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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Sci-fi · #2169327
Burtrend finds himself in a difficult situation after being rescued by a different ship.

Once you have found an important person and event, you can begin to seriously dive into memory retrieval. It is best to begin with memories that well predate the focus of your research. Quite often you will find a deeper explanation of that person's actions and how the world affected their decisions. You also will find minor events that will contribute to your research and people who strongly influenced the flow of events that had remained unmentioned in the ancient, historic documents.

Chapter 3

Faces laughed at him in the darkness. They were laughing at him, Burtrend Stinehauk. At first, he couldn't recognize them, but the fuzzy outlines of faces looming around him slowly sharpened. They became his professors, Sevron Rainier, Eligus his landlord and Captain Marcell. They were laughing at his failure. Anger welled up inside until he couldn't contain it. He tried to scream at them, tell them he hadn't failed, but his mouth felt gagged. His heart raced as he began to panic, waking him from his deep sleep. His mind began to clear, and the darkness faded with the sound of their mirth. The dream had left his heart beating strongly and his nerves rattled.

At first, he just laid there feeling the rocking motion of the ship, wondering if the storm had just been a nightmare as well. He found his eyes difficult to open. His entire body ached. His tongue and lips were swollen with the salty taste of the ocean, explaining why he felt gagged in his dream. Slowly he blinked, forcing his eyes open, and tried to focus, but all he could see was a small round window with sunlight streaming in. My tiny cabin on the Adalina doesn't have a window, Burtrend thought in a confused stupor.

Then he tried to sit up. At first, he panicked, thinking that his hands were bound when he couldn't move them. Looking down at his body, he found a blanket tucked tightly around him with his left arm in a sling. Further attempts to move caused pain to shoot up his arm to the shoulder. He tried to remember what happened during the storm, but it was no use. It hurt just to think, and his head seemed as clouded as the storm had been. He slowly forced his free hand to loosen the blankets and found that he was wearing simple, white bed robes. How odd, I don't own any white robes. Every movement in his attempt to sit up caused sharp pain to shoot through his arm. He just clenched his teeth and stubbornly continued to sit up. After a minute, he was finally sitting on the edge of the bed. The ship hit a big wave just as he had started to relax.

"Ahh!" Burtrend yelled out in pain. Unbalanced by the wave, his sore arm had slammed against the bedpost, sending sharp burning pain shooting through it. He coddled his arm, holding it close to his body as he stared at the bedpost in confusion. Suddenly, the sound of voices and scurrying feet approached his door. Burtrend was surprised, his pain suddenly forgotten as people he didn't recognize burst into the room.

"Who are you?" "Where do you hail from?" "Are you an idiot? Getting up when you're injured like that!" "What's your name?" "Are you Vitarri, or Iddean?" "How did you end up on that crate?" The pain in his head was terrible now, intensified by the men competing to get their questions answered. He really couldn't understand what they were saying, speaking so quickly in a different tongue other than Vitarri. He chose to ignore their questions, knowing it would be futile in his current state to try understanding them. It took a little while for him to be able to focus on their faces and recognize the tanned skin and dark wavy hair of Faynecian people. They stood there, dressed in the absurdly embroidered white shirts and red vests of Faynecian merchants. The only woman in the group of Faynecians bullied her way through the men.

"That's enough! Can't you see he's not in a state to answer your questions?" She silenced them. "Move back and give him space." The men obeyed and moved back. She was thin, but voluptuous, wearing a long blue duster trimmed in an outrageous red fabric with white embroidery. After giving Burtrend a drink of water, she gently forced him to lie back down. "Come now, you're in no state to be up and about." To him she spoke kindly, her voice soft and reassuring. He realized she was speaking in Iddean, the language of his mother, instead of Faynecian or Vitarri. "You need to rest. It's best if you sleep for now." She said as she gently tucked him back in. "I'll make sure they won't bother you until you're better."

"Thank you," he tried to say in Iddean, though it came garbled from his swollen lips and tongue. With a nod she stood and turned away from him. Angrily, she pushed everyone out of the room and closed the door behind her. Alone again, Burtrend listened to the sounds of their arguing fade as she pushed them down the hall. Does she truly believe that I am Iddean? She must. If she thought I was Vitarri I'm sure she would kill me instead of care for me.

His head throbbed, and his heartbeat pounded in the ongoing silence. Is it normal for ships to be this quiet? Unable to think any longer, he relaxed and emptied his mind. It didn't take long for sleep to overcome him, troubled as it was.

Silvery moonlight shined through the round porthole, greeting Burtrend when he woke. Only a dull headache hung in the back of his mind, a remnant of the earlier pain. His lips and tongue were no longer swollen. His stomach grumbled deeply. Vague memories of being woken to drink water and herbal tinctures flitted through his mind like old spider webs, but he had no memories of being fed. Remembering the group of Faynecians and the beautiful woman that cared for him brought his attention to full wakefulness. He loosened the blanket and sat up carefully. His muscles ached from having lain in bed far too long. Recalling the bedpost, he made sure not to bump his arm on it a second time. After carefully testing his arm, he found most of the stabbing pain was gone. There was only an ache in his shoulder when he tried to move it too far.

He assumed the woman had drugged him to stay asleep while she cared for him. How long have I been sleeping? Hours? Days? A week? Again, his mind wandered back to the lady with the long blue duster. He couldn't remember if her duster indicated a social or profession classification, like the red vests for merchants, or if it was just a long ladies overcoat. Why has she been caring for me?

Testing his leg strength, Burtrend stood slowly while he leaned on the bedpost. He found his legs weaker than he expected, and promptly had to sit. The sudden jar to his arm caused him to clench his teeth with pain, though it still hurt less than before. He was grateful that it was the middle of the night. Most of the sailors and merchants would be asleep and probably wouldn't hear him should he yell out in pain.

His stomach grumbled a second time. I need to find the galley and eat something. Food will help my strength return so I can get myself out of this mess. After a while, he tried to stand again, this time with more success. He was still weak from lying in bed for so long, but he knew that he had to keep trying for his strength to return. Slowly he made his way to the door, his stomach turned and grumbled so loudly he was concerned it might wake someone. The door creaked as he opened it, causing a loud snort from the sleeping guard sitting outside his room. Burtrend relaxed as the guard settled back to regular snoring. As he made his way through the ship, he realized it was larger than the Adelina, but still had the tight, cramped corridors. He wondered if this was the warship that he had seen in the distance the day of the storm. If it is, he wondered, then why are there so many merchants? As he leaned on the wall for support as he walked. Despite that, he could feel his energy quickly drain.

After a time that felt like forever, he finally found the dining hall. At the far end a light glowed through a doorway. He figured that would be the galley. He felt so weak that he was amazed he had made it. Even though he was exhausted, he refused to sit on a bench at the long tables, just in case he didn't have the resolve to stand again. As he drew closer to the door he realized voices were coming from inside the galley, not just light.

The door to the galley quickly swung open, blinding him with light from the lamp. The voices became louder and a burst of laughter suddenly died in one of the men's throat. They seemed shocked to see the tall, pale, sickly form of Burtrend standing in the center of the room. It was too late to run, even if he could.

"Quick! Grab him!" one of them yelled to the other. They grabbed hold of Burtrend and wrestled him to the floor. They quickly discovered that he wasn't resisting and relaxed their hold. Every time either of the men touched, moved, or bumped his arm it sent that shooting pain up his shoulder again.

"What should we do with him? Lock him in the brig?"

"You must be crazy. What will you do when she wakes up in the morning and she finds out he's in the brig? You want to be on her bad side?" the other man argued.

"Then what do you think we should do with him?" the first man replied.

"Let's just take him back to his quarters for now. He'll be properly questioned in the morning." They tried to walk him back to his room, but Burtrend's legs gave out from exhaustion and pain. They had to half drag, half carry him back which did not help the pain in his shoulder at all. He was grateful when the torturous journey through the corridors was over and the two men left. Not long after that he passed back into the realm of darkness.

Cold, wet shock brought Burtrend back to consciousness as water splashed over his body. People cluttered the room. A few he recognized, but most he did not. One of the men that had dragged him back to his room earlier was holding the bucket. Standing next to him was a middle-aged man wearing a fancy uniform that Burtrend guessed was the captain. The woman with the blue duster was near the door and looked worried. The rest of the men were a mixture of sailors and red vested merchants. After wiping the cold water from his face with his free hand, Burtrend slowly sat up in the bed.

"Why?" The captain spoke in clear Vitarri.

"What? What do you mean?" The words slipped from him in Vitarri. Hushed, angry whispers filled the room behind the captain. That suggested it would have been better to respond in any language other than Vitarri.

"Why were you down by the galley?" the captain asked. Burtrend opened his mouth to answer but the captain continued before he could answer. "Why were you floating out at sea? Why have the gods brought you to this ship? Why should I keep you alive? Why?" With every 'why' overly emphasized and the floppy skin around the captain's jaw flapped with every question. Burtrend found the whole thing comical and was grateful he didn't have the energy to laugh.

"Is that all?" Burtrend asked when the captain finally stopped.

"No. That was only 'why'. I still have a 'who', a 'what', and a few 'how' questions. Now answer the whys." Burtrend needed to stifled laughter again. The captain had the look of a man that wouldn't think twice about gutting him, despite the weathered and fatty face.

"Um, alright. I was down at the galley to find something to eat. I was starving. Actually, I still am." Burtrend added with a smirk. He gulped when the captain's patience visibly waned a little more. "As far as floating out at sea; I was an idiot. I went above deck while my ship was weathering a terrible storm and a wave threw me overboard. Why the gods brought me to your ship; well, I can't answer for the gods. If I could, I would be a very rich man. For the last question; I personally can't think of a single reason why you would let me live. I'm shocked you let me live this long." The captain's scowl broke into a grin.

"At least you're mostly honest." His face became serious again. "I want to know the truth of why you were in the galley."

"Sir, I was being completely honest." Burtrend sighed, "I don't know why you would believe that I was looking for trouble instead of a meal." The scowl returned to the captain's weathered face.

"Despite having the look and physique of an Iddean, you were wearing Vitarri clothes." The captain paused as if waiting for an explanation but continued when Burtrend remained silent. "There are several men that expressed concern that you were going to poison the food, find a weapon, or use the stove to start a fire. Do you have evidence against their concern?"

"I haven't eaten since the night before the storm that sent me adrift. My stomach is starting to feel like it is devouring itself." Then a thought occurred to him, "If I poisoned the food wouldn't I be condemning myself to death as well? How could I attack someone with a kitchen knife while I'm too weak to stand? Why would I destroy the ship when I have no idea what ship I'm on or where I am in the ocean. I mean, even if I managed to steal a small... dinghy, right? ...I have no idea how to navigate on the ocean. I would probably die of starvation or thirst before I would ever reach land. I enjoy living and I would like to stay that way." He could see the captain and the other men nodding thoughtfully, seriously considering his words. Emboldened, Burtrend continued, "The idea that I would destroy the ship before we ever reached port is ludicrous." The sharp point of a long dagger was suddenly tickling his neck. The expression upon the captain's face could have curdled Burtrend's blood. It was only then he realized exactly what he had said.

"Perhaps you were being honest about stealing food from my galley. But, you dare suggest you would sabotage my ship at port? You are lucky I am a lawful man." They stared silently at each other for a moment. The captain's eyes twinkled maliciously. "I will allow you a meal, of sorts." The dagger moved slightly away from his neck as the captain turned to one of his men. "Lock him in the brig." He commanded in Faynecian. It seemed that the captain had forgotten his other questions, for now. They took no time to bind him and haul him away. Even if he had the strength to resist them, he knew it would have been futile. There was nowhere for him to go, he had to wait until they were on land before he could do anything.

The brig was a cell made of iron bars and stank of the refuse of past occupants. He quickly noticed a bucket in the corner with dry feces still caked around the edges and figured it was where most of the stench was coming from. It didn't take long for a simple meal of hardtack biscuits crawling with maggots, tepid water, and pickled roots to make its way to his small cell. The unpleasant sailor that brought the meal made sure to spit on it before handing it through the bars. As unappetizing as it was, his hunger eventually got the best of him. His taste buds, unaccustomed to pickled food, found the roots rancid and bitter. He tried to pick out most of the maggots and soften the biscuit with the water, but the center still made his jaw ache to chew it. There were similar hardy foods on the Adelina, but their travel biscuits had been relatively fresh, well-seasoned with herbs, and most importantly, without maggots. He had paid well to ensure that the food on his ship was high quality and fully stocked... and now the others are enjoying it without me while I'm forced to eat this!

The cell was barely high enough for him to stand in and too narrow to lie down. With food in his stomach, he felt more like himself. He reached for the medallion of his god, Korhan, that he always kept around his neck. When he found it missing, he grew resentful. Most likely I lost it during the storm. If I was wearing it when I was rescued, they would have known I was Vitarri right away and would have killed me immediately.

Burtrend didn't know exactly how long he sat in the gloomy darkness of the hull. He was sure it had been several hours, if not the whole day, when he finally heard footsteps coming toward him. The smell of a hearty stew permeated through the stench, reminding him of how little he had eaten. Looking up, he found the woman standing beneath the lamp with a bowl in one hand, and his large bronze medallion hanging from the other.

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