Story for the Day: The Baracan
The Baracan is the famous boardwalk in Lucentia's capital, known for its exquisite brocades, fine market, and rare commodities, but amongst those in a different rank of life, the Baracan is the word for the Lucentian underground, managed by the current ruler of the kingdom, with agents in every corner of the continents. It is also the title of our next release, and its events will immediately follow those of The Leaf Flute. I wonder which meaning of the Baracan Danaco misses most.
The sun descended by smooth gradations toward the horizon, the apricity of day beginning to wane, and the blaze of ocher light began to slip between the sails of the Good Ship Myrellnos as CaptainDanaco walked along the pier, watching his crew regale in all the pleasures of early evening. Their animation and high revel, their willingness to include everybody in their games—even Bartleby—was a recommendation to how good-natured and amiable they all were regardless of the nothing-meaning impressions that their appearances might give. They were all engaged in setting up a round of Chiago, now that Mr Bellstrode was gone. He would have stayed the whole evening, to play at Creep-Colour and Pallisades until the rest of the day had worn away, but the vessel that was to take mr Bellstrode home to Marridon was leaving rather earlier than expected. The weather had proven to be uncommonly mild, and with moderate wind and a languid undulation in the water, they might be home in Marridon before morning. The threat of brigands and Livanese pirate vessels were nothing where saving half a day’s travel was concerned, and home to Marridon Mr Bellstrode was to go, his seal in hand, and all his limbs arranged in the proper order.
Danaco watched him from the pier, Mr Bellstrone saying his goodbyes in all the misery and disappointment of being to leave to soon. “Only think how terrified he was of them only hours ago,” Danaco mused. “I knew he should be monstrous fond of them in time, but they always are. Everybody who comes to know my men absolute dissipates over them, and they still put me in a passion betimes. They are all my affection-- Bartleby most of all, to be sure. He is such a petulant little skipjack. I quite rave over him, when he deserves it.” Here was an amourous sigh. “How I do dote on them,” said Danaco, shaking his head, “and how I sincerely hope I shall never be rid of them. Goodbye, Mr Bellstrode,” waving to him as the royal merchant hopped from one part of the wharf to the other. “Give my love to Marridon when you arrive. She has been a fair substitute for home these many years, and while I shall be seeing her sparkling seas, verdant downs, and delightful tea houses in time, business and dinner keep me longer away from her and all who reside within her arms than my desire for pleasant and civilized company should warrant.” He gave his hair a little flourish. “I should never like to be wholly domesticated, but I will be a vagrant while I can.”
He made a slight bow to the vessel that was to carry Mr Bellstrode home, and with a wistful air, he watched the Marridonian frigate flee its mooring and glide out of harbour. “I daresay we made his stay here more tolerable, did not we, my precious pet?” speaking to his ship. “We always do well by friends. I should not at all be surprised if, after being home and idle for week, Mr Bellstrode were to send me a message, begging to be my cabin boy. We are behindhand in having a frock on board, and he should made a fine piece. You shall not mind it, I know,” speaking again to his ship. “I have little to lament over in general, but I must have a somebody to look at from time to time, and as much as I love every one of my darling men, a change in the furnishings is always pleasant.”
Danaco stood at the edge of the pier and watched the Marridonian vessel begin to fade into the distance. The ship drifted into the rising mist, the keel charging through the brine and barm, and Danaco marked its departure with a greiving heart, sighing out his affection for Marridon and all those in it until he could distinguish the figures on the deck of the frigate no longer. The sails luffed in the gentle breeze, and a stream of low clouds led the Marridonian home.
“There goes a cabin boy, I am sure,” said Danaco, in a fond accent. “He might make a poor servant at first, but a few evenings with Brogan and Ujaro will straighten him as to many things. A solid thrashing by two such men will do as well as any other punishment would do.”
The Myrellenos creaked and swayed, and Danaco gave the bollard his ship was tied to a loving tap.
“You are fiendish quick to suppose I meant any such thing,” Danaco laughed, spying his ship’s figurehead with playful reproach, “How you will conjecture, my pernicious plover, but I can make allowances for you. You will get yourself into a designing strain when we are far from home.”
Home… the word forever tainted by anguish of forced separation, the captain felt a pang as he said it. Lucentia was home, it would be his home forever regardless of the many years he had spent being divided from its shores, but he had learned to consider other places as a possible replacement for the life that he had lost. Marridon, being his mother’s home, offered a something like comfort whenever he was ashore, and with his friends and family connections there, all of them residing in good style and enjoying the many pleasures that a life of privilege in Marridon might offer, it made a tolerable substitute for Lucentia during the warmer months. Livanon had its charms, and he had come to consider Frewyn as not such a bad place, for it had amiable people with a cheerful prospect on its vile winters, but the one place where he felt as though he were in his father’s house again was the Myrellenos. His home on the seas, his nautical throne had become a standing example of Lucentian hospitality. Everyone he had welcomed under her sails was now a member of his intimate acquaintance, and all those who came to him looking for work and and a decent wage received ever so much more than what being a mere crewmember on a trade vessel might imply. The Myrellenos was a home for all those who had hearts to cherish: the court of the seas, the Lord and his Peers, and Danaco had the pleasure in thinking that he might be soon adding a few more to his collection. Bartleby his shameless and unfeeling treasure, Rannig his darling, and all the rest of his crew his most valued trinkets—it was a fascination of men, a flush of living artifacts hailing from farthest reaches of every kingdom, and Danaco kissed his hand to his glorious prize, his love for the Myrellenos greater than his attachment to all the relics in her gallery. He raised his eyes to the figurehead, the depiction of Her Lady Myrellenos, and sunk himself in all the ingratiating praise of his goddess, lauding her charms, extolling her exquisite features, and luxuriating in all the blessings she had granted since his exile.
“My Lady favours me,” said Danaco, bowing to her effigy.
He surveyed his ship, his eye examining her tall masts and proud bow jutting fiercely out over the wharf, and a sigh escaped his lips, his heart wracked by the sorrowful gratitude that anyone in his situation must suffer. His place as Captain of such a crew was just as evanescent as the rest of his life, and while he and his men were all collected together now, being of the same character, the same mind, having the same predilections and ambitions, there was no saying when it might be over. He might be called away on urgent business, or his crew might grow anxious for a more settled life, Rannig might wish to return home, or the Director of the Marridon Academy might finally die off, bringing Bartleby back to Marridon for the promotion he so dearly deserved. He exhaled, reveling in the pining sigh of impermanence which living in such uncertainty must produce, and he turned away from the port, the prospect of the docks with its trawl and netting laid out, its covered walkways and mercantile stalls, wits dockmaster lunting about, its clear view of the sea and sky melting into the infinity of the horizon reminiscent of the Lucentian Baracan, and he moved toward the markets, peering at the Myrellenos from over his shoulder with a conscious backward glance, the gradient of evening hues weaving through a weft of listless clouds.