The sun had not yet risen when I was escorted down to the dock. I thought it was still night until I asked the man who was going to be my protector. He told me that it was day, but dawn had not yet come.
I was being sent to deliver a message of diplomacy; I was the daughter of an island lord and we were eager to ally ourselves with some other local nations. I was worried, though. Despite the offer of peace I was to share, this was to be my first journey on my own. My guardian, Anthos, was kind, but he was a man. I would not be totally comfortable until I was in the company of women again.
"Anthos," I said to him, staring anxiously out to sea, "Is it very far to Hidelphi?"
Anthos smiled at me, his rugged face surprisingly soft. "No, Lady Araina, it won't take long to get there. I understand you are nervous."
I chuckled uneasily. "Nervous? No. Why should I be nervous? The seas are our friend, dear Anthos. At least, that's what my father says."
"Well, that's what we like to believe, at any rate," he replied. We stood in silence for a few minutes until finally Anthos broke the uneasiness. "Come. I'll show you to your cabin and you can get settled in."
He led me down to the lower deck of the small ship and indicated a small, separate room where I was to stay. The room was comfortable, and though it was not as large and grand as my own bedroom at home, it suited my needs well.
"Is there anything else you need, my lady?" Anthos asked.
I gave him a small smile and shook my head. "No, but thank you, Anthos. I know where the galley is should I require food. For the moment, I would like to try and get some sleep. I did not sleep well last night, and the waves are high this morning. I would rather sleep through rough seas than anything."
Anthos nodded once. "Very well then. I bid you good dreams," he said, and shut the door behind him as he left. I heard his footsteps fade down the corridor and I went over to my bed. It was built into the woodwork of the ship, and a soft straw mattress wrapped in linen sheets served as a cushion. A large blue blanket was tucked neatly into a small niche just above the head of the bed. I pulled it out. It was sapphire, my favorite color. The color of my home. I wrapped it around my shoulders and breathed in its scent. As I did, I imagined that it smelled like my mother instead of cedar. I laid down, still wrapped in the blanket, and stared at the wall. The red cedar wood was warm and inviting, but at the same time hard and unkind. Anthos had told me the journey would be short. I fell asleep hoping he was right.