Chapter 11: The Trader's Funeral
We left our heroes back at the castle, with a dead body on their hands
-- that of a trader killed by one of the grey-clad ninja-like foes that
the rest of the family are battling over the water. What to do next? A
funeral is the obvious step. How do we do that?
Gannar suggests Fr. Padraig as the obvious authority on funeral rites. Gannar has never met Fr. Paddy, but he's heard of him, and thought he was still in Lanthil. But Daewen tells us she doesn't think he ever arrived. Last she knew, he was still off in the Marches, on a mission -- possibly as in "missionary."
We think the late trader came from over the Endless Sea, but it seems fruitless to go looking for his people to return the body. That sea's called "Endless" for a reason.
Daphne remarks that her favorite spice merchant -- the fellow whose shop she frequents for her habitual baklava break -- dresses the same way as the trader does. Did. She offers to go ask him about a proper funeral. "Good," says Dafnord. "That's solved." "I think that's premature," Gannar replies.
Dafnord puts the body in a quiet hall, where no one will encounter it and get upset. We turn over various possibilities in our minds -- Honor guard. Wake. Candles. Vultures. Robbie wonders aloud if the autodoc needs any supplies topped off. "No!" chorus the organics, squeamish for some reason. Gannar has no ideas; android funerals are summed up in the word "Dispose of properly."
It really is a conundrum. This whole country is only three years old, and most of the population is immortal. There just isn't much precedent for death here.
Meanwhile, Daphne and Daewen are working down at the docks. They get the ship's interior nearly done; it now only needs some finishing and then furnishing by the boggarts. Time for that baklava break. Daphne scoots off to Mr. Kaya's spice shop, further along the waterfront.
He's happy to see his regular customer (who pays very nicely in the way she makes his herb garden prosper). He is less happy when she describes her problem with a dead body dressed in the fashion of his country. Tut, tut. The poor fellow may well have been one of the "Faithful." Okay, but what do we do with the body?
Well, what have you done with it so far? Are the eyes still open? No. (This is good.) We've wrapped the body up. In a cloth. Made by magic. By a djinni or something (Robbie). Is that okay?
Mr. Kaya isn't sure. He reluctantly consents to advise us, closes up his shop, and follows Daphne up the hill to the castle.
And where is Mr. Kaya from? The Purple Desert, he tells us, where his people were led by a couple of angels. He arrives at the castle and meets the rest of us. He meets our "djinni" and Robbie explains himself. Mr. Kaya is surprised by the story (as is everyone), but also wonders that none of the djinn got around to converting Robbie to the Truth Faith. Perhaps not enough time...
We show him into the hall, where he is a little non-plussed by the plastic-wrap appearance of the ectoplasm Robbie used on the body. It needs a winding sheet -- a real one. We'll also need clean water (from the cataract would be good), perfumes, and oil or soap (so long as it didn't come from pork). Candles would be nice, and a man's comb or brush, preferably the fellow's own.
While Robbie vanishes the ectoplastic wrap, we telepathy to Salimar, who is down by the shore, examining the trader's ship for clues. She looks about and finds a bag of personal effects. These include a tube with writing on it. When Robbie images this for Mr. Kaya, he becomes certain that the late trader was one of the Faithful. Don't open the tube, he tells us; it contains holy scripture. Robbie flits off to collect the bag of effects.
Meanwhile, we wash the body, using the water, soap, and perfume. Actually, "we" boils down to Mr. Kaya and Dafnord, after he asks all the females to leave the room while the body is stripped, and then decides it might be better for the non-humans to go, too. He's surprised to learn that Gannar isn't human. (Markel would have been an interesting test case, but he's still laid up from his recent accident.)
Oh, and we should bury the fellow with a chunk of iron. About hand-sized would do. Dafnord seeks out one of the places in the castle where construction is going on, and there are therefore dwarves, therefore iron. He explains his need to the first dwarf he encounters -- one Caddar the Builder -- and is given a boss off Caddar's hauberk (unless it's a work smock; they use chain mail and heavy leather a lot). This chunk gets wound into the shroud. We will ignore the fact that it was probably supposed to keep djinn and fays away; tradition is tradition.
Robbie arrives with the personal effects, and the fellow's comb is used to dress his hair and beard. There's some coinage, too. What to do with it? Lanthil doesn't use coins. Traditionally, it should be given to the poor, since there is no family available, but Lanthil has no poor, either. (It has lots of people who live in the woods with hardly any possessions, but they certainly don't regard themselves as poor.)
After some discussion, Mr. Kaya agrees that it would be suitable and pious to use the money in the purse to fix the trader's boat, then sell the boat and use the money to start work on a masjid (mosque). There are a few of the Faithful in Lanthil, but they have no place to meet.
Now the body is all dressed up, but where should it go? We ask Suleamon, who tells us there is, in fact, a very small burial ground in one of the castle courtyards. We bury him there. Facing toward Mecca. Sort of. That is, facing toward the Land of the Purple Desert, as nearly as poor Mr. Kaya can reckon it, where they traditionally pray toward Mecca by facing toward the gateway whereby the angels led them into the land. So he's functionally facing Mecca.
Mr. Kaya says the prayers.
Daphne offers to grow cedar and olive trees for the future masjid, as a return gift to Mr. Kaya for all his help. We also have him to dinner (hold the pork and wine). Daphne and Daewen discuss where they'll grow the olive trees.
While they discuss the masjid and the awkward difficulties of being a Moslem in Lanthil, Gannar realizes that Mr. Kaya and his co-religionists could really use a clock, to tell them when to pray. Mr. Kaya confirms this and adds it would be nice to be sure of the day of the week, too, so as to know when Friday comes.
Accordingly, after dinner, Gannar looks up Caddar the Builder, the dwarf, and asks about getting such a clock made. Caddar has a cousin who's into that sort of thing. Of course, it's a bit of a disappointment that we won't allow clockwork figures on it.
"What do I call your cousin?" Gannar asks, aware that fays don't like being asked for real names. "Anything but late for dinner!" Caddar answers.
"Was that a joke?" Gannar asks politely, aware that he doesn't understand humor very well.
"Apparently not, though I did have hopes for it...."
Now, how to pay Caddar's cousin? Well, the clock will need a spring, and spring steel of any sort is hard to get in Lanthil, just now. If we could provide some for the clock, plus some left over, that would be good payment.
So where do we get spring steel? Gannar confers on the telepathy net, and Kate recommends he raid Ashleigh's wardrobe for the stays in her corsets. Done. An economy of gift and barter certainly makes for some interesting transactions.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.