The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 52: Dockside Difficulties
Teller is at the City Gate, when the carriage, escorted by Lt. Jhejhaleen and his remaining six men, slows to make the stairs. Teller, moving quite stealthily, slips next to the lieutenant, and draws his attention. Teller, with a combination of pantomime and simple words, points out the building where men are “watching.” Jhejhaleen gestures a few commands, and his two triads re-arrange themselves around the carriage.
Mandorak continues watching the rooftop. His viewpoint, well above all obstructions, observes only the one man, calmly drinking… something dark. He examines the other rooftops nearby, but their occupants seem to be behaving innocuously. He continues to scan around. Bavör joins him, but watches to seaward, a previously neglected direction.
The carriage comes jouncing slowly down the stairs on the outside of the City Gate. Mannie announces, “The carriage is coming through the gate.” The cobbled street provides further rugged travel. The lieutenant pauses until his second triad has cleared the gate. Then he whistles, and his final triad returns back up the stairs. The carriage and escorts pass down towards the Tindomë, and pass the house with the watchers without any incident.
Teller, exercising his acute foresight, watches the trailing triad of men, slowing to keep them in view. The men return through the gate. There, they are joined by the missing triad. The six men interleave, and seem to be retreating back towards the gate.
Mannie’s high viewpoint enables him to watch the triads over the City Wall. He can see that they are being pressed by about two dozen guards wearing various sorts of uniforms. Farther down the boulevard, there are two sets of nines in palace guard uniforms, headed up the street towards the gate at a brisk pace.
Suddenly, the middle group of guards rushes towards Jhejhaleen’s men. Mannie observes another nine, these wearing the golden uniforms of the City Guards, rushing towards the impending melee. The Jhejhaleen six turn towards those guards on their right flank, leaving the main body to the attentions of the City Nine. The Palace Nines pick up their pace to a full combat trot, and the boulevard clears in front of them.
At the Temple of Healing, Eïr has taken her leave of Grandfather Healer. She asks Khajad which route to the City Gate he recommends. He assures her that the main boulevard is the most discreet path, and so that is the way they go. Therefore, they have no difficulty in observing the two Palace Nines trotting down the main street towards the Gate. Eïr and Khajad follow in their wake.
Mandorak, in scanning around, spots the motley crew of sailors and harbormen moving up from the docks towards Lt. Jhejhaleen. He reports over the intercom that a not-quite-gang of thugs is coming. Bay dives down to the engine room, to start the engines. Teller scurries to the carriage, to urge the two young women to prepare to move very quickly. Eric, fingering his sleep darts, stands expectantly on the gangplank.
Lt. Jhejhaleen draws his sword, and arranges his few men into a defensive posture. When Mannie looks again, there are fewer thugs clustered together.
As the healer and her translator approach the City Gate, they see the City Guards, the Palace Guards, and Jhejhaleen’s six men. The opposing guards have melted away.
The coach door opens, and Sam and Sarah emerge. Sam urges her sister down the ladder to the ship, while squirming in her layers of clothing. The lieutenant and his men clearly have any small crowd under complete control. Refusing any offers of help, Sarah makes her way down the ladder.
“Catch!” yells Sam. She tosses most of her layers of clothes to Eric, and dives off the dock into the water. She then swims to the ships and boards by herself. Sarah, miffed that she had to struggle down the ladder in her layers of clothes, dumps her cloak over Teller, who has made the tactical mistake of offering to lead Sarah to her quarters. She makes her way on board, shedding garments as she moved.
Mandorak greets Sam, and assures her that things are well. Sam nods and heads, dripping, to her own room.
Eïr and Khajad are joined by the Captain of the Gate as they make their way down the harborway. The Captain asks how they found their accommodations at his aunt’s boarding house.
Eïr is gracious. “Your recommendation was well taken. It was a fine house, and we were most comfortable at Madame Fishilashi’s.”
“I will pass on your compliments to her.”
With a vague gesture around, Eïr asks, “What happened here?”
“To be honest, I’m not quite sure. When I saw that your guard was encountering difficulties, I felt that we should offer assistance.”
The two of them discuss the likelihood that future visitors to Darkholme would find those ruffians a difficulty. The captain is optimistic; his does not believe that those guards were acting in accord with their masters’ wishes.
When Eïr, Khajad, and the Captain arrive at the Tindomë’s mooring, the carriage is being turned around on the quay, leaving behind a moderately large trunk. Mannie stops by the box of treasure, and scoops up a few handfuls of gold coins, which he stuffs into a pair of drawstring purses. He gives the smaller bag to the leader of the Palace Guards, to be disbursed among the guards, and monks (who came in the carriage and unloaded the trunk).
He asks Khajad about giving the larger bag to Lt. Jhejhaleen and his men. It seems it would be too awkward to give it to them for doing the job that the Harbor Guards should have done, and it is improper to give it in token of Captain Finwë’s celebration. We can’t even stand them drinks, because they are still on duty. We finally hit upon making a donation to the local equivalent of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association.
It is considered odd but acceptable. Khajad makes a long speech on our behalf. Eïr disappears briefly during this speech, and returns with a gift for Khajad: her old grammar book. He assures her that he considers it an honor to accept it. He puts it in his pocket, managing not to touch it very much. The dwarf picks up a small, volcanic rock as he returns on board.
Our Captain Finwë takes Khajad aside, and pays him his wages, plus a nice gift, accompanied by a gracious elven speech. Khajad smiles and bows his way back onto the quay. Bavör snaps the warping lines off their pylons with telekinesis, and we pull away from the Darkholme docks.