he ocean breeze lifted copper strands, sending loose curls roiling as they caught the late afternoon light. Perhaps it was no longer afternoon, but early evening, as the sun had dipped close enough to caress the horizon, its light dimmed from the brightness of a clear winter's day, to the warm bronze spill of luminescence that dripped over the gray stones of the keep, tinting them orange, and gilding the cresting waves from silver to gold. The girl, too, leaning precariously over the crenelations, thin form twisted lithely over the cold stone, was painted all in shades of copper, gold, and bronze, a look of wonder carved upon girlish features. Her hazel eyes were wide, her lips parted in both a grin and a gasp of wonderment, her cheeks flushed from the cool air. Perhaps she wasn't quite dressed for the weather, as she was, wrapped in wisps of silk, draped in gems that sparkled, in gold that gleamed even brighter in the early evening sun. But the cold wind mattered not to Falia, and she was unencumbered by excess modesty. And why should she be? She was beautiful, and she knew it, and there was no shame in her bones.
Before, the ocean had seemed smothering; a wall, a barrier between her and the world. A moat. Now? Now each swell of blue-green water whispered of opportunity. Of freedom. The lapping waves against the red hull of the Silence were each sirens' songs, promising an end to drudgery. Falia had never felt so free; had never felt so alive. Her favorite place had become the ramparts that overlooked the sea, where the salt breeze ran fingers through her long hair, pricked at the gauze of her gowns. Where she'd met him, as she defiantly watched, defiantly awaited what might've been her doom. But it hadn't been. It had been her boon. Falia had gone from the literal red-headed step-child, maid to the trueborn Hewetts in ill-fitting shifts, hair caught in severe braids and tight twists to wearing the finest slips of silks and furs, hair a copper tumble, watching as her step-mother and sisters served the motley crew of the Silence.
She relished the shift.
Falia was ivy, climbing stones and ramparts to seek the sky, the high breeze. Before, she'd not been allowed up top, and only touched the clouds on the rare occasions she managed to slip from the watchful gaze of her 'superiors'. Now, she was allowed where she wished, when she wished. A whim caught hold of her fancy, and the lithe girl flipped her slippers from her feet, turning around to lean against the merlon, kicking her legs out to send the silk shoes flying across the stone. Just as swiftly, she flung a leg up, and climbed upon the merlon, stretching her arms out wide as the transparent fabric of her gown waved about her form, and she let loose a high, tumbling laugh. She turned, spinning upon one tip-toed foot, facing the next merlon, and lept, landing lightly upon the cold gray stone. The ground was a dizzying distance below, the bustling smallfolk, servants, and pirates appearing almost like insects from her great height.
They were all unimportant. Perhaps that was the real draw of the sky: from up there, everything, and everyone else was petty. A nobody. Like she used to be. But no longer; the light of the sun now graced her form. She heard his footsteps before she saw him; before she deigned to spin around. That gait was unmistakable, a slow, swaggering saunter upon booted feet; the boots not so new as to have a clipped sound, but something deeper and softer. As harsh as the salt waves against the shore. Years of sneaking around the keep had honed Falia's hearing to something preternatural; she'd an unrivaled ear for detail, and an unrivaled memory for particulars. Falia waited as he approached, feigning obliviousness. At the last moment before his approach would be entirely obvious to just anyone, Falia pirouetted to face Euron. The Crow's Eye. Her Lord. Her Captain. She curtsied from atop the crenellation, the motion not the practiced poise of her step-sisters, but slightly clumsy, a little too flouncy.
"M'Lord," she greeted.