The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 47: Sarah
No one seems to be looking at us especially cross-eyed, so we continue on to
the palace. We pass the gate, and bear left to reach the temple that is our
destination. The lieutenant addresses the guards there. One of them enters
the temple, and, after a few minutes, a cleric emerges.
He speaks to us, and Khajad translates: "What is your business here?"
"We have an appointment with the high priest," replies Captain Finwë.
After a longish pause, we are granted entry. We step into a wide entryway. Beyond it is a wider, deeper room. The priest steps to the left, and pulls back a curtain to reveal a curving staircase. Jhejhaleen signals to our captain that he should lead. He does. "An air of quiet respect is all that is required of foreigners," murmurs Khajad.
We climb about two stories, to another entryway-like space. A token bead curtain separates this room from the one beyond it. The priest points to the room beyond the curtain, and says, "You may wait there." We enter the inner room, and sit on some firm (but nicely covered) cushions. Eric tests the area for Vibes; it has a pleasant but austere vibe.
After we wait a significant time, a younger priest enters the room we're in through a doorway covered with a heavier, more opaque bead curtain. He looks us over, all of us, all eleven of us. "His Excellency can see you now."
Finwë asks Khajad how many of us are to enter. Khajad says that the number was unspecified. The elf says that Lt. Jhejhaleen, Khajad, Eric (with the gift), and himself will go in. "Sam, don't worry," he says. The young cleric leads the smaller group through the curtain into an office.
It looks more like a Lanthilo office than any office we've seen in Darkholme. There is an older gentleman in opulent robes, sitting in a chair at a desk. There are filled bookcases behind him, and a ledger, quill, and scroll before him. There are other (backless) chairs in the room.
He looks up at us and says something. Khajad says, "His Excellency welcomes you with hospitality and warmth."
Captain Finwë replies graciously, "I thank His Excellency for taking this time to meet with us, and I therefore present him with a gift. This is the first half of a volume from our land of Lanthil. We hope there will be a future opportunity to present the later half to you."
His Excellency reaches forward and takes the bound sheaf of papers. He leafs through it. "It is in two scripts," he observes.
"One is Quenya, and the other is Anglic, which some humans speak," Finwë explains.
Khajad translates some more questions. "His Excellency asks if I read both of these languages. I have explained that my Anglic is very bad. He asks about the content of the book."
"It is called The Races of Earth. It is a telling that has been handed down for thousands of years, and catalogues the creation of each of the races of Earth…" He continues on at length; it is an area of interest to him. He explains that the Lady Daëwen wrote this down in the Silver Book.
"I am unfamiliar with this Daëwen," says the High Priest.
Finwë describes the Lady of Lanthil, her depth and profundity, her importance to Lanthil. He explains that this book has been copied from one of the copies made directly from the Silver Book by Tom Noon.
The High Priest says that he understands that we have arrived in Darkholme at the behest of Daëwen, but that this particular visit is not directly connected with that.
"Indeed, we have come here on a matter somewhat aside from that, a matter of personal interest. We are a nation of explorers, and so we have come to the wonderful land of Darkhome. We have thus met with the Serpent Prince." He continues on in this vein. Finally, he gets to the point. "As it happens, not that long ago, a ship foundered. But not all was lost. One of my daughters was rescued immediately. My son was not so lucky; he was captured by pirates – pirates which I believe trouble your shore as well. We have rescued him, of course. Then we learned that my younger daughter had made it to this civilized land. We ascertained that she is here, in this temple…."
The High Priest asks if we are certain that she is here.
"Yes, we have learned this, and we are delighted. Ours is a new land, and our children are all precious to us. For elves, children come rarely and are especially precious. We understand that there may be… encumbrances that attend the return of my daughter to us. We appreciate the efforts that have been made to keep her safe, on the part of so many people. We would like to offer to bring a scholar from this temple to learn in our libraries, to stay with us for a year and a day. We do have translators for this material, such as Mr. Wright here." He gestures to Eric.
The Priest acknowledged that this was a "not ill-considered" offer, although others, geographically closer, had made offers of greater material value. He then addresses Lt. Jhejhaleen. "And what brings you here?"
The lieutenant bows, "I was charged by the Serpent Prince to assist these people in achieving their goal."
The High Priest smiles to hear this. "I see." He turns back to the elf. "You are certain that your daughter is here. You can identify her in some way?"
The captain describes Sarah in general terms, and then in more specific, and increasingly rapturous terms. The priest ends the babbling, explaining apologetically, "It is not our custom to allow strangers to view… all… many… of those… in our custody." He calls over a clerk, and sends him out to see if he can find this Sarah, as described.
"How far distant is this Lanthil?"
"It took us several days to come here over the Open Sea. Time, of course, has a certain flexibility in various parts, such as ours, of the Open Sea. We sailed toward the glow of the sun in exploration, and so we came here."
"So you in fact come from a land beyond the reach of the sun?"
"Yes. In fact, the name of our land, Lanthil, means 'Lightfall' and is named for the chief source of light in our land."
"Some of our sailors have traversed the Open Sea, and heard of Lanthil from the sailors of other lands, but none of our own have traveled there."
"Indeed!" exclaims the elf. "We have had travelers from many lands, some of which seemed similar to your country, but none of whom actually came from Darkholme."
"I had heard of this light, responds the High Priest. "Some claimed that it was blue and some green."
"Ah. It is the purest blue white," gushes Finwë. "We brought a sample to your Serpent Prince. Undoubtedly you have heard from people who had the story from those who had actually seen it. It is as prominent in our land as the volcano is in yours, and more prominent even than the sun here, which is still low."
"I look forward to the possibility of a young man, perhaps from the household of the Grand Vizier himself, traveling to your land," suggests the High Priest.
Finwe reiterates that Eric here has mastery of many languages, both written and spoken, and mentions that Eric has samples with him of those tongues which he can translate.
The clerk returns and reports to His Excellency that there is but one girl in all of the temple who matches the description. The clerk explains that he has taken it upon himself to order her made ready. The High Priest nods. The clerk then drifts back into his obscure corner.
"It would seem likely that we have your daughter here," he admits.
Finwe smiles, and nods.
The High Priest looks over some papers on his desk. "Ah, a certain amount of interest has been expressed in this young lady, but, ah, no promises have been offered or made." Finwë continues to simply smile and nod. "As the Prince and the Vizier have expressed an interest in this, and since your offer seems quite equitable and well-considered–" Finwë makes a slight bow towards him. "I hope that you will realize that the price you offer is one that I may have to confer upon with the Grand Vizier or the vizier of the lieutenant's master." He means the Vizier of the Palace. "And such a transfer requires a certain amount of negotiation, if you know the ways of palaces. I see no impediment to your offer." Finwë grants him a broad smile. "And, in fact, certain benefits are to be had by all. Therefore, I think it quite possible to conduct this, if you will allow me a certain bit of time to make arrangements."
"Would it be possible to see her soon? As you have said, many young women look…"
"Of course, that is very sensible," agrees the High Priest.
"Might I wait with my companions while this young lady is made ready?" asks the elf.
"Yes, certainly. It will enable me to begin my efforts that much more quickly."
The clerk slips up to Finwë's side, and asks a question softly. The captain beckons Khajad closer to translate discretely: "Would you like some water, fruit, or bread?" The captain chooses water for us all.
Finwë and Eric return to the rest of us. Our captain announces, "The negotiations went well. Your sister, my daughter, is the only blonde, blue-eyed young woman in the palace. She will be presented to us soon."
"Will we be able to take her away with us?" demands Sam.
"The High Priest explained to us that interest has been expressed in her unique heritage, parties who were willing to wait to, um, express her phenotype."
We refresh ourselves with the water. We wait. Minutes pass. We hear footsteps. We all look at the curtain, and subtly place Sam right in the middle of the front. Finwë stands near her, but not obtrusively. The clerk pulls back the opaque curtain. A sturdily-built matron in a veil and heavy robes steps through, followed by three younger women also in opaque veils. In the center of the three is a small figure in a headscarf and light veil. Behind them come two large male guards. Everyone comes into the vestibule, so that they are still beyond the translucent curtain.
The matron turns and says something. Khajad says, "She has been told to seek the foreigner. I believe she means you." Khajad walks toward the curtain. Finwë gestures Sam forward in front of him. Khajad speaks, mentioning "Ashadi Finway." She gives the elf a hard look. Finwë gives her a serene smile. "Sam!" calls out a small voice, unfamiliar to us.
Sam steps forward. The duenna does the wall thing. The ladies contract around the small figure. "Please allow my daughter to greet her sister," says Finwë. The duenna scowls behind her veil. Sam strides forward confidently.
The matron mutters something. Two of the young ladies separate a bit. "It is you!" arises from their midst. Other sisterly burbling arises where the two girls meet. Finwë mentions telepathically to Sam. "Be sure to mention quietly to Sarah that I am acting as her father to achieve her release." Sam acknowledges this. Finwë broadens his smile to a fatuous fatherly grin. "Yes, yes, it's me," says Sam, "Father Finwë has gone to great trouble to get you back. We are all told that it will happen very soon."
Sarah kidney-punches the lady on her left, steps forward, and says, "But I don't want to wait!"
"But, Sarah–!" says Finwë. Teller drops Sarah with a sleep spell. Sam brushes aside the second lady effortlessly, and catches her sister before she can hit the floor. The matron tells Finwë, "I had been told that the transaction has not been finalized."
Finwë acknowledges this. The third young lady backs away from the large figure of Sam, still holding her sister.
The matron admits, "Although she has not recently attacked anyone, she has been … very difficult."
Finwë goes back to smiling serenely. "It is said in Lanthil that it is bad luck to marry an elf maid without her consent."
The matron looks unhappy. "Yet, she has not ever collapsed before. We have healers…"
"It is merely the excitement of this happy moment. She will be better soon, I'm sure. We shall await the conclusion of the High Priest's investigations."
The matron says uneasily that she does not know how long the High Priest will take...
The captain, after mentally consulting with the rest of us, offers Sam as a companion to Sarah while we wait. He silently informs Sam that she should explain the entire situation to her sister. This is agreed to. The downed lady is helped away by the other two young women, and Sam strides after them, carrying Sarah, and followed by the duenna.
Finwë begins to suggest to the clerk that we shall wait here, with some fruit and cheese. Lt. Jhejhaleen signals him. They and Khajad huddle, and Finwë is told that it would be easier for the negotiations if we did not see who came and went during their course. Our captain agrees. He apologizes to the clerk for being so inconsiderate, and assures him that we will return to our residence, Madame Fishilashi's boarding house.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.