Sea People

by Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 12

Aegir woke up with a sneeze. A fly was sneaking into his nostrils. With a wave of the hand he chased the curious beast away, completely in vain. A moment later it landed on the tip of his nose, from there it slowly scuttled to his mouth and decided to settle down in the corner of the mouth.

Annoyed his head bobbed up, he blinked, looked around. "Where I am?" he utter under his breath. A chuckle caught his attention. Ready to fight the unknown person he turned and with a quick grip he took hold of a laughing boy. "Waili! You scared me to death!" Amused about his fear, he pulled the boy on top. Crouching on Aegir's bare chest the boy smiled his best smile, bends forward and planted a peck on Aegir's nose tip. "You overslept, Redhair! Everyone is up since daybreak. You missed the best, the patties of cheese and the hot flatbread my mother prepared for you. Here!" he offered Aegir a patty wrapped up in flatbread. "I saved it for you! My mother wanted to thank you because you initiated me. Now I am no child anymore and allowed to roam the world unattended." "So she knew what Antili, the acolyte and I were about to do to you in Tarhunt's cave. Was she upset ?" "No! I told you, she was happy to have a big boy now. She told me to thank you on their behalf and on behalf of my father!"

"Did I hurt you? My dick is very big. I bet your poop hole still red and your fanny hurts. Does your cunt burn and itch." "Yeah, it did burn this morning, but Mammy applied soothing ointment! You want to have a look?" Before Aegir could react, Waili had turned around, had lifted his loincloth and presented his bare fanny with the still red hole. Aegir petted the cute boy's butt. "Do you want to do me now Redhair, I would love it!" "No dear Waili, yesterday I had to accomplish a holy task, but today it would be a very different matter! No!"

Disappointed Waili slit down from the bed and waited for Aegir to get out. Studying his strong friend closely, he flexed his biceps, "My muscles grew since yesterday, you seed works miracles! Please do me again, now!" Despite Waili's appeals Aegir put on his loincloth to hide his morning wood. Taking Waili's hand, they left the room, "Let's look for my friends. We should leave as soon as possible!" "But you can't! Antili and his brothers are herding the goats. Tsemo and Laong are with them. They sure will have nice day. Only Seb stayed here and is with Amuna. He is waiting for you." When Aegir looked inquiringly Waili added "Amuna is Antili's father, remember. Kaa and your big dark skinned friend Buri are off to buy a boat." When Aegir gave surprised breath, Waili added, "A sail boat." "I know our dugout is holed, but it can be fixed in no time. We just need a sturdy plank and resin."

Just that moment Amuna entered the family room followed by Seb. Embracing Aegir her explained, "Sure you could fix your broken dugout, but everybody agreed you need better go with a sailboat on a long voyage like this. The village council discussed your plans this morning and decided you need a sailboat. It's much faster!" "But I love our old dugout! We have used it for nearly a year and it always did serve well. We just can't desert it, because the tree it was made off was a holy tree. No, we just can't leave it on the dry." "The village will keep your boat and use it. But you need a sailboat. It's faster and last not least not as obvious as old your dugout. Bear in mind you may have to deceive the henchmen of the king of Tyruus and eventually outrun your chasers."

At mid morning the boat carrying Buri, Kaa and the envoys of Imrali arrived at a small shipyard by the mouth of the river about fifteen miles to the east of the mouth of the Imrali river. Two rowing boats in construction and a pretty run down sail boat were jacked up in racks at the sandy beach. Docking at the wharf one of village elders called for the boat builder telling the Sun Seekers, "He is a damn good boat builder but an even better drinker. We should be happy if he is sober enough to help you. On the other hand he is a good guy having a heart of stranded people like you especially for those coming a long way."

Nothing happened for a long time. When Kaa asked the elder to call again, he hushed him. But finally a door of a withering hut hidden by shrubs opened and gray bearded man limped down to the boat, accompanied by two fierce looking dogs. Buri immediate recalled the wise man they had met on the beach of the Black Sea, but in contrast to the blind magician the eyes of the man monitored him and Kaa attentively.

"What kind of funny birds you brought along?" he greeted the villagers "Black birds? Unlucky birds or lucky birds. I haven't seen boys black like these for long time!" Then he turned to Kaa and Buri. "Last time I met guys like you was far south in Râ-Kedet. They were slaves from Ta-Seti." "Well we are from Ta-Seti and we need to head back to our people." Kaa replied, "Our boat has sprung a leak and we need a sturdy and fast one to get there." "Look around, do you see one?" When Kaa gave a distraught shrug, the boat builder started to chuckle, "The new ones are still under construction. There is just this old one! Get a close look! Would it fit an experienced navigator to get to Râ-Kedet savely? The boat too needs to be experienced to pass all the perils on the way, the storms, the sea snakes, the mermaids and last not least the toll keepers waylaying you." Taking the reluctant Kaa on the upper arm he dragged him to the old sailboat. "Check it carefully. It looks like junk, but I guess its more experienced than you! I swear it will bring you and your friends to Râ-Kedet unharmed, because nobody on the way will suspect that you and your friends are wanted like criminals or valuable like a bag of gold." While Kaa and Buri still puzzled about the old man's words the men of Imrali inspected the boat. While the elders began to negotiate the prize the younger ones probed the boat for stability, strength and leaks. Their report was satisfying. It even sounded surprised. "It's sturdy and inconspicuous. It will bring you and you friends to the goal." Suddenly Buri shook his head in disbelieve, "The boat possesses something I can't put the finger to. It seems more like a living being. It's not an inanimated object! No!"

The price was reasonable and it dropped to an unexpected low level, when Buri offered three pearls of Tsemo's treasure. "These pearls are worth a kingdom, the old boat builder stammered. I can't take them. Just let me hold these a moment and the boat will be yours."

In the evening two boats berthed alongside the pier of the small harbor belonging to Imrali, the canoe of the fishermen and the sailboat. On their way back Kaa had used the time to refresh his sailing skills and Buri had been introduced to the basics of sailing by the young fishermen. The elders, traveling with the canoe, still discussed what had happened at the shipyard, "Did the boat builder really made the comment about the pearls without thinking or was his remark of high significance? Who are these boys at all? Why did he let them the boat for less than a trifle?"

In Imrali the rumor about the unexpected behavior of the boat builder and his noble present to the Sun Seekers traveled from doorstep to doorstep. When it arrived at Waili's ear during supper with his parents he immediately began pester, "I told you the Sun Seekers are extraordinary people. Remember how Aegir made me stronger, just by seeding me. He is a magician, everything he touches turns into gold. Please can I leave with him when the Sun Seekers set out for their great adventure? He is so sweet, the whole day he allowed me to stay with him." His father started laughing. "Did you fall in love with him? I bet my boy, it's just a transient period. As a boy I suffered from a comparable affection to my teacher, but then I met your mother and she took my heart." His mother added smiling, "You can hang around to Aegir while he is around, but take care you don't trouble him. He is not your peer. After he has left however you have concentrate to your obligation of a firstborn son!"

Not only Waili's family was astir, the women of the village meeting at the fountain we excited, especially the girls. Not only one had thrown an eye on Aegir, Buri or Kaa. The Redhead as well as the strong dark skinned lads made their mouths water and their cunts itching. Even some lads had hot dreams. Meanwhile the elder discussed how to behave wisely against these extraordinary guests and how to help them to prepare for the challenging endeavor. The men were uneasy, because on the one hand they looked and behaved like common young males on the other they seemed to possess alien features. Particularly the priest and his acolyte were uneasy about the Sun Seekers. However, they didn't express their sentiments publicly. Advised by the priest, the elders decided to speed up the Sun-Seeker's departure to restore normality to the village.

Early next morning the young men set out from the village Imrali to recover the Sun-Seeker's dugout at the lonely beach. They patched up its hole and towed it to the small harbor in the mouth of the Imrali River. Meanwhile Buri and Kaa took the other Sun Seekers down to the sailboat. Aegir, Tsemo and Laong were fidgeting out of curiosity the whole way down the river to the mooring site of the new boat, their new sailboat, as Seb emphasized times and times again. Would it be as sturdy as the dugout? Kaa told the others "Yes it is!" Would the sailboat carry them like the old dugout save through storm and rain, hale and fog? Buri said "I know it will!" Aegir, Tsemo, Laong and Seb became all the more excited the more they came closer to the harbor. Buri tried to calm them, "It's a lot bigger than the old dugout, it looks sturdier and it sure will be faster." Then he dampened the expectations, "At least I think so! The old boat builder told us its a square rigged boat, a sort of boat merchants are using all over the vast Wadj-ur. We would be even able to reach with it the edge of the earth." Still Tsemo and Aegir were not fully satisfied by this information.

At first sight Aegir, Tsemo and Laong were quite disenchanted. The boat looked run down, the planks gray and patched up with fresh boards, the sun deck darned and the oars were swinging forworn in the mountings. But it was a lot larger than their dugout. It measured about 50 feet from bow to helm and about 10 feet on the widest point just behind the mast. Neither of them had seen a square rigged boat before much less used. Their attention immediately concentrated on the mast and the sail. The high rising mast was not positioned midships, but slightly off the center. Later they learned the mast was inserted in the boat's keel and secured by cross struts. Moreover it was tied to the ships hull by sturdy ropes.

They puzzled over elongated bundle attached halfway up the mast. Then Aegir got its nature. "Its the sail!" he called out. "A sail as my father used it to propel his big warship!" Look linen is furled around the two poles tied to the mast. If it is unfurled the wind is caught and blows the boat along. He lifted Tsemo from the ground, flung him through the air and started to laugh, "We do not have to row anymore, just when the wind dies off! These boats can fly like birds can! Such boats carry names like sea gull, like albatross, like petrel, lie man-o'-war bird! Our boat has to have a name also, the name of a fast bird, of a bird that can stay in the air for days!" Aegir looked up to the sky. He searched for a big bird crossing the morning sky. Just when averted his gaze from the blue sky a big bird came into sight. It seemed to sail along without a stroke of his wings. "Up there, look! Up there!" Tsemo called out, "A bird, a big bird with sooty wings. Do you know his name Aegir?" Aegir narrowed his eyes to slits, "Yes I see it, but I never have seen it before. Its a strange bird! I don't know its name." Tsemo followed the bird with his eyes till it disappeared at the horizon. "If you don't know its name, then we just have to name the bird. I name it Hawhk and Hawhk will be the name of our boat!"

The bow of Hawhk was sharp and even idling at the low quay it seem to cut through the waves. Bow and stern tapered off in carved prows. Strapped to the front prow was a voluminous jar for storing the drinking water.

On board the Sun Seekers checked Hawhk's construction. The keel immediately caught Tsemo eyes. Pointing at it, "Isn't the keel of the boat just an old dugout and the wall tied up planks?" he questioned Kaa. "You are the only one of us familiar with boats like this. Does this way to connect the planks which each other make the boat save even in heavy windstorms?" Kaa grinned, but Seb piped up glad to know about shipbuilding, "Sure it is. The boat builders join the planks like a housewife joins line. She just is stitching together two part together. They just use cords thick like a finger and later the holes are sealed by tar pitch. The same is done with the seams between the planks." He kicked the hull, "Look the walls give in but stays watertight." Kaa pointed to the much heavier plank on top of the hull of the boat. "Look at this plank. Its much sturdier than the ones of the hull. Its the frame to keep the boat in its shape. It also carries the mountings for the helm and oars. This frame is not stitched to the planks, but it is fixed by mortises and tenons to the planks below. The tenons are sticking in the mortise holes and are held there firmly by pegs. This gives the frame a stable grip to the hull."

As Laong tried to move the big helms Kaa started to explain. "There are two kinds of oars. The big ones mounted to the boat permanently are for steering. They are called steering oars or helms and are used by the helmsman. The other oars are used for rowing. This will be necessary some times, like in windless times or if a boat has to be maneuvered to a berth. They are sticking in these notches for the oars while they are used for rowing."

Meanwhile Waili was looking for his big friend all over the village. He didn't find him in Antili's house nor at the village temple. He didn't want to ask his father because he was afraid his father would ridicule him because of his infatuation for Aegir. Finally Waili met the acolyte who knew all about the sailing boat and all the news about the upcoming departure of the Sun Seekers. "Do they really have leave? Does Aegir leave also? He is my friend!" Waili was disappointed. He couldn't believe the news. He had to know! He sneaked down o the river. Without asking for permission he took his fathers small kuphar, a round boat with a hull of skins, and let himself drift down the river to the landing.

Down there everyone was busy, the villagers as well as the Sun Seekers. While the villager removed the tarpaulin from the dugout and put it up in the sailboat as a sun-sail, the Sun-Seeker searched the stocks they had hoarded so far for the items useful during the next leg of their voyage. They had decided to take only the items along they really would need, like the new arms Kirketin had given to them as parting presents, their hunting and fishing gear, water skins and jars for storage of food, the pots, mugs and plates and last not least their cloth and the furs they needed comfort.

Buri was struggling with himself about the flints he had brought along form his fathers working area by the cave and the ones he had collected along the Bred-ström. Finally he decided to leave everything in Imrali, with exception the knife he got form his fathers as a boy. NatUhraally he kept the crescent of moonstone, despite he knew now, that it was made by a blacksmith from bronze.

Aegir kept only a piece of narwhale horn engraved with animals and runs. Tsemo kept his holy flute, the one he could used to scare away bad dreams and evil ghosts. And Laong? He had left the place he grew up as an outcast. Therefore, he had nothing of value, except for the blue-shining feathers of a jay, his reliable old bow and a small bag filled with arrowheads of flint.

Down at the moorage Waili met nearly all of the village's boys. Tzhey were going wild because Buri had invited them to ransack the remaining items. Waili didn't take part on the looting, rather he looked for Aegir and helped him to store all items in the hold of the sailing ship. The Redhead however did pay Waili no heed. After a while the boy was very hurt because of this disregard. As the first tear of disappointment welled up, he turned and scurried off taking his way the plank. Aegir, startled by Waili's unexpected action, let the furs drop and ran after him. When he caught up with him behind some shrubs Waili was crying his eyes out. Aegir tried to take him in his arms but he was kicked by the desperate boy and assailed with questions. "Why are you leaving? Why can't we stay friends? I thought we are friends for ever!" and then without meaning it, "I hate you! I hate you!" Aegir couldn't calm him down for a long time and when he finally was able, why the Sun Seekers couldn't stay in Imrali, he just repeated "I hate you!" wriggled out of Aegir's arm and left to return home.

Back at home Waili was exhausted from paddling upriver against the fast current. On his way back he had chewed his anger and disappointment over and over again and now upon the first sight of the village and his father's house all his troubles were blown off and he knew what to do. Full of certainty he announced with full voice, "I go with Aegir! I go with him to find the sun. I travel a stowaway for the first day and if we are enough from home Aegir just can't be send back! I am a young man now! I can decide by myself!"

Three days later the Hawhk left its anchorage ground at the mouth of the Imrali river. Aboard the boat were the Sun Seekers, the acolyte and Antili as passengers to the city of Uhraa and last not least Waili. Nobody in the village did know about Waili the stowaway and his parents didn't miss him till the night came around. But at this time the sailing boat was already uncatchable.

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