The salty spray of seawater tickled Bahka’s lips, the waves slamming into the bow of the ship below her and bursting into the air with a thunderous boom, coming back down as rain on the hard wooden deck. A vicious wind tugged at her loose hair, throwing it around her shoulders, and billowing out the faded red sail that dragged the vessel through the icy waters.

How many days had passed since the seas had been any calmer than this, Bahka didn’t know. Some of the crew had tried to keep count, but many, like her, had given up once that number had crept past a week. Now, instead, most huddled beneath the tattered cloth cover that had been stretched across the longboat’s deck, knees pulled tighter to their chests and sodden furs wrapped around shoulders, chattering teeth the only sound when the howling wind lulled.

Unlike most, however, Bahka stood at the boat’s head, her eyes staring out across the grey expanse of wild waves and swirling waters. She found it empowering, to be at the forefront of the sea’s fury, almost able to feel the wrath of the gods that tried to pull them under. Many of the men feared it, many of the men worried that they had angered the deities. Many men were cowards.

Bahka didn’t fear the gods. She didn’t worry about what would come, but instead relished the idea of a challenge. To stand against the gods themselves, and to defy their will. To shape her own path. That was how she had come to find herself upon this voyage in the first place. The seer of her village had predicted her death upon this venture, warning her against making the trek. Bahka had just laughed at the frail of old woman.

What was the point of ‘destiny’ if she couldn’t defy it? Couldn’t reshape it? She refused to believe that something so defining was so rigid, even when it was in the hands of the gods.

A crackling fork split the sky with light, and moments later a heavy roll of thunder echoed with a deepness that made the crew shudder. Bahka gripped tightly to the rope that trailed past her side, feeling the wet cord bite into her hand. The rope had made a raw mark on her palm from her having spent nearly every waking moment at the ship’s bow, standing her ground even as the deck threatened to roll from beneath her.

The crew probably thought her mad, but what did she care? They could stay huddled beneath their cloth, shivering and flinching at every knock that pushed against the hull. But Bahka wouldn’t join them. She would stand her ground, plant her feet against the rage of the storm, and watch the ship split the water as she fought the sea itself.

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