Kalamite, Keefer-Papa of the Runman Order
The gates were locked. But of course the cunning gates are locked. Look at the sky, you drip-headed jert. This is night!
Are you speaking to me in such foul terms?
He gave no answer but looked around him. He was alone. And—nixt!—he was on the wrong side of the gate. This was that Verth-Twin’s fault, the Alive-Twin. Aiya-aiy, he would pay for it; how he would pay! He would get everything, EVERYTHING, that he deserved.
My lover, my mother, I will be with you. I will. At the very first light, as soon as the gates; I shall make amends. I will do penance. I will. I shall give the full of my own fluids: my blood, my semen, my love. Aiy, my love. My love.
He turned away, face wetting with tears. But he couldn’t linger, not here by the gates. And he had had enough nights spent in stables. He would return to the barque; he would spend the night there. But he would not sleep, he was not able.
But, nixt! The world was trampling upon his body and every foot studded with spikes. How he hurt. He ached. He yearned to be with his mother, his lover, and suck of her brilliant red-bead nipples. The joy, the bliss, the ecstasy!
He stopped at the Tuthe and gasped, icicle fingers driving hard through his hair as he scratched at his scalp. Where did he leave the Rose?
He remembered thinking to moor at Black Reach, that being the nearest (he’d been almost there). But so many ships there, with cunning seamen aboard each one of them, and all shaking their cunning fists at him. He remembered glaring in return. He may have thrown an insult or two. Or was it he who first had insulted the men and they’d then responded with fists?
Deuce and verily, he’d a memory as loose and rubbery as the hollow ropes that Mathon made in his Manufactory. And he always so sharp. He shook his head to try to clear it, to knock his thoughts back where he could find them. Stabling them like horses, my thoughts and prepositions neatly tucked into stalls.
He laughed at himself. Nixt, prepositions? Mayhap he’d intended to say oppositions. Aiy, everyone in opposition to him.
But, hats and horses being beside it, he remembered, clearly, he had pushed the Rose through the clashing confluence waters to bring her into the Tuthe. He had done that, he clearly remembered he had.
Nixt! A stray goat ahead on the lane was rubbing its beard against an old mulberry bush. Kalamite leapt aside to give a wide berth—a very wide berth. Though he hadn’t noticed the puss sat on its back, not till he looked back. The cat hissed at him then, and spat—and morphed into a stew before his eyes: that same stew as Mikel had been rumbling. She pointed at him accusingly as her clothes fell away. He turned his head quickly, no desire to see it, he only would vomit. Had Matikkas done that to her, made such a messy Aiya, but that wasn’t his doing. He didn’t tell the old holde to do that. He shivered.
And this wasn’t helping to find his barque.
He kicked at a stone. He kicked at another. He had to admit, though usually of a sweet placid nature, right now his fingers were curling to claws and his teeth were grinding and if anyone now got into his way he would encircle whoever’s the throat with his hands and he’d twist. Aiy, that’s what he’d do, he would twist said throat and shove down his fist and . . . aiy, he’d hook into said stomach and yank it all out. He would grasp whoever’s ballocks and tear them from him. Aiy, seventeen-hundred-and-fifty times. That ought to satisf himy. Nix! He had to admit, he was not in the sweetest of moods
He blew several breaths hoping to calm him. “Peace,” he told himself, “peace.” But his head was all muzzy he grudgingly admitted. He craved for a sweet red rubel bead. Dear Mother, dear Mother, just one?
Aiya, the jert! He had used his last bead in quieting her, that Javanese spy—and he’d not even tasted her blood. Lost to them and still with her clothes on.
He had moored against the bank of the Tuthe—not at the staithe, he remembered that now. He had dropped the stone anchor where it mostly was shingle.
Aiy, but there was no shingle. The shingle was gone. Everything gone. There were no staithes, there were no wharfs. Just look at the sheds, all under water! He had run out of lane. And before him now were countless manners of ships. Yet where was his yellow-sailed Rose? He couldn’t see her, and he ought, for he’d left her with her sail unfurled.
Boteras Rookeri-Sharmin aka Boddy
Hey, he was alive and he wasn’t alone. Was that something to celebrate or was it something. Ghats, rats and spats, considering what had preceded this walk, he’d say they were doing just fine. But would they reach the headland before the sea, in claiming the spit, drowned them? He didn’t want to look. Already the sea was washing away great chunks of it.
Broken water again pelted Boddy as another wave crashed against the spit and spouted high. Then its energy spent, the wave retreated, dragging at the shingle beneath his feet. Its noise filled his ears, its salt crusted his lips; his mouth tasted putrid like he’d eaten raw meat five weeks in the keeping. His head pounded and his sopping clothes clung to every part of him and weighted him down.
“We’re onto the older part of the spit,” Eshe shouted so all might hear.
Boddy doubted that Jonesi could hear, ahead, with his head down against the wind, his hand clasping Garwy the young ship’s swain. Ghats, but that boy was brave. Couldn’t be much older than thirteen.
“Yeah?” Boddy called back to Eshe. “And that makes a difference, old or no?”
“Depends how old,” Eshe said.
“It always has been here,” Disa answered.
“The shingle traps the estuarine silt,” Eshe said, assumingly as explanation but its significance was lost upon Boddy.
“And?” he prompted her. It was best they all had something to think of rather than how desperate their plight. And it was good to hear Eshe returned to Eshe and not the baby-babbler she’d been while drugged.
“Over the years the silt solidifies. Like mortar.”
“And holds the shingle together?” Disa asked. “Ay, taught of my own shore by a Lubanthan.”
Boddy flashed her a look. Once or twice he’d caught this sarcastic taint to Disa’s tone. Did she not like Eshe? Natzo, that could stop. Eshe was his most treasured friend—together with Jonesi.
Another wave crashed on the shingle and threw itself at them. Disa lost her footing. With both their hands wet Boddy lost his grip on her. She slipped away, the undertow taking her. Ghats and shats, why this, why now? Boddy slid after her.
He frantically sought some part of her. He found her hair. He pulled. By the time Trefan had joined him he’d clutched his hand into a portion of cloak, But fingers cold and fingers wet, it took little for the sea to wrest her cloak from him. Great, fine, yeah, now he’d lost her again, the sea tugging her further.
He must not panic; remember the training he’d had with the Dragons: to panic was to lose the initiative. Yet this was his Disa, his woman, his love. For a crucial moment the thought of losing her drained the strength from him.
Yet he managed to clutch at her flailing arm. At once she allowed him the grip. He worked hand over hand till he reached her armpit. That was better, a more secure hold. Trefan, too, managed to grasp her to the other side. Together they hauled her out of the water and dragged her, now falling, now sitting, now pushing, using their feet while three more waves tried to take them. At last they were out of the water and up again on the flattened spit-top.
Disa spluttered. “Thanks.”
They continued their battle against the wind, the waves, the spray, the shingle. There were Jacobs everywhere beneath their feet but mayhap the water was dispersing their poison for as yet none of the party were succumbing.
They reached the headland without losing a man, woman or boy. All six alive. But, fine, yeah, great, what now? The citadel gates were locked against them and a night spent in this cold, in these wet clothes, with the Jacobs piling around them and the water rising and . . . likely they’d not be alive in the morning.
Kalamite, Keefer-Papa of the Runman Order
Kalamite roared, the harsh sounds of his laughter filling every space in the house. The lorels, the grasslings, the drip-headed jerts! Aiy-lah, to leave their house without occupation! By Verth, Stup and Murag, his mother did love him.
He poked and picked and found some food. Roasted barley, he’d make some gruel. When last had he eaten? His belly felt empty. He gathered together the pot and the makings. But he needed a fire and he hadn’t a strike. He hunted. He found a chest and threw the lid open. He sat on the floor before it. A grassling’s hut, it was only grass-matting over beaten earth. It was damp, it was cold.
Aiya, nats and gonads. He couldn’t remember, now, what he was doing. Why was he here? And where was here, where was he? He wanted to be with his mother, his lover, with Rubel.
Loh! Dizpeter grants us our heart-held wishes. She walked through the door. But the door wasn’t open! He wasn’t such a drip-headed jert to not know it weren’t her. Nixt, nay, not. Yet all the same he said her name. “Rubel?”
She smiled. He smiled too. Aiy, it was Rubel, his lover, his mother.
She slid her white fingers from her neck to her breasts. He gasped, eager to have her.
She slid her hands further. Her clothes dissolved, wafting wisps of mist around her. His mouth ran dry, his hands raised ready, poised to take her.
She swayed her wide hips, squeezing her legs. Red juices oozed from between them as if from her beads. His eyes fixed on that wondrous place.
“My son,” she said and pulled a malformed foetus from the blood-red juices. She bloodied herself with the dead foetus, its pulsing cord still connected. Then she threw it at him.
It slapped round his face, a cold wet rag, and dripped down his front. He caught it up and greedily sucked it. At last. Such ecstasy!. Such bliss!
She became again a tree. An apple, slender in form, not a semol. He wrapped his arms around her and—aiy-lah! he found her gone. Hugging his billy, just hugging his billy. But look how it’s grown. He grunted a satisfied groan. He rested his head against the limb, lapping its silkenness, feeling its.
Aiy! Aiy, aiy, aiy, aiy-lah! Such good barley gruel. Now he’d had his fill. He upped and kicked and broke the beakers, the dishes, the plates and pots; the stools, the beds, the chests and the little low tables; the doors and the walls; the roof remained for he couldn’t reach it. He walked away.
He needed some shelter to pass the night but his eyes wandered upwards.
Aiy, there used to be meaning in those same star-patterns. He used to know what the gods required of him. But he knew nothing now. He was confused. His brain was throbbing outside his body. His billy was sticking out of his ear. His bowels were hanging from his belly. He was pissing and peeing and it tasted like beer. He shuddered and watched with pleasure his breasts growing into uterine-udders and birthing red beads strung on a thread that he popped in his mouth and sucked. There was comfort in that.
But, aiy-aiy-aiy, that Javanese spy had slipped his fingers, the Alive-Verth-Twin still lurked, planning to steal his queen from him. And he was certain he’d seen a woman who looked like a man. Or was it a man who looked like a woman? Aiy-aiy-aiy, this was too much confusion.
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