Three days have passed since it left port, and the skies and calm waters have been clear since. During the third, on a bright sunny day aboard the vessel there was a noise coming from the food storage, where a burly man was loading up some bowls of bread and salted meat for the crew. Choosing from the wheat or the plain white breads, the man had to be sure that there would be enough left for the return home. Turning to the left, he found the barrels containing the salted meat and pork. Temptation was great when it came to the salted pork, especially coming from the town’s butcher, Galen. The man bit his lips knowing that he would never hear the end of it from the captain about not having enough salted pork, so the meat was on the menu for tonight. Closing the door behind him when leaving the storage room, he made his way towards the dining quarters where the crew was, awaiting a good meal and a reason why it was late.
Entering in the room with bowls carried on his arms filled with salted meat and bread, the crew locked their eyes with anticipation. While some crew members were helping with placing the bowels, at the end of the table the captain eyed the burly man that held the bowls with suspicion. “Nills, did ye happen ta’ fancy anything while on your run to the storage room? Say a lusty pork with a bit o’ salt from our dear ol’ butcher Galen?” the captain bellowed from beneath his rugged grey beard. Nills looked up in amazement that the captain would be a mind reader, but laughed at the remark. “No captain Hars, the pork tempt me no less than listening to one of the mayor’s speeches.” he replied with knowing to be a bit faster to fetch the food next time. “Ah good, because ye know it’d be the plank for the glutton!” the captain said with roaring with a laughter following. There were rumors that captain Hars was once a great pirate that sailed the seas with the most terrible crew, and looting any boat and town they came across. But time was never to be fought and won over, and the captain grew old and tired of the pirating ways. Though there are still pirates sailing the waters, they best to steer clear of Hars due to reputation.
After the meal and swapping stories with the crew, it was reaching midnight and it was Nills that had to take the crow’s nest. Upon reaching the top of the mast, he looked around the horizon for any rock or obstacle that would pose a threat to the ship. An hour passed and nothing to do but watch the stars and seas, time seemed to slow during his shift. Pulling a grayed picture out and straitening out the corners, the picture of his lover back home made his memories burst with happiness. News that she would be with child soon, now that would be two for him. The other is his son Darren, a five year old that his following his father’s foot steps. Still fishing off the docks while his father works, the boy is always amazed of what great ships come in far and wide from the distant lands. Nills doesn’t regret going along with the rest on the White Pearl, ever seeing the blue prints made him realize the potential of what could be discovered across the oceans. Of course neighboring towns have done the same, but to find a new land filled with paradise was very rare. It is told however, that one distant land is to be left alone for all time. A great fire took hold of a town placed on top of a mountain, and after a few days when the fire was out there were was nothing left but make-shift tombstones everywhere. No one knew of how the fire started or why, but from some people who actually went there say that a man can be seen in the thickness of the mountain fog, digging another grave.
Thinking back on the picture of the woman, Nills sighed heavily. His breath could be seen from the cold air, and the night was fading into light slowly as time passed. Leaning on the nest’s railing, he could see a slither of a bright horizon coming up, and the stars fading from it. Like a ball trapped in a sphere of light and darkness, every shade from both sides painted the sky. From the pale moon light filled with glowing stars and looming clouds, to fluffed clouds and bright blue skies with the sun greeting the people of the waking world. A shimmer of light hit his eyes from the distance with a speck of mystery, which was soon to be land. He rubbed his eyes to make sure that he wasn’t day-dreaming, but it was for sure! There was land seen with birds flying towards it, this had to be their destination. Grabbing a hold of the rope, Nills climbed his way down from the mast to the deck, and making his way to the captain’s quarters. Hars was inside sleeping with a snore that could wake an elephant, and it wasn’t easy waking such a man. Shaking him with some might, the captain woke up with a bit of anger sparking in his eyes. “Captain, there is land! We have arrived at our destination!”
Hars got up, yelling commands at the crew while he walked up towards the deck. Reaching in his left coat pocket, he pulled out a scope and adjusted the focus. Ships and a pier appeared as small dots in his view. Putting it away he thought of which priority was to be first, get drunk or get the cargo. A tough decision for him, though most of the other crew already knew which one would be more logical. He turned around with his eyes squinted at how many could get the job done with out his supervision.
“Alrighty me lads,” Hars spoke out with a demanding voice, “We got ourselves some animal cargo ta bring aboard and I need ta head off ta the umm, local office for papers ta be signed.” The crew went straight up and down the stairs to gather up the barrels, and then haul them to the dock. The top hatch of the upper deck was pulled from the opening, making way for a small platform held on by ropes lowering to the bottom deck. Going into his cabin for some papers, Hars picked up a small keg that was beside his bed for a refill. Going to be a long trip this time he thought to himself as he held it under his arm and searching for those papers. Papers needed for the list of animals to be brought aboard for the festival and for the crew to eat. The mayor thought it would be more “festive” if more people or exotic features were added in with this years’ festival. The captain grunted at the notion for he didn’t care about any festivities, except if it were to have a large quantity of alcohol.
While this story is the property of Eric McVinney, the title and references from any Sonata Arctica song belongs to Sonata Arctica. Distribution to any unauthorized persons are prohibited.