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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 78: Beam 20
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 77: Hastings 157
On the return journey Beam packed as many of the gems as he could carry, and had his companions do the same. Bron and Dawn used the towels he had given them to wrap large batches; he noticed that Bob could only carry a couple bunches. He gave serious thought to disposing of some of his cigarettes to make more room, but decided that at least for the foreseeable future these were irreplaceable, so they were thus priceless, worth more than the gems.
He realized as he walked that one of the efriit was walking alongside him.
“You want something?” he asked.
“I wanted to say how very reasonable you’ve been about this. You are not at all like I would have expected humans to be.”
“Yeah, well, we can be unreasonable. I figure it’s not really my business. You’re not really going to make them happy, but no one else would have either, so they’re no worse off for having married you. The King might see it different, but I’m not the king, and my job was to find out what was happening, and I did.”
“So, what’s your name.”
Beam opened his mouth, and closed it again, then tried again. “I seem to recall hearing somewhere that names give you power over others.”
The efriit laughed. “Do you believe everything you hear in fairy tales?”
“Yeah, that does sound a bit silly, doesn’t it? On the other hand, an awful lot of what has happened to me in the past few hours seems very like a fairy tale come to life, so I can’t really discount it too readily.”
The efriit nodded. “I suppose that’s reasonable. Well, my name is Cathcart, and these are Dicalus and Echevar.”
Beam nodded, and then introduced himself, extending a hand to shake. “Beam. James Beam. Best of luck to you.”
The white-haired man was not the last to reach the top of the stairs; Dawn stayed behind him, guarding the rear all the way, despite Cathcart’s assurances that there was no one else down there but two minor efriit hirelings named Abishaw and Babbareth; Beam did not mention having met them. It was a long climb, harder going up than it had been coming down. The one called Dicalus offered to help, and while he didn’t like the idea of accepting help he was more concerned not to offend these legendary elemental spirits, and internally at least he was grateful. “Thanks,” he said when they reached the top and he again was catching his breath.
“Pleased to have assisted,” the efriit prince replied.
He knew the king was not going to be happy with the news about his daughters, and in fact he did not go with them for the introductions, leaving them and their new grooms to face the wrath without him. His team was already packed, and they headed out of the city back toward the forge and The Bucket almost immediately, stopping overnight at a different inn whose keeper was pleased to accept one of Beam’s sapphires as payment in full for their room and board for the night.
After that, things got quiet for a while. Beam spent less time at the Bucket and more time at the forge, learning his ironmongering skills. He even hired a young man to assist with the cooking, which meant doing the cooking more often than not while Beam was otherwise engaged. They still drank there every night. Trade was up a bit, as peasants in the area gradually realized that no one was bothering them for tax money so they had extra coin to spend on relaxation. Every once in a while a traveler brought news, but it was rarely anything of interest. Thus far the efriit hadn’t killed the king or his daughters, or if they had that fact hadn’t leaked to the grapevine, so Beam figured things were going to continue like this for some time, and he could live with that.
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 #300: Versers Challenged. 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: