Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
Part 7, Enter Morniesul
When he rises from his bow, Tom is surprised to find that he recognizes the messenger. It's the young man he met in garage back on Helene.
"Good day, Morniesul, and welcome. As ever, you are welcome both for yourself and for Lord Alvirin's sake. Won't you come in and take some refreshment?"
"Thank you, M'lady..."
"Surely you can call me grandmother."
"Yes, M'lady. Grandmother. It is a gracious offer, but I must return to Lord Alvirin quickly. I cannot tarry long."
"Well then, come to the conservatory. It's where I accept all my visitors. Share an orange and something to drink." She turns and leads the way back.
Morniesul hesitates a moment, then hands his reins to one of the many elves that are in the area, one who seems to be bustling a bit less than the others. He follows Daewen, moving as stiffly and formally as he had spoken to her. Tom and Chris join them and the four begin to make their way back to the conservatory in an awkward silence.
Tom seethes to himself for a little, very quietly, then indulges in some highly modified rejoicing that he didn't have any very extended acquaintance with Morniesul back on Helene.
Long ago, Tom designed a coat of arms for the pantope crew, suitable for passing on to the people of Vinyagarond, and even unto Lanthil, perhaps. (I don't know if it ever got used, but he designed it.) To wit: argent, a clock face of thirteen hours, sable and argent, pierced by a sword, sable and argent.
Tom now decides that his own personal symbol should be a pocket watch hanging from a hideously tangled string...
While they walk, he quietly edits his memory so that all he recalls, here and now, is that he met Morniesul at the other end of a twist. This means he is momentarily a bit vague on recent events on Helene. If he thinks about that vagueness too much, the amnesia will come undone.
He notices the extreme formality and conjectures about it. Being a bright lad, he recalls his own internal queries about Daewen's original relationship with Worldbenders, considering she was originally (as far as he is concerned) a customer of theirs. Maybe that bothers Morniesul, too. Or maybe it's something else. Or just natural reticence.
When they arrive at the conservatory, Daewen pauses,
"Morniesul, I'm sure you remember Chris. He and his son Nick were among the folk who rescued you from the false Ennorath."
Morniesul strains with a smile. Sincere gratitude manages to show through the tight-lipped formality that has been his since he arrived.
"I don't think, though, that you know Tom Noon. He and Chris and I go way back, they rescued me, more or less, from the same place at another time."
Morniesul nods a soldierly greeting to Tom.
"And this is Jeffé. Tom was one of the rescuers of his people, from the clutches of ..." she pauses a moment eyeing Braeta, " ... She Who Was Once a Dragon. Jeffé will represent his people in the Council."
Morniesul looks down at the small leader. His eyes open just a bit as if he really sees Jeffy for the first time.
"And finally, this is Braeta. She has come seeking our help. It would seem that her people, too, are under grave threat, perhaps even from the same ones who threatened Jeffé's folk. This is my grandson Morniesul."
"A pleasure to meet you, Morniesul," says Braeta and she offers him her hand.
Morniesul takes it awkwardly and bows slightly over it before letting it go. "My pleasure," he manages to say, "I hope you will forgive me for not enjoying it more, but I am here on the business of Lord Alvirin, and he charged me with some haste."
Braeta nods in return.
"Come, sit with us and tell us what it is, m'dear." says Daewen as she gestures sweepingly to the large well cushioned wicker furniture around them.
Morniesul comes to a slightly more relaxed position, though still standing, as Daewen and the others regain their seats.
"My Lord Alvirin, sends me to say that he will be here three days before the Council if it does not greatly inconvenience you, and he asks how many of his people you will be able to house, and how many he should bring tents for."
Daewen frowns a bit at Morniesul's failure to sit, but listens quietly.
"Aelvynstar, my husband, expects he will have tree housing for about three dozen by then. Beyond that, we expect room for as many more to be available in the cottages of those already gone to Lanthil. Lord Alvirin and two or three of his aides may stay with us here in the main house. He is, of course, welcome to bring more, but they will need tents or some other portable housing.
"You should, perhaps, speak directly with Aelvynstar with regard to the tree houses and their readiness three days before the Council. Also, we expect Nightingale and Silverhand. They say they will bring a half dozen or less with them. I will put the two of them up in the main house, as well. Jeffé and his folk are staying in the woods here and I expect that some of the Silver Council members will bring companions."
Morniesul nods again.
"Has Lord Alvirin any special requirements for himself or his party."
"He said, Lady, that his only requirement was that you do nothing more special for him than the others who gather, nor greatly strain either your resources or those of the Wood."
"Of course. Then perhaps you should ask him not to bring more than twice as many as we can house unless he wants to undertake special measures. There are already a very great number of people here, what with the Council and all the refugees."
Morniesul looks displeased at the notion of anyone directing the King of the Summerlands, and even more so at the word 'refugees'.
"Is that all, then, M'dear?"
"It is, Lady, grandmother. If I may, I shall go consult with your husband. I believe I saw where they are building in the trees."
"Are you sure you won't stay a few moments? Have an orange or a date."
"Thank you, no. I must return to him as soon as possible." His voice shows no regret at this. "If I may, then, Ma'am?" He bows to Daewen.
She sighs and waves him a dismissal, "Go then, if you must, but Do come back to us for a visit soon."
Morniesul nods a half-bow and turns to stride from the conservatory.
When he has gone, Daewen turns to the others and says, "I'm sorry. He lost a lot in his last battle on Ennorath, and even more to the discovery of the World Benders and the nature of his world." She speaks directly to Braeta for a moment, " -- It was a construct, based on some books, and created largely as an amusement. People struggled and died there, but always manipulated to follow the history of the books. --" and then continues to all, "and he still holds those of us who knew, or who had dealings with the World Benders responsible. Things have not been right between us since he was rescued."
She pauses for a while in thought, then plucking another orange continues. "As you can see, things are getting rather hectic here. It would be good to know more about the various dragon folk and what sort of threat they present. If you can find out before a fortnight passes here, I'd be grateful. If there's anything you need, please ask."
She stops a moment and looks at Chris. "I very much want to have you at the Council meeting, and as soon as Lord Alvirin arrives, in fact. I'm torn between thinking it would be good for you to accompany Tom, and worrying that you won't be back in time."
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.