But a Day From Home – Part Two

But a Day from Home – Part 2

The dawn was rosy and chill, especially for summer, with the mists rising off the lake and the birds just beginning to stir and sing. But the boat was terrifying.

Well, not the boat itself, because it was just a plain, sturdy rowboat. It bobbed innocently near a pier that extended into the shallows of the lake. The thought of getting into the boat with three big people–four, now that she thought of the ranger who would man the tiller and guide them to the destination Beldrieth had set, a place called the Eavespires–that was what was terrifying. Now that she thought of it, she’d never actually been in a boat herself, per se, but growing up with a family who ran an inn, she spent her evenings working in the Common Room, and her days appropriating the stories that their guests told for her own personal daydreams. So some traveler, somewhere along the line, had told some story of a boat, and Brassica had told herself that it would be a fantastic adventure.

No one had ever mentioned how small a boat could seem, when shore you were trying to reach was lost to sight, and how the sky above doubled below you in the lake’s reflection, and made it look as though to fall in would be to fall forever. It was as clear and calm a day as could be hoped for, but even just watching the motion of the boat knocking softly against the dock, Brassica felt sick to her stomach.

I think,” she managed, her voice fluttering slightly higher in pitch than usual, “I think I might stay here…”

Llythne and Beldrieth, perhaps noticing that Brassica looked rather pale, were perfectly solicitous about her decision, and reassured her that they would be back by nightfall. Celebarad had already climbed down from the dock into the boat, but when the news was relayed that Brassica would not be joining them, he looked briefly crestfallen, but then had leapt nimbly from the boat back to the dock and declared (presumably) that he would remain behind as well.

And so they had stood together on the pier, waving farewell as their companions rowed away together across the lake, until they were too far away to really see. Brassica sighed with relief. The Tookish part of her was lamenting an adventure missed, but the practical side of her was perfectly content to be more selective about where and when she got her adventures. There were certain to be more boats in the wideness of the world, perhaps ones that crossed less daunting expanses of water.

Her belly gurgled, and she grinned wryly. “Well, it’s all very well and good that you’ve stayed,” she began offhandedly, addressing Celebarad, who was still staring out across the lake, shading his eyes and watching the speck that the boat had become, “but you still really aren’t much to talk to, you know that? Shall we go get breakfast?”

The camp in the ruins of Tinnudir was stirring, and as fires were tended and kettles put on to boil, Brassica determined that the fastest way to acquire food was going to be to make herself as useful as possible. So, after coughing politely to get the attention of one of the Rangers, she was given the task of gathering firewood, and set to it gladly, with Celebarad dutifully tagging along at her heels.

Away from the camp proper, a large building of white stone loomed. Along its edge pine trees and brambles grew thickly, and Brassica rummaged about in this underbrush, pulling up nice, dry kindling, and–once she’d mimed her way through what she wanted him to do–loading it up into Celebarad’s arms. One thing she was slowly beginning to discover was that the elf was completely undeterred by the notion of the language barrier between them, and would talk at length regardless of whether or not she understood what he was saying, and indeed, whether she was even in earshot. She didn’t suppose she was helping teach him the Common Tongue with her “Hmm!s” and “Aha?s” and “Oh yes, indeed, please do go on’s”, but it wasn’t as though she was learning any elvish either. Still, the task was not a difficult one, and pleasant, and as they wandered further from the camp, it quickly became a leisurely morning stroll, to which the acquisition of firewood was entirely incidental.

Upon noticing that she hadn’t “hmm’d” or “aha’d?” to anything in a while, Brassica glanced behind her, and spotted Celebarad, perhaps ten yards distant, up the hill that sloped steeply away from the water’s edge and up to the side of the great stone building, examining some inscription made in the stone. Pausing in her search for firewood, Brassica squinted out over the water for a moment, then shuddered. For just a moment, she had winsomely daydreamed of what it might be like out on the lake, and wondered how Beldrieth and Llythne were getting on in their crossing. But there was wonder enough to be had on dry land, and the large, white stone building was probably the most wondrous thing she’d see that morning. She smiled to herself as she realized that she hadn’t even properly noticed how big it really was. It stretched back and away from the camp in the ruins, towering high into the blue of the sky above. Here and there it was accented with panels of greening, embossed bronze. And it was old. Now that Brassica stopped and stood in awe of it properly, it seemed to radiate age. She told herself that she would need to ask the Rangers about it when they went back to camp, as it was beginning to come time that they should. It was strange to think that once, long, long ago, it had been new. Men had laid the foundations and raised the walls, and they must have been great and powerful men to do so.

It was in this moment of thinking to herself that the scruffy man took her by surprise, creeping from the bushes behind her with a slight rustle. He was a wicked, wild looking man, in a dirty blue shirt and ratty gray trousers, and he had seen her before she had seen him. She noticed him just soon enough to turn and gasp, and then a hand was clamped firmly over her mouth. She struggled immediately, frightened and panicked, but he was much bigger and much, much stronger, hoisting her off the ground as though she were a child, and wedging her securely beneath his arm, his filthy hand still clamped against her mouth.

To her great dismay, he turned away from the direction that she had come, and began to run along the shore, more nimbly than Brassica might have expected–and certainly more than she’d hoped. Had he stumbled, she would have squirmed away and bolted off like a shot. But, his footing remained true through the brush and the brambles, and even on the slippery slick mud near the water’s edge. Faced downward, and pinned too tightly to move in the man’s arms, all Brassica could see of his route was the ground beneath her.

Eventually, the man slowed to a trot, and then a walk, and more coarse voices hailed him, though their talk was muffled to Brassica, still wedged against the man’s chest, her ears covered on both sides by his arm and his torso. The voices argued loudly and excitedly for some minutes, and then Brassica’s limited view swooped and swerved as the man swung her out from beneath his arm and set her on her feet. As soon as his hand came free of her mouth, she hollered bloody murder, and when his grip on her arm slipped briefly she twisted and squirmed away, fixing to run–before a ringing cuff to the side of her head sent her sprawling to her knees.

Dazed and tasting the faint tang of blood on her lip, Brassica had only the briefest glimpse of a circle of evil, leering faces, before a sack suddenly presented itself, and she was seized by the back of her tunic and stuffed inside. The world shrank into a tiny canvas prison, closing with a rasp of string against fabric, and then lurching horribly beneath her. There was a creak of wood and a splash of water and then a voice came close, and spoke gratingly in her ear.

Voices carry far on water, so I’ll tell ye to keep yer little mouth shut tight,” rasped the warning, “Else perhaps ye’ll slip over the side to be lost to the lake, and never mind the Rangers’ spying.”

And then she was dropped with a painful thump onto a damp wooden floor, which rocked sickeningly and was filled with the splash and creak of oars in oarlocks. Her last, incongruously peevish thought before slipping into darkness was “Oh, bother, so it’s going to be boats anyway, is it?


Advertisements
Previous Post
Leave a comment

3 Comments

  1. Okeg of Dwarrowdelf

     /  January 30, 2012

    I remember travelling through Evendim with the same wide eyed wonder as Brassica. To me the whole region was beautiful to behold, especially Annuminas, but there was always a cheeky sod around the corner to test the sharpness of my axes.

    Reply
    • LOL! Tomb robbers have to spoil everything. At least they fork over a good number of reputation items when you put a blade to their bellies!

      Reply
  2. Ack! Poor little hobbit! Great description of the abduction, I felt like I was being sacked! I love her thoughts at the end.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: