The moonlight filtered down through the clouds, casting silver light down upon the gently undulating waves of sea. Like silver velvet dancing above an abyssal, ever dark canyon. Fortune had been a sailor and a reaver all of his now considerably long life but the sea at night entranced him as no woman ever had, or could. He sighed. The slow breeze had been steadily picking for some time but even now unfurling the sails would be wasted effort. They wouldn't see land until morning and Fortune cursed himself, not for the first time since they'd set out, for a fool. It was common knowledge that Poseidon didn't like ships, no matter how big or small, to grace his oceans while moonlight bathed them and Fortune thought that he was pushing both his luck and the Sea Gods patience to the boundaries by continuing to sail through the night. But he had raided late into the season and now his hopes to return to the homeland before winters icy grip made the Sea God rage would turn to dust if he didn't sail through the nights. Poseidon was not one to suffer bitter winds. This would be Fortunes sixty-seventh winter, and he could feel it in his bones that something was not quite right as the wind suddenly died away. He strode down the gangway in between his rowers and reached the prow, he stretched a powerful arm up after licking his finger. Nothing. He stared out across the ocean that now resembled granite more than the sea. Still, deathly still. Fortune’s mortality was screaming at him in the silence and his gut feeling would not shift.
'Boys, bring your oars in!' He bellowed, his deep voice ringing with authority, a voice that had cowed kings. 'You'll all call me a madman if this proves fruitless, curse that damned seer! But I want all of you on the spare, now. Do it quickly.' The spare was a small boat that would barely carry his crew but he didn't much care. It had been lashed to the starboard side with leather and rope. The seer had told him his end and here he was facing it, but not at the cost of his mens lives. They glanced at him quizzically but set about their orders efficiently. He scratched at his long, thick, almost fully gray beard as he turned back to stare across the ocean. The seers words drifting back to him from down the years.
'When you stay too long, Reaver of the Sea, and time ceases across the black oceans, a god swims to drown your pride. Your impertinence will see you undone oh Fortune Seaborne, Reaver, Killer, Slayer.'
Of course, in the heady days of youth he'd killed the seer for her disrespect, but her words had burned into his mind, staying with him until at last, at the last, he now understood.
'Spares ready, cap'n,' came his first mates voice from behind him, snapping his wandering mind back to the present. 'Whats the orders, sir?'
'All the men on the boat, Leukon. Head southwest, if all is still calm in the morning, head back here and we'll continue our journey. I have a feeling that something isn't right. There is a small island roughly eleven leagues that way, you should reach it before sun up with time to spare if you row hard. Good luck to you, Leukon.'
‘Will you not be on the boat with us, sir?’ Asked Leukon, failing to keep his dismay and concern from his voice.
‘No, I will stay here and keep the boat company.’ Fortune replied with a wink and a lopsided grin that didn’t reach his eyes. Leukon saluted and joined the rest of the confused crew. Fortune listened as Leukon relayed the orders calmly and then watched his crew slowly row off to the southwest, picking up speed as the rowers settled into a rhythm. Fortune lowered himself onto the deck stretching out on the aged, foot worn planks of his small galley. Age had crept up on him quietly. His back ached and his shoulder was stiff. His leathery, deeply tanned skin had lost it’s tautness as the years had passed. His knee was starting to pain him in colder weathers, if it was colder than usual he had to try hard to conceal the limp that he had acquired. Age, he thought. No, not age, but time. Time was an enemy no man could fight and to a man used to winning in almost all aspects it was galling to say the least. He thought back to his younger years and the hotheaded youngster he had been. Life was stretched out before him then, age almost seemed like a choice. As if people had allowed themselves to grow decrepit and old. As if he were a young immortal that not even time could defeat. He’d felt invincible, empowered and entitled. He allowed himself a small chuckle. He hadn’t even realized that he was growing older, that his old enemy was slowly wearing him down. But now, right here in the eerie calm, he felt ancient. He remembered the battles he had been in, sea battles, land battles, sieges and raids. How much his life had Fortune wasted? What would he leave behind? A reputation as a feared reaver and peerless commander? A few Galleys and Triremes? Riches? He wouldn’t be remembered one hundred years from now, his name wouldn’t echo down through the ages, like that of Achillies or Hektor, Herackles or Ilos. He had sired no sons, he had no grandchildren to mourn his passing.
His mood darkening he sat up and peered over the port side. The sea was still oddly calm, the wind, non-existent. He stared across the Great Green and felt calmer. This was place and truth be told, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else facing his end. He accepted his death and a strange tranquility settled upon and Fortune felt… At peace. Calmer than his turbulent nature deserved. Clouds covered the moon and a drop of rain fell from the sky and landed on his forehead. He turned his face to the sky, to the gods above him. He stretched out his arms, ignoring the twinge of pain in his shoulder, ignoring the dull ache of his back. Rain fell harder and harder, and Fortune laughed aloud, accepting the gods plan for him and with a certainty born of intuition knew that tonight was his last. The rain became torrential, the wind picking up slowly at first, but stronger as time went by. His sombre mood was still sitting heavy upon him but he no longer cared for it. He no longer worried. He smiled to sky and smiled to the gods.
The wind picked up again the sea becoming violent. The rain was lashing him, purifying him. He tore off his cloak and his Jerkin. Reveled in the torrent lashing his skin. Reveled in the sway of the boat as the ocean swell became stronger than his fears. He surged to the prow and his eyes went wide as he saw the great wall of water hurtling towards him in the distance. It was all encompassing and it rose so high into the air that it looked as if it touched the angry, volatile clouds that hung there, mercilessly thrashing the world with unforgiving rain. He screamed his fears at the wall of death in an inhuman roar. He placed one foot on the rail and bared his teeth as swung his great arm around the prow beam. The death wall was closer now and soon would be upon him, his boat pitched forward dramatically as the behemoth wave pulled water away from it and then crashed into the beginning of the rise of water that preceded the titanic tidal wave before it, sending salt water up in a spray that drenched him.
Fortune Seaborne, King of the Reavers, Master of the Sea, roared mighty defiance as he and his galley met the Tidal wave for the greatest and the final battle of his life.
Sorry the entry is so late into the competition, I recently joined, saw this challenge and couldn't resist. Hope you all enjoy, thanks for reading.