Read The Last Banquet (Bell Mountain) Online
Authors: Lee Duigon
The Last Banquet
By Lee Duigon
Published by Storehouse Press
P.O. Box 158, Vallecito, CA 95251
Storehouse Press is the registered trademark of Chalcedon, Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Lee Duigon
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Book design by Kirk DouPonce (
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2011933788
Table of Contents
What Angel Saw, But Could Not Tell
How the King Returned to Obann
How Orth Received a New Name
How Lord Reesh Met the Thunder King
A Message from the Thunder King
How Ellayne Carried Out Her Plan
How Ootoo Practiced Charity
A Valuable Piece of Rust and Dirt
How a Father Got News of His Daughter
What Galloid Discovered at the Golden Hall
How the Thunder King Prospered
The Last Stage of the Journey
How Chillith Delivered a Message to the Thunder King
“I think I’ll go fishing,” Gurun said.
“You should be getting ready for your wedding,” her father answered.
Gurun was sixteen; this day was her birthday. Tomorrow she would be married to a man named Lokk. He was her father’s friend, and his farm lay next to theirs. To combine the two properties would greatly enhance both families’ political position. The facts that Lokk was twenty years older than Gurun and had a large, unsightly wart on his cheek were unimportant.
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” she said. Her father nodded. He knew his daughter didn’t love Lokk, but also knew that she would do what was best for her family. Bertig, son of Flosa, had many troubles that would go away if he had more votes in the District Meeting; and every tenant on the land had a vote. If Lokk’s tenants voted with him all the time, Bertig’s enemies would have their claws clipped.
He made a noise in his beard. “Go ahead, go fishing,” he said. “I don’t think you will throw yourself into the sea.”
“Don’t give me ideas,” she said; and he laughed at that.
Gurun stepped outside. Like all the homes on Fogo Island, her family’s house resembled a low, sprawling hill of sod. Bertig was a wealthy man with a wife, four children, his old mother, and a crew of servants living with him. But there was no better way to build on Fogo Island; no other kind of house would survive the winter winds. Besides, lumber was always hard to come by. Long ago, when people from the south first settled the islands of the northern sea, they quickly learned to fear the winter. Those who survived the first winter only did so by taking shelter in barrows. These had been built to hold the bones of the dead: there was no one living on the islands when the settlers came there. What had become of the natives, no one knew. Only their tombs survived. And so the new arrivals patterned their homes on the houses of the dead.
But this was a fine and sunny summer morning. You might have thought it brisk and chilly, but to Gurun it seemed a perfect day for fishing.
Like most of the islanders she was tall and fair, pale-skinned, blue-eyed. She wore a one-piece woolen dress, cinched at the waist with a sealskin belt, and sealskin moccasins. That was all she needed.
She launched her little skiff into the cove and paddled out to sea. The day was still, without a breeze: no point in raising the sail. When the water was as still as this, it often meant a storm was coming. But the sky was clear of clouds, and it was not quite the season for storms, and Gurun was good with boats. Lokk had promised to take her along when he went whaling.
All over the horizon rose the peaks of snow-clad mountains. Every island had at least one. No one ever sailed out of sight of the mountains. These northern seas were prone to fog, and you had to be careful not to sail too far from land. In each settlement there were men who blew horns to guide boats overtaken by the fog.
Gurun baited her hook and let out her line. Inside of ten minutes she had two fine codfish. The waters this year teemed with fish. That was a good thing, for you had to catch more than enough to live on during the summer, and sun-dry the surplus to keep you through the winter. It did not strike Gurun’s people as a hard life. It was the only life they’d known for centuries, and they were happy in it.
Suddenly the line went taut and the boat lurched forward. Gurun hung on with both hands, bracing her feet against the gunwales.
“Praise God, it’s a big one!” she cried. A halibut, maybe. She mustn’t lose it. She prayed the Lord to bless her line so it wouldn’t break. When the fish tired of towing the boat, she could begin to haul it in.
So intent was she on fighting the fish that she didn’t notice the sky darkening overhead and black clouds sweeping in from the north. She didn’t notice anything until the wind began to blow her hair into her eyes. All she could do was shake her head. She didn’t dare let go of the line with either hand.
“I won’t let go!” she thought. “I won’t lose this one!”
The fish towed the boat farther out to sea. The wind blew. The clouds piled up, blotting out the sun. Then it began to rain, and Gurun realized she’d been caught by a storm. But still she would not let go.