Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Sep 13, 2013

Skull and Shackles: Feruzi's Journal Part 1

5 Rova 4712 AR
Ai must be the most Incompitint Wife in thee History of thee Wurld (scribbling)

Dammit. Let me str start over. Merrill came Inn in and kaw caught me Writing, so of course he has to take the book awae away and read it drat the man. He says my Writing is Ato attr ATROCIOUS and no wife of his is going to comi COMMIT words to page until she learns how to Spell. He, Merrill I mean, assin ASSIGNED that odd cretur CREATURE Pinch to Crack the Whip over me. At first I thought he (Merrill) meant litar LITERALLY GODSDAMMIT(and he has a Most Fearsome bullwhip hanging on the wall in his cabin) but it seems no, this is just a Figure of Speech. Merrill caught me looking at it and I think I hurt his feelings, but he says no, it is All Right, as if I beliv believe that. He (Merrill) said it is a soo seaux ceu DAMMIT souvenir (Pinch wrote that for me) from three days he (Merrill) spent Captive in a Chelish gaol when he was sixteen. It is Strange to think of Merrill being Sixteen. I asked him was he frightened and he said Yes, Very Much So and that’s where the old Stripes on his back came from along with some Burns that aren’t really Visible any more. It makes me Unhappy to know how much people have hurt him (Merrill) even before I ever met him. Merrill says he did not tell me in order to make me upset but I think I am not upset I just want to make him happy but I am not doing a very good job.
Now I am forgetting why I wanted to Write this in the First Place, it is taking so Long, but it is getting Easier so I will keep going anyway until I am Tired. Also Pinch is very Nice about helping me and says he does not Mind At All.
Now I remember, I was having trouble getting the Hang of this Married Life and I wanted to Write it to help me Organize my thoughts. Merrill is very Sweet but when he sees I am Worried it makes him upset and the disk discussion goes nowhere. I think we will have to get over this fussing over each other before we drive ourselves Insane. It would be nice to just talk but Merrill is so Tired that every time he sits down for two minutes he Falls Asleep so conversation is Impossible. He spent most of yesterday afternoon alternating between Falling Asleep and Apologizing For It. I want to take him to bed properly but it will probably have to wait until Tomorrow so I make do for now holding him when he sits still and naps, which is not as often as it should be in My Opinion. If he does not quit working soon I will tie him up and force him to Rest whether he Likes it or Not.
Labella wanted to put Ukele in the Brig but Merrill said no, despite everything she is his Guest and will be Treated As Such so they found her a corner next to the Galley so she can have some Privacy. Probably I should try Talking to her some more but that is even worse than trying to talk to Merrill right now.
I suppose I could learn more of how to go on from talking to the crew but they are not like the crew on Crisis so I am not sure how to start. Most of them are Older than I am by about Ten Years if not More and besides Labella almost all Men and stricter about Discipline than Chopper ever could be and I am not Naturally friendly like Chopper is so it is awkward.

Merrill brought me some lunch and took his coat off and promptly fell asleep at his desk so Pinch showed himself off. I have now got Merrill into bed and he seems inclined to Stay There so far. I will write more tomorrow I want to sit with my husband for now.

6 Rova 4712 AR
Today is much better than yesterday so far. The whe weather why are there two ways to spell that word I wonder anyway the weather is much worse today as we skirt the Eye making for a River that leads deep into Mwangi lands. Merrill says taking this route should cut nearly five days off the journey which apparently is a good thing because we (the Crisis people I mean) need to get that Island cleaned up as quickly as possible and from the sound of it this will not be so easy as I might have Thought. But it does mean that I will only have a few days to spend with my husband and most of them he will be Busy.
Pinch also is Busy today but he said if I want to make this Writing a regular habit he will give me a book to help me called a Dictionary. I did not know they made books that you read to tell you how to write but Pinch said yes, they are very useful. I did not know there were so many words in the Taldane language and most of them seem odd like this word swivet which means to be nervous and anxious and describes my state perfectly but how many words do you need that all mean the same thing anyway? I used it on Merrill and he got a funny look on his face and asked me what I meant so I showed him the Dictionary and he laughed and said he thought I meant something else which apparently is not very polite but he wouldn’t mind if I used that one later when we were in bed. I asked him didn’t he know all the words in the Dictionary and he said, no, not even most of them so now I am confused and I think I do not understand this Writing business as well as I thought. I do like the Dictionary anyway the words are all marvelously neat and regular and it makes me amazed that scribes have such wonderful handwriting because I could never get the letters to line up so perfectly no matter how long I practiced. Merrill says that no, the book is not written by hand it is printed which I do not know about so he told me to look it up in the Dictionary and laughed even more when I said it made no sense so I scolded him for reading over my shoulder and told him to get back to work. I think he is more comfortable with me here now if he can laugh at me and he really does have a wonderful sense of humor but if you heard him barking orders at his crew you would not know he was the same person at all he sounds so fierce. Labella says that just means he is Enjoying himself.
I was going to try and Write the things that happened today but now I have got all out of order. The first thing that happened was when Merrill woke up very early this morning before it was light and seemed confused about where he was for a few minutes. I could tell he was dreaming something awful but he wouldn’t tell me about it so I took off my clothes and climbed in bed with him which made him forget about whatever it was pretty quickly. I probably shouldn’t write any more about that I don’t want to embarrass him but it was very nice. He has a lot of scars all over his body though and I think it did embarrass him a little when I lit the lamp so I could have a look at them but I told him to stop being silly and he got over it eventually. He was in a very good mood when we did finally get out of bed and he keeps coming in here every five minutes or so to make sure I haven’t disappeared (he says) and dripping water all over me because it is pouring but he doesn’t seem to care so I don’t either. He still looks good with wet hair plastered all down his neck and his cold nose just makes me laugh so I suppose I must be in a good mood too.
I was going to go out and help him but he told me to stay in and read the books if I got bored. I wouldn’t have expected Merrill to have so many books they are mostly histories and terribly dull but they are not dusty or moldy at all so he must spend a lot of time reading them. Labella says yes, that is mostly what he does when he is not otherwise needed usually on some sunny patch of deck getting in everyone’s way just like a big housecat. There are eight cats on this ship right now and they seem to regard Merrill as their property apparently he is very fond of cats and the crew spends a lot of time trying to get rid of the kittens while Merrill keeps finding more of them to adopt. Renvel (that is the Master at Arms, he is very quiet but I got him to talk to me finally) says that it’s a good thing that animals all hate Pinch or they would be overrun with cats by now, but they don’t ever have a rat problem on the Bonaventure so it is not entirely bad. Ukele has got a kitten keeping her company and I took her some books so she will not get too bored.

7 Rova 4712 AR
I have to say that when Merrill said River I did not in any way picture the body of water we are currently floating on. In. Something like that. It is more like an enormous swamp that has all decided to flow more or less in the same direction. Also there are crocodiles. Big, big crocodiles. Some of the crew wanted to go for a swim when we first got out of the salty water but Merrill forbid anyone from even lowering the boats without a squad of archers and gunners watching at all times. He says there are also giant turtles and hippos which are not giant but apparently big enough anyway and who knows what else in the water but it doesn’t really matter what it is once it’s bitten your leg off and most of the wildlife around here can do that without half trying or even really being awake.
It isn’t all bad, though, because I thought up a way to help the archers stay alert and get in some shooting practice at the same time. There are a few less crocodiles in the river this afternoon at least. Merrill says he’ll be able to make boots for everyone in Port Peril at this rate but I had to stop in order to make some more arrows so probably not. Pinch called Merrill a filthy name (or at least I think it was) when Merrill told him to have the crew fish out the corpses and strip off the hides but Merrill just told him to get on it or he’d make Pinch eat the crocodiles as well. I was a bit surprised because Merrill doesn’t take that kind of backtalk from anybody, not even me, but apparently Pinch has an entitlement no one else does. It makes me wonder just how Pinch wound up on this ship in the first place he is so odd. I asked him if I could call him Markuss the way Merrill does and he said it did not matter to him either way so I will from now on.
It was getting dark by the time we reached the landing which I am sad to say is absolutely lousy with slavers along with all the riverboats and a few other small merchant ships. Merrill says we have to leave them alone unless we want to get our throats cut in the night. This is when I got to find out how much of an idiot I am, because there aren't any roads going the right direction from here and Merrill cannot hike fifty miles through trackless jungle on a peg leg. It will be rough enough going for Ukele. Merrill lost his temper a bit when I kept trying to come up with ways to overcome this obstacle and locked himself in his office but he came back out during dinner and apologized so I also apologized and he said he’d do whatever was necessary even if it was mortally undignified. Durgrin managed to cobble together some sort of charm that will at least keep Merrill from sinking thigh-deep in the mud but I know it will be an uncomfortable trip for him tomorrow regardless.

8 Rova 4712 AR
Oh, so much has happened today that I have to sit here a minute and get it all in order or else I will leave something out. I woke up vexed with Merrill this morning because I wanted him to get plenty of sleep but he was having none of it and he figured out that if he nibbles on my neck I lose all ability to argue with him which is not fair although I suppose losing a little sleep is not so bad but I hope he doesn’t pay for it later. Then we had to have a ridiculous long drawn-out argument with what felt like half the crew over who would and would not be coming with us on this sojourn into darkest wilderness untouched by man since the dawn of time (I read that in one of Merrill’s books and I liked it so I’m stealing it although I am not sure that’s really stealing because the person who wrote it still has it). Labella wanted to come so badly I thought she was going to start frothing at the mouth and shooting sparks out of her ears but Merrill kept pointing to what he calls the “den of iniquity” across the river and telling her that somebody has to stay here and make sure his damn ship doesn’t mysteriously wander off in the night and Labella was best suited of anyone to do that so there. Well he didn’t actually say that last part but it was implied. I think Labella is fonder of Merrill than he realizes but I didn’t say anything because it would embarrass both of them to no purpose.
We, or, I should say He because I didn’t say anything but just let them get on with it finally decided that apart from Ukele and myself it would only be Merrill and Durgrin going. I think the dwarf was not too happy at this decision but it was getting late so off we went as soon as Pinch forced Durgrin to finish dithering about what to bring along.
I found I was glad it was just the four of us because Durgrin started chatting with Ukele about sorcery and I joined in and the three of us spent the entire morning talking shop which is a peculiar thing for sorcerers because it’s all about how magic feels to you and this relieved Merrill of the need to make conversation so he was still in good spirits and not too worn down by the time we stopped for lunch. I wanted to make it a good long rest break but Merrill said this would only make the whole trip longer and he’d rather rest when we reach our destination. Durgrin told me not to worry recent events to the contrary Merrill knows his own limits quite well and sticks to them and he wouldn’t be alive now if he wasn’t as tough as he thinks he is, so we pressed on.
I had forgotten just how bad the deep jungle can be though and even with Durgrin pulling out every wand and scroll he has to make things easier on us we’d still be walking if we didn’t have the immense good fortune to run smack into a troupe of Etpe on their way to wherever it is Etpe go. I mean smack, too, because that’s the noise Durgrin made when they burst out of the trees on their huge mounts and he fell over on his rump in a stream and almost drowned because dwarfs are not very hydrodynamic (isn’t that a great word?). He also made a ridiculous squeaking noise that he claims was a grunt although I have heard mice produce deeper sounds. Durgrin says the mounts are “edmontosaurus” which I know nothing about but they are big and surprisingly fast even in the jungle so we bargained with the Etpe to take us along since we were heading more or less the same direction anyway.
At first they wanted to trade the ride for Ukele and I had to bite my tongue not to laugh she got so offended and it would serve her right if we DID sell her to them but Merrill finally convinced them to accept some food and a length of good rope instead. I was a little annoyed because Merrill can speak to them much better than I can, his crazy accent actually makes him easier to understand somehow even though I was born here. Ukele of course would not so much as look at them after their first offer and Durgrin can’t make heads nor tails of their gabble so we wound up doing this thing where I translated for Merrill and then he’d try four or five different ways of saying the same thing until the chief started nodding and smiling and jabbered at us some more. The Etpe chief apparently decided Merrill was a good sort or at least vastly amusing and gave him (Merrill) this horrible drink that they brew out of the blood of their mounts and equally horrible plants and possibly slug slime and beetle squeezings for all I know but Merrill has much better manners than I do and actually swallowed most of it before I could warn him so he got to spend most of the ride slumped over the saurus’s rump blinking very slowly like once a minute because he was too dizzy to sit up or even know who he was. I don’t dare tell him what it was now he might get sick and that would offend the Etpe even though they are generally pretty friendly as long as you don’t have anything they particularly want.
Fortunately it was hot enough that he quickly sweated off the effects and was back to his usual self. Ukele complained unceasingly about the heat and finally took her clothes off and I put off most of mine too. Durgrin turned some interesting colors at the sight of Ukele’s tits but he will have to get used to it because no one wears shirts at home or even thinks twice about it. Durgrin told me that dwarfs are so prudish that they grow all that hair so they won’t even have to see THEMSELVES naked and I am not sure whether he was joking or what but he settled down after a bit. If I was thinking I would have left most of my clothes on the Bonaventure anyway but I’ve gotten used to the custom and I’m not sure Merrill would have sat still for it prior to drugging himself insensible. So that is how we got home a whole day earlier than I expected and Father even invited the Etpe to stick around even though they are more than a little weird so they can take us back along with all our possessions and spare Merrill’s poor leg in the bargain.
I have to use those quotation mark things for this next part and I am not certain I use them correctly but it was too funny not to write exactly what they said so here goes. When we broke out of the deep jungle and came to the village clearing it was nice and quiet so I expect everyone was cooking dinner or resting out the afternoon heat but one of the children spotted us and started shrieking so everyone came running. Merrill said “Goodness, just like a beehive,” and I laughed because there are rather a lot of us and one of the middle-sized children spotted me and started yelling “Auntie Zizi! Auntie Zizi!” so all the babies started yelling and Merrill asks “are these all your nieces and nephews?” And I said “no, Ukele’s my only sister they just call all the grown women Auntie if it isn’t their mother”.
We got down from the saurus and here comes Father carrying his big spear in one hand because the other one got bit off years ago. He (Father) comes up to me and says “It’s about time you got home, I can’t do all the work around here myself!” so Merrill steps forward and says, projecting his voice like he’s giving orders on the deck, “It’s not her fault you’re a CRIPPLE.”
I don’t think I have ever fainted before really but I thought I was going to do it then. I have never seen a look on a man’s face like my father got then except maybe on Ezikial when he hasn’t shot someone for several days and everyone, even the babies, went instantly silent. Merrill had a strange look on his face too I’m not sure what to make of it but I think that man has at least a fair medium-sized devil in him and it comes out at the oddest times.
Then Father started to laugh. He laughed and laughed until he fell over wheezing and rolled in the dirt kicking his legs and Merrill stepped over to help him get up. Then he pounded Merrill on the back leaving some good bruises and laughed some more and Merrill just grinned like Asmodeus and said “Pleased to meet you, sir,” so Father said “Oh, boy, I like you, who the hell are you, anyway?” and Ukele shouted “Oh, Dede, it’s Feruzi’s HUSBAND!” sounding disgusted as can be and Father whooped and started dancing around like a fool until Mother scolded him into stopping. Then the warriors gathered up Merrill and Durgrin and paraded them down to the river to wash up while the women used the bathhouse to make themselves pretty and Mother somehow made up a feast in about ten minutes with all the other women so overall it was a pretty good homecoming I think. Father has taken a shine to Merrill although neither of them can pronounce any part of the other’s name which they both think is hilarious for some reason but they very nearly stayed up all night boasting and telling increasingly ridiculous stories until Mother said pointedly “I think you should let your daughter have her husband back Tabi” which is what she calls Father when she’s annoyed with him. So Merrill is sitting here watching me scribble although I don’t expect he intends to be patient very much longer so I will finish up now before he starts in on the neck-nibbling and I get ink everywhere.

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