Chapter Thirty

So it was, the people of Spirit entered the city and the beauty of the place astonished Bold Fox! They made their way to a palace at the end of the valley down the great main street at the end of the city. People waved to them from great balconies crying "Greetings to The Children of The Lords! Greetings to The Healers of Sickness!"
2 Finally, they mounted the steps of the palace, and the great, armed guards opened the huge doors and knelt on one knee as they passed.
3 The inside of the hall was more beautiful than the outside. Great columns and balconies adorned it, and though they were in a great, inner room, with only the open door, it was well lit.
4 Bold Fox wondered how, and Strong Wall must have sensed his question, and he pointed to mirrors on the ceiling. "There are more mounted on the roofs of the buildings outside," he explained. "The light lands on them, is reflected through tunnels that you cannot see, onto the mirrors. When the sun does not shine, we use lamps, which burn the oil of a fruit tree that is abundant in these mountains and foothills...the ones that have the little green, sharp-tasting fruits!"
5 Bold Fox was amazed. At the end of the hall was a great throne, and an ancient-looking man sat on it, wrapped in many blankets. As they approached, an attendant roused him. The old man's head came up, and he spoke. Strong Wall answered and went forward. But Bold Fox could not understand the words, for they were in the Giant's own tongue. For several minutes The Old Chieftain and his nephew conversed.
6 Then, Strong Wall motioned Bold Fox forward. "My Uncle says that he is truly excited that I bring news of a cure for the Fever. Many are ill. He does not wish to be inhospitable, but the need for your Healers is great. He would much prefer to have them refresh themselves before they go out. But even now, as we speak, his people are dying, and it breaks his heart. He asks if they will forgive his laxity, and go out immediately, to his people."
7 The Healers, hearing the translation, stepped forward. "Sir," they explained, "our duty is to heal and tend the sick, not to worry about hospitality. We ask you to take us to those in need as quickly as possible."
8 Strong Wall translated for his Uncle, who broke into a great smile, and gave instructions to his nephew. Strong Wall clapped his hands and several people appeared, some of them dressed as Trns.
9 "These people," announced Strong Wall, "are you interpreters and guides. They will take you to those in need. There is one for each of you."
10 The Healers and their helpers were quickly gathered up, and disappeared out the palace doors. The rest of the party stood around, while Strong Wall continued to converse with his Uncle. Strong Wall clapped his hands three times, and more people appeared.
11 "Quarters have been arranged for you," he announced, "at the houses of the rich throughout the city. Bold Fox and The Healers will stay here, so my Uncle may have early word of all their progress.
12 I hope you will understand. We can not call on the chieftains from the mountains until we know the epidemic is under control. These people will show you to your quarters."
13 The rest of the party politely bowed to The High Chieftain and departed. "Come!" said Strong Wall. "I will show you to your room. The day grows late. We will bathe and rest awhile, before the evening meal."
14 Bold Fox did not mind the idea of a bath, after many days on the trail. Strong Wall led him through the palace, deeper into the mountain. He opened a door into a lavish room. "This is your room," he explained. "The servants will put your things in here."
15 Strong Wall went to another door and opened it, then quickly shut it. "I was afraid of that!" he sighed. "They have not finished the repairs on that bathroom yet. We will have to share mine. " He opened the door across the hall and led Bold Fox in. On one side of the room was a great sunken tub. "This is the bath," explained Strong Wall. "You put this wooden plug in the hole in the bottom, like this. Then, you turn these stone knobs on the wall, and hot and cold water comes out of this pipe. When you wish to relieve yourself..." he crossed over to a stone chair on the other side of the room, "lift this seat, and go in this hole."
16 Bold Fox looked down the hole. He could see rushing water flowing beneath. "Where does it go?" he asked.
17 "To a refuse plant down the valley," Strong Wall told him. "There they use heat from the fire mountain to boil it down into powder. And then, we use it on our crops to make them grow! Be very careful of the hot water. It, too, is brought through earthen pipes from the fire mountain, and it is very hot!"
18 For a man like Bold Fox, who relieved himself in earthen pots and bathed in leather tubs, these things were miraculous!
19 "There is soap in these tubs on the shelf," Strong Wall told him, "and also, towels. You may bathe first. I have some errands to attend to. Do you wish a girl to bathe you, or is that not the custom among your people?"
20 "I think," answered Bold Fox, "my mates would prefer I bathe myself! Our women are particular who bathes their men!"
21 "So are ours!" laughed Strong Wall. "The girl who tends me would break another woman's neck if she tried! We are a little short of interpreters, so while you are here, I will serve as yours. Now, if you will excuse me, I must attend to those errands." He quickly departed.
22 Bold Fox gathered clean clothes, and enjoyed a long, leisurely bath, having told a servant to let him know when Strong Wall returned so he could get out. But he was well finished before his friend knocked on his door.

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