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The Steria

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Synopsis

  Many stories are told about the seas of Stormina - ghost ships, sea witches, and monsters.   Helana never expected to end up with in one of those stories. Now, she must find a way to live with the once infamous pirate, Turnog, and his crew.   When she also comes face to face with the sea witch Isodora and learns of the curse she has placed on her new friends, Helana must find a way to break the curse.  

Release date

October 14th 2021    

Short information

Pages

129

Reading hours

2-3 hours

Cover design

Canva

How many words

35 k

Editor

Dennis van Peppen

Publisher

Nathalia Publishing

ISBN

E-book

9798201200572

Paperback

9798201178666  

Chapters

Chapter 1: Betrayal
Standing on the balcony at the top of the lighthouse, Turnog looked out over the calm sea, the full moon, and it’s shoveling twin in the waves. Soft and calming was the sound of waves beating against the cliff. He closed his eyes for a moment. It was cold that night, not colder than usual, but could feel that something was about to begin.   "Turnog?" He turned slowly, his sister standing behind him.   "What is it, Ravana?" She walked over to him and stood next to him, she laid her hands on the railing and clinched them around the metal.   “There is nothing, really nothing. Even the residents of the Swawater keep quiet. ” He leaned back slightly and could see over her back the mountain group where the village of Swawater lay.   "Then what are you doing here?" Her eyebrows shot up and her back straightened.   "I wanted to know how you are doing, you are not the same since Isodora…" He raised his hand so that she had to stop. He really didn’t want to talk about that woman.   "Please, don't talk about that witch. At least not to me, or near me, sister. " Ravana nodded with a sigh.   "No problem, I never liked her in the first plays, and I told you that several times." It was Turnog’s turn to sigh and lowered his head, of course she needed to rub it in. She hadn't pushed her opinion under the rug, and hate to admit that she was right.   "By the way, is Sval in the tower?" She folded her arms and sighed, clearly noticing the change of subject.   "Where else should he be?" He shrugged for a moment, his gaze went to the wooden tower that briefly was illuminated by the lighthouse.   “I don't see any fire in the tower, that is why." He looked towards her for a moment, the blond hair was hanging loose on her back. One of her locks hung over her left eye, he always had a tendency to knock that lock away from there. But he knows she didn’t want him to, and also why that was.   "That is indeed strange." Her voice brought him back to the topic at hand. "I'll go and have a look." She already wanted to run away, but he stopped her, by grabbing her arm as softly as possible.   "I will go, he is maybe part of my crew. But he is my best friend and, you have to get back to your post at the Steria." She nodded for a moment, then looked back at the wooden tower.   *******   Turnog jogged down the spiral staircase, the door that lead to the adjoining house opened and he walked through it without thinking. He didn't have to look back to know that Ravana was following him.   "Take my horse, he is already saddled." He looked back at her and gave a little nod. He strode out of the house, indeed there was his sister's black stallion. The animal was quietly nibbling on the tall grass that stood close to the stake to which it was tied. The horse noticed him and greeted him by stomping a few times on the dusty ground, a small cloud surrounding its hoof. He untied the horse and mounted with ease, for a pirate. He spurred the horse on and galloped through the moonlight night. The inhabitants of Truport, his port city since his father had brought him and his sister here, were at ease and probably had turned in for the night. The villagers trusted him to protect them, as he had since his father was killed. The horse ran past the tavern where light still shone behind the windows, the laughter and loud talk of the local drunks was clearly audible. Turnog had a smile on his face, those were familiar sounds from Truport. The sound faded into nothingness as he drove on. The wooden watchtower was a dark colossus, normally a torch was light on top of the building. That was not so much for sight, but to let the people of the neighboring village of bandit in the mountains know that someone of the local bandits was watching them. But there was no torch, strangely his best friend and First Mate Sval was a man of duty and he knew the risks.   "Sval?" Turnog had arrived at the tower and was holding back the horse, the animal was a bit restless. He leaned forward slightly and stroked the neck of the proud animal. “Easy, boy. Calm down." But the horse began to buck and rear slightly. Turnog jumped out of the saddle and tied the reins to a leg of the watchtower. "Sval, are you there?" There was no answer, and he was not sure if he had received and answer the first time. "Sval, I'm coming up now!" He put his foot on the bottom step of the rope ladder. "Turnog, sorry, I fell asleep." Turnog frowned, there was something in Sval's voice that he didn't like.   "Fell asleep?" That sounded unlikely, but everting was posible.   "Yes!" A torch started to burn, Turnog looked up and face Sval became visible. He could be wrong, but his friend’s face was a bit red. His shirt was also a bit messy, but that could be due to sleep.   “Well, sleeping beauty, during the time that you were napping. Could the gangs located in Swawater come across our bridge and attack.” Sval's face only turned redder, Turnog didn't trust it and started the climb up. Sval turned redder and looked back quickly, Turnog had really the feeling thart his friend was hidding something from him. He climbed faster until his head came over the railing. Standing on the ledge, his eyes darting across the platform until he found what he was looking for. A woman was sleeping in a corner against the balustrade. The flames didn't reach far to reveal her face, but he could see the rest of her naked body. Turnog jumped over the railing and looked at his friend in amazement. “What did I say about female company. It's fine, but not during your work, people depend on us.” Turnog had his back to the woman and looked straight at his friend. Sval didn't look at him, but looked past him at the sleeping woman. "Sval, I am talking to you." He didn't know his friend in that way, especially when it comes to women. Turnog wanted to turn to see who had cast such a spell on his best friend, who must have been a very special woman.   “I'm sorry Turnog, it won't happen again. Promised.” His hackles rose, Turnog got the feeling that Sval was not hiding the woman, but he clearly wanted to provend Turnog from turning around. As fast as he could and before Sval could stop him, he turned and looked at the woman, who was wide awake, and she was staring at him with her sea-green eyes. He recognized those eyes out of thousands, and his blood began to boil.   *******   "In the name of the sea goddess, Tishilla."   "Hey, leave my poor mother out of this." The woman got up and her eyes flashed anger, but he didn't care.   "What are you doing here, Isodora?" She turned, reached for her clothes, and without saying a word began to get dressed. He had completely forgotten about Sval, he only had eyes for her.   "Well, what does it look like." She slowly lifted her dress and walked past him to Sval.     “Can you help me with my corset?” Sval just nodded and did what was asked of him. Turnog exhaled furiously.   “You know all too well what I mean, Isodora. Your prank almost costed Ravana her live. " Isodora shrugged indifferently.   "She survived, didn’t she, so don't worry." Turnog clenched his fists and stepped forward.     “How can I not worry, in which fantasy world do you live? You handed us over to Aqray's knot!” Turnog looked away from her, his gaze went to the Steria that lay in the harbor. The three-master, with her pristine white sails, that he inherited from his father. '     "Do I hear that right, is the Dragon of the Sea afraid?" The mockery soaked her words.     "The Aqray’s knot is not a joke, it's just healthy to be afraid of the pirates hunters, and especially when you are a pirate." She laughed and walked over to him and forced him to look back at her. Her face was close to his.     "I don't see any more of that fear, you escaped that creep of a Summernight." Turnog took her hand holding his chin and squeezed it hard, she hissed through her teeth with pain.     “Thanks to you, he came closer than he has ever been. And it was pure luck we escaped him." He hated to admit that, but it was the truth. She began to laugh, once his heart melted at the sound. But it only fueled his hatred for her, and his blood reached almost the boiling point.     "I forgot for a moment how serious you were, it almost hurts to see you like this." She turned to Sval, who visibly petrified. “Almost.” She repeated herself. "Fortunately, you are not that boring." Giving Sval a kiss on the cheek, which couldn't get any redder. She pulled her lips off Sval's cheek and looked at Turnog. He took a step towards her and grabbed her by the arm. In his anger, he squeezed a little harder than intended, because she let out a cry in pain. Only he didn't pay her that much attention, he only had eyes for Sval.     "What did she promise you?" Sval looked down, unable to answer. “Sval, what did she promise you? She promised that you could become a captain.” Sval still didn't answer him, and this only made him more angry. Turnog did let go of Isodora's arm, then grabbed Sval by the shirt. "Then say something, man, you stick a knife in my back and all I want to know is why." Isodora made a small noise that was much like laughter. But he didn't turn to her, his gaze sought that of his best friend. Who finally looked at him, there was something in Sval's gaze that terrified him.     "She has indeed promised me that, but I refused that. You are the captain. I only wanted..." Turnog looked at Sval not understanding, what could he want. Turnog could give him gold and silver and other forms of riches. So that couldn’t be the reason for Sval’s betrayal. It had to be something he couldn't give him.     "He wanted me, Dragon of the Sea." Said Isodora, in disbelief, Turnog looked away from Sval and fixed his gaze on her.     "He can have any woman he wants, why would he want you?" She shrugged and looked at Sval, who took Turnog’s hands and pulled them off his shirt     "Because I love her." Anger gave way to disbelief, Sval had never shown any interest in Isodora before. Sval had always followed Ravana like a shadow, Turnog slowly shook his head, he even caught Sval sneaking out of Ravana’s bedroom several times. He was surprised he hadn't noticed the change in Sval's behavior. A slender hand fell to his shoulder, he looked at it and felt the rage rise again. Turnog pushed Sval, turned to face her. He grabbed her by the neck.     "Which spell have you cast on him!" She opened her mouth but couldn't answer. "Which spell." She took his hands and slowly turned blue. He let his grip weaken slightly, but still held her.     "You know all too well that I don't have a spell for love." Turnog cursed for a moment, but didn't let her go anyway.     "Turnog, let her go!" Sval's hands reached for his, one hand let go of her neck and gave Sval another hard push. But he kept looking at her, a loud scream was heard, then a cracking sound. Startled, he looked at where Sval had been, there was no one there.     "No!" Turnog ran to the balustrade and looked over it, where Sval lay dead still on the ground. As fast as he could, he climbed down the rope ladder, knelt defeated. Sval's eyes and mouth were wide open, but his head was at an odd angle. A feminine cry filled the air, Isodora had also climbed down and stood sobbing behind him.   "You killed him!" He got up and shook his head.     "It was an accident." But she already raised her hands to the sky, every muscle in his body told him to get out of there. He took a few steps back, a ring of fire shot up, forming a barrier around her. He turned and ran to the now prancing gelding, as fast as he could, he untied the horse and climbed on its back.   *****   Isodora's unintelligible spell haunted him as he drove away from the watchtower. Turnog looked back in fear a few times, but she didn't chase him. Instead, a fierce wind rose, the world around him darkened. Thick dark clouds blocked the light of the moon, he urged the horse a few more times. Turnog considered going back to the lighthouse, but he knew he would not be safe there from the wrath of Isodora. So he led the horse towards the harbor where the Steria was, its hooves clattered on the wooden dock leading to the three-master. His gaze rose, Ravana was already standing by the gangway.     "Turnog, what's going on?"     “No time to explain. We have to go, and quickly.” He saw her look up as he dismounted and walked up the gangway.     "Is that Isodora by the watchtower? Turnog where is Sval?” She took his arm, her white face told him she already knew the answer, but she wanted to hear it out of his mouth.   "Sval had an affair with Isodora." The rest of the crew gathered around them.   "I caught them and in my anger I pushed him as hard, he fell over the railing and broke his neck." He looked at the faces of the crew looking anxiously at the clouds above their heads, Ravana took a step forward.   “It was not your fault Turnog, he betrayed us the moment he got involved with that witch. Now we have to get out of here!” To his surprise, she turned her attention to the crew and began to issue orders. The men spread across the ship, and she took his arm. With little or no force she pulled him to the rudder, at the helm she released him and grabbed hold of the wooden wheel.   "What are your orders, Captain?" He was still shaking a little, but started shouting orders.   "Hold on, this is going to be a bumpy ride." He moved closer to her. The wind was now tugging at the white sails, the sea tossing them up and down.   "Looks like Tishilla agrees with her daughter!" One of the men ran to him with great difficulty. He looked at the man and cursed, he had hoped they were safe on the sea as this was the domain of the sea goddess Tishilla.   "Tell the men to constrict themselves, Riley!" He had to shout the command to get above the wind and the sound of crashing waves. Riley nodded and ran away from him again with great difficulty. Ravana watched the sky as lightning shot from the dark clouds into the raging sea.   "If one of those bitches hits us, those safety lines won't help." He, too, looked up, a bolt of lightning came down and landed just next to the ship.   "I'm afraid that's the point." He walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder, fear in her eyes.     "I'm sorry." A bolt of lightning struck.
Chapter 2: Arrival in Truport
The carriage drove through what her father called the sleepy harbor town, Helana knew better. The village had perhaps not changed in the last three centuries, except for the people who lived there, but it was more lively than the hellhole they came from. She looked at the white lime houses, she knew the village with the wind farms near the forest and the lighthouse on the cliff. Which came closer and closer.   "Helana, don't get stuck to the window like that." Her father's chastising tone did indeed make her look away from the surroundings and turn her attention to her parents opposite to her in the carriage.   "Come on, dad, it's only summer once a year. Which means we only come here once a year." Her father sighed loudly.     "You are no longer a small child, next summer you will be part of the Aqray knot. So you need to act like a proper young lady." She hung her head, how could she forget it when he keeps telling her. She closed her eyes for a moment and raised her head with a smile.   "All the more reason to enjoy it even more." Helena’s gaze darted from her father to her mother, who visibly struggled to hold back her smile.   "Helana, please promise me that you will behave like a lady. Our family has been coming to this port city for the last three centuries, and we have a reputation to uphold." She raised her shoulders.   "The people of this town have known me since I was a baby, they knew you and your father. We're no better than them, Aqray Knot, and our heritage is from this town." Her father took hold of her hand.   "That's because Captain Summernight's widow was not welcome anywhere else, and the pirate who protected this town had disappeared." Helana rolled her eyes indifferently, she had heard this story several times before, and she knew her father would quote it again. The carriage came to a stop, her hand already reached the carriage door. "Helana!" Helana shock from her father's voice, she should have known this.   "I know father, your first, then mother, and then it is my turn." He nodded in approval, but didn't look at her, he jumped out and helped her mother get out, as usual, she romped with her way too long skirts. Helana had to go to great lengths not start laughing, her mother looked at her for a moment and rolled her eyes. She knew that her mother, like her, cursed the long skirts and wished she was brave enough like her daughter to go against her husband wishes and narrow beliefs. It was actually the skirt of her school uniform, and it was indeed easier to get in and out of a carriage. Finally, her mother got out, the bottom of her skirt had a few streaks of dirt and dust.   "Now it is your turn." Helana looked at her father with a narrowed look and then walked away from the carriage, she needed no help to get out. With ease, she jumped out of the carriage and immediately walked over to the horses, which were panting in sweat. She patted both animals on the necks and reached into her small pouch that held two small apples.   "You spoil them, young lady." The driver came up to her.   "It's not a treat if the animals have worked for it." The driver nodded in agreement.   "Please help me with the suitcases, young lady, your mother has brought a lot of clothes for this trip." As he continued to discuss the amount of luggage women were taking, they walked around the carriage where the various suitcases were stacked. She wanted to pick up one of the suitcases.   "Helana!" Helana sighed, why couldn't she help the driver with the suitcases. Something she did every year, she came up and turned her gaze to her father. Who stood with his arms folded in the doorway.   "Father, how can I ever run our family business if you deprive me of the simplest of tasks." He shook his head.   "A lady those not carry suitcases!" She folded her arms.   "Something I have been doing since I was eight years old, in other words it is my responsibility and what do you always say about responsibilities!" Her father came to her with great strides.   "I said no." Helana leaned over to the first suitcase, which the driver had already taken off the carriage.   "And my job as a rebellious teenager is not to listen." She picked up the suitcase and walked past her father, who took her by the arm.   "Put that suitcase down, young lady." She shook her head.   "Let her go, Doc. She's right, she's been doing this for years." Her father looked up from her and looked towards his wife.   "She's not a small child anymore, Liliana. It's time she adjusted to the norm." Helana ripped her arm free.   "I have been living by the norm all year round, at school and at home. But here, here I want to be myself." Helana walked to the door, her mother stepped aside.   "Doc, let her. The much you argue, the worse it gets." A sigh filled the air.     ****     Helana put her suitcase in her own bedroom, turned around quickly. Everything was still in the place where she left it last year. The sailor cards were displayed on the wall. They hung there before she got this room from her grandfather, who actually hoped that IT would soon make room for a grandson. But when he came to the knowledge that her mother couldn't have any more children, it had become his life's mission to prepare her for the family business. Her father, who did not understand her behavior, never understood why his father gave her so much attention and accepted her independence. She shouldn't think like a lady, she should think like a man. She went to the chest of drawers and opened one of them, to store her clothes she had brought for the vacation.   "Helana?" She just closed off the empty suitcase and came up, her mother was standing in her room. "Have a little more patience with your father, he doesn't think as freely as you and I." Helana shrugged, picked up her suitcase from her bed and slid it under.   "It's called going with the time mother, and not free thinking." She came up slowly.     "If he doesn't let me do anything out of the ordinary, how am I ever going to…" Her mother raised her hand, which made her stop.   "Don't forget I'm on your side." Helana nodded and fell onto her bed with a sigh.   "I am sorry, mother, but you know how it is." Her mother's answered a simple nod and then walked back to the door.   "Suzania has arrived and is waiting for you in the kitchen." Immediately she shot up, Suzania was the housekeeper and cook. Her mother's footsteps were already on the landing, and she was down the stairs not much later.   "Suzania?" Helana walked into the kitchen with her head held high, a steaming cup of tea already waiting for her.   "Welcome back princess." Drunk with ridicule, Suzania walked into the kitchen.   "It's always an honor to come back, maiden Suzania from the land of Evergreen." They both laughed.   "Sit down and drink your tea, otherwise your father will think I'm putting you to work." Helana groaned softly.   "Please, can we not talk about my father." Suzania nodded and sat at her kitchen table.   "So, tell me, how was school?" She groaned again and told Suzania what had happened this year.   "I'm called the blue nun these days just because I focus on my studies and not boys." Suzania laughed.   "There are worse nicknames." Suzania replied. Helana nodded reluctantly.   "I can't wait until next year, then I will finally be out of that school. Then I can take my place in the family business."   "What is this, are you galls chatting again?" A man entered the kitchen through the back door that led to the lighthouse.   "How nice to see you, too, Mr. Treuman." Mr. Treuman shook a little with laughter.   "Ah, I thought I heard a familiar voice." Her father entered the kitchen and held out his hand to Mr. Treuman.   "How is she doing?" Treuman shrugged his shoulders slightly.   "I can't complain. She really is a Jewel of the Sea." She looked at his face, it was clear he was avoiding something.   "Mr. Treuman, is something wrong?" Helana asked. He sighed, his gaze turned to her, and a thin smile appeared on his face.   "Nothing seems to escapes you, young lady." Helana sat a little straighter in her chair, the tone of his voice often not predicting good news. Her father had also noticed this and eagerly awaited the rest of the story. Mr. Treuman pointed to the chair, silently asking if he could sit down.   “Several fishermen have disappeared last year, more than usual. At first, I didn't think about it, a fisherman can get lost at sea, but then it happened every time around the full moon." Her father sighed and shook his head.   "Come on, man, you know I don't believe in ghost stories." But Helana was already on the edge of her seat. Unlike her father, she loved ghost stories, it was a good picture of the history and part of her culture.   "Was it the Steria?" Treuman nodded and turned his attention to her.   "You were always a quick learner, so I don't have to explain to you that the next full moon is tomorrow night." She turned her attention to her father, who shook his head in disbelief.   "Doc?" Her mother had also entered the kitchen, her father looked up at her.   "Come on, Liliana, this is nothing more than coincidence in combination with an old sailor superstition." If she wasn’t annoyed with her father already, she would be.   "Maybe we should wait, father, until after the full moon. Not because of the old sailors' superstition." She repeated his own words on purpose, letting him know she had listened to him. "But the full moon makes the sea restless, extra high tides, stronger current." Helana leaned back a little. "I know the Jewel of the Sea is a strong boat, but we should not underestimate the power of the sea. Grandfather always told me that, and I learned that at school this year too." Her father frowned for a moment, but shook his head.   "Then make an extra offering to the sea goddess Tishilla, but we are still going to sail tomorrow. Rain or sun shine, ghost ship or no ghost ship, we are going to sail." Mr. Treuman got up form the wooden chair.   "Then I'll get her ready for departure." He left the kitchen with a heavy sigh and bowed head.   "I'll prepare your lunch and dinner. For the trip." Suzania also got up, it was Helana’s turn to get up.   "Then I'll go into town to get a sacrifice for the goddess, because I'd rather leave nothing to chance."   "You don't go into town alone." She turned, anger bubbled up inside her.   "Let me guess that is not the norm. Your father thought differently about that, and I did too." With those words, she stormed out of the house and ran to the village.     ******     Helana didn't stop until she reached the first house, leaning forward to catch her breath.   "Hey Helana!" She came up a young man came up, to her.   "Hey Valen, how are you?" She strode over to him and he shrugged.   "I am all right. Have you heard of the fishermen?" She gave him a small nod, his father is a fisherman by trade, just like his two older brothers.   "You're going to tell me, that your father and brothers are not sailing." He nodded.   "It is not my father’s choice, but my mother does not want them to go out on the water with a full moon, and as a good husband and sons they listen to her." He stood next to her and with a slight nod of his head they walked into town together.   "Unfortunately, my father doesn't listen to his wife or me. So I get a sacrifice just to be on the safe side." Valen shook his head.   "It must be because he didn't grow up here." She nodded quickly, that most be it or her father was forgotten what his father had taught him. "Then I can recommend the sea rose rosary, my father says the sea goddess loves it. Always, when he trows it in the sea, he comes home with extra fish." Helana frowned for a moment, then shrugged. Who was she to be arguing with a fisherman son.     ******     Helana was standing on top of the cliff in her hands, holding the sea rose rosary, a warm summer breeze playing with her hair.   "Sea Goddess, I hereby give you a rosary in the hope that you will take us in your arms." With a strong throw, she threw the rosary into the waves that gnawed gently at the edge of the cliff.   "Well spoken.” She quickly turned to a strange woman standing behind her. "It just won't help you." A vague feeling of dread crept over Helana, the woman with her sea-green eyes that shone brightly. Helana straightened her back.   "Why do you say that, can you see into the future?" The woman turned away from her.   "If you go sailing tomorrow, you and yours will not return." Before she could respond, the woman had disappeared into thin air. Helana was still tongue-in-cheek to see where the woman who had just spoken to her had just stood.   "Who was that woman?"   “Helana, dinner is ready!” Suzania's voice awakened her and she walked around the house, trembling slightly, to enter through the front door. "What's the matter with you, it looks like you've seen a ghost." Suzania stroked her hair gently, for a moment she considered keeping to herself what she had just seen. But Suzania's concerned look was so worried that she would do it anyway. After telling her story, Suzania gasped in alarm. "Isodora Lisica?" Suzania's gaze went straight to the portrait that hung in the dining room, her gaze went to it too. The portrait was of Captain Turnog, the last captain of the Steria. The lighthouse and the house on it belonged to the pirate captain before the Summernights widow moved in. After what her grandfather had told her, the widow was so impressed with the pirate captain's accomplishments that she left everything the same and even left that portrait.   "Isodora Lisica, wasn't that the sea witch of the Steria legend?" Suprise and fearful she suggested could only get a nod from Suzania.   "She's the one who cursed Captain Turnog and his crew, I don't know about you but I'll do your best to convince your father not to go out to sea tomorrow."

Nathalia Publishing

Natalia's publishing is the name Nathalia Books gives to her Indy work. Working at a kitchen table with a good cup of coffee, the books come together.

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Nathalia Books is a dreamer and turns these dreams into stories. Each with their own world and charm, she prefers to write all day long and she loves to forget the world around her. Her worlds take you to deserted places and unknown cities. She introduces you to unknown races and beliefs.
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