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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 54: Kondor 190
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 185
Kondor and Leah managed to get to the dining hall, dried and in their thobes, while there was still some food. The servers paid special attention to them, seating them with the Caliph on the dais and bringing them plates of food, wine for her and oranges for him. Zeke came over to join them.
“I trust,” the Caliph said, “that everything has been satisfactory?”
“Oh, yes,” Kondor answered. “Everything has been--wonderful,” he said as he smiled at Leah.
He thought the Caliph blushed. “I meant, the accommodations.”
“Absolutely,” Kondor said. “I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.”
“Excellent. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I should attend to affairs of state.”
“Nothing pressing, I hope?”
“No, the usual. Time to hold court.”
“Well, our thanks for your always superb hospitality.”
The Caliph nodded and departed. Once he was off the dais, Zeke spoke.
“Well, I see you survived. I was worried about you when you weren’t at breakfast. Old man like you, thought you might have had a heart attack overnight.”
“What?” Leah exclaimed.
“He’s teasing us,” Kondor said. “I’d bet I’m in better shape than you,” he added.
“What does he mean, old man?” asked Leah.
“I’ll bet he can’t even remember how many lives he’s lived, let alone how old he is.”
“O.K., so I was about twenty when I died the first time, and then I was in that world with the orange grass and the glass city,” he began counting on his fingers, “for not more than a few hours. I spent a couple years on the Mary Piper in space, so make it twenty-three, and then Sherwood Forest, about a dozen years. It’s not really important to count years when you don’t age. Let’s see--from there it was the Parakeet--no, first it was the quest for the vorgo, which was only a few weeks, then the Parakeet Valley, something near a year. How much is that?”
“I’m not helping,” Zeke said.
“Right, we’re up to about thirty-five years and six lives. I was then on the sailing ship Mary Piper, again maybe three years, maybe four, so call it thirty-nine. I was then back in the vorgo world, where I got my degree in gravitic engineering, call that two years, makes forty-one. I spent again probably a bit less than a year on Terranova Habitat, forty-two, and then Slade and I were together for perhaps half a year in the race war world. I met Zeke next at Fort Porthos, half a year there maybe, so I was forty-three when we arrived here. How long have we been here? I’d wager it’s near two years, makes me forty-five, and that’s,” he checked his fingers, “a dozen worlds.”
“See. You’re more than twice my age.”
“Well, maybe--but I’m not as old as Lauren, by a longshot. She once spent a century alone on a tropical island.”
“An’ she doesn’t look a day over thirty-five,” Zeke opined. Kondor laughed.
“No, that she doesn’t,” he agreed, and stuffed food in his mouth.
“Eat,” Leah said. “You’re going to want your strength,” and she grabbed one of his oranges for herself. This time it was Zeke who blushed, and laughed loudly. Leah just smirked at him.
“Maybe I should marry a princess,” Zeke suggested. “So, your highness, which of your cousins might be interested in me?”
“In you, Zeke?” she said. “Maybe you should ask one of the serving girls.” The serious look on her face broke to a grin.
He smiled. “O.K., you got me,” he said. “Very funny. Seriously, though?”
“Well, most of them were here yesterday,” she said. “I suspect I’ll see at least some of them tomorrow, maybe at breakfast or at dinner, before they return home. But I have no idea what’s happening with any of them.”
“Well, it was just a thought,” he said, unconvincingly. “Wouldn’t complain, though, if you put in a good word for me?”
She smiled. “I’ll see what I can do.”
The silence then grew a bit awkward, and after a moment Zeke stood. “Well,” he said, “I ate, I should go, leave you two love birds alone.”
Kondor did not object.
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 #440: Changing 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: