While travelling back to Crescent isle, Vyse, Aika and Fina gets stranded on a deserted isle. For how long will they have to endure... and will they be saved?
”I just can’t believe this is for real!” Aika shouted.
“At least we landed safe and sound,” Fina said, worried, “But this doesn’t look good.”
“Hey, come on now. Get yourselves together,” Vyse said.
What had happened was this: Earlier, Vyse and his two friends had travelled from Comienzo; a new village on the east coast of Valua. What would’ve been a trip straight back to Crescent Isle had all out of a sudden turned into a stop in thin air. As their altitude decreased, panic increased on the bridge.
Except for Vyse.
Quickly he had spotted a large enough island, and made a controlled, however a quite rough, landing. Not one of them was hurt. It wasn’t all too bad, except that they were now marooned.
“How am I gonna do that!?” Aika said, “Stranded in the middle of nowhere and the closest ship is a wreck!”
“Because we’re not in the ‘middle of nowhere’,” said Vyse. “We didn’t make it very far until we had to land. Look over there: Valua is just across the horizon.”
Aika and Fina lightened up.
“Oh, yes it is,” Fina said. “And doesn’t the Nasr trade-line go along here?”
“You’ve studied the map well, Fina.”
“Really!?” Aika exclaimed happily. “So I got worked up at nothing!?”
“Not exactly,” Vyse said. “We are close to land, yes, and the chances are big that someone might pass by. But” He held up his finger. “It may take a long time.”
“So what are we going to do until then?” Fina wondered.
Luckily, Vyse was not new to this situation. For two weeks he had been marooned on Crescent Isle, before they had set up their base. He knew what they had to do, and in what order. Aika and Fina were aware of that, and they knew Vyse would know how to handle this.
“First thing first,” Vyse started. “We have to fix a signal fire, be ready to light it up at any moment, and keep out watching for any passing ships. And secondly, see if this little rock has any food.”
“If we don’t find any wood, how ‘bout we set the Wave Line on fire? That would a good bonfire, would it?”
“Should we?” Fina said. “Isn’t there anything we can do to fix it?”
“Hey, I’m not the technical one here.”
“It depends on what the problem is,” Vyse said, thoughtful. “Ships don’t just stop working. There’s always a reason, and it could be…” He made a concentrated face, “That the moonstones ran out.”
“So if we find any stones, will we be able to get up and going?”
“Probably not. At least not all the way to Crescent. When I was marooned, I only found just a few, and they wouldn’t be enough to get far. So we can’t count on that.”
And so Vyse, Aika and Fina fanned out to search for fire-material.
It was a small, oval-shaped isle. A couple of trees here and there. One of them had been broken in two because of the Wave Line’s rough landing. Vyse and Aika immediately went to get some tools from their ship to make some logs from it. Fina herself ventured on. Across the plain, she saw a small cliff, accompanied by a tiny, tiny forest. Curious about what she could find, Fina crossed the isle and climbed over the cliff. And what a discovery it was! Just at the edge of the isle was a small pond. She skipped down and had a closer look at it. The surface was calm and crystal-clear. It looked fresh, if they could just filter it a bit.
Back at the Wave Line, the two Blue Rogues had just stacked the wood for the signal-fire. Just some stones and it then would be complete.
“Do we have enough?” Aika asked.
“Yes. And we can keep it burning constantly, as we don’t have to risk of running out of fuel. Although, it seems like we’ve ran out of… oh, here she comes.”
Aika looked up from her work and saw Fina come walking towards them. For some reason, the silvite seemed quite happy. Maybe she had found a dug-down lunchbox, or a well-hidden restaurant.
“Good news,” Fina said. “I found some water.”
“Water?” Vyse echoed. “Great, that saves us some problem. Did you find anything else?”
“Yes, some apple trees.”
As soon as Fina said the word "apple", Vyse knew what was going to come.
“Apples!?” Aika sparkled. “Fruit!! Where, where, where!?”
And there it came. Even if she were marooned, Aika would always be sucker for fruits. It was good to see that she hadn’t broken down completely.
Aika and Fina went off, while Vyse entered the ship. After gathering some tools, he started to work on the engine. After some mild patching up, it looked pretty okay. If a ship could take a couple of hits from a cannon, it wouldn’t get reduced to spare parts just because it landed a bit rough. The moonstones were the real issue.
More like, the absence of them.
But maybe the two lifeboats had enough juice to…? No, not even the two of them could power up the Wave Line for a journey that long.
And we had moonstones back home anyway! Vyse thought angrily.
But of course, they were lucky to run out of fuel in such a fitting spot. Had they continued a bit longer, maybe they would’ve ended up on the bottom of the world, after they had all been crushed by the high pressure. Just a little longer…
Wait a second!
Vyse’s thoughts stopped at the sheer realization. If they couldn’t reach Crescent Isle, why then didn’t they just go back to Valua? Just to the coast, and then straight to the closest harbour. If they combined the fuel from the lifeboats and managed to find some stones…
Impossible is after all only a word, Vyse thought.
“Vyyyseee!!” was heard from outside.
He went out on the deck, and saw out on the field that Aika and Fina had set up a campfire. A steaming pot hung just above it. A nice piece of handiwork in such a short time. The sight and the smell made his appetite jump out, raring’ to go.
“Dinner’s calling!” Aika called again, “Can you bring some cutlery?”
“And bowls!” Fina called while adding some salt from a salt cellar.
“Sure thing!” Vyse answered.
Quickly he went back into the ship. Wave Line wasn’t very big, but there was a small pantry in the bedroom, just next to the cargo hold.
Vyse found the cutlery quickly enough, and then went to the cargo. After moving aside some barrels with gunpowder, he found it; his secret cargo. He had thought of saving it until they got back home, but this might be needed now. After a quick check, he saw that the lid was untouched. Quickly he broke the seal, grabbed three of them, and put them into his inner-pocket.
This, Vyse thought, will be appreciated.
Carrying both cutlery and secret, he left the ship’s interior and headed away to the enticing dinner. Whatever they had cooked up, it sure smelled delicious, especially if Fina had been leading the cooking. No matter how little she had known about of the world when she came here, in cooking she was becoming a master. Fina wanted to learn new stuff, and she enjoyed making food, for her friends in particular.
“About time, slowpoke,” Aika said, jokingly surly, “Had it been any longer, I wouldn’t have needed cutlery.”
“And then I guess there wouldn’t’ve been anything left for us,” Vyse replied as he handed out bowls and spoons, “So, what’s on the menu tonight?”
“Mishmash-soup from the Wave Line,” Fina said, “And for dessert…”
“Apples from the middle of nowhere!” Aika chimed, “Yummy!”
“You sure it isn’t just outside of Valua?” Vyse remarked.
“Yeah, I know about that. But that doesn’t sound very glamorous, does it?”
Not in the mood to discuss geography, the three friends spooned up a portion each. And it was sure delicious alright. There were not very many ingredients, but homemade cooking had a certain charm, especially if you were marooned and couldn’t afford being picky. And the taste of new bought wares wasn’t too bad. Even though they cultivated enough vegetables back home, they had bought a couple of boxes. All to feed the trading. And good fortune was that. Curious how meat, onions and vegetables could make such a good soup.
“Now that was tasty,” Vyse said and put down his bowl.
“Yep,” Aika said. “’Cause I mixed it, didn’t I, Fina?”
“No,” Fina replied. “But you peeled the carrots.”
Seemed like Fina had worked on her wit.
“Yeah, Ms. Picky, but look how nice they turned out.”
“You mean those you didn’t peel away?”
“Wha… Vyse! She’s teasing!”
“Now be quiet,” Vyse said in a typical parent-voice, “Else, you two won’t be getting any dessert tonight.”
“Hah, look who’s talking! It was us who picked it!”
“Yeah, but I bought these,” Vyse stuck his hand in his pocket while he was talking. Both Aika and Fina seemed curious to know what he was up to. “I had thought to wait until we got back home, but here ya go.”
Vyse stretched out his hand and revealed the three chocolate pralines. Wrapped in purple paper, it was an enticing sight. Back when the Valua's upper city still existed, these things were the living blood of all coddled noblewomen. If it was adequate for them, it was enough for three Blue Rogues.
“Thank you,” Fina smiled and took a bar.
Sparkling with delight Aika stretched out, but just as she was about to take her praline, her hand flicked up and lightly touched Vyse’s cheek.
“How sweet,” she said and snatched her piece.
“Well,” Vyse smirked, “Gotta keep the ladies happy, as they say.” The two girls nodded agreeing. “And we sure deserved it. We’ve handled this very well.”
“Hey,” Aika said, having just bit off one half of her praline, “What else can you expect from us? But it’s a good thing you’ve been through this once already.”
“Nah, you would make it on your own,” Vyse answered, “As it looks, it would be enough with the signal-fire.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Next time Fina and I will be cast away-ed, and then you can wake up on that honeymoon-ride!”
“You mean that pink nightmare?” Vyse said, “Then she better have caught Gilder already. I’ll not be stand-in for him.”
“Don’t worry, Vyse,” Fina smiled. “We’d come save you.”
“Or we’ll be bridesmaids at your wedding,” Aika giggled.
After finishing their dessert, both apples and chocolate, the three friends remained seated around the fire. Vyse remembered what he had thought about the moonstones. Should he tell them? Why not, but also, why? Vyse sure didn’t want to keep his friends stranded. On the other hand, this was an excellent opportunity to practice at being marooned. Of course, now they were close to land anyway. If the situation had been different, he would’ve dug up the whole island by now chasing moonstones. This could be an invaluable experience, if they ever got separated again.
“Vyse?” Fina suddenly said.
“How was it the first time you were marooned?”
Vyse leant back a bit, threw a brief glance to the north-east.
“Kinda OK, actually,” he said, “At least ‘cause it ended well. Sure, it felt good to not having to topple a flock of loopers every second. But mostly I was worried about you two.”
“Us?” Aika said, “Heh, if you just knew how much we were. I mean, the two of us were together, but you were out there on your own.”
“Sure I was, but at least I knew I was alright.”
“But wasn’t it hard to be alone?” Fina asked, “And were you never worried about yourself?”
Vyse didn’t reply at once. Fina had actually some good points there. It had been far from sure that anyone would pass by. If Gonzales had been alive, he could've testify the lack of ships around that isle.
“I tried not to think of it,” Vyse answered, “By the way, as long as there’s life, there’s hope.”
“I knew he was gonna say it,” Aika grinned, “Fina; cash up! You owe me five gold.”
“W… why do I do that?” was Fina’s reply.
“Oh, come on! Don’t you know what ‘bet’ means?”
“Yes I do. That’s why I know I never agreed to such a thing.”
The three friends burst out in laughter. It was just a regular day, except that they were marooned. But at least they were together this time.
And they would make it through.
Late that evening, Vyse sat up at the signal-fire, scouting. If any ships would show up today, they would have to come quickly. Few people sailed during night, unless they wanted to seek out Black Pirates.
Vyse fingered restlessly at the binoculars. He already started to regret he hadn’t told Aika and Fina about the lifeboats. The thought was good, but now the lesson had been learned for all three of them. It was enough. Tomorrow they would leave.
Vyse picked up the binoculars, let the matches remain but covered them with cloth, stood up and started to walk the short way to the stranded Wave Line.
The bedroom window was lit up invitingly. It had been a long day, some sleep would fit nicely. Vyse made his way towards the bedroom. He could already hear the sound of the girls’ small talk and giggling. The door was closed, so Vyse knocked. No one screamed for him to leave because ‘we’re dressing in here!!’, so he opened up and walked in. Aika and Fina lay on a bunk bed. Aika had the lower bunk, while Fina resided in the higher bunk.
“Did anyone show up?” Fina asked, not sounding very hopeful.
“Quiet as the grave,” Vyse said and took off his boots, “Seems like the merchants are taking the day off, or we scared them away.”
“Hey, don’t look at me,” Aika said.
Vyse walked up to the hammock, wrenched off his socks, waistcoat and undershirt. After acquiring a blanket he lay down. He kept his waistcoat for pillow. Fina noticed that, and offered Vyse one of her pillows, which he gladly accepted.
It felt good to get some rest. Closing his eyes, slowly sail away to the lands of Morpheus with the hammock rocking slightly, giving a floaty feeling of being deprived of gravity.
“Is there really a trade-way along here?” Aika asked all out of sudden.
“As good as,” Fina said. “Maybe I was a bit wrong.”
“Mmm, better a little than ‘very’.”
“I sure hope someone will pass by. Not even the lifeboats are in shape.”
Vyse eyelids moved up. WHAT had Fina said!?
“What!?” he burst out, and sat straight up.
“The lifeboats are not in shape,” Aika said. “Broken. We went to check them out while you were scouting. I can tell that now they’re just as flyable as Blueheim.”
Vyse leapt out of the hammock and rushed away to the lifeboat’s “hangar” in the Wave Line’s stern. And what a sight it was! The boats themselves were actually okay, but the engines were in bad shape. The moonstones had been reduced to moon dust, the wings lay in rags. Just like the ropes that was supposed to keep the vessels tied down.
A bad end for a bad day.