Chapter 16 - Avner Tries to Strike a Deal

At dawn, most of the passengers were surprised to discover that they were already underway. Clearly Lavinia and both captains were eager to get to the Auxuxals.

The wind had been at their backs the entire way and they arrived at Village of Renkrue early on the third day. The crew expected to have provisions restocked by late afternoon. This gave the passengers time to debark and enjoy land – which they would not see again until they reached The Isle of Dread.

While Viselys went into the market to do some shopping, Adameus was able to find Lavinia alone at the local tavern sipping a drink in the corner booth. “May I join you, Miss?” he asked.

“Of course you may,” she replied. She waited until he was settled to whisper, “I got your message.”

“With your guidance, I’m sure Diamondback can see to all the details. I’m sure you understand why I want to distance myself a bit.”

She reached over and took his hand – not a gesture of tenderness, but to express some degree of earnestness – “Adameus, you need to talk to him. You need to tell him plainly and let things unfold as they may.”

“I want us to be brothers, but I don’t want him to know I’m his brother. His family honor means so much to him. What would it do to that honor if he found out that he was related to someone like me?”

She was still holding his hand and she gave it a squeeze, “There can be no dishonor in reunion and resolution of the past. As for ‘someone like you,’ you are a good man. If Viselys knew you as I do, he would consider himself privileged to embrace you as a brother.”

Adameus knew he was treading on shaking ground. He could not express self-deprecation without drawing a comparison, in her mind, to her own brother. By comparison, he didn’t seem so bad. This did not mean that Viselys would not still be horrified to find out that his elder brother had grown up as a street urchin and petty thief. However, he could not explain that to Lavinia, whose brother had assassinated their parents and tried to steal the family fortune.

Just then, Avner entered the bar looking pale as a ghost. He was shaken and none of his usual self-assuredness was evident.

Adameus quickly stopped the barmaid, “Bring that man a Phoenix Down, right away.” When she showed the slightest hesitation, he held up his hand, one finger, “Agave,” second finger, “citrus liquor,” two more fingers, “citrus juice. Mixed, poured into a glass and drizzled with Sweet Red. Very quickly.”

To her credit, she was fast. She had the drink in Avners hand before he had even noticed Lavinia and Adameus. Although they couldn’t hear, Adameus could tell that the barmaid must have told him who the drink came from. Avner looked up and nodded, heading over.

“What’s wrong, Avner?” Adameus asked.

“I … um .. how long are we going to be in port?” he asked.

“We haven’t finished securing supplies, but I was planning on staying an extra day. Why?’ Lavinia replied.

“Oh, nothing. I just think we should set sail as soon as possible. Like now. I may have upset the chief a bit.”

“What did you do?” Adameus asked, apprehensively.

“I may have –given the chief the impression that I wanted to – ha – buy his daughter.”

“You WHAT?!” Lavinia’s eyes went wide.

“How did he get that impression?” Adameus asked, hoping it was all just a misunderstanding.

“I said, ‘How much for your daughter?’”

“Yep, that would do it!” Adameus replied.

“I think I’m going to get back to the ship,” Avner declared, slamming his drink back in one gulp.

“Yes, I think that would be best,” Lavinia replied.

Adameus dropped two gold coins on the table – far more than their tab required. “I’ll go talk to the chief. Maybe I can smooth things over.”

Lavinia looked nervous, “No, I think we should get Viselys. He is better suited to matters of nobility.”

Adameus couldn’t have been more stunned if Lavnina had blindsided him with a war hammer, nor as hurt, “I know enough about nobility, and I think I understand people better than my younger brother.” He paused and considered her a moment, “Though maybe not as well as I had thought.” He turned and headed to the door, “I am going to fix this.”

* * * * *

Outside the tribal long house, Adameus approached a large-ish looking guy he presumed to be the guard. “I wish to humbly request an audience with the chief.”

The muscular native spoke not a word, but turned to someone standing near the door and nodded. The second native disappeared inside and returned with an older man who approached Adameus, “What do you want?”

“One of our officers has committed a grievous offense against the chief and the tribe and I am here to offer our most sincere apologies and offer to make restitution in any way possible.” Adameus was not certain if he was addressing the chief or not, so he decided to be indirect.

The older man nodded, “Yes, I suppose you should. I will see if the chief will see you. Wait here.”

And wait he did, for over an hour. He did not complain and he did not grow impatient. He knew what was going on.

Eventually the old man returned, “Chief Ixawhani will see you know,” and he led Adameus inside.

‘Iks aw ha nee,’ he thought to himself, ‘‘Iks aw ha nee, Iks aw ha nee…’

The chief was seated when Adameus arrived. He said nothing but the way he raised his head seemed to indicate he would listen to what Adameus had to say.

Without further indication that he was at liberty to speak, Adameus began, “Chief Ixawhani, I have come to apologize most unreservedly for the behavior of one of our officers. His behavior was unconscionable, an affront to yourself, your family and your tribe, and quite inexcusable. I want you to know, on behalf of our people, that he does not represent us. We arrived here intending only goodwill and are mortified and ashamed that one of our members would behave in this way. I have come to offer our apologies, to ask if there is anything that we can do to make restitution, and to determine if your forgiveness, although we do not deserve it, may yet be attained.”

The chief was truly surprised by Adameus’ words. He actually found it difficult to remain angry, in spite the insult. He found himself genuinely liking this pale-skinned man and would have actually felt guilty turning him away without forgiveness. Why would that be? He had a right to banish the whole lot of them. “Well, we cannot ignore the matter. The offender must be punished.”

Adameus sorely wanted to agree out of hand and turn Avner over to the tribe for whatever passed for justice on this island; torture and death came pleasantly to mind. But he squelched that idea immediately. Lavinia wouldn’t be keen on the idea, and Avner was liable to make the situation worse in his indignation. “If it would please yourself and the tribe, Chief Ixawhani, we will keep the offender confined to the ship for the remainder of our stay and he will be severely punished under the auspices of our code of ethics.” Adameus had no idea what that meant, but it sure sounded good.

“And what would that entail?” the chief inquired.

‘Torture and death?’ he thought. “I will be honest, I do not know. I am not a disciplinarian, but he will be remanded to the appropriate authorities regarding such matters. I can assure you, however, that we take such matters very seriously and the punishment will be most severe. I can also give you my personal assurance that he will never forget this matter as long as I live.”

“Which I hope will be a very long time,” the chief replied before even realizing the full implications of his words. Then, with realization, he nodded with acceptance. “Very well. I accept your apology and your word that the matter will be appropriately addressed. Under the conditions you, yourself, have outlined, I grant you my personal forgiveness and that of the tribe. You and your crew are welcome to remain and enjoy our island in the spirit of goodwill.”

“You are most kind and generous, Chief Ixawhani. Our gratitude is beyond my ability to express; Thank you.” Adameus bowed deeply.

“The matter is closed and forgotten. Now tell me what brings you and your countrymen to our island.” The king indicated for Adameus to take a seat.

For a time comparable to how long he waited to speak to the chief, Adameus sat and shared the story of their adventures. Chief Ixawhani was fascinated and greatly entertained. When Adameus took his leave, the chief was genuinely sorry to see him go.

Continue to Chapter 17...

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