Tothelea: Chapter 24

It took most of the night, but they made their way to the docks, and found the
Gale's Edge as dawn rose.  What to do?  Trevor didn't want to wait on the
boat, their security resting on whether people they had never met could be
trusted, even for a fee, to keep a secret.  There had to be
somewhere--somewhere safe--they could lay in wait.  He shared his concerns with
Harmony, then asked her advice.

"Nobody hides better than you, Harmony.  Where should we go?"

She looked around surveying the surroundings.  The area near the docks was,
like it had been in Merlon, dominated by larger buildings.  Warehouses, to
hold goods going to and coming from the ships, and the occasional smaller
office or shed.  Harmony pointed up.  Trevor looked.  Of course, on top of a
warehouse!  The hard part would be getting there, but once up above the
streets, who would think to look there?  As long as they were quiet, they
should be safe.  But it would be a long, long day.  Still, it was no question.
A long, hot, safe day on top of a warehouse was entirely preferable to a day
wandering unfamiliar streets, trying not to get lost, and not to be seen.

Trevor took their rope from his pack, and found a corner where he could shimmy
up.  He pulled their packs up next, and Harmony last of all, carrying his
staff.  They moved in from the edge of the roof, out of view from the
surrounding streets.  There were few only a few buildings nearby that were
taller than their hiding place, but none nearby with windows that overlooked
the rooftop.  People on the upper floors of the houses, tenaments, and other
buildings higher up on the river bank could definitely see them, if they
looked.  They would just have to hope that Aramathokoa, having not found them
at the inn, would return to street level--or better, to his ship--before dawn.

As the day grew bright, Trevor moved nearer to the edge of the roof, to where
he could see both the Amun Mesemat and the Gale's Edge.  He watched for
Aramathokoa's return, wishing he still had that knife, and cursing himself for
not taking it and giving Beleden one of his ordinary knives.  But Beleden had
taken it even knowing that it might be useful to Trevor and Harmony later.
Presumably he'd had a reason for needing it.  The lump returned to Trevor's
throat at the thought of the man's sacrifice for them.  For Harmony.

Trevor went over and over the events of the night.  Could he have done
anything else?  Every possibility he thought of--well, the realistic ones,
anyway--ended the same, in tragedy.  Their escape came down to one thing, he
told himself. We got away because we had Aramathokoa's knife.  And that, only
through luck, and because I happened to have a weighty piece of iron to hit
him with.  The ripples were very wide now, driving them from Dannel's death
all the way to here, and now, on to Tithora.  Trevor still wasn't sure what it
meant.  Only now, in the light of Beleden's demise, he didn't know whether to
take it hopefully anymore.  Perhaps all they had going for them was luck.  And
Trevor knew better than to trust in that.

Poor Beleden.  Trevor sighed.  But, there was a chance, wasn't there?  They
didn't really know what had happened back there.  Beleden was clever.  Perhaps
he had raised so much ruckus that Aramathokoa and his goons had fled.  He did
know one thing, though, and cold comfort it gave him.  Beleden would never
give up their plans.  He would sooner slit his own throat than tell
Aramathokoa where they were bound.  No, the chances of Beleden actually
joining them at the Gale's Edge seemed slim.  But they would watch for him,
just the same.

Aramathokoa returned to his ship early that morning, alone.  He gave no sign
that Trevor could see of being at all concerned with the Gale's Edge.  Trevor
told Harmony to stay low.

It soon grew hot on the warehouse roof, under the summer sun.  Trevor missed
the Fair folk's valley, hidden away high in the mountains.  It had never been
hot like this, there.  Even when Galethane had worked them to exhaustion,
dripping with sweat, the lake had always been just a few steps away, offering
a cool drink and refreshing spash of water.

"See anything yet?" Trevor asked Harmony, who was watching the Gale's Edge for
signs Beleden.

"No.  Not yet."

Aramathokoa left again before noon, presumably to seek further word of them.
So, Trevor concluded, he doesn't know we're here.  All we have to do is stay
hidden, for one day.  Just a few more hours.

In the evening, Aramathokoa returned again.  He gave no glance in their
direction.  Trevor and Harmony were exhausted, hot, and thirsty.  And Trevor's
neck hurt from watching the Amun Mesemat in an awkward prone position all day.
They watched the sun wink out behind the hills to the west.

"Trevor," Harmony said, "let's go to the ship now.  He's back in his ship, and
will probably be there for a little while, anyway."

Trevor thought about it.  "No, not quite yet.  But soon.  When it has become
darker, and there are fewer people around.  I don't want to be seen climbing
down from here, or approaching the Gale's Edge, for that matter."

Harmony nodded her assent.  They moved to a far corner of the warehouse, away
from Aramathokoa's ship, and waited for the streets to empty.  When they
judged it to be safe, Trevor lowered Harmony, again holding his staff, to the
street.  He tossed their packs down to thud to the ground beside her.  It was
faster than using the rope, and anyway, there was nothing breakable in them.
Trevor used his knife to make a couple of notches near the corner of the
roof--the wood was dry with age and sun, and cut easily--and tied a loop in one
end of the rope.  He secured the loop in the notches, and slid as quickly as
he dared down to join his sister.  He tried to flick the rope off of the
building, but it seemed to have become wedged in place.  They left it dangling

They made their way around and between the warehouses, moving seaward along
the docks.  Minutes later, they stood in the shadow between two buildings,
facing the water and the Gale's Edge.  The gangplank was up, but a few sailors
still busied themselves on the deck.  Striding as quickly as possible while
trying not to seem nervous, they crossed the open space toward the ship.
Trevor was painfully aware that this spot was visible from the Amun Mesemat.
But there was no choice.  They had to chance it.  Trevor hardly breathed until
the Gale's Edge blocked their view of Aramathokoa's ship.

"Ahoy, Gale's Edge!" He called out.  But not too loudly.  Moments later, the
dark outline of a sailor appeared above the rail, against the twilit sky.

"State yer business," he called down to them.

"We have passage on this vessel," Trevor called back.

"Cap'n and t'officers are at supper," the sailor replied.  "Ye'll have
t'wait."  The sailor turned to return to his chores.

"Please, wait," Trevor called back.  The sailor stopped.


"Please, would it be possible for us to wait on board?"

"Nay, 'm afraid not.  Only Cap'n or an officer can grant ye permission

Trevor was prepared for this response, and had a few coins at the ready in his
hand.  If Aramathokoa could buy favors, so could he.

"I would be," he jingled the coins softly, "much indebted if you could prevail
upon someone to come quickly."

"Awright, awright," the sailor said.  "Jus' wait a bit, then."  He vanished
behind the rail again, and they waited.

Several long minutes passed, before a pair of men appeared over the rail.  One
carried a lantern.  The other was well dressed.

"You have passage, I understand?" the well dressed one called down.

"We do.  Our master, Beleden, arranged it.  He," Trevor hesitated a moment,
"bade us to come ahead and secure our lodgings.  He will be here in the
morning."  Trevor hoped that were true.

"Well he'd best be," the well dressed man replied, "the tide waits for no one,
and we sail with it.  Sailor, put down the ramp," he ordered, "and show these
two to quarters."

"Aye sir," the sailor responded.  The officer left, leaving the sailor to it.
He extended the ramp, and up they went.  Harmony went first, and the sailor
extended a hand to help her up.  Trevor saw him eye her appreciatively as she
boarded.  The sailor helped Trevor aboard as well, and he placed the coins in
the man's hand, clasping it in a firm handshake.

He leaned in towards the sailor, whispering "no one touches her on this
voyage, you understand?"  The sailor nodded.  "Good."  Then, louder, "What's
your name, sailor?"

"Jad, sir."

"Pleased to meet you, Jad.  And thank you for your help."  He shook Jad's
hand, but didn't release it.  Not yet.  Whispering again, he added "See to
that, and there will be more in it for you when we arrive."

Jad gave a quick nod of the head, and reached to take their packs.  "Come sir,
ma'am," he said.  "Let me show you to your cabin."

He led them across the deck, down a short flight of stairs.  The air below
decks was stale and foul, a sharp contrast to the fresh sea air on deck.  Jad
led them through a brief, stooped hallway to a small door.  Even Harmony had
to bend low to pass through.

"Ye can keep yer things 'ere," said Jad.  "No one'll bother ye.  Ye'd best
leave that staff 'ere, though.  No weapons out on t'deck.  Unless we're beset
at sea, o'course.  I'll show ye down t'supper, if ye like."

"No, thank you," Trevor said.  "We've already eaten."

"As ye like," Jad said.  "Breakfast's at sunup, 'fore the tide."  He nodded to
them, and departed.

It didn't take long to survey the cabin.  It was tiny.  Much, much smaller
than the rooms in any of the inns they'd stayed at.  In every way that the
last inn had been luxurious, this was the opposite.  The ceiling was low, the
walls sloped at unnatural angles.  There was only a small window, closed with
a heavy wooden shutter.  The door had no lock, so Trevor experimented with his
staff, until he found a way to jam it shut with the staff, by  wedging one end
against the door and the other into a corner of the room.  It would be awkward
to move around--not that there was much space to move anyway--but it would give
them some security.  The bunks had canvas webbing instead of slats and
mattresses.  But, there were two of them, one on top of the other.  Trevor
couldn't wait to lie down.  Again, he'd had no sleep the night before.
Harmony, at least, had gotten an hour or two, before their rushed departure.

They lay down, Trevor in the bottom bunk, and pulled their blankets over
themselves.  Even second guessing couldn't keep Trevor awake.

Dawn came with noise and a bustle of activity on the ship.  Trevor and Harmony
woke, put on their fresh travel clothes, and left their cabin in search of
food.  They ate, one deck down, in what passed for a common room.  Sailors
came and went, eating in shifts.  The food was passable, oatmeal, or something
like it, hard bread, and water.  Jad saw them, and came by for a quick word on
his way up.

"Enjoy it now," he said.  "Food doesn't get any better till we make port

They talked while eating, deciding that Harmony should stay below-decks until
they were at sea, but that for the sake of apperances, Trevor should put on
his fine new clothes and make a show of waiting for Beleden to arrive.

Trevor did this, keeping his back resolutely towards the Amun Mesemat.
Surely, with his back turned and in fancy clothes, there was no way
Aramathokoa would recognize him, should he happen to look this way from his
ship two docks away.  Trevor waited, wondering aloud to anyone who might hear
what could be keeping Beleden, and that surely he would be there any moment.
Secretly, he hoped that somehow, by saying the words out loud he might make
them come true.

But they did not come true.  The sun separated from the horizon.  The ship
rocked on the morning tide.  And Trevor choked back a sob as the sailors cast
the ship off from its moorings.  The ship slid down the length of the dock,
men with poles pushing to prevent it from bumping against the dock's pylons.
And then they were past it, and into the open water of the harbor.

"Hard t'port!" he heard someone shout, behind him, and the ship turned to
point down river, also turning Trevor to face the docks.  There were three men
running, midway down the dock.  Two big ones, and one thin, all three were
familiar to him.  They ran to the end, and stopped.  Trevor could hear the
thin one shouting at the Gale's Edge, rage was apparent in his tone, but it
was too far to make out the words over the sound of the wind and waves lapping
against the hull.

Jad came over to him.  "Guess yer master didn' wake early enough, eh?  He
looks mighty angry."

Trevor couldn't help but laugh, despite Beleden's failure to appear.  "Yeah,
he does.  Only, that isn't my master."

"What yer laughin' bout, then?" Jad asked, confused.

"Oh, I shouldn't be, I suppose.  Only, that's one bad fellow we left back
there, and he'll have a devil of a time catching up to us now."

"Hm," Jad said.  "Aye, I suppose he will."  Jad returned to his duties before
any officers could catch him chatting.  Something in Jad's tone made Trevor
wonder.  Surely Beleden had told Aramathokoa nothing.  If he had, somehow,
broken Beleden, then he would surely have been waiting for them to approach
the Gale's Edge.  The would never have gotten on that boat.  So how had he
now, almost, caught them again?  Had someone seen them?  Had he-- The rope.
The one Trevor had left hanging from the warehouse.  He must have learned
about it, and figured out what had happened, only to come after them just too
late.  Well, they were away now, and bound for Tithora.

The tide carried them quickly down the river channel and out into the Divide.
Trevor got a good look at the lighthouse, which dominated the view from the
river's north channel.  But once past the island and out to sea, his eyes were
again drawn to the Guardians.  He ran below quickly to fetch Harmony, so she
could watch as well.

"Do you remember anything about them?" he asked, "I mean, from before you..."

"From before my fall, you mean?  Trevor, you don't have to dance around it.
It happened.  You won't hurt my feelings by reminding me of what I once was."

"I'm sorry."

"Nonsense.  I did it for love.  I have no regrets about that.  But no, I
don't.  The Guardians are new to my eyes as well.  They're Old King Hardal's
son, and his queen, is that right?"

"Yes, I believe so."

King Hardal II was depicted in full battle dress, armored, with a great sword
in his right hand, and his scepter of office in the other.  The queen's
statue--Trevor couldn't for the life of him remember her name--stood naked to
the waist, nursing a child that people said represented Hardal itself.  The
statues were impressive, their polished bronze blazing in the morning sun, but
somehow held a sinister air as well.  But then, they had been built to
intimidate Tithoran ships, hand't they?  So that only made sense.  

Trevor wondered how it was that they were kept so well polished.  The great
bronzes should certainly have gone green standing as they did above sea water.
Perhaps there was a treatment for bronze that he was unaware of.  It would not
surprise him.  In his years with Yun, he had never had occasion to work on
bronze in any form.

They moved to the ship's stern, and watched the city and the statues slip
slowly beyond the horizon.  Trevor mentioned what he had seen on the docks as
they pulled away.

"It is fortunate we left when we did," she said.

"Yes," Trevor agreed.

"Do you think he will sail after us?"

"No, how could he?" Trevor said.  But as he posed the question he saw how it
could be.  It would not be difficult to find out what ship had been moored
there.  It would not be difficult to find people on the docks, surely, who
knew where it was bound.  He would probably not be able to get his ship ready
to go before the morning tide turned to come back in.  So, he would probably
be a day behind them.  How fast was this ship?  How fast was the Amun Mesemat?
Could he find them in the open ocean?

He shared these thoughts with Harmony.  She could find no flaw in his

"We should tell the Captain," she said.

"Yes," Trevor agreed, knowing that she was right.  "we need to know more, for
one thing.  And if he might catch us before we reach Wesso, it's only fair
that the Captain be warned."  Still, he dreaded having to tell the Captain
this.  He pondered what exactly he would say, as they watched Hardal drift
gently away from them.

And then, there was only water, as far as the eye could see, and blue sky
above.  Trevor was, of course, accustomed to the sight of the sea.  But, only
on one side.  Most of his life, he had taken his sense of direction from where
the sea lay.  Now it lay all around, and he found it disorienting.  The
pitching of the ship with the waves was disorienting, too, and soon Trevor
found himself feeling sick.

He went below decks to lie down, but soon returned above, at a run.  The small
spaces and stale air below decks immediately multiplied his discomfort.  He
only just made the railing before his stomach emptied his breakfast back into
the ocean.

"This your first voyage?" a young sailor near him asked.  Trevor nodded weakly
between heaves.  The man continued, "Too bad.  If this were a long voyage,
you'd become accustomed to it.  Took me, oh, close to a month to get my sea
legs.  But we're only twelve days to sea, maybe eleven if the wind is good,
before we make Wesso."

Harmony came over from the stern to comfort him, as the sailor rattled on.
"I've seen this before, and if you're this sick now, you'll be miserable the
whole way across."

"What," Trevor asked, gasping for breath, "What can I do?"

"Eat what you can.  You won't want to, and you'll lose most of it, but you
need to keep your strength up.  Let your?" He turned to Harmony.

"I'm his sister," she explained.

"Let your sister take care of you.  When it gets really bad, come up on deck,
do your business there, and then fix your eyes out on the horizon.  That helps
a bit."

Trevor held his head up, and stared out into the distance.  It did help,
staring at the line between sea and sky, and after a while he felt slightly
more stable.

"I'm so sorry you're ill, Trevor," she said.  "I should have thought of this.
There are herbs I know of which would help.  I should have found some and
brought them.  I'm sorry."

"Wait a minute," Trevor laughed weakly, "I'm supposed to be taking care of

"Oh hush," she said.