A voice calling her name startles her from her thoughts as she walks through the crowded streets toward town. She raises her head and searches the crowd for the one who calls.
"Captain!", the call comes again, and this time she spots the source, a smiling woman, waving her arms in the air.
"Calla?", her whisper does not carry, but the girl reads the movement of her Captain's mouth and the amazement in her eyes and nods, beckoning.
Disbelieving her own eyes, she forges through the crowd toward the girl. Calla was one of the ones thought lost at sea...along with so many others...could it be possible she had survived the storm somehow?
She tries not to lose sight of her through the crowd, expecting her to vanish at any moment, like a wraith or illusion. Calla does not vanish, but moves through the crowd toward her Captain, meeting her in the middle with a very solid, very alive hug. Dorianne embraces her with a joyous laugh. "Calla! I thought ye were lost, darlin'..."
Calla smiles her easy smile and shakes her head. "Ain't seen a storm that could best me yet, Captain. But come. I've a surprise for you." Smiling, she leads her Captain to a nearby pub and swings the door open for her to enter first, peeking over her shoulder to watch her reaction and the reactions of those inside. Seated at a table are four women, now open mouthed and staring, save one. It is this one who stands first, a willowy blonde with distant blue eyes, a lost princess straight out of a storybook.
"Captain." her voice is like a song. "I knew we'd find you." Then everyone speaks at once, as Dorianne rushes to the table, and the table is vacated, its occupants rushing toward their Captain. There is a flurry of joyful hugging, eyes meeting, hands clasping.
When she can finally speak again, Dorianne's words are like a prayer. "Gods, it be good tae see ye lasses. We thought ye lost in' th' storm... 'ow did ye survive it?"
The story comes out in a rush as they cram all six bodies around the small table. While they speak, Dorianne looks each one over, making sure in her own mind that they are real. They had been washed overboard by waves during the recent violent storm that had hit the Sea Witch. It had been almost magical, appearing from nowhere, and departing without a trace, save the aftermath of destruction and the loss of lives. There were many who had not made it, though Calla told of trying to keep one of the lost members afloat, before she, herself, lost consciousness. In those last moments, her fingers had touched the slab of a broken barrel, and she had held it to her, even as waves crashed down on her. The others told similar stories.
Meredith, her green eyes sparkling, her brown tresses dancing excitedly about her face, had been washed over and had managed to catch a piece of one of the ruined longboats.
Zara, a beautiful girl with skin the color of milk and chocolate, her hair separated into four long braids as was her habit, and tied at the back, had also found a bit of the longboat, which she had shared with Brenna when she surfaced suddenly at her side. Brenna was a large, blonde beauty with ice blue eyes, whose voluptuous curves had helped to keep her afloat.
Gwen is the last to speak, saying only that when she woke, she was ashore. The five survivors had each managed to make their way to a nearby island, and after waiting several months, a ship had come by, and they had arranged to be taken to the mainland, there to wait for Dorianne, or to find passage to the Pirate Isles.
They all agreed, with a moment of silence, that no others of the lost ones had been found, though hope still remained. It was a miracle any of them still lived. And now, with these five returned, the Sea Witch would have enough crew to sail.
The reunion on board the Sea Witch as the five lost girls come aboard is something to see. There is much hugging and rejoicing and shouting, as old friends reunite. Dorianne watches from the sidelines, her heart light, at both the return of some of her most valuable crew, and at the prospect of getting out again to open water. She'll allow the crew one night of revelry before they go.
She watches the willowy form of Gwendolyn as she, too, walks the sidelines. She is particularly glad to have this one back, though she has always made some of the others uncomfortable. Gwen was not only a gifted healer, and blessed on occasion with The Sight, not to mention handy with a needle and thread. She was also the best damned cook Dorianne had ever had. It would be a treat to taste her cooking again, though poor Genevieve had done her best. The bubbly blonde just did not have the talent for food preparation that Gwen did.
With a joyful smile and a bounce to her step, she steps off the sidelines and joins her crew in rejoicing.
© 2001 by K. Thornberry