Orien Journal #4

8 Ides Heron, fourth year, second lustre
From the Almanac: Complications, trivial delays, // then change of face and a fine exit.

I’ve never folded the curragh before. It was more challenging than I expected. I’ve unfolded it, of course, and then it just pops open. You pull the sides out, push the keel down, and the ribs pop out to hold the hull firm, and then you step the masts and set the rigging, and the business is done. Takes a tenth of morning, if that, and easy as honey.
But dad was the one who always folded it and put it away. I had forgotten that until half the morning was gone. Most of the work I did by hand, unstepping the masts and coiling the rigging. That part I did easily enough, though the idlers on the dock gathered and watched with growing amusement. Who folds a boat by hand and without help?
Then came the folding. By the shipwright, I was a fool. I pulled on thole-pins, yanked the gunnels, tried to haul the keel up at the fold point. Nothing. There were maybe twenty there. One of the Crimsons offered to take the thing apart, and put it back together for me. Someone else suggested selling it to them. Sell the Kingfisher? No, I think not.
Still, the boat wouldn’t fold. How hard can it be to fold a boat I’ve sailed since I was a child? This shouldn’t be that hard! And then I thought of dad, before the illness, and how easy it was for him. I think I was eight the year he brought it home from the Perdabec Fair, and we had three good years in it before the sickness.
There was quite a crowd at this time, and the coffeehouse opposite emptied, everyone come out to watch the captain who can’t fold his own boat. I was being watched, and I couldn’t help but feel there were some unfriendly eyes. Maybe a friend of the man who tried to kill me yesterday. So I told the story of Avren and Pramil at the kawntradd on Alba, and his boat disassembled on the dancing ground, the pieces set out like a compass or a wind-rose, and Avren dancing the steps. I told it well. I think. It was my first large audience, and I tried to remember all that stuff about projection and so on. As usual, the story took control after a while, but I remember there was applause and laughter when I was done, and the unfriendly eyes were gone.
And then, of course, I knew how to fold the boat. Duh. The glyph of closing, and the active rune, on the underside of the aft thwart, where dad always sat by the tiller. Traced them with my finger, and then pulled back my hand quick as the boat snapped shut and folded itself. I put it away for safekeeping; after Dolphis, I plan to walk down to the south shore, and sail out on the inland sea. There’s more gold down there than here in the north, and a storyteller could make some cash.
Oh, yes. Thirteen silvers, all worn and old, not a cleanly-marked tree or ship among them. I didn’t have my hat out, so they got tossed in my boat. I gathered them before I folded, of course, and put them away. I may need them for the Oracle.
Left Ambras by the landward gate. There’s only one road out from town, and it winds up into the hills, and then to the mountains. Thirty miles and a two day walk, the people say. I’m sleeping tonight under an oak; there’s a squirrel chattering somewhere above me. Do squirrels have gods, as men do?
Starting to rain. Time to put away the books and hunker down. More tomorrow.

4 comments

  1. He has an interesting naivete. It makes him very likable, to be an intellectual who has trouble with physical things but is able to cypher through them. And the thought about squirrel gods is just random enough to amplify his dreamer qualities. It reinforces the reasoning that led to this journey which is (i may be wrong); “Well, I’ve never been there before.”

  2. He has an interesting naivete. It makes him very likable, to be an intellectual who has trouble with physical things but is able to cypher through them. And the thought about squirrel gods is just random enough to amplify his dreamer qualities. It reinforces the reasoning that led to this journey which is (i may be wrong); “Well, I’ve never been there before.”

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