back Into the Rat's lair Reporting back

A meeting at Gimpys

Taking to the back lanes again Graylor, Egil and their companions make their way back to Gimpy's tavern. Seeing no-one there they are expecting to meet just yet they approach one of the one-legged owners, "Any chance of being let into our friend Krogar's room? We have a meeting with him soon. Four beers as well, cheers." Rana lays a few coins on the bar before being led to the room.

Each of them settles into the room, beers are brought in although Egil barely touches his. Egil, Graylor and Irnar in the manner of professional soldiers begin tending to their swords and armour making minor repairs and cleaning where needed.

Once they're alone, Rana pulls out an assortment of trinkets, including three ornate black-painted daggers and an iron garotte. "I picked up a few interesting souvenirs, but would you mind checking them out? They're clear of poison now, but after that vial... well let's be sure. You never know what an ogre might've been using."

"Yeah let's have a look." Graylor responds with enthusiasm. Before he touches anything he checks to see if there is any taint of chaos, which there isn't. He picks up a bloody and unusual iron weapon.

"Where did you find.. Oh!!" Graylor answers himself as a flash of something misshapen flashes through his mind. “I see, from the guardian. Well it isn’t chaotic and it is a good piece of iron.”

The daggers hold his interest more, they are well made, superior to his own. There are interesting markings on them that he can’t decipher. Never the less he continues to look at the weapons and checks them for magic. Nothing for the first one but something shows up on the other two. The magic is alien to Graylor and it causes him to ask.

“I wonder if the Fang actually put spirits in their weapons. Could these marks be spirit bindings?” he looks round at the blank faces. “Maybe Gerras would be able to tell us more when he arrives.”

"I know they use the daggers as a badge of office, almost," Rana answers. "Magic? It wouldn't surprise me, but I've got no idea what sort. There was something odd about that one-eyed thing with the claw, though: its first attack was incredibly fast, but after that it slowed down to normal standards, I'd have said. Egil, did you notice that?"

There are footsteps on the stairs: several people. The door is pushed open and a heavy-set man with bushy black eyebrows surveys the group: Graylor and Egil will recognise one of Krogar's followers. "All safe," he reports, and Krogar follows him in. He, too, scans who's here, and who isn't.

"So where is he?"

"The healers have him," Egil remarks casually "then maybe he'll go to Humakt or maybe not."

"He annoyed you that much? Never mind, I expect he deserved it." He pulls up a chair, and his other three Storms follow him in. "Just your messengers to your commanders to get here now, and then we can decide where we go from here. I take it he did return your sword?"

Egil is affronted by the accusation and struggles to keep his annoyance in check. "He annoyed me that much but my word was given so he got to live for a while longer but the ogres he made friends with were plainly very put out by something, maybe bringing pissed off Humakti to their lair sealed his fate." He seems to relax a little "Still no need to
further concern ourselves with them, they are resting eternally in Cacodemon's belly now. And," he flourishes Barzaad's Tooth, "the little trickster did return this to me."

"Ogres? He's been mixing with ogres? What in the name of the seven hells.... no, I doubt if I want to know."

He visibly forces himself to calm and formality. "That which was stolen from you has been returned, as promised. Does this satisfy honour between us, or is further reparation required for that? I would far rather that we be allies against our common foe than waste our strengths against each other."

"Well if you want to know the truth of it we can question him under an Oath or Graylor here could ask him some questions, he is very anti-chaos and has some very neat tricks for dealing with it, any hint of it on Ratty boy may be his doom. As for honour, mine is now satisfied. Death which was stolen has now been returned, although copies of it may be circulating Pavis and the Rubble. I see no reason we can't be allies but that is not my decision to make, my seniors tell me who my friends and enemies are, then I kill them or spare them according to that." A strange gurgling noise emenates from Egil's stomach "That reminds me, its been a long while since I've eaten anything, I'll just pop down and get something. Anyone else hungry?"

There's more footsteps on the stairs, and a voice outside: Gerras' voice. "This one?" The door is pushed open, and Gerras comes in followed by Yenda: and a third figure who they were not expecting, who pushes back a Zebra cloak from her face as she enters, showing the Death runes on it. Dori.

Krogar looks surprised at the new face, but since she is clearly known to the others, not alarmed. Rana, however, freezes, and her hand goes to the vial on her belt, then stops before activating it. Dori watches her, apparently slightly amused. "That's right. Using that would be a bad idea to add to all your other bad ideas recently: and spying on us really wasn't one of your best. It wouldn't be a good idea for anyone, of course. We tend to notice these things."

Graylor recovers quickly from his surprise at seeing Dori and the sparks that flew between her and Rana. Here was something interesting.

"Perhaps we should get the formal introductions done! Krogar Wolfhelm meet Dorinda, my Ten-Thane. Rana of the Blackrock clan meet Dorinda, though I guess you two have some history!" In the natural course of these introductions Graylor engineers a moment where he is facing Dori with his back to both Kroger and Rana. He raises a single questioning eyebrow at Dori.

There isn't a formal Swordspeech sign for "WTF?", or for "What now?", but that's close enough for anyone. Dori's fingers flick in a signal more normally used in battlefield scouting, and a question, not an order. "Orlanth, Vinga, allies?"

Graylor signs as he turns back to the rest of the group. "Orlanth, Desemborth allies. Desemborth , Vinga allies. Orlanth, Vinga unknown."

More openly, she nods at the first introduction. "Krogar I know, or rather, know of - one of the few non-Humakti to teach at our temple, and as fine a swordsman as you might expect from that. Since I see Egil now has his sword back, I trust peace has been made?"

"Rana, though..." she sighs. "It seems that I had better be the one to make the introductions. Meet Randella Offirsdottir, indeed of the Blackrock clan of the Kheldon tribe, and one of Kallyr's more competent spies. Since she gave you a false name, I think we can work out who she's in Pavis to spy on."

Rana looks slightly surprised at the compliment. "Thank you for that," she says softly, then: "I should point out that the usual oaths have been given and precautions taken."

Dori nods. "I expected no less. After all, that's what we taught you."

Graylor decides that breathing water is affecting his brain. "Who? All what precautions and oaths?" he thinks, not realising until he hears his own voice that he has spoken aloud.

"Sorry, that was a bit cryptic, wasn't it?" Dori smiles reassuringly. "It's fairly common practice for spies moving in an enemy area to take an oath to say nothing about a certain subject unless the right conditions are met: usually, that only certain people may be present. The oath is enforced to the point where breaking it means instant death. I don't know what subjects Randella's been bound on, but I'd guess for instance that asking for any details about her boss's location and intentions would be remarkably unproductive. She probably isn't as tightly bound as earlier oaths have been, since that... means of doing so.... is no longer available to them, but I expect it's enough to serve the purpose."

Egil listens to the conversation develop, his face getting sterner as he does. Eventually he joins in. "I never really trusted her and thought we should put an end to her many times. If you don't mind ten-thane I would certainly like to lighten the load on her shoulders by one head." He has already stood up and Barzaad's Tooth is halfway out of its scabbard, the angry and hideous features of his Visage of Fear beginning to form on his face.

Dori looks from Egil to Rana, when the sword is fully drawn and the warrior has taken a step forward she holds up her hand and shakes her head. "Before such drastic measures are taken we need to see what we can get out of our friend, but the offer is well noted."

Rana's face pales visibly and her hands grope around her belt to find the comfort of her daggers before she relaxes.

Egil half bows "As you wish."

As he sits back down, Egil's fingers flicker to Dori "Orlanth, Vinga, maybe not allies but not strangers."

Hers acknowledge the message, then reply: "Orlanth spies with the wind."

Meanwhile the Orlanthi in question, unaware of the silent conversation, is starting to betray a certain amount of shock at the new information, and at what the Humakti plan on doing with it. "You can't kill her just for that! One little deception - that's ridiculous!"

"Could, and would," Dori replies, her eyes never leaving the girl. "We take betrayal of the Legion rather seriously, as she ought to know by now. But as long as she's more useful alive than dead, she can live."

Rana - Randella - has recovered her composure somewhat with Krogar's defence. "My usefulness may be somewhat limited, if you mean as a source of information."

"That, and other things." Dori still seems more amused than annoyed. "I won't touch on oath-bound areas, there's no point, but I'm sure there are other things you can tell us. Your friend could probably tell us even more - where is Ailrene, anyway? Listening in from downstairs?"

"I don't know." The response registers as truthful, but Dori still smiles. "Thank you for confirming that she's here. Let's move on then. When did you last see your father?"

"My father?" She looks very young, surrounded by so many grim Humakti.

"Your father. Offir Swiftsword - I'm sure you remember him, and I doubt if your oath forbids you talking about him. I also doubt if he'll have gone very far from anyone he's supposed to be guarding, but I'm not asking about that."

"You don't need to ask what her security's like. You helped set it up!"

"And I see you learnt your lesson in evading questions. Now answer it."

"I had a good teacher." There's hurt starting to show now. "No comment. Hu's answer, I think you used to call that?"

Graylor’s brain starts to whir. “You were Rana’s teacher. That explains a few things, like how the oaths have got weaker, even if other Humakti are available,” he states.

Dori just smiles slightly in response.

He continues to think. This time in his head “There will be others. Who? Any agent of the rebellion associated with Kallyr. No, they were at Whitewall so any agent of the rebellion on a mission.” His eyes drift round the room and light on Yenda. She is sitting most uncomfortably having just come from a dressing down from Dori, she has sympathy for the Vingan who is the object of Dori’s true displeasure, for all that it is masked with smiles.

“Tell me.” she ventures. “Does Kallyr know about your trick for passing unseen and why do you want a Humakti sword in the first place?”

Randella pauses before answering, thinking. "Hu's answer would be the safest... but why not? On the first: I was impressed that your Yinkini friend saw through it, because only one person's ever done so before, and that's as much of an answer as you're going to get. On the second - I don't want one. But I'll help out friends when they ask nicely."

"So you'll wander off mission for a friend eh! How long has Krogar been such a friend?" Yenda, without seeming to is watching the two very carefully.

"You do of course run the risk of tarnishing her name if you are know to be using chaotic magics. Sartar isn't going to want to be liberated by someone who has the same favourable attitude to chaos as the Lunars."

Rana - no, Randella - seems to find Yenda somewhat easier to deal with than Dorinda. "Friends are always useful," she remarks. "I like to make them, I like to keep them." Krogar remains impassive, listening to the conversation without showing any response at all.

"But that thing..." She pulls it from its pouch, stares at it for a moment, then tosses it on to the table between them. "Here. You can destroy it, safely, you said - do it. I don't want anything more to do with it."

"If I can't then I know a man who should be able to." Graylor answers for Yenda.

He extends his hands over the vial. Hi eyes close in concentration as he enters the meditative trance that helps his magic casting. Then he pores all the Jalmari magic he possesses into the vial first to know it properly so that he can find its weakness.

After a moment he looks up at Yenda and says. "Destruction of the glass monster."

She nods and joins him, her hands rest lightly on the back of Graylor's and a dark nimbus surrounds both sets of hands. As their powers build up the darkness flows downwards to surround the vial, until a breeze springs up, apparently coming from Graylors sleeves, blows it away like mist. The strain that is building on Graylor and Yenda's faces suddenly eases and their hands fall apart revealing the vial now coloured a dull black. Graylor picks it up and tosses it to Rana.

"We've done what we can. Let's see if it was sufficient."

[Minor victory - it was, Gavain will write up the SFX in a bit, mind the broken glass]

Egil has taken a relaxed stance leaning against a wall but is listening intently to the conversation. He's not the sharpest sword in the armoury and he knows it, so he's trying to keep up with things so he knows who he might be asked to kill in the future. He bristles slightly at the talk of the stolen sword but says nothing. The talk of Ailrene piques his interest and he resolves to deal with that issue soon but first he puts a question to Randella "So, you're a spy for Kallyr, what did she want you to find out about us and where is she now?" At the same time his fingers tap away on his leg, conveying a message to Dori "Going to scout for the spy. Return with her alive."

Dori's answer comes fast: a quick flick of "Hu with you", but all her attention is apparently still on the girl.

Randella just laughs. "You don't expect me to answer that, surely?"

Dori regards her thoughtfully. "The second part, no, but the first: Egil has a point. Why not? You never know, we might even tell you the answer."

A small noise is heard in the silence. Yenda tries to look as if it wasn’t her snapping her mouth shut. She concentrates hard on what Dori is doing, hoping to make sense of it.

"You're joking." Randella stares at Dori for any sign of humour, and fails to find it. "You're not joking?"

"You don't have any chance, now, of finding anything out any other way. A low chance is better than none at all."

"Yes, but but.... that's just wrong! You can't go around spying on people by walking up to the target and asking them to tell you their secrets!" Her outraged professional pride subsides, she sighs. "Humakti... All right, but I don't expect answers. I'm to find out what your numbers are like, and where you're based, now and in the near future. There's a few individuals I'm supposed to check up on as well."

Graylor notices Yenda nodding her head in agreement with Rana. He frowns in her direction. She notices and imposes Jalmari discipline once again. Seeing her rapt attention to Dori it sets his mind thinking. “I wonder if she would like to be apprenticed to Dori and learn about the spying game?” Dori starts to speak again and his mind snaps back.

"Assessing us as opponents, or as allies?"

"The hope was allies, I think."

Egil stretches "I mentioned food before, I think myself and my zebra friend here will go and sate ourselves." He marches out of the room with Gerras in tow.

"I see." Dori considers that in turn, then reaches a decision. "I won't be answering those questions directly, as you guessed, but I think in the interests of the Legion, I'm going to give you some information to take back to your father."

"To Dad? Why him?"

"He's more likely to make sensible use of it. You tell him that at Whitewall, she was protected by Broyan's hospitality. Out here, that no longer applies, and if she gets anywhere near us, there's a whole list of people who have not forgiven or forgotten, with Seledd at the front of the queue. Forget being allies, just stay away. We don't need the distraction, and your dad would probably prefer her not to be killed."

"He's quite good at preventing that," Randella points out.

"Not that good."

"I suppose not...." Then the professional control breaks again. "Dori, why? We used to be friends, part of that prevention team - you've got a scar on your left shoulder from a cross-bow bolt that was meant for her. What went so wrong?"

"You're asking the wrong person. Being betrayed wasn't our idea."

Once in the hallway and away from prying eyes Egil signs to Gerras using the zebra's battle signals "Spy. Hunt. Silent." before heading down towards the bar.

This time Graylor is pleased to see that Yenda hides her surprise well. He hadn’t realised that Dori had been close enough to Kallyr to save her life. “Ah well, Dori seems always full of surprises.” He saw realisation and respect flash through Yenda’s eyes as she digested and understood Dori’s move to diffuse Rana’s attempts to spy on the Legion.

A quick intake of breath from Randella: the inescapable implication that this was Kallyr's fault is obviously a hard one for her. "She didn't...."

"Yes, she did, and you know it." Dori sighs. "Randella, you said you had a few individuals to ask about. Would one of them by any chance have been the man who taught you to throw a knife, when you came to us at Whitewall and asked for training? Presumably you remember him?"

"Ah.... not officially." Randella is watching her warily now. "And yes: Derik, the Esrolian. Dark hair, preferred lighter weapons and no armour, drank wine rather than beer, generous about buying it. Nice smile."

Dori nods. "And now, dead. He was one of those with a geas against ambushes. Kallyr forced him to break his geas, and that killed him. Still say that wasn't a betrayal?"

"But she wouldn't!"

"That's what we thought, until she did." Dori almost looks sympathetic. "Sorry, it's been a bad few days for you, hasn't it? Discovering what your old friend here did to you, and now this. You might want to start thinking about who you trust, and why: it doesn't pay to trust people, in our business."

In the busy bar room it's difficult to spot a potential spy but using his experience as a scout and his keen eyes to spot someone who looks out of place (and who is a Vingan, either with visible red hair or with it hidden in a dunmantle, and who will be listening to something in the distance), topped up with a little of Hereward's magic Egil stands at the bar and surveys the room. Gerras moves around, looking, nodding to any zebras who happen to be in there and generally looking like he should be there while keeping a sharp eye out for the spy.

There's no such person in the bar. There are Vingans here, but none are sitting quietly listening to the distance: in fact, Egil can't imagine how anyone could in this noise. He considers other options: the smell of the stew from the Open Kettle is very tempting, but kitchens aren't normally quiet places. A trip down the beer and wine cellar reveals nothing of use.

Egil and Gerras then move quietly to the guardroom by the tunnel. Seeing no sign of the Vingan there he curses and apologises to the guards before beating a retreat upstairs. "Damn! Sorry guys, we were hoping to meet someone here but I can't see them."

That only leaves the top floor or the tunnel itself. In the hubub of the main bar Egil says to Gerras, "We might have to break a few doors to
find this one, don't kill her though." When he gets to the top of the stairs Egil makes his way to the main corridor and starts checking doors. The first one free for public use is unlocked, and a rush in reveals nothing. They know which are used by the tavern owners, and the next public one to be locked is the one that backs on to the stairwell. (map here) Most walls up here are wooden, but this is over the supporting wall for the bar, and the part around the door is stone.

Gerras knocks on it and says in an urgent whisper "Quick! They've got hazia runners, your name has come out. The lunars are downstairs looking for you. Hide in my room."

There's some noises from inside that they can't quite make out, then a female voice calls out "You've got the wrong room, and we're busy."

Egil casts visage of fear so he will not be recognised and draw imperial attention before he cuts out a lump of stone from around the lock with the gleaming Barzaad's Tooth. With the door now "unlocked" Egil bursts through with Gerras hard on his heels. If the occupants are caught in flagrante delicto Egil intends to hastily apologise and back out of the room (assuming neither has red hair) otherwise he prepares to quiz them.

Sitting on the bed is a red haired woman, she is alone. She is somewhat alarmed by the intrusion of a Zebra brave and a particularly hideous man, both of whom have their weapons drawn. She rolls off the bed to land on the floor behind it, a dagger appearing in her hand.

Egil pauses long enough to cast Know Truth and back it up with Cleave Deceit before he asks "What is your name?"

The fact that he's talking, not hitting, seems to be some slight comfort to her. "I won't... ah, why bother? You already know the answer. Yes, I'm Ailrene, yes, I've been listening in." Perhaps not surprisingly, his magic registers this as being true.

Egil remains calm and in a controlled voice says "Are you going to put that down? I don't really want to hurt you but I won't lose any sleep if I have to." Then in a sudden voice he says "Shatter!" aiming his Weapon Destroyer at the dagger.

The dagger obeys orders, and Ailrene stares at the bits of bronze in her hand and on the floor. "You didn't have to do that!"

Egil shrugs "True, I didn't have to. I could have just chopped your arm off instead. I'm sure you'll find another dagger soon enough. Come on! Lets go and have a chat with the ten."
He doesn't sheath the sword but take her by the arm and leads her back towards Krogar's room. Gerras, his spear at the ready, walks behind but within striking range.

Once inside the room Egil releases her arm, Gerras closes the door but stands in front of it to prevent escape. Egil inclines his head slightly to Dori "Everyone this is Ailrene. She's been listening to us. She should be aware that I didn't kill her because I told the Ten I would bring her back here alive."

His fingers quickly flick a message to Dori "She was alone, only armed with a dagger."

Graylor looks over the new comer with both mundane and Jalmari sight. His hands soon flick "Clean, no chaos." He returns to the conversation and speaks to Krogar.

"Krogar, at the Pairing Stones it was said that we could reforge a relationship once Death was returned to Hu. This has now been done and I would wish us allies. What were you planning to do with Death once Eurmal had stolen it for you?"

The impassive mask relaxes a little at the word "allies". "My original plan had simply been an enchantment on my own sword: a reasonably low-key re-enactment of the myth, with predictable and low-key results. Frekor seems to have had other ideas, and the results have not been either predictable or low-key. The coincidence: if it was coincidence: of your own quest crossing and meeting mine then complicated things further. It seems likely, now, that if either Egil or myself quest again, we will meet again, and doing so as allies rather than enemies will be in both our interests."

A small smile plays briefly across Egil's lips before he answers "Sir, I may be as dense as Trollwood trees but I am well aware of my god's history. If we happened to quest together as allies it would turn out that you would be my warchief. That is something forbidden by the legion and as such something I can't do. Punishment at the edge of the Ten's blade is something I actively try to avoid as a rule. No disrespect meant to you you understand. As for your sword quest, you must know as well as any that tricksters and predictable don't go together. See that sword on my pack over there? It's a copy of Death that we got from one of the factions Ratty helped. Its just a plain sword, not magical that I know of but it should help complete your quest."

Krogar picks the blade up from Egil's pack and gives it a few test swings. "Nice, it might well do the job. Many thanks Egil. We can, I think, be allies even if not mystically."

Graylor calls to Gerras "Heads up!"and then tosses the daggers Randalla purloined to him. "What do you make of those, in a magical sense?"

Gerras studies the blades for a few minutes before he answers "You understand I'm not a shaman and would have to take these to Mokwaha One-eye, his tale of woe is one to hear, for a better knowledge of them but these two have each got a powerful spirit of some sort in them. This one had a spirit but its been released, I can't tell if it will return
or not though. Mokwaha might be able to answer these things. We can ask him when we are next in the pens."

Randella watches the examination of her prizes rather wistfully. "Black Fang spirits, I expect, and probably not very friendly. I think we can guess what the one that's missing did: remember how fast that thing attacked at first?"

Krogar is also watching thoughtfully. "Very obviously Black Fang, too. You're all fairly new to the city: you do understand what effect showing those will have here, especially if their former owners are now dead?"

Dori smiles happily. "Oh, yes. There's all sorts of interesting opportunities there. Simply returning the collection to the organisation in question might have the best results, especially if we tell them who had collected them."

Randella goes pale. "You wouldn't!"

"Wouldn't I? You have a message to deliver: encouraging you to leave Pavis, fast, and not return, sounds like an excellent idea to me."

Ailrene has remained silent, apparently terrified, up till now, but at this point she breaks in. "No, you wouldn't.You do your own killing, you don't delegate it."

Dori looks at her with surprised respect. "Correct. And at the moment, you're both slightly more useful alive than dead, so you get to live. I suggest you make the most of it: if I find you're hanging around the city instead of doing the job you've been given, your usefulness will be over."

"Right." Randella stands up, beckons Ailrene to follow. "We'll collect our gear, and be out of the city in an hour. Happy?"

Dori nods. "Satisfied, anyway."

As the girls leave, she turns back to the rest of the group. "I think that concludes our business here? We need to get Egil back to the temple to finish off his quest."

"Now that buisness is concluded I find myself rather thirsty. How about a flagon or two of ale and something non-alcoholic for Dori. Irnar would you do the honours?" Graylor asks the group. He flings a purse at Irnar and using hunting signs tells him. "Folow the vixen to their den!" There being no sign for women! Irnar gives a bawdy wink to show he understands. The same message is passed to Dori and Egil via swordspeach with a request for approval.

A nod from Dori is enough to ensure Irnar leaves quickly. A cheerful "Hey, ladies wait for me!" can be heard by the rooms occupants as Irnar chases them down the stairs. Putting an arm round each his flirting is mercifully drowned by the noise coming from the bar below.

Irnar continues to flirt with the girls, offering to help them pack and the like until they reach the bar. Where he "remembers" that he is supposed to be getting drinks. He lets the two Vingans leave as he is ordering but keeps a cat's ear out for their progress. He then follows using all his skills to keep on their trail but not be noticed by them.

As soon as Irnar steps outside Gimpy's he realises that they are expecting to be followed. The have moved far quicker than he anticipated. He could just see the dunmantle disappearing down an alleyway off Salt Street. Quickly he tries to catch them, he is closer but they have looped back on themselves he next sees them recrossing Salt Street and heading down the ally that Graylor lost them in. Thinking that he mustn't do the same he follows, half wishing that they would slow down so that he could enjoy the view, and half wishing for the chase to continue, stalking human prey was much more fun than the animal variety. As soon as he passes the dog leg in the ally he realises something is wrong. His hunters instincts tell him he has lost his prey. Indeed there is no sign of any women, dunmantle or not in the ally ahead nor in the street at the end. Cursing his poor abilities, Irnar doubles back and spots something that Graylor missed. A gap between buildings, scarcely big enough for Irnar to put his arm through. He peers into the space not expecting to see much, But there, a couple of feet into the gap, unmistakeably is a thread. Irnar gently gathers it and it is rewarded with a dull grey thread made of goat wool. Somehow they had gone through the gap where he couldn't follow.

Back in Gimpy's, Dori has been sipping her lemonade as if barely noticing either it or the conversation going on around her. She looks up at the sound of Irnar's footsteps on the stairs, and while his crestfallen expression tells everyone all they need to know, she doesn't seem that bothered by it.

"You lost them, I take it? I can't say I'm surprised, they're very good. They've just gone into Jareen's..." she laughs. "And now they're alone, they're saying what hard work it was to lose you. Nice job."

She's concentrating again, listening to something a long way away. "Packing, I think - floorboards lifting, they had something hidden there... cloth rustling, they're probably changing clothes. And out they go. Now, where...? Crook Street, Holy Street.. they're heading for the Vingan temple. I won't try to follow in there, temple defences will spot me."

Her focus comes back to the room and the other occupants. "Krogar, would you like to help out at this point? If you have a sylph waiting for them when they leave the temple, you should be able to follow them as they leave the city - I'm assuming a Wind Lord can do more with the wind, and at greater range, than I can."

He nods. "I'll see what I can do. I was going to go over to my own temple in any case, I may see them in person. That was the North Wind at work, was it?"

"Well, the Truewind, yes. Emphasis on "true" rather than "north", in this case. I'm no expert as yet, but it can be quite useful at times." She stands, draining the last of her lemonade. "We need to get Egil back to his starting point and his quest finished off before any more complications introduce themselves. Get in touch through the Humakti temple if you find anything, would you? I'll be interested to see where they go next, though I doubt if they'll be obliging enough to lead us directly to anyone important."

The trip back through the cellar, the tunnel, and on zebra-back to the camp is uneventful, and Dori notes with some amusement that this time, no sylph follows them. "I don't think he ever did work out whether I'd spotted him or not," she remarks. "Let's keep him guessing."

Egil is still feeling that strange doubling of reality: he is a tired young man riding a zebra in hot sunlight: he is also a dark figure walking through cold, shadowy halls. Both of them hold a sword, and he clings to that as a grip on reality - which reality? Together, they descend the stairs, inrto the cool and silence of the temple, and as the two realities become more like each other, the dissonance between them becomes almost painful: two notes that almost but not quite match, two visions that don't quite line up. He wants to rub his eyes to clear them, but knows that his physical vision is not what's affected.

Then they're back, standing next to the pallet where he had woken to find his sword missing, and Dori takes him by the shoulders. "You should be able to come back yourself," she says, "but let's be sure."

And she... pulls him? Pushes him? It's the same movement she's used in the past to reset a dislocated shoulder, and brings the same sense of immediate relief from a strain that he hadn't realised had been with him for days - weeks?. He's back - his two halves are one. Not missing, his sense of the Other is still there, but now he's whole, complete, his magic as much a part of him as his hands.

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