Prologue

On a tiny, gray island that seemed to be mostly rock, a man stood with his young daughter, looking out at the sea. The little girl of only six years sat on her father's shoulders, small arms clinging to his head. Her snow-colored hair whipped about in the wind, and her almost equally pale eyes were wide at the sight of the vast roaring expanse of water before them.

"Are there really big adventures out there daddy? Like the ones in your stories?"

The man laughed.

"Yes. There are people and places and wonders and adventures so great you could not possibly imagine them."

"When can I go there? Tomorrow?"

He laughed again, kindly.

"Maybe not quite tomorrow. Someday, my little princess, I'll take you there myself. You'll see the wonders I've seen with your own eyes."

"Let's go today!" She pleaded.

"We'd better get on home. Your mother will be cross if we're late for dinner!"

The girl sighed.

/

/

The nine year old girl stood in the door way of a small stone house, fighting back tears as she gazed up at her father.

"How long will you be gone?" she asked, voice shaking.

His eyes were tired and sad. The girls mother had yelled and screamed, then pleaded and argued, but he had remained adamant. The girl had only watched with a great sadness in her eyes.

" I don't know, my love. It might be at most ten years."

Her lip quivered.

"You promise to come back? No matter what?"

He had already promised more than once, but she needed to hear it one more time.

" I promise. Nothing in the world could keep me away."

He embraced her for a minute, then backed away.

"Now chin up, princess. Let me see a smile."

She smiled bravely.

"That's my girl"

He smile at her, then turned and walked into the gathering dark. She stood in the doorway for a long time. Then she ran up the stairs, into the small loft over the kitchen, flung herself on her straw mattress and sobbed until she had no tears left.

/

/

The sky was a bright, clear blue, the winds warm. A teenage girl stood astride a small raft, a smile on her face and her eyes blazing. She was setting out, away from her island prison, into the great blue.

I might die. She thought, still smiling. But I'm free. I'm free! Father! I'm going to have great adventures, and I'm going to find you!

So thinking, she steered her tiny craft into the mighty ocean.