With my abject failure as a courier for Anton, who was none too pleased when I returned to explain the loss of the horse, destruction of the cart and confiscation of the merchandise which lead to his subsequent chasing me out of town, I decided perhaps a calmer and more carefree occupation would be more to my liking. While out along the shores of Novia, contemplating my future endeavors, I spied Elad’s lighthouse in the distance and was struck with an idea.

My mind returned to my previous visit with him and the sound of the oceans waves crashing in steady rhythms against the rocks. The song of the gulls as they glided effortlessly overhead. The smell of the salt air and the gentle breeze across my face.

I blotted out the savage thrashing I took the last time Elad and I played chess and decided to pay him a call. Perhaps this part of the seafaring life was more my style and Elad could instruct me in the ways of the tranquil and stoic life of the keeper.

He greeted my warmly, but took great pride in reminding me of my deficiencies in the grand game of chess. Despite his commentary, I think my skills rank slightly higher than a stableboy.

Getting to the point, I sat with Elad over a cup of tea which I initially mistook for chowder.

“So tell me Elad, how is the life of a lighthouse keeper? How do you find yourself in this conundrum we call life?”

“Oh, it is a grand thing,” he said with a smile. “I take great satisfaction in keeping the harbor safe, even though there aren’t that many ships that come into port these days.”

“How many ships do you watch over?” I asked trying to get a sense of the weighty responsibility.

He pondered. “Haven’t seen a ship in years,” he said at last. “But no matter. The light will be on when they need it.”

“I see, so what are the duties of a keeper?” I inquired.

“They are few, but very important indeed,” he said with a tone of seriousness. “Keeping the light on is pivotal! Never let the light go out, regardless of the weather, regardless how rickety the stairs are, regardless of how much ale you’ve had after mistaking it for your herbal remedies.”

“Yes, I am all to familiar with that last one,” I chuckled. “So, how else do you occupy your time?”

“There are always little repairs to be done. I have to make sure all my supplies are well stocked. I fish from the dock. I wander the beach aimlessly on a regular basis. I have a wonderful shell and bottle collection going. Oh, and there is always my secret little pleasure.”

“Do I dare ask what that is?” I said with hesitancy.

“Are you sure you won’t tell on me?” he said with a giggle.

“I’m quite sure I will never discuss this conversation with anyone.”

“Well, from time to time, I’ve been known to go to the top of the lighthouse,” he began to snicker. “And when I know there aren’t any ships, which is all the time, and when I’m sure no one is looking, which is all the time,” again he giggled in a childish manner. “I stand in front of the light,” he had to stop his laughter with a covered hand. “And make shadow animals with my hands in the glow of the light.” He could contain himself no longer and burst into wild laughter.

“I’ll make an alligator and pretend to eat a neighboring house.” He mimed the gesture for my benefit. “Or I might make a rabbit that has amorous desires on a castle.” Again, he gestured with his hands and was beside himself with laughter, to the point of doubling over. “And every now and again, I make a wildly rude hand gesture to the entire town, just to see if they’re paying attention!” At this, he fell out of his chair. No explanatory gesture was needed.

“Well, that does indeed sound rather splendid,” I said watching Elad writhe on the floor. “How does one go about being a lighthouse keeper? Do you find an old one and move in? Do you build one yourself and set up shop? Do we arm wrestle for control of the area?”

After several minutes, Elad finally lifted himself from the floor, wiped away the tears of joy and returned to his chair. “Oh no, my dear fellow. You can’t just set up a lighthouse yourself. There are rules and regulations. You need to apply to the lighthouse conclave, prove your knowledge of lighthouse workings and lore, get issued a certificate of completion and then you get assigned to a lighthouse.”

“There’s a certificate?” I asked excitedly. “I love certificates! Where do I apply? What do I need to study? Point me in the right direction oh wise sage!”

Elad handed me a parchment where I could send for course materials. “Fancy a game of chess before you go?” he asked as I stood to take my leave. “You play like a stableboy, but it’s better than going upstairs and playing with myself.”

“I’m afraid I must decline,” I replied. “I suffered a debilitating chess related injury and severe emotional trauma shortly after we played and was forced to give up the game.”

“Well, that’s too bad. But with your opening moves, I’m not surprised.”

Despite the jibe, I thanked him kindly, finished the tea-chowder and excitedly sent off a message via the town crier. A new vocation was at hand and I was anxious to get started.

As I strode down the dock, I heard a giggling Elad whisking up the stairs to the main light, his hands wringing in anticipation.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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