Chapter Snippet

“Josiah Phine…” There was a hint of recognition to it, and he tugged on his beard in thought. A particular dining scene flashed from memory, though one that drew his lips to a frown. He studied the young man’s expression. Life at sea had hardened his features. Even clean-shaven, it was difficult to predict a reaction to his next comment. “The council was as giddy as children when you brought in that first catch. They raved on for months about it! Certainly gave Jenario more than a taste for it.”

Eyebrows slightly lowered, but not in dislike of his words. “That, I do not miss. But my ships, I do. I could’ve sailed ’til the bottom opened to the decay of time, and so on into my next life!”

“Either that or you’d drink ’til the bottom of every barrel,” one of the men commented, drawing laughter.

“Aye. That, too.” Mr. Phine grinned as his cheeks warmed in remembrance. “The lads always knew how to pass on the nights when nothin’ strayed into our nets. They’d be good times, but hard nonetheless. Waves, storms, winds and rocks. That’d be the death of us if I didn’t know how to weave a ship through it.” He shook his head. “I never knew my father, but my mother used to sing to me as though the sea had every bit of say-so in it.” Then he began to sing:

I’s born into sea, so sea shall I go.
No ship shall I wreck, for fare winds do blow.
I’ll land where I will, for the land’s my home still.
Though I’ll ne’er find peace if I can’t sail or row.”

“You would excite those of water elements if you’d met one.” Windchester approached the small gathering as they listened to the last of the lyrics fade into the wind. “You previously mentioned having seen a few of the deep. Were they Healers, do you know?”

“If they were, they were the stuff of nightmares. Not like how you or the others appear.”

“It is possible that you saw their shifted forms instead,” Windchester replied. “We share the same waters, from wherever you stayed before, to wherever you plan to go. So it’s quite possible to come across another type of Lo-asn’rel from a different element from any region. Of course, it’s good to be weary. Not every Healer is hospitable.”

“So there are Healers that live in water?” Nickademis’ thoughts of floundering beings in the deep caused a smirk. Realizing that his thoughts had been read, he cleared his throat. “Well, probably not like that.”

Windchester chortled. “I haven’t exactly seen for myself, but those who have boasted their speed and agility. They are skilled warriors and masters of manipulating water, just as we do the land. Of course, one would have to be…from the things that lurk in depths where light can never reach.” As he spoke, visions of what he assumed could possibly live underwater shared with the others. Their combined thoughts created one singled vision, leaving each with shivers as a large red tentacle passed briefly into darkness.

“That’s some powerful mind stuff you got!” Mr. Phine shook his head to clear it. “A fair warning the next time would suffice. Let’s not do that before sleep!”

While the men agreed, Nickademis looked out across the fields with a hand to his beard. Wavering green and brown created the illusion of a rolling sea, now deepening in eerie shadow of setting sun. No longer did its rays flit across the land, but glowed warmly over a gold horizon. He almost did not want to go through it on the account of what might dwell out of sight. To him, there was nothing more discomforting than placing his feet where he could not see.

Here and there, bits of dry brush stuck up in an erratic display, dividing the smooth motion of wind-tossed blades in sections of chiseled brown and newly-grown stems. It might have looked more inviting during the daylight hours, but with the approach of night they would have no coverage other than tall grass.


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