A Light in White River
He heard her enter the front door, and she brought the wind with her. She carried some paper sacks, supplies for the weather...he guessed.
"Back to 'ome and 'earth me love!" Miranda exclaimed.
He often wondered what she saw in him. He had such baggage. His memory was foggy and cluttered, his strength had faded...the military, while serving him and shaping him, had also given him his fair share of scars. There had been many nights Miranda had been awoken by his nightmares. His shouting and thrashing held him captive as memories of the past mingled with the present.
But like the constant and steady glow of the lighthouse, Miranda stood tall and weathered his storms, guiding his confused mind home safely. She never seemed to resent him for it either, which gave him a continual sense of awe and wonder.
"Brought rations and supplies?" he asked.
"Aye. Storm's coming. Next twenty-four hours or so."
"My old bones say twelve, tops." Shaylan muttered.
"Your joints are rarely wrong m'love." Miranda hugged him from behind. He basked in her calm reassurance for a second, hoping the memory would stay put in his mind instead of flittering away.
"I checked the fuses, cables, and lamp. Made sure the deck is clear. We've got a couple of boxes of replacement parts left in the storage closet."
"I'm glad the sea is clear today." Miranda replied.
Shaylan hated talking about his memory issues. His pride wouldn't allow him to address it head-on. So, the couple had come up with a little code between them, comparing his memory to the sea they both loved.
"There's been some...minor fog. But yes, mostly clear seas today."
"Best enjoy it while we have it then."
The good days had become fewer. They needed to enjoy time in clear seas while they could.
The storm rolled in at dawn. They'd taken shifts, one minding the lamp while the other rested or tried to get some fitful sleep. They'd tied ropes to specific holds that had been attached to the railing of the upper deck. They tied the other end around their waists to keep from blowing off the deck. They were thankful for the ropes many times that day.
Shortly before lunch, Shaylan entered the kitchen, ready to swap with Miranda and catch a short bit of rest. No sooner had he entered the room than there was a tremendous peal of thunder and the sharp sound of splintering wood. The entire building shook, and Shaylan was knocked off his feet. Everything went black.
Miranda felt the tremors, and heard the dull thud of Shaylan's form hitting the floor. Running in from the back bedroom she gave a cry as she saw him lying on the floor out cold. "Shaylan! Shaylan! Wake up!" She rushed to his side, trying to shake and rouse him. "Wha-?" He woke with a start. Miranda held back a cry as she saw no recognition in his eyes.
"Where are my sailors? What happened?" Shaylan asked. Miranda could see his mind had snapped back to his navy days when his entire focus was on his men.
"Calm yourself, Officer Moore. Your men are fine." Miranda searched for an excuse that seemed plausible. She'd seen how Portia had dealt with Shaylan when his mind was in this state.
"You're on shore leave. The others are bunked up in town." She placed her hands on his shoulders, trying to calm him. Shaylan's eyes were wide with panic.
"Unhand me this instant Civilian! I must see to my men. O'Rourke? MacDouglas? Duncan?" Miranda's heart broke hearing him call for his former shipmates. Some of them she knew from Shaylan's talks about his war days. And she knew they'd not made it home.
Shaylan thrashed about, causing Miranda to grip him tighter. Unbidden, an old song came to her mind, one she'd sung often when she and Shaylan had been courting.
"Mary went to market,
down a castle-way,
swingin' a thatch basket,
you could hear her say
"I'm off to find my fortune,
with my basket and my spoons.
Just watch this bonnie lassie,
and I'll show you what I'll do."
I'll come home wearing ribbons,
and a calico print gown,
rich like a queen or noble,
all I need's a crown!"
As she sang, tears ran racks down her cheeks. But surprisingly, Shaylan stopped thrashing.
"M-Miranda?" Drying her tears, Miranda sniffled.
"Aye love. I'm 'ere."
"S-sorry. Did I hurt you?"
"Nay. Nay. I'm good. But something happened to the roof."
"Is the lamp on?"
"I don't know. But if you can stand, we can find out."
Enid Allaway sang softly as the storm raged on outside. She felt the thrum and the pulse of her magic, mending and repairing every bit of damage to her home.
Enid's bloodline was one of the few in Neopia that could use mending magic. It came from her family's deep connection to their homeland, a gift given to the clans of the Tartan Isles by the earth itself. Enid's magic could fix almost anything, from a crooked stitch to a broken arm. She used it now, to keep the storm's damage to her home minimal.
Through the day, the rotating and steady light from the lighthouse had provided her with comfort. But when she saw a large streak of lightning leap from the cloudy sky and hit the roof of the lighthouse, she gasped. Her mouth stayed open as the lamp turned off.
They made their way to the stairs and glanced upwards.
"That...is a problem," Shaylan said.
The lightning strike had splintered the wooden roof, leaving a gaping hole. In addition, part of the metal stairs upward was blocked by large wooden debris from the roof. There was no way the pair of pteri could get through.
"Wait here. I'm going to get the repair kit." Shaylan instructed. Miranda nodded in reply.
Shaylan grabbed a toolbox, a couple of spare fuses, and a rope. It took him more time than normal, for his memory was still foggy.
He considered the problem before them. Somehow they had to get to the top of the lighthouse and get the lamp fixed. The stairs were not an option due to the debris.
He and Miranda could fly, but that carried risks of its own. The wind outside was gusting heavily, and hail was coming down hard. Inside the lighthouse, there was less wind, but the hole had created an almost wind-tunnel-like effect, and some bits of hail still came down through the hole along with rain. He also worried because he wasn't sure how long his mind would be clear.
Miranda tried not to shiver as the wind whipped her hair around her face and the rain-soaked her clothing. Occasionally the whole room would be lit up as lightning streaked across the sky outside. Thunder followed, its rumbling voice reminding Miranda that the storm was not over yet.
Shaylan was back. But for how long? She knew that together they had to get the lamp working. She was not sure she could do it alone.
"Now comes the 'ard part." Shaylan said, startling her from her thoughts. She was glad, however, that he had found everything.
"What is the plan?"
"We walk up as far as we can, then try to fly around the debris." Shaylan replied.
"But what about the wind?"
"I have an idea. We'll need this rope....and maybe a bit 'O good South Meridell luck."
They battled the wind as they climbed up the stairs and clutched the rails tightly.
"I hope these rubber boots will keep us safe from the lightning." Miranda muttered, worriedly.
"The bolts have better places to go, love. Lightning always searches for the highest points to leap to. It would strike many other a thing before us."
"Like the roof?"
"Well that's comforting, I suppose."
They finally reached the blocked portion of the stairway, and Shaylan shook his head. "No way we're going to be able to push our way through."
"But how are we going to be able to get up? We can't fly it. Not with the wind." Miranda replied.
"We might if we work together."
Shaylan took the rope and began to tie it. He made a large knot for a handhold on one end.
"Arms up." Miranda lifted her arms as he wound the rope around her waist and tied it tight.
"Here's the plan. You will fly around the debris to the other side of the stairs. I'll hold onto the rope to keep you from being blown too far off course."
"But Shaylan, what if...your memor-"
Shaylan grabbed her shoulders, and stared into her eyes.
"Believe in me. If not me, then believe in us, in our connection to each other. I won't let ye go."
"Then let's get to it." Miranda replied.
Shaylan attached the toolbox around Miranda's body with more rope, making sure her wings were free.
"I'm pretty sure that strike took out the fuses. Not sure if they are blown, or just tripped, but I'm gonna have ye replace them all if it comes 'own to it."
"You're not coming up?"
"Nay. I need to stay down here so we can get ye back down safely."
Lightning streaked, highlighting Miranda's face.
She steeled herself, taking a breath before she lept into the air. The rain pelted her mercilessly, but it wasn't as big of a problem as the wind. Multiple gusts of wind tried to blow her off course, but each time Shaylan pulled her back into the right position. Within a few minutes, she had safely landed on the other side. She took a moment to catch her breath and untied the rope from around her waist.
"Heading upwards!" she shouted. She began to climb as fast as she could safely.
To be continued…