Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.3

Canto XVI, wherein we discover the results of Oscambria’s prayers, a verdict is rendered, and an old friend returns.  If you’ve missed any of the previous installments of this tale, click here to catch up, or follow the “Oscambria” label at the bottom of this post.  There’s also a glossary, world map, and other miscellaneous information available after the jump.  The next Canto is perhaps my favorite one so far.  As always, thanks for reading.



The guard that had caught him walked in first,
Carrying a chair and a gagging rag.
Behind him walked Columbus,
Tapping a walking stick ahead of him.
The guard sat the chair down near Oscambria,
Stuffed the foul smelling rag in his mouth,
And moved to stand in the corner of the room.

The blind man sat comfortably in the chair,
Crossed his legs,
And pulled out a wad of smoke-weed.
The fragrance of the smoking pipe was somehow soothing,
And the Hero felt himself relax.
His mind began to churn.  “What luck,” thought Oscambria,
“that I should flee Arca and fall into the hands of Columbus.”

“My name is Columbus,
the owner of the store that you tried to rob.
I have no patience for thievery,
Especially after returning from a long and stressful trip.
Normally I would have you taken to a Reckoner,
Where you would be tried and sentenced,
Either to prison or death.

“Unfortunately, our local Reckoner is out of the city,
or so Pinta tells me,
thus the task of weighing and judging falls on me.
Also, unfortunately for you,
I mentioned that I have just recently arrived,
And my trip has left me in a foul mood.
Nonetheless, I’ll try to be fair.”

Columbus took a long drag on his pipe
And blew a cloud of white smoke.
The hope of getting off easy faded;
When the Hero heard the agitation in Columbus’ voice,
he decided against revealing himself to the man.
“I’ve owned this store for many years,” the man continued,
“And it’s not by letting thieves get away with their crimes.

“I’m a faithful follower of the gods,
firmly believing that Lawes is the supreme judge.
However, Lawes’ statutes are clear,
And the Law is the Law.”
An awful memory flashed through the Hero’s spinning mind,
Recalling the same words Columbus had said
Just before Arca jabbed the halberd into the roadside vagabond’s skull.

“I have it on good word that you were trying to steal from my store.
Do you deny the charge?”  Columbus took another drag.
“No,” he tried to answer,
but it was weak and muffled from the gag.
His mind had grown dull from the smoke and the odor on the rag.
The blood and brains of the dead thief.
The blind man released another cloud and pulled out a long knife.

“I take your silence as a no contest.”  A pause.  “Pinta, leave us.”
The guard grunted and complained.
“I do not pay you to question me, son.  Now leave us.”
The guard grumbled again, but he obeyed, eyeing Oscambria as he left.
They sat in silence for a span,
Oscambria staring at the blind man’s blade,
All the while flowers of fear were growing in his guts.

Yes, readers, let it be said that the Hero of the Worlds was capable of fear,
That even he had a terror squeezing his heart.
Here he was, bound and gagged before a blind man with no tolerance for law-breaking.
A man holding a dangerous, simple-looking knife and planning to use it.
A man with a serious, business like face, except for that girly tattoo near his left eye.
If he could just remove the gag then he could make himself known,
But his constitution had abandoned him for fear and apathy.

“Having offered no defense, I, Columbus of Sparka,
former Reckoner of the Feoga regions,
find you guilty and found wanting.
As I can’t throw you in prison,
I sentence you to death.
I suppose it’s only fitting, after all.
My journey began in bloodshed; it should end with it, too, eh?”

The Hero’s eyes widened when the man stood from his chair.
He wondered at the quick madness of the simple trial.
A cloud of smoke covered Columbus’ face,
Casting him like a god come down from the sky.
Mossossopia leapt from Oscambria’s lap and ran up to Columbus’ feet,
Happy to see the man again,
or trying to protect his master, as Oscambria thought.

Unable to see,
Columbus tripped over the small galleyrat.
He fell hard and the knife flew from his hand.
Landing on his face he let out a curse.
(Strange for a man that followed the gods to do so, I think.)
“What in all manner of… Gah!”
He lost his tongue as the quick kisses of the galleyrat filled his face.

Mossossopia only licked him for a few seconds,
But it was enough to stall the man.
“A dog?  Why didn’t Pinta…  No it’s not a dog.  A…galleyrat?!  But, it can’t be.
Mossossopia?  Oscambria?”
Mossy growled tenderly,
Obviously pleased that the man remembered her.
The Hero grunted and moaned through his suffocating gag.

Columbus stood and dusted himself off,
Picking up the galleyrat.
“Are you gagged, Oscambria?  Well, I’m guessing you’re Oscambria.
This is definitely his galleyrat, of that I’m certain.”
The Hero yelled again, letting the rag stifle his cry.
The odor was dumbing him.
He sighed instant relief when Columbus plucked the rag from his mouth.

“I can’t believe it’s you,” said Columbus,
returning to his chair and his pipe.
“I can’t believe it’s you, either,” replied Oscambria,
rubbing at his wrists.
“You were going to kill me.”
An uncomfortable air hung between them,
Separated by the thick smoke.

“Yes.  The Law is the Law.
And you are still guilty, child, but your sentence can be rethought.
It could be that the Sisters have deliberately led you to me,
Being that I know of your destiny.
Or perhaps it’s just a large coincidence that you end up here.
Either way, you are here, and we have things to discuss,
Chiefly being your departure from our caravan.”

The tone of Columbus’ voice left little to the Hero’s imagination.
What could he say?
He’d abandoned the group he’d said he’d protect.
“I know why you left us, Oscambria,
and I almost do not blame you.  Almost.
You acted foolishly,
Though love is prone to foolishness.

“What did you think was going to happen after you left?”
The Hero hung his head and mumbled.
“I expected no one would miss me,
least of all Koesan. 
The way she looked at me was too much.
This curse doesn’t turn my heart to grey, too.
No, it still beats just as bloody red as everyone else’s.”

“Well, you were wrong.
When we discovered your absence
Koesan flew into another fit of rage,
This time directed at herself.
I had to keep her from going back to find you.
We had a strict schedule to keep,
And there was no time for distractions.

“The whole thing was like one big drama,
like an act from ‘The Callow and the Unsettled,’
and I’m near too old for that stuff.
Arca finally convinced her to stay,
Bless the lad…”
Columbus’ voice trailed off for a moment, then added,
“Why do I not smell you?”

The Hero chuckled and recounted his meeting of Lahk.
He went on and vindicated himself,
Telling how he kept a watchful eye on the caravan
As best he could.
“A tuxedo, you say?  Hmm.  Fascinating.
But you should never have taken an oath with Lahk.
In the end, he always comes out ahead.”

“I was hesitant,” said the Hero,
“but I didn’t have many choices.”
Columbus extinguished his pipe and suddenly stood.
“Enough of this.  I’ve decided upon your sentence.
You’re going to have to make up to Koesan.
It’s beyond me how you both have managed to fall for one another so quickly,
But you have, and you should put your differences aside.

“You can come with me and wait in the sitting room.
There should be some eggs and corncakes there.
I’ll need to scold Pinta.  His head’s a sack full of sand and nothing more.
What was he thinking gagging you like that?”
Columbus blathered on and made his way to the door.
Oscambria, followed,
his heart thumping louder than before.

Yes, dear readers,
let it never be said that the Hero did not fear.
He was, after all, made of the same stuff we are,
Flesh, blood, and bone.
You know how it feels to have the weight of admission hanging over you.
Columbus led him into the sitting room.
“Take a seat, lad.  She’ll be in here soon.  Help yourself to the food.

“I’ve things that need doing.
You two can find me after you’re finished.”
With that, he turned and closed the door.
Oscambria heard the soft click as the lock turned.
He sighed heavily,
Scratching absently at Mossossopia,
And staring nervously around the adorned room.


Crystal said...

Yay!! Mossy saves the day!! Can't wait to read the conversation between Oscambria and Koesan next week!

logankstewart said...

Hey, thanks. I struggled writing this scene. To me it seemed too rushed and unbelievable, but I didn't have the time or space to fix that. I'm sure whenever I finish the entire epic and I'm editing the thing I'll be expounding on this Canto.

Don't set your hopes too high for next week, or you might be disappointed. However, I'm rather fond Canto XVII and I think you'll enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.