Chapter 3 - Leaving Everything Behind

Chapter 3 - Leaving Everything Behind

A Chapter by Richard Linsley III
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As Erik prepares for the trip the demi-goddess Illandra has set him on, others are taking an interest in this young outsider's motives and actions.

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Erik stepped back and took a look at his newest possession; a small but seemingly seaworthy vessel, La Madame. Interesting name but at least it was a boat that didn’t look like it would sink and Erik guessed it would get him where he thought he was going. It held a small deck house with a meager ability to carry cargo. The interior wasn't much, but had enough room for a decent cot and trunk for personal items and even had some extra cargo space in the hold. Erik thought that it was just small enough to be managed by one person.

The most interesting aspect of the vessel was its propulsion. The rudder, in combination with a nearby orb in the deck house provided directional and forward control of the small cutter. One hand could control the rudder while the other slid on top of orb, telling the rudder how fast to move the ship. Having no mast, it could slip in and out of the harbor with out being noticed by the other ships which were much larger and had one to three masts each. The ease of learning made this ship a perfect match for Erik’s lack of seamanship.

Oddly it smelled a little like some type of exotic plants or other substances when he first put his few belongings aboard. Erik thought to himself that certain comforts would have to be put aside in order to get through this part of his life. He purchased the boat last week and focused the majority of the remaining time to repairing the hull and doing odd jobs to pay for the repairs and supplies for the trip. The gold his benefactor had given him had more than covered the cost of the boat but there was little left for anything else. It also took several days of haggling with the previous owner to part with it for so few coins. It almost seemed as if the old smuggler was happy to be getting rid of the vessel.

Now a week later, the outside of the leaky vessel was fixed and made watertight. Erik had spent most of the previous nights sleeping in the boat while it was on shore supported by beams. Today would be interesting as it would be the first test to see if it would serve his purposes.

After having eaten his breakfast, Erik left the boat and walked around it on the outside making one last sweep for cracks and holes that he would have missed. The light blue paint that he put on yesterday was a good color choice, but he wondered how long it would last in the water. Finally approving of the vessel, he picked up the trailer it was resting on and connected it to a trolley system used to put the local boats in the water. Erik held his breath as he finally let it go to roll down into the water.

Erik was relieved to finally see his little boat slip into the water. He was even more surprised when it didn’t sink straight down to the bottom of the bay. Climbing aboard Erik checked the interior hull to make sure that it wasn’t leaking on the inside. A slow leak would make for a very bad trip. After making sure that everything was alright, he took a minute to get situated before he took La Madame into the bay. The ride was exhilarating. The vessel was far faster than he would have expected. Its short structure made it highly maneuverable but also made it very unstable. He was able to make the boat slip between the other vessels in the water at fast speeds, but this usually ended up with him getting water in his hair and face as he slipped through the wakes of the other shipping traffic.
Laughing to himself, he made a mental note to keep it at a certain speed to prevent it from capsizing while on the open waters. His navigation on the bay made him create a mental list of things he would need. Non perishable foods he had enough of, a compass and sextant would be needed, not to mention fresh fruits, vegetables, water, and a local waterway map would need to be picked up this afternoon from the market. If he was able to get all these things in time, he should be able to leave this evening just after sunset.

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Johanna had been watching Erik from the safety of her new apartment in Merri Weather Port for the last few days. The vessel he chose was going to be a hard one to steal away onto. There was barely any room beyond the cargo space, and he seemed intent to fill it up with food. Johanna thought about making a false barrel and stowing away in it until he was out of the port. If need be she could render him unconscious and then drive the boat herself. However, that thought didn’t appeal to her senses. Honestly Johanna wanted nothing to do with the sea right now. The dreams she had just before her guild initiation were still vividly imprinted in her mind. She could swim but saw no need to be out and about on the open water. From the looks of things, the young man was at the end of his preparations and would be leaving soon. Probably within the next day or two. Looks like it was time to check in with the boss.

Johanna took the ring out of her pocket and before putting it on, recited in the back of her mind the incantation to make it work. Now fully prepared, she slipped the ring onto her finger and began the incantation:

"Hab elee darn ilya, Amin nyar neh enna,
Hab har ten ilya, Amin nyar neh enna,
Hab corm last ilya, Amin nyar neh enna,
Hab sikil sint i' anwa..."

As she spoke the words, a mist covered her eyes and the world drowned itself away. The connection to join her and the guild over several hundred miles away was now established.
“Ukal, o tyn uon sy fen ki te…” She chanted softly. Her request in the language of the thieves assured secrecy in case the spell backfired and targeted the wrong person. Although highly unlikely, it was still a precaution she needed to take. As she waited for the reply, she began to doubt whether it worked or not. Shortly a shadowy figure appeared in her sight.

“I' mon tonta, lyn te kargel” The responding words came back to her mind clear. At the response her heart lightened and she began her missive.

“I found the boy,” she started. “He’s young, a little bit naïve. And yes, he can’t stop ogling the ladies.” The last statement elicited an I-told-you-so snicker from her companion.

“I have a plan,” she began. “But I am going to need a few more crowns to pull it off.”

“It’s always about money with us thieves isn’t it?” mused the figure. “Or is it a woman thing?”

“Of course,” smiled Johanna. “Since when isn’t it?”

“I have a friend who will provide you with what you need. I take it you will also be needing specialized gear for what you are going to do.” The figure provided a parchment that showed the location of the friend. It’s a shame it wouldn’t survive the connection.

“Well, if you are providing, then I am accepting.”

“Never say no then.”

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Erik walked through the town market place looking at all the wares that were being sold. People bustled around him purchasing just about anything that could be brought to mind. Erik was pulling a cart loaded with vegetables in barrels and had decided to take a quick rest before starting again. Sitting on top of the cart, he watched the populace move around him. To him it looked like chaos but everything moved in time, and with its own pace. Much like a dance.

Erik sat for a few moments and then decided it was time to move on. When he jumped down, he landed accidentally on a young woman knocking her down to the ground. In disarray she looked at composing herself quickly. Erik bent down to help her to her feet. He could barely see her eyes through the dark hair that had fallen into her face.

“I, uh… uhm...” stumbled Erik. “I really don’t know what to say other than I am sorry.” Taking her hand he helped her up. Unfortunately for Erik, he could help but look her over as she wore a halter top bodice and a skirt that flatteringly showed her body off. The skirt was made of a flowing cotton that seemed to barely hug around her waist. The bodice didn’t do much to hide anything but seemed more to accentuate her features. Erik wondered if he was going to be able to say anything at all.

Smiling at him, the woman brushed herself off and moved forward to slip past him. As she did she put her hand on his abs that caused him to blush somewhat and then she took off to meet with some friends in the crowd and quickly disappeared back into the crowd.
Erik looked around but could not find her in the masses. Looking down he notice he had lost his coin wallet. The woman had set him up. Hook, line, and sinker he fell for her trap. Sighing, he looked around and picked up the cart and started to make his way back to the docks.

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Johanna watched as Erik finished his work on the boat later that evening and watched as him prepared to shove off. It would be now or never to get him to let her onto the boat. She started to go forward when a hand caught her and pulled her back into the shadows of the alley between the warehouses. The abruptness of the action caused her to hit two crates before landing on the ground. The attacker picked her off the ground and then slammed her into the wall.

“Hello, pretty...” snarled a voice as he pinned her to the wall. “What have we here today?” The stranger looked her up and down, a hungry sneer on his lips.

“Nothing you would want.” said Johanna sarcastically. She wiggled around but this person outmatched her on brute strength. Without her armor or her daggers she knew that she was at a distinct disadvantage.

“Uh, uh, uh…” The attacker removed a knife from his sheath and placed the flat of the blade on her cheek. “We wouldn’t want to mar that pretty skin of yours now would we? Now… now what would I want?” His rhetorical question was answered as he sliced one of the leather laces on her bodice.

“Well I don’t know,” came his voice again. “I wanted that young buck’s money earlier, but you took it from me. Seeing as you don’t have it now. I think we can come to a compromise.” He had her bound by both wrists with just one of his hands; his other hand went down to relieve her of her clothing.

Johanna had just about enough of this. Quickly moving her legs upward she brought the heel of her foot into the attacker’s stomach a small bit above his crotch. The attacker doubled over in pain and released his grip upon her to try and protect himself from any future attacks. Johanna reached up grabbing him by the head and slammed the top of her head against his, knocking him to the ground.

“I ... did … not … sign… up … for … this!” Her kicks to his midsection accentuated each word. Johanna turned around and grabbed the first thing she could find to throw at him. A stack of crates fit the bill perfectly.

Not wasting the chance, she ran forward toward Erik’s boat. Making her way across the dock she tried calling out a couple times, but she was still too far away to be heard. She could hear the stranger behind her getting up slowly and with pain.

“Help!” cried Johanna. Now honestly out of breath she appealed to him “Let me aboard. I am being chased!”

Erik looked up from the rope he was untying. Johanna now wished that she hadn’t taken the wallet but she needed to size up his possible reactions to her. Unfortunately she hadn’t expected the response from the other thieves of the port to happen so quickly. “Hey! Aren’t you the one who stole my wallet?”

“Yes, and you can have it back in spades.” Now at the boat she leaned over. “Just please let me on and take me away from here.”

“I can’t help you.” Erik made ready to take off even if she didn’t let go of the boat. “I can’t take you with me. And whatever trouble you seem to be in seems to be of your own making.”

“You don’t understand, he will kill me if you don’t let me aboard.” pleading she needed Erik to only say yes. “How are you going to leave a damsel in distress?”

“Who are we talking about now?” Erik now scanned the wharf for signs of her pursuers.

“Him!” Johanna pointed at the dark stranger at the other end of the wharf, clearly looking for her. The past few minutes had brought three extra people to help the stranger. Obviously he couldn’t leave her here to these people.

“Promise me that you will never take anything again and you can come. I can let you off after we clear the area.”

“Rogue’s honor.” said Johanna quickly. “That’s better than nothing, and I’ll take what I can get.” She understood that she had almost no cards left to play this off. “Are you saying that you would leave me out here on my own?”

“Get in, quickly.” retorted Erik. Erik was starting to feel like a toy top being handed between persons. “Get into the hold and stay quiet. We’ll be lucky if they don’t find us before I can get off the wharf.”

Erik worked quickly to undo the remaining lines. As the men approached, he continued about his work. Looking up only to recognize they were there. The group hailed him to stop what he was doing.

“You!” snarled the first one. This one had to be the attacker she was afraid of “Have you seen a lady run by here?”

“The only lady here is La Madame.” came the reply from Erik “and she is about to set sail.”

“Then you won’t mind us taking a look inside before you set off then…” The first one said stepping toward the boat.

“Step aboard at your own peril.” Erik said standing up finally to his full height. His shirt hung open just enough to clearly reveal the training that had brought him to this point. Erik lowered his brow to stand and look the man down. Lightning flashed across the sky threatening to bring rain down upon them.

The first attacker looked at Erik’s lean body and started to laugh. “Come on guys, if he wants trouble, she can have him! Let’s go see if there are any wenches at the Pig’s Trough tonight.”

When the men were finally out of sight, Erik slumped to the seat in the pilot house. He did not feel like doing that again. Leaning down, he opened the door to the hold. “Its okay, they are gone now. You can come out.”

Johanna climbed out of the hold and sat down next to Erik. “So, where are we going?”

“We aren’t.” started Erik. “You’re getting off, and I am going east.”

“Now wait a minute, you told me I could come.” Johanna interrupted him. “Didn’t you just say that if I promised not to take anything again, that I could come? Didn’t I just promise not to take anything?”

Caught in his own words Erik gawked and wondered how he got into this mess. He couldn’t afford to break his promise and he couldn’t afford to bring her either. “Listen, where I am going you cannot follow. It’s not allowed.”

“And you listen to my side too, any where other than here is better than here.” responded Johanna. Johanna leaned forward to talk to him. “I think it would be better for the two of us to go. For better or worse, you just saved my life. That means I’m yours until I can save yours. And, you look like you could use the company.”

“I… uh..” stammered Erik. Quite flustered now, he couldn’t put a sentence together. Johanna leaned down and put a quieting finger to his stammering.

“Oh, look at this; I just bought this earlier this afternoon.” Johanna played with the cut strap to her bodice. “Tell you what, you need to keep your honor and I need out of here. You drive, I fix this, and we deal with things later. Alright with that? You never know, it might be fun.” Johanna hopped off her seat and quickly went down into the hold before Erik could say another word.

Erik having been staring at the broken strap just nodded to himself and tried regaining some composure. Grabbing the rudder and orb, he led La Madame out into the bay. There wasn’t anyway around it, she was going to have to come with. This trip just wasn’t going his way. Much like everything else lately.

Johanna looked around to make sure that Erik was busy before deciding to check in with her guildmaster. Putting on her ring she again connected her communication with the Guildmaster.

“So, did you get aboard?” queried the Master thief.

“Yes, I did and he’s taking me with him.” replied Johanna.

“I take it that Nathan didn’t hurt you too badly then?” added the master. The tone of his voice implied that the dark stranger was no coincidence.

“You did that?!” Johanna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her own guildmaster sent attackers after her. The very thought caused her mind to roll through its very implications. Was there no honor among thieves left in this world?

“Of course, had to make your pleas believable. You can thank me later.” The guildmaster’s voice was its typical egotistical timbre. “Once and if you make it to the next location that is.”

“Remind me to kill you later.” The communication cut off with the master’s laughter ringing in Johanna’s ears. She was beginning to wonder what she had actually signed up for.

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The open sea beckoned to La Madame as a mother welcoming its errant child back to her bosom. The tiny vessel picked up speed as it no longer had to dodge traffic in the bay. Erik, finally relieved of having to dodge other vessels, relaxed in the pilot house while setting La Madame on the correct course she would be taking for the time being. Erik had no clue where he was going, but he was hoping to himself it was the right path.

The rolling waves glistened the moonlight above and the open sea seemed to go on forever. It reminded him of the crystal scrying balls that he had seen in the town fairs during his stay at the paladin’s school. He had hoped that this wouldn’t be a long trip. And he wondered about his unexpected guest downstairs.

A short while later in the evening, Erik looked up at the sky. The thickening clouds told Erik that he was going to have to expect a storm while on the trip. Dropping the anchor he sighed, he still needed to talk with the woman below. Stepping down the stairs, he found her lying down on the cot. She had already changed her bodice for one of his spare shirts and was dozing. When he knocked on the wall, she woke and smiled coyly at him.

“Already? Didn’t we just leave port?” mused Johanna. She was really starting to like getting under this guy’s skin. “Don’t tell me you came down just to reclaim your shirt?” She reached down as if to take it off.

“No! no.. That’s fine. It’s yours.” Erik turned to look away, waving his hand to try and get her to keep it on..

“I, uh,” Erik growled softly at himself for not being able to talk correctly. “I haven’t really introduced myself. My name is Erik. Yours is?”

“Johanna,” she answered. “Most call me Jo.”

“Okay, Johanna. Nice to meet you.” started Erik. “I can’t seem to get you to get off of the boat, and it’s too late now. So it looks like we are stuck together. But, there is a storm coming and we are going to be caught in it. I am going to need your help if we are going to make it through the storm. I need you to pilot while I close off the pilot house so that we don’t get capsized and sunk in the storm.”

“Easily done.” replied Jo. “Just show me what to do.” Erik spent the next few moments describing how to keep the vessel on course. After he was sure that she could handle the boat, Erik went around the boat locking down the windows and making sure that all the remaining lose items were taken care of before coming back to the pilot house. The wind started to pick up and the boat began to rock back and forth more heavily. Erik worked fast to set up the tarps to cover the entrance to the pilot house. The waves rocked the boat from side to side while lightning flashed across the sky above them. Johanna was doing her best to keep the boat facing east but would need to change the direction to keep from being pounded by the waves as they got stronger

“You don’t have much time out there.” shouted Johanna to Erik. “Get a move on!”

Erik quickly set to finishing the rigging and dropped the tarp over the hole that exposed the rest of the pilot house to the elements. Turning around he saw a wave hit the boat and knocked him to his feet. Thinking to himself, he made a mental note not to be on top of the boat again in this situation. Erik tried to jump down from the roof of the pilot house to next to Johanna when the next wave hit and knocked him to the side of the boat. Unsure of his footing, he almost fell overboard when Johanna reached back and grabbed him.

“You are not getting rid of me that way, bucko.” said Johanna as she pulled him back up onto the deck. “Lock down that thing and lets try to get through this as quickly as possible.” She had been pointing to the rudder of the boat while she was speaking, but now she had another problem. She suddenly felt very sick to her stomach from the rolling of the boat. “Move!”

Johanna pushed Erik out of the way and vomited over the side of the boat. Slowly she looked up to see a 30 foot wave begin its crest down on top of their small boat. Johanna leaned over to grab the nearest thing that was still connected to the boat and held on for dear life while the wave crashed down on top of her. After the wave subsided, she looked around. Erik was now nowhere to be found, and the boat was filling quickly with water from what looked like a crack in the hull. Johanna could see an island in the far distance. It looked as if it was time for a swim.

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Erik woke up coughing seawater from his lungs. His entire body was in excruciating pain. He looked up from where he lay in the sand. Everything was a blur. The bright sand obscured everything else from his sight. He could barely lift his head from the sand, being exhausted from the experience. Everywhere on his body hurt. No doubt he had cuts and bruises from being thrown against rocks and whatever else was out there. After a while, he was able to muster the strength to turn over and looked up into the blue sky. He winced at the pain that the bright sunlight brought to his eyes. Erik guessed that it was early afternoon or midmorning. He still couldn’t see anything but guessed that there was plants behind him. The heat of the sun beat down on his skin and started to burn. The cold air from the land chilled his skin but the direct energy from the sun burned his skin from exposure. It was then that he heard her again.

A stunningly beautiful woman stood next to him. He has never seen anything like that was standing next to him. Her skin seemed to have a translucent glow. Her mouth didn’t move but he could hear her voice. He couldn’t reach up to touch her, his strength being gone. She seemed familiar but he couldn’t place where he knew her from. All he could hear was in his head the words “Hold on.” The words echoed through his mind and he could feel the effects in every part of his body. His body rolled in pain from the first words but each echo came softer and softer as time progressed. Erik closed his eyes and focused on those words. He memorized her voice, its timbre and sparkle.

“There he is!” The new voice confused Erik, who was barely lucid as it was. This wasn’t the voice of a woman and now she was nowhere to be found. The voice was male and powerful. He could also hear other voices. Some sounded like they were looking for someone. He turned his head weakly from side to side looking for the source of the sounds as they bounced in his head. The chatter began to become lost to a fog that quickly filled his head.

“We found him, he’s over here! Let’s move, he doesn’t have much left in him.” Another voice rose to join the chatter. Erik’s sight had all but left him. Each word spoken pained his body all over. He could feel arms grab him and lift him up onto a stretcher. As the people moved quickly to move him, their voices fell to hushed tones. Erik continued to fade in and out of consciousness from exposure. He could feel his temperature begin to rise again and the voices twisted themselves into incoherent noise. He could feel himself moving through a forest, but he couldn’t tell where he was, how he got there and had no clue where he was going. His rescuers moved quickly across the land lifting him up and around obstacles, and transporting him through the forest until he entered some form of a structure. The cold floor he was placed on jarred his senses but also forced his body to continue to shut down further. Finally his body succumbed to exhaustion and he lost consciousness completely this time. The last thing Erik would remember seeing was a man in a white robe walking towards him with bandages and other items in his hands.

The woman’s voice cut through the fog silencing out the other voices in the background noise of his mind, “I know the risk, but I can’t help him this time; he has to do it on his own. Else everything will be for naught.” It was the same woman from before. He knew that much, but he didn’t know why. It would also be the last thing to occupy his mind before fading into the blackness of a dreamless oblivion.


© 2016 Richard Linsley III


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I have the luxury of reviewing this after the other members of the group have already given you some good advice. Just wanted to add that this is a great story line and I really want to read on to see what happens. I'm especially starting to like Johanna because she's strong and spunky.

Posted 9 Years Ago


Wow, this is moving to being a very gripping story! My one comment- I noticed a few sentences with a similar structure to " After having eaten his breakfast, Erik left the boat
and walked around it on the outside making one
last sweep for cracks and holes that he would
have missed". "After breakfast" or "after eating his breakfast" would be less awkward

Posted 10 Years Ago


Hey just finished reading. I like it! Storyline is great. You have a tendency to repeat the same words in a sentence though, try and think of different ways of describing, or sometimes the sentences dont need the extra word... For example when Erik goes downstairs, Jo is lying down on the cot. If she is lying we dont need to be told that its 'down' if you understand what I mean. Likewise when Erik is planning something, you dont need to repeat what his actions are because you have already told us he is setting course etc. apart from that I am enjoying this so much!

Posted 10 Years Ago


Well done again, I enjoyed this chapter, I found a few small typos, but nothing significant. I did think Erik was making too many "mental notes" maybe that cliche needs to be dropped.


Posted 10 Years Ago


Great chapter, Richard.
Previously, I mentioned your potential issues with POV. It looks like you are sticking with an Unlimited prospective and you're pulling it off rather well. Its cool to see Erik and Johanna's stories begin to interweave.
When Erik "saves" Johanna, I think it might be cool to mention how he feels compelled to save her after he failed a test when abandoning someone in distress before. That previous failure fuels his resolve to do the right thing this time.
Just a thought.
Keep it up! Stoked to read the next part.

Posted 10 Years Ago


While I'm on the family road trip, please forgive formatting errors as I'm working from my ipad.

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on May 23, 2014
Last Updated on March 23, 2016


Author

Richard Linsley III
Richard Linsley III

San Antonio, TX



About
A humble sailor with a story to tell. I'm a 39 year old dad of 3, and husband to the love of my life. Retired from the Navy after 20 years of hard work. Looking forward to some rest, and enjoying m.. more..

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