Read the previous story! Fare Well, My Yesterday
By Alicia Steen
Vytria. Blue Soul, Jeshrun. Year After Shadow Two Thousand One Hundred, First Cycle.
I hum the first lines of my favorite song as I enjoy the last bit of warmth from the setting sun at my back. This is my favorite time of day, when the cliffs that form Jeshrun’s coastline are at their finest. Light illuminates the innumerable caves and openings in the cliffs, bouncing around the brown-gold feathers of the gryphon and turning them into golden jewels nestled in the cliff face. Then the sunset light hits the waterfalls just right, and it sparkles like a large diamond on a bracelet accented by amber.
It has been two years since Cyran and I left the tree, and I have found my home at this coastline with the Blue Soul clan. Rather than being merely a seafaring clan, the Blue Soul live entirely on the sea, most of them never having set foot off their wooden boats onto any land at all, dry or otherwise. In fact, one of the scariest stories in the clan comes from the red-headed Captain Mac, who sailed to ‘seas unknown’ and ran his red ship into a sand bar. He says the ship was so still “I had to dance a jig to make sure my heart was still beat’n.” Then, to many that reply he should be used to calm ‘cause he sails the deep, he retorts, “That twasn’t calm; it were still.”
I still laugh every time he tells the tale.
The sun is mostly set now. In the fading light the ships colored with shades of blue are beginning to blend in with the sea below. Only the white ships, which direct traffic, and the red ships stand out. When I ask the reason for their coloring, the captains of the blue ships reply, “Camouflage.” The captains of red ships say the same. Those captains sail the deep sea regularly.
I will always remember the first time Captain Rhett took me under the sea. These ships sail underwater as often as above it, and have for centuries beyond memory. Captain Rhett explained the specialized barrier keeps air and water separate, but the sight of water all around was still as unnerving as it was awesome. The unbroken blue looks like its own entity if you stare into it too long. Not that there’s anywhere else to look.
We sailed into a strong current and quickly picked up speed. To me, the ship seemed to groan, but Captain Rhett laughed and said she relished the thrill. The wood the Blue Soul use for their ships can become stronger than metal and much more pliable under a master wizard’s care. I knew this, as Captain Rhett had told it all to me, but the creaking wood made it easy to forget. The week-long trip was enjoyable, but I decided I prefer the air and the horizon.
Cooler air is settling in now. All the ships are busy finishing the day’s work, but soon the noise will give way to quiet. My favorite time of day. The Blue Soul would be incredible people if they weren’t so… themselves.
Though they operate ships with enough ancient magic make the worlds jealous, their preferred method of communication is still shouting from ship to ship. Sometimes a message is shouted from ship to ship to ship to ship, which gives the unlucky recipient the task of deciphering a coded message. They even use this method when the Dark Moon clan contacts them from above with messenger birds. It has made for some quite interesting ‘council meetings.’
Well, Dark Moon aside, the Blue Soul seem to understand each other well enough. I can’t say the daily cacophony isn’t fun to watch from above. As long as I don’t have to take part. There is one sound, however, that pierces the craziness with clarity.
I start to whistle the favorite song of every triple-cornered-hatted captain, rough-but-sincere shipmate, and striped cabin boy in the Blue Soul. This song is the reason I love this clan. Like the waves it mimics, the notes bring rolling silence, and one by three every ship joins in.
When I was but a younger child,
My father sailed the sea.
In sun or moon he sang this song
While waves surrounded me.
Once was I young, and now am old,
But my eyes have never seen life forsake the blue
Wild waves churn the waters above,
But in the deep peace holds true.
Now I am an older child
I myself sail the sea
In sun or moon I sing this song
When waves encompass me.
I now am old, but once was young,
And I have yet to see life forsake the blue.
Wild waves may churn the waters,
But in the deep peace holds true.
The last few notes fade into the wind as the final rays of sun yield to a moonless night. I adjust my perch on top of the main sail, ready to enjoy the calm, when faint word catches my ear. If I really did hear it, it came from the caves.
Now that it’s dark, the swaying lanterns of the ships are creating strange shadows on the cliff. They play at illuminating the caves and crevices. It is an unwritten rule in the Blue Soul: none go into the caves, and most importantly nothing comes out. There is a reason the now agitated gryphon guard the caves. A reason dark enough for even them to hesitate to disclose.
I use my wind to bring the sound closer.
I hear it again, a single spoken word, louder this time and in an unpleasant raspy voice. My body goes stiff, almost causing me to fall from my perch. The voice causes my wind to become a freezing chill.