The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 95: Captains Consult
The second party returns to the Tindomë, very excited about the silver torc. "It would be a wonderful gift for the Lady," says Teller, "but it's very expensive." Mandorak describes it to Finwë, stressing its workmanship, and admitting that it is only 320 (or so) years old.
It would cost us several pearls. Finwë raises an eyebrow; he knows that pearls are highly valued here. "I suspect that, given its design, it would not be suitable for Daëwen."
Mannie sighs. "It was the finest piece in the shop. All right. We'll go back and tell the jeweler that we won't be—"
"Ah. We had a meeting with a young woman who was at the Fifth Temple when we were there, negotiating for my daughter's return. She warned us to leave Darkholme immediately. It is no longer safe for us here; the political situation has changed."
We argue about leaving immediately, a process called "fleeing" in anticipation of flying cannonballs, or staying and behaving "guardedly." Bavör is firm. "We have to stay. There are elves depending on us." This point is starting to have its effect, when an interruption occurs.
"Ahoy, the ship!" Teller darts to the landward side of the ship. "Hello, sir. What can I do for you?" It is Captain Alastarn and four crewmembers from the Eagle. The crewmen stay on the dock and carefully watch all around.
The captains meet. "A pleasure to have you on board the Tindomë," says Finwë.
"I have been talking to my lieutenant, Mara. She informs me that may be reason for some concern."
"Oh, yes. We were just discussing it. 'Concern' is a good term. Until we have cannonballs fired upon us, 'fleeing' would be the wrong term. We have decided to voluntarily withdraw from the City, and stay here for the remainder of our stay."
Captain Alastarn is pleased that we can attest to the history of our informant, since his Mara could not. He points out that we do not have a mast, so we would not be able to make the observations that his crewmen have made from their crow's nest. He explains that one of his crew had noticed that our approach to our vessel could be predicted by the disturbances among the rooftop watchers in the dock area. "It suggests to me that you are the most significant of the people being watched."
The sound of a passing cannonball whistles in the Captain's ear of the imagination. Bay toys with the notion of having cannon of our own, but the difficulties of even trying to obtain them here are more than daunting.
Mandorak drags Captain Alastarn off for a proper tour of our ship. He mentions that the people of Darkholme are unaware that our ship can fly, and we hope that that will remain true. The Eagle's captain nods, and assures the dwarf that his people have been discreet, although he admits that his suspicion is that the Darkholmers know that his people's ships can fly.
Back with the Captain, Teller is assuring Eïr that he could disappear any cannonballs that flew at us. Eïr responds by suggesting that the Marginalus should simply return the cannonballs to their sources. The Captain notices that the dwarves and our guest have disappeared. He pings Mannie on the telepathy net, and learns that we have been discussing the relative virtues of our blue water and their sharp water, in the Engine Room.
The group returns, and the two captains discuss the local politics. They puzzle over the terminology of "the Serpent Prince." Both of our cultures are used to the idea that a prince is merely the heir-in-waiting for a monarchy, not the ruler – and certainly not for a major area. Here, however, there is the Volcano King, and there are mentions of a Serpent King. The vizier, however, is proclaimed as the servant of the Serpent King, and not as the servant of this Serpent Prince. We contemplate this murky situation. Mannie uneasily mentions the serpent-based adversaries that our people have been struggling against.
We realize that we have to remain longer. We are awaiting our scholars, as we explain. We also mention the problem of the elves. Captain Alastarn offers the information gathered by his crow's nest, and we accept his offer gratefully. He goes off to signal for the appropriate crewmember to join us.
"Ahoy, the ship!"
"Ah, that would be my lookout, Nerren," says Alastarn. Mannie goes and fetches him: a barefoot able-bodied seaman. Captain Alastarn addresses his man. "Captain Finwë was just mentioning that there were some elves in this city."
"Come to think… aye. I have seen a number of, of tall and, and lanky fellers – like yourself, but not so fine – more poorly dressed – they seem to be servants or even slaves."
"Where have you seen them?"
"There is a large building – a full block, sir – with a watchtower on the top. I've seen them there. Their rooftop watchers are particular interested in you, and that drew my attention, as it were."
We nod. We know that building.
"I had not thought they were your folk, sir," says Nerren apologetically. "But now that I can see that the, er, attentions paid to you may be related to these poor wretches. They may be your elf kin."
We explain that our land was founded, in part, by elves freed by our Lady Daëwen. This, then, is part of our tradition. Nerren admits that he has not seen any of the lanky fellows for a day and a half. He last saw them going into that big building. He will be watching more carefully from now on. Captain Alastarn dismisses him. "That will be all, Nerren."
He continues. "I am still unloading and loading cargo, but I will be keeping an eye out. I'm also keeping my crew on board as much as possible." We thank him, and he also returns to the Eagle.
We decide that we must now act on our idea to leave Madame Fishilashi's, not only for her sake, but for ours. We resign ourselves to the loss of her cooking. With a silent sigh, Mandorak disappears into the galley, and re-emerges with a tasty meal for us all.
Updated: Aug 3, 2008
©2002, 2008 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.