The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 29: A Present for the Prefect
We chat among ourselves. Mentally, we decide not to discuss our visit to
Port Rouge, and how we acquired Aldamir and Micah. Aldamir talks about
Tighmark, bitterly commenting about its closed borders, due to its
overbearing neighbor. We agree, because we are out exploring as a result of
the same events. It turns out that Mannie spent some of his spare time
carving banisters and finials in the Lanthil castle.
A servitor entered and announced, "The Prefect of the Gate will see you." He leads us up a staircase, and well up into the tower next to the gate. We enter a grand-sized room, with a coffee table and cushion set-up in the middle of it. An elderly, but fit man sits in the fanciest armchair. We are escorted forward. The captain signals Eric to prepare the silver goblet with semi-precious gems.
In response to a languid gesture from the Prefect, we sit in a semi-circle around his chair. The Prefect looks expectant. Finwë has Eric present the token of our esteem (in its magical wrapping paper). It is taken by the servant, who takes it to the Prefect. They mutter together, before the Prefect sits it down in front of him. He opens it gingerly (or daintily).
Most of us watch the elderly man, but Teller is examining the entire room. He is much taken with a gargoyle, 'way up there, whose eyes seem to follow him around.
Khazhad translates the Prefect's remarks: he thanks us for our gift, and welcomes us to his tower room. And we are here because…?
The captain gives his increasingly polished explanation of us as Lanthil's explorers and ambassadors. We therefore are asking for an exception, to be allowed to enter the city of the Serpent Prince, and so we have entered his august presence.
The Prefect nods. His gaze drifts up and to the right of Finwë. The captain looks around, and finds a tall man, dressed in black robes with silver edging, standing surprisingly close to him. The Prefect gestures to him, and he glides smoothly into a low chair next to the older man. The newcomer examines the wrapping paper and goblet.
The Prefect says, "Since this is your first visit here, for any of your people, it is indeed unusual to grant you entry into our city. We are concerned by the unusual mix of people here."
We are back to the concept of us as master spies. Snigger. Finwë explains that that is merely one interpretation of our occupation, and that he (ever so graciously) understands (and forgives) it. The Prefect apologizes for the paranoia of his Captain, although he can see its plausibility. Our captain explains that our crew is small, and everyone has many duties and skills. He also points out that he has been appointed an emissary of Lanthil for the (undetermined) duration of this voyage.
The Prefect asks how many times we expect to enter through the gate. Finwë says that he expects one visit for sure, and admits the possibility that we may have to come and go more than once. The Prefect checks that we want only to meet the Serpent Prince, and not visit the temples, or meet with "templars." This word gives Khazhad pause, and we confer over it. The captain explains that our intentions are perfectly secular, although some of our party have ties to religion, and the tales of the land. We would be happy to visit their temples, if requested, but we were not planning on it. The translation of this is short; we imagine that it is, "They're heathens."
Khazhad continues his explanation, and the Prefect looks increasingly confused. He says something in return. Khazhad says, "As long as you are willing to be accompanied by Guards of the City, in your journey to the palace, it may be possible to allow you to meet the Serpent Prince, as you desire."
"Of course! Escorts you believe are appropriate would be welcome," responds Finwë.
The man in black leans over, and addresses the Prefect in a very quiet voice. The elder man says, "Suppose you return her to the Gate Tower at midday tomorrow. That should give me sufficient time to make arrangements."
Finwë indicates his acquiescence. The tall man stands smoothly to escort us back. We rise and follow him. Teller leaves behind a small monitoring token. At the staircase, he is joined by a short, round man, who is wearing black with metal trim, including a large knife or small sword. He too moves gracefully. We are escorted down, and released into the harbor area.
We talk with Khazhad, making arrangements to meet him the next day, just before midday. He assures us that his people are very tolerant of social errors by foreigners, and that such errors are very common. (The most common error is our failure to believe.) There are places of worship in the outer city, especially for the unbelievers.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.