The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 97: Unrest in the Harbor
Finwë's meeting with the other captains went well. After bidding the other captains goodbye, he arrives at the city gate with Aldamir to meet us. When he gets there, he finds much hubbub. The gate is closed. We've never seen it closed, in either of our visits.
Eir, Manny, Beyvör & Eric are inside.
Why is the gate closed? wonders the Captain. Perhaps his crew is on this side of the wall? Finwë attempts a telepathic connection to Eir or Mannie. The next thing he sees is Aldamir's face looking down at him. "Captain? You tried to do something magic and then you fell over."
The Captain groans and attempts to rise to his feet. "That didn't work very well. I was attempting to contact Mannie or Eir. They appear to be inside the PSI wall. I think when I get back to the Tindome I'm going to want a bottle of something that Mr. Cragenhilt doesn't think I know about in the back cabinet."
"I recommend last Thursday's vintage. They used a different set of spices in that batch."
"This complicates matters. They're in there, and we're outside. And lacking a pass for the city, it would be very difficult for us to work our way inside. I suggest we head back to the Tindome."
"Good idea, sir. Would you like to lean on me."
"No, if I hold my head this way, it isn't too bad…"
They stagger back towards the ship to await further developments. Finwë is sunk in misery and paying no attention to the surrounding streetscape. After a block or two, Aldamir realizes that half a dozen rough looking sorts are closing in on them. Softly he says, "Captain, we're being tracked by street thugs."
Finwë sighs, "And they won't let me carry my bow in this city."
"They're encircling us. Can we walk into a store?"
"How about this lizard-on-a-stick shop..." Finwë wastes no time entering. Unfortunately, Aldamir isn't as quick and is grabbed by two of the thugs as he attempts to follow. With a squeal of rage his squirrel Rillis leaps valiantly from his shoulder and attacks one of Aldamir's attackers. Aldamir attempts to take advantage of the distraction to escape, but additional gang members arrive and grab him before he can get to the doorway the Captain disappeared through.
Finwë finds himself in the dim entryway of a restaurant. The Maître 'D natters at him incomprehensibly. Finwë assumes that he's being asking if he'd like a table. "Yes, my companion and I…" Finwë turns to gesture at Aldamir… who isn't there. The Maître 'D puts two fingers on the Captain's shoulder and gestures at the door. "I must go and rescue my companion."
Meanwhile, Rillis has his teeth firmly in the hand of one of Aldamir's attackers, in that nice meaty part between the thumb and forefinger. He's howling and shaking his hand to try to dislodge the squirrel without success. A crowd has gathered to watch the fun.
The door Finwë disappeared through opens, revealing the Captain. Unfortunately, there's yet another thug between Aldamir and the door. The first thug finally manages to dislodge Rillis, throwing him onto the back of the thug in front of the door. Finwë calls petulantly, "Aldamir, our table is ready!"
At the sound, the first two thugs, one of whom has a bloody hand, turn to attack Finwë. He pulls out a dagger to defend himself, stabbing at the second thug. It must have been an excellent blow, because the thug collapses to the ground. The thug with the bloody hand punches him. Worse than the blow is that the thug got blood on his uniform. The uniform that he received from the hands of the Lady herself! Finwë resolves that the thug will have to die.
Aldamir yells for Rillis and tries to dodge for the door. He doesn't make it. The thug in front of him has a squirrel hanging from his ear, but still gets a punch in. Through the stars in his vision, Aldamir sees a belaying pin fly past. There's a definite "Oof!" but he's not sure who got hit.
Finwë's attacker bleeds on him some more, angering him further. The red blood will clash terribly with the delicate blue of the uniform.
Simultaneously, there's a crack of gunfire and Aldamir's attacker punches him. Then one of the other thugs, with a hole in his side leaking blood, falls on Aldamir's attacker.
Finwë stabs at his attacker, slicing his arm. A painful wound, but one not incapacitating. And it will result in still more blood on his uniform!
Lt. Marra from the Eagle puts a gun to the back of the head of Finwë's attacker. Unfortunately, the local thugs don't appear to know about firearms, and he continues to attack, swinging at Finwë and spattering more blood. Lt. Marra drops her aim to his shoulder and shoots. The thug drops. Finwë swings at him as he goes down, but misses.
Aldamir's attacker spins around to face him again. Aldamir again attempts to dodge around him to get to Finwë. Other sailors from the Eagle arrive. Oblivious to the arriving aid, Aldamir notices that the doorframe is wood. Rillis lands on his shoulder and chitters, scolding the thugs.
Finwë puts the thug writhing at his feet out of his misery. Hopefully that will teach them to bleed on his uniform!
Lt. Marra puts her one-shot guns away and pulls out a dagger, and moves forward to defend Finwë and Aldamir. A sailor hunkers down next to his lieutenant with a belaying pin. There's a second sailor grappling on the ground with a 5th thug. There's a 6th thug somewhere… Ah yes. There he is. He goes to assist his buddy grappling on the ground, and Lt. Marra pulls out her gun and yells, "Oh no you don't!" And very softly, in archaic Elvish, she mutters, "Bluff".
Finwë replies softly, "Understood."
Aloud she asks, "Do you have any others to withdraw?" Finwë allows that he's only here with Aldamir. And Rillis, Aldamir's squirrel.
She tells Lars to help his mate (the one grappling) so they can advance to the rear.
Aldamir steps forward with a stake, Rillis chittering threateningly from his shoulder. There's a matching gouge in the doorframe of the restaurant. Lars and his friend subdue the thug on the ground. The six of them back away from the thugs, towards the docks.
Once the crowd has swallowed the thugs, Lt. Marra hands her powder box and one of the guns to Aldamir for him to reload. Aldamir fumbles with it a bit, and chants "Powder, paper, ball" to himself. It takes a try or two, but he loads it successfully and hands it back to her. She gives him the second gun to load. He does this one better.
More sailors from the Eagle arrive, with more guns. The crowd backs away.
About the time they reach the docks, the harbor guards show up. Lt. Marra observes "We appear to be pointing weapons at the guard." She barks out a command and the sailors safe their guns, but continue to retreat to the ships.
An officer approaches. Lt. Marra gestures at the approaching officer, "Shall we both meet him here?"
"Let us continue on our way. If he wishes to stops us, he can. I must change my clothing."
"Of course." They continue to Tindome. Rillis quiets under Aldamir's stroking.
Meanwhile, inside the city, Eric explains to Tala-a'zahd that we're expecting the Captain, and that he may have information that would be helpful.
"The gate is closed. Shall we ask if there's a way to let him in or contact him?"
"Yes, that would be best."
Unfortunately, the Captain of the Gate has wandered off. Tala-a'zahd looks around for an officer. Eventually he finds a Lieutenant, and explains why we want Finwë. The Lieutenant looks unhappy with this; he's been told that nobody is to go in or out. Tala-a'zahd eventually manages to convince him that finding the Captain is key to resolving the current crisis. The Lieutenant summons a Sergeant and asks how to recognize Finwë. We tell him that "He's a tall Elf in a blue uniform." The Sergeant calls two other men, the disappear though a doorway. A few moments later, we see them on the far side of the interior gate. Apparently there is a way through. The Guard of the Gate challenges them, but they manage to talk their way through.
Time passes as we wait for the Captain. We ask Tala-a'zahd about the factional fighting we seem to have stepped into the middle of.
"Well, you spoke earlier of bringing factions together. The 5th Temple (the Temple that held Finwe's adopted daughter) and the Temple of the Scroll (the Temple where we met Kalaazahd) have never been in any sort of close agreement. At one level, I think you are correct that you have brought some members of the temples together. Novices from the 5th temple have come to the Temple of the Pale Orchid (the Temple of Healing, where the Grandfather serves). At that level bringing them closer together. Novitiates of the 5th Temple have always served the 5th Temple. By crossing them to the Temple of the Pale Orchid, you have in some sense violated the 5th Temple."
Eir protests, "They sent those novices. We didn't bring them. They sent them themselves. And they will go back."
"Yes, had they not gone back there would have been trouble. There are ways in which this increases the tension."
"They are not totally in control of the people who owe them allegiance?"
"It might be argued that at some point when they rise in importance these sympathies may help. But it will be that much harder for her to rise, since she's been touched by an alien temple."
"But she will also be able to help those in the 5th Temple"
"It is more complex than you had thought. Further those two are decidedly both alienated from a faction, an association, a party that I would call the 'Serpent party'. So the tensions between Orchid, Scroll and Temple and the grand vizier, the palace vizier, etc. are far more emphasized. Time suggests that you are involved in this factioning. The High Priest is of the Serpent Party. To have tension between him and any temple is a serious matter."
Eir looks at Tala-a'zahd probingly, "And as Khazahd was, you are now neutral in these matters?"
"Yes, Khazahd, as a clerk was a neutral as he could be. Kalaazahd is now more allied. It is possible as a clerk to rise within the guild, but I have not decided or declared a course at present."
"But having gotten mixed up with this, you are not likely to be welcome into the Serpent Party."
Tala-a'zahd sighs. "No. Now that the Palace Guard, the most militant portion of the Serpent Party, have moved against the aunt of Tigamon Fijal, the City Guard are now factionalized as well.
"And they were not before?"
"There was a .. from the rising of the Serpent Party and the factionalization, it really came to strength as you were here the first time. Then Captain Jejalene took his role as Capt of the Temple Guard. His rivalry with Nijaldeen started the factinalization within the guard. There have always been factions within the guard, but it has become more pronounced. And you are correct, the 5th temple, and the Pale Orchid called for Jejalene to be Captain of the Temple Guard."
"Where does the Serpent Prince fall in this?"
"He could not disfavor the Serpent Party. That would be unthinkable. He has not obviously favored them, which has made some displeased. Lalimene has been known to speak disfavorably about that . Most of the Serpent Party do not rise to that."
"When we had audience with the Serpent Prince, he gave us Captain Jejalene To help us recover the Captain Finwë's daughter."
"Yes. For someone who had been favored by the Serpent Prince to help foreigners and then go over to the Temple and against the Serpent Party caused quite a stir."
"Did that lessen him in the Serpent Princes favor?"
"The prince has not spoken in this matter."
Before Eir can ask anything further, there's a great deal of shouting outside the inner gate. A young guardsman rattles the gate and calls out something. Tala-a'zahd gestures to us and says, "Come we should hear as much of this as we can."
The Lieutenant comes through at a goodly clip. We follow, without running. Before we can enter, Guards bar us from the room. However, we can still hear the young guardsman tells his story through the doorway. Tala-a'zahd says, "Your Captain was in some sort of battle out in the harbor town. The Captain of the Harbor has sent his guards to restore peace. I'm afraid I didn't hear quite what the guard said, but he may have said that they intend to arrest him."
Why would Finwë have been in a battle?
The Lieutenant strides through the door and asks, "What do you know about the combat without?"
Eir replies, "We know nothing. We have been here with you." She pauses, and then says, "There have been people following us. We don't know who they are."
The Lieutenant calls over his Sergeant and sends him back out. He then calls a second Sergeant and barks a few orders. The Sergeant goes scurrying off. The Lieutenant then speaks sharply to Tala-a'zahd, who tells us that the Lieutenant wants one of us to go with us to find out what has occurred. Without waiting for a reply, Tala-a'zahd replies to the Lieutenant. He then tells us that he said "I told him that none of you speak the language. There is little purpose in taking only one of you. He should take all and your translator, or none."
Eir replies, "Unless he has one of those translation devices."
"You've spoken of these devices before."
"People wearing some talisman. We don't have them. I've seen them on them people from here."
Tala-a'zahd looks uncomfortable, "I hesitate to suggest that."
When the Captain, Aldamir and Rillis accompanied by Lt. Marra and her men get about half way between the two ships, the officer shouts out.
"I believe he's talking to us." Finwë remarks conversationally.
Aldamir replies, "I think you're correct."
Rillis offers no comment.
They stop. Lt. Marra issues an order to her men who quickly regroup and present arms, as if they were an honor guard. She then steps in the direction of the young officer and calls something out to him. He turns and addresses her. She then turns to Finwë, "He wishes to speak with you Captain."
"I had gathered that from the tone of his voice."
Lt. Marra attempts to translate. "I believe he wants to know what happened on the street. I don't speak their language well."
Finwë draws himself up and fluffs his hair. "I shall tell you what happened. My companion and I were viciously attacked." He gestures to the blood spatter across the previously pristine sky blue, "Just look at my garment!"
As he says this, two guardsmen come running down the street to the dock. They're City Guards (we can tell by the uniform). They speak to the Harbor Guard Sergeant, and the Lieutenant. He's clearly not happy about being interrupted as he's interrogating foreigners.
Lt. Marra asks quietly, "Is there some conflict between the various departments of the guard?"
Finwë retorts, "You're asking me? I … We never got to the gate. It was closed. Are you imagining some sort of civil conflict between the guards?"
Lt. Marra observes, "There's certainly some conflict here." The guards are having an increasingly loud argument. Lt. Marra suggests that perhaps they should continue to the Tindome.
Finwë, thinking that he should report the guards should hunt down and arrest his attackers, replies that they should wait here a moment. Lt. Marra, who is catching every 3rd word isn't so certain.
Before they can come to an agreement, the Lieutenant of the Harbor Guard wheels around and demands to know what Finwë knows about the unrest in the city.
Finwë crosses his arms and replies petulantly, "How could I possibly know? The gate is closed."
Lt. Marra translates his words, and the guard groups resume arguing with each other once more.
Lt. Marra mutters sotto voce, "I'm not sure this is good. I think that they're arguing about which one will arrest you."
Finwë considers this. "We could simply leave."
"If you have finished your business in the city."
"Four of my crewmembers are missing. I doubt that I could leave anyway. But it seems to me that if we were to turn and leave, it might cause something to happen instead of them arguing. If I could get to my ship, I could get to my bow, which I'm feeling a distinct lack of, right now."
Lt. Marra hears one of the 2 gold bedecked City Guards says, "They must come with us." The Harbor Lieutenant replies "This is my