The Fates chose to postpone the oar's rescue and find Turcifa’s home instead in case it reveals any useful new information.
Welcome back, divine Fates! While bickering and contention is my bread and butter, it is heartwarming to see you so united in your opinions. Did I hear someone in the back say ‘loot’? Everyone is nodding. I thought so. Scoundrels, every one of you. Nay! Pardon me, I overlooked the two brave hearts who voted for immediate pursuit and revenge. Your passion is noted, but I ask for your patience. It will be rewarded in due time.
But first, loot.
The knight walks slowly, scrutinizing the beach for signs of habitation. Dawn, the elf, skips ahead, her monologue occasionally interrupted when she disappears behind a bend of the undulating shoreline.
So far Dawn has taught him that jokes about consuming cursed plants will not be received well by any self-respecting lady, that her favorite food is peach preserves which, sadly, Cato disapproves of, and that Cato didn’t believe in indulgence or displays of affection. At this point the knight realizes that Dawn doesn’t need his input to keep the conversation going and proceeds to ignore most of it.
For the fifth time since leaving the site of battle, he diverts his mind from the lost oar. Instead, he focuses on his newfound shortcomings as a comedian. Having given it some thought, he decides his lack of facial expressions may hinder his ability to convey the subtle nuances of sarcasm.
“What does Turcifa’s home look like?” Dawn asks. She hops, aided by a telekinetic push, and gracefully scales the distance between two slabs, disappearing behind another bend and forcing the knight to raise his voice: “Hell if I know. I suppose a cave suitable for a mad old hermit.”
Dawn pops her head back into view. “You’re sure?”
The knight shrugs his armored shoulders. "You may as well stop grinning and say what you've found."
Dawn, smug, points beyond the knight's line of vision.
The knight catches up to her and follows her finger to the middle of the next stretch of the beach. The elf could be a real brat. Nestled in a cliff-side nook, he sees a tower suspended above the ground, broken off two floors from the roof, surrounded by floating rubble. The structure rises and falls, gently, as if accompanying a deep inhale and exhale of the sleeping magic that supports it.
As they approach, the knight sees no obvious way up to the large, arching window at the base of the spire which — they both agree — must be its door.
“Dawn, can you fly us up?” he asks.
“Oh, that’s a wonderful idea, but I don’t actually fly, you know. My powers are more of a push and pull kind and I’m still an apprentice Sentinel. And you’re far too heavy for me anyway. Although I probably could shove you off your feet. Don’t worry, sir knight, I won’t do it now! That would be rude. Cato always says strength isn’t everything, and technique counts for a lot more, but in a situation like this-”
As they reach the beach below the window, the rubble surrounding it stirs — gently at first, then gaining speed. Dawn gives a yelp and scrambles in her pocket for Turcifa’s golden eye. The orb, heavily inscribed in an alphabet the knight does not recognize, rattles in her hand as the flying stones circle the structure and then assemble themselves into stairs, leading up to the lowermost window.
“This is more magical than I could have imagined,” Dawn gasps, before springing lightly up the steps first. The knight sighs and follows. The floating stairs sink a few inches under the weight of his armor. He decides he doesn’t like magic all that much. As he climbs further, he becomes very sure he is not at all fond of heights either.
The sounds of opening shutters and creaking hinges tell him Dawn is already inside, searching. Her voice, high with excitement, carries out through the windows.
“Oh, so many things to explore! Hurry! There are books and maps and lamps and dishes, and oh- a pie!”
The knight breathes a sigh of relief at the top of the stairs. Besides overflowing with arcane paraphernalia and a ladder leading to a second floor, he notes there are rodent-sized tufts of dust littering the worn wooden floor, peeling plaster, and a piss bucket standing in a corner next to a pile of dirty blankets that must have been the old man’s bed. Charming.
“Oh, how I love hoarders! On the Sentinel campus, I’m not allowed to have my own possessions. I know it’s wrong, but it makes me jealous of people who can decorate their homes as they wish and wear clothing that isn’t black. Black doesn’t suit me at all. It’s so somber.” She sniffs the pie, which consists of over-cooked fish and nothing more.
The knight grabs a satchel hanging next to the entrance, and walks up to a desk, careful not to knock his skull against ornate lamps and dried fish hanging from the ceiling. On a shelf above the desk, he sees maps, rolled up and piled one on top of the other. Those go into the bag first.
Next to the maps, he sees a compass which he grabs as well. Steadily, his bag fills with candles, wood polish, a set of iron tongs and a hammer, an oil lamp, a flask of paraffin, a rope, a flint, and a fire striker. Dawn, having unenthusiastically eaten a piece of the pie, scrambles up the ladder to explore the second floor with her own bag in hand.
As the knight casts about the rooms for anything else that might be useful, he notices a small lion-legged bronze box standing on a table. Light pouring from a nearby window reveals a grotesque little face sculpted into the middle of the lid.
“What’s inside that?” asks Dawn, coming back down the ladder. Her bag bulges with supplies and a thin golden chain is partially tucked into her jacket collar. The knight tries to open the box, but it is tightly shut. Adamant, he pulls on the hinges again and nearly drops the box as a high, metallic scream emanates from inside it. Dawn jerks in fright, dropping her bag.
“Robbers! Looters! Shoo!” the box wails. “Get your hands off me. My beloved master Turcifa will curse you once he finds out!”
Bewildered, the knight sets the box back on the desk. “Turcifa is dead,” he says.
The box falls silent.
Dawn peeks from behind the knight’s back, overtaken by pity. “We met at the beach about two hours walk from here. He invited the knight to his home when a creature attacked us. Of course, we fought bravely, but weren’t able to protect him and he... passed.”
“No!” the box screeches. “I will avenge my master! My lovely Turcifa didn’t deserve to die by the hand of that abomination. Unacceptable!”
“Oh, poor thing! We’re so sorry about your master, box sir.”
“My name is the Case of Companionship! Master Turcifa called me Compie.”
“Nice to meet you, Compie. We were heading to the monster’s lair before continuing our epic journey. Would you like to come with us?”
“Out of the question,” the knight interrupts.
“I don’t travel with strangers,” Compie says.
“I’m Dawn of High-Hauran and this here is… Sir knight. He’s an Eternal Knight, but he’s lost his memory and he doesn’t know what his name is. I’ll vouch for him though.”
“Doesn’t know his own name? Humph. As I said, I don’t travel with strangers.”
“You know,” Dawn turns toward the knight who by now was considering dumping the box in the sea along with whatever is inside it, “I think the box is right. You should have a name, even if it isn’t your real one. How about…” She crinkles her forehead. “How about Amnesis Seabourne? Get it? It has a sophisticated ring to it, don’t you think?”
Let us pause here, illustrious Fates. Picking a name for our hero is a momentous decision you, the audience, should have a say in. Besides, what could be more fun, than depriving a hero of control over his own name? Sometimes a name makes a man, sometimes it breaks him. Think carefully before casting your vote.
Option 1: The knight, in a display of supreme self-irony, picks Dawn’s name. “Amnesis Seabourne sounds like a fine name.”
Option 2: The knight focuses hard, trying to fish a name from the depths of his dormant past. He’s so close, he can feel it. “Call me Ren Londaar,” he says finally.
Option 3: The knight doesn’t think this is the moment to enter into the subject of his name. “The name’s Bob,” he says.
The chapter voting closes every Monday at 8:00 AM WEST (Lisbon, Portugal time).