To the Library

The Captain got back late at night, and he immediately came to my quarters. He told me, he can’t sleep, so I will stay up also. I wearily sighed and said okay, that was fine with me. He smiled and brought a chair over to my bedside, sitting and propping his feet up on the bed. He tilted the chair back and I hoped he didn’t fall.

I told him, I went to the library today. This caught his attention and he looked at me for a bit before speaking. He asked me why, and I said that I went because, and I hoped he wouldn’t be offended, I wanted to know more about his race. He shrugged and said it was fine, but why didn’t I simply ask him? I replied by telling him I thought he would get mad, he was an awfully secretive person. He laughed at this and said, he would tell me anything I wanted. I assume my mouth made an O because he laughed and pointed. He said, did I find anything at the library? I said yes, yes I did. He looked annoyed and told me to tell him more. I began telling him all of my walk to the library which I at first could not find and then started onto the kind man. I decided I would tell him that the man wanted to meet him at the end of my story. When I told him of Silyphis, and that he and the kind man were friends his eyes sparkled and he smiled. He declared that he wanted to meet him, and so I wasn’t worried that I would have to persuade him to go. I continued and said that I learned generally nothing from the book for I only saw the first page, an illustration of Silyphis. His smile turned serene and he said that he wondered if it did him justice. I told him that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and he leaned back again in his chair, looking pleased.

He asked me when daybreak was and I told him I didn’t know, but possibly in a few hours judging by the dark blue skies. He complained that he couldn’t wait that long to see the man, but I told him that we would go immediately after sunrise. This seemed to put him in better spirits and, as he was in a good mood, I asked him if he knew Silyphis. He rolled his eyes and said of course he did, he had lived there with him anyway. I was amazed by his nonchalance and asked him if he could tell me more. He nodded and told me that Silyphis was a wonderful person, although he had a short temper. He told me that more often than not Silyphis would blow up at a foreign diplomat. He hadn’t told me why, but I didn’t very much care. He said that Silyphis was married to a man named Arok, and that they were very happy together. He smiled when he said that they had a baby on the way and that that was the reason he wanted to go back.

I smiled and said jokingly, so he does have a heart? He snorted and took my hand and held it to his chest. It’s beat was faster than any humans and I asked him if that was normal. He said that yes, it was, and to not be alarmed if it slowed down suddenly or stopped completely. It was a bit worrying to hear him say that but it did happen and he didn’t drop dead so I assumed it was a normal thing to do.

He reminded me that I told him a few days ago that I had drawings of my home to show him, and I excitedly jumped up and rummaged around to find them. When I turned back to him with the small box in which they were kept, I noticed the sky was much bluer and that it must have been just a few hours after sunrise. I decided that no, I wouldn’t tell him and instead show him the illustrations. I sat back down in my spot on the bed and he joined me to get a better look. I showed him the first drawing, which depicted the beaches of my home. He took it and studied it for a little bit, then told me it was beautiful and the next stop after his home would be mine. I brought out the next one which had our town, the streets were marble and the shops and the homes were grand and in a Greek style, pillars and all. He told me that, just maybe, my home was the second best place in the world. I continued bringing out the pictures which were of our wildlife, our forests and most prominently places near my house. He said he loved every single one of them, and then looked out the window and told me we’d better be going to the library. I told him to wait for me to get dressed, and then for him to get out of his clothes and changed into something that smelled less like alcohol. He wrinkled his nose and said that he wondered what that smell was. He left shortly after and we both got dressed in our respectable rooms.

The Captain said, once we got onto the top deck of the ship, that it was perfect weather for Sirens. I asked him, what is a Siren? He told me they were beautiful things, but I shouldn’t get close to one. I lifted an eyebrow to that but said I wouldn’t. He smiled and clapped me on the back, exclaiming good and then saying we ought get to the library. I agreed and we went off to the docks. I narrowly navigated the streets, trying to remember where the library was. I stopped briefly, and then asked the Captain if he knew. I hadn’t noticed his chuckling, and he told me we had passed it about a hundred times. I sighed, and it was only then I noticed the horrible slick feeling in my throat. I informed the Captain that I was going to be sick and then promptly emptied the contents of my stomach, which honestly wasn’t very much, into a barrel conveniently next to a house. I thought I heard him laughing, or maybe guffawing, but I couldn’t be sure of the fact considering my head was in a barrel and my retching echoed off the walls of it. He came over and patted me on the head and said he’d go and leave a note at the library that we were going to come tomorrow.

I love that guy sometimes.


The Captain

The Captain thought my story of the Odd Man, as I dubbed it, was incredibly fascinating and he was entirely caught up in it. He laughed when I said that I tripped, and he laughed when I told him of the shopman again. I didn’t laugh with him. When he caught my look of annoyance he asked why I wasn’t flattered by it, and I told him that I am a man and thus should not be delicate. He smiled a secret smile and told me that once we left for his home I would think otherwise. I had only seen one of his kind, and that was him. Attractive as all get out, everyone loved to just look at him. I didn’t know why. I understand that he’s feminine, I understand that all our crew is hardened men with tremendous muscles and unshaved faces, except me apparently, and I understand that beauty is a rare thing when sailing. I don’t understand why they think he’s attractive past that. I think he’s simply odd. He looks like he got his hands on a case of green dye and dyed everything on his body. Green hair, long of course, pale green skin that was disgusting when sweaty, and yet people admired him.

He hasn’t a great personality, he’s a controlling, manipulative man who has no purpose in life but to make people miserable. Nobody shares this idea with me. Then again, they don’t have to be with him for months at sea. He teases people but never is actually attracted to them, I’ve never seen him with a woman, and I’ve never seen him with a man, so I figured he was just not psychically attracted to anyone. He’s told me that he liked one person, and I can’t remember if it was a man or woman, for the personality they had but then that they were ugly and he would never go for them. I told him it wasn’t looks that mattered but love was the important thing. He looked at me oddly and shook his head and said, no kid, you don’t know the half of it. I left after that and didn’t speak to him for a long while.

I had been thinking of going to the library to read up on his race, but the Captain would never let me off duty and had me do preposterous things such as wax the railing and clean his shoes when he had two specific people to do exactly that. I finally got an off moment when the Captain announced he was going to the market to see if he could find this Odd Man I had told him about. I told him, no, you can’t do that. He asked why and I said because he didn’t know what he looked like. He just said he would ask all the men if a delicate young sailor had run into them. I wasn’t amused and told him I hoped he wouldn’t come back and that someone kidnapped him and sold him to the slave trade. He just smiled again and walked off to go find the market again.

I sighed in relief and went to get dressed in more suitable clothes than the rags I was currently wearing and, after that, made my way to the docks to try and find a library. I walked and walked and perhaps was walking in circles, until I found the library. It was a large thing and I wondered why I hadn’t seen it earlier. I shook it off as the fogs fault and walked in.

It smelled of cinnamon candles and wild roses, two scents I wouldn’t think would go well together but mingled nicely in the dim light. There were many tables with candles on them, and behind that long rows of bookcases. There were two large double doors on either side and, judging by the few letters I could see in the candle light, they led to the history section and the race and culture section. I thought that this was very convenient and made my way to the doors that led to the books on races. It occurred to me that, were there so many races that there should be an entire section devoted to them? Of course, all of the cultures would take up a large amount of space also, so that was probably why it was there. Easier for me, either way.

It took a moment of staring at the door to realize that it had no handle, and that it seemed there was no way to open it. Perplexed, I made my way to the front desk where you could check out books. There was a kind looking old man behind the table and he looked up and smiled at me when I approached. I asked him how I could get into the race and culture section, for it had no handle. He chuckled, slowly got out of his seat and lead me back there again. He made a big show of pushing the door open, and bowed low and said, after you. I blushed and said I was sorry to bother him like this, and he said it was fine because he was bored anyway.

We walked into the room which had a lilac incense burning and he asked me what I was looking for. I replied by telling him I was looking for a book on a green elf like race. His eyes lit up and he told me, that they are his favorite subject, and he’d be happy to tell me everything about them. He walked over to a large red bookcase at the back of the room and said, this case has everything about them, and I can help you study them if you like? I told him that would be wonderful and that I am glad to have help. He asked me what I wanted to know first, and I told him I would like anything. He nodded and eased out a large tome from the book case and gestured to a beautifully carved table. We sat and he pushed the book over to me and told me to find a section I was most interested in. I flipped through the index until I found one that said ‘Personality, Anatomy, and Practices’ I turned to the chapter and was immediately greeted with a lovely illustration of a creature, presumably male, with long wavy green hair and pale green skin. He was near a crystal clear pond and had butterfly’s in his hair and flowers were very much everywhere on his person. It looked like a portrait, but not a stiffly posed one. I turned it around to show the kind man and he said that the man in the picture was named Silyphis, and at the time he was the only one educated in our language. I told him that he was a very lovely person. He agreed and told me that he was even more so in person. I was shocked. Had he met him? I asked him this and he told me that yes, and they were still friends even now. I mused that he must be very much older now, and the kind man quickly told me I was wrong. He said that, somehow, they don’t age very much beyond getting taller occasionally. I told him that was odd. He laughed and said that, yes it was.

He asked me, finally, why I wanted to know about this specific race, or if I was just a curious sort of person. I told him that I wanted to know because my Captain is one. He told me that he would love to meet him, and I said that maybe he could. It was only then when I realized time must have passed because the candle at the table had melted all the way down to the saucer it was placed on. I said that I must be going now and he mourned that we couldn’t spend more time together. I told him that I would come back tomorrow maybe, and I could try to bring the Captain. He was very pleased with that and told me he would be very happy even if he only saw me. I said goodbye to him and hurried back to the Mary. Luckily for me, the sailors told me the Captain had come back once already and said that he was going to be back later that night. I didn’t dare wonder why.


To the Marketplace

When I awoke the next morning it was blustery and cold. The fog was thick and it was hard to breathe through. When I saw the Captain he was in his usual revealing state of dress. I asked him, how do you not freeze? He replied by saying that he had built up a tolerance to the cold while sailing in the Arctic. I told him that his body would still react, and he could get frostbitten. He laughed and told me that genetics were on his side, and then suggested I go down to the galley and eat. I sighed, having done the dishes the night before and now going to dirty them, and asked him to come with me. He seemed to consider it for a moment before he bolted in the direction of the galley. I was surprised but quickly caught up to him. He laughed all the way down until we were seated with a warm meal in front of us. I asked him why he did that, and he told me he did it so I wouldn’t be so cold anymore. I smiled and began to eat.

After our eventful breakfast, we walked around the top deck. We didn’t talk, much to my displeasure, but walked. We stopped along the railing and he pointed to a large fish. I asked him what it was, and he seemed taken aback. He told me it was a whale, and why didn’t I know that? I didn’t say anything, just shrugged my shoulders and said it looked very nice. He had a chuckle and agreed.

He told me we were going to sail off in a fort-night. I must’ve looked confused, because he explained what a fort-night was. I still didn’t understand but I nodded my head and asked where we were going this time. He said that we were going to his birthplace. I still don’t understand if we went to visit or to get supplies, because it seems we did both in excess.

I asked him what it was like there, and he told me it was the most wondrous place I would ever see. I didn’t believe him. In fact, that’s what I told him. He laughed and said that I’d be sorry that I said that. I rolled my eyes and informed him I was going to go into town and get some food. As I was walking away he suddenly yelled to get some absinthe. I turned around and shrugged my shoulders again. He pointed at me and jokingly said that I’d better. I decided not to test him anymore and ran off the ship, onto the docks.

As I was walking to the marketplace I briefly wondered if I should have brought a horse, as my feet ached from the late night walk to the City Hall and back. And as I was thinking of that, it brought the war back to my attention. I wondered, when would it be? They didn’t say anything but ‘soon’. And then, where will it be? I didn’t know. I just hoped we weren’t in the middle of it. Conflict against the islands usually ended in someone completely not in the war being blown up. Like the mostly annoying island from the west, always making demands and being unreasonable. Thankfully, they got blown up and it made everyone much happier. Most of the islands to the west ended up celebrating. No one mourned for them. But, then I think of it, and become sad.

I was roughly pulled from my reverie by plowing directly into a shopper. Dazed, for a moment, I lay there. It was only then the mans rough voice brought me back to reality. I quickly jumped up and tried to apologize, but I ended up tripping and landing on my backside. I laughed nervously while he guffawed and got up. He smiled and reached out to me, to help me up. I gladly accepted his hand and stood. I told him, I am very sorry for running into you. He replied kindly, and told me it was no problem and it really brightened his day. I smiled and said that I was very glad to be able to do that. He nodded to me low, and walked past me while patting me on the back and saying he hoped he say me again. I started to tell him there was no way that could happen for I was leaving soon, but when I turned around the man had completely disappeared.

I decided I would forget about the strange day brightening incident, and kept going. I made sure to look out for shoppers this time. I got to the food stall and by then the horrible cold had gone and an even more horrible heat plagued me. I had taken off my jacket, my vest, and everything except my undershirt and pants before I was even finished buying the vegetables. It smelled like a pigsty and I couldn’t wait to get out of the place. As I was walking away with my large load of foodstuffs, I remembered the Captain wanted absinthe. I sighed, and realized that yes, I did have to go get some. I asked the stall owner I had bought the food from if he could keep my load behind the stall and he said he would. He asked why and all I said was that I needed to get something important. I scoped out the alcohol stall and bought a large bottle of strong absinthe. The shopman looked at me oddly and asked why a ‘delicate thing such as myself’ was drinking the strongest drink this side of the islands. I told him it wasn’t for me and that I was not a delicate thing, and then turned on my heel to go back to the food stall. I asked the man for my groceries back, and when he did give them to me he laughed at my important thing. I thanked him and he thanked me in turn.

I chanted in my head that I was not, definitely not, a delicate thing.

When I got back to the Mary and told the Captain, he laughed and said otherwise.

He didn’t get any of the absinthe.


City Hall

Along the way to City Hall, the Captain was stopped by a man of the same rank. It seemed their conversation lasted for hours before they parted. By that time we were horribly late and the Captain was reprimanded brutally by the resident Law Officer. They said nothing to me. I was just a sailor accompanying his commanding officer. While there I contemplated asking for a different ship but found myself whisked away by the Captain before I could decide on the matter further.

We returned to the Bloody Mary sometime before midnight, and I had to help the lower crew swab the decks. Everyone, including the lowers, had gone to bed but I had been ordered to stay up and clean the galley. It was well into the night before the Captain tiredly stumbled down in a stately outfit and told me to get some rest. I replied that I was too busy, as I hadn’t done the dishes yet. He told me to forget about them and sleep. We kept this up until I asked him why he was dressed as he was. He told me he had to go back down to the City Hall and that if I wasn’t too busy, I could accompany him. I said, yes of course, what do I wear? He told me to get a clean uniform and nice riding shoes, we were going on horseback to make it there quicker. I sloppily cleaned the dishes and went to change.

By the time I had straightened myself up, the Captain was already with the horses down on the dock. They whinnied incessantly and the Captain hoped the old man on the corner wouldn’t come out and shoot at us for the noise. He was a grumpy, violent old man and he had no tolerance for the Captain. He would often make snide remarks if we were out when he was sitting on his porch, smoking his large cigars that smelled of hellfire. I didn’t mind him as much and he didn’t mind me, and would sometimes strike up a conversation with me on very rare occasions. The Captain got upset when I talked to him, saying I needn’t listen to the old windbag. I once asked him why he didn’t like the man, and he told me he didn’t know, that they just had never liked each other. Fickle, they both were.

Due to his paranoia, we spent the next few minutes attempting to calm the horses down. Much to his chagrin, it only made them louder. A few house lights turned on and sleepy husbands peeked out their windows a few times. They just looked at us oddly and went back to bed. I suggested that we just quickly leave now and he said, no, they are too excited, we won’t be able to ride them properly. That didn’t seem very true, I’d seen him jump on a terrified horse during the heat of battle and ride off, and bareback too! But I supposed that he only did that for important things, life or death things. I guessed that this wasn’t a very important thing and we didn’t have a set time to go. I suggested that maybe we should walk there, and he said that was too slow. I said, if you want to get there fast why are we standing here and being all willy-nilly? He laughed and said, yes, maybe we should walk. He somehow managed to stow the horses back on the Mary and we started off to the City Hall for the second time.

We struck up a conversation about where to sail off to next after this leave ended. I suggested the Caribbean or somewhere with long beaches and sun. He laughed and told me, maybe next time, because he doesn’t know if there is a place with sun anymore. I told him that my birthplace had long sweltering days and beautiful blue water and white sand. He said he’d like to see that someday. I replied that I have drawings back in my quarters, maybe he’d like to see them when we get back? He said he’d like that very much.

It seemed like only minutes had passed by the time we got there. He was dragged into a meeting room and discussed things only Captains would understand, and as a sailor I understood none of it except for very few things. They talked about their crews, and if they would need to pick some more up, or if one of the crewman was misbehaving and needed to be kicked off or taken to jail. Or just transferred. Oh, how I would love to be transferred, I thought. Then I realized that, yes, I like it here, on the Mary, with the Captain and the other sailors. I do want to stay here, I like it here very much. The conversation turned to the growing threat of war and I tuned it out, I shouldn’t listen to a delicate subject as that. I saw the Captain glance to me a few times and I looked back. He just quirked his brow, smirked a bit, and then turned back to the talk smugly. I did not understand his pride, but then again I rarely ever understood anything he did anyway. Hours passed and we found ourselves walking back to the ship, he exhausted and I utterly lost in my confusion.

When we got back to the Mary he sluggishly walked to the Captains quarters and, I presume, fell asleep in seconds. I wasn’t as lucky and spent the entire night pondering about the few snips of the war I had heard.