A Crimson Shore: Far Realm
Narrative Interlude: How Dry I Am
“How dry I am… Nobody knows….How dry I am.”
“What is that great fool of a man singing about in the cell beyond?” asked Ariea, mostly to herself. She was half-awake as were they all, resting their injuries after the battle with the “demons”.
“I can’t see. He’s several cells down and the light is too poor.” Replied Thrak. “Besides, my snout won’t fit through the bars. He’s not the only one. While you’ve slept, several others have been muttering the same thing.”
“Isn’t it a song sung back in Cellione?” asked Nuni. She had heard that once, from one of the sailors claiming to have traveled there, and many other ports.
Inara smiled in the darkness. She had been mouthing the words for some time. It was like an old familiar friend. “It’s an old-sailor song from Xiladros actually. The late Jethro Q. L’amour often sung ballads on Cillandric pentameter like this. It is most likely the bard’s song.”
“I remember it well.” Said Morn, “But right now I care more about us not being in any more trouble than we already are. Governor Canton agreed to let us choose Chance. But clearly, this is to his own ambitions. We must watch our step I think. And this fool will rouse the guards.”
“Hey, you there, in the cell beyond,” whispered the mage. He brought his fingers to his mouth, and magical words, his, resonated in the cell beyond. He used his hand to guide them on a soft air it seemed away from the direction of the guards. “Hush up and tend to your own business.”
“And who might you be to tell any of us what are going “back to the righteous flame” what to do?” came a hoarse reply. “The condemned have no judgment over the condemned!”
None of the those in Andril’s cell replied. It became obvious that letting the fool talk was perhaps a better idea than instigating a problem. They had nearly been Inquisitioned just hours ago after all. It was time to weigh the risks more stealthily.
“Well, blast ye for not answering, but this I tell you. I’ve overheard the guard and you won’t be avoiding the old’ hangman’s noose. None of ye! Humbolt doesn’t play nice.”
Thrak couldn’t help himself, “We’ll take care of us. Thank you human.”
“Will ye? And what of your soul, beast? Will you take care of that?”
“Ignore them!” whispered Nuni. “They are talking nonsense because they are spending their last night in this Kethole before their grand party tomorrow. We need our sleep for the tournament!”
But then another voice came from a different cell. This one though was more ominous and far more weird, guttural . “The Flame doesn’t take the soul of a half-breed. What will it be, when Inquisitioned? Where will it go? You know what your people say about death outside of combat.”
Silence crept into the air, slithering. It hung there for a long time.
“Nuni is right, Thrak, it is best to…” Morn began but was interrupted.
“The Great Mother can protect you. The Great Mother will guide you. Come with us.”
Morn’s words hung in his mouth. “What do you know,” he paused and seemed hardpressed to find his words, “Of the…great mother? This is blasphemy. Against the order no less. No wonder you are being Inquisitioned in the morning light.”
“We know the Great Mother, man. We know, because we are a part of her, and she of us. She is showing us the way to leave our bindings behind. Far Realm does not have to be a prison for the likes of us all. We will….,” the voice dropped to nearly nothing, but in the stillness of the night, they could still just make it out, “escape. Come with us…”
Areia giggled. “Pirate’s tales and foolishness, and treasurebait to get you hung. Nightie night drunkards.” She put her head back down. A few of the others did the same and laughed a bit too. Morn however did not.
“We can show her to you.”
Morn closed his eyes. In the morning, they were collected by the guard and Lord Humbolt himself. He tried to look back at the cells from which the voices had come, but he wasn’t sure where to look. As luck had it, he would be afforded just a flash, a second between exiting the cell and being led into the next room. There was though nothing to see. An empty corridor, filthy, and cells row upon row. Nothing. But just as he was forced back around, he saw a single hand wrapping itself around one of the bars. As the guards pushed him into line, and locked up his cell door behind him, his eyes fixated on the hand.
And in his mind, he implanted it’s every line.