The Saltwater Room - Chapter 1
Summary: For some reason, Anise wants Logan to check in on the Commander. Occurs after the end of Champions. This is the first of three chapters.
Preamble: Male Human Commander & Logan catch up and be friends, but not before I exposit for two chapters about my Commander’s home and routine a la how he deals with the unique challenges that come with being the prismatic dragon champion. Warnings (which only come up in the second chapter): one brief discussion of a painful procedure, and one brief discussion about how the Commander thinks about his depression.
Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
The sun had almost reached its peak when Logan found himself weaving through the streets of Salma district. It had been some time since he’d found an excuse to wander the city. Technically he was supposed to be at the Eye of the North, dealing with the aftermath of Primordus’s and Jormag’s deadly battle alongside the rest of the Pact. But it had been in the best interests of nearly everyone at the table to give their various groups a few days to rest before moving forward. He could spare a day or two to return and deal with several outlying matters in the Seraph’s offices.
Earlier, Logan had been going to leave, reattaching his gauntlets as he walked down the hall after organizing a bit of paperwork (it had gone faster than he had anticipated, and he wondered what he would spend the rest of the day doing) when he had heard a conversation from around the corner. He had recognized Countess Anise’s voice, raised to a pitch just high enough that he could hear her clearly.
“That won’t be necessary.” She had said. “The Commander lives on that street. Any lax in delinquent activity is surely due to his influence. An extra patrol would be better used elsewhere.” The officers she spoke to responded with their understanding.
Logan had known that Anise was manipulating him. This was a trick she had pulled on him before. But his curiosity was piqued. It was a simple matter to use recent records to deduce which street the seraphs had been discussing, and then cross-reference with the names each property was listed under. In his investigation, he almost skipped over the building listed under Wolfgang Smith, but the name tickled something in his memory. He pondered for a moment before the name clicked into place as being that of the Commander’s adoptive father. Wolfgang’s passing had come up several times in conversation, back when the Commander had just become the Hero of Shaemoor. It seemed that the property was still listed under that name, despite it having been more than seven years since then.
It was in all likelihood that the name had been kept deliberately, Logan thought, to keep the place from becoming a tourist attraction. Either way, the illusion that he was in the wrong place entirely kept up when he approached the building from the front. The first floor was a store -- a pawn shop. Upon entering to the ding of a bell perched at the crown of the door, he discovered that the shop was populated by bits and bobs stacked to the ceiling in precarious piles. Logan had to squeeze between them to get to the back of the store, at which point he came across a woman who was very much not the Commander. But when Logan asked for him by name, she explained.
“Ahh, that fellow lives downstairs. His door’s around back, in the alley.” The woman explained, tucking a stray curl behind her ear. “Technically he owns the building, but he’s never home, and he rents it out so cheap to me that it might as well be mine. Normally I’d deflect a question like that from anybody, but I know who he is, and I know who you are, so I know you already know each other.” She grinned, as if charmed to be privy to such knowledge.
“He likes his privacy then, I take it?” Logan asked.
“Mhm. Rule number one of our deal is that I’m not to tell anyone about who’s living in the basement. And the more newspapers come in with him on the front page, the more I understand that rule.”
“Do any other people on this street know?”
“Not to my knowledge.” She says. “I suppose some might’ve deduced it. But it’s never come up in conversation, so I assume if they have, they understand the need for secrecy.”
Logan thanked her, squeezed back out through the mountains of second-hand items, exited the shop, and circled around to the alleyway behind. As he turned the corner, several outdoor cats scattered at the sight of him, bolting further down the way. He followed, and saw a black one scamper down the stairwell he thought he was meant to find. As he approached, he saw a small pet-door cut into the bottom of the full-sized door swing shut, indicating that the cat had escaped inside. When he made his way to the door and lifted his hand to grasp the knocker, the sound of the latch unlocking itself could be heard, and the door swung itself open under magical power. Logan jumped in surprise, and quickly entered before the door decided to close itself.
It occurred to him, as he took in the very brief entryway he had stepped into, that the door likely had some kind of magical lock; and had only opened to him because he had been registered to it. He hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary, but that would have had to be the explanation, because there was no one here to greet him; which meant no one had unlocked the door themselves.
The storage basement, Logan quickly deduced, had been modified greatly to accommodate someone living in it part-time. What had once been one large square room, with walls of stone, now contained tall wooden dividers splitting it into several distinct spaces. There was the entryway, a small square in the southwest corner of the basement. It had a small table, with a bowl of keys and other such entryway knicknacks. There was a coat rack beside it, with a few coats that Logan recognized as the commander’s, and several he did not. On the wooden divider there was hung a small square mirror, with an aging wooden frame, for fixing one’s appearance before they left the basement.
The entryway let out to Logan’s right, where he was let into a section that took up the southeastern quarter of the basement. It seemed to be the Commander’s workshop. There were tables set up in an L along that corner of the wall, and another sitting like a kitchen island among them to complete the set. Underneath each table sat numerous bins, each with collections of materials inside them. On the walls above each table were shelves and pegboards, which displayed various tools and lists and diagrams. On the tables lay many scattered projects; pistols and rifles and turrets and other things that Logan did not recognize. There was also a rolling stool sitting at the table nearest to Logan, which looked like it had four different wheels scavenged from four entirely different sources. The place was a mishmash of technology from across tyria, and probably some from the crystal desert as well. It reminded Logan of the nest of a bowerbird; or, perhaps more fittingly, the hoard of a dragon.
Turning again to the north, Logan saw the entrances to two more rooms, each taking up another quarter of the basement. The room in the northeast seemed to be the Commander’s kitchen; as he could see a wood-burning stove, and the start of a countertop, through the doorway. The northwest room had a length of violet fabric draped in the doorway, and Logan had to approach to see inside. He stepped gingerly across the stone floor and raised a hand to push the curtain aside.
First, he saw a writing desk, set against the far wall and stuffed to the brim with correspondence; papers seemingly bursting from every crevice in the wood, boiling out of every drawer. He turned his gaze further along the wall and was met abruptly with the sight of a great pile of pillows, blankets, and other such soft things all stuffed into a corner. It was all very bright and colorful and seemed to clash joyfully with the utilitarian colors of the rest of the basement. As Logan stared, a cat-shaped lump moved within the pile. Likely the one he'd spotted before, now kneading itself a comfortable napping spot.
Beside the pile was the Commander's wheelchair. It wasn't one he had ever seen the man themself using, but they seemed to prefer wearing their prosthetics when seen in public. This one looked comfortable, with a low back, a plush seat, and wheels with inner-rims meant for self-propelling. The fabric was a muted, mature blue.
On the wall above the pile, beside where the wheelchair had been left, was a ladder made of thick metal rungs bolted into the wall. Logan let his gaze follow it upwards until he came to see a hammock secured just below the ceiling, in the corner, above the pile of soft things. A blanket was draped over a lumpy form inside, and Logan knew he had found the Commander.
He wasn't exactly surprised to see the younger man in bed at 2pm, given what they and the rest of the Pact had just gone through. As far as Logan was concerned, the Commander had earned the right to sleep whenever and wherever they damn well pleased. (Though Logan had to admit: he had thought that the rumors about the Commander sleeping in the rafters at Pact encampments were more myth than reality. He supposes that they must have been true after all. Huh.)
After a moment, Logan pulled his head back out of the room, letting the curtain fall across the doorway again. Taking care not to make any loud noise, he sorted through the Commander's workbench until he found a suitable piece of scrap paper and pencil. Then, he wrote a short note, folded it up, and left it on the center island. And as quickly as he had come, he left.