A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Oli sees that Eau-de-vie is not far from Cachaça.  She helps ‘Wheel Turner’ climb down then without waiting drops down herself.  The pond is only a few steps away.  She glances around as she waits for ‘Wheel Turner’ to taste the water.  There’s plants growing in the water but no fish, a good sign its fresh water.  At the far end there’s a V-shaped gap where she guesses any overflow of water from rain flows down to whatever is below.

“It’s fresh,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

Oli glances up at the sky then strips off her clothes.  “Who knows when we’ll be able to bathe in fresh water again,” she says.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ agrees pulling off her own clothes.

Oli notices the pool is only a league deep near the shore where she and ‘Wheel Turner’ frolic for a moment, splashing water at each other.

“Let’s see what’s over the other ridge,” Oli suggests.  She dunks her head in the water.  When she surfaces she shakes her hair.  “This water feels so good,” she laments.

“Off to the edge of the world,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a whiny voice followed by a laugh.

Oli grabs her knife.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ follow suit.  Never good to be weaponless, as ‘Dizzying Blade’ has reminded her many times. 

With her knife blade in her mouth Oli pulls aside some fern leaves.  Her eyes widen as she stares down a precipice.  On the far side she sees a waterfall pour into a pool.  Around the pool are very peculiar looking people.  With much diligence she lets the leaves of the fern fall back into place.  She glances at ‘Wheel Turner’ whose bulging eyes she imagines are a reflection of her own.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

As she and ‘Wheel Turner’ make their way towards the top of the ridge Oli notices there are numerous birds and flowering insects.  Many of the trees and other plants she recognizes but there are also many she doesn’t.

“You think if the Real Talls, Sames, and Cannibals,” she says gasping for breath, “came from another world, they also brought animals, insects, and plants with them as the Captain suggests?”

“Why not,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies, wiping perspiration from her face.  “We did.”

“But there’s the Deep Dwellers, fish-tails, dolphin-tails, horsepeople, and giants,” Oli says.

“And those are just the ones we know of,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they reach the crest.

“What happens when we defeat Barthadrow?”  Oli asks and spits on the ground.

“It’s the other one I’m worried about,” ‘Wheel Turner replies.  “Comparable to a first mate, that one–.”

Without thinking Oli has ‘Wheel Turner’ on her back.  She blinks perspiration away and realizes the point of her dagger is imprinting the skin at the side of ‘Wheel Turner’s’ neck.

“Didn’t mean comparable, as in to you, but in how close that person is to Barthadrow.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ instinctively spits sideways.

“Aye,” Oli says with a grin and a shake of her head.  She gets up, re-sheathes her dagger and offers ‘Wheel Turner’ her hand.

‘Wheel Turner’ shows her strength and Oli grimaces as she’s thrown onto her chest and face.  Before she can catch her wind ‘Wheel Turner’ is kneeling on her shoulder blades with the point of her own knife poking just behind the flap of Oli’s right ear.

“Ye’re like my sister,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says in a soft, deadly voice.  “You didn’t run me through, not even nick me so I’ll do as like.  But never, ever, think I would compare you to that monsters second-in-command.  Agreed?”

Oli gulps, “Agreed.”

When Oli is on her feet again she places her hand on the hilt of her rapier.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ do the same.  And they both laugh.

“I could never kill you ‘One Eye’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says giving her a bear hug.

“Nor I you,” Oli says laughing hugging her back.  

“Now if either of us had been ‘Dizzying Blade’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Either one of us would be dead now,” Oli finishes for her.

“I swear, I see that one whose eyes could be either light grey or green pending on the clothes she wears, always scoping everyone.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a wearisome shake of her head.  “All the years we’ve known her and I’ve still never felt safe around her.”

As she chuckles Oli says, “And she’s our Master-at-Arms.”

“Crazy Bumbee’s bollocks I’m glad she’s on our side.

Oli hears something beyond the dense foliage in front of them.  “Shhh,” she whispers.

She and ‘Wheel Turner’ carefully part the foliage until they come to the other side of the ridge.  Glancing through the long, rib-like leaves of some kind of fern Oli sees a half league down a large circular pond.  At the far edge of the pond is a row of palm mixed with banana and other trees.  “I think past the pond is a precipice,” she says.

“Help me down and I’ll taste the water,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.  “If it’s fresh I’ll help you down.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ stares up into the sky.  “We’ll have to head back soon.”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You look like a sick peacock!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at the bird as she runs after it.

“Barthadrow’s barrel!” the bird screams back at her and makes a spitting sound.

“I give up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says turning her back to the bird and taking a seat beside Oli.

Oli passes her some mulberries.  “Best we keep going,” she says getting up and dusting herself off.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies with a sigh.  “Work, work, work, is all we do.”

“It’s a sad world,” Oli sings as she playfully nudges ‘Wheel Turner’ with her shoulder.  “Crazy Bumbee had it right,” she continues to sing as they trudge deeper into the forested area of the atoll.

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Flirted with our Captain

Tried touching without her consent

And our Captain in her wisdom

Gave him a permanent grin

Oh, Crazy Bumbee

We miss your cackle

We miss your wild tales

We miss even the madness in your eyes

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Smiling all the while

As he and his insane crew

Shot through the rapids

In sealed barrels

Right over the watery precipice

Of the Endless Waterfalls

“Lovely song First Mate,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they work their way to the top of the ridge that surrounds the atoll.

“Been working on it, silently, inside my head,” Oli replies with a prideful grin.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIve: Blog twenty-five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“At least it’s sandy here,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say as they trudge through the water.

“Fresh water is heavier than salt water so it will be fun dragging the bags back,” Oli says. 

As they get closer to the dry sand of the atoll she sniffs; there’s a faint smell of rotting vegetable where partially wet seaweed rots along the shore.  She notices more birds amongst the pine trees and other plants she thinks only exist on this planet. 

“Look!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts and points at an area on the shore between two Indian Mulberry trees.  “That colour bird with the long legs and really long tails with markings like a fish’s scales.  I swear that’s a liarbird!”

Oli notices the Indian Mulberry have fruit and her mouth salivates.  She glances at the ground and sees a bird dashing around.  “Lyrebird with a ‘Y’ instead of an ‘A’ or an ‘I’ Oli corrects ‘Wheel Turner’, or at least hopes she does.

“If it doesn’t tell me the truth it’s a liarbird,” ‘Wheel Turner’ snarls back.

Oli’s squints with determination as she replies, “Well let’s capture it and find out what it has to say.”

“Maybe there’s some parrots too,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says. 

On the shore Oli turns to ‘Wheel Turner’.  “You go after the liar and I’ll collect some of them mulberries.”

As ‘Wheel Turner’ tries to capture the lyrebird, Oli shimmies up the Indian Mulberry tree.  She has to climb around because the first berries she sees have silk worms all over the leaves surrounding them.

She cuts off a branch with only a few silkworms on it and lets it drop to the ground.  She tosses the mulberries she plucks off the tree onto the leafy branch.  Before she descends back down she glances around.  Peering through the leaves she sees a screw pine a bit deeper in.  Her eyes alight.  If the weather is good and the Captain allows it she’ll come back with more of the girls.  Even if they don’t find fresh water there’s lots of fruit to eat.

On the ground she sees ‘Wheel Turner’ facing off with the lyrebird.

“Come here you lyingbird!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at it.

“You lyingbird!” the lyrebird shouts back.

“I’ll put you in Barthadrow’s barrel!” ‘Wheel Turner’ screams at the bird before spitting on the ground.

Oli sits back against the trunk of a coconut tree.  She glances up and sees the coconuts are unripe.  Now she can concentrate on the interaction between ‘Wheel Turner’ and the lyrebird.  Leaning forward with eyes wide she scoops in a mouthful of the mulberries.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIVe: Blog twenty-four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“Cachaça is getting full and Eau-de-vie is getting closer,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as she wraps leather around her clogs to keep them from getting damaged.

Oli gazes up into the clear sky at the milky white colour of Cachaça.  She reaches up with both hands and opens them so it looks like she’s holding the moon.  The moon is so large it takes up most of her sight.  “Wonder if anything lives on her?” she asks.  ‘Wheel Turner’ doesn’t reply so she turns her head to the east.  “Makes me thirsty,” she says staring at the burgundy coloured Eau-de-vie.

“We’ll get you as close as possible, sirs,” Zala says.  Oli smiles at the tall girl in her violet robe, taken from somewhere, maybe from a wreckage.  It makes Zala look noble and in control.  Aarini who wears a nearly see through silk blouse and Chesah in her own kimono could be princesses; pirate princesses. 

Oli sees Umi checking over the fire box in the middle of the pinnace.  Next the waterproof buckets and ropes.  Lastly Oli sees Umi have each girl stand up and unfasten their robes to check that their knives are secured tightly. 

Peering over the side of the boat into the water as they get closer to the shore Umi raises her hand.  “Halt!” she commands.  “There is a sandy stretch towards the atoll here.”

Oli climbs over the side followed by ‘Wheel Turner’ as the girls lean the opposite way to counterbalance.  Once in the water Oli realizes it only reaches just above her knees.  Zala passes her and ‘Wheel Turner’ each a water sack made from sheep stomach.  Oli realizes that the sacks are older than she is since they came from Earth.  She and ‘Wheel Turner’ tie the mouth strings of the sacks to their waists and swing the body of the sacks over their shoulders.  Next Zala passes them each a chord of thin rope, and wrapped biscuits which Oli and ‘Wheel Turner’ tuck into their tops. 

“When Eau-de-vie is in front of Cachaça,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ tells Zala.

“Aye, aye, Helmswoman,” Zala replies.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Oli sees Zala and Chesah pull harder than they should have to.  Because Zala is stronger the pinnace turns east.

“It’s dragging,” Zala says.  Oli sees her stop pulling so hard.

“Well my sea dwelling sisters we haven’t sprung a leak,” Oli says with a shrug, “so struggle on, we’re nearly up to our ship.”

“So hard,” Chesah gasps, heaving on the handle of her oar.  As she does the boat suddenly spins in a circle. 

Oli grabs onto the bottom of her seat as the girls raise the paddles of their oars out of the water.  ‘Ship Protector’ Umi also has a hold onto the bottom of her seat.

“Whatever was causing the boat to drag seems to be gone,” she says taking in deep breaths. 

Taking a calming breath herself Oli tells Zala and Chesah, “Let’s try rowing again.”

As they get near the Nagua Oli shouts out, “Ahoy you sleeping sea pixies!” 

From the gunwale of the Nagua she sees ‘Harlot’ Thelma peer down.

“All hand hoy!” The ‘Harlot’ shouts out.  “First Mate Olanis and her crew of misfit and naughty nymphs are returned!”

 Oli drops cork bricks held on by short ropes over the side of the pinnace closest to the ship’s hull.  Thick ropes with hooks are lowered using pulleys.  Oli wraps the ropes around the bundles of dogweed and seaweed as Umi, Zala, and Chesah stable the pinnace by holding other lowered ropes.

“Captain wants to talk to you,” Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia tells Oli once she’s on deck.  “Many biters?”

Oli skips and claps her hands as she replies, “No, but its shallow a long way from the atoll.”

“I could use a swim,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Maybe if Umi and Zala get enough dogweed and seaweed tomorrow we can go back before it gets dark.”  Oli says patting the muscular shoulder of ‘Wheel Turner’.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Once she has cut through three stems of dogweed she swims up with them.  On the surface she uses the isobue technique of the Ama.  She blows out whatever air she has left making a high pitched whistling sound.  She passes the dogweed to ‘One Eye’.  Taking in another deep breath she dives back down.   

Ten more times she returns to the surface with three long stems; each time making the high squealing sound.  There is no more dogweed nearby so she cuts off the stems of some seaweed instead.  The fiber of the seaweed will be made to make strings for the bows and repair rope for the sails and anchors.  The leaves will be used as salty herbs for ‘Unibrows’ soup to ward off scurvy.

On her twentieth time returning to the surface ‘One Eye’ shouts to her, “Full!”  ‘One Eye’ helps her on board as Zala and Chesah lean to the other side as counter balance.

Umi sits between Zala and Chesah to use their body heat to get warm as ‘One Eye’ puts more wood on the embers.

“Tomorrow, if weather is good, I teach Zala and Chesah,” Umi says as she helps the girls tie the stacks of dogweed and seaweed.

“When you’re ready ‘Ship Protector’,” ‘One Eye’ says as she passes around battered salted fish between sliced Hardtack biscuits.  She uncorks and hands Umi a clay jug full of beer to drink from first.

 “We try sushi tomorrow!” Umi says with a devilish laugh as she puts her kimono robe back on and ties it tight with the sash.   

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Umi sees ‘One Eye’ drops an anchor on the port side and another on the starboard.  Once the boat is gently bobbing more-or-less in place Umi slips her awabi-okoshi through her fundoshi or as ‘One Eye’ calls it, a chastity belt in case a dolphin tail male seeks her out.  The long handle of the awabi-okoshi was originally used by Ama to scrape abalone off surfaces.  She keeps it to scrape off whatever grows on the outside of the hull.  Next she slips a Nihonto Tanto knife through the fundoshi; a gift from her dying father after he fought off three of Barthadrow’s men.  She grimaces at the memory of him thrusting it hilt first towards her as blood poured out of his numerous wounds.  Memories of all the horrible things Barthadrow has done and caused makes her blood boil.  She spits into the water. 

Lastly she ties a thin but strong rope around her waist.  Next she ties the other end onto the handle of a wooden basket caulked so it floats.  At the bow of the pinnace ‘One Eye’ ties another rope through an eyehook a top the gunwale to the basket then places it onto the surface.

“One pull I’m coming up, two pull me up,” Umi reminds Zala and Chesah.

 She rolls her shoulders back and lifts her heels alternately off the bottom of the boat while taking in controlled breaths.  When it feels right she takes in a deep breath and dives into the water.

It’s cold but also refreshing as it covers her mostly naked body.  She doesn’t wear clothing because it absorbs water and captures air.  It also keeps the coldness in when she exits the water.

She’ll cut off long lengths of the dogweed first.  The hope is that the weed will keep both its strength and flexibility for the bows and arrows the Captain wants made.  The rope to the portside anchor is taught and near her.  As she cuts near the bottom of a dogweed stem with her Nihonto Tanto she feels a gush of water against her back.  She glances back but doesn’t see anything.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the Nagua moves beyond the visibility of the city Umi’s thoughts turn to the next day when she will dive for the wooded plants ‘Dizzying Blade’ wants for the bow and arrows.  “You will come on the boat with us tomorrow Zala and Chesah.”  She smiles at the others.  “The rest of you, we try next time.”

She hears the other girls grumble that they won’t be going.  Umi smiles at the sight of Zala putting her arm around Chesah and asking her if she’s excited about the coming morning.  Only a few of the girls are willing to swim.  Most are terrified of putting their head below the surface.  She chuckles under her breath at the memory of the ‘Harlot’ telling her, she would rather eat ‘Unibrow’s’ wormy fish meal, like they were forced to years ago, than learn to be an Ama.

The Nagua is anchored about a mile from the shore of an atoll.  Umi is wearing a kimono robe with images of the leaves from a sakaki tree stitched on.   She closes her eyes and takes in deep, even breaths of the salty air. 

She opens her eyes and sees ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing her eyepatch looking back at her from the bow of the pinnace with a lopsided grin.  “We’ll keep the embers going while you dive,” ‘One Eye’ says with as she swipes away one of the flying insects that live near the shore. 

Umi stares into the yellow sky.  Pelicans with their long thick beaks swoop nearby.  She can also see frigatebirds with their thin pointed beaks and long tails.  Nearby a yellow beaked masked booby, with its wings drawn in, dives into the water.  Most of the other birds she has seen on this world keep closer to shore.  She remembers the Captain saying she wonders if they’re originally from Earth and were resting on the ships when the whirlpools pulled them to this planet.

Before her, in a cast iron box made from one of the unused cannons, are the embers of a fire.  She’ll need the warmth when she leaves the water.  She undoes her sash and lets the sun shine on her mostly bare skin.  She ties a tenugui over her head to keep her hair out of her eyes.  She is already wearing a fundoshi below.  Over the side she can see the sunlight piercing the water.  About two fathoms down the tops of seaweed flow back and forth in the current.   Growing in-between the seaweed are the hard and straight stands of what the Queen of Pirates named dogweed.

To the stern of the pinnace sit Zala and Chesah rowing.  ‘One Eye’ is navigator.  Zala’s eyes are bright and observant.  Chesah appears a bit squeamish. 

“First Mate Olanis knows that if I tug the rope once, I’m coming up, but if I tug twice I’m to be pulled up,” she tells the girls.

“And if we see danger we tug twice, wait for a tug back from Umi, then pull her back to the surface like Crazy Bumbee would,” ‘One Eye’ adds.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

‘Ship Protector’ Umi stares over the starboard side of the Nagua.  The Captain insisted she only have five girls with her, including Zala and Aarini.  Zala and Aarini would have to learn the secrets of the Ama just as the Captain had insisted Umi teach her, ‘One Eye’, ‘Storm Caller’, ‘Wheel Turner’, and ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She knew, as the other leaders did that the Captain planned on obtaining another ship from the monster Barthadrow’s fleet.  That would mean splitting up the crew.  The idea both excited and saddened her.  This crew was her family and she knew the rest felt the same.

The other girls she chose included Chesah from the Philippines.  Chesah is short like Umi and grew up near the sea.  Next she chose Bayu from Indonesia.  She too is short.  Her final choice was Hayami, another girl from Japan.  All the girls are around twelve to fourteen.  Old enough to learn the ways of the Ama.  There were other girls she wanted to bring.  Amelie was born in Southern France.  Tall, lean and fearless but still needs maturity.  Arsema, from Eritrea.  Arsema is also tall and very clever.  Umi didn’t invite her because ‘Dizzying Blade’ has had her eyes on Arsema as an understudy.  ‘Dizzying Blade’ is the only gaijin who reminds her of the samurai that terrified her whenever they entered her village.

“Does it matter if we talk?” Chesah asks in a whisper.

“No.  However, maybe some of you remember when the Captain had a knotted rope attached to a cannon ball lowered towards the orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  At fifty fathoms the cannon ball went no lower.  Do any of you remember what happened?”  She asks with her eyes wide with mock terror.

“No,” all the sisters reply in unison.

“Something or things pulled on the lowered rope so hard,” Umi spreads her arms wide, “So hard that the ship nearly capsized.  We were in great peril!  That’s when Helmswoman Sadie ran up with an axe and with her great strength chopped through the rope.”  She peeks over the gunwale.  Through the water she can see the bright orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  “Look!”

The girls scramble to look.

“Let your eyes adjust and you’ll see things moving inside.  We have not been here in years so I could not show anyone before now.”

“There are tiny things moving inside,” Zala says, stretching her long body farther over the gunwale. 

“According to the dolphin tails the fish tails inter—inter-act with the Deep Dwellers, and say they are hugeous,” Umi says struggling with the English but emphasizing every word anyway. 

“Is it the only city of the Deep Dwellers?” Chesah asks peering even farther over the gunwale.

“No but it is the only one we see from the surface so far,” Umi says so all the girls hear her reply.  “The dolphin tails say there are many more but they are so deep their light never reaches surface.”

“Why don’t they come to shore?” Zala asks, as she too leans farther over the gunwale.

“The dolphin tails say the Deep Dwellers cannot survive above a hundred and fifty fathoms because there is not enough water above them to keep them alive.”  Umi sighs.  “Carrying a weighted stone I have never dived beyond ten fathoms.”