It's only been two months since the first chapter was posted. A record for me!
Please enjoy. Future chapters will hopefully come sooner because I have them all planned out and organized.
Disclaimer: All characters are property of Garth Nix. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.
What could only be described as an awkward silence ran rampant as our small party finally set sail from Belisaere to the far North West reaches of the Old Kingdom.
Clayr's Glacier and their extremely large library to be more specific.
I do have to say that my initial estimate of the travel time need to complete our expedition of sorts was speedily proven to be outrageously wrong.
Based originally on the few accurate- albeit- hand drawn maps I had found smashed on a corner shelf in Sam's study under a tangle of multicolored twine, I had thought we could reach the Glacier in approximately a day by Paperwing. Sure, three people would be a tight fit and it would be a long flight without any breaks but it was most definitely possible.
Except that the two accompanying guards couldn't possibly fit inside with us, the luggage, and Sam and Liraels swords, bows and assorted armor.
Not exactly what I usually brought on vacation.
That left us only two possible options. We could either spend a couple of weeks traveling on horseback (something I've been told Lirael has yet grown accustomed to) or we could spend less than a week traveling by boat north on the Ratterlin.
Despite all of my quietly voiced yet persistent protests to Sam, travel by boat was ultimately chosen.
Now, my raging sea sickness aside, it really was a pleasant experience as far as the amount of work required of the people on board was concerned. Unlike back home, the boats in the Old Kingdom are excellent at steering themselves and adjusting their own sails leaving the passengers with unlimited free time to laze about on neatly polished deck and chat with one another.
Or in the case of our small party, silently sit by ourselves on opposite sides of the ship.
In the beginning there were a couple of endeavors made by Sam to start up a conversations with Lirael since I myself was indisposed by the railing with only a tin bucket as my companion, but it very quickly became evident that all efforts were to be made in vain.
Lirael appeared to prefer sitting at the tiller with her dog statue in her lap leaving Sam with only myself to chat at.
I was quickly reminded of a fact that I had learned about Sam during the time that we had both attended Somersby College: when Sam is not preoccupied by some project or other he just begins to ramble on and on about whatever pops into his head.
This was most likely not one of the best habits for a Royal Prince.
Some of the stories were rather amusing. Hearing about how when Sam and Lirael first met, Sam was floating around in a rapidly sinking bath tub and how Lirael was pointing her bow at him from safely on board her ship was definitely one I'd never heard before and wouldn't mind hearing again if I was ever in need of a laugh.
However, the story about how Sam had tried to flirt with Lirael until he had asked her about her age was one that I could have lived without.
So the first three days of the voyage continued on in almost complete silence other than basic questions and their responding answers. Due to this, I took the few precious moments I had looking up from my trusty tin bucket to examine our ship.
Crafted of some lightly colored wood I couldn't name, it was a beautiful vessel complete with the figure head of a man with closely shaved hair. It was a bit strange at first, considering the fact that all of the figure heads that I'd been unfortunate enough to have seen in the past were modeled after voluptuous women.
The ship was clearly more than just a vessel for transporting people on water. It was a work of art. Close inspection of the railing I was leaning up against revealed delicate carvings of different runes that I had learned to associate with the Charter. There were also no obvious screws or nails anywhere aboard the ship, each having been covered with a square ebony plug.
Even the mast of the ship featured different carvings. It was only later I learned they helped protect the ships of maladies such as rot and splintering.
The fourth day of the journey finally saw a change for the better.
At this point in the voyage, there were almost no villages to be seen on either of the banks and the forests were growing thicker with heavily scented evergreen trees. There was also a significant drop in the air temperature for further proof that we were now farther north than I had ever been.
The only bad part about this day was that Lirael had retrieved a white scarf from out of her travel pack and wrapped all of her lovely black hair up into it. Perhaps in what was an effort to ward off the chill.
My attempt to show her how to wrap it around her hair and neck was met with blushing on both of our parts and Lirael re-arranging all of my hard work afterward. Sam just looked on and shook his head.
None of that was what made it better however. The emergence of the white scarf appeared to trigger some memory of Sam's of something called Charter Skins and some obscure text concerning them which had been left behind in the Library by Lirael. From there on an enthusiastic conversation began, finally breaking the pressing silence, about how they were made and what were some alternate uses that they could be put to use for.
Mostly nonsense to me but the theory was incredible.
Unfortunately, an ill-timed question from me inquiring as to what Lirael had used the Charter Skins for was met with stuttering pleas for us to not bring up the topic while at the Glacier. Luckily, quick thinking from Sam extracted a promise for an explanation after our visit ended as long and we never brought up the subject while at the Glacier.
After dinner, our small party began to notice mountains emerging in the distance and by the time we had set anchor in the middle of the dark river for the night, Lirael was able to point out the Starmount and Sunfall mountains between which Clayr's Glacier was located although we were at the wrong angle to see the actual glacier.
On this night Lirael, Sam and I slept below decks in an effort to keep warm. I felt sorry for the guards who had to remain above even though they never complained.
Actually, they were probably happy to get a reprieve from hearing Sam snore like a fog horn the entire night. There was no way such a sound could ever come from Lirael.
We rose early the next morning in order to reach the Clayr's Glacier by midday. Lirael took the time to explain to me about all of the different wards we were going to have to pass through to reach the actual Glacier.
I tried not to voice my worry about not being allowed through since I'd been told there was still some Free Magic flowing through me.
However, I found that all of my worrying had been for naught. We reached the subterranean docks of the Clayr and were met by the only Clayr I had ever seen before, Sanar and Ryelle, as well four other women that looked to be some sort of elders. All dressed in the white robes and moonstone circlets. One of the elders was also holding a wand made of what looked like frosted glass.
Once the formalities were seen to, our group was informed by the elder holding the delicate wand that Sam and I would be given a tour of the Glacier while Lirael would have the chance to settle in and catch up with some of her friends and family.
Much to my confusion, a quick glance at Lirael showed her staring at the ground with a blank look on her face and a hint of sadness in her eyes.
We split up and did not see each other until dinner the following night.
The next Chapter is all about Lirael!
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