Letters of Marque: A Ship Sails In

Mood Music: 

Ships sail in and out of the harbor every day. For a sailor without a ship, it is torture to see their sails drop once they have cleared the bay. I watch them from the distance of my window at the Siren’s Call. I do not wipe the grime from the glass; I do not want to miss the wind on my back that much.

I cannot just keep watching, though. Not with the manifest in my pocket. Not with the knowledge that my ship might be sailing in today.

The dock trips me. Stones smoothed down from use catch on my boots as I weave among the people. The docks have been my shelter in my storm; their warehouses loom around me now. The windows watch me as I search for the correct pier. Maybe I don’t want to find it. Maybe I don’t want to see her. Maybe I don’t want to see him.

Why? Why did that Flappy-knight decide to bring me this manifest? What on the high seas possessed him to stick his nose into my business? I was perfectly content to sit in the Siren day in and day out, brooding. No one asked him to come shining in, blinding us with that shiny armour, being all shiny. No one asked him to go out of his way to deliver me the news.

The Apple is due in. Today. And after a week of sitting on that manifest, I know I cannot remain in the dark.

It is only meant to dock long enough to restock. In a day’s time, my baby’s belly will be filled with fish. Desecration of my beautiful, golden ship. It should swallow chests of gold and silk. Stores of spices and wine.

Not fish.

I would probably have never heard about it in time had he not brought me the information. But he had and now I know and I cannot let it leave without seeing if it is really my Golden Apple sitting at dock three waiting for the stink of industry.

As I approach the turn around the high wall, I see her. Not her, not my Apple, but his daughter. Or, his not-daughter. She leans over the edge of the crow’s nest of The Chipper Kipper, and I just look up at her as my feet slow. She smiles now as she calls down to the crew below. Beneath her cheer, beneath the exuberance only the wind in a sail can bring, though, I see it. That evasive expression in unguarded moments that made his brow draw down as he watched her hurry away. Blood or not, he cannot not deny she is his daughter in his heart.

Family is messy.

It creates heavy chains that anchor you to unwelcome shores. It pushes when it should pull and runs when it should advance. It tiptoes around the important things and then steals your heart.

I try not to get swept up in the tide of people boarding the Kipper as I push my way through to the end of the dock.

And there she is. The Golden Apple looking a little worn around the edges, but just as magnificent as I left her. At least Judd is taking care of her.

And there he is. At the helm with a cloth holding his thick braids back from his face. My coat does not fit him right, but it marks him captain. It needs to be cleaned.

My fingers clench into a tight fist and rest on the hilt of my weapon. A knife thrown could not possibly reach him from where I stood. Dockhands, sailors, and Swan-knights traipsed about between us.

Hathlafel said there are ways to get the ship back. I look up at the gulls circling overhead, looking for handouts in discarded guts and fish. Constantly, they cry for more.

I lower my gaze to Judd. He barks orders and swaggers across the deck gesturing to the boom. Men, my men and others I did not know, hustle to carry out his orders.

Somehow, I will manage it. I will get her back.

And then this ache in me might subside.

~~~***~~~

Lyrics to Saints Out of Sailors by Flannel Graph (as heard by me)

Here in the silence I stand like a stone
The face in the mirror don’t look like my own
And the cards that been dealt make me just want to fold
But I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
‘Cause you’re anchor still holds

The wind it’s been trying to blast us to bits
And the water’s been trying to swallow this ship
And my heart has been throwing the gold overboard
But I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
Because you are my reward

The one that makes saints out of sailors
Carries my frame on his shoulders
He makes me lie down on green pastures
And leads me beside quiet waters

And he’s coming for me

Here in the darkness I see in the night
The mists and the wastes try to fill me with fright
And my weary soul waits as the morning, it dawns
But I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
No, I won’t give you up
‘Cause your light leads us on

Leads us on

The one that makes saints out of sailors
Carries my frame on his shoulders
He makes me lie down on green pastures
And leads me beside quiet waters
And he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming me
Yeah, he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Yeah he’s coming for me
Oh he’s coming for me

Won’t give me up
Won’t give me up
No, he won’t give me up

‘Cause he’s loved me from old

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Letters of Marque: Tall Tales

Many generations ago, deep below the borders of the sea and the sky, a young mermaid grew bored with her life of treading water. She ate the anemone and raced through the reef, but each movement felt heavier, as if a great sea turtle were tied to her tail and insisted on swimming the other way. She grew tired and moody and her father grew concerned.

One day, a spirit found this mermaid lurking about a field of sea stars. Despite their varying shapes and colours, the mermaid could not see beauty in the field, and the spirit grew concerned.

“Little mermaid,” the spirit said, “why can’t the stars make you smile? They twinkle in the fading light just for you.”

“I long to see different stars,” the mermaid replied. “I do not feel as though I belong here in the ocean. I long to see the surface and the mystery we call land.”

The spirit swirled about the mermaid; her dark red hair floated around her like twilight clouds as she turned to watch it move through the water.

“There is more. There is something else that troubles you, child.” The spirit’s gentle voice washed over her and wrapped her in warmth.

“I…” She hesitated and only the patient silence of the spirit encouraged her to continue. “I saw a man. He was handsome with ebony hair and he was on this thing that swam across the place where the sea meets the sky.” Her voice lowered conspiratorially. “He saw me above the water. He smiled.”

The spirit observed her for a moment before speaking again. “You wish to find him,” it stated plainly. “You long to go to him.”

The mermaid hesitated. “Y-yes. But I wish to explore the space between water and air. I want to know what I can find there.”

The spirit smiled. “Swim to the surface and then find the shore. Drag yourself upon the white sand and your tail will split into legs and you will find your Man and he will take you upon his ship and you will sail for the far horizon until your heart is content. But go now, Dúial, for if you fail to reach his shores by the time the sun sets, your tail will split before you are safe on dry land and you will drown.”

The mermaid was sad, for she had no time to say farewell to her mother and father and all her sisters that lived in the coral palace. She was sad because she would not be able to talk to her friends, the dolphin and the fish. But she swam as quickly as she could, and just as the sun began to sink behind the far horizon, she pulled herself up onto dry land, dragging her heavy legs behind her.

Exhausted, she stared up at the sky as the stars began to twinkle to life. Smiling, she closed her eyes and fell asleep until the bright sun and the sound of a man shouting pulled her awake…

“Horseshit,” a sailor guffawed at the man telling the story. “There ain’t no such thing as mermaids, an’ you know it, Deck. Who tol’ you that lot of crap?”

Deck grinned despite being interrupted and pointed a thumb over his shoulder back toward the aft of the ship. “Cap’n likes to tell it when he’s fallen head firs’ inna his drink. Ye ain’t never heard him speak o’the mermaid that wont ‘come a Woman? Gave up everythin’ she did, and married a prince ‘mong the Southron tribes, it goes.”

The doubtful sailor snorted and continued to carve a piece of whale bone into a harpoon head. “Rubbish, the lot. Too much Southron influence, you ask me, has taken hold’a your rotten head.”

“Don’t let Cap’n Judd hear ye say such things!” Deck warned.”He’s right superstitious, he is. Was relieved to take the Apple up the shore on these new routes, I hear say. Get ‘im outta the sights of some o’the dark folk’s cannons.”

“House Remlor’ll sink if this new idea don’t work,” the sailor said. “Dol Amroth’ll sink sooner’n it’ll realize. Cap’n got a plan, then, eh? Think he’ll take to piratin’ again?”

Deck grunted and tipped a canteen of liquor to his lips. “Cap’n Judd’ll figure it out. Since Cap’n Thanat disappeared, he’s been doin’ right.” The old first mate looked up at the sky as the caravel tore through the sea toward Eraidor. “Yep, he’s doin’ right.”