You decide to just sit down next to the captain. You came here to relax, after all, and most likely he’s here for the same reason.
“I’ll head back to my room soon enough,” you say. “Just need a little time among the birds.”
He doesn’t say anything in response. You just sit there for a while, listening to the crows. They remind you of home, the roost your parents run.
“How fortunate for you that we abolished the demerit system,” the captain says suddenly. “When I was a private, if Captain Burgundy had found me like this, I’d get twenty demerits right there, and fifty would see me confined to quarters for a week.”
You’re not sure where this is going. He still doesn’t seem upset, so you decide to talk and see what he does.
“You wouldn’t have had a roost in those days, though,” you say. “I remember they were new when I was five and Mother set one up in Dorvin.”
“No, and indeed there were few places to relax. Recreation wasn’t one of Captain Burgundy’s priorities.” He chuckles a bit. “Which may be why it’s so hard for me to take my mind off the job. I never really learned how.”
“Something troubling you, sir?”
“A knight-in-training lost an arm in yesterday’s rain. I’m sure you’ve already heard.”
You do recall one of the judges only had one arm.
“Due to base policy, they were wholly unprepared for what happened. We’ll be holding a vote on whether to change the policy. I imagine you know which one it is.”
You do. Never speak of the rainspawn outside of the rain. It’s said to bring misfortune. Early rains, losing friends to the rainspawn… all sorts of things are said to come of speaking freely about them.
You’ve never really believed it, but you also never liked to think of the rainspawn, so you were all too happy to oblige.
“I do not know what the outcome will be, to be honest.” He sighs. “It may even come down to my vote, and if it does, I am unsure what decision I will make. On the one hand, it leaves new recruits unprepared. On the other, we know so little, and this warning has been passed down for generations. What if it is for good reason?”
He shakes his head and stands up.
“My apologies. Nothing I have told you is a secret, I suppose, but perhaps I should not have burdened you with it. There are other matters of pressing concern I cannot share, but this is perhaps the one that haunts me most. After all, it is in significant part my own fault.”
You aren’t sure if there’s anything you can say. You sit there for a moment as he seems to be waiting for a response, then his face suddenly takes its usual stern expression.
“At any rate. We must address your curfew violation. The proper punishment is an hour of free time removed and replaced by an extra hour on duty. However, we can be flexible about when, exactly, the lost hour happens, so long as it is within the week. Talk to the scheduling clerk about it in the morning, and for tonight, I suggest you have a good rest.”
He starts climbing the ladder, then pauses.
“Oh, and… thank you for listening.”
Now you’re alone.
It’s not really a problem if you get caught on your way back to your room now. You’ve already been punished, so it just means you’ll get an escort back.
But perhaps there’s something else you want to do before you return.
Confess to a crow, or if there’s nothing weighing that hard on your mind, just ramble.
Let’s send a letter back ho-ooh hey, is this that the captain’s handwriting?