The Journey Begins

It was a surprisingly bright and pleasant morning. The day was warmer, the birds sang louder and more cheerfully. The waves gently lapped against the hull of the small ship that was docked in the east harbor. The sea waves created clouds of salty mist that flew into the open porthole where Kindret lay dreaming of his betrothed. A bang suddenly sounded at the sleeping quarter’s door and woke him up. He dived out of bed and grabbed his staff in anticipation of an attack. He held his staff at arm’s length pointing it towards the door. “Are you alright in there?” it was Joselin. “It’s time to light the pyre, my friend.”

  Kindret breathed a sigh of relief and lowered his staff. Then, without warning, he remembered the terrible truth, his whole town, his friends, and even his betrothed, were all dead. He fell backward dropping his staff and landing on his makeshift bed. He began to weep again, hoping that it was all but a dream. It was time to light the pyre and say goodbye to all the people he had ever known. “Give me a few minutes to get dressed,” he cried through the door. “I’ll be there in a moment.”

  He grabbed his clothes and slowly got dressed. He was in no haste to burn the body of his loved one. He opened the door and standing there waiting with a drink of olde ale was his friend Joselin. “Drink this,” he said. “it’ll make you feel better.”

  He snatched the ale out of his hand, spilling it a little on the wooden deck, and gulped it down as fast as he could. “Thanks,” he belched. “I needed that.”

  They both strolled up the stairs onto the main deck area of the ship. They looked up at the golden-colored sky and breathed heavily. As they walked across the ship and down the rickety old gangplank they looked at each other with sorrow in their eyes. They walked across the beach where they stopped and watched a yellow and blue crab scuttling towards the ocean. Kindret bent down on one knee and inspected it closer. He stroked its exoskeleton. It didn’t flinch nor fuss that it was being touched, it didn’t seem to care. Kindret stood up and looked at his friend. “I wonder if they even know the troubles of loss?” he asked, rubbing his head in confusion. “They will never know the pain that comes with a superior mind.”

  They came within sight of the pyre. It was stacked with the bodies of the deceased. Joselin worked throughout the night to get it ready by the time the sun rose over Merderva. “Before we light the fire, I have something,” Joselin reached into his satchel and pulled a silver bracelet out. “I believe this belonged to, Nilos. I couldn’t find his body. I believe he’s alive somewhere, though, not on this island. I’ve checked.”

  “I cannot believe it!” he could hardly contain his excitement. “That is, Ingrid. He must be alive. But where and why?”

  “The only thing I can think of,” Joselin started, his eyes trailed off in the direction of the ships that had lay waste to the town. “is that they took him as a slave. It happens to a lot of Orcs these days.”

  “We must find him,” he reached out with his hand and took Ingrid from him. “We must find him!”

  They both walked over to the pyre, a tear rolled down Kindret’s cheek as he saw his betrothed again lying lifeless on top of it. He dug deep into his pocket and pulled out the bracelet he had commissioned Nilos to make for Nadia. He grabbed Nadia’s arm. “This is for you, my love,” he slid the bracelet on her cold lifeless arm. “I wish I could have given you this before all this happened, I know you’d have loved it.”

  “I will find the monsters who did this,” he continued, clenching his fists and barring his teeth. “they will all die. I will avenge your death. I will avenge everyone who lies here now. I swear it.”

  He stepped back a few paces. Joselin handed him a lit torch and patted him on the back. Kindret ceremoniously lit the pyre and stood back to watch the flames consume the victims of the massacre of Merderva. They stood still, watching until there was nothing but embers burning on the ground, and then they walked back to the ship.

  When they boarded the ship they looked at each other, sadness in their eyes, they spoke with body language, not words. What could words do now?

  They both moved around the ship preparing it for launch. Joselin ran up the ship’s sails whilst Kindret pulled up the anchors. Kindret watched as Joselin effortlessly ran up and down the masts dragging the sails around with him. Once they were ready to set sail all they had to wait for was a healthy gust of wind.

  In the corner of Kindret’s eye, he saw an orb of light. Was it the same one? What was it? It floated around the embers of the pyre. It seemed to be looking for something, or maybe someone. Whatever it was doing, it had caught Kindret’s attention. “What you looking at, boy?” asked Joselin.

  “That thing over there,” he replied, pointing in the direction of the orb. “I’ve seen it before.”

  Joselin followed Kindret’s gaze, but he saw nothing, except the ash and dust of the pyre. “I don’t see anything!” he shouted. “Where you looking?”

  “Over there,” he pointed and looked at Joselin to make sure he was looking in the same direction. “Oh wait… it’s gone.”

  “We’re getting some wind. We can leave shortly,” Joselin said with a hint of enthusiasm. “Make sure those anchors are up won’t you, boy?”

  Checking all the anchors were up, Kindret gave Joselin the thumbs up and they left the east harbor. It would take a week at least to get to the northern kingdom, that was if they made it there at all. The seas were treacherous and hard to navigate. It would take all of their attention. If they wanted to survive the voyage, Kindret would have to do as he was told and Joselin would have to man the deck for the entire journey.

  The waters were calm, a rarity for this type of journey. Kindret strolled down below deck to make some food, he nor Joselin had eaten since they had set sail. He opened a cupboard and rummaged around. He found preserved fish with an assortment of herbs and spices. He found bread that had gone hard. He grabbed it and bashed it against the wall, crumbs fell to the ground and when he tried to bite it, he chipped his tooth. He threw the bread out of the porthole. Then he looked inside another cupboard and found red wine. That will do nicely, he thought.

  He pulled it out and inspected it in the light. It looked fantastic, he brushed the dust off it and opened it, then he poured two glasses of it and placed it on a tray with the spiced fish.

  He went up to the main deck where Joselin was steering the boat. The boat had run into shallow water and they could feel every bump. Joselin was trying his hardest to take the boat out into deeper, less treacherous water. He noticed Kindret walking towards him. “What you got there, boy?” he asked.

  “Food. We haven’t eaten for a while.” Kindret replied. “It’s not much, but it should fill a hole.”

  Kindret placed the food and wine down on a perch next to the wheel. He grabbed a glass of wine and passed it to Joselin, he gulped it down his thirsty neck and belched. The ship was taken out of the shallows and into deep water. In the distance, they could see storm clouds. The lightning was as bright as the sun and the thunder was deafening. They looked at each other with wide eyes. They knew it would be a hard night. They sat on a perch and ate the spiced fish, it wasn’t much, but when they ate it they felt stronger, more energetic than before.

  The storm approached faster than they had hoped. As they went into the stormy waters the ship began to rock. Sails tore in the heavy winds. Rain pounded the ship like bolts shot from a bow. In all the mess and chaos, Kindret found a second of calm, brief as it was, he saw the orb again, the third time in as many days. He rushed forward to get a better look at it. As he approached the front of the vessel he glimpsed something moving under the water. Was the orb a warning that only he could conceive?

  Joselin shouted, but the wind muffled his voice. Kindret kept his eyes firmly on the creature beneath the dark water. What creature was stirring in the deep dark sea? It was a question that Kindret didn’t want an answer to. He ran the length of the upper deck towards Joselin. “There’s something in the water!” he shouted, breathing deeply to catch his breath. “Something big is under the ship.”

  His warning was too late. A giant tentacle wrapped itself around the ship. The creature pulled itself up and onto the vessel’s deck. Its eyes were red, but they had a vacant look as if the creature had only just woken from its slumber. It blinked and focused anger-filled its eyes. It opened its mouth showing row upon row of sharp, jagged white teeth. “It’s a Goliath Squid, boy,” Joselin shouted. “Get yourself a sword if you want to live!”

  Kindret ran across the deck and grabbed his staff. It was the only thing he could get to. The creature had blocked off much of the ship with its giant tentacles. “That ain’t going to help you, lad,” Joselin said as he unsheathed his blade. “Get to the wheel and keep us steady. I’ll take care of this beast!”

  Kindret did as he was bid and ran to the wheel. Joselin jumped over the perch and ran at the squid. It looked more alert than before. It saw him running towards it and brought its tentacle down thrashing Joselin away. He flew through the air and crashed into a loose barrel. The creature moved towards him as he lay unconscious amongst the contents of the barrel. It sniffed at the air as if smelling its next meal before the feast. It wrapped its tentacle around his leg and lifted him. It held him above its head and opened its huge orifice, showing its jagged teeth once more. The creature was about to throw him into his mouth when Kindret came running in from behind. He screamed and shouted. For a moment the creature looked confused, like a child being told off for the first time, but it quickly snapped out of it.

  It struck out at him, but Kindret dropped and rolled clear. He brought up his staff, like a dormant instinct that lay in his heart, and he created a ball of energy to protect himself from the next barrage of assaults instigated by the then very angry Goliath Squid. It then threw Joselin into the air and overboard. Kindret knew he would have to act fast if he wanted to save his old buddy. He dug deep into his mind. I am a Mage, he thought.

  He contorted his face and focused his mind. His hand instinctively stretched out and then suddenly contorted and within a moment a large flame appeared in the center of his hand. The creature moved onto the offensive and began pummeling the ship deck trying desperately to hit the incredibly evasive meal that was Kindret.

  He rolled left and loosed his fireball. He rolled right and lifted his shield. The creature brought down its tentacles and completely covered Kindret. It lifted them expecting a tasty morsel, but to its surprise, Kindret was waiting under his shield with a huge fireball. He released the fireball and it flew through the air. It sizzled its way through the stormy weather making a crackling noise as it went. It hit the creature in its huge eye. It screamed in agony as its eye burned and boiled. Its wound poured cream-colored goo on the cold wet deck of the ship. It slid towards the back of the ship shrieking. Kindret followed it, showering it with small fireballs, giving it the incentive to leave the vessel that much quicker. The Goliath Squid crashed back into the sea with a thud, a huge wave followed its departure, crashing onto the deck and nearly swiping Kindret off his feet. The boat rocked in the wave nearly capsizing under the pressure.

  Kindret fell to his knees in exhaustion breathing heavily. The skies began to clear and the blueness of the water began to return. The waves calmed and the ship steadied. Kindret got to his feet and looked around the calm blue water, but he could not see his friend anywhere. “Joselin, where are you?” he began to shout, hoping to be heard.

  He walked over to the port side and sat on the railing. He heard a noise coming from the netting used for fishing. The netting had caught something, but it was not a fish. It was Joselin. Alive, but unconscious. Kindret pulled him up and lay him out on the deck. He grabbed a bucket of water and threw it in Joselin’s face. “What?” he coughed, rubbing his eyes at the intensity of the light. “What happened to me?”

  “You got your butt kicked,” he laughed, offering him a hand to pull him to his feet. “that squid got you good. He was about to eat you.”

  “How did you get it off the ship?”

  “It was incredible,” he began to explain, enthusiasm in his tone. “I used magic and sent him back to his watery slumber.”

  Joselin brushed himself down and looked around at the mess. “Thank the stars for Mages,” he said cheerily. “we better get this ship cleaned up though.”

  When they both cleaned away the last remnants of the squid’s encounter they could see land ahead. It was less than a day away and Kindret had itchy feet, he wanted to feel ground beneath him again. He hated the uncertainty of the sea. He hated the unknown.

  Joselin took the wheel and guided the boat towards the shore. As they approached, the land seemingly took shape. It was as if the land didn’t exist until they looked upon it. “This is as far as she will go, boy,” said Joselin. “lower the anchor and get on the rowing boat.”

  Kindret did as he was commanded. They got on the rowing boat and lowered it into the shallow water. Joselin rowed the boat until it slid uneasily onto the sandy shoreline. They stepped out of the small boat and began to walk off the beach and onto a pathway that led to a Tavern. “This is where I must leave you, my lad,” Joselin said solemnly. “I have business elsewhere and I want to find out where Nilos has been taken.”

  “That would be very helpful,” he said. “Thank you for the ride, but I’m at a loss. Where do I go from here?”

  “There is a Tavern up ahead,” he pointed in its direction. “Get some rest, grab an ale, and ask around for tasks. People pay good money for services. You’ll do alright.”

   He handed him some coin. “That should buy a few ales and a night’s sleep.”

  “Okay, my friend. Thank you”

  “Until our paths cross once more.”

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