The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 98: A Change of Plans
We discuss whether we should be split with Tala-a'zahd, and agree that we should all stick together. If we split, there will be a group without a translator, and they'd probably get into trouble.
Tala-a'zahd goes back to the City Guard Lieutenant and speaks with him. The Lieutenant looks consternated. He clearly does not want to take all of us. He summons over one of his men and sends him off into the heart of the building. Tala-a'zahd returns and says, "He is uncertain if Captain Fajahal will want you removed from his headquarters. He has sent to inquire." The Lieutenant now looks anxious. We wait.
Meanwhile, Captain Fluffy, the Heroic Squirrel and his boy are faced with a squad of Harbor Guards and two City Guards who are arguing about who gets to arrest them. Lt. Marra offers to accompany them to translate.
Finwë introduces Lt. Marra to Aldamir. She tells him that her name is Marra SonAiya. Before they realize that the arguing has stopped, the larger guard group falls in around them. The two groups of guards mutually leading the way, they return towards the steps. City Guards don't usually come out to the harbor. There's soon a crowd to watch the odd occurrence.
Finwë sees a group of men off a little bit to the right who are shadowing them as they proceed up the boulevard. He wouldn't be at all surprised if they weren't related to the group they had a tussle with. He points them out to the others.
There's a series of whistles that sound as they walk up the boulevard. Lt. Marra says that the lookout has reported that they see them too, as well as a second group. About a dozen armed guards come pushing their way through the crowd. These look like Gate guards. All we need is the Palace guards and the Temple guards to collect the whole set! The new guards start arguing with our current captors. It seems that everyone wants a piece of us. Lt. Marra suggests that there seems to be a jurisdictional dispute. She follows the discussion, and then says worriedly, "I think they're going to soldier's cant, which I'm not familiar with."
The Gate guards flank the Harbor guards, and officers of all factions are in the lead. 20 Guardsmen 2 Gate officers, 2 Harbor officers, and 2 City officiers. Don't we feel safe?
Back inside the City, 2 young City Guards run into the room we're in, and approach the Lieutenant. He waves us over. All of us. He speaks sharply, and strides off. Tala-a'zahd translates, "We should go with him. He leads us through the heart of the building. We come out on the outside of the interior gate. And immediately acquire a tier of about a dozen Gate guards around our company of City guards.
When we get to the top of the stairs, Eric sees another group of soldiers approaching from the docks. In the distance, he can see the Tindome at the dock. Unknown to Eric, Teller is on the observation deck of the ship and has spied Eric at the top of the stairs.
Lt. Marra asks Finwë if he can see anything up ahead. In fact, there's a bunch of guards surrounding Eric's head. A group of Gate guards surrounding City guards.
Suddenly Finwë's head throbs with Teller's voice, «Captain be careful. There's lots and lots of guards.» Thanks. He already knew that.
We approach each other through a thickening Harbortown crowd. Someone screams and falls off the top of a 3 story building to our left into the crowd. As he falls, Eir can see that he's clutching at his midsection. The guards draw their weapons and point them at the foreigners in their midst. The two groups come to a halt, as the crowd noises increase. Lt. Marra, Captain Finwë and Aldamir raise their hands. The Gate guards (on the outside of both groups) point their weapons at the crowd. The various groups of guards are clearly nervous, and unsure. They're in a crowd, with guards they don't think they can trust. Not a good situation.
Finwë notices that the thugs appear to be edging closer.
The two groups start moving forward again. The Gate guard captain sends a runner towards the gate. He intercepts the group coming out. The Gate guards move to the front of the two groups, so the Gate guard officers meet first. The other guard groups are separated by the Gate guards, and not happy about it.
Teller drags Jocko to the the observation deck.
Suddenly Aldamir collapses at Finwë's feet. Finwë falls to his knees and observes a dagger in Aldamir's side that wasn't there a moment ago. Lt. Marra is suddenly standing over them with a sword and a dagger in her hands. All of the Harbor guards are suddenly facing them with weapons drawn. The Gate guards face out with their weapons. The City guards from the gate move forward quickly. The two groups are now united. Eir moves quickly to Finwë, and lays hands on Aldamir to Heal him. Whatever she did, he looks much better now. As Eir exams and binds Aldamir's remaining wounds, she asks Finwë, "Are you hurt?"
"Oh, no." He starts dithering and flustering.
Eir cocks her head and asks, "What's that blood?" And goes back to binding Aldamir's wounds.
Finwë looks down. Why some of the blood is his. He was stabbed! "Oh goodness, I've been wounded."
"Stay still. And hush." She reaches up and lays hands on him. He feels much better. She pulls out a few packages of herbs and throws together a poultice for Aldamir.
Teller contacts Eir over the Net and asks if there's anything he can do to help. Teller suggests a number of possibilities; flaming cannons, boiling oil, flaming arrows, you know the traditional things. Eir thought not. Then Teller suggested things he could send via his slingshot. Sleepbombs and the like. Eir rejects those too. «Keep watch. Just keep watch… but if you could make the Captain stop dithering…»
Mannie calls out to Tala-a'zahd "We're not safe here!"
Tala-a'zahd gestures at our 'companions', "There are 3 rings of guards."
"Aldamir got stabbed in the middle of this group." Tala-a'zahd inclines his head, and then talks with the City Guards, gesturing at Aldamir who's still on the ground, being tended by Eir. The City Guard Lietenant barks, and order, and the City Guardsmen put away their weapons and raise their shields to protect their captives.
Finwë, Eir, Aldamir and Lt. Marra are outside the shield, with Lt. Marra closest to the rest of the crew. Suddenly she summersault's over Finwë, Eir and Aldamir and is facing back towards the docks. The City guards move forward, extending their shields over Finwë, Eir and Aldamir. The guards who were facing in applaud.
The officers are arguing among themselves. Tala-az'ahd says that the City Guards appear to be disparaging the Harbor Guards effectiveness.
Through the circles of surrounding guardsmen, Eric sees someone staring at them. They must be pretty small, or hunkered down.
Tala-a'zahd calls out to Eir, "Your man, can he be moved?"
"Can he move himself?"
"He's unconscious. Captain, can you pick him up?"
Finwë flusters. He sees Mannie and gestures to him. Mannie picks up Aldamir and asks, "Where are we going?"
Tala-a'zahd calls out something, and the City Guard Lieutenant barks out an order. Tala-azhad says, "Move towards the gate." We stay with the City guards. There's more arguing among the various guard groups. The City Guardsmen ignore them. The Harbor and Gate guards don't appear to be happy, but the City Guardsmen don't stop.
There's more hubbub from the top of the stair. We grind to a halt at the foot of the stairs. The Gate guards have come out in force.
More noise from sunward. Eric can see robes heading towards us. "It appears that some church or another is coming to help."
An authoritative voice barks out something. This is Prefect of the Gate Facilton Marfect. Tala-azahd translates, "The prefect demands to know what has happened."
Guardsmen and officers part as the prefect approaches. He looks at Mannie and demands to know who's in charge.
Finwë replies, "That would be me." He tries to fleck the blood off his uniform.
"You folk seem to be at the heart of this. What is going on?"
"Myself and one of my men have been grievously injured. We're trying to heal him. And it looks like this uniform may be ruined." He turns to Tala-a'zahd, "Tala-azahd, translate that exactly."
The prefect says, "Somehow, I suspect that came after the closing of the gate and... the faceoff within the city."
Mannie tells him about Madam Fishilashi. We seem to have been caught up in the middle of fighting between factions within the city.
Mannie finishes, "All we came here to do is pick up the scholars we promised to take to Lanthil. We also have a presentation to the Serpent Prince. If he'll receive us. Once we're done with that, we will gladly leave."
Two of the giant Gate guards suddenly appear behind the Prefect. They're easily 10" high, with fangs. Things that large shouldn't be able to move that stealthily. The Prefect says, "You will all come to my Gatehouse." He turns and stalks across the stairs to the Gatehouse of the Gate.
The Harbor Guardsmen withdraw.
Lt. Marra mutters over her shoulder to the City Guardsmen. The City Guards sigh. The turtle starts moving, across the stairs, to the other Gatehouse.
Eric catche the person he saw before, still shadowing us. Through all of this.
We find ourselves at the Gatehouse door. Tala-azahd says, "We are all invited in, along with one City Guard officer. And madam, please sheath the swords." Lt. Mara looks at Finwë, who nods. With a well-practiced motion, the swords disappear into their sheaths. We file in.
We're in a large, richly decorated open room with pillars. Guards are lined up around the edge of the room, including smaller versions of the Giants from outside. Only 7 feet tall. Some only have 1 fang. Several clerks are bustling around.
"So, Captain." Says the prefect of the Gate. "Have a seat." He gestures at one of the low table with drinks, fruits, etc. "And the appropriate members of your crew." We all sit, after Aldamir.
Lt. Marra puts both scabbarded swords on the table and sits with us.
Over the Net, Eir asks Teller if he can tell what's wrong with Finwë. Teller attempt to contact Finwë. He simply feels numb. Eir looks him over again and concludes that was the blood loss and the contamination of his beloved uniform.
Once we're settled, the Prefect says, "So Captain, did you in some matter offend the Palace guard."
"Not having spoken with them recently, I can't be sure."
Two people come over and whisper in the Prefect's ear. "There was an incident outside Madam Fishilashi's boarding house with the Palace guard?"
"They did follow us there."
"One of them was mugged. Were your people involved in the assault on this guard?"
"There was a Palace guard who was watching us. But we did nothing to him."
Over the Net, Eir asks teller to contact the Captain and Mannie.
Once the connection is made, Eir says over the net, «That's the one who was watching us, who we had take a nap.»
Finwë replies over the net, «I see no reason to amend my statement. »
The Prefect continues, "So he was set upon while watching you, but you know nothing more than that."
"That is correct. "
"There was an incident afterwards with the Palace and City guard?"
"Yes, it appeared that the Palace guard was attempting to do us harm. Some members of the City guard escorted us from the danger. We have no idea why the Palace guard wanted to harm us."
The Prefect stares at Finwë for a bit, then continues, "Do you propose to complete your mission; deliver your message to the Prince and pickup your sages, or leave town?"
"I suspect that we'll do both. Complete our mission and leave town."
The prefect stares at Finwe some more. Finwe returns his gaze unconcernedly. Finally the Prefect shakes his head and turns to the City Guard Lieutenant. "Take them away."
Lt. Marra retrieves her scabbarded swords, the City Guard Lieutenant gestures in the anti-sunward direction of the other gate. We rise and follow. The entire top tier has Gate Guardsmen on it. We pass them, to the other side.
We find ourselves in the other contested Gatehouse. The City Guards join us and escort us back to Captain Fijal's side of the Gatehouse. Before anybody gets hurt, Teller drops the net. We eventually find ourselves back in the outer offices of Capt. Fijal.
"Captain Fijal. It's a pleasure to see you again. I'm sorry the situation is so stressful. I just heard about Madam Fishilashi. I can't believe that they would do that to your aunt."
Captain Fijal looks around his office. It's quite crowded. He pulls Captain Finwë and Tala-a'zahd into his private office. "They're willing to trade my aunt for your party."
"While I'm flattered that my crew is considered equivalent to Madam Fishilashi and her boundless hospitality…"
Finwë stumbles to a halt. Before he can continue Captain Fijal interrupts, "I don't take well to being coerced. And tempting as the offer is, I'm inclined to decline."
"I thank you for your forbearance. However, it seems to me suddenly, the Prefect of the Gate asked us if we intended to complete our tasks here, or leave the City of Darkholme. If we left, would it facilitate the release of your aunt?"
"Assuming that their purpose of taking her was to exchange her for you, one would assume that that would de-escalate the situation. However if I allowed you to escape, it just might anger them."
"Given that the Palace guards seem to be hostile to ourselves, I suspect that turning ourselves in to them might not be the best thing for myself and my crew."
"On the other hand, you mentioned your mission. That will require you to go to two places. The 5th Temple, and the Palace."
"Which is probably not a safe place to go. Would it be possible to have you assist us in completing our mission with the 5th temple? It will be beneficial to both Darkholme and Lanthil."
"Not without the assistance of the Captain of the Temple. I've sent him an inquiry. It should not be long. I control most of the City."
"Then may I suggest that we wait for his answer."
"Why don't you invite your people in here?"
Finwë and Tala-a'zahd go to the outer office just as Captain Jejalene arrives. "Captain Finwë – still up to your old tricks."
"I think I'm still the same height as I have always been."
Jejalene looks at Tala-a'zahd, who shrugs.
Hearing Jejalen, Captain Fijal comes out and joins us. Jejalene asks, "Has fighting broken out in this end of the City?"
Finwë replies, "I can't say anything about the City, but we were set upon in the Harbortown."
Captain Fijal grimaces, "Yes Captain, in fact the Gate is uncontrolled."
Captain Fijal, Captain Jejalene, Finwë and Eric go to the map room. There's a great table with a map of the City. Captain Jejalene takes a few tokens in colors of the Palace Gard and lines them up at the Palace gate. "He's got the Palace, and these manors and these temples outside the Palace walls."
Captain Fijal studies the map a moment, then calls to a Lieutenant, "Move the 3rd here to support Jejalene's regiments, and the 5th moves here." He turns to Captain Jejalene and continues conversationally, "I was just discussing the situation with Captain Finwë. He expressed an interest in completing his missions. One leads to the Palace, which he feels might not be wise. The other leads to the 5th Temple."
Jejalene looks at Finwë, "To meet the sages that we negotiated last time you were here."
"Do you have anything that you need to pick up a the 5th temple?"
"The Sages are at the Temple of the Scroll."
"Ah!" Finwe looks more closely at the map. "It strikes me looking at this map that you have a bit of civil war going on."
"Yes, it is a City war." Jejalene pauses, "You may remember that creature Lalimene. That 'fellow'."
"Oh, the vizir's creature. Yes."
"He and the adujent have supplanted me in the Palace guard. There always been rivalries among the Guard, but they've gotten more intense."
"Our arrival here seems to have precipitated events."
"Some three months after you were here, something else occurred. Higher powers or their emissaries arrived and the adujent and the vizir's creature gained significant power in the City. I haven't had access within the Palace since then."
"I don't know what triggered it, but it was not long after your departure."
"I strikes me that this might not be a good time to complete my other mission to the Serpent Prince. You mentioned 'Higher powers'. So the Serpent Prince is answerable to a higher power?"
"Yes, foreigners would never understand the complexity of it, but you might think of the Serpent Prince as a viceroy."
"Would it be safe to say that the sages who are to return to Lanthil with us are knowledgeable about the hierarchy here so they could possibly explain it to us?"
"I suppose that you could always try."
"It sounds like an adequate compromise. If you can securely transfer the sages to the Tindome, then we'll make a quick and respectful departure from Darkholme."
"Kala-ajhad suggested that you might take that course."
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2008
©2008 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved