Becalmed

Two weeks north-northeast of the Agdistis islands and becalmed.

Time weighed heavily on Skiff, and sea travel. Hot the sun on his fur, uneasy his stomach. His legs ached from pacing the deck, from seaswell, from confinement. Nights he dreamed of running on the wide pampas of his youth, of clean crisp cold air and not this muggy stillness. Days he watched the horizon for windsign, weatherchange, or sported unhappily in the water.

Palinurus set the men to fishing, barnacle shaving, sail mending, and was content enough. Wind would come, and supplies and spirits were high. He studied his charts, his stars, his orreries and anemometers. Shu waters: he sharpened his blade and kept his powder dry.

Hoopla was patient with the patience of millenia. Whose eyes had spent a century contemplating the slow growth of forests would not be outlasted by a windless season. In the high nest Hoopla sat and smoked and looked ever east toward the lost city of heart’s desire.