Here is a little unedited piece of the upcoming sequel to The Gecko's Gate...
The sail billowed and the wooden deck planks creaked as the boat surged forward on the calm of the eastern sea. The companions could taste the salt in the breezes as the sun reflected off the clear waters. The wind was steady but light, a beautiful day for sailing.
Kiko watched over the side as vast coral reefs went past below, the water so crystal clear that she could see every detail, and her eyes shone in wonder. Fish, both large and small, in every colour of the rainbow swam alongside the boat curiously. It suddenly became obvious to Kiko why the fishing city of Patima was painted with such bright colours.
Chase and Jonas stood at the bow, watching the horizon, and the crew was at ease. The toad fisherman checked the sail rigging, and stowed away nets while the boat captain manned the large wheel near the stern. He occasionally hollered orders to members of his crew, which would send one or perhaps two of the toads to quickly check on something, or adjust the sail.
As Kiko watched, one of the crew stepped up beside her and cast a long line with a baited hook off the side of the boat, wheeling it out by hand until she could no longer see it behind them. He sat on a barrel next to her, holding the line wrapped around a thick, short stick. He simply sat and waited. Kiko smiled, wondering if he would catch anything.
Just then, amid the calm peaceful motion of the boat, the Captain broke into song in a thick hearty voice...
On we go across the sea,
To fish and bring our catch to thee.
We fish for fish, we fish for whales,
So we come home with many tales.
The other crew instantly joined in, until a dozen toad voices rang out in a joyful chorus…
Oh, we fish and sail, we fish and sail,
Till we come home through the gale.
We fish and sail, we fish and sail,
Till we come home with many a tale...
The three friends laughed just as heartily as the crew as they finished their song, and Chase felt his spirits lift slightly, that for the first time, maybe they could accomplish this mission after all. His thoughts were interrupted by some sort of commotion along the side of the ship.
The toad sitting next to Kiko let out a holler as he jumped up off the barrel he was sitting on, straining to keep hold of his fishing line. Kiko's eyes brightened in surprise.
"You've got one?" she asked excitedly.
"Aye lass!" he exclaimed. "Give us a hand!"
She jumped forward, helping grab the line and pull it in with the fisherman. It was heavy, and each time they pulled another arm length of line in, Kiko could feel it quivering with the fight of a fish. It took several minutes to get whatever had taken the bait up alongside the boat. The toad suddenly grabbed a long pole with a hook on it from beside him on the deck and leaned over the side while Kiko continued to pull the line. He reached down, fiddling with the pole in the water. Kiko was back away from the side, and suddenly heard splashing as she held on tightly. Moments later, the fisherman heaved on the pole, bringing a large red flopping fish up onto the deck with a wet 'thud'. It was enormous, at least to Kiko.
"Aha!" yelled the Captain. "Thar be dinner tonight!"
Kiko smiled wide as she looked up at Chase and Jonas and the others. They all clapped, laughing and cheering. She turned back to look in wonder at the large red fish, still flopping around feebly, spattering water all over the deck. The fisherman quickly grabbed it by the gill, and hauled it back to a hatch in the deck. Throwing it open, Kiko could see that it was a compartment filled with ice. The toad then hefted the huge fish in and shut the hatch.
Things settled for a while, the crew going about their duties, and Kiko joined Chase and Jonas at the bow of the ship.
“So, good with a bow AND a fishing line! We’ll never go hungry again!” said Jonas with a smirk, elbowing Chase.
“And I guess with YOU around, we’ll never be short of laughs!” Kiko shot back, grinning.
Their conversation was ended with another yell from the Captain.
The three friends turned forward, seeing a massive mist-shrouded island coming slowly into view. Just looking at it gave them all a slight chill, despite the warm sun on them. It looked simply evil. Twisted mountain peaks rose on either end of the landmass, and high rocky cliffs could be seen. Chase hoped that it wouldn’t take them forever to find what they were looking for, and he felt his spirit sink slightly at the sight of this grotesque looking piece of rocky land jutting up out of the sea.
“I don’t like the look of that!” said Jonas quietly, adjusting his sword belt.
“It looks ugly.” agreed Kiko.
It grew larger in front of them as the boat sped along the sea, looming like a giant shadow in spite of the clear day.
“Well,” began Chase, “It can’t be worse than Stigia.”
The three were suddenly startled by the Captain’s voice behind them.
“Nay laddie,” he said, looking with dark bulbous eyes at the island they approached. “That’s one place even the horned ones won’t go…”