|As if the Sea should part: The Drunken Boat|
1 comment26 Aug 2006 @ 23:46 by Hanae @18.104.22.168 : — “Fly…”
The room began to spin unsteadily, but by now Laron has lost touch with his body and could not call out. His mind blanked, except for a single word. “Fly.” He could feel something, as if he were rushing through warm air, with a blue dome of sky above and a vast circle of sparkling ocean below. The sun was near the zenith. Laron had arms, but his legs were just an ability to twist his body. He glanced to his arms, which were outstretched. Fins. Huge, long fins. He was a finwing. Experimentally he gave a few flaps, dipped, banked, and climbed. He was clumsy, but could manage to stay in the air.
For what seemed like a half hour he flew on. He began to feel unpleasantly warm. Did he need to stay moist? Fly, not swim, yet finwings needed to splash into the water occasionally to keep wet and cool. On the other hand, he was not a finwing. What was he? He flapped higher, leveled out. Laron now noticed that his lung sac was uncomfortable; in fact, it was beginning to feel as if it were burning hot. What was he to do? Fly until he died? He told himself that this was all allegory…
What seemed like another half hour passed. By now the joints at the base of his fins ached, and he was so hot and dry that even twisting his body was an effort. He dropped closer to the waves. Droplets of spray struck him. He dropped lower, bouncing on the wavetops. This was still flying, he told himself, and his back was as dry as desert sand. Was crashing “through” the waves still flying? Laron flapped to gain speed, dived, and plunged through the crest of a wave—just as a vast shadow sailed over, clawing at the spray that he had just raised.
In a panic Laron gained height as the giant leatherwing banked and came around. “Fly.” Being eaten by a giant winged lizard would soon put a stop to that. He stared at it for a moment, mesmerized. There was something alluring, hypnotic about it, yet… as the leatherwing dived after him he folded his wings back and plunged for the water, then leveled out at the last moment and flew along the trough between two waves. A huge head full of teeth on a serpentine neck shot up at him, closed over him for a moment—then he was flung clear and high into the air as the leatherwing smashed into the sea dragon’s neck.
Battered, bleeding, and with one wing badly torn and buckled, Laron circled the fighting giants as they thrashed spray high into the air. The droplets were cool on his skin, but all too soon the leatherwing vanished beneath the surface. He had to fly on. This is like something in my recent past, a long journey over the sea, he told himself as the sun dried out his battered body again. He could remember a few specifics, just burning thirst, agonizing longing without end, weakness, no end in sight…
Laron opened his eyes to find Yvendel unfastening the straps. When he tried to sit up, he nearly fell from the bench, and Yvendel had to hold him steady as he eased his weight onto his feet.
“How do you feel?” she asked as he took a few experimental steps.
“Like I’ve never owned a pair of legs in my life, Learned Rector. What was all that about? “
“You were learning a few basics of control. They are techniques specific to my academy, they must be learned unaided, they can not be taught.”
“So did I learn them?”…
“Only just,” Yvendel said sternly.
“I—I don’t follow. I was “meant” to be eaten?”
“You were meant to be eaten by the “right” predator, which was the leatherwing. You would nourish the leatherwing’s body, just as when you become a member of a religious or magical order you contribute to the strength of the whole. The greater body keeps your own body flying, whereas if you flew on alone you would be knocked out of the sky by misery and fatigue… Your splashing through the wavetops was flirting with the ocean without really plunging into it. Nobody has ever flown without being eaten until now, but you flew, so you pass.
—Voyage of the Shadowmoon [Sean McMullen]
Other entries in Moon
9 May 2005 @ 21:18: The Drunken Boat
27 Feb 2005 @ 04:31: LOJ VIII
27 Feb 2005 @ 00:40: Avalon