Isolde: Blood-Rose Guardians (a supplementary novella)

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Sea Voyage

Tristan arrived not in a rickety little raft like the monks did, but in a grand ocean-going ship. The entire island had turned out to greet the ship which offered new supplies, if not freely given, then under the threat of the blade in exchange for fresh water. I was surprised to see Tristan climb down onto the row boat to come ashore with the landing party. I knew not whether to smile or run and hide. What was his purpose in coming back to the site of my exile? My heart felt joyous as the torment of loss lifted and it beat in time with his. He took me in his arms immediately and planted a kiss as though he had never meant to leave me. Tears ran down my cheeks and I fretted over what his return would mean to me. Would he leave me again and plunge my heart back into the depths of depression and oblivion? Would he take me away with him this time; could we have a life together? Was he here to kill me and break the blood-bond that must have tortured him as thoroughly as it had tortured me? I knew naught but questions and felt as though they might drown me themselves. He said nothing, but his kiss told me that he had missed me dearly and I revelled in that physical admission. He carried me to the home we had built together, raised his eyebrows at the goat that balanced on the stone wall nibbling to top most buds of the nettles from his perch, and then walked toward the door.

The door was nearly forced from its mounting as he charged the room and headed directly for the bed, his intention clear as it bulged at his front. He wore tights, a weird piece of apparel if there ever was one, but one that allowed me to appreciate the excitement of his manhood fully. Things had changed in the wider world in my absence and I felt a pang of loss for not knowing the state of affairs beyond this island.

He lifted my skirts, not waiting to remove my clothing at all and lowered his tights only enough to release the monster within them. He plunged into me without the slightest hint of foreplay and had I not already been aroused by the view of those tights, I am sure his lack of consideration would have hurt me; but from the moment he took me into his arms I was moist with anticipation and he was able to pound into me thoroughly as though it had been the full six months since he had found such release. I doubted it had been that long for him, and because of my need to gain blood, it certainly hadn’t for me. It was different with Tristan though. He knew my body and he knew how to please me, and even as he thrust within my tender folds, he nibbled at the base of my ear and scraped his fangs across my throat. Had I not felt his heart racing with mine, I might have feared this man who had still not spoken to me but had forced his way within my loins without the slightest hesitation. He leant backward and lifted me fully so that I was impaled upon his thrusting blade. I sat virtually in his lap as he pulled me hard down upon him, thrusting all the way to the core of me it seemed. I felt more of him in this position and though I was still more than a little overwhelmed by his sudden return, I embraced the tightening of my groin that indicated the impending orgasm. I arched back as it claimed me and then lent forward and bit into his throat. I felt his hot surge inside of me and then his fangs penetrate my own tanned skin.

I savoured every drop of his fruit-flavoured blood. It was so sweet and fragrant and laced with the endorphins of sex. I could barely believe that he was here in my arms; and but for the radiant pleasure I felt, I would not have believed it to be true, but more of a dream. I knew not why he had returned to me and daren’t ask in case he left me as quickly as he arrived. I placed my ear to his chest and listened as his heart beat its steady rhythm in time with mine. That beat, that had caused me such sadness for the past season, suddenly filled me with joy and reminded me of the love we had shared.

He stayed with me the rest of the day, making love and telling me tales of the changing world and explaining to me the need to wear tights, through the short night, and in the morning when his ship was ready to sail. He beckoned me to collect my most important belongings and took me to the ship. We shared a small cabin. The pitch and roll of the ship on the ocean waves kept me in a perpetual state of nausea. I tried to keep my stomach full, but failed time and again. I sat by the small window in our room and hoped for a salt-laden breeze to refresh me of my ills, but mostly I was greeted by the stench of what lay below decks. It wasn’t pleasant and I had no desire to explore the lower half of the ship given the scent of fetid flesh, excrement and decay that rose from the hull. I welcomed the smell of fresh pitch, for the powerful petroleum smell of it drowned out the less delicate perfume of the lower boat. On the deck the air was fresh and crisp, but the movement of the boat was almost overbearing and not long after I had been refreshed by the ocean breeze, my stomach would surely turn and I would need to lean over the rail and empty what little contents my stomach had managed to retain over the side. The water from Iceland towards our southern goal was chummed with my vomit: an unappealing mix of blood, apple, potato and fish. The older sailors (sea dogs they called themselves), lacked teeth and limbs thanks to the ravages of scurvy. That was the price these men paid for their freedom upon the sea. I had no doubt that amongst the crew was a dangerous set of thieves and other criminals. I never left the cabin unescorted by Tristan and I never slept alone. He stayed by my side, and had the constant desire to vomit not reminded me of the dark future I was bound for, I would have enjoyed having him as a constant tender presence in my life.

Tristan had indicated that we were sailing south to explore a new land south of the equator now that it had been established by Portuguese and Spanish sailors that it was impossible to sail off the ends of the ocean. It was a several month journey across the azure sea. We passed from the icy winds of Iceland to the warm tropics with its tepid seas and blistering sun, onward we journeyed crossing an expanse of uninterrupted ocean so boundless it left the greatness of ancient Rome fallowing as insignificant as a mosquito against a butterfly. On a few treasured occasions we would stop on a small island to take on fresh supplies. Tristan would take me ashore and let me rest on the beach sand. I feared always that I would be exiled on one of these supply drops, here in the remoteness of the ocean, but after the crew had collected fresh water and local fruits, Tristan would take me back upon the ship. I was weak and ill from the constant loss of my stomach contents and the overwhelming nausea that claimed me in a constant barrage against my senses. For the duration of our sea voyage, Tristan was kind and considerate. He cared for me and in the rare moments when my arousal for him outweighed the nausea, he made sweet love to me – although those moments were few and far between I thoroughly enjoyed them. The crew, however, did not as it meant the sea was calm and we were without wind. The doldrums were as calm as if we sat on land and it was only when we hit a pocket of such inactivity that the nausea dissipated and I could enjoy the view, enjoy the air, and enjoy Tristan’s body above me and within me.

Although I had suspected it, I had not known for sure that I was being taken to a new place of exile.

“Land ho!” Cried the ratty sailor in the crow’s nest and pointed to the western horizon.

There was a great scramble of activity as the crew enthusiastically jumped into action. The rigging was altered to set us on a course for the new land, previously uncharted on the Captain’s map. The Captain was a Dutch man and we sailed aboard his Dutch ship toward a land so far south no-one had thought to look for it until now. The sea shallowed as we crossed onto the Continental Shelf and the land mass grew ever closer. My heart raced with Tristan’s he knew something I didn’t and I didn’t like it. As we drew up as close to shore as the Captain dared, a group of ebony-skinned people congregated upon the shore.

They seemed as unsure of us as we were of them. They were tall and thin and mostly naked. Their skin was so much darker than any I had seen before and they stood together watching us in a manner that suggested a sense of community. The children were held at the centre between the women, all of whom stood behind a line of men carrying long javelin-like spears. They didn’t seem threatened, but were cautious all the same. They sat on the shore of their land, and we sat on the ship, watching them watching us.

As night fell and the stars began to shine brightly in the black sky, I realised I was a very long way from home. I could not recognise a single constellation above me. The only familiar sight was the moon starting its ascent above the horizon. I knew not where I was nor where I feared I would be exiled by Tristan, for I was certain, the excitement he had felt earlier in the day was a result of his having found a new isolated location to keep me trapped. The people on the shore lit a fire and sang in an unrecognisable language beside its golden glow. They huddled together against the cooling night air and pulled their wild-looking dogs in closely for extra warmth. We weighed anchor under cover of darkness and slipped silently along the coastline of this expansive land. We stayed off-shore for several days and looked up at great cliffs that bordered the sea for several more. Eventually, a smaller section of the landmass, far more appealing than the wide brown land we had first encountered rocked lazily on the horizon as the ship approached. This area had tall trees and looked infinitely more inviting than that which we had observed in recent days. Tristan’s heart beat at speed again and I suspected I viewed my new exile.

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