The Prisoner


1. Echoes of the Sea

The salt air stung his cheeks. The fishermen spoke about a nasty storm that was brewing

some miles off the coast. They didn ’ t even notice he was eavesdropping. Kai hadn ’ t intended to,

but he could see the fish flopping on the dock. His stomach twitched at the sight, his mind

conjuring images of a glowing fire, its smoke wafting up his nostrils, clinging to his skin, cooking

the fish. His mouth watered. Kai clenched his fists tight and set his jaw. As the four men began to

walk towards the dingy tavern for their nightly drink, he floated along the docks, passing scores

of people bundled up in coats and clutching their hats to save them from the howling wind. Kai

kept his head down, occasionally peering at the sea from beneath his lashes.

The water rolled in white, foaming waves, pounding the shoreline and the docks.

Eventually he came to the end of the pier and stared out across the choppy sea, for the second

time since coming to this town, thinking about what he wouldn ’ t do for even the tiniest bit of

stale bread. Even stormy, Kai found solace in the wide depths before him.

He imagined working the riggings; the wind whipping his hair as he followed orders

from his captain, sheets of rain pelting his face, as waves crashed on the decks, knocking other

crew members over. For a moment, he was completely lost in his fantasy. Kai enjoyed the

thought of adventure, of doing his part to reach a new place — the next discovery. They ’ d find

treasure and trade routes, something he was beginning to understand the importance of and — his

stomach growled angrily. Unable to do anything other than play with wistful thoughts, he started

back the way he had come. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his fraying jacket. Every

uneven board and pebble upset his feet, the soles of his boots worn to a thin line that barely

protected his feet from the harsh brambles and pine needles of the forest beyond the edge of the

port town.

He passed the tavern, which was the only thing still open in the depressing town. All the

shops and houses along the main path were dark. Shutters had been drawn over the windows. In

the distance, a single candle ’ s glow caught his attention. He counted the homes down the line

from where he stood under his usual eave.

It ’ s the pastor ’ s! Maybe he ’ ll let me in! Kai hoped feverishly.

He broke out into a desperate sprint. Mud splattered his pant legs. As he drew nearer, the

candle was blown out, and the shutters clacked shut. Abruptly coming to a stop, he cursed his

luck and spun around, deciding to head for the ally. The storm descended upon the town,

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