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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 32: Kondor 52
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 31: Hastings 54
Kondor didn't disembark in New Haven; he told his crewmates that he didn't wish to see the old sites and get homesick, but it was actually because he had no clue where anything in town might be and preferred not to let it show. He didn't disembark at Emerald, either, but he stood by the rail and watched as security frightened away the local cannibals and loaded several crates of the precious stone onto the ship. On the other Mary Piper, emerald had been a radioactive mineral which provided cheap clean energy to the cities of the universe; here it was a gemstone, a beautiful bauble that would be worth more than its weight in gold in many worlds.
He asked Captain John about trading some of his Sardic bank drafts and credit letters for the gems. Even uncut and unpolished, they were precious.
The captain had a lot of questions and some advice. Why did he want emeralds, and why uncut? He tried to find an alternate explanation which seemed probable.
"From time to time we see ships flying flags unknown to us. There are places we've never been, places where they've never heard of Sardic, probably don't speak our language, and have their own customs. If we were blown off course and shipwrecked, would you rather walk into town with drafts from the Bank of Sardic or a chest of emeralds?"
That made sense to the captain, without going into the possibility Kondor faced of landing in another world altogether. The diktar was a gold coin. He couldn't possibly carry enough gold coins for the value of his money, and had only a small (and heavy) sack full. He could buy emeralds cut and polished in Durnmist; but a good part of the price there was the cost of bringing them from Emerald. Even if he wanted them cut and polished, it made more sense to buy them raw and pay someone to pretty them back in Sardic.
The captain pointed out that money wasn't actually worth much in Emerald; food was the most valuable commodity here, and tools were also in demand. Kondor's best bet would be to wait for the next run, buy food in New Haven and trade it for emeralds on arriving here. Part of the gamble, of course, was knowing what food would keep that long; the record crossing of the Syndic Sea (the Lesser Syndic between New Haven and Emerald) was five days, but a month was closer to the norm, and it had sometimes taken two months or more when things went wrong. If you could get fresh fruits and vegetables through, that was worth quite a bit; the ship preferred to carry foods with a longer shelf life rather than gamble on a quick trip.
It was difficult to explain why he thought it necessary to get the emeralds sooner rather than later. His reason was that if he was killed before he got back here, he wanted to have the emeralds to take with him. That would make no sense to anyone here. In the end, he decided to take the chance and try to make it around again.
So they pulled out of Emerald to cross the Greater Syndic, the Syndic Ocean, bound for Durnmist.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #86: Novel Conflicts. 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: