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Old 01-08-2004, 08:42 PM   #36
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
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Sting

Rôg

They were three days out of Harlond, soon to be heading out of the bay to open sea. Faragaer’s lugger had skimmed down the river, sails catching the wind as she sped down the center of the channel. There had been a brief layover at Pelargir, just enough time to take on a pallet of woven cages, fifty in all, bearing pairs of quail – all bound for the tables of Umbar’s more prominent citizens.

A riot of loud sounds had accompanied their transfer to the deck of The Scuppered Gull, becoming higher in pitch when the net which swung them to the ship was caught for a moment as it passed over the railing, jostling the small, chunky, short-tailed birds, frightening them.

. . . ka-KA-ko! . . . ka-KA-ko! . . . they cried to one another. The old man had clucked his tongue and followed after them once they were lowered into the dimly lit cargo hold; his presence offering them a moment of calm reassurance.

Rôg had watched as the greyed top of his companion’s head disappeared below the rim of the hatch. ‘I should go down, too,’ he thought to himself, barely suppressing a belch as his stomach revolted at the thought of the small, dark, enclosed space rocking however gently on the river’s current.

Two of the crew members passed by him as he stood at the railing, he recalled, his gaze now fixed on the small quay and the land beyond it. One jostled the other and pointed with his chin at the bedraggled man with the ghastly pale green tinge that underlay the olive complexion. ‘Don’t know how he’ll weather the real waves once we bear south along the coast,’ he whispered. The other had reached for the bucket with wood shavings they had learned to keep near the younger man and pushed it near the bilious looking passenger. ‘Nor do I,’ affirmed the other crewmember, ‘but I guess he’ll keep me busy with the planer.’

The two nodded, with as much sympathy as they could muster, to Rôg as they passed on to their tasks. And he had pulled the bucket up to him, hugging it to his chest like some long lost love, his head resting on the rim.

And so he had remained, the last fifty leagues from the relative calm of the bay to the Great Sea; his claim on that portion of the deck and railing given up only for brief periods when sheer exhaustion claimed him and he dragged himself below deck to his and Aiwendil’s small cabin. During one of these retreats to his hammock, the older man’s ice blue eyes crinkled with concern and a hint of mild amusement at his companion’s discomfiture. The wind from the west had picked up as they turned south, and the waves beat at the side of the ship in a rhythmic manner.

‘It will be a long, insufferable trip I fear, for you, my friend,' he said, shaking his head sympathetically as a groan escaped from the depth of the hammock’s netting. ‘Perhaps you should consider trying an alternative.’ The sound of the young man retching, the unfortunately familiar sour stench of ship’s biscuit revisited, drove the older man from the small cabin. He exited quickly and shut the door to the cabin firmly, his footsteps fading as he climbed up the steps to the main deck.

Rôg raised his head cautiously from the mouth of the bucket, the wave of nausea receding. In a small moment of clarity he nodded at the door which now stood closed. ‘Moth,’ he mumbled, pulling himself shakily to his feet. ‘I don’t recall ever hearing that moths throw up.’

The window of clarity and calm passed as the very last remnants of breakfast met the already soggy shavings . . .

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-07-2004 at 11:55 AM.
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