happens when our hero is snatched from all that he is familiar with and
thrown into a situation totally foreign to him?
This book deals with the outward journey of the odyssey of Diego de la Vega.
Dark and ominous clouds began bunching and roiling to the southeast, their anvil-like tops bubbling like cauldrons, white contrasting with black. Thunder came to his ears, muted now but promising to get louder and louder as the storm, like a herd of wild horses, approached. Small flashes lit up the interiors of the clouds, making them seem even more ominous.
The sailor was already on watch, high above the
deck of the ship, but he took his place on the top yard of the mainmast,
the topgallant, planting his feet firmly on the thick, round piece of
wood that was his duty station at times like these.
While he was fairly new at this task, he had learned quickly,
having seen the results of a fall from this incredible height.
Heights didn’t bother him that much, he was used to them, but
the heights he was familiar with usually didn’t bounce and buck
“Away aloft!” shouted a man below. Forty men scurried up the ratline rope ladders and took
their places. Soon men
lined the yards on all three masts.
The sailor nodded to his companions to either side of him on the
topgallant and he stepped off the wooden pedestal that was his only
security a hundred feet up in the air.
His feet instinctively found the precarious footrope.
One didn’t look down from this height unless there was great
need. His stomach
lurched as it did every time he left the comparative safety of the
yards. The sailor’s mind
went through the procedures of furling a sail, which in his opinion was
much more dangerous then loosing one.
The mental checklist was quick this time; he had done this job
several times before. It
was becoming automatic now, like so many of the things that had once
been a part of his past.
Bracing against the topgallant, he leaned over
and began pulling up a section of the linen sail, trying, in the growing
wind to furl the cloth evenly and neatly.
The flapping material seemed determined to push him away from the
yard, but like riding a horse, the taut muscles of his legs and his own
finely-tuned sense of balance held him in place as he continued to pull
the sailcloth up toward the yard. On
either side of him, his companions were doing the same, most working in
time with him, a couple somewhat slower, one faster.
The sailor didn’t say anything to the slower ones.
The flapping sails, the rising wind and the slapping and
splashing of the waves would make that an impossibility, and they
weren’t that far behind the rest of them.
“Hurry it up, sluggards,” one of the
officers bellowed up to them, his voice sounding much like the thunder
that was quickly approaching.
Soon the sails were tied securely to the yards and sailors were scrambling down the ratlines and to the relative safety of the deck or their tiny berths below decks. The first sailor stayed aloft near the top platform on the mainmast, though. He gazed at the approaching clouds that still reminded him of wild horses, bucking and rearing. The flashes of light were like fire in their eyes and flames from their mouths and nostrils, and the thunder like a multitude of hooves against the hard ground. As the anvil like clouds darkened, he pictured a particular horse, black as midnight, fiercer than the most ominous cloud, his legs stronger than the firm, thick mast the sailor was pressed against.
In his memories, the sailor felt the strong horse between his legs, the one
who had never let him down.
The approaching clouds finished blotting out
what little sun there was and the sky darkened to nighttime blackness.
Still, even as the ship bucked higher and higher in the building
waves, and wallowed in the deepening troughs, he stayed and watched.
He saw in his mind a mane whipping in his face, a rough and rocky
landscape flowing by in a blur.
The sailor smelled rain approaching and his mind supplied the
scent of earth after a shower, the tang of wet pine, the dampness of fog
and the heady aroma of new flowers that every rain brought to his
“Get down from there, you idiot!” came a
voice breaking into his reverie. Shaking
his head, the sailor carefully, but quickly clambered down the ratlines.
By the time he reached the deck the rains had caught up with the
ship and he was soon drenched. He didn’t mind, though, it was warm and clean, and it
continued to remind him of a place far away, a place he might never see
“You can stand out here all you like, Diego,
but my bones are getting too old for this.
I’m going to my cabin,” an older man shouted over the howling
wind and deafening thunder.
Diego nodded. “I will join you shortly, Mr. Bowman.” He looked up and let the rain beat against his face, hoping that it would purge the blackness that threatened to engulf his soul, remembering the past that had brought all this about….