Pavis back

Back to the Rubble

Irnar drops behind to ensure that they are not being followed. The others make their way down Sword Street to the farmers market and then follow the wall south to Hind Alley and avoiding the Stom 'n' Brew head into the back of Bobs Bisonburgers. At the front door they meet Irnar and quickly make their way to Gimpy's and making sure they are not observed through the tunnel and out to the relative safety of the rubble.

"Apologies to you Urush. I didn't get you the beer you were hoping for. I think you'll find that there is good ale at the camp that will have to be my recompense to you."

The tusker's face splits in a broad grin.

"Well there's something you don't hear of everyday, a camp full of death fanciers with decent ale. You'll be telling me you've got women that don't have faces like a barrel of hatchets and a dice game that's only half crooked, next."

Urush chuckles filthily, obviously greatly amused at his own wit.

"I'll be certain to take you up on that ale though. If your camp's got its share of fair-hair's kind then strong drink'll be a bleedin' necessity, lest the weight of all them serious faces turns me bollocks into boulders."

Once out in the fresh air of the zebra pens, they find Dori waiting for them, and a dark, bearded man who half the party will recognise as Oddus. There seems to be a slight argument going on.

"Are you going to stop this fussing at some point?" she's asking wearily. "I don't need a bodyguard, or a nursemaid, and this is getting silly."

"The alternative was that Kristen came instead," he replies, with a touch of amusement. "She wanted to go right into the city to find you."

Dori winces. "Being as inconspicious as a Babeester Gori can manage - yes, I can just imagine it."

"In any case," Oddus adds, "you need to get used to having someone following you around at all times, needed or not. That's what happens with important people - like hundred-thanes."

"Yet another reason to delay that, then."

She turns to greet the new arrivals, smiling: a tall, lean woman with the pale blonde hair of Sun County, though Sun County women don't usually have Death runes tattooed on their faces. "He passed the first tests, then? Thought so." - then, to Khan - "Nice work on Hengist. Exactly what you'd promised, delivered with precision and efficiency. I think the odds on temple duels may change a bit after that little display."

The sword on her own belt isn't much more substantial than the reed blade: a light Esrolian blade, part-way between an Orlanthi longsword and the almost needle-like thrusting blades they use down there for duelling.

The Lankstaner gives a stiff half bow. "I sufficed. From your words it would seem introducing myself is unnecessary, but there you have the advantage of me."

"Oh, sorry, I rather assumed this lot would have told you who you'd be meeting. Dorinda, ten-thane in the Legion, and currently their commander, though that may be about to change. I'm afraid I had to fade out of sight rather fast back in the temple - we didn't want the Lunars starting a fight where innocent bystanders would get hurt, and they probably would have if they'd spotted me."

She runs her eyes over the group, pausing at Urush but making no comment, and looks back at the tunnel entrance beyond them. "Is that all of us? Egil will be a while, I expect, he can escort Abul back, and this should be a big enough group to keep even my nursemaid here happy."

“Yes I am sure they will manage. There will be five of them after all,” Graylor agrees, “and with Gerras in the party he will make sure that they have an escort, or a place with his people overnight. At least their travel will be cooler.”

"Usual route, I suppose... and you know, we ought to either use another exit for a bit, or scout out another safe path. Getting into habits can be dangerous. Still, better the devil we know, for today."

As always, it's hot: it's not far past noon, and Yelm is almost overhead. Even Dori, native to the area, is trying to stay in the shade where possible, and the few swirls of breeze just raise the dust rather than cooling.

Khan strides through the ruins mechanically, the high sun throwing sparks of light off his armour as he moves. As he walks, the slit of his helm tracks tirelessly left and right, scanning for enemies.

In contrast, his smaller companion is a bundle of nervous energy. Urush scampers silently through the broken stones, curving away from the body of the group in seemingly random lines before swinging back to the main party. The little tusker leaps from rock to rock like a gazelle, carefully placing his feet so at to leave no tracks of his own. Catching sight of some seemingly random swirls in the dust, Urush halts suddenly and sniffs the air. Bounding sideways he swiftly scales a column of shattered stone, drops flat on his belly and inches forwards to peer down into a maze of low walls below.

They're about half-way back when the Legion members present get that all-too-familiar stab of warning from the wyter. The Sword senses preparation for an attack - somewhere.

The sight that greets Urush's gaze is not to his liking. Seven awful hybrids are ranged around the rocks below, armed and alert. Four are shorter than a man, although made taller by the long curving horns of the sable antelope that adorn their heads. Clad in filthy leathers and bearing curved swords and bucklers, each also sports a curious scarlet cape across hunched shoulders. Their fifth companion is naked and vast, a massive bulk clad only in its own thick grey hide. This creature apears almost headless, its entire face formed of a huge single horn. It clutches a jagged scimitar almost two yards long in one titantic hand.

Bile rises in the tusker's throat as his fevered gaze flickers across the war party. Squatting in the dust some yards from the main group is a true horror, vaguely man shaped and covered in black and white hide reminiscent of a zebra. Instead of the clean stripes of the zebra, this thing's skin is a riot of geometric patterns that make Urush's head ache to look at. It's sinewy arms end in equine heads instead of hands, while from its neck arches the glossy black stinger of an enormous scorpion.

The last of the seven stands with an aura of command, marked out by its coat of bronze mail, once the property of an unfortunate lunar judging by the filthy regimental flashes on the shoulders. The thing has no face, just a forest of disgustingly pink fleshy tendrils from brow to chin, all of them in constant motion. Above its ruined features rises a twisting forest of branching antlers, each tipped with a single eyeball. This nest of eyes blink and scan the stony defiles as the foul creature gestures with one of the scimitars it holds in either hand.

Urush silently shuffles backwards with a snakelike motion, turning to frenziedly gesture to the group below.

Khan steps a pace to better see the tuskers hand signal. This stride puts him at a lucky angle to the gaps in the walls, and he catches sight of horned heads and red cloaks within. Dori has apparently seen the same thing. There's something glinting further back that seems odd, too.

Khan speaks in a whisper as he watches the tusker's hands.

"Seven....chaos....goat...penetra...Seven broo."

Graylor is just picking up the itch that indicates chaos is nearby, as Khan is translating Urush's signals. Without hesitation Graylor starts organising. “Sorry Dori but you need to stay back, you’re too valuable to be in the front line. Oh, and next time we need to trust your suspicious instincts! The rest of us let’s make a line, but ready to encircle Dori if needed. Irnar, see if you can find out what’s beyond these overdressed broo. Something tells me we are in more trouble than just broo.”

As one might expect, Dori does not take kindly to the idea of being out on the fight. "I need to what??? You have got be...."
"Right", Oddus interrupts, as he moves to her sword side, his shield covering her. Santhis closes up on her shield side, the huge Templar-style shield he prefers dwarfing hers. Now at the centre of the shield wall, her objections stop and she watches Graylor's leadership with interest.

Graylor nods in approval of Oddus and Santhis reactions. He takes position by Santhis on his outside and motions for Khan to take the other end. Thus two experienced fighters taking the rolls of "wall end", the most vulnerable positions in their small group.

Khan steps smoothly beside Oddus, the runelord's kite shield precisely covering the bearded warrior's open side. Heat flares across Oddus' cheek as Khan clears iron from leather in a cross-body draw that is truely beautiful in its fluidity. The Lankstaner holds his burning blade in a curious horizontal guard, projecting outwards at forty-five degrees from the corner of the rapidly forming shield wall.

Meanwhile, Irnar has run silently around to where that single glint had come from, his whiskers twitching as he does his best to think and sense as Yinkin would. There's somethng blurring his vision... but not on the other side, and the scent isn't blurred at all... there they are! A small group, what had glinted was the sliver shields, positioned just in javelin range of the main path as soon as they stop crouching behind that wall.

And that's when the broo charge.

Irnar keeps to his hidden position and readies his bow, sticking several arrows in the ground in front of him to allow maximum speed of firing. Quietly he prays to Yinkin to keep his aim true. He launches his first arrow as soon as the broo charge. The second is on its way almost before the first hits anything. He keeps firing until the group start to come to him, when he plans to draw them away from Graylor until the broo have been dealt with. Typical tactics he has employed when he was in the Whispering Swords Scouts.

Happily noting that the broo below him seem entirely lacking missile weapons, Urush cheerfully remains atop his rock pillar, unslinging his huge bow as he stands. Malevolent habit ensures the first arrow between the little tusker's fingers bears a dark and sinister crusting on its flint head. Muttering epithets that even a broo might deem slanderous, he slides the arrow gingerly back into its quiver, swiftly replacing it with a barbed hunting arrow from the second quiver laced across his lower back. Muttering a brief incantation, he nocks the arrow just as the broo begin their charge. Urush's huge shoulder muscles bunch and twist as he draws back his monstrous bow and looses his first arrow at the pullulating face of the many-eyed broo-captain, who is hanging back from the main attack, content to give orders from what he imagines is safety.

Urush's first arrow finds its mark, sinking into the fleshy ruin of the broo captain's face with a sickening squish. The half dozen tiny mouths that tip the creature's antlers give vent to an ear splitting screech as it drops one of its blades and tugs futilely on the barbed shaft imbedded in its head.

"Two goats short their dancing partner tonight, handsome" Urush mutters to himself as he wings another arrow after the first, grinning with murderous glee.

The giant grey-plated broo breaks left from its fellows as the hybrids charge, powering into a headlong rush at the corner of the Humakti's shieldwall. Khan watches the thing hurtle towards him, motionless except for the shaking of the ground itself as the creature's huge feet slam into the soil. As the fetid stench of the broo's breath washes over him, Khan slices diagonally with his burning blade, striking with surgical precision at the inside of his onrushing opponents knee. The giant broo appears to take to the air, the momentum of its forward rush turning into a ragged cartwheel as its leg goes out from under it. Even as it topples it manages a reflexive one-handed slash with its huge blade,smashing a ringing blow onto Khan's shield that almost drives him to his knees while spoiling a fluid thrust that should have impaled the beast as it fell.

The giant broo slams into the earth with an impact that sends small streams of rubble skittering down from the shattered walls that surround the combat. Seeing that the centre of the shieldwall has repulsed the main charge, Khan pursues his downed foe with two fluid strides, his sword held high. The rhino creature is hideously fast for its bulk, rolling to its feet and hewing sideways in a monstrous double-handed swing even as the runelord approaches.

Graylor is new to the shield wall, the Whispering Swords, where he learned to truly fight never used one, preferring the hit and run tactics traditional to skirmishing units. Being close packed, even at the end of the row, still felt unnatural. He preferred the freedom to move, still there was a job to be done. Graylor looks in fascination at the array of beasts erupting from the ruins heavily warped by chaos: you could easily be entranced by their myriad forms, but Jalmar taught his knights to assess the dangers clinically. The unfortunate thing about this monster was that it has too many attacking options, it proved impossible in the ferocity of its attack to defend all its attacks. In moments Graylor finds himself attacked with both heads simultaneously, and only too late does he see the stinger descending for an attack too. He sidesteps to the right to avoid the downward strike only to be prevented from moving by Santhis, holding his own position in the wall. The stinger penetrates through armour and into his left shoulder, ripping a shout from Graylor as the caustic venom is pumped into him. Graylor still has enough presence of mind to slash at the stinger with his sword, forcing its withdrawal, even as the force of the blow and the pain is dropping him to his knees.

Murmuring prayers to Braveheart, asking for help to keep standing in the sheildwall and to Jalmar to slow the spread of the poison, Graylor rises to his feet once again to face the horror in front of him. Knowing that the injury means he will have to finish the fight quickly Graylor searches for an opening where he can let Jalmar's magic destroy the monstrosity confronting him.

Irnar is frustrated by the sudden movement of one of the javalin throwers. His first arrow misses the man but clatters noisily on the rubble, the second hits a hastily raised shield. Irnar had hoped for more. A mutter of alarm reaches Irnar's sensitive ears, some turn round scouring the landscape for the lone archer. "At least the men have their attention split between me and the fight," Irnar thinks.

He sees the leader of the group give orders, and two of the javelin-men detach from the group and head in his direction. He may be slightly concerned to notice that they've got dogs with them.

Seeing two men with cursed dogs with them he directs his fire at them. Rapidly launching an arrow at each he drops behind his current cover and quietly dodges into another ruin, giving himself time to summon Yinkin's magic to grow claws and teeth. He prepares to leap out on the unlucky Lunars.

The remaining... however many, he never did get a proper count.... now take action, and that means throwing javelins. Magically screaming javelins. It doesn't sound quite like a Howling Doomwind, but quite bad enough. For some reason the leader's decided Khan is bad news, and aims at him.

Khan stops as he enters his opponent's range, standing stock still for a split second as the giant blade whistles towards his head. With an almost lazy motion he slaps the flat of the huge scimitar upwards using the top edge of his shield, diverting the strike harmlessly over his head. The rhino-thing's momentum smashes its own wrists onto the edge of Khan's cunningly placed blade as it follows through with the swing. The creature's armoured hide saves it from losing both hands, but the iron bites deep and the air is flooded with the stench of boiling blood and burning hair as the beast's blade drops from its grasp. Khan steps forwards, his point on a perfect line with his disarmed adversary's eye, when a screaming javelin drops out of the sky and thumps into the Lankstaner's unshielded shoulder. Khan's mail prevents the missile from piercing his flesh, but the impact numbs his arm and diverts his thrust, allowing the broo to partially recover.

Khan drops into guard and pivots gracefully on his back foot, bringing his shield around to face the direction of the unknown javelin thrower. His sword arm moves rather stiffly as he readies himself for another strike. The giant broo lowers its head, bellowing in fury as it hurls itself forwards in a savage attempt to gore its foe.

Graylor only just deflects the next attack with his sword, but as he does so he feels a sudden release of pressure in his shoulder followed by an oozing sensation down his chest. Fearing that he has burst blood vessels in his shoulder he gives an experimental swing of his sword and realises that most of the pain has gone and everything is working fine. Praising Jalmar he launches a blistering series of attacks with both sword and shield at the monster driving it back and even managing to stun one head briefly as he catches it unawares with the edge of his shield. The moment he makes this opening for himself Graylor hears the screaming javelin but has no time to react before it slams into his chest. Fortunately his blessed armour doesn't give way, but he is severely winded and will have a nice big bruise come the morning.

In the centre, the antelope broo had been badly beaten up, and no longer have their leader driving them forward. They start to retreat.

The rest of the flight of javelins is at the shieldwall in the centre, now clear of antelope broo. Despite their shields, both Dori and Santhis are slightly hit, though Oddus deflects a second javelin aimed at Dori.

Meanwhile, Urush has an injured target to shoot at. The little tusker's second arrow follows his first with uncanny accuracy, piercing the broo captain's upraised wrist and nailing it to its head with a meaty thunk. The chaos beast pitches over backwards, its free hand and hooves beating a frantic tattoo in the dust as it continues its horrible screaming.

Moments later the air is filled with yet more hideous sounds, heralding the javelin volley of the hitherto concealed silver shields. Urush drops flat on his belly in fright as he takes in this new foe. Muttering "Sneaky murderous bastards" with a degree of grudging respect, Urush slithers off his rock and drops into the maze of defiles below. Slinging his bow back on his shoulder, the tusker pads through the rubble in a low crouch, almost moving on all fours. Every few steps he pauses and sniffs the air, before continuing on, flitting from rock to rock as he circles around behind the javelin throwers.

Graylor (who took over command and then forgot it) may be ignoring the javelin-men, as is Khan, but Dori has reformed the centre group: Santhis is covering all three of them with his shield, while she uses a mix of Truewind and Death magic against the javelins, and Oddus supports her. The North Wind howls, blowing the javelins back and off-target, and two turn to grey ash as Death touches them. One actually hits one of the fleeing antelope-broo.

Graylor and Khan both have minor victories against their foes, and despite peering over their shoulders for javelins, are safe from them - Dori saw to that. The zebra-scorpion broo, dismayed at the lack of effect its poison had, and the discouraging lack of support from its comrades, starts to retreat.

Graylor, who has had little time for thoughts other than survival, aims another flurry of blows at the broo in front of him. Sensing the broo’s loss of interest in the battle he lets the broo back off and flee shaking its puzzled heads. Half a step back takes him tightly into the shieldwall again. Whilst scanning the area for enemy actions, Graylor thanks Dori.

“Thanks for blocking those blasted javelins.” Seeing the broo in retreat and not just regrouping he continues. “Let’s pay those spearmen a visit. Shields high, in close formation... Let’s go.” He adds as an afterthought. “Besides, I was always taught that it is impolite to leave a lady waiting!”

As they advance on the javelin throwers Gralyor quests forward with the Truewind trying to catch what their opponents are saying. Certainly the woman has a lot to say.

Urush has had a major victory in sneaking round to a good spot behind the javelinmen - despite the dogs sniffing, they have no idea he's there.

Irnar had a minor victory with his last two arrows, but didn't do so well at hiding, those dogs are on his scent. His ambush works quite well, though not as well as he'd hoped. Marginal victory, and take out one of the two dogs (since they got there first).

Irnar would have been enjoying himself but for two facts. The one remaining beligerant dog and his inability to see how the rest of the group was doing. He steals a quick look at the spearmen and catches sight of the Lunar woman. He has time to think “Yinkins whisker’s she’s cute! Pity she is a Lunar.” before having to concentrate on the final hound.

Anyone who can manage a "spot bloody obvious" roll will notice a new figure appear from hiding behind the main group of javelin-men - a stunningly beautiful woman, in Lunar uniform but with no weapons drawn, is striding up to their leader and apparently berating him in New Pelorian.

Graylor, who has had little time for thoughts other than survival, aims another flurry of blows at the broo in front of him. Sensing the broo's loss of interest in the battle he lets the broo back off and flee shaking its puzzled heads. Half a step back takes him tightly into the shieldwall again. Whilst scanning the area for enemy actions, Graylor thanks Dori.

"Thanks for blocking those blasted javelins." Seeing the broo in retreat and not just regrouping he continues. "Let's pay those spearmen a visit. Shields high, in close formation... Let's go." He adds as an afterthought. "Besides, I was always taught that it is impolite to leave a lady waiting!"

As they advance on the javelin throwers Gralyor quests forward with the Truewind trying to catch what their opponents are saying. Certainly the woman has a lot to say.

Irnar would have been enjoying himself but for two facts. The one remaining beligerant dog and his inability to see how the rest of the group was doing. He steals a quick look at the spearmen and catches sight of the Lunar woman. He has time to think "Yinkins whisker's she's cute! Pity she is a Lunar," before having to concentrate on the final hound.

Javelins fly, and bounce off shields - the close formation does what it's intended to, and the aim of the throwers isn't as good as before.

Graylor tries to use the Truewind to call the Truth of the Lunars' words towards him, but it blows out of his control, leaving him hearing only the rustle of dead grass under the hot sun. Dori is trying the same thing, letting the javelins fall on shields where they will, and tries to translate what she hears as the wind brings it to her. "She's saying they mustn't shoot their own troops, that he wouldn't treat his own men like that and We Are All Us even Broo... it's coming through, so she must mean it. Then him... no, most isn't Truth, I heard the word "accident", but not a lot more. Something from her about Sentient Resources..."
And then the Lunar woman's preaching is cut off by a scream, itself cut short, as an arrow from Urush takes her in the heart. She drops dead.

I guess the moving shieldwall will continue to do so until they can engage the enemy.

Having disposed of the cursed dogs Irnar returns his attention to the wounded handlers. This is his game, cat and mouse in the ruined buildings. His Yinkini perception allows him to hear the progress of the men as they puff and scuff their way through the rubble. Irnar plays with them hiding and pouncing from high to deliver a single blow before retreating into cover. Doubling back and attacking from the rear, hissing, biting and scratching only to disappear before the duo can turn round. Always striking from a different angle, his silent movements never letting the men know from where he is going to strike next. Turning them round and round so that they become scared of their own shadows and the few creatures that skitter from shady spot to shadow as the men disturb them.

Urush is scuttling off into hiding and checking out if he's being pursued, then moving to a new shooting position if no-one's coming looking for him (and the nominations for this year's award for most brave and heroic combatant are.....)

Khan's still tied up with the rhino.

Dori's covering you all with the Truewind again - none of the javelins get through.

Some bad rolls elsewhere, though - minor defeat for Urush, they know roughly where he is now.

Minor defeat for Irnar, too. They're not scared, they're making rude remarks about cats.

This is the point, though, where the Lunar leader looks at the unstoppable force coming towards him and the archer on his flank, and yells something that anyone who knows much New Pelorian will recognise as an order to retreat. Two of his men pick up the body of the slain woman, the two who had been harrassing Irnar reluctantly go back and rejoin the group, and they all start to move back into the cover of the buildings and away from the road (and Urush). The broo have already scattered.

Khan should have joined back up with the shieldwall by now, so he'll follow Graylor's lead on whatever the wall is doing.

Urush will make a quick run for the buildings the Lunars are retreating into (harassing the fleeing is up there with bayonetting the wounded as far as his favourite combat activities go). He's figuring he can move a lot faster than armoured men carrying a body. He's trying to get ahead of the retreating Lunars and into a nice ambush spot so he can slow down the body carriers.

Graylor looks on the retreating Lunars with mixed emotions, relief to have survived another fight, anger at the Lunars for another ambush, but mostly confusion and worry about why they were attacked.

"Let's run them off a bit. I would like some questions answered so le'ts see if we can capture one of them alive." Graylor commands. "Keep your eyes open for reinforcements. I don't want us getting into further engagements."

Irnar hears Graylor and unhooks his lasso from his belt. He circles ahead of the Lunars and waits, idly whirling the rope, for the pair carrying the dead female to come close before he casts his lasso at the nearest.

With Irnar coming up, Urush will concentrate on slowing up and harassing Irnar's targets, trying to force them to take routes with harsher terrain so Irnar can catch them.

Irnar was looking to loop the lasso over the guys head and chest binding his arms to his sides but instead the guy saw Irnar at the last moment and stuck up his arm, getting only his arm caught.

Seeing Irnar successfully snare one of the corpse-bearers, Urush lets fly a rapid stream of arrows at the surrounding Lunars. Judging by the speed he's loosing his shafts, Urush isn't aiming with particular precision, but he does appear to be thoroughly enjoying himself, cackling quite dementedly between shots.

You're all close enough now that when they're shouting at each other in New Pelorian, you can hear it, and in Graylor's case at least, understand it. Here's some extracts - it isn't exactly a coherent and ordered conversation.

"They're not supposed to have archers!"
"Oreros, whose side is that girl of yours on?"
"Ipharia, help us!"
"Sod this, drop her and run!"
"Cut that rope!"

That last comment is accompanied by the leader swinging his scimitar at the lasso, and while he does manage to sever it, the trailing rope is still around the victim's fingers and will prevent him using that hand. Not that he needs a hand, for running away, and that's what they're all doing. Urush's archery is slowing them as they dodge arrows, but they're unexpectedly good at that.

As the Lunar soldiery scatter into the cover of the ruins, Urush abandons his archery and slings his bow. Swiftly scuttling across the broken terrain he stands astride the corpse of the fallen priestess, bending to twist her long hair in his fingers as he unsheathes a serrated bronze blade. With grisly efficiency he severs her head, holding the gory trophy aloft and grinning horribly before knotting the slain woman's hair through his belt. The little tusker then sets about looting the body with practiced swiftness.

Irnar looks on with some disgust. "What are you planning to do with the head? Back in camp we have a Devotee of Babeester Gor, she will take a dim view of mutilation of female bodies. Though she doesn't have the same aversion to mutilation of male bodies... dead or living!"

Urush grins, a little uneasily.

"No head, no coming back for her. Head goes where they won't find it, easier than carrying 'er body"

"We have Humakti for that. When they bless a corpse then it isn't going to be reused by anybody!"

Irnar replies as he sadly coils his lasso.

"Look at that. The swine chopped off at least three feet, it wont be the same now and it took me ages to find the right rope to make this from. Oh well, I guess that I will have to raid the stores for suitable rope."

The tusker glances at the head hanging at his belt.

"Hair makes best rope. You want 'er hair? Splice it in easy and it make strong magic for your snare, too"

"Maybe, certainly worth having a try. However, we should definitely bury the head before we get to camp."

Meanwhile Graylor turns to the rest of the group. "Why don't you pause here for a few minutes to bandage up. I want to see if these Silver Shields reveal anything more as they are escaping. Seems like Urush's arrows have loosened their tongues and minds."

Quickly he draws his bow and sets off after the fleeing Lunars. Firing the occasional arrow to keep them running and talking and using the truewind to bring their voices to where he is hidden.

Dori looks round at the slightly battered group, sighs, and pulls out her first aid pack. "You do that, but be sure you wash before you get back to camp. Broo, remember - I'm sure you know the drill."

The body holds little of value, armour and weapons are all poor quality, suitable only for making the paper pushers feel like they are part of the fighting force. Useful as paper weights and letter openers, but no use in combat. She does have a pouch of coins and a stack of papers, the ones she had been waving angrily at the Silver shields.

Irnar sniffs disdainfully at the papers. "Looks like more of those meemu things that Vesekor was so excited about." He mutters to himself. "Do you know Urush. Vesekor recons that the Lunar army doesn't march on it's stomach it marches on it's paperwork!"

Urush nods. "Papers have power. Urush learns that well from..."

A calculating look crosses the tusker's face and he falls silent.

Just at that moment the smells gathered in the sniff register in his brain. He has smelt the same thing before! A sniffs again, but this time properly analysing what his nose is receiving. Definitely the woman smells familiar, though nothing about her looks familiar. Then he makes the connection, the previous contact was watery. She was another ogre like the one that tried to drown Graylor a few days ago.

"Urush, I think it is a good thing you have taken her head. Perhaps we will burn it in camp, in a nice hot fire." He continues in a louder voice so that the others, especially Dori can here. "Guys, this creature was an ogre. It explains why the Silver Swords had such good control over the broo and why they were happy to leave her here... I wonder if they actually knew what she was? Probably, if they were willing to work with broo."

"Ogre eh? Urush will add this to long list of terrible monsters he has slain."

He grins broadly.

"What wench wouldn't want a slayer of ogres in her bed, eh?"

"I don't usually have any problems there, my friend." Irnar grins. "But then I'm Yinkini and most girls know what they are letting them selves in for. I try not to disappoint them!"

"Bosses want to see those papers, eh? And yes, burn head, bad magic there."

Irnar grins. "If it burns your head then don't think about it. I'll find you some ale to clear the pain when we get back to camp."

He puts his arm around the shoulders of the tuskrider as they turn to give their reports of the body to Dori and Khan.

Meanwhile Graylor is enjoying chasing the Lunars and keeping them running.

"Another archer? Keep dodging those arrows!"

"Catch me trusting Orlanthi intelligence again!"

"I thought it was the woman was supposed to be dangerous?"

"They set us up, got to be. Bloody clerks."

"One less, now."

"We can't just leave the head of Sentient Resources in the Rubble!"

"You got any better ideas? Keep running!"

"That bastard cat killed my dog!"
"We'll get him for that - but later!"

"Think the Marbles had a point?"
There's a pause after that.
"could be...."

Graylor returns to the others with a smile on his face. "It seems that the Silver Shields are feeling certain empathy with the Marble Phalanx." he reports to Dori. "Both feel as if the Legion is the root of all their troubles, and both would prefer that we would disappear."

She grins back. "How sad.We haven't done anything much to the Silvers before though, have we? I wonder if they were trying to prove something?"

"What is worrying is that they were talking about using Orlanthi intelligence. Someone is or has been giving them information about us. They were definitely waiting for us and not any other group. You were right it is time to change our activity pattern, and minimise excursions into the city."

"Yes... who among the Orlanthi would do that, I wonder? And was the intention to harm us, or the Lunars? It sounds as if the information they got was incomplete, but that's hardly surprising, Khan and Urush are a new factor. Using us in an involuntary ambush in order to take out Lunars is... come to think of it, all too familiar, but surely they wouldn't be using her of all people as a source of intelligence?"

"One other piece of information they let slip is that the lady.." Graylor pauses as he notices Urush's new decoration. "..that Urush is now wearing was the head of Sentient Resources for the Rubble. Looks like they are recruiting the local chaotics to supliment their losses." Glancing the papers in Dori's hand he continues. "I guess that those may give us more details."

"They may, but I think I know who she was - Vesekor said something about her. Niosais. She was trying to extend the Lunar inclusiveness to extremes, and make sure the new recruits were treated as equals. It wasn't all that popular with the normal troops, as we can see. He may be able to identify this unit for us, if we got any names. I heard mention of someone called Oreros - did you get any more? Come to think of it, that name rings bells, and I can't remember why."

"You're right there is a familiar ring to the name. It will come to me in a while. The only other thing they mentioned was that you were supposed to be the dangerous one, not the rest of us!"

"That's been a common myth since I got lucky on the Cradle, took out the Marble champion," she says absently. "Don't take it too much to heart, them being mis-informed is good."

OOC note: this was posted on 01/04/2011, at about 09:30, and the final part at 11:59 the same day.
As they examine the body, they're aware that it's getting a little cooler, and not quite as dazzling - a welcome cloud blocking Yelm from view, perhaps? A breeze starts up - probably Dori playing with the icy North Wind again. She doesn't usually cause shadows, though... and the first person to look up will realise that what's blocking Yelm's rays isn't a cloud. Not unless clouds have huge, slowly-flapping wings, anyway. There's some very big flying creature approaching from the north-west, and while at the moment the silhouette makes it look black, the edges of those wings are a reddish colour - crimson?

This is visible from anywhere in Pavis. Anyone who was in Whitewall will recognise it. The mega-aura of fear it projects hasn't quite got here yet.

Near the LM temple in the New City, Abul sees it and thinks, "Not that thing again !!!! oh no !".

It gets closer, it gets more and more obvious that it's Bat-shaped. And then there's a loud POP!!!!! and it explodes. Little bits of cloth fall out of the sky - not much, but some. Somewhere to the north-east - probably a long way away, but loud, and carried by the wind, someone's giggling - but even that is cut off short, with what might have been an "ouch!".

Dori breathes a sigh of relief. "Somewhere over there, there's a Trickster who's pretty good at illusion magic, and whose boss is now annoyed with them. I think I know who."

His report delivered he switches to other matters. "Would you mind looking at my shoulder. That blasted scorpion tail got me. fortunately I think my magic negated the effect of the poison but would appreciate a second opinion."

Inspection shows a nasty puncture wound, quickly stitched up, but no trace of the chaotic poison.

A few things click in Graylor's brain while Dori is patching him up. "This was all set up against you, and who have you annoyed the most recently? Rana and her mistress and that is where we have heard Oreros' name. He was the sweating guard that Rana was busy knocking off. Looks like information is going both ways on that deal."

"Irnar, report!" Graylor calls to the hunter. As soon as the Irnar approaches Graylor starts. "What the hell do you think you were doing? You were sent to scout, and that means reporting. A warning that they were throwing javelins would have been the least you could do."

Irnar looks abashed, or at least as much as the irrepressible man could manage. "Sorry boss. It wont happen again."

"Too right it won't. You can get rid of what is left of the woman's body. I don't think that they will be back to collect her, but let's not make it easy for them if they do," Graylor commands and Irnar leaves to hide the body in the rubble.

Turning to Khan, Graylor asks. "How do you like Legion life? We certainly don't have a dull existence! Unfortunately we seem to have a habit of getting right up the noses of the Lunar forces, it's a real shame." The latter is delivered with a melancholy expression belied by the twinkle in his eyes. He is able to hold the expression for only a few moments before a wicked grin appears.

Khan looks up from scouring carbonised broo blood off his blade.

"Aye, you seem to have no lack of opponents, chaotics at that. Your thane..."

Khan indicates Dori with a tilt of his head.

"...seems well skilled in commanding the wind, most useful when facing foes who would fight at a distance."

The Lankstaner absently fingers a spot beneath his collar bone.

"She is a priestess of Orlanth?"

"Dori? No she is a Devotee of Hereward Truewind, the patron god of our group. Hereward represents an aspect of Humakt, but one that didn't sever his links with the Storm Tribe and thus kept his control over the North Wind. More will be explained back in camp if you are interested," Graylor replies quietly.

As he is talking to Khan Graylor notices that Khan's left eye is bloodshot, showing up darkly against his pale blue iris. There is no sign of a wound but his face is splattered with blood. "I fear you have been unlucky Khan. It looks like some of the broo blood has gone into your eye. It looks like you may have been infected. Let me take a closer look."

Graylor calms the panic that always tries to manifest whenever he is dealing with broo infection. His sister's pale face and blond hair superimpose themselves on Khan's pale face and blond hair. It is difficult for Graylor to banish the dual image, but he does so with the aid of his lord. Gathering himself mentally, he caries out a detailed examination of Kahn's left eye, noting the yellowing of the sclera, the reddening of the upper eyelid and it's slight drooping compared to the right eye.

"Yes you have definitely picked up an infection in your eye. Let me think a moment."

Graylor sits back and his face empties of expression and Khan gets the impression that although Graylor's eyes are open they are no longer looking outward. After a minute or so of meditation Graylor's eyes refocus.

"We need to find out what the infection is, but there are hardly any real symptoms to asses it's nature. I think I have a way, but haven't tried it before. I need to blow the Truewind in your eye to test the nature of the infection. It will not harm you but will be unpleasant to keep your eye open. The longer you can manage that the better chance I have of discovering which infection you have."

Khan seems more impressed than surprised that Graylor possesses healing talents in addition to his skills as a swordsman. With a curt nod of assent, Khan holds himself motionless, his curious sky coloured gaze boring directly into Graylor's. Only a slight narrowing of the Lankstaner's eyes betrays any apprehension he might be feeling.

"Right, lets do it then." Graylor slips into his meditative state again to aid his concentration in this delicate operation. Once again he melds Herewardi and Jalmari magics. A gentle, focused stream of Truewind blowing into Khan's eye piggybacking the Jalmari chaos-knowing magics test the true nature of the infection.

Dori half-turns to watch, feeling the Truewind in use.

After many long seconds the wind dies and Khan blinks rapidly to rehydrate his eye.

"You have wasting disease." Graylor says simply.

"Dori," he calls, "do you have any remedies for wasting disease? Khan got blood in his eye and the disease has just started to take hold. Have you anything that I could put in his eye? I have the normal ground starwort roots, but I can't apply that directly to his eye and the infusion he would have to take will leave him feeling sick and weak for several hours."

"Sorry, no, I'm only carrying the standard kit. Benlan will have something when we get back to camp, but the only alternatives I know of would be even less suitable for treating an eye, I'd leave him blind for sure.

"You know, you should talk to Benlan about the way you were using the Wind just now - you were combining it with your... other magic again, right? Clever."

"Yes, the two magics seem to blend together well. I'll look up Benlan when I have time if you think it's worthwhile." Bendrek replies

"Sorry Khan you're going to feel pretty rough for the next hour or so. This stuff is normally packed in infected wounds, but you are going to have to drink an infusion of the stuff and that isn't fun. The good news is that it works."

While he speaks Graylor deftly measures out a small amount of a gray powder into a beaker of cold water. The stuff fizzes leaving a disgusting looking gray liquid.

"Normally I'd put this in mead to disguise some of the taste, but I am afraid you will have to have the stuff neat."

Graylor is favoured with yet another short nod, as Khan seizes the beaker and drains the contents without another word. His eyes widen slightly in appreciation of just how vile the liquid is, but he quaffs it without displaying visible sign of distress. Khan returns the beaker to Graylor with a slight bow.

"Bravely done!" Graylor admires Khan's fortitude. "Now you have about a minute to sit down before you fall over! All your muscles will stop working. How about here against this wall?"

Graylor directs Khan to a comfortable spot in the angle of two walls which hold the now helpless man upright.

"Don't speak. But in a few minutes you will want to throw up. If you can keep this dose down then I will not have to make you drink another. Your body will start to come back under your control in about an hour, but I would recommend leaving it for a couple at least."

Just then Egil and his two companions come bounding into sight. Egil looks grumpy and mutters something about everyone else getting to have all the fun. Gerras on the other visibly bristles at the sight of the broo corpses then looking at Khan says to Egil, "Hurdu must be called, our shaman is great with curing broo diseases. And should he fail at least he is on friendly terms with Daka Fal. I will go and fetch him and we will ride like Urox's storm back to your tents.

With that the Praxian turns and speeds off through the Rubble. Egil shrugs at Graylor and Khan, "We'd better get you back to camp then, I guess this Hurdu knows his onions and will fix whatever is wrong with your eye. Who were this lot anyway? I had most of the Marbles running round the new city after me."

"Once we're back at camp we'll have Benlan to deal with things, and he can cure just about anything that's curable," Dori remarks. "Still, he may be interested to meet this Hurdu."

She peers back the way they'd come. "Is Abul not with you, and Yenda? We don't want just the two of them going through the Rubble on their own."

Egil's forehead creases with concern that he may have let the legion down, yet again, and tries to explain to Dori "Sorry, no-one said what their plans were. We just legged it around the city for an hour or so and once the bloody Marbles had got lost headed back to the temple. Everyone was gone so we thought it best to head for home."

Mauvin shrugs "You know what he's like, no such thing as a subtle hint with him. Better to get the Bull to bellow his hints for him."

"Not a problem, we'll send someone back for them later. What is a problem is having one of us helpless and immobile for an hour. Even with you here, there's not enough of us to guard against a serious attack, and at least two lots of enemies know exactly where we are and how many of us are here. Time to do something about that, I think."

Once more, she calls up the North Wind, this time taking her words elsewhere rather than bringing those of others to her. Messages go on the wind to Vur's headquarters, and to the Legion's base: she has listening stations established at both, now. Vur arrives first, with a few guards, and her simple explanation that the Lunar Head of Sentient Resources has turned out to be an ogre is more than enough to capture his interest. Shortly afterwards, reinforcements from the Legion turn up, complete with healers and stretcher-bearers. By then Khan is already able to move again if not to stand unaided, and after a final check from the experts that everyone is indeed disease-free, they all head back "home".
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