The Seas of Eternal Torment (3)

Reads: 346  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 2

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

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

PART 3 of my pirate series.

Painting credit: https://www.art.com/products/p27973765603-sa-i8197007/jon-foster-a-16th-century-portuguese-trading-vessel-is-blown-off-course.htm?upi=POJSUY0&PODConfigID=8880742&sOrigID=192566


All the crew had already returned to the Haven, and now a deathly silence filled the garden as rain clouds bloomed far over the distant Peacewater Ocean. Across the fields My vessel looked like a tiny thing down there, rising like a child’s toy in tumultuous bathwater.

Rain-scented air brought with it the earthy smell of dirt and tree pollen, and for fear of the storm, all living things were hidden and silent within the gathering darkness of obscured skies.

The cataclysm of my presence brought the town of Layward to ruin, every man and woman slaughtered, the fist of justice firmly planted. In my left hand I palmed a heavy silver ring, its surface bumpy and cold with intricate design. It was the Signet of Ages that was carved upon its surface, the clan of soul worshipers. Rare beads of rain began to patter on the olive grove leaves.

“Water,” the priest rasped, his eyes so swollen that he could not see from out their bulges. His enflamed, purple cheeks blended into the darkening sky as I smiled upon his hanging body. Nails held him fast to his own lavish agar wood door, his pierced wrists outstretched as he embraced his fate. The gardenhouse was largely dismantled, but the door lay neatly intact, save for two large cracks at the iron spikes’ entrance and the streaks of coagulated blood dripping like wings from the priest’s robes. “Water…”

I smiled, nearly bursting with a laugh, but caught it before it escaped my lips. What a strange thing for a dying man to ask for. Water; my ship rides upon it, the sky, saturated with it, rains liquid life upon the ground. Living things grow because of it. A dying man asking for water, why? To extend his dimming life, or to ease his thirst? Perhaps it was only his instincts reaching for that which binds us to the heavens, earth, ocean, and all other living things. Now, so close to death, his damned soul begs for water to cleanse the atrocities of all his sins. Water could not wash his guilt if came in deluge.

Beside me, the priest’s daughter stared seriously upon her father. She was nearly an orphan now, almost ready to begin her life. She peered up at him with complex emotion on her face and in her watery eyes. Even though she lacked my own satisfaction, there was no regret to be found on her lips. Her fists were tight beside her, and her brows tense.

“Tiamati,” the priest implored, shaking with the effort to open his swollen eyes. Bloodshot whites moved, and leaking pupils attempted to perceive his daughter. “Please…”

“Please?” she replied. Her brown eyes flashed, and tawny hair flitted in oncoming gusts. At about fourteen years old, her voice was beyond her years, saturated with grim knowledge of the evils of the world. “Please?” he tone grew into accusation. “How many times did I say “please”, father? When did you stop when I begged and the children begged? You and those others laughed at us!”

“Please…water,” the priest persisted, his voice going hoarse.

“No,” she replied.

With a final heaving breath, the crusted wound on his side reopened beneath his tattered cloak spilling clear and red from his flesh, and dripped like rain on the petals and dirt below his feet. He stopped begging then.

The daughter wanted to come with me, as so many of the orphans often desired. But I was not yet in want of additional crew. She had her own story to make here, the other children needed guidance, needed someone older to look after them. She nodded, rising to the occasion. So much power shone on her determined face!

Smith was waiting for me at the docks with my dingy. The roaring wind whipped his cloak shielding his face from fast moving droplets. I saw he was nervous as the waves turned black and crashed high against the wooden poles. I waded across the submerged planks and was urgently beckoned to the little boat. He was silent, pulling with heavy strokes and staring as I played with the Ring of Ages.

Altogether I was pleased with our efforts; we had dug deep below the bedrock of society and found an ancient evil that lurked beneath. This ring hinted beyond what had been only rumors. Secret organizations, soul worshipers, spirit summoners. Powers and Principalities. Ideas and visions spoken in whispers by desiccated men. They were out there, and now so was I. Their schemes and messages may be vague and misunderstood, but mine were clear.

This ring was my ascension. How fitting that the first I found was on the fingers of a priest. I have become Providence itself, usurping religion to bend the natural world to my will. I have been seated on the pulpit, and one day it will be my teachings which men ponder and are confused by instead of he who now hangs dead on a garden’s door.

Aboard the Haven men were stumbling, fearful, panicking to secure goods and fabric. How little faith they had. Smith, at least, stood quietly by my side, though he shook with the increasing downpour and pulses of lightning that cracked the air. Faith begins with acceptance, and abject humility.

After tying off the gut-knot and securing a net, Thomas saw me through the thick torrent, lantern light scarcely reaching, and balanced his way across the shifting deck to me. Holding his cloak against the wind and rain, he shouted to be heard, “We must go ashore!”

No.

“If we do not, we will be broken in two!”

He was faithless, and with every denial of his demands the crew began to pause their soggy labor and look toward his pleas. Thomas became angry, shouted and as he flung an accusing finger at me, the emboldened crew began to gather with him.

A vicious green bolt of lightning crawled beneath the bubbling clouds and arced down to touch the water beside us. Boards shook beneath my feet, and the air trembled. I was not afraid, yet those of little faith cowered low, and death seemed present on their sheepish minds.

“I think you should listen to him,” Greyson hesitantly shouted. A wave crashed over the deck, and a pair of crew hugged gutlines to keep from being swept into the hungry mouth below. “We are dead men upon the water.”

Water. How strange. The life giver, and the life taker, water is the comfort and fear of human kind. Birthed from our mother’s womb, we come into this world by means of flowing river, and upon our demise, such water stored within our bodies release themselves to return to the world, joining with underground groves that lead to ocean-bound tributaries. Tears fall from our eyes like rain, our weeping swollen with both joy and sorrow; we curse a wrong with a disdainful spit; we sweat with the pain of desert toils, and with the pulsating ecstasy of love. Water. We are bound, and shorn by its curses and its blessings.

I do not know how long they stared at me, but loud murmurs and cowering grew with every ocean lapse and lighting flash.

Perhaps it was my silence which persuaded them to turn against me. All the better, when the goddess is silent, so then should be her followers. My crew showed their true allegiance by continuing to speak. They held a vote to cast me, and anyone who would follow me, overboard. Those who were cast out numbered two.

At the last moment, Baker, with regretful eyes, suggested that Smith and I at least be given the dingy to let Providence decide our fate. They all agreed it was the least they could do after all the wealth I had provided them, hundreds of bricks’ worth of silver, gold, and precious gems now stored beneath my boots in the rooms below deck. Buried treasure.

Smith placed his hand around my waist and guided me towards the little boat that hung and swayed on the side of what once was my ship. The rank of Captain, bestowed willingly upon me because of my talents was now stripped by mutiny and fear. Fear is the legend killer.

Smith jumped in first over the black, frothing chasm below and into the dingy, then held out his hands and caught me as I leapt. We were lowered to the angry seas, my crew’s dreadful faces faded into the blistering night.

Smith pulled the oars, though his efforts merely teased the will of the waters. We rose high with the giant, bulbous waves then dropped as they passed. The Haven was tossed, and as it fell the deck momentarily submerged. What hope the crew had for finding land vanished in a blinding light as a branch of thick blue struck the vessel. The distant cries of terrified heretics rode over the rolling surface of the ocean as they succumbed to Providence. The ship, broken in two and intermittently illuminated in incandescent frames, bubbled and sank. Gold, gluttons and guts fell far below.

“My goddess…” Smith muttered, unpausing, unblinking from the oars.

If any of my forsaken crew were unlucky, they would live out the storm by adoring a stray fragment of the Haven’s breast. Perhaps after a long sojourn and purgatory to, and on, some nameless isle they would cry out to me for forgiveness and salvation.

As the rain receded, and the waters calmed, the lightning cast farther away. “Luana’s Wrath”, lightning belonged to the first goddess of the world. My father told stories of her in times of my girlhood. He had known her, fought beside her in the Shaddin War. There was room yet for a pantheon, I was one more woman who would achieve divinity and join Luana and Anara in paradise.

Red dawn showed Smith more clearly, and the end of the storm spat only a few drops in the ankle-deep water of our boat. He was breathing heavily, and paused from his efforts, staring bewildered at me. He believed.

“I…” he hesitated. “I knew you would deliver any who followed you.”

I asked if he would follow me yet.

“To the ends of the world,” he replied with humble air.

To the ends of the world. How true his vow was, yet he did not know it, for Providence would lead us there one day if he stayed faithful. Where the world ended, our true journey would begin.

He looked around at the empty ocean, wiping the drips from his face and beard. “But first, we need a vessel.”

Destroy the old and create something new, that is often the path of nature. The Haven was in want; slow, bulky, not enough rope, and too rat infested. I would soon become a nautical carpenter, for a secret design had been planted in my mind; a ship so quick and agile, that not a single peer existed in King Kyle’s fleet.

“We need a ship,” Smith reflected, and with a nod added, “A ship and a crew.”

I played with the Ring of Ages, fancied by my future. Smith pulled energetically, taking us into the unknown, and reflected my smile. We each scooped a handful from below and drank the water from the bottom boards. He looked at me and grinned, after all, it was only the two of us now.

“Stronger in pairs,” he said.

 



Submitted: January 20, 2020

© Copyright 2021 C. S. Spence. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

A. G. Smith

And so, the universe of Yoke has been expanded! I had to reread the other two Isles just to remember what had taken place so far, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The reversal of traditional roles in this series is so rewarding to dwell upon. The skewed concept of justice and liberation exhibited by the protagonist is dark and unsettling. The crucifixion of the priest was a nice inversion of that of Jesus Christ: the thief who damns the supposed savior, and then adopts the mantle for herself. Awesome!

I also enjoyed the protagonist's obsession with water, seeing it as the universal link between life and death. It granted so much richness to her mad ramblings, and I found myself combing through her poetic language to glean as much meaning as I could. Throughout the story, her madness seems to blur the lines between delusion and reality, but by the end, I was almost convinced that she does have some control over the elements, and that Smith's veneration of her is truly warranted.

One can only wonder if she carries the blood of the Shaddin in her veins... ;)

Sat, February 1st, 2020 11:44pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for reading, brother, I'm glad you are enjoying he series so far. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to incorporate this into my fantasy world, but in the end, it seemed liked the right thing to do.

I had conceptualized the Captain a few years ago, but wasnt sure how to go about laying her story. Ultimately, this may become a book, but writing it as a short story series is low stress, and allows malleability with the content, I have found.

This is the most "Discovery writing" project I have undertaken, but I think that helps with the Captain's frame of mind. I think her insanity helps bring out the religious allusions in our world, which to others in her own world are meaningless, yet she feels compelled to find certain images and situations titillating.

As far as her bloodline, you will have to wait to see who the Artisans were, in times long forgotten, back when Luana was young.

Sat, February 1st, 2020 6:11pm

Archia

I loved reading this, it was so enjoyable. One of the things that I enjoy the most is how it has this sense of reality and fantasy; does she actually have power over the weather, is she actually a goddess, or is it all just a stroke of luck? At first it appeared like luck, but now there's a few interesting turns and I'm starting to wonder if it's not just luck. There's the sense that it could be either and I love that intrigue and ambiguity to it.
I was very curious about it before but now that she has it I'm more curious about this ring. This single item was more important than a whole shipfulof gold, and it's going to be very interesting to find out why she's been searching for it for so long.
This whole series I think is great, and I really enjoy that in each chapter it becomes more of a full-bodied story. Maybe because at first you weren't intending on making it a series, the second chapter seemed a little incomplete but this chapter really brought it all together strongly.
I'm very much enjoying this all, and I really can't say a word to fault it, I only have praise.

Mon, April 27th, 2020 11:24am

Author
Reply

Sorry for the late reply! Thanks so much reading and for your amazing feedback! You are right, I finally pinned down where I wanted the story to go from here, lol. Im glad it shows.

Your encouragement is fuel to my fire. Thank you!

Wed, May 20th, 2020 10:03am

Facebook Comments

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Short Story / War and Military

Book / Action and Adventure

Short Story / Romance

Book / Action and Adventure

Other Content by C. S. Spence

Short Story / Literary Fiction