TSS: Reflections – Jask #1

      Today’s snippet, titled “Reflections – Jask #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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      “Six days,” Jask said, scrubbing the knife he had used to prepare breakfast with sand and seawater. “Six days of freedom. Six days of beautiful weather. Six days of warm water and plenty of food and shelter and friendly… ish people. Six days of fucking freedom! By the Eye of Nethys, life is good!”
      Jask shuffled around the campsite doing menial chores. He swept excess sand away with a broom made of huge palm leaves bound by twine. He stacked the driftwood they had collected for firewood in a place he thought would be safe from the rains, and then moved it all to a better location a few paces down the beach. He stripped naked and took a leisurely swim, not even worried about the eurypterids today, then knelt by a tidepool and beat his clothes against a rock.
      “What I wouldn’t give for some linen trousers and a cool cotton shirt, though. New, tailored. Not this torn-up set of rags.” Jask had been a snappy dresser, modest for all that he enjoyed style and color. The plain grey burlap pants and roughspun shirt were depressing reminders of his incarceration.
      Some men would have bitten their tongues, he well knew that to be true. And other men would have steadfastly testified against the corruption before a court, standing up for justice even as so-called justice condemned them a criminal, a liar, or wore – a traitor.
      Jask Derindi was many things, had been many things in his forty-three years, but he would have put out his own eyes before betraying Sargava. The country was more than his home, more than his former employer and more than his place of birth. The rivers and wetlands flowed in his blood, the rich loam was as his flesh, the implacable mountains his bones. Jask knew his ancestors had been converts from the start, given over to Chelish civilization rather than Garundi tribalism; they had formed alliances, labored to build the cities, been diplomats and barristers, teachers and explorers. His family, root to leaf, were Sargavan to their very quick.
      So when word came that he had been betrayed and was under arrest, Jask could not say why he fled. Perhaps he could not come to terms with the fact that his beloved nation was going to hang him as a traitor. Maybe he did not have the backbone that other men possessed. All he was certain of, was that if he stayed, everything he loved and had worked for all his life, would be dashed against the cliffs.
      “Maybe one of them four will take a letter to Eleder for me, when they find a way off this isle,” Jask said to a tiny, scuttering crab. The thing was only as wide as two fingers and as long as his pinky. “Mark my words, little fellow, they will find a way off. Good kids, that’s for sure.
      “I’ll have to write up a letter to Hadley. Can’t imagine what I’ll say after all these years. Never thought I’d be free to do it. But if they report me dead with the crew, I might even be able to visit Sargava again as a freeman. Could you imagine? I’d have to take up a new name, of course, but that isn’t so bad.” He watched as the little crab skittered away and then leaned his bare back against a rock. It was warm as Hadley’s embrace and he sighed. “If I had my druthers though, I’d walk back to town with my head held high and calling myself Wisdom Jask Derindi, Sargavan Priest of Nethys. Never want to hide who I am, after all. Maybe, if they find the Brine Demon out here… maybe.”
      Jask closed his eyes to take a noon-time nap in the shade. He tried to imagine what Hadley would look like now, twelve years later. Probably a bit rounder, a little grey like me. But still beautiful as a sunrise over Sargava. He could see her in his mind and felt the familiar stirring in his loins. Hadley Du Marier had always had that effect on him.
      When he tried to picture their three children, Amabel, Joseth, and Lennard, he found it much more difficult. Amabel would be sixteen now, all grown-up. A proper lady. Joseth, a year older, might be apprenticing as a clerk or barrister, or perhaps he had taken to the sea. That boy had always loved the ocean. The youngest, Lennard, would be just fifteen, but Jask knew that child’s future from the moment those huge brown eyes met his own. Lennard was destined to be a healer; his touch was gentle and his wisdom remarkable for one so young.
      “He’s an old soul, that boy of mine,” Jask said to himself, his chest swelling with paternal feelings he had not allowed himself to acknowledge in over a decade. “Will they even remember their old dad, you think? Will they any of them have a warm thought for me, who left them so long ago?”
      A tear slipped, unbidden, down his cheek and he hastily wiped it away and rose to dress. Wouldn’t do to have the others return to find him lazing about, bare-assed and weeping. They’ll expect something on the fire for supper, I suppose. Sasha isn’t back yet, so I guess it is up to me.
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Signed, Josie
Note: Images are “Nessie” by (dsidwell), Ruins at Chicen Itza by (BenEarwicker), and Goat Skull by (humusak2) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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