If you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this short story romance.
Countryside and Docks: Devrim
I still didn’t know what to think. My romance had ended before it began, and my wife disappeared without a trace. Although I had harbored worries that her family had taken her from me, their attitudes convinced me they shared my ignorance of her disappearance.
“What if bandits took her into the wilderness?” Jennifer’s mother wailed into my shoulder. “We may never find her broken body!”
I patted her back awkwardly. A week after the wedding, we still stayed at the estate as our base of operations. I would hate to continue renting, but Franklin Fronth was a Lord and had seemingly unlimited resources. Which made his refusal to pay the dowry all the more infuriating. Of the family, only he might have had the motivation to take her away, but it seemed a trivial reason to do so. In fact, I’m sure he suspects me of foul play, so that I could have the dowry and then marry the mistress I’m sure he’s heard about.
The sun shone down on us. The darkness inside the building was just too oppressing.
“Devrim!” someone yelled out from across the yard, so I looked up. I saw Rene Fronth, Jennifer’s brother. He dressed with a feathered cap and colorful short cape, which made my own clothing seem drab in comparison. He beckoned me over, so I disengaged from his mother and ran over.
“Any word?” I asked when I reached him.
“No, no news. But I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that he had some goods imported from Felaronia coming in today and it got me thinking. What if, for whatever possible reason, she took a ship to Felaronia? I asked what day that ship would have gone to Octgard and he told me it was the day after the wedding. It’s not a real lead, but I think it is worth investigating, as we don’t have anything else to go on.”
I almost laughed out loud. Why in the world would shy Jennifer run off to Felaronia? It made no sense. Rene was looking in all the wrong places. I was about to reject his offer, but thought that it might instill resentment. In truth, I had nothing better to do and didn’t want his mother clinging to me. “Should we go down to the docks?” I asked, humoring him.
Rene gave a nervous smile, unsure whether I approved or not. Let him guess.
We made our way over to the docks, a trip that took some time while winding our way through crowded, stinking streets. That’s why I hated Capital Mith. The ever present sun shining in my window of the carriage burned my skin in spite of the flimsy curtain I used to block it. My eye began to twitch and my mouth felt dry.
I didn’t feel like talking much during the ride. My thoughts wandered to Jennifer. Would I ever see her again? Was someone holding her captive? Was she waiting for me to come rescue her? What if she had been defiled? Then what would I do? So many scenarios floated through my mind, but none of them allowed the possibility that she was out of my reach forever.
I put on my hat when we stepped out of the carriage and onto the docks. Boats of all sizes filled the coast. I didn’t come from a coastal city, so I admit I didn’t know the difference between any of them, but Rene seemed to know where to go, so I followed him. The waves made a constant swooshing sound so annoying that I had to keep from shouting out in frustration.
He chose a large ship, random in my mind, and walked up the planks onto the ship. I followed him up but nearly toppled over when the ship shifted. Even on the deck, I felt a little dizzy. In the corner of my eye, I saw some people sniggering, but when I faced them, they looked away innocently.
Rene found the captain, a wrinkled man who looked tired of life, and then started talking. I stayed back, observing. “Captain James, I have a few questions for you.”
“If you’re mad at me for taking away your wife, girlfriend, or sister, that’s not my problem. These women are adults and can make their own decisions. Several come back on their own accord.”
Never mind my first analysis. This man was just tired of answering the same question over and over again, always on the defensive. “Come, Rene, this is a waste of time.” I placed my hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off and continued talking to the captain.
“We just want to know if someone was on your most recent trip to Felaronia.”
“I don’t take names. Just coins. Easier for everyone that way.”
Rene looked flustered so I spoke up. “Jennifer Fronth. She’s tall, blond.” I wracked my mind for other descriptions of her, but failed to come up with anything.
“She might have come with her friend, Mia, who’s shorter, darker hair, plump,” Rene added.
Captain James stood in a thoughtful pose, unfocused eyes looking back in time. “Yes, I think I might remember the pair. Didn’t talk too much with the other guests. Just kept to themselves.”
Because she was shy? But no, this couldn’t be them. Jennifer would never leave me to go to Felaronia, would she?
“It must be them! Jenny’s safe!” Rene told me excitedly. He turned to the captain. “You did get there without any casualties, right?”
The captain rolled his eyes. “Of course, young lordling. So if you don’t mind, I have some work to get done.”
“I’m staying here,” I announced.
“What?” both men asked me.
“Take me to Felaronia. I must find her and bring her back. I’ll wait here until the ship sets sail.”
“Are you sure?” Rene asked. “If she went to Felaronia, it was of her own will, and she won’t want to come back.”
“No, that can’t be it. Why would she flee from me if she doesn’t even know me? She wouldn’t reject a romance that hasn’t even started. Something else must be going on.” I wiped sweat from my forehead. The sun was turning my face red.
The captain grinned. “Well, I would advise against this, but I can’t wait to see your face when you get back on my ship.”
I sneered. Who was he to judge me? I took out my purse and grabbed a few coins. “Just get me to Felaronia.”
Rene looked at me. “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes!” I snapped, because I knew I would get my romance back. He shook his head and started walking away.
The next day I set sail.