Child of the Drenched: Part Five
The next day Mara got up bright and early. She put on a white blouse and a short cotton skort and a pair of boots. She took out a length of twine and set to braiding her long blue-green hair and then bound it with the twine. Then she went down to the galley for breakfast.
She took a plate of food and cup of water and spotted Garin and Jacques eating their breakfast across the room. She had always sat with them before, but now that she was a member of the crew she wasn’t sure if she was still allowed to do that. Her trouble was ended by Garin waving her over. She smiled and came and sat down next to Jacques and across from Garin.
“You’re up bright and early and looking like a girl who knows her way around a ship,” Garin commented.
“It is my first day as pirate; I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of it,” Mara said with a grin.
Jacques and Garin chuckled at that. They made small talk while they ate. Garin pointed out that she was drinking water and that no respectable pirate would be caught be drinking water with a meal. Mara pointed out that their drinks were likely made mostly of acid and would rot their teeth and insides. It was left at that.
After breakfast Garin gave her into the care of Talak to be taught how to be useful on the ship. Mara worked her hardest, and where her physical strength failed she helped out with her magic. By evening Mara had done more work than she had ever done in her entire life. As she ate her supper, she had to work hard not to fall asleep in her food.
“Tired, Mara?” Garin asked with a grin.
“Of course not, Captain. I could go all night,” Mara replied, trying to sound chipper and failing utterly.
Jacques laughed and said, “I don’t think we’ll run you too hard just yet. Go to bed, Mara.”
Mara nodded wearily and got up and left.
“She’s a hard worker; I wasn’t expecting that,” Garin commented after she left.
Jacques nodded as he ate.
“She’s also very handy in a fight,” Garin said.
Jacques admitted that she was.
“You think you can talk her out of this family thing and get her to stay aboard as a crew member? She likes you and you certainly have taken an interest in her,” Garin teased.
Jacques was used to his teasing, so he didn’t so much as blink.
“If you’re going to keep this up, just remember I know about Isca,” Jacques threatened.
“No, in all seriousness, she would make a fine addition to the crew,” Garin said.
“No, Mara is a sorceress, not a pirate. Even if this lead doesn’t pan out, I’ll get her to go Faerieland to train under a water faerie, or you can get Isca to take her to Maraqua and have her apprenticed there. She can’t go back to those witches,” Jacques replied.
“Well, I’ve come to agree with you about not going back to the Drenched, but don’t count on your plan because I like mine better and I’m as stubborn as a Pwerko. Don’t be surprised if she stays here, I rather think that is going to happen,” Garin countered smugly.
“Garin, she doesn’t belong in our world; she’s far too naive.” Jacques sighed. “I know that we’re pirates and we’re supposed to be self-centered, but could you for once think of something other than piracy?”
Garin grinned at him as he got up, saying, “I was thinking about how happy I think you would be if your friend decided to stick around.”
“Garin, I will mutiny and then maroon you.”
Once again Mara was up bright and early. She was getting more used to life on the ship every day and the usefulness of her magic was immediately appreciated by the crew. They had all come to like her very much. That morning Garin was at the wheel so Jacques was eating alone. Mara came over and sat down across from him.
“Good morning, Jacques. So, we’ll arrive at the island this afternoon, right?” Mara asked as she started to eat.
“Morning, Mara. Yeah, probably about four-ish,” Jacques answered.
“What is its name?” Mara asked.
“Zephyr Island, ring any bells?”
“Nope,” Mara replied taking a bite of a biscuit.
“Are you okay?” Jacques asked.
“Yeah, I am. I’m not thinking too much about it. I’m not going to go into this with any hopes or expectations. I’ll find out when it happens and deal with the outcome however I have to,” Mara replied.
The day went on as normal until they came in sight of the island. Mara worked hard to breathe slowly and not show that she was distressed. In spite of her earlier words, her mind kept running over what would happen if this woman was her real mother.
They dropped anchor a little way out and Mara, Jacques, and Garin got into the rowboat and rowed to the shore. The harbor was small like the village above it. They got out of the boat and went up the hill to the village.
Though her face was perfectly composed, Jacques could tell that Mara was extremely nervous because she had pulled her hair over her shoulder and was running her fingers through it. They looked around the little village and Mara asked what they were supposed to do next. Garin spotted an elderly red Moehog sitting nearby fixing a fishing net.
“Excuse me, ma’am. We are looking for a woman who lost her child here several years ago. Could you tell us where to find her?” Garin asked the Moehog.
She looked up at them and pointed down the other side of the hill to a little beach.
“You’ll find her down there, still waiting for her girl,” the woman started.
Mara couldn’t take the waiting a moment more and raced down the hill before the old woman could finish. Garin and Jacques hurried after her, but they couldn’t match her desperate speed. She reached the beach and looked around, but there was no one there. Garin and Jacques caught up and looked around too; it was Garin who sat it first.
“Aren’t those headstones?” Garin said pointing.
They walked over to them and looked at them. They were very simple, only the names of who they belonged to and the date of their birth and death. The old woman had followed them down and came over and looked at them too.
“I suppose you’ll want to know about Miranda and the missing child. One day the child’s father Walt took her to the beach so her mother could get some housework done and the child simply vanished. We quickly realized that she had to have been taken by some creature of the sea, but we did not know by what or why. Walt set out to go to Mystery Island to see if he could find someone to help, but he never returned. His ship was lost at sea. Miranda set off and traveled wherever she could to try to find help. Three years later she returned. By then Miranda was very weak from so much heartache and she got sick. We buried her here along the shore so she could continue waiting for her daughter to come back. We put up a marker for Walt as well, so they could wait together. This happened such a long time ago. I had forgotten about it until you asked. Are you the child?”
“I don’t know,” Mara said. “I came here to ask her. I guess now we’ll both never know.”
“I’m sorry, lassie,” the old woman said.
“What was the name of the child?” Jacques asked.
“I don’t remember, as I said it was such a long time ago. However, your eyes look just like Miranda’s, lass. I’m sorry, that’s all the help I can give and I need to get back to my work.”
The Moehog left and Mara looked down at the headstones.
“I’m sorry, Mara, I shouldn’t have pushed you to come here,” Jacques apologized.
“No, I’ve been here before; I know I have. I just have to confront my mothers and make them tell me the truth,” Mara replied quietly.
They were prevented from further talk by a voice calling out from the ocean. They turned to look and saw the youngest Drenched sister rising out of the water. Garin and Jacques pulled out their swords, but Mara walked into the surf to speak with her. Before she could say a word, her mother threw her arms around Mara and held her tight. Any anger Mara may have felt melted away as she returned her embrace.
“Thank Fyora, you’re all right!” her mother cried, relief evident in her voice.
“How did you find me, Mother?” Mara asked.
“I’ve been following you since you left. I was so worried that something terrible would happen. Please, Child, come home,” she pleaded.
Mara pulled away from her and said, “Not until you tell me the truth, mother. Who am I, and did I come from here? Did you take me away?”
Her eyes dropped and she nodded her head.
“Why?” Mara asked. “Was it just because of my magic potential?”
She looked back up into Mara’s eyes and cried, “No! It was never that. That may have been my sisters’ reasons, but it was never mine. I was searching for a rare coral along the edge of the water here years ago and I looked up and I saw you standing in the water. You were looking at me and you were unafraid. I called to you and you came. I never gave a thought to the idea that I was taking you away from your home. I never saw anyone else with you, though there must have been. I just saw you and wished to keep you as my own. You were standing there as if you were waiting and I thought that you must have been sent for me.”
Mara looked down at the water that rose to her knees. “Are you telling the truth, Mother?”
“I am, Child. I love you and I always have,” she said firmly as she lifted Mara’s chin so she could look her in the eye. “I understand that this must be hard to accept given who I am, but I do love you.”
“Do you love me enough to let me stay up here?” Mara asked.
Tears spilled out of her mother’s eyes as she nodded yes.
Mara hugged her again and said, “Don’t worry, Mother. I’m not angry and I’ll come back to see you often, I promise.”
The youngest Drenched sister kissed Mara’s forehead and then dove back into the ocean. Mara watched her swim away until she could see her no longer. She turned back to Garin and Jacques who had put their swords away.
There was an awkward silence between the three of them until Garin asked, “So, how would you like to be a pirate?”
Jacques slugged him in the arm and Mara suggested returning to the ship to talk about it.
Mara leaned against the railing on the starboard side of the ship, looking out over the water. She had decided what she was going to do.
Jacques walked up to her and said, “Mara, you don’t want to be a pirate.”
“Yes, I do,” Mara replied, smiling at him.
“What about your magic?” Jacques asked.
“I can keep practicing, and think about what an edge it’ll give the Black Pawkeet.” Mara said.
“Mara, being a pirate is dangerous,” Jacques warned.
“Jacques, do you really want me to go?” Mara asked.
Even knowing that Garin was standing close enough to hear, he was forced to be honest. “No, Mara, I’d be very happy to have you stay; I’m just not sure it is best for you.”
Mara gave him a playful push and said, “Jacques, you’re such a worrywart. Do you harass Garin this much too?”
Jacques just laughed and said that he wouldn’t stop her if she were really set on it. In response she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. Jacques was suddenly very glad that red was his normal color. She let go and laughed at the look on his face.
“Mara, are you a member of the Black Pawkeet or not?” Talak called out to Mara from somewhere.
“I am!” Mara called back.
“Good, then get down to the cargo hold. We need something shifted that is going to require your magic.”
Mara grinned and ran off down into the hold. Garin came up and put his hand on Jacques shoulder and Jacques could tell that Garin was struggling with himself.
“I told you so,” Garin couldn’t help saying.