Chapter 60: The Elyssian Ambassador
We find our heroes about to be presented to the Elyssian Ambassador.
They are escorted through a rather throne-like room, into a library,
den, or study, still scaled up for nephilim, but not nearly so grand. Is
this to make us feel comfortable, or because we don't rate the fancy
The ambassador, Attalais, is a very big nephil. He greets us with rumbling formality and bids us sit. We seek out chairs that won't leave our feet dangling.
We explain that we're here to start making diplomatic ties for Lanthil, and begin with introducing ourselves. We offer to answer any questions he might have about Lanthil, but he doesn't have any yet.
That's okay, that was just our opening to ask him questions, since our main mission is to find out how to repatriate the nephilite remnant populations we've discovered. We tell him we've been encountering a lot of dragons lately, and show him the sigil Braeta found on Destine. Have the dragons been restless lately? Not that he's aware.
Robbie asks about the chances of commerce between Lanthil and Elyssia. That would be a touchy matter, Attalais tells us; foreign relations are something of a sore subject since the "recent" (antediluvian) exile. Robbie learns that Attalais, like Callais, was personally present at the exile.
Robbie decides that putting cards on the table is the best bet, and tells Attalais about Destine (after making sure that the ambassador knows what a planet it; he laughs and says yes). Robbie explains about the Destinos -- of nephilite, elven, and human blood -- all getting abducted to Yazatlan. Tom explains that Lanthil is "traditionally" interesting in liberating slave populations, since both our two main ethnic groups -- Marginalia and Ennorathi elves -- are newly liberated from slavery -- to Lilim and Worldbenders respectively. Any advice on repatriating the Destinos?
Well, it's complicated. Attalais starts by remarking that, while elves are very much concerned with manners and etiquette, "other folk" concern themselves with what is right, lawful, or just -- three concepts that do not perfectly overlap. When they don't coincide, it's hard to speak about it. Also hard to talk about it when you're personally involved. (This appears to be a diplomat's way of explaining that he feels wronged by The System, which makes it hard for him to explain The System to us, both practically and emotionally.)
We make apologetical noises and offer to change subjects, but he forges on. He explains that he isn't angry at us (staring particularly at Tom, the most mundane mortal in the group, as well as the one doing most of the talking), but rather what has been done ... on our behalf. (Pushing the arcane races, nephilim in particular, off Earth to rescue humans from being a slave race, as Tom understands it.)
The dragons took an enthusiastic part in the purges and the exile, or some draconian party did, at least. They did not try to violate the Ban themselves, except so far as their troops passed over the Earth in the course of the battles.
Tom asks if the dragons are a unified government. Attalais answers that this is a very human sort of question. There is certainly society and hierarchy among them, but their social forms don't match well to human ideas of government.
Tom: So, just because some dragons hate us, it doesn't mean they all do, right? (Attalais agrees.) We'd wondered, what with all our negative encounters lately.
Then Tom asks what the jurisdiction of the Eretsarin is, hoping to figure out if it includes the pocket universe of Yazatlan. Attalais answers in terms than make it clear that they include all the various galaxy-spanning continua. Then points out that we must consider carefully how Earthly our own realm is "for the Ban is most clear." Hm.
Robbie asks flat-out how we would repatriate the Destinos. Attalais says there's a definite procedure, but it's been so long... The best thing to do, he says, would be to have the Destinos come, or send a messenger, to ask him about it personally. Robbie himself, being an "ambiguous" being, would make an excellent candidate for messenger. (Salimar, diplomat and alien though she is, is still "a mortal of earthly realm." So there.)
Tom asks Attalais about the mysterious grey satyr, without mentioning that we met him on the borders of Lanthil. Attalais says he isn't sure he can tell Tom about it, since the Earthly realms are not yet closed to Tom. He then remarks, "A thing you may have known but not realized: The celestial blood is a very simple thing."
That baffles Robbie. Tom takes it to mean that you don't get around celestial rules like this one about telling Tom just by asking, say, one of the elves to act as Tom's intermediary. "That too," agrees Attalais, leaving Tom with the feeling he hasn't caught the whole meaning here. Tom asks if finding out about the grey being "make" the earthly realm closed to him. Attalais doesn't know.
We make a graceful withdrawal. Tom telepaths to Nick, asking if he's heard anything from the Heronese embassy yet. (No, but he's arranged for any of their messages to be forwarded to us here at the Elyssian embassy.) We ask Callais if we can stay here a couple of days, waiting for messages to catch up with us. No problem.
We twiddle our thumbs, those of us with thumbs, until the next day. Then Morniesul shows up again. He has a message for Tom, from Daewen. Actually, he has a link. Tom finds himself in video conference with Daewen, using Morniesul's magic palm-top computer/"slate." She says he's got an urgent message from... Is Morniesul there? she asks sotto voce. Tom takes the hint and tip-toes away.
Daewen tells Tom he appears to have an urgent message from a later Morniesul. It came through from Braeta, who's back at the ranch on Hellene.
Soon, Tom is talking to Braeta, through a truly lousy connection made by Daewen holding a magic mirror up to her laptop. Braeta, since we have her on the line, gets asked if she feels like representing the Destinos to Attalais. (No.) Obedan would probably fit, but she certainly doesn't feel like bringing him to the screen. In fact, she's in her room for the express purpose of avoiding him. Nephilim, like cats, don't naturally get along with each other...
She retrieves the original message she got from Morniesul. "I need to talk to Tom soon, but I'm out of sequence, so I'll be going back home. ... No, no, I'll be going home. I'm out of sequence. Have him meet me there."
Braeta also remarks that the house computers have been up to something, under an ID that's almost identical to Tom's (though he hasn't changed his yet). There's a 75% chance that this new activity was started by a couple of mail messages that went through. (She's been hacking our home system just for something to do other than see Obedan.)
Daewen opines that "home" must mean thirty years hence, when we last met the latter Morniesul. Also, "soon" must mean "soon for Tom." Well, probably. We get the general feeling that Morniesul, even the later one, still doesn't "get it" about time travel.
Tom quickly agrees to come back as fast as he can. This means using the Marcher ponies. And, Daewen says, this means getting Morniesul -- the current one -- to lead them back, since Tom is just "too linear" to get the most out of the Marcher ponies.
Tom folds up the slate and gives it back to Morniesul, worrying aloud about missing the Heronese if he leaves now. Just then, the slate chimes in Morniesul's hand and puzzles the elf very much by delivering the message "Don't worry. -M"
Tom takes his cue and packs up. In fact, we all do. Soon, we are on the road, Morniesul leading our coaches, all the horsepower involved being Marcher ponies.
Markel and his dragon fall a bit behind, at first. We pause, shrink the dragon down, and load it onto a coach as a lap-dragon. Markel recalls seeing something odd as he and the dragon flew away from the embassy. Tom helps him retrieve the memory -- As we left, a couple of folk on foot arrived, one looking a lot like ... Tom.
Okay. Tom really won't worry about missing the Heronese.
It took us two days to ride out to Elvencrown. It takes us an hour to gallop through some green blur back to Vinyagarond. Yes, it seems none of us know how to engage the higher gears on a Marcher pony.
Daewen greets us at Vinyagarond, with a slightly strained smile and the news that one of the maids says she's just finished the mess in the lab. Tom's smile is strained too -- he hasn't made that mess yet, but knows he's fated to.
We breeze up to the Grey Room, into the pantope, and thence into the ranch, making sure to change windows for doors as a "reality lock." Tom strides in. "I'm ho-o-ome!"
Greywolf comes gliding in. We give him a little news. He's glad to hear we're making progress but hastens back to dance attendance on Obedan. Braeta comes in as he leaves and remarks that she doesn't know how he does it.
Tom takes a quick look at the home computers and finds that they've been doing a lot of processing on behalf of Jumping Jacks and Crosstime. He interrogates the computers on the Nones and the Munch, and at his Pericles apartment; all he gets is a couple of copies of another message from Morniesul: "Need to talk. Contact me at your next immediate convenience. I'll be waiting where you last saw me. M."
We therefore go back to the Emerald Metaphor and prepare to fast-forward thirty years.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.