The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
50: Promises, Promises
The next day comes and, with our standard escorts, we return to the temple where Sarah and Sam are sequestered. In the palace yard, we are met by a small party containing the Creature of the Adjutant of the Vizier. He has his own cluster of guards, including one we vaguely recognize. He comes up to us, escorted by this lieutenant and eight other soldiers. Those two discuss something with our Lt. Jhejhaleen. Khajad explains that they are objecting to our frequent presence here in the palace. Eïr murmurs that we were invited. Khajad nods. Finwë merely smiles gently; he is waiting for his daughters.
Jhejhaleen momentarily ignores the Creature, speaks to one of his men, and gestures towards the temple. "He has asked one of his men to escort us to the temple," explains Khajad.
The soldier leads us out, and we follow. The Creature steps into our path, and starts to gesture at us. Then he stops, and stares directly at Eïr and her box. In the pause, Finwë leads us past him. Khajad stops to address him. The Creature's whiny voice rises in outrage. We glance back to see that Khajad, looking amazingly aristocratic, is looking mildly amused. In a pause in the rant, Khajad says something, and gestures towards Eïr. We suspect that he has informed the Creature that Eïr is now a student of Grandfather Healer. Anyhow, the Creature splutters into silence, and we leave him behind.
In this quiet, we hear Jhejhaleen joining us. There are people watching us from the windows of the temple. We politely ignore them. A well-dressed young man takes his position at the base of the entry stairs. We approach him, and we nod to each other. He asks, via Khajad, "May I help you?"
Captain Finwë explains, "Yes, you may. We have been summoned here. My healer, Eïr, is to attend on her patient here. I have been requested to come as well. I presume that it is something to do with my daughter." We arrive in the main entry hall. We hear dainty feet coming down the stairs.
There are three modestly-clad young ladies arraying themselves at the base of the stairs. The young man speaks with them. One giggles, and they all step aside, gesturing us to come with them. Eïr gestures back, the giggler giggles again, and we climb up to the second floor entryway. They follow us up, and soon surround us in a giggling mass. Our healer explains that she's here to assist Jhazhneen. They recognize the name, and giggle more, and lead her along the main corridor leading into the depths of the building while the rest of us stay put.
As they lead her along, the middle girl gestures to the window, mugs an impression of the Creature and makes a sad face, then she smiles hugely. Eïr smiles in return, then carefully but inadequately stifles her smile. The novice then gestures to the medicine box and bows very deeply; Eïr bows condescendingly back, then breaks out in a smile. The girl smiles broadly in return. A guard steps away from a door, and she enters a familiar sickroom.
We check with Khajad about his conversation with the Creature. Yes, the fellow had many concerns about our presence in the palace, and 'worried' that more troops would be needed to guard us in the palace. Khajad explained that the Creature is at the rank of the Jhejhaleen's captain, but is still not allowed to command Lt. Jhejhaleen. He said that what really astounded him was his recognition of the personal healing box of the Grandfather of the First Temple of Healing in the hands of Eïr.
Delicately, Khajad then explains that he believes that the Creature wished to accuse Eïr of stealing the box but... well, the repercussions of the implied accusations against Khajad and Jhejhaleen would have been... too implausible to deal with.
The young man re-appears, and leads Finwë and Khajad through the heavy curtain and down to the same room where they met the High Priest on the previous occasion. There is the High Priest, dressed even more elegantly, sitting at his high desk. He nods. "Good morning, Ajahdi ha'Lanthili."
"Good morning," replies Finwë, happily taking up this new title as part of his name.
"We have considered the generous offer you made for the woman... who is your daughter. We have also taken into consideration the quality of character of your outlandish doctor in taking care of one of our people."
Finwë checks with Khajad about "outlandish." It turns out to be the least offensive way to refer to Eïr. Finwë goes back to smiling.
"You will understand that discussions had already begun with certain parities regarding the situation of that young woman. These prior negotiations were due some consideration."
The captain inclines his head. "I respect that the situation has made all this a delicate process."
"Nevertheless," continues the High Priest, "it is important for us to have good relations with suitable foreigners, and that possibility stands before these considerations. We will accept your kind offer, and we will see to it that, before the end of this day, we will return the young lady to you."
"Ah. Words cannot...! I am at a loss for words!" Finwë cannot contain himself. "Oh, oh, my goodness! The arrangements! Have you, by any chance, already selected an envoy to come to Lanthil, and have arrangements already been made? Or will that take many days or weeks?"
"It may take some time to select an appropriate envoy, given the many interests now involved. If it is not grossly inconvenient to you, we would like to take our time to make this selection."
The elf gatheres his dignity. "I ask because, if an envoy has already been chosen, we would take him with us on the Tindomë. Otherwise, we would go on with our voyage, and pick up your choice on our return here."
"Certain scholars have expressed concern about your ability to return to Darkholme."
Finwë re-assures him that he, Mr. Craggenhilt, and Mr. Forothon are all expert navigators, and we have a device that will enable us to retrace our steps to here.
The priest explains, somewhat apologetically, that he had been given to understand that there were doubts about them, or anyone, returning from a land that Darkholme sailors had not been able to find.
Finwë explains that Lanthil is new in the sense that the soil itself has only recently come into existence, so years of not finding has little significance. He assures the High Priest that finding Lanthil is as much a matter of practice as of anything else. He points out that within only a few months of Lanthil's founding, a small merchant vessel had crossed the Open Sea from a place that might have been (but was not) Darkholme to Lanthil.
The High Priest explains that it will take between three and six tens of days to select a suitable envoy. Since this person will be expected to record his findings, some work will be required to see that he is not ill-equipped. He admits to one concession. "We would be willing to accept your assurance that you would return to Darkholme, in exchange for the return of the young woman."
"Oh yes. I expect to remain the captain of the Tindomë. Because of what you have said, I would return to Lanthil with my children, and make preparations for the arrival of your envoy, then return here."
"With no disrespect to you, there are some who doubt the wisdom of accepting an outlander's word on such a thing."
Finwë is not offended. "I can understand, as a philosophical point, the exercise from the opposite point of view..."
The High Priest dismisses the doubters. "I am - and it is my decision - content to accept your word. I merely wished to point out that there were those who believed otherwise. The longer your presence is felt here, the more these people will be bothered by..."
"Ah," says our elf. "My mother had a saying, 'out of sight, out of mind.'"
"Your mother has an astute turn of phrase."
"Shall we return this evening, or should there be other arrangements?" the captain asks. "Eir, our healer, will be returning here this evening. Nevertheless, your kind offer to return her to us at our ship would satisfy several parties, not all of whom are here now."
"Yes, that is acceptable. We should, of course, make sure that your healer can come, and return without difficulty. About arranging your departure..."
"Ah, yes. There are practical matters: the settling of the final accounts with Madame Fishilashi, and the return of Grandfather Healer's box to him, after our healer has finished ministering to your priestess."
"We shall be sure to return her and the box to Grandfather. This has already been included in our plans."
Finwë contacts Eïr telepathically. "There is good news. Sarah will be returned to us this afternoon, and you will be escorted first to Grandfather to return his box, and then back to us."
Eïr acknowledges the good news. She has been successfully treating her patient and, by pantomime, teaching her assistant. They make use of the paper with the glyphs-for-illiterates instructions to communicate.
Finwë continues, "How long will you need to attend to your patient? The High Priest has made it clear that the sooner we leave the better."
She explains that she needs to return at noon and again in the evening.
Finwë turns back to his host and explains his pause. "Eïr informs me that she must return to her patient at noontime and this evening.... She is, however, finished for now, and can return with us to Madame Fishilashi's."
The High Priest asks, "Has Hannaleia proven to be a satisfactory apprentice in healing?"
"Our healer has found her to be clever and satisfactory."
They make their farewells, and the young man emerges from his corner to return our captain to us. Beaming, he announces "Good news. Sarah will be returned to us this evening, along with Sam."
Finwë turns to the young man. "I understand that Eïr has finished with her ministering, and so she may return with us." The young fellow nods, and heads off, to find that Eïr is coming his way, accompanied by four young women, the original three and Hannaleia.
Eïr has Khajad translate instructions about patient care. A lengthy conversation ensues, now that they can actually communicate. Eïr urges her to continue training in the healing arts, and to ask for other priestesses to be trained, since priestesses cannot be cared for by outside, male healers. Hannaleia agrees. Then Eïr tries to explain about healing magic, and Hannaleia nods, and says earnestly that she has been taught that sometimes, some particular person could have a desire to heal take effect.
We make our farewells. Eïr makes arrangements for her noon and evening visits unaccompanied by the rest of us. We head out to the palace gate. At the gate we spot the Creature with his nine soldiers. Before we can reach there, we are passed by a troupe of priests, and due to their press, we pass through the palace gates without actually encountering the Creature. A quick, surreptitious glance backwards shows a glowering figure on the ramparts watching us.
Back at the boarding house, we hear deep, resonant male laughter coming from the main living room at Madame Fishilashi's. There is the Captain of the City, chatting with his aunt.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.