Making new friends

Graylor returns to Karrath's side and sees Ravarina working on Karrath. "Can you reverse the damage that cursed plant caused or do we need to get him to other healers?"

"I'm doing what I can for him but much of what I am doing is simply keeping him alive and no more. More help would be appreciated." She looks round at the warriors and sighs. "I guess that I am all there is here! I'll prepare him so that you can move him out then."

Graylor sees Vesekor approaching. "What are your plans now? You seem to have cast yourselves free of the Lunar establishment. Do you have anywhere to go? I would offer you hospitality but it isn't mine to offer, though I will speak with my superiors as soon as they are free from their battles. I for one would welcome your intelligence on the workings of the Lunar Empire as I have little knowledge in that line. Ah I see that my ten-thane has finished with your former colleagues. I'll speak to her now."

Graylor walks over to where Dori and Hrolf have now finished with the remnants of the Marble Phalanx.

"Dori, can I have a word if you have the time?" Graylor asks and seeing a nod of assent continues giving a brief but detailed report of the situation out of the hearing of the Rinliddi. He finishes with the Rinliddi. "The Rinliddi have been helpful to us. They have cast themselves out from their former Lunar masters and are now independent. As far as I can tell they have been completely honest with me. He has been badly treated by his Superiors only six of his hundred survive their abuses. One of whom was Cavos. Vesekor was part of a squad that rescued the Rinliddi that Cavos had for sacrifice. I would recommend some form of alliance with them. I'm sure that they have information that will be useful about the Empire. Not only that their healer seems to be doing a good job in saving Karrath from the effects of that rampant rose."

Dori nodded rather absently. "Thanks Graylor. They sound OK but perhaps Hrolf should check them out. The information they have will certainly be useful. But where can we take them that is safe. I can think of three possibilities. The temple in Pavis which would leave them open to reprisals from the authorities. Vur's base which we have no right to do Vur is much wanted by the Lunars who don't know he is in the rubble. If they are spies then that is one secret that shouldn't be discovered. Finally there is the temple we discovered and I'm not certain they should know about that."

Graylor interrupted. "Hang on the place looks like a temporary training camp anyway and with the shelter that's over the entrance it's not an obvious temple. Should be OK for a couple of days, until we are more certain of these people."

"You are right. That's settled then; I'll let them know back at the temple then everything will be ready for our arrival." Dori then spoke quickly and quietly into the wind that rose around her. The sounds hardly made it to Graylor's ears, however he knew that Illig would be hearing the words clearly.

"OK, now introduce me to our new friends." As they walked through the carnage they had made, broo and Lunar bodies were everywhere. "Get someone to start burning these bodies, can't leave this many corpses around the place."

Graylor paled a little. "Don't you think that is a bit risky given where we are? The normal denizens of this place will do our tiding up for us. Though we should do something for the Lunars it seems dishonourable to leave them like this."

"Perhaps you are right. Since Anersh escaped I am sure that he will have informed the garrisons where he left us and they will come to collect their dead. But we can get a message to them as well to make sure."

With that they come to Vesekor and Graylor makes the introductions. "Vesekor Eagle's-son may I present Dorinda, Captain of the second ten, Seventh Cohort, Hereward's Legion."

"Pleased to meetcha. yeah, looks like we've gone and screwed ourselves good on this one, I'm just wondering if it's time to leave Pavis or hide out here in the Rubble. I've got an idea to take the heat off us for the short run, but eventually we're going to have to leave - without alerting the authorities."

"So, you guys hiring?"

"We are always on the lookout for suitable warriors and supporters that will bring credit to Hereward's Legion." Dori responded. "You could become part of the Auxilla and if you wish to study the mysteries of Hereward then a full place in the legion would be available. But first we'll take you to our camp near here where you will be out of casual view of the authorities."

"By the way ten-thane do you want me to deal with Cavos?" Graylor asks.

"Oh, thank you, see that it is properly burned."

Graylor takes the head and moves to a quiet spot and calls upon his Jalmari magic to destroy this thing of chaos. Nothing happens, puzzled he tries again and still nothing happens. Something makes him check for the presence of chaos and he finds nothing. "So Cavos' choice did make a difference." He thought. "I will remember to tell Dori." Quickly he gathered sufficient wood to make a normal fire and burned the head in a more conventional fashion.

Vesekor glances over to his men."hey you lot, don't just sit around on your hands. Police up the place. I know that Murenasav had that seeing-crystal, and Haranesh had that ever-full waterbottle. Make sure you don't bring any identifying stuff wioth you - small stuff only. And mark up that lot like they fought Keldax, you know how he likes to carve death-runes on his opponents. Oh, and swaop clothes with some bodies, and leave your cat-bells(1). I want to disappear as far as the local troops are concerned.

With practiced efficiency, the Rinliddi swarm over the bodies of the dead Dara Happans, splitting seams, turning out pouches, and grabbing what jewellery is visible. As if this was a signal others joined the Rinlidi. Yenda looks on in disgust at the antics and corse jokes that accompany the policing. That is until Vindana grabs her arm. "Come on! Dori will want us to get stuff too!"

"Too right I will." Dori says as she grabs Yenda's other arm. "We need information from these bodies, especially the leaders. They may have documents and orders that could be useful to us. You can read which will help, so get looking. You're looking for bags, pouches and that sort of thing. They may hide it under their clothes so do look properly. Some of those cat-bells may prove useful. "

Yenda starts on her task with reluctance. Very soon she found a waterproof pouch, though as she grabbed it a hand grabbed its strap and a pair of eyes opened and stared at her. Almost reflexively she stabs with her dagger beneath the eyes and their light goes out, the hand releases the bag too. She casually slings the bag over one shoulder and moves on. It takes a couple of minutes for the impact to sink in. She had killed in cold blood!

Dori having seen what happened called to Yenda. "Well done Yenda you saved that man a huge amount of suffering."

Yenda looked surprised and glanced back at the body. Sure enough the guy was in a bad way missing an arm and a huge gash in his side. Little enough else was gathered from the bodies.

Dori called for the assembly of the Humakti ready for Siggyr's orders.

As the group waits, there is a sudden shout from the lookouts, as a plume of dust appears on the horizon, and descends towards the collected Rinliddi and Humakti.

As the group get nearer, they see that is the newly formed Zebra-detachment headed by a wide-chested but well turned out warrior with a Bull-horned helm, and a strange black/white sword; at his side there are a motley collection of followers: another Bull man, but this one of more barbarian attire, he talks to another barbarian.There is a well dressed warrior, in a dressed similar style to the group's commander, a gauche adolescent, a obviously Humakt female warrior, who exchange smiles with one of Dorinda's followers. And most strangely of all, a small studious looking woman, with closely cropped gray hair, and a bizaarely dressed Praxian with a sword.

The commander glances around and the fallen Darra Happan phalangists. He smiles.

"Waleesha, Siggyr you appear to have been busy while I was cough otherwise engaged"

He tosses a large collection of Trollish-topknots to the ground, "Our tracker managed to lead us into a large group of dark-men" he states scowling at the Praxian.

"I also see we have some new acquaintances", he says nodding a bow at Vesekor.

"Greetings and may the blessings of Idovanus be on you" he says to the Rinliddi in perfect New Pelorian.

Jamal smiles and jumps from his mount "Well, isn't someone going to introduce me ?"

Graylor who happened to be closest spoke up. "Certainly Jalmal. May I present Vesekor eagle's-son, of the Ganbarri Ket, commander of the 4th Wing, Ganbarri Mounted Infantry. Vesekor may I present Jamal bin Jaran al'Awara, Captain of Hereward's Legion and follower of Bisos the Hazar."

Egil steps forward, stroking the horse's nose "As you can see they are Rinlidiots." His face betrays no amusement as he says this, indeed he wears his customary scowl.

As both men greet each other Graylor continues. "Vesekor has recently decided that his path no longer lies within the embrace of the Lunar empire, especially since the 4th Wing was decided to be a convenient sacrifice for the empire! Jalmal is determined that the Legion should have a section or two of cavalry and is trying to educate us ground fighters."

Jamal smiles again

"I think that decision comes to us all at some point, congratulations on the revelation" he says clapping the bird man on the shoulder.

As he gets closer, he gets a better view of Vesekor, and looks slightly taken aback.

"Haven't we met before ?"

Vesekor looks at him. "Well, you look kinda familiar... Wait, you were the one that busted up that mirror thingy, weren't you? We were simply trying to get away then, but that was you, wasn't it?"

Jamal nods, "A number of us where caught up in that vilest of deceits, and I think a number of yours fell to those acolytes of the false sun." He shrugs, "Still by the blessed light if Idovanus we are here."

Jamal regards the Rinliddi curiously, "I haven't seen Rinliddi scouts in these parts since being my posting to Imther, how did you end up getting posted to this remote outpost ?"

"Look guys I know we all enjoy reminiscing, but that is best saved for the feasting halls." Graylor smiles ruefully. "Or in our case the camp fire. Vesekor and his men will be returning to our camp so this can be postponed. Jamal, Karath is badly hurt he needs some serious healing and soon if he is not to die. Can you get our Zebra friends to help transport him? Where can we find one of the White Ladies who would be willing to come to us? I guess that the Lunars would be too interested in Karath's wounds to risk taking him back to the temple in New Pavis. I'm too new here to know what the best course of action is."

"There's healers coming out to meet us," says Dori. "Venharl at least, maybe even Benlan. We've got a safe meeting place arranged - well, safer than the Devil's Playground, anyway! A ruin, bit of a roof, no more than that." She looks round at the now rather large company. "I suppose our chances of getting this lot back to base without leaving tracks to show where we're going are minimal, but the rain will help. We meet up with the healers, then decide from there who goes back to the New City and who comes back with us."

"OK, but what about the Oilamley guys we caught earlier? We should take them with us and then sort out what happens to them." Graylor looks round for the prisoners. Slowly realisation dawns on him they had been left near where the rose demon had been planted. A pile of dried up husks was all that remained.

"Ah, Dori I don't think that we have to worry about them, the rose got them. In the excitement of the fight I forgot all about them. Poor buggers probably didn't deserve to die like that. But if they hadn't been in the Oilamley cult then they wouldn't have been in the position to be plant food!"

"Being tied up, helpless, knowing they were about to be sacrificed to some chaotic entity or other and there was nothing they could do about it?" She considers that for maybe a whole second. "Sounds fair enough to me. It was about their turn to be on the receiving end."

"When you put it like that it does seem to be apt," Graylor agrees.

"It seems a pity that Anerash wasn't part of that slaughter," Vesekor adds.

"Anerash? Is that the big one with the sword, or the little one who did the magic?" Dori frowns. "You know, I'm sure I've seen something like that gateway somewhere before."

"Anerash was the little one with the magic. He's some sort of official with the Department of Barbarian Affairs - going to far away places and stirring up trouble, that's his job. Dunno what, specifically, he was doing here, though. The other one was his bodyguard, an Urangar worshipper from Arir named Keldax."

"Keldax was one tough bastard, I'd like to meet him again one day." Egil seems to be slumping into melancholy as his rapture with Hu passes. "I figure I owe him one."

"Urangar worshipper? I can't say I've heard of that cult before. Some sort of specialist warrior god, I take it?"

"You could say that. He's the God of Bodyguards. He was the Red Goddess's personal bodyguard when she was still human. Worshippers are supposed to be willing to give their life for their charge, but they are also hellishly good fighters if they last any length of time."

Mauvin though remains cheerful as ever. "Typical of the Lunars to have a department of barbarian affairs and not even tell me. He wasn't really my type but if Anerash would like an affair I'm sure I could oblige." The blue man giggles at this.

Dori looks slightly puzzled at Mauvin's remarks, and ignores them.

Graylor sees the shock in Yenda's face as she registers Mauvin's words. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it.. nearly! I think that it comes from all the time they spen dancing, sky clad in the rain!"

Egil shrugs and Mauvins just grins widely.

"Well back to work for me, Dori I'm going to scout the route home." Egil states before he turns and heads off, followed silently by Mauvin and Gerras.

Dori raises an eyebrow, but does not stop him. There is a theory that one should ask permission of a ten-thane for one's actions, not merely inform them, but since Siggyr is now present, and Egil is in his ten, not hers....

She glances back at the remains of the command area, but Siggyr still seems to be absorbed in the dead body.

"All right, let's get moving. We're meeting the healers at a safe spot between Mani Fort and the river: Egil knows it, he found it."

The Yelornans are reforming, and she nods to their leader. "Adelsa, thanks for your help. I take it you'll be going back the quick way - well, except for Nayla, she seems to be helping transport the wounded." The Vingan they had met earlier is indeed helping load Karrath onto a zebra, and the paralysed Elgan is likewise being carried.

"Vesekor? I'd suggest you come with us at least as far as where we meet the healers, and to our camp after that if you like. We can hide you from the Lunars for a short while, though it won't be long before they realise where we're based. And after that - I've got a few possibilities for you. The Legion hire auxilia from time to time, and there's a job coming up that'll take us a long way from Pavis."

"Sounds good to us - while it'll probably be a while before news of our...survival reaches the command here, I don't think we really want to bring it to their attention - if they knew we come back without Anerash, that's sure to drop a feather in the soup.

"So, what's your pay scale? "

She smiles. "You're going to fit into the mercenary life-style fine, aren't you? Our payscale varies, depends on what we need and what you're offering, but slightly above market rate is the norm.

Hrolf's Ten have rejoined the group, as have Vur's men, Karrath's remaining followers are crowding around guarding their leader and swapping rather strained jokes, trying to keep up the pretence that there had never been anything to fear. And Siggyr is still contemplating the body. So far no-one's quite dared draw his attention. Dori sighs, looks around for any other options, doesn't find them. "Some things you just can't delegate," she murmurs to Graylor.

She walks over to where Aelf is still cleaning the intricate multi-bladed Thing he prefers as a weapon. "Is he all right?" Aelf just shrugs.

She steps between Siggyr and the body, forcing him to look at something else. "Sir. The cohort you command is about to leave. Are there any further orders?"

[Gap here for Guy to insert something - snap at her, follow in silence, whatever.]

The journey back is uneventful: even the denizens of the Rubble know better than to attack a group this size. The wounded do not have to be carried too far before they meet the Legion healers, accompanied by many of the heavy guard who had been left with Illig
at the temple, and some of the Second: Landros and Kaylee are with them. Benlan soon has Elgan mobile again, and even Karrath is shakily back on his feet, though with a stern admonishment to treat his newly regenerated liver with respect - no alcohol!

And then they are back at the camp. Vur's men will continue on from here to their own base, and Karrath's group will go in the same direction, using the tunnels to Gimpys to get back home.

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