Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Sixteen: Fisher Folk and Naims (Cont’d)
Previously: Freshly arrived in the island kingdom of Sur Kellan–and recently saved from drowning–Gina and Zack were led to a building labelled The Screaming Spiffwit.
(See below for a Glossary of SurKellish words*)
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The Screaming Spiffwit turned out to be an inn with a prominent wooden sign depicting an absurd-looking bird with tiny wings and huge feet. It was at the seaside edge of a long narrow block that curved steeply upward toward dark, forested hills. The buildings were made of deep wefted wood, with roofs tiled in scallop shells the size of dinner plates. Long copper-cuffed poles hung out over the doorways, and at the end of each was a chocolate kiss-shaped lantern with a thick glass bottom that threw a pool of warm oil-burning light onto the cobblestones below.
Several more streets spoked out from the hub that was the town square, or rather half-circle—for where the remaining spokes would have been was Kellansend Bay and the ocean beyond.
As they approached the entrance to the inn, Zack spotted several toy wagons in the shadows to the left; they were tethered to what appeared to be tiny horses.
To the right of the entrance, Gina noticed a delightful little statue of a bird just like the one on the sign. She bent over to take a closer look.
“Care, chelding,” Shelcor warned, “not fond a’ humans are spiffwits.”
It was too late. The statue’s eyes popped open. It jumped forward and began a strange little stomping dance on the tops of Gina’s feet, which would have been merely ridiculous if its soles hadn’t been lined with something very like football cleats. It batted its tiny flipper-wings and danced vehemently, all the while emitting shrieks that were disturbingly similar to those of a screaming child.
“Ow!” shrieked Gina. “Ow! Stop!” She stepped back, but the spiffwit stayed with her. “Ow! Ow! Stop it!”
“Gully shekkle!” Maerith barked at the little creature. “Gully shekkle!”
The spiffwit ceased its frenzied dance and stepped back. It shivered and snuffled like a freshly calmed toddler. Maerith bent over and stroked under its beak while whispering in a soft, soothing tone, “Shoogully, shoogully, boorka.” The bizarre little bird gradually closed its eyes and turned statue-like once again.
“Yer’ve not been ter Sur Kellan afore, traith, cheldings?” asked Shelcor.
“Traith,” Zack replied.
Thoughts: Have you ever visited a culture so outside your previous experience that everything, even the animals, seemed “alien”?
A brief Glossary of SurKellish words: Sur = south; Kellan = isle of Kells; Kellansend = a small port city at the southeast tip of the island country of Sur Kellan; chelding = child; gully = calm; shekkle = now; shoogully = be calm; boorka = little one; yer = you; yer’ve = you have; ter = to; traith = a truthful or wise saying
To read The Wishing Map 69, click here!