If you have been to Port Naain (as of course you have), you will thoroughly enjoy the tale about to unfold before you. If you are one of those rare folk who have not, then you are in for a treat, and, I dare say, you will be making travel arrangements even before finishing your read.
The reader who has not been to Port Naain is likely someone who does not travel at all, as it is known far and wide as a destination of character. All are welcome there, whether highborn or low. Many have stayed, and they sometimes find themselves included in the tales of Tallis Steelyard, a poet with the highest of standards, sometimes exercised in the lowest of places. Continue reading, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the lore of Port Naain.
As we continue our perambulations through the paintings exhibited here by Andeal Willnoton Quillabin we come to one which I feel is somewhat unusual. This picture is his interpretation of something he was told about but never saw. Indeed he couldn’t have seen it as it happened before either he or I were born.
Andreal, like all artists, is happy to take commissions. Normally these involve people putting coin into his hand in payment. The only discussion is over the amount of coin. Yet in this case the situation was somewhat different. A group of us were sitting, minding our own business, having a quiet drink in the Lubbergate Tavern. It was a somewhat sombre occasion as we were ‘celebrating’ the passing of Jettin Sal. We’d delivered her body to the corpse boat with proper ceremony and now were gathered to drink a toast to her memory.
The chief mourner was Jeia, her daughter and our contemporary. She told some tales of her mother and father who had been shore-combers. Jeia herself had gone up in the world and was in domestic service as a maid. So the group round the table consisted of shore-combers, other folk who’d known Jettin, and people who were friends of Jeia and wished to support her. Andeal, like me, had known Jettin but mainly we were there because we knew her daughter.
Jeia turned to one of the older men sitting with us. “Uncle Quanard, could you tell us some of the old tales about my parents please.”
The old man so addressed put down his glass. “Did you hear about the day your parents were married?”
“Only a little, Uncle.”
“Well it was a proper shore-comber wedding. You don’t see them much now. Everything was worked around the tide. The Priestess of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Fecundity turned up with the high tide to sanctify the marriage. Then we borrowed tables from all the mud-jobbers and served the wedding breakfast. By the time we’d finished eating the tide was well out so we all trooped onto the mud for dancing.”
Jeia looked surprised, “I don’t remember my mum being much of a lady for dancing.”
Old Quanard just patted her arm. “After four children, and the accident that lamed your dad, she didn’t dance. But as a young woman she was a fine dancer.” He stared off into memory. “It’s how she and your dad met really, they were both fine dancers.”
We sat in silence as the old shore-comber pulled together the threads of memory. “The day had worsened, but I well remember the last dance. It was for the bride and groom to dance alone, but the rain was already blowing in. So they danced it with a couple of us just trying to keep the rain off them with some old umbrellas we’d got. I’ve never seen such dancing, him tall and handsome, her slim and beautiful, and both so much in love.”
Jeia dabbed a tear away from her cheek. “Oh I’d have loved to have seen it.”
With that Andreal kicked me under the table and mouthed, “You and I have to talk.”
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