The Quiet one

Nala — Nala S02 Session11

????, Earth Season, Stasis Week


Context
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Windsday – Nala, Tiwr and Zinat get a lift from a mysterious stranger [[[s02:session-11|Session 11]]]

Events

Nala wandered the night through rather uncomfortable mangrove and reed labyrinth. Sometime in the day she ran into a rather muddy and hysteric unicorn thanks to Zinat leading through yet another mosquito infested papyrus thicket.
Getting those fishermen to ferry you three over did not work. Thank Earth for that duck with his raft.1 “This charisma 20 is not pulling its weight. What duck?
Well soaking it overnight in mud, adding a whimpering wolf and less than maginificent unicorn who is complaining all the time and not talking the local lingo give some handicaps.

There is a duck who paddles a raft close to the shore you find yourself on.
Storm has passed but it is still raining.

And the duck knows tradetalk! Unlike the local hicks.
Talkative ducky that one.
Showed you a humongous talon embedded into some driftwood.
“A seatroll. And bloody big one too I tell you by the size of that thing.”
“Wonder if it is that brute that has been giving crab catchers grief in the marsh.”
“I saw it,” says Nala, wryly. “It is ((Praxian for “fucking huge”))
“Not from around these parts m’lady? I could tell. I have the beak for that kind of thing.”He taps his beak.
“Not that I would put where it don’t belong. Not me, not my habit. Live and let live and don’t mess with stuff that does not concern you that is my motto.” continues the duck without a pause
“So where did you say you and your pets come from?”
“I know locals and you aint one of them, and I know a bit of Grazelander and that is not that either.”
Spits in the water “Nor did it sound like bloody Pelorian.”
“But none of my business. And I understand quiet. Tightbeak they call me. Being so quiet you see.
“Tight. Beak. Like I keep my beak shut. A pun.”
“Pretty high. The water. Makes boating easy. As long as it lasts. When the Blue Moon goes down it is just some channels and stilts or clodhopping elsewhere.”
“And this ain’t a place for proper clodhopping either… not like Upland marsh. Not that Marsh up there would be exactly nice….”
“Ofcourse it is warmer down here. Rarely any ice. That is nice. But all the lice and mosquitoes and flies.” Scratches.
“When I first came down here I could not understand how anyone can live here.”
“You live from a little duckling to young dashing drake and you think you know your neighbours.”
A pause in flood of quacking.
“You really think you would know your neighbours.”
“She could not have done it without us you know. No way.”
“I can almost understand those Moonie bastards. Almost. We helped her hurt them and that pompous ass Fazzur, you see.”
Spit.
“My Tradetalk is bad. Who is “her?” Also, this is Tiwr, my life partner, and Zinat. Neither of them is a pet.” Inquires Nala when she has chance to get a word in.
“She ? Starbrow. Prince Kallyr they call her these days. Would not be nothing if it was not for us Ducks.”
“Ah, yes. I’ve been to Duck Point a few times.” notes Nala

“An’ over to the left, if you look, there’s a bit of calm water.”
“Good fishin’ there. I once caught an octopus that fought back, and nearly caught me. Good eatin’ on one of those things.”
Shake of head. “Eleven years. Eleven bloody years.”
“Not many places in this marsh I have not been at one time or another.”
“Have a place of my own. A little something stashed away.”
“Still a reeking dump. Rotting seaweed and all the crap of a city.”
“You eke out a living. But can you call it life?”
Spit. Pause.
“Beats having the price for your bill been taken by some bastard I guess.”
“Maybe. No – it does but you do get bitter…”
“Used to go with barges on Creek… Now fish and collect flotsam on the bay. Odd raft job every now and then.”
“You would not believe the half if I told you everything I’ve seen around here.”
“Probably not even if I just told you half. ” Cackle.
“You saw that Seatroll? I think it is usually closer to marsh. Close to the Old village. Crane village they called it before everyone left.”
“Close up. “ did you notice an older man with a younger woman in a boat? Has he been around? Talking to the troll? Please tell me he was eaten by something that disagreed with him.”
“We were trying to rescue the young woman, then storm and troll. For all I know we are the only ones left.” There is no emotion in her voice as she says that. Nala is in survival mode. It’s a wonder she remembers any Tradetalk at all.
“Young woman reeks of violet scent. You’d smell her a mile off.”
“When you say this was m’lady?”
Nala blinks at the sudden respect. “…tonight? Last night. They were ahead of us when the troll struck. I was wondering if he had hired the troll to kill us. “I’m sorry. Long heavy swim. Eats my Tradetalk.”
“Nah. Did not see anyone at night. “
“Too bad weather to be out you see.”
“Had I been out I would sure have seen anything there is to see. Owl eyes that’s what some people call me. On account of my keen sight at night you see. Hey that almost rhymes. Why three nights ago when it was calm I could see light coming way over the straights. Must have come from around Crane village I say. And that is right in middle of the marsh.”
“That’s how keen my sight is. You would not believe half of it I say.”
“Not that I would speak loosely or stuff that is not my concern. Tight beak that’s my motto.”
“I don’t say it is the Black Feather, no mam, not me. Tight beak I always say. Keeps you out of trouble it does.”
Nala is honestly confused. “Black Feather? Is that the name of the sea troll?”
“Does it speak Darktongue?”
Tightbeak leans conspiratorially forward. “Nah, Tightbeak is not fooled that easy. One does not talk loosely of Black Feather. It is not healthy to anger that duck.” And he taps his bill.
“But I don’t think that he’s been close to old village. For people used to capture crabs there you see.”
Nala re-evaluates rapidly. “But I’m sure you would tell me if the poor noblewoman we were trying to rescue were in danger from….that duck. I’m sure her family would help feather your nest for accurate info on her situation.”
Nala tries to look conspiratorial, then readjusts something on her armour instead. Totally nonchalant TM
“Can you trust them nobs, I just ask, no offence ma’am.”
” They ask the questions and take what they want and leave poor duck to face the results. No ma’am tight beak. Always tight beak.”
“I think you can trust most people to reward recompense for news that is to their definite benefit.” She stumbles over the words, trying to channel Varanis. Nala’s dark eyes grow damp. “ Oh, politics is so horrible. My friend is accused of kidnapping when it’s a horrible toff like you say, and there is no one to give us information because the sea troll ate our boat and…” a tear trickles down the mud on her in a fetching fashion. I’m sure I could get you recompense either for info that could clear my friend or damn that Garin…”
“…I don’t know if I have any other friends besides you left now.”
She holds Tiwr’s nose affectionately so he doesn’t speak.
” Now, now there ma’am don’t you be desolate.”
Zinat looks between Nala and the duck, then sits in front of Tightbeak and adds her big eyes to the plea, pawing his feet very very gently.
“Tightbeak is smart and knows these waters. And if that lass is on Delta she is almost certainly somewhere in the old village. If they don’t hold her on a boat somewhere that is. But that would be risk being stranded somewhere at low tide.”
” So Tightbeak don’t say she is in the Old crane village. But he would seek there. Only place with enough dry land to put a house on. Well on stilts that is.”
“And after the boats started breaking last season or so no prying eyes.”
Nala catches herself after expostulating “aha!” “Um, are there any ways I’m apart from rafts? Sturdy, dependable rafts like this one. I don’t suppose you would…take me there once I’m no longer a lump of mud? I have some money back at the palazzo2 oops, but too@late and I give my word I will not bring anyone I cannot vouch for. Oh. We haven’t been introduced. I’m Evranala Lightbringer, first daughter of a first daughter, from Prax.” 3 No idea how to intrigue!! Just throw everything at it!!
Nuke the conversation from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Zinat wags her tail happily at the duck, sure that he is her friend.
“Now ma’am this one is going to docks to be taken apart and made into boats.”4 failed intrigue passed charm by Nala

“But if you got money, I can pass the word to some dependable drakes I know and gather as many reed boats as are needed.”
“Nothing is better in these waters. They floats sweetly like a mallard, they do.”
“I have some money. Just not on me.” notes Nala
Except for this” She offers a purse which has about ten lunars in it.
Black eyes look at you steadily from the green head. ” I will not take money from a Lightbringer. Not the way I was brought up as duckling. But you can pay the others. Only fair if they risk their boats and livelyhood ma’am.”
“You’ll have to tell me what a fair price is. I will arrange for it. And I will tell D’Val the high Sword of Boldhome of the nobility of Tightbeak.”
“D’Val is a Sword?”
“High Sword of Boldhome after the fall of Eril.” Nala grins. Tightbeak isn’t to know that she’s grinning because Eril fell.
“I see. Good for him. ” News don’t seem to gladden the duck.
“I will also tell, should you wish it, of your nobility in the lands of the Zola Fel.”
“He’s lost an eye and , um, gained a bison, of course. If you prefer, I can bring the news to someone at Duck Point?” Nala isn’t filtering well. He will see that the offer to go to Duck Point costs her. He will also see that it is due to fear rather than dislike,
“I have left Sartar behind for good. “
“I Honour your words. Shall I tell the Zola Fel of you?”
“No need, Lightbringer.”
Nala smiles a genuine, full-wattage smile. “It would be my privilege, should you wish it. I like to tell stories of my friends and bring them to places that might not otherwise hear of them. But the Zola Fel is old and wise, and might consider it owes you a debt for saving me, who is sworn to one of her priests.”
Seeing Nala is happy, Zinat licks the duck and chases her tail for precisely one rotation.
“Whatever floats your boat, if that makes you happy ma’am.”

Nala is contrite. “I’m sorry. I’ve done this badly. I didn’t mean to. I’m bad with words.”
“Now look, now if you are Lightbringer, you have done enough with other means that other time” Pause and hint of uncertainty creeps into the voice of the drake “You would not make a fool of an honest duck?”
“I would not make a fool of you. You are my friend.”
“Here we are, close to the docks. How many boats do you reckon I should gather?”
“There are three of us, and probably five to seven besides.”
“Them reedboats ain’t really good for horses ma’am”
“I don’t wanna be a goat!” Wails Tiwr.
Nala comforts him. “Sorry. I made some reed boats for a heroquest. Tiwr got shapeshifted. A bit.”
They were very bad reed boats. I am glad of your friends’ help.
Duck eyes the talking horse-goat with deep suspicion. Sartarites think goats are demonspawn. Talking horned horse talking of being a goat seems to be a bit much.
“He is a unicorn,” explains Nala. “A magnificent specimen.” She kisses his nose. “They are full partners in our tribe.”
“If you say so ma’am.”
Voice lacks conviction.
“Me and lads will be here on the morning.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry you got me and not somebody who, is better at using words than I am.” Nala looks sad, then leans down and gently kisses him on top of his head, then looks embarrassed. “What is a fair fee?”
” 2 queens pennies per boat per day.
“Done.”
” We aint fighting mind you.”
Nala looks awkward. “ oh, I dare say we’ll have that covered.” and hops to the pier followed by happy Zinat and at this time less than magnificent looking Tiwr.