The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 64: Fruits and Nuts
Eric picks up a plum-sized rock, to use as a locator (should we ever wish to return her).
Captain Finwë, still nursing his headache, looks out the window, and spots a tree with tiny glints on it that might be fruit. He zooms in on it, and the glints turn into small globes that might be fruit. He goes off in search of Tell, and finds the Marginalis deep in the hold below Engineering. Teller is more concerned about the bloody wound on the captain's head, and puts him to sleep. This enables Eïr, who has been chasing after the captain to keep him quiet and heal him, to actually engage in some healing. Teller is inept in his attempt to make Finwë forget the incident.
When the captain awakes, he is still haunted by the traumatic events of the crash, and has no later memory. "What happened? The crash!" He dashes for the sky bridge, followed by Eïr and Teller. He passes a bewildered Sam on his way. He observes the scene of the two dwarves, sawing logs into various useful shapes.
The captain brings up the telepathy net. "What happened?" he demands of Mr. Craggenhilt. "Where are we? And why are you sawing wood?"
"We explained this earlier," the dwarf replies calmly. "Don't you remember?"
Finwë drops the net to the dwarves. Now he remembers a little of the events after the crash. "I've apparently been hit harder than I thought I would," he remarks to Sam.
"I was very lucky that I was holding onto the ladder," she replies.
"I wasn't. I think I need to lie down. I must have hit my head harder than I thought."
"Yes," admits Eïr, "but I've healed you!"
"You had a boo-boo," adds Teller.
The captain addresses the Marginalis. "...I need you! Come with me."
As they pass Sam, she protests, "That cut looks like it's at least a week old!"
"But I healed it," explains Eïr.
"But it should only be a few hours old," continues Sam.
Finwë ignores everything else. He tells Teller. "There are little silver fruits on the trees outside."
"In the trees outside," he repeats.
"You could call them to come to you," the little creature suggests.
"No, I don't have that skill," the captain explains. "Come with me; I'll show you." He beckons.
Teller balks. "Will I have to leave the ship?"
"No. Just up here." He leads Teller up to the Observatory. Sam follows on her own. "See? Out there. We need the fruit to distract the Lady before we tell her that Mr. Craggenhilt broke her ship."
Sam thinks they look like apples, well, definitely fruit.
"Captain, you should stay with the ship, because you can steer it better than I can," explains Eïr. "We'll go out and get the fruit."
Although the captain is fixated on placating Daëwen, he does point out that the ship isn't going anywhere, so it doesn't matter if he goes out or not. Sam volunteers to go out with Eïr, leaving both Finwë and Teller in the ship.
Mandorak notices them going by. "Where are you going?"
"We're looking for...apples?" Sam twists her mouth expressively.
"Take Aldamir with you," Mannie advises. "He seems to understand these woods. He hasn't found anything dangerous, although he did introduce us to a very old willow."
"Mr. Aldamir, would you care to join us?" Sam asks.
Meanwhile, Eïr expresses her worry about the captain and his preoccupation, and Mannie assures her that he will go back inside and watch over the captain.
On their way, Sam spots something moving in the tree. Finwë watches through the zoomed window, and sees them point into the tree. Mannie arrives. "Are you all right, captain? You haven't seemed yourself. And you dropped me off the net."
As they walk, Aldamir points out, "They could be birds."
Sam points out, "Probably, if there are birds, there should be other animals."
Eïr finally spots the birds.
Meanwhile, Engineer Craggenhilt reports their progress with the wood, including the news that Bavör can improve the engine's efficiency by three percent through a redesign during the rebuild. Finwë only cares that the engine can be repaired. "I am watching our people, who are being attacked by birds."
The dwarf looks, but sees no attack. He does watch them walk down into a dip beyond a ridge. Teller becomes very upset as they disappear. The captain contacts Eïr and Sam telepathically. "Is everything all right? We can't see you, and some of us are bothered by this. Are you in a dip?"
"Yes. We're getting closer to the tree. We can see birds in it," reports Sam.
Eïr uses her telescope, and tells everyone what she sees. "They don't look like apples, but they do look like fruit, round, silvery fruit. There are birds there. One is pecking at a fruit."
Eventually, they get close enough to hear the high, thready twittering of the birds. At the base of the tree are some dropped fruits. They look like lumpy pomegranates, and they are a dull silver. Most of the fruit are still growing on high branches.
Teller connects through the telepathy net. "Take some twigs and leaves, as well as fruit. Ask the tree first."
Aldamir remarks, "These are very large for fruit trees; they are more like nut trees." He picks up a fallen branch, and several of the windfall fruit. He examines one closely. "If the surface were smoother, this would be shiny as well as silver."
Eïr looks around the area, making sure that we haven't missed anything unusual or useful. Something moves in the water near the ship. She looks again, but sees nothing. The other two take turns looking through the spyglass, but also see nothing. Aldamir says, "I think you're right. I think something moved, but not while I was looking at it."
The captain directs them to return, and not to investigate the spire. Nevertheless, Eïr examines it with the telescope. There, near one of the 'roots' of the spire that leads out from it, she sees a shiny spot. She reports to the captain, who insists that they return with the fruit first. Teller, who thinks they should investigate, calms the captain, and urges them to explore.
The group pretty much ignores the captain. Eïr and Sam, followed by Aldamir, walk up the root towards the spire. Aldamir observes that none of the trees are identical to terrestrial types, but most are similar. The Oakley bends down and picks up a nut. He flourishes it. "I thought so. Nut trees." He hands a few to Eïr, who tucks them into a pocket of her cloak.
They keep going, until they reach the crotch of the spire. The shiny spot has resolved into a dark crevice with something shiny in it. This is an enormous crack in the rock of the spire there: some ten feet high and ten feet deep. Inside it, the walls look smooth and grey, but when they touch one, it turns out to be metal. The walls can even be shined with a little effort, so the walls are the shiny spot. They report this back to Finwë. Aldamir scrapes at the metal, and finally manages to get a small sample. He picks up a bit of rock from the outside.
They look around, and see nothing remarkable. Aldamir takes notes on the trees and flowering shrubs. They make their way back to the beach and the ship, and present their samples to the captain.
Finwë is rapturous, and leads the way into the galley, looking for storage vessels for the various items. He remarks that if these are pomegranates, we must be very careful of their seeds. At Teller's pressing, he gives a vague, confused explanation of an old story about pomegranate seeds, and returning to where they were consumed. Sam describes the spire, explaining that it seemed to be a tree of metal, with bark and heartwood, although she assures him that she doesn't really think of it as a tree.
They eventually think to call in Eric to perform a full inventory. It takes quite some time, but is very thorough.
Updated: May 11, 2007
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.