While trying to focus on a knot in the wood slats of the ceiling of his small cabin room, Beddigan lay flat on his back on the small, hard bed and clenched his stomach, trying to quell the urge to vomit into the bucket at his bedside. The trip across the Lorring Sea would take about a week as they angled south from San Vincent’s Port, skirting well around the mists of the Ranier Islands and travelling North up the coast of Mormant to port that sat outside the walls of the capital city of Strille. For the first few days of the journey he had tried to stay up on deck, which was supposed to help those who suffered with sea travel, as it would give them the horizon to focus on, but had spent the majority of his time on deck hanging his head over the edge of the ship. Captain Linley had provided him with herbal sachets and teas recommended by other members of the crew but nothing had helped so far.
Despite the hellish rocking of the boat as they cut through rough seas, towards the countries he had fled from, to rescue his best friend and possibly reveal his long hidden secret of still being alive to those who wished him dead, Beddigan was excited at the possibility of seeing his home once again. He thought about the rolling hills of Shillingdale as he lay on the bed; of his parent’s small cottage on the plot of land with gardens upon gardens and the little stream that ran through it. He used to fashion boats from parchment and race them with his little sister Clottie on that stream. He could see her pink, patched, oft-mended dress blowing in the wind and hear her giggles as they splashed and played together on warm summer days. A smile graced Beddigan’s face as he clung to that memory, a beacon of hope and solace for the dangerous quest he was about to embark upon.
A rapping at the door of his cabin shook him from his reverie and he sat up, wincing at the pressure it put upon his stomach.
“Come in.” he said thickly, silently urging the nausea away. The door opened and Captain Linley waddled in, carrying a steaming, heavy pewter mug.
“Ahh, you’re up! You really should try to come up on deck today, Beddigan. We should pull into port in the wee hours of the morning as planned.” The little badger thrust the mug towards Beddigan, indicating for him to take it. A swampy stench tickled Beddigan’s whiskers, threatening to break the tenuous hold he had on his stomach contents. Linley tutted, “Don’t make that face. Drink it! It will help! ol’ Iron-bones swears by the stuff. From way up there in the mountains. Pricey stuff, you’re darn lucky he was willing to part with a mug of it for you.” Beddigan grimaced and placed the mug on the small bedside table.
“Thank him for me.” he muttered, giving the small badger a curt nod. Linley’s eyes brightened and he leaned forward and patted Beddigan’s shoulder,
“There’s a lad. And cup up on deck when you’re through. This will be the last chance you get to feel the fresh air on your face and see the sky for quite some time.” Beddigan nodded, distractedly eyeing the steamy mug of swampy looking liquid. He could here Linley barking orders through the closed door before the little badger could have possibly even made it back up deck. He chuckled to himself and lifted the mug to his mouth, careful not to breathe through his nose. To Linley’s credit, it didn’t taste as bad as it smelled or looked. And even with his sensitive stomach, he was able to gulp down half of the mug before he needed to take a break from it.
Beddigan leaned back against the headboard shelves, waiting for the brew to take effect and ebb his nausea. He wished for the umpteenth time that he could have just used a portal crystal to travel to Mormant. But it would have been just too dangerous, considering that he hadn’t been in the country in almost too many turnings to count, so chances of him popping up in the middle of a pack of Wolf soldiers, or ended up inside a house or tree was too high. He had also heard many tales that Mormant had use of some magic, some trickery that detected any magical use within its borders. It was a risk that Beddigan, even with his loathing of sea travel, was not willing to take.
But portal travel is just so convenient, he thought, fixing his eyes on the knot in the ceiling wood slats again to calm his churning gut. Expensive though, he added, his hand moving to his coin purse as he felt a pang of anxiety at how much he had spent in the last few months. After the startling revelation Galantus had revealed, that William had been taken and delivered as prisoner to Mormant, Beddigan had known he would need to cross the Lorring Sea to rescue his friend. And to do that, he had also known he would need as many tricks up his sleeve as he could muster. So, using a good chunk of his coin, he had travelled to San Vincent’s Port from Windermere and purchased two portal crystals. A quick trip to Ashra’s Point had followed, where he had wound through the trees until he saw the peculiar little badger’s cottage perched along the cliff’s edge. Knowing that it would be quite some time before he could return to Katheyra, Beddigan had taken a few moments to appreciate the dense forest, the quiet isolation, and the expanse of the azure Trelill Sea that stretched into the horizon.
He had heard the little badger crashing around inside of his cluttered cottage and had rapped loudly on the door. His host flung the door open with a startled squeak, following it with another, much more excited squeak. The little badger had clasped his paw excitedly, shaking it vigorously,
“Beddigan! You’ve come back to tell me of your great success! Yes yes yes yes yes, oh do come in! Come in!” Beddigan had choked back laughter and followed the strange little badger into the cluttered, dusty, cave-like cottage.
“I am actually here to… shop, I guess would be the appropriate word.” Beddigan said and the little badger turned on his heel, eyebrows arced curiously,
“Well, then, what is it you’re after?” he had asked. Beddigan had glanced around the room, suddenly aware that he really didn’t know what he needed beyond disguise elements, a few extra weapons, and anything else that may help. He had explained to the little badger about his need for stealth on his next quest and the little badger’s eyes had lit up. The next while was spent watching as he had zipped around the rooms of the cottage, collecting things and placing them in a woven sack. He has listened as the badger chattered about what each item was but after a while his mind had drifted. It had been hard for Beddigan to keep track and hear him through the boxes and trunks that had muffled his voice. When all was said and done he had parted with a serious amount of gold and departed from the cottage. He had been nearly to the tree line when he heard the door fly open behind him,
“Wait!” the little badger had squeaked. Beddigan had turned, again holding back his laughter and the little badger scurried towards him up the gently sloping path. “What of Captain Linley’s adventure? The crystal worked, I’m sure!” the little badger had huffed. Beddigan had quickly recounted a severely clipped version of the voyage, focusing of the crystal working and ending with a rousing thank you. The little badger had grinned, shook his paw once more, and scampered down the path, muttering his signature “Yes yes yes yes yes!” excitedly under his breath.
Once Beddigan had returned via portal to San Vincent’s port, he had returned to his room at the Frolicking Frog Inn and dug through the bag to see what he had ended up with, and if there was anything else he would need to shop for to round out his supplies before he left the following day aboard Captain Linley’s ship. Among the treasures had been two small bright orange crystals that were meant to be affixed to gauntlets, that the little badger had said would make him forgettable when engaged. They didn’t have a terribly long lifespan so they were best used when in trouble or for a quick trip into a heavily guarded place. Perfect for a rescue mission, he had through. There was also a leather and crystal flecked scabbard for his sword which used the powers of the crystals to keep the blade sharpened at all times. Sharpening crystals were common but Beddigan had never seen a scabbard such as that one before. A new dark purple cape with crystals sewn into the hem and with a deep hood was not only a practical disguising element, but it disguised scent and voice as well. A pair of worn leather boots, desperate for a good clean and shine had shards of a crystal imbedded in the sole that Beddigan had never heard of or seen before. He had missed the little badger’s explanation of their power, so he had slipped them on to see if he could figure it out for himself. He took a step, intending to walk across the small Inn room and nearly plowed into the opposite wall. Bewildered, he had tried to take a step back and found himself sprawled over the bed from tripping. He had slipped the boots off then, making a note to try them outside as the crystals must enhance speed. A couple of ancient looking, crystal-hilted daggers that had light crystals built into them as well as crystals that made liquids not stick to them, keeping the steel clean and shiny, had rounded out the bag.
Beddigan’s eyes flickered to the one tall wardrobe cupboard where the bag and its contents resided for the journey. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, plugged his nose, and downed the rest of the smelly brew, before standing and stretching. He hated to admit it, but Linley, and by extension ol’ Iron-bones was right. His stomach felt much more settled now despite the stench. He made a mental note to thank the old badger himself the next time he saw him, as he slipped out of his cabin and made his way up to the deck. ol’ Iron-bones had been a fixture of Linley’s crew for as long as Beddigan had sailed with Linley, which was many turnings. But the old badger predominantly worked below decks or up in the crow’s nest of the ship so he rarely saw him anymore.
Beddigan winced as the bright sun assaulted his eyes as he stepped onto the bustling deck. He had been holed up in his cabin for several days now, trying to ride out the worst of the nausea in relative privacy. Once his eyes had adjusted he took a deep breath of the salty air and sighed with relief. He really was feeling better, as even the steady rock of the ship didn’t cause his stomach to churn any longer. He wandered amongst the crew, greeting members as they nodded or waved to him. The ship was a fine one, much better than the scrap heap that had sunk after the voyage to the Ranier Islands. He smiled as the Fillsner’s Muse flag flapped in the wind, brightly coloured against the blue sky and billowing white sails. He trod up the short flight of stairs to the back of the ship where Captain Linley stood upon his usual crate so that he could reach the massive steering wheel. The captain’s eyes sparkled as he saw Beddigan approaching,
“I told you it would help!” he chuckled gleefully. Beddigan smiled, and sidled up beside the small badger, slinging his arm around his friend’s shoulders.
“That you did, friend. Thank you for looking out for me.” Linley nodded, though Beddigan noticed a bit of light fade from his eyes.
“I understand it.” grumbled Linley, averting his eyes to look out over the ocean, “but I don’t like it. You are a damn fool for walking into Mormant after all you’ve done to stay hidden!” Beddigan’s mouth settled into a firm line, but he nodded,
“What else am I to do? No one else will save William and I owe him greatly.” Beddigan said somberly. Linley made a frustrated sound.
“I know I know, thats why I said I understand it.” he grumbled. He shook a claw at Beddigan then, “But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!” Beddigan couldn’t help but smile at the consternation on Linley’s face. He patted the little badger’s back.
“I know, dear friend. But I will take the utmost care. You will see me again.” he said firmly, half to assure himself, and half to assure his friend. Truth be told, Beddigan was fearful of this quest– more fearful that he had been of any other since he began adventuring all those turnings ago. Linley harrumphed and went back to staring out at the ocean, and Beddigan joined him, lost in thought. He still didn’t have a definitive plan. He just knew he had to rescue his friend, and hopefully check in on his sister while he was able. How the Hell am I going to break William out of a prison camp? he wondered as he stared off into the distance.
To be continued…
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