Keane watched the port get smaller and smaller, the boat beneath him already rocking as it does on sea. The man who stole his food, no longer on the ship. He was no longer able to serve on the ship, so he was left behind. It was probably for the best. Keane would be too tempted to take the man’s life. As Keane rest near the stern of the ship, he could hear familiar footsteps approaching from behind. “Looks like you decided to stay,” said Savelad. He had some kind of pipe in his mouth, seaping out the smell of smoke and spice. “Now that yer healed up, you can work. You can start by rigging up those sails.” He cocked his head towards the rigging where two men were already working.
“Aye,” Keane responded. “And how’do I do that?”
“That’s why you’ve been watchin’ them. Now, get to work.”
Keane hustled to the rigging, and began to work as best he could. For the next few days, that’s where he worked. On one occasion, a rope snapped due to an error on his part, and ship ship went off course. As stormed to the rigging, and Keane was already working to fix it. With the help of the other riggers, the ship was soon in sailing condition. “What happ’ned‽” Savelad demanded.
“The rope snapped,” Keane replied.
“Why’d it snap‽”
“’Cause you messed up!” he shouted, kicking Keane in the knee. “Now get t’yer feet and don’t mess up again!”
Keane wished it were that easy, but every once in a while, he would make another mistake, and he was never sure how the Captain would respond. At times, he would get violent, but other times, it was almost as if he didn’t even care. There was another occasion where Keane was responsible for a crate of supplies going overboard. Savelad watched the entire thing, and didn’t even flinch, as if it never happened. He even saw the Captain beat one man to unconsciousness with his fists. Keane didn’t even know what that poor guy did to deserve that.
Other than rigging and swabbing, another one of Keane’s usual tasks was to feed the beasts below deck. The beasts, as they were called by the crew, were Cyclops. The odd thing was that they weren’t often restrained, only locked behind a door. Even more odd was that between the two of them, they would have no problem breaking down that door, but the door wasn’t damaged any more than any other door on this ship.
After about of week at sea, Savelad approached Keane during his evening meal. He had a bottle is his hand and his breath smelled of spirits, It was unclear how much or how long Savelad had been drinking, and it was difficult to gauge his inebriation. “I’ve d’cided that yer a pretty tough lad, and you’ve got heart. At my age, I should be thinkin’ taking on a disciple, and there’s not a lot of young folk who I would rather train than you. You understand what I’m sayin’ here?”
“Yer sayin’ you want to train me at somethin’.”
“Aye. There be a word my master taught me. He learned it from his master who took it from his native tongue. That word be ‘sensei.’ That’s what I’ll be to you.” He took one final swig from his bottle and threw it overboard, then walked away.
The next morning, Keane began his normal tasks. While on the deck, about to climb up the rigging, Savelad threw a splintered board before him, and from his boot, he pulled a small knife and threw it, sticking it into a crate beside the boy. “Make yerself a sword. A dull one. Make it look like mine if yer able.”
Keane had only seen the Captain’s sword drawn a few times. And usually when it was unsheathed, there was something else happening that was a little more eye-catching. But Keane did remember that there was an unusual curve to the blade, and that it was only sharpened on the one side. It was unfortunate that he had little to no experience working with wood. After a couple of hours of work, Keane did manage to create a crude bludgeoning instrument slightly resembling the Captain’s sword. Savelad was less than impressed, however, and destroyed the piece that Keane had spent the entire day creating by cracking over his knee. “You can try again, tomorrow,” he said, as he took the broken pieces with him.
For the next few days, Keane carved away at planks made of inferior wood, and every evening Savelad would destroy what he had made. Finally, after the Captain had destroyed his wooden sword, Keane shouted, “No! I’m not doin’ this again! Yer givin’ me the worst wood on the ship, this knife is dull, an’ no madder how good I do, yer jus’ gonna break it again. I don’ think…” That is where Savelad interrupted Keane by picking him up by the scruff of his shirt. The Captain began walking across the deck, carrying the boy. Keane could see the side of the boat getting closer. “No! I didn’t mean it! I’ll do it again!” Keane felt the impact of the wooden deck as he was dropped.
“Get down there.” Keane realized he was dropped at the door going below deck. He did as ordered, and the Captain followed. “Keep goin’.” Keane went down another deck, and even one more deck, every time the Captain behind him. Savelad punched Keane in the gut, dropping him to the ground. He then opened one last door, and kicked the boy into the bilges. “I want that clean by morn’n.” The door above closed, and everything was dark.
Morning came, and Keane hadn’t slept. The door above opened and a crew member instructed Keane out. He then handed the boy a plank and the same dull, knife. “Cap’n said you’d know what to do wit’ these.” Keane took the items and found a place to begin whittling.
Two more days passed, and the Captain was ready for his nightly inspection. “It seems you’ve gotten pretty good, I see,” he said, handling the wooden sword in his hand. “This be pretty fine work.” His tone was convincingly sincere. “Too bad this be firewood.” Once again, he broke the sword, and continued on his way.
Keane was really upset, now. But he didn’t want to spend another night in the bilges, so he kept his mouth shut, but his fists were tight, and a vein in his forehead protruded with anger. He couldn’t believe that Savelad would do that. He actually seemed to like this one.
Morning came once more, and Keane could here the Captain coming. He turned to the sea, not wanting to look at the Captain at the moment. He heard the sound of wood hitting the deck, and saw it land in the corner of his eye. But this wasn’t a plank; it was a wooden sword that seemed to be made by a master craftsman. “I’ll be takin’ my knife back, now.”
Keane picked up the sword. “What’s this?” he asked, a little puzzled.
“That’s yer new trainin’ weapon. The ones you made would’ve broken, anyway. I managed to snap ‘em with m’hands, even. This is made of solid wood. Break this one, though, and you will have to make a new one.”
“What’re you doin’? Get to the rigging.” Keane was about to run to the rigging until he remembered he had a three foot wooden sword in his hand. “Take it with you. Take it where ever you go. It’s yer weapon and yer life.” Keane fastened it to his body using some loose rope, and continued to the rigging. Savelad lit his pipe.