Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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The Solitaire Crow - Ivinia - 9

9 Adrift – and Home

Beat the Drum, with yo-yo-yo Hum
For it is Rhythm that we want, we go, we must play.
Beat the drum, with yo-yo-yo Hum
Chant the flute, with a melody through it.
For it is Pattern that we want, we go, we must play.
Chant the flute, with a melody through it.
Singing the voice, with a gentle rhyme to it.
For it is in and out we want, we go, We must play.
Singing the voice, with a gentle rhyme to it.
Line Dance, ca. 650, Ivinia

A board of wood floats gently across the sea, with nails of wood and iron, with a bit of cloth and string. The sky is clear, and the waves are tender – the only wisps of clouds float as a gentleness, as if an illuminator was drawing on blue. And on top of it was laying down the Watcher – in that heavy mist of sleeping and waking, where he could not tell the difference between them. The coming blackness still clung to his vision, and he could see the difference between himself sleeping, and himself wide-awake. There was a difference that could only be described in colors – asleep it was black – where as waking up it was red, though a darkened red.

In this in between lands, he dreamed of things which he could not describe – things that would make no sense, and in the evening of his life would draw his site away from the things that were in front of him – and off into the distance. As if he were trying to recollect something that was captured out of the corner of his eye. But the distance was to great.

But then he truly awoke, and the sun was shining at a low ground on his face. And in that moment of consciousness, he knew not to open his eyes – because they would have been blinded by the intense light. For though it was a high noon light, it did not ever rise more than three fists from the horizon, even at noon.

It was at that moment that he wished he could remember the Skald, her voice, and the lyre he found where she slept. He quietly recited a fragment of a poem, because he knew it well – and reciting it would give him the will. Feoh byth frofur fira gehwylcum. It was the old meter, Fornyrdislag. It was times like these which he went back to learning the old ways, and old patterns. The short words intermixed with long strophes. Short weak – short strong – long strong – holding the breath.

He then spun around the compass points, and saw with his face pointed in each of the direction: East, South, West, and North – though he made careful to avoid the sun. But what he saw was nothing but sea. It was as if he was floating towards nothing, and with a growl in his heart that this would be the end, the bitter end. Then he saw another bit of wood, with, perhaps, a body on it. Thus he stroked over to it, though it took almost an hour to catch up with it. Eventually he saw that it was the Skald – though unconscious. He realized that she was actually beautiful, though she took great pains to disguise this most of the time. It then occurred to him, that normally she did not do so – because in the context of her life – she was a prize with which her father bargained a good marriage. Thus her going out most have had consequences, which he could only dream about – since he was not a noble, or anything like it. For him, this was a job – for her this was an adventure.

Though he put this aside, and concentrated on joining their planks together – it wandered it his thought until he forced aside. At last he was able to do this, and took pieces that would tie themselves together. What he did not expect, was that at the instant that he was doing this, she rolled up to a crouched position – and leveled her sword.

“It is well and good – I am here as a survivor, as are you. You should be looking out, for whatever hope that we can find, rather than within.” He was as calm as could be.

“Of course it was expected that you - of all people – would survive.” Though her body was on edge – which was only natural – her face was as calm as his was.

Realizing that the best approach was to soothe her – and he adopted a tone of voice voice which was soft and slightly higher. Almost like he was reciting his child to sleep. And yet it worked.

He too, would class his lips close around her ear. He too, would form words which did not have any meaning except to the one who had heard them. There came from the mouth a sweet murmuring that almost no one would believe came from a roughened man. It was not prose nor poetry, but something so sublime as to defy either of those concepts. When he told back from his long tale, he scanned her face, to decide whether that had been the correct response. That her face looked like a child, and seemed to understand that indescribable sense of childlike, but not childish, behavior told him that the work that he set out to do, was done. Though to be fair, the old tales had something to do with the shape of what he took. Again the strophes had power, and prose. He was, for a moment Father to her Daughter.

Then he asked her to tell her story as well, and since she was also gifted as a bard, he settled back to listen – though he would graft the two boards together, and look out to the beyond for a sense that they might be rescued. For her part, though she squatted down, she also raised her posture, and began to tell the tale. Like his tale, it was of short words and long strophes – because they were alike in the story that they told – even though they were far apart in nobility.

Once the lyre was taken out, and ready to her grasp. There was an air taken on, that the rhyme was of a high character, as if she was telling a bit of a large story, that everyone would know something about.

It began with a call to a particular demigod, and asked him for the wisdom to tell the story, as it should be told. It was a nod to the Saga of Bjarri Threehand, of course. But there was a newness in the voice, but then this was clearly from the heart of Ivinian poetry, and she made different uses of the the short bursts that announced a new subject, and the leaving off of a rhyme at the end of the same subject. Of course, distancing herself from the tale – as if it were being told as if it were at a place that was a memory – was of course an old way of putting it in a kind of perspective.

She told of how the commander came down, how he was a mighty figure – and then how his opponent was ghastly in its form – while she made little mention of her heart. This back and forth was common, but she served it well. Then she had told this tale, they sat there for a long time, but just as the short night had ended – they saw a long ship in the distance, with a glean of amber light. And after she stopped – hoping for applause, which was almost perfunctory given, and told her that she needed to do work on this – she asked what she could do to improve this. After all, she was not going to have comments from those who had seen it. Then she folded her hands.

The Watcher mentioned that he had noticed that she mentioned the reaching out of the Bard, and perhaps she should do more with the movements of the figures. At which point, she wanted to do something with the roving lyre, and hint that there was some purpose to it – but there was not a space to do so. It took three times as long to analyze this, as it did to tell it. But she really did listen to the advice – which was more than some men would do.

It was on the ship, which naturally was an Ivinian whaler that they were pull into. Their they found to other people from their doomed long ship: the priest and Gwynwyffer. The priest welcomed them, though he still did not speak the northern language that well. But that was made up for by the green dressed ragamuffin, because there was almost no stopping the constant upwelling from his female companion. She talked incessantly, though it answered some questions that they had. For example, she was not worried about the elves: apparently Green could swim for a long way, easily to the next island. And Loria? There was a hush about her – which said nothing and everything. She had at least one more secret – her means of escape, which nothing would extract from the green dressed lady. 

There were other snippets of information, as well. There are those who say they have seen her again – in various places, there are some who have heard that she encountered Morgath, or one of his demons. I confess, I do not know.

Of course, it was expected, that vessel moved back the way it came. They met captain – who explained why they would not by surprised if they met them. One of the men, who minded the weapons store, had seen all of the food that they carried – but no harpoons were ordered. Nor was there enough weapons to viking. Thus when another ship went in – this whaling ship in fact – he told them the tale, and said that they were not whaling, viking, nor settling – because there were almost no women. He did this without the knowledge of the town's mayor – instead he secretly told the next captain that something was going on.

It was this that caused a great deal of concern – because what if someone else had heard this? On the real of the boat, the priest talked with the silver owl about this.

“I think that all along the ocean, there is a … I do not know the word, but ..” He was looking for “hesitation” and so used his language instead. Gwynwyffer just shook her hand, which meant that she understood. He then began: “Everything is secret along the ocean.”

At which point, though slowly because she knew that the priest would only understand fitfully. “You must go further south than I must, but I think you will be happier doing so. What caused you to go with a crew that some of you knew to be Naveh?”

“The plan was to go with these people, because they were at least human. And they would look out for the Morgath at least as much as we would.”

“But surely you knew that they were going to kill you.”

“There was only about half the crew, and they were not faithful. Evil gods do not gain a kind of ...” He again looked for word, though he found it in the hymns to his goddess: “unison. That meant that, with two elves, the numbers were on their side – but the force was on our side.” For the first time, he grinned broadly.

At this point she nodded – though it great deal of effort to listen rather than talk. But then she shifted over to his language. It was clear that she was better at this than he was in any other language: it was marked that she had a gift for speaking a language much faster than anyone else could do so. The topic then turned to his native land – and all of the wonders there. Though she had checkered the world by Godstones, she did not touch this area at all. It took very little to get him to speak about it, the flora and fauna, the customs, and such will of detail that he had acquired. Since he did not travel with the high class, is prospective was different. He recounted the lands of the savanna, which was not something that she knew about. He tried to explain their were only two seasons: a wet and dry. 

She knew nothing about this, because on this world there were only a few patches that this was a normal phenomena. Then she listened to him recounting the stepped pyramids, which were the sign of a great, but decidedly hierarchical, society. It was clear that she had a gift for listening, as well as for talking.

The conversation between the two branched out in two her land as well, on the magical island of Hârn – which even he had heard of. She talked about the Godstones – and how they came upon one which was unguarded except for a hive of gargun. Though she minimized her own participation, she recounted how they had opened the secret to teleporting through it, and arrived at places that they did not imagine. Or at least most of them did not imagine.

At the end of her discourse, he remarked he had never heard anything like that, and that she must had more than just luck. It was a revelation to him.

The Watcher, however, just brooded – about how he left, how he led the people under his watch to the whaling islands. And what happened there. He knew that he was observant, but the tangle of things was more than he could tangle aside easily. He watched over the rail, out to the West, and wondered if there would be more that he did not understand. Over and over again he thought that this might be his last voyage – and he would take to farming, as he did when he was under his father's care. But something stirred inside of him, and he knew that there was at least one more voyage in him. He too the about all of the creatures, both living and undead that he had encountered. He thought of the elves, and of the Pradeylki, and of the undead – both free and unfree. It was to much to think about.

But think about it he did, both in the present, and afterwards. Most people saw very little of the underbelly of the world. Or they only saw it in snatches – and would run from it, into their hovels, ended their homes. It was only a few who would face what they saw. Even the people who did in fact see it divided into two categories: the ones who would not see it at all, and the ones who would imagine everything differently, and tell a wild tale that for nothing like the truth. The first type gradually accepted that they saw nothing, while the second type would mutter to themselves about what they had really seen.

Meanwhile, the ship moved from Hutheng, and back to the main lands of Ivinia – From the ocean to the sea, from the sea to the bay. That is how they were rescued - by a Ivinia ship which had been warned to look for them. There was a stop at Lokis, to explain what was going out there on the whaling islands. I should tell about the further adventures of the Skald – or how men came to the Watcher to ask on details, so to find various things that were mentioned. And in due course I will set them down. Their are more bits of the story, but my pen is drying, and my words have been drained away - and I must rest - because I am deeply old.

And who am I? Rest you eyes in the first building that you looked at, and I was there – though underneath a table, hiding among the boots that were by the fire, looking at my grandfather. I was not a man nor a youth, but just barely more than an infant. Who was my father? He was the Watcher, of course. Though my presence was not noticed at the time, I listened and learned, and would eventually come to write my story. My language is not the one that I learned as a child, but as an adult in southern climes. Because they are there is an ornate and fluid use of the words – which clearly is not the case from Ivinia. It is been a long time since I have used such language as I was taught in the early years of my childhood. A very long time, and far away. I wish I could just once gazes on my homeland shore, but that will never happen in my lifetime. I have been wondering for as did my father, though it takes a different form with me.

Over time, I learned the story backwards and forwards – and committed a version to memory. Though I was not a poet, later on I learned the art of writing. I would set things down to words, and in the end came to this copy. The end was violent, more violent than anything I have seen – more brutal than anything that others have told me. And while I do not believe all of what was relayed to me, I set it down, faithfully.For whose else can tell the story of men, of Pradeylki, of the gods who inspired, and tormented them, and of the demigods who worked their will? Of the elves, and all their wonder. Who can tell you all of this? Though I realize that I only have have or even a quarter of the story, it is the last part which counts.


Fin

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