Part 1 - The storm
Waves rolled against the hull, spray flying, catching the wind and sending it airborne. Finnec breathed deep, the smell of saltwater engulfing him. He couldn't help the tug which turned the corners of his mouth up at the ends. Something about the blue as far as he could see put him in a good mood as did the lull of the waves beneath him.
"Clouds on the horizon, Cap'n." Finnec waved his hand at the sailor calling from the crow's nest. Squinting out over the starboard bow, he spotted the incoming clouds. A squall was rolling in. They didn't have long before it overtook them from the looks of it.
"Tempest's comin' in fast. And we're in the straights," Old Gus stated the obvious. The winds whipped around him, tugging at his loose shirt. Grey clouds rolled closer turning darker the nearer they came. His men were already scurrying across the wooden deck securing the rigging and shortening sails.
"Glass," he barked, holding his hand out. His first mate placed a spyglass in his hand without saying a word. Scanning the horizon, it was exactly what he feared. "Secure the boom!" he ordered, his voice carried off into the wind.
"Are ye sure, Cap'n? We could loose the sails and outrun it," Old Gus said as he looked out at the now darkened skies.
"Very sure. There's no outrunning this storm. Dobs, order everyone below who's not needed." Finnec paced away from his first mate, walking to where the ships wheel was now secured with a line to keep it from flailing in the wind and rain now beating down on them. "And keep a weather eye out for sirens," he tacked on as an afterthought.
If he were being honest with himself, this was not how he imagined his first voyage out as captain to be like. He'd been through plenty of storms during his years as crewman. He'd even faced mermaids a few times. He wasn't unprepared. But now every life aboard this ship hung on his commands, his decisions. Was he ready? He would find out very soon, he thought swiping water from his eyes.
The brigantine tilted, wave after wave crashed against the ship's hull coupled with the high wind causing it to lean precariously to one side and then the other. Finnec held onto the rail of the upper deck. He was wet from head to toe as rain pelted him from all directions. Only he and a few crew remained above to ensure the lines held and the sails remained lashed to the yardarms. He turned back towards the wheel only to spin around at a flash of white overhead. The white linen flapped wildly about in the wind, whipping this way and that with abandon. If the sail didn't get lashed back to the yardarm soon they could lose a whole mast due to the now wet and heavy sailcloth.
Finnec jumped to the deck below him in one quick movement, his feet sliding on the slippery wooden boards below them. He saw his first mate running his way from the opposite end of the large ship. While Dobs was fast, he was losing precious time waiting for the man who kept sliding side to side as he pressed against the sheets of rain. Grabbing the lines, he began climbing himself. He had almost made it to the yardarm when another wave sent the ship dangerously sideways.
He felt the line slipping from his grip in the wet, pouring water that now not only beat down on him from above, but was crashing in from the sides. On the heels of the previous one, another wave crashed into the ship. Finnec felt himself falling as the wall of water snatched the line from his hands. Cold, turbulent waves rose to meet him as he entered the deep blue. He didn't know up from down as he willed his legs to kick against the dark waters pulling at him from all sides.
How long he fought the waves, he didn't know. It felt like an eternity before salty air rushed his lungs, only to be replaced by water as another wave shoved him under once again. He repeated the heinous process several more times before the dark sea claimed him, slipping below the waves. Somewhere between the wet and black space around him, a song entered his mind. It was the most beautiful music he'd ever heard. His arms felt like weights as they refused to move towards the singing. All too soon the sound faded. He wasn't ready to lose the enchanting melody but his fogged mind slipped into unconsciousness as the waves carried him further and further from his ship and crew.
The Siren's Song is a Vale Series short story featuring my character, Finnec, from Book 3, The Unconquered Vale. This glimpse into his past can be read at any time in the series but fills those of you who have read TUV in on why he despises mermaids so much and just a little bit more about his past.
It was originally featured in Sands of Time Anthology at talesofthedeep community where the prompt was to write about a favorite characters backstory (one of your own or a popular character). Word count was set at 3500 (which I exceeded a teensy tiny bit).
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the Vale Series.~SJ
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The Siren's SongFantasy
Finnec falls in the love the first time he steps aboard a ship. In love with the sea, that is. When his dreams finally come true and he is made captain of his own vessel he cannot be happier. But as luck would have it, his maiden voyage is anything...