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and i count clouds

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The metal is bit warm but they're already so high up and there's shade here so it makes all the difference. They can see the Urutan Yensa over there, in the distance, like watching something potentially harmful scurrying about on sharp legs, doing whatever it is they do. Ashe can almost feel the itch of the puffs of miniscule grains that swirl up every time a pointed appendage strikes the sand.


"Oddly pensive, isn't he."


She looks up at him with such genuine bewilderment that Balthier doesn't repress a sort of smirky smile, slipping into a spot beside her. She doesn't trust him, especially now, because he's not one to initiate conversationrather, the sky pirate has a remarkable talent for getting others to initiate conversation at him. Ashe seriously contemplates ignoring him with her nose turned up.


"Who." She demands instead, the word spoken like a terse statement that it should not have been. She is just so utterly weary of all the sand in her hair, sand stuck to her thighssand, sand and more sand. Balthier inspects her crumbling disinterest then looks ahead of them with a subtle, elegant tilt of his head. The princess struggles not to marvel at the graceful movement, the utterly cool brow.


Vossler is standing alert with tireless eyes on their surroundings. Penelo is chattering about something or other to Basch, who listens with the sort of relaxed relief that a broken man experiences when he can feel his wounds starting to close up. Nobody is scolding Vaan for hanging over the rail with the lopsided recklessness of a boy, near Penelo, but it's clear to Ashe (and to Balthier as well, she supposes reluctantly) that he is just not there.

They watch Vaan's slumped shoulders as he hangs off the rail, feet swinging every so often. Together they imagine his eyes, vast and empty like the cloudless sky. Reflecting everything to the point of being nothing. Ashe suddenly feels cold.


Yes, he is quiet. "It's... sad," she finds herself mumbling in a moment of weakness, you fool. Ugh. Take it back.

Balthier's eyebrows knit slightly in surprise anddare she think!sudden buried emotion. The vieira beside him, serene and apathetic (not even a glance betrays her attention); Does that partner of yours care? Ashe crudely thinks about asking but the feeling passes because she herself does not care.


"Princess..." but she is already walking away. She signals to Vossler and the man nodsAll right, break's over, let's go. It'll be dark soon and Vaan is practically shoved back into the world of the awake.

"That was barely any time at all!" Vaan exclaims at her as if it's her fault that Vossler cuffed him, as if he never realized he had been lost and so so far out of her (their) reach. Ashe can feel the sky pirate's eyes burdening her shoulders and a dull ache starts to spread throughout her body. No! she commands, suppressing a hiss, and forces herself to move away.

"Vossler's right," Princess Ashelia responds, decidedly moving forward. Not looking at any of themher subjects—just at the sand, sand, all that accursed sand. "It will be dark soon."

and I have no more love left to give.