Between a Sailor and the Sea

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm


A short story starring a poor sailor hoping to catch some fish at sea. Set in the fictional world of Thorczhia, Second Age, Year 2XX. (This is a story I wrote like a year back and forgot to
upload.)

Submitted: September 11, 2018

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Submitted: September 11, 2018

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Second Age, Year 2XX; somewhere at sea. 
 
It was quiet. The sunlight barely broke through the thick clouds covering the skies. The lone sailor wished he had brought some warmer clothes, or at least a blanket. With only his thin coat it was freezing. On a windy day such as this the fish was usually scarce, but lately thick clouds were a good omen for poor folks like him. Maybe this was the gods’ way of showing mercy after that horrible summer, he thought. There had not been rain for weeks. The fisherman checked his nets one more time, still nothing. Maybe it wasn't such a good omen after all. He sighed and sat down. The wood creaked as he rubbed his hands together. Autumn had just arrived and it was already this cold. Perhaps that summer was just the beginning. He was not going to waste much more time on this fruitless quest for fish. If he didn't catch anything within the hour, he would head home.


As time went by, the sailor thought of his bed. With the fireplace nearby it was so warm and cozy. Hopefully he had enough lumber to let it burn all night. At that moment it was decided. When he got home, he would go straight to the fireplace and put some wood on there, followed by a quick snack of whatever was left in the storage and then straight to bed. If he was lucky, the priest would share some more rations with the townsfolk the next day.


"Yep. Good plan." he said with shaking teeth.


Then all of a sudden, his face shone up. The fishing net appeared to be moving. Did he finally catch something? He flew up and rushed over to look at the water. There he saw it. Not a fish. Not any garbage that accidentally got stuck. But a woman. A young woman with large wings sprouting from her back. An angel, he thought. The wings were almost twice the size of her, with beautiful azure feathers covering them. The fisherman stood dazed for a moment. But as he realized how cold the water probably was, he quickly reeled her in. She was unconscious, but alive. Her clothes consisted of only a thin blue nightgown. If he left her like this she would definitely get sick, or worse. Therefore, the sailor took of her gown and put on his coat on her as a blanket. Because of her large wings, there was no way she could actually wear it after all. He hanged her clothes to dry and took a step back. He turned to look at the maiden lying on the deck. There were many questions flying about in his mind. What was he going to do now? Who was she? How did she get here? Was she truly an angel? As he pondered he began walking in circles. After a moment he took notice of her left wing. The fisherman bent down and took a closer look. It was crooked in an unnatural way; it was broken. The situation just seemed to get worse and worse.


"What should I do? I'm no doctor. And I don't know any magic either." he said, scratching his head all the while.


Suddenly, as if the gods heard his worries, he heard an echoing voice. 


"Give her back." it said.


He spun around. Once, twice, three times. Yet no one was there.


"Who's there?!" he shouted.


After a second of silence the voice responded.


"I am Zhia, the goddess of the sea. Do as I command or you will come to regret it." the voice said.


It was a female voice. One filled with a strong conviction and a hint of anger hidden underneath. The fisherman looked up. The thick clouds still covered most of the sky. Thin beams of light trickled down here and there, but none touched the sailor or his boat.


"Give her back to me!" the voice echoed again.


The sailor took a look at the unconscious woman lying on the deck. This must have been the most confusing day he had ever experienced. Was Zhia, the goddess of the sea, truly speaking to him right there at that moment? He did not know if he could believe it. But if he did not, then he would come to regret it. At least, that is what he was told.


"Why? If I put this lady in the water again, she will die!" he yelled towards the sky.


"You must give her back, mortal." the voice responded.


The fisherman did not know what to say. He dared not to question the authority of a god. However, could he really condemn himself to murder? It was too much. At this point, the sailor had completely forgotten about the cold. About the trouble regarding food or good and bad omens. He just shook his head violently and tried to think. But his mind was blank. And then, he saw it. The lady with the wings had her eyes open. She slowly started to move and look around with a confused look on her face.


"Mortal! If you will not comply, you will sleep among the fish you so eagerly wish to eat." the voice said, no longer hiding the anger but letting it explode like an erupting volcano.


The angel seemed to hear the voice as well. She peered at the sky with frightened eyes. The fisherman met her eyes and tried to get her attention. He put his hands up in a calm manner and tried to speak to her. He told her to be calm. He told her to not move around too much because of her broken wing. And he told her to not listen to the angry voice coming from above. The man did not know if the woman understood his words, but thankfully she seemed to understand nonetheless. She made a circling motion with her hands and carefully sat up to lean against the boat's railing.


"This is your final warning, mortal! Give her back to me or I will force my mightiest waves upon you and your precious boat!" the voice echoed, boiling with more fury than before.


There was no more time. He had to make a decision. Now or never.


No. Of course he could not do something like that. Even if it meant his live was forfeit, he could not kill an innocent person. Especially one he had just saved. It was just too cruel.


The sailor gazed at the clouds. Maybe it was his imagination, but they seemed darker than before. He untied the sails which immediately got caught in the wind. He had not noticed it yet, but the wind was growing stronger. The waves larger. And the small amount of sunshine was soon but gone. The fisherman ran back and forth trying to get the boat moving. He was almost in a state of panic. If the voice had truly been Zhia, then there was not much hope. But any hope was better than none, he thought. If not for himself, he had to give it his all to save the maiden with his coat. At the same time, the lady seemed to be inspecting her broken wing. She had to have a strong will to be up and about in her state. Or maybe it was some sort of magic, the man thought to himself. Either way, who knows how long she must have been in that freezing water.


By the time the sailor got the boat moving it may already had been too late. Rain had begun to fall. Huge waves came crashing against the boat-side. The boat was rocking back and forth in a violent manner, rendering navigation useless. The man could barely stand straight. The lady seemed to be stable thanks to the size of her wings. Yet she did not seem to have any chance to get up on her legs. She only stared fearfully on the black clouds above, murmuring with thunder. To call this event a storm would be an understatement. The fisherman had never been on such violent waters in his lifetime. As he was flung from side to side he wondered if he had made the wrong choice. But he quickly got rid of that thought. No. He was not wrong. Trying to save the life of an innocent was a noble thing to do. Then suddenly he remembered his home. His plans for tonight. At this point they seemed so trivial. Yet it gave him strength. He caught the mast with his left hand pulled himself closer. After that he carefully used the mast as support to get back on his feet. With his back leaning against it, he grabbed some rope and tried to catch the rudder. After a handful attempts the rope caught on. Now he could control the boat from here. He felt a glimmer of hope.


But not for long.


Thunder struck. The boat flipped over by an enormous wave. The man heard the woman's voice scream behind him before something hard hit the back of his head. Then he fell into the sea.


His nose and mouth was invaded by the salt water. Soon his lungs were completely full of it. It was as if everything stopped. It was so quiet. So dark. He could not tell up from down. His arms and legs would not move. It felt as if something was getting pouring out of his head from behind. He felt cold. 


"This is it" he tried to say, but could not muster a word. Only in thought.


And then, he stopped thinking.


The sun blinded the man as he tried to open his eyes. Its warmth enclosed his entire body. He put his hands against his face and then slowly opened them again. When his eyes had finally adjusted to the light he took a look around. He found himself in a small room. It was a stone building with carefully crafted stonework. It reminded him of the stonework at the church of his hometown. The room only contained a bed and huge glass window to the side of it, letting the sun shine in. There was also a door on the opposite side of the room. Albeit confused, the fisherman got up. He was barefoot but was wearing some strange looking clothes. They were of white fabric with a golden seam. After getting dressing, he made a quick search for something else in the room. When he had made sure there was nothing else in there he left using the wooden door and suddenly found himself in a chapel. Bright light shone in from the great windows at the side. It made the golden arches and pillars shimmer brilliantly. As he followed the red carpet to the altar he saw his friend, the priest, praying at the foremost row. The priest did not take notice until he approached with a quiet hello.


"Ah, you are awake. Joy! It seems the gods heard my pleas." the priest said with a smile. 


The man responded with a nod. The priest got up and continued to smile. But the smile was erased once the man asked how he got to the church.


"Do not fear. You were in grave distress. They brought you here to rest." the priest said with a calm tone.


"Who are they?" the sailor asked.


"You mustn't put such stress on your mind now. Everything will be alright."


The priest walked up to the altar. The man followed. There was a great golden statue of a woman holding a vase. From the ceiling came crystal clear water, gently falling into the vase. Around her was hundreds of candlesticks made out of silver. And beneath her feet were a small pond, with live goldfish. After a moment of silence the priest spoke once again.


"Don't you feel sorry for these fish? Why must they be restricted by the rules we have given them? Why did they not have a say in the matter? There is nothing they can do. They will eat when they are fed. And they will swim till they're dead." the priest took out a small pouch and dropped something into the pond. The fish suddenly got excited and swarmed around whatever the priest dropped. The priest continued; 


"They do not realize they are restricted. To them, this is what life is. They do not wish to break these rules. Only live by them." The priest went silent, then turned and gently put the pouch in the man's hands. The priest spoke once more; 


"You may leave." 


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