118 A Trip to the Crow“s Nest*
"I...are you sure?" asked Ebony.
Midas raised an eyebrow, "I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't sure".
"Maybe one of us can-"
Midas frowned at Rassa, "I chose him because he's small, it's better to have that quality when you're up there".
He turned to face an approaching sailor who was much shorter than himself and pointed to Ebony.
"This here is Eb, train him for the day. Sit with him for the morning then take the afternoon off before you take the night watch. He'll do day and you'll do nights," Midas instructed.
"Aye, sir," the man nodded without complaint, turning to face Ebony. Taking in the younger man's pale face, the man grinned, "Scared of heights, right?"
With no where to run or hide, Ebony could only nod.
"You'll get over it," the sailor said, "Name's Isaac".
Ebony could only nod again, her fear silencing her as she watched Midas take Aegin and Rassa away to another part of the ship.
"Eb, right, strange name," Isaac commented as Ebony looked up at the mast. It towered above her, at least 3 stories above the deck. They wanted her to sit up there all day? Sh was seriously beginning to regret this whole agreement. Maybe she should tell them she was a girl so they'd let her off?
The voice of the sailor cut through Ebony's thoughts as she refocused her gaze on him, gulping visibly, "S-sorry".
Dear gods, did she just stutter? Ebony closed her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself. While it didn't have a big effect, it was at least mildly helpful.
"It's okay, plenty of newbies feel daunted by the height of the masts and the nature of the rigging, as long as you work hard, I won't complain about you," Isaac grinned, "Now, how are you with climbing?"
Ebony shrugged, "Okay, I guess".
"We'll work on that first, by the time we get to Rouke you'll be scaling it like a spider-monkey!" Isaac proclaimed, then paused, looking at the terrified look on Ebony's face, "Okay, you're right, to get that good in just four days is a tad optimistic. Have you got something to keep you occupied up there?"
Ebony frowned, "Isn't the idea to watch for anything that could threaten the ship?"
Isaac smirked, "Sure, but that can get boring doing it for hours on end". He pulled out a dagger and a peice of what appeared to be driftwood, "I personally like to wittle, if you've got something small you can do, I'd go and get it quick considering you'll be up there most of the day".
The first thing Ebony thought of was embriodery, but something in the back of her mind told her that on a ship full of mem, doing it was a risk. Still, she wasn't particularly eager to have her hands full of splinters, she ducked below deck to retrieve a peice of plain cloth, some thread and a needle, then returned to where Isaac waited by a large, triangular shaped net of thick rope that ran from the port side of the ship to the yardarm of the lower sail on the main mast.
"Alright, up we go, Captain just about ready to set off," Isaac said, "You go first, I'll be right below you if something happens, just put one foot above the other and you'll be there before you know it".
"Prepare to hoist anchor!" Midas called from the Quarter Deck to the rear of the ship.
"Come on," Isaac hurried her, "Up the ratlines".
He was pointing the triangular shaped netting so Ebony could only swallow her fear and hoist herself up, the lines only wobbling slightly due to their tautness.
"That's it," Isaac encouraged, climbing up behind her as Ebony swallowed and looked up, putting one foot in front of the other as instructed.
It wasn't long before she arrived at the interection of the lower yardarm and the mainmast, a platform was there, though it was very small, just with her an Isaac standing on it it was daunting as the wind breezed past off of the bay.
Isaac grinned, "See, you did great, now grab the pegs and keep going".
He indicated to the thick metal nails that jutted out of the mast. They were only jutting out about thirty centimetres and looked barely stable enough to hold her. Was that all she had to hold on to going up? She looked at Isaac disbelievingly.
"Go on," Isaac encouraged, "The longer you stand here the longer you hold everyone else up. Captain won't leave until someone's in the nest".
Ebony's eyes widened, her eyes immediately diverting to the crew below, some watched her with amusement as they worked. Others with annoyance. Midas and Captain Token were among them, waiting for her from their vantage point on the Quarter Deck.
Ebony took a deep breath, then grabbed one of the pegs, pulling herself up. There was an art to climbing up a single line of pegs. It took her some time to figure it out, with Isaac's careful instruction of course. He was a good teacher, always calm despite Ebony's will battling with her. Her being screamed at her to descend back to earth, or at least the deck of the ship. And worse...the swaying was so much worse the higher she climbed. It seemed Ebony had not even been on the ship for half an hour, and despite not moving, had decided that sailing was not for her. Next time she was given a choice, she would discourage the act of sailing at all costs.
Finally, after coming close to falling to her death several times, Ebony climbed her way into the crow's nest which was just big enough for her and Isaac to sit tightly. Issac grinned at her.
"See, not to bad, you made it," Isaac said.
Ebony didn't even attempt to smile as she held onto the wooden railing that circled around them.
"Right, let's start learning then, be ready for the jolts," Isaac said.
"What jolts?" asked Ebony.
"Hoist the anchor!" the call sounded distant, but the cogging of the large metal chain pulling the anchor from the bottom of the bay was not to be mistake. And with each cog there was a vibration through the ship. Minor, no doubt barely felt on the deck. But up in the nest? Ebony was honestly shocked at how comfortable Isaac seemed.
It only took a minute to pull up the anchor, and immediately a call followed it to unfurl to half-sail.
Ebony risked a glance over the side, and immediately ducked her head back to avoid looking down, turning to Isaac who smiled.
"The bigger jolt is when you get to full-sail," Isaac said, "Captain only wants half-sail in the bay because going too fast could endanger those on board".
"Endanger..." Ebony trailed off. Just how fast could the ship go if it was dangerous to go fast?
There was a sound that reflected the flapping of canvas, and suddenly the ship pulled forward, slowly at first, but gradually building speed as it turned in a wide circle and headed for the mouth of the bay.
Isaac stood in a relaxed state as his eyes pierced the path ahead.
They approached smoothly as the sun rose in the east. Suddenly, Isaac grinned as he pulled Ebony up. She moved reluctantly as she followed his finger to see where he was pointing.
There, near the mouth of the bay, was a large group of whales, their figures periodicly breeching the water.
"Whales to Starboard!" called Isaac.
The ship pulled slightly to port to give the whales a decent amount of room, but they were still close enough to be able to throw something at them and not miss. As Ebony watched the whales, she couldn't help but think that maybe, to be able to see such massive and majestic creatures meant that being so high up wasn't so bad after all.
The ship jolted forward with a new burst of speed and Ebony clutched the side of the nest tight enough for her knuckles to turn white.
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