Djaghada in an Age Undreamed of: the Poet's Shadow
After a night of heavy drinking, Djaghada wakes up in the hyena pen. She looks to the right and jumps up in horror, suddenly fully awake. A dead goat, right next to her! She looks around but hyenas are innocently playing at the other side of the pen. Djaghada decides to throw out the suspicious cadaver and goes back to sleep.
The next day, she tells Bhadhazzar about everything. He dismisses her, saying that if there was a dead goat in the pen, hyenas would have at least tried to eat it! Surely Djaghada was too drunk yesterday and confused a wooden log with an animal. Djaghada tries to argue with her boss, but before she manages to create a good counterargument she's interrupted by someone knocking at the door. It's a messenger from the mayor: she's requested to come to the town hall. Djaghada, worried that she has done something wrong, goes there immediately. Fortunately, it turns out that the mayor is far from taking any disciplinary action: rather, he has a job for Djaghada and her hyenas! Apparently, he was was so impressed with Djaghada's performance during the festival (and charmed by her company during the “prize dinner” with him) that he'd like to hire her for a three-day engagement. The job is to be the bodyguard for the famous wandering poet, Kebay. Djaghada has never heard of the poet, but she eagerly accepts the job opportunity.
The poet arrives from the south. Djaghada waits for him at the city borders. Kebay definitely looks like a wanderer who spend too long on the road: he's dressed in dirty robes and his beard could use some washing and trimming. Djaghada takes Kebay to the town hall where he is greeted by the mayor with reverence. The poet is informed that the local amphitheater will be ready for his poetry recital in two days. In the meantime, he is welcomed to see the local sights — his bodyguard, Djaghada, will surely show him most interesting spots. Also, he's invited to lord Rusk's estate for dinner tomorrow.
As his first request, Kebay asks Djaghada to show him local fauna and flora. Djaghada takes him to the riverside where they are attacked by huge crabs. Fortunately, Djaghada is armed with her trusty bow and accompanied by even more trusty hyenas, so she swiftly kills the animals. Then, she and Kebay feast on the cooked crab meat. The poet declares the stroll a success. Now, he says, it’s time to drink.
They go to a port tavern, one that, in Djaghada’s opinion, has really good and strong beer. Once they're there, Kebay rushes to the middle of room, climbs on a table and announces loudly that he invites everyone to his FREE poetry recital in the local amphitheater. Djaghada is horrified: she knows that the recital is not free at all — in fact, the tickets are so expensive that only the rich could afford it. She tries to make Kebay calm down, but he does not pay any attention to her; he starts shouting anti-establishment slogans, agitating the patrons more and more. There are shouts, fists in the air, feet stomping the ground. Djaghada drags Kebay off the table, but it's too late to stop the inevitable: someone trips, suspects they were pushed and hits the person closest to them. The bar brawl erupts. Djaghada covers Kebay against the blows and they manage to reach the exit without any harm. Once outside, they nonchalantly walk away and manage to avoid being captured or questioned by authorities.
Djaghada keeps Kebay out of trouble until the evening when it's time for the dinner in Lord Rusk's estate. They both arrive at the estate wearing their best clothes — which, frankly, does not mean much. However, Kebay turns out to be a charming and well-behaved guest. Djaghada tries not to draw anyone's attention, hoping for a quiet, uneventful dinner. Alas! After Kebay's short recital, Lord Rusk's son, Zahar, asks if he can recite his own poem — he's been writing poetry in secret and would like to hear Kebay's opinion on his piece. Everyone agrees — even Lord Rusk tries to conceal his disdain towards his son's interest in arts. Zahar starts his recitation. The poem is about a godlike female warrior, beautiful and fearless, with head full of dark curls, always accompanied by her hyenas...
By the time Djaghada realizes that she is, in fact, the hero of Zahar's poem, everyone is looking at her. Lord Rusk is red in the face. The only person who seems pleased with the poem is Kebay — he compliments Zahar and assures the boy that he can be a great poet one day, if he practices a lot. Lord Rusk, hearing that, loses his temper completely: he announces the party is over, everyone needs to leave and Zahar is grounded until he gets that silly rhyming out of his head.
The night is young and Kebay, who does not seem to be affected at all by the scandal at the party, asks Djaghada to lead him to some good meditation spot in the mountains — he’d like to prepare for the recital by clearing his mind. Djaghada obliges. She takes him to an edge of a small cliff. There, they start a small fire and Kebay meditates, humming quietly, while Djaghada guards him.
The light attracts snakes that try to attack Kebay and Djaghada, but she swiftly disposes of them all without allowing Kebay to come to any harm. When the dawn comes, they go back to the city.
Kebay decides to spend the whole day at the amphitheater and practice before the recital. Djaghada, freed from her bodyguard responsibilities, enrolls for guarding the amphitheater gates to ensure that people without tickets don’t sneak in. The chief of the guards, aware of the events at the tavern, is ready for a tough day. Indeed: the crowds try to force the gates, but Djaghada, together with guards, manages to hold them out. When the crowd disperses, the chief of the guards allows Djaghada to see the rest of Kebay’s performance. She likes all the poems, but one that strikes her the most is the last one: it speaks of the future, of blood and axes, and sails coming from the north. It’s a bit scary, a bit unsettling. A perfect final number! Next day Kebay leaves Pharata for Dhemphis, a nearby city where he is also planning to give a short performance. Djaghada receives a generous payment from the mayor which makes her really happy, as she needs money for the healing balms to help with the bruises she got form guarding the amphitheater.