Unrelated Royalty: Chapter Six
Nars Maught stood beside the helm, arms crossed, watching as his two newest passengers talked quietly together at the edge of the ship. The knight seemed overly concerned for his traveling partner, leaning in close as he said something emphatically to the youth.
"They're a bit strange, aren't they?"
Turning to his helmsman, Nars let out a sigh, and shook his head. "Ain't none of my business,"
"You've been staring at them for the past hour,"
That was true. Something about the pair's story didn't add up, and Nars found it hard to believe that these two young'ns were traipsing their way to the Galaxy Empire just to find some wayward girl. He found himself watching them as they quietly did their share of the work, but stayed out of the crew's way. The knight seemed especially keen on making sure Silas didn't talk to anyone.
"That knight, he's a bit overprotective."
The helmsman laughed. "Well, have you seen how the pretty one acts? Like a classy whore." He nudged Nars in the side. "Wouldn't mind getting a piece myself, if you know what I mean."
Nars gave him the side-eye, but let out a chuckle. "Something tells me you wouldn't get one inch past his milky thighs with that watchdog standing guard."
Laughing, the helmsman made an obscene movement against the wheel, and licked his lips. Maybe Simon had some justification for acting like a mother hen after all, Nars thought. He returned his gaze to the mysterious pair, and tilted his head.
Something about Simon bothered him. Supposedly, the knight's wife was missing, but he seemed entirely concerned with Silas instead.
Suddenly, a pair of bright blue eyes were on him. Nars smiled at the knight as the boy stared at him. The gaze was obtuse, daring Nars to challenge him. 'We'll see, knight,' Nars thought to himself, 'We'll see.'
Silas was leaning over the side of the ship, watching the water crash against the stiff, wooden planks. He knew that Simon was staring at the pirate again, trying to figure out Nars' angle.
"It just doesn't make sense," the knight said, "He didn't really have to let us come."
Sighing, Silas rested his chin on his arms. "He wanted a cook,"
"You're not that good at cooking,"
"Hey!" Silas whacked Simon on the arm, earning a smile from the knight. "I'm better than you,"
They had been on the ship for three weeks, in which time Silas had managed to charm the entire crew. There were few who wanted to sneak into his hammock at night, but Simon kept close watch on his friend. Staying out of the way, they usually spent their off time together, discussing what they would do once they got to Jupiter Island.
After a few moments of silence, Silas let out another long, exaggerated sigh. "I'm sure Lorne is just living it up right now,"
"Don't think about him," Simon replied, leaning back against the railing.
"Why not?" Silas said, "He's the reason I'm here."
He tried not to think of home, of Lorne, of Nerini… of Lundie. If he ever got back, he would demand that the mage accept him. At the very least, a successful journey to the Galaxy Empire should earn him some respect, should make Lundie consider him as an equal.
"You're thinking about that wizard again, aren't you."
Closing his eyes, Silas turned his head from Simon. "Shut up,"
"You know, he was the one who told Lorne to send you."
Silas wanted to pretend that he didn't hear Simon. There had to be some reason why Lundie betrayed him, there had to be some explanation. The mage had always watched out for him, had always been his protector. When he returned home, he would make Lundie tell him why he did it.
"I love him,"
That shut Simon up. The knight stared at him silently, understanding that he shouldn't push the matter further. He let Silas watch the ocean, and kept a vigilant eye on the ship. He found it hard to trust anyone on the crew, especially the captain. Nars Maught was an enigma, and Simon didn't like enigmas.
He watched the captain a lot. Quiet observation was one of Simon's strong suits, and he would observe Nars talking to the helmsman, to the watchman, and to everyone else. The crew obviously loved their captain, and were quite loyal. Loyalty was something Simon respected, but he couldn't tell if Nars was also the type to be loyal.
He heard Silas mumble something. Looking down at his friend, he smiled. "What?"
"I want to win,"
Simon's eyebrows furrowed. "Win what?"
"I mean," Silas replied slowly, "I mean… I want to do it, I want to be successful." He stood up, and stared evenly at Simon. "I want to do this for real. We can't look at this mission as exile."
Simon's eyes crinkled as he smiled. "I wasn't,"
"Well," Silas replied, "Now, I'm not either."
Their plan seemed fairly simple up to the point of reach the Galaxy Empire. Not many people for the Land of Seasons had been past Jupiter Island, let alone to the coast of Galaxy. Silas and Simon would be setting new ground for their nation. Hopefully they were weren't walking to their deaths.
"What do you know about the Galaxians?" Silas asked.
"What every one else knows, that they're savages."
Silas scratched the tip of his nose. "Do you really believe that?"
Pausing for a moment, Simon considered the question. "Well…" he said slowly, "I've never met one."
There were urban myths of people running into a traveling Galaxian, but there was no way of proving it. The war between the Empires happened before anyone's current lifetime, and after that happened, both nations seemed content with ignoring each other.
"I wonder what the point of allying ourselves with them would be," Silas asked. "We're not at war with any other empire…"
Was this Lundie's ultimate goal? What advantage would be gained by joining hands with the powerful Galaxy Empire? Silas rested his head on his hand, tapping the railing of the ship. "We could be an important part of history," he said idly. "The two heroes who joined the Land of Seasons and Galaxy Empire."
Simon nodded, letting out a small laugh. "Wouldn't that be nice?" They let the thought of being heroes sink in, not noticing the slight change in weather. The ship groaned in protest as the ocean started to beat against the sides with a little more force.
They were buffeted by a strong wind which sent the ship rocking back and forth. Sprawling forward, Silas nearly fell to the ground, only to be caught by Simon. "Careful," the knight said quietly.
"Still haven't gotten your sea legs, huh?"
Both boys looked over to see Nars standing before them, completely unaffected by the rocking of the ship. His arms were crossed, and he was watching them with a small smile. "Your friend ain't gonna be here every time you fall, boy."
"I know!" Silas replied, pushing away from Simon. "I just… wasn't expecting that wind."
Nars crossed his arms, his eyebrows rising. "We're getting closer to Jupiter. Once we cross over to the Universea, the waters get treacherous."
"How close are we?" Simon cut it, earning a curious glance from Nars.
"Pretty antsy to get away from the ocean, aren't you?"
"Among other things," Simon replied, expressionless.
Silas rolled his eyes. His friend and the pirate got into daily arguments and verbal sparring. It was almost as if they enjoyed it, but it was hard to tell. Simon never discussed his feelings about other people, and he never talked about Nars. Although, Silas got the feeling that the pirate bugged the knight. Maybe it was their polar opposite personalities.
"Well, you're still going to have to fine someone to take you to the coast of Galaxy," Nars replied. "Cause I sure as hell ain't going near there."
"I'm sure we'll find someone who isn't so…" Simon trailed off, his meaning clear.
"You calling me a coward?" Nars said. His tone was light, he seemed unfazed.
"I said no such thing," Simon replied.
They were at a standoff, staring at each other with nonchalant expressions. Nars smirked. "I keep meaning to ask, what if your wife doesn't want to come home?"
Simon blinked, momentarily forgetting their cover story. "I…" he said slowly, "I can't make her come back, if she doesn't want to."
"That's mighty generous of you," Nars replied, "Going all the way to Galaxy Empire just to find her, and then not making her come back with you."
Shrugging, Simon's face remained unreadable.
"This tastes like shit,"
Kisko, Nars' first mate, chewed on his stew with a distasteful expression. "I say we have the kid stop being a cook, and start being the entertainment."
"Shut it," Nars replied, downing a bite as quickly as he could. "No one's gonna be able to make good eats on a ship,"
"Why are you defending him?" Kisko growled, pushing his bowl away.
Nars looked over at Silas, who was obliviously eating his dinner with Simon. The entire crew liked them, but the kid's cooking was admittedly terrible. "We could always have Bear back," Nars said with a smirk, "I'm sure he'd look just as cute with his eyes all done up in kohl,".
Grimacing, Kisko shook his head, and started eating again. "Anything but that crazy sonofabitch."
Nars laughed, adding to the general ruckus of the room. Most of the sailors were all crowded into the mess, eating stew and drinking ale. It was a cold night, and any sort of warm chow was welcome. The only quiet ones were Simon and Silas, sitting in the far corner.
The lack of women during the long journey was usually glaringly obvious, however Silas, with his delicate frame, and ample buttocks made for some good fantasies. The eyes of the sailors would follow along as he strutted around the mess, bending over counters and reaching for utensils.
However, Nars rarely noticed this. He watched as Simon took another bite of his stew and assured his friend that the food was good. "Is it because Silas is his wife's brother?" Nars asked.
"What?" Kisko replied, following Nars' line if sight to the two boys. "Eh, you noticed that too?" He leaned forward, clasping his hands under his chin. "They do seem a wee bit close."
"You think they're lovers?" Nars asked, looking over at Kisko.
"Maybe," Kisko replied with a shrug, "They do spend every minute of every day together."
They stopped talking as the two boys stood, Silas moving to clean the dishes from cooking, and Simon returning to the roost, his assigned task for the day. Watching, Nars narrowed his eyes as Simon patted Silas on the shoulder, and left the mess. "We'll speak later," he said to Kisko, and quickly stood up.
He stayed a few feet behind Simon as the boy walked to the mast, and started to climb the ladder to the top. Nars was surprised when the knight showed little fear the first time he was assigned to the roost. He just quietly nodded, and asked what the duty entailed.
When Simon reached the crow's nest, he pulled on the leather jerkin he had tied around his waist, and settled in. The nights had gotten colder, and the air was even more frigid thirty feet above the deck of the ship. He peered out into the darkness, but saw nothing but ominous gray clouds in the distance.
Presently, he heard a sound coming up the mast, and looked over just as Nars appeared over the edge of the roost. "Ay," the pirate said with a nod as he climbed over. "How's it going?"
Simon backed up uncomfortably. The roost was close quarters, and Nars was large man, his muscles showing through his tunic. "I haven't seen anything," Simon said with an even tone.
Nars laughed, sending a flash of annoyance through Simon's mind. Was everything funny to this man?
"You will," Nars said, clasping Simon on the shoulder. "There's a storm brewing." He pointed towards the clouds. "Those babies are turning into monsters, and they're headed right for us."
Simon watched the clouds, taking note of their appearance. They looked just like all the other clouds that had been forming at night. "How can you tell?"
"A true sailer just knows," Nars replied with a smirk.
Simon rolled his eyes, "That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard," A true sailer just knows? Ridiculous.
"You don't really have a sense of humor, do you?" Nars replied, a curious smile gracing his face.
"You just have too much of one," Simon said, his jaw firm.
Nars let out another ruckus guffaw, and crossed his arms. "Maybe I do," he said, voice full of mirth, "But it's better than acting like a priss with a stick up her ass."
Simon looked over at him, eyes flashing. "That's just crude."
The corner of Nars' lip rose in a small smile. "It's not hard getting a rise out of you," he said. "You act like nothing gets to you, but you're actually pretty sensitive, huh?"
Simon stared at him, breathing slowly in and out as he tried to control his disgust. How could this pirate possibly know anything about him? Simon was human after all, so of course if Nars kept pushing, he would get a rise out of the knight.
"I'm not made of stone," Simon said, turning his eyes back to the sea. When he didn't hear a response from the arrogant prick, he took a quick glance at Nars. The pirate was staring at him, head tilted to the side as if he was considering something.
Before Nars could say anything, both men looked up as a loud crack sounded out, and then the sky flashed bright white, momentarily blinding them. A lighting bolt had arced down from the heavens, barely missing the ship. Then, a downpour started of which the likes Simon had never seen before. "What's going on?" he yelled.
"Flash storm!" Nars replied, grabbing Simon's arm. "Get down from here! Now!" He pulled the knight towards the side with the ladder, and helped the knight climb over the edge. The ship rocked violently back and forth as the two men quickly made their way down the mast of the ship. They could hear the yells of the other sailors below them.
Simon nearly slipped as his boots hit the slick deck, but he regained his footing. His first thought was to find Silas, however a sailor grabbed him by the shoulder, and screamed at him to help with the sails. Looking up, he could see the giant swaths of canvas were being pulled back and forth by the wind, taking the ship with them.
Following the sailor to the foremast, he joined the crew in pulling the ropes, feeling his skin burn at the friction. "Damn," he said, the pain jolting up his arms.
There was chaos all over the deck as the men, slow from full bellies, reinforced the cannons to their docks, and made sure to bolt down anything else that could go flying. A wave almost the height of the ship arched up, blocking out the sky. Simon was rendered immobile by the sight of it, in awe of it's sheer magnitude. Luckily, the ship was able to ride over it.
"Get moving kid!" Kisko screamed at him, gesturing him to move on to the next sail that needed to be pulled up. He nodded, and carefully made his way over, slipping and sliding as he went. All the while that he helped the crew, his head kept rotating back and forth, trying to spot Silas.
He didn't know if it was a good thing or not that he hadn't seen the prince. Maybe it meant that Silas was taken below decks, where he couldn't be harmed.
Suddenly, he saw what he was looking for.
Silas was on the other side of the ship, helping to tie down a loose cannon. As if controlled by an outside force, Simon dropped what he was doing, and made his way over to his friend.
The prince seemed to be thrilled at the idea of helping. His face was set in a determined frown as he tugged at the chain holding the cannon. As Simon neared, he wondered if he should give Silas space… his friend always complained about be babied, about feeling useless.
As he considered turning around and returning to his post, someone yelled. "Wave!" rung out through the rain, and Simon looked towards the side, and then up. A wall of water rose twice as high as the ship, seemingly suspended in time.
Simon's face turned white, and without thinking, he grasped on to the mast and shut his eyes, bracing for impact. There was no other experience in his life that could prepare him for the force of water that fell on him with all of the Gods' wrath.
Opening his eyes, he watched the water rush over the deck.
His heart dropped to the pit of his stomach.
Silas was no longer standing where he had been only moments before.
"No," Simon breathed, running towards the cannon. He grabbed the collar of the sailor who had been working with Simon. "Where is he?" he screamed.
"H-He," the sailor stuttered from the force of Simon's anger, "He went over."
Without missing a beat, Simon dropped the sailer, and rushed towards the edge of the ship, throwing off his boots as he went, and tearing away his jerkin. As he reached the side, he felt a hand grip on to his wrist.
"What in God's holy hell are you doing?" Nars yelled at him.
"I'm going to save him." Simon said, "Now, let go of me." His eyes were flat, his voice gone dangerously quiet.
Nars stared at him with disbelief. This kid would jump into the storm for Silas? "Are you crazy?" he said, "He's probably already dead out there!"
Simon clawed Nars' hand away from his arm.
"Then I die with him," he said, and jumped.