Back up Pavis overall

Yenda meets the Yelornans

Yenda understood, now, why Dori had had that air of slight amusement when she'd asked about the man-hating Yelornans. True enough, many of them were just as she'd imagined, especially their priestess. But some of the other women there - well, they weren't Yelornans, that was the point. Lay worshippers, perhaps, but with red hair. Dori had said the Vingan temple in town was almost empty, and this was why. She hadn't expected news of Egil's capture to be met with "ooh, the good-looking one?", but the response had been as prompt as they could have hoped for. A small troop of cavalry headed off, leaving only those too inexperienced to face the Devil's Playground behind. And those, of course, were the ones they were here to teach. Mainly Vingans - Yelornans preferred the spear. And the frank conversation had continued during the training session - far from being the pure maidens she had expected, many of these women were older than her and far more experienced in, well, all that sort of thing. She'd never thought of Egil that way before. She'd certainly never thought of Graylor that way before, well, not really.

But now they were on their way back, and she was doing a job she understood. Watch out for ambushes. And she was Jalmari-trained, and these other two, much though Graylor respected this “Legion”, weren't. She was just feeling happily smug about that when Dori jerked to a halt, then started towards cover, drawing her sword as she moved. "Attack - but where..?" Yenda spun round, looking in vain for the threat. The Legion wyter, of course, they actually used the Sword, direct. And then there was a series of twangs, and something hit her in the leg. She heard Elendala cry out at the same time, and as she fell, saw Dori's sword go flying. They'd shot it out of her hand? Dori turned, her shield angling to the direction of the shot, reaching for her dagger, and a cold North wind started to howl. There was movement behind and above her, Yenda started to call a warning, but too late. A big man had appeared on the roof behind her, and leapt down, bearing her to the ground. He must have been twice her weight, and powerfully built, strong fingers reaching for her throat and pressing hard. Dori struggled for a moment, then went limp.

Their attackers appeared now, three of them, four? They looked - like Dori? Yelmalian, must be. Tough men, competent, professionals. Staying well away from her, out of sword-reach even if she could draw before they were on her. One of them picked up Dori's fallen sword, dropped it hastily into a sack, wincing as light and fire flared from it at his touch.

The big man was getting back to his feet now, breathing hard, and something about their body language changed. They feared him. And then she saw his face, and she understood why. There was no sanity there, only the frenzied desperation of a berserk. He stood, still holding Dori by the throat, lifting her easily with one hand. He couldn't be that strong, nothing human was that strong. She reached out with Jalmari senses, recoiled, puzzled. Chaotic, but not. He was staring at Dori with an expression she couldn't read - lust, hunger? Shaking in the grip of some violent emotion, but she couldn't tell what it was. He held her out to one of the men, almost thrusting her from him. "Take her - take her away."
The underling had merely human strength - he hoisted her over his shoulder, backed off warily. "Where to?"

"South - Devil's Playground - Parus' tunnels - you know!"

He was panting now, looking round for something, someone?

"These others? Want them silenced?"

"Just go! All of you - no, not you." He beckoned to the youngest. The others needed no further telling, and retreated rapidly into the distance while the junior approached. "Boss?"
"Come - here." The words were jerky now. And the boy didn't move fast enough, the big man reached out, grabbed him. "You - do." Afterwards, Yenda realised that the white, sick terror on his face meant that he must have known what was coming. But at the time, she didn’t even understand what she was seeing, couldn’t believe the eyes that told her she had just seen a man have his throat torn out. And – he – was – drinking – no. No, it couldn’t be. It couldn’t be real. That was one of his own men!

She looked back. The body was on the floor. The big man was leaning back against the wall, blood on his lips. Shaking, still – no – sobbing? None of this made any sense!

And then he was off, running. Running south, far faster than he should be able to. They were alone. They – Elendala? She’d heard her go down…

“I’m here.” The voice was weak, but alive. “Gut-shot, but here.”

At least she wasn’t alone, not in this madness. Elendala was sane, and older. “Was that the vampire?”

“It’s broad daylight. And no Carmanian accent.” Elendala’s voice was level, forced that way. “I don’t know what that was, but I know who it was.”

“Huh?”

“Cavos Gilthelm. I remember him from Yellow Sky. Dori’s father.”

Yenda hobbled over to Elendala, who was pale and starting to shake, they needed help. Elendala had wasted no time in getting to work on her own wound. She had ripped herself a pad of cloth and was staunching the worst of the bloodflow. A strip of cloth was ready to tie it all in place. "Why don't you go and get help? I have this covered, literally, though I wish I could do a job like those unicorns. Dori is no mean teacher and this is a clean cut, but I can't walk with out it repoening."

"Unicorns! Yes, of course I'll go back to their temple and raise some help. The men on Zebra Bridge may do something for us." Swiftly Yenda hacked off a branch from a nearby tree to help support he weakening leg and set off back to the bridge. Before she arrived however she met Hildian, her sparing partner of the last two hours, riding Milia her unicorn.

"Help us Hildian, we were ambushed!" Yenda cries out. "Elendala's badly hurt and Dori has been taken."

"What? Where is Elendala? Never mind get up behind me and show me." Hildian nudged Milia closer to Yenda. The unicorn sniffed carefully at Yenda and approached happily.

"I can't, I got an arrow in my leg." Yenda winced as her leg collapsed under her as she tried to get onto the unicorn. Milia, lowered her head and sniffed Yenda's leg. Then very tenderly the unicorn touched the wound with the tip of her horn and a brief flash of gold showed. Yenda's leg had healed. Hildian raised her eyebrows but made no comment. She held out her arm to Yenda and swung her onto the back of Milia. Together they rode to where Elendala lay. Yenda dropped off the unicorn and bade Milia heal Elendala. Milia skittered nervously sideways and refused to go nearer to Elendala. A behaviour that caused Elendala to laugh despite the pain.

"Don't I match up to your exacting standards eh!"

Hildian had the grace to blush before she laughed; whilst Yenda looked at the two women in astonishment. Eventually Hildian persuaded Milia to heal Elendala.

"Our thanks to you Hildian and Milia. We will not forget this kindness. But now we must get back to our camp and report Dori's abduction." With that the two women mark their location and run off back to the Humakti temple. As they approach they see a scouting band leave the temple headed by Graylor.

"Graylor wait we have more bad news! Siggyr will need to hear this too."

A very short time later they had related their encounter to Siggyr and Graylor. Yenda and Graylor use the sword of truth to swiftly exchange all the details.

"Ah hells, what has that girl got herself into now!" Siggyr cursed. "I'm too involved in this magical assault on that dratted vampire to spare any efforts to rescue lost ten-thanes. Braveheart says she is still alive though."

"Then let me go sir. If they are heading to the rubble as Yenda said then we may stand a good chance of intercepting them. I can track Cavos and hardly be in the Devil's Playground ready for the assault," comes Graylor's swift response.

"Alright, but don't be late for the vampire. That has to take precedence."

"Graylor, what do you think that Cavos has become? I got the impression that he was chaos but the feeling was masked or suppressed," asked Yenda.

"I don't know; I certainly detected nothing about him when I met him in Pavis. That suggests that he has some power to mask what he is. Maybe you cought him at the right moment, when he couldn't suppress his appetite. I would suggest that he turning into an ogre, but for the fact he drank blood rather than eating flesh," Graylor speculated.

"There are so many cults that promote the drinking of blood as ritual. Though, this was definitely more a necessity than ritual. Could he be a pre-vampire, they certainly drink blood and are not so vulnerable to sunlight?" Yenda added. "Why not kill Dori then? Why kill one of his own men?"

"Because he has need of her." Graylor looks startled as a thought occurred to him. "What if the two abductions are connected? Both Egil and Dori have been totally in their captor's powers and have not been killed when one would have expected them to. What if they are both required for the same ritual? If Calvos is a thrall then why not for our vampire?"

"If that is right then Parus' tunnels will lead to the vampires place and Egil," Elendala called excitedly. "Well, what are you waiting for? Get following those tracks and let me get my hands on those abductors!"

"Oh and a second thing." Graylor added. "I don't suppose you know where Dori's pack is? She mentioned that Cavos had left her a note with a map. It might be for the same place."

"That's no problem I'll find it now, and also Vindana. She is very good at interpreting maps of the rubble." With that promise Elendala disappeared into the camp.

"Oh marvellous, just what I need. Vindana's smug face disapproving of my peasants ways!" sighed Graylor.

"Hey, Graylor why so glum?" Mauvin called. "Gerras and I have been listening and we want to help. What was he wearing? Not red and black gear by any chance? It just seems, well, trollish behaviour. Maybe Zorak Zoran. Anyway we'll find out soon enough let get to this Parus' place. I'll see if I can get more rain to help us out."

Graylor's face lit up. "Great! You can help shield me from Vindana's scorn!"

Yenda speaks up. "You were asking about his appearance?" She goes quiet for a moment or two; she looks inward and closes her eyes as she starts to speak.

"He is tall, taller than Dori by a span of fingers. Blond hair, looking a little unkempt, brown eyes full of madness and hunger, his beard is short but again becoming ragged. He was dressed as a Yelmalian, short sandy tunic with some sort of emblem on the right breast, the laces on the tunic were undone. Tight fitting breaches in a slightly darker shade, these were tucked into knee length brown leather boots, laced up with different laces. He had a black leather belt with no weapons, though I suspect that he has a dagger in his right boot." Yenda opens her eyes and smiles. "That's all I got of him, I'm afraid he wasn't around long enough for a proper description. He looks like a typical Yelmalian, though his clothes gave the impression of a man who was rich but now has fallen on hard times."
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