Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Three, Chapter Three, Part Ten
The attempt to escape the Island Fortress of Tyull had been a folly, doomed to failure from the very beginning. How did they expect they could commandeer a single masted longboat from under the constant watch of the guards and expect to sail away? The idea was a complete non-starter, and now the reality of that foolish idea was becoming clearer with each passing moment. Maestyg’s strength was failing, and the pursuing guards to their aft were almost upon them with their hooked poles extended to latch onto the side of Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy’s boat. Once the hooks had latched onto their gunwales, there would be no escape – the guards would pull alongside, board their boat, and take them prisoner – simple as that.
The second longboat full of guards closer to shore on their starboard side, was now making a beeline towards them as well, having sensed that Maestyg was out of energy and unable to evade the pursuing boat behind them any longer. There was no longer a chance of the escapees making it to the southern tip of the island anyway, and now both of the guards’ longboats closed in for the kill. Maestyg couldn’t row any longer at this point, and removed one of his oars to use it in self-defense against the guards once they drew abeam. Defeating ten guards with a single oar in hand was unimaginable, let alone a second longboat of another ten guards that would arrive shortly afterwards, but at this point it was all they had to cling to.
Sammy remained in the stern of their boat barking and growling as the trailing longboat approached, just out of reach of the long poles and hooks at that point. Maestyg told Jonathan to move to the front of the boat – and as Maestyg began to stand to defend their ship with the single oar, the boat lurched ahead with a suddenness that almost knocked him to the bottom of the hull – as a wind caught their sails and suddenly sent it forward like a sprinter out of the starting blocks! Maestyg was as surprised as anyone, especially as he watched the eyes of the guards behind them only moments away from capturing the escapees, and quickly righted himself again to adjust the sails for their fastest possible course away from both of the guards’ pursuing boats.
The guards’ longboats were caught flat footed from the sudden gust of wind that came up out of nowhere, clearly not expecting it on a previously windstill morning. It turned out that Maestyg’s theory of eventually finding wind farther from shore was correct, and just in the nick of time! In the time it took the guards to hoist the sails on both longboats, Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy’s boat had opened a wide lead over them, and continued to widen the distance between them their pursuers. With the aid of the wind, Maestyg initially charted an easterly course to increase their separation, but then adjusted back to his original southeasterly track. The guards were no novices at sea however, and once they had their sails up, they adjusted back to a southerly course to cut off any hopes of escape to the west.
One glance back towards shore, revealed the fortress had now launched every longboat they had in pursuit – eight longboats in total with sails raised high. After seeing that, Maestyg shouted to Jonathan, “It’s no use, Jonathan, we can’t outrun and outmaneuver an entire armada at sea. We only have one choice at this point.”
“What choice is that, Maestyg?” replied Jonathan over the sounds of the wind rippling through the sails and waves splashing over the gunwales.
“We have to turn east to evade capture, it’s our only hope – the guards won’t follow us then. No one sails into the Endless Eastern Sea, but at least we’ll evade capture and be free.”
Without waiting for Jonathan’s reply, Maestyg readjusted the sails and began tracking their longboat on a course due east towards the climbing sun. The winds were favorable, making for good speed with the wind at their back, and it wasn’t long before the guards’ boats had given up the chase. No one ever ventured east beyond the Island Fortress of Tyull, for it was known to hold only an endless horizon. No one had ever sailed east before and returned to Myllanthar, and because of that, even the idea of sailing east was considered to be a death wish – and Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy’s only hope of remaining free…
(End of Chapter Three)