Well this is it. I see the ship we are going to board at the end of the pier. The “Grey Gull”. Ships are more Vilija’s specialty as she is training to take over the family business. To me is looks like a floating box with a sail. I recall Dafyl mentioning something about the captain being from her clan, and I already can see Vilija talking and making connections. Must be easy when you are that pretty. Ranulf says I am pretty…but judging by the amount of girls who always seem to hang around him in the markets, he says that a lot.
Uhg…..I really don’t want to do this. I have never been on a boat, and I have heard tales from others passed around of seasickness….gods preserve me but I bet my new lock-picks I will be retching over the side before the city is even out of view.
I can see a few of the brats watching me as they move through the dock crowds. Always ripe pickings here if you are fast enough. I gesture, acknowledging them before I hear Vilija calling to me to hurry up. My trunks have already been loaded….why I need so much is beyond me. that many clothes would seem to indicate that we will be there for a while. I am carrying my satchel, and the things I value the most are there.
The necklace, some small gems I can fence, my spare lock-picks and a change of clothes. I have my good picks hidden on me as well as my dagger and a parting gift from Ranulf…sturdy new nun-chuck.
I board the ship and a short while later we set out. The sway of the ship was minimal in dock, but as soon as we hit deep water I begin to feel it, the churning in my stomach. I still see the last vestiges of the city as I race to the edge of the deck. This trip is going to be long, and very very unpleasant.
The days begin to Blur, and all I know is the stench of vomit and the rolling of the ship. The good news is after the first day there was really nothing left to throw up…not that my stomach was really aware of that fact. Some days I lay on the floor of the cabin willing my stomach to be still, others I hang over the deck and share my bounty with the sea.
The waters are getting rough, and I hear whispers of a storm. Gods could this trip get any worse?
Today is finally the day! We are leaving and the boat is really big. I went with Vilija and met the captain. He has a bushy beard and looks a little scarey when he is not smiling, but he seems very nice. We have a room on the ship, which is called a cabin. And there are no other passengers. It feels strange walking, because the ship is always moving under your feet. I explore the ship as it is loading. I have never been on a ship like this before and I want to know everything. I watch the sailors as they begin to prepare to depart and soon I feel the boat really rock as we head into deeper waters. Raja does not look very good, she is sitting on a crate with her head in her hands.
I lasted longer than Raja but I am sick too. The ship moving is making me throw up. Vilija is out of the cabin a lot, because it is stinky here. Some times Raja and I are outside the cabin with Vilija. I don’t sleep at a lot because my stomach hurts. The captain says soon I should get better…I hope so because I don’t like being sick….Aunty never told me what to do if I was sick on a boat.
The day finally came for us to board ship. Lýdan was able to get us passage on the Grey Gull, captained by Rurik al Lâarsel. He is a member of my mother’s clan and for that I am grateful. And though I had the barest of acquaintances with him, his familial connection was comforting. Also, a man of such age was surely a wily seaman and that inspired confidence as well.
I wasn’t sure about my sister’s. Rajavia was sulky and surely. I hadn’t seen much of her lately and I felt some small regret. I knew she has drifted from us since mother’s death but first the duties at temple and then the cares of the business demanded more time away from the family. Raella was quite excited. She kept going on about all the things Aunt Arien taught her. I’m not sure where she thoughts we are going, but I hadn’t the heart to tell her we wouldn’t likely be needing any survival skills in the city.
As we pulled away from shore it felt like a door closing on my life. Standing on the deck, the salt spray catching in my hair, the horizon stretched before me like the first leaf of an unwritten book. Just waiting for the ink to start flowing.
While I settled well to the rythyms of the voyage, I could not say the same for my sisters. Neither found their sealegs and I was grateful for the bracing wind as the cabin was rife with the smell of their sickness. After a couple of days they seemed to settle, though neither had much appetite and both kept to the cabin. I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed the company of the crew, learning a couple of their sea songs, a few with salty lyrics, and sharing their meals. I also spent a fair bit of time learning to navigate by the stars. Mostly I tried to avoid the cabin.
After about a week of fine weather we hit the storms. For a couple of days the ship tossed on the rough seas and rain. I found that I needed to find shelter below in the cabin. My sisters seemed the worse for wear but neither became violently sick again. After several nights of rocking there came a knock on our cabin door. Upon opening it we discovered one of the sailors, Tâber al Chéler by name standing in the dark.
He told us to be quick, that the ship was on fire and the Captain had sent him to help get us safely off. The deck seemed strangely empty, even in the dark, but we could see smoke rising from the cargo hold. Grabbing what was easily to hand, we followed Taber across the streaming deck. We climbed over and down into one of the small boats that stood waiting for us. After a few tense moments, Taber cut us free and we rowed for all our worth to get as far from the Grey Gull as possible. I had often heard my brother tell of small ships drawn down to the deeps when the larger ships floundered and that was a fate I was determined to avoid.
We quickly lost sight of the ship in the maelstrom of waves which rocked the small boat precariously. Somehow we managed to keep moving. It seemed an eternity before Raella spotted something on the horizon. It was difficult to tell what in the darkness, but Taber felt confident it was the surf beating against a shoreline so we headed in that direction as best we could.
It was still dark when we made landfall. We dragged the boat up as far as we could. The mud sucked at us, for we had landed in a mired reed locked delta. So boots removed, we grabbed up what provisions we could and made for higher ground. Once we hit the sparse tree line, Raella set us to making camp by showing us how to make a shelter and get a fire going.
We set watches through the night and when mine was over I fell into an exhausted sleep. My last thought as I drifted off was to thank Aunt Arien for teaching Raella. I was guessing that her skills might well come in handier than I had originally thought.