The Valkyrie’s Daughters
Part IX: Fishing
I came running out of the administration only to see Ike was still waiting near the entrance. Good, I wasn’t too late… They were packed with gear, it was quite impressive. I guess you needed that much gear to go fishing. It looked so complex.
“Ike!” I called, waving at them.
“Hey, ready to check out the beach?” They answered.
“Yeah! Sorry I’m late, Freyja got the costume department to make me some new clothes that fit my wings.” I explained, moving my wings a little, showing them their new mobility.
“Oh, awesome. That must be a relief. I’ve never thought about it but I guess having wings can be a bit inconvenient.”
“I had to cut holes in my old shirt and it’s like a huge gymnastic to get them in or out. I don’t have to do that with these clothes, they’re made with the same stuff they make superhero costumes out of, hyperweave it’s a—” I cut myself off. “I’m infodumping, am I?” I said, laughing nervously. I didn’t want to geek out and be too much of a dork.
“It’s fine, I infodump about history stuff. Kind of a history nerd.” They said with their own laugh, although I doubted they could
“Let’s go?” I proposed, smiling.
“Yup.” Ike said, I took a step only for them to speak again. “Are you going to be okay with the carrying and flying? I don’t want you to push yourself…”
I hadn’t thought about flying, I’d assumed we’d walked. I was kind of surprised they trusted me to carry them.
“Sure.” I said. “Just point me in the right direction.”
They explained the way to me, pointing west of where we were. I then picked them up, which was kind of awkward with all the stuff they were carrying. I took to the air and started flying in that direction, keeping fairly close to the ground to avoid attention and if something happened it was a short drop down…
After going over the wall then some woods, the coast went from rough slope to a small lagoon hidden by tall reefs. Unlike most of the island, there was a legitimate beach with white sand.
“Ooh this place is cool!” I said, letting us lower down to the ground where I let Ike down.
Ike slung their bag off their shoulder and onto the sand. They looked at the sky before speaking up, “looks like it’ll be a clear night so we’ll see the stars easily.”
There was an old ring of stones on the beach with some ashes in it. Clearly we weren’t the first there, but for now it was just the two of us. Ike gathered some wood that had drifted onto the beach and began making a fire. I just stared at them, not quite sure what to do to help.
“How did you find this place?” I asked after a quiet minute.
“Oh, I looked at satellite imaging of the island to get an idea of what was around. I noticed this secluded part of the beach and thought it’d be a good place to go if I ever needed time to myself.”
Secluded was right, the sea side had a reef and there was an incline about a meter or two high with thick bushes on the other sides.
“Coool.” I said. I looked around and removed my shirt. I’d switched to a bikini top earlier. “I love beaches, my parents and I went to Italy a few years ago and it was amazing.” I put it down by Ike’s bag before removing my shoes and letting my feet sink in the sand, enjoying the feeling of thousands of little grains softly brush against my skin.
“Not many people fish on this island, it’s all offshore with boats, so we should be able to get something.” They said as they finished the campfire, small flames starting to erupt on the logs.
“It’s so cool you can cook. I can only make curry.” Cooking was hard, there was so much stuff to know, so much stuff to watch out for, different techniques to master.
“Don’t worry too much about it. Everybody has different strengths.” They went to their bag and grabbed the rod, fiddling with it and doing things I didn’t really get. “So, do you wanna try out fishing? I’ve already put the bait on the hook.”
“Sure.” I came to their side and we went to the shore line. They made a little demonstration on how to cast the line and how to hold it and move it.
It took me a few tries to get it right. I had to be careful, didn’t want to risk mess up, have the rod slip and fly away…
“And now we wait and see if anything bites.” Ike said. They walked back toward the fire.
“How long does that usually take?”
“It varies. I’ve not fished here so I don’t know how long it could t-”
I let out a little scream, I’d felt something tug at the rod, almost panicked and dropped it. I froze then looked toward Ike who had come back. “What do I do?” I asked.
“Slowly real the line in, I’ll grab the net.” They grabbed a net and I reeled it in, very slowly. “Take it carefully, if the fish freaks out too much it could rip itself free.”
It was kind of exciting but scary, I had to be careful and steady. Ike’s encouragement helped me stay focused and not panic. After a long struggle, the fish got closer, started splashing water in the shallow and Ike caught it with the net.
“Nice catch.” They said, showing me the fish.
I grinned. It was big. I think. It was almost as long as an arm. It had gray scales with black lines. “I caught a fish.” I practically screamed in excitement. I couldn’t stop myself from flapping my arms in excitement, only to drop the rod. Ike caught it before it could hit the water.
“Close call, but it’s fine.” They said with a laugh.
“What is it?”
“Looks like a striped bass to me. I’ll prepare that, want to try catching another one?”
I nodded. “I won’t drop the rod this time!” I promised, casting the line again after Ike baited it.
This time, it didn’t bite right away. I looked back at Ike and saw them cutting up the fish. “What are you going to make?”
“I’m going to fry the fish in oil with some spices.” They kept their eyes on the fish, removing the fillets. “Got veggies cooking in foil that I just buried in the hot ashes.”
“That sounds good though.”
“Glad you like it.” They said.
There was a quiet moment, nothing was biting and Ike was focused on the food.
“Do you cook on a campfire often? It must be hard, it’s so hot.” I asked.
“I’ve done it once every other month for the past couple of years. I’d spend a lot of my holidays with my uncle when I wasn’t…away for family engagements.”
“What kind of family engagement?”
“Erm, charity balls, fancy brunches. All events to help my parents stay socialites, more my mum. She thrives in that environment. My dad just did it so he could catch up with other tycoons in the business. I was there to be a wallflower and help the family look good. Until I cut my hair. That really pissed off my mum.”
“My mum has outdated notions on what a ‘girl’ should and shouldn’t do. My dad didn’t get angry, but I could tell I disappointed him. My uncle Niels didn’t care though.”
I frowned. “That’s not good… Except for your uncle, he sounds nice.”
“He is, he took an essay I wrote and applied for Ravenhold for me, heh. I’d wanted to come here and mentioned it to him but I wasn’t in a good place with my parents and there was some other stuff. I wasn’t in a good place in my head either. I would’ve never had the courage to apply.”
“I’m sorry… ” I came back toward them.“Can I give you a hug?”
“Sure,” they replied, smiling.
I approached, only to realize I was still holding the fishing rod. I put it down and then gave Ike a hug, wrapping my arms around them, my wings too and holding on tightly. I kept them in my arm for a moment before letting go.
“Your wings are really warm and nice…” They said. “Oh, eh, Dinner’s ready.”
I smelled the air and the food’s scent mixed with the salty breeze of the ocean. “That smells so good.” I said. I grabbed the rod again and reeled the line back and put it down by Ike’s bags. “No luck on fish number two.”
“That’s fine, the first one was plenty enough for the two of us. Striped bass is a tough fish for a newbie too.”
“Maybe I’m gifted.” I joked. “I can fly, I can punch things really hard and I can catch fish!”
Ike laughed. “If we ever get caught on a deserted island, that’ll handy.”
“I’d just fly us away though.”
Ike took out paper plates and put fried fish along with potatoes and chopped corn on the cob they had cooked wrapped in foil. They’d prepared that ahead of time, it was really smart of them.
Ike laid down a blanket and we sat down on it, although I buried my feet in the sand, enjoying the sensation. With a plastic fork I took a piece of fish and put it inside my mouth; it was lemony, and peppery, the fish itself had strong flakes and a rich flavor, not like frozen fish I was used to.
“This is so good!” I said. “You’re amazing.”
“I’m just letting the fish shine with its own taste and freshness, you’re the one who caught it.”
“But I would’ve burnt it, or probably not been able to get it off the bones like you did.”
“I’ve had plenty of practice, you could do it too.”
We kept eating for a moment. The vegetables were great, they’d cut up some spicy sausage and cooked them in its juices.
“What do you think of the school?” I asked. “I think it’s great, even if Rook beat my butt.”
“I love it! The Rook beat all our butts so don’t need to feel bad … Although the fight against Erik was pretty funny. You’d think he would’ve been able to manage at least a few seconds if he’s come to Ravenhold.”
I laughed. Although to be fair we hadn’t well as a group except for one or two of us.
“Want to go swim? I haven’t gone swimming since I got my wings.” I asked once I was done with my portion of our dinner.
“We should probably wait til 30 minutes after eating.” They said with a weird little laugh.
“Isn’t that a myth?” I’d never had any problems before.
“It’s a myth you’ll drown but some people do experience discomfort if they swim immediately after a meal.”
“Oh. I really want to see how my wings take water. They were okay in the shower, but swimming’s different.”
“Okay. I’m not really up for swimming right now. It’s getting late and the water’s gonna be pretty cold. But you’re probably able to handle that knowing your powers,”
I went into the water alone and slightly disappointed. I was expecting my wings to get heavy and take water, but they didn’t. Instead I found them useful to swim ever faster. On the shore, Ike was lost in his tablet…