Chapter 2: Airship
Dafnord enters his room, ready to retire for the evening. It is only then that he realizes that his hair is a tangled mess. (It seems that, unbeknownst to him, a certain pixie had surreptitiously braided it into elflocks while they were in the pub, in return for being called a "petty fay.") He calls for a servant to help him, and gets one Findriel, a tall and comely Enorathi, who looks as if she has just been awakened from a comfortable sleep.
He explains that his hair is in knots, probably from his exciting boat ride down to town. She looks at it, and looks sideways at him. "No, I don't think it was the ride that did this."
"Well, maybe it was the Lightfall itself."
She gives him a searching look, but his obliviousness seems genuine, and he is the famous Dafnord. She therefore is happy to work on disentangling his hair. They chat, and he tells her about building his dream cabin, up beyond the Lightfall. She suggests that, especially if he is going to build there, he should learn more about the wood elves, pixies, and suchlike creatures, who live nearby.
He straightens a bit, and assures her that he has met quite a few of those beings. He mentions the infamous Battle of the Basement in Vanyagarond. Her laugh is rich and melodious. "Oh, is that what you call it?" He then chats a bit about his friend, Daphne. Again, Findriel tries to enlighten him, gently explaining that pixies can be very mischievous.
Finally, the penny drops. "Findriel, this wasn't done by the wind, was it?"
"It would have to be a... complicated wind."
"I need to make an apology."
Findriel makes an agreeing sort of noise, and keeps working to save as much of his hair as possible. He speculates about presents for a pixie. She makes suggestions, and casually mentions that any gift appropriate to an elf maid would also be suitable for a pixie. Her choices of phrasing and inflection start another penny rolling around Dafnord's head.
Eventually, the hair is completely free of tangles. She continues to comb it, and suggests that it should be washed. He is basking in the sensual glow of being groomed, and wonders if this might be a signal of attraction. He agrees to the offer of a shampoo. She suggests that he remove his nice shirt so that it doesn't get wet. Yes, thinks Dafnord, a shampoo is a nice continuation to the grooming ritual, and she is very pretty.
Do we have any half-elves in Lanthil? Yet?
Almost everyone makes it down to breakfast at the same time; only Dafnord is missing. We are the only ones in the family dining room, so we start to make our plans. Salimar frets that we don't have transport or a vehicle to use in our search for Tom Noon. Fallataal suggests that we should get a boat, since Tom had planned to circumnavigate Lanthil (widdershins). Salimar disagrees, and thinks that a flying vessel would be more flexible. She laments the absence of a map.
It's early in the day, so most of us only Look at her. Of course there isn't a map. Tom went off to make the first map.
We remember that we had decided that it would be good to ask the giant if he noticed anything about Tom's passage. (And why did Tom actually travel? He could have moved forward in the Emerald Metaphor every day, and transported back to the castle every night.) Salimar resolves to do so. Fallataal hesitantly informs her that the giant is not very approachable, and that it would certainly be unwise to do it in a small boat. In response to her question, he admits that it might work out if we contacted him from an airship. "Perhaps. He really doesn't like to be contacted. He could use his net against you. He takes in many fish with one throw of his net, so it is really something to watch out for." The elf informs us that the giant has his own island, and reiterates that no one has ever been welcomed there.
Salimar considers this, but continues to like the idea of an airship, so that we can go out to the giant, rather than waiting for him to come near shore.
Fallataal explains that most airships belong to the Council. We brood over this for a few seconds, then he suggests that we could at least ask Jonathan about borrowing one. We could definitely get all the provisions we'd need just by asking for them.
The elf then mentions that Tethycles is building a boat for him, and when asked if Tethycles might be willing to loan us his own boat while working on Fallataal's, he makes only polite noises. Salimar continues to prefer an airship.
We finish our breakfast, then troop off to find Jonathan or Melusine. We have no luck in doing that, or in finding much of anyone around. Eventually, we find someone who looks a lot like Daewen, but who introduces herself as Moranna.
Salimar learns that she is Daewen's daughter, and promptly engages her in a serious conversation about transport. She explains that we need to borrow something to look for Tom. She explains that although it could be either a boat or an airship, she favors the idea of an airship that could also be water-worthy. The discussion becomes technical, and possibilities, such as making it bigger on the inside than on the outside, and reinforcing it with silverwood, are bandied about.
We ask where Daewen is, and learn that she is up in her retreat near the Lightfall. We recall that Daewen is very good with silverwood -- having invented it. And Tethycles is in town and is very good with water ships.
Moranna goes off and finds the seneschal, who agrees to locate a ship for us. Several hours later, an elf tracks us all down to inform us that we're wanted in the courtyard. There, floating just above us, is a fairly large airship, with a lovely, decorated airbag holding it up. We know that the airbag is actually too small, and that magic is doing most of the work, but we don't care. It's just what we need. We're off to visit Daewen, then Tethycles, to make this airship seaworthy and, we hope, chaos-worthy. Because we may have to travel by water and we are almost certain to encounter chaos of one sort or another.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.