Saturday, September 25, 2004

A Dispatch from Barselti

(The following is the letter the King is reading in the opening scene of Mages of Mâvarin)

a tengremUmvardu, 13th Day of Fredor, 897 MMY

Your Majesties:

Things are quiet here for the moment, but there's no knowing (Fayubi excepted) how long that will last. By the time Nalo gets this letter to you, everything may have changed. Perhaps you could ask my mother to set up a nice, discreet portal between Thâlemar and my cottage. That way, if major trouble erupts here you will be able to respond faster - if there's anything you feel you can do about it at all. The actions of a few dozen tengremen at the other end of the country may not be a major priority for you right now, but I promise you, they will be.

So far, Albi is still allowing dissident tengremen to leave Gathmak, if he finds he can't control them as pack leader. He predicts that they'll be back, because there's no place else a tengrem is welcome--except Varthtimar, of course, and that's practically uninhabitable. That's where he thinks they're all going. Miserable place. I've seen it. A few tengremen really are living in the swamps down there, but not many.

If Albi knew that the deserters all had necklaces, I'm certain that he'd be less tolerant of their going. In theory, they can live as humans wherever they want, far from Albi and his ambitions. That's anathema to Albi, and problematic for us as well. Let me assure you that I screen them all very carefully before helping them, both for emotional stability and for their loyalty to Mâvarin. There are too many amoral or pro-Mâton tengremen galloping around the country as it is, without my adding to them.

I'm trying to steer as many of the dissidents as possible to the new settlement outside Skû. The humans in the area are relatively tolerant, and the tengremen are only a few days from Gathmak if it comes down to a fight.

As for myself, I've been very careful to keep my production of extra necklaces a secret from everyone but Zagorni. Even the tengremen I give them to are told that their particular necklaces are my only "spares." Still, I've had a few close calls in which Albi saw a dissident in the vicinity of my cottage. These days I'm coming to them rather than risk their visits to me. I do it in the middle of the night, bearing charms that render me invisible and unsmelled.

I hope your new Minister of Tengrem Relations can work something out with Albi, or reinstill in him some respect for the human government. I can't imagine anything Cort could say to accomplish this. Albi's latest scheme seems to involve identifying tengremen who are both lo
yal to him and capable of being trained as mages. If he can accomplish that, he'll be able to banish me and the other humans from Gathmak. That's assuming he doesn't try to have us killed instead. Fortunately, he won't be able to replace his human "allies" that quickly or easily. There are tengremen with talent, but instruction in magic takes years - and I don't know who Albi thinks he can get to do the training. He's certainly not looking to humans to do it. You may want to warn Meligor.


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