As night fell, Greatmoon was just above the horizon, and bright. The scene was remarkably peaceful and beautiful as Nagg stood his watch. After the heat of the day it was good to sit in the night breeze, looking at the distant purple hill, and trying to imagine the sound of the distant sea - a sound which until a few days ago had been with him for years. Strain his ears though he might, he could not persuade himself that he could hear it. Other sounds reached him with a startling clarity though. The sounds were different to those of the forest. There, all the sounds seemed close by. Here the breeze brought the buzz of a host of nighttime insects from a great distance. The cries of night-hunting birds reached him too - far more frequently than they had in the forest. He wasn't outdoorsman enough to know whether this meant hunting was better or worse.
A nearby rustling sound startled him, but turned out to be just a wormtail going about its business. Back on the Lacerto, wormtails had been his constant enemies - no ship was completely free of the hardy little rodents, no matter how efficient the ship's cats or how diligently the crew set traps. They seemed to feel that they had as much right to Nagg's stores as the cook himself.
Here however there was something nostalgic about such a familiar sight.
"What brings you out on such a fine night, small one? And so near to people too?" he asked it. The tiny creature froze at the sound, and then rose up on its hind legs to look about, wrinkling its nose and waggling its whiskers about in a manner he found most endearing.
But then, instead of suddenly bolting out of sight as he'd expected, it worked its way closer to him. It moved in little burst, scuttling from side to side so that its movements seemed almost random. I wonder if it knows that it's imitating a windblown leaf. I wouldn't have thought there was room in that small head for such a big thought.
The wormtail wound up just a fingersbreadth from his now-disreputable right boot. For a number of years the sight of these creatures had enraged Nagg, knowing as he did that they were stealing his choicest supplies. But now it seemed like a friendly letter from his former life. It was quite unafraid - as if it had never seen a ship's cook before. He reached towards it, half-intending to pet it, but the movement finally alarmed it, and it made its way at full speed, right past Arna. As it passed her, it raised a tiny puff of dust which struck her full in the nose. She sneezed and woke with a start. As she sat up, the dust made her wrinkle her nose in a manner startlingly reminiscent of the rodent.
"What...?" she began, only half-awake.
Nagg mimed putting his front paws up to his face, looking from side to side like a wary worm tail, and grinning all the while.
The warrioress of course had no clue as to what madness he was about, and she looked around for the cause of his amusement. Her swift inquisitive movements reminded him again of the small visitor, and its actions when he'd spoken. He half-expected her to scuttle across to his boot. He chuckled at the thought.
"What are you laughing at, you madman?" she asked, sternly. He repeated his pantomime, a gentle smile never far away. A grin began to play around her lips too, though she had no idea what had amused him.
"I just made a new friend," he informed her.
"Out here?"
"Oh, just a small one." He went on to explain. He told her of the creature's lack of fear.
Her practical mind saw an implication straight away that he had not. "Good news," she suggested, " -it probably means that it hasn't encountered people, or halfmen, before. Or else it would have been afraid, not curious. That probably means we're safe from the halfmen for the moment."
" That sounds good," said Nagg," unless..."
"Unless what?"
"Well, maybe there's a good reason why the halfmen don't come here. Maybe there's some horribly dangerous. I don't know what would be horribly dangerous to a halfman but not apparently worry a wormtail though..."