“Well, you seem in a cheerful mood this morning, Captain,” said Venik. Mariah’s face colored. “And what if I am?”

The Quandary

by Shaun Kilgore

5

The Fairweather was at full sail, a day away from Theras, on a course for the isle of Benjor. Mariah stood on the top deck, her red curls bound back with a white ribbon. She stared out at the open sea, a faint smile on her face. Her thoughts drifted, pieces of pleasant memories flittered about her mind. She smirked.

“Well, you seem in a cheerful mood this morning, Captain,” said Venik.

Mariah’s face colored. “And what if I am?”

“Oh, no, don’t take offense. Call it a pleasant surprise, if you will.” Venik turned the wheel slightly. “I’ve not often seen you cheerful these last few months. The time in Theras must have been rejuvenating.”

Mariah smiled again. “You could say that.”

After they were ambushed in the alley, Mariah had waited for retaliation, but nothing else happened. News spread about a body found in the alley, but no culprit was found. The remaining days in Theras were relaxing. She had spent much of that time in Roderick’s arms. Mariah recalled Roderick’s words from that morning: More money to be had in trade and more adventures await. Though she still worried about the man’s taste for golden schemes, she knew she had to put it aside. For now any way, she thought.

Once the Fairweather was out at sea again, Mariah and her crew slipped back into the routines of the ship, but there was a renewed vigor among them.

“If these winds keep up, we should be in Benjor by the day after tomorrow.” Venik scratched his beard. “They’ve got good ale in Benjor.”

Mariah snorted. “Then let’s pray for fair winds, old friend.”

“Aye, Captain Hand.”

Looking down at the main deck, Mariah watched the crew at work. There, towards the bow, she spied Roderick, surrounded by a group intent on his words, that insufferable grin on his face. His laughter reached her on the wind. Then Roderick caught her looking and he waved.

She barked a laugh, and realized she wasn’t worried about the open gesture in front of the crew. What have you gotten yourself into, Mariah?

She sighed as she glanced up at the sails. “Alter course, falloff the wind. Head west.”

“Aye, Captain,” answered Venik. “Due west it is.” He spun the wheel and the bow veered, the crew eased on the the sheets and the Fairweather lurched as the direction changed and the winds caught hold of the canvas.

Mariah licked her lips, tasting the grit of sea salt on her tongue. The sails grew taut as the winds picked up even more. The Fairweather surged forward, slicing the rough the waves and headed towards the setting sun.

by Shaun Kilgore

Produced by Eugenio Zorrilla.

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