Talon first arrived, he was not disappointed.
His grandpa or Papa as
he called him was great company and took advantage of their time
together. But still an old
man did not like to play little boys’ games all day and Talon wanted
nothing more than to crawl around in the dirt with someone.
Though a bad leg and reliance
on a walking staff meant Papa couldn’t get down in the dirt, he
recognized Talon’s longing for companionship and tried to make up for it.
He even showed Talon some of the secrets of the lost arts and, though
not one of the great masters, the old man could use the lost arts as a
gardening aid. The lost arts had waned in forgetfulness among the
common masses because they had been forbidden for all except the highest
aristocracy and clergy.
an old dignitary tucked away in the mountains, the local population had
adopted his papa as their own sage.
They called him by his old title of Ambassador and often dropped
by asking for advice or to settle a civil dispute.
Occasionally, he was even asked to perform a wedding or birthing
ceremony. This suited Papa
well because he privately craved the attention that aristocracy provides
without the hassle of politics.
grandma also loved the company of the locals, for her delight was to
entertain and cook. It was
her “lost art” and she had plenty of time to practice it.
Her sweet nut rolls were Talon’s favorite.
Most of all, when he spent time with his grandma, he didn’t
have to eat Janaro roots.
culture has its Janaro root. It
somehow contains a universal substance that crosses all cultural and
planetary boundaries. Every
sentient race has a form of this substance that mothers believe cures
all ailments and causes children to believe that if it makes you gag, it
must somehow be “good” for you -- the converse of course is also
true. Among the people of
the Andril Mountains this universal substance took the form of the
Janaro root. Fortunately,
grandma did not ascribe to this law.
their court days, the other royalty looked down on her homemaking
abilities saying that was the responsibility of serfs and not a noble
lady of the court. Being
the proud lady that she was, she disregarded these rebukes and kept the
origin of her domestic talents a secret.
Talon knew nothing of court politics, only that he loved his
grandma’s cooking. Little known to him, his childlike ignorance of his
grandma’s secret origin was about to change.
caught his attention up the road. He
saw a tall, cloaked figure approaching.
The man –- he assumed it was a man though he could not see any
distinguishing features from this distance to tell him otherwise –
walked up the mountain road towards the only residence on this side of
the street. As the man
started walking up the footpath to his papa’s door, Talon looked hard
and long at him. No, he
hadn’t seen him before, but he couldn’t be sure because the hood hid
the man’s features. Talon
was sure of one thing, though: this man didn’t come from Selma.
Talon had never seen anyone wear a hooded cloak before, neither
here nor in the big cities.
there young Talon,” called out the stranger as he approached.
Talon could not see, but he guessed the man was smiling by the
way he sounded. Talon
looked down and didn’t answer, not because he intended to be rude, but
because he was timid. How
did this man know his name? Still
sitting, Talon scooted over a little to allow the man to pass.
man stopped and pulled back his hood.
The sun caught his long white-gray hair and almost made it glow.
As he smiled, the folds of wrinkles on his face deepened.
He had a soft, pleasant expression that almost made you want to
hold his hand and ask him to sit down and tell you a story.
Somehow Talon knew he would be good at telling stories.
At the same time, Talon felt this man was a warrior.
He seemed pleasant and polite, yet down to business.
He held himself with the air of a dignitary, standing ramrod
straight, eyes focused and clear. His
eyes ... Talon’s favorite color, a crystal clear blue.
smiled back. He liked this
old man already. How old
was he? Talon couldn’t
tell. Anyone over
twenty-five was old to him. But
something about the way he smiled told him that this man was the kind of
person that was willing to get down in the dirt and play games with
name,” the man said presently in his thick accent, “is Firesmyth
Mancuso. Is your
grandfather, Endvar, available?"
nodded. He had rarely heard
his papa called by his birth name.
Tradition allowed only equals call each other by their birth
name. All others must use a
didn’t know there was another ambassador around here, he thought.