In a flailing of arms and a loud and painful splash, Brannir, had fallen into the water. His ship had been rammed by a Theocracy war barge. As a rigger, he had been up in the sails, trying to shift them to turn the clumsy Coghlandish vessel from its course to avoid that occurrence. Obviously, they had failed. It had been a tight race, their ship was outmatched by the barge, but as they had started the inevitable struggle to try to outsail the oar-driven vessel of the Theocracy, a sleek black elven trimaran had heaved over the horizon, making great speed for the two ships. At that point, they had still been dueling for position. Nothing on the water was faster than trimarans, they had very shallow draft, and their pontoons, that they ran upon were shaped cunningly, to cut through the water like knife blades. However, the elven captain must have missed his mark to cut across the two ships' bows and had instead rammed his incredibly fast vessel into the barge. Else the catapult-hurled fire buckets from the barge had managed to actually hit the helm of the elven ship, which Brannir though more likely.
If that was so, the Theocracy's captain's celebration had been short-lived, for the elven ship had inflicted grievous damage to the barge, rending its hull deeply, but at the same time, driving the ship into the 'Raging Dragon, ' Brannir's vessel. Upon the impact, the Coghlander had been knocked from the rigging, and plummeted into the water. The three ships, now locked together were still being pushed along by the winds that blew northward. However, Brannir was being pushed southward by the prevailing currents in the waters. He was growing cold quickly, though, this water came from north of Coghland, itself, and was frigid with the arctic's chill upon it.
There was a deal of flotsam on the water, debris from the collisions. Chunks of oar, and even a pair of bodies of men, clad in black leather, with their heads sewn into black masks that covered all but their mouths and nostrils. Theocracy slaves, probably oarsmen for the massive banks of oars that drove that behemoth through the waters. As he searched for some floating thing large enough to get himself mostly out of the water upon, he came across another body floating. He swam to it and turned it over. It was a woman, an elven woman. Her skin was dark, though, not like the elves he had seen in the Windy Isles, back when he was a bodyguard for a Ghantian merchant. It was the color of burnished oak, a rich brown with golden sheen. As he looked at her, her eyes snapped opened, revealing a color of gray so light, they looked all white. She coughed water, and sputtering turned her eyes upon him. Her face twisted to a grimace of terror, and she began to yell in some unintelligible tongue. The next thing Brannir knew, he was almost thirty feet from her and decelerating, skipping over the water as it he were a stone hurled by a giant to skip upon his vast pond.
He splashed to a stop, bobbing in the water, and the elf woman was regarding him warily. She seemed to blink a few times, then her expression changed subtly, she did not seem upset any longer, but a look of deep worry remained. She turned toward the ships, receding quickly from the two of them. She shouted something again, bringing a hand out of the water and smashing it back down in frustration. Brannir knew a curse when he heard it, no matter the language.
She looked around herself, a slight expression of desperation in her features now. And then she started chanting, or singing. As he watch, she started to lift from the water, her body floating upward smoothly, as if being hoisted by invisible hands. She kept rising until her feet were clear of the blue-green waves. Then she looked at him again, and he felt himself being lifted as well, it felt to him like his whole body was being touched at once, and embraced by air. He was now also floating above the water. Only the highest crests of the waves beneath their feet reached their sodden shoes.
He was relieved to be free of the chilling water, though, as it would have surely killed even a large figure, such as himself, in fairly short order. As he bobbed over the water, he felt himself moving, he was drifting toward the elf, like a dandelion seed on the wind. She was scantily clad, wearing only a loincloth, bound to her with a metallic-looking belt, and a very small tunic, that only covered her shoulders to just under her breasts. The loincloth was very narrow, and barely served to conceal her pubic mound, but he was little worried for ogling at the moment. Her face was a mask of concern, her very sharp features seemed rapt in concentration. He heard splashing and looked down to see boards and planks moving toward them in the water, and coming together under their feet.
"You will need to bind them together, Coghlander." She said. She was speaking Coghlandish, though it was accented with rich and musical tones. It was lovely, but very eerie. Brannir nodded and then fell into the water, as the unseen forces holding him aloft let him loose. He pulled his short knife from its scabbard, and began to cut the legs from his pants, a dicey endeavor when in the water, but he managed, as he was a good swimmer, and he was also again desperate to get out of the chilling ocean.
He had good, nimble hands, used to working knots in cold air. The water complicated his efforts, but he managed to have the board lashed together in just a few short minutes. The resulting raft was tiny, but he thought it would hold them both afloat. He looked up and she smiled slightly, revealing perfect, but mahogany brown teeth, then her eyes closed and she collapsed into the water.
With panicked strokes, he managed to swim to her and drag her back to the raft, and heaved her onto it. She was not petite like the elves he had seen in the Windy Isles, and he guessed she was his own height, or just shy of it. He feared at first she was dead, but she breathed as he slid her onto the rough wooden boards. He pulled himself onto the raft, and looked for their ships. He saw them, now two or more miles north, and still moving away. Smoke billowed from one or more of them, and there were sounds like distant thunder coming from the north, explosions that were surely mighty up close.
The raft was not very secure, and flexed in the water. He moved about it and tightened the knots he had used to bind the boards and checked them again. It seemed a bit more stable now, and felt as if it would hold a while. As he finished and sat upon the planks, he looked at the elven woman again.
She was pretty, he supposed, but very alien to his eyes. Her deep golden-brown skin was very smooth, and showed no hair. Her eyes slanted down from the outside slightly, reminding him a little of the women he had seen with Ghantian merchants from Niliwan. Her hair was maybe the most interesting feature, though. It seemed to have two totally separate colors. Black beneath and copper-hued on the top. The black hair was cut slightly longer, and formed a stripe around her head, about a hand wide. The copper hair rested over this like a cap. Both edges were cut perfectly evenly and straight, the black stripe terminating just above her shoulders. There were two long plaits in her hair, threaded intricately and subtly with strands of both black and copper interwoven, these were almost two feet long, and had shiny beads set into them, forming another pattern in the beads. She had no other ornamentation, however, no jewelry nor badges.
He himself wore a pair of canvas trousers, as was common for sailors of his folk, and a linen shirt. He had high, heavy boots of brown leather on, and a belt matching them. He was a broad shouldered man, rather typical of the large Coghlanders. And he was tall, even among his own kind, standing almost six feet and six inches. He was not as burly as some of the warriors of his kind, but he possessed muscles hardened by constant work on the seas, and was a strong man. His own hair was a yellow blonde, and he wore a neatly trimmed beard and mustache of the same color, but slightly darker.
As he watched the elf lie there, he found that he liked her appearance more and more. She was exotic, to be certain, but she was definitely female, and had a very nice and muscular body. She was well curved of hip and had, again unlike her western cousins, ample breasts. The main reason he knew she was elvenborn, rather than a type of human, was her ears, he could see their delicate points through her fine hair.
He shook his head, and finally stopped staring at the elven woman. He looked about them, hoping to espy land. There was none in sight, and the ships, still billowing smoke, were beginning to sink into the waters, moving over the horizon. As he watched them he heard her speak.
"Thank you for removing me from the water, Coghlander." She said.
He turned to look at her. She was sitting up, and regarding him with those nearly-white eyes. Then she, too, looked toward the receding ships, and her face fell. She now looked very worried, and very afraid.
"I'm sorry, they moved away too fast." He said, looking rather crestfallen himself. "Unless you can magic us to them?"
She shook her head slowly, and looked at him again. "I cannot." She said, with a sound akin to resignation in her voice. He noticed her mouth did not move along with her words. She was not speaking his language, he realized, but was using magics again. This time to make herself understood by him.
"You must be a powerful magician." Brannir said, looking at her with awe in his gray eyes. "Your abilities are impressive."
She smiled at that. "Were that they were more useful in our plight, however." She said.
Brannir nodded at that. "Aye." He said. "Would that."
.... There is more of this story ...