24 January, 2017 by katelaity
‘We hunkered down that night as the winds grew fierce once more. Paskus did her best to soothe the brood with singing and wonderful stew. Food can usually do much to calm the spirit and while we ate, I must say there was a more friendly mood of survivor’s camaraderie amongst us. The children, their fears of the night before forgotten, played unmindful of the threat the adults could not shake.
‘Her sons told tales around the fire as the children were settled into their beds. The tales remembered the deeds of heroes in the past, the ones like Beowulf or Ulysses who seemed larger than life in the retelling, though once they had been just men of extraordinary deeds. I suppose in a way it was to pluck up their own courage for the night ahead.
‘Though I could not understand all they said, my knowledge of their language being rather poor at that stage, they were such animated tellers of tales that I got the gist of it from their performance assisted by asides from Paskus and increasingly, from her youngest son. Although somewhat bashful at first to give rein to his English, as he became more familiar with me and saw that I was encouraging—more interested in communication than grammatical perfection—he warmed to the challenge and we learned from one another. His name was Ihiipii, if I recall correctly, though I was never quite certain whether it meant spider web or fish net. I think it may have been a nickname his brothers gave him, but the naming conventions of the people in the Moose region were different from those in our land.
‘They have fewer legalities to deal with,’ Tansy muttered.
‘Indeed,’ Rae agreed. ‘The world seemed very small that night and yet there was a timeless quality to it for a time. The fire we gathered around and told stories before could have been just as well in an ancient mead hall here or a gentleman’s club. The activities are the same and a conviviality blossomed among us that had not been there before. The sons of my hostess seemed to accept me more readily once I told them the story of our attempt to hunt a whale. They were more familiar with the giant pike fish but understood that I meant a different fish.
‘When we all shared a feeling of comfort and well being, we decided to go to bed and carry some of that warmth with us. I settled into my makeshift bed, certain that I would sleep better that night and awake refreshed in the morning.
‘Then the howling returned. I could not say when it began but the night was black as the pitch we used to seal the planks on the ship. Even the sound of a wolf can pierce a dark night and seem uncanny. The cry of this creature they called the Wendigo was as strange as its track. Like that footprint it also had an almost human quality to the sound, though I doubted any human could sustain such a rough screech.
‘I was unwilling to remain cowering in my bed for very long, however. I had come to the land seeking adventure, and adventure I would have. I was not helpless. My musket might not be much help in the dark, but I had a good sword and a fine club that would do me good stead in close quarters.
‘Paskus took my arm when she divined that I had notions of wandering out. As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark by the glow of the fire, I could see her misgivings. I was dashed if I would resist such a challenge, however and attired myself for the cold. The wind blew fierce as ever and when I stepped out the door of the snug little home, the snow swirled madly about me.
‘Before I could fasten the door behind, the youngest son Ihiipii dodged out the door too. He looked frightened and yet determined. He too seemed to think courage was the order of the day.’