Though his barque cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.
--Willam Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3
Far out at sea a storm was brewing, and it was going to be a bad one. Adrift on the great ocean, Tyenna sat in her tiny boat, her arms at her sides where they always rested. Helplessly she watched as the wind and waves began to rise and lightning flared on the horizon. No one in their right mind would willingly have taken that frail craft into such remote waters. Its passenger (she could hardly be called its master) had been given no choice in the matter. She was to find no relief from the storm’s tender mercies.
Soon the storm was upon her, toying with the boat as a striagon toys with its prey. Lightning flared all around, leaving afterimages in Tyenna’s vision. The thunder was deafening. Tyenna’s body was lashed by rain and buffeted by wind. The vessel lurched violently, tossed in every direction by twenty-cubit high waves. Tyenna endured it all in silence. There was nothing else she could do.
Nevertheless, she felt no fear. She knew that no matter how powerful the storm might become, no matter how much nausea she might experience, she and her vessel would survive. Allowing Tyenna to drown would have been far too merciful for Zharna.
Tyenna was naked except for the jewelled amulet that sat between her breasts with no visible means of support. The sorceress Zharna had placed it there, telling Tyenna that no power could ever remove it. The jewel glowed with a cold blue light that never varied. Its power cursed Tyenna to a kind of immortality. It also prevented the boat from breaking up or floundering - or reaching land.
For hours the tempest raged. Leaden day turned to starless night. Still the fury of the elements showed no sign of abating. Through it all, Tyenna endured stoically, as she had a thousand storms before. Physically she had no choice but to survive, but she was determined that her ordeal should not kill her spirit either.
Eventually the clouds would part, the sun and moons would once more show their faces, and she would, for a time, drift upon quiet seas. It was only those cherished periods of calm that made her cursed existence bearable.
At such times she could pretend that she was on a relaxing vacation. Then she might imagine herself in the arms of a lover... or two... and spend a pleasant few hours immersing herself in sexual fantasies. In spite of the chill that constantly emanated from the crystal, she would still be capable of bringing herself to fulfilment by imagining all the ways her partners could give her pleasure.
Such fantasies were all she had. Unless by remote chance the spell should fail, she would never meet another person, let alone feel a lover’s caresses. She would remain as she was, helpless, alone and adrift, until the oceans ran dry.
Eventually the storm did pass. The clouds dispersed with apparent reluctance, to reveal the light of a gibbous Goldmoon glinting on the gentled waves. The roaring winds moderated to a gentle breeze. Tyenna was grateful for that, although she was still too cold to be comfortable. Despite the torrential rain, her feet had remained dry. Zharna’s sorcery prevented any water from entering the boat.
The little craft had been made to negotiate tranquil bywaters, not mountainous ocean waves. Barely five cubits long and a little over two cubits wide, it was of simple wooden construction with a single bench seat. A pair of oars lay in the bilges. Their paddles faced the bow where Tyenna could look down at them. Their handles sat under the seat, between Tyenna’s motionless feet. Zharna had left them there to taunt Tyenna. It was not as if they would do Tyenna any good, even if she were able to pick them up.
But for the spell, the tiny pleasure craft would have disintegrated during the first storm it encountered, and Tyenna would have drowned soon after, her body becoming food for some ocean predator. The spell held the boat together as if it were made of iron, and held Tyenna in place no less rigidly.
She had no idea how many years had passed since Zharna placed the curse upon her. Countless phases of the moons had come and gone as the winds and currents propelled her aimlessly about the seas. She remembered hearing once that the world was a great sphere. If that were true, she supposed she must have travelled all the way around it many times by now.
She had sweltered beneath suns so hot she thought the sea might dry up, while curious creatures that were not quite fish swam about her. For what seemed like more than a moon she had been becalmed in those waters. During the daylight hours she felt as if she would shrivel up and mummify from the heat. She still felt, paradoxically, the chill from the amulet, but it did nothing to negate the physical sensation of heat. She longed for the night, blessed its arrival as she would a goddess’s, and cursed the breaking of day.
The only distractions from the merciless sun were the occasional, all-too-brief visits from strange animals that seemed half-fish and half-bird. Once, one of them had leapt out of the water and over the boat, momentarily splashing her. The relief that it gave her was small and momentary, but she blessed the little creature anyway.
At other times she had drifted through frigid seas where mountains of ice floated by and the nights seemed endless. There she had been blasted by winds so horribly cold she thought she must surely die, but even then the spell allowed her no mercy. So she had sat miserably, unable even to shiver, while frost rimed the boat and strange curtains of multi-coloured fire rippled in the sky.
Yet even in so inhospitable a place, there was life. Small birds dived into the frigid sea to catch fish, and in the distance she sometimes thought she could make out large, white-furred shapes swimming. She supposed those creatures must be far more tolerant of the cold than she was.
In the early days of her curse she was at least able to appreciate the novelty of her experiences, as unpleasant as some of them might have been. Vast as it was, however, the sea was finite. By now she thought she must have seen every part of it countless times. Every type of wave, every conceivable climate, every form of life that breached the waves or flew above them; nothing was new to her any more. She had seen everything there was to see, and would see it again, over and over, endlessly.
From time to time she would catch a tantalising glimpse of a white cliff or a tree-lined shore, or an island with a mountain belching smoke. Then the boat would begin to drift away and they would disappear beneath the horizon. On other occasions she saw ships in the far distance. Sometimes she could just make out crew aloft the rigging, but she was not able to wave to them, and none ever sighted her.
As the boat bobbed slowly up and down on the gentle swell Tyenna gazed up at the golden three-quarter disc of the smaller moon and thought, Are you satisfied, Zharna? Is this revenge enough for you?
Day came at last. The sky was a rich blue punctuated here and there by puffs of white, and the sun was pleasant upon her body. Tyenna settled into reverie, and at length achieved a genuine orgasm at the hands of her imaginary loves. It was wonderful, and it was far from the last that morning. Tyenna considered every one of them a triumph over Zharna.
Once she was finally satisfied, Tyenna languished in a pleasant half-trance. Didn’t know I could do that, did you, Zharna? she thought euphorically. Well, neither did I, until I tried it. Look, Zharna! No hands!
The day wore on slowly while Tyenna stared at the fluffy clouds and thought of nothing in particular.
The sun had risen a little higher in the sky by the time Tyenna came fully awake. Something had brought her out of her trance. There had been a bump, that was it, as if the boat had struck something submerged. A big fish, perhaps, or a submerged rock?
Something about the boat felt different. It took her a moment to understand what that was. It was no longer rocking. For the first time since Zharna had cursed her, the boat was stationary. Had it become snagged on an underwater outcrop of some kind?
Out of the corner of her left eye she could make out a shape. Something seemed familiar about it, but she couldn’t seem to place it at first. Then the astonishing truth struck her. She was seeing leaves waving in the breeze. It was a tree! But that was impossible. No tree could grow so far from land.
Her heart leapt. Could it really be true? After so long, could the curse finally be lifting?
At that moment a wave struck the boat’s bow, splashing Tyenna with spray. The boat turned languidly to port, bringing more of the scene into view. Tyenna could scarcely believe what she was seeing. Land! A stand of tall hardnut trees grew at the edge of a white sand beach. A few branches had been snapped off by the storm and lay forlornly on the sand. Small scuttling creatures roamed the water’s edge, presumably in search of food. A flock of colourful birds fluttered inland, drawing Tyenna’s eye to a small wooden house about twenty cubits from where she sat. The house did not seem to have suffered any major storm damage.
She was aground! Surely the spell must have broken!
Yet the chill emanating from the amulet remained as strong as ever, and when Tyenna tried to stand she discovered that the spell still held her in place.
She wondered if this was just another of Zharna’s tricks, to taunt her with false hope before snatching it away. But the boat remained where it was, gently lapped by the waves. The hull seemed to have become lodged in the sand, and the gentle breakers were not strong enough to shift it.
Zharna certainly never intended that to happen. Tyenna might still be bound to the boat, but the boat was no longer compelled to avoid land. It seemed too good to be true. If it was, though... At worst, Tyenna would spend countless years sitting in the motionless boat. Waves would continue to splash her playfully and birds would perch on her head. That wouldn’t be so bad, she thought. On the one hand, the unchanging view might become tedious. On the other, she would no longer be hurled every which way by violent waves. She would never again have to suffer scorching heat or frigid winds.
She did not think she was alone, though. The house looked lived-in. If it had been left unattended she was certain that it would soon have fallen into disrepair. It was only a matter of time before its occupants found her.
What those occupants might make of Tyenna and her strange plight was anybody’s guess, but she assumed they would at least show her sympathy, and do their best to make her comfortable.
Just as long, she reflected, as they didn’t try to make themselves too comfortable with her! She was after all naked, and she flattered herself that she was attractive. Despite the years that had passed and her exposure to the elements, at least some of her beauty must have endured. That might attract unwanted advances, and the spell ensured that she could not resist. She could only hope and pray that there would be none.
She did not have long to wait. Soon the door opened and a striped lupinoid padded out, followed by a young woman who held the animal on a leash. The woman seemed to be in her early twenties, about Tyenna’s age. Or rather, the age at which Tyenna remembered herself; her age before she had been set adrift.
The lupinoid was clearly of the northern longfur variety, its snow-white coat punctuated by a set of dagger-shaped vertical grey stripes that ran from its shoulder to its tail. Lupinoids tended to be fiercely independent creatures, although partnerships with humans were not uncommon. It was a little unusual to see one wearing a collar and leash, however, although this one didn’t seem to mind.
Apart from a crude fabric skirt that reached to her knees, the woman was naked. She did not seem to be a native of these tropical climes. Though her skin had been darkened by the sun, she had the appearance of an inhabitant of the Dravinye continent, from which Tyenna herself hailed. This beach was a long way from Dravinye. Tyenna was curious as to how the woman and her companion had come to live here.
She was the first human being Tyenna had seen in years. To have seen anyone at all would have delighted her, but to see one so stunningly beautiful sent her pulse racing. It might be rude to stare, but Tyenna could not tear her eyes away. As the woman knelt to pet her lupinoid, Tyenna drank in every inch of her body, from her firm, pert breasts to her long, slender legs. The sight stirred such intense feelings that within moments Tyenna found herself climaxing spontaneously.
The woman stood and began making her way down the beach with her striped friend leading the way. She walked slowly and hesitantly, occasionally turning her head as if to listen. She did not seem to be looking where she was going. It only took a moment for Tyenna to understand why.
She was blind.
Tyenna’s mood immediately changed from post-orgasmic euphoria to anguished compassion. What was a blind girl doing in this remote place? Did she have no one but her animal to help her? If only there were something, anything, that Tyenna could do for her.
At that moment the lupinoid turned and saw the boat, and huffed in surprise. Sensing that her friend had spotted something, the woman stopped and said, “What is it, Snow? What do you see, boy?”
She had spoken in Tyenna’s own language. She really was Dravinyen. That only made Tyenna even more curious about her origins.
The lupinoid, Snow, seemed reluctant to approach, but at the woman’s coaxing he slowly walked toward the boat. The woman continued to walk forward until she seemed about to collide with the hull, but Snow pulled back on his leash to warn her.
She was now only a few cubits from Tyenna and her closeness was intoxicating. Tyenna stared at the woman’s sightless eyes. To all outward appearances there was nothing wrong with them. It only took a glance at her naked breasts, however (Tyenna could hardly have prevented herself) to see what was wrong.
She was wearing, or rather had been forced to wear, a glowing amulet identical to Tyenna’s. There really was nothing wrong with her eyes. The amulet was radiating a spell that blocked her vision, just as Tyenna’s amulet blocked her movement.
The amulet must have been made by Zharna. After all her years spent being randomly blown about the globe, Tyenna had miraculously found herself face to face with another victim of the very sorceress who had cursed her. It could not possibly be a coincidence.
The woman moved forward slowly until her knee met the edge of the bow. Leaning forward she extended a hand until it touched the wooden hull. She was less than a cubit from Tyenna, but had not yet sensed her presence.
“A boat?” she muttered to herself. Then aloud, she said, “Hello? Is anyone here?”
Tyenna could give no reply. The Dravinyen reached out with her hand, and made contact with Tyenna’s left breast. Her touch almost gave Tyenna another orgasm, but somehow she managed to hold back.
Jumping back in surprise, the woman said, “I’m sorry, I-I didn’t realise you were there. I’m blind, you see. When you didn’t say anything... my name’s Venkri. Won’t you tell me yours?”
Tyenna could only remain silent. It was so frustrating to be unable to communicate. If only there were some way.
Meanwhile the lupinoid Snow, who had hung back warily, now approached cautiously and reared up to place his front paws on the edge of the boat in front of Venkri. His weight caused it to tilt slightly. Tyenna swayed a little but remained fixed to her seat.
Venkri stroked the back of Snow's neck as the lupinoid gazed curiously at the newcomer.
“You still don’t reply,” said Venkri. “Even if you don’t understand my language... Is something wrong? Can’t you speak?”
When Tyenna still made no reply, Venkri carefully reached for where she thought the other woman’s arm must be. After a moment she found it. Leaning forward she moved her hand to Tyenna’s wrist, and felt for her pulse. In truth, her touch was causing it to quicken again.
“Definitely alive,” Venkri said quietly to herself. She lifted Tyenna’s arm and took her hand. One by one she gently prised Tyenna’s fingers into new positions, in which they remained, unmoving.
Tyenna was rather surprised. She had not realised her joints were still flexible.
“No resistance,” whispered Venkri. “No movement. Sorcery. Just like...” Venkri’s sightless eyes widened. “Oh, by the Maiden’s love! And I thought I was unfortunate! You... you really can’t speak. You can’t even move!”
The blind girl climbed carefully into the boat and hugged Tyenna fiercely. Tyenna knew it was intended as a gesture of comfort and sympathy, but the feel of Venkri’s naked breasts against her own stirred irresistible erotic sensations. Soon she had a long, intense orgasm. She wasn’t sure if the blind girl could feel it. The lupinoid certainly seemed to sense it, or smell it, and panted enthusiastically. He was pleased that his two-leg had found a new friend.
Venkri withdrew slightly and ran her hands over Tyenna’s face, saying, “I’m told that a blind person can build up a picture of somebody’s face like this. I’m afraid it doesn’t work too well for me, since I was never trained to do it. You’re the first person I’ve tried it on. But as far as I can tell, you’re young and pretty. Oh, you’re crying!”
She stroked Tyenna’s hair comfortingly. “It’s all right. You’re not alone any more. You’ve got Snow and me now, and we have you.”
Had she but known, Tyenna’s tears had been caused more by the intensity of her climaxes than by emotion. Tyenna didn’t mind. She was profoundly grateful for Venkri’s kindness.
Venkri gave a small chuckle. “Look at us! You’ll have to do the looking for me, I’m afraid. A blind girl and a paralysed girl. Together we make a considerable woman!”
Venkri thought for a moment. “Well, you’re not strictly speaking on the island yet, are you? First thing is to figure out how to get you off this boat. Lifting you out won’t be easy.”
After considering her options for a few moments, Venkri said, “I’ve got an idea. I need to go back to the house for some blankets. Don’t go away, will you? Sorry.”
Venkri clicked her tongue and Snow joined her. Taking up the lupinoid’s leash, Venkri allowed him to lead her back to the house. A few minutes later they returned. Venkri placed several folded blankets on the sand next to the boat, then draped another over the edge, while Snow watched curiously.
“All right,” said Venkri. “I’m going to try to hold you lengthwise and roll us out, and onto the blankets. It’s not far, but it might be a bit of a bump. The blankets should prevent us from getting bruised. Now, first things first, I have to get you into position.”
Venkri boarded the boat and squeezed on to the seat beside Tyenna. Then she began carefully to manipulate Tyenna’s limbs, discovering as she did so that Tyenna was completely naked. Tyenna relished the touch of Venkri’s hands as she would that of a lover. She relished equally the sensation of movement after being frozen in one place for so long. It took Venkri a little effort, but after some moments Tyenna was sitting in Venkri’s lap. This time Tyenna did not achieve orgasm, although her arousal remained strong.
Venkri placed her left hand on the blanket and moved it back and forth until she found the ends. This told her where to fall, since the blankets on the ground ran parallel.
“All right,” Venkri told Tyenna. “This is the tricky part. I have to climb over the rail while holding you, and make sure we don’t land head first. Snow, keep clear!”
Venkri took a deep breath and heaved with all her might. It was by no means the most elegant manoeuvre, but she did manage to prevent them from falling head first. They landed awkwardly with Tyenna on top, but neither suffered any bruises or sprains. Snow trotted over to make sure his friends were not hurt, and Venkri patted him reassuringly.
Once she had her breath back, Venkri rolled Tyenna off of her. She then straightened Tyenna’s limbs, propped her upright with her back against the boat, and moved to sit beside her. The sensation of actually being out of the boat after so many years was intoxicating. Snow licked Venkri’s face and then Tyenna’s. Venkri hugged the lupinoid on behalf of them both, and then he sat contentedly beside her.
“Welcome to my island,” said Venkri. “Zharna banished me here after blinding me. When Zharna came into the room he hid behind a chair, and then when she opened the hole-in-nothing to send me here, he jumped through with me. Between you and me, I think his presence messed up the spell. I suspect she intended to send me somewhere far less pleasant than here. I don’t think she knows I’m here either, and I’m grateful for that.
“Anyway, with Snow’s help I’ve been able to survive here. I found the house and fixed it up as best I could. I don’t know who built it. Maybe one of Zharna’s earlier victims that she’d forgotten about. Snow catches small animals and birds for me to eat, and there’s plenty of fresh water. It isn’t always easy, but we manage. Eh, boy?”
She petted the lupinoid once more.
“It was Zharna who did this to you, wasn’t it?” she said. “It has all of her hallmarks. How long must you have been drifting helplessly in that little boat before you washed ashore on my island? I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you. But Zharna couldn’t have meant for you to find me either. Someone or something wanted us to meet.”
Venkri sighed. “If only you could speak. It’s been so long since I heard another human voice. But you can’t even tell me your name.”
She gave a half-smile. “At least you can hear mine. I hope I’m not talking too much, but it’s nice to have someone to talk to, besides Snow.”
Venkri sat in silence for a few moments, relishing the closeness of her two companions. Then a thought seemed to strike her. Reaching for Tyenna’s face, she gently turned the paralysed woman’s head toward her.
“Maybe there is a way,” she said. Carefully, she placed her forefingers at the sides of Tyenna’s eyes. Tyenna thought she knew what Venkri had in mind, and was impressed by the blind woman’s ingenuity.
“Now,” said Venkri, “If you are able to, please blink slowly.”
Tyenna did so. Her eye muscles were the only part of her body over which she had any voluntary control.
Venkri was thrilled. “It worked! I could feel the muscles! Now you can tell me things. Let’s see... if you do that once for Yes and twice for No, you’ll be able to answer simple questions. Do you understand?
Tyenna unhesitatingly blinked Yes.
“Wonderful. As for your name... Hmm. Yes, that’s it. I assume you’re familiar with the alphabet.”
“All right. Please blink the number of letters in your name.”
Tyenna blinked four times. [In the Dravinyen language ty and nn are represented by single letters -Ed.]
“Four letters. Very well, we’ll do this by a process of elimination. For each letter I’ll run through the alphabet slowly and you blink when I reach it. All right?”
In this way, Venkri was soon able to discover Tyenna’s name, writing each letter in turn in the damp sand next to the blankets so she wouldn’t forget it.
“Tyenna. Is that how it’s pronounced?”
“It’s a nice name.”
Venkri paused momentarily, then went on. “Just one more question for now. Tyenna, we... we’ve both been alone for a long time. Neither of us has felt a lover’s touch, and you... I mean, you’re not even able to... Tyenna, what I’m trying to say...”
She did not have to finish her sentence. Tyenna blinked Yes. She wished she could say more, but that simple eye-blink proved eloquent enough for Venkri. The blind woman moved her hands to Tyenna’s cheeks and drew forward to kiss her tenderly. Then she stood and removed her skirt.
Tyenna watched appreciatively as Venkri slowly unfastened the crude garment and allowed it to slip from her waist to the sand. Venkri stretched her arms and legs, and turned slowly to give Tyenna a good view of her entire body.
For Tyenna the sight was overpoweringly erotic, and she had to make an effort to prevent herself spontaneously climaxing again. Venkri placed an arm behind Tyenna’s back and lowered her onto the blankets.
She kissed Tyenna passionately for long moments, and then for longer moments still. Meanwhile, her supple fingers began what was to be a long and fulfilling exploration of Tyenna’s face, breasts, buttocks, limbs and genitalia.
Snow sat nearby, watching with great interest as his two-leg friend mated with her new, silent companion.
“Oh, you feel so good,” sighed Venkri. Tyenna would have replied in a similar fashion if she could.
The sun was almost overhead by the time Venkri felt Tyenna’s body shudder involuntarily in orgasm. A moment later Venkri arrived herself, and then lay spent beside her newfound lover. Placing a finger beside Tyenna’s eye, she asked “Did you enjoy that?”
Tyenna thought, Oh, sweet Venkri. It was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Thank you, my love. You have freed me from sorrow.
Since she could say none of those things aloud, she merely blinked, Yes.
Venkri smiled. “I’m glad.” She kissed Tyenna, then said: ”Again?”
“More than once?”
Venkri chuckled. “How many times, do you think?”
Tyenna thought for a moment, and then blinked three times.
“All right,” laughed Venkri. “Just don’t blame me if I lose count!”
Hours passed in pleasant diversion. Later, neither of them could remember whether Venkri had made love to Tyenna three times, or four, or five. It didn’t seem to matter.
“I feel the wind changing. Night’s coming,” said Venkri, who was still lying atop Tyenna on the blankets. Snow had gone off to hunt himself a snack, leaving the lovers on the beach. He would return when Venkri needed him.
“We may as well sleep here tonight. Tomorrow I’ll take you up to the house. I’ll bathe you and comb your hair. Then I’ll make up the bed for us. I’ll need to wash the sand out of the blankets and dry them first, of course. Then I’ll figure out things to do that will keep us both entertained. Apart from the sex, I mean. And maybe someday...”
She paused thoughtfully for a long moment.
“Yes, someday we will find a way to break our curses. Zharna did not want us to meet. Someone or something brought us together against her wishes. Maybe it was the Maiden, or the fabled Lord Ral-ne-Sa of the jungle stories, or some other benign power. If such beings really exist, they will never allow someone like Zharna to succeed in her evil ambitions.
“No. One day Zharna will fall... and on that day you will rise. You’ll stand and walk, and I will watch you do so with my own eyes. I will see your face, and hear your voice, and feel your embrace. It may take years, but until then we have each other.”
She kissed Tyenna tenderly as a tear came to her eye. “We will never be alone again.”
Brushing aside a strand of Tyenna’s hair, Venkri touched a finger to the edge of the paralysed woman’s eye and whispered, “I love you, Tyenna.”
Tyenna blinked, Yes.
Sometimes it can take a long time for an idea to come together...
I can’t remember exactly when the germ of this story first developed, but I do know that the first image that came to my head was a girl drifting helplessly in a boat at the mercy of the storm. The next idea I had was of the boat washing ashore and a blind girl finding the paralysed girl. It took me a while to figure out how the frozen girl could communicate with the blind girl, but I have to admit I’m rather proud of the solution I came up with.
But even after I came up with the solution, it still took me well over a decade before I finally fished the ideas out of my head and committed them to prose. It was only then that I gave the characters names, supplied Venkri with a canine companion, and figured out how the boat managed to wash ashore when the curse was meant to keep it drifting.
Incidentally, you may have noticed that Tyenna was facing the bow of her boat. Normally of course a rower faces the stern, but as the story points out, it wasn’t as if Tyenna was able to do any actual rowing, so it didn’t matter which way she was facing anyway.
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