Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cannot Tame the Wind Chapter 3

Eletheria’s hurt, arms, legs, face, and side hurt. The fall and skips across the water when they hit explained a good amount of her pains but she couldn’t understand why her face hurt. Though most of the fall was pretty blank as she had lost consciousness somewhere and still had no idea how she had fallen off the ship. She remembered the puffs of white smoke and a loud explosion but that was about it until she woke up falling and fearing this boy was trying to hurt her.

She thought back to when she was piloting the Vol Mortem. She couldn’t remember the map they had shown her before she took control. All she could remember was the feeling of flying in the clouds above the sea, the speeding coastline under her as she experienced no longer being constrained by the ground. Wait, the coastline she had seen. Which direction was it? The height of the waves prevented her from seeing any land.

Bobbing in the water holding a broken glider did not sound like a fun way to spend the day. Also they would just be small specks to anyone above looking for them. She wondered what they could do to improve their odds. Digging through the pack, it appeared its sole function was to work as a glider. There wasn’t even a water skin included within it. Anyone who was using such a device was meant to return to the ship before food and water became a concern.

“So you jumped after me?” Ele asked the young man floating next to her in the water. “Thank you.”

“You are a Windmistress,” Acanthio replied.

“What is your name?” Ele asked so she could at least refer to this young man by name.

“Acanthio, Windmistress,” he replied, “Though my friends call me Thio.” He bobbed a little as he tried to look her in the face as he said his name.

“Well, Acanthio, thank you again for saving me. Now any idea on how we can get the ship’s attention?” Ele asked while also carefully digging through the pack to make sure there was no pouch containing a flare gun or something to signal the Vol Mortem.

They both floated there holding onto the pack, trying to think of an answer to Ele’s question when a loud smash sounded near by them. They quickly turned and saw a large chunk of a ship’s hull bobbing in the water. They realized that there was still a battle going on above them. Acanthio broke the silence first.

“Perhaps, Windmistress, we should attempt to move away from under the battle?” he said while keeping an eye up above watching for falling debris.

“Yes, if we both get on one side of the pack we could hold on and kick to move it.” Ele saw a long cloud off on the horizon and pointed towards it. “Lets aim for that cloud so at least we won’t be going in circles.”

Together they kicked and held onto the pack to keep themselves out of the water, holding the pack lengthwise on at the top of the pack and other at the bottom. They both held on with one hand. Occasionally they would use their free hand to help steer and maintain a course towards the lone cloud. Ele tired out first and with only Acanthio pushing the pack started drifting in a circle. They repositioned with him in the middle to push the pack and her holding on a little off to the side. She would occasionally try to kick some to help, in the end she was only able to prevent the pack from going in another circle.

Soon even Acanthio tired out as well. The time between each kick of his legs grew. When they were both too tired to even attempt pushing the pack any further, they paused to rest. Both of them resumed their previous position on opposite sides and facing each other.

“I joined an airship crew because I hated the water,” Acanthio said suddenly. With one hand he hit the water as if attempting to punish it.

“I can agree with that,” Ele replied. “Do you think we have moved far enough away?”

“Hope so, can’t remember which direction the ships were traveling.”

“How about we rest a bit longer, then keep moving towards the cloud. I remember seeing a coastline. Once the sea calms we will be able to see which way to go.”

The next few minutes passed silently with both watching the sky for more falling debris. Nothing fell that they could see, Ele hoped the Vol Mortem was okay and the lack of debris helped but she didn’t want to delude herself. The other ship had attacked first, started the fight at a higher elevation from the Vol Mortem, and appeared to have more guns. With a sigh Ele, silently wished she was better at lying to herself.

A few minutes passed and Ele hadn’t seen any debris falling near where they were currently. There were a few more clouds now in the sky and the Vol Mortem could be anywhere. The sun bearing down upon them from above also made it difficult to look upwards. The silence continued as they paddled towards the cloud on the horizon.

“This isn’t fast enough,” Ele exclaimed in-between puffs of breath. While Thio wasn’t breathing as hard as she was, there was an obvious weariness growing as their little life raft moved slower and slower.

“I apologize, Windmistress. I am trying to push as fast as I can,” Thio replied with labored breaths.

“It is not your effort that is lacking, just the situation.” Ele replied, hoping Thio didn’t take insult at her comment. “You are pushing more than I am, it is just that swimming is not getting us anywhere fast enough. It also doesn’t cover the fact we do not know where we are going.”

“We could head back and hope to come across another glider pack.” Thio suggested after he paused. Then seeming to remember his manners he added, “Windmistress.”

“This glider would still work, wouldn’t it?” Ele replied and tried thinking about what she knew about the gliders. With the wings torn off it wouldn’t be able to maintain flight. At least a stable flight. All she received in reply from Thio was a shrug of his shoulders.

“The workings of the glider is unknown to me,” Thio said. “The parachute packs were the ones I was hoping to get. I just grabbed the wrong pack. My apologies, Windmistress.”

“You had two?” Ele pushed the pack down to raise herself up over the pack so she could look at Thio. “Where is the other…”

“It was taken from me by another sailor who caught me in the air. He overpowered me, Windmistress,” Thio replied and turned his head away as soon as the look of disappointment appeared on Ele’s face.

“I have an idea, though it may not work,” Ele said after a minute of silence.

“What can I do to assist, Windmistress?” Thio replied.

“First, stop calling me Windmistress. Call me Ele.” Ele was getting tired of Windmistress this, Windmistress that. “Second, I am going to attempt to activate the pack again. It will lift it up but hopefully we will see some coast.”

“Ok, Ele, what can I do to help?” Thio responded.

“I will put the pack on and need you go hold on tightly to me. Then once we are in the air keep an eye out for a coast or ship.” Ele informed Thio of her plan while trying to put the pack on. The sudden buoyancy on her back forced her to struggle to keep upright in the water. With Thio embracing her all of their weight was on the wrong and it was even more difficult to stay upright. A quick change of plan and moving the pack to Ele wearing the pack on her front and Thio embracing the back and holding tightly upon her. Ele thought about doing a countdown or something but changed her mind.

With her hands upon the control arms she powered the pack and felt it start to lift upwards. Due to the weight of Thio on one side of the pack it pulled towards him. The pack had some control built into it as there were two lift devices but they would help her steer to the left and right not forwards or backwards. Even then it took a moment for her to remember that since the pack was on backwards the controls were also reversed. Even with the pull in Thio’s direction Ele used the pack to lift them higher into the air. Soon they were high enough up that they could see above the waves. A little longer and they were high enough that a sudden fall could be lethal.

Maintaining that height was not difficult for Ele as it only used a fraction of her quan. Though continuous use would wear her out as she had not recovered from the time spent powering the Vol Mortem and the fall. They were able to see for miles around and it was Thio that saw the coastline. Beaches and trees lined a small portion of the horizon. Without wings they didn’t have much forward momentum and currently the only momentum was from Thio off balancing the glider in his direction. Without wings there wasn’t a way to use the wind to move them so Ele used the turn controllers to drop the left side a little and as Thio’s weight pulled them it slowly turned them in counter clockwise direction. Halfway through the turn Ele was able to also see the coastline. Once they were lined up with the coast behind Thio but in front of Ele she brought the left hand side to the same power level as the right. Soon they were drifting towards land. A cool sea breeze pushed against them while also drying them off.

“Yeah!” Thio exclaimed once they started going. “Can we go higher?”

“No, the glider may fail and we would fall,” Ele replied, wondering how far up they could go safely.

“At least we are moving and drying out. I was worried we would be sleeping in the sea tonight.”

“Once we get to land we can build a signal fire,” Ele hopefully replied.

“That may not be a great idea,” Thio started to say and when he saw the look upon Ele’s face he didn’t finish his sentence.

Ele knew they had to keep hope that the Vol Mortem survived the fight and would pick them up. It would be a couple of weeks travel over land if they had to walk back to Ascalon. They fling high enough to see some debris in the sea. There were quite a few bits of wood and cloth in one part indicating that one of the two ships did lose the battle. They just were unsure if the Vol Mortem was the loser.

The sudden thought about Sal floating in the sea worried Ele. Without thinking further upon it Ele turned towards the flotsam bundle in the sea and fly towards it. This new change in direction away from the coastline did not escape Thio’s notice.

“Wait, where are we going?” Thio shouted over the wind.

“I see something in the water,” Ele replied with a bit of hope in her voice and kept moving towards it.

“Is it the Vol Mortem?” Thio shouted back.

“I am not sure,” She responded a little less enthusiasm in her voice.

“Can I take a look?” Thio’s request was followed by a pause then Ele rotated them so Thio could look also. He was almost the same height has Ele so he wasn’t able to get a better look than her.

“Do you see anything?” Ele asked hoping he could spot anything that would calm her racing fears.

“No, we will have to get closer.” Thio replied but as soon as the word No left his mouth Ele was already turning them around so she could fly towards the debris.

“Maybe someone survived.” Ele exclaimed while wishing there was a way to build up some speed.

“Wait, if someone is down there they may not be friendly,” Thio quickly said in order to stop her from putting them both in danger.

“What if…” Ele started to say but Thio interrupted her.

“We cannot help if we are dead. We need to make sure there is no danger.” Thio stated and the truth of his words reflected upon Ele’s face and in her mind. She had come so close to dying if it wasn’t for the bravery of this man and she could have thrown it all away upon a small hope.

“Any idea, Thio, on how we can search for survivors of the Vol Mortem without endangering ourselves?” Ele asked after taking a minute to compose both herself and her thoughts.

A minute passed by as Ele assumed Thio was thinking about the solution. While she couldn’t hover in place she started to make a circle around the debris. With distance between them and the floating wreckage she started making a circuit. They were too far away to really see if there was someone floating in the water. At this distance the only way they would know if anyone had survived would be if Ele or Thio saw something move around. Another minute passed before Thio finally answered.

“My friends… and crew mates… might also be… down there,” Thio started to say his voice a little shaky, “However the ones who attacked us may also. While the battle for them is over I do not wish to grant them a second chance.” He then closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then opened his eyes. “I think we should move towards the coastline. We may also want to consider not setting a signal fire.”

Ele looked at Thio closely. After he opened his eyes she could see a bit of moisture around his eyes. She thought about the people who would attack without provocation and what it would take. The idea they would still try to fight even after their ship had lost scared her. Why fight a battle already lost? Thio’s words made sense and so she stopped making her little circuit around the debris and angled them towards the shore. When moving around the floating rubble she kept her distance and they made their way towards the shore. This time both of their eyes were rimmed with moisture.

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