“I thought downers were supposed to relax you,” he rasped, shaking his head, still cold from the breeze now blowing across the harbor.
Sangyarn moved next to Andor and began cleaning the pills that had been knocked out of his pack. Andor stood up to help him, still a little winded. They righted the small crate that they had used as a table, and put away the balances they had used to measure the dose.
“They're not normally used as sleeping pills,” Sangyarn laughed. “You're technically communing with the gods when you take a Torata. We could get in a lot of trouble for using these outside of a sanctioned ceremony.”
They had come up to the crow's nest with their supplies to try and mix a few Toramu and Torata for the performance tomorrow. It was part of basic training, but neither of them had ever been all that good at that alchemy stuff. Usually they would just borrow them off friends. Everyone won that way.
“I just wanted to catch a nap quick before my watch shift,” Andor said, handing the remaining downers from his case to Sangyarn. “What happened?”
“I don't know,” Sangyarn laughed. “You took one and I thought you went to sleep. I tried and wake you up for your shift, and you're shaking me by the shoulders.”
“It all seemed so real.”
“It was her again, wasn't it.”
Andor rolled his pack and set it on top of the crate. He could see the celebration still going on in Zaetem. There were cheers a good distance off, and laughter. The fireworks had stopped though, at least the official ones had, anyway. One could still hear the celebrations happening all over the city, and truthfully, the harbor was the best place to watch everything happen.
Andor sighed,”It's always her.”
Sangyarn shook his head and laughed. He scanned the harbor, clapping a hand on Andor's shoulder, “It's gonna be a long night.”
“You're telling me. If you want to get some sleep, I should be good for a while.”
Sangyarn pushed his pack into a much of a pillow as he could make. He lay on his back, looking up into the sky, closing one eye. Then he opened his eye and closed the other.
“So have you ever talked to anyone about her?” Sangyarn asked, propping himself up on his elbow.
“About the mystery woman of my dreams, who I may or may not know the name of?” Andor asked. “Yes, that would go over very well.”
“You know you should though. Even if she's not real, she means something.”
“She means I need to find a girl, fast.”
Enjoying time with young ladies always seemed to come easy to Andor. He seemed to know just what to say at the right time. Many women would send their ladies in waiting to ask for his company or send a small token of esteem. He knew it was always better to accept the small tokens of esteem. The seats were always filled with some naive damsel, betting that she could win his heart, try as others may have. He would smile all the same and make his usual speeches about how it was hard to be able to have a real relationship with his being constantly moving. That someday he'd meet that right woman, settle down and have a family. The ladies would be satisfied, and maybe he might even go to see the occasional princess or countess. It was good for his image and even better for the Society's coffers. His natural aptitude was beneficial for both him and the Society. They kept getting hired for higher profile events, and it meant that Andor could keep traveling.
Acting came naturally to Andor though. Spending a good deal of his current life going through the motions honed his ability to act an expected way. For the first few months, Andor became adept at simply smiling and nodding. Slowly, he began to regain some idea of what came naturally to people around his same age. The main point of most conversations among men of his own age revolved around one thing: women.
Normally, Andor would have no problem talking about women, but something was different about this one; even more so than the question of her existence. It was the mystery that made her all the more intriguing. He knew if he talked about her with others, the conversation would go one of two ways. He would either be considered insane for fixating this much on a possibly imaginary girl or he would have people pitying him for how distracted he had become by this image in his head. Nothing was worse than pity.
When he first joined the Society, everyone had felt so sorry for him. Poor Andor, unaware of his past, and the life that came with it. People were always friendly, but there was an air of superiority when they spoke. Whenever they saw him coming, other members would end conversations about brothers and sisters, or even worse, parents. Sometimes he thought others knew more about his own life than he did.
The nothingness thickened around him. Reality was something he had started to question after all that had happened in the last years. Andor was the only name he could remember for himself when he woke up on that beach. There was no triumphal return for him, and even if there were; he would need someone to tell him where that may be. He looked up into the sky again.
The wanderer was always the first constellation he could find. The right shoulder star always pointed away from the other constellations, as if he were just walking into the scene. Left of that was the brightest star, which was the crown in the jewel of Dulcinea, the queen of the heavens. She always had one eye on the wanderer, and her hand on the crown. To the left of that, was the king's constellation, Brenhin. He was engaged in deep conversation with his advisor, Altair. There were a few other constellations that he couldn't find, but at the far side was the most important. Telnare, the dragon, appeared on the other side. The whole scene seemed so reassuring. So constant.
There was another loud bang in the distance from the fireworks still going off in the different parts of town. The revelry would probably last the night. Shouts and laughter permeated the air as the distant crowds continued to celebrate. The docks were deserted except for a few workers and the occasional merchant. Most of the warehouses had been emptied the day before. The Zaetem Founders Celebration usually meant profit for the merchants who were fortunate enough to get permission to sell.
Andor braced himself against the cold and shook his head. Nights like this always had this effect on him. He straightened up, looking across the harbor at the distant lights of the square. There was no point in getting lost in thought now. There were only a few more hours before morning. Then he could head back down below decks and get some real sleep. Tomorrow would mean another day of adoring fans, smiling women, and strong alcohol. Andor breathed in deeply and smiled.