The events of Valhold left me a shattered man. All that family drama, not to mention the stone cold violence, put me in a foul mood and I felt I needed a distraction. I know Boreus is still in a bit of bother, but he’s been under wraps for this long, a few more days or so won’t make much difference. Not to mention my air elemental has been complaining nearly non-stop that I rely on her too much, that I put her life in jeopardy, that I’m going to get us both killed, or worse. I’m not sure what she means by the “or worse” bit. I’m reasonably sure the being dead part is in fact on the end of the scale, but who knows how these elementals think. Regardless, my nerves were frayed.

To find some peace and tranquility, I found myself wandering along the shoreline of Novia. The names of the towns had a menacing undertone, or put forth the idea of endless commercialism so I avoided them. I felt dejected until I spied a lighthouse in the distant. Ah, a lighthouse, what could be more representative of tranquility and relaxation than that? And more than likely, it was tended by a kind and gentle soul who would welcome a weary traveler and afford accommodation for a night or two. I consulted the map given to me by a peddler in the street, but my direction was still not clear. I should have spent the extra coins and purchased a map from the proper map vendor. The one written by the child I was trying to help was devoid of landmarks, was riddled with X’s and notations of “buried treasure here” and had been scrawled using an ink that wasn’t permanent. Thus, portions of the map were missing and all I could discern was the “here there be dragons” warnings he’d left for me. At least he was concerned at my falling off the edge of the world. It seems he sensed my directional prowess.

I soldiered on in the direction of the lighthouse, but due to shifts in the landscape, a precipice, a crevasse, a bridge with a troll I was in no frame to content with and a series of unfortunate navigational miscalculations, I ended up in the Brittany Cemetery. My disposition was not lifted.

After trying several of the ferries and ending up on the wrong mainland, I broke down and asked for directions. I was informed the proper boat to the lighthouse was further down the coastline. I made my way further on, the jeers of laughter fading in the distance.

At last, I found the correct boat and set sail for the small island where I hoped I would be greeted by peace and tranquility. I was greeted by utter silence.

I knocked repeatedly and finally, Elad made his way down the stairs to let me in.

“Sorry about the delay,” he said in a soft voice. “Stairs are a bit of a chore these days. Have to take them one at a time, lest I take a nasty tumble and end up who knows where. Come in, come in!”

It was an understated domicile, with a small entryway, but a massive staircase that scaled the walls of the lighthouse.

“Come to see the light have you?” he asked as I watched the stairs wind up out of sight.

“Well, yes, actually I have,” I replied. “I’ve been the victim of several disappointing personal life events and was looking for solace in solitude. It seems a lighthouse and thus a lighthouse keeper would be the ideal.”

“Very well! Very well indeed,” he said joyfully. “Come on, up to the top. Got to keep an eye on the light.”

I followed as we made our way up the hundreds of stairs. We soon came to his sitting room and he invited me to take a look at the view while he prepared a suitable repast. The view was striking, the air cool and fresh, the sound of the waves against the rocky outcropping a pleasure to behold. I felt the tribulations of the previous adventures falling away.

I rejoined Elad who brought wine and cheese. “Have some cheese,” he said eagerly. “I like cheese. I’m a cheese cutter from way back. Come from a long line of cheese cutters. But now I’m a lighthouse keeper. A darn good one too. Light comes on at night, goes off in the day. Easy as can be. Well, except for the repairs, the gears, the cogs, maintenance, the lamp oil, the rain and a few other tidbits not worth mentioning. Do you play chess?”

His words hit me like a hammer. He was rapid fire and excitable. I gathered he didn’t get many visitors. “Oh, course I do,” I lied.

“Sit down, sit down, let us play a game. I’ll tell you all about Lord British,” he said with great excitement as he set up the board. “Oh, that Lord British, he’s a wonderful collector of things. Always looking for new trinkets, books, what have you. I work for him you know. Or at least I think I do. Haven’t seen him much lately. Not sure I even get paid. But no matter, the light must remain on, even though there hasn’t been a boat in these harbors for decades, and the sea provides all that I need.”

I don’t know if it was Elad’s exuberance in storytelling or my lack of understanding of the rules, but I lost in three moves. It wasn’t the defeat that bothered me, I’ve gotten used to that sort of thing, but the throwing down of the pieces and the dance of victory I felt was a bit much. The repeated hip thrusts were certainly over the top and I had to avert my gaze. However, I was the guest and abided by the rules of the house.

In the rematch, I faired no better and lost in three moves again. Elad said my leading with the piece known as the queen had been my downfall. I made note of that for the next game and although Elad was taken aback by my blistering opening gambit with the pawn, I was trounced in five moves.

Having worn himself out from all the wild gyrations at my expense, Elad said he would turn in for the night. I was welcome to stay and take the room on the lower floor. I eagerly took him up on the offer.

For the next two days, I spent a very peaceful time in the lighthouse, looking out over the sea, fishing along the shore and gazing at the stars. It’s hardly worth mentioning, but I did lose sixty-five games in a row to Elad, but I was getting better. I managed to hold him off for nearly six moves and captured one of his pawns. It was a triumphant sabbatical.

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Ah, a vision of serenity. Now, if I could only find the &*$%ing boat to get me over there.

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An auspicious dwelling to be sure. Hopefully Elad is home and welcoming to visitors. I hear lighthouse keepers are a docile bunch, but you never know, he could spring on my like a cat, drown in the sea, cut me up for chum and none would be the wiser.

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Elad! Good evening! My I intrude upon your hospitality for a night or so?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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