The ship took flight the next morning. Spirits were lifted when the afternoon passed and they still maintained incredible speed. “Queyella blesses us, chaps!” the captain said. His voice boomed out instructions with laughter in between. He needn’t bother; the first mate was in charge of orders and he kept the men busy.
When he found a break, Jormé joined Telbarisk on the forecastle deck. “You’ve been here all day,” he said, hauling a few nets with him. The men had used them to fish when the boat had been still. “Would you like something to pass the time?”
“Please,” Tel answered. “I would like to be helpful.”
“Help me unravel these,” he said. “Eight knots, can you believe it? I’ve never seen a ship travel so fast. I had to check the chip line three times to make sure.”
“It is what you wanted, yes?”
“Yes, of course! Every sailor wants a fast journey across the seas.”
“I apologize, then. I didn’t know. My people, we don’t have ships. Boats, yes, for fishing and travel, but nothing that could hold more than a dozen men. I thought that there was a reason why the ship wasn’t moving.”
The first mate’s face changed to disbelief as he studied Telbarisk. “It’s you, isn’t it?”
“You said you needed full sails and an eager sea backing your course.”
He sat down next to him, working the nets as if to show Tel how to untangle them. He spoke lowly. “Have you told anyone you’re doing this?”
“I don’t speak to anyone but you. The men are not kind and the captain is a busy man.”
Jormé thought about this, tilting his head to the side. “I think that’s true. Do you mind if I ask how you are doing it?”
“I am a kiluid,” Tel said, as if that explained things.
“I don’t know that word. What does it mean?”
“There is no translation. I farm.”
The first mate grinned. “I could tell by your crops you were a farmer.”
“Not a farmer, as you use the word. I farm,” he said, reaching out with his long arms and scooping air to him, “and I can shape things.”
“So, you gather the wind?”
The grivven shook his head. “I gather kil and shape the wind.”
“Kil…is it magic?”
“The magic I know of your world is inside men. The wizards use magic to make themselves stronger or heal people. This is not the same as kil. Kil is everywhere, gathering like lichen and moss in a forest, like mist in the mountains. Some of my people, maybe one from each of the larger villages, have this ability. They are called kiluids and they gather kil to shape things. They can fix damage to forests, grow crops quickly, make houses, and bring rains in dry times.”
“Ahh,” Jormé said, his eyes closing as he nodded. “This is why you weren’t worried about food on your island. You could farm your kil and grow your fruits and vegetables quickly.”
“Yes,” Tel answered.
“You didn’t tell me about this when we met. I think that was a wise decision, Telbarisk. I would advise you tell no one else,” he said, putting his hand on the grivven’s shoulder. “I promise you no harm, but I can’t guarantee anyone else on this ship wouldn’t use you for their own gains. Including the captain.”
“Why is this?” Telbarisk asked. “I don’t understand.” If rolls were reversed and Jormé had been the stranger on Ervaskin with magical congress, the grivven would honor him with an exalted status, like a kiluid. If he chose to stay, he would be made a leader of a village, like Tel had been. Why any people would choose to treat a man with such talent poorly was unfathomable to the grivven. The only reason he had been quiet was because he understood the men did not like him, not because he was afraid of abuse over the matter.
“It is a difficult thing to explain, my friend. I have seen how some of the men of this ship are. They cheat at cards. They trip men and laugh about it with their friends. They steal food when people aren’t looking. They get drunk and fight. I haven’t said anything because they still do their jobs. That’s all I care about. But, I think that, if given the means, they could do some serious damage. Atchell especially, and all his cronies.
“It is your choice if you want to make friends with them. I fear they will only cause you pain, Telbarisk.”
He still didn’t understand, but he could learn. Jormé had thus far shown himself to be caring and trustworthy. Kouriya had brought the two men together. “I trust you, Jormé. I will do as you say.”
He smiled and seemed relieved. “What do you need to perform best? Privacy? I can keep the men away from you. You can stay in my cabin if you wish.”
“Food?” he asked. “I hate to ask, since I’ve done so little, but I’m still hungry after the hardtack.”
The first mate’s smile dropped. “Hardtack? Telbarisk, what have you eaten since you’ve come aboard?”
“The men said I needed to earn my rations. I’ve only eaten the hardtack and some pickled radishes.”
He could see this was the wrong thing to say. Jormé clenched his jaw and his mouth tightened. “This is what I mean by the men behaving poorly. You are a member of the crew. Whether or not you’ve been working is irrelevant; you need certain rations in order to survive. I’m going to go get a lot of food for you, Telbarisk. I’m so sorry I didn’t see they were doing this before now. I should have. If the men treat you badly again, I want you to speak to me.”
“They mostly ignore me. I would love my silver tie back, too. It means a great deal to me.”
By that point the first mate was breathing heavily and slowly. “Do you know who took it?”
“It was Atchell. He was…very persuasive.”
“How was he persuasive?”
“He, um, held a knife to my side. He gave me a choice of giving him the tie or getting stabbed.”
“Why didn’t you fight him?”
“I didn’t want to hurt him.”
The first mate looked up at the sails. “Yes, I think I can see why that was a tough position for you. I’ll be back shortly.”
It wasn’t long before the first mate returned with armfuls of food and Tel’s silver chain wrapped around his arm. “It’s how he got you onto the boat, wasn’t it? He had a knife to your back?” he asked. When Telbarisk nodded, he said, “I’ve threatened him with keel-hauling if he so much as gives you a crooked look and I reminded him how fast the ship was going.
“I didn’t see any limes amongst your plants, so I assume you don’t know what they are. I want you to eat one today and one tomorrow. They are very sour, so it’s like taking medicine. Do you eat fish?”
“Fish? Yes, a little.”
“The men caught some yesterday and salted most of it. This one is still fresh and doesn’t smell, so I think you’re good. Eat your fill and I’ll sit and watch to make sure no one hassles you.”
Telbarisk took off his oversized shawl and gathered the food on it, so the pieces wouldn’t roll as the ship swayed. He ate as much as he could, starting with the fish and the food that would bruise easily. He also ate the lime, his face puckering as he teethed the pulp and let the juices fill his mouth.
“I know you like open spaces, but I want you to spend some time in my quarters,” the first mate said. “You’re face is burning from too much sun exposure. I can have you copy texts if you’re looking for something to do.”
“I think I like sleeping under the stars, but will it be okay staying in a forbidden place?”
Jormé made a disgusted sound in his throat. He looked like he wanted to say something, but instead patted Telbarisk on the shoulder and left.