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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 34: Slade 141
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 33: Kondor 142
“I dare say I shall never tire of hearing that story,” the Caliph said as Slade once more finished telling about releasing the djinni from the bottle, “although I admit I do like the one in which you do battle with the giant snake. Excuse me one moment.”
Slade noticed that the Master at Arms, who had introduced them now several weeks ago, was standing patiently near the edge of the dais, and looking grim. The Caliph had apparently also noticed this.
“Approach, Master at Arms,” he said, and the man stepped up on the dais and came over.
Slade tried not to overhear too much of the conversation, which was carried in whispered tones, but gathered that there had been some kind of battle. The Caliph rose to his feet, and Slade also rose. “Problem?” Slade asked.
“I must beg your pardon, and take my leave of you. It seems that there is a matter needing my attention.”
“I certainly understand, Your Potency. Might I be of some assistance?”
The Caliph seemed to freeze in mid turn, as if surprised by the offer.
“Well, it is a military matter; I would not presume to ask you to fight my battles for me.”
“Nonsense. Fighting is what I do, and if I can’t fight for you, how can I expect to repay your hospitality? My wife and I would love to help as we can, and I’m sure I can count of Joe and Derek as well. Would you like to tell us the situation here, or should we follow you to some place a bit less public?”
There was a moment of uncertainty on the Caliph’s face, but it was shaken off by a nod. “Indeed. I will need to go hear the report of the situation, but you finish your dinner and then the Master at Arms will bring you to me to discuss the problem. If you can help, I would be indebted.”
“Hey, what are friends for? I’ll let them know.”
Once more the Caliph nodded, as he turned and left the dais and the dining room. Slade turned his attention to the others. “Finish up,” he said. “Our host has a problem and I said we’d help. I don’t know the details, but he described it as a military problem, so I expect we’re going to get a bit of exercise. He’s gone to find out exactly what’s happening, and then he’s going to send for us to give us the details.” With that, he finished the rest of a piece of chicken, washed his fingers in the water bowl, downed the rest of his beer in three gulps, and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He noticed that Derek set his plate to the side, Joe downed a slice of orange, and Zeke shoved some meat into a bit of bread to take with him. They were ready.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #280: Versers Reveal. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: