Jamal immediately stands to embrace his surrogate son, the fear and
anxiety over his wards fate fading away as he entered the room.
After a couple of moments, he step back, and listens to what Abul has
be 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 has 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
Dukes personal guard. They recognised my speech and brought me here.
The Duke has been very kind, asn looked after me here, but I have
been anxious to here news of you, as many fell on the Cradle"
Jamal replies "Yes, you have been lucky Abul, and I that 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

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 if 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

"Do you reject and repudiate the lies of the Deceiver and promise
only to follow the Swords 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

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 as 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
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 so 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
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 say
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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