By Rebecca Fletcher
“Just a little while longer. We must be close by now.”
Catherine was never very tall, but standing there on the mist-shrouded deck, she seemed even smaller. As if she would be swallowed up by the unknown at any moment. Even as she responded to her guardian’s arrival without him saying a word, her hardened gaze searched the fog tire- lessly.
“Even if we are close to the site, you’ll never spot him in this fog.”
“You don’t know my eyes.” She retorted, and tightened her grip on the rail. “I will find him.”
It had been three days since the message arrived. The Prince’s ship has been lost in the southern Andloss. Suspected to be pirate raid. No known survivors. Catherine had been distraught, but only briefly. Her composure regained, she had called for a ship, and the search began. Now she stood at the bow of their fastest vessel, scanning the water below for a brother who was likely already nestled far below the unforgiv- ing waves of the Andloss Sea. She remained the only soul onboard who still believed this to be a rescue attempt. The entire crew expected to return with a corpse at best, or, more likely, empty handed. She had heard the whispered rumours, and ignored the patronizing glances.
They would find him. They had to.
Standing at the bow, Catherine looked like some noble figure out of history, leading her people on a crusade that cut through the seas like a blade. Her proud gaze never wavered from the waters before them as though they were her foe. This was the sea that had borne her as a child in her mother’s arms. It was where she learned to swim, and to fight. It was where her father had suffered great defeats, and won glorious victories. It was all at once her best friend, protector, and source of danger.
Now, it was only as endless as the stories told. In all directions, it spread out into eternity, as though land never existed. Even knowing the route of the Prince’s voyage, finding his ship was as likely as stumbling across the fountain of youth.
She knew that.
But still, she searched.
Even as her guardian wrapped a shawl around her shoulders, and begged her to go where it was dry, she stood firm.
“Thank you. But I will stay right here until we know.” She paused, and then corrected herself. “Until we find him.”
Her guardian left with a bow, and a heavy sigh. He knew the sea better than that child. He knew that its Sirens could tempt even the most grounded sailor. He knew when a storm brewed, even on a cloudless day.
And he knew that it never yielded a secret that it wished to keep. It held fast its dead.
So he left Catherine searching the salty mist in vain. For even a chorus of the damned could not convince her that the sea wouldn’t take her to paradise.