Journey to the South: Twenty-Four of Thirty

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Fiction
Tags: ,

     “You see,” Dar said after popping a grape into his mouth, “many years ago there used to be a merchant by the name of Kesh, a Zyvakri man. Now rumors are that in his youth, Kesh was a pirate, sailing up and down the eastern coast of the Yevij taking treasure and slaves where he could. But, as can happen, the life of piracy became too…excitable for him as he grew older, so he took the wealth that he acquired over the years and settled here in Akhem.

    “He dealt in slaves, of course, along with grapes, olives, wine – all of the things that coin could buy and in return bring in even more coin to his coffers. And this all went well for several years, until he received a visit from some old colleagues of his from his days of piracy. This particular visit happened during a party that I was hosting at the villa of one of the city’s councillors – I am well-known for the entertaining evenings that I have a talent for whipping up, if you will. Many seek my services as host in order to reap the reward of claiming to have collaborated with me on an evening of feasting, music, and socializing.

    “But, I digress. As the night wore on it was disrupted by a commotion at the villa’s entrance. It seems that some of Kesh’s old colleagues had tracked him to Akhem and then spent a fortnight in the city following the trail of his movements and dealings until they arrived at the councillor’s villa. They forced their way in, incapacitating three of the councillor’s hired guards, and brought the gathering to a halt as they confronted the old Zyvakri merchant. You see, it seems that Kesh and his colleagues had held their combined wealth together. And when Kesh had decided to retire those several years prior, he had not only taken his own share of the wealth, but theirs, as well. They had spent several years rebuilding their own coffers, all while trying to hunt down the treacherous and disappeared Kesh.

    “Well, as you can imagine, for a host – even one hosting a party outside of his own home – an event like this is an absolute nightmare. Not only had petty thugs and criminals forced their way into a private residence and gathering, but one of the invited attendees was being embarrassed before the gathered social elites of the city. A horrid, horrid situation – which could only be made more horrid by bloodshed.”

    Dar paused to take a sip of his honeyed-wine. “Now, of course, there was no bloodshed. But, not thanks to any efforts on Kesh’s part. No, the man slipped back into his old piratical ways and threatened to brutally murder each and every one of his former colleagues right there in the villa’s atrium in front of the other guests. And it almost came to that – though I sincerely doubt that Kesh would have prevailed, he was older then than I am now and…how should I say it? ‘Overripe’? Yes, I think that is a good description. Anyway, as I was saying: Kesh and his colleagues were a hair’s-breadth away from covering the floor of the councillor’s atrium with their blood…if it had not been for my intervention.

    “Without thinking, I leapt between the two piratical parties and profusely proposed alternate possibilities for this particular exchange to play out,” Dar said, and I estimate that he had uttered that line many, many times in the past. “I was going to be damned if I would be forever known as the man who had held a party that had a prominent merchant and his pirate friends kill one another at. That would be social suicide, I assure you quite well.

     “Naturally, I have quite the silver-tongue – a quality I hear that you possess, as well, Ambassador – and was able to, at the very least, get all the involved ruffians, Kesh included, to relax and take their hands off of the handles of their blades. We adjourned to the councillor’s tablinum while the councillor himself worked hard at getting the party started back up again. In the tablinum I acted as mediator between the two parties and after many hours – so many, in fact, that the gathering had ended and dawn broke over the waters of the Yevij – before Kesh and his former colleagues came to an agreement that that they were both satisfied with.

     “Or, honestly, both parties less than satisfied with, but found acceptable. His colleagues became part-owners of Kesh’s businesses, renaming the ventures after their old pirate vessel: the Sea-Wolf. ‘Sons of the Wolf Trading Company’ they called it…and they agreed to give me discounts on their inventory in perpetuity for brokering the deal.”

    The Consul popped another grape into his mouth and smiled at Viro. “And that, madam, answers your question as to where I got these delicious grapes from.”

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