There was a chill in the air when I came out from below and onto the deck of the Warwick Beacon. I stood at the mast alone for a long time and watched soft white mist swirl on the surface of the water. It’s easy to lose track of time on a long voyage, so it’s hard to say how long I stood there before hearing the sound of footsteps approaching on the old wooden deck.
“You look well this morning, Alexa.”
It was Roland, arriving from the bridge to bring me my morning cup of tea. He was always up first – before Yipes or I could imagine raising so much as an eye-brow – and there was always hot tea to be had from the captain of the Warwick Beacon. It was one of his very few but frequent indulgences. The tea steamed in the morning light, and we stood at the rail, no land in sight, the sails catching a lazy breeze. The cup was warm in my hand, a comfort against the cold beginning of a new day on the Lonely Sea.
“Where are we going…and when will we get there?”
I had asked both of these questions many times before, and I’d always received a nod and a wink but no answer. It had become our morning routine. Roland had long seemed unable or unwilling to share the answers with me, and in this way the day seemed to begin like all the others. Only there was something different his time.
The questions I’d asked hung in the air. He didn’t nod or wink or speak, and this made me wonder if the time had come for him to tell me where we were going and when we would arrive.
“We’ve been out here a long while, haven’t we, Alexa?” he began.
“We have,” I answered.
“And every morning you ask me the same two questions and get the same response.”
I nodded and winked, bringing a smile to my old friend’s face.
“I’m all out of nods and winks,” said Roland, sipping at his tea. “When Yipes awakens, come find me at the wheel. I’ll tell you where we’re going. Though you should be warned – it’s not a quick or simple thing to share. It will take some time to tell the whole truth.”
I handed my teacup back to Roland and raced across the deck to the door leading below. As soon as I threw it open, I began yelling for Yipes and bounding down the steps in search of his tiny hammock. The light from the open door poured into the darkened cabin, but Yipes didn’t notice. This didn’t surprise me – I had long been certain that if we found ourselves under attack by a loud and angry monster, Yipes would sleep through the entire affair.
“Yipes! Wake up! Roland is going to tell us where we’re going!”