Fail (Part 4)

  • A totally true retelling of what really happened at the end of Sail

    I stood facing the familiar wooden door I had used so many times over the winter. I hadn’t been back since Tiernan’s wedding, fearing I would feel out of place. A stranger that didn’t belong. Yet with all he had done for me, he had a right to know.

    I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

    No reply came. No sound came from within. I stood there in the afternoon sun, not sure if my sweat came from the heat or my nerves. A trio of gnats buzzed by, one of them colliding with my ear as they spun in circles doing whatever it is mindless insects do.

    I reached up to knock again, and noticed the door was slightly ajar. I glanced around the clearing, then chided myself for thinking someone would actually be around to catch me. With another deep breath, I gently pushed the door open and stepped inside.

    The floorboards creaked just as I remembered. I saw the kitchen table where we first met. Running my finger on the smooth, worn wood, I was surprised to find a thin layer of dust covering everything.

    The shelves of the kitchen were mostly bare, a few fruits and vegetables still remained next to a mostly empty bag of flour and collection of assorted spices. One shelf’s sole occupant was a lonely, sad onion that looked like it had sat there for a while. I spotted the workshop from the kitchen window. The door was chained and locked. Nobody would be found inside there. Only one last place to check.

    I paused outside the door to Tiernan’s bedroom. Even now, this place had a sacred quality to it. I remembered fondly the softness of his sheets, the reflection of the candlelight in his eyes, and the firm grip of his calloused hands while he tended to my broken leg. My fingertips brushed the brass handle before I seized hold of my fears and forced my way inside.

    Tiernan was lying curled up on his side. The bedstand was bare save for a folded paper and a flower brooch, the one that Madaya always liked to wear. The bedsheets looked stained with sweat, as if they hadn’t been changed in weeks. From the length of Tiernan’s stubble, they probably hadn’t.

    “Oh, Tiernan,” I said, kneeling by the bed and holding his head to my chest. I ran my fingers through his oil-slicked hair, feeling his warm skin. “I’m so sorry this happened.” My vision misted and I dug my fingernails into my wrist to prevent myself from breaking out in tears.

    Tiernan stirred and I hastily stepped back, smoothing the wrinkles out of my dress. His eyes opened and he blinked a few times before rolling over and looking up at me. “Kat?” He sat up and rubbed his face. “Kat, what are you doing here?”

    “I…heard the news. About…” I couldn’t bring myself to say it, but I was staring at the brooch and I knew he understood.

    “We were going to be a family,” he said. A drop of water ran down his cheek, but he didn’t move. “I didn’t have a chance to tell you before you left, but you were welcome to stay.”

    “I thought I would be intruding.” I stared at my feet so I wouldn’t have to see him like this. I wanted to remember the calm, collected man who moved with purpose. The burning man I had fallen in love with. “You two looked so happy together and – and there was no place for me.”

    Tiernan stared at his hands folded in his lap, not speaking. Moments passed. Then, he slowly reached for the paper on the bedstand and placed it in my hand, fingers gently brushing against mine. I took it from him and unfolded it.

    It was some kind of official document; I recognized the seal of Caladheå immediately. I skimmed over a bunch of words I couldn’t recognize written in a formal script. At the bottom were three names I did recognize. Tiernan Heilind, Madaya Heilind, and Katerei Heilind. I looked up at him in surprise.

    He spoke, but his eyes were still downcast. “While you were staying here, you became a part of our lives. I remembered your stories about running away from home, and Madaya and I agreed that you should have some kind of home to return to.”

    “Tiernan, what is this?”

    “Adoption papers. We were going to make you part of our family. With your permission of course.”

    “Tiernan, I-“ I couldn’t hold back my tears now. A place to belong with people that would accept me. “This is-“

    “Too late,” he said sadly. I wiped at my eyes to look at him. “Caladheå law only allows married couples to adopt. Now that I’m a widower, I am no longer eligible.” His hand found mine again. “Kat, I’m sorry.”

    I squeezed his hand. With him, I had always felt I was being kept at a distance, unable to truly see inside and understand the man I lived with. Now I felt that wall was slowly crumbling down, letting me peer at the person inside. I folded the paper and set it back on the bedstand. He didn’t have to show me this, but he had chosen to trust me with a secret part of himself, a closely-held dream. I rose to my feet. I didn’t have a dream of my own, but I did have a secret to share. Something that only a handful of people knew about me.

    “Tiernan, I want to show you something.” He looked up, eyes widening as my dress slid to the floor, then widening further as fur rippled across my skin. My legs shortened and my face lengthened. In the blink of an eye, I was falling forward and landing on my paws. A silver wolf.

    Tiernan reached out and hesitantly stroked my fur. I nuzzled my nose against his palm and whined. For a moment I sat there, feeling his hand rest against my body. Then, I turned away, rising up again on two legs as I transformed back. I scooped up my dress and fastened the buttons, cheeks flushing at the thought of what I had just done. When I had calmed my nerves down, I turned back to him.

    He looked at me and said, “You never told me you were a werewolf.”

    I narrowed my eyes. “What is that supposed to mean?”

    His lips curved in a very, faint smile. Perhaps his first smile in weeks. “It means you are very brave to trust me with a secret like this.”

    Brave? Me? I recalled the purpose of my visit. My shoulders slumped. I didn’t want to tell him this next part, but it was time to be brave.

    I reached into my purse and pulled out a small, golden ring. I reached out and pressed it firmly into his palm.

    Confused, he took the ring and held it up. The scant rays of light entering through the window reflected off of the gold, projecting color onto the lifeless walls.

    “Where did you get this?” he asked me.

    I took a deep breath. “I know who killed Madaya.”

    His expression hardened instantly. “Who?” he demanded.

    I stepped back in surprise. The gentle, caring Tiernan was gone, replaced by a simmering anger. The burning man burned with a different type of intensity, one I was afraid to touch. I came to tell him Nili did it, that it was all a big misunderstanding, but now I feared what he might do to her if he knew. Was there someone else I could pin it on? Someone who would be out of his reach?

    “Selax,” I lied. “Selax killed your wife.”

    Selax would be a safe choice. No mortal had ever harmed a saidu before. I wasn’t even sure it was possible. Not to mention, Selax and I lived on top of a really tall mountain that would be practically impossible to climb.

    Even so, part of me was appalled at my lie. How was this bravery? I tried to calm down, tell myself I was doing the right thing. Tiernan would accept what happened, maybe cry some more, but he would recover and move on. I would find my burning man once again.

    Tiernan was still standing, but his face was now devoid of expression. See? He was calming down already. I would be here to console him through his grief.

    “There is an ancient Sverbian tradition,” he said at last. I blinked in surprise. His face looked calm, but his voice had the edge of cold steel. “Those who wrongly take something must give something of equal value in return.”

    Tiernan looked straight at me, and I found myself backing up against the wall. “Selax took my wife from me, so I will take his life in return.”

    No! This wasn’t supposed to happen! “That’s…absurd! No one has ever killed a tel-saidu before!”

    “Even the wind can die from a thousand cuts.”

    “Tiernan, don’t do this.”

    “Go!” he commanded. Then, seeing my fear, he softened his voice, slightly. “It will not be safe for you here.”

    I wanted to protest more. I wanted to fall on my knees and tell him the truth. But I was afraid. Before I knew it, I was running out into the meadow, back towards my horse. The cabin faded into the forest behind me as I rode hard towards Caladheå. Tree branches clawed at my skin, tears ran down my face.

    What had I done?

    Much to my dismay, Segowa wasn’t at her stall. I had hoped she may be able to help me fix this mess with Tiernan, but instead of her kind, motherly face, I saw some punk teenager with spiky hair. He sat cross-legged, leaning back against the wall while he glared at the people in the street hurrying by. Unlike when Segowa was tending the stall, I noticed nobody stopped to inspect the wares out front.

    The boy glanced at my left arm and sat up. “Ai, Rin girl. What brings you to the mighty Airedain?”

    “I don’t have time for this,” I muttered. “Where’s your mum?”

    “She’s out at Toel Ginu for a week. It’ll just be you and me, baby.”

    I rolled my eyes. “I have better things to do than to hang out with someone that attunes into a moron.”

    “Hey now!” Airedain jumped to his feet. “Don’t be dissing the form. I’ll have you know I hold the Aikoto record for holding my breath underwater.”

    “Did you attune into a tree or something?”

    He frowned in indignation. “You think I’m one of those Tamu freaks?”

    I raised my eyebrow and stood facing him, hands on my hips. “Well then, what is it?”

    “I-uh,” he glanced around to see if anyone else was close enough to hear. Then he said something in a voice too low for me to hear.


    He cleared his throat. “It’s a starfish.”

    “Starfish.“ I mouthed the word while my brain registered what he had just said. Then I doubled over in laughter. “Seriously? A starfish? What do you do, go around tripping people?”

    His cheeks flushed. “Hey now, starfish are graceful sea creatures. Hold their liquor well too!” I was too busy laughing to form a reply.

    “There you are!” A familiar voice said from above me. I attempted to wipe away the tears in my eyes, but the giggles kept coming. “I told you to get a postal box, Koehl. I’ve been looking all over for you!” When I didn’t reply, Iannah looked over at Airedain. “What’s wrong with her?”

    Airedain shrugged. “Some people don’t know how to show respect. You remember this, Rin girl. This isn’t over.” He turned and went inside, slamming the door behind him.

    “What’s his problem?” Iannah frowned. She lifted her spear and poked the butt of it into my midsection. “Hey, are you just going to roll around all day? My shift starts in a few.”

    I somehow managed suppress my laughter long enough to rise onto my hands and knees. Some saliva went down the wrong pipe and I spent the next few minutes coughing, trying to regain control. When I finally calmed down, I looked up to see Iannah crouching across from me.

    “You should smile like that more often. It suits you,” she said. She offered her hand and helped me to my feet. “So, how is it?” she asked.

    “How is what?”

    “Married life. I haven’t seen you in weeks. Not since you went rummaging through every bookstore in town.”

    “Oh, that. Uh. Well, I knew it’d be different – Selax not having a physical form and all – but it’s still kind of weird. There’s this pressure-“

    “Stop! Stop!” Iannah waved her hands, cutting me off. “I was just trying to be polite, make small talk. I don’t actually want to hear the details!”

    “Oh.” I felt my cheeks warming. “Um, did you hear anything more from that author of yours?”

    “Yeah, I did all right.” She sighed. “But nothing that will help. All the air spirit stuff got pushed off till the next book, if not later.”

    “I see.” I couldn’t help feel a twinge of disappointment.

    Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t resentful of my situation. Forced to marry a renegade tel-saidu to avert a war my people would have surely lost. Now I lived on top of a lonely mountain with a husband who rarely spoke, who was rarely in my presence.

    Iannah’s face grew grim. “Bad news, Koehl. You might want to sit down for this.” I noticed she was fiddling with the leather grip tied around the midsection of her spear. Not a good sign at all.

    I sat on top of a box of strange yellow fruit Segowa had bought from a Ferish merchant. She had offered one to me once, but I couldn’t finish it. I preferred my fruit to be sweet, not sour.

    She took a deep breath, then let it all spill out. “Caladheå declared war on Selax.”


    “There’s some kind of trade dispute over the Dunravin’ pass. Caladheå wants to use the pass to trade with Nyemur, but a band of Selax’s forces won’t let them. It’s turned to bloodshed.”

    “That can’t be! He promised as a condition of my marriage! How do they know those men are his?”

    “These Corvittai as we call them wear headbands with his symbol and freely admit their allegiance.”

    “There must be some mistake!” I protested. “Someone is trying to frame him!”

    Iannah pursed her lips. “Parr gave this to me. He said one of our patrols found a Corvittai carrying this.” She held out a tattered piece of parchment. I took it reluctantly and pored over the words on the page. Fortunately, it was written in simple Argacian:

    _Provoke a war with Caladheå.
    Kill any who resist.
    - Selax

    P.S. Burn this letter. If my wife sees it, I’ll feed your corpse to my cats!
    “I’m sorry, Koehl.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “I wish it wasn’t true, but the evidence suggests he is behind it.”

    “There has to be some mistake!” I said, but my conviction was crumbling and my vision was starting to mist. I had read a note signed with his name, so the rumors of his involvement must be true.

    Iannah sucked in another deep breath. “There’s more. News of your marriage to Selax has gotten out. The other councillors see this as proof that the viirelei are allied with the Corvittai.”

    I sank to my knees in the dirt. My marriage was supposed to bring peace. Instead, I was bringing destruction to my people.

    “Hey,” Iannah said, kneeling next to me. Her firm grip on my hand was reassuring. “I know it’s not true. Falwen mentioned there are reports of viirelei slain by Corvittai. We just need some more substantial proof to convince the Council. We’ll find a way through this yet.”

    I found myself thinking back to my time at Aeti Ginu. What would Fendul do if he were in my place? Oh, Fen. How I miss your stoic calm.

    In sudden realization, I bolted to my feet. “I have to warn them!”

    “Warn who?” She frowned.

    “My people!” I said. “The Rin came south for some kind of council at Toel Ginu. If the Corvittai are stirring up trouble, I have to warn them!”

    Iannah’s face looked pained. “I wish I could go with, but I’m assigned to Councillor Parr’s escort today. He wants to visit his mansion, but it’s in the same direction as the viirelei shrine, and you know how those councillors feel about them right now.”

    It was my turn to place a hand on her shoulder. “You’ve already helped me enough, Ia.”

    “Thanks Kat,” she said, flashing a tiny smile for just a brief moment.

    “You should smile more,” I told her. “It suits you.”

    I led Æthelthritha down the forest path, as fast as I dared. The way forward was covered in shadow, sunlight blocked by the tall forest canopy. In all my time around Caladheå, I’d never made the thirty minute trip to Toel Ginu. I knew I should’ve visited the Iyo, made friends and connections, but there just never seemed to be enough time. Fortunately, the Rin were visiting, so all kinds of signs had been set up to guide them to the jouyen shrine.

    I was perhaps five minutes away, the peninsula holding the shrine just visible across the coast to my right, when I was stopped by a pair of viirelei scouts. Scouts I recognized. Rin. Reining in my horse, I let them guide me into a clearing, ignoring the strange looks they were giving my sturdy companion.

    There, sitting underneath a giant “WELCOME RIN” banner hanging between two large trees were Fendul and his father, whose name I could never remember. Fendul jumped up when he saw me and came rushing over.

    “Kat!” he called out. People stopped what they were doing and turned to stare, not all of them friendly. I stared back until some of them turned away. One girl flushed and returned to carving symbols in a staff.

    “Fendul, we have a problem!” I told him.

    “We’re being attacked,” he said in reply. “The Corvittai are on the way.”

    I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. Seeing my surprise, Fendul pointed to a familiar figure approaching.

    “You came to help us?” I asked Rapierian.

    He shook his head. “Fighting isn’t really my thing. However, I might drop by after the battle to liberate things that their owners won’t miss anymore.”

    “You’re just leaving us here to die?”

    He looked at me for a moment. “I’m not entirely sure your people will recognize me as an ally. Besides, I’ve always wanted that lovely purse of yours.”

    I turned away in disgust. To think people used to joke about me dating him!

    “I trust you know what’s been going on in your absence?” Fendul asked once the ranger had left.

    “Yeah, my guard friend filled me in.” I looked him in the eye, saw worry on his face. “I can’t believe this is happening! My marriage was supposed to save us!”

    He put an arm around my shoulder. “I know.”

    I scanned the clearing, taking in the old women doing laundry, the children running around in circles, the adults checking their weapons and whispering among themselves. “There’s one thing I don’t get,” I said, letting him guide me over to the welcome banner. “How did they find us so quickly? How did they know where we would be?”

    “Kat,” Fendul’s face turned serious. “My father and I have been talking this over. We think there is someone on the inside stirring things up. Someone in Caladheå is behind this.”

    “Do you know who?”

    He handed me a small paper rectangle. “Rapierian found this in the pocket of one of the Corvittai scouts.”

    “What is it?” I asked, trying to read the tiny writing.

    “He said it’s a business card. For one Antoch Parr.”

    Moments later, I found myself riding my horse back through the forest. I wanted to stay and fight, but Fendul insisted I track down Parr. If Parr really was behind this, there was a small chance we could get him to call off the attack. I knew he was really just sending me out of harm’s way, but I didn’t protest too loudly. I was also worried about my friend.

    Did Iannah know? I didn’t think so. I believed she would have told me if she knew. And what did Parr have against the Rin anyway? Why would he want to start a war with Selax after helping marry me off to avert one? None of this made any sense.

    I rode, urging my horse to run faster and faster until finally I found myself in front of a small brick manor covered in vines. A dense hedge ringed most of the grounds, casting the untended gardens in shadow.

    I dismounted my horse and ran up the few stone steps to the front door. My fist pounded on the wood, an urgent rap that reflected the frenzied beating of my heart. I pounded again and finally the door opened, revealing Iannah’s puzzled face.

    “Koehl? What are you doing here?”

    I pushed past her without replying and found myself in a large lounge room. A pair of brass couches stuffed with red velvet cushions framed an ornate oak table in front of a lit fireplace. A pair of crossed military swords sat above the brick mantlepiece. Thick, colorful rugs embroidered in foreign patterns lay carefully arranged on the floor. Heavy curtains framed the tall glass windows. And crammed onto every corner, every shelf, sat a variety of trinkets, medals, and ornaments in more shapes and sizes than I could count in a day.

    Antoch Parr stood next to the long couch, a pair of tall glasses in one hand and a freshly uncorked bottle of wine in the other. At the sight of me, he set the bottle on the table and spread his arms wide. “Ahh, Katerei. We were just getting started. Let me grab another glass from the cabinet.”

    “Councillor Parr. Before you do that, perhaps we should have a little inquiry of our own?” I said stepping forward. Iannah frowned in confusion, but I ignored her as I rummaged through my purse. I pulled out the business card and handed it to him. “Would you care to explain this?”

    Parr took the card and inspected it. “I had my secretary order a set of these after I ran out. What of it?”

    “Would you care to explain why it was found on a Corvittai brigand outside the Rin encampment?”

    He tossed the card on the table dismissively. “Just taking care of a little pest problem, that’s all.”

    “What do you mean by ‘pest problem’?” I said. Iannah quirked an eyebrow at the barely concealed anger in my tone.

    “Oh, those Rin have plagued us for years. For almost fifty years we had an agreement. We would leave their lands alone, and in exchange, each year they would send us two of their daughters’ hands in marriage. Then suddenly, eight years ago they stopped. When we sent a messenger to find out what happened, we discovered they were waking those so-called saidu. I happened to know the one who lives on the lonely mountain, and in exchange for a few favors, he agreed to remove the threat to Caladheå. Now, I am simply tying up loose ends.”

    I felt a pit in the bottom of my stomach. “What about your talk of peace? What about my marriage? I married Selax to prevent a war with my people!”

    “And so you have. As part of the bargain, Selax will leave the Iyo untouched. Only the Rin will be wiped out. Every last man, woman, and child.”

    “But I am Rin, you nitwit!” I screamed.

    He frowned in confusion. “I thought you were Iyo!”

    “Look!” I shouted, unbuttoning the top two buttons on my riding dress. The head of a black kinaru was inked on my skin. “Does this look like an Iyo dolphin to you?”

    “It’s kind of hard to tell. Maybe you should undo another button,” Iannah suggested.

    “My child, I am deeply sorry. I had no idea-“

    “No, wait! Don’t interrupt her!” Iannah moved to cut him off.

    I saw the knife in his hand before she did. With a flick of my wrist, a patch of ice formed under his feet. He slipped and fell backward, his head making a loud thunk as it bounced off of the corner of the table. Parr’s body crumpled to the ground and a dark red stain spread out from where he landed.

    “Great,” I spat. “Now I have to burn my favorite dress.”

    “What for?”

    “Burial ritual. All battle clothes are to be burned to help the memories of the dead pass beyond.”

    “I can help you with that,” Iannah offered. She peeled her eyes away from the knife and moved towards me, but I held her back.

    “Just…give me a moment. I’m still trying to process what just happened.” I took in a deep breath and let it out. Parr was behind it all? And what of Selax’s involvement? Surely he must have known the truth; Selax claims to know everything. “Okay, moment over.”

    I looked over at Iannah and smirked. “You know, for a final boss, I was expecting something a little more dramatic.”

    That’s when a starfish fell from the ceiling and latched onto my face, cutting off my air supply.

    “Koehl!” Iannah shouted as she dashed over to help.

    I screamed a string of obscenities that were muffled beyond recognition. My hands clawed at my face, frantically trying to peel off the stinging suckers latched onto my skin. I stepped backwards, lost my balance, and knocked over the wine bottle, spilling wine all over the carpet and into the fireplace.

    The fire roared to life, spreading to the rug, up the nearby curtains, and from there across the dry wooden beams. Within a span of seconds, the room was ablaze with hungry flames. I heard a small explosion and part of the ceiling on the far side of the room came tumbling down. I banged my fists on the bony exoskeleton of the starfish, screaming for help, struggling to breathe.

    Then Iannah was there, straddling my chest, pinning my arms behind my back. “Stop struggling! I can’t get it off if you won’t stay still!” A flash of the knife, the cool touch of metal on my skin, and one of the legs abruptly lifted off my face. I took the chance to suck in some desperately needed air.

    “Airedain, I’m going to kill you!” I shouted.

    “Hah! This isn’t even my final form!” The starfish squeaked back. Two of the arms reached back and then dove for my eyes. I managed to turn my head enough in time. Two sharp needles dug into my cheek and a warm liquid began covering my face. The starfish squirmed a bit, readjusting, then dove again. But this time, Iannah managed to rip it off and toss it into the fire.

    With a sickening squeal, the starfish shifted, and Airedain rolled onto the hardwood floor, swatting his smoldering clothes and rubbing a burn mark on his arm. He scrambled to his feet and shot me a nasty glare. “This isn’t over, Rin girl!” He shouted before running off. I heard the sound of glass breaking, and then it was just Iannah and myself. And the fire.

    “Come on, let’s get you out of here,” Iannah said, hauling me to my feet. She tossed Parr’s knife on the ground and started dragging me to the door. I was busy nursing the cuts on my face, hoping they weren’t too deep and praying they wouldn’t leave a scar.

    I don’t remember much about the next few moments. There was fire and crashing wood and thick smoke and my face hurt like hell. But when I looked up, we were standing at the gate to the manor, breathing in fresh air. Fendul was waiting for us, holding my horse and Iannah’s.

    “I need to make a report to the Council,” Iannah said. “But after that, I’ll come find you, okay?”

    I nodded as she passed me off to Fendul and mounted her horse. She turned Jadwiga towards Caladheå, but before she left he looked back at me.

    “Should’ve taken me up on that meteor shower,” she said, and with a wink and a smile she was gone.

    Fendul carried me back to the forest on Æthelthritha. Once we were safely away from the manor and out of sight, he stopped us in a clearing and sat me against a tree while he tended my face.

    “So, how’d it go?” I asked him.

    He winced. “We lost half our number.”

    I slumped back against the tree. All because of my mistake. If only I hadn’t married Selax. If only I hadn’t run off.

    “What happens now?”

    “I rebuild the Rin.” His voice was unnervingly calm. I looked at him, saw the stern expression on his face. Then I noticed the okorebai tattoo on his right arm.

    “I’m sorry. About everything.”

    “I know.”

    “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.”

    “That’s dangerous.”

    “I’ve really messed this one up. I’ve been acting like a selfish child all this time. Running off to get married. Marrying a tel-saidu that wants to wipe out my jouyen. Because of me, my best friend is a murderer, my people are dying, and the itherans hate us. I need to fix this. Its time for me to show that I can grow up. That I can learn from my mistakes.”

    “I could use your help. Together we can set things right.” Fendul’s voice was quiet, soothing.

    I considered it for a moment. “Nei, I need to show everyone I can be mature now.”

    His fingers left my face, rummaged around in his pack for a bit, and then started tending a wound on my left arm that I hadn’t noticed. I closed my eyes and let him do his work.

    “Fendul, I think the right thing for me to do is run away. I’ve made this mess, so the mature response would be to head north to some remote fishing village and hide in a hole for a year or two.”

    “What’s up north?” he asked, but he didn’t seem too bothered by the idea.

    “Airedain’s cousin lives up there. I know, I know, he tried to kill me. But his cousin is really cute-”

    “Kat,” Fendul put a finger to my lips, shushing me. “You’re not going north.”

    “I’m not?” I spoke around his finger.

    “No, you’re not. You’re coming with me, and we’re going to rebuild the Rin.”

    “Fendul, I can’t-“ I tried to push him away and that’s when I saw it. He hadn’t been tending my arm. He had been inking hakitai berries around my family crest. “Fen, what is this?”

    “We’re married now,” he said. He showed me his arm where tall stems rose up to meet the same black berries.

    “I - I’m already married!”

    “I didn’t see any marriage tattoos on your arm.”


    “Was an okorebai around to witness the ceremony?”

    “Well, no…”

    “Then your marriage to Selax is invalid. You are my wife now.”

    I tried to protest again, but he silenced me with a kiss. A long, firm kiss. When we finally came up for air, he cupped my face in his hands and broke out in the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.

    I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I pulled him to me and let it all out. I cried and cried on his shoulder, the weight of my choices, the anguish of my mistakes all pouring out and soaking his shirt. He just held me ins his arms, resting his chin on my head for what seemed like hours. When I finally calmed down, I stayed still, basking in the warmth of his embrace, his love.

    I closed my eyes, feeling more at ease than I had in a long time. For once, for this brief moment in time, everything was right in the world.

    Well…almost everything.

    “Why do I have to do this again?” Nili asked as I finished tying off the red ribbon.

    “Sverbian custom,” I said, reaching up to secure the gag in place. “Those who wrongly take something must give something of equal value in return.”

    I pinned the note onto the front of the ribbon and stepped back, admiring my work.

    “Do you think this will help?” Fendul asked from my side.

    I recalled a bowl of strawberries. “It most certainly will,” I said. Deep down, a small part of myself wished I was the one tied up on the doorstep, but the rest of me brushed that thought aside. I had Fendul now.

    “Ready?” he asked.

    Nili nodded.

    I reached over and knocked on the door, then Fendul and I dashed behind the hedge. We sat there out of sight and waited.

    The door opened and Tiernan stepped out. He looked down at Nili, face scrunched up with confusion. She held her bound hands up as far as she was able, presenting the note. He unpinned it from the ribbons and scanned over it quickly, then turned his gaze back on Nili.

    For a long moment he stood there, staring down at her. She batted her eyelashes at him. Then he scooped her up and carried her inside, closing the door behind them. The bolt clicked into place and I let out a sigh of relief.

    Fendul helped me to my feet and the two of us left the cabin behind. I struggled to contain my excitement; my mind was already racing ahead to our meeting with Iannah. I was somewhat surprised that Fendul so readily agreed when I asked to spend some time with her on our honeymoon. All I had to do was let him tag along.

    “Well, that takes care of everything,” Fendul said as we reached the edge of the clearing.

    Indeed , an ominous voice boomed. The forest around us grew thick with a sudden fog and I gulped as I came face-to-face with Selax.

    “I…um…I can explain…” I began.

    _There is no need. I foresaw this eventuality.
    “You…knew this would happen?”

    Of course. I know everything. He put extra emphasis on that last word.

    I took a step back. Fendul tightened his grip on my hand. Two grey eyes fixated on my left arm.

    Now I have the perfect excuse to remove you mortal pests from my lawn. He let out a loud, booming laugh. You will all drown in your misfortune!

    A heavy gust of wind kicked up, blinding us for a moment. When the dust settled, Selax was gone.


    Fendul squeezed my hand. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get through this together.”

    I smiled and squeezed him back. He was right. Selax would attempt to drown us in problems, but we just needed to adapt.

    It was time to learn how to sail.

  • This is perfect! I don't know how you manage to pretty-much entirely follow the Sail plot while switching around everyone's roles, but I love it and I'm very impressed ^_ __^ It was kind of sad, but also sweet and amusing. It's great! ^ ___^

    Thank you for posting this story today! ^ ___^ <3

    My favourite quotes:


    "I have better things to do than to hang out with someone that attunes into a moron."

    Haha ^_^ Nice one, Katerei.


    " If my wife sees it, I'll feed your corpse to my cats. "

    That is such a Selax-like threat!


    "To think people used to joke about me dating him!"

    ...wait. I still ship them : __(


    "That's when starfish fell from the ceiling and latched onto my face"

    I WAS TOTALLY NOT EXPECTING THAT! : __o I know, I should have seen it coming! (I also love the preceding line about Katerei expecting the final boss battle to be more challenging.)


    "I've made this mess, so the mature response would be to head north to some remote fishing village and hide in a hole for a year or two."

    Nice Katerei logic ^ ___^ And I like how Fendul convinces her to marry him - he totally should have tried that in Sail. (It would have worked, right?)

    Anyway, the ending was perfect! ^ ___^ I was afraid it would be all depressing and melancholy, but Katerei, Fendul, Tiernan, and Nili all got happy endings! That's way more than I could have hoped for. And maybe we can even assume that Rapierian had a happy ending (plenty of corpses to loot).

    I hope you decide to parody the sequel! It might be hard since you changed the ending, but I got the impression that Kat means it to start after Katerei's year in hiding.

  • @avatara_bot, on 03 July 2015 - 04:27 AM, said in Fail (Part 4):

    One shelf’s sole occupant was a lonely, sad onion that looked like it had sat there for a while. I spotted the workshop from the kitchen window.

    I'm so happy the moldering onion made it in!


    “Adoption papers. We were going to make you part of our family. With your permission of course.”

    …Well that's not creepy at all.


    “I have better things to do than to hang out with someone that attunes into a moron.”



    I turned away in disgust. To think people used to joke about me dating him!

    "used to"


    Antoch Parr stood next to the long couch, a pair of tall glasses in one hand and a freshly uncorked bottle of wine in the other. At the sight of me, he set the bottle on the table and spread his arms wide. “Ahh, Katerei. We were just getting started. Let me grab another glass from the cabinet.”



    That’s when a starfish fell from the ceiling and latched onto my face, cutting off my air supply.

    DEUS EX STARFISH! The starfish battle is seriously my favourite part of all the Fail stories. Especially the squeaky voice.


    “Fendul, I think the right thing for me to do is run away. I’ve made this mess, so the mature response would be to head north to some remote fishing village and hide in a hole for a year or two.”

    Point taken.


    I tried to protest again, but he silenced me with a kiss. A long, firm kiss. When we finally came up for air, he cupped my face in his hands and broke out in the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.

    Awwww. ^_^


    It was time to learn how to sail.

    Huzzah! I'm sad that I'm going to have to wait so long for a Fail sequel though.

    @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 03 July 2015 - 02:27 PM, said in Fail (Part 4):

    I hope you decide to parody the sequel! It might be hard since you changed the ending, but I got the impression that Kat means it to start after Katerei's year in hiding.

    At this point I have no idea when it's going to start...

    This post has been edited by iKaterei : 06 July 2015 - 11:57 PM

  • Well...that was interesting.

    The "boss fight" with Airedain was hilarious. Hopefully, something like it will appear in a Sail sequel.

    I don't think it would actually be a stretch for Selax to predict Katerei would run off. I mean, it's Katerei we're talking about here :p .

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