RealLife(TM) work followed me home, not much, but I was off the clock, which sucked. I’m trying to make this a 4-5,000 word story complete by the time my CH proof copy gets here (irrational deadlines!) so that’s 1k words each night. That’s about what’s below the fold. Makes sense: my stories are characters and their interactions; this whole entry is Logres on his own, so, honestly, it’s a little boring. I had to get him halfway across Europe; now that that’s done, I hope he and Europa can show me what comes tomorrow!
Logres stood with his arms across his chest, looking north.
Those islands are called the Orkneys, he thought. A nod to himself, he turned right and continued his walk.
Europa had been expelled ages ago. He was still coming to terms with what she’d shared with him in her last moments in his land. Place-names, for example. He stared out at the North Sea. Yes, that’s what it is called. The dots on the map in his mind confused him: what were cities and towns? The lines that connected them? He saw none of that.
He paused. I am in Inverness. Turning in a full circle, there were only a few hills. Loch Ness was to the southwest; Moray Firth to the northeast. He saw nothing else.
Europa, he thought, what were you trying to show me?
One thing that she had shown him with her body became very important, very fast: swimming. He remained a little unsure how he used to move about the island, but with this body, his first attempt to walk across a river had proved a wet failure. It was fortunate his first failure had been shallow and he’d only stumbled in to his waist. He recalled her leaving him – as much as he did not want to – and how she moved her arms and legs, sweeping out and back. Copying that he shortly pulled himself up the bank on the opposite side. He resumed his walk.
“Ick.” After two steps, he stopped. His wet tunic felt awful. He had been getting used to feelings but awful was new. Unknotting the cord, he pulled it up and over his head. He remembered walking to the new beach with Europa; after a light rain, the breeze dried the fabric. Looking about, he tossed the tunic over a bush. Waiting for it to dry, he stared west, out at the Bristol Channel.
He thought of Europa. Whenever he did, a hollowness came to his chest.
I said I will come to her home.
You are ordered to watch the border.
I can see the border from the outside as well as the inside.
Only in one place; move from there, and you are not watching the border.
He thought of an unreasonable large number: those times he’d been around the island. He thought of the number four: messages from the Slow Ones.
I… won’t be gone long…
No one said you could leave.
No one told me not to go.
He turned and picked up his tunic. It was dry. Off of him for the first time, he regarded the complex blue pattern across the heart: interwoven strands and knots. It meant nothing to him. Logres pulled it back over his head and tied the cord. He walked.
This time, he stood atop the chalk cliff, looking at the land across the sea. Every time he’d been around the island since she left, he’d gone down to where they first met, but she was never there. Hollowness.
He backtracked slightly – a first for him – to get down to the beach. He walked towards the cliffs and stared at the three piles of rocks. Hollowness.
He turned and walked to the water’s edge.
You must not.
After so many rivers on the walk south, he was older about his tunic: he removed it, rolled it up tightly, and tied it to his back with the cord. He walked in to the water.
He was neither cold nor tired as he walked up out of the surf on the gravelly beach of the land across the sea. He turned back. The sky was not as bright as it could be but he thought he could just catch a glimpse of white. In what he now knew was the mid-way point he had stopped moving, unable to work his arms or legs. Just able to keep his head up, the current bore him south until he could move again. Nothing like that had happened to him before.
He considered Europa’s place-names.
“This is France,” he said. He let the map unfold in his mind as he did his tunic. East, she had said. How far? If he followed the coast, it would take him northeast. Now that he was following her, he wanted to see her as soon as possible. He walked up the strand, due east, his wet tunic over his shoulder. He would not wait.
Rivers, rivers, and more rivers: northern Europe, as he’d learned it was called, was all rivers, with the Rhine being the worst: very deep and very fast. He wondered: was the land named for her or she the land? He managed his first smile since she left. She was much prettier.
The land became hillier, the forests closed in. He was somewhere in the middle of Germany. After that, Poland, after that, Russia. How far east?
Coming over yet another ridgeline, he stopped. The valley below was just another one of the hundreds he’d seen. What was that?
Their tunics and cords were the only made things he’d beheld. Even the idea of ‘made thing’ was very strange to him. That meant what he saw all the worse for him: ten times taller than the tallest trees, a black, metallic wall stretched off north and south as far as he could discern. To some extent it followed the smaller rivers or ridges, but in places, even for the small section he could see, it had a logic all its own.
Was she beyond this?
No matter. He resumed his walk. Down into the valley then up closing on the wall. When he was no more than a few paces from it, he looked up.
More than one hundred and twenty times my height. No features, no hand-holds.
How far did it stretch to the north and south? He could go see, but that was time lost from Europa and from his home. He took the last few steps to the wall and placed his right hand onto it.
“Logres! You must not!” Europa cried in his mind.