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As the conversation turns serious Karrath Sing-and-Die grins at the Far Walker before making towards the temple doors. The word that liberty was until sunset spread quickly amongst the gathered Hereward. They knew the drill well and split into small groups before heading out for food, mead and other pleasures the desert city had on offer. Stowing their gear Aelfwyrd, Hrolf, Vastyr and Malan catch up with Sing-and-Die outside, in the stifling midday heat. The Pavisite walks slowly and keeping to the shade casually points out the sights. Pausing to pick up some indiscernible meat from the fry shop known as Bob's Bisonburgers, the group meander on.

Karrath deliberately ignores the main routes through town, "less eyes and ears" he offers knowingly. Instead they pass through the Suntown area where they are watched closely by several hard looking youths with gold armbands. They neither speak nor interfere with Sing-and-Die but eye the newcomers closely. Sighting the old walls the Humakti head off in the general direction of Gimpy's.

Turning into Salt Street there is a big crowd around the entrance tunnel to the Inn proper. Sauntering up to the back of the throng Karrath looks over at what was the largest Uz the Herewardi had seen since Geran's time. This, he assures was Crush, a Great Troll and the resident bouncer.

"What's the beef Crush?" Karrath yells over the din.

"Yoose and yer mates get in now", growls the mountainous Uz. The briefest of glares from the bouncer parts the crowd sufficiently for Karrath and co. to make it through. "Blonde burd init" says the Uz matter-of-factly.

The group squeeze through, and go down the stairs, then along the tunnel and back up some more stairs before finally entering the Inn's common room. It is a decent tavern; plenty of tables on the wooden floor, fireplaces and torches throwing enough light to see. A combination of smoke, mead, stale sweat and other more disturbing aromas linger in the air. The usual crowd, if there was such as thing, was in today; villains, adventurers, cutthroats and chancers. All present and correct.

This cruel country has driven me down
Teased me and lied, teased me and lied
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died

Once I was scraping the tops of the walls
Kind words in my ear, kind faces to see
Then I struck up with a group from the West,
Hunted for gold, hunted for steel.
They left me for dead and fled with the rest.
My dreams have withered and died

Silver coins roll up and silver coins shine
Over the Rubble so wide, Rubble so wide
Stole from me all that I could say was mine
My dreams are withered and died

If I was a butterfly, live for a day,
I could be free just blowing away

This cruel country has driven me down
Teased me and lied, teased me and lied
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died


Karrath spots a decent table, near the bar and good distance from the stage. Ordering a round of mead and some stew from the kettle they wait for the entertainment to start. The Blonde Piper was here from lunchtime and as just as the flagons arrived she launches into her signature song, The Pavis Adventurer's Lament. The whole room sings along.

As the song ends the applause, whistling and shouting goes on for a good five minutes. She announces a break to much good-natured
disappointment from the locals. At this point the room is quiet enough to talk.

Necking his flagon of mead with gusto the Far Walker belches loudly before lowering his voice.

"So, what news Karrath?"

"We can gossip on the freshness of the local Uleria women in good time. But for now I have a serious question to put to you all" Karrath looks about then begins to talk in a low voice.

"I say we take it to lunars, right here and now. I was talking with Wolfhelm last week, he sees this as well, but we need more swords if we are to turf them out of the city for good."

"And, well know that the Legion are here ..."

"We are here for Standards Day" offers Hrolf cautiously.

"Agreed, but this is a chance that cannot go begging." continues Sing-and-Die enthusiastically "Word has it that Sor-eel is on his way out
after we gave it to them on the Cradle. What with Redmoon's Lancers out of the way and other two city regiments down on their luck the
city is wide open, don't you see?"

Aelfwyrd looks at the Herewardi and shrugs his shoulders.

"Let me draw it out for you lads. Since the Cradle there is not much left of the Ingilli Guardmen nor the Longspear Slayers. The Marble
Phalanx is in disarray what with Hucipites and a good cut of his men slain. The Silver Shields are licking their wounds and there is talk
of in fighting with the Yelmites. That leaves Jorjar and his Constabulary, which is not saying much.

"That's still a lot of Lunar infantry, some of it heavy," offers Vastyr

"Yes, but hear me out, this would be no set battle, rather a skirmish on the streets. Streets that we can choose," and necking the remainder of his mead Karrath continues a-pace.

"I know for sure that Govoran's men are with us as are Magan's and Hargran the Dirty would have the Royal Guard see it our way as well.
That leaves Holburns Axes Brothers and Jordons Scouts, both of which have been sold out by the lunars too many times. Then there are the rubble folk such as Gusan the Brand and his Tarsh boys that are up for it."

"Now that the Legion is in town we have the upper hand and someone with the stones to take on Radak"

There is little response from the Herewardi and Malan frowns, "Never heard of him".

Karrath raises an eyebrow "The Iron Centurion? The leader of Sor-Eel's private bodyguard?"

Just then the ancient face of Wyredd bobs into view. As he approached it was agreed by all at the table that Siggr's ageing valet was sprightly but game for an old giffer.

Looking each ways Wyredd picks up a flagon of mead and takes a long draft. Wiping the foam from his mouth he smacks his lips before
continuing in a low voice.

"Word from Siggyr. He says to watch your backs, especially you Malan. The Marble Phalanx are looking to settle the score from the Cradle"
then nodding at the Kargani's strange looking hell metal axe, "that is not exactly discreet is it now?"

"Marble Phalanx?" says Malan, trying to remember one individual among the many he has killed. "Oh yeah, the officer. Some people take death so personally! Would have been nice to know that before we came here."

Draining the remainder of his flagon the valet takes another quick look around "Anyway, best be getting back, lots to sort out before Lord Illig arrives. You boys keep your noses clean and be sure to be back before sunset. Siggyr wants everyone present and correct," and eyeing the assembled group slowly, "and able to at least stand - or there will be hell to pay."

And with that Wyredd scampers off, back in the crowd and out through the Inn door.

"That's right, it was you lot that cut up the Marble Phalanx lads wasn't it. Now that was a fight I can drink to" and with that Karrath yells over at the bar to get in another round of mead.

"So, what's the story with you and that stuck up bint, the one with the spear?"

"Seledd is one of the Legion Hundreds, the Second Cohort. Here like us for Standards Day." Vastyr offers cautiously, keeping his own
thoughts on the woman to himself.

"Well I suppose it can't all be rosy in the Legion...Humakti women with long shafts eh? What's the world coming too?" Sing-and-Die finishes with a smirk.

Just then the mead arrives "Down in one" suggests Karrath and swiftly necks his flagon without stopping for air. The rest of the group dutifully follow suit and there is silence for a short while.

The Far Walker belches what appears to be the opening line of a filthy poem before running out of gas. Laughter breaks out from the
group as Aelfwyrd order yet another round of mead.

"So what about the Pavis Humakti Temple. How many could we count on?" asks Malan.

"Tell you what, Derenx is in bed with Sor-eel and everyone knows it. Not bad in a duel but moonie through and through. That leaves Aurel
who like most sane men will abide the Lunars and their fawning ways. I only wish he was twenty years younger, for he is too cautious and
stuck in the past to bring anything to this fight but talk."

Just then the Blonde Piper returns back on stage to much cheering and whooping from the regulars. Before the set starts Karrath draws the
group in close and winks before whispering. "So, we mean to take back Pavis lads, are the Legion up for it?"

Hrolf grins at Malan's wit, then puts his hand on Karrath's shoulder. "It is not we who decide went to fight, Karrath. We are soldiers. I would be honored to fight by your side once again, but others ... of whom we shall not speak," here Hrolf looks deliberately into Karrath's eyes, "guide my blade. Come - a toast! May your blade run red with blood," Hrolf winks, "and your mouth stay closed!"

The Far Walker has been quiet since talk of taking back Pavis but now his demeanour becomes suddenly dark, the humour draining from his face.

"I would stand with Urgi, my once cousin and avenge Fritjorf, Eric, Willandring and Kurash. That they fell on the Cradle to the bent sword of Sheplekirt will be avenged. I would return to their Tula and sing of Pavis streets awash with crimson. I would sing of vengeance made good."

Hrolf looks concerned at the noise and meaning of this talk and jumps in before things go too far. "This is no small skirmish you ask us to join. We are the Legion of Hereward and it is the Warleader who must decide on this matter."

There is silence around the table for a heartbeat. "I for one would fight this very day yet Hrolf has spoken the truth of this matter. We are Legion and under its command," says Aelfwyrd bitterly.

Sing-and-Die looks thoughtfully at the gathered Herewardi before gulping back the last of his mead. "So, you would have me put this to Illig Stargazer?"

"If you need the Legion's swords you must speak with Lord Illig," confirms Hrolf, clearly glad that at least one potential avenue of trouble has been blocked, well at least for now.

Karrath does not look all that impressed but keeps his own council. Ordering another round of mead the rebellious talk seems quickly forgotten as the group wolf whistle their support of the curvaceous Blonde Piper.

"Ah, here comes Jamal! A toast! A toast for Jamal!"

Jamal stomps into Gimpy's in what is obviously a foul mood, and makes straight for the bar.

"What have you got here that's drinkable and not fermented from bison's milk?" Jamal has no love for the nomad practice of drinking everything that comes out of their beasts.

The barman looks Jamal up and down, nods, and puts a large carafe of a red liquid on the bar.

Jamal grabs it and takes a large swig. A wine, rather resiny perhaps but perfectly acceptable. He smiles gratefully at the barman and drops a couple of coins at the bar.

His mood lightened, Jamal acknowledges Hrolf's hail. "Sup up comrades, we're up for the Star Watch tonight, and tearing a strip off the empire-loving sort who run the Humakti temple here. We've got a good show to put on for Illig."

The rest shift to make room for him, Malan grumbling a little at the lack of space in the bar as he tries to follow the advice to keep his axe out of sight. He looks around, "and on top of that this place is way too small to hold all the troops."

"Hmm, yes, we do have far too many people for here or the temple. We might have to stay outside the city walls. I wonder if the Riverfolk could help us find a place to stay?" says Hrolf.

"Okay, I guess they'd be willing to help, 'my enemy's enemy is my friend', and all. They must have some presence in the city, and I'd like to keep us inside if possible. Barkeep, whereabouts would we find the riverfolk in this town?"

The barman stumps over, his pegleg thumping on the floor. "Riverfolk? Over in Riverside, where else? North side of the city, next to the river - there's a surprise, eh? Just follow the smell of fish. It's a rough area, the Watch don't go there, but," he surveys the assorted weaponry leaning against walls, on belts, under the table, on the table... "looks like you people should be able to cope."

And then he looks again. At the Seven Dragon Blade, which isn't exactly normal, or easy to hide. At Malan's rather strange axe. And at all the Death runes around the place. He looks back at Jamal. "You were in here that night - with Jarang, right? Wanting weird stuff to make some brew or other. An' the descriptions... it was you, right? Did in the Marble Phalanx?"

He lowers his voice, not enough to look suspicious, but enough that other groups in the bar won't hear him. "We don't want trouble in here. An' if you're still here when some folks come in for the evening, there'll be trouble, soon as they see you. I never saw you here, an' I never heard anything about you heading for Riverside, but I can't speak for what others might have seen. This round's on me - but it's the last round, right?"

Jamal regards the barman evenly, glances back at Karrath and some of the other clientele of the bar, then returrns his gaze to the barman.

"Somehow I find it impossible to believe that this place is a stranger to rebel activity..." he pauses "...... yet these are dangerous times, and prudent businessman keep their heads down at such times. I will endeavour to ensure that if there is trouble here, we are not the cause of it."

Jamal collects the round of drinks and carries them over to the Legion's table.

"Looking at the place it would probably be best if we find billets or at least disperse into a less recognisable group. At least until Star Muster tonight."



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