Allula sat happily in the shade of the sail. The crew didn’t seem to notice two additions to their crew, so it was easy for Allula and Batic to find uniforms and play sailor. It was a little more difficult for Allula as she had to play the man, but Batic was soon becoming a respected member of the crew. He worked with strength and conviction. Allula watched him closely, recognizing his natural talent for sailing.
She didn’t pay it too much mind, but rest her eyes as she rested in the shade.
“La, it may do you some good to do some work,” Batic noted as he stood before her. He wore the garments of a sailor, showing off his muscular arms. “You cannot expect the rest of the crew will take kindly to your slacking.”
“I may do that,” Allula replied thoughtfully. “Or I might rest my tired arms for later.”
“The reason you grow so tired is because you never do enough exercises,” Batic explained. “Tell me, have you ever had to fight to survive.”
“A few times, but it usually briefly so I can slip under a strike and run.”
Batic stared down at Allula and shook his head. He immediately walked over to Allula and pulled her to her feet.
“You’re going to have to learn then,” Batic told her. “You can’t run away from your problems forever, so you’re going to have to learn to fight them.”
“You’re starting to become one,” Allula muttered grumpily.
“Then fight me, because right now there is nobody for you or I to run,” Batic replied gesturing at the ocean around him. Now Allula understood what he meant.
If she were to be discovered as a woman or as a criminal she would have to fight for her life. Batic would no doubt help her, but he couldn’t do it alone. Still, she felt pressured to fight now as the other sailors overheard the conversation and stood to watch.
Allula readied a fighting stance and already the other sailors began to chuckle.
“You asked for this,” Allula said, playing along with a deeper voice.
She threw a fake strike towards Batic and followed up with a real one. She knew that was a mistake because Batic didn’t even relate to the feint. He could read her movements with ease and held up his hand which absorbed the punch. He readied his stance as well, different from Allula’s, so she replicated and readied for his strike.
What she didn’t expect was a kick, but luckily the stance she now had gave her the advantage. She leaned back from the kick, her right leg holding her weight and followed with a dash forward, punching towards Batic’s stomach. The strike connected and she smiled, but only briefly as pain shot through her arm. The strike may have hit, but it felt like it was connected with rock. She bit back a yell and held her hand.
Batic clutched her shoulders and threw her back. She stared up at him, tears welling in her eyes, but she blinked them away before anyone but Batic noticed. He remained cold and threw a strike she was more familiar with. It was a punch that came from the right, she accepted the pain in her hand, twisted so the arm went past her, clutched it with her right hand and struck back with a back-hand strike with her left.
It was quick and effective, connected with Batic’s jaw and hitting harder than Allula expected. Still, there were many sailors now and she couldn’t stop the act now. Batic grit his teeth and raised a hand in what would have been a devastating strike had he gone through with it, but one of the sailors stopped him with a hiss.
“Quit now, the captain is coming,” the sailor whispered just loud enough for Allula and Batic to hear.
The two immediately relaxed and moved to their stations to manage the ship. Batic and Allula tried not to smile, but were soon beaming as the captain walked past none the wiser.
“You do have some experience, but you’re going to need to choose your strikes,” Batic noted. He gestured towards his sides, his neck and other vulnerable spots. “Some areas have less defense than others, some contain nerve clusters which when struck can cripple a fighter for a moment.”
“I’ll be sure to remember that,” Allula replied tightening rope with a know Batic showed her the first day on the boat. “Do you know where we are heading?”
“I haven’t heard anyone speak of the destination, but we should expect a long journey. I saw the supplies in the pantry and there was even fishing equipment. I believe we are in for a long journey.”
Allula nodded and decided to do work up on the sails. She changed shifts with one of the sailors and immediately climbed the rigging to the first bowm sitting atop and waiting for the first-mate’s orders. As she sat so above everyone else she stared out at the ocean. It seemed to be endless and when she looked back she could no longer see the desert she lived in her whole life.
So much water around her, but she knew none of it was safe to drink. The water was salty and as Batic explained, it was bad to drink, bringing thirst instead of beating it. It was almost a sick joke, but that didn’t bother Allula much. The two had their drink with the rest of the sailors and the damage of the desert had passed. Her biggest difficulty throughout the journey would be keeping the fake beard on.
Batic didn’t know what to expect when they reached land, but he knew that their first port was not to be trusted so much. It was too far for a message to be sent through to the other kingdoms, most likely the captain carried that message and would pass it on. Before this journey reached its end he would have to be rid of the captain.