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Fiddler's Rose - Ten - Revenant

Fiddler's Rose – Chapter Ten – Revenant (Updated 5/18/2018)

>>>Scene One: Rose's room

“Restless tonight, your Grace?”

“Itchy feet. I promised Bing a year, and it's almost up, and I'm not sure how to proceed.”

“Are you thinking about staying on?”

“No. I wouldn't do that to you, anyway, but I just know I have been here too long. And as soon as I start to think about leaving, this place starts to look like a prison.”

“I thought you were happy, for the most part.”

“I have been. It's a nice prison. And I can walk away any time I want, I guess, but I am not a walker, and I am really afraid that the sea might be closed to me.”

“I'm not seeing that.”

“Emma can go anywhere she wants, but only for an hour at a time. My true form is just too weird, and I don't see how I can book passage on a ship and stay out of sight for a whole voyage.”

“Ah.”

“If I have to walk, I have to walk. But it's a damned long way.”

“I have no ideas.”

“I didn't expect you to. You could play me a lullaby, though.”

“I can, and I will.”

“Good night, Fid.”


>>>Scene Two: Darkness

“You're tired tonight, Rose.”

“I've been doing honest work.”

“That sounds unpleasant.”

“No, it's kind of exciting, actually. I bought a boat.”

“I did not see this coming.”

“I didn't either, but it works. Sailing will get me to Silverport, and on to Skytower, much faster than walking, and I won't have to worry much about cargo load, and it will be safer than being on land. I hadn't considered it because I thought it was out of my price range.”

“What changed?”

“I bought a wreck.”

“Hear my eyes rolling.”

“I can fix it easily with magic, it will just take a little time.”

“Hmmm. You should at least get a good story out of it.”

“Which you want to hear.”

“I wait with bated breath. Which, since I don't breathe, is pretty much the only option.”

“Brat. Anyway... There was a storm last night, and I woke up early this morning, because I was still restless, and I wore Emma down to the docks, just to talk to the water. And I found this old man standing next to an empty slip, turning the air blue. It turned out that the slip wasn't empty, but that his boat had sunk during the storm. I listened to him go on for a while; he was a really accomplished vulgarian. Eventually he wound down, and I asked him about the boat, which set him off again, and then I asked him if he would consider selling it, as it was. He was shocked, but he said he would, and I made an offer, and he accepted it. So now I own a sunken boat.”

“Your ability to plumb new depths of crazy never ceases to amaze me.”

“It was floating yesterday, which means its all there, no matter how poor its condition. That means I can use magic to repair it, plank by plank, until it is as good as new. It won't actually take that much magic, or more than a few days. The biggest job was getting it out of the harbor, and I have already DONE that.”

“You got a sunken boat out of the harbor in one day?”

“I bought some empty barrels and used them to float it off the bottom, and then Sister Shark towed it out of town. Towing a twenty-five foot boat through water when you can stand on the bottom is kind of like pulling an empty horse cart over level ground.”

“I'm impressed. I still think you're crazy, but I'm impressed.”

“So now I have a swamped boat on the beach about three miles east of town. Tomorrow I will pull it farther up the beach and start fixing it.”

“And assuming this all goes as planned, when will you start heading south again?”

“Two weeks. Three at the outside.”

“Which is a LOT better than the 'never' I was beginning to worry about.”

“Have I EVER given you any reason to believe that I was going to put down roots here, or anywhere?”

“I am ever at your mercy, Rose, and have no control whatsoever.”

“Idiot. You KNOW I will come for you. You DO.”

“When the sun is in the sky, I have no doubt that it will rise again tomorrow. But the nights are long and cold, and I forget.”

“Is that you, or did you steal it from somewhere?”

“Would I admit it if it were stolen?”

“Probably not. Good night, my scorpion. Your heart is safe for at least one more day.”


>>>Scene Three: Darkness

“You're late tonight, Rose. And exhausted, I think.”

“And sleeping in the boat, because I am too tired to walk into town. But she's DONE, Fid. Tomorrow I give her a new name, raise her sails for the first time since I have owned her, and sail her into the harbor. The day after that, probably, I will take Bing and Rilla out for a tour of the harbor, and the day after that I will start loading her up for the trip.”

“A new name?”

“I think she deserves one. She wore out her old one.”

“And the name is?”

“'Revenant.'”

“That's... quite a name.”

“It fits. And my best friend is a ghost, so I am disinclined to be afraid of the undead. At least the lesser ones.”

“Speaking as your ghostly friend, I would be grateful if you were just a bit more superstitious.”

“She takes her revenge against the sea that killed her by rising and conquering her enemy all over again. It's a good name, and she's a good boat. It will be fine.”

“You are far too trusting, Rose.”

“What? Are you afraid I'm going to get tangled up with some undead thing, and dedicate my life to rescuing it?”

“Ouch.”

“It will be fine, Fid. And a spooky name will frighten the riff-raff. Maybe.”

“We can hope. Would her Grace like a lullaby?”

“Her Grace would like that very much indeed.”


>>>Scene Four: Rose's room

“Not sleeping, Rose?”

“Meditating on my way to sleep, I hope. This way I can talk to you, a bit, and maybe fall asleep as well. It would be a shame to waste my last night in this wonderful bed.”

“And we will finally be moving forward again.”

“We've been moving forward right along, Fid. It just hasn't always been obvious. But tomorrow the road will be clearer than it has been in a long time.”

“Fifteen months.”

“I know, Fid, and I have said I am sorry. But now I have my fourth Dragon Mark, and I have Wings, and a head full of new knowledge, and some new books, and some new spells... It has been worth it, and I promise I will make the wait up to you somehow.”

“You keep saying that.”

“And you keep doing that invisible leer whenever I do.”

“Heh.”

“And making me blush.”

“Heh.”

“Be useful and play me a lullaby.”

“As her Grace wishes.”


>>>Scene Five: Aboard “Revenant”

“You've... MOVED, Rose. Enough that I can see it.”

“Fair winds and calm seas, with a lightly laden boat that seems to enjoy running.”

“And you're still not sleeping?”

“Not just yet. I'm taking a little time to take in my surroundings, and to talk to my best friend.”

“You would have talked to me in any case.”

“I know. But this way I have the stars overhead, and the sound of the water, and I can feel the boat around me in a way that I wouldn't if I were asleep.”

“You're getting poetic on me, Rose.”

“Maybe a little. I am acutely aware that I am somewhere I have never been before. I actually own the bed I am sleeping in— the metaphorical bed, anyway-- and there isn't another person around for miles. It's an odd feeling.”

“How do you ever cope with the isolation?”

“Brat. I'm trying to identify with an ungrateful friend.”

“Yes, your Grace. And I can feel your excitement. And you've MOVED. You're actually closer to me than you have been for a year and a half.”

“New horizons, Fid. New scenery, new challenges. Same old you.”

“I regret my immutability.”

“Don't.The march of the stars is wonderful, but the north star holds them all together.”

“Aww.”

“Do I give you grief when YOU get poetic?”

“No, but you haven't built your personality around obnoxiousness.”

“Play me something melancholy and MAYBE I won't try to forget you exist. Maybe.”

“Token!”

“Sorry, those all expired the moment we set sail. You can't harass me for delaying after the delay is over.”

“What? Wait! I hadn't used them up yet!”

“Just play, Fid. And remember that I am going to be getting closer to you every single day for a while.”

“As your Grace wishes.”


>>>Scene Six: A hilltop south of Landfall

“Something's different tonight, Rose. I don't know what.”

“I've grounded the boat and made camp on high ground. There's a big storm coming, and I want nothing to do with it.”

“You left the boat on the beach?”

“No, I sailed up a small river until the boat grounded, and then stripped the boat and pulled it up the nearest hill, rolled it over against a couple of big trees, and made camp underneath it.”

“That sounds like a lot of work.”

“I've been going on it since noon, but when the Great Monster Turtle tells you to do something, it's a really good idea to do it.”

“And you didn't lead with that. I'm rubbing off on you. I'm not sure I like it.”

“And it's only been a year and half. Imagine how charming I'll be after fifteen years of your influence.”

“Or a hundred and fifty. I look forward to it in any case. But you're still avoiding the story of the day.”

“Maelstrom showed up. You should really warn me when he is in the vicinity.”

“All of Hurricane Bay is in the vicinity; he can be anywhere in it in less than four days, maybe less than three.”

“Still. Even though I am pretty sure he likes me and doesn't want to hurt me, having a turtle's head that is bigger than your boat surface next to you with no warning is... difficult,”

“And he said?”

“He congratulated me on my fourth mark, and asked to get a good look at me, so I hove to and stood up on the windward rail, with one hand braced against the mast. And he surfaced again, staring straight at me. Then he turned slowly to the left, and looked at me with his right eye, then he turned to the right, and looked at me with his left eye, and then he looked straight at me again.”

“Sounds like a lot of fun.”

“I have never been so terrified. Just the weight of that stare...”

“I can imagine. Maybe. I can feel the echoes.”

“And then he told me that I wore the mark well, and that I was beautiful, and that I was very lucky that I had managed to find a source that was from the same noble house as the first three.”

“Say what? The kobold?”

“Maelstrom was amused by my confusion about that. Kobolds have dragons in their family tree, and apparently most dragon types have contributed to the soup at one point or another. My blood donor must have favored the sea dragons.”

“Lucky Rose.”

“And then he said that when I was ready for the fifth mark, which I wasn't yet, he would be honored if I were to take it from him.”

“The Great Monster Turtle wants you to cut him so that he can bleed into your open wound.”

“Yes.”

“That's... I have no words. I don't even have any THOUGHTS.”

“I know. I was so rattled that I really didn't notice that he had disappeared.”

“That's rattled.”

“Almost as rattled as I was when he surfaced under the boat, and told to take my place on the front of his shell.”

“Gods.”

“Can you imagine telling the Great Monster Turtle to wait while you furl the sails?”

“You didn't.”

“Hell yes I did. Maelstrom can swim fast enough to roll the 'Revenant' if she gets cross winded, and that boat is my life at the moment.”

“Only you, Rose.”

“So eventually I ended up on the shell just above his neck, and I told him about everything I have done since Turtle Bay, and he asked me if I was ready to tell him what my secret quest was.”

“Um... Wow?”

“What could I do? I told him who you were, and how I met you, and what your situation was, and he said that he was aware of a tiny spark on the bottom in the depths of the bay.”

“A tiny spark.”

“A VISIBLE tiny spark. He told me that he would do his best to make sure that no one else got to you before I did, and that you should pay him a visit sometime.”

“I've thought about it, a little, but besides being terrifying, he never seems to sleep.”

“He said that if you knocked on his door, he would answer.”

“And you want me to do this?”

“It will be fine, Fid. He knows that hurting you would hurt me, and he likes me.”

“Unless he decides that I am a bad influence, and that you would be better off without me.”

“Try not to seem like a bad influence.”

“I'm a UNICORN!”

“You're my best friend. It will be fine. I've looked into his eyes in the real world. You can handle a little mind speech.”

“Maybe.”

“At any rate, by this time it was noon, and he pointed out the mouth of a small river on shore, and told me that there was a big storm coming, and that I should get as far away from the ocean, and the water, as I could for a few days. So here I am.”

“I wondered where you were getting your weather reports.”

“Like I said, when the Great Monster Turtle gives you weather advice, you take it.”

“I imagine.”

“I am going to sleep now, Fid. Say, 'Hello,' to Maelstrom for me.”

“NOW?”

“Sooner started, sooner over. It will be fine. And I will be sound asleep, and you can come back and tell me all about it.”

“You're heartless.”

“No, I'm a dragon.”


>>>Scene Seven: Darkness

“That was terrifying.”

“But you survived.”

“Maybe. I'll let you know when the surreality wears off. It may be a while.”

“You'll be fine. Tell the story.”

“PUSHY dragon. You take after your grandfather.”

“That's a compliment I never expected to hear. Tell the story.”

“So I reached out to him, knocked on his door, sort of, as requested, and he just WALKED into my dreamspace.”

“Um... wow. I didn't see that coming.”

“I didn't know it could happen. I've always kind of thought the dreamspace was inside of me, that I had complete control over it, but, well, not when the Great Monster Turtle is involved.”

“I tried to warn you.”

“Not really.”

“All right, I told you how I reacted.”

“Rose, he could have shredded me like a butterfly's wing. I have NEVER been so terrified.”

“But what happened? What did he say?”

“He just appeared, in the shape of... One of those big fresh water snapping turtles, I guess, but bipedal, with plantigrade feet, and he said that I ought to choose a form and come talk to him, so I put on Brother Faun, and CLOTHES, and...”

“You wore CLOTHES? You really must have been terrified.”

“I keep telling you. And I walked up to him, and bowed, and he shook my hand and said he was pleased to meet me, and asked me to give him a tour. So I showed him the waterfall grove, and clocks, and my statues; he was really taken by the one of you as a mermaid.”

“I look forward to seeing that one myself.”

“He asked me why I had so many statues of you as a human, and none with scales, and I said I had never seen you since you had had scales...”

“So many? I thought there were only three of me.”

“I have made a few more since then.”

“How many?”

“A couple of dozen? Thirty? I've kind of lost track.”

“THIRTY?”

“I get lonely. It helps.”

“Someday you are going to do something this sweet that isn't completely crazy, and I will have no idea how to react.”

“I will see what I can engineer. Anyway... He asked me about my music, and I played 'Chasing the Luck' because it is one of your favorites, and then we played a game of Territories.”

“You played Territories. With the Great Monster Turtle.”

“It was humiliating. He said he would coach me, and that I would get better with time.”

“Which is to say that you now have a standing invitation. To play Territories. With the Great Monster Turtle.”

“Yes?”

“You may have just permanently out-weirded me, Fid. I'm impressed.”

“I'm still terrified.”

“You'll get over it.”

“Gods, I hope so.”

“You know that there are some people who actually chase terror, Fid?”

“Crazy people.”

“They say that they do it because it makes them feel alive.”

“I have no response for that.”

“You aren't supposed to. Good night, my scorpion.”

“Good night, my heart.”


>>>Scene Eight: A hilltop south of Landfall

“Bored, Rose?”

“You have no idea. I've been trying to work on studying, and on practicing magic, but the rain is driving me crazy, and there's no place to go.”

“So you're meditating because?”

“Because there is some chance that you will decide to check in on me, and help relieve the boredom.”

“Poor Rose. Without drawing parallels to my current situation...”

“You have all of dreamspace to play with. And a turtle to play Territories with.”

“...I have been rained in a time or two over the centuries. When I had a servant, we would set up a tarp and retreat to dreamspace. When I was alone, I would try to find shelter, and think evil thoughts of the entire universe.”

“This would be a REALLY good day to spend in dreamspace, if we had the option.”

“Any day with you, Rose.”

“How do you DO that? There is no lechery in your words, or in you tone, and I STILL blush. Or something. My body doesn't really blush anymore.”

“You could always put on Emma for the occasion.”

“Brat.”

“You knew what I was...”

“Brat twice.”

“In other news... My encounter with Maelstrom seems to have... FED me, or something. Usually when I talk to you I can feel myself draining away, and today I don't. Or at least not as much.”

“Hmmm. How much traffic have you had in dreamspace when you weren't either alive, or bound to someone?”

“Sulissa and Maelstrom. And Sulissa was also a ghost, and physically next to me the whole time.”

“Not exactly a pattern, but definitely a clue.”

“You're saying that I should look forward to playing Territories with the Turtle.”

“Probably.”

“I will try.”

“That's a good little scorpion. I am going to go back to my books for a while, but please check in on me. Or stop the rain. That would be good, too.”

“I will do what I can.”


>>>Scene Nine: Darkness

“You're tired tonight, Rose.”

“Back on the water, and half a day away from my last camp. It's good to be moving again, but this morning was a LOT of work.”

“But you ARE moving.”

“I was. Anchored now. Also have a belly full of fresh fish, so that helps. The stuff I have been living off of for the last few days doesn't have much variety, or taste. And now my supplies of the stuff are almost gone; I should probably stop at a village soon and stock up."

“You've been deliberately avoiding people, haven't you?”

“Mostly. It hasn't been hard, particularly if I scout ahead from the air occasionally. From a thousand feet up, the horizon is forty miles away.”

“You can take off and land from the boat, or do you go to shore?”

“I heave to, throw a boarding ladder over the side, shift to Sister Wings, and take off. When I come back, I land in the water, shift back to Sister Dragon, climb back into the boat, and sail away. I've tried to land in the boat, but there is ZERO margin for error; it's like trying to land on a tightrope, with a broken ankle or worse waiting if you miss. The odds are too bad.”

“Sister Dragon.”

“Yes?”

“They all have names. Emma, plus Sister This and Sister That. There's no Rose.”

“Ah. You noticed.”

“You don't know who you are, anymore.”

“Of course I do. I just don't know what I look like. But that doesn't really matter.”

“Then who are you?”

“I'm the Corrosion Flower. Also, the Heart of the Unicorn.”

“Ah. That.”

“Yes, that, silly Fiddler. Forever and always, unless you've changed your mind.”

“Never.”

“Well, then. I refuse to worry about what face looks back at me from the mirror. Though I wish I could hold onto Emma for more than an hour at a time; it would make my life simpler.”

“You can't recast it before it expires?”

“No. Not any more than I can renew Sister Shark. Holding a form takes too much out of me to cast the spell again. A lot of longer term spells interfere with each other like that.”

“Ah. That's what stands between you and doing the rescue dive right away.”

“Clever scorpion. Though if you had been really clever, you might have asked me about this as soon as I learned the shark form..”

“You said you needed to be Third Circle; I didn't know why. I thought the answer was probably outside my Thaumatology.”

“You TRUSTED me? That's... kind of unbelievable. I'm touched.”

“Of course I trust you, Rose. You're my heart.”

“Damn, Fid. The day just CAN NOT come too soon.”

“Just keep sailing.”

“As soon as the sun comes back up.”

“Until the day, Rose.”

“Until the day.”

End of Chapter Ten
Copyright 2018 by Paul Haynie
All rights reserved.
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