So we begin again, Finnigan ("... he has whiskers on his chin again...")
It may well be noted that this chapter has the same title as the previous, and this is because I have actually renamed them in between postings; for this chapter bears the title much better than the previous (which is now called, "Humour" - tho this is not a title I am yet fully settled upon).
Things are likely to get lumpier still from now on for we are most definitely in "writing as I go" territory: let the terror begin!
As for Tales from the Half-Continent, it is 216 pages long, has 1 map (recycled from Factotum - please forgive me), 8 character illos but alas, no appendices - it seems I am become too obscure to be allowed such indulgences a second time.
Let us revel in the obscurity together \o/
I see too that I got the athy's names mixed up (THANK YOU, ANON, VERY HELPFUL INDEED): it is known by all three names in my various notebooks - I think because I cannot decide which noun I like the more (one for the suburb it is in, the other after its founder, a third for the street it is on) so perhaps I will keep them all?
Also: How's the story as a whole tracking so far, folks?
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION
Chapter 9 PART 1
The Sulk & Through
word ~ definition …………
Economous had thought the three day journey from his childhood home to Brandenbrass three years previous had been a bold and extended venture: it took four entire days upon the Grand Trunk to make it even half way across the vasty fields of the Sulk. In the first the young fabulist thrilled to the alien vista that was presented to him through the sashed windows of the lentum; a land both familiar in its pastoral simplicity yet subtly foreign in its form of building, fashion of citizen and the utter flatness of the ground. He had once reckoned the Milchfold about western curtains of Brandenbrass topographically unremarkable but that region was a veritable downs of undulation compared to endless evenness of this current scape. The word “plain” was well meant here.
Perhaps most remarkable were the many white mill-towers with their red or blue roofs and great wind-sails of red or white ever turning even in the light summer airs. Communities of them were founded at every sight of the compass, the tips of rotating sails even glimpsed peeping above the arc of the horizon green with row upon row of low-sprouting vegetables – carrots, beetroots, radishes and chives. An uncommon sight in the Page – where much milling was done by ox-drawn stones – Economous watched these windmills with keen fascination, leaning out over the door sash to crane his neck and stare if the road took them close to one of the marvellous devices. In their shadows and out amongst almost every field toiled a greater multitude of moilers and other labouring folk, a far greater number than Economous had ever beheld during his child-years, each – man or woman – dressed peculiarly baggy breaches of white or faun, gathered about their shins and bulging at the thighs.
At the sprawling rural focus of Swaddle Tunp the rotund gentleman and his consort left the journey, to be replaced the next morning by a fellow of advancing years who smelt strongly of skolding parts. The vertical stripes he bore upon his face to show that he was indeed a monster-slaying skold. This new passenger must have been most talented at his profession: There is no such thing as an old teratologist went the axiom yet here he sat.
“Hello and good morning, sir,” Economous tried, wishing to express his admiration, a similar greeting falling flat once again upon the young fan-flicking lady.
“I can see that you are a measuring man and I will grant most readily that your kind are a boon upon the road,” the old skold said with a glare from eyes especially and penetratingly pale. “But I am not interested in chitter chatter, sir, and ask of you the peace to travel quiet and unmolested by empty words.”
Eyes still hid under the rim of her tricon yet clearly smirking, the fan-flicking lady hid her amusement behind her fan.
Economous returned his gaze to the sash.
By sheer frequency the marvels of the region wore out their charm as the steadily passing vista proved unchangingly horizontal, and despite the miles shared, his fellow passengers remained self-possedly unengaging so that the young fabulist found himself nodding. Resting his head upon his bundled coat – unneeded in the heat of the cabin – he lost great stretches of road to his recollection, the journey becoming a strange cycle of boarding, sleeping, eating, disembarking at some new town: Swaddle Tunp, Eg Harbidge, Sulking Mede, Boston – each remarkably similar to the last, each a place only to sleep until the small of the next day when the sequence began again.
By the seventh day travelling between the low sturdy bastion of Fauquemberg and Poonemünd – the last concentration of population of the eastern Sulk – landscape and architecture did change. The ground began to undulate and grow craggy with grey granite boulders thatched with dull green lichen rising up from fields now whitening with the heads of buck-wheat, barley and spelt, tossing and rippling in the gentle warmth. The dry stone walls about fields became higher and more often began to form the foundation for thick thorny hedges that now obscured the once wide and open view from the carriage window just when the scene was becoming more interesting. Once proceeding flat upon the flat land, the road began to dip and rise and cut long furrows into the hilly earth. Pines and cedars grew now in dark copses upon hillock tops or in tight windbreaks across in growing count of low ridgelines. The people the lentum passed – day-walking postmen amblers, itinerant soup-sellers, cart-driving farmers – did not grin or wave as the more westerly denizens of the Sulk had done but went about with frowning inward expressions despite the glorious bright of the waxing summer.
The post-lentum arrived at Poonemünd as the wondrous yellow glare of a pristine sunset draped every westerly surface in solar gold, making steady way along a broad unpaved street of sun-hardened dirt, rutted and rough yet lit rather incongruously down its middle by a line of fine lamps. The journey terminating at the wayhouse, [wayhouse name], a complex of low, sole-storied, wide-roofed quadrangles connected by covered walks.
“Commerce bain’t as steady regular as one might reckon betwixt them easternly folk and us,” the lentermen informed Economous as the fellow put his mark upon the two remaining passengers’ Ticket-of-Passage. “Dour and close, they keep well to themselves and well may it continue so. We won’t be trundlin’ yonder” – he nodded to the arc of pallid eastern sky already glimmering with the night’s first stars above the red-tiled roof of the wayhouse coachyard – “until I have a full count o’ passingers – not worth the wear or worry elsewise.”
Increasingly keen to be at his new work, Economous thought this a remarkable inconvenience. However, his fellow passenger – the young fan-flicking woman in the fashionable garb who had shared the whole journey with scarce a word – took this information with a patient nod and proceeded directly into the common room of the Cradle & Manger.
Frustrated but helpless to alter affairs, Economous followed after.