Zuangeng continued walking through the grass. He thought he heard voices closer than before. They came from his right. He stopped. He turned the direction of the voices. He looked over the tops of the grass. He thought, “That must be them. They’re heading this way.”
He picked up the pace. He hurried to the beach. He came out of the grass onto the sand. He looked at the vista before him. The beach was littered with the remains of outrigger canoes. Some were obviously built for the lagoon only. The rest were built for the open ocean. However, they were in various stages of decay. It seemed that they hadn’t seen water for years. He remembered hearing of an island that was deserted some time before his birth. He said to himself, “This must be that island!”
He searched the boats. He found one that was more seaworthy than the rest. He had learned more spells including one of repairing objects. He said the spell. The outrigger returned to its pristine condition.
Captain Garaad decided to check the beach. He walked down to the sand. He looked east. He spied Zuangeng. He screamed, “There’s fuckin’ Zuangeng! Everybody to the beach! Somebody find Bilal and Muse! Tell them to have everybody head to the damn beach!”
Captain Garaad took off running toward Zuangeng. Everybody with him followed behind him.
Captain Garaad yelled, “Zuangeng! So there you the fuck are! Get yer ass here!”
They reached the outrigger graveyard. Muse, Bilal and their men came out of the forest. They bolted for the beach, hearing Captain Garaad’s scream.
Zuangeng heard Captain Garaad. He turned his head to the right. He spied the man. accept for being beached the boat was ready. He could not push it into the water. He climbed on the deck. He sat toward the stern. He said another spell.
Captain Garaad watched as the boat floated slightly off the ground. The boat floated toward the water. Zuangeng was watching him. Captain Garaad yelled, “So the damn twerp knows fuckin’ magic. Everybody find the best damn boats! We are going back to sea!”
Muse and Bilal with their men reached the beach. They joined the rest. Everybody found some boats that seemed seaworthy enough. Together, they pushed them into the water.
Zuangeng’s boat reached the water. The single sail had been laying across the deck. He grabbed the halyard. He pulled it raising the sail. The boat settled on the water. He looked behind him. The men were scrambling to push their boats into the water. He wondered, “Do they even know how to sail? Do they only know steamships?”
He knew sails. He had spent his first six years onboard the sailing ship, Serikua. In the last two years, he had lived with his uncle, aunt and cousins on a farm. However, he had taken advantage of being able to go to the harbor. He had taken lessons on sailing outriggers.
The sail was still furled. He grabbed the reef holding it. He pulled on it. The boom was already tied to the sail. It was hinged at the mast. The boom fell. He dodged it in time to prevent being hit by it. The boom swung port. He grabbed the sheet. The boom swung until it was perpendicular to the hull. He held the sheet to prevent it from going further. He turned his head to look behind him. He found the only outrigger on starboard.
The men had their boats in the water. They were foundering with the sails. Obviously, they knew next to nothing about sails.
These outriggers used rudders instead of oars for steering. Zuangeng grabbed his tiller. He steered his boat to port. He ducked as the boom swung starboard. It swung almost perpendicular again. Zuangeng stopped it. He looked at the sail for the first time. It was adorned with a greenish blue stylized sea dragon. He looked behind him. The pursuing men had finally managed to set their sails. They were after him. Their boats were not in the best of shape. They still had some problems. He said to himself, “Obviously, they are not really seasoned sailors as far as sails go. They’re mishandling the sails.”
Captain Garaad’s crew managed to get the boats into the water. Some of the outrigger support beams were either broken of missing. Some of the mast stays came loose. They quickly tied them in place. They had to study the mast and rigging. They had never sailed sailboats before. They struggled with the sails and rigging. They abused the rigging. Some of the rigging were frayed. The sails were well worn and ripped. They made the best of the situation. They watched Zuangeng handle his boat with ease. They became envious of him. Captain Garaad said scornfully, “When I get my hands on the damn bastard, I’m gonna fuckin’ force him to teach me that before turning him over to Shokura!”
They managed to set the sails. They were finally back under sail.
Zuangeng turned back to his own boat. He pulled the sheet. The boom swung toward the hull. The sail tightened nicely. The boat picked up speed. He looked back again. The others had managed to get under way after him.
He found favorable wind. He steered back to starboard. He pulled on the sheet more. The boom swung more to center. The boat picked up more speed. He looked behind him again. He was out racing them, gaining distance.
Captain Garaad watched Zuangeng gaining distance. He said, “Damn, he’s fuckin’ outrunning us! These damn boats are poor fuckin’ excuses for boats!”
They came to the reef. A big wave flowed over the reef toward shore. Zuangeng steered his boat to perpendicular of the wave. He pulled the sheet more. The sail tightened. The boat sailed up and over the wave. More waves came his way. They increased in height as they advanced. The boat rode the waves as it encountered them.
He looked back. The other boats were riding the waves with no difficulties.
Soon, everybody was past the reef and in open ocean. Zuangeng looked back again. He said to himself, “I wonder how seaworthy are those boats. I hope they make it. I may not like them, they maybe my enemies; but, I do not wish ill of them.”
He continued in the direction he ended in. He did not know where he was going. The sun was now high in the sky. He looked behind him. The island they left was out of sight. All he saw was water, blue sky with no clouds and the pursuing boats. He looked in all the other directions. All he saw was water and sky. All he knew was he was going south and east. To what degree he knew not. The only thing else he knew was he had no provisions. He was in too much a hurry to go to get any.
He kept looking forward with an occasional look back. The crew seemed to be learning how to handle the sails. It seemed like they were starting to gain on him. He pulled the sheet, bringing the sail closer to center. The boat picked up more speed. He gained more distance from his pursuers. They did not have enough sail to keep up. Their sails were tattered whereas his was pristine.
About an hour later, he lost sight of his pursuers. He kept in the direction he was going. He thought, “I hope I reach land before the day is gone. I’m hungry. There is nothing to eat or drink.”
The day wore on. He continued sailing the same direction. The day turned to night, still no sign of land. He was starving, now. He had no way to obtain food without becoming a dragon. He thought, “I don’t know if I can leave this boat. They might be able to catch up with me if I did.”
He looked into the night sky. Still, there were no clouds. The stars were out by the thousands. There was no moon. He looked for familiar constellations. They were no help in determining which way to go. So, he did not vary his direction. He said to himself, “Eventually, I must come upon land.”
He continued sailing throughout the night. His stomach started to hurt from hunger. He never paused. He stayed fully awake all night. He tied the sheet to a post near him. All he had to hold was the tiller.
The sun rose. There was still no sign of land. About midday, he saw some birds floating in the water. He said to himself, “There be birds in the water! I hope, there is land nearby.”
The afternoon wore on. Still no land. He looked on with dismay. Evening came. The sun was low on the western horizon. A dark line appeared on the horizon in front of him. He thought, “That must be land ahead.”
As he got closer, the line changed. It did start to look more like land. His hope peaked. He started to see some lights. He said, “At last, I’m coming to an occupied island.”
As he approached the island, the lights took form. He found a pair of torches at the outer end of a vacant wharf. He released the sheet to let the sail loose. He stood up. He walked up to the mast. He held the reef in his left hand. With his right hand, he lifted the boom. He tied the sail with the reef to reduce surface.
He walked back to the stern. He picked up the sheet with his left hand. He grabbed the tiller with his right. He pulled the sheet. The sail regained the wind. The boat moved forward. He steered the boat toward the pier. He approached it at an angle. Sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. He remained standing as he sailed toward the wharf.
When he got close, he let out the sail, slowing the boat. He tied the sheet and tiller. He walked to the bow. He grabbed the painter in his left hand. He was approaching the wharf on his left.
The boat reached the wharf. He grabbed a pier with his right. The boat came to a stop. He tied the painter to the pier. He walked back to the stern. He released the sheet and tiller. He walked to the mast. He untied the reef. The boom fell. He pulled on the reef. The boom swung up. When it was against the mast, he tied the reef to a peg in the mast. He folded the sail and stuffed it in the crack between the mast and boom.
He walked to the bow. He stepped off onto the wharf. He noticed that the boat had swung to parallel with the wharf. He walked toward the stern. He knelt down and reached for the stern painter. He got it and tied it to the pier.