Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Tales from Grandpa - Chapter 4 (Out of the Belly of the Eel)
--[sweet voices] Grandpa, oh grandpa
When I awoke after being vomited from that damn eel I found myself lying on a shale beach. Pretty much immediately I realized that I wasn't in Prax anymore. I felt like a whole temple of Storm Bullers had beaten me with sticks over every inch of my body and then beaten me all over again from head to toe. I stank and I realized that if I noticed the smell then the reek must be reaching Waha's nostrils up in paradise. I slowly and painfully sat up and looked around. I was stark naked and none too pleased about that. About a llama's length away was Hallelujah Harnsdottir garbed like Ernalda made her. The others I hung around with where a little farther along the beach. Hallelujah still looked unconscious so I crawled over and carefully poked her. Big mistake. She lashed out like a snake and grabbed me by the windpipe. She had me half-way choked to death before she realized who I was. If I remember correctly our conversation went as follows.
"What by Asrelia's teats do you think you're doing you stinking
sheep riding moron?"
She was pretty disgusted when she realised it was her that smelled so bad. She wasn't going to go anywhere near the water though so we walked away from the beach towards some nearby trees. By this time the others were all conscious as well. None of us had any gear, clothes or weapons. Did I mention that the beach was on some big body of water? We could see trees like the kind that grow near Dragon's Pass and mountains off in the distance. It was raining and cold and we couldn't see the sun. When we reached the trees Hallelujah dug up some handfuls of soil and rubbed most of the gunk off herself. From the smell most of it must have been fish guts. Hallelujah glared at me when she noticed I was watching (and I do mean watching) and told me to turn my back or she'd, "rip out my intestines and slowly strangle me with them." As I stood there thinking about plunging into cold water I asked her what she thought had happened to the others. "How the hell should I know?" she said. "Maybe they're further along up the beach." After she finished cleaning herself up she glared at me and asked in what she...
---No wait a minute that's not what happened at all. (Now why would I tell the story that way? Must be wishful thinkin' on account of my wanting to get that close to Lou. Wonder why I want her to beat me up?) What actually happened was this...
While we wuz lying unconscious a crow decided to eat Greystone's eyeball. It gave him a good peck but missed taking the eye out 'cause some kid slung a rock at it. Greystone slowly stands up and spots the kid standing off in the bushes. He notices he's naked and has no gear and decides to wake the rest of us. He carefully prods Hallelujah in the foot and she wakes up. She groans and notices that she's as naked as a druken shaman and takes off for the bushes. Kid thinks he's gonna be the target of her haste and he puts some distance between hisself and Lou. Greystone wakes the rest of us and we take inventory of our gear. Diddly squat. I used a sharp rock to offer some blood to Waha. I figured I owed him a hell of a lot more than that but that was the best I could do under the circumstances.
Someone, Durnfal I think, starts to head for the water to wash up but the kid rushes forward and makes these gestures that gives us the idea this ain't such a good idea. We moves away from the water. It was a shale beach on a big body of water. Hilly terrain with fair sized trees all around. It's cloudy, cool and raining. Lou is trying to fashion something to protect her modesty but fails miserable since the trees are just starting to sprout leaves.We do the best we can to clean up and expect the rain to help.
After some discussion we decides to follow this kid home since we didn't have any idea where the hell we were or any equipment. The kid doesn't seem to make any effort to lose us so we follow him along this game trail real easy. As we're walking along we notice that our bellies are fish white. (We especially notice this about Lou). Someone notices that Durnfal has all these red highlights in his skin and hair and if you look real deep into his eyes you can see red spots. Bizarre. In my case I notice that walking with bare feet doesn't hurt at all. I even try and poke sharp sticks into my palm and have a hell of a time doin' it. Doubly bizarre. We also notice that everyone has a water rune on the palm of their hands. In most of our cases an additional rune but in Lou and Svart's case just the one.
We followed along behind the kid and everybody but me has trouble walking in bare feet (ha ha). As we follow along we spots some guys following us. Since we doesn't have any weapons we decides to ignore them. After a while we starts to sees these stakes with dead crows dangling from 'em. Couldn't figure out what they was for so we's ignored 'em. Soon after we saw these posts we comes into a big clearing ringed by these stakes. In the centre of the clearing are a bunch of skin tents and other side of the clearing is a bunch of nervous looking guys wearing skins holding javelins with stone points on these little sticks.
The kid keeps on marching across the clearing and part way across this old geezer shaking this staff with feathers and baubles dangling from it walks over and whallops the kid upside the head. The kid buggers off across the clearing and disappears into some bushes. This other burke wearing buckskins comes up and starts yammering at us in New Pelorian like we wuz Lunars or something. Greystone starts talking to him when this uproar starts on the other side of the clearing. This young, flaky lookin' babe wafts over followed by a whole bunch of other women who are trailed by a bunch of brats. The stick holders rush forward as well and everyone braces themselves for a fight.
This babe points her finger at Lou and spouts the following gibberish:
There she stands, the naked one
(We's gets this translated for us later by the guy who speaks New Pelorian as well as Trade Talk). After spouting this rubbish the flaky babe collapses and a whole bunch of matriarchal looking types runs over and fusses over her. After they makes her comfortable a bunch of them runs over to Lou grabs her arm and drags her off. A big argument breaks out among the peoples in charge (turns out the guy in buckskins is one of the blokes in charge) and we quickly figures out its over what they's gonna do with us. Most of them seem to want to let us live except this loud mouthed thug who seems to take a personal dislike to us. The argument ends abruptly with loud mouth stomping off in a fit of pique. (We learn later that the thug's name is Catches-Eagles-with-his-Bare-Hands). Then someone takes us over to a fire where they feed us some slop, (damn good tasting slop though!) and outfit us with loincloths.
The guy in buckskins (whose name turns out to be Tadpole) follows along with us and tells us we's in the land of the Crow Eaters and after playing Twenty Questions we figures out we's north of Dragon Pass and east of the Lunars. The big lake to the south is called the Elf Sea. Guy's never heard of Prax or Sartar and he tells us that Yemalio's a prohibited god amongst his folks. Go figure, guess no ones all bad. That night we bunked down around this campfire and I for one was damn glad for the chance of a rest.
The next day we sees Lou again and we can tell she's none too happy about being the mother of the messiah. (Though she did get to sleep inside a tent and she's wearing more clothes than the rest of us put together). Seems like these folk wants to keep her close until their messiah's born. After talking about it for a while we decides (with a sickening feeling mind you) that this prophesized "dog boy" is probably none other than our old bud Dorian Tavish, aka Crispy Critters, aka Ratsbane, aka (it seems) Dog Boy. Sigh. Some folks have all the dumbass luck.
The next day we discover where they got the clothes to fit Lou as most of their folks are runty little buggers. That day a hunting party comes back and with them is this babe who is a tall as Lou and even better looking. She had this gorgeous head of red hair and white skin and we learn her name's Burning Willow. We quickly discover that she's in Catches-Chickens err Eagles bad books too so we make chums with her.
Well these Crow Eaters didn't treat us none too shabbily but we quickly learned from Tadpole that they have so many restrictions and taboos on whats they can and can't do that they have to ask their elders the proper way to take a dump depending on what day of the year it is. What a bunch. We quickly learned what we could do for them which is diddly squat since everything we were good at or like was against their laws. Tadpole tells us that his folk fear and hate outlanders because of our foreign, contaminating ways. Despite this Gerhardt tried for the longest time to make some stuff to trade them for weapons (not that they used anything bigger than javelins and knives, mind you), unfortunately his ambitions exceeded his abilities somewhat. But finally he comes up with this technique to make join two poles together to make longer tent poles that the elders don't immediately pooh pooh. This makes 'em happy.
Like I said everybody there didn't use anything other than stone javelins, axes and knives as tools (they refused to consider any of them weapons) except that that bugger Tadpole is always whittling somethin' with this bronze dagger. Durnfal asks him where he got it from and he says, "Off of an outlander." Then Durnfal asks him, "Is the outlander still alive." and all he gets for a reply is a smile. Creepy guy that Tadpole.
So there we was bored out of our minds, Svart snaps and sits around all day, rain or shine meditating and praying to Humakt. Poor dumb, bastard. You'd have to be half crazy to start with to worship Humakt if you ask me. Gerhardt spent all his time trying to make stuff (and failing) until he comes up with his two part pole schtick. Lou's spending all her time learning the local plant lore from one of the old ladies and the rest of us is bored, bored, bored.
Then our buddy, Catches-Eagles asks us whether we wants to go on an egg collecting trip with him and some of his buddies. Well, we was so bored by that point that we said yes. (Without asking what kind of eggs we was goin' to gather). Everyone decides to go except Svart who's too depressed to move. (Poor, dumb bastard). Burning Willow and Tadpole decide to tag along (which gets them a glare from Catches-Eagles). Catches-Eagles and his buds are kind enough to lend us each a javelin which except for Greystone and me none of us can use. (Two of the guys hand us their javelins since they was useless to them). So off we troops back to the beach were we woke up and head off down the beach a ways. We stops in this spot where there's some sands which is all disturbed. I asks, "What kind of birds are these anyway?" "Who said anything about birds was the reply." Catches-Eagles tells us to start digging and we do. Well, Greystone and I had just uncovered this whopping big egg the size of my torso when we notices out of the corner of our eyes that Catches-Eagles and his buddies are pulling back up the beach away from the water.
We looks toward the water and just as we do there's this big splash of water and we see two of the same snaky-necked water dragons that we had fought inside the eel. Boy were they pissed we was messing with their eggs. Eveyone but me pulls back. I shout out my "Waha!" and let my javelin fly. What a shot! Waha certainly guided my shot because it took one of them damn critters out of the fight right away. Unfortunately that still left one mighty pissed off critter. Greystone threw his javelin but it barely scratched the thing. Burning Willow missed altogether and nobody else with a javelin even bothered to huck one. Bastards. The thing lunged at me and I managed to dodge out of the way. Tadpole unwraps this bundle he'd been carrying and rushes forward swinging this short sword. (So much for swords being forbidden!) He wades in and slashes at the critter and does squat to it. Another couple of javelins bounce offa its hide. I tried to dodge another bite but the damn thing crippled my leg. Then Greystone and Burning Willow both manage to stick it to the critter with their next javelins. Burning Willow's javelin takes the damn thing out and I was saved.
When they saw this Catches-Eagles and his buds bugger off leaving us the victors. We cuts off the heads and carries as many eggs as we could back to the Crow Eaters. They was plum happy to see us with all those eggs and that unexpected meat as well. They was damned please to have all that meat. They sent a party out to collect as much as they could for smokin'. They throws a big feast that night and I got lucky! (Almost had my way with Burning Willow!)
--What do you mean, you got lucky Grandpa? What does "have my
way with Burning Willow" mean?
Anyway, they was damned please to have all that meat. They sent a party out to collect as much as they could for smokin'. They were a sight happier with us after that. Almost the best part was the fact that Catches-Eagles and his cronies didn't return for a while. We started planning how we would get away to more civilized turf when something horrible happened.
A coupla days after the big feast we learned that a young woman and her baby had disappeared. Seems this woman had gone to fetch some water from a creek and hadn't returned. The hunters made some half-assed attempt to track 'em but gave up after they'd found some tracks. We couldn't figger out what was with this lot but they wasn't gonna lift a finger to save the woman and her kid. We asked Tadpole what was the hell was up and he told us that his folk didn't make war. Well, this made Lou right pissed and she asked us whether we wanted to track whoever had taken the woman and her baby and we all said yes. (Even Svart managed to drag hisself out of his apathy to help). Burning Willow said she'd go too. Lou got some supplies from one of the hearth mothers and off we set.
We managed to find some tracks, two barefooted men dragging the woman off. We travelled fast and managed to follow them for most of a day. Near the end of the day we came across this fire pit where they'd had a barbecue. The Waha-cursed scum had cooked and eaten that baby. Well this made us really mad and Lou prayed to her dark goddess for aid. And she got it.
--Well, that's all for now.
Last updated October 09, 2016
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