses.

“And then… one day I stopped hearing from him. I heard later there had been an attack on their ship. Then I started sending messages to him, even though I knew he was dead, because I just wanted to tell him about our adventures. And then one day he replied but I thought it was just a dream or a prank.”

Beau places a hand on her shoulder.

“But then it turned out he is alive! Only… he’s not the Fjord I knew, right? He doesn’t remember me, doesn’t know who I am or that we used to be friends. It’s been really fucking hard, pretending it’s all okay, so I just started acting like we’d just met, telling him about growing up and our adventures because it was easier that way.”

Her friends all look at her.

“And this Sabien, he never... said anything to Fjord?” Caleb asks.

Jester shakes her head. “I don’t think think he liked me, even back then. The few times I saw him, he never looked, oh, I don’t know, happy? I just thought that that’s the way he looks, you know? But now…”

“Maybe he was jealous,” Molly quips. “I’d want this Fjord to myself as well.”

She punches him lightly in the arm, but there’s enough force behind it still to make sure Molly knows what she thinks of his statement.

“You love him,” Yasha adds, in her usual matter-of-fact tone.

Love him? Does she, already? Jester likes him, really likes him, so much so that she trusted him to be her first kiss and first sexual experience. She’s learnt from her mama that one thing does not equal the others; that you can love without sex, and have sex without love.

The books she’s read have all been filled with romance, of heroic deeds, the hero sweeping sweeping people off their feet.

Someone always needs rescuing, and the person rescued and their saviour always fall in love.
There’s been nothing of the sort here, in her experience. She did read a story, once, about a princess held prisoner who slowly fell in love with the one who held her, and it had been her ability to love that person that saved them from themselves.

Jester’s never fancied herself the hero, not on her own anyway.

But maybe…

“We’re going to find that ship and help Fjord however we can.”

---

Later, when it’s her watch, Jester takes out her notebook, begins sketching.

“Hi Traveler, are you there? I’m sorry I haven’t talked to you lately. I don’t know what to do… Fjord is in danger and I’m going to save him but I don’t know how to do this.”

A shimmer appears before her, the familiar hood that obscures the face, and that barely visible jaw.

“I am always here, child.”

She lets out a small, nervous sound that’s almost a laugh.

“Do you know anything about this Uk’otoa guy? Fjord said he saved him but I’m not sure what to think.”

“Be careful,” the Traveler whispers to her. “I do not know much about this creature, but I have been watching, listening, and it is not something you wish released on this world.”

“Oh…”

“Seek the Champion of the Everlight. She will aid you.”

The Everlight? Jester writes it down, not sure what it means.

When she looks up again, The Traveler is gone.

“Did you have a nice chat?” Caduceus, calm as ever, asks her, and Jester yelps, not aware anyone else was awake.

“Caduceus, you scared me!”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says, and she can barely see that small smile on his face. She’s never quite sure what it means, to be honest.

“Do you know anything about Sarenrae? Or the Everlight?”

Caduceus stills for a moment, thinking.

“Yeah, I do actually.” He doesn’t offer any more information than that.

“What do you know then?”

“Oh, right. Sorry ‘bout that.” Caduceus then proceeds to tell her what little he knows about Sarenrae, known also as the Everlight and the Dawnflower.

Jester listens, soaks up the information he gives her, then leaves him to his watch.
Her dreams are filled with water so dark it’s black, suddenly pierced by a bright shining beacon.

---

In the morning, she asks if the others know anything about Sarenrae, but she doesn’t learn much more from their answers than from what Caduceus had shared with her during the night.

“Do you think this cleric of hers can help?”

“The Traveler told me to seek the Champion of the Everlight , said that she will help us.”

Jester feels nervous, wants to pet Frumpkin if Caleb allows her to, but before she can ask him he sees his hand in placed on Beau’s shoulder in a familiar fashion, and she knows Caleb’s observing through the eyes of his familiar.

They all wait for what feels like an eternity, until Caleb comes back to himself.

“Learn anything useful?” Molly asks him, and Caleb offers the barest hint of a smile in reply.

“I learnt that Sabien handpicked them, that he has planned to get rid of us, Jester specifically, since the moment he saw Jester.  There is a small island, maybe two days journey from here, where they have been instructed to leave us.” Caleb grins, a hint of something feral crossing his face. ”They are not very clever these people, which is good for us, ja ?”

“Cowards,” Nott, Yasha and Beau says at the same time.

“Well, why don’t we just swap the plan then?” Molly asks. “I mean, we can give them a chance, sure - join us or walk the proverbial plank. Oh, maybe we could get an actual plank and make them jump!”

Jester laughs, and it feels good.

“Sure, why not? It can’t be that hard to steer a ship, right?”

---

“Actually, I spoke too soon actually,” Jester said two days later, as they watched the already small island grown smaller and smaller.

The ship’s former crew/their former captors had all chosen to walk the plank, as Molly had gotten just at they wanted, by having Yasha tear away a board from the deck.
At least they all had made sure to observe the crew, and Caleb’s perfect memory ensures he remembers all he’s seen and heard.

Right now though, night’s fallen as the storm is edging ever closer, there is no help in that whatsoever.

Jester holds onto the wheel as hard as she can, doing her best to hold the ship to course. Not they really know the course they’re setting, but before the night sky clouded over, Caleb had manage to recognise stars and constellations from their trip out to sea, so at least they’re headed for land.

She hopes.

Lightning flashes, and she thinks she spots a ship not too far away. It’s impossible to see the colours of the flags because the world has been reduced to shades of grey, and the rain limits the range of her vision.

They continue on their journey, following the other ship as it seems it’s headed for the coast as well.

An hour later, an island appears on the horizon, and the other ship changes its course for it. Not long after, Jester sees why; there’s a naturally sheltered bay where ships can anchor up for the night and during storms.

She makes a split-second decision, turning the wheel to do as the other ship.

It’s a chance they have to take at this point, inexperienced as they are out in an open storm which only seems to grow in size. Maybe she’ll ask Yasha later if storms like these means the Stormlord is in a good mood or a bad one. If they survive this, that is.

The flags on their own ship have been swapped out to make it appear they’re a simple merchant vessel.

Jester feels the pressure in the air, tastes the static and knows the storm is coming ever closer. So close, in fact that the ship now rumbles when the thunder rumbles and the lightning strikes almost at the same time as the thunder clashes.

They make it to the cove, larger than she thought and so there’s ample space for both their ship and the other.

The anchor is dropped, and Caleb summons his protective bubble again. This night, no one sleeps, and Yasha even stays outside, soaked through, appearing as though she’s drawing energy for the storm.

Jester sees light from the other ship as well, feels their eyes on them the entire night, but no one leaves and so they wait, for the storm to end and the sun to rise.

Chapter Text

Fjord is distracted the whole trip, but does his best not to let it show., as it would just be seen as a weakness, and it’s the last thing he can afford.

The journey  is easy, straightforward. Avantika’s ship is nowhere in sight, and Fjord feels easier knowing that his own ship is ahead of hers.

Rest at night, however, does not come easy. Fjord is restless, tossing and turning as he dreams of himself as a child, of Sabien and an unknown older man. As he dreams of Jester.
The dreams are unclear as first, as though observed through morning fog before the sun’s risen above the horizon, and all sounds are muted.

His dreams? memories? get clearer in time, and Fjord begins to write down what he remembers as soon as he wakes. For some reason, he feels they are important, that he needs to remember them.

A storm looms on the horizon, and thankfully Fjord spots it before it’s too late.

His crew is forced to find a place to shore up for the duration, but they see no such place on the horizon; just an endless expanse of blue. It’s been a while since Fjord was last out this way, and he can’t remember which way the nearest safe cove would be.

Fjord knows from Jester’s stories that her deity talks with her, not just to her like Uk’otoa does to him.

It makes him feel foolish, but Fjord still thinks it might be worth a try. He’s never attempted it before, and it’s only to ensure he’ll make it in order to free Uk’otoa after all, so maybe the large, many-eyed creature will aid him.

He’s about to enter his cabin to attempt something, anything, when one of the newest mages calls out to him.

“Captain!”

“What is it?” Fjord asks, turning to find a woman with a hawk on her outstretched arm.

“I sent out my familiar to scout. There’s an island in that direction -” she says, pointing to the north, “and there seems to be a protected cove where we can seek shelter from the storm.”

He’s impressed, but doesn’t say so.

“Good. You heard her men, set sail due north!”

The crew spring into action, and Fjord begins to enter his cabin.

“Thank you,” he tells her, casting a quick glance over his shoulder.

“You’re welcome, Captain.”

They reach the island just before the storm hits, and the mage and her familiar was thankfully right - there is a sheltered cove, and they even manage to turn the ship around before dropping anchor, so they can start again as soon as the storm’s passed or calmed enough.

---

It rages harder and for longer than Fjord thought when he first spotted signs of it.

The morning after the storm, Fjord jolts awake, a hollow feeling in his chest. His mind goes to Jester, to… Vandran. A feeling of great loss surges through him and he stumbles out of bed confused, before falling into the chair by his desk.

Picking up a pen, he spills ink in his hurry to write down what he dreamt.

He’s just finished when there’s a knock on the door, and Avantika enters before he can say or do anything but cover up his writings. Fjord hopes the ink’s not smudged so bad he won’t be able to look over it later, when his head is clear.

“What do you want?” he asks her, not caring to hide his annoyance over her presence.

“Isn’t it obvious?” It’s a statement, not a question, especially as her eyes rake over his naked form.

“Don’t bother.”

Avantika almost pouts at that, but she keeps her composure.

“Did you think you’d come here and distract me, then set off to the last temple and place the orb before me?” Fjord asks, knowing Avantika and her thirst for power well enough by now.

She laughs.

“I was going to offer you something better than her. Some one better, in trade for the last orb and the powers. I would even let you keep your seat, even though I’m coming out of this stronger than you.”

“What?”

“Did you not hear what I just said?” Avantika scowls at him, in the way she so often scowls at Sabien when he opens his mouth.

“No, I heard you alright. I just wondered why you think I have the orb?”

There’s a pause in which they lock eyes, assessing each other, looking for a lie but finding none.

“Sabien.”

They say the name at the same time, as a curse, as though it should have been obvious from the beginning.

It’s not the only name that rings in Fjord’s mind, but it’s the only one he says out loud.
Jester.
Jester is alone, back on the island with Sabien, and if what Jester told him the first night and his dreams as of late are true, then Fjord needs to get back, to make sure she’s okay.

---

Each day is more agonizing than the last.

Fjord would have hoped Jester would send him another Message, curses himself for not making sure he brought someone along who knows that particular spell. Sabien’s always been a pain in the ass, but Fjord never suspected the other man of being clever enough to pull of something like this.

He uses his powers over water to make the ship move faster for as long as he can, not caring what the crew might think.
Time passes too slowly, until finally Darktow is on the horizon.

I’m coming Jester, just hold on, please.

Fjord doesn’t even wait for the gangplank to be lowered; instead he jumps off of the ship, the planks of the docks threatening to give in as he lands.
Fjord doesn’t stop to think, runs to the house where Jester’s friends were placed.

No guards stand outside, and once he enters Fjord finds all of their items are gone as well, leaving the place as abandoned as it had been not that many days ago. It’s almost as though they were never even there.

He tears through the streets, heading for Jester’s small abode, throwing the door open when he reaches it.

Motes of dust dance in the air as the sun filters in.

The place is dark. No voice or presence welcomes him, no flash of blue and laughter. He enters the other room, tearing the curtain away to find the drawers and doors of the wardrobe and dresser open and empty, as though she left in a hurry.

Fjord sinks to the floor in the bedroom, knees hitting the soft carpet in a dull thud.

She left?

“Yes.”

Fjord’s not aware of asking the question out loud until Sabien answers him.

“She’s gone Fjord,” Sabien says. “Jester never wanted you; she was just too terrified of you to refuse your… advances. Eating with you, accepting your multitude of gifts, allowing you to fuck her, it was all to make sure she survived. As soon as you left, she grabbed her friends and left. I saw them leaving the harbour, and she never looked back.”

Fjord’s hands are tight fists, his nails drawing blood from his palms.

“Why didn’t you try to stop her?” He asks Sabien, aware of his own voice sounding distant.

“What good would that do, forcing her to stay here against her will? Did you think she loved you? That she’d stay here with you forever, even after you tired of using her for your own pleasure? She saw you for the monster you are.” Sabien laughs, and something inside Fjord snaps.

Sabien stumbles back, attempting to use the curtain to hold himself up, but failing.

Fjord rises slowly, his falchion dripping of Sabien’s blood. Next to his foot lies Sabien’s severed hand, and Sabien whimpers from pain, trying to stop his hand from bleeding. Trying to save himself.

“I don’t believe you,” Fjord says, and it’s a lie, lie, lie .

Fjord knows he cannot trust Sabien, but the words still ring true in his mind. He’s a monster, a murderer, someone trying to free an ancient creature just for the sake of power. He’s killed more people than he can count, and Fjord knows he’s always had a choice.

Jester is everything Fjord is not. Kind, compassionate, someone who believes there’s good in everyone and Fjord could never deserve someone like her.

He knows he kept her, and her friends, against their will. Knows he tried to make her stay, despite knowing all that, all because he saw something in her, something he still can’t describe. Fjord fears that had she stayed, all the joy and life would have left her, she would have ended up a corrupted husk with not even a trace of her former self.

Fjord’s dreams from the past few days comes back clearer and clearer.

No. They’re memories. He knows that now. Jester knew him. They were friends and Fjord might even have been in love with her. She believed in him, when not even Vandran did.

Vandran. Who was…

“Who is Vandran?”

“What?”

“I SAID,” Fjord shouts out. “WHO. IS. VANDRAN. Tell me, and I might let you live.”

Sabien manages to look afraid and defiant at the same time.

“Vandran,” Sabien spits, ”took us is. Tried to be our dad, tried to ‘make us men’. Oh, how you looked up to him, Fjord. For a while, all you could talk about was Vandran this, Vandran that. And then you met that whore…”

Fjord punches Sabien hard enough to make some of his teeth fall out.

“And everything was about her. Jester, Jester, Jester. Made me deliver and pick up letters between the two of you when you couldn’t go yourself. Skipped work to see her, leaving it all to me. And Vandran was never mad at you, never yelled, just told you that he was glad you’d made a friend, but that he hoped you wouldn’t ‘shirk your work’.”

Fjord picks Sabien up by his throat, holding him unbearably close.

“So? It doesn’t explain why you never said anything after I lost my memories. Unless I was right, and you were jealous.”

“Vandran never cared for me. He just needed help on his ship and I was desperate enough to get away from the orphanage. If I knew I’d end up you, I would’ve rather stayed there. Instead I had to spend years listening to how quick of a learner you were, almost natural.”

There’s venom in his voice as he speaks the words.

“When I found out you didn’t remember shit, I figured I could at least use you. Sure, you knew how to sail and work on a ship, but you couldn’t remember and had to start from scratch. And no pirate brags about another, like your precious Vandran did. Here, you do what you’re told or get punished if not. I wasn’t better than you, but at least we were equal.”

Fjord bares his tusks.

“Oh, you couldn’t possibly be more wrong, Sabien. What, you thought you would make Plank King one day? Don’t make me laugh. They’d never accept someone as weak and pathetic as you.”

With that, Fjord tightens his grip on Sabien’s throat, watching intently until he passes out, but lets up before he dies. So they think him a monster? He’ll show them one.

Not yet though, not yet.

For now, Sabien is placed in a small cell outside, so that the saltwater and sunlight will wash over him. One of the usual cells would be a kindness, even without food and water. Outside though, the birds will peck at him, he’ll roast in the sun and the salt from the ocean will stick to him and enter his wounds. Fjord suspects Sabien will long for even a taste of the ocean water before long.

---

That night, Fjord’s dreams turn to nightmares.

He remembers things from his childhood, from when he was young and carefree and friends with Jester. He dreams of happy times, of laughter. But it all turns dark, turns bloody. Happy laughter turns to dark, teasing, terrifying laughter. Jester’s smiles turns to looks of terror as he runs from him, not towards him.

“Why are you running?” the young Fjord in his dreams aks her. “I thought you liked me? Aren’t we friends?”

“I could never be friends with a monster,” the young Jester replies.

As she runs, a large, many eyed snake rises up from the depths of the ocean, tendrils of smoke and water reaching out for the fleeing form of Jester.

Fjord wakes up, shaking, drenched in sweat, the image of Jester being torn apart by Uk’otoa forever burned into his retinas.
He turns to the side, barely avoiding throwing up in the bed. Instead it splatters all over the floor, and it doesn’t stop, it never stops and when he thinks there’s nothing more that can come out of his stomach, Fjord heaves and heaves until saltwater leaves his stomach and lungs, until his throat is sore and he feels like he can’t breathe, it feels as though he is drowning.

Fjord startles awake, for real this time, and he finds he's no longer in his own bed, but in the one that belonged to Jester. 

Then the doors creaks open.

Chapter Text

Dawn breaks, but Jester’s resolve doesn’t.

They have a quick and quiet breakfast, all too aware of the crew aboard the other ship. Please let the Traveler be right. Jester wants to take Nott with her, because Nott is her best friend but she’s also a goblin. In other words, not someone to bring with you when you need their aid.

“Beau? Caduceus? Can you come with me please?” She asks them, all too conscious of who she asks - and who she doesn’t ask.

“Of course Jessie,” Beau replies, giving her an awkward pat on the shoulder ad Caduceus nods.

“Take Frumpkin with you,” Caleb says, handing over his cat. “We do not know what kind of people they are.”

Jester smiles and pecks him on the cheek. “Thank you Caleb, I promise I’ll take good care of him for you!”

With that, they go into one of the small boats, lowering it carefully down onto the water. Jester sees Caleb place a hand on Nott as he changes his focus into that of Frumpkin. The last thing she sees before the side of the ship obscures her vision are the worried looks on her friends’ faces.

“So, what do we tell ‘em?” Beau asks as Jester rows the boat across to the other ship.

“I don’t know… I mean, we probably can’t tell them everything, probably. But we don’t really know much about what’s going on either, so.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Caduceus says. “The followers of the Everlight are good people so this one will be too.”

Jester rows the last stretch in silence, trying to find out how to best explain their problem and ask for help, without being rejected, or without making Fjord come to harm. It’s all to help him, to bring him back, not to lose him, not again.

“Permission to come aboard?” she yells, once they’ve reached the other ship. “We seek aid from the Champion of the Everlight.”

“An’ who might you be?” a gruff voice asks, as a large, pale face marked with tattoos poke over the edge. “‘ow do we know you’re not here to kill us?”

“Oh, I don’t know Grog, they don’t look like a dangerous bunch, do they?” A large, purple hand appears, a gnome resting comfortably in the palm. “Besides, you’re way stronger than them; I bet you could take them all without our help.”

“Scanlan…” another voice, female this time, says. It sounds exasperated, but fond. “It’s okay, they can come aboard. Give them a hand, will you?”

“Your wish is my command, Pikey-poo.”

The giant hand disappears for a moment, then returns empty to lift them aboard, one by one. It gives a new meaning to ‘a helping hand’, really, Jester briefly thinks, before her feet land gently on the deck.

Jester first notices goliath, his grey skin covered in scars and tattoos, but it’s the beard that really catches her attention.

On his shoulders, two gnomes are perched. One is the purple-clad owner of the equally purple hand, on the other a woman, with white hair and a scar across one of her eyes. She’s dressed in armour the colour of silver, with flashes of blue fabric. On her chest is the bright emblem of a sun, leaving no confusion as to who she is.

“Care to tell us why you seek the Champion’s aid?” the first gnome asks. His voice sound casual, but his demeanor is not.

Jester looks to Beau and Caduceus, then back to the trio in front of her.

“It’s kind of a long story, kind of, and I don’t really know all of it, but…” She begins to trail of, not knowing how to phrase it, when Beau’s hand lands on her shoulder, offering support, awkward as it is.

“Okay, so, short version is; Jester’s childhood friend was captured by pirates and lost his memories. He’s now their king and apparently he’s out there trying to free this creature called Uk’otoa or some shit cause that thing is like, his patron or something?”

Silence falls for a moment.

“So he’s bad then?” the goliath, Grog, asks. “You want our help to kill him?”

“NO!” Jester shouts the word before she’s aware of it. “Fjord’s my friend, and I know he doesn’t remember me, but I know he’s still in there somewhere. There’s this other guy, Sabien, who he grew up with that also got taken, and he knows everything about before but he never told Fjord any of it.”

“What makes you think he can be saved?” Sarenrae’s champion asks. There’s no judgement in her voice; it’s just a question.

Jester looks into her eyes.

“Because he was my first friend, and I was his. Because he cares, for me and for those he’s responsible for. Because I think he is beginning to remember me, from before. The morning he left, after… The way he said my name, it was just like he used to when we were kids.” She takes a deep breath. “Most importantly, though, I know because I love him.”

The truth of the last statement settles over her like a second skin, shifts something inside of her, and she feels whole again.

“Please. I know Fjord’s not evil. When I asked him why he was leaving, he said it’s because he’s going to help the creature who saved him from drowning. When he said it, I know it’s true. But it’s not just because he’s re-paying his debts, but also because there’s this woman, Avantika, who also works to free Uk’otoa, but…”

“She’s a hot evil bitch,” Beau finishes. “I’d fuck her, but not fuck with her, you know?”

“How hot we talkin’?” Grog asks, and Beau just grins in reply. Grog laughs, then tries to pretend he didn’t. “Well, maybe we should help these people, just so that thing isn’t released, right? Or we can kill it and maybe the Slayer’s Take wanna buy the parts!”

The gnomes laugh at that, clearly knowing all too well what’s on Grog’s mind.

Sarenrae’s Champion signals to Grog that she wants to be put down, then walks over to Jester, hand out to shake hers.

“I’m Pike Trickfoot, this is my husband Scanlan and my best buddy Grog. You have my word as Champion of the Everlight that we’ll help you free the man you love. But I want to know, how did you know about me?”

“Oh, The Traveler told me to seek you out! I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he’s like, really cool and he gave me powers and taught me to play pranks and stuff! Even though I haven’t seen his face I’m sure he’s really handsome. He wears this green cloak with a hood that covers his like really green eyes.”

Jester stops talking as she sees Pike’s gaze is focused on the symbol of the Traveler that hangs from her belt.

The gnome’s eyes narrow for a moment, and she seems to be deep in thought.

“How long ago did you first meet him?”

“Oh, I was a kid back then, and he looked like one too! But then as I grew, so did he. He appeared after Fjord...“ Deep breaths Sapphire . “After Fjord disappeared. I was drawing one of my mama’s clients one day because he looked really rich and stuck up so I drew him looking silly in a dress and then the Traveler appeared and told me he liked my work. He asked me to continue drawing like that.”

She takes out her notebook and shows Pike some of the silly drawings she’s done.

Scanlan comes over as well to look, and Jester gets worried when she sees them both look uneasy as they look at her drawings.

“Is something wrong?” she asks them, not really sure she wants to know.

“What do you think Scanlan?” Pike asks him. “Do you think it’s him?”

Scanlan nods in return, but they don’t say anything more than that.

“Let’s set sail. Do you know where he is?”

“No, but he said he’d only be gone for a few days so if he is not back already he should be soon.”

“Good. We’ll take your ship then. I assume it’s one of theirs?” Pike asks, and Jester nods. “I’ll take the helm, and you and your friends do what I tell you. You know the way back, yeah?”

“Caleb does,” Beau says, pointing towards their ship. “We’ve got four friends waiting there. Oh, just so you know, one’s a goblin, but she’s nothing like the rest of them - so don’t harm her and we’re cool. Just don’t tell her I said that.”

Jester sees Scanlan freeze up and his fists tighten.

“Hey Nott, we’re coming back to the ship in a few minutes so maybe you could change into that halfling form you’ve taken before okay?”

Okay Jessie ’, comes the reply in her head.

Thanks to Grog’s rowing, they make it back to their ship in the matter of minutes - which includes the other trio gathering their stuff from their own ship and instructing their small crew to wait where they are until their return.

Once aboard, brief introductions are made, before Pike takes the helm, shouting instructions.

Grog and Scanlan are the first to obey, clearly knowing their own roles when aboard a ship. Jester and her friends have a harder time with it, not knowing the lingo of the various ropes, sails and other things, but Pike is patient and explains it to them.

Caleb stands by her side, remembering the path they took to where they dropped anchor, with Beau up in the crow’s nest keeping an eye out.

“I’m coming Fjord,” Jester whispers to herself, clutching the necklace of emeralds and diamonds he gave her in her hand as she stares ahead towards the island of Tarktow.

---

The journey is long. Well, it feels long, because Jester doesn’t know what to expect when they return. She knows Sabien doesn’t expect them to return at least, and knows that they won’t be able to hide it from him, but it’s been clear that not many on the island respects or even likes Sabien, so she doesn’t think that will be a problem at least.

Her sleep is restless, with warring images of Fjord as the boy she knew and the man she allowed into her bed.

---

It feels like weeks later when Darktow finally appears on the horizon, and the last stretch feels impossibly slow, as though the ship is moving through tar.

“What do we do when we get there?” Nott asks. “They’re gonna attack if they see more outsiders, right?”

“I’ll go see if Fjord’s back, and get him if he is. The rest of you wait here. If you see Sabien or Avantika, keep them from coming aboard, okay? The same goes for anyone else - Fjord and I are the only ones to come aboard, and no one else leaves.”

“We’ve got your back Captain Sapphire,” Beau says, saluting her. “Go get your man.”

The title feels, well, odd, but there’s also a part of Jester that wouldn’t mind so terribly being a captain. As long as she’s not a pirate, that is.

Once they reach the dock, Jester is torn between running through the streets and walking calmly. She’s no idea as to what to expect. Once her feet hit the dock, she looks around, finding both Fjord’s and Avantika’s ship docked as well.

Oh no. No, no, no! He can’t be back already? He wasn’t supposed to be back while she was gone!

Panic begins to set in, and then she spots a familiar shape in a cage. Jester runs over to Sabien, sees his missing hand, the scar on his throat and bruised face. She holds no sympathy for him, not after what he tried to pull, but she needs to know…

“Where is he?”

Sabien just laughs at her, in spite of the pain is clearly causes him.

Jester turns on her heel, marching towards the Plank King’s rooms. There are guards stationed outside as usual, and they seem surprised to see her. She almost walks up to the door, but changes her mind last minute. If she’s to see Fjord, she wants to look better than this. She’s been on the ocean for days, hair matted and skin dry from saltwater, and her dress has seen better days.

Maybe he’ll forgive her for leaving if she wears clothes and jewelry he gave her.

Jester walks back to the small place he gave her, wondering what to wear. She knows she won’t have time to wash her hair, but she should at least be able to quickly wash the salt off of her body and maybe rinse her hair.

She opens the door, walking towards her room.

The room looks trashed, and she sees no items except the furniture in there. Her brows furrow in confusion, just as she sees movement out of the corner of her eye. Jester backs up, summoning her spectral lollipop instinctively, but then…

“Fjord?” She drops her spell, running towards him. “What happened? I didn’t think you’d be back yet! What are you doing in here? Where are my things?”

Jester expects him to kiss her, or at least hug her, but instead he recoils from her, looking confused and angry.

“Why are you here?” He asks her, anger in his voice as well, with an undercurrent of pain.

“What do you mean Fjord?”

“YOU LEFT ME!” He shouts, throwing a candlestick at the mirror, causing it to shatter. “Did you even wait for my ship to leave? Or were you already packed and ready to run away with your friends?”

“I only left to get help!” Jester shouts back at him, holding her ground in the face of the storm brewing on the other side of the bed. “I thought I’d be back before you were and Sabien said we needed to leave, to help you and Avantika - he had a ship with a crew ready for us and I thought he was going to help us but then we found out he only did it so that he could get rid of us, of me!”

Fjord’s breathing is still heavy as he glares at her, and she sees his falchion now grasped in his hand.

She’s all too aware that the bed between them is nothing, that if he wants to he can have his sword at her throat before she can react or even attempt to do anything, but despite of it, or because of it really, Jester isn’t afraid.

“You’ve started to remember.” It’s a statement, not a question. “That morning, after… You thought I was asleep but I was awake. You talked in your sleep, and I heard the way you said my name after you woke up, and it’s just like you used to say it when we were kids.”

Jester slowly crawl onto the bed, moving closer to him, yet giving him the chance to leave if he wants to.

“I don’t trust this Uk’otoa. Yes, Sabien said it’s name and I asked the Traveler about it and I don’t trust it Fjord, it’s not a creature that should be free. I’m glad it saved you from drowning, so that you’re still here with me, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good entity.”

She’s close enough to reach out for him now, and she does, ever so slowly, still giving him the option of pulling away from her, even though it would break her heart if he does.

“Fjord, I love you. Please, let me help you remember.”

Chapter Text

Fjord looks at Jester in front of him, noticing how careful her movements are.

“Fjord, I love you. Please, let me help you remember.”

He hears her words, but his vision blurs, seeing her as the woman she is now and the girl he knew all those years ago. It becomes hard to separate the two, and he hears her stories in his head again; the ones she told him when she first arrived on the island.

Now Fjord can fill in the missing pieces of those stories - himself.

Fjord closes his eyes, breathes in, smelling the ocean by Nicodranas (somehow so different from here in Darktow). feeling the wind on his face and hearing the cries of the gulls. The weight of her head on his shoulder, carefully placed so he wouldn’t be hurt by her horns.

He sees the place they used to sneak off to, hidden away from the world.

A small cluster of trees out on a cliff, overlooking the ocean and the port. Protected and unseen they were, feeling as though they were disconnected from the world in front of them, as though they were gods observing the mortals and their realm.

Back then, gods and deities had meant nothing to them.

They’d used to watch the ships, and Fjord had told her of the varying forms of ships, and the differences between a ship and a boat. He’d taught her to look at the flags in order to see where the ships came from, be it Port Damali or Wildemount, or maybe even Marquet.

Fjord remembers the feel of her hand in his, and the way she smelled of lavender and cinnamon and pastries.

He remembers…

“I loved you,” he says, a realisation, a truth. “All those years ago, I loved you as a friend, and as… more.”

Tears are streaming down Jester’s cheeks now, and there’s a smile on her face. Before he knows it, he’s reaching out to at first wipe the tears away, then to kiss them. Fjord continues, planting kisses over her cheeks, tasting two different kinds of saltwater now. And underneath, that taste he now remembers wondering about as a child.

Even unwashed, Jester somehow smells and tastes better than he remembers from their night together before he left.

“And I love you now,” Fjord says against her lips, before he draws her into a deep kiss.


It’s not a hungry kiss, not this time. Now it’s to truly feel that she’s back with him, to prove to the both of them that he knows her now, knows who she was and who she is, even though Fjord might not fully know himself anymore.

Fjord is crying now as well, memories flooding back to him. He rests his head on Jester’s chest as he cries for the boy he once was, and for the man he became - a man who hurt countless people, robbing them of their possessions and often lives. He cries for Jester, who lost her only friend and showed such bravery when faced with a vastly different version of him years later.

The pieces of a puzzle settles into place; pieces Fjord never knew were missing because he could not recall the larger picture that is his whole life.

Jester holds him in her arms as he breaks down, overcome with repressed emotions and the return of forgotten memories. After becoming the person he’s been for years now, Fjord thought crying was something the weak did, something he only saw in the eyes of those they attacked and captured.

He never thought crying could be liberating, not until now.

The girl from his childhood, the woman he’s come to love whispers calming words to him, stroking his back and entangling her fingers in his hair. It’s all so very different to their former activities in this bed, but Fjord thinks he prefers this , prefers the raw intimacy of letting someone in to one's mind and soul.

“Come with me Fjord,” Jester whispers against his skin. “I found someone who can help you with Uk’otoa, help you get rid of its influence. Please, Fjord. Nothing good will come of freeing it.”

Fjord’s first instinct is to defend Uk’otoa, to explain that he’s alive because of the giant serpent, but the words get stuck in his throat as he remembers the dreams, the words and visions from Uk’otoa, recalls his own actions done in the name of the leviathan born from the promise of power.

He allows Jester to lead him, their fingers entwined as they walk towards the docks.

She continues to lead him aboard a familiar ship, one that he’s seen Sabien abroad before. On deck, he sees Jester’s friends and three new people; two gnomes and a goliath.
One of the gnomes steps forward, dressed is silver and blue, with a blazing sun on her chest.

“Hello Fjord,” she says. “My name is Pike and I am here to help you.”

Fjord looks towards Jester for confirmation, then steps towards Pike. He doesn’t let go of Jester’s hand, and she follows him willingly as he kneels before her, head bowed.

“I remember everything from before,” Fjord begins.

“Jester suspected you might.” Pike interrupts him. “I am not here to help you remember, but to sever the link between you and Uk’otoa. Grog here once got connected to an evil, sentient swords and I severed that connection. Now, before you say anything, I know this isn’t really the same, but with the help of Sarenrae I should be strong enough. You will lose your powers, and I suspect you’ll feel weak after.”

Fjord nods. “I don’t care. Do it.”

Pike’s hands rests on his head, holding him in place without feeling forceful. He sees Jester kneel beside him, her free hand now placed with both of Pike’s on his head. Both women clasps their holy symbols, the metal quickly warming against their skin and his. Fjord closes his eyes as the bright, gold light emanating from the symbol of Sarenrae and the verdant green of the Traveler symbol grow too bright to behold.

He hears the others gasp, and briefly wonders at what a sight the three of them must make, bathed in the light of two deities.

Then he feels a tug. He opens his eyes to see Uk’otoa, see the tendrils of dark water and smoke reaching out of the creature. Looking down, Fjord sees one of them wrapped around himself, and for the first time he can feel that connection. Normally, the connection is only clear when Uk’otoa speaks to him in his dreams, but this is tangible.

Fjord feels another tug, and as he turns his head to the side, he sees Pike and Jester.

They each glow with the light of their deities, and behind them he can see golden wings and a green hood. Their hands grasp the tendril so hard that he feels the connection weaken for a moment, before Uk’otoa channels more power into holding it.

Jester lets out a small shriek, and it sounds like it pains her.

Pike on the other hand holds fast and steady, and a moment later Jester too strengthens her grasp. She must feel his eyes on her, because she turns her head towards him and they lock eyes.

Punish.

The word rings in his head, and the tendril wraps around him even tighter, bringing Fjord to his knees.
Even in his non corporeal form, Fjord feels the sweat drip down his face as he struggles against his bindings. still keeping his eyes locked with Jester.

The bonds makes it hard to breathe, and even harder to speak, but he manages a few, important words.

“I believe in you.”

Consume.

The tendrils reach out towards Jester and Pike, wrapping around both of them. Fjord watches in horror as his nightmare of watching Jester become torn apart threatens to become a reality. Black water pulses through the tendrils now, attempting to drag the women towards the massive creature, who opens his mouth.

“No! Leave her alone!” Fjord shouts, straining against his ties with all the might he can muster.

Then the green light intensifies, now as bright as the gold, and through his fading vision, Fjord sees a pair of hands envelop Jester’s, lending her their strength. He might be daft, but Fjord understands that they, like the hood, belong to the Traveler and that it means Jester’s deity is here with her.

Fjord watches her still, even when the entwining lights become too bright to behold.

Within the light, he sees two figures rise. One appears from a doorway, clad in a green hooded cloak, face obscured apart from the verdant eyes peeking out from the dark and the barest hint of a sharp chin. The other, a tall, dark-skinned woman with flames for hair, wings the colour of ivory and eyes the colour of polished brass, dressed in robes the colour of Pike’s clothes steps out from a large pyre.

The Traveler and The Everlight steps away from their worshippers, gliding towards the many-eyed serpent.

Uk’otoa is still larger than them by far, but neither deity seems to care, as they continue to move forward, their arms outstretched as powerful magic builds and then burst from them, slamming into the tendrils and the creature itself.

Jester and Pike are freed, their tendrils now reduced to nothing more than water.

Fjord is still held tight, and Jester rushes up to him, magic at the tips of her fingers as she pulls her weapon from her belt, hacking and slashing into the smoke and water that constricts him still. He watches her, watches as the water and smoke slowly dissipates, hears Uk’otoa scream in rage and pain as he’s hit over and over again with magic.

“Pike told me Sarenrae’s a goddess or redemption, that Her fire causes more harm to those who can’t be redeemed,” Jester explains, out of breath, continuing to hit the tendril.

A scream is torn from Uk’otoa as a large blast of fire tears into the side of his head, ruining one of his eyes and leaving a burning crater behind.
It’s enough to finally free Fjord, and Jester helps him to his feet as he staggers. He kisses her, hoping this won’t be the last time, and then rushes forward.

Fjord doesn’t know it it will work, but he attempts to summon the falchion as he does.

The blade appears in his hand, the connection still there, and he Blinks, suddenly next to the vast mass that is Uk’otoa, and he sends a barrage of Eldritch Blasts into him, carving into the tough skin with his blades where his magic hit.

“Time to repay the favour,” he says, casting Hunger of Hadar.

He watches as the tentacles rise out of the dark, attempting to wrap around Uk’otoa. He’s too large for them to be able to, but they continue to cause damage to the spot Fjord’s already attacked. Fjord moves, closer to the deities, looking for any weak spots left by their attacks, and he finds one, further up the long, serpentine body.

Fjord Blinks again, landing on what can be called the back of Uk’otoa.

Then he begins to carve into the wound, which he now sees is caused by the destruction of yet another eye, and so is deep enough to go past the outer, tougher layer of scales. Again and again he buries the blade, casting Sickening Radiance it for good measure. The green light caused by the spell appears sickening, especially compared to the warm green from the Traveler.

A hand reaches out to him, dark and warm, and Fjord hops into it.

It carries him to the top of the serpent’s head, only one eye remaining as it thrashes about, radiant flames licking along its body.
Fjord takes his falchion in both hands, and leaps from the hand, aiming to plunge it straight into the last eye.

The eye sees him coming, and the slitted pupil narrows until barely visible.

Uk’otoa doesn’t have time to move out of the way, now held in place by both The Traveler and The Everlight, as Pike and Jester attacks his body with weapons and spells. For a moment, the world seems to still.

Then the falchion is buried to the hilt, fluids spraying everywhere as the creature falls to the ground.

Fjord is thrown to the side, nothing to hold on to as the falchion vanishes. It’s a long way down, but the same hand that carried him to the head manages to catch him before he hits the ground.
He’s lowered to the ground, and he looks around for Jester. Pike’s there, next to him but Jester isn’t.

Looking around, he sees the still spasming body of Uk’otoa bleeding out and fears the worst.

“Fjord!”

He turns around, seeing Jester bloodied but otherwise looking okay come running up to him.

“You did it!” she says, laughing as she picks him up and twirls him around until he feels dizzy. “I’m so proud of you!”

Fjord looks at her, vision slowly clearing and smiles the softest smile.

We did it.”

Chapter Text

Jester blinks, once, twice, then opens her eyes to find herself back on deck.

Her body feels stiff, and she realises neither of them actually moved from this spot; that all that took place happened inside their minds, and so there seems to be no physical evidence of what occured. No blood, no other bodily liquids. No black water.

“Fjord?”

He stirs, hers and Pike’s hands still on his head. Fjord turns to look at her, and he looks exhausted, deep circles under his eyes and his skin is pale. And yet he looks better than he’s done since she saw him as a young boy.

Fjord looks free .

“Let’s eat,” Jester says. She rises to her feet, taking Fjord’s hand to help him stand.

They walk back to her abode, hand in hand, her friends following them. Jester hopes her friends can become their friends and she smiles as she watches them tidy up, too many people crammed into too few places to sit. She gets pillows from her room, and would fold up the sheets if not for… well.

When she enters the common area again, there’s a large table there, filled with food.

“It’s called Hero’s Feast,” Pike tells her, smiling. “I’ll tell you why later.”

They all sit down to eat, on pillows, on the floor, on the few pieces of furniture made to be sat on. Beau sits on the table, having showed some plates out of the way. It feels… familiar. Homely. Something Jester never had growing up and now feels herself wanting for the future. A place with all her friends, a place that’s not a tavern, but something to call theirs.

She’ll ask Pike and Scanlan about that after.

For some reason, they’re not disturbed. No Avantika, no Sabien having been freed, no guards.
Hours go by, as they exchange stories with their new friends. Tales of love and loss, of heroism and failures, of dragons and would-be-Gods, of mistaking spice for drugs, and Seeming like cows.

The last part makes Jester laugh until her cheeks hurt.

Night falls, and her friends leave. Pike, Grog and Scanlan follows the rest of the mighty nein, Scanlan saying he’s got a place for them to sleep and that he’ll talk to Caleb about it, see what can be done to help the wizard along the way.

Fjord sits on the bed, staring into nothingness when she walks into the room.

“Are you okay?” she asks him, knowing that he’s not, understanding that it’ll take time for him to feel like himself again, especially because Fjord doesn’t really know who he is any longer.
No matter, she’ll help him with it.

“I don’t know,” Fjord answers, sounding so, so lost. “These past few days have been too much. But I need to talk about it; I know that at least.”

“I’m here,” Jester says, and takes his hand in hers, giving it a comforting squeeze.

“There are thoughts, memories, stuck in my head, from the night I first encountered Uk’otoa. This was some years after I came here, after I lost my memory and I was being shaped into who I became. The other pirates, the ones I sailed with have some blame for that, but most of all it was Sabien. He planted these stories in my head, of us running away because we’d been abused, saying we’d snuck aboard Vandren’s ship.
I was suspicious from the start, because I quickly remembered how a ship works, and how could I have known that had I not had years of training? And why, of all people, would Sabien be the one I ran away with?”

He closes his eyes, taking a calming breath.

“One night, a storm hit. A hungry, unexpected thing, that none aboard had caught on to. It tore into our ship, snapping the masts and tearing the sails. Thunder and lightning chasing each other so rapidly there were constant rumbles and the night sky was more light than dark.
I was thrown overboard, a combination of slick wood under my feet and a wind so strong I never thought it possible until then.”

Fjord clutches Jester’s hand harder.

“The rough waves were hard against my back, and then I was sinking, rapidly. Maybe I was dragged downwards, I’m not really sure.
It felt like being I imagine being swallowed whole would feel like. Endless darkness, sinking, deeper and deeper into the vast ocean. No air, no way of knowing up from down. Swimming, hoping the direction would be the right one, that the surface, air, would be just a few strokes away. Cold. So cold. I thought I was dead.”

Jester turns his hand over, kissing each of his knuckles, not caring about his hard grip.

“Then, nothing. The depths claimed me. I gave up, let the black water take over. I’d never felt as lost, even in the first days and weeks after realising I could remember nothing of my life until that point. That day felt as the day I truly changed, truly lost myself.”

This time, she plants a kiss on the corner of his lips.

“Uk’otoa spoke to me then. Offered to spare my life and provide me with powers in exchange for freeing him. I don’t remember agreeing, but I must have. Next thing I remember is waking up on the shore of Darktow, the falchion in my grasp.”

He takes a deep, shuddering breath, then continues.

“I wonder, now, if it was intentional, the storm. If Uk’otoa caused it, wanting, needing someone to help him escape his bonds. It was close to the location of one of the orbs used to open the seals holding him in place. You saw his eyes; they look just like them. Three in total, though Avantika and I only had one each. The third was found on land, but we never received it.”

“Oh, you mean this thing?” Jester asks, removing the orb from her bright pink haversack. “We found it in this safehouse that was overtaken by these fish dudes and we didn’t know what it was but we took it with us hoping to maybe find out, you know? And now we know!”

Fjord looks at her, incredulous, then laughs.

“Whatever you do, make sure Avantika doesn’t get a hold of it. It’s the last key to freeing Uk’otoa, and I don’t quite believe he’s actually dead. It all seems too easy.”

Jester puts it back in her bag again.

“I’ll guard it with my life,” she says. “Now, let’s talk about other things, okay?”

They stay up all night, talking about everything and nothing. Talking about when they were children, Fjord adding things, stories, his view of things now that he remembers. Some are things he wrote to her in letters, and while he knows he is repeating himself, it feels good to do so, because it’s a confirmation that he does remember.

Both of them are exhausted, knows they need to sleep, to rest but there is a comfort in talking, sitting in bed together, Jester’s head resting carefully on Fjord’d shoulder, their fingers entangled.

It’s morning by the time they fall asleep, the first rays of the sun beginning to peak into the abode.

For the first time in a long time, both Fjord and Jester sleep without dreaming, their minds and bodies so worn out that even the worry of what Avantika might try doesn’t worry them. There are no nightmares, no resurfacing memories, no threats from leviathans or humanoids.

---

They wake, hours later, to the setting sun casting a warm glow.

Jester’s head is still on Fjord’s shoulder, their hands around one another, held close in even the deepest sleeps. Their bodies are sore, some limbs having fallen asleep from the weight of their bodies, but the prickling as sensation and blood returns feels like it’s worth it.

As rested as they feel, there’s still the unspoken knowledge that these past few hours were nothing more than the calm before the final, swelling storm that is about to hit the island.
Avantika needs to be taken care of, as does her crew and Sabien. They won’t be safe until then, nor will the other inhabitants of the island.

They must plan, before it’s too late.

Jester contacts her friends, and they’re all there, new and old, within moments.

“Avantika will use this to try and take the throne,” Fjord says. “We have to stop her. I have no right to ask for your help, not after all I’ve put you through, but she won’t let any of you go.”

He looks towards Jester as he says the last part, fearing for what would happen to her should Avantika get to her.

“Do you think that maybe if you freed the other prisoners that they would help you?” Jester asks him.

Fjord shakes his head. “Most, if not all of them are in there because of Avantika and me. They’d either think it’s a trap or flee at once. Same goes for several of the people here, the magic-wielders in particular. Either they stay until it’s over or we put them on a ship and let them flee before Avantika can try to use them against us.”

“Wouldn’t hurt to ask them though,” Jester says, trying her best to be optimistic. “I can do it if you want.”

He looks at her, and Jester’s never seen such love such as that in his eyes, except in her mother’s. It feels as though her heart might burst at it all, now that her Fjord is back with her. He’s still different from the one she knew when they were young, but neither is he the man who tried to seduce her with gifts and instead made her fall in love with his concealed kindness.

Fjord is both of them. Fjord is neither of them.

“You’re right,” he says, and she melts at his smile. “It doesn’t hurt to try and if anyone can do it, it’s you.”

“I can go with you. Doesn’t hurt to have a lil’ incentive to help us fight that bitch,” Grog says to her then, cracking his knuckles. “Worked back in Westruun, didn’t it, after we fought my herd and all that. Before the dragon. You remember, right?” He looks towards the gnomes.

Pike and Scanlan nods, apparently knowing what Grog’s talking about.

“If we work under the cover of night, maybe we’ll get the upper hand,” Grog continues.

“Avantika’ll do that as well, but that’s even more reason for us to get going right away,” Fjord says. “I know her, all too well at that, but that might give us an advantage. If we can get to some of her crew. Vera’s the one we should be most careful with; she’s as devout to Avantika as Avantika is to Uk’otoa, and she’s a wizard.”

Caleb nods at that, and the look in his eyes suggests he’s considering how to best take care of her. It’s a look Fjord knows better than he wants to admit.

“The ideal would be to get Avantika or her crew to attack us. Darktow law dictates that you’re not to attack someone who is a member of The Revelry. I can do it, I won’t stay if I survive this, but if anyone sees it, Avantika will use that to her advantage. She’ll claim I’ve lost my way, siding with outsiders and while she’d be correct saying that, it’s not ideal for it to come out in such a way. If any of you attack first, it’ll be just as bad; not only because you’re outsiders but because that too will make the others see I’m no longer on their side.”

“You were never on their side in the first place Fjord, and you have to remember that,” Pike says then. “They used you, twisted and brainwashed you into becoming someone you’re not. Trust me, I know this, because it happened to the sister of someone we consider family. It also happened to one of my cousins. You never chose to become that person, it was a choice made for you, without your consent. ”

Jester sees tears stream down Fjord’s face, and the moment he realises it.

She draws him into a hug, holding him as another piece inside him reforms and brings him one step closer to completing the emotional healing that will take longer to heal than anything physical ever could.

“She’s right,” Jester whispers against his ear. Whatever happens, remember that, and remember that I love you. We’ll get through this, together.”