Runaway Wife Romance Part 4

runaway wife romance

If you missed them, here are Part 1Part 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.

Runaway Wife Romance Part 3

runaway wife romance
If you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of this short story romance.

Felaronia: Jennifer

“We’re here!” I yelled behind Mia’s back. She actually jumped a few inches into the air, threatening to tumble off the starboard side of our elegant ship. The sails whipped back and forth so that, combined with the waves, muted all sound. I was proud of myself for managing that to overcome that and still scare Mia.
“Jenny!” she whined. “I can see we’re here.”
“Well, let’s go!”
Felaronia’s port town of Octgard greeted us with colorful banners flapping to the screaming wind. The wetlands made it hard to create a permanent settlement along this part of the coast, so most of Felaronia was inland along the River Nesco. But Octgard held out strong and looked beautiful to me right now. Wooden buildings with a variety of designs, colors, and textures were visible from the docks where we had landed. One in particular caught my eye, a tower that gently curved from wide to narrow as it went up, reminding me a little of a woman’s form. Surrounding buildings didn’t compete with it, but accented its beauty like it had all been planned out beforehand. Nothing like the haphazard stone walls back home.
We got off the ship, filing onto the wooden roads of the docks. I felt a little uneasy, as the ground didn’t wobble as much as I had gotten used to in the last few days. It seemed there were two groups, divided almost by gender. The first were the merchants, mostly men who came on business and knew what they wanted, wasting no time as they went toward the city. The second group consisted of women like us, the immigrants, fleeing the effects of misogyny, false romance, and general injustice. We didn’t know where to go and still marveled at the sight of the mythical city. Sure, there were female merchants and male immigrants, but they were minorities. 
As the most noble among our group, I felt it my responsibility to lead them to the shore. So I told them to follow me and mimicked the merchants even as I followed them. Mia caught up to me, looking worried. At first, few wanted to venture out, but the submission that had been beaten into them for so long won out and they lined up behind me. We marched to shore, leaving the vessel of our deliverance behind as we faced our new lives. 
A trio of older women greeted us at the end of the docks. One wore her black hair in a bun, another let her long curly hair loose, and another had her gray hair cut short. All three wore robes, black, purple, and white. They folded their arms with amused looks on their faces. 
The one with the short hair spoke first. “Welcome to Felaronia. My name is Saphira. This is a place where you find what was lacking in your homelands: value and respect. But to obtain that, you must be willing to work hard for the good of everyone. This is not for the weak, lazy, or spoiled.” Did she cast her eyes on me? “We don’t enslave the men like they enslaved us. They are, however, subservient to us out of necessity. There are those whose ambitions would overthrow our society. If you find any, report them to us and they will be escorted to a country more to their liking.”
The one in purple spoke next. “I am Ynette. We realize that many of you are coming from situations of abuse and at the risk of your own lives. Because of this, you will all be assigned a mentor to help you gradually understand our culture, our laws, and our jobs. Any questions you have, you can ask her.
“If you want to pursue a career, but don’t have the skill, we can set you on the path of education. Also, do not despair because of lack of money. You will live first in the commons houses until your mentor transitions you to a full citizen. Like Saphira said, there is little tolerance for women who will not work.” Again, the look at me. Did they think I was just some foolish damsel? “Some of you might have even had easier lives in your homeland. But hard work will allow you to feel like part of our community. Come along and we’ll give you a tour of your new home.”
Mia clapped. “Isn’t this exciting?”
My mood had dropped a bit, but I still mustered up enthusiasm. I would prove these women wrong. Wiping the hair from my face, blown there by the wind, I nodded. 
This had to be better than a forced romance or marriage, after all.
 

First Contact part 1

First Contact

The grass bent beneath his boots as he stepped outside of the ribbon box. What would it feel like if he went bare foot? Wet? Raspy? Like carpet? Green spread out all around them, welcoming them to the small island. Why was grass green? Kaleb took off his helmet and took a whiff of the air. So fresh, so salty. The ocean roared in the distance, jealous of the attention the grass received.

“That’s dangerous, you know,” his partner Foelhe commented, walking past him.
Kaleb shrugged. “If anything happens to this piece of property, they’ll sew me right back up, and probably stick so many needles in my behind, I’ll look like one of those…what are they called again?”

“Porcupines.”

“Yeah, one of those.” He looked around, finally focusing on the sky. Bluer than the ocean. Sure was different than from where he was from. “Think we’ll see one of them?”

“Doubt it. They probably don’t exist on this planet.”

“Stop playing around, you two, we have a mission to fulfill,” said Dalin, forty meters away, walking on the beach with his own partner. His voice sounded muffled, coming from the headset inside the helmet Kaleb was carrying. Foelhe shook his head as Kaleb sheepishly put it back on.

The two of them walked in silence until they reached the edge of the water. No sign of threats. Maybe it wasn’t so dangerous here as most people thought. It certainly didn’t look to be harboring danger. Kaleb watched the ocean steal his footprints from the beach.

“Call down the ATV, this island looks to be uninhabited, but to the northwest, satellites suggest there are people living there. A wonder they never made it to this one.” Foelhe tapped something on his wrist. Kaleb did the same, instructing the vehicle to drive over and deposit the boat in the water. He didn’t like the rubbery foam molding to his head nor the plastic visor that was fogging up.

A few moments later, they were speeding to the northwest. There were six of them altogether, three companionships. The boat went fast enough to see the next island growing on the horizon, but the fish in the water were dark blurs. Not even the screen in his visor could identify them quickly enough. Governmentally issued, they were.

The ocean stretched out as far as they could see, no less infinite than the stars. Each wave glistened in the sun like a show of lights. Kaleb sighed. What would it be like to immerse himself under that surface, without any body armor on? Opposite the empty vacuum of space, being filled instead of emptied? He couldn’t believe he was here; it didn’t feel real. So close to a world that touched each sense, yet a barrier that held him back.

Other, larger shapes began swimming after their boats. The shapes couldn’t keep up, but it was obvious they were trying. They weren’t just fish. Still, the screen couldn’t identify them. Either it wasn’t advanced enough to cut through the interference of the water, or there was no file archived with information on these creatures.

“What do you think those are?” he asked Foelhe. The only response was a shake of the head within his helmet. The others didn’t seem interested either.

Soon they reached the beach, this time not covered in fine sand but in larger pebbles. Some of the rocks seemed sharp enough to cut open his feet, if he ran barefoot. Kaleb stepped out, his feet creating small holes that filled themselves up with rocks and water as soon as he left. His past prints on the world were being erased along with the past. He only existed in the present.

It seemed calm at first, but there was tension in the air, penetrating their helmets. No one said anything, although Foelhe kept his hand at his side, fingers clutching the handle reflexively.

The first sign of intelligent life was a broken spear hidden in the rocks. At first it looked like a wet stick from one of the trees, but the screen pointed out that there was a sharp rock tied to it. It also pointed out that something had urinated on it five hours ago, as well as a multitude of other useless details. But it couldn’t tell him what had been following them.

“Is this an accurate level of their technology?” Dalin asked, more to himself. “I wish those up high would have shared the classified with us.”
They stood there for a few moments, observing the spear, as if it would suddenly start talking to them. Kaleb felt impatient. There was life out there, waiting for them, but no one could get past the spear and begin contact.

“Come on, Foelhe,” he said on the private channel. His partner looked at him wearily, sighed, and started following him to the growth at the edge of the beach. The others glanced at them, but then went back to analyzing the spear.

As soon as he parted the first leaves, longer than his body, the alarms went off in his suit. At first, he thought it was danger in front of him, but after a moment with nothing happening, he realized the danger was behind. Swiveling, he found Foelhe already rushing back to the others. The waves were high, nearly engulfing the ATVs. Strange. Then his screen pointed out the obvious. There were more than five others on the beach with him. There looked to be about ten, with more coming from the sea.

The fish!

These fish had hands, feet, and heads like humans. Except they were blue, with white stomachs and they were covered in fins, including their faces, replacing their hair. Crawling out of the water, they started rising onto their back legs. Some wore basic loin cloths, others nothing, although there didn’t seem to be anything to see.

A few looked feminine, but it wasn’t as obvious as it would be on humans. His screen pulled up close ups of one of the faces. It was smiling, but with the sharpened teeth, the smile looked devious and dangerous. They approached the men with little apparent fear.

One got close to Dalin and spread his arms wide, still with that toothy grin, Dalin raised his gun, but the creature just took hold of it, and shook it, like it was shaking a hand. It was either mocking Dalin, or really playful and innocent. Dalin took it as the former.

“Get away from me, you monster!” he screamed. Kaleb heard it over the channel, but whether the actual creature did, he wasn’t certain. Dalin pulled his gun back and aimed it at the blue humanoid.

Click here to read First Contact part 2