Wrapped in blankets within Unambi's hammock, Idira dreamed of Khadgar. He walked alone in a strange, sunken city, passing odd domed buildings constructed from massive ashlars of dark green stone. They crouched low along the city's circular walkways, as though bowing in worship to the vast, angular dome towering above them in the city's centre. From the apex of the central dome, a swirling pillar of white light rotated up into the night sky. Beams of light shot through it, flaring bright as they wove together, intricate.
His arms crossed over his chest, Khadgar scanned the skies, as though searching for something, his eyes moving over the constellations of stars and two moons looming large and heavy on the horizon. Idira stepped closer, expecting to see a younger version of the man from her childhood dream. He turned, his profile emerging from the shadows into the glare of the pillar's light. She stared at him, incredulous. He looked exactly the same as she remembered him from the balcony. Did he not age at all?
'Who are you, and why do you trouble my dreams so?' he asked, his voice resonant, deep and refined. A little thrill ran through Idira at the sound of his voice, it was better than she had imagined it would be. She circled him, drinking in the details of his blue cloth and leather tunic, collar and gloves. Across his back he wore a sturdy wooden staff, its crest carved into the shape of a raven, the gems of its eyes pulsed like a beating heart, slow, emanating power. Beneath the raven's talons, three blue amulets carved with magical symbols hung from leather straps, each of the amulets glowing within a halo of blue light. The raven's eyes flared. Khadgar turned, wary, and pulled his staff free. He held it up. The staff brightened, crackling with violet energy.
'Is it you?' he whispered. 'Show yourself.'
Idira stopped and looked behind her, suddenly self-conscious. He couldn't sense her, could he? No, impossible. He was on another planet and she was dreaming. She glanced up and met his eyes. She bit her lip. He was looking right at her, or rather through her. He looked older than VanCleef with his tousled silver hair and careworn expression, although he carried it well, his tired features offset by his strong jaw, straight nose, and steel-grey eyes. Several days worth of stubble covered his jaw. She backed up, feeling intimidated by his powerfully built, tall frame. From a safer distance, she eyed him. It was really him, in the flesh, the silver-haired hero of Azeroth, charismatic and handsome.
His staff flared bright. He stepped back, startled. Now he looked right at her, his jaw slack.
'The violet Light belongs to a child?' he whispered, astonished. 'No, it cannot be.'
'You can see me?' Idira asked, incredulous. He continued to look at her, examining her, moving his staff from side to side.
'Wait!' she spluttered, indignant, as the light from his staff passed over her once more. 'I'm not a child! I'm almost twelve-and-a-half.'
He didn't answer her, nor did he even seem to realise she was speaking, instead he carried on looking at her, assessing her. 'It is the same Light as in my dreams,' he murmured to himself. 'So rare. But still, a child, how is it possible?'
He shook his head, resigned, and took a step back. He bowed and addressed her, formal. 'I would know more of the dreams you have given to me about Azeroth's future, and the orc you call Gul'dan and what I must do to stop him.' He stepped closer once more, his eyes narrowing. He let out a little exhalation of frustration. 'It's so hard to see you, you shift and waver so.'
Idira stared at him. How could her Light be in his dreams?
'Can you speak?' he asked, urgent.
'Yes. Can't you hear me?' Idira answered, impatient. Maybe she just needed to talk louder. 'Who's Gul'dan?' she shouted.
'Wait!' His eyes widened, alarmed. He lunged after her, his gloved hand reaching out to grasp her shoulder. She felt a shock as his hand passed through her, warm and tingly. 'Come back! I don't understand the dreams. Why do you show me such things, of an orc who is dead yet I must stop before he destroys Azeroth? Why do you come to me?' he asked, anguished. 'I am not even in Azeroth anymore!' He faded away.
Idira opened her eyes, Khadgar's curse of frustration still ringing in her ears. From below, the low sound of VanCleef's grieving drifted up into the office, rising and falling, reminding Idira of the farm and the sigh of the ocean's waves washing up against the shore. She peered over the edge of the hammock. Unambi lay asleep on the floor of the cabin, between her and the closed door of the cabin, his daggers beside him.
She eased back into the hammock. Why tonight, of all nights would she have such a dream? Didn't she already have enough to come to terms with? She thought of Myra and Benny, only just gone to the Light, tears filling her eyes anew. They trickled down the side of her face as she stared at the roof of the cabin, her gaze following the seams of the wooden panels fitted together and sealed with tar, refusing to let herself think of how they died, and what would happen to her now, a prisoner to a madman. She shifted a little, making the hammock swing back and forth, the movement soothing her, calming her.
At least Unambi was still there, he would protect her. Maybe one day they would escape. But how? When? Another tear slipped down her cheek. She couldn't think about that now. She couldn't even think about her dream with Khadgar. Another day, another time, when she didn't feel like she was going to shatter into a thousand pieces. Exhausted, she closed her eyes and went back to sleep. This time she dreamed of nothing.
With Myra gone, VanCleef changed. He lost all interest in the ship, spending his time in the galley, gambling and drinking the hard liquor the pirates carried. At breakfast, as Idira prepared Vanessa's plate, he would sit at the table and stare at Myra's empty seat, his eyes sunken from lack of sleep. He would pull a silver flask from his jacket, his hands shaking and drink deep, then sit, half-turned, waiting for the alcohol to do its work, his legs splayed on his chair, his elbow leaning on the table and his head hanging. A few minutes later he would get up and leave without saying a word.
Sometimes Idira could hear him shouting strange things from the top deck, his words slurred and incoherent, daring someone to fight him, to come and taste his blades. There would be sounds of a scuffle followed by more shouts, and the clatter of swords falling to the deck. Soon Kip and one of the other men would bring an unconscious VanCleef down into his room and throw him onto his bed to sleep off the drink. They would walk out shaking their heads, glancing at her and Vanessa, pity in their eyes.
As the months dragged by and VanCleef's condition worsened, Kip took over the work of finishing the ship, becoming the new leader, though he still treated VanCleef with respect in front of the others. He carved a little set of animals for Vanessa and gave them to her one evening as VanCleef stormed across the top deck cursing and demanding the cannons be fired in honor of Myra.
Vanessa just looked at Kip's gift, laid out on the dining table, her eyes hollow and asked what was wrong with her daddy. Kip shook his head and backed away, Idira knew he didn't want any part of that conversation. He left to contain VanCleef, while Idira went to find a book to read to Vanessa, to try and distract her from the fistfight breaking out on the top deck.
Idira did her best to take care of Vanessa, relying on Unambi to give her the strength to go on, but she soon realised he was suffering too. The lack of fresh air and sunlight made him tired and listless. He spent most of his time in his hammock, sleeping. Idira could understand, she slept too whenever she could. Anything to make the time pass.
One evening, a week after her unremarked thirteenth birthday, she overheard Kip and Unambi talking as they drank in the office. Kip mentioned when he took in the last shipment of goods from the entrance of the mines, there were rumors that the bounty for VanCleef's head had been raised to one thousand gold pieces and champions were gathering to answer the call.
Unambi scoffed and asked why Kip didn't just deliver up VanCleef to Stormwind himself. Kip laughed, hollow, and admitted he was a wanted man, too, as was every other man and creature in the mines by now, including Unambi. He'd decided the attack against Stormwind would have to wait. In the meantime he had agreed with the ship's captain they would sail to Kalimdor, to a place called Ratchet, where they could wait in safety until VanCleef pulled himself together. Unambi had grunted, but said nothing more.
After that, the men worked harder, starting earlier in the morning and working well into the night. A sense of urgency swept over the ship. No one drank or gambled now, even VanCleef kept to himself, sitting alone in his room staring at the wall, whispering to himself about being a family again.
Although Idira spent more time than usual sleeping, she never dreamed of Khadgar again, nor did she have any visions, but that didn't stop her from thinking about him and the tantalising thought that they seemed to share a connection through her Light. Her thoughts of him, and how handsome he was, occupied the long, lonely hours spent waiting to turn her face once more to the warm rays of the sun. Secretly she was glad he hadn't been able to see her properly, she didn't want him to think of her as a child. She wouldn't be a child for much longer. One day she would be a woman full grown and she wanted him to see her like that. But she had to admit, the wait was excruciating now she had seen him up close.
One night, not long after she had learned of VanCleef's bounty, the worst of her fears came true when she experienced her first painful bleed, alone. She was glad she had kept her booklet about becoming a woman with the bank note from Nin still tucked safe inside, otherwise she would have thought she was dying. She sent to the galley for linens, washing them out after, desperate to hide her shame from both VanCleef and Vanessa. She had already grown in height, but now her breasts and hips filled out, seemingly overnight. When the pirates began eyeing her as she sat in the office talking to Unambi, Kip told her she had to stay below. She sighed and accepted her imprisonment, but secretly she grieved the loss of her one last solace; Unambi's warm and reassuring presence.
She kept herself busy taking in Myra's two dresses so she could wear them. Her new body made her own dresses too tight, their bodices tearing at the seams and hems brushing against her shins, far above her ankles. She repaired her old dresses and packed them away, saving them for when Vanessa would need them. The first time VanCleef saw Idira wearing Myra's dress, he just stared at her, his eyes glistening with tears. He turned and went up the ladder, and didn't come back for two days.