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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 68: Kondor 113
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Previous chapter: Chapter 67: Slade 111
Kondor wondered what Slade was thinking. It seemed to him that the ruse was pretty much finished. Slade might legitimately hold those titles he recited, but they were titles from another universe, and they would have no meaning here. Yet everyone waited patiently, and in a few minutes Shella returned with the small jeweled casket in her arms.
The jeweled overlay on the chest was itself an impressive sight, and it clearly had an impression on the crowd. Slade addressed his wife.
“Love, would you kindly take the chest over to General Vargas, and open it for him?”
“General, I’m having her bring it to you first, so that you can see that there is nothing dangerous in it before I rummage through it. There is in fact a jeweled dagger in the batch, and I would certainly understand if you wanted to hold that for safety while I have the chest. Of course, you’ve been very trusting, given that I have a much better balanced and deadlier dagger on my belt, but propriety is propriety, and it would be inappropriate for someone to bring me a weapon particularly if it were not part of the evidence.”
As he was saying this, the chest was opened in front of the panel, and it was obvious that the contents were more impressive than the exterior.
“That’s fine, Sir Robert,” the general said. “We accept you as a gentleman of honor. As long as you’re not planning to threaten anyone with the dagger or hold it in a threatening manner, I see no reason why you shouldn’t be permitted to have it.”
There was something remarkably civilized about that attitude, Kondor mused. He doubted whether Colonel Mlambo would have allowed Slade to carry anything he recognized as a dangerous weapon to a hearing of this sort.
The dagger must have been on top, because Slade removed it immediately and set it on the table beside him. Several other pieces followed, the most striking of which was a necklace with an emerald the size of a golf ball. Kondor had such pieces himself, from his oceanic trade voyages, but it was still impressive. Slade was talking while he did this.
“It’s obvious that I’m a wealthy man,” he said. “I don’t know how significant that is, in terms of how many wealthy men there are who are not nobles, or indeed how many nobles have fallen on hard times, but I’ve managed to hold on to a fair amount of the family treasure despite--ah, there it is.” He withdrew a considerably less impressive piece, a simple carved gold ring. “This is my signet. Not much to see, really, but you can see the ‘S’ carved on it, identifying Slade Manor and of course my family name. Oh, and this--“
Slade raised a rather plain looking bottle. “According to tradition, it was from this very bottle that the House of Slade, accompanied by the Baron of Corlander and his relatives, released the Djinn Lord, the Caliph of the West Wind, a prince among the elemental spirits of the air, and so received our lands and titles as a gesture of gratitude.” He held the bottle aloft, and all eyes watched it, an ancient relic certainly, and a not unimpressive one. And as foolishly mythological as it was, it was certainly a clever and interesting story, and the prop gave it a sense of credibility it would not otherwise have had.
“I’m told his name was Majdi,” Slade finished less dramatically.
At that moment a gust of wind flapped the tents loudly and caused the fires to blaze. Kondor smiled at the fortuitous timing. Slade often seemed to have what Kondor did not like to call ‘luck’, but had to admit was a fortuitous chance turning of events in his favor. It was evident that at least half of those present at least half believed that there might be some sort of supernatural being controlling the winds who had befriended Slade. He wondered what would break the enchantment and bring these people back to their senses.
The general cleared his throat. “Captain, do you have any further questions?”
The captain himself seemed stunned by Slade’s defense. “Not,” he began, and shook himself. “Not at this time, general. I--I would like to keep the formal inquiry open pending additional investigation.”
The general looked at him for a moment, then turned his attention to Slade. “Sir Robert, do you object?”
Object, Kondor thought, wishing that he could push the thought into Slade’s mind. They’re giving you the chance to end this now. Object. But Slade did not seem to understand what was happening.
“Uh--no, sir, I don’t see any reason to object to that.”
Of course, Slade wouldn’t see it. He wasn’t accustomed to military protocols and procedures, never mind legal ones. The general paused; that probably was not the answer he expected. “Very well,” he said. “The inquiry will remain open for thirty days, at which time parties are requested to appear again to present additional evidence. Dismissed.”
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 #243: Verser Redirects. 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: