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BRINGER of BALANCE - Book II of THE LAND series

By smatusky All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 27 - Tides of Kilpan

It took a day and a half to reach the Valley of the Giants. Captain Drischoll had arrived a month earlier and our friendly giants helped prepare our ships for the journey back to Noore. We would have to cross the Tides of Kilpan, which from the Captain’s perspective was no more difficult than taking a bath, but I never saw his men take a bath!

I spoke the next night to a gathered alliance and recounted the events that had transpired since our meeting with the protectors. I had to justify my actions for peace all over again and was worried clan members would revolt. Thankfully, they did not and I was able to introduce them to Shawn. Tilly and two hundred other protectors waited for Shawn’s news of our success before showing themselves to my human companions.

I had been eager to see Riley and tell him everything that had happened. Besides, just being apart from him made the task of keeping a unified force with immortals quite difficult. They had questions about the protectors and the future I could not answer without my king. My grandmother was right – some matters at hand needed my attention. How would we introduce protectors to the leaders of Noore or Palleo? What exactly would humans or protectors gain from our union? How could we use our knowledge to benefit the world? So many questions emerged that I wrote them down in an attempt to remember what people asked me.

“They’re here!” shouted one of my young scouts atop her elegant gray crane. And with her flew forty Nocteens divided equally on either side. I sensed tension rise in the Giants. The stories about the winged people of the were never positive.

I ran through town followed by hundreds of people twisting through busy streets that were bustling with the same brute force as always. More young scouts took off and circled the incoming party. They strolled in with their horses and carriages, clashing with the Giants way of life. Some protectors circled from above as large birds and others followed behind Riley’s massive assemblage.

“Riley!” I shouted, spotting him in no time. It was a happy reunion, similar to the time when I had been sick and separated from my small alliance. Everyone thought I had died. Then I remembered how Sir Edward helped bring our alliance together. I felt anxious while searching the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

“What’s the news of Sir Edward?” I asked Riley. “Has he spoken with you?”

“Briefly.” He said while guiding the horse pulling our cart. “He asked where you were.”

“Really? Did he say anything else?” Riley shook his head. My glimmer of hope had sparked and faded just as quick.

“Rose,” he asked. “Is she…?”

“Yes.” I said. I’m sure Riley understood my reluctance to discuss my most recent trip to the West. “After we set up camp we can share our thoughts. There’s much to discuss. I’m really happy to see you.” We rode on our carriage and waved to people who were glad to see us together again.

That evening I spoke with Riley about our alliance and the questions that needed answers. I heard a baby’s cry from Devin’s campsite. Shrealock’s news about the lack of children in my future flashed through my mind. I had been momentarily distracted with my thoughts then remembered I had never shared his ill tidings with Riley.

“What is it?” he asked. I could not hide my depression.

“The morning I left to see Rose, Shrealock spoke with me. He shared some troublesome news about us, but in my haste I neglected to tell you about it.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He told me he does not see a child in our future.” Riley was confused. Surely he believed our sexual interactions would have eventually led to having a child of our own.

“Unlike Devin and Rhaida?” he asked, “we will never produce a new being like the male, Christian?” His words were so much like a protector’s.

“I don’t think we will.” I continued with the disheartening news. “He said that I have to rest and recover from our trials. Maybe if I find peace within I can begin a new life. At this time, though, Shrealock doesn’t see a child in our future, and neither do I.” I looked up at the glittery stars over the . Something about not bringing life into our world seemed quite depressing.

“Did you want to have offspring?” he asked.

“I always believed we would. Having a child just seemed natural to me. But Shrealock thinks that a child created by us, if magical like me, could be dangerous to our world. Maybe it’s better this way.” I glanced back at him and smiled, but he was unsettled.

“I never considered the complexities of starting a new life. It really bothers you, doesn’t it?” I nodded to him but said I would be fine. We were alive and together.

The next morning I savored the breaking of a new day, especially after bringing together so many of our separated alliance members. Salt air blew on my face while an old anchor embedded in the sand served as a backrest.

“Is there any room in your life for a jackass?” I heard and glanced behind me. Sir Edward walked barefoot in the sand toward me.

“I don’t understand. What do you mean?” I asked.

“I’ve been thinking and trust me, thinking is not one of my finest attributes…” he explained, “I’m stubborn and dimwitted. But over time I thought about what you and Riley did that day on the mountain when speaking with the protectors. My war was black and white. There was no mistaking what had to be done, yet it took several times reading your letter to understand the battle you faced. Here I was ready to risk my life for war, but you! You risked your life for peace. Can you forgive an old fool?”

“Of course.” I said and patted the sand next to me, offering him a place to sit.

“Is it true what your king has been thinking? I read his thoughts late last night.”

“What did you read from him?” I asked.

“That no child will be in your future. What’s the news of your grandmother?” Sir Edward stared at me with the same concerned look I had truly missed.

“It’s true, no children. Nor does any of my family remain. I’ve felt alone before, but I often find comfort in friends.”

“Sorry.” he said quietly.

“What of Sara?” I asked. Although I felt uneasy about mentioning her name, it seemed appropriate to share.

“I have thought much about her. Actually, it was your Shrealock fellow who spoke with me and caused me to ponder my unreasonable attitude. ‘The past is gone,’ he said. ‘It can be remembered and savored, but should never be dwelt upon. Where are you now?’

“With that question I searched and saw a harsh old man who had just tossed out the one person in his life that meant as much to him as his own daughter. I’m so sorry, Crystal. I should not have let you go like that. As much as I hate admitting that I need anything, I really need you in my life. I think Sara would understand.”

“I think you’re right. I missed you.” And, with a tight squeeze, the best father in the world came back into my life.

“Hoist the main sail!” shouted Captain Drischoll to his crew. We were heading back under the watchful eye of our protector companions. Traveling alongside us was Lord Raine and a number of added companions from Sierrow, Gurgand and the . Our longtime friend, Gullane, stayed in Gurgand with his intended wife, Autumn. He deserved a rest, even though I doubted any Giant ever rested.

“Are you sure about traveling the Tides?” Lord Raine asked the captain. “Maybe the Queen can use magic or protectors could fly you through?”

“Nonsense,” Captain Drischoll protested. “Coming here those waves were smooth sailing all the way!”

“Of course they were.” said Lord Raine. “The waves always carry a ship into shore. It’s leaving the edge of Palleo that’s deadly. We will be traveling into the waves, not with them!” Our friendly giant now appeared more worried than ever, along with everyone else who heard his response.

“Tides along the bow!” shouted a crewman from atop the mast.

“Criminy! Why didn’t anyone tell me that before?” the captain said while rushing to his wheel.

“Hey there, Missy!” he yelled to me. “Think you can give us any of those winds of yours?” I conjured up some clouds and my winds quickly caught the sails.

“Riley, have our scouts spread word,” I whispered into his ear. I did not want to express any lack of confidence in our captain. “Anyone who can fly should do so right now.”

“Everyone down below!” Captain Drischoll shouted while he secured himself to the maypole with two ropes.

Seven ships sailed in line. Two were Lord Raine’s giant ships from Gurgand that housed many more humans than our original boats. Although we had fewer supplies to haul, our alliance was packed in tightly. Even if just one boat capsized there would be no place to put everyone.

I believed I could have levitated the fleet over the waves until I caught a glimpse of the first wave. Riley, Sir Edward, and I peeked out from the upper hatch. A wall of water fifty feet high appeared to reach for the sky. We were headed straight for it and closed the hatch a moment before impact. The boat had been pushed up vertically and we were tossed around the cabin along with anything that was not tied down.

“This is exciting!” said Gene, our now-clothed protector, and he watched Riley flip over top of him.

“Sure, it’s exciting for you,” Riley sputtered in anger. “You can’t die!”

After the first hard hit we settled into various places around the upper cabin and tied ourselves down. I concentrated on the wind outside, hoping it would speed us pass the Tides as quickly as possible.

“How many more waves should we expect?” Sir Edward asked Lord Raine. Like our first sailing trip, he was terribly seasick once again.

“It could be ten or twenty, depending on our speed.”

No one said a word at his response. I could not imagine even five more waves like the first one. The ship would snap in half!

The ship tilted upward again and any item that had not been tossed on the first hit toppled over. Luckily we were strapped in.

“Gene,” I said when the swaying subsided. “Come here a moment.” He stood up and staggered over to me. “Can you ask the others to help the ships through the tides? Maybe they can guide us somehow and keep the boats from toppling over.”

“Sure thing, Missy,” said Gene. He had heard the captain call me Missy a number of times and seemed to enjoy his lingo. Gene’s clothes were in a pile on the floor and he shot straight up through the deck.

“I hope they can help!” yelled Riley while grasping the side of the boat as the ship tilted sideways this time. “Whoa, that was close. It felt like we were going over.”

“Straighten out, you damn harlot!” The captain screamed aloud from above. I decreased the winds a bit and doubted anything would help. If we were sideways when the next wave hit, there would be no saving us.

“Arggg!” We heard as the Captain’s strained voice faded. It was torture not knowing what was happening. A wave must have hit us from the side because the ship leaned over more than before. Just as we were about to tip over, something impacted the ship. We were being pushed from the side and there was another bang along the other side of the ship.

“What do you think it is?” Lord Raine yelled.

“The protectors!” Riley laughed. “I’m sure they’ve braced the ships on either side and are steering us into the waves.”

I imagined the winds outside gaining strength and before long we were back on course, hitting each wave straight on.

“That was fifteen.” said Lord Raine. “We should now have passed the underwater ridge that causes the tides.”

We waited and one more wave hit the ship, though it was nothing like the first.

“Do you think it’s over?” I asked. Lord Raine nodded. I untied my waist from the pole that had kept me in place and peeked outside. The sun was shining and everything was calm.

“Outta my way!” said Sir Edward and he threw back the hatch. He rushed by me in a flash and hung over the side of the ship. I doubted he would keep anything down the entire trip after what we experienced.

Hoards of people came up from the belly of the boat while the captain stood at the wheel. He held a flask, and we noticed his hands were shaking terribly.

“You seem to have survived,” said Gene, who was once again naked among the crowd.

“Oh, would you please get your clothes back on!” Sir Edward barked at him in disgust.

“Thanks, Gene, and ask the protectors to join us on the ships. Maybe we can show them our gratitude,” I said.

“If anyone wants me,” the captain shouted, “I’ll be in my cabin. And I’ll be drunker than a rodent trapped in a barrel of whisky. Good night!” We heard cheers from the crew and then the rest of us joined in as Captain Drischoll left for his cabin. Our tough sea captain had taken quite an unexpected bath.

“At least it should be smooth sailing from now on.” Wolfe said to Riley and me.

“Maybe smooth sailing on the water, but we’ll have rough waters ahead between us and When we get back I’ll need your help, Wolfe.”

“Really?” he asked. I began to explain our problems with We had to find Sir Gabrial, especially after everything he had done for us. He pledged his loyalty to the King and Queen, and we owed him our allegiance, no matter how difficult the task.

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