The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 45: Discussion & Dessert
After we've finished the main course, Madame Fishilashi clears the table and fruits and sorbets are served. Once our hostess has departed, Mannie dives right back into the plot, "How do we proceed?"
Eïr asks, "Khazad, what we need is something to offer the temple that has the child. Right?"
Mannie mutters, "Either the temple or the vizier."
Khazad inclines his head and replies, "Yes. That would be correct."
Eïr thinks aloud, "I don't know what would be appropriate or equal value. Things that are magical are shunned. Are they allowed to the temples?"
Khazad looks surprised, "Shunned?"
"Magic is not done here, or is that a mistake of mine?"
"I suppose that depends on what you think of as magic."
Thinking back on what she's seen, Eïr replies, "Healing appears to be OK, but speaking mind to mind is magical, and your people don't seem to do that."
Mannie attempts to clarify, "Khazad, you've told us a number of times that the doing of magic is not allowed in the city."
Doctor Rhajnahah exchanges a couple of words with Khazad, and then replies, "Surely you've misunderstood. We have a long history of the study and use of what you call magic. It's woven into the fabric of our society. However, people like you are not allowed to use magic in the city."
Understanding dawns on Eïr. "Ah. So foreigners are not allowed. However, it's allowed to you."
"Yes, of course. We have many watchers, protectors, and the like."
Eïr continues, "I'm trying to figure this out because many of the things that we have are of a magical nature, and we're trying to figure out what to offer."
"Of course, what is common to you may be quite rare to us."
The party thinks about what they've seen in the city, and more importantly not seen. Mannie thinks about the clock near his favorite pastry shop back in Lanthil's harbor town. A group of humans paid one of the dwarven clans to build it so they could keep track of when they were supposed to pray. Sort of like Khazad described the bells that call the people to their temples. Aloud he suggests, "Perhaps a clock?" At the blank stares from our guests, he explains the dwarven built mechanism for measuring time. High Priest Doctor Rhajnahah is intrigued, but finally declares the clock much too mechanical. The ringing of the temple bells of Darkholme are regulated by this place's natural rhythms. The 'clock' would quickly get of synch.
Mannie persists with the idea that good, solid Dwarven craftsmanship always has value. "Maybe a Dwarven crafting? One chosen by the vizier with a reasonable limit on the size or time it would take to build?" Again, Doctor Rhajnahah rejects the idea as too imprecise, too unknown.
"What would the temple or vizier want? We don't know what Sarah's value would be to you, or what you would consider valuable in return."
With a sigh for the ignorance of foreigners, Doctor Rhajnahah tries to explain once again, "Thare are at least 3 values here." He ticks them off on his fingers:
Eïr repeats slowly, trying to connect this with our earlier discussion, "Because the person who is buying her would be paying not only with something of like value, but also a favor, possibly repaid at some time in the future."
Doctor Rhajnahah nods encouragingly. This foreigner has proven once again to be a good pupil. "It is said amongst our people that the value in the harbor town is not the value in the city. In the harbor town, merchants assume that each thing has a cost, a price. Values here are much richer, more complex."
Eïr warns, "Sarah come from a culture where women walk as free as men. Sarah may not make an easy pet."
With a grin, Doctor Rhajnahah replies, "That adds to the value, since she's exotic."
Eïr continues, "I suspect that she'd rather be dead than perform as a concubine."
Doctor Rhajnahah tries to explain with an analogy, "A people that you may know have an animal that they use for riding. Often the animal that is the most challenging to be broken is the most valued."
Eïr cautions, "Yes, but if it kills itself…"
Doctor Rhajnahah shrugs. "All is chance."
While Eïr and Doctor Rhajnahah have this exchange, Mannie states over the net, «What they're hinting at is that the vizier will want a favor from Daëwen.»
Finwë replies, «I would hate to stand in front of Daëwen and explain that I promised something on her behalf for a personal reason.»
Having finished her discussion with Doctor Rhajnahah, Eïr tartly interjects, «I would hate to stand in front of Daëwen and explain that you left a child in slavery as a concubine.»
Finwë glares at her in silence.
Still trying to come up with something common in Lanthil that he hadn't seen in Darkholme, Mannie asks Khajad about pets that the people of the city keep. Khajad lists cats, birds, lizards, snakes…
Khajad looks affronted, and coldly replies, "No!"
Slightly shocked at the response, Mannie asks "Khajad, Is this one of those 'silly foreigner' questions?"
"You could say that."
Eïr suggests, "If there's something we can teach one of the vizier's people, it would be a gift in kind. If there is a skill or a magical ability…"
Seizing on Eïr's suggestion, Mannie adds "What does the vizier's temple specialize in?"
High Priest Doctor Rhajnahah replies, "It specializes in knowledge. The vizier is the High Priest and advises the palace because of his great knowledge. His temple has one of the most extensive libraries in the City of 101 Temples."
Eïr suggests over the net, «How about taking a member of the church to Lanthil to learn and explore and then bring him back?»
Mannie expands on the idea, «How about access to the library in the castle?»
Eïr asks aloud, "Would it be something that the vizier would value to take a cleric back with us to Lanthil to study our land, our people and our libraries?"
Doctor Rhajnahah grins and strokes his beard. "That has some appeal. It is an uncertain thing again, but it strikes close to home."
Finwë nods, "I believe that that would be an interesting idea." And continues over the net «And I think it would be a much safer alternative to what I was considering which was another person to talk with Checkov.»
Mannie asks asks, "How would be go about extending this offer?"
Lieutenant Jhejhaleen, who's been quietly listening to this exchange, asks "I don't suppose that you would have any samples of the contents of your libraries?"
We look at each other, then all turn and look at Eric. He rifles through his pockets and pulls out a book which he passes down the table, to the Lieutenant. As it passes, Mannie recognizes it. "A Bible? A Christian Bible? How is that representative of Lanthil?"
Eric responds, "Father Paddy gave it to me when he found me in the mists."
Doctor Rhajnahah opens the Bible to a well worn page and looks at the incomprehensible march of squiggles. "I can see that this will require more than just the gift of a book, as few will be able to read it as it stands."
Eric rises "I can fix that…" He walks to the Doctor's place, and places his hand on the page the book is open to. The text visible around his hand seems to writhe, changing in some way.
Doctor Rhajnahah is visibly impressed. Then he looks more closely at the text. It's clearly in a different character set, but still not one that he can read. "Does it do that often?"
"No, it was merely showing that I could translate it."
Doctor Rhajnahah hands the book to Khajad, who has been translating from Quenya to the local language for us. He looks at the open page without comprehension, then says, "That could be quite… useful. This would not be a simple gift."
Khajad hands the book to the Lieutenant, who gives it a cursory glance, then asks Eric, "How readily taught is that skill of yours?"
"I'm not great master of it myself, but I'm fairly sure that I could teach it to someone who is gifted in a related skill."
Jhejhaleen flips between the page that Eric changed, and the next. "Perhaps an offer to take a party of the vizier's to your library and to assist them in examining and learning to read the books of that library… especially if involved making them readable to those who have not mastered your tongue. That might be of great value to the vizier."
Eric looks uncomfortable; "I feel that I must tell you that I cannot change the words to a language that I do not know."
Khajad and the Lieutenant have a quick exchange, and then Khajad says, "We assumed that when you changed it to a language we could not read. Still with enough time to exchange languages, a party of 2 or 3 - a scholar, a translator and a librarian might do very well."
Jhejhaleen adds, "I would not be surprised at all if that was not a suitable offer. Assuming that you can make it directly to the vizier, and make it soon enough."
At last! Mannie asks, "Then when can we get on his appointment book?"
Eric adds, "And how do we go about doing it?"
Khajad stumbles on the phrase 'appointment book'. We explain.
Lieutenant Jhejhaleen looks businesslike. "Leave that to me. I'll return… as early in the morning as I can. In fact, I recommend that you retire for the night shortly. If you'll all do me the favor of excusing me?"
Jhejhaleen looks expectantly at Finwë, who replies, "Of course."
With the permission of his host, Lieutenant Jhejhaleen rises from the table and bustles off into the night.
Mannie turns to Khajad and asks, "What does he mean by 'early'?"
"He began to murmer a specific prayer time, but you would not know when that was. If he has not gone to convey that to Madam, I will do so. Or if you ask her to wake you for an early breakfast, it should be early enough."
Eïr notes, "I should go back to the ship to check on my patient." She turns to Doctor Rhajnahah and continues, "He seems to be improving."
"That is well."
On that happy note, we rise from the table and bid our visitors a pleasant evening.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.