30th day of Decimus, 1668 AV
The assemblage rises as the Marquesa glides into the dining hall. Lady Elena smiles magnanimously to the surviving members of the expedition as she takes her position at the head of the table, her niece Maria seated on the right, and Captain Mason to her left. The matronly woman grasps her wine glass delicately by the stem and raises it in toast.
“To the adventurous souls who have braved the wilds of Colombo and returned in triumph.”
As the murmured responses and clinking of glasses dies down, Elena sets down the glass and bows her head.
“And a moment of prayer for the courageous souls who have not returned to us. May the Good Lord bless them and keep them safe.”
Whispered prayers punctuate the tribute as everyone bows their heads briefly. After a moment, Elena raises her head again and smiles cautiously.
“But I wish to celebrate and reward those who have returned and to acknowledge the successes made possible by hard work and sacrifice. Not only have you charted new territory in Colombo and made remarkable discoveries, both naturalistic (she nods to Francisco) and historical (she smiles at Maria), but it was your direct and indirect help that saved many of the people of Navidad from disaster.
“Cataloging and appraising the material that has returned will take months, if not years. I am certain that many scholars will wish access to your finds. Once present company has exhausted their curiosity, of course. Trade potential must be evaluated and negotiated, and plans will undoubtedly be drawn up for further efforts in the New World. But for now, I am pleased to reward each of you with the princely sum of four hundred pesos.”
She turns to George and bows respectfully. “And I am pleased to offer you the additional gift of the Queen Mary, Captain. May she serve you well and always find safe harbour in Castillian ports.”
“And finally, my cousin, the generous King Sandoval, has added another one thousand pesos for each of the expedition members, including as pension to the families of those who did not return.”
As the murmurs of excitement and surprise settle down, the Marquesa again raises her glass in toast.
“To King Sandoval. To my brave explorers. To new possibilities in a New World!”
After the toast and the cheers dies down, Miro dressed in his ill-fitting fancy stolen outfit stands, “Marquesa Elena, some words I say. Lady Maria, you talk for me”. Miro starts in Vodaccian.
“Marquesa Elena, Miro apologizes but wishes to say a few words if you will deign to hear him. He wishes to say that we have several maps that are worth much and we should endeavor to protect the knowledge which they contain. We should make copies of the maps but in two parts, the first with the geography and the second with the information about the locations of tribes and other discoveries we made. We can devise some sort of pattern for how to overlay the two parts to give us the full information. He suggests that Francisco and …”, Maria’s face goes red and she glares at Miro.
“Francisco e Maria.”, Miro states and continues in Vodaccian.
“He suggests that Francisco and Maria work together on the map and collaborate”, Maria shouts another glare at Miro, “and collaborate researching any historical records that may help in future expeditions.”, she finishes and glares once more at Miro, “I must say this is absurd. Francisco’s interest and mine are far apart, different fields, he’s closed minded and stubborn and I can’t! I won’t! I won’t work with him!”
Francisco looks from Miro to Maria to the Marquesa and then shakes his head.
The Marquesa picks up her wine glass, as Maria continues rambling about how stupid Miro’s idea is and then she says, “Enough! Enough Maria! Silence child.”, she takes another sip from her wine glass, “Yes, yes, I do like that idea. We have two scholars, and we need to make the best use of them. I do like the idea of collaboration. Yes, that is what we’ll do. Maria and Francisco will work together to uncover the secrets of the New World. Two minds, working together. My thanks Casimiro, that is a fine idea.”, she raises her glass and then takes another sip.