“It really is a sea serpent!”
We’re standing in the admissions hall of the port of Tanafisay. Never heard of such a thing before. Apparently the port is picky about who it lets onshore. Mounted on the northern wall is a lengthy hide or skin of some snake-like beast with gills that could swallow a good-sized dog. It’s got fangs, grinding teeth, presumably four eyes, and even little legs. It doesn’t look like it died happy.
We arrive at the desk of the clerk or magistrate, whatever she is. “Names? Occupations? Reasons to visit Tanafisay?” It all comes rattling out.
Inacha goes first. “Inacha sy Ian. Information broker. Assisting employer.”
My turn. “Randuscon Elioscar Tenlennith voy Scarnta. Bard. Research trip for material.” Who worries about a bard?
She looks narrowly at me. “Where’s your instrument?”
“I sing. And I wanted to see what instruments you have here that I can take back to Marsgoland.”
She looks dubiously at me, but scratches some lines on a form and hands it to Inacha. She points off to our right. “Go through door 13. Give them the form. Next.”
Dismissed, we walk over, open door 13, and enter.
“Close the door behind you.” The voice comes from another clerk or magistrate, who looks almost identical to the one we just left. Same green hair and skin, and red eyes.
We close the door, step up to the front of the desk, and hand over the form. The woman looks it over. “Bard, eh? Well, let me tell you, Mister,” she looks down at the form, “Tenlennith voy Scarnta, the prince doesn’t like loafers. Or panhandlers. Or bards. Do you get my drift?”
I nod. “I’m getting the picture.”
“So, you’ve got two choices. Turn around and take your tush back to whatever mean, hardscrabble land birthed you, or audition before the prince. He’s not kind to failures, I should add.”
Inacha jumps in. “What if my revered employer revealed he has several other useful skills?”
“Then we’d charge him with fraud and sentence him to twenty years in the mines.” She turns to me. “Your call, bard, or whatever you are.”
I try to impress with a verse: “The city prince, an audience, my road to fame, Randuscon’s my name.”
The woman shakes her head. “It’s your life.” And rings a bell.