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

Sep 15, 2013

Skull and Shackles: Feruzi's Journal Part 2

9 Rova 4712 AR

I really should have expected something like this but I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon so I was a little horrified when I woke up and found that my mother (at least, I assume it was her) FILLED the hut with fertility idols. Merrill thought they are just what he calls “knickknacks” and he turned the oddest color when I explained. He said the thought Chopper was just joking so I told him, well, Chopper maybe was but my mother is DEAD SERIOUS. She probably started planning out her grandchildren when I was two years old if not sooner and it is only a mercy that she waited this long to start her campaign. Merrill told me “I don’t want to upset your mother but . . .” and I interrupted him and said “It doesn’t matter what you want” so he says “Pardon me, I think it does!” so I was all, “no, you don’t understand, I don’t mean we should actually, well, make a baby RIGHT NOW just to make her happy but for goodness sake don’tSAY anything like that to her. If she wants to give you advice, you just smile and nod and wait until she talks herself out. DON’T antagonize her or who knows WHAT she might do she is NOT in her right mind about this.” I could see he still did not believe me so I told him to at least ask my father before he went and did anything stupid and got himself turned into a frog or worse. Well, she would turn him back eventually but I don’t think Merrill spending the rest of our visit as an amphibian would help matters any.
Merrill asked me did I want to have children and I said, well, of course didn’t he want children? and he got really quiet and stared at the ground for a long time and I started to get upset then he said he’d never really thought about it before. Not seriously, anyway. I didn’t understand and when he tried to explain we just got all tangled up and now both of us are confused and upset and I’m starting to wonder if frog wouldn’t be the better option. Father came in and asked if Merrill was going to come do Man Stuff with the other warriors. I could tell Merrill was about to ask me what he should do so I said “well, here’s your chance to avoid my mother until dinner time” and he got the hint and went along. I wish I could go along but I don’t want to be an amphibian, either. I was tempted to let Merrill stew all day but I changed my mind and shooed Father out and spent some time making sure he knew I wasn’t angry with him.
I do not think Mother has stopped giving me advice for five solid minutes, which is actually somewhat amusing because she keeps asking me questions about Merrill and Chopper and everyone and then interrupting the answer before I’ve really started. Ukele is here and has taken to mimicking Mother behind her back so I have to keep making excuses to go outside so I won’t start laughing and bring down the wrath of frog on both of us. Fortunately Mother seems to think that my scribbling means I am writing down her sage advice for later so now she is pestering Ukele instead. Mother seems to have decided that Ukele is not going to settle down (what a shock) so now she’s talking about sending her (Ukele) to become a Sacred Woman which I think would be a good thing but I know better than to give my opinion so I will just have to see how this turns out.

The men came back finally and Mother started right in on them. Merrill put up with this for about three minutes, then he walked over and put his hands on my mother’s shoulders and said “Thank you for trying to help us, Madam, but I love your daughter too much to take anyone’s advice but hers,” and I thought, oh, no, here we go but Mother just got all teary-eyed and patted his cheek and now Merrill can Do No Wrong in her eyes and she even told off Ukele for criticizing him. How does he DO that?! So unfair. Although I suppose I should not complain because so far he only uses his powers for good. Mother even left off pestering me she said I was in good hands and she’s not worried any more. Unbelievable. I asked Merrill though and he said he’d been working on that line all day and he was relieved it went over so well so maybe it isn’t as easy as he makes it look.
Of course, next what does he do but say he wants to talk to me and finish our discussion from earlier and I don’t know what to say so we go out for a walk to get some privacy and he says, “Feruzi, do you love me?” all serious. So I thought about it for a while which I could tell was not helping matters and I finally said “Not exactly” and Merrill says “I see . . . so why did you marry me, then?”. I said “It’s complicated and I don’t know how to explain” and he said “Try.” So we ended up standing there for maybe five minutes while I tried to think and failed so Merrill kissed me and started to head back and I said “I don’t know how I feel about you but I know marrying you was the right thing to do because you make me . . . be myself, somehow. Properly. Better than I was. I don’t know if that’s love or not but I didn’t want to say it and have it not be true,” and I started to cry which was stupid but Merrill didn’t seem upset he just came back and kissed me again and said he didn’t understand but maybe it didn’t matter and he would eventually. I told him Mother always says that you can’t really know if you love someone until you’ve already married them and really learned who they are but the way you start to know is that you find out things about them that you never thought you wanted but it turns out now you do. Merrill said “That is EXACTLY how I feel about you.” so I told him “I know, I’m just slow,” and he smiled and now I’m not upset any more.

10 Rova 4712 AR
Mother snuck in and woke me early this morning so I could go along to the crater with her and Ukele. It took me a while to figure out how to get up without waking Merrill who is not exactly a heavy sleeper but I managed somehow and we set off.
The crater is not really something anyone in the village talks about very much although all the women go there a few times a year to pay their respects to the Sacred Women and Zuneraali if he’s awake and in a mood for visitors. I have not seen him myself as he’s been tetchy for the past decade or so due to an unfortunate geyser incident that Mother refuses to discuss apart from saying that blue dragons don’t like it much when half of their scales turn bright orange and fall out leaving the most absurd-looking bald patches all over them. I wouldn’t even know about this development but Mother told us not to mention it which we couldn’t have done even if we wanted to before she told us about it but there’s not much use in pointing out this lapse of logic to Mother so if we see the dragon we will just have to remember not to comment on his appearance in any way whatsoever.
Some people would think living this close to an evil dragon would be dangerous, but Raali is a surprisingly good neighbor and doesn’t even bother our livestock as long as he has some women around to keep him entertained. That’s what the Sacred Women do, study sorcery and keep Raali occupied so that he doesn’t eat anything important or blow us or himself up. There’s not really anything sacred about them, I suppose, but some ancestor must have thought it sounded better than “dragon-sitter” and Raali likes the idea that we worship him so it stuck.
The crater isn’t much to look at, just a big sandy pit where a star fell a few centuries ago. You can’t even see it until you almost fall into it but you had better not because it’s quite deep and if you fell in nobody would ever find you because the trees grow right up to the edge and make it so you can’t see or hear anything until it’s too late. The crater has probably claimed more lives (or at least, incautious goats) than the dragon over the years.
We didn’t even get to go meet with the priestesses because Raali was out sunning himself and came thundering over the minute he spotted us which, if you’ve ever met a dragon, you know was before we ever spotted him. We were just walking along the path when all of a sudden WHOOM there’s a big blue dragon looming over us. Ukele screamed. To be fair, I almost did too but nobody heard me squeaking over the dragon and Ukele. I suppose I should be grateful if Ukele makes me look tougher than I actually am. Raali was delighted by this greeting and found Ukele utterly fascinating, what a surprise. I was surprised, myself, because he was smaller than I thought he’d be but I suppose dragons don’t really need to be big in order to be dangerous although they are more impressive when they are of course. I thought that was going to be the end of our trip but Mother had to tell Raali that I was studying sorcery too (although I’m not very good and it shows) so he had to look me over and make me cast a few spells (and I only KNOWa few spells) and then he just spontaneously decided that if Ukele was staying I might as well stay too and learn some proper magic.
Have you ever tried to argue a dragon out of something? No, of course you haven’t. They have you over a barrel and they know it so there’s almost never any use to arguing but I wasn’t going to be taken off by some overgrown patchy self-exploding lizard and I told him so and he put his claw on the top of my head and mashed me into the ground just to show that he could. I remember thinking, Merrill is NOT going to be happy about this when Raali spotted my bow and said “oooooooooh is that an Azlanti bow?” and I thought gods, now he’s going to want that too when he suddenly let me up and ran off. I just had time to ask Mother what the hell was going on and for her to say she had no idea when he comes thundering back with two of the Sacred Women on his back and this burned and broken staff thing in his mouth. Which he then has to tell us all about. For THREE HOURS. Apparently it also was some kind of Azlanti artifact and when he attempted to study it to find out how it was made that ended in the “unfortunate geyser incident” we weren’t supposed to talk about. Lovely. Ukele was fascinated. Or, at least, she pretended to be fascinated and kept urging Raali to explain more and more and more until he finally lost interest in me and Ukele signaled Mother and me to leave and we snuck off. What a relief. Ukele seems to be pretty good at her new job. Merrill was horrified when I told him where we’d been all day and we’re leaving first thing tomorrow morning. I told him it wasn’t anything serious because Raali is probably the laziest dragon in the world but I don’t think he believed me. Still, it’s pleasant to be fussed over as long as he doesn’t take it too far.

11 Rova 4712 AR

All right, so I was wrong. I’m a big girl. I admit it. Fortunately all we got out of it was a scare. Thank goodness for Ukele is all I have to say.
Raali came to the village at the crack of dawn and tore the roof right off the room where Merrill and I were asleep. I thought for sure he was going to eat both of us but all he did was shove his nose into the room and demand to know which one of us was Captain Pegsworthy. Merrill spoke up before I could stop him and admitted that he might answer to that name, so Raali said, “Good, I have a job for you.” So Merrill said, “What sort of job?” like this sort of thing happened every day and Raali says “Ukele is your sister, right?” and Merrill looks at me like what the hell and says “sister-in-law, actually,” so Raali snorts which almost makes the rest of the roof fall in on us and he says “Close enough, anyway I’ve decided to keep her for my mate but she is going to need some . . . things. Keep the change.” And Raali wrinkles his nose and spits out a scroll case and a star sapphire the size of my two fists together. Then he put the roof back down and left.
Merrill and I just sat there staring at the half-collapsed ceiling until he finally said, “I guess she finally found a male big enough to satisfy her,” in this awed voice and I couldn’t help it I laughed until I couldn’t breathe and Merrill did too and Mother came storming in and declared we were hysterical and dumped a bucket of water over both of us which helped a little but not quite enough so we had to take turns telling Mother what happened while we sat there stark naked and dripping wet. All Mother had to say when we finished explaining was “Well it’s about time.” Merrill had a look at Raali’s shopping list and said that it looked doable and he wouldn’t be surprised if that sapphire was worth two or three times what he’d need so I was relieved. He said to me, “You have a much more interesting family than I was expecting,” and I said “It’s not normally quite this bad, but yes.”
So now we’re back on the Bonaventure headed back to Tidewater Rock so I can go embark on my exciting new career as Deputy Assistant Pirate Lord and Merrill can go shop for Raali. I think life on the Crisis is going to look almost ordinary after this little trip. I’m glad to have Ukele all set, though, and it was fun watching Pinch’s eyes bug out over Merrill’s sudden new wealth. Merrill made me promise to send him letters as often as I could manage and he would do the same. I’m going to miss him terribly.

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