The sea people
Velihas turns out to be even stranger than we already thought.
I HAVE DANCED WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT PEOPLE BUT STILL ARE PEOPLE!!! Really! I have! And no, they weren’t the Gods either! (But I wonder… If I ask Anshen whether he wants to dance when he’s so close during our invocations on the beach– would he say yes?) In any case — we were still in Cuytim, at the Winter Fair, and it was the second night of the fair. We’d done our show, had had food, had danced, made music… This really is an awesome feast!
And then I thought, what shall we do? And I knew! We could go and play in the sea. It was full moon, and not that cold, surely! And everyone thought, a great idea! So we dropped our clothes and ran into the sea! A big wave grabbed me and before I knew I was wet through.
Then we thought of playing horse-and-rider in the water. Mik rode Fekemme and he was much better than my riders! Or maybe Fekemme was also a much better horse than me, although I foundered only once!
Fikmet didn’t want to get all wet and salty, so she was waiting for us to come back at the shore, but then she saw THEM! I’m not sure what they are, nobody is, but they live in the sea and have anea and they do think, that’s for sure! And they only live here, in the bay of Cuytim, and don’t let themselves be shown all that often, so it was a big honor!
Maybe they came to meet Fekemme? Because he’s going to be King?
In any case, there they were, and there two dozen children in the sea and we made a go-round dance with them, and they joined in the round, and I felt one take hold of my hand, as if it were a dozen, cold, friendly water drops that fixed itself to my skin, it should have been icky, but it wasn’t! It was awesome. And we danced, and danced, and danced!
And then I got cold, so cold I had to pee, and I didn’t want to do that in the sea, because, well — would you pee in someone’s front garden or something? So I had to go out, and I made a little bow for my sea-person, and he, or she, or it, I don’t know!, bowed back, all graceful like, like a big wave that toppled and then stretched, but still, it wasn’t a wave, it was a person who isn’t people, that’s what it was!
And don’t tell me it’s not true, because it is, because when she saw me shivering, Mik’s mum, she came and put my blanket around me to warm me up, and I told her about the sea-persons, and she said, are they there? And she was like, oh! I wish I could meet them again. So I said, why can’t you? Are they of Timoine? And she said, a bit, perhaps. So I said, you can go in, I will keep Mevi under my blanket for you, and then you can meet them, and she dropped her dress, and went in! And a friend of hers, who is with the actors, she wanted to go in as well, but then we saw that Mevi and the toddler of her friend, they were waving and making noises at the sea — they wanted to meet the sea-persons, too!
And we went in a bit and bent over, and the sea-person came up, and kissed Mevi on her nose! And Mevi stretched out and grabbed at the sea-person, who kissed her hands then. It was a real kiss even though I don’t know whether the sea-persons have a mouth!
This was the most awesome thing to happen, but the Winter Fair of Cuytim was really good all by itself, too.
We gave our show, two times, and we got lots of coins of all kinds for it (and we gave a big part of that to Mik’s mum, because she was giving us food, of course), and we saw the fire jugglers juggle with fire, and spew fire, and one of them lent Fikmet three small clubs so she could learn to juggle with something other than a ball. And they danced with swords, too.
And we saw the stage people give a play, but that was boring, it was only about kings making war and wanting each other’s queen or something, and when they fought, it was fake! Even when they stabbed someone with a sword, they missed!
And we saw Mik and his mum and dad give their show, it was about the beginning of the world, just like a song, I didn’t understand anything of it! They were all in white and moved around without talking, but the acrobatics were good, even if a little slow.
And we caught Rhyn! He was carrying stuff to his ship, his new ship, he had gotten himself onto a ship of Anshen! All hidden, too! And we caught him and gave him to the Commander of the Order, and went with them to Captain Ruzyn’s ship, the Flower of Selday, where it had been built. The ship was very nice, and we were allowed to climb all the way up the ropes, and down again. But I am sort of sorry for Rhyn… I don’t think they’ll hang him, but they’ll take him to Essle and to the Order there… And he’ll have to do all kinds of boring jobs on board the ship — when we left he was scrubbing the deck.
I wonder whether we shouldn’t rescue him… Get him on land in the middle of the night! Now we’re without a spy to chase, and everyone says, the pirates are to dangerous to try and catch, they really kill everyone who doesn’t submit. So we shouldn’t try to catch the pirate chief, and even spying on him, that’s scary.
We also met Fekemme’s uncle, he is a musician, he has a fiddle that fits into his breast pocket. It makes a lot of noise, very good for dancing. And I had a game with him, he was fiddling a dance tune, and I was dancing, and he went faster, so I went faster, and I won!!! I could dance faster than he could fiddle!
And later I did the same with some sailors from Rhyn’s old ship, but they were drunk, and they fell down really soon, so I could pipe faster than they could dance. And they were all icky with the nameless.
And the next night, there were sailors from Ruzyn’s ship, and they did the dancing game, too, and then one of them, he tried to chat me up! And tried to put his hand in my shirt! He was really stupid, even if he was with Anshen! He made out he was all friendly, but how stupid can you get? There isn’t anything inside my shirt to feel, he should have tried with someone else, I saw some girls go behind the coconut and sea-water beer tent with some sailors.
That beer really must have been made with sea-water! Either that, or the brewer in Cuytim collects everyone’s bedpan every morning and pours it into his barrels! The wine wasn’t bad, though, and since the beer was so bad, Fekemme didn’t get squiffy, so we could do the invocations properly, and the last night of the fair, we even sang the old songs around the fire, that is the best thing ever, except for the sea-persons, perhaps.
Well, the next day, but the one before we sang the songs, the second day of the Fair, I mean, I bought a copper whistle, it is VERY *LOUD*. I love playing on it, even though the wooden mouthpiece still needs a lot of oil before it’ll stop making my lips dry and chapped. It cost a rider and some shillings, but Fekemme beat the merchant down to under a rider, I couldn’t have done that.
Also… I don’t know if I want to have so many riders… The thing is this, if I count properly I’m nearly twelve. And if you’re twelve and have the price, you should go into apprenticeship! It’s good, being an apprentice in a guild, of course, and better (that’s what everyone says) than being boatpeople outside a guild. But it means that if I have twelve riders when we are back in Tilis I’ll have to become a cobbler or something boring like that!
I don’t know what I want, actually. But not to become a cobbler!
I know that Fekemme and Fikmet want to travel more, and I guess I do, too. Even though I miss mum and dad and Ferin and all my other brothers and sisters and in-laws, and granny and nephews and nieces… And I miss the river, and the boat, too, and even my little cubby-hole in the attic. And the birds… All the marsh birds, the ducks and the herons, the snipe and the teal.
But if I had to stay home to be an apprentice cobbler or something, I wouldn’t be on the river, either! And I would miss Fikmet and Fekemme, because they’d go on, for sure.
And it isn’t like I’m sweet on Fekemme, of course, and he isn’t stupid either, but he’s sometimes really sad that when he has to stop travelling, he has to go to boring old Baraz to be king and never leave, at least, I think I understood the gods, or the country forbid him to. Or something like that.
And he says, he wanted to see the world, and now the world is so much bigger than he ever thought, and then he gets a bit sad, and I have to find a way to cheer him up and do something silly or something wild, like dancing with the Sea Persons. And who will cheer him up, if I stay in Tilis?
So I spent a whole rider on a flute, and if I find a tiny fiddle, I will give the rest of my money for it, too.
It’s not like we need the money to travel, after all! We started out with barely a rider, and look how far we got!