Chapter II: Adrift
“We floated for nine days and nights. We battled sharks n’ sea serpents the likes o’ which I’dn’t ever seen before, or ever again. It wasn’t until-“
“-Sea serpents, Grandfather? What did they look like? How big were-“
“-Now listen, boy, if you in’nerup me one more time you’ll be listen’n to the merchant’s dull negoshyations with that ugly matron yonder- you hear?”
“….aye.” Peridas answered defiantly. A twinkle appeared in his grandfather’s eyes. “Alright then. As I was saying”…
Peridas was startled out of his dream by blood-curdling yelp, accompanied by an enormous splash. He looked in it’s direction just in time to see a tail fin disappearing into crimson water. A volley of curses erupted from the mouths of the other three sailors on Peridas’ slat of wreckage along with the word ‘shark’. He continued to stare, dazed, at the awfully discolored patch of ocean. Then, to his horror, an arm rose to the surface a few feet away. Just an arm. No body. “What is…”
“It just ate Malkus! ” cried one man.
“I curse you Poseidon!” shouted another, fatter man.
“Be silent, you fools!” hissed Skipper.
The fat man ignored him and continued shouting and cursing. “I said be-” Skipper fell silent as a colossal white shark launched itself out of the water and caught the fat man in it’s jaws. The other soldiers on the raft were spattered with blood. The monster flew past with its screaming prize and slammed back into the water on the other side of the raft with another splash; Peridas blinked, water pelted him, by the time he opened his eyes again, all was still. The remaining three men instantly dropped down on their bellies. Peridas’ heart thumped and his muscles tensed. Everything around him seemed ultra-detailed and slightly orange-hued as an adrenaline rush flowed through his body. Every fiber of his being yearned to do something, but moving meant death. He had no choice but to let the adrenaline run its course.
They waited for an interminable amount of time, then, warily, Skipper peered over the raft; nothing but calm seas and a haggard, monocled reflection. They waited for a few more hours, during which time Peridas became painfully aware of just how many wounds he had sustained during the storm. Innumerable cuts and scrapes smarted in unison and some of his fingers felt out of place, but what hurt the worst was the gash over his eye. His vision was still cloudy and indistinct, and his entire eyeball throbbed. He looked at the other two men. Each of them was in as bad, or worse condition than he was. They would soon be leaving a substantial blood trail, something that he learned from his grandfather was a very bad thing on the open ocean. Skipper eyed the boy nursing his damaged hand and quickly reached across the raft, grabbed Peridas’ fingers and yanked them into place. The boy inhaled sharply, but relief was instant.
At long last they concluded the monster had gone. They sat up stiffly and probed the depths with their eyes, a useless tactic in the glare of the setting sun. Evening eventually turned to night, and despite themselves the soldiers began to drift to sleep…
Peridas was standing in an endless, rolling wheat field. A soft breeze was gently swaying the stalks, and carrying with it the sweet smell of Lenise’s perfume. Peridas grinned. He scanned the golden fields until he spied a single hill, upon which the silhouette of a girl stood serenely. He waded through the whispering columns of wheat, taking in the pleasant sights and sounds.
Her back was turned to him when he finally reached her. Her raven hair was tied back into a pony tail. She wore a collared, gray tunic and heel length dress. They were not, he thought, garments that befitted such a beautiful creature. He attempted to call out to her but could not find his voice. Again and again he tried to speak, but the words always caught in his throat. And still the girl gazed ahead wistfully. …In fact, she hadn’t moved so much as a hairsbreadth since Peridas had first seen her. The boy finally realized that it was only a dream, and all the memories of the previous two days came rushing back into his mind. He let out a sigh of depression. She is still waiting for me… and I am still lost. He strolled over to her and touched her shoulder. She turned and stared numbly at him. Her small nose was red, and her large, hazel eyes were glistening; dried tear tracts ran down her face. “You are late… I have been waiting for you here for days.” He simply stared at her sorrowfully. Lenise let out a shaky breath. “Can you stay?” The boy shook his head. Another tear rolled down her face. He moved closer to her and took her hand in his. “Peridas!” Skipper’s voice echoed over the amber fields. “Stay?” she asked again. “I… can-not…” He managed to force out. “Will you leave me again?” He nodded slowly. Several more tears. ‘I am sorry’ he mouthed to her. And then he regretfully turned his back on his sobbing lover and closed his eyes…