Today’s snippet, titled “Reflections – Gelik #1”, is a piece I wrote about the Pathfinder campaign I’m running – “The Serpent’s Skull”.
Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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Gelik Aberwhinge sniffed, pressing a lavender and sage scented handkerchief to his nose. Well, handkerchief was a stretch. In reality, it had recently been a hunk of cotton cloth torn from the corpse of a crewman washed up on the beach. It was not as if the dead fellow had any need of it. He supposed he should have told someone about the bodies, but it was easy enough to push them back into the surf – after making certain that they carried nothing worth recovering.
It is not stealing, he told himself, It is merely salvage work. And imminently practical. And Gertrudina Aberwhinge did nothing if she did not raise tremendously practical children.
The smirk on his face died a heartbeat or two later, as a voice rang out behind him.
“Gelik, come break your fast, you weird little bugger!”
They were all, always calling for him with demeaning little terms like that. Weird little bugger. Ponce. Poof. Uppity gnomish fop. Fruitcake. Daffodil. Sometimes, despite his better nature and his grim determination to make the best of an untenable situation, Gelik wanted to slice their throats while they slept.
He never would, of course. And not just because he had no weapon to hand. Murder was not in his nature. Plus, it was messy.
No, he would find a way to get his petty revenge on their childish jests without dirtying his hands. Perhaps he could find a way to financially ruin them on the mainland, or humiliate a loved one. Something classy and… elegant.
Padding across the warm sand with bare feet, Gelik tucked the makeshift handkerchief into his belt. The prisoner was in excellent spirits, as usual, humming as he worked around the fire. He had typical Sargavan sensibilities when it came to food – highly spiced, often charred on an open fire, rustically plated. No discernment, no finesse, no refinement, he thought, dropping to the sand with a grunt. Here it is, a beautiful hunk of tuna fresh from the sea… well, fresh a few day ago. And what has he done to it? Not lightly marinated and thinly sliced, served raw or lightly seared, as they do in civilized coastal regions. No. He’s daubed it in those wretched little seeds two centimeters thick and blackened the whole thing until it is practically a lump of coal!
“…and served on a leaf,” he muttered to himself, lifting the whole thing to his mouth for a sniff and a bite. Surprisingly, the fish tasted better for the thick crust of plum-colored seeds. In lieu of salt and cracked pepper, the nutty burst of flavor was nice. “Jask, must you burn every bit of food you touch?”
The prisoner chuckled, sitting back on his haunches. He liked to squat by the fire, digging his toes in the sand and eating with no knife or other implement, just his hand. Everyone else, even Ishirou with his foreign Tiannish ways, made use of the few small eating knives or daggers they had recovered. Sasha liked to flick her knife up, nearly cutting off her nose in her quest to slice off a bite, but that was a common enough practice amongst pirate-y types. Barbaric. Savages, Gelik sniffed. Ishirou had fashioned a pair of long, narrow sticks to eat with, and used them with a grace Aerys had not yet mastered. But the elf liked the idea of not touching the food with her hands – no matter how often she scrubbed them with sand and seawater, they were never quite sanitary enough for her.
“That was the last of the tuna the Hrothgar girl caught. To be honest, I think it may have already gone off, but with a small blessing from Nethys, a hearty portion of Sesa seeds, and the application of a good bit of heat – I think we’ll survive the meal.”
Aerys picked at the meal with the sticks. “Who is going out to get food then?”
“We will!” Sasha said, rubbing her little pet’s scaly head. “Won’t we Babalachella? That’s my good widdle bitty baby Babsie-wabsy. We will go find lots of food and maybe get you a big tasty jungle rat to chew on. Wouldn’t that be yummy-wummy?”
Gelik rolled his eyes and groaned. “We’ve naught enough food for the five of us. Why are you feeding that disgusting little varmint?”
“Don’t you call my Babsy-wabsy a vermint, toad-licker-”
“Toad-licker is a slur best served to a halfling or something. Gnomes are not known for-”
“Whatever,” Sasha pulled a face. “You’re gross. There’s a whole island of food here. Babs will help me find it, you just watch.”
“Do you think it is wise to call him Babs? You shall only be aggravating the girls. There is no profit in it.”
“Listen, Gelik Fatterwhiner-”
“It is Aberwhinge. Fatterwhiner does not even make any sense, Sasha.”
“Listen, peck,” her tone changed, her eyes narrowing. “I’ll call you what I want. Deal with it. And I’ll call my pet what I want. Deal with that, too. And, if I want to, I’ll feed Babs here all of your portion of the food we find. Suck it.”
Gelik curled his hands into tight fists and averted his eyes. It would not do to get into a physical brawl with the ginger-haired bitch, after all. He decided then and there that he would be responsible for his own food. And his own everything. Fuck Sasha, and fuck the rest of them too. I hope Lars and Julius hurry back. I don’t think my sanity will survive another six days with this collection of idiots. If they find something impressive, perhaps I can parlay that into readmittance to the Society… perhaps getting shipwrecked here was not the worst thing that ever happened to me, after all…
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Note: Images are “Nessie” by (dsidwell), Ruins at Chicen Itza by (BenEarwicker), and Goat Skull by (humusak2) from SXC.hu; edited by me