This is for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names
The seas rolled. He’d extricated himself from his small hammock and climbed out onto the fishing boat’s small deck. Other ships cut through the horizon, large ones…even bigger than the raiders he watched fly their red sails. These sails were not red; he could not tell what color they were in the dark.
His mother worked to pull their own sails into place, movements rushed and frantic. Her eyes widened when she saw him. She called out to him, his name lost in the storm. His father took over the rigging as she rushed to him. One of her words made it past the crash of wind, wave and sail, Slavers.
Other fishers burned like beacons in the distance.
They tried to flee, the sea helping them, catching their small boat and sending it darting through the chaos. But the enemy ships were fast too. It was arrows that took his father, one first to the arm, the second to his chest. His mother took the boat then. Her braids swung around her face as she pulled against the sails, eyes dry and teeth biting her lip until it bled. He was still too small to work the rigging, they’d had a chance with two, but with one…. the large ship caught them. When the first man climbed over their low rail his mother took his head off with her sword. The second lost a hand and was quickly kicked into the sea. But more were coming.
His mother scrambled to him, pulling him to her in a tight embrace. And then she said his name, but it was lost in the storm again. Her arms closed around him, squeezing him and telling him that she loved him. And then she stood, tears finally wetting her eyes, and pushed him over the edge of the fishing boat.
Water filled his lungs as his head went under. He hung, suspended in cold and dark. Shock numbed his mind even as instinct moved his limbs. He broke the surface for a moment. Long enough to cough, long enough to see men crawl over their fishing boat. His mother stood, sword in her hand as the seas rolled the deck under her. Her gaze found him, fury and sorrow flashing in her eyes. Never a slave, she mouthed. The storm brought the words to him even as it stole his name. His mother reversed the blade and drove it into her stomach up through her ribs.
He might have screamed, he did not know, but water again filled his mouth and a crashing wave pulled him under into the dark.
Calder woke in the dark. He breathed out, assuring himself for the moment that he could. The room was the same as always, his sword ready by the blanket’s edge. He let his eyes linger on it too long. His master accounted for all escapes, but he still entertained the hope sometimes.
He stood from the bed, stretching his limbs. Sleep wouldn’t be an option tonight; it never was after that particular dream. Calder labeled it a dream, not a memory. Because even as the storm pulled it away, he knew his mother always called out the wrong name.