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)