Chapter Fifty: In This Sea of Light and Song

When Namid awoke, Irian was ranting.

She was awakened by his stirring beside her, and thought for a second that he was simply shifting in the starless night.  As they had slept, clouds gathered overhead, and every now and then soundless lightning lit a far-off cloudbank.  However, he was moving more than just to shift position, and he was murmuring under his breath.  As she sat up beside him, he grew more violent, his wide-open eyes seeing nothing, what sounded to her useless syllables covered in gear oil poured from his mouth.

Gabha-Bheil…

…mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas vyth go bragh…  …nid myned a ddel eilwaith…

His sightless eyes focused.  He turned and retched into the sea.  Namid held his hair wordlessly, knowing there was nothing to say-she had not understood a word of what he had said…

Irian finished, and lay in the bottom of the boat, as it pushed on ever farther.  After he had caught his breath, he sat up, and looked about him.  All was waves and thunder.  No land was in sight, nor was their fish or fowl above the waves or beneath the clouds.  As far as she could see, angry gray seas and angry gray skies.  Irian, however, used a more keen and subtle sense.

“I smell sand.”

“How?”

“I smelled Elanor, right?”

She conceded the point.  He offered her his hand.  “Stand up and tell me what you see.  Your eyes are sharper still than mine.”  Though Namid doubted that very much, she was glad to be thought of so.  However, mostly right in their line of travel (as best she could tell) was a tiny speck.  Far too far to tell what it was, but she sensed it was land.  At least, she hoped that was what she sensed.  She sat back down, careful not to tip the boat.

“I think you’re right.”

“I’m not perfect, Namid.  I can”t do everything-or see, as the present case may be.”

In all her time with Irian, she had never heard him express that he couldn’t do anything.  Even in healing, he wouldn’t stop-simply go until he collapsed.  Her mouth stood open.

“Fishing again, are we?”

She was so completely caught unawares that she forgave him the jab, and besides, he was smiling.  Nobody but perhaps her brother and Musashi-sensei, and maybe the Prince, had ever seen him smile.  Certainly not her.  She scooped a handful of water and threw it at him.  He laughed, and scooped up a handful of water himself, and returned in kind.  The water was blue fire as he flung it at her.  They both gasped-Namid a bit late, as it hit her open mouth.

“What is it?”

Tinna-galach ‘a mor… the sea has awoken for us.”

Even as he said these words, the whole ocean was replying-blue-green fire in jewels of seawater coursed around them, illuminating them on their path across the trackless ocean.  Behind them, red flickers lit in the path of their raft, a shooting star trail charting their course.  Namid stared wide-eyed at the light.  Irian was even startled to see it.

“It’s so beautiful…”

“Truly it is.  But Manadwydan has simply bade as I asked Him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“A sign.  He is not done with me yet, I ken.”

“Who is he?”

“The Lord of the Seas.  All seafarers are in His debt, for this is His land, and we catch by His grace.”  To watch Irian in the veneration of his beliefs was to watch a different person, thought Namid.  Either that, or he’s just that good looking.  She tried to push the thought out of her mind.  She knew what he was-cold, calculating, and relentless, and that nothing had ever distracted him.  Even so, she thought him handsome.  With effort, though, she wrenched her eyes from him and returned them to the sea.

“Apparently he likes you.”

“Apparently so.  My father said he’d only seen the seas awake once, when the Harvest came to our land.  It wasn’t long afterwards I went to live at Sanctuary.”  He paused, then continued.  “As you could well guess, I was not from the English countryside.  I did not learn Englic quickly, nor did my schoolfellows care for me.  But Manadwydan bestowed His blessings, as did Cernunnos, and Beli Mawr, and all others besides, and I grew stronger than they could control.  Sensei Musashi found me, and taught me control.  I learned his Japannic, and his sword as well.  He was as another father to me.  When I was of age, they let me fight.  I had lost all to the Harvest, why not lose my life as well?”

Namid was silent.  He was here, but not, and he had to say what he had to say.

Instead of continuing, though, he opened his mouth, and began to sing.  A clear, ringing tenor, his voice rolled across the waves and sang with itself.

“Near Banbridge Town, on the County Down

One morning las’ July

Down a borreen green came a sweet colleen

Was a’ smiled as she pass’d me by

A’ she looked so sweet from her twae bare feet

to the sheen a’ her nut-brown hair

Such a coaxing elf, had to shake meself

As to see I was truly there

From Bantry Bay up to Derry quay,

And from Galway to Dublin town

No lass I’ve seen like the sweet colleen

That I met o’ the county down”

Namid was enthralled.  Irian had a beautiful voice, and she wished she were the girl he sang about.  In a fit of fancy, she pulled off her heavy combat boots and untied her hair.  She was sunburned, unkempt, she was rather sure she smelled and they were both stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but for a moment, she let her mind wander to the possibility.

Irian had not missed the action.  He was never sure in situations like this, but he figured he’d may as well try anyway.  He extended his hand to her.  As she took it, he swept her into his arms.

“At the crossroads fair she’ll a’ sure be there

And I’ll dress in my Sund’y clothes

With my shoes shined bright and my hat cocked right

For a smile a’ the nut-brown rose

No pipe I’ll smoke nor horse I’ll yoke

Till my plow turns a rust-colored brown

Till a smiling bride by my own fireside

Sits the star of the County Down…”

As they stood there together, the sea grew dimmer, and finally dark.  All that was left was the red track in the sea below, and the rain that fell from above.  Ever towards the dot did the little raft move, and her occupants besides.

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Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 2:12 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wow, nicely done! I care about the characters much more than I did before. Word crack is right. 🙂


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