Things are moving on, and I really have no idea how all the jumbled mess in my mind is going to fit together, but I guess it will somehow. I've just got to find that one piece and the rest will fall into place...If only writing was that simple.
So, read on for the next episode - Wind and Waves!
“The Rift is changing course,” Leonora observed slowly, staring out at the first ship.
I turned, squinting my eyes, and saw that she was right. Instead of being headed straight for us, the ship’s direction had been shifted slightly to the side, on a path that would take them parallel to ours.
“What’s he doing that for?” the first mate frowned.
After a moment the captain shook his head. “He’s headed right past us, they’re going after the other pirate.”
Eumin gazed at the approaching ship. “That captain always was unpredictable,” he grunted.
“Haul in on the sheets!” the captain roared at the crew on the deck.
They were at the ropes in mere moments, pulling them and retying them.
“What does that do?” I asked Eumin in a whisper.
He gave me a sidelong glance. “They’re tightening the sails so we go faster.”
“But we’re headed toward The Rift, or whatever it’s called, why do we want to go faster?”
“Because she’s not after us anymore. Most likely she’ll go after the other pirate and case her away, and then come back after us,” Eumin sucked a breath through his teeth. “We should be far enough ahead by then that we can reach Panalia Harbour without problem.”
“’Should’?” I repeated uncertainly.
“Hopefully,” Eumin added.
“Yay,” I murmured dryly. “What a way to make me feel happy.”
He shrugged. “’t’s true,” he replied philosophically.
The Rift was even closer now, almost drawing alongside our ship. The crew lined the edge of the craft, grinning in our direction.
A tall figure stepped up onto the bulwarks, resting one hand lightly on a thick supporting rope, loose shirt sleeves flapping in the wind. “Until next time!” his call came across the water.
“Whatever,” Leonora muttered under her breath, turning away.
The man nodded to us, raising one hand in an informal salute. He jumped down, striding out of view. The Rift drew away, headed directly for the other pirate ship approaching from behind us.
“Was that Captain Whatshisname?” I asked.
“Wielder. Aye, it was that,” Leonora nodded, throwing a glance after the other ship. “I’ve never seen a man more bold than that one. To stand there in clear view of any archers we might have, without the slightest tinge of worry either I’ll bet.”
“Haul in!” the captain yelled again, and the crew jumped into action.
“We’ve got to get as much speed out of her as we can,” the first mate explained. “The Rift isn’t just going to sail off and leave us be.”
“And I don’t like the feel of the wind,” the captain added.
As he spoke a heavy gust whipped up a wave of spray that splattered over the deck. The crew were at the ropes as another blast of wind pitched the ship sideways, the masts creaking at the sudden force on the sails.
I fell backwards as the ship rolled over a bigger than normal wave, catching myself on the edge of the ship.
The weather changed rapidly. Within fifteen minutes the sky was half clothed in gloomy grey clouds, whipped up by the blustering wind. The waves grew bigger, cascading over the listing deck. I could barely hear the shouted commands of the captain and first mate to the crew over the roaring sound of the wind ripping through the ropes and sails.
Men swarmed up the masts and rigging, ‘reefing’ the sails Eumin said. The ship tilted first this way and then the other, sending me staggering.
The captain turned and yelled something at us, but the wind tore his voice away. Jumping forward, he grabbed my arm. “Get below!” he shouted.
Even from that close I barely caught the words.
Leonora and Eumin made their way along the ship, heading to the cabin hatch. I struggled after them, fighting against the wind to keep my balance.
A massive wave washed over the deck, flooding over me. I screamed as my legs were knocked from under me and the water washed me over toward the side of the ship.
I slammed into the bulwarks, scrambling to hold onto anything. Water filled my eyes, my mouth, everywhere. I felt myself slipping overboard.
A strong arm wrapped around me, and Eumin hauled me backwards, away from the roaring sea.
“Careful!” he yelled over the wind. “Don’t want to waste this whole trip do you?”
Somehow he half dragged me into the cabin, dropping me on the floor as he turned to slam the door against the washing waves.
Leonora helped me up, taking a deep breath as a drenched Eumin turned back from the door.
“That was close,” she said.
“Closer than I liked,” Eumin agreed. “You okay?” he asked me.
I nodded, panting and soaked but alive. “I’ll live,” I managed.
Leonora looked at us both, eyebrows raised. “I thought I was soggy before,” she remarked. “But if I’m soggy, then you,” she nodded at me, “Must be soggier, and you’re soggiest,” she tilted her head at her brother.
A shaky smile twisted the corners of my mouth.
“Something like that,” Eumin shrugged. “I’m going to go find some dry clothes.”
He disappeared into the small cabin that he slept in.
Leonora grinned. “Guess you’ll be wanting a towel?” she suggested, tossing one to me from where it had been folded on a chair.
I fumbled for a moment as the ship listed heavily to one side, but then caught it, earning an approving look from my companion. Heading into the tiny room I shared with Leonora, I grabbed out a fresh pair of clothes, changing quickly.
When I returned to the other room, Eumin and Leonora were busy catching chairs to sit on. The few items of furniture – half a dozen chairs, a small table and a chest of drawers – were rocking precariously with the ship. The drawers weren’t about to move, being stuffed full of hefty metal bits and pieces, the table, on the other hand, looked far more suspicious.
“Take a seat,” Leonora offered, settling down on hers.
The ship tipped deeply and a chair slid into the back of my knees. I stumbled backward, sitting down heavily on the chair. My stomach lurched threateningly, and I gripped the sides of my chair. I wouldn’t be seasick. I wouldn’t. I gritted my teeth stubbornly.
Leonora and Eumin were looking at maps and charts, eyebrows knotted with concentration. I braced my legs against the floor so the chair wouldn’t move. Closing my eyes, I imagined myself far away, galloping a horse across green fields, clear spring air in my face, and sun shining against my back.
A dark room, the shadows are almost physical, cloaking everything in a damp forlorn despair. Someone sits against the stone wall, chains bind his wrists, darkness binds his soul.
There is no hope.
I jerked upright, my eyes shooting open. The ship rolled again, less violently than before, and the howling of the wind had died down a little.
Had I fallen asleep?
I blinked, looking around at the cabin room. Eumin and Leonora were talking in low voices, and everything was the same as it had been before I closed my eyes.
Slowly, I shut my eyes again.
“There is no place for hope here,” a hoarse voice whispers into the blackness.
I jolted into reality again, choking on a sob of despair. What was that?
Eumin stood, glancing in my direction. “I think it’s calmed down again,” he said, moving toward the door.
Opening it, he stepped aside, bowing and gesturing at the open doorway. “Ladies first.”
Leonora took my hand. “C’mon,” she said. “Let’s go see what’s happening now.”
I pushed the strange dream aside, following Leonora as she trouped out onto the deck.
Up at the tiller, the captain smiled tiredly at us as we joined him.
“How’s everything?” Eumin asked.
“Not as bad as it could be, that storm came from nowhere and then went back there again pretty quick,” the captain nodded at him, “Good catch, by the way.” He glanced toward me, “Don’t want to be losing any passengers.”
Eumin shrugged. “I don’t want to lose her either,” he replied.
“Are we almost there?” I looked toward the front of the ship.
“Just wait a few more moments, Miss Conwell,” the captain said, eyes on the lookout. “We should come into sight of it in a few minutes.”
I gazed up at the lookout, waiting for the shout.
“Unless the storm drove us too far off course,” the captain added as the lookout peered silently at the horizon.
“Land ahoy!” the shout echoed down, and a grin split the captain’s features. “Dead ahead!”
“There you have it,” he turned to me. “In another minute we’ll be able to see it from here.”
I craned my neck, shivering with excitement at the thought of seeing Eirerandil for the first time.
“There!” Eumin said, “I can see it!”
“Where?” I stood on tiptoe, trying to see.
Slowly a dark line appeared.
Leonora sighed happily, draping her arm over Eumin’s shoulder. “Home, eh?”
He nodded. “Susana,” he breathed, a small smile playing on his lips. “I hope they’re alright.”
“’Course they will be,” Leonora replied, eyes fixed contentedly on the green mass creeping closer.
“Ana and James’ll have grown up since we left.”
“I’ll have a full linguist for a nephew by now,” Leonora remarked with a grin.
I looked at the green land, imagining my first step on foreign soil. I took a deep breath as if I could already smell the unique fragrance of land. A seagull cried overhead, diving into the water after a fish.
Everything was perfect.
“Sail ahoy! Astern and gaining fast!”
I spun around to look up at the lookout. He was pointing at the horizon behind.
The captain clenched his fists around the tiller. “Haul in!”
Leonora closed her eyes. “Egh,” she muttered. “Just when we were almost there.”
1. “She’s not the Rift!” the lookout bellowed down.
2. “We’re not going to reach land in time,” the captain shook his head.
3. “Why, how pleasant. What a lovely group. Terribly sorry to interrupt,” a casual voice spoke from behind.
Okie-day (yes that was a Jar-Jar quote) thanks everyone for reading. Can't wait to hear your thoughts and votes!