Il était une fois‘,
Waves had power. They rose high into the sky grasping the gods above. They held the strength to guide and reshape the course of humanity.
It was a time when men and women alike set off into the unknown.
Born from these times, and far from the mainland lies the nations of Kinaseswann and Culliford, a small peaceful cluster of islands home to two hundred, and a place filled with tales! Told at every campfire, spoken at every festival, for most, tales were myths, an adventure that was far beyond their grasp.
For some, however, this era was an art, a lifestyle that they had devoted their lives to. These were the pirates. Banded together into numerous crews they jollyed up their skills in search of fame and fortune.
Many such pirates were scattered across the islands of Kinaseswann, but there was a certain crew travelling to a certain enclave that lived high above the rest.
Home to many tropical flora and fauna with the odd sprinkle of spruce and oak growing hidden amongst its palms. A festive isle that often held many feasts and celebrations, a sanctuary for all that hide from the oppression of governance. This island was formed by various crews of legend long ago and maintained by the crews that continued to usher new life into its bustling shores.
An island that will no doubt continue to give life to new legends well into the future.
Its name was Juju Island-
– “Sarah, I hate to cut you off when you’re writing but we gotta go. Now.“ –
-We were simply the pirates of this era. Now I wouldn’t say we were the usual kind of pirates that you would often see round these parts. I would say that this small crew of two defied the standard of a pirate. Rather than the popular persona of a hardened, toothless tyrant that ransacked villages for fun, we had become pirates out of pure wonder.
Sure, we’ll fight and steal but only if they attack first, Y’know? We aren’t that hyperactive.
All in all, this era of ours is a complete wreck. But, it sure was still completely ours!..
“Hey, guess what-
-I love you”
Saraheef cradled the mug in both hands, giggling at her own response as she leaned her mug to shield her face. She lowered her mug, pursed her lips, and blew gently over the clouded surface letting her eyelids drop. Her rising blush hidden behind the steam. Her shoulders rose slightly as she breathed in, and she hummed with her head low.
Her black hair was braided out onto one side as her head piece lay on her forehead. The contrast of emerald green on her pale skin surrounded in our wooden galley, felt as soft to the eyes as a morning dew’s kiss.
In the depths of my own cup, I poured a brief rotation of white cream from the tiny porcelain pitcher that the Duke’s of Hainsworth “gifted” to us last year.
She opened her eyes, and we looked at each other across the table without speaking. Specks of dust that had hit the sunlight just right scattered across the room, flowing vividly like dancers on top of lily pads. This kind of silence was unbeatable and filled my heart on a daily basis. It truly was home for me and her.
From our constantly cluttered hold that was stuffed to the brim, sparing a few gaps here and there from when we would trip or tumble trying to get inside. One time I `had walked in to grab a few things only to find Saraheef tangled and surrounded in paper and boxes and anything else she managed to tip onto herself. She was just sitting there, consumed by what had happened to her. After all, we tended to store our paintings and recipes here. It sure was a pain organising it all again.
Then there was each and every morning, where I sat outside our quarters and watched Saraheef prance around joyfully to a new day. She would take a hop and a glide as the waves shook our hull, slowly but surely making her rounds around the ships fauna ensuring all had enough water and love given to them. She always was moving so gracefully and affectionately to anything that would catch her sights. She was like a child. There was never any stopping her foolish whims.
I swear, the longer I spend tied to her hip the more dicked in the nob for her I become. I grabbed the crate full with our goods and as I stepped outside, a brisk wind spontaneously enveloped me. Suddenly the refracting moonlight broke along the dock’s cracks, lighting up the path ahead. The lights for the festival had been up and the village was illuminated in its colours not too far off into the distance.
Just out, amidst it all was Saraheef. Standing amongst the boxes, her black hair flowing out onto one side as she looked towards the night sky. When the music started she was moving gracefully yet again as she stood on her toes and spun. All her tiny jewels spinning alongside her flowy outfit. A true image of beauty as she played with our cat ‘Matelot Matey’, who was, in my regard, most definitely a tiny leopard.
I remember she once told me not too long ago about how she ended up in that crate floating around in the middle of the ocean. She told me how she was raised on her family’s trading docks and was taught how to treat and care for animals before they were sold.
However, those bastards ended up sealing her in the crate in an animal’s stead. She managed to escape, taking Matelot with her before she threw herself into a barrel and rolled off into the ocean hoping someone would pick her up thinking she was wine.
Luckily, I was hoping for wine that day when I found her. Matelot and her were like two peas in a pod. Exactly identical and ready to cause mischief.
We would all do all kinds of things together. From how whenever we berth into local docks, we would sell our paintings and delightful foods made from our very own herbs and fishing during our journeys. The feeling of standing outside, the wind against your back and a pan under a fire while tiny hungry eyes stare back at you as the rest of the night market roars in the distance is all one can ever ask for. That, or for the plants and vegetables that are constantly scattered across the lower decks, our shelves and even in our chests to be controlled. She just keeps growing them in the strangest of places.
Hmh now that I think about it, Saraheef does love to grow candytuft all across and around our chests in particular. A trace of her lies all over this ship, in every grain of its wood. I knew I always felt free when the stained spruce touched my hands for a reason.
Then there was the way I felt whenever I stepped out onto that main deck consumed me. It’s an exhilarating feeling. The salts in the air and the sun crashing down as you slowly march to take hold of the wheel. The thought even runs shivers down my spine. Having that wind blow through every strand of your being from the tips of your clothes to the ends of your hair was everything and more. Sure for others, the ocean was a thing to fear. The question always being what would lurk in its depths, just beneath the waves, forever unknown. The unknown was terrifying. Or was it? Isn’t there something far more fascinating that no fear could ever hold back?
That feeling. That thing is what guides us. It’s what we wish to find at the end of it all.
Written by Adelina Jones and edited by Caitlyn Blaauw. Published on 10/9/23. Header image by Bruce Zuo.