Diplomacy - not

Back/up Clearing up | Hunting trolls | Pavis overall

Jamal watches as Egil and Graylor leave to start hunting the remaining trolls.

He smiles, let them have their fun, unfortunately there is the dry business of politics to deal with here, and the results are never quite as clear cut.

He turns to the Jalmari general, and places a consoling hand on his shoulder. "My condolences General Vur, it looks like your legion gave a good account in tough conditions"

Seledd and her golden retinue enter the room, exchange salutes with a laconic Siggyr, and approach Jamal and the General. Jamal's smile becomes forced, hiding his obvious dislike for the Second’s Hundred Thane. "Greetings Seledd, I'm glad that you could make it. May I introduce General Vur."

The look Seledd gives him combines distaste for the Seventh, awareness of his omission of her rank (most unusual for the usually overly-punctilious Carmanian!) and recognition that at least he introduced the "General" to her, not vice versa. To Vur, however, she shows nothing but respect.

"General. Your stronghold, I believe."

Vur looks around, apparently dazed by the destruction (not to mention the shock of previous events). "It was, yes."

"Then, sir, the Second Cohort of Hereward's Legion has the honour to report that the enemy within the walls has been fully subdued, and a combined force including your own troops has removed the external threat. The enemy retreat is not being actively pursued."

The shadow of a bitter smile crosses Siggyr’s face. One day, he thinks, you will pay for your arrogance Seledd. A memory of Whitewall and the Third rises like bile in his throat, but Siggyr has the discipline to remain rooted in the corner and trust Jamal to handle this.

The formal report seems to restore some of Vur's confidence, and his former military bearing starts to reappear.

"And, sir,” continues Seledd, “on a personal note, I would very much like to know how only three of your men managed to hold off several dozen trolls for that length of time. The use of killing zones seems to have been remarkably effective, even compared to your defence of Pavis ten years ago."

Jamal pauses at Seledd subtle slight, but does not let facade slip. "Yes, agreed the defence was indeed bravely and smartly done, we shall see that the dead are treated with honour in accordance to the wishes of your Lord. Such is the way of the Seventh, as the bravery of the fallen must be always honoured"

He lets the thought hang awhile for Seledd to pick up the obvious reference to Whitewall.

"Alas, we may have to return to matters more prosaic, namely the place that we have both sought, and the revelations of Dorinda and your man Graylor. I believe them of such import that our Lord Illig Stargazer should be brought here"

"Just a thought, perhaps your men may be honoured by taking there final journey from that place"

Jamal is careful not to mention the Jalmari until Vur indicates that he is ready to trust Seledd with this information.

"Revelations?" Seledd gives him a very sharp look at that. "What revelations? And Dorinda, if you have quite finished with those beasts, I believe you are due to be making a situation report at about this time?"

Dori straightens up from the final troll-who-doesn't-speak-Pavic and glances outside at the dawn light. "Yes, ma'am. Much of the report is now redundant, of course, since you have anticipated us somewhat. Still, at least reporting face to face allows more detail than using runners." A quick exchange of glances with Siggyr - both of them, as Hereward devotees, can use the North Wind to report, and for battlefield command when needed - Seledd, whose magical strength comes from Rigsdal, has to rely on runners.

She sketches a quick map in the dust on the remains of a table. "We're here - the Real City's there - the place we were after is beyond it there."

"We left most of our men guarding it. We had just concluded discussing some preliminary mutual agreements on ownership with General Vur when we became aware of the troll attack here and moved to deal with it. Incidentally, while I haven't been able to discover much, it seems that the trolls had been watching this place for some time, and made the most of their opportunity when the General's men moved out in force to - talk to - us. I'm afraid I have no idea why they were so interested, though."

Seledd turns. "Preliminary agreements? Have you been exceeding your orders again, Siggyr?"

Siggyr’s voice is flat and cold. ”No Lady, merely following them. As you may recall I was ordered to secure the site, and as I answer to Lord Illig on this…”

"Oh, I doubt if Lord Illig will object, ma'am," Dori interjects hastily. "Not to the general principle that was all we'd decided, anyway. General, if you would...?"

Vur draws himself up, dusting down his coat and looking at Seledd as if only just aware that he was in the presence of a woman. "Ah - yes. The temple remains the property of the Herewardi, naturally. By right of possession, and," he sighs, his confusion very apparent, "and by the way our God, to whom it is dedicated, seems to have accepted you as being there by right."

”Indeed, General,” responds Siggyr. “We have all had to display adaptability in this matter. I think there will be some interesting conversations between yourself, Lord Illig, and the devotees of both Gods in days to come. You see, Lady, this is a matter of Temple more than a strictly military question.”

Seledd looks from the face of Vur to those of the Hereward devotees, Dorinda and Siggyr. Despite her military seniority, their position in the Temple outranks her, and Siggyr has just, for the first time, insisted on it. Her eyes narrow at the public rebuke. “Very well, Siggyr. We shall wait and see what Lord Illig has to say about all this, and for your sake, you had better be right.”
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