|1.||Chapter 1 - Placitan 1||Read it Now|
|2.||Chapter 2 - Depoka||Read it Now|
|3.||Chapter 3 - Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|4.||Chapter 4 - The Royal Palace, Ju||Read it Now|
|5.||Chapter 5 - Leve Soma||See below|
|6.||Chapter 6 - Placitan, Balehag||Read it Now|
|7.||Chapter 7 - Rangung||Read it Now|
|8.||Chapter 8 - Sungan||Read it Now|
|9.||Chapter 9 - Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|10.||Chapter 10 - Royal Palace, Ju||Read it Now|
|11.||Chapter 11 - Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|12.||Chapter 12 - Denkol||Read it Now|
|13.||Chapter 13 - Inyiada||Read it Now|
|14.||Chapter 14 - Inyiada||Read it Now|
|15.||Chapter 15 - Jenan||Read it Now|
|16.||Chapter 16 - Rangung||Read it Now|
|17.||Chapter 17 - Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|18.||Chapter 18 – Tang River||Read it Now|
|19.||Chapter 19 - Denkol||Read it Now|
|20.||Chapter 20 – Tang River||Read it Now|
|21.||Chapter 21 – Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|22.||Chapter 22 – Rakasuul||Read it Now|
|23.||Chapter 23 – Levi Soma||Read it Now|
|24.||Chapter 24 – Rangung||Read it Now|
|25.||Chapter 25 – Agakor Sea||Read it Now|
|Chapter 5 - Leve Soma|
Chapter 5 - Leve Soma
A lone figure stood on the east dock of Leve Soma. The east dock was nominally the royal dock, but was not used much, the royal family had moved inland long ago. Merchants and everyone else used the only other dock, which was situated outside the town gates. Currently there were three ships tied up at the royal dock manned by skeleton crews while the remainder were on shore. All three ships belonged to the queen. They were just merchant ships, the navy was out at sea, patrolling the Lalorian coast.
As always in the dry season, the midday heat was baking the bare boards of the wooden jetty and the calm sea offered just the gentlest of cool breezes.
The figure carried a wide sunshade parasol as shelter from the sun. Mellane Cylbor was a sea elf.
Her ancestors had come and settled on the island of Lalor two hundred years ago, which wasn't a vast amount of time for an elf, but meant that elves had been on this island as long as the humans of the mainland could remember. Lying east of Kaletan, the middle kingdom, the sea elves had been tolerated and traded with for generation after generation.
Indeed, Leve Soma was if nothing, a human settlement. Constructed along the human style, the town was home to as many humans as sea elves. As the elves had moved into the jungles of Lalor, humans had come to trade with them. So much so, that after a while, Leve Soma became the gateway to the mainland of Yaja.
Foreign travellers from the west came here to trade with the spice and cloth merchants of the east.
Mellane was here to meet a traveller from the west today, and on the horizon she could see the sail of the ship he was travelling on. There were a few merchant ships on the water today, but she was not interested in them. She had been looking for, and had now spotted the distinctive sail of the king of Silandad, as all diplomatic ships in his service had purple sails.
With the patience of a very long lived race, she watched as the vessel came closer, moving slowly on the gentle sea breeze.
It was not someone from the court of Silandad that she was meeting today, although it would be a diplomat. Or something between a diplomat and a scholar as she had heard he had been studying the ancient civilization of Pasorokane that had flourished on Silandad a thousand years ago, but was now on his way to Lalor.
In any event, he was a human called Roztov, a druid from the western continent of Nillimandor. She had not met him before, but had heard about him. Neither had she ever been to Nillimandor but she knew that some of the humans there worshipped the same gods as the sea elves of Lalor and Roztov was one of them.
The joint worship of Etruna was enough to unite the elves to this section of humanity and diplomatic missions to the forests of the woodelves and the islands of the sea elves were now, if not common, certainly more frequent.
She knew Roztov had been a druid all his life and a diplomat for the last five years attached to no court but speaking on behalf of the council of elders in the Great Forest of Nillimandor. Mellane knew that the Great Forest harboured at least a hundred religious enclaves, after all Etruna was a forest goddess, who were a mixture of humans and other races and who preferred the shelter of this huge trackless forest to the confines of any secular kingdom.
This was all fascinating to Mellane who had only ever left Lalor to visit the mainland of Yaja, and she looked forward to this ecumenical visit with great anticipation.
Finally the ship drew close to the jetty and a boat was launched. It was manned by six sailors with a single passenger stood in the prow, dressed in brown leather travelling clothes. He gave her a wave as the launch approached.
She took his hand as he stepped up from the boat. He was a man of medium height and build with a neatly trimmed blonde beard. He was wearing a broad brimmed straw hat, but could see that his eyes were slate grey in colour and she gauged by the lines on his face that he was about fifty years old, so not young in human terms. But he stepped onto the jetty spryly enough and thanking her, turned to take a large pack that a sailor handed up to him. The boat then drew off and rowed back to the purple sailed ship.
Roztov said something in a language she didn't understand then tsked to himself,
'Sorry, I should be speaking Elder I think, I do not know the language of Lalor.'
Mellane laughed and shook his hand again, 'You speak the language of the scholars. I don't think I have ever heard it on a human tongue.'
Roztov smiled at her and looked into her eyes, 'Elder is taught to us throughout the Great Forest, it is considered the language of Etruna.'
Elder elvish was not commonly used in Lalor, it was not spoken by anyone other than priests but it was taught to all elvish children as part of their heritage.
'Come my friend, come,' said the elf, warming to the human immediately, 'You must be tired and in need of refreshment.'
'Not at all, not at all. Please, I must ask something. We saw if from miles away on the ship. They called it the Mariner’s Tower, but I can see is a tree. What is it?'
Mellane followed the druid’s finger towards the huge tree that towered into the sky behind the town of Leve Soma.
'Yes, we call it the King's Arbour. It can be climbed. Would you like to see the view from the top?'
'Of all things! Can we do it now?'
She nodded and led the way through the town. Roztov shouldered his pack and followed her.
'Incredible! You were not lying about the view from up here! Incredible, well worth the climb!'
Roztov was impressed.
They stood at the top window of what was known to humans as the Mariner’s Tower. Although it was technically not a tower, but a hugely tall tree, an elephant nirrin. The tree was known as the King's Arbour to the sea elves who were the ones that had created it.
The stairs they had climbed were mostly buried deep in the trees foliage, but a set of small rooms have been carefully installed around the top of the tree and it was in the north facing room they now stood.
It was so far up that the air was cool.
'I have got know idea at all. How far up are we now?’ asked the druid.
'Five hundred and two feet,' said Mellane with a smile. She couldn't help herself, she was always proud of the most impressive part of her realm.
'Incredible. It must be the climate here or something, they never grow this tall at home. Three, very rarely they grow up to four hundred feet. And the strength!'
The top of the tree swayed slightly in the cooling breeze.
'And the view...’ Roztov trailed off.
He could see the whole of Leve Soma laid out before him like a map of itself. There were the docks, the merchant and royal. There was the old town wall, since out grown. There was the modest sea elf quarter, some of the houses still made from the hulls of the boats from the first landing two hundred years ago. There was the human quarter, further inland, mainly populated by local Yajians, the houses being made from red clay bricks imported from the mainland. And beside the solid wall of the jungle was the foreign quarter, where the taverns and houses of people from all over the world were. Mostly the buildings were made of stone, quarried from mines in the jungle. Stone was the preferred building material of peoples of the west, where most of the foreigners had come from.
'The first thing that was done when my people landed was to plant the seed of this tree. It is one of the magical seeds of the west. Carried by my ancestors across the oceans when Angor was invaded.'
Roztov noticed that Mellane did not mention that the forests of Angor had been invaded by humans. Humans with axes, it was not part of his races history that he was proud of.
'It has stood here ever since, as a lighthouse for the port, and a guardian of the town.'
Roztov leaned a little more out the open window to get a better view. The tree, the Mariners Tower, really dominated everything around it. It had been the first thing he had seen as his ship had come in to land and had gradually filled most of his view of the town.
The rich dense jungle that hemmed in the rest of the town was no more than fifty feet tall, its highest trees dwarfed by the nirrin. He could see brightly coloured birds flying around the jungle canopy and hear the calls of animals.
Not that the tower wasn't a haven for life, he had seen more new species on the accent of the tree then he had seen in the last five years. They had even had to step aside on the stairs to make way for a family of orange furred apes coming down in the other direction.
'It's nice to be so cool up here as well. I don't think I will ever get used to the heat in your lands. It is so oppressive!’ mused Roztov.
'You were born in the Great Forest?'
'No, I am Stykian by birth, but I haven't been back for a long time, not since the war with the Nogs.'
'Ah yes' replied the elf, 'I have been told about that conflict.'
Roztov left the window and crossed the small room to where some wooden chairs were laid out. He chose one and sat down on it.
Mellane came over and joined him, 'If you press that switch the chair reclines.'
Roztov looked down at the switch indicated and after a little deliberation pressed it. The chair clicked down into a reclined position giving him a start.
'I've never seen a chair like this before.' he said laughing as he lay back.
'I cannot think of the word for it in Elder. Your native tongue is Stykian yes? It would translate to 'deck chair''.
'Hmm', said Roztov by way of reply as his eyelids slowly drooped shut.
'You must be tired after your journey?’ said the elf in a worried tone, 'I'm afraid there is nothing to drink or eat up here, but I can get something sent up.'
'Oh no, not at all, I'll just close my eyes for just a second...'
A few seconds later he was snoring.
Mellane smiled, stood up and went to the window once more. She looked out across the sea towards Yaja while the human slept, elves were patient and she would wait until he awoke.
Mellane had a small private house in the elven quarter of Leve Soma, and it was here the next day that they took their breakfast. Mellane did not keep any servants so she served Roztov herself. It was a breakfast of fried rice, spiced eggs, and a selection of fruit from the island.
Roztov had never tasted or even seen half of the fruit presented to him so Mellane was surprised when he pulled a notebook out of his pack and started to sketch out the seeds arranged in half of a songfruit.
'Do you normally draw pictures of your breakfast?' she enquired.
The druid laughed and replied, 'I have an interest in all things in nature. There is a naturalist society sponsored by the king of Entland. That's a kingdom in central Nillimandor. The Royal Society publishes papers and journals on new species, flora and fauna, that sort of thing. There is also a prize for the first person who can prove that he has circumnavigated the globe, something that I have always thought about doing.'
'The globe? What globe?’ queried the curious elf.
'The world. The world is a ball. Not flat like a plate, but round like that apple.' said Roztov pointing to part of his breakfast.
'What nonsense you humans speak! The world is round? Surely the people on the bottom would fall off! Even Etruna teaches us the world is flat. It is in the Book of Days.'
'Well, I usually wait until after breakfast before I start speaking about theology, but I think that in this case Etruna may have been.. misinterpreted or maybe speaking metaphorically.'
'The text is quite clear.'
Roztov nodded, 'I know the Book of Days. It is not cannon in Nillimandor. We druids make great study of the stars. In fact I was introduced to the Royal Society when a patron came to visit us in a quest for knowledge of the cosmos. For a long time we have known that the world is round and that it goes around the sun.'
Mellane shaded her eyes and looked out the open windows of her dining room to the sea and the sun that was over it. She considered the sun for a moment.
'Truly there is much to learn from you of the west.'
'Since I have been in the east I have not seen one henge. I can only assume that the people of the east do not build them. For us, henges have many uses, but one is to act as a cosmic orrery. There have been henges all over Nillimandor since well before us humans learned of Etruna. She is, if anything, an elven goddess. The story goes that when we were introduced to the teachings of Etruna some of it conflicted with what we already knew or what we thought we already knew. One of those was our position in the heavens. As I said, the Book of Days is known to the druids of the west, but it is not cannon.'
'We have much to tell each other of I think. My race, the sea elves, were ever nomadic, sailing all the seas of the world, so we also know something of the stars. But since settling here we have, perhaps, lost some of that knowledge.'
Roztov had finished his breakfast and stood up and took a few steps out onto the terrace.
'I am sorry to bore you with such things!’ said Mellane as she joined him, 'I should be asking you how you would like to spend your time here, not debating the finer points of our shared religion!'
Roztov laughed and waved his hands, 'Not at all, not at all! I have a hundred questions I would ask you too. I had thought I would like to go inland and see some of your temples, and perhaps pass on some letters that I carry from my elders for your church leaders and rulers. However, things seem to be happening on the mainland and I have a feeling that as a diplomat that is where I should be.'
'I had been thinking that, but I should talk to my superiors before we do anything.' replied the elf, 'In the past we elves have acted as mediators between the human kingdoms on Yaja. As you no doubt already know, the island of Yaja is divided into three kingdoms. Desolate Ju to the north, the forested kingdom of Kaletan in the middle and the farmlands and trading ports of Dullo to the south. The last time I myself was on the mainland was as part of an elven delegation to act as mediators in a trade dispute between Kaletan and Dullo.'
They talked for a time about the politics of the region, during which Mellane did most of the talking while Roztov occasionally compared what she told him with what he had heard in other places. They discussed the history of Yaja and its politics and eventually the conversation again turned to current events.
Mellane was speaking, 'The royal family of Ju may be hopelessly corrupt and decedent, but the fact remains, the people of this kingdom are one crop failure away from massive starvation. Perhaps if the south could be persuaded to send aid then this war could be averted.'
'Yes,' nodded the druid, 'From what I heard in Silandad though, Ju is a war-like place and they already harbour a grudge about how the previous war ended.'
Mellane sighed, 'I have not heard, but I don't doubt that the armies of Ju are already preparing. A messenger from the Western Isle risked his life to come to us with the news that recruits were conscripted from there and taken away. For what purpose seems obvious. They are preparing for war.'
By now they had moved back indoors to escape the heat of the morning as the temperature rose. There were in the cool shady main room of the house, lounging back on leather clad sofas. Roztov had is fingers templed and his eyes shut.
'I think I should get on the next ship to the mainland. If there is a war I should be there to record it and to report back to the druid elders in the west. And who knows, perhaps I can help?'
Mellane who was sitting upright unlike the slouched human said, 'In that case if you can hold on for about a week I will go with you. That will be the amount of time it would take for me to send a messenger to my superiors and get one in return. Any papers you wished to send inland to the church elders I could dispatch as well. My superiors would be happy to pass them on.'
'I don't fully understand that term in Elder, whom do you mean by superior?'
'I am a diplomat attached to the court. You could say my ultimate superior is the queen herself, but I report to the chief ambassador who resides in the royal palace. His name is Yulan Hylane. He is a distant cousin of the royal family.'
'I see.’ Roztov mused, 'I certainly would need at least a week to document all the new species I've seen since I've landed. The Mariner’s Tower is a treasure trove! The Royal Society will be delighted with anything I bring back for them from Leve Soma.'
'Certainly. Well, I will pen some messages tonight, and while we wait I shall show you the sights! It's a shame you can't explore too far inland, but Lalor will still be there and waiting for us when we return. If Yulan gives his permission, which I'm sure he will, I will accompany you to the mainland and we will see if elven diplomatic services are needed. I do not have the authority to simply take a ship from the royal dock without a seal from the palace otherwise we could go right now.'
Roztov sat up and rubbed his eyes, then said, 'Hmm, it may be that the time for diplomacy will be over by the time we get there, but bless Etruna, what will be will be. I know the elder druid council would want me to be at the heart of things to report back to them everything that happens.'
'It's decided then.' nodded Mellane and smiled at her companion, 'We set sail for Yaja a week from now.'
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