The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Thirty Three
Formation of a Fleet
The Serikua had been sailing for days with no land or ships in sight. One day, Captain Esiada stood at the stern railing. The day was a nice sunny one. There was a steady breeze. The crew were on deck doing their daily chores. Captain Esiada looked over the ocean behind the ship. He spied a black object on the horizon. He put the spyglass to his right eye. He closed his left eye. He trained it on the object. He focused the spyglass. The object appeared to be a sailing ship coming up fast behind them.
Captain Esiada ordered the top two square sails of each mast furled. The crew jumped on the ratlines. They furled the sails. The Serikua slowed, allowing the coming ship to catch up faster. Two days later, the two ships were even.
The new ship was a four mast clipper. Each mast carried five square sails. Between each pair of masts were three triangular staysails. There were four jibs. A large square sail was behind the last mast. Above that sail was a triangular sail. The hull was painted red. A black stripe ran along the side where the main deck would be. The ship’s name was embossed in gold above the anchor. The ship flew a flag from an archipelago south of Cinga.
The ship came along the starboard side of the Serikua. Men were furling some sails on the masts. It matched speed with the Serikua. The first mate stood on the deck at the stern. He cupped his hands around his mouth. He loudly hailed Captain Esiada. He spoke Dragonese, “Ahoy there! My captain requests permission to board for a meeting.”
“Permission is granted,” Captain Esiada said. All the sails on both ships were furled. The ships drifted together.
A dinghy pulled up along side of the Serikua. A man handled the oars at the stern. Another man sat at the bow. A woman sat in the middle of the dinghy.
Iyoseching opened a gate in the starboard rail. He threw a rope ladder over the side. It unrolled down the ship’s side until the bottom rungs hit the water. The bow man grabbed the ladder.
The woman stood up. She walked to the dinghy’s bow. She grabbed a ladder rung. She climbed the ladder. Captain Esiada helped her onto the deck.
She stood in front of him. She was about his height. Her flowing blond hair hung just below her shoulder blades. She wore black pants and a white shirt with gold bars on the sleeves. Her brown leather boots had tops half way up her calves. The toes were somewhat pointed. She greeted him in Dragonese, “I’m Captain Kessendra of the Shenadoa.”
“Welcome aboard. I’m Captain Esiada of the Serikua. Come with me, please,” he said in kind. He led her to his office. They entered. He walked around the desk. He stood and waited. Captain Kessendra sat in a chair in front of the desk. He sat in his chair.
He turned around to a small cabinet behind him. He pulled out two whiskey glasses and a bottle of whiskey. He turned back around. He set the glasses on the desk. He held the bottle up. He said, “Want a drink?”
She nodded. He poured whiskey in both glasses. He handed one to her. They drank some whiskey together. He said, “Where are you heading to?”
Captain Kessendra said, “We’re heading to Kulathra. Are you?”
Captain Esiada said, “Yes. We should sail together since we’re headed the same way.”
Captain Kessendra said, “I agree. We won’t put on all our sails so you can keep up with us.”
“That works for me,” Captain Esiada said. They talked for a while longer. They drank some more whiskey.
They stood up and shook hands. They exited to the deck. They walked to the ladder. He helped her onto the ladder. She climbed down to the dinghy. Soon, both ships were under sail.
A few days later, they joined up with two barks and one barquentine. Captain Esiada once again stood on the deck. The barks were bristling with cannons. One bark flew the Cinga naval flag.
A man stood on the deck, facing him. The man yelled in Cingalia, “Ahoy there. Need to come aboard your ship.”
“Come over,” Captain Esiada spoke Cingalia.
The man came over to the Serikua. He stood facing Captain Esiada. He wore the Cinga naval captain’s uniform. He was Cingala. He said, “I’m Captain Sanjeng of the Cinga navy, captain of the gunship Katendua.”
“I’m Captain Esiada of the Serikua. Shall we retire to my office?” he said.
They walked to the office. He offered Captain Sanjeng a drink. Captain Sanjeng said, “Sorry, I’m on duty. I must refuse your offer. I’m here on naval business.”
Captain Esiada said, “What can I do for you?”
“We’re escorting the barquentine Aminvelle to Kulathra. By your heading, I assume you are going there, too.” Captain Sanjeng said.
“Yes, that is correct,” Captain Esiada said.
“There have been reports of piracy in the area. I suggest you join us so we can protect you,” Captain Sanjeng advised.
“Thank you for the warning. We’ll go with you as our escort,” Captain Esiada said. They stood up and shook hands. They exited the office. Captain Sanjeng returned to the Katendua. The fleet of five ships got under way.
Days later, a large and small shadow crossed over the fleet. Captain Esiada looked up in the sky. He saw two dragons. One was large. The other one looked like a toy beside it. He watched them fly over the fleet and disappear.