eir’gor stared glumly at the horizon. Four days since he
had reached the Aelyvian coast, and he had
seen no ships yet. He knew the trade routes -
most bards did - and
he knew that summer was the peak trading season for ships from Southern
Sarvonia and the outlying continents. With no safe way through the
Tandalas, it was also the only way for trade goods and people to actually
stand a chance of getting to the other side alive.
He poked at the coals of his fire with a stick. The roasting barsa fish
was starting to smell good, and he was ravenous. Beina’gor snorted as the
sparks flew, but continued to eat the rough grass and moss that he’d
gathered for her. Impatiently, he pulled the skewered fish from the flames
and began to eat, burning his mouth, but was too
hungry to care.
Then he saw it. Far out across the water, a small trading ship was sailing
south. The bard leaped to his feet, seized the remainder of Beina’gor’s
food, and threw it on the flames. Dark smoke puffed up. The indignant mare
squealed angrily, but he ignored her, ripped of the remains of his shirt,
and began to wave it wildly through the billowing smoke in a distress
signal pattern (used by some Kuglimz for long distance communications, it
was a limited but useful idea). He blessed all
the gods he knew that it was a clear day and the dark smoke would show
starkly against the shoreline. He repeated the signal, over and over.
On the ship, a drowsy helmsman yawned. He’d been up a bit late the
previous night, helping to get the ship in closer to shore. They’d been
hit by the tail end of a storm and so had chosen to go between the Tandala
coast and the Isles of Ram to avoid the worst of it. He stared blankly at
the coastline. Suddenly a billow of black smoke caught his attention. What
in Caelereth…? At first he thought it might be
an orcish fire, but then he realized that something was deliberately
interfering with the smoke, causing an obvious signal pattern. He thought
rapidly. I don’t know the Kuglimz smoke signals, but… Wait! We’ve got
that rogue of a Turik on board, he’d know!
He pulled the alarm bell and within moments, his
fellow crewmates swarmed the deck.
“What in the Netherhells is it now?!”
“Not another feffin’ storm!”
“No, you kuati-skulls, look yonder. There’s someone sending up smoke signals
over there. Send for Turik!”
“Him? He’s likely still drink-sick from yestereve, we had to celebrate escaping
the storm, no?” The others laughed raucously.
“I don’t give a feffin’ kack for his drink-sick, get him up here!” the helmsman
roared and a ships-boy ran to fetch the Barsalonian researcher.
I don’t believe it,
Heir’gor thought, but they’re lowering a boat! Oh gods, I’m saved! Tears
of emotion ran down his cheeks. He hastily scooped damp sand over the remains of
his fire as the boat neared and rushed out into the water towards them. The
boatmen regarded him with mingled shock, pity, and disgust on their faces. As he
seized the prow of the boat, one addressed him in Kuglimz'seitre,
telling him to stop, they were coming ashore. He began to babble at them, the
words spilling out of his mouth, telling them about the orcs and that he’d
escaped and caught the horse and… But he was
interrupted. One of them translated some of what he’d said to the others and
they spoke amongst themselves.
“He’s a feffin’ lunatic! Losh-Oc? They’d’ve eaten him!”
“Man’s not sane, and he reeks to offend the gods!”
Heir'gor, F'ash or just "Crazy Man" - many different names for a
recognizable face which has many adventures up his sleeve... Picture
“But there is the horse - funny lookin’ beast that it
is - and we can’t leave him here.”
Heir’gor, like most bards, had a gift for other
languages, and he had learned Tharian from the traders that had come through his
area, so he could follow some of what they were saying. In halting Tharian, he
begged, “Do not leave me! I am bard…the
orcs…my songs…” but he was interrupted by a shout of laughter.
“A bard?! This, a bard?
Look, fellow, d’ye think we’re feffing stupid?”
“Oh, shut your kacky mouth, he’s not clear-minded.”
Rage flooded Heir’gor and he turned on the sailors savagely.
“Lunatic, am I? Curi’lyr! Very well, then, crazy man I am! Will take me with
you, yes or no?! Vekk’ang!” he added for good measure. Fortunately for the
bard, the one who spoke Kuglimz'seitre
did not translate the insults, although the horrified expression on his face
gratified Heir’gor somewhat. He’d never flung such dire insults before, except
at the orcs, who hadn’t comprehended them anyway.
“Sunspawn, you’re hot! All right, then! Let’s go, time’s fleeting. What about
“She come, if stabling have you aboard,” the bard said
hopefully. He didn’t want to leave the little mare behind, for without a herd,
he knew she’d quickly fall prey to one of the many Tandalian monsters.
“No, but there is room in the hold, you can tie her there. We’ll be docking at
Nyermersys Harbour soon and you can return to land if you’re so minded.”
The bard climbed aboard. Beina’gor swam behind them.
As they paddled back towards the ship, the sailors started to introduce
“M’name’s Garius, this is Morly, him’s Luran, an’ that’s Turik…” The last named,
the one who could speak Kuglimz, interrupted, smiling mischievously. “And you,
you are Crazy Man, that is, F’ash, is it not so?” His irresistible crooked grin
made the bard smile in response.
“If that way you will have it, I am F’ash.”
The Bard and Turik soon became
friends and when the latter departed the ship at Nyermersys, he invited F’ash to
accompany him back to Santhala. Though F’ash knew Turik well enough by then to
know that this was not an entirely altruistic suggestion (for Turik would get
plenty of attention for bringing back “the only man who lived with the orcs and
survived”) he appreciated the offer as well as the tempting suggestion that he
would be able to contribute to the Compendium. For a bard,
such an offer was irresistible, and he accepted gladly.