Every morning, I would watch the boats head out to sea, and count them.
Every morning, 23 boats, men armed, shields at the ready would slide along the glassy water to fight the far flung evil that needed to be conquered.
I was but a young girl, and enjoyed spending my time waiting and dreaming of what these brave men did.
Every night, I would strain my eyes to count the boats as they came home triumphant. Every night, 23 boats would return with the wounded and the dead, shields for their beds. They would all walk past, weary from the battle, completely unaware that I watched them in their lowest hour.
I loved these men, the way that anyone loves a hero. Regardless of their ups and down, I cheered for them, every morning and every night.
It was a day like any other. 23 boats took to the seas, filled with eager men, shouting their chants to revile the weary old souls. I watched as they faded away like I always did.
But that evening, everything changed. 24 boats came to harbour.
This extra boat wasn’t like those that left with the sunrise. There was no one aboard.