Crimson Sunrise - Chapter 4
Chapter 1: http://www.theonering.com/docs/14334.html
Chapter 2: http://www.theonering.com/docs/14556.html
Chapter 3: http://www.theonering.com/docs/14711.html
Jessina blinked and tried to remember what happened. As she took a second look around, it all came back to her. She frantically scanned the area, trying to see where the Starwave was. But it was still nowhere to be seen- and the few boards floating around didn't make her feel any better. She sank to the ground and began to cry, putting her face in her hands.
"No," she whispered. Without her boat, there was really no way she could get home unless someone came to look for her. But no one had ever said anything of a small island near her home, and she doubted that anyone had been there before her. Besides, she knew no one would come to look for her because she was taking the Journey. She wiped her tears and sat for a moment, trying to collect herself.
"Alright. Crying isn't going to help. Just remember what you were taught, and it'll be alright. You can make it through this," she said. In truth she felt exactly the opposite- instead of just being tired, cold and hungry, (as she had been during the storm) her head hurt and she felt a sick. Not to mention all her supplies seemed to be gone. And her boat. She sighed and stood again.
"You don't know if the boat is on the other side of the island. It might be. So just go and look for it," she told herself. She took a few shaky steps, pausing to catch her balance every few seconds. After a while she didn't feel so nauseous; it had only been from having swallowing to much saltwater.
She made her way to what she though was the eastern side of the island. Or maybe it was the west? She wasn't sure; the sky was completely overcast so she wouldn't be able to tell by the sun until the clouds went away. The debris seemed to get worse as she went, and she soon found one of her bags, but it was completely empty.
After about ten minutes of nervous searching, she found her boat on the opposite side from where she had awoken, stuck on one of the large rocks that seemed to circle the island about fifteen feet out. She waded in; the water was shallow- only up to her knees- for about eight feet before it gradually began to get deeper. By the time she had gotten to the Starwave, the water was up to her waist. She struggled to maneuver the light boat off the rock, wincing as she heard a cracking noise as it finally broke free. A few boards floated past her and she bit her lip, hoping it wasn't too serious.
Once she led the boat to the shore of the island, Jessina flopped down on the sand and tried to catch her breath. Even the short trip out to get her boat had taken a lot out of her after the night before. After a few moments she sat back up and looked at her it. The waves gently lapped at the hull, making it move lazily in the shallow water. She watched as a bag of her things floated past.
Sighing, she stood and went to collect her things- it was mostly her clothes and some of her equipment. She slung the pack over her shoulder and went to the Starwave to survey the damage. It wasn't as bad as she had first thought; half of the wooden platform had been ripped away, but she could live without it. And the remainder of her food and herbs had gotten lodged under the seat in the bow, so she had those left at least, plus she had her fishing equipment, so she knew she wouldn't starve. The only problem was that she needed to get back to where she was supposed to be, when she had no clue where she was. She shook her head and went back to checking the boat.
"No leaks. That's good," she said to herself, offering up a silent prayer to Ulmo.
She had no idea what she was going to do if the sun didn't come out soon, so she decided to see what was on the tiny island. She hiked up the small rocky hill that seemed to be the center, and looked around. In every direction was sea, and above were clouds. The island had a small pool, probably saltwater, and a few trees. But that was it.
How am I supposed to get water? She thought to herself. She looked around; all the clay pots that had stored her fresh water for the journey where broken but one.
She went back down and put all her collected things in the boat. She also took a few of the floating planks, in case she could use them for something. Unsure whether or not to set out, she decided to wait and see if the weather would clear. She checked out the pool and found it to be fresh, if only a bit dirty. She filled up the unbroken pot and then sat down to wait.
Unfortunately the weather did not get any better, and soon it began to rain. She took shelter under a tree- at least what little shelter that could be taken. Sleep was impossible that night- rain fell in torrents and the sky flashed with lightening until the gray dawn.
As soon as there was enough light to see by she decided to set out. No matter if the weather cleared or not, she had to attempt to journey home. So she pushed off and sailed carefully around the sharp rocks until she was in open water, and let the sail down. She had to steer carefully now, following the dim glow of the sun behind the clouds and using the rudder to keep herself on course. But even as she watched, the clouds grew darker and the wind picked up. After a while she was forced to take the sail down, and could do no more than sit in the middle of the boat and wait it out as she had done before.
This proved just as disastrous as the night before, and the one before that- even worse, perhaps. The sail had soon untied itself and flown away on the wind. She hit an unseen rock violently, breaking the rudder and cracking the hull. Water began leaking in, and she used the pot to bail it out- to no avail. Finally, tired, wet, and defeated, she sank to the floor and prayed that she would be spared.
"What did I do to deserve this?" she asked herself as the small boat pitched. As if to answer her, a monstrous wave rose above the small boat. She had no time to even scream as it pummeled the vessel, turning it on its side. She struggled to the surface for air, gasping as she broke came to the top, only to be pushed down by yet another wave. She swam underwater- not sure what for, because she knew there was nowhere to go.
But the funny thing was, even as she swam up again for what she was sure would be her last breath, she thought she saw a light ahead. Perhaps she had made it back home, and that was the lighthouse on the point? She began to swim towards it, her strength and courage renewed. But it seemed to stay ever-distant, and after a while, she began to lose hope again. She found a piece of board- a part of her ruined boat- and she held onto it as tightly as her weakening body would allow, kicking with as much strength as she had, desperately kicking to reach the light. She did not plan to give up so easily.
Finally, her arms would hold out no longer, and as the next wave rose she smiled as she remembered all she had loved. This time, when the water hit her, she let go, and after a moment of weightlessness she knew no more.
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