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…

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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

~~~~~~~~~~

“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…

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

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Three, Chapter Four, Part Ten

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One never ever knows the moments that really count, until we’ve either seized them or watched helplessly as they sailed past us, and so it was with Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy.  The longboat continued to flounder aimlessly while riding low in the swells and dips of the sea, hidden and disguised within the shadowy troughs of darkened waves – revealing nothing of itself voluntarily to the crew of the tall sailing ship that was rapidly approaching from the southwest, with its sails filled with favorable breezes.  Timing is everything, or so the saying goes, but not if time itself is unrecognizable to those who are counting on it, and so it was for the unconscious sailors of the shattered longboat drifting aimlessly within the Trade Winds Current.

Maestyg and Jonathan lay there across their respective benches, comfortably riding the rising and falling swells, completely unaware of their surroundings as if already transformed into the ghosts they had feared to come across.  Sammy slept curled up in the ship’s bow as only dogs can, wrapped in dreams of chasing rabbits on the Spencer Family Farm in times that were far better than these.  While better off physically than either Maestyg or Jonathan was, even Sammy was beginning to fade away into a shadow of himself.  This was as sad an outcome as possible for an adventure that had shown such promise, but one that had not been properly thought through even from the beginning.  Yet, when do adventures abide by the desired outcomes of their participants?  Never – for adventures pledge their loyalty to only chance, probability and fate…

As the tall sailing ship approached the drifting longboat, this was the moment that would change everything, or nothing at all.  The sailing ship was a fast sailing, highly maneuverable, and lightly armed ship of the Corvette Class, riding the strong current and prevailing winds in haste back to its home port of Aberon in the Kingdom of Arwyall, before the expanding ice from the north filled the sea lanes.  This was the last overseas run of the trading season for the Wrexham, and Captain Amlwch had dangerously overstayed his return while acquiring his cargo – now having to race back to port, so as to not get trapped in the flows of migrating ice.

If there had been a time to catch the attention of such a magnificent ship it was now, yet Maestyg and Jonathan were oblivious to how near and yet how far away their potential rescue was to them, unable to do anything but fade into the transparency of timeless dreams.  The tall ship was almost upon them now, but none of its crew were manning the gunwales or lookout stations for low riding, distressed longboats within the shadows of the troughs and endless swells.  In fact, Captain Amlwch and his chief navigator were gathered around the charts spread out over tables below deck in the Captain’s quarters, tracking the speed and timing of their return trip home still some weeks away.  They worried about the early arrival of the first great northern storm they had just weathered, and its implications for the early movement of ice into the shipping lanes blocking their transit home.

Perhaps it had been the end of a dream, one where the rabbit had gotten away for the umpteenth time that had roused Sammy, but whatever the cause, he lifted his head and saw the Corvette bearing down on them at a high rate of speed, just off their port side.  The tall ship was going to pass by them in its haste within a stone’s throw, yet no one had or would see them wallowing helplessly in the swells, for their attention was focused solely on the first ice of the season.  Sammy alerted to the significance of what was passing directly beside them, and began barking as he had never barked before – both as a warning to Maestyg and Jonathan, but also to frighten off what he perceived to be a threat to their survival – for the ship’s wake alone would swamp and sink them at such close quarters.

Neither Maestyg or Jonathan stirred from Sammy’s barking, as they were themselves fading into transparency beyond dreams.  Sammy kept up his barking until he had no energy remaining, and collapsed to the bottom of the ship’s hull.  It was only afterwards that the First Officer blew his whistle with the signal to slacken the sails, and then turned hard to port circling back towards the sound he heard of a dog barking at sea.  Captain Amlwch wondered what madness was occurring topside, and charged up the stairs to confront what was happening as the sails slackened and the Wrexham reversed course.  Such a delay could put the entire crew, cargo and ship at risk, for becoming entrapped in the early sea ice would be their demise, and Captain Amlwch was determined to find out what was at the bottom of this outrageous and willful action conducted by his First Officer…

(End of Chapter Four)

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

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Three, Chapter Four, Part Nine

~~~~~~~~~~

An eerie aura had set in over the shattered longboat and its languishing occupants, casting the atmosphere of a funeral dirge over the ship had a lyricist or musician been present to interpret the mournful scene.  As the day progressed, neither Maestyg, Jonathan or Sammy moved a muscle, conserving what remaining strength they had to simply inhale and exhale breath.  The sun carried on as it always does, rising and falling across the sky unaware of the mournful drama that was taking place below it in the Endless Eastern Sea.  What had initially been a celebration of adventure for a boy and his dog from Southern Ohio, had now become a slow and lingering journey towards oblivion, where no one would know or remember how the three of them succumbed to their fateful ends.

It wasn’t the fear of known threats that had done them in so much, but one of not knowing what they couldn’t possibly have known.  The wild northern storm that made its way out of the arctic north was unprecedented for this time of the year.  Instead of showing up in mid-August, such a storm normally arrived in late December or January, but they couldn’t have known that either.  If it hadn’t been for their escape from the Island Fortress of Tyull, and the alert guards that pursued them, they would have never have been in the situation to even venture into the Endless Eastern Sea – let alone, worry about the timing of threatening northern storms.  In fact, few people cared what happened in this part of the extended world beyond the Land of Myllanthar, for there was no known landmass other than the Continent of Myllanthar and its associated islands.

No one in fact, really knew or cared whether their world was flat or round, or what existed or didn’t exist beyond the horizons, for it was of no concern to them.  For all they knew or cared, the endless seas surrounding Myllanthar to the north, east, south and west were just that – endless.  Beyond the named seas surrounding Myllanthar, everything was simply an endless void, of no value or concern to peoples’ day-to-day reality of simply trying to survive.  It was hard enough to eke out a living as it was for most folks, without looking for reasons to contemplate what was unknowable beyond the seas.

While this mindset of Myllanthar’s population was closed off to wonder and exploration, it actually was an understandable extension of their day-to-day lives, for what purpose would it have served?  Common sense told them if there was anything beyond the seas, it was liable to find them without having to expend the effort of finding it – an effort they were ill-equipped to undertake.  History had served them well in supporting their claims of nothing beyond the Land of Myllanthar, as there had never been a documented contact with anyone or anything beyond what was already known.

What wasn’t known though, was that this wide expanse of deep water was a principle current flowing from the southwest towards the northeast called the Trade Winds Current, completely beyond the reach of the coastal seas of Myllanthar.  In a circular world where seas flowed in expansive rivers of water, mingling and distributing themselves within a network of circulation encompassing the entire planet, there were those who know these sea lanes and regularly sailed them.  In fact, circumnavigating the globe was only possible within one of these deep channels of flowing seawater, for outside these known currents it was impossible to travel outside coastal waters.   For outside areas where the seas flowed in uniform deep currents, water remained stationary at best and stagnant at worse, causing great watery deserts of doldrums to entrap ships in a windless web of no escape.

Had anyone been keeping watch, they may have noticed more than an isolated island of floating ice in the distance, or the additional icebergs off to the north.  They might have also seen the tip of a mast just above the horizon to the southwest.  It would have been hard to notice the mast though, even if they had been looking for it, but in time it would grow and get nearer to where they were aimlessly carried along by the current towards the northeast.  The more important issue, had these one-time adventurers been aware of the situation, was that their shattered longboat was camouflaged within the waves and troughs of the Endless Eastern Sea, riding just above the waterline in a dark wooden hull that not only drew no attention to it, but disappeared as unrecognizable against the backdrop of the dark waves…

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

Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Three, Chapter Four, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a difficult process for Maestyg and Jonathan to regain their senses, let alone prod their bodies to respond to anything except for the desire to lie back down and go to sleep.  Somehow they both managed to sit up in the bottom of the hull, and assess their situation as best they were able to.  They remained soaked to the bone sitting in about 3 inches of water sloshing in the wrecked longboat’s hull, however, the sun shone brightly above them in brilliant blue skies.  Jonathan had completely lost all sense of feeling in his extremities, while Maestyg was better off physically, although they both had exhausted all of their energy and strength reserves over the past days and while battling the storm.

Sammy was glad to see they had both awoken, but there was little either of them could do for themselves, until Maestyg realized they had to either act or die there in the bottom of the shattered ship.  He helped Jonathan onto the front bench again to balance out the craft, as well as to give his clothes an opportunity to dry out in the warming sunshine.  Meanwhile, Maestyg made short work of bailing out the remaining seawater in the hull, before resting himself across the second bench from the ship’s bow – which balanced the craft even more by raising the makeshift bulkhead at the aft end of the shattered ship higher in the water for the moment.

Seawater continued slowly entering the boat’s hull through both the split planks of the hull and the acting bulkhead, but nothing like the amount of water that had washed over the gunwales during the peak of the storm.  Maestyg realized he had time to thaw and dry out in the sunshine, before having to turn his attention back to the bailing bucket.  Jonathan had passed out again while lying on the first bench in the bow, and Maestyg shook him to wake up and drink some of their remaining water along with himself and Sammy.  After finishing their water reserves entirely, they both went back to resting across the dry benches, while Sammy curled up in the front of the bow near Jonathan.

They had no capability at all to think about their situation beyond warming in the sunshine and allowing their clothing to dry out.  Meanwhile, their shattered longboat continued drifting aimlessly within a swift moving deep ocean current, that carried them steadily towards the northeast.  If they had had the presence to look out across the sea, they wouldn’t have suspected they were in a strong ocean current, unless they had a point of land to reference their movement by, which they didn’t.  As it was, they couldn’t have cared less now, as their water reserves were gone and their remaining portions of dried fish swept overboard during the storm.  There was little they cared about now, except for the calming sensation of sleep, as if giving themselves permission to just completely let go.

Sammy was far better off than either his master or Maestyg, as he had long ago dried out, and rode the storm out relatively securely in the bow of the longboat underneath the front tarp and bench.  The tarp had long ago torn off in the relentless winds, leaving them without any shade now from the merciless sun – the same sun that now warmed them back to life.   The endless eastern horizon remained unchanged, without a sign of anything that might improve their situation, for better or for worse.  Without water, this helpless shattered craft and ailing crew would become a ghost ship itself within days or even hours, and there was precious little any of them could do about it.

It appeared their demise hadn’t come from sea monsters, doldrums, whirlpools, watery graveyards of flotsam and jetsam, ghost ships or pirates at all, but rather from an intense northerly storm that had brought with it the first salvo of winter from the northern reaches of the Endless Eastern Sea – for even now, the first small section of ice floated in the distance, yet there were many more chunks of ice remaining in the Northern Sea where it had drifted down from.  Soon the entire current of deep water would fill with these migrating islands of ice, dispersing them farther towards the northeast – and with them, the tidings and arrival of winter…