A moment after she was done,
Smith responded, words of none,
And Poepilandia did not see,
His eyes go dim and watery,
Or the sad tilt, of his head,
As his cheeks stained, white to red.
He pained to hear her hard felt words,
Believing naught what he had heard,
The matter would be talked through later,
When he hoped, that she’d think straighter.
He left and went to see the captain
With whom he had become a friend.
The Captain in his cabin sat,
Canvassing charts, and words, and maps,
Trying hard to figure which,
Way to go to catch some fish.
When on the door the blacksmith knocked,
Toc tock tock, tock tock, tock tock!
“Come in! Come in!” the Captain said,
With eyes of green and hair of red,
And face oblong, and sea worn hands,
Up stood the barrel chested man,
To greet the blacksmith just as stout,
Holding their best handshakes out.
The captain invited: “sit and stay!”
But blacksmith would just only say,
“We’ll head to shore now right away,
After the fish have filled your fray.”
Then from the fingers of each hand,
A blue glow filtered downward and,
Went through the decks into the water,
Sending windy wave out farther,
From boat to sea much out of season,
For a sole and single reason.
“I’ve called the fish” the Blacksmith said
Wake the others from their beds!”
“You must be crazy!” the captain laughed,
Choking tea as he gaffed.
“Smith, this lull has made you lazy.
Your mind is dull; your thoughts are hazy!”
But it was clear from blacksmith’s face
He was not joking in the least.
“I’ll tell you what” spoke the Captain,
“You and your friends can take my cabin,
And suffer any need you wish,
If you can fill our nets with fish!”
Smith touched the captain, vowing bold,
“You’ll, have more fish than you can hold.”
When blacksmith came back up on deck,
The crew and Poepi and elves were bent,
Watching over ocean’s water,
Where waves churned madly, coming closer.
And as the rolling waves approached,
They all could see the fishing boat,
Would be tipped, if not turned,
To face into the waves and burms,
“Cast the nets!” the captain bellowed,
And every woman, elf and fellow,
Who could pull a rope or winch,
Or hold a knife or tie a cinch,
Lent their backs into their work,
Using hook and line and jerk.
A bounteous boon of salmon caught,
Soon strained the nets at every knot.
They worked all day and into night,
And all the next, packing tight,
Their catch in salt and drying lights,
Singing the seamen’s songs of delight,
Riding the rolling pitch of the ocean,
Smelling its spray and at one with its motion.
For five full days they had bare sleep,
And only stopped to breath and eat,
Burning backs in the beating heat,
Fighting off sleep’s slow defeat.
Then the hold was finally full,
And no more fish were there to pull.
True to his word, the fishing Captain,
Gave Poepi, Smith and the elves his cabin,
And every night they ate a feast,
Of fish prepared ten ways at least.
At night they sat upon the decks,
And talked about the stars and nets,
‘Til finally, fifteen days more,
And one day’s sail away from shore,
They sat together with the captain,
Who dined as one with them as friends.
All dressed up in formal ardor,
Poepi wore her sword and armor,
Blacksmith with his woolen breeches,
While elves wore fish-scale body sneeches.
The captain too, wore full regalia,
Of tassels, medals, and one azalea,
He’d grown and cut within his cabin,
Sipping wave wine, from his flagon.
All dressed up in shining cuffs,
He cut through chitty chatty fluff,
And learned about their failed mission,
And sought to help them, with permission.
He thought with curiosity,
And guessed where Perlameen might be.
“It could very well true be,
If I guess the lottery,
Your sister is on Giant’s Island,
Living large, and kept, and grand,
Amid its crystal skies and towers,
With other princesses who cower,
Before the giant’s authority,
Odiferous to you and me.”
“I can set you upon land,
At a port now close at hand.
Once we sell our catch at dock,
There is a road that you can walk,
To take you to the island quick.
The road is covered over thick,
Because the lands are dark and choked,
Heavy with industrial smoke,
From the mines and forges where,
Plumes of noxious fumes in air,
The giant keeps his fires stoked,
With breathing, flaming, mad beasts yoked.
Once those choked lands you surpass,
You’ll reach the foothill’s lands of grass,
On eastern shores, below the highlands,
And will see the giant’s island,
Across another straight of ocean.
Ships come there and by their motion
You can sail to his domain,
Be sun, or clouds or wind or rain.”
“Why don’t you take us there yourself?”
Said wondering Willow, the curious elf,
“I’m sorry” said captain, “please understand,
I venture not near giant’s land.
I have no will or fortitude,
To risk my ship against his mood.
You and your friends must go yourself,
My dear and kind most duteous elf.”
Then he saw a bluish fleck,
Hanging from fair Poepi’s neck.
“What have you there?” the captain said,
“I collect gems, clear green and red,
But I have never seen the hue,
Of any gem that shade of blue!”
He opened wide his leathery hand.
“May I see it?” not a demand.
Poepi clutched the sparkling gem,
And on its chain, made it spin,
Fingers reluctant to let it go,
Without good reason, for doing so.
For a second she hesitated,
Then passed the gem to him and waited.
She watched the captain hold the bauble,
Which he took, low bowed and humble,
And then up high immediately,
Held it to his eyes to see.
He rolled it round between his fingers,
And sniffed as if a smell could linger,
From a bright blue piece of stone,
Hanging from where necklace shone.
“Salt!” he yelled to his first mate,
Who scrambled to accommodate,
And gave the captain a spittoon,
Full of salt grains and a spoon.
“No plain gem this is, I think!”
“Unless my knowledge of them stinks!”
He grabbed a few pinches of salt,
Dancing a little jig and jalt,
And threw them high, over his hair,
About the room, and everywhere.
“This is a Mapstone, and if I’m right.
It is the oldest of my sight!”
“A mapstone?” Poepi asked the crew.
“What does it do? What does it do?”
He took a small metal device,
And set the gem into it, nice,
And put behind it burning candles,
And pressed a little metal handle.
To everybody’s shock and awe,
A bright blue map shone on the wall.
As the yellow candle light,
Shone through metal into sight,
Lines and squares grew magnified.
“It is a map!” the two elves cried.
Birch and Willow close inspected,
Every sign there represented,
In the map’s revealed lines
Though out of focus and ill defined.
“Could the map be of a castle?”
Birch said to willow eyes bedazzled.
“See here’s a moat outside a door,
To an entrance and there’s more,
Around the sides and at the back,
With towers large and highly stacked.
“Look here!” said Willow. An atrium?
Look at its size! There’s more than one!
And also many levels more,
One and two and three and four!
They all seem built deep underground!”
And then the room made not a sound,
As something struggled to surface, and,
All at once the same thought spanned,
Everyone else in the dazzled room,
Exploding voices in a boom.
“Could this be the Giant’s castle?!
With all its rooms detailed in full?!
This is unbelievable!
If only all the lines were clear!
Can we sharpen what is there!”
And the Captain quick to action,
Picked out a room in the lower faction.
He turned his head and raised a brow,
Looking straight at Poepi now.
“I cannot make the focus more,
What is at the lowest floor?
Who gave this marvelous stone to you?
What else do you plan to do?
Returning the gem he let his question
Hang in the air like an angry Hessian.
But the answer was never heard,
For as she mumbled and deferred,
Something struck the ship outside,
And everyone, eyes open wide,
Like jelly beans dropped to the floor.
The lot flew out the cabin’s door,
To the deck, legs a-scrambling,
Falling, stumbling, heart beats ambling.
And there they saw the heavens swirling,
Gray black storm clouds swift a-churling,
With rain and thunder riling the sky,
As serpent monsters reared up high!