2013-09-04: Enchantment of the Royal Sea, Part 1

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Enchantment of the Royal Sea, Part 1 / 王国の海の魅惑 パート1

Author: unknown author Published: September 4, 2013


The waves lapped against the side of the BSV Menagerie as they made their way across the ocean, but Isaiah had eyes only for the storm front that cast shadows across their intended destination. It’d been two long months since he’d last seen Isabelle, and the ring he was twirling inside his pocket had taken most of his pay to buy…but he knew it was the perfect ring for her. It was everything he’d ever wanted to give her and knew she’d love it. The only problem was the look of the storm ahead…if it was as bad as it seemed, it could delay them from being able to use the pillar. “Waterspout to starboard! Hard to port, lads, and work them sails!” Isaiah’s voice rang strong out from the bow where he stood, and he turned to see the other crew swiftly moving into action to put them in a safe path.

Their journey towards the pillar was filled with strange sights…sea life seeming to be fleeing away from it, and the weather getting increasingly worse…darkening the afternoon skies to the dimly lit air of dusk in but a moment, and causing the once gentle swells to slam against the boat. “We’re almost there, boys, don’t slack now!”

“Isaiah, we’re not going to make it past that typhoon a-brewing! We have to call this off, and try to make for shore!” The captain’s voice had a pleading quality instead of an ordering one…being one of the few who knew Isaiah’s reason for wanting to get back so desperately.

“We can make it, Captain!” His reply was ripped away by the wind though as the storm suddenly surged to new heights. All the crew clung to whatever was closest to try and hang on, when a tremendous tearing and shredding noise ripped through the air, raising the hackles on their necks. An instant later the worst of the storm was gone…the typhoons had vanished…but the rain still pounded down and the waves crashed against their ship. As Isaiah worked to clear his vision and tried to catch sight of the Serpent Pillar again something caught his eye with a shock.

Ahead and to port was a vessel similar to many he’d seen before, though a few of the adornments were new to him; but that wasn’t what caught his attention…instead a splash of blood on the deck and the massive hole in the hull that was sucking in water did that. A moment later, however, it was seized by the sight of the dead body on the deck, and the realization that there may still be someone else inside.

There was no hesitation on Isaiah’s part, and he leapt to the edge of the decking, and dove towards the other boat. Pumping his arms through the water, he had a vague thought for the safety of the ring in his pocket, and quickly thrust his hand inside and grabbed it…slipping it onto one finger as far as it would go, and clenching the hand into a fist to protect it. He thought he heard voices shouting for him from the Menagerie, but he shoved them aside and focused on the task at hand as he came alongside the unknown ship.

With effort he managed to get onto the ship during a large swell, but it was already listing heavily…it would only be a matter of minutes before it threatened to sink beneath the ocean. He spared a glance to the bloodied body being pressed against the deckwall and shuddered as it looked as if it was not incidental damage, but some sort of blunt weapon used against it. He made his way to the cabin and swept the door open, to find yet another body…no, two more inside. They looked as if they had somehow been slammed against the walls and possibly even ceiling repeatedly, leaving it smeared with their blood. Blanching, he managed to close the door and prevent himself from retching with effort. With only one place left to check, he ran for the hold, even as the entire vessel tilted treacherously beneath his feet.

It took a massive effort to get the door to the hold open, and his eyes boggled at the sight…inside was an absolute horde of crates and treasures, but amidst it was one man, and though he had blood on him…he appeared to be breathing as he floated on his back in the shallow water starting to fill the hold. He began to head down into the hold when the entire vessel lurched in a sickening manner, and started to tip on end.

In a panic, Isaiah quickly reached for the man, extending his one hand down and grabbing for him desperately, but unable to haul him up with a single hand. Isaiah quickly grabbed him with both hands, the ship turning as he dragged him out. His own vessels crew was fighting to keep their ship from being swamped…and a cheer went up as they saw him emerging from the doomed vessel.

Gripping tightly, he hefted the unconscious and bloodied passenger of the ill-fated ship, pausing only at feeling a strange sensation along his finger…before realizing too late that it was the ring meant for Isabelle sliding off. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as he watched the glittering emerald ring drop through the air, to be missed by his attempt to snatch it, as it dropped into the sinking ships hold. For what felt like an eternity he held his gaze upon it, for a moment even considering dropping the unconscious man…but the Isaiah that Isabelle fell in love with wasn’t that kind of man. With a bitter fist seeming to hold tight to his heart, he scrambled across the ship into the water, carrying the one living passenger up to their own boat, and trying not to think about the loss of the ring.

“Who do ya suppose it is, Isaiah?”

Isaiah had hardly said a word since he’d returned and the BSV Menagerie had docked in Papua. As the healers looked over the unconscious man, Isaiah found himself staring at the strange clothes…trying to figure out the fabric. He’d never seen it’s like before, and the color was a new one as well… “Probably some sort of noble or merchant…hopefully we’ll get a reward for saving them. But let’s find out…there’s only one place it could have come from.”

Standing up, Isaiah headed onto the docks and shouted, “You there, Lad! Lad…how many ships left by way of the Serpent’s Pillar this eve?”

“Err…none, mate. There ain’t been a ship that wanted to brave the storm…frankly surprised yer all came out here as well.”

Japanese version

波は海上を突き進むBSVメナジェリー号の側面に打ち寄せていたが、イザヤ(Isaiah)の目は、行く手に影を落とす前方の嵐に向けられていた。最後にイザベル(Isabelle)に会ってからもう2か月になる。ポケットの中でもてあそんでいる指輪を買うために、彼は賃金の大半をつぎこんだ…だが、この指輪こそ彼女にふさわしいと彼には分っていた。どうしても彼女に渡したかったし、喜んでもらえることもわかっていた。唯一の問題は、前方の嵐の様相だ…見た目通りの酷さならば、あのピラーを使えるのは予定より遅くなってしまうかもしれない。「右舷に竜巻!取り舵いっぱい、帆を張れ!」イザヤの声が、彼が立つ舳先から響き渡った。そしてイザヤは振り返り、安全な方向に船を向けるため、他の乗員たちがきびきびと働く姿を見ていた。

ピラーに向けての航海は、不思議なことばかりだった…海の生物たちはどこかに逃げ去ったかのように姿をみせず、天候は信じられないほど悪化した…午後の空は一瞬にして薄暗くなり、穏やかだった波は平手打ちの如く船体を叩きはじめたのだ。「もうすぐだ、モタモタするな!」

「イザヤ、この台風では無理だ!予定を変更して海岸に向かおう!」早く戻りたいというイザヤの熱烈な願いの理由を知る数少ない人物である船長は、命令口調ではなく、懇願するような声で言った。

「大丈夫です、船長!」しかし、彼の返答は一段と激しくなった嵐の強風にかき消された。乗員たちは皆手近な物にしがみついていたが、凄まじい崩壊と破壊の音に、心底恐怖を感じた。その直後、ひどい嵐は去った…台風は消えたのだ…だが雨は依然として降りしきり、波も船に打ちつけていた。再び目を戻してサーペントピラーを探していたイザヤは、ある光景に気付いて愕然とした。

左舷前方に船。ありふれた感じの船だが、見たことのない装飾が施されている。だが、彼の注意を引いたのは装飾ではなかった…甲板には血が飛び散り、船体に大きな穴が開いて浸水しているのだ。甲板上の死体を見てすぐに彼は気付いた。まだ中に誰かいるかもしれない。

イザヤはためらわなかった。甲板の縁に走り寄り、海に飛び込むとあの船に向かって泳ぎ始めた。水をかき分けていると、ポケットの指輪は無事だろうか、という考えがぼんやりと頭に浮かび、イザヤはすぐに手を差し入れて指輪に触れ…はめられる限り深く指にはめてから、手を握り締めて指輪を守った。メナジェリー号から大声で何か言われた気がしたが、そんなことには構わず、到達した未知の船での目下の作業に集中した。

大きなうねりに船は揺られていて苦労したが、なんとか乗り込むことができた。しかし、船体は既に大きく傾いており…沈没まであと数分といったところだろう。甲板の壁際で押しつぶされた血まみれの死体から目をそらしつつ、その壁の傷が偶然の産物ではなく、ある種の砲弾跡のように思えてイザヤは身震いした。キャビンに向かい、ドアを開け放つと、もう1体の…いや、2体の死体が目に入った。この血まみれの2人は、まるで何度も壁に、あるいは天井にさえも、激突したかのようだ。後ずさりしてドアを閉め、こみあげてくる吐き気を必死にこらえた。確認する場所はあと一か所ある。船体全体がぐらぐらと揺れる中、イザヤは船倉に向けて走った。

船倉の扉を開くのは、ひどく骨の折れる作業だった。内部の光景に彼は茫然とした…大量の木箱と宝と共に1人の男が倒れており、血に濡れてはいたが息をしているようだった。船倉内に水がどんどん流れ込み、男の体は仰向けで漂いはじめた。嫌な感じで船体が急激に傾く中、イザヤは船倉に飛び込んだ。

パニックに陥ったイザヤは、急いで片手を伸ばして必死に男をつかもうとしたが、片手では到底無理な話だ。すぐさま両手を伸ばして男を引きずり出す。途端に船は回転を始めた。イザヤが乗っていた船の乗組員たちは自分たちの船が浸水しないように必死に戦っていたが、この悲惨な船からイザヤが出てきたのを見て彼らの顔に笑みが広がった。

血まみれで意識を失っているこの不運な船の乗客をしっかりと抱えたイザヤは、指先の不慣れな感触に一瞬動きを止めたが…時すでに遅し。イザベルへの指輪は彼の指からするりと抜け落ちていった。キラキラときらめきながら落ちていくエメラルドの指輪、とっさ に伸ばされたがむなしく空をつかんだイザヤの手、指輪を飲み込み沈みゆく船倉…まるで時の流れが遅くなったかのように感じられた。永遠にも思われたその一瞬、イザヤは意識不明の男を放り出すことさえ考えた…しかし、イザベルが愛したイザヤはそんな男ではない。苦い思いを抱いて拳を握りしめ、彼は船を横切って水の中を進み、生存者を自分の船に運びこんだ。失った指輪のことは考えないようにしながら。

「イザヤ、こいつは何者かな?」

戻ってからのイザヤはほとんど口をきいていない。BSVメナジェリー号はパプアの港に到着していた。ヒーラーたちが意識不明の男の容体を詳しく調べている間、イザヤは男の奇妙な服装を観察した。こんな服は見たことがないし、初めて見る色だ…。「多分、どこかの貴族か商人じゃないかな…助けた礼でも貰えるかもな。ちょっと調べてみよう…必ずあの場所を通ったはずだ」立ち上がったイザヤは港に行って大声で叫んだ。「おい、キミ、そう、そこのキミ。今夜サーペントピラーを通って出て行ったのは何隻だい?」

「いや、いませんよ。あんな嵐に突っ込む物好きなんて。むしろ、あんたらが来たことの方が驚きですよ」

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