Growing Tides

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The Journal of Skipper Nejrat (III)

Fourth Argo 1E91Y

We finally made port in Bordunyal. I did not get to frequent the western coast of Palridian often. Traversing around the continent by ship was considered fiscal suicide, but the Scylla had given Baro -and myself- the freedom to do so. Well, I say “freedom” but it was more an obligation, a duty, if not a burden.

We had considered many a port along the east coast, but word of the captain’s murder and the coup Squall orchestrated must have spread like wildfire once the Leviathan had landed, and there was no way we weren’t the patsies for it. Word was slower to spread west, the people simpler. No offense meant to these mountain dwellers, these rugged individuals, but even the journal I had purchased for the sake of this entry felt more like pulp than parchment. I’ll be copying it down in a true journal, once I get the chance --but therein lies the issue.

We had been adrift then castaways for close to eight months, and our mannerisms and overall dispositions had suffered and decayed. Most of my blue had been taken from my skin, replaced by this garish shroud of gray. It was a gift, a memento of that horrid day. Though his outward appearance hadn’t changed much, Baro’s waves were more blunt, to the point. Maybe that’s why the people of Bordunyal accepted us so willingly, if not uncomfortably graciously. We reminded them so much of their kin that it was a probability that they thought we were forgotten family. That didn’t change the fact we did not trust them, so we gave them fake names.

With any hope, even if news does arrive through the mountains, it will be so washed and distorted that all would remain would be our names. Even they couldn’t track us to those. Until then, Baro and I both agreed to simply lay low and listen, then decide what we are going to do next.

Eighteenth Argo 1E91Y

Two weeks had passed since we made port in Bordunyal. We have yet to hear any word return of our “misdeeds”. Were there tales? Did Squall spread it? Was Tys able to dissuade and disperse them before they ever even fostered? I would love to know, just as much as I would love to hear even a whisper otherwise. The sooner we can leave the better; the Terrahn at this port are a bit too... curious.

Fifth Sernai 1E91Y

Another fortnight passed. Although I love the splendor of the land, the grand heights of the mountains and their soft white caps, I was growing a touch... anxious. I yearned to be on the ocean once more, to be on the Scylla. I had never been or even seen another boat like her. After all, a collaboration between the Aqua Alliance and the Zephyrians? You had more likely a chance to find ice in Ignes’s domain.

No word still spread to this part of the country. I had spoken to the locals about traders that came and went, and they stated it took months for any to arrive from the east, but that word would reach in weeks along the road. “If there wasn’t any word now, there was a good chance there was none to be had,” the elder of the village told me.

I shall bring this point up to Baro tonight. He hasn’t been himself; maybe he is as weary of these simple folks as I was. Perhaps that was why he locked himself away in the captain’s quarters until dusk. In any case, the declaration that we can move along should add some wind back into his sails.

Twelfth Sernai 1E91Y

I had waited the week that Baro advised to, and now I am more ready than ever to haul anchor and be on. A Terrahn lass had taken quite the interest in me. Though I found her compliments flattering, her company amicable, I am afraid we must be off before she becomes too enamored. I shudder to think of the consequences her desires could bring upon the world, and so I find myself writing this as I storm across the bridge of the Scylla and up its stairs to Baro’s quarters. The ship was more than well-stocked now, done by my hands, worked on day after day to fill it by working with these simple individuals, so the least he can do now is get behind the wheel and get us moving.

He did.

Sixth Halwen 1E91Y

I finally got a moment to breathe and write once more. We made port in Carapai, due to my pressing for us to go. Being the only one tending the ship, even one of this size, is no small feat. I swear that when I become captain of my own vessel I shall keep this in mind: No one, not even the captain, is above menial labor.

He must have seen this himself, considering how long it took us to go under the waves, for the ship to hit the Current around Caparai.

The looks we already got as we made port had been enough advertisement. People were already lining up on the bridge to meet the captain; I would be meeting them, myself, but I actually put in all the effort so far. Surely, he can handle a bit of the meet-and-greet.

Tenth Halwen 1E91Y

While Baro continued to handle recruitment, I decided to head out into town, earning a bit of R and R, myself. Though I could have slept the entire time away inside the galley, I had a hunger, and not for food. I needed to know what happened to the Leviathan, and the traitor on-board.

News already looked bleak. A different Aceon, one that went by Jho, had taken the title of captain of the vessel. There was no news on Tys nor Squall. However, it was the other news that made my skin crawl, that made me wish that I had never heard it.

It turns out Baro and I were dead.

Tonight I told Baro the news. He was as perplexed as I was. After all, we still had a pulse. We still walked among the living, so, unless the Dark One had given us a new definition of such, it may seem that the news of our demise was untimely at best, and maliciously fallacious at worst.

We would have explored more deeply into this philosophical notion of being dead yet not, but the Arbiters of the city came aboard. They demanded to know who we truly were, why we were defiling the names of two, proud, honorable, dead men.

We tried to make it clear that we were those people, at least I did, but they would not listen to us. It seems that we had gathered something of respect, even in death, and so we decided then and there would be the best time to leave. The twenty in the galley would simply have to do, and they helped us to subdue the six Arbiters that had come on board. We shall decide what to do with them come breach.

Fifteenth Halwen 1E91Y

It was a tough decision. The crew, the captain, and even myself considered many different options for the Arbiters. Hanging them all from the yardarm and listen to their pleas was a popular choice, though a tad too crass and barbaric for my liking. Another popular one, for some unknown reason, was to strip them down, cover them in scrubbing lard, then let them loose on the poop deck. Luckily, it was struck down by the captain forthwith, but the question of why so many wanted that, considering the majority of the Arbiters aboard were Aceon, is lost upon me.

What we did come to an agreement to, though, was that the Arbiters must not be harmed, something I thought the captain would understand. We needed to show we were not monsters but the lost and forgotten, and so we extended an offer: join us as part of the crew. Out of the six, four joined with little-to-no hesitation, while the rest that held off immediately changed their minds once the runic turbines churned. I knew that spark in their eyes, for it was the same one that was in mine when I first saw her take flight.

Seventh Har 1E91Y

We ran out of supplies.

I tried to warn Baro that we wouldn’t have enough to last a month, but he refused to listen. “If we ever need supplies, we’ll make port.” He said that four days ago when I warned him we were running drastically low on the essentials, when I advised him that, though it wasn’t a necessity yet, it’s better to be ahead of necessity, bordering on minimum.

And now? Here we are, far off in the Barator Sea, far from Palridian or Tartarus or even Balvot, which was the closest at two days’ flight. It wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t already told the crew to start rationing. Many were starting to become delirious, from either scurvy’s bite or the sun’s, drinking what little water they have in them. The latter wouldn’t be an issue; I would simply have to have the captain lower to water level so I can haul up several buckets of salt to cover the tarps. It was the fruit that was the issue. Unless a mystic island comes to our aid again, I highly doubt some of the men will make it long.

Eighth Har 1E91Y

How I wish a fine damsel with a voluptuous crest and smooth legs would fall into my lap from the heavens above... it was worth a shot, at least.

No more than an hour after I had wrote it, my nonsensical prayer was answered. Like the isle in the mist, it seemed to appear out of the blue. We probably would have missed it if we were sailing along the ocean. Its grass and foliage seemed one with the sea, moving with it in harmony. However, from above, you could see the red stars that were the flower’s and tree’s blossoms and on them were some of the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted. I sampled one before any of the others were desperate enough to mutiny for it, in case it was poisoned. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but we aren’t done with this island. There’s something about it... Something... well, mystical.

Fifteenth Har 1E91Y

Did I say mystical? I meant prophetic.

The forest and foliage was only the surface of what the isle had hid. It was very much a good thing we did not sail near it; there were dozens of ships, if not hundreds, lined up along its coast, just under the water, taken by the dark blue teeth there. The place was a trap for any who went searching, but why? As far as I was aware, there were no old tales or legends spoken of this far east in the Barator Sea, nor this close to Balvot.

Especially this close to Balvot.

Those winged schemers would have plucked away any treasure or bauble that even had a hint of interest out this way, yet some of these ships dated back to the first Carapai, when the ships were made with hollowed shells and pearls instead of ferrisom bark. There was a fair share of Terra Force ships from all eras as well, including present designs.

I requested the captain to allow me to lead search on the isle... I have yet to receive an answer. Then again, whatever was in his quarters seemed far more interesting than this isle steeped in legend, so it may take a bit of time for him to understand the gravitas of the situation.

I implored him. I begged him. I demanded he change his course.

Leaving now when there was a chance for something greater, something to warrant this aimless venturing, was absolutely asinine. However, he refused to listen, and didn’t even falter until half the crew stood beside me. They were just as curious, as thirsty for knowledge. That passion soon seeped into the other half, with all but the captain now wanting to stay.

“What about your precious supplies?” He stated. “Won’t you need them?”

But of course, but I advised that he and a handful of the crew could run and get it while we explored. The fruit on the isle was truly a miracle; it filled with barely any substance but gave such vim and vigor. It would easily last us the two days it would take him and the skeleton crew to restock and return.

I implored him. I demanded him. We demanded him, and what did he do?

He returned to his quarters, saying he’ll think about it.

Well, he can think all wants. I’m going down there, and I’m going to explore.

Twenty-Eighth Har 1E91Y

It was a good thing I was right about my statement of the fruit. It had sustained me for the time Baro decided to take off. There were only three of us that had prepared for the trip. The front team, to break the path and set a trail. We did... until we heard the ship rumble away overhead. We only had two canteens between us and some rough, brown cord to leave a trail through the blue, but that soon ran out. We weren’t even into the forest that covered the isle. Also, something else became very clear as the ship left: we weren’t alone, and we weren’t welcome.

It was as if eyes followed us day and night. There was never a moment of rest where the skin on my head didn’t pulse. My eyes were always tinged with red and yellow, and I was the most collected out of our group. By the fourth day, Cornelius decided to simply walk into the forest with his sword bared, screeching... until he was silenced. And not silenced as we would have wanted. We could have accepted a squelching silence, maybe a quick hiccup of surprise, or even a thud, but it was if he was simply... gone. Nothing.

Maybe it was because of such a whimpering end that Emilia didn’t lose heart. In truth, if she wasn’t there, I doubt I would have made it. She was stout for a Cephamorian, but her attitude was as spiky as her shell, a cone of milky cream and sage green. Her eyes were like daggers piercing through it all, rimmed in blood red, and I found myself growing ever more thankful that she was there. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner through that forest, but it was all worth it for what we found on the other side. Suddenly, all my talk of prayers, prophecies, and mysticism were more than simply romantic passings.

There was a temple... Sadly, we couldn’t find out what was inside it. It’s not like we haven’t tried, even against our own self-preservation. We walked the forty yard stone path to the steps, passed forty carved marble plinths along the way. Off to either side we could see mirroring paths, all closing in on this towering building of white and gold and blue. So much blue.

It was as if we were walking through that ship graveyard, wading gently through the stony teeth towards our own isle, as the blue grass around held its own dangers, blending into the blue stone that wove into the white and gold. Alas, Emilia was the first to find out the consequence; it was a miracle she got away with two of her limbs, but even then she kept her pride. She refused to let this place win.

We reached the stairs, thirty steps high, but there were no tricks to these. Simply walk up and to the entrance. One of three if I had to presume, and all must have had the same blue door. What was rather queer was that it had a hand print in its middle, that of a Terrahn but with Cephamorian suckers. Did this mean a Cephamorian and a Terrahn must press it together? What awaited inside... Alas, with no Terrahn amongst us, all we could do was slam against the door, try to fill in the gap, but to no avail.

And so we waited, sitting in the arch, day after day, eating the fruit, wondering when... if Baro would return.

Thankfully he did, and even brought an unexpected gift: volunteer Terrahn... I sort of left out the door when I was telling him all this, but told him we could be onto something grand tomorrow because of them. He was rather sullen, but was at least happy that I was alive... and right.

We should not have opened it.

We should not have let curiosity win.

Emilia and the Terrahn... their screams, what they became. I can still see their faces, watch as they turned into those... things then turn against the crew as they drew their blades. Whatever was in the temple, whatever waited inside, was not worth the risk. I’m so sorry, Emilia... and I’m sorry, captain, for letting this happen.

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