On the shore, hooded figures move silently amongst the rocks.
The storm has amplified from a subdued chatter to an agitated quarrel, interrupting the steady beats of the sounding sea. The broad-leafed palms morph those willowy needles of rain into watery fists, pounding the earth.
The moving figures are draped in long black cloaks. Big drops of rainwater splash off the oil-skinned raincoats like firecrackers. Still, water drips from their cheeks and chins. A low murmur can be heard between them:
“What do you think is upsetting the young lady, Carro?” One voice questions.
“Well, Jair, she’s always moody like that.” Answered his friend, “always so unhappy.”
“I was sleeping in the parlor when she woke me up, and now we’re marching against the wind.” Jair complains, “did you bring that pouch of wine? We’ll need it to keep warm tonight up in the caves.”
“Aye,” Carro confirms, “I’ve got it. I also got the salted fish and gull. We won’t catch another animal until this rain stops.”
“I shan’t give up on the house if I were her. Not on a day like this.”
It suddenly occurred to them how much they feel cold and hungry and miserable.
The sea continues to wash upon the shore, ever more angrily. An unfortunate gull has been caught in the tarry black fluid, tangled in the grasp of a voracious beast. Its neck is broken. Its head is attached to its body by the vellum-like skin, where all traces of bloodstains have been cleansed. White feathers are scattered in the inky waters.
The mists roll. All the other birds have fled north.
The party soon diverges from the shore and dives into the woods. But there are only a scattered few palms, which soon gave way to a windswept field of low shrubs indigenous to that island. The stems and leaves are thorny, twisting, and tightly coiled together, making traversing it a painful task. The black soggy soil underneath presents yet another obstacle. But beyond the shrubland, a low hill stands before them, where a bare granite outcrop appears dotted with ancient caves once inhabited by the old islanders. They, too, sought shelters from the rain. The caves are all empty now.
Back inside the house the candlelight is dwindling. Waxes are dripping on the heavy wooden tables. Moisture in the air threatens to nib the faint flame on its last gasp.
The mob in black are snoring loudly. Exhausted sailors are sleeping on the floor. Kane Heder is awake, inebriated. His breath reeks of alcohol, and his hand caresses Ilian Heder’s body, who before her marriage had shared Indigo Manaslu’s last name.
“Pablo is dead,” the large man mutters, “Cap Pablo who torched the mighty Viridinian fleet – the famous Wet Ghost whom we call – dead in a chicken pen in Bassas. I didn’t tell the girl that.”
His eyes meet the gaze of his wife, whose own eyes showed a glimpse of fear and exhaustion and sadness.
“I am the captain now! And I do what I want with you.” He grins a coarse laughter, proceeds to unravel his wife’s dress.
“I’m with your child in my belly!” The woman protests.
“Damn you, woman!” Frustrated, Kane curses, gulping down a mouthful of ale.
“You think Indie – she’ll come with us?” Ilian inquires.
Kane brushes away the woman’s qualms, “She must – there is nothing for her out there but us. She’s got a good name, aye, but no money, no friends, no experiences.”