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===Jamal and Raus (Part one)===

//...being where Jamal reaches the Pavis townhouse of Lord Raus, talks of things Carmanian and eventually is reunited with his ward Abul//

Pavis was a sweaty "city". Jamal almost hesitated to call it by that name, especially as compared to the cities back in the Heartland and holy Brindle, from Jamal's home Satrapy of Worion, this was barely a dirty township. Still the locals had a strong sense of civic pride and the great cracked walls seemed to indicate that this had once been a place of greatness, so "city" it will be...
Jamal muses on this as he walks up Parade Way looking for the Silk and Plume, and the town house of Raus, a Carmanian noble and, as far as Jamal knows, current protector of Jamal's ward Abul.

This was very much the Lunar part of town, and the residents looked decidedly skittish. Despite having washed off the road dirt and cleaning himself up, Jamal attracted quite a few nervous glances from the passers-by, most of whom seemed to find ways of being well out of the confident hazar's way as he strode down the middle of the street.
Seeing the house that he assumes to be his destination, Jamal crosses the road and walks up to the heavy shuttered door. The place seems to be a typical town house of the area, generally clean and well maintain, build to a provincial copy of a classic Heartland style, having four stories, and presumably a small courtyard inside.
Without any further ado Jamal knocks hard on the door and waits.

Time passes.....

Abruptly a small shutter on the front door slides back, and a functionary peers out.
"Ye-as" he says, somewhat snootily.
Unphased, Jamal replies "I am called Jamal bin Jaran al'Wara, and I am here to see the Duke on a personal matter"
The functionary looks down his nose at the warrior before him.
"I'm afraid that the Duke is a very important and busy man, and does not have time to waste with the likes of you..." he says slamming the hatch shut
Or at least attempting to, expecting such a response, Jamal has placed the pommel of is sword in hatch , preventing its closure.
The functionary, quickly draws back the shutter, his face red with annoyance.

Jamal addresses him quickly, but this time in Carmanian, using the honorifics and forms of address that only a noble of high-caste would use.
"I believe that the Lord Duke has come in possession of something of mine, I would appreciate some of his time to discuss this matter, and I believe that he will be expecting me." and switching to the tone of voice with which he used to address his recalcitrant vassal's back home. "You shall do this now!!!"

The flunky looks flustered, and muttering a hushed "yessar", he scrambles to open the door.

"If only you had said at first sir, " he says obsequiously, showing Jamal in, "we could have avoided such unpleasantness"
Jamal snorts.

"Who shall I announce to his Grace ?" he asks.taking Jamal away from the entrance hallway and out towards the courtyard.

"Just announce me and Jamal of the Legion of Hereward, that should suffice for now"

The flunky nods and opens the door to the courtyard, announcing Jamal to man standing in its centre with his back to the door.

Jamal enters and regards the man, as the functionary closes the door behind him. His is tall and well build, still obviously carrying the gate of a military man. His hair is dark, yet flecked with grey, and he is dressed in a simple Carmanian tunic, rather than the foppish Darra Happan affectations that had become fashionable in Jamal's homeland.

"I take it that I have the honour of address His Grace the Duke Raus" Jamal states politely..

"Ahhh I see that you have not forgotten how to address an equal, " the man says turning "or indeed how to command a subordinate. Yes you do have that honour.."

Raus is still a handsome man, supporting a neatly trimmed goatee beard, again flecked with grey, pale grey-green eyes, and a prominent scar on his right cheek.

"But whom do I address?"

"I am called Jamal bin Jaran al'Awara, Your Grace", he says with a short bow.

Raus wrinkles his nose at the obvious discourtesy of Jamal using a nom de guerre rather that his real name, but lets this pass..

"I suppose that you have come for the boy, Abul?"

"Yes Your Grace, he is my ward and we have travelled far together"

Raus waves away the formality of Jamal's tone.

"Indeed, he is a very bright lad, of whom I have become somewhat fond in the past couple weeks. He tells me that you have recently been on a river bound voyage, and is somewhat concerned for your well being "

Jamal looks slightly flustered at the Dukes oblique reference to the Cradle, but tries not to let this show in his voice.

"Yes, as I have been for his, I am very anxious to be re united with him"

"Of course, he his with some of my personal guard on the training fields outside the city walls, JayReet !!" he calls, and the flunky enters

"Please go and fetch Abul from the training grounds, tell him he has a visitor" JayReet bows and leaves.

"While he is gone, I want to talk with you about the boy, well not so much a boy now, he look to be on the cusp of his B'harVat"

Jamal still slightly wary nods "You are correct, I had hoped to sponsor his rise to manhood, but there are few Idovanian Churches here in this place where the rite could be performed"

"Perhaps I can help with that, " Raus replies indicating that Jamal sits, before taking a seat himself, "I have a small chapel consecrated here, along with a small knot of clergy"

The Duke claps his hands and a couple of serving girls enter, carrying refreshments and sweetmeats. Jamal takes the proffered glass and sips tentatively. It proves to be a quite excellent sherbet.

"That is very generous of you, but what can I offer you in return..."

"Well firstly some of you time, it is not often that someone of like mind makes it this far from our homeland, but also....." his voice trails off.

Jamal picks up the thread ".. you would like to sponsor the boy into manhood, and for him to stay with you" he says finishing the Duke sentence.

Jamal, sits back, sipping absently on his beverage.

After a time he replies "The boy has been my ward for some time, but he is not tied to me either by blood or by oath, if he chooses to stay here, I will not oppose his decision"

The Duke nods, "That is good"

The pair lapse into silent for a while, and the serving girls busying themselves with refreshing drinks and clearing away.
The Duke breaks the quiet "There will be changes here soon, there are great changes afoot"

Jamal joins in the conversation, "That is agreed, the empire has suffered a humiliation, and they will not take that lying down"

"It's Sor-eel I feel sorry for, the man was a fat fool, but at least he appreciated the ways of the people here. I suspect that the next appointee may not be so lenient"

"The imperial yoke is still the Imperial yoke"

"Aaaahh but some yokes are heavier than others, I had thought about petitioning the Imperial Overseer for govenorship myself..."

Jamal looks at him straight "If you would take my advice, sir, I think that this would be a poor move, there is a strong sniff of rebellion in the air. Unless you like idea of imposing a brutal repression, or the feel of a noose around your neck, I would keep yourself divorced from the proceedings. Better let some Imperial place-man take the fall"

"Perhaps you are right, I must ponder this further..."

Silent returns for a while....

.....this time to be broken by Jamal "It may be an impertinent question, but what are you doing here so far from home ?"

"It is impertinent, but I will answer you if you permit me the same privilege. My family had lands in Spol, but we had, lets say a *disagreement* with Lady Yolanela, and she was on the verge of having her son, the Heirophant issuing a fatwa against my family. I thought it best to absent ourselves here for a while. The Emperor was kind enough to grant us some estates here in the back end of nowhere" Raus sighs, "And so here I am, it could have been a great deal worse"

"Indeed" replies Jamal, his interest piqued by talk of his homeland, "the Taloned Countess is a very bad enemy to make, there are muttering that she is buried deep in the Spolite heresy, but has always been wily enough to stay one step ahead of the Inquisition. Having the Heirophant for a son always helps of course. As a Satrap she makes Moralatap look like a puppy in comparison"

Raus looks Jamal straight in the eye, "And now for my impertinant question, you have been hiding behind false names since you arrived here, I would like to ask you your true name"

Jamal considers this for a while, he did not know this man, and indeed he was obviously a beneficiary of Imperial largess, but he had obviously cared for Abul well, and had kept Jamal's Cradle participation from the authorities. Plus there were many good men who would return to the pure Carmanian ways should the power of the empire fail. Perhaps Raus was one of them.
"I am called Jamal al'Kathoum"
Raus whistles through his teeth at this, "I had heard something of what had happened to the al'Kathoum. That was a nasty business, and you have my deepest sympathise. Moralatap had thought that he had wiped your House from the face of the empire. He would be most surprised to find one of you still alive"
"And the first he shall know of it is when my sword crosses his throat" Jamal growls ", your oath that you will keep my secret"

Raus looks very serious "You have my oath that nothing that we have discussed here will leave this room"

Jamal sits back, somewhat placated and opens his mouth to speak, when there is a respectful knock at the door.
JayReet announces "Sirs, the lad Abul is here"
And with that Abul enters the room.

Jamal immediately stands to embrace his surrogate son, the fear and anxiety over his ward's fate fading away as he entered the room. After a couple of moments, he step back, and listens to what Abul has been saying...

"Master, I am so glad that you have survived, when I fell from the Cradle I thought that I would never see you again."

Jamal replies, "I had feared that you had died when the Cradle was boarded at Pavis. When I heard that you had been taken, it was all
that the legion could do to prevent me tearing the city apart to look for you. Only reports of Duke Raus's good character and the need to defend the innocent Giant child could prevent me from so doing"

"When I fell, I feared that Idovanus would take me for his own, such was the commotion and bloodshed. But I survive and stayed hidden
under the water and swam down stream away from the conflict, until I set foot on land"

"I was luck that in my exhaustion and delirium that I spoke my first words in our native tongue, as the nearest soldiers where from the
Duke's personal guard. They recognised my speech and brought me here. The Duke has been very kind, and looked after me here, but I have been anxious to hear news of you, as many fell on the Cradle."

Jamal replies "Yes, you have been lucky Abul, and I thank the merciful Idovanus for this. Most of the legion survived the Cradle, and our
subsequent adventures, but much has changed since we were parted."

With this Jamal launches into a coverage of events since the Cradle, the Duke listening politely in the background , and the serving girls
attending to the three as Jamal talks. He looks surprised and slightly shocked as Jamal recounts the fall of Derenx at the Humakti temple, is thoughtful as he hears of Abyad swearing vassalage to Jamal, but stays quiet nonetheless.

As Jamal's story comes to an end, Abul's pipes in, "So you have been busy master".

At this Jamal regards his ward seriously "Abul, you have no longer a need to call me master. I can see that you have reached the age where you are about to pass into manhood, and once you have passed your Bhar'vat, you then have your choice, as any man has, of whom your master shall be. Indeed even if you choose to have a master"

At this point the Duke joins the conversation. "Jamal and I have talked a little of this matter. You will need a sponsor for your Bhar'vat, and I would be honoured to be your sponsor, and continue your training as part of my retinue."

Jamal joins in "As would I Abul, but the choice is yours, with not pressure or ill feeling from any party, whatever the outcome"

Abul looks anxiously from Jamal to Raus and back again, and sips his sherbet as if to moisten a dry palette.

"I..I.." he stammers, then remembering that he is soon to become a man and steadies himself "My Lord Duke has been very generous in
taking me in and looking after me. And he has often spoken of my taking a place at his side, not only as his vassal, but also as his family."

The Duke nods.

"But despite his kindness, I feel that I cannot accept his kind offer. My path lies with that of the legion, if you would sponsor my membership Jamal"

He says referring to his former master by his name for the first time."This I will do gladly" Jamal replies. Jamal hesitates for a second, "Also I would like to offer you a place in the family of al'Kathoum, if you would take that name and burden"

Abul smiles, "I would like nothing better"


The Carmanian ceremony of passage into manhood is short yet heavy with meaning. The sponsor of the boy leads him into the Idovanian
church. His head covered with the traditional plain sacking cloth, the drone of the liturgy filling the air around them.

The sponsor is presents the supplicant to the head liturgist, who halts the droning and addresses the supplicant directly.

"Who stands before the gates of manhood asking for entry?"

"I, Abul al'Kathoum present myself for entry to manhood", the supplicant replies.

"Do you promise to follow the light and the truth of the Divine Idovanus, may his name be blessed through the ages?"

"The blessed light of Idovanus will be my guide" replies the supplicant.

"Do you reject and repudiate the lies of the Deceiver and promise only to follow the Sword's path of Truth?"

The supplicant replies "I reject the Deceiver and all his lies and falsehoods" he says spitting on the ground.

"Will you follow the Knightly ideal of Karmanos and Syranthir, following the way truth in piety and humility before the light of Idovanus?"

Here there has been a reversion from the modern practice, as the name of Aronius Joranthir has been omitted.

"This I swear" replies the supplicant.

The liturgist looks long into the eyes of the supplicant, then happy with his responses, he leads the supplicant to the lectern, where the White Book rests.

Here the supplicant starts to read from the passage in the original ancient Carmanian, the deeds and teaching of Lord Karmanos. He reads the passage slowly for about an hour, before the liturgist nods, and the supplicant steps down from the lectern.

Here the sponsor steps forward, to administer the most important part of the ceremony, "The Blow". To hold back in the strike is considered to be most shaming upon the supplicant, and the sponsor strikes with all his might.

The reaction of the supplicant to "The Blow" is said to be the measure of the man he will become.

The supplicant is sent sprawling by the strike. He lies on the floor for a second then climbs to his feet and stands before the sponsor,
offering his other cheek to be struck.

At this a great cheer is raised through-out the hall, and the liturgist replaces the sacking head covering with that of gold, embroidered with the heraldic marks of the supplicant new House. He who had entered as a boy, leaves as a man.


The celebrations in the garden last well into the night, Abul is not the only boy raised into manhood this day, and Jamal glances over to
where he and is new friends are quickly becoming sodden with drink. It looks like he will have much more than a sore jaw in the morning, Jamal muses.

As he is thinking this, he does not see Raus approaching with an unfamiliar figure, and as he turns Jamal makes an involuntary start at the sight of the woman. She is small, obviously Spolite, and in late middle-age with closely cropped greying hair. This in itself is unremarkable, aside from a woman being in such a testosterone-charged atmosphere. What caused Jamal's surprise is that she wears the Dry Bone Medallion and other regalia of the Order of St Abbassar, the speakers of the rituals of the dead.

"Jamal may I introduce, Jakkanna, she has been anxious to meet you"

Jamal swallows, almost audibly, but recovers his composure enough to reply, "Indeed, I am honoured to make your acquaintance my lady"

"Honoured perhaps, but certainly surprised" she replies dryly.

Raus coughs lightly, he like Jamal, is slightly uncomfortable in the woman's presence. "The lady Jakkanna has a request to ask of you,
which I would consider it a great honour if you would look kindly upon it"

Jamal shoots the Duke a swift glance as if to say "Thanks a lot, what have you committed me to"

Jakkanna resumes the conversation. "I have recently come to these barbarian lands, and have become fascinated with the customs and
teachings of this place. What interests me especially is the servants of the 'god' that they call 'hooomakt'. This seems to be very much
like the blessed Hum'Akt of our homeland, but rather different. His followers seem rather more concerned with the ways of honour and,
of more interests to me, the laying of the unquiet spirits of the dead than the Hum'Akt that I am used to. I would like a chance to study this further, and the Duke here has mentioned that you have close dealings with the native 'hooomakt-i' here, and I would request a chance to join your retinue to further my interest."

Jamal shoots another glance at the Duke as if to say "You owe me one."

Jamal replies, "My Lady, the honour would be all mine"

"Perhaps" Jakkanna replies, "and of course in repayment I would be happy to continue the instruction of your squire there" she says
indicating the drunken figure of Abul.

Jamal grins "I'm sure he will be delighted at your wise guidance."

Jakkanna breaks into a smile at this "That I severely doubt."
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