The Fisher

FB_IMG_1589749643815She was a tiny boat, one of many lined up on the beach with the tide gently kissing their weathered boards. His first, purchased with the blood and sweat of grueling hours spent under the eye of his uncle. She wasn’t much to look at, peeling paint barely visible at the gunwale and salt soaked boards scoured by the sea. Even the rope tying her to the meager mooring hung heavy with the living debris of the waves. But she was sound, and she was his. He swelled with pride looking at her.

A couple of stray gulls lingered nearby, probably in hopes of finding a meal in the carnage left by the fishermen. They wouldn’t hover long, he thought with a smile. His wrists and elbows still ached from the scrubbing he had given her. Don’t give the hunters of the sea a reason to hunt you, his uncle always said. Or the hunted a reason to run.

He glanced toward the whitewashed guildhouses standing above the reach of the tide. One day, he was sure, he would stand alongside his uncle under those wide doors, bargaining for the best prices for his catch. Only the best of the best were allowed membership; only the highest quality fish passed through guild hands to the Noblesse’s tables.

He had to prove himself. A boy of sixteen, the guildfishers scoffed. Even the other lonefishers raised skeptical eyebrows at the idea of a boy in their midst. Especially a boy with only one hand. Only his uncle thought he stood any chance, had agreed to trade work for this aging slip, had given his missing limb no quarter in order to be sure he learned. The ocean was unforgiving; it would not hold back, therefore he could not.

With the dawn would come his maiden voyage. There would be no easy trips to the reefs for him. Let the lonefishers make short work of those; they would only torment him anyway. He had his secret coves, his hidden markers where the guildfleets feared to go. Long years of boyhood spent alone had ensured that advantage, and he would never tell.

He grinned to himself. The Outliers would taste the wealth of a Noblesse for once. The Towners would never buy from him, not now. Let the rumors spread. Let them wonder. They would seek him out from jealousy alone, and he would laugh and charge them double to make them feel important. It would be the first step.

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