Who's nicked me sword?

The floor is hard, harder than sleeping on the ground, but he is very tired, and drifts easily into slumber. And dreams. The whole day, and the night before it, had seemed dreamlike in many ways. He relives them, now, his perspective almost detached.

Down, into the darkness of the Underworld, taken by a guide who was as untrustworthy as it was possible to be, his opposite in every way: and therefore, predictable. Facing, and challenging, Vivamort: taking a power from him that he did not understand. Using that power, testing it, making it his own. This could not be allowed to fall into unworthy hands. He had seen the horrors of power wielded by those with no honour. So, now.....? Anticipation, almost dread. What was to come?

He wakes, suddenly, with a sense that something is wrong. Silence. Darkness. But something, something, is not right. Something has happened. Instinctively, he reaches for Barzaad's Tooth: and does not find it.

A wave of panic washes over him, finding himself defenceless against unknown foes was not something he enjoyed, but he feels Hu's power surging through him still and is comforted that even without Barzaad's Tooth he is not without a weapon. He looks around in the dark and slowly realises he must be in hell or some other place on the heroplane. Then he thinks of his sword, there are two candidates for its theft, Vivamort and Eurmal. The first being too cowardly to attempt such a brazen act means it must have been the second. He rouses himself and stands up before looking for a suitable place to hunt the thief. Almost unknowingly his Visage of Fear creeps onto his face.

This place is the start. His place, his beginning. His hall. The silence is not complete: the one who is his Other within these halls snores, gently. And something else has changed. Air movement. A gentle gust of wind blows past him.

A strange, yet familiar, sense of dual perception, here. His two worlds are almost identical, but not quite. Far away and beyond two doors, quiet voices and the rustle of scrolls come from the temple library. Remote, almost unreal, unless he concentrates on them. If he does, he can almost remember that his slumbering mirror-partner had a name, once. But on either level, his sword is gone, and a new wind disturbs the sanctum.

Egil flails around for his sword feeling irked when it doesn't come immediately to hand. He begins to look more earnestly and soon finds the sword has indeed gone. Inside his blood feels as if it has just come to the boil and the rage in him he has kept suppressed all through the day now vents itsself. He begins yelling, "RIGHT, WHICH ONE OF YOU BASTARDS HAS GOT MY SWORD? ITS NOT BLOODY FUNNY YOU KNOW? IN FACT IF ITS NOT BACK IN MY HAND BY THE TIME I REACH THE LIBRARY YOU'RE GOING TO WISH YOU'D PISSED OFF AELF AND NOT ME."

Graylor wakes suddenly in the middle of the night. The last tenuous threads of a most unpleasant dream still drift through his mind. He woke as he was being pulled asunder, even as he tries to remember more details the last wisps of memory fade, leaving him with only a strong feeling of unease. As always his Jalmari mental training kicks in, almost automatically, to analyse the problem. He looks round and sees the camp as it should be and decides that the support of Jalmar may well calm his anxieties so he heads to the temple to pray for guidance. As he walks to the temple he buckles on his blades, their weight on his hips reassuring. As he descends the stairs he starts to draw his sword to light the way with the deathlight only to find that the place is already bathed in that familiar black light. What is going on? He thinks to himself. Blades ready he goes to investigate.

Egil's face now has the same shade as the crimson moon in the sky. Trembling slightly he grabs a broadsword off of a nearby rack and stalks down towards the library and the scholars in there. Seeing Graylor in the hall he stops for a moment, scans him for signs he may have Barzaad's Tooth before continuing on.

Graylor barely has a chance to register Egil's anguished cry before he sees the man himself. This time it is more than his eyes that are flickering whole aspects of his face and body are constantly bluring and then resolidifying. Egil was obviously deeper in his own quest.

"Hey Egil?" He called out questioningly. "There's no one her who would play such a joke on you. You're barely in this plane anymore. You need to think mythically." The last was said to Egil's back as he disappeared into the library. Graylor hastened to follow.

He grabs Vern by the scruff of his neck and pulls him close, "You don't have to tell me where he went, I just want a name. Who's got my sword? You lot must have seen him pass."

"Seen who pass? No one has been out of the temple in the last few minutes. Come on Egil, slow down and let us catch up with you. Describe what you have just been through."

The anger slowly releases itsself from him, although it is still bubbling just under the surface. "I thought I was dreaming but I'm not sure. I was in His hall, resting. When I woke Barzaad's Tooth was gone and a breeze was blowing through the place. I felt like someone else and all I could think of was, Eurmal must die. Then I saw myself lying here and heard voices in the library, my sword was gone so I started to hunt for it."

"Hmm.. a breeze you say, that's not Eurmal's style, that's more Orlanth he's the windy one!" Graylor pauses for thought. "I have heard the myth of Humakt told where Orlanth, wearing the Sandals of Darkness, steals death from Humakt directly and not the trickster. You are still more on the heroplane than with us in the mortal plane. I guess that your quest is taking over. We need to help you complete it as soon as possible. I suspect that the thief is not in the mortal world at all. I'll gladly travel with you to find the thief. Do we have time to rouse any others?"

Aelf rises from a deep, and apparently loud, slumber with a groan. Rubbing his head he vaguely recalls an ale or seven. That familiar pain, plus the chamber pot taste in the mouth, confirmed it. He stood gingerly and fumbled around for his tunic in the dark.

"Deathlight my arse."

Even at arm's length his tunic stank, well worse than usual. It must have been a good evening. Just then it dawned on him, it was still the middle of the night. "People know I don't sleep well unless it's a temple to the Lord...and how many days a year does that happen? Count them on one hand. No respects for another man's geases...that's the problem..." he grumbled.

More commotion from down the corridor. Maybe this was more serious than revelers pissing about. It seemed rather unlikely that they were under attack. You'd have to be ...well stupid to attack a temple full of Humakti.

More noise, shouting this time. He got suddenly alert, a little adrenalin starting to flow. Never can tell, this rubble place was full of dumb but rather dangerous creatures. Throwing the tunic aside and grabbing his baleful blade the Kargani leaves the room in a hurry.

Prowling along the cold stone floor he quickly nears the source of the commotion. Without pause Aelf leaps around the corner, right in front of Graylor, Egil and Vern. The Far Walker is garbed only his underbreeches and a maniacal look. A weapon so horrific it looks like some nightmare instrument of torture held in both hands.

"Come on then, who's first?" he roars.

Egil smiles a strange smile, seeming far away again on the heroplane. He bows low towards Aelf before speaking, "Master, I believe going skyclad into battle requires the removal of underthings. Modesty is not required on the battle field. Right now we have a more serious problem. A thief has been in our house and stolen Death from my side as I slept. We need to take steps to recover it before doom falls upon the world."

Aelf is clearly rather peeved that there isn't some mass melee in progress. Not trying to conceal his disappointment the devotee eyeballs the group, swaying slightly, obviously still the worse for ale. His thoughts vocalized as a slurring mumble he accounts for those present.

"Graylor, Jalmar Knight...illuminated...(tuts and shakes head)...Egil, Hu...heroquesting...(puzzled expression)...Vern...(distasteful scowl) worming scribbler..."

Aelf takes a moment to re-arrange the contents of his underbreeches. Sauntering over to the flickering Egil he slaps him on the back as unruly as ever.

"None of this Master nonsense. No ranks, no brass, we are all equal in the House of the God. Sword brothers, plain and simple. We stand like great iron clad giants in an endless sea of conflict, back to back we fight, besting deadly foes and impossible odds until the God takes us for keeps..."

The Kargani turns to Vern and scowls intently "Well, apart from the eunuch scribe that is".

With a dismissive snort his gaze rests on Graylor. Aelf is thinking and you can almost smell the wood burning...

"You Jalmari are known for smoking out hidden foes. Stealing a Man's weapon and desecrating the God's house is a serious matter. A grin appears on the Far Walker's face, clearly much happier now that bloodletting is on the cards. "Use your sensing magics and we'll slot the bastard."

"Ah, you don't have all the truth of the Knights of Jalmar. Yes we find hidden foes but only when truly bearing the secret taints of chaos. In this case I suspect that Jalmar's magic will be of no help to us." Graylor pauses to think.

"Vern didn't you mention the last Jalmari died here protecting the last route to the Uz or some such? If we are talking troll routes wouldn't that mean a tunnel of some sorts? Vern can you find that reference quickly? Get Yenda to translate any Jalmari codings on the page, if there are any. I'm going to have a look round here, maybe Jalmar's light will uncover some details hidden to normal sight."

"I don't know how fast it will be, but I will see what more I can find." Vern heads purposefully towards the shelves.

Egil snatches up his old blade off of the racks, "Just 'cos he nicked my new sword it doesn't mean I have to go unarmed. Right the Graylor lets find the bolt hole this little rabbit used."

Vern leads Yenda to the shelves full of temple chronicles, and pulls down the relevant ledger (1246, vol 3). "There, you see? Berendor, Lord of the Temple, dies defending the last route to our Uz allies. Against chaos attack... bodies retrieved, entrance sealed... and it goes on to the politics of electing the next Lord. Oh, and a cross-reference. Some notes left by Berendor at the time. Let's see if we can find that."

A single, battered sheet. Hard to find even with this detailed filing system: it's a good job Vern has been down here learning how it works. A few brief words, and a signature.
"We will not retreat. The route to the temple of our Kaarg allies is closed, the way to our brothers at the Gate and on the Hill is taken, and the water rises. We will hold off the Chaos for as long as we are able, to give our comrades as much time as possible to seal the entrance from above. The drum signals through the tunnels tell of the enemy advance, and warn of their numbers. We will not retreat."
Berendor Fundinsson, Lord of the Temple.

Yrsga is a lithe, athletic and very attractive young women with considerable thieving expertise. She learned to survive in Portside (or Poorside to some), a sprawling shanty town of foreigners, outcastes and refugees that hides under the shadow of the great city of Nochet. It is here she met Aelfwyrd, more brother and sister than romantic relationship, and for some reason left the only life she had ever know. Yrsga is a clever and resourceful fighter, known for precise, agile attacks and speedy getaways. Her growing hand-to-hand combat skills are augmented by considerable streetwise which has made her a useful, if rather unusual, addition to the Legion. While her good looks and single status has generated considerable interest Ysrga's relationship with the Far Walker limits most sensible Legionaires to polite conversation. In truth, Yrsga was a very capable young woman, well used to fending off far worse than the amorous advances of hot blooded soliders. Her calling is to Rigsdal, marked for all to see during the Starwatch ceremony. Landros has recently overseen her initiation and remains the one who can make her blush. In addition, it has not gone unnoticed by the Raven that Yrsga has a rather useful curriculum vitae.

Yrsga, like all good Rigsdali was keeping a vigil. It did not matter that this was not her watch rotation and that she should be sleeping. "Always keep one eye open..." It was a fine night for prowling, and watching the Legion's back was her purpose now. There was Aelfwyrd as well; she had not seen him all day. The Far Walker had been calm of late, no doubt due to the sleeping arrangements, but she would check in none the less.

Stalking into the temple Yrsga could hear much animated discussion from down the corridor. Carefully picking her way along the wall she listens in. It sounded like someone had gotten inside and Aelf was going to 'slot the bastard'.

"Typical, another fine evening down the..." she thought.

Stepping forward from the gloom Yrsga makes herself known.

"You know what they say. It takes a thief to catch a thief"

"In that you may be right." Graylor responds, somewhat open mouthed. He hadn't remembered seeing such a good looking lass in the legion. "Let's search the armoury for the way the thief got in and out. If you can put your skills to it I'll add Jalmari illumination and we'll see what's there. Ah and boots of, it will be easier to see footprints if we know that only the thief is wearing boots."

Yrsga had heard very little of the mysterious Graylor the Knight of Jalmar. Maybe the Rigsdali would find out a little more but she certainly wouldn't let it show..not yet. Yrsga all but blanks Graylor and starts to examine a nearby wall.

As they entered the armoury, Aelf's domestication of the place was obvious, a pile of junk was thrown against one wall to clear himself space for his pallet under a rack of assorted weaponry. Graylor focused the Jalmari light as much as he was able and concentrated on the walls looking for entrances. Yrsga starts at Egil's bed and works outwards. Alef, moves between the two, impatient to be after the villain.

Behind Aelf's pile of junk Graylor notices some glowing lines that respond only to the Jalmari illumination. On closer inspection the lines form a rectangular frame. The frame is filled with runes of power, Graylor rapidly realises that this is a powerful warding. Now his attention is on the area he can see that there is a door within the lines and what is more the door is open! Though try as he might he can't open it any further than the few inches that it has been opened already. Aelf's junk had stopped it from opening any further.

"Hey, I've found a hidden door here. Don't think that anyone could have got through though. It only opens a couple of inches. Unless.. I know Yinkini have magic to squeeze through narrow places. Does anyone know if Orlanthi can get the same magic?"

Yrsga comes over to have a look at the door, an the way she spots something, a feint smudge on the floor. "Well look at that, the thief does leave tracks after all! I have a genuine footprint here. Only one though and very light. Might be using some sort of magic to hide his tracks. From what I have heard round here this all fits with the capabilities of Desemborth."

"But how did he escape?" Graylor asks, and without waiting for anyone he supplies the answer. "Some Orlanthi are able to teleport aren't they? Perhaps he teleported or the wind blew him back to his home temple? Well Egil, this is your show. As far as we can tell Orlanth, in some form has your sword. Shall we go and call on him and get it back?"

The fire is blazing in his eyes again as the anger over the theft of his blade again bubbles up. "Well I think we need to get past that door and beyond to catch the bugger, then Aelf can have what's left afeter me and Hu have finished with him." He wanders over and leans on the doorway "If only this stupid door knew that just because I'm not a Jalmari it doesn't mean I'm not a friend."

The door doesn't shift (well it worked for Gandalf) and Egil kicks at the junk angrily. "I suppose we should do some tidying up then eh?" He begins chucking items from the pile to one side (but not towards Aelf's pallets) before looking up "Well don't just stand there you lazy bastards, give me a hand!"

"Egil wait.." Graylor starts to speak, but stops as Egil turns to glower at him, it is not really Egli looking back. "I'm sorry, my lord Hu."

He continues in a more formal tone.

"Jalmar's sword has ever been pledged to thy cause and will be alongside you again in this time of need. I wouldst advise thee against taking that passageway, for it only leads from whence the foul villain comest from and not to where he now resides. Besides methinks that this passage will exit in the midst of Uz territory, and whilst fighting such creatures is a heroic task, it will only serve to delay or apprehension of the brigand who hast thy sword. Methinks that Orlanth will be back in his temple or still riding the winds. Either way there be more direct routes to this thief. Mayhap our best course of action is for thee to shout into the winds and summon Orlanth to thee."

Egil/Hu, while continuing his task of moving the junk from the door, looks up "If I called for my brother he would not answer, he stole the sword because it was not freely given and he sees himself as a King and not as a subject."

"But shaming him as a coward for his base act should bring him forth." Graylor comments.

The blackness in his eyes fades a little and for the moment Egil seems to be mostly on the mundane "What we need to figure out is who wants this particular sword and how they know I had it. After all it only came into my possession last night. All those below ground died, so it must leave those lunars and assembled chaotics we met outside. I would say the Yanafali betrayer would be the one who wants it but was too scared to come and ask for it. It would be best to go straight to him if we can work out where he is."

Closing his eyes for a heartbeat Aelfwyrd reaches out to Ashar, the great black blade questioning at first then when his visualisation showed a door and a lever, drawing back. Weapon: lever. It was if he was trying to fit a sword into the scabbard meant for an axe.

The Far Walker didn't take to swords, that much was common knowledge within the Legion. This rather heretical stance might be a serious problem had he not venerated Kargan above all others. No surprises that he had been sceptical of all the sword nonsense during his Hereward initiation rites. There was no question that the blade was myth and magic incarnate, replete with a heroic lineage.But even so, it was a sword...

The Far Walker's opinion shattered when he first touched the deadly blade. It was far more than a sword, that much was evident, it was something else entirely. Ashar called him during that holy rite. The sword judged him and in an instant understood his truth. In that heartbeat, the Kargani saw something amazing; he glimpsed the face of the God. Aelfwyrd knew the next step on his true path, it lay with the Unbreakable Sword and it's Legion.

Reaching out to Ashar he sensed none too subtle disapointment at his calling. Bashing down doors was not exactly a pure use of the wyter, but equally, Aelf rarely did what he was told.

There was a oneness with the God standing in these sanctified halls, almost as if the veil had receded. He mouths a silent prayer to Kargan. With perfect form the Far Walker slowly spins the horrific nine bladed weapon before slamming it into the gap between door and frame. "I'll just be over here while you work out this wind calling malarky."

"Yes, why don't you get dressed while you are at it? We can then work in peace." Graylor adds.

The Kargani's demenour takes on a thunderous quality as he eyes first Yrsga then Graylor and finally his breeches. For a heartbeat it looks like the Far Walker means to do bloody murder upon his sword kin. That distant, manical and oddly joyful expression, never ceases to put folks off.

Aelf takes a step closer, invading personal space as was his wont, but not quite nose to nose.

"My temple, my rules": belligerence always easy, second nature. Stooping down he examines the door "and after all, we're after a yellow bellied thief not the Red Emperor's bodyguard."

Sucking his teeth and standing up he continues absently "Although, that would be a honour and some battle....."

"Your temple?" Graylor's face is a picture of indignation. "By what twisted logic did you arrive at that conclusion?"

Graylor visibly disciplines his features and manor. "Kaarag and Jalmar are both represented here. They must have worked together on this and we should work together for Egil. Aelf would you have me holding your left arm while you fight? Then do us the courtesy of giving us some space to do our jobs. Besides the thief will not be alone, who would really steal a sword from Hu without being prepared for a fight?"

Aelf gives the Knight of Jalmar a withering look in silence, due in part to the use of fancy words he only partially understood.

Anyway, the tone and posture was enough, still full of ale he knew where this was going...

Graylor visibly disciplines his features and manor. "Kaarag and Jalmar are both represented here. They must have worked together on this and we should work together for Egil. Aelf would you have me holding your left arm while you fight? Then do us the courtesy of giving us some space to do our jobs. Besides the thief will not be alone, who would really steal a sword from Hu without being prepared for a fight?"

Graylor was known throughout the Pavis based Legion as an intelligent, decent, and measured Humakti. A collection of traits in which the Far Walker was unlikely to score too highly. Not only was his skilled sword arm of real benefit but powerful were Graylor's magics in sniffing out the crimson cancer and her spawn.

Yet, there was something about the Knight that had gotten under the Far Walker's skin of recent. He hadn't noticed until tonight, perhaps it was just the ale talking, or maybe the way he looked at Yrsga.

Anyway, since when did Aelf need a reason to start a fight....?

"You talk like a nagging clan wife back at the stead" the kargani (drops weapon or leaves it stuck in the door as appropriate and) squares up to the Jalmar Knight "let's settle this like men..."

Graylor shook his head with irritation. Does this have something to do with his dream of being pulled apart? Somehow he didn't think so, but Aelf wasn't helping his mood. He was worried on waking and became anxious for Egil and now if this kid hadn’t taken the biscuit. He'd been all cocky since Graylor had met him. Graylor had just put that down to the after effects of being chosen as Kaarg's instrument. But, Aelf really believed that this was his temple, it was too much and the last shreds of Graylor's inner calm were shattered.

"First you act like some spoiled, petulant kid. Then you want to settle it like men? What makes you think you deserve that right?" Graylor spits out scornfully as he casually tosses his sword belt onto a nearby rack. "Come on then, what are you waiting for?"

Hardly had these words left Graylor's lips when he delivered a (stinging slap to Aelfwyrd's face / a mean low punch). The sudden brutality of the attack left Aelf stunned for a second; time enough for Graylor to dance out of reach. Aelf charged at the older man with an inarticulate roar. He succeeded in catching Graylor and sent both of them crashing into a rack of swords, fortunately all were sheathed. Somehow a twist and wriggle from Graylor brought him free of Aelf's grasp, in an instant he was back on his feet and waiting for Aelf to rise.

Now that he was fighting Graylor found his usual calm returning. His brain now working properly assesses his options. Alef's reputation as a ferocious fighter, his skills developed in the gladiator pits, put Graylor's abilities to shame. However, the Jalmari was more mobile and agile. If he waited patiently for his openings he might be able to use Alef's anger against himself.

The Far Walker spent an eternity in the Furthest Arena, fighting for his life quickly became second nature. Rolling to one his athleticism makes standing from prone look rather too easy.

Snatching up a nearby pew the Kargani he hurls it at Graylor, with a mighty throw, as he retreats to the door. The rather ancient piece of temple furniture flies at an incredible speed, hurtling towards the Jalmari. The Knight is agile and some how manages to throw himself aside at the last moment, the pew splinters into a thousand pieces as it hits the stone door frame.

Graylor scrambles to his feet, covered in bits of pew, and ducks through the door.

Still swimming in ale the Far Walker is not thinking clearly, his blood is up. Sprinting out of the armoury he stumbles over the debris. The Knight is waiting patiently in the corridor and catches him flush on nose with a peach of a right hook. Blood pumps from his pulped nose, beginning to pour down his face. Aelf is brought to a shuddering halt. Pausing, rather theatrically, the Kargani snorts the blood from both nostrils and wipes the result on the wall with his hand.

"You can't run forever Jalmari" he smiles, apparently enjoying this interlude.

Graylor grins back as if to respond, which gives him a second to think. Keep him busy and track back to the Jalmar temple.

"Who said anything about running boy"

A quick jab this time but not as sweet as that right hook. Not bad and it gave him a chance to break off and keep his distance.

The Kargani scowls; he was getting his arse handed to him by someone clearly inferior. A category he was sure included just about everyone he had ever met.

Aelf kicks out high and hard, the great blow catching the Jalmari, before he can turn, square in the abdomen. The incredible force sends Graylor careering through the air, down the corridor and into the next room, a good thirty feet away.

Aelf smiles, the God was close this night, in his temple. The once Gladiator stalks after his quarry... arena, battle field, was all the same, he knew how this would end.

As Graylor lies stunned he can hear the Kargani approaching, cracking his eyes open slightly. Aelf was walking with that swagger again though he radiated disappointment that the contest was over so soon. It was time that someone popped his bubble! Graylor waits for Aelf to approach and strikes out with his right leg sweeping the young warrior off his feet and dumping him heavily on his back. Instead of stopping the movement Graylor carries it on and uses the momentum to lift him back on his feet. All too quickly the Far Walker is back on two legs, nothing seemes to stop him. He advances relentlessly, hands and feet a blur. Graylor desperately blocking gives ground; he stumbles a little as a huge hay-maker catches him above the ear. In the ringing that follows the Knight hears a deep, familiar voice.

"Don't forget your training. Move!"

Without thinking Graylor leaps over a low foot sweep from Aelfwyrd. This time he puts all his energy into the jump and flips backwards high into the air, landing gently on the shoulders of the statue of Jalmar. A shudder runs through the Knight as he lands, and Graylor feels a wave of energy and certainty pass through his body. He murmurs a quick prayer of thanks to Jalmar. He knows how to defeat the Kargani, but whether his skills are enough, he would find out soon enough.

"Wha.." The exclamation in torn from the throat of the Far Walker. "Come back down, or I'll knock you off your perch little bird." He calls in anger, whilst looking around for something to throw.

"Try your worst!" The Jalmari taunts him. "Maybe I'll just fly down and teach you a lesson."

Behind Alef are the Legions supplies, stored in the temple underground against the heat of the day outside. Work had also been started on building walls to divide the temple and storage areas. Aelf reaches down, finds some of the stone salvaged for the walls, and hurles it at Graylor. The Jalmari leaps again over the flying rubble and in a graceful summersault over the astonished Far Walker's head. Graylor lands lightly on his hands and springs back off them, arrow straight, feet first at Alef. Spinning round Aelf finds both of Graylor's feet at his chest. Having no time to react to this unexpected turn of events he does the only thing possible.

"Oof" He grunts heavily as all the air in his lungs is expelled and flies, not so gracefully, through the air. A pleasant experience only ruined by his impact with the plinth at the base of the statues. Graylor catapults off Aelf's chest, rolls on landing and is on his feet waiting for the next attack.

Yrsga stands watching the fight with growing disbelief, she knows she needs to stop it and is pondering how to do it.

She jumps slightly when an unexpected voice beside her speaks

"The Lunars, trolls, praxians, and broos. Surely we have enough enemies without brawling amongst ourselves like we're down at Gimpy's" Egil's voice is quiet but the anger in it is easily detected. In each hand he holds a broken pail. He hurls the first at Aelf, catching him on the shoulder and knocking him slightly off balance. The second flies toward Graylor but, now being prewarned, he easily deflects the pail. Both men turn to face the enraged Huist.

Graylor looks stunned at the attack. Then looks at the missile and grins. "A bucket Egil and broken at that?"

He laughs out loud. "Thank you my friend. I think we needed that and we needed your intervention too!"

The Knight turns to the Far Walker. "A good scrap. But from now I hope to find myself fighting at your side or guarding your back rather than face-to-face again. What say you friend and swordbrother?"

Egil stands waiting as the two women climb the stairs as he tries to decide what he should do. He feels himself pulled deeper towards the heroplane for a moment. The others see him sway slightly before a deep voice booms out of his mouth that does not seem real. The sound is deafening but seems to be in each person's head rather than within the chamber.
"Hu gifted a sword
Light fingered wind stole it
Take back from the moon"

Egil's face turns grim, "The tunnel is not our path. We must find the Lunars we fought today. They have Death and must return it. Lets ask Vesekor, he might know where their camp is." He stalks purposefully up the stairs.

Graylor looks amazed at the sense of purpose in Egils face. Quickly he turns to Aelf and reaches out a hand to lift him back to his feet. "We'd better get ourselves sorted quickly if we are to be any help to Egil." Taking one look at Aelf's face and feeling the bruises and blood on his own face too. "We'd better put on these helms, they will cover much of our faces, hopefully the dark will do the rest. Come on I'll help you arm."

In no more than two minutes the warriors ascended the stairs fully equipped for war. They see Egil talking to Vesekor and Dori and hurry over to them.

Planning the Attack on the Lunars

"Which Lunars are we going after Egil? The Marble Phalanx or the demon lover Aneash?" Graylor asks as soon as they arrive. "My money is on Aneash he had that slimy look of one who wouldn't baulk at hiring thieves to do his dirty work."

"You're probably right," Dori agrees, "but as I recall, he vanished through what looked like a portal to the Underworld: and unless you saw more than I did, we don't even know which bit of the Underworld. Unless we think he'll just pop back home a few hours later, I doubt if you'll be able to find him any time soon.

"The Marble Phalanx, on the other hand, we know exactly where to find. That great big barracks in the New City. The one we've all been ordered to avoid, not being into suicide unless there's good reason for it. We dealt with quite a lot of them, there's probably only a hundred of them left, and demoralised at that. Plus the Silver Shields and the Antelope Lancers, of course, but again there's probably no more than say a couple of hundred of each.

"I know Humakt - or Hu - says it's time to go and beat up some Lunars, but somehow I don't think a head-on attack is the way to do it."

"Hu doesn't want us to beat up the Lunars, he wants me to recover Death. Granted that probably does mean killing a few of them but its not the object here. I think it's possible their new champion is the one with the sword or will be before the night is through. I think we should go and find him and ask for it back." The anger is apparent in Egil's voice although it is obvious he is working hard to keep himself in check.

Egil talks passionately to Vesekor explaining his plan to use his sword to channel Hu's power to locate the Death he is looking for.

When the full "plan" gets communicated to Vesekor, he shakes his head silently in disbelief for a few seconds. (precisely *what* kind of boneheads has he gotten thrown in with?)

"That's it? *That's* your plan? By the Beak of the Great Hawk, that's no way to go about it. And anyway, you're looking for spoor in the wrong place - no-one in the barracks has the kind of skills to pull off this theft. No, no, you want Headquarters - over here (pointing at the crude map of the area he had drawn on the ground). And if you can give me any sort of description of the thief, I might be able to narrow it down for you."

"No one saw the thief the only sign of him was one footprint and a breeze that he left behind." Graylor responds. "We're thinking that someone has hired an Orlanthi thief. The Marble Phalanx and Anerash are the most likely candidates. Though we did meet others before you and we have no idea who else could have been watching."

"Anerash is gone - he slipped through some sort of Doorway to Hell that he has. I doubt he's back in the Middle World, yet, let alone here in Pavis. The Stoneheads are in complete disarray - they got beat up bad trying to board the Cradle, and the Powers That be haven't appointed a new commander yet, so I very much doubt they'd be involved.

"No, if someone in the Army is hiring master thieves, it'll be at headquarters that you'll find anything out, it won't be in the barracks. You don't get that sort of ...initiative among the common soldiers, or even their commanders."

"Headquarters it is then. We need not kill them, we only go to retrieve the piece of death in their possession. If they will not give it willingly then they will die."

Vesekor amazed by the straight-foward manner of this crowd - doesn't anyone think like a thief?

"I doubt you'll find your sword in there when we get in - the best you can hope for is someone that knows something about it. But anyway, this is the likely situation - Guards here, here and here, the Silver Shields have duty tonight, and they'll have their dogs with 'em. Guard duty is formally a half-squad at the door, the other half on call just inside, so that's seven men per station. Normally only one guy will be on watch, the rest will be taking it easy inside. I can forge up a pass or orders to get us in the main door, but these two guard posts can see each other, so we'll either have to take them out simultaneously - and silently, or go in here, through the Trade entrance. In which case we'll want, umm, three bottles. Of gin preferably, though this local goat-piss will do as well. The guard commander will be checking the sentry posts at 1 hour past midnight, and again at 4 hours past, so we have a maximum of three hours to get in and get out before someone with sense will be around. The officer of the watch at Headquarters tonight is supposed to be Herulfius - he can be a bit of a pain, and is a stickler for precision, so the watches will be sharpest just before he gets there. Fortunately, he checks his stations by the book, so he's predictable."

Egil is once again floating between the heroplane and the mundane and his voice has the resonance of Hu to it "We go not for the sword but to retrieve a piece of Death." Then his voice changes again, back to Egil "Silently we can do. Hu has nine silences, one will fit the bill. If the sword is not there Aelf can kill one and we'll question the rest."

"Questioning many people will take time. What we need is a place where we can be free of interruptions. If I remember right Cavos' place was on the edge of the Downtown district, it's here isn't it Dori." Graylor adds a new road and buildings to Vesekor's map. Dori nods her approval.

"It would be a good place to base ourselves and will allow us to take our time with someone more interesting."

Graylor starts pacing and thinking aloud. "I think that you are right, we should go in the back door. The gin we can pick up at Gimpies on the way in, though best to have some orders too. How long will it take you to generate some? Better make it that we are late for something, it might explain the back door route. Who do you thing we should be going after Vesekor?"

"WRITTEN ORDERS!" He exclaims, followed by a flurry of questions. "Does that include troop movements? Would they have these orders in advance? How detailed are they? Where would they be kept? Vur would give his balls to get hold of those lists."

"Yeah, though most of what you'll get is crap - movement orders for which company is to go to which oasis, or which squad is to man which gate, and I can tell you that schedule just as easily for the next six months or so. I haven't heard of any major moves - no new regiments coming or anyone getting out of this sh*thole. Anything like that will be delivered by wyvern messenger, moonboat, or just common horse-back courier, depending on how important it is."

Graylor looks crest fallen. "Oh. I had hoped that they would be more detailed than that. You know more personal details.." He fades into a dissapointed silence. Then pulls himself together again.

"Well let's get on with the raid. So Egil, Vesekor are essential I also propose myself and Aelf to make four. Ideally we need a rescue plan if all else fails. Vesekor could your lads fly us out if the need arose?"

"Yeah, we could lift three of you - we won't be fast, or able to get very far, but we can get up onto a rooftop, or maybe even across to the wall or these houses here (pointing at the Suntown buildings across the streets from headquarters)

"Mav can fly one of us out too. We have a slight problem at the moment, in that we are under orders not to approach the barracks, so we need a countermanding order to that." He turns to the ten-thane, "Dorinda, should I do everything within my power to retrieve the stolen blade?"

She looks slightly puzzled at such a question and the obviousness of the answer "Yes, of course."

Egil bows his head slightly "As you command."

"Silencing the guards and capturing 3 or 4 of the most senior looking guys in there seems to be the best option, the we can go back to Cavos' place and 'question' them with some persuasion from Aelf's blade."

"Let me send one of my lads into town to see what people know about the fight we had - if anyone knows anything, we'll be able to pick it up in one of the taverns; Anything juicy like that spreads through the barracks faster than a wyvern courier.

"If no-one knows that the marbleheads were defeated, and if Dori cleaned up the mess, they won't know that me & the boys have defected, either. That means that we won't be suspected if we show up, and if they don't know that Anerash is gone, we can really use that to our advantage - he was running some sort of espionage scam, and we can claim to be working for him. We just say that he's gone to ground in the rubble, and he's using us to run errands back to HQ. That will give us (and our barbarian auxilleries) a lot of leeway and access to stuff we normally wouldn't get, since we'd be acting on his orders. We can get inside information, heck we can even put in for supplies and cash money disbursments!

"With 'Anerash's' orders, we can question almost anyone we want (we'll have to be careful of the Governer and the Regimental Commanders, and certain prominent civilians, of course)."

Was it the Lunars?
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