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At last they have left Black Isles. The malodorous place, filled to the brim with useless texts and dumb monks busy working on meaningless tasks, soon would be destroyed by movements of awaken self-digesting body of god.

Vatnir chuckled on irony of that – entropy provided by patron of collecting and preserving knowledge. It would be great to personally freeze this place, to cleanse it with the ice, but that outcome also suited him fine.

There was still the problem of … keepsakes. All of the group left the putrid place covered in layers of wet, still pulsating tissue and even small underdeveloped organs. Immediately after reaching the ship everyone collectively threw their equipment on the desks and began to frantically clean it. Even Tekehu had dropped his savior act and provided them with supply of fresh water.

Glamfellen felt strange with the approving looks from the crew and companions. He could swear, that he had even spotted few smiles when he scrubbed robe with all his might.

Maybe that was because they all stinked now. Or maybe because even without that set of fur and leather on him they didn't have to see godlike half-naked. For that they should thanked Brenice – the loose, buttoned garment with long sleeves was gift from her, intended to be worn while his relic from Dead Float needs repairs.

Where she is, anyway?

Priest got up and wiped his hands into the cloth. He had to close his eyes while descending under the deck, the difference in lighting almost painful after hours of sitting in full sun. Man coughed and knocked lightly on the door to the captain's chambers, entering after welcoming call-out.

Warrior kneeled before her armor, arms moving back and forth as she cleaned every piece with determination. Godlike stood for few heartbeats in the entrance, mesmerized by rolling of muscles under scarred, brass skin. And then he saw her hair.

Instead of being collected in braid they slumped down in one dark, wet, tangled mass between captain's shoulderblades. Vatnir found himself beside women, touching mingled strands, still dripping with cold water.

-Are you... are you going to leave them like that?
-Will do them later. Must finish armor first. Whatever was on walls of Upper Bowels might corrode it.
-Maybe, but if the thing that farmer had found in his own had less eyes and more fur, he would keep it as a pet. Let me help you – man turned in direction of clean, organised desk.

Sound of scrubbing ceased behind him. Godlike looked over his arm. Brenice's face could be described only as utterly astonished. He could not precisely name his feeling in his chest when he saw that.

Coughing, glamfellen looked through the objects laying on the piece of furniture before him. He took comb with spiral carving as it's only decoration and came back to the warrior.

Vatnir carefully straddled Duskspeaker's calfs and took first strand of coal-black hair between his fingers. After bit of consideration he started to comb their lowest part first, slowly moving up.

For some time Brenice didn't even budge, seemingly mesmerized, her back straight. Then she visibly relaxed, took a bit stained cloth back in her hand and resumed scrubbing onto the metal. Soon they found common rhythm, allowing them both free movement.

In reality the state of Duskspeaker's hair wasn't so bad as he had claimed. Yes, there were... things in them, but rather small number compered to Aloth's or Eder's cases. Her favorite headscarf served her well. He just wanted to do something for her. Whatever, anything, however pathetic and unimportant it would be for rest of the world.

What would be reason for that? His every action toward Harbingers – and so many others – was always dictated by shame, guilt, fear, selfishness. Godlike felt again slight pressure in his chest, when he was pondering over this question, his hands not stopping even for a moment.

When he had combed every strand of women's hair at least twice, priest decided to do them in braid for her, so they wouldn't be in the way of her ongoing activity. Also that would prevent him from acting on his dumb fantasies of sticking his face into that black wave. It was rather pointless anyway – mask would not allow him to feel anything, and without it he would just smear his fluids over everything.

Ahh, there were much more interesting places on Duskspeaker to cover up with juices.

Yes, the touch of thick strands on his fingers made him riled up. There was a lot of moments, when he wanted to just throw the comb to the Hel itself and embrace Brenice from behind with all of his not-existent might, sneak his hands under her spare civil clothes and and feel her breast scar tissue moving under his fingers looking for nipple oh gods while biting her ear that he had stitched so many times move down neck stomach between legs oh gods oh gods between folds and take her pants down so he can please her with both hands at once and then enter her oh skyt moaning but no. However pathetic he ultimately was, he had enough pride to want prove himself, that he have something more for her than only sex and frost spells.

The braid was not elaborate thing – glamfellen mainly used his abilities of rope-making and little bit of string. Vatnir tried to be extremely delicate with his movements, especially when he reached to his healer's pouch.

Quill leaves were too waxy to weave them directly into the hairdo. That's why Harbinger just crumbled them in hand, trying not to cut himself in process, so juice would drip down onto the black hair. When he had ended, another idea came into his mind.

The petals of Berath's bell caressed ends of the collected strands, spreading sweet smell. Vatnir sat back on his heels, looking his work up and down. Some form of admiration started to transform into cheeks-reddening shame and selfloathing. What he was thinking? He's not Tekehu, just making fool from himself with pretense to know anything about pretty things. There is nothing beautiful, that could ever leave his cold, bony fingers, only frost, lies and rot.

Godlike was so transfixed on his own curled into fists hands laying in his lap, that he had almost jumped, when he felt warmth next tho the mask's edge. Winking, Vatnir looked up.

Brenice was touching him, lazy, tender smile on her lips. She probably had to notice lack of movement behind her.

And then she had spotted flower.

Is she.....? Yes, the Hound of Eothas was blushing, cheeks maroon thanks to her skin's shade.

Reddish hue crept between scars, fresh and old.

It looked like he had striked a chord in her. Little chime, deep inside, almost forgotten, buried under ladyship, god's demands, wailing of departed, years as mercenary.

-Uh... Thank you, eh, for... doing my hair – she cleaned her throat, trying to cover her suddenly higher voice and slight smile with the fist brought up to the lips.

Vatnir found himself grinning like a moron or the fishboy. And he didn't have any problem with that.