The next morning they set out, burdened with food and supplies and in much better spirits than they had been for some time. They saw almost no living things in the bog, which was a blessing as many of the creatures they had encountered before had been infected by the Abyssal disease. By the time they arrived at the small collection of fisherman’s huts their mood had improved dramatically.
Callindra began playing her tin whistle around the fire in the evenings again and Vilhylm told stories he’d learned from the man who had taught him how to make masks. Cronos cooked more often and created meals that were remarkably delicious, especially considering the limited variety of basic ingredients.
Their good mood evaporated when they reached the shoreline as the sun was going down a few days later. Burned out huts and broken fishing boats littered the shoreline. A single boat seemingly tacked together from several damaged ones was beached near a small campfire. A young man looked up at their approach with haunted eyes. He seemed ready to bolt, but Tryst strode forward with a smile and gentle words.
“Fear not good sir, we are not here to harm or steal from you. In fact we wish to engage your services if you’re willing to transport us.” Said Tryst, “We will pay you one hundred gold to bring us to The Whalebone Islands.”
“Show me the money.” He said, voice suspicious. Tryst took out a pouch and opened it so the other man could see the gold shining inside.
“You can count it out yourself. My name’s Tryst, this is my sister Callindra and my brothers Vilhylm and Cronos.”
“Gil.” The man said shortly, “We leave with the tide tomorrow morning. Candlemark after dawn.”
“What happened here?” Callindra asked, looking around at the wreckage. “Was this your village?”
“Nah. Coulda been though.” Gill turned his back on them and began turning the fish he had cooking on long sticks thrust into the sand.
Callindra looked at his ship, taking note of how tacked together it seemed. After a moment, she realized this wasn’t just a ship, it was a floating house. “You have been attacked?” She asked hesitantly, “Your village?”
“We all left before they could find us.” Gill said, “Made boathouses. Spread out. Lost track of ‘em.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” She said, not really knowing what to say.
Gill just grunted and took a fish from the fire, tested it and handed the stick to her. “Eat. More’n I can use myself anyway.”
The next morning, Callindra awoke just as the first rays of sun were cresting the horizon. It was her first time truly seeing a sunrise over the ocean. The winds playing around her were stronger than usual; having nothing to slow them down as they danced over the water. She performed the Korumn, dancing with them and found Gill staring at her when she finished.
“What was that?” He looked at the perfect compass rose left at the end of her exercise. “How did you do that?”
She took a deep breath, feeling the relief of the power that had built up overnight being gently discharged without harm. “Just my morning exercise.” She said cautiously.
“No it ain’t. You’re one of the Order ain’t ya?” He said, gesturing with a shrewd look at Brightfang. “Ain’t seen a sword on a chain before but I ain’t seen a sword like that one either. Bonded blade or I ain’t captain of th Flounder.”
Callindra shrugged and sheathed her sword. “What do you know about them?”
“I know they got power. If you got wind control I bet you could help me launch.” He gave her a steady look. “That’s all I know what I care about.”
She nodded and gave him a cautious half smile. “I can probably help you with the wind, especially since it seems like it’s favorable right now.” Looking past him to where Cronos was poking a fire to life she found her appetite demanding attention. She had gotten used to his cooking.
After a breakfast of fresh crabs wrapped in seaweed and roasted to perfection over hot coals, everyone but Callindra climbed on board The Flounder. The ship wasn’t a pretty vessel, but she bobbed in the tide, her bottom only barely scraping the sand. When Gill hauled up the anchor, she wallowed slightly in the current, but didn’t quite manage to slip out to sea.
Callindra drew Brightfang and began a slow, measured dance. As she moved through the complex Stances of the Eighth Korumn, the slight shore breeze began to pick up. It spun around her as her blade moved in intricate spinning circles and by the end, her feet barely touched the ground between Stances. With the release of the magic, the wind rose in a steady rush and The Flounder heeled over, sails billowing out.
Using the last residual bits of the Power she’d gathered, Callindra ran lightly across the waves and leaped onto the deck with a triumphant smile. “How was that for a launch?”
Gill grunted, “When’s it gonna stop?”
She frowned and glanced at the swiftly receding shoreline. Biting her lower lip, she shook her head. “Um. Not sure. Is that bad?”
Gill shrugged, “Just wanted ta know how long I could rely on it. Winds ain’t th most reliable out here.”
“Oh. Well, make the best of it while you can?” She said, “Just because the Wind does what I ask it to sometimes doesn’t mean it listens every time.”
“We’ll take as much advantage as we can.” He said with a grin and released a rope. A third sail caught the wind with a snap and The Flounder seemed to leap over the water much faster than a ship of her size and shape should have been able to.