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The definition of home

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“This island has seen better days,” Tweyen says with a voice filled with worry. “I didn’t know anyone could live in the middle of the Grim Basin.”

Indeed. Usually, you would need to be either stupid or desperate to live in such hostile conditions. In his travels with the crew, Seox discovered the hard way how dangerous the whole path was. There was a reason why Seofon and Anre would avoid that path at all costs.

And yet, here they are. In the middle of a mission in an island localized in the center of the Grim Basin.

“What do you think,” Seox takes a deep breath. Calm down, “what do you think that happened to them?”

He didn’t need to be more specific. The village in that tiny island was completely abandoned. There wasn’t any trail of blood or anything like a battle, but Seox took little relief on that. It was almost like a ghost city.

Seofon was not specific with that mission, but they weren’t supposed to focus on other people. No, the reason was that some rich man had decided to take a trip and thought it was a good idea to take a shortcut through the Grim Basin. The search for his ship was what led them to that island.

“I don’t know,” Tweyen answered the previous question, “But the possibility of them leaving the place is high.”

“That isn’t that much comforting.”

The simple reply left Tweyen amused. Years ago, having a proper conversation with Seox was almost impossible. He was someone that had only a few words to use, and they would be directed at people he judged worthy of them. Tweyen sometimes was disappointed that she wasn’t on such a list. All things considered, looking at him now felt like he was a completely different person. His voice is clear and if it wasn’t for his mask, Tweyen was sure he was keeping eye contact. She knew he was worried about the safety of the people of that city. He couldn't help but remember his own complex past. But to hear the erune express his feelings like that… it was a rare sight. “Well,” she continued, “I guess it’s time to go back home. We couldn’t find that man so I guess the only possibility left is…”

Home...

Seox took another look at the city, almost as if he tried to make sure no one was being left behind. Tweyen noticed how his ears dropped after he found out that, indeed, no one was alive there except for the two of them.

Once they were back in their ship, Tweyen sighed, “I think Anre will have to deal with the family. It must be terrible for them…”

Seox nodded, head downcast.

Biting her lips to contain unnecessary comments, Tweyen decided to just give her friend small pats on his back. He lets her, without any movements besides the confused stare. They wouldn’t be moving for a while, Tweyen concluded. The weather around the Basim was cruel, and leaving without the correct timing could be fatal.

They stay like that for what is probably longer than necessary, with her hand going on circles. He also straightens his posture and looks at the sky, from the position inside of their ship, “Sorry.”

The hand that was used for the massages is now waving in front of him, “Don’t worry about that. You were worried about the villagers and the client, weren’t you?”

He could only give a small nod of his head, “I don’t want to think about the possibility of leaving someone behind. That man… he still needed to go back home, to his family.”

“You know, Seox. You changed a lot.”

A small chuckle escaped from his mouth, “I have been hearing this a lot lately.”

“Because it’s true! Years ago you wouldn’t even have this conversation with me--”

“Sorry.”

“--And that would be completely fine because I understood where you were coming from. People like us, it’s hard for us to trust someone else and open ourselves to others. But you’ve found them, right? People to trust and live together with them. You even called that crew your home… back when you left to finish things with Nehan.”

Seox gave a look at Tweyen, who was smiling right by his side. With her words, the image of his captain came to mind. He was glad for his mask because explaining the inevitable blush would be bothersome, “You could say that.”

She gave a chuckle at that, “I guess I have to thank them next time I see them. You wouldn’t be so open about your feelings if it wasn’t for that crew,” she paused with a smile still on her face, “I guess I have to thank them for myself, too.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, nothing. Just an old story that happened after I met them.”

 

-*-

 

Returning home was more simple than Seox thought. Once they confirmed the weather was stable, the ship flew high on the skies and didn’t have a single problem in its path. Tweyen decided to write the report as soon as they landed and have it to Anre without discussion. They exchanged a look of understanding and she left in another small ship, not before asking Seox to come together with her so she could give him a ride to the Grandcypher.

Her words kept echoing inside his mind. More specifically, the parts of his home. He never considered Karm with such a warm thought. The Grandcypher, however, was different. Every time he was away in a mission for the Eternals, every time he was away, the Grandcypher was his first option when he thought about "going back home". Not some inn, not the Karm forest.

Back when he left to fight against Nehan, he called the crew his home and swore to go back to them even if he needed to crawl his way back. It was probably due to the adrenaline of the moment and the worried eyes the captain was giving him, but it was true. The Grandcypher was his home now.

“Seox!”

The voice calling him was together with more people, all of them waving at him. The captain spoke again, with the same cheerful voice, “Welcome back!”

He gave his own small wave, with a smile no one would know about its existence but himself, “I’m home.”