It’s a warm night outside and Eileen is leaning back against Wyatts chest, one of his arms wrapped around her waist. Theres a full glass of whiskey they’re sharing in her hand and a half bottle left still on the the table beside them. They’ve been cheering on the bats as they snap up the mosquitos. It’s been years since Eileen has felt such peace. She twists her head around to look up and smile at him, and the corner of his mouth quirks up in return before he tilts back his hat and leans down kissing her thoroughly. In the midst of this Eileen feels a shiver run down her spine and the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Breaking off the kiss she turns, facing the darkness where there’s an almost tangible shadowy shape at the foot of her porch stairs. In an instant it flows up the stairs towards her and she before she realizes she’s reached out to it. She steps away from Wyatt as it envelopes her – filling her in it’s familiar way – “My rabbit – My Eileen” She hears whispered softly into her ear. She feels a solid hand roughly take ahold of her arm and she’s forcibly pulled back to Wyatt who’s dropped the whiskey and drawn his gun.
“I don’t think so you sonofabitch” he utters before he shoots. A gaping hole is torn through the Darkness and still it stays – motioning for Eileen to come.
A feeling builds inside her then and she realizes to her surprise that it’s Anger, “You left – you left and you never came back – what did you expect?”
Wyatt steps forward and empty’s his colt into the Shadow. There are only tendrils left and they are disappearing quickly but clearly she hears, “Not this,” before the last of them swirl away dispersing into the night.
Wyatt turns then and misunderstanding, gently wipes a tear from Eileens cheek, “It’s alright Katherine, it’s gone.” Burying her face in his shoulder, he doesn’t hear her whisper “I didn’t mean for this.”
It turns out that the ominous shapes in the water are three massive great white sharks, who have taken issue with the presence of the ship. Working swiftly and viciously, the sharks rip into the boat and its passengers. With seemingly impossible strength, they even come close to ripping the boat in two. During the battle, one of the crewmembers, Nick, loses his kerchief revealing that he is in fact Nikki, a woman.
The most frightening moment comes with Myron (a loyal member of the crew) and Will fall into the water. Will – both courageous and foolhardy – manages to distract the sharks from Myron’s unconscious body long enough for the crew to haul the two of them back on board. Fortunately, when it seems there is no hope left, the remaining sharks are distracted by the corpse of one of their brethren. Lured by the scent of blood they abandon their attack of the ship. Those healthy enough to row move immediately to the oars, and steer the group away from danger.
After achieving a safe distance, the crew stops to tend to their various wounds. While doing so, Zili tells Will how foolish he was for jumping into the water (blissfully ignoring Eileen’s reminder that goblins sometimes jump when they shouldn’t). As the day wears on, various conversations occur. David, captain of the vessel, asks Will how trustworthy Red is. When Will and Zili mention they are going to the Marquis, David seems surprised and asks if the Marquis knows Red is coming. Checking the map, it does appear that they will be landing in an area near Marquis’ lands.
Meanwhile, Red and Eileen chat about the newcomer’s mission. Red mentions that his people serve the Queen, at which point Eileen alerts her brother. The Mays admit that they both owe favours to a Queen, which they are not keen to pay.
Zili chats with Nikki, and shares the story of how they came to meet Red. Although it resembles reality in general theme, the story contains significantly more bravery and life-saving on the part of a particular goblin than the rest of the party hitherto recalled. During the conversation it becomes apparent that Nikki knows quite a lot about the Lanx, more than any outsider should.
The rest of the journey is calm enough, although this only results in Zili becoming bored. The crew is lucky to experience Zili’s pranks at their gentlest, with treasured possessions moved between bags, daily staples hidden from view, and pointy fingers prodding from beneath hammocks when trying to sleep. Eileen and Will, both of whom have saved Zili’s life several times, appear to be safe from the jokes. Red, however, is not so fortunate. While going through his morning ritual of itemizing and cleaning his armour, he finds one of his bracers missing. Acting distressed, for the benefit of the goblin, he proceeds to search the ship from stem to stern for the next several days. Only when Nikki looks in her bag, the one place Red refrained from searching, is the bracer found. It is returned without incident, much to Zili’s disappointment.
Eventually, the ship reaches land and the party prepares to depart. Will takes the captain aside and gives his name, promising to be come if David is ever in need of help. In return, the captain gives Will his true name – Kade – and welcomes him to travel on the Eagle’s Shadow any time.
On land, Zili sets out confidently, as usual, in a completely random direction. As they walk she begins to recognize where they are and remembers that the Crane Court is on the coast. Heading down the beach, she turns into the discussion behind her in which Red is declaring they should go immediately to report to the Queen (as we find out, Red is actually working for the Queen). As this is counter to her orders (and would decrease, yet more, the likelihood that she will get to keep the pretty silver frame the Marquis promised her), Zili argues that they should go to the Marquis first. After all, she points out, they know perfectly well where the Marquis can be found, and not at all where the Queen might be.
After which Zili decides against heading to the Crane Court, as it will only further delay them. Making several (extremely subtle) course changes, Zili eventually leads the group into the forest and, with any luck, the Court of the Dubv Cail.
At camp that night, the group splits their watches. The first two pass without incident, but on the third watch Zili is dragged into the night with only a squeak of protest.
“He has a vulnerability to fire and lightening.” -Pat
“And he feels badly about himself.” -Aaron
“And remembers that his mother never loved him.” -Carly
“What’s that land called?” -Eileen
“That’s right… cuz things usually go our way.” -Eileen
“There’s a first time for everything?” -Will