Chapter Fourteen

on December 25, 2009 in Evermist

© 2009, Patrick Hester.  All Rights Reserved

Chapter Fourteen

Two more stops in cities much smaller than Southport that afforded no chances for shoreleave had left Eli and his friends restless and, in Fyet’s case, quite green.  For his part, Eli didn’t think a life at sea would ever be in his own future; he simply could not get used to the feeling of confinement below decks nor the motion of the ship and the way it affected his stomach.  Were it not for Narut’s miracle root, he was sure he would be in no better shape than Fyet.

Nearly two months after dinner with Narut’s family at The Lady Elle, SeaSpray slipped into a berth on a cold morning when the sky was overcast and the wind cut even through Eli’s cloak pulled tightly around him.

Broat supported the very green Fyet as the four friends made their way down the gangplank and onto the docks.  The second mate, Adia, smiled and waved at Narut as they passed by.  Eli saw them whispering together more than once over the course of the journey North, and Narut blushed whenever he mentioned it.  Eli was glad to have the chance to make his friend feel the same heat in his face that he’d had to endure about Millie.

Pausing at that thought, he shook his head.  How could thinking of Millie make him both happy and sad at the same time?  It didn’t make any sense.  There was none of the talk with her as there’d been with Anise; no ‘move on with your life’ and ‘don’t wait for me’, oh no.  Millie would have none of it.  She promised to write to him and made him promise to write back.  He had no idea how often he would manage, but it was a promise that he knew he had to keep.  Part of him hoped that she did not keep her promise to him, that she met some local guard or better, a tradesman, who could provide for her.  Another part raged at the thought of anyone else holding her in their arms.

He shook his head again.

As their boots thudded on the long stone pier, he looked around.  They were not on Evermist, but they were as close as one could be and still call it Paerleon; Corrac’amor, also known as ‘Lands End’ because it was the northernmost point of the isle.  Some called it the edge of the world.  Just out of site on the horizon, one hundred marks north, lay Evermist.  He felt a sudden surge of excitement as he realized that this was the spot where the island had been broken so very long ago.  The books he’d read never gave any details as to how the island had been broken in two, but he was sure he’d read something about it long ago.  This was the spot.

“…a whole day off that blasted boat!” Fyet groaned, and Broat chuckled.

Eli grinned, returning his gaze to the city before them, studying it.  Where Valles and Southport had buildings of wood, brick and mortar, the buildings here looked as if they’d been carved layer after layer straight from the dark stone of the sharp mountains behind rather than built.  The more he stared, the more he decided that was exactly what had happened – an entire city carved from stone rather than built from wood and mortar.  He shook his head at that, wondering how such a thing could ever be accomplished.  The mountains did not look as if they were very kind or that they would give up their stone willingly.  Steep and sharp, they seemed to grow strait and tall, blocking out the horizon.  As he looked closer, though, he saw that, though steep, they were not straight – more like the lip of a bowl, slowly curving up and away from the harbor, rising up and up behind the city.

His wonder faded through, realizing that there was no color in that rock except for the white of snow.  He saw no green, no shrubs or trees – just stone.  Like a reflection of that dullness, the city had just gray or black stone with the occasional painted door or window shutter.  It made it all feel very heavy and bleak when he’d hoped for a moment or two of light and hope after the long journey and the confinement of the ship.  He knew this was an ancient city, if not the oldest, but he thought it should be… different, somehow.  Brighter.  Maybe living in the shadow of Evermist for so long had worn it down.

The air was crisp and clean, but very cold.  His breath fogged as he exhaled and he had to wear his heavier coat with a scarf beneath his cloak, pulling his hat down low and wishing he’d thought to add the thicker socks from his rucksack as his toes were freezing in his boots.  Everywhere he looked, there was a light dusting of snow; the buildings, the ground beyond the dock – and especially the dark mountains looming behind the city.

A pair of guards in Militia uniforms stopped them as they headed towards the town, trudging through the slosh.  There were no gates here, no walls or checkpoints or harbormasters – only the two guards.

“There’s nowhere to go boys,” said the taller of the two.  “No roads in or out of Corrac’amor.  Only way to get in or out is by sea.”

Narut smiled, “Just looking for a place to stretch our legs, maybe get a bite to eat and something to drink?”

“Lots of places for that,” smiled the guard.  “Looking for anything extra?”

“Ah,” Elias blushed.  “I don’t think so…”

“Try The Salty Sea, two blocks up on the left.  Always a good pint there for Militia and at a fair price.  Mutton is passable.”

“Thank you,” Narut said, and the others echoed him.

They found The Salty Sea quick enough, snuggled around a corner with a bright fire burning and fresh bread and stew waiting for them.  Despite the stone exterior, the inside was quite warm and friendly, with red tablecloths on the dozen or so tables, each adorned with a candle in a small, globe shaped holder.  Elias bought a round of the dark beer for everyone, and they each ordered meals from the silver-haired innkeeper, who smiled and fussed over them as if they were her own kin back from a long trip abroad.

As the warmth began to take hold, chasing the chill away from their bones, they began telling tales, making each other laugh and lamenting their last night of freedom all while the beer flowed and the innkeeper fussed.

2 Responses to “Chapter Fourteen”

  1. FARfetched says:

    Good job establishing the characters… I expect the *real* action will start in the next few chapters.

  2. K. Godwin says:

    He is modelling his style on Modesitt…so I suspect it will be around Chapter 20-25 before the real action starts. 🙂

    Merry Christmas Folks

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