keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 4: Slade 155
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 3: Takano 1
“Tell me again about how you rescued my daughter.”
Sir Robert Elvis Slade, Lord of Slade Manor, Friend and Ally of the Djinn and of the Caliph of the West Wind, still found it slightly embarrassing when his host, the Caliph of the Twin River Valley, asked for this particular story. It had been a team effort, and the real hero was undoubtedly Derek, who took out most of the key guards and flew the Calipha to safety when they were trapped. Slade had mostly organized the team and pointed them in the right direction. A couple months ago the Caliph’s favorite story was always the one telling how Slade had released a djinn lord from a bottle, and he would often ask about the time that same djinn lord called on him to lead a rescue mission to save a wrongly-imprisoned priest. Slade had many other stories, including one in which he led the team against bandit raiders in the eastern wilderness not far from here. However, since Calipha Rathi had been kidnapped and Slade and his companions had worked out who had done it, why, and where she was being held, and then turned the kidnappers’ insider against them to enter the manor where she was held and extract her in a daring raid, that was the story her father wanted to hear.
“Well, it didn’t all go to plan, but we had contingencies, and we made it work. It began mostly because Derek was bothered by the fact that the ambushers knew she and her entourage would be not merely in the market but on that particular street that morning.” He went on to tell the story while eating the food of the daily afternoon feast they called dinner, washing it down with warm beer.
He and his wife, the Lady Shella, were regarded the leaders of the group of versers--people who due to scriff infection traveled from universe to universe--mostly because of his connection to the djinn. He gathered that their approach had been announced to the Caliph’s viziers by the djinn, although no one had ever said so. When they arrived they were accompanied by the aforementioned boy Derek Jacob Brown, whose most remarkable of many extraordinary abilities was his ability to transform into a fifteen-inch-tall winged sprite; and by a long-time verser friend, now officially Doctor and Captain Joseph Wade Kondor. Joe introduced them to Lieutenant Ezekiel Smith, a friend he picked up on his travels. Since then they had been in essence honored guests in the palace, but had made themselves useful successfully enough that they had each been given chains marking them heroes of the caliphate, and Slade himself had been appointed Advisor. For the lanky blonde blue-eyed Slade, former car mechanic self-identified as a warrior of Odin preparing for Ragnorak, making himself useful meant finding battles that needed to be fought, and winning them. He eagerly anticipated finding the next one.
Of course, he reminded himself, part of the glory of battle is telling the tales, and the tales that are most requested are, in the minds of the listeners, the most glorious. What would not be glorious about the rescue of a princess, to the ears of her father? It was a good story, and spoke well of him, even if he himself did not engage a single foe in single combat. He had to admit it was well done, and most of it had been his plan under his leadership, with suggestions from his team. It was worth retelling.
He retold it to the end, then excused himself to refill his beer.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #319: Quiet Worlds. 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: