Monday, December 16, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 4

On time?!! How is this possible?!?!??!?

This chapter is the longest so far - 4 (!) parts to it. I seem to need to bang on with the travel bits :\

I had this small thought this morning about plotting ahead of time versus just winging it, and I think why I prefer to wing it (with a sense of direction/purpose mind) is that plotting seems to me more of a stand affar and determine from without, but I need to be in the meat with my characters, need to see and feel the tale with them in order to know/find where to go next. 

Winging it is more fraught but I feel like I share the journey rather than dictating from above, as it were.

Oh, and not that this is important, but this is still the pre-written "stuff" - though the fear-facing is going on as I now start to lay track before the very wheels of the moving train.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 4
The Sulk & Through

A thump and shout and Economous started awake in his makeshift berth, humours pounding inexplicably in his ears, sleep driven from him. He cast about wildly, thinking himself beset by some strangling violence but quickly realised his place, and the choking sensation simply his stock twisted uncomfortably in his sleep. In the strange twilight he could see a bargeman grinning at him like the foolish city lubber he must have seemed and straightening his harness, Economous pulled and settled his baldric of concometrist mottle to remind the fellow that he was not just some daft naivine.

“Weal morning,” he said to cover his own chagrin.

The fellow appeared to get the implication for he left off his idiot smirking and with an acknowledging shrug and a “Weal morning,” in reply, went back to what ever labour it had been that had most likely woken Economous in the first.

Stretching a yawn and peering ahead, Economous was surprised to see a great town – indeed a veritable city – shadowed against the eastern arc of sky ruddied by the approaching sun.

Here was Proud Sulking, great riverine trading port of the Sulk, the Idlewild and the lands beyond.

By steady cycling of the cromster’s gastrines they travelled all through the night and now arrived with the dawning, drawing to the long addit wharfing of Proud Sulking in line like proud rams-of-war treading stoutly into battle. Stretched well beyond the walls of the riverine city itself, the addit wharfs were heavy frames of swarthy wood raised on great blackened plinths of hard and slimy stone. Built at the time of the port’s foundation  – so Economous recalled from his readings – each slab had been mined from the granite quarries of Exodus and brought up river on barge to be sunk into the shore until they formed a solid platform nigh as longs as the coastal front of Brandenbrass herself. There was not one stretch of the quay that was not spiny with loading sheers of various function and size, many busy even now before the day was fully dawned.

Here the Douse Fish drew to halt at the tail of yet another a line of craft awaiting their call to berth and load or unload. Here the cromster’s boat was lowered and Economous’ chest and canvases and the box that held Miserichord were brought up from the hold to be stowed aboard it. Joined by River-master Patefract going ashore for his own business, Economous was rowed to one of several score low stone hards at the foot of the wharf where he was handed ashore while his goods roughly unloaded. Patefract having said nothing on the row, said nothing now and depart upon his own business with only the shortest glance and the merest tilt of a nod of goodbye.

Walking much of the mile of the southern arm of the addit, Economous found a great fortress-like entry house with three tall uncomfortably narrow doors through which folks were already passing in crowded shuffling line. Musketeers in Imperial harness of rouge and or – red and gold – stood fast on either side of each door, eyeing all comers sternly but not impeding the progress of the arrivals. A motto carved into the heavy lintel above the doors and their wardens read:

Adveho Totus vos Defessus Hucilluctorum

Come all ye weary wayfarers.

Economous smiled wryly. “Come and do what,” he muttered to himself.

The gate-wardens in Imperial mottle and grim admitting clerks waiting at the end of the long colonnade that kept three line of souls discrete from each other were familiar enough in their bullying officiousness. His nativity patent scrutinised and reluctantly verified and his meagre collection of chatels inspected, Economous was allowed to proceed through.

Released to the street beyond, Economous blinked at the glare of sun now rising above curtain wall and roof top, shooed away the many demanding offers of help and took a moment to right himself.

After his time in Brandenbrass – one of the the great cities of the not just the Soutlands but surely of the Sundergird itself – Proud Sulking seemed on the face smaller and quaint. For all its bustle and clutter; the close street and crowding evidence of great business, of lofty garner towers and eminent mercantile representations raised above domestic dwellings; all the mighty ceaseless labour of loading an endless line of barges, cromsters and prams with all the produce the old and fruitful leagues of the Sulk provided, this comparably noteworthy city lacked the ponderous feeling of ancient – dare he call it constipated – gravity that veritably throbbed from  even the dunkest alley of his onetime home. Strange – perhaps even revolting – to his inculcated senses, Proud Sulking did not smell of the vinegar of the sea, rather the usual horse-soil, brick-dust and wood-smoke of urban life was permated by the loamy, moldering fug of river-ooze and ploughed field. It was powerfully redolent of childhood and of home, odours that he had almost forgotten that filled him now with nameless misgivings.

Spying a coach-host – signed The Timely Boot – located opportunely up the street adjoining that on which the admitting house was found, he left his pondering Proud Sulking’s scant wonders and made directlyfor the establishment. Through the long yard full of horse teams in harness and hurrying porters, of luggage by the stack, of pails and baled hay, he entered the parenthis and its fare booths. As fast as another queue of people allowed, he hired a seat upon a post-lentum to take him the first stretch of his great overland quest.

“Where are ye destined?” came the commutation clerk’s question.

“Knapphausen.” Economous proclaimed the name as if it were deliverence itself: the last stop before ultimate success.

The clerk regarded him narrowly for a moment, as if he had just cursed. “I can writ ye the passage to Sulking Mede and Char Soster, but ye’ll have to shift for yeself to go beyond.”

Though Economous knew well enough that the cities of the Subtle Pall were states unto themselves and independent of the loose collection that had become of the Haacobin Empire, he was surprised to find such unfriendliness to the mere mention of one of its destinations.

“Then make shift I shall,” he said in parting as he took the handful of sheafs that were his Right-to-board and Ticket-of-Passage from post  to post along the Grand Trunk Road.

Alotted a number upon a slip of card – 143 – unable to find a seat in the congested commons of the parenthis, he availed himself of an untenanted nook between the left-most fare booth and a fine-looking long-clock tocking out the long wait.

Despite the sense great and ceaseless activity out in the coach yard and the steady cry of what seemed random slip card numbers, the cram of waiting passengers never seemed to get smaller. Refusing to crane his neck to watch the long-case clock beside him, the fabulist nodded from sheer boredom even as he stood, roused repeatedly yet incompletely by the tooting – loud even from within the commons of the parenthis – of lentermen’s parting horns.

Final amongst a collection of other numbers, his call came, “143!”

Out in the yard, Economous good’s were taken from him once more to be secured atop the roof of a fine looking post-lentum of deep glossy green.

“Mornin’, brother-measurer,” said the lone backstepper in winking greeting from his perch at the rear of the carriage.

“G-morning,” came Economous’ unready and fumbled reply. It was an odd quirk of society that lentermen held brotherhood with concometrists as fellow wayfarers – view that, whilst appreciated, was not reciprocated by the metricians. Regardless, it persisted.

Hauling himself into the cabin, the fabulist found with small sinking of disappointment that he was one of four passengers. He knew it was foolish to have thought it could be otherwise, but Economous felt that now he had finally arrived upon new shores his adventure was all his own, and that these three fellow wayfaring souls were only intruders on his quest. Squeezing next to a rotund fellow in surprisingly expensive coat, trying with only minor success to not knock people with Miserichord in its box, he smiled tightly at handsomely dressed lady across the barely manageable gap between knees. If he had to share his lentum then to accompany such a damsel went a goodly way to ameliorating his frustration.

Brown curls of hair caught up in a travelling shawl of deep and fashionable green beneath a gleaming black tricorn that kept much of her face in shadow within the gloom of the cabin, the lady regarded Economous silently as he fumbled aboard. At his greeting she flicked her fan smartly apparently against the already heavy warmth within the cabin but said nothing. And when the bautis-box inevitable knocked her skirted knee, she snapped her fan shut with a snap and quicker than blinking, tapped knocking the over-long bautis as if it were the source of all discomforts. She then looked away as if Economous no longer existed.

Swallowing down his embarrassment, Economous looked out the window at whatever he could fix his gaze upon, as with a toot of the cockrobin’s horn and shouts of, “As ye please, gentles, as ye please!” from the sidearms man, the cabin lurched and the lentum was away.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 3

Wow, pushing the limits here; that is what fear will do for you. 

Well, still some already material left though it has gaps in it: gaps where I do not know details of that moment but know what comes after. I will do that at times. This is a first draft so you are going to get all the lumps and bumps that come with that I am afraid. That said, I am actually pleased with how complete the text has been up to now (full of errors certainly, but no gaps of writing).

Any way, apologies for the extended delay, now on with the show.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 3
The Sulk & Through

By a ceaseless rotation of limbre and gastrine, the Douse Fish was kept at a cracking pace for so small a vessel, passing upon the ladeboard other craft guided by less impatient souls.

With the westering sun low in the wan blue dome of almost cloudless heaven, the cromster made the great rivergate with beats to spare, her timely advent hailed by a great din of frog chorus ringing from either weedy bank. Dark in the dusk-light against mounting billows of delicately orange clouds rising to the north and twinkling with a myriad lantern and window-lights, the Spindle entirely blocked the river ahead. Against the pallid element Economous could make out  the crenelations of the squat bastions that anchored it to either shore, and see its long low battlements crawling with people all moving with snail’s speed from right to left – east to west.

“Refuge-seekers,” the lady passenger said as if she and he had been in constant conversation all day, speaking with pointed volume to be heard of the squall of frog-song. “They seek to escape the growing threat of monstrous uprising to the east. And hark,” she continued pointing to the sheoak lined eastern shore where high-screened barges disgorged companies of pediteers in the rouge and juverd – red and yellowed green – mottle of Useless. “The city-states begin to mass their soldiers.”

Economous beheld the mass of moving martialing souls on bridge and bank in amazement. “The threat is truly that grave?”

The woman looked at him sidelong. “Yes,” was all her answer.

It was Economous turn to look at her. “And has it reached up to the Undermeer?” he asked, fearing the answer.

“I do not yet know,” was the reply. “I presume that is your journey’s end?”

“Aye,” Economous nodded slowly. “That it is.”

“SEIZE ALL LIMBRES! RIDE THE TREADLE!” Patefract bawled, cutting conversation short.

Immediately the poor cromster was again put to shudders as her pace was arrested and she was brought with handiness of long experience to join the end of the line of vessels all waiting for their turn to pass through the impenetrable fortification. Pacing at the steerboard beam of the tiller, Mister Patefract fretted the much desired summons by the rivergate masters while his small crew worked to unstep the single mast and lay it secure upon the deck. Muttering and glowering at the flag-bearing masts that rose from the central hornwork of the Spindles, the master let out a wordless bark when the Douse Fish’ number was finally signalled with the instruction to proceed.

With tell-tale shudder, the cromster drew into one of the four low tunnels through which vessels were let upstream. Passing under the daggered teeth of a ponderous black-iron portcullis, Economous felt a strangely anxious thrill – a silly little fear that they would not be allowed on for some reason. Here on a low stone pier to the ladeboard-side along with the usual waterside cablemoors stood a coterie of excise clerks and their guards, each proofed in black and all looking drawn and drooping in the stark light of their night flares after a day long of ceasless scrutiny. So very much like the inky, neck-stiff clerical souls of the city, Economous paid scant heed to their preamble as they declared their right Imperial to step onto the Douse Fish’ sacred deck, marvelling instead at the grimy arch of stone a scarce arm’s reach above where dark algaes glistened with the sweat of tunnel-confined water. The cromster was tied, the excise clerk’s came aboard review the bill of lading and the other passenger made her leave.

“The dove’s flight carry you safe to your harbour, Mister Some-time,” she said, offering this odd parting with the slightest of curtsies.

“Oh, travel well, good lady,” Economous bade in farwell, half-standing and fumbling his hat from his head in surprise, amazed to discover that this woman was even shorter than she had seemed whilst seated.

“Indeed,” she said. “If you do happen to discover that nickers threat your destination please send me word of it.” She passed him an unexpected item – a calling card inscribed with a name and more amazingly an occupation:

Dolours of Herbroulesse (Ly)
Laude to the August of the Right of the Pacific Dove

This woman was a calendar!

Yet before Economous could press for more, this Dolours of Herbroulesse sprang warrior-nimble to the stone quay with a flash of parti-hued leggings showing through the flaring shirt of her coat and hurried through a heavy iron-bound door that lead by a low arch off the stone quay of the tunnel pier.

Cries from the pier and a officious bow from the chief of the excise clerks told of the Douse Fish’ worthiness to proceed. With shouts of his own and, Patefract had the cromster continue “under limbres,” as he ordered it.

“Half ahead by limbres,” Patefract ordered loudly, smiling finally in satisfaction – an expression that looked positively wicked on so uncongenial a face.

As the cromster came out of the tunnel a bright pink sibaline flare shot from a central bastion into the darkening sky, informing all approaching vessels from either south or north that they would have to moor for the night in the shadow of the impassable wall. With sullen clang and a ponderous splash a great black portcullis dropped behind them as if to add punctuation to the signal: no other was passing through today.

But the labour of the Douse Fish was not done. Despite the closing day, the faithful little craft was made to tread on, pressing upstream as above her, her crew and sole passenger a slow spectacle of tiny cosmic lights came out in ones and twos until the entire dome of sky blazed with spangled fire. Catching a line of other vessels visible only as low shadows on the faintly glistening water and single dancing mast lamps, Patefract joined his course to their their’s, becoming now the tail of this improvised squadron. At first the vessels kept to the left – that is, the ladeboard and in this moment western – side of the river’s flow, allowing way for south- and sea-ward bound vessels to pass unhindered upon the right. Yet as they wore on in silent north-bound convoy each vessel began to prefer a course as close to the middle of the river as was reckoned prudent, as if their masters were by mystic accord reluctant to remain near the ladeborad shore. Chimes – or late supper – was softly called and the meal-time conversation amongst the Douse Fish’ small crew gathered at the bow happened in a hush, every sentence accompanied by vigilant furtive glances to the western landfall.

Sitting now upon the deck, back propped against the bit, Economous ate his own meagre repast from Bidbrindle’s thoughtful parting parcel – pan-bread, best Wretcher wide-cheese and parched apple parings – and kept his own puzzled watch upon the ladeboard shore. “May I ask why you have taken port on the opposite bank to your course?” he inquired of a passing bargeman.

“’Tis an unhappy stretch o’ ribbon is all, sir,” the fellow muttered with a nictating wink. “Discomfittin’ sounds and causeless spookings. Yet fear not; harm seldom happens.”

Yet as it had been with the teratologists, rather than frightening him, the intelligence that monsters might be lurking in shadows and tangles scarcely the length of a long field away aroused only intense fascination. Wrapping himself in his coat like a blanket, he stared scarcely blinking to the dark western shoreline, wishing he had a laggards eyes to pierce the black blank and spy what manner of hobpossums might be skulking there. He listened pointdly yet no discomforting sounds came to him across the river but the gentle plash of earthen-reeking water pushed aside by the blunt blade of the cromster’s bow and the endless batrachian chorus ringing out from the reedy mud. Undisturbed by man or monster, it was as if every tribe of frog had turned out to bellow from the sodden grime – long low hoomings, metalic ringings, repetative baritone mutterings and high pingings that almost gratted in the ear – a raucous trilling concord that did not cease even when late coming Phoebë raised her lumpen lunar dial above the dark eastern line of trees.

With the moon’s arrivial Economous made a bunk for himself where he lay. Draping his cloak over himself and doubting any prospect of sleep, he set himself to witness the transit of the celestial glories as he had once done on secret night excursions as a child. Trying to summon the ephemerides the tables showing seasonal planetary positions and subject of no small count of examinationaries at Athingdon Athy – to mind, he determined himself to witness the transit of tiny Jekyll across Maudlin’s midnight face. Yet as the great constellations – Vespasio, Medise Toxothene, Vauxall, the Tides and the Lots with luck-plagued Droid twinkling so innocently from within – span in radiant glory across the benighted dome, the silent rhythmic throb of the cromster’s gastrines and the gentle yawing of the deck lulled him…

                                                *          *          *          *          *

Monday, December 02, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 2

So, the inner wobbliness continues, by which I mean my uncertainty about many things, most especially: do I make the journey a "thing" (perhaps too repetitive of MBT)? Or, do I expedite the journey for a change, give a sense of the passing vista, making note of important highlights, but cutting to the chase plotwise?

The urge is strong (as ever) to show the Half-Continent for its own sake, but I fear that my urge here is less geographic completeness and more a fear of getting into the meat and potatoes of why I even began this story in the first.

You can see with this week's offering that the former has been my current approach...

Plotting ahead is one thing, but I have found there are just some points in a story where I will not know what happens in it or lies ahead until I have actually written that scene and been through it with my characters and seen how they all react together thus revealing the next step/s.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 2
The Sulk & Through

Slowly the Douse Fish got under way, treading with gradually gaining pace down channels marked among the collection of other vessels great and small by long heavy posts driven into the harbour bed, their scarlet painted tops pointing high out of the milky element. Ahead of her a pilot’s longboat of twelve oar somewhat redundantly – or so Economous thought – lead the way, its oarsmen straining to keep at speed.

Clear of the general crowding traffic of Middle Ground, the pilot boat signaled with the solemn waving of a large red burge. With a second, deeper shudder, the Douse Fish shook herself and quickly gathering a couple more knots, pointed north-east, setting for a course up the coast.

As the slowly turning long-boat was left behind, sea-birds Economous could identify as [………] terns and a few larger mollyawks squabbled and squawked as they flocked above the departing cromster. Diving and darting, they shot with a staccato of splashes into the roiling wake of the gastrin-vessel, each coming up with a wriggling flash of scaly silver in their long bills.

“They feed on fish,” remarked his fellow passenger, speaking at last, her voice having a soft musical lilt as one from the southern states of the Patricine. “And these in their turn come up from safer depths to feed on the effluent ejected from the pull below our feet,” by which she meant the gastrines arranged in a line about the treadle of the screw.

“Do they, indeed. I have ne’er seen a gastrine functioning before,” Economous said evenly then added in low and subtle irony. “Do you think the goodly captain would grant me a grand tour of the workings?”

The woman looked at him sharply then apprehending he was playing a jest, smiled wryly – an experssion that cracked her solemn mein like unexpected sun through winter storms. “I have it on good authority that he does,” she returned with equal satire. “Preceded by a grand luncheon of Pondeslee cheese, hart’s tongue and green-garnished spreadeagle – made from genuine eagle and not the usual whimbrels or craw-buzzards – all washed with the finest Equamine grass-wine.”

“After which he regales us with cheerful tales of all his near-misses and calamities turned to fortune,” Economous continued with a laugh, drawing an audible growl from Mister Patefract at his wheel. “Economous Musgrove, illuminator and sometime concometrist,” he offered introduction at last, touching a knuckle to the brim of his black tricorn. “At your service.”

Some-time concometrist,” came the flat reply. The woman arched a brow once more and saying nothing else, retreated into herself again and stared out at their heading.

The conversation went still as smartly as it had begun.

The Douse Fish pressed on towards a mighty bastion rising out of the white water. Cauda Caputum it was called; a slope-sided, flat-topped stronghold of brick and stone, appearing squat despite its great size, the northern-most bastion of the arx maria – five mighty sea-fortresses that rung the waters of the city about. Passing Cauda Caputum upon the left – the ladeboard as it was properly called in maritime service – Economous could make out Fidelis Fidës off to their right in the haze of middle distance, the next arc in the ring. Enormous spandarions of sable and leuc chequey – black and white checks – flew above them both, the proud flag of Brandenbrass at sea.

Past the grim watch of these arx the sea seemed released and set willingly to an increasingly powerful wallowing heave of wave that lifted and dropped the cromster’s deck in a ponderous rolling motion. Though the two passengers were far enough back to avoid much of the caustic spindrift that sprayed up and out from the blunt bow, a stinging mist pervaded the air, making Economous’ eyes red and winking sore. All this alarmed him at first, yet the handful of crew tending the weatherdeck did not show any concern and so the young illuminator grit his teeth and made a good showing. His first time ever at sea, Economous was gratified to find he did not suffer the sea-ills as most lubbers were wont of suffering especially upon a maiden voyage.

Taking out the salvaged confusion of pages that was his numrelogue – kindly rebound by Binbrindle as best as could with viol gut – Economous wrestled the spray and heave of wave to draw the small common wonders of the sea: the blunt headlands that served as their sea-marks, their vinegar-washed foundations craggy with scores of scabrous rocks serving as home to birds and fat waddling creatures – seelows he believed they were called – lazily baking themselves in the summer heat and bellowing cantankerously with every twitch or fart of the neighbours; dark olive-drab weed-wrack hissing past the cromster’s hull; a constant opportunistic escort of whimbrel gulls and terns hovering over the vessel’s mucky wake; discarded casks of every dimension bobbing by in a nigh-continuous flotilla – puncheons, barrels, hogsheads, even a great butt knocking with a damp hollow gonging upon the iron-clad hull of the Douse Fish; and always the pressing sweet-yet-sour reek of the ocean.

Once or twice the young illuminator stood to get a better view of some bird or flotsam only to arouse ire from Mister Patefract.

“Sit ye down, sir!” the master’s growl would come from the tiller-post behind. “Yer ticket fee dun’t cover me a-swimming to fetch ye out o’ th’ wine and none of me mateys know how to paddle to git ye.”

Remaining always in he place, his fellow passenger regarded the entire unfolding scene with serene uninterest.

Despite her slight size, her master plied the Douse Fish with skill as she hopped her way from headland to headland up the north-western coast of the Grume, so that by mid morning the little vessel made the Gullet where the great Humour river poured into the sea. Two low towers were there, one – the Underend – rising from the muck of the estuarine marshlands of the Sough on the Humour’s western shore, the other – the Over End – lifted upon great foundation-stones out of the very midst of the mighty river’s mouth. Under the watch of these fortalice, the Douse Fish joined several score of other vessels collecting from all compasses of the southern seas and even from far off and more fabled ports, marshalled before the western side of the river-mouth in a loose line stretching out to sea. On their right – to the east and beyond the bastion of Over End – Economous could see as many vessels as were labouring to enter the Humour, coming out of the same, hurried on under the river’s heavy outward push out into wild and open water. He could only marvel at the bizarre and impossible places some of them might be bound for, and felt a sault of joy that he too was on adventure to an alien destination. Squatting upon his rough seat before the helm, Economous stared in wonder at the gathered craft: many many cromsters of a surprising variety of lengths; lines of barges both laden and empty in the draw of iron-clad sheers-drudges; great shallow-draughted prams wide and flat to hold vast cargoes.

Upon the west of these, closer to shore in the quieter waters kept by the governing shadow of the Under End tower, a makeshift fleet of packets waited – light, two-masted sailers, each with signalling burge flags flying, requesting a tow behind any willing gastriner through the contrary surge of the out-flowing river. There was a time before gastrine vessels when such as these would have had to haul themselves through the churning eddys in their own boats by oar and arm alone. Indeed in these more enlightened times some still might, for though it was proper maritime practice for a gastriner to answer a Request for Towage, it was not – unless in time of open war – an absolute law. For the sailers moored by the Gullet it was a genuine lot-cast as whether a haul would be offered them or not by the masters of the muscle-driven vessels so commonly in their own hurry.

The Douse Fish trod within hailing distance of one such vessel – close enough for Economous to read Emperorfly upon her prow plate – and its master immediately called with great shouts for the cromster to heave to and throw the sailer a cable.

With a curse of, “Pullets and cockerils!” for the delay, Mister Patefract proved himself in some stripe a noble fellow after all and, slowing to a dead crawl had the loose end of the heavy, much-prized rope rowed in the cromster’s sole jollyboat to the needy packet.

Under proper tread again, the Douse Mouse took the weight of the Emperorfly in her stride at first, further into the Gullet she began to struggle against the full and mighty weight of southward pushing flow. With all limbres to the screw, the cromster shuddered as the muscles inside her gastrine boxes strained against the inexorable flow of the dark primordial river pouring into the milky waters of the vinegar sea. Economous clung to the sole mast as Douse Mouse – surely about to shake herself to flinders under her master’s obstinate command – juddered and heaved beneath the young illuminator’s unsteady feet. With a final lurch, the effluent surge let them go and cromster pushed her way into calm of the river proper, pulling a grateful Emperorfly with her. Yet Barge-master Patefract was far from content. Without pause the sour fellow ordered his own towage cable cast loose rather than lose precious moments in its proper retrieval, and so released of the sailer’s weight drove the hard-working craft on.

“We’ll nay make it, we’ll nay make it,” he kept grumbling to himself, determined to make the fortified rivergate of the Spindle before close of day when the fortress watchmen retired for the evening.