Out to Sea
I remained in my room during our disembark. The swaying around me grew more steady as we began to pick up speed and I wished I had spared some coin for a book. It would be two months or so until we hit a nameless island, one used by ships to restock on supplies, and another few months after that to hit the Northern Isles. Many like myself spend most of their lives on ships, the islands were too small to be able to sustain larger populations. Not to mention, the only land that could be farmed on? Located at the Main Ports. Ships often traded food for Old World relics. They weren’t necessarily rare, just extremely hard to get. They lied at the bottoms of our oceans, only those willing to risk their lives swam down great depths to retrieve them.
A knock on my door startled me, and I hurriedly got up to unlock and open it. Another random crew member, who didn’t hide his hungry eyes. I kept my cool, knowing that any wrong move would get me quite literally thrown off the ship. He grinned at me, “Capt’n wants ya.” I nodded, snagging my room key from my boot and locking my door on the way out. I’ve learned the hard way not to trust strangers. I followed the man up to the main deck, where he lead me to what I assumed to be the captain’s quarters. The crew member left, and it wasn’t long before another replaced him.
Captain Douglas huffed whilst he opened the door, flinging his hat over to his bed. He pulled out a chair, dragging it across the wooden floor in a somewhat aggressive manner, and straddled it while resting his arms on the backrest. His eyes pierced mine as he spoke, “how d’ya feel ’bout ta crow’s nest?”
I left out a half-smile as replied honestly, “funny you should mention that, Captain. I actually happened to be stationed there while I was apart of a crew.”
“So ye weren’t lyin’ when ya said that you had experience?”
“Of course,” I laced my fingers together, “I was a crew member for nearly eight years before our Captain was murdered. We shortly disbanded after that due to our losses at sea.”
He hummed in response, turning to the desk behind him and snatching some whiskey, “an’ why ya travellin’ north? Looking for trade? Ya do know there ain’t nothin’ out there.”
“I’m more of looking for… something,” I lied, “and they do have many Old World relics north.”
He grinned, “ah, ya do know yer stuff then.” I nodded. I saw that he glanced at my broken sword, “well, I called ya in here cuz we’re gonna be needing you to pull yer own weight. Make use of yerself.”
“Yes, Captain,” I slightly bowed my head before jerking in surprise as the door slammed open.
“Captain!” The man cried out in panic, “there’s another fight!”
Captain Douglas groaned as he stood, slamming the half-drunken whiskey on the table before muttering, “bastards,” and followed the man out, myself trailing behind. Sure enough, a brawl going on between two shipmates. Captain Douglas motioned me to go to the crow’s nest while he walked over to the fight. I unsheathed the knife on my waist and smoothly began climbing the mast below the nest, watching as the captain began chewing out the two men, who hung their heads in shame. When the captain turned around, I had already pulled myself over the railing, and looking down as I climbed, it took him a moment to notice that I watched him from the top. I couldn’t be sure, but he seemed impressed. Whatever it took to remain on the captain’s good side meant that I wouldn’t be thrown overboard.
Out in the distance, the storm brewed angrily. I, and I’m sure the captain, understood the risk of running away from a storm. But many people were desperate. Late shipments would sometimes cost your life. It was a world that I still had trouble growing accustomed to, but I hoped that I wouldn’t need to stay any longer.
I remained there until the sun began to sink below the horizon, and a man came up and simply said, “we’re switching.” I hopped over the railing and quickly made my way down the mast until my feet hit the deck, and I went to wander back to my room. I didn’t make it far before someone grabbed the sleeve of my shirt, turning me around. Another stranger to me, asking if I wanted food. Agreeing, I followed him down a different path. We found ourselves in the dining hall, and he showed me to a seat before heading off to who seemed to be his friends. Plates flew by full of food, and I made sure to be quick to grab what passed before me. I could tell those around me weren’t too comfortable with me being near them. I didn’t pay them much attention, eating the food on my plate while they watched with mild interest.
A loud clattering noise from across the room startled those facing away from it, including me. I whipped my head around to find a tall, bulky man with scars littering his skin staring at me with wide eyes, sputtering, “Cerr… Cerridwen?”
I felt my mouth drop, and I could feel myself shaking in shock, “Uncle Baird? But-” I could see the tears pooling in his eyes and he held his arms open. I spun off the bench and launched myself into his arms.
“Aye, ye’ve grown!” He managed to choke out while crushing me in his arms, “why, lass, I haven’t seen ye since-” I could only share his tears while he sobbed. I could feel the tension in the room, but the overwhelming sense of home comforted me. He gave me one more squeeze before pulling away, resting his hands on my shoulders, looking over me while reminiscing, “tis been ’ow long now, eh? Ten years?”
I laughed through my tears, “oh, no! I think eight, I was eight when Jones found me. And I was with everyone for four years or so…” I trailed off, glad to finally see a familiar face but saddened at the loss we suffered. I knew he felt my pain, as he gave me a painful smile in response.
“I’d ne’er would ’ave thought I’d see ye again, lass. What a wonderful surprise! You must be the lookout the Cap’n ‘ired then? Good thin’ too, ye always did yer job well.” He patted me on the back and went to begin to clean up the things he dropped, clearly holding back tears. I quickly helped him.
“Baird, t’e hell happened,” I heard the captain from behind us, Baird being quick to reply so I didn’t bother looking.
“Douglas! Ye ne’er tol’ me t’at ye broug’t t’is one aboard!” He grinned at me, “ye practically reunited me wit’ my lon’ lost child!”
I looked back at Douglas who gave me the side-eye, “how do ye know her?”
“W’y, she was Capt’n Jones’ crow!” Baird laughed at everyone’s shocked faces, including Captain Douglas’s, “as a wee lil’ one too!” Douglas gave me a sharp glare.
I only returned a sort of half, sheepish smile while muttering, “I told you I had experience…”
He only huffed, ordering Baird to the clean the mess up before marching off past us. The air around him smelled heavy of rum and whiskey, and I watched him carefully. Something about him made me nervous, but there wasn’t much I could do about that. We finished cleaning, and Baird let me finish my food while he went to dispose of the mess. We met back up outside where the air began to bite you as the sun had been gone for quite some time. Uncle Baird told me about his adventures after the crew split, and I told him of my travels. He didn’t know about why Jones and I were so adamant about exploring every inch of land this world had to offer, and he thankfully didn’t question it. Men danced in drunken states, and it wasn’t too long before a silence blanketed the ship. Uncle Baird walked with me to my room, and we began reminiscing a little more about the stories he would tell me as a kid. Eventually, we parted ways. The swaying of the ship and seeing a familiar face brought me more comfort than I could have asked for in these times.