1

A cleansing breeze blew throughout the harbor, storys of ambitions playing on the bends and folds of it's determined, almost angry path. The flags of ships a plenty played within it's torrents. The air was vicious today, brushing across the faces of new travelors and veteran captains alike, although no one could sense the resentment within it's cool breath. The oceans were restless, avid to get a few new ships upon it's surface, and even below.

Ships do not have hearts, as ships do not have minds. Never has a vessel gone down with ill intent, as some passengers will claim, matter-of-factly. The type of thing one could come across only in a newspaper, or within one's own mind, stories of seeing an evil gleam in the ship's tarnish... It's silly to believe that perhaps a ship had it out for you, that a ship was evil, possessed. In the creaking of the boat people might here cackles of laughter, or plans of doom. Lies, for sure. The captain put down the paper he was reading, shaking his head slowly at the headlines.

Captain Jonathan S. Levine watched the masses on the docks, becoming all too familiar with their frantic movements, the people desperate to find the correct vessels to take them away. He studied their expressions, seeing the same confused expressions upon their faces, all reading the obvious, such as "Where is my luggage?", or "When does my ship board?" Jonathon, however, knew that these looks of confusion were only masks, and that deeper within the person less frivolous questions would arise, such as "Will my wife and children survive while I am gone?" or "Will I ever see my family again?" These questions would nag them for days, weeks, eating away at their confidence in the ocean, the ability of wood to float upon water, where as the questions of luggage and time would soon disperse.

To these people, Jonathan knew, the ocean was an undiscovered wonder, something that they did not understand. Since man-kind has realized that everything they do not understand must be beastly, it is not foam that these people see turning idly about the waves, but an evil presence. A brute element planning to take them into its depths, capturing their souls within its monstrous body, forever. These people don't see astounding creatures and vibrant plants when they look beneath the surface, they see the faces of drowned men, women and children, already caught in the trap, staring back at them.

Jonathan understood these people, he had been a captain for over twenty years. He had experienced storms, waves and passengers. Many a night he had strode the corridors in the Accommodations Wing of the ship and heard weeping, and many a time had he experienced the sound of a grown men crying out when a good sized wave lapped against the boat, sending it a tad jerky. The knowledge of ships already resting on the ocean floor and the ghosts of the drowned, who are eerily wearied from a hopeless struggle to survive, haunt the livings conscience. The dead imprint their water logged moans and sobs into the minds of those still breathing, who do so freely without an aquatic barrier between their breath and their lungs. Perhaps the existing believe that the dead resent them.

In the end, however, Jonathan would still be stuck with a group of jittery travelers, not one of his most favorite positions. He was not a counselor. Usually he just liked to be with himself, his ship, his material cargo, and his crew. No particular order, ofcourse. Worse yet, his struggle will not even earn him a tidy sum. That's part of servicing the poorer docks. The fancier harbour was farther north, away from the smog that drifted with the southern winds.

That is particularly the reason why the sight of a generally nice carriage surprised him, even triggering a bushy eyebrow to arch.

2

"I cannot," Semara stated, her eyes averted forward, avoiding her father who stood outside the carriage in front of the open door, his hand outstretched to help her out. Her eyes reflected her mood, empty and terrified.
"Come now, dear. Do not be difficult. It is set to be, and it will be. Once you arrive, you will be in love. Your father and I have seen the house, it's quite charming," her step-mother said, her words layered with some type of falsely kind covering, like paste, stringing together the lady like words into a necklace of horrors. It made Semara sick, a girl of only eighteen, to think that her fiancé was to be a man in his late twentys whom had been known as a womanizer his whole adult life, and also whom she didn't know, not to mention love. The feeling of porcelain chards in her lungs to think that her father might believe the rubbish his new wife fed him, as she tried to convince him that his only daughter was worried about the amount money in her fiancé's pocket while she was being shipped off to a foreign country to marry a man she had met only once.

Semara had tried not to be selfish. She wanted to help her family, but not this way. Surely there was something else to be done...

In the months before that moment on the docks, Semara Jemythis Carsole had been a ghost. She had laughed, flirted, and attended balls, but nevertheless, she was a restless spirit. No emotions could affect her physically, so she gave no one any signs of the feelings that ate away at her stomach. It was as if someone had taken a corset to her mind, tightening it until all that was instilled into her head were proper manners and thoughts only of being a housewife one day, wearing elegant dresses while ordering around the maids that would litter her perfectly perfect homestead. Porcelain, silk, marble, jewels, gossip, ribbons...

Semara Jemythis Carsole's family had finally stepped into the realm of debts, a word feared by the high class of the region. So many greats had fallen at the hands of debt, so many, so quickly, so mercilessly. The whole thing had began as an agreement, also known as a misunderstanding, to consider a suitor for marriage. Antony Bassonio had had an eye on Semara since she was young, just coming into her teanage years. He had been visiting the family on buisness with his father, a very wealthy factory owner, when they first met, she 10, he 20 years of age.

After the family's value fell, Antony saw it a perfect opportunity to swoop in and rescue them, through the marriage of the only daughter of the house. Somewhere in the mix, Semara's stepmother had convinced her father to promise the young girls hand in marriage. Men were in charge anyway, weren't they?

A feeling of betrayal rippled through the girl when she found out their clandestine plans. She argued, she debated, but in the end, gave in. Her stepmother had burried the thought into the young girl's veins; if she didn't marry off, the family was doomed.

"Please, please pa. Don't do this to me," the rims of her eyes began to glisten. She wasn't ready for such burden. She saw this her last chance to escape, and by golly, she would take it greedily.

"Exit the carriage, Semara. Your life has been set. You've had time to wrap your mind around that, but now's the time..." The step-mother battered Semara as a flag is battered in a storm, toying with the girls feelings about family and love, twisting them to her use. "Stop being selfish. People don't marry out of love in your class," she said, sending a crude gesture, by the jerk of her head, in the direction of her husband. Semara just watched her. The tears have dissapeared, and the emptyness replaced with anger.

"It's a pity, father. It's a pity when a once strong man falls into the shadows." She said, her voice straight, aiming directly at his heart. She knew this would hurt him. She wanted it too. He had hurt her, making her feel unwanted, used. The girl was almost sorry for her poor, corrupted father. Semara had always known that he had been so utterly in love with her mother, he had fallen for her over and over again. Her passing was like a knife taken to the strings holding together his soul, and who better to reconstruct it than a controlling, imperious woman such as Nylassa Calsir Nemonous? No one, in Semara's father's eyes.

So it was to be, a wedding between Nylassa, the re-modeler, and Andrew Garneto Carsole, the broken. Only, Nylassa's presence didn't seem to help Andrew, it only put more pressure upon the disembodied pieces of his heart, crushing them into finer grains of lost love, beneath a pestle of tyranny. He was more of a wreck after the wedding than he was before.

"Oh, quiet down, girl, you are ungrateful. Your father has worked hard to keep us happy. You are only a twit without any conscience. Do not push that burden upon us, Semara Carsole, having no conscience. It's not our fault that you have no heart, perhaps it's your mothers fault, for bearing you too early," said Nylassa, sharply. The woman had her husband wrapped around her little finger, and there was nothing anyone could do. Semara looked at her father, his reaction to what the woman had said about his poor dead wife the only way he could earn Semara's respect again. He continued to stand modestly, looking at the ground. Semara's mouth dropped.

"Fine," she snapped, "I don't care anymore. Let them take me away. At least it will get me away from here. If I am lucky, the ship will sink, and I would rather be on the ocean floor that here with you, or there with him," Usually, when Semara was angry, she would ramble on and on, creating things to be more dramatic than they time, however, Semara could find words no more, the anger had bubbeled them away, out the window like steam from a teapot.

Upon finishing the sentence, she hoisted herself out of the carriage, ignoring her father's readily waiting arm to escort her out. She just about tripped on her skirts as she missed the stairs, but was thankful that she did not, for that would have been the end of her anger, and the beginning or monstrous shame, and self annoyance. Tripping also took a few points off of her argument, for a comical tumble does not make someone look dignified.

The girl marched over to where her luggage readily waited, signaling an idle dock worker to carry the rest of the luggage onto the ship.
"Wh'ech ship'll it be, miss?" the young man asked, with a thick, eastern accent, as he looked her over, puzzled as to what a one of wealth was doing on the docks designed for the poor. Here, Semara was also puzzled. Reluctantly, she looked at her father. He still stood near the door, but had turned to look at her, after being surprised by her outburst. His hands hung at his sides, his arms heavy with shame and guilt.
"The Twilight Rider, it is called The Twilight Rider." He said, his voice empty, and directed towards the ground.

3

"Off to Derdune, I shall be,
to make me fortune, by the sea!
Oh, a welder man, I shall be,
living by the sea!

Pretty ones will flock, to me,
to taste my gold and fine pastry!
Oh how wealthy, I will be,
as a welder by the sea!"

The other men laughed relentlessly at the silly brute dancing on a table, a ticket in his hand.

"Did you come up with that one yourself, lad?" One man called, taunting in his voice. The others roared. The dancing boy was quite strange, with curly dark hair that fell to just above his ears, and striking blue eyes. He was handsome, with dark skin and straight teeth, the seemingly only flaw upon him was his slightly crooked nose. He wore a loose, somewhat clean white shirt, a green vest, and matching grean trousers. He was obviously poor, and those were obviously his nicest clothing. First trip away from mommy, the other men thought, his first taste of real beer, perhaps, also, they added, seeing the somewhat large glass mug he swung around dangerously.

"I did. Just now," the boy answered, with a large grin. "Would you like to hear another one?"

A strew of 'Nooooo!'s came from the rest of the men, still laughing, and clinking together their beer mugs for frivolous reasons.

"You sell yourself a fool, boy!," One man called. A scar ran down his face from the corner of his eye to the corner of his mouth, and he grinned up at the boy with a ragged smile, a questioning look in his eyes. This gave the boy an uneasy feeling, for one reason or another. He was sure that this man was a sailor, and the thought of scars obtained upon a ship made him queasy. He really hated the ocean, and boats... but this was his only chance to escape.

"And I do believe that I have every right to be, dear sir," his voice was mocking of a rich woman, high and matter-of-fact, as he fanned himself with a strip of paper, his eyelashes fluttering. He swung his hips dangerously, almost saying off the table. "I've obtained a ticket out of this place, and I won't be seeing any of you motley sea monkeys again!" He cried, his voice increasingly returning to normal, until he almost squeaked with effort on the last word. The clock in the tavern struck 10:00 am, and the boy looked around, alarmed. "And that, fellas, is my cue to leave." He blew them a kiss, very much like ones you might recieve from the nightwalkers trying to obtain attention. The men roared again, clearly most of them drunks.

The ticket-holder swung from his position on the table to the floor, grasping a pipe that ran on the ceiling. He strode to the bar, slapped down his mug, then moved out of the tavern, eager to board his ship of dreams.

4

Semara stood alone, feeling the breath of the harbour upon her fair skin. Staring mindlessly into the black water that stretched out before her, she let her soul sink to the bottom. Her back was turned to the docks, having faced that direction since she reluctantly boarded the ship. She purposefully meant not to face where the carriage stood, or had stood, determined not to look back. She feared if she looked back, she might catch a glimpse of a childs happiness, or perhaps a couple kissing goodbye, or a departing hug between a father and a daughter... she feared that if she looked back and caught a glimpse of her father's face, she might long to return, and this transition would be even more difficult. She felt another's presence at her side, and then a tap on the shoulder.

"Miss? May I show ya' ta your lodgins'?," asked a boy, probably around the age of 9, or 10. Semara frowned, forgetting herself, and being displeased at the young age of the boy, but stopped when she saw the puzzled look upon his face. He had ruddy skin, and wore the common twill hat of a boy his age. He was most likely hired when the ship docked, earning a small wage as a temporary. Although the boy's skin seemed a bit dirty, his clothing was clean. This saddened the girl even more, because in these rough times, so many children were being stripped of their childhood as this boy had. Even, she thought, as she had. Only in very different ways. In a time of underground trouble, different people seem to suffer the same fate.

Semara nodded, her expression changing to a subtle, soft smile, coaxing the boy to become more comfortable with her. Her hands were hanging in her lap, her fingers interlocked, knuckles white with a growing fear in her body. For some reason, the promise of a room for the night seemed to seal the deal, almost causing her once dreamy state to erupt into firey panic. Her eyes were no longer blank, but held a deeper sorrow. Perhaps the boy could see it, for he became fidgety, and rushed, straight-legged, to where her chambers would be. As they moved across the deck, Semara shot a quick glance at the spot where the carriage had been. Gone.

When they arrived, having taken a staircase downward, and wandered through a hall, the boy swept a gesturing hand towards a room, showing her in.

"Here it 'es. If you'll be needing anything, ya' may ask one of the ship's attendants. A maid'll be in everyday to tidy up. As yah can see, your bags 'ave been carried up," he pointed to a few trunks, that Semara recognized as her own. She nodded, before turning a questioning look upon him.

"Will you be coming along for the ride?" She asked, her expression changing to a sad sort of smile.

"No, miss. I collect mi' wages and go," he nodded once, and his eyes flashed, as he looked up at her through girlish lashes. "Now, however, I need be on deck. Enjoy your rooms." He raised his neck, and left, leaving without so much as another glance, leaving the door open to the outside worl.

Semara drifted about the room, inspecting things, trying to convince herself that it was all as beautiful as it should have been. But this was her prison, and did a criminal enjoy the pure sheen of his jail-cell bars? Not to say that Semara was a criminal, unless it was a crime to want something more than was offered. Offered on a chopping block masked as a silver platter.

She wallowed in her discontent, until her eyes caught an intricate carving on the front of a dresser. It was mahognany, as was most of the room, and seemed to portray mahouts in the southeast, on a journey to deliver goods. She started at the begining of the story, carressing the fingers of one hand lightly over the carvings, taking in the feel of the elephants, their loads, and the riders. She could almost feel the sharp, distinct spices tickeling her nose, the anticipation of the large creatures as they stopped for a break, anything and everything, as she fell into an almost trance, causing her to not notice the man that looked through the doorway.

5

Jonathon walked the deck, as he usually did when he was filled with a dull, sort of dull ache of unexcitement. He moved below deck, striding through the hall that held the doors to the rooms of his passengers. There weren't very many, but Jonathon had had them built nonetheless, to fit the occasion when money was tight and he needed to take on a few passengers for extra. At the end of the hall stood his own quarters, and another staircase down to the hall of doors in which held goods and exports.

He noticed an open door. My first passenger, he thought, his head's voice grimm, the first of a- he stopped, as he walked past the door, and noticed the girl inside. He looked upon her from behind, and watched as he fingers moved over the wood. He was almost tempted to clear his throat, to get a look at her from the front, but he was so taken aback the what joy she found in such simplicity, that he pined not to interrupt her. He preferred to watch her for a moment, and let her notice him for herself.

((Not done yet... check in later for more updates!))