"Are you ok?" Sinbad asked as Bryn gingerly felt her head.
She looked at him, "Just a goose egg." But he could tell she wasn't really seeing him, her eyes were staring off into the distance. She got up with great difficulty, and her head throbbed as she hobbled over to the side, totally unaware of Sinbad's worried look. Bryn was seeing herself in one of the most beautiful gowns she'd ever seen. It looked as though it had been poured on, gold and glittery it brought out her stunning looks.
She was on a stage, singing to men in strange uniforms. There was one man in particular she was focused on. He had dark hair and soft brown eyes like hers and his grin made her want to smile. He was full of mischief and yet he was the kind of guy you could really talk to.
Bryn rubbed her aching temples, starring out at the now clear and calm waters. She practically jumped out of her skin when a hand rested on her shoulder and she looked into Sinbad's worried eyes. "What's wrong? And don't try to lie, you practically screamed just now."
"I don't know, I was having some kind of weird flashback." She shook her head.
Sinbad tensed, "I don't think I want to hear this." He was trying to shove aside the feeling that if she remembered her past he'd lose her, and he was just beginning to realize how much he really needed her.
Bryn smiled, "It's nothing like that. I was singing to a bunch of soldiers, but we were wearing strangest clothes. There was this one guy who seemed to be really special to me, I don't know how I know that, I just know."
*I knew I didn't want to hear this. He felt the most unreasonable wave of jealousy. He looked over at Bryn and saw that her gaze was transfixed on something on the docks. "What is it, Bryn?"
She just stared at the man's back, he was a little above medium height. His dark hair was a brilliant contrast to his cream colored suit, but there was this air of sadness and defeat around him. He slowly turned towards the Nomad and Bryn screamed when she saw his face, the joy in her voice was obvious. "Scottie!" Then she leapt off the ship and into the stranger's open arms.
"Zarah! Oh, Zarah. After the bombings and you disappeared, I never thought I'd see you again." He picked her up and swung her around in circles. "Oh, baby girl, don't ever do that again!"
"Hey, little brother, who's the handsome man hugging our little Bryn?" Doubar, Rongar, and Firouz had come up behind Sinbad.
"I don't know. But I intend to find out!" His blue eyes spitting fire, Sinbad stalked over to them; barely restraining the urge to rip her from the other man's arms and saw that she was his. This Scottie was too good looking for Sinbad's comfort and, unlike the men in other port towns, Bryn actually seemed to welcome his attentions. The crew watched the proceedings with interested eyes.
"Bryn." She looked back, startled at the hard sound in Sinbad's voice. "Who's your 'friend'?"
"Zarah, don't tell me you're going by Bryn again. After all the trouble you got into last time." Scott shook his head in mock seriousness.
Her elusive grin flashed up at him, "Hey, when I awoke, that was the only name I remembered. And, if I remember correctly, dear brother, the trouble was you fault."
"Oh, that's right. Blame a brother who was only seeking to help his sister." His face bore a pained statement.
She snorted in disbelief, "By getting the whole town to back a bull running that was not happening?"
"How was I supposed to know that the weather would turn nasty?" His face was the picture of total innocence.
"I tried to tell you that it would, remember what we had to do then?"
"Break codes or serve in the army, I remember vividly." Scott grimaced, "You have to admit though, we Sherwoods are surprisingly talented in that area."
"Anything that is a little off center of the law, we Sherwoods are good at." Bryn, or rather Zarah, observed, grinning slightly. "But what are you doing here, for that matter, what am I?"
Sinbad listened to this exchange with wide eyes, now that he knew Scott was no rival he could see him clearly. There was a strong family resemblance in the facial structure, the eyes and strong chin. Their hair was about the same dusky shade and they were about the same size, although Bryn-er, Zarah-was more petite and fragile looking. They had the same sense of confidence, mischief making, and determination.
"I was in London, doing Lang the favor that I owed him while between jobs. I visited the Cafe de'Rocca, what was left of it anyway, I guess I stumbled on some of the rumble. The next thing I know, I was standing here and there you were." He glanced around and saw Sinbad, "Which reminds me. Are you going to introduce us?"
Zarah turned to Sinbad, blushing a bit when she realized that she'd forgotten her manners. "Forgive me. Captain Sinbad meet my brother Scott Sherwood. Scott, this is Captain Sinbad of the Nomad. And no, I'm not kidding."
"An honor to meet you. We've been anxious to find out anything about Bryn-er, Zarah's-past."
"Her past?" Scott looked at his sister for an explanation.
"When I arrived, I had no memory of who I was. Sinbad found me and took me aboard his ship because Dim-Dim said I'd be a great asset in the fight against the dark forces." She slapped her head, "Dim-Dim, of course! How could I have been so dumb?"
"What do you mean?" Sinbad asked, *That's not the only reason I brought you aboard, darling.
"Dim-Dim asked me to give you a hand after I was injured in the bombings. See, when he was arranging for Maeve to go to him something went wrong and I was brought back. He knew I could help, even then I didn't remember who I was. When the blast hit the cafe, I got clobbered by a rather nice 2x4." She said wryly. Zarah glanced at her brother, something was troubling him and she knew he needed to tell her. "Captain, don't you have a prisoner to deliver? Scott, why don't we get all caught up, something's troubling you."
Sinbad nodded and went back to the Nomad reluctantly but his eyes watched them walk away arm in arm. "So, who was that?"
"Scott Sherwood, her older brother. Oh, and her name is Zarah." His mind was racing with what he'd just learned. *What did she mean when she said "off the center of the law"? He firmly shrugged aside that problem to focus on the best way to get Dara to see the Sultan.
"So tell me what you've been up to lately. Any new cons or is the government still wanting you to work for them?"
"Actually, I've been working as the station manager at WENN in Pittsburgh."
Her shout of laughter stopped him, "You? You doing an honest days work? No scams, no fast ones, a steady, regular job." She got control of her giggles, "That's a new one for you, Scottie."
"That's rich coming from you, working for Sinbad the Sailor." He teased back, tweaking her ear.
"Hey, I had amnesia on my side. What's your excuse?" She hit him lightly on the arm.
"I heard about this incredible girl who worked there. The smart, intelligent, pretty Betty Roberts, head writer for WENN."
"Ah, a woman. The cause of many a man's downfall." Zarah intoned gravely, with a happy glint in her eyes.
"Rich coming from a woman who's probably fallen for a pair of midnight blue eyes and a capacity for adventure." He tossed back.
She shrieked with laughter, "Oh, no. My dirty secrets out!" Zarah looked at him, "Don't be silly, I admire Sinbad, that's all."
Scott wondered if she knew how she really felt about Sinbad. Knowing Zarah, he'd bet that she didn't realize a thing. "Anyway, I really wanted to meet her. So, I offered to take Victor Comstock's, he's the original station manager of WENN, gift to Mr. Eldridge to WENN personally. Once there, I said that Victor had sent me back to be manager. Victor was right about Betty."
"And you fell for her?" Zarah observed softly.
"Like a ton of bricks. I started out to make a profit, but I came to care about them all, they filled the hole in my heart that was left when you disappeared." He sighed, "But Rollie Pruitt, he's the guy that handles all the finances and part owns WENN, did some investigating. Some of the shadier things I did caught up with me and I was summarily fired. I told Betty the truth, the whole truth, and she slapped me for it. I walked out of WENN and really don't know what I'm going to do. My time there changed me, for the better, but there is no hope for me and Betty now."
Zarah stared at him, sitting there with his head in his hands, defeat in his very being. "I don't believe this is Scott Sherwood speaking. Who are you and what have you done to my brother?" She was only half joking, she understood exactly what he meant.
Scott looked up at her, then shook his head. "Zarah, it's not so simple. You know what we've done, what we are-cons through and through."
She scoffed, giving his shoulder a slight shake. "Give me a break. There is no written rule that we have to follow the path of our ancestors. We've both changed our lives, we've become different people because we've met those who have given us the desire to do better, we've wanted to do better. Our family has always considered us the black sheep."
"Betty would never trust me again after all that I told her. Besides, Pruitt banned me from being station manager." He was begining to believe that it might be possible.
"What did you once tell me about counting all your chickens before the hatch?" She scolded, lightly.
"I am. You love Betty and we know that a door will always open if we keep knocking. Get back into WENN, who says you need to be a manager. I've seen you act, all stations need actors. Be there, show them you are worthy of trust, show that change of heart. You are my big brother Scott Sherwood and you've never said die, even when those blasted codes got to be too much, you'd never yield. Don't start now."
"Are you sure you're my sister? You don't seem like the rest of us." Scott grinned and put his arm around her shoulder. He gently turned her back towards the Nomad.
"Look who's talking." She saw where they were headed and grinned wickedly, "In a hurry to get back?"
"You better believe in, baby girl." He swatted her on the backside.
She tsked, "What would Betty say?"
"I shudder to think." They grinned and hugged tightly.
"I'm gonna miss you so much." Zarah said into his shoulder.
"Come back with me."
"I can't, I promised." She said through a throat clogged with tears.
He nodded understandingly, "And if there is one thing we Sherwoods value above all else, it's keeping our promises."
"I love you so much, Scottie." Zarah called to his rapidly fading image.
"I love you, too. You've got a good thing going, don't try to change too much." He looked at his watch, "Oh, would you look at the time."
"Very exciting." She quipped and they exchanged grins before he was gone.
Sighing softly and wondering what she was going to do, Zarah boarded the Nomad. "Why are you still here?"
"We had decided to go over land but don't exactly trust the guide, there's something shifty about him." Sinbad slid over and she sat down.
"We don't want to take any chances but..."
"Dara needs to stand trial."
Zarah thought for a moment and glanced at Dara, "Has anyone there actually seen you?" Dara shook her head and Zarah walked over and looked at her. "I beleive that I could pass for you. We're about the same height, the same coloring, I think I have a cloak about that shade. As long as no one actually looks into my face, we should be able to pull it off." Her Sherwood mind racing, Zarah looked at all the possibilities. She continued to speak as though it was silent in the room, "The Nomad would arrive earlier than an overland group, but they would be concentrating on were you are, Sinbad. It could work."
"It's too dangerous."
"Oh, stuff. We both know Dara is innocent, if she doesn't see the Sultan she'll never get a fair trial." She looked at Dara, "I know you want to run but if you do every bounty hunter would be after you. Besides, you'll be haunted by this for the rest of you're life. You know who the real killer is, he won't let you live. Deal?"
"Deal. But how do you know I didn't do it?" Dara asked curiously, "I was there."
"You don't have the eyes of a killer and you loved him too much to betray him." They walked into her cabin and switched outfits, then quickly did her hair like Dara's. "Stay covered with this robe if you can, they won't be able to see but just in case."
Although Sinbad strongly objected, he knew that this was the safest way as far as Dara was concerned. Zarah sat beside Doubar with the shackles on her wrists, she knew it pained the crew and Sinbad to see her like this but at least they acknowledged that it was the only way. After clearing Dara, they left for ports unknown.
Zarah stood at the prow and looked out at the night sky. Knowing her past did have its benefits but...she sighed, she just didn't know who she was anymore. Was she Bryn, a faithful Nomader or Zarah Sherwood, con artist extrodanair. She shivered, what of my magic? It held no place in her life as Zarah, she'd denied it for so long but as Bryn, she'd embraced it and accepted it as a part of her, even tried to learn it. Who was she? Zarah hugged her arms around her waist and felt Sinbad come up behind her.
"Are you okay? You've been so quiet." He put a hand on her shoulder, "You know you can talk to me. What is it?"
Zarah turned to face Sinbad, "I know. I'm confused. I thought finding my past would relieve that confusion, but it hasn't. I don't know who I am anymore." She read his confusion, "I know, it doesn't make any sense does it? Maybe you should sit down."
They went below to his office, Sinbad lit a candle and placed it on a table. She sat on top of the table and stared at the flames for a moment before she began. Zarah looked straight at Sinbad, "You might want to sit down for this. I'm not exactly sure how to say this."
"Zarah, you're beginning to scare me. Just say it." He was really worried, Bryn, he refused to call her Zarah, at least to himself just yet, wasn't acting in character. She was usually so direct and honest. What, he wondered, could be so bad that she was acting this way?
"Ok. I want to leave the Nomad." Sinbad felt as though he'd been set adrift during a violent storm. Of all the things he expected her to say, this wasn't one of them. She finally broke the silence that had stretched between them for far too long, "Well, say something."
"What would you like me to say?" His voice was deceptively calm, inside he was boiling.
"I don't know." She was alarmed by the anger she felt emanating from him.
"When did you decide this? When you saw your 'brother' today?" He put his clenched fists behind him, forcing them to relax. It was amazing, he thought, that one could carry on a normal conversation when one's world had suddenly fallen apart.
"No, it was when I had that strange flashback. I knew then that I had to find out what my past was, meeting my brother was a boon I didn't expect." She smiled fondly, "He's fallen in love with the most marvelous woman. Anyway, I would like you to take me to Ingra. I know that there is someone there who can help me."
"But I don't see why you need to leave at all." *Well, at least that really was her brother. He watched the candlelight play across her dark tresses, illuminating her eyes, and already thinking about the best route to Ingra. Sinbad would take her, he could do no less. He loved her. Love? He thought in shock, yes that's exactly how he felt.
As this turmoil was going on inside Sinbad, Zarah told him everything. "Sinbad, the reason I have to go is because I did some pretty bad things in my past. Oh, I never hurt anyone or anything like that, but I did make a living pulling some cons. My family has always been full of shysters and con artists, its something we've been raised to do. I never knew anything else, oh sure me and Scottie would break codes for the government or do some undercover work but basically we were out for what was best for us."
She ran a hand through her hair and side. "And my magic? I denied it existed, except when I could use it to pull a fast one on some poor, unsuspecting individual. I would tell them their 'future', then I'd make it come true. Harmless stuff really, but when I think of the good it has done for you and others, I hate myself. How I could just ignore the good that my gift could do." Zarah looked at him, "Can you understand? That was the life I was raised to, until I met you I never thought about helping others. I just don't know anything about myself anymore, that's why I need to go."
"Bryn," She looked at him and he corrected himself, "Zarah, we would never hold your past against you. Besides, you are a good person and a wonderful friend. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. You've contributed so much."
Zarah waved this aside. "I know that. In my head I know that, but in my heart..." She sighed, "I just don't know who I am anymore. I'll never be a whole person if I don't know for myself who I am."
His heart screamed nooooo, don't let her go. But his head said, if you love her, you need to. "We'll take you to Ingra."
"Thank you." She smiled, relieved. "Good night, dear friend." She kissed his cheek and suddenly found herself pulled into a tight embrace. "Sinbad, what are you..." She was ruthlessly kissed, the world spun under her feet and she grabbed onto him for balance. Her arms slowly slid up around his neck and she was kissing him back, just when she was about to faint he released her and they looked at each other, he saw the surprised passion in her eyes.
"I'm sorry." He quickly left the room, shaking with the raw emotions within him. She watched him leave, then raised a trembling hand to her lips and felt wilted, her whole body was alive with new feelings and it confused her. Zarah didn't know how long she'd stood there like that but she finally dragged herself from to her room and fell onto the bed.
Sinbad berated himself for giving in to the temptation and wondered if she'd ever speak to him again. The voyage was a long one for all involved, with Zarah avoiding Sinbad and he doing the same to her. As they sailed into port, Zarah looked nervously out. It was harder than she thought it would be. She knew this was the right thing but she felt so alone, Sinbad walked up to her. "Zarah, I don't know what to say. You've been such a good friend, I shouldn't have taken advantage of your vulnerability."
"You're not the only one to blame, I guess I shouldn't have sprung my decision on you like that. I expect you were just in shock and it was just a reaction, something that happened." She tried to sooth him, while inside her heart was jumping just to be near him again. He smelled of the sea and looked so good.
"That's no excuse. It was my fault." Sinbad was trying hard to concentrate on returning their relationship to the more comfortable companionship of earlier days, but it was so hard to with her looking so beautiful.
"Don't be silly, we've always known that there is an attraction between us. We just gave in because we were both afraid of what the future would bring. It just happened, we'll just forget it." But both were thinking, not a chance and wondering when it would happen again. Zarah wanted more than anything to put her head on his broad shoulder and let him take her away from all her problems.
Sinbad stared at her and wanted to tell her of his love, but these feelings were still so new to him and so different from anything he'd ever felt before that he couldn't speak of them. He just nodded at her, "All right. I hope you find the answer you seek."
"If I do, you'll be the first to know." He looked at her curiously, "Dermott has decided to come with me. I tried to talk him out of it but..."
"He should be with you. Maeve sent him to you." Sinbad smiled and touched her cheek, she drew in a deep breath and looked at him, wondering what she wanted from him exactly.
She left the Nomad that sunny afternoon, filled with doubts and fears. She wondered if she'd ever see any of them again.
The End. Part two is underway.