Tára: Chapter 5 - Joining the Heron
Kâremus, Álagon, 3 Halánè, TR716
Unseasonably cold and miserable rain splashed down on the outer wharf of Kâremus. Tára pulled her cloak tighter, but it did little to keep her warm.
She glanced back bitterly once more at the ship tied up at the wharf. The captain and senior crew seemed to have already forgotten her as they busied themselves about unloading the ship.
Tára was not sorry at all to see the back of the dreadful Captain Hêranes, not one bit. She did, however, regret resigning as pilot of the Hârdana Hope after only seven months. It would probably not look good to future captains that she had departed so swiftly from her first ticket as a master pilot.
Still, Kâremus was a busy port, and she had good letters of recommendation from the College. She was sure she would find another ticket, even if she had to wait.
She had never been to Kâremus before, so she asked a passerby for directions to the Pilot's Guildhall.
The alongshoreman looked her up and down. “It's along straight ahead, ma'am, up there”, he said, pointing at a large, ornate stone building on the main street to the Harbour Gate, just off the main wharf. The flag of the Pilot's Guild fluttered from its top; in the rain Tára had not noticed it.
She hurried forward to the entrance, and up the steps. It was, Tára thought, quite an impressive guildhall for a town this size, and it took pride of place on the wharf.
Tára was ushered into the entrance hall by a doorwarden, who helped with her cloak. When he saw the badge of a master pilot sewn onto her tunic, he bowed slightly, and became even more solicitous.
“Ma'am, welcome to the Kâremus Guildhall. Do you require lodgings?”, he said.
“Yes, I do”.
“Very, well Mistress…” he hesitated
“Tára al Amánes, of Janôra, Tríerzòn”, Tára said, “and, latterly of the College of Ládo, Trepûra”, she added.
“Mistress Amánes, if you would be so kind, please follow me”, he asked.
Tára followed him across the entrance hall, which was well lit and warmed by a central fireplace, to a small desk off to the side where a clerk was seated.
The doorward introduced her to the clerk, who rose and bowed slightly.
“Mistress Amánes, welcome once again to the Guildhall of Kâremus. I assume you require lodgings?”
“Very well. We have several rooms available. Do you have any belongings? A sea-chest?”, the clerk asked.
“Yes”, said Tára, somewhat more sharply than she had intended, “They are on the Hârdana Hope, recently docked at the outer wharf. Could you arrange for them to be collected for me?”
“Most certainly, ma'am. There will be a small fee, of course, but we can add that to your final bill”, the clerk smiled. Tára smiled back weakly.
She signed her name in the register, leaving the name of her current assignment blank. The doorwarden showed her up the main staircase, a magnificent stone affair, and along a wide hallway to a small but comfortable room on the second floor.
She tipped him a farthing, and he thanked her and left, promising to return with her belongings as soon as possible.
Tára busied herself as best should could while she waited for the doorward to return. She tried not to think too much about her unsuccessful first ticket as a full master pilot, but she found she could think of little else. She fumed at how she had been treated by Captain Hêranes, despite her obvious skills. She hoped that her next ship would have a more reasonable captain.
In short order the doorwarden did return. Tára was pleased to see, on quick inspection, that her belongings seemed to be in order. She tipped him once again, and inquired when meals were served, as she realised she was quite hungry. He explained that three meals a day were served in the great hall, and that if she wished, meals could also be arranged in private rooms.
After the warden had departed, Tára checked through her belongings in more detail, checking her high-quality rutter in particular. Satisfied that all was as it should be, she made her way downstairs, and found the great hall. It was almost empty, but a servant approached and asked her if she wished to eat, to which she replied, that yes, indeed she was quite famished.
A simple but well cooked meal was supplied, and she thanked the staff, and returned to the entry hall to inquire on any possible assignments. The clerk rose as she entered, bowing ever so slightly.
“Good afternoon, ma’am. I trust your lodgings are in order?”
“Yes”, Tára replied. “I was wondering if I could trouble you regarding assignments. I know I have only arrived, but as you may have noticed, I am presently between posts…”
The clerk nodded, but looked somewhat dour.
“I’m afraid, ma’am, that we presently have no unfilled assignments. Perhaps tomorrow? Who can say….”
Tára felt the clerk appeared singularly uninterested in her lack of current employment, and disinclined to care either way.
“I see. Do you have any suggestions for what I might do while I wait to hear if any ship’s captains are in need of pilots' services?”, she enquired.
“Ma’am, perhaps you might wish to explore our fine town? You might find the university precinct of interest, perhaps? Or alternatively the fine temples? We cater to many faiths here in Kâremus….”
Tára was a little surprised. “Kâremus has a university? Isn’t that unusual for such a small town?”
“Kâremus is not all that small, Ma’am, and is quite worldly. As I indicated, we have temples dedicated to many faiths; including the Lady Laráni, Mother Peóni, Mistress Haléa, and the Lords Sárajìn and Ágrik.
The clerks face betrayed his annoyance, and Tára realised she had insulted his civic pride.
“My apologies”, she responded as quickly as she could. “You mentioned a university?”
“Yes, indeed, Ma’am. Kâremus University has seven houses, each dedicated to a different area of lore and study. A number of your fellow master pilots are associated with the House of Míkaad, which specialises in the study of weather, the seasons, rain and similar matters.”
“I see”, Tára replied, her interest increasingly piqued. “Where is this university located?”
“It occupies several buildings on Casyl Street, beyond Kâreli Square. You can’t miss it. Students everywhere. They say there are more than one hundred students and masters at the university at any time.”
“So many? It seems I have underestimated your town…”, Tára added.
The clerk beamed. “Whatever you say, ma’am”.
As the weather seemed to have improved somewhat, Tára took the clerk’s advice and headed out to explore.
She made her way through the main Harbour Gate and into a broad expanse that she supposed must be ‘Kâreli Square’. A fountain lay directly opposite the gate, and a street led away upwards between rows of buildings. Streets also headed off to the northwest and southeast.
Tára noticed now the high towers of Kâremus Castle, standing prominently on a high hill overlooking the town. Its imposing walls and keep were constructed of the same stone that seemed to characterise most buildings in the town.
There were a few stalls in the square, but the weather had kept many away. Still, Tára noticed a small group of young people whom she thought must be students heading along the avenue up the hill, and she decided to follow.
They walked for only a short while before turning left into a street marked by a good number of trees, under which an even greater number of young people appeared to have taken shelter.
Not much distance along the street the group she had been following turned into a large and quite impressive building through an arched doorway that seemed to lead into an inner courtyard.
Hesitating only slightly, Tára followed them in.
The courtyard had been washed clean by the rain, and a fresh breeze had appeared, but there were many young people milling around in the yard. It certainly reminded her of the Ládo College, but grander and certainly with more people.
All around the courtyard ran a portico, and here and there were benches where groups of students were clustered. A second story ran all the way round above the portico, and she could see other students and older persons in various rooms through a number of clear glass windows. She was rather surprised at the extent of glass in the building; it was greater even than she remembered from the Sávè-K’nôran temple in Janôra.
As Tára stood gazing up at the windows, a short middle aged man in a long dark tunic approached her.
“Good day, ma’am. Are you seeking anything in particular?”, he said.
Tára turned to him. “Good day to you. I was admiring your windows”, she said. “I am Tára al Amánes, Master Pilot.”
“A master of the Pilots’ Guild? Welcome, then, to the House of Casyl. I am Master Kélwhen, shenâva of this House. What is it you seek?”, the Master queried.
“Seek?”, said Tára, somewhat taken aback.
“Yes, ma’am. You seem to be seeking something; am I not correct?”
Tára hesitated. She didn’t think she had been seeking anything in particular, except, of course, she was, in fact, always seeking… something.
“Ah. No. Nothing in particular. I am between assignments, and it was suggested I might find Kâremus University of interest”, Tára finally responded.
“We are a Chantry of the Guild of Arcane Lore, in matter of fact. But the locals call us 'the University'. I suppose the fact we are the best known such institution in all of Shôrkýnè justifies their pride, in a way”. Master Kélwhen paused.
“The House of Casyl specialises in matters of light, heat and their properties. Most pilots find the House of Míkaad, with it's focus on the weather, the seasons, winds and rains, and so forth, of greater interest. Perhaps I could arrange for a student to show you around?”, he concluded.
Tára paused again, not wanting to impose.
“It will be no trouble, I assure you. Mélkas will be more than happy to be your guide”. Master Kélwhen, summoned a young man with a simple motion of his hand. The young man had been sitting nearby, and rose quickly to stand beside the master.
“Mistress Tára, this is Mélkas, one of my students. He will be only too happy to show you the sights of this Chantry, and its various houses”, he said, turning to the young man, “Won’t you, Mélkas?”.
The young man seemed, to Tára’s eyes, considerably less enthusiastic than his master, but he simply nodded silently.
“Very well. I will bid you good day, Mistress Pilot. I hope that our houses of knowledge prove of interest… and that you find whatever it is that you are searching for”. With this the master scholar bowed slightly, and left Tára and the young man alone.
She looked at him more closely. He was about her height, and probably of similar age. He was not displeasing to look at, but certainly had difficulty hiding his lack of interest in being her guide.
“Well, Scholar Mélkas, what do you suggest are the most interesting aspects of these houses of learning for a pilot such as myself?”, Tára asked when the silence between them became sufficiently uncomfortable.
“Ma’am, might I suggest, as my master indicated, a visit to the House of Míkaad? As you are a pilot, you may find the studies of that house of particular interest?”, Mélkas suggested.
“Very well, let us visit this house. Why is it called the ‘House of Míkaad’, may I ask?”, Tára responded.
“All of the houses of this chantry are named for either their founders, or other early scholars of the subjects to which they are devoted”, Mélkas replied, as he led Tára out of the main gate of the House of Casyl.
“Casyl, for whom this house was named, was an ancient scholar of the Kâreli peoples of this region, who studied the effects of light and heat. Míkaad, it is believed, was a scholar from the frozen north whose interests lay in the changing seasons and the weather, and how one might predict them. Such studies continue in his house to this day. It is for this reason that pilots such as yourself occasionally come to study with the masters and students of that house. If you will follow me, the House of Míkaad is located this way, further along Casyl Street”.
Tára’s guide indicated a domed building to the west of where they stood, and led her the short distance along the street until they were standing outside a lower portion of the building that appeared to have been added some time after the original domed structure had been constructed. Mélkas led Tára up a short flight of steps and through two large carved doors into a entrance hallway.
As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, Tára realised that the floor of the hallway was composed of a magnificent mosaic of small tiles that portrayed the waves of the sea, and that all along the walls of the hall were similar mosaics of clouds, wind and rain. It was a relatively gloomy place, but she could make out small groups of students on low benches here and there in the shadows, who seemed to be talking in hushed voices.
Mélkas motioned to one of them, who rose and stood quietly beside Mélkas as her guide whispered something to him, then disappeared off into the central part of the building.
Mélkas whispered to Tára. “We must wait. And be silent”.
A small while later, the student returned with an extremely elderly man, with long white hair, who walked up to Tára.
He stood silent before her for a moment, then turned back towards the main building, motioning for Tára to follow him. She glanced at Mélkas, who nodded, and she followed.
They passed out of the entrance hall, and through an arched corridor, then out into a large round room with a high ceilling two stories above. The walls of the room were covered with stacks of scrolls and shelves of codexes. It was a library as large as any Tára had ever seen. A number of tables were arranged in the central space, and low light filtered down from narrow windows high above around the dome.
The elderly man made his way over to one of these tables, and sat down. He motioned for Tára to join him; Mélkas and the student who had led them in stood back.
They sat silently for a while. Tára knew better than to speak first; she had spent many years in the temple of Sávè-K’nôr, and knew the ways of elderly scholars.
“Mistress Pilot”, the elderly man finally said, speaking quietly, in hushed tones.
“Master Scholar”, she replied, equally quietly.
“Welcome to the House of Míkaad, Mistress Amánes. I am Édern, Vîrán of this House. It seems you are seeking something“, Master Édern continued, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“Actually, Master Édern, I am simply looking to find out more about the House of Míkaad, and its studies”, Tára replied.
“Oh, I must be mistaken then. Are you not Mistress Tára al Amánes, of Janôra, latterly of the College of Ládo, Trepûra?”
“You… know who I am?”, Tára was more than a little surprised.
“I believe so“, the old man said, even more quietly than before. He leaned forward until he was almost whispering in Tára’s ear. “You fit the description, and Mélkas said you were a pilot called Amánes. I think the chances are good you are the person I understood would come seeking…”. The old man paused, looked around, as if checking if anyone was nearby, but then said nothing more.
“Seeking?”, Tára asked. “Why does everyone think I’m looking for something?”
The old man smiled, and whispered even more quietly, “Because you are Oránosim; are you not?”.
Tára nearly gasped, but managed to retain her composure. “I beg your pardon? Whatever do you mean?”.
“Don’t be concerned my friend. Your secret is safe with me. I have had many friends amongst the Oránosim, and I shall not reveal your membership of that august society to anyone”. The old master smiled and rested a hand on Tára’s.
Tára tried to relax somewhat, but she continued to be alarmed. How did this elderly scholar know so much about her, including her deepest secret?
“We were told to look out for you, Mistress Tára, you see?“
“Look for me? By whom?”, Tára’s heart began to race again.
“Ah. Well. Yes… Let me just say, by a friend of this chantry. A very trustworthy friend”, master Édern replied. “And just as I promised I would not reveal what I know about you to anyone, well, then, I am bound to keep other confidences. I’m sure you understand”, he concluded.
Tára didn’t understand at all, but she knew that she wasn’t going to get a clear answer to that line of inquiry.
“Why were you told to look out for me?”, she asked instead.
“Ah, yes. Good question. It was suggested you might need our assistance at some point, and our friend suggested that … they would be pleased if we provided such assistance to you. Do you need assistance?”.
Tára pondered for a moment. “Not particularly, I don’t think. I’m between assignments, at the moment, but I hardly expect that is the sort of assistance your ‘friend’, whoever they may be, expected I might require”, she added.
Master Édern seemed lost in thought for a moment, then looked up at Tára. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Who knows what our friend meant. The individual to whom I refer can be … rather obtuse. In any case, there is one thing that I can offer you, and that is access to our archives for the duration of your time in Kâremus. Perhaps that is what our friend meant us to provide you”.
“Your friend. I have no idea who this person is, or why they might have any interest in me, at all”, Tára responded. “Nevertheless, Master Édern, your offer is beyond welcome, and I most gratefully accept this wonderful opportunity”, she concluded.
“Excellent. I shall ask Mélkas and Bjân to be your attendants and guides“, said Master Édern, indicating the two students waiting quietly some distance away. “They both know this archive relatively well, and will provide you with any assistance you may need”.
With that the elderly scholar rose, and Tára rose with him. They bowed slightly to each other, and the old scholar made his way over to the two students, and spoke quietly and swiftly to them, before leaving the central room by a side door.
Tára looked at the two students, who seemed to be waiting expectantly.
“Well”, she said quietly, “show me around this library, if you would be so kind?”.
Over the next two days, Mélkas and Bjân assisted Tára as she hunted through the extensive shelves and archives of the House of Míkaad. They met her each morning at the Pilots’ Guildhall, and escorted her to the chantry, helped her find scrolls and texts, and accompanied her to meals either at the students’ hall at the chantry, or at the Pilots’ hall.
Tára not only discovered a great deal from the library regarding the studies of many scholars on matters of the weather, the winds, storms, seasons and rains, and other matters of considerable interest to any pilot, but also learned quite a bit about the two students. Mélkas was from southern Álagon, from the city of Èshapél, and had an interest in both storms and lighting; which was why he studied both with Master Édern and Master Kélwhen. Bjân was originally from the far north, the land of the northmen, and his interest was in the action of the tides and waves. He was a rather dour fellow, but he certainly knew the library well. Both students had apparently committed some infraction, which was why they were assigned to assist Tára, but they warmed to her over several days, as her enthusiasm for subjects in which they were both interested became apparent.
Tára checked each day with the clerk, who she now knew to be called Gélan, at the Pilots’ Guildhall to see if there were any ship captains seeking a pilot’s services, but each day she was told that, unfortunately, she had either missed out when she was out, or that no captains were currently seeking pilots. She was so engrossed in the material she was discovering at the chantry that it was not until a tenday had passed that she began to suspect something was awry. She had been reading something in the chantry library when she suddenly realised that several other pilots had come and gone from the guildhall during her stay. She had paid no attention to it, but now she suddenly wondered at it.
The next morning, her two attendants were waiting for her as usual, but she told them to wait outside instead of quickly heading to the chantry. She saw that the clerk was at his desk, hunched over his work, and walked quickly over to him.
“Good day, Gélan. Are there any assignments available today?”, she enquired.
The clerk had been deeply engrossed in work in a large ledger, and sat up with a start. “My apologies, ma’am. I didn’t see you”, he said as he rose and bowed slightly.
Tára reached out and spun the ledger around, and the clerk gasped. “Ma’am, what are you doing?”
“Reading”, Tára replied, in a tone that brooked no interruption. The clerk didn’t seem to know what to do, even including if he should stand or sit.
Tára read several pages of the ledger, then spun the large codex back around.
“Interesting”, she said.
“Ma’am?”, the clerk said, his voice clearly strained.
“I see, Gélan, that six pilots have received assignments on ships during my stay. I wonder, then, why it is that I have received not a single offer, nor has a single ship captain asked to meet with me to discuss any opportunity?”. Tára looked straight up at the clerk, who was clearly extremely nervous.
She waited. He looked about, but there was no one else in the entrance hall. A bead of sweat formed on his temple, and ran down his ear. Still Tára waited, remaining quite silent.
“Ah… ma’am… I’m afraid… ma’am… I cannot say…“, the extremely distraught clerk finally blurted out.
“Really?”, Tára replied. “I’m a quite surprised. Are not all offers of assignments recorded in this ledger?”.
“Ah… yes, ma’am. Of course. I am the clerk of assignments.” The clerk was now clearly sweating profusely.
Tára pulled up a chair and sat down.
“Gélan. Sit down, and tell me”, she said.
The clerk looked around anxiously, but did as she instructed.
“Ma’am… I’m…. not at liberty to say anything.“
“Not at liberty? Not at liberty from whom”, Tára replied, in a low voice.
“Ah… I’m afraid I really cannot say, ma’am”, Gélan responded, in an equally low voice. He continued to glance around.
“Very well, Gélan. If you can’t tell me, then you can’t. Perhaps, instead, you could do something for me?”, Tára queried.
“If, ma’am, I am able, of course”, the anxious clerk replied nervously.
“Its a simple request, Gélan, one I’m sure you are quite capable of fulfilling”, she smiled as sweetly as she could, and the clerk tried to smile in response, although it seemed more of a grimace.
“It is this. The next ship captain that seeks a pilot, I would like you to inform me immediately”, she said, and pushed a small purse of coins across the desk towards the clerk.
The clerk glanced around even more furtively, and to Tára’s surprise, pushed the bag of coins back towards Tára.
“Ma’am, I think you misunderstand the situation. I would like nothing more than to inform you of any positions that come available… but… I have … other instructions… Please, ma’am, take these back. There is nothing I can do to help you at this time”, he said, rising and closing the ledger. He bowed, and hurried away, taking the ledger with him.
Tára sat at the desk, somewhat stunned. She had assumed that the clerk had taken a dislike to her, and that a simple bribe would solve the matter, but clearly something more sinister was at play.
She gathered herself together, and followed her two assistants outside the Guildhall.
“Everything alright, ma’am?”, said Mélkas.
“I’m not sure. I think I need to talk with Master Édern. Something unusual is going on”, Tára replied.
The group made their way to the House of Míkaad, and Bjân went to inform Master Édern that Tára wished to speak with him. Mélkas and Tára only had to wait a short time before the old scholar joined them in the library.
“Mistress Tára”, the elder scholar said as he sat down opposite Tára. “I am told you wish to speak with me about some matter of importance?”.
“Yes, Master Édern. It seems that someone is quite keen to ensure that I do not leave Kâremus. Given you were expecting me, I wonder if you might be able to enlighten me as to who this might be?”, Tára said, quite directly.
The old man sat silently for some time. “I’m afraid, Mistress Tára, that I cannot help you, at least not with your particular request. I am not aware of anyone who might be seeking to keep you in our town“. The old man held up a hand as Tára was about to speak.
“Before you protest, however, I have to say that, unfortunately, I have heard that a certain ship captain has spread some rather unfortunate tales about you, that may explain why you have had some difficulty in finding employment. A certain Captain Hêranes, who, I believe you served with prior to your arrival here?“, the old man added.
Tára had, indeed, been intending to speak, but now she remained silent, and simply fumed. Hêranes! Of course. The fool had not only ruined her first engagement, he was now making it next to impossible to gain further employment.
“In any case, Mistress Tára, I may not be able to help you with your original request, but I may be able to help you with your more fundamental problem; that of employment. Would this be of interest to you?”, the old man said quietly.
Tára certainly was interested. She sat forward in her chair, and nodded vigorously.
“Very well”, said Master Édern, as he pulled a folded parchment from the folds of his robes. “This is a written request from a friend of this Chantry. It was delivered to me only today by a visitor from a ship recently docked in our harbour. Would you care to read it?”
Tára nodded, and Édern handed her the folded document. She unfolded the high quality parchment, and saw it was inscribed in Lakise, and appeared to be written in trade Ivinian:
Master Édern al Ráfels, Greetings.
The bearer of this message is in need of a skilled pilot for their ship. Due to certain unfortunate circumstances, they are presently experiencing some difficulties in obtaining such services.
I would be eternally grateful if you could provide any assistance that you may, in aiding the bearer, my good friend Captain Márden, to obtain such services.
Yours faithfully and gratefully,
Kálios al Lesédha
Tára pondered for a moment. “This Kálios, would he, by any chance, be the same ‘friend’ of your chantry who indicated I might need assistance?”, she inquired.
Édern smiled. “You are a smart young woman. And quite correct. It was indeed Master Kálios, a good and faithful friend of this chantry, who some months ago indicated we might expect you.”
Tára frowned. “Can you tell me more about this merchant, Kálios, and why he might be so interested in me? And who is this Captain Márden?”.
“Now that you have guessed our 'friend's' identity of your own accord, and it seems that your interests, those of Captain Márden, and of Master Kálios, are entwined, I feel free to share what I know of them," Édern said. "Master Kálios is a merchant who currently lives in Chélemby, although he was originally from the isle of Hârn. He has been a faithful and trustworthy supporter of this chantry for many years. I trust him implicitly. I do not know why or how he has come to have knowledge or an interest in yourself, but his contacts and interests are wide and varied. Captain Márden I have only met more recently, but he comes recommended by Master Kálios, and I am therefore inclined to assist him.
“In any case, it seems that you are presented with an opportunity for employment. Would you be interested in meeting Captain Márden?”
“Despite the rather peculiar circumstances, yes, Master Édern, I would”, Tára replied.
“Good”, the elderly master replied, and turned to Mélkas. “Young man, will you be so kind as to go and bring our visitor from the reading room?”
As Mélkas rose and left, Tára looked quizzically at the old man. “The captain is already here?”
“Yes. As I said, the message arrived only today. The young captain came seeking my counsel, and access to certain records, which I understand he is currently examining”, the old man replied.
Very shortly, before Tára could press the matter further, Mélkas returned with a tall, handsome, dark-haired young man, dressed in a practical but well appointed manner. Tára and Master Édern rose to greet him.
“Mistress Tára”, said the old man, “may I introduce Captain Márden al Telégah, captain of the Fûren, a vessel recently docked at Kâremus. Captain Márden, Mistress Tára al Amánes, Master Pilot. Will you both join me?”
The tall young man inclined his head ever so slightly, and sat down with Tára and the chantry master. Édern dismissed both Bjan and Mélkas with a look.
Tára examined the captain intently. He had an air of grace about him, but also seemed troubled, and more than a little tired and distracted. The elderly scholar glanced at each of this two guests, and saw that neither was inclined to make the first move.
“Well, Captain Márden, these are most fortuitous circumstances, do you not think? Here you are recently arrived at Kâremus, seeking a master pilot; and here is my good friend Mistress Tára, a master pilot in search of employment. Yes, a happy circumstance indeed”, said Master Édern.
Márden looked sharply at the old man, and then more intently at Tára.
“Mistress Tára, it is, as Master Édern has indicated, quite fortuitous that we find you here at the House of Míkaad. As the master may have explained, we presently require a master pilot, but, ah… circumstances… make it somewhat difficult for us to obtain such services.”
“Circumstances..?”, Tára replied.
“The Guild is presently not inclined to assist us”, Márden replied.
“For what reason? Have you failed to make payment to a previous pilot, or cause some other offense to the Guild?”, Tára responded, somewhat sharply. She was beginning to feel annoyed that this merchant Kálios appeared to have set her up, and she did not like the feeling at all.
Márden exchanged glances with Master Édern, who responded for the younger man.
“Mistress Tára, a few years ago Captain Márden had some difficulties of a personal family nature in another part of Shôrkýnè, of a most unpleasant character. It seems that certain members of the Guild in Kâremus are reluctant to associate themselves with him, on account of the displeasure this might incur in certain powerful quarters.”
Tára could see that whatever these ‘family matters’ were, they greatly troubled the young man, as the look that passed across his face as Master Édern mentioned them was quite devastating. Despite this, she felt the need to know more.
“Captain Márden, I see plainly that this matter troubles you, but I must know more. What happened to your previous pilot?”, she enquired.
Márden sighed as he responded to her request. “Môrken, our previous pilot, has retired. He was originally from Kâremus, and wished to return here. We arrived here two days ago, to return him home, and he has already left our service. He was a loyal retainer of my father’s and should have retired many years ago. I cannot press him to continue service.”
“I see”, Tára replied. She was impressed at the young captain’s willingness to put the interests of his previous pilot above his own.
Édern coughed gently, interrupting their conversation.
“Mistress Tára, I sense you are suspicious, and I can understand why. But let me assure you that if Master Kálios recommends Captain Márden, then he is a man worthy of trust. And in any case, Mistress Tára, it would seem that both of you find yourselves off-side with certain members of the Pilot’s Guild. Whatever the circumstances, it does seem to me that you each have what the other requires, do you not?”
Márden nodded. Somewhat reluctantly, Tára found that she was also nodding in agreement. Despite her discontent from being so manipulated, she knew that she was unlikely to find employment unless she travelled to another port.
“Very well, captain, I will accept your offer of employment as the master pilot of the Fûren. Shall we make arrangements to register our contract at the Guildhall?”, Tára said.
Márden chuckled. “Yes, why not. That will certainly annoy them, won’t it?”.
The two seafarers rose, and thanked the master scholar, who escorted them to the entrance of the house. Édern watched as they made their way down the street towards the Guildhall and smiled. His patron, Kálios al Lesédha, would no doubt be pleased.
Ed. note: 'Fûren' is the Shôrka word for 'heron'.