Legends whose true tales are obscured by the mists of time can serve as inspiration for today’s stories, or hide creatures of the night. While dragons rule the skies, shipfish swim the depths and leap in a graceful arc between the deep blue and the air above.
The inspiration for the shipfish of the Windmaster Novels came from watching dolphins in both real-life and on television. The intelligence, loyalty and bravery demonstrated by Darwin from the television program Sea Quest and the iconic Flipper from the show of the same name helped create the fantasy creatures called “shipfish.”
Tradition stated the companionship of shipfish on a voyage meant good fortune and smooth sailing. Captains were known to keep a bucket of fish on the bow for a quick toss to any shipfish that crossed the vessel’s path. Sometimes it was for an escort through the harbor or for an especially lucky vessel, as company as the ship crossed the ocean. The tribute was to the creatures themselves and to the water gods they represented.
The crew of Sea Falcon and the other vessels that sailed the seas of the Windmaster Novels called shipfish, the “sailor’s friend.” The creatures earned the nickname because more than one sailor who had been washed overboard found their lives saved by shipfish towing them to land. This excerpt recounts a lesser known duty shipfish perform—carrying a sailor to their final resting place in the depths of the ocean.
“On the dirge’s final note, the crew tilted the board. A solitary ripple marred the surface of the lake when the body dropped into its dark depths.
A crewman’s cry of surprise at the two shipfish who rose alongside the ship broke Ellspeth’s inward focus. She felt the crew’s awe as the sea creatures’ whispery sounds repeated the funeral dirge. Their silver bodies surged upward to balance on split tails.
“Almost like the King’s Guard,” a grizzled crewman at the rail offered. His observation of an honor guard came true when two more shipfish surfaced—the body balanced between their large back fins. The Sea Falcon’s crew stood motionless while eerie whistles echoed across the lake. When the final note of the unusual dirge faded away, the shipfish and their cherished burden slipped out of sight.”
Besides the shipfish that swim the oceans of the Windmaster Novels, the creatures are also the heart of legends. The most notable is that of the star-crossed lovers Iol and Pelra whose story is told in the newly released, Windmaster Legend.
A wish to the reader – if you can’t fly with dragons, may you swim with shipfish.
Fate conspired to keep Iol and Pelra apart. Friendship is allowed between members of competing trading houses, but nothing more. He loves the sea and wants his own ship. She hates the deep blue and has worked too hard to allow her dreams to be sidetracked by the lure of magic. Despite a beautiful woman on his arm every night, Leod wanted the one he couldn’t have—Pelra. His kin on the ruling council did more than put him on the fast track to his own ship. It provided him the power to fulfill his desires, or to ruin those who refused him.
Exiled to distant posts, given impossible challenges, and subject to Leod’s machinations, Iol and Pelra only have the hope of a future together to sustain them. But can their love survive the accusation of witchcraft?
About Helen Henderson:
Although the author of several local histories and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction. Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal-miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign. Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels. In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination.
I hope everyone wants to swim with the shipfish. You don’t even need to know how to backstroke. Just hold onto the fin and have a good time.