by Max Barry

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Region: Xedas

Thannis and the Friend Meet

In a meeting house in the city of Dadia, a man and his wife sat in an alcove, a little back from the hearth that lay in the centre of the room. In the height of the Dadian summer the hearth lay quiet, no fire burning in here lest the building overheat, but it still served as the focal point of the room for the ordinary folk to sit around.
The main doors swung open to let in a traveller, by his dress from the Strymon valley in the heartlands of the Commonwealth. He looked around the room, around the many locals sitting and standing both patrons and hosts, and his eyes eventually settled on the pair in the alcove. The man there caught the visitor’s eye and made a semi-intricate hand gesture to indicate his and her presence; the visitor responded with a similar one of his own and went to join them.

“Thannis,” the visitor said as the man shuffled along the curved bench to allow the visitor to sit beside him.
“And you must be the good friend that I have been told about on a number of occasions,” Thannis replied.
“Not so out loud, there’s other people here!” the visitor responded in a loud whisper, halfway between the volume of ordinary conversation and that of the surreptitious kind.
“Relax friend, they’re simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New South.” Thannis, despite his protestations, had lowered his volume down to the near-whisper of the visitor’s.
“Very well, I shall relax. Have they anything civilised on? If not, get me the local brew. Wasn’t expecting the journey to be this hard.”
“My wife and I are currently having the local mead; it’s been a good summer for the bees apparently. Shall I get you some? Oh, and before I forget, I need to introduce you to my wife. Indartsu-senor, this is my wife Tasia, Tasia, this is Indartsu.”
“Indartsu (Strong)?” I like the sound of it. Good day to you, Tasia.”
“Good day to you as well; my dear Thannis has spoken highly of you,” she replied.
“It’s fine,” Thannis said as he noticed Indartsu’s expression, “she’s one of us.”
Indartsu’s expression eased. “Very well; the mead for me, if you’d be so kind.”

Thannis returned to the table with three fresh goblets of mead, spiced according to a Dadian recipe.
“Don’t mind the taste,” he said as he placed them down and offered Indartsu one, “it takes a little getting used to, but it’s well worth it.”
“I suppose if this was all you had to drink for a year you’d get used to it,” Indartsu responded after the aftertaste finally went away. “It’ll suffice. However, we are now here, and you are the miracle worker who I’ve heard so much about from our mutual friends.”
“Indeed I am.”
“They tell me that you have achieved great things here. I’d like to hear it in your own words.”
Thannis took a few seconds to compose his thoughts. How much detail do I go into?
“How long have you got?”
“Enough that you can explain what you found at the sites before you take me there to show me in person.”
“I see. Very well. For obvious reasons, as we are in a public place, I shan’t say too much, unless you’d like to head back outside just after arriving here. How was your journey here, while I’m on the topic?”
“That can come later. Answer the question.”
“I’ll keep it brief. You’ve read your Kevorkian, haven’t you?”
“Someone as close to him as I didn’t have a choice.”
Thannis leaned close to Indartsu, so that only the latter would hear.
“I hath drunk the milk of paradise.”