The seagulls whirled overhead and their cries filled the morning as Kesél made his way across the Péngefîrkant, the market square of Chélemby city. It was early morning, and the stall holders were setting up for the day's trading. Clouds scudded overhead, and a cool breeze blew in from the harbour, bringing the smells and sounds of the docks.
He carried a small packet under his arm, which he had picked up at the Stílighus, or trades hall, just moments before. He knew his captain was eagerly awaiting its contents, so he didn't delay in the markets. Instead he quickly crossed the market square, and headed down the small Strand Alley to the docks. He wended his way along the Visk gâdè (Fish Street), avoiding the crates of fresh fish being unloaded for the day's trading. He nodded to the traders of House Wésen as he passed their concession house, and came to dock where the Fûren, his master's ship was tied up.
He paused for a moment, inspecting her. He was proud of this vessel, having been her mate for nearly seven years. He saw nothing untoward, and made his way up the gangplank. He passed Másil, the leading deckhand on duty that watch. Másil was a grizzled old salt, with decades of sea voyages under his belt. The two simply nodded to each other as Kesél passed.
Making his way to the stern of the dak, he knocked on the captain's cabin door.
"Enter", came the curt response.
Kesél stepped through the door, and into the captain's stateroom. It was well appointed, if compact. Three people were seated around the captain's table.
His captain, Márden al Telégah, was seated opposite. Kesél had served Márden since he took possession of the Fûren nearly five years ago, and he greatly respected the master of the ship. To Márden's left was Tára al Amánes, the ship's Tríerzi pilot, and a remarkably good looking woman to boot. She had joined the ship two years ago, at the Shôrkýnì port of Kâremus in Álagon.
The third member of the group was one of the captain's trading partners in Chélemby, Kálios al Lesédha. Kesél understood he was a native of some town on the island of Hârn, but spent a lot of time traveling, and had a townhouse in Chélemby city. Kesél had always found him rather odd. He was tall, of dark complexion, and his gaze was always uncomfortable, or so Kesél though.
The First Mate was, therefore, somewhat relieved that Kálios rose as he entered, and bid his farewells to the captain.
"Thank you, Captain Telégah. It has been a pleasure to discuss business with you as always", said the trader. "I look forward to hearing further on these matters", he added.
Tára and the merchant exchanged smiles, and Kálios only nodded briefly to Kesél as he left, closing the cabin door behind him. Kesél couldn't restrain a slight grimace as the trader passed by him.
As he sat down to join the captain and pilot, Tára laughed.
"You don't like him much, do you?", said the pilot.
Kesél ignored her. "Captain, the package you were expecting was waiting at the trade hall".
Kesél handed over the small parcel, which was wrapped in leather, and carefully tied and sealed in red wax with a crest of a fox.
"Another letter from your friend?", queried Tára.
"Unless someone has forged his seal, yes", said Márden as he untied the package.
Within was a folded parchment, which Márden spread out on the table before him. He glanced down at the contents, then looked up at his two companions.
"Shall I read it?", he grinned.
Tára laughed again. "Of course, Captain. We always find your friend's news most interesting".
Márden picked up the letter, and began to read:
Òdelýn Keep, Chómu, Shôrkýnè; 20th day of Azúra, Túzyn Reckoning 718
My dear Márden
I trust, as ever, that this letter finds you well.
Márden looked up. "Took only a month to reach Chélemby this time". He continued.
This summer has been so eventful, I'm afraid I've had little time to write earlier, but I'm sure you will find the news I have to share of great interest.
But first let me cover those issues where matters have changed little. I regret to say there is no further progress on a resolution of the issue of the Writ of Attainder against your clan and yourself. While the Committee of the Parliament issued a preliminary finding that the Writ was invalid outside of Kolârè, due to the usual political maneuvering this was still not confirmed at the last session of the Parliament. However it is clear that most counties outside of the Duchy of Kolârè consider the Writ invalid. We shall continue to do what we can to finally resolve these issues.
This year's session of Parliament, which I attended with my father, the Baron, was particularly eventful. The fallout of the Misýr Affair last year continued. As I informed you last year, the Lord Chancellor, Sir Kálstir al Valdínoren, resigned in the wake of the trial and execution of the Lord Advocate. This year the King finally appointed a replacement Lord Chancellor, Lord Ténesal Surédara, Count of Malpýnia. As I have recounted previously, Lord Ténesal has a dislike of the Duchess, but he is, as ever, focused on the interests of Malpýnia and his house first and foremost. The fate of Sir Dârba is likely to make his successor as Lord Advocate, when they are appointed, considerably more circumspect, which may make further decisive action on the Writ difficult, I'm afraid.
Tára looked slightly confused. "Sir Dârba Misýr, he was the Lord Advocate who sought to prosecute the Duke of Álagon for treason, but ended up tried and executed himself? Is that correct?"
Márden nodded. "He foolishly tried to take on the Duke, a traditional enemy of his clan, using the powers of his office, but clearly failed quite spectacularly. He not only lost his life, but his clan was shamed, and the Lord Chancellor, Sir Kálstir, was also dragged into the affair. Sir Kálstir was faulted for failing to properly oversee the Lord Advocate's investigation; and had to resign. He was, by all accounts, an otherwise highly competent Chancellor, and a loss to the realm".
"Thank you", said Tára. "I continue to find the politics of Shôrkýnè almost impenetrably complex, not having been born into them".
"That's not really something you should regret in the least", Márden said with quite some feeling. "Shall I go on?", he asked.
Tára nodded, and Márden began reading once more.
Still, and now I can turn to news from Kolârè, there are other developments which may well please you. As you know, Baron Járè Indáal of Emílùme, whose father swore an oath regarding the 'abominable' practices of your family and house, was married to the Duchess Siren Bidélès three years ago. My father and I suspect that this was part of the 'arrangement' between the Duchess and clan Indáal in return for their support of her actions against your clan.
This summer the Duchess gave birth to twin sons, the second set of twins she has had with Baron Indáal. But this event seems to have provided her with little joy. It appears, from what we can gather from gossip at the Duchess' court, that she and her consort have had a falling out. She has appointed him Élgâr of the county of Chómu, but from what we hear, he does not consider this a reward but rather an exile. Apparently he detests Hidési Castle, and considers all of us in Chómu to be 'country bumpkins'. We have yet to have the 'pleasure' of visiting him at Hidési, but we have heard from a number of sources that Járè is furious at his situation.
This is, of course, good news for our clan, and potentially for yourself. This break between the Duchess and clan Indáal, if confirmed, would further undermine the coalition she put together to pull down your house. A major barrier, however, is that the barony of Teléged continues to be held 'in trust' by the Church of Laráni pending the resolution of the dispute concerning the Writ of Attainder. As I have previously indicated, LB has suggested that the church is likely to spin out the resolution of this issue indefinitely, as they have no interest in handing over the barony and its revenues to anyone.
Tára interrupted Márden. "'LB'? Who is that again?", she queried.
"Lord Bárgas Târin. Lord Privy Seal of Shôrkýnè. Tárenis doesn't like to mention him explicitly", Márden indicated. "From what I've heard of the man, that seems like a wise approach".
I'm afraid, my friend, that with His Grace Gatún Isâra occupying the Holy Laránian Primacy of Shôrkýnè, we can expect little movement on this matter. The revenues from your clan's barony were a significant assistance in his rise from the Bishopric of Kolârè to the Primacy, and he maintains a personal interest there, more's the pity.
I'm sorry I can't report more definitive news, my friend. We shall, as always, continue to do what we can to clear your name, but progress is undeniably slow. Still, with further splits in the Duchess' camp, we can but to keep trying.
My father has been well this summer, but last winter was hard on him, and mother is concerned. I often wish we could talk about these issues, but I appreciate that prudence dictates you keep your distance from Kolârè and Chómu until matters are resolved. I still recall our last summer together, and pray that one day, we will once again enjoy, as we once did, the pleasures of companionship, the hunt and feast.
In the meantime, I await your next letter, and news of your exploits.
I am, as ever, your devoted friend,
Tárenis al Haráste, neÉsuâr of Òdelýn.
Márden sat back, and gently laid the parchment on the table.
"He misses you, captain", said Tára gently.
"Aye. He does", Márden agreed.
There was a silence for some moments.
Kesél coughed uncomfortably. "Captain? What does this mean?"
Márden glanced at him.
"I mean... Sir, does this mean you will be returning to Shôrkýnè?"
Márden frowned, then smiled.
"Don't worry, Kesél. I'm not going to abandon you; or Tára", he said, smiling at the pilot.
"Oh", was all Kesél could say.
"It is still far too dangerous, in reality, despite what Tárenis says. But, the truth is, even if it was safe, I'm not sure if I'd want to return, at least not for good", Márden continued.
"Really?", said Tára. "Why would you not want to return home?"
Márden chuckled. "Because, my dear Tára, this is my home", he said, his arms spread wide in a gesture encompassing the cabin, and by inference, the ship beyond.
"Are you so devoted to the Fûren that you'd give up your old life entirely?", Tára pressed.
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. But for the moment, I am happy and at peace, my good pilot. I am, indeed, at home on the waves", Márden concluded.
Kesél, despite himself, could not contain a smile; and neither could Tára.
For a while, at least, their captain would remain.
Read Part 1 of Captain Márden's Tale.
Read Part 2 of Captain Márden's Tale.
Read Part 3 of Captain Márden's Tale.
Read Part 4 of Captain Márden's Tale.
Read Part 5 of Captain Márden's Tale.
Read Part 6 of Captain Márden's Tale.
This is the last chapter of Captain Márden's Tale, but watch for more stories of other members of the crew of the Fûren. For more information on Chélemby and Shôrkýnè, see the range products in our catalog.