This begins Chapter 4, if you have navigated here other than by the Novel Progress Page you may want to have a look at it. If this is the first part of the story you’ve seen you might want to begin HERE.
The fresh sea breeze cooled his face, warm with the effort of rowing. It was a beautiful day. The sea was kind and the breeze was perfect for a sail. They had no such though, so it was work on the oar and only glances at the shore as they passed the headland and moved into the bay.
Gospels sat the bench in front of Smoke. Beside his friend, an ancient but still fit fellow named Ezekiel toiled. Beside Smoke, now known to these men as Iamerge, was a talkative fellow named Hebrews and in the stern manning the tiller a gaunt, even among his fellow monks, man named Kings. He spoke little, but seemed to eye Smoke with suspicion.
“So, Iamerge,” ventured Hebrews, “Where do you hail from?”
“The South,” Smoke said, focusing all his attention on his oar and volunteering nothing more.
“Don’t pester our guest Hebrews,” Gospels said. “There will be time enough to learn about Iamerge when we get to shore.”
To port and starboard now there was land, draped in dark conifers, clinging to dark stone. It occurred to Smoke that everything seemed brighter in the South. Greyer usually, and yet brighter. Smoke had seen needle covered trees in his travels, they had a pleasant astringent smell, but most often these sorts of trees lived high in the mountains, in his experience.
They came along a boat not much bigger than theirs, two men hailed the monks. They almost immediately turned back to their nets, drawing from the deep what it might give up. Another boat came into view, this one piloted by one man with oars. He pulled a cage from the water and set it on the gunnels, it appeared full of crab, and then waved, his boat hailed him in return save for the dower Kings in the stern.
Smoke glanced at the man who seemed intent on his tiller to the exclusion of all else, and then, as if triggered by Smokes gaze he put he tiller hard over and the skiff lurched to port. It was a matter of moments to gather himself for another stroke, he glanced over the side and noticed that the stony bottom was very close. Perhaps brother Kings had his reasons, there was even a few pillars that protruded out of the bay.
The monks rowed with more determination now. Smoke hoped the journey was nearing its end. He was tiring, but it seemed that Gospels and the older monk, Ezekiel, were struggling even more. He tried to keep his strokes even with the eager young Hebrews, but feared he could not hold out long.
They were embraced by a little cove. Kings had steered them true and the rocky shore came up around close on both sides. “Here we are!” exclaimed Hebrews.
“At last,” panted Ezekiel. “Praise God you and your friend were there to help us home, Gospels.”
The boat glided up into a landing, there was some fumbling as four unpracticed oarsmen shipped their oars and Hebrews blundered about trying to get on the quay to make them fast. When they realized his plan they made way and balanced his efforts. Soon enough, they were moored, “By God’s grace,” an exhausted Ezekiel said as he was helped ashore.