The last time we saw our wonderfully whiskered wanderers, the Barkeep and Distiller struck out together, moving key supplies down the Baguay River for the long journey to the Timechanger. After the Distiller and the Barkeep sat sail, they came upon a long and vicious set of rapids…
The water roars around the longboats as they quickly begin to get sucked into the raging rapids.
“Drop the sails, lift the oars. All attention to the front boys, it’s going to be rough,” screams the Barkeep, making his way to the front of the boat. One of the men run to the mast and then the stern of the boat, ensuring that the supplies were completely secured.
Another worker grabs hold of the rudder as the front two oarsmen trade their oars for the strong oak poles that they used to push off of the bank, and four of the other oarsmen join them. If their aim is to use the oaken poles to direct the longboat away from the rocks that jut out of the fast flowing river, they will need the extra manpower.
“Oarsmen, slow us down!” cries the Barkeep. The oarsmen respond, moving their oars in a clockwise motion. The effect is minimal as the boat continues to speed into foaming torrent. The longboat swings back and forth, dipping and rising in the rocky waves. The Distiller tries to maintain his footing, but slips and falls onto the hull of the boat.
The boat continues to rocket down the river at an alarming speed. The oarsmen struggle to keep up with the Barkeeps’s commands. Even the commands the crew was able to harmoniously execute were futile, as the strength of the river was too much for them to be effective. The Distiller is able to pull himself up on the edge of the boat just as the boats turn another bend. The Distiller looks ahead and sees numerous large rocks poking out of the winding water ahead.
The boats continue forward towards the jagged rocks looming ahead.
“Steady boys, steady,” cries the Barkeep as he is tossed about, trying to maintain his grip upon the wild helm of the ship.
The rudder-man pulls hard, back-and-forth in response to the Barkeeps commands, like an elementary school child playing an obedience game like “Simon Says.” The boat darts through the sharp rocks like a minnow amongst reeds. Suddenly, as the boat came around a rock, the stern of the boat slammed into the rock, throwing the boat sideways in the stream. The boat, now in a vulnerable position continues with the flow, the Barkeep and oarsmen trying to regain control of the spinning boat.
The Distiller looks up to see a pillar of solid rock approaching and the boat’s inevitable path was a direct collision course with the monstrous formation piercing the surface of the water.
The Distiller had just enough time to yell, “LOOK OUT,” before the boat made impact. A loud cracking sound explodes into the air as the hull splits from the force of the impact. The Distiller is thrown once again onto the floor of the longboat. Water springs forth from the crack as the rest of the ship rebounds off of the rock and continues spinning out of control down river.
The Barkeep has lost all means of control as his crew is in disarray. Much like the Distiller, several of the crew members was thrown down onto the hull, while a couple of unlucky crew members had been tossed overboard by the earlier impact. The Barkeep is holding tight to the snake-like figurehead that graces the bow of the longboat, with both his arms and legs wrapped around the wooden feature. The boat is making contact with several rocks now and all it would take is one more solid strike for the hull to break. That’s if the water itself didn’t sink the boat. The crew members were doing what they could to bail water out of the hull using the hats, cups, or pans they had on hand.
The Barkeep looks forward and sees a sharp split in the river. On one side a large drop, maybe 20 or 25 feet in height. On the other, a smooth stream that split off to the right. If he had control of the boat, he could veer hard to the right and make the stream. Unfortunately, the boat floats up and over the steep drop. The Distiller holds onto a length of rope during the free fall, for what feels like an eternity, until the hull makes contact with the rocks and the water below. This blow was enough to separate the hull, splitting the ship in half.
What remains of the crew members is split between the two halves of the longboat, as the pieces continue to glide down the river. The halves grow smaller as the rocky ride continues. The ride is a blur for the Distiller, as the water splashes in his face and the world tumbles about him. Somehow, he’s ended belly-down on a shoulder-width piece of wood, the remnant of his half of the longboat. The rocks continue to beat upon the Distiller until finally the water smooths and the flow of the river mellows. Exhausted, the Distiller passes out on his piece of wreckage.
The Distiller wakes up to the smell of fragrant herbs as a warm liquid is pressed to his lips. The Distiller looks over. The Barkeep is laid up in bed, as well as several of his crew mates. Still there was some missing.
“Don’t worry about that right now, rest,” implored the deep voice gently.
The Distiller took a sip of the drink and looked over. There was a man wearing a brilliantly colored rasta hat that sat atop a mountain of dreadlocks. The man’s warm smile did more to warm the Distiller than even the tea did.
“Who are you,” asks the Distiller.
“People call me the herbalist. You are in my haven. Me and my people live here, enjoying the wealth of life that nature provides us. We saw your wreckage on the river and was able to pull many of your crew members and lost supplies back from the river. The rest of your boats navigated the river successfully, however the hulls sustained some damage. Do not concern yourself though, my people will have you ready to go shortly. Here, drink,” the Herbalist says as he lifts the tea up to the Distiller’s mouth once more.
“Thank you, friend,” says the Distiller as he takes another sip. “We are on a fateful journey. Without you, that journey, as well as our lives may have very well been lost. We are in your debt.”
“Nonsense, there are no debts here. You and your crew may rest here while we repair your ship. You should be well enough to continue tomorrow,” assures the Herbalist.
“Thank you,” says the Distiller as he drifts off into a peaceful sleep.