In Verse Proportion; Chapter 21, Kondor 179

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 21:  Kondor 179
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Slade 174

Kondor was waiting in Zeke’s room when the guard shift ended.

“Trouble?” Zeke asked.

“Why should there be trouble?”

“Well, unless you’re unusually lonely and wanted to play a hand of poker, I can’t think why you’d be waiting for me in my room.  It’s not like you got lost and couldn’t find your own across the hall.”

There was that.

“Well, I guess I think it’s trouble.  This guy came up to me, introduced himself as Mohammed--”

“What, like the crazy prophet guy who founded that religion?”

“Well, yes, that same name, but I don’t think he’s that guy.”

“O.K.  Go on.”

Kondor recomposed his thoughts and continued.  “He said he wanted me to marry his sister Leah.”

“Leah.  Is that the same Leah who was one of the princesses in the entourage?”

“Yes, apparently that’s her.”

“You lucky dog.  You get a cute and rich wife, and you didn’t even have to make the effort to court her.  Does she have a sister?”

Kondor felt the crooked smile cross his face.  “I don’t see it that way,” he said.  “I’m sure she’s a lovely girl, but I don’t know her, and she doesn’t know me, and worse, she has no idea what it would mean to become the wife of a verser.  I’m not even sure whether she knows her brother is trying to fix her up with anyone, let alone me.”

“Well, if he’s going to fix her up with someone, why shouldn’t it be you?”

“One of two things will happen, eventually.  Either she will get old and die while I stay the same age for decades--“

“Or you’ll die and she’ll go with you into the verse, the way Shella goes with Bob and Vashti goes with Derek.”

“And you go with me, sort of.  Although that remains to be seen.”


“And I don’t think I’d wish being a verser on anyone, particularly without them knowing what it is they’re getting into.”

“You didn’t explain it to me in advance.”

“Well, you were sort of an accident--not that I’m sad you’re here, but the bomb was about to explode, and I instinctively tried to shield you, and you wound up coming with me.  I didn’t really have time to think about it, although for what it’s worth, had you not come with me you probably would be dead.”

“And in hell, I expect, which is supposed to be hotter even than this place.”

Kondor snorted a laugh.  “Yeah, well, I don’t believe in hell, but I don’t know that being dead is better than being in hell.  Besides, you’re not so bad a guy.  You might have made it into heaven.”

Apparently Zeke decided not to address that.

“So, what did you do?  Don’t tell me you said no.  We don’t need enemies around here, right?”

“I didn’t say no.”

“But I gather you didn’t say yes?”

He nodded.  “I said that I would meet her and we would discuss it further.  That means he has to go home and get her and bring her back, so I have probably a week or two to figure out something, depending on which Amirate is theirs.  My luck, they’ll be the southwestern one, which is closest, all the others being north of the capital.”

“So what are you going to say at this meeting?” Zeke asked, and there must have been something in Kondor’s face, because almost immediately Zeke continued, “That’s why you’re waiting for me.  You have no idea what to say.”

Kondor again nodded, slowly, with a grim smile on his face.

“Well, other than that people will think you’re crazy, is there any reason we can’t tell people what it is to be a verser?  I mean, I think Derek had Shella explain it to Vashti before they got married.  If it’s really as bad as you say it is, you should be able to persuade them that she shouldn’t marry you.”

“What do you mean, if it’s really as bad as I say it is?”

“No offense, but hey, I’ve not been in the verse as long as you have.  I spent a few days surviving in the desert, a survival that was made very comfortable by the magical assistance of Shella, and since then I’ve been mostly living in palaces I could not have dreamed of at home.  Sure, there’s no running water, no air conditioning, no refrigeration--a lot of modern conveniences are absent.  But we get fed twice a day and there are servants attending to our needs.  We had to fight a couple battles, but they were kind of fun, a break from the routine.  I took a job mostly because I was bored.  If being in the verse is all that bad, I haven’t really experienced it.”

It suddenly occurred to Kondor to wonder about the status of the servants.  This was medieval Arabia; were they slaves?  But it also occurred to him that Zeke was right; his experience to this point was not really that terrible.  In fact, Kondor’s own experience, while it had its rough spots, was generally pretty good--not worse than it would have been had he stayed in the army at home.  Still--

“You’ve heard stories of my experiences, fighting against disgusting monsters, battling pirates, being killed in explosions.  I probably haven’t mentioned the aspect that I can’t go home again, can’t ever see my parents or family or friends.  The life I had expected has been taken away and can’t be recovered.”

“Hey, I got news for you.  That happens to everyone, one way or another.  Family dies, friends move away, plans fall through and you wind up doing something entirely different from what you expected.  Nobody ever gets the life they expected, or at least if anybody ever does I never met him.  So what?  You’ve got a different life.  She might like a different life.  After all, what has she got to look forward to?  If she doesn’t marry you, she’ll marry one of the sons of the nobles and laze about in a mansion somewhere with nothing to do but have children for servants to raise and try not to get fat and ugly eating rich food and not exercising.  The only way she’ll have the excitement she had defending the princess would be if her castle was attacked and overrun, and I don’t think she would enjoy that.  But maybe you can make it sound worse than it is, and persuade her and her brother that this is not the life for her.  I’d give her the choice.  Explain it to her.”

Again Kondor nodded.  It made some sense.  They’d just need a private place, and probably he could get the Amir to arrange a private dinner for the four of them.  At least now he knew what to say.

Next chapter:  Chapter 22:  Slade 175
Table of Contents

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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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