Awaiting the Ship (Part 5)

Selkirk continued holding Marla’s hand as he stood and levitated her basket bed. Gently he tugged and moved her where she could see over the garden wall, rotating the basket slightly to allow her to sit upright. Selkirk pointed with his other hand to the horizon and said, “There is where the ship will appear. You can’t miss it because the thing is simply huge. The sails will reflect the moonlight and it will look like a great house floating across the waves.”

Marla gazed intently at the spot Selkirk had pointed to, and after a few minutes she declared, “There it is! I see it!” her voice was filled with unfettered excitement. “I was so afraid I would miss it because it would come during the day. Oh, what a thrill!”

Selkirk smiled and said, “The ships come day and night. If they come at night, then it is because there are drow elves to pick up. Otherwise, the ships sail in and out during the day.”

Marla happily exclaimed, “Let’s go see the ship as it comes in, Selkirk. I wish to have a better view.”

Selkirk let go of Marla’s hand and retrieved his cloth bag, setting it in the basket bed next to her. “Alrighty, here we go. It is a bit of a trek getting down there by normal means, so hang on. I know a shortcut.”

Taking hold of the back of the basket, Selkirk pushed it over the garden wall and stepped into the emptiness of the night sky. Marla laughed as this was a typically dark elven thing to do. Most dark elves could levitate themselves, in fact back in the day Marla could have just fine. Now Selkirk was employing his own version of this ability and walked her basket bed and himself right off the side of Havre d’Anges and began slowly descending towards the docks far below the towering citadel. The ship continued to draw close as this misfit pair of elderly drow elves dropped slowly and silently through the evening air to alight with total grace and perfect poise among a bewildered group of attendants that were assigned to greet the ship.

As they touched down on the dock Selkirk gave a silly salute and said somewhat boisterously, “Howdy! Thought we would drop in and watch the ship come in.” There was some rippled laughter as the attendants appreciated the absurdity of the moment. More elves were beginning to arrive to see the ship arrive. All manner of elves were represented here tonight, but only a few were dark elves like Marla and Selkirk.

The amassed group of curious elves stood whispering among themselves as the great ship approached and began to strike its sails. It drifted in towards the dock with a determined sort of gracefulness that took the breath away from those watching. Even the attendants who should have been accustomed to this scene were taken aback by the beauty of it. Selkirk took hold of Marla’s hand again. The two of them smiled at each other as the crew of the ship and the dock attendants scurried to bring the ship tightly against the pilings.

Quickly the deed was done, and the gangplank lowered. A regal elven man dressed in the attire of a priest walked noiselessly down and greeted the gathered elves with a gracious smile and a wave of his hand. Another elf, this one a woman, followed him and from a scroll began reading the names of those that the ship had come for.

Attendants were gathering and one by one would leave to fetch somebody whose name had been called but they weren’t at the dock. One by one the elves were summoned and made their way up the gangplank. They took only the clothes they were wearing as there wouldn’t be a need for anything else. The enormity of the moment wasn’t lost on any of the elves present.

Selkirk wasn’t at all surprised when he heard the elven priestess call out “Marla Khenvra!” but Marla let out a startled gasp. Selkirk squeezed her hand and said reassuringly, “The bag has wine and bread in it. Just think about what kind you like, and it’ll be there. I had hoped to add cheese to the menu, but we’ve run out of time in this world.”

Marla began to tear up as she said, “I don’t wish to go yet. May I stay behind?”

Selkirk shook his head. “I’ll be along soon. Once Arborea decides I’m well enough I’ll be there. I’ll bring along a cheese box.” He chuckled and added, “Just don’t go too far from wherever they drop you off. You won’t be confined to the basket once you’re there, so don’t run so far away that I can’t find you.”

Marla laughed and squeezed Selkirk’s hand. The attendants came and with a smile and a nod to Selkirk began to move the basket bed towards the gangplank. Marla waved to Selkirk, and he waved back as she was taken up and placed out of his view aboard the ship. More elves were called, and they made their way past the old dark elven man who stood sadly by on the dock.

One of the attendants came and stood quietly and respectfully behind Selkirk as the priestess made her way through the list of names. As she rolled it up, she finished by declaring the last name. “Selkirk Deathtree!”

Startled, Selkirk looked at the attendant behind him. “Really?” he asked with astonishment.

The attendant smiled and replied, “You’ve been good for Marla, Selkirk. And she has been good for you. Would be a shame to separate the two of you now. There is nearly as much cheese to explore as there is bread and wine.” The attendant motioned towards the gangplank. “Surely you must have a trick for that?”

Selkirk grinned and reached into the sleeve of his robe. “You better believe I do. And don’t call me Shirley.” With that Selkirk pulled a small box from his robe and holding it in both of his hands he walked quickly up the plank and aboard the ship. Marla laughed upon seeing him on the deck, and clapped her hands excitedly.

Waving the little box, Selkirk shouted, “Good news, Marla! I’ve got cheese!”