Chapter 2

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.

Chapter 1

How could I, some one birthed in a lighthouse become its prisoner? She promised to be mine, all for one night. That one long night filled of pure love and awakening to a nightmare. How could I have known? It’s so hard to keep the tears inside…

Ah, so you have entered the thoughts of this story’s “hero”? Hmph, “hero” is such a word not to be used for him. No, but how about “tragic lover”? Yes, that fits perfectly. The respect this man has lost is far greater than what anyone should ever lose. Oh, would you care to break away from the silence of life and listen to this old man’s tale? Let me try to remember as much as I can. Ah yes, here is how it all began…

Late in the cold snow fall of December, two weeks before New Years Eve and the festival. A day where the women of the town are given many gifts from their respective partners, dance under the stars, and often a wedding or two held. The leaves have fallen off the trees, shades of brown, green and orange painting most of thepebble paths in and around the town. The main path that entered from the forest leading to the town square was a bit wider than the others because of traveling merchants coming and going. The sun still in the blue sky, masked by the clouds quietly and slowly floating away. It was a nice day for all to walk about and observe nature’s beauty. The smell of fish from the ports flowing within the winds, luring many of the cats away from their homes. Soft wind often whispering around the houses and trees, while the oceans spray created a mist in the mornings.

Men working away at either the docks, blacksmithing, repairing wagons or building the stage for the upcoming festival. Cargo crates were being transported from the ships to where ever the materials needed to be. The pub “The Dancing Crab” would remain empty for most of the day since most of the towns people are working hard for the New Years Eve and festival. The women usually stay at home, cooking supper, taking care of the babes or in the gardens making the wine. The vineyards were located close by the pub so that it would be easier to stock the wine from such a short distance. Children often fished in the morning, played in the town square during the afternoon and went back home for supper. The church and school had their roles during the weekends as well. All the towns’ people knew this was bliss, this was their Eden.

Further up towards cliff looking out to the vast seas that change from crystal blue during the day to onyx black at night. There was a tall and lean lighthouse, and in that lighthouse lived its owner, its only man to do his wonder within. This man knew little of the outside, since he never knew much of his father nor mother. Born to be proud of his home and shy towards others, the owner cared very little to have a name. So it was to be that he is known as “The Lighthouse Man” through out the town and to any that comes to it. Up on top was a giant crystal on a pedal stool, able to rotate when shining upon the open seas. Only the owner can use his gift to make it shine, thus it was decreed that he alone should be kept inside during the nights. The towns’ people feared his gift of light,illuminating from his hands to an intense glow when ever it touched a lifeless object. Even he knew of their fears and that of the upcoming festival.

With the new orders of wine and guests arriving, men of the shipyards had to come together in order to build a solution to take care of both problems. Day and night the men worked on the frames, masts, and outside design. The initial design changed due to lack of materials from a cargo ship that had yet to arrive, but was given approval by the mayor to proceed as planned. It took them five full days to complete, from day shift workers to the night shift. The next morning it was floating on the water like an angel above the clouds, the White Pearl. So calmly did the waters surround it, and all were in awe of its beauty. The sails glowed in the open sky as the angelic figures carved in the white wood seemed to smile down upon the onlookers. This was another gift of the towns’ people knowledge, to create bliss in their art. A boat from Heaven as many thought when first viewed, a vessel for the proud sailors. Destined to sail the black oceans on its return from the charted course under the watchful eye of the lighthouse.

It would be a day to remember on New Years night many would think, a day indeed. The man within the lighthouse saw it as he looked from the lighthouse top, to be so in awe of the ship’s wonder and majestic beauty, he knew that no other ship that he has seen could compare to it, ever. Hearing voices around the deck of the ship, he took notice of the towns’ mayor and preacher, Rupert MacDook giving a speech and a blessing to both ship and sailors. Boasting of the ships design and workmanship that it would cross the ocean with guidance of God, and no trouble would become of it. The sun dipped into the horizons as the blanket of night slowly covered over, and the lighthouse owner knew it was his time to wonder his own wonder once again. Walking up the creaky wooden steps that extruded from the inner pillar, the man still had thoughts the ship’s splendor. With the new ship and having a bigger festival than ever before, he knew that he should not miss out on this. Up on top did the crystal seem lifeless as always without him, yet still had its own odd beauty. An angel light glowed from the hand as he rested it upon the object, and willingly did it shine as a star in the nights embrace. Lo and behold unto the vessels of the sea did all know the presence of the lighthouse, and all were welcomed as a newborn to its mother.

The mayor, after giving his speech and seeing the ship sail off, he groped around his pocket for something. Picking out his pocket, Rupert flipped the cover and took into consideration the time he had left until he had to return home to his wife. A responsibility he felt was a bit too harsh for man his age to have. Being a devout follow and responsible husband does take its toll, and the best way to pay up is with a hardy drink of scotch! Heading towards the tavern, he looked around to see if his wife was in view or not following. Trust is another issue he had with her. She had a past history of being there to comfort any man who traveled for so long and muscles ached. It was something he wished to rid of in his thoughts, but seeing her brought them all back. That’s why a good drink can wash and blur them for a long while.

Going into the tavern, he took note of Bill sitting at the counter chatting with some of his friends. Anyone who was part of this town could have done the same for that matter. He was a tall, broad man with a dark unshaven face. Not so bushy eyebrows, for his brown eyes were big enough. Muscles seemingly etched from a sculptor and a hardy laugh that could turn into a fearsome growl if pushed to that point. Bill was perhaps the towns’ best handy man and carpenter, and the same level of being renowned was his wife, Asibela. While he was strong and rugged, she was weak and smooth. Yet she was also wild in her heart as her husband was tired of venture. Many men would dare not to give her a glance of lust while Bill was around. You would saygood-bye to those teeth and hello to the nurse. The marriage between the two was proper and both families approved of such a wonderful match and benefits. Bill came from a family of wood cutters and rangers, while Asibelas’ came from poets, merchants and land lords. Yes, a mutual benefit for all.

Rupert walked behind Bill to overhear yet again another story brought about from his wife’s cousin Don, a merchant from somewhere east. Talking about some giant black swan was seen by the mountain side. Such a bird is part of large history of myths that are known to these lands. Some however, are said to be true and more facts added to make look even more fictional than once told. All of his friends laughed at such a thing and drank at that.

“Where’d that Don hear o’ such a story, eh?” asked of Bills’ friends, Dave. A skinny fellow with buggy eyes, but most trusting nonetheless.

“Where else” Bill said before he burped, “but from Don himself! He said he bought this man a drink and was told this tale. Must have been one helluva drink to get that tale put in his head!”

Everyone around him laughed and continued drinking. Rupert tapped Bills’ shoulder to get attention that needed to be heard. Bill turned around and gave a drunken smile to the good mayor.

“Aye! So it’s the great mayor MacDook!” Bill said aloud with a hardy laugh and a mug in the air. “So what brings ya here, hmm?” he said with a drunken yet curious notion.

“Many thanks from everyone around town for your help on the White Pearl, Bill” Rupert said with hesitation. The sight of such a man still gave him chills and uneasiness. Bill nodded in appreciation from the mayor, knowing that it was mainly him and his fellow friends that could have done such a marvelous task. “But I was wondering if you could do another task for the town.” He ended with his hands fiddling around in his pocket.

Bill held his head high, sighed and gave a high eyebrow look at the mayor, wanting to know more of what this task is. The mayors’ lips were a bit twitchy, but he gathered his form together. “Well what needs to be done is for the upcoming festival, an-and” Rupert noticed that Bills’ friends were listening in also, for work needing to be done for the festival is the best time of work. The weather is always nice and the food is plenty. Rupert licked his lips and pressed on “I will need you and your workers to help make it… all happen.”

As Bill turned to place down his mug, his friends cheered with delight. He turned again to face the mayor, stood up, and placed his hand on Ruperts’ shoulder saying “Well dear mayor, it looks like you got yourself the finest and hardest workers for the right job!” with a twinkle in his eyes.

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.


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