It was the time of the year when the merchant ships from abroad and beyond travelled the long distances, treacherous roads and waterways, and the imagination-plains of monsters long gone in order to reach the one place where anything can be sold and anything can be bought: the Kingdom of Many Crossroads.
The Kingdom of Many Crossroads, the place where things only dreamt of can be found; where gold and silver buy clouds in bottles and trapped spirits, where slaves buy masters, and creatures long extinct in their homelands roam as pets. The only island-nation on which kingdoms and empires from realms and dimensions beyond the walls of the real and the veils of improbability converge and meet – the one place where everyone, everything and even time itself interchanged.
From this world alone thousands upon thousands of ships travel to the Kingdom of Many Crossroads. Some ships travel from the great spires of the northern realms, where land and sea are one. Many hail from the mighty waterfalls to the east, which cascade from lakes the size of continents set on top of an enormous wall of no discernible height. There are those who hover down from the mythical cities of ivory and lotus above the skies, softly falling until they find their way on the air currents. A few dare cross the great ice mounts, frozen chasms and chilly waterways, risking their lives just to reach warmer climates. And just a handful of beings dare leave their sacred havens in the world that lies at the bottom of the hole in the west ocean – a hole whose depth remains a mystery.
The merchant ships are as varied and fantastic as the lands they are built at: some carved out of rocks and steel, others from gems and precious metals found in the deepest caves in the shallowest of ponds. There are ships forged from the whispers of candlelight and the gossip of tree shadows, and others are just echoes of false mirror images from future images not yet dreamed of.
The many foreign fleets all come to the Kingdom of Many Crossroads, once a year, exactly the same day. And they all, without exception, have to make their way through, under, above or around a single floating inlet just a couple of miles away from the outermost shore of the Kingdom. And no matter from where they come from or when they left their homes they all had to dock in the inlet.
The inlet itself was neither majestic nor fantastic like the lands from which its visitors hail from, and neither could it be compared to the bigger island that surrounds it from all but one side. On the contrary, it was a somewhat ugly plot of land shaped like a deformed hook.
Many rivers and lakes of water so pure and crystalline that local folklore called them the spring of deities. Most, if not all of the island had been colonized by woods, the likes which twist and turn, merge into patches of thicker vegetation and, sometimes, form circles around giant, animal-shaped rocks to tell stories of the many creatures that inhabit its roots and leaves.
But as shabby and shoddy as the inlet is, it has one element of pride and one source of beauty; over the years and throughout history, both have become the inlet’s emblem. One source of pride is found in the hundreds of thousands of docks scattered all over the shores, beaches and cliffs of the inlet. Some were made of wood, other were wished into existence; while a few, like the ones in the tallest mountains, had been made out of sweat and hard work.
The beauty of their buildings is a second source of pride. Every single house and edifice, tower and inn in the inlet was built out of shipwrecks and dead vessels. All the once-ships and now-dwelling places are from the majestic lands in all directions away from the inlet. Not one house, not one inn, not one hall was of a design typical of the inlet people.
—- 0 —-
The day the thousands of ships arrived at the inlet the sky was swirling with pink clouds and a purple mist lingered well after sunrise; the sun had yet not risen. The folk from one southernmost town – though, its position changed whenever the inlet gyrated – were preparing to receive their share of customers, travellers and sailors. It was in this sometimes-southern town of Serpent Minstrel that something most amazing occurred: the one day of the year when all the ships from abroad reached the shores of the floating inlet, one lonely ship appeared, in the middle of the town, at sunrise.
It was a majestic ship. It was made, as some guessed and some realized, of gems and rocks like the ships from the north; while others, people watching from the other edge of the ship, could clearly see it was made from whispers and clouds like the swift boats from the cloud islands; there were others who discussed the similarity it had, in design and craftsmanship, to the ships that went up and down the waterfalls of the east. Hundred of stone’s throw long and hundred of goose’s leaps across.
Mid-morning arrived and only half of the town’s dwellers – those who were at some distance from the ship and closer to the ports – had attended to their businesses and prepared to receive their massive share of travellers. This, of course, worried the town’s lord who, being busy and occupied with his own duties, became oblivious to the mysterious galleon that appeared in the middle of his town.
It was not until he heard that half the brothels were devoid of whores and patrons, that several restaurants had yet started cook the meals they were to serve, that many an inn was yet to be readied and prepared, and many of the ports in the middle of the town were yet to be prepared, that he realized what was going on.
The lord came down from his mansion at the top of the highest cliff in the town – a port for ships of fellow lords and ladies. The lord was an old man versed in the ships and customs of the people that visited his town, so imagine how distraught he was when he saw the majestic ship and realized that not only had it arrived earlier than any ship ever had in the history of the inlet but it also looked like no other ship he had ever seen. Fearing the worst and dreading the most horrible consequences, the lord of Serpent Minstrel called forth, with a shout and a flicker of the tongue, a meeting at his mansion and hall.
His hall and mansion were the remains of a mighty warship. The ship itself was once built out of an Eternal Glacier – ice so cold that not even magma could melt it – and whale bone. It was held together by the crew’s fears and stories reflected upon a black mirror; the strongest of bonds.
It was on the lower decks where the whole town was packed, seated and arranged. Though, really only people of importance and those capable of sneaking in were capable of fitting inside the vessel, and even then many crowded outside the galleon-house.
The lord of Serpent Minstrel was standing behind a podium carved out of a dinosaur’s vertebra, his head held high as he addressed the townsfolk, “You all know why you’ve been summon’d to me Hall” Said the lord, looking at all the familiar faces.
“Of course us-folks know why we’ve been summon’d, you old shark,” Said a bearded man at the front. “It be about that ship that come out of no-place.”
“That be real, Josephia Horrman,” Said the Lord of Serpent Minstrel. “Us-folks must decide what to make with that ship before the travellers arrive.”
“But… who made it? No travellers have arriv’d on the islan’. That ship has been built here!” Cried a woman by the name of Yelena Crowcrown.
“Be you mad, woman!? No folk on this islan’ knows how to make a ship!” Replied a hunchbacked man somewhere to the left.
“I say the folks from the clouds made it, and to here they brought it.” Said Margaroo LeCashier, a strong man that worked as a carpenter every Sunday. “Those folks from the clouds must already be arriv’d!”
“The ship is made with rocks and gems! It came not from the clouds.” Cried Johan Purple-Trousers. “It be from the north!”
And that was how the discussions began. More stood and shouted their theories, others remained seated listening and whispering their own ideas to anyone willing to hear them out. At one point a heated discussion between Harry the Butcher and Harry the Looney took hold of the stage; had someone not brought it to an end with a sarcastic remark, it would’ve escalated to a most awesome swordfight.
— 0 —
Hours passed and the Hall of Serpent Minstrel had been witness to only shouts and screams, to accusations and the stray insult. By this point everyone inside the Hall, and even those who crowded outside and around the ship, had forgotten about the ships coming from afar and had left their businesses and docks unattended. Noon arrived and only half the docks on the town of Serpent Minstrels had been attended to, noon arrived and the neighbouring towns had not properly attended to their own matters, noon arrived and the Lord of Serpent Minstrel grew weary, old, almost.
“Silence!” His voice thundered in his Hall. All fell silent. “The ships and the travellers are soon to be arriv’d. This, now must we settle!”
“So!?” Said the Lord of Serpent Minstrel, his eyes turning from left to right. “It just can be not that none of you-folks know where this ship came from!”
A sepulchral silence ensued before one man dressed in rag clothes and with a thick, brown beard stood up.
“What if the ship came from within the island? What if someone here made it?” Asked Ro Winemaker, the best winemaker in the whole inlet. “The ship appeared at dawn and no traveller or sea farer can get to this island until the sun is high above our heads. Meaning that the ship came from within the island – maybe even from Serpent Minstrel itself.”
Silence and then, steadily, like the sound of a nearing chariot, the congregation of townsfolk started to talk to each other, neither loud nor silently; they simply murmured the new idea. Some even thought it made sense.
“You be crazy!” Screamed Loretta Pastrybaker, the baker. “You foreigner… nonsense you speak!”
“Just think about it,” Ro Winemaker responded with booming words and arms crossed. “It is the only option available that actually makes sense. None can arrive before noon and that ship was here before dawn.”
The Lord of Serpent Minstrel banged his hand on the grey podium, bringing the lingering murmurs of indignation and disbelief to an end. “If what you say be true, Ro Winemaker, then one-folk or many-folks made it; and no-folk on this islan’ knows how to make a ship.” He slurred every word, his indignation and anger cracking against his teeth.
“That actually be wrong, lord sire!” A merry female voice said. “This be an islan’ for travellers and ship folk. Many a sailor tells their trade secrets to some of us-folks. That be how I learn’d to tend to sails.” The only woman not wearing a dress said with a smile.
The lord of Serpent Minstrel fell silent for a second. “You speak true, Melania Spartana.” He grumbled. “Me-self learn’d to polish gems and rocks for ship-making many suns ago.”
Another silence befell as everyone pondered this. It was true that the ship farers and travellers shared their secrets with the town folk, and it was true many knew, collectively, how to make a ship. But still, none knew what to do with a ship.
“I say we must use this ship– take advantage of it.” Ro Winemaker said with conviction and a smile, his voice the sound of a man with a dream.
The Lord stared at Ro Winemaker and saw his dead dream from decades before.
“The ship touch’d must not be, and you-folks must return to your duties.” Said the Lord of Serpent Minstrel and it was final.
The ship-hall at the top of the hill soon began to be emptied and the folk eavesdropping around it returned to their duties. But not everyone left the ship-hall, Ro Winemaker and Melania Spartana and another handful of people stayed there; their faces all sang of dreams that few on the inlet in the middle of the realms had ever dreamt of.
A very tall man with very long limbs and very long hair walked towards Ro Winemaker. He pulled out a small notepad from his breast pocket and an ink-filled feather from his hat, and began to write. When done, he gave the notepad to Winemaker.
“We all want to travel the seas. That’s obvious. Why don’t we just take the ship?” Ro Winemaker read out loud and then smiled.
He looked at the tall man, Silence Lawrence, as he was called, then at Melania Spartana, who had stopped lighting her cigarillo as she heard Silence Lawrence’s words. Ro Winemaker’s smile brightened as he saw the gleaming approval of joy in the eyes of all whom remained in the hall.
“Mate Silence Lawrence speaks sense. We all here want to travel,” Said Ro Winemaker with a scruffy voice. “And it is not only us; there are many out there,” he pointed towards a wooden board when he meant to point out a window, “with wanderlust.”
“You are sayin’ we-folks make a crew and take the ship and travel.” Melania Spartana threw her cigarillo to the ground and grinned. She stood up and quickly ran towards the ship-hall’s door, and out she went. Though, seconds later she returned, poking her head through the door and staring at the people looking at her with estranged eyes, “What be you sharks waiting for? Come along!” She gesticulated and was, once again, gone.
Ro Winemaker, Silence Lawrence and all of those whose names we yet don’t know stared at the lady, looked at each other with eyebrows raised, and then grinned so hard someone in a different country found himself grinning for no reason.
They abandoned the ship-hall in a hurry.
—- 0 —-
Anybody with the leisure to do so could’ve seen that summer noon a group of ten persons, some male, some female, running after the nimble and agile Melania Spartana. The onlookers wondered what the hurry was about and why they all had madmen’s grins on their faces.
The group of soon-to-be travellers reached the majestic and mysterious galleon an hour later; they were all panting and sweating and struggling to bring their heartbeats down.
“Oh, you silly old sharks,” Melania Spartana said with a smile. “I can not believe that tired you-folks!” She was always cheerful and it almost looked like her smile never disappeared.
Eventually the group was able to relax under the shade of the ship and, after some sips from a pouch containing Ro Winemaker’s fine wine – some even took gulps of it, for drinking Ro Winemaker’s wine without paying was a luxury reserved to only Ro Winemaker and some kings – they began to dream of possibilities.
Somewhere, well, almost everywhere else on the inlet the first ships to arrive were docking. The imaginary ships from the west arrived, followed by the mighty, rock-built boats from the east. And it was only at dusk-time that all the ships that had set sail towards the Kingdom of Many-Crossroads months, days, weeks, ages ago arrived on the somewhat big floating island. But, those ships that had arrived and docked on the town of Serpent Minstrel had found that not enough whores were in their brothels, just a handful of inns offered fine beds, no restaurant would give more than entrées and appetitizers since their chefs were somewhere else…
Well, most of the town, if not most of the town, had neglected their duties of the day in favour of going to the one big event of the day. For, in a town were ships of all kinds and sizes hailing from lands beyond the horizon dock once every year, the idea that someone was screaming and ranting about the idea of setting sail from the island was, of course, a novelty; and, Serpent Minstrel being a humble and prosperous town were everyone knew each other, no one dared miss such occurrence, even if such an occurrence was deemed madness by many.
Earlier that evening, Ro Winemaker proclaimed himself captain, for he, being the owner and patron of Ro Winemaker’s Serpent Wines, which encompassed many vineyards, distilleries and other such places, was the most adept among those who wished to join on their fool’s errand. He was sitting with an entourage of curious sailors that had heard of the happenings of the town when in search of self-satisfaction. The sailors from abroad, some dark-skinned, others blue-skinned, and others lacking eyes or noses, were most helpful to the folk that suffered chronic wanderlust.
The sailors told them about the needs and requirements to pilot such a ship; they told the folk about the sails, the crew requirements, and the different jobs on a ship, about the costs, provisions, and about the ship itself. To summarize, the sailors told them, in a very short and to-the-point version, how to make the mighty ship sail.
And once Ro Winemaker was somewhat satisfied with the information, he spoke:
“Hullo, mates and folks of Serpent Minstrel and beyond. I believe there is no need for me to explain why the folks around me and I have gathered in front of this mighty galleon.” Said Ro Winemakers with the ease of someone who enjoys speaking his mind to an audience.
Some grunts of approval and others of disapproval, but mostly of approval, were muttered.
“We are to set sail,” said he, mentioning his fellow wanderlusters, “And we are to travel the wide seas and the narrow oceans and every other medium on which this mysterious ship could travel.”
“Crazy you be!” Cried some old man in the crowd.
“Delusional sharks, you are!” Said a man-child wearing nothing but a hat, “Ships are homes! They cannot travel!” He scratched a scab growing on his eye and made a sound akin that of a dying dog.
Everyone ignored the crazy person’s ramble.
“Say what you will, folks, but we be goin’ to set a-sail.” Said Melania Spartana, her raspy voice silencing the sceptical. “If any of you-folks wanna come along, your welcom’d!”
Yet again, another deep silence ensued. Every person was pondering what to answer, what to say and what to do. For some it was the opportunity of a lifetime, to be able to sail out of the island and go beyond the horizon; for others, it was a fool’s folly– a doomed quest. They all took their time, some thinking about how to leave their possessions and loved ones behind; some were thinking about a witty remark that would stop this foolishness. Just as some were about to raise their voices, the familiar sound of dinosaur bone hitting dirt, of guardsmen standing at attention and of the old lord of Serpent Minstrel scuffling to his fabled podium echoed and all over the land.
“Stop this madness!” Cried the Lord of Serpent Minstrel, a hammer hitting his podium. “You-folks all should be working and attending the travellers, not silly-wankin’ all over the place.”
Everyone stared at the Lord of Serpent Minstrel, some with fear, some with apprehension, and some with a smile on their faces. Those who smiled, certain that the fool’s errand was over and done, began to walk away from the crowd and towards their respective duties while those who had the wanderlust in them remained put.
A man supporting his weight on a wooden pillar looked at the Lord of Serpent Minstrel then at Ro Winemaker, and finally at the mighty galleon behind the latter. His face twisted and turned until, finally, as if settling on the right idea and the right expression, he smiled.
“I may know not of ships or sails or boat-stuff!” Cried this unmanned man. “But I know how to fire proper tasty fish and tasty poultry. True, this be as I have two legs!”
The Lord’s eyes widened and a shriek got caught in his throat.
A young lady who was hiding behind some barrels came out from her hiding place and called for attention by hitting the barrels with what looked like a rock, “I am young, yes, and I have no experience. But I be the best shooter in town and I be knowledgeable about cannons.” Said the girl, emphasizing her self-description by shooting down a bird with a slingshot; she didn’t even glance towards poor feathered critter. “There you-folks have it! I can shoot birds and I can shoot folks.” She smiled, “And I wanna travel!”
“No! No! ‘tis be madness. Against our duties, this goes! Against our history!” The Lord of Serpent Minstrel cried in anger, his face the colour of cheap wine.
“Seems like the desire to travel the wide worlds is stronger than the petty laws of this inlet, Lord.” Ro Winemaker did a mock reverence as hi laughter was carried by the wind throughout the island.
The tall man called Silence Lawrence scribbled something on his pad and gave it to Ro Winemaker to read out loud.
“So, it is decided. We are to set sail at dawn and all who wish to join us must prepare and be on the ship by then.” Ro Winemaker repeated so everyone could hear.
The place was emptied; all who wished to join as part of the crew hurried towards their homes, aching to prepare their belongings. Those who remained, cursed the people on the stage once last time and then hurried back home.
The Lord of Serpent Minstrel, his whole body red with rage, his teeth grinding against each other, then, told Ro Winemaker and Melania Spartana and Silence Lawrence and the rest of the soon-to-be travellers that their quest was foolish and if they ever returned to the island they were not to set foot on Serpent Minstrel.
“Curse you-folks!” Melania Spartana said as she threw her cigarette to the ground.
The Lord of Serpent Minstrel shook his head and turned around; he walked some paces and stopped. He turned around, his futures softened. “Good luck.” He said and continued walking towards his hall and house where, that night, he died with a smile, knowing someone fulfilled his dreams
Ro Winemaker then, remembering that he had duties and work on the island as well, walked away from the entourage and told them to meet him there at dusk. He walked past the town square, avoiding the many people who wanted to speak to him, and out of the town. He walked the old path towards his estate, looking at everything he had built over the years with pride. He went into his manor, seven small ships from the sky stuck together, and found his loyal friend and employee, Jeremy Lore.
Jeremy Lore greeted his patron and began to ramble about the infestation in the fields and about the rust on their machines. Eventually he noticed Winemaker’s gleeful smile and fell silent, allowing his patron to speak of his wishes to travel. Jeremy Lore’s face was stricken with surprise and he asked his dear friend to explain (being a busy man, Jeremy Lore never left the house during that fateful day) and Ro Winemaker did. Soon, Jeremy Lore was pleading for his friend to reconsider his actions, but it was of no use, Ro Winemaker had made a decision; he was to travel the world and the winemaker business was going to be Jeremy Lore’s. Knowing he wouldn’t change his mind, Jeremy Lore thanked his friend and wished safe travels.
One evening and one night passed and so came dawn. The sky that day was swirling with joy; it was painted with yellows and light pinks, and filled with stray seagulls and some hawks. All of the towns in the island were busy with visitors; stacked to the max were the inns and brothels and the exchange of coin was marvellous. But, as merry and prosperous as the day was, there still lingered a sense of both dread and expectation.
In the town of Serpent Minstrel, reunited on the western side of the mysterious galleon, there was what, in the years to come, would be known as a Congregation of Wanderlust. Here, people from the adjoining towns of Hop Hawk, White Boats, Yelelo, and other towns congregated to make true their wish to travel the wide seas.
Ro Winemaker could see that his crew, the crew he somehow had become a captain of, was pretty much complete. He had cooks and markswomen, people who could tend the sails and he had men experienced in charting the stars; he had hired, using his vast winemaking resources, experienced sailors from other ships that will help him and his fellow islanders to become one of the greatest crews in all the worlds.
Some short hours passed until the ship was full and it was then that Melania Spartana told Ro Winemaker that they had their crew.
Silence Lawrence wrote something on his pad and showed it to Ro Winemaker; he whispered something to himself, sighed, and then walked towards the uppermost point on the ship’s deck.
“Welcome all of you folks to this mighty galleon, the Wanderlust.” Ro Winemaker said and all of his crewmembers cheered. “Every single one of us here has one thing in common: the desire to travel– wanderlust. We all want to see what is out there,” He pointed towards the sea. “and to experience it first hand.”
Melania Spartana then fell in next to Ro Winemaker; she had been somewhere on the sails.
“That be right, you-folks,” Said Melania Spartana, being unable to let Ro Winemaker take all the joy of speaking to the crew members, and taking the opportunity to emphasize who was the second in command. “You all have wonder’d about what be out there. This islan’ gets many a visitors from afar, but no-folk have ever dar’d travel at-sea. Today that be is changed.”
The new crew-folk cheered and celebrated, some mouthed their enthusiasm and some threw hats into the air. When the cheers finally settled down and all pre-sailing preparations were ready, one girl, who later on would be called Jenny Swordsmith, spoke: “I have one question: how we-folks goin’ to sail if the ship be on land and not on water?”
Of course, everyone fell silent since nobody had thought about first testing the ship and discover on which medium it could sail. Even though all of them had spent hours discussing the very nature of the ship for it was of a strange and mixed manufacture.
When the sailors from abroad reached the town of Serpent Minstrel and laid their eyes upon the mighty and mysterious galleon, they were astounded; never had they seen a ship that combined the attributes and craftsmanship and skills from the four corners of the world. But, even if the ship had parts and structural designs from every ship there was, no one really knew if it was capable of sailing on any of the mediums.
“Well, that is a good question.” Said Captain Winemaker. “Perhaps we should put the ship to a test.”
“What do you-folk mean?” Asked Potansuu Chonou, a man that had joined the crew as a carpenter.
“I mean, we must…” Ro Winemaker said, his voice shaking with glee. “I mean, we must take this ship through the land and onto the sky or sea and test exactly where it can sail.”
And the only response from his new subordinates was a loud scream that could be identified, if one ignored their accents, as a “yeah!” of sorts, or perhaps something entirely different.
So it was that the whole crew got off the mighty galleon – after a quite convincing shout from Melania Spartana – and began to lift the ship off the ground. The whole crew of hundreds and hundreds of islander-wanderlusters placed their hands under the ship and, once everyone was in position, lifted it.
With grunts and whimpers similar to what a troll sounds like when sick, the new crew carried the gigantic boat through Serpent Minstrel. This was no small feat. Have you ever moved something the size of a hill through a town without destroying any other building?
Luckily for the crew under Ro Winemaker’s new leadership, the news of their immediate departure had reached the small farmsteads and villages of the fields. Once they crossed the first hill there were some farmers and villagers waiting to help the crew carry the mighty galleon and fulfil their dream of far lands.
Soon enough persons joined in the enterprise that not one person carrying the heavy ship felt any pain or discomfort at all.
The crew-folk and the village-folk and the farmstead-folk carried the heavy galleon until they reached the fabled port of White Sand where many visitors waited to see the galleon.
But my dear reader, you might be picturing the port of White Sand as a place with white sand beaches, but you are mistaken. As all ports on the island before the Kingdom of Many-Crossroads, White Beach was not bathed by the tides, only by winds and clouds; the island was indeed a floating island.
It was here where the crew’s fear manifested. Even after all the struggle of carrying the ship to the shore, they still had no idea what kind of vessel the galleon was. But indeed, there was only one way to find out.
“So, we-folks just throw the ship out the side of the islan’?” Asked one blond man standing next to Silence Lawrence to which the latter only turned the pages on his notepad and showed the blond man something he had written some time ago. The blond man simply shrugged and said: “Figures.”
And so was it that the mysterious galleon baptized The Wanderlust was thrown out of the island and onto the transparent air. Every single person that day crossed his or her fingers, most hoping that the ship would not fall all the way to its doom and few wishing it would. But what kind of story would this be if the ship actually plunged to its death?
The loudest cheer of victory, happiness and fulfilment came from the collective throats of the new crew and any onlooker observing the whole operation as the mighty and mysterious galleon didn’t fall the thousands of feet down to the sea but remained, for the lack of a better term, afloat. So loud, in fact, was the cheer that people travelling close to the Kingdom of Many-Crossroads eventually created legends of its origin.
Ro Winemaker, tired and without breath, managed to murmur some words and orders that were repeated until all members of the crew knew them by heart. Soon everyone was back on the ship that, confirming the thoughts of some, indeed had cloud-island wood in it.
But the crew was not satisfied.
“It floats on the air!” Cried one of the cooks. “Then it must float on the water too!”
The crew cheered the fat cook.
“Well, there’s only one bloody way to find out!” Ro Winemaker merrily cried, his hands dancing on the steering wheel. “Let’s a-go to sea and sail!”
The crew cheered again and, after some bark-like orders from Melania Spartana, who was already considered the first mate, hurried towards their posts. Underneath the decks they moved bolts and cods and machinery that controlled its vertical movement; overhead, ropes and sails that controlled its horizontal movement.
A strong gust of wind picked up the ship, pushing it forward as it slowly climbed down towards the sea. Directly under the island, on the wooden platform constructed for the sea-faring people to dock, both cries of good luck and farewells and blasphemy echoed as the mighty galleon neared the waves.
The ship rocked from side to side as it hit the ocean; wood and stone creaked, and hands gripped whatever they could, silent prayers on their owner’s lips. Silence befell the ship, tension and anticipation palpable in the air. The crew waited, some for the inevitable torrent of water that would grip the sinking ship, others for the relaxing initial rocking of a ship about to sail its first waters. The ship was a chorus of pounding hearts.
Minutes later the anticipation and fear died out. The chorus of beating hearts died, replaced by cheers of triumph. It was obvious now that the ship they now piloted could travel on either sky or sea.
“What be you-folks waitin’ for!?” Melania Sparatana cried from one of the masts. “Get to work! We-folks have worlds to see and seas and air to sail!”
And so it was that The Wanderlust, a ship whose origin spawned thousands of myths, the ship that could sail and go anywhere, the ship from the inlet at the centre of the world, the ship commanded by a winemaker and with no experienced sailor on its midst, began its story.