Unsurprisingly, her bird well enough ignored her as they continued the journey onwards towards the nearest civilization across what felt like miles upon miles of cool, coastal sand supplemented by the screaming of seagulls fighting over fish and whatnot. Jay might’ve been thankful that Mags hadn’t decided to go and join them (as she was wont to do, and had, on previous occasions) but, at the moment, she was too sick and hungover to care. The sand was bright and the birds were loud and everything else could go burn in hell as far as she was concerned, so long as she could get some peace and quiet.
But Mags, the faithful companion that she was, wouldn’t let her, and so they walked. “We’re next t’ an ocean ‘n we ain’t even got nothin’ t’ drink!” Jay complained loudly to the avian on her shoulder, “‘n we’re in nice soft sand ‘ it’s pretty out ‘n ya ain’t lettin’ me nap ‘n enjoy it!”
When the avian didn’t reply she took it upon herself to keep the rather one-sided conversation going. “Oh, ya know what, fine, I don’ care if it ain’t yer fault I was drunk ‘n all, yer the one who got me up this mornin’! Ain’t matterin’ if it was fer me own good ‘r not!”
They continued on like this for the better part of an hour as they persevered across the shore before the ocean’s hush finally began to register with Jay through her hangover and she fell silent to listen to it. The more she walked, the better she felt, and the less she found the need to argue with her pet as a distraction. he’d always loved the water. It didn’t matter where, or when, she would always swim and play in the rivers, lakes, and streams. But never before had she ever seen the sea, even if only parts were visible. She wondered what it looked like without mist clouding her vision. SHe’d heard stories that it went as far as the eye could see, and when the sun set over the top if it it lit the sky a million vibrant colors that reflected off the water itself. The most entrancing story she’d heard about it, however, was from a fisherman who’d she’d met several towns back. He was an old man and no longer went on the sea-faring vessels that carried him to deeper depths, instead preferring to ply his trade closer to the shore where the fish were smaller and the travel less taxing.
He’d told her that he’d always lived by the sea and that his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, and every father before him was an angler. In the ocean, he said, there dwelled creatures of massive proportions — behemoths, so gargantuan they dwarfed his ship. They came to the surface to breathe like dolphins and slipped back under with a slow, soulful majesty that emanated from them so powerfully one only had to be in the vicinity to feel it.
One day he’d been out on the water and there was an eerie yet beautiful song coming from all around him: some clicks, but mostly a long, haunting melody. At first he’d thought it was a siren’s song, for it was so enchanting, but before he could cover his ears and slip belowdecks the largest of the beasts he’d ever seen breached the surface and spouted water into the air before diving back under, all the white singing. But the noise was everywhere, and it couldn’t just be the one, and so he turned to see one, two, three more tails disappearing beneath the waves. There’d been no fewer than eight that day, he told her, and he’d proceeded to talk to her about how to catch sharks.
That one stuck with her. Something about the enchantment of the ocean was reflected in those nameless royals of the vast, blue waters. Something magical. Something that made her want to get a ship, go to sea, and never come back.
So that was her plan: find a ship, get on a ship, and stay on the ship. She didn’t know what ship, or where she’d get one, or how she’d learn to sail, but she was never one for a plan and she’d always managed to come out alright in the end, so she wasn’t concerned about it. After all, why worry when one didn’t have to?
Thuki had always argued that she needed a plan or else she’d end up in a ditch someplace because her quick wits failed her, but Jay wasn’t dead yet and so far she’d had nothing but adventures that she never regretted. She always learned something and she was light and swift enough on her feet that she never found herself unable to wiggle her way out of one issue or another. At the very least it gave her a story to tell.
If she was perfectly honest she wasn’t sure how she got there, but after another half hour of dragging her sorry hide through the sand she found herself stumbling up a winding trail of sand and rock towards the rickety outskirts of a town. It wasn’t altogether dilapidated or rundown, just generally small and a bit rough around the edges, but she didn’t mind; it was better than the last town she went through. There she couldn’t find a single place to stay without it being covered in rats, cockroaches, and fog getting in through numerous holes in the walls.
Welcome to Drake’s Eyrie, the sign read, followed by a large picture of a drake on its nest for those who were less literate than she. Beneath it, it had directions pointing her to take a left for the tavern and a right for the port. Certainly went to show the values of this town, didn’t it?
Jay paused, debating whether getting a drink was really a wise idea considering the former night’s escapade. After a few moments she regretfully decided that, for one, she didn’t have enough money, and, for another, she probably shouldn’t get another drink anyways while she was still dealing with a hangover, and so she slipped down the right cobbled, pot-hole-filled road towards the docks in her usual, sauntering gait.