Chapter 12: Gift Economy
It's the day after our impromptu funeral for the unknown trader. Markel is still healing in the autodoc, no longer in mortal danger, and the rest of us pick out errands to run. Daphne and Daewen go work on the air-boat. Dafnord goes to retrieve the trader's boat. Gannar goes to work on one of our items of payment for Mr. Kaya -- a clock that tells day and hour, for use by the local Moslem community.
There is, as it happens, a time-signal being broadcast through Lanthil. But it was arranged by Tom for Lanthil use only (temporal navigation, in fact), and just gives the number of seconds since settlement started. There's no way to get day of the week from it -- unless Gannar can figure out what day of the week everyone packed up and left Vinyagarond, in Faerie.
He goes to see Tethycles, down at the docks, and asks if Faerie reckons days of the week. He knows they don't reckon dates, but this might be different. Alas, no, it isn't.
He then drops in on Mr. Kaya, at his spice shop, and confirms that Mr. Kaya thinks today is Thursday. Some other Moslems in Lanthil agree with him, but not all. This will require more research.
Daphne, meanwhile, has reached lunch break. Her part of the gift to Mr. Kaya was to grow the wood for the new mosque -- olive wood. This means getting some olive pits. She asks around and is directed to an oil merchant on the docks, one Kalikanzeros.
Mr. Kalikanzeros is a large, genial, Mediterranean-looking man (at least, he looks like a man), and is happy to let her rummage through the squeezings from his olive press for uncracked pits. (She learns other petty-fays come here for the squeezings, too. For plant fertilizer? Who knows?) The compost heap is certainly an unappealing sight, but Daphne has no objection to compost in the normal way. Still, she's happy enough to let Kalikanzeros "scare up a boy" to help her. He returns with a street urchin named Timothy, whom Daphne pays to help her with a promise of baklavah at Mr. Kaya's. Timothy has no problems with greasy mulch and soon has helped Daphne round up a couple of dozen sound olive pits.
Getting him to wash, afterwards, in the sea, is the hard part.
Kate, with nothing much to do today, goes down to the docks and watches the Golden Eagle set sail. This is an Arabian-Nights-style ship crewed by unfriendly types. It has vast sails that project on either side, like unto wings, leaving one to wonder if it always sails on water. Several other people, including Daphne and Timothy with their baklavah, watch the departure. It's a very pretty ship, and several people remark how nice it is to see it leave, if you follow us.
Once finished with the baklavah, Daphne takes her plate and Timothy's, improves the finish on them (they started as cheap wooden throw-away affairs), and takes them home to carve up. Perhaps they'll make another nice gift for Kaya. You can't be too careful of your baklavah supplier.
Gannar, meantime, has gone up to the castle and sought out Caddar the Builder, the dwarf who donated an iron boss to the burial yesterday, and who has a cousin who might be persuaded to make a clock. Gannar learns that the cousin in called Namburang and works in the dwarven quarter of Castleton.
A search for the dwarven quarter leads him to very much the place he was yesterday -- the boggart quarter. Looking around at the Cotswold-and-brushheap architecture, he spots some pairs of beady eyes watching him from behind a hedge. He asks for the dwarven quarter and gets giggles. "Is it near?"
"Good it's not a bear!" is the squeaky joke. Gannar doesn't understand that this means "yes," but patiently (not knowing how to be impatient) asks, "Please show me the way."
Zip! A boggart scurries off into the bracken at the foot of a cliff nearby. Deciding this might be compliance, Gannar follows it and finds a semi-concealed entry with a very low gate across it. He is considering stepping over the gate when he spots the dwarf guard, even more concealed, standing nearby. He explains his business, gets directions, and goes in.
After getting lost only once, he finds his way to Namburang's workshop. Namburang is in, but he isn't very impressed by Gannar's offer -- spring-steel stays, filched from Ashleigh's corsets, as both components for and payment for the clock.
Gannar considers what else he might offer, and recalls that Daphne is in the habit of using her friends' luggage and pockets to store anything bright, shiny, or interesting that she wants to keep. So, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, what has he got in his pockets?
He turns out to have several shards of high-quality emerald -- undoubtedly shrapnel off the deck of the Emerald Metaphor -- and a blob of once-molten metal that was probably blasted off an airlock, space fighter, or some other piece of hi-tech equipment in one of the many explosions that occurred on the pantope.
He offers these to Namburang. The emerald interests him only mildly -- dwarves can get lots of gems, easily -- but the metal is curious. He doesn't recognize it by sight, feel, or resonnance (when he raps it). He takes it and puts it in a kiln. He and Gannar wait.
Gannar's clock increments. (As remarked, Gannar doesn't do impatience.)
Namburang takes out the metal, which is very little altered. He grunts and drops it in an iron pot, to cool. "That'll do." Good. Gannar says he will come for the clock when he returns from his upcoming expedition. Maybe, by then, he'll know what day of the week it is...
Dafnord, recall, had set out to retrieve the dead trader's boat. He enlists the aid of an elf, Angarond of the Silver Service. Hauling the little craft up onto the road, they ask the assembled onlookers who could fix it. They are offered three different names, including Tethycles, who's busy. They pick Nandomel, an elf who makes fishing boats.
Dafnord then recruits some loot-bearers from the crowd, getting more urchins, including the busy Timothy.
Nandomel is a soft-spoken fellow with the makings of a Holmesian reasoner. He points out that the ship is de-masted, which is usually weather damage, which also usually includes damage to the hull, but that is fine. So the mast appears to have been removed on purpose. Something appears to have been wrapped around the top of the mast -- a cable, thin but very strong, and so either metal or fay. So the ship was caught with a cable and its mast chopped off to prevent escape, it seems.
He discusses the details of the repair, making further inferences. We'll give him the trade goods aboard the ship to pay for the job -- bolts of cloth, some amphorae, and some boxes.
One box, made of something like leather origami, contains some nice knives. Nandomel takes one of them, and some silk rope. The ship also had some metal pots, which Dafnord might want to keep, to make his own payments to Tethycles.
This brings the conversation around to ship supplies. Wasn't Markel going after pans and such when he was attacked by that wolf? Dafnord makes telepathic contact with Markel (after first contacting Kate and having her tell the autodoc to wake Markel) and ask him about pots. Yes, Markel was going for pots and knives when he was attacked. He had a letter of introduction to some shopkeeper, which we'll fish out of his stripped-off clothes. We then allow him to go back to sleep.
Dafnord then brings the sealed amphorae to Mr. Kaya for assessment. One contains perfumed oil, very nice. Another contains spicy sesame oil, which Kaya declines. Dafnord also offers Kaya a knife with a curved blade. He accepts, noting that it's one that should be used only by the Faithful. Kaya is doing very well from his unpleasant job as amature undertaker yesterday. On the other side of the ledger, Dafnord has him give the urchins mugs of cocoa and the promise of more baklavah tomorrow.
Dafnord has the kids port the spicy oil, some silk, and the remaining leather box (bigger and heavier than the box of knives) up to the castle, which incidentally gets them a free ride on the ascending cataract boats.
He offers the spicy oil to Cook, in return for all her good offices lately, and she thinks she can probably use some and trade some down in the town. He then looks up Caddar the Builder and discusses having the dwarves build the mosque when the time comes.
At dinner that night, we regail Daewen with our doings. Daphne wants to know where to get pots to grow young olive trees in. Daewen suggests Norbo the Potter, a halfling down in the lower town. Daphne anticipates paying him in cheese and cider.
When Daewen hears about the urchins, she remarks that the Lost Boys seldom come to the castle or mingle with town folk. "Lost Boys"? Yes, no one knows where they come from... (Daphne now recalls Timothy was shy of her at first, saying he was once tricked by one of her sort. Did he get lost by being pixie-led? Or is he just recalling Tinkerbell?) Speaking of mysterious people, Daewen also remarks that Kalikanzeros is an interesting chap -- no one seems to know what he is.
On these disquieting revelations, we conclude our dinner.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.