Forbidden Journey

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nanu, who currently works in the castle on the island of Firestorm has a very interesting beginning. Having now lived in Lunatia for most of her life, this short story explores how she, a non-elemential human, came to arrive on the magical shores of Edenfore all those years ago.

Submitted: July 17, 2017

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Submitted: July 17, 2017

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Forbidden Journey

 

“You must go,” Ashin pleaded to his wife. Reaching his hands up to cup her face, he paused a short moment before kissing her passionately on her waiting lips. Looking into her brown eyes, he drank in Ishna’s features for what may be one last time. Her worn crimson head scarf now hung limply down the side of her cheek, and the tatters of her once beautifully embroidered ceremonial dress made tears form in Ashin’s eyes. What had they been reduced to now? The rebellion had failed. Not only had his efforts meant that the slavers now had control of Bromna, but he was being forced to flee with his wife and two young children. His son Chino, wise beyond his years but still only a boy of seven, longed for greatness and adventure. Their beautiful baby daughter Nanu, at two years old, still had her whole life ahead of her.

As Ashin loaded his wife and daughter into one small fishing boat, Chino readied the second. They were just too small to take more than two people.

“Husband?” Ishna begged. “Please do not make me do this. I know nothing about sailing a boat. I am afraid,” she cried, leaning into her husband’s chest one last time.

“Do not fret, wife. I will be right there beside you in the second boat. We will search for a new home together. I have tied the boats together so we cannot lose each other from the wind. I know you have worries, but for now we must go,” Ashin coaxed as he led her to the boat where their young daughter waited, snuggly wrapped in a blanket. Dark purple clouds threatened to open up above them, and the course sand of the beach where they stood was already starting to be reclaimed by the rough seas beyond.

The time to leave was now.

Ashin could hear the echoing of footsteps of soldiers already on the gravel path that lead to the shore.It would be catastrophic for a senator of Bromna to be found as a deserter of his people – or what was left of his people. Many citizens had been killed when the slavers took over the capital. The ruthless natures of the invaders led to all those who opposed being strung to the dock and put to death..

The journey would be perilous, but the hope of freedom in another land far away from the occupying slavers was their only option. Ashin felt like a failure to his people, but he would not fail his family. With his last breath, the senator would make sure his loved ones would not become just another number in the slave camps.

Pushing the two boats out from the shore, Ashin and his wife took up the small oars. Getting past the first break of waves and then out on to the open ocean, they pulled on the rope that held their vessels together. Bringing themselves closer to each other, Nanu stood up from the nook she was nestled in and reached her tiny arms towards her brother, the stores of food and water at her feet stopping her from stepping out.

“Chino,” she called across the small gap between the boats. “Come…cuddle for Nanu.”

Ishna looked towards her son and wished for nothing more than to see her children together again.

“I can’t, bubby,” Chino said. “Just wait until we get to the other side of the water. I will give you lots of cuddles then.”

Devastated, the girl sat back down facing away from her brother.Ishna made her way over the stores to comfort her.

“Oh, Nanu, my sweet daughter. Will a cuddle from mother be enough to hold you over until we reach the land?” the mother asked as she scooped Nanu up into one arm while continuing to row with the other.

“Mummy, why?” she wailed.

“Why what, my dear?” she asked pushing her daughter’s black braids back under her worn scarf that generously covered her head.

“Why everything? I want home,” burying her head into her mother’s warm shoulder, she continued to cry. After she had sobbed herself to sleep, Ishna wrapped her daughter closely to her chest so that her arms were free to continue rowing.

As the night wore on, the silence out on the ocean was deafening. Chino prepared food and Ashin let the rope that held their boats together out ever so slightly so as to have room for the oars. She looked across at her husband and sighed. A feeling of dread worked its way into the pit of her stomach, that no matter how far they had already come in escaping the soldiers there was still much further to go before they could feel safe again.

Many days and nights passed for the family drifting across the ocean’s expanse, their dark brown skin showing the effects of prolonged sun exposure – Ashin’s dry, cracked lips desperately hoping for the soft touch of water. The skin on Chino’s shoulders was starting to peel and he sat quietly rowing them further along. They had run dangerously low on water rations, not knowing the journey to a new land would take this long. The sky was growing dark, and the children were more than anxious to once again feel their feet on the ground. Nanu had spent a great deal of the day sobbing, craving the closeness of her brother.

It was almost as if the sky above them felt their courage begin to fade. Their desperation was echoing back at them with each crack of thunder. Black clouds from the sky formed large spirals over their heads, with many of them starting to wind closer to connecting with the surface of the water.

“There’s too many of them,” Ishna screamed. “We won’t be able to find a way through.”

“Just keep rowing,” Ashin yelled, frantically trying to get the oars from Chino.

The choppy water now pulled the tiny boats in every direction, straining the small rope that held them together, the ferocity growing with each new gust of wind.

Waves formed out of nothing as the funnels touched down – one by one they began to gain momentum. Ishna scrambled to grab Nanu from her nook and looking across the widening gap between the boats revealed her husband tying a rope around his son’s waist, the other end attached to his own. Ishna wrapped Nanu tightly at her back, being careful to keep the child’s head level with her own in case the storm threw them into the water.

Thunderous booms ricocheted across the open space,  Nanu’s cries now muffled by the strong wind. Ishna could see her husband yelling to her son but could no longer make out what they were saying. The wind had reached a climax of cyclonic proportions and it was taking no prisoners.

The womanused all her strength to stay the course of her boat with that of her husbands – the rope tethering them together already starting to fray from the tension. A mighty crack jolted the mother and she looked from her oars to the other boat. The lightning had claimed a direct hit at the bow of her husband’s vessel breaking it in to several pieces. Ears ringing and vision blurred, she blinked away the dots. Floundering along the side of her own boat were the remnants of what once was their lifeline between each other – a panel of wood still attached to its other end. Ishna screamed for her husband and son. The storm was so ferocious and the water so rough that only every five seconds could she catch a glimpse of their struggles. They clung desperately toa floating piece of debris, gasping for air each time a huge wave engulfed them before pushing them back to the surface.

“Mamma,” Nanu screamed. “I’m slipping, Mamma.”

Grabbing hold of her daughter’s legs, she hoisted the child closer and tied the wrap tighter. And in the mere moments that it took to readjust her precious cargo, her husband and son had disappeared from sight. Letting out a desperate wail, Ishna collapsed on to the splintering floor.

“Mamma, water in the boat,” Nanu cried, tapping her mother on the shoulder wildly.

Ishna opened her tear-filled eyes to see her battle had not been won yet. Murky sea water poured through a crack in the boat’s side. The storm raged on and there was no reprieve in sight, so she grabbed the only water bucket they had left and started scooping as much of the liquid as she could, throwing it over the side. There was no way that she would be able to rid the boat of water as fast as it was taking it on, but this was her only hope to get her child to safety.

Torn between the endless battle of eradicating the water from the boat and rowing further in the hopes of reaching dry land before it sank, Ishna didn’t see the large piece of debris from her husband’s boat flying towards her. A funnel had picked it up and it now hurtled straight for the mother and child – certain to make contact.


© Copyright 2017 Kathryn Lee. All rights reserved.

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