Loran was sitting on the deck of an empty ship. He had made sure of it being empty, first, before sitting down. He took one of his knifes from inside his cloak, a piece of cloth from one of it's many pockets, and started polishing. The work was calming, a slow, steady movement, cleaning the steel. Great Lords, he needed to be calm!
'Is this a time for polishing, Loran?' his teacher asked disapprovingly.
'Silence, you!' snarled another. 'He is meditating! If he does that, he needs it!'
A seagull, startled by the sounds, took of with a lot of noise.
'Shoo,' said Loran softly, and his teachers and the seagull all disappeared. Funny, he hadn't thought the seagull was part of it as well.
It was slowly soaking into his body. Calmness, relaxation... He knew very well that stress only increased the hallucinations, so he had to avoid it at any cost. Any cost but his live.
He put his first knife to the side, and started on the second one.
Was he going insane, he wondered. His thoughts were everywhere these days, even when he thought he was focused. he had gotten impulsive and instinctual. What had ever happened to careful planning and controled enactment? He remembered getting an extra high mark due to his patience, once, long ago. the only other thing he had ever exelled in was stealth. At least he hadn't lost that.
He put his second knife to the side, and took a deep breath. Cold, salty air filled his lungs. The smell of the sea. The smell of hunting for Ribfish with his caretaker. The smell of killing the crownprince of Delphis. They were good memories, about a better time. Would he let this place taint those memories?
He could've sat like this for ages, had he had the time. But, despite everything he was telling himself, about calmness and patience, he was still in a game. And in games, things could go fast. He returned the knives to their holders strapped across his chest, and focused on the piece of paper in front of him. Seven contenders. One of them was he himself. Six enemies, but only one that needed killing right now. Voitrach. Loran was confident in his ability to kill all the others, but the stone thing was too powerful, even for him. Which meant he had to be killed now, while there were still more of them. Which meant... Loran sighed. Which meant he'd have to find some help.
Not counting himself or Voitrach, there were five contenders left. Will, Felix, the two witches, and the robot. The two witches he was still unsure of. Neither of them had shown any particular powerful feats, but they were chosen, and they were alive. He'd have to avoid them until he knew more.
The robot was clearer. It had shown its full power in the fight with the bruisers. powerful, but not unlimited. He would make a good warrior, if he could be coaxed to Loran's side, but somehow, Loran doubted that would happen. The thing was, the robot was also the most powerful of them all, not counting Voitrach. It would have no reason whatsoever to help Loran.
Which left Will and Felix, both planners. Planners in the sense that they thought, rather then fought. analyzers, if you will. More importantly, neither appeared particularly strong. Certainly not strong enough to take down the stone beast. One of them was definitely what he needed. Which left the choice between a guy who had held him at gunpoint, and would like to see Loran dead and gone as soon as possible, and a man who had saved Loran's life already, and identified as a villain. Not particularly hard.
With that, Loran got up, walked to the side, and lowered himself in the water. It had gotten slightly less calm, he noticed, but he was happy with it. He was a strong swimmer, and the noise would obscure any sounds he might make.
'Now, how to convince the villain?' he thought. 'Or find him, for that matter.'