, 34 tweets, 16 min read
I #linger dockside, watching laborers load ideas into the ship’s hold for their dangerous trip across the astral sea.

Waiting for my opportunity to stow away and sail into the starry night.

I crawl up the rope from the far pier to the ship’s deck and climb over the rail. Glance around quickly, then duck down the stairs to the hold.

My eyes adjust and I see dreams stored neatly for their trip across the sea of night. I’m seeking #haven from nightmares.

Hidden in the hold, I feel the ship move as the ropes let loose. The mystical tide pulls us out to sea. We rise into the night.

The ship begins to pitch and roll, as a #wild psychic storm passes over. The hatch slams shut above me.

The ship’s motion slows. I release my grip on the crate that held me up. The storm has passed on.

I squint as #bright moonlight floods into the black hold.

“You there! How did you get aboard this ship?”

The thump of heavy boots bring a giant shadow down the stairs.

I step out from behind the box of hidden dreams.

“Well, at least you’re not trying to hide. Come up top.”

He turns and I climb the stairs behind him, unsure of what awaits.

“Any who sail the sea of night must be tested, not cower belowdecks. It’s the law, boy.”
“Tested? How?”

“Storm’s coming.”

“Didn’t we just sail through a storm?”

“That was a tiny squall. Smaller than a devil’s fart. Look over there.”

He pointed at great mass of grey clouds, roiled by the wind, lit inside by eldritch lightning.

Headed right for us.

The wind rose, snapping the ship’s gossamer sails.

“This won’t be no storm you’re used to, boy. Here on the sea of night, we face a storm of spirits.”

The clouds drew closer. In the bright moonlight, I could see angry faces, driven berserk by rage and time.

“Don’t we need to drop the sails before the storm hits us?”

I look for the crew, but there’s no-one.

“Aye. You been sailing long?”

He grips the ship’s wheel and lightning crackles across the deck. The #skyline of the masts and sails lights, and the sails drop as one.

The fog of spirits rolled over, each one screaming it’s rage to the wind.

“Grab hold, unless you want to join them.”

I grasp the ship’s rail. “What are they?”

“Souls who died without the chance to #confess. They whirl around here for a while before moving on.”

The spirits whirled around us, spinning the ship every direction. The captain gripped the wheel, ablaze with white fire.

“Good thing you came along to climb the mast and free the #tangled sails.”

“You sail alone?”

“Aye. Usually, it’s just me, dreams, and magic aboard.”
The captain steered the ship into the storm for hours. When it finally passed, the Moon lit all silver.

“Climb up the mast and free the sails.”

I started up the rope ladder.

“Be careful. They’re made of dreams, and you know how #fragile those are when you touch them.”

I carefully untangled the dream-sails. They snapped taut in the ethereal breeze left by the storm.

“I’ll let you off at the next port. You can labor on the docks to earn your way back.”

“No reason to return.”

“Stay aboard then. Good to have help sometimes.”

“Let’s check below.”

We looked around the cargo hold. The storm hadn’t damaged anything down here. We pushed a few crates into place and lashed them down.

A loud scrape along the hull sent us racing up the stairs to see a giant serpent swimming away from the ship.

The sea serpent raised its long body to the surface, then burst into a flock of birds.

“Best get used to it, if you’re to sail the astral seas,” he said, looking at my surprise. “Things change here as fast as sleepers can dream.”

#scifisat #change
Hashtag should be #scifansat
The flock circled and flew off.

“Where are you headed, Captain?”

“Ha! You snuck aboard a ship without knowing its destination. I suppose that’s a sort of bravery,” he said. “We’re off to #Gloaming, a city of sunset, on the shore of this sea of night.”

We sailed due west, towards the sunset.

“We’ll be docked at the port of Gloaming soon, lad. We’ll unload our cargo there.”

“Where will we go next?”

“The first place we’ll go is my mate’s pub. Be helpful to solve the #mystery of your name, so I can introduce you.”

“My name?”

“Can’t be calling you ‘lad’ forever.”

I feel a thought #crystallize : I don’t have to be who I was in my old city. I’m on the sea, with no plan to go back.

“My name is Mar.”

The City of Eternal Sunset glowed red as we sailed to the western shore of the night sea.

“What do you know of ships, besides how to sneak aboard them, Mar?”

He’s going to kick me off the ship, I thought. “Plenty,” I said, “you picked me up in a port. My dad was a sailor.”
“We’ll be in Gloaming for a few weeks. The ship needs repairs.”

“I can help with those.”

“Perhaps you can, and learn something. You can meet my friend. He used to teach at the sailing academy there.”

“Used to?”

“Aye. Retired. He runs a dock pub called The Gull.”

We slide the ship up to the dock and toss ropes down to hands to tie us up.

“The Gull is just up the quay. We’ll find some workers to help unload there.”

Entering the pub, we leave the dim ruddy light of sunset and plunge into darkness and #smoke .

The pub is both #cavernous and close. I can hardly see the back wall in the darkness. After so long aboard, the smoke and noise hurt.

The only light is a ship’s lantern perched above the bar. Below it stands a bald man pouring glasses of rum and gathering coins.

As we enter, the smells of pipe smoke and beer push the fresh sea air back out the door.

“Hab,” the barman half-shouts over the din, “good to see you again. Who’s the lad?”

“This is Mar. He came aboard my ship at the last port.”

“What news from the sea of night?”

“We’ve has quite an adventure sailing from Mar’s home to here, Sev.”

“Well, tell us a story. If it’s a good one, you’ll drink for free.”

“We rose our a spirit storm and I sent Mar up to tie the sails.”

“Psh! Nought to that. Always storms about.”
“Later, a great serpent passed right under the ship,” I said, “it turned, like to devour us, then burst into a flock of birds that flew over the ship and away.”

“Ha! That’s a proper story.”

“Aye. Close enough to scrape the keel. We need a shipwright to make repairs.”

“Hab, if it’s a shipwright you need, town’s best is sitting by the #fire in the Wheelhouse down the quay.”

“You know I can never go there again. I’d be dead before the door closed.”

“Send Mar. Nobody knows him. You need someone with craft to fix a ship like yours.”

“That’s... that might work.”

“What might work?” I asked.

“The Wheelhouse is another pub just down the way. Go and look for a wizard with white hair by the fire.”

“A wizard?”

“Of course, an ordinary ship would be #consumed by the sea of night.”

“Head down t’quay. Turn landward after two streets and the Wheelhouse will be there,” said the barman. “The wizard’ll be by the fire. Tell him Sev from the Gull needs to see him.”

“Don’t mention me or my ship in there.”

“Aye. Bad #blood between Hab and the publican.”

The docks led me to a narrow street. The pub sign was above the door.

A man with white hair sat by a fireplace, facing me as I entered.

“Sir, pardon. Sev, from the Gull, sent me to find you.”

“What does he want?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Clear as a night sea fog, then.”

He stood, then drained his glass and set it on the fireplace mantel.

“Off to the Gull to see what Sev wants, I suppose. There better at least be a beer or two in it for me.”

We left the smoky #darkness of the pub for the clear dim ruddiness of Gloaming’s sky.

Entering the Gull, the mage shouts, “Sev, what news?” Then his tone hardened, “Hab. I see you’re back.”

“Yes, still in command of the Swiftwing.”

“Then it’s repairs you need.”

“There’s coin in it.”

“I don’t need the money. I want a ride across the sea to Glimmer.”

“Serpent broke the keel as it swam under us.”

“Need a look.” The mage removed his coat & shirt. He looked at me. “Know how to swim?”


“Good. You can hold my mage light underwater. This close to shore, nothing should get you.”

I pulled my shirt over my head.

“Arn! You can’t just let Mar swim in the astral sea!”

“Of course not,” said the mage, “I’ll put wards on us.” He got a bottle from his coat and tipped ink onto his finger. He drew symbols on his chest, then the same on me.

“Those will keep the spirits away.”

He drew a mask around my nose and mouth. “These will let us breathe while we take a look at the ship.”

He handed me a stick. He spoke and snapped his fingers. It lit like a torch. “My mage light. Don’t drop it. I don’t fancy diving to the harbor bottom to find it.”

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