Seamus Stops By

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My old friend Seamus Gumbo had not been up to Winterfell for quite a while.

“You are really moving up, partner. I can tell the world I remember you when you just had that little bit of mainland and that funky house with the door you could never close,” he said with a hearty laugh.

We were standing at the north gate of The Castle at Cape Whitfield in Winterfell Haven. “OooooWeeee, this is some digs you got here, Danko,” Seamus said with a whistle.

He was a little bit jealous but happy for me nonetheless. Ever since Seamus visited me in my first days in Laudanum he has talked of owning property in Winterfell. “Some day I’ll buy a big plot up north in those woods and live in a castle,” he used to say. Now he was here to stay in my castle for a few days, the first of my friends to use the new guest room in the north wing.

Seamus recently sold his Tanglewood property as his work has taken him away from this world for a while. But he has a few days this month to visit. He dropped his bags in the guest room and I gave him the grand tour. After supper we took our steins down to the dock and watched the water and took in the night air.

We talked of old times on the Mainland when I was Mayor and he was the proprietor of the local head shop. “We were livin’ high in those days,” he punned. I tried not to spit out my ale as I laughed. Seamus reached into his pocket and pulled out a pipe. “Time for an ‘attitude adjustment’,” he said with an illegal smile.

“What was the name of that town where we put up The Emerald Inn? ‘Hilltop’ or something?” he said as he puffed. “Onatopp,” I replied. “Yeah, that was it. On-a-topp of a hill” he said as he exhaled. Seamus handed me the pipe. It had been quite a while since I had imbibed but I must admit I had hoped he was bringing some of his “top shelf shit” when he had telegrammed to say he was coming to Winterfell for a visit.

“Man, you got it made in the shade up here, Mr. Ambassador,” Seamus said. “I knew when you first moved here that you had found your true home. I think I knew it before you did!” He was right, he had realized it on his very first visit to Winterfell and had told me so though I didn’t get it at the time. “A special, special place,” he mumbled as he lit the pipe again. He took a long, slow draw and handed it back to me.

When the contents of the pipe were exhausted, Seamus excused himself to go up to the guest room and sleep after his long journey, for he was exhausted too. It was very late but I stayed there on the dock, gazing at my ship, the water, the night sky. I thought about my own long journey as I sipped the last of my ale…from the Mainland to the Steamlands; from a house in town to a cottage in the woods to a castle by the sea.

Seamus knows me better than anyone. And he was right. What a lucky man I am.

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

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That Darn Cat

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Ulysses The Cat keeps getting lost in the castle.

Actually he’s not lost, I just can’t find him most of the time.

I know he’s here because his food disappears at regular intervals and the occasional dead mouse is placed by the north gate. However, I may have to bring him to another residence if I wish to see him more often.

Once I find him that is.

Dancing With The Boss

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At the After Party following the recent Winterfell 5th Anniversary celebration, I had the high honor of dancing with Lady Twilight.

It is always dangerous to dance with your boss. You have to be on your toes at all times. And you certainly don’t want to be on hers. And you don’t want to drop her either. No, that would not be good. And when your boss is a head of state, well it is pretty much the ultimate in dangerous. The possibilities for a screw up are mindboggling. You can’t even think about the possibilities or you will surely embarrass yourself. You just have to watch your own feet, smile at her and keep the conversation light – no work-related topic unless she brings it up. That’s the hardest part. Now, if she says, “So, Ambassador, where are we with…” such-and-such a diplomatic issue? Well, that is easy, you go straight into Ambassador-mode and give your report. But otherwise it is up to you to bring up something interesting without talking about anything, anything important that is. Because this is an After Party and Miss Serra is here to relax.

But you can’t go too far in the direction of nothing important. “Quite foggy here in Winterfell lately, don’t you think?” will never do. BOR-ING. You must do better than that. Small talk under these circumstances is much trickier than you might guess. What to say, what not to say, how much to say – when she has everyone at the party talking to her. And you must keep up with what the others are saying too and chime in from time to time. It does tap all of one’s diplomatic training.

It could be quite nerve-wracking. But not with Miss Serra. She has a way of putting people at ease immediately. Whether they are newcomers on their first visit to Winterfell or old hands in the realm. I did marvel as I watched her chat with the other partiers, with the DJ, with me and with those just arriving or leaving and all the while smiling and dancing away.

Me? I survived. And I didn’t say anything stupid.

At least I don’t think I did.