"A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit." Proverbs 29:23 KJV
Jasper Forrester stifled a yawn with the back of his hand. He was sitting in a hard, wooden chair that was bolted to the floor in front of an ugly, Spartan desk made of gray metal, also bolted to the floor. He rubbed at his aching eyes and grumbled under his breath. The boat lurched, his chair creaked and for a moment he wondered if the bolts would hold. They did, the ship settled back into its soft, rocking motion that he had become accustomed to in the three weeks that he'd been aboard. He hated ships; at least, he hated this one.
He yawned again, his jaw popping with the effort. Normally he wasn't one to get tired easily. He was a night owl and an early riser, his father used to tease him about his endless energy but now he just couldn't seem to keep his eyes open. It was the damn rocking. Back and forth, back and forth, it was like a lullaby mixed with cold medicine on a rainy day. All he wanted to do was curl up on his, albeit uncomfortable, gray metal-bolted to the floor-bed and sleep. Instead he was forcing himself to stay awake by sitting in an uncomfortable chair at an ugly desk in his tiny cabin surrounded by shades of gray. Cold, wet and austere, this was, by far, the worst assignment he had ever been given.
He didn't even know what time it was, or what day really. But he forced himself to stay awake. He looked at his watch, a thick waterproof sports watch he purchased the day before he left Swansea, Wales to board the ship. The captain, a heavy-set man with a thick graying beard and a pipe perpetually clenched between his teeth, told him that today would be the day they found it. Of course, he'd been saying that for at least a week. Jasper's head fell off of the hand that had been keeping it propped up smashed into the desk in front of him with a hollow thud and a clang.
"Owwww" he moaned. "This sucks." He left his head resting on the cold, hard metal in front of him, too tired and annoyed to move.
Jasper knew he was pouting. But he just felt so useless. He hadn't had a damn thing to do for weeks and he was bored out of his mind. The Assembly was going soft he thought. They were supposed to be fighting evil and righting the injustices of the world or something. Instead he was stuck on a boat full of treasure hunters scavenging the floor of the Celtic Sea looking for U-1whothefuckcares boat that sunk during World War I. Seriously. Buried treasure? What the hell was the Council thinking? And what kind of treasure do they expect to find from a stupid German sub that sank in 1915?
Thunk , thunk, thunk
Jasper lifted his head off of the desk and turned toward the door. He opened his mouth to yell at whoever was knocking to come in when the door was pushed open and a young deckhand stumbled his way into the small cabin uninvited. Jasper raised an eyebrow at the kid and crossed his arms in irritation.
"S…Sorry Mr. Forrester, sir." The kid stammered. "It's just we found it and they told me to come and get you and I'm sorry for barging in like this but you didn't answer when I knocked but I did knock you know and you didn't answer like I said but they need you."
Jasper's eyebrows climbed into his scalp, was this kid for real? "Uh…" he barely understood anything the kid just said. "Slow down there mate and say that again, please?"
He looked him over; the kid was tall, lanky and still had traces of baby fat on his cheeks. He couldn't have been a day older than fifteen; Jasper wondered what the hell he was doing here and not in school, but hell maybe things were different here in the UK.
The kid took a deep breath, "Sorry, I know I talk fast sometimes it's hard for people to understand…"
Jasper held up a hand and motioned for him to slow down again. "It's okay kid, just start over."
"We found U-148 this morning and the salvagers have brought up the crates that look the most important from the cargo hold. The Captain says it's time for you to do your job and open them. Although I don't understand why we can't open them ourselves, they just look like plain old crates to me" he said almost as an afterthought.
Jasper nodded and got up from his chair. "Well, best not keep the Captain waiting then huh? Lead the way chap!"
The kid gave him an odd look. Jasper shrugged and gave him a wide grin feeling a renewed energy at the prospect of something to do. Jasper was about as American as they come, but he'd found an odd enjoyment at incorporating British slang into his vocabulary, especially around these grumpy, yet too polite to comment, Brits.
"Yes sir" the boy said with a slight frown.
"Hey kid, what's your name anyway?"
Despite the three weeks aboard, Jasper went out of his way to avoid most of the crew. It wasn't too difficult seeing as they mostly avoided him anyway. He came with a strange reputation he supposed.
"Oh!" he brightened. "Well it's Olly. Oliver actually but everyone calls me Olly I guess because it's a way to shorten Oliver but it isn't like it takes that long to say Oliver anyway."
Jasper sighed inwardly and started ignoring Olly as he rambled on about his name. Oliver talked too far too much and the momentary energy Jasper felt was quickly dwindling. It wasn't that Jasper didn't like people; he was usually a very charismatic guy and loved talking to everyone. But a month on this boat was making him go fucking crazy. If he didn't set foot on land soon, he was pretty positive that he was going to die of sheer boredom. Simple as that.
When the two of them reached the top deck, Jasper breathed in deeply and felt relief at the fresh-albeit salty-air he inhaled. He tended to stay in his cabin most of the time because he felt rather useless up on deck amid the sailors. Their boat was a moderately sized fishing vessel that had been outfitted for scavenging. The owners of the boat probably spent just as much money fixing the damn thing up as it would have cost to buy a new one but beggars can't be choosers after all.
He scanned the wet, brine covered deck for the captain. He spotted him over by prow of the ship leaning over a couple of wet and dripping crates emblazoned with a thick Maltese Cross and some German writing which Jasper couldn't read. He walked purposefully over to the Captain, Olly following furtively in his wake.
"There are about four more crates like these down in the hull of the U-boat but they're harder to get to than these suckers." The captian said without looking up at Jasper. "Well, do your thing boy! We're not paying your God Assembly for nothing!"
"Assembly of God" Jasper muttered kneeling down in front of the first crate.
He looked at the crate carefully, running his hands over the grainy wood searching for the Seal. He let his shoulders drop in concentration and then he felt it. His fingers no longer felt the wood of the crates but instead glided across the glossy surface of a Divine Seal that only Seal Makers and Seal Breakers could see. The Seal placed on his forehead when he was still in the womb burned with power.
"Umm…do you need me to get you a crow bar to open that?" Olly piped up interrupting Jasper's concentration.
Jasper shot him an annoyed glance. "No." He paused, "Wait, yes Olly go grab something like that I'll need it soon enough."
"Great!" Olly ran off in the opposite direction, Jasper was glad to see him go.
Jasper turned back to the crate and looked at it, now that he'd found the Seal he could see it glimmering a pale blue and imbedded deep within the wood. It looked pretty ordinary to him. He'd seen much more complicated Seals placed on Sadie's diary as a teenager. He shook thoughts of her away, now was not the time to get anymore distracted than he already was.
His brow furrowed in concentration and he reached out his fingers gently caressing the Seal. Then he Broke it. If anyone onboard the boat had been able to see what he did, it would have looked like the shattering of glass sending fine sparkling particles into the air around them before they disappeared completely. But, nobody on the boat noticed that-they didn't notice anything at all. In fact, they probably found it odd that he way he'd been caressing the crate.
"It's done" he turned to the Captain, "You should be able to open this one no problem now."
The Captain said nothing in response, only grunted. Jasper rolled his eyes and moved onto the other crate to do the same thing. He just settled down in frontof it when Olly came running back to him, crowbar in hand.
"Here you go sir I got it just like you said!"
Jasper smiled wryly, "Thanks Oliver."
He took the crowbar and thrust it at the Captain who grunted at the impact. He shot Jasper a glare but Jasper only grinned cheekily back and turned to the still Sealed crate. He ignored the sounds of breaking wood as the Captain tore apart the Crate with greedy eyes. He concentrated on the Seal in front of him; it looked just as simple as the last one. He frowned, something as important as this supposed treasure was should have been more difficult to get into. He grinned to himself; then again, maybe he was just that good.
"What the fuck is this?" The Captain roared out.
Startled, Jasper looked up to see the Captain holding an old leather jacket in one hand and what appeared to be a thick stack of letters in the other."
"This is just a pile of shit!" the man roared, "who the fuck calls this treasure?!"
Jasper leaned over the crate to peek inside and smirked at the contents. It looked like someone's personal belongings, nothing special except to the person who owned them. He went back to work and Broke the Seal on the second crate. He grabbed the crow bar from the Captian and opened it himself. He couldn't hold back the laugh that erupted from his throat. Shoes. This crate held shoes and only shoes.
Jasper Broke the Seals on all of the crates that the salvagers brought up from the U-boat and every single one held nothing but mundane, everyday items that had no value whatsoever. The Captain was furious but Jasper was ecstatic. His mission was over; he'd be on land by morning. He said a short prayer to God for a better assignment this time, but hell anything would be better than this one.
True to his prediction, Jasper was on dry land the next morning. Granted, he was on foot with only his personal belongings in Swansea after having been practically shoved off the boat as soon as they made land. Still, Jasper couldn't be happier. He'd been renting a room in Swansea since he got the U-boat assignment. Even though he knew his time would be spent on a ship, he couldn't stand the thought of not actually having a bed if he did have time to spend on land. Plus he needed someplace for his mail to go.
He grinned and made his way through the winding streets of the Swansea Marina to his hotel-a Marriott ironically enough and practically ran through the revolving doors. He raced up the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator, beyond eager to get a proper shower. In his excitement it took him a few tries to get his keycard working and the door to his room open but when he did he felt like a punch had been thrown in this stomach.
Lying innocently on his fresh-and very comfortable looking- bed laid an 8x11 brown manila envelope. He groaned, couldn't the council give him even a week without an assignment? The envelope stared at him. It mocked him with its existence. Throwing his stuff on the ground beside the bed he reached out and took the envelope almost reverently. Carefully he pushed the metal brads together and pulled the top flap off. Reaching inside he pulled out the thick stack of documents detailing his next assignment.
The protective Seals on the documents vanished automatically at his touch-they were made specifically for him and would only be able to be read when he touched them. Jasper's eyes were glued to the paper in his hand, his mouth dry.
He suddenly wished he were back on that fishing boat searching for sunken German subs.
A/N: I know what you're thinking. Why are you posting this when you have Maneater to finish? Well, the truth is, this story has been on my mind for awhile. It's technically my 2008 nanowrimo, but I didn't get past about 20k words. I'm totally in love with it though.
Don't expect quick updates with this as with Maneater. Also, I really would like some feedback on this one seeing as it's much more complex and well more my style than Maneater which is a straight romance without any fantasy/supernatural aspects. And those are okay too, I just like fantasy/supernatural.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. I probably won't post again on it for at least a week, maybe longer but you'll have Maneater in the meantime!