It was before dawn, four days later, when they finally neared Lorak. The galley had been boarded over on top so they had to rely on dried rations. Thick boards reinforced the bow and sides and the gunwales were heightened to provide some cover from arrows and spears. Boarding ramps were in position, ready to be deployed at any instant. Wet Zet explained that they normally did not engage in combat with such a fortified and weighed down ship, but the relentless nature of Captain Gorg made it necessary to be more cautious.
They swiftly passed through an inlet and into a bay. The enemy ship was anchored near the small port of Lorak and they steered straight toward it. A bell began to toll. They had been spotted, but the enemy was not at all ready to return the attack. “Raise the flag,” the Captain ordered. “Raise it high and let Gorg’s Fury fear my revenge.”
Uungluk held his spear. “Get me on that ship, Captain, and my spear will take care of Gorg.”
“We have their side, Captain, and we have speed” Wet Zet called down from up in the rigging. “Cut their ship in two before they can maneuver.”
“Easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot,” the Captain shouted back. “Clear the front half of the ship. Archers begin firing when we’re in range. Boarders, kneel in front of the archers and have the boarding ramps ready. If the enemy goes down slow, we’ll have to fight.”
Moments later, the battle began as both ships began to fire their lethal arrows at each other. As their ship neared the enemy vessel, Uungluk watched in amusement as several of the enemy sailors ran and jumped into the water. There was a tremendous shudder as the ships collided. Pieces of wood from both ships, ranging in size from splinters to large beams, flew through the air. The standing archers fell forward to the deck, and Wet Zet nearly fell, but caught hold of a rope just in time.
Uungluk rose from where he was crouching and thrust his spear in the air. “UUNGLUK THE MIGHTY!” he roared. Those beside him rushed forward with the boarding ramps and put them into place. With an aura of arrogant confidence, Uungluk strode calmly onto the enemy’s stern. His demeanor brought fear to the hearts of even the most stalwart of the enemy fighters. The battle was swift and fierce, and Captain Gorg soon fell to the deck with Uungluk’s spear through his chest. Uungluk pulled out his sword and soon raised the head of Captain Gorg into the air. With the Captain dead, the rest of the enemy surrendered or jumped overboard to escape. Uungluk and the others then rushed back to the Fasara Ru before the enemy vessel disappeared under the water.
“A good victory,” the Captain shouted from his place at the stern. “Now cast off the extra timbers and get this ship to the beach.”
The sailors sprang to work and began to remove the reinforcements and alterations to the Fasara Ru, and drop them into the water. If nothing else, the survivors from the enemy ship could grab on to them and float to shore. The bow was badly smashed, but the extra timber had kept it from being a complete loss. Soon, even the locals were launching their boats to come and help. Some of them knew the Captain and met privately with him in his office before they reached shore.
It was just past noon by the time they reached the shore and pulled the ship ashore. A crowd of locals gathered around and cheered as the Captain walked down the gangway.
“Ezrak!” someone yelled. A woman rushed from the crowd to embrace the Captain. Two children followed behind her. “Ezrak, we had no idea if you would ever return,” she sobbed. “Captain Gorg was a monster.”
The Captain sighed and hugged her back. “I missed you too, but I am back now, and Captain Gorg will no longer bother any of us.”
A number of the other crewmembers began to spread out and mingle with the locals. Wet Zet walked up beside Uungluk. “Most of this crew was born, raised, and married here in Lorak, and that’s why they didn’t like Captain Gorg,” he explained. “I’m actually from the far side of this land, more than five months from here by sea, but I doubt there’s any family left for me to return to. A few others in the crew also came from other cities, but they’ve all grown to call Lorak home now.”
“My home is in another land far away, and I do have family,” Uungluk said, “but I don’t think I am welcome there anymore.”
“If the condition we found you in is any indication, then I’d be likely to think the same,” Wet Zet said. “You’re still young though, and can find a new home.”
“Perhaps,” Uungluk agreed, “but I’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
“You gave a fine performance out there today, Uungluk,” Wet Zet said. “The Captain will surely reward you, and the people of Lorak will call you a hero when they learn of your deeds.”
They watched the reunions for a few moments, before Wet Zet spoke again. “We might as well be useful and start unloading the ship for repairs while they all get reacquainted.” Uungluk followed the man back up the gangway and the two began to work.
“Wet Zet, I have a question,” Uungluk said as he tossed a few empty water barrels over the side. “I saw the Captain holding a carved rock a few weeks back and was wondering if there was any significance.”
Wet Zet walked over to Uungluk. “That stone is a symbol of the region he controls and was given to him by the Overlord. When a captain arrives at a new region, he needs to show his right to be there in order to demand supplies. Without that stone, he is only considered a visitor. The Captain currently has stones for Lorak and Tanikwa, although the stone for Lorak was meaningless as long as Captain Gorg also had one.
Two weeks later, the Fasara Ru was repaired and the second ship had been selected and readied. When it was time to leave, a number of men from Lorak had volunteered to join the crew and stood on the beach waiting for the Captain to step out of his house and decide who all would embark on the two ships. Most of them were discussing which ship they would prefer to be on, but the talk ceased when the Captain came out.
“Two ships, two crews,” he said. “Those of you who have served under me will continue to serve on the Fasara Ru, with a few new crewmembers to augment our losses during the past year. The rest of you new crewmembers are going to the second ship.”
Wet Zet stepped forward. “Captain, a fresh crew alone on a ship will go nowhere and need a good captain.”
“An excellent observation,” the Captain noted. “Uungluk, you’re their new captain, and Wet Zet, go with him. Watch his back and make sure he does a good job.”
Uungluk opened his mouth in surprise and wanted to say something but remained speechless. “Close the mouth, Captain,” Wet Zet whispered from beside him. “You need to look the part.”
Uungluk started laughing and the Captain gave him a funny look. “Captain Uungluk, is there a problem?” he asked.
Uungluk shook his head. “No problem that won’t be dealt with presently,” he answered.
“Then let’s get to sea!” the Captain ordered. “We’ve got two quotas to deliver and four months to get there.”
Uungluk turned and faced the rest of the men. “You heard him, to the ships!” The men listened and raced to launch the ships off the beach.
The Captain came up beside Uungluk. “Make me proud, boy, or I’ll demote you just as fast,” he warned.
“I’m not worried,” Uungluk replied. “I’ve got Wet Zet to keep me in order.” He paused. “Captain, I was wondering why no one on the ship ever mentioned your name while we were still out to sea, but here in Lorak the people all called you by your name.”
“That’s a good thing to know for someone with as little experience as you,” the Captain said. “They call me Captain because I prefer to put the emphasis of my reputation on my ship and not my name. If conversation on another ship mentions me, they will only think of me as the Captain of the Fasara Ru. If I used my name, everyone would speak of Captain Ezrak and ignore the ship. Captain or Captain Uungluk, whichever you prefer to use is up to you.”
“If you place the significance on the name of your ship, what does Fasara Ru stand for? To me it’s just a bunch of random letters.”
The Captain smiled. “It’s not in our language,” he explained, “but it’s a phrase that sums up what the future holds in store for the Overlord and his system of slavery instituted over this land. Translated, it means ‘coming end.’” He looked at Uungluk. “Like me, I think you also know something about your own future.”
“I can make plans and take advantage of opportunities,” Uungluk said, “but why would you think I know something of my future?”
“Uungluk, you don’t trust me, and to be honest, I don’t blame you,” the Captain said. “But while we have our differences, we also have something in common, something that should give you reason to trust me.”
“What would that be?” Uungluk wondered.
“Think back, Uungluk,” the Captain ordered. “Think back to the night you first told me to call you Uungluk. Think back and remember the only other question I asked you that night.”
“Who is Zhethou?” Uungluk slowly mumbled, realizing what the Captain was getting at.
“Yes, Uungluk. Who is Zhethou?” the Captain confirmed. “I do not know who you are or where you come from, but I do know you know who she is and that she must have told you of your future as she told me of mine. You spoke her name while Parven was still stitching your wounds. I too have spoken to her, and because of her words, I have chosen to trust you.”
“I will admit that I have spoken with Zhethou,” Uungluk said, “but my circumstances make it prudent that I do not discuss anything I have not already told you about myself.”
“Very well,” the Captain said. “I will refrain from prying. However, keep in mind that somewhere somehow I will eventually learn who you are.”
“Since you have spoken with Zhethou, I will trust you too,” Uungluk agreed. He looked over at the Captain and grinned. “I can only imagine how you would react to learning who I really am!”