Chapter 4

Nills leaned his back against the mast as the ship made a smooth stop toward port. The crewmen gathered together the empty barrels and started rolling them down the plank onto the dock. The sun was shining through the scattered clouds and a light breeze blowing by softly in between the sky and ocean. Seagulls and other birds flew with grace around the harbor, trying to catch whatever water game had escaped a fisherman’s net. Nills had noticed that this tropical island didn’t have any sort of tall structures, save for the ruined castle that could be seen on the hillside. Rather than be defeated by old age, it was blown apart long ago from what it seems. Captain Hars was seen with some fishermen, exchanging documents probably for the cargo the White Pearl had to ship back to town. Pigs, lamb, a couple of cows, ducks and other game gathered for inspection for the long trip. To every crew member aboard the White Pearl, it was just another routine. Still, there was word of a fearsome storm heading south, and could cut through the ships’ path. Such storms or any storm for that matter was nothing for their dear captain to worry about. Gathering some rope that was laying near his feet, Nills helped tie up some loose crates together with some other crew members.

“Nills!” the captain called out, “Nills, get yer butt ova here!” Straightening out the documents as he walked towards Nills, Hars looked southward for a moment. He gave a hard stare and concentrated back onto finding his crew mate. Some one has to take care of inspection while the captain got his drink; it’s what any “proper” captain would do. Finding Nills with some other crew members tying up some crates, Hars pulled him aside, handed him the documents, gave a wink with a smile and left for the bar. Nills stood there, looking at the documents with a confused look until he heard the captain shouted “It’s for the dumb animals! Now inspect them!” A job is a job, no matter what the task was. Even though it would take him away from the nice and cool outside environment to the damp and cold cargo hold. Getting on his gloves so that it’ll protect him from any scratches or bites, Nills looked at the animals and sighed with disgust.

The sun was setting and the captain went back to the ship, with a gleeful smile and half bottle of rum. As he approached the dock side, Hars gave another stare southward. Trying to think of another course he could take in his drunken state of mind was of no help at all. Sighing with his shoulders slumped; he continued his walk towards the ship. The ocean had more tides coming and it would seem that this night had a lot of rocking forthcoming. There were two crew mates waiting for the captain to come up so that they could take up the plank and start sailing. He headed for his cabin with a drunken grace and closed the doors shut. Hars pulled out the chair beside the table that was covered with charts and papers of other importance. His mind went in and out of dreaming, he tried to keep a wake mind in case of anything happened, but the effects of the rum got the better of him. Before sinking into that deep sleep, a thought crossed his mind telling him that his crew knew of what to do in a storm.

The ship started to sail off the tropical island and towards home, just in time for the festival. Dark clouds gathered in their direction, giving off a mood for all the crew. Nills looked up from the ships’ starboard side and felt a chill running down his spine. Something did not feel right, something that stirred the ocean below with uneasiness. Trying to put this past him, he called out to the other crew, “Get ready for the storm, just in case!” He knew that this was not going to be an easy trip for him or anyone else aboard. The ship was built for these types of situations, but having it ruined when coming back home would bring some disappointment to its creators.

Back at the town, Bill and his men were getting the supplies ready and sharpening up their tools for the long labor ahead of them. There had to be stands made, the large dance area, which required a lot of helping hands to lift and hold together while a few others nailed in the sides and legs. A few more of his men were responsible for carving structures and constructing tables around the dining area. It would surely take many working hours and perhaps more night shifts due to the upcoming storm. Bill went through the construction plans with his fellow men and headed off to start on the dancing platform. Day quickly turned into night, and almost half of the project was completed.

“Blast it!” Bill heard from one of his men, “We got to get more nails from somewhere soon.” With a sigh and wiping his forehead to rid the sweat, Bill got up from his work and walked towards the bar. The rest gave him a curious look and were silent until one spoke up.

“Hey Bill,” one called out, “Suppose Frank got some extras in his basement?” Frank was the bar owner and usually has tools, strange junk and other trinkets in his basement. Traveling merchants sell them off for a discounted price on the beer for the bargain. Merchants from all lands far away stop off and tell tales of the strange and those spread through the town for a short while, but some stay due to the popularity of the tale. But there hasn’t been a tale that Bill came to believe, yet.

Without turning around, Bill yelled back “Not for nails, but for a cool drink! Time for break boys.” As he said that the rest of his men placed down their tools and followed. They soon realized just how parched their throats were when they drank the beer. Sighs of relief and thuds of their mugs placed down on the counter sounded in the bar. Dirt and sweat covered their faces, but that didn’t matter at the moment. No one gave a damn about a thing except for another refill and heading off to their soft beds. Simon, a round fellow with deep set eyes and a trunk like legs got up and stretched out his back. While doing so, he looked at Bill who had his hand on his forehead.

“Something’s the matter, eh Bill?” Simon said with a curious look. Bill looked up with his tired eyes, trying to keep focus. “Yeah,” he replied as he breathed out heavily, “Got to go home and deal with her.” Simon smiled at the eventual ordeal Bill will have to go through once he enters his home. Though Bill’s wife is indeed a gem, he still has his suspicions about her everyday life and where she goes.

“Come on Bill, it can’t be all that bad” Simon ended with a wink. Bill glared right back with raised eyebrows and said “Marry her and find out.”

Two days left until New Years Eve.

 

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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