Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Three, Chapter Four, Part One – Trepidation
“The fear of the unknown is often far worse than fear of the known, for what is known can be confronted, while unknown fears can haunt us relentlessly at will without shape or form like ghosts. An unseen foe is nearly impossible to duel with, so the challenge is to directly face these unseen foes that haunt us – and finally make them visible where they can be defeated once and for all…” – Mark D. Jones
As their single masted longboat steered a course of due east towards the rising sun, the guards’ eight boats pursuing them suddenly gave up the chase, knowing that the escapees were charting a course to their own demise. No one sailed into the Endless Eastern Sea by choice – no one. There were tales, of course, of the few who had inadvertently entered its watery desolation during terrible storms, aimlessly drifting through its doldrums, mirages and unfathomable terrors – saved only by a rare easterly breeze, in order to eventually tell their stories. Lost and alone in an unending sea, and mocked by the illusions of an uninterrupted horizon where sea monsters roamed at will, these terrified souls remained paralyzed by fear to their dying days from what they had been through.
Others had sailed east into unknown and dangerous waters before, only to never return again, verifying to everyone that to travel east was to seek one’s own demise. Every sailor who crewed boats and plied the waters of the Sea of Tollvar east of the Land of Myllanthar, knew the risk of being blown by sudden storms into the Endless Eastern Sea, and did everything they could to prevent such a catastrophe from befalling their own boats. Yet, it was into this watery grave that Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy now sailed, as their only option to avoid capture, imprisonment and certain death at the hands of the guards and jailers of the Island Fortress of Tyull. Jonathan shivered at the thought of how close they had come to certain peril, and how ironic it was that the Endless Eastern Sea with all its known dangers was their only avenue of escape.
There was nothing but silence in the boat now, as the three companions sailed into the rising sun, with only the lapping of waves against the hull and the occasional rustling of sails bringing them calming audible relief. After what seemed to be an entire morning of silence and utter disbelief concerning their current circumstances, Maestyg finally began organizing them for the situation they now faced. After eating some smoked fish and drinking some water from their flasks, he made plans to ensure their survival on the open sea. This was not the time to fear sea monsters, but to do everything within their power to ensure they survived their endeavor no matter how dire their situation was. They were not the only ones who had ever been lost at sea before – just the only ones who had purposely sailed into the Endless Eastern Sea, and were now determined to survive the ordeal.
Maestyg secured the sails in place with lines to maintain their easterly course, in order to ensure they wouldn’t inadvertently travel in circles through inattention, as long as the wind remained as it was. He made sure Jonathan and himself used extra clothing from Jonathan’s backpack to shield themselves from the relentless sun – including Sammy. Surviving for days and weeks at sea wouldn’t be possible, if the sun’s intense rays blistered their heads and exposed skin without relief. Maestyg also used the extra sail fabric they found in the longboat, to create a covering over the front of the boat from bow to midship. He initiated sleeping shifts for them under the fabric covering, so that one of them would always be able to remain alert and keep watch. There was no way of knowing what might happen at any time of the day or night during this venture, so one of them would always need to keep a vigil and maintain an easterly course.
The covering over the front end of the longboat’s hull would also serve to help them collect rainwater during squalls and storms, catching the runoff in whatever they had to capture it in midship at the end of the tarp. They had enough dried fish and water flasks to last them at least a week – maybe two if severely rationed – but beyond that, there was no hope of future sustenance with the provisions they had on hand. If they were to survive at sea longer than two weeks they would have to fend for themselves, for it was the only way to prolong their survival until some other option presented itself to them. Of course, the odds weren’t in their favor, as a severe storm might sink their relatively small longboat in treacherous seas. Gale force winds could rip their two sails to shreds and render them helplessly adrift. The fearsome sea monsters that frequented these waters could attack them in the dark of night, ensuring their sudden demise in this foreboding and endless watery desert. The outcome for them wasn’t promising, and all Jonathan could think of was how he wished he and Sammy were back home now with his family on the Spencer Family Farm…