keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 51: Slade 162
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 50: Brown 188
The Caliph’s call pulled Slade from muddled thoughts.
“Um--yeah--I mean, yes your Potency.”
“You seemed lost in dark thoughts. Are you worried?”
Slade straightened himself and cleared his mind and his throat before continuing.
“Yes, Potency, I am worried. The problem is, I don’t know whether I should be, and I have nothing solid on which to base these worries, so I didn’t want to bother you with baseless worries.”
The Caliph nodded. “Understandable. However, as we are simply enjoying dinner, and your enjoyment seems hampered by your worries, perhaps you can tell us about them informally, and we’ll accept that they aren’t intended as relevant to strategic advice.” He smiled; Slade smiled back. “So?”
“Well, it’s a long story. It starts with the fact that these versers apparently shot Derek, and then went to the castle in the eastern mountains, where they presently are staying as guests. We don’t know whether they were guests there before they shot Derek or simply fled that way to escape the Amirate and found hospitality there; we don’t know whether the Lord there knows that they shot Derek.”
He shifted his seat. “What we do know is that not long after they arrived there someone visited Scheherazade on behalf of that eastern lord. That could be entirely unrelated. After all, since the betrothal of Calipha Rathi to Amahl, she’s probably become the most politically desirable bride in the region.”
“Because,” the Caliph deduced, “whoever marries her becomes de facto Amir of the Eastern River Valley.”
“Yes, but also his sons become nephews of the next Caliph, probably the closest relatives you’re going to have for a while.”
The Caliph scrunched his face. “I had not thought of that,” he said. “This worries you?”
“It was perhaps unavoidable, and your Potency has taken veto power over any proposed marriage, so it’s not too much of a worry. No, I think that there’s an obvious and innocent reason for our eastern lord to be interested in Sch’hery, and that’s why the fact that he sent someone there is not proof of anything. It’s just that after that guy left, another guy went to visit Vashti’s family. It’s entirely plausible that they learned of the deaths of Derek and Vashti from Sch’hery, and sent condolences by way of another ambassador, so again it means nothing.”
“So why are you worried?”
“Because there are so many other possibilities. The eastern guy might be trying to form alliances against you. He might be surveying the weaknesses of your allies and planning an attack, looking for a weak point, studying defenses. It is possible that your eastern neighbor is preparing for war, and hoping to use his versers in the effort. If so, we’ll stand with you, of course; but it would be nice to know more about them and what they can do and what they’re planning.”
More about them. That would be the thing. When he talks to Lauren tonight he’ll have to suggest that they ask about those other versers.
He’s also going to have to see about setting up a meeting with them. It could all be misunderstandings compounding themselves. Best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, someone somewhere once said. Yes, that’s what they needed to do.
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 #338: Verser Missteps. 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: