164/366 – Aboard the Tide Fare

Day 22 of 100 Word Prompts: Truck

Judah stood at the bow of the ship, watching the waves crash against the hull. Delight filled him as he saw dolphins jumping from the water, and the crew working diligently on the deck. Having never been aboard a ship, everything about this was a new experience.

“Good morning, Judah,” Zhen said, approaching him.

“Good morning, Zhen. Can you believe our journey has started? I still can’t get over this vessel. It’s almost magical,” Judah replied, looking around.

“It is a wonderful thing to begin our journey together,” Zhen said with a nod. “Have you figured out what it is that we are looking for yet?”

“No, but my father told me I’d know it when I see it. It will define the type of leader I intend to be in the village,” Judah replied.

“I see,” Zhen said, clasping his hands behind his back.

“Don’t be like that,” Judah said, “You knew this could take some time finding what I needed. I’m still not sure why you agreed to come with me.”

“I agreed to come with you because our paths are connected. From the time you arrived at Ameshead, there was something different about you, and you displayed that in the vault,” Zhen said. “You think differently than the others, which means I can learn from you.”

“Is that what you’re hoping to get out of this?” Judah asked. “I’m not sure that I can teach you much of anything. You heard Master Zeed. I couldn’t even learn how to be a monk like you.”

“To be a monk is a commitment to the monastery, you’ve already committed to your village. There’s no reason to be sad that you were unable to abandon your home. Just as there is no reason that I couldn’t learn more from you throughout our journey together,” Zhen replied.

“I’m not going to lie, Zhen. I was a little nervous about taking this trip alone. Thank you for coming with me,” Judah said.

“It is my pleasure,” Zhen replied with a small bow.

Judah turned to look back over the side of the ship, and rather than dolphins and waves crashing against the hull, he saw small pieces of wood floating on the water. He looked out further over the water and saw more parts, each larger than the last until he found the source. A small, single-masted ship broken and stuck on some rocks.

“All hands above deck,” Captain Saunders boomed from the helm. “Shipwreck off the port bow! Leevey, get a torch on that truck up there!”

“Zhen, do you see that?” Judah asked, pointing as the ship’s sails fell slack.

“I do,” Zhen replied, stepping up to the railing. “I wonder what happened.”

In the distance, Judah could make out the movement of several creatures on what remained of the ship. Zhen stood next to him, watching them as well. As the vessel grew closer, it became evident that the ship was still under siege, and several of the crew had died already.

Green, almost man-like creatures with fins on either side of their head, fought the few humans left on the wreck with crude spears. The sound of a conch horn blasting drew Judah’s attention as the sound of banging began against the side of the ship.

“We’re under attack, lads!” Captain Saunders cried, “Draw your weapons! Sahuagin are coming!”

“What’s a sahuagin?” Judah asked, looking to Zhen.

Zhen shrugged as a web-fingered hand came over the top of the railing, followed quickly by one of the green-skinned creatures. Its webbed feet slammed to the deck, revealing the eight-foot-tall beast’s scales, shell pauldrons, and tail as it roared at them.

“Look out, Zhen!” Judah yelled as he pulled his bow from his back and took to the air.

The sahuagin lashed out with a crystal-tipped spear toward Zhen, who side-stepped and grabbed the weapon. Judah knocked an arrow and fired quickly. The creature roared in pain as the arrow sank into its back.

Zhen gripped the spear and spun himself around, letting the momentum of his twist accelerate his kick and aide in his removal of the creature’s weapon. The spear came free from the sahuagin’s grip, but the beast lunged for Zhen, sinking its sharp teeth into his arm.

“They’re biters?” Judah said as he knocked another arrow, shaking his head disapprovingly. “Of course they’re biters.”

The sahuagin lashed out at Zhen once more, this time revealing the claws it wielded its hands, but he rolled out of the way, narrowly avoiding the strike.

Judah loosed another arrow as the creature looked up at him. The projectile entered the beast’s roaring mouth and stuck. He watched as the sahuagin flailed for a moment, trying to pull the arrow out before it collapsed to the deck and brownish blood poured from the creature’s mouth.

“Are you okay?” Judah called down to Zhen as he flew overhead.

“I’m fine,” Zhen said, waving him off.

“I’m going to go check on the shipwreck for survivors,” Judah said. “You wait here.”

“How would I get there?” Zhen called after him as he flew away.

Judah approached the wreck to find a human with no hair fighting with a four-armed sahuagin that was significantly larger than the one he had just seen. The human wore a set of black leather armor and wielded two short swords.

The sahuagin spun his trident in a wide arc, coming across the man’s front before doubling back to strike once again. The human practically danced around attacks, deflecting those that got too close with a swing of his sword or a roll away.

Judah knocked another arrow and loosed it. To his surprise, the arrow hit where he was aiming, but somehow the hide of this sahuagin was thicker, and it practically fell off.

“What can I do to help?” Judah yelled down.

“Keep shooting,” the man replied as he ran up the mast in one swift movement, balancing at the top with one foot. “If I had my bow, this would be a lot easier.”

Judah retrieved another arrow as the man leapt from the mast, crashing into the sahuagin with both swords. The creature roared in pain as Judah aimed and loosed his shot. It collided with the creature’s eye as the creature stumbled back and tripped off of the ship.

“Good work! Can you carry me?” the man said.

“I can try,” Judah replied, flying closer to the deck.

“Well, let’s hope you can. Those things are going to frenzy now,” the man replied, running up the mast to meet Judah halfway. “They’re like sharks. The smell of blood, even their own, drives them nuts.”

Judah reached out and began flapping his wings as hard as he could. Much to his surprise, the man didn’t weigh as much as he thought. He was still heavy, of course, but was lighter than expected as he adjusted his route back to The Tide Fare.

Judah saw Zhen fighting on the deck with the crew of the ship, aiding in pushing back more of the sahuagin that seemed to be multiplying on the deck.

“Bring me to the helm,” the man said. “We need to get the ship away from here. They won’t stop coming unless we leave or kill them all.”

Judah did as requested, dropping the man at the helm of the ship before doubling back and drawing his bow once more. He focused around two of the crew who seemed to have more of a hard time fighting the creatures’ steady onslaught until he ran out of arrows.

Judah dropped to the deck of the ship, drawing his own sword as the sails suddenly filled with wind, and the ship lurched forward. The ship began its turn away from the wreckage, and the crew steadily fought off the remaining sahuagin on board until none were left.

“Casualties Report,” Captain Saunders called as he stomped his way toward the helm.

“Five dead, Captain,” another crew member replied. “All others accounted for.”

“Thank you, Vance,” Captain Saunders replied with a nod. “Let’s get the dead gathered so they can be honored properly after I get this fool off my helm.”

“Yes, Captain,” Vance replied as he ran off and relayed the orders.

Judah reached the helm just as the man stepped away from the wheel.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything funny, Captain,” the man said.

“I would think not. You’re hardly in a position to do anything right now. Welcome to the Tide Fare, erm-”

“Evenwood. Captain John Evenwood,” he replied.

“Captain John Evenwood,” Captain Saunders replied as though he had heard the name before. “How did you get on my ship?”

“That would be my fault, Captain. He was fighting one of the creatures on the wreckage and needed-” Judah began.

“Good job, sailor. What’s your name?” Captain Saunders asked.

“Judah,” he replied.

“Nice to meet you, Judah,” Captain Saunders said. “Now, get back to work.”

“We don’t work on this ship, Captain,” Zhen said, appearing next to Judah as if he materialized. “We chartered this ship to bring us from Causter Island to Newcestore in Heyles.”

“That’s right! The blue man and the birdman,” Captain Saunders replied, pointing at the respective individual. “Why are you on deck. You should have stayed in your cabin. You shouldn’t be exposed to this sort of danger. What’s wrong with you?”

“If I may, Captain,” Captain Evenwood stepped in, putting an arm around each of them. “I’ll take these two fine, upstanding individuals below deck to their quarters. Get them out of your hair and our of mind, okay?”

“Good thinking, Evenwood,” Captain Saunders replied with a nod.


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