The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 94: Tea and Silver
We have our gold now, so we troupe back to the Steward of the Harbor. The Captain, accompanied by our new translator, and trailed by Teller, is led back into the Steward's office. He presents a series of stacks of gold coins with a flourish. The Steward takes six large ones, and hesitates over two smaller ones. "Our preliminary investigations have shown traces of those you are searching for, back as far as you had suggested."
"Then you should take the other coins, for a more extensive search. Gold is gold, after all."
"I see that you have taken my advice, and provided us with… really very obscure coins. I hope you are saving your more common coins for your sample purchases."
The Captain laments that we have not had much opportunity for that, but brightly suggests that we will be doing that soon. With good feeling on both sides, our group takes its leave of the Steward.
Teller notices that the Steward was fondling a token all the time he was talking with us. (The rest of us had noticed this earlier.) He asks the Captain about them. The Captain is a bit confused. "We've seen lots of people using them, even the captain on the ship before we actually arrived."
"But where did they come from? Who has them? …" He finally talks to Tala-a'zahd about them. The translator is positively bewildered; he has no idea what Teller is talking about. The Captain intervenes, and explains that we have been seeing this translation tool on many occasions on this trip.
"I am aware that there are many magical devices that can performs the duties of a translator, but I had not noticed any such thing."
"Where do they come from?" asks the Marginalis.
"I don't remember the Steward having one, so I can't say where he would have gotten it." Tala-a'zahd mutters something sibilant under his breath. We walk on to Madame Fishilashi's for lunch, and to see if we've gotten any mail. There is an excellent lunch, but no messages. Finwë, on a whim, asks Madame Fishilashi if she has a favorite silversmith. She gives us directions.
We head towards the silversmith, back towards the City Gate. Looking up, Eric sees the Captain of the Gate in conversation with a lieutenant from the Eagle. This is the first person from the Floating Isles we've seen in the city. "I wonder what she's doing here?" Eric points.
We decide to not intrude on their conversation — until the lieutenant spots us and waves. We wave back, and we waves to us to join her. Lieutenant Sonaiya is with Captain Tighamon Vishaal. Captain Vishaal explains that the lieutenant was discussing getting a City Pass in order to look for us, made more difficult because the captain doesn't have a translator token. The captain writes something in his notebook, then pulls out the page and gives it to Sonaiya. "I have added the lieutenant to your City Pass. Please keep her with you."
Finwë asks, "Were you looking for us for any particular reason?"
"Why, yes," she replies. We return to street level, and head for the silversmith's. "I wasn't sure if it was important. A young woman came by the docks and was looking for you."
"She seemed quite agitated. She didn't want to stay there long. She seemed afraid of being seen. She asked explicitly for you people. I made arrangements with her to meet at a tea shop out near the harbor, in a tenth day."
"Oh! That's very soon. We should go now." Finwë decides that he should be the one to go, that all of us would be too intimidating. There is a certain juggling of Harbor Passes and the City Pass, and deciding who goes with whom, and the party splits in two.
Shortly after our group settles into its booth in the tea shop, a young woman, well-dressed in black and silver, approaches. She unclips her veil, and Lt. Sonaiya says, "may I introduce Miss Katzakatsi."
The young woman winces, and essays a gentle correction, "Ka'at-Tahjhaski. We have met before, but were not introduced. I was at the Temple when you arranged the return of your daughter" She does look vaguely familiar; she is at least not making this up.
I hope it was not inappropriate to approach you, and I hope I have not brought you increased danger." Captain Finwë Nuuru Ho Fanyarë Ciryandil is not made nervous by this. She urges him and his crew to leave Darkholme "while you still can." He asks who is the danger to us, the minions of the Serpent Prince? The priests?
Her response is discrete or perhaps just cryptic: "There is no greater power in the land than that under which they act."
Finwë asks, "Have we offended the Serpent Prince in any way?"
"No, not that I know of." Finwë has been watching her mouth closely; she is speaking Quenya.
"Well, this is an excellent tea, is it not? Oh, let me compliment you on your command of our language."
"Oh, I deserve no credit for that. Please do not mention my name, and please leave this land as quickly as possible." She repositions her veil, and leaves.
"It's odd. She speaks your language with your own accent when she speaks to you. She spoke our language like one of us when she spoke to the people of the Eagle." She goes on to mention that the Captain of the Eagle has arranged his cargo loading so that he can leave on a moment's notice without much financial loss. Finwë appreciates that. He is impatient to discuss this warning with the rest of his crew.
The rest of his crew is perusing the wares at the silversmith. There is a mind-numbing number of pieces involving entwined serpents. The rest are more abstract forms. Mandorak is drawn to a torc of phenomenal work, of amazing detail. The jeweler compliments him on his taste and discernment. He has letters attesting to its provenance from several previous owners. "We know it is at least 320 years old. It is in truly excellent condition for its age. It shows hardly any wear."
Mannie examines it psionically. It was at one point owned by someone of tremendous power and great religious import. There is another impression behind that, but he cannot bring it forward. The price would be thirty-five gold serpents, which seems a lot for a souvenir. Teller asks to look at its documents. Eric does the actual examination of the papers. Most of the papers are genuine, although there is one forgery right in the middle (two hundred years old). But the rest show a plausible continuity.
The merchant presses us. "What say you?" Mannie announces that he will have to check our available funds first. Teller asks, "Would you like pearls?" He shows one. "Oh, yes. Four or five of that size and quality. Maybe fewer if they were well matched."
We murmur among ourselves. "Shall I set it aside for you?"
"Yes, please," decides the First Engineer. "Do you have a card?" The merchant hands him a small roll of paper. Once outside, Tala-a'zahd explains that it is an address scroll.
The lieutenant steps out of the teashop, adjusts her scarf, and is joined by her waiting crew members. She then sidles over to Finwë, smiles tenderly upon him, and asks, "Do you know who the men on the roofs are, who are watching you?" He gives a strained smile; we've seen them but we don't know who they are.
He turns for the Tindomë, to wait for the rest of us to return from the City.
Updated: Jul 11, 2008
©2002, 2008 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.