I stood on the starboard side of the ship, my good arm clutching the rail, my other pinned to my chest with a sling. The wind had picked up, but from the worried face of the Captain at the helm, I knew that the wind would help The Eagle just as much as the Stardust. I had seen Darren only a few times, checking on me during pauses in the furious pace he kept, trying to coax even a knot more of speed out of the already taught sails.

The anxious coil of fear in my stomach tightened as one of the more surly crew members glared at me as he passed by, his eyes mutinous. I wondered if he thought he could save his own life if he threw me overboard. But then again, maybe the pirates on the galleon visible behind us would kill them all and accuse them of hiding me, and anyways, the mutinous crew would have a hard time disposing of me, what with the constant feeling of Darren and the Captain's gazes boring into my back.

I rolled the black pearl between my fingers, gazing out over the wind-combed waves. Was Amii out there somewhere, watching me? I clenched my fist around the pearl, yet another unsolved mystery. I could write a book with all the questions I had. I turned and glanced up the rigging, catching sight of Darren securing a rope he'd secured only a few minutes ago. His gaze met mine, and he gave me a soft smile, but the wild flames of fear in his eyes betrayed his feelings. They were still gaining.

I slid the pearl into my pocket and left the rail, tears welling in my eyes. Which was worse? The unsolved mysteries enclosed within the people and things I loved? Or the heartless duke who was probably sending these pirates after me? I let my hair fall in a curtain to cover my face, hurrying by the sailors who looked nearly as worried as the Captain and Darren. Thier lives were at stake as well.

It's all your fault, my mind informed me, and a tear slid down my cheek as I neared the door to my cabin. I flung it open and brought the bar down to lock it, slamming it loudly. I hoped Darren heard, hoped he understood that I couldn't bear the stress and mysteries anymore. But then my resolve dissolved, and I flung myself down on the narrow cot and wept. How could I survive this when I couldn't even fully, logically trust the people I loved?


Darren winced in unison with the crew near Marina's cabin as the slam of wood on wood reached thier ears. He'd followed her path to her door with his eyes, knowing from the way that her beautiful red hair hid her face that she was crying.

"I probably deserved that," he muttered under his breath, finishing tightening the knot he had already tied and retied at least a half dozen times. One of the crew members who had joined during the years he'd been gone shot him a sympathetic glance. What's his name again? Markus? No... that's the one with the tatoo and scar. Gregory, that's it.

He shrugged an answer, trying to appear non-chalant, but a prick in his heart told him differently. He was going to lose her if he couldn't tell her who he truly was, but he couldn't tell her either. He balanced across the boom of the main mast, turning away from the other sailors to hide his face as he felt a flash of pain through his chest. God, don't let me lose her. He climbed nimbly down the rigging, and dropped to the deck. As he turned towards Marina's cabin, a hand touched his shoulder, stopping him.

He turned to face Captain Argon, and gave him a questioning glance. The Captain looked at him solemnly.

"I suggest you leave 'er alone for a while," he said. "If there's one thing I know about women, it's better to wait 'til after they've gotten rid of thier anger 'fore you apologize."

Darren cast a glance at Marina's door, then let his shoulder's sag. Maybe the captain was right. He nodded and turned away again, his mental cry wanting to reach from his heart to hers. I wish I could tell you, Marina, but I am bound by the ways of the sea... Then he climbed back up the rigging, a heavy feeling sinking into his gut.


I hid my face in my unbroken arm, the wet warmth of my tears trickling through my hair and staining the pillow. My sobs were less violent now, but I wished for a sign, for anything to tell me the answer to even one of my questions.

The rocking motion of the ship only served to remind me of the mysteries, but the splash of the waves lulled me close to sleep, a haunting melody of water on wood. As my thoughts began to feel fuzzy and exhaustion from my sobs set in, a draft slipped through my barely open port hole and swept aside the hair near my ear. A whisper drifted through my barely concious thoughts:

Do not despair
Oh, sweet maiden
Do not let your cares
Be so tear-laden.

For what you seek
You shall not find
Until your thoughts speak
Of an open mind.

Questions: Ask!
Secrets: Tell!
In answers bask
And bid tears farewell.

I bid you listen
To my singing voice
Do not be distant
It must be your choice.

For the sweetest words
Are those of the loved
They deflect the swords
That you feel above.

Oh ocean-named one
Marina, my dear
Evil has not won
So do not fear.

The End

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