Prologue

 

The late summer storm was the worst one that anyone could remember in over twenty years. Ships of every culture and nation and description were wrecked; some to vanish utterly, their passengers and crew were never seen again. Fishing fleets were decimated; villages disappeared, swept into the wild stormy seas. The Northlander’s raiding fleet was caught in the tempest. Frenzied ocean waves brought the hungry denizens from the depths as the possessed waves brought tragedy. In the torment that followed, feeding was good. Towering waves crashed onto the shoreline. Devastation ranged from the tip of the ScorpionIsland in the far north, to the Land Bridge leading to the Kingdom of Jasper in the south. On the island of Osey, the trees on its plains and forest were thrashed into a frenzied dance as the torrential rains and screaming winds brutalized the island. Some of the younger, greener trees were torn asunder. Their splintered and broken remains littered the landscape.

After two days of death and destruction, the sky, still showed signs of its previous tumult.  Green and gold light filtered down in an effort to let the sun through to the ravaged earth. Two men were picking their way carefully along the rocky coastline. The sea still swamped everything that moved along the battered, devastated coastline. They moved warily in the rain, for to get too near to the threatening waves would find them sucked out to sea and lost, or smashed against the jagged rocks. They also knew if any debris was to be found, it would have to be now. Any later and the hungry waves would drag the wreckage back out to be forever entombed in the abyss.

The older man carried a canvas bag over his shoulder. He was tall and broad-shouldered, a big man of the sea. His thick, black unruly hair whipped about in the wind. He wore a leather tunic and woolen pants. The hard boots came to his knees. His piercing blue eyes, etched with crow’s feet, took in every detail.

The younger version of the man poked through a shattered and wrecked wooden hull. Only fourteen years old, he stood close to six foot. He could work the rigging on the fishing vessel as good as any adult. Like his father, the son had the brightest blue eyes, which twinkled in constant mirth. He picked up some debris and looked at it critically, then threw them back into the surging water. He was about to move on, when something in the next breaking roller caught his attention. He peered intently for a minute; he could see what looked to be a body clinging to wreckage. He threw down his burlap sack, and hastily dropped to the wet sand, furiously pulling off his boots. Jumping to his feet, he charged into the sea, taking great bounding leaps. His father, seeing his son moving, raced around to where he had left his gear.

“What is it Jeremiah?” he shouted between cupped hands.

His son’s reply was lost in the howling wind. The sea was already surging rapidly past the father’s worn scuffed boots. The large man could see Jeremiah struggling with something in the heavy swell. A large rogue wave broke, smashing down on one side of the debris, forcing up the splintered side of the wreckage. The boy hung on to it and the limp bedraggled body for dear life. The flotsam rode the swell of the threatening wave, hovering momentarily and then flipping, dumping them into the freezing surf. Jeremiah instantly thrashed to the surface, coughing and spitting salt water. Immediately he dived under the heaving surf and seconds later reappeared holding the body. In an instant, the father tossed his sack aside and plunged into the swell in a haphazard, comical fashion, making his way to his son. A big wave caught the boy and overbalanced him; the youth fell. The big man grabbed his son by the scruff of his shirt, hauling him to his feet and grabbed a flopping arm of the body rolling, limp in the surf; a girl by the amount of hair spilling out around her. With little effort he dragged them both to the relative safety of the beach.

The boy lay gasping for breath, seconds later he vomited seawater coughing and spluttering. His father had the girl on her stomach, working her shoulders up and down. Nearly a full minute went by in which the boy began to despair that she had drowned, when she coughed violently, heaving and vomiting on the sand. At the first sign of life, the man turned her on her back and held her shoulders as she was sick all down her clothing. The raging sea smashed over the three of them; the retreating swell dragging at their frozen numb bodies.

“It’s time to go! Grab our gear! I’ll bring the girl!”

He had to lean over next to his son before his bellowed instructions could be heard. The boy nodded his understanding and staggered to his feet; he quickly found his boots and the sacks. The father picked up the girl, and leading the way, quickly left the turbulent, sucking sea behind them.

The journey to the cabin stretched interminably. The cabin was only a quarter mile away, normally the walk was covered in minutes however, this night was anything but normal. The boy clutched his arms about his torso, the howling wind tearing at him bringing tears to his eyes. The wet clinging clothing was freezing, and his teeth chattered violently. It got so bad he picked up a small stick, and put it between his teeth fearing they would shatter. Even his father, a giant among the fisherman of the village, was struggling with the fierce wind as it dragged at his encumbered body. Jeremiah felt like crying when the lights of the cabin came into sight.

The boy dug deep, using his last reserves as he hurried past his struggling father and opened the sturdy wooden door. His father almost fell inside as the boy slammed it closed. Instantly the quiet assaulted their senses. His numbed mind gradually understood they were no longer under attack by the elements.

“Get your gear off boy, before you catch your death.”

He had already put the girl in the boy’s bed that lined the wall. Without any thought for her modesty, he quickly stripped her and tucked her under the warm feather down quilt. He quickly stoked up the fire and soon had it burning brightly.

Jeremiah couldn’t help but stare at the unconscious girl. He had never really seen a girl with no clothes on close up before. He had seen his mother in the lake bathing once, but he had been so embarrassed he didn’t want to remember anything. She had died a year ago. A tear welled up at his mother’s memory, but he quickly fought it back. Sometimes, when his father was not there, he would cry by himself.

“Jeremiah, shake yourself, boy. Get some warm clothes on and then get some broth.”

The man knew they would be wet and cold when they returned, so he had a big pot of thick broth simmering while they were gone.

“Father, will she be alright?” his eyes lingered on the unconscious girl’s face.

His father thought about the adolescent body he had hastily undressed. She was close to Jeremiah’s age. She had good muscle development and her body wasn’t malnourished. Her clothing, while a simple leather tunic and breeches, were well sewn. He’d bet a year’s catch, the girl was from a wealthy family.

“I can’t see any reason why not. You did a brave thing tonight, son. You could have easily been swept out to sea.”

The storm returned with renewed vengeance and hammered the island nation throughout the rest of the day and into the night.

* * *

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.