Two sailing ships; the ‘Tribute’s Revenge’, and the ‘Justice’, were towed from where they’d been hidden along the coast, to put into the dock in Dorian under cover of darkness.
Fifty, dark-skinned warrior women, fully armed and loaded with everything they would need for this campaign, streamed silently out from the city; loaded everything from dockside, and then themselves aboard the vessels; going immediately below decks until they were safely out at sea and beyond the sight of others.
They would be towed out into the inland sea, by ships’ longboats until they caught a breeze.
No one spoke; the situation was too tense for conversation other than for essential orders; to raise the sails and to get out, as far from land as possible before daylight.
They were concerned, as all warriors would be, venturing out into the unknown. None of them knew how this would end, or even if they would survive the long journey ahead of them with its uncertainties. There were the storms, the wind, the waves, the sea creatures, and even the Thorians who sailed, fished, and controlled the inland sea. And that would just be the start of it.
They would call in, under cover of darkness again, to each of the other cities of Weldon, and then Sinden, to pick up others like them.
Their common destination was Fenn.
Once there, they would invade that city and do whatever was necessary to attract the attention of Thorians. It would be a bloodless coup, they hoped.
Their captain was an older, grizzled woman; ‘Merry Meg’, from a town between Dorian and the next city of Weldon, at least two days’ sailing away.
She flew the Thorian Flag; crossed shields and spears, with a large bear in the middle. It would keep others away and discourage curiosity. It had discomforted these women to see that. They seemed to fear everything, Thorian.
Meg had long familiarity with the inland sea; her family being fisherfolk. She never had any other desire than to be where she was now, on the broad expanse of the sea she loved.
During the last two years, she had overseen construction of the two sailing ships in Dorian, from the moment their keels had been laid, to their final outfitting. It had been a difficult two years. These Dorians had no familiarity with, or love for the sea, as she had. They had no heart to listen to her tales of the dangers of the sea, nor her love of the sea shanties that passed the lonely hours when sailors were becalmed and needed comforting.
She had taught them how to sail and to navigate in smaller sailboats with a single sail, never venturing too far out from land. Those had been her instructions.
The sea was the domain of Thorians, and fisher folk. Sea creatures were always ready to pick off a smaller boat, as they had soon learned when one boat had ventured too far out. They had lost three would-be sailors that day when their tiny boat had been smashed and dragged below the surface by a tentacled monster. Those sailors had never been seen again. The rest of them had listened better after that.
Those sailors had been the first casualties of this otherwise, hoped-to-be bloodless war.
Soon, they would feel the vicissitudes of the deeper waters; the endless gigantic waves that had the most seasoned of sailors heading for the side to be sick, while hanging on for dear life.
Meg smiled and touched at the item around her neck under her tunic and cloak, as she often did; a necklace of bear claws.
These soft women below deck had lofty goals, but knew nothing about what awaited them, or about real life.
She watched her compass, and observed the passage of time in those hours of darkness, by the way the candle; well protected in the lantern she could see in a sheltered place, burned away.
From long experience of the sea, she envisaged where they were in her head.
Soon, she would change course again; let another day go by; watch for the sign of the smoking volcano (Tomtom) on the big island of Hera, and then head in toward Weldon under cover of darkness to pick up another fifty warriors.
They would be pale skinned women this time with straw colored hair, and just as naïve of the real world they were heading into.
No matter. This upheaval happened every few generations as the Thorians knew it would. One day, things would change as these women had never intended. Perhaps this, was to be that time
Eventually, they would get used to these turbulent conditions; learn to eat again, and to keep it down. They would have to if they expected to survive the days and weeks of this voyage before they reached the wastelands.
If they thought this voyage was bad… just wait until they got there, and had to trek across that, to Fenn!
The insurrection was beginning.
She reached out to Liam again as she touched her necklace.
We are now setting out my friend. Go easy on them. They have great ambition, grand notions, and lofty ideals, but reality eludes them. A few good storms will soon let them see what life is really like.