User:JohnB/The Book and the stone 10

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The New Found Land, and then Home[edit]

LO-map-Tamriel (Oblivion Codex Compilation).jpge

Coasting along the north of New Found Land, as they came to call it, was actually a lot more congenial than heading back into the open sea. They could drop anchor whenever they wanted to re-provision the ships. There were natives who came and greeted them, but they were of uncertain ethnicity. When asked who they were, they answered proudly, "Jsmei Czesky!" Thus the very first Slavic people were discovered on Nirn! However, their remote location helped them live independently from Nord domination and stay out of religious controversies. The captain promised to return to this clever and warm people when the opportunity arose, and the first treaty of friendship was concluded between them that would be submitted to the Imperial administration for ratification.

The Hero of the Cymri![edit]

After a few more days, Arowhena stood at the gunwale carefully surveying the landscape for recognizable landmarks. When she spotted a certain cliffy hill, she begged the captain to drop the anchor and prepare a longboat to take them ashore. When asked why she merely bade him follow her instructions and also have the entire crew ferried to land as they were all highly welcome.

When they arrived on the beach, Arowhena begged leave to do something but wouldn't say what as she vanished along a path into the woods. Hours went by and nothing happened. The entire crew was now ranged along the beach waiting for something to happen.

Then it happened.

A loud drone of sound wafted over the trees as an ear-piercing but lilting melody accompanied.

"Banshees?!" Vaezbrub muttered to the captain.

Suddenly players of the "pibau-cyrn" (bagpipes) came marching two abreast out of the woods, parted, and made a pincer formation in a large circle around the captain, Vaezbrub, and the first mate. They continued playing as the Cymri chieftain and Arowhena stepped out of the woods and entered the circle.

Arowhena, dressed in her native attire embroidered all over with Celtic flourishes, approached the captain.

"What's going on here?!" he inquired looking around at the almost deafening pipers and at her mode of attire.

"Patience. Just do as I tell you. First, you will be made blood-brother to us, and second, you will be proclaimed Hero of the Cymri. Whatever you do, don't resist or show any fear."

The chieftain approached the captain and drew his dagger. The captain looked startled, but he followed Arowhena's instructions. The chieftain bared his own forearm and made a shallow cut. Then he rolled up the captain's sleeve and did the same. He waited until there was sufficient blood on their arms then pressed his cut against the captain's, and a sash was tied tightly around their arms. Arowhena interpreted for the captain as the chieftain proclaimed them one people.

As a matter of fact, the Cymri are cousins of the Bretons, but don't call them Welsh. "Waelsc" in Anglo-Saxon meant "Outlander", and you don't want to call them that in their own country.

Arowhena interpreted as the chieftain extolled the heroism of this rescuer of a daughter of the Cymri and bade one and all to join him in expressing their gratitude.

Then a sturdy shield was placed on some stones, and Arowhena explained to him that he was to be raised at arm's length above the heads of four mighty warriors. Whatever he did, he had to avoid losing his balance and falling, as that would greatly reduce their regard for him.

The captain carefully stepped onto the shield and checked his footing to ensure his stance was well-balanced.

"Brace yourself!" Arowhena called to him.

He was suddenly pushed skyward above the crowd, and he felt butterflies in his stomach.

"All hail Maurice Delamer," the chieftain proclaimed in a loud voice, "rescuer of Arowhena and the Hero of the Cymri!"

"Hail Maurice Delamer, the rescuer of Arowhena and the Hero of the Cymri!" came the response.

There was an outburst of applause, and the warriors gingerly lowered the shield to keep the captain from losing his balance.

The retinue followed the bagpipers back to the stone fortress of the Cymri, and the captain and Arowhena were feted by all. Skirling bagpipes accompanied as warriors did the dagger dance, having thrown daggers into the wooden floor and with bare feet dancing intricate steps among the daggers without getting a toe sliced off in the process. Many barrels of mead were consumed, and there was a great conviviality among the Cymri and the crew even when they weren't certain of what the other was saying. Vaezbrub did his best to interpret, but he couldn't be everywhere at the same time.

Finally, the chieftain, with the captain and Arowhena to either side of him, bade the two to stand up with him. Then he placed a gold ring on one finger and then on the finger of the other. The hall burst out in raucous applause.

Later, the captain asked her what had just happened. She told him they were now man and wife.

"Uh, who made this decision?" he inquired trying not to show he suspected some sort of skullduggery here.

"Why, you did!"

"What?! We never discussed this!"

"While you were waiting on the beach, I told our chieftain all that happened between us, and you had two counts in your favor, so he ratified your decision. First, you saved me from drowning, so I owe you my life. Second, you shared your bed with me, which among us is the ultimate test of commitment between two people. Among us, actions speak louder than words."

"I thought what we did that night was just...uh...good fun."

"What kind of idiot-talk is that?!" she responded sharply. "Where would I be now if you hadn't arrived at my direst hour of need?! And if you didn't do it for me, then who did you do it for?! Love at the summit of a jungle pyramid is exquisite beyond belief...and now I'm supposed to believe what we did that night was a mere romp between the sheets?!"

His entire face reddened, and she smiled at his hang-dog look.

"You've never had a woman before, have you?" she said playfully.

"I have, here and there, but nobody I'd want to spend the rest of my life with. You have to understand that a sea captain's responsibility is to his crew. Without domestic obligations, life at sea is a lot less complicated."

“And should you die at sea nobody will miss you.”

There was a silence.

“Which is also true,” he finally admitted.

"That first kiss: that was heaven-sent to someone in as dire straights as I was in. That was the soft touch. Your suggestion that our love was just having 'fun' is the body-slam. What I like about you is that you say what you mean and mean what you say, even if it's not always the right thing. But what you need is a sense of proportion, more soft touch and less body-slam, don't you think?”

He nodded in agreement.

"Come on," she said taking his hand in hers, "let's join the festivities."

However, a hush had come over the assembly as one man was declaiming in a loud voice.

"What's going on?" the captain asked Vaezbrub.

"This fellow claims he was wronged when Arowhena's hand was given to you."

"Wronged? How?"

"He says he had a claim on her long before you came along."

"Oh, yeah?" the captain chuckled. "And who was he shacking up with while she was languishing for ten years in the Land of the Machines?"

"He doesn't say, but he is pleading for trial by combat to decide the issue."

The captain liked a good fight.

"Well, don't just stand there--let's go kick some butt!"

The chieftain was trying to talk sense into the young man as the captain approached rolling up his sleeves.

"Let's have a go!" he demanded.

"Choose your weapon," the bailiff told the captain.

"These!" the captain responded holding up two gnarled fists from years of hauling on the bowline.

The young man had chosen a claymore, which he was unpracticed in the use of, thinking it would hold the captain at a safe distance from him. The captain could see this from the way he held it at the ready. Claymores may be long but also rather heavy, and he couldn't hold hit steady.

"Ready, go!"

The young man made as if to slice the captain from head to heels, but the captain hopped aside and dealt a hammerlike uppercut to his chin. The claymore clanged against the floor, and the young man lay sprawled on top of it.

"Does anyone else," the captain cried strutting his stuff, "challenge my marriage to Arowhena?! Let him step forward!"

The challenge was interpreted to the crowd, but if there were any others who hankered after the beautiful Arowhena, they kept discreetly quiet.

This fight was the catalyst in his decision to honor his commitment to her after all. He would never come to regret it.

The second treaty of friendship was concluded with the Cymri, and the captain promised to return to them and partake in their musical evenings. The treaty of friendship would be submitted to the Imperial administration for ratification.

Encountering the Land of Nippon[edit]

The two ships continued to the east coast of New Found Land and happened onto the land of Nippon, the children of Amaterasu. Their land faced east so that the sun blossomed out of the ocean, thus the name Nippon, the root of the sun. These people were very clever and refined. They wore kimonos and swaggered about with katana and wakizashi strapped to their bodies with tightly bound sashes. They invited the crew to a welcoming banquet. The Nippon people loved music and dance and performed very well for the newcomers. The sake flowed relentlessly, and the guests drank relentlessly. A Nippon banquet knows no overweening etiquette.

At one point during the festivity, the captain turned to Vaezbrub and asked, "Should I show them this?" He showed Vaezbrub the hilt of the Amaterasu katana.

"It's your call, sir," Vaezbrub responded uncertainly.

The captain pulled out the sheathed katana to show them.


They immediately knew what it was.

They took the katakana from him and passed it around, each attendant unsheathing and sheathing it to hand on to the next attendant. The captain panicked thinking the sword would disappear into the assembly.

"Calm down, sir," Vaezbrub told him. "You'll get it back. Like anywhere else, there are thieves in Nippon, but these are an honest people."

"Where did you get this?!" was the first question asked.

The captain had Vaezbrub interpret how they took it from the pyramid of Amaterasu. The assembly listened attentively.

There was a long silence as everyone there considered what this might mean. The katana was handed back to the captain.

"May I keep this?" he asked. "If it should go to anybody, it should be returned to you, but I would hate to part with it."

"You are the favored one of Amaterasu," came the answer, "keep it with our blessing, and use it to cleave your enemy from pate to pelvis."

The captain invited the adventurous among the assembly to join in their return to Tamriel, which was somewhere beyond the horizon, and a good number of them signed on.

A third treaty of friendship was concluded with Nippon.

Land ho![edit]

Another few weeks passed, and the stores they'd taken on in New Found Land were starting to turn. Asantus could feel a flare-up of scurvy, and IXOHOXI did her best with the little means she had to keep him in good health. By the captain's calculations, they should have reached Tamriel by now.

It was in the week after that when seabirds were seen gliding around the ship. The following day, driftwood was spotted in the water.

"Still no?!" the captain called impatiently to the lookout.

"Still no! Oh, wait!" he put the spyglass to his eye then called out again, "LAND-HO!"

The crew ran to the gunwales and craned their necks to see. It was most reassuring to them that they were now back in Tamriel safe and sound.

However, the guards in the Daggerfall watchtower saw things differently. A rather large vessel was spotted approaching from the west. Nothing ever came from that direction, so this was most disconcerting. A runner was sent to the coast guard in Wayrest to announce that a USO (Unidentified Sailing Objects) was approaching from the west. There was very little the coast guard could do because they were that in name only. The Pax Cyrodiilica after King Ranser's War rendered all watchfulness unnecessary. Great was the astonishment of the port authority and coast guard as the 100-ton ocean-going galleon towering over the coastal ships entered Iliac Bay. It wasn't a deep-water harbor, being at the mouth of the Bjoulsae River, so the galleon couldn't get close enough to dock. The port authority watched in trepidation as a longboat carrying the captain and Vaezbrub was rowed to port.

"Greetings, Outlanders, from whence do you come?" the port master greeted stiffly.

"Actually, we are not outlanders," the captain responded. "We come from Cyrodiil."

"Sir, it is a breach of protocol to jest with the port master. Cyrodiil is way to the east of us!"

"Sir, we have circumnavigated Nirn, and some of my crew are sick and all of them are tired and hungry."

"Sir, then I recommend that you take your sense of humor back to Cyrodiil and see if they will laugh."

"Sir, that I will. But now I will really jest--there I will spread the word that there is no 'rest' in Wayrest, for which it should be renamed simply 'Way'. But be certain of this: there are fifty battle-hardened crossbowmen on board. All we have to do is step aside and give the signal, and they will turn you and your flea-bitten militia into so many pincushions."

The port master eyed the ship nervously. He could see there were men on board, but it was impossible to tell if the captain was bluffing.

"You wouldn't dare assault an imperial officer!"

"Well, dead men tell no lies, but we can say we did it in self-defense as you are putting my men's lives in grave danger. I know enough about provincial officers to say they were banished for malfeasance and are expendable. His Excellency will simply replace you with another malefactor."

The port master remained unmoved, so the captain and his men stepped aside. The captain made as if to raise his hand.

"Oh, all right!" the port master responded crankily and ordered the coast guard to stand down.

This called for a celebration in the town, but the question was how to include Vaezbrub. The reeking gutters notwithstanding, a leisurely promenade along the thoroughfare was out of the question. There were some members of the crew who objected to including him at all.

Given the objections, the captain took Vaezbrub to a secluded area just outside North Gate and said he would return with his refreshments. Having procured a platter of victuals and a tankard of mead at the Cloudy Dregs Inn, the captain returned to the secluded area, but Vaezbrub was nowhere to be seen.

“Vaezbrub!” the captain called out. There was no response. “Vaezbrub?”

This was most disconcerting. The captain returned to the ale-house with the platter and tankard and all eyes fell on the undelivered refreshments. There was a blank expression on the captain's face.

“Sir, what happened?” the new first mate asked concerned.

“I don't know. He's gone.”

“Absconded!" a number of crew members murmured to each other.

“He wouldn't...," the captain muttered furtively, "Would he?

"Is there any room for doubt?" the first mate asked pointedly.

"Well, as a matter of fact, Vaezbrub and I did have a falling out. He helped me decipher Prester John’s riddle, for which I wanted to return the way we’d come in order to claim the globe as my reward. However, Vaezbrub wanted to return to the crew as soon as possible. I thought that should be none of his concern and told him to forgo the soothsaying from now on. Yet he carried on as if nothing had happened, and I forgot all about it. His loyalty was without parallel, so why would he go and do this now?"

"Sir, pardon my boldness, but speaking on behalf of my predecessor, he always valued Master Vaezbrub's judgement over yours. Consider: you nearly got yourself killed, then you nearly got us killed—as if your killing the rogue crew wasn’t enough; you disapproved of our taking women, and then you turned around and did it yourself. Is it any wonder my predecessor was talking of absconding the whole while?"

The captain's face hardened.

"Why had nobody told me about this?"

"Where were they going to abscond to?! Besides, nobody expected them to make off with your flagship. And if we had told you, would you have listened?"

There was a look of sudden self-realization in the captain's face, and he turned and trudged up the stairs to his room. The door slammed behind him.

"The truth hurts, don't it?" the first mate observed, and the others nodded in agreement.

"However, I'd advise you not to provoke the captain the way your predecessor did and kept the ship in a constant state of turmoil," one mate advised. "You know that a ship is not an elected parliament, and that anything you do or say can be held against you."

"Oh, bosh!" the first mate responded. "Listen, I didn't ask for this job—the captain dropped it on me out of sheer whim, or maybe out of sheer spite. I'm still with you fellows, and if I don't say things to his face, who will? I like Delamer—or Captain Delamer if you will—but you don't know what makes a person tick until you become his assistant."

Taking on Refugees[edit]

The captain decided to make a port of call of many-spired Firsthold in the Summerset Isles because the ship still had a long way to go before reaching Cyrodiil. He also wanted to avoid war-torn Valenwood at all costs. Having spent the night on land, the captain and crew were preparing to cast off when they heard a shout, "Help! HELP!"

Two men came running up the gangplank, and some of the crew wanted to drive them away. The captain ordered them to allow the men aboard to see if they had good reason to seek refuge. As they came on deck, one suddenly fell and lay delirious. He began speaking, but it sounded like total gibberish.

"I'm a fellow bastard-lunatic, so I can understand him!" the second man said.

"Why can't I understand him?" the captain asked puzzled.

"You're not a bastard-lunatic."

"Oh," the captain responded almost disappointed. "But what happened back there?"

"The mages have been rounding up all of us bastard-lunatics and throwing us in a dungeon called the Tower of Nightmares. This fellow was presumed dead. I was appointed his gravedigger and stood at the ready to bury him after some guards dumped him into the grave. Suddenly up he jumps scaring the everloving shite out of those guards, but I being a bastard-lunatic wasn't the least bit surprised. I decided now was the time for him and me to make a run for it."

A contingent of battlemages soon arrived and ordered the captain to return the escaped prisoners. The captain responded by ordering the crossbowmen to take aim.

"These men have taken haven with me! They are under my protection!"

"Then this ship will not sail!" one of the mages shouted back.

"Then embrace your demise!"

The battlemages promptly backed off and hurried back to the tower.

"What's he saying?" the first mate asked the second man, who was listening to the gibberish.

"He had found a way to tunnel into the cell next door where a prisoner was dying. Then he lay in wait until the prisoner was pronounced dead by the healer. He quickly scrambled into the cell, dragged the body to his own cell, and having changed clothes, lay on the dead man's bunk. The guards came with a stretcher to convey him to the graveyard."

(Note: I borrowed this from The Count of Monte Cristo).

"Who is he?" the captain inquired.

"He goes by the name Edgar, and he strongly requests that you take him to Bal Tymmer."

"Bal Tymmer--where's that?"

The first mate shrugged in response.

"And who might you be?" the captain asked, marveling at the strangeness of all of this.

"Reynolds is the name, sir."

"Reynolds, could you help the first mate and me move Edgar to a bunk below?"

"Actually, he's not going anywhere,” Reynolds put in. “He seems to be waking up from his nightmare now."

"You mean he's dreaming all of this, ourselves included," the captain said doubtfully.


Edgar said one last word and then vanished entirely.

"What did he say?"


There was a protracted silence.

"You know, it makes me wonder," the captain finally said to nobody in particular, "whether we are dreaming everything we experience, and if so, what happens when we wake up."

"Maybe we all end up in Bal Tymmer," the first mate chuckled, and the captain gave him a sharp look.

"Well, consider what happened to Vaezbrub. Vaezbrub was my bastard-lunatic soothsayer," he added turning to Reynolds. "Poof--vanished without a trace!"

"I can assure you, gentlemen, that we bastard-lunatics are just as biodegradable as you are."

(...In the four days between Walker finding [Edgar Allan] Poe outside the public house [in Baltimore] and Poe’s death on October 7, he never regained enough consciousness to explain how he had come to be found, in soiled clothes not his own, incoherent on the streets. Instead, Poe spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. [A waking dream in the Tower of Nightmares?] The night before his death, according to his attending physician Dr. John J. Moran, Poe repeatedly called out for “Reynolds”— a figure who, to this day, remains a mystery. [smithsonianmag{dot}com{slash}history{slash}still-mysterious-death-edgar-allan-poe-180952936{slash}])

The Sea Battle[edit]

The ship made its way southward along the channel that separates the Isles of Summerset, and it was back in the open sea heading east toward Elsweyr, located at the mouth of the Niben River. The captain and crew were in good spirits knowing that home was so near. They were a good distance to the south of Southpoint in Valenwood, which they deliberately made a detour around hoping nobody there would notice their passage.

The alarm sounded--they'd been spotted--and a number of longboats and skiffs came swarming towards the galleon, assuming that it was an Altmeri ship. Imagine a swarm of toy poodles going after a mastiff hound, and you can imagine who was going to come out of the ensuing fight in good shape.

The Bosmeri take pride in their own marksmanship, which gives them an inordinate amount of derring-do in picking their fights. But their burning arrows did little to damage the thick planks in the hull if they didn't bounce off the hardwood. And if one managed to hit a sail, it was easily plucked out or doused with a bucket of sea water. Crossbow bolts were by far more accurate and deadly The hundred crossbowmen picked off the enemy one after another in a seemingly endless game of whack-a-mole.

The captain had wanted to avoid this because, in the end, he would have to annihilate them all. He decided it more humane to let one of the crossbowmen use an explosive-tipped bolt to show what they were capable of doing when pressed hard enough, but he said to aim at a small boat to minimize the number of casualties. When the boat suddenly disintegrated in a small mushroom cloud, the Bosmeri panicked, turned tail, and hastened back to port.