keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 71: Beam 18
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 70: Hastings 155
“Well, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road.”
It was certainly an unnecessary statement. They had reached the edge of the lake, and found a dock but no boat. The white-haired man could think of nothing else to say, though, and felt he had to say something.
Bron interrupted the emptiness in his head. “What should I do with these?”
“Hmm?” Beam said, turning toward him. Bron indicated the cloak and boots. “Oh, well, you’re the magician, I figure you’re the guy to figure out what to do with them.”
“They seem fairly straightforward.”
“Are you worried about them being dangerous?”
Bron paused in thought for a moment, then answered, “N-no, I don’t think so. They were intended as rewards, so I would expect them to be safe.”
“Can they get across the lake?”
Bron shrugged. “The boots could fly one of us across the lake; maybe the person flying across could carry someone else, if they were light enough.”
Beam nodded. “All right. Can you row a boat?”
“Row a boat?”
“You know what? Forget that. Here’s what you do. Put the boots on; put the cloak on so you won’t be seen, in case the dock is guarded. Fly over to the dock, find the boat--it can’t be that big, if it docks here--make sure the oars or paddles or whatever are secure, grab hold of it, and tell the boots to fly you back. Then we’ll work it out from there.”
Bron nodded, donned the boots and then vanished under the cloak. Beam heard his voice saying, “Boots, take me to the dock across the water on the island,” and then felt a bit of breeze like something flew past him.
“Bron?” he said, then, “I guess it worked.”
In a couple minutes, he said to the others, “Stand back,” as he saw a rowboat rushing toward them, stern pointed up into the air, prow dragging in the water. It crashed into the dock rather loudly, and broke some of the planks, but the boat was intact.
“Sorry about that,” Bron said. “Apparently once you tell the boots where to go, they go exactly there. I probably should have dropped the boat in the water before I got here, but I couldn’t see where we were going until too late.”
“No harm done,” Beam answered. “All right, all aboard. I’ll row.” The oars were secure in the oarlocks despite the wild transit, and Beam had had enough experience fishing, long ago, to be able to stabilize the boat while the others boarded, and then to board and get started with the oars. The rowing pattern was a bit unfamiliar, but his arms were strong enough from the recent smithing work, and in a moment he got it working the way he wanted.
As they reached the opposite shore, Bron hopped out and pulled the bow onto land, and everyone disembarked. There was a path, less than a road but clearly visible, marked, edged, and well traveled, leading up the slope toward the center of the island. “Absent any other suggestions,” Beam said, “I’d guess this is where we’re going.” He led the way up the path, the others falling behind him.
At the top of the rise they crossed onto an open court, paving stone as smooth as glass, torches lighting the perimeter and a small area ahead. In the lit area were the three princesses, dressed in white lace dresses, each standing next to a man a few years older, each of the men in period royal military regalia. A priest, dressed in the attire of a cardinal or bishop, stood just beyond them, and they were looking at him as he said, “I now pronounce you husbands and wives. You may kiss your brides.”
The priest then looked over at Beam and his companions. “And what are you doing here?” he demanded.
“Apparently,” Beam answered, “we’re serving as witnesses for the weddings of King Rex’ daughters.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: