Fantasy Serial Story – The Vampiric Archipelago – Part II

The next morning they were happy to see that the new dock agent did not have a goatee. He was an old, tough looking sailor with an anchor tattooed on one of his brawny forearms. A lit pipe jutted from his mouth, holding up an enormous mustache.
“Good morn to ye, sirs. The Bishop said that you’d be ah coming for one oh me vessels. All I have kin be crewed by two lubbers be the Maid of Light. She be a right merry Maid, aye, she’ll do fine by you ifen you do fine by her, know what I mean?”
“Excellent, thank you,” said James.
“I hate boats,” said Wain.
“Ah, now me lad. Don be asaying that. Frightful bad luck it tis, aye, turrible bad luck. The Bishop said I was to give you this here chart and compass. Aye, so’s you kin find your way to the island.”
“Thank you,” said Sir James again, “Cast off Wain.”
“Good luck to ye, sirs,” called the old seaman.
They sailed the Maid of Light out onto the open ocean and brought their bearing around to the island. The entire day they made remarkable speed, the Maid of Light seemed to fly over the water instead of sailing upon it, but as night fell the vessel slowed and started to break deep.
“Hey!” yelled Wain.
“What?”
“I’m getting wet!”
“It’s the spray.”
“No, I mean my feet are getting soaked. I think the boat is leaking.”
“Don’t be silly,” James paused suddenly as water lapped at his feet, “Wain! Start bailing!”
“I hate boats,” Wain grumbled as he bailed with his helmet.
The sun rose the next morning to gaze down upon two weary warriors, barely able to lift their arms to empty their bails. As the sun beams struck the waves the boat’s seams mysteriously closed and the vessel picked up speed, once again floating along the waves. Switching off and on at the tiller, James and Wain arrived at the island.
Actually there were three islands. High cliffs jutted up from the ocean and the islands perched on top, safe from the crashing waves. Dangerous looking shoals carpeted the sea between the islands and the ocean boiled and foamed like a witch’s cauldron.
James sailed the Maiden of Light around the islands, skirting the shoals, looking for a good beach to land upon. It was a long and futile search. There was no point at which the islands sloped down to the sea, and as the afternoon faded Wain began to grumble about spending another night in the boat. Although James privately agreed he kept a stiff upper lip and said nothing. After all, appearances must be maintained.
Finally they saw a rope dangling from one of the cliffs, hanging down to the surface of the water. After a heated debate they decided to risk the shoals and try to sail in to the rope. James carefully maneuvered the boat into the shoals. Wain stood in the bow, calling out directions.
It took all of James’ skill to keep the boat safe but finally they reached the rope. Wain grabbed it and gave a solid tug to ensure that it would hold his weight. The sea heaved them dangerously close to the cliff but a skillful turn of the tiller moved them from harms way. Then James moved up and began to climb as Wain held the rope. James had made it about halfway up when a powerful swell smashed the boat against the cliff. The timbers groaned in protest, and splintered, opening an enormous hole in the side.
“James!” screamed Wain, “James!”
“What,” James made the mistake of looking down and reflexively clutched at the rope.
“I can’t swim, James!”
“Climb Wain! Climb!” James started to climb faster.
Although the rope creaked ominously, it held and they both made it to the top. Looking back down they watched as the Maiden of Light was shattered against the cliff side and sank beneath the foaming seas. Then they both looked at each other.
“The Bishop is not going to be happy,” said James.
“I’m not worried about the Bishop,” replied Wain, “I’m worried about ol’ Popeye. We just sank his baby.”

**********

Part I
Part III

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