Ch. 59. “At Your Disposal”

The healer and the sailor both blinked silently at Y’lanna.  Her outburst took both of them more aback than the simple business of her changing clothes in front of them.  Spaceship?  Spatial Anomaly?  Cerebral Moon?  And what else but wood should ships be built from?

The medical officer merely shook his head.  “Y’lanna Sparti,” he repeated, spelling it the way it sounded in the fluid script of the Common Speech.  “The captain will answer your questions, and I believe we’ve kept him waiting long enough.”

Closing the large, heavy logbook, the healer noticed the sailor still standing there, still blinking at the lissome young creature who looked quite the picture in the simple but form-fitting britches and the soft cotton shirt that hung loosely over her bosom and arms.  A sappy yet mildly predatory grin was slowly spreading over the elf’s face as he gazed at her.

“Seaman!” the doctor snapped, starting the sailor as if from a trance.  “Weren’t you to take the lady’s clothes to be dried?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, do it, then.”

“Yes, sir!”

As the sailor gathered up Y’lanna’s sodden black garment and scurried out of the infirmary, the medical officer tucked his logbook under his arm.  He stopped to look Y’lanna up and down, taking in the glow of her purple skin against the off-white Aeldrethian clothing.  He was well aware of the allure she radiated.  He had noted it as well as other things in his initial examination, an effect of her biology.

“Hrm,” he hrm’ed.  “One moment.”

Putting down his book, he proceeded to open and close a great many very small drawers in the cabinets that lined the infirmary walls, raising up a wooden clatter until he found a small trinket.  It was a disk of dull, black iron carved with arcane sigils.

“Allow me.”  The healer lifted the chain the captain had given her from around her neck and added the iron pendant to the copper and gold locket that was already on it.  Laying it back around her neck, he said, “An Amulet of Suitor Deflection.  I knew I had one lying about, though I don’t remember how or why.  Not much call for such things on board a ship since the crew may do as they please so long as the naval code is preserved.  But for you, well, it may ease the passage to Plesz just a bit.”  He took up his book again.  “Though on one such as you, who knows how effective it will be.  Come along.”

And so the medical officer led Y’lanna back through the inner labyrinth of the Wolf, from the infirmary in the lower deck at the bow to the captain’s cabin under the castle deck at the stern.  Curious looks followed Y’lanna the whole way, but the code remained intact and preserved.

As they approached the open door of the captain’s quarters, the strong, deep, cultured and theatrically trained voice of Ruili Windwolf came wafting out on the ocean breeze.  Of course, at first, Y’lanna would not have understood his words, but once within the range of the Dragon’s Tongue amulet, she might have heard him exhorting the scientists and scholars.

“It’s an exterior scene, don’t you know.  King Ludoleth is walking through a meadow reciting a soliloquy about the Lady of the Garden.  ‘How like unto a summer’s day my love,’ and then he’s supposed to describe her.  But I’m blowed if I can choose what parts of a woman to mention when I’ve no idea who or what to cast in the role.”

“Perhaps, milord, King Ludoleth could talk about how the lady smells,” replied a weak and uncertain voice.  “A meadow and all, one assumes there must be flowers… Oh.”

The speaking scholar, one of several seated around the large chart table that dominated the cabin, interrupted himself as the doctor knocked on the door frame and entered with Y’lanna.

Ruili, lounging comfortably at the table as well, smiled broadly and waved them to take seats as well.  “Ah, there you are.  All right and proper, then, Middlepine?”

“Yes, captain.”  The healer executed a restrained, military bow. and set his log on the table, opening it and sliding it across to Windwolf, as the scholars all sat up straight and eager.  “My initial report.  Her name is Y’lanna Sparti.  Overall, she is in good health and condition.  She did ask if this is ‘the Dark Ages,’ but I have no idea what she meant.”

With a mischievous grin, Ruili leaned back, tilting his chair dangerously, to look out the open window behind him through which the wind that carried the Wolf puffed.

“Well, it’s sunny at the moment,” he said with a wink, “so I suppose we’ll say no, this is not the Dark Ages.”

Leaning forward again, he scanned the doctor’s notes, muttering as he read, “Hm… hm… hm, interesting…oh, indeed?  Hehe, that’s most interesting…”

“What is it, milord captain?” asked an impatient scientist.

“Mind your turn, ladies and gentlemen,” Ruili raised a hand to put them off and to invite Y’lanna to make herself comfortable.  “The guest of the Sovereign Duchy takes precedence and may speak first.” The flaxen-haired selkie smiled at the alien girl.  “You have questions, Mistress Sparti?  I am at your disposal.”

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