[Story] Story a Week 29 – Ship

[[ A story from Vellira’s privateer days, before she joined up with the rangers. ]]

“Vellira,” said Captain Redblade from the deck below. “I’ve a surprise for you when we return to port.”

She was perched high up in the rigging, polishing and replacing the metal fittings that held the ropes in place. It wasn’t usually the kind of job she should be doing, but she enjoyed being up high — it seemed that she could see the entire ocean from there. And she was one of the few crew members small enough to navigate the narrow spaces between the sails, ropes, and beams. Vellira was puzzled by what the Captain said, but she couldn’t ask him, he’d already moved up toward the bow to speak to the crew working there. She had a feeling he wouldn’t have answered anyway, if it was supposed to be a surprise it would ruin it if he told her. But it wasn’t her birthday, nor any other special day she could think of. If it was for everyone, he would have told the whole crew, but he’d said it was for her. That was the intriguing part. It surely wasn’t fancy dresses, or shoes, or hair ribbons. She’d never been interested in things like that, even as they sometimes plundered them from the holds of ships they’d intercepted. When she’d been very young, the Captain had offered them to her, but she made a face. Knives were much more interesting, maybe even a pistol. Vellira had never had one of those, they already carried powder for the cannons, so she’d been hoping to get one. Still, why would he make her wait until port for that? It didn’t make sense.

Vellira finished polishing the last brass fitting and gathered up her little can of polish, and rag. There was a lot of work to be done, there always was. They were due back in port soon to repair the major damage; some planks cracked in the bow from a close call with some rocks, a few of the little round windows had got loose and needed replaced, and the whole ship needed re-tarring. Most everything else could be done while they were out, and as no ships had been sighted yet, now was the time to do it. Vellira felt that she knew every board of the ship, worn and shiny with decades of wear, and perhaps she did. She’d been living and working there since she was six years old, and her mother’s family sought her father out to raise her. She did wonder, at times, why they preferred that a tiny child live at sea with privateers, but she wouldn’t complain. It was certainly much more exciting than an ordinary land-bound life. She’d have had to sit in lessons all day, and probably wear gowns and learn to eat with the proper fork and how to hold her teacup the correct way. The Captain had taught her to read and do numbers, but she also learned how to navigate by the stars, how to know if the weather was changing, how to tie knots and throw knives. She’d also seen more of the world than she ever knew existed. But there was more out there, and she was excited to see it.

They pulled into the busy Quel’danas port as the sun was going down, the water blazing red and orange like fire. Vellira thought the ocean never looked so beautiful as it did then. She stood at the bow, eager to see what surprise awaited her. The docks were crowded with ships and boats of all shapes and sizes; fishing boats and cargo ships and little sailing ships with fancy sails for the rich people to take around the bay. There was one that stood out among them, though — a fine three-masted ship, sleek and narrow. She was large, but due to her shape, Vellira was sure that she was quick and agile in the water. And she looked brand new, too. The wood still gleamed with sap, the sails bright and clean white.

“Do you like her?” the Captain asked, coming to lean on the railing beside her. “The Crimson Dawn.”

Vellira nodded. “She’s beautiful. Do you know who she belongs to?”

“You,” said the Captain. “Well — one day. Not just yet. I have to die first.”

She blinked at him. “You mean it’s ours?”

“Mine at the moment, until you sign your own contract with Silvermoon. Or I die. Either way.”

“Don’t say that,” Vellira said, nudging him. “You aren’t going to die for a long time.”

Though it would be a little sad to leave their old ship behind, the place she’d lived for so long, it was exciting to have a brand new ship and learn all of its little secrets.

 

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