Festuscato: The Halls of Hrothgar
After 416 A. D., Outside the Western Roman Empire
Festuscato 1: Shipwreck
The clouds gathered, gray and dark on the eastern horizon, but the evening was near and Festuscato was not sure if the darkness got caused by a storm or the slowly fading sun. He considered the problem when his eyes became utterly taken by another vision. Mirowen came up from below where the seven horses, and two ponies sounded restless, even against the sound of the wind and the waves.
“Lord.” She acknowledged him in the way she did ever since they left Rome on this impossible journey. Long gone were the days of his childhood when she called him sweet names, and his teenage years when she called him spoiled brat.
“My Lady.” He responded and watched her walk to the bow to stand, statue-like; her habit of the past seven days. Everyone else watched as well and only returned to their various distractions after she came to a stop. Festuscato, held the tiller dead on and had nothing better to do than stare.
Mirowen’s long green dress flowed out beside her with the wind and made it seem as if any moment, the beauty might take to flight. She appeared, not so much a beauty one could point to, Festuscato decided, but more of an unearthly kind of something that made her impossibly attractive. It could be seen in the perfection of her form and figure, in the grace of her every gesture, in her long black hair and pitch black eyes, in her elvish ears with those perfect little points. Festuscato decided she needed a mate, if one could be found to match her perfection. Sadly, at present, all he could do was sigh for her and turn his eyes away. Besides, Hrugen seemed much more interesting.
Hrugen claimed to be a great Danish sailor. He volunteered to guide them safely through the waves, once he found out their proposed route would take them near his homeland. He said he had nothing against living in exile in Britain, but secretly, Festuscato imagined the man just got homesick. As Festuscato suspected, the man proved to be no sailor at all. In fact, Festuscato had started calling the man Gilligan, from time to time, even if that made himself the Skipper. Presently, Hrugen tried again to tie down the sail in the corner where it came loose and flapped, furiously. Gregor One Eye, the old Saxon, finally got tired of watching him and did it himself.
“I was about to do that,” Hrugen said, defensively.
“Nothing compared to what I was about to do,” Gregor said.
“Yes,” Festuscato thought. “Seven days at sea could be interminable.”
Gregor sauntered over to where Seamus, the Cleric and Bran the Sword sat quietly. Seamus wrote in his book, and Bran leaned on his sword, contemplating the cross. The first was a cleric in the true sense, a priest of the Irish, a present from Patrick. Bran was a puritan through and through, and also a present, given by Constantine whom Festuscato anointed as the first Pendragon to rule Britannia in the name of Rome until such time the Romans returned, if ever. Bran had been charged to defend the Senator’s life until Festuscato could safely return to his home along the Appian Way.
“What is it you write in that book of yours, anyway?” Gregor asked as he sat on the cleric’s other side where he could keep watch with his good eye. “You’ve been writing for seven days now and I have not heard a word except out of that other book of yours, that Bible thing.”
“I am keeping a record of our journey and adventures,” Seamus said.
“Adventures?” Gregor let out a hearty laugh. “Haven’t had any yet.” Bran, craned his neck a little as if to take a look, though he had not yet shown anyone reason to believe he knew how to read.
“If you must know.” Seamus spoke fast, corked his ink and set it and his quill in the pouch he always carried. “I have just written how we came into the Baltic from the outer sea yesterday morning, rounded the height of Jutland and came within sight of the coast which ran from horizon to horizon.”
“That’s all there is at sea. Just horizon every way you look.” Hrugen spoke as he joined the group. The others paused. For one minute, it appeared as if Hrugen might be sick, again. “I try not to think about it.” He finished, and looked down at his shoes.
Bran still craned. “It’s poetry,” he said. “It’s not supposed to make sense.”
Seamus shut the book even though the ink was not quite dry. “It makes sense,” he said. “It’s just poetic.”
“Latin?” Gregor asked.
“Of course,” Seamus said. “Just because we were wise enough not to get entangled with Roman overlords, doesn’t mean every Irishman’s an uneducated lout.”
“Quite true,” Gregor said with a big, friendly grin. “Well, partly anyway.”
Bran stifled a laugh and stood up for the cleric. “David was a poet. I’ll grant you that,” he said.
“A barbarian of high esteem?” Hrugen asked.
“A king for God’s people,” Seamus said.
“God’s chosen,” Bran said, almost at the same time.
“Which god?” Gregor asked, and then relented. “That’s right, you only have one, so you say.”
“The Danes know of the Alfadur.” Hrugen suggested.
“Can he protect my tools from salt water?” A new voice joined the group. Luckless the dwarf had come up from below where he hourly checked on his precious possessions. “Pray that they don’t all rust. Some of them were my great-grandfather’s, brought all the way from the mines of Movan Mountain.”
“But I thought your father was in the thick of it when the dwarf lords drove you out?” Seamus said.
“I don’t blame him,” Luckless said, with half a heart. “Got to seek my fortune. Besides, what would you do with a bad luck charm?”
The two Christians shook their heads. The other two, however, looked like they would throw the dwarf overboard in a minute if he was not under Lord Agitus’ protection.