Conquest of the Roaring Sea: The Wave-Watchers

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


This will be the final free chapter of the Roaring Sea series. From now on and until its done you can read it and download it on my patreon https://www.patreon.com/Scripts. Once its all done
however, i will release all of it as a single book. Most likely on Amazon.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - The Wave-Watchers

Submitted: May 25, 2019

Reads: 88

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Submitted: May 25, 2019

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III-The Wave-Watchers

 

The translucent and calm water splashed against the hope filled royal ships. In that clear sunny day, the peasants, the mariners and the queen gathered on the deck as the clerics did their daily mass.

An old priest stood in the far end of the ship; all could see him as he praised the Godess of Haven-Harbor.

The peasants sat on the deck and the mariners and sailors sat on the ropes of the ship, paying half attention to the clerics and the other half to the Roaring Sea. Miria stood next to Gilbert as he held the helm and stood his course.

Brothers, sisters....your Highness. Let us give thanks to our Goddess that has been so kind to us, to let us escape the doom of the Blacksmith, and cross the uncrossable waters of the Ring of Storms.

Agua! Lady of the waters, mother of all sea life, kind protector of our ancient Varzense forefathers, we thank thee for our safe passage, bring us to a new haven, and deliver us from the wrath of all that might oppose you.”

From the depths may we rise. Fisher of men's souls, Agua, bring us to new shores.”-All of the souls on the ship said in unison.

The queen gave a sly look to the captain and playfully taunted him.-”It's a shame that Agua is taking all your praise, uh Gilbert?”

The captain glanced back and with a smile he retorted.-”Ah! I may be a good Captain your Highness, but I am still a man. I may be able to sail the worst of storms, but if the Goddess wanted me dead, I would be dead...

After all, I'm no wizard, I cannot turn a titanwave into a puddle.”

Shame we didn't bring a wizard then.”-The queen retorted with a smirk.

I thought ya wanted the peasants to feel safe, my Queen.

Although the Gods may have left, there's no denying that our praise to 'em at least stops the peasants from rocking our ships too much.”-Gilbert said with a sadder tone.

Miria answered back, in an equal spirit.-”Sadly, that is true Captain. I just wish we didn't need to rely on it as much as we do to keep the peasants loyal, I feel as if we are lying to them.”

We do what we need to, my lady.”

 

Suddenly, the mass was interrupted as a young sailor in the crows nest, shouted from the top of his lungs. -”Land ahead!”

Everyone turned their heads and saw in the distance a fair sized, highly forested isle. The peasants suddenly erupted into celebration and cheer as they saw the island.

Some of them even started crying and thanking the Goddess for the protection, the priests tried to calm them down, but their cheer was so great that it seemed that the boat would sink with happiness.

Miria let the peasants celebrate, as she saw that any attempt to calm them would be fruitless. Instead she turned to Gilbert and said. -”Please get us to that island as fast as possible Captain, before the ship sinks.”

I was already on it, your Highness.”-Gilbert expertly turned the helm and issued the orders to his men to sail towards the newly discovered land.

 

The ocean gently rolled over the white pristine sand, the soothing silence was broken by the heavy thump of the anchors on the water and as the people of Haven-Harbor stormed the beaches and set up temporary camps, they took notice of the undisturbed nature of the isle.

The white pristine sand gave way to a flat, lush grassland, filled with various types of bushes, flowers and moss. Trees as tall as the masts of the human ships sprung up from the fertile ground, the leaves were sharp but harmless and their bark had a curious brown-orange tint with a remarkable durance.

The perfect place to resupply. Should we send a scouting group, brother?”-The first-mate Garret, asked Gilbert, as he returned from analyzing the surrounding timber.

As long we have our Queen's permission.”-Gilbert said as he looked to the Queen, impatiently.

Miria was dazzled with the island's beauty, it had been a very long time since she saw such a well preserved place and as Garret coughed, she snapped back and said.-”Uh, yes. Of course, you have my permission to explore.”

Thank you, your grace. I will set up the expedition, brother.”-Garret said before he saluted his brother and superior and descended down into the camp to gather men to the expedition.

 

Garret quickly assembled a small company of men to venture deep into the island and gather information on it. The company was comprised of a handful of Mariners, armored with breastplate and armed with the standard equipment for the Haven-Harbor army, the black carrack sword and an iron dagger.

The party ventured deep into the forest, leaving behind their human comrades. Garret adjusted his metal helmet that lay over his black hair, he tried to keep his composure and inspire his men like his brother had done many times, but he doubted himself and like many other times, he stumbled through the dense grove as he struggled to command.

The mariners did not care however, their discipline did not allow them to. They knew their job and happily ventured with the somewhat inexperienced Garret.

 

The wind softly brushed against the leaves and trees and made them dance to the natural harmony of nature. The party did not hear the sounds of beasts, instead only that of the flora that echoed like a soothing harp with it's branches and leaves.

However, as the party ventured further and further, they found the natural harmony blending and giving way to a man made one. The harp like wind sound, became a wind like harp sound.

The company followed the melodious music and as they carefully walked past the trees and bushes, they peeked to the source of the melody from between two tall trees.

 

On a sun lit clearing, two strange humanoid figures sat atop two stumps with their backs to each other, as if resting with one another. One had a strange looking flute like instrument, the other an oddly shaped harp.

The figures were the same size as a human, but their skin was green and from their heads instead of hair, sprouted leaves. Their body was covered with an odd form of clothing, a strange mesh of tree bark and animal leather covered their chests, arms, legs and feet.

One last feature the mariners took notice of, was their piercing emerald colored eyes as they stared into the dancing leaves in the trees and the distinct darker shade of green on the more “masculine” looking tree-person and a lighter shade of green on the “feminine” figure.

 

Both of them had a relaxed smile and as the mariners watched their concert in awe, they felt enchanted by it and tried to approach the creatures.

It took the “tree humans” a few moments to realize the party that slowly walked towards them, but when they did, they quickly jumped up and each grabbed from their backs a javelin and tried to keep the humans at bay.

The humans drew their swords, but Garret held his ground and ordered them. -“Stop! Don't attack 'em”.

The two figures twisted and contrived with pain as they heard the human language. They quickly disappeared to the trees to escape the humans and the pain they caused them.

 

Look around see if you find 'em!”-Garret ordered to the company, as his enchantment broke and gave way to wariness.

The mariners looked and searched, but it was useless. Instead of the melodious harp sounds, they only heard nature and the ancient song of the summer wind passing through the trees.

The party returned to the camp, their scouting for supplies was successful, the island was plenty and they could easily get back on course, but this was dwarfed by their discovery of this new “Human” race.

The peasants had already set up their camps when the party returned, Miria was talking with Jameston's scribe, Stein, who had been rescued by her other ships.

As Garret approached the queen, his brother and the scribe, he noticed that Stein has talking about his survival and Jameston's disregard for his settlers life.

 

The queen had a furious look on her as she heard this, but before her rage burned her, Garret intervened and announced to her. -”Your majesty! I'm sorry to interrupt, but I have some important news about our exploring mission.”

The queen looked at the first-mate, still with a furious look and asked.-”What?! Did you find an old wrecked ship of ours?”

Garret stumbled for a bit and then answered.-”N-No your highness. Something better! We found some natives, it was two of 'em, a couple I think. They looked like an odd mixture of tree and man, we tried to approach them but as soon as they heard us they ran into the trees and disappeared.

They were armed with some javelins though, they might be hostile.”

Miria's furious look vanished and gave way to a curious expression, one that was minuscule compared to that of the Stein's.

Natives you say?”-The queen stopped for a few seconds and thought to herself, she then continued.-”Well, if they are hostile we should make some preparations, however we are far away from home and if we were to be attacked now that would almost certainly mean our demise.”

The scribe then almost jumped in the air, his excitement drove him to disregard the common court manners and he spoke out before the queen.-”Majesty! This is an amazing opportunity for us! A new race of humans, we must try and talk with them, learn about their ways, get them to help us, if they are natives they must know the land better than us, they can help us!”

Gilbert then slapped the back of the scribe's head for speaking out of order and he said with a careful tone.-”Aye Stein, they know the land better than us. Meaning they could be very dangerous, who knows if there aren't more of 'em, and if they aren't coming towards our way as we speak.

My Queen, like you said our people have set up camp already, if a giant army of these “Tree Folk” appear and attack us, we will have no way to fall back or save everyone, we would be slaughtered.”

Miria remained silent for a couple of seconds as she weighed her options, she broke her silence as she asked Garret. -”What do you think First-Mate Garret, did they seem dangerous?”

Garret was unsure of what to say, but as he fixed his helmet he answered. -”They seemed to be minding their own business, but our encounter was so brief that I don't think I can say whether they are hostile or not. They did not attack us though.”

Please your highness! I'm a scribe, I can find a way to communicate with them!”- The scribe pleaded to the queen, before Gilbert retorted.

These are unpredictably dangerous natives, who knows what they could do. I say we go out looking for them and kill them before they spread word to their mates.”

 

Miria weighed all her options and finally answered back. -”Let's agree on a compromise. We will go see if we can find these “Tree Folk” and have Stein find a way to talk with them, however if they start to attack us, we will capture them and then try to make them see we are no threat. If they still don't see things our way, then...you have permission to kill them Captain.”- Miria said with a heavy look on her face, as she hoped they wouldn't need to go so far.

Gilbert reluctantly agreed, and Stein became overjoyed with the Queen's decision.

Gather a decent party, we should go look for them as soon as possible.”-Miria said to the Captain.

Aye, your majesty.”

And you Stein, grab your notes and anything you may deem useful, we are going to need a lot of luck to be able to do this.”

Please, your Highness. Luck, has nothing to do with this.”-Stein said as he serrated his teeth, at the thought of Jameston.

 

It took only a few minutes for the party to prepare, it was a small retinue, even smaller than the one that Garret had lead.

Three mariners armed with the standard expedition gear, the first-captain and first-mate, Gilbert and Garret, the scribe Stein, and the queen herself.

The retinues looked with astonishment as they saw the queen approach with the scribe by her side, Gilbert stood up and defied his superior as he asked.-”Your highness! What are you doing here, you don't intend going in this expedition do you?”

Miria looked at Gilbert with scorn and answered him.- “We are meeting what could be the emissaries for a new Kingdom. Of course I'm coming with you, who better to speak for the crown than me? The crown itself.”

Aye, but my Queen!”

Miria quickly interrupted the captain and answered- “But nothing. I have seen my share of danger before Captain, we'll be fine.

After all, I have you experienced and strong men to protect me and Stein to translate for me. Or don't you trust your own abilities?”-The beautiful queen said, as she tried to twist the thoughts of the retinue.

Gilbert's expression changed to one of defiance and frustration at Miria's attempt to control him, but before he could lash out and do something rash, his brother hit him on the shoulder and he quietly agreed.-”Aye, your majesty. I was just afraid something bad might happen to you, we can not afford to lose you...not now.”

Miria tried to humble herself, she felt bad for attempting to twist their opinions.

Instead she put up her honest tone and expression and sought to uplift the parties spirits. -”I understand Gilbert, but I have full confidence in your skills. I know you'll do well.”

The morale of the retinues was restored as they heard the honest words of the queen, the first-captain thanked his superior.-”Aye, thank you your grace. I'll try to do my best.”

You always do Gilbert.”-Miria said with a smile, as Gilbert and everyone else on the party smiled back.-”Gentlemen, if you are all ready then. Let's find these tree folk.”

The party finally packed everything and entered the deep, dark green forest.

 

The first-mate Garret lead the party through the dense bushes and non-existent pathways, all while the curious Scribe gasped with glee as he scribbled on his notepad all that he could of the new flora and the minuscule fauna of this new land.

This is beautiful, I have never seen flowers like these! Look at the round almost spherical like outwards shell the petals make, its incredible, oh and these bugs! So shiny and colorful.”

Shhh, quiet Stein! We don't wanna scare them again.”-Garret declared as he turned back towards Stein. -”Last time we talked, seemed like our language hurt them...for some reason.

If ya need to, talk really quietly.”

That's...odd.”-The scribe said as he wrote the information on his notebook.-”Your highness, I don't assume you know hand language do you?”

Only a little bit, I was taught back when I was a princess at my father's court.”-Miria responded as she pulled her royal blue cloak that kept getting stuck on the bushes.

Then if we need to communicate let's use sign language. You too Captain Gilbert, you should use some simple gestures to give orders if you don't know sign language.”-As Stein finished, Gilbert nodded with annoyance.

 

The party continued walking through the dense forest in silence, only the sound of their steps through the bushes and their clanking weapons was heard, as they approached the clearing where Garret had spotted the tree folk.

 

The clearing was empty save for the two musical instruments that the two natives had dropped in their hurry to escape the pain the humans caused them.

The strange harp and wind instrument lay next to the stumps, as some rustling leaves freed themselves from the trees and flew to the musical instruments.

The Humans slowly approached with the warm eastern summer wind and as they stood in the clearing, they looked all around to spot the tree couple, but found nothing.

Miria crouched down and grabbed the natives harp, the shape was like nothing she had seen before, it was an unusual angle for an instrument and it was decorated with various strange woodcut symbols.

As she stood up with the harp, suddenly, a javelin was thrown right in front of the human party.

Gilbert unsheathed his black carrack sword and gestured for his men to do the same.

The humans looked at where the javelin had been thrown from and saw high above on the branches, the forest couple.

Their leave hair meshed with the trees and their emerald eyes seemed to pierce their souls as they stared from the cluster of leaves, their body armor camouflaged with the tree bark and only their slow arm movements gave way to their position once they had been spoted.

On their backs, the humans saw now a sort of quiver filled with various javelins.

 

Neither party dared advance first, the couple remained atop the trees, their curvature was one of alert and readiness, they awaited to see what the humans would do and in turn, the humans did the same.

Miria signaled to Stein to start their attempt at communicating. Stein fumbled as he frantically gestured, trying to think of what to do and while the scribe thought in confusion; Miria stood forth and raised the tree folk's harp high into the air, and with a smile on her she looked warmly towards the couple.

Miria's disregard for her safety was met with anger from Gilbert, as he tried to hold himself back, and curiosity and confusion from the tree couple.

The couple looked at each other as they raised their brow in bewilderment.

Then the feminine looking tree human, stood up and slowly descended the tree. Her counterpart tried to grab on to her arm and stop her, but she slapped his hand away and climbed down.

When she arrived down, the tree woman walked slowly to Miria. Her green hands still holding tightly her javelin, she approached with a slow, careful step and an uncertain expression.

Annoyed at her counterparts recklessness, the tree man descended quickly and stood behind the tree woman, with an annoyed and wary grin and a javelin ready to be thrown at the slightest sight of danger.

Miria stepped forward too, still with a smile to show her friendliness. Then in a show of peace, the woman slowly put her javelin back in her quiver.

The two approached one another and as the clearing light shone above and the wind passed through both of them, Miria passed back the harp to her tree owner.

 

As she held the harp, the woman smiled back to the queen and began to play on her harp a beautiful song.

The song was peaceful, calm and brought to the humans a sense of peace they had not felt in a very long time. Miria's worry about her subjects, about Rorrick and about the kingdom seemed to almost disappear as she listened.

Then the woman finished and looked back at the humans, almost as if waiting a response.

Stein then stepped forward and gestured to his Queen about his idea, to which she approved.

The scribe grabbed two stones from the ground and started to bang them against Gilbert's breastplate, it made a metallic rhythm that was mixed almost by accident with Gilbert's angry grumbles, it was a song of anger and peace.

Both of the tree humans then started to giggle to themselves, the tree male approached and he too put his javelins in his quiver, he went to the side of his counterpart and put his arm around her shoulder as they leaned on each other and enjoyed the strange new song, from the sudden strangers.

As Stein played his song with the angry captain's breastplate, the tree woman closed her eyes and whilst she held her hands close to her heart, she rocked slightly to the sides with her peer and started to sing in her native tongue a song of peace and harmony.

The entire human party found her language to be even more enchanting than their skill with the wooden instruments, but Stein hypothesized and after the woman stopped; Stein turned to the queen and spoke to her with hand gestures, as the tree folk looked curiously.

 

The scribe told Miria, that maybe they had ran away because these tree folk didn't “speak” in the same way the humans did, perhaps they communicated entirely by song and rhythm.

Miria nodded to Stein and formally sung their introduction in the human language, while the couple did not run, they seemed perplexed at what the words meant.

The female native stepped forward and as she held her right hand on her chest she sung harmoniously.-”Qei Per Vania. Vania.

Her male counterpart then reluctantly also stepped forward and as he frowned at his mate's eagerness.

The woman placed both her hands on her mate's head and whilst a great smiled sprouted from her, she closely set her head next to his, and said. -”Qeu Agar. Agar.”

The woman tried to forcefully make his counterpart smile, but as she did it she got her hands gently slapped away, as he kept frowning.

She stuck her tongue out at him and afterwards, she turned back to Miria; and as she gestured to both her and her companion she continued to sing. “Qoi Qep Cro Alq Fen”

Both Miria and Stein had understood at least, that they had introduced themselves, the queen then mimicked Vania and as she put her right hand in her chest, she proclaimed her name in a singing tone, as well as Stein's, as she pointed at him.

Miria Rosép ort.”-Both Vania and Agar tried to say with a bit of difficulty.

Agar spoke alone for the first time as he inquired them, with his deeper singing voice. -”Ga Qep Qai Cro?”

Stein tried his best to make sense of the language, but as he scratched his head in impatience to find a way to translate, Vania stepped forward.

After she had once more spoken in her native tongue to her equal, she crouched down, and drew on the dirt a strange symbol.

It resembled a tree and it was surrounded by a simple decorated border, similar to the banners for the Kingdoms and Nations of Old Vaelia.

As she pointed at her and then back at the seal, she sang. -”Qoi cro Alq Fen. Alq Fen.”

The queen thought she understood it, Vania was signaling their land and to show the same, Miria crouched down and drew opposite to it, a simple version of her own nations banner, an anchor with a sun on its right and an intact moon on its left.

Miria sang her nations name and once again with difficulty, the couple tried to repeat it. -”Havén Harbo r.”

Both races smiled with one another at their initial understanding and while not wanting to keep it at this first contact, Miria drew a crude image of a ship on the earth and gestured for the tree folk to follow them.

The couple exchanged concerned looks with one another, but agreed to go as Stein experimented communicating with them with whistles.

Each party thinking the other was harmless, made their way to the grove back to the camp, the Humans still on alert and weary, and the tree couple still curious and worried.

Miria signaled to a party member to head on alone and warn everyone on the camp to keep silence, as the queen did not want to scare away their new friends and so the party continued at a slower pace, the captain and retinue with a heavy and annoyed march, the scribe with a great smile, the couple with curious eyes and the queen with a light and satisfied step.

Still waters, hot air and no wind...please Sire, do something.”-The first mate begged on his knees to Jameston.

I can not go against the will of Fortuna, she must have a reason for us being here, we need only to wait.”

Sire our ships haven't moved for the past hours and we are still running out of food, at least let us get the oars so we can at least row.”-The sailor said as he gestured to the crew who tried in vain to fish, and the people on the deck, dying of hunger and boredom.

Jameston looked at them and then back at the first-mate, and with a saddened look and a resolute posture he declared.-” I cannot, this a test from Fortuna. We must only stay true to her, my servant.”

The planks of wood underneath the first-mate shook as he screamed and bashed against them, his tears rolled down unto the cargo hold and he too started to pray to himself, not for Fortuna to save them, but for the Goddess to smite the captain and count.

Jameston crouched down and as he placed his hand on the first-mate's head he tried to comfort him. “Fortuna will grant you your desires my servant, just stay true to her.”

The first-mate looked down with scorn and the more time he spent with the count, the more he realized why the former scribe held their ruler with such contempt.

 

Another hour passed, everyone on deck patiently awaited for a miracle.

Mothers, fathers, sailors, children, all of humble origins; Jameston had not allowed anyone of higher ranking to embark in his ships. All of them sat on the hold or on the deck, trying their best to avoid the sun and not waste their energy.

The first-mate was sharpening his sword and as he did it, he sent traitorous looks towards his superior behind him. The captain however, walked towards the first-mate and asked him. -”Can I see our remaining food supplies?”

The first-mate's eyes widened in surprise as he heard the count, he was perplexed at Jameston's sudden care of his serfs.

Huh, of course my liege. This way.”- The first-mate sheated back his sword and led Jameston underneath towards the cargo hold, towards a lonely barrel.

The people inside were both amazed and scared with the sight of the count; as he passed through them they crawled back and dared not to touch him, afraid that a surge of bad luck would curse them.

Jameston looked at them and wondered why they looked so miserable, he tried to think of a way he could inspire them and raise their spirits, his and their first concern now was food, he would try to fix that first.

The first-mate opened the lid and inside, preserved in oil and salt were the last provisions of the ships, two buckets worth of Foam Fish. One of the smallest species of fish in Vaelia, eaten primarily by the common folk in Haven-Harbor, they were renowned for their ease of catch on the coastal, foaming waves by boatless peasants.

This is all we have sire, if we give everyone the smallest amount possible we might survive for just another day, we will be incredibly hungry, but at least we wont die yet.”-The first-mate said with a concerned look and posture as he stared at their tiny supply of food.

Bring the barrel to the deck.”-Jameston ordered as he stared to the sailor, who complied and answered.

Yes sire.”

The common folk all looked in fear to the count and wondered what he would do with their last food supply, none of them had even dared getting near to it for fear of godly retribution.

The count tried to ease them and with a forced smile he said. -”Have no fear my subjects, Fortuna will provide for us.”

However this had the opposite effect, the settlers became terrified at the notion of what would happen now; but the count's blind zeal made him misunderstand his subjects reaction and he returned to the deck, satisfied with the knowledge he had lifted his settlers spirits.

On the deck everyone stared as the count returned.

The overwhelming sun shone brightly in the air and burned all it touched, the winds of hope from the west were gone and the water was motionless and directionless.

Jameston stepped towards the barrel of food, the ship's last faint hope and proclaimed to both ships and the heavens. “My faithful, I know you are suffering.

The uncertainty if we will survive or not is driving you mad, but I ask you, have faith in Fortuna, and we will arrive safely.”-The people all looked at Jameston with doubtful eyes, their misery was too great and their woes for lost family and friends still burnt into their minds.

Jameston noticed this and tried to calm them, he took his royal coin from around his neck, the coin that used to be his county's crown and was melted into the coin when Jameston took the county from his foster father.

He looked at it and after he had thought to himself, he flipped the coin, all watched in complete silence as the coin spun and hit the floor of the deck, those that could see the result of the coin looked in fright as the coin sealed their fate, a black arrow pointing down.

 

Jameston then looked at his subjects and with a heavy posture, he proclaimed. -”I shall prove to you that Fortuna hears our plea and that we have nothing to fear.”- The count walked towards the barrel and as he grabbed it, he thought to himself. “Please save us, my lady.”

The settlers and retinue were motionless with horror at what the captain was about to do, the first-mate whispered to another crew mate. -”Surely he wont...”

Should we stop him?”

I...don't know...”-The first-mate tried to move, but the shock and exhaustion did not allow him to, like all others on the ships.

The count walked towards the edge of the ship and to the horror of everyone, he dumped the last supply of food into the still waters as he screamed to the heavens. -”I put our lives into your hands Fortuna!”

The people all gasped and screamed in horror at the action of the count, as if snapping back and awakening to a horrible nightmare their last energy was unleashed, some desperate settlers ran towards the edge and dived into the still waters, hoping to save as much of their lost supplies as possible; others, like the first-mate charged against the count in a blind fit of rage.

They all tried to grab the count and as they did, the Count didn't fight back, he accepted his fate that he had put onto Fortuna and he heard as his crew screamed at him. “You idiot!”

You killed us all!”

How could you have done this?!

Die!”-The first-mate said as he prepared to stab the count, but right before the blade met the captain's flesh, a fish landed on the head of the count and jumped to the deck, while it struggled to breathe.

Everyone starred at the sea creature with a dazed look, a strange bumbling sound came from underneath the ship, and the noise of a million flapping wings in the water raised to the deck of the ship.

 

When the crew looked to the ocean, they could not believe their eyes, billions of flying fish had gathered where Jameston had dumped the foam fish bait.

The creatures formed a bright violet cloud underneath the ship and some flew with such ferocity and zeal that they jumped over the deck; soon inspiring the common folk inside it with a new hope and supply of food.

Those that had jumped overboard, were lifted back into the deck by the massive flying fish school and as the miracle continued, everyone looked in awe with their mouths wide open in astonishment. As the school of flying fish started to push and drive both ships, towards the south-west current, the direction Jameston had chosen.

Jameston silently thanked his goddess and as he stared at his crew who still held him by his collar, he bragged with a smirk. -”Do you believe me now? I told you, Fortuna is with us.”

When the crew realized they still held the count, they immediately let go, in fear of the Goddess.

The first mate said nothing, he backed away with a blank incredulous stare and posture, his grip on his sword weakened and he fell to his knees. The first-mate then bowed to the count and said in tears. -”Forgive me...forgive me...”

Everyone else on the ship, both the retinues and the settlers followed the first-mate's lead and bowed to Jameston in awe, fear and gratitude.

As some of them looked at the count they noticed a strange almost ghastly like figure of a woman embracing and hugging the count from behind, Jameston put his hand over the first-mate's head and said. -”Dont ask me for forgiveness, ask it to Fortuna.”

The captain walked through the crew towards the front of the ship, the ghastly figure followed him. Once more, Jameston praised his goddess, as they headed towards new fortunes. -”Thank you, my lady.”

One, two, row! One, two row!”-The bard ordered as he plucked the strings of his lyre, to the rhythm of the waves and the rowing of his loyal sailors.

Keep rowing lads, I bet we be by the beaches by sundown.”-A hopeful sailor proclaimed with hope to his crewmates.

Aye, unless we die of thirst, first.”-Henrik said with an annoyed look.

One,two, row! One, you, Row, One, should, row! One, be, Row! One, more, Row! One, Optimistic, row!”-Rorrick said as he tried not to break the rhythm.

What?”

You should be more optimistic, Henrik”-Rorrick said, before he realized he missed the rhythm and corrected himself at an extremly fast pace.- “One two row, one two row, one two row!”

The sailors tried to keep up with the rhythm and rowed at an extremely nervous and fast pace, as Rorrick tried to catch up with his lost tempo.

Has being optimistic ever worked for ya, Mr. Rorrick?”-Henrik asked with a doubtful look.

One, two, no!”

Then why ya tellin' me to be one?”-Henrik said with an annoyed look.

Because when you're hopeless, at least your dreams and wishes give you the strength to keep rowing!

I learned it the hard way. Row!”- Rorrick admitted to his sailors as they stopped for a bit, while he answered Henrik.

Henrik accepted Rorrick's answer and as he looked at the uncertain bard with new found hope and admiration he said. -”Aye Captain...Ya know, its funny. The Gods made us from these waters, and yet, if we drink it we die.

We can only live from the waters that we are not apart of. Ha.”

As Henrik noticed the cruel, ironic reality, a few of his mates laughed with him at their predicament; Finding it both brutal, and somewhat hilarious.

That's the spirit Henrik, you're right. We are dying of thirst, and surrounded by undrinkable water.”-Rorrick retorted as he too laughed with his sailors.

Ah, but Captain, don't worry. If ya have some meat ya can put as much salt as ya want.”-The crew continued laughing at their desperate situation and as the sun set itself on the hottest hour of the day, they felt lighter and happier.

As they chuckled, Rorrick looked at his crew. Satisfied that he had at least for now, raised their spirits despite their situation.

 

A few hours had passed, the spirits and energy of the sailors had all spilled into the oars and the ocean, only three members of the crew kept rowing at an extremely slow and tired pace.

The Sun and their thirst had overcome the sailors, there was little they could do except row and hope they would find the royal fleet before dying.

They felt their last energy fading away, as the bard slowly plucked the last strings that he could pluck on his lute.

And just like that, to the harmony of dreams; the bard fell and slept as did many of the other sailors on the ship.

 

 

In his dream the bard remembered the night when his life was given meaning.

In a dim-lit country side tavern, in the County of Roseport, the wandering bard played for scraps as he accompanied a roving paladin.

The accommodations were honest and so were the Haven-Harbor folk. Mostly drunk fisherman wanting to escape the salt and sorrows they carried.

 

Rorrick had accompanied a paladin named Pat, purely for the safety of traveling with such an escort.

The night had gone by as usual, the bard performed for some meager nickels, while the Paladin kept danger at bay with a mug of water in the counter.

 

When suddenly, the cramped and molded tavern was luffed by the wind as the door opened to reveal a young, beautiful woman with rose red colored hair.

Her expression and posture was one of anger and fury.

As she looked towards the tavern keeper, with her burning eyes and hair, it almost seemed she had scared the night away.

She was visibly bruised, but no stain or wound was enough to quell her irradiating beauty.

All the older seasoned seamen moved away from her path, afraid; like they had seen a sea devil enter their refuge.

 

The woman grabbed the tavern keeper by his shirt, and as she sprouted embers to his vestments, she asked in a fiery tone. -”Where is Lionel?!”

The barkeep struggled to breathe as he answered in sweat. -”I-I don't know who Lionel is.”

Lionel Roseport! The Count's son! My brother!”

The tavern owner suddenly awoke to the realization of who was threatening him. -”By the One...Princess Miria?”

Of course! My brother doesn't have any other siblings does he.”

 

Pat and Rorrick listened attentively to the sudden patron. Pat to prevent anyone from getting hurt, and Rorrick out of interest for the princess's fiery personality.

Pat whispered to Rorrick. -”She doesn't act very much like a princess does she?”

Oh Pat, these coastal folk are nothing like what you have in the Lecii Kingdoms. They were always very, down to earth...I prefer it that way.”-The Bard said with an honest look, before he started walking towards the princess.

What are you doing?!”-The paladin asked with a worried posture to the bard.

I'm going to help her. I know who she's talking about.”

The paladin sighed and reluctantly nodded his head. After he had drunk the last of his water, he got up and followed the bard to protect him.

 

I swear, my princess I don't know where your brother is!”-The Tavern keep said as he was still held by his collar.

My brother has gone missing! I haven't seen him for weeks now and everyone refuses to tell me what has happened to him!”-The princess said as she still held the tavern keeper.

The bard stepped forward and proclaimed. “I know where Lionel Roseport is.”

Miria looked to the bard and the tall paladin in full plate behind him, and as she let go of the tavern keep, she asked. -”You do? Where is he?!”

Her threatening expression changed to an eager and trusting one, as her hair sizzled and she looked Rorrick straight in the eyes.

 

Last I heard of a noble with that name, they said he was heading towards Cwormack.”-Rorrick said as he felt the warm almost burning aura of Miria close to him.

How do you know that, and from who?”-Miria said as she still gazed at the bard's eyes.

W-Well, I-I'm a bard. I hear a bit of gossip everywhere I go.”-Rorrick said as he fumbled with his words and as he felt nervous by the Princess's intense stare.

Cwormack? That's not that far away, I might still be able to-”- Miria's glee was cut short, as the door opened to three armed royal Roseport guards.

 

Princess Miria, stop this foolery. His highness the Count wants you to come back home, and stop this ridiculous quest.”-One of the guards said as he prepared to unsheathe his sword.

I will not! I will find my brother, even If I have to do it on my own!”-The princess exclaimed to her escorts as she prepared to lounge herself at them.

But before she could attack, she was taken aback. As she saw the Paladin and the Bard charge.

 

Pat struck the first guard in the head with a stunning fist, that made the guard's helmet and head ring like a temple's bell.

Rorrick struck next with a low kick to the next guard's groin, followed by a punch to his face, which Rorrick immediately regretted as he felt the cold metal piercing into his knuckles.

Lastly, Miria took her chance and lunged at the last guard and punched him with a fiery fist right into his breastplate, her punch melted into the armor and the chainmail underneath.

 

As the guard felt the melting metal searing into him, he pleaded. -”Mercy, please your highness.”

Miria pulled back her hand as the metal slowly cooled of; she told the guard with an eager and furious stare. -“I will, but you shall tell my father this: If he doesn't want to tell me what happened, then I'll find out myself and won't return until after I do.”-Miria said as her hair shone like a star.

Yes-my, lady.”-The guard said in pain, as he slowly carried the soldiers outside, with the help of some of the fishermen in the tavern.

 

Thank you for the help; but I must ask, why did you help me?”-Miria said with a confused look.

My lady. I am sworn errant paladin and it is my duty to help and protect those that can't protect themselves.

Although I'm starting to think I should have helped the guards instead.”-Pat said as he knelt down.

The bard fumbled as he answered, while he still held his punching hand.-“Oh I just... I uh. What he said. You seem nice.”

 

Miria smiled at the honesty of both of them and thanked them. -”Well, I appreciate the help, both in fighting and the information.”- Miria then delicately tried to bow like a princess in thanks to the bard and the paladin's help. To which the duo felt, it clashed with her previous actions.

 

H-Hey if you want you can come with us, we are heading to Cwormack too. We won't mind bringing you with us.”-Rorrick said nervously as he quietly bumped Pat's arm.

I highly advise it against it Princess. While we are indeed headed towards Cwormack we are on a very dangerous mission.

I am to apprehend a dangerous rogue ice wizard that is dwelling in the Frigid Rocks mountain chain.”-Pat said as he ignored Rorrick's bump and his annoyed look.

 

Miria looked happy with Rorrick's proposal and answered with a sly look. -”Well, it's only until Cwormack.

Its not that long and you don't have to worry about me getting into danger; Like you said, the guards could have used more help than I.”

Then it's settled! You'll join us for now.”-Rorrick said with glee as he threw his hands in the air and back against Pat's armor, before exclaiming another grunt of pain.

Then let's head of, gentleman. I don't think it would be wise for us to stay here any longer, my father might send some more men after us.”-Miria said with a worried look.

Of course, let's go Pat!”-Rorrick said to Pat as he headed off with Miria.

Pat sighed and payed the damages they had caused and before he left, he told himself. “Gods help me, this will be a long journey.”

 

The brine elevated itself unto the heavens and back to the sailors, as the hopeless men received a rude awakening.

A doted whale briefly lifted the lost rowboat high into the sky. The bard gasped with sudden fear and grasped unto his pendant he wore around his neck, the one that had been gifted to him by Miria on the last day they had seen each other.

 

Once the vessel splashed against the stone like ocean, the bard realized their once again dire situation and slapped the faces of the remaining sleeping sailors.

He joined them on the rowing and screamed at the top of his lungs. -”Don't falter now men! We have come this far, we can't die now! So row! Row!”

The sailors gathered their last strength and kept rowing towards their direction. As the sun started its descent, the sailors energy slowly left their body. One by one they fell to what they feared would be their last slumber.

Only Rorrick, Henrik and two other sailors remained now on the last paddles.

I suppose there's other worse ways to go eh' Captain?”-Henrik said as his breath failed him.

Save it Henrik, we aren't dead yet and you shouldn't waste your life talking.”-Rorrick said as he tried with all his strength to keep rowing.

Henrik did not answer back, instead he merely kept rowing until he too blacked out.

 

By now, the sunset was close approaching and the bard felt his life slowly fading away.

He held in his hands, the pendant his loved had gifted him and right before he blacked out; he looked into the distance and saw the masts of the royal fleet on the horizon.

The bard tried to signal them anyway he could, and as a last effort, he grabbed his lute and played the loudest notes he could before his fingers stopped working.

With a screeching note to the human fleet, the bard dropped his lute and fell once more into a dream as he hoped they would be rescued.

 

When he awoke, the bard saw in the glimmering light a familiar figure. A figure he thought he would never see again, as his vision focused his hopes were confirmed.

Standing next to him was his old loved one, his old friend and companion Miria.

Before he could utter a word, the queen hugged the bard and whispered quietly into his ear. -”I'm so happy you're alright.”

Rorrick felt the warm embrace of his friend, the same embrace he had wished to feel again for so many years.

As the setting orange and golden light entered through the holes and flaps of the emergency tent where Rorrick and the other sailors were being treated, the bard hugged back his beloved and whispered back. -”I'm happy to see you again, Miria.”

 

The two held each other for a minute or two, before Miria let go of his old friend and asked him. -”Rorrick, what happened? Where's the rest of your crew and ship?”

The bard spoke with a defeated look and admitted. -”They mutinied and took the ship.”

What? Why? I thought you told me you payed them!”-Miria said with a baffled stance.

Rorrick straightened his back and with a determined inflection he answered. -”I did! I swear, they just mutinied because they felt like it. “No obligation to anyone” they said...or something like that.”

I knew I shouldn't have let you bring a mercenary ship.”-Miria said before a thought erupted from her. -”What about the common folk? You said you would try to get some of them on your ship.”

Rorrick nervously chuckled at Miria's concern and eased her.-”Well good news, I wasn't able to get anyone to come with me.

So if you ever see those traitors, be my guest and sink them...if they haven't already that is.”

 

Thank the Gods.”-Miria said as she sighed with relief, before a faint smile emerged. -”They probably would have thrown you out sooner if they had more music fans aboard.”

Rorrick tried to contain himself and failed, as he laughed at his friend's jab towards him.

You know better than anyone, I'm a misunderstood artist.”-The bard said with a smile towards his most trusted fan. -”What about you? I didn't really have much time to talk with you on the port...with all the invasion and the hurry to escape. How have you been doing these past four years?”

The queen sat by the bedside next to the bard and with a heavy look and the golden rays on her she told him. -”They have been...tiresome.

As dangerous as they were, I still miss our old adventures sometimes.

The fights, the sneaking, the traveling, Pat's grumpiness and most of all...I missed you Rorrick.”

The bard looked at the queen with an equally heavy look and replied. -”I missed you too.

More than anything really. That day you left me, I spent almost all of my treasure on cheap wine.

You had left me, Pat had left me too...that night when I first saw you. I didn't know it yet, but you gave me a meaning, you gave me a light.

When you left, well, I realized what I had before you arrived, nothing.

I was just an aimless, poor wandering bastard without a family and returning to that just killed me.”

Miria looked at her old friend and said.-”I'm sorry Rorrick...I didn't know.”

Before she could say anything else, the bard grabbed the queen's hand and as he looked into her eyes with a starry look, he continued. -”But, it was alright.

Because as I stood half-drunk on your wedding day, on the streets of the Seven-Towers. I remembered something you told me once.

If we put out a fire during a storm, we will surely never light it back again; but as long as the slimmest of embers still exist, we can bring light and hope again.””

 

The queen became teary eyed as her memories flooded back to her but before the bard could continue, she interrupted him and told him. -” Rorrick, stop. All of that was...so long ago.

So much has changed since then, I'm still a Queen with responsibilities. People to look after, I'm not an adventurer anymore.”-Miria said with a crooked and saddened posture.

As much as I wish we could go back to those days, the truth is that we can't. We must accept the present and move on.

The least we can do is to cherish those old memories and carry them with us.

Besides, in the end I was never destined to be an adventurer. I was a princess and now I'm a queen, my fate was always to be with my kingdom.”

Rorrick rose up from his bed and as he straightened himself and looked into the eyes of his love with a determined look, he said. -”But we are here now! We're having another adventure together, how am I supposed to interpret this as anything else other than the will of the Gods?”

Miria slowly pushed him back into his pillow as she said. -”You have been through a dangerous trip, just rest for now Rorrick. We'll talk more later.” -Miria then approached and kissed her old friend in the cheek.

Afterwards, she left with the last orange and golden rays of the sun. As the warm glowing queen turned, she said. -”Sleep well, my bard.”

Rorrick was left alone in the tent; and as he grabbed the old pendant Miria had gifted him so long ago, he clung to it and slowly fell back to his dreams with an annoyed grin set on him.


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