Sons of Plunder Short Story
Maki-Hera was standing on the deck of the Bastardos Machairi, enjoying the sounds of the open sea and the sight of a cloudless night sky. With only the helmsman at the other end of the ship, her solitude was perfect. Which naturally meant it couldn’t last. Borea, a political refugee, or so he claimed, came up from the quarters, looking a bit worse for the wear. “Something bothering you, old man?” She asked, teasing him just a little. He was barely two years her senior.
“Seasickness,” he replied, holding his stomach. “I thought the night air would help me feel better.”
“It’s a good thing you don’t like fish much,” she replied, recalling that he selected one of the ever-present oranges that her captain kept in the ship’s stores. He simply nodded, taking a deep breath and exhaling. “Oh, that’s a might better.” His eyes fixed on her, leaning against the bow. Grabbing onto the ropes to steady himself, he offered a smile, but she hardly seemed to notice. He decided to press a conversation on her. “Perhpas you can satisfy a curiosity for me.”
Maki-Hera much preferred to share the silence with the stranger, but maybe if she was nice enough he might find another sack of coins just for her like the one he gave to secure his passage. “Very well, let’s hear it.”
“Why did the captain make you his first mate?” It was a question she’d heard before. Indeed, a woman holding such a position was rather uncommon, but before she could gather the light details that would answer him without revealing too much about herself, he blurted out another question. “Are you his betrothed?” She finally turned her head toward him, at first looking confused, then she burst out in laughter.
“I hardly think-”
She waved a hand, cutting him off. “No, no, of course you would ask that. You don’t know him like I do.” She pushed herself off the bow to her full height, reaching back through time to when she was a little girl of seven. “Dagas and I, we’ve known each other since we were barely more than babes.He was another lost, little soul wandering the streets for scraps before he got taken in by his shipmaster. There was one day, I think it was Summer, we were playing. He was chasing me, and I, being older, had longer legs than him. I was up the stairs like a cat, and had already torn my way around the corner when I heard his poor little cries wailing out after me. He had falen and scraped his knees, trying to keep up with me. I stole some ointment from the market, dusted him off, dried his tears, and he said it was the first time anyone did something nice for him. I was only doing it to make sure he didn’t get smacked in the mouth for his bawling, Gods know I’d been treated that way enough times. But in that moment, my little heart flooded with love for this sweet, perfect boy. Where the fates took my family, they provided me with a baby brother I never knew I wanted. We’ve been thick as thieves ever since.”
Borea was touched by her story. “How sweet. A pair of orphans just looking out for each other. Look where you are now.”
She nodded, then confided in him, “You did touch on my greatest fear, however, with your question.”
“If I was his betrothed. My deepest dread is the day that he falls in love with someone other than the sea. Once that day comes, i know I won’t have him as close as I have for all these years. He’ll go from a boy to a man before my eyes, and I’ll just be an old crone telling him to come see me like he used to.” She chuckled at her own exaggeration, but really, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if Dagas just stopped sailing one day. At best, she could chase off her years awhile longer by joining another crew, but it wouldn’t be the same. When Borea broke the silence, she snapped her gaze to him, almost having forgotten he was there entirely.
“Well, that was quite a good story. I think I can rest easy now.”
“As good stories should make you feel. And Borea?”
He turned his head to face her, nearly stumbling into a rope before he caught himself.
“A word of this conversation to anyone on the ship, and you’ll be overboard before you know your feet are out from under you,” she warned. After he nodded his agreement, she turned her attention back to the moonlight dancing on the waves.