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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 65: Kondor 147
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 64: Brown 170
For the next couple days dinner conversation was focused on tales of their exploits against the bandits. Slade told his version three or four times that Kondor heard, and he, Zeke, and Derek each told their own stories, which of course were shorter since they arrived on the scene late. Even Shella was invited to give her story, which mostly confirmed Slade’s.
Slade and Shella had a habit of missing breakfast, but on the third morning the Caliph approached Kondor and asked that he convey a message to “Lord Slade” that “The Caliph would very much appreciate his presence, along with his companions, in the throne room an hour after dinner today for a brief ceremony of thanks and recognition.” Kondor said he would pass the word as soon as he saw Slade.
He informed Zeke and Derek on their way back to their rooms, and caught Slade just starting his day to inform him. Over dinner that afternoon he overheard Slade asking the Caliph what it was about, but getting the same somewhat vague answer about “a brief ceremony of thanks and recognition.” Slade said it wasn’t at all necessary, and the Caliph responded that if it were necessary it would not be gracious.
As they retired from dinner, Slade told everyone to look sharp. Zeke put on his dress uniform, Kondor decided to don clean desert fatigues. He noticed that Shella wore the dress she wore for the first meeting with the Caliph, and thought that even with magic she couldn’t just produce a new outfit at need. Slade had polished his leathers, and only Derek was wearing the same outfit he usually wore, the purportedly magic one that changed size when he did.
As they entered the throne room, someone near the door barked an order in some language, and what was apparently an honor guard snapped to attention. Slade hesitated at the door, but the Caliph spoke.
“Sir Robert Elvis Lord Slade, approach; Lady Shella, Doctor Joseph Kondor, Lieutenant Ezekiel Smith, Derek Brown, approach.”
They did. Slade stopped where the audience ended, Shella standing on his left. Kondor decided to stand at attention, and saw Zeke do the same, the two of them flanking the couple. Derek milled around for a moment, trying to figure out where he should be, and finally placed himself alongside Kondor.
“Welcome, friends and allies. You have aided us in need, demonstrating skill and courage on our behalf and the behalf of our caliphate. We would recognize our debt to you with these small trinkets,” and a man alongside him on the dais produced a set of gold chains. Together the two of them descended to the floor, and stepped over to Derek.
Taking one of the chains, the Caliph placed it over Derek’s head, and said, “Derek Brown, we are honored by your kindness to us, and so seek to thank and honor you with this small token.”
The pair then walked to the other end of the line, and repeated much the same ritual for Zeke, then came back to Kondor, then stepped to Shella. Finally he stood in front of Slade, and Kondor noticed that Slade’s chain was different, sporting a large medallion of some sort.
“Sir Robert Elvis Lord Slade, we are honored by your kindness to us, and so seek to thank and honor you with this small token, and by naming you Royal Advisor to the Caliphate of the Twin Rivers, if you will accept this honor.”
Kondor wondered what was involved in such an appointment, but thought it not the time to ask, and Slade didn’t seem to be worried about it. Slade said, “I am honored, and will do my best to advise wisely.”
With that, the Caliph placed the chain with the medallion over Slade’s head, the medallion hanging in front.
“I am grateful,” the Caliph concluded, and turned back to the dais. He then addressed the room.
“In recognition of the good these five people have done for us, tomorrow is officially declared a feast day in the city. Thank you for coming.” He then turned and exited the room accompanied by his assistant.
With that, people started heading for the doors. Slade turned to Kondor.
“Well, that was a bit of a surprise,” he said.
“Indeed. Congratulations on your appointment.”
“Yeah, thanks. I’m sure the title will fit somewhere. ‘Sir Robert Elvis Lord Slade, Lord of Slade Manor, Friend and Ally of the Djinn and of the Caliph of the West Wind, Royal Advisor to the Twin Rivers Caliphate.’ Yeah, that works. What do you think?”
“I think no one will have any idea what you’re talking about,” Kondor said, “but it does sound impressive when you say it.”
“It does, doesn’t it? I guess they didn’t really give much to you. You need another gold chain like you need more emeralds.”
“Ah, but it’s the thought that counts, I think. Also, I think the chains are engraved, but I don’t read Farsi so I have no idea what they say.”
“It’s Arabic,” Derek said. “It says something like, ‘In appreciation for services graciously rendered to the Twin Rivers Caliphate,’ I think.”
“Well, that’s more than just a gold chain,” Kondor said.
“Hey,” Zeke said, “I’m just glad to have the gold chain. It’s my first.”
“Mine, too,” Derek said.
“I’ll bet you didn’t expect you’d be hanging around with such impoverished people,” Kondor joked to Slade, who laughed.
“Yeah, well, I kind of went from rags to riches overnight, and I did it the old-fashioned way: I freed a djinni from a bottle and made a wish.”
Kondor laughed. “That’s probably a lot easier than stealing it from a sinking pirate ship,” he said.
“Well, whatever works. Are you up for a bit of weapons practice in the courtyard before we retire?”
“I’m game,” Kondor said.
“Could I get in on that?” Zeke asked. “They didn’t teach us much about primitive weapons in basic, and I somehow think it would be a useful thing to learn.”
“O.K. with me,” Kondor said. “Slade?”
“Sure, why not? I can use the practice.”
They departed for their rooms to get their weapons, then headed to the courtyard.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. 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: