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[Story] Gullflight's Long Journey

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[Story] Gullflight's Long Journey Empty [Story] Gullflight's Long Journey

Post by Leanan on Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:24 pm

Note: I have made some edits to make the story flow better, and removed the references to the storytelling situation.

I have also finished the story - Snaketwist didn't have time to tell about the last three islands, but I have finally written that bit for this version.


Gullflight's Long Journey

Gullflight was a young lad who had a head full of dreams and a heart brimming with curiousity. He wanted to know the names of all the stars and the stories of all the ancestors that had gone before, but above all, he wished to learn what lay over the ocean, beyond the horizon. No one had ever sailed there, our ancestors came from another direction.

So Gullflight built himself a boat with a leather sail, and stocked it with a barrel of fresh water and a big storage of food in bundles covered with wrapstuff. He named the boat 'Skimmer', as it was narrow and sailed fast. He said his farewells to friends and family, and sailed off into the horizon on a bright summer morning.

(As to how he got a leather sail, Gullflight's father, Mountainsong, was unusual for one of the SeaFolk in that he hunted in the forest. He was a big elf, almost as tall as Kaimeta, and twice as wide, but a childhood accident caused him to fear the sea. There is a full story in his life, but for now it is enough to say that the leather of Gullflight's sail came from Mountainsong's kills, mostly deer. )

At first the going was easy, and the weather favored his venture. But on the fourth day of open seas with no land in sight, there came a huge storm. Gullflight took down both sail and mast, and used the sail to protect the boat from getting filled with water. He tied all his gear in place securely and lay under the sail, tossed about by all the elements of sky and sea and the raging storm, feeling helpless and more than a little seasick.

Eventually the storm passed, and Gullflight, exhausted beyond measure, was rocked to sleep by the rolling waves. When he woke up, the sun was shining, and he was in the middle of an expanse of ocean, the surface of which was as smooth and quiet as a tide pool, not a wave in sight. He could see his own reflection on the water, so calm it was.

Fortunately, Gullflight had brought a set of oars, too. He ate some of his food, drank a bit of water, and then waited until the sun sank low enough to show him which way was Sun-Goes-Down, and then he headed, not towards home, but the opposite direction, for he had no intention to give up his search.

Gullflight rowed for all evening and most of the night. Towards the morning, a wind finally rose, enabling him to use the sail again. As the sun rose, it revealed, quite near, not one island but two, close together, yet with a strait between them. Birds cried in the air, and he could smell the earthy scents of a forest on the wind.

He adjusted his sail, and was soon able to set foot on the first of the two islands. The sand on the shore was different from ours - it was dark gray, almost black. On that black sand Gullflight saw creatures that resembled lobsters, but were blue in color, and seemed to dwell on the beach rather than in the ocean. There was a multitude of them, so that it was hard to even walk up the beach without stepping on them, which he tried to avoid, for their pincers looked quite dangerous.

Gullflight managed to get off the beach and into the jungle. There, he saw some familiar trees, and others that were new to him. He found some coconuts and other fruits he knew to be edible, and enjoyed a meal of them. Birds were calling to each other in the canopy, and most of their sounds were strange to Gullflight. Those of the birds he saw were brightly colored, and like no birds he had ever seen before.

As he was walking along what seemed a forest path, something sticky dropped on his head from the branches above. It covered his face and stuck to his skin. He reached up with his hands and tore it off. Some pain remained on his face, although he wasn't sure how the creature had hurt him. And as he tossed away his attacker, he finally saw its shape. It was an octopus of some kind. And octopus that lived on land and attacked from the trees!

Gullflight explored the island some more, and managed not to get attacked again by octopi or anything else. He found no signs of inhabitants. At the center of the island there was a volcano, which explained the black sand. He gathered some coconuts and other fruit and loaded them to his boat. Finally, he took his boat and rowed to the other island. There, similarly to the first one, the beach was full of the blue lobster-creatures. He walked into the jungle, keeping an eye on the canopy in case of another surprise attack.

The jungle on this island was different, though. Every tree and shrub was covered in something that resembled some kind of dangling blue moss. The trees seemed to be suffering of it - their leaves looked yellow, somehow diseased. Gullflight did not like the forest, something was wrong with it. This island also had a volcano at the center. There was also a spring full of good, clear water, and Gullflight fetched his water barrel and filled it from the spring. Then he left the pair of islands, and sailed away again, for he was still yearning to see more.

Gullflight sailed a long way, a full eight of days, without seeing any other islands. Sometimes, dolphins kept him company by playing in the water along his boat. Twice, he saw a giant whale blow out water on the surface. Gullflight fished from his boat to save his supplies for when they would be needed. He also collected rainwater whenever possible.

After this time, there finally came another island to explore. It was a large but flat one, clearly without a volcano. From afar, the sand glittered white and shiny, reminding him of home. He wondered what he would find there.

Gullflight sailed closer to the island, and noticed something alarming. Smoke was rising from several locations near the shore. He sailed yet closer, and saw boats on the shore. Closer again, and he heard a shrill cry that meant nothing to him, yet felt different from the cries of birds."

He could have turned back, and it might have been a wise decision. But Gullflight was young, wisdom was something he hadn't yet aqcuired in plenty. He sailed his boat closer, rowed to the shore, and pulled up his boat beside those already there. Someone came to greet him from the edge of the jungle.

It was a human male. His skin was black as the night sky and he wore a wide hat made of straw, clothes of brightly colored fabric, and a lot of jewelry made of small seashells and pearls. Gullflight greeted him politely, knowing the words would not be understood but the meaning might, and spread open his hands to show he had arrived without weapons.

The human smiled, and spread his hands likewise, then spoke words that Gullflight didn't understand. Other humans arrived, a whole tribe of them - they must have been waiting under the line of palm trees on the edge of the beach. A female offered Gullflight half a coconut with bright liquid inside. Gullflight thought it was coconut water and drank it all in one go, then started coughing because although it might have had coconut in it, it also had quite a bite - stronger perhaps, even, than dreamberry juice.

The humans all laughed at this, and it seemed they accepted Gullflight as their guest. He did not know if they thought he was a kind of human too, or if they had known elves before as friends. They took him to a village made of many little huts, and gave him all kinds of strange things to eat and drinks to drink, and many of the drinks were the kind that make one's head dizzy. Some took it as their task to teach him their language, while others just talked at him, seemingly not caring that he did not understand. Some of the young human lasses performed a dance to the beat of drums, one old man sang songs in a mournful voice - it was quite a celebration, and Gullflight thought maybe they didn't get visitors often, living here in the middle of the wide ocean.

Finally, Gullflight fell asleep from all the celebration and the heady drinks. In the morning he woke up, and it was the worst awakening of his life. He had been bound with ropes, tightly, and could not move his limbs at all. He started shouting, hoping his new friends the humans would release him. Some of them did turn up - young males with long spears. Instead of releasing him, they told him with gestures to be quiet. One gave him a bit of water to drink. After a while, the man who had first greeted him, the one with the pearl and shell jewelry, whom Gullflight guessed to be their chief, came to talk to him.

Gullflight did not understand most of his words. But the human seemed to be apologizing. Gullflight gathered that something bad would happen soon. The human left. The young guards remained. There was a feel of waiting. After what felt like a long time, there was a shrill cry, similar to the one he had heard when approaching the island. Boats came to the shore, and many human males got out.

These looked different to the inhabitants of the island. The newcomers were taller, more muscular, and their skin was more brown than black. They wore leather loincloths, feathers in their hair, and jewelry made of the teeth of daggerteeth. Each one carried a spear and shield. They approached the island chief, and it seemed the chief was frightened of them. After a bit of discussion, Gullflight's captors gave him to the newcomers. They took him to one of their boats, along with some other things the islanders seemed to have given them: food, mats woven out of reeds, jugs of something liquid.

Gullflight's new captors rowed away from the island, and Gullflight thought he'd never get back home; his boat, Skimmer, was left behind. The tall humans rowed a long time, and all that time, none of them spoke to each other or their prisoner. Finally, they reached an island. It was another volcano island, and there was smoke coming out from the crater of the volcano. They landed on the shore, and Gullflight was carried to a village. Humans stared at him from the doors and windows of large huts. Children sneaked closer, trying to get a better view of him, then darted off when the young warriors glared at them. Gullflight was taken to a small hut with no windows and a dirt floor. He was given water and some fruit to eat, then left alone, with one of the warriors guarding the hut, standing outside in the doorway.

Gullflight waited in the hut a long time, or so it felt. Suddenly, the earth shook, and he could see from the doorway that it was raining ash. He guessed the volcano must be erupting. There was shouting outside, angry voices as well as fearful ones. The warriors came into the hut again and untied Gullflight's legs so that he could walk. He thought that they must have some pity for him at least, to take him to safety from the volcano's wrath.

But instead, they led him up to the fiery mountain! There were four of the warriors guarding him, and one man who was giving them orders. This last one was dressed differently; he wore clothes made of palm leaves and a huge mask of a snarling, angry face, that covered not only his head but most of his chest as well. From what could be seen of his body, Gullflight guessed him to be an older man.

The warriors were recluctant to go up the mountainside, quite understandably, as the volcano was spewing smoke, ashes and sparks. But they seemed to be even more frightened of the masked man, even though he had no weapon. Finally they came to the edge of the crater. Smoke was everywhere in the air, it was hard to breathe.

This was when Gullflight realized his fate. The humans, for some superstitious reason, were going to throw him into the crater of the volcano! He had heard of humans in old stories, they were always worshipping weird gods that yearned for gifts of blood. He became very afraid.

And the men would have thrown him in, he was sure, but the mountain shook again, more violently this time, and the masked man lost his balance and fell into the crater himself! Gullflight could hear him screaming for a while, and after there was no noise, the echo of that scream stayed inside his head.

The young warriors looked at each other. And then they looked at Gullflight. And then they looked at each other again, and spoke some, and bowed down to the ground in front of Gullflight! He was not sure what they believed him to be, but he was relieved when they cut off the ropes. The volcano, by this time, was starting to spew lava, so they all ran down the mountain, to get to safety.

In the village, people were busy packing their most valued things, as well as food and water, to boats. Space was made for Gullflight in one of the boats. Soon, the whole tribe was rowed a little way away from the shore, where they watched, in safety, while the volcano erupted in fire, smoke, ash and lava. It seemed to Gullflight this was something that had happened before, and would happen again.

The volcano erupted for almost two days. During that time, the humans lived in their boats, and shared their food and water with Gullflight. They seemed to be afraid to speak to him or to come too close, even in the crowded space in the boats. Finally the fiery mountain quieted. The humans waited some more, then rowed back to their village.

Fire had spread on the island, and there was a thick layer of ash covering everything. Parts of the village had burned badly. The humans started cleaning and rebuilding. Gullflight sat under a palm tree and sighed. What would become of him?

Some time later, an older human male came to talk to him. To his surprise, he spoke the language of the people on the white sand island, which Gullflight could understand a little. The man asked what he wanted to do. Gullflight managed to explain that he wanted to go back to where he came from. The man just nodded, and left him.

It took a few more days, during which the humans continued to feed him but still wouldn't talk to him, until he was told to go to a boat with some of the young warriors. He hesitated, but the older man told him they'd take him back.

The humans did indeed take him back to the white sand island. Instead of greeting the locals, they just left him on the beach and rowed away again. The black-skinned humans were astounded to see Gullflight again. They seemed frightened of him, too. Gullflight had had enough of humans. He asked them to give him supplies for a journey home, and they obeyed, as if he was one entitled to command them. He was relieved to see his boat, Skimmer, hadn't been damaged. He loaded up the supplies and left the island, wondering what kind of stories the humans would tell of him.

Gullflight then set forth to sail back home – but the ocean had other plans for him! Another storm brewed, worse than the first one, and took him far off course. He took down his sail as fast as he could, and covered the boat with it like the previous time, but this time, it was not enough. The waves tossed and turned him and the sky raged. Finally a bolt of lightning struck his small boat, and he lost consciousness.

Gullflight woke and was surprised to be still among the living. He was laying on the sandy yellow shore of yet another island, where he seemed to have been deposited by a retreating high tide. He coughed out some salt water and got up. There was a jungle on the island, full of bird cries like one'd expect. Gullflight had the feeling that someone was watching him.

He walked, a bit shakily, to the edge of the jungle. There he found seated on a stone a little human girl wearing a yellow dress, with a yellow flower in her long dark hair. He tried speaking to the girl in the language of the white sand island, but she made no sign of understanding. Nor did she speak in return.

He looked around but there did not seem to be other humans anywhere nearby.

The little girl looked at him more, then took out a little bag woven of reeds. From it she took two red fruits. She gave one to Gullflight and began eating the other one. Seeing this, and seeing the two fruits looked the same, he ate the fruit and found it delicious. He noticed the little girl did not eat the seeds of the fruit, so he took them out from his, also, and on a whim, he put them in his pocket.

The girl got off the stone and took Gullflight by the hand. She was trying to take him somewhere, but he did not trust humans anymore and refused to go. The girl was much smaller than him, so she could not make him move. Finally the girl spoke some unintelligible words that sounded way too rude for one so small, folded her arms angrily, and stormed off by herself.

Gullflight returned to the beach and tried to find any trace of his poor boat Skimmer. But all there was was sand. The beach twisted and turned this way and that, making it hard to determine the shape and size of the island. Finally he found his own footsteps, and seeing them, knew he had walked all the way around the island, back to where he started.

He was not particularly surprised to find himself boatless – the storm had been harsh. Seeing as it was getting dark, he made himself a shelter from some palm leaves, and slept, tired from the day's ordeal.

In the morning, Gullflight woke and found himself sleeping under a soft cloth blanket, with an equally soft, feather-stuffed pillow under his head. He looked around, expecting to be in some new place, but found that he was still in the shelter he built, and also that there was some food in a bowl beside him. He felt a bit suspicious, remembering the wiles and cruel tricks of humans, but finally the delicious smell of the food won him over, and he tasted just a little. It was cooked meat with fruit and spices in it, salty, peppery and sweet at the same time. He ate it all, greedily.

Gullflight began to build himself a new boat. He made tools of stone, hunted animals to eat and to skin for a new sail, and cut up trees to make the boat itself.

Now and then he would find little gifts in his makeshift shelter. Food, sometimes clothing, once two stones of the kind that when hit together produced the spark for a fire. During his stay on the island he never again saw the little girl, or any other human, but her tiny footprints could be found on the sand, leading to Gullflight's shelter and back to the forest's edge, where they vanished in the underbush, every time some gift had been left for him. He guessed the girl lived somewhere in the jungle, but he did not go looking for her, fearing the adult humans that surely must be around too.

It took many eights of days with the simple tools he had, but finally, the new boat was finished. It was of cruder make than Skimmer, and the sail smelled a bit weird in wet weather because he had poor skills in tanning, but it would suffice. Gullflight named it 'Homegoer' because that was what it would do.

He departed on a sunny morning. Looking back at the island, he saw to his surprise that the little girl stood on the yellow sand shore and waved goodbye at him. Hesitating for just a heartbeat, Gulldflight waved back at her.

Gullflight tried his best to head for home, but his sense of directions was just a little off. He sailed on open seas under a burning sun for a long time, and ran out of water. He had taken supplies from the island, but with no preserver to wrap food, some of his storages had spoiled in the sun. When he threw them away, daggerteeth thronged around Homegoer, hungry for elf flesh.

Another volcano island loomed up, and became Gullflight's salvation. There were no humans in there, and soon after landing, he found a spring of clear water and drank to his fill, also filling his waterskins.

But something found him just as quickly. A forest cat, smaller than a panther but still quite large, came to the spring, to drink, hunt or both. Gullflight, still feeling dizzy, fought it with his knife, and scared it off by injuring its paw. He knew he was not safe on this island, so he picked up only as much fruit as he could carry, and departed for the sea again.

He stopped only once after that, to get more food and water when his stores ran out. There was nothing remarkable about that last island, except that while exploring it, Gullflight found a rock wall that was painted with red and black. The paintings were of animals, and of humans with spears in their hands. There was also one side of the wall were there were lines of handprints in red. Gullflight was wondering about the meaning of all those five-fingered hands when he noticed a strange thing: one of the hands had been smaller, and only had four fingers like his!

Other than the paintings no trace of humans remained, and to this day that four-fingered handprint remains a mystery.

Gullflight was finally successful in mapping his route home. He returned to High Cove and was welcomed warmly by his friends, family and tribemates. They had a celebration and he told them this story of his travels. Gullflight lived on and had many other adventures, but never again did he set sail towards unknown seas. He knew, now, what lay beyond the enticing horizon. He inspired many of the tribe's young to travel, though, in his time and times after.

One more thing must be said of Gullflight: He remembered the seeds of the red fruit in his pocket, and gave them to Moonflower, the treeshaper, who grew from them many plants that yielded that same red fruit as harvest. And even now we grow that plant and eat from it, and it is the one that we call Meadfruit.

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Post by WolfCandy on Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:41 pm

Loved it so much! It has all the air of a true legend! Very Happy

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Post by Delhya on Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:15 pm

<3 excellent!!! cheers

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Post by Leanan on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:43 am

Thanks guys! Very Happy

I was inspired by the type of folktales called 'traveller's tales', by the movie 'Life of Pi', and by the kind of adventure books about travellers in exotic locations that I grew up reading. Oh, and I borrowed the tree octopus from Terry Pratchett. Razz

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