Rashied drew in a deep breath. He leaned back until more than half his body hung out over open air. From up in the nest, it was the ship that looked small. It was an insect scurrying across the ocean’s surface. He loved imagining it, and spent a good deal of his time aloft coming up with stories for the brave little bug. But that wasn’t what he was at today. Today his eyes were for the sky.
He kept them closed while his face was pointed straight up, letting the sun beat down on him until he felt his skin might burst into flames. He knew better than to let the sun cook his eyes, though it always tempted him. He envied the gods that. It seemed a terrible injustice that they kept a secret beauty in Elysium when they already had the Abyss as their own.
There was no wind.
In so many ways the ocean was exactly how he imagined the Abyss. It was beautiful and dangerous. There was nothing constant about it; its bitter waters were ever-changing. Even now, when the surface was still as glass, life and death were lurking in darkness too thick for his sharp eyes to penetrate. At any second it might rise up and swallow anyone foolish enough to trust it. The mysteries it held were endless and unfathomable. Discovering even the smallest part of those was the only thing he wanted for his life.
But sometimes the ocean was a real bitch.
The crew respected the captain of the Fortune’s Promise. Many of them even liked the grizzled old man. To him and Chetana, Arturas was a hero. But like and respect didn’t fill bellies or take a turn at the oars. This ill-fated journey was looking to be the death of them all, and it would take more than Rashied to fight against the murmurs of mutiny sweeping through the lower decks. The tiny rations and long days of drifting along were dragging even the most loyal into the mutterings. The destination they were heading for didn’t help matters at all. Few people believed it even existed.
Rashied did. Even in his grandfather’s youth, griffins were nothing but children’s stories. But the ocean was big. The idea that there might be an island for such creatures somewhere in the great blue expanse was not hard for him to believe in. But he was just one boy – two with Chetana at his side – and that wasn’t enough to stand against the tide as it turned.
He cursed and dropped back into in the nest. Rashied always found clarity up here; he could find a sense of the true currents of the world that made the Fortune’s politics fade into background noise. But today they held him tight and squeezed around his heart.
He was fourteen, and not the strapping sort like Chetana who was already big enough to pull an oar. Though Rashied was plenty strong and could work the ropes like no one else aboard, his legs weren’t long enough to reach the floor when he sat a bench. For all his skill above, men were starting to look on him with the same angry eyes they did Arturas. He was sure that if the mutiny was successful, he would end up joining the captain for a swim. That didn’t bother him so much. He would likely find some way to survive. If he was wrong, he was okay with ending his days beneath the waves. But he knew his best friend would follow him overboard without a second thought. Chetana was always two steps behind him, whether Rashied wanted it or not. That bothered him quite a bit.
If only there was wind!