The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 46: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Palace
Khajad does not arrive until after breakfast. Teller corners him, and asks him about becoming "not foreign." The translator and the Marginalus struggle to come to an understanding of "foreignness." Teller would like to learn the language and customs of Darkholme, and so become familiar with the culture. Khajad is firm: only those who are already of Darkholme can be not-foreign.
Lt. Jhejhaleen comes in, and informs us that he has not yet been successful at getting our appointment. We offer him some breakfast. He accepts, eats a breakfast cake and tea, then vanishes again.
Mandorak thinks deeply. The people of this land seem to bear a cultural similarity to one particular group in Lanthil. This is the group that patronizes Mannie's favorite pastry shop. This shop specializes in the many-layered honeycake, which is in competition with the elven honeycake (and is currently ahead.) The demand for exotic honeys led in many directions, the most successful of which is the honey from the blossoms of the chocolate fruit bushes.
The dwarf brings up the topic of "baklava." Khajad says that that is a term used in nearby lands for a many-layered honeycake, whereas here it is called "kopolus." Mannie raves about the baklava of chocolate fruit blossoms. Khajad has heard of the cacao bean, but we assure him that the chocolate fruit, which is rich and creamy and perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter, is new, and is grown in Lanthil. We urge him to travel to Lanthil, and experience it for himself.
"Perhaps I will, when it is time," he assures us, especially Teller.
Teller points out that if Khajad travels to "foreign" parts, he will learn that being foreign is not bad. The translator protests that he never said that foreign was bad. Teller tries to push Khajad into understanding that "foreign" becomes less alien and incomprehensible the more you understand it. Then Teller asks if the land of Darkholme has enemies.
"Yes, we have some, but they don't stay long."
Teller tries to learn about those enemies, so as to be prepared against them, and so that, if we saw them first, we could warn Darkholme. He is not forthcoming. Teller explains that we are seeking other ways to develop links between our lands. Khajad assures us that our kopolus, our honey, and our chocolate fruit are a good beginning.
We veer over into going through the markets, looking for suitable trade goods.
Lt. Jhejhaleen returns, and announces that we have our appointment, just one-twentieth of a day before the noon prayers. It will be at the Fifth Temple of the Palace Gardens. We'll be meeting the high priest, and we should be able to do our business with him. Under questioning, we learn the vizier is the head of the Temple of Knowledge. We ascertain that, if we give one of our books to the High Priest of the Fifth Temple of the Palace Gardens, then he would have something valuable to give as a gift to the vizier. Eric thinks about the books he has, and decides that The Races of Earth, which is a small book in Elvish and Anglic, and which does not contain any critical information. Unfortunately, this is one of Daëwen's original editions, and it cannot be copied magically, and it is on the Tindomë. Eric starts in on it, and, with his papermancy, has nearly half the book transcribed before we are scheduled to leave for our appointment. He had hoped to get through the entire little volume, but…
When he and Eïr return from the ship (Her patient is doing well.), we discuss the best phrasing to us to justify giving the High Priest only half a book – and still let him know that he will be getting the rest of it later.
While Eric was copying the Silver Book, we browsed through the markets and found ____ ____ ____, which seems like a very promising trade good.
We are escorted to our appointment at the palace, under the disapproving gaze of the Watchers (as always). After four or five blocks, we are accosted by a nine of guards, who accuse us of being foreign, and unbelievers, and spies. Lt. Jhejhaleen and his three men prepare to stand up to them. The lieutenant advises us to tighten up behind his men; they level their spears. Eïr is the first to ask Khajad to inform these persons that we have been invited to the palace. He explains that the lieutenant must give him permission to speak. Eïr leans over and tells Captain Finwë. The nine line up in three arrowheads, against our three with their arrowhead. Lt. Jhejhaleen raises his voice, and speaks in a threatening tone. His opponent seems dismissive and scornful.
We ask Khajad about his speaking up. He says that currently Lt. Jhejhaleen is using his own authority, and is making this a palace issue. "He could bring up the paper from the Prefect of the Gate, but he has not; therefore, I am reluctant to interrupt." He explains that perhaps the house guards in nearby buildings would decide that the palace guard (ours) should be defended, and perhaps we are entitled to defend ourselves.
The commander of the nines brandishes his bladed mace. Mandorak looks around for a throwing stone, Teller fingers his blowpipe, and Bavör thinks where to apply telekinetic pressure.
A word is spoken. The two set of guards advance a step each. Another word, and another step. "Our" point man now has his blade against the breastplate of the hostile captain. The latter steps back, and so does his center triad of men. Four house guards come down the steps from the house on the left, a leader and a triad. Without looking back at them, Lt. Jhejhaleen says a word, and his three men step forward.
The newly arrived captain says something loud and angry. ("He backs Jhejhaleen," says Khajad.) Guards come from another house. They too, more weakly, back our lieutenant.
In a sudden movement, Lt. Jhejhaleen grabs the mace from his opponent. While his opponent shouts angrily, he steps forward, and blocks the spear of the foremost spearman with the mace. Lt. Jhejhaleen's lead spearman trips up the opposing captain, then Jhejhaleen steps back, and onto the captain's body. The leftmost of our spearmen grabs the sword from the scabbard of his nearest opponent and holds it at the ready. The rightmost spearman uses his spear to split the triad against him into two parts. The center spearman puts the btt of his spear on the neck of the downed man.
Lt. Jhejhaleen announces something again. One opposing triad steps back slowly, then another, then the third. Their captain says something, but his men continue retreating.
Jhejhaleen requests something of the house guard captain from the house on the left, and he takes over guarding the downed captain. The guards shift to our left, we shift to our right, and we proceed on our way. The spearmen re-form, to surround us. At a particular house, Lt. Jhejhaleen turns aside, enters the doorway, announces something loud and scornful, then tosses the mace in through the door. He makes a final comment. Teller resolves to remember it, as does Eïr.
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