The Scarred Goddess, Chapter 9

Fiction By Bridget // 1/13/2010

~I cannot believe it's been so long since I posted this story!  Almost three months!  Anyhow, here it is, and criticism is appreciated.~

 

Dryl taught me everything, from steering the helm to reefing the sails.  The sea was relatively smooth.  For three even days, there was actually no wind at all.  The captain was furious that we were becalmed, and ranted at everybody within a thirty foot radius.  (Our ship was thirty feet long, or thereabouts.  Rather long as most ships go.)
During this time, Kat approached me with the offer to train me in sword fighting.  I almost decided against it; at the time I thought very little of Kat, but in the end, I accepted.  If you are a girl pretending to be a boy, sailing on a ship with an unknown mission in pirate-infested seas, you do not easily refuse an offer that could save your life.
We would practice near the stern of the ship, away from the people who so often got in our way.
“Every time you thrust, you leave your body open to attack. You need to stop turning towards your opponent.  Keep your body turned to the side.  Kantula!  Did you hear me?  You’ll get yourself killed that way, you thickheaded infant!”
I always responded to this kind of verbal attack by throwing myself and my sword at him (actually it was his sword; he was once taught fencing back on land, and he always kept a few extras), and in reward, getting disarmed and tossed to the ground like an empty goblet.  Kat would place the end of his sword at my throat and whisper, “Victory” whenever this happened.  I would lay back, weary and wary, breathing hard, until he finally lifted the point away.  Then he would help me up, and pretend nothing had happened.
I still had my chores to do around the ship.  In addition to being taught by Dryl how to sail the ship, I helped in the galley once in a while when Wilom was especially tired, and of course I had my chores as sweeping boy.
One of my chores as sweeping boy was to take food to the few prisoners in the brig.  When I first went down there, I was surprised at how small it was.  It seemed hardly half the length of the deck.  But it was darker down there, for one, and hard to judge distance, and for another, ships always get a little smaller the further down you go.
It stank in the brig; of human waste, human suffering, and inhuman treatment.  The one guard down there was a drunkard who denied them food on a regular basis, telling the captain that this or this other prisoner had tried to strangle him through the bars of their cell, or something like that.
I hated the brig.  The guard, whose name I never discovered nor cared to discover, would leer at me with foggy, bloodshot eyes, and laugh like a demon.  “You shcared, li’l boy?  Try a bit of a drink, lovely shtuff, you know.  Makessh me happier than a clamfish, and you’ve got too much innoshenche yet.  You won’t keep that long here, no, you won’t.”  And he would go into one of his horrible laughs.
Also, the prisoners were something awful to see.  Skin and bones, practically, sometimes with a little muscle left over.  I didn’t recognize all of them; I wondered if some were there leftover from the last voyage.  They certainly looked emaciated enough to have been locked up that long.  The look they gave me when I hurriedly thrust their food though the bars was a mix of fear, hope, and jealousy.  Whatever they had done, it couldn’t have been bad enough to deserve this.
By the time Kat had started giving me lessons, two of them had died.  Their bodies were stripped and thrown overboard, without a hammock to wrap them in, without even a prayer to send them on their way.
There were more to replace them, though.  Other sailors ended up down there; no one that I knew closely, for which I was thankful, but no one who deserved such a punishment, either.  Otil, one of the men who frequently went aloft and repaired sails, was sent to the brig for stealing half a loaf of bread, for which I could not blame him.  Food was sparse in the brig, but it was not too much better on the deck.  I grew thinner by the week.

When I had lived on the hill, I was careful of how I looked, maybe even a little vain.  I gave it up now.  It was impossible to keep clean on a ship, with baths only when you had enough free time to swim off to the side (which wasn’t often, and I preferred to sleep whenever I had that much time), and the almost never-ending breeze which blew dust into your hair and tangled it very nicely and thoroughly.  I had cut it only two months ago, but it seemed my misfortune to have hair that grew faster than our firra trees back on the hill.
Again, I cut my hair myself, not wanting anyone staring too long at my face if I could avoid it.  I used the sea as a mirror of sorts, and it turned out worse than last time.

 My fencing lessons with Kat slowed down to twice a week soon after that.  I was given two watches per day, which was half the regular, but I was younger.  I was glad that the lessons didn’t stop altogether though.  I’ll admit, I didn’t find much pleasure in them at the beginning, but after a while, I enjoyed them.  I looked forward to them as I did nothing else.  I liked the way my muscles ached after an especially vigorous round, and I liked the feeling of matching each attack with a flawless defense, and of giving quick counterattacks.
My teacher still grated on my nerves, but sometimes I felt he was proud of me, and I felt respect for him because of his skill.
I clearly remember the first time I beat him.  I was lying in my hammock when the door to the forecastle opened.  The bright sunlight streamed in, hurting my eyes.  “Come, Kantula.  There’s a storm coming; if we’re to practice, it has to happen now.”  I reluctantly dragged myself out of my hammock and took my sword from its place under it.  When I got outside I stared in disbelief.  The sky was completely clear.  It was pale blue and almost white with the light from the sun.  “Kat, there’s no storm coming.  Look.”  I waved my hand across the entire breathtaking sweep of the empty blue dome above us.  “Now, for the sake of all humanity, let me sleep!”  And I turned around and headed back to where I thought I belonged.
But a rough hand clutched my wrist, and didn’t let go.  “Boy, there’s a storm coming, sure as Yalosh.  Now come out here and fight.  I’ll give you no peace if you go back, and you might as well have practiced.”  Kat usually meant what he said when he sounded like that, and I sighed heavily, to let him know how exasperated I was (as if he cared!) and followed him to the stern of the ship.
“Now, on guard.”   I lifted my sword to its position.  “Begin.” he said quietly.  I began.  But he began first.  He started on an offensive, thrusting quickly, then twisting to the side and slashing at my head.  I parried, ducked, and counterattacked.  I wanted him on the defensive, for that was his weak point.  He refused to let me get that far, though, and instead rained a flurry of blows which I could hardly keep up with.  I was sure he would end up by cutting my head off.  I yawned, trying to keep my eyes open while doing so, and my side stung as I got poked between the ribs.  A little spot of red showed on my tunic.  Seeing my own blood like that made me mad, and I slashed at his neck, but he moved to the side and blocked it.  I almost stopped thinking then, and when he thrust at me again, I parried automatically and thrust back.  Without stopping, I did what he had done to me, delivering blow after blow, not even giving him a chance.  He was red-faced and sweaty.  Finally, he pulled himself back, readying himself for a final attack.  I ducked in, pushing the point of my sword into the intricate work around the hilt of his, gave a slight twist, and listened with pleasure as his sword clattered across the deck.  I pressed the tip against his heart, and watched him flush and squirm as I had so often done.  Then I pulled it away, and a laugh bubbled up in my throat.  I couldn’t help it.  I saw him look at me with embarrassment, and something a little unfamiliar – admiration, I dared to think.  I almost gasped about then, though, because the look, while unfamiliar since I had been on the ship, was extraordinarily familiar from somewhere else.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Probably he just resembled somebody I once knew, because the captain had once told me that Kat had been at sea all his life.
Kat went and picked up his sword, wiped the little blood it possessed on the shoulder of his tunic, and pointed up at the sky.  Gray clouds were closing in, shutting out the blinding sunlight that had shone on our swords not too long ago.  “Storm’s coming, Kantula.  Didn’t I tell you?”  And he walked away as the captain gave the order for all hands.

Comments

Wow!

Wow, wow, WOW!!!! I've told you before that I like this story; that was a lie. I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!!! :D

You've got my mind racing now...who IS that guy?! You really must post more often, dear.

Ariel | Tue, 01/26/2010

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Who is what guy?  The jailer?

Who is what guy?  The jailer? No one important...
I'm glad you like it though.  I'm not sure how often I'll post though; I'm lazy.

Bridget | Thu, 01/28/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

I wish you would finish

I wish you would finish this. I really do.

Anna | Wed, 10/20/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

I'll be joining the outpost

I'll be joining the outpost and I'll finish it there.  I really haven't had a lot of time lately for writing.  Wow, though, that's a great compliment from someone who's already written two books. :-)

Bridget | Wed, 10/20/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Please, please, PLEASE write

Please, please, PLEASE write more! I will DIE if you do not write more! On second thought, YOU will die if you don't write more! *on knees begging * Puh-leeze write more!

Arya Animarus | Tue, 01/25/2011

Oh for the times when I felt invincible.

Yikes, I've never been

Yikes, I've never been threatened like that.  Must say, I'm mildly flattered.  Another chapter is in the works, guys.  I'll try to have it done by the middle of next week.

Bridget | Tue, 01/25/2011

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Navigation

User login

Please read this before creating a new account.