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The Wishing Map
Chapter Sixteen: Fisher Folk and Naims (Cont’d)
Previously: Zack and Gina were saved from drowning by a man and woman dressed in heavy seal-like skins.
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Within ten minutes, brother and sister were able to stand. They were completely dry. How could the man and woman have so thoroughly dried them with nothing but their sleeves? Gina and Zack stumbled over slick round stones toward the cobbled square at the edge of town, aided by the fisher folk; at least that’s what they assumed they were, since the bay was full of fishing sloops with upturned bows and strange seal-tailed sterns.
It was only as they drew nearer to town that the Dores got a clear view of the man and woman who’d rescued them. Far from being leathery old fisher folk, they were young and unexpectedly graceful. Their distinctive ankle-length coats had close-fitting hoods, well suited to facing storms at sea.
The man was sinewy and strong, and nearly seven feet tall; there was an angularity to his face that was unconventional, yet completely appealing. His indigo-black hair hung in ringlets around the edges of his hood. His almond eyes were lantern yellow; they were kind, Gina noted, but unlike any she’d ever seen in a man.
“Shelcor is as folk call me,” he said, “an’ she the wife a’ my heart.”
The woman was disarmingly beautiful. Her copper-colored hair sprouted like a harvest from beneath her hood, cascading over her shoulders; her brow, cheeks, and nose were of a piece, perfectly sculpted, strong but feminine; her eyes were meadow green and, like her husband’s, full of kindness.
“It’s Maerith as I’m called.” Well past six feet tall herself, she extended her arm over Gina’s head and stroked her husband’s face. “An’ he all my hope an’ happiness apart from Uol.”
“Nay gift, I, but the receiver,” said Shelcor, caressing his wife’s hand. “But see how yer cheldings quail. Come. Yer can soak up fire at the Screaming Spiffwit.”
“Yes, please,” Gina said in Kellish, “that would be terrific!” Her teeth clattered as she spoke.
Shelcor looked at her with concern: “Nay cause for ‘terror,’ chelding. It is but a lee hearth I spake of.”
“Um…right,” said Gina, realizing English did not transliterate well into Kellish, “I meant that it would be wonderful.”
“Ah, traith,” Maerith said, “if yer’ve the heart ter see, all is a wonder.”
“Traith,” Shelcor echoed.
The fisher folk began to peel off their heavy ankle-length coats. Now that they saw these in the light, Zack and Gina realized they must be made of animal hide, for they were covered in short fine-grained fur. Although it was hard to imagine these gentle giants killing otters or seals.
Maerith and Shelcor placed their coats beneath the low wall that separated the beach from the cobbled square. They carefully covered them with rocks, leaving no sign whatsoever of their presence, then stepped up onto the pavement and strode brusquely toward the town.
Gina and Zack hesitated. Were they supposed to follow?
“Not exactly verbose, are they?” Gina observed.
Zack shrugged and said, “’Screaming Spiffwit?’”
Thoughts: Have you ever met someone so unique that they forced you to revise your mental list of “types of people”?
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