A coughing fit woke the captain from his rest. He sat up, blankets falling off of him.
"Yagh!" he exclaimed at the frigid air, yanking the covers back up as he fumbled on the ground for his shirt.
Dim light shone through his window; he stumbled across the room, resting his arm on the wall above the hole as he peered through. Ice crusted over the outside, making it impossible to see.
"The hell?" he muttered, wondering if he was drunk. He could swear he wasn't, however. Shaking his head, he tumbled to the door, throwing it open. A rush of cold air met him, as well as the cabin boy.
"Cap'n!" exclaimed Jono, who was poised to knock on the door. The small lad was bundled up in a winter coat, his brown hair peeking out from beneath his cap. "Cap'n, somethin's goin' on up yonder that we thinks ya should see." The boy's breath fogged the air when he spoke.
"I was just headin' up there, lad," he replied, grabbing his coat and shoving his arms into it. "Lead th' way."
The young man nodded, turning and running up the stairs on booted feet. The captain pounded up after him, though he kept a hand on the wall for support; his legs didn't seem to be working quite properly. Perhaps he had had something to drink and was hungover now.
"What in th' gods' name . . ." he swore as Jono opened the door and snow blew through. Stepping outside, he shielded his eyes against a world of white. "Lenos! What th' hell is goin' on?"
"I haven't the slightest, Captain," his first mate replied. "One moment, the sun was shining, and the next, it wasn't."
The captain took a step forward, nearabout tripping. "Blast! I can't seem t' walk straight," he growled.
"Almost none of us can," replied Lenos, coming up alongside the captain with a steadying hand on the wall. "The sea has frozen over, rendering our sea-legs useless."
"Frozen over?" the captain questioned, looking out at the ocean. There was only ice, as far as the eye could see. "What in Saeson's unholy name . . . ?"
A mighty rumble rippled throughout the ice and ship, causing a chorus of yells to go up as many fell to their knees. The captain swore, but steadied himself as the rumbling continued.
"Look!" cried one of the sailors. "Of to th' starboard port, look!"
Attention turned towards the location, where a great castle had rose up out of the sea.
"That would appear to be the castle of the Sorceress of the North," Lenos noted.
"How th' hell can ye tell?" the captain asked.
"Well, how many other sorcerers do you know that would go out of their way to cause someone trouble?"
"Point taken." The captain sighed, melting snow on his beard with a plume of warm breath. "It would seem th' only option is t' go 'n' investigate."
"Aye, Captain," Lenos said. "I'll have the men get ready."
TO BE CONTINUED