Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Ten

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Ten

~~~~~~~~~~

It became increasingly difficult for the Wrexham to make progress, within the thickening islands of ice so close to the dangerous coastline of the Kingdom of Arwyall.  The ship was so close to shore that the crew observed riders on horseback looking down on them from high atop the daunting cliffs, before riding off in hast northwards towards the port city of Aberon.  The southerly winds maintained their consistency, but the winds alone were not enough to force the ship forwards through the ice.  Captain Amlwch looked out over the Wrexham’s bow at the difficulty they faced from the shifting ice ahead of them.  By now the day was coming to a close, yet they had made at best only a quarter of the way towards Aberon, and at this rate, they were still days out from arriving at the port – if they would arrive at all.

Captain Amlwch made the call to turn the ship towards the rocky coastline below the towering cliffs, so as to try and wait out both the weather and the ice, while anchored overnight as close to the shoreline as they dared.  There was no sense in trying to make their way through the ice in the darkness, as they’d only risk miring the ship deeper into the ice flows, that they’d be unable to later free themselves from.  Anchoring so close to the rocky shore was risky enough, but as the weather was clear and winds calm at night, the risk was acceptable in light of the difficult conditions presented by the ice.  The captain’s hope was that morning might bring a change in the winds that would favor them, and if not, at least the ship would be as close to shore as possible to help ensure its crew and passengers would survive.

At the first light of day, the crew already knew the night had indeed been quiet with calm winds.  As they waited for a sense of change in the weather, they didn’t have to wait long.  Sheltered under the western cliffs of the Kingdom of Arwyall, they didn’t feel the winds at first, but realized the winds must have shifted again out of the east, as the sea ice was already farther from shore than it had been the evening before.  Captain Amlwch immediately ordered the crew to raise anchor and set out in haste to the north towards Aberon, as this reprieve in the weather might be their last possible chance.  At first it was tricky to fill the Wrexham’s sails with the easterly breezes from underneath the shelter of the cliffs, but they also benefited from a high tide overnight that was now retreating out to sea, helping to float the ship farther offshore where it could catch the winds unabated.

The entire day provided fair weather and favorable winds, as the Wrexham made good time northward along the coastline under the ever watchful cliffs.  By now there were crowds gathering high above on the cliff edges, as villagers had no doubt heard that the last remaining ship of the summer’s trade mission was returning from its quest with a full cargo of foodstuffs for the kingdom’s people.  What Captain Amlwch and his crew didn’t and couldn’t know though, was that the kingdom’s fishing fleet had indeed had a record catch over the summer and early fall, and that the Wrexham was the final inbound ship of the kingdom’s successful trade mission, to fill Arwyall’s coffers with enough foodstuffs to provide for its people through the winter.

The decision was made to continue sailing through the night, while favorable winds and conditions kept the ice flows just far enough to the west, to allow the Wrexham the chance to arrive in Aberon the next day.  The crew and Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy were on deck at sunrise, waiting to see what the new day would bring them, and if they would have a chance of making it to port after all.  As the first rays of light crested the cliffs high above, everyone aboard the ship was amazed at what they now saw – as villagers and townspeople lined the cliffs waving and cheering in encouragement for the final leg of the Wrexham’s voyage home!  Captain Amlwch took the opportunity to point out for Maestyg and Jonathan’s benefit the object just visible atop the coastal cliffs far off in the distance – the white stone blocks of a fairy tale castle to Jonathan’s eyes – Castle Aberyst of the Kingdom of Arwyall, rising above the capitol and port city of Aberon…

(End of Chapter Five)

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Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Nine

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Nine

~~~~~~~~~~

The Wrexham made slow and cautious progress throughout the night, while attempting to sail as close to the coastline of Arwyall as was prudent.  One wrong maneuver in the darkness would have grounded the ship on the rocks along the rocky coastline, putting an end to the urgent mission of delivering their overloaded cargo of precious foodstuffs to the people of Aberon.  While the ship managed to avoid much of the ice flows overnight, there were still a few minor collisions, resulting in a number of empty casks and barrels positioned along the waterline at the bow needing to be replaced.  While the empty casks provided a much needed barrier when colliding with the floating islands of ice, the result was always more smashed vessels that needed to be swapped out, and there were only a handful of empty barrels and casks remaining on the Wrexham’s deck.

The now empty containers of salted fish, grains, potatoes, beans, onions, whisky, rum and the like had been full when the Wrexham departed Aberon in the spring on its voyage to the kingdoms of the far southwest on its trade mission, but were now empty after having sustained the crew for the last 6 months at sea.  The ship’s crew had been enduring minimum rations now for the past two weeks, as they hadn’t wanted to resort to consuming the very cargo they needed to deliver to the people of Aberon.  Not only had winter arrived two months early as a result of the powerful northern storm, but it had already dropped temperatures to below freezing at night, and the crew wasn’t prepared with winter clothing to deal with such harsh and challenging conditions.

Jonathan was given a set of suitable clothing of leather boots, woolen pants and a shirt made from a canvas type cloth of a heavy weave, only because the smallest member of the crew had become ill and died on the ship’s outward leg of their trading voyage, resulting in his having been buried at sea.  Captain Amlwch made the mistake of not fully restocking the crew’s provisions for their return leg to the Kingdom of Arwyall, because he had overspent and overloaded the Wrexham with the precious cargo needed by his people.  A failed autumn harvest the year before, and a miserably wet spring resulted in a failed spring harvest this year, meaning that their only hope was for a decent summer crop followed by an even better fall harvest – but this early cold would have already ruined it by now.  The only way the people of the Kingdom of Arwyall and the rest of the Harlech Federation would avoid starvation, would be if the fishing fleet brought in a record catch this year, and the trading fleet of every ship that had been able to launch returned with overflowing cargoes, otherwise there wouldn’t be enough food for the kingdom to survive the punishing early onset of winter.

Dawn brought with it fair but frigid skies, while the winds shifted from the easterly offshore winds that had been favorable the night before for keeping the ice away from the coastline, to southerly winds with a touch of warmth behind them.  While the southerly winds aided the Wrexham in its northerly course along the shoreline, they also began forcing the ice flows towards the coastline, making it more difficult for the Wrexham to find clear water for it to make maximum progress in.  Aberon was still a day and a half sail away for the ship, its crew, and precious cargo, but having to navigate within the ice flows meant that Aberon was now two days away at best, and at worse, they feared becoming trapped within the thickening islands of ice.

Captain Amlwch was worried that the odds were stacked against his ship and crew from being able to maneuver through the ice flows, while avoiding the dangerous rocks and shallows of the rugged western coastline of Arwyall.  There were no other ports or safe havens to put the Wrexham into short of Aberon – and if the ship ran into the rocks, its cargo would be ruined without any hope of salvage – as the towering western cliffs were easily one hundred feet high with sheer drops straight down.  People from nearby villages above the cliffs would only be able to watch the ship and its cargo being ravaged by the waves upon the rocks, helpless to even think of recovering it for themselves.  All this was known to Maestyg and Jonathan, as they watched the unfolding drama happening around them at sea, unable to change the course or outcome of this high stakes voyage, while at the same time, simply glad to be alive…

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Eight

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

It had been six arduous days as the Wrexham managed to hold together amidst the increasingly dense ice flows, despite a mounting number of collisions with the migrating islands of ice.  Captain Amlwch prayed the forward planks, ribs, spars and timbers would hold up against the punishing blows dealt by the ice pack to the ship’s constitution, knowing that if the Wrexham’s hull were to crack from the pressure of impacting the ice flows, there would be precious little his crew could do to stem the inflow of water below the ship’s waterline.  The Wrexham was overloaded with its heavy cargo of foodstuffs as it was, so any leakage would surely lower the ship well below its designed waterline.  After that, the ship would be vulnerable to additional ice collisions against the thinner hull planking above the designed waterline – as well as rendering it unstable in anything but the mildest of sea states.

That had been the situation up until the cry of “Land Ahoy!” had just been heard from the ship’s watch in the crow’s nest, high above on the main spar in the ship’s rigging.  Captain Amlwch had moved forward to the bow to peer ahead through his spyglass to see if he could see land from the ship’s forward deck that his lookout had proclaimed, and after a tense few minutes he recognized the ‘Three Sisters’ rock islands, the nautical landmark marking the southwestern coastal boundary of the Kingdom of Arwyall – and let out a cry of relief, as did his crew.  It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as the Wrexham wallowed in increasingly difficult seas, while struggling to maintain progress through thickening ice and lessening winds.

It was now all-hands-on-deck as the Wrexham began the process of making a smooth turn northwards to parallel the coastline of Arwyall as closely as possible, while maintaining a safe distance from offshore islands and underwater rock hazards.  The western shoreline of the Kingdom of Arwyall was a beautifully rugged picture of towering rock cliffs, jagged rocky islands, submerged rocks, tidal shallows and shoals.  Captain Amlwch hoped the ice flows would lessen closer to the coast, yet so far it seemed to be the opposite case – for the ice islands appeared through his spyglass to bunch together in a thickening mass that would prevent the Wrexham from passing through them.  If this was indeed the case, the ship might find itself trapped within the ice without any chance of freeing itself within eyesight of their homeland.

Yet, Aberon was still two days north in good seas, and there was no telling when or even if they would ever arrive there.  If they were to become entrapped within the ice flows, there would be no hope for the ship, for the Wrexham would be slowly squeezed by the expanding ice as the winter temperatures dropped, resulting in its hull splitting and sinking from the immense pressure the ice would squeeze it with.  They wouldn’t really know the state of the sea or ice until they reached the coastline itself, and once there, they wouldn’t have the option to reverse course.  The only thing they could possibly do now was to avoid the western coastline altogether, and turn southeast beyond the Three Sisters to sail up the eastern coastline of Arwyall, but that wasn’t their intended destination.  Captain Amlwch rolled the dice and placed his bet on sailing up the western shoreline of Arwyall to Aberon – and it would either work, or it wouldn’t – but as captain, it was his choice to make, and he’d made it.

Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy joined the crew in watching the Wrexham’s turning maneuver that would swing the ship northwards towards Aberon, with everyone hoping they’d find favorable seas, and a lessening of ice pack.  Once the ship completed its turn to the north and began paralleling the coast, the crew knew they were homeward bound, for they felt an easterly wind blowing offshore that kept the ice islands away from the coastline.  It was the very condition that had led Captain Amlwch to believe the ice flows were bunching up and thickening, yet from his earlier perspective he couldn’t tell how far or close the ice accumulation was from shore.  Now that they were hugging the shoreline of Arwyall, the coastal seas were clear of ice for now.

The crew trimmed the Wrexham’s sails for their new northern course with easterly winds, hoping the conditions would remain favorable for their two day voyage to Aberon.  The worst of possibilities now, was that a 180 degree turn in the winds from the west, would trap them between islands of ice and the rocky shoreline in no time at all.  However, the most immediate threat was navigating up the coastline in the dark while avoiding the rocks and shallows of the coast, for they couldn’t spare the time to drop anchor overnight and delay for even a minute longer.  Fortunately, the skies were clear in the frosty cold weather, providing enough light for the ship’s crew to navigate by.  Winter was arriving with a vengeance though, so there was no time to lose…

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Seven

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Seven

~~~~~~~~~~

Maestyg and Jonathan thanked Captain Amlwch again for rescuing them, and for his hospitality aboard the Wrexham just before he left – and after he departed they poured over the charts with Lieutenant Pembroke.  They were seeing for the very first time the outlines of an entirely new world, one that they hadn’t even dared dream of before.  It had been understood that there was nothing beyond the Land of Myllanthar and its islands, and the very thought of something else beyond the Endless Eastern Sea, or any sea, was simply preposterous.  Now they not only understood that was wrong, they were looking at a two-dimensional glimpse of this new world with their very own eyes!

The islands of the Six Kingdoms were as if only the tips and ridge lines of a huge ancient volcano remained above the level of the sea today.  It was evident that all the islands connected together underwater, and the hand drawn charts clearly indicated shallower seas between the islands along the circular perimeter, while deeper water surrounded the central island of the Kingdom of  Ystwyth.  This Federation of Kingdoms, or the Harlech Federation, was clearly a logical outflow of the six island’s proximity to one another, and their association and clan connection was very evident due to the island’s configuration and geography.  They were six individual states combined into a greater sum.

To the south there was a gap across the narrow Sea of Dyffryn to the Merthyr Islands, a chain of 32 smaller islands running west to east, with one central main island harboring the capitol trading port of Emlyn.  South and east of the Merthyr Islands, was a larger landmass with the northwestern coastline designated as the Kingdom of Nefyn, which looked to be a large kingdom of strategic significance due east across the Endless Eastern Sea from the Land of Myllanthar.  The ocean between worlds wasn’t called the Endless Eastern Sea as it was known in Myllanthar though, but rather the Sea of Dawye.

Across the Sea of Dawye running from southwest to northeast was the Trade Winds Current, named after the prevailing trade winds blowing the same direction from southwest to northeast.  This was a charted sea lane for ships traveling back to the northeast after trading with lands to the southwest beyond the edge of this chart.  Another sea lane called the Dolfor Current, ran south from the Six Kingdoms just west of the Merthyr Islands and the Kingdom of Nefyn, before slowly bending towards the southwest off the edge of the chart – clearly the outward current for ships to take when setting out on a trading voyage towards the southwest.

The interesting fact was that the entire area of the Sea of Dawye where the Land of Myllanthar should have been drawn in was blank, principally because there was no ocean current to be found that would take ships from the eastern kingdoms due west, so Myllanthar was totally unknown to the kingdoms of the east.  After pausing for a tour of the Wrexham with Lieutenant Pembroke – Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy then returned to Mr. Higgin’s quarters with Lieutenant Pembroke to begin drawing the Land of Myllanthar with its many kingdoms and associated islands, placing it in position as best they could in relation to the known eastern world.

The seed of knowledge was now planted aboard the Wrexham in the middle of the Endless Eastern Sea or Sea of Dawye, as the eastern world gained insight as to the existence of the western world, and vice versa.  For such is the nature of knowledge, for once a seed is planted it will grow and prosper if cared for, bearing fruit for generations to come…

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Six

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Six

~~~~~~~~~~

“This Arrydor, we have heard rumors of, but little else,” stated Captain Amlwch.  “He is known to us in myth ‘nd legend, yet none have met or seen him.  His name of Illandor is more common, carried on the wind itself to the hearts of our people.  Our need in these times is great, for starvation looms over our kingdom – perhaps he will come to save us in our time of need…”

Jonathan was eager to pipe up saying, “Oh, I’m sure he’ll provide in your people’s time of need, for he cares about everyone and everything, and his name Myllanthal means ‘Caretaker of Life.’  He taught me that Arrydor means ‘Warrior King,’ and that Illandor means ‘Of the Wind’ – but of course, my favorite is Gramps.  That’s what I call my Grandfather, David Alexander Spencer, and Arrydor reminds me of him.”

“I believe your story, Maestyg ‘nd Jonathan, because there’s no harm or malice in either of you.  You will have the full use of the Wrexham in this final week of our voyage.  While I don’t know of this Myllanthar land you speak of, or this Tyull or Ohio – I am very familiar with where I come from, which is called the Kingdom of Arwyall, ‘nd our home port of Aberon.  Aberon is the capitol city of Arwyall, ‘nd the King’s home, Castle Aberyst.  Our kingdom is part of a federation of kingdoms called the Harlech Federation, consistin’ of six united island kingdoms we call the Six Kingdoms.”

“Our federation includes the Kingdom of Arwyall, our home, ‘nd clockwise in a circle to the Kingdom of Gaerwyn, the Kingdom of Dayle, the Kingdom of Pyont, the Kingdom of Glynn, and in the middle, the Kingdom of Ystwyth – the center of our federation.  We are island kingdoms in a circular area of shallow seas, once thought to have been joined together in a single land mass.  Although we are separated by the sea today, we remain forever united in spirit.  Aye, ours is an old civilization, where traditions run deep ‘nd loyalties even deeper, for we are all of the same clan – proud ‘nd independent, ‘nd loyal to a fault.”

Continuing, Capt Amlwch explained, “South of our Six Kingdoms, lies a series of smaller islands which together are called the Merthyr Islands, for they have always been called so.  Their’s is a single tribe with deep roots in their islands, though never becoming a kingdom.  They agree by consensus if they are to agree at all, ‘nd their one aim is to remain neutral ‘nd trade with all equally, yet they will protect their home with their very lives if called to do so.  No kingdom aims to overpower them, for there’s value in neutrality in times of peace ‘nd war.”

Summing up his explanation, Captain Amlwch concluded, “We’re a week out of the Kingdom of Arwyall, ‘nd two more days to Aberon.  Our cargo is needed foodstuffs for our people who are starving, now that the dreaded early northern storm has brought with it winter ‘nd ice two months early.  Our aim is to continue to make progress within the increasingly dense ice flows, ‘nd follow the coastline to Aberon.  There are more lands to the south than I’ve mentioned, principally the Kingdom of Nefyn ‘nd further lands south and east beyond the Merthyr Islands.  Nefyn’s only friends to themselves ‘nd can’t be trusted.  I first had to make sure you weren’t allies of Nefyn, but I never suspected you were, for their accent is terrible to the ears, ‘nd nothing like yours.  I leave you with my Chief Navigator, Lieutenant Pembroke, to study our charts to familiarize yourselves with our lands that are new to you.  You will in turn, instruct Lieutenant Pembroke on charting your Land of Myllanthar for our knowledge, for one day we may have need to discover it for ourselves…”

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Five

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Five

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m Jonathan, and my dog Sammy and I are from Hampton, Ohio, Capt’n,” replied Jonathan while quickly standing to address Captain Amlwch’s concerns.  “Well, more exactly, we’re from the Spencer Family Farm just outside Hampton in Southern Ohio if it matters, and we came here through a cave and found ourselves on the Island Fortress of Tyull.  That’s where we met Maestyg, Sir.”

Captain Amlwch scratched the side of his temple trying to make sense of what Jonathan was saying, clearly confused by what was just said.  “So where is this Ohio you speak of, Lad, I’ve not heard of it before – or this Tyull.  Neither one is a place we’re familiar with, nor the clothes you’re wearing,” stated Captain Amlwch, looking down at Jonathan’s blue jeans and hooded sweatshirt he was wearing.

“We’re not from the Land of Myllanthar, Sir, if that’s what you’re asking.  The easiest way to understand it is we’re not from this world either – we’re from a different place.  It’s a long story, but we traveled here by accident.  You see, we found a staircase at the back of a cave that led us to this Island of Tyull – where we didn’t want to go, because there’s bad people there so we had to escape…”

Captain Amlwch was clearly confused and perplexed by Jonathan’s rambling explanation, and felt he needed a shot of whisky to jolt himself back to his senses.  Turning towards Maestyg for support and clarity, the captain was glad to see the other castaway stand to provide further explanation.

“Captain, this is indeed confusing, but I hope to be able to help you better understand.  My name is Maestyg, and first of all, we mean you, and your ship and crew no harm.  Jonathan and Sammy are from someplace beyond our world, but I’m from the Cliff Dwelling Clan of the Island of Tyull.  There is also an evil fortress built there, but our clan has nothing to do with it, for we inhabited Tyull for generations before the fortress was ever built.  Tyull is an island off the eastern shore of the Land of Myllanthar – a large landmass of many kingdoms due west from here across the Endless Eastern Sea.  We know of no other lands or kingdoms outside Myllanthar.”

Maestyg continued, “I assisted Jonathan and Sammy in escaping from Tyull, for otherwise the guards of the fortress would have captured and imprisoned them both, and worse.  The longboat was not ours, but one we commandeered from the guards in order to escape the island, and were forced to sail east into the Endless Eastern Sea, despite the fact there’s no land to sail to beyond Myllanthar.  A terrible storm from the north wrecked our longboat, and we were at death’s door by the time you came upon and rescued us.  There’s no greater ship that we were cast off from.”

“I’ve not heard of this Myllanthar or Tyull, or this place called Ohio, Maestyg.  How do I know you weren’t prisoners of this Fortress of Tyull, and escaped your rightful punishment?  If that be the case, I would be right to return you to captivity wouldn’t I?  Tell me why I should not do so…”

“Sir, the answer to your question is that we were never prisoners, for Jonathan is just a lad with a dog – and that is no crime.  My people have always lived on Tyull, and have no dealings with the fortress, except on one occasion I assisted a friend who had been falsely imprisoned escape.”

“Who is this friend you assisted in escaping his bonds?” inquired Captain Amlwch while raising an eyebrow in his questioning.

“His name is Myllanthal, Sir.”

“He’s also called Arrydor, Illandor and Gramps, too, Captain – or at least I call him Gramps, because he reminds me of my Grandfather Spencer in Minnesota…”

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Four

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

The Wrexham was a week out from the port of Aberon, finding it increasingly difficult to manage through the ice flows drifting down from the northwest, while at the same time trying to keep up its speed.  The floating casks had worked out rather well as bumper guards around the Wrexham’s bow, and each time an empty cask shattered from a glancing blow with an ice island, it was quickly replaced with another.  At this rate, they’d run out of casks long before reaching the southwest coast of the Kingdom of Arwyall, which meant they had to be ever more careful to avoid contacting the ice.

With word that the castaways, as Captain Amlwch called them, had recovered and wanted to speak with him, he’d proceeded directly to his First Mate’s cabin to talk with them.  Jonathan Higgins had done a remarkable job of nursing Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy back to life after having been found close to death in their shattered longboat, drifting aimlessly at sea.  Captain Amlwch thought to himself as he approached his First Mate’s cabin door how lucky they’d been, for without the sound of a dog barking at sea, Lt. Tenby would have never initiated the turn to port that had saved them.

Captain Amlwch knocked twice on Mr. Higgin’s cabin door, before proceeding to open it and step inside.  He had no idea of what he expected to see, or any idea of what condition the castaways were really in, but regardless, he was taken aback to see Maestyg and Jonathan sitting at the table eating a meal, while Sammy did the same from a bowl set on the floor.  The three of them looked like they’d completely recovered their strength again – which was amazing in and of itself – but Captain Amlwch was further encouraged when the two of them stood up at the captain’s entrance into the quarters as a sign of respect.

“Please, take your seats, gentlemen, don’t stand on my accord when you should still be recoverin’.  Aye, it’s good to see you have your strength back and you’re taking sustenance again – it looks like Mr. Higgins has secured even better meals for you than he has for me – but of course, you’re in greater need of nourishment than I am,” said Captain Amlwch as he rubbed his more than adequate stomach.  “Let it be known to everyone that the Wrexham is a hospitable ship if she’s anything at all!” he added with a chuckle.  “Not that that’s all she is mind you, she’s the best Corvette Class ship in the King’s Navy she is, and we’ve pressing business that can’t be delayed…”

After Maestyg and Jonathan both took their seats again, it was Maestyg that spoke next saying, “I speak for Jonathan and his dog Sammy as well, Capt’n, when I say thank you for rescuing us.  We would have died without you having found us, and providing us with the rest, warmth and nourishment to recover.  We owe you our lives, and for that we are forever grateful and indebted to your service.”

“Well, you’re very welcome, but it was nothin’ that any other God fearin’ sea capt’n would’ve done as well.  We all live by the code of the sea, ‘nd it’s our duty to rescue brothers ‘nd sisters at sea.  But on a more serious note, tell me, why were you in the middle of the ocean in such a shattered longboat – one that our crew hadn’t recognized or seen before?  From what ship are you castaways from, and to where were you sailin’ from and to…”

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Three

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

Lieutenant Tenby, the Wrexham’s First Officer, was the first to speak saying, “My desire is to make every attempt to deliver our cargo to Aberon, for our people’s needs come before our own.  Yet, I agree with your assessment of needing to avoid the ice.  Aye, if we maintain course and follow the Trade Winds Current, we’ll surely become entrapped in the ice.  I feel there’s a middle way though, one that doesn’t take us near Nefyn.  If we adjust our course just a few degrees to the east, we can stay within the Trade Winds Current at a good rate of speed God willin’, where the ice flows are fewer and farther between.”

“What say ye, Mr. Higgins?” asked Captain Amlwch.

“I say we try Lieutenant Tenby’s idea until it either works or becomes unworkable, and only if necessary should we revise our course farther eastward.  A delay in changing course should take us north of the Merthyr Islands, placing us farther away from Nefyn and lessening our risk.  We also have the option of sailing into the port of Emlyn there if needed, where we will receive a favorable reception.  Perhaps this early northern storm is just a fluke, and we can wait it out until warmer weather prevails.  There’s also the possibility of transferring our cargo into smaller ships that can row within the ice flows easily enough, for it’s but a week’s row for a crew from Merthyr to Six Kingdoms, and another two days to Aberon.”

“Lieutenant Pembroke?” inquired Captain Amlwch.

“Both suggestions are worthy of adoptin’, Capt’n, but I have a third.  The ice flows are far from solid at this point, for there is still some distance between islands, ‘nd the water is warm enough to rapidly melt them from below.  In two week’s time that won’t be the case, for the main current will slow as the colder waters move southeast.  Our speed is hampered the most from makin’ continuous avoidance turns side to side to miss the ice.  Me guess is the islands of ice don’t extend deep enough underwater to endanger the ship’s seaworthiness ‘nd stability.  If we rig the bow with bumpers at the waterline, we can risk pushin’ up against the ice with a glancin’ blow, ‘nd reduce the need to slow down ‘nd make so many avoidance turns.  Last I checked, we have a number of empty casks below deck, ‘nd if we rig them to float at the bow they can reduce the impact to the ship’s timbers from strikin’ the ice.  The only point is that we cannot accept direct impacts, ‘nd must plan on glancin’ blows only.”

“Aye, if we change course two degrees to starboard, and rig the empty casks as bumpers, we should reach the southwest coast of the Kingdom of Arwyall and be able to follow the coastline north to Aberon.  We’ll need to maintain a constant watch day and night at the bow with relays back to the wheel, and my guess is we’re still ten days out of Aberon.  Do I have your votes on this plan?” asked Captain Amlwch.

“Aye,” was the consensus expressed by the others, who wanted to balance the needs of the people of Aberon, along with ensuring the Wrexham’s survival.  It was an arduous journey of sailing within the ice flows, yet the slightly eastern course adjustment allowed them to continue to stay along the thinner leading edge of the encroaching islands of ice flowing down from the northwest.

Three days had elapsed without significant issues, leaving another week remaining to the Sea of Arwyall and Aberon, when Mr. Higgins came to Captain Amlwch’s quarters with the message, “The castaways have regained their health, Capt’n, and are asking to speak with you.”

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Two

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part Two

~~~~~~~~~~

The next day, Jonathan Higgins, the Wrexham’s First Mate, addressed Captain Amlwch saying, “The castaways are slowly improving, Capt’n, takin’ water and food, but not much else.  They seem to have deplet’d all their energy, ‘n me thinks were close to dead.  I figure in a few days they’ll come around ‘n gain their strength again, but it’s painfully slow in comin’.”

“Right.  I want you to do all you can to bring them ’round, Mr. Higgins – I don’t plan on losin’ anyone on this trip, even if they came to us on their last legs.  Besides, I think we can learn something from them, but not until you’ve nursed them back to health.  They seem to be an unusual lot.  Let me know when they’re fit again, and until then, keep them confined to your quarters.  I want to be the first to talk to them when they’ve recovered.”

“Aye, aye, Capt’n – should be a few days yet, but I’ll let you know.”

The Wrexham had made painfully slow progress toward’s the northeast following the Trade Winds Current, as its speed had to be cut to half due to the increased ice flows it encountered along the way.  Every indication was they’d not reach the Arwyall Sea and their home port of Aberon prior to the arrival of heavy ice, which would be impossible for the Wrexham to pass through.  How and why the early northern storm had dipped so far to the south was a mystery that left everyone shaking their heads, as it had never happened before in recorded history.

In the meantime, Lieutenant Pembroke had charted an alternative eastern route south of the Six Kingdoms, which now looked more and more to be their only option.  Slowing the Wrexham’s pace back to Aberon by half had been the blow they couldn’t overcome.  Not only was the sea lane filled with an increasin’ number of ice islands each day now, but it had become almost impossible to avoid them, for every avoidance turn placed them on a collision course towards the next ice flow, slowing their forward progress that much more.  It had been three days now since their initial turn to port to rescue the castaways, and Captain Amlwch needed to make a decision that he’d been dreading to make.

Calling his Chief Navigator, First Officer and First Mate together at the ship’s wheel, he informed them of the most difficult decision he’d ever made saying, “Gentlemen, I’ve reached a decision.  We cannot continue dodgin’ islands of ice, or we’ll damage the ship or worse.  Unfortunately, that means we’ll not make the Arwyall Sea and Aberon before winter sets in.  It also means our cargo of foodstuffs won’t reach the people in time to prevent starvation from setting in.  I don’t understand how such a harsh winter can arrive this early in autumn, but it has, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  So I now direct Lieutenant Pembroke to initiate an eastward turn along our alternate southern route, which should allow us to avoid these ice flows for now, and to increase our speed once again.”

Captain Amlwch continued, “While this southern route will help us avoid ice and increase our speed, it presents its own challenges.  We’ll sail due south of the Six Kingdoms, and our only option then is to try to arrive at the Kingdom of Arwyall from the eastern side, at the Port of Tydfyll.  That means having to distribute our cargo across the mountains back to Aberon where it’s most needed – that is, if we can even get into Tydfyll.  Otherwise, we may not have a choice but to offload in one of the other five kingdoms, which at least helps others while our own people starve, but it can’t be helped.”

“The real issue, though,” emphasized Captain Amlwch, “is that our course takes us near the Kingdom of Nefyn.  While we don’t have an argument with Nefyn, they are an unpredictable lot, and one never knows what their intentions are, or whether they decide to invent an argument with us just to inspect our cargo.  If they board us, which we can’t prevent by ourselves, they may decide to seize our cargo for their own people.  If that were to happen, it would be the worst possible outcome, for we may become their prisoners to prevent the truth from coming out.  As long as we can’t contradict them, Nefyn can deny they’ve ever encountered the Wrexham – all the while strippin’ this proud ship to make her their own.  I can’t even bear to think it, and to be fair, I’ll give each of you a vote – what say ye?”

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel) – Book Three, Chapter Five, Part One – New Realms

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Three, Chapter Five, Part One – New Realms

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“What’re you doing, Lieutenant Tenby, what goes on ‘ere – tis madness!” shouted Captain Amlwch, determined to root out the nonsense that was happening topside.  “I gave no such orders to reverse course, ‘nd your maneuvers are placin’ the ship at great risk – I demand answers!”

“Aye, aye, Captain – I heard a dog barkin’ port side, ‘nd felt an obligation to investigate it further.  I haven’t left the ship’s wheel yet, but there must be a reason for it.  Request permission to scan the sea and locate the disturbance.”

“Nay, Lieutenant, stay your position, we’ve no time to play games ‘ere.  If the ice migrates as we think it will, there’ll be no making it back to port at this rate, ‘nd we risk the ship lockin’ up in the ice flows.  I’ll not place the ship ‘nd crew – not to mention the cargo – at risk, all about hearin’ a dog barking at sea!  Nay, I’ve enough of this foolishness, ‘nd as soon as I clear the turn back to course, I’ll ‘ave you steer us back round to port to fill the sails again!”

Captain Amlwch stepped to the port gunwale to clear the turn round to course, when he shouted out an exclamation of surprise and bewilderment, “Lieutenant Tenby, you’re right – there’s a longboat ‘nd crew in distress not 50 meters abeam midship to port.  Launch the pram ‘nd let down the climbin’ nettin’, Lieutenant Tenby, ‘nd send out a crew to rescue the crew of two ‘nd their dog!”

Lieutenant Tenby issued the Captain’s command by whistle, and shouted additional directives to the Wrexham’s crew as they scurried to quarters to carry out the Captain’s orders.

The dinghy reached the shattered longboat in short order and recovered the unresponsive bodies of Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy – carefully placed them into the praam, before scuttling the ruined longboat that couldn’t be salvaged.  A winch net was lowered over the side to hoist the limp bodies of the shipwrecked crew one by one, as they were unable to climb aboard the Wrexham or even acknowledge their rescuers.  In fact, the crew of the Wrexham were convinced they’d taken on lifeless bodies only to then need to turn around and bury them at sea, but orders were orders, and Captain Amlwch insisted they be taken below deck, and given every attention necessary to recover in the First Mate’s Quarters.

After the jolly ship was recovered back aboard deck, the Captain issued orders to make haste and sail as quickly as possible back to course following the Trade Winds Current to the northeast.  He was afraid their window of opportunity for returning was closing rapidly, and as Captain Amlwch gazed at additional islands of ice gathering in the northwest through his spyglass, he feared it was already too late.  No matter how dire the implications for the homeward bound leg of their journey turned out, Captain Amlwch was first and foremost a Sea Captain, and would never be known as one who passed up a stranded vessel with sailors on the high seas – not now, not ever – not on his watch.

The ship’s navigator was taking a fix on the current position of the sun and now visible moon, carefully measuring the horizontal and vertical angles, and noting the day, time and season, while cross-comparing latitude and longitude calculations he’d made for each day they had been underway to date.  Taking those positions off his sextant and fixed compass rose, he then plotted his calculations on the charts laid out in the Captain’s Quarters below deck, slowly shaking his head with each and every observation he recorded on the chart to fix their current position.

After turning the Wrexham back over to Lieutenant Tenby’s watch, Captain Amlwch met his navigator, Lieutenant Pembroke, at the chart table in his quarters asking, “What’s the news, Lieutenant Pembroke, what ‘as this done to us, pray tell?”

“Nay, there’s no good come of it, Captain, we’ve lost half a day with this maneuver.  At this rate, we’ll fall a week short of the Arwyall Sea ‘nd Aberon, before the sea lanes are clogged with ice.  Even now, we must reduce ‘r speed at night ‘nd set a watch with torches over the bow, or we risk collidin’ with an ice flow at night.  Soon we’ll have to reduce speed durin’ the day as well, as there’ll be too many icebergs to avoid to keep up such a reckless pace.  My advice is to set the night watch ‘nd slow by half, or we risk never makin’ it back to Aberon.”

“Tis’ too early to slacken the pace, Lieutenant Pembroke, the islands of ice ‘re few ‘nd far between at this point, ‘nd the greater risk is in losin’ time.  I’ll order the watch set, ‘nd ensure a relay back to the ship’s wheel to initiate avoidance maneuvers, but speed is too precious to lose now, especially with favorable winds to our backs.”

With that, the Captain’s orders were given to his First Mate to carry out above deck, where torches and a watch were set for night operations in the bowsprit’s rigging at the ship’s prow.  If the Wrexham couldn’t beat the ice flows into the Sea of Arwyall, they’d never make it back to their home port of Aberon, which would be iced in for the duration of the winter.  If that were to happen, he’d have to devise an alternative route and plan of action to avoid the northern latitudes.  Of course other options were available, but none of them desirable, especially with their valuable cargo aboard – for these foodstuffs were needed in Aberon and the Six Kingdoms to survive such an early winter.  Failure wasn’t an option, and speed was of the essence.   They wouldn’t slow down, for they couldn’t – kingdoms were counting on him…