It is now a year and a day since Stampford and Nimblefingers’ souls were imprisoned and their bodies sucked dry of life and left as walking corpses. I know this because the cold has returned and so has Wen-Jien promising my release.
A year and a day since I was invited to be a “guest” of the Heaven King. A year and a day of meditation, folding paper into tiny beasts and painting black symbols on yellowed parchment. A year and a day of learning to navigate the rocky shores they call a culture.
I cannot say this feels real to me, as nothing that has happened to me in the past two years seems real to me. It is just as it is. I suppose I can point to the meditation for this distinctly alien outlook.
Out of the mist of these last days in Sahud, comes a hazy vision of a lizard pulling pieces of Nimblefingers from my memory. I can only assume its going to pilfer the vile ankle-biter’s fortunes. So be it. May that line end and forever be as used and barren as an aged whore.
Spells to navigate and aid a sea fairing ship are taught to me, and I teach spells in return. For two years I am to be a sailor and use my magic to blow a ship around the vast sea. To keep me from jumping ship, I will not be paid my salary until the end of the voyage. The captain is not a fool, which is reassuring.
With great gladness I look forward to leaving behind my circus of paper animals and my inked black characters. While my meditations have kept me quite sane, I am not the same person who ran from Quartadec with that band of idiots. How different, I cannot quite say.
My vassal is here at the port with me and yet he served me for several years, his name has been removed from my head like the fading memory of far off lullaby. He is off and there is something missing from his look. I suspect the same is true for me. Something missing yet I don’t know or don’t remember what it was.
We board our new home and I remember that feeling joy is like a swim on a sweltering summer’s day. I will find these winter months on the sea infinitely more enjoyable than a year and a day of Sahud.