literature

FW 2 Storm

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"All hands!" Fahd called. "Storm brewing! All hands on deck. You, too, rookie," he said to the echidna who'd surrendered. "Go help with the rigging."

"Yes, sir," the echidna replied, and ran to do as ordered.

Denizen climbed out of the hold. "How are the skies?"

"Blacker than the bottom of the devil's heart, Captain," Fahd replied. "I've only seen the skies like this in the desert storms."

Denizen nodded.

Fahd gripped the railing and peered out, trying to see with his cat's eyes see what the rest of the crew could not. "The storm is between us and port! Might be we could sail around it in four days—"

"We may not have four days," Denizen snapped. "Bilge! Get that rookie! Ask him if he knows anything about birthing!"

"Yes, captain," the rat replied, and scurried up the ropes to find the echidna.

"Foul time for foul weather," Denizen muttered. "If that mage would wake, might be we wouldn't have this problem."

"You would trust our lives to a half-dead mage?" Fahd replied. "An unknown mage?

"Maybe not." Denizen shook his head. The wind picked up, and he raised his voice to hear himself. "I'll need you down below!"

"My eyes are needed out here!"

"Even if that rookie does know anything useful, he won't have eyes to see in this muck. I need you to be sure nothing goes wrong!"

A wave crashed over them, threatening to roll the ship. The clouds dropped closer to the sea, and the wind practically threw the ship into the darkness.

Fahd blinked at the iguana. "It's the crew or the child, captain."

Bilge climbed out of the ropes long enough to shake his head at Denizen before returning to the rigging.

"Stay to your post, then," Denizen replied. "Demons take it!"

Fahd smiled. "That may be what they want," he said, peering into the clouds. "Why else try to keep us from port?"

"I suppose you think it's demon-spawn?" Denizen growled.

"If it were demon-spawn," Fahd replied slowly, "I think they'd want it to live."

Denizen blinked, then nodded and returned to the hold.

Fahd did not bellow orders. For one thing, the wind had picked up again, too loud for his voice to carry. For another, the crew knew its job. Even that rookie merchant was doing well enough at the ropes.

Fahd simply took his place at the helm, watched into the storm, and prayed to whatever gods were listening that they would make it out.

#

It was impossible to tell how long or how far they sailed in that darkness. There were no stars to judge their position, and the wind blew at odd intervals that even the most skilled could not count.

Their hearts filled with the icy chill of the depths, and the crew began to count instead by the waves left before the ship might break apart.

Only the lone echidna refused to give in to despair. And so it was he who saw the pinprick of light, even before Fahd's feline eyes.

"Fahd, sir!" He climbed down out of the ropes to get the cat's attention. "Fahd! Look there!"

Fahd looked where the boy was pointing, and the pinprick became a sunburst amid the storm. "The Desert Flower—" he whispered. "Rookie, get the men back to their posts. Beat them if you have to. But tell them we're making for the Flower."

"Yes, sir," the echidna replied, though he doubted the pirates would accept orders from him.

But neither doubt nor threat was warranted. Once the sunburst had appeared, that chill had vanished. They were wary of the sudden light, but eager enough for anything that could lead them from the storm.

Fahd beckoned one of the larger pirates over to the helm to replace him, then ran down to the hold to speak to Denizen. "Captain!" he called. "The Desert Flower, she comes! She has brought us the sun!"

Denizen stood over the female echidna, holding a small object in his arms. He turned to face Fahd.

Denizen looked completely puzzled.

"Captain?" Fahd tried again. He frowned. "What is that?" He peered at the object in Denizen's arms. It looked like no baby he'd ever seen. It rather looked like...

"It's...an egg," Denizen said.
Here the pirate crew is just trying to get into port. Nothing special.
*innocent whistling*
And the main character (unofficially) arrives.

EDIT: Added another scene to the bottom (originally from the beginning of the next chapter) to even the chapters out a little bit.

The echidna "rookie" is not a kid (or a rookie, but I digress), any more than Knuckles is a "kid."
Fahd just called him that because he's the newest, and near-youngest person on the ship.
That might be important...later....

Denizen, Fahd, Bilge, and the rookie copyright to me.
Anonymous characters to the Powers That Be.
All others to Archie or Sega. Again, nobody specific.

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