My heart began to race with tension and excitement; I could no longer remain still. I wrapped myself in an old cloak and attempted to blend into the crowd by the harbor.
But suddenly, my arm was grabbed from behind, and a forceful whisper entered my ear.
I looked over my shoulder, and saw a woman with a hat worn low to cover her face. Not wanting to make a scene, I followed the woman to a more secluded area.
"Why are you here, after all this time?"
I hesitated, as I was trying to discern whether I knew this woman. She turned to face me, and though I was still unable to see her face clearly, I was able to tell from her sleek, long limbs that she was an Elvaan. The woman then suddenly grabbed me by the collar and said angrily,
"Speak! Did you think I would forget your face?"
She then removed her hat and revealed her face to me for the first time.
At once, I was trapped in the glare of her powerful eyes. I was intimidated, to be sure, but I somehow managed to stare back at the woman.
With her tawny skin and sharp features, the woman possessed a beauty that can only be described as "primal." There was an aura of intensity about her the likes of which I had never encountered. Had I met this woman in the past, there was no way I could have forgotten her.
--I'm sorry, but you have the wrong person.
That was what I was about to say, but I suddenly stopped myself.
This was the second time I had been mistaken for someone else. This woman also knew a man who looked very much like me.
"Please! Tell me about this man you think I am!"
The woman flinched, then pushed me away. After walking a few steps back, she muttered,
"...Who are you? That is not the voice of the man I knew."
"This is my first time in Norg, and my first time to meet you. The man that you know is someone else entirely... or possibly my brother."
"I've traveled from the mainland in search of my long-lost brother. The man you know could quite possibly be him. Please, anything you can tell me about him, any small detail, I have to know!"
The wind howled as storm clouds blotted out the stars in the night sky. The pirates swiftly sailed out into the tempestuous waters, as if they were waiting for the storm to arrive.
From a dark corner of the cave, the Elvaan woman and I watched the ships leave one by one as we continued our discussion.
"I first met him on a black market job. I don't know what his reasons were for coming--only that behind his inane banter he possessed a keen eye for merchandise, which led a certain pirate to bring him here. After that, I worked with him for years, but... in the end I parted ways with him without even learning his real name. The only things I can tell you about him are trite matters, like how he hated vegetables, and how he sometimes gazed out into the ocean somberly."
With a small snicker, the woman picked up a small shell from the ground.
"It was here that he one day took my hand and told me, 'I've discovered a treasure that's priceless to me. I can't work in the black market any more.'"
The woman flung the shell into the sea, where it quickly disappeared under the waves.
"A woman, and not just any woman. She was the daughter of the pirate that had brought him here, not to mention my friend since childhood. In the end, he challenged the girl's father, and won her hand properly. They both left the island soon after. In many ways, he was more reckless than any pirate I've ever known."
I thought to myself, after pulling such a stunt, would his life not still be in danger? Growing concerned, I posed this question to the Elvaan woman.
"The girl's father may be a scoundrel, but he would never do anything to make his daughter cry. The truth is, he's probably relieved that his daughter didn't become a pirate's wife."
I myself was relieved to hear this from the woman, who then re-crossed her legs and added,
"By the by, you're from Tavnazia, aren't you? You've also lived in Jeuno for quite some time."
I raised my head, stunned by the woman's words.
"People from all different regions have business with the black market. When you've been around it as long as I have, you develop an ear for dialects."
"How about him? The man you knew?"
The woman's hair danced in the ocean breeze.
"I would wager that he was from Tavnazia as well... Two Humes from the same region, close in age, strikingly similar facial features and build... Shall I just come out and say it for you?"
The woman then suddenly clutched my head with both hands, turned my face towards hers, and said,
"Listen to me--that man is your brother. Your brother is alive, and he is living somewhere on the mainland!"
My brother is alive...
As I listened to those words, I could feel the doubt that had built up inside of me over the years leave my body, and vanish into thin air.