Though Benda was accustomed to navigating by the stars, his method was confounded in this region, on account of what seemed to be different stars. Instead, he followed the directions of the High Augur, which had been to head towards the rising sun by day, and by night, towards a constellation which was new to Benda, the Five Sisters.
Thus they sailed for three days and three nights. They supped lightly from the preserves they had brought for the voyage, and talked only a little. After their first joyful song on the instruments given to them by the High Augur, they did not again make music, but passed their time quietly: looking off into the distance, napping, and, Benda increasingly found, trying to recollect the memories of Quatria which he was now aware were slipping away from him.
On the third night, as they pointed their vessel toward the Five Sisters, and the sea was calm, Benda finally broached the subject with Ofend, his traveling companion.
“Tendar,” he began uncertainly. “Do you… remember?”
Ofend gave him a puzzled look in return. “Remember what?”
“The place,” Benda said. “The people… where we were.”
Ofend looked thoughful, “I remember the music. Music everywhere you went…”
“And someone we left behind,” Benda was shocked he could not recall their name.
“Yeah, hm… Tall guy,” Ofend said. “Very dry sense of humor. Yes — where has he got off to now?” He looked genuinely confused.
“I wish I knew,” said Benda. “I wish I knew.”
On the third morning, their routine was interrupted. Though Ofend was supposed to be keeping watch, he too had fallen asleep. Benda awoke with a start, internally recognizing that it was — or should be — well past day-break. But the sun had not risen.
He shook Ofend awake, pointing to the sky.
“No stars. No sunrise,” he said, worry mounting.
A thick mist began to roll in, making it impossible to see. Though there was nothing to be seen. All was black, blacker than night. But for the mist, which seemed to hang bodily in the air.
And then the wind started. A quiet whistling far off, a whispering whoosh, which rapidly turned into gusting and then a gale. The sea rose up in troubled response. Their tiny vessel was tossed about like a toy in the tempest on the giant swells which swept up, crashing. Waves roared over the sides of the boat, hurling themselves across the deck, seeking to sweep over anything not already sufficiently lashed down.
Ofend spied a knot coming undone, which held one of their barrels of food. Instinctively, he got up to fix it.
Benda shouted at him through the waves and water, “Leave it! Get down!”
No sooner had he said this than a great wave crashed over the side of the boat, sending Ofend off his feet, and tumbling over the side into the raging waters below.
Benda raced to the side, took up one of the two long oars with which the vessel was equipped, and angled the broad end of it down into the water near Benda, who was yet within reach — if only he could just get a little bit further…
With one hand, Benda gripped the oar, stretching to his maximum to get it to Ofend, and with the other held on tightly to the side of the boat. Another swell hit their broadside and a wave crashed violently over the deck. And though Benda retained his grip on the boat, he lost hold of the oar, which slipped into the water.
As he righted himself, he saw that Ofend had managed to grab hold of the oar finally, and was using its natural buoyancy to help him tread water. But the current by now had carried him well out of the distance of even the throw of a weighted rope, Benda judged. And there was precious little left for him to do but watch as Ofend was swept out to sea, and make sure at least that he himself hunkered down and withstood the storm. This he did, though he wept bitterly for the loss of his friend, the salt of his tears mixing freely with the salt of the sea which took him.