The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 25: Paper Work
The Tindomë comes to a full halt. "Thank you, Mr. Forothon," says the captain. Eïr and Eric are by his side.
The non-crew man has a conical hat, with fabric wrapped around its base, and a sash at his waist, with a sabre. He calls out something like "Ahoy!" in a sibilant tongue, but Finwë doesn't recognize the language. Teller does, and he flees to his bunk. After a pause, there is a different "Ahoy"-like word, followed by a short interrogative sentence. This is in a more gutteral language.
Teller mind-speaks to the catain, and warns him that this is not a good language.
Finwë raises his arm, and says "Hello there!" in Lanthil patois. The man in the robes (the captain?) whispers in the ear of the man who has been hailing us. On the third try, he shouts "Hoo goze dhair da boot."
"The Tindomë out of Lanthil. I am Finwë Cereandil," replies our captain. The others put their heads together and discuss briefly.
The man in the interesting hat speaks again. "To be remaning dhair dha boot." Their boat returns to the dock, and many people head for them.
The captain calls the engine room. "How quickly can we leave here in an emergency?" In a brief exchange, we decide that submerging will work.
There seems to be a change of personnel on the boat, which heads back out towards us. There is now a tall man dressed almost entirely in black, with metallic bits and a breastplate standing at the prow. He calls out "Hail dhe ship hoo goes dhere."
Ahoy the shoip who goes there
"This is the Tindomë out of Lanthil. I am Finwë Cereandil," repeats our captain.
"Wohat iz yoor bizness here?"
"We are exploring and seeking new lands, and opportunities for trade."
"Darkholme iz verry auld land."
"Ah. It is not one I am familiar with. Lanthil is a very new land."
"Dare are many like dhat," he says. They pull up to our ship. "Und if yoo found nieuw lands, wohat would yoo do witt dhem?
"We would seek to establish an embassy and trade with them."
"Do yoo have papiers end yidentifyeng dockumends?"
"We are here on the authority of her ladyship. We can draw up papers of friendship, at least."
The boat pulls snappily alongside. Two small, lanteen-rigged boats pull out and flank us. Finwë informs Mandorak that we will not be diving immediately; we will be docking. A man on the dock signals us into a particular berth with the use of a white flag. (Jacko observes Teller crawl under his bed.) Mandorak maneuvers us into our berth, and tosses up our belaying lines. A bunch of men in navy blue await us. A dark-skinned pre-teen in navy descends to our level, holding out a packet of papers. Mannie takes the sealed packet, and gives a coin to the boy. He grins, nods, and retreats. Eric Wright examines the papers. They are grey and folded. One side has a winged serpent printed on it, and the other side is sealed with a Worm Ouroboros around another winged serpent. He breaks the seal. He does not even recognize the writing.
Perhaps one of our passengers knows something more about this. Jacko doesn' t recognize the writing, but he knows we shouldn't have broken the seal on our permit. Oops. Eric takes the pieces down to Engineering, and sets about re-sealing the packet. The paper is trivial. It takes the combined efforts of Eric, Bavör, Mannie, and Teller to restore the seal to its original appearance. It still doesn't look right. Teller feels deeply into the packet, and decides to hide under a nearby piece of equipment. Mandorak feels a slight sense of danger from the paper itself.
He informs the captain of our faux-pas, and the re-sealing. The captain thinks, and decides that we will just go about our business. Mannie warns him that Teller is unhappy, that he himself feels danger from the paper – and that the re-sealed version doesn't look right. He hands it over to the captain. The captain hears a timid little voice in his head, advising him to drop the packet in the water, then hand it back with an apology.
The captain, upon learning that Eric opened the packet, directs him to join the captain on the dock, trip, and crease the packet. Eric understands. Therefore, we put down our gangplank, and Finwë, Eric, Ëir, and Sam head down the gangplank. Eric falls (or was pushed by Ëir, who is distracted) with the paper underneath him, and breaks the seal. The guardsmen in navy blue stare down at them. The captain and the papermancer climb up the ladder to the dock.
We are greeted by the man who spoke comprehensibly to us before. He explains that our permit is only good for the harbor area, and that we'd need another one for the main city. Eric hands it over, and explains that he tripped. The man signals a scribe, who writes up a note. Our helpful friend explains that this will get us a new permit. "Yoo must to dhe hahrbor master go. Dhe bilting it zs with too black tooers." Finwë identifies the building. The fellow explains, "It iz my jobe for see over dhese tings." He goes on to explain that, if we split up, each of us will need a packet.
Our people head for the harbormaster's office. We soon see that we are followed by a boy in navy – our messenger from earlier. The office is guarded by two large, fierce men. Eric shows them our papers, explains why we're there. We are gestured in. There is an older gentleman sitting at a table. Eric hands him the two papers. He examines them closely. He frowns, snaps his fingers, and two men in white, embroidered robes come up. He hands off the papers to the two, and directs us to follow them. Off we go to another official. He examines the paper closely, then says, "Yesss."
He seems to want an introduction. "I am Captain Finwë Cereandil."
"From far avay you ere. Vy do you come so far?" asks the official.
"We've come to trade and visit and shop."
"You are carefree – careless," he observes.
"An accident. We will take better care of them in the future," the captain promises.
"Vere ere you from?"
"Lanthil," Finwë articulates the name firmly.
"Lanthil. Ah. You are fay?"
"Many of us are, but not all of us. 'Lanthil' means the Light Fall. It is the significant feature of our land."
The official smiles, and changes the subject. "Where is the original?"
"This is the original." Finwë telepathically consults Eric, and Ëir. He then explains they broke it inadvertently, and tried to put it back together. He assures the official that there was no misfeasance intended. He then explains that the guards back at our ship had told us that we needed separate permits for separate groups. There's a lengthy discussion of our group, the women in our group, and the appropriate clothing for them. (They should have a male escort.) We get two permits for the harbor town, but none for the city proper.
We head back to the main desk, where we pick up our ship's packet of papers.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.