The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 32: The Audience
Mandorak Kragenhilt ("Mannie") has just collapsed in the inner citadel of the Serpent Prince, while probing around psychically. Bey and Aldamir help him get up and, taking an elbow each, help him along. We make our way to the palace gates, where the Captain calls a halt and inquires, over the telepathy net, about Mannie's state. We describe how he tried clairvoyance on one of the buildings in here and got drained or something for his trouble. There seems to be nothing to do but press onward.
There are more guards at the gates but, after due process, we are admitted. Now, with even more guards, we pass under the murder holes to the next gate and the next set of guards.
Once inside the inner inner citadel, we finally see the palace. It's ziggurat-shaped and positioned to line up neatly with the volcano that looms in the distance—well, in the back yard, really. There are ponds and fountains and formal gardens along the walk up to the palace. Flanking it are more buildings, some like ziggurats, some like towers. Snakes are a popular motif in the décor, as are scales. (These are not popular with Eir, who maintains a paranoid state of hyper-vigilance.) We distinguish three populations here, by dress: those in dark, richly colored robes, those in light, brightly colored robes, and those in not much besides a lot of jewelry, whom we take to be servants.
Having learned nothing from Mannie's experiences, Eric dowses for Samantha's sister, gets a very loud NOTHING AT ALL, and promptly falls off the net. Unlike Mannie, he doesn't actually fall down. Eir notices the telepathic absence, though, and sidles up to him, asking quietly if he's all right. Yeah, just a little … tired. The Captain offers to put Eric back on the net, but Eir urges him not to, as his condition might be contagious. So he does without.
A haughty-looking young fellow in rich green robes, with a serpent-carved staff, leads us into the palace proper (along with our current collection of guards). We go up a flight of stairs into the main body of the ziggurat. Dark. Stone. The dwarves begin to perk up. We are taken to a waiting room, with carvings and cushions and bowls for fruit juice, etc. The fellow in green goes away, leaving us still heavily guarded.
A fellow in blue, otherwise much the same, shows up, looks us over, yawns, and generally registers "unimpressed." He says something and Khazhad, our interpreter, says, "He asks what your business is, here in the palace."
The Captain registers "mildly disturbed," then tells Khazhad, "Tell this person—" "The adjutant vizier." "—the adjutant vizier that our purpose has not changed since the time we sought audience with His Excellency, the Serpent Prince. We with to offer him greetings from our young land of Lanthil, of the fay lands, and make him a gift." He'll have us announced.
More time passes. Mannie uses it to sleep. Eventually, the adjutant vizier comes back with yet more guards of different calibers, and leads us on into the palace.
We pass through a huge, multi-story-high room of gold and white, but this is only the antechamber. We are led up a flight of stairs into a smaller, less brilliantly lit, but richer room, all gold and purple. In the middle, flanked by courtiers, is a middle-aged man on a throne, dressed all in silk. Clearly the Prince. We are presented, we presume.
We all bow, Bey and Aldamir hand-operating Mannie, who is still pretty out of it.
HRH bids us welcome and has us step forward to present our credentials. The Captain obeys, and is instantly hovered over by a guard and a sage-or-something in black silk, who check him over for magic and assassinational intent. The Prince waves the the document over to the sage in black, who looks it over. We hope he doesn't realize, or doesn't care, that we wrote it ourselves yesterday. But we feel sure we're being true to the spirit of our mission. This is apparently sufficient.
HRH, after glancing at the unintelligible Tengwar script, asks us "to convey whatever message it is this "Dai-When" of Lanthil has asked you to convey."
The Captain replies, "The Lady Daewen has charged myself and my crew to go out and explore beyond Lanthil with the hopes of establishing diplomatic relations that will increase the trade that has already started to reach our shores."
HRH wants to know if this means we are not official ambassadors.
"That is correct. We are merely a contact party. Also, we bring a gift." Eric, on cue, rummages in his pack for the gift and finds the magical origami wrapping has come all undone, presumably as a result of the palace's magical protection system. Oh, well. "This," says the Captain, taking it from him, "is a vial of the essence of our land. This is water of the Light Fall, which falls on our land and gives us light." Someone gasps, but it isn't the Prince.
The Sage in Black accepts it and gives it the once-over before passing it to the Prince, who put on a monocle and inspects it, then gives it to a servant who puts it in a box.
HRH: "It is a distinctive and unusual gift you have brought from your lady, and we receive it with pleasure, and with some hope to the future. Was there more you wished to convey?"
Captain: "No, the greeting was all. We would be honored to carry your greeting back to our lady of Lanthil, and we would be honored if you could tell us at this point if a formal ambassador would be received."
HRH confers with someone in green, mayhap the senior vizier. "If you return two days hence, we will have some form of reply to convey to your lady."
We're shown out.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.