Wednesday, October 14. 2009
Posted by Johnny Elbows in The Apprentice Mask
View as PDF: This entry | This month | Full blog
“It took the king almost a week to get up the courage to invite the Heffian ambassador into the court for an audience. When he did, he found that his fear was justified. After some bluster and babble about how great the king was, the Heffian ambassador said, ‘You must understand, your majesty, that you have given my master great cause to worry about your intentions. He has lived long with the Dina. He knows that they, and their god, Tor, are little more than animals that will fight for food, for money, or for any slight of their supposed honor, no matter how minor it may be. My master has always harbored good feelings toward you and your people. He sees you as a people of the land. He has felt that you are good neighbors, and that our peoples are good friends. Your alliance with the Dina has caused him to doubt these feelings.’” Gannon paused for another bite, and Lena cut in.
“How do you know so much about the goings on at court?”
Gannon finished chewing, and then replied, carelessly, “I was a journeyman at the time. Kingsbury was my guild station, and I happened to enter Kingsbury to buy birds on the same day that the Heffian ambassador did. I decided to stay in town and find out what was going on. One of the masters that I knew in Kingsbury got me into the audience chamber.”
I had no idea what Gannon was talking about, but Lena nodded as if she understood. Not wanting to look foolish, I kept my questions to myself, and willed Gannon to continue his story.
He picked up the thread after a few more bites. “The ambassador didn’t have a whole lot to say after that. Basically, he finished with a threat. He said that we had a short time to break up the alliance with the Dina. He also said that if we didn’t break it up, that they, the Heffians, would regard us and the Dina as a single people, and that they would exterminate us from off their lands as noxious animals.”
Lena’s face looked thoughtful. “We thought it was bluster. But it wasn’t, was it?”
Gannon shook his head. “You were there, at the battle at Goat Pass. Did you notice anything?”
For a moment, Lena didn’t respond. Then, her eyes opened wide. “The Heffians are fair-skinned, and light-haired, aren’t they?”
“Then those weren’t Heffians attacking us. At least not all of them. Some of them were . . .” her voice trailed off.
Gannon finished for her, his voice little more than a whisper. “Some of them were Weald-Men. Probably a majority of them.”
I looked at both of them, a note of panic rising in my voice in spite of my efforts to keep it hidden. “Why would the Weald attack us? Aren’t they our friends?”
Gannon responded first. “The Weald have been our friends for a long time, but friendship’s the funniest thing. If you want a friendship to survive, it has to go two ways. They gave us the Reia, and taught us what we needed to know to survive here. In return, we helped them fight off the Dina and the Heffians. But time passed. The Heffians stopped attacking the Weald. Since our lands were between the Dina and the Weald, the Dina didn’t have any reason to attack them any more, so, for a while, there was peace, and everything was good.”
I looked over at Lena. Her face looked sad. “We’re not very good friends anymore,” she whispered. Her voice grew stronger as she continued, “Norwood used to be part of the Weald, but we took it over. More and more of our people are moving into the area around Forestal. Before long, we’ll probably drive them out of there, too. It’s not that we’re trying to drive them out. We just have more kids than they do. We’re always growing, and they always stay the same.”
When she stopped, Gannon continued. “We’re not the only ones moving into the Weald. The Heffians are, too. They’re doing things differently, though. They’re not coming in to stay. They come through a village, or a town, or a city, and they talk. They remind the Weald that we’re newcomers. They remind them that the Heffians and the Weald have lived on Tellan from time immemorial, and that until the Dina showed up, they were friends. The Heffians tell the Weald that it can be like that again if their two nations join together to fight the encroachers.”
One of the logs in the fire popped loudly, and I jumped. Gannon laughed. “Secrets boy. These are secrets. The nobles would have us believe that everything’s fine, that the Weald are our loyal allies, and that the Heffians are just a little bit restless. I’m a commoner like you. If not for this mask, I wouldn’t know anything more than you do.” Gannon gestured toward Lena, and continued. “If you want to know secrets, if you want to be able to talk to the likes of her without looking the fool, there’s only one way.” He held up his mask. “You have to hide your face, and pretend to serve Mora.”
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Syndicate This Blog