“Gryff,” Chess asked hoarsely, “How did you end up there, right then, when I needed you?”
The campfire was just beyond the edge of Chess’s vision, but the light touched everyone who was seated around it. It gleamed off the side of Gryff’s cheek as he answered.
“I saw you when you were out in the open area and heading toward the base.” Gryff shrugged. “I had no idea why you were there, but I knew I couldn’t follow you into there, so I waited.”
They all just stared at Gryff in silence until he shifted uncomfortably. “Look, okay, so… after I left you, I wandered around some,” he explained. “I had no intention of coming back, then. And I got kinda far off from you guys. I ended up traveling to some different villages. There are some interesting people out there…” He lowered his head and seemed to blush in the firelight. After a moment, he continued, “But then, not too long ago, someone in one of the villages was telling a story around the fire, and I recognized it: it was the story of the night that we fought against Razor’s gang.”
“Really?” Chess and Ileana both cried at once.
“Yeah.” He shook his head. “But it was way embellished. A bunch of fairy-tale crap about a hero who fights everywhere at once, and a witch who helps him. Who can even help him disappear.”
Chess laughed softly, in amazement, as Gryff kept talking. “But you know the weirdest part of the story?” Gryff suddenly frowned at Chess. “I… wasn’t mentioned… at all.”
Chess, still laughing weakly, said, “I think you show up as a demon in some stories.” He raised his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “Hey, we didn’t tell that story to anyone. It must have been some of Razor’s men. They get into all the villages around here.”
“Well…” Gryff sighed, “anyway, it made me remember that night and how scared I was for all of us. And… I guess, how good it felt to work as a team with someone I trusted.” He frowned again, “And I had this sudden need to be back with you guys. But I had to track you down again.”
“We’re glad you came back,” Ileana smiled at him. “So, what else did you find?”
“Oh… I’m sure my journeys don’t make for good stories,” he deflected the question, looking embarrassed. But then he brightened. “But here’s something you might be interested in: one of the villages I stopped at had equipment in it that was set up by those, uh, water wizards you were talking about. Yeah,” he said, in answer to Ileana’s surprised expression. “They had good water, there. Best I’ve ever had. And they had solar power – well,” he corrected himself, “they had that stuff.”
“What happened to it?” Ileana asked, flashing a worried look at Chess.
“A gang had come by… asking questions about the wizards,” Gryff answered. “They took some of the machinery and wrecked most of the rest of it. They are chasing the wizards, the villagers figured. Those villagers… they were still in shock, when I got there. Some of their people had been killed.”
“It’s Tez,” Ileana said grimly.
“You think so?” Chess asked. Surprised, and without thinking, he raised himself up on one arm. At the warning note of pain, he sank back to the ground again.
“I know it.” Ileana shook her head in disgust, as Sariel, next to her, quietly put a comforting hand on her leg. “Why does everybody think the best way to achieve goals is with brute force?”
“Speaking of that,” Chess ventured, willing to leave the problem of Tez for some later discussion, “what you said to the dissidents about samiz: that it will eventually bring effective change. You really believe that?”
Ileana nodded. “I thought about how you described it, and how people are using it. Not just Isaac Dale, but your Lodestar people, too. Entertainment can have a greater influence than pure information or propaganda. I believe that. And, yeah…,” she grimaced at him, “I do listen to you.”
“Well…” He tried another deep inhale, and it did not end in abrupt pain this time. Perhaps Sariel’s medicine was working. He patted his side pocket and felt the outline of the transmitter that he had picked up. He had forgotten about it for a while, but it was still there. “Here’s something else I can tell you: I know how we can find Lodestar.”
Continued next page...
‘By all the signs, Captain Shagrat, I’d say there’s a large warrior loose, Elf, most likely, with an elf-sword, anyway, and an axe as well maybe; and he’s loose in your bounds, too, and you’ve never spotted him. Very funny indeed!’ Gorbag spat. Sam smiled grimly at this description of himself.
- The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
Much like my late-night high school-age efforts to tune in episodes of Monty Python on a local UHF channel, Isaac Dale is not easy to “tune in” for the people living in civ. One assumes that he is more accessible on the samiz network, but then again, given the unstable nature of samiz broadcasts, perhaps not.
Now that Dale is outside of civ and broadcasting news of events that are otherwise suppressed within civ, he apparently has some fear for his own safety. Because of this, like Yasir Arafat, the infamous former chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Dale travels around, broadcasting from different locations, and reaching civ through different websites. This makes it difficult for the government and his followers, alike, to catch his broadcasts. As one of the Morolto brothers observes in The Firm (1993), he never sleeps in the same place two nights in a row. Of course, the reference was to Yasir Arafat, who once asserted that he kept on the move out of fear of retaliation from Israel, in an interview with Time Magazine -- but I like to imagine that Morolto was speaking of Isaac Dale.
Of course, these sorts of defiant-yet-fearful broadcasts are done pretty much everywhere in the world where news is suppressed and revolution is in the air. Such unregulated or otherwise illegal radio transmissions are usually referred to as “pirate radio.” The idea of a pirate radio-like broadcast, where the broadcasting base constantly moves around for fear of being caught, is well-illustrated in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Lee Jordan and the Weasley brothers broadcast surreptitiously to the rebels.
“Listeners, that brings us to the end of another “Potterwatch.” We don't know when it will be possible to broadcast again, but you can be sure we shall be back. Keep twiddling those dials: the next password will be ‘Mad-Eye.’ Keep each other safe. Keep faith. Good night.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
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