The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 83: Dinner and Tablecloths
Stevedores start off-loading our cargo. In the middle of this bustling activity, a small man makes his way down the dock to our ship. It is someone looking for our captain. "And you have found him. I am Captain Finwë Ciryandil," bows Finwë.
He is the storage master, and has come to discuss the particulars of the cargo. After a little consultation with Eïr (who has made it her business to know exactly what cargo we have, the value of each piece, and its preferred treatment), and Eric (who wrote down a Complete List), he has all the information he needs, and leaves in a content mood.
We change into our formal clothing. (Teller, as always, looks like a pile of rags; Eïr may have her sash on, but it would have to be under her usual garb.) A small transport vessel arrives, and we take it to Caer Netha. On the way, the captain notices the two dwarves examining his ship. He introduces himself, and the engineers return the courtesy. Mandorak asks about non-wind propulsion, and gets a partial evasion. Ah. We are not supposed to know about the sky metal. We play along.
We head towards a large island, then dodge around it to a smaller island. There is one tower, off to the left that looks likes a classic wizard's tower. The ship spreads its boomlets, performs a stoop-and-climb maneuver, and comes in to moor halfway up the tower. The ship is soon tied off. Mannie congratulates the captain as we disembark.
We are greeted by the Lady Owner. In response to a question, she explains that her grandfather built the tower "for diplomatic and economic reasons." She takes us around the outside of the tower, and points out the various locales and their names. She asks us about our homes. We obligingly describe Lanthil, our abodes there, and our original homes, as pertinent. By various conversational paths, we come to the term "parasail."
Mandorak and Bavör describe the operation of a parasail, while the Lady Nethora struggles to understand its basis. She would like something that prevents anyone from falling from a great height. We explain about the jump belts, as an application of psionic telekinetics. Bay demonstrates with a butter knife. She definitely glazes over; this is a people with almost no words left in their Elvish to describe magical skills. We inform her that we have brought some, since we thought the people of the Sky Islands might find them… attractive. She agrees.
She then unbends so far as to explain, haltingly and while groping through an inadequate vocabulary, that they infuse metals (copper and silver) with the fire of wood and other things that burn, and that these metals in turn "energize" the sky metal in ships. She hopes that the Lightfall water could become another energy source for them. This is something she really, really wants. We have to say, over and over, that we are an exploratory vessel, not a trading ship, and we have to go to Darkholme before we can do anything about their energy needs.
Nethora confesses that she doesn't understand the process, and that Toma and his friend Middan have a much deeper understanding of the topic.
We go in for a multi-course dinner. Around the end of the first course, the expected new guests arrive. They are Captain Lestron of the Nighthawk, his wife Nara, and their son, Middan. Middan joins the technical discussion, and we are soon making progress in understanding their worldview of "cold," "warm," and "ethereal" metals, and of "sharp" liquids. We decide that "extracting the fire" refers to making batteries. We soon decide that a small shipboard blade-driven generator is what they need. The engineers draw on the tablecloth, until Eric provides paper and drawing instruments. As the courses pass, we design a wind-driven generator.
By dinner's end, we are discussing the trade with Darkholme. Like us, they land their ships on the water and sail into Darkholme on the surface. "The people of Darkholme are not as welcoming to strangers as they might be," observes the Lady Nethora. We appreciate the phrasing. We delicately reach an understanding that we are more comfortable with the Sky Islanders and with the Darkholmers.
The dessert course – mostly fruit – arrives, and we attempt to do justice to it.
Updated: Oct 19, 2007
©2002, 2007 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.