Yuri 40, 3rd Moon, 15th Sunday
I was fortunate to befriend Haggard, the tavernkeep in the fishing town of Hausson. Despite his gruff manner, his welcoming smile made me feel at home in the dimly lit tavern.
The journey here was highlighted by a wonderful boatride. I had just enough gold coins left over from purchasing my journal book in town to pay for the boat fare. It was late in the afternoon and according to the boatsman, I was his last ferry. He waited until I sat aft before settling in on the port side, paddles in hand.
"What brings you to Hausson at such a late time in the day, miss. Most of the other travelers come just after dawn to get first dibs on the early catches of the day. Some who come a bit later visit Min or Runag, but it is rare to find a traveler at this time."
I smiled, having to take a moment to decipher his heavy accent, which I attributed to the dialect of the region. "I am on a quest, actually. A vision quest in search of a truth." I then began to explain what I was set out to do.
He stopped rowing and simply scratched his stubbly chin, his head inclined to the side and his eyes squinting to combat the sun as it was descending. "Truth, eh? Well, for me, truths are from what happens around me."
I dipped my hand off the side of the boat, moving it in the water with cupped palm.
"You think you can get us to Hausson with just your hand as a paddle?"
I chuckled softly. "Perhaps, but that would be selfish of me to intrude upon your time. After all, you had said I was your last fare for the day.
He shifted in the boat, placing the paddles along one of the sides. He then retrieved what appeared to be canvas from the opposite side of the boat, unraveling it to reveal a crudely constructed pole and canvas sail, which he affixed to the middle of the boat. The lateral ends of the sail he then tied to the sides of the boat. Satisfied, he sat down once more.
"Truth is, we'll get to Hausson either way. The wind is behind our sail now, so no worries." A few moments passed and indeed the boat began moving easterly.
With time no longer a consideration and focus now on each other instead of propelling the boat to get to Hausson, we exchanged stories, mine from the circle and his about some interesting fares. So engrossed we became in our conversation that the strong lapping of the shallow waves nearing the shore alerted us to the fact that we had reached our destination.
I climbed out of the boat as soon as he anchored his boat upon a wooden dock. I thanked him for not only the ride, but the company and conversation.
"May the winds always be at your sail. Er, make that under your feet, unless you carry a sail around with you." He then tipped his hat and returned his attention to his boat, as I walked around in the direction of the tavern I had been given direction to.
"Winds under my feet." I smiled and opened the door to the tavern.
Yuri 40 3rd Moon 21st Sunday
I was roused from a fitful sleep by aromatic spices wafting through my small room. My body's automatic response was for my stomach to growl, almost as loud as the fish mongers selling their wares off the docks.
Cleaned and dressed in my spring gown, I descended the stairs to the sparce dining area in the tavern. Looking around, the rich aroma didn't come from within the tavern.
Haggard, just about to deliver fresh linens to the rooms upstairs, noticed the look of confusion on my face and gave a hearty laugh. "Ah, you must be hungry. Our kitchen isn't equipped to cook anything more than boil water. But Min always has good grub. Why don't you take a walk over to her place and try out Hausson cuisine?"
I thanked Haggard with a smile and headed out the door. Outside, the fishmongers were trying to outdo each others' bellowing to attract the attention of the many potential buyers at the docks. I took a deep breath, the delicious smell of fresh fish as well as some unfamiliar scents assailed my nose. My footsteps found their way to a small shop aptly named Min's. As if the wafting aromas wasn't enough, inside the clean shop the scents merged together in a symphony of pure delight to the nose. I think I could have gotten full just on the smells, just like when I was a child in my mother's kitchen on a Sunday morning.
"Look here, we got a new face in these parts. Welcome, dearie. My name's Min. Word of your arrival travels fast, but then again, we are a small community." She gestured to a bench by the counter. Throwing what looked like a dishrag over her shoulder, she asked, "Well, what will it be?"
I reached into the small pocket in my gown and extracted a few coins. "Surprise me with whatever these coins can pay for. I am eager to try the morsels which have been luring my nose here." I placed my spear upright beside me as I sat on the bench, smiling back amiably.
She gave me a broad smile in return and scurried to an adjoining room. I watched her disappear, then moved my head from one direction to the next, sniffing the various scents. I recognized the aroma of chicken to my left, confirmed by the half eaten plate in front of a burly man and of the slightly charred beef on the plate of another man slightly behind me at another table.
"Here you go, a little bit of everything." Min placed a platter almost double that of the ones I had seen at the other tables. "No time like the present to start trying and you can choose which you like best. I tell you, I may be biased, but I think it's all good." At that, a chorus of replies backing that statement came from the tables, some of the people even raising cups of ale in salute to the cook.
As I tried each wonderfully prepared course, Min pointed out what each was and how it was prepared. The windows were open and thus brought in the fresh air kissed by the water, further making each bite sublime. After trying each I had to decline the rest of the food. There was just too much, but not one to waste something which had much effort put into it, I asked if anyone else would like to partake. Min then took out a few sturdy pieces of what looked like paper, placing the rest of the food neatly in the center, and proceeded to fold the paper. When she was done, she had made a crude box of a bird in flight.
"There you go. Let it fill your belly later in the day. May the wind be at your back, propelling your feet back here once again."
"Thank you. Rest assured the winds will guide my feet back, just as the winds did this morning."