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Reporting back


Meanwhile, the rest of the group - Zebra Riders, Krogar and his people, Gerras, Santhis, Yenda - have had a pleasant ride back to Wyvern Gate. The few Lunar guards there don't bother such a large group, and keeping the new additions in the centre makes it less likely that they will be noticed. After about a third of a mile, the area opens out to clear grassland, and most of the group leave the road and head north, skirting Manside to their east and heading back to Zebraside and the New City. Gerras, Mauvin and Yenda carry on along the road to the Temple to report back to Dori. It's a hot day, but there's enough of a breeze that it isn't too unpleasant.

Yenda searches out Dori as she has been asked by Graylor.

She's in what's turned into an "office" in the first big room of the underground temple, before you get to the doors that test for Illumination. One of the dividing areas that used to be used as storage is now full of a desk, a lot of paper, a few chairs and a table with a few tankards, jugs, and empty bowls. Vindana seems to be in charge of the paperwork, and is applying the typical Lhankor Mhy filing system to it. Fortunately a clean tankard, a jug of water, and a chair, have not yet disappeared under the piles.

Mindful of the fact that Dori has had no information except a brief message delivered by one of the zebra riders, Yenda leaves nothing out of the report. Their exploits with the Lunars in Pavis.. Discovering the identity of the thief.. Meeting with Rana and their deductions of her clan.. The trip into the chaos holes.. Losing Graylor and Egil and then meeting up again outside Pavis in the company of Krogar. She finishes with the current situation with Graylor, Egil and Irnar going back to Pavis to retrieve Egil’s sword and the plan to meet in Krogar’s room at Gimpys.

Dori listens intently, Vindana taking notes all the way through.
"It sounds as if Vesekor is going to be a very useful addition," she remarks. "I'll leave him to handle the Lunar situation, he seems to be more than capable of it."

"Krogar working with Desemborthi - now that's interesting. I was wondering which side, if any, he's on, and I'm not sure we're any the wiser now."

"And this "Rana"." Yenda can almost hear the quotation marks. "You've given me a nice recital of the facts as you observed them. Good work. Now, let's hear your deductions. Vingan - do you have any confirmation of that? - Kheldon, Blackrock clan. You should know the Sartarite tribes and clans better than I do - what does that tell you?"

Yenda considers her words carefully. “Vingan? Possibly.. No real confirmation, I don’t remember any real markings to indicate her loyalties. But everything about her screamed Vingan, the way she moved, dressed and acted are all consistent. She has the Blackrock tattoo so that shouldn’t be in doubt and they produce a lot of Vingans. All the girls wanted to be like Kallyr.” Suddenly Yenda’s eyes open in astonishment. “Surely not! No she is too young but one of her associates, possibly. But we were told to look out for her in Pavis!”

Now Yenda is truly horrified. “I shouldn’t have said that! That information was supposed to be Jalmari only. Please this mustn’t go any further.”

"It won't.... but that was careless. An oath broken by accident, or even unknowingly, even if you're tricked into it, is still broken. I won't ask if that was against an oath: you're still alive, so presumably it wasn't a hard-bound one."

"No.. It's more complicated than that." Yenda pauses to consider her words. "We're oath bound not to reveal the Jalmari but no more than that. Everything else is implied. Knights have considerably more freedom in these things. I should have consulted Graylor at least before I said anything."

"Anyway," the severe expression relaxes, "yes, you're thinking along the right lines. The other thing you needed to be careful of is the exact words used when she gave her name. There's one Desemborthi Vingan of that age in that clan that I know of, and "Rana" is her most commonly-used alias, not her name. Randella Offirsdottir; the Offir in question being Kallyr's Sword. She's young, yes, but she's been part of Kallyr's intelligence network since she was ten years old. Infiltration specialist, and quite a good assassin. The other Vingan with her, if she's Balkoth, I'd guess would be Ailrene. If I'm right, she's far less experienced, but has a neat trick of listening to conversations at a distance. I expect she was shadowing Randella all the time they were in the city."

"Now, if two of Kallyr's agents are here, and the Jalmari have been told to watch for her, not just in general, but actually in Pavis, that gets interesting. If her agents are using chaotic magic.... yes, and Randella's had that trick as long as I've known her. Before the Whitewall siege started, anyway. I wonder what she's up to now?"

"Now you mention it Egil signed something to Graylor about her training with the Humakti in Whitewall." Yenda responded.

"Well Rana is in the middle of an Orlanthi heroquest getting Death from Humakt. Presumably to kill Yelm. The question is which Yelmite id Krogar after and is Rana's involvment to help that work or to help the Rat sow discord about the place with fake copies of 'Death'?" Yenda leaves the question hanging whilst she ponders it's answer.

“Hold on. I didn’t see the report properly, only a glance while Graylor was reading. I had assumed that the information about Kallyr was only general. We sometimes get information on the movements of important people, because they may cause some excitement in the community we are investigating. What if she is of *direct* interest to the Jalmari? What if this chaos magic and acceptance is general with Kallyr and her supporters? That puts a different complexion on the whole issue.” Yenda starts to frown.

“I have heard that Kallyr is capable of putting peoples noses out of joint, but this could blow away a large part of her support base if it is true.”

Dori looks at her with surprised respect. "Good thinking, and you may well be right. I had that report read to me in full, and it seems that Kallyr was actually outlawed from Whitewall. The first group she quarrelled with were the local Storm Bull contingent; that fits with use of Chaos. I find it hard to believe myself, but her actions for the last year have been odd. She's always been good at annoying people - mention her name to Seledd anytime you have an hour or two to spare! but this is going much further than normal."

"In fact... I wonder? Had you heard why the Legion left Whitewall?" Yenda's blank look answers for her.

"Let me fill you in, then: but this goes no further. We don't want anyone outside the Legion hearing more than they have to, and for anyone inside, it's a painful subject. Get another drink, this may take a while." She pushes the jug across.

"Let's see, where do we start? You know the Legion's been taking hires from Kallyr for years, even before the Rebellion?"

Yenda nods. "Graylor told me."

"Well, she asked us to come to Whitewall, right at the start of the siege, and of course we did. There's a lot of stories there, the usual heroic last stands and so on. Worse than usual, even for us - we lost the Third Cohort and all its regalia - but that's another story, and again, one best not talked about. I'll tell you another time, but don't mention it to Siggyr or Seledd.

"Anyway, earlier this year, some of us got put into an attack on a Lunar force. Much as usual, attacking them outside the city. Now, usually one of the Legion's advantages is having Illig in command. Apart from being one of the best warlords in Dragon Pass, he's got a trick he took from a Dara Happan on the Heroplane that lets him see the battlefield as if he was above it, so he can see what's going on. But this time, that was blocked. We assumed the Lunars had someone with the same sort of magic, working against him, and carried on; we had our orders, we knew where we were meant to be, we knew Kallyr had the whole thing planned. What we didn't know was that her plans were to use us as the anvil in an ambush."

Yenda’s face flushed with the recent riding and the embarrassment of making a fool of herself in front of Dori looses all its colour. “She didn’t..” Yenda gasps in horror. “What happened?” She waits aghast for Dori’s reply.

"Remember what I was saying about an oath that's broken by your being tricked into it still being broken? Anyone with a "no ambushes" geas died on the spot: if the broken geas didn't kill them directly, the effects of it in the middle of a fight did. Even for the survivors, we'd lost our honour, if not the battle."

"Maybe she didn't know? But she'd used the Legion before,..."

"We wondered: an honest mistake might just about have been forgivable. But no, she knew. She knew what we'd think of the idea. She was the one who blocked Illig's magic, to make sure we didn't find out until too late. And that was not forgivable. I don't care how important destroying those Lunars was, the end does not justify the means. She'd been a friend for years, we'd trusted her - and for the Legion to trust any outsider is rare! - and then this betrayal."

Dori sips her own water, the mask of clinical detachment coming back to hide the pain. "It was Broyan's city, we were there as his guests, and we had no quarrel with him. He asked us not to breach his laws of hospitality by killing his second-in-command, and we honoured that request - but we also left."

"Anyway, that's old history now. Let's hope it turns out to be irrelevant. You said Krogar was involved in this, trying to get a sword, probably for some quest of his own. Did he appear to have connections with Randella, or are they working separately? Oh, and I take it you made sure he didn't have you followed when you came here?"

“They certainly seemed not to know each other, but that could have been good acting. I’m pretty sure that we weren’t followed. We Jalmari are rather careful about that. Besides he didn’t have much chance he and his men were surrounded by the Zebra riders at all times” Yenda replies confidently, but all the while she is speaking her eyes are withdrawn, looking inward, reviewing what happened to see if she could be mistaken.

"So far so good: but he's a Wind Lord, Yenda. You've just told me he used sylphs to carry them from the Pairing Stones. What do you think he'd use to follow you? Was there anything odd about the wind, any little gusts, more wind than normal, anything like that?"

Yenda blanches and looks inward again. A small “oh” escapes her lips and she starts to blush again, a moment of meditation removes the blush, and she opens her eyes, looks at Dori and straightens her shoulders. “Yes there was a pleasant breeze all the way back to the camp, though with hindsight it didn’t seem to reach the plants at the sides of the path. I did not consider such a thing. The foes I have encountered have always used more physical means of following.” She pauses, a question in her eyes. “How can you counter such an agent? It would seem to me that no secret would be safe from such a master of the wind.”

"Good question, and you're right, it's hard. The first thing is simply to realise you're being followed, of course. Once you've got that far, something as simple as splitting up and hoping it follows the wrong person can help. If you don't mind making it clear that you know it's there, you can attack the sylph: you tell me what magic Jalmar gives you for that, but personally I'd use my own Truewind. Almost any magical barrier can stop it, or even a plain door, if it's a tight one, but they may be positioned too late to be any use. I'd guess your sylph is hanging round the outside of the temple wardings right now, but that means it knows where the temple is, and that's already more than we wanted it to find out. In fact, let me look...."

She closes her eyes, and a cold wind starts to blow through the room: a pileof papers shifts, and Yenda hastily grabs them. "Yes... there it is. I'll leave it alone for now, no point in telling him he's been spotted."

"The other thing to remember is that a lot of Orlanthi can do what I just did, only probably better. They'll listen to you on the wind: like I said earlier, Randella's friend Ailrene does that a lot. If you want to be absolutely sure you've stopped that, Hu's Sixth Silence protects an area: you can talk within it, but sound doesn't escape. Yodi knows that one, but I don't - yet."

She looks at Yenda sympathetically. "It's hard - you're right there. Have a think about how your Jalmari magic can be used against it, you may well come up with something I've never heard of, now you understand what the problem is."

“I think that if you had the time it would be valuable if you were to come to the meeting at Gimpys. I feel that suddenly I am drowning when I thought that I was safely if not swimming then comfortably bobbing on the surface.

"I think I'd better: this is getting complicated. Seeing me may well scare Randella into revealing something, once she knows she's been unmasked, and I may be able to use her to feed the other side some information, manipulate them a little bit out of our way. I just hope I can swim well enough for these waters myself. I wish Yodi... ah well, we'll just have to cope. Brenna always used to tell me, Humakt never asks any more of you than you can give, but the trouble is, he never asks any less, either."

She smiles at Yenda. "So, the next exercise for you. How many people is Krogar expecting to leave here and go to his meeting, and how do we make sure he doesn't find out I'm joining you until we get there? What we really want to avoid is Randella getting any warning."

Gerras has been standing silently at the back listening but not really paying attention suddenly perks up. "That we can manage. I have a dozen zebra braves outside. I'll get a few to come in here, with ponchos on and hoods up of course, and then when we leave you can take one of their places. How good are these sylphs at recognising different people anyway?"

"No good at all: about as good as we are at telling one sylph from another. They can count, after a fashion, but that's about it."

"I'll be back in a minute with some braves then and we can sort out the rest from there." He trots out of the door and goes off to collect his men.

Once outside he dons his poncho and signals for the others to do likewise, then points at 5 of them he beckons for them to follow him back inside.

“That’s really very clever.” Yenda compliments Gerras.

Gerras bows his head slightly "I have more between my ears than my death following friend its true but this is a ploy we have used a few times before, its even been know to fool the Lunars on more than one occassion."

A meeting at Gimpys
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