The Tails of Kida Badgertooth I
“What were you thinking?!” Rerenasu rasped. He grunted as he tied off a rope here and cinched a knot tighter there, making ready to dock in Limsa Lominsa.
“I’ve told you before, a boat is not a quiet place to read nor a good hiding place - nor any place you should be unless you’ve paid the ferryman,” he grumbled, sweeping past to glare at the wood of the rapidly approaching quay. “You’re lucky it’s me who’s caught you and not some other feller who may not look as kindly on your shenanigans.”
Sitting by the mizzenmast, Kida had gotten lost in the tirade of the Lalafell man and was starting to shuffle about. Absentminded, his pale fingers inched toward the tome usually found in his shoulderbag before he remembered that Rerenasu had it. The Miqo’te’s wheat blond brows drew together in a semblance of a scowl, though he understood Rerenasu’s point.
“Now boy -” seeing the small gesture followed by the frown, Rerenasu figured he had Kida’s attention, “you’re too old to be doing this anymore. What were you thinking?” He’d found Kida early that morning during his run to Limsa Lominsa to make deliveries and begin picking up passengers. The boy - young man, really - had been propped up against some boxes in the stern of the ship, glasses askew and heavy book fallen open on his chest, fast asleep. His crook and bag lay nearby, discarded haphazardly where any old ferryman might trip over them in the pre-light of dawn. Rerenasu thanked the Twelve he’d seen them when he had, or he might have gone in the river.
Now the bright light of day shown through the sails and rigging of the ferry as they bumped up against their destination, and the older Lalafell regarded the young Miqo’te with consternation and concern. Rerenasu let his eyes hold Kida’s for a long moment as he let the question hang in the air. “What happened?”
Kida had trouble looking anyone in the eye on the best of days, so their shared look didn’t last long. “I was just looking for somewhere quiet to read,” he said, “after… well after yesterday I needed a quiet place to read and think. That’s all.”
It was clear that the grizzled ferryman wasn’t convinced. Kida sighed, then continued.
“I’ve been taken care of by the conjurer’s guild since mum died. These past years - they’ve all been wonderful to me.” He twitched an ear. He hated explaining himself to people. “This, of course, led to them thinking of me and treating me like a child.”
Rerenasu braced himself as the young Miqo’te’s leaf-green eyes met his, a brazier of hot anger burning behind them.
“I know I don’t always remember to do everything they ask me to, and that I sometimes stop listening to what they’re saying. But I am not a child. And I can be helpful.” Kida glanced at his crook, put away against the rail in a slot specially made for staves. His ire faded to doubt, and he unclenched his fists and gripped his knees to his chest. Sitting on the deck of the ferry he was of a height with Rerenasu; despite this he still had trouble looking the ferryman in the face.
“I don’t know what to do,” came Kida’s voice, soft against the backdrop of the port city.
Now, Rerenasu had always had a soft spot for Kida’s mum. She’d set his leg just a few moons after he’d begun ferrying goods and people down the river to Limsa Lominsa. She’d been gracious as she healed him - not just ignoring how he’d broken it but reassuring him that very soon no one would even remember he’d broken it at all. To the proud Rerenasu of that time, that had been the most comforting gesture of all, for no young man wants an impression of folly to linger at a new job.
Kida stiffened in surprise. He stopped nervously tufting bits of his tail (when had he started doing that?) nodded, and stood to gather his gear.
With a soft harumph, Rerenasu strolled back to where he’d hidden the book (best way to get the young lad to listen honestly), and returned it to the conjurer. “You be back here before sunset, you hear? And don’t be getting into any trouble - I’ll know.”
Kida offered a small smile in response to Rerenasu’s attempt at a knowing glare, nodded once, and stepped off the ship onto the waiting quay. He stuffed the book, “1001 Venomous Fauna & Where to Find Them,” into his waiting bag and set off. He’d never been to Limsa Lominsa before, although he’d read all about it in several travel memoirs. Who knew what the world might hold?
He might even find a new book. -