Back/up Pavis overall

Graylor and Dori in Pavis

With his initiation into the secrets of Hereward due soon, Graylor has been trying to learn as much as he can. He finds it remarkably hard to get what one might normally regard as straight answers - one thing he is beginning to understand is their genuine belief that there are many paths to the Truth, and that as long as the path is honourable, each is equally valid. It is for each to find his own path, and their reluctance to give definite answers is not out of any desire to hide secrets but from an unwillingness to accidentally mislead him by presenting their own personal Truth as the only way.

He talks to all the Herewardi devotees, seeing the cult from different angles. Some are more willing to help than others - all are busy. Dori at least will always find him time, taking her orders to trust him seriously. But even she is too busy with her other duties to simply sit and chat - he has to follow her as she goes about other things.

So it is that they are walking through the New City together, returning from one of Dori's visits to the main temple. Dori is careful, always - they never use the same route, they avoid public areas, she never dresses in a way that labels her as Humakti from a distance, but even so, as they pass through the edges of Sun Town, she breaks off the latest description of the Truewind. "We're being followed." Graylor hadn't noticed anything, but doesn't argue as she turns down an alley next to them. She knows this area, even though it's changed since her childhood here. She glances back. "Wyter warned me. Someone wants to... oh, drat." A group of men appear at the entrance to the alley. No uniforms, but that undefinable something that says "soldier", and "Lunar soldier" at that. Off-duty heavy infantry, and looking for some very specific trouble. She grabs his arm, pulls him round the next corner. "Not sure if they saw where we went.... look, it's me they're after. You can get clear."

"Come now Dori, I'm not about to abandon you now. Our gods got us to meet and I'm not about to let some Lunar scum prevent our lords work from being completed. There must be some alternative route out of here. From what I have seen with you Pavis is almost nothing but back routes."

"All right." She flashes him a quick smile. "Up here, then, quick, it bends enough they can't see far." But as they approach the far end of the alley, perhaps twenty yards and three dog-legs long, they hear more Lunar voices beyond it. The words aren't clear, but the fact that a group of soldiers are being given orders is, as is the fact that they are starting to move down the alley.

"Oh, wonderful. They've planned this." The alley runs behind some large warehouses, with no entrances at ground level on this side. On the other side are the backs of various residences, and some of the outbuildings might offer a chance. She tries one - locked. And the next.

And then a door opens, and a man's voice, not loud, but urgent. "This way - quick!"

Graylor quickly assesses the situation. It looks like the only way out, still. These Lunars have been well co-ordinated, perhaps this is also their doing. He unlocks Humakt's power to test if this is another ambush.

"Sense ambush" confirms that the soldiers at either end of the alley are indeed an ambush. It says nothing about the possible way out.

Relieved that this is not part of the Lunar ambush he gratefully accepts the offer, though he doesn't let down his guard. "Thank you neighbour. Dori let's get inside."

She's got a puzzled frown of semi-recognition on her face, but follows his lead, and the door is shut behind them. Inside the house it's dark after the sun-lit street, but there's more bright light from another door at the other side.

Graylor pauses at the door, taking the time to throw the bolts.

"Through and out - they'll look here." It's a deep voice, from a powerfully built man, and he's clearly used to command and to being obeyed. Graylor vaguely registers something odd about him, something he should recognise, but not in this place, these circumstances.

Dori stops dead in her tracks. "You! Why?" She backs towards the outer door, clearly ready to defend from an attack, and half-drawing her sword.

But the man makes no aggressive move.

Protectively Graylor steps round the man placing himself between Dori and the stranger, hands on swords. He studies the man with all his Jalmari trained senses trying to fathom out what is odd about him.

Graylor does not recognise this man, not even from a description. He looks like a standard Sun Domer, in so far as he can tell in the dim light. Dori's half-drawn sword of course gives out the Death-light, which helps a little. Bearded, standard dress, he's a typical Yelmalian civilian. He isn't illuminated, as far as Graylor can tell. He isn't Chaotic. Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to be a danger, despite Dori's obvious distrust.

"You know why, Dorinda." He's ignoring Graylor, all his attention is on the woman, eyeing her almost hungrily. "Think about it. You know why. If I had known it was you, the last time we met, things would have gone differently."

"I just bet they would." Her tension hasn't slackened in the least. The tramp of heavy feet is outside the door they entered by, now.

"Dori, we really haven't got time, what ever is between you two will have to wait. Let's go. We can return to complete the introductions later."

There's a thump on the door they entered by.

"You're right. We can return later, and we will, at least I will. There's business here that needs finishing, but not in Lunar company."

She backs off, out of the far door, checks the street quickly and then nods for him to follow.

Graylor follows. As soon as they had put some distance between themselves and their would-be hunters, he starts to ask the numerous questions that had been running round in his mind. "Who was that back there? From the look on your face his rescuing us was as welcome as stepping in Broo dung. What's going on?"

"I wish I knew." She's frowning, puzzled more than angry or afraid, now. "I don't object to being rescued, but why he would want to is beyond me. Cavos Gilthelm. The last time we met he was trying to sacrifice us to his reversed version of Yelmalio. Not Truth and Light, but Deception and Darkness. As I say, we'll have to go back there. Maybe I should have killed him now, but I want to know why... oh, unless...." her voice trails off.

They walk a few yards further in silence then she starts again, softly. "I never told you that, did I? Didn't want to think about it, I suppose. Benlan said I've got to face it, though, it's no good hiding from it or pretending it happened to someone else. The truth always hurts, the sword always has sharp edges..... If I hadn't severed from my kin, Cavos would be my father."

"By The Sword. Your own father!" Graylor curses. "I had thought that my dad was heartless, but he was just Humakti. No wonder you reacted as you did."

She hesitates again, then forces herself to go on. "And the previous time he thought sacrificing me to his Oilamley was a good idea, it was sub-lethal. He wanted a divine child, or something like that. I was thirteen..."

"He's done this twice and still lives! If it wasn't for those cursed Lunars I'd insist that we should go back and finish this. But the first time, you said he wanted a divine child. Does that mean that he was going to be the divine agent? I hope you escape before that happened." A black look crosses his face. "If you didn't he has a hard reckoning in front of him and I vow that I will be there to see him face it."

"Oh, he's done this a lot more than twice, to others. Repeating the procedure on one victim isn't normally an option, and from the look of what happened when he tried it, it makes his magic go very badly wrong. But yes, that first time, he was the agent, and no, I didn't escape. The child was born in due course, and.... " she hesitates again, looks round, then goes on: "and he was told it had died at birth. I only found out myself what had happened in the last few weeks - the magic he uses steals memories before it steals life, and most of mine had been blanked. Getting the whole lot back at once was - interesting."

"I'll bet, half a lifetime's worth of experiences in one shot would leave most people gibbering insanely."

"It did, more or less. That's why I resigned as tenthane for a while, I was having real trouble sorting out what had just happened and what had happened twenty years ago. Still, even that's all for the best, it gave Jamal a chance to prove himself. And I'm sorted out now, Benlan made sure of that."

She shrugs, dismissing the trauma as a past event, and her bleak expression turns to a grin. "You may have to join the queue for that hard reckoning, though. Most of the cohort who were there the last time we met have something similar in mind: they've dealt with most of his followers already. In fact - don't let Kristen know he's been found, will you? She's already put on the warpaint, and I want answers before she kills him."

The thought of what a devotee of Babeester Gor might do under these circumstances is perhaps too horrible to contemplate, but it certainly doesn't seem likely to leave anything able to respond to questioning.

"Why? Why in the world would he rescue me? It just doesn't make any sense at all. He can't be repenting, trying to make up, surely?"

"It is possible, but such men rarely understand repentance. Except that they present the face of repentance as a means to avoid punishment."

The baffled look turns to a rueful smile, and she adds: "You see why my view of Hereward is biased towards the leader who does not betray his followers."

"I can see why you chose the paths you have. You have placed yourself in the hands of the most honourable group of people I have ever met. It makes me ashamed to admit that I thought Honour one of Humakt's weaker powers and have much neglected it. Now I shall work hard to be able to master this power."

Graylor grins lifting his mood. "I spent too long in the halls of the temple practising and need to be out in the world actually doing. For only through application can you truly understand the theory."

"You look like you could do with a drink." Graylor holds up his hands to forestall any protests that Dori may make. "I know no alcohol. Have you tried those sherbet that Jamal is always going on about?"

"I don't think I ever have, no. There never seems to be time - but I suppose finding out where sells Carmanian drinks, and why, is useful intelligence, of a sort." She grins back. "Lead on, then."

And, as they walk towards wherever he had in mind: "If you think Honour magic is weak, you should have seen what Hrolf did to Cavos' temple. The whole thing just turned to dust and blew away. Power isn't what it's about, though, at least not to my mind. It's more that if you don't have honour in everything you do, it's all pointless."

"That's what I've noticed about the Herewardi. You all live it, and not just as a surface decoration as many Humakti I know. For them it's something akin to the please and thank you your mother beat into you as a child. I think that the Jalmari could do with a good dose of Herwardi honour to shake them up. I'm sure that a number of my comrades back in the temple would be much better knights for it." Graylor looks round the corner and sees the sign that he is looking for. "Here we are. Jareen's, Jamal said that they serve a passable sherbet here, though the best ones are in the Lunar controlled districts. Though I suspect that we wouldn't manage a quiet drink there!"

Just before they enter Graylor quietly turns to Dori. "You must go back to Cavos and find out his truth. I will accompany you. You can rely on a Jalmari to find the truth first, and be very patient for justice. Let's find out if there is any of your real father left, or whether the darkness has him completely."

"Thank you," she says quietly. "He's not my father, of course, not after the Severing, whether he realises that or not. But he's still a human being. And if he really didn't know it was me, back at the temple - he never has tried to kill me. Oh, he deserves death for everything else he's done to others, there's no question about that. But if I could be sure that when I kill him, it really is justice, not revenge, if I could forgive him first, so I can regret his death instead of enjoying it... ah, maybe I'm hoping for far too much. It's just wishful thinking. Come on, let's have that drink."

When they get back, Dori finds Vindana in the library (as ever!). "Job for you, in the New City. There's a house on the edge of Sun Town, I want to know who owns it - or rather, what false name it's in. You can find that out from the Pavis temple, right?"

"'Course I can, assuming those incompetents managed to write it down properly. They'll make a note of who asked, though."

Dori considers this, but only for a moment, then smiles. "Fine. Don't hide it. Even tell them it's on my behalf, if you like - but give the city temple as an address, if they need one. Oh, and don't go to the house yourself. You do the brain-work, leave the dangerous bit to us."
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