The ship rolled over wave after wave as the wind picked up like the growling beginnings of a lion's roar. The men scurried all over the deck, tying ropes and securing barrels. One of the sailors dashed up to the captain and shouted over the roaring waves and whistling wind, "A storm's picking up, sir! We should give the sails more slack so we don't lose the mast!" The captain shook his head, his beard dripping from the sea spray.
"We need to keep our pace!" His voice was strong despite three days at sea shouting orders.
"May I ask what for? We don't even know where we're going!"
"No," the captain replied, taking his piercing blue eyes off the water ahead and looking into the eyes of the other man. "But we know what we're looking for and we haven't found it yet, have we?"
"But we don't even know if it exists!"
"Not for certain, no, but we'll look for it, or die trying. That's what you volunteered for and there’s no backing out now."
The sailor nodded in agreement and left the captain, running over to help drag a trunk below decks. The captain reached into his breast pocket and fingered a folded piece of paper as if only to be reassured that it was real and safe. After a pause he pulled it out, its surface shimmering, almost metallic looking. He studied the notes painstakingly inscribed on it, making up a tune.
It made him think of home and he suddenly, vividly imagined the royals in the palace. Every one of them, queens and kings, hearing that song in their dreams every night for the past year and waking up in feverish sweat, called by the song, but not knowing what it meant. He remembered the day when he had gone before the queens and kings and had volunteered to be the captain of the fleet sent to find the song. To lead a ship out into the unknown to uncover the source of that haunting melody.
A song, beginning low and slow brought him out of his thoughts. Not the song on the paper in his hands, but a song from home, a celebratory song sung by the people of his country when heroes returned to their homeland. One of the men, standing in the middle of the deck, was singing it out through the storm-charged air. He no doubt was imagining it being sung for them when they would arrive back home with the long awaited answer for their kings and queens, with the source of the song from their dreams. More of the crew joined in and their song wove up on the wind.
Welcome back, welcome home
Cease to fight, cease to roam
The silver soldiers have returned
Burial wreathes were never burned
Great honor to the very blessed
Much feasting, singing and much rest
Songs and cheers, wines and toasts
Tales of glory, honors and boasts
Families welcome you back well
The tower rings its silver bell
Yelling, 'Victory, victory!'
Ringing it's sound of liberty
The journey's over, the battle won
Welcome home, and cease to run...
As the song faded, whisked away by the storm, the captain heard it, almost as if in response to the singing of the crew. A hauntingly beautiful melody began quietly, coming in fragments and echoes, floating between the winds from across the waters. It was the same tune heard by the kings and queens in their dreams. The song was found, now all that was left was to follow it.