After a minute, the ship settled down. It appeared as if the ship survived the time transition. Alexis, Sukki, and Millie immediately went to check the water and food stores. Sukki said out loud that they should have eaten a big meal before the time gate in case the food became inedible. Fortunately, they found the food and water still in good condition, miraculously untainted by sixty years of rot.
“I guess the aura of protection covered the ship and everything in it,” Millie said.
“Good for the horses,” Alexis said, and explained to Sukki. “At least they won’t starve between here and landfall, however many days that may be from here.”
“Oh, good,” Sukki said. “I was afraid you were thinking we might have to eat one of the horses.” Millie looked horrified by the suggestion, but Alexis looked away and shrugged very slightly. That thought did cross her mind.
They moved faster aboard ship than they would have moved walking on land, though not as fast as they might have ridden on horses. The advantage being that they did not have to stop in the night. They slowed a bit more when the favorable wind shifted to the northwest. They had to tack to stay on course. Decker and Lincoln figured out where they were, more or less, in the Mediterranean. They also pulled the spare mast out of the hold and set it in the bow, cutting a lateen sail to help. That took two days to set up, but everyone said it was worth it. Boston kept her elf eyes on the horizon in search for land.
All of the men, plus Sukki and Katie took turns on the tiller. The rudder amounted to no more than a big oar pushed out the back of the ship. It did not turn the ship very fast, and took some real strength to move it, being heavy in the water; but keeping the ship straight on seemed easy enough.
Lockhart found shovels and buckets, and got Wallace to help him keep the ship relatively clean of horse manure. Katie, Boston, and Alexis took the unused portion of the spare sail to make curtains. They made places in the bow, port and starboard, where the men and women could relieve themselves with some privacy. Lockhart asked why they built the bathrooms in the front of the boat rather than the rear, which he thought would make more sense—to leave all that stink behind them.
“Because the wind is blowing more or less forward faster than we are moving,” Katie explained. “We want anything smelly as far forward as possible.”
Lockhart nodded, even if he did not quite understand.
On the third day, Lincoln began to play music from the database, to relieve the boredom. He stayed with classical music so as not to disturb the group from 1905, but he did sneak in a couple hours of Christmas music over supper; hymns as well as Santa music. That actually made everyone feel remarkably better.
On the fourth day, the sky began to cloud over. Several people saw the red sky that morning, but no one said anything. Boston stayed in front most of the time, and she was the first to spot their visitors, and shout.
People rushed to the starboard side, to watched as the dolphins breached the water and dove back into the deep. It temporarily stayed their worry about the oncoming storm.
Boston got a surprise when one of the dolphins came up to the front of the ship and grabbed on while Boston looked down into the sea. It wasn’t a dolphin at all, but a girl, and a rather pretty one at that.
“Hi, I’m Galatea,” the girl said. “We met once, I think. Ages ago.” She did not look too certain.
“Are you a mermaid?”
“I’m a nereid. My father Nereus sent me to check on you, though I am not sure what I am supposed to be checking.”
“Maybe he wants to make sure we stay safe in the oncoming storm,” Boston suggested.
“Yes,” Galatea said. “That could be it. Bye.” She vanished.
“Wait,” Boston shouted, but it was too late. It began to drizzle. After an hour, the dolphins left. Another hour, and the sky turned dark as night, the storm broke, and Lockhart, at the tiller, shouted, thinking Boston might be the only one to hear him.
“Boston. Make sure everyone gets tied down, then get with Sukki, Elder Stow, Alexis and Lincoln down with the horses. Be careful, but try to keep them as calm as you can.”
“Right, Boss,” Boston said, directing her voice to Lockhart’s ears. As an elf, Boston could make herself heard.
Decker came up and tied himself next to Lockhart on the tiller. Katie stayed with them, and kept her amulet available. Her prototype amulet could only point to the next time gate, but she imagined she might keep them pointed in the right direction.
The sky turned dark as night, and the waves rose up and seemed to want to swamp the ship. They furiously crashed over the sides, and Evan and Wallace helped Millie make a dash for down below. Being tied to the ship would have kept them from being washed overboard, but they could drown in the waves all the same.
Shortly, the ship began to spin as the waves pushed the speck of wood in every direction. The planking creaked and moaned, sounding like it might be ripped apart at any moment. With Millie, Evan, and Wallace there to help with the horses, once they got tied, Boston thought to return to the bow to see what she might see through the gloom.
Boston took a second to tie herself to the railing, then she gripped the railing with both hands, and gripped her boots with her toes. She did not stand long before she shouted.
Decker and Lockhart did not question the command. They pushed the rudder as hard over as they could. Something cracked loud enough to hear over the storm. The rudder broke off in the water. Decker fell to the deck, face first. Katie grabbed Lockhart to keep him from falling overboard and dangling from the stern on his rope line. Then they heard the crunching sound amidships.
The rocks punched a big hole in the side of the ship. None of the people got washed out, but Boston’s horse, Honey, and Lockhart’s horse, Dog, ended up in the sea where they began to swim for their lives. The ship started to sink.
Up front, Boston got distracted when Galatea, on two feet rather than in her mermaid’s tail, appeared beside her and asked a question.
“Is this a bad storm?”
Boston bit her tongue rather than say, “Well, it isn’t a good one.” What she said was, “Do you think your dad could help us get to safety?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “The Phoenician sea god, Yam, is making sure no Greek ships get to Lilybae.”
“Maybe he could help us reach a shore that isn’t Lilybae?” Boston asked, with all the desperation she felt. She did not know what was going on down below where the hold was flooding, but she imagined terrible things. Fortunately, two things happened at once.
A young man appeared and said, “I can help with that. Yam is a moron. He never even looked to see who was on this ship. Triton,” he introduced himself.
“Galatea,” she reciprocated and shook Triton’s hand, as if her nephew did not know her.
Before Boston could offer her name, the rain stopped, suddenly. Even Triton and Galatea appeared surprised. They noticed it still rained all around, but the rain no longer reached the ship. Elder Stow switched on his screens. They surrounded the ship like a big globe, picking up plenty of water, and possibly some fish down below, but trapping some air above like a bubble that would keep things afloat, and keep the people and horses from drowning. Of course, the ship continued to sink until it rested on the bottom of the screens, but the people brought the horses up to the deck which got covered with about an inch of water. They also carried up the weapons, and as much of the equipment and saddles they could carry. Those who knew a little, prayed that the ship would remain upright.
“The thing is,” Elder Stow told Lincoln and the others as they went up-top. “I don’t know what to do from here. My personal flotation device is not strong enough to move this whole ship with all the water we are carrying to a shoreline, even a nearby shore.”
“I can help with that,” Triton repeated himself. The rain began to pound against the screen. A stroke of lightning hit the screen and lit up the sky. It did not penetrate, and the globe of force holding the ship, the air, the water below, and the travelers began to rise in the storm, up to several dozen yards above the sea. The fury of the storm paused when the ship began to fly to the nearest shore.
“Father is talking to Yam,” Galatea said, and grinned a very blonde grin.
“Yam is an idiot,” Triton said, and avoided saying the same about his Aunt Galatea. “His lady, Athirat, is hot, though. I don’t know why all the hot women end up with idiots. Aunt Galatea has had her share over the years.”
Galatea stood, looking the part of the innocent, dumb blonde.
“Athirat? Asherah?” Evan asked, not knowing their visitor, and thinking they moved through the air because of some miraculous gadget of Elder Stow.
“She who walks on the water,” Triton nodded. “And Yam needs someone to walk on him.”
“Asherah is what the Canaanites call her,” Katie said, as she, Lockhart, and Decker walked up from the stern. “Mother of the gods, though really her mother, Tiamut, filled that role, and Astarte to some extent. Mother of all the living, which is the same title given to Eve, as in Adam and Eve, and to Hebat, and others.”
“That’s the one,” Triton said with a nod, and roared. People held their ears, as the ship landed on a shoreline. Triton disappeared. Galatea still grinned before she spoke.
“Triton is so loud. I don’t know if he can say hello without shouting.” she shrugged, and also vanished.
It took a moment for Elder Stow to turn off his screens, but when he did, the ship thumped to the ground. The deck drained of its inch of water. As the water rushed over the gunwale, it also drained rapidly through the hole in the hold, and the water picked up by the screens raced back into the sea. The sky only drizzled at that point, but people got too busy to notice. They, and the horses, had to rush to solid ground as the ship moaned and slowly tilted on its side. It would not stay upright resting only on the keel.