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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 7: Kondor 174
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Previous chapter: Brown 197
Kondor and Zeke sat on the wall until the shadows grew long. Late in the afternoon one of the servants brought a tray of dinner, with more oranges for Kondor and more beer for Zeke, and after they had eaten they took turns going to the latrine. Nothing more happened, and they retired to the castle and reported their events to the castellan.
The next morning the amir’s army returned victorious from the north. They had ambushed the attackers in the mountains, and killed or vanquished all of them with few casualties to themselves. It was cause for celebration, and couriers were dispatched to the Caliph and to nearby amirates telling of the attack.
Kondor wondered how differently it might have gone had Zeke not managed to eliminate the other versers and get them back to the Southern River Bend in time to raise the alarm. However, there was not much point in contemplating what might have been.
It was not exactly a surprise when on the fourth day after the battle a ceremony was held, and he and Zeke, along with a few of the soldiers and officers who fought the northern battle, were honored as Heroes of the Amirate of the Southern River Bend. This time the chains were silver, and although Kondor could not read the inscription, it was similar enough to that on their gold chains marking them as heroes of the Caliphate that he could guess what it said. He thanked their host, and modestly downplayed the importance of their role, although he knew that it was probably critical to the entire war.
That evening he pondered what to do. Obviously they were welcome here; they could probably impose on their host for decades without complaint, as they were otherwise essentially free defenders of the city. They could similarly return to the Caliph’s palace--twice honored heroes of the Caliphate and honored heroes of the Amirate. In the back of his mind he realized that they wouldn’t need to take a boat upstream (nor indeed walk through the mountains) because Zeke had demonstrated that he could, sort of, teleport them there, but he still thought in terms of traveling the natural way. They would be welcome there. Indeed, they would probably be welcome at any of the Amirates, as their fame as defenders spread. Yet Kondor couldn’t help feeling that they were imposing, and he didn’t like to impose. He wished he could find something they could do that would make him feel like he wasn’t freeloading. He had always worked for his money--well, no; well, maybe, it depends on whether you can count boarding and sinking an attacking pirate ship and stuffing his clothes full of gems and jewelry “work”--but in general, he always felt uncomfortable with any suggestion that he wasn’t earning his keep. He wondered if that was a racial thing, that the stereotype of indolent black men had impacted him enough that he wanted to avoid even the appearance of it. After all, it didn’t seem to bother Zeke.
There was a sense in which they had earned their keep. They had probably saved the city; to be afforded the comforts of the palace might be thought small compensation. Still, he was not entirely comfortable being an extended guest.
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 #432: Whole New 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: