My eyes flutter open from an already-forgotten fantasy, dropping the imaginary scene in lieu of the softly swinging glow of a hanging lantern. This illuminated oscillation was all the evidence I needed to know for sure where I was and what was real.
= Hell’s bells, it’s true. It wasn’t a dream, and I’m at sea. Bhalasar really did come back.
Booga chortled mid-snore next to me on the floor, as if to say “oh course, you silly thing.”
Opposite Booga was the unused bed in my room, demoted to the role of a mushy table, elevating my few belongings.
My sleepy gaze meanders back toward the pendulous light. So much has happened so quickly these last days it’s dizzying.
Melior, Lorelei, and even Rosco! The three goofs all agreed to accompany me an’ Bhalasar on our big trek to the main continent. I guess they must have their deeper reasons, for sure, but sheesh it’s almost like there’s some bizarre overseers pushing us around, contriving reasons to keep the Cloak and Hammer cohesive. Nah… that’s all bollocks. Besides, I’ll grant I haven’t got the best track record on whole “working with others” thing, but I dunno, somethin’s different this time.
Anyway, we got on this boat Bhalasar picked out. A Gnomish ship, typed as a Snazzclank, called the Bronza Falko. A name like a dancer and the personality of a card player, a little garish and a lot smarmy. Ain’t gonna win any beauty contests, but damn if it weren’t charming. Never been on a boat before and certainly never at sea, so I was just giddy. I guess I had been since B showed up during dinner the other day. Embarrassing, a touch. I can still feel those looks the two gals gave me. All’s forgiven in time, though, I suppose, rolling over on the floor, dreading how I must’ve looked.
I was a kid at the carnival. Bounced from crewperson to crewperson, asking ‘em all what they’re doing, how things work. Some were plenty amicable, while others told me to buzz off. Tch… usually that results in the jerk’s face being shoved through the floor, but I just let it all slide. What the hell is wrong with me!
My stomach lurches with an echo, reminding me of one nasty difficulty. Yup, never before been on a boat, so lordy did I get sick. Barely a hour away from dock, I spent a few minutes making modern art over the side when B, fountain of knowledge and tricks he is, makes a suggestion
- Get as close to the center of the vessel as you can, Sam. There will be less movement there.
Good advice, that was. Booga followed me back to my room, which was appropriately placed enough. After close to an hour, my gastromachinations calmed, I wander back out to the deck.
That’s when I found a whole new little world of ropes and riggings above me. My fancy was tickled and my strength was back, so away I went to get my blood moving up on high. Near the top, I saw Melior chatting up a Gnomish fellow with a big fancy eyepiece. We traded waves of our hands and she gave me a gesture toward her new friend that clearly spoke “hey, check out what I found, wink wink!” I left ’em alone and dangled in the salted air for a bit, soaking up the new environment. My universe was suddenly much larger.
Dusk approached as I traversed back down the web of fibrous structure. The crew seemed to have settled into a phase of as-needed maintenance: conversations and games between small numbers of various folk littered the surface of our big ride. Lorelei appeared to be humoring some travelers, and Rosco made himself comfortable by some interested in tales and tunes. Bhalasar sat alone by the ship’s edge, pointed eastward. Longing for his land and responsibilities, I suppose. I felt sad for him, thinking
= You won’t get rid of me so easily now, you old bloke. I’m with ya for good.
My stare must have impacted him, because he turned to face me, throwing back a tiny nod. He had his head covered again as usual, but I knew he was looking right back, like he was challenging me to stop exploring and sit by him. That could wait. A noisy yelp behind me distracted me and B took the moment to look back over the ocean. I noticed an animated dice game of sorts with money involved, three gnomes and a human teenager sitting on the floor tossing six-sided numerical tools against a wall. Now here we go, I thought, sitting down with them and anteing up in a smooth motion. Nervous but open, they accepted my sporting foray and we melted away a few hours until the dinner ring sounded.
The Cloak ‘n Hammer all sat together, along with B. We talked about nothin’ important or memorable, just let our manners and types bounce off each other. Funny, we all barely know each other, only a few days still, but look at us, going on this big ol’ adventure like we all owe it. I guess that’s somethin’, and I’m pretty okay with the idea. Bring on the next day!