Posted by: Phil Anderson | July 7, 2013

Forbidden – Part Three

This final part of the story is longer, but it gets intense and there’s no good place to break it. If you haven’t already, you should read Part One and Part Two first.

boat

Forbidden – Part Three

by Philip Anderson

The family reached the spot where Jardino was still moored and climbed aboard. They raised full sail for maximum speed and steered for home. But as they skittered away from the island, another ship slipped into view flying the blue, district flag.

“It’s one of Dolpus’s navy ships,” Castella said. “Can we outrun it?”

“We can try,” Prumo replied, but without much conviction. They sailed on, ignoring signals from the navy ship, but it soon became evident that they could not escape. The ship was a little larger, hoisted more canvas, and had better rigging. Prumo finally gave in to the inevitable and hove to.

As the navy ship approached, Pregio whispered at Maelo’s shoulder, “We should confess and apologize. They might—”

“Keep quiet.” Maelo jabbed his side with an elbow. “Let our parents do the talking.”

The ship pulled alongside Jardino. “Ahoy! I am Melek, captain of the district navy ship Spadafoco. The overlord has warned all boats to stay away from Sapota Island. What were you doing there?”

“We went ashore for water,” Prumo called back. “This is my family, and we are just humble fishermen. We didn’t intend to make trouble.”

“You are his wife?” Melek asked, looking toward Castella. She nodded, silent for once. “Defying the overlord is a serious offense,” he said. “The two of you must come with me. Your boys can stay with your boat, for now.”

A sailor aboard Spadafoco dropped a short rope ladder with wooden rungs over the side. Prumo ascended first, with Castella right behind, glancing over her shoulder at her sons. Maelo was scowling while Pregio stared forlornly.

When they were out of sight, Pregio asked his brother, “What’s going to happen now?”

“They’ll question our parents about what we saw on Sapota,” Maelo answered. “If they learn that we discovered the pirates…” He shook his head and let the sentence trail away ominously.

“They’re the overlord’s men,” Pregio protested. “They won’t hurt us.”

“They’ll do what’s necessary to silence us,” Maelo warned ominously.

Their discussion was interrupted by a call aboard the navy ship. “Sail ho!”

Another ship had sailed into view. It was about the same size as the Spadafoco, and it also flew a blue, district flag, but this flag bore the added insignia of Overlord Dolpus.

“The overlord’s coming,” Pregio said joyfully. “He’ll straighten everything out.”

Maelo snorted. “The overlord gave the order to stay away from Sapota,” he reminded his brother. “He’s the one protecting the pirates.”

“You’re wrong,” Pregio argued. “He wouldn’t do that. I trust the overlord.” He reached out his hand to grab his brother’s shoulder, but Maelo slapped it away.

“Stop it!” Maelo shouted angrily. “Stop being so blind and stupid.” Maelo shoved his brother, who stumbled back a few steps. “You can’t trust everybody.”

“But I trust the overlord. When his ship gets here, I’m going to tell him everything.”

“No, you won’t!” Maelo swung back and planted his fist right on Pregio’s mouth. “You’re going to get us all in trouble.” He landed another punch on the side of his brother’s face. He kept swinging his fists at Pregio’s face and body, and with each blow shouted another accusation. “You’re too naïve. You’re gullible. You’re a fool.”

Maelo threw a hard uppercut into Pregio’s stomach. “You’re always seeing the best in people, but not everybody’s as perfect as you.” Pregio doubled over, struggling to inhale, and dropped to his knees on the deck. Maelo kicked him. He fell over on his side, curled like a shrimp, and did not move. “You’re too perfect!” Maelo panted.

Suddenly, rough hands grabbed both his arms. Maelo had been so enraged that he hadn’t noticed sailors gathering at the railing of the navy ship. He hadn’t heard them shouting at him to stop. He hadn’t felt the boat’s deck sway as they clambered aboard to arrest him.

Maelo was forced—half carried and half dragged—aboard Melek’s ship. His wrists were locked in manacles bolted to the forward deck. Pregio was also carried aboard and taken to a cabin at the aft part of the ship.

A few moments later Siello, the overlord’s ship, pulled up alongside. Lines were tossed between ships, and a plank was laid down, spanning from one deck to the other.

A short, swarthy man appeared, similar in height to his brother, Bentay, but little resembling him in any other way. His graying hair was short, and his smooth arms were thick and well-muscled under his plain shirt. His pants were cut off at the knee, and his feet were bare. He wore a short, sparse beard from ear to ear under his chin, but no mustache.

Melek hurried onto the deck. “Welcome aboard, Overlord.”

“I need a report,” Dolpus replied. “Are we ready?”

“As soon as the others arrive we’ll be ready,” Melek said, “except for a minor situation that’s just come up.” He led the overlord into the cabin where Pregio had been carried.

The navy sailors went about their duties, avoiding Maelo but eyeing him warily and with disapproval. After what seemed a long time, the cabin door opened again and Overlord Dolpus emerged alone. He strode resolutely along the deck and stopped directly in front of Maelo.

They stared at one another for a few moments, each seeming to wait for the other to speak first. Finally the overlord asked, “What happened between you and your brother?”

Maelo remained sullenly silent.

“No matter. You may be happy to know that he’s not your concern anymore. He has asked to come with me when this is over. He’ll serve aboard my ship.”

“When what is over?” Maelo asked.

“There is a band of seagoing raiders hiding on Sapota Island—”

“So you do know about the pirates!” Maelo blurted.

“Of course. That’s why I ordered everyone to stay away from the island—for their own safety. We of this district are fishermen, not fighters. I only have a few dedicated naval ships, but I’ve gathered a small fleet of trusted sailors. We’ll flush out Karsoso and his crew and destroy them.”

“What about me?” Maelo asked.

“That’s up to you,” Dolpus replied. “Your parents defied a very clear order. I can’t allow that, so I’m confiscating their boat. From now on, they’ll stay on land; they can make nets and equipment for others, or set up a fish market, or do anything else they want. But they won’t be fishing at sea anymore. I’ll send you home with them, but where you go from there is your decision.”

Maelo was seething. “You can’t take our boat! That’s our livelihood. It’s all we have.” He wanted to lash out, but his common sense (or perhaps the chains at his wrists) held him back.

The overlord responded calmly to his outburst. “Your parents went to Sapota against my orders. They claim that they didn’t talk to Karsoro and his crew, but I can’t trust them. And by restricting them to land, I’m protecting them from further contact with those marauders.”

Protecting them,” Maelo muttered scornfully. He turned his face away and stared out to sea, ending the conversation.

Overlord Dolpus headed aft and spoke briefly to Melek, then both went about their business preparing to raid the pirate camp on Sapota Island. A third ship and then a fourth arrived to join the little fleet.

Finally, Prumo and Castella emerged from the cabin where Pregio had been carried, escorted by one of Melek’s sailors. Castella’s eyes were red, and Prumo wore a stoic expression of resignation. Another of Melek’s men unlocked Maelo’s manacles and escorted him and his parents aboard Jardino, the only boat available to take them home.

On the voyage back Prumo and Castella, resigned to their fate, were already discussing their options for the future. Maelo did not join in. This life was over for him now. The overlord had ruined it. His parents, too. And the stupid little brother who had made him lose control. He would find a ship and sail east, away from everything that had caused him trouble. And he would start over.

The End

I hope you enjoyed this first of my Tales of Theran. Please leave comments below and let me know if you recognize any of my inspiration.

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Responses

  1. […] Several weeks ago I posted a short story titled “Forbidden.” If you haven’t read it yet, you should do so now, since this week’s post has lots of spoilers. You can find it here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three […]

  2. […] Forbidden – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 […]

  3. […] To be concluded. […]


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