The morning broke especially grave this dawn, the horizon's sun was hidden by rain clouds that deepened the further they sailed; Remias had woken up somehow in a hammock swinging below deck-he was so exhausted after he could no longer see his home in the distance he did not even remember climbing down from the ropes to collapse below in a random hammock swaying beside many others. The prince was solemn, his eyes were reddened and irritated by his constant tears over what had happen, no one said a word knowing what the young royal had lost-what they had all lost...
He had wished that when he woke he'd be back in his bed, only rising to the soft call of the servants coming to wake him for sleeping in past his morning lessons. Yet the sleeping quarters of the ship's interior greeted him when he opened his eyes, the faint smell of smoke still lingered in the air yet he could not place its source-a phantom that haunted him beyond the siege. The ship was operating in full swing even as Remias came aboard the deck, shielding his eyes from the brighter-yet still bleak-light of the morning. At first he was unnoticed but when a few sailors did notice him everyone stopped what they were doing, every man on board set down things quietly or tied off ropes without a word. Conversations stopped and chores were halted as they all looked to their prince, the young man who would have been their king.
At first Remias could not even meet their gaze, he averted his own eyes, bloodshot against sky blue, he could not bring himself to face so many who stayed behind just for him. They lost so many of their families because of him... He knew his eyes were going to start crying again if he was not careful and he desperately tried to keep that from happening. However instead of berating him or venting their own grief and anger against him everyone on the ship, sailors and officers alike, [b bowed] to him. He was not worthy of it, he was a coward who ran in the dark of night instead of going out to fight like his father.
Quietly Remias tried to shy away from their recognition feeling he was a disgrace, he nodded awkwardly to a few of them as he passed and it was only when he came face to face with Brahm did he manage to look someone in the eyes. The old servant looked even worse than the prince, his eyes were darkened beneath, sagged with the sorrow and his shoulders were hunched over with his continued exhaustion that no doubt plagued him into the morning. Remias' brows furrowed as he tried to open his mouth to speak, to offer something-anything as words to the older man for his continued help in safely escorting the prince in all the confusion. Nothing would come, no words of encouragement, or condolences, not even reassurance could be uttered.
Remias wanted so desperately to at least thank Brahm for his continued devotion and sacrifice, to show how much he wanted to thank them all for what they did not only for him, but his mother-and their continued, renewed valor to the crown. Even though no words could come out-what could he even say, how would he begin? Brahm placed a gentle hand on the young man's shoulder, and gave a quiet and reassuring smile, murmuring that everything would be alright. The captain ordered everyone to go back to their posts and jobs, restarting the flow as men went about the ship and Cheval motioned for Remias to come up to the helm to speak together.
[b "Your Highness, please accept me most humblest condolences,"] the gravelly voice of the captain began, even though everyone lost someone close to them in the siege, the death of the King, Remias II, hit extremely hard. He was a good and honest ruler, a man worthy to wear the crown, beloved by his people and cherished by his family; the fact that he went out with the waves of troops showed how much he cared for his fellow man and in his final moments he'd be hailed a paragon Cheval told him softly. [b "It will take us a few days to sail to Kalrisan, with good wind we shall make landfall at the port city of Dragastyr within a fortnight. The most we have to fear now would be summer storms, an' the enemy armada we left behind, yet to 'ave them show upon these waters would give us a fightin' chance to get our revenge."]
Remias nodded silently, the captain motioned for the prince to follow as he descended to the deck and entered the captain's cabin located at the back of the vessel. It was surprisingly immaculate, everything tidy and put in place with books lining shelves and rolled maps stacked and tied neatly on a large carved table. The captain poured the two of them some drinks of some strong Geldaron stout, pushing the glass to the prince's side of the table as he casually un-shouldered his coat.
[b "I s'ppose it goes without sayin' that once we reach Kalrisan my ship an' crew will have to go through processin'. Dragastyr loves their paperwork, though it has kept them safe from unwanted dockin' in the past. You however, need not worry yourself with that, m'lord, the royal letter the Queen handed to your manservant will bypass any legalities they try to throw at you."] Remias once again nodded, swallowing some of the strong drink with a couple coughs. The two men seemed to take a moment to really unwind and passed several minutes in silence, Remias tried to keep his mind busy yet he found himself rather rudely staring at the spot the captain's arm should have been. Was it a war wound? The older man caught him staring, motioning to it unperturbed with his glass. [b "Lost it during the sinkin' o' the Elyradon b'fore you were born, a pirate's cannon took it clean off. Hardly felt a thin' I was so drunk, we all had downed the keg reserves to lessen the load, prolong the ship from sinkin' beneath the waves. Ah, but we sunk the bastards first... some days I still think I feel it at my side-a ghost limb they call it."]
[#009cff "I had to read lessons on the Elyradon, you were attacked by three ships, were you not?"] The captain proudly nodded, lightly thumping the bottom of his drink against the table between them a few times.
[b "Aye, proudest moment o' me life winnin' that fight. They had us encircled, each barin' their starboard cannons, blasting chains shots at our masts an' fillin' our hull with 'oles. Elyradon was a beast on the seas, boy, the way she could cut through water-she 'ad sides strong as rampart stone, I tell you."] The prince leaned forward, motioning for the captain to go on; if he had Captain Cheval for a tutor his lessons certainly would have been far more exciting than the monotone teacher he was given. [b "We exhausted our cannons on both sides, pepperin' the bastards with each circlin' pass while still tryin' to break through their encasin' trap. We took one down with our own ball-and-chain, topplin' their masts with jagged splinters an' settin' their sails ablaze."]
[b "'Twas between the second an' last ship a-sinkin' that I lost me arm, every man downed as much drink as they were able as we was takin' on water fast. It not only kept us light enough to float but the alcohol kept us numb to our pain, exhaustion an' sickness bein' soaked to the bone. I saw a mate still loadin' cannons with a wooden shard from the deck through his own eye. Men lost limbs yet still climbed the riggin', swung swords hangin' from the ladders as pirates attempted to board whilst bleedin' out. Good men died that day but we ne'er backed down."] The retelling of the fateful fight was a nice reprieve from his thoughts, the prince letting his mind envision it all as if he was there.
[b "We managed to break free from the pirates when they collided with their third ship, the encirclin' trap broken we unfurled sails an' barreled towards the horizon. The two remaining ships gave chase, they barraged us with everythin' they had, our sails filled with holes, takin' on water faster than we could bail it. We began dumpin' things o'erboard, still tryin' to pull ahead of our tailin' enemies..."] Suddenly the door to the cabin burst open, making Remias jump in his skin, a sailor cried out there were sails on the horizon-heading directly for them! Both men set down their drinks and hurriedly went to the deck, the good captain pulling his spyglass out to determine the ship's trajectory and their allegiances. Remias leaned on the railing trying to strain his blue eyes to make out any flag or marking among the small speck of white sails along the horizon's edge.
[#009cff "Is it the Northmen? Have they turned for us?"] Captain Cheval didn't answer, as if he was still trying to discern whether the ship was an enemy or not.
[b "Blasted bleak sun's in me eyes... I can't make out the flag from here."] Cheval handed off his spyglass to the First Mate, climbing the stairs to the helm he bellowed out his orders. [b "Give me full sails, unfurl the foresail, release the jib-I want full wind glidin' us o'er these waters! Man the lazy jacks, get your hides to the riggin', an' give me the mizzen as well."] Everyone jumped at the orders, moving faster than Remias knew was possible, like a well-oiled machine they all had their parts to play, working off of each other and opening the large sails with the wind at their backs, pushing them with a strong leap forward.
[#009cff "Are we to fight them, Cheval?"] Remias almost had his hand at the ready, on the hilt of his sword but the captain gravely shook his head, they knew how eager the prince would be to fight but it was far too great a risk.
[b "Not with the sole 'eir on board, m'lord. Your want for vengeance must come at another time, I gave the Queen me word to deliver you safely to your uncle-though it pains me old heart to turn from a fight, I am nothin' if not a man o' me word."] Remias' heart dropped, and he felt defeated again, shot down like a child before he could even defend himself. Turning away from the captain the prince felt unwanted, everyone had a role on the ship except for him, their 'precious cargo'. Clenching his teeth, he moved to a line of sailors tugging on one of the main halyards to the sails above; without a word he took up the slack behind a few of them. They looked back at him, some in mild shock that he would sully royal hands at the menial task but others nodded their silent approval. He would earn his place on this ship, no matter what the cost, he would pay it to belong...
[center [b ~*~*~]]
Remias winced as he tenderly tried to wrap his blistered and bleeding hands with strips of cloth, working the ropes was a lot tougher on inexperienced hands than he realized. Yet they managed to pull away from the incoming vessel and leave it long behind in the void of the large ocean. He took a sharp inhale as he tended another ripped open part of his hand, the prince would build callouses by the time they reached Dragastyr in Kalrisan-a journey that would take two weeks to complete, providing they had fair winds at their backs.
A few of the sailors patted the young man on his back when they went to rest below deck, already the barriers between royal and commoner were breaking down. A dark-skinned cabin boy came to Remias with a small bucket and some type of fruit, the boy could hardly have been ten years old and from what the others told him didn't speak a single word of common tongue. The boy set the bucket down, handed Remias a strangely wrinkled fruit and motioned with his hand to put it in his mouth. Was he to eat it? Remias gingerly tried to take a bite out of it and promptly leaned to the side to spit out the rancid tasting fruit. This brought the boy and the other sailors to laughter, however the cabin boy then took the now bitten-open fruit and softly applied its gushing juices to the prince's bleeding hands.
Remias was expecting it to burn or sting but the foul-tasting fruit was rather soothing to open wounds, like cool water on a scorching day, it felt rather nice on his aching hands. With the bucket the boy took the previous bandages and lightly soaked them in the pail's contents, dampening them with the liquid before tenderly wrapping the wounds. The water added to the strange fruit's mixture, spreading it along the blisters and rope-burns that seemed to help ease the residual ache and stabbing pain. After the wet bandages were secured the boy then re-wrapped the royal's hands with a second layer of dry, firmer bandages, encasing the palms of Remias' hands with a protective layer to help them heal quickly.
Once that was done the boy stood up and nodded his head that he was finished and took his bucket around the lower deck tending to any who may have needed the strange balm treatment, Brahm came to the prince then, with a mug of grog that the prince was extremely grateful for. It would allow him to rinse out the rotten fruit's taste from his mouth and sooth the tensing muscles that would no doubt set to agony tomorrow. Everyone then seemed to mill about at their own pace, some sailors talked with each other as the night would cover the sky, the soft smell of pipe smoke filtering along the waves. Remias and Brahm went out onto the deck and leaned at the side railing, they were quiet for what seemed like a long time, drinking their respective mugs and letting the violet sky deepen to blue and black, the clouds disappearing as the cool winds of darkness came to greet the world revealing the blanket of stars that sparkled over the seas.
[#009cff "Brahm? Do you think my mother is...?"] After a long while Remias spoke softly to the servant at his side, the old man knew what the prince was asking even if he could not bring himself to complete the question. The old man rubbed the back of his neck with his knobby and gnarled hand, fingers bent with arthritis and covered in callouses.
[i [#00b23a "The Queen is a very strong woman, your Highness, she would not go down without a fight."]] Remias looked up at the stars wondering if, against all odds, his mother was looking up at them too-hoping he was safe. She told him the Northmen took no prisoners, kept no captives, they slaughtered women and children-but surely... Surely a Queen would... The prince felt his eyes starting to burn, he did not want to cry but he couldn't stop them again, failing to hold it in he felt like such a failure and a coward; he was trying [i so hard] to be strong, and the long heavy tears of grief overwhelmed him once more. Everyone let him cry in peace for that he was thankful, he did not need to feel weaker than he already did; he was an orphan and like the rest stranded on the ship, now a refugee.
Brahm gently placed his arm around the prince's shoulders, to which Remias could not stop himself from leaning onto the offered shoulder and the great wave of sorrow crashed over him, threatening to drown himself in his own tears. At last being supported to give in to his sadness the young man truly sobbed, having to mourn again the loss of his father and mother-whom he was certain was dead. Remias felt so rotten having to run, to flee his own home when his father died valiantly to defend it-turned tail like a disgraced dog and forced miles from home into a country he did not know, would not know for weeks to come. Yet Remias still had family left, he reminded himself through his tears, that he still had an uncle that would be there for him and help him. His mother's brother, Rhakim, ascended the throne from Remias' grandfather in Kalrisan and forged an alliance with Geldaron by marrying off Rowena to Remias II. Rhakim was always a good man whenever he visited, he was courteous and held a martial personality befitting on one raised to rule. Certainly there was still love held between siblings, and that love would extend to Remias-surely Remias would not be turned away, not after all he's lost...