The Far Sea: Chapter 59

ALL large Hyrulian ships carried dinghies or skiffs: small, fast, easily maneuverable craft that could land on beaches where the larger ships would run aground. The Golden Queen was no exception. Tucked away in one corner of the hold were four tubby sailing boats, just about big enough for two people to handle comfortably. One of these was winched up with a great deal of cursing and swearing, and went over the side in a great fountain of spray. When the mist cleared it was rocking happily in the shadow of the bigger ship's tall flank, a baby whale beside its mother. A rope was cast around the prow to tether it.

The four of them stood on the main deck to watch the launch of the little boat. Link was allowed to take one person with him. The question was, who?

"No," Dark said.

"Oh, come on."

"Take Sofia! I will not go!"

"Just around one of the bigger islands," Link said, grinning. He played his master card. "Don't you want to stand on solid ground again?"

"Not if it means getting into that!"

The sailors were paying out a thin rope ladder. Link leaned over the side for a moment to watch the slender cord go down. "Come with me," he said. "It will be good for you. If you know how to handle a small boat, you'll be more comfortable on a big one!"

"Oh, go with him," Zelda said, laughing.

"I said no!"



The rope ladder swung back and forth against the side of the ship, its frayed ends lightly washing in the water. The sea was calm. Link climbed down quickly, agile as a monkey, and leaped across from the bottom rung into the boat, which rocked madly before settling down beneath him. He ducked the boom and reached up to untie the sail where it was wrapped around the mast, liking this little boat already. He had had one much like it when he had been a child.

"Hurry up!" he called, waving up at the great ship. Dark stood at the side, staring down with a face like a cold mask. There was no expression at all that Link could see beneath that hooded cowl. Slowly the shadow reached over and took hold of the rope ladder. He sat on the rail and swung his legs over, fumbling for a moment before finding the ladder with his feet. The rope rungs did not dip in the slightest. Link watched his friend climb down, and blinked, feeling as if his eyes were betraying him; why did the ladder not sway? Of course, he thought after a moment, he has no weight.

He pulled the rope attached to the prow, taking the little boat right in against the ship's flank. Dark looked down and saw him below, and jumped down the last few feet, landing with a light click of bootheels and rustle of his clothing. The boat did not rock. From above there was a scatter of sarcastic applause.

"See?" Link said, smiling. "Easy."

"Hey!" The girls were waving at them from above. "Hey!" Zelda shouted again. She threw something down, and Link jumped up and caught it before it dropped into the water beside the boat. It was a leather bag; when he loosed the drawstrings he saw wrapped sweet cakes and a small round flask. He grinned and waved his thanks. "Don't stay out there too long!" the Princess called. Sofia nudged her and whispered something into her ear which Link did not quite manage to hear; Zelda turned and hit the other girl on the shoulder and they play-fought for a moment. Sofia danced away and Zelda shook her fist at her.

Dark laughed.

"What?" Link said, frowning. "What was that?"

The shadow smiled. "She said that you had better be back before nightfall, or Zelda might not sleep so easy."

Link groaned. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he shouted up: "Sofia, I'll get you for that!" The Gerudo popped her head over the side of the ship and blew him a kiss.

Grinning wryly and shaking his head, he picked up a pair of stout wooden oars and slid them into the rowlocks, then dipped them into the clear water. With a few quick strong strokes he had pulled the little boat away from the shadow of the ship, out into the bright sunlight. It slid smoothly across the still sea. The girls waved at them, hopping up and down behind the main-deck rail.

Dark sat hunched at the other end of the little boat, eyes half closed beneath the hood of his cloak. "I regret agreeing to this already. You should have taken one of them. They would be happy to go."

"Oh, come on." Link pulled the oars back into the boat and stood to unfurl the sail. "You might have been able to get away with that act before Yule, but your mask is cracking now. Give it a chance and you'll probably enjoy it!" He had the sail out now; it flapped in the breeze, and he swung the boom round with his hand. "Fix that for me, will you?"

"Fix what?"

Link grinned, and pointed to the end of the boom. "See the ring there? Tie the sail to that. And then you take that rope and pull it round that hook on the stern. Not too tight--the boom needs to swing a little. Then the wind catches it, and we're off!"


"Mast," he said, touching the representative item. "Boom. Prow, stern, bilge. Left is port and right is starboard. See?"

"I think so." Dark took the rope and looped it hesitantly around the hook.

"Tighter," Link said. "Now, beside you is the tiller--yes, that thing. Push it right, we go left. Push it left, we go right. Move it left now--not too much, just a little. We want to come round until we're heading for the island. Oh, and watch out for the boom," as it swung round dangerously. Dark fended it off with his free hand. Link grinned and leaned forward, watching the prow come slowly round until they were facing the first of the islands. The wind caught the sail. "That's it, now leave off. See? Boats are easy!"

"For you, maybe," Dark said. The sun sparkled brightly on the water; he pulled his cloak about him and lifted a hand to shield his eyes. "Sofia would have come with you willingly if you had asked. Why did you not?"

"Because I thought you should come. You don't like the ship. I thought you might like to get off it for a while."

"I don't like the sea."

Link sighed. "Well, we are stuck here now," he said. "Until we find the Zoras--then we can go back home." He leaned forward again, shading his eyes. "We're drifting--there must be a current. Bear left a little." The boat swung. "No, I mean pull the tiller right, so we go left. Look out for the boom!"

"You should be doing this," Dark muttered. "I know nothing of boats."

Link ignored this. He turned his head into the wind; they were getting up quite a speed now, skimming over the wave crests. The wind was strong, blowing directly towards the chain of islands. He looked back for a moment, brushing his flying hair back from his face, and saw the big ship riding easy in the calm sea, growing smaller swiftly as they sped from it. He could no longer make out the girls on the main-deck; perhaps they had gone inside, or perhaps his eyesight was simply not acute enough to pick out their faces among others. He turned his head again to look forward, making sure that their course was clear; they were coming close to the first of the rocky islets now and he was alert for the dangers that might lurk just beneath the water surface. "Steady now," he said. "Bear left a little more. There might be rocks, and we do not want to knock a hole in the bottom." Dark said nothing. Link glanced at him for a moment to make sure he was okay; he was frowning in concentration, one hand resting lightly on the tiller.

Not so bad as you thought, is it? Link thought, and smiled to himself. He turned back to watch the islands growing closer.

"How will we get back to the ship?" Dark asked suddenly. "The wind blows only one way."

"We tack," Link said. "Steer back and forth through the wind. It's not hard!" The boat bounced over a wave-crest and spray splashed in. "Whoops," he grinned, brushing at his sleeve. "Keep her steady. Bear right now."

Ahead of them, two islands stood side by side with a long curving channel stretching between. The nearest island was bare and rocky, without any feature of interest; it was the further one that Link was curious to see closer. It was about three miles long as he guessed, with a long curved line of gray sand for a beach; above that, grassy slopes stretched up to a bare crown dotted here and there with straggly-looking trees. As they came closer he shaded his eyes and made out white dots on the slopes, and knew what they were. Sheep. The island was inhabited.

"Steady," he said again. The little boat rocked between the wave crests and he leaned with the motion, gazing towards the island. The quest was forgotten; he was in Calatia once more, and it was a fine spring day to be out sailing. "I wish we'd brought a line or two," he said.

"You want to fish?" Dark asked, sounding astonished.

"Why not?" He grinned. "With a longline it's the easiest thing in the world--you just drop it off the side and wait. I don't suppose you've ever been fishing, either."

The shadow was silent for a long while. "I have once," he said finally. "With a rod and line. It was a long time ago."

"Really?" Link said, surprised.

They were in the channel now, running between the low islands. Link peered ahead at the larger one, looking at the meager strip of pebbly beach. He was unsure where to land; he wanted a good wide beach so that they could pull their boat up. In places, though, the shore was nothing but jagged-edged rocks. "This is a miserable sort of place," he said, "right out in the middle of nowhere. I wonder who would choose to live here?" Then, just as the words left his mouth, he saw the hut. It was squat and low, apparently half buried in the ground; it lay in a natural cleft of the hillside, just above a round little curve of beach flanked by cliffs. Sheep grazed nearby; and there was a boat, a small clinker-built rowboat, pulled up at the edge of the beach. "There!" he said in excitement. "Bear right now! We'll land there!"

The hull ground suddenly on sand. Link hopped out and landed thigh-deep in icy water; there was no jetty. He grabbed the prow and started to haul their little boat up onto the beach. "Help me," he said, puffing, "it's too heavy for one. Can you get behind it and push?"

Dark jumped out and landed with a splash in the water. He looked surprised, then frightened, and grabbed hold of the side of the boat, stumbling. "My legs feel strange," he said. "I cannot... the ground feels..." He shook his head wordlessly.

"It'll go off in a minute or two," Link said, laughing.

Together they got the skiff up out of the water, and then higher, until it rested next to the other boat above the tideline, leaning at a crazy, ungraceful angle with the sail limp and the boom drooping listlessly to the ground. Out of water it looked an ungainly thing. Link leaned on it to get his breath back. "Well?" he said, glancing up with a smile. "Solid ground, just as I promised. Are you happy?"

"Mmm." Dark was uninterested in conversation. He was examining the other boat, walking around it, reaching out one hand to touch the dark unpainted wood. "Link," he said quietly, "look at this."

"What?" He jumped off their boat and came over. "What about it?"

"This boat... it is old. Old and rotten." Dark pulled off a splintered piece from the prow and showed it to him; it peeled away easily, like soft bark. He broke it easily in his two hands and then threw it away into the bristling dune-grass behind them.

Link stared at him for a moment, then bent close to take a better look at the little boat. The planks were coming apart at the seams; it had not been caulked for a long time, years and years perhaps. When he looked inside, dune-grass had sprouted up between the boards. A plover had built a nest beneath one of the seats; this too was old and abandoned, fallen to pieces, with feathery fluff and splintered bits of eggshell still lying in and around it.

"That's odd," he said, and raised his head. Dark stood a little way away, looking up towards the house they had seen. Link followed his stare. Now that they were onshore, he could see that the grass that had looked so neat and flat was not so; shrubs and small trees were growing up around the little building, and there was grass sprouting here and there on its roof. The path leading up from the beach was nearly overgrown with brambles. Link bit his lip as he began to understand. "Come on," he said quietly. He went back to their own boat and took the bag Zelda had given him; he slung it over one shoulder by the drawstring. "We might as well take a look inside, since we are here."

"I do not think, somehow, that we shall find anyone," Dark said.

Link paused at the top of the beach. "Are you coming, or will you stay here?"

The black-faced sheep looked at them curiously as they trudged up the steep path, their legs breaking through knotted grasses. Link saw that the animals were scruffy and almost overgrown themselves with thick stained coats of untrimmed winter wool. Shreds of wool were caught on the thorny bushes beside the path. Link stopped walking when one fat ewe wandered right up to him, a wobbly-legged young one stumbling beside her. He knew sheep. These were not behaving in the expected fashion. The lamb could only have been a few days old--yet the mother showed no distress when he reached out to touch her little one. "They aren't afraid," he said, glancing at Dark. "Why don't they run away?"

"I do not think that they have ever seen people," the shadow said quietly.

"These are domestic animals," Link insisted. "I even recognise the breed--they're Lomere Hills, or something similar. There were sheep like this in Calatia." The ewe bleated at him in a low baritone and nibbled at his fingers; he pulled them away quickly. More sheep were trotting towards them now, shuffling through the long grass, fascinated by the strange new visitors in their world.

"Look at them, Link," Dark said. "Have they ever been shorn? Look at the broken-down boat, look at the house, and then tell me that anyone has been here in fifty years."

Link swore. Dark was right--he hated to admit it, but it was so.



The door was closed, but not locked; and it hung from one leather hinge, the other having come undone. Link pushed it open carefully and it scraped on a hard packed earthen floor, digging up a little furrow of dirt with its corner. Everything was made with bits of mismatched wood, some of it old, some of it stained different colours, some of it curved like the spars of boats. He stepped inside.

He had seen dwellings like this before; people built them on some of Calatia's most exposed islands, where the wind would batter at normal above-ground buildings. The house was partly dug into the ground, so that only the roof and a couple of feet of wall showed from the beach. It had three walls of wood and one of earth: at one side it was flush against the steep slope of the ground, nestled into the hillside. A crude window in the sea-facing wall had been made with the scraped and thinly stretched hide of some animal; it let in light but nothing more. There was a table made from more wood lashed together or held with wooden pegs, and a low stool of similar construction; lying in the corner in an open leather bag were a few metal tools, worn thin with use and now hopelessly rusted. A knife lying on the table had rusted so much that little more than the wooden handle was left, that and a lacy construction of brown oxide, and a thick dark pasty stain on the wood where the blade had been.

A hole had been dug in the wall, on the opposite side of the room to the table; there was a depression in the floor here, and the ancient ashy remnants of a fire. Black smoke had stained the earthen wall above it. There were a few clay pots stacked nearby, crude, ugly things lumped together by hand and poorly fired. One had been broken and patched together again with more damp clay. He picked it up and found a brownish gritty deposit in the bottom: water had been stored here, and had evaporated slowly over time.

"Everything is made from driftwood," Dark said, "or things found here on the island. And there is only one of everything. One table. One chair."

"A shipwreck, do you think?" Link asked.

Dark looked at him for a moment, and then walked down the length of the room. A curtain of sewn hides, cracking with age, cut the little house into two rooms, a large and a small. He pulled the curtain aside and stepped through, then paused there in the opening, holding the curtain back. "Here," he said quietly. Link ducked beneath his arm and stepped through.

The room beyond was a bedroom. There was another window made of hide, and the weakly filtered golden light fell onto a low wooden pallet. A crude mattress had been made of wool piled together and tied with twine, and the ragged stitched-together remnants of blankets lay on top of it. Something else lay there too. There was no smell; it was too old and dry for that. There was long white hair and a ragged brown shirt. The patchwork blanket covered the rest, and for that Link was grateful. He felt no horror, just an overwhelming sadness. Details struck him--like the wooden sandals lying neatly beside the bed, like the rough woollen shirt folded on the little table nearby, like the little collection of feathers in an old clay mug. He closed his eyes and swore softly, then shook his head.

There was a rustling noise as the curtain fell back into place. Dark had seen something beneath the bed; he knelt and drew it out. It was a big leather-bound book, its pages yellowed with age and crinkled as if they had been wetted and then dried again. He held it out wordlessly. Link took it and laid it on the dusty table, in the light from the window; he opened it and looked at the old scrawling script. "It's a ship's log," he said. "At least at first." He leafed through pages and came to a different section, neatly ruled off and written in a different, spikier hand. The ink changed then, became an odd faded shade of green, difficult to make out. He frowned and tilted the pages into the light. "Then it becomes a journal, I think. There are dates. The last, October 2618. That would be--"

"Eighty-six years ago," Dark said.

Link was silent. The journal pages rambled, full of ship sightings real and imagined. He thought of the man, shipwrecked here on this remote island. Perhaps the sheep were refugees from the same sunken ship, once bound for the Isles of the Winds as he and his companions were themselves. Perhaps the man had been the captain of that ship. However he had come here, here he had been trapped, hundreds of miles from the mainland with nothing but a little rowboat. How long had it taken for hope to fade? At some point he had given up taking care of his boat, and had left it on the beach to rot. He had carved out a solitary life for himself with what little the island had had to offer; he had grown old here, and he had died here alone when the winters became too harsh for his old bones.

He sighed and closed the book, then laid it gently down on the table. "Let's go," he said. "There is nothing here for us."



They did not go straight back down to the shore; Link led the way upwards instead, wanting to take a look around from the top of the hill. The curious sheep kept pace with them as they climbed, toiling up the steep slope side by side. It was fiercely windy and Link shivered despite the warm sunlight; his hair whipped about his face and got in his eyes. He was continually scraping it back. Dark held his cloak tight around himself.

There was a straggly little belt of woodland near the top, and a little freshwater spring running down through it; they went up past the stream, climbing over scrubby bushes that pulled snags in their clothing. Then they were out in the brilliant sunlight, and the wind was beating at their backs. Link stood tall and looked down over the far side of the island; it descended sharply in crags and cliffs to a foaming sea. Gulls wheeled and screamed below. He felt an uncharacteristic rush of vertigo and stepped back quickly, then lifted his head to look out across the further expanse of ocean. He could see the rest of the islands dotted about beyond; none were as large or as fertile as this. Most were little more than gray rocks dotted with flowerlike lichens and spattered with the white guano of the gulls--there were thousands upon thousands of gulls here.

Gulls and sheep...

"Imagine being shipwrecked in a place like this," he said. "Farore! I'd build a raft and take my chances on the sea!"

"It is not a very inviting place, certainly," Dark said.

"That's an understatement." He stared down at the wheeling gulls. "I wish I knew who he was. He never wrote his name in his journal."

"Why?" Dark looked at him in surprise. "What does it matter? He is dead."

"That's what I mean," Link said softly. "Nobody knew he was here. He should have had a grave. He should have had something to mark who he was and where he died. Something to remember him..." Dark was smiling. "What? What are you laughing at?"

"You." Dark raised one eyebrow. "I never imagined you as a romantic."

"Oh... you're just heartless." Link sighed again and then stretched, swinging his arms. He tore himself away from the view. "I suppose we should go back to the ship," he said. "There is nothing else for us here. What a waste of time."

"Not entirely," Dark said. "It got us off that cursed ship for a while, at least."

"So you're glad you came?" Link asked with a grin.

Dark shrugged, then glanced back down the slope, towards their boat and the channel through which they had come. He stiffened. "Link, the ship."


"Is that not the ship?"

Link turned and saw: on the horizon there was a familiar shape made small by distance. It was a three-decked frigate under sail, passing swiftly away to the east. His jaw dropped. "What in Farore's name..?" They stared at the ship, and then back at each other. "It can't be," Link said numbly. "It must be another ship."

"Where is our ship then?"

He looked again, and swore viciously. There was no other ship in all the encircling sea. The frigate vanishing now into the east had to be the Golden Queen. He frowned and stood on tiptoe, shading his eyes.

"What is it?" Dark asked. His tone was calm, but there was an undercurrent of fear.

"I don't know." Link squinted, trying to cut down on the glare; the sunlight was hot on the sea. "I think there is something in the air around it... no, there are several things. Circling. Too big to be gulls. I think... there is fighting..."

"How can you see all that?"

"Can't you?"

"The light is too bright; I am half blinded by it. I see only shadows on the water."

"Well, take it from me," Link said, "there's some sort of struggle. Not that that helps us--they are still leaving." He felt a sudden chill. "Pirates?" he said out loud, and laughed the next moment at the very sound of the word. It was ridiculous. Pirates, in this day and age? But then... this was not the safe little lake he knew. This was the open sea. He swore as all mirth left him. "Come on," he said, and began to run down the steep hill towards the beach. Dark followed; they slipped and slid down the grassy slopes, nearly tripping more than once in their haste. Sheep trotted bleating out of their way. They ran down past the driftwood house and out onto the pebbled beach; Link went straight to their boat and set his shoulder against it, heaving it down towards the water. His boots dug furrows in the shingle. Dark joined him. Together they pushed the skiff into the water and scrambled up into it. Link grabbed the oars and rowed hard, pulling them out into the channel; Dark turned the tiller without having to be told, guiding them out into deeper water. The wind caught the sail and they began to fly through between the islands, skimming over the waves and leaving a foaming wake. At least the wind was with them; the ship was going east too.

"Will we catch them?" Dark asked.

"I don't know," Link said grimly.

"What happens if we do catch them?"

"I don't know. But I'm going to do my best to do so." He leaned forward. The bulk of the islands had blocked their view of the ship; now, they shot out of the far end of the channel and out onto the open sea. Immediately the water became rougher, the waves wilder. The boat started to buck. "Turn her to port a little," he said.


"Left. Go left."

Ordinarily a small boat would have no chance of catching up with a ship. He was banking on their little dinghy being so light and maneuverable; they were unladen and could skim across the crests of the waves. Then, too, the Golden Queen had lost her foremast in the storm; that slowed her down. And it would take her a while to get going. But once she got the wind full in her sails, and had built up momentum, she could swiftly outdistance them. It depended on whether she was going straight before the wind or no. He patted the prow. "Come on, little boat," he muttered. "You can do it." And they were closing--they were! He could see the strange circling specks more clearly now; they were kargarocs, as he had expected. They could hardly have been anything else.

They sailed on, closing slowly. Now the great ship was only half a mile or so away from them. They were racing on a slant to intercept its course. Link's whole body was tense as a taut spring as he half-stood, leaning forward on the prow. He touched the hilt of his sword with one hand, reminding himself of its presence. Then the Golden Queen began to turn, ponderous as a whale, nosing around into the wind. Link swore. "No!" he shouted, seeing what was coming. The great sails flapped and billowed, filling out. The ship strained and began to hiss in the water; white spray foamed up around the prow that dipped and rose, rocking through the swelling water. Now their little dinghy was directly behind, a quarter of a mile back, and they were looking at the Golden Queen's massive rounded stern pitching up and down. The dinghy slid on through settling foam.

The wind filled the Golden Queen's sails. The frigate was putting on speed, wallowing through the water; their little dinghy bounced and rocked in its wake. Their own sail was taut, but they were too low in the water, and simply too small, to get up a similar turn of speed; and the disturbed water slowed them down as they sailed up the ship's wake. The frigate, and its accompanying fliers, were retreating swiftly before them now.

Only when they were no more than specks in the water did Link give up. He swore and hit the edge of the boat with the flat of his hand, as hard as he could. The pain soothed him a little, so he did it again, harder and harder, until the little skiff was rocking and Dark caught at his arm and stopped him. "Don't. This does no good."

He cursed bitterly. "Now what?"

"You are the sailor," Dark said, "you tell me."

Link sat down hard, rocking the boat. He fought against panic. They were alone on the sea, four hundred miles each way from civilisation, and they had nothing with them--nothing at all, except the little bottle of water and the parcel of sweet cakes that Zelda had thrown to him. He knew how far that would get them. Well, him, anyway; Dark would need none.

"We'll turn around," he said softly. "Go back to the island. There's fresh water there, at least. I can go on for a while without food but I must have water. Perhaps we can make containers somehow. The old man had clay jars; he must have made them there."

"You want to go back there?"

"No, I do not! But I don't see anything else to do. We can't catch them. Not in this little boat."



The islands lay on the horizon, misty with distance and alight with the flame of the late afternoon sun. It was hard and even painful sailing back against the strong wind; Link had to stare into that glaring light in order to guide the boat, and his eyes were soon stinging and running with tears. They tacked back and forth repetitively, fighting their way back the way they had come. It was slow work. Slowly the sky began to darken in the east; the sun was a ball of orange flame settling over the islands, and they seemed hardly to be any closer than before. Link began to feel a new fear. He had no compass. If they could not get close enough by nightfall, he would not be able to see the islands well enough to navigate to them. "Dark?" he asked. "You can see in the dark, can't you?"

Hesitation. "Not exactly," Dark said. "I hear things. I smell things. I cannot see in darkness."

"We have to get back to the island," Link said fiercely. "We have to."

"I know."

"Farore, what's happened? Why did they leave us?" He closed his eyes and bent his head for a moment, trying not to feel terror creeping up inside him. It continued to grow darker. Now the sun was directly above their island, blazing down into the water; Link could barely see where they were headed, and the swell was strong so that their boat rocked up and down, rolling over each wave as it came.

They were creeping back across the expanse, closing the distance--but slowly, so very slowly. Now the sun was sinking below the water; half of its disk was obscured, then three quarters. The orange faded; lilac became royal blue and then darker, navy blue. At last the last bead of flame faded and they were alone in a twilight world of water. The little boat bounced and rocked in the waves; the boom swung crazily back and forth. The wind was ever against them. "Turn to starboard," Link said wearily, and Dark obediently moved the tiller; the little boat swung round. For five minutes they seemed not to move. "Back to port now." Again the same... He stared forward. There was only a faint golden glow in the sky around the islands now; clouds were faintly lighter blue against the darkness. If anything, they seemed to be further away than before. When he looked down at himself, he had momentary trouble making out his own hands where they rested on the white painted wood. Dark was a silhouette--nothing but glowing eyes.

"Link?" Dark said softly. "It is... The waves are getting high."

"I know," Link answered. He felt dead inside.

"Is there anything we can do?"


After a while he reached up and untied the sail. Dark sat quietly and said nothing as Link wrapped it up around the mast and tied it there. There was no appreciable change in the motion of the boat. The wind slapped at their faces; spray stung their eyes. The little boat rolled up over waves and down the other side. They were not the pleasant rocking waves Link knew from his lake at home; these were great heavy swells, heaves of water that flung them back and forth inside their boat. It was nearly full dark now. He could no longer see the island at all. He was thirsty too. He thought of the bottle of water and then decided it would be best to save it. He became angry at himself for thinking that; it felt like an admission of failure.

The waves became bigger. Sometimes they broke against the side and showered the boat. Link began to bail with his cupped hands. Dark did the same. Neither of them spoke. They bent and flung water out repetitively until their backs ached, and then they went on doing it. Link began to feel vastly tired; he could not seem to stop yawning. Once he looked up and saw Dark doing it too.

"Are you all right?" he asked, surprised; he knew the shadow did not sleep.

Dark looked at him, blinking. "Yes." He sounded a little puzzled. "I... feel... It is strange."

"I'm so tired," Link said heavily. He yawned again, pressing his hands to his mouth to try and stifle the yawn. The boat bounced sidelong off a wave and spun round, and he grabbed at the sides, nearly overbalancing and falling headlong into the sloshing bilge. "Something's wrong," he said, trying to wake himself up. He reached down and dipped his hand in the three or four inches of chilly salt water pooled in the bottom of the boat; he scooped up some and splashed his face. The thick drowsiness receded a little. He shook his head hard. "Dark?" The shadow's eyes were half closed, crimson slits gleaming faintly. "Dark," he said again, urgently, and reached out to touch his shoulder. "Wake up."

Dark roused himself slowly. "What is happening?" he asked, rubbing at his eyes.

"I don't know," Link said, "but we must not go to sleep!"

"I cannot... I am so..." His eyes slid closed, opened halfway for a moment, then closed again. He reached out and clutched at the sides of the boat for a moment with both hands, then his fingers loosed their grip. Slowly he slid forward and toppled into the bilge. Link swore and reached down for the damp black wool of Dark's cloak, intending to pull his companion up. But somehow or other he found himself down there with him, his aching head resting on a triple fold of the cloak. The thick wool was as good as a pillow. It was so restful...



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