I slid behind a coil of rope as a crewmember passed by, and let out a small breath of relief when he failed to notice me. This ship is incredible, I thought, as I crawled through the ropes and crates on the deck, attempting to take in every detail of the ship--from the cracks in the floor to the spot on the deck that wasn’t swabbed quite well enough. There wasn’t much on the ship, at least on the top deck. Aside from cargo and the two masts, the deck appeared quite empty. A seat stood near the stern, crafted from plain wood. I crept to it, ducking behind some crates to avoid unwanted attention. The chair was well refined and obviously crafted by a skilled carpenter. I examined it curiously, trying to conceive a purpose for having such a nice chair in the middle of the deck. How does it stay put during storms? I wondered and tested the stability of the chair. To my surprise, it did not budge. I pulled again, and I, once again, found it quite immovable. I looked closely at the feet of the chair, and saw that iron bolts held it to the wooden boards of the deck. Next to the chair, a small table stood. Colorful contents on the table drew my eye and my curiosity became suddenly irrepressible. I would have no cover if I looked at it, I thought to myself; however, the desire to see the objects on the table overwhelmed me. I waited until all of the crew had left the main deck, cautiously watching the area in front of the chair that led to the lower deck.
The objects on the table were very simple: a knife, a cup (holding a foul smelling liquid that I presumed to be ale), and a map. I disregarded the first two items and ran my eyes over the map. It boasted the large and colorful picture of a very curious island. The island was slightly rounded on the left and right sides, and flat on the top. At the bottom of it, a peninsula jutted out, labeled Fellon Ford. Hang on a minute, I thought and searched the edges for a name. Sure enough, on the edge of the paper there was an inscription in deep red. Adalia, I thought, silently reading the title. I had made maps in the past, endeavoring to guess what the island on which I dwelled looked like as a whole. However, I had never imagined this.
I did know that a very interesting trade system took place in Adalia. There were not many resources in one particular location; they were quite sporadic. Each province had its own special resource to offer the rest of the island, something that the other villages lacked. Winwillow had a great abundance of trees, thus it supplied the island with wood. The Farmlands were fairly self-explanatory; their province consisted entirely of farms. Now, other provinces had farms, but the Farmlands WERE farms. They had a great variety of food (sheep and wheat mostly) and would trade that food to the rest of the island. Aside from that, though, they kept to themselves. Crimera had many varieties of metals to boast of, such as steel, iron, silver, gold, bronze, and an abundance of other valuable items. I began looking at the right side of the map when I felt a hand grab my shoulder.
“What are you doing here?” A loud shrill voice asked. I groaned and turned so that I was facing Clown (who indeed it was) and I could see that he was clearly not happy. “You are not supposed to be on this ship unless you are crew or with command staff!”
“It wasn’t my choice to come here,” I retorted and started walking towards the front of the ship. Even in my annoyance, I noticed that it was oddly shaped, as a big spike curved and sloped into the water. The Mermaid carved on the front was painted in bright colors, with blonde hair and a blue tail.
“You must come with me!” declared Clown, approaching me at the stern. I jumped on the ledge and started dancing around the horn. Clown tried to grab me and pull me off of the ledge, but every time he reached his hands out I would swing to the other side of horn, thus successfully avoiding his grasp. “Get down here boy! Or I’ll-“
“You’ll what? Grab me?” I taunted and continued to evade him. Clown became very frustrated and jumped up onto the ledge with me. He grabbed my tunic and started to tug roughly on the hem. I had never liked Clown in the first place, but I REALLY didn’t like him ordering me around. Clown pulled hard, but I refused to let go of the horn. Suddenly out of nowhere a big red object appeared in the air, flying quickly towards us, and hit Clown in the head, knocking him into the water. I looked in the direction the object had made its dramatic entrance from, and I saw that Clown and I had managed to collect a crowd. This was not the crew I had seen earlier; these men appeared to be movers for the supplies. One of the men slid a crate of apples behind him, trying to conceal the objects used to perform the recent felony. I anticipated Clown’s arrival to the top of the water, his gasping for air and aggravating screams for assistance. But he never surfaced. I stared at the water in perplexity, wondering what course of action to follow. I looked back at the group, expecting them to do something, but to my surprise, they remained perfectly still.
“Aren’t you going to help him?” I asked, staring dumbfounded at them.
“We didn’t like him much anyways,” one in front said with a gruff voice, as a murmur of agreement grew from the rest of the crowd.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “He is going to drown!” I yelled, looking back at the water.
“If you want to save him so much; you go in after him!” yelled a small and stocky man.
I stared at the water that a moment ago appeared beautiful, and now suddenly seemed dark, sinister, and cold. “I can’t swim,” I mumbled, captured by the thought.
“Do you hear that lads? He doesn’t know how to swim!” They all laughed in approval and jeered at me. My anger started to overwhelm me, and I threw off my jerkin and boots and bent my legs. In glancing over my shoulder a final time, I saw a man dressed in brown walking onto the deck. I pushed off with my legs and fell into the icy water.
My body became suddenly rigid as I hit the water and plunged beneath the surface. It was cold, very cold. I floated for a bit, trying to get used to the sting of the salt water in my eyes. I finally opened my eyes and looked around. Momentarily forgetting about the cold, I gawked at my surroundings. The water was blue and clear. I saw the boat, with three quarters of the hull under the surface. On the front end, where the spike protruded into the water, I could see that it slanted down, creating a large bronze bar that stuck out about five feet in front of the main frame. A ram, I thought to myself, now thoroughly convinced that this ship was truly fantastic. I was about to examine it more closely when I recalled the reason that I was down here. I looked around and saw that Clown’s jerkin had snagged on a nail that stuck out of the wood on the dock, leaving him hanging there. Now came the real challenge. I had read about swimming, and had always longed to try it; however, Winwillow had no ocean or large enough lakes for me to actually swim in. I was not entirely certain that I could pull it off. I knew Clown was running out of time, and I was beginning to have trouble clinging to the precious bit of air remaining in my lungs. Hardening my heart, I started moving my legs the way the book I had read said to do. I moved a bit in the water due to the sudden movement, trying to make my way to the pillar of the dock in order to climb down. I managed to kick and flail my way over to it, and I clung on with all of my strength.
I inched down the pillar until I reached Clown. I grabbed his body and slung it over my shoulder, cursing myself for not bringing a rope. As I climbed, his dead weight dragged heavily on my shoulders; I tried, without much success, to figure out how this skinny man could be so heavy. Struggling for air, I managed to slowly claw my way up the pole. I was near the top when a wave hit me and slammed me against the post, knocking all my remaining air out of my lungs. I faltered, trying to breathe, but having no air to do so. Looking up and seeing the light coming through the water, a new sense of urgency came over me. I yanked at the pole, desperately trying to reach the surface. My hand broke the surface for just a moment, and, in that second, I realized that I was completely fed up with this struggle. Despite the splinters in my hands, and the black spots that started to gather in my eyes, I gave one final heave and managed to shove Clown onto the dock. With the little strength I had left, I grabbed the edge of the dock and soon joined Clown, sprawled out on the wood. I gasped for air, but found I had water in my lungs. My vision started to blur, and I vaguely remember a great group gathering around Clown and I, a shoving on my chest, so and then a warm touch on my mouth that on my mouth that sent hot breath streaming into my throat. You have got to get out of the habit of doing this, I thought to myself. I stopped fighting for consciousness and slipped into yet another dream world.
I woke to find myself in a very familiar situation. I was in the same bed in the same room. This time, when I sprung out of bed, I stumbled. I felt very light headed, and my legs were very weak. A few of the side effects of almost drowning I guess. I thought to myself. I grabbed my jerkin (which was at the foot of my bed this time), slipped on my boots, and made for the door. I grabbed the handle and turned it. Stepping out, I started to make my way to the large grey doors, wondering if that was all just a dream, when I bumped into a man with brown hair and a staff in his hands. On my second glance I saw that he was not truly a man, but simply a boy older than me, 20- 22 was my guess at his age. Still, he was much taller than me. I stood awkwardly for a moment and then tried to pass.
“You are in detention, I can’t let you out, or anyone in” the boy with the staff spoke. “You’re just going to have wait here until you are called for.”
“What?” I wondered at this sudden occurrence. I just saved Clowns life, and they treat me like this? I considered that statement for a moment, and then realized that might be the very reason that they were apparently holding me as a prisoner. I gave the boy a sharp glance, not feeling like I could match him in a fight in this state, and walked reluctantly back into my room. The door shut and locked behind me. After about an hour in my homey little prison, during which I sat and did nothing more than contemplate my imprisonment, the door unlatched and May stepped into the room carrying a plate of food.
“You’ve no idea how glad I am to see you!” I exclaimed, jumping up and stumbling yet again. She nodded and put her finger to her lips. I realized that the guard outside must be asleep, so I tiptoed to the door and, after directing May through, quietly pulled it shut. She walked over to the bed and set the tray down, making sure not to spill anything.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, grabbing some plates and spreading food onto them.
“Like someone has been dancing on my chest,” I replied, taking a seat next to her. She passed me a plate, and we both started eating. After my recent adventures, my appetite had practically disappeared, but I really didn’t want to appear rude. We sat silently for a moment, both lost in our own thoughts. I swallowed a mouth full of fish with great difficulty, so I tried to change the subject. “So, what have you been up to of late?” She thought for a moment before answering.
“Not much really.” She replied, still pondering the question. “Apart from you and Clown, not many people have needed medical attention lately, so I’ve had quite a bit of free time.”
“You’re a healer?” I asked in surprise. I had never really interacted much with healers of any sort back in Winwillow, but I was fairly certain that, in order to be a healer, you had to be slightly older than May.
“Yes, I am.” She said laughing at my reaction. There was a pause, and I’m not sure why but I started to rack my brains for more questions, trying desperately to keep the conversation going.
“What do you like to do in your spare time?” I asked, complimenting my brilliance for thinking of something to ask.
“Well, I like to hike, play the lyre, and run in the plains around Fellon Ford whenever I get a chance,” she said, thinking. She seemed to have this habit of making faces while she was thinking. I glanced over at her trying to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t help laughing as she put her mouth to the side, pursing her lips. She gave me a questioning glance, and I shook my head, saying it was nothing. Suddenly there was a rustling outside, and we both fell silent.
“I have to leave now, I’m planning to rehearse a new lyre piece with some of the other musicians in the fort,” she whispered, rising from the bed. I scraped all of the remaining food onto one plate and handed her the tray. I squeezed her hand in a silent thank you, after which she smiled and left. I lay down again on the bed, feeling light headed again and happier than I had been. Sleep soon had pressing plans with me, though, and I passed out the minute I closed my eyes. I woke up feeling much better than I had earlier, but still not very hungry. I stood up and combed my hair in the mirror. I had just sat down again when I heard the door unlatch, and saw two soldiers and Clown walk in. I marveled at how he had been under the water longer then I was, and he only looked a bit pale.
“You will now come to your appointment with General Jaren!” He declared his voice a bit more shrill than normal. I was still far too tired and confused to care, so I got out of bed and followed him out the door.