There was a great deal of trepidation about leaving the port to sail to Halloway’s hideout. First, the crew had never sailed such a distance without Timberwolf; but second, most of them had never sailed so far north as to pass through the Fryst Sea. Many strange things were said to happen on the Fryst, and it was often hard to discern fact from folktale. However, every soul on board was determined to see their captain safe and sound, so they set about their duties as soon as Silas gave the order to weigh anchor.
Silas felt a sense of relief as the sea breeze began to buffet his hair about and the port started to fall behind. He felt that the hardest part of the quest had been accepting his role as leader. Now that he was no longer fighting that part of himself, he could focus on the mission at hand: rescuing Timberwolf.
It was only a few hours before the ship reached the true entrance to the Fryst Sea. A swathe of blue ocean cut between two weather-hewn columns of stone, a setup quite resembling some sort of gateway. Silas was eyeing the approaching strait when the ship’s navigator, Maldir, ran up to him carrying a stack of yellowed parchment.
“Silas,” Maldir panted. “I was looking at the maps of the Fryst, and all of them are quite old, a couple centuries or so, so this could be nothing but a superstition. However, as we’re coming up on it I thought you’d like to know –”
“Mal!” Silas exclaimed. “Calm yourself and tell me what’s wrong.”
“Sirens,” Maldir said, his face dead serious.
Silas blinked, not sure if he had heard the other boy correctly. “What?”
“Not one, not even two, but three of these maps say there is a nest of sirens just beyond this right column.” Maldir pointed at the column. “I wanted to warn you, because, well . . . it’s not unheard of for folk to go missing around here.”
“All right then, I’ll keep an eye out,” Silas reassured him. He adjusted the wheel so their course would take them as far from the right column as possible. As they sailed through the passage, both boys stared intently at the stack of stone. For a moment, Silas could have sworn he’d seen the glint of shining scales in the water next to the column, but Maldir said nothing so he figured it was a figment of his imagination. However, he knew he wasn’t imagining things when something thumped against the hull and made both of them run to peer over the railing.
In the water was a body, but it had two legs, not a tail. Maldir jumped overboard to retrieve the body, and Algreve came down from the crow’s nest to help Silas pull them up with a rope ladder. After a few tugs, Maldir appeared over the railing, half holding a sopping young man with dark curly hair. The boy was lowered to the deck, where he coughed up half an ocean’s worth of water and tried to push himself into a sitting position. Silas ran to fetch him a glass of water and a blanket, and when he returned the boy was standing on wobbly legs, supported by Algreve. The boy glanced up at Silas and gave him a grin – a grin so familiar that Silas dropped the glass of water, which shattered on the ground.
“Silas, are you okay?” Maldir asked, staring at him with a worried look on his face.
Silas darted forward and pinned the new boy against the mast, consumed by rage. “What are you doing here?”