4.06 On The Sea

Varden is sitting on the deck of the ship, heading towards the underwater fortress they are hired to liberate.

He turns to the Drughu beside him and, looking at the sun glinting over the waves, says "I read about the sea, but I never imagined…"

"Never imagined what?" The Izûn-Zîn asked.

"Imagined the sea would be so empty and clean and … and big."

Izûn glanced down at the waves lapping against the side of the bilander. "It looks pretty full to me."

"I've seen the great empty to the East of the forest, and even that has more in it than this. There's almost nothing in the sky, and the surface is so flat and empty. It makes me feel … exposed."

"It's what lies beyond the surface that matters," the druid points out, "And there is more alive down there than you can imagine."

"I've seen fish before, I know about them, but there can't be that many of them. It must be very hard to live under the water, with all that weight crushing down on you - not to be able to soar freely…"

"Fish eat smaller fish, and those fish in turn eat yet smaller fish," Izûn tells Varden, "And so on down to the most minor creatures, that being so small number more than the stars. And in the water, all creatures are free to soar. The water lifts them up as much as it presses down on them. Try to tell the squid that she cannot soar."

"She can flop about all she wants, but she will never feel the wind in her tentacles, or smell the cedar in the forest, or hear the stars sing on a clear night. I feel sorry for these creatures, and the vastness in which they live."

The drughu gurgles a laugh. "She can fly through the water faster than you'll ever fly through the air. Just because you and I haven't seen equal wonders of the deep doesn't mean the surface world isn't matched in splendour below the waves."

"Whatever things are down there, I think I should not like to live in that dark, colourless world. I hope we are quickly able to dispatch what's down there and I can return to the fresh air and the company of the trees, and the birds that play in the sun." Varden has spent much time in the crow's nest, stretching his wings and keeping company with the seagulls.

Izûn nods, "it is only natural for a creature to long for his home."

Is that why Taylar misses his cave? Varden jokes.

Izûn turns to face Varden. "He is one creature I do not attempt to explain." His mouth widens into a smile "I wouldn't dare take that risk."

He's good for having fun with, and he's good for keeping in your corner, and he's a good pet for Tam. I find he's not as objectionable when I try to think of him acting in patterns of action/reaction, rather than deep contemplation or reasoned logic.I'm rather glad he's with us and not against us.

"Who knows why… but perhaps we should not question it."

Varden laughs to himself at the thought of flying squidses. "I think that I shall never see / a squid as lovely as a tree"

"Nor I," Izûn adds seriously, "but that's hardly their fault."

"Nor is it mine" says Varden, as he heads for the bow to spread his wings in the wind.

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