Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Clog post 5 with Wizard with you


First Clog: "I'm sure this wasn't in the travel brochure..."

Well, we finally left Genua and our transport didn't break down for once!

Instead, we got captured by pirates. Oh, and got free eventually, or else I wouldn't be dictating this. It was just the two of us, myself and Cert... the only two remaining travellers out of our original party of nine. Hard to believe after all this time that we'll never see some of them again! - though Listeria was adamant that she'd catch us up later in the journey; she was having such a good time learning (and teaching) about exotic poisons that she decided to stay on for a few extra days. Mr Num was so horrified by the "open debauchery" in Genua that he took his bags and tracts and Books of Om and went off into the swamps to convert the locals... no great loss there, but it would be too much to hope that a bad fate befalls him, since he's exactly the sort of intense personality who'd be likely to come back as a Zombie. The thought of a 24/8 Omnian door-knocker is too horrible to contemplate!

As for the Verdants, Lothar and Tessica were so taken with the Genuan lifestyle that they immigrated on the spot and sent a Clacks arranging for their haberdashery shop to be packed up and sent down posthaste. The last I saw of young Athelred, he was chatting up the Baroness and checking for any other unattached posh women with posh fortunes, and it will come as no surprise to anyone that Rumbustia applied to join the local Seamstresses' Guild. She'll go far, that girl. Quite possibly beyond the bounds of the Seamstresses' own guidelines, to the delight of the Genuan consumers; when it comes to negotiable affection, she can negotiate with the best of Dibblers...

... so yes, just Cert and me. I'm quite getting to like him, apart from his useful wizarding skills. He's actually not as obnoxious as I thought at first when he joined us, he's got over much of his go-faster obsession (since coming to Genua, at any rate. No-one in Genua ever does anything fast. It's the weather, I think), and he isn't bad-looking at all, when he's not covered in road muck or stains from potions that didn't work out the way he hoped they would. He's kind of tall and kind of dark and has rather a nice smile and erm, delete that last line - what do you mean, you've forgotten how to delete? Wretched imp! No more rum for you.

Anyway, pirates. Captured by. Not on my To Do list for that day.

We'd had a fantastic, phantasmagorical week that ended with a two-day leaving party. On the morning we were set to sail I woke up to find myself face down on a quaint needlework sampler that read BEE IT EVYR SO HUMBL THERES NOE PLAYCE LIKE RUM, with a headache worthy of Bilious himself. Staggered to my feet, went to our inn, threw everything I could find that looked like mine into my bags (note to self: remember to post back that warming pan), found Cert (better state than me, but much the worse for wear than usual and wearing a little paper drinks umbrella stuck behind his left ear), found a Zombie porter, and made it to the docks only five minutes before the Sea Donkey set sail for Krull the long way (see route description below). Thankfully, I had an outside cabin with a porthole big enough to stick my head and shoulders through. Not that we had rough sailing, but I was already seasick before I boarded! By the time we'd made our way down through the Swamp Sea and through the Strait of Narrows, I was feeling considerably less undead and ready to come up on deck and enjoy the beauty of the Gulf of Brindisi as it blends into the gorgeous lambent purple of the Kythian Sea. N.B. no-one seems to know exactly why the Kythian Sea is purple. Some say it's because of an outpouring of Hub magic through an undersea vent; some say it's algae; and a few people have suggested that the famous Kythian dye factories haven't yet got the hang of filtering their toxic waste. All I know is that it's amazingly pretty by night.

The route we were meant to take after reaching the Kythian Sea was this: around the Orohai Peninsula, past the Bay of Mantle, provisioning at the Rehigreed port of Direr Ghee, skimming through the Ghat Islands, a stop at the Isle of Sumtri for bird-watching and then on around Cape Terror, passing the Rimmost tip of Howondaland, and finally via the Bellicose Islands to the kingdom of Krull for a spot of Rim-gazing. The route we actually took was this: captured on the Kythian Sea and taken straight to NoThingfjord to be sold as slaves. A much simpler route altogether, though I can't say much for the food or the scenery...

It was a dark and moonless night - handy for pirates, that - when we were attacked and boarded by the infamous crew of the not-so-good ship Lalip-Ap, under the command of Captain Jimbo "Aye-aye" Aie. I happened to be up in the foredeck being seasick over the rails when they came alongside; sheer terror is probably the best seasickness cure there is, and it certainly gave wings to my deck-splintered heels as I ran below, grabbed my lute case, woke Gimpy, and told him to go wake Cert and, brilliant piece of inspiration here if I do say so myself, to tell him we were about to be boarded by pirates and to for gods' sake throw his grimoires out the porthole and pose as a conjurer if he valued his life. Pirates hate wizards but they love conjurers - nothing like a spot of sleight-of-hand to entertain the crew on those long boring between-plunder voyages, and lonely sea dogs are always glad for the sight of anything in a robe... sure enough, the pirates lined up the passengers, rifled the cabins, disposed of the captain and first mate, and chose all the more able-bodied of those left as unpaid labour on their ship. By sunrise we were all in chains. I was, however, right to grab the lute. Being a Bard gets a lady out of all manner of trouble, such as unwanted attention from unwashed freebooters at sea. And oh my, what an unwashed crew they were.

The crew of the Lalip-Ap (named, I'm told, for a minor local sea-spirit - they wanted to name her after the far more fearsome Shirlit Ampol Balak, small but deadly patron Goddess of pirates and very inept seamen, but the name was too long to fit on the bowsprit) are as scurvy a lot of swabbers as I've ever seen. Some of the more colourful ones (and I mean that in stomach-churning literalness) were Molasses "Blackstrap" Williams, a rum-soaked old navigator descended from an ancient line of Morporkian treacle miners; Jacqs Perot, an expatriate Genuan now living at sea with a girl in every port and an able-bodied tar in every cabin; Har al-Flin, swash-buckling son of the desert who took up buccaneering because he's allergic to camels; Scree, an unusually small greenish-grey Troll often used as a cannonball during attacks on larger ships; Blackboard, the infamous schoolteacher turned buccaneer; and Daffy James, late - in more ways than one - of Llamedos, who obviously had more than a bit of squid in his ancestry. They were all rude, crude and lewd, and Jacqs Perot was always in a mood. Captain Aie rules them all with an iron hand - as well he would, since his real one got cut off in a swordfight. We were treated badly on the whole, but we weren't killed (a plus) and even though they chained us to the oars and whipped us to row whenever the wind dropped, Cert and I got a relative amount of freedom and extra rum rations owing to our special talents.

I have to say, Cert's handled himself very well so far. He didn't complain more than expected, he didn't try to take on the whole heavily-armed crew using only third-year spellcasting, and it turned out he actually does know quite a few feats of legerdemain including the rope trick and the one with the egg (donated by a passing seagull). I like him better all the time. I just wish he was a Sourcerer. For, like, five minutes. That'd improve the situation.

* * *

Third day out. Very tired. Have to whisper to my PDA when Blackstrap isn't looking. Clever Gimpy, disguising himself as a dropped oyster and rolling under bulkheads when any pirates get near.

* * *

Fifth day out. Bloody freezing gale. At least we don't have to row.

* * *

Seventh day out. Asked Cert in whispered conversation what he thinks of our chances for escaping. He says good, but not time yet. Says he'll let me know when it's time yet. Wish it was time yet.

* * *

Ninth day out. Change of circumstances. Double rum ration for entertaining Captain Aie with sea shanties I made up! He's easily entertained. Put me down for only half-shifts on the oars. Hope we get another gale.

* * *

Tenth day out. Sunburnt. Must be getting close now, I can see the snowcaps of the Rammerock Mountains on landward side. And longboats on the horizon. Not sure if this is good or bad. Cert says not time yet.

* * *

Nighttime, tenth day. Moon half waned. Seems like forever since Fat Tuesday. Need more rum. Cert getting stir-crazy, says if he never has to do the spoon trick again it'll be too soon. Jacqs Perot eyeing him up more every day. Must be the robes.

Gimpy can remember music and sing it back exactly as he hears it; time I put some of this post in the medium of song. Very quietly.

    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    A wizard with you...

    Travellin' round the Disc with a barmy wizard
    Run-down and sore from that bargain seat
    Now it's a slow doom and everything's dismal
    Wish I was asleep on Lancre sheets

    Things are looking
    Waves of Rim foam wash over me
    Cohen seized the
    Agatean Empire
    Wish he'd conquered this damned sea

    There's a big boat full of pirates
    Going faster since they captured me
    Do I lie like a chained-up hostage
    Or take my chance on the Kythian Sea?

    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    A wizard with you...

    Things are cracking
    In my sacrum
    Chains as fashion do naught for me
    Truly seasick
    Thirstin' like a vampire
    Could I kill for a shower? - Aye!

    There's a small bloke with an eye-patch
    Going "Nurr, nurr" when he looks at me
    Do I lie back and think of Morpork
    Or stab him right in the hard-a-lee?

    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard with you
    Everywhere you go, should always take a wizard
    A wizard with you...

Post. Endeth. Tired.

* * *

Second Clog: "Carnival knowledge? Make mine a double!"

As promised: since everyone else aboard is drunk (which is to say our captors are passed out to a man and Troll) and Gimpy says he has plenty of memory left before he has to do a dump (I told him that fell under the category of too much information, but he assures me it has something to do with thaumotechnology and nothing to do with Impish bodily functions), more now about my stay in Genua. I told you that New Genua is now the "party city that never stops"; as it turned out, there was an almost unbelievable choice of places to party in, at, around, and under. I've never seen so much rum in my life. Or so many music venues! Apart from Puttin' on the Grits and the House of Booze (see previous Clog), there are more amazing and bawdy and downright debauched pubs and clubs and shebeens here than you can shake a Zombie's Leg at, so I'll just list a few of my favourites...at least the ones I can remember through the pounding red haze of various hangovers: Going to a-Gogol, where I met my first genuine Genuan Zombie barmen; Thank Gods It's Saturday's, also known as T.G.I.S., which is owned by the Baroness herself -- she's a regular there and has even been known to have a go at the piano bar; the Genuan Article, head-quarters of the Campaign for Real Scumble; the Dead Duc, where everything's green, especially the beer; and the city's premier tourist attraction (apart from the Castle and the restaurants and the swamps and the Museum of Lady Lilith's Smiling Horrors), the notorious Show Boat. Or to give it its correct name, the Show!Boat!

The Show!Boat! is exactly what it sounds like -- an old retired paddlewheel steamboat that's been drydocked, hauled ashore, and permanently stationed near the riverbank -- but inside, things aren't exactly what they seem to be. Or they're exactly what they don't seem to be, if you take my meaning. The Show!Boat! has entertainment every night of the week, or in the words of its copiously exclamation-marked billboards:


The week we were there, their EXOTIC!!! GUEST!!! PERFORMERS!!! were Lavender Beer, all-singing, all-dancing troupe from the Continent of EcksEcksEcksEcks. I have to say they were exotic. Three of them -- Letitia, Darleen and Noelene -- and their manager, a nice young lady called Neilette who invited me back to their cart for drinkies when she heard I was a Bard, and oh yes their pet sheep. Answers to the name of Rinso, the real Rinso being some kind of Ecksian hero or criminal (I get the impression they're the same thing there). They'd been booked to lead the Fat Tuesday Parade, since they have so much experience leading parades back home. I have to say their singing is dreadful but they have the best costumes I've ever seen, the sort you'd expect at the Opera House in A-M. At one point Letitia was dressed as Madame Cupidor, the mistress of Mad King Soup II -- and complete with the wig with the replica linguini shop and water clock in it, and six-inch heels, she topped seven feet. I asked Neilette (good voice by the way, but won't sing with the troupe for some reason) if they'd be willing to gig in Lancre, but she said she didn't think Lancre was ready for their unique approach to woman-hood, song and beard stubble. Hah! She should see the beards on some of the old birds at the Witch Trials, and those old ladies are old ladies who came into the world as young ladies!

All in all, an unforgettable time. Like I wish this one was!

Over and out.

* * *

Third clog: "Pining on the fjords"

We dropped anchor in NoThingfjord harbour this morning. Blackstrap says the slave auction will be held on the docks at noon tomorrow. He also said "Nurr, nurr" a lot. I'll be glad to see the back of him. I'd be gladder to see the back of him if I had a sword I could stick right through to the front of him!

* * *

NoThingfjordsbergen is very wooden and very hairy. Great strapping hairy wooden-faced men and great strapping hairy wooden-faced women and great strapping hairy-roofed wooden longhouses. I can't imagine why they'd want female slaves when every woman I've seen looks well capable of carrying a full-grown heifer under each arm. Maybe I'll get lucky and get bought by someone with a goat farm. I like goats. I even like milking them, though I can't say I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing nothing else but milking and mucking out, I mean, I've had books published, I'm famous in Lancre and Uberwald and and Genua and arrgh arrgh arrgh PANIC!!! is it time yet?

* * *

Rum for all last night! I know it's the same sort of thing as a condemned prisoner's last meal, but who cares? Rum! Got stinking drunk.

Blackstrap just threw a bucket of water over me and told me to "pretty yourself up, nurr, nurr," and laughed when I asked if there was any soap. Good thing Gimpy was out of range. I'd be lost without him passing messages between me and Cert. Wonderful imp.

* * *

They decided to keep Cert as Ship's entertainer. Gimpy just told me. This is hopeful, I think. At least he won't be up there on the auction block with me!

* * *


And this is how it happened -- when we slaves-to-be were standing on the little stage they use for auctions, I heard whispers from underneath the boards:

"Pssst." "No, hung over." "Seriously, psssst!" "Yerss, I was seriously pissed last night. -- oh, it's you!" "It's time yet. Hold out your wrists. And close your eyes, there may be some bright lights..."

I was already seeing more bright lights than I wanted to, but I did as told and there was a sort of quiet sizzle and a funny tingle around my wrists and suddenly my manacles turned into a pair of little snakes, non-venomous little snakes, praise Io, and slithered away. As did I. Not so much slithered as dropped like a stone, rolled off the back of the boards and hit the ground running. All three of us, running for our lives and freedom. And I'll cut this short by just saying that we got very lost on the docks, but it didn't matter because we ducked into a warehouse that was full of silks and hides and a rolled-up carpet in one corner and Cert yelled aloud because it looked like one of those carpets, you know, and it was! We unrolled it and there was a stamp on the underside that read PROPERTY OF EAT CARPET AIRWAYS, AL KHALI, KLATCH, and Cert said "Quick, I know how to drive these things," and we grabbed a pile of silk cloth and some hides for keeping warm with and Gimpy got some string and hopped up and tied it to the door-latch and then Cert and I got on the carpet and he said some wizardy words and we rose up smooth as glass and Gimpy pulled on the string and hopped on with us and then we flew through the entrance and we were free free FREE! There was a lot of shouting and pointing from the NoThingfjorders and the pirates and Captain Aie waved his iron hand at us and a few of the quicker ones fired crossbows but we were rising fast. One crossbow bolt did go through the middle of the carpet, but Cert said that was no problem because magic wasn't about aerodynamics, and off we went, over the hills and away! The only thing that would have been even better was if we'd had some rum.

Time to cut the trip short and go home, or at least back to someplace civilised. Food! Hot baths! A change of clothes!

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Fourth Clog: "What do you mean, 'it's on autopilot'?"

Apparently, we have to fly two-thirds of the way across the Disc before this damned carpet will let itself be landed. Arrgh!

My guidebook said the Hublights are especially lovely at this time of year. That's good news, since we'll unavoidably be passing right through them. The other good news is that what with Cori Celesti being a no-fly zone for non-divines, the carpet at least won't strand us in the middle of the Hall of Io. The third good news is that this carpet is fast. Cert says it will only take us a few days to get to Al-Khali where the Eat Carpet home stable is. Now if only we'd thought to bring food and water...

* * *

Well, the Hublights were especially lovely after all. And the flight is wonderfully quiet. And our week and more of travail and tribulations aboard the good ship Lalip-Ap have given Cert a lean and hungry look that rather suits him. And we're getting to know each other better all the time. And...oh. So that's why wizards aren't allowed to have families. "You mean you can't...?" "Afraid not. And certainly not while we're 1,500 feet up above what look like very solid mountains. But if I, you know, could, um, I'm not saying I wouldn't..."

* * *

I'm at one end of the carpet and Cert is at the other. I can see this is going to be a long flight.

-- Alice.

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Weather With You can
be found at: http://www.etext.org/lists/house/woodface/weather-with-you.html

No comments: