Clearing up

Back/up Trolls! Pavis overall

Jamal looks as the Dark Man makes good his escape, looking slightly annoyed, but not overly concerned. "Well" he says to no one in general, "we'll soon see if he understood the message of this evening"

After a moment's reflection, the professional soldier in Jamal kicks into life. "OK, let's gather the survivors and the dead. Get healers for the first, and a pyre ready for the second. I'd rather not leave such gallant defenders to the vaguaries of this place"

"Get Vur as well, as he was in command here."

He looks around "I don't know if I was imagining it here, but didn't I see Seledd and Golden Boy earlier?"

Egil's face returns to normal as the Visage of Fear is removed. He wobbles slightly as his various wounds take their toll on his body. Blood, both his and various trolls, runs down his armour making him look a grim sight. First he talks to his cousin, "Mauvin, be a friend would you? Can you go and see if you can find a healer hereabouts?" Before he hobbles across to Siggyr and nods, "Sorry about the less than tactical warning, the buggers took me by surprise while I was trying to see what the General's guards were like. I forgot about Dori and that sword of hers. As soon as I've had these holes patched up I'll get back out there and see if I can't pick up a trail. At least we'd know where they came from then. When this is sorted, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to have a chat with you about devoting myself to Hu."

"I have some knowledge of first aid; if I can be of any service?" Graylor offers. "I would like to join you in the search for these trolls.
Before I can I need a few moments to offer the final rites to speed these brave warriors on to Humakt's halls."

"Yenda, please will you fetch the General and inform him of the situation. It will be better if he informed by one of his own. If you get a chance bring Irnar and Elgan here. I will see to Illgalad and the dead here." With these words Graylor moves to preparing Illgalad's body.

Egils smiles at Graylor, "Sorry friend, I'm sure you make a fine healer but I think, on balance, I would prefer Kaylee's hands on me than

Dori is apparently trying to question those trolls still capable of speech, and getting rather frustrated by the lack of a common language.

Egil is now in a quandry, he thinks it dishonourable to kill a helpless foe but these foe have no honour themselves. "Do you think we can heal them so they can fight properly and then we can kill them right?"

"Ah, the eternal question." Dori straightens up from the latest troll-who-does-not-speak-Pavic. "To kill a helpless foe is dishonourable - but to leave them to die is also dishonourable. And what constitutes 'helpless'?" If we heal one of these trollkin so they can fight to the best of their ability, then I and my sword fight them, are they any less helpless than if they were lying down injured?"

She shrugs. "A question we all have to find our own answers to. Just be sure that whatever you decide is an answer you can live with - and die with."

"Well I think on balance a quick painless death is better than a slow agonising one and allows for more honour than being eaten by your
conqueror." Egil then begins walking round the bodies and thrusting Evergleam through the hearts of the wounded Uz.

"You are right Dori. There is much potential for dishonour with the slaughter of the helpless. Though one of the most chilling sights I have seen was a Bevaran Medic who was defending her stead. She took up a great axe and nearly clove this raider in two. Just at that moment the raiders broke and fled. She dropped the axe and calmly started patching him up again and sent him back!"

Graylor stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"Wouldn't it send a strong message if we do the same to the trolls here. Fix 'em up and send them back. Tells the others that it doesn't matter to us how many they are we won't be messed with. Trolls may not understand honour but I'm sure that they'll understand that sort of power message."

"Whether the trolls understand my honour means nothing to me," Dori says absently. "Their judgement is not at issue. I must judge myself honourable, first of all. Apart from that, I defer to the judgement of my hundred-thane, my Warleader, and my God. Nothing else matters. Not power, not a tactical advantage, nothing."

"True, nothing else matters but if one can turn the situation to your advantage for no cost, then it is good." Graylor responds.

She watches as Egil gives another troll a clean death. "Of course the choices are different for all of us. For Egil, that troll can either die slowly, or die fast. An easy choice. But I know how to heal as well as to kill. I have another choice to make - as do you, I gather. And... these beings are no longer a danger to us, I think. Even if healed, I doubt if they would attack again. Not in the short term, and, as you say, not in the long term. So I can see no justification for killing them - and death is too serious and important a matter to be done without cause."

"It is. Shouldn't someone curb Egil's enthusiasm? I have no authority over him." Graylor questions.

"He's not in my Ten, he's in Siggyr's but since he isn't here... "Egil, leave them alive, would you? At least until we've had a chance to question them."

"Though" she adds wearily, "since none of them seem to understand any language we speak, and I don't know Darktongue, the questioning isn't all that useful."

She looks round the ruined room as if hoping for inspiration. "Abul? You don't happen to include Darktongue among all the languages you speak, do you? You seem to manage just about everything else."

Abul stops immediately moving to stand arms along body in a formal position of obedience. It is quite unusual that the older persons around address him about his competencies instead of his capacity to deliver services. He keeps his mouth shut on this though, his face stays impassible as usual and he answers by choosing careful his words:
- "M'dame, at Father's services, all along our exile from the Carmanian lands, I had to deal with various local people to make sure that Father's needs were receiving the best treatment available: from the imperial satrapies to the conquered provinces, then in barbarian lands at war like Sartar, Esrolia and Heortland and now here..."

A rare disgust appears on the face of the young man:
- "...but I never had to deal with these... demons, no never. Do they speak ?"

"Oh yes, they speak. I'd forgotten, you never met Geran, did you? The ones I've dealt with before, even had as allies before, spoke our language, but I never managed to learn theirs. A shame - it's always good to know your enemy. Still, no help for it now."

Abul glances frankly at the respected female leader of the Second Ten, a grade which makes her equal to his adoptive father. Before answering, Abul also keeps in mind that she has taken over the intelligence side of the Raven position... typically the type of tasks he would like to be involved someday.
- "You mean, M'dame, that by learning the language of these creatures, we may get some mastery upon them? A useful capacity indeed..."

For many reasons, the notion seems highly attractive to Abul but it implies some kind of relationships with... things... that made his skin to shiver. Suddenly his mouth becomes a thin straight line and his face impassible again.

Abul is honourable but for the moment, no duty has been requested.
Abul knows a very old pelandan prayer against fear but why would he prays Lord Turos now in front of everyone for no obvious reason?
Abul also knows how to call Idovanus's blessing even in the heart of darkest night, but would he let know to all that he needs light in front of darkness like a small child?
After all, Abul is proud, proud as any carmanian. So Abul remains still and silent, waiting to be dismissed like any useless servant.

His disappointment fights against his anger while his anger is fighting his fear as his fear is now fighting his rising disappointment, all of this leading to an ever-locked circle. Abul just now hopes with all his strenght that this turmoil isn't perceptible by the Ten in front of him.
Abul thinks: "soon an order will give me a relief... Whatever the order. That's why orders are given... Master Jamal taught me so."

"Jamal, if you don’t mind, I'll speek to the lad." Graylor asks, and at Jamal's wave of approval he puts his arm round Abul and takes him to one side.

"Abul, I can see that what Dori is asking you is causing you some problems. You hide it well but you are scared and horrified by the request. You are a young man and have not yet got the experience to deal with this yet. But some advice fear doesn't go away, you gain the knowledge and experience to ignore it or use it to your advantage. We all have demons in our past."

Abul suddenly feels unmasked. He was so proud thinking nobody would ever know about his own fears... The friendly support from Graylor reminds him some long forgotten emotions deeply hidden in his heart, something like the love that a tender and caring song can bring when it is sang to help you to find sleep while you're just a scared child, scared by night...

Abul's eyes begin to shine as some tears are trying to find their way out, but the face of the young man get harder and the fold of his mouth becomes beyond seriousness as it is torn by his anger and fear.

For a moment, Abul hates Graylor for saying loud and clear what he has always wanted to keep secret, what during all his short life he has tried to keep away from Jamal's burden. A son should help, not hinder...
But somewhere Abul is grateful, as a dam breaks and frees enslaved waters, Graylor admitting that everyone fears something liberated Abul from shame. Abul knows he is in great danger from Darkness, he doesn't know why but certainly he is. Obviously, Ganesatarus has special plans for him, evil ones... Could it be that the Devil has special plans for everyone too?

Graylor is astonished at Abul's powerful reaction to that innocent phrase. He doesn't comment but makes a note to find out from Jamal what it could mean.

Jamal doesn't seem to be moved. He remembers where he found the child, scared among the ruins of his family home, among the corpses of his slaughtered family to be precise. He remembers the enquiry, the evidence of spolite forbidden witchcraft, the hunt after the fiendish shadows, the night battle in the pelandan city... and he remembers quite well the long period after that, the childish terrors when the nightmares of this terrible murder were haunting the young Abul's sleep. No doubt, something his adopted son doesn't like to be remembered...
Jamal will have to tell Graylor, but later. With his chin, he makes an encouraging move to the Jalmari.

Graylor continues without a pause. "For me it is drowning. I have seen many friends drowned by undead in the Upland Marsh. It became a real problem until I confronted it head on and learned how to hold my breath for a long time, once happy with that I learned how to swim and fight underwater in full armour. Now I know that I can survive most situations in the water."

"The other way I have learned to master fear is through knowledge. The more you know about something the less you fear it, and the better you are at fighting it. This is the way of the Jalmari, to know everything about that which we fight before we start then we can be sure to have the most efficient way to remove the opposition."

"But to get back to the present Dori is clearly impressed with your language skills otherwise she wouldn't ask. As to your personal reasons for not wanting to do this, sometimes it is the responsibility of a man to do the things he dislikes for the good of the community he is part of. I don't know what dark demons haunt your past and I don't need to know if you don't want. But take these things steadily. You won't have to go to troll camps in the rubble to learn Darktongue, Dori has a trollkin called Timmy that she uses as a messenger, he can teach you the language. There is nothing terrifying about him and it will be a step towards mastering your fears. Even then uz are not all the nasty snarling biting thing you have seen here. Did you know the have some great sculptors? Amazingly tactile sculptures."

Words... honest words... words of truth and humility... cleansing a little of Abul's tormented soul but arousing unwanted forgotten facts. Like Lady Jakkana's curiosity for his medallion, Graylor's interest for his past evokes an urgent feeling of danger to Abul, by chance the young man has been trained for years by Jamal to face danger without delay, and more... for the first time there is a sign of hope.

Abul remembers trollish sculptures in the rubble and now attuned with his Pelandan childhood, thinks of them with the eye of the people who invented Art. Graylor is right, there is something here, something weird, something crude but meaningful.
- "You want me to learn their language?" he asks with a hoarse voice. "I have seen Timmy. He is small and weak. I don't fear him, I would probably beat him easily with one single bare hand... well, I can try to follow your Jalmari philosophy, I can learn from them, listen to their accursed evil tongue and try to discern some meanings in these growls..."

Jamal quietly says some words in the Carmanian tongue and Abul answers with a sign of obedience with his head.
He addresses to Dori unsurely:
-"My father advises me to go further with this ordeal and with your permission to take a... prisoner with me for the moments when Timmy will not be available... So..."

He turns in the direction of the trolls, repeating in his head the words of a ancient prayer from a people created by their gods for simple pleasure and joy and who had to suffer the eternal domination of more arrogant civilizations, from the mythic Dara Happa to the current Lunar Empire.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain..."

Walking towards the tied trolls and looking for one he could handle alone, something extraordinary happens...
At first the trolls remain unconcerned as if Abul is nothing to them, then the biggest and meanest ones become quite agitated as if they were surprised by Abul's presence. They growl to warn the others. The trollkins, already half-blinded by the daylight, begin to panic, searching around for an unknown threat.

Abul is quite astounded by the disorder he created. He chooses the smallest war trollkin he can find, but the creature seems to ignore the young man, just trying to flee in spite of his bonds. Finding strength in the fact that he inspires fear to his worst enemy, Abul remembers then how to deal with social inferiors, especially slaves... and beats the creature with one or two kicks. Strangely this seems to convince the trollkin that he will not be eaten immediately (who will lose time to beat his food so weakly?) and Abul, proud from his victory, comes back with the trollkin on a leash.

Grayor grins at the look on Abul's face pleased for the young man's triumph over his fear.

"You'll do alright Abul." He says to the young man. "Now go and see what you can learn from the sorry creature. Don't forget his viewpoint will be biased by his circumstances, just as the viewpoint of these monsters.." He kicks disdainfully at one of the darktroll corpses. "..would have been biased by their position in uz society."

Onward: Hunting trolls
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