Story Of A Young Fyros - part two¶
Night was falling on Pyr, the capital city of the Fyros Empire. It had been almost a month that Aedon was living in the city, and he was becoming familiar with all of its nooks and crannies. He went into a shop and caught the attention of the merchant.
"Dylion, look what I have for you! Two magnificent gingo skins. I skinned these beasts just for you!" He laid his pack down on the counter.
The old merchant rubbed his chin and finally, halfway convinced, touched the skins.
"These weren't young gingos! The skin isn't soft anymore. What do you expect me to do with them?" the merchant mocked. "Here,
I'll give you two hundred dappers, because I'm in a good mood."
Many a warrior would have felt the blood rise to their faces and turned to seek another merchant, ranting all the way. But Aedon knew his homin. He knew that this was only his way of starting the bartering.
"Two hundred dappers! That's not even enough to pay for a night at the inn. Normally, I would ask you for three times that much! But I believe that you might really be one of the poorest merchants in town, so I'll let you have them for five hundred dappers."
Dylion Tindix lifted his eyes to the sky, as if he had been stabbed.
The bargaining went on for a good ten minutes until they had finally agreed on three hundred dappers.
Feeling rather satisfied with his day's accomplishments, Aedon hefted the beads in his palm. He wandered aimlessly into the Bath Lane and stopped in front of the city hammam. He looked at the sky and decided that there was enough time before dinner.
He entered the lobby, where he was met by an attendant.
"Good evening. May I help you?" He asked with a honeyed voice.
"Yes, show me to a dressing room so I can undress. I'm in a hurry to take a bath."
The homin bowed quickly and invited him to follow. The place seethed with a hot, heavy atmosphere. Going down a long corridor with many doors, Aedon congratulated himself for making the right choice. He had spent the day hunting and sweating under the hot sun. His muscles needed to relax in the heat of the baths. He went into the cubicle that his guide had shown him. He undressed completely before opening the other door that led into the steam baths. Steam filled the entire room, which was lined with green amber. He came up to the big pool and felt vexed by the large number of bathers, who were mostly Fyros.
He sat down on the edge of the pool, leaned forward and stretched out his arm. The water was very hot. He frowned and hesitated for a second before deciding to slip into the water. He inched his way in slowly, controlling his breath as he went.
He stretched his arms out along the ledge of the pool and closed his eyes.
"This is the first time I've seen you here. Have you been in Pyr very long?"
Aedon opened his eyes and turned his head to the left. He saw a Fyros who was perhaps in his early forties.
"A month, but I don't plan to stay any longer than I need to," answered Aedon, hoping the conversation would stop right there.
"Why leave us so soon? Don't you like Pyr?" the stranger continued.
"I want to discover new homin lands and see their wonders. I'm thirsty for knowledge."
"I thought so!" he said, laughing. "My name is Partacles, I'm one of the senators who governs our people in the name of Emperor
Dexton. I'm in charge of military affairs and and the Kamis know that that is important business!"
"Except for the Kitins, I don't see any conflicts to worry about, said Aedon, who didn't like the turn this conversation was taking.
Partacles moved closer to Aedon and added in a low voice:
"Do you really believe that peace among homins can last forever? Think of the Karavan's ambitions and you'll see why the Matis will jump at our throats as soon as they get the chance. Peace has only lasted because each group of people is still too weak to think of expanding their territory. But things happen faster than you can imagine. The four homin races are rebuilding their lost empires. Our good emperor will rebuild his imperial residence, and I have personally named several generals who will be in charge of recruiting for guilds for future stakes."
Aedon frowned worriedly. He had no desire to enter into such considerations. He was a warrior and an adventurer, and he didn't care about politics. Why was he being told all of this? Partacles laid a hand on his shoulder.
"I need young Fyros like you to be my agents. We don't have all the information we need about what is happening among the Matis and the Trykers. Are you willing to be one of my spies? Before you answer, know that there is plenty of fame and fortune to gain. Plenty for a young homin. Think of all the things that you'll be able to buy…"
Aedon' mind began to swim in confusion. When he left his village, he had no idea how much the world was changing. War between homins might well come again. He felt a bitter taste in his mouth. He shook his head and looked Partacles straight in the eye.
"I'll think about it, but I'm not promising you anything," he said.
"Take your time, young Fyros. There is nothing worse than excessive zeal and rash decisions."
With these words, Partacles let go of the ledge, swam to the steps of the pool and climbed out.
Aedon relaxed at last. He had so wanted to be left alone. He knew nothing about the ways of society, and he really had no desire to learn about it.
He lingered for several long minutes, steeping in the hot water and the steam that rose from it. Before leaving the hammam, he took a cold shower that tightened up his whole body. Once he was dressed, he went back out onto the street and savored the gentle breeze that made its way into the narrow streets of Pyr. Partacles' words seemed to be far from his mind. His stomach had been rumbling for several minutes and his thoughts were on having a very substantial meal. He went up Dexton Street and came to the Fountain Square. The bar was on the left. Without a moment's hesitation, he went into the building and sat down at a free table.
A trio of musicians was playing a traditional melody. Three young Fyros women were dancing very graciously between the bar and the front tables. In the light from the lanterns, their movements were subtle and delicate. Aedon ordered a scrath beer and a grilled rib of bodoc with braised larvae. Despite the harmonious swaying of the young women, his thoughts finally returned to the words of Partacles. With money, everything would be so easy! No need to spend long hours hunting just to earn barely enough to pay for lodging. He could live however he wished without worrying about tomorrow. Even girls would be easier! He shook his head with a sardonic little smile. Only the ancient ones still thought women could be bought. Ever since the forced exile into the Prime Roots, Fyros society had seen drastic changes. Fyros women, inspired by the example of other peoples, learned to assert themselves, and the regent Leanon was a prime example. If a Kami could read my thoughts right now, he would teleport me instantly to the middle of the desert, he thought, letting a smile light up his face.
"Do you mind if I sit next to you?" said a voice with a very distinct accent.
Aedon lifted his head and met the eyes of a young Matis.
"Please be my guest," he answered.
The Matis sat down next to him. He had a rather debonair sort of face, with large blue eyes and a trim beard that aged his appearance a little.
"I love your city. You are very lucky. Did you know that Pyr is the largest homin city on Atys?"
Aedon shook his head, although his eyes were on the beautiful Fyros dancers who were starting a new dance.
- "You aren't very talkative, but maybe I should introduce myself. Lato Nivaldo, Matis ambassador. I am here to build ties with your people. I like to believe that there can be lasting peace between us."
"That isn't what I have heard elsewhere…" Aedon began.
"Oh, really?" said Nivaldo, surprised. "Tell me, what have you heard?"
Aedon was furious with himself, and lifted his beer to his lips. He had been caught out like a beginner! The Matis was trying to milk him for information. Maybe he had even seen him talking to Partacles. He had to watch every word he said.
"The Karavan don't like us very much, and they say you are among their strongest defenders," he said, choosing his words very carefully.
"That's true, but it's no crime to have an opinion. Jena is our Goddess, and she guides our actions, but nowhere do her precepts teach us to use force to spreads the good word."
Aedon made a skeptical face.
"No. But do you really respect our beliefs?"
"Do you really think that I would have volunteered to be an ambassador to your people unless I loved them? If only you could visit our country, you would see how mistaken you are to think of us as crazy fanatics."
"That would be wonderful, but what would I do there, with no dappers and no place to sleep?" said Aedon, who hoped this would end the conversation.
Nivaldo looked concerned and furrowed his brow.
"Yes, money is getting more and more important in our world, but maybe there is a solution. I have been appointed by Duke Rodi di Varello, who is the equivalent of one of your senators, and is in charge of commerce among other things. He sent me to bring back some of the bitter aromatic plants from your country."
Seeing Aedon's inquisitive look, he answered without waiting for the question.
"The nobles of my people are very fond of rare things, including these herbs. Bring me back, let's say, five bags of them and I will talk to the Duke about you. I am sure that he will have some lucrative missions for you once you are there."
Aedon told himself that there was no escaping his destiny. Between Partacles' propositions and those of Nivaldo, he was going to have to leave the region. So be it! It would happen. But one thing was certain, he would be working for the Fyros and would never betray his people.
"I will think about it, but I have to say that your proposition is tempting, and if you buy the next three rounds, I think my decision could be easily influenced in your favor."
The Matis smiled and took some dappers out of his coin purse.
"Here, I think this will be enough to let you finish your evening in the finest establishment in Pyr. Come back with the plants to this same place in four days," he said, moving towards the door.
Aedon looked down, took the dappers and weighed them in his hand.
"So, is this the price of treason…?"
To be continued...