The sun was hiding beneath stormy looking clouds when we left the small fisherman’s bar. The warmth from earlier was gone, replaced by a cold and wet breeze that made even me shiver. The waters below were in turmoil. The sloshing of the waves before was nothing compared to the large waves that crashed into the peer. There was no place on the dock to avoid the cold saltwater.
Eventually, a modest boat stood before us. It wasn’t the smallest boat connected to the dock. A lot of the fishermen went out on small rickety rowboats that could only hold two people. It was, however, one of the smallest merchant vessels I’d seen on the water. Our trip would be lengthy. I worried the boat wouldn’t be able to handle the long voyage. I didn’t want to sink.
The boat had a single sail and oars attached to the side of the vessel. Its wooden hull was in good shape but the barnacles growing on the side of the ship indicated that it had been on the water for a good number of years.
Two dirty sailors were scrubbing down the deck. Their hair was long and scraggly, with beards equally as unkempt. The clothes that draped over their light frames looked like one bad storm away from disintegrating. Their bare hands and feet were calloused.
Barrels filled with drinking water sloshed around as the boat was bumped around by the waves. The small amount of measly goods Mark and Malik had traveled with were also on board the boat. Mark wouldn’t tell me what he was carrying, always ignoring the question whenever I asked. I assumed he was embarrassed of his little things. I liked little things but I didn’t want to hurt the man’s ego so I let him keep his secret.
“Welcome aboard,’ mumbled the captain who I had met earlier. “ Before we take off onto the sea, I’d like you to introduce you to my crew. They’re a good lot so I hope you treat em well on this long voyage.”
Three men moved to greet us. Two of them were the men I’d seen earlier. The other sailor wasn’t like the scrappy unkempt men. Well, he was unkempt, but his bulging stomach and chubby cheeks suggested he at least got to eat more often than the thin sailors.
“These two here are Dunk and Eyes,” the captain stated pointing at the two thin sailors. “And over here is my nephew Borris. Borris is still pretty new to sailing so don't be too harsh on my boy.”
“No worries. I’m sure he’ll do a great job!” exclaimed Mark.
Malik turned to cough, before regaining his composure. I took Malik for a calm individual but times like this made me question whether he was actually mellow or putting on an act. Malik was a weird guy so I didn’t give it more thought.
“The seas be brewin, so don’t be surprised if I need your hands on the oars. Especially that big rock fella.”
I just grunted.
We’d been sailing on the sea for a few hours without anything noteworthy happening. I disliked how the boat rocked but I was able to distract myself watching the crew scurry around the deck. Eyes had climbed the sail and peered out over the sea with a magnifying device, while Dunk yelled at Borris for being an oaf. I felt bad for the chubby sailor. He was trying even if his clumsiness made it hard to get his job done.
We were moving quickly as the winds pushed our ship. Dunk and Borris ran around the deck like headless chickens scooping up puddles of saltwater that sprayed onto the ship's surface. Mark stood next to the captain who steered the ship at the helm. I didn’t see Malik ondeck so I assumed he went down into the dark hull below.
It was, for the most part, impossible to see what creatures lived in the depths of the Endless Lake. The flying fish that skipped on the ocean’s surface was the only indication that life was below me. There wasn’t much to do on the ship so I looked out into the ocean trying to spot anything other than the flying fish or ocean waves.
“Are yeah weary of the ocean?” croaked Captain Pickford.
“I’m looking for the fish,” I stated bluntly.
“Looking for the fish ain’t a good idea. They’re legends of giant tentacles beasts that bring sailors to the bottom of the ocean. The ocean might not be brimstone and flames but hellish creatures lurk below the surface. It’s best to not go looking for them or they might start looking for you.”
“Oh, stop giving the big rock ideas,” shouted Dunk, who was still near the top of the mask. “There ain’t no monsters lurking in the sea. None that we’ve seen.”
“Aye. But sailors do be going missing more than just from the weather. The old legends might be old, but there’s some truth to them.”
An awkward silence filled the air, so I went back to watching the ocean swirl. I spent the next several days staring at the ocean. At first the ocean was calm, but gradually the small waves the bashed into the side of the ships hull grew.
Soon heavy rains and large waves battered the ship and I was called by the captain to help row. The ships sail had been rolled up and tied closely to the mast of the ship. It was too dangerous to catch the wind in a storm like this.
We were all cold, miserable, and wet. Well at least everyone except Malik. He was still hiding somewhere below the ship's hull, doing who knows what. I thought about going down there to hunt for the little man, but I convinced myself it wasn’t worth it. He wouldn’t be much help on the oars and he was kinda creepy. It was dark down in the ship’s hull.
“Keep Rowing! If you let up now, we’ll be kissin the bottom of the sea!” screamed Captain Pickford.
So I kept rowing. Soon Borris and Dunk were too exhausted to continue rowing and were wheezing on the cold wet deck. Mark and I continued to row but I knew we would eventually have to stop. My mana core was nearly empty and I could hear heavy breathing from Mark.
“There!” screamed eyes in excitement while pointing towards the sea.
I turned my head, squinting to see what the sailor was so excited about. A dark bump stood above the water. It was land.