The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 41: The Guardian of the Palace
Sam tries to describe Sam. "She looks almost entirely different from me.
She's blonde, shorter, rounder of face, and… less mature in shape."
Eric performs some papermancy, then hands Sam a piece of paper. "Does she look like this?"
The captain taps into his telepathic skills. "Just think about her," he advises Sam. She does, and Finwë view what she sees. He then places this image in Eric's mind. Eric modifies his 'sketch' to match. He shows it to Sam again. "Is this better?"
"Oh, yes. I'm sorry I couldn't say what was wrong with the other one, but…"
Now we have a picture that Khazad can show in the palace.
Eïr remains behind to take care of her patient, parrot, pirate, and passengers. The rest of the crew heads back to Mom's for dinner and bed.
In the morning but after breakfast, we troop back to the ship, and pick up our little healer. Finwë truns on the telepathy net, and we stroll down into the Inner City. We look around at the temples, the grass, the fountains… Eïr momentarily thinks there's a serpent in the water. She walks up to edge of the fountain, and realizes that, with all the carvings of snakes on the edge, and into the water, and the three that make up the central plinth of the obelisk, it would be easy to see snakes. Bavör lingers behind the others to watch her, in case she does something unusual. She looks around, but sees only the usual sort of men with staffs watching us.
She rejoins the crew. Soon, they are at the block before the palace. For the first time, Eïr notices how realistic is the carving of a snake that surmounts the entire wall around the palace. Its head rests on its tail, and is colorfully enameled, and glints as if inlaid with precious stones. She points it out to the others. "Not bad for human work," admits Mandorak. He and Bay walk the last blocks up to the wall.
"Can you sense anything behind this wall? I can't," frets Eïr. Mannie refuses; he remembers what happened to him when he tried remote viewing. Eric tries his vibes against the area beyond the wall. He learns that therein is a rich and powerful psionic or magic activity.
Bay looks at their Sarah compass. It points down to the left, as it had the previous day. The group turns off to the left. We compare other carvings (unfavorably) with the wall-serpent. Eïr stays close to the wall, but the others walk on the far side of the street, so they can see over the wall. Telepathically, they explain why they would like her to rejoin them. Eventually she works her way back to them. Eric slips a paper tag on her. She spots it, but accepts that he just wants to keep track of her. Once they've gone at least three blocks from the central boulevard, Bay sights again on their compass. Again, it points to that same tower.
Mission accomplished. We look around us more casually. We turn back to the main road, and admire stonework as we saunter along. There are guards on the wall, being admirably watchful. We amble back towards Mom's. On the way, we decide to look for a tailor shop.
Only when we've turned onto "our" street, do we spot anything that might be a sewing-oriented establishment. There are manikins inside, and bolts of cloth strewn around. However, we don't have Khazad with us, we decide to hustle the captain away from there, and back to Mom's for lunch. We freshen up, and await Khazad. He arrives in time for pre-prandial prayers, and joins us for lunch.
Mandorak mentions our morning activities. He remarks that we were watched. Khazad finds that only to be expected. He explains that again, we located Sarah as being in the second tower from the left, again. Khazad is disturbed. We show him the picture Eric made of Sarah. He is impressed with the scribe's skills.
Mannie makes admiring sounds about the serpent around the wall. "Ah. You mean the Guardian of the Palace."
"Yes. It is very fine. Does it ever move?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"You said it was the guardian. How can it guard if it doesn't move?"
"Oh. I hadn't realized that all your languages were so literal."
"I am a dwarf."
Eïr joins in. "Is it magical?"
"It is in the configuration of protection."
We remember the ring we found, with a snake eating its tail. Eric asks, "What is the difference between a snake meeting its tail, and one eating its tail?"
"The former means Protection, and the latter means Eternity," explains Khazad.
Eïr asks how snakes came to be their central theme, and why they have a Serpent Prince. He explains that that they appear in legend around the time of the Nine Kings and Nine Queens. He admits that the Serpent Prince is rumored to be descended from the Nine Kings and Nine Queens. He makes a mention of the mortal lands.
We ask him what he knows of the mortal lands and how to get to them. "They can be reached in many places from the Open Sea. I think that that's why the Open Sea has that name – because you can reach many different lands from it. Some of them are much "flatter" than here.
Eric remembers that the Nine Kings and Nine Queens are mentioned in The Races of Earth, but he says nothing about this.
The little healer asks if the Serpent Prince can call on the Nine Kings and Nine Queens for assistance. Khazad assures her that he cannot; they are in different realms. Nor is the Prince a religious leader for his people; that is the High Priest.
We change into our best robes, and prepare to head back to the palace with Khazad. We show him our compass. "Ah! We have these."
"Well, this points at Sarah."
"Oh. This is not the same thing then."
"It's a bound dowse," Mannie explains. This does not really explain anything to the translator. "Should we bring it with us?"
Khazad is uneasy about us asking his advice. Mannie protests. "Yesterday, you warned us that she might be in a dangerous location, or an awkward one. So we have a physical pointer."
"Oh. Yesterday, when you told me that you could sense her, I thought only that you could detect personally that she had been nearby. I did not know you had a device."
Bay piped up, "Yesterday, we didn't. We made it to locate her more exactly."
Khazad is bothered. No one is supposed to use magic in the palace, or even in the Inner City. He should have expected the Fay to manage to circumvent these prohibitions. He asks if we know about the barriers against magic. Oh yes, Mannie knows them quite well. Bavör takes the compass back to their room and leaves it.
We ask about the civility of showing around the picture, since the Faithful cannot make graven images. We soon dive into the problem of how we can look for Sarah without being able to show a picture of her. Khazad soon reveals himself incapable of imaging anything even close to the situation we find ourselves in, and is completely helpless. He suggests that we consult one of the High Scholars, who specialize in unusual matters. (That's us!)
We discuss how to proceed. We decide to conclude our formal business with the Serpent Prince, then bring up the problem of Sarah with him. We will appeal to him as a father, and ask his advice.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.