The Book of Dreams (Saxon Series) by Severin Tim

The Book of Dreams (Saxon Series) by Severin Tim

Author:Severin, Tim [Severin, Tim]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9780230766860
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 2012-08-01T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter Fourteen

I SPENT THE SEA JOURNEY to the Breton March lying on a pile of nets in the dank, foul-smelling hold of a Vascon fishing boat. The vessel pitched and rolled, and every time a wave crashed on deck above me the water dripped down through the deck planks. In the whirling darkness I dry-retched until I wished I would die.

The wali had warned that the voyage would be uncomfortable but he had understated the case.

‘The mountain Vascons are tough,’ he’d said, ‘but for sheer hardiness they are exceeded by the sea Vascons. They’ll set out from port in any weather if there’s profit in the trip.’ He should have added that he had paid the crew handsomely because the Bay of the Vascons, which we had to cross, is notorious for sudden storms and raging seas.

Husayn also arranged my travel across the Vascon lands which bordered Zaragoza. The guide who brought me to the ship took me through Pamplona, the region’s capital. The place showed all the scars of a fought-over frontier town with a battered city wall, stumps of broken towers like damaged teeth, and gates that had been repaired time and again. Conscientiously I made notes of these facts because I still regarded myself as a spy for Alcuin.

At voyage’s end, the Vascon fishermen set me ashore, wrapped in a sodden cloak, in a small, unnamed and deserted inlet on the Breton shore. They explained with gestures that I was to walk along the beach and around a headland to my left. It was a damp, drizzly morning, less than an hour after daybreak. Curtains of heavy mist drifted in from the sea, coating everything on land with a glistening wet sheen. Despite the dreary surroundings, I was very thankful to be finally off the ship, which hoisted sail and disappeared into the mist. I waited until the ground stopped tilting and swaying beneath me and then I set out in the direction they had indicated, slipping and sliding on the shingle, clutching the satchel, which contained the original Book of Dreams, my translation, and the purse of silver dinars the wali had pressed on me. All my other possessions, including my bow and sword, I had left behind with Osric and I had made him a present of the bay gelding.

I trudged round the headland, and there, immediately ahead of me, was a line of small boats hauled up on the shore and left upside down on wooden rollers to keep the rain out. Beyond them stood a row of fisherman’s shacks.

‘Piv oc’h?’ said a voice suspiciously.

A man dressed in a shapeless knee-length smock and a broad brim hat stepped out from behind one of the boats. He was short and broad shouldered. On his feet he wore thick wooden clogs. ‘Piv oc’h?’ he repeated, staring at me. He had eyes the same dull colour as the pebbles on the beach, and his face showed a week’s stubble. Drops of rain hung on his hat brim and ran in trickles off his smock.


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